Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Raven’s and Swords

 

Je me souviens-the motto of Quebec; we will remember.

Ah yes, just about the single most common phrase ringing from any minority crying out for revenge against the terrible crimes of (everyone else alive, and anyone on their side who doesn’t fully agree with them). Oddly enough everyone self defines as a minority for this purpose, making the one great unifying truth of humanity is that everyone can look back and feel they alone have suffered.   Memory; remember the wrongs done you, but be very selective my children, lest you recall the crimes of your own forbearers as well, or hear the cries being directed towards you by those survivors of their victims.

Memory

We are quick to put this on our flags, our swords, our skins, and whisper it into the ears of our children.  Remember the terrible things that happened to someone else long ago, because this will give you the defiant pride to be turned into a weapon by the first idiot who wants to use them to commit terrible things today.
Remember 9-11, remember the Alamo, remember Culloden, Masada, Thermopylae, the fall of Jerusalem, the sack of Lindesfarne, Amritsar, Hiroshima and the Plains of Abraham.  Gods forbid you should ever really look at the history before and after for context.

Ravens

There are two Raven’s who fly throughout the world to bear Odin’s messages, Huginn and Muninn.  Thought and Memory are their names in the tongues of today, and how interesting it is that the one we carve in the tongues of our blades, into our skin, onto our licence plates, flags, banners and political dogma is Memory.

 

I love Odin, and I love my blades.  I have seen his truth, lived it, and I know well the stench of open guts, blood rotting on the ground, the odd stiffness of the corpse.  I have seen ravens and crows wheeling above the feast and understood the truth; the Battleglad does not care why we slaughter each other, we do it for reasons that are entirely our own, he does not need to whisper in our ears or raise the clarion call for blood, simply put, we have never needed it.  We feed the ravens in fact, the corpse eating birds grow fat and plentiful because we heed only one of His ravens, and not both.

 

Thought and Memory.  We find memory rich like mead or whiskey on the tongue, sensual as a lovers touch to fire our desires when poet or politician would arouse us to act, we carve it on our skins to dedicate ourselves to wrongs of the past, carve it on our blades and gunstocks as we prepare to commit the wrongs of the present in the name of the sacred memory of stupidities of the past.  Why is it we are so enamoured of the hot rich blood thick feel of Memory upon our tongue and upon our soul and so terrified of the ice cold calm of Thought?

 

Odin has more to his name than Battleglad, more to his nature than Feeder of Ravens.  He is the Victory Father; but why when we call for him by this name do we never also call him as Wise Counsellor or Truth Teller.

 

I can hear the non-Heathens already smugly assuring themselves this has nothing to do with them.  I hate to break this to you, it doesn’t matter if you believe in him, or his ravens, they believe in you.  You may not know you serve the ravens when you raise your hands to your neighbors; neighbors in other lands or neighbors in your own streets, but you lay the raven’s feast when you stir the strife that leads to burning cities and blood on the stones.  Raven’s have never lost a war.

 

Heathens ought to know better, but seldom do we find it any easier than other folk to give equal weight to the ravens on both shoulders.  Memory is ruled by passion, like sweet mead or the headiest whiskey it fires the blood and clouds the mind.  Thought does not look backward, but forward.  Thought soars from intention to consequence, looking beyond the passions to the price, thought looks beyond the hot words of politicians, demagogues, rabble rousers and activists and looks to the deeds that follows, looks beyond the swinging sword to the shattered limb, beyond the bright torch to the burned building, beyond the shattered peace to the shattered land.

Never forget, for the past is with us always and if we do not own it then we allow it to own us.  Muninn receives offerings from me, as I look to the past of my family, my ancestors, my nation, my faith for the inspiration to fulfil my duty to the present, and to help me remember my duties to the future.  Huginn receives offering from me as well.  Memory must always be balanced by thought, inspiration must never outstrip understanding of consequence or the future will do no more than rewater ancient battlefields with modern blood, layer another generation of hatred, waste and futility on all the generations of waste and mindless slaughter we so narrowly survived to get here.

 

The sword of memory is swiftly drawn and thirsts so much for the red life wine.  The sword of memory flashes bright in the sun and sings as it slays, caring little where it falls, only that it is driven by ancient pride and rage.  The sword of thought is different.  Drawn with reluctance it swings with the full weight of duty, falling with neither lust nor hesitation, a brutal necessity that accepts the cost of every stroke, and will not be sheathed save in victory.

Swords and Ravens

There are two ravens for a reason.  It is Odin’s to understand the inspiration of men, the ways of victory, even as the costs of the struggle are his meat and drink, so are all paths to victory his.

Memory reminds us of who we are, from whence we came, and lets us draw upon the rich strength of our line, of our nation, of our gods and faith to face whatever challenges we face today.  Thought soars ahead of us to seek the path towards a better tomorrow, a brighter future, a path away from the tragedies that scarred our families, our nations, and our history with needless suffering and loss.

I will tend my blades, keep them sharp and my hands ever skilled in their use, but I will understand when to heed which raven.  I will let Thought determine when my blade is drawn, and when my blade is to be sheathed.  I will not draw nor wet my steel for ancient wrong, for passion alone.  I will draw my steel only when Thought demands it, and sheath it when Thought requires it.  Memory shall fire my blood to face the steel of others, shall sustain me when wounds, fear, and exhaustion would bid me surrender, Memory will carry me through the fire, but I will never allow memory to light it.

I read the saga of burning steading and red steel vengeance as good poetry.  I learned the killing of men, of dead friends, the terrible cost of the broken and maimed from those who fed the ravens in my grandfathers and fathers generation.  I stood my time beneath the banners of my nation, and plied my trade with steel in my fist, knowing it to be a duty we were brought to by passion but carried out with the same cold calculation the raven’s have always exercised when feeding upon the fallen upon every tragic field our species has littered with the broken bodies that are the raven’s feast.

Odin is the god of poetry because those who have stood over the dead and the dying with work to do require something that can allow them to put all that they cannot unsee into a context we can live with, because there is always going to be work still to do.  Thought and Memory are both his, as his wolves Word and Deed are both his.  Thought must balance Memory, as Word must always be chosen carefully knowing Deed will follow. Odin is the god of consequences, of price paid.  You may choose to look at bright pages of angels and songs of high sounding rhetoric, but my own gods bid me look down at the shattered lives, burned out husks that once represented homes, businesses, dreams, and hope and consider long and well the costs before I speak, and before I act.

We will remember.  Tragically, we will always remember when we were wronged, never when we were wrong, we will remember victory, and forget the cost.  We will remember those who exploited us, and forget those who fought to bring justice.  We remember every face that screamed abuse at us, and forget so swiftly those who rose up in our defense.

 

It is hard to get passionate about a settlement that makes things a little better, building on a previous settlement that made things a little better, as through halting slow process a people struggle haltingly towards that great unknown destination of justice through tentative and halting steps.  Of the two ravens, Memory can soar unerringly to any place we have been, any wrong we have suffered or committed he can alight on, but Thought must seek in the mists of everchanging and ever weaving wyrd for that mythic land of justice towards which the wise stumble and the foolish believe they may simply name wherever they choose to stop.

It is satisfying to draw the sword and call for revolution, and frustrating to negotiate in good faith and imperfect practice to drive a people through evolution instead.  Memory looks like all ravens to the shiny bits, the juice bits, the bloody bits; soaring loftily over the vast stretches of context, peace and progress, decay and corruption, only to alight on blood and fire.

Thought is a harder raven to heed, yet the only raven that promises a destination other than the next blood soaked tragedy.  Memory is always with us, but memory cannot lead us forward to anything but a repeat of the tragedies of the past.  Thought and memory soar together through out sky and through our soul.  Bring them back into balance, bring us back into balance, so that we have a chance to steer our state closer to that distant star called justice, and in seeking that star find ourselves guided into lands far fairer in every sense of the word than our ancestors ever knew.

 

If you must grave the name of ravens upon your steel, your skin or your soul, do remember to balance thought and memory.  Honour the sacrifice of your ancestors, but draw upon it for inspiration to find a better way forward.  You must first let go the drive to avenge the past before you can ever be free of the chains of it.  Memory can never lead you forward, only Thought can.

 

 

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Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Disaster Relief: The Red Hammer Project

Red Hammer

The Red Hammer Project has been organized by The Troth to allow the Heathen community to come together and act to aid those affected by natural disasters.

It is not enough to pray for people in need, we are Heathens, and our gods and ancestors expect us to match our belief with word and deed, and for that purpose The Troth has established the Red Hammer Disaster relief project.  Beginning with Hurricane Harvey and Irma, and the wildfires that are burning through much of the Pacific Northwest, both in Canada and the United States, the Red Hammer is collecting funds to distribute to the groups on the ground administering aid to those in need.

 

Think globally but act locally is the spirit in which the Troth has long been organized, and with that in mind we are working with our local members to determine who is best addressing their needs on the ground and making sure those agencies receive the aid money we collect.

As Heathens, we are not the majority population in any region, but we are proud members not only of our larger Heathen community but of our local communities as well, their needs are our needs, their pain is our pain.  We do not look to target our aid towards our Heathen members, but to all in the affected communities.  Where the need is greatest is where the Hammer will be felt.

Through the Red Hammer you can be part of coming together with other Heathens to help in the face of the disasters facing us, using the collective strength of the community to make a real difference.  You are also able to determine how that aid will be directed, as once you follow the donation link

 

 

https://thetroth.org/donate.html

 

You will be offered the choice between

 

For Harvey relief: Choose “Harvey Disaster Relief Fund “Red Hammer”” option. All funds go to Harvey.

 

For Irma and Wildfire relief: “Disaster Relief Program Donations (other than Harvey).” These funds will be split in half at the end of the drive between those affected by the wildfires of the Pacific Northwest (Canada and US) and victims of Hurricane Irma.

 

Thor is the defender of mankind, it is his strength as symbolized by his mighty hammer Mjolnir which defends our lands from the Jottun of fire, ice, and storm.  We ask his aid and his prayers, but we do not pray for what we to not also work for.  Our people in the south and in the north are in need, there are people displaced from their homes, whose homes and livelihoods are destroyed.  We ask the gods for their support, but we take this opportunity to come together as a community and show our own support.
The Red Hammer is a tool for the Heathen community to come together and act to aid those in our communities who are suffering from natural disasters.  There will be more disasters that will fall upon our far-flung folk in the future, and they will find the Red Hammer again raised in protection.

I urge those who are able to give as they can, those who are in areas affected by disasters please give us your feedback about who is on the ground providing you aid and support so that those hands doing the most for your community can have our support in the doing.  For those who are not able to support at this time, I ask that you simply remember when the next disaster arises that you have an avenue open where your contribution can not only make a difference, but make it clear to the larger community that this aid comes from the Heathens in their community.  Let the larger community not only receive the aid we have always given as individuals, but let them see that this aid comes from the Heathen community, to promote a better understanding of the part we have always played in our local communities.

Thor defender

 

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Grief Counselling

Charles_Ernest_Butler_-_Death_of_a_viking_warrior

This was written for those who work as priests/priestesses in our community, but perhaps of equal value to those who are lay people in the community and wish to understand how to handle death in our community using the tools the ancestors left to us.

There is a lot that our ancestors accepted that we do not, they were much more comfortable with their mortality, but their definition of self was linked more strongly to their family than ours, so the context of their personal death was different than our own, and in many ways they understood death had less power over them than we are wont to give it.

We do have the tools to help with death in our community, and there is not really a great deal you have to understand before you are able to begin to apply those tools both in your own life, and in those you care about, to make a real difference in dealing with the death of loved ones.

Funerals and memorials are for the living, not the dead.  Understand this, understand the reason the tools exist and you will be able to understand how to use them to move through the agony of the loss itself and into the remodeling that follows.  I use the word remodeling rather than healing because healing implies that what was lost will be restored, whereas remodeling is the term used in rehabilitation after injury that denotes learning to understand, accept, and work with the reality that you are left with.  This is a better description for what we do in the grieving and morning process.  In the saga’s we have many indications of grieving that worked, that didn’t, and what followed from each path.  Let us start with GUTHRUNARKVITHA I The First Lay of Guthrun

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe27.htm

 

10-Grieving could not | Guthrun weep,

Such grief she had | for her husband dead,

And so grim her heart | by the hero’s body.

 

11-Then spake Gollrond, | Gjuki’s daughter:

“Thy wisdom finds not, | my foster-mother,

The way to comfort | the wife so young.”

She bade them uncover | the warrior’s corpse.

 

12-The shroud she lifted | from Sigurth, laying

His well-loved head | on the knees of his wife:

“Look on thy loved one, | and lay thy lips

To his as if yet | the hero lived.”

 

13-Once alone did | Guthrun look;

His hair all clotted | with blood beheld,

The blinded eyes | that once shone bright,

The hero’s breast | that the blade had pierced.

 

14-Then Guthrun bent, | on her pillow bowed,

Her hair was loosened, | her cheek was hot,

And the tears like raindrops | downward ran.

 

Here we see Guthrun initially unable to process the death of Sigurd.  Literally, the loss she felt was so deep and shocking that she is unable to even weep, unable to cry, unable to feel; so great is her shock.  In the earlier stanza, we see the women of the community coming together to share their own stories of loss, because it really helps to know you are not alone, you are not the first who have had the pillars of their world kicked away, and yet, these women too carried on.  This is not about showing how they lost more, so you should stop whining; this is about supplying context.  To show that such loss is a part of the world, that such loss is a part of such love.  Context is important, I would go so far as to say critical in grief work as you must place the death, the loss itself INSIDE the greater context of the life that was before you can accept the reality that you can not only move forward past the loss without giving up the person you lost, but that in moving through and past the loss itself and the grieving you can reclaim all the bright strands that person wove into your life already.  Grieving is not about healing the loss, nothing will fill the spot that is gone, but you will remodel around the loss so that you can retain all that you shared with the loved one, while moving forward into a world in which they live on in their words and deeds, in the memory of those around them, not in the body you just burned or buried.

 

Guthrun literally cannot make this step, cannot make this transition because she cannot let go the living man.  In order to accept that he is gone, she must look upon his dead face, kiss his sightless eyes, to accept that no matter how hard she fought to hold onto her living husband, he was gone.  What she held was simply the meat that his soul once wore.  Now she could cry, now she could weep and wail.  Tears, like blood, carry the poisons out of the terrible wounds we take when one we love is taken from us.  The dead simply die, it is the living who take wounds in their passing, for the dead are beyond all pain, beyond all care, while the living bear a wound of severity equal to the importance to your life of the person who just died.  Viewings of the body, funerals, these are about letting go of the corpse, about accepting the living person who you want is no longer contained in the body you are commending to soil, sea, or fire.

 

Death and Context:

All deaths are not created equal.  It sounds wrong, but it is a part of how we as modern humans are unaware of many truths our ancestors accepted.  The gap between what we think and what we feel can often make it impossible to deal with the feelings that seem to make no sense.  Death reveals to us the gap between the modern understanding of self, and the ancient understanding of self as our own Heathen traditions held it.  When you talk to a westerner, European, or one of the Australian, North American or other daughter colonies of Western Europe about the definition of self in the modern Christian era, you will find that the definition of self begins and ends at the skin.  The myth of the nuclear family is one of terrible power in our age, but of relatively recent vintage.  Our ancestors were a clan or tribal people, and the definition of self was not limited to their own skin.  The self was bound indelibly with the family, clan, or tribe.  When you accept that your definition of self extends to your bloodline , rather  than simply to your skin, the definition of selfish and selfless acts becomes blurry, and much of what we today would describe as heroic becomes merely pragmatic from the point of view that looks at the preservation of a self that extends beyond their skin.

 

The Christian looked at the Heathen warrior’s attitude about death and mistook them as being death hungry, when a more complete view would be were accepting that there would inevitably be a death for them, and not unduly concerned that a “good death” or death in the most glorified context of battle, is not to be viewed as entirely bad.  Part of that was the realization that given the choice, this is one of the “good options” to go out on; one your family would speak well of long after you were gone.  A larger part of the seeming fearlessness was the realization that death upon that battlefield did not threaten all of yourself.  If your self extends beyond your skin, and extends into your line, then if your children, your siblings, your cousins, nieces and nephews, your clan and your tribe endured, then so did part of you.  What you did to ensure their survival was part of guaranteeing your own immortality.

Our ancestors accepted that our body was not immortal.  Our immortality lay within the family and the tribe.  This gave some deaths a context that made them easier to accept.  Look at Egil’s Saga for examples of death and context as both a tool that allows us to accept it more easily, and as one that renders death infinitely more terrible.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/egil/egil56.htm

 

Egil’s Saga LV; Egil Skallgrimson’s beloved brother Thorloff falls in battle fighting on the opposite wing for King Athelstan of England against King Olaf and his Scottish allies.  Egil was brooding while all around celebrated survival and victory until King Athelstan gave him a gold ring taken off his own arm, offering praise and gifts to honour the loss of Thorloff

 

“The king said: ‘These chests, Egil, thou shalt have, and, if thou comest to Iceland, shalt carry this money to thy father; as payment for a son I send it to him: but some of the money thou shalt divide among such kinsmen of thyself and Thorolf as thou thinkest most honourable. But thou shalt take here payment for a brother with me, land or chattels, which thou wilt. And if thou wilt abide with me long, then will I give thee honour and dignity such as thyself mayst name.’

Egil took the money, and thanked the king for his gifts and friendly words. Thenceforward Egil began to be cheerful; and then he sang:”

 

The death of Thorloff was terrible, but the context of death in battle was one that he was prepared to accept, and the funery gifts made it clear that Thorloff fell in glory, his name won praise and gold from great kings, and would see him remembered with the greatest heroes in the hall.  Now Egil was not only free to celebrate the victory with the rest of the warriors, but free as well to move forward and take the gold won in Thorloff’s name to look after the needs of his remaining family back at home.  Funeral rites and rituals, insurance and estate settlement are all part of the process of grieving and morning, a practical element that cannot be overlooked or separated from the emotional.  Thorloff was not just a man, he was not just Egil’s brother, he was a father, a husband, and the support of all his dependants.  Egil needed to not only let go the living man, to deal with his own loss, but to see that the duties of him who was lost were themselves taken care of, that the dead be not dishonoured by those he left behind being not cared for.  Egil’s grief was bearable because Thorloff was a warrior who fell in battle, a good death.  His dependants would be cared for, due to the glory and gold he won in life, and his name would be remembered.

Ramp Ceremony

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe04.htm The Havamal tell us

 

  1. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,

And so one dies one’s self;

One thing now | that never dies,

The fame of a dead man’s deeds.

 

The death of a parent, a sibling, a lover, a friend is one that we can fit into context because we can make sure their name remains bright, their memory is cared for.  Context makes it better.  This is not always the case.  If our ancestors accept that our self is not defined simply by the limits of our skin but by our line.  This makes the death of a child harder.  We see not just the death of what they are, but the death of the future.  It is just that the young bury the old, not the old bury the young.  When Egil’s son drowned, he was far less able to deal with this loss.  This was a death out of context; neither the failing of a baby not yet grown into strength, not the failing of an elder whose life was done, nor the fall of a warrior in glory, or woman in birth.  This was a death of potential, the theft of a life that will never be.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/egil/egil82.htm

 

Egil determined to starve himself to death because he could not live with the death of his son.  It took his daughter deceiving him into violating his oaths to turn him from self destructive expressions of his inability to grieve, to actual expressions of grief.  As with the earlier case where Guthrun could not grieve until she looked upon the body and accepted Sigurd’s death, Egil could not bring himself to grieve until he accepted the fact that his duty compelled him to go on, and going on required the duties of the living to the dead.  It is these duties that serve to set our feet on the path to using grieving to remodel our own lives to accept the reality of the loss we have suffered, and which enable us to regain the loved one as part of our life, even if now they are no longer among the living.

 

“Egil heard these tidings that same day, and at once rode to seek the bodies: he found Bodvar’s, took it up and set it on his knees, and rode with it out to Digra-ness, to Skallagrim’s mound. Then he had the mound opened, and laid Bodvar down there by Skallagrim. After which the mound was closed again; this task was not finished till about nightfall. Egil then rode home to Borg, and, when he came home, he went at once to the locked bed-closet in which he was wont to sleep. He lay down, and shut himself in, none daring to crave speech of him.

It is said that when they laid Bodvar in earth Egil was thus dressed: his hose were tight-fitting to his legs, he wore a red kirtle of fustian, closely-fitting, and laced at the sides: but they say that his muscles so swelled with his exertion that the kirtle was rent off him, as were also the hose.

On the next day Egil still did not open the bed-closet: he had no meat or drink: there he lay for that day and the following night, no man daring to speak with him. But on the third morning, as soon as it was light, Asgerdr had a man set on horseback, who rode as hard as he could westwards to Hjardarholt, and told Thorgerdr all these tidings; it was about nones when he got there. He said also that Asgerdr had sent her word to come without delay southwards to Borg. Thorgerdr at once bade them saddle her a horse, and two men attended her. They rode that evening and through the night till they came to Borg. Thorgerdr went at once into the hall. Asgerdr greeted her, and asked whether they had eaten supper. Thorgerdr said aloud, ‘No supper have I had, and none will I have till I sup with Freyja. I can do no better than does my father: I will not overlive my father and brother.’ She then went to the bed-closet and called, ‘Father, open the door! I will that we both travel the same road.’ Egil undid the lock. Thorgerdr stepped up into the bed-closet, and locked the door again, and lay down on another bed that was there.

Then said Egil, ‘You do well, daughter, in that you will follow your father. Great love have you shown to me. What hope is there that I shall wish to live with this grief?’ After this they were silent awhile. Then Egil spoke: ‘What is it now, daughter? You are chewing something, are you not?’ ‘I am chewing samphire,’ said she, ‘because I think it will do me harm. Otherwise I think I may live too long.’ ‘Is samphire bad for man?’ said Egil. ‘Very bad,’ said she; ‘will you eat some?’ ‘Why should I not?’ said he. A little while after she called and bade them give her drink. Water was brought to her. Then said Egil, ‘This comes of eating samphire, one ever thirsts the more.’ ‘Would you like a drink, father?’ said she. He took and swallowed the liquid in a deep draught: it was in a horn. Then said Thorgerdr: ‘Now are we deceived; this is milk.’ Whereat Egil bit a sherd out of the horn, all that his teeth gripped, and cast the horn down.

Then spoke Thorgerdr: ‘What counsel shall we take now? This our purpose is defeated. Now I would fain, father, that we should lengthen our lives, so that you may compose a funeral poem on Bodvar, and I will grave it on a wooden roller; after that we can die, if we like. Hardly, I think, can Thorstein your son compose a poem on Bodvar; but it were unseemly that he should not have funeral rites. Though I do not think that we two shall sit at the drinking when the funeral feast is held.’ Egil said that it was not to be expected that he could now compose, though he were to attempt it. ‘However, I will try this,’ said he.”

 

Grieving: Emotions, truths, rituals, offerings, practices and practicalities.

 

Grief is a noun, but grieving is a verb.  This sounds like sophistry, but there is a really important message here.  Grieving is something we have to do.  Grieving is work, grieving has a series of objectives that must be achieved for the changes required to remodel successfully to be made.  One of the first things that you as a priest will have to deal with it the expectation of others that someone should “get over it”, or simply put, stop grieving.  Understand this is the equivalent of telling an athlete or soldier who has lost a leg at the knee that they should simply stop physiotherapy to learn to walk again without that limb, to learn to adjust their balance without a support they have always know, to learn to do again all those tasks that they are required to do with the support they have now, not the support they first learned to do all these tasks with.  No one would expect a one legged person to just carry on without going through a long painful process of relearning to work around what was lost, yet we expect people to lose an entire human being, and simply flip a switch and carry on as if that person that was as much a part of you and your life as a limb had never existed.  Grieving is not healing, it will not give you back the living person.  Grieving is remodelling, it allows you to move forward with the acceptance that this person is no longer alive, but as you complete the remodelling and process the loss itself, you make the dead again reachable, make those parts of your life that they shaped, filled, and brightened again accessible and as potently supporting as they were when that person still lived.

 

Grieving should not be sanitized, cleaned up, or edited out of respect for the dead.  Understand and accept this, funeral rituals, and grief rituals are for the living.  The dead are with the ancestors and under the care of the gods.  They are beyond our needs, but the living are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of death.  Grieving must be honest.  As a priest, one of the things that you can do to affect the outcome of grieving is to help the one who has suffered a loss to understand that all of their feelings have a place in grieving, and none of them represent a betrayal.  The reality is that sanitizing grieving is one of the most dangerous things we can do for spiritual or mental health in the period immediately following a death.

 

What emotions are natural?  Oh that one is not only a complicated one, but one that strikes deep into the gap between who we wish to be, and who we actually are.  This gap is like a chink in our armour, and as a priest it is our job to be without judgement as we help people to process those feelings they do not wish to admit they have.  If you do not admit you own the feelings, you will not be able to deal with them, and will not be able to remodel around the wounds these unadmitted feelings leave.  That is like healing most of a bone, or most of a tendon.  You are not going to be strong, as the part you could not admit to, and thus did not heal will forever be the point that fails, and harms you in the failing.

 

Love; love can be a negative until you have processed the loss.  The degree of love you feel can be overwhelming as it can drive you, like Guthrun or Egil in to refusing to let the dead go.  There is an irrational fear that admitting they are dead, or accepting they are dead is a betrayal; that somehow like Schrodinger’s cat, until you accept it, they are not truly gone.  What is true is that until you accept they are dead, you will never be able to get past the loss to be able to feel the love, because you are freezing yourself forever in the agony of the loss itself.

Anger; the person who is lost has hurt you, has betrayed you.  You depended on them and they are not there anymore.  Their loss is a wound in you, and they are the one that inflicted that pain.

 

Shame; this one is tricky, and really dangerous.  This is one of the big reasons priests are needed in the community to help with grieving.  Shame has a few sources, most of which are operating in a tangled mess in those dealing with a loss.  There is shame at the anger mentioned above.  There is shame sometimes generated by relief.  You can be relieved that a long expected death has occurred, and the waiting/fear is over.  You can be relieved because your relationship with the person you lost contained both love and anger, love and fear, love and resentment.  Relationships that are deep and long lasting will have strands of a thousand different truths woven through them, both light and dark.  We say that you should not speak ill of the dead, but the reality is that if we are to actually remember the dead, we must be honest about them, at least to ourselves.  You cannot process a loss fully until you process all of your feelings, the bright and the dark both.  Shame is something that we as priests can help our grieving members to deal with.

 

Fear.  This one is again rendered more potent by the strength of the relationship, and by its duration.  It is literally impossible for many people to envision a world without the person they just lost.  They cannot think of a world without the one they lost, and the fear of the unknown has always been the most potent and most debilitating fear known to humanity.  Fear of the unknown is dealt with most easily by practicalities.  The grieving process is mixed inexorably with the bureaucratic nightmare of dealing with the practical effects of a person’s death.  These very real tasks are terrible, because you cannot separate the practical task from the emotional reality of the loss, but this is also a positive.  With support from your community, dealing with those practical tasks takes you out of the terrifying unknown, and into the known (but unpleasant) and shows that you have the power to keep fulfilling your obligations.  You are doing something not only for the one who was lost, but to move forward in your own life.  Moving forward is a habit, as much as being terrified into stillness is.  The practicalities of moving forward are something you and the community can support the grieving person with, and this restores to them the ability to move forward and thus weakens the hold of the fear of the unknown.

 

Helplessness.  There are a few conflicting truths here.  You are helpless to bring the dead back.  You are not helpless to honour them, to reclaim them as a very real presence in your life.  This is where the rituals, offerings and practices come into play.

 

Funerals:

Funeral rituals exist to honour the dead, and serve the living.  Funerals bring us together as a people, as all those who shared the loss can come together to share in the grieving.  We are a people that believes in grave goods.  We are a people that make offerings to the gods, wights and ancestors with the belief that such things have real and lasting impact, that such gifts are indeed welcomed and returned in kind if not in form.  A gift for a gift is our way, and funerals are about shifting that reciprocal gifting relationship in form, while maintaining its essential nature.  There are two different levels of operation of the funeral; the public and the private.

The public portion of the funeral is about the grave gifts of glory, praise, fame.  The public portion of the funeral is about the worth of the one who was lost, and through this public affirmation of the worth of the one who was lost we see the power of what other faiths view as the coldness of Heathenry, but is actually one of its real and founding strengths:

 

78-Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,

And so one dies one’s self;

One thing now | that never dies,

The fame of a dead man’s deeds.

 

Death is the period at the end of a sentence, the silence at the end of the song.  Death cannot take away a single word you have spoken, a single deed you have done, nor unmake the changes you have made in all those lives you have touched, or that your words and deeds will inspire others to do in the future.  Death can kill the flesh, but it has no power to remove you from this earth while your memory is held bright, while those who live still remember you and still give thanks for the gifts you gave them in this life.  The public portion of the funeral is about proving to those who suffered the loss of someone that death has robbed that person of heartbeat and breath, but it has not, and cannot taken them from this good earth while those who still walk it cherish the words and deeds of their lives.  Funerals are not just a celebration of the life of the person who has fallen, but a placing of hard limits on the power of death itself.  Death is not something that begins with the last heartbeat and extends for all time; death is simply the moment of that last heartbeat, the fall of the chest that does not rise again.  The life of the person that was lost is infinitely greater than the death that took them, and it is coming together as a community through funeral rituals of whatever form that we grow to understand this.  The public phase is important for this realization, and for the support structure it gives us to share both our pain, and our strength.  In sharing with others it becomes easier for each of us individually to go forward.

 

The private portion of the funeral is not always a unified thing, sometimes different groups representing different aspects of the persons life will do this separately, as not all sharing’s are equally age or personality appropriate.  There is a very great temptation to place the dead upon pedestals, to choose to cherry pick our memories of them and remember only the fairest portions.  This is a natural temptation, and a dangerous one.  To do that is to place them forever beyond our reach as this pedestal will not admit close scrutiny, and will forever leave that person beyond your grasp.  You will never be able to reclaim them as a living part of your life, only a ghost that forever reminds you of your loss.  The private sharing is a lot like a really powerful sumbel; it begins with formality and dignity, and degenerates into sharing of truths, the true faces the lost one showed to us.  There are the ones that endeared them to you, not all of which are dignified, some of which are outright ridiculous.  The reality of love is that it is not always born of those things that you boast about, but sometimes in small simple, and outwardly foolish things.  There are the bits that infuriated you, the parts that are so much a part of the loved ones personality that everyone who truly knows them accepts that you could no more stop them from these infuriating habits than you could from breathing; this is a part of who they are, and you can all laugh about it as you share that you truly knew and accepted the lost person for who they were, not who you wanted them to be.  There will also be some sharings of darkness, of pain, of experiences that left you conflicted.  There will be some who are threatened by these sharings, and obviously the circle for this kind of sharing will be smaller.  The fact is that you must be honest about all the feelings you had if you are to process a loss, and move beyond the pain of the loss itself and reclaim the living presence of that person in your life.  When you are able to remember all of them, the light the dark the proud, the funny, then you can reclaim everything they gave to and shared with you, and they can become again a living part of your life.  What they shared with you cannot be taken away by death, and they can again become a living presence in your life.  If you put them on a pedestal, you will always and only have the real shocking pain of their loss, the reality that they are forever beyond your grasp.  You will have lost them in truth, through failure to process your own loss, rather than through the simple act of their death.

 

Offerings

 

Offerings at a time of loss are something that we as priests need to be able to identify, mostly so that we can help those who are dealing with the loss in their own ways to recognize the offerings of others, and find ways to make offerings themselves.  There are a lot of ways to make offerings, and some of them are not as obvious as offerings without some thought.  Tears are an offering in and of themselves. If a person was worthy of love in life, then they are worth of tears in death.  For strong men and women especially, the idea that strong people do not cry is a toxic teaching from a society that has lost its understanding of strength.  To cry when someone you love has been taken from you, especially when you pride yourself on not ever crying for yourself is to make an offering to the one who was lost that literally you would never make for any suffering or pain of your body, nor fear of your own fate.  This is an offering of power and worth, not a weakness to be shamed by.

Offerings can be praise, can be memories, can be sharing of parts of the lost one’s life you may not have been aware of.  In sharing how the one who was lost has touched each life differently you are raising the worth of them, and literally stealing more from death, granting to them more of what death cannot take away from them.  This is a very real and powerful form of victory.

 

Offerings can be practical.  Not every person is a poet, or is comfortable with expressions of outward emotions.  There are large numbers of people whose offerings in time of grief are baby sitting, casserole, house cleaning, errand running, paperwork, banking assistance, baked goods, or carpooling kids to school or activities.  This is a very real statement that you know they have felt a loss, you are doing what is within your power to take from their shoulders the burdens you can take up, so they can better deal with it.  Grieving is a verb, verbs are actions, actions require energy.  Those who take up your burdens in part while you grieve are freeing up your energy to better do that grieving.  These sorts of offerings are quite often greeted not with thanks but with anger by those who are comfortable with emotional expression as they believe it constitutes being unfeeling, or uncaring.  The opposite is in fact the case, but not everyone has the same expression of emotions.  Some people emote, express their emotions through visible displays.  Others must express their emotion through practical action.  Both are valid, and as a priest it is part of your job to gently show how each is offering “first and best” as they know how to do.  It is not always easy to see when you are in great pain that someone is making a worthy offering if the form is not one that is familiar or comfortable to you.

 

Practices and practicalities

 

The closer you are to the person who was lost, the more likely it is you will have to deal with some of the bureaucratic nightmare of the death paperwork.  Until this is all done, and it will take over a year in most cases, the death itself is not fully over.  The practicalities of dealing with the death give you a very real window for how long at a minimum you will be processing the death.  At the end, you have closure.  The death is over.  The emotional roller coaster of the dealing with the physical possessions, and legal leftovers provides a very real way to let those emotions burn themselves off, while providing a real focus for the attendant energies to do something with a practical and knowable result.  This combats the feelings of helplessness as you are actually doing something.  This provides a chance for community and family to provide physical assistance that allows an emotional sharing of the burden through the physical mechanism of practically sharing the burden.  Working things out internally is often easier when it is expressed through actually working something out practically.  Cleaning is a very useful tool this way.

 

Tending of graves, altars, memorial stones, making of memorial crafts, photo collections, gardens are all very real ways that we can blend the physical actions of the practical world with the emotional and spiritual aspects of memorializing, remembering and offering to our dead.  Each of these actions allows us to extend that reciprocal gifting relationship into a form different than the one we shared with the living person, but equally real.  This is another way to finish the remodelling by making a new place for the dead person in our life moving forward.  We cannot bring back the living body, but we can make sure that they remain a part of our life going forward.  They dead are only lost to us if we choose to allow it.  Through the grieving process we learn to let go the living person, to accept the body no longer holds them, and allow the pain of that loss to be bled out of us through the process of grieving until we can let go the loss itself, and reclaim the place that person has in our life, and will always have while we remember them.

 

Healing leaves you as you were before, pain free and exactly as capable as you were before.  That we can’t do.  That is magic the gods don’t even promise.  Remodeling is what rehabilitation professionals refer to as the process by which you deal with injuries that make permanent changes.  That is what we are doing with grieving.  We are remodeling, the terrible scar of the loss is slowly remodeled into a more functional form that admits that the person is no longer with us, but allows us to access those gifts and strengths they left us.  As priests, we cannot do the work for someone else, any more than a good physiotherapist could, but what we can do is use our knowledge and experience to enable those in our care to have the most favourable outcome possible, to be able to reclaim as much of the loved one as they may, as they move forward in their lives.

 

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

In the beginning, there was one

So far Christianity, Heathenry, and even the Greco-Roman understanding of the origin of the cosmos agrees.  Where the difference creeps in is what this meant to the monotheist versus the polytheist.  To the Christian, Muslim, or Jew, the beginning singularity is “big G God”, Jehovah, Allah, or whatever you wish to call him.  To my own Heathen ancestors he was Ymir.

 

The Judeo-Christian group sees the unity that begins as being worthy of all worship, as being the sole possible focus for devotion, sole source for truth.  We try not to giggle when this view is expressed, because those who hold it find deep meaning in it, and we try not to offend.  To us, it is literally impossible to comprehend why they think so.

In the beginning was Ymir, neither male nor female, neither good or evil, Ymir was literally all that was, and therefore it was impossible to determine self/not self, form and formless; impossible for identity to exist, impossible for awareness, virtue or vice to exist.  In the beginning the universe was one, physics agrees.  The big bang pretty much did away with unity, and gave the universe differentiation.  To the Christians, unity spoke and brought forth stuff because he could, and wanted to.  To the Heathens, and many other polytheistic pagans, the universe began with unity, from that unity came the first primordial beings, and their first act upon achieving identity was murder; from the destruction of Ymir was built the material world, and the primal forces that drive the interactions of matter within it.

Death of Ymir

 

We don’t worship Ymir; his slaughter gave rise to the universe, and made possible the ability for the universe to be experienced as form and formless were now separated, matter and energy were now separated, from the mist of Ginnungagap formed the spirals of galaxies, the birth of suns, the creation of planets.

 

The primal forces of fire and ice, creation and destruction, order and entropy are given name as Jottun, or giants to us, Titans to the Greek and Roman.  We know they are the primal forces of existence, and yet we worship them not.  They do not care; they are, their nature is pure and elemental, and no offering, no plea, no prayer will turn them aside from following their nature, so our ancestors didn’t bother trying.

Ice and Fire

The universe is more than matter and energy, there is something more to it, something spiritual.  There is a higher order, a deeper meaning, a thing that stretches beyond matter and energy, something that survives the transformations between states.  It has always been my belief that the rising order and complexity of the universe represents on some level the universe attempting to know itself.  Ymir could not know him/herself as in unity there can be no understanding of self, if there is no thing that is not self.  Unity is not perfection, it is indistinguishable from nothingness.  Unity is not divine, it is meaningless.

 

Our lore tells us from the Jotun or Titan came forth a new race, the race of our holy gods.  They did not create the universe, they were born from it as it increased in complexity, arising as necessarily and inevitably as gravity follows mass.  These beings, in our lore, these gods chose to put their will upon the worlds and the primal forces within it and create a place where ice and fire were balanced.  Those who study planetary formation and life sciences call this the liquid water zone, that place where liquid water can exist, and where, as a result, life can form.  Our gods did not kill off the Jottun, they created a place where the primordial forces were balanced, but they did not destroy them.  Oddly enough, it is the existence of life that stabilizes the liquid water zone, and leads to conditions on earth, rather than those of Mars whose water was bound by the oxidation (rust) cycle rather than the carbon based water cycle.  It is the existence of life, of the liquid water zone that allowed plate tectonics to continue, that allowed the cycles of fire and ice to continue on earth long after they died on Mars {1}

Dead Jottuns of Mars

The gods are not credited with creating life, only conditions where it could arise.  They are not credited with creating us, only seeing in us something that called out to them, and granting us gifts so that we could rise to achieve a higher understanding, both of our world, and of them.

We did not worship our gods always, nor were our gods always worthy of worship, or even interested in it.  There was a time before either of us existed.  There was a time when they existed and we did not, and there was even a time when we were far from being able to perceive them in any but the most halting fashion.

 

Are we not the universe written small?  What better model of the universe attempting to understand itself than mankind.  We who were given the gifts of inspiration by Odin have used that gift to seek to understand our universe, our place within it, our own nature, to find our purpose, and to wrestle with the truth that once we were not, now we are, and one day, we will cease to be.

 

Our gods are not eternal.  Every act of creation begins a cycle that must end in destruction, every birth prophesies a death.  Who better to be our guides in this mortal existence that gods who understand this mortal limitation, who chose to take that step to bind themselves to wyrd, to subject themselves to the wyrd woven by the Norns, to fate, to death itself, by daring to create this place of balance, by daring to limit primordial chaos and bring forth the order that made life possible.

 

There is no one face to divinity, for when the universe was one, it was unknowing, unknowable, ignorant, and as devoid of worth as it was form.  The gods and goddesses, the divinity as we experience and know it is not fixed and permanent, is not “as was in the beginning, and as shall be eternally”; the only thing that is eternal is the cold and silence of the void.  Non-existence is unchanging, existence is change.

 

My gods were not always, nor was my race.  Heck, the human race is less than 200,000 years old, barely a blink in the existence of the planet, less than that in the existence of the universe.  How long have we worshipped our gods?  Really a tiny fraction of that.  As a species, our understanding of our universe and ourselves has been growing as fast as our biology and our lifespan will allow.  As we grow, and as we have the luxury to explore our world and ourselves, our awareness and understanding grew, and changed.

Different gods found different tribes, some of these may well be different understanding of the same gods, shaped by different peoples experiences and understandings; some are just obviously different gods.  Its a big complex universe, if you want simple answers you will just have to accept being closer to wrong than right most of the time.  The truth is something we generally understand in painfully limited fashion, each new understanding being a halting step forward from the last, and an unimaginable distance from full comprehension.  Some of our steps are not advancements, but mistakes; that is the wonder of humanity, no matter how far we have come, each generation knows we have far further to go than any of us will live to see.

I am a hard polytheist, I accept that our gods are discrete and knowable entities.  I seriously doubt they are “eternal and unchanging”, nor would I find it worthy for them to be so.   We know from our lore that many of them are fated to die with this world, hopefully buying us a chance to save a remnant of a remnant.  As an aside, science reassures us that the planet we are on, which has enjoyed multiple planetary extinction events already, has a best before date, and even if we avoid unscheduled catastrophes, we will be seared of all life and atmosphere where our sun progresses into a red giant (oops, those pesky fire Jottuns of Muspelheim mentioned in the lore as proximal doom) before the sun collapses to leave the earth a cold airless rock spinning in the eternal ice of space (those pesky frost Jottuns born from Ymir who seek to return to the nothingness that was).  If we are bright enough, work hard enough, and refrain from killing ourselves off, we just might get some of the human race off this rock and out of this solar system so we, as a species, can out live this event.  The gods promise to buy us time, they don’t promise we will get our shit together and make it work, the lore promises a chance, but we still have the choice to screw up.

 

The universe was singular once; Ymir, unknowing and unknowable.  I can’t worship that unity, ignorance is unworthy of devotion.  On this I will just have to disagree with the Judeo-Christian view, as they are actually forbidden to agree to disagree on this point. This would be their problem, not ours, so I leave them to it.

 

Our gods did not always exist, our species did not always exist; we did not always understand the gods as we do in the last few thousand years of recorded history, and I am unsure whether this represents an actual change in our gods, or simply a change in our ability to understand both the gods and ourselves.  Like a lot of Christians with the question of the Trinity, I find this essentially unknowable question to be a source of both wonder and joy.  Maybe it’s a Heathen thing; but I find exciting the thought that every single generation from now until our sun burns out will have to struggle for itself to deepen its understanding of itself, the physical universe, and that which is a part of us that extends beyond the simple summation of matter and energy that describes the physical universe.

 

To those Judeo-Christians who claim to be worshiping the primordial god, the first god of existence; this is hardly a selling point to Heathens like myself, or to a Greco-Roman pagan.  Your claim to worship the one we know as Ymir or the Greco-Romans as Uranus is to claim to worship a being whose destruction created the universe we inherit, whose death was a prerequisite for the development of life, awareness, and spirituality.

 

Our gods, like our species was not always.  In the beginning, we were not.  In the end, when the universe reaches ultimate dispersal of heat death, or collapses back into singularity, I have no idea if we (gods or man) will still exist.  I do know that we represent the universe’s attempt to know itself.

The gods are formed of the primordial, the great divine power that drives the universe, and we, the most ephemeral of all mortal beings.  It is through us that the divine may experience our universe, and it is through them we can grow to understand the parts of us that will not die when our mortal flesh returns to the soil as ash or meat.  Together we grow, together we are greater, the parts of us that are not limited to matter and energy call to them, the parts of us that yearn to know, to understand, to love, to dream, to create, to dare and to achieve call to them; they shine a light into the darkness to allow us to see a little farther, to know a little more, to chose a little better.  We give them the sum of our choices, our experience, our life, and yes, our death.  Together we learn and grow, and if we are smart, lucky, and swift enough, perhaps some of us will continue to do so long after our planet is burned clean, and left to spin frozen in the eternal dark.

I can’t know.  All I can do is strive to make the world a little better, a little wiser, and trust that uncounted generations to come will do the same.  The gods will be there to guide, it remains to be seen if we will continue to listen.

 

{1} http://www.biology-online.org/5/3_water-cycle.htm

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1664679/

 

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Asatru, Current events, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Where were Odin’s Soldiers during the Vancouver Protest?

20170819_130249.jpg

You may have heard much about the “Soldiers of Odin” who were supposed to be leading the anti-immigration rally at Vancouver city hall.  Well there were ravens in the sky, taking in the 4000 plus of us who marched for a diverse and accepting Canada, so Odin was free to see where his children were and what they were up to.

In this picture is Team #3, one of four teams that roamed the crowd dealing with any safety or health issues that cropped up.  This was my team.  We were mixed in genders, races, religions; united by two things, a support for a diverse and accepting Canada, and a high level of Industrial First Aid training.

On our teams you found many actual soldiers and sailors, those whom Odin would know from their oaths of service, and from their times standing into danger for their folk. In the crowd I found many fellow Heathens, and fellow pagans whom Odin would likewise know from their devotions to the holy gods.

Our first aid teams were organized by pure volunteers, as was the rally.  The drive was to be the best hosts we could be for the crowd, and the best guests we could for City Hall, its grounds, and the wights of the land itself.  You could not ask for a group that better understood Odin’s laws of hospitality and the keeping of Frith.  Tyr himself would have blessed this with the Peace of the Thing, for the organizers did not send out teams of enforcers to confront the pathetically outnumbered dozen alt-right protesters, but teams of de-escalators, whose job was to keep confrontations verbal, and as civil as possible, to keep the frith.  They do not know the word, but Odin does not care if you know the word, nor Tyr or Freyr, they know only that you lived it, that you offered it, that you paid the price to keep it.

Half my first aid calls had to do with sweet Sunna, our beloved sun goddess shining down with such love that many, especially the old or young, were overcome.  No traumatic injuries, not a single fall from scuffle, or bruised from blow was to be found.

Saga would smile at the speakers who shared their stories, and Frigga understand how the coming together of  new Canadians, born Canadians, indigenous Canadians to share in our common vision of a diverse and welcoming society, unwilling to bend to fear, but likewise brave enough to choose peace when we outnumbered a belligerent and disrespectful foe over three hundred to one wove another fresh layer of unity into the fabric of Canadian society.  We chose to educate, rather than eradicate, to provide an example of frith, rather than a cheap exercise in fury.

Our Protest2Our Protest

The so called “Soldiers of Odin” may have been almost undetectable, but there were veterans of all races, proudly sporting their colours; not of skin or ethnicity, but of their service, and the pride they took in defending the freedoms that we this day proved we were worthy to inherit.

Old veterans of WWII and Korea, Vietnam, UN Peacekeeping, Afghanistan, all the wars that Odin has seen our finest fall from in living memory were represented by the proud men and women who made it clear where the soldiers stood, and what the Canada their brethren fought and died for looked like.

I saw priests and priestesses from our local Pagan and Heathen community, exchanged greetings and blessing with Christian and Buddhist clergy who recognized my Thor’s hammer as a sign of Asatru and were unsurprised to see us in the front lines defending diversity.

I saw the token protesters of the anti-immigration force all boasting Trump campaign wear; can you grasp how much this encapsulates the stupidity of their position?  This is Canada, the signs telling us Trump is our President would make sense about two hours south of us, where you would be standing in the United States.  They actually have presidents, and Trump holds that office.  We are in Canada, we have Prime Ministers, and Justin Trudeau holds that office at the moment.  How stupid do you look telling us that all Canadians should be anti-immigration because some they are stupid enough to think some foreigner holding some foreign office has moral authority here.  That is a bit like saying that you have to paint your bathroom red because the next door neighbor hates blue.  So what?  Not his house, not his call.  Terrible colour for a bathroom anyway.

The single most Canadian sentiment of the day is this

Canadian Commentary

“The Alt right can suck my left nut.”  Damned straight.  That is the single most perfect encapsulation of the Canadian response to extremists of any stripe.  If you are a far left radical, you may be invited so suck my right nut, but the sentiment will be the same.

I saw a number of Americans who had come to Canada because of the rise of extremism in their own country, and we heard from refugees from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East about their experiences with the costs of extremism when unopposed.  We were also reminded by our indigenous Canadians that our own nation has indeed walked that path in the past as well, that it was a long journey to make this country what it is today, and that the scars of that journey are not born evenly by all who live in this nation.  This is not said as an attack against those of us who were descended from immigrants, but as a caution that we should not take our immunity for granted, it is a new and hard won thing we must both cherish and defend.

I ask the blessings of my strong gods and mighty goddesses upon all of those who gathered peacefully, especially those who gave of their strength and skill, of their patience and wisdom to make sure that all guests were treated with respect, cared for and protected.

There were Odin’s soldiers all through the crowd, those who served at one time under arms, and those who simply did his work unknowing as they kept his laws of hospitality so well none in my own community who know the letter of them could be said to do better.

A special thanks is owed to the Vancouver City Police, they worked with our first aid teams to make sure that we had good communication and access, developed and communicated plans for dealing with casualty evacuation as well as I have ever seen done with officially sanctioned events, which this was not.

The VPD may not like protests, but they did a hard job well, acting to make sure the peace was kept, public safety was maintained, but without making the event in any way more difficult.

I don’t know how the media will spin this event; gods knows military service taught me to believe the press have little contact with reality as experienced by any other observer, as their reports frequently have little to do with events as experienced by anyone else at them, but from my own experience on the ground it was a joyous, peaceful, frithful gathering that I am proud to have been a part of.  My first aid patch now resides on my altar before Odin’s icon, for he will know it as an offering in his service.

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Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Just a Citizen

 

Protest

I will admit to a great deal of embarrassment.  I am about to attend a protest march for the first time, and I admit to a real sense of ambivalence towards the idea.  I am not Antifa, I honestly have always been much more comfortable standing with the Canadian Forces providing security against civil disorder than with anything resembling political activism of any stripe.  I am not a radical political person by any means; I don’t like the far left, their simplistic idealism places ideas above people, and deny the harsh realities that adults have to consider because real leadership, like real parenting requires you to deal with the world as it is, not as it ought to be.  I don’t like the far right because while I would love to be conservative, I find the absolute willingness of the hard right to narrow the question of rights so that only their own rights seem to matter, usually to the point that the rights of others, especially those not as rich, white, straight, or male as their ideal, seem to disappear completely.  Again, the far right, like the far left seems to place ideology above people.  I kind of put people first. I never had an ideology stop to help my family when we needed it, never had an ideology join me in bailing out someone in trouble, never saw an ideology reach across the table and try not to remain strangers; pretty much anything worth doing has been done by people, and the worst things done to people have been in the name of ideologies.

 

In Charlottesville Virginia we saw the “alt-right” march, with the nazi banners flying proudly alongside the Confederate battle flag, and various white power flags incorporating corrupted versions of their national flag, some even with our holy runes on them, polluting our faith symbols as badly as the national flags whose ideals they piss on with their hatred.  It ended with deliberate murder, because that is where hatred usually ends, and violence is the tool by which the minority attempt to coerce the majority into tolerating the will of extremists.  That is the thinking that gave us the Taliban, and Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia; extremist ideology, where human rights and dignity mattered nothing at all, and where the price of remaining silent was illustrated so very well for all who cared to look.

 

I joined the Canadian Armed Forces back in 1988, a young man following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, who had served in their times and their wars.  I was raised valuing the freedoms of a Canadian citizen, and steeped in the duties of citizenship.

I listen to the anti-immigrant rhetoric of our own alt-right organizers, and I hear the echoes of Gobels.  I see the use of our freedoms to allow the rise and spread of ideologies that seek to attack those freedoms from within, that seek to restrict those freedoms to the right sort (read straight white male sort) of people.  I hear the ideologies that produced the sort of war torn shitholes that the Canadian Forces sent those like me who strove to keep the peace in failed states across this globe, and I know exactly where those pretty sounding ugly words lead, where the tolerance of that kind of intolerance leads.

 

I looked in the mirror and could not believe that I was looking at someone who was going to be a protester.  I have to admit, I have made more jokes than I can count about the people who run around protesting every public decision they disagree with.  I have defended the rights of people to do just that, but always with the understanding that I found it a little silly as a means of deciding public policy.

Then the violence escalated.

Ah.  Well, that changes things.

When Islamic terrorists detonated a bomb in the London Underground system, North Americans were surprised that when it reopened the system was slowed because of record ridership.  The simple fact is, the response of the British people to a terror attack was to simply and quietly show they could not be moved by fear.  In response to an attack on their transit system, people who usually drove chose to use the transit system simply to show they could not be driven by the fear of extremists.  That is the action of a citizenry that deserves the freedoms they inherit.

 

I look at the “alt-right” and their increasing claims to having silent support among average Canadians (that would be me), and I look at the escalation of violence they have chosen to embrace, the descent into street thuggery that was the tactic of the Fascist movements of the thirties, and I remember the point.  The alt right wishes to steal the voice of conservative citizens, and wishes to silence the voice of moderate citizens, wishes to use fear to suppress all dissent.  They wish to tell us who may be and may not be a citizen in this great nation, based on their opinions of race and religion.  This generation they have chosen to demonize the Muslim, as it was the Jew in the 1930’s, because they think that they can get support for their hate filled agenda if they build up an enemy in our minds we will give up our freedoms for protection from.

Not happening.

I was a soldier, so honestly fear doesn’t work on me.  When I was young and had no experience with wounds I was not moved by fear.  At this point I have survived things that generally kill people often enough to have ceased to be all that impressed by them, and have grown to love my country and its culture not like a newlywed with a bride he sees through rose coloured glasses, but like an old man who simply cannot imagine anyone else ever being right for him.  Canada isn’t perfect, but it isn’t shaped by hate or fear, and it won’t be.

 

I will be marching in the counter protest.  I come bearing my first aid kits, working with others who have similar first aid training to make sure that anyone who is injured receives prompt and effective care. I will be there to stand up for the Canada that I believe in, I will be there to show that fear will never rule here, and I will be wearing my Mjolnir, my Hammer of Thor, because while the street gang “Soldiers of Odin” may like to pretend to be heathen, the actual Heathen community has always been about inclusion, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence.

There are hateful people of every race and religion, there are really worthy citizens in every race and religion too; and the latter outnumber the former by a large degree. Muslim extremists no more represent the average Muslim Canadian than those neo-Nazi racists represent the average white Canadian.  Its not enough to say that though, you kind of have to show it.  Its not enough to sit back and shake your head at the marching racists, you kind of have to stand up and take to the streets to show they don’t speak for you, don’t represent you, and most of all, do not intimidate you.

 

The press and the alt right will try to label all of us who march as Antifa activists.  Sorry.  Not true.  We are just ordinary citizens who are tired of the wilful promotion of hatred.  We are tired of fear being used to stir up strife in our communities, tired of the endless attempts to replace peaceful debate with mindless screaming of slogans.

 

When you see the pictures of the event, you will see protesters.  That is funny, I would have as well.  Hard to admit after all these years that I may have been wrong so often, but I have to.  We will be keeping the peace, we will be looking after each other, and even after the racists, should one of them become injured, because that is what good people do.

When you look at the pictures and laugh as you see just another group of protesters you will be just as wrong as I was.  We are not; not really.  We are just citizens.  We are just citizens, and we are taking back our country.

Oppose the Racists in Vancouver

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