Science and Heathenry

A few days ago, honestly when you don’t sleep the number of days gets harder to keep straight, I had a bit of an accident at work.  A bit of an accident translates into two broken cervical vertebrae and serious concussion.  This is what happens when a seventy pound roll falls of the back of a truck, and has about six feet to accelerate before meeting the back of your head.

I don’t have to deal with pain as much as most people in my position.  I don’t use pharmaceuticals not because I am trying to prove how tough I am, but because they are less effective at delivering me from pain than what I was given by my gods.


I don’t have to be all the way here.  It gets easier when I get deeper in the pain, to let slip the ties that bind me to this world and let the veil part until I walk in both worlds.  Don’t drive this way, ladies and gentlemen, it is as intoxicating as any drug, and you will indeed have to develop the skills to allow you to process a degree of information that does not fit into the senses you have been using since birth, but your brain keeps trying to squeeze them in anyway.  Its not so much hallucinations, as trying to stick data from other formats into the visual/audio circuits your mind is most comfortable using.  It’s the wrong kind of signal, so some oddities result.  You get used to it, or at least I did.  We aren’t machines, we can work with senses we can’t process consciously.  You just have to slip into a state not entirely conscious.  Serious about the don’t drive this way.


There are a few things about this state of mind that I find intoxicating.  The whole, not listening to the pain channel at all is one.  A second is that sometimes I will be asked a question, and it will be heard not only by me, but through the connection I have to the gods and ancestors.

This is where I get lost.  Lost in the question.  Be careful the simple questions, the offhand questions you ask in this state, for some of them may take you far and deep before you know it.  I am more than half mad at the moment, by most definitions.  Brain injury, hopefully of a temporary nature, has left my conscious mind unable to cope, so I am opening wide the gates to other states, because I will function, I will heal, and I will take the tools that I need to do this from wherever I must.  The gates thus open wide, it is a simple thing to be caught by a question and ask it in a place, and of a one who can answer.


The question:  “Why doesn’t my heathenry interfere with my devotion to science”


Beware the simple offhand questions.  Beware opening gates to the Haptasnytrir, the Teacher of the Gods, for what is simple for Odin to understand is as hard for my mind to contain as would be the Fraser river to contain in my horn.


The problem is found in fear.  Its not one we possess, so we are largely blind to the power it holds over others.  There are people who look at that portion of the map that says “here there be dragons” and know that it means they must never go there.  My people are the ones who followed in search of those dragons on every far shore.  Fear of the unknown to us is a spice with which we flavour the meat of our adventures, the challenges that sustain and define us.  Fear of the unknown neither defines nor limits us.

I am as boastful a man as you would find, and as proud of my gods as any.  I would proudly boast of the knowledge and wisdom of Odin, of his might and majesty to any and all, and yet………


Were you to ask me if he is omniscient, all-knowing, I would say no.  He can seek out and learn anything in the nine worlds, but I would not say that moment to moment he knows which of the seventeen ducks currently passing over a certain brownstone in Detroit just farted.  I mean he could find out, but I don’t think he received a real time update about that and every other thing that is happening in the universe.  All knowing?  No.

Were you to ask me if he is omnipotent, as in all powerful, I would say no.  He is powerful, and to touch his mind at all is to feel what it is to touch the storm, to touch the fury, to touch a primal power of such potency that your own sanity is at risk simply at seeing it, but no he is not omnipotent.  I won’t lie to you, Frigg scares me more.   Odin hides most of himself well enough that he doesn’t beat you over the head with it, but the lightest touch of Frigg leaves you aware of the scope of her existence, extending at once in so many directions that I felt so small in comparison as to have almost lost myself by accident.  Neither is she omnipotent.  I wouldn’t want to guess at what their limits are, or even speculate as to how their will is worked upon the world in the first place.


A fragment of an old argument with a Christian Theologian came up, the idea that all people had to worship his god, because he was the prime mover, the first source, the creator of the universe.  God as the cause of all things.

Do I view my gods as the creators of the universe?  The reason for every single action occurring on midgaard?  Good gods no.  Our own cosmology is clear about this.  The gods arose during the complexifying of the universe.  The primal forces of the universe, the Jottun, already existed.  The universe existed long before our planet, or our species.  Our gods came into existence before our species rose to its current form, and found in us something not totally alien to them, and entered into a reciprocal gifting relationship with us.

Many tribes formed relationships with gods, I won’t claim to know if any of these gods are in fact the same gods known by different names.  Honestly, the phrase, “above my pay grade” comes to mind when the question comes up, along with “when I have my own house in order, I will comment on other peoples”.


There is the difference, we don’t fear the universe.  We don’t need our gods to be the reason for everything happening.  If something should fall out of a truck and strike me in the head, I don’t say the gods willed it to be so, I say our Chicago terminal is staffed by lazy assholes who can’t properly secure a load.  If you want the reasons why I got struck, you can do the math, factor in the coefficient of static friction and the mass involved to see what the pressure holding it in place was, then calculate the angle the roll was sitting at, calculate the force that gravity was exerting on it, and note that the gravitational force was greater than the friction force, which would result in the roll beginning to slide out the back of the truck.  As it accelerated, the coefficient of sliding friction being much lower, would indicate that once the roll began to slide, it would begin to accelerate very swiftly and past the tipping point the angle of the roll would increase the effectiveness of gravitational force and therefore the acceleration of the roll.  Net effect, once the little bugger started to move, it shot out the back and down towards the back of my head like the hammer of Thor.  For the record, Thor would have knocked me down, as I am slightly less than giant sized, but the imitator was only able to break two of my neck vertebrae and give me a serious concussion.  I don’t need a god to explain why the universe followed its own rules.  I don’t need a god, or demon, Jottun or witch to be behind something happening to me.  Physics will suffice.


The Wise Counsellor took me down the metaphorical and metaphysical rabbit hole when I asked him why we (heathens) don’t have a problem embracing our religion and science together, and his answer was at once far deeper than I could contain, even if I wasn’t currently really not up to mental par, and yet simple enough to reduce to a form even in my current state I can grasp.
We are not afraid of science, because we are not afraid of a universe that is bigger than us.  We are not afraid there could be more to know than we know right now.  We are aware the edges of the map read, here there be dragons, and in our many halls ring discussions that can be summed up as “what colour dragons?”  “feathered or scaled”  and of course “What kind of glaze to you put on a dragon anyway?  Just a pepper rub, or an actual sauce?”.
Here there be Dragons

Turning inward, or outward, lone searchers or large boisterous tribes, our folk are busy going about the world, alert for every new thing to learn, old thing to reclaim, and redrawing the map every single day (day 247, still no dragons, search resumes).


We don’t fear science because we don’t use our gods to hide from the truth of this world.  We don’t use our gods instead of attempting to understand this world.  We follow our gods in a large part because they help us to understand how to live in this world.  We don’t ask Odin, Frey or Thor to help us to understand the wiring of our breaker panel, we check the manual for that.  We ask them for help in being a better us, as we go about exploring this world, using all the tools the gods and ancestors gave us, most definitely including science.

I do not confuse my gods with the universe, nor blame my gods when the universe catches me up in the gears.  Wyrd weaves as it will, and before it even the gods must bow.  I don’t need the gods to be more than they are to be worthy of my worship.  I don’t need to pretend to be utterly helpless either.  I do not need the gods to understand the parts of the world that science can model for me, nor do I need them to tell me how to change those parts of the world my technology can control.  I do turn to them to help me to make better decisions about how to use my own power, and I turn to them for things that science, including medicine, either cannot do, or does less well.

I am not a man of faith.  I don’t really have much faith left.  I turn to my gods for pain and spasm control because they gave me tools that work a whole lot better than medicine did and leave me a whole lot less dangerous to those I love in the doing.  I have gods, but not faith.  Faith is about rejecting knowledge, and our gods don’t ask that.


There are religions out there that are driven by faith.  Reason and science are anathema to them.  You must choose to either have faith, or have reason, if you are of those particular religions. That isn’t us.


My god is a thief of wisdom, a scholar, a sage, necromancer and seven kinds of scary on even his good days, but nothing in his teachings will ever ask you to reject what you can see and know for yourself.  Odin doesn’t just accept science, he whispers in its ear at night, and fills its sleep with dreams of glory.


Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Fallen and the fallen: Conversations at Hel’s door.

What happens when a devil sets out to tempt a Heathen he finds at deaths door?


The Fallen were given the same knowledge as their angelic brethren, one the shadowed mirror of the other.  Legend has it that it represents the sum of all knowledge.  Like most legends it is less incorrect than incomplete.  It represents the sum of all knowledge their god, and his chosen adversary choose to admit.


Banished for long centuries by a Christian saint, the Fallen was free at last to work his will, to seek those souls that could be won for his side in the war eternal between the hosts of Jehova’s loyalist and rebel.  There was a soul even now flickering with the fire of vanishing life, one who was not bound to Jehova’s heaven, nor to Lucifer’s Hell.  He dove for it like a stooping hawk, and alighted on the ground beside the mortal in a swirl of fire.

Image result for old man on ice
The mortal was old, not ancient, but old enough to be fragile, and from the looks of his position, had fallen afoul of a long icy flight of concrete stairs, and was even now feeling his lungs fill up with the blood of his life, even as the fires of that life began to seep out of his flesh, and into the cold of the night.

Smiling the smile of one who held all the cards, the Fallen knelt, allowing he fires of his true nature to burn visibly in his eyes.

Image result for devil crouches by old man

“Mortal, you stand at death’s door.  Hell is a handful of heartbeats away, as I see the ancient bonds of your Christening have been shattered, and Jehova’s angels have no claim on you.  While you hold onto life, you may yet have value.  Swear yourself to my service and I will grant you ten years of life, and riches to enjoy it.  When you fall, Hell will welcome you as one of mine, power and prestige will be yours.  Deny me, and you will end up in Hell anyway, but broken and powerless.”


The old man laughed, a grating croak like a raven’s, ending in a wet cough that sprayed scarlet droplets across the snow.

“Hel awaits me.  Not your master’s late made fantasy, but the solace of the mound, and she who keeps the dead.  You missed a memo son.  The squabbles of your house are no concern of mine.  Begone lest you draw the wrath of she who awaits”


The Fallen had been absent from this world for five hundred years, but no mortal dared bespeak an angel of either court with such discourtesy; not the greatest king, or darkest necromancer.  Letting his fingers form claws of bone, he drove his hand down to rend the last of the life from the upstart mortal, when a blade of ice swept through the air above the mortal, and swept him aside like a human sweeping an errant kitten from the dinner table.  The flames of Hel that cloaked him were as nothing to the cold that shattered his form, his power broke before the casual swipe like a blade of straw in the hands of an idle farmer.

Lying beside the old man, two broken forms writhing in pain, he met the old man’s eyes and saw him grin a blood flecked grin.

“I am Heathen, fool.  It is not your Hell, but Hel herself who awaits me.  What is hers, no man or god may take.  I am, as you said, a shrinking number of heartbeats from hers.”


Pulling his form back together again, the Fallen realized he could not take, nor coerce the man, for a goddess defended her claim to what remained of him, but he was not yet hers, and perhaps need not be.
“Old man, let me bargain with you thus, grant me the space between one heartbeat and the next to speak with you, and I may yet make you an offer you cannot refuse!”

The old man nodded, unable now even to speak.
In an instant, the two spirits, Fallen angel and fallen heathen stood above their shattered bodies, and eyed each other.

“This sounds like a conversation we should be having over drinks, but my horn is at home, and I don’t think I could pour for you anyway at the moment, so you will forgive my poor hospitality”  The old Heathen said.

In a moment, the Fallen took the image from the old man’s mind, and crafted for them a warm hall with a fire, two great soft chairs, and two horns filled with a strange amber-gold liquid that looked like sunshine, and smelled like the promise of sin.

Altar Horn

The Fallen spoke first, attempting to confirm what he though he knew “You are a Heathen, one who denies god, so you should have no protection from me.  You should be my masters by fate, and should require either forgiveness from that whining brat, or intercession from one of my master’s own to spare you the flames”

The old man raised his horn and laughed “You missed a memo there old boy.  Heathen in this generation means one who has returned to the old gods of the north, the Aesir and the Vanir.  We don’t need forgiveness for the sin of being born, and our gods don’t offer forgiveness for offenses we did to others anyway.  If we want forgiveness, we had best make it right with those we wronged.  Selling forgiveness to us is like selling screen doors to submarines; you aren’t going to get a lot of takers.  Sorry kid”


Summoning a vision in the flame, the Fallen brought the image of a succubus dancing in the flame, its form the perfection of woman, its movements forbidden desire and lust personified.  Even the fallen felt the pull of her charm as it stroked all the denied hungers in every recess of both of their minds.  The old man just laughed.

With a laugh the old man whispered to the fire, and it erupted in bright gold as a vision of Freya formed in the fire, the bright passion, the lust that formed the core of all life called to the old man and demon both, before her smile darkened and hands made gathering gestures to the shadows, and a hundred whispers of wickedness ancient beyond time and terrible beyond reason stroked the edges of awareness, just out of reach.  Both succubus and demon found themselves on their knees crawling to her image, before she laughed and soared away as a falcon of sun bright fire.

Goddess Freya true

The old man spoke gently “You cannot tempt us with lust, for Freya burns with all the passions of life, the bright the dark, primal beyond either.  You cannot tempt me with power either, for she has such secrets as would blast your sanity away, and frankly I know enough to steer well clear of”


The Fallen collected his scraps of dignity, and turned away from the traditional lures of lust for power and pleasure, the Fallen turned to subtler lures.

“I bear the knowledge from before the forging of the world, and know secrets known to no living, but swear yourself to me and I will give you a second lifetime to learn it all!”


The old man looked down, shook his head slowly, and faced the Fallen with eyes empty as night itself, the Fallen felt himself falling within their depths, until at last he saw the man, bound to the Tree, the Tree that is all worlds.  Pierced he was by a spear, hung by a noose, and by his ear whispering was a wild haired old man the size of a mountain.  Shoving his claws into his ears and screaming to block it out, the Fallen spent an eternity measured in less than a heartbeat of Things his kind were not permitted to know flowing through him, and the terrible cost of that knowledge forming around him like dread chains he would bear for all eternity; bound and burdened by knowledge he could never put down, words he could never unhear.

The Fallen wept as the old man pulled him at last to his feet, apologizing.

“I am sorry for that, but in my youth I was a priest, because I would know the secrets that Odin promised to share.  He told me the cost of such knowledge before I took it up, and like a fool, I thought I understood.  I would not know more, I paid for the knowledge I earned in this life, and bear burdens enough for it already. I need no more.”


Lowering the demon into his chair, the old man wrapped its shaking hands around the mead horn, and raised it to its infernal lips.  The mead flowed down its throat like blood and fire, stilling his shakes and lighting again the fires that burned within his infernal breast.


The old man whispered  “Half a loaf, and half filled cup, full friend found.  There you go, old boy, good as new.”


The Fallen looked at the old man with wonder and finally spoke “I cannot temp you with anything, can I?  I literally have nothing a Heathen wants.  I have failed.  I will win nothing from you, and you have won this contest.  I will return you to your body, and to your fate”

The old man gripped the claws of the Fallen and laughed.  “You are wrong, a gift for a gift is our way.  You have given me a gift I could not ask for.  I was not alone at the end.  You are wrong as well that you won nothing.  I go now to her, to Hel, and the icy silence of her realm.  I will offer you this gift in return.  Hear the words from our lord

‘Cattle die, and kinsmen die

You too will die

One thing alone will not die

The fame of a good man’s deeds.’ “

The old man paused.  “We are great ones for kennings, for deed-names, bynames, honour names, and I give you this one now.  I know you as Death-watcher, and I thank you for standing the watch with me”

The fallen crouched like a raven upon the railing, as the old man’s spirit returned to his flesh, and battled breath and breath until his lungs were naught but sacks of blood, and there was no strength left to raise his chest one more time.

The old man’s soul past somewhere the Fallen could not see, for it was not a place that angles of either court could even admit existed, let alone dare to look.



When he rose, he would return to the war unending, the struggle against the throne that had rang for more lifetimes than mortals knew.  There was nothing in his eternal existence except this war, for that was all his kind were permitted…..except………..except……..now, somewhere, he could hear another chant his name, and tell his tale.  A part of him existed beyond the struggle, beyond the war.  A part of him would even survive it.

It was a small thing, but it forever changed him.


Aesir, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Measure of a woman

How do you measure the worth of a woman?

Shall I sing of past deeds?  I could sing many a chorus of those, for she has been a woman of such strength of character I hold her up as example and person to turn to for my own daughters.  I count her as my sister in law, both as she is wife to a man close to me as my own brother, and because she stands as close under the protection of my arm as my own wife or sister would.

As an artist she is the creator of our banner, the Freyr’s Yule-Father garb, the illustrator of our Kindertales I and II, to be followed after her recovery with Kindertales III.  She is an author, was my first editor for my own “They Walk With Us” collection, and was our editor and publisher for the Kindertales project.

She is a modern shield maiden, having joined with her husband when I enticed them into the Canadian Armed Forces, not only doing the job in truth, but taking to the field in sport to play on the acres of their land in 100 mile with an airsoft AK in hand to make sport-slaughter among the trees, rocks and bunkers.

As a Heathen, she is an exemplar of wisdom and scholarship, of frith as an active force for community building.  Serving as Ombudsman for many years, she was the one most skilled and dedicated to making peace between others, frequently at some cost to herself.

As a mother to her son and daughter, she shines as bright as any I have seen. I had no worries whatsoever entrusting my own children to her care when military duties took myself and her husband away, and I must leave my own children in her care.  In time, she returned that trust by joining us in service and leaving my elder children to care for our combined families.

Now she stands into a different battle.  Cancer has struck deep within her.  Indeed, she laughs now with the gallows-humour Odin himself will roar to hear, as she boasts of her radioactive breasts.  Injected with radioactive dye today, she goes under the knife tomorrow to go, as she boasts from F cup to no f’ing cup.

Wyrd has chosen to mark her with the ravages of disease, but not choosing to accept such as a victim, she chose instead to put Mjolnir’s mark on her shield arm, to chose to mark her flesh with pride, rather than let fate reshape it at its own weaving and will.

How will we see her womanly form, now that the rich curves of her breasts fall to the knife of the surgeon, and her body braces from steel to face radiation and chemo in turn?

We will see it as we see the sword-arm of Tyr, the empty eye of Odin; the proud scars of victory, the silent banners of struggle, the glory marks of survival.  F cup, or no F’ing cup, she is the measure of a Heathen woman, who laughs in the face of a death she will defeat, and scars she will bear with pride as victory tokens.

The measure of a woman is how she faces her wyrd, how she faces the fires and hammer of this life, to be forged or broken as good steel or dross.  Freydis is good steel.  To send her into this battle, I sing one song learned from One Eye upon the tree.  I sing it for her this night.

157. An eleventh I know, | if needs I must lead
To the fight my long-loved friends;
I sing in the shields, | and in strength they go
Whole to the field of fight,
Whole from the field of fight,
And whole they come thence home.

Whole to the field of fight you go Freydis, whole come thence home.  Leave only that which has turned against you, bring home all flesh that yet answers your will and weal.


Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

ISIS and the AFA

What do ISIS and the AFA have in common?


Fear.  I do not mean they inspire it.  Far from it.  I was a professional soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces and understand far better than either one of these groups the reality of force projection, and the complex application of every aspect of military power, from data-space to battle-space, from logistics to lethal force far better than groups whose fundamental unifying characteristics is that they are terrified of a world too complex to be comfortable.

At the root, the AFA and ISIS are groups driven largely by men who don’t understand the world they live in, and wish to drag everyone back, kicking and screaming, to the fantasy they cherish of a simple time when men of their particular belief system ruled as benevolent dictators over a society that existed to serve their will, and praise them as they feel they deserve to be praised, for their patriarchal virtues.

The myth of the benevolent dictator is the one of the most persistent and damaging in human history, and has lead to the cult of personality that we see exemplified today in Trump and Putin.  The desire for a strong father figure to force the world to make sense is one that is common for humanity, and very dangerous.  Let us be honest about the reality of why the peddlers of these dangerous fantasies are so often successful in the court of public opinion when their promised solutions tend to prove to be failures more often than not.

Fear is real.  Fear of change.  Fear that the world may indeed be more complex than people want to understand.  They want things to be simple.  They don’t want to hear that some things they don’t agree with are necessary, and that some of what they are deeply offended by is in fact in the public interest.

ISIS seeks to impose its own harsh version of Sharia Law over the world, remove the voice from women altogether, and make all knowledge that is not contained in their scrolls to be stripped from mankind forever, so the one “truth” that remains is one that they can accept.  Not necessarily understand, they have scholars who can understand for them, but they can accept that all remaining knowledge fits neatly into the world view they are comfortable with.  There is an order to the universe, and they understand everyone’s place in it.

That their vision is a third world crap-hole that now encompasses the whole of the earth, where men live in poverty, ignorance and fear, yet are far better off than women, does not seem to bother them, because it is a world at least they understand.

The AFA seeks to “return” to a vision of a “before times” that was created by romantics in the 1920-30’s of a glorious Germanic tribal past where strong Nordic demigod men ruled over homes filled with adoring blond wives and dozens of small tow headed children of chiseled features right out of a painting of Wagnerian Opera.  Gender roles clearly defined, power vested in only the “right sort” of racially pure, doctrinaly pure, conservative men united in the purpose of keeping their world free of confusing thoughts or ideas that threaten the perfect fantasy that all is not only understandable, but controllable.

This mythological “before time” never existed, and the world was never as simple as they need it to be.  Our ancestors had no time for this dogma of ideological or racial purity as they were driven very much by the survival imperative to always get better, to seek better ways of doing everything, because each generation buried too many of their young paying the price of “the way things always were” to accept that.  Each generation of the ancestors the AFA seeks to venerate strove hard to CHANGE, to adapt and overcome.  Rather than a perfect unchanging world, our ancestors inherited a world that was trying hard to kill them, and sought each and every possible ally and advantage into making it better for those who followed after.  Like Odin, they did not come with the knowledge to succeed, but they came with the drive to find it, learn it, even steal it if they had to.

We see the success of fear marketers.  ISIS recruiting among the failures of young Islamic men who look at a world that is complicated, that requires them to learn, to adapt, to struggle, and to accept others who do not think as they do, even WOMEN, as their equals, and frequently workplace superiors.  Such recruits want a world where they do not have to adapt, to understand.  Where everything they don’t agree with can just be made to go away, where everyone who disagrees with them can just be forced to shut up.

We see the AFA and White Supremacist groups recruiting heavily, even as we see Christian Conservatives recruiting heavily across the same demographics, among the white men and women who look at the same complex world they don’t understand, but feel somehow that they have the inherit right to rule, and want things to go back to “the way they were”.  They want simple, they want a world that does not contain ideas they don’t understand or agree with.  They want gender roles they understand enforced on people.  They want those facts that do not fit their belief structure to simply go away, as if objective physical reality can be legislated because their myth says the world ought to be different than it is.

The Sons of Odin recruit from those who couch their denial of diversity in the myth of defending our culture from immigrants.  You know, I really get a kick out of that as a Canadian of European ancestry.  Do you see the “Sons of Raven” out there trying to protect the actual First Nations against us immigrant descendants?  Nope.  It seems in the Sons of Odin mythology, immigrants are non-white people, which would be more defensible if our First Nations people looked Scandinavian rather than Salish.

I am not a Son of Odin.  I am the son of James Thomas Mainer.  Soldier, construction worker, father, world traveler and deep student of human history and politics.


Dad and the girls 2

Dad taught me that you could not look at questions in isolation, that the “simple” solutions offered by historians in hind sight were usually complete BS.  You had to look at the politics, but the politics were driven by the economics and the history, and the history and economics are driven by the geography.  The “simple solutions” largely exist through the ignoring of facts that don’t fit in the models people wish to use, but reality does not care about how wonderful your model is; reality simply exists.  Deal with it or not, reality will continue, but your success or failure depends on your adapting to it, not how well you adhere to your model of how you think the world ought to work.

You do not succeed in life by ignoring facts that do not fit what you wish to be true.  You succeed in life by discarding those models that don’t fit the facts you can prove, and working towards a better understanding so your decisions are based on the best understanding of reality you can make.

My father understood fear, he just failed to let it rule him.  He taught me to listen to fear, like I listen to pain, or the weather report; as information to factor into my decision making, but not in any way the driving force behind it.

We live in a society that, on both the left and the right wings, has decided it is more important to be pure in doctrine, than grounded in reality.  We are living in a society that is beginning to give in to fear.

Fear of change.  Fear of that which we do not understand.

Listen closely, you can hear the howling of your ancestors that their blood should grow so thin as to fear to face the world as it is.

At no time in human history has so much information been available to us.  At no time in human history have so many been given the freedom to chose in so much of their lives.  No longer is the bulk of humanity little better than farm equipment, no more choices to make than the plow oxen.  Now we have the ability to choose, to succeed or fail in a thousand different fields of endeavor.  Now different genders, and even different levels of physical ability can each see a scope of opportunities to prove themselves and make their mark upon the world as NEVER before.  This is a time of unprecedented opportunity to build worth not only as individuals, but as societies.

Faced with the chance to build worth through choices, to prove yourself through word and deed in the greatest scope of opportunity that mankind has ever known, the voice of fear is whimpering in every corner “take away the choices, make it simple, I don’t want to understand”.

ISIS and the AFA both represent the naked face of fear.  Fear of that which they don’t want to understand.  Fear of change.

They couch themselves in language of power, because they MUST hide the core truth, that their message is weakness, is no less than the absolute and abject surrender to fear.  Fear the world is too much for them.  Fear they are not worthy to face the world that is, they must turn back the clock to a world that is small enough that they may stand and not feel like dwarves.

To the crows with both of them!

I laugh at their fear, and embrace change.  The world is vast, contains many wonders I struggle each day to understand, growing deeper in my love of this world with every new understanding.  When I die, I will still have drank only a sip, as did Odin, of that well of ever brimming knowledge, but until my last day I will be drinking as deep as I may of that knowledge, without fear.

I am not a Son of Odin, I am a follower of Odin.  I am a lover of this world, unafraid of the clash of ideas, proud enough of my own choices not to be terrified if another chose otherwise and is also proud.  I celebrate diversity, not because I am not proud of my own beliefs, my own heritage, but because I believe everyone should be free to be as free to do so as I am.

I am not afraid.  The world is vast, and I am small, but I stand tall as I walk up and down in the world, eyes open, ears open, mind open.  I will fight as hard as I must to make sure my children inherit a world in which they have the chance to eclipse my marks because the world offers for them more choices, not less.  When I look to the past, I realize every one of my ancestors that left stories worth retelling had one thing in common; they were all facing forward, moving forward.  Not one of them was trying to look or move back.


Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Reciprocity: Health check in your Heathenry


Freehold and Troth Banners


It seems like the farther I advance in my practice as a Heathen, the more the simplest things become more and more profoundly moving and enlightening.  A gift for a gift is one of the cornerstones of Heathen practice, the gifting cycle is not simply a part of our interpersonal culture, it is the foundation of our sacral practice.

“From the gods, to the earth to us-from us to the earth to the gods”  Is the phrase we use when we acknowledge the gifts of the gods as we gather together to celebrate, and we in turn complete the gifting cycle by making our offering to the earth, in honour of the gods and wights both.

41. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.

42. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
And gifts with gifts requite;
But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,
And fraud with falsehood meet.

43. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
To him and the friend of his friend;
But never a man | shall friendship make
With one of his foeman’s friends.

44. If a friend thou hast | whom thou fully wilt trust,
And good from him wouldst get,
Thy thoughts with his mingle, | and gifts shalt thou make,
And fare to find him oft.


Reciprocity as presented in the Havamal is more than just about the giving of gifts, it is a fundamental goal in relationships of all kinds; between family, friends, lovers, strangers, enemies, spirits, gods, the living and the dead.  It is something that it will take decades to fully unfold in understanding as to its ramifications in our psychology, our relationships, our health, for it has implications that stretch so far beyond our spiritual practice and into every aspect of our lives.


We live in a post-Christian society; one whose culture was very much shaped by a lot of fundamental assumptions of Christianity, even among those who have never practiced that creed knowingly, and many of those fundamental assumptions are at odds with traditional Heathen belief, and require a rather profound rethinking of a lot of the basic ways that we think about ourselves, and learn to make value judgements about ourselves.


Many people are offended by my next series of statements, so I will offer the following statement for background.  I do not dislike Christians, I have known a large number of extremely worthy Christians, nor are they as a group any different than the bulk of humanity in their random distribution of natures.  My criticisms of their dogma and doctrine are just that, and while I feel our own are superior, that should go without saying, as why would I espouse a belief system I felt was inferior?

Christianity is a wonderful tool for allowing hypocrites to prosper, and driving good and worthy people to offer much in the service of those who cheerfully live the opposite of the doctrine they spout the loudest.  Christianity makes much of the virtue of being humble, and as a tool this makes the devout and worthy value themselves and their contributions not at all, and the hypocrites to reap the credit of the works of those others and stand head and shoulders above them socially not through the worth of their deeds, but simply by being the only ones standing in a room full of the truly humble who have prostrated themselves.

Heathenry does not make a virtue of being humble.  The boast and brag are not about puffing yourself up and pretending to be more than you are; rather, they are about learning to judge each other by the deeds of our hands, of our minds, of our words.   We are our deeds, this is used a lot in Heathenry, and it encompasses a lot of the idea of building your worth through your contribution, through what you have achieved.  It does however interact oddly with those unspoken Christian assumptions so many of us still carry as baggage.
Worth.  We live in a capitalist society.  We have, in our society, various cognates to the word worth, and two of them are price and cost.  Ah yes.  Worth in our society has an actual standard.  Money.
Heathen artists, I am looking right at you at this moment.  Pay attention, most of you are getting this wrong.  I donate my own profits, so you can chose to say I am ignoring this or not, but I make my profits first, so I get at least that much right.  Stop being Christian about your art!


I have a friend who is a tattoo artist, and recently had to read him the riot act because he was being very humble about his art.  I don’t mean humble in the “wow, he is so down to earth, not full of himself” way that Christianity makes of the virtue of being humble, I mean in the failing to give his art the respect it deserves, failing to provide for his family as they deserve, undercutting his fellow artists by charging far less than the work associated with that art is worth kind of way.

I have friends who are singers, songwriters, illustrators, authors; all of whom are busy creating so many amazing and worthy works of Heathen art, most of whom are busy being very Christian about it and failing to honour themselves or their works by demanding that they receive in money what the purchaser actually believes the item to be worth.  If it has great worth, you really should prove that by paying the artist money equivalent to the value you see it holds to you.

In this our community has really bad habits.  Where you would pay full price at a restaurant, at a car parts dealership, gun or blade-smith, we, as a community have gotten way too comfortable with low-balling our own community who make available to us Heathen art, Heathen craft, and Heathen devotional items.

A gift for a gift, wow, we are so broken on this level it is scary.  This literally is why we can’t have nice things.  The Christian churches are some of the biggest businesses in the world, and while I would never follow them in the way they devote themselves to fleecing their flock, mostly because they seem intent on disempowering them to the point of maximum tractability and dependence , they do at least make sure they get paid full price for their religious regalia, paraphernalia, music and art.


Reciprocity is at the heart of our practice for a reason.  In biology we learn about the kinds of relationships that two intersecting species can share.  There are a number of stable relationships whereby multiple species can be joined together.  At the positive end of the spectrum is symbiosis, where the association is positive and beneficial to both, in the middle is commensalism where it is neutral, but there is also parasitism where the balance favours one over the other, whereby one party receives the benefit, and the other pays the cost.

Reciprocity is the measure of the fairness of a relationship, not its depth or nature, but a valuable “health check” to see if the relationship is healthy.  Healthy relationships are symbiotic (positive to both), or commensal (neutral exchange).  Unhealthy relationships are parasitic, the parasite often feels things are going great, whereas the person on the losing end generally will feel abused.


Volunteer burnout is a reality of most organizations, and it is a result of a failure of reciprocity.  We look at volunteers, and I can name so many (Dara, Lisa, Rob, Amanda, Aaron, Laura) who give so much to the various communities they are a part of.  I have seen so many come to the Heathen community, feel so blessed by the gifts they have receive that they want to give back.

Christian programming again kicks in, and the martyr complex becomes an issue.  The idea that you have to give, and your own needs do not matter is something that that community finds virtuous.  Welcome to Heathenry; we don’t.  The gifting cycle has the reciprocity test.  If you give more than your recipient can match without hurting themselves, you have hurt them; giving them the choice to be in your debt, or to beggar themselves to stay even.  This is abusive behaviour, and basically a dominance game.

If you give to an organization or community more than you can afford, or give to them so much that you are unable to care for yourself or your dependants, then you have harmed yourself, and you have stained that organization with that harm.

We as leaders in the community are actually supposed to protect you from giving so much you harm yourself.  It is part of our job.  We don’t always do it well, many times because we are busy burning out ourselves, and are wearing serious blinders to prevent noticing the lines we have crossed ourselves.

Reciprocity is the lesson of the gods, moderation in the giving, balance in the flow.  There is a reason for this.  I spoke earlier of the names biology gives to the various balance states of relationships, there is a wonderful term that is used in ecology a lot that comes into play in looking at reciprocity in community relationships, and that word is sustainability.  If you are getting back in measure for what you are putting in, you can sustain that level of investment forever.  If you are in an unequal state, where you are giving more than you are getting back, eventually you will run out.  It is not sustainable.

Communities are living things, and sustainable communities are going to live a long time, be there to provide for the individual members for generations to come.  Communities that are living beyond their means will continue to burn out those good and worthy people who feel such love for their community that they bind themselves to these abusive and unequal relationships until they are expended, and either quit or break.


Heathens don’t do martyrs.  We may love a good death scene, but we actually look to win every time.

A gift for a gift, reciprocal and healthy relationships in our devotional practice, our employment, our social interactions, and our faith communities is what the gods and ancestors basically are calling for in the surviving lore.  More is not better, sustainable is better.  Fair is better.


If you give to the community, make sure you are receiving from the community in equal measure.

41. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.

The gifting cycle is a wonderful tool for building relationships, but just as the stanza’s about mead use, moderation is actually not only wise, it is specifically called for.

19. Shun not the mead, | but drink in measure;
Speak to the point or be still;
For rudeness none | shall rightly blame thee
If soon thy bed thou seekest.

I drink the presence of our holy community like the finest mead, but I too drink it in measure, for I too have many other commitments, and limited resources that I may devote to the community.  I wish to be a part of the community for many decades yet, and wish to see all of you free to do the same, so come and partake with us, but always with the understanding that you are not asked ever to give more than you receive, nor ever should you feel shame in staying within your limits.

We don’t come to Heathenry with the assumptions our ancestors did, so given the Heathen gifting culture, and the Christian fundamental assumptions, it is possible to find ways to abuse and neglect yourself out of a desire to give back to the community.  Don’t.

We want you to come away from your community at every event and interaction sure that you received more than you gave.  This is symbiosis, this is the Heathen community done right.  This is what we are aiming for.
Hashtag, no martyrs.

Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Godsfolk: Chain of Command

This post will touch upon magical things, darker aspects of the god Odin, and the ways he uses us, (or we him?) to deal with wounds beyond the power of others to deal.  If you are disturbed by magic, have triggers related to trauma or sex, then this is as far as you should go.  The waters beyond are deep, murky, and navigated more by faith than reason.  Sanity must be understood to be the end state goal, not in any way a waypoint or guide upon the path to that state.


Odin found me in basic training in the army, and on some level, I have always reacted to him inside that paradigm; he was our commanding officer, that distant god-like being whose inscrutable purposes we served, whose strategy we trusted to win the goals we had all sworn ourselves to, but who was ruthless enough to expend our individual asses without a seconds thought or backwards glance, should that advance to goals to which we had sworn ourselves, or served the community we had pledged ourselves to protect.

Two important things about the chain of command, it defines your responsibilities to those underneath you, and places you under the guidance of those who may best direct your efforts and development.  Your ultimate CO remains a distant figure whose approval and guidance is usually safely filtered through channels, and whose direct presence and orders are both rare and somewhat terrifying.


You learn a lot about others in your broader community, serving the same gods, but not in your direct chain of command.  Many of them you come to know and respect deeply, gaining the sense of how much they give to those under them, and how hard they work for the collective community, helping the broader vision of their seniors be brought to practical life.  It is one of these that this concerns.


Seiðkona are the seeresses of the community, a task whose risks if you understood would make you seriously wonder why any would take it up for knowledge bought so dearly to give to another, but that is the place, and indeed the calling of seiðkona.  I have the honour to call this particular seiðkona a friend, but as what this deals with is rather more intimate than any mere physical nudity, I will not be using any names, for I will not allow what she risked in her courage to be turned by the unworthy into weapons against her or any other.



The seiðkona had come to the community in search of a place in which she could grow and feel welcome.  As the worthy do, she sought to pay back with service the community that had given her a place that allowed her to grow both as a heathen and as a person, and this brought her to the tutelage of an elder practitioner of seidr as student.  I remember seeing the first time our seiðkona sitting in the high seat, and answering questions for the folk, journeying for those who had the need but not the skill, to gain for them that which was needful.  She was impressive, and rather unusual.  She had a hard rooted pragmatism and solid grounding at odds with the usual otherworldly (and some might criticize lightly-flaky) personality of one who spends so much time between worlds they seem to be slightly loose in this one at the best of times.


She had gone far, grown much, and was coming apart at the seems.  Her own power was threatening her health, her professional success was bringing the cost of destruction of her personal life.  The gap between the masks we wear to play each of our roles in society, and the truth of who we are, is where the stress of your life arises.  The amount of energy you spend on carrying this stress acts like the debt load on your income; the more you spend servicing the debt, the less you have to spend on accomplishing things.  When servicing that debt consumes the bulk of your resources, you become almost helpless to act, even when on paper you should have vast resources.


Odin’s service is brutal in a lot of ways, the costs of it can be harrowing, but the rewards are worth it.  As the community grows, and the number of those available to serve grows, the costs to those who serve the community will drop, but even as we can be thankful we pay less than the founders did, those who follow after have no idea how much better off they will be when there are finally enough hands for the work. One of Odin’s greatest gifts is wode, the transformative ecstasy, the madness that tears away all of our masks and lets us embrace our primal core, to fill with the pure energy of his madness and burn clean all the dross of our stresses, fears, depression, and pain.  She had progressed far enough to open many far and fell gates, but this one that would serve her, heal her, and restore the strength she was spending on others was closed against her.


She had been wounded in the past by others in crippling ways that she had spent much of her own strength to work around, but at this point the cost of her coping mechanisms was locking away the tool given for healing.  She could not open it.


She opened to me and shared much, and what I have been given by the Gallows Burden  is the ability to see wounds.  In my work with those with PTSD, I have been many times given the sight to see upon what parts of a persons core the wounds have written themselves, for there is no one place that damage falls, nor one way the survivors will work around the damage to win back function.  The Feeder of Ravens shows me the cost that others have paid, but leaves to me to work out or not how to aid them; there is no thing free in his service.


This was different, I was given the powerful sense that this was mine to fix, that the Gordion knot that had been tied in this seiðkona’s mind would fall to his spear, in my hands.

Freyr's Spear

Chain of command; we may be more comfortable with limited tasking from our existing chain, but we can be detached “upon the needs of service” for special taskings, and that is exactly what was being done.  She was His, as I was His, and if she was nearly broken, he wanted her fixed; now.


From the gods to the earth to us, from us to the earth to the gods


This is how we frame our offerings to the gods in the gifting cycle, we are completing the circle by paying back the gods for the bounty of their gifts by offering back to the earth from whom the bounty was derived.  A corollary of this is from the gods to the community to us, from us to the community to the gods.  We have each of us been healed, strengthened and supported by our community in times of need, we turn to the gods for help when our own strength fails, and it is through the many hands of the community that the gods work their will to preserve us.  Now it is time to be those hands, to give that aid, and reward one who has served the community so well by doing the gods work to make right what had been done to her over so long by others.


Slight problem; Odin showed me what needed to be done.  The Fetter Loosener and Father of All Magical Songs showed me what was required, and it was a fair spear cast beyond my skillset, beyond any work I had ever done.  Mine to do, not in my power to do.


Ah, Chain of Command is a glorious thing, is it not?  I am tasked by the High One to do a thing beyond me, but are there not others beyond me?  Funny thing about chains, is they run in both directions equally binding, and up that chain I scampered like Ratatoskr up the world tree to the greatest living seiðkona, who for reasons that no doubt made sense to her had undertaken my instruction in arts more delicate than fit well in my hands.


I called upon her, and her own former apprentice, now risen into a mastery I don’t claim, and probably won’t to help me fulfill the oath I had been called by the Victory Father to give to our wounded seiðkona; that I would see her sent forth beyond the worlds to the place she might find her healing, that I would keep her safe from all that dwell beyond, and I would bring her back hale and, at last, whole.


Only one of those was in my skill set.  I could ward her from all harm, that was given me, but sending her forth when her own, superior skills in this matter, could not, was beyond me.  They were not beyond my teacher, as simple for her as for any craft master, it seemed almost without effort, even as for the rest of us it would have been equally beyond possible.


Our wounded seiðkona had done her own work well, the map of her needs, the shape of every foe we need to overcome upon the way had been mapped for us; if she could not accomplish the work herself, every single bit of it that could be done by her strength alone would be complete before we turned our own hands to it, that our blows fall full and unfettered only upon that her own strength could not touch.  Nothing is free in the Father of Victory’s service, and she was not shirking her costs.


I cast the wards, but not simply upon our working space, but followed down where they journeyed, that my spear be over her in protection, as our other siedwoman saw for her when her own sight failed, kept open the path where she was driven to stray from its safety.


The wins of her long service were waiting for her upon the ways.  The blood she had bled from the wounds she could not touch was fallen upon the snows, and in her anger that even this had been stolen from her, she cast off humanity’s cloak and as a wolf fell upon her blood and bolted it down snarling; taking back what was stolen.


The tears that had not been shed, the tears never permitted to be shed, the range of pain, sorrow and joy that died aborning lay in scattered piles of dark and bright salts, like gems scattered about a mad dwarf’s cave.  Throwing off the wolf skin of her anger she pulled on a tattered humanity and took into her hands the salt of all the unshed tears.  She could not yet shed them, but these too were hers, and she chose to take them up, for they were purchased at the cost of her own pain, and were not for another to spend.


Her guides had told her she required Muspel’s own fire, but she knew not what for. The road to Muspelheim was not easy, but Loki had been called, as had been suggested, that he who was welcome at even the most fell hall should win her entrance, and it pleased him to do so.  As she gained it, I felt a rising within me.  I feared I knew what it was for, a gift that for most is not a gift, but one I had from His hands and one that was mine to share.  To the fire she offered the salts of her unshed tears, joy, pain, loss, sorrow, and laughter all she fed to the fire, and it danced as it consumed them; bright colours burned where the smith’s glow alone had burned.


To Hvergelmir our seiðkona came, yet the Mother of Waters would not wash her clean, for the filth inside her, the corruption and suppuration from the wounds long locked away would not wash clean; her own last and desperate strength yet bound those wounds closed.  I felt the spear grow light in my hand, and felt me steps draw near.


Skollvaldr I name him, father of treachery, Geirvaldr, spear god, and Sviðurr also, the burner.  She stood before the wall she built against her self, each brick half a wound from another’s hand, half a scar built to ward what remained.  She stood before the wall she could not overthrow and I struck.


Was it his insight that in truth would allow this fell blow to bring healing?  Is the the blade that cuts the Gordion knot that binds her, or is it my foolishness not his wisdom that guides a spear I can drive home but not remove?


I drive the fire she has paid so dear for deep into the corruption of her wound and I call. Sviðurr, the burner and Gapþrosnir, the one in gaping frenzy; I called two dark faces of Odin that I might teach her the last and worst of all.  I whispered fell as Loki to teach her to feed the filth of her corrupted wounds to Muspell’s flame, and burned she did like spear thrust Gullveig. Screamed she did as she burned, and was born in her Ygg, the destroyer.


All the rage of wounds denied and unborn as the tears she was never permitted were un-shed met the corruption of the malice of those that wounded her, and she burned.  My spear though her, she screamed one, twice, and thrice, thrashing as in frenzy as she rose ever burning and struck.




The face of Ygg the destroyer gave way to Wode the terrible and transcendent frenzy as the wall that blocked her wounds from every healing, and walled away and tainted every passion with fear and shame fell to storm and fire, to the brutal hammer blows of her will, and the purifying flame of her rage.


She burned bright, she burned clean, and raged far and deep into those parts of her that she had never been permitted.  She was not however alone, and whispers of her seid sisters stilled her rage and called for her Óski, the god of wishes and Sanngetall the truth finder, for what lay behind the wall was hers; the truth of who she was, what she desired, what she may yet become.  Stolen from her by ancient wrong, won from the might and pain of her own struggle, now hers to take back, hers to own, and hers to at last become.


Back I had vowed to bring her, hale and whole, but to be whole and hale meant not only to bring back those parts of her that had been long stolen, but to set aside those parts of her that were no longer needed.


The seiðkona left at the well those fetters that had bound her, the bandages tied in weakness that turned into fetters binding her from taking her strength, as she left her hatred.  Burning as Gullveig burned, all the corruption of others malice clawing its way in agony from her burning pores she was given the choice to give those who harmed her to Odin’s rage, or Tyr’s justice.  Ygg she had embraced, but Bolverk she denied; she would be destroyer, but not evil worker.  While the power and choice were hers, she gave them up to Tyr, the most holy, and offered to his justice those who had done her wrong, giving up her vengeance as he gave up his sword arm, for as Tyr taught, honour is worth more to us than power.


Hale and whole I swore, and hale and whole she stood.  Her face shone as I had never seen it, womanish curves where hard planes of man-like mask had hung, a power that she wore like a cloak, not a mask.  Storms raged in her eyes, but in the center of which stood a peace that would be hers when the storm winds stilled, a peace I do not think I had ever seen in her before.


I knew her, and yet she who stood before me I did not, yet know.  This was a woman who contained she whom I knew, but extended deeper, and broader, and whose nature was only now beginning to unfold.  I do not know her yet, but I think I may call myself lucky enough to be a part of her life going forward to come to know her as she will soon be.


The next night we came together as a community, and called the many named one to us, for Odin wears so many masks and names, it takes a community to contain him when it pleases him to walk among us.


Odin filled her as ever-flowing mead does a horn, full and overflowing, and as she grew god drunk on him, I saw her look and love, look and lust, laugh long and loud without reservation, saw her eyes flash in bright hot anger, burn with the dread knowledge of the wise, and the soft gentle love of a healer and knew he was teaching her the parts of herself long bound and tainted were hers now, clean and whole and loved by him.


He filled all who had served him in this, his greatest priestess, her seid sister, and the now healed seiðkona as he filled me.  I had to pay my price that night as well, for as I had asked for a healing beyond my skills so I was asked to see for others that night, to stand as seer, for this I had not done, this task I had never undertaken in his name, for I had always let that burden fall upon the seiðkona among us.  Nothing is free in his service, but nothing in his service is without reward.  A gift for a gift is his way.


We call upon the gods for help for ourselves and for each other.  The gods in turn give us to each other, to build a community in which we may come together and celebrate, to join our strength together that our joined might be equal to any task set before us.  When our own strength is not enough, we call upon our holy gods to aid us, and even here, they let us be their hands, that as they use us to do what is needful, they leave behind their teaching that each generation can do more for each other, and turn to the holy tribe for only that which still lay beyond us.


I do not have faith in my gods existence, I have knowledge which precludes faith.  I have faith rather when the gods ask us to step beyond what we can do in service of those of our folk who have needs.  Chain of command; I don’t have to understand the orders I am given, I have trust in the one who gives the orders, that he asks what is needful, and those who have received so much from the community accept the cost of doing such work, even in the sure and certain knowledge that the price of it may sometimes be beyond what we can survive.  We who have been his hands know he will not relent or shirk from protecting those we would give our all to protect, so we will take on faith (not happily, for we are not fools) that should we fall in the doing, he will see ours protected better by those hands that survive.


That is why we do the work.


That, and the feasting. Even should Ragnarok come, the day of battle will see a pot luck with tables groaning with the weight of fine meat and drink, goodly food of all kinds, the sounds of song, flirtation,  and laughter sounding loud as the tramp of feet and rattling of war gear, as his service is not one taken up in anything but joyful celebration, even at the end.  Sure, he may be the end of us, but you will never say the ride was anything less than worth it.

Odin Picture