Aesir, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

The Bet: Does love or gold rule the hearts of women?

 

One morning Freya had been listening to a translation of the newly recovered Hamaval.  In particular she was listening without amusement to Odin’s words on the fickleness of women.  Her ire aroused, the passionate Vanir confronted the one-eyed wanderer and took him to task.

“Your one eye has blinded you, old fool”  Freya shouted with her famous passion “It is the passion of love, not of gold that moves women.  Perhaps in your dotage you meet only those women whose affections YOU must buy.”

As all of Asgard prepared for the second round of their most famous war, the Wise Counsellor laughed deeply and long, his great white beard shaking in mirth.  Odin offered the golden goddess a challenge:

“I will wager a hundred heroes from my hall, that any woman we agree on will chose for gold over passion in the end.”

“Agreed!” Shouted Freya, “No magic from you or I shall sway this, let it only be mortal choice that holds the day.  You may speak only to the couple, nor may you set any other against them, and I will agree to the same”

The couple they agreed upon was an uptight young English woman of good family.  Her name was ancient, and her fortunes vast.  Possessed of a rare beauty and poise, she was much sought after by suitors, as there was no family lord from whom her hand could be bartered, she was free to choose.

Edwardian lady holding white cat, ca. 1920s:

Odin the victory father was watching the young lass (Cassiopeia) carefully.  She doted upon the cats that she kept, and once tossed out a young man for scaring one.  She rode often to the hunt with flare, and kept only the finest blood stock, and mocked other riders who had lesser mounts or lesser skill.  The suitors that surrounded her were the height of fashion, wearing only the best, eating only the rarest and most fashionable of dishes.  Odin saw all of this, and cast his plan.

Freya goddess of passion and magic saw with other eyes a woman surrounded by men obsessed with petty pursuits, elaborately bored with life, and obsessed with the games of social status.  She smiled casting her own plans.

Jonathan was the third son of an ancient family.  Sent to the new world to pursue his fortune, it was expected that the eager but not overly bright lad would take his remittance and stay gone, but to everyone’s shock he succeeded in mining in the Yukon, winning for himself much gold and renown, and returning to a somewhat shocked and bemused family.

Frontiersman II

 

Lacking guile utterly, and with the friendly eagerness of a puppy rather than the elaborate courtesy of the court, he had been corrupted by the loose frontier ways and lost most of his early graces.  His family despaired at finding a match for him, and so set for him the impossible task of Cassiopeia, whose wealth and grace were such that she would swiftly and gently send the half wild boy home to consider more modest prospects.

He began the courting journey sitting upon a well bred horse that he rode poorly; having spent the last years with mules and donkeys rather than high bred horses.  Wrapped in the latest fashions, he held a roll of large nuggets from his claim tucked in belt, and a thick wad of paper money in his tunic.

As he rode, he came upon an old man at the side of the road leading two of the most beautiful donkeys he had ever seen.  He stopped and asked the old man where he came by such beautiful beasts, and the old one eyed gent advised him:

“Only a fool would risk a great lady on a stupid and flighty horse, when a good solid donkey is available.  These fine donkeys are the finest breeding pair in all of Britain, and I bring them to London to trade for a stallion.”

Jonathan saw his opportunity and offered to trade his flighty and overbred stallion for the two donkeys, and began his ride to London.   Everywhere he rode, men and women pointed at him, and he just knew they wished they could be rid of the overbred horses and ride big eared sturdy donkey like he and his wife to be would.

As he rode further into town he saw an old man with selling meat pies.  The smell made his mouth water, and he stopped to buy one.  The taste was like nothing of this world!  He begged of the old man what was this meat, and the old man swore it was cat.  The old man said the Lady Cassiopeia was famed for her cat, but few enough men would eat it, let alone ask for it.  Jonathan swore right then he would be the first!  Riding away, he began to wonder what plague it was that left so many old men with but one eye!

Coming upon an old man standing bare chested in the street, giving his clothes to the poor, Jonathan asked what the old man did.  The old man replied that Lady Cassiopeia had said no thing spoke better of a wealthy man than giving the shirt of his back to the poor, after all they were rich enough to replace it a hundred times!  Jonathan thought Cassiopeia was the best among women, and right then gave his fine coat and shirt, and damnable riding breaches to the poor, determined to out do the other suitors.  Besides, after years of working the gold fields, he was unused to tight clothes and heat, and his massive muscles did poorly in the tight clothes of modern England.

Sure that victory was his, Odin looked in to see how Freya fared.

Freya sat beside Cassiopeia, wearing the guise of a widowed aunt.  Cassiopeia looked at the delicate men picking at the feast, sipping wine delicately while picking daintily at the food, each piece carved to be an artwork itself.  The men talked of the hunt, politics, gossip, and ignored her completely when not competing with each other to out compliment her.  With each she dueled with words and gestures, each weighed for effect in a play more elaborate than any stage, each calculated and bloodless as any card or board-game, with points won and lost in high societies game of status.

Freya whispered to Cassiopeia,

“Do you ever dream of the days when half naked barbarians would sweep in and sweep up a woman not because of her land, or horses, or wealth.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a man who wanted to spend the time with you, not riding to hunt, or playing at cards?   The suitors here all seem soft of hands, without a drop of passion in them, hardly the sort to rip a bodice, nor strong enough to carry a woman off without at least two servants for lifting.”  Cassiopeia just sighed deeply.

Jonathan approached the fine mannor and laughed to see the poor fools had all come in carriages, with not a single donkey among them!  Lace and waist coats seemed the order of the day, and they seemed to be eating pastries. Clearly they knew nothing of women!  Determined to make a good impression he rode his donkeys up the stairs and into the courtyard, hearing the amazed gasps at his entrance.  Seeing Cassiopeia in all her loveliness standing proud and imperious at the head of the table, he slid off his donkey and spread his wide well muscled arms and smiled.

Cassiopeia stared transfixed as her suitors and guests gasped at the heavily muscled tanned gold bearded savage standing in a breach-cloth between the two snow white donkeys.  Her eyes travelled his smiling face, down his tanned and sweaty rock hard chest and to his, frankly, hugely bulging breach clout and gasped.

Seeing she was taken by the obviously fine donkeys, he proclaimed their strength and endurance that she know they were not just pretty, for he was a fine judge of donkeys.
“I swear if you take me as husband, I will ride that ass all day, and still have strength to ride all night”

The men gasped, and some of the maidens swooned; Cassiopeia felt her heart beat faster

Gesturing to the pâté, goose, quail, and beef on the heavy tables, Jonathan remembered the old man’s words about her pride in the cat she served, and the generosity she sought in her men.  Boasting proudly he proclaimed:

“Marry me, and I swear I will eat nothing buy your sweet pussy for the whole honey-moon. I have given my clothes to the beggars in the streets, for with you I will not need them!”

Knowing that women have practical needs, and well pleased with his success in the gold fields, he slapped his breach clout where his rolled up deer-hide held his heavy gold nuggets, and gave it a tug, as frankly the sight of Cassiopeia was making it a bit tight!

Pointing to his bulging underwear, he proudly boasted:

“With what I have in here, you will never want for anything again!”

The assembled suitors were shouting now, the maidens fanning their faces and swooning.  More than a few of the servant girls were eyeing him openly and whispering, but the room grew still as stone when Cassiopeia leapt from her vantage point with a growl that could shame a leopard, tackling Jonathan to the ground in a confused kissing tangle.

One hundred heroes walked from Valhalla that evening, for all the tricks of the Evil-Worker are no match for the passion of youth. The couple lived long, passionately untidy lives littered with adventures and children.   The gods blessed their union and line, for steadfast hearts are the gods true wealth.

Donkey Kiss

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Freya: Modern need, ancient goddess

Goddess Freya true

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

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

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

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

When the gods with spears | had smitten Gollveig,

And in the hall | of Hor had burned her,

Three times burned, | and three times born,

Oft and again, | yet ever she lives.

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

The wide-seeing witch, | in magic wise;

Minds she bewitched | that were moved by her magic,

To evil women | a joy she was.

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

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

Freya Hunt

Who is Freya to us today?

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

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

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

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

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Current events, Uncategorized

Disabled Veterans: Who stands on guard for them?

Who stands on guard for them?

Nithling Justice Minister

In our anthem, we proudly offer the promise, of true patriot love, to stand on guard for thee.  Now I ask the question, for the sons and daughters who take up arms, and stand on guard for thee, who stands on guard for them?

Once it was the Canadian people, for under their direction the government of Canada vowed it would match the commitment of those brave men and women who offered their very lives for their country, that those who suffered loss through that service would be honoured and compensated for their losses for the length of their lives.  Once to offer your life, and come back wounded, was to know that your nation would look after you in life, as you risked your life to look after it.  No more.

 

In a 1917 speech by Prime Minister Robert Borden during the First World War: “The government and the country will consider it their first duty,” Borden said, “to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.” [1]

This is the Canada that was, a Canada that was worth the blood of its sons and daughters.  We stand now at the hundred year anniversary of Vimy Ridge, where the Canadian Army undertook under its own banners and leadership a task the mighty British Army and proud French Army had both undertook and failed.  We stood for the first time not as a child of the British Empire under their leadership, but as a world power, a nation of proud and independent identity.  For the first time we raised our own banner and strode into history by breaking a German defence that cast down the mightiest militaries of its day.  Our newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood at Vimy and spoke thus.

Nithling

“Consider:

The price they paid.

The burden they bore.

The country they made.

Seven thousand and four Canadians were wounded in the battle that began here, 100 years ago today. Three thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight Canadians died.

 

This, from a population, in 1917, of just eight million.

Think of it, for a moment. The enormity of the price they paid.

These were, for the most part, young men in their late teens and early twenties. Not professional soldiers. But they were superbly trained. And supported by months of painstaking preparation.

Yet for all that, they still required courage – to a degree that is hard to fathom.

They weren’t impervious to fear, these men. They were human. Homesick, tired, footsore and cold.

Yet still, they advanced. Uphill, through mud. Under fire. They advanced, fighting like lions, moving just behind a devastating allied artillery barrage.

And they did not stop. They did not stop, until they had victory.”[2]

 

This is the military tradition of my nation, the system that trained my Grandfather in WWII, my father who deployed with the UN to such far flung and unheralded conflicts as the Belgian Congo, and in turn myself.  There was a big difference between the welcome we returned to.  Seven of my family went to the First World war, two returned, and vowed the names of the five who did not live to have sons would be the names of each of their sons in memory. I bear two of those names, as does my father, grandfather, and uncles.  We remember, we keep the covenant.  The two who returned after WWI received parades, as did the three sons and one daughter who returned from WWII, although Great Uncle Ran received instead a name graven on a memorial, and burial in foreign soil.

My father and Uncle Jack who fought in the Congo, like those who fought in Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Somalia, or deployed to any of the thousand war zones our sons and daughters have served our nations in the past generations did not receive such parades; received often open disdain instead.  A military disdained by the Canadian people was told every year since the 1960’s to do more with less.  Our NATO obligation is to spend 2% per year on our military and we have never done so.  We cycle too few people in tired, mostly breaking down equipment into war zones again and again, pretending with a staff of senior officers and banners that we actually have the forces that these regimental banners imply.  We deploy the same bodies again and again, as we don’t’ actually have three battalions of troops per regiment, so we are not rotating actual troops so much as conducting a shell game with banners while much of the gear and senior non-commissioned troops cycle again and again through the fire until they are broken.  This is what “doing more with less” translates into.
We sacrifice our sons and daughters.  We use them up, we expend them.  We don’t have the bodies to meet our commitments in a sustainable fashion, so we are forced to do so in an unsustainable fashion.  Our sons and daughters step into the fire again and again, because that is the greatness that built this nation.  That excellence burns in the hearts of our best and brightest, and these are what we are breaking through our careless belief that these political games that allow politicians to make great promises without actually spending any money on increasing the ability of a force that has not been supported properly since the 1950’s.  The politicians spend the blood of our children, because its cheaper than tax dollars in the budget.

Now they want the blood for free.

Afghanistan saw a return to the Canadian people being proud of their soldiers, but the Government that sent them there, Steven Harper’s Conservatives argued that Sir Robert Borden promising to care for Canadian war veterans for life was just a politicians promise, only an election lie, and not something the Government of Canada was actually bound by.

Highway of Heroes

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party platform in his election platform stated:

 

“Our servicemen and women, who have put their lives on the line for their country, stand for the very best of what it means to be Canadian. For many, their commitment has come at a high cost. During our mission in Afghanistan, for example, 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces lost their lives, with thousands more wounded or left suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, our brave women and men are stationed in conflict zones, including Ukraine, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing their expertise as trainers, peacekeepers, in combat and in disaster relief, among other areas. We have a social covenant with all veterans and their families that we must meet with both respect and gratitude.

 

For a decade, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have dishonoured us all by failing to uphold this sacred obligation. They have not been truthful to, or respectful of, our veterans. They have laid off hundreds of frontline support staff and closed nine local service offices – making it even harder for veterans to access a vital support system that the Auditor General already criticized as “complex and time-consuming.” Veterans who need crucial mental health services are waiting months, even years, to get help. Harper even left over $1 billion budgeted for veterans’ services unspent.

 

A Liberal government will live up to our obligation to Canada’s veterans and their families. We will demonstrate the respect and appreciation for our veterans that Canadians rightly expect, and ensure that no veteran has to fight the government for the support and compensation they have earned.”[3]

 

Talk is cheap.  So are the promises of the Canadian Government.

 

Once in power, the “Right Honourable” Justin Trudeau reinstated the Harper governments stance.  Justice Department lawyers arguing for the government stating in court “the government is required to give disabled former soldiers only as much as Parliament chooses. It also says the principle of the “honour of the Crown,” which requires the government to act honourably during negotiations and upon which the veterans relied in making their case, applies only to agreements with aboriginal people.”[4]

 

The lawsuit in question is not actually asking for veterans to be looked after in any special fashion.  The lawsuit in question is raised by Veterans who are asking for their permanent disabling injuries to be treated the exact same as any other workplace injury, through the same formula the Workers Compensation Board would set for any workplace accident.
Understand this: the position of the Canadian government is that the bodies of our soldiers are the only worthless ones in this nation.  Any civilian who is permanently injured through work will be covered for life, only those who undertook the defense of their nation can be screwed over with a one time payment far below what you would get if you got the same injuries on a construction site, in an accident as a bike courier, or burned at Starbucks.

Those young men and women who “Stood on guard for thee”  as it says in our anthem, who stands on guard for them?

 

Justin Trudeau, I name thee nithling, honourless oathbreaker.  You have broken faith with those whose service has defended the country and the citizens you lead.  Under your orders they stand into danger, under your orders they bleed, they are crippled and they die, and under your aegis this sacrifice is nothing but an opportunity for a sound byte, an uplifting speech given to your adoring press corps, and certainly not worth the attention of a leader to those who have fallen or been injured in his service.

Service folk are bound by their oaths.  They swear an oath of service, and it binds them even unto death.  We are are oath, and our service.  We oath to the Crown and not the Prime Minister for a reason.  The Crown has kept faith with us, it is our elected officials who care only for the dollars they want to spend on politically attractive programs and not on paying the cost of what they do with our military that have failed us.  When a soldier swears his loyalty to the Crown, and to the people of Canada is it an obligation backed by blood and steel.  When a politician promises to care for the soldiers injured or killed in service to that same government, you should understand, it is just a speech, they don’t actually ever intend on honouring it.

Mcpl Paul Franklin

[1]http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Pete+McMartin+Disabled+veterans+rights+matter+justice/10451650/story.html

[2]http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/prime-ministers-statement-at-the-vimy-full-text/

[3] https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/real-change-the-future-we-owe-our-veterans/

[4]https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-owes-veterans-no-duty-of-care-federal-lawyers-argue-in-case/article30465871/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=Referrer%3A+Social+Network+%2F+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links&service=mobile

 

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Uncategorized

Oathbreaker

Freehold Oath Ring

 

There is a funny thing about living in a community for half your lifetime, it takes an outsiders question to really make you step back and look at what has become a fundamental assumption, and force you to think about, evaluate, and define why it has become one.  Let’s start with the question.

“What is it with you Heathen’s and your obsession about oathbreaking?  I mean its not like its something serious like killing someone!”

The speaker came from a different pagan tradition, a Wiccan to be precise, and our stance seemed to be rather at odds with her literal understanding of “an harm none, do as you will”.  The definition of harm is probably at the heart of why we hold the view of oathbreaking that we do, but lets start with the basics.  Rather than say the Wiccan’s are wrong, let us rather say that if the particular wiccan involved looked at the question as we do, they would understand that there could be no other choice than the one a heathen would make, reguarding oathbreakers.

 

New Heathens are quicker to see the power implicit in oaths, than the dangers associated with them.  For this reason, a number of older Kindreds (like our Heathen Freehold) have rules strictly limiting newcomers abilities to swear oaths until they have a more fully developed sense of the consequences.  Oaths have power, both magical and social, both psychological and political, to increase your worth or your standing in our community.  Actually, the power is in no way limited to our community; it is rather that we focus on it more, and understand it perhaps more deeply than other parts of the physical communities we live in.

 

One of the foundations of our interactions as Heathens, both with each other, and with the spiritual world, is reciprocity.  A gift for a gift.  A good portion of the Hamaval devotes itself to the application of this in various relationships of friend, foe, friend of friend, friend of foe.

 

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

And gifts with gifts requite;

But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,

And fraud with falsehood meet.

 

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

To him and the friend of his friend;

But never a man | shall friendship make

With one of his foeman’s friends.

 

You return gift for gift, honesty with honesty, and lies for lies.  Clearly you can deal with those you like, or don’t’ like, as long as both of you can be trusted to keep your word.  If one cannot be trusted to keep their word to you, it is foolish to be honest with them, as you can only be harmed by offering truth knowing you will receive only deception in return.

 

The question of which is more serious murder or oathbreaking is a key question, and one Heathens might answer differently than most, until our arguments are fully expressed.  Murder can kill only an individual, but oathbreaking threatens society as a whole, from economy to security.  Murder can kill only a person, oathbreaking can kill communities, or even nations.

 

Oathbreaking is the giving of a promise, and the failure to adhere to its terms.  We rely on promises to such a degree that we have largely become confused as to what it is we exchange every day.  Currency is a promise of the government to back a piece of paper, or electrons standing as a promise for the paper which is itself a promise, that it stands behind this note for a value agreed upon by its face value.  It is like a cheque, or an IOU.  Nothing more than a promise; an oath.  If you walk into a store and hand over a ten dollar bill and expect to receive food in return, but instead they keep your money and do not give you the purchased food, the contract of sale has been violated.  The implicit oaths that link your labour to your pay to your ability to pay for the things you need have now been broken.  What is the result when your work can no longer be trusted to enable you to buy food, clothing, shelter and the essentials of life?  What is the result of this simple broken promise?

 

If someone walked into the store and shot the clerk, I would still be able to buy food at another branch of the same chain, or on another day.  If the clerk would take my money and may or may not give me food in return, I would not be assured that my money could buy my food, or put gas in my car, or be accepted in return for rent.  Killing the clerk, or killing a customer would take a life, but not threaten the function of society, but the idea that the oaths, the promises, that bind our society together might no longer be honoured threaten to bring down our civilization, our community, our nations.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/amid-cries-of-contempt-harper-backs-bev-oda/article566679/

In Canada, a recent government was caught doing something that in some respects is quite minor, and in others quite major.  A government ministry forwarded a report recommending a grant be given, the minister responsible for this added one word, and then submitted the report to Parliament to vote.  The word was “not”, and it was placed in front of “recommended” turning a recommendation to provide a grant, into a recommendation to deny the grant.

On the one hand, a minor alteration.  On the other hand, this is a violation of the Minister’s oaths to fulfil her cabinet function and report to Parliament the recommendations of her ministry so that the elected representatives of the people can vote with full knowledge of the best information of the responsible government agencies.  In violating her oath of office to change this one word, the vote of every single citizen of Canada was stolen, as their elected representatives did not get to vote upon the actual recommendations of the ministry, but on a lie.  One oathbreaker has effectively stolen democracy from an entire nation.  If you cannot trust that the information reported to the representatives is true, you cannot trust the laws so passed are in fact founded on truth.  This undercuts the foundation required for us to function as a society.

 

The oaths of secrecy, known in the trade as Non Disclosure agreements, or Official Secrets Act, are the mechanisms by which information that is potentially damaging to real people can be shared with those who are required to act professionally in the service to their state, or in business settings, their corporation.  To violate these oaths is to endanger those people whose information was given, or collected, with the understanding that it would be closely held for its sensitive and damaging nature.  If this occurs, such information will no longer be shared, no longer be made available as the risk of abuse begins to become a more immediate threat than the possible benefit of just usage.

 

The medical system, psychiatric system, justice system, child welfare system, education system, banking system, military, and countless other key components of our society would be crippled if we could no longer trust those who collect and work with sensitive information about us.  Murder can only kill a single human being, but oathbreaking kills trust, and trust is what our society actually runs on.

Our money is a promise, our law is a promise, our Constitution is a promise, our representative forms of government is a series of promises.  Oathbreaking does not attack the flesh of our bodies, but the trust in promises.  It is a greater threat than murder, and we treat it as such.  The state tends to label such things as treason, and treat it as the most heinous of crimes for a reason.

Oathbreaking is also inevitable.  Death before dishonour is a fine creed, but if you live for any length of time you will likely find yourself in a situation where what you had promised to do, you will be unable to do.  Sometimes two oaths given independently and in justifiable belief that each could be honoured will be in conflict and you will have a choice BETWEEN which oath to keep and which to break, not if you will break an oath.  Those who accept the cost of those broken oaths and strive to make right what they can will earn back what worth they have lost in time.  Those who ignore the cost of those broken oaths, who continue to make promises they have no intention of honouring are nithling.  The nithling choose to be oathbreakers because they understand that to enter into any contract or bargain with an honest person who will be bound by their oath, as the oathbreaker is not, is to be receiving something in return for nothing.

Heathens grow careful about limiting oaths, and setting specific terms to limit the scope of oaths with this in mind.  Under promise and over deliver is the principal many of the wiser tend to operate under; as it is better to promise only what you cannot fail to provide, and earn honour in bettering your oath, than promise what you hope to deliver, and fall short.  You gain honour for every oath fulfilled, and lose honour for every oath broken.

Heathens are not better people simply be being Heathen, but we are given a really good tool set to use to examine our relationships, our duties, and our actions to enable us to make choices consistent with our ethic.  Used properly this tool set can allow you to live both morally and successfully.  Heathenry provides us tools we can use to make better decisions, to choose to become more worthy people, it does not automatically make us better people.  It does also provide us a fair lens through which to evaluate the choices of others.  It can be as hard recognize that many people we wish to disagree with are actually acting honourably and should be treated as such, as it is to realize that some we have idolized are in fact acting dishonourably.

 

Politician, business partner, romantic partner, or friend; in any relationship that you enter into, it is most important for you to look not at the brightness of the promise that is offered, but the gap between the promises they are known to have given, and the actual resolution.  It is not the brightness of the promise, but how accurately the promise reflects the delivered result that determines who is worthy for your consideration in any decision in your public, private, family or even romantic life.

Trust is as essential to life as air, food and water.  Oathbreakers threaten that trust, and should be viewed as a threat to all we hold dear.

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Uncategorized

Community: Why we are Heathen

Kristi and Bun Bun

This is a hard post to write.  I am good with words, not so good with feelings.  I am good with doing, with deeds and words, but honestly less skilled at what my old martial arts sensei would have called “being”.  This is going to be a problem with this post because what I want to share is about what being heathen means, what it gives to us, what it is we gain by coming together.

 
I am not going to indulge in another round of defending group practice against those who insist that any description of the benefits of group or community practice is an attack on solo practitioners.  The argument is about as valid as saying that any description of enjoyment of eating steak is an attack on the eating of cheesecake.  This is about something you can experience in good group practice, take it as that, or leave it.

 

We came together at Zona’s, and she and her husband were worried as it was their biggest ever ritual.  It is common for Heathens to worry that somehow their hosting will not be up to the standards of the fine events they have guested at.  The amazing thing is that everyone in the community generally feels the exact same, leaving you to wonder what sort of Heathen blinders we have on that are so easily impressed by the offerings of others, and so blind to the worth of our own.  As problems go, that one is amusing more than distressing, and probably says something important about the worth of our folk as we really are quicker to see the worth in the offerings of others rather than our own.

 

Ranging in age from two to well over two-score, with a sprinkling of teens in between, we really were a cross section of the community.  Families and singles, old and young, gender mixed, and mixed by about any other axis you wish to subdivide humanity on; but really just the true face of our community, just people.

 

One of our community has just suffered a deep and personal loss.  Death come without warning to a friend deeply loved, and a pillar of her world.  Others in the community were dealing with other losses, or great changes and challenges.  We are a proud people, and we face our challenges squarely, asking quarter or aid from none.  The virtues of Heathenry cause us to embrace our challenges as opportunities to establish our worth, they instill in us a fierce independence, but it is not the whole of heathenry; far from it.

 

It is said the strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.  So to is it with tribes, kindreds, and families.  We are a community of strong and worthy individuals, but when we come together the truth becomes obvious, that the whole is rather more than the sum of its parts.  The community is not simply a collective term to describe those of us standing around the altar passing the horn to bid goodbye to Old Man Winter, and welcome blessed Easter, whose first step upon the land heralds the coming of spring and the renewal of life.  The community is a living thing, a powerful thing, and place, a frithstead where you may do what you would never dare elsewhere.

 

I have heard the criticism from both the Abrahamatic faiths and the ritual magicians of other more esoteric traditions that all Heathens do is feast and stand around drinking.  That would be a bit like saying that all engineers do is sit in front of the computer all day.  While true on the basis of what physical actions are taking place, it misses the very acts of creation that are the purpose of just sitting there in front of the computer, or the very real acts of creation, healing, sustaining, mentoring, teaching, inspiring, and defusing that are actually taking place.

 

When our member shared of her loss online, I offered only my brief condolences because without being together there are very strict limits to what can be done, and shared.  Grieving is not something that can be entirely done in isolation.  There are parts to grief that require family or community.  Such things are private, bringing a degree of vulnerabilty, a kind of helplessness and exposure far more frightening than any physical nakedness; yet the most powerful and effective tools for draining the most damaging poisons from those inner wounds, and beginning the hard work of processing and healing can most effectively be done in a community or family setting.

 

The dark time of Disirblot behind us where we stood and counted the cost of those we had lost this dark time, where we took up the tools of life again and asked that they be blessed to bring forth bounty again, as we stood in the darkness and want of the winter, and prayed for the spring to return.  We stood at Easter; Ostara.  This is the time of renewal, of the spring and the promise of the returing life.  We stood the old and the young, the bereaved and the new parents, the children on the cusp of becoming men and women and we raised the horn in holy sumbel and offered to our gods, wights, ancestors, and our worthy dead.

 

She who had lost raised the horn to him who had passed, and with that action her wounds broke open and she wept.  We embraced her, for if a person was worthy of love in life, then praise and tears are both worthy offerings in death.  His body is gone, his memory is still bright as she shares with us why it will be ever bright for her, so too will we keep it bright for her.  To be emotionally naked before those you do not trust is dangerous, yet to be so before those you trust absolutely is both safe and empowering.  We share a measure of her pain, and she a measure of our strength.  She can see how we honour her for the honour she shows him, how we accept her offerings of praise, and of tears as not signs of weakness in her, but of honouring the relationship to the one who was lost.  Looking in to each others eyes, hearing our words, feeling our hands upon her shoulders, she KNOWS she is not alone, as we know she has been there, and will be there for us when we have our times of trial and want.

 

We feast and we talk, oh how we talk.  I cannot remember everything I ate and drank, although it hardly seemed we stopped talking a second, our noble hosts were always refilling our glasses, and the pot-luck could have fed easily twice our number and a small pack of wolves besides, so we grazed while we chatted.  Time, like it always does got away from us, and before you knew it, early afternoon was approaching midnight.

Easter Feast
We left to our separate homes and halls, buoyed by the strange energy that comes from Heathen ritual, that odd kind of magic that does not simply fill you with energy but restore your balance so both your mind and body seem almost to forget such trivialities as age, injuries, and the limits which generally constrain us.  There is a rightness that comes from our time together that acts on a physical, emotional, spiritual level.  A sense of belonging, of being a part of this living community, joined in the sight of our gods and ancestors; coming together to offer to our wights, ancestors and holy gods, and very much also for the healing and development of our folk or individual members.

 

Oh, and there were chocolate Mjolnir’s, because even in grief, our worthy woman could not pass up the chance to brighten our company with gifts that please on multiple levels, like little white and dark chocolate Mjolnirs she made herself from molds she found online.

 

Community practice is a living thing, a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, and that gives back more than you put into it.  I really don’t have the words to adequately describe what is essentially felt, more than really understood.  I may not have the words to adequately define it, but I know that this spirit, this heathen community that we build is what drew me long ago, sustains me now, and will be helping others when my ashes are long scattered in the waves.

Chocolate Mjolnir

 

 

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Embracing Failure: Lessons of Frigg

 

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

 

Note the caveat.

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

Frigg and Baldr

 

Why was no one paying attention?

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

 

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

 

No.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Baldur grave

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Heathen, Uncategorized

Ableism, Tribalism, Shield wall and Socialism

 

  1. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,

The deaf in battle is bold;

The blind man is better | than one that is burned,

No good can come of a corpse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ShieldWall.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamaval 71

  1. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,

The deaf in battle is bold;

The blind man is better | than one that is burned,

No good can come of a corpse.

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

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