Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Winter Nights

Green Wode Winter II

 

Snow was falling as I headed to the Green Wode for Winter Nights.  Heathens of the Nine Realms was hosting, a group I have been privileged to see grow from seeds planted in the broader pagan community and grow into a thriving, frithful, heathen community.  We came to mark the end of fall, the end of the harvest, and turn our eyes to the coming winter, to the dark, and to the dead.

 

Joining with us in this celebration were a local coracle building society, the artist who crafted these hardy boats had offered one of her coracle shells as a devotional offering for the Winter Nights fire, asking only that she be able to film the offering of her vessel, her artistry.

 

We began to gather at four as snow fell with the fading sunlight, to cease with the moonrise to leave us with a moonlit night filled with the sounds of the farm, field and forest animals, to which we added the music of fire, the songs of men and women, the stories of our ancient folk and faith.

 

A Tablero board appeared by magic, and Steven and I sat with dice and drink before us to compete at board as we do at spears.  Discussion roams from lore to history, to mythology to family, to our own lives and back again.  Laughter and jest between old friends who admit no barriers between them, courtesy and hospitality mark the newcomers who learn to accept the welcome of a community that holds to its own soul and does not lower itself to judge others by the labels our larger society seems content to divide itself with.  Come as you are, be who you are, and be welcome among us.

Tablero

 

Winter Nights was the feast that marked the end of the harvest season, the feast which marked the determination of which animals would be fed through the winter, which would be slaughtered to feed the folk.  Our priestess marked with Valkyrie mask lead our sheep masked offering about the fire, before ritually sacrificing him, and offering his blood to the fire and gods.

Upon the fire balanced the woven wooden frame and hull of a coracle, the ship given to the fire to carry away for us the hopes and dreams we offer, the brags of what we have done, the boasts of what we will do; the ship that will carry the grave goods and prayers to those we have lost in this season.  As the horn past, those of our kin, of our family, and of our dearest friends who had fallen were remembered, their glories sung, the place they held in life was shared, and the place they will hold forever in our hearts and minds was carved.  The ship which was the funeral vessel of our folk, either given to fire and wave in Viking funeral, or interred above our dead in the more common ship-grave is the vessel that no only carries us through this life, but from it.

Coracle making II

 

The coracle snapped and crackled in the fire as we hailed our holy gods, offering to them our praise, our thanks, our prayers, and tokens of our own craft and skill.  Each chose to honour the god or goddess whom had given the most to their lives in the year that was, and shared the lessons they had learned, the changes they had made, or were vowing now to make in the year to come.

 

Horn passed again, and we turned to offer to those gathered in sumbel with us, or who had sumbeled with us before but were not able to be here tonight.  Brightly we wove our wyrd together as we offered a gift for a gift, the bright offerings of praise and glory to those who had touched our lives, inspired us, aided us, challenged us, stood with us through storm and trial, test and hardship.

Altar Horn

 

Feast we then shared, groaning tables heavy with food both from the kitchens of our host, and from each guest who sought to bring an offering of matching worth to the hospitality they knew they would receive, and more than twice our number could eat.  Loud the hall with conversation and laughter, deep thoughts and discussions of lore and sacred mystery mixed with raucous tales and moments of mirth and jest as there were no borders for discussions with those who felt such connections between them.

 

Back to the night we trod, stoked the fire high again as we offered now more personally as the horn passed to us, sharing of our lives with those whom we now felt more comfort.  Bright the deeds that were shared, bold the boasts that were bared for the first time, those who had long cherished dreams that they at last dared to make come to pass in the world, to stake their fortune and their name to succeed or fail as wyrd wills.  In such company none feared to offer the truth of the goals they aimed at, the hopes they strove for, the secret dream they would pledge themselves to bring forth.  The goals were both personal and profound, some so daring that you had to salute the majesty of the quest and the courage of those who would so openly swear themselves to the doing.

 

Song now was offered, haunting melodies of love and loss in Finnish and Swedish, even Liam was induced to offer to us the Lord of Castlemere

 

https://youtu.be/-FF2fBRKxtk?list=RDi2vlXuEmfag

 

Tales now were told of our ancient gods, of alf and troll, god and hero as the moon lit the dark wood and the shadows danced around the fire to paint the night with dancing shadows to paint the night with glimpses of worlds of myth and mystery.

 

Many were free to spend the night wrapped in their bedding by the fire in the Red Room, but I, alas had to get back to pick up my daughter from work.  For me Winter Nights would end, but another hearty meal awaited those lucky enough to spend the night, for hospitality such as this is to be treasured more than the gold which is actually easier to find and less rewarding to hold.

 

Winter is come, and the folk are strong and whole, together in the sight of our gods, ancestors, and the wights of our lands and waters.   A gift for a gift, thanks for the bounty of the year that was, and promise to use that we will take no more than we need, and give back in return full measure.

Bonfire

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Death, Faith, Heathen, Uncategorized

Noir

A little Halloween story, a Samhain sampling, or a little Noir to colour the shadows this winterfinding.  This story is not mine, for it was born from myself and Kat Kerns.  Neither one of us is sure how much the story told itself, so neither one of us takes much credit for it.

How it began:

Soundly asleep then instantly awake, but not knowing why. The clock reads 2:00 am; the house is silent except for the ever present dripping of the leaky faucet in the bathroom. ‘Why am I awake’ I thought to myself. My mind was alert to every sound and shift of shadow, my heart beating quickly out of time but not afraid. Suddenly I realized I wasn’t alone, not that I could see anyone in the darkened room, but I could feel a presence… instead of racing faster my heart beat calmed.

I felt strangely safe even though I knew I shouldn’t. Who could be in my house, in my room, and why wasn’t I afraid? I sat up in bed and turned on the lamp on the night stand. Looking across my room I saw…

Bogart smoking                                                            *

I don’t know how long it had been this time.  When your dead, time doesn’t matter that much.  I got plugged back in ’32, that was OK.  You cross some lines you have to figure there’s going to be a cost.  A dame gets involved and suddenly you start breaking your own rules, people get hurt.  Dead hurt.  I fixed it back then; but not before the kid got caught up in it.  One innocent, and a whole bunch of mooks who probably had it coming.  Like I did.  Somebody was keeping score though, ’cause it didn’t end when I died.

It was 43 when I got brought back first I think……..that little wop kid getting a bum rap because he had the wrong accent when they needed to hang an ugly wrap that came from one of the country club set.  Last time was what 93, the old broad who thought she was losing it because she could see me.  She couldn’t see her kid putting the squeeze on her loot, or selling her meds on the street.

He took a long drag on his smoke, pulling it deep into his lungs.  The cherry on the end burned in the night like a red eye.  Ghost smoke into ghost lungs.  The broad on the bed turned and looked right at him, and turned on the light.  He put out the smoke on the wall, noting it didn’t leave a mark.  Ghost smokes don’t leave marks.  Neither did he.  Or at least, not enough to erase the mark he made when he was alive.

He waited for the screams to start, or looking at the bottle from last night to figure out where the ghost crawled out of.  He hated this part.  Funny how nobody wants to listen to the dead they called back.  It’s not like he chose to be here.  That’s a lie.  He smiled, cold and hard.  I made my choice a long time ago.  Every drinker knows, no matter what’s your poison, the bill comes due at the end of the night.  It’s a long night when you’re dead.

Time to find out what this dame’s story was.  He didn’t always get it right, sometimes they still died.  He didn’t know how many times he had to get it right before he would get to rest.  Not a lot else to do when your dead.  She didn’t seem to be screaming.  Maybe this one would listen long enough to stay alive.

*

The spectral man seemed to be waiting for me to do something… perhaps scream or faint, not sure. He seemed surprised when I just watched him calmly. He looked vaguely familiar, like I should know him from somewhere. Perhaps he simply reminded me of someone I knew once or something. I took a moment to asses him, he had all the marks of a hard life when he’d been alive; at least I assumed he did. Not knowing how death worked, I really couldn’t say. Part of me knew I should be freaking out or questioning my sanity, but for some reason the only thing the spirit inspired in me was a sense of safety and calm, I knew somehow that he wasn’t here to hurt me.

Perhaps it was his eyes that inspired that, they had the look of a man resigned to his fate tinged with a touch of sadness. He put on a strong front as he drew on a spectral cigarette before putting it out against my wall; I was more than a little bit relieved to see that it didn’t leave a burn mark. They were always so hard to remove, I’d learned that well enough from an ex boyfriend who had been nothing but trouble when we were together and for a time even more trouble when we broke up. I still don’t know what it was I saw in him to begin with; maybe it was the challenge of the bad boy that many women make the mistake of assuming they can change, or perhaps pure masochism on my part. Whatever it had been, it was bad from beginning to end and I was well quit of him. I decided to say something maybe find out what he was here for, I was sure the spirit had a reason for being here; he didn’t seem the type to just be wandering through randomly. It was like I knew that he had a message of some sort, or perhaps he simply needed my help.

“Um… hello?” I said hoping that we could actually communicate.

*

The broad wasn’t freaking out like most of them did.  Wasn’t just sitting their giggling like that twin in 73; she never got straight long enough from the junk she was on to realize what was up.  It wasn’t hard watching that one go.   I watched a lot of people go in the Great War, and a few when I came back and worked as a cop.  Only a few more when I started work as a private dick, but one of those was her.  Angie.  The one I screwed up. The reason I’m here.

This girl looked smart, he could work with that.  She didn’t look scared though.  That was bad.  He may not have figured out much about why he kept coming back, but he knew that he only came back for kids on the edge of getting whacked.  Innocents like Angie.  No bottle this time, and no blonde; no chance to screw it up.

Sometimes they got in deep with the wrong people.  Sometimes it was family, and that got real ugly.  Sometimes it was love; god knows love is what screwed him up bad enough to let Angie get killed.  Even dead, that one won’t let him go.

This girl didn’t have the look; didn’t look hunted or scared.  That was bad.  She had no idea what was coming for her, and couldn’t tell me.  I pulled my .45 and checked the clip; five rounds, always five.  It begins again the same.

The girl pulled the blanket up when I pulled my gat, but still didn’t look scared.  She should be.  I only had one chance to get it right, last chance was all I ever got.

Memory gets bad towards the end, the things you try not to bring with you.  I remember the endings.  The blonde comes again, when I lose, she spits on me.  When I win she kisses me.  Funny, when she kissed me for real, I lost it all.  I lost Angie.  The dark one comes, her I know.  Half her face rotted and rat chewed, like the guys the shells dug out and tossed back in the trenches, all swollen up and bursting.  Half her face pale, cold, and hard.  A smile like the cocked hammer of my .45.  Then the dark.  Always the dark.

I walked forward into the light, no shadows for me I guess, since I’m not much more than one myself.  It was time to talk.  Probably too late, I was usually too late.  Two rounds wasted one bottle and one girl gone.

“What’s your story kid?  Who wants you dead?”

I lit another cigarette and took a drag, the smoke pulled deep and held, as I looked for her response.  Surprise.  Huh.  Always hard when you didn’t see it coming.

“Nothing personal toots, but if you see me, you got maybe an hour before somebody gets dead.  And right now, the smart money is still on you.”

I blew a long trail of smoke into the lamp light, and I laughed gently.

“But I always bet the wrong way, and sometimes win”

My smile used to do the trick.  Calmed the guys in the trenches calmed the cops on the scene who were turning green over their first corpse.  It never worked on dames though.  Of course, I never got that part right.  Even dead.

***

Dead? Someone wanted me dead, and this spirit was here to warn me. The gun he’d pulled out had startled me a bit, but I still didn’t think he was here to hurt me, but asking me who wanted me dead, that was totally unexpected. To the best of my knowledge no one wanted me dead. I mean the only person I could even think of who might even be angry with me was Joey, I mean he did take the break up hard and I had to get a restraining order, but I couldn’t imagine him actually wanting me dead because of it… could I?

Well, there was no way to be sure, if this spirit was here to warn me of my impending potential death then I had best figure out what to do about it. From the sound of things, he felt there might be a chance for me to survive so I’d better work quickly. Did he know the nature of the threat; was it personal, could it be accidental? All I knew for sure was that I wasn’t about to just sit in bed and let it happen. My mother didn’t raise a fool; she made sure that if her baby girl got herself into trouble she was strong enough to get herself out of it. I nodded my understanding to the shade, and got out of bed. Moving to my dresser I started pulling clothes out, I wasn’t going to face whatever was coming in my freaking nightgown. I paused only momentarily to glance at the spirit, but than continued to get dressed. He’d mentioned an hour at most, now was no time for modesty. Fully dressed in a tee shirt and jeans, I pulled my hair back into a pony tail to keep it out of my face and moved to my closet. I found myself very glad that my parents had seen fit to teach me how to shoot as I opened the gun safe and took out my 9mm glock. For a moment I considered grabbing my fathers .357 magnum but I wanted something light just in case. Who knew what I was going to be up against. Speed and maneuverability might be my saving grace. I made sure it was loaded with a round chambered and put a couple of extra clips in my pocket just to be sure.

I decided to grab my hiking boots and put them on, who knew if I was going to need to make a run for it. I was still unnaturally calm through all of this; well maybe I would fall apart later if I made it through the rest of the night. Once again I turned to look at the spirit, harbinger of doom or saving angel, didn’t matter, I was going to take full advantage of this warning. I for one was not ready to die this night.

“Okay, now what?” I asked him.

*

She said she didn’t have a clue who would want her dead, but her eyes said she was lying. She picked up a cannon, and put it back in favor of some boxy piece that looked like someone took my .45 and squashed it down to half size. She stripped the clip and checked it, chambering and safing what looked like about a 9mm like she knew what she was doing.  This dame had her head straight.  I might save her, like I should have saved Angie.

“Hey toots, how about you roll up that sleeping bag in the closet, and put it under your covers like you was still asleep”

The closet was beside the door, anyone sitting in it would see the bed, but the door was out of sight. To get a shot at the bed, you would have to step around the walk in closet, with your back to it.

“Sit yourself here in the closet. I will let you know when somebody comes through the door.  If they start shooting at the bed, don’t blow smoke asking stupid questions, you plug them hard and fast until they drop. If they look like they are turning to face you, plug ’em again”

The kid looked green, like it was sinking in, but she checked the safety, and worked it to make sure it broke clean. Her face went flat, like newbie’s usually did, faking cool until they bought it themselves. I saw that a lot in the trenches, and on the force. Sometimes I saw it in the mirror, or the bottom of a bottle.

It must of been about twenty minutes, but the sweat off the girl showed she felt it like hours. I forget how much the waiting gets to you, when your dead, some things just get easier.

I heard the back door open. I slipped into the hall to see a young guy pull a key from the lock.  Huh.  He had a key. With dames it was usually the things they didn’t want to talk about that got them killed. It was usually the one they would swear could never hurt them, but they were trying real hard to get away from because their brain read things clearer than their heart.

He pulled a gat of his own. Some shiny chrome job bigger than my Colt 1911. Maybe he thought he was hunting bear, because that was a lot of gun for a sleeping broad.  Of course, it wasn’t going to be enough. Not this time. He ghosted back to the closet.

“Show time doll. One guy, one gun. Coming quiet. You don’t make a sound until he makes his play. Then you shoot.  Don’t talk, don’t think, and don’t die!”

I gave her the hard stare, if she was going to freeze, I had to know. You can’t tell sometimes, until the time comes, whose got the steel to finish, and whose going to fold… Her lips went white; her breathing got deep, but slowed down.  Her thumb slowly pushed the gun off safe. Well now.  I’ve seen worse. I winked at her, and faded back by the bed.

Her left hand gripped her necklace, some kind of half cross or upside down hammer. Her right was at shoulder height, ready to bring her piece down on target.

The jackass came through the door screaming. I cleared my piece, even thought I can’t touch the living. Reflex I guess. Any surprise he would have had was gone. He lowered that cannon and started to blast.

Five shots rang like trip hammers. Three sounded like shotgun blasts, the cannon jumping in jackasses hand like a scared rabbit. He put a hole about chest level in the woman shape under the covers, then another in the pillow beside where her head would lay, then at the top of her headboard.  Whatever that cannon was, he couldn’t control it, anymore than he could control his screaming. The last two shots were sharp cracks, as the muzzle flash from the doll’s little gun snapped out a sharp double tap, and jackass hit the floor.

“Nobody leaves me, you bitch!” Joey screamed as he came in the door. Unloading his Desert Eagle and his hate towards the girl who dared to leave him.  He blasted out three times before he felt something hit him, and he fell to the floor.

He struggled to roll over, and saw her. That little bitch!  The one who left him, the one who had the balls to send the Sheriffs to serve him at work with a restraining order, as if it was up to her when it was over.  His chest was cold, and his legs were weak, but he snarled as he raised his Eagle towards his woman, HIS woman, whatever anyone said.

Joey heard a cold voice say “Finish it sister, this kid isn’t stopping”.

Joey looked into those eyes that used to look at him with love, and the ones he taught to look at him with fear, but this time they were flat, cold, and looking back in the moonlight on either side of the glowing sights of her Glock. Two more shots rang out, and he heard his pistol hit the floor.  He couldn’t feel it.  He couldn’t feel anything.

“Joey” the dame said, and then started to cry.  Let the kid cry. She had earned it.  He felt the end coming, they were coming again.  They always did.

Joey came out of his body, and reached for his gun. You could do that if you hated enough. I did.

“This isn’t over” Joey sobbed as he picked up his gun, and raised it towards his loved/hated ex.  “This will never be over!”  he screamed.

“Hey bub” rang a cold voice, edged with cruelty
“You want to bet on that”

Noir gun

He spun to face the trench coated figure shining moonlight silver in the darkness, but thunder spoke, and a hammer took him in the knee.

“My gun can’t touch the living any more, but you should see what it does to the dead”

“You could have let it go buddy, you could have let her go and lived”

The gun spoke again, and Joey screamed.

“Both legs-you will never rise, never walk”

Twice more the gun spoke, and Joeys shoulders were slammed to the floor.

“Both arms-you will not raise them to another woman”

Joey started to beg now; he was almost out of time.  They both were.

The grim ghost looked down, his eyes shaded by his fedora. The muzzle of the .45 looked like a train tunnel, as the smoke from the first four rounds puffed like a dragon’s breath around its muzzle.

“And your head, because I’m tired of listening to you”

Joey faded into silence.  A roughly man shaped pool of silver in the darkness, without form, without movement, without hope.

“Your choice to be stupid, my choice who lives”

He looked at the locked slide on his pistol, and released it. Slapping its empty form back into its holster, he turned to face what was coming.  He lit a cigarette and sucked deep on it.  He knew what was coming, If he could have run, he would.  It hurt too much to remember, except at the end.

From the moonlight came her. Shining the blonde came. Angie’s mother. I wished I died this time first. Sometimes when I failed, I ate my gun before they came, and missed this part. Sometimes I wished I had failed at this point.  Five rounds, that’s all I had at the end.

Noir blond

She was smiling, the way she was when she fed me the spiked booze, and left me passed out while she handed her kid back over to the monster that paid for her, the one whose guys I took her from in the first place.

The kid’s grandmother paid me to track Angie down, and I did. Two knuckle draggers for hire had grabbed her and were holding her at a hotel.  Neither one was willing to face a drawn pistol for the money they were getting.  Bottom feeders, not the kind that came back from war, or came up through the gangs.

I brought her back to the mother. The blonde.  Her face was hard and cold when I brought her back, and she told Angie to go to her room while she made a phone call. I cooled my heels in the living room while she made the call. When she came back she was all smiles, and brought a drink. Her blouse was unbuttoned enough to really distract me, and I never turned down good booze.

I never had much luck with broads and none with ones as hot as this one.  I tried to play it cool, but my brain shut off as she ran her hands on my chest, and told me to finish my drink.

When I came to, I was passed out in the chair with a headache.  Angie was gone, her mother too.  I staggered to the girl’s room; it looked like a fight happened.  Angie was a fighter, she didn’t go easy.  I saw a button on the ground.  Her mothers.  Her mothers.

Played like a fool.  Her mother sold her, just like the last time.  Two mooks too scared to face me didn’t snatch the kid themselves, they got her drugged unconscious by her mother, only this time she used it on me.

Booze and broads, I never could turn them down, and this time a kid was paying. Angie.

I called the operator, gave them my old badge number, and got the last number called. Lassiter. Old man Lassiter.

Lassiter was old money, bought judges and congressmen out of petty cash, and was untouchable. We all knew about him, and the rumors about his tastes. Nobody ever linked him directly to the bodies; nobody ever looked that hard, or were warned off. Nobody ever went after him.

I rubbed my head and my eyes fell upon the bottle. Well, I guess I just proved I was a nobody, a real chump.

I cleared my pistol and blasted the bottle and glass. Two rounds out of seven spent.  Five left.

“Angie baby, I swear I’m going to get you back, Hell take anybody who gets in the way”

My Ford weaved all over the road as I shook off the Mickey Finn. I clipped a mirror on the gate post on the way in, and went through the shrubs on his pretty lawn.

I came up the stairs at a run, Colt in my fist.

Two guards were at the door and reached for me. Amateurs. I didn’t waste a bullet on either of them. I knocked mustache boy’s coconut off the door post, and pistol whipped the second mook.  I didn’t slow down. You crossed the wire at the run, and didn’t stop until you hit the opposite trench. Slow was dead. Dead was OK, but only after I finished. Only I after I saved Angie.

I hit the stairs at the run; there was a butler in a stupid costume. He clawed at a piece behind his back. The stupid suit made him slow, my .45 made him stop forever.  Four left.

Another stood at the top of the stairs, and got off two shots of his own. One hit my chest, I felt cold, but it wasn’t enough.  It threw off my aim, and my return splashed his throat into a red mess. Three left.

I came through the door, and there she was. Angie’s mom, her purse was grasped in her hand, and she shot a look at the bedroom door.  I heard a little girl screaming, and the wet slap of a man’s hand stopped it.  I put a bullet just above those sweet red lips. Couldn’t let her speak, they made a fool of me before, and I may already be too late.  Two left.

I hit the door, kicking beside the lock, not with my shoulders because the movies got it wrong.  My vision was starting to grey out, not a good sign. Did I have enough time?  I would have to.

Lassiter was kneeling over Angie. His pants were down, and he had his hands at her throat. I put a bullet in his spine, but the old bastard got up again.

I was on the ground, I didn’t notice falling.  It was cold, and my vision was graying out. Not good. The old bastard raised himself up, and reached for the girl again, I put my last round through is temple, and blew his brains all over the antique bed drapes.

I couldn’t move now.  I heard the screams of the mansion staff, heard soft sobbing from somewhere.

“I didn’t make it Angie, I let you down.  I swear I’ll make it right”

From the shadows of the bed came two figures, one was a horror, half her face bloated and rotten, half cold and beautiful.  Both her eyes were hungry as they looked at me. You see strange things at the end.  I looked away from her, and there she was, the blonde; Angie’s mom, the vision of beauty seemed to have gotten over the slug through the skull, and was smiling at me too.  I shut my eyes.  Some things I just couldn’t face.

“Mine” said the blonde.

“Not yet” said the two faced horror.

Hella

It was a mercy when the dark came. It never lasted, but I welcomed it at the end.

It was the new dame that shattered the memory. She turned to my specters as if she saw them too, and shouted two names

“Hella!”  She said raising her arm in salute to the dark one, her eyes unafraid as she took in the two faces of the cold dark.  The dark one nodded in return.

“Freya” she said saluting the blonde.  That wasn’t Angie’s mother’s name, but the blonde laughed and nodded in return.

This had never happened.  Not even I knew who they were; just that they came for me, at the end.  Nobody saw them but me.

Who was this girl, and how did she know his specters?

*

It was hard to think, standing over the body of her dead ex, but the shock of the killing was nothing compared to the coming of the goddesses. Hel was cold, her presence deep in ways that spoke of the mound, of eternity. Her coming swept away shock and fear, for hers was a presence that anchored deep in the roots of the earth, and beyond.

At her glance, the silver pool that was the sundered essence of her attempted killer sunk into the floor, and the slight smile on her face was like moonlight on a bared blade. The look she turned upon her defender, the trench-coat clad ghost was softer; if not kind, then at least understanding. When she looked at how her specter faced the keeper of the dead, she was shocked to see him flinch, not from the half-corpse grave-queen, but from the Goddess of Love.

Freya was hard to look upon, her light was bright, not as sunlight, but as fire; amber and gold. Her beauty was vibrant, wild and fierce; even still she had the quality of dance, as if she was but a frozen moment between frenzied steps.  Her gaze upon the ghost was warm. In those eyes shone understanding, love, and a fierce possessive desire. Not the desire of a lover, so much as the desire to possess, the need to have something discovered.

Her specter turned on trembling legs of ghost-silver away from the shining light of Freya, and towards the corpse-queen’s dark. At last Freya’s gaze fell upon her, and the goddess spoke.

“Kitten, would you know why he flees me? Would you know what he sees?”

I nodded; I could not speak under that gaze.

“Then see his memories, look at the things he won’t see. He has earned more than he allows himself. He has won more than the task he sets himself. There is a place for him in other halls than the mound”

Freya looked at the specter with sad eyes.

“For him I wear the face of she he first saved, but he sees only the mother. His generation had forgotten us, many won great worth, but even some of those were lost, and need a guide to find their way home”

Those last words fell upon me like a great weight. As her eyes met mine, I saw the visions that haunted, that trapped my specter. As he lay dying upon the ground, I saw a young girl, shining golden with the promise of beauty to come, rush to his side, and weeping, close his eyes. When the police came, she told them weeping, of his heroism. She heard the echo of a name….Angie.

He didn’t know! He had been condemning himself for generations for failing her, but he didn’t fail. He was not running from the woman he killed (she shuddered at the thought of a mother selling her child to that fate), but from the child he saved!

A gift for a gift she thought, looking at the bullet holes in her bed; she had been given the gift of life. She looked at her ghost, the haunted look in her haunts own eyes. She owed a life, and but how was she to pay it back. She looked at Hel, and for the living to meet that dread gaze was harder than looking down the barrel of her pistol at her former lover. Turning from the light, to face the silver shadow in the heart of the dark, Kat turned to face Hella.

As she met the gaze of the two faced queen, Hel turned the corpse face she showed the living. Staring at the corpse bloat, and milky eye of the keeper of the dead, Kat steeled herself and met Hel’s gaze.

“Great Hel, I beg a question”

Hel turned her maiden face to the hard faced ghost, fumbling to light a cigarette for whatever comfort it offered the dead. A soft smile touched the Keeper of Silence, and she asked a question in a voice that was soft as a lullaby.

“For the champion?”

Freed to speak when the Dread Queen turned to look at the smoking specter, Kat mumbled her assent.

“He is not mine to keep. He will not rest.  Those that are mine know rest, an end to strife, He flees to me, and I wrap him in my darkness, but always the call will come, and his guns and wrath, not my arms, will hold him.”

The Keeper of the Dead turned her corpse face to the living once more and spoke her last.

“He is not mine to keep.”

It was times like this the sagas had great words from inspired poets. Too bad she was standing in her closet in her pajamas, standing over a body, looking at two goddesses, and trying to save a ghost. Sadly, this did not make for poetry.

“Shit” said Kat.  She stripped the mag from her pistol, clearing and safing it. Checking the chamber was clear; she worked the slide lock and put down the empty gun.  It was time to finish things; she thought she heard sirens already.

Quick and dirty heathen 101 or ghost intervention.  It was now or never.

“A gift for a gift” she said. “I don’t have a lot of time, the police are coming, but there is something you need to know.”

*

The darkness was lapping around me now, the cold black promise of oblivion, the chance to forget. I could feel the blonde behind me, feel her calling to me. One day I might be weak enough to give in, I gave in once, and Angie died. I died too; but I couldn’t even get that right. I turned to the dark lady again, her smile was cold and hard as a drawn knife, she knew me, and she knew what came next. The cold, the silence………the call again.

“Shit”, the dame I saved had a mouth on her like a platoon sergeant, but she shot straight, and didn’t flinch, so I guess she was alright. She said she had something I needed to know, but she was wrong. Stuff only mattered to the living; it only mattered until you got the big one wrong, then you were screwed for life. Or death in my case. You screwed up the big one, you paid and paid, and even a bullet couldn’t get you out.

I smiled, the darkness was drawing back. The dark lady wanted me to listen, and I guess the kid earned a minute. Being dead, my time got cheaper than a plug nickel.

“You never remember the end” she said.

No kidding. I got played for a sucker, and Angie died. I got the broad that sold her and the fat cat who bought her. The torpedoes didn’t count; they were nothing, so was I.  I didn’t save Angie, and even if I got it right a few times, I failed when it counted, I failed when I died, because so did she.

The sirens were getting closer, the kid seemed desperate. She stepped away from her gun, and looked like she wanted to slap me. I get that a lot, or did when I had a body to slap.

“No, you idiot!”  Kid had a silver tongue alright. He chuckled, but the kid had her motor running and shifted gears like she had places to go.

“You died, but she didn’t.  The crying you heard was Angie, she lived. She was crying and closing your eyes when the police got there. That’s not her mother’s face you see behind you, that’s Angie when she grew up.”

The dark lady looked sad; her eyes were almost soft as she nodded. Eyes like that couldn’t lie; they never tried.  Death didn’t cheat; she was the one unbroken promise. He didn’t know much, but he knew that.

The sirens grew loud, as they did that night when he was fading out. He heard then from a child, what he heard now from the blonde, so beautiful it hurt, so bright she burned.

“You came back for me. I knew you would. You are a hero. There is a place for heroes.  My lady keeps it. You don’t have to go into the dark. You can come  again when you are called”

The kid seemed to understand.  I didn’t. I turned to her, because she played it straight so far, and I wasn’t trusting myself to think, not with her in front of me.

“Go with her.”  The dame was smiling and crying the way only dames could.
“Freya’s hall is for heroes and lovers”

I looked at the empty clip in my 45 and the spot the ghost died again and laughed.

“I ain’t a hero, doll face.  And if there is a bigger fool at love than me, I never met him”

My voice turned hard and cold, I knew how it played out. How it always played out.

“Out of bullets, out of time. Now the dark comes”

A golden laugh lit the darkness, and I felt the shiver run up my spine like the caresses you dream about, but never know. My gun grew heavy in my hand; I stripped the clip and counted. One, two, three…….seven? NO!  I wasted two, and since I died, I only had five left, like when I tried to save her. Seven slugs looked back at me, and I looked up to three smiles.

The kid was crying, the dark one nodded and turned away, and ……Angie took my arm. I felt a rush, like blood and fire pour through me, like a living man, like whiskey and a first kiss, and dawn after a night of war. I looked down at the ghost of my arm, and saw it fade.

***

Kat watched Hel turn away, and the amber tones of life fill the bone white hollows of the dead man’s face with life. Love hid behind walls of fear in his eyes, but wonder made him look at Angie, and see love shining back in return.

A gift for a gift, a life for a life.

Standing alone in a room with no ghosts and a single dead body, she heard the police come in and she began to laugh. This was actually going to be the easy part of her evening. Tears streaking her face, she sat back in the closet to wait. There had been enough truth for the evening. Her ghost prepped her for the coppers, and a little damsel in distress beat the hell out of telling the local flat-feet about goddesses and ghosts. Gods, now he had her talking like that. Next thing you knew, she would be smoking……

 

By Kat Kerns and John T Mainer

Previously published in

They Walk With Us

All proceeds donated to The Troth.

 

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Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

On women, gays, immigrants and others who dared to succeed; calling out the cowards.

Calling out the Cowards

 

You know, the inside of my head is a strange place sometimes, I do understand that.  I am a thoroughly modern man who is deeply and passionately committed to the progress both of our science, and our society.  There is no arguing the fact that the bedrock of my essence would be as home in a water filled slit trench with only my FN at hand and firing arc before me, or telling tales around the fire in a tenth century hall, sword draped on the bench beside me.  Odin forces us to look at ourselves often, and be honest about what we find.  Its a hard habit to break, and causes you to apply the same standards to others.  It makes me look at what people are saying from two distinct points of view.  The modern one hears the words, knows the context and what part of societies dialog each side is spouting.  The ancient one strips away the pretty words, and lays bare the arguments.  Some arguments stand strong, others become farcical, or worse clear lies, when the pretty wrapping and glamour is stripped away, and only the core truths remain.

I look at rhetoric from the left, from the right, from the religious conservatives, from the social activists of so many different stripes and when the glit and glamour is parsed away, there is one common thing left lying on the table, the heart of the majority of all sides arguments.  It lays before me like a turd, and the truth from it rises like a stench.  Fear.

 

Never had I thought there was so much cowardice driving our society.  Cowardice, behind the shouting, behind the screaming, behind the threats.  Not righteous indignation, not a passion for justice, not religious zeal, but pathetic pant-wetting fear.

 

Why?

Freehold Oath Ring

I look at my dog tags, they mark my service, the honours I have won, the duties I have completed, the traditions I shared with all those generations who served in their time before me.  I try to understand how my dog tags could be changed if another person in uniform was a woman, or gay, transgendered.  I hold the stamped aluminum and stainless chain and note no magical changes.  Just to be sure I check my fathers dog tags, and my grandfathers identity disk, and note they are likewise unchanged.  It seems what others are called to serve has no effect on my service at all.    The tags of the women I served with weighed the same, I imagine a number of those I served with were gay, I don’t really know, or care honestly, we were there to do a hard job well, and could give a rats ass who you relaxed with in your down time.  The tags of the gay’s would, I suspect weigh the same as mine almost as if it made no difference at all, these gender and sexuality issues that are supposed to be such a dire threat.  I know for a fact that we had atheists, heathens, pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikh, and Hindu, as well as Innu and Aboriginal members.  Oddly enough, that didn’t make a difference either.  It is almost like you have nothing to fear from someone being different from you, it will not lessen your honours, your accomplishments, or your duties if those who won the same through the same efforts were in some particulars different than you.  At the end of the day, we got the same terrible coffee, which we sipped in the same Melmac cups, shivering in the same cold and damp, sharing the same stupid grin because somehow we all chose to be here, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

 

I look at my arm, still strong, my bank account…….well a lot less so, but the pay going into it is stronger than ever.  I look at women, immigrants, open homosexuals, people of different races and religions than my own succeeding, and I look again.  Oddly enough, my arm is still as strong, my pay still as healthy, it is almost like no amount of success by another person takes anything away from me at all.

Why then the fear?  Why the howling hatred?

 

A woman attains a position that none of the speakers had sought, or were qualified to hold, and whose previous holder not half of them could name, and now suddenly the manhood of every person in the room is threatened by some woman thinking she can serve in a position of power.
Just to be sure, I took a ruler in to the bathroom for my next leak and assured myself that my penis was not actually diminished in any dimension by a woman achieving a high social, political, or economic position. I checked again later when it was in full deployment, and yes indeed the success or failure of women had zero effect on the might, majesty or general sense of fun of my penis.  What then is the fear that seems to grip so many men that a woman succeeds at something other than looking decorative and raising kids?

 

I took a look at those homosexuals we are supposed to be scandalized about.  Not hard, I have lesbian friends, gay friends, and they fall in the married, unmarried categories about as evenly as the straight friends, with a smaller amount being divorced; most likely due to the lower length of time you could be legally married, so I expect the divorce stats will catch up within a generation.

 

I have carried out exhaustive research, and I can only conclude that two lesbians, or gay men having sex in their own bedroom with their own spouses in no way affects my sex life with my wife.  Not for better or for worse, its almost like its none of anyone’s bloody business, any more than what is going on in the bedrooms of my heterosexual neighbors.

 

Why the fear?  Why the terror that “gays are getting married”.  Unless you are a member of that community and your fear is that you lack formal wear, or dislike having to thumb through the bridal registry to find an appropriate gift, I really can’t see it affecting you at all.

 

I hear the same bile being spewed by the left, quick to attack any person who can’t tick at least six different boxes in the ethnic/linguistic/gender/orientation/raised by bonobo monkey in vegan commune forms.  Again, so terribly threatened that someone who does not self identify as a transgendered Martian wombat with a gluten allergy might succeed and somehow magically take away……honestly nothing from anyone else.

 

Enough with the cowardice.  Be honest.
Those who are screaming “whore” at a woman for the crime of succeeding in a man’s world do not really think she took their job away.  She took away their excuse.  Her success does not take away a single accomplishment of theirs, she simply makes them afraid to look in the mirror and admit that they are not proud of their own accomplishments at all.

 
The bitching about women in the military, gays in the military blah de blah de freaking civilian COWARD bullshit blah.  Here is the thing, we are an ALL VOLUNTEER force, and we go to war.  People who serve for any length of time lose cartilage, gain arthritis, a series of disorders relating to pushing your body beyond its limits for long periods of time exposed to conditions which are unsafe, and materials that are flat out dangerous.  We get people who come back less than whole, and people that come back draped respectfully in flag draped coffins.

MAIN-MAIN-Nomi-Golan

One female IDF soldier, one crowd of religious fanatics.  One soldier, and the only possessor of functional gonads in the whole crowd.  Literally, there is NO man there her equal.

What we don’t get?  Volunteers.  No seriously.  Recruitment is never keeping up with demand.  Why are you bitching about should women be serving in the combat arms from your sports/titty bar seat.  Did you get your candy ass down to enlist?  No, then shut up.  That woman/gay/trangendered whatever the adjective SOLDIER chose to serve, made of their body, skills, and time, an offering to the nation of their birth, and you didn’t.  You find that when you look in the mirror you feel that seeing a woman, a homosexual, bisexual, transgendered person to whom you would like to feel superior is actually performing to a level higher than you hold yourself to, now makes you look in the mirror and be less impressed with what you see.
Not their problem.  Your problem.  Deal with it, and leave everyone else out of it.

 

You see a woman rising to levels of career success that you didn’t have the skills, the education, the drive, the follow-through to achieve and you look in the mirror and choose not to ask why you didn’t, because it takes courage to face the fact that you just didn’t want it as badly, or didn’t prepare as well, or honestly never thought about stepping outside your comfort zone long enough to risk everything to try.

 

You see women daring to have the same sexual freedom as men, and expecting to be able to share the same level of consequence as those men (who have a 0% accidental pregnancy rate from casual sex), and what?  Do you think them having birth control pills will raise your chance of getting pregnant?  I was raised in the Bible Thumping capital of farm land but frike nowhere, and we did not hold with sexual education classes, or birth control.  No sir, we lead the country in teen pregnancy and had STD rates that made New York’s club districts look safe.   Sex is a constant, consequences are variable.  Disease is unnecessary, generations of teenage mothers dropping out of school to raise the next generation of teenage mothers who will drop out of school is unnecessary.  Poverty, shame, and the horrible treatment of the resulting children are unnecessary.

 

Having a woman choose to make sexual or reproductive choices other than those you would make does not take anything away from the choices you made, except perhaps in your own eyes.   Children make mistakes, adults should be doing their best to make sure they don’t ruin or lose their lives over it.  Teenagers have adult drives, child level experience in making choices, and no the results should not kill them, nor leave them caring for children before they ever had the chance to find out what kind of life they could have made for themselves.

 

Final note on the whole “sacred motherhood” bullshit; I actually do think motherhood is sacred, and yet I have significant experience with how the good “God Fearing” people react to a breast feeding mother, or someone who has to (god forbid) change a diaper.  The pro life crowd only seem to care about embryo’s; they sneer/jeer and even spit on unwed mothers, and are not exactly supportive of mothers or fathers who actually are caring for their babies on either incoming or outgoing ends.

 

One again, it seems that the reality of the birth control question, abortion question, and indeed sexuality questions (LBGT or even just hetero non-monogomous) all boil down to how threatened people feel that someone can dare to chose other than they did.

Fear.  Outright cowardice.

Someone else’s career success, relationship success, family planning choices, spiritual path, and dietary choices have NO AFFECT on me.  They do not take anything away from me.  I don’t lose my ability to enjoy a steak if my boss down the hall is a vegan.  I do not make any less money if the black guy who was born in Trinadad before coming here makes more than me.  I am just as safe when the hands holding the light machinegun are male, female, gay or straight.  All I care about is that they are trained and motivated.

 

Stop giving in to the fear.  Its time to grow up, nut up, and shut up.  Your life is your own, your choices and consequences are your own.  Some people lucked out into better opportunities, and I wish them the best of luck with them, I will play the card’s I am dealt, and play to win.  Some people got a hell of a lot worse starting hand than I did; I didn’t deal it to them, and wish them the best of luck with it.

 

If you are threatened by the happiness of someone else, I don’t care whether it is personal, professional, spiritual, or whatever, you aren’t actually angry at them, you are angry at how their happiness makes you feel about yourself.  A coward will lash out at the person reminding them that they don’t love themselves.  A brave person will look in the mirror, find out what it is about themselves they can’t love or can’t face, and deal with it.

Stop making your fear of your own failures everyone else’s problem.  You aren’t even being honest about who you hate.  Its not that immigrants succeed that scares you, its that you failed.  Its not that a woman succeeds that scares you, it is the truths about why you either didn’t or couldn’t do the same that scare you.  Stop making your fears everyone else’s problem.

 

Live your life, love your choices, own your struggle and be proud of your own journey.  When we sit around the fires, listen to the tales of others and take pleasure in their tales, knowing that they do not take away anything from your own.  Be ready to tell your own in turn, because you chose to make of your life a story you won’t have to be ashamed to tell to anyone.  Be worthy of pride, and you will not fear that anyone else can say the same.  I wish all of you success in your life. I really do.  Your success costs me nothing, your happiness costs me nothing. I wish you long life, success in love, and no I don’t give a rats ass what you look like, or who you love.  It doesn’t matter.  My beard will be as bushy, my arm as strong, my mead as sweet, and my wife as curvy.  Its all good.

Enough with the cowardice, own your own damned lives and quit whining about other peoples.  They are not your problem, and if you had the balls to admit it, you would be dealing with your own problems not creating unnecessary ones for everyone else.
The world gives us enough real struggle, enough real pain, and few enough chances for anything resembling a good outcome.  Stop screwing up what good we have, just because you are terrified to look in the mirror and find that you might not be proud of what you see.  Fix you, leave everyone else to their own struggle; really, they have enough trouble on their own.

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Uncategorized

Perfected by Strife

Seidrwoman

 

When you bear the oaths I do, you should probably not go to a Halloween party in a pirate costume with an eyepatch.  There is a certain one eyed fellow who has a standing agreement that when I don the patch he is free to look out through the eye that is not.  On the other hand, he sees things I don’t, and probably should, and he saw her.

Ah, such a sight.  The her I speak of is a woman of some standing in the local Pagan community, a witch whom the term wise woman may well have been coined for, and one whom my own gods know well, and indeed her path has carried her deep into my own sphere as her ancestral guide leads her back to the practice that my own teacher and fellow students (aka “the Odin kids”) would find familiar.  Her hair was the iron of raven black and ash grey normally, although as the mood or trickster would inspire her it was as likely to be coloured in the bright anime greens or blues of her whim.

Life has been uncommonly hard to many in my circle of friends.  Struggles with health, wealth, and loss are all too commonly heard, and indeed my friend was far from an exception.  Her personal struggles are ones that are not of her making, but they are hers to face; and face them she is.

 

Real nakedness has nothing to do with nudity.  I did not seek to see her as I did, I would not have intruded without invitation past the social seemings we all use to mask ourselves, but the gods work in their own ways, and when I make a mistake that Him to see something as powerful and profound as seeing my friend stripped of masks and shadows, I do wonder if the Wise Counsellor is cheating and showing me something I should have seen on my own and was being too slow to pick up on my own.  The Hanged one has many virtues, but his patience is servant to his strategy, and seldom awaits mortal dimness when there is work to do.

 

How to describe what I saw?  She was drawn tight like a bow about to release, a hair’s breadth from breaking, yet potent with power that promised swift end to whatever she released that power at.  There were shadows clinging to her, exhaustion, pain, fear, despair.  There was much less of her than before, much of the peace had been stripped from her, much of the comfort, much of the gentleness.

 

What was left?  What was revealed when the storm had stripped so much away?  Joy.  The thing I thought to see stripped from her by pain, fear, and despair was not gone, but defiant as a candle flame guttering in the wind, whipped and dancing, but undaunted, undimmed, and defiant against both storm and darkness.  Strength of a quiet and supple nature, like the roots of a tree, or the iron heart of a sword that will bend under blows but not break, and always stand unbent when the blow of storm or blade abates.  Care, and even love flowed from her.  In the heart of a struggle where her own survival is far from assured, her care was still for others, and the carefully husbanded strength from her struggle is spent like a miser to care for those she deems require it, not those who ask or even know they could.

 

I am sworn to the Battle-Glad, the Hanged One, the High One; him called Victory Father, yet also the Feeder of Ravens, and peace I seek for others, not a thing I will ever rest comfortably in.  I would not wish strife or suffering on anyone that I cared about, yet like any of His I am drawn to the struggle and the storm, drawn to witness those who face the harshest tests; for only when you stand upon the brink will you know what you are capable of, only under the harshest blow can you know the strength of your steel.  I see her standing upon the brink, soft sad smile upon her face, half in shadow, half lit by the fires of a hearth made bright by a hospitality she will not stint even on the edge of losing all.

Oh how I understand.  Wassail hard in the heart of the dark, when you have almost nothing you open your home and share what you have with those who you care for, as what is yours in life will either be given to friends whom you would brighten and strengthen, or picked over by enemies who loot your corpse.  When you stand upon the brink, you do your dishes, and pay your bills because the fear that you could lose it all tonight cowers before the will to plan for tomorrow and next week.

 

When you stand cold and bare before the harsh lash of the storm, you dance.  When you cannot stand against the fury, spread your arms and dance.  Whirl in the storm winds, let laughter answer their howl, let your joy feed of its rage, let it tear at you until nothing is left but the steel of your soul, the fire of your love, and the ice of your will.

Saturn

She was dancing.  She gave herself to the storm, gave herself to the struggle and stood naked in her perfection.  I would not have chosen to strip away her masks, but could not look away as He looked at her through they eye I covered.  The gods do not love us for winning or losing, for our goals are not theirs, they love us for how we face our struggles, for how we stand against the storm

She does not stand against it, she dances it.  She does not let her blood fall upon the stones but paints it upon them, binding them to her will and work.  I cannot see if she will succeed or fail for while He looks out through my eyes I cannot look out through his.  I can see her as He does though, crowned in glory, naked in the storm, dancing on the edge of the abyss, moonlight and shadow more beautiful than any flower.

 

We, each of us, have our struggles in life; our challenges, our duties.  We judge ourselves by how and if we meet these challenges, by our victories or our defeats.  We do not measure ourselves by how we face the storm, nor by who choses to face it at our side, or who we have protected from its lash.  It is odd that we judge ourselves mostly by those things we have no control over, and frequently little influence over, and not by those things that represent our choices.

 

If you could see, as I was gifted a glimpse, of how He sees us, you might not be so quick to despair when you fail, might carry more strength to your next challenge if you let go your guilt from enjoying the battle, even when you hate its necessity.  You shine in the eyes of your gods and ancestors when you face your challenges with courage, wit, will, and passion.  Rage, joy, defiance, or simple determination; the passion you give to your challenge shines in the eyes of those who watch.  Give yourself fully to your struggle, and worry less about the results.  You may be the only one who judges yourself by them.Odin Face

 

 

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Wolf Age: Dangers of Memes

I saw this come across my feed and it bugged me for reasons that will require some explaining.

Wolf Bullshit

This is a typical “bullshit wolf meme”.  Common among Heathens, or among men who identify with the popular culture wolf mythology, which is to the reality of wolves what your average online dating profile is to your actual physical description.

Wolves are important in a spiritual sense to a large number of peoples.  They are as important to me as a Heathen as they were to the natives of the Spallumcheen native band whose women ran the daycare I went to as a child.  Across cultures sharing no common root, the shared experience of humanity growing up sharing the forest, the plains, and the night with the wolves left its mark written in our psyche.

The problem with this meme is it divides the world not into two, but more akin to taking a single percent out of a pie chart, naming it “friend” and labeling everyone else as “foe”.  For those not paying attention, that means that everyone and everything that does not agree with you is an enemy.  That would be “internet wolf logic”.  See the chart below, if wolves acted like this, they would literally spend their days and nights doing nothing but randomly attacking anything that was not pack, until the species was wiped out by everyone else just tired of dealing with their little furry bullshit.

Internet Wolf Logic

I had the chance to encounter wolves while on a late night patrol in Ops C area CFB Chilliwack back in the early 1990’s.  I was on point for my infantry section, it was about 0200, sub tropical rain forest, blacker than half a yard up a bishops ass, cold as a witches tit, and silent as a grave.  We didn’t have night vision gear at the time, Infantry were expected to ghost through the forest because we learned how to see, how to train ourselves to look away from the light, into the darkest shadows, and force our eyes to maximize the light there was.  No depth perception to speak of, but you learned to see, learned to move, and you relied so much on your hearing that you even learned to breathe more quietly.  We were ghosts in the woods, and we were not alone.

We hit a clearing, a place in the heart of the forest where fire had long ago made a wound that now boasted some low shrubs, but otherwise clear.  Moonlight shone cold and white as bone on the open ground, and as we hit one edge of the clearing, a wolf pack hit the opposite.

I froze, FNC1A1 snapping to just offline of target as I evaluated the motion to my front.  My eyes locked with the point wolf’s.  He froze.  We held position for less than a second, but it seemed longer.  I took my hand off the fore-stock and gave the hand signal to direct the squad around the clearing clockwise to the left, while I maintained my position against their point.  The wolves without any signal I could see swept along the edge of the clearing clockwise to the right, mirroring us.

As the last wolf past their point, he dropped back out of the moonlight to fall in at the rear of his formation.  I did the same, falling in at the back of my troop.  As we reached the point the other had entered the clearing, I did my job as the drag walker, and looked back.  I saw the wolf who had been their point doing the same.  We exchanged one more look before disappearing into the shadows under the great trees, going about our own business in peace.

They were neither friend nor foe, they were just another set of troops patrolling in the night, other hunters sharing a forest that was ancient long before our grandfathers were born, and which our grandchildren may one day both hunt in as well.

The world is not us and them.  A more realistic wolf view would beReal World Wolf Logic

Note how the bulk of the life on this planet moved from “Foe” to “Just other critters minding own business”.  There are actual threats to watch, actual prey to hunt, but by in large the bulk of the forest life is sharing along side the wolf, and as long as everyone’s territory is respected, they can all get along fine.

The Internet wolf memes take a world where the bulk of humanity is not aware of your existence, has no real stake or opinion on your life or decisions, and reduce it to a state where if you are not my friend (to be generous, perhaps a hundred), then you are my enemy ( seven point six BILLION ).  I can’t make a pie chart to illustrate that, it would literally be all foe, as the amount you had allowed as your friends would be statistically insignificant.

Sword age, axe age, wolf age.  Shields are riven, families shattered, oaths broken, and the world burns as Ragnarok comes.  The Voluspa tells us

Hard is it on earth, | with mighty whoredom;
Axe-time, sword-time, | shields are sundered,
Wind-time, wolf-time, | ere the world falls;
Nor ever shall men | each other spare.

This is a future in which all we care for is lost, a future the gods themselves work tireless to stave off, and in which the best and brightest of them will fall in our defense.

Stop trying to bring it about.

I am serious, I could join the party of the false dichotomy and say if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem; but that is yet another false dichotomy, sloppy thinking, and total bullshit.

The cold facts of the matter are the bulk of humanity is not your friend, or your enemy.  They don’t wish you well or ill, they have their own lives, their own problems, their own hopes, dreams, fears and struggles.

Stop trying to divide the world into friend and foe, because you can’t force people to be your friends, but you can make enemies a lot easier, and a whole lot of people seem to be putting in the effort.

Wolves are amazing creatures, social animals who kill with precision, fight with grace, and are masters of not starting shit without reason.  I am serious.  Wolves treat violence with a great deal more respect than we do, and treat every single creature they encounter with a great deal more respect than we humans seem to.  If it is necessary to fight, they fight intelligently and fiercely.  If it is time to walk away, they walk away without hesitation or regret. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, an encounter between a wolf and something else ends in a respectful acknowledgement of each others space and that is all. Only in our pop culture mythology does the wolf run around starting fights because “I’m a wolf, fear me!!”

Meme’s are cute, catchy, and dangerous.  Meme’s shape the way we think, as we accept the proposed image and single catch phrases that appeal to us and incorporate them into our self image, which in turn affects our decision making processes.

Share memes that reduce the world into friend and foe, and soon you will start to accept that anyone you don’t understand, or agree with is an enemy.  These meme’s are not cute, they are dangerous.

This had more letters than twitter allows, required actual thought to process, and will thus be read to the end by less than a percent that were attracted by the pretty picture.  Those few of you who read to the end, understand that the memes that you chose to share are affecting how others will unconsciously view and interact with the world.  Chose the effect you would like to have, and the world you would like to see.  Ragnarok will come, I do not want to see its coming hastened by teaching ourselves to stop seeing any possibility of peaceful interaction with those that are not “with us”.

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Raven’s and Swords

 

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

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

Memory

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

Ravens

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Swords and Ravens

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Disaster Relief: The Red Hammer Project

Red Hammer

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

https://thetroth.org/donate.html

 

You will be offered the choice between

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Thor defender

 

 

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