Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Standard-bearer or Snowflake?

Freehold Oath Ring

We have an opportunity at this moment that is given to very few, to be the generation that defines forever what those who come after us will be be judged by.  The United States has now added Heathen (in various forms and permutations) to its list of recognized religions for service folk.  The Canadian Armed Forces already recognizes it.

The headstones of our service folk who fall will no longer bear the cross that was no friend to us in life, nor comfort to us when we have passed, but our own symbols.  That is just and right, but not really as important in our day to day lives and careers as the less esoteric and more practical reality that now Heathen service-folk are being recognized as such by an institution that has yet to develop an institutional understanding of who we are, and what we are.

Those who came before were soldiers who tried their best to live Heathen in an institution that had no understanding or inclination to understand who and what we were.  Soldiers were permitted religion, pretty much as we were permitted underwear, in any of the three standard issue Judeo-Christian sizes, colour designated by service, quantity one (sign your loan card for the symbol designating your choice, or tick Atheist and go commando).

That day is now over, and we can be counted as Heathens.  This is our first chance to make an impression not just as soldiers, sailors, airmen of our particular service, but collectively as Heathen service folk.  You literally never get a second chance to make a first impression.  This is critical.  We have the past generation of service folk and their advocates to thank for this opportunity, and now we have to answer the question of what we are going to do with it.

Are we going to be standard-bearers, or snowflakes?

I am not going to lie to you, it can go both ways, and whichever way you choose, those who come after are going to have to wear either as a badge of honour or a rucksack of shit they will have to pack their whole career.

A little history lesson for some of you younger folk.  I was a soldier when dinosaurs ruled the earth and held every enlisted position above E5 (Sgt and above).  During this time women were integrated into the combat arms.  I served in the Signal Corps, who already had women integrated, and got to see this process happen on the ground as an NCO in that particular culture.

Those first women were given the choice of being banner-carriers or snowflakes.  The choice was not fair.  Those who chose to be banner-carriers would have to be twice as good as male NCO to not only reach the same bar as their fellows, but soar high above it, if they wished their advancement to be seen as earned rather than gifted.  Their standard of conduct must not be acceptable, but exemplary at every turn, or their ranks and appointments would be seen not as worthy of respect, but as garbage the service was forced to swallow and a poison that ate away at the vital strength of the force that stood between our nation and the foe.

Half of you are already getting ready to call bullshit, the other half are either female or not white or straight and shaking their head wondering why anyone still has to be told this shit who has two eyes and at least one functioning brain-cell behind them.  Like I said, I was on the ground when we did this the last time and I really do understand the process, and the culture.

There is a second choice.  You can go snowflake.  If you do, I swear before all the gods, your ancestors will weep that one of theirs has lived to so dishonour the blood they bear.  Those who come after you, however blameless, will wear your choice like a rucksack full of someone else’s shit, and the damage will perhaps never be fully undone.

Going snowflake means ‘standing on your rights’ and requesting special treatment based on the newly recognized Heathen religious designation.  Think long and hard about this choice.

There are a lot more Heathens in military service per capita than there are in civilian life.  We are called to serve our people, to make of our lives an offering in return for the gifts we have received as free citizens in a land kept free by the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before us.  This is how we came to be in the uniform in the first place.  Remember that.

When we make an offering to the gods, we offer our first and best.  When we make an offering to the people, our people, we can and must do the same.  Offer our first and best service.  It is not enough to be a soldier, we must be the very best one we can be.

Right now, we are standing together for the first time as an identifiable group within our respective services.  Right now we are DEFINING what Heathen means to our service.  If we choose to be the banner-carriers of our service, the very best at our respective trades, exemplars of our services, then those Heathens who come after us will wear a label that has come to mean dedicated professional soldier.  If we choose to stand upon our rights and demand special treatment, concessions to our requirements, to have the bar lowered for us at any point, Heathen will come to mean ‘special snowflake’ and every service person who follows you will have to deal with the rolling of the eyes and snickering that follows that soldiers identification as Heathen.

Talk to the women who went through this. If you have any questions about how you should be treating your new status as Heathen within your service, talk to any current service or retired women in the combat arms who made it through the senior NCO ranks.  They understand how it is to soldier on when living under a ‘not fair’ condition is the price paid for making sure those who come after have a fair shake.

I saw a whole lot of women get it right, and make it easier for those who followed after in the Regiment.  I saw what happened in units where people chose to go full snowflake, and the ration of shit that those who followed for decades after is a cost you do not want your own choices to carry.

I can and will continue to advocate to make sure our Heathen service folk receive the same treatment and opportunities for support that their Judeo-Christian fellows receive.  At the same time, listen to an old soldier, for the first time we are being seen by our respective services as a discrete and knowable group.  The opinion of what a Heathen means to your units is being formed in this generation, in this very moment.  The spotlight is on you.

Chose to be banner-men, banner-women.  Chose to be exemplars of the virtues that our faith and our service shares.  Show your service why they should be proud to have the service of Heathens within their ranks, and teach them to treasure what we bring.  Do this, and you will not only earn great personal worth and honour, but you will make it better for every generation that follows you in service who identify as Heathen.

It will not be fair, but to be honest, fair is a civilian term.  Suck it up and soldier.  Let us fight to make sure your rights are protected, we have served and are free to bitch for you.  Don’t just shut up and soldier, shut up and SHINE as a soldier.  Shine so bright that Heathen will be something that your service will come to associate with the standards they desire from their troops.

Current events, Uncategorized

Disabled Veterans: Who stands on guard for them?

Who stands on guard for them?

Nithling Justice Minister

In our anthem, we proudly offer the promise, of true patriot love, to stand on guard for thee.  Now I ask the question, for the sons and daughters who take up arms, and stand on guard for thee, who stands on guard for them?

Once it was the Canadian people, for under their direction the government of Canada vowed it would match the commitment of those brave men and women who offered their very lives for their country, that those who suffered loss through that service would be honoured and compensated for their losses for the length of their lives.  Once to offer your life, and come back wounded, was to know that your nation would look after you in life, as you risked your life to look after it.  No more.


In a 1917 speech by Prime Minister Robert Borden during the First World War: “The government and the country will consider it their first duty,” Borden said, “to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.” [1]

This is the Canada that was, a Canada that was worth the blood of its sons and daughters.  We stand now at the hundred year anniversary of Vimy Ridge, where the Canadian Army undertook under its own banners and leadership a task the mighty British Army and proud French Army had both undertook and failed.  We stood for the first time not as a child of the British Empire under their leadership, but as a world power, a nation of proud and independent identity.  For the first time we raised our own banner and strode into history by breaking a German defence that cast down the mightiest militaries of its day.  Our newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood at Vimy and spoke thus.



The price they paid.

The burden they bore.

The country they made.

Seven thousand and four Canadians were wounded in the battle that began here, 100 years ago today. Three thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight Canadians died.


This, from a population, in 1917, of just eight million.

Think of it, for a moment. The enormity of the price they paid.

These were, for the most part, young men in their late teens and early twenties. Not professional soldiers. But they were superbly trained. And supported by months of painstaking preparation.

Yet for all that, they still required courage – to a degree that is hard to fathom.

They weren’t impervious to fear, these men. They were human. Homesick, tired, footsore and cold.

Yet still, they advanced. Uphill, through mud. Under fire. They advanced, fighting like lions, moving just behind a devastating allied artillery barrage.

And they did not stop. They did not stop, until they had victory.”[2]


This is the military tradition of my nation, the system that trained my Grandfather in WWII, my father who deployed with the UN to such far flung and unheralded conflicts as the Belgian Congo, and in turn myself.  There was a big difference between the welcome we returned to.  Seven of my family went to the First World war, two returned, and vowed the names of the five who did not live to have sons would be the names of each of their sons in memory. I bear two of those names, as does my father, grandfather, and uncles.  We remember, we keep the covenant.  The two who returned after WWI received parades, as did the three sons and one daughter who returned from WWII, although Great Uncle Ran received instead a name graven on a memorial, and burial in foreign soil.

My father and Uncle Jack who fought in the Congo, like those who fought in Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Somalia, or deployed to any of the thousand war zones our sons and daughters have served our nations in the past generations did not receive such parades; received often open disdain instead.  A military disdained by the Canadian people was told every year since the 1960’s to do more with less.  Our NATO obligation is to spend 2% per year on our military and we have never done so.  We cycle too few people in tired, mostly breaking down equipment into war zones again and again, pretending with a staff of senior officers and banners that we actually have the forces that these regimental banners imply.  We deploy the same bodies again and again, as we don’t’ actually have three battalions of troops per regiment, so we are not rotating actual troops so much as conducting a shell game with banners while much of the gear and senior non-commissioned troops cycle again and again through the fire until they are broken.  This is what “doing more with less” translates into.
We sacrifice our sons and daughters.  We use them up, we expend them.  We don’t have the bodies to meet our commitments in a sustainable fashion, so we are forced to do so in an unsustainable fashion.  Our sons and daughters step into the fire again and again, because that is the greatness that built this nation.  That excellence burns in the hearts of our best and brightest, and these are what we are breaking through our careless belief that these political games that allow politicians to make great promises without actually spending any money on increasing the ability of a force that has not been supported properly since the 1950’s.  The politicians spend the blood of our children, because its cheaper than tax dollars in the budget.

Now they want the blood for free.

Afghanistan saw a return to the Canadian people being proud of their soldiers, but the Government that sent them there, Steven Harper’s Conservatives argued that Sir Robert Borden promising to care for Canadian war veterans for life was just a politicians promise, only an election lie, and not something the Government of Canada was actually bound by.

Highway of Heroes

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party platform in his election platform stated:


“Our servicemen and women, who have put their lives on the line for their country, stand for the very best of what it means to be Canadian. For many, their commitment has come at a high cost. During our mission in Afghanistan, for example, 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces lost their lives, with thousands more wounded or left suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, our brave women and men are stationed in conflict zones, including Ukraine, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing their expertise as trainers, peacekeepers, in combat and in disaster relief, among other areas. We have a social covenant with all veterans and their families that we must meet with both respect and gratitude.


For a decade, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have dishonoured us all by failing to uphold this sacred obligation. They have not been truthful to, or respectful of, our veterans. They have laid off hundreds of frontline support staff and closed nine local service offices – making it even harder for veterans to access a vital support system that the Auditor General already criticized as “complex and time-consuming.” Veterans who need crucial mental health services are waiting months, even years, to get help. Harper even left over $1 billion budgeted for veterans’ services unspent.


A Liberal government will live up to our obligation to Canada’s veterans and their families. We will demonstrate the respect and appreciation for our veterans that Canadians rightly expect, and ensure that no veteran has to fight the government for the support and compensation they have earned.”[3]


Talk is cheap.  So are the promises of the Canadian Government.


Once in power, the “Right Honourable” Justin Trudeau reinstated the Harper governments stance.  Justice Department lawyers arguing for the government stating in court “the government is required to give disabled former soldiers only as much as Parliament chooses. It also says the principle of the “honour of the Crown,” which requires the government to act honourably during negotiations and upon which the veterans relied in making their case, applies only to agreements with aboriginal people.”[4]


The lawsuit in question is not actually asking for veterans to be looked after in any special fashion.  The lawsuit in question is raised by Veterans who are asking for their permanent disabling injuries to be treated the exact same as any other workplace injury, through the same formula the Workers Compensation Board would set for any workplace accident.
Understand this: the position of the Canadian government is that the bodies of our soldiers are the only worthless ones in this nation.  Any civilian who is permanently injured through work will be covered for life, only those who undertook the defense of their nation can be screwed over with a one time payment far below what you would get if you got the same injuries on a construction site, in an accident as a bike courier, or burned at Starbucks.

Those young men and women who “Stood on guard for thee”  as it says in our anthem, who stands on guard for them?


Justin Trudeau, I name thee nithling, honourless oathbreaker.  You have broken faith with those whose service has defended the country and the citizens you lead.  Under your orders they stand into danger, under your orders they bleed, they are crippled and they die, and under your aegis this sacrifice is nothing but an opportunity for a sound byte, an uplifting speech given to your adoring press corps, and certainly not worth the attention of a leader to those who have fallen or been injured in his service.

Service folk are bound by their oaths.  They swear an oath of service, and it binds them even unto death.  We are are oath, and our service.  We oath to the Crown and not the Prime Minister for a reason.  The Crown has kept faith with us, it is our elected officials who care only for the dollars they want to spend on politically attractive programs and not on paying the cost of what they do with our military that have failed us.  When a soldier swears his loyalty to the Crown, and to the people of Canada is it an obligation backed by blood and steel.  When a politician promises to care for the soldiers injured or killed in service to that same government, you should understand, it is just a speech, they don’t actually ever intend on honouring it.

Mcpl Paul Franklin






Asatru, Current events, Uncategorized

Responsibility for Hate



I understand that people are looking at the deeds of the worthless scum of various ugly corners of our society, the pure acts of hate, acts that show a complete and utter lack of acceptance of the humanity of those they target, and it is easiest to point to the bloodied hands and seek answers for the deeds there.  That is clean up and damage control, that is not solution, that is putting band-aids on the bullet wounds.  The real loss or victory happens before the trigger pull, before the gun is picked up.  Let me share with you the lessons that were shared with me.


The UK and Canada have agreements to allow members of our forces who wish to emigrate and continue to serve the Crown.  Basically, you can transfer in rank and grade, but you must complete basic training in the new Army so that you and those who will be in your chain of command share a common frame of reference.  By this requirement we found ourselves with a precious asset on our basic training, we had Sgt Reynolds, Recce trooper with tours in Northern Ireland under the British flag, and various fun spots of Africa under the UN.   Given a long history of counter-insurgency work, both low intensity and high intensity, we would have expected an attitude fairly extreme towards the shooters, bombers and front line insurgents.  What we got was something far different, and a far more complex understanding of how hate works, and where it can or can’t be fought.


Now for those who are offended by harsh language, fuck off.  You are not going to have the capacity to accept the stark truths presented to young soldiers by old soldiers who had seen the truth not through media lenses but through their own eyes year after year.  I will give you his words, as he gave them to us, because they deserve to be heard as they were, not as anyone might “pretty them up” and lose much of their essence in the doing.


“You see some fucking 14year old with a rock or a Molotov and a mask, and you just know some poor squaddie is going to have to put a bullet in him eventually, hopefully before he kills a bunch of poor fucks just trying to have a normal life and family, knee deep in someone else’s bullshite.  Can’t do shit about that.  No one can do shit about that kid, he died about seven years ago on his grandmother’s knee when she whispered in his ear about crap that happened a hundred years ago that was probably to avenge some other shit that happened a hundred years before that, and got his bloody father killed already, and convinced him he wasn’t a man unless he avenged the last poor fuck who died avenging some other idiot who decided some shit that happened in sixteen fucking something was worth blowing up a school over”


“You can’t do anything for the punk kid in the mask with a gun or a bomb, the poor kid was killed already by those who taught him that the only way to live was to kill a bunch of people he never met for something they never did and had nothing to do with, just to show the world he has a dick and will find a fucking meat grinder to stick it in.  You put a bullet in the ones you have to before they hurt too many people, but you arent’ solving shit if the granny’s keep whispering.  You buy time, that’s all you do. If someone doesn’t stop the whispering, you will never stop the killing.  Don’t hate the poor little fucks, just shoot the ones who had to, and don’t start whispering about how they deserve it or some poor kid is going to suck that up and end up the next one who needs some poor squaddies bullet.”


It is a sobering thing to learn, that as a soldier, as the sword and shield of the people, you actually can’t stop the bloodshed, you can only decide who dies today and hope someone does something about the whispers before the body count gets too high, or the number of dead to be avenged becomes high enough people stop asking about what the point of the fight was I the first place.

We here in North America do not inherit that kind of instilled hatred.  We didn’t have the grandmothers whispering the glory of the struggle to little boys who grew up not as men but munitions.  Our culture is too diverse and broadly based for that sort of familial cultural conditioning without external support.


We are fixing that.


This last US election has been the stuff of nightmare.  The tides of division and hatred that were whipped up to drive short sighted people into power are not actually the kinds of tides you can dispense with when your port you have reached.  You have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind, you have ridden the storm and now the storm is upon you.


Our media has forsaken its duty to report the story and begun to be the story.  I have watched in my own lifetime the shift from news to sensationalism that has become our media news coverage.  I have seen how the quest to capture attention has moved from providing balanced reporting to providing shock reporting.  We begin with the media attempting to make each and every story not just a single event to be examined in its own merits, but a judgement of society.  The problems from that one start at the fact the guilt/innocence of the people involved are obscured by the “greater issues” and the needs of society on those “greater issues” screw justice right up the ass and the story becomes about something other than the deeds of person involved.  The first victim is forgotten, the second victim is justice, and the third is the community as the “Greater Issue” comes under the same treatment as the initial story.


Politics is about swaying the public, the saying “give me a lever long enough and I will move the world” is born in physics, but reaches its purest expression in politics.  Levers in politics are shocking events that will outrage sections of the public enough to be harnessed to a political agenda to the ends of those who are shaping the message.
The demagogues of Athens and Rome gave us the true expression of the rule of the mob, as agitators showed how little it took to bring society crashing down simply by finding an event that you could use as your lever to work at the stress points in your own society to overturn it.  You would think we would learn from this.
We saw the use of the media in Nazi Germany use this lever to give us the greatest evil of our age, and we saw it enacted again in Yugoslavia proving the tools still work and the price has not changed, and still we did not learn.


We have our media creating sensation and division from tragedy.  Rather than seeking reasoned discourse, they seek to whip up the public passions, because that gets market share.  Facts matter less than passion, truth matters less than purity of message and inconvenient facts that do not fit the message are casually cut as the message not the truth is the important thing, the “greater issue’ whatever the pet cause of the extremist groups who are feeding off, and in turn being fed off by the media always feel their needs are more important than the truth.

We have our grandmothers whispering hate in our seven year olds, only this time they come at us through TV and radio, talk shows and sound bytes shared and reshared around social media where our tendency to look only at feeds that match our own opinions give us a false sense that what we are hearing represents the whole of the truth, rather than the heavily slanted and sculpted message of your own faction, tailored to your demographic by modern demagogues as skilled as any Athenian , and as amoral.


If you shout fire in a crowded theater, you face the penalty for those who are injured in the resulting panic.
If you lend voices to the extremists in all communities, falsely presenting the impression that these extremists represent the commonly held views of communities alien to you, you have successfully shaped the view of that community as hostile and a threat.  You have filled the Molotov cocktail, you have filled the bottle, you have stuffed the wick down into the gas, and you have come to them to ask if they intend on directing those bottles to the target that you yourself have created in the minds of each side.
The problem with the false images of the media’s messaging, is that one you throw the Molotov cocktail or rock, real people are hurt and killed.  If it bleeds it leads is not the whole of the expression.  We need it to bleed if we want the lead is the corollary.  You will not get airtime or market share to explain that you really wont have the real reasons for why an event happened until the trial is over and month of investigation are completed.  You get market share if you can stand in front of police tape and give an answer that is sensational, shocking, largely reguardless of the facts of the matter.


If you shout fire in a crowded theater you get charged.  You stir up divisions in the community until various sides are spilling blood and burning theaters down you get elected, you get great market share, you get to say that you were right in what you said would happen.
Make no mistake, this is about media creating the news, not reporting it.  The politicians and social media use the tools the media gives them to move their demographics, but they do not spin them out of whole cloth, they take them from the media, from our glorious independent fifth estate who somewhere in the 1990’s lost its integrity and any desire to fact check before publication and broadcast.


What are we going to do about this?


What are you doing about this toxic messaging?  I know I am as guilty as any for this, it is easy to find an answer in a sound byte that captures your outrage, it is seldom a good answer.  Real answers are seldom sexy and satisfying.  Real progress means accepting that people can be different from you in ways you really don’t like and yet are no threat to you.

Real threats exist.  Bullets do solve some problems.  Please keep the numbers that must get solved by bullets to a minimum by restricting them to the actual criminal sociopaths, the truly evil who are a problem in any generation, but a small manageable ones.

Kill the whispers.  Kill the whispers that seek to make hatred a foundation of young men and women’s world views.  Kill the whispers, or by the gods acknowledge that the blood that covers the ground when some poor fucking squaddie or police officer has to do their job and kill, that blood doesn’t just stain the poor trigger puller, that blood belongs to every one who spread the whispers.


Warriors and Soldiers: The Binding of Fenris

Image        As a Heathen, and a soldier, I came to know and embrace the lore in a way different from those who have not followed the profession of arms.  There is a difference that happens in you when you have seen dogs and birds plucking the flesh from the dead and/or dying, the Victory Father, the lord of Wolves and Ravens is known to you as he cannot be to those who have not seen the ugliness and the necessity, stunk of fear sweat in clothes that had been switched out a dozen times but not washed, and known the simple joy that comes when the fear is taken by duty, by the employment of a soldiers skill.  Knowing that this demands everything you have, as few other challenges can truly claim, and that the people beside you are giving every bit as much as you.  That is glory, that is magic, that is probably equal portions of insane and necessary.  That is Odin’s.  Odin’s is the raven’s feast, the wolves harvest.  Odin’s way is victory, accepting the cost both in blood and suffering as necessary.  For soldiers, rather than bandits, there is another god whose role in war is of paramount importance, not to success on the field, but survival when you return.  I speak of Tyr, and I speak of the Binding of Fenris, both in the outer world, and within.


      While far from the best poet in our halls, it is as a poet that I see the relationship between life and lore, through the lenses of metaphor.  In stanza 34 o Gylfaginning we are given the vision of the three monstrous children of Loki, Hel, Jörmungandr and Fenris Wolf.  Jörmungandr was cast down in the seas to circle the earth, Hel was given dominion over the dead and sent to Niflheim, but Fenris was kept by the Aesir at Odin’s command [1].


     The wolf grew large and terrifying until only Tyr, the lord of the sky, lord of the peace of the thing, the lord of honourable combat, was brave enough to do so.  As Fenris grew in power, so did the prophesy come to be known that he would be the doom of the Aesir, yet still was he kept.


       By Odin’s side are Freki and Geri, his wolves that he feeds from his own table.  While others feast in the great hall, he broods over his wine and throws his meat to the wolves to feast on.  In the Havamal we are given Odin’s wisdom that it is better a man not know his fate, if he is to be free of sorrow [2].  Since Odin gave up his eye for the knowledge of what was to come, he is gifted with the knowledge of what is to come, and burdened with the responsibility to do whatever it takes, however terrible, to make it happen.  Odin and Freya are shown as dividing the valliant dead, the einherjar  [3], even as they share the twin magics of Seidir and Galdor, and share as well dominion over the passions that drive men to contend against each other,  or to stand in defense of those they love.  Many times in the lore we see Odin demanding Freya cause strife  between mortal kings, that the valiant dead may be harvested.  Against his need to stave off, or win victory at Ragnarok, he needs to see his people war, that the best and brightest be lost to life, and Valkyrie taken.  War is required to preserve the future of the folk, war is a threat to the existence of the folk.  War is suffering, waste, loss.  War breaks down the bonds that connect us to each other, that make families, that make societies.  In war, it is easy to lose everything that made you a people, even in victory.  As the Voluspa tells it:

“Hard is it on earth, | with mighty whoredom;
Axe-time, sword-time, | shields are sundered,
Wind-time, wolf-time, | ere the world falls;
Nor ever shall men | each other spare.”[4]


      Fenris has the kenning, the Wolf of War, the Corpse Eater.  Fenris is the ever-hungry.  Fenris is Odin’s shadow.  As Odin rules over victory to choose a few from the field as his own, Fenris eats the corpses of all, high and low, hero and craven.  Fenris eats well, for after battles end when hunger and disease rules shattered lands, the corpse feast lasts far longer than the shield breaking, or last smart bomb dropped.  Whenever men fight, the wolves always win.  As the power of the Aesir is strengthened by the choosing of the slain, the power of Fenris grows from the killing.  The wolf of war is always fed, ever hungry, ever growing.  The wolf spirit that knows no limitation, the killing fury that knows no conscience, the killing madness that has made a beast of men for as long as men have waged war against each other.


      Yet one alone had the will to face Fenris, to feed the ever hungry.  Tyr, lord of trial by combat, lord of the sword, lord of honour, was the only one who dared to feed Fenris.  While Odin shows us how to win, and Thor shows us how to go on when times are hard, it is Tyr who shows us the hardest thing; when we must stand.  Tyr’s symbol was the spear, the spear of kinship, the spear that represented the traditional defense of the folk.  Yet Tyr was the god of the thing, of peaceful dispute settlement, of governance by law and discourse, rather than by sword strokes and fear.  If Odin can be said to be the god who teaches us how to win at all costs, the god of victory in battle, Tyr can be said to be the god of a just war, of the rightful place of violence serving the needs of the folk.


        The question was asked recently on the Troth boards about what separates our morality from that of the ancestors whose ways we study/   The answer is this; they lived in a world ruled by Odin’s way of war, and worked towards one ruled by Tyr’s way.  The bulk of the Hamaval concerns building relationships, even as the teachings of Tyr govern how to come together in peace with justice.  If Odin is the god of paying the price for survival, Tyr is the god of paying the price to do what is right.  Odin teaches us to fight for the lives of those who depend on us, Tyr teaches us to remain human while we do so.


      War served the ends of the Aesir, and the wolf Fenris grew powerful on it.  Fenris must be bound, or the wolf called war would destroy everything they strove to protect.  Against this they used chains forged of the strongest metal and magic, the very things the tools of war were forged from were used in two great fetters, each of which shattered against the strength of Fenris.  The wolf of war cannot be bound by chains forged of physical things.  A third fetter named Gleipnir was forged of six impossible things; no heavy chain, but a silk supple ribbon.  Knowing it a trap as had been the others before, Fenris demanded the right hand of an Aesir to hold in his great jaws, while the fetter was placed, in case it was (as it was) a trick.  Knowing the hand would be lost, the bravest of the Aesir feared to lose their power in war, more than they feared to not do their duty.  One there was who valued his honour over his power, to whom doing the right thing was more important than winning, thus it was that Tyr placed his hand in Fenrir’s mouth, and lost it when the wolf knew himself bound [5].   The wrist has since been kenned the “wolf-joint”, and honour known as the “leavings of the wolf”; for when Fenris took the hand of Tyr, he left him his honour.  Indeed in choosing to forfeit his hand, rather than fail to do his duty, Tyr became the god of honour, of doing what is right, rather than simply what is expedient.


      In the Iron Age war was a brutal thing.  The bodies of women were considered to be just loot, and in war, rape was considered to be acceptable.  The idea of non-combatants did not exist, and when an army sacked a town or city, in order to properly cow the populace, atrocity was the norm for all armies, be they of supposedly civilized lands, or barbarian tribes.  The centre of Western Civilization before the Viking age was Rome, who learned from its Celtic conquorers in 390BC the law they would enforce on most of the Mediteranean world; “Vie Victus” [6].


      That is the morality of warriors, the same as is shared by various tribal or guerilla groups, bandit forces, ethnic militia’s, and other irregular forces.  The nations of the west employ standing armies of soldiers, not warriors. Full time soldiers and citizen reservists who serve under the rule of law, they fight under the Code of Service Discipline (Canada) or Uniform Code of Military Justice (USA).  In combat they are further limited by the Rules of Engagement as spelled out by their national command authority through the military heads of mission for that conflict.  Violence is wielded by men and women who are trained and equipped to bring more killing power to bear than Harald Shaggy Hair could dream of, yet do so within a framework of law; that they may know they act with honour.


      We still feed Fenris, for war continues to rage on this world, as perhaps it always will.  We may feed it the flesh of our best and brightest, for the feast of wolves and ravens will always be served, where the Valkyries fly, but we feed the wolves on their flesh alone.  Atrocity is the get of Fenris, is the wolf unleashed.  Atrocity is what allows a soldier to be lost in a battle they came home from, for the man or woman who went died upon the field when they chose to let the beast offleash.  These days those who let the beast off leash are tried and punished, for they threaten the mission, they besmirch the honour of those they fight with, and they endanger the fetters that bind Fenris; they weaken the border between what is necessary, and what is evil.


    Tyr rules the conduct of our troops, for it is the leavings of the wolf, the part of you that comes home after paying the terrible price for what is necessary, that knows the importance and meaning of honour.  Our ancestors made this possible, they did not know a world like this, but they laid the foundations, and left us the tools to build it.  Do I think I can understand their world?  No.  Do I think they could understand ours?  I think they may well understand what we have at a deeper level than those who have known no other way than the rule of law ever could.


As an aside, it is the duty of each and every citizen to ensure that your nations leaders conduct war within the law.  When your nation chooses to embrace expediency, or determine that not all of its laws regarding warfare are important in this particular conflict, it is shattering the fetters of Fenris, and feeding its own troops to the wolf.  When they come home, the price will be paid again and again for choosing to sacrifice the honour and sanity of our troops for a transient, and usually meaningless end.



[1] Gylfaginning XXXIV


[2] Hamaval 55-56


[3]  Gylfaginning XXIV


[4] Voluspa 45


[5] Gylfaginning XXXIV


[6]Livi,  Ab Urbe Condita (Book 5:34–49)


Rape in the Armed Forces

The list of a soldier’s vices is long and colourful, for as Kipling noted, we are not “plaster saints”.  We are hard men and women, doing hard and unpleasant things, so a society we largely stand apart from can know the privilege of someone else paying for their rights.  For all our vices, for all the things that we come to accept as natural in living and working conditions that would be illegal to subject convicts to, or to ask employees to face, we have one virtue that pays for all the vices, one saving grace found only in the sweat, mud, and grease, in the dust and smoke, and under fire; we are loyal to our own.

My introduction to our morality came as most did, in boot camp.  Nothing is stupider than a young recruit, or officer cadet, because he or she is a civilian, who has left their world forever, and knows it not.  I remember being on parade when the lesson was first administered, someone in the front rank made a mistake, the call went out, “Second man, front rank stand fast!  Parade, front rest position, on the word of command, twenty push ups!”  The man who made the mistake stood, and we all did push ups.  Collective responsibility.  We stand together, or fall together.  The mistake of one is the mistake of all.  He was shamed that we paid for him, we began to understand that when he failed, we all paid.

Later in boot, a member of second platoon (I was in 3rd) was having problems with classwork, and not getting help.  Everyone was getting their stuff done on time, and passing inspections with little problem, so they were surprised when the NCO threw their lockers out the window and dumped their beds on the barracks floor.  After raging the length of the barracks, the NCO’s announced that they had thought they were inspecting the barracks of SOLDIERS, who understood that they stood or fell together, but it turns out that this platoon hadn’t learned that yet, thinking it was enough to clean their kit, and let their comrades fail their classwork because they were too busy looking out for themselves.  Third platoon would be given all the time to clean kit they needed.  The message was delivered.  You look after your own; the Regiment expects you to pool your strengths, those who are more skilled at something will instruct the others, that you are as strong as the best of you at everything, not simply a collection of weak links.

There was a thief.  You do not steal from your own, you do not lie to your own, you do not let down your own.  There was a blanket party.  This is a terrible thing, a forbidden thing, and somehow, a necessary thing.  The offender was pinned beneath his blanket, and beaten with soap in pillowcases by the entire platoon.  This was not administrative punishment, this was collective expression of betrayal.  We demand and expect loyalty to our own.  We are not knights in shining armour, holding to some code of chivalry that existed only in fantasy, but nor are we attack dogs kept kenneled until we are unleashed upon our prey.  We are soldiers, and learn to bond as a family, to trust the men and women beside you as you ought to be able to trust your own kin, but only sometimes can.

What separates elite troops from the dregs?  Equipment, not really, there are a lot of well equipped third world parade ground Johnnies, who couldn’t stop a riot with a nuke, let alone advance against fire.  Training?  Not honestly enough.  Training is good, and will work on the attack when things are going well and you are following your ops plan and doctrine, and your command, control, and communication is in place.  In the face of surprise, in the presence of shock, or disruption of command and control, or in situations outside normal doctrine, the truth today is the same as the truth of the ancients; you fight for the men and women to your left and right.  You stand, because they stand.  You do not run, because you will not leave them.  You do your job because your brothers and sisters expect you to.  Not plaster saints, but loyal to our own.

Napoleon described the importance of morale in war, he said

“The moral is to the physical as three is to one”
“An army’s effectiveness depends on its size, training, experience, and morale, and morale is worth more than any of the other factors combined.”


“In war, moral factors account for three quarters of the whole; relative material strength accounts for only one quarter.” (1)

So the power of an army, the effective strength of a military unit depends on its morale.  The bonds of loyalty that tie the troops to one another, in times of privation and hardship, of boredom stress and fear, it is the single absolute trust in one another that is the difference between a fighting force that is a terror to its enemies, and a defense to its state, and a bandit force dangerous to its state in peace, useless to it in war.

What is the single greatest threat to our military power?  Rape.

It doesn’t matter what the politicians do to us, for we expect them to use us for their own ends, lie to us, and about us whenever they bother to remember us.  It does not matter what the press or public thinks of us, because as little as they understand us, we understand them even less, and care almost as little.  For all our vices, for all the hard and ugly things we see, and do, for the defense of the state, we have shared such a loyalty as those other classes shall never know.  For we are loyal to our own.  Or we were.

Worse than a thief, a rapist is a traitor, a rapist has turned against their own, their sworn brothers and sisters and done to them what they have been taught is forbidden even to do to an enemy.  For one soldier to rape another is to piss on the colours of your  Regiment, to shit on the roll of the honoured dead, to defecate on the memory of all of those who sweat, bled, and died for their brethren.  There is not thing lower than one soldier who would do that to their own; for this act threatens not simply the victim, but the morale, the cohesion, the effectiveness, of the military itself.  The soldier-rapist is a threat to the security of the realm, the honour of his service, and every loyal son or daughter who lived and died true to the colours they betrayed.

Kipling wrote the poem “Danny Deever” that captured the spirit of what it means to have one of your own troops betray and strike out against his mates, his sworn brothers.  In his day we still publically hung them, that the Regiment could see justice done, that the wound could be healed, blood wash clean the colours stained by the dishonourable one.
” ‘Is cot was right-‘and cot to mine,” said Files-on-Parade.

” ‘E’s sleepin’ out an’ far to-night,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

“I’ve drunk ‘is beer a score o’ times,” said Files-on-Parade.

” ‘E’s drinkin’ bitter beer alone,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

They are hangin’ Danny Deever, you must mark ‘im to ‘is place,

For ‘e shot a comrade sleepin’ – you must look ‘im in the face;

Nine ‘undred of ‘is county an’ the Regiment’s disgrace,

While they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.”(2)


For a military to remain an effective fighting force, by this I mean an Armed Forces that can be expected to be equally employable to project force abroad against foes of equal force ability, and domestically in support of civil disaster, it must retain its honour, it must retain its identity, it must remain loyal to its own.  Rape in the military violates this code.  Rape in the military shatters these bonds.  To show that you are loyal to your own, the military must hearken to the lessons of Danny Deever


They are hangin’ Danny Deever, you must mark ‘im to ‘is place,

For ‘e shot a comrade sleepin’ – you must look ‘im in the face;

Nine ‘undred of ‘is county an’ the Regiment’s disgrace,

While they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.”(2)


Call it a predilection of an Odin’s man, call it the institutional memory of a long line of soldiers who knew rot had to be burned out openly, lest it come into the silent acceptance that will make it the work of generations to cure, but I think soldiers watching the rapist hang will understand this truth, we are nothing if we are not loyal to our own.  Politicians and lawyers understand law and society, and justice better than I.  I am just an old soldier, who understood the oldest lesson of the army; our honour is collective, or worth is collective, our success and failure is collective.  That which threatens the bonds that join us, threatens us all.  Sometimes to see us shed the blood of those who broke faith with us, is the only way to restore faith in our broken fraternity.  Blood doesn’t wash out much, vengeance is not justice, but for a military dealing with traitors, with predators of its own sworn siblings, it can at least show that we remember that we are nothing if not loyal to our own.  Rapists are nothing, for they are not loyal to their own, and they are not simply criminals, but a poison that threatens the integrity and effectiveness of our forces, they are traitors, oath-breakers, and predators.  They would best serve their state one last time hanging from a tree branch to show their brothers and sisters in arms that we have not forgotten loyalty, or the reward for treachery.