Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Freya: Modern need, ancient goddess

Goddess Freya true

I am Heathen, which honestly is not the same as pagan.  I am a hard polytheist who understands the gods and goddesses, however imperfectly we understand them, are discrete knowable entities with a nature that springs not from our need, but from their essence.  The gods that I have built a relationship with are the gods of my northern European ancestors; those familiar to the Scandinavian or German, rather than the Celt, Frank, Latin, or Pict that is also in my lineage.
We build relationships with them through the gifting cycle because of our need, but I do not honestly think they are born from it, anymore than I think Oxygen is released by plants because we need to breathe it.  We need much from them, and I would suggest from the length of the reciprocal gifting relationships we have built between our folk and our gods and goddesses, that they either need or want something from us.  I am going to look at one particular goddess, and how she is needed in our age and lands right now.  The goddess is Freya; wielder of the Brisengamen, the Van-dis, lady of the slain, and Gullveig the thrice burnt.  Due to the terrible scholarship and overly romantic fixations of the Victorians, most remember her as goddess of love and fertility, and forget her role as the only magical peer to Odin, first among witches, and she who receives the first half of all the dead heroes.

Freya is the goddess that many in the modern Heathen community have a hard time embracing for the simple reason that she is such a powerful and unapologetically female goddess.  Freya is goddess of love, but it is not the safe love of the marriage bed, but the wild passionate love that falls where it will, and cares not for the cost or conventions.  Brisengamen, the necklace that is her token, she had from four magical dwarven smiths who would only give it to her in exchange for her spending a night with each of them.
Ah yes, here we go.  The conservatives are already getting edgy.  How can our goddess be a slut?  She owns her sexuality and uses it like she does any other weapon, like her magic, to accomplish her own ends.  Like Odin seducing Gunlod, Freya uses her sexual power to get what could not be bought.  She has no shame for this act, any more than Odin does for his.  They sought something, and they gained it.  They needed the power and knowledge they sought, so where their magic could not gain it for them, seduction and desire could.  Sexual power without shame or apology.
Freya cannot be dismissed as a slut, for her sexuality is her own.  She owns no master or husband, but loves where and how she chooses.  In the Voluspa, Freya is sought by the builders of Asgard’s walls, but she will not trade herself even for the security of Asgard, so Loki is forced to use shapeshifting trickery (that ended with him pregnant with Sleipnir) to keep the wall builder from finishing on time and seeking to collect.  Later in the Lay of Thyrm, Mjolnir (the hammer of Thor) is stolen and the giant who has it requires Freya as his bride to return it.  With Odin and Thor demanding, she refuses because even in the face of the two most potent Aesir, she has the power to refuse them.  Far from being a cheap slut, she is the epitome of a woman who owns her own sexuality, and loves as SHE choses, not as others would tell her she must.

Voluspa remembers her thus; Gullveig the thrice burned.  The match to Hor (Odin) in might and magic in the first war (Aesir/Vanir war).

  1. The war I remember, | the first in the world,

When the gods with spears | had smitten Gollveig,

And in the hall | of Hor had burned her,

Three times burned, | and three times born,

Oft and again, | yet ever she lives.

  1. Heith they named her | who sought their home,

The wide-seeing witch, | in magic wise;

Minds she bewitched | that were moved by her magic,

To evil women | a joy she was.

The modern Wiccan and their famous creed “an harm none, do as you will” is not the kind of witch Freya was, nor that her followers were.  The famous catskin gloves of Freya were the mark of a volva, a seeress, a witch who dared to wield the most primal of magics.  Sought for knowledge of the future, or for advantage in battle, there were no restrictions on the magic of Freya about harming none; this is the only peer Odin ever faced in magic, who traded knowledge of Seidr to him for his knowledge of Galdor.  Her magic was a war winning tool, and for it Odin was forced to give an equal measure of knowledge and power.  Receiving half the einherjar, the honoured dead, it is Freya who choses first.  She is goddess of the dead, as much as she is the goddess of the renewing earth.
Freya means Lady, as in the title given to women in leadership positions.  Her name became the honorific for women in positions of power or authority.  Freya was synonymous with power to her people.  This is not a goddess who relies on some big strong god to defend her, but one who weilds power in her own right to her own ends, and whose power is often begged by other gods to assist them towards their own ends.

Two figures are portrayed as leading the Wild Hunt, the fall ride of Odin, and the spring ride of Freya.  In each the Wild Hunt is the epitomy of primal magic, of passion, blood and power.  The Wild Hunt is possibly the best and most enduring symbol of the magic of madness, of the divine power than admits no constraint, no law, not even reason.  Freya (or Holda for our Urglaawe kin) is the goddess of unrestrained passion, of primal power that is unbound by reason or law, simply and inevitably existing as what she is, not fitting neatly into any (or even all) the boxes we want to put her into.

Freya Hunt

Who is Freya to us today?

Freya is a goddess whose nature reaches deep within us, stretching back to the before times, before the technological civilization, the rule of reason.  Freya touches the primal essence of us, that part of us that has never fully been separated from the land, that part of us that has not forgotten how to see and speak with our dead, or the spirits that arise from the life around us.  Freya is tough for modern Heathens to deal with because she does not stoop to fit in our little boxes, and some parts of her will pass without hesitation or remorse right through our comfort zones and out the other side.  She is what she is, not what we want her to be.  Oddly or appropriately enough, that is exactly what we need from her.

When you struggle to deal with PTSD, two of the most popular coping mechanisms are alcohol/drugs, and love.  The former stops your mind from remembering, but that latter allows you to lose yourself and connect on a level below thought to life again.  One ultimately chips away at your self and becomes one of those coping mechanisms that goes on to kill you, and the other allows you to learn to tie yourself to life when the wounds you have taken are trying to force you to flee from it.  Freya is not simply about rejuvenating the earth as part of the growing cycle, she is about the power of passion to fire us; we poor half broken humans.  She rekindles the flame in those whose life fires have been brought low because life has taught us that we are either incapable or unworthy of the fires of life and love.

Freya teaches passion, and the passionate use of your power.  Freya does not separate the parts of her nature; her sexuality, spirituality, leadership, independence, mystery, knowledge, are all expressed fully not as foolish excess, but as the awe inspiring expression of purity of purpose.  The lore does not describe Freya as being a slave to passion, but one whose knowledge and passion are matched, whose primal potency and mysterious knowledge combine.  There are those who will say that Freya is sacred female sexuality, but I would say that Freya’s call to own and embrace your sexual self, and your own personal power are not restricted to any gender or orientation.

We live in a world that has grown so complicated and conflicted that we are taught to be guilty for wanting, for enjoying, for striving, for needing, and in some religions even for being born.  Freya teaches us to live.  To embrace life.  Restoring, healing, empowering or just waking us the hell up.  Freya may well be the goddess that best allows us to remember to be human, when we have tied ourselves so tightly in social constraints that make that almost impossible.

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Embracing Failure: Lessons of Frigg

 

We are not raised to accept failure.  We are trained from birth to seek success, to define ourselves by success, to adapt and overcome, that there is always a path through to victory.  This is how we are taught to deal with a world that we must overcome to succeed.  It is good to teach the young that they must strive, for against anything but their wyrd they may triumph.

 

Note the caveat.

Wyrd weaves as it will, and against it even the gods may not stand.  At the end of the first war, the goddess Frigg had seen her best loved son, Baldur, the shining one, at the forefront of every battle.  First into battle, as he was ever first with a laugh, with a song, with a smile; his courage was as great as his heart and she lived in fear that his courage would lead to his doom.  Determined, now that the Aesir and Vanir were at peace and the Aesir held sway over the worlds, Frigg set to earn from every creature that lived, every thing that crawled, flew, swam, grew, or rooted in the earth; indeed from every rock and metal, every gem and stone, a promise to do no harm to her son.  She succeeded almost beyond belief in securing the oath of every thing that existed in the nine worlds, except for one.  Mistletoe.  It was only Mistletoe that refused to swear, and with an arrow of Mistletoe was Baldur slain, and winter came into our world.  The goddess blessed with the ability to see wyrd, the weavings of fate more deeply and truly than any other, a goddess with power and knowledge almost beyond all definable limits set out to protect her son, and she failed.

Frigg and Baldr

 

Why was no one paying attention?

We can all tell you about the revenge, about the consequences, and the saga are rich in detail about all of that, but what no one discusses is that the great goddesses Frigg, perhaps our most powerful goddess, failed at the thing most important to her.

 

We get told by the better instructors in first aid that some people are going to die anyway.  Then the rest of the weeks are spent working the premise that everyone is savable, and the only deaths you encounter in training are due to failures on your part.  When our soldiers fall in battle or training, the immediate call goes up to see someone punished, as if one of ours fell, someone must pay, because a mistake has been made!

 

No.

 

Death is woven into much of what we do, and there are a lot of things that you can do everything right and still get killed.  That is why we honour those who serve military, police and fire services, because they can make no mistakes and still fall in our service.  We honour ambulance attendants not nearly enough, as they have the unique chance to experience what our soldiers see too often as well; you can’t save them all.  Watching people die when there is nothing you can do about it sucks badly.  The longer you draw this out, the more it sucks.

 

Parents and sibling caregivers get a part of this too.  Like Frigg they have one (or more) they are responsible for, one that they must protect, defend, and provide for at all costs.  Death before dishonour is a great war cry, but in practice leaves either corpses or broken people in its wake.  We somehow forgot that even the gods cannot simply decree victory, that beyond a certain point, how much you have to lose does not actually affect your ability to win.

 

Sometimes the stakes on the table really won’t turn a pair of two’s into a winning hand no matter how you try to play them.  Sometimes you have given everything you have, and it is not enough.  What do you tell the person who has given everything they have, and it is not enough?

 

Society tells them to suck it up buttercup.  Family most frequently will tell them “You have always been the responsible one, I’m sure you will find a way”, or “Its not that bad, I’m sure you are exaggerating”.  The latter one comes most frequently from those family that dump their problems on you and walk away trusting that you will deal with them because you always have.  Family will allow you to get sucked dry by parasitic members of the family because “they need help”, all the while refusing to supply any of that help, or assist you when you get so overburdened you cannot cover all the commitments any more.

 

We have the lesson of Frigga, that even the gods cannot simply decree a victory, that some things really are beyond our ability.  We don’t like that lesson, we don’t look at that lesson, we don’t acknowledge that lesson.  We peddle the dangerous myth that if you love someone enough, you can make it work.
I tried that once, drove myself past all human limits.  It didn’t end Disney.  It ended badly, and the cost was far, far higher than it would have been if I would have acknowledged I was failing, accepted my failings, and saved what I could.

We are not taught to do that.  There is a shame in failure.  A stain, a blot upon your honour and name.

 

We are taught to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold the gods to.  Think about that for one second.  We expect each other to be more powerful and more perfect than the holy gods.  I am trying to wrap my head around how that got accepted as anything but complete and utter horseshit, and I am failing utterly.

 

To people living with chronic pain, depression, or physical handicaps the challenges of our normal lives are harder by about the same degree that walking would be harder if you were carrying a pack with 80lbs of rocks in it.  They can walk, yes.  They can sort of shuffle while you jog, and they will be able to power up a limited amount of stairs, the will is a powerful thing after all.  When you drop them off the side of the boat and swim for shore, understand that they will now drown.  They can’t suck it up, they can only suck up lake water as their burdens take them to the bottom.  Some things are simply beyond your strength, and there is nothing the will can do about it.  That is just that.

 
Against wyrd even the gods are helpless, yet we somehow fail to cut ourselves the same slack.

 

There are people out there suffering in silence, sometimes motivated by pride, but most motivated by shame.  They are busy drowning under their burdens because they have been taught that they are not allowed to fail, and to let go their burdens and save themselves would be shameful.  They will drown, they will break themselves, and guess what, that won’t save their burdens either.  Their dependants do not magically get cared for if they die in the attempt, they just end up short a caregiver.

 

Against wyrd even the gods are helpless, and even the gods fail.  You are not a god, cut yourself some slack.

Everyone else out there; understand we are ALL PART OF THE PROBLEM.  We are the ones looking at the family members doing the care giving and accepting the “I’m OK” from someone who looks like they are about to collapse, patting them on the hand and going back to your life, content someone else is dealing with those unpleasant things.

 
We are the ones telling parents that you have to “tough it out for your kids”, when they are telling you they are losing it, coming apart, not able to stretch their resources enough any more, and watching their house of cards come tumbling down about their ears.
We are the ones telling those who are struggling with chronic illness or pain to just “concentrate on the positive” or “be happy”, as if there is a dial somewhere in their head that allows someone to choose to be overwhelmed and coming apart or “happy” and until now they just never thought to turn it.

I live with chronic pain, so I know this particular dance.  I am doing OK, so this isn’t a cry for help from me, because when I needed it I wouldn’t have asked, and what I was getting was so not helpful, so it was for the best.  I include that remark for one reason alone.  For all of those who are going to read this and say this is whining from special snowflakes who don’t know what real struggle is like, I have lived through more shit than you can believe or I had any right to survive, and that honestly makes me the one who needs to stand up and say this now.

I should have accepted failure when the cost was something I could live with.  I didn’t and the cost was more terrible than I want to remember, but I don’t really have a choice.  Be smarter than me.

 

If the gods can fail, why do we not permit it in ourselves?  There is a saying in French:

“sauve qui peut” save who you can.  When you are going to fail, you can accept that and save what you can, or you can deny it and end up saving no-one and nothing.  There is no honour in this, only quiet despair, humiliation and loss.  There is no victory to be gained by going down in flames, no one will sing your praises, and everyone with you gets burned too.

Failure is sometimes your wyrd.  Accept when you face a challenge you cannot win, that you will not win, and devote your energy and your effort into saving what you can, getting out from under the inevitable results of that failure as many as you can

 

We treat failure like we treat death, but I will tell you a little secret that should be obvious, but actually isn’t; you can recover from failure.  Death is simply the end, failure is a bit like falling, it tells you the point at which you have arrived (flat on your tushy)  but does not say anything about where you go from there.  You can get up from fallen, can rise from failure, but broken and dead is broken and dead.  There is no way back.  Do you see what I am getting at?  Failure can be accepted when its results are best described as fall down, even fall down weeping, rather than fall down dead.  The first two you can rise again and go on to triumph, the last one….the last one is forever, and there is no going back.

Failure is not something we ever want, not something we are prepared to accept when the failure is for those we love, for what we are depended on to provide.  It will happen, unless your life is uncommonly blessed, that you will fail, and if you are really unlucky you may face the position of looking at a failure that you would rather die than allow.  Ask yourself; will death bring your victory?  Will death solve the problem you can’t for those you are leaving behind?  If the answer is not absolutely clearly yes, then you are faced with a cold choice.  Accept failure while you can still survive it and recover something from it, or lose everything by dying.  If you lose everything and live, you can actually go on to win some back.  Death really is the end of all possible aid you can give anyone.  Death is the end of possibilities.  Failure alone, is not.

 

We are told death before dishonour, we are told to put duty before our life.  We are told a lot of things, and then set free in the world on our own to sink or swim.  When there is no way to win, losing is what is left.  When there is no way to succeed, failure is what is left.  Not all losses are equal, not all failures are total.  Accept when facing what you can’t beat, that victory is not going to be yours, determine what you can save, and put your strength into saving what you can.  Swallow failure in all its ugly squalor, but wash it down with hope.  If you chose to accept failure when you still have options, you can do that.  If you attempt to deny failure when there are no paths to victory, you will lose everything, most likely including your life, or at least your ability to function in it, and never allow yourself the chance to find your way back.

Failure is a dirty word, but many necessary things in this life are dirty, humiliating and unpleasant.  Many things in this life are simply necessary to survive to get to the parts that make it worth living for.  Don’t let fear of failure destroy you.  Learn the lessons of Frigg.  Move all the nine worlds to do your duty but if that is not enough and you fail anyway; accept it.  Wyrd weaves as it will, and if it weaves a loss for you right now, save what you can, save yourself as much as you can, and hope to rebuild on the ashes.  Failure, even when it costs you everything you have now, only costs you everything if you let it end you.  It cannot take away what you will do tomorrow, nor next week, next year.  Give yourself the right to fail, and see if the right to rebuild gives you something you can live with afterward.

 

Frigg could not save Baldur.  Sometimes love is not enough, duty is not enough, pride is not enough.  We are no more powerful than the gods, and even they fail.  They showed us you can continue.  They taught us you can be worthy of respect, of trust, of love, after failure; even a failure to protect those whom you love more than your life.  We are so quick to learn the lessons of revenge on others, and so slow to learn the lessons of forgiveness for yourself.  Blame not the gods, they are marvelous instructors, blame ourselves, for we cherry pick our lessons, preferring blood and honour to failure and shame.  Failure and shame are where you start from to rebuild what you can, save what remains.  Failure and shame are ours too.  They are not pretty, they are not cheap, and they are not ever forgotten, but from such mean things can you rebuild a life.

Baldur grave

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

One True Troll on the Internet

freemont-troll

Grimm Mordingi was a troll.  Living under the Sun Death of Sunna, for him to be touched by the sun was to die and crumble into naught but gravel and rock.  It was perhaps not the most enjoyable existence in the world but Grimm admitted that never aging, having skin that ignored most of the loud noisy things that men used instead of spears these days, and the ability to ignore such petty human concerns as “Mad Cow”, after all, none of them were particularly happy to meet a troll, pretty much balanced things out.

Grimm Mordingi ruled the rail bridge over the Pitt River.  The river was mostly fat and contented, as the best rivers are, passing under the bridge in burbling unconcern.  The rail bridge itself showered him with grain from the great wheat carriers, which allowed Grimm to feed the fat stupid pigeons that never seemed to learn the difference between nice little old ladies and hill trolls from the old country.

Some nights he would fish, others hunt deer, coyote or rabbit. On major feast days the city workers presented him with a rather confused cow, wondering at the purpose of being staked out to graze beneath a rail bridge.  This was part of the deal.  Canadian Geese were the bullies of the bird world, and took to urban life as easily as trolls.  Cute and fluffy, they were too pretty to allow the city to kill so me off every year without losing votes and elections, so the city crews who worked the tunnels and knew the lore of Trolls made the deal.  Control the geese and get cow at feast.

Grimm was thus as contented as a troll could be.  Fine bridge, fat river, all the geese he could eat and a cow at feast days.  Left free to contemplate life, he did what easily confused trolls had been advised to avoid doing for centuries; he eavesdropped on human teenagers.

He discovered they were obsessed with their phones, which oddly they talked to and not on.  They used them to do this thing called “social networking” which seemed to consist of ignoring the people you were with to talk to people who were somewhere else, ignoring the people they were with too.  He admitted, it sounded like a very Trollish way of doing things.

Then the magic happened.  He learned there were Trolls on the internet.  Not some trolls, apparently Trolls were greatly feared, raiders of terrible power who stalked the internet terrifying whole communities of humans.

Thor had made it clear, that any actual terrorizing of villages would be met with a hammer from above, if the fire and spears didn’t get you first, but this “internet” trolling was allowed.  The prayers of these silly humans for their priests to wield the Ban Hammer in Thor’s name to crush the trolls were seldom heeded.  There was a whole thriving world of trolls he could connect to via the “internet” whatever that was.  All Grimm Mordingi must do was to get a phone or tablet (a stone carved phone?)  and he could join his people, become again a wild hill troll, this time in cyberspace!

There were humans who came to stay under his bridge.  There were the god-touched, the street people.  They were wary around him, as they were each other, for predators lurked behind every tree and rock, every bridge and shadow.  There were the couples, the young lovers who came to practice their mating.  While some clearly needed the practice, others seemed just naturally gifted or really well taught.  Neither of these groups would be interested in helping a Troll to find his folk on the internet.

That left the horns and skunks.  The horns were those who gathered in groups up to a dozen and drained odd horns of metal, or bottles of some sort of plastic as well as glass beneath his bridge.  They were loud, funny, but frequently quite violent when surprised, so probably not the ones to teach him the ways of the Internet troll.

That left the skunks.  As with the horns, they did not actually use their traditional namesake.  As the horns drank from bottle and can, rather than civilized horn, the skunks did not smoke actual skunks, but a local weed whose buds made them sillier than usual. They were usually relaxed, frequently happy, or at least sitting down or lying down while complaining.

That night as the “Stoners” opened a laptop to play their music, and smoked enough of the skunk weed to be relaxed (yet still able to speak), Grim Mordingi dropped from his perch under the deck to land among them.

Tossing two geese (cleaned and plucked) into the lap of the one who was complaining loudest about the “munchies” Grim landed in full troll splendor on the up wind side of the “stoners”

“Good evening, I am Grim Mordingi, the troll of this bridge.  You are my guests here and I offer you these two fine geese for your feast tonight.  All I ask in return is that you show me how to use a log to get into the “internet” so that I may meet my brethren, the Trolls of the Internet

After a certain amount of giggling, swearing, one person falling in the fire, it was generally agreed that:

  • He was a troll
  • He was real
  • He was not going to eat them
  • He really wanted to surf the internet and meet other trolls
  • Far freaking out

Laughing and giggling the boys and girls showed Grimm around the internet, into chatrooms and forums, and things called “mailing lists” although why you would want a list of mail was never explained.  In each he was shown the Trolls they knew, famous trolls, known trolls.

Each was worse than the next.  These were NOT HIS FOLK!  Grimm Mordingi was a proud troll name, meaning brutal killer, but what these internet trolls did was foul, monstrous!  They broke guest laws, defiled the places they called their own worse than even humanity had done to this beautiful land with their cities.

Troll after troll he found, each one more hate filled than the last, howling their spite and poison on anyone and everyone that attempted to share a moment of joy, or create a thing of beauty.  These were not mighty hunters, fierce raiders, these were torturers, vandals, barrow defiling honourless NITHLINGS!

There were tears pouring down his face, hot copper tasting things he had not shed since his long ago mate had ran afoul of a bull moose in a winter hunt.  His folk were fallen, the proud heritage of the troll was fouled by what lived today.  Rather than finding the connection to his own kind on the internet, rather than social networking, he found himself moved to do a thing most un-troll like.  He wanted to pray.

Falling to his knees, he took from the cooking goose the fattest breast and tossed it to the night for the wights.  As two half starved dogs fought over it, showing it was accepted the Troll raised his paws in supplication and prayed as he had never prayed before.

+++

In far off Asgard, Thor awoke, his hand straying to his hammer.  His wife the beautiful Sif looked over in love and alarm and asked her dread husband what was the matter.

“There is a troll on the internet”

Sif giggled and hit her husband, the mighty giant slayer with a solid smack to the back of his stone hard head

“There are Trolls on the internet, polar bears are white, water is wet and politicians lie.  Anything else obvious to say?”

Thor shook his mighty head, red beard hiding a bemused smile.
“No dear, an actual troll.  He is on the internet, and just now he has offered a prayer and sacrifice most sincere and worthy, invoking my name and my aid as the Defender of Man and Guardian of Social Order”

Thor began to dress and arm himself.  Sif working swiftly to attach his armour and gauntlet, fixing his belt of strength around him with the ease of the warrior she herself was.  As she worked to help him arm, she wondered again and again, what would a hill troll pray to Thor for, and why invoke him as the defender of man and the social order?  What could a troll possibly be asking for?  Seeing her husband trying manfully to hold in his gales of laughter, his face going as red as his beard trying to contain it, Sif finally relented and asked the question she knew he was dying to answer.
“Alright, I give up, what was our Internet Troll praying to Thor Hammerthrower for?”

Raising Mjolnir in his mighty fist, he struck a pose and shouted

“To drop the Ban Hammer on all the Internet Trolls!”

banhammer

The laughter of god and goddess sounded like thunder as Thor rode to answer the prayer of the one true Troll on the internet.

John T Mainer

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Aesir, Asatru, Death, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Taking the Pulse of Hatred

Pulse Nightclub

In Orlando Florida, the Pulse nightclub was getting ready to celebrate Latin night, but it was not to be. Omar Mateen had other plans. An American born of refugee parents, he came to Pulse with the intention of killing as many gay men as possible, answering the call of ISIS to do so during Ramadan.

Omar killed fifty, wounded another fifty three before being killed. For those who advocate open carry as a cure all to stop mass shootings, he was engaged by armed off duty officers working security early in the battle, to no avail. With a legally purchased long gun and pistol he carried out his attack over an extended period, at times hunting, at times holding hostages, until the police were able to force entry and shoot him.

Before and during the attack he told 911 dispatchers he did this for ISIS and its leader. We have a pure act of Islamic Terrorism against the LGBT community simply for existing.

There are a few side issues that people may get distracted by, lets get them out of the way.

Gun Control hotspots:

He was a licenced gun owner
He passed screening checks, even though files existed from multiple investigations for radicalization
There were armed officers present at the start of the attack and that was not enough to stop it

Both sides in the gun debate have points they will latch upon, and points they will gloss over, but the fact is this person had been investigated multiple times, worked in security, and passed all the checks to get his guns just days before the attacks. Legislation would not have prevented this, unless you took guns away from everybody, then it would have been done with fire or explosives instead.

He was born in the United States. He was not a radical foreigner, an enemy agent, and ungrateful refugee turning on their saviours, he was a citizen, born and raised into the country he acted against. He was radicalized, as so many terrorists over the years, by ideas and hatreds that sneak across borders as whispers, far beyond any border defenses to stop. Listen closely and you will hear lots of hateful whispering going on even in our countries.

Gay men

The LGBT community was targeted because conservative Islamics, like conservative Christians, find the existence of LGBT offensive. In the name of Ar-Rahim the exceedingly merciful, As-Salam, the source of peace and safety, and Al-Gaffar the repeatedly forgiving, Omar entered a club where people came together to celebrate joy and love, and hunted down and killed with cold fury, all the while calling out Allahu Akbar (God is Great). Calling out to a god whose bynames include the Merciful and the Lovingkind, he showed nothing but empty hatred, as sadly will much of the responses to the attack from our own nations.

The LGBT community is easy to target, as homophobia is not simply taught, it is preached by many conservative faiths in every corner of our nation. As much as we could point to ISIS and blame them for this, the same hatred is being preached in pulpits across the land, from churches, to temples, mosques, and I will admit what others in my own faith community will cringe at, in holy heathen sumbel as well.

Conservative elements in many faiths, my own among them, target the LGBT Communty because they want to, and because we let them get away with it. They are the last group you can go after with impunity, standing on your freedom of religion to practice persecution and hatred, while pretending you are doing something sacred.

Our own Troth has a very firm policy on willful promotion of hatred against any group, by race, by gender, by sexual orientation, whatever the cause. If you wish to hate a class of human being just for existing, we will come down on you like the Hammer of Thor, and bounce you right out of our halls. Not every group in our faith tradition feels the same.

the_troth_emblem_logo

There are moderate mosques whose teachings are not reflected in this shooting, but it is easier to pretend that this was done by all Muslims. There are moderate Christian churches whose parishioners would just as cheerfully stand in defense or solidarity with the LGBT community as the worthy Heathens of the Troth, but they must also own the existence of many powerful churches whose words are almost indistinguishable from those of ISIS towards the gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual communities.

It will be easy to get up tomorrow and scream to take all the guns away, to give everyone guns, to turn against the refugees, to turn against the Muslims. It will be whispered in darker corners that the LGBT community somehow brought this attack on themselves for the crime of not being ashamed to be honest about how and whom they love. The easy thing is seldom right, and the right thing is seldom easy.

Tomorrow I will embrace the diversity of my nation, and my neighbors. Tomorrow I will extend my hand in friendship to those who have been touched by the loss of loved ones, or those who are scarred from what they have witnessed. Tomorrow I will begin to raise my voice against extremism, and the heavy cost our peoples pay when we allow our enemies to turn us against ourselves.

Tonight I will pray to Freya:

We give thanks to the Lady of Life and Love who has shared with us the delight of dance, music and movement, the sweetness of honey, the fire of wine. We give thanks for your gifts of spirit and flesh:

When sunlight gilds the growing grain,
And scatters gold upon the sea,
When apple-blossom scents the air,
In these things, Freyja, I find Thee.

Tomorrow we will take up our banners and shields and begin the clash of will and words that marks this thing we call keeping of the peace, but tonight we call upon the lady of love, the lady of the dance, into whose arms come first pick of all the dead, we call upon her mercy to guide those lovers and dancers who fell this day, that they may find their way to the halls of their ancestors. Great Freya, I ask you let Brisengamen’s renewing light shine on all of those who have lost, that they may heal and again remember the fallen as they were in love and life.

Goddess Freya true

John T Mainer
Redesman of the Troth

Freyr of the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia

CBC News link on shooting
http://www.cbc.ca/…/florida-pulse-nightclub-shooting-1.3631…

Bynames of Allah
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Islam

Prayer courtesy of Diana Paxson, Head of the Troth Clergy Program

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Aesir, Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Living with the dead

maplewood-cemetery

It seems somewhat obvious, but for those who haven’t done the math, let me do it for you now.  For every person that lives today, there are fifteen dead people.  One hundred and seven billion dead occupy this world, along with a mere seven billion living.

We are less and less comfortable with death and with dying as we use our technology to stave off personal encounters for the better part of a century, over a century for some.  This does not change the number of dead that exist, or will exist, it simply gives us lots of time to pretend death doesn’t exist, and work really hard not to think about those who have gone before.

 

We put walls around cemeteries, fences whose job is not to keep people out, as most of them are fairly token, but they are deeply important to us, as they are the boundary that separates the living of this world, from its dead.

Burnaby Cemetary 1

Some people don’t have that option.  Some people, by inclination, training, experience or just wyrd are aware of the dead who have not gone.  What can we say to those who don’t have the option of just denying the existence of the dead, outside the rituals we have constructed for the purpose of interacting with out dead deliberately?

 

First, the dead is a really broad term, about as useful in deciding specific actions as the living is.  There are all kinds of dead, just as there are all kinds of living.  Of the seven billion or so living on the planet with you right now, almost none of them are going to have any effect on you at all,  so it is with the dead.  The default answer is that it is a big old world, and you can get on for a whole lifetime without actually encountering someone who moves through spaces fairly close to yours on a daily basis.

 

Most of the dead are bound to the mound, to the underworld, to the sea, or to whatever received either their body or their ash.  Like gravity, death defines the lowest energy state and eventual end state of anything without a great deal of energy to expend as in the mound, the earth, the stream where they were laid.

 

We are still tied to our dead, and they to us.  We can and do call to them, consciously or unconsciously through the ties we forged in life.  Those ties often stretch far beyond a single generation, and can carry along all the ties that bind, not simply blood.  When we stand at the Centotaph and call our warrior dead to us, their spirits answer, and the living, however stooped and aged stand strong and proud again when they feel the ageless brothers (and sisters) who served with them return to their call.  They shall not grow old, as we who were left grow old.  We who are left are charged to keep the watch for them that fell, to defend the freedoms and the families for which they fought, and fell.  Yet although they have paid the final price, still do they come to our call, and we give them bright offerings of praise, and gifts to honour them

013

Families still make pilgrimage to the mounds, the graves, the internment place of their dead for the purposes of making offerings to them, and of feeling again the touch of the spirit of their honoured dead.  We use the reciprocal gifting relationship that we learned to use in life to maintain the relationships with our dead.

Headstone
That is our honoured dead.  There are two categories that remain, the dead that are not our own, and those who are not worthy of honouring.

Before beginning to answer the question about what to do about dead people who fall into the “other than my own honoured dead, but still bugging me” category, I find it helpful to reflect upon the words of my grade eight English teacher reguarding conversational intent.  Consider first two questions; Audience and purpose.  To whom am I speaking, and what do I want from them.

OK, that is really important, first of all, look at the second one.  What do you want?

 

Basic level, most common and defensible concern for the living who are aware of the dead, and not happy about it, the purpose would be, quite simply, to be safe from ill-wishings of the dead.  Totally reasonable.  The Norse understood unquiet dead spread famine and disease, could through Wod bring possessive  frenzy and violence into the community.  Physically anything that came back was disposed of through bogging (stake out in the  bog, bound to the bog and staked down to it), through dismemberment (cut off the head, tuck it below the knee so the dead will not rise or walk again).  You could give the dead to the fire, that it strip the flesh away and remove the ties that bind it to the land of the living.  You could cast it into the sea, for what Ran takes she keeps.  In fact sunlight, the essence of Sunna and the primal fire of life is easiest bar to the dead, as it takes great energy to bring the dead into its presence (ie group ritual like the rememberance).  Salt is also a bar to the dead, blood of Ran, it has the power to deny passage to spirits, and to disrupt their form.

Your own hearth will offer such protection, often enhanced by a deliberate land taking, you can simply banish from the limits you define as your own space, those wights with all ill intent.  This will bar hostile wights, but it also binds you to a duty to maintain a positive reciprocal gifting relationship with the wights who are beneficial and remain in the space.

If you do a land taking and the spirit persists, it has bound itself to your benefit, and to your hearth.  You now have a duty to it, as any of your house-wights to  share your hospitality, and derive from it such benefit as is within its power and matching scope of your offering.

If you are bothered by dead at night in places other than your own, well for work places or school you may want to work on fostering relations with the other wights of those places to ensure your not being harassed, as far as the rest of the planet, it’s a big place, and we don’t own it, so live and let live, even with the dead.

 

If you are truly concerned about the dead being a problem, reach out to your Disir.  Male spirits after death are not usually given the ability to do more than communicate or teach unless they pull together an easily destroyed revenant or draugr, but your maternal ancestor spirits are proported to collectively weild great power  to affect change in this world, and have a deep and abiding interest in your life and wellbeing.
In essence, if you are being bugged by a nasty spiritual pitt-bull that you are worried about, call out the hunt, and a wolf-pack of your maternal ancestral spirits will take care of anything that needs taking care of.  Do not invoke them lightly, for they are real, they are powerful, and they are going to act as they see fit, reguardless of what limitations you would like to set upon their actions.  They are powerful, motivated, and purportedly prone to permanent solutions, so  call if you honestly need them.

disir

 

Being dead does not make people any better or worse than they were in life, however it does make them a whole lot less connected with this world in any independent fashion.  We share this world, the living and the dead, but death is to spirits as gravity is to arrows, a powerful attractant that gathers to the earth almost everything that once soared high.  This world is given to us from the hands of our dead, and held in trust by us for those who are yet to come.  There is no us and them, we are all of us bound together, the dead who have gone before, the living who are now, and the future descendants yet unborn.  We all have the power to affect each other, the web of wyrd stretches in all directions, but from the point of view of those of us bound in it by life and time, power to make change belongs to the living almost exclusively.  We are the power that shakes the world, the dead are but echoes of that.

 

 

 

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

War on Drugs: Victory Conditions

The War on Drugs:
This phrase is used a lot, and the people using it would usually require a diaper change should they ever experience the real thing, but for those of us who know the war they speak of so fondly a little better, the war on drugs makes us stop and ask a few key questions.

I was found by Odin back in basic training, but let me tell you the title that explains why Odin was revered by the folk was Victory Father, not so much Battle Glad, or Feeder of Ravens.  Victory is the goal, the passions that carry us through war, and the cost of waging it are part of who he is, and we must accept the whole package or we had best not call for him at all, but when we do call him, it is for Victory.

Odin Face
Drugs: are not the enemy.  No heroin or alcohol has ever attacked someone in a dark ally.  No cocaine has ever picked off school children crossing the road, or blown up a building.    Drugs are weapons, and the casualties are our citizens.  You know who I am talking about.  If the casualties of the gun and the bomb are known by the bullet wounds and shrapnel, then the casualties of the drug war are the drug addicts, those who were our children, our siblings, or sometimes our parents.  These are the victims.

We live in a capitalist society, and we understand the power of the consumer.  If there is a market for something, it will be supplied.  If there is a large market for something, there will be a huge amount of profit in its supply, and to defend this revenue source, all manner of casualties will flow from battling over this revenue stream.  As long as there is demand, there will be supply.  This is the truth of capitalism.

 

The flow of drugs, and the number of casualties are the two things that we, as a society, use our energy and resources to limit.  Law enforcement and border security forces do their bit to reduce the flow, but even they will tell you they cannot stop it; the KGB with the largest security force in the world, totally willing to remove even the pretense of freedom, could not stop it.

 

The demand for drugs, and the amount of people we lose to them remain the stakes on the table, remain where we will either know, or give up, Victory.

70. It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,

The live man catches the cow;

I saw flames rise | for the rich man’s pyre,

And before his door he lay dead.

 

  1. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,

The deaf in battle is bold;

The blind man is better | than one that is burned,

No good can come of a corpse.

 

Drug addiction destroys people, I don’t care if it is alcohol, or illegal drugs, those who abuse substances destroy their own lives, and damage all of those around them.  Each and every drug addict is a casualty in this war, and we have to decide right now if we want to be Heathen about it, and do the hard things required to win this war, or do we want to be Christian about it and make grand useless gestures and preach perfect world ideologies while our children die in the streets.

Guess which one I pick.

Vancouver pioneered Insite, supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users in downtown Vancouver.  This was backed by our former Chief Coroner and the Health Region as a loss reduction strategy.  I was against it.  I will admit this.  I was against the program

 

My daughter Caitlyn works in a coffee shop on graveyard shifts here in town, and is the trained first aider in her workplace.  At sixteen years of age, she had dealt with over half a dozen near fatal overdoses at her work place, and I have even dealt with one discovered in a bathroom at her school when we were there for a band concert after hours.

Bathroom addict

IV drug use right now leaves dirty needles in school grounds, shared dirty needles between users, and spreads diseases that are not just temporary, but life long burdens that will haunt those poor folk even if they did beat their addiction.  Those who are working in the sex trade, will be an increased public health risk to everyone as I am just not convinced those who use street prostitutes are being sexually responsible in informing their wives or partners that they stopped off in a back alley for a tryst at lunch time with an IV drug user.  It is not just those who choose to take chances that get hurt.

 

Addicts are all losses in the middle of happening, but not all of those losses have to continue to become permanent casualties.  The true Victory condition is not just stopping people from becoming addicts, it is about reclaiming those who are addicts, and giving them a chance to return to society.

 

Insite is doing that.

Marc Townsend,Insite

Marc Townsend, manager of the Portland Hotel Society, enters Insite, Canada’s only safe injection site for intravenous drug addicts in Vancouver, Tuesday, October 2, 2007. The society along with Vancouver Coastal Health Authority operates the site which was given a six-month operating extension by the federal government Tuesday. Richard Lam/CP

 

InSite reported 778 non-fatal illicit drug-related overdose events and no deaths for the period

2004-2010.

 

They are saving lives, those who overdose on site are not lost.  No good can come of a corpse, as the ancestors used to say.

 

A retrospective population based study. Published in the Lancet, April 2011. This study found that fatal overdoses within 500 metres of Insite decreased by 35% after the facility opened compared to a decrease of 9% in the rest of Vancouver.

 

(http://supervisedinjection.vch.ca/research/research )

 

One third fewer deaths……..that speaks to a strategy that is having real, lasting effect.

Insite Injection interior

 

Alcohol was the primary substance involved in non-fatal overdose events among high

risk populations surveyed in Victoria and Vancouver.

  • Multiple substances were involved in 50-60% of overdose events among these populations.
  • At InSite, 589 (76%) of overdoses reported involved heroin and, of these, 224 (29%)

involved naloxone administration, an opiate antagonists.

 

(http://www.uvic.ca/research/centres/carbc/assets/docs/bulletin8-overdose-events-in-bc.pdf )

 

As the research shows, even were we to rid ourselves of every imported drug, those at risk of addiction would continue to fall to alcohol or other either legally available drugs, or those that can be grown or harvested locally.  You cannot keep people from “feeding their head” through closing your borders, unless you live on the moon.  You can keep the numbers dying or suffering permanent harm down.

 

What about Victory, what about actually saving lives, as opposed to just moving back the date of the inevitable conclusion of persistent self-harm?  Well, lets look at how the program actually did.

 

 

4,564 referrals to other social and health services

 

488 discharges from Onsite detox (Insite refers clients who wish to their associated detox program Onsite)

Insite counsellors make thousands of referrals to other social and health service agencies, the vast majority of which are for detox and addiction treatment. The calendar year 2012 saw more than 400 admissions from Insite into Onsite, the adjoining detox treatment facility, which recorded a program completion rate of 49%.

 

Just under half.  That is what loss reduction looks like.  That is an acceptable result from any triage situation.  Any first responder understands when the scope of the problem is too vast for the resources you have at hand, you perform triage to save as many of the ones as you can.  There will be losses, as you simply do not have the resources to save them all; but properly applied, the resources you have can save many.

This is Heathen thinking, accept reality for what it is, and do your best with the resources you actually have to save as many as you can.  Victory has never, and will never be without cost, but when we lose sight of the victory conditions; saving our own citizens, we will have lost the war, out of stubborn desire to continue to fight with weapons we are comfortable with, like guns, prison, and court, rather than weapons that can actually win, like Insite safe injection sites.

Police, courts, healthcare are all important parts of the battle, but turning our back on the proven record of Insite for reducting the casualties of this war on drugs is the same things as turning away from victory out of unwillingness to do anything but continue the battle you are comfortable with.

 

We like to use the phrase “War on Drugs” but too many using the phrase think that victory will be achieved by armoured tac-teams kicking in doors, and police force increasingly looking like poorly trained imitation military carrying out war on our streets, largely against our own citizens.  This is what war looks like; civil war in which the only winners are the ravens who grow fat on the corpses of our own folk.  Ask Syria how much fun that is.

War on Drugs

If we are going to treat this as a War on Drugs, then listen to the Victory Father, listen to the Wise Counsellor; Odin is the master of war because he never loses sight of the goal, and never, ever forgets he is striving towards the Victory conditions.  Let others fight because they love to fight, Odin fights for victory, and in this war, victory is the lives of our citizens saved, and as many reclaimed from addiction and returned to our hearths and off our streets.

 

  1. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,

The deaf in battle is bold;

The blind man is better | than one that is burned,

No good can come of a corpse.

 

If they aren’t dead, they are not yet lost.  Let us choose to take up the tools like Insite, that can bring us closer to victory, and save as many as possible.  We, as a society have grown addicted to the tools of violence and coercion as  our weapons of choice.  They are good weapons, but when did they become our only ones?  We may not like the tools necessary to win, but given the choice between familiar tools, or victory, which do you choose?
John T Mainer
 

 

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

Examination of Heathen Marriage

Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia Wedding Ceremony

Heathen Freehold Society of BC

 

There has been a lot of talk in North America these days about traditional marriage, and family values.  That is awesome, but while people have thrown around the words, no one has really defined them, even in popular culture terms.  Since we are Heathens, we do things a little differently, starting with the need to consider just what we mean by traditional marriage and family values.
Our ancestors were not renowned for flights of romantic fancy.  There is a reason for this; the North punishes failure, badly.  To live in a marginal environment where survival requires the collective effort, and where success requires that each person lends their particular skills and strengths to their maximum advantage, there was little drive behind flights of fancy, histrionics, or grand gestures.  Practical was important, in fact, it was critical.

 

Folk flows from family, and family flows from marriage.  Heathen ritual is a very interesting thing, in that its symbolic form is a very pure statement of its function.  The ritual itself serves to break down all the levels of function that are present, and define each of its terms separately to be considered and individually before this most sacred covenant, and most important contract, becomes binding.

 

Marriage is a contract.  There is no contract as complex as a marriage; the partnership agreements that business partners enter into contain many of the same elements, and yet cover only a fraction of what is contained in the marriage itself, without any sentiment or sacral implications at all.  Oddly, the incredible number of promises implicit in marriage, the number of understandings being agreed to, implicitly or explicitly goes almost completely unnoticed by most couples today, and our divorce rates show the consequences of treating marriage as primarily a celebration of love, and not a contract negotiated between two parties about coming together into a union, as our ancestors understood it.  Celebrations of love are awesome, but without honouring the elements of the contract itself, divorce leaves that love in ruins, and the potential of the union in the rubble.

 

The birth control pill broke the tie between sex and procreation.  With adoption of unwanted children being an option long before our technology gave same sex couples the chance to produce their own children, the justification for restricting marriage to heterosexual couples was lost.  Two male, two female, or a male/female pairings had the same choices to have children, or not have children, as their life plans dictated, not as the consequences of their sex lives demanded.  That being said, the reasons for forming a marriage now lie equally across couples of whatever configuration.  For simplicities sake, I am going to refer to the bride and groom, because that was the ancient form, and as a poet I just cannot write something as beautiful as a marriage with “the party of the first part” and the “party of the second part”.  The ceremony works more or less the same, with differences between individual relationships mattering more than genders, so we will work off one model, with the understanding that it will be modified to suit each and every couple involved, however constituted.

 

The ceremony itself is below, my own commentary will occur after the >> marks.

 

 

 

ITEMS

– Groom’s Keys

– Hand-geld (To the Bride’s Family)-gift at wedding

– Brides-gift (To the groom’s family)-gift at wedding

– Morning-gift (To the Bride)-gift morning after first night as man and wife

– New Sword-given by the bride as the symbol of his duty to the hearth they will share

– Ancestral Sword-symbol of grooms duty to his ancestral hearth

-keys (actual, or big black iron symbolic)

-cord-made by couple with symbols of important events of their lives, or virtues they feel important to their union.

 

Wedding Feast

– A “Loving Cup”, a bowl or kasa (Old Norse {ON}) with handles, but a horn will also serve

– A cake of some form

-Hammer

———

Wedding Day (Or at engagement if this is done in multiple days)

 

– The Groom, with a party of distinguished friends, approaches the Bride and her family.

 

GROOM: – The Groom asks for the Bride’s hand in marriage, flattering her family, boasting of his worthiness and his gifts, and negotiating the Hand-geld and the Morning-Gift.

 

BRIDE: – The Bride and her Family express their satisfaction.

 

GROOM:

“I declare before witnesses that __(Bride’s Name)__ will bond with me in holy betrothal;

And that your pledge is to marry me in exchange for the hand geld and morning geld I have promised.

And that you will engage me to fulfil and observe the whole of the oath between us which has been said in the hearing of witnesses without wiles or cunning as a true and honest oath.”

 

BRIDE & GROOM: – Shake hands, and go with their respective parties which should not see each other again until meeting at the wedding enclosure.

 

>>Why do we do this?  Are we buying the bride?  No.  This is about establishing the worth of the individuals to each other.  For ancient couples, often times the marriage would be arraigned between senior family members with little or no consultation.  This is not the recipe for a long and frithful marriage, so the groom does not show up and announce, “well I guess we’re stuck with each other”.

No-this is the groundwork for making a couple.  The groom arrives with his close kinsmen and friends to be flyted by the brides kin.  His friends will boast of his worth, and hers will challenge it.  Let any questions of character or worth be settled before considering marriage.  This is about showing the bride what she will be getting in the marriage; who is this that seeks her hand and why does he think himself worthy of it?

In modern times, this is an absolute blast.  I have seen a groom’s female friend literally treat him like a stud bull at auction, testing his muscles, showing his teeth, the excellence of his hair, and making him demonstrate his ability to perform automotive or household repairs.  Other times I have seen it be serious, where friends have laid out the kind of trust they hold for him, and the kind of partner she will be getting.

The Hand Geld: now I never understood dowry, but hand geld I understand.  You come to seek the hand of your bride, you deem her to be the partner with whom you will build your life, to whom you will entrust your name, your heirs, and all that you may have or hold in this life.  You have found THE ONE.  How do you show this person what they mean to you?  Talk is cheap, but the amount of work that is represented in a gift of great cost, and great beauty shows that not only your hard work and labour went into the giving, but great thought and consideration.  This shows the commitment of the groom to honour the bride whose hand he seeks, and promises that he holds her favours highly.  This matters.  The reciprocal gifting relationship is important, so is the reciprocal respect.  This foundation is important, so put some thought into it.

Hand Geld is to secure the acceptance of the marriage, but the morning geld, the morning gift, this is different.  While the wedding itself is public, the consummation (outside of some areas of California) usually isn’t.  The morning geld is a gift from groom to bride after their first night together as man and wife, it is personal and will set the tone for their relationship in those private moments.   When duty is done, when it is just the two of them and such love and care as they have forged together, the little joys they give each other will renew and restore them.  This is nobody’s business but their own, and  likewise, no one but the couple can make sure they get this right.

 

Main Wedding:

 

– The Groom is prepared by his groomsmen and family members.

 

– The Bride is prepared by her hand-maidens and family members.

 

– They separately proceed to ship, where they will join the wedding party. The Bride is preceeded by a kinsman who carries the GIFT-SWORD. The Groom carries the ANCESTRAL-SWORD.

 

>>Hold your horses, what is with all the weaponry?  Ah yes.  At this point I should point out that the wedding feast is actually derived from funeral customs.  You can make all the jokes you want about the link between weddings and funerals, but our ancestors got this right rather more often than we do now, so perhaps we should hearken to their rede in such matters. 

At this time, a mother loses a son, for the duty that he bore to her ends this day.  At this day a father loses a daughter, for the name that he gave her to bear at her birth she will give up, even as she takes on the name and obligations to its worth of her husband.  There are ties being forged, and great gains being made and celebrated, but in order to bind to each other, each must surrender existing ties to enter into new ones. 

The groom bears the ancestral sword.  When he became a man, the men of his house would have girded him with that sword, admitting him to the commonwealth of the tribe, and to the family as a man.  His passage from boyhood dependency, to independent manhood came with the giving of that blade.  With this sword he defended the hearth and name of his mother.  This sword is the groom’s commitment to the family of his birth, and he will put it aside today.

 

The bride’s family bears the new sword.  When she rose this morning, a daughter of her mother’s hearth, she will go to bed this night mistress of a new hearth.  She will accept from her husband not only his name, but the sword of his ancestors.  She will take his name, and his duty to his house, and hold it until such time as she may pass it to his heirs.  It is hers now to see his duty to that name is done.  She grants to him the new sword, with which he will undertake to defend her hearth and name from this day forward, as she deems necessary.

 

We are modern people and don’t need to do all that!

 

Not so fast.  We don’t generally do a lot of carving each other up with swords anymore, this is true.  We don’t even always take the spouses name anymore.  However, the symbolic form of the ritual shows us something we need to pay attention to.  The act of marriage is a commitment from both parties that while they honour and respect their commitments to their families, and accept the duties to each others families that their marriage entails, they also publically undertake to ALWAYS PUT THE HEARTH THEY FORM TOGETHER THIS DAY FIRST.

Was I shouting with that last bit?  Its important.  Go back and read it again, it’s is that important.

 

GODHI: By fire I mark this sacred space, I name it Frithstead, let all who gather herein be peace holy. Mighty Thor, defender of the folk make sacred this space and protect all who gather herein. Odin Allfather, let all vows made herein be heard by the gods and our sacred ancestors. Mother Frigga, great Disir, guardian of our lines, let those who would join their lines together in this place know your blessing. Great Norns, weavers of fate, let those who entwine their lives, and join these two great houses know only joy and good fortune so long as they cleave together.

 

GODHI: We gather before the folk, in the sight of the gods and our sacred ancestors not to forge a bond, but to make holy a bond that has already been formed. I bring before you (Groom) and (Bride) who are bound together by love, who ask to be bound together in marriage. Marriage is forged not only of love but of Troth.

 

>>We do love.  We really do love.  We do love so well that we separate the oath of love from the duty to the greater families (shown with the sword exchange), and the oath to do the work of the marriage (which follows).  This oath is simple, stark, and the whole reason for being here.  Do you love each other?  Do you love each other enough for that love to be reason enough to struggle through whatever may come?

 

(Groom) Do you love this woman before all others, with your whole heart, and without reservation?

 

GROOM: I DO

 

GODHI: Then give to her family the Hand-Geld, a gift in return for the great treasure you seek from them.

 

The Groom then gives the Hand Geld to the bridal party who show it to the crowd, and pronounce it worthy of their daughter.

 

GODHI:(Bride) Do you love this man before all others, with your whole heart and without reservations?

 

BRIDE: I DO

 

GODHI: Then give to them the Bride Geld, a gift in return for the strong defender you seek to win from them.

 

The Bride offers the gift to the Groom’s party, and they acknowledge it worthy of the son of their house.

 

GODHI: Before the folk and sacred ancestors, in the sight of the gods, for all time I pronounce these two houses to be joined by the loving union of these two. Let the groom now set aside the ancestral sword, and with it his duties to the hearth of his mother.

 

GROOM: I give to you my ancestral sword, from this day forth, it is your hearth and honour I defend.

 

BRIDE: I will hold your ancestral sword for our strong heirs to take up, and I give to you the new sword with which I charge you to defend our hearth, home and sacred honour.

 

Bride and party now gird the new sword onto the Groom, he is now her defender.

Ken and Mary Joy Wedding

GROOM: As your honour is mine to defend, so are my house, chattels and goods yours to hold. Receive now my keys, for all that I own or will possess is yours to hold, as it is mine to defend.

 

Grooms party ties the keys to her waist.

 

>>Bride and groom are joined in love, both families are joined by the union of the two in love.  This something beautiful, precious, and fragile.  It is not enough to bring a thing of beauty into existence, for this world has a hard way with beauty that is not defended, and life that is not nurtured.  What came before was easy, what came before was about want.  Want is enough to get you here, but it is not enough to get you through what is to come.  No couple gets married with the intent to divorce, but it is almost the default end state in our lands today.  Work is hard, but work is what will make a partnership successful.  Our ancestors were practical and romantic.  It is romantic to see love blossom and grow, it is depressing to see it die of neglect.  Practically, it behooves us to make sure the work gets done that the relationship we celebrate today becomes a source of joy and strength for generations to come, not simply another momentary fancy, discarded when it was no longer fun.

 

GODHI: Now you are joined by love, but love alone is not enough. I speak now of Troth, of the bonds of duty and obligation. Before this day you were two, you faced the challenges of your lives alone, and grew strong and worthy in the doing. That was good, but tomorrow, it will not be enough. You have chosen to enter into marriage, to join yourself and mingle your bloodlines for all time through the gift of children. In this task you have given up all right to fail or falter. In the challenges that will come, you will grow stronger when you face them together, and bring some of your partner’s strength with you even when you stand alone. Before the gods and these good folk, I ask, will you plight to each other your troth, your pledge to face whatever comes side by side, that each challenge faced, each hardship overcome leave you both stronger and closer than before?

 

BRIDE AND GROOM: WE DO!

Two Wedding Rings

 

GODHI: From our most ancient times, the symbol of oath-taking was the ring. Perfect in form, the circle is without end, as is the strength of the oaths taken here today. (Groom) place the ring that symbolizes your oath upon your brides finger and repeat after me:

 

I (Groom) [repeat] do plight my troth [repeat] and give my oath [repeat] to face all challenges together [repeat] with honesty and courage [repeat] until death separates us [repeat].

 

GODHI: (Bride) place the ring that symbolize your oath upon your groom’s finger and repeat after me:

 

I (Bride) [repeat] do plight my troth [repeat] and give my oath [repeat] to face all challenges together [repeat] with honesty and courage [repeat] until death separates us [repeat].

 

GODHI: It is not in the power of a priest to make a marriage, it is only for a priest to stand before the folk and acknowledge what has been woven by the Norns, and forged by the love and troth of these two. As I take this cord that you have fashioned from the fabric of your separate lives, so do I show the sacred ancestors, the assembled wights and these good folk what the gods already know, you are now bound together as husband and wife.

 

>>Best symbol of being bound together is…..being bound together.  Who knew?  The oath rings worn stand as testimony for all time of the oaths sworn, and they will have exactly as much magic in them, as the couple puts work into the marriage.  That makes the best of them potent indeed.

 

Godhi joins their hands with the cord to symbolise their union and raises their bound hands before the folk.

 

Handfasted

GODHI: (Groom) you may kiss your bride.

 

The couple then opens the wedding feast by raising the loving cup, the cup from which each will serve the other, and then the cake with which each will feed the other.

>>It is hard to do this, much laughter frequently results.  You are each others sustenance, each others joy.  This is new, and you will have to find new ways of doing things, but it is deeply rewarding.  Bound together in joy, we can do the binding, but the joy you must bring to each other.

Loving Cup

At the wedding feast, the hammer is laid in the brides lap as blessing of fertility and pledge of fidelity.

 

>>The Heathen marriage ceremony recognizes a marriage for what it is, and seperates each level of function so that it can be considered, understood, and accepted, before a marriage is complete.

Marriage is a contract entered into by two people who wish to come together in love to make a family.  Each comes from a family, but they agree to put the family they make together first.  Each understands that in joining to each other, they join not just themselves, but their whole families back to the most distant ancestors, and forward in time to the last of their descendents yet unborn.

Marriage is a contract in which two people who are free thinking individuals with wants, needs, desires, and the capacity to change make a solemn oath to come together and jointly strive to face what comes together.  It is an act of will, as much as an act of love.  Each marriage is different, as each couple is different, but the act of union creates a new thing, a new hearth, a new family just the same, whenever it is performed.

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