Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Chronic Pain Meditation

Pain Meditation

A woman of my kindred has asked that I share my pain meditation, so for her, and such others as it may help, here it is.

Background:

 

I am a soldier, son, grandson of soldiers.  Not just people who did their trades in uniform, but the kind of front rankers that do the bulk of the actual fighting.  We have a history of standing into battle in this fashion that stretches back over a thousand years, our descent is from those who lived such lives and came back to have families.  This gives an inherited skillset that includes a wonderful tool for dealing with pain in active settings.

In terms the army would use as it sought to teach the same lessons I had learned from before I grew my first tooth, the trick is to “eat the pain, and shit power” (don’t you love the army?  Such poetry).  That is you take pain, feed it to your rage, and channel it through your discipline and trained reactions to allow you to overcome whatever is in your path.  It is a wonderful tool, on the tactical level.  It does however have that limitation.  That path is an active path, a violent and focused path, fueled by rage, turned ice cold by discipline, and utterly suited towards dealing as swiftly and decisively as possible with whatever challenge it faces.  There is neither hesitation, nor remorse; there is also no reckoning of the costs.  You will achieve your goals no matter the cost.

 

To all those who are nodding because this sounds really neat, you missed a lot of the important information. Firstly, it’s a tactical tool.  There is no long term thinking, zero creativity.  This is a purely reactive state.  As far as a survival tool, there is literally nothing better, but it will ruin your life, and those around you if you live in this mode.  You won’t consider the cost to yourself or others, you will not try to find a better way, you will simply go directly through whatever is in front of you with whatever is the quickest solution, with no consideration of anything beyond that immediate task.

 

The other thing you have to understand is that this is an active process, it consumes energy and causes you to harm yourself by ignoring your limits (the safety limits your body puts, like speed governors, to prevent you from tearing yourself apart with all the power you can actually generate, rather than safely channel).  The more pain you are in, the more of your energy this path takes.  If you are in acute pain, as a short term solution, it can power you through the bad spots.   If you are in chronic pain, then this will stop you from actually living, keeping you in survival mode until you have driven away everyone you care about, and finished destroying a body you refuse to listen to or allow to heal.

 

I had the opportunity, and boy did it take a long time to view it that way, to undergo an ordeal after a major spinal injury, and seek answers from our gods and ancestors as to how to cope with my injuries.  I was given some gifts I cannot explain, and cannot share.  I was also given instruction in something to deal with my pain, an instruction that was not short or pleasant, but was effective in ways I cannot explain to anyone who has not spent years trapped in chronic pain.
I will explain the meditation.

Pain Meditation: Form and images

 

This is not an otherworldly meditation.  This is perhaps the most difficult thing for most people with a lot of magical experience to grasp, this meditation is anchored in this world, and does not seek to take you out of your body at all.

 

Begin with opening your awareness.

Your back is to the Tree, Yggdrasil  The world tree.  Let your back rest against it, feel the bark behind you.  Know that it rises above you, branches reaching all the upper worlds, roots reaching far below to the underworld itself.  Feel the bark behind you, breathe deeply and let it go.  Let your hands touch the ground.  Feel the earth, the rough material of this world.  Know that you are rooted in this world, you will not journey this day.

Take a belt, a rope, a string, whatever you are comfortable wearing, and lay it upon your lap.

Take a deep breath, feel the tree, the bark of the world tree, the pillar of this world, the axis of all reality.  Take up your binder.
Let your breath go.  This is your world.  This is your place

 

Bind yourself, belt yourself, in doing so, bind yourself to the Tree which is this world, bind yourself to it because you are committing to stay here through what comes next.

 

Take a deep breath, let go, feel your pain, your fear, the tiredness that runs at your heels like Skoll after the moon; half a step behind, and always hungry.

 

You are bound to the tree, no force in the nine worlds may move you, no external force may touch you, you are safe from all that comes from outside.
Breathe in, accept that there is no external threat, and let go

 

Open your inward eye, your visualization.

 

You sit cross legged beneath the tree, before you laps a great ocean, it laps at the roots of the tree, and fills your foreground.  Above you in the sky wheels a raven, slow lazy circles as he watches the tide come in, gently lapping ever closer to your feet.

Look at the sea, and know it for your pain.
Tree at shore
Your arts have pushed it outside of your awareness of self, have locked it away until your strength faded, for the tide is rising, and none may turn it back.  It is time to meet it.
Take a slow breath in, and let it go.  Watch the waves lapping ever closer to your body.  Let your breath move in time with the waves.

Breathe with the waves, they are not foreign, they are a part of you.  Move with them, breathe with them.  Each breath, the tide washes closer until it begins to lap at your body.

The waves begin to lap at your feet and lower legs, let yourself become aware of your feet, your ankles, your arches, your calves, shins.  Feel each of them, itemize each pain that you find.  Learn them.
Breathe in, breathe out, the water is lapping over your legs, and with each brush of the wave you feel the pains of your legs.  This is your pain, this is your body.  This is not foreign, not an enemy.  Relax

Bound to the tree, you are immovable.  You cannot be lost, no storm make take you, no wave overcome you.  Bound to the tree, you are safe from all external threats.  Breathe in, breathe out.

Feel the waves wash over your knees, thighs and hips.  Feel each pain as the tide washes over them, feel them, acknowledge them, own them.  This is your pain, this is your body, this is no threat, no enemy.  Breathe in, breathe out.

 

Let the tide wash over your stomach and chest, feel the pains of your gut, your back, your shoulders, chest and abdomen.  Breathe deeply, let the sharp stabbing of those pains you learn to breathe shallow to avoid be felt now, accept the pain, and breathe, breathe.  You are still here, still safe, the pain is part of you, your pain, your body.  You are anchored in the tree and cannot be lost.

Let the tide roll over your shoulders and arms, down your hands, feel the waves taking your arms and moving them as it washes in and out.  Do not fear, this is your pain.  Let it guide you to the places that you force yourself to ignore while you work.  Feel the pains you normally block out, accept them.  Feel your hands moving in the tide.

The tide now laps at your chin, at your mouth and nose.  Fear rises in you.  Pain is trying to overwhelm you, and you feel the strong temptation to reach for power, to reach for adrenaline, and make the pain go away.

 

You are bound to the tree, no external force may harm you.  No external force may move you.  All that exists here is you.  There is no other, no threat; no enemy.
Open your mouth, and breathe.
The tide fills your mouth, rises to cover your nose, washes over your eyes and crown of your head.  You drown in the pain that rushes in to fill your body.
Breathe in, breathe out.  Offer no resistance.
Breathe in, allow the pain to fill your chest.

Breathe out, let the pain flow from your chest throughout your body.
Breathe in, this is your pain
Breathe out, this is your body

Sitting underwater
Breathe in, I claim this pain

 

Breathe out, this is my pain

Breathe in, I claim this body

 

Breathe out, this is my body

 

Breathe in, I love this pain

Breathe out, I love this body

 

Breathe in, I do not fear my pain
Breathe out, I do not punish my body

Open your eyes

 

Breathe in, look at the room around you
Breathe out, feel your body, feel its true state
Breathe in, rise up
Breathe out, feel the sharp pain, the aches, the bright burning wires we train ourselves to avoid

Breathe in, sway as the tree sways, move in the wind that drives the tide ashore

 

Breathe out, feel the pain in your limbs, in your trunk,

 

Breathe in, feel the edges of it, the hard edge that warns if you push, it will punish
Breathe out, this is a limit
Breathe in, you could summon your power and push past it
Breathe out, but right now, we see the limit, we acknowledge it

Breathe in, learn your body like you learn your lover
Breathe out, touch, move, allow yourself to feel

 

Breathe in, we do not resist

 

Breathe out, we accept our limits, we do not resent them
Breathe in, we thank our pain

Breathe out, we thank our protector
Breathe in, we move through the shallow waters
Breathe out, we let the pain of our resting body be known to us
Breathe in, we let the pain of our resting body teach us our limits

 

Breathe out, we move to those limits and not beyond
Breathe in, I accept this is my pain

 

Breathe out, I accept these are my limits

Breathe in, I am at peace

 

Breathe out, I am alive

 

Breathe in, this is my body

 

Breathe out, this is my pain

Breathe in, fill my lungs with pain

 

Breathe out, feel it wash through my body

 

Breathe in, It is still my body

 

Breathe out, I love my body
Breathe in, look around you

 

Breathe out, let your mind wander

Breathe in, is there beauty?

 

Breathe out, take time to look at it, let yourself get lost in it

 

Breathe in, is there foolishness, silliness, or humour?
Breathe out, laugh

 

Breathe in, pain does not preclude joy

 

Breathe out, pain does not preclude laughter

 

Breathe in, the pain is part of me

Breathe out, I accept it as the price of joy

 

Breathe in, look for a task to do
Breathe out, begin to work, slowly
Breathe in, think about what you do
Breathe out, experience it, feel your body

Breathe in, listen to your pain

 

Breath out, feel it teach you your limits

Breathe in, look at your task

 

Breathe out, does it require sacrifice?

 

Breathe in, is this an all cost task, do I need to hurt myself to finish it?

 

Breathe out, you can summon your power, if you need to
Breathe in, but not now

 

Breathe out, let go the power

 

Breathe in, laugh

 

Breathe out, accept this is your limit

 

Breathe in, move slowly and carefully

 

Breathe out, listen to your pain

 

Breathe in, let it fill you
Breathe out, let it guide you
Breathe in, let it know you

 

Breathe out, let you accept it as part of you

 

Breathe in, move through your task without raising your pain level
Breathe out, if you must pause, then pause

 

Breathe in, you will not hurt yourself
Breathe out, you love yourself

 

Breathe in, pain does not hate you

 

Breathe out, pain wants to stop you hurting yourself
Breathe in, love your pain

 

Breathe out, hate your pain

 

Breathe in, your task is complete
Breathe out, let yourself rest
Breathe in, your pain is still here
Breathe out, you are still here
Breathe in, beauty is still here
Breathe out, joy is still here

 

Reach down and grasp your binding

 

Breathe in, the pain is mine
Breathe out, this is my body

 

Breathe in, I am not lost

 

Breathe out, this is my body
Release the binding, let go the tree that anchored you

 

Breathe in, you are just you

 

Breathe out, whole and well

 

 

-At this point the meditation is done, you have taken yourself from the pain induced body fear, to body acceptance, and begun to reclaim your sense of self, sense of body.  You will also have gained the passive state required to accept, perceive, and address emotional nuance in anything other than survival mode, which honestly is a threat/response system that really is a relationship killer.  In the passive state you will be sensitive to inspiration, because you will no longer be actively blocking the channels that are shut down by the adrenal pathways.
You will still call upon adrenaline when you must overcome your pain to get stuff done.  This is still a requirement as some tasks, especially for working people and parents, need to be done, regardless of cost to you.  It is however not the only path open to you anymore.

 

For those people who have experienced sexual dysfunction related to pain, or a decreased arousal due to chronic pain issues, I would suggest a sensual exploration of your body as part of this meditation.  I am not actually telling you to masturbate, because too often that is focused on getting enough signal through the pain to get you to your happy place, I mean sensually explore your body and rediscover the joy of being touched.  Learn to see your body again as a thing of sensuality and joy, rather than simply a source of pain, a tool and a weapon.

 

The adrenal pathway of using rage to convert body pain into power is useful, and I will be the last one to put it down, but it is about survival, not about living.  The gods chose to share this little tool with me, and allow me to regain my joy, my creativity, and such interpersonal skills as I possess at the best of times.
I was always a good killer and healer, adrenaline and tactical thinking will get you that far, but you cannot be a leader, a lover, a parent, an artist or a whole and joyous human being if all you are doing is surviving.  Living requires acceptance, rather than defiance.

 

Notes on Effects:

This one takes months of use before it becomes instinctive.  Actually, you might be able to do far better, I am really good at the active pain pathway, too much berserker in the bloodline probably, so those who are a little less drawn to self destruction will find the pathway easier than I did.  The good news is, that if one of Odin’s little hardcases can make it work, anyone with half a functioning brain and no active death wish should find it tons easier.

 

Side effects I should warn you about, if you have been shut down creatively for a long time, your dreams will be an issue at first.  Vivid, powerful, emotionally really potent.  You have a back pressure to deal with, but it calms down after a while.

 

Empathy.  When you use this often enough, you may notice an increased sensitivity to the emotions of others.  This is a mixed blessing as not everything you learn will be pretty, but it also allows you to understand the effects of your own behaviour and take such steps as you feel are required to be comfortable with the effects of your actions.

You are not who you were; be prepared for the restored creativity to be different.  This isn’t bad, you haven’t lost anything (well traded, like youth for maturity), you have simply added more to your awareness and this is reflected in the form and content of your creative modes.

 

Your sexuality may have a couple of new bits.  There are some things about learning to accept and love your pain that expand the horizons a bit.  Trust me, there is nothing wrong with learning new things that bring you joy, when the world has already gone out of its way to show you new things to bring you misery.

 

Notes on Drugs:

 

I am not telling you to use them, or not to use them, this is a tool I am giving you.  There are other tools as well.  Some tools you want to take a long hard look before taking up, and sometimes there are no other options than taking up tools that come with side effects, if you want to have a life that is useful and productive on terms agreeable to you.

I find drugs good for acute pain, and crappy for chronic.  In using them only for acute pain, or really bad periods of chronic conditions you get the maximum bang for your buck, and minimum amount of side effects.  That being said, many people simply are not going to be functional without medication to augment their other efforts, and the correct thing to do is just that.

The gods and ancestors gave us wonderful tools, some are magical, some are skills, and some honestly are science discovered pharmaceuticals.  I kid you not, your ancestors were not stupid, and suffering for no reason is about as close to the definition of stupid as I can get.  We were gifted with the need to learn, to explore, to understand, and the tools our ancestors have left us are there for us to use.  Use no more than is necessary, but by all the gods, use no less either!

Advertisements
Standard
Heathen, Uncategorized

Working Around Scary

Massage.jpg

Recently I had a massage at a health spa that went a little sideways.  The worker who was doing the massage was a very good masseuse, she was also empathic and a really poorly trained energy worker.  To make it even worse, she had learned Yoga from people who ignored the spiritual aspects of it, so she had unlocked a whole lot of tools she had no idea how to use, and doors she had no idea how to close.  Being a dear sweet little thing, she wanted really hard to open herself to others and use her energy for healing.  Awesome.  Live among the most privileged in our society who have lived their entire existence pampered and sheltered and you will only have to worry about the true predators who stalk those reaches.  However, there are a fair number of us other folk who will scare the spots off you for various reasons.

Some of us are veterans either of military or police who cannot shut off their situational awareness, their focus, and the constant threat assessment of their surroundings.  We radiate like predators because we never really turn off that part of us that is always seeking, evaluating and prioritizing threats in our environment, and preparing contingency plans, more or less reflexively for dealing with them.

There are those who are in physical pain, whose bodies when you touch them are alive with the energy of pain on a level that to us is simply the chronic pain background noise, about 3-4 out of ten, if we have to think about it, but largely ignored outside the first few minutes after waking.  If you have not suffered serious injury or disease states that leave you in agony that will never, ever stop, you can’t help but be overwhelmed when you touch pain like that.  If however, it goes on long enough, you really can get used to anything, and we do.  We will be aware of the pain as you work each center, and even as the pain spikes we feel the relief that the massage is bringing and react positively even as you feel the pain increase (well yes, but only when you are working it, in your wake it is much better).

There are those who suffer PTSD from serious trauma.  Some again are veterans, some are sexual assault victims, some are survivors of serious physical trauma or long debilitating/humiliating disease.  There are wounds that leave scars in the mind, stains and twisting in the energies.  These are marks of the survivors and the reality of the coping mechanisms that got us through, and may or may not be great for functioning at the moment.  Life is a work in progress, healing a journey that actually ends in death not wellness, as you never really finish from some wounds.  Step by step, day by day you get better, and hopefully you are still doing it when you die.

OK, so that is the set of problems, so, what is the solution.  Training.  OK, here is your quick and dirty training for how to work among the scary.  I don’t mean just people who intimidate you, I mean how to remain positive and focused, around people whose condition, energy, emotion and physical pain levels cause you to panic, withdraw, or take actual harm.

Starting with the assumption you are in a therapeutic situation and you are not simply willing to use your shields to shut yourself down, cut yourself off from the awareness of others.  Let us assume you actually wish to keep your empathic senses open, and use your energy to interact with and theoretically help someone whose own state or nature disturbs you.  We are going to review Grounding, Centering and Shielding inside the specific context of therapeutic interactions.

I generally center first, relying on myself more than any external anchor, but for those who are not used to dealing with hostile, frightening, or painful energies it might be helpful to start with grounding, so there I will begin.

Grounding:  My tradition and training uses Yggdrasil, the world tree.  The tree visualization does not actually require you to believe in Yggdrasil, nor understand the nine worlds in the structure of Heathen traditions, you simply have to know what a tree looks like, how it is basically structured, and that it roots in the ground.  If you have seen a tree, then you know enough for this to work for you.

Hanged Man Tree

Lightning strikes the earth, the sun lashes it, the ice claws at it, but the earth is vast beyond useful measure and these energies literally ground in her without effect.  The scope of the earth is such that the most terrible energies can be released into her with no measurable effect.  We ground in the earth like rivers do in the sea, she received from us that which we cannot hold, even as she anchors us firmly in place.

See the tree in your mind, feel your hands as branches, your skin as bark and leaf.  You feel the energies absorbed by your leaves, buffeting your branches.  Take in the energy, let it flow down through you to your roots.  Sink those roots deep into the earth, feel the calm quiet dark of the earth.  Feel the slumbering life within it.  Let the energies wash over you and release them into the earth.  The earth is vast beyond comprehension, and the energies that are too much for you pass almost unnoticed through your roots and into the living earth.  You feel the energy bleed into the earth, even as you feel your roots sink deep into her firmness, locking and anchoring you in place.  You are grounded, anchored, and able to weather the storm of energies you may encounter without fear.

Centering is next.  You can center in yourself if you do not wish to involve external aid or powers.  If you choose to do so, take the time to breathe in slowly and deeply, focusing on your internal power, your awareness of yourself.  Let the external world become less important and reach deep within your own awareness of yourself.  With each breath in feel your power flowing along your limbs.  Feel it flow outward from your chest through each limb, up your neck to your crown, flowing through your body and into your feet.  Feel that energy defining you, your core self, core awareness.  This is you, only you.  Hold that in your mind, know yourself, and prepare to deal with energies that are not self, awareness of other.  Do so from the strong foundation in your self.  If you are spiritual or religious in practice, as many of us are, a secondary part of any healing work, be it counselling, or physical healing, is the Call.

If you seek the aid of other powers, however you define them, be it the earth itself, your ancestors, your gods (or God if you are of that persuasion) it is time now for you to Call.  The act of opening yourself by intent is not the same as a simple prayer.  This is a working.  This is a job.  A task.  You are making of yourself a tool to do a specific job.  When you Call, you are not asking for a generalized blessing, you are actually asking for a very specific aspect, that part or aspect of your god, your spirit, your ancestral guide, or higher power however you define them, that most corresponds to the work you want to do here.  Intent isn’t everything, but if you get it wrong, the rest seldom goes well.  Be clear and be honest about what you are asking for.  If you feel you are in danger of being overwhelmed, you open yourself to your god with the specific and clear intention of allowing their essence to fill you, to anchor you, so that you may work without fear or harm, to allow you to open fully without being overwhelmed by energies more powerful or simply of alien nature to your own.  Self care is critical in any and all healing work, get that wrong, and you have added to the injured, rather than healed anyone.  When you have Called, prayed, invoked or simply focused your awareness on your connection to the divine, you are ready for the next step.

Grounded in the earth, centered in yourself, your connection to the divine, if you use it, already established with the specific intent of your working you are now ready for shielding.

Shielding in the healing process is different from regular defensive shielding.   Rather than simply deflecting or protecting yourself, you seek something a little more complex, nuanced, and ambitious.  Rather than blocking all the dangerous energies, you want to simply keep them from damaging you, while allowing you to experience them, to know them, draw them out, and where appropriate and safe, use your established channels to ground safely any dangerous excesses that are released by your work.

Shielding in the healing context.  The visualization that is most useful to you will depend on your Call, or your centering technique.  One that I found useful was to extend the tree imagery.  I let my shields, my rejection of Not-Self flow over me like bark on the tree.  Flowing from my center, augmented by grounding in the far greater presence of the divine that I have opened myself to, my shields are a hard skin of bark against which the energies I touch in the person I work with will be felt.  I can feel what touches the bark, but it is my choice what I allow to pass inward, to feel, to experience, and yes, to channel downward and ground in the earth, or channel inward to the aspect of my god I have invoked to aid me in my work.

I am good at pain, so I tend to allow the awareness of pain to be drawn into me, because I am better at processing it, and by doing that I can free up the person I am working with to process and deal with actual change or healing, as the simple handling of pain is a massive energy drain unassisted.  It is not my pain, and will not root in me, but can be channeled with little effort into the earth, or offered to my god.  Odin works well for ordeals, including healing ones, so pain is a coin that will buy healing in certain contexts.  If you are not good at pain, allow the pain to flow down your shields and ground it through your roots into the earth.  The earth is so vast it can drink all the pain that ever was and be unchanged.  You do not need to experience it if that will interfere with your ability to do your job.  Be aware of it, be aware of the shape and intensity of it, the changes in it.  You must always and ever be sensitive to spikes in pain and/or fear because you cannot know what changes inside a person’s mind and body will be made by even the simplest alteration of the balance of stresses under which they live.  You don’t have to understand their internal landscape, just sense when what you are doing is causing distress, and be able to avoid pushing at those fault lines.

Standard shields will allow you to cut yourself off from the awareness of the other person’s will, their pain, their emotions.  In a healing context, you will often find the need to open yourself to those very things to an extent to follow the most important dictate in any healing process “DO NO HARM”.  You cannot ensure you are doing no harm, if you are shielding yourself from all the effects you are having on your person, for this reason, you must actually use your sensitivity to a degree.
Center in yourself, shield yourself so that you can be aware but not harmed by the energies that are under your fingers.  Remain centered in yourself, go as slow as you need to, but you must always and ever remain centered in yourself, with clear understanding of what is coming from you, and what is coming from them.  Ground deep in the earth, bleeding off not only excess and dangerous energies from them, but those energies that will snap up in you in response.  Do not be ashamed of fear, shame, anger, or other emotional responses to the energies of another’s pain.  Own those responses that are yours, ground out the energies that are harmful with every single exhalation, give them up to the earth, but be aware of where the response came from in you, and be prepared to deal with the emotional consequences later, preferably with help from those who share your tradition and practice.

I am not going to give you instruction at how to work with someone else’s energy.  That is something you really need to seek a far wiser teacher for, and you had best have developed specific and real skill sets before you attempt it.  I will say two important things; do not ever work with someone else’s energy, pain, or emotions without their express permission.  That means INFORMED consent.  If they don’t know that they are naked in front of your eyes, you are violating their reasonable expectations of privacy and you are actually in a position to do much harm through the violation of trust.  Second, what we can do for others is help them deal with effects, free up their energies to deal with causes.  We can’t make wounds go away, we can’t undo damage.  Don’t ever trivialize people’s wounds by thinking you can simply magic them away.  That is not what we can do.  What we can do is useful and important.  We can reduce the negative effects of their burdens on them, and make easier their efforts to remodel their own bodies, mind and emotions on a gradual step by step basis.  If you make someone feel better, that is not a problem gone, that is a blessed moment of relief that may enable them to make steps toward meaningful and lasting change, but do not pretend you can “fix people”.  It insults them, trivializes their trauma, and makes mockery of the real and lasting good you can actually do.

You don’t have to shut yourself off from people whose energies and intensity is disturbing to you.   To be empathic, to be able to share another’s pain is an immensely useful tool in making real and positive differences in their experience.  The twin principals of “do no harm” to them, and “self care” for you are best served by only opening yourself to intense or dangerous energies, or powerful personalities in a therapeutic setting after you have grounded, centered and shielded yourself in such a way you can work safely, respectfully, and honestly with whoever you are working with.

There are lots of people out there who are apparently getting their abilities unlocked by those with no spiritual awareness at all.  This is dangerous.  It is blind people telling you how to find the sun, and telling you how wonderful it feels on your face.  Those with sight are perfectly prepared to endanger themselves, and utterly unprepared for the really simple steps in working with sunlight safely.  If you happen to be, or know one such person, pass this along.  If you are one of these people and require instruction, there are lots of really gifted practitioners, I am not one of them, but I can and will put you in touch with them for further instruction.  I am just another working stiff, struggling to get my own training up to snuff for the jobs I already do.

Standard
Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Anger as a tool for Healing

barbed-wire-rosethor-cloud

It is dogmatically accepted in post 1960’s Western thought that anger is universally wrong, much as the axiom that violence never solves anything, the statement’s dogmatic acceptance has allowed it to somehow become a pillar of a society that it never built, and whose contributions have been as much negative as positive.

 

Anger has many negative and terrible expressions, and uncontrolled anger is almost universally destructive of self or others.  Anger is a lot like fire, when uncontrolled, misdirected, or in the wrong place, it is terrible and destructive.  Similar to fire, when controlled, properly directed, and in the right places it warms, protects, and drives necessary change.

 

When you are hurt by someone else, a large number of forces begin to work on you.  Fear driven by the situation and potential for future harm, anger that you were hurt, a desire to hurt back the one who hurt you, a desire to placate the one who hurt you that they not do it again.  In a largely Christian society, the social pressure to forgive, to accept the hurt without retaliation can be a real social pressure.  The perception that to avoid confrontation at all cost is somehow the worthy course of action has become the supposed hallmark of our peaceful civilization.

 

The problems stemming from accepting hurt without allowing anger to do its work grow in proportion to the frequency and severity of the hurts accepted.  When I swing my fist, my right to swing it ends at your chin. At that point, it has ceased to be my right to swing my fist, and become an assault upon your person.  Once you have been struck, my intentions suddenly matter less than you think.  You have been struck.  This fact cannot be taken out of the equation.  This is not going away, and there must be a reaction from you, even if no one but you will be aware of it.

 

Once you have been attacked by another, suffered pain, fear, loss, humiliation or other affront, your self has been attacked.  Your flesh is not the only portion of you that can take damage, not the only thing that may be wounded.  A physical attack is not simply experienced as trauma to the flesh, but to the mind and spirit as well.  What can be harder to spot is attacks of either non-physical nature, or of a physical nature that are more harassment than direct damage.

 

Thor is the defender of social boundaries, his rune is Thurisaz, which literally translates into thorn.  It is funny that the great god Thor is represented by the thorn, but in the spirit of the maxim that “good fences make good neighbors” the god of social boundaries, the god of frithful societies, is the god who makes good fences that will leave you bloodied if you try to push across someone’s boundaries.

thurisaz

 

Anger is the thorn, a thorn that bites the striking hand, and the thorn that galls our backside into getting off our tush and making sure our boundaries are defended.  Anger is a message.  Be very careful when you dismiss this statement.  I care less about who else you deliver this message to, it may be that the only thing you accomplish with expressing your anger is letting you know you did so.

 

The social pressure for good people to not start a confrontation, not escalate, to keep peace at all costs runs strongly counter to the Heathen principle of Frith, or right action towards others, and indeed, towards ones self.  It is not Frithful to accept without rancour attacks upon your person; your body or your dignity.  Frithful is to act appropriately towards each other, and one who attacks you is deserving of your anger, not your forgiveness.  More importantly, you need to deliver a message, and the primary person you are addressing is yourself.

To accept an insult to your dignity, or an attack upon your person without anger is to accept that YOU do not believe you are worthy of defense.  This must not be allowed ever.  I am not stating that it is productive in all situations for you to fly off the handle and initiate a verbal or physical altercation when you are so attacked; tactics if nothing else argue that you must always be aware of the threats around you and a realistic understanding of consequences should be part of your decision making processes at all times.   I AM saying that you are always listening. If no one else in the world is listening to you, understand that you are.  When you allow an insult or an assault to pass without anger, you are whispering to your Self that you were not worthy of defense.  These whispers are as terrible a poison as anything Syglin keeps from Loki’s brow, for they eat at the heart of you.

 

Anger can be a powerful motivating tool to change. Anger at your physical shape can drive recovery from the most terrible injury, or fight you through the most lingering and debilitating illness.  Anger can force you to look at the ashes of a failed and abusive relationship, be it personal, familial, or work, and drive you to make the changes necessary to secure that security of the person that will allow you to at last be proud, whole, and without fear of attack.

 

Anger at your own actions can also cause you to do the hardest thing of all; take behaviours that have been comfortable and successful for a long time and learn to set them aside, learning new ways, however painfully, that do not cause you to transgress again and leave you shaking with rage at your own actions.

 

Flowers are loved, swaying branches are much sung of, and the green leaf itself figures prominently in much art and fashion, but it is the humble thorn that we must turn to and offer a small bow.  The thorn is the instructor of the bleeding hand, the slap of cold rebuke, the punishment for the line crossed.  It is the thorn that makes a space safe, for it is the defense of your boundaries that makes your self sacrosanct.  You may batter your way through thorns, for enough force renders any wall eventually breached, but what you can never do is deny the barrier was there, deny the border was defended.

 

Anger, like thorns, is a message to the outer world that your boundaries are worthy of respect, and not to be lightly ignored.  Anger, like thorns, tells yourself that you are not only worthy of defense, but that your defense was real and worthy.

 

Shame and fear are thieves that steal your power.  Despair and sadness sap your will and strength, removing your ability to cope, to make changes, at the very time your situation is most desperately in need of changing.  The cold that seeps through your flesh as shame, fear, despair and sadness leach the life from your limbs, the light from your eyes, the swiftness of your thoughts will fall before the blaze of your anger, properly directed it can power the changes necessary to get you to a place where you can set anger aside, and remain warmed by brighter emotions.

 

When you are hurt, be it physically or other, you will have anger. Either you will own this anger, direct this anger towards those targets that deserve it, use this anger to spur the changes necessary to improve your situation, or this anger will direct itself.  If you smile and swallow your helping of gall, if you cast your eyes down and accept your fear, the fire of anger will burn inside, but it will burn you. It will not be guided by you, commanded by you; rather it will consume and punish you for the crime of not defending your Self.

 

Thor is not the god of peace, he is the defender of social boundaries, the defender of the folk.  His rune is not a flower, but a thorn.  We do not worship peace, for an unjust peace, peace bought at the cost of acceptance of abuse is abhorrent.  We seek Frith, proper action, appropriate action towards everyone we deal with.  We seek frith, and when frith is breached, anger is an appropriate response, for it can be used to drive the change necessary to restore frith.

rose-on-the-wire

Standard
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.

IMAG0024

 

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

Standard