Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Raven’s and Swords

 

Je me souviens-the motto of Quebec; we will remember.

Ah yes, just about the single most common phrase ringing from any minority crying out for revenge against the terrible crimes of (everyone else alive, and anyone on their side who doesn’t fully agree with them). Oddly enough everyone self defines as a minority for this purpose, making the one great unifying truth of humanity is that everyone can look back and feel they alone have suffered.   Memory; remember the wrongs done you, but be very selective my children, lest you recall the crimes of your own forbearers as well, or hear the cries being directed towards you by those survivors of their victims.

Memory

We are quick to put this on our flags, our swords, our skins, and whisper it into the ears of our children.  Remember the terrible things that happened to someone else long ago, because this will give you the defiant pride to be turned into a weapon by the first idiot who wants to use them to commit terrible things today.
Remember 9-11, remember the Alamo, remember Culloden, Masada, Thermopylae, the fall of Jerusalem, the sack of Lindesfarne, Amritsar, Hiroshima and the Plains of Abraham.  Gods forbid you should ever really look at the history before and after for context.

Ravens

There are two Raven’s who fly throughout the world to bear Odin’s messages, Huginn and Muninn.  Thought and Memory are their names in the tongues of today, and how interesting it is that the one we carve in the tongues of our blades, into our skin, onto our licence plates, flags, banners and political dogma is Memory.

 

I love Odin, and I love my blades.  I have seen his truth, lived it, and I know well the stench of open guts, blood rotting on the ground, the odd stiffness of the corpse.  I have seen ravens and crows wheeling above the feast and understood the truth; the Battleglad does not care why we slaughter each other, we do it for reasons that are entirely our own, he does not need to whisper in our ears or raise the clarion call for blood, simply put, we have never needed it.  We feed the ravens in fact, the corpse eating birds grow fat and plentiful because we heed only one of His ravens, and not both.

 

Thought and Memory.  We find memory rich like mead or whiskey on the tongue, sensual as a lovers touch to fire our desires when poet or politician would arouse us to act, we carve it on our skins to dedicate ourselves to wrongs of the past, carve it on our blades and gunstocks as we prepare to commit the wrongs of the present in the name of the sacred memory of stupidities of the past.  Why is it we are so enamoured of the hot rich blood thick feel of Memory upon our tongue and upon our soul and so terrified of the ice cold calm of Thought?

 

Odin has more to his name than Battleglad, more to his nature than Feeder of Ravens.  He is the Victory Father; but why when we call for him by this name do we never also call him as Wise Counsellor or Truth Teller.

 

I can hear the non-Heathens already smugly assuring themselves this has nothing to do with them.  I hate to break this to you, it doesn’t matter if you believe in him, or his ravens, they believe in you.  You may not know you serve the ravens when you raise your hands to your neighbors; neighbors in other lands or neighbors in your own streets, but you lay the raven’s feast when you stir the strife that leads to burning cities and blood on the stones.  Raven’s have never lost a war.

 

Heathens ought to know better, but seldom do we find it any easier than other folk to give equal weight to the ravens on both shoulders.  Memory is ruled by passion, like sweet mead or the headiest whiskey it fires the blood and clouds the mind.  Thought does not look backward, but forward.  Thought soars from intention to consequence, looking beyond the passions to the price, thought looks beyond the hot words of politicians, demagogues, rabble rousers and activists and looks to the deeds that follows, looks beyond the swinging sword to the shattered limb, beyond the bright torch to the burned building, beyond the shattered peace to the shattered land.

Never forget, for the past is with us always and if we do not own it then we allow it to own us.  Muninn receives offerings from me, as I look to the past of my family, my ancestors, my nation, my faith for the inspiration to fulfil my duty to the present, and to help me remember my duties to the future.  Huginn receives offering from me as well.  Memory must always be balanced by thought, inspiration must never outstrip understanding of consequence or the future will do no more than rewater ancient battlefields with modern blood, layer another generation of hatred, waste and futility on all the generations of waste and mindless slaughter we so narrowly survived to get here.

 

The sword of memory is swiftly drawn and thirsts so much for the red life wine.  The sword of memory flashes bright in the sun and sings as it slays, caring little where it falls, only that it is driven by ancient pride and rage.  The sword of thought is different.  Drawn with reluctance it swings with the full weight of duty, falling with neither lust nor hesitation, a brutal necessity that accepts the cost of every stroke, and will not be sheathed save in victory.

Swords and Ravens

There are two ravens for a reason.  It is Odin’s to understand the inspiration of men, the ways of victory, even as the costs of the struggle are his meat and drink, so are all paths to victory his.

Memory reminds us of who we are, from whence we came, and lets us draw upon the rich strength of our line, of our nation, of our gods and faith to face whatever challenges we face today.  Thought soars ahead of us to seek the path towards a better tomorrow, a brighter future, a path away from the tragedies that scarred our families, our nations, and our history with needless suffering and loss.

I will tend my blades, keep them sharp and my hands ever skilled in their use, but I will understand when to heed which raven.  I will let Thought determine when my blade is drawn, and when my blade is to be sheathed.  I will not draw nor wet my steel for ancient wrong, for passion alone.  I will draw my steel only when Thought demands it, and sheath it when Thought requires it.  Memory shall fire my blood to face the steel of others, shall sustain me when wounds, fear, and exhaustion would bid me surrender, Memory will carry me through the fire, but I will never allow memory to light it.

I read the saga of burning steading and red steel vengeance as good poetry.  I learned the killing of men, of dead friends, the terrible cost of the broken and maimed from those who fed the ravens in my grandfathers and fathers generation.  I stood my time beneath the banners of my nation, and plied my trade with steel in my fist, knowing it to be a duty we were brought to by passion but carried out with the same cold calculation the raven’s have always exercised when feeding upon the fallen upon every tragic field our species has littered with the broken bodies that are the raven’s feast.

Odin is the god of poetry because those who have stood over the dead and the dying with work to do require something that can allow them to put all that they cannot unsee into a context we can live with, because there is always going to be work still to do.  Thought and Memory are both his, as his wolves Word and Deed are both his.  Thought must balance Memory, as Word must always be chosen carefully knowing Deed will follow. Odin is the god of consequences, of price paid.  You may choose to look at bright pages of angels and songs of high sounding rhetoric, but my own gods bid me look down at the shattered lives, burned out husks that once represented homes, businesses, dreams, and hope and consider long and well the costs before I speak, and before I act.

We will remember.  Tragically, we will always remember when we were wronged, never when we were wrong, we will remember victory, and forget the cost.  We will remember those who exploited us, and forget those who fought to bring justice.  We remember every face that screamed abuse at us, and forget so swiftly those who rose up in our defense.

 

It is hard to get passionate about a settlement that makes things a little better, building on a previous settlement that made things a little better, as through halting slow process a people struggle haltingly towards that great unknown destination of justice through tentative and halting steps.  Of the two ravens, Memory can soar unerringly to any place we have been, any wrong we have suffered or committed he can alight on, but Thought must seek in the mists of everchanging and ever weaving wyrd for that mythic land of justice towards which the wise stumble and the foolish believe they may simply name wherever they choose to stop.

It is satisfying to draw the sword and call for revolution, and frustrating to negotiate in good faith and imperfect practice to drive a people through evolution instead.  Memory looks like all ravens to the shiny bits, the juice bits, the bloody bits; soaring loftily over the vast stretches of context, peace and progress, decay and corruption, only to alight on blood and fire.

Thought is a harder raven to heed, yet the only raven that promises a destination other than the next blood soaked tragedy.  Memory is always with us, but memory cannot lead us forward to anything but a repeat of the tragedies of the past.  Thought and memory soar together through out sky and through our soul.  Bring them back into balance, bring us back into balance, so that we have a chance to steer our state closer to that distant star called justice, and in seeking that star find ourselves guided into lands far fairer in every sense of the word than our ancestors ever knew.

 

If you must grave the name of ravens upon your steel, your skin or your soul, do remember to balance thought and memory.  Honour the sacrifice of your ancestors, but draw upon it for inspiration to find a better way forward.  You must first let go the drive to avenge the past before you can ever be free of the chains of it.  Memory can never lead you forward, only Thought can.

 

 

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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!

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Heathen Family

Freehold Banner

 

You know, there is a real disconnect throughout the community when we talk about our heathen kindreds, our heathen families, our heathen communities.  There is this abject fear from the left when we speak about our heathen children, a bizarre sort of aversion reflex that is hard for most to understand, until they are exposed to the White Power freaks, who are unashamedly running copies of 1930’s Nazi German pure Aryan children propaganda.

 

The problem with speaking of our Heathen families is that somehow, the racists seem to have won the battle, and even the inclusive heathen groups seem to have accepted the assumption that heathen families indicates obviously white.  When the hell did that happen?

 

The Heathen Freehold has never been pure anything.  Born from the far scattered peoples of British Columbia on Canada’s wild and largely forgotten west coast, we were far enough away from the centers of  heathen development we had to find our own way to do just about everything.  I mean we have Anglo-Saxon Heathens, Frankish, Germanics, Icelandic style Asatru, just about everything under the Heathen umbrella.  We have had many with native blood, Asian, African, it has never mattered to us.  We were alone for a long time, on the west coast, finding our own way, with the rest of the Heathen community far off doing their own thing, hearing only snippets of far off happenings.  We casually threw around Asatru and Heathen as the same thing, as we missed a lot of the big divisive fights that defined Heathenry in places where our kind were concentrated enough to divide against each other and fight; we had to either come together and accept our differences, or just admit we would have no community to practice in at all.

At the time I though us poorer for the lack of connection to the broader community, but now I thank the gods for giving us the time to establish our own thew, our own culture.  We are not great, all knowing, or blessed with bells and whistles envied by communities throughout the globe.  We are largely rural, widely scattered, and face real difficulties in coming together in great numbers with any frequency.  What we do have is an understanding of who we are, and we have a very clear idea about who and what we are meaning when we say Heathen Family.

In a discussion about Fascism vs Communism in the early days of the last century, the French Prime Minister listened to the rhetoric and then finally cut through it all and demanded “enough theory, show me the men!”  In the end, it always comes down to people.  Words can mean anything, but people are real.

 

Meet Aaron, and Kate.  Aaron came to the Freehold a long time ago, as a young man.  I had the chance to see him grow and mature into a fine man, a proud sailor in Her Majesties Canadian Navy, and to see him find his perfect wife.  I had the honour to take Kate’s fosterman’s oath, when she came to discover heathenry.  I had the very great honour to aid them taking their oaths to each other when the asked me to marry them.  I had the very great honour of taking Kate’s full oath, pledging herself to the Freehold, and to Freo in particular.  This is who I think of when I think of a Heathen Family.  In time baby Audrey came along, a pure bred heathen, a baby conceived and born from two heathen parents and raised within a Heathen kindred.

Wedding of Aaron and Kate

 

Audrey shines in our eyes as my own children, those of the other parents in the Freehold as the image of what we think of as a Heathen child. Our heathen children, our communities children.  This is what a pure bred heathen looks like, this is not the only face, there are version in every gender, age range, hair and skin colour.  The problem that I have with the community, not our community, but the broader heathen community is that ten percent of the community seems to think that anyone who would not fit in a Hitler Youth or League of German Girls poster cannot be a heathen child, and the other ninety percent think that somehow we are supposed to be ashamed of taking pride in the heathen families, heathen children, and gods forbid you should ever praise the heathen mothers in the community, because somehow fear of a fringe group of hate filled social outcasts has made acknowledging the beauty of a heathen family somehow suspect.

Heathen Baby

I sometimes long for the pre-internet days when we didn’t’ know what the rest of Heathenry was doing, and when we had no idea how special our community actually was.  Well change has to begin somewhere, and it may as well be here.

This is what a Heathen family looks like.  This is Aaron, Kate and Audrey.  They are ours, every one of them.  They look around a gathering of our Heathen Freehold and claim all they see as their own, as we all claim them as our own.  I am not saying that race doesn’t exist, our society has prejudice built in on lots of levels, and it will take a long time to get rid of those lines, and I sadly fear we will just replace them with some other convenient way to divide the people and distract the bulk of the citizens from the few who cheerfully exploit all of us while we bicker over invented fault lines.  I am saying that heathen does not imply any race.  Heathen woman does not imply must be mother, many in the community are not so drawn, and they are as much a part of the community as those who are.  Heathen man does not mean Viking imitator, or closet white supremacist; actually that would be really funny considering the complexion of some of our leading men.  Heathen child implies only this; a child that was born to heathen parents, who grows up in the sure and certain knowledge that they are not tainted by sin for the crime of being born, that they are in fact blessed by the gods, wights and ancestors, embraced by their community, and accepted for who they are, as they are aided by the community in the journey to discover who they may one day become.

Heathen Family

I honestly refuse to give up being proud of our Heathen families.  I reject utterly the shame the inclusive community feels, even as I reject the racist dogma, so poorly wrapped in imitation heathen trappings, that the fringe scum try to pretend is heathenry.  It is time we, as one small community, simply admit the rest of society has it wrong, and we got this one right. We will hold to the thew of our people, and yes, we aren’t ashamed to call our Freeholders our people, and keep doing it our way.

This is a Heathen family, we have lots of them, and to our eyes they all shine the same.  If your eyes see a problem with the differences between them, then the problem is in your eyes, and the mind behind them, not in our families, nor in our pride and honest joy we take in them.

 

We may not be the biggest or most important Heathen group out there, and that’s OK.  We are a tiny little heathen village, quietly going about building and enjoying the community that has been our own since 2002.  We have been living as inclusive heathens since before we knew there was a universalist/folkish divide we were supposed to fight about, and will continue to do so.  We take pride in our community, and in the families and individuals that make it live.  We will not pretend otherwise simply because “some people” get disturbed when heathens express pride in the families that make up our community, or out of fear that “some other people” will have an issue with the skin tone or hair colour of some of our children.  This is our Heathen Freehold, this is our village so to speak, these are our people.  It is enough we understand that, if the rest of the world can’t, perhaps it is their time to fix that.

For the record, if you object to being characterized as racist ” fringe scum try to pretend is heathenry”, then you are already admitting the label ought to be applied to you.  That should perhaps be your clue to fix that.

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Heathen Inspiration

 

 

There are a number of expressions that come to mind.  Reconstructionist, that is seeking to properly understand and grasp within its original cultural context, our ancestral practice.  Rebuilding our altars, once only a metaphor, and now actual construction.  We seek to return to something that was taken from our ancestors years ago, and through the efforts of our later ancestors, something we have regained the right to return to.

 

Heathenry as a religion, as a community, has gotten both mature enough, and large enough that we have not only the luxury of thinking about where we draw our inspiration, but perhaps we have a requirement to do so.  Where do Heathens look for inspiration?

Ravens

To be a Heathen is to be a paradox.  We are the simplest of people, yet how we come to be so is complex.  Ours is perhaps the simplest path to walk, yet it is the one that requires the most work, and will cost you the most comfortable assumptions.  Once you have lived this way for a while, it is as hard to think about living any other way as it would be for a raven to remember life before it could fly. We didn’t start that way, and maybe its as valuable for the eldest soaring high above us as for those perched uneasily at the side of the nest contemplating that first dive.

 

Our worldview accepts that we stand in the middle of nine worlds, in a place shared by the living and the dead.  It should be no surprise that we ourselves stand with eyes looking into two different worlds, while standing firmly rooted in a third.

Forward and Back

We look to the past with one eye.  We seek to learn the lessons our ancestors understood, truths that sometimes cannot even be contained in the languages we retain in this generation.  We seek to understand how our ancestors viewed their world, their challenges, their responsibilities, and their relationships.  We know that we have wandered far from what our ancestors would have viewed as a proper balance in our lives and wish to more fully understand their own understanding of themselves.

We stand in the present, both feet firmly planted in this world, not the past that was, nor yet on any path of the yet to be.  We stand in the now, wholly and fully creatures of our age, but if half of our vision is fixed in the past, where is the rest?
We look to the future with our other eye.  Where we looked to the past to find our responsibilities, to find our reasons to make choices, we look ahead to find our duties.  We stand in the present, but we understand and accept that our duties to those who came before us cannot be paid to the dead, but must instead be paid to the living, or the yet to be born.  We stand in the present with both feet, and we cast our eye towards the future, so that when our hands are turned to the tasks of today, we do so ever mindful of the requirements of the future.

 

We are not peoples of the book, we have no Bible like the Abrahamatic faiths, for our ancestors never found one right way to live.  They lived in a world that embraced change, that accepted that right answer for tomorrow might well be different than the right answer for yesterday.  They understood that what could be taught was how to ask the right question, what they sought to preserve was the way to see where you stood, the price that was paid that you could stand here with the choices that you have, so that you could decide for yourself which choice would make it better for those who followed after.

 

We are products of all that went before us, but we add to that all the choices that we make, all the challenges we face, and all the ties that bind us to each other.

Above all else, this is what we look to the past to remember; we do not ever stand alone.  We are all tied together, from the most distant sacred ancestor to the last of the descendants yet unborn.  We are woven together by the ties we forge in this life, ties of blood, ties of shared struggle, ties of shared friendship, ties of shared obligation.  We are tied to the land and waters whose life sustains us, we are tied to the spirits that arise from that life.  We are tied as well to the greatest of the wights, the holy gods whose opinion on our efforts at reconstructing a healthy practice in our time I trust is as filled with humour and tolerance as anything else.

I have no doubt that we do much that our ancestors would consider wrong, much else they would not have enough understanding of the world we face today to understand, but perhaps it is good to remember that much we do, they would both understand and approve.  We do not live in the world that they did, and the break between their time and ours is to great to simply reach back and carry on.
We do not seek, as the radicals of Christianity and Islam do, to turn back the clock, to deny the gains we have made as people and nations.  We seek to go forward, but to go forward sustainably, sanely, and most of all, frithfully.  Our ancestors lived in a time of great change, and changed with it.  We seek to learn to embrace the change as they did, while retaining the sense of who we are, and what is important.

We look to the past to learn how our ancestors asked the right questions.  We stand without fear in the present, accepting our responsibilities to the future.  One eye cast to the past, so that they eye we cast to the future may hope to see the right questions, that our hands in this present time can help to weave a future our ancestors would be proud to see, and our descendants would be pleased to inherit.

Like the raven trying to explain flight, it sounds terribly complicated.  Like the ravens in flight, once experienced, it is hard to imagine ever living any other way.

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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.

hamaval-127

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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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Never Again: Muslim Internment

Muslim Internment

japanese-canadian

My thoughts on Internment are those of a Heathen Canadian. I am Heathen, so I know a gift for a gift, is the way that we build our worth. I esteem honour, courage, self sacrifice, and give praise where it is earned. I also do not lie about ugly truths, and we have to be really honest about some really ugly truths.

Interment camps have been done before. They were not done to Enemy Aliens, they were done to non-whites, by whites, for the crime of not being white. Fear was an excuse.

Hate was the reason.

We interred this man below, and his family, as “Enemy Aliens”, during WWII. This is Sgt Masumi Mitsui, winner of the Canadian Military Medal for courage under fire. We are not a demonstrative people, what dozens of nations would hang a hundred medals around you for, we consider your duty as a Canadian Solider. When we choose to decorate someone for bravery under fire, this is a thing that other soldiers will stop and praise.

masumimilitary-medal

Masumi was far from the only Japanese Canadian to choose to fight for a land that was his by choice, not by birth.Of the 222 who had enlisted, 54 had been killed, 92 were wounded and 11 had received Military Medals for bravery.

We interred him as a threat, an enemy alien. Understand this, I am not saying he was as good a Canadian as I am, or you are. Neither you nor I have any right to claim equality with a Military Medal winner; his right to his honours as a citizen is paid in full, yet racists who had never served a day in their lives stripped it from him, stole his property, because they used fear to let the public indulge them in their hatreds.

When you allow Internment of the dreaded “other”, you do not look for causes, for justice, you look for those you hate and fear, and punish them for your weakness, not their crimes.

A truly Heathen concept is this: Own Your Shit.

The Internment of the Japanese in WWII was an act of racist thuggery motivated by fascism and greed, carried out like nothing other than banditry by law.

It was shit, an act that stains our national honour even now. A hundred yeas ago, some of the men we interred helped our nation come of age in the blood and mud of Vimy Ridge. We rewarded them by stealing their lands and businesses and locking them up as “threats”.

Never, FUCKING NEVER, again.

Tyr, Leavings of the Wolf, Most High, Keeper of Honour hear this rede; it shall never come to pass that my nation will stand by and let her citizens or subjects be interred not for what they have done but for who they are.

Thor, Defender of man, know that if we do not defend our own against hatred, we do not deserve your protection against our foes.

 

 

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Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Pride and Prejudice

 

E Pluribus Unum090911-N-3289C-180

Hated the book, loved the title. I always felt there was something there that was important, but it took the last US election to bring it into cohesion for me.  Pride and Prejudice, the first is the balance to the second, the first is the answer to the second, the cure to the disease of the second.

 

Today finds the US with Donald Trump as its President.  I think most people are more concerned with the possibility that Trump will free the religious right and its allies in the racist white power wings to begin the open, unpunished persecution of anyone or anything that doesn’t fit their stereotype of a white Christian nuclear family.  Those of mixed marriages, those of other races, those of minority religions, those of gay, lesbian, bisexual sexual identity or those who gender identify in the trans spectrum quite justly fear a Night of Broken Glass following an election so heavy in the echoes of remembered Fascism.

 

There is no way to tell at this juncture what a Trump Presidency will bring as far as economic, social, or legal change.  What we you can see, what you can do, is control what it means to be an American in America, after the election.

 

I want each and every one of you to walk with pride.  Man or woman, white, black, Hispanic, disabled, young, old, whatever, you walk, or roll the streets without fear, without hesitation.  You walk pushing your baby, holding hands with your loved ones, you walk alone, with friends, it does not matter, but you walk with pride.

 

I lay this challenge before all of you.  Again, white, black, Hispanic, gay, straight, man or woman; if you see anyone mocking, harassing, intimidating another of your fellow citizens for daring to walk as they are without fear, you step on them, and you do it with both metaphorical boots.

 

You don’t let a Trump supporter get harassed in front of you, no more do you allow a disabled person or gay couple to be harassed in front of you.  NO ONE gets harassed in front of you.  What kind of America do you want to live in, proud and free, or filled with hate and fear.

 

You want guns?  Fine, have all the guns you want.  No really, I have no issue with your gun stances, pro or anti.  You want to have them, then how about you show me a little of that defending liberty. I don’t mean YOUR liberty; I mean everyone’s liberty.  You don’t believe in guns?  Fine, then you be ready to step in and show me how you are contributing to the safety and liberty of your fellow citizens through other means.  You don’t think violence is the answer, I totally support any better solution you come up with, that does not involve sitting back and letting others be attacked because you prefer to avoid trouble for yourself.  If you have a phone, I would suggest that classifies as a weapon as it summons rather more force than you can wield personally anyway; if you use it.

 

Our Canadian Prime Minister walked in the Gay Pride Parade in Vancouver, no big deal, he has marched in the parade for years with his wife.  Is he gay?  No.  He is the son of the man who decriminalized Homosexuality in Canada, and has been putting his money where his mouth is by marching in support of gay rights since he was a student.

vancouver-gay-pride-parade

To be proud as a North American, Canadian or American, means to love Freedom.  I don’t mean just our personal freedoms, but if we shared a common religion, I suggest the principle we revere above all others, the one we offer to when we salute our two flags is Freedom.

Freedom is founded on pride.  Proud to live in a country where we can disagree on who to love, who to pray to, what political ideology best expresses our freedom and should shape our nations elected leader’s decisions and yet know that we share a love of Freedom that we will jointly defend with our lives.  I may not share your beliefs, your church or your political party, but I will die before I permit them to be taken from you or used against you.
Commit to that.  Commit to walking with pride as who you are, and being unwilling to permit that pride from being taken from any other, and you will have saved your nation.  It is that simple.

 

Those who are my fellow Canadians who think this is about our poor Southern neighbors, wake up and smell the coffee.  Our laws prevent the same forces from operating openly, but they are present.  I am a relatively well off, well educated man strong enough to break most others like toothpicks, so I don’t have to put up with a lot of crap from anyone for those things that they disagree with me about. When I was disabled due to spinal injury I got a taste of how the other half lived, it was educational. There are lots of hate filled people here too. Give them even a suggestion that they will not be punished and see how quickly it comes back into the open.
The backlash against immigrants in Europe is not coming out of nowhere. I see some of it in our local communities here.  You cannot allow women to be disrespected on our streets just because where someone comes from that is OK.  They are here now, and while their attitudes were never OK, here they are also not allowed.  Stop the root of the anti-immigrant backlash, you improve lives for both the immigrant community and our own.

 

Oddly, the heart of the anti-immigrant community are at least as prone to hate filled attacks, and often nearly as misogynistic.  There is not difference between locally raised intolerance and imported intolerance.  I don’t put on cultural blinders to accept one and denounce another. I permit no liberal sacred cows, prejudice is simply wrong, I don’t care how you came by it, leave it at the door or you are not welcome.

 

Be proud of who and what you are, but do not think this makes it OK to get angry when someone else is proud of who and what they are.  Freedom and liberty are either universal or bullshit, decide which before you open your mouth.

 

Walk with pride, do not let anyone offer you disrespect, nor permit another to be mocked, harassed or attacked for being proud of who they are either.  This is not up to a President, a Prime Minister, or any Legislature.  No law grants or repeals this, either this is who you are, and what you think your country is, or you deserve only those freedoms other people choose to grant you.

 

Freedom is earned, and the greatness of your community comes from that freedom. Where many forms of greatnessare permitted to grow and flower, where pride has a hundred faces, freedom a thousand voices; there  you will find the shared dream that is a nation.

CanAm flag

 

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