Aesir, Asatru, Current events, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Husk or Horn

 

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
Booming laughter
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

Drink Mead

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.

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

Envy you your Devil

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

Thor-Vikings-Odin-Loki-panels-1566510-1920x1080

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Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Australian Fire MapAustralia eldsaga

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.

How to donate to assist

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized, Yule

Welcome in Another Year

Welcome in Another Year

The sun has turned, the solstice passes and we stand with the heart of the dark about our shoulders and the wan light of dawn caressing us with quiet promises of warmer tomorrow, a spring full of life, a summer of warmth the call of life, where the heart of the dark is filled with the chains of the past, the voices of the dead, and the cold certainty of costs for what we survived.

This is a valuable time.  There is time to gather together and wassail hard in the heart of the dark, to stand in the teeth of privation and loss, the dead hard upon the ground, the loss of jobs, the terrible cost of just surviving bitter upon your tongue, turn your eyes to the fire and charge your glass and howl your defiance at the abyss of darkness not with a snarl but a laugh.  Reach out to those who have less than you, for nothing like your own privation teaches you the value of half a loaf and half filled cup, the little you have shared is a greater gift than scraps from some fat lords table.  Given in solidarity, not superiority, in hopes brighter days attend giver and receiver, not given to make clear who is master and who beggar at the feast.

There is work to be done as well, work to be done in deciding what we will carry with us into the new year.  All those you have lost hang about you, ragged ropes of unresolved grief will neither let them rest nor let you remember.  All those boasts you made, tasks you undertook, battles you took up, promises you made, obligations you undertook hang about your person, unseen, unexamined, and undischarged.

Take this time to sit in the dark, let the fire blaze bright, be it candle or hearth, and take up a warming drink, be it coffee or whiskey, whose heat, bite, bitterness and comfort will give form to what we do now, will give focus to what we give our heart and mind to, and will make possible the dropping of the barriers, the fear, the shame, that kept us from dealing with what must be dealt with until now.

The Yuletide is upon us, the dead and living are separated by a veil thinner than a whisper, what was, what is, what will be tremble and twist about each other separated by less than a whim, less than a thought, not even a word.  This is a time of flux, a time of power, a time of loss; but loss of what is for us to take up.

If we dare.

Those we have lost, we cling to them like a miser to gold pledged in payment.  We refuse to let go from us those who have passed on, not because we do not acknowledge their death, but because we refuse to let go the place the held in our life.  This is cowardice, and costly.  The living are lost.  To cling to them is to cling to the rotting flesh and seared bone fragments of the corpse.  It is sick, self destructive and selfish.  Raise your glass to them that passed and wish them well on their way.  Hel has received them, they are in the mound with their ancestors, safe from all want and hurt, it is only our cowardice that binds them to the moments or months of their death.  Remember their dying forever, or let them pass and remember them as honoured dead; remember the gifts they gave you in life, keep bright their memory and reclaim what you shared in life, untainted by the trauma and rage of death and loss.

We have failed.  Oaths spoken not redeemed, challenges taken up that we fell short on, tasks that defined us, that we took pride in and built worth through were lost or taken from us.  Gifts we have given brought not joy but hurt, praise given was taken as mockery, and aid offered was wound not weal as intended.  The tattered strands of wyrd from each of these broken threads bind and tangle us, fouling all work we undertake and bringing ill luck to all bright weavings we attempt.

Now is the time we sit by the fire, in the cloaking darkness, and strip ourselves naked as we dare not do at any other time and place.  Naked not of cloth, but of justification, denial and defense.  We take each thread, like so many thorn girt vines, and unwind them from us.  We let the wounds in our skin weep bitter blood of loss as we weigh each failure, own it, look without defense as we accept the shame of it, the fear it instills in us, we own it, accept it, seek to learn from it.  Raise your glass and offer to it, then cast it to the fire to burn.  Choose not to carry it forward, but to cast it into the fire you must first accept every single thorn, each element of the failure, of intent, of effect intended or unintended, of effort, or result.  If we do not own each thorn of the whole bitter strand from spindle to shank, we will never be free of it, and it will foul all that we try to weave this year.

We are not what we were.  I am old, so I tend to measure my year in loss of what I once could do, once could contribute and can no more.  This too is foolishness, and weakness. Clinging to the self I chose to remember and ignoring the self I have won.  I am not what I was, and if I strive with the tools I once had in the struggles I once owned all I can do is fall short.  I am not what I was, and attempting to be can only make me a failure.  I have new tools, and honestly where old thorns and blades would find vulnerable flesh there is only iron hard hide and cold white bone.  That which once could bind and bleed me will mark me no more, and the tools I have now in the tasks I take up with them promise me challenges as fierce as ever I knew, and ones that suit the tools that come now to my hand.

Those who are young, you too are not what you were.  You have long measured yourself against your betters, ever and always measuring yourself now against them at their peak. Your peak is yet to come, and its limits are not yet known. Let go the limits that you accepted last year.  You may feel yourself far less, as defeat strips away your youthful optimism, but what you didn’t notice gaining was an understanding of what your true potential may yet be.  Old tools applied in new ways have left you able to face things you long accepted were beyond you, new challenges faced in the year past have caused you to learn new skills, even if that skill is only the ability to endure what you never had to before.  Let go who you were, or you will fall short of the victories that could be yours, the growth that should be yours, and the worth that has been won by the deeds you have not yet learned to value.

Weep for those you have lost, weep for your failures.  Laugh at your foolishness, smile at the bright memories you find tangled in the loss, recognize what the hardships and loss have left you in gains, for nothing wyrd weaves us is without both wound and weal, both cost and learning.

We paid for what we survived this year past.  Time to let go what the old year held, and give ourselves fully to the year ahead.  The harvest is in, the counting has been done, and before the ground can be broken and sewn again, you must let go the last.

Drink your cup to the dregs, let the bitter lees remind you of the cost of the year, and the warmth of drink fill those hollow places the losses left in us.  Fill them with acceptance of what was, and determination to do better, weave brighter, or at least not make the same mistakes again.  Stare into the fire, and let it burn every dark strand of loss, look past the flame into the mirror of the darkness at your loss, your humiliation, shame and failures, then raise your chin, raise your eyes and nod.  I have seen you, I acknowledge you, I claim you as my own, but I deny you any hold on me.  What you deny will rule you, what you claim you command.  Face the coming new years dawning unfettered and fearless.

“Hail, day! | Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here | with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win.

“Hail to the gods! | Ye goddesses, hail,
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom | and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.” –Sigrdrifumol 2-3

Althing

 

 

 

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Soul, salmon, and inheritance

Leaping Salmon 2

Bear with me, this will take a while to get to the point, but the background is important.  We have all seen the people in our communities that just fit.  The ones who you know were born to be here.  Heathenry comes as naturally to them as a salmon takes to the stream.  You see a salmon hurling itself upstream through the rapids beside you and know that only salmon are with you on this journey.  No pampered koi, no silent sturgeon; just those born to dare the white water and stone teeth of the rapids for the Return Home.  Funny thing is, not all of those salmon look the same.  Not everything that looks like a salmon shows any interest in those rapids at all, and not everyone beside you in the torrent looks salmonish to the outside eye.

I shrugged and ignored the question a lot of years, following a soldiers stark utilitarianism.  If it works you use it, if it fails, the theory is irrelevant, it doesn’t work so toss it.  The inner scientist in me looked at those provable things and waited for another data point to come up with a new theory that worked.  Then I started my clergy training, and progressed along my magical path far enough to apply other senses and collect enough other data to get a different understanding.

Heathen understanding of the soul is complex.  We don’t see it as one thing, nor do we understand it as being one thing before our birth or after our death.  What makes us, the whole and living being that we experience is complex, formed of these disparate elements that come together and are shaped by our life experiences, by our will, by our word and deed, by our trials, by our loves, losses, and choices.  Those parts have been broken down as follows.

1. The physical body – appearance, movement and health

  1. the hugr – conscious will and intellect
  2. the hamr – image forming essence, matrix between physical and

spiritual worlds

  1. the hamingja – shape-changing force, luck, power
  2. the fylgja – spirit guardian as female or animal figure

 

We don’t conduct baby naming ceremonies until the ninth day, when the fylgja is seen to have bonded with the baby.  At this point, the baby is bound to the web of wyrd or fate, and the orlog the inherited part of your wyrd attaches to the baby, linking it to all those who have gone before, and who will come after.

It is this part of the soul that carries the inherited portion of our soul lore, the bit that we get from our ancestors in spirit.  Here is the bit that makes me intrigued.  The lore is full of examples where mound sitters have received inherited gifts from spirits they had no genetic link to, but gave full ancestral devotion to.  These gifts, in one case the skaldship that propelled a shepherd (Thorbjorn Hornklofr ) from obscurity to the position of court skald of Harald Shaggy Hair are clearly an inheritance carried by soul part rather than genetic coding.

This fits with the understanding of family and community that our ancestors practiced, where you could be born in, married in, oathed in, adopted, or simply absorbed by being beside you through the struggles of the day until your fate was inexorably linked with those around you and you simply crossed the line and became us in every way anyone could see, however far from that hearth you may have been born.  Family and community were untidy and tangled, real things, not pure constructs.  They were.  People who ought to be part of them turned their backs and left, people who were from far away, and even from the wrong side of long standing battle lines found acceptance and home with the fierce devotion of one who does not simply accept their place unthinking, but dared to shape their fate by conscious choice.

Burial mounds show the truth, genetic variation hard to equal even in today’s world of easy and relatively safe long distance travel, yet burial goods and manner indicate no differentiation between those whose genetics matches the bulk of the tribal identity, and those whose origins were clearly different tribally or even racially.  Us and them are always real to those who are drawing the lines, but the lines then were not based on phenotypical race, but on identity.

Carry forward to today.  We have the folkish vs inclusive rift in Heathenry that honestly everyone has grown sick of.  It really was an attempt from the beginning to dress racism up in pretty clothes and make it more acceptable than the KKK white hoods and burning crosses.  It carried with it misogyny and gender roles right out of the most conservative Evangelical Christian wet dream, and resembled Nazi family propaganda in a degree that would have made Gobels think they won the war.  To say it was homophobic, transphobic is really not doing justice to the degree that folkish Heathenry really found there to be only one right way to be a male or female Heathen.  You had to be pure of blood, you had to be one hundred percent cis-normative in your expression of your gender or you were just wrong.

So folkish was cast into the midden where it belonged, largely because too many of the folkish who weren’t racist misogynist homophobes were just unwilling to stand against the ones that were, so collectively we decided the folkish had failed the test of Havamal 43, and made friendship with our foes.

 

  1. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,

To him and the friend of his friend;

But never a man | shall friendship make

With one of his foeman’s friends.

 

We did our surgery to protect our community, but we missed something.  We let those racist twits taint the idea of folk and inheritance to the point we stared to look at Othala like the Swastika with an almost unthinking rejection.

We missed something.  I am not saying I have it right, but I have at least the edges of something.  We have that fylgja soul part, that inherited portion of the soul that binds after birth.  When you have been at this a while, you get the sense of those who take to Heathenry like the salmon take to the stream, they fit instinctively, they ask the dangerous questions, make the connections between the different elements, ritual, lore, community building, feast, hospitality, and personal development as if they already had the concepts they just didn’t have the dictionary for it.  We have the corollary as well, those who have a bloodline that may well stretch back to the Volsungs with the depressing vision limitations that seek to take the conservative Christianity they were raised with, and switch Odin for Jehova, Thor for Jesus, Frigg for Mary and carry on as if Heimdall wrote the gospels in Latin.

Sorry to the hard Folkish, but blood doesn’t make you naturally heathen.  A huge portion of the original tribes that were Heathen at the time of migration into the European continent are Christian right now, and many follow other faiths entirely or none at all.  A portion of those who are interested in the CULTURE of their ancestors and are proud of those traditions feel no call at all to the ancestral practice.  It is music they can’t dance too, for it moves them not at all.

What about all those fylgja from all those family lines who took the cross and cut all ties so long ago they actively deny they were ever anything else?  What if those fylgja found those whose soul parts were fit heirs to those who had gone before?  Whose hugr, whose will and intellect were a match to those who had joined with the fylgja in the past, whose hamingja called to them, whose Mod could learn and apply the wisdom of the older parts of the soul and whose Hugi could tap the wode, the ecstatic frenzy of creation and destruction that is the highest of our gods gifts.

I really do think some people were born to be part of the community.  I think it is no accident they found us, not a surprise that we WELCOMED THEM HOME, because we, as communities are wiser than as individuals and we do, on some level know our own.  Not all of those who stand in our halls match others’ expectations of who should be here.  If Hollywood were to ever cast our leadership in a movie, I seriously doubt any I have served beside would make the cut, but that is because Hollywood sells clean fantasy, not untidy reality.

Inclusive Heathenry is just that, we don’t let other peoples labels decide who fits and who doesn’t.  We got that right.  Not everyone in the community will stay forever, because we are largely a group of people that exist in an over-culture that rewards conforming to the Christian perceived norm, and to be Heathen is to accept being a salmon that is committed every day to swimming upstream, and not everyone has the drive to find this sustainable, or finds the journey rewarding consummate to the price.

Some of those salmon swimming beside us look African, look Native, look Asian, look Jewish, look Polynesian.  All different expressions of everything from gender to sexuality, from politics to diet, ten thousand differences separate us.  Maybe, but when you hit the water, you feel the salmon moving around you, you know through those senses developed that don’t rely or even notice flesh, you identify who is and who is not yours, who is of the tribe, of the kindred, of the folk, however you want to define them, and when you leap over the next rock in the rapids you take note that those you felt were yours are beside you, and if not all of them look like other people expect, they are following the call only salmon can hear, throwing themselves into the maelstrom with nothing held back seeking to Return.  They are salmon in every sense you are, they are part of the us, where all those salmony looking fish that are sitting in the lake singing psalms are not.

That part of the soul that remembers, that is seeking to return us to a better way of living with each other, a better way of living with the world, with connecting to our dead, and those yet to be born, to live more mindfully, that is what makes us Heathen.  That is found where it is found, and how it got there is something the gods aren’t sharing, and far enough above my pay grade to simply accept that it is.

We are each unique individuals.  Part of what we are is inherited, part of what we are is chance, part of what we are is experience, and part of what we are is choice.  All of what we are is ours alone, and when we die, this unique configuration, this glorious and fragile thing will be gone forever, but our words, our deeds, our choices will be untouched by the death that takes us.  We are made of so many parts, both body and soul, that there are doubtless many paths we could follow, many streams we could have chosen, but those who swim beside us today, fighting the current beside us, they are simply us.  If others don’t think all of us look equally salmony, I am reassured to note that bears are true egalitarians and are perfectly willing to take each of us as pure salmon as Loki at his slipperiest, and eat us accordingly.

The world is full of bears, the river is swift, the rocks cruel, and there are few enough salmon on the journey, treat well those beside you, learn from them as you can, share with them as you will, and perhaps more of us can return home to our gods and ancestors with the truth that we have begun rebuilding our communities.

bear and salmon

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Huginnseye

 

Silence is shattered
The raven reaves
Huginn’s beak sword side
skull-fruit did reap.

Blindness blessing
He leaves me not
For blue fire dances
Like Aurora on the ice
No memory does he bring
Just the pain beyond pain
Shadowed wings hie
To the tree
The hanging tree
The noose draws tight
Skull eye raped
Neck groan the gallows grip

For the runes I won
I reach with fumbling hands
And failing sight

Elhwaz slips from me
Strength fumbled from failing hand
Algiz bites my reaching hand
Wisdom failing
I howl my rage
Thunder shakes the heavens
The tree lashes
I scream defiance
Lightning lights the raven
Eye gulper
Wide beak laughing

Lighning flare
Ansuz burns
Inspiration offered
I hurl my rage
Rune-writer’s will
Feed the flame
Scar the tree
Nauthiz mars Ansuz

Needfire burns me
Inspiration rejected
Rage becomes the battle-bliss
Wunjo blossoms
Rage joy
Pain and pleasure drunk
The raven laughs
My laughter booms
The thunder quieter

Huginnseye flaming
Sight broken
Tree bound
Nauthiz to win power
Wunjo for the struggle
Ansuz the madness
The vision no eye can see
Wisdom no sane may hold

When cut my thread
Fear my coming
For I am too much
His creature

—–For those who are the Tree-Hanger’s own, those days the chronic pain o’er tops the controls we set upon it, usually when one pushes the flesh past the limits that will can ignore the costs, you get to discover where your current 10/10 resides on the pain scale.  Oddly enough, you can find Him there.  Stupidity has a god, and his laughter helps me find enough anger to survive paying the price of my own idiocy, again.

Raven Eye

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Anything but Valhalla

It was my fault, if you want to be picky about it.  I blame the freaking Nazi’s, but it was my choice in the end.  Two limp dick losers were upset they couldn’t get a date because they were just that much of an ass that no woman was deluded, desperate or drunk enough to find them attractive, even in their most post breakup bad decision phase.  You have to work hard to be so repulsive to the opposite sex that you can’t get laid in a brothel with a thousand dollar bill wrapped around your Johnson, but these two were just that bad.  They called themselves Incels, involuntary celibates, which is the technical term for can’t get laid with a thousand dollar bill wrapped around your dick in the worst red light district known to man.  They added to their idiocy by embracing the white power movement and Neo-nazism that convinced them that university liberals were training women to hate men (even if the same universities were filled with women dating men, logic was not their strong suit).

Rather than not treat women like undomesticated farm animals, or do something radical like bathe once in a while, these two limp dick losers decided to take their anger and a half dozen guns each and go shoot up a university girls dorm.

They picked a “smart day”, meaning one where the girls were moving in for the second semester, so some men were moving around the tower, usually carrying something heavy from parking lot to room.  They didn’t really have a plan, beyond shooting every woman they saw, and hadn’t really worked out what to do when the girls locked the damned doors when the shooting started.  Not just Incels  and Nazi’s, but idiots.  I was helping my daughter move in, and like any infantry worthy of the name, moved to the sound of the guns.  I was retired, having given up playing hero for a living when my knees ran out of cartilage and the list of joints with arthritis included everything from neck to ankle, but my daughter was in this building along with a lot of girls just like her, and no way in hell those guns were getting any nearer without my doing anything about it.

In the end, it was too simple.  They were trying to shoot there way into a room, but hadn’t figured out yet that bullets are like pool balls, they bounce beyond your initial aim point, and concrete hallways can return those rounds to sender with a heck of a spin on them.  One of them was screaming and cupping a tiny little wound on his outer leg.  Honestly, it was barely a scratch, but he was whining like it was the end of the world.  I began to sprint down the hall at them, saying nothing.

They both looked up as I pounded towards them, and the big one who was unhurt began to fire in my general direction.  I felt something hit my back, probably caught a ricochet, but I haven’t got time to worry about that.  I take a second to the head and my vision goes red, my world goes silent and I lose my sense of up and down.  It didn’t matter.  I hit the one who was crying about his little nick, and I fall with the rifle between us.

We hit the ground, him on the bottom.  I smash the rifle against what I think is his head again and again until the wet feeling under my hands and the resistance on the rifle stop.  I turn towards the blur in the hallway, and punch out three shots along what I think is the intersection of the blur and the ground.  At least one takes him in the ankle because he goes down.  I walk the rest of the magazine along the blur above the ground.  I can’t see him well enough to figure out when end of the blur is important, so I walk nine rounds up from end to end, and the bolt locks open.  I can’t breathe any more, and things are getting so dark and cold.  I press the rifle into the hollow between what used to be the head of the idiot I landed on, and his chest.  I think I already pulped his skill, but just to be sure, I push my weight onto the rifle and into the soft bits of the throat until I feel the cartilage crush under me.  If he was alive, he won’t be for long.  I let the darkness take me.

Well, at least I will see my family in Hel.  I will see those who passed before me and await the day long hence when my wife and children pass on to join me.

You would think that would be a safe bet.  I thought so.  I lost.

I had the strangest impression as I faded out.  I swore I saw my old basic training Mcpl riding a great warhorse, a dappled grey on grey, like gunsmoke in fog.  When she got closer, I noticed she was not actually Master Corporal Koskinnen, but as much as I always thought she looked like a Valkyrie, it turns out I found Valkyries looked a lot like her too.

As I started to fade out, I croaked “Not Valhalla!”  I didn’t want to spend an eternity preparing for war, an eternity of blood and slaughter, endless pointless drill and battle, killing each other every day, rising from the dead to drink and revel all the night.  Good gods, It would be like being back in the infantry doing a workup that lasted until Ragnarok with no leave, no pay, and no freaking rest.

She leaned down from the horse (how the hell do you get a horse that is about seventeen hands high into the second story hallway of a university dorm tower?) and grabbed me, pulling me up, in what my hallucinating mind saw as out of my body.  As she did, she whispered to me.

“Not Valhalla, I promise” She said as my light went out for good.

Valkyrie horse

I awoke with a start, there was a strange feeling in my body, I couldn’t put a name to it, but something in my brain told me it was wrong.  Something in my lower regions told me to stop thinking and pay attention, because it was certainly standing at it.

Three things attempted to get my attention more or less at once.  First, I was somewhat less dead than I really ought to have been.  Second, I was naked, which was obvious as certain parts of me had decided saluting the third thing in the room was what we should be doing, and proceeded to do just that without the use of my hands.  The third thing I noticed was Her.

Falcon cloaked, as in her cloak was made of falcon feathers.  I don’t mean sewed of Falcon feathers, I mean it rustled like the wings of a Peregrine Falcon, if one topped out about six foot three with long blonde hair, blue eyes that blazed like lightning on bared steel and a frontal armament that let you know that this was the template that all mortal breasts attempted to match but never could.  Between them nestled a necklace of amber and gold that shone with light from a sun that was not actually present inside this large wood hall, but I guess when you are Brisengamen, you can shine with sunlight without such trivial needs as an actual sun.  There was a slight small smile on her lips, terribly expressive lips.  Pale pink and mobile they promised things it wasn’t good to think about, and yet one look at the light burning in her eyes reminded you this was Freya, the woman of every dream, including nightmares of man.

Her voice rang out then.  It wasn’t loud.  Nothing crude like that, but her voice sang in my blood, in my bones, and my heart hammered and my poor frigging cock and balls did their best imitation of living stone.   Her voice filled my mind, vibrated the air in my lungs as my ribs hummed with its echoes and the phrase echoed from a scream to a whisper a thousand times and a thousand ways through a brain suddenly filled with ten thousand images of her and I from her astride me in sexual climax, her tearing the beating heart from my chest and eating it before my eyes.  In each, she shone with golden fire a thousand times brighter and hotter than the sun, and in each I felt my body shuddering and shaking in a climax beyond any I had known in life.

“Do you know where you are?”

Honestly, if that is what I get from a short phrase, gods help me if she ever has to explain something to me.  I don’t trust myself to speak, but her question had the power of a command, and besides, fear has never ruled me, nor good sense or anything resembling wisdom, so I answered.

“Fólkvangr, your grace. Hall of the Einherjar who serve the Van-Dis, Brisengamen’s Mistress, the Lady; Freya”

I lived an idiot, and died and idiot, so there was no reason to switch from what worked at this point.  I rushed on to finish my thought before her beauty drove it out of my head.

“I cannot be here Lady.  I am a married man, and my wife will not understand my being here.  I mean Valhalla I could write off as away on Ex, she put up with that in the Army when I was alive, but she knows the most beautiful women in the Nine Worlds live in your hall, and that those who you gather are yours until Ragnarok.  No way she is going to believe I am not at least thinking about……”

She threw back her head and laughed, arms thrust high above her shoulders and the Valkyries gathered around her laughed as well.  I felt their eyes on me, and my eyes on them and with the mortal flesh and its age and damage given limits removed it seemed every cell of whatever I used for a body here was already presenting its own plan for what I would like to do with whom for all the women in the room, and from the predatory smiles on all their faces, both the Valkyries and Freya read each of them like a book, and marked the pages of the ones they would like to reread in more depth later.

Touching my lips gently to stop my babbling, Freya shook her head and glanced over at one of the Valkyries.

“Sina, before our young recruit says anything else more foolish, see that he is armed and armoured appropriately.  He might do well to focus on something a little less frightening, like two hundred thousand elite berserkers trying to cut him into cat food for my babies”

Freya swayed out of the room with the sort of prowl you would expect of a cat, if they topped out around six foot three, wore cloaks that thought they were wings, and gave off the same light and heat as the mid day sun on an early summer morning.  There were two actual golden cats following her, or cougars, they shifted from one moment to the next as if unconcerned with consistency.

Sina, for that was the Valkryie who brought me, took me to the armoury.  I could choose from any weapon ever made, and some that perhaps hadn’t been.  In the rack was Hella, my first battle rifle.  Long replaced by a soulless 5.56mm for modern service, my first love had been my FNCIA1, a 7.62x51mm semi automatic wood and steel weapon already a generation old when it came to my hands.  I lifted it down, and saw the serial number was my own.  I felt a sudden weight settle over me, as my old webbing suddenly draped me.  I checked my pouches, my magazines were empty so I set about filling them with ammunition from the stripper clips in the box on the table before me.  I strapped a longsword through the back of the webbing, as there was an oversized frog on left hip and right shoulder top for a right side top draw, and something told me that battle here would frequently end in quarters too close for my rifle.

I turned to Sina and told her firmly, my mind and body anchored by the weapon of my long service into the hard channels of duty that ruled me my entire life.

“Sina, I am serious, I cannot be in this hall.  I am married.  My wife won’t understand.  I have to go”  I spoke with great seriousness, and she regarded me with the calm of an RSM who has heard every version of every complaint, fear, objection and request that any troop could possibly come up with often enough to not be able to fake surprise at any of it.  She just nodded.

“You could always just let yourself get killed.”  She offered.

Not the stupidest bit of advice when you thought of it.  Getting killed got me here.  Maybe getting killed gets me out of it?

I nodded, she took down a Heckler & Koch MG5 light machine gun with box drum of ammunition as if the whole assembly weighed less than my rifle, strapped a second and third drum to each hip and grinned something that a shark would be terrified to see in the mirror and threw back the bolts to the great gate.

We made our way into nightmare.  If every war ever fought intersected into a mad maze where you could step out of Gordon’s Khartom facing Arab camel cavalry, to find yourself taking fire from a Panzer IV 75mm gun, roll into a trench to find yourself nose to shield with a Roman legionnaire at close quarters.  I took fire from a line of Arquibisers I swore were under Gustavus Adolfus himself,  fought house to house in a Belgian stone village of uncertain vintage under constant 7mm fire and occasional grenades.

In the end, I caught some nerve gas from some Frog 7 rockets of Soviet manufacture.  I saw Sina go down, starting to twitch as the droplets hit her.  I grabbed the autoinjector from her helmet and rammed it home, then reached for my own.  I had taken a gladius blow to the helmet before I had been able to clear my own sword and drive the pommel through the open faced helm after my tackle took us both to the ground, trapping his sword beneath his tower shield.  I guess I didn’t notice he had shattered my auto injector, because my own was broken and empty in my hands as the numbness set in.

I died of nerve gas in a corner of a world war three we never got to fight, choking out my life as I grew too paralyzed to breathe, watching a Spad and Fokker biplane duel in the sky above me.  At least I was free of Fólkvangr.

This time I woke up bouncing.  Bouncing up and down as I was being carried over the extremely athletic shoulder of Sina.

“I died!”  I tried to shout, not actually possible while being carried over someone’s shoulder, it came out as a loud sort of grunt.

Sina patted my ass and chuckled.

“Yes, but very well, and very late.  We are all very impressed.  Good first day.  You even saved my life, so I claimed you for first night.”  She offered happily.

“I am married!”  I protested again.  She tossed me casually to a fur draped couch of really excellent carved wood construction.

Striking a pose with hand raised and the other over her heart she intoned very seriously.

“Forsaking all others, until death do us part.  Well, you parted twice, now we party.  You should have known dying won’t get you out of Fólkvangr; after all, its dying for love that got you in”

She had a point.  Getting killed more than twice gets you quite an appetite.  I had begged for anything but Valhalla of the Valkyrie as I lay dying in my daughter’s dorm hallway.  Fólkvangr is not Valhalla.  The gods have a sense of humour, and a hell of a determined set of recruiters.

If my wife does not understand, she can kill me every day for as long as she likes and it still won’t interfere with my duties.  Freya bless me, its all in the benefits package.  I kid you not.

Goddess Freya forest

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