It is dogmatically accepted in post 1960’s Western thought that anger is universally wrong, much as the axiom that violence never solves anything, the statement’s dogmatic acceptance has allowed it to somehow become a pillar of a society that it never built, and whose contributions have been as much negative as positive.
Anger has many negative and terrible expressions, and uncontrolled anger is almost universally destructive of self or others. Anger is a lot like fire, when uncontrolled, misdirected, or in the wrong place, it is terrible and destructive. Similar to fire, when controlled, properly directed, and in the right places it warms, protects, and drives necessary change.
When you are hurt by someone else, a large number of forces begin to work on you. Fear driven by the situation and potential for future harm, anger that you were hurt, a desire to hurt back the one who hurt you, a desire to placate the one who hurt you that they not do it again. In a largely Christian society, the social pressure to forgive, to accept the hurt without retaliation can be a real social pressure. The perception that to avoid confrontation at all cost is somehow the worthy course of action has become the supposed hallmark of our peaceful civilization.
The problems stemming from accepting hurt without allowing anger to do its work grow in proportion to the frequency and severity of the hurts accepted. When I swing my fist, my right to swing it ends at your chin. At that point, it has ceased to be my right to swing my fist, and become an assault upon your person. Once you have been struck, my intentions suddenly matter less than you think. You have been struck. This fact cannot be taken out of the equation. This is not going away, and there must be a reaction from you, even if no one but you will be aware of it.
Once you have been attacked by another, suffered pain, fear, loss, humiliation or other affront, your self has been attacked. Your flesh is not the only portion of you that can take damage, not the only thing that may be wounded. A physical attack is not simply experienced as trauma to the flesh, but to the mind and spirit as well. What can be harder to spot is attacks of either non-physical nature, or of a physical nature that are more harassment than direct damage.
Thor is the defender of social boundaries, his rune is Thurisaz, which literally translates into thorn. It is funny that the great god Thor is represented by the thorn, but in the spirit of the maxim that “good fences make good neighbors” the god of social boundaries, the god of frithful societies, is the god who makes good fences that will leave you bloodied if you try to push across someone’s boundaries.
Anger is the thorn, a thorn that bites the striking hand, and the thorn that galls our backside into getting off our tush and making sure our boundaries are defended. Anger is a message. Be very careful when you dismiss this statement. I care less about who else you deliver this message to, it may be that the only thing you accomplish with expressing your anger is letting you know you did so.
The social pressure for good people to not start a confrontation, not escalate, to keep peace at all costs runs strongly counter to the Heathen principle of Frith, or right action towards others, and indeed, towards ones self. It is not Frithful to accept without rancour attacks upon your person; your body or your dignity. Frithful is to act appropriately towards each other, and one who attacks you is deserving of your anger, not your forgiveness. More importantly, you need to deliver a message, and the primary person you are addressing is yourself.
To accept an insult to your dignity, or an attack upon your person without anger is to accept that YOU do not believe you are worthy of defense. This must not be allowed ever. I am not stating that it is productive in all situations for you to fly off the handle and initiate a verbal or physical altercation when you are so attacked; tactics if nothing else argue that you must always be aware of the threats around you and a realistic understanding of consequences should be part of your decision making processes at all times. I AM saying that you are always listening. If no one else in the world is listening to you, understand that you are. When you allow an insult or an assault to pass without anger, you are whispering to your Self that you were not worthy of defense. These whispers are as terrible a poison as anything Syglin keeps from Loki’s brow, for they eat at the heart of you.
Anger can be a powerful motivating tool to change. Anger at your physical shape can drive recovery from the most terrible injury, or fight you through the most lingering and debilitating illness. Anger can force you to look at the ashes of a failed and abusive relationship, be it personal, familial, or work, and drive you to make the changes necessary to secure that security of the person that will allow you to at last be proud, whole, and without fear of attack.
Anger at your own actions can also cause you to do the hardest thing of all; take behaviours that have been comfortable and successful for a long time and learn to set them aside, learning new ways, however painfully, that do not cause you to transgress again and leave you shaking with rage at your own actions.
Flowers are loved, swaying branches are much sung of, and the green leaf itself figures prominently in much art and fashion, but it is the humble thorn that we must turn to and offer a small bow. The thorn is the instructor of the bleeding hand, the slap of cold rebuke, the punishment for the line crossed. It is the thorn that makes a space safe, for it is the defense of your boundaries that makes your self sacrosanct. You may batter your way through thorns, for enough force renders any wall eventually breached, but what you can never do is deny the barrier was there, deny the border was defended.
Anger, like thorns, is a message to the outer world that your boundaries are worthy of respect, and not to be lightly ignored. Anger, like thorns, tells yourself that you are not only worthy of defense, but that your defense was real and worthy.
Shame and fear are thieves that steal your power. Despair and sadness sap your will and strength, removing your ability to cope, to make changes, at the very time your situation is most desperately in need of changing. The cold that seeps through your flesh as shame, fear, despair and sadness leach the life from your limbs, the light from your eyes, the swiftness of your thoughts will fall before the blaze of your anger, properly directed it can power the changes necessary to get you to a place where you can set anger aside, and remain warmed by brighter emotions.
When you are hurt, be it physically or other, you will have anger. Either you will own this anger, direct this anger towards those targets that deserve it, use this anger to spur the changes necessary to improve your situation, or this anger will direct itself. If you smile and swallow your helping of gall, if you cast your eyes down and accept your fear, the fire of anger will burn inside, but it will burn you. It will not be guided by you, commanded by you; rather it will consume and punish you for the crime of not defending your Self.
Thor is not the god of peace, he is the defender of social boundaries, the defender of the folk. His rune is not a flower, but a thorn. We do not worship peace, for an unjust peace, peace bought at the cost of acceptance of abuse is abhorrent. We seek Frith, proper action, appropriate action towards everyone we deal with. We seek frith, and when frith is breached, anger is an appropriate response, for it can be used to drive the change necessary to restore frith.