For the last few decades, the Heathen world has maintained an uneasy truce between its various umbrella organizations through what is known as the Folkish versus Universalist debate. The idea was t…
I have long said that it is not the Troth’s place to tell the AFA how to run their house. We go our own way and have our own understanding of Heathenry, what it meant to our ancestors, and what it means to us today. I have said that, and I meant it. I don’t run their house, nor would I be welcome in it.
They don’t own Heathenry, neither does the Troth. However, Heathenry is my community, its peoples, all of them, are my peoples, and they are now under attack, and it is mine to defend them. The Troth does not own Heathenry, but we are sons and daughters of the Heathen community, we are listening to the AFA tell our brothers and sisters they are not welcome , that they have no right to be here, to follow our gods, or to raise the horn with us as symble and be part of our holy folk.
I have had enough. They do not have the right, and to be honest, they are not even correct. The AFA official body has spelled out in black and white in the recent release that if you are not white, or you are gay, you are not welcome. If your understanding of how to be a good and worthy Heathen man does not fit their definition of strong masculine man, you are not welcome. If your understanding of being a good and worthy Heathen woman is not to be a skirt wearing home caring mother, you are not welcome.
They are wrong, badly wrong. On one level I weep for their failures, and their failure to understand the words of our ancestors, the teachings of our holy gods, but to be honest, my first and strongest reaction is anger. How dare they usurp the place of our holy gods, and arrogant to themselves the right to decide who may and may not raise a horn to them, who may or may not feel the call to join with their folk in community and worship. How dare they attack my folk, my people, out of a failure to understand how living true to your heart, living honestly, openly and honourably as the teaching of your ancestors and your own best judgement teaches you, do not fit their own preconceived poster of what a Heathen should look like?
Genetic diversity in Viking Age grave sites was higher than modern, the maternal mitochondrial DNA studies have shown that among those women buried with grave goods consistent with full citizenship in their community, genetic diversity showed many tribal markings, some from as far away as Turkey or North American native. You did not have to be white then, or now to be a member of our community. These women were buried as women of the folk because that is how they lived. Then and now, we judge you by your deeds, your proven worth to us. Thus it was, thus it is, and while the Troth survives, thus it will be.
I am no universalist preacher, Heathenry is not for everyone. Our ways are harsh in many respects, you are expected to answer for your words and deeds. Our gods will not wave a magic wand and fix what you break, we have to deal with the consequences of our own actions. This is a hard sell for much of humanity who really want someone to tell them that a word without a deed is somehow enough.
You can be a strong masculine man, the very image of a Viking warrior, the poster boy for any army recruiter, and be a member of our community. We have lots of them. I am one. Of course in all honesty among those proven warriors you will find many who are not white, and many who are not men. Yes, strong men and women have chosen to understand their duty to the community requires a service that risks their lives. That is a common, understanding of how to meet your challenges and responsibilities.
There are many ways to live true as a good and worthy man, and good and worthy woman. Some fill traditional gender roles to the stereotypical T. Others follow their own talents and nature, their own responsibilities and roles to become strong and worthy Heathens in many other ways. Teachers, artists, builders, traders, lawyers, healers; in every art in every science, in every trade you will find us. There is no one right way to be Heathen, we were in ancient times a whole folk, a whole community of great and vital diversity of form, of nature, of opinion and expression. This richness was the endless source of the vigor and flexibility, of the cheerful boldness that allowed us to thrive when so many other peoples failed.
Our gods are harsh; they do not hold with those who are false, who stand as oathbreakers. In that stance we see from them not cruelty, but wisdom. It does you no good to pretend what is false, it does you no good and much ill to pretend to be what you are not. You build little worth attempting to be what you are not, when instead you can build much worth succeeding in being what you are. If our gods are harsh teachers, it is that we have only one life, and the sooner we realize the importance of living true to ourselves, the greater benefit we can be to ourselves, and to our communities.
Who you love is not important. How you love is. We do not care if you are straight, gay, or trans. We do care how you love; we care deeply about how you treat the ones you love, as we care deeply about how you treat those you work with, and for, and those who work for you. How your hold your oaths, care for those who depend on you. We care about your words and your deeds. Do you honour your relationships? If so we praise you and hold you in high esteem. If not then yes, you will have little worth in our eyes.
I have married several people, and hope to continue this practice in future. I did not care then if I was marrying man and woman, or two of the same. I cared that they were openly and honestly plighting their troth to each other, that their union would be loving, honest, and healthy.
The AFA care that you are white, straight, and fit neatly on their poster.
I believe they have gone badly wrong, while I will allow them to run their own house any way they see fit, including burning the roof above their own heads, I draw the line at their telling the Heathen community who may or may not be a member.
The Troth will not tell you who may or may not join any other organization than our own. That is not our place. The Troth ABSOLUTELY will tell you that we are open to all good and worthy heathens who understand and accept that the colour of your skin, your understanding of your gender, and who it is that you love do not in any way shape or form affect your membership in this community. If you are drawn to our gods, to honour the wights and ancestors, if you find the teachings themselves to be powerful and worthy guides to your life, and you can respect those who feel the same, even if their understandings may be different than yours, then you are welcome.
Ancient Heathens built strong inclusive communities. So do we. You will find those who are white and straight in our ranks, and you will find those that are not. We honestly don’t divide along those lines. You will find so many different ways to be a good and worthy Heathen under our banner, so many good examples of men and women who are living true, not to a stereotype, but to who they need to be to face the challenges given them. Diversity is strength, and the frith of a diverse community that loves and values that diversity knows no equal on earth. That is what we seek to build. The AFA have chosen their way. It is their right, but it is not, in my opinion, a Heathen one.
John T Mainer
Freyr of the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia
Redeman of The Troth
Once again there have been shootings in the United States that threaten to set the nation on fire.
We have black legal gun owners shot down by police in what is utterly indefensible circumstances. Clearly there is a problem that exists beyond a single or a few isolated individuals, but one that requires a real good internal cultural change in many police departments. This is a real problem, and requires real world, not politician sound byte, level solutions, and long term leadership on the police professional level to see through.
We have good and worthy officers gunned down at their post for the crime of being white officers doing their job. This is the way to begin a war, not the way to get social change. This is murder, this is not even revenge because these particular officers are good and worthy servants of the public, attacked simply for their uniform and race. It is not revenge, it is not justice, it is a deliberate attempt to provoke further shedding of black blood by police. This action is not just a single murder spree it is an attempt to make every cop more likely to react to armed blacks as a real and credible threat to life, to actually create more shootings. This is Black Lives Matters ultimate goal? To increase the number of people shot by police by teaching the police they are absolutely right to treat any armed black person as a real and imminent threat? Wilful promotion of hatred, its a crime up here, but I guess its OK when BLM does it.
Courage and Honour
I am a white Canadian veteran, looking at the insanity that is gripping the nation that is the closest to my own both geographically, and in our hearts. I have seen two shootings of black legal gun owners, apparently shot for being armed and black. I have seen five police officers gunned down while doing their duty to protect protesters and the public by doing riot duty, which I have done, and I really can’t say I met anyone who enjoyed.
I say this to you now. Courage and Honour.
I say this first as a blessing to those who put on the uniform every goddamned day, and go out and do a job that largely consists of seeing people on the single worst day of their lives, but this is every hour of your day, every day. I salute your courage, and acknowledge that you have acted, and will continue to act with honour although few will bother acknowledging this.
I say this to those who see a systematic abuse of their people by those who are charged with their defense. Yes, I say to those who are holding the police responsible where they are not following their own training or use of force procedures when dealing with the black community. You are acting with honour to demand the rights of all citizens be observed, have the courage to do what is right, not what is easiest.
Now the gloves come off, and I will tell you what no one has apparently wanted to hear for quite some time. USA is pretty close to not meaning United States of America, it is pretty close to meaning Unbelievably Syria Again.
That is right. You are working on turning your nation into a third world bombed out shithole like Syria, and you are doing it because as a nation you are systematically choosing to embrace your guns rather than growing the fuck up and dealing with each other.
To the police, I know some fine men and women in uniform, serving with honour all the citizens of their land. You know me, and I know you. Now let us speak the truth here. I served in uniform and well do I love my service, but I know my brothers and sisters, warts and all. Let us speak the truth here, not every person wearing the badge and uniform you do is brave enough to deserve it.
To walk as a keeper of the peace is to walk a line. You carry the tools and training of a killer, for you wield the power to take life in the name of the state. Your symbol is not the sword though, it is the shield. You are the shield of the state, the defender of the folk. You walk bearing armour and arms for a reason. The shield of the state is expected and required to be brave, and sometimes to risk the blows of others rather than use deadly force where it might not be justified.
I have read our own troops being criticized for taking fire in the streets as we rolled through in convoy and not responding. Choosing to continue through and dismount, working our way back through town seeking the shooters, unwilling to exchange fire without a clear target and viable sightline. Sometimes you take fire without returning it because your job is not to shoot up the cities but to engage hostiles and eliminate them as threats. It requires more courage to hold your fire until you have a clear understanding of the situation, and a confirmed target, than it does to simply pump rounds downrange and let the gods sort out the breakage.
To the police I charge you twice. First have courage, courage to be sure that you are under attack before you reach for force, as once violence is chosen by one side, all other options are gone from both. Secondly, remember your honour. The honour of your badge and your uniform, of your service and your state is not just in your hands but those of your brothers and sisters. If they are not living up to those standards it is you, and not the media, you and not the legal system, who I expect to defend the honour of your service by CLEANING YOUR OWN DAMNED HOUSE. You know there are those treating their badge like a hunting license, using their position to harass those they look down on, and who look at every single citizen who is not wearing the same uniform as enemy.
That is not good enough. If that is the way you look at those you are sworn to protect, take off the badge before you foul it further. You got lost somewhere, and until you remember why you took up service, you serve best by walking away.
To the “Black Lives Matter” protesters. You are responsible for so much violence, so much hatred, you are not part of the problem, oh no you are a brand new problem all together. You want to see what a civil war looks like? Go enlist and serve in one. Go see what third world shitholes look like when people who couldn’t decide their issues with words turned to guns and shattered the lives of millions of normal people just trying to get by.
Have the courage to own your own shit. You are angry? Suck it up buttercup. That is not a license for violence. You are determined to start a war. You don’t have a clue what the high cost of your rhetoric is, but I do. Soldiers clean up the messes of speech makers, protesters, slogan chanting morons whose feelings are more important than the consequences of their actions. Have the courage to look in the mirror and own what you see, understand that when you provoke a confrontation, all the blood that follows is on your hands.
Honour: Remember yours. To those who cry out for justice, have the honour to stick to that demand and I will join your call. Choose instead to seek vengeance, and you have become a threat, a danger whose true cost will be far higher than you can guess, and far more terrible than you will ever bother to accept.
The United States used to have a motto, E Pluribus Unum. From many come one. In the 1950’s, you decided to change the words on your bills to “In God We Trust”. Well the god that your founding fathers fought so hard to keep out of the government of the Union they forged is not about tolerance, accommodation, or reason. It is no coincidence that since that time the “us/them” thinking has been the constant of the United States.
Canada is racially and culturally diverse, we frequently don’t get along. Our police are not shining examples of virtue all the time either, but we are not one match away from civil war. You people are.
Black lives matter, but the movement is a mad dog running in the street biting everyone it sees. I see Black Lives Matters protesters blocking the Gay Pride Parade demanding the police be barred from having floats. Wow, such an amazing grasp of intolerance, you really have identified the best way to make it clear that what you mean is “ONLY BLACK LIVES MATTER”.
Blue lives mater. The police have a job I do not envy, as do Fire and EMT who likewise are doing their best to serve and protect all communities, but with a growing awareness that some calls may not be people in distress, but invitations to ambush. Blue lives matter, they really do, but part of why they matter is that good cops work damned hard to make sure that their brothers and sisters in uniform do the job for which they took the oath, serving and protecting the public, not preying on it.
I look to the south, to my friends and neighbors. I say to you; courage and honour. You were once a great people, a land made great by the sons and daughters of every corner of the world united in a vision of freedom and opportunity. You are still that people, though you know it not. E pluribus unum. From many peoples come one. Or follow the Syrian path, the Yugoslav path, the Lebanese path, and turn your nation into a warzone, where the hand of every man is raised against the other, and children fear to walk the streets without armed escort.
Choose wisely, but understand, it takes two sides to make a compromise, and only one to wage a war.
In Orlando Florida, the Pulse nightclub was getting ready to celebrate Latin night, but it was not to be. Omar Mateen had other plans. An American born of refugee parents, he came to Pulse with the intention of killing as many gay men as possible, answering the call of ISIS to do so during Ramadan.
Omar killed fifty, wounded another fifty three before being killed. For those who advocate open carry as a cure all to stop mass shootings, he was engaged by armed off duty officers working security early in the battle, to no avail. With a legally purchased long gun and pistol he carried out his attack over an extended period, at times hunting, at times holding hostages, until the police were able to force entry and shoot him.
Before and during the attack he told 911 dispatchers he did this for ISIS and its leader. We have a pure act of Islamic Terrorism against the LGBT community simply for existing.
There are a few side issues that people may get distracted by, lets get them out of the way.
Gun Control hotspots:
He was a licenced gun owner
He passed screening checks, even though files existed from multiple investigations for radicalization
There were armed officers present at the start of the attack and that was not enough to stop it
Both sides in the gun debate have points they will latch upon, and points they will gloss over, but the fact is this person had been investigated multiple times, worked in security, and passed all the checks to get his guns just days before the attacks. Legislation would not have prevented this, unless you took guns away from everybody, then it would have been done with fire or explosives instead.
He was born in the United States. He was not a radical foreigner, an enemy agent, and ungrateful refugee turning on their saviours, he was a citizen, born and raised into the country he acted against. He was radicalized, as so many terrorists over the years, by ideas and hatreds that sneak across borders as whispers, far beyond any border defenses to stop. Listen closely and you will hear lots of hateful whispering going on even in our countries.
The LGBT community was targeted because conservative Islamics, like conservative Christians, find the existence of LGBT offensive. In the name of Ar-Rahim the exceedingly merciful, As-Salam, the source of peace and safety, and Al-Gaffar the repeatedly forgiving, Omar entered a club where people came together to celebrate joy and love, and hunted down and killed with cold fury, all the while calling out Allahu Akbar (God is Great). Calling out to a god whose bynames include the Merciful and the Lovingkind, he showed nothing but empty hatred, as sadly will much of the responses to the attack from our own nations.
The LGBT community is easy to target, as homophobia is not simply taught, it is preached by many conservative faiths in every corner of our nation. As much as we could point to ISIS and blame them for this, the same hatred is being preached in pulpits across the land, from churches, to temples, mosques, and I will admit what others in my own faith community will cringe at, in holy heathen sumbel as well.
Conservative elements in many faiths, my own among them, target the LGBT Communty because they want to, and because we let them get away with it. They are the last group you can go after with impunity, standing on your freedom of religion to practice persecution and hatred, while pretending you are doing something sacred.
Our own Troth has a very firm policy on willful promotion of hatred against any group, by race, by gender, by sexual orientation, whatever the cause. If you wish to hate a class of human being just for existing, we will come down on you like the Hammer of Thor, and bounce you right out of our halls. Not every group in our faith tradition feels the same.
There are moderate mosques whose teachings are not reflected in this shooting, but it is easier to pretend that this was done by all Muslims. There are moderate Christian churches whose parishioners would just as cheerfully stand in defense or solidarity with the LGBT community as the worthy Heathens of the Troth, but they must also own the existence of many powerful churches whose words are almost indistinguishable from those of ISIS towards the gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual communities.
It will be easy to get up tomorrow and scream to take all the guns away, to give everyone guns, to turn against the refugees, to turn against the Muslims. It will be whispered in darker corners that the LGBT community somehow brought this attack on themselves for the crime of not being ashamed to be honest about how and whom they love. The easy thing is seldom right, and the right thing is seldom easy.
Tomorrow I will embrace the diversity of my nation, and my neighbors. Tomorrow I will extend my hand in friendship to those who have been touched by the loss of loved ones, or those who are scarred from what they have witnessed. Tomorrow I will begin to raise my voice against extremism, and the heavy cost our peoples pay when we allow our enemies to turn us against ourselves.
Tonight I will pray to Freya:
We give thanks to the Lady of Life and Love who has shared with us the delight of dance, music and movement, the sweetness of honey, the fire of wine. We give thanks for your gifts of spirit and flesh:
When sunlight gilds the growing grain,
And scatters gold upon the sea,
When apple-blossom scents the air,
In these things, Freyja, I find Thee.
Tomorrow we will take up our banners and shields and begin the clash of will and words that marks this thing we call keeping of the peace, but tonight we call upon the lady of love, the lady of the dance, into whose arms come first pick of all the dead, we call upon her mercy to guide those lovers and dancers who fell this day, that they may find their way to the halls of their ancestors. Great Freya, I ask you let Brisengamen’s renewing light shine on all of those who have lost, that they may heal and again remember the fallen as they were in love and life.
John T Mainer
Redesman of the Troth
Freyr of the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia
CBC News link on shooting
Bynames of Allah
Prayer courtesy of Diana Paxson, Head of the Troth Clergy Program
Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman and tried to run away when caught in the act. He was found guilty of three felonies: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. His father believes prison is not appropriate for his “20 minutes of action”.
First, here is the most egregious part of his letter, highlighted in yellow:
As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th.
By the events – as opposed to “by his actions”. This was not an event that happened to him, this is a thing he chose to do. (deflection, rape culture, blame shifting, patriarchy)
He will never be his happy go lucky self…etc.
Because he’s a rapist. (Son should be able to remain unchanged after committing heinous…
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I am a judgemental bastard. I don’t judge you by race, by religion, sexual orientation or gender, but I do judge each and every one of you, and have never pretended otherwise.
I judge you by your deeds, and how they match what I see as your duty. Lots of you do really poorly by this standard. Some of you do really well. What makes me laugh long, hard and long, is the number of surprises on both lists.
Success is the measure by which a shallow society judges. Our society is deeply flawed, and many of its attributes are counter to its survival requirements. I am not a society, and reserve the right to judge otherwise.
Those who think yourselves success because you have won, or have achieved what you want. Some of you I will hail, and some of you I wouldn’t waste good quality spit upon. Sadly, too few will recognize which side of that line they fall on.
Those of you who think yourselves failures because of what you have lost are not looking into any eyes but the haunted ones staring back at you from the mirror, look at me if you dare. Some of you are failures because you have turned your back upon what is important. If you dare to recognize this you are not yet lost. Some of you think are failures because you gave your all where you duty was owed and it was not enough.
Look at me. Look me right in the eyes and here this. That is loss, not failure. You stood where your duty was, held true to those who were owed your loyalty and gave all the strength that you had. Wyrd weaves as it will, and it is yours only to determine if and how you will fight, not if you will win. The gods themselves march towards their doom out of duty and loyalty. If they cannot command victory, why should we, their bannermen and women, be expected to do better.
I have seen the shaming that comes from those coping. I have seen people mocked for using medication to allow them to function. Those who battle with mental illness or chronic medical conditions are often faced with a choice; to take up the tools and weapons that they have access to and perhaps succeed, or to stay “pure” and fail. Those who depend on you, your spouses, your children, they are owed your every effort, not your every “pure” effort, not your every wholesome and all natural effort, they are owed your best.
I do not take drugs for my chronic pain. This is made necessary by the fact that those drugs given to a nearly three hundred pounds of veteran and former competitive marital artist with a whole lot of really, really ugly memories and triggers kept under rigid controls, make me a real and imminent threat to all of those under my protection, should I take those medications. I do not stay off the drugs because I am better than other people, I stay off the drugs because I can’t afford to take them. DO NOT READ THIS AS A STATEMENT OF POSITION ON THE USE OF MEDICATION. To say I can’t take pain or spasm medication without serious risk is a description of one of my physical limitations, like the fact that I must kneel while others would squat, if I wish to bear weight or exert force. It is just a limitation I must work around, and not a policy statement.
Men and women come into this world innocent. That is not a moral position, that is moral ignorance. It is cute in babies, and unforgivable in adults. There are a whole lot of people out there doing battle every single day just to get up, deal with the physical and mental problems that life has burdened them with. When you pass each other on the stairs, and you smile at each other, do you see their burdens? I do. I can’t stop seeing them. A true picture of that person you are mocking for taking drugs to keep their condition to a point where they can control it and function at a high enough level to know both economic and relationship success would have the two of you together running on the track, you in running gear, them with a full infantry pack upon their back. Yes, you run the same track, but no, you cannot possibly compare your journey around that track as being the same, or mock them if they need heavy boots to support their ankles, where you do not. You have no idea the cost the burden brings with it, and no idea what is required to make it possible to get up under that load and dare to achieve.
- The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.
The Havamal recognizes this truth, as our ancestors recognized this truth. Life isn’t fair, and it isn’t over if you still live. I will not say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, because it is sophistry. Scars do not make us strong, but to bear a scar, you must have survived. Those who bear many scars have survived much, and that took strength. It didn’t actually provide you any strength, it cost much, and may have taught you how much you have to give, but understand each and every scar, the visible and the invisible cost.
We look at PTSD and our veterans and we want to make either saints or demons out of them. They bear a huge weight in scars, have survived much that you either couldn’t’ understand, or bear similar scars enough not to have to ask, because you already know. Each of those scars had a cost, some were less than the power gained from the lessons recovery taught them, some were more. None were free. Few indeed are visible, but all are there. The fact is the bulk of the veterans are passing you on the stairs with a smile, because they are used to marching with the rucksack on their back, and simply accept its weight as normal. On days when their strength is lower, they may not be able to rise with it either, but the odds are they will never let you see that in their face.
We reward the lucky people, and shame the ones whose burden was more than they can bear. As a society, we do lots of stupid shit. I try to do better than that. Sometimes I even succeed.
All of you who struggle every day to get out of bed and face the day, and your demons, because you have things to do, and people depending on you, that is the definition of winner, the process by which worth is build in your community, and found within yourself. You are worthy, and I see it.
People speak of medication, or therapy, or faith as crutches. I hate to tell you this, I can’t count the number of times I needed crutches because my legs were unable to support me, and it was use a crutch or don’t walk. If you are walking with a crutch when you don’t need it, then you are being less than you could be. If you are walking with a crutch, because you need it, then all praise to you for bearing the burden and choosing to get up and walk anyway.
I don’t care what colour you are, what religion if any that you practice. I don’t care whether you love boys or girls, or both together. I can and will judge you on how you bear your burdens, on how you honour your obligations. I may not even like you personally, but if I see you bearing your burdens, whether you bitch about it or not, and meeting your obligations with honour, I will respect you for it.
I will be a judgmental bastard until they burn my corpse, and possibly after. I judge you by what I see from you, and so many of you who judge yourselves have no idea how much you shine in my eyes, and how the things that you think make you ugly are instead to me beacons of your courage and your worth.
I live with chronic pain, and some days are better than others, but the key word here is live. I don’t let pain keep me from work, from doing my duty to wife or children, or from doing such activities as bring me pleasure, like getting out and enjoying the physical comforts of my community celebrating together.
Right now I can barely breathe, an old wound, the kind you get when you get your ass handed to you by a black bear strong enough to toss three hundred pounds of me like an empty beer can, has my left chest and abdomen on fire. Whenever the scar tissues inside get aggravated this happens. The bastard damned near killed me, but I got up again, and he didn’t, so I have nothing to bitch about. This is what victory feels like, so the Victory Father expects me to savour his gift, and I do.
Before the incident with the bear I picked up a chronic and degenerative spinal issue that will leave me with pain and spasm for the rest of my life. The drugs that I was given are not ones that I can afford to be on, as they made me a danger to be around. So, no drugs for me, I needed a better way, and I was given one.
Most of us who wore some form of green, be it CADPAT, MARPAT, or Multicam learn the way of the berserk, to use pain as fuel for power. This is an awesome tool to drive your body beyond its limits, and explains why veteran soldiers and atheletes who get up in the morning like 80 year old men can out march, out work, and out fight the young and hale soldiers under them. It only works when you are pushing, and really is not a constructive model to use at home.
There is another way, a really counter intuitive way. I did not figure this out, and I did not seek out instruction to learn this, for honestly, no one was teaching it. At the worst time in my life I chose to take the pain and lack of sleep and make use of it through and ordeal.
Ordeals are stupid. Seeking to do an ordeal is really stupid. Sometimes you are already dealing with all the negatives anyway, sometimes you have already paid the cost, it is only for you to take up these tools that have been thrust upon you and weild them in your own defense. I know there are people that talk about what you can do with ordeals, well balance the cost of the damned things to body, mind and spirit and what you are basically proposing sounds a lot like “shove a football (fully inflated, none of this Tom Brady half inflated crap) up your vagina to understand the miracle of childbirth!”
If that sounds really stupid, then that is exactly how I feel about putting yourself through an Ordeal, rather than accepting your wyrd and turning to the gods and ancestors for assistance when you are undergoing a period of life changing trial (ie, you are already given the ordeal, now you are simply asking for instruction). If you find yourself with something the size of a league official football on the wrong side of your vagina, then childbirth, even if it is an ordeal, really represents the best of the available options. When you ought to be doing an ordeal, that is the sort of choices you are looking at, if stupid and horrific is the commonality of your choices, but one represents a better option for going forward, that would be the path of the ordeal, that is what it was left for.
I am an active person, my nature and my training have always been to act. Even as soldier and hunter, waiting and watching is not passive, it is immersive, extending yourself and stilling yourself to a state of utter awareness leaving you at rest in such a way as to be able to be able to act instantly, not so much at rest as poised to complete a pending action. Of course, none of these tools or techniques will help at all, and most will get in the way.
The reality of the lesson of the Tree Hanger is one that I was not prepared for until I had exhausted all other options, all strength, had all pride and will stripped away until I was ready to accept whatever instruction was offered, reguardless of how it meshed with what I knew.
When you speak of submission and pain, people frequently make the sort of mistakes that mistake BDSM for spirititual practice, you could not go farther wrong if you tried deliberately to. That is aversion to pain, submission to the person hurting you. That is kink not cope. Now don’t get me wrong, if you get your rocks off on BDSM, have fun doing it, and you will also learn lovely ways to make use of pain, but like the path of the berserk, it will not help you when you have no strength left, for lust like rage is active, not passive, and fails with your own limits.
Submission to pain is the lesson of the Tree Hanger.
My ordeal experience was messed up, the way such things generally seem in the lore, and I’m not sure where the symbolism was drawn from, was it external and that explains why it is similar to the lore, was it internal, and because I had read the lore that is where the images were pulled from? Don’t know, don’t care. Really more of a pragmatist myself. I could care less where the torque wrench was invented, I just want one that works. I got one that works, and this is how you use it.
The meditation to implement this is unpleasant, but hey, if you are already deep enough in pain to be needing it, unpleasant is not a problem. If the meditation I am about to describe is too unpleasant for you, then you are really not in that much pain, so suck it up J
I prefer to imagine myself sitting, if you can’t physically sit, the mental image still works, but closing your eyes becomes more important so that physical reality does not conflict with the mental imagry at the beginning..
For me pain is a dark red, not the bright red spray of fresh blood, but the dark red filth of old clot. Imagine yourself sitting at the base of the tree, your back to it. Imagine your pain rising up out of the ground, and lapping at your body. Breathe deep, and relax. Pain is rising, pain is filling your body. Flowing from your legs and back, a building tide of it, and your body is recoiling striving to react. You breathe in the fear, the aversion to pain, and you let it go. The pain fills your belly, and the sickness of it fills you, the horror and shame of weakness fills you. Breathe in all of this, and expel it. The pain rises slowly within and without you, lapping at your chest, filling your lungs as you drown in it. Your survival instincts now seek to take you over, fight or flight rises, but you are on the tree now, not a part from it. This is the choice; to hang from the tree, or to run from it.
At this point you take the mental action, the spiritual act of choice. At this point you sacrifice yourself to yourself. The tree is the tool, the tree is not the object nor the recipient of the sacrifice, you are. The tree simply is, binding the worlds within and without and making what is done here binding across all the worlds we touch; inner, outer, and beyond. At the point where your sanity is clawing at your controls and demanding you act, take up the spear, for when you open your hand it will be given you, and drive it into the source of your pain, and pin yourself to the tree.
This act, sacrificing yourself to yourself is the only active portion you can do, as you are literally actively choosing to be passive before your pain. The pain will now rise and fill your mouth and nose, cover your eyes, and fill your ears. You will be in the silence and the dark filled with and consumed by your pain. You do not offer your pain resistance, it is your pain, you claim it not only for yourself, but as yourself. You submit to your pain let it fill you, and you dwell within the pain, allowing yourself to experience it fully and deeply. Learn it. Know it, let it know you. Learn and accept it as you.
Breathe, pain flows in, pain flows out, pain flows through you like your blood, filling you, sustaining you. Your body cries out against it, but you do not listen. You hang upon the tree, you hang as sacrifice, yourself to yourself, and pain fills you by your act of will. Breathe, pain flows in, pain flows out, pain flows through you, and you know it as your own, you own it, you know it as yourself.
Open your eyes now, feel the pain throughout your body, feel it and accept it. Do not reach for adrenaline, do not reach for power to fight back the pain. Let the pain fill you, submit to pain, as you submit to the cold of winter or heat of summer, letting your body accept and adapt to the new normal, and while the pain, like cold and heat, are not forgotten, they are background colours of what your senses perceive, and again the rest of the world comes into focus.
Submission to the pain, embrace of the pain, accepting that you as you are now and going forward includes the pain is the goal of the exercise. Now the pain does not get in the way of noting pleasure, hunger, joy, want, sadness, anger. You do not need to expend strength at all times to fight it, but rather you can relax into the pain when you do not need your strength and enjoy life, take respite, restore your strengthe and take pleasure, knowing that when the time comes to embrace your power and once again consume the pain via the active pathways we already know, you will have your full reserves to use for the times we need to overcome our bodies limitations, and pay the price for power.
The people of the Mediterranean and Red Seas built rigid ships that resisted the sea, and they drowned when it turned against them. The people of the North faced a great angry sea, a terrible power that could not be resisted, so they didn’t’ try. The klincker build ships of our ancestors accepted the terrible power of the sea with cheerful unconcern. Their ships bent like a willow, great serpents that slithered through the sea, not brittle sticks that broke upon it. They did not fight the sea, they danced with it. From them we inherit the lesson not to spend our strength against the tides, but to learn to move with them.
When pain is a stream we stride through it, when pain is a river we build to channel it, when pain is the sea, we must learn to accept it, to learn its ways, to move with it, and to learn to ride its currents to take us where we need to go.
I like life, I like pleasure, and accomplishment, power, challenge, love, lust, the burn of alcohol, the savour of fine foods, the sight of beautiful women, and the company of good friends. Pain is the cost of admission, so it behooves me to see that paying that price is both worth it in terms of what I receive in return, and in terms of the cost to my body and mind of that pain.
I am not going to tell you this takes away your pain, because it doesn’t. I am going to tell you that I don’t bother taking pain medication at all, because what I have learned literally gives me more comfort and function than the finest narcotics junkies and physicians rhapsodize about. Given the choice between what chemistry can do for me, or what the tools the gods and ancestors have given me can do instead, chemistry can go back to making mead where I have some use for it.