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.

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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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Uncategorized

Being Heathen

We took an insult hurled at us by Christians, and claimed it for our own.

 

Noun derogatory

noun: heathen; plural noun: heathens

1.

a person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do.

synonyms:          pagan, infidel, idolater, heretic, unbeliever, disbeliever, nonbeliever, atheist, agnostic, skeptic; archaic paynim

(https://www.google.ca/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Heathen)

 

We had a word, Asatru, that meant true to the Aesir.  Not being a perfect word, it failed to include the Vanir, and lent itself better to Icelandic or Scandinavian based practice than Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Germano-Slavic, Frankish, Frisian or other Germanic Neo Pagan folk ways.  Heathen had come to the term that our community used to differentiate ourselves from the Wiccans and other Neo Pagans.  Inside the Pagan community it had come to be the term both sides used to divide our two groups into separate encampments beneath the polytheist umbrella.

 

There are a lot of parts to being Heathen, some of which are easy to see, and some of which are easy to miss.  It is described as the religion with homework, for we take our lore seriously.  We are not a people of the book, like the Christians or Islamics who practice a dead faith; one that begins on page one, ends at the back cover and will never contain anything that is not already written.  We are however a people that read books.  From the lore to archaeology offering us new insights into the lives of our ancestors, as a group you rarely find a community whose lay people have that much depth of scholarship on various levels of their faith and ancestral cultures.

 

We are a living faith, which means that each community is busy coming together, celebrating, and continuing the traditions of our ancestors in ways that fit with their own communities needs and experience.  There isn’t really one right way to do it, and a whole lot of lore allows you to assert with some degree of foundation a wide number of mutually excluding things.  We argue a lot about them, partly because we love the lore and get attached to the meanings and lessons we have taken from it, and partly because the love of argument seems built into the community at almost a genetic level.

 

You can be a solitary Heathen, and lots are.  Not all are so by choice.  Most agree that Heathenry has elements that can only really be experienced in a flesh and blood community.  Living Heathen means that you understand there is a sacral purpose behind what we do when we come together.  Hospitality is the highest form of magic in that it binds strangers into friends, friends into kindreds, and kindreds into families.  A ridiculous amount of our lore concerns hospitality, and the use of it to build, correct, and maintain relationships.

 

Heathens understand community and worth in a way that modern peoples are suffering for forgetting.  We understand as our ancestors did that community is not an abstraction, it is a deliberate construction, and act of will and faith that takes the wyrd of many people and binds them through common cause so that the success or failure of the collective is enjoyed, or suffered, by all.   You can look at this on the symbolic level as how our kindreds function, and the purpose of our oaths and the sharing at sumble, or you can look at this on the practical level on how our physical communities either prosper or not based on the degree of cooperation and commitment to collective effort they demonstrate.

 

We understand worth.  Our post 1960’s culture enshrines self worth, but psychologically we suffer from the gap between our own self worth, and the worth we are held in by various definitions of community.  It can be as disastrous and destructive to be outwardly held in high esteem while you feel a crushing guilt or shame, as it is to be held in contempt or mocked when your own deeds and conduct has been nothing but upstanding.  Where your perceived worth by others and your self are at odds, you will feel it.

 

Each decision we make will establish our worth in those who see it.  This worth will be judged by the standards of that particular community based on its understanding of your relationship and the duties you held.  A given act can be seen a hundred different ways, by a hundred different slices of the community.  One person, one act, all specifications agreed, yet a hundred different understanding of how that affected your worth.  You can be held in high esteem, moderate esteem, contempt simultaneously by different parts of the community for exactly the same deeds.  Our ancestors understood this, our own generation struggles with this, believing our intrinsic self worth should be exportable to all our communities in some magical fashion.  So far as I can see, this has never actually worked.  People will judge by what they see, based on the standards they hold.

 

Heathens talk a lot, but we back it up.  We tend to do a lot of things, as once we decide we support something, we pretty much have to translate that support into a concrete action, or admit we don’t really support it at all.  For this reason many of us have served in the military, and have or do volunteer in many areas of the community.  We offer real things, rather than Facebook support for those things that we acknowledge are important.

 

We judge.  We judge and we don’t even pretend that we don’t.  Justice is depicted as blind, holding scales.  This means justice is supposed to be blind to the differences between us, and weighing only the evidence.  Heathens function in a similar way.  You will find more acceptance for gays, lesbians, transgendered, or other marginalized peoples in Heathenry than almost anywhere else, and outsiders are always shocked.  We are not the kindest or gentlest folk, we argue constantly and are quick to take offense more often than we should.  We really do hold to part of that old silly word, Asatru.  We judge above all things your adherence to this one simple question.
Are you living true?  True to yourself, true to your gods, true to your beliefs?

That above all we judge you for.  I will grant you that the vegan pacifists in our community may sound like an odd fit, but they are living true to that belief in the face of a community that compares firearms as they swap BBQ recipes, and that takes some real strength of commitment.  You show that you are living true to your ideals and we will judge you; judge you to be of great worth.

 

We disagree on language, on definition, on the names of the gods, who is to be worshiped, how they are to be worshiped.  We can and will argue anything, if you don’t believe me, someone right now is arguing that we don’t argue and utterly failing to see the humour in it.  The gods forgive us much for the laughter we bring to them, even if much of it is unintentional.

 

I have never felt prouder to be Heathen than when our great community from sea to shining sea, ignoring national borders altogether, came together as one to denounce hatred in Declaration 127.  Racism, sexism, homophobia; regardless of the mask it wears, the promotion of hatred against our fellows is hateful to the gods, and unacceptable in our communities.  We came together and denounced this spreading of hate in one voice. We are a fractious people, but I love our community as I love my own family, my sacred ancestors, the wights of the lands and waters, and the holy gods themselves.

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By in large, we get it right.  We could do a better job at many things.  We need to be better at recognizing the worth of our women as evenly as we do our men.  We need to be better at keeping division and hatred from sneaking into our community and turning worthy hands against each other.  We need to be better at realizing the other side of any given argument has reasonable cause to believe they too are correct.

 

We get a lot right.  We don’t’ care where you came from.  We don’t’ care what you look like.  We care that your deeds match your words, your oaths are kept, you come to raise the horn with us in open and honest love for the community and the teachings that bring us together.

Someday I hope we will get over the knee-jerk reaction against national organizations.  We are moving into the main stream of our society and collectively we have a voice that will be needed to defend our rights against those who first turned the word Heathen against us as not only a perjorative, but as an excuse to attack.

 

Our gods left us no single book telling us how to live today.  They left us with lore that shows us how to recognize and care for important relationships.  They left us with lore that shows us how to live justly, honourably, and successfully in a world that can be harsh, cruel, and heart-stoppingly beautiful by turns.  They left us the understanding of how to look at the world, recognize our duties, and shape the question.  It is for us to show our gods, our ancestors, and our descendants what OUR answers will be.

 

I am a Heathen.  I love this world, for all the pain it has given me, it has also given me love and joy beyond measure.  The spirits of this world sing to us if you have the ear to hear them.  The ancestors whisper to us, if you have the patience to listen for them, and the gods stand beside us as we face the challenges in our lives, witnesses to the choices we make.  This life is ours to live, our decisions and consequences our own to make and to bear, but we are all connected.  From the first sacred ancestor, to the last of the descendants yet unborn.  To be a Heathen means to accept a definition of self that stretches beyond your skin, a definition of place that extends far beyond both your birth and your death.

 

I left offerings to my house wights when I rose, poured out onto the earth of my place firsts and best of my coffee.  I live largely joyfully because of the Heathenry that has shown me how the bits of my life weave together, how my worth is built in the ten thousand daily decisions that most people never think about at all.  I travel far to be with my community at every opportunity to raise a horn, and join our voices together in celebration as the connections between us do not just bind us together, they heal not only ourselves, but our connection to the lands and waters that our cities tried so hard to strip from us.

At a certain point in your practice, you will no longer be able to separate your life and your practice.  Above all else, this is what our ancestors had that I wish to reclaim.  I study how they lived not because I want arraigned marriages for my daughters, or to settle my interpersonal disputes with a battle axe, and related weregild discussions, but because I wish to grasp even imperfectly how they saw themselves at a time when they could conceive no other way than living in harmony with their ancestors, their lands, and their gods.

 

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Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Courage and Honour

Once again there have been shootings in the United States that threaten to set the nation on fire.

Black-Lives-Matter-button We have black legal gun owners shot down by police in what is utterly indefensible circumstances.  Clearly there is a problem that exists beyond a single or a few isolated individuals, but one that requires a real good internal cultural change in many police departments.  This is a real problem, and requires real world, not politician sound byte, level solutions, and long term leadership on the police professional level to see through.

Blue Lives Matter  We have good and worthy officers gunned down at their post for the crime of being white officers doing their job.  This is the way to begin a war, not the way to get social change.  This is murder, this is not even revenge because these particular officers are good and worthy servants of the public, attacked simply for their uniform and race.  It is not revenge, it is not justice, it is a deliberate attempt to provoke further shedding of black blood by police.  This action is not just a single murder spree it is an attempt to make every cop more likely to react to armed blacks as a real and credible threat to life, to actually create more shootings.  This is Black Lives Matters ultimate goal?  To increase the number of people shot by police by teaching the police they are absolutely right to treat any armed black person as a real and imminent threat?  Wilful promotion of hatred, its a crime up here, but I guess its OK when BLM does it.

Courage and Honour

 

I am a white Canadian veteran, looking at the insanity that is gripping the nation that is the closest to my own both geographically, and in our hearts.  I have seen two shootings of black legal gun owners, apparently shot for being armed and black.  I have seen five police officers gunned down while doing their duty to protect protesters and the public by doing riot duty, which I have done, and I really can’t say I met anyone who enjoyed.

 

I say this to you now.   Courage and Honour.

 

I say this first as a blessing to those who put on the uniform every goddamned day, and go out and do a job that largely consists of seeing people on the single worst day of their lives, but this is every hour of your day, every day.  I salute your courage, and acknowledge that you have acted, and will continue to act with honour although few will bother acknowledging this.

 

I say this to those who see a systematic abuse of their people by those who are charged with their defense.  Yes, I say to those who are holding the police responsible where they are not following their own training or use of force procedures when dealing with the black community.  You are acting with honour to demand the rights of all citizens be observed, have the courage to do what is right, not what is easiest.

 

Now the gloves come off, and I will tell you what no one has apparently wanted to hear for quite some time.  USA is pretty close to not meaning United States of America, it is pretty close to meaning Unbelievably Syria Again.

That is right.  You are working on turning your nation into a third world bombed out shithole like Syria, and you are doing it because as a nation you are systematically choosing to embrace your guns rather than growing the fuck up and dealing with each other.

To the police, I know some fine men and women in uniform, serving with honour all the citizens of their land.  You know me, and I know you.  Now let us speak the truth here.  I served in uniform and well do I love my service, but I know my brothers and sisters, warts and all.  Let us speak the truth here, not every person wearing the badge and uniform you do is brave enough to deserve it.

 

To walk as a keeper of the peace is to walk a line.  You carry the tools and training of a killer, for you wield the power to take life in the name of the state. Your symbol is not the sword though, it is the shield.  You are the shield of the state, the defender of the folk.  You walk bearing armour and arms for a reason.  The shield of the state is expected and required to be brave, and sometimes to risk the blows of others rather than use deadly force where it might not be justified.

 

I have read our own troops being criticized for taking fire in the streets as we rolled through in convoy and not responding.  Choosing to continue through and dismount, working our way back through town seeking the shooters, unwilling to exchange fire without a clear target and viable sightline.  Sometimes you take fire without returning it because your job is not to shoot up the cities but to engage hostiles and eliminate them as threats.  It requires more courage to hold your fire until you have a clear understanding of the situation, and a confirmed target, than it does to simply pump rounds downrange and let the gods sort out the breakage.

 

To the police I charge you  twice.  First have courage, courage to be sure that you are under attack before you reach for force, as once violence is chosen by one side, all other options are gone from both.  Secondly, remember your honour.  The honour of your badge and your uniform, of your service and your state is not just in your hands but those of your brothers and sisters.  If they are not living up to those standards it is you, and not the media, you and not the legal system, who I expect to defend the honour of your service by CLEANING YOUR OWN DAMNED HOUSE.  You know there are those treating their badge like a hunting license, using their position to harass those they look down on, and who look at every single citizen who is not wearing the same uniform as enemy.

That is not good enough.  If that is the way you look at those you are sworn to protect, take off the badge before you foul it further.  You got lost somewhere, and until you remember why you took up service, you serve best by walking away.

 

To the “Black Lives Matter” protesters.  You are responsible for so much violence, so much hatred, you are not part of the problem, oh no you are a brand new problem all together.  You want to see what a civil war looks like?  Go enlist and serve in one.  Go see what third world shitholes look like when people who couldn’t decide their issues with words turned to guns and shattered the lives of millions of normal people just trying to get by.

 

Have the courage to own your own shit.  You are angry?  Suck it up buttercup.  That is not a license for violence.  You are determined to start a war.  You don’t have a clue what the high cost of your rhetoric is, but I do.  Soldiers clean up the messes of speech makers, protesters, slogan chanting morons whose feelings are more important than the consequences of their actions.   Have the courage to look in the mirror and own what you see, understand that when you provoke a confrontation, all the blood that follows is on your hands.

 

Honour: Remember yours.  To those who cry out for justice, have the honour to stick to that demand and I will join your call.  Choose instead to seek vengeance, and you have become a threat,  a danger whose true cost will be far higher than you can guess, and far more terrible than you will ever bother to accept.

 

The United States used to have a motto, E  Pluribus Unum.  From many come one.  In the 1950’s, you decided to change the words on your bills to “In God We Trust”.  Well the god that your founding fathers fought so hard to keep out of the government of the Union they forged is not about tolerance, accommodation, or reason.  It is no coincidence that since that time the “us/them” thinking has been the constant of the United States.

 

Canada is racially and culturally diverse, we frequently don’t get along.  Our police are not shining examples of virtue all the time either, but we are not one match away from civil war.  You people are.

 

Black lives matter, but the movement is a mad dog running in the street biting everyone it sees.  I see Black Lives Matters protesters blocking the Gay Pride Parade demanding the police be barred from having floats.  Wow, such an amazing grasp of intolerance, you really have identified the best way to make it clear that what you mean is “ONLY BLACK LIVES MATTER”.

 

Blue lives mater.  The police have a job I do not envy, as do Fire and EMT who likewise are doing their best to serve and protect all communities, but with a growing awareness that some calls may not be people in distress, but invitations to ambush.    Blue lives matter, they really do, but part of why they matter is that good cops work damned hard to make sure that their brothers and sisters in uniform do the job for which they took the oath, serving and protecting the public, not preying on it.

 

I look to the south, to my friends and neighbors.  I say to you; courage and honour.  You were once a great people, a land made great by the sons and daughters of every corner of the world united in a vision of freedom and opportunity.  You are still that people, though you know it not.  E pluribus unum.  From many peoples come one.  Or follow the Syrian path, the Yugoslav path, the Lebanese path, and turn your nation into a warzone, where the hand of every man is raised against the other, and children fear to walk the streets without armed escort.
Choose wisely, but understand, it takes two sides to make a compromise, and only one to wage a war.

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Aesir, Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Not Healing, Remodeling. Heathen Community in a therapeutic context

Not Healing, Remodeling.  Heathen Community in a therapeutic context

 

The Heathen community can be a really powerful tool for healing emotional and physical wounds, but it is not a tool that we always take advantage of, or wield particularly well.

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I am not a healer.  I have to be very clear about this.  My training is not, and never has been directed towards healing.  I have a background that equips me to speak with a fair degree of knowledge on the ways to disable, and destroy the human body, and its core functions.  I am equally skilled and practiced in the arts of preventing traumatic and medical issues from causing disability and destruction of the human body and its core functions.    This collection of skills together is about life saving and stabilizing, it is not about healing.  That is beyond my scope, and skill.
Healing actually mostly happens right away.  Minor injuries actually heal in a pretty much one step process, the damage being cleaned up and healthy tissue replacing the damaged tissue.  Anything beyond minor wounds works differently.  Clot, cleanup, heal, and remodel is the path that we follow.

I don’t do healing, I remodel like a son of a bitch though.  I am one, so it sort of goes with the territory.

 

For physical and mental injuries, shock gets you through the bad five minutes, and if people like me do their job, doesn’t kill you within the hour.  Now comes the clot and clean, the inflammatory process, the awareness of pain and violation.  At this point, if you have resources that your own training, philosophy, or practice have given you, they can make a real difference in your ability to deal with this bit.

 

Healing; is overrated.  Healing lays down scar tissue to fill in the blanks you lost good tissue in.  Then it stops.  Healing is done now, you have filler in the holes in you, and what comes next will hurt, and will largely be up to you.

Regeneration

Remodeling. Is the long painful process of tearing your scar tissue apart a piece at a time, to heal that particular bit properly, with actual functional tissue to replace the scar tissue.  Think of it like tear the muscle once by accident; then tear it a bit at a time over the next six months to get back to as close to 100% as you can get.  Or avoid the pain, and stay weak and at risk of reinjury.

 

In the mental and emotional world, this process works……..the exact same, sadly.  We have these things called coping mechanisms; they are the outer signs of our scar tissues.  Like scar tissues, they have got to go, or we will be crippled.  Like scar tissue, there is no easy way, no quick way to get rid of it.  You tear yourself a little bit at a time, and strive to heal that particular bit correctly.

The closest activity I have training in is minesweeping.  Oh yes, nothing like being taught field expedient mine sweeping to let you know that if you really ever need to use this, you are in deep trouble.  We leave it to the Combat Engineers in the physical world, but in the mental healing work we have to do, the mines are in our head, and there, we must do the work ourselves, but not necessarily unassisted.

 

The triggers: Coping mechanisms usually form up around our triggers to keep us from blowing ourselves up.  This is good, but really not the place to stop, it is the place to start, and it is harder and less successful alone.  You need to talk, a lot.

Heathen Talk

 

To talk you need to feel safe.  I don’t mean feel safe in the “No one is judging you, agape love for all” peace love and joy that frankly makes you even more reluctant to share the deeply ugly festering internal wounds, and all the filth that builds up in the capsules we form around them.  You need to feel the other kind of safe.  The kind of safe that you feel when you can look a person dead in the eye and tell the most shameful truth coldly, watch them react, and then literally fly off the handle with all the fear and rage you have been bottling up inside.  The kind of safe you can feel when you are able to let go your own controls on yourself because the people around can literally be trusted with the secrets you are pouring out, and to make sure, by force if necessary, that you do yourself and others no harm when you are letting out what is bottled in.

 

This is where your actual flesh and blood heathen community makes a difference.  At sumbel or just over a drink together, this is where you can be naked in the spiritual and mental sense without shame.  This is where you can submit your wound to the community, and let them collectively set their hands and minds to helping you lay down new pathways, healthier pathways around the damage.  To begin to rebuild the areas that were too broken to function, too dangerous to leave festering.
Like a minefield, this is something that takes a long time to clear.  You move one button at a time, one trigger at a time, and it isn’t perfect.  Some you learn to leave alone because they are not worth messing with, or will not resolve with the tools you have….yet.  Keep checking, that one changes sometimes without notice.

 

You can do this on your own, but when you need your own strength most is when your wounds, and all the self hating corruption that fills them weakens you most.  Your community can take some of that burden from you, and can give back to you some of the strength you have offered them freely in other times.

 

In their eyes you can see how they have weighed your deeds, your choices, your experience, and in a very heathen sense, your worth.  A strong community can be an agent that will allow you to speak those things you dare not admit to yourself, can show you how to put down the coping mechanisms that are slowly destroying you (but without which you wouldn’t have survived).

 

I am not a healer, but I am good at remodeling.  If you didn’t die when you were broken, then you have within you the capacity to win back yourself.  Not the who you were, but the who you can be when you have grown strong again in the broken places.

 

When we die, and face our ancestors, we will be naked save for the scars of your struggles.  By those scars, and the way you bear them, you will be known.  Our gods, from Odin to Tyr, bear their scars openly, for it is the scars both inside and out that are the testament to our will, to our love and commitment to those we struggle on for.  When you stand naked but for your scars before your community, or before your ancestors, you can do so with the knowledge that you will see their pride in you reflecting back the glory they see, not the broken thing you think yourself.

 

This is healing done right, this is Heathen remodeling, and it can work.  What it requires is a community that accepts that the world holds more things in it than you want to accept.  The fact that someone else has experienced horror in something you have only known safety in is not a threat to you, nor does it change your experience.  Someone who has the knowledge of dangers you have not thought about is not ruining your life, they are helping you to keep your world bright by opening your eyes to threats you would be happier to avoid.  Take that as a gift, and offer one in return.

 

Fear and shame are the enemies of healing, and the killers of men and women.  Fear of knowledge is unworthy of a heathen.  The first line of the Hamaval tells us to look long and hard before we enter a room, for dangers may lurk anywhere.  Bad things happen, know this, accept this, enjoy life more for the fact that you are paying attention to make sure as few bad things as possible happen to you and yours.

 

Fear of letting ugly realities intrude into our comfort zone causes people to lash out with shame at those who would answer our questions honestly, and share as we asked, of themselves.  This is unworthy, and cowardly.  This is victim blaming, victim shaming, and abuse motivated by cowardice.

A community that is strong grows strong because the people in it fear nothing so long as they are together.  A community that is truly strong chooses to stand with its members in their trials not out of obligation, but out of desire.

The magic of sumbel and of Heathen community in general is that those who dare to share their struggles with you share as well the glory of their triumph.  To be allowed to share such struggles is an honour, and to be able to share your strength with one who has spent all they own of their own is to know that you have given a gift without equal.  A gift for a gift is our way, and that feather weight you lend to the scales may mean little to you, but you may well find out what it meant to another when you have need, and they are there to give back what THEY feel your gift was worth.

 

Valknut-Symbol-triquetra

Remodelling is about tearing up scars, a bit at a time, and replacing them with something stronger, something healthier.  Remodelling is about shedding coping mechanisms because you have dealt with the thing that was going to kill you right now, and no longer need the coping mechanism that was just hurting you badly instead.  Remodelling hurts, but leaves us stronger.

Nothing is free.  A gift for a gift is our way.  If you value your community, if you value the people in it, you will learn how to be there for them, how to aid them in their struggles, and in turn, how to prepare yourself for your own.  We grow stronger together, and those who can face their community with perfect trust in imperfect people will know they have found one true place to stand, one true thing that will not fail them.
We can get this right, we can be the single most powerful tool for helping each other grow hale, whole and together; or we can lash out to defend our comfort zone.  Each community will judge for itself where their honour is to be found.
John T Mainer

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Uncategorized

Fault Lines and Snowmen

Snowman SaluteIce Sculpture

Here is a lesson learned by Canadian youth, frequently with stiches or close calls avoiding same.  Ice is hard as diamond in the cold, strong as steel…..from the right angle, and shatters like grandma’s china when hit the right way.  Snow is never really all that together, at is best it has a lot of fluff, but when you pack it together, it lasts.

Societies can be described in this pardigam as well.  Monocultures, societies that pride themselves on a single shared identity, a single crystal clear vision of themselves are indeed magnificent.  Shining like diamonds, these pillars of diamond hard perfecton make pillars that stretch from rooftop to snowbank, shining as pillars of purity and purpose.  Or they do until some knucklehead with a hockey stick strikes at the fault lines of that purity, and the ice shatters.

We accept the myth, in a large extent, that we have a culture as a country.  Every country does.  It is a good myth a useful myth, a myth that, at its heart teaches a truth, that we all do share something.  Like all myths, it is essentially a lie that teaches a truth; a story that illustrates and underlying message and isn’t itself to be accepted as a fact….accept we do.  Terrorism relies on this myth, for they seek to shatter those fault lies, and break our society.

Lines of fault; the stresses between those communities within our community.  Racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic strata or language.  There are a thousand lines of stress within our community, a thousand cleavage lines; and to the terrorist victory is as simple as a single public act of violence that strikes along those lines, and lets each side of the division seek and find fault ten thousand times over after the initial act of outrage.

Against a true crystal, against the beautiful and pure icicles, it would work.  Any kid with a hockey stick can tell you that much.  It didn’t work here in Canada with the shootings at the National War Memorial.  It didn’t work in Australia with the stabbings in Cairns.  Neither Canada nor Australia really buys its own mythology with the same patriotic fundamentalism as other countries.

We are snowmen.

We aren’t pure; in fact if you look too closely you will note enough dirt and other things that may make you desire to take your pictures from farther back.  We are not too tightly packed, on the whole.  We come together to build our community, and we like each other, mostly.  We don’t really see ourselves as a shining vision of purity, or really as one thing at all.  We clump together in happy half packed irregularity, hammered into a rough shape by the shared, somewhat amorphous dreams of our collective community, until we are struck.

Funny thing about snowmen, versus ice sculptures; we grow more tightly packed when we get struck, and what you break apart we can, and will, hammer back in place with a will.  Who has not seen children and teens, even adults or seniors when they think no one is looking stepping off the walk to do snowman repair.  Although we walk haughtily past them every day, a part of us is invested in seeing them, and when they are broken, we will often set aside our briefcase, or tool belt, and get our hands a little cold, and our dignity a little dinged to set things right.  We can’t really explain why, its just that snowmen are not expression of purity, they are expressions of hope, and we can build that.

We may dream of being the icy perfection, the cold clear purity of the ice sculpture, but the reality is our communities are snowmen, marked by the hammer of ten thousand hands, with more road dirt than we prefer to see, and perhaps the occasional stain for which our four footed brethren may take blame.  We are not all one thing, or mostly one thing, except perhaps mostly together.

We will never be more than mostly together for the things that divide us are often important, and often real.  We will never be less than mostly together either, for as long as lone acts of violence are seen by each of us for what they are, the act of an individual, we can and will continue to pick up the pieces of our community, hammer it back in place with shared hands, and step back onto the path of our normal day with a smile, knowing that through our work, the little snowman that we never really knew we valued is back together through the efforts of our hands.

Purity and unity are powerful visions, and great men and women use them to move whole peoples to do great, and sometimes terrible things.  Communities and snowmen are less perfect, crude and somewhat untidy, but they bring us together, and give us hope, as long as we keep stepping off the path of our own concerns, and getting our hands cold and dirty to put them back together again.

This Yuletide, take the time to stop and appreciate your local snowman.  Some of you may have the physical thing, and some of you may have to look harder to see the snowmen builders in your community,helping to bring together the untidy bits of our communities after some knucklehead with a hockey stick, or some terrorist with a cause, or polarizing police incident with a tragedy, seeks to break them.

This Yuletide, get a little dirty, let your dignity take a day off, and build a snowman.  If the Australians can get it right without two physical snowflakes to rub together, how much easier must it be for us?

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Asatru, Uncategorized

Pride is a root, not a whip

rune othala

       There is no denying the fact that we here in the west are growing up in a society that is Christian in its fundamental assumptions, and when newcomers to Heathenry seek to embrace the ways of their ancestors, the assumptions they bring across, unknowing, skew and distort the heathenry they practice.

Christianity is a dualistic system, good and evil, god and the devil, us and them.  There are only ever two possibilities, and very much you are either orthodox (same as me) or enemy.  This is consistent with their belief system, and the Obedience model in general.  This is not a part of pre-syncretic heathenry, any more than misogyny or racism was.  The belief and importance of orthodoxy/orthopraxy (ie the One True Faith) carried quietly over into heathenry, and took poisonous and divisive root.  With the One True Faith came the one definition of male and female, for if there is only one way to practice heathenry, there is only one way to live heathen, to love as a heathen.  These are all worthy discussions for another day, but I wish now to turn to the last, and most publicly damaging mistake of post-Christian heathenry; racism.

Part and parcel of Christianity is the One True Faith, and God’s Chosen People.  Oddly, you won’t find this in our lore.  Our gods supported individual families and tribes haphazardly across the ancient Heathen world, with saga’s like the Lombards pointing out how the gods themselves bickered over the support of one tribe or another in their contention [1].   Ours is a faith that celebrates community by birth, by marriage, by fosterage, and by oath.  Our gods spring from no one race, for among our mighty gods and peerless goddesses are Aesir, Vanir, and Jottun.  We have precious few “pure  bred” anything in our pantheon, as from our highest to our lowest it is ever and always your dedication to the community, your oaths, your service, the bonds of love and responsibility that determine your place, not your blood.

Freyr and Freja are Vanir by birth, Aesir only by fosterage and hostage bond that grew through reciprocal gifting of siedr and galdor into an alliance of two formerly warring peoples.  Freja receives half the valliant dead, yet is not wed to any Aesir, her dedication is one of oath and action, not blood or marriage.  Freyr won a wife from far Jottunheim, as the fair Gerd was won through trial and trickery as depicted in Skirnirmal [2].  Sif was Jottun herself until won in marriage by Thor, to become Aesir through her marriage, mother of Magni and Modi who will take Thor’s place after Ragnarok. [3].  Skadi is pure bred Jottun, yet honoured as Aesir for her oaths, as she demanded and received a husband for the suffering price of her Thor-slain father.  Although the marriage did not last; the mountains and oceans being to alien to each other, frith was kept on both sides, and the bonds between Skadi and the Aesir survived the failure of the marriage of Njord and Skadi [4].  Born in, fostered in, married in, sworn in; all held in equal esteem.  Our gods are the community of intention, of dedication and duty, not simply a blood grouping.  So is our heathen community today.

Our ancestors were a tribal people.  They were one of the only tribal peoples to be able to work together in confederation without empire or absorption.  During the migration periods, including the push down into Celtic lands ( and subsequent clash with Rome), and later waves of migration ending in the “Viking Age”, members of multiple tribes were able to cooperate, and even create joint settlements, because they accepted and respected the differences between each people.  Theirs was a pride that was a root that connected them to hearth and home, no matter how far or how long away.  Theirs was a pride that was internal, a root to anchor the self, not a whip to beat others.  To be proud of who you are does not require looking down on those who are different; that is the quiet poison of Christian dualism, where if something is different it must be wrong, and/or a threat.

Our ancestors intermarries where they traded, settled jointly the Orkeny islands with the Celts,  became important parts of societies as far away as Byzantium by virtue of their cosmopolitan outlook, and Heathen belief that their oaths were as binding to those outside their tribe or nation as inside.  Theirs was a community building, community bridging way of life.  Great cities and nations they founded with this concept of citizenship by oath, by deed, as well as by birth, that the nations they founded and built last today, where the feeble scraps of Rome, the God Emperors of Persia, of Alexander, and the Crusader kingdoms that enforced an impossible and unnatural uniformity lasted only as long as the boot was held firmly in place.  The whip builds nothing that lasts, but the root does.

Many people react negatively to folkish heathens, because they see in their pride of heritage the shadow of racism.  Many racists look to the concept of the folk as one group of hate filled Christians corrupted it in the Fascist Christian nations of Western Europe post WWI, and try to stretch it to cover their own racial hatreds.  In fact, folkish heathenry is about celebrating their own roots, something that Native Canadian and American Aboriginals are learning to do as well.  It is not about hating others, it is about discovering and honouring your connections to your ancestors.  The poisons of Christianity and its insidious dualistic approach to all questions has tainted the statements of pride in heritage with the assumption of hatred or superiority towards and over others.  For true heathens this is not true, for we are based on relationship (blood, oath, or adoption/foster, marriage, friendship, joint service), and as such know that the gods look not to the purity of your blood, but the purity of your commitment to those you owe duty towards.   Those who call themselves Heathens, but seek only a welcome place to practice the hatred that stole and stained our holy symbols in my Grandfather’s generation are not part of our community, but we do hold a responsibility to educate those who can be taught the difference between pride as a healthy root of identity (community building), and pride as a whip to scourge others (community destroying).

[1]http://allpoetry.com/poem/8461085-The-Longbeards-Saga-A.D.-400-by-Charles-Kingsley

[2]http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe07.htm

[3]http://www.blight.com/~sparkle/ring/poetic/vfthrdnr.htm

[4]http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm

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