There is an iron road Those who walk it now Are much loved Yet fare away
I am that now That walks all roads Even this road Of Hel wrought Iron
Laughing they march For age will not mark them They fare ahead For their limbs know no weariness
The river roars beside us Down past the root of the tree White the fog rising from it Cold as the grave
They sing bold songs Vibrant and obscene Their boots ring on bone Crossing a bridge Of the first river That runs over the weapons Of all the world’s wars
Panting, I follow Age has slowed me But a soldier born Will not fail in this Coldest march
The gates open wide before them The dread hound bows his head, She who stands Tall as any two of them Though bent and rotting Of ancient grave Moves her staff aside and salutes The war band’s return
The banner passed the gate Where grey and tattered it feebly waved In sunlit world Beyond the gate of bone and iron It flared in vibrant colour And snapped in unseen wind
As I strode to reach them The old wood staff The witches own Barred my way
“Beyond this gate you shall not pass” The giant witch denied me I raged against her in my pride “Of their company I am by right!” I swore and spoke the truth “No living is of their company now.” Her voice and her staff both barred me
I drew my knife and a bone took up “I own the arts to command the dead, I learned the arts of the hanged one The roads of the tree hanger The dead may not resist my reed.”
Her laughter tattered me Soul, and sight and sense “Your master awaits politely at this gate Not even his sons passed it living, This road ends for you at this gate Not ever will you pass it”
The gate closed against me Weeping I fell at its feet Again they returned to the trumpets Again they returned to the grave And we, their unfallen brethren Must abide In life.
An old man and an attractive woman were playing chess outside the recruiters office. Here in Canada I guess they aren’t that busy, because they had shut down for lunch. I took a seat at the rough iron seat at the table next to the two chess players and determined to wait.
The woman turned and smiled in a way that made my eighteen year old blood rush lots of places unrelated to my brain, and she gave me a long slow once over look before she spoke in a voice soft and warm as sunlight and honey.
“Oh a big strong boy like you, I bet you would make all the girls swoon in a uniform.”
I had a lot of experience with girls, but her voice made me feel like a twelve year old virgin trying to talk to the hottest grade twelve in school. I was saved…
For those who don’t know, Terfs are Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. Basically the feminazi gatekeepers who decide that your plumbing determines whether you get to define yourself as a woman.
Now I am a cis-hetero male, the kind of big, scarred, hairy, meat eating, hunting kind of male that sets most of the radical feminists to making warding signs against evil, the patriarchy, and beards in general. This may raise the question about why I care.
Honestly, what has this to do with guys like me? What has this to do with women who aren’t interested in radical feminism, or don’t really think about the issue much at all?
It’s about the damage we do, and sometimes the people we drive into either depression or suicide because we let these rabid diaper checking buffoons gatekeep genders and sexual identities based on a little bit of flesh they feel they get to pass judgement on.
Here is the problem I have with it.
When I was working my first civvie job, one of our salesmen came down with testicular cancer. He won the battle for his life, he got to go home to his wife and kids, but he lost his balls. At work, suddenly the guys closest to him got scared. A bunch of crude, foul mouthed a-holes to whom profanity and obscenity were ninety percent of any interpersonal friendly communication got dead quiet and their eyes got haunted because they knew that ninety percent of their jokes, the locker room talk they bonded with before, could trigger their buddy into deciding without his testicles, he wasn’t a man anymore, and maybe he should just die.
They were terrified, and didn’t know what to do about it. The 800lb gorilla in the room was the definition of manhood that meant cock and balls, the symbol for courage, ambition, drive, commitment, resolve and every single virtue that makes a man feel any sort of pride were on some level equated with that whole cock and balls.
A few of my buddies from the service had bad times with IED’s on convoy duty and came back short some parts. Legs and arms honestly were less dangerous than eyes and balls. One takes away the world, the other your feeling you have a right to be in it. Should it be that way? No, but the toxic equating of testicles and functioning cock with being a man left those with wounds or diseases that took those away at sudden risk of death by their own hand.
I know the pink ribbons, the pink T shirts, the save the boobs fund raisers are cute, but I have lost count of the number of my friends who have battled breast cancer and only survived because a double radical mastectomy cut away all their breast tissue, and most of the tumours. The loss of their breasts, coupled with the wonderful effects of chemotherapy left them with a body that was about as feminine as a stick, and about as fun to live in as a house on fire.
The thing about Terfs is their biological gate keeping of women’s spaces makes women who have lost their breasts feel like they are getting shamed by these gate keepers who look at them as possible fake women, their description of trans women, and many of them really do believe that without those little bits of flesh, these cancer survivors really are less women than those Terf gatekeepers.
Then we get to the secret shame. The reasons women need to get hysterectomies are varied, and ugly. It is not a fun thing to do, it has huge effects on women, as a major control system got yanked from your body and has effects that really do a number on you, and your self image.
Now we have the Terfs, the keepers of the Red Tent, and all that wonderful all who bleed are welcome bullshit. You don’t have to sit there and demand women prove they have a uterus before they can come into the tent, come into the workshop, come into the discussion. Most of the Terfs will never even know who it was who should have been coming for support and welcome from the community of women, only to slink away in quiet despair as it was made clear that because of that bit of flesh they cut away to save their life, they were no longer welcome.
I am not going to say anything about the transgender experience. I am not one, those that I know who are can speak for themselves and so quite well, but the fight against Terfs is not just about the transgendered, it is about all of those who these self appointed gate keepers of gender spaces make feel both unwelcome and unworthy.
This has to stop.
This gatekeeping bullshit is costing us people. They stop coming to their community for help and support in their time of need because we let these male and female diaper checkers screaming that if you don’t have the right kibbly bits you have no right to call yourself a man or a woman, you have no place here, no voice here, and no support here.
We lose them to the quiet solitude of despair, we lose them to suicide, and what do we gain in their place? Screaming idiots who think that what is in your pants, or your bra, determines if you have a right to be a man or woman.
Life is cruel. Life is so much crueler than death I cannot count the number of close friends who have lost to cancer, to disease, to injury, parts of their body that were critical in their definition of self, in their own identity. In the shame, a shame that should not exist, but does because of these gate keeping idiots, they look at what they lost and turn away from their community in the moment they need support to develop a new understanding of who they are going forward. How to be a husband, a father, a mother, a wife, a man, a woman, when the parts they hung their identity on as a teenager aren’t there anymore.
We are not just that bit of flesh. My manhood isn’t just in my pants, or I am not a man at all. Those men and women who have lost the parts of themselves that are their primary and secondary sexual organs are no less a man or woman than they were before. They are survivors, they bear the scars of their losses, but where you could bear the loss of arm or leg with pride, the shame of losing those parts somehow makes too many think they do not deserve to be in our spaces, in our rites, in our discussions anymore. Those who most need our support during this transition are denied it because of the Terfs and their equivalent in the male community who think that the sum total of manhood is the ability to ejaculate.
We need to do better.
Start with turfing the Terfs, but moving forward, we have to stop confusing biology with identity. You don’t lose your standing as a man or woman of our community because you survived losing a few pounds of flesh. I am tired of losing people because Terf’s are unwilling to accept this.
Hail to she of silence Hail to the two faced goddess Grim rotting face of horror That the living fear and shun
Hail to she of silence Hail to the two faced one Pale face of infinite mercy In steadfast eternal watch
When the chains of flesh make prison When the mind and soul are torn It is she alone who is with us To welcome us at her door
For all we beg her to pass us For all that we curse her name She never strays from her duty She who ends our pain
Though we rage at her in denial Denial we prayed for the end On her our shame is written On her our guilt makes no stain
Hail to she of silence For two faces judge not what they see For the horror she is to the living And the mercy that the dead only see
Hail to Hel, goddess of our dead. In this month I have seen you take my beloved uncle and respected father in law into your halls. You have offered the final mercy to those whom life had visited every indignity, every cruelty, every theft of power, grace, agency and freedom. For all that we rage at you, for all that we curse your coming, and beg you to pass us by, at the end you remain the unbroken promise, the truest of all, the most faithful. You alone are so steadfast in your duty that no matter who rages against you, your mercy remains, your hall opens, and a welcome awaits those who welcomed and those who feared such passage in equal and judgement free resolve.
She is the two faced goddess, the face she shows us is both indescribably horrific and impossibly graceful. Such is death. A wound beyond reason, a terror beyond understanding for those who bear the loss, but the final and promised mercy and release for those whom life has broken, and left in the rotting prison of flesh they can neither command nor escape.
Since we are entering the time of year when certain emotionally and mentally stunted morons decide that Halloween is time to do bad things to cat’s it is time to remind you that there are things to be feared in the dark, and those watching whose attention you do not want to draw; not at this time of year.
Lisa was a bright and studious girl, who was just established in her own apartment for the first time. A junior at University of Victoria (UVic), she rented a room at an old house just off campus that was subdivided to make six mini apartments for students. They shared a kitchen and untidy communal living room, but her room had space enough for a desk, bed, bookshelf, mini-fridge, and litter-box for Amber.
Amber was Lisa’s cat, while she was the families cat in theory, he had lived in Lisa’s room, been cared for, and walked (you can walk a cat if you are determined enough), by Lisa every day, and when Lisa left home, Amber and Lisa simply accepted it as a fact that they would leave together, and so it was.
On the corner of Lisa’s desk was a small alter and offering bowl, every day she would pour out a measure from her first coffee to Freya, goddess of magic, passion, and she had decided the patron of those seeking degrees in education (teaching=herding cats). She also left offerings at the battered garden gnome at the front door, for the house wights. She was pretty sure that Aiko (the Japanese girl) was doing the same.
Friday morning she got dressed, threw on a hoodie (UVic Vikings) against the fall chill, and snapped on Amber’s leash. Off to the local Bolshevik-Bean, with its tattered red star and fading Che Guevara poster, she ordered her week end treat of breakfast wrap and Pumpkin spice latte with extra whip. Amber patiently awaited her share of the whip cream, while rumbling a happy approval at the all-organic actual whipped cream the hippy owners insisted on. Across the café, one brooding boy observed the girl and cat with a smile that had much more cat-cruelty than anything human.
He was not young, unlike the bulk of the clientele being neither student nor staff of UVic, but a local worker at the video game store. He wore a Satanic T-shirt and inverted pentacle, bore a sloppy mixture of tattoos of various arcana, from Celtic to Egyptian, wearing a short goatee and fierce glare that clearly intended to shock or challenge. This effect was clearly lost on a crowd of busy college students who hailed from a number of faiths and ideologies whose happy clash was the norm for the University and faded into the background, unnoticed.
His name was Greg, but he had begun to go by Stavros, because he felt that was far cooler, and was truer to his own nature which he felt was dark and powerful. Through years of social rejection from peers that didn’t get his interests he had decided he was deeper than other people, and when his fascination with the dark, with atrocities and need to continually shock others caused those in the gaming communities to reject him, he turned to magic. He had tried the local pagan communities, and even the local Satanists, and all had rejected him. They were afraid, all of them, like that little bourgeois feeding her cat across the way. She was pretty, but wouldn’t look at him twice. He sneered, he decided he had a use for her, and her cat would help him get it. Laughing, he finished his coffee and waited for her to leave. He would follow to see where she lived.
Leaving a small piece of her morning wrap at the garden gnome, for the house wights, Lisa traded cat for laptop and binder, scratched Amber behind the ears, and asked her to guard the place for her until she returned. As she left Amber bathing herself in the window, she noted the “creepy guy” from the game store was on the sidewalk out front. Funny, she had never come this way before. Thinking little of it, she ran to catch the bus into campus.
Stavros waited until the little student bourgeois all left for the drone academy, and went to the old window that the cat was in. Knowing the old houses, he used his belt knife to push the lock on the window open, then forced it open. The cat hissed and backed away. Having heavy work gloves on, he grabbed the cat, and stuffed him into the gym bag, and zipped it quickly up. Now he had what he needed for the full moon tonight. A little bit of blood, and he would get for himself the fear and respect he deserved! These bourgeois children knew nothing about real power…..
When Lisa got home it was almost dark, and her room was bitterly cold. Her room had been robbed! Her iPod and charger will still there, her electronics were all there, only her alter had been disturbed, as if Amber had retreated to it, and been taken from it. Her Freya statue was broken, and her offering bowl was chipped. Amber was gone! Who would steal a cat, when the SPCA had so many? Anyone who would give a good home to a cat could get one, so why break in and steal it?
The police were little help, with nothing stolen, and with no known enemies to question, the only thing they could do was give her a complaint number, and add to her fears. Before they left, the police told her that some “sick freaks” like to kill cats as part of that “black magic and shit” they said while pointing at her little alter. Too shocked to be insulted by the police implications that her Freya alter was black magic, she suddenly had the fear that someone might have taken Amber for the purpose of hurting him. There were, after all, people the SPCA would NOT give a cat to after all.
The whole house having searched the neighborhood, and put posters up of Amber on the nearby telephone poles, Lisa returned home dejected and scared. Amber was gone, and there was nothing she could do. She stopped at Bolshevik bean to get her nightly pumpkin spice, but hadn’t the heart to drink it without Amber. She stopped at the garden gnome on the way into the house, and poured the whole coffee and whip onto the stones. She looked up into the night sky, at the rising full moon and asked Manni the moon to watch over her cat, Amber, then she begged Freya to see Amber got home safely. Normally Lisa was careful not to do magic, or curses, or to ask the gods for anything that could harm another person, as she was very uncomfortable with how her father and his army friends were so quick to see violence as an answer; but the thought of Amber being taken to be hurt angered her. She concluded her prayer thus: “Great Freya, if anyone sheds one drop of my Amber’s blood, I hope they frigging die!” Lisa went inside to cry herself to sleep. Outside in the night, three neighborhood cats came to lick the foam from the gnomes offering bowl, and the moon shone down white and cold above the now empty bowl.
Stavros didn’t like research, it was way too much work pawing through boring book after book either by archeologists who didn’t believe anything, or by fuzzy brained pagans or stoned loser Satanists who believed everything. He watched a couple of horror movies that really struck him though, and through his gaming had found gods that promised power, the kind of power that would make him feared by all the little people who thought it was safe to laugh at him.
There was a big mausoleum in the cemetery. He knew that the graveyard was the right place to do the spell at full moon because that’s the way they did it in the film. There was one mausoleum that looked like a great granite table, supported by four carved stone pillars. Inside were the remains of a few generations of families, but in the moonlight it looked like a black stone alter. He set his candles at four corners, and spray painted his pentagram on the alter. He had written out the spells from the movie; three hieroglyphs that were supposed to inspire fear in men that saw him, lust in women that saw him, and bring him victory over his enemies. According to the movie, you had to draw them in the blood of your victim first, then kill them to make it happen. Of course in the movie, the heroes stopped the priest while he was doing some stupid chanting and praying, so Stavros was just going to do this fast, and get out before a security guard or cop showed up.
Pulling the cat out of the bag, Stavros almost lost the little thing, as it clawed and scratched at him, even through the gloves. Slamming it down against the alter so hard it was stunned, he cut it with the knife he lay beside the alter and started to paint the symbols on the surface of the stone. It was hard with the cat writhing, and the candle and moonlight shifting, and the need to speak his spell at the same time.
“Set god of darkness, by this blood—-stop it you stupid cat— I summon you. Fear in men, lust in women, victory and power I call”
A woman’s laughter seemed to come from all around, and the little cat went very still. The moon light burned clear of the clouds, and Stavros stood in a pool of white fire as the shadows drew back from him. Blinded by the light, the knife gleaming wetly in his gloved hand, Stavros paused as he heard the woman’s laughter getting closer. Set wasn’t a chick, was he?
Four glowing gold eyes gleamed in the darkness. Alternating between high and low as they seemed to flow seamlessly and soundlessly over the coffins and headstones, they were wide set, like large dogs, but slit like snakes or cats eyes. A deep rumbling joined the night, like the growl of jungle cats.
“Fear, little man, I give to you. Lust, little man, I will share with you. Victory, little man, I will work on you.”
A woman strode through the graves with languid prowl, as much like a cat as a dancer. A necklace of amber and gold flashed from her amble cleavage, and her hair caught the moonlight like sunsets own fire. On her hands were gloves of soft fur, like catskin. Left and right, on the headstones leaped great golden cougars. Their ears flat, their fangs gleaming wide and white in the moonlight, their throaty growls now turned his blood to water, and loosed his bladder down his leather pants.
“That is fear, little man. That is first. This cat is not yours, little man. He is mine, and another’s. Tree-Gold and Bee-Gold here are mine as well, she gestured languidly at the mountain lions whose tails lashed in blood hunger and hunt-lust. One who also owns this cat had offered me your life’s blood, should you draw Amber’s blood. Your knife is as stained as your pants little man” She laughed again with the casual cruelty of a cat, and with a throaty purr continued
“Your life is Freya’s”
“Run swift, sweetling, my children like to play with their food. If they don’t get a good run first, they take their time with the finish”
Stavros ran screaming, but in the darkness, the graves themselves tripped him up, and he fell again and again, each time being savaged by one or the other cat, until at last he was slow to rise, and Bee-gold took the killing neck bite. Cooing softly, the golden woman took up the wounded cat.
“Little Amber, let mother see to you.” Moonlight flashed like so much fire upon her necklace, calling sun-colour to moon dark, until it seemed that gold ran down the woman’s arms onto the bruised and bloodied cat.
As Stavros screams turned to broken moans, the cooing of the woman began to be answered by purrs of the little cat, as if his wounds themselves burned away in her light. Setting him down, they walked together to the broken man upon whom the two mountain lions were feeding. With the aplomb of any cat, he shouldered his way between their two great heads, and lapped delicately at the life-wine spilling from his throat. Sharing an amused look the twin lions returned to their mistress to leave their cousin to his revenge repast.
The woman looked up at the bright moon in the sky and said
“I expect you to see him home again. My little friends are less welcome on the streets”
Lisa woke the next morning shivering in the cold. In the night her window opened again, and her beloved Amber was curled up on the bed spread behind her knees. As she took up her beloved pet in wonder, her eyes caught her alter, where her broken Freya statue was somehow restored. Looking upon the blood her cat was happily and smugly licking off himself, and remembering her evening prayer, she wondered….
Wolfslayer unspeaking strides The endless years The watch of the wolf The world to tread Beneath his boot of scraps
Unshorn and silent Brooding and cold The judgment of the gods The twilight killer Among us walks
For all his father hung On windswept tree That mortals should in knowledge grow For all that Thor in endless war Our world defended Howling the human kine Refuse the runes Refuse the lore Refuse the battle But not the cost
Masked and gowned Deep scars in faces Deeper in souls Falling unmorned and unnumbered By lowing kine that only care That their muzzle is free to browse While herd defenders fall Weeping and ignored
Jottun laughter shakes the land Angrboda mother of monsters Rejoices as her children reap The harvest endless Of the children of Ask and Embla
For all the prices paid for knowledge For all the heroism of defenders Count as nothing When comfort excuses killing And ignorance is worshiped as god
When Twilight falls will Vidar speak With the boot of scraps With left overs of the common man Shall the Odinslayer shatter The Victory slayer broken By the leavings of the silent Will the Wolf be slain at last
Kneeling the silent one gathers From janitor, nurse and aid From doctor, coroner, and tech Ten thousand masks Scraps of a war they fought alone Scraps of the forgotten and distained Scraps of faith in a land unworthy Woven into a boot of battles
Forged of a faith hard kept In faithless lands Forged of weaponless warriors In a fight forsaken Will the silent one forge The death of the Hope Slayer From the failure of our days Will he weave a weapon for twilight
The Silent One cannot speak His is the final watch His the eyes that see Those whose hope has died Yet rise to battle still In silence he nods Keepers of the twilight watch But their scraps he will carry To the final day Where words will not suffice And the wolf at last will fall.
—For my friends in the healthcare sector who have to be despairing at the active resistance and outright attack they are facing in the long struggle to keep us all safe from Covid. For those who have lost, who are struggling now, and will yet face this particular monster we could have, should have, and would have already defeated if not for the howling and defiant ignorance of the science deniers, conspiracy theorists, and morons.
Vidar is the Silent One, but while he does not speak, he watches, and the long struggle is his. You are not alone, and your struggle is not unwitnessed.
I was given a challenge, and it seemed reasonable to answer it.
The merchant Iadakus was proud of his bride, Adosina, a high breasted beauty, daughter of an Ostrogoth chieftain of the people with whom he traded dyes and fabrics, spices and steel ingots for the furs, amber, and fantastically ornate mosaics used to adorn small items all the way to sword sheathes, most often to be used as grave goods, with an opulence the most sophisticated Byzantine or Alexandrian magnate would pay any amount to posses.
The older sailors of his merchant ship Marzamemi muttered about the risk of having a woman on board, the younger sailors grabbed their crotches and whispered how long it would be before the blushing bride tired of the old merchant, as it was a long voyage. For two days they sailed along the shore, for the winds were with them.
The third night as they swayed at anchor, the wind began to rise, and the captain was awakened. The shallow draft ship rolled and slipped over the waves as the captain screamed out to the keltuse to beat to quarters. The anchor dragged along the bottom and snagged on a reef, dipping the stern of the galley until the sea threatened to roll over the decks.
Iadakus struggled to get to the cabin door, his young wife Adosina helped to keep him from falling as they struggled onto the deck. The Byzantine captain screamed at his men to cut the cables and free the ship to run before the wind.
The waves hammered the ship, the aft rising high enough the steering oar would not bite, and the ship rolled on its beam as it was broadside on the waves, the tarred ropes howling and screaming as they strained. Fortune favoured them, and the heavy bow with its bronze ram dipped the nose and plowed deep into the trough of the wave. The ship groaned and boards shattered as the ship bent as its spine nearly broke. The slack in the lines when the ship bent left the mast loose, and the wind caught the yards like a giant’s hammer, while the sea clawed like a hungry dragon at the hull, dragging it the opposite way.
The mast snapped and came down shattering the port rail and carrying six crew into the sea. Adosina joined the sailors as she picked up an ax rolling loose upon the deck to hack upon the lines on the fallen mast threatening to pull the ship over as it dragged behind the dismasted galley.
Dawn found them dismasted and far from the shore, the sky dark and wild as the winds howled in the distance to all sides, whipping the seas beyond the azure of the sleeping Mediterranean into the white of the seas fangs bared to its prey.
It was then the young sailor who had been grabbing his crotch at the sailing, looking at Adosina and dreaming of her growing bored enough with her older husband and lonely for a young sailor, who looked over at her now. Dress pressed tight to her body, soaked in sea water, her hair loose and wild in the wind, the axe used to clear the lines and shattered rails in the storm tossed night now loose in exhausted hands. Fear covered his face, for he knew they were in the eye of the storm, and every path onward was back into its teeth. A landswoman, she only knew the sea no longer raised their ship to the sky and smashed it down with every wave. She smiled, a hopeful smile, taking joy of survival hard won. The sailor saw her smile and his fear turned to rage. He pointed and screamed.
“Her fault! It is her fault. We took a woman on board and the sea she grew jealous. She will take us all if we do not cast her out!” The sailor screamed.
The men growled and turned to circle her, she backed towards her lord husband. He reached down and took the axe from her hand and smiled. She turned back to face the approaching sailors, and did not see her merchant lord husband raise the axe, and bring its haft down on her head.
They bound her hands, and she kicked out at them. Wrapping her legs in anchor chain, they swore she would go down to the bottom to the sea so she would no longer be jealous. Adosina raised her eyes and begged her husband to defend her, that she was a good woman who had fought all the night along side the sailors to save the ship. To her husband she begged, “You promised on our wedding that you would take me to distant shores, will you break all your oaths to me?”
Two sailors stirred and began to argue this was true, but the captain reached down to grab her mouth and with his dagger cut out her tongue.
“She is a witch, she tries to beguile us. Let her be silent until we give her to the sea. She will beguile no sailors.” The captain swore.
Adosina’s husband sneered at her in fear forged rage and imitation courage. “If I let you live, I would not see the farther shore, so I give you to the sea.”
Legs bound together, she fell into the sea. Clawing at the surface, she could only fall deeper into the cold and dark. Her mouth opened, tongueless and breathless, she could not scream, but she raised her arms in entreaty at the men who had betrayed her.
Down beneath the wild white water of the seas rage, down past the blue of the sea’s peace, down into the black of the sea’s hunger. It was there that she found a giant.
Hair flowed like a crown around a face so white it shone. What colour was it? Green of kelp, black, who could say. Face proud like a queen, cold like the mercy Adosina had been shown, eyes black and pitiless of the sharks that turned in lazy circles about her. Hands the size of a man’s torso reached out to cup Adosina, and the howling panic of the last of her bubbling breath fell away.
Blue human eyes staring into black eyes some called divine, but most spoke of only in fearful whispers.
The voice of Ran echoed in the deep, gentle as the faintest whisper the fiercest storm barely raised down here.
“They gave you to me child. As if I cast my nets for one who has never strode a deck, never taken of my bounty and given nothing in return, as if you were the one who came as a thief to my realm. I took my payment of them and let them go. Their chance to offer to me was when they sailed. Yet, they give you to me.”
There is no way to cry in the sea, but Adosina tried. She had no voice, no husband, no hope and no home, now even death was denied her. The same spine that drove her onto the storm tossed decks to take up axe and battle the storm caused her to raise her eyes and glare defiance at the cold white face of black eyed Ran of the deeps. Wordlessly, breathlessly, she screamed her rage.
Far above, the sea whipped white and the sky’s answered in lashes of lightning and howling wind as Black Ran laughed.
“You please me, daughter. Would you serve one who will not toss you aside, for what I catch, I keep?” Ran asked. Adosina nodded.
Ran stroked the chain bound legs, and the bronze chain fell from them.
“They took your legs, that you never be free. I will give you legs that will make you ever free in my kingdom.” Ran sang softly. Fish like scales the colour of the verdigris and bronze ran down Adosina’s legs, and those legs fused together into the seamless lateral tail of a whale.
Brushing the torn clothes from her torso, and the bindings from her hair, she let Adosina float free, beginning to swim under her own power in the cold and lightless depths.
“They thought I feared your beauty, when it was their own fear that could not face the sight of it, so do not hide your beauty for fear of their eyes or their ownership any more.” Ran whispered softly, her eyes catching the sad blue eyes of her newest daughter.
Lastly she bent her great head down and kissed her daughter lightly on the top of her head.
“They took your tongue, and took your voice, for fear you would entice and bewitch them. Thieves upon my oceans, oathbreakers and woman killers, they sought to silence you and in my eternal silences to hide their crime. Daughter of mine, I give you back your voice. I give you my song, the song of the sea, the endless hunger of the source of all life, the endless hunger of the silence and cold that drowns every scream and waits to drag down the bones of ships and sharks and bones alike.”
Adosina raised her head, and opened her mouth. She sang, and for miles around, every shark and ray turned and swam to her call, while above the black depths, the sea boiled white at her call.
Ran looked upon her daughter and smiled.
“Will you stay with me child, in my waters. Will you seek out the men who trespass in our realm, and seek to use us so lightly? Will you use the voice they stole and I restored to call them to the death they promised you?”
Adosina smiled, and shot towards the surface, seeking the sun and wind, the surface of the sea upon which the ships of men sailed, and upon which the magic of mermaids waited to be made.
They say that Black Ran casts her nets for the men who work the sea, dragging their living from her bounty. They say that she is a jealous goddess, yet these are but the words of men. Such men who have turned her seas to red with the murder of their own hands, who have struck from the sea and treated the women they found as little more than loot to steal, may well have told only such of the truth as they chose to face.
They say the mermaids haunt the seas, whose voices call the sailors and tempt them to watery embrace and death, or whose songs call call the ships themselves to doom upon reef and rock. What could drive such womanly spirits to such wrath, or the sailors to such fear, who can say?
There was a time I had a choice Young and strong with naught but dreams Twas then the old man Spun a tale and weaved a song My foot unthinking took the dance My hands upon the weapon closed
I followed into fire and shot Thinking the danger to my front Yet the song was in my soul The weaving of my step Through blood and fire To tree was bound And bound and bound
Young and strong with naught but dreams Did the old man whisper in my dreams Secrets of life and truths of death Would I like to learn to sing The songs of madness Songs of truth His face a grin his fingers swift The rope he guided me to weave
I followed into song and verse To weave the truths no words can hold Of loss and learning Of illusions death Of rising when no hope remains Unknowing to the tree was bound And bound and bound
When to the tree at last I came I found him there Beside my grave A rope was in his hand Of my weaving every strand And to the tree he bound me fast And bound and bound
The old man laughed And let me swing Choking on the truths I learned I took them up And with them burned I wept then for the cost But to this tree I was always bound And bound and bound.
The twisted paths that I had trod Were mine to chose By strand and strand With arts of healing Arts of war With songs of glory With magic wrought This noose I wove This path I trod Was always to this tree I was bound And bound and bound.
There is something about getting up in the morning, letting your mind begin the daily sort of priorities, that which you must do, that which you should do, that which you want to do, and that which you are pretty sure you can ignore because when is the last time you got to the second list, let alone the fourth?
There is that feeling where you measure yourself against what you must do for the day, then turn to face your mirror, take a long hard look at what you see and come to the conclusion you aren’t good enough.
Now I can hear a lot of people already starting the whole “don’t downtalk yourself” thing, and they have a point. A good one. Your superego is your unconscious understanding of yourself, but it is sort of a weighted average of all the snapshots of your ego, what you consciously think of yourself, that you have stored over time. From that point of view, they are right.
There is a problem with getting older. The rah rah stuff that used to fire you up and motivate you, the cheerleader optimism that used to power you through all the doubts starts to get less effective as you get older and you start to keep track of the number of times everything depended on you, you can’t afford to fail, insert whatever line in the sand you use on yourself; and you failed anyway.
Not being allowed to fail, and your chances of succeeding are not actually related. There is a relation between not allowing yourself to fail and giving up, but it isn’t always about you. The world is a stone cold dream killing bitch that does not care who is in its way when it passes through.
Many times you needed to find more inside, it wasn’t enough. This means that those inner cheerleaders pom poms are pretty threadbare, and the inspirational memes are as likely to draw really negative memory loops as positive feelings.
Looking in the mirror, and making the sober assessment, you are not enough is a wonderful place to be, for those of us worn down, stripped of most of the feel good illusions and having brutally lost every traumatic virginity of loss and failure. It is because it is the state that we can use to plot an attack that is not based on some superhero fantasy of if we just want it badly enough we can win.
This is Odin’s place.
Mr Wednesday is not Mr Happy. He is not the god of sunshine and puppies. Not the god of nobility and trying hard. He is the god of cheating, stealing, charming, creative rule interpretation, inspired work arounds and brutal screw the cost, ultraviolence. Whoops, weren’t looking for the last one? Don’t give the willingness to accept the terrible consequences to achieve all cost objectives as being a bad thing. It is the tool to reach for last, but if you reach for it, swing as hard as you can, for half measures won’t win.
You are not good enough. The voice of Imposter Syndrome. The fear that you are faking it, not deserving of your position, not as good as those in similar positions, not equal to your challenges. Fake.
Good. You are in the right place. Odin’s place.
Odin wasn’t good enough. Liar and thief, traitor and oathbreaker, unmanly sneak who cast aside even his manhood to get the magic he needed. A less impressive figure you could not find in all mythology. He does not give a shit. He isn’t the god of glory, not the god of masculinity, he is the Victory Father, and his path is neither pretty nor clean. Pretend otherwise at your peril.
Odin made a mistake long ago, he traded an eye for knowledge. What he saw was what was coming. He saw what was coming when no one else did. There were worthier gods, but they lacked the wisdom to see what was necessary. There were stronger gods, but they were not willing to admit that strength alone was not enough. There were wiser goddesses, but they were not willing to sacrifice enough to save what perhaps, only perhaps, they could. There was only him, and he was not half enough for the job.
He set out to steal what he needed. He lied, charmed, seduced, and stole what he needed for inspiration for himself and for the rest of us. He dressed as a woman to learn the magic of women because he needed it more than he needed anyone’s respect for his masculinity. Victory Father, not alpha male, no shits given for appearance, no care given for reputation, or origin of his skills. Whatever it takes to win, because no one else is doing the job.
He wasn’t good enough for the job, but the job is there, the doom was coming and no one else was stepping up. He wasn’t suffering from Imposter Syndrome, he was the first Imposter. He was the Fake King, the High Fraud. The father of lies, the first being that you should trust him. Even he doesn’t trust him. Trust this, he is not planning on losing.
Hanging on the Tree, he proved there was substance to his lie. He was not the Allfather by right, he was not as noble as Tyr, nor as strong as Thor. He never will be as frithful as Frey, as wise as Frigg, nor as truthful as Heimdall, yet there is this, he has never waivered from the goal he focused on. He will steal, sacrifice, or study to learn whatever he needs to, so that he may become the equal to his task.
He is the fake, the fraud, the imposter who leads us forward towards victory. Victory he cannot see the path to, does not have the tools to craft, but plots point by point to steal, earn, learn, barter or build what he needs along the way so when he gets there he can win. Not survive, that one was never an option. He was not the god of self care, he was the Victory Father.
Look into the mirror and see you are not good enough. You are a fraud, a fake, not equal to the tasks ahead. You don’t know enough, aren’t strong enough, don’t even see a path to victory.
He gave the eye, that knowledge could be stolen of what comes. He hung on the tree, that we can have and share knowledge with each other and stand on strength not our own. He betrayed Gunlod to steal the mead of inspiration that we may find the paths where none existed, to survive the prices we have to pay. He taught us the laws of hospitality because we are never going to be equal to these challenges alone, we need each other, grow stronger with each other, and because together we are more than we could ever be alone, draw substance from those who stand with us to make the fake a reality.
You are as fake as he is. Think about that. He is perhaps not the example we would wish, not the example we deserve, but he is the example we have. The Victory Father, the first imposter, the lie made truth.
We don’t really fake it until we make it, we fake it until we make ourselves the person we needed to be to finish the job. We were fake at the start, but we may well be real at the finish. If the task needs doing, and falls to you, what choices do you have but to walk Odin’s path and find your way to Victory.
On the way you may find more wonders in yourself, and more strength in those around you than you dreamed. Still don’t trust him all the way; that eye has zero remorse, and you were warned coming in.