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.

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Never Again: Muslim Internment

Muslim Internment

japanese-canadian

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

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

Hate was the reason.

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

masumimilitary-medal

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

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

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

A truly Heathen concept is this: Own Your Shit.

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

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

Never, FUCKING NEVER, again.

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

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

 

 

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Uncategorized

Broken swords, and brand new boxes

Northern Longsword

I have three friends right now undergoing medical release from the armed service of their nations.  One American soldier, a Canadian soldier, and a Canadian Sailor.  These men have made of their bodies and their lives an offering, have given to the service of the state what cannot be asked of any free man or women, what cannot be compelled, what can only be given freely as an offering.

Before the families they left behind again and again, before the lovers whose beds they left cold and empty again and again, before the dreams of riches they set aside to give their prime earning years to the service of states who used them, as they were offered, swords in the service of the state.
Shields were riven, the swords were ever first to the fray, ever willing to ring again on steel or flesh in endless and brutal training, or in battle on sea or land.  Unwaivering, and unflinching they gave their bodies to the fray, to the task of saving lives, protecting lives, or taking lives, in the service of the land of their birth, for pay they could have bettered in any of the professions that serve them with the supply of their arms or supporting technologies.  To those from whom much is asked, little is given.  This is the economics of need, for the soldier, sailor and airman may make of his life an offering, a corporation will make of its arms a profit.  I get this, I now serve a corporation making these arms so I truly do understand.

We speak of the armed services of our nations as being the Sword of the State, for that is their function.  That is not, however, their composition.  A pattern welded sword is forged of different grades of soft flexible iron, spring steel, and razor edged diamond hard steel.  From these dissimilar forms of iron, the sword draws the combines strength, flexibility, and hardness to be well adapted to all the many tasks we ask of it.  So too are our forces made of a combination of warriors, technicians, engineers, logistics experts, mechanics; each masters of the trades required to keep the most sophisticated equipment known to man operating at peak efficiencies in conditions ranging from difficult to hostile.   The sword analogy only carries us so far, for unlike uncaring iron, or cold painless steel, the sword of the state is forged of men and women who bruise, bleed, and break.

My wife refused to do more than simply sleep with me while I served, for she knew as long as I served she would be the second woman in my life, that the Queen was ever first.  She was not wrong, when Queen and country called, I set aside my job, my education, my personal and family obligations and marched away.  I did so without a second thought, eager to make a difference, to face the test, accept the challenge, or hell, just because it needed to be done.  During the last Liberal gutting of the CF, I mustered out and devoted myself to building a life, a family, and a fortune.

My friends did not.  They did put Queen (or Constitution) before their own family, before their own fortune, and certainly before their own health.  Their peak earning years are past them, and frankly what they have to show for it from a monetary standpoint is underwhelming compared to the amazing level of ability and commitment their skill, training, and accomplishment represents.  They learned to push through the limitations of their flesh, they learned to adapt and overcome conditions that would be illegal to risk civilian workers in, through hours that make overtime maximums seem like training norms and light days of deployments.  Like professional atheletes they drove their body past the limits of mere humanity again and again to achieve what their mission demanded, whatever that mission was.

Trained and experienced at achieving their goals at all costs, they knew the glories of a level of performance that belongs only to the top percentage of humanity in most fields of endeavor.  They also carried a rising cost, year upon year, of pushing beyond the limits our biology had written into our body and blood because they are past only for a price and in direst need.  Trained to push past the limits as a matter of course these men and women, the sword of the state forged in flesh, wore in ways cold iron can not, and even the iron of the best forged blade is worn away through use.

Now the end of their careers, no longer able to serve as their bodies accumulated cost have left them with the bodies of men twice their calendar age, with injuries and sickness that comes from system pushed past their breaking point until they could no longer return to health once more.  They return to families who too have paid the price for this service.

I can tell you comforting lies of noble wives and proud children, but who would I be lying to serve precisely?  A marriage is a partnership, parenting is not only a partnership but a burden that sometimes requires two sets of shoulders simply to bear, and yet service spouses frequently face the direst of challenges alone, or with a spouse who returns with little understanding of what is asked of them. There are wives, and indeed husbands, who take up the sacrifice of their beloved’s service and accept a double burden, privation and fear, loneliness in absence and awkward adjustment at return, and strive to complete that challenge together.  There are many, many, relationships where the burdens of service leave deep wounds in the families that are ever second in importance to their service spouse, where children and loved ones become angry strangers to the one who marched or sailed away in service.

Now we have our broken swords, released from service, free to return to the hearth and home they have so often marched or sailed away from, free at last to put their loved ones first.

Odin is whispering in my dreams, and has been since first I swore my oath to Crown and Queen, the ravens have flown over my whole life since that point, and I have never had the ability to turn my eyes from the price paid, the scars and wounds shine in my sight even as the causes and victories are naught but smoke and mist.

Ravens

There are challenges that lie before my friends now, and they are not challenges that they have been prepared for, or rather that their preparations have made worse.  Those who have served long and fiercely enough to have been broken in service are not those who shy from the struggle, but they are equipped to reach for tools that are ill equipped for the challenges ahead.

There are habits to break, and I haven’t succeeded in breaking all of my own, so I cannot tell them how to succeed with any credibility.

There is no employer worth the sacrifices you are hardwired to give, no pay cheque that is worth the 100% you will feel compelled to give.  When your civilians speak of commitment, they have compartmentalized lives and they speak of the “work box”, reserving for themselves much of their lives for their own purposes with as little thought as you have learned to give your whole life to service when called upon to do so.  No one is calling for that now, nor should you give it.  It is time to start building those boxes, the family box, the work box, the you personal box.  You need  to learn to balance the work box with  the family box, and remember the self box is required if you want to remain anything like a functional human being not snarling automaton.

Three boxes life

Don’t stop.  Seriously.  You can’t.  Those who stop die, and usually quickly.  While it is time to adjust to a new pace, we really don’t hang quietly over the mantle piece like the metaphorical swords between wars.  We really need a purpose, and to be striving towards it.  We don’t need a grand purpose, but really a dozen little purposes that we putter at will keep us alive and engaged, without kicking in the almost reflexive all or nothing commitment that has quietly become the norm of a life of service.

There are problems and situations.  Figure out which you are being given.  You have learned to be a trouble shooter, and quick decision making and ruthless application of the decision reached has become your strongest asset for problems.  Situations are different.

When your spouse describes a situation, it is a briefing of local conditions, not a request for orders.  It is not being presented for action, but for information.  When you turn your eyes to the domestic front, the clear cut decision making tools you are good with actually suck pretty badly for almost all home uses.  The tools we use amongst ourselves are a very specific set based on the shared purpose we accept as being sovereign over our own needs.  That was then, this is now, the “real” world is pretty much a cluster-frag, and that is pretty much the consensus of how they want it.  Fixing it is not actually welcomed, nor possible, as without shared strategic objectives the current jug-frak represents the best expression of that freedom we were busy defending, not practicing.

Don’t explain.

Really, it won’t help, and will generally make things worse.  People really are happier when you give them some trite sound byte about your service.  If you try to explain, they will not understand, or will try to tell you how what you did was not required, which will only piss you off, about the way a fish explaining you have no understanding of how to ride a bicycle would.  You know what was required, and why, they don’t have to.  Your service was an offering made to the state which understands the requirement, for the benefit of the people who don’t.  The state doesn’t actually feel gratitude, but you can’t possibly have served long and not figured that out, but that in no way makes your shared understanding with the state of the necessity of the sacrifice any less true.  It makes it a sucky deal, but hey if you can’t take a joke, you wouldn’t have joined up.

Its all screwed up and nothing seems to be fixing it!

Bingo, there you have it, that is the resting state of humanity.  Honestly.  I know it will take a bit to accept, but this is the truth.  The world muddles along.  It is a semi functional goat rope with delusions of efficiency.  I know you cherish the same myth that I did, that the institutional stupidity of the army was unique to the big green machine and that the “real world” functioned in a business like manner run by professionals.
They peddled it, and they seem to believe it.  They really do.  I guess they have no idea the “real world” is as screwed up as it is, and the business model is not less dysfunctional than the military, it is a whole lot more sanctimonious while being just as screwed up and less than half as productive.

It pays great.  Honestly, the breaks are good, benefits are nice, and the pay is great.  Give them a few vets to keep the trains running on time and the place from burning down and the civilian world will keep muddling along in the collective delusion that they are well organized and functional.  They don’t have a clue how silly it looks from our point of view, and it would only make them sad to explain.  Just smile and nod.

You are going to be frustrated and want to fix things; you can’t.  You can go crazy trying.  Remember those boxes I talked about?  Keep family at home, don’t bring it to work.  Leave work when you clock out.  Keep some time for yourself, be selfish in that time as self care keeps you sane and reasonably personable when you are in your other boxes.  Relax.  You can do this.  You may no longer be front line swords anymore, nicked and battered as you are,  but in a world where the butter knife is considered to be standard, and the paring knife an overachiever, your biggest problem is going to be dialing it down enough for the application, not getting the job done.

We didn’t face the fires alone, we faced them together.  Now that we are all back in what we are told is civilization, we are still there for each other.  Reach out, together we can figure this out; for a given civilian cluster-frag value of figured out.

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Uncategorized

CanAm flag

I am going to break a whole bunch of taboos and tell you the truth. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is not king, as the saying goes, but rather the sight of the one eyed man is a threat to those whose understanding of the universe does not contain the sights they have seen, the colours they describe, the light so bright it burns, or the darkness whose reality they have no context for. PTSD is NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS, it is an injury that is aggravated by the a society that has a great deal invested in a shared delusion state that is not in fact based in reality. The blind are invested heavily the universe they know and understand, the universe the one eyed speak of is both incomprehensible and threatening. Those that speak of sights they have seen are not gifted, are not heeded, they are deemed freakish and flawed, and shunned for the fact they cannot.

Our society has worthy goals, the peace, prosperity, security and safety that are our stated goals, these are good and worthy goals. Our society prides itself on equality, and on justice. These are all good things. Our society has the firm belief, almost religious conviction that violence is not the answer. These are all good and worthy goals, this is not the reality that exists.

What do you tell the woman who has been raped, the child that has been abused? We tell them that they are paranoid and broken because they are unwilling to put themselves into the same situation in which they were attacked. We call them irrational because they look at crossing the campus at night in terms of risk, when those to whom ignorance of the risks is their only armour scoff at the danger that they have not themselves encountered….yet.

We tell our children that violence never solves anything, but the reality is that our police carry weapons that are designed to use force ranging from blindness, through unconsciousness, and yes indeed, death as a direct implementation of the Crown’s need to protect the public through the application of violence to stop the abuses of the law abiding citizens from the criminals who look upon them as nothing more than prey. Our jails are not filled with criminals because it is unthinkable for people to be victims of crime, they are filled with criminals because the risk of violence is real and present. We have laws against willful promotion of hatred in this country because……well basically a whole lot of people seem to want to stir up hatred. We cannot claim that hatred and violence are not real while we have expensive state agencies that exist, and suffer from chronic overburden, to deal with the results of the bad things we claim are not real concerns.

Then you have the soldiers. To be a soldier is to serve your country through the application of deadly force in pursuit of the policies of your elected officials. Soldiers do lots of other things as well, but make no mistake, peace is something that soldiers leave behind through the establishment of order through the application of controlled violence. When violence in the hands of those who have no urge to accept peace is your problem, the application of violence in the hands of those who desire an end state of peace is actually a big part of the solution. It is not the end stage, but convincing the enemy that he cannot win through force is required for the tool of negotiation to actually be of use.

Soldiers and those who work outside Canada’s borders in failed states, in long standing war zones, see humanity at its worst, stripped of all vestiges of innate civilization. There is a reality that we have the morality we can afford; the closer to the edge of survival a people stand, the closer to home the lines of who you look out for become, and the farther away the boundaries of what you will do tend to drift. The “great generation” who lived through the world wars remember this, and carry its scars to their grave, even in lands where the society did not break down.

The term inhuman gets tossed around a lot, almost as much as human rights. To be honest, the only human right is to die. Everything else is a privilege which is made possible through the collective efforts of a society whose ability to function is based on its collective wealth, its collective will to employ it towards the common good, and its ability to defend that common wealth from those who would take it. Society exists because we can afford it, we desire it, and we defend it. It is not a right, it is not a natural or real thing, it is an artificial construct that is kept alive by our continued investment in it. When that construct breaks down, humanity is a whole lot different than we are comfortable seeing it.

Soldiers do not live in the comfort zone, they live in the reality, with the skill set and discipline to walk into the chaos that is, and do their best to hammer it into a field expedient approximation of a society so that others can look at building the resources to afford, the will to sustain the society that soldiers can only ever provide the naked killing power to defend. We both kill and die to buy time for society to either get its collective crap together to build a self sustaining structure, or finish tearing themselves to pieces fighting over the scraps of what they once shared. We know what our tools can and can’t do, we are the surgeon’s knife, or the butcher’s cleaver, not the sutures or the dressing. We do the hard and necessary things, we get dirty in ways that extend way the hell beyond the physical dealing with the terrible things that our society really really doesn’t want to admit exist.

We are the one eyed men and women in the land of the blind. We look down the same roads that you do and we see the signs that indicate the roadbed has been tampered with, and our bodies and minds react because that is all the warning of an IED you generally get. We look at the movement of people and vehicles around us and are always calculating threats, cover, exit lanes. This isn’t paranoia, this is preparation. While the people around us stumble along in the dark, oblivious to the dangers around them, and frequently victims to them, we who are sighted see the dangers, and heed the Havamal.

1. Within the gates | ere a man shall go,
(Full warily let him watch,)
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.

Odin Picture
Odin, the one eyed god, the Victory Father, is the inspiration of the Havamal and the first words in it tell us to be aware of the dangers of this world, and look well before you move through it. This awareness of danger as a reality of our world has been lost as our society has mistaken its goals for its reality, its destination for its position. In this land of the blind, those who are aware of the dangers, because they have encountered them, are deemed to be mentally ill, when the reality is they are simply one eyed men and women in the land of the blind. Damned and doomed to be seen as flawed because they can see, deemed to be irrational because the reality they have lived through, the life they have lived, does not fit in the shared delusional state of the nation of the blind that refuses to accept that there are sights they in their eyeless state, cannot see.

Those who suffer from PTSD have survived the sorts of trauma, not always single events, but often the accumulated stresses of pressures beyond what the mind can simply resist without bending or breaking, and they have survived. They have lived through experiences that do not fit in the comfortable world that our society strives to build, through shared intention and investment. The fact that these are either the people this society has failed to protect, or those who have paid the price for serving under arms to protect the place in which such a dream of peace and security could exist, just makes it so much less excusable for the treatment of those who bear the scars of the things society cannot accept.

The majority is not actually naturally right. What you have lived through is real, and trumps what others believe ought to be possible. I get very tired at the degree of aggression shown by the mental health professionals to those whose reality really does extend to places they cannot even contemplate, and therefore simply refuse to accept are real. I get very tired at the stigmatizing of the one eyed men and women in our society, for the crime of having seen what the blind have not.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is judged to be insane, but he is still right. Blind is still blind, no matter the numbers who agree there is no sun, no stars, no moon, you simply cannot pretend not to have seen what you have seen, to know what you paid the hard ugly coin to learn. Nor should you.

I am done losing people to satisfy the delusions of the blind.  I honestly don’t care that the good people of our society don’t like to think about bad things, or have illusions about reality that other, frankly better, people have already paid a terrible price so that you have the freedom to be wilfully blind.  Play time is over, it is time to grow up.  The world is a complicated place, there are some things in it that you won’t understand, some terrible things that must be done, and you probably won’t understand why.  There are people who have been part of the same society that you are whose lives have contained events you absolutely cannot understand and really ought to stop pretending you can.  Stop trying to make the blind pretend they have not seen, stop stigmatizing knowledge and sanctifying ignorance.

We lose people to PTSD because in the land of the blind, the one eyed men and women feel they have no place.  We lose people every gods damned day because they make you uncomfortable and you make that abundantly clear.  I am done pandering to your delusions.  I am done protecting your comfort.  The men and women who come back are not ill, they are carrying a burden for you.  You don’t have to understand it, in fact most wouldn’t wish that on their worst enemy.  One thing, and one thing alone is required of you, make them welcome, let them come all the way home.  In the land of the blind, let the one eyed man have a place.

Odin is the one eyed god, the god of the price paid, the Victory Father.  That is the face I wish our returning soldiers to know.  He is also the Feeder of Ravens, the Hanged God, the Gallows Lord, who feeds his wolves and ravens from the dead warriors.  This is the face that more and more of our soldiers are finding, not on the fields they returned from, but in the home they could not fully return to.  Be part of the solution.  Let the fallen of our wars be measured on the day the guns fell silent upon the field, not when the last veteran falls in the silence of his solitude.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-3h9tNrsPg

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Terror Dissapointed

The day was cold and clear as only November can be.  A ravens circled the cenotaph, a wheel of black ringing the Einherjar’s monument.  Storm winds howled and circled, as the leaves wept red leaves upon the cold grey stone, and across the waiting crowds.  The day of Remembrance had come, and with her sons slain here at home, the public answered.

The Remembrance is the single most Heathen ceremony that Canada owns.  Odin’s own Einherjar blot, where the valiant dead home to the hearth fires they fell in defense of, to stand in the ranks with the living, and receive the praise of the land for which they fought, and for which they fell.  It is a pledge renewed, each year, that those who remain will take up the defense of the freedoms for which the dead fell.  It is a sacred trust that this act of terror sought to break.

The call went out from Isis to kill Canadian servicemen here at home.  The weapon that served them so well in so many lands, the creation of fear through random killing, was used here in one of the most peace loving nations on earth.  WO Patrice Vincent and Cpl Nathan Cirillo were struck down here in Canada to serve the two ends of turning Canadians of different backgrounds against each other, and make us grow afraid to come together to honour those who risk their lives in the service and defense of our nation.

They must by terribly disappointed.

We are not as other nations.  We do not fly our pride from banners, nor sound it from trumpets.  We do not look upon the shed blood of our sons and daughters, and in anger demand that blood should answer blood.  Canada has different traditions.

Canadians have marched to war in almost every generation, under the Empire’s banner, and then our own, but we have done so without hate.  It was enough to know our country called, and her sons, and now daughters, took up arms and marched away to do what must be done, because it must be done.  They marched to war FOR hearth and home, for family and friends, for the freedoms they set aside so that they may be defended for those they left behind.  They did not march AGAINST the foe, but for their homelands, and their sworn allies.

Canada is slow to draw the sword of war, but sheaths it only in victory.  We do not fight in great crusades, nor are our soldiers shining saints.  Our troops are professionals, one and all, and wage war as craftsmen.  The hardest and dirties job before them, they go about it with dedication and discipline, with the good humour that surprises many, and with the brutal efficiency that surprises more.  War hates no thing worse than half measures, so our troops have a well earned reputation for getting the job done, where others could not.  It is a job though, and not a crusade.  There is no hate, there is no drive for vengeance or retribution.  It is a job to be done, and where killing is required do so fiercely, but where other tools will serve, will use those first, for peace is always and ever the goal of any war that is justly fought.

Two of our own were slain, here, in our homelands, as a symbol of what hate could do.  It served instead to show what hate cannot do.

Heathens understand death perhaps better than most, and service folk better than any.  To be a soldier, or any profession in which you stand into danger in the service of others, you accept that you can do everything right, and still be slain.  The enemy too is trying to win. Death is not defeat, nor mistake, nor tragedy.  Death is the cost of service that we try to minimize, but accept as inevitable to be present.  Two Canadian soldiers fell in service, they were not defeated, they fell in the service of a grateful nation, and will shine forever in our memory.  They are Einherjar.

There was no outpouring of hate against ethnic communities that spring from the lands that ISIS terrorizes.  There was no outpouring of hatred against the faith that ISIS claims as its own.  Fear is the success of terrorism; and in this, they failed.  There was no fear.  Crowds were larger than at any time in my memory.  Service folk from every generation stood, and those citizens born, or newly come stood,  to honour the ideals of a nation that will not submit to fear, will not answer blood with hate, but with reason and with courage.

Two soldiers fell, standing watch for us.  Their watch is done.  The freedom and unity that is the Canadian dream is no longer theirs to defend, but ours who live.  On the Day of Remembrance, we take oath to those who fell, that is not in vain.  We stand on guard for thee.

Murder of Crows

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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 http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm

 

[2] Hamaval 55-56 http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe04.htm

 

[3]  Gylfaginning XXIV http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm

 

[4] Voluspa 45 http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe03.htm

 

[5] Gylfaginning XXXIV http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre04.htm

 

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

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Heathen Woman Stands for the Fallen

 Outsiders have always liked to portray Heathenry as male dominated, both in gods and in practice.  Heathens themselves understand this differently.  While we give honour and reverence to both male and female ancestors, it is the Disir, the female ancestors that we turn to, even before our gods, for the protection of our line.  In peace or in war, in childbirth, or in loss, it is to the Disir the heathens of ancient times turned first (http://www.friggasweb.org/matrons.html), even as it is to the living wives and mothers we turn for advice and solace.  I speak now of one such wife and mother who has fought for her own, to win the right for all heathen service folk to be buried under Mjolnir, even as Christians can be buried under the cross, or Wiccans the pentacle.

In August 2012, a heathen mother buried her Marine son Shane.  He had been raised and taught his duties by his heathen parents, had lived under the Hammer, and she deemed he should lie in ground hallowed by it, and under its sign.   Her husband Mark, himself a retired Airman Vietnam veteran she had already buried, at a time where the faith he lived and taught his son was forbidden to place on the stone the nation provided its military dead.  Here is a woman who had given her husband and son to the service of their nation, and then to the grave.  She had given more than most, more then we dare ask of any, but not more than she felt was required. 

Those cultures remembered as “warrior cultures” in European history, the Germanics and the Spartans have one unifying factor; they were both hated and ridiculed for the strength and independence of their women, even as they were feared for the strength and courage of their men.  You cannot have the one without the other.  Plutarch tell us the last words a Spartan woman would give her husband or son marching to war were these “come back with your shield, or on it” http://www.pbs.org/empires/thegreeks/background/8c_p1.html Since you could not flee with your heavy shield, this was a simple statement that she would rather have you come back an honoured fallen, who stood his ground, than a live coward who betrayed his folk.

Tacitus tells us the Germanic women would take it farther, following their husbands and sons to the battlefield, placing themselves where they could be seen, that any man who turned from the line would see their courage, and take heart, or see that they would not flee, and be shamed into standing.

 

“Moreover, close to the field of battle are lodged all the nearest and most interesting pledges of nature. Hence they hear the doleful howlings of their wives, hence the cries of their tender infants. These are to each particular the witnesses whom he most reverences and dreads; these yield him the praise which affect him most. Their wounds and maims they carry to their mothers, or to their wives, neither are their mothers or wives shocked in telling, or in sucking their bleeding sores.(3) Nay, to their husbands and sons whilst engaged in battle, they administer meat and encouragement.

(Tacitus Germania Chapter 7 http://www.northvegr.org/histories%20and%20chronicles/tacitus%20germania%20in%20english%20and%20latin/001.html)”

 

If you would judge the strength of a people, it is always to the women that I would look.  Where the women are strong, proud, and capable the folk are strong.  Where the women must stoop, lest they stand taller than their men, where the capability of women is seen as a threat to the perceived power of their men, then the folk becomes weak.  Let us examine the strength of one Heathen woman.

 

Blessed with a son, Mark and his wife raised him in the heathen faith, and taught him the ethics of his ancestors.  When death took her husband, his service as an Airman to his nation in Vietnam earned for him the right of military burial, but the sign of his faith was not permitted upon his headstone.  Although he lived under the hammer, he was not given the choice to be buried under it.  Seeing her son Shane follow his father’s footsteps both into living heathen, and serving his country, she proudly watched him march away to war with the USMC.Image

In time she got to bury a second fallen soldier, as her son’s heart muscle failed where his courage did not.  This time, other symbols than crosses were permitted for fallen servicemen, but the Hammer of Thor was not among them.  Husband and father given to the service of the state, she was determined to fight for them as hard as they fought for their hearths and homes.  A full year of struggle, assisted by various heathen groups resulted in the VA sending her the letter notifying her that her husband and son’s blank headstones would be replaced with headstones crowned with the Hammer of Thor.  As they lived their lives under the faith, they will lie in death under the sign.  Because of her struggle, future heathens who serve the US military may be buried under the hammer sign.  Hail the Disir, hail to the mother.  We lift the horn to your fallen husband and son, we will keep their names ever bright, as they are our bannermen for all future heathen fallen.

 

John T Mainer

Western Canada Steward of The Troth

 

 

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