Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Soul, salmon, and inheritance

Leaping Salmon 2

Bear with me, this will take a while to get to the point, but the background is important.  We have all seen the people in our communities that just fit.  The ones who you know were born to be here.  Heathenry comes as naturally to them as a salmon takes to the stream.  You see a salmon hurling itself upstream through the rapids beside you and know that only salmon are with you on this journey.  No pampered koi, no silent sturgeon; just those born to dare the white water and stone teeth of the rapids for the Return Home.  Funny thing is, not all of those salmon look the same.  Not everything that looks like a salmon shows any interest in those rapids at all, and not everyone beside you in the torrent looks salmonish to the outside eye.

I shrugged and ignored the question a lot of years, following a soldiers stark utilitarianism.  If it works you use it, if it fails, the theory is irrelevant, it doesn’t work so toss it.  The inner scientist in me looked at those provable things and waited for another data point to come up with a new theory that worked.  Then I started my clergy training, and progressed along my magical path far enough to apply other senses and collect enough other data to get a different understanding.

Heathen understanding of the soul is complex.  We don’t see it as one thing, nor do we understand it as being one thing before our birth or after our death.  What makes us, the whole and living being that we experience is complex, formed of these disparate elements that come together and are shaped by our life experiences, by our will, by our word and deed, by our trials, by our loves, losses, and choices.  Those parts have been broken down as follows.

1. The physical body – appearance, movement and health

  1. the hugr – conscious will and intellect
  2. the hamr – image forming essence, matrix between physical and

spiritual worlds

  1. the hamingja – shape-changing force, luck, power
  2. the fylgja – spirit guardian as female or animal figure

 

We don’t conduct baby naming ceremonies until the ninth day, when the fylgja is seen to have bonded with the baby.  At this point, the baby is bound to the web of wyrd or fate, and the orlog the inherited part of your wyrd attaches to the baby, linking it to all those who have gone before, and who will come after.

It is this part of the soul that carries the inherited portion of our soul lore, the bit that we get from our ancestors in spirit.  Here is the bit that makes me intrigued.  The lore is full of examples where mound sitters have received inherited gifts from spirits they had no genetic link to, but gave full ancestral devotion to.  These gifts, in one case the skaldship that propelled a shepherd (Thorbjorn Hornklofr ) from obscurity to the position of court skald of Harald Shaggy Hair are clearly an inheritance carried by soul part rather than genetic coding.

This fits with the understanding of family and community that our ancestors practiced, where you could be born in, married in, oathed in, adopted, or simply absorbed by being beside you through the struggles of the day until your fate was inexorably linked with those around you and you simply crossed the line and became us in every way anyone could see, however far from that hearth you may have been born.  Family and community were untidy and tangled, real things, not pure constructs.  They were.  People who ought to be part of them turned their backs and left, people who were from far away, and even from the wrong side of long standing battle lines found acceptance and home with the fierce devotion of one who does not simply accept their place unthinking, but dared to shape their fate by conscious choice.

Burial mounds show the truth, genetic variation hard to equal even in today’s world of easy and relatively safe long distance travel, yet burial goods and manner indicate no differentiation between those whose genetics matches the bulk of the tribal identity, and those whose origins were clearly different tribally or even racially.  Us and them are always real to those who are drawing the lines, but the lines then were not based on phenotypical race, but on identity.

Carry forward to today.  We have the folkish vs inclusive rift in Heathenry that honestly everyone has grown sick of.  It really was an attempt from the beginning to dress racism up in pretty clothes and make it more acceptable than the KKK white hoods and burning crosses.  It carried with it misogyny and gender roles right out of the most conservative Evangelical Christian wet dream, and resembled Nazi family propaganda in a degree that would have made Gobels think they won the war.  To say it was homophobic, transphobic is really not doing justice to the degree that folkish Heathenry really found there to be only one right way to be a male or female Heathen.  You had to be pure of blood, you had to be one hundred percent cis-normative in your expression of your gender or you were just wrong.

So folkish was cast into the midden where it belonged, largely because too many of the folkish who weren’t racist misogynist homophobes were just unwilling to stand against the ones that were, so collectively we decided the folkish had failed the test of Havamal 43, and made friendship with our foes.

 

  1. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,

To him and the friend of his friend;

But never a man | shall friendship make

With one of his foeman’s friends.

 

We did our surgery to protect our community, but we missed something.  We let those racist twits taint the idea of folk and inheritance to the point we stared to look at Othala like the Swastika with an almost unthinking rejection.

We missed something.  I am not saying I have it right, but I have at least the edges of something.  We have that fylgja soul part, that inherited portion of the soul that binds after birth.  When you have been at this a while, you get the sense of those who take to Heathenry like the salmon take to the stream, they fit instinctively, they ask the dangerous questions, make the connections between the different elements, ritual, lore, community building, feast, hospitality, and personal development as if they already had the concepts they just didn’t have the dictionary for it.  We have the corollary as well, those who have a bloodline that may well stretch back to the Volsungs with the depressing vision limitations that seek to take the conservative Christianity they were raised with, and switch Odin for Jehova, Thor for Jesus, Frigg for Mary and carry on as if Heimdall wrote the gospels in Latin.

Sorry to the hard Folkish, but blood doesn’t make you naturally heathen.  A huge portion of the original tribes that were Heathen at the time of migration into the European continent are Christian right now, and many follow other faiths entirely or none at all.  A portion of those who are interested in the CULTURE of their ancestors and are proud of those traditions feel no call at all to the ancestral practice.  It is music they can’t dance too, for it moves them not at all.

What about all those fylgja from all those family lines who took the cross and cut all ties so long ago they actively deny they were ever anything else?  What if those fylgja found those whose soul parts were fit heirs to those who had gone before?  Whose hugr, whose will and intellect were a match to those who had joined with the fylgja in the past, whose hamingja called to them, whose Mod could learn and apply the wisdom of the older parts of the soul and whose Hugi could tap the wode, the ecstatic frenzy of creation and destruction that is the highest of our gods gifts.

I really do think some people were born to be part of the community.  I think it is no accident they found us, not a surprise that we WELCOMED THEM HOME, because we, as communities are wiser than as individuals and we do, on some level know our own.  Not all of those who stand in our halls match others’ expectations of who should be here.  If Hollywood were to ever cast our leadership in a movie, I seriously doubt any I have served beside would make the cut, but that is because Hollywood sells clean fantasy, not untidy reality.

Inclusive Heathenry is just that, we don’t let other peoples labels decide who fits and who doesn’t.  We got that right.  Not everyone in the community will stay forever, because we are largely a group of people that exist in an over-culture that rewards conforming to the Christian perceived norm, and to be Heathen is to accept being a salmon that is committed every day to swimming upstream, and not everyone has the drive to find this sustainable, or finds the journey rewarding consummate to the price.

Some of those salmon swimming beside us look African, look Native, look Asian, look Jewish, look Polynesian.  All different expressions of everything from gender to sexuality, from politics to diet, ten thousand differences separate us.  Maybe, but when you hit the water, you feel the salmon moving around you, you know through those senses developed that don’t rely or even notice flesh, you identify who is and who is not yours, who is of the tribe, of the kindred, of the folk, however you want to define them, and when you leap over the next rock in the rapids you take note that those you felt were yours are beside you, and if not all of them look like other people expect, they are following the call only salmon can hear, throwing themselves into the maelstrom with nothing held back seeking to Return.  They are salmon in every sense you are, they are part of the us, where all those salmony looking fish that are sitting in the lake singing psalms are not.

That part of the soul that remembers, that is seeking to return us to a better way of living with each other, a better way of living with the world, with connecting to our dead, and those yet to be born, to live more mindfully, that is what makes us Heathen.  That is found where it is found, and how it got there is something the gods aren’t sharing, and far enough above my pay grade to simply accept that it is.

We are each unique individuals.  Part of what we are is inherited, part of what we are is chance, part of what we are is experience, and part of what we are is choice.  All of what we are is ours alone, and when we die, this unique configuration, this glorious and fragile thing will be gone forever, but our words, our deeds, our choices will be untouched by the death that takes us.  We are made of so many parts, both body and soul, that there are doubtless many paths we could follow, many streams we could have chosen, but those who swim beside us today, fighting the current beside us, they are simply us.  If others don’t think all of us look equally salmony, I am reassured to note that bears are true egalitarians and are perfectly willing to take each of us as pure salmon as Loki at his slipperiest, and eat us accordingly.

The world is full of bears, the river is swift, the rocks cruel, and there are few enough salmon on the journey, treat well those beside you, learn from them as you can, share with them as you will, and perhaps more of us can return home to our gods and ancestors with the truth that we have begun rebuilding our communities.

bear and salmon

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Depression: musings on the endless struggle

It is lonely thing, to fight depression.  The hardest, endless, unforgiving struggle with your internal demons can end only in your death, promises nothing from victory but another day of battle beyond.  It tests your soul like nothing else, and it is faced alone when it is at its fiercest.  There is one who knows, one who will stand beside you in this struggle, and one whose gifts offer some little aid.

 

Depression is a funny thing.  I don’t mean there is humour in it, or if there is, it is the gallows humour that civilians seem to get horrified when they hear from veterans and others who have learned to laugh among the wreckage.  I guess you had to be there.

 

Depression is funny in that it isn’t what most people think it is.  Depression is not “feeling sad”, that is an effect, not a cause.  You don’t cure depression by thinking happy thoughts or not dwelling on bad things.  Depression, if you are actually suffering from it is the root of your thoughts, not the effect of them.

You can make yourself depressed by putting yourself in negative thought cycles, it is an act of self harm and one that those who are depressed really need to be careful of, and people who shouldn’t be depressed based on their current physiology certainly can wound themselves enough to put themselves in that place by continuing long enough, so there is that much truth to the warnings about negative thoughts.  You can also make depression dangerously worse by indulging in those cycles, because they are self harm, but thinking of sunshine and kittens will not magically get rid of actual depression.

Actual depression is a thing, an energy sap that drains you.  It is a monster that wraps you up, feeds on your energy, your will, your strength until every simple action requires almost heroic effort, and the usual reward cycle your brain offers for success does not pay off noticeably.  It is a motivational killer.

I have heard it described aptly as walking up the stairs.  Your friends, co-workers and family are all walking up the same stairs, but you are carrying an eighty-pound pack.  They are not.  You face the same stairs they do, but what it costs you to climb those stairs is greater, your reward is the same.  When they see you struggling with stairs they easily handle, you will experience the effects of shame at your struggle and failure which compound the problems you already face.  You must put in twice the effort for half the returns as other people, and for that effort receive scorn, shame, and the feelings of failure, weakness, and futility which further empower your depression.  Your pack is now a hundred pounds, and you are no farther up those stairs.

As a thought model, it is effective and evocative for those who believe happy thoughts will alter it, I suggest you fill that pack with a hundred pounds and walk up some long flights of stairs and see how long you can remain energized and positive.  Understand, they can’t take the pack off, they will not be done, there is no rest, this is baseline while depressed.

 

The gods understand our struggles, because the best of them share them.  Thor is the god best loved by our folk in ancient times.  Thor’s hammer is the sign our folk chose in this modern age, as we did when we first had to deal with folks of other faiths, to mark ourselves as Heathens.  There is a reason.  The wisdom of Thor is not the sort of deep mystical knowledge that has Odin’s followers binding themselves to trees and journeying between worlds.  Thor is a god whose lessons are accessible to all, whose nature is pure, elemental, and fundamentally more human in more respects than other gods.  His trials, his triumphs, his spirit holds for us gifts more precious, and more accessible than those of the gods with more mystical bells, whistles and sparkly trinkets hidden like obscure game quests (I say this as a collector of sparkly trinkets myself).

 

Thor is not always depicted as the brightest of gods, but he is not stupid, only uncomplicated.  Joy in the struggle is the heart of his nature, joy in the storm of life, the test of it, the sheer absurdity of it.  Thor is defined not by Odin’s scream of rage, but in the booming laughter he sounds, frequently before picking himself up off the ground.

The legend I love him for best was his fishing trip.  He was tricked into a wager by an enemy that wanted to win his dread hammer Mjolnir from him.  Thor boasted he could catch anything that swam in the nine worlds, and wagered the greatest life taker in the nine worlds that it was so.  His foe took him out in a small boat to prove it, and Thor’s cast caught not fish, not shark, not whale, or even dragon.  His cast caught the Midgard Serpent; Jörmungandr.

This is the battle he cannot win, and that cannot end.  Jörmungandr and Thor will battle at Raganarok, and from that battle both will know their doom.  Thor will strike the serpent down at the end, but take no more than nine steps back before falling into death himself from the serpent’s venom.

 

His enemy laughed as Thor realized he was trapped in that little fishing vessel in the battle that could not end, save in death.  At this point, only loss was possible, there is no bright ending in a struggle with a foe that takes all of your strength, and ever will, until they day you have no more, and die.

 

Thor belted himself to the mast and fought on.  He reeled in Jörmungandr like any fish, and when the serpent struck at him, he pounded it back, not with the hammer he was not free to draw, but simply with his fist.  Trapped in a struggle that could not end with him living, in which he could not even reach his greatest weapon, he did something that is strange; he laughed.

Depression
There was no point, was no chance, was no good end, but it did not matter.  He laughed and threw himself into the struggle with all he had.  It did not matter that it could not be won, he did not have to lose, and chose to take his joy in the struggle for as long as he may.

Neither Jörmungandr nor Thor had any give in them, but both the jotun and the boat did, and as the boat began to break up, the jotun released Thor from his wager and begged him to let Jörmungandr go before they all died.  Depression is equated with darkness by many for one of its insidious side effects; blinding us to any possibility other than loss and defeat.

Thor was not wiser than us to see a victory was possible, he did not see the possibility at all.  He just didn’t care.  He chose to fight on anyway.  He chose to accept his limitations, his circumstance, and simply shrug and battle on anyway.  He won victory, we can all win victories, even if we have no clue upon rising to fight another day what that victory is, or even always know it when we have actually achieved it.
Depression is Jörmungandr, the serpent that spans our world and wraps it in coils even a god may not break, but Jörmungandr did not win either.  Thor will not smite that serpent for us, nor will he carry that heavy pack for us up the stairs.  What he will do is stand beside us on the deck, even when it seems the serpent will shatter it beneath us, he will keep that ship afloat so long as we battle on.  He will stand beside us on the steps not only while we climb, but when we are spent, and can take not one more step, for he understands that being knocked down is not defeated.  It is simply the place from which you will rise again to fight.

Like Thor, we have no magic hammer to protect us in this fight.  We have only the will to battle on, the stubborn stupid unwillingness to give up, the defiance in the face of despair.  We do have one more thing, a small, almost unnoticed thing.  When you are feeling small and helpless, battered by wind and wave stronger than your every effort, when the darkness has closed in and you lack the strength to rise, and wonder even if you have the strength for one more heartbeat, if you listen closely, you can hear the laughter of Thor, not in victory, not in triumph, but in the awareness that he had been beaten, been tricked, and still chose, as stupidly as it may be, to struggle on anyway.

 

Depression tells us one truth.  We cannot win, for a definition of win that means we will never have to struggle against it.  Jörmungandr spans the world and cannot be escaped.  Thor tells us another truth, you do not have to see a way out to find one, do not have to think you can win to do so, and you do not have to give up just because you believe you are beaten and cannot do anything about it.  Sometimes too stupid to give up is not about stupidity, it isn’t even about hope, it is about choosing to not give up because that choice is yours to make, and the serpent may not take it from you.  That victory is yours to take; neither depression nor the gods themselves can take it from you.

Heroism is not found in the battles you may win.  Heroism is found in the battles that cannot be won, but you chose to fight anyway.  Heroism is looking the serpent in the eye and saying simply “Not today” and chosing to fight on.

 

If you are locked in that struggle without end, you do not have to enter it alone.  If you can’t think of any good reason to go on, or any point in fighting, perhaps it is time not to seek a god with secret knowledge, but a god just too stupid to give up, and too great hearted to let you stand alone.

 

 

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Asatru, Death, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Fallen and the fallen: Conversations at Hel’s door.

What happens when a devil sets out to tempt a Heathen he finds at deaths door?

 

The Fallen were given the same knowledge as their angelic brethren, one the shadowed mirror of the other.  Legend has it that it represents the sum of all knowledge.  Like most legends it is less incorrect than incomplete.  It represents the sum of all knowledge their god, and his chosen adversary choose to admit.

 

Banished for long centuries by a Christian saint, the Fallen was free at last to work his will, to seek those souls that could be won for his side in the war eternal between the hosts of Jehova’s loyalist and rebel.  There was a soul even now flickering with the fire of vanishing life, one who was not bound to Jehova’s heaven, nor to Lucifer’s Hell.  He dove for it like a stooping hawk, and alighted on the ground beside the mortal in a swirl of fire.

Image result for old man on ice
The mortal was old, not ancient, but old enough to be fragile, and from the looks of his position, had fallen afoul of a long icy flight of concrete stairs, and was even now feeling his lungs fill up with the blood of his life, even as the fires of that life began to seep out of his flesh, and into the cold of the night.

Smiling the smile of one who held all the cards, the Fallen knelt, allowing he fires of his true nature to burn visibly in his eyes.

Image result for devil crouches by old man

“Mortal, you stand at death’s door.  Hell is a handful of heartbeats away, as I see the ancient bonds of your Christening have been shattered, and Jehova’s angels have no claim on you.  While you hold onto life, you may yet have value.  Swear yourself to my service and I will grant you ten years of life, and riches to enjoy it.  When you fall, Hell will welcome you as one of mine, power and prestige will be yours.  Deny me, and you will end up in Hell anyway, but broken and powerless.”

 

The old man laughed, a grating croak like a raven’s, ending in a wet cough that sprayed scarlet droplets across the snow.

“Hel awaits me.  Not your master’s late made fantasy, but the solace of the mound, and she who keeps the dead.  You missed a memo son.  The squabbles of your house are no concern of mine.  Begone lest you draw the wrath of she who awaits”

 

The Fallen had been absent from this world for five hundred years, but no mortal dared bespeak an angel of either court with such discourtesy; not the greatest king, or darkest necromancer.  Letting his fingers form claws of bone, he drove his hand down to rend the last of the life from the upstart mortal, when a blade of ice swept through the air above the mortal, and swept him aside like a human sweeping an errant kitten from the dinner table.  The flames of Hel that cloaked him were as nothing to the cold that shattered his form, his power broke before the casual swipe like a blade of straw in the hands of an idle farmer.

Lying beside the old man, two broken forms writhing in pain, he met the old man’s eyes and saw him grin a blood flecked grin.

“I am Heathen, fool.  It is not your Hell, but Hel herself who awaits me.  What is hers, no man or god may take.  I am, as you said, a shrinking number of heartbeats from hers.”

Hella

Pulling his form back together again, the Fallen realized he could not take, nor coerce the man, for a goddess defended her claim to what remained of him, but he was not yet hers, and perhaps need not be.
“Old man, let me bargain with you thus, grant me the space between one heartbeat and the next to speak with you, and I may yet make you an offer you cannot refuse!”

The old man nodded, unable now even to speak.
In an instant, the two spirits, Fallen angel and fallen heathen stood above their shattered bodies, and eyed each other.

“This sounds like a conversation we should be having over drinks, but my horn is at home, and I don’t think I could pour for you anyway at the moment, so you will forgive my poor hospitality”  The old Heathen said.

In a moment, the Fallen took the image from the old man’s mind, and crafted for them a warm hall with a fire, two great soft chairs, and two horns filled with a strange amber-gold liquid that looked like sunshine, and smelled like the promise of sin.

Altar Horn

The Fallen spoke first, attempting to confirm what he though he knew “You are a Heathen, one who denies god, so you should have no protection from me.  You should be my masters by fate, and should require either forgiveness from that whining brat, or intercession from one of my master’s own to spare you the flames”

The old man raised his horn and laughed “You missed a memo there old boy.  Heathen in this generation means one who has returned to the old gods of the north, the Aesir and the Vanir.  We don’t need forgiveness for the sin of being born, and our gods don’t offer forgiveness for offenses we did to others anyway.  If we want forgiveness, we had best make it right with those we wronged.  Selling forgiveness to us is like selling screen doors to submarines; you aren’t going to get a lot of takers.  Sorry kid”

 

Summoning a vision in the flame, the Fallen brought the image of a succubus dancing in the flame, its form the perfection of woman, its movements forbidden desire and lust personified.  Even the fallen felt the pull of her charm as it stroked all the denied hungers in every recess of both of their minds.  The old man just laughed.

With a laugh the old man whispered to the fire, and it erupted in bright gold as a vision of Freya formed in the fire, the bright passion, the lust that formed the core of all life called to the old man and demon both, before her smile darkened and hands made gathering gestures to the shadows, and a hundred whispers of wickedness ancient beyond time and terrible beyond reason stroked the edges of awareness, just out of reach.  Both succubus and demon found themselves on their knees crawling to her image, before she laughed and soared away as a falcon of sun bright fire.

Goddess Freya true

The old man spoke gently “You cannot tempt us with lust, for Freya burns with all the passions of life, the bright the dark, primal beyond either.  You cannot tempt me with power either, for she has such secrets as would blast your sanity away, and frankly I know enough to steer well clear of”

 

The Fallen collected his scraps of dignity, and turned away from the traditional lures of lust for power and pleasure, the Fallen turned to subtler lures.

“I bear the knowledge from before the forging of the world, and know secrets known to no living, but swear yourself to me and I will give you a second lifetime to learn it all!”

 

The old man looked down, shook his head slowly, and faced the Fallen with eyes empty as night itself, the Fallen felt himself falling within their depths, until at last he saw the man, bound to the Tree, the Tree that is all worlds.  Pierced he was by a spear, hung by a noose, and by his ear whispering was a wild haired old man the size of a mountain.  Shoving his claws into his ears and screaming to block it out, the Fallen spent an eternity measured in less than a heartbeat of Things his kind were not permitted to know flowing through him, and the terrible cost of that knowledge forming around him like dread chains he would bear for all eternity; bound and burdened by knowledge he could never put down, words he could never unhear.

The Fallen wept as the old man pulled him at last to his feet, apologizing.

“I am sorry for that, but in my youth I was a priest, because I would know the secrets that Odin promised to share.  He told me the cost of such knowledge before I took it up, and like a fool, I thought I understood.  I would not know more, I paid for the knowledge I earned in this life, and bear burdens enough for it already. I need no more.”

 

Lowering the demon into his chair, the old man wrapped its shaking hands around the mead horn, and raised it to its infernal lips.  The mead flowed down its throat like blood and fire, stilling his shakes and lighting again the fires that burned within his infernal breast.

 

The old man whispered  “Half a loaf, and half filled cup, full friend found.  There you go, old boy, good as new.”

 

The Fallen looked at the old man with wonder and finally spoke “I cannot temp you with anything, can I?  I literally have nothing a Heathen wants.  I have failed.  I will win nothing from you, and you have won this contest.  I will return you to your body, and to your fate”

The old man gripped the claws of the Fallen and laughed.  “You are wrong, a gift for a gift is our way.  You have given me a gift I could not ask for.  I was not alone at the end.  You are wrong as well that you won nothing.  I go now to her, to Hel, and the icy silence of her realm.  I will offer you this gift in return.  Hear the words from our lord

‘Cattle die, and kinsmen die

You too will die

One thing alone will not die

The fame of a good man’s deeds.’ “

The old man paused.  “We are great ones for kennings, for deed-names, bynames, honour names, and I give you this one now.  I know you as Death-watcher, and I thank you for standing the watch with me”

The fallen crouched like a raven upon the railing, as the old man’s spirit returned to his flesh, and battled breath and breath until his lungs were naught but sacks of blood, and there was no strength left to raise his chest one more time.

The old man’s soul past somewhere the Fallen could not see, for it was not a place that angles of either court could even admit existed, let alone dare to look.

SONY DSC

 

When he rose, he would return to the war unending, the struggle against the throne that had rang for more lifetimes than mortals knew.  There was nothing in his eternal existence except this war, for that was all his kind were permitted…..except………..except……..now, somewhere, he could hear another chant his name, and tell his tale.  A part of him existed beyond the struggle, beyond the war.  A part of him would even survive it.

It was a small thing, but it forever changed him.

 

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Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Reciprocity: Health check in your Heathenry

Reciprocity

Freehold and Troth Banners

 

It seems like the farther I advance in my practice as a Heathen, the more the simplest things become more and more profoundly moving and enlightening.  A gift for a gift is one of the cornerstones of Heathen practice, the gifting cycle is not simply a part of our interpersonal culture, it is the foundation of our sacral practice.

“From the gods, to the earth to us-from us to the earth to the gods”  Is the phrase we use when we acknowledge the gifts of the gods as we gather together to celebrate, and we in turn complete the gifting cycle by making our offering to the earth, in honour of the gods and wights both.

41. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.

42. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
And gifts with gifts requite;
But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,
And fraud with falsehood meet.

43. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
To him and the friend of his friend;
But never a man | shall friendship make
With one of his foeman’s friends.

44. If a friend thou hast | whom thou fully wilt trust,
And good from him wouldst get,
Thy thoughts with his mingle, | and gifts shalt thou make,
And fare to find him oft.

 

Reciprocity as presented in the Havamal is more than just about the giving of gifts, it is a fundamental goal in relationships of all kinds; between family, friends, lovers, strangers, enemies, spirits, gods, the living and the dead.  It is something that it will take decades to fully unfold in understanding as to its ramifications in our psychology, our relationships, our health, for it has implications that stretch so far beyond our spiritual practice and into every aspect of our lives.

 

We live in a post-Christian society; one whose culture was very much shaped by a lot of fundamental assumptions of Christianity, even among those who have never practiced that creed knowingly, and many of those fundamental assumptions are at odds with traditional Heathen belief, and require a rather profound rethinking of a lot of the basic ways that we think about ourselves, and learn to make value judgements about ourselves.

 

Many people are offended by my next series of statements, so I will offer the following statement for background.  I do not dislike Christians, I have known a large number of extremely worthy Christians, nor are they as a group any different than the bulk of humanity in their random distribution of natures.  My criticisms of their dogma and doctrine are just that, and while I feel our own are superior, that should go without saying, as why would I espouse a belief system I felt was inferior?

Christianity is a wonderful tool for allowing hypocrites to prosper, and driving good and worthy people to offer much in the service of those who cheerfully live the opposite of the doctrine they spout the loudest.  Christianity makes much of the virtue of being humble, and as a tool this makes the devout and worthy value themselves and their contributions not at all, and the hypocrites to reap the credit of the works of those others and stand head and shoulders above them socially not through the worth of their deeds, but simply by being the only ones standing in a room full of the truly humble who have prostrated themselves.

Heathenry does not make a virtue of being humble.  The boast and brag are not about puffing yourself up and pretending to be more than you are; rather, they are about learning to judge each other by the deeds of our hands, of our minds, of our words.   We are our deeds, this is used a lot in Heathenry, and it encompasses a lot of the idea of building your worth through your contribution, through what you have achieved.  It does however interact oddly with those unspoken Christian assumptions so many of us still carry as baggage.
Worth.  We live in a capitalist society.  We have, in our society, various cognates to the word worth, and two of them are price and cost.  Ah yes.  Worth in our society has an actual standard.  Money.
Heathen artists, I am looking right at you at this moment.  Pay attention, most of you are getting this wrong.  I donate my own profits, so you can chose to say I am ignoring this or not, but I make my profits first, so I get at least that much right.  Stop being Christian about your art!

 

I have a friend who is a tattoo artist, and recently had to read him the riot act because he was being very humble about his art.  I don’t mean humble in the “wow, he is so down to earth, not full of himself” way that Christianity makes of the virtue of being humble, I mean in the failing to give his art the respect it deserves, failing to provide for his family as they deserve, undercutting his fellow artists by charging far less than the work associated with that art is worth kind of way.

I have friends who are singers, songwriters, illustrators, authors; all of whom are busy creating so many amazing and worthy works of Heathen art, most of whom are busy being very Christian about it and failing to honour themselves or their works by demanding that they receive in money what the purchaser actually believes the item to be worth.  If it has great worth, you really should prove that by paying the artist money equivalent to the value you see it holds to you.

In this our community has really bad habits.  Where you would pay full price at a restaurant, at a car parts dealership, gun or blade-smith, we, as a community have gotten way too comfortable with low-balling our own community who make available to us Heathen art, Heathen craft, and Heathen devotional items.

A gift for a gift, wow, we are so broken on this level it is scary.  This literally is why we can’t have nice things.  The Christian churches are some of the biggest businesses in the world, and while I would never follow them in the way they devote themselves to fleecing their flock, mostly because they seem intent on disempowering them to the point of maximum tractability and dependence , they do at least make sure they get paid full price for their religious regalia, paraphernalia, music and art.

 

Reciprocity is at the heart of our practice for a reason.  In biology we learn about the kinds of relationships that two intersecting species can share.  There are a number of stable relationships whereby multiple species can be joined together.  At the positive end of the spectrum is symbiosis, where the association is positive and beneficial to both, in the middle is commensalism where it is neutral, but there is also parasitism where the balance favours one over the other, whereby one party receives the benefit, and the other pays the cost.

Reciprocity is the measure of the fairness of a relationship, not its depth or nature, but a valuable “health check” to see if the relationship is healthy.  Healthy relationships are symbiotic (positive to both), or commensal (neutral exchange).  Unhealthy relationships are parasitic, the parasite often feels things are going great, whereas the person on the losing end generally will feel abused.

 

Volunteer burnout is a reality of most organizations, and it is a result of a failure of reciprocity.  We look at volunteers, and I can name so many (Dara, Lisa, Rob, Amanda, Aaron, Laura) who give so much to the various communities they are a part of.  I have seen so many come to the Heathen community, feel so blessed by the gifts they have receive that they want to give back.

Christian programming again kicks in, and the martyr complex becomes an issue.  The idea that you have to give, and your own needs do not matter is something that that community finds virtuous.  Welcome to Heathenry; we don’t.  The gifting cycle has the reciprocity test.  If you give more than your recipient can match without hurting themselves, you have hurt them; giving them the choice to be in your debt, or to beggar themselves to stay even.  This is abusive behaviour, and basically a dominance game.

If you give to an organization or community more than you can afford, or give to them so much that you are unable to care for yourself or your dependants, then you have harmed yourself, and you have stained that organization with that harm.

We as leaders in the community are actually supposed to protect you from giving so much you harm yourself.  It is part of our job.  We don’t always do it well, many times because we are busy burning out ourselves, and are wearing serious blinders to prevent noticing the lines we have crossed ourselves.

Reciprocity is the lesson of the gods, moderation in the giving, balance in the flow.  There is a reason for this.  I spoke earlier of the names biology gives to the various balance states of relationships, there is a wonderful term that is used in ecology a lot that comes into play in looking at reciprocity in community relationships, and that word is sustainability.  If you are getting back in measure for what you are putting in, you can sustain that level of investment forever.  If you are in an unequal state, where you are giving more than you are getting back, eventually you will run out.  It is not sustainable.

Communities are living things, and sustainable communities are going to live a long time, be there to provide for the individual members for generations to come.  Communities that are living beyond their means will continue to burn out those good and worthy people who feel such love for their community that they bind themselves to these abusive and unequal relationships until they are expended, and either quit or break.

 

Heathens don’t do martyrs.  We may love a good death scene, but we actually look to win every time.

A gift for a gift, reciprocal and healthy relationships in our devotional practice, our employment, our social interactions, and our faith communities is what the gods and ancestors basically are calling for in the surviving lore.  More is not better, sustainable is better.  Fair is better.

 

If you give to the community, make sure you are receiving from the community in equal measure.

41. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.

The gifting cycle is a wonderful tool for building relationships, but just as the stanza’s about mead use, moderation is actually not only wise, it is specifically called for.

19. Shun not the mead, | but drink in measure;
Speak to the point or be still;
For rudeness none | shall rightly blame thee
If soon thy bed thou seekest.

I drink the presence of our holy community like the finest mead, but I too drink it in measure, for I too have many other commitments, and limited resources that I may devote to the community.  I wish to be a part of the community for many decades yet, and wish to see all of you free to do the same, so come and partake with us, but always with the understanding that you are not asked ever to give more than you receive, nor ever should you feel shame in staying within your limits.

We don’t come to Heathenry with the assumptions our ancestors did, so given the Heathen gifting culture, and the Christian fundamental assumptions, it is possible to find ways to abuse and neglect yourself out of a desire to give back to the community.  Don’t.

We want you to come away from your community at every event and interaction sure that you received more than you gave.  This is symbiosis, this is the Heathen community done right.  This is what we are aiming for.
Hashtag, no martyrs.

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Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Winter Nights

Green Wode Winter II

 

Snow was falling as I headed to the Green Wode for Winter Nights.  Heathens of the Nine Realms was hosting, a group I have been privileged to see grow from seeds planted in the broader pagan community and grow into a thriving, frithful, heathen community.  We came to mark the end of fall, the end of the harvest, and turn our eyes to the coming winter, to the dark, and to the dead.

 

Joining with us in this celebration were a local coracle building society, the artist who crafted these hardy boats had offered one of her coracle shells as a devotional offering for the Winter Nights fire, asking only that she be able to film the offering of her vessel, her artistry.

 

We began to gather at four as snow fell with the fading sunlight, to cease with the moonrise to leave us with a moonlit night filled with the sounds of the farm, field and forest animals, to which we added the music of fire, the songs of men and women, the stories of our ancient folk and faith.

 

A Tablero board appeared by magic, and Steven and I sat with dice and drink before us to compete at board as we do at spears.  Discussion roams from lore to history, to mythology to family, to our own lives and back again.  Laughter and jest between old friends who admit no barriers between them, courtesy and hospitality mark the newcomers who learn to accept the welcome of a community that holds to its own soul and does not lower itself to judge others by the labels our larger society seems content to divide itself with.  Come as you are, be who you are, and be welcome among us.

Tablero

 

Winter Nights was the feast that marked the end of the harvest season, the feast which marked the determination of which animals would be fed through the winter, which would be slaughtered to feed the folk.  Our priestess marked with Valkyrie mask lead our sheep masked offering about the fire, before ritually sacrificing him, and offering his blood to the fire and gods.

Upon the fire balanced the woven wooden frame and hull of a coracle, the ship given to the fire to carry away for us the hopes and dreams we offer, the brags of what we have done, the boasts of what we will do; the ship that will carry the grave goods and prayers to those we have lost in this season.  As the horn past, those of our kin, of our family, and of our dearest friends who had fallen were remembered, their glories sung, the place they held in life was shared, and the place they will hold forever in our hearts and minds was carved.  The ship which was the funeral vessel of our folk, either given to fire and wave in Viking funeral, or interred above our dead in the more common ship-grave is the vessel that no only carries us through this life, but from it.

Coracle making II

 

The coracle snapped and crackled in the fire as we hailed our holy gods, offering to them our praise, our thanks, our prayers, and tokens of our own craft and skill.  Each chose to honour the god or goddess whom had given the most to their lives in the year that was, and shared the lessons they had learned, the changes they had made, or were vowing now to make in the year to come.

 

Horn passed again, and we turned to offer to those gathered in sumbel with us, or who had sumbeled with us before but were not able to be here tonight.  Brightly we wove our wyrd together as we offered a gift for a gift, the bright offerings of praise and glory to those who had touched our lives, inspired us, aided us, challenged us, stood with us through storm and trial, test and hardship.

Altar Horn

 

Feast we then shared, groaning tables heavy with food both from the kitchens of our host, and from each guest who sought to bring an offering of matching worth to the hospitality they knew they would receive, and more than twice our number could eat.  Loud the hall with conversation and laughter, deep thoughts and discussions of lore and sacred mystery mixed with raucous tales and moments of mirth and jest as there were no borders for discussions with those who felt such connections between them.

 

Back to the night we trod, stoked the fire high again as we offered now more personally as the horn passed to us, sharing of our lives with those whom we now felt more comfort.  Bright the deeds that were shared, bold the boasts that were bared for the first time, those who had long cherished dreams that they at last dared to make come to pass in the world, to stake their fortune and their name to succeed or fail as wyrd wills.  In such company none feared to offer the truth of the goals they aimed at, the hopes they strove for, the secret dream they would pledge themselves to bring forth.  The goals were both personal and profound, some so daring that you had to salute the majesty of the quest and the courage of those who would so openly swear themselves to the doing.

 

Song now was offered, haunting melodies of love and loss in Finnish and Swedish, even Liam was induced to offer to us the Lord of Castlemere

 

https://youtu.be/-FF2fBRKxtk?list=RDi2vlXuEmfag

 

Tales now were told of our ancient gods, of alf and troll, god and hero as the moon lit the dark wood and the shadows danced around the fire to paint the night with dancing shadows to paint the night with glimpses of worlds of myth and mystery.

 

Many were free to spend the night wrapped in their bedding by the fire in the Red Room, but I, alas had to get back to pick up my daughter from work.  For me Winter Nights would end, but another hearty meal awaited those lucky enough to spend the night, for hospitality such as this is to be treasured more than the gold which is actually easier to find and less rewarding to hold.

 

Winter is come, and the folk are strong and whole, together in the sight of our gods, ancestors, and the wights of our lands and waters.   A gift for a gift, thanks for the bounty of the year that was, and promise to use that we will take no more than we need, and give back in return full measure.

Bonfire

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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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