Shout out to my people, the veterans of Canada, US, UK, Australia, and all the other forces we shed the same blood stuck in the same mud, dust, gods forsaken bug infested crap-hole. This is your time to step up.
I see a whole lot of my people getting ready to feed some poor, just out of high school never seen anything worse than basic, national guardsmen his own gun for the crime of following his orders and trying to keep your stupid ass alive because your skill at arms and situational awareness seems dropped from your brains into your ball-sack.
I know you are tougher than they are. They know you are tougher than they are, where we have a problem is that Covid-19 doesn’t care. This isn’t about who is a better trigger puller, this isn’t about them damned liberals coming for your guns, this is about every time anyone gathers, there is a guest at the feast, named Covid, and you are feeding him your fellow citizens.
I know you laugh in the face of death. Cool, lets all beat our chests for a bit, and then I am going to slap the shit out of you.
Listen up fuck-muppet. You are being stupid. You are being so stupid there is a 2Lt with a map who just found your lost clue.
You are being that idiot recruit who heard the “gas gas gas” command and reached for his rifle, not his chemical protection gear. You are that frigging genius who decided that during a rocket attack, you should lay your body across the sand bags of your firing position to protect the bunker from shrapnel with your fragile ass.
You would be the first to smack that idiot recruit for being stupid in a situation that is not about courage, it is about following your training and using your brain to make sure that you and yours are alive to employ the skills our beloved lands spend so much money making sure we were trained to use (as opposed to paying us what those skills were worth, but hey if you can’t take a joke, don’t join the military).
We tend to be hypervigilant, which is good, the world is out to get us, like right now. We tend to be overskilled at preparation. Guess what, this is why. This is what we are prepared for. When it hits the fan, things start to break down, and you have no one to rely on but each other.
So, how about we stop trying to prove we are tougher than those poor 19 year old kids doing the job we all signed up to do at that same tender age and actually use those skills for what we learned them for.
We are the ones, not those kids, who have been there, done that, and had to learn to deal with living under soul crippling stress for months at a time. We are the ones who had to accept that you could do everything right and still die.
We are the ones who learned to do risk management, to look at the ways to get dead in your day’s itinerary and apply your skills, your training, your total focus to make sure that none of the bad things happened to you and yours, and the tasks got done.
We are the ones who told that same 19 year old buck who hears incoming rockets or rounds and “needs to do something” to chill out and sit down, when you are busy dealing cards because honestly, it isn’t effective fire, it isn’t from anything within range, and the only two things you can kill right now are time and your own sanity. Smart soldiers get good at killing time. We are used to waiting in stressful situations where the smart thing to do is nothing, so when the time comes to do something you haven’t already shot your wad freaking out when it was not yet time to act.
We are the ones who are used to the dying. We are the ones who are used to ramp ceremonies and explaining to our loved ones why the chaplain and OC just pulled up to the neighbors and you will hear some screaming and crying in about two minutes>
Your civilian friends, your neighbors, your family do not have this background. Do not have this experience. Do not have the coping skills you learned. They are NOT OK right now.
This is what you are needed for. The Great Generation who told stories (that would eventually become Hobbit and Lord of the Rings) to keep children from worrying while they huddled in bomb shelters during the blitz, are all dead. The generations who survived the two World Wars are all passed or passing away right now, and with them went the wisdom for times of total mobilization, rationing, war economy, and the general giving up of our cherished normal ways of doing things because right now our entire people either join together, or our nation falls.
Only the veterans remain. Those few men and women who left behind peace and plenty, who surrendered their freedoms to make sure other people got to enjoy them.
Now you are needed. Be the ones to lead. Be the men and women you used to be. The non-commissioned who taught the new recruits how to deal with pressures their whole lives never prepared them to accept as real. The steady vets who helped their fellows through their first loss, through the first time they had to face someone they knew and tell them a loved one isn’t coming home. The ones with enough years in to take the bright hard charging NCO’s aside when you see they just can’t take it anymore, because they haven’t yet learn NONE of us can deal with it all ourselves, and hey man, if you need to talk, we have all been there, it is safe to unload on us.
ALL of our people are going to be dealing with those stresses now. They do not have the experience to do so. They do not have the culture or the context to do so. They do not have any experience with the logistics being broken, and living off field expedients for months at a time. They need us to show them its OK. To teach them that hey, local systems kind of failed? Not a problem, there is no situation a handful of veterans and a few willing hands can’t have back up and running in 72 hrs max.
We train for the apocalypse, heck, the problem is some of us really want it to come so we can carve it a new asshole. Well, we may have wanted WWIII, but what we got was a respiratory infection that will do its best to kill more of us than both world wars combined.
This isn’t the apocalypse you wanted, but its the apocalypse you got. No zombies, just a whole lot of desperate people who have no idea what the right thing to do is, no idea how to deal with fear, uncertainty, and the daily grinding awareness of death at their right shoulder.
We eat this for breakfast. Show them how.
We are veterans because we got through, and more or less intact. We have rich life experience having a pretty decent time in conditions that would make any psychiatrist dose themselves into unconsciousness because what we learned to accept as “our normal for right now” is so far removed from a civilian shrinks understanding of the world that they cannot understand if you talked for a hundred years.
Guess what? “Our normal for right now” is the skill our people, our friends and neighbors, our fellow citizens, the country we took up arms to defend, needs to learn from us.
The shit has hit the fan, and the choice before our veterans is this; do we want to stand up, use that knowledge and life experience in the mad the bad and the ugly to show our loved ones how to adjust, function, and survive “our normal for right now”, or do we want to be off in a corner stroking our guns and daring anyone to tell us what to do?
I signed up because I loved my country, a bunch of other reasons, some of which turned out to be teenage bullshit, but that one remained true even after I retired. I love my country, and I am not done.
I will teach those around me that you can and should collect all the best information on the dangers we are facing, but not so you can panic, so you can take the steps required to minimize those dangers to the degree that is in your power, and then focus on taking care of those who depend on you.
Be that. Be the ones to teach how to get through the times ahead. Your neighbors are not well. They are scared. This in not their world. This is our world. We know it, and we don’t fear it.
I know we are all about embracing the suck, but you know what, we were TAUGHT how to do that by our mentors. Instead of copping an attitude about how weak those civilians are, how about you give them the gift you were given, and show them the skills we were given to incorporate the dangers of your environment into a more accurate and complete world view, replacing the comfort of ignorance with the security of good preparation and realistic understanding of risk.
It hit the fan boys and girls, are you going to nut up, or shut up?
Sword age, axe age, wolf age.
Covid 19 is here, a foe that we must face as our ancestors once did, with courage and wisdom, for our might will avail us not.
We know this age, we know this test. This is no prophesy, this is what our ancestors lived. There are times when the existence of the folk hangs on a thread, when hard strokes fall upon the shields we bear, stern foes press on all sides, when the thatch smoulders above our hall in which shelter all we love in this world.
Sword Age, axe age, wolf age
ere the world falls;
no men will
each other spare.
To this I say, this is the WARNING. Sword age axe age wolf age. This is a foe against whom our weapons are not enough. We must reach for the weapons that will work. Wind age, wolf age, for against the storm strength is not enough. That which stands will be riven, our ancestors built their serpents to bend with the waves, to ride the storm not oppose it. Covid-19 we do not hurl our defiance at in futile and pathetic hubris. We run before the storm, ride the waves and chart a course we can steer while the timbers groan and every hand bails and reefs. Thus our ancestors rode the dark of the storm, crested the ship killing green walls no proud gunned man’o’war could face, yet the serpents danced among. Wolf age, for is the warning made so clear. Fenris was not bound with strength, for the mightiest spell and steel failed before the all devouring beast. It was the gentlest ribbon that bound the beast. Strength is not enough, we must bend with the demands of the crisis, we must call upon other strengths.
No men will each other spare.
If we choose to let this be true, the prophesy is written, we fall, undeserving, unmourned, unworthy, and above all else, stupid. We face this as a community. I don’t mean we Heathens, I mean we the people. Your community is filled with those striving with the economic hardships of crushing poverty, physical shortages. Your community is filled with front line service people whose essential tasks require them to stand into danger because we need to eat, we need power, fuel, heat, medicine, cleaning supplies, communications, medicine. Your community is filled with those who can face the worst of the beasts fury and laugh it off, yet the fang marks it leaves in them will come back into the hall where the sick, the weak, the injured, the immune compromised will be helpless before the fangs carried in by the proud and foolish who mistook personal survival for safety, and brought death home to dine on their own.
It is not enough to look at what it means to you alone. We all stand in the shield wall or it falls. We have a chance to get ahead of Fenris called Covid. We have a chance to deny it a path through the shield wall. Many will fall in the doing, many will fall, but not a tithe of those who will fall if we let him breach our walls and run among our weak and helpless, until those fallen to the fangs so far outstrip the resources we have to save them that those who we have the ability to save will fall by the thousands because we don’t have the TIME. Eir is a goddess of healing, Odin a god of strategy and victory, but it is Frigg I look to. Frigg the goddess of hearth and home, the first among the Disir, she who bids us not name our babes until the ninth day when we can see if they will thrive or die. This is the reality we forgot. Remember it now. Frigg it is who taught our ancestors how to get through the hard times, all tighten their belts that all live to see the spring. That the sick retire from the hall to the sweat tent, that they live or die, but do not doom the whole. Hard truths. Your choices are not your own, not when the consequences are borne by the community as a whole.
8. What’s with the Aesir?
What’s with the Elf’s?
Resound all Jotun-homes;
Aesir are at the council,
stand the Dwarfs
before the stony door,
Understand ye yet, or what?
49. Barks now Garmr load
the leash may break,
and Freki then runs.
What will it be? Do you have the strength of our ancestors? The ones who faced Scarlet Fever, Spanish Flu, the Black Death? They did not break us, will you be the heirs of that greatness, or the ones who put their own need to be the center of the universe and the only person who matters and doomed a people who had steered through a thousand disasters down the ages with not one percent the resources or learning we have today.
Will you allow Fenris to slip the leash, shall Yggdrasil burn and Nidhogg gnaw the corpses of those too stupid and self absorbed to wake up and do not the ego satisfying gestures, but the actions the healers have already given us as the way to win, and preserve the folk? Odin bids us learn the secrets of life and death, Eir to translate that into healing for the living, Tyr demands we do our duty to the folk before ourselves, Thor that we find the courage to face the foe we can neither see nor strike. Frigg stands beyond and above all, stern mother, weaver of wyrd, watching to see if the blood lines have run to heroes or fools, to a generation of greatness, or fools who chose to die ignorant and unmourned by their own choice.
61. Then may again
in the grass be found,
which in days of old
they had possessed.
62. Unsown then
the fields will grow,
evil be amended;
Baldr is coming.
Hodr and Baldr dwell
in Hropts victory-hall,
well with Valtivar.
Understand ye yet, or what?
Well, do we understand yet? Are we planning on standing together that no night shall befall the children of Ask and Embla, shall the sons and daughters of humanity work with steadfast courage, with joy that such a struggle should be given to us that each of us may lend a hand to the preservation of all, that each can stand into battle in our homes, in our halls, or out in the world, for each has a part to play if we shall all stand to see the return of our bright and too often taken for granted land of plenty. We are one people. All colours and creeds, political philosophies, education, orientation. Covid doesn’t care, Fenris and Nidhogg see only prey or foes. Their prey stand alone, while their foes stand together. Which will you be?
Stop hording. Stop panicking. Stop bullshit gestures to prove you are not scared, while you thoughtlessly endanger others. Stop putting your ego before your folk. The fetter strains, the world tree shakes. This shit matters, right here, right now is when we decide by our deeds if we win or lose as a people Choose well.
Nothing last forever
Save in story and in song
It took one final heartbeat
Then in the silence he was gone
Something fell to rest
Cold and empty on the ground
The question hangs upon the air
Was it husk or was it horn?
There was a time that he was brimming
Full of laughter full of light
Surging blood in love and rage
The last drop has fallen
Cold and empty now he lies
How will he be remembered
In all that now remains
The husk gave all unwilling
Like a miser must be torn
Coin by coin and drop by drop
Broken and empty will he fall
The horn is raised high uncaring
From hand to hand is thrust
Stranger friend and lover
Drink deep wild and uncaring
Spilling over beard
Falling over thirsty breast
Burning with a passion
That makes cherry blossoms weep
To Hel’s own hand
The horn did pass
High she raised it
ere she drank
Head thrown back in ecstacy
Spilling from the corpse slack lip
Throat working as she drank it down
River of fire into the icy sea
Careless in her revelry
life wine spilled over unmarred cheek
Paint her cold white breast
As deep she drank his last
A sigh she gives
No tear she sheds
The horn is empty
Reverently laid to rest
For Kirk Douglas 1916-2020, who brought Vikings to live so well, and for every one of those who have shared in this long winter seasons of those they have lost in their lives.
We are given just this
78. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one’s self;
One thing now | that never dies,
The fame of a dead man’s deeds.
We will all lie drained of life upon the earth. Those who seek only to avoid death will fall as empty husks; life unlived when death claimed them anyway. Those who embrace life will fall like the drained horn, to the cheers of the hall, their name shouted so loud it will ring in the halls of the dead to announce their coming in well earned glory.
Yes indeed I’ve heard your good news
Its just that I don’t care
I’ve nothing against your Jesus
But I’ve gods and goddess fair
No I do not need salvation
Only coupons get redeemed
But I envy you your devil
So much it makes me bleed
We Heathen’s have no devil
Nor will Loki play the part
For all the ill we do then
It was born within our heart
For I gave myself to frenzy
On the cup that Odin bore
But that cup was filled with my rage
And my eyes that guide the fist
If Frey bless my manhood
Or Freya fire my lust
It was my tongue that seduced her
And my spear that broke my vows
Loki may have laughed
When I lied to dodge the price
But the lie was my invention
The cowardice my call
The Mother knows I chose it all
The One Armed knows which oaths I broke
There is none who bares the shame but me
Of those deeds I would deny
Jörmungandr spans the world
But the venom spewed was mine
If it burned worse than fire
It came from out my heart
I don’t envy your forgiveness
Nor do I seek to dodge my price
There’s no denying that I did it
But by gods it wasn’t twice
No devil made me do it
For the failings all my own
My gods they show no mercy
Not to them they call their own
For each and every failing
All of those who paid for me
Not man or god can change it
Not the fear and not the rage
Not the failings of half measure
Not the trusts that I have broken
Nor those resting in their grave
I carry all the shame of it
It doesn’t balance all I’ve won
The two don’t touch each other
We’re not accountants doing sums
I will one day face my ancestors
With all my pride and all my shame
One thing I beg my gods each day
My ancestors every night
Let me never in my cowardice
Ask to be freed of my price
They day I take your devil
The day I claim it wasn’t me
Is the day I don’t deserve the ones
Who died to keep me free
Freedom isn’t free you know
Oh it has a bitter price
It demands you own your failings
It demands you own your lies
The day you dodge the shame of it
Is the day your freedom dies
For your total lack of mercy
For your cold and bitter truth
I thank my gods and ancestors
If in life I earned some worth
Skadi is the goddess of the high wild places, the white huntress that teaches us to ski, to shoot, and the cold bitter truth of testing our strength against the mountains. I did ten years as a soldier, and spent a lot of time learning Skadi’s ways in the high wild places.
She comes to us from the Jottun, Skadi Thiazidottir. Hers is the old way of teaching, the old relationship, as with Nerthus, where the lessons are edged with fangs, and mistakes paid in blood. She is a good instructor for those able to put aside their ego and listen. You cannot pit yourself against the mountain in defiance. The lessons of Thor to dig deep, of Tyr to endure unflinching, of Odin to hurl your defiance in the teeth of superior strength will get you killed, and the mountain won’t care.
Soldiers come to the mountain hard and strong, proud and cocky. They learn, or leave on stretchers, for Skadi loves her hunters, but it’s a tough love, a brutal instruction that spares no pride because getting it wrong upon the mountain gets you dead, even today looking down on our bustling cities, her truths remain.
One step per breath. When the going gets steep you do not push harder, you slow from a walk to mountain walk; one step per breath. At this pace you can continue. Your muscles will not overcome the mountain, it will overcome your ego. Heed Skadi, respect the truth of the place, and forget what you know you can do in other places. In this time and place, one step per breath is the way to win.
This pass isn’t safe. You plot your ascent, and many times you reach where you should have been able to get through, but a slide has taken it, or the snow pack is unstable, and there is no way forward. To go forward to your goal, you first must go backwards to the valley, and then ascend another slope to seek another pass. The only way forward begins by going back. Like it, hate it, deny it; the mountain does not care. If you want to reach your destination, first retrace your steps.
Right now you are asking, since I don’t plan on mountaineering, I have no urge to go hunting, why do I care what Skadi has to teach me? Ah yes. Her lessons were born in the glacier scarred peaks of the open mountains, but they become twice as important in the secret mountains.
What, you may ask, is a secret mountain. I mean they tower above our sky scrapers, force our planes to devote hundreds of miles just to get high enough to traverse them, how can they be a secret?
Life is filled with secret mountains, and they break people in horrible numbers every day. We don’t see them, or rather, we see them, but fail to accept what they are, and that denial is what allows them to break us in such terrifying numbers.
Many years ago, Skadi married Njörd of the sea. To his kingdom she went for nine nights, but could not sleep, for it was hateful to her. To her kingdom he came for an equal period, but could find no rest either.
The White Huntress passed from mountain to sea and back without effort because she knew the ways of the mountains, she lived the truth of the mountains, and she knew when she trod upon the secret mountains. Their ways she knew, and her lessons she gave are truths that work in secret mountains as well as open ones.
I can hear you gnashing your teeth about all this secret mountain talk, but the infantry in the crowd most likely already know what I am talking about. Swamps.
A swamp is a mountain turned into a board game. The board is flat, so you can expect to simply walk from edge to edge without effort, correct? Try it. Let people know where you are going, so searchers know when and where to go recover you. Hopefully in one piece.
Swamps are secret mountains, because they don’t rise up and show you “hey, slow down, no amount of pushing will help you. One step per breath. Don’t fight the swamp, accept its rules and adjust your pace”. No, a swamp just clings to you, drags at you, mocks you. It takes your one hundred percent effort and gives you thirty percent return. You push harder, give a hundred and ten, spending from your reserves, and it gives you twenty percent, or less. Then you collapse. You refused to see the mountain beneath your feet, and it beat you.
Swamps are secret mountains, they don’t show you a landslide in the pass, or groaning snowpack to demand you turn back, return to the last valley and try another slope. No, it will look all the same, but grow harder and harder to fight as you advance, letting you spend more and more strength for less and less progress, until you have given up all thought of looking for another way through, and spent the last of your strength on a way that was never going to go through.
Life is full of those swamps, those secret mountains.
Work situations, relationships, family, chronic physical illness, mental illness, and oh my word yes, financial issues are not something that you can simply put your will, your skill and your strength against and win through. These are mountains, and you had best learn this before they break you.
Skadi is a goddess, but a cold one. She is the White Huntress, the goddess of the high wild places, the Jottun who came down from the killing mountains to marry into our holy tribe, and bring with her the lessons of her mountain kin.
She does not pit her strength against the mountains. She masters the mountains by accepting their strength, and moving with them. She did not win her way to the sea and back by defying the swamp, but by understanding when a secret mountain lay before her, and she learned and mastered its ways.
Skadi is a goddess, as far beyond our strength and wisdom as we are beyond the insects we crush unknowing as we walk, yet she does not waste her strength against the mountains; she is too wise in their ways to court defeat when victory requires only accepting you stand upon the mountain, and act accordingly.
Why do we demand that we put one foot in front of the other, at the same pace, without bothering to see if we stand upon the firm flat ground, the slope of the mountain, the edge of the swamp? In our pride, in our blindness, we waste our strength, falling bitter and weeping hurling ourself against the pass that is blocked in front of us, when the way back was clear, and the way around was waiting for us to find it.
In full knowledge of our resources, physical, mental, emotional, and financial, we ignore the ground before us, the cost of each step, and push ourselves beyond our limits where we…..fail. Obviously, beyond our limits is beyond sustainable, also called stupid, also called avoidable.
It is easy to see a mountain when it is physical and in fills your entire field of view. That doesn’t stop humanity from trying to pretend it is still on the flat and level ground and can proceed without yielding to the laws of Skadi. This is where Search and Rescue and the Army get to pray to the White Huntress while seeking to recover your silly arses, preferably while still breathing.
It his harder to see the secret mountains. The physical swamp is still easier to see than the everyday worlds secret swamps, the secret mountains where each step costs more than the last, and sometimes you will break yourself before admitting you must turn back if you hope to survive, let alone find another way through.
We are terrified of the appearance of failure to the point that we ignore every chance to succeed while pouring out the last of our resources on steps towards the blocked pass, the bottomless bog. Skadi does not care if you accept her teachings or not. The mountain does not care if you reach the summit and pass beyond, or lie at the bottom of a crag bleeding out. Skadi teaches us what we need to learn, and more, what we need to accept.
Don’t break yourself against things that are obviously and inevitably beyond your power. That is not courage, that is stupidity. No one is strong enough to jog straight up the mountain. You follow the paths the mountains leave open, if one is closed, turn back and seek one that is not. You take one step per breath when it becomes hard; at that pace you can reach the top. Faster, and the wise will step over you on their slower way to the top.
Don’t be afraid to turn back. Do you wish to reach the other side, or simply waste the last of your strength failing against a pass that is now blocked? If you want to reach your goals in the mountains, in the swamps, or in life where the forces that you work with and against are vastly more powerful than you, you must adapt to reality, not die because you refused to admit your first plan no longer had a chance to succeed.
Weakness is real. Denial kills. The mountain doesn’t care. If you can’t keep going at this pace, slow down. Self care is how you win. One step per breath is all you can do, then do that. Can’t go forward, it just gets harder and harder? Turn around, this way only leads to failure. Find another one.
Skadi’s lessons are not gentle, but they are life saving. We spend too much of our lives defeating ourselves because we refuse to admit when we are standing on some pretty obvious mountains. The gods do not give us tools we aren’t meant to use. They taught us the ways of the mountains because they wanted to see what we could do with the choices we made in the struggles that matter, not so we could spend ourselves pointlessly against mountains that won’t notice our steps, nor value our bones if we fail.
Do yourself a favour, and when life gets hard, take a good long look and see if you might have not noticed you were on a mountain. If you are, listen to Skadi’s lessons, and stop sacrificing yourself on stone that will neither yield nor care.
Surt fares from the south | with the scourge of branches,
The sun of the battle-gods | shone from his sword;
The crags are sundered, | the giant-women sink,
The dead throng Hel-way, | and heaven is cloven.
Where peaceful Koala |in dreaming tree
No shelter finds | scourge of branches sears
From farm and town | to Njord’s field fly
Grey prowed serpents | all succor bring
Farm and field | flock and forest burn
Surt spawn march | where the rising sun was broken
Star girt banner fly | sea blue field defiant
Strong sons of the south | through smoke will fare
Beli’s bane | lord of renewal
Foe of Surt | your aid we pray
Let not your daughters | feed hope to fire
From the ashes | raise garth and field
Gods of all folk | spirits of the dream time
This hallowed land | from flame preserve
Thor to still |the storms of fire
Njord to bless | with tears of the sea
Now do I see | the earth anew
Rise all green | from the waves again;
The cataracts fall, | and the eagle flies,
And fish he catches | beneath the cliffs.
–For all the peoples of Australia, who now suffer through fires the like of which my people know too well. May the gods bless all who struggle to fight or flee the fires, and Njord’s blessings upon the Royal Australian Navy in its rescue duties against this most ancient of foes.