Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Standard-bearer or Snowflake?

Freehold Oath Ring

We have an opportunity at this moment that is given to very few, to be the generation that defines forever what those who come after us will be be judged by.  The United States has now added Heathen (in various forms and permutations) to its list of recognized religions for service folk.  The Canadian Armed Forces already recognizes it.

The headstones of our service folk who fall will no longer bear the cross that was no friend to us in life, nor comfort to us when we have passed, but our own symbols.  That is just and right, but not really as important in our day to day lives and careers as the less esoteric and more practical reality that now Heathen service-folk are being recognized as such by an institution that has yet to develop an institutional understanding of who we are, and what we are.

Those who came before were soldiers who tried their best to live Heathen in an institution that had no understanding or inclination to understand who and what we were.  Soldiers were permitted religion, pretty much as we were permitted underwear, in any of the three standard issue Judeo-Christian sizes, colour designated by service, quantity one (sign your loan card for the symbol designating your choice, or tick Atheist and go commando).

That day is now over, and we can be counted as Heathens.  This is our first chance to make an impression not just as soldiers, sailors, airmen of our particular service, but collectively as Heathen service folk.  You literally never get a second chance to make a first impression.  This is critical.  We have the past generation of service folk and their advocates to thank for this opportunity, and now we have to answer the question of what we are going to do with it.

Are we going to be standard-bearers, or snowflakes?

I am not going to lie to you, it can go both ways, and whichever way you choose, those who come after are going to have to wear either as a badge of honour or a rucksack of shit they will have to pack their whole career.

A little history lesson for some of you younger folk.  I was a soldier when dinosaurs ruled the earth and held every enlisted position above E5 (Sgt and above).  During this time women were integrated into the combat arms.  I served in the Signal Corps, who already had women integrated, and got to see this process happen on the ground as an NCO in that particular culture.

Those first women were given the choice of being banner-carriers or snowflakes.  The choice was not fair.  Those who chose to be banner-carriers would have to be twice as good as male NCO to not only reach the same bar as their fellows, but soar high above it, if they wished their advancement to be seen as earned rather than gifted.  Their standard of conduct must not be acceptable, but exemplary at every turn, or their ranks and appointments would be seen not as worthy of respect, but as garbage the service was forced to swallow and a poison that ate away at the vital strength of the force that stood between our nation and the foe.

Half of you are already getting ready to call bullshit, the other half are either female or not white or straight and shaking their head wondering why anyone still has to be told this shit who has two eyes and at least one functioning brain-cell behind them.  Like I said, I was on the ground when we did this the last time and I really do understand the process, and the culture.

There is a second choice.  You can go snowflake.  If you do, I swear before all the gods, your ancestors will weep that one of theirs has lived to so dishonour the blood they bear.  Those who come after you, however blameless, will wear your choice like a rucksack full of someone else’s shit, and the damage will perhaps never be fully undone.

Going snowflake means ‘standing on your rights’ and requesting special treatment based on the newly recognized Heathen religious designation.  Think long and hard about this choice.

There are a lot more Heathens in military service per capita than there are in civilian life.  We are called to serve our people, to make of our lives an offering in return for the gifts we have received as free citizens in a land kept free by the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before us.  This is how we came to be in the uniform in the first place.  Remember that.

When we make an offering to the gods, we offer our first and best.  When we make an offering to the people, our people, we can and must do the same.  Offer our first and best service.  It is not enough to be a soldier, we must be the very best one we can be.

Right now, we are standing together for the first time as an identifiable group within our respective services.  Right now we are DEFINING what Heathen means to our service.  If we choose to be the banner-carriers of our service, the very best at our respective trades, exemplars of our services, then those Heathens who come after us will wear a label that has come to mean dedicated professional soldier.  If we choose to stand upon our rights and demand special treatment, concessions to our requirements, to have the bar lowered for us at any point, Heathen will come to mean ‘special snowflake’ and every service person who follows you will have to deal with the rolling of the eyes and snickering that follows that soldiers identification as Heathen.

Talk to the women who went through this. If you have any questions about how you should be treating your new status as Heathen within your service, talk to any current service or retired women in the combat arms who made it through the senior NCO ranks.  They understand how it is to soldier on when living under a ‘not fair’ condition is the price paid for making sure those who come after have a fair shake.

I saw a whole lot of women get it right, and make it easier for those who followed after in the Regiment.  I saw what happened in units where people chose to go full snowflake, and the ration of shit that those who followed for decades after is a cost you do not want your own choices to carry.

I can and will continue to advocate to make sure our Heathen service folk receive the same treatment and opportunities for support that their Judeo-Christian fellows receive.  At the same time, listen to an old soldier, for the first time we are being seen by our respective services as a discrete and knowable group.  The opinion of what a Heathen means to your units is being formed in this generation, in this very moment.  The spotlight is on you.

Chose to be banner-men, banner-women.  Chose to be exemplars of the virtues that our faith and our service shares.  Show your service why they should be proud to have the service of Heathens within their ranks, and teach them to treasure what we bring.  Do this, and you will not only earn great personal worth and honour, but you will make it better for every generation that follows you in service who identify as Heathen.

It will not be fair, but to be honest, fair is a civilian term.  Suck it up and soldier.  Let us fight to make sure your rights are protected, we have served and are free to bitch for you.  Don’t just shut up and soldier, shut up and SHINE as a soldier.  Shine so bright that Heathen will be something that your service will come to associate with the standards they desire from their troops.

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Current events, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Dog days of Democracy

Freehold Oath Ring

They call them dog tags, and we who wear them understand the irony of the situation.  Dog tags are worn by the defenders of the state, the soldiers who serve the people, but who take their orders and direction from a group of entitled elites who occupy the houses of the people, and conduct themselves not as the servants of the public, but as the lords on high.

That is fine.  Democracy does not reward the tellers of truth, so the houses of the people are filled with those who seek power by any means necessary.  Some few are crusaders for one cause or another, not all of those crusaders are in any way safe, sane, or helpful to the state, but at least they are not simply for sale as the rest of them are.  The mix of the mercenary, visionary and fanatic float in a sea of institutionalized corruption where it is actually impossible to determine where the legitimate political process and press ends, and criminal behaviour begins.  Oddly enough, some of the worst actions are legal, and some of the illegal ones ought to be praiseworthy.  This is Democracy, it’s a shitty system whose only redeeming feature is it actually sucks slightly less hard then everything else we have tried.

Today in our fair north, our politicians are busy stealing from the dogs, we who bleed to defend the freedom of our people to reward those who screw all of us who risk our lives so that the many can be kept safe by a few their leaders continue to stab in the front, the back, the pocketbook, the home, and family; in between posing at the memorials for our dead and praising the deeds of those they screw with every stroke of the budget pen.

Today in our sunny south, our politicians cheer and pat themselves on the back as they strip health care from tens of millions of their citizens, make it possible to charge the elderly even more than before, defund planned parenthood, while at the same time allowing insurance companies to not cover women for pre-existing conditions ranging from rape to C-sections.  Don’t worry, those who make more than a quarter million dollars per year (after all allowable deductions) will no longer bear the terrible burden of paying a few percent towards the cost of millions of their poorer citizens health care costs, so I guess that is worth cheering for right?  Women, the elderly, the injured, sick, or unemployed should be thankful that the richest among us will no longer be burdened by their needs to stay alive.

Around the necks, to the north and the south hang the dog tags of those men and women who stand in the defense of their nations, offering their blood, sweat, and tears to the governments that increasingly seem utterly unburdened by the need to defend anything but their own agenda.

No one accuses the wearers of the dog tags of intelligence.  When we speak of the dogs who share our homes, or the dog-tag wearing soldiers the kind speak with reverence, the privileged with amusement at the dogged loyalty of the uniformed defenders of their nations.  Loyalty is not actually stupidity, although it would be stupidity indeed were we to expect a matching loyalty from our leadership, a matching commitment to our people from our elected leaders.  Most of us are not actually stupid enough to do so, but it is not FOR the leaders we serve.  We serve for the people.

You remember the people?  Our legislators seldom do.  We serve, some give up their lives, and most give up their health as we expend ourselves in the service of the land of our birth, because our people are actually worthy of that service.

In Canada, our leaders are busy punishing their loyal guardians for the twin crimes of being too loyal to rebel, and bound by law not to speak out.  Sucks to be a soldier right now in the north, but we actually have it better.  In the US, the soldiers get to sit back and watch their leadership condemn millions of the people they signed up to defend to death, so the same rich assholes who generally send the soldiers overseas to die to enforce an economic hegemony that benefits only those same rich assholes, can save a few percent by not paying their share of the health care that would allow the less well off to also be covered.

It is a sad time to be wearing dog tags, as neither nation particularly seems to be worthy of the service of its defenders right now.  It doesn’t matter.  Soldiers, like dogs, are renowned for their faithfulness in serving their masters, whether they are actually worthy of that service or not.

Right now it really helps to remember you are there to serve the people, because those who sit in the houses of the people, those who call themselves public servants while serving only their own political ideologies and not their folk, are a far cry from being worthy of the service of the least of our soldiers.

Somehow all this is supposed to anchor neatly in Christian theology, as the same leader in the US freed the churches to openly (and tax deductably) play politics.  I don’t get it myself.  I am just a poor Heathen, and figure Christ would be shitting a crucifix at what was just done in the US.  My own lore looks at the question of taxing the rich and looking after the sick a little differently than the Republican reading of Christianity.  From the Havamal:

39. If wealth a man | has won for himself,
Let him never suffer in need;
Oft he saves for a foe | what he plans for a friend,
For much goes worse than we wish.

40. None so free with gifts | or food have I found
That gladly he took not a gift,

Nor one who so widely | scattered his wealth
That of recompense hatred he had.

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.

71. 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.

Gods knows I am not a politician, and my leadership has always been on the small unit scale, where loyalty, commitment, and success of mission was more important than appearance and dogma.  Perhaps it is different in the higher strata of power; because from down here among the actual people, it looks a lot like a leadership in both halves of North America that has little to no comprehension of who they serve, or what the honour that supposedly justifies their personal glory and power is supposed to look like.

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Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized, Yule

North-man at Yule

1984-inorance-and-want

I am a North-man.  If you are thinking horned helms and swords, you are watching too much TV.  I mean I am a man of the north, a man who has lived a lot of my life in the high and the wild, in the places where you can break a steel tool by trying to pick it up when the weather gets too cold, where you sometimes need a tiger torch to free a tire mud-welded to the pavement when the wind shifts and five above becomes twenty below again.

 

Come the winter, the days get short, the nights get cold, and the rain comes.  You burn through twice as much calories just keeping your body normal as you adjust to the chill, and maintain the normal activity level.  Everything is wet, and stays wet.

 

I was a soldier for a lot of years.  I learned to love living rough, spending weeks or months living in the mud, dust or snow, but this left me with an understanding of the realities of the seasons that the comforts of home and plenty take away from most of us. The realities haven’t changed.  For a lot of people the truth still remains the same.  Winter is the dying time.  It is always trying to kill you, and the day you make a mistake, get wet and don’t get dry, don’t eat when you burned off the reserves you had, or, gods forbid, get sick when you were already marginal, it wins.

 

When I was a child, the Irish Rovers were a favourite of mine, and when I thought of Christmas songs, I thought of the Little Match Girl.  Nothing to me sang of the truth of the season more than the song of Little Match Girl.  The little match girl dying in the cold was a truth our ancestors stepped over in the cities every winter through the ages that left us with such historical legacies as public work houses, debtors prisons.

I am a Socialist.  Most of Scandinavia is, for the North teaches that it is always trying to kill you, that if you do not stand together, you will die.  It teaches you that you are responsible for your own first, but for others in the community as well, for alone, none of us is enough.

 

I am not a Communist, in fact I spent my salad years training to shoot at them, a war that may be fought yet if things keep going strange out Ukraine way.  I am a believer in our constitutional monarchy, with rule through representative democracy, a division of powers between federal and provincial levels to balance collective needs and regional differences.  I don’t believe we, as one of the richest nations on earth should have starving children, or those to whom falling thermometers may mean not waking in the morning.

 

I am a Heathen, not one of the Christians this song was written for.  We do not suffer from the need to believe the world is as it is not.  We do not have a trouble understanding the reality of the season is in fact the reason for it.

 

Cold and dark sap at the connections we have to life.  Cold and dark drive us inside, away from each other.  A time of privation and solitude, of depression and loss.  A time the weak will die, those who have no strong connection may well stop fighting and pass even when they have the strength to go on.

We are commanded by the gods to wassail hard in the heart of the dark, to brighten each other with gifts, to exchange hospitality with each other and make merry.  The flame of life is guttering until we fan it bright and hot again.  This is the Yuletide, the meaning and the purpose of it.  Odin as the Yulefather is a gift giver, but his punishment for those who break hospitality, for those who forget the reason for his laws are justly feared.  We are in this together, forget it at our peril.

 

Those in our society who work the hardest, give the most.  Those who are rich are farthest from the cold, the dark, and the cost.  Those who have clawed their way up from it, or who have survived blows or tests that they feared might cost them all they had built look up on those who have little and understand that any help they give can make a difference.

 

A gift for a gift is the basis of heathen practice.  Reciprocal gifting relationships are the foundation of our practice.  We are reminded in the Hamaval of the uses of the wealth we have, little though it may be. For our friends we show our appreciation by exchanging gifts, and guesting, that those relationships we have found important to us are recognized and strengthened.

 

  1. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
    As each for himself can see;
    Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,
    If fair their fates may be.

 

We look to our folk, to our people, to our community and we see those who have less than us, who do not enjoy the bounty that we do, and to them we offer not charity, not a beggar’s token, but a gift from one person to another, a recognition of another person as worthy of such a gift.  We do not give to those lesser than us, we extend a gift to those we hope will one day be in a position to extend a similar gift to another in need, when they are in a better place. Paying it forward was our tradition a thousand years ago, and I hope it to be still a thousand years from now.

 

  1. No great thing needs | a man to give,
    Oft little will purchase praise;
    With half a loaf | and a half-filled cup
    A friend full fast I made.

 

We say when we make our sacrifice, “From the gods, to the earth, to us.  From us, to the earth, to the gods”.  We seek by our offerings given to the land to complete the gift cycle, to close the circle between the gods, ancestors, wights of the land, and ourselves.  We cannot pay back the gods for their gifts, so we show our gratitude by using those gifts to help those the teachings of our ancestors, and the wisdom of our gods and goddesses have shown us are in need.  We honour our gods more by showing we respect their teachings than by offering the most potent of powers gifts that can have only symbolic meaning to them, but make real benefits to those in need.

 

  1. Better no prayer | than too big an offering,
    By thy getting measure thy gift;
    Better is none | than too big a sacrifice.

 

Heathens don’t choose between helping those in need and brightening the lives of those that are important to us.  Both are important, both are part of what it means to keep the Yuletide.  We wassail hard in the heart of the dark.  We reach out to those who have gone silent, we renew the bonds that tie them to their community.  We look out our window at the cold and damp and understand not everyone has a choice to be on this side of the glass, and that is actually not OK.  I celebrate the Yule tide, I drink and feast, I gift and renew my ties with family and friends.  I also do what I can for those in need, because there is not a lot except wyrd (fate) between me who gives the gift this year, and those in need who receive it.  The north teaches you that the night is cold, dark, long, and ever so hungry.  Those who face the night wondering if they will see the morn are never far from my thoughts this time of year.  The dead are close to us at Yule, and those who are not tightly bound to life are too apt to join them.

 

We make our light blaze in the heart of the dark, we feast in the time of privation, we offer gifts in the time of want, because we will the folk to see through the dark times until the returning sun.

yulefather

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Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Anger as a tool for Healing

barbed-wire-rosethor-cloud

It is dogmatically accepted in post 1960’s Western thought that anger is universally wrong, much as the axiom that violence never solves anything, the statement’s dogmatic acceptance has allowed it to somehow become a pillar of a society that it never built, and whose contributions have been as much negative as positive.

 

Anger has many negative and terrible expressions, and uncontrolled anger is almost universally destructive of self or others.  Anger is a lot like fire, when uncontrolled, misdirected, or in the wrong place, it is terrible and destructive.  Similar to fire, when controlled, properly directed, and in the right places it warms, protects, and drives necessary change.

 

When you are hurt by someone else, a large number of forces begin to work on you.  Fear driven by the situation and potential for future harm, anger that you were hurt, a desire to hurt back the one who hurt you, a desire to placate the one who hurt you that they not do it again.  In a largely Christian society, the social pressure to forgive, to accept the hurt without retaliation can be a real social pressure.  The perception that to avoid confrontation at all cost is somehow the worthy course of action has become the supposed hallmark of our peaceful civilization.

 

The problems stemming from accepting hurt without allowing anger to do its work grow in proportion to the frequency and severity of the hurts accepted.  When I swing my fist, my right to swing it ends at your chin. At that point, it has ceased to be my right to swing my fist, and become an assault upon your person.  Once you have been struck, my intentions suddenly matter less than you think.  You have been struck.  This fact cannot be taken out of the equation.  This is not going away, and there must be a reaction from you, even if no one but you will be aware of it.

 

Once you have been attacked by another, suffered pain, fear, loss, humiliation or other affront, your self has been attacked.  Your flesh is not the only portion of you that can take damage, not the only thing that may be wounded.  A physical attack is not simply experienced as trauma to the flesh, but to the mind and spirit as well.  What can be harder to spot is attacks of either non-physical nature, or of a physical nature that are more harassment than direct damage.

 

Thor is the defender of social boundaries, his rune is Thurisaz, which literally translates into thorn.  It is funny that the great god Thor is represented by the thorn, but in the spirit of the maxim that “good fences make good neighbors” the god of social boundaries, the god of frithful societies, is the god who makes good fences that will leave you bloodied if you try to push across someone’s boundaries.

thurisaz

 

Anger is the thorn, a thorn that bites the striking hand, and the thorn that galls our backside into getting off our tush and making sure our boundaries are defended.  Anger is a message.  Be very careful when you dismiss this statement.  I care less about who else you deliver this message to, it may be that the only thing you accomplish with expressing your anger is letting you know you did so.

 

The social pressure for good people to not start a confrontation, not escalate, to keep peace at all costs runs strongly counter to the Heathen principle of Frith, or right action towards others, and indeed, towards ones self.  It is not Frithful to accept without rancour attacks upon your person; your body or your dignity.  Frithful is to act appropriately towards each other, and one who attacks you is deserving of your anger, not your forgiveness.  More importantly, you need to deliver a message, and the primary person you are addressing is yourself.

To accept an insult to your dignity, or an attack upon your person without anger is to accept that YOU do not believe you are worthy of defense.  This must not be allowed ever.  I am not stating that it is productive in all situations for you to fly off the handle and initiate a verbal or physical altercation when you are so attacked; tactics if nothing else argue that you must always be aware of the threats around you and a realistic understanding of consequences should be part of your decision making processes at all times.   I AM saying that you are always listening. If no one else in the world is listening to you, understand that you are.  When you allow an insult or an assault to pass without anger, you are whispering to your Self that you were not worthy of defense.  These whispers are as terrible a poison as anything Syglin keeps from Loki’s brow, for they eat at the heart of you.

 

Anger can be a powerful motivating tool to change. Anger at your physical shape can drive recovery from the most terrible injury, or fight you through the most lingering and debilitating illness.  Anger can force you to look at the ashes of a failed and abusive relationship, be it personal, familial, or work, and drive you to make the changes necessary to secure that security of the person that will allow you to at last be proud, whole, and without fear of attack.

 

Anger at your own actions can also cause you to do the hardest thing of all; take behaviours that have been comfortable and successful for a long time and learn to set them aside, learning new ways, however painfully, that do not cause you to transgress again and leave you shaking with rage at your own actions.

 

Flowers are loved, swaying branches are much sung of, and the green leaf itself figures prominently in much art and fashion, but it is the humble thorn that we must turn to and offer a small bow.  The thorn is the instructor of the bleeding hand, the slap of cold rebuke, the punishment for the line crossed.  It is the thorn that makes a space safe, for it is the defense of your boundaries that makes your self sacrosanct.  You may batter your way through thorns, for enough force renders any wall eventually breached, but what you can never do is deny the barrier was there, deny the border was defended.

 

Anger, like thorns, is a message to the outer world that your boundaries are worthy of respect, and not to be lightly ignored.  Anger, like thorns, tells yourself that you are not only worthy of defense, but that your defense was real and worthy.

 

Shame and fear are thieves that steal your power.  Despair and sadness sap your will and strength, removing your ability to cope, to make changes, at the very time your situation is most desperately in need of changing.  The cold that seeps through your flesh as shame, fear, despair and sadness leach the life from your limbs, the light from your eyes, the swiftness of your thoughts will fall before the blaze of your anger, properly directed it can power the changes necessary to get you to a place where you can set anger aside, and remain warmed by brighter emotions.

 

When you are hurt, be it physically or other, you will have anger. Either you will own this anger, direct this anger towards those targets that deserve it, use this anger to spur the changes necessary to improve your situation, or this anger will direct itself.  If you smile and swallow your helping of gall, if you cast your eyes down and accept your fear, the fire of anger will burn inside, but it will burn you. It will not be guided by you, commanded by you; rather it will consume and punish you for the crime of not defending your Self.

 

Thor is not the god of peace, he is the defender of social boundaries, the defender of the folk.  His rune is not a flower, but a thorn.  We do not worship peace, for an unjust peace, peace bought at the cost of acceptance of abuse is abhorrent.  We seek Frith, proper action, appropriate action towards everyone we deal with.  We seek frith, and when frith is breached, anger is an appropriate response, for it can be used to drive the change necessary to restore frith.

rose-on-the-wire

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Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Heathenry Belongs to All of Us

Freehold and Troth Banners

 

Hail,

I have long said that it is not the Troth’s place to tell the AFA how to run their house.  We go our own way and have our own understanding of Heathenry, what it meant to our ancestors, and what it means to us today.  I have said that, and I meant it.  I don’t run their house, nor would I be welcome in it.

 

They don’t own Heathenry, neither does the Troth.  However, Heathenry is my community, its peoples, all of them, are my peoples, and they are now under attack, and it is mine to defend them.  The Troth does not own Heathenry, but we are sons and daughters of the Heathen community, we are listening to the AFA tell our brothers and sisters they are not welcome , that they have no right to be here, to follow our gods, or to raise the horn with us as symble and be part of our holy folk.

 

I have had enough.  They do not have the right, and to be honest, they are not even correct.  The AFA official body has spelled out in black and white in the recent release that if you are not white, or you are gay, you are not welcome.  If your understanding of how to be a good and worthy Heathen man does not fit their definition of strong masculine man, you are not welcome.  If your understanding of being a good and worthy Heathen woman is not to be a skirt wearing home caring mother, you are not welcome.

 

They are wrong, badly wrong.  On one level I weep for their failures, and their failure to understand the words of our ancestors, the teachings of our holy gods, but to be honest, my first and strongest reaction is anger.  How dare they usurp the place of our holy gods, and arrogant to themselves the right to decide who may and may not raise a horn to them, who may or may not feel the call to join with their folk in community and worship.  How dare they attack my folk, my people, out of a failure to understand how living true to your heart, living honestly, openly and honourably as the teaching of your ancestors and your own best judgement teaches you, do not fit their own preconceived poster of what a Heathen should look like?

 

Genetic diversity in Viking Age grave sites was higher than modern, the maternal mitochondrial DNA studies have shown that among those women buried with grave goods consistent with full citizenship in their community, genetic diversity showed many tribal markings, some from as far away as Turkey or North American native.  You did not have to be white then, or now to be a member of our community.  These women were buried as women of the folk because that is how they lived.  Then and now, we judge you by your deeds, your proven worth to us.  Thus it was, thus it is, and while the Troth survives, thus it will be.

 

I am no universalist preacher, Heathenry is not for everyone.  Our ways are harsh in many respects, you are expected to answer for your words and deeds.  Our gods will not wave a magic wand and fix what you break, we have to deal with the consequences of our own actions.  This is a hard sell for much of humanity who really want someone to tell them that a word without a deed is somehow enough.

 

You can be a strong masculine man, the very image of a Viking warrior, the poster boy for any army recruiter, and be a member of our community.  We have lots of them.  I am one.  Of course in all honesty among those proven warriors you will find many who are not white, and many who are not men.  Yes, strong men and women have chosen to understand their duty to the community requires a service that risks their lives.  That is a common, understanding of how to meet your challenges and responsibilities.

 

There are many ways to live true as a good and worthy man, and good and worthy woman.  Some fill traditional gender roles to the stereotypical T.  Others follow their own talents and nature, their own responsibilities and roles to become strong and worthy Heathens in many other ways.  Teachers, artists, builders, traders, lawyers, healers; in every art in every science, in every trade you will find us.  There is no one right way to be Heathen, we were in ancient times a whole folk, a whole community of great and vital diversity of form, of nature, of opinion and expression. This richness was the endless source of the vigor and flexibility, of the cheerful boldness that allowed us to thrive when so many other peoples failed.

 

Our gods are harsh; they do not hold with those who are false, who stand as oathbreakers.  In that stance we see from them not cruelty, but wisdom.  It does you no good to pretend what is false, it does you no good and much ill to pretend to be what you are not.  You build little worth attempting to be what you are not, when instead you can build much worth succeeding in being what you are.  If our gods are harsh teachers, it is that we have only one life, and the sooner we realize the importance of living true to ourselves, the greater benefit we can be to ourselves, and to our communities.

 

Who you love is not important.  How you love is.  We do not care if you are straight, gay, or trans.  We do care how you love; we care deeply about how you treat the ones you love, as we care deeply about how you treat those you work with, and for, and those who work for you. How  your hold your oaths, care for those who depend on you. We care about your words and your deeds.  Do you honour your relationships?  If so we praise you and hold you in high esteem.  If not then yes, you will have little worth in our eyes.
I have married several people, and hope to continue this practice in future.  I did not care then if I was marrying man and woman, or two of the same.  I cared that they were openly and honestly plighting their troth to each other, that their union would be loving, honest, and healthy.

The AFA care that you are white, straight, and fit neatly on their poster.

I believe they have gone badly wrong, while I will allow them to run their own house any way they see fit, including burning the roof above their own heads, I draw the line at their telling the Heathen community who may or may not be a member.

 

The Troth will not tell you who may or may not join any other organization than our own.  That is not our place.  The Troth ABSOLUTELY will tell you that we are open to all good and worthy heathens who understand and accept that the colour of your skin, your understanding of your gender, and who it is that you love do not in any way shape or form affect your membership in this community.  If you are drawn to our gods, to honour the wights and ancestors, if you find the teachings themselves to be powerful and worthy guides to your life, and you can respect those who feel the same, even if their understandings may be different than yours, then you are welcome.

 

Ancient Heathens built strong inclusive communities.  So do we.  You will find those who are white and straight in our ranks, and you will find those that are not.  We honestly don’t divide along those lines.  You will find so many different ways to be a good and worthy Heathen under our banner, so many good examples of men and women who are living true, not to a stereotype, but to who they need to be to face the challenges given them.  Diversity is strength, and the frith of a diverse community that loves and values that diversity knows no equal on earth.  That is what we seek to build.  The AFA have chosen their way.  It is their right, but it is not, in my opinion, a Heathen one.

John T Mainer

Freyr of the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia

Redeman of The Troth

 

 

 

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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, 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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