Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Swastika and Runes; Heritage or Hate

There has been a lot of noise lately about the use of runes in the Norwegian Olympic team sweater.  The objection is that two runes are displayed on the sweater, Tiwaz and Elhaz, the runes for Tyr/victory and elk/protection, had been used by the Nazi’s for certain specific groups and programs (leadership school for Tiwaz, and birth/death announcements for Elhaz).

Olympic Sweater

The Norwegian Olympic team is drawing upon its cultural heritage to call for a “Attacking Viking” on the podium, calling upon their team to be motivated in a similar way to Canada’s own “Own the Podium” program.  This is drawing on what is to them, their own heritage as a positive motivational force.  Some wish to point to the fact that the Nazi’s used runes for bad things, and some Neo Nazi groups have latched on to various runes for their own mis-use, but in no way have any of the runes ever been known commonly and only as symbols of hate groups.  There is a legitimate use of these for the Scandinavians as cultural symbols.  Yes, some racists will continue to try to steal the glory and worth of the symbol for their own perverted uses, but it is clear they are trying to pervert something they don’t own.  The runes are a part of our heritage.
The Swastika is different.  We lost that one.

 

The Swastika was used by Neolithic Indo-Europeans, Vedic Hindu and their offshoot Buddhist cultures in antiquity as a symbol of sun/luck/good fortune.  It was not a major cultic symbol during the timespan our surviving lore was collected and had very limited use in the rediscovery of the faith itself in the last century.

 

The Persians, Hindu, Buddhists continue to use some form of the swastika even today, but then again, they did not experience the horrors that this symbol came to represent in WWII, so in their cultures, it maintains a small, clean, almost forgotten niche; whereas it has burned into the hindbrains of the sons and daughters of Europe and North America.  It had been forgotten by Europe, by the turn of the last century, and it was exhumed in a most terrible way, and for a most terrible purpose.

It was however identified by the forefathers of racial identity politics in Germany.  The groups that began the movement that would culminate in the rise of the Nazi party associated the Swastika from their very beginning as a symbol of their political/racial identity, a symbol of the pure German Folk-soul.  This was a symbol to them of the very doctrine of racial purity that would be the drive behind the greatest crimes of the Nazi party.

 

Adolf Hitler adopted the Swastika for himself and the Nazi party from its inception.  He made it the symbol of his vision, and for the first time, it became synonymous with a single political ideology, a single philosophy.  This was not the worship of Sunna, the life giving sun.  This was not as a symbol of life and luck, prosperity and fortune; no this was a very clear and defined thing.  The Swastika was the symbol for the vision of a pure German Race, united under fascist rule, with a racial destiny of conquest and rulership of all lesser races.

 

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote:

 

“I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle. After long trials I also found a definite proportion between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika.”

 

The Swastika went from being something a handful of obscure scholars could argue about, to being a household name, a symbol whose ownership, provenance, and purpose was known by all, both those who supported it, and those who opposed it.  Never has any symbol been more clearly defined for eternity by the deeds of a single generation.

Those deeds would be soaked in the blood of tens of millions of innocents, by the blood of innocent Germans first and foremost, but the blood letting would spill across all of Europe, Afrika and half the seas of the world.

 

In the generations since the Nazi’s were defeated, the swastika has been taken up again and again, not only in Europe, but on our own shores.  This has not been done by Heathen groups quietly practicing their faith, and the honouring of the sun goddess, but loudly in the streets by White Supremacist groups espousing the racial hatred and violence that marked the rise of the SA/SS Nazi street thugs in 1930’s Germany.

It is clear that the Swastika is most commonly invoked not by those who wish to worship the light and life giving sun, but those who wish to worship hatred and the blood soaked racial purity visions of histories most blood soaked madman.

 

There are groups out there who like to talk about “reclaiming” the swastika, about “taking back” their cultural heritage.  These groups often have cute little version similar to the Swastika enough to evoke its spirit, but far enough away to allow plausible deniability.  These groups also generally use the same folk-soul language and racial destiny language that you can read about in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the stirring speeches written by Goebbels, and the propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl.

Those who are taking up the Swastika now are very much carrying on the vision of the Nazi party, and those working to “reclaim it” are either innocent dupes, or far more commonly, very cold calculating propaganda masters, with an overarching vision of transforming the identity of European descendant peoples through the conscious reshaping of national/cultural symbols and faith.  This is the vision that gave us the success and the crimes of the Nazi rise in Germany, and we saw in the breakup of Yugoslavia that its modern adherents look to the same methods to achieve the same results.

We cannot, must not, and by all the gods shall not, remain silent and see such things happen on our shores.  The Swastika is tainted for all time.  It will never be clean again, it has been successfully coopted by the dogma’s of hatred, by the blackest desires of humanity for power-through-fear, and will forever serve as a loadstone for evil.

I will support the continued battle to take back the runes from those who would miss-use them, for they are ours and I will not permit their loss to racist scum.  In the same breath, I will sadly say that the Swastika is lost to us forever.  It is now and for all times a symbol of evil.  The first and only time it rose to burn into the consciousness of whole nations, and the whole world it was as a symbol of knowing and deliberate evil.  This has changed its meaning for all succeeding generations.  The Swastika is about hate.

Stop serving the ends of racist scum by attempting to cover their pathetic attempts to dress up their evil as anything related to our culture, or our faith, by letting them spur you on towards “rehabilitating” the swastika.  The only purpose this would serve in this, or any foreseeable generation, is empowering the rise of this known evil another time.

Tearing Swastika.gif

https://globalnews.ca/news/3997432/norway-olympic-sky-team-symbol-nazi/

https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007453

 

 

 

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Asatru, Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister and Traitor

There are few greater charges in Heathenry than Oathbreaker.  Few greater crimes to any soldier or citizen than Traitor.  Yet, we who have served as soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces, have offered our bodies and our time, our blood, sweat, tears, and entrusted our honour to the direction of Canada’s Prime Minister and Parliament, have found that we have given that service not to the Right Honourable Prime Minister, who stands in service to the Canadian people for the honour of Her Majesty the Queen, but we have instead been expendable resources in the service of a liar to whom oaths, duty, loyalty, honour and law are only things that make pretty speeches, and earn poll points, not actual pledges that must be obeyed, or binding agreements.

 

At the 100 year remembrance of Vimy Ridge, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau stood on the field in which thousands of Canadians bled and died for their nation

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/vimy-ridge-battle-100-anniversary-wrap-1.4062848

 

Trudeau’s speech at Vimy Ridge

 

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

 

They paid in full.  In WWI, on Vimy Ridge, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought for the first time under their own leadership and direction, and did what no other nation on earth could do.  We broke the Germans at Vimy Ridge, and won our place in the sun as a great nation, no longer a British Dominion, but a nation with its own seat at the international table.  For this Canadians have paid in blood in every generation.  68,000 dead in WWI, 47,000 dead in WWII, over five hundred in Korea, and over 1800 dead in various peacekeeping operations world wide since 1947 (excluding Korea).  The wounded tend to outnumber the dead about three to one, counting only physical wound based trauma.

 

Lord Borden, Prime Minister of Canada during the First World War, the campaign that would see our finest fighting and too frequently falling, in the mud if Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Ypres, the Somme, gave us two famous speeches.  In the first, to Parliament on the eve of the Vimy campaign he vowed Canadian soldiers

 

“need have no fear that the government and the country [would] fail to show just appreciation of [their] service.” The Prime Minister considered it Canada’s “first duty” to support the troops and he promised them that none would have “just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith” with its men.

 

To be completely clear, as the dead and broken of the conflict mounted into a cost more terrible than any in the history of our nation, or our Empire at the time, the question of Canada’s commitment to its wounded was specifically addressed to Parliament, to the House of Commons, the representatives of the Canadian people, from the mouth of our Right Honourable Prime Minister

 

The “maimed,” “broken,” “the widow and the orphan” would each be protected because, the government re-assured its soldiers, “Duty and decency demand[ed] that those … saving democracy [should] not find democracy a house of privilege, or a school of poverty and hardship.”

 

Not just our wounded, but the families of the fallen would be cared for, reguardless of cost, as they have paid the ultimate price for this democracy, for this nation, and as we love both, so must we match that cost paid in the blood of our finest with the lesser coins of honour, respect, and material resources of one of the greatest and most prosperous societies on earth.

Back then, we had Prime Ministers who deserved the title of Right Honourable.  Now fast forward to Stephen Harper, the Conservative who pioneered the expendable Canadian Solider, who stopped the collection of statistics he didn’t want to answer for (want to know the Canadian Veteran suicide rate? so do we, but unlike the US, no Canadian leader will have to answer for statistics we stopped collecting).

Justin Trudeau during his campaign promised a real change.  In his own words:

“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.”

Justin Trudeau Promise

I name him liar, traitor, oathbreaker.  Those were his words, that was his oath.  These are his deeds.  He took over as Prime Minister, and directed Crown lawyers to battle against Veterans Rights advocates who were demanding the promises about care for our veterans actually be followed through.

A recent PPCLI veteran asked our “Right Honourless” Prime Minister a why his government, rather than honouring the promise of his office, the Prime Minister of Canada, or of his own person when running for office in the last election to see that promise kept, is fighting to break the promise, and not spend what is needed and owed to care for those Canadian veterans and their families broken in service to our great nation.

Trudeau’s answer to why his government opposes Canadian Veterans in court asking for Canada to honour their commitment to care for their own veterans who had been wounded in service to Her Majesty’s Canadian government, acting under the direction and orders of her Prime Minister.  This is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s answer.

Trudeau Oathbreaker

“Because they are asking for more than we can give right now”

 

Those are the words of our Right Honourless Prime Minister

Right Honourless Justin Trudeau

Do not fall prey to the distractions of waving the false flags of the Kadhr payment, or this or that pet project, aid package, or social program that one political faction or another wants to link to this issue.  Consider simply this.

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

 

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.”

John McCrae

 

We have broken faith.  Our dead may not rest.  The torch is not fallen from our hands, the men and women who even now put their lives, their skills, dedication and honour as an offering to the great Canadian people have not failed their watch, nor their test.  It is we, we the people of Canada who have failed our defenders.  We failed those who served in their pride and power and came back broken, we failed those who served in life, and fell down into death in the sure and certain knowledge that their sacrifice was not in vain.  We failed those who gave their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers into our service, and received them back either broken, or in flag draped coffins.

The Right Honourless Prime Ministers, in succession from both sides of the political divide pose over the graves of our dead whose sacrifice they defecate on, pose in front of the serried ranks of our proud men and women whose bodies they will expend to buy poll points, and whose wreckage they reguard as safe in the current political climate to ignore, as their polls indicate that outside the month of November, Canadians can be counted on not remembering our politicians had oathed in their name to care for.

They shall not sleep , though poppies grow, in Flanders fields.  In Kandahar,  Korea, Cyprus, Syria, Congo, Kosovo, our dead stir.  Spirits who rested sure and certain that though they fell, they could trust that we who remained would see their brothers and sisters cared for, their dependants cared for, the oath we gave in exchange for their life blood, kept; these spirits stir now for our leaders oathbreaking denies them even their rest.
Shame on our leaders for making it so, but greater shame on each and every one of us, FOR WE LET THEM.  One after the other we teach these leaches that they may break faith with our living defenders, our dead, and those who gave their health and power to our service, and we will reward them for it.
Damn you Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper, and in fact every Prime Minister since Lester Pearson first whored us out for his political prestige.  Damn us for letting you.

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Aesir, Asatru, Current events, Faith, Heathen, Uncategorized

Courage and the draft

Invictus

The world came to Toronto in 2017 to see the Invictus Games.  This is the single most Heathen sporting event in existence, and one of the most important to me.  The Invictus Games celebrate the athleticism, drive, and determination of our wounded warriors, our soldiers who marched away to war in our service and came back less than whole.

More than the Olympics, the Invictus Games celebrates those who have had the courage to overcome, who have dared to meet the harshest blows of this world and to rise again, unconquered, and claim their greatness.

70. It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,
The live man catches the cow;
I saw flames rise | for the rich man’s pyre,
And before his door he lay dead.

71. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.

Our gods teach us that wyrd weaves as it will, there is no judgement in it.  Wounds do not steal your worth, nor do they steal from you the chance to continue to build it.  Wounds are not shameful, but rather the markers of the challenges you have faced in your life.  If you faced your challenge well, then the scars are marks of hard won pride, not shame.

The Celt believed only the whole and perfect man could be King, that somehow a scarred King would wound the land.  The Norse believed almost the opposite; for the accepting of the cost of your service marked you as a man or woman who was worthy of the power in their care.  Odin gave his eye for wisdom, Tyr his hand to show the worth of his word was more than his sword arm, and Thor bears still the millstone in his skull that battle chanced to put there.  There is no shame in bearing wounds, or loss; our highest gods bear their scars and wounds openly, and dare us to do the same.

This is the reality of the warrior culture so many Brosatru miss while swilling cheap beer and boasting of their guaranteed place in Valhalla, based on little more than mead hall boasts and heavy metal lyrics, rather than any deeds of service to the folk.  The reality of a “warrior culture” is the acceptance of loss as a cost of life.

Our whole people lived with this.  Women bore their children in the sure and certain knowledge that many of them would die, and that each birth, they too might die.  Farmers, fishermen, and craftspeople understood that when they took up their tools, a single mistake or mischance could cost them limb or life as surely as any warrior of the line of battle.

We lost that.  Our medicine has been a boon to us, for which I thank the gods and ancestors every day, but it came with a lie.  The lie that we are immortal, that death and injury are banished, and if they should confront us in our lives with their presence, then we have been betrayed!

We have been betrayed only in the teaching of that lie, and this treason we commit to each generation, making them less able to cope with the hard things wyrd weaves for all of us in our turn.  Loss of a loved one, loss of health to chronic illness, loss of limb or ability to serious injury; some or all of these our children will face, prepared or not.  Our only choice is that last one; do we prepare them, or not?

My middle daughter was the one who was most likely to follow me into the service, as she inherited the temperament I had from my father, and he from his.  This will not be anymore as she suffered a permanently disabling spinal injury when rear ended by a truck.  Just eighteen, and permanently disabled; to what extent, we will not know for a while.

Back Pain

I first encountered life changing injury during my time in the Armed Forces.  I volunteered to make of my body an offering to the folk, hoping to offer only my time, dedication and skills, but aware that I could also be offering my health, or even my life.  We don’t really think or talk to much about the various ugly places between hale and whole, and valiant dead, as the middle ground is far scarier than either of the extremes.

You don’t think so?  Well, perhaps when you have seen enough death, and enough crippling injury, you will realize that the dead do not have anything to fear, but the living often do.

The athletes of the Invictus Games are important to us because they bring back pride, power, and most of all, VICTORY to those whom wyrd has woven permanent loss of limb or ability due to injury.

Most important of all Odin’s bynames is Sigfather; Victory-father.  It is not death we fear, for death waits for us all, and can no more be run from than can the coming night.  It is defeat, loss, and the humiliation that attends each that we fear, it is powerlessness, despair, and the shame attendant on weakness.

We are our deeds.  These words ring through modern Heathen practice as the root, the central tenant we all share.  Some understand the whole culture of building worth, and have the full lexicon of terms by which we know how what we do shapes how both we think of ourselves, and how our community thinks of us.  Judgement is a truth we accept;  like gravity, denying it does not make it go away, or make for wise decisions through pretending its not there.

The disabled are left with the corollary of this.  We who have always measured ourselves and found ourselves worthy based on the number and power of our deeds must find ourselves worthless in our own eyes when the chance to do those deeds is stripped from us by fate.

Suicide rates do not come from no where, they come from a despair that looks upon a life and sees no worth in it, nor potential for worth in it.  This is where the disabled are most vulnerable, in the sense of worth that should be the greatest source of their strength.

Our ancestors understood this.  They did not expect the wounded to battle for the same things, or the same standards as the whole.  They expected them to contribute, to give their all and to build worth in the doing; they literally could not understand the mindset that rejected the reality of a lost limb and judged the wounded person by the standards they met when fully able and whole of body.

The lame rides a horse, hand-less is herdsman.  You cannot build your worth through the deeds of before, but there are other deeds you are well suited to meet, other needs of the folk that you can meet.  No one accounts Tyr or Odin as less worthy due to their loss, rather they look upon their deeds in spite of that as inspiration to drive them to find their own greatness with the body and ability they have now.

The soldiers of the Invictus games were volunteers to the field of battle, but they were drafted, as it were, into the ranks of the disabled.  Those of our children, siblings, spouses and friends who find themselves struck down by disease or accident are likewise drafted into this challenge.

The soldiers of the Invictus Games are assumed to be courageous, as they volunteered to risk their lives and health in the nations service.  The truth is, they are among the most vulnerable.  No one who has not served can know how much it shapes you, how the awareness of giving one hundred percent of your ability and strength, to achieve a mission at all costs, and know that you are operating at a level most will never achieve even fleetingly, changes you forever.  Once that is stripped from you, you are not returned to the civilian you were, you are simply a soldier who can no longer live up to the image of ability that had become the pillar of your self identity.

We lose a lot of wounded warriors, which is why the Invictus Games came to be.  The Sig-Father, our father Odin, is not just the Battle Glad, he does not simply love us for the clash of arms, and the feast for his ravens that are the fallen.  Odin is the Victory Bringer, the Wise Counselor, the bringer of inspiration, poetry, and the wisdom of coping in all its wondrous, and wondrously flawed forms.

It is time to heed his counsel, to bring back Victory for our wounded, for our disabled.  Time for them to not hide their scars, empty sleeves, or wheel chairs, but to wear them as proudly as any medal, for they are the spoils of the victor, the survivor, of the strong.

Wyrd weaves as it will, there is no judgement in it.  One of my favourite words when it comes to living with the bad things that happen in life is FISH.  Short for “Fuck It, Shit Happens”.  The gods have never judged us by our success or failure, they have judged us by how we face our challenges, and how we meet our responsibilities.  Victory in the battle is Odin’s to give, but victory in your challenge is YOURS to take.  Who wins or loses may be beyond your strength to decide, but how you meet that challenge is beyond the power of any god, Queen or President, beyond any Parliament or law, it is literally only your own decision that will or can determine how you meet that challenge every single day.

Stop letting the memory of what you were steal from you the chance to find out what you can be today.  Stop mistaking the wound that wyrd wove into your life as being the results of your battle; it is not your loss, but it has changed the nature of the victory that is yours to win today.  Heed the Victory Father, if you are still breathing, you have not lost.  Find your victory conditions, and fight for them as hard as you did when full strength and speed were yours, and you will build your worth not only to yourself, but to the world.

My daughter will never be as she was before the accident.  She is not now weak, nor should you pity her.  She has much less strength and flexibility than before, and will pay a price for each breath and each step that would make a strong man tremble, but she will pay it, because she is not done yet.  She is not beaten, has not accepted defeat as written in her wounds.  I hope I can help her find the ways to define her victory conditions so the will and drive that made her so strong and capable again become a positive, rather than a weapon to use to hurt herself.  The strongest and most able among us are the harshest in punishing themselves when wyrd takes from them the ability to meet their own standards.  My daughter is strong and proud as ever I was, and I hope less foolish.

Odin, Victory Father, I ask your blessing that you teach our wounded ones how to define and fight for their victories every day of their lives, that when they chance to fall, their lives will shine with worth, and their deeds will be many days in the telling.  Tyr the most holy, as you understood the choice between your honour and your power could have only one answer, help those who have had much of their power stripped from them to understand that honour is still theirs to win.  Thor, defender of mankind; laughing god of the common man and woman, please teach those who have been laid low by fate to rise again, to laugh again, and to strive again.

No one volunteered to be wounded, to be broken.  Those who are disabled to a man were drafted into this state, and yet this does not mean that they do not possess courage!  Those who rise each day to a struggle greater than the whole may know, and frequently for stakes far less rich than the whole compete for, require more courage and more strength to rise each day and do battle.  To those who rise to this every day, may the Victory Father be with you always.

Heed the lesson of the Invictus Games,

Invictus Motto

 

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Elders failing

John Remembrance1

My community tells me I am an elder now.  I guess the grey in the beard argues they have a point.  That being said, I am looking at the elders in our community and noticing we really aren’t living up to the reverence we get given.

How many of us have shared the memes about the kids of today being useless, or lacking coping skills, or in ten thousand ways being utterly without capability or worth compared to every generation that has gone before?

Um, no.

Like the myth about how great our music was, we had great music, and we remember the great music.  We try really hard to forget about the bad stuff, and the majority of it was terrible. Kind of like today actually.

We had a lot of really spectacularly useless people, a lot of people struggling to get by, a bunch more who didn’t seem to have a clue, but stumbled along anyway, and a minority of really spectacular people who either smiled and got things done, or bitched and got things done, but the constant was, they got things done.

The good old days never were that good.  When we sit around and shoot the breeze, we can either rhapsodize about how good they were (better than today) or how terrible they were (worse than today), and be totally sincere.  Its called cherry picking, you look back and select for what you want to remember and you really can call it either the best of times or the worst of times and back it up with evidence.  They were just times we struggled to get through, got right as much as we could, got wrong more often than we like to recall, and not everyone made it through.  Lest we forget, not everyone managed then, nor do they manage now.

As elders in the Veteran community are busy crapping on the generation that is finishing school and taking their places in the ranks, they compare their fellow veterans to the most objectionable portions of the opposite end of the political spectrum, and announce that the current generation are all weak snowflakes.

Really?  Newsflash, we had the same spectrum back in our generation, and a astonishingly small fraction went into the service from our generation, and of those far from all of them would reguard that choice now as being good, wise, or healthy for them.  Lets at least not lie to ourselves about this.

We had a problem with bullying and sexual harassment, but you know what, we were better at denying it.  The abuses were bad then, just as they are bad now, but you could play pretend and ignore it better.  That does not make our generation more worthy boys and girls, that makes us part of the problem this generation is burdened with.

We inherited a culture of bullshit, and we perpetuated much of it, dealt with tiny corners of it, and learned to just accept what we were not ready to face.  Hardly the shining legacy we should be praised for.

We could get away from our problems.  Work, family, school, you could run to the other part of your life and escape whatever was going on in the other parts that you couldn’t deal with.  We took that away from our kids.  We gave them a connected world where you are never not connected to everyone.  Yay, ten thousand wonderful possibilities, every dream that you dream can come true, even the nightmares.  Oh yes, you can’t get away from your problems any more, they have never been able to follow you as effortlessly as now, and no misdeed will ever be beyond recall.

We never had to face that, we never had to cope with that.  Tell me again how weak these kids are?  Could I have made it through all the bad patches that way?  I sometimes wonder.

Our Heathen and Pagan elders I was raised to revere.  The did so much for the community, they fought so hard for what we have the chance to enjoy now, and did so in a time they very much were not free as we are now to do so without serious penalty to their personal, professional, and even family lives.  I do honour them for this, they paid a price higher than I had to, as we strove in our turn to make it easier for those who followed.

Now we in our turn are being honoured as elders and I am seeing a really depressing trend of not being worthy of that reguard right about the stage we start receiving it.

Somewhere along the line, after working so long to establish our little corners of the community, and doing so in an age where there was not an internet filled with scholarship and resources to network and pool our resources, we got used to being right, and accepted as being right.  Then a whole lot of us stopped listening, stopped learning, stopped accepting that others were having the same experiences that we did, and learning their own lessons.  Others were drawing upon newer, and frequently better scholarship to come to sometimes different understandings than our own.

I love my communities, the Heathen community, broader pagan community, the veteran community, but as I pass into the elder status, I look at my fellow elders and see a stunning lack of support for those who are stepping up into the leadership positions we are retiring out of.  I see a lack of respect for those people doing the hard work we frankly lack the strength or time to put in anymore.

I see most of all that instead of heaping praise, support and advice when asked, we are heaping scorn on those who are this generations boots on the ground.  I will be the first to admit there are not as many boots on the ground as their should be.  There is more work than hands.  This should mean that we elders who know what that translates into, in terms of personal sacrifice, should be the ones doing our part to step in, and save these amazing young people from burning themselves out in service to folk who need to do their own share before being worthy of such a sacrifice, instead of pontificating about how the younger generation is weak.

I will continue to do my part for the community, as I slowly transition in the next decades from one of the guys who get things done, into one of the elders who got things done in the time of legends, when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

We do have a lot to teach, but those who have a lot to teach are mostly still working hard to learn every day, because the community is teaching us.  You are teaching us.  We have simply been around for more lessons, and perhaps caught some lessons that we can spot that you could use right now.

Don’t put us on pedestal, or the unworthy will just use them as height to piss on you from, and the useful will then be out of reach to contribute something you may need to know, or a tool you might not have, when you actually need it.

Back in the day, we mostly muddled through.  We did our best, not all of us were all that well intentioned, and not of the well intentioned saw things work out positively anyway.  Today you are all taking up the work, building your communities with a right good will.  Some of them will explode, implode, or combust; trust me, most of ours did too.  Keep the faith, keep working, humanity is untidy and learns by trial and error, so keep swinging.

If you survive long enough, do try to resist letting yourself forget that what we know now is the seventieth version, the first sixty nine we now know were dead wrong, and that hardly puts us in a position to look down on anyone else for being wrong once.  We were wrong more than once, and may be days away from finding out we have got it wrong yet again.  Until we are dead, we are supposed to be learning.  If we forget that, then we don’t really deserve to be honoured for a knowledge we stopped actually listening to ourselves.

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Rape

Rape

 

If you want to begin your not all men rant now, I suggest you either read this all the way through, or don’t bother commenting.

1. Within the gates | ere a man shall go,

(Full warily let him watch,)

Full long let him look about him;

For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,

And sit in the seats within.

 

First line in the Havamal tells people to be careful, because you need to be aware that enemies abound, there are people out there who mean you ill.  This is very first thing we were ever taught by the ancestors and gods, there are bad people out there.

 

For some reason, there is a huge backlash whenever this advice is rephrased for women.  Somehow it is just right and holy for men to be wary, but if women are wary of men in the same way, that is somehow an attack on all men.  Here is where the same group of men that is quickest to shout “snowflake!” at anyone else for being bothered by another’s opinion is screaming at the top of their lungs about how offended they are at the thought that women might share among themselves that they don’t feel safe around a particular person.

I am not talking about publicly pointing out someone who has never been convicted of anything and accusing them of something, I am talking about women privately sharing with each other that they don’t feel safe around a particular person.

 

One in four women will experience sexual assault in their lives.  A woman over the age of 15 has a 3.5% chance of being raped this year, a male 0.5%.  The average assailant is a male below the age of 35 in both cases (2014 Statistics Canada figures https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/14842-eng.htm ).

Sex Assault Stats

 

Vulnerable populations have the risk higher, native women are sitting about 57% for being assaulted in their lives and disabled women have 83% chance of being sexually assaulted during their lives ( https://www.sexassault.ca/statistics.htm ).

Sex Assault overall

 

These are the facts.  This is the world that we live in, and this is something that affects everyone.  I am not a feminist, and will admit cheerfully that I fully enjoy being a practicing heterosexual who finds the sight, sound, and company of women to be an absolute delight, and who is married to a woman I still desire sexually after twenty one years and three daughters as much as when we were fooling around in high school.  I enjoy sex, I enjoy women. I have raped exactly as many women as I desire to; zero.  I find the idea of rape to be repugnant, but that does not mean I don’t acknowledge a whole lot of people really do feel otherwise.  Those rape statistics do not point to the number of men out there who are sexual predators as being small, or a statistically insignificant number.  They point to it being a significant and persistent problem that women really should consider when looking at the world.

It is not just women who are the victims, and not just men who are the assailants; true, but the numbers make it clear it is primarily women who are the victims, and even more predominantly men who are the assailants of both genders.  For those men who want to defend our gender from the slander of being called rapists, for it to be slander, the charge would have to lack basis, and on that point, we fail.

 

  1. I rede thee, Loddfafnir! | and hear thou my rede,–

Profit thou hast if thou hearest,

Great thy gain if thou learnest:

If evil thou knowest, | as evil proclaim it,

And make no friendship with foes.

 

  1. I rede thee, Loddfafnir! | and hear thou my rede,–

Profit thou hast if thou hearest,

Great thy gain if thou learnest:

In evil never | joy shalt thou know,

But glad the good shall make thee.

 

If you know someone is a risk, you speak up.  You don’t remain silent, you don’t quietly disapprove and take your chances that someone will pay the price when what you fear may happen does happen, you speak up.

There is also this, you don’t play games with consent, you don’t joke about it, you do not provide the social camouflage that makes it acceptable for those who really do not believe consent is necessary to hide in, nor give the impression that women who have been assaulted should stay silent because really, no one means it when they say consent matters.

 

It is not all men, has never been all men, but it sure as hell is some of them, and if we can stop one more woman from being raped by a warning, then we should absolutely do so.  I am not advocating witch hunts, but if you don’t feel safe around someone, and you are aware that a friend is putting themselves in a vulnerable position with them, share your concern privately with that person.

I am a big man, and not the gentlest looking on the planet.  My manner is likewise somewhat aggressive, and I get that some people are triggered by it.  I am responsible for my words and deeds, but not for the reactions of others.  That being said, I would rather a hundred women whispered to each other that they didn’t feel safe around me, than one kept silent feeling I represented a credible threat to another woman.

I would rather a hundred women whispered they didn’t feel safe, knowing that I would never touch a woman without her full consent, even before I was married, than women worried about offending someone and kept a justified fear silent.  No man’s ego is worth another woman being raped.

 

More times than I like to think about, as a priest in the community I have had women feeling safe enough in ritual and community setting to open up about their sexual assault.  The wounds are terrible, taking multiple decades to fully heal, and if you consider the difference between the extent of the damage compared to the average sentence of a rapist you begin to understand that in the rare cases where conviction is actually given, the sentence of the victim is still far more extensive than that of the assailant.

We can’t fix the damage done. We can’t say the risk of it isn’t there, and pretending that the world is safer than it is not only is foolish, but violates the wisdom the gods went to the trouble to leave us.  We are advised to be wary of the dangers, to take note of them, and take reasonable precautions against them.  We are advised to call out evil when we see it, and to stand against it.

Rape is evil, and it is a risk in our society.  Call it out, stop apologizing for it, stop objecting to women pointing out that some men are dangers; do not make yourself part of the problem but part of the solution.  Some men, and a very much smaller number of women, are the problem.  Rapists are evil, and have no place in our society.

Do not allow yourself to become their shield, their camouflage.  Do not allow yourself to become the cover a predator can use to avoid scrutiny.  Rapists are vile.  Those women and men who have been so assaulted understand the depths of the harm they represent, and the numbers who share that understanding are far too high.

We need to do better.  Heed Havamal 127.  If you know or suspect someone is a danger, don’t remain silent.  Heed Havamal 1, be aware, always.  The bulk of the assailants are known to their victims, which means that those unshared suspicions or unshared experiences of close calls are indeed missed opportunities to prevent another person being attacked.  I would rather someone falsely mistook me for a wolf in the fold, than out of fear of reprisal women stopped sharing their experiences of possible wolves among us now.  No more victims.

Havamal, Stanza 1, 127-128 http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe04.htm

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

The Road Home

 

Thor-Vikings-Odin-Loki-panels-1566510-1920x1080.png

A thousand years ago, our ancestors understood the traditions we try to embrace today.  They lived in a world where they walked with their ancestors, knew the wights of the lands and waters, made peace with the jotnar of the high mountains and raging rivers, learned the alfs of the wild places.   The gods and goddesses held a place for them that was something we can only imagine, for they learned how everything fit together from their first breath, first step. There was no word for what they did, for it was no more possible to separate their practice from their life, than it was to separate their breath from their body and continue to live.

 
A foreign smoke stole that breath from the body of our ancestors, and the living faith died a long time ago.  The path they walked we cannot.  What they knew, we can only guess at; speculate from scattered puzzle pieces half understood.  That is fine.  We have chosen to walk out of the smoke, and breath again the living air.  We have chosen to once again learn to listen to the whispers of the ancestors, to look at the lands and waters, fields and forests as important relationships, as sacred trusts, and not simply a catalog of resources to be stripped and utilized until fully expended.
The ways our ancestors took for granted are half remembered dreams to us.  The relationships they held are matters of speculation and argument for scholars to whom the points are of only academic interest.  That is fine.  I am a soldier, son and grandson of soldiers.  The truths that historians argue over the battlefields of the past contain a hundred facts, and very few truths.  Those that come away from such fields may have been aware of only a few of those facts that brushed against them most intimately, but they carry away truths the historians cannot understand.  Some truths are found only by living, by walking the road, not by studying the map from a safe distance.

 

So it is with the road home.

I will admit from the beginning, I am one of Odin’s.  He found me in basic training, and pointed me towards the community in the dark days when it was long odds you would ever find another Heathen, let alone a community of them.  It is so much easier now.  Partly due to technology, and for that I give full praise to our society for its advances.  Partly that is due to the communities of people coming together in that metaphorical wilderness and struggling to build something.  Let’s be honest, something new.  We are rebuilding the alters, recreating the tradition.  We may study the latest developments for any scrap they can give us that advances our understanding of the road our ancestors walked before us, but that road we lost in the smoke centuries ago.  We build a new road that began when we first came together as groups and chose to bring the practice of honouring our gods, wights, and ancestors back into our lives.

We could not do it alone.  We lost the way.  We are not alone.  The truth is, we may have lost our way, but the land was still the land, our dead were no farther from us, and the gods never left us.  We lost the knack of listening, we lost the habits of valuing, we lost our way, but our guides awaited us.

The gods are forgiving, or at least have enough of a sense of humour to put up with the ten thousand things we get wrong, the minutiae we obsess over.  We get a lot of it wrong.  I know that.  We do it differently in a large number of ways, and I would say that they are not all wrong.  We are not following the road of our ancestors.  That was lost to us.  We struggle to build a new road.  Who is with us on that road is important.

 

Odin stands first among the holy kin in this generation, and it is right that it is so.  I do not believe that this was his place in peace time for the bulk of our people, but it is the reality today for one reason alone.  Odin is the greatest recruiter, the guide that has lead the most of our folks home.  I have seen Odin as the gateway drug for so many future Freyrsmen, Thorsmen, Tyrsmen, Frigga’s women, Freyaswomen.  His place is earned a thousand times over for bringing so many of us to where we could share a community together and begin to connect again to all the holy tribe, to begin to rebuild the relationship with the wights, the alfs, the ancestors.

There is only one god that I have seen do as much to bring to our halls, to our hearths as many folk who were lost, hurt, and in danger.  Loki.
I will leave aside the argument about whether his worship was ever a part of our ancestral tradition.  That is an argument for scholars about what was.  Our ancestors did not have antibiotics, toilet paper, or defibrillators; I am not looking to ape what was.  I am trying to bring the sacred back into the lives we live today, and of all the gods doing the work to guide us on the road we are trying to build together, the one who shines second in his work to bring the scattered folk home is Loki.

 

Loki is a part of our road forward.  Our folk are largely not given the chance to be born into Heathen households and raised in Heathen communities.  Our folk still grow up largely in Christian communities whose “truths” are at odds with our own, whose fundamental assumptions are diametrically opposed to our own.   For those who have in their heart the call of our gods, these foreign ideas and those that would enforce them as morality are deeply damaging.   For so many, the toxins of these foreign beliefs are enough to seriously harm, and in a very real sense, kill.   Enter Loki.  Trickster, breaker of stasis, flyter of the sacred, mocker of the righteous.  Loki has saved so many who saw no way out, and brought them by a thousand twisted paths to join us on the road home.

Odin may well not have been the highest in the time before, and Loki may or may not have been a god to be honoured inside the hearth and Frithstead, but in our generation we must give honour where it is due, must return a gift for a gift and acknowledge that not only does Loki deserve to be honoured as one of our gods, but in this generation, we must accept that he should be held high among them.

When I came to the Pagan community, I was told not to let anyone know that I was Heathen.  Like it was a dirty secret.  Don’t let anyone know you are Heathen until they know you well.  Once they did, then you got this token acceptance (you are all right, you aren’t like them-them being all your spiritual kin).

Now in the Heathen community, I hear the same song, slightly altered.  Don’t let anyone know you honour Loki, until they know you well.  I have to call it.  This was bullshit twenty years ago when Pagans held a view of all Heathens that actually matched none of the Heathens they actually knew and worked with for years, yet they accepted as true for every Heathen except their own token exceptions.  Its bullshit now.

 

There are going to be those pointing to individual idiots in the community and screaming “Look that is a Lokean!”  To which we can all point to five Odinsmen, Two Thorsman and a Tyrsman at least as objectionable.  Those are the exceptions.  Turn and look at the ones making your community work.  Look at the hard working people putting on the events, sacrificing to make our scattered organizations stumble along, and so often, these are the Lokeans we are working so hard to demonize.

Enough already.

We are coming together to build a road.  A road home.  Our guides are the holy gods that walked with our ancestors as they walk with us.

We are Heathens, we are supposed to follow the gifting cycle, we are supposed to repay a gift with a gift, and honour our obligations.  Loki has earned a place in our community in our lifetimes, he has done so in the coin of the blood of our own folk; the blood of the folk he saved from loss, and helped make whole again.  He has done so by bringing so many of them to us, to our community, where they can find fellowship and learn, as I learned, more than just the god that lead us home.

 

Thor is the symbol we wear to show each other who we are.  Tyr sanctifies our coming together, Frigg weaves us together as Freya teaches us to dare to live again.  Odin broods over our feasts, plotting and planning the advance of our scattered kindreds in building our road home to a more frithful and balanced future, and Loki?  He is by the fire, laughing at all of us.  Make him welcome, for he has offered his gifts right generously already.

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized, Yule

Yule at Sasamat

 

Sassamat Lake

We come now to the heart of the dark, to a time when people have absolutely the least to give, have the least time, least money, least energy from the stress of the eternal battle just to keep things afloat.  Of course this is the time that we need each other the most, and so the gods long ago bade us to come together at the Yuletide and keep their holy tide with joyful celebration, giving to the gods, by gifting each other, showing our devotion to the gods by caring for each other, and those less fortunate than ourselves.  At a time when the cold, dark, and hunger drive us to huddle alone, our gods call us to wassail hard in the heart of the dark, to not run from the darkness, but to join hands and dance in it.

 

Abysmal Witch and Heathen’s of the Nine Realms came together to make this magic happen for the local pan-pagan community.  Heathen Hospitality and Wiccan magic woven together among the dark lake nestled in the ancient forest and brooding mountains.

 

The site itself has held so much magic from our past gatherings, as this place has known both The Gathering For Life on Earth, and Pirates and Fairies many times.  That magic was on open display as we arrived.  Alyssa and I pulled into the parking lot after a crystal clear drive up to see fog descending from the flanking mountains like glaciers of the sky, moving to close the forest off from the land around.  A light mist rose off the dark lake, which was still as black glass.  The fog closed us off from the sights and sounds of civilization, left us alone in a world of the forest primeval, with nothing but the spirits of the lands and waters, our gathered folk, and such magic as we shall weave.

 

Our Abysmal Witch hostess lead us through an opening in which we came to greet and make our offerings through the elemental spirits of the place, offering to the wights of the earth; the great trees and brooding mountains that sheltered us, down to the great black waters of Sasamat to offer our blessing to the bowl taken of its waters, the blessings to be returned to the lake with all of our mingled joy and energy at events end, we offered to the misty air that veiled us from the sights and sounds of others and left us in a place out of time, a world of our own.  Then it was time to offer to fire, to kindle the hearth-fire that would make of this place a Frithstead, that would invite the holiest of our kin, the gods and sacred ancestors to join us.

Sassamat Yule

 

I wore the heavy blot knife that I have laid upon Odin’s alter so many times, that has served as common tool more often than I can count, but has also done blot for the holy gods often enough to be a most potent ritual tool.  As the opening began with the lighting of the sacral fire, the wood was green, and the mist was heavy upon the land.  Fire is a danger here, so the land is slow to see it kindled and the fire at first would not take.  The wiccan’s began a lovely fire chant, but being Heathen, I was unfamiliar with it, and the magic of it was not my own.  The struggle with the fire however was a thing Heathen’s of the North know well, and with my blot knife did I take to splitting the firewood by hand to thumb thick kindling to take the small fire of the lichen and paper and raise its heat enough to catch the split green wood.  Muttering my own kenaz chant as I split each piece of kindling with the blot knife, the Heathens and wiccan’s lent their breath, their gathered lichen, and the new kindling to bring the fire to living breathing fullness.  Our first magic made, the hearthfire was lit by the coming together of the disparate parts of the community in common cause.  Now that the fire blaze, each were asked to offer to the fire the needles of the forest floor we had gathered, and to call an invitation to the gods or goddesses sacred to us to join us if they will, as our guests for this holy event.

 

We gathered together to mingle and talk around the fire, sharing our differing lore around the Yule tide, for it is a common celebration among all of our peoples, but from each people come a different understanding and different threads of tradition to weave together into this shared Yuletide event.

 

Feast was laid, for as much as Heathens lay claim to Hospitality as our first virtue, it was a Wiccan elder of our community who laid the feast, and Hrolf Kraki himself could lay claim to no finer feast, or merrier hall than that she laid for us.  We came together to decorate a living Yule Tree, each of us bringing an ornament special to us, to our family or to our tradition.  I brought a Thor’s hammer glasswork that I had purchased in California Trothmoot with my daughters and Lagaria Farmer years ago.  As special for who was with me when we got it as for its own beauty, because for Heathens, magic is rooted ever in people first.

 

Sumbel followed, as Heathens shared with the others of the community our most magical of communal rites.  Having offered already to the gods and wights in the opening, the sumbel began with the bragaful, boasts and brags where each were asked to boast of what they had done this last year, brag of what they will do in the year to come, and offer to those who you feel have made such an impact on your life this year that for the gift they have given you, such a gift of praise is due.

 

There is such magic in such times, generations from the laughing children running under feet to the elders to whom I am but a stripling raising the horn and sharing their lives, their struggles, their joys, their hopes.  Lines of life and luck weaving together with every passing of the horn, as much as the fire outside grew from a flickering wraith to a roaring blaze, so too did the lights of the individuals of the community come together and kindle such a blaze as warmed us all, and shouted our defiance to the deepest of the dark.

 

How could such a light go unnoticed?  Indeed this close to Yule one must be careful about blazing so brightly, lest the gods attention be drawn to you.  Father Winter, the Jul Father himself was drawn to the bright fires of hospitality, of joy and of spirit and descended with his sack full of gifts.

Shining eyed boys and bright beautiful girl first came to Father Winter to receive their gifts, for they had been fine children this year, and the Jul Father was well pleased to gift them richly.  Soon the adults came to offer rich cups of cheer to the Jul Father and receive their gifts in turn, with the eldest in the hall sitting on the Jul Father’s lap as his own bright eyed bride captured the moment with a merriment that argued no amount of snow on the rooftop implies less than a blazing fire in the hearth.

Yule Father

To be worthy of the Jul Father’s visit, a community has to understand the magic of gift giving, and understand how this magic was intended to be used.  One family could not be with us this year, for Sabrina and her young son Kyler have been struggling since his birth with cancer, and although for so long she has been such an important and vital member of our community, in this time of sharing, she is giving of herself to her child who is too ill to attend, and not able to join with her community.

This does not mean her community is not with her.  To our hall we brought gifts for them both. A turkey to provide a feast for those who could not be here, and presents for mother and child to brighten them with tokens of the love and esteem in which they are held by us.  Gone from our hearth is not gone from our hearts.

Kyler

As the light faded and full darkness fell, let the feast be cleared away and the sauna be stoked full hot.  How can we celebrate the heart of winter in the northern mountains, save by late night polar bear swim?  Laughing men and women braved the icy rain and stowed our clothing beneath the overturned canoes as we strode naked down the strand, and plunged ourselves into waters cold enough that Skadi would wrestle Ran for the rights to them.  Staggering back into the sauna to warm up, once feeling had returned to toes, and yes we still had the same number we entered with, we returned to the wine dark lake under a moon lost behind a Skadi’s white veil to plunge a second time, this time to laughingly splash each other with water cold enough to be ice should it slow itself overlong.  Back to the sauna we go, for

 

  1. Fire he needs | who with frozen knees

Has come from the cold without;

Food and clothes | must the farer have,

The man from the mountains come.

Not just man in this case, as our women are taking second place in boldness to no man born.  From the mountains and the lake we came with frozen knees and nether regions, but the sauna and conversation warmed us right well.  The mead likely assisted as well.

 

In the heart of the dark, we gave ourselves to silence, we turned away from the light, and followed our Abysmal Witch into the heart of the dark, where the light never reaches, and none but us ever see.  In our internal darkness we are always alone, and at this time of year, as the life of the year wanes, the bright light of Sunna herself fades, so too does the hope that sustains us, so too does the strength that we have to hold our inner darkness at bay.

We gathered together not to hide from our shadows, but to commune with them.  At the dying of the light, we joined together to face the darkness within ourselves.  In the darkness, we do not wear masks, for there is no one to see them.  In the heart of the dark, the strongest may cry, for no eye will see, no sneer condemn.  In the heart of the dark there are no faces, no names, so the dread secrets that claw at you every day to get free may be whispered, may be spoken, may be shouted or cried out; for all may hear, yet in the anonymity of darkness, in the fellowship of shadow, none may condemn.

 

The secret doubts, secret shames, secret scars lay bare.  The darkness is terror to us because it is unknown, because none know what lies within it, and mostly because it strips from us all pretense, all masks, all illusions and leaves us alone against our internal fears.  We were in the heart of that darkness, naked before it in spirit, yet we were not alone.  We who had bound to each other with the sharing of sumbel, we who had forged bright ties in the sight of the holy gods by the bright firelight found those ties held us in the darkness.  We were not alone.  Our fears were not ours alone, nor the strength to face them ours alone.  What we each faced in quiet despair and solitude, we faced together in solidarity.  When we sought to turn from each other in shame for our secret weaknesses, for the ugliness of our scars, in the darkness we found only acceptance, for behind the brightest of masks lies the darkest of wounds, as often the gentlest heart as the hardest will share scars of the same vile blight in the past.

 

From the darkness we emerged again.  The tears shed in darkness, like its secrets, stayed in the dark.  The fears and shame that bled from those wounds likewise stayed in the darkness we left behind, but the strength we had shared filled us in its stead.  Together we returned to the fire.

Sweet merciful goddesses, it is well that this time of year is cold enough to cost us extra calories just keeping blood liquid, because the tables again groaned with food.  Not meat, bread, vegetables and potatoes this time.  No it was pies, cookies, chocolates, more hot chocolate and coffee for the non drinkers and more mead, wine, and spirits for those requiring stronger antifreeze.  Again the hall rang with conversation, the fire with the sound of drum and song.  Long into the night we wassailed together.  The fires finally banked around 0500 hours, the last of the revellers staggered into bed for a few hours sleep before dawn cleanup, breakfast and closing ritual.

Leaving the mist wrapped mountain fastness into the dawn struggling to paint a sky clear other than our own magical corner, the smell of the fires still clung to us, as did the fell and potent power of the Yuletide.  Humming with the internal power of so much mingled joy and laughter, so much sharing of our lives, we shall carry this Yuletide spirit forward, for the Yuletide is a season and not a day.  We are commanded by the gods to exchange our hospitality with our family, both those of blood, and those who have made themselves family in life, with our friends, and coworkers.  This time of year we gather together in a hundred places, in a hundred forms, to celebrate together, brighten each other in this darkest of times, and renew the ties that bind us each to the other, and to each to life.

 

To Heathen’s of the Nine Realms, to Abysmal Witch, full praise I give you, for your Yule was such a magical experience, that now when the sun falls, I feel the laughter, hear your voices, and swear I can smell the smoke of our communal fire waiting to warm me still.

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