Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

A touch of Coffee

Dana looked at her pictures taped to the mirror.  Her promises of what she was, and what she swore she would be again.  It sometimes seemed like a brighter idea than others.

 

Two years ago, her hair had been long golden waves that Sif would have been proud to claim as her own, a face darkened by sun, eyes marked by laugh lines and bright with the promise of tomorrow. The picture a year ago before going for chemo showed the glory of her hair crowning a face haunted by the fear that she might not see another spring, fixed smile painted over screams she dared not start lest she could not stop.  There was the strength that she held hard against the fear, but then, and even now, she had no idea how it could be enough.

Looking back at the face in the mirror, she took in the bald skull, the perfection of her bones had not changed, but the skin over them was drawn tight over the cheek bones, hollow in the cheeks, yet puffy around the dark hollows of eyes whose blue no longer shone like a spring sky, but the deep blue of the tidal surge that shattered ships and shore alike.

 

It took the better part of an hour to put on her makeup, her wig, and restore her face to the woman she used to be.  Her husband, her children, her friends were happiest with it.  She was happiest with it.  She looked in the mirror and did not know who it was who looked back at her.

 

Yule had passed, and with it the lives of some friends.  It was the dying time, the veil between the living and the dead was thinnest, and she would be lying if she didn’t feel the fingers of the cold deep in her bones, didn’t hear the whimpers in the quiet of the night, the memories of those times it was too much and she just prayed for it to end, for this to be the last night.  You can’t shake the memories of those nights as easily as stepping into the sunlight, for some chills are written in your bones, some screams written into your silences, and can never be forgotten.
Today she didn’t have it in her.  Today she didn’t care.  Let others shy away, let others shudder at the spectre of the fate her face whispered of.  Today she would not pretend she didn’t see, pretend she didn’t care.  Today she just didn’t have enough left to carry anyone else’s fear, or anyone else’s shame.

Coffee.  She needed coffee, and humanity could just frigging deal with it.

She scraped the windshield as the car heated up.  Her kids were already at school, and this was her time.  The coat was heavy and caught the wind when it gusted, she had not the weight she once had, and sometimes the wind sported with her more than she liked.  Her toque and scarf kept her warm, the cold Atlantic winds could bring colour to her pale cheeks, and make her fingers clumsy, but her strength was coming back and it could no longer make her tremble.  Caffeine, she needed caffeine.  She had an article in her laptop she wanted to read, but it was not something to read un-caffeinated.  One coffee there, and a second to take home should do her.  Her reward for a week survived.

She spotted the new coffee shop that had looked so interesting.  A pair of amber cats framed the sign Golden House.  Sure enough, two regal looking cats, about the size of lynx, observed the customers from a cat tree that dominated the wall opposite the counter.  The place was a happy untidy babble of conversations from a dozen dark hardwood tables that looked a lot like the benches of a mead-hall, heavy dark chairs, high backed and post carved offered hanging for coats and hats, as everyone had clearly done.  A roaring fireplace filled the wall opposite the window, and the firelight gave the place a warmth that made the outside winter hard to remember.  The smell of fresh coffee and mouth-watering baked goods made her stomach remind her she had not felt up to breakfast this morning, but perhaps now she might?

 

The owner of the coffee shop was dancing between the tables, there was no other word for it.  She had long golden hair and a figure that was as opulent as Dana’s had been before the choice had been to offer her breasts to the knife or her life to the cancer, and leave a battle long fought half won.

Goddess Freya true

Where you would swear there was not room between the tables to pass a ruler she spun and twisted with a heavy tray in one hand and a second that seemed to alternate between waving to those far away, and patting those she passed between, somehow letting each know they had her complete and joyous attention for one glorious moment.  It was easy to see why the place was packed.

 

“Take off your coat, stay a while.  I hardly ever bite unless asked nicely”  The woman’s voice rolled over Dana like the finest mead over the tongue, sweet and smooth, unleashing a warmth at its passing that bypassed thought altogether and undid the knots of tension, pain and fear that held her wound tight as a sewing bobbin.

Without thinking she shrugged off her coat hung it and her toque upon the chair before she remembered that she didn’t wear her wig today.  Freezing in fear, she tried to turn and snatch it back up again, but before she could, impossibly strong hands gently pushed the throne like chair under the bench, seating her at the table as smoothly as if it and she weighed nothing.

Turning to look at the figure who had pushed in the chair, her breath caught.  He was dark haired, wild maned with long and bushy hair and beard, a body long and rangy under a loose fisherman’s sweater with a woven pattern of giant wolves alternately devouring men and being torn asunder at the jaw.  He wore heavy boots, not quite work boots, nor yet biker boots, they were somehow brutally and uncompromisingly functional in the way a thing put together without any care for appearances can somehow acquire a stark majesty almost despite itself.  Nodding respectfully to her, he walked around the bench and gestured at the cinnamon buns fresh from glazing, still warm from the oven, and made a vague motion similar to a seated bow towards Dana that seemed to suffice to the owner as an order, causing her to laugh.

“My silent friend her is quite taken with you, and asks if you would care to have a fresh baked cinnamon roll with your coffee, I recommend the Egg Nogg latte, it’s a little on the rich side, but if you don’t allow yourself any guilty pleasures you will just die innocent, and we can’t have that now!”

 

Dana blushed and stammered something incoherent in acceptance.  Once she would have accepted such attention as her due, but since the cancer had robbed her of her colour, her grace, her muscle tone, her hair and breasts were only the most obvious of the blows she had taken, she had gotten used to fearing the look of her body, rather than loving it.  Granted her strength was coming back, and with it the grace she was winning day by day, step by step, thrice as hard to rebuild as to first win, but she was now not the woman she remembered drawing attention.

 

The owner glided back sliding two cinnamon rolls the size of dinner plates in front of them, the rich smell of cinnamon, the sight of tiny nuts and little candied fruit promising a heartier fare than the norm, made Dana’s mouth begin to water.

Tall Eggnog latte in large ceramic mugs joined the cinnamon buns in front of the silent man and Dana, and before Dana could muster her social defenses against men getting the wrong idea about approaching her as a married woman, the owner ran her hands with casual familiarity down the long shoulders and chest of the man, and pulled his rangy hair back to kiss him impishly upon the nose.

“Oh he does have an eye for the beauties.  He will never be any sort of a conversationalist, but the Silent One pays attention, and looks more deeply than his father ever did.  That is his second-best quality, right after knowing what a tongue is really for!”

 

Dana almost choked on her latte at the uncomplicated joy the woman took in casually discussing such things in a restaurant full of locals who roared with approval and pounded the table to her clear delight.  Dana knew there was no mockery here, but she was not willing to accept praise for what was long taken from her, the beauty she never knew she treasured until it was stolen by the thief that sought her life.

 

“I am hardly a beauty any more.  I mean…”  Dana made a hand wave that took in her bald skull, pain haunted eyes, and the flat hanging sweater that was stretched out for the generous curves she would never have again.

 

Sliding sensuously over to her side, the woman ran her hand across Dana’s bald scalp and Dana felt her entire body catch fire, back arching in helpless pleasure towards the fire of her simple touch, she felt her hands continue down the back of Dana’s skull and catch the necklace she wore under her sweater.

 

Tsking softly, the woman slowly drew the necklace from under Dana’s sweater and laid the simple Thor’s hammer below the hollow of her throat upon the soft sweater.

Murmuring softly, amber eyes burning into Dana’s blue ones like dancing fire, the woman spoke

“Such a kissable neck should be highlighted,  the hammer is a nice start, a statement of strength, but it needs a touch of fire to bring out your colour”

Taking one of the strands of amber that hung around her own neck, she softly ran the back of her knuckles over Dana’s collar bones and neck to fasten the strand of amber at the back of her neck, to lie half way between Thor’s hammer and her throat, drawing every eye to the regal curves of her shoulders and neck, the proud lines of her cheekbones and richness of her eyes and lips, the stark strength she alone could not see shining there.
Dana had not been with a woman since long before she was married, but her body trembled from this woman’s touch like it had not since those teenage days of experimentation.  Before her touch could arouse the defenses of a woman who had no intention of straying, the owner swayed away, to be replaced by the two large and graceful cats that now butted at her hands for attention from either side of the table.

Dana muttered a protest.  Voicing at last the fear that howled at her each time she faced the mirror in the morning.

“How can you say that?  I am not that pretty girl any more, I won’t ever be again!”

There was half a mile of pain and two full fathoms of fear in that cry, and it hung upon the air like a challenge.

It was the Silent One that spoke at last, his words ground like a blade on a stone, tearing away dross and damage to leave naught but the brutal purity of the naked edge behind.

“You are not the girl that didn’t know, nor the woman whom the foe found, you are she who won.  You are the face of victory”

Both their eyes were upon her now, the shining golden one who danced like flame, and the dark silent one whose eyes held the shadows of prices paid, and in them both she saw herself not as what she lost, but at last as they did, as she who won.

 

——-I have lost dear friends to cancer this year.  I have had had other dear friends who have won their fight at terrible cost.  I remember my father on his third bought with cancer, it was the fifth a decade later that would kill him.  He rewarded himself by getting his tattoo touched up.  He had got an eagle tattoo on his arm when he finished jump training in the Canadian Airborne, but cancer had carved long ropes of white like lightning all up and down his arms, through his tattoo, taking most of the colour.

When he got it touched up, he had the colour of the tattoo restored to full glory, but had the cancer scars outlines like living lighting where they defaced it, rather than having them coloured in to undo the damage done to the original tattoo.  I asked him why he didn’t hide that damage, and he looked at me honestly confused.  “Why should I hide, I won.”

 

Odin does hide his missing eye, nor Tyr his missing hand.  Our gods bear their scars openly, proudly, for they are the boasts of victors, the proof of prices paid, and victories won.  Our gods do not turn their faces from the scars of our life, not the inner ones, nor the outer ones.  The shame we heap upon scars and the prices paid by survivors is cowardice born of fear we might not have the strength to ever face such ourselves.

Freya is goddess of passion, love, and the old and terrible magics.  Hers is the raw, the brutal and primal magic of death and life, hers the first choice of the valiant dead.  Freya is goddess of that fire that screams its joy at life from the brink of death, and howls its ecstasy to stand upon the edge of the abyss and know by its own will, it will stand and not fall.

 

Vidar, the Silent One, Fenris bane is the god of prices paid, the god of leavings, the one who knows the cost of what others boast about.  He is silent, for he boasts not.  He is the god of deeds, not words, of paying the price to do what must be done, and salvaging what seems lost.  His boots are made of the scraps thrown away, yet at Ragnarok they will shatter the jaw of Fenris Wolf, for he understands what it is to grow strong at the broken places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Heathen Music: Review of The Black Hat Society’s album Doom Country

Doom Country

https://blackhatsociety.bandcamp.com/album/doom-country

 

Hauk Heimdallsman is one of those Heathen artists that I have enjoyed the work of for a long time, and I finally got around to buying his second album, Doom Country.  I have listened to his stuff before, usually attached to cool videos or other things that Heathen’s make, and its one of those things that bug me when I have enjoyed the gift of Heathen art and not paid the artist.  A gift for a gift is our way, and when I bought the album, I got the kind of surprise you generally get for doing something the gods approve of, more than I expected.

The first two tracks, West and Doom Country were pure Odin inspired poetry filtered not through the lore of long forgotten and nearly irrelevant European Viking ancestors (yes I revere them, no they do not honestly shape the land I was actually raised in ), but the wild frontiers of the old west.  Anyone who has ever listened to Johnny Cash’s Ghost Riders in the Sky understands how the lore of the Wild Hunt followed our ancestors to the great plains of North America, and how the high and the wild awakened in the poets and story tellers of the wandering tribeless peoples who would one day call themselves Canadian and American something that had slept through the long dark Christian centuries.
Johnny Cash was a great artist, but he was a Christian, and it’s a handicap when understanding what the the storm is singing, what the thunder howls and the lonely prairie and lonely mountain whispers.  To have the lore to capture the spirit purely requires a Heathen, to have the language to communicate it to the folk soul of contemporary North American’s requires not just an understanding but genuine love of our own North American folklore, the explorers, pioneers, cowboys and miners, fur traders and settlers.

 

Black Hat Society and Hauk Heimdallsman have the sound of old style bluesy country, very much a Johnny Cash with a hint of Appalachian Celt and the kind of epic narrative that made the best country ballads last across the generations.  There is a poetry to it that owes a bit to Hank Snow and Louis Lamour in the sense that you can no more separate the music from the land that spawned it than you can the people whose heart it captured.

It takes a Heathen to really understand how to write Nine Steps, for those who know and revere Thor the song is his spirit written in the dust and blood of the old west, for those who do not know Thor from either the ancient lore or modern Heathenry, then Nine Steps does a beautiful job of capturing the essence of his spirit for those who may not have known they need his inspiration and example to face their own struggles.

I know that left free on the internet there is a certain stream of Heathen that likes to go a-viking and take what is shiny and interesting through wit and will…….but do try to remember we only raided our enemies.  Among our own, and those with whom we traded the rule always was a gift for a gift, and Hauk Heimdallsman and the Black Hat Society has given us a very great gift.  I not only found my purchase worth every (broke as post Yule parent) dollar spent, but left me hungering to find out what his upcoming album will hold for us.

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized, Yule

Hundred Faces of Jul

Yul

Around the tree they come
Joy and reverent awe
In the heart of the dark
Raising song
Bright flame of the soul
The Julfather comes

Second eye bright with love
Gift giver comes
Upon the night winds
Jul’s bright face laughing

Two streets away
Cold in the alley
A soldier coughs his last
Cardboard box his only hall
Battered battledress grown thin
Dead on the land he fought for
No home for the home come son

Howling Jul claws out his eye
For the Feeder of Ravens sees
Hospitality riven like foes shield
Strong sons cast to the streets like garbage
Wild Hunt rises screaming upon the night winds
Run before it
Souls and flesh the wolves will tear
Bright spears cold as the street’s own mercy
Summoned by our deeds

To the old, the sick, the lonely they come
Bright songs and baked goods
Presents and bottles
Hope stirs the flickering flame
Love binds those who feared they had no place
Frigg blesses, Holle smiles
Those who carry Yule in hand and heart
Weaving back those we might have lost

Two streets away
Cold in the alley
A girl coughs her last
Home to foster to street
Abused and used
Fallen through the cracks
Cardboard sign
Asks for the meal
That would have kept the cold at bay
Hard choices to get through the day
Hard drugs to help her forget
To get through one more night
Until she didn’t

Hearth mother standing
Above the silent daughter
No more to feel the hunger
No more to face the scorn
Frigg screams her rage

Beauty shed like illusion
Bright and terrible
Spear hungry
As the discarded child
She calls forth the hunt

Run before it all the night
No mercy on the Mother’s Night
For those who cast away
The gifts of innocence
The future of the folk

Mercy and Madness
Joy and black despair
Hundred faces of Yule
Hundred truths in the darkness

Will you heed the call to be open handed?
Or will you close fist and heart
Will you brighten with feast those who hunger
Or stalk sneering by
As the gods ride the night winds?

Bright the fires
Bright the songs
Warm the blood by spirits lifted
Yet the wind outside is howling
The Wild hunt rides
Run before it or die
For it holds no mercy
No more mercy than our streets
No more pity than our hearts
A Hundred faces at Yule
And each one we called down ourselves

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

Won’t make Yule

Heathen Yule story

I had gotten old sometime when I wasn’t looking.  My body was a tracery of too many scars, a patchwork history of surviving things that should have killed me, and forgotten legacies of decisions that seemed brighter at the time then they deserved.  There was also the happy weight of enough good meals and good drinks to remind me that I wasn’t just surviving, I was living, and living as I chose.

I was sipping my morning coffee, watching the dawn think about risking the cold to happen anyway and trying to figure out which of the hundred things I had to get through before Yule I was going to work on next, or should I just kill some time on Netflix catching up on new releases.  I glanced at the window, and what shone back from the reflection chilled me to the point I could not feel the hot coffee that slid unnoticed down a throat suddenly ice cold.

“You will not make Yule this year.  You will not see another dawn outside my hall”

Half maiden fair and shining, half rotting corpse of grave darkness calling, Hel stared back at me.

Hel veiled

The face that ghosted in the window shone with an inhuman beauty and terror that affected me on levels beyond the conscious, deep in the primitive animal the urge to flee warred with the spiritual urge to abase myself before the divine presence that beat the air like silent thunder.  I had my scars for a reason, so both the primitive and the spiritual lost to the ego and will that lead me into, and out of most of a lifetime of trouble, and my mouth ran off without consulting me about the wisdom of cracking wise with a goddess.

“Come to collect my tired old ass yourself, have you?”

My mind had time to catch up with my mouth, and I contemplated having a heart attack on the spot as a reasonable option to finding out if Hel, goddess of the underworld had a sense of humour or tolerated sarcasm.  Fortunately for me, goddesses are somewhat harder to anger than employers, wives, and local police, or at least immune to my sarcasm.  She continued without bothering to address my mindless quip.

“I do not kill, nor does the earth kill the swallow in flight; it, and I simply await you when you fall.  You have in the past done me some service, and shown me some courtesy, so in return I offer you this.  You will not see another dawn.  I will see you before then.”

She turned sideways from the world and vanished, but as her dark aspect flashed past, the window frosted over like someone pulling blinds, and my coffee froze in the cup as a mute testimony to the reality of my vision.  Well….damn.

I looked over to the fireplace, there was about a days worth of wood there.  I looked out back to the wood bin.  There was about a weeks worth split and ready, and a couple of winters worth unsplit.  The wife was not good with an axe.  I mean she was a Girl Guide leader and could do anything camp related half decently, but honestly, watching her with the axe always made me nervous.

Knowing I was going to leave her my corpse kind of put a damper on Yule, but I could do a bit more than that.  I left off my coat, and took up the axe.  I put about two hours worth of splitting in.  My hands and wrists were aching from the shocks as I took a look at the bright pile of neatly split logs, and neatly piled kindling.  There, that was a wee bit better.

The song of the axe had settled me, as it always did. I went to wash my hands and found the sink full of dishes.  I cleaned them, as it just seemed like my last chance to show I cared enough to put in the scut work nobody enjoyed. So.  This was the last day, and I would not make Yule.  Well, take the day as a gift, and a gift for a gift is our way.  Yule is the season for gifts, so I had best be about it.

I had done more shopping than you would think, I just procrastinate about wrapping and mailing things because I hate lineups and hate the crowds of the malls.  I was out of time though, so I loaded my presents in my old army kit bag, and like a veteran version of Santa went to put some Postal elves on delivery duty.

Two hours out of my last day later, I had fired off presents to my wife and daughters, because I wasn’t sure if they would open something I left under the tree, I didn’t want the shadow of my death to make them shy away from opening them.  Instead, they would have to open the packages before they knew it was from me in the first place.  I sent off presents to my old friends from coast to coast, and if I broke a few laws about liquor distribution, its not like I have to fear arrest at this point.  The grin from that realization made the snarl of the waiting in line disappear.  I want the people I love to know that I was thinking of them right up until the end.  I may have been too busy to be there half the time they needed me, and been too much of an idiot to have heard half the times they asked for my help, but for whatever it is worth, they would know I loved them, and thought of them even at the end.

It was almost lunch time.  I knew my wife, who was a driving instructor, had a student with a road test at lunch time, and she would be waiting in the Motor Vehicle branch playing games on her phone during the test.  She honestly ate terribly when she worked, and I was the same.  Too busy to look after ourselves when there was so much to do, and so many people to look after.

I called in an order to the Greek place, and brought a full feast to surprise her while she waited.  I let her know that I was just at the post office, and got hungry in lineup and figured since I was next door, I would just pop in and surprise her.  The fact she was that happy I did told me I should have done it more often, but somehow unimportant things were allowed to get in the way of what truly mattered in life.  It took a visit from death’s own mistress to remind me what was important in life.  Add that to the list of my mistakes, its a thick book already.

As her student pulled into the parking lot, she smiled and gave me a kiss, thanking me for lunch, before getting up to watch the student pull in.  You can tell a lot about how a road test went by how the student exits the car, and it was less embarrassing than asking the student how they did.  I packed up the remains of lunch and then reached out and gave my wife’s ass a loving squeeze.  She squeaked and smacked me, but her eyes were twinkling and her smile made it clear she was equal parts flattered, amused, and annoyed.  It was part of my job to be inappropriate enough to remind her that I didn’t just love her, but wanted her.  It should go without saying, but at the end, you worry about whether you said enough.

“Love you.”  I said as I left, and her grin let me know it was the right thing to say.

I felt kind of bad about leaving her to clean up the mess, knowing I was going to die sometime tonight.  I mean, that is going to really make her depressed around the house, with the memories of our lives being overlaid with the memories of my death.  I was thinking about it as I wended my way out of downtown traffic into the quiet residential zones.

I came up to the stop sign, and felt a spasm in my jaw.  I absently took my hand to work it out, but it spread to my neck.  The ache was pretty intense, and I went to take a deep breath to push through it when I realized my chest felt tight like a jottun had wrapped his fist around it.  Ah.  Well, at least I won’t be at home.

I cleared the intersection and pulled off.  It was getting hard to breathe, and I was sweating bullets. I pulled out my phone and laid it beside me on the car seat. Honestly, if this was a heart attack, it did feel just like the spasm’s I got all the time from various spinal, rib and other injuries, but having Hel drop by and let you know tonight is the night more or less argued this was the heart attack kind, not the just living with the damage  five decades of hard living left you with.

I watched the sun set over the river.  The fog rose like a dragon above the river, stealing the sight of the waves as the cold laid its hands upon the earth, forcing the light to retreat over the horizon.  I felt the cold seeping into my bones with a heaviness that I had never felt before.

I dialed 911, but left the handset where it rested.  I muttered my location, and said something bland about chest pain, but honestly, there was something strange about the pain.  It was growing worse, but pain and I were old friends, almost lovers, and the strangeness of this pain was worth paying attention to.

The pain grew stronger and stronger, but somehow…….it was losing its grip on me.  I saw my vision tunneling in, I cast my eyes upon the last splinters of sunlight, and watched the cold dragon of mist rising hungrily from the brooding river.  There are worse things to see at the end.

Yule is the dying time.  The gods call upon us to gather together, to wassail hard in the heart of the dark, to feast and make merry, to exchange gifts and renew the ties that bind us to this life.  The veil between the world of the living and the dead grows thin at Yule, the Wild Hunt rides the howling night winds, and the fires of our lives flicker and are so close to extinguishing that without those ties, many who should live, will allow their fires to burn out, and surrender to the cold.

The cold took me.  Hel was awaiting, but on my last day I reached out to those who mattered to me and showed them I cared.  Words are nice, but honestly I lived my life through working for those that I loved, so on my last day, I worked one last time for those I loved.  It was enough.

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Brísingamen

Freya Tears

So It was at the dawn of the world that the first war ended with the victory of the Aesir over the Vanir, and Njord went as hostage unto Asgard as Hoenir went to Vanaheim in return. So it was with the pride of Vanir warriors slain upon the field that Freya the Shining wept bitter tears for the loss of her people. She wept for Njord of the Sea, whose sons save Frey were now dead upon the field, and he away to Asgard as hostage. Where she wept her tears upon the sea, so did they turn to amber. She wept for Nerthus of the Earth, who turned her face from all the worlds now that the strong sons she bore were now wrapped in her embracing earth, not striding boldly upon it. Where her tears fell upon the land, they turned to gold.

Mighty was the magic of Freya, she called Gullveig Thrice-Burnt and unconquered, yet mighty too was the magic of Odin, and the might of Thor, Tyr and Heimdall were too much for any save mighty Frey to stand against, and so her folk, like her tears were fallen. As she wept she felt a magic tugging gently at her powers, weaving slowly and deeply in and beyond the worlds. Looking down she saw four dwarves, two called Dvalinn and Alfrik who searched the mountains and valleys, and two called Berling and Grer who searched the shore and the sea bottom, to gather her tears.

Deep in the bones of the worlds where Nerthus kept her silence sounded the hammers of dwarves four, each blow weaving in soil and stone, rock and tree, seed and stalk. Beneath the waves chimed the song of the anvil, from the hags of the mere, the selkies of the shore, the weed of the deep sea swayed to it, and the salmon in the streams leapt to its call. Freya heard the song echo in her father’s crashing waves and her mothers deepest silence, and in it was the ache of her own tears, the whisper of her own lusts, and the thunder of her own passions. Moved at last to curiosity, she cast her cloak about her, and on falcon’s wings followed the sound of the hammers down to the caves.

Casting off her cloak, as a witch wrapped in the shadows of the dark did she stalk the caves until upon the forge of the four did she come. Runes of power to bar even Loki from walking, or Heimdall from seeing barred her from walking unseen among them. Casting aside the darkness she had gathered, she walked before the four clad in the splendor of the Queen of the Van.

Dvalinn, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer raised high in triumph Brísingamen, a necklace forged of Freya’s tears, of the amber of her father’s realm, and the gold of her mother’s. Where the necklace joined shone a jewel as bright as Sunna. Power shone from it that called to her, fire of the sun, passions of the dark, fury of the blood, terror of the bone, secrets of the dead, and renewal of life. All that was sundered in the world by the war that was could be set right, all that had been overthrown might be reborn, and a need to own this Brísingamen burned in her as had passion for no man nor god.

“I will cover you four with gold beyond counting, each to hold the price of my brother’s sword, will you yield that necklace to my hands” Boasted Freya proudest queen in nine worlds.

Dvalinn sneered at her offer and his strong hand wrapped around the necklace like iron.

“No good did his smith get from it, nor your tribe, nor all the nine worlds. No weapon will we forge for your wars, not for all the gold that sleeps beneath the mountain. While I hold this necklace, I feel the sun upon the mountain glen, hear the cries of eagles, and know the whispers of every word carried upon the wind. I am cold and lonely beneath the earth, with naught but the song of the hammer to sing me to my rest, and naught but forged metal beneath my palm. Nay goddess. It is no gold of yours I covet”

Freya let fall her mantle and stood in the firelight crowned in the gold of her flowing hair, skin painted in the dancing firelight, raising her arms in invitation as she sang to him softly.

Goddess Freya true

“See the firelight dance upon my skin like a lover’s hungry hands, would you trade the hunting cry of eagle for the falcon’s scream of joy? Would you know the whispers of a hundred thousand secrets, or the tender whispers of a night of love”

So it was for a night Dvalinn danced in the embrace of the fire of life, heard the falcon cry of release, and wept burning brine tears as he it was who whispered love and devotion unasked and unreturned to she whose love burned all consuming. In the morning Dvalinn knelt to her and bade her hold the necklace for all his claim.

Alfrik shook his craggy brow, and tugged his iron beard, unmoved by her beauty. His words were the sound of millstones grinding.

“When I hold the necklace I feel every seed sleeping in the earth, every blossom yet to open do I scent, and each nut shows me the tree it dreams. While I hold it, though I walk the deepest snows, still will I see the fruit hanging on the branch, smell the apple blossom in the snow, while I hold it goddess, no darkness or hunger shall ever find me. What could you offer me more than freedom from want?”

Alfrik turned his back to Freya, that her sight not sway him, and she pressed her body to his hard and gnarled one like a the shroud upon a corpse. Whispering to his ears like wind in the summer branches, she let her soft hands run along the hard and bitter muscles of his arms and chest. Her belly she pressed against his back as her tongue flicked at his ear and she whispered hot and hungry like a fever in his ear.

“Want I offer you, endless and wanton. Hunger that can never be satiated, thirst that can never be quenched. Desire that will unmake and destroy you. No mead will touch your lips but you don’t think it bitter sea water compared to my kiss, no fire will warm your bones that you do not think it corpse cold compared to my sweet embrace, no gold will shine in your eyes like the sweat on my skin, nor any bower rest you save my once shared arms”

So it was the Alfrik gave himself knowing to her taking, and for every heartbeat between sundown and sunrise did he know the bliss few gods dare, and broken and weeping did he yield to her the necklace when she left him.

Berling shook his shaggy head as Freya stalked him at the forge. He held hard to Brísingamen and its bounty, denying Freya in her glory. He knew well the gifts it brought him and named them for her so she would know he could not be tempted.

“With this I know the name of every salmon leaping in the stream, I can bid the waters of the earth to burst forth from the stone bright and pure, or boiling and foul, bid the swamp to firm to farming field and the river to spill its banks in fury. What can your arms offer to that, bright goddess?”

Dancing around him, ribbon trailing from her fingers Freya chanted.

“I offer why the salmon leaps the raging river, why proud stags die for kingship, why the rabbits dance the spring and wolves dance death itself”

Turning around and around the dwarf of the deeps, Freya sang the song of the cycles of the earth, the dance of the Maypole and its Queen. Binding him with ribbons spun from her own shift, she danced him bound and her naked. Dancing the soft grace of summer’s plenty, the gentle turning of autumns glory, the rising need and hunger of the long dark, and at last the madness and ever renewing passion of the spring.

Deep beneath the earth where no sun rises or moon turns, where no season touched, nor age could bite she danced for him the cycles of the year, the cycles of birth and death, of hunger and plenty. She danced herself Queen of the May and bound him as her May consort, bound to the pole, bound to the earth, bound to the cycles, bound to the dance of life.

Like a rutting stag he took her, and laughing she urged him on, meeting passion with passion, Queen of the May binding the lord to the land, the renewal of life, and the foretaste of death. In the sunless lands where age cannot touch, did Berling dance the wheel of the year, and the cycle of life. She wove for him a crown of flowers drawn from the earth, and he bound the Brísingamen to her throat. Bound he was when she left him to she that he could never have again, and cycles no dwarf could ever join.

Ger waited in the cold of the forge. His eyes were stone no fire could melt, no beauty could turn. His blood was cold as glacial stream and no thing that lived could move him.

“Do not waste your breath you wanton goddess. I am not the fool of my brethren. With this necklace in my hand do I see the roots below the world and trace the roaring of the mother of waters to the trackless depths where Ran binds in silence all those she cast for upon her seas. I know the secrets of every world the waters touch from the Hvergelmir to the gates of Hel I know what any that lives may know, and nothing you have may tempt me”

Freya stalked now naked and proud, but her hands she turned, and gloves of fine catskin cloaked them. Throwing back her head, she laughed, and shadows lapped at her body like dark waves upon a midnight tide.

“Ger the far seeing, you are called, Ger the long living, are you named”

The darkness flowed from Freya’s eyes, and in them a hunger burned that was not sane, was not safe, was not survivable. Weaving her hands as she danced the wild dances of hunt and kill, of stalk and slaying, of butchery and blood. Wild and wanton she danced not the coupling of love but hunt, war, and red handed murder.

“Dwarf of the worlds forging I offer you death! You see from the first wave to Ran’s dark net, but not where she drags down her prey. You see the river’s lap upon Hel’s shore, but not her hall. You who were born at the worlds forging know no birth, and will know no death as man and god may know. You who are not tied to time may not know death, save through my arms, may feel no grave save through my bower, find nothingness only in me”

With a wordless cry Ger reached for the goddess of all dark passions, with a will he drank her kisses as she took him down into death a hundred times that night, a thousand by the morning. Broken and screaming, weeping, silent with wonder, laughing in joy the goddess of all the passions taught one who existed beyond life and death about the end of all things. When the morning came, he begged her to take Brísingamen from him, but would not raise his eyes to see her leave.

Laufey’s Son did see her stalk from the cavern with Brísingamen bound upon her breast, and Loki mocked her for the getting.

“Sold yourself to four crawlers of the earth, proud Gullveig thrice-burned now four-swived for a trollp’s treasure! How the Van-Dis is shamed, as broken as your tribe”

Loki’s charge should have driven her into a rage, yet beneath the sun did Freya stand.

Raising her arms, she called out a joyous cry, and was answered. The bones of every mountain rang like bells. Sleeping seeds gave whispers promising endless fields of heavy grain, great stags and shaggy wolves gave voice to summer’s song in the heart of winter, and the sleeping trees burst forth with blossom that no frost would touch.

Slow measured steps she danced around Loki’s snarling visage and stag and wolf danced death for her eyes, and sweet Sunna whose light barely touched the rim of the world shone now from Freya’s necklace like May Day’s promise of springtime.

Bowing to Loki gently, she trailed a hand across his shoulder as she passed him upon her way, saying simply.

“I have what I have, I paid what I paid, and I am what I am, all that I am, and all that I will be. Brísingamen’s mistress, the unbound, thrice burned, Van-Dis, and delight of dark witches.”

Freya and Dwarves

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Loki, Discord and Weak Lore

Loki II

 

There is a particular type of Heathen, call them Nokeans, who have deep philosophical objections to honouring Loki Laufeyson as part of Heathen ritual.  This is something that I discovered when I began having more dealings with American Heathenry, and it is almost purely an American issue.  I get how those who are part of American Heathenry can have trouble seeing that it exists beyond their shores and experiences, but for those of us far from their own journey, some of their communities deep and bitter battles are just hard to understand at all.  The Lokean/Nokean feud is one of the bitterest and strangest for outsiders to grasp.

 

Lets acknowledge the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room and admit that American Christianity is different that most of the rest of the worlds, and its baggage was not left at the door when conversion to Heathenism was embraced by many, and two bits of baggage that linger like a bad smell are the Loki as Lucifer, and the almost as irritating attempt to fit our goddesses into the poor submissive virginal Madonna.  I will deal with the Freya slut-shaming at another time and devote ourselves to the simple truth that Loki isn’t and never was a close cognate of Lucifer, not our devil.  We didn’t need a devil, our gods have deeds black with blood and infamy all on their own, of their own will and choosing; their lessons are important to us because their potentials are all within us, bright and terrible dark.

 

Our community has a terrible record with Loki in one sense.  Many of the loudest voices of the Nokean side are currently serving their sentences for the crimes that taint their names, and soil the legacy of the bright kindreds they gathered to their name.  From the pulpit they hammered all of those who followed Loki for their immorality and for the bringing of discord, even as they laid the foundation for the destruction of their own kindreds, communities, families and personal lives.  I have had the sad task of doing the Public Relations cleanup on some of these loud Loki-haters, and I have to say for all their talk of how destructive Loki is, it was the deeds of Tyrsmen, Odinsmen, and Thorsmen I have been tasked to clean up, and a strong Lokiswoman who for the better part of a decade has laboured without fail to do the same.  The deeds of the Nokeans and Lokeans certainly seem to imply the discord-sowers are more common among the Nokeans than Lokeans, but lets take a second to look at the lore so beloved by the Nokean camp.

It is a sad truth that no group save the Nokeans has such a terrible record of cherry picking the lore to the point that it is hard to credit they can be doing anything less than deliberate (or I grant you unconscious) misrepresentation of what the lore actually says.

 

Loki’s crimes are largely not his deeds, but his methods.  We love Odin for seduction, Thor for murder, but its hard to pound your chest and scratch your balls manfully when describing trickery and subterfuge as the heroes tools.  Loki is the one the gods turn to when you can’t fight or futter your way out of a problem.

The Walls of Asgard: In this myth we see the gods attempt to cheat a craftsman into rebuilding the fallen walls of Asgard in return for the sun, the moon, and the goddess Freya.  They “know” the job cannot be completed in time, and have zero intention of honouring their pledge.  The craftsman is equally deceptive, and his horse is actually a dragon in disguise, dragging stones the size of houses as swiftly as a common horse could drag a hay bale.  In order to get out of their bargain, the gods send Loki to distract the horse, which he does by transforming into a mare and luring the stallion off for some sweet recreation rather than completing the job.  The walls are left almost done, the bill unpaid, the craftsman loses his mind and then skull as he unmasks as an angry giant to rage at the gods, who then have Thor execute him.  Loki comes back some time later with the fruit of this labour, his son Sleipnir.  That is right, Odin’s faithful steed is Loki’s son.
Loki’s monstrous children are numbered four.  Like his presence in the lore, they net out to zero on the friend/foe good/evil spectrum.  Fenris and Jörmungandr are monstrous foes of the Aesir and man, yet Hel is the guardian of our dead, and Sleipnir is Odin’s world striding steed.  Two foe, two friend, net zero.

Hellenic lore also boasts such a net zero figure, the demigod Hercules.  For each of the bright deeds he is remembered for are atonement for great misdeeds on his part.  In a fit of rage he killed his first wife, and was forced to do his twelve labours as atonement.  For violations of hospitality and outright insult to his noble host in mourning for the death of his own wife, Hercules went into the underworld and brought her back from the dead.  Like Loki, he does a bad thing, then a heroic thing to balance it, and in the process brings change into being.  Hercules did so using brute force and violence, and is remembered fondly and selectively (Disney and most pagans tend to gloss over his misdeeds) while Loki used less masculine methods, and is demonized for it in modern heathenry.

 

Loki in the kidnapping of Idunna, well Loki gets caught by Thiazi and in return for his life bargains to exchange for Idunna and her apples of immortality.  When the gods demand he get her back, he not only rescues her, but lead Thiazi into a trap which destroys this great foe of the gods.  When Skadhi Thiazidottir comes to claim her suffering price, Loki it is who makes her laugh and secures for mankind the end of winter which she would have punished us with for the loss of her father.  Skadhi now stands among the Aesir as the White Huntress a strong power to our defense and guide to the high wild places.  It is hard to see this as a net zero, for in fact Loki’s actions leave both the Aesir and mankind far stronger than before his crime.

Loki shamed Sif by cutting her hair and stealing it.  To make up for this crime Loki had hair of living gold fashioned by the dwarves to replace what he stole, and as part of that suffering price gained for Odin his never missing spear Gungnir, Frey’s land/sky/sea faring ship Skíðblaðnir.  Not content to let that rest, Loki makes a bad bet with another dwarf and before it is done has won for Frey his boar-of-battle Gullinbursti, and Odin’s ever replicating ring Draupnir.  It is hard to see this as a net zero either, as when Loki’s actions are tallied, the gods end up far stronger than before.

 

Theft of Thor’s hammer, the hammer was not stolen by Loki, yet when force alone will not return this dread weapon to the defender of Asgard, it is Loki who the gods turn to for its restoration.  The methods chosen were not traditionally masculine and heroic, they were indeed the opposite!  Loki helped Thor to dress as Freya and wed the giant who stole the hammer, and when the hammer was laid in the blushing brides lap to bless her with fertility “she” repaid this blessing by painting the hall in the blood guts and brains of “her” new husband.  Thor had his hammer back, and was dealing with his widowhood well.  This nets zero, but Loki acted to right a wrong that wasn’t his, so Loki’s actions in this while not “manly” are totally in the service of the gods and mankind.

Lokessana paints the bleakest picture of Loki, for in it Loki goes to Agier’s hall with the intention of repaying every slight the gods have offered to his name with matching insult, or better.  He mocks every god and goddess by name with misdeeds that honestly, we don’t retain enough of the lore to know the whole story behind half of them.  His behaviour is poor guesting, rude and boorish beyond doubt.  For this Loki is bound.

Lets be really clear about this, Loki is bound for his insults, not for the role that later lore ascribes to him as Baldur’s doom (for which Hod was killed).  How was he bound?

Loki had four monstrous children, three by Angrboda (Hel, Fenris, and Jörmungandr) one he bore himself (Sleipnir).  He also had an Aesir wife Sigyn, and two sons born into the holy tribe, Vali and Narvi.  How did our holy gods, the shining Aesir defend these blameless children of their tribe?  To bind Loki they transformed Loki’s son Vali into a wolf and caused him to tear Vali’s own brother Narvi apart limb from limb.  Transformed into a mindless monster and forced to be kinslayer, Vali is then no longer of interest to the lore and not spoken of again. Narvi’s corpse is used to supply the entrails that bound him to the rock, where his monstrous son Jörmungandr is likewise bound to drip burning venom on him until Ragnarok, with only his long suffering wife Sigyn to use her cup to catch the venom as it falls, only letting it burn him when she must turn to empty the cup.

 

Loki was a bad dinner guest, for this our gods have him tortured by his son until the end of days, binding him with the corpse of his murdered godly son to be tortured by the venom of his monstrous son, while his blameless wife stands in eternal prison simply to reduce his suffering.  Its hard to imagine why at Ragnarok he rode against the Aesir who murdered his two blameless Aesir sons and tortured him for centuries on end.

It shouldn’t surprise any student of the lore that such methods were used by the Aesir.  Do we not honour Wayland/Volund whose tales of vengeance we tell so well and boldly, who fashioned the teeth and bones of his captor-king’s children into gifts to him and his queen, who bragged to him of murdering his boy children, and impregnating his daughter as part of his revenge.  Such deeds were accepted, being black and foul as they are, they are acts of naked force, not subterfuge which is Loki’s true crime.

 

On the subject of subterfuge and black deeds, those who will not stand in Sumbel where Loki is honoured will lift the horn to Odin with both pride and joy.  I share this, I do.  I am Odin’s man in this life and beyond, but I know his crimes as I know the dark corners of my own soul.

 

The Rape of Rind is not Odin’s brightest deed, he required Vali to be sired to get the revenge of the gods, and for this he needed to sire a son on Rind.  She refused him twice, so he drove her mad with his magics, then convinced her family to bind her to the bed for treatment. He then raped her as she lay bound to the bed.  Odin, not Loki.  It worked of course and Vali is born to do the Aesir’s killing where their own vows would prevent it.

In Baldur’s tale alone do we see Loki acting directly against the gods, bringing about the death of Baldur, and preventing his return.  This is an ugly and brutal act, yet one of necessity too, for after Ragnarok, Baldur returns from Hel to rule where once his father did.  Without Loki’s actions with Hod and mistletoe, Baldur would have taken the field and been lost at Ragnarok, rather than abiding in the netherworld awaiting his return in the world to come.

Those who wish to point to the Lore and say Loki is evil and must not be honoured for we would be shamed or tainted by his name and deeds must not be reading our lore at all.  Odin Sigfather, Volund the Smith are honoured by us.  Look at how Skirnir gained Gerd for Frey and ask me if that is other than kidnapping and rape?  Yet Loki is evil, Loki must not be honoured.

It is time to be honest, Loki is important to the community as it exists in this generation.  His followers, his children, our brothers and sisters must accept the scorn we heap upon their brightest guide as the price of standing in our community and that is a practice that shames us all.

The lore is like our ancestors, bright, dark, savage, terrible and beautiful in turn.  Full of lessons and prices, and warnings, yet let us own that bright and dark are woven in us all, and none of our gods or goddesses are without dark and terrible places.  As we honour them, and stand in sumbel with our community and raise a horn to praise those of the holy tribe who have stood beside us in our lives and guided us through our own dark times, how can we deny this same right to those whose greatest guide has been Loki Laufeyson.

The ban on Loki needs to end, or we are failures as Heathens, for we have not returned a gift for a gift, we have not judged by deeds but by fears and prejudice.  It is time to tell the Nokeas to wake up, and the Lokeans to be welcome among us as equals.  I am Odin’s man, let the cup not be brought to me that is not brought to Loki’s children in turn.

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Gender, society and sacred

Gender

When I was growing up, there were only two genders.  I have said this a thousand times, and yet it is neither a complete nor accurate statement.  I have had a lot of time to process since Parliament of World Religions in Toronto this year, and a whole lot of streams that were part of the discussions within my own faith community (Heathen) and other faith communities all came together in the realizations that I am going to try to put together in this piece.  I am going to piss off a lot of people, more than likely the bulk of the people from my own generation who fit neatly into the classical gender role they were raise to believe was natural.  Close to fifty years of dealing with my generation has lead me to the inescapable conclusion that we were largely blind to how much we bought into the system that made it impossible to love and accept all of ourselves.

Modern western thought is bound in a lot of Christian assumptions, one set of subtle corruptions is that of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. One right way to believe and one right way to act.  This is not limited to the sacred, for this idea seeps into all thought with a fundamental acceptance of duality as the only possibility.  This is not a part of any of the ancestral pre-Christian traditions of Northern and Western Europe, and yet those who turn their back on Christianity itself either to embrace a secular existence, or to take up ancestral faiths like Heathenry, or modern ones like Wicca cannot truly divorce themselves from the fundamental assumptions of orthodoxy and orthopraxy that seeped from their religious foundation into the understanding of almost every facet of human behavior and interaction.  Most destructively in the case of gender and sexuality.

We inherited a toxic mythology from the Christian era of both masculinity and femininity.  There was literally one ideal way to be a man and one ideal way to be a woman; the closer you adhered to these, the more accepted and socially successful you would be.  This gave us a society that recognized two genders only, a very narrow definition of those two genders, and left a large portion of humanity understanding they are flawed, defective, or simply failures for not meeting those standards, not desiring those standards, or finding them of so little relevance to their understanding of themselves they didn’t even understand the standards.

We had two genders only!  We had two genders, and a whole lot of people who hated themselves, and had lots of help from the rest of us telling them how badly they failed to be a real man or real woman.

Among those who succeeded in being real men and real women, as defined by our generations orthodoxy and orthopraxy on gender identity and roles, we had the hidden costs of those roles.  Men could not express tender emotions, love, care, support, without being unmanly or weak.  We could not show pain, nor discuss fear without forfeiting the respect our deeds had earned as men, and threatening our social standing or relationship.  A man was expected to place work before family, to sacrifice his own relationship with them to fulfill his duties to the external world.   If a man were to place his time with his family as important, he would be mocked for it, and it would threaten his standing with employers, friends, and honestly even his relationships.

Women suffered the same, where attempts to assert direct authority or power, attempts to stand up for themselves or those they care about threatened to make them “unwomanly”, either called a bitch or “mannish”.  Women were as prohibited from stepping outside their gender role as men were.   A woman who sought to pursue carer as equal or more importance to building a family was seen as unnatural, even as the desire to establish her own name and reputation rather than simply marrying well was seen almost as a failure of womanhood.

Classical Heathenry is not a good place to find justification for one true manhood or womanhood.  Will you say a woman is primarily wife and mother, matriarch of her family? Certainly Frigg will be your guide to such a role right well.  You will have a hard time if you desire to paint such a role as submissive, for her role is that of queen, that of the weaver of the bloodlines, of wyrd or fate, not that of concubine and domestic.  Will you say a woman is passion, wild hunger for knowledge, experience, and life?  Then Freya is a good guide for you.  “An it harm none do as thou wilt” is a popular modern creed among witches, well Freya is not that kind of witch.  Described as the delight of dark witches, she is Odin’s peer in power and wields her magic like she wields her sexuality, to do her will as she chooses, accepting no limits but that of her own will and judgement.  Will you instead say that you seek to stalk the world in hunt after your dream, daring the high and wild, betting your skills and abilities to win for yourself the place you would claim?  Skadi, the White Huntress is a good model for you, for hearth and home did not call to her, rather the hunt of her own choosing.  Are you a nurturer? One who seeks to bring peace and renewal, healing to the world?  Blessed Idunna of the Apples, Easter goddess of the Spring or Eir the lady of healing may be more suited to you.  No one way to be a woman, no matter what your core essence called for, you were free to develop it to the limit of your potential without being seen as less than a woman.

Our generation was not offered this, we were offered attempt to fit yourself in the mold of  orthodox cis-hetero submissive wife and mother or be a failure as a woman.  We had a lot of self hating women, and more we shamed as slut, bitch, frigid, or unnatural for the crimes of desiring too much, not enough, not finding their fulfillment as primarily mothers, or desiring to prove themselves in other fields.  Honestly we probably failed as many as we served.  Oddly, the next generation didn’t accept that.  Good on them!  Honestly, we weren’t a screaming success.  There was screaming, but it wasn’t about success.

Classical Heathenry offers men as many different faces, Ingwaz Frey, the peace lord, the life giving lord of the herds, of the land offers a strong but gentle model of manhood that is not possible to fit inside the nearly toxic model of masculinity that we inherited that defines cis-hetero dominant career focused male as the only right and worthy model of man.  Not even Thor, the hammer wielding laughing god of the farmer and working man fits this model, for while he is the strong defender, he does not need to make another submit to know he is strong, nor require supremacy to feel whole.  Able to laugh at himself, his tales tell us of a manhood that embraces its mistakes and failures as steps on the road to success, that can indeed laugh at the retelling of the tales where he was tricked, because his worth and strength are not threatened by laughter.  This is not part of the manhood model I was taught in my generation at all.  Odin is the one most often invoked by those who would hold to the toxic masculine model we were given, the god of war, the hard cold bastard who did what had to be done.  Partially true, and leaving enough out to be almost entirely wrong.  Odin crossed so many gender lines he was flyted for it by Loki himself, and when a god who transformed into a female to bear a child mocks your manhood, you know you crossed a line or two.  Tyr comes closest to the healthy model of manhood our stereotype strives for, but the lord of law and honour is decidedly non-toxic, who gave up his sword arm to show that responsibility not power or prestige was most important.

To be a man as we were taught to be one meant you had to shut off your feelings and subordinate yourself to your ambition.  Honestly, we were told to give up half our humanity in the service of a dream that not everyone saw any value in.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against money, but given the choice between making more money and spending more time with my children, I know which one I value.  I have faced enough fire, faced life or death under so very many circumstances that the bullshit myths of my childhood have failed utterly upon the one test that matters; at no point was the dreams of avarice enough to sustain me or worth my sacrifice.  It was the desire to protect and provide for those I love, and the opportunity to be a meaningful part of their lives that made it all worth while.  The myth that men should leave the family to the women while they sought gold and glory makes us less than men, less than whole, and leaves few indeed valuing what they won, compared to what they gave up to get there.

We inherited one model of manhood, and those who could not conform to it were failures.  We were told to cut ourselves off from almost everything that made us functionally human, or at least pretend we did, and hide the parts of ourselves that were creative, nurturing, or who saw sex as an act of shared joy rather than conquest.  The next generation honestly took a look at what we accepted and told us to pound sand.  Good on them.

We spent at least four generations I have seen pretending we fit into one true manhood and womanhood, choosing to be less than whole, or accepting we were failures.  We accepted the false dualism, and spent our time looking into the mirror and knowing that we had to hide half of what we were, or lose what we had won.

The generation of today is honestly smarter than we were and more honest.  They took the labels we gave them of man and woman and they accepted our definition of them just as we did in our turn.

Looking at the definition, and then into a mirror, many of them said with all honesty and great wisdom, “That is not me.  I am not that”

Holy shit.  Why didn’t we?  I mean through the guidance of the holy gods and ancestors I learned to step back from the myths and become whole.  I don’t just mean the safely dead and ancient ones, I mean the ancestors whose age and wisdom taught me that there was a lot more to the reality of being a man or woman than fit in what we pretended were the only ways to do things, or the reality about how people actually lived.

Many kids today when they were growing into their sexual and gender identity took a look at the two restrictive boxes we offered and went, that can’t ever be me.  They chose to be a whole person, and not the bit that would fit in the box they knew would never be theirs, and instead chose to make new boxes.

For all those who are saying this is modern bullshit we never needed….well yes and no.  It is modern, because through the Christian centuries we lost any other way than the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of the two gender roles derived from someone else’s book.  We don’t remember how to be men and women when those terms expressed the whole and healthy range, so in this generation, rather than accept being half or less of what little we left of those traditional genders, they admitted they were indeed something else.

We call ourselves Heathen, and the old name of Asatru still holds a lot of truth in it.  We are not just true to the Aesir, and the Vanir, we strive to be true to ourselves.  How can we esteem someone for pretending to be something that will never truly be them?  We esteem someone for living true.  True to themselves, true to their beliefs, true to the oaths and loyalties they have sworn and undertaken.

A trans man or trans woman, a gender fluid or gender non-binary is choosing to live true to themselves, rather than imitating something they will never fully be, and will leave them less than fully what they could have become.  I am a cis hetero male because that is who I am.  My expression of that is far different than my father accepted for himself, but the regrets he wept about on his deathbed will never be mine, for I embraced more of the role of father and husband than the definition he accepted of his manhood would let him embrace.  If I was bisexual, gay, or my gender was truly expressed in some other fashion, I hope I would be strong enough in myself to live TRUE to who I am, rather than be less than whole, less than honest, and trying to pretend I fit in, or valued, a gender role that others defined for me.

We grew up in a world of two genders, and many, many failures.  We grew up to inherit a definition of man and woman that was brutally stripped of most of what our ancestors understood it could be, to the point that what we inherited as the one possible manhood and womanhood could only contain functionally a small portion of our people.

We don’t remember how it once was.  We do know that what we inherit is not enough, is not whole, is not sufficient.  The generation that rises now chooses to accept this, and to find for themselves boxes that they fit in, and live true to the people they know themselves either to be, or to be capable of becoming.

I am Heathen, I value those that live true to themselves, and who strive to accept their challenges without fear or deceit.  To those who identify as any one of the genders, either classical or modern, if you live your truth, and do so honestly, joyfully and without condemning others for choosing to follow their own understanding, then I give you my respect.

We grew up with two genders that had lost so much of what they had once contained that they were broken, or broke those who tried to limit themselves to fit.  Our children demanded more, and strove to fix what we accepted and let harm us, and later them.

Good on them. We failed, let them do better.

 

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