Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Dead in her eyes

Goth Girl

 

Moving slow, dark eyed teen in the long black coat.  Black boots, black nails, black lips and snow white skin, she looked too deep, and looked too long.  They parted before her, the young and the old, but held their mockery until she passed, afraid to meet her gaze.  Freak they called her, witch they whispered, then shuddered as the sunlight strove to banish the grave chill of her passage, for the most ignorant among them could feel it; the dead in her eyes.

 

It had passed.  Winternights, the time of the light was dying, the time of the living waned, and the dead stirred in the mound, in the dark, and they hungered.  She felt them, the dead whispered to her, they called to her, sung to her in songs written in Hel the songs that please the two faced goddess, the corpse bride.  Songs the living should not hear sung in her bones, and the cold of the grave stirred in the shadows of her eyes.
She looked upon the great brooding trees, the majesty of their green canopy a tattered remnant, her black boots scritched and scratched through the dry leaves on the sidewalk.  The dead leaves sang to her, of dawns waking to the touch of sun, the bright dream of spring, the lazy heat of summer, dancing in the wild summer thunderstorm, then bleeding out green life, until only the gold and scarlet of death remain, and they let go of life and fall to the ground to dream of the summer past.  Falling to her knees in the pile of leaves she inhales the grave scent of their passing and feels the ghost of a hundred summer nights caress her, the warmth of a hundred summer days flickers behind her eyes, ghosts passing through her.

Rising she passes the cenotaph and the dead turn to watch her, dead eyes meet the same in icy silence.  She feels one rise and take her hand.  Cold fills her with the touch of the grave, him who died so young fills her with a chill her living flesh cannot shake, and he/she/they turn towards the coffee shop.  Her flesh hungers, his soul thirsts.  He wants a coffee, she wants pumpkin spice, and orders a pumpkin spice coffee and muffin.

Sitting at the table alone/together, she feels the blood hot coffee fill her mouth, the bite of the coffee, the burn, the warm unfolding of the layers of spice subtly blended to reveal one by one like the aftertaste of a whiskey she has never tasted, but the spirit within her had.  They revel in the warmth and sensation of the coffee, the muffin, the babble of conversation, the laughter, couples holding hands, children playing games they make up with rules no adult may know but each grasps easily.  Dead man and living girl breathe the scent of the coffee and exhale the feeling of warm, alive, and full, and the hungry dead sighs in peace, the dead eyed girl experiencing her own life through the eyes of those who have lost the chance for those little moments.
Her eyes catch those of the girl at the next table, she is always there at this hour.  The goth girl’s heart skips and a blush rushes to her too pale cheeks.  She sits here to see her, but says nothing.  Inside her head the dead man stirs, his cold dead eyes see through hers, his cold dead heart stirs the ashes of a love unrequited, unspoken, unlived because he died never having spoken.

“Tell her, tell her TELL HER, tell her, tell her tell her!”  he whispers, he screams, he sobs.  She remembers with him writing a hundred letters he never mailed to the one he loved, he remembered shaping her name with lips growing blue as his lungs filled with blood as he breathed his last a thousand miles from her smile.  She shuddered, the fear of letting it pass without ever daring tore through her like the memories of bullets her flesh had never known.

Screwing her courage to the sticking place, she got up and walked to the door.  As she passed the girl, she met her eyes, and smiled awkwardly.

“I think you are really pretty.”  The goth girl spoke, and smiled again, before blushing and ducking out, her blood hammering in her ears like thunder.  The approval of a dead man whose eyes judged the girls reaction as surprise but not rejection, echoing in her ears as the dead man slipped back into the dark.

Stopping at the playground, she felt the cold presence of the old woman come upon her, as always, the old woman felt surprise to feel a body that was not bent and trembling, that stood strong and whole, but it was the girl who felt her heart too weak for what swelled within it now.

Old eyes who had buried husbands, daughters, sons, who had held three generations in her hands, and seen them grow, laugh, cry and go forth in the world before she passed from it.  Come back again, and again for the grave was no bar to love, for while one drop of her blood walked this world, so would she look out to make sure they were well, and loved.

Tears welled in the goth girls eyes, for her own family were strange and distant with each other, never knowing how to speak to each other, never understanding each other, divided by a common language and differing dictionaries.  She felt the love of the old woman, accepting each of her loved ones as what they were, the strong, the weak, the proud the foolish, the broken, the bitter, each looked to her with love for each saw from her only love, whether she understood their lives, their journeys their goals or not, she supported them, and claimed them all.

 

The goth girl broke her own rule then and spoke to the ghost that filled her.  One word, a whisper in a graveyard, a howl in her soul.

“How?”  How do you love the ones who cannot accept you, who cannot understand you, who cannot forgive you for not being what they dreamed you would be?  How do you love the ones you cannot talk to without arguing, cannot seem to say the right things, cannot seem to not start a fight when all you want to say is I love you.

The old woman reached cold arms around the living girls chest, and crushed her to her breast as she had crying children, weeping women, stone faced men, a hundred wounded souls she claimed as her own and whose pain she took with the simple and wordless embrace, the arms that would hold when the crying was done, when the shouting was spent, when the silence was crushing, when the walls closed in and left no room to breathe, her arms gave shelter, gave hope, gave love and acceptance.

Tears running down her face, black makeup making scars on a white skin grown pale with cold no living can know, an outward sign of an inward wound the living cannot see, but the dead all see.

 

Stumbling through her door, her mother looks at her, the black shadow that replaced the laughing little girl she understood and loved, alarm rose in her.  Opening her mouth to say something, then stopping, not wanting another fight, she rejected a half dozen ways to ask what was wrong, and settled for a single word.

“Honey?”  Her mother was unprepared for the dark shadow her daughter had become hurling herself into her mother’s arms and holding her so tight it almost hurt.  She felt her daughter’s heart hammering, then, slowing to a strong slow beat, as the breathing went from a almost panting to calm and deep as the grip of whatever held her relaxed and her daughter’s grip relaxed to a gentle hug.

Letting her hands fall off her mother’s back, she squeezed her hand once before passing upstairs to her room.  The dead were in her eyes, they would not let her close her eyes to life.

None but the living can ignore life, none but the living can reject love, none but the living can turn away from the beauty of a sunset, the fall of the last leaf, the first snow, the moon shining above the water, the opening of the rose.  The dead hunger, and she has the dead in her eyes.

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Aesir, Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Living with the dead

maplewood-cemetery

It seems somewhat obvious, but for those who haven’t done the math, let me do it for you now.  For every person that lives today, there are fifteen dead people.  One hundred and seven billion dead occupy this world, along with a mere seven billion living.

We are less and less comfortable with death and with dying as we use our technology to stave off personal encounters for the better part of a century, over a century for some.  This does not change the number of dead that exist, or will exist, it simply gives us lots of time to pretend death doesn’t exist, and work really hard not to think about those who have gone before.

 

We put walls around cemeteries, fences whose job is not to keep people out, as most of them are fairly token, but they are deeply important to us, as they are the boundary that separates the living of this world, from its dead.

Burnaby Cemetary 1

Some people don’t have that option.  Some people, by inclination, training, experience or just wyrd are aware of the dead who have not gone.  What can we say to those who don’t have the option of just denying the existence of the dead, outside the rituals we have constructed for the purpose of interacting with out dead deliberately?

 

First, the dead is a really broad term, about as useful in deciding specific actions as the living is.  There are all kinds of dead, just as there are all kinds of living.  Of the seven billion or so living on the planet with you right now, almost none of them are going to have any effect on you at all,  so it is with the dead.  The default answer is that it is a big old world, and you can get on for a whole lifetime without actually encountering someone who moves through spaces fairly close to yours on a daily basis.

 

Most of the dead are bound to the mound, to the underworld, to the sea, or to whatever received either their body or their ash.  Like gravity, death defines the lowest energy state and eventual end state of anything without a great deal of energy to expend as in the mound, the earth, the stream where they were laid.

 

We are still tied to our dead, and they to us.  We can and do call to them, consciously or unconsciously through the ties we forged in life.  Those ties often stretch far beyond a single generation, and can carry along all the ties that bind, not simply blood.  When we stand at the Centotaph and call our warrior dead to us, their spirits answer, and the living, however stooped and aged stand strong and proud again when they feel the ageless brothers (and sisters) who served with them return to their call.  They shall not grow old, as we who were left grow old.  We who are left are charged to keep the watch for them that fell, to defend the freedoms and the families for which they fought, and fell.  Yet although they have paid the final price, still do they come to our call, and we give them bright offerings of praise, and gifts to honour them

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Families still make pilgrimage to the mounds, the graves, the internment place of their dead for the purposes of making offerings to them, and of feeling again the touch of the spirit of their honoured dead.  We use the reciprocal gifting relationship that we learned to use in life to maintain the relationships with our dead.

Headstone
That is our honoured dead.  There are two categories that remain, the dead that are not our own, and those who are not worthy of honouring.

Before beginning to answer the question about what to do about dead people who fall into the “other than my own honoured dead, but still bugging me” category, I find it helpful to reflect upon the words of my grade eight English teacher reguarding conversational intent.  Consider first two questions; Audience and purpose.  To whom am I speaking, and what do I want from them.

OK, that is really important, first of all, look at the second one.  What do you want?

 

Basic level, most common and defensible concern for the living who are aware of the dead, and not happy about it, the purpose would be, quite simply, to be safe from ill-wishings of the dead.  Totally reasonable.  The Norse understood unquiet dead spread famine and disease, could through Wod bring possessive  frenzy and violence into the community.  Physically anything that came back was disposed of through bogging (stake out in the  bog, bound to the bog and staked down to it), through dismemberment (cut off the head, tuck it below the knee so the dead will not rise or walk again).  You could give the dead to the fire, that it strip the flesh away and remove the ties that bind it to the land of the living.  You could cast it into the sea, for what Ran takes she keeps.  In fact sunlight, the essence of Sunna and the primal fire of life is easiest bar to the dead, as it takes great energy to bring the dead into its presence (ie group ritual like the rememberance).  Salt is also a bar to the dead, blood of Ran, it has the power to deny passage to spirits, and to disrupt their form.

Your own hearth will offer such protection, often enhanced by a deliberate land taking, you can simply banish from the limits you define as your own space, those wights with all ill intent.  This will bar hostile wights, but it also binds you to a duty to maintain a positive reciprocal gifting relationship with the wights who are beneficial and remain in the space.

If you do a land taking and the spirit persists, it has bound itself to your benefit, and to your hearth.  You now have a duty to it, as any of your house-wights to  share your hospitality, and derive from it such benefit as is within its power and matching scope of your offering.

If you are bothered by dead at night in places other than your own, well for work places or school you may want to work on fostering relations with the other wights of those places to ensure your not being harassed, as far as the rest of the planet, it’s a big place, and we don’t own it, so live and let live, even with the dead.

 

If you are truly concerned about the dead being a problem, reach out to your Disir.  Male spirits after death are not usually given the ability to do more than communicate or teach unless they pull together an easily destroyed revenant or draugr, but your maternal ancestor spirits are proported to collectively weild great power  to affect change in this world, and have a deep and abiding interest in your life and wellbeing.
In essence, if you are being bugged by a nasty spiritual pitt-bull that you are worried about, call out the hunt, and a wolf-pack of your maternal ancestral spirits will take care of anything that needs taking care of.  Do not invoke them lightly, for they are real, they are powerful, and they are going to act as they see fit, reguardless of what limitations you would like to set upon their actions.  They are powerful, motivated, and purportedly prone to permanent solutions, so  call if you honestly need them.

disir

 

Being dead does not make people any better or worse than they were in life, however it does make them a whole lot less connected with this world in any independent fashion.  We share this world, the living and the dead, but death is to spirits as gravity is to arrows, a powerful attractant that gathers to the earth almost everything that once soared high.  This world is given to us from the hands of our dead, and held in trust by us for those who are yet to come.  There is no us and them, we are all of us bound together, the dead who have gone before, the living who are now, and the future descendants yet unborn.  We all have the power to affect each other, the web of wyrd stretches in all directions, but from the point of view of those of us bound in it by life and time, power to make change belongs to the living almost exclusively.  We are the power that shakes the world, the dead are but echoes of that.

 

 

 

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