Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Freya: Modern need, ancient goddess

Goddess Freya true

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

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

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

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

When the gods with spears | had smitten Gollveig,

And in the hall | of Hor had burned her,

Three times burned, | and three times born,

Oft and again, | yet ever she lives.

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

The wide-seeing witch, | in magic wise;

Minds she bewitched | that were moved by her magic,

To evil women | a joy she was.

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

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

Freya Hunt

Who is Freya to us today?

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

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

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

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

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Embracing Failure: Lessons of Frigg

 

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

 

Note the caveat.

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

Frigg and Baldr

 

Why was no one paying attention?

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

 

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

 

No.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Baldur grave

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Heathen, Uncategorized

Ableism, Tribalism, Shield wall and Socialism

 

  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.

This passage is one I have used often to overcome the media created nonsense that our ancestors were busy seeking death.  You don’t have to seek death, it is issued with each birth, the one unbroken promise we are given in this life.  Our ancestors knew that this was true, accepted it, and got on with the business of living.  You don’t have to seek it, it will find you on its own.  You shouldn’t waste time running from it, you will just die tired.

Wyrd weaves as it will, and not all of its weavings are weal, some are woe.  Many bad things happen, that is simply life, there is no judgement implied in them, they are simply things that happen.  We have one life, and in that life many things will happen, some of them terrible, some of them simply unpleasant, but if life goes on past that point, it will be faced with whatever changes those bad moments left us with.  This was simply the way it was, there was no sense getting worked up about it.  Life goes on, make the best of it.

Some are born with an ill-woven birth, and spend their entire life with a genetic or developmental disability.  This obviously makes the challenges ahead of them both harder and in some cases, different than they would have faced with a less woefully birth-wyrd.  Other events in our lives will take from us much of our strength, leave us with pain or disability (frequently both).  This is not the end of our life, nor the end of our ability to win honour, glory, success.  This obviously does change the nature of our challenge.

If you were to ask our ancestors, they would cheerfully admit that being born in perfect health was best.  Further, they would agree being good looking, strong, well spoken, wealthy would also be good, and lucky better yet.  They did not hold all outcomes equal, nor all starting points the same.  It was good to be perfectly prepared for all the challenges ahead, but regardless of how prepared you are, the challenges are coming, and you will face them with what you have.  To them, life was an opportunity to build worth.  While starting in a more advantageous position was desired, regardless of where you started from, they expected you to continue to strive to improve; to build your worth, until your thread was cut, and the final interplay between your will and your wyrd was measured.

The lame on a horse is as able as a man with two strong legs, a man without a hand may still tend the cattle (which was the basis of wealth and status for much of our folk’s existence).  A deaf man will not be discomfited by the roars of the enemy, or the screams of the dying.  No matter what the degree of the disability, it is better than nothing, which is death, and still leaves you the ability to build your worth, to meet your challenges.

Hamaval 71 is that most military of all sentiments, “Suck it up, buttercup”.  It tells all who hear it if they are not dead, they are not beaten, now get back up and resume your duties.

I have heard recently some extremely odd opinions on this from a Tribalist perspective.  The implications from what I can understand are that the person whose wyrd has been woven to leave them disabled or disadvantaged is expected to simply “try harder” to “pull up their socks” and achieve equivalent results to fulfil their duty to the tribe, and to do so entirely on their own, so as not to burden the tribe.
I am not sure what kind of comic book this sort of tribe exists in, but it certainly never survived in a real world environment like our North.  Our ancestors did not simply let you succeed or fail on your own, for the tribe as a unit succeeded or failed together.  The tribe would indeed invest to allow you to contribute to the limit of your abilities, but they would do so with a realistic appreciation of those abilities.

ShieldWall.jpg

The shield-wall is perhaps the best known image of our folk in modern times; equally important was the boar’s head or swine array of the battle charge, but in either case the fundamentals of our folks way of war was based on one particular truth.  My shield is not mine, it is the tribes.  My shield does not ward my body, it wards the line.  Frequently I will uncover my body to cover my shield mate, trusting that my other shield mate will do the same for me.  We do not succeed or fail as splendid isolated individuals, but as a group.

Further to this image, if you could not carry the shield or have the strength to stand in the line, you had no place being there.  You could contribute in other ways, but if you put yourself in the shield wall as if you were as capable as everyone else, but knowing you were not, you have harmed the tribe.

No one ever asked you to overcome the disadvantage of not being able to lift a shield and join the shield wall.  That is foolish.  You would be expected to seek challenges you could overcome and prove your worth in those.  Likewise if you had poor distance vision you would not be advised to train as an archer and hunter, where you could only fail, when you could train as a swordsman, and carpenter where your close vision was perfectly suited.

Scholars may debate Ivar Boneless and whether he was literally carried into battle unable to walk, to lead his troops; they do not debate that Governor Frontenac of Quebec literally was carried into battle at 77 to lead a punitive expedition against the Onondagas in the 1690’s.  No longer able to lift a blade or musket, his mind and will were still without peer and served him and Quebec in their war with the English and Iroquois.

The tribal experience of our ancestors understood collective survival much the same way as the shield wall looked at protection.  You did not simply protect your own skin, but you protected your own folk as the most effective way to protect yourself in the long run.  As communities we came together to deal with problems, as a community we came together to face our enemies, and as a community we pooled our resources to help those whose wyrd had woven them a nasty tangle.  Wyrd weaves as it will, and it weaves most folks a tangle at one point or another, and it is to all of our best interest to see our people not be lost to those tangles.  We are our brother’s keeper, as our family rises and falls together.
The nations founded by those proud Northmen and peerless Northwomen have one inevitable oddity; they all embrace socialism reguarding health care and education.   Tribalism is not succeed or die on your own, for you owe the tribe all your ability.  Tribalism is succeed or fail together, for collectively we are strong, wise, and harmonious; even if frequently every individual in the collective needs assistance in one or more of those particulars.

 
Soldiers are perhaps the last vestiges of feudal society, we understand how fealty works.  When you put your hands between your lords and swear to obey their laws and will, to uphold their interests and defend their honour, the lord swears in return to advance your interests in turn to the limits of his ability (1).  Salutes are an example of this reciprocal duty, as the junior rank may offer the salute, but the senior returns it as honour goes to both the senior and the collective he represents, but also in return to the junior, the individual.  The individual has a duty to the tribe, and from that duty flows the return duty of the tribe to the individual.  There can be NO duty to the tribe if there is not duty of the tribe to the individual.  There can be no obligation to the lord, if the lord bears no obligation to his man.  It is a reciprocal gifting relationship, as Heathens know form the foundation of sustainable frithful society.

You are expected to contribute to the limit of your capability.  A wise society and tribe understands that your contribution will be greater if you are given the tools to use your abilities to their greatest return.  Society then and now was imperfect, some individuals do not hold up there end of any bargain, and there will always be abuses.  This is why we have people to deal with each other on an individual basis after all.  There have always been those who take more than they give, but our society exists and thrives because they are not the majority.  Most seek to give in balance to what they take, and the best give so much more than they ever ask in return that society, as a whole, thrives when we do give each the ability to contribute to the maximum of their abilities, whatever they are.  Wyrd weaves as it will, but we do not lie helpless before our wyrd.

Things happen, many of them bad, we deal with it and move on.   Wyrd gives us a starting point, but that is not where we end, nor is wyrd the only active agency in our lives.  We are a people, a folk.  We live in communities that have vast human and other resoruces.  Wyrd gave you a set of circumstances and the community a set of resources.  Between the two you may find that the lame will find a more modern version of the horse, the deaf may find both hearing aids, speech translation tools,  and training for careers in which their lack of hearing is a non issue.

Hamaval 71

  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.

Rough translation: Suck it up buttercup, you lived.  Now take a good look at your resources, your challenges, and focus yourself on making the best you can out of the hand you are dealt. Your victories are there to be taken.   If you are not dead, you are not beaten, nor are you done.  If you live this way, then when you are dead you are still not beaten.

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Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Labels and lasers

targeting-laser

Funny title hey?  What is the relation.  You almost have to share my background to see it, but for those of us that wore green in some form (CADPAT, MARPAT whatever your pattern) its hard not to see.  Labels act a lot like lasers from the point of view of those they are used to Target Designate.  You see the one lasing the target is not attacking, they are simply illuminating the target, providing the target point and tracking data the engaging unit will use to guide itself to the target which it will then kill.

We have a Quebec Mosque, a handful of dead, which may or may not grow into a second handful depending on their responses in hospital to their injuries, and we have an angry young college white boy.  Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, of Quebec City, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder following a shooting at a mosque in Sainte-Foy Sunday night.

(http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/more-questions-than-answers-was-mosque-shooting-an-act-of-terror-1.3264415?autoPlay=true).

This young man fits the profile of an angry poorly socialized loner who drifted from a left wing (NDP) affiliation to a right wing follower of Donald Trump and French politician Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right National Front.  Both leaders have essentially made acceptable to the public the views of the right wing extremists that had previously been condemned and even banned outright as hate speech.  This young man embraced the anti-feminist, anti-immigrant, dogma of the newly re-branded far right wing and chosen to act.

His choice of action was to walk into a Mosque and only his extreme lack of skill is credited for the low death toll of his prolonged shooting spree.  No one is saying Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen told him to do so.  No order was given.  No command spoken.  Only the targeting laser placed on immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants illuminating them as targets, designating them as threats.  The words are used to demonize, to declare as a clear and present danger the individuals in our society that this young man knew could be found in the Mosque, and painted the Mosque itself as a threat.  With the targeting laser shining brightly on the target, the disturbed young man did what disturbed angry young men do when poisoned by such charged rhetoric, and performed like the good little bomb he was and walked into the Mosque, following his targeting laser onto his target to kill.  Now in the Middle East he would have used a bomb vest, but here in the west it is more typical for such disturbed individuals to use a firearm as did Marc Lepin in the Polytecnic massacre targeting women, rather than immigrants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_L%C3%A9pine).

I am Heathen, or Asatru.  My closest and deepest relationship among the holy gods is with Odin, called the Battle-Glad and Victory Father among his many by-names.  Odin is primarily the god not of skill at arms, nor strength of arm.  Odin is defined by the rune Anzus, which means inspiration.  Odin is the god of poetry, wisdom, inspiration, the words that move people.  Odin is the god of rousing passions, and for this he is the primary god of both hospitality and war.  It is the rousing of passions that either brings people together in community building (hospitality) or sets them against each other (war).  Perhaps it takes an Odin’s man to see our situation right now as it is.  We are seeing just what passions are being whipped up, and just what deeds are being inspired.

We look at the failed Muslim states and see what extremism brings.  The threat of Islamic terrorism is real, worse than the terrorism is the Islamic Extremism, its dehumanizing effect on individuals whereby those who embrace it really do not see women as free and equal beings, and really cannot see those who believe differently than them as being human beings with an intrinsic right to live as they choose either.  These beliefs are incompatable with the Rights and Freedoms guaranteed by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/page-15.html).  This is not rhetoric, this is fact.

These failed states are filled with victims, they are as you would expect Muslim victims whose crime was to be born in the wrong state. Many of these people seek a better future and a better life for themselves and their children.  Those who come to Canada to become Canadian, to embrace the Rights and Freedoms of our nation, who learn to value them as those raised with them from birth cannot ever understand, as they understand how truly precious they are.  There are also predators who are seeking richer territories to continue the tactics that rendered their states failed in the first place.  Not simply those ideological terrorists, but the common criminals who do not see others as real people, but prey they can use and abuse because they are stronger.  These have no place in Canada, there is no right for those who are born elsewhere to be Canadian if they do not feel bound by our laws.  We are not obligated to take them.  For this reason we screen potential immigrants, for this reason those we have let in who prove to be not potential citizens but imminent threats forfeit any chance of becoming citizens.

These failed states show the cost of letting the language of hate be accepted.  Now we see people who have escaped these failed states being murdered in the land of freedom itself by our own failure.  We see the cost of the language of hate being condoned by the leaders of western nations that should know better.  The US and France are embracing the language of hate as we have not seen in generations.  We are seeing a war on women, we are seeing the demonizing of other races by all sides.

Let me be utterly clear about this; racism is being openly preached to cheering crowds by ALL of our lovely ethnic extremists.  We see hate crimes by each group against the other, used then to justify more hate that will lead to more crimes.  You need to leave our country I think and travel the world to see exactly how precious what we have here is.  If you had done so, you would feel the real and compelling need to put a bullet into the head of the next person standing on a podium and preaching hate.  Being civilized and respecting the rule of law, we will not do so, but on a deep and fundamental level I must acknowledge that the best use of a bullet is shooting the person holding the targeting laser, the person designating the targets, turning our fellow citizens into nothing more than targets for hatred and violence.

King Henry of England had issues with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church acting against the Royal interests in political and economic affairs.  The King spoke before his knights and barrons, frequently quoted as saying “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”  Four knights, owing loyalty to the cause of the King rode to Canterbury and cut down Thomas Becket in his church.  They were not ordered to, and indeed the King was free to condemn the extreme action, while pointing out that really the clergy for their disloyalty had brought this upon themselves.  The hypocrisy is pretty much standard practice.

We see in the wake of the shooting of Muslims kneeling in prayer by a white Canadian college student the White Hose press secretary use the killing of unarmed Muslims in a Mosque as justification for Trumps ban against immigrants from Muslim nations.

(http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/white-house-spicer-que-mosque-comments-1.3959338)

Those who use labels for target designators do not care about the facts, nor do they care about their own Constitution, their own laws, the words of their own Founding Fathers. They care only about their political agenda, their own narrow vision of who they want to be part of their own “right thinking” nation.  The language of fascism, the one true faith, one permitted belief, single definition of what is a “Real American” or “Real Canadian”.

Understand when you share the memes slapping those labels on those you don’t like.  When you make free in mockery of them, painting them as either threats or undeserving of respect (and therefore protection), you are creating the soil in which these disturbed young men grow into mass killers.  You are creating the problem.  Your hands will be clean, you are only painting the target, you will be free to express your sympathies to the victims, knowing full well you will rush home to share your smirking little memes about “lets see how they like it” or “they brought it on themselves”.  Pro-life supporters are particularly good at this one.  The assassination of a doctor in the middle of his Sunday church service was absolutely acceptable to them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_George_Tiller).

This is how you either show you deserve the rights and freedoms your ancestors fought for, your service folk risk their lives, and too often die for.  This is where you prove you are either a pillar supporting your state, or a parasite leaching off of it.

You will either take a stand against the hatred and stop treating people as labels, or you will continue to indulge in venting whatever emotional reaction makes you feel good, never once connecting your words to the increasing acceptance of hatred, and the deeds that inevitably follow.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a wonderful document.  It enshrines those rights which when shared by us all make us all free. What it also makes clear is that none of our rights give us the right to strip those rights from others.  That is what the language of hate is all about.  At its base the language of hate is about dehumanizing.  Only by making the enemy sub-human can we accept that those rights we hold to be self evident are obviously not intended for THOSE PEOPLE.

Islamic extremists, White Power extremists, clearly they will have a different definition of THOSE PEOPLE who don’t’ deserve human rights, who aren’t real people.  In all other respects they pretty much march in lockstep.  They are not opposite sides of the same coin, they are the same face of the same coin. The opposite face of any extremist is tolerance, not the opposing extreme.

Tear off the labels.  Treat individuals as just that.  Do not excuse the misdeeds of someone because of their label, nor apply the misdeeds of others to someone because they share a label.  Your label does not give you the right to rape or murder.  Your label does not give others the right to target you for abuse either.

Wake up, NOW, while our state is still strong and whole.  Continue to think that the extremist acts have nothing to do with the language you use in your every day life and your social media and you will remain part of the problem, not part of the solution.  There is no right side for extremism.  There is no just cause for extremism.  Extremism or Freedom, you get to have only one of these, I choose Freedom, and that means I must pay for it by every single day working hard to make sure I do not give in to my emotional desire to lash out at someone and contribute to the growth of acceptance of extremist views.  I ask all of you to decide for yourself if you will do the same.

mosque-vigil

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Heathen, Uncategorized

Working Around Scary

Massage.jpg

Recently I had a massage at a health spa that went a little sideways.  The worker who was doing the massage was a very good masseuse, she was also empathic and a really poorly trained energy worker.  To make it even worse, she had learned Yoga from people who ignored the spiritual aspects of it, so she had unlocked a whole lot of tools she had no idea how to use, and doors she had no idea how to close.  Being a dear sweet little thing, she wanted really hard to open herself to others and use her energy for healing.  Awesome.  Live among the most privileged in our society who have lived their entire existence pampered and sheltered and you will only have to worry about the true predators who stalk those reaches.  However, there are a fair number of us other folk who will scare the spots off you for various reasons.

Some of us are veterans either of military or police who cannot shut off their situational awareness, their focus, and the constant threat assessment of their surroundings.  We radiate like predators because we never really turn off that part of us that is always seeking, evaluating and prioritizing threats in our environment, and preparing contingency plans, more or less reflexively for dealing with them.

There are those who are in physical pain, whose bodies when you touch them are alive with the energy of pain on a level that to us is simply the chronic pain background noise, about 3-4 out of ten, if we have to think about it, but largely ignored outside the first few minutes after waking.  If you have not suffered serious injury or disease states that leave you in agony that will never, ever stop, you can’t help but be overwhelmed when you touch pain like that.  If however, it goes on long enough, you really can get used to anything, and we do.  We will be aware of the pain as you work each center, and even as the pain spikes we feel the relief that the massage is bringing and react positively even as you feel the pain increase (well yes, but only when you are working it, in your wake it is much better).

There are those who suffer PTSD from serious trauma.  Some again are veterans, some are sexual assault victims, some are survivors of serious physical trauma or long debilitating/humiliating disease.  There are wounds that leave scars in the mind, stains and twisting in the energies.  These are marks of the survivors and the reality of the coping mechanisms that got us through, and may or may not be great for functioning at the moment.  Life is a work in progress, healing a journey that actually ends in death not wellness, as you never really finish from some wounds.  Step by step, day by day you get better, and hopefully you are still doing it when you die.

OK, so that is the set of problems, so, what is the solution.  Training.  OK, here is your quick and dirty training for how to work among the scary.  I don’t mean just people who intimidate you, I mean how to remain positive and focused, around people whose condition, energy, emotion and physical pain levels cause you to panic, withdraw, or take actual harm.

Starting with the assumption you are in a therapeutic situation and you are not simply willing to use your shields to shut yourself down, cut yourself off from the awareness of others.  Let us assume you actually wish to keep your empathic senses open, and use your energy to interact with and theoretically help someone whose own state or nature disturbs you.  We are going to review Grounding, Centering and Shielding inside the specific context of therapeutic interactions.

I generally center first, relying on myself more than any external anchor, but for those who are not used to dealing with hostile, frightening, or painful energies it might be helpful to start with grounding, so there I will begin.

Grounding:  My tradition and training uses Yggdrasil, the world tree.  The tree visualization does not actually require you to believe in Yggdrasil, nor understand the nine worlds in the structure of Heathen traditions, you simply have to know what a tree looks like, how it is basically structured, and that it roots in the ground.  If you have seen a tree, then you know enough for this to work for you.

Hanged Man Tree

Lightning strikes the earth, the sun lashes it, the ice claws at it, but the earth is vast beyond useful measure and these energies literally ground in her without effect.  The scope of the earth is such that the most terrible energies can be released into her with no measurable effect.  We ground in the earth like rivers do in the sea, she received from us that which we cannot hold, even as she anchors us firmly in place.

See the tree in your mind, feel your hands as branches, your skin as bark and leaf.  You feel the energies absorbed by your leaves, buffeting your branches.  Take in the energy, let it flow down through you to your roots.  Sink those roots deep into the earth, feel the calm quiet dark of the earth.  Feel the slumbering life within it.  Let the energies wash over you and release them into the earth.  The earth is vast beyond comprehension, and the energies that are too much for you pass almost unnoticed through your roots and into the living earth.  You feel the energy bleed into the earth, even as you feel your roots sink deep into her firmness, locking and anchoring you in place.  You are grounded, anchored, and able to weather the storm of energies you may encounter without fear.

Centering is next.  You can center in yourself if you do not wish to involve external aid or powers.  If you choose to do so, take the time to breathe in slowly and deeply, focusing on your internal power, your awareness of yourself.  Let the external world become less important and reach deep within your own awareness of yourself.  With each breath in feel your power flowing along your limbs.  Feel it flow outward from your chest through each limb, up your neck to your crown, flowing through your body and into your feet.  Feel that energy defining you, your core self, core awareness.  This is you, only you.  Hold that in your mind, know yourself, and prepare to deal with energies that are not self, awareness of other.  Do so from the strong foundation in your self.  If you are spiritual or religious in practice, as many of us are, a secondary part of any healing work, be it counselling, or physical healing, is the Call.

If you seek the aid of other powers, however you define them, be it the earth itself, your ancestors, your gods (or God if you are of that persuasion) it is time now for you to Call.  The act of opening yourself by intent is not the same as a simple prayer.  This is a working.  This is a job.  A task.  You are making of yourself a tool to do a specific job.  When you Call, you are not asking for a generalized blessing, you are actually asking for a very specific aspect, that part or aspect of your god, your spirit, your ancestral guide, or higher power however you define them, that most corresponds to the work you want to do here.  Intent isn’t everything, but if you get it wrong, the rest seldom goes well.  Be clear and be honest about what you are asking for.  If you feel you are in danger of being overwhelmed, you open yourself to your god with the specific and clear intention of allowing their essence to fill you, to anchor you, so that you may work without fear or harm, to allow you to open fully without being overwhelmed by energies more powerful or simply of alien nature to your own.  Self care is critical in any and all healing work, get that wrong, and you have added to the injured, rather than healed anyone.  When you have Called, prayed, invoked or simply focused your awareness on your connection to the divine, you are ready for the next step.

Grounded in the earth, centered in yourself, your connection to the divine, if you use it, already established with the specific intent of your working you are now ready for shielding.

Shielding in the healing process is different from regular defensive shielding.   Rather than simply deflecting or protecting yourself, you seek something a little more complex, nuanced, and ambitious.  Rather than blocking all the dangerous energies, you want to simply keep them from damaging you, while allowing you to experience them, to know them, draw them out, and where appropriate and safe, use your established channels to ground safely any dangerous excesses that are released by your work.

Shielding in the healing context.  The visualization that is most useful to you will depend on your Call, or your centering technique.  One that I found useful was to extend the tree imagery.  I let my shields, my rejection of Not-Self flow over me like bark on the tree.  Flowing from my center, augmented by grounding in the far greater presence of the divine that I have opened myself to, my shields are a hard skin of bark against which the energies I touch in the person I work with will be felt.  I can feel what touches the bark, but it is my choice what I allow to pass inward, to feel, to experience, and yes, to channel downward and ground in the earth, or channel inward to the aspect of my god I have invoked to aid me in my work.

I am good at pain, so I tend to allow the awareness of pain to be drawn into me, because I am better at processing it, and by doing that I can free up the person I am working with to process and deal with actual change or healing, as the simple handling of pain is a massive energy drain unassisted.  It is not my pain, and will not root in me, but can be channeled with little effort into the earth, or offered to my god.  Odin works well for ordeals, including healing ones, so pain is a coin that will buy healing in certain contexts.  If you are not good at pain, allow the pain to flow down your shields and ground it through your roots into the earth.  The earth is so vast it can drink all the pain that ever was and be unchanged.  You do not need to experience it if that will interfere with your ability to do your job.  Be aware of it, be aware of the shape and intensity of it, the changes in it.  You must always and ever be sensitive to spikes in pain and/or fear because you cannot know what changes inside a person’s mind and body will be made by even the simplest alteration of the balance of stresses under which they live.  You don’t have to understand their internal landscape, just sense when what you are doing is causing distress, and be able to avoid pushing at those fault lines.

Standard shields will allow you to cut yourself off from the awareness of the other person’s will, their pain, their emotions.  In a healing context, you will often find the need to open yourself to those very things to an extent to follow the most important dictate in any healing process “DO NO HARM”.  You cannot ensure you are doing no harm, if you are shielding yourself from all the effects you are having on your person, for this reason, you must actually use your sensitivity to a degree.
Center in yourself, shield yourself so that you can be aware but not harmed by the energies that are under your fingers.  Remain centered in yourself, go as slow as you need to, but you must always and ever remain centered in yourself, with clear understanding of what is coming from you, and what is coming from them.  Ground deep in the earth, bleeding off not only excess and dangerous energies from them, but those energies that will snap up in you in response.  Do not be ashamed of fear, shame, anger, or other emotional responses to the energies of another’s pain.  Own those responses that are yours, ground out the energies that are harmful with every single exhalation, give them up to the earth, but be aware of where the response came from in you, and be prepared to deal with the emotional consequences later, preferably with help from those who share your tradition and practice.

I am not going to give you instruction at how to work with someone else’s energy.  That is something you really need to seek a far wiser teacher for, and you had best have developed specific and real skill sets before you attempt it.  I will say two important things; do not ever work with someone else’s energy, pain, or emotions without their express permission.  That means INFORMED consent.  If they don’t know that they are naked in front of your eyes, you are violating their reasonable expectations of privacy and you are actually in a position to do much harm through the violation of trust.  Second, what we can do for others is help them deal with effects, free up their energies to deal with causes.  We can’t make wounds go away, we can’t undo damage.  Don’t ever trivialize people’s wounds by thinking you can simply magic them away.  That is not what we can do.  What we can do is useful and important.  We can reduce the negative effects of their burdens on them, and make easier their efforts to remodel their own bodies, mind and emotions on a gradual step by step basis.  If you make someone feel better, that is not a problem gone, that is a blessed moment of relief that may enable them to make steps toward meaningful and lasting change, but do not pretend you can “fix people”.  It insults them, trivializes their trauma, and makes mockery of the real and lasting good you can actually do.

You don’t have to shut yourself off from people whose energies and intensity is disturbing to you.   To be empathic, to be able to share another’s pain is an immensely useful tool in making real and positive differences in their experience.  The twin principals of “do no harm” to them, and “self care” for you are best served by only opening yourself to intense or dangerous energies, or powerful personalities in a therapeutic setting after you have grounded, centered and shielded yourself in such a way you can work safely, respectfully, and honestly with whoever you are working with.

There are lots of people out there who are apparently getting their abilities unlocked by those with no spiritual awareness at all.  This is dangerous.  It is blind people telling you how to find the sun, and telling you how wonderful it feels on your face.  Those with sight are perfectly prepared to endanger themselves, and utterly unprepared for the really simple steps in working with sunlight safely.  If you happen to be, or know one such person, pass this along.  If you are one of these people and require instruction, there are lots of really gifted practitioners, I am not one of them, but I can and will put you in touch with them for further instruction.  I am just another working stiff, struggling to get my own training up to snuff for the jobs I already do.

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Feast of Crow

crow-eating

This is the time of year that our gods call us to look inside and have a hard look at what we see.  This is a very special feasting time, the Feast of Crow.  This is the time where we look back at our words, and decide how many of them we will have to eat.  Over the years, I have had never shied away from expressing my opinions, stating and defending my beliefs against all comers, and I do fairly well, sometimes because my ideas are just right and holy, and others because I am just a better fencer than the poor bastard who has the right with him, but not the skill to prove it.

 

Few things taste as sweet as victory upon the tongue, sweeter than mead, equalled only by the kiss of a fair maid, and yet the corollary is there as well.  To realize that your victory was false, to realize your victory must be now denied tastes like ashes upon the tongue, eating your words, the feast of crow.

 

Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s ravens called Thought and Memory are birds of a particularly relentless nature.  They are guides, seekers, messengers, but above all they are carrion birds to circle the raven’s feast, the dead, the dying, and those who are yet unaware of their imminent reduction to food source.  In what capacity are they hounding me right now?  A bit of all, I suppose.  Illusions die hard, and when they die at last you have a few choices, pretend you never held the illusion and pray no one calls you on it.  Which some do, but honestly, it leaves you inferior in every conversation that follows for you at least know your words ring false.  Alternatively, when your illusions die, and you are faced with a truth you have long and loudly denied, you may choose to accept this truth.  That is fine, but what about your words?

 

Those people who have stood against me in defense of the truth they knew and went down against my words not due to their cause but my ability to sway a crowd, I owe them now a debt.  I was wrong, they were right, and it is not enough that I know this, I went on record with my views, and those who wish to weigh the worth of those who stood against me will remember the loss and hold them the lower for it.  In fact they should be held the higher, as they were right and I was wrong.  This balance must be addressed, or my own worth will be built on falsehood not fact.  Not honestly a risk I choose to accept, nor a debt I wish between me and those who were in fact always correct.

 

So, prepare the Feast of Crow; if one is going to eat crow, to eat my words.  It goes best with a nice mead to ease the burning, and to speed the laughter which reminds us all that if we can’t take a joke, we probably are one.

 

Lets have a look at some of the more famous arguments I have held over the years that I now find myself on the opposite side now.

 

Prison Inreach:  Oh how I held the view that the outlaws had no place among us and the cast out should be cast out, that is that.  Ah, but what then?  What about when the outlawry is over?  Right now only the White Supremacist literature is getting to the prisoners, and we weep and wail because Heathenry is being seen as White Supremacist due to the growing prison popularity.  Hmm, if we want the people in prison not to be recruited by the White Supremacists, and the people who are attempting to incorporate Heathenry into rebuilding their lives, so that they may re-enter society as fully functioning members able to build and establish the kind of worth that would make them worthy additions to a Kindred, we would actually be well advised to see the prison heathens had access to good information, that those who would learn to make worthy choices will be shown what our community understands as worthy choices.   We need to be involved in Prison Inreach, not so much primarily for the inmates, but for our broader community.

 

Magic is Ergi.  Oh in the pride and power of my youthful invincibility did I spout often and loudly about how magic was unmanly, how use of anything beyond your iron will and hard hands was cheating.  That one I held with the kind of self-righteousness that proved invulnerable to any external evidence.  The gods are nothing if not whimsical, so in time I was given all the chance to examine this internally that I could dream of.   I was given a spinal injury that I would be on medication for pain and spasm for life; a medication which made me a danger to anyone near me.  I had become the threat I needed to protect my family against.  I turned to magic, to an ordeal to seek from my gods and ancestors an answer, and I received it.  Oh yes, when I could not afford to lose, I turned to magic, and it worked.  So many years of arrogance to chew through.  For as much as my voice has some weight in the community, and I have heard some use my words to mock those who use magic, know this, I live now because of it.  If I remained a threat to my family, I would have eliminated that threat with the will and hand I was comfortable with, had I not dared to seek other methods, that once I labled ergi; unmanly.  Duty is not ergi, but hubris is.  Doing my duty meant learning to live, embracing the tools required, reguardless of their source.  That, not cheap machismo, is the answer of a real man, not a boastful boy.  I was that boastful boy, until life showed me how far up my ass my head was lodged.  There are a lot of words to eat there, so I will be chewing a bit.

 

No bread for Torah!  I love this one.  I have a whole lot of reactionary in me, as many who had Christianity rammed down their throats start out.  I have done my best to weed out most of the bits that jump out and smack me in the face as obvious.  The rampant corruption of the Church, its abuses and outright evil provide a very firm foundation for a strong anti-clerical bias in Heathenry, and I still agree with most of it, but we have a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I don’t believe Heathenry should be a way to fill your coffers, I don’t want Heathenry ever to be just another big box store, catering to its carefully plotted demographic, a product like a hundred others for sale from the pulpit.  That said, Heathens are not Wiccans, we are not a counter culture, we are an actual culture, and one that is moving forward and expanding.  Our priests and priestesses are not required for 90% of what we do, but that other 10% that requires a professional level clergy occur at widely separated places, leaving our small absolute number of functioning trained priests and priestesses to cover a whole lot of ground and do a whole lot of work, at a huge financial cost.  I love to offer my work to the community as a donation, but I must limit the level of that donation to what I can afford to spare from family and employment.  At some point, I began to notice we were beggaring and burning out our serving ritual providers and hosts.  That is not “A gift for a gift” that is not reciprocity, that is community parasitism.  Holy crap.  We have all been getting our Torah, and not ponying up the bread.  You know, that is not good enough.  Asatru and Heathenry should not be run like a business where profit is the main concern.  We are not Christianity, their model is not ours.  That being said, I don’t expect the would be leaders and volunteers in the community to sacrifice their success on the altar of our needs.  That is unworthy of us as a community.  People should be paid for work we seek them out to provide due to their professional level skills.  It doesn’t’ end with priestcraft.  Artwork and craftwork as well should be rewarded to the degree that we think it important to our community.  If we love that which is made my a Heathen artist, be it a physical thing, or a song or artwork, we should make sure we PAY the artist what it is worth.  I don’t care if you can get it free, if you want your community to have it, you see the artist got paid.

 

Our women are respected.  You know, that one hurt the most.  Its not as true as I thought, not nearly as true as it should be.  One of the pernicious leavings of the cannibal cult, the misogyny of Christianity lingers in dark places within Heathenry.  Our women have the broadest range of expression of their strength and worth of any community (faith or geographic) that I have ever seen.  We have the most amazing women in the world in our ranks, and justly famed are many of them.  That being said, they do not actually get equal respect for their deeds.  They do not get equal hearing of their words.  I actually thought we were doing better than this, but I accept that I saw we were better than others, and thought this meant necessarily good, and I was wrong.  Ok, we can and will do better, but you don’t’ fix a problem you pretend isn’t there, so wake up my brothers; our sisters are not being treated as they deserve.  That is on us, so fix it.

 

I have probably been wrong about other things, and yes ladies and gentlemen, will most likely be wrong about more if I survive into the new year.  I will never stop fighting passionately for what I believe in, but I will hold myself to this; when and if I realize that you were right, and I was wrong, I will tuck my beard into my belt, and sit myself down to a nice feast of crow, and eat the words I spoke.  I invite all of you to look back on all those things that you once held as true, and ask yourself how many of them still hold true, and see if there may be a plate covered in black feathers waiting for your dining pleasure as well.
The Yuletide is here, crow has no calories and the mead is medicinal.  Join me in this repast, and we will face the new year a little wiser than the old.

Odin Picture

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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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