Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Nazis free to kill on our streets

White Nationalists marched on Charlottesville Virginia.  For those who are even now preparing to defend White Nationalists as not being Nazis, and calling on all those who call them fascists as alarmists, I offer you the following photos of the marchers.

American Nazi shirt

Armed and proud to quote Adolf Hitler, the White Nationalist Nazis, raised on our own North American soil, the same soil that raised the Great Generation who suffered so much to end the blood soaked dream of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dream of a Thousand Year Reich built on the blood of innocents.

A new mythology has sprung up, rooting the Nazi racist dogma in a romanticized vision of the Southern past, a dream of an idyllic civilization of white, slave owning, America.  Rather than looking at slavery as a great crime and abomination, they glorify the mythological old south, without being bothered by petty concerns like the actual history involved.  We are told time and again not to equate the Confederate Battle Flag (usually mistakenly referred to as the Confederate flag, because they literally know that little about the past they are lying to themselves about) with the Nazi flag.  This is hard to do, when they keep marching them side by side at their hate filled rallies.

American Nazi Flag

These are not proud American patriots; for those who are confused, these are proud American patriots.  This is the 101st Airborne holding a captured Nazi flag they tore down after Normandy, when the drive to crush the Nazi hold on Europe was the focus of the entire free world.

101 Airborne

 

In this picture, you see American patriots, who risked their lives to defend freedom, and drive the Nazis into extinction.  Our grandfathers gave almost an entire generation of their blood to end this nightmare, we had hoped forever.  Then we failed them.  We failed to keep the watch, to honour the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands who gave their lives to put this nightmare in the ground.  Our generation allowed it to return.

The Nazi’s began with fomenting hatred, escalated to street violence and murder, and ended by subverting the mechanisms of their democracy to remove all legal checks to their abuses of power, and permit the birth of their nightmare racial vision in blood and fire.

We see now the willful fomenting of hatred, but the right wing turns a blind eye to it.  We see the escalation of street violence, but too often the police who will shoot dead a person of colour for suspicion of holding a weapon, will allow these right wing militia stormtroopers to march armed as for war.

Nazi Militia

How does tolerance for Nazi thuggery end?  What is the reward for turning a blind eye to evil?

The murder of our citizens.  This time, the Nazis are killing not on streets far away, where we are free to decide whether or not to join the war to oppose them.  This time the Nazi are on our streets.

Nazi car attack

This Nazi supporter drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing a 32 year old woman, and injuring many others.  Murder in support of the doctrine of inciting racial war.  Murder by the scum who want to begin a war on our streets.

When London saw a Islamist extremist drive his car into a crowd of tourists, our nations were quick to call it terrorism, and demand action against those far distant demagogues crying for Islamic extremists to commit murder on our streets.  When we saw Canadian servicemen killed by Islamic extremists using a car to kill uniformed military personnel, we saw an immediate call to arms against those who call for murder in the name of their hate filled causes, and opposition to our free and open society.

Now it is here.  Those who call for and commit to the murder of our folk, in support of overthrowing our free and open society are here.  They are white, and they are openly armed while calling for their civil war.

What will we do? Admit that we only oppose terrorism when the wrong colour people are doing it?  Or are we the same blood and bone that gave rise to that greatest generation, are we still the people who valued freedom enough to stand against the Nazi darkness, and cast its shadow from Europe, no matter the cost in blood and coin that it cost?

The time has come to treat the Nazi like we do Isis, the Taliban, Hamas.  White Nationalists or Islamic Nationalists, those who are willing to kill our own citizens to tear our hard won freedoms from us will either find us of all races, religions, and political affiliations standing as one, the true inheritors of the great generation, willing to prove that those who died for our freedom in the Second World War did not die for nothing.

The alternative is to do what we have been doing until now.  Ignoring the enemy among us, as long as he is white.

For the record, I am white.  I am a proud citizen of a free democratic nation that understands that all our citizens, of whatever race, religion and gender are free and equal under the law.  I will fight to defend that, as I served in our military to do.  I hope that the nations we all joined to serve still value their freedoms enough to defend it from home grown terrorists.

Odin tells us in the Havamal:

127. I rede thee, Loddfafnir! | and hear thou my rede,–
Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
Great thy gain if thou learnest:
If evil thou knowest, | as evil proclaim it,
And make no friendship with foes.

Well, I see the evil.  The Nazis are just that.  Evil in their very essence, and foes of my blood, and of my nation.  I will make no bargain or peace with them, and woe betide the nation that clutches such serpents to its breast.

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Asatru, Current events, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

A gift for a gift

Hail to Ben Waggoner for starting this.

Suitable for stowage in battledress field uniforms, or tuck in any of your rucksack compartments to deploy with you.  With any that you purchase for yourself one will be donated either to Prison Inreach to fight the spread of hate inside the prisons and promote rational, non-racist heathenry, or gifted to one of our Heathen service men and women who are fighting for all of our freedoms to practice as we believe.

These are NEW and ORIGINAL translations of Hávamál and of Rígsthula by Ben himself!————–We have the honor and pleasure to announce that the Troth has just released a pocket-sized edition (4.25” x 6.88”, or 108 x 175 mmm) of the complete Hávamál, in a new translation. At only 52 pages, it’s small enough to tuck…

via NEW and ORIGINAL Hávamál and Rígsthula Translations — The Troth Blog

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Chronic Pain Meditation

Pain Meditation

A woman of my kindred has asked that I share my pain meditation, so for her, and such others as it may help, here it is.

Background:

 

I am a soldier, son, grandson of soldiers.  Not just people who did their trades in uniform, but the kind of front rankers that do the bulk of the actual fighting.  We have a history of standing into battle in this fashion that stretches back over a thousand years, our descent is from those who lived such lives and came back to have families.  This gives an inherited skillset that includes a wonderful tool for dealing with pain in active settings.

In terms the army would use as it sought to teach the same lessons I had learned from before I grew my first tooth, the trick is to “eat the pain, and shit power” (don’t you love the army?  Such poetry).  That is you take pain, feed it to your rage, and channel it through your discipline and trained reactions to allow you to overcome whatever is in your path.  It is a wonderful tool, on the tactical level.  It does however have that limitation.  That path is an active path, a violent and focused path, fueled by rage, turned ice cold by discipline, and utterly suited towards dealing as swiftly and decisively as possible with whatever challenge it faces.  There is neither hesitation, nor remorse; there is also no reckoning of the costs.  You will achieve your goals no matter the cost.

 

To all those who are nodding because this sounds really neat, you missed a lot of the important information. Firstly, it’s a tactical tool.  There is no long term thinking, zero creativity.  This is a purely reactive state.  As far as a survival tool, there is literally nothing better, but it will ruin your life, and those around you if you live in this mode.  You won’t consider the cost to yourself or others, you will not try to find a better way, you will simply go directly through whatever is in front of you with whatever is the quickest solution, with no consideration of anything beyond that immediate task.

 

The other thing you have to understand is that this is an active process, it consumes energy and causes you to harm yourself by ignoring your limits (the safety limits your body puts, like speed governors, to prevent you from tearing yourself apart with all the power you can actually generate, rather than safely channel).  The more pain you are in, the more of your energy this path takes.  If you are in acute pain, as a short term solution, it can power you through the bad spots.   If you are in chronic pain, then this will stop you from actually living, keeping you in survival mode until you have driven away everyone you care about, and finished destroying a body you refuse to listen to or allow to heal.

 

I had the opportunity, and boy did it take a long time to view it that way, to undergo an ordeal after a major spinal injury, and seek answers from our gods and ancestors as to how to cope with my injuries.  I was given some gifts I cannot explain, and cannot share.  I was also given instruction in something to deal with my pain, an instruction that was not short or pleasant, but was effective in ways I cannot explain to anyone who has not spent years trapped in chronic pain.
I will explain the meditation.

Pain Meditation: Form and images

 

This is not an otherworldly meditation.  This is perhaps the most difficult thing for most people with a lot of magical experience to grasp, this meditation is anchored in this world, and does not seek to take you out of your body at all.

 

Begin with opening your awareness.

Your back is to the Tree, Yggdrasil  The world tree.  Let your back rest against it, feel the bark behind you.  Know that it rises above you, branches reaching all the upper worlds, roots reaching far below to the underworld itself.  Feel the bark behind you, breathe deeply and let it go.  Let your hands touch the ground.  Feel the earth, the rough material of this world.  Know that you are rooted in this world, you will not journey this day.

Take a belt, a rope, a string, whatever you are comfortable wearing, and lay it upon your lap.

Take a deep breath, feel the tree, the bark of the world tree, the pillar of this world, the axis of all reality.  Take up your binder.
Let your breath go.  This is your world.  This is your place

 

Bind yourself, belt yourself, in doing so, bind yourself to the Tree which is this world, bind yourself to it because you are committing to stay here through what comes next.

 

Take a deep breath, let go, feel your pain, your fear, the tiredness that runs at your heels like Skoll after the moon; half a step behind, and always hungry.

 

You are bound to the tree, no force in the nine worlds may move you, no external force may touch you, you are safe from all that comes from outside.
Breathe in, accept that there is no external threat, and let go

 

Open your inward eye, your visualization.

 

You sit cross legged beneath the tree, before you laps a great ocean, it laps at the roots of the tree, and fills your foreground.  Above you in the sky wheels a raven, slow lazy circles as he watches the tide come in, gently lapping ever closer to your feet.

Look at the sea, and know it for your pain.
Tree at shore
Your arts have pushed it outside of your awareness of self, have locked it away until your strength faded, for the tide is rising, and none may turn it back.  It is time to meet it.
Take a slow breath in, and let it go.  Watch the waves lapping ever closer to your body.  Let your breath move in time with the waves.

Breathe with the waves, they are not foreign, they are a part of you.  Move with them, breathe with them.  Each breath, the tide washes closer until it begins to lap at your body.

The waves begin to lap at your feet and lower legs, let yourself become aware of your feet, your ankles, your arches, your calves, shins.  Feel each of them, itemize each pain that you find.  Learn them.
Breathe in, breathe out, the water is lapping over your legs, and with each brush of the wave you feel the pains of your legs.  This is your pain, this is your body.  This is not foreign, not an enemy.  Relax

Bound to the tree, you are immovable.  You cannot be lost, no storm make take you, no wave overcome you.  Bound to the tree, you are safe from all external threats.  Breathe in, breathe out.

Feel the waves wash over your knees, thighs and hips.  Feel each pain as the tide washes over them, feel them, acknowledge them, own them.  This is your pain, this is your body, this is no threat, no enemy.  Breathe in, breathe out.

 

Let the tide wash over your stomach and chest, feel the pains of your gut, your back, your shoulders, chest and abdomen.  Breathe deeply, let the sharp stabbing of those pains you learn to breathe shallow to avoid be felt now, accept the pain, and breathe, breathe.  You are still here, still safe, the pain is part of you, your pain, your body.  You are anchored in the tree and cannot be lost.

Let the tide roll over your shoulders and arms, down your hands, feel the waves taking your arms and moving them as it washes in and out.  Do not fear, this is your pain.  Let it guide you to the places that you force yourself to ignore while you work.  Feel the pains you normally block out, accept them.  Feel your hands moving in the tide.

The tide now laps at your chin, at your mouth and nose.  Fear rises in you.  Pain is trying to overwhelm you, and you feel the strong temptation to reach for power, to reach for adrenaline, and make the pain go away.

 

You are bound to the tree, no external force may harm you.  No external force may move you.  All that exists here is you.  There is no other, no threat; no enemy.
Open your mouth, and breathe.
The tide fills your mouth, rises to cover your nose, washes over your eyes and crown of your head.  You drown in the pain that rushes in to fill your body.
Breathe in, breathe out.  Offer no resistance.
Breathe in, allow the pain to fill your chest.

Breathe out, let the pain flow from your chest throughout your body.
Breathe in, this is your pain
Breathe out, this is your body

Sitting underwater
Breathe in, I claim this pain

 

Breathe out, this is my pain

Breathe in, I claim this body

 

Breathe out, this is my body

 

Breathe in, I love this pain

Breathe out, I love this body

 

Breathe in, I do not fear my pain
Breathe out, I do not punish my body

Open your eyes

 

Breathe in, look at the room around you
Breathe out, feel your body, feel its true state
Breathe in, rise up
Breathe out, feel the sharp pain, the aches, the bright burning wires we train ourselves to avoid

Breathe in, sway as the tree sways, move in the wind that drives the tide ashore

 

Breathe out, feel the pain in your limbs, in your trunk,

 

Breathe in, feel the edges of it, the hard edge that warns if you push, it will punish
Breathe out, this is a limit
Breathe in, you could summon your power and push past it
Breathe out, but right now, we see the limit, we acknowledge it

Breathe in, learn your body like you learn your lover
Breathe out, touch, move, allow yourself to feel

 

Breathe in, we do not resist

 

Breathe out, we accept our limits, we do not resent them
Breathe in, we thank our pain

Breathe out, we thank our protector
Breathe in, we move through the shallow waters
Breathe out, we let the pain of our resting body be known to us
Breathe in, we let the pain of our resting body teach us our limits

 

Breathe out, we move to those limits and not beyond
Breathe in, I accept this is my pain

 

Breathe out, I accept these are my limits

Breathe in, I am at peace

 

Breathe out, I am alive

 

Breathe in, this is my body

 

Breathe out, this is my pain

Breathe in, fill my lungs with pain

 

Breathe out, feel it wash through my body

 

Breathe in, It is still my body

 

Breathe out, I love my body
Breathe in, look around you

 

Breathe out, let your mind wander

Breathe in, is there beauty?

 

Breathe out, take time to look at it, let yourself get lost in it

 

Breathe in, is there foolishness, silliness, or humour?
Breathe out, laugh

 

Breathe in, pain does not preclude joy

 

Breathe out, pain does not preclude laughter

 

Breathe in, the pain is part of me

Breathe out, I accept it as the price of joy

 

Breathe in, look for a task to do
Breathe out, begin to work, slowly
Breathe in, think about what you do
Breathe out, experience it, feel your body

Breathe in, listen to your pain

 

Breath out, feel it teach you your limits

Breathe in, look at your task

 

Breathe out, does it require sacrifice?

 

Breathe in, is this an all cost task, do I need to hurt myself to finish it?

 

Breathe out, you can summon your power, if you need to
Breathe in, but not now

 

Breathe out, let go the power

 

Breathe in, laugh

 

Breathe out, accept this is your limit

 

Breathe in, move slowly and carefully

 

Breathe out, listen to your pain

 

Breathe in, let it fill you
Breathe out, let it guide you
Breathe in, let it know you

 

Breathe out, let you accept it as part of you

 

Breathe in, move through your task without raising your pain level
Breathe out, if you must pause, then pause

 

Breathe in, you will not hurt yourself
Breathe out, you love yourself

 

Breathe in, pain does not hate you

 

Breathe out, pain wants to stop you hurting yourself
Breathe in, love your pain

 

Breathe out, hate your pain

 

Breathe in, your task is complete
Breathe out, let yourself rest
Breathe in, your pain is still here
Breathe out, you are still here
Breathe in, beauty is still here
Breathe out, joy is still here

 

Reach down and grasp your binding

 

Breathe in, the pain is mine
Breathe out, this is my body

 

Breathe in, I am not lost

 

Breathe out, this is my body
Release the binding, let go the tree that anchored you

 

Breathe in, you are just you

 

Breathe out, whole and well

 

 

-At this point the meditation is done, you have taken yourself from the pain induced body fear, to body acceptance, and begun to reclaim your sense of self, sense of body.  You will also have gained the passive state required to accept, perceive, and address emotional nuance in anything other than survival mode, which honestly is a threat/response system that really is a relationship killer.  In the passive state you will be sensitive to inspiration, because you will no longer be actively blocking the channels that are shut down by the adrenal pathways.
You will still call upon adrenaline when you must overcome your pain to get stuff done.  This is still a requirement as some tasks, especially for working people and parents, need to be done, regardless of cost to you.  It is however not the only path open to you anymore.

 

For those people who have experienced sexual dysfunction related to pain, or a decreased arousal due to chronic pain issues, I would suggest a sensual exploration of your body as part of this meditation.  I am not actually telling you to masturbate, because too often that is focused on getting enough signal through the pain to get you to your happy place, I mean sensually explore your body and rediscover the joy of being touched.  Learn to see your body again as a thing of sensuality and joy, rather than simply a source of pain, a tool and a weapon.

 

The adrenal pathway of using rage to convert body pain into power is useful, and I will be the last one to put it down, but it is about survival, not about living.  The gods chose to share this little tool with me, and allow me to regain my joy, my creativity, and such interpersonal skills as I possess at the best of times.
I was always a good killer and healer, adrenaline and tactical thinking will get you that far, but you cannot be a leader, a lover, a parent, an artist or a whole and joyous human being if all you are doing is surviving.  Living requires acceptance, rather than defiance.

 

Notes on Effects:

This one takes months of use before it becomes instinctive.  Actually, you might be able to do far better, I am really good at the active pain pathway, too much berserker in the bloodline probably, so those who are a little less drawn to self destruction will find the pathway easier than I did.  The good news is, that if one of Odin’s little hardcases can make it work, anyone with half a functioning brain and no active death wish should find it tons easier.

 

Side effects I should warn you about, if you have been shut down creatively for a long time, your dreams will be an issue at first.  Vivid, powerful, emotionally really potent.  You have a back pressure to deal with, but it calms down after a while.

 

Empathy.  When you use this often enough, you may notice an increased sensitivity to the emotions of others.  This is a mixed blessing as not everything you learn will be pretty, but it also allows you to understand the effects of your own behaviour and take such steps as you feel are required to be comfortable with the effects of your actions.

You are not who you were; be prepared for the restored creativity to be different.  This isn’t bad, you haven’t lost anything (well traded, like youth for maturity), you have simply added more to your awareness and this is reflected in the form and content of your creative modes.

 

Your sexuality may have a couple of new bits.  There are some things about learning to accept and love your pain that expand the horizons a bit.  Trust me, there is nothing wrong with learning new things that bring you joy, when the world has already gone out of its way to show you new things to bring you misery.

 

Notes on Drugs:

 

I am not telling you to use them, or not to use them, this is a tool I am giving you.  There are other tools as well.  Some tools you want to take a long hard look before taking up, and sometimes there are no other options than taking up tools that come with side effects, if you want to have a life that is useful and productive on terms agreeable to you.

I find drugs good for acute pain, and crappy for chronic.  In using them only for acute pain, or really bad periods of chronic conditions you get the maximum bang for your buck, and minimum amount of side effects.  That being said, many people simply are not going to be functional without medication to augment their other efforts, and the correct thing to do is just that.

The gods and ancestors gave us wonderful tools, some are magical, some are skills, and some honestly are science discovered pharmaceuticals.  I kid you not, your ancestors were not stupid, and suffering for no reason is about as close to the definition of stupid as I can get.  We were gifted with the need to learn, to explore, to understand, and the tools our ancestors have left us are there for us to use.  Use no more than is necessary, but by all the gods, use no less either!

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Heathen Family

Freehold Banner

 

You know, there is a real disconnect throughout the community when we talk about our heathen kindreds, our heathen families, our heathen communities.  There is this abject fear from the left when we speak about our heathen children, a bizarre sort of aversion reflex that is hard for most to understand, until they are exposed to the White Power freaks, who are unashamedly running copies of 1930’s Nazi German pure Aryan children propaganda.

 

The problem with speaking of our Heathen families is that somehow, the racists seem to have won the battle, and even the inclusive heathen groups seem to have accepted the assumption that heathen families indicates obviously white.  When the hell did that happen?

 

The Heathen Freehold has never been pure anything.  Born from the far scattered peoples of British Columbia on Canada’s wild and largely forgotten west coast, we were far enough away from the centers of  heathen development we had to find our own way to do just about everything.  I mean we have Anglo-Saxon Heathens, Frankish, Germanics, Icelandic style Asatru, just about everything under the Heathen umbrella.  We have had many with native blood, Asian, African, it has never mattered to us.  We were alone for a long time, on the west coast, finding our own way, with the rest of the Heathen community far off doing their own thing, hearing only snippets of far off happenings.  We casually threw around Asatru and Heathen as the same thing, as we missed a lot of the big divisive fights that defined Heathenry in places where our kind were concentrated enough to divide against each other and fight; we had to either come together and accept our differences, or just admit we would have no community to practice in at all.

At the time I though us poorer for the lack of connection to the broader community, but now I thank the gods for giving us the time to establish our own thew, our own culture.  We are not great, all knowing, or blessed with bells and whistles envied by communities throughout the globe.  We are largely rural, widely scattered, and face real difficulties in coming together in great numbers with any frequency.  What we do have is an understanding of who we are, and we have a very clear idea about who and what we are meaning when we say Heathen Family.

In a discussion about Fascism vs Communism in the early days of the last century, the French Prime Minister listened to the rhetoric and then finally cut through it all and demanded “enough theory, show me the men!”  In the end, it always comes down to people.  Words can mean anything, but people are real.

 

Meet Aaron, and Kate.  Aaron came to the Freehold a long time ago, as a young man.  I had the chance to see him grow and mature into a fine man, a proud sailor in Her Majesties Canadian Navy, and to see him find his perfect wife.  I had the honour to take Kate’s fosterman’s oath, when she came to discover heathenry.  I had the very great honour to aid them taking their oaths to each other when the asked me to marry them.  I had the very great honour of taking Kate’s full oath, pledging herself to the Freehold, and to Freo in particular.  This is who I think of when I think of a Heathen Family.  In time baby Audrey came along, a pure bred heathen, a baby conceived and born from two heathen parents and raised within a Heathen kindred.

Wedding of Aaron and Kate

 

Audrey shines in our eyes as my own children, those of the other parents in the Freehold as the image of what we think of as a Heathen child. Our heathen children, our communities children.  This is what a pure bred heathen looks like, this is not the only face, there are version in every gender, age range, hair and skin colour.  The problem that I have with the community, not our community, but the broader heathen community is that ten percent of the community seems to think that anyone who would not fit in a Hitler Youth or League of German Girls poster cannot be a heathen child, and the other ninety percent think that somehow we are supposed to be ashamed of taking pride in the heathen families, heathen children, and gods forbid you should ever praise the heathen mothers in the community, because somehow fear of a fringe group of hate filled social outcasts has made acknowledging the beauty of a heathen family somehow suspect.

Heathen Baby

I sometimes long for the pre-internet days when we didn’t’ know what the rest of Heathenry was doing, and when we had no idea how special our community actually was.  Well change has to begin somewhere, and it may as well be here.

This is what a Heathen family looks like.  This is Aaron, Kate and Audrey.  They are ours, every one of them.  They look around a gathering of our Heathen Freehold and claim all they see as their own, as we all claim them as our own.  I am not saying that race doesn’t exist, our society has prejudice built in on lots of levels, and it will take a long time to get rid of those lines, and I sadly fear we will just replace them with some other convenient way to divide the people and distract the bulk of the citizens from the few who cheerfully exploit all of us while we bicker over invented fault lines.  I am saying that heathen does not imply any race.  Heathen woman does not imply must be mother, many in the community are not so drawn, and they are as much a part of the community as those who are.  Heathen man does not mean Viking imitator, or closet white supremacist; actually that would be really funny considering the complexion of some of our leading men.  Heathen child implies only this; a child that was born to heathen parents, who grows up in the sure and certain knowledge that they are not tainted by sin for the crime of being born, that they are in fact blessed by the gods, wights and ancestors, embraced by their community, and accepted for who they are, as they are aided by the community in the journey to discover who they may one day become.

Heathen Family

I honestly refuse to give up being proud of our Heathen families.  I reject utterly the shame the inclusive community feels, even as I reject the racist dogma, so poorly wrapped in imitation heathen trappings, that the fringe scum try to pretend is heathenry.  It is time we, as one small community, simply admit the rest of society has it wrong, and we got this one right. We will hold to the thew of our people, and yes, we aren’t ashamed to call our Freeholders our people, and keep doing it our way.

This is a Heathen family, we have lots of them, and to our eyes they all shine the same.  If your eyes see a problem with the differences between them, then the problem is in your eyes, and the mind behind them, not in our families, nor in our pride and honest joy we take in them.

 

We may not be the biggest or most important Heathen group out there, and that’s OK.  We are a tiny little heathen village, quietly going about building and enjoying the community that has been our own since 2002.  We have been living as inclusive heathens since before we knew there was a universalist/folkish divide we were supposed to fight about, and will continue to do so.  We take pride in our community, and in the families and individuals that make it live.  We will not pretend otherwise simply because “some people” get disturbed when heathens express pride in the families that make up our community, or out of fear that “some other people” will have an issue with the skin tone or hair colour of some of our children.  This is our Heathen Freehold, this is our village so to speak, these are our people.  It is enough we understand that, if the rest of the world can’t, perhaps it is their time to fix that.

For the record, if you object to being characterized as racist ” fringe scum try to pretend is heathenry”, then you are already admitting the label ought to be applied to you.  That should perhaps be your clue to fix that.

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Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Death Counselling

Death Counselling

I was asked to write an article about death from a Heathen perspective.  There is rather a lot written about the esoteric nature of death, about the soul, our conception of mortality in heathenry, and much of it has been done by far more skilled authors and priests than myself.  I have little to contribute in those discussions beyond recommending the words of some others that I have found useful and worthy.

What I needed and did not find when it was my time to first deal with this particular aspect of priest craft, was the knowledge of how to counsel a Heathen who is dying.  There are most likely experts out there who have done this dozens of times.  Any who are reading this and either disagree with me, or have the ability to take it both further and deeper, please do so.  I would have benefitted at the beginning with even as little information as I can provide you now.  Such as I have learned, I will share.  Those heretofore silent experts may feel free to do their duty as well and provide better information, but what I have earned, I will share with you now.

 

The misconceptions that I had about dealing with the dying are legion.  Most of my experience hands on had been with traumatic deaths, casualties whose time to appreciate what was happening to them was either short on non-existent.  End of life care is a much different experience, and far more difficult than I was prepared for because it was decidedly non-linear.

 

What I mean by non-linear is simply this, in a traumatic injury situation, a person who perceives that their injuries are quite likely going to kill them undergoes a spectrum of responses as they struggle to deal with this realization.  The spectrum from denial to acceptance, defiance to ignorance, fear to fatalism is expressed, but generally only in one direction of change.  This is not the case in end of life care at all.

 

Heathen world view puts a great deal of emphasis on struggle, on meeting your challenges, on fighting.  To this date, most of my experience has been with men, and most of them military in background, so this particular predilection to view life as a struggle or battle has implications that bleed into all aspects of the death counselling process.

 

Fear is a strange beast in the slow onset of death.  Fear is not as constant and unchanging as I had expected, rather it is a slippery shapeshifter that is always in the room, but not always in the same form, and not always as a foe.

 

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote in her seminal On Death and Dying (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/781844.On_Death_and_Dying) about the five stages of dying. I am going to reiterate what she points out, because people generally tune it out, and then make avoidable and costly mistakes because of that.  These are not linear stages.  You or the person you are working with may or may not pass through all of them, if they do it will be in any sequence, and there is a great possibility ( a probability in my experience) that you will pass through some of the stages repeatedly, and with differing results.

 

Kubler-Ross defines the stages as denial, anger, bargaining, anticipatory grief and acceptance.  Presented in this order it makes a tidy map and implies that your job is to help a person transition through these stages from one end to the other and great the final passage out of life with quiet acceptance and dignity.  This may happen, but this is not actually a map, nor a plan.  These stages may or may not occur in this order, will frequently repeat, and will be experienced quite differently as your person passes through changes in both their physical state, and mental capacity.  I will not lie to you, if the death proceeds long enough, where the physical state supplies a maximum of pain, and the mental capacity is degraded far enough, the gains that had been made towards acceptance will be lost as the capacity to understand and accept is stripped away by the very process of dying.

 

Let us have a look at the phases, and how they relate to our own theology, world view, and tool set.  We are not given faith, the gods don’t actually come out and tell us what awaits us when our thread is cut, so we don’t have a whole lot of promises to give save this one;

 

Cattle die, kinsmen die

You too will die

One thing alone will not die

The fame of a good persons deeds

 

As far as emotional anchors go in the storm that attends the death of a human being who is aware of the oncoming end, this is a powerful tool not only for the care giver but for the one cared for.

 

Denial is the first stage described, but you will see some form of denial recur again and again.  It is not your job to crush their hope, what it is your job to do if asked to provide end of life care and support is to focus that hope on what they may still win, what may still be done.  Denial first comes as denial of the disease state that is the proximal cause of their death, whatever it may be.  This is the idea that the doctors made a mistake, and, as previously experienced, this is something they may survive.  As heathens we understand that it is within us to survive every battle, every foe, except our wyrd.  Against everything but our wyrd we can will, battle or cheat our way to victory.  We have literally lived our entire lives amassing a body of evidence that proves we cannot be killed, that everything can be survived, and after all, we can only be proved wrong once.  When you are facing your wyrd, the lifetime of experience surviving anything makes it easy to seek a reason that this is simply another in a long line of challenges you have surmounted, and one you can beat.  Understanding that it is their wyrd is hard, and requires support.  You do not shove this thought down their throat, you are not there to fight them over hope, but you are there to help them to find real targets for their hopes, real matters they may struggle towards.  You cannot promise them life, what you can do is work with them to define victory conditions for them that include death, but on their own terms.

Along with denial that the doctors have identified the threat, comes frequently the “miracle” clause, where by the person who is facing death will cling to anecdotal stories of miracle cures or misdiagnoses to open the phantom of a second door at the end of the road they are facing, one that leads miraculously to health, rather than the grave.  The emotional need for hope is one that is real, and your job is not to take hope away, but to guide them towards pinning their hopes on those things that are still possible, and focusing on those victory conditions; the set of conditions by which their control of their own passage out of life constitutes a win, an outcome of their finals struggle they can claim with pride.

 

The second stage described is anger.  In my experience (which I will be the first to admit is with a unique class of individuals to whom anger is as much a part as breathing), anger, hope and acceptance are three blades of the propeller driving them forward each day.  All three are present in some form at all times, with one dominant, one rising, and one falling.  Sometimes you get a steady predictable cycle, but as the physical and mental state changes, the sequence can reverse many times.

Anger is important. Anger is a power source.  Anger is to be cherished and cared for at the guttering flame of life, but as with any flame, directed properly it lights and warms, and directed poorly it scars and destroys.  Anger will be at the world, the doctors, the gods, YOU.  Remember, as the care giver or counsellor you are proximal and knowable, where as science, the medical system, the disease, fate, the gods are all far away, impersonal, uncaring, or inaccessible.  You are not.  You may expect to be the target of this anger many times.

 

Anger is not the enemy of acceptance, nor does it need to be the force that powers denial.  Anger is the natural result of the understanding, both of the current physical state, and the emotional acceptance of the end state (death) which is approaching.  Anger is the defender of life, you cannot flee from the sorts of death we deal with in this context, so that leaves only fight in the “fight or flight” mammalian tool box, and anger is the fuel and armory of the fight response.  Your role in this stage is to support anger that is not directed against people, but against their physical state and approaching end.  Anger at what is happening to them is valid.  Anger at what awaits them, and at the fear/despair they feel welling inside is also valid.  Be very careful not to be dismissive of feelings of the person you are caring for, it is neither just, nor helpful.

 

Bargaining is an interesting stage with Heathens.  We do not have within our world view a great deal of evidence for an afterlife.  There is conflicting information in the surviving lore about rebirth, not a lot of support for a general afterlife beyond Hel or the mound that accepts all of our dead, unless you happen to fall rather spectacularly in battle, which would put you outside the scope of our care at the end of life.  We do have an understanding that this world is it, we share it; both the living and the dead.  We understand that death can only take breath and pain from us, it can still our flesh, but it cannot touch our deeds or our words.  Death has remarkably little power for a heathen, as it cannot undo what you have done in life, cannot take from all of those you have affected that which you gave them in life.  Death is the period at the end of a sentence, the silence at the end of the song, but itself contributes nothing but the marking of the end of the passage.  Bargaining is the most important stage for us as care givers and counsellors.  This is where we look at the tafl board and define our victory conditions.

Life and Tafl are similar to chess in that there are two very clear opposing forces, and very different from chess in that both sides do not seek the same objective.  In chess, both sides seek to capture each other’s king.  If we were to look at end of life care in this model, both sides would be seeking to win by either taking the life, or preserving it.  Clearly chess is not a useful model here as all you can do is lose.  Tafl is a different game, and a much more interesting one for end of life care.  In Tafl, one group seeks to take the king, the other to get the king free of the board.  This is a useful model to use at end of life care, as both sides have different victory conditions.  Death is a given.  Losing is not.

Victory conditions can be defined by the person who is dying, and can be terribly important.  One last birthday, to die in your own bed, to simply not give up, to fight to the end, to see a grandchild or any other milestone can be used to define their victory condition; the achievement of which will constitute their victory over death.  We have to die, we do not have to lose.  Very real victory conditions are to see that your loved ones are looked after when you pass, to see that family legacies are passed on, to see that responsibilities are taken up by others that your death is not “letting others down”.  Death is very real, and so is victory.  Death has one universal definition, but victory does not.  You can work with your people to find their victory, and work to help them achieve it.  This is the single most Heathen friendly stage of dying, and where our world view provides very real and measurable benefits.  Get your person to establish meaningful victory conditions and help them to work towards them until death finally takes them.

 

Anticipatory Grief is hard, very hard.  This is part of the acceptance, for as much as denial/anger/bargaining are a cycle, so too is anticipatory grief and acceptance.

 

Anticipatory grief is not something that will occur only once, it is something that will hit them again and again as they accept the inevitability and imminence of their own death.  To accept these things is to accept the loss of everyone and everything they love.  The emotional impact of this, the loss of all they love, is terrifying, and the courage to face this in no way lessens the pain.  Here your job is really important, and potentially costly.  You are there to witness their grief, to be with them while they grieve, to accept they will never hold their loved ones again, that they will never walk out onto the balcony and watch the sunrise again, never pass the horn at Yule, or hear their grandchild tell of their first goal or last report card.  This is real, true, and not to be dismissed and trivialized.  This is not for you to offer perspective or try to get them to see the positives.  This is for them to feel, and you to be with them through.

This is hard.  This hurts.  This is frequently uglier than the fear or anger.

 

Acceptance is the last stage of dying, and because we like to think of this as being the state with which the people in our care face the end.  We cannot know.  Accept this, and try to limit the lies you tell yourself, as you limit the lies you tell those you care for.

 

As the physical and mental state deteriorates, the anticipatory grief/acceptance cycle may run several times, and with results that vary widely and terrifyingly.  It is really important as caregivers and counsellors that we do not judge; as a person’s capacity diminishes, their ability to understand what is happening diminishes as well, and what was previously placed into context and accepted can be again strange and terrifying.

Acceptance when seen has a terrible and compelling beauty to it.  I can understand why we have a goddess Hel, and why she bears for us two faces.  In the early stages of dying we see the dark face of Hel, the blue-bloat terror face of death’s ugly reality.  When your person passes from anticipatory grief into acceptance, you can see the physical letting go of tension, not the crushing of defeat, but the loss of fear.  This is the bright face of the goddess, this is the merciful face.  This is the release from pain, the release from fear.  Hel is the goddess of the unbroken promise; the end of all pain and struggle, freedom from every bond.  Acceptance is those times when the dying see the fair face of Hel, not the dark.  Both faces are equally true and present, but the moment when the dying see the fair face of Hel is one of power and presence if you witness it.

These are not stages you pass through in order, necessarily.  They may occupy minutes or weeks, depending on the person and time.  They are exhausting for both you and the person you are aiding through the journey.  This is their journey, you are present to assist, but in the end, they make the final steps alone, and it is ours to make sure this constitutes no defeat for them, but a victory they can claim before their ancestors, and that their decedents may face openly.

 

On corpses.  They are no longer people.  It is a strange thing to stand beside what was once a person known to you, and know without a shadow of a doubt that they are gone.  What is left is smaller, somehow.  Lessened in some non-material fashion even as materially it undergoes changes you need to be prepared for.  The pallor and rigor are natural and not to be feared, they are not the “coming of death” but what is left behind when life has passed.  Death is not a thing, life is a thing.  Death is the awareness that a necessary part of the person is no longer there.  The disturbing awareness that something is “not right” about a body is visceral and natural, as we see the physical shape that should contain life, but no longer does and on some level the cues that tell us this cause us to react.

 

I have known a lot of corpses, and they don’t bother me, but others have very deep issues with the bodies of the newly dead.  There is no judgment attached to which reaction is yours, but be aware that the fact you have been working with this person on their end of life does not actually prepare you for your own reactions sitting next to a corpse that once housed one of your own.  You must give yourself the freedom to react as a person, not as your idealized view of what a caregiver “should be”.  You can get used to anything, but some things are a lot less fun to acclimatize to.

 

It may seem like you are making no progress at all.  It may seem like you are actually “going backwards” as the physical and mental abilities decline and the stage that they are expressing moves back from the level they had achieved previously.  As I said earlier, and as Kubler-Ross points out, these are not neat linear stages you pass through in order ending with dignified death, but a list of stages you may find your person experiencing some or all of, frequently cycling through repeatedly.

 

The last thing you have to accept is that if you are capable of this duty, you have the ability that successful soldiers do of “put it in a box, deal with it later”.  This is a good skill, this is only a skill and not an immunity.  You will need to allow yourself once the duty is done time to process.  If you are doing this duty often, you will have to take responsibility for caring for yourself, and being aware of when the load of what you have not processed is beginning to impact your ability to function.  You are no good to anyone if you break under a load you could have let someone else take up.  Take the time needed to process, death is not something we were raised to accept as part of life as our ancestors were, and it takes more out of us to deal with it on an emotional level.  For the record, those who are simply not bothered by it at all cannot help you emotionally process this, or anything, as it literally does not invoke in them any reaction at all.  In dealing with the physical needs of the seriously injured or dying this is an advantage, but makes them largely blind to the emotional steps required to deal with a loss you do feel, or deal with the reality of your own impending death.

 

 

 

 

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Litha: Shadow of the Summer King

Freyr with BoarDancer legs

Erica had been a dancer, not a professional, but she had given her passion to the dance since she was a small child. She had danced ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical all through school, eventually passing into teaching on a part time basis as a way to keep dance in her life, even as her professional life flourished in the financial sector.  Life was good, the sun shone, and all was right in the world.

 

It was September 23, and she was on her back from teaching dance class when a driver who had put away too many after work beers, on top of his medicinal weed, was a little late in determining what the red light shining overhead meant.  His indecision carried his Suburban half way through the intersection, and over half way through her Corolla.  It was almost an hour before they were able to free her from the vehicle and get her to hospital.  It was over twelve before they were sure they were not going to lose her altogether.  There is a clear priority in trauma as severe as Erica’s; life over limb, and the grim cost of that is seen in the legs that were ignored while the question of her survival hung very much in doubt.
It was almost a year of surgeries and rehabilitation before Erica was able to return to work.  It was considered a miracle that she was able to walk unassisted, but decades of dance training, the balance and discipline of a pointe dancer that enabled her to walk on limbs grown strangers to her, dead of nerve, weak of joint, no longer supple and strong, nor able honestly to ever return to the grace and power that had quietly been a touchstone of her existence as she danced through life; for she danced no more.

 

The scars of her surgeries cut a tracery upon the skin of her legs and torso, in her legs the joins of the scar tissue were marked by uneven and lumpy unfinished appearance she wept to describe to her sisters as “Frankenstein patchwork”.  Never outwardly vain, the fact that Erica had lived her entire life with a body given the grace and poise of a young deer had been an unnoticed pillar of her life, until the accident and surgery that had left her robbed of grace, and mortified at the sight of her legs.

 

Erica did not believe in depression; while she struggled with it, she never yielded to it, and fought to pour her energies back into her work, regaining the professional ground lost, and attempting to invest the same joy in building wealth for her clients that she had always found in the dance; but her life was without balance, and the strain was showing when she was not at work.  Her community had been there for her, but at some of the celebrations she felt no longer comfortable.  Today was Litha, the midsummer where she would once have leapt the fire with the others to burn off ill luck and celebrate the sheer joy of life in honour of Lord Frey, the lord of the dance, and the ever renewing earth.  She could not jump over the fire, nor stand the looks of pity when she sat with the old folks to watch the young and strong leap in joy now denied her.

She wanted to swim, to lose herself in the rythmn of the waves and her strokes, an echo of the dance she used to know.  She could not go to the pool, her self consciousness about the eyes upon her scarred legs had made the public pools about as attractive as a dung heap, and with Litha falling on a weekend, she had the chance to go to the beach before there were people about, especially if she went down to the sea by one of little beaches not technically open to the public.  Here at least she could lose herself in the waves without fear of other eyes.

 

The wind was quiet as she started to swim, but the waves seemed to pick playfully at her as the wind rose from a sky blue save for wisps of lazily twisting white lace.  A rogue wave slapped her in the face as she turned to breathe in her perfectly timed stroke, and she choked on the heavy salt water that shattered her rythmn and stole her breath.  In little danger, but unable to swim as she coughed, she was struggling to regain breath and keep herself above water when a strong lithe form swept from behind to wrap her in one strong arm, and with the other begin pulling strongly to shore.

A gentle voice ran over her like sunlight “There now, the wave sisters are over playful and have done you a bad turn.  You just cough it out, and I will keep you up until you can swim again.   The wind is rising and father says swimmers and day sailors had best be to shore; I tend to listen to him as the beach has been his since forever.”

 

There was no feeling of alarm at the strangers touch, and the unquestioned maleness of his presence pressed against her back caused a blush to rise to her face as unaccustomed thoughts intruded into the routine cycle of anger at failure and embarrassment.  She found herself first relaxing into his touch, then beginning to join him in a side stroke towards shore, aware the sea was indeed rising beneath a wind growing ever more full.

Her arm over his around her middle, they fell into a matching stroke, falling into the rythmn as naturally as with another dancer, they moved together through the waves as he pushed her to extend herself, stretching into fuller strokes, and more powerful than she had learned to use in her long recovery, he never pushed, simply led and trusted she would follow and felt her body begin to burn with the feeling of pleasant exertion.  Falling into the rythmn she felt her heart and his hammer in time as his chest pressed to her back, and she was very well aware of just what was pressed against her buttocks as their legs moved together in a dance eerily echoing another she had not contemplated since her accident.

 

Arriving at shore, body thrilling with the pleasure of full exertion she had no strength even to stand, and was trying to figure out how to gracefully ask for a pause before trying to get out of the water when she felt his other arm pass beneath her legs and carry her out of the water with an effortless power that belied his graceful form.

“I am so sorry, I knew you were tiring, but I was just enjoying the swim so much I indulged myself by pushing us both.  It is the least I can do for such a lovely dance partner to help you over the fence to my mother’s land.”

 

He carried her up the rough beaten trail to the rough turnaround where her car and a Triumph Stag were both parked.  He settled her neatly on the hood of the Stag, and snagged a towel from the back seat of the convertible to wrap around her.

“Oh my god, this is your mother’s land?  I didn’t know who owned it, but I just knew there was a beach access, and never any people, and I prefer to swim without a lot of people around”

 

His eyes stayed on hers, even as hers darted reflexively to the scars she attempted to hide with the towel, and his eyes smiled easily, refusing to flinch.

“Aye, it’s my father’s beach, but the farm is mother’s.  I am actually supposed to be at a family function right now for Litha, but you know, sometimes you don’t need a lot of people around, sometimes you need to feel the wind, the waves, the sun, the feel of the warm earth beneath your feet, and the feel of someone else moving with the same simple joy of life”

 

Had he pressed closer, she might have feared that was a come on, and been concerned about his intentions, but he stood unselfconsciously, the sun shining on his golden hair, and she saw a faint network of scars covering his body as well, similar to her own in scope, if different in placement.

Seeing her eyes trace over his scars he laughed, and she flinched, knowing her reaction to people noticing her own.
“Ah yes, well when I was younger I took up the sword, so to speak.  There came a time I had to give it up, put it behind me.  I was glad enough to be honest, I would rather work to build a future than burn it down anyway.  I admit I am mostly concerned with wealth management these days, the exciting world of agricultural futures and my own volunteer work trying to do what I can to see that we use some of that wonderful plenty to make sure that the people who need it actually get fed.  Not as exciting as the sword, but the fields and flocks keep people fed after all”

He looked down at his scars and traced them with his finger, he took her hand and she felt herself start to do the same.

“These are like the vines of the rose.  Twisted and thorned, they speak of pain, but if you trace them you see they sing of life, rooted in the strong earth, yearning for the bright sun, and if you trace them far enough you will find such beauty as no gentler flower may know”

Rose vines on fence

 

His own fingers began to trace her own scars on her legs, as her own traced his scars across his chest.

There was a simple joy in discovery for her, as his fingers traced lines of pain and ugliness that she saw imposed over the body she knew, but he taught her otherwise.  She traced the scars of his body and found only life and love, the fierce burning passion of the spring tempered by life and wisdom into the warm heat of summer, the richness of fulfilment, not the mad urgency of spring, but the patience of the long lazy summer afternoon.
Tracing her scars, he taught her to know her hard won strength, to glory in the lines of a power paid for by sweat and tear, to claim for herself the joy of the dance again, in the oldest dance of all.  They loved in the fields, as birds danced and sang, and the fence rose bushes waved in the summer breeze in stately measure as if bowing to the couple who celebrated life renewed under the midsummer sun.

Weaving for each other crowns of flowers, they strode naked to the tree at the center of the field where he showed her the secret burrow of the rabbits that dance here each Easter, and stood beside her as the doe from the edge of the treeline came down to let her stroke its soft flanks, coming to his soft call as if it were not a wild thing.

 

The midsummer passed as they supped in the field from baskets he had brought in his Triumph Stag, and they fed each other with crackers, meats, fruits and cheeses with much laughter, and enough spillage that squirrels and birds were their most dutiful attendants.

As the sun began to fall, he smiled sadly, and told her it was time for him to go, for he was not free to tarry long.  As they returned to their cars, and their clothes, it occurred to her she had never asked his name.  As she turned to ask him, she gazed at him flower crowned, the setting sun behind his head setting his body to glowing like hammered bronze and froze.
“You know my name, beloved one.  You need not speak it, but write it here over my heart and know that you will always be my beloved.”  His voice was too gentle to be a command; but an invitation.
Over his heart she traced the diamond symbol Ingwaz, the symbol of Frey.

Kissing her on the forehead, he took both her hands in his before kissing them as well in parting.

“You have always pleased me, in the dance, and in your life.  A gift for a gift, it was time I reminded you were still my beloved dancer”

 

She followed his Stag into the first turn, but was unsurprised to find that when she rounded the corner on the country road, his car was not there.  Litha was ending, and he could not tarry.  The laughed through smiling tears.  She also had life to get back to, and joy that she had forgotten would again be part of it.

Ingwaz

 

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Faithless Heathen

 

Odin PictureOne of the hardest concepts for me to adjust to when I came to Heathenry was the growing fear that I was doing it wrong, as the deeper into Heathenry I went, the less faith I had.  Now for those of you who are assuming that I was growing to trust the teachings of Heathenry less, or hold our gods in lesser reverence, I think it important to take a second to talk about the definition of faith that we inherit from a Christian European tradition.
Faith, in religious terms is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as follows:
a (1) :  belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) :  belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion

b (1) :  firm belief in something for which there is no proof clinging to the faith that her missing son would one day return (2) :  complete trust

 

There is a clear drive in the Judeo-Christian faiths to accept without questioning, to have faith, rather than trusting the things that you can see, that you can understand and test.  The name Islam means submission, and very much the definition of God Fearing Christian holds the same reflexive belief that human will and understanding, human knowledge and truth are nothing compared to the “revealed” truth of their god.  My understanding of Heathenry is greatly different than this.
The Hávamál has so very many lines about hospitality, about the building and maintaining of relationships, and yet the only line about what is owed that gods is simply it is better not to overdo it[1].  That hardly seems to match with the early Christian upbringing which tells us we have little to no worth, save through submission to God, and that just for existing we require punishment, and owe everything we may possess to God, and should be generous in offering to him, and his collectors at every opportunity.  As I grew older, this sounded more like organized crime, than religion, but the motivational basis was clearly one of appeasement of dread power, rather than anything resembling the reciprocal gifting cycle that a Heathen would recognize.

 

Here it is possibly worthwhile to have a look at the definition of hard polytheist.  A hard polytheist is defined as a person who believes the gods are discrete knowable entities, not all expressions of a single whole.  As a hard polytheist, I accept the gods have actual natures, knowable in some imperfect sense by us, and recognizable to us.  Our gods being discrete knowable entities has real implications in terms of faith.

 

I do not have faith in my grandfather, I met him.  I do not have faith in gravity, I can test its existence and describe in mathematical terms its effects.  I do not have faith in my gods, because I have gnosis, or experience which establishes their existence to me, much the way the existence of my grandfather was established to me.  I cannot have faith, for it is not rejecting the evidence of my reason and senses that is required to praise the gods, for as we deepen in our practice, we see more and more the touch of our Disir, our holy ancestors, the wights of the lands and waters, and the gods themselves in the world in which we live.  We do not turn away from the world to practice our religion, we do not turn away from the world at all.

 

Metaethics is the acceptance of a higher spiritual authority for moral choices.  This is accepted by many religions, and is the source of the word sin.  Sin is defined as disobeying gods will, not doing wrong, but disobeying the will of an entity which may be good or evil in nature, but to which you are deemed to owe obedience regardless of how the act itself might be judged in normal ethics.

We don’t really have that particular definition of sin.  We do have right and wrong, but they are not metaethically derived, but derived from the effects our actions have on individuals, communities and our world.  The Hávamál is not a rule book telling you what is a sin, it is a guideline for troubleshooting relationships and a set of principals that will allow you to operate ethically and successfully.  You will not choose between the ethics given us by the gods, and the ethics we understand from our own internal and societal moral compass, because what is left in the Hávamál is little more than ways to properly define the question or situation, so that you can judge the morality for yourself, and act accordingly.

 

I have heard the criticism that Heathens treat their gods too lightly, and this is a part of the Western European tradition as much as it is of Judeo Christian thought.  The gods of Greece and Rome were quite similar to the god of the Old Testament as far as the punishment for individuals and whole cities who did not offer fast enough, and rich enough, to prove their continued fear and sincere desire to appease the god or gods in question.  This was not a part of the Northern experience, not a part of the lore that is left to us.  There is little of the drive to appease, no body of lore that says the gods are planning to wipe out the entire tribe or city unless we offer richly enough.  I am not claiming superiority to those traditions, I am simply pointing out that while it is built into a lot of the Western European (read Christian/Roman) thought, it was never really a part of our folks fundamental assumptions.

 

God Fearing is a term we can address now.  We do not offer out of fear of our gods.  We do not fear them in the sense that we do not operate under the assumption that they are going to destroy our people or ourselves unless properly appeased.  That is not part of our world view.
We can laugh at the gods, for we do not fear the tribe will be ended if we tell a story, a myth of our gods in which they do something foolish.  Our gods really are great, and do not fear their power is slighted by such tales, and thus we do not fear reprisal for such things.

We do approach them with awe, with reverence, with wonder.  We can and do sometimes face them kneeling or otherwise abasing ourselves because we trust that our sense of worth, and our gods understanding of that worth is not threatened when we feel the need to make an offering of obeisance to one whose gifts, whose power, whose sheer wonder demands from us a gift of worth that we would offer no living man, woman, President or Queen.

 

We are driven to learn about this world, through development of our skills in science, technology, engineering, philosophy, art, history, archeology, astronomy, medicine, ecology and a thousand other disciplines by which we seek to better understand and succeed in this world we inherit and hold in trust.

 

We are given too to learn about our gods.  This is partly the study of the lore, the continual study of ancient archaeology to determine how much of what was once known we can recover, and by the communal and individual practice that makes up Heathen worship, community and at the more esoteric end, spiritual practice.
Again, this does not give us faith, it gives us greater understanding, and a lower requirement for faith.  The first scientists had to accept as an item of faith that the world was explainable through reason.  Those who followed afterwards did not have to accept this as faith, as the understanding had grown already to the point you could use the tools of your reason and senses to see for yourself, requiring not faith but understanding.  Not a rejection of reality to cling to an unproven and unprovable principal, but the acceptance of principals that corresponded to your best testable understanding of the world in which you live.

As a Heathen, I do not put much value in faith, and I do put much value in reason.  I do not put any value in meta-ethics, and expect to make my own moral choices, and bear the responsibility for them.  I do not live in fear of my gods, I do not hold myself worthless before them, nor do I offer to them out of fear of reprisal.

I form a reciprocal gifting relationship with the gods, with the wights, and honestly, with those in my community that I feel are important to me.  I approach my community with love, because for all that I put in, I feel I get back more.

I approach my gods joyfully, reverently.  I trust them, am inspired by them, sometimes terrified by them, and the further and further I go in Heathenry, the less confident I will ever be able to develop a perfect understanding of them, but understand that in attempting it I am developing a much better understanding of myself, and my role in my family, my community and my world.

 

I may be faithless, by the understanding of those outside the community, and many inside it, but I take this as a good thing.  My gods have taught me to trust what I can see, can know, can test for myself.  My gods have taught me that I am the one making my choices in this life, and I had best be doing so for reasons I accept deeply enough to have no regrets.  I gave up my faith for knowledge, my fear for understanding, and reserve my guilt for my actual failings, not for the crime of being born.

I am a lot closer to death now than I am birth, so as I look at that final shore, I am more and more at peace with the understanding I have gained in this life, and find that should that shore be reached tomorrow or twenty years from now, it holds no fear, and at least a little wonder.

 

I thank the gods each day for the gifts they gave me, including the courage to rage at them when my losses are too great to bear, and laugh at them when the world is too ridiculous to accept.  I am a Heathen, and accept that getting it mostly right is about as much as we can expect, and I hope when they bury me that I can at least claim that much.  I expect that I will have provided much fodder for gods, men, and certainly women, to laugh at all through my life, and possibly long after.  At least I had the wisdom to laugh with them most of the time.

[1] Hávamál

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

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe04.htm

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