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.

Nithling

“Consider:

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

[1]http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Pete+McMartin+Disabled+veterans+rights+matter+justice/10451650/story.html

[2]http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/prime-ministers-statement-at-the-vimy-full-text/

[3] https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/real-change-the-future-we-owe-our-veterans/

[4]https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-owes-veterans-no-duty-of-care-federal-lawyers-argue-in-case/article30465871/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=Referrer%3A+Social+Network+%2F+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links&service=mobile

 

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Asatru, Heathen, Uncategorized

Staring Into the Abyss

abyss

 

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you” Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil Aphorism 146.

 

I will give credit where it is due to a fellow Heathen service man, Luke Burroughs for clarifying something I had been struggling to wrap my brain around.  A feeling that grows as distance from the bad times extends, and one over which no amount of logic listing all the ways those bad times were indeed actually worse than you prefer to remember them at casual recollection.  Still, there is a pull, a draw, a power to those times that calls us, a need they fulfilled that I had trouble putting into words, until Luke identified it. The eight characteristics of optimum human experience.

 

  1. The task is challenging and requires skill.
  2. All ones focus is required by the task.
  3. Concentration is possible because the task has clear goals.
  4. Task provides immediate feedback.
  5. Total focus removes from awareness the worries and frustrations of everyday life.
  6. You experience the feeling of complete and effortless control of self.
  7. Total focus on goals allows you to lose your sense of self, a lack of self consciousness which frees you to express your skills and will.
  8. Sense of time is altered – hours pass by in minutes, or seconds can seem like eternity.

 

Here is the scary part, a lot of the worst bits fall into this category.  The battle for immediate survival focuses the human consciousness like nothing else, not even lovemaking.  When you have the training and skills to actually respond to the challenge of a life or death situation with the application of an extremely well developed skill set layered onto a character that not only thrives in, but demands challenge, you enter a state of heightened operation that is like nothing else in existence.  You are not superhuman, you are human expressed in its penultimate form.  Perfectly expressed potential; strained to the utmost by a challenge that demands, and will accept nothing less than one hundred percent of your will, skill, and native ability.

 

I drifted into Industrial First Aid after getting out of the service, and I am really good at it.  I don’t suffer critical incident stress like most people, but I do suffer from a bit of depression when it is done.  It is like I was half alive, half awake, just drifting through life until life or death was on the line and I came alive again.  When it is done, and my skills are no longer required, I set aside that state of being again, and THAT is when the depression calls.

 

We who fought with monsters did not become monsters.  We who stared into the abyss learned we are really good at dancing at its edge.  We are really good at facing challenges that demand everything we possess, in which the stakes are human lives, and in many ways, the future of our people.  What we did required everything we have, justified every sacrifice, and even if it cost our lives, it was worth it.

Now, we draw a paycheque, facing challenges that are more like wading through a swamp of more or less shitty ideas with a range of outcomes ranging from slightly better, to slightly worse as the corporate tortoise shambles forward in its ponderous, nearly sightless, largely unresponsive plod towards the next quarter report.  Our responsibility is to stay safe, our tasks require us to bring our skills to the table, but work inside an environment in which results or goal oriented thinking is often less useful than consensus building and adherence to process.

 

Nothing we do matters enough to be worth risking your safety for.  Our primary goal is to return home safe at the end of the day.  Very little we do will have results that provide any sort of realistic feedback, often praise is drawn for utterly irrelevant actions while truly important accomplishments are ignored or rebuked.

 

The bad times were bad.  Don’t glorify them, they sucked, they cost too damned much, and they left scars that won’t ever be fixed.  That being said, they mattered.  We mattered.  We were fully alive, fully focused, and what we did fulfilled us in ways that the mediocrity of the day will never do for us.
When the apocalypse comes, the bulk of humanity will be unprepared.  Good, while they are panicking, they won’t notice too damned many of us, young and freshly out, mature and supposedly knowing better, or old tired grey beards who look up with shining eyes and wolf grins because by the gods, we can live again.  There is a tendency for those who get out to focus on things that others never think about.  Its unhealthy on both sides, civilians need to pull their head out of their backsides and pay attention to the world, and prepare for when things go wrong, so they can deal with them, and not be simply statistics and burdens when things inevitably do go wrong.  Veterans need to let go.

 

Let go the need to matter.  The bulk of humanity really exist quite happily without a higher purpose, without a goal worth dedicating their lives to, without anything worth sacrificing themselves for beyond their family. Mostly your family’s needs are best met by NOT sacrificing yourself, but proper self care.

 

When you have stared into the Abyss, and found inside yourself the power to stand on the precipice between life and death, to play your skill, your strength and your willpower against death itself, it is really hard to take seriously someone telling you that you needed to fill out a report that you would not be able to meet your deadline, rather than actually meeting the deadline.

 

What we learned to be, what we learned to do, is the problem now.  The rest of the world actually likes this swamp of unfocused existence.  Likes to simply be, rather than existing to achieve goals at any cost.  The really scary part is that they suck at survival, for which they need us, but they are actually better at living that we have become, as we let a lot of things go as unessential that turn out to be important to being whole and healthy in the long term.

 

We have stared into the Abyss, we do not fear it, and it has learned to fear us.  Now we look at the great milling herd in the office and look not to cut through them in the most efficient manner possible, but to mingle with them, sharing your thoughts and theirs, laughing with them, bitching with them, allowing yourself to look for how to use your skills and ability to help them better make actual progress, while keeping inside the structure they have built for group effort. When you are used to running with wolves, understanding you are now part of a team of plow ox is really important if you want to get that field plowed, the seed sown, and your family fed.  Slow, steady, plodding progress gets the field plowed, the team safely and sustainably through the day.  It is not that demanding, and you can literally do it forever.

wolf-and-ox

 

It is hard when you have burned so very bright, to bank your fires to candle light, but that bright blaze burns out and falls to darkness in minutes, and your family needs your light through the long night ahead.

 

 

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Current events, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Courage and Honour

Once again there have been shootings in the United States that threaten to set the nation on fire.

Black-Lives-Matter-button We have black legal gun owners shot down by police in what is utterly indefensible circumstances.  Clearly there is a problem that exists beyond a single or a few isolated individuals, but one that requires a real good internal cultural change in many police departments.  This is a real problem, and requires real world, not politician sound byte, level solutions, and long term leadership on the police professional level to see through.

Blue Lives Matter  We have good and worthy officers gunned down at their post for the crime of being white officers doing their job.  This is the way to begin a war, not the way to get social change.  This is murder, this is not even revenge because these particular officers are good and worthy servants of the public, attacked simply for their uniform and race.  It is not revenge, it is not justice, it is a deliberate attempt to provoke further shedding of black blood by police.  This action is not just a single murder spree it is an attempt to make every cop more likely to react to armed blacks as a real and credible threat to life, to actually create more shootings.  This is Black Lives Matters ultimate goal?  To increase the number of people shot by police by teaching the police they are absolutely right to treat any armed black person as a real and imminent threat?  Wilful promotion of hatred, its a crime up here, but I guess its OK when BLM does it.

Courage and Honour

 

I am a white Canadian veteran, looking at the insanity that is gripping the nation that is the closest to my own both geographically, and in our hearts.  I have seen two shootings of black legal gun owners, apparently shot for being armed and black.  I have seen five police officers gunned down while doing their duty to protect protesters and the public by doing riot duty, which I have done, and I really can’t say I met anyone who enjoyed.

 

I say this to you now.   Courage and Honour.

 

I say this first as a blessing to those who put on the uniform every goddamned day, and go out and do a job that largely consists of seeing people on the single worst day of their lives, but this is every hour of your day, every day.  I salute your courage, and acknowledge that you have acted, and will continue to act with honour although few will bother acknowledging this.

 

I say this to those who see a systematic abuse of their people by those who are charged with their defense.  Yes, I say to those who are holding the police responsible where they are not following their own training or use of force procedures when dealing with the black community.  You are acting with honour to demand the rights of all citizens be observed, have the courage to do what is right, not what is easiest.

 

Now the gloves come off, and I will tell you what no one has apparently wanted to hear for quite some time.  USA is pretty close to not meaning United States of America, it is pretty close to meaning Unbelievably Syria Again.

That is right.  You are working on turning your nation into a third world bombed out shithole like Syria, and you are doing it because as a nation you are systematically choosing to embrace your guns rather than growing the fuck up and dealing with each other.

To the police, I know some fine men and women in uniform, serving with honour all the citizens of their land.  You know me, and I know you.  Now let us speak the truth here.  I served in uniform and well do I love my service, but I know my brothers and sisters, warts and all.  Let us speak the truth here, not every person wearing the badge and uniform you do is brave enough to deserve it.

 

To walk as a keeper of the peace is to walk a line.  You carry the tools and training of a killer, for you wield the power to take life in the name of the state. Your symbol is not the sword though, it is the shield.  You are the shield of the state, the defender of the folk.  You walk bearing armour and arms for a reason.  The shield of the state is expected and required to be brave, and sometimes to risk the blows of others rather than use deadly force where it might not be justified.

 

I have read our own troops being criticized for taking fire in the streets as we rolled through in convoy and not responding.  Choosing to continue through and dismount, working our way back through town seeking the shooters, unwilling to exchange fire without a clear target and viable sightline.  Sometimes you take fire without returning it because your job is not to shoot up the cities but to engage hostiles and eliminate them as threats.  It requires more courage to hold your fire until you have a clear understanding of the situation, and a confirmed target, than it does to simply pump rounds downrange and let the gods sort out the breakage.

 

To the police I charge you  twice.  First have courage, courage to be sure that you are under attack before you reach for force, as once violence is chosen by one side, all other options are gone from both.  Secondly, remember your honour.  The honour of your badge and your uniform, of your service and your state is not just in your hands but those of your brothers and sisters.  If they are not living up to those standards it is you, and not the media, you and not the legal system, who I expect to defend the honour of your service by CLEANING YOUR OWN DAMNED HOUSE.  You know there are those treating their badge like a hunting license, using their position to harass those they look down on, and who look at every single citizen who is not wearing the same uniform as enemy.

That is not good enough.  If that is the way you look at those you are sworn to protect, take off the badge before you foul it further.  You got lost somewhere, and until you remember why you took up service, you serve best by walking away.

 

To the “Black Lives Matter” protesters.  You are responsible for so much violence, so much hatred, you are not part of the problem, oh no you are a brand new problem all together.  You want to see what a civil war looks like?  Go enlist and serve in one.  Go see what third world shitholes look like when people who couldn’t decide their issues with words turned to guns and shattered the lives of millions of normal people just trying to get by.

 

Have the courage to own your own shit.  You are angry?  Suck it up buttercup.  That is not a license for violence.  You are determined to start a war.  You don’t have a clue what the high cost of your rhetoric is, but I do.  Soldiers clean up the messes of speech makers, protesters, slogan chanting morons whose feelings are more important than the consequences of their actions.   Have the courage to look in the mirror and own what you see, understand that when you provoke a confrontation, all the blood that follows is on your hands.

 

Honour: Remember yours.  To those who cry out for justice, have the honour to stick to that demand and I will join your call.  Choose instead to seek vengeance, and you have become a threat,  a danger whose true cost will be far higher than you can guess, and far more terrible than you will ever bother to accept.

 

The United States used to have a motto, E  Pluribus Unum.  From many come one.  In the 1950’s, you decided to change the words on your bills to “In God We Trust”.  Well the god that your founding fathers fought so hard to keep out of the government of the Union they forged is not about tolerance, accommodation, or reason.  It is no coincidence that since that time the “us/them” thinking has been the constant of the United States.

 

Canada is racially and culturally diverse, we frequently don’t get along.  Our police are not shining examples of virtue all the time either, but we are not one match away from civil war.  You people are.

 

Black lives matter, but the movement is a mad dog running in the street biting everyone it sees.  I see Black Lives Matters protesters blocking the Gay Pride Parade demanding the police be barred from having floats.  Wow, such an amazing grasp of intolerance, you really have identified the best way to make it clear that what you mean is “ONLY BLACK LIVES MATTER”.

 

Blue lives mater.  The police have a job I do not envy, as do Fire and EMT who likewise are doing their best to serve and protect all communities, but with a growing awareness that some calls may not be people in distress, but invitations to ambush.    Blue lives matter, they really do, but part of why they matter is that good cops work damned hard to make sure that their brothers and sisters in uniform do the job for which they took the oath, serving and protecting the public, not preying on it.

 

I look to the south, to my friends and neighbors.  I say to you; courage and honour.  You were once a great people, a land made great by the sons and daughters of every corner of the world united in a vision of freedom and opportunity.  You are still that people, though you know it not.  E pluribus unum.  From many peoples come one.  Or follow the Syrian path, the Yugoslav path, the Lebanese path, and turn your nation into a warzone, where the hand of every man is raised against the other, and children fear to walk the streets without armed escort.
Choose wisely, but understand, it takes two sides to make a compromise, and only one to wage a war.

US_and_Canadian_flag

 

 

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Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Uncategorized

Pills, crutches, and bullshit

Stigma

I am a judgemental bastard. I don’t judge you by race, by religion, sexual orientation or gender, but I do judge each and every one of you, and have never pretended otherwise.

 

I judge you by your deeds, and how they match what I see as your duty. Lots of you do really poorly by this standard. Some of you do really well. What makes me laugh long, hard and long, is the number of surprises on both lists.

 

Success is the measure by which a shallow society judges. Our society is deeply flawed, and many of its attributes are counter to its survival requirements. I am not a society, and reserve the right to judge otherwise.

 

Those who think yourselves success because you have won, or have achieved what you want. Some of you I will hail, and some of you I wouldn’t waste good quality spit upon. Sadly, too few will recognize which side of that line they fall on.

 
Those of you who think yourselves failures because of what you have lost are not looking into any eyes but the haunted ones staring back at you from the mirror, look at me if you dare.  Some of you are failures because you have turned your back upon what is important.  If you dare to recognize this you are not yet lost.  Some of you think are failures because you gave your all where you duty was owed and it was not enough.

 
Look at me.  Look me right in the eyes and here this.  That is loss, not failure.  You stood where your duty was, held true to those who were owed your loyalty and gave all the strength that you had.  Wyrd weaves as it will, and it is yours only to determine if and how you will fight, not if you will win.  The gods themselves march towards their doom out of duty and loyalty.  If they cannot command victory, why should we, their bannermen and women, be expected to do better.

 

I have seen the shaming that comes from those coping.  I have seen people mocked for using medication to allow them to function.  Those who battle with mental illness or chronic medical conditions are often faced with a choice; to take up the tools and weapons that they have access to and perhaps succeed, or to stay “pure” and fail.  Those who depend on you, your spouses, your children, they are owed your every effort, not your every “pure” effort, not your every wholesome and all natural effort, they are owed your best.

I do not take drugs for my chronic pain.  This is made necessary by the fact that those drugs given to a nearly three hundred pounds of veteran and former competitive marital artist with a whole lot of really, really ugly memories and triggers kept under rigid controls, make me a real and imminent threat to all of those under my protection, should I take those medications.  I do not stay off the drugs because I am better than other people, I stay off the drugs because I can’t afford to take them.  DO NOT READ THIS AS A STATEMENT OF POSITION ON THE USE OF MEDICATION.  To say I can’t take pain or spasm medication without serious risk is a description of one of my physical limitations, like the fact that I must kneel while others would squat, if I wish to bear weight or exert force.  It is just a limitation I must work around, and not a policy statement.

 

Men and women come into this world innocent.  That is not a moral position, that is moral ignorance.  It is cute in babies, and unforgivable in adults.  There are a whole lot of people out there doing battle every single day just to get up, deal with the physical and mental problems that life has burdened them with.  When you pass each other on the stairs, and you smile at each other, do you see their burdens?  I do.  I can’t stop seeing them.  A true picture of that person you are mocking for taking drugs to keep their condition to a point where they can control it and function at a high enough level to know both economic and relationship success would have the two of you together running on the track, you in running gear, them with a full infantry pack upon their back.  Yes, you run the same track, but no, you cannot possibly compare your journey around that track as being the same, or mock them if they need heavy boots to support their ankles, where you do not.  You have no idea the cost the burden brings with it, and no idea what is required to make it possible to get up under that load and dare to achieve.

 

  1. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,

The deaf in battle is bold;

The blind man is better | than one that is burned,

No good can come of a corpse.

 

The Havamal recognizes this truth, as our ancestors recognized this truth.  Life isn’t fair, and it isn’t over if you still live.  I will not say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, because it is sophistry.  Scars do not make us strong, but to bear a scar, you must have survived.  Those who bear many scars have survived much, and that took strength.  It didn’t actually provide you any strength, it cost much, and may have taught you how much you have to give, but understand each and every scar, the visible and the invisible cost.
We look at PTSD and our veterans and we want to make either saints or demons out of them.  They bear a huge weight in scars, have survived much that you either couldn’t’ understand, or bear similar scars enough not to have to ask, because you already know.  Each of those scars had a cost, some were less than the power gained from the lessons recovery taught them, some were more.  None were free.  Few indeed are visible, but all are there.  The fact is the bulk of the veterans are passing you on the stairs with a smile, because they are used to marching with the rucksack on their back, and simply accept its weight as normal.  On days when their strength is lower, they may not be able to rise with it either, but the odds are they will never let you see that in their face.

 

We reward the lucky people, and shame the ones whose burden was more than they can bear.  As a society, we do lots of stupid shit.  I try to do better than that.  Sometimes I even succeed.

 

All of you who struggle every day to get out of bed and face the day, and your demons, because you have things to do, and people depending on you, that is the definition of winner, the process by which worth is build in your community, and found within yourself.  You are worthy, and I see it.

People speak of medication, or therapy, or faith as crutches.  I hate to tell you this, I can’t count the number of times I needed crutches because my legs were unable to support me, and it was use a crutch or don’t walk.  If you are walking with a crutch when you don’t need it, then you are being less than you could be.  If you are walking with a crutch, because you need it, then all praise to you for bearing the burden and choosing to get up and walk anyway.

Crutch

I don’t care what colour you are, what religion if any that you practice.  I don’t care whether you love boys or girls, or both together.  I can and will judge you on how you bear your burdens, on how you honour your obligations.  I may not even like you personally, but if I see you bearing your burdens, whether you bitch about it or not, and meeting your obligations with honour, I will respect you for it.

I will be a judgmental bastard until they burn my corpse, and possibly after.  I judge you by what I see from you, and so many of you who judge yourselves have no idea how much you shine in my eyes, and how the things that you think make you ugly are instead to me beacons of your courage and your worth.

Odin Picture

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Aesir, Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Not Healing, Remodeling. Heathen Community in a therapeutic context

Not Healing, Remodeling.  Heathen Community in a therapeutic context

 

The Heathen community can be a really powerful tool for healing emotional and physical wounds, but it is not a tool that we always take advantage of, or wield particularly well.

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I am not a healer.  I have to be very clear about this.  My training is not, and never has been directed towards healing.  I have a background that equips me to speak with a fair degree of knowledge on the ways to disable, and destroy the human body, and its core functions.  I am equally skilled and practiced in the arts of preventing traumatic and medical issues from causing disability and destruction of the human body and its core functions.    This collection of skills together is about life saving and stabilizing, it is not about healing.  That is beyond my scope, and skill.
Healing actually mostly happens right away.  Minor injuries actually heal in a pretty much one step process, the damage being cleaned up and healthy tissue replacing the damaged tissue.  Anything beyond minor wounds works differently.  Clot, cleanup, heal, and remodel is the path that we follow.

I don’t do healing, I remodel like a son of a bitch though.  I am one, so it sort of goes with the territory.

 

For physical and mental injuries, shock gets you through the bad five minutes, and if people like me do their job, doesn’t kill you within the hour.  Now comes the clot and clean, the inflammatory process, the awareness of pain and violation.  At this point, if you have resources that your own training, philosophy, or practice have given you, they can make a real difference in your ability to deal with this bit.

 

Healing; is overrated.  Healing lays down scar tissue to fill in the blanks you lost good tissue in.  Then it stops.  Healing is done now, you have filler in the holes in you, and what comes next will hurt, and will largely be up to you.

Regeneration

Remodeling. Is the long painful process of tearing your scar tissue apart a piece at a time, to heal that particular bit properly, with actual functional tissue to replace the scar tissue.  Think of it like tear the muscle once by accident; then tear it a bit at a time over the next six months to get back to as close to 100% as you can get.  Or avoid the pain, and stay weak and at risk of reinjury.

 

In the mental and emotional world, this process works……..the exact same, sadly.  We have these things called coping mechanisms; they are the outer signs of our scar tissues.  Like scar tissues, they have got to go, or we will be crippled.  Like scar tissue, there is no easy way, no quick way to get rid of it.  You tear yourself a little bit at a time, and strive to heal that particular bit correctly.

The closest activity I have training in is minesweeping.  Oh yes, nothing like being taught field expedient mine sweeping to let you know that if you really ever need to use this, you are in deep trouble.  We leave it to the Combat Engineers in the physical world, but in the mental healing work we have to do, the mines are in our head, and there, we must do the work ourselves, but not necessarily unassisted.

 

The triggers: Coping mechanisms usually form up around our triggers to keep us from blowing ourselves up.  This is good, but really not the place to stop, it is the place to start, and it is harder and less successful alone.  You need to talk, a lot.

Heathen Talk

 

To talk you need to feel safe.  I don’t mean feel safe in the “No one is judging you, agape love for all” peace love and joy that frankly makes you even more reluctant to share the deeply ugly festering internal wounds, and all the filth that builds up in the capsules we form around them.  You need to feel the other kind of safe.  The kind of safe that you feel when you can look a person dead in the eye and tell the most shameful truth coldly, watch them react, and then literally fly off the handle with all the fear and rage you have been bottling up inside.  The kind of safe you can feel when you are able to let go your own controls on yourself because the people around can literally be trusted with the secrets you are pouring out, and to make sure, by force if necessary, that you do yourself and others no harm when you are letting out what is bottled in.

 

This is where your actual flesh and blood heathen community makes a difference.  At sumbel or just over a drink together, this is where you can be naked in the spiritual and mental sense without shame.  This is where you can submit your wound to the community, and let them collectively set their hands and minds to helping you lay down new pathways, healthier pathways around the damage.  To begin to rebuild the areas that were too broken to function, too dangerous to leave festering.
Like a minefield, this is something that takes a long time to clear.  You move one button at a time, one trigger at a time, and it isn’t perfect.  Some you learn to leave alone because they are not worth messing with, or will not resolve with the tools you have….yet.  Keep checking, that one changes sometimes without notice.

 

You can do this on your own, but when you need your own strength most is when your wounds, and all the self hating corruption that fills them weakens you most.  Your community can take some of that burden from you, and can give back to you some of the strength you have offered them freely in other times.

 

In their eyes you can see how they have weighed your deeds, your choices, your experience, and in a very heathen sense, your worth.  A strong community can be an agent that will allow you to speak those things you dare not admit to yourself, can show you how to put down the coping mechanisms that are slowly destroying you (but without which you wouldn’t have survived).

 

I am not a healer, but I am good at remodeling.  If you didn’t die when you were broken, then you have within you the capacity to win back yourself.  Not the who you were, but the who you can be when you have grown strong again in the broken places.

 

When we die, and face our ancestors, we will be naked save for the scars of your struggles.  By those scars, and the way you bear them, you will be known.  Our gods, from Odin to Tyr, bear their scars openly, for it is the scars both inside and out that are the testament to our will, to our love and commitment to those we struggle on for.  When you stand naked but for your scars before your community, or before your ancestors, you can do so with the knowledge that you will see their pride in you reflecting back the glory they see, not the broken thing you think yourself.

 

This is healing done right, this is Heathen remodeling, and it can work.  What it requires is a community that accepts that the world holds more things in it than you want to accept.  The fact that someone else has experienced horror in something you have only known safety in is not a threat to you, nor does it change your experience.  Someone who has the knowledge of dangers you have not thought about is not ruining your life, they are helping you to keep your world bright by opening your eyes to threats you would be happier to avoid.  Take that as a gift, and offer one in return.

 

Fear and shame are the enemies of healing, and the killers of men and women.  Fear of knowledge is unworthy of a heathen.  The first line of the Hamaval tells us to look long and hard before we enter a room, for dangers may lurk anywhere.  Bad things happen, know this, accept this, enjoy life more for the fact that you are paying attention to make sure as few bad things as possible happen to you and yours.

 

Fear of letting ugly realities intrude into our comfort zone causes people to lash out with shame at those who would answer our questions honestly, and share as we asked, of themselves.  This is unworthy, and cowardly.  This is victim blaming, victim shaming, and abuse motivated by cowardice.

A community that is strong grows strong because the people in it fear nothing so long as they are together.  A community that is truly strong chooses to stand with its members in their trials not out of obligation, but out of desire.

The magic of sumbel and of Heathen community in general is that those who dare to share their struggles with you share as well the glory of their triumph.  To be allowed to share such struggles is an honour, and to be able to share your strength with one who has spent all they own of their own is to know that you have given a gift without equal.  A gift for a gift is our way, and that feather weight you lend to the scales may mean little to you, but you may well find out what it meant to another when you have need, and they are there to give back what THEY feel your gift was worth.

 

Valknut-Symbol-triquetra

Remodelling is about tearing up scars, a bit at a time, and replacing them with something stronger, something healthier.  Remodelling is about shedding coping mechanisms because you have dealt with the thing that was going to kill you right now, and no longer need the coping mechanism that was just hurting you badly instead.  Remodelling hurts, but leaves us stronger.

Nothing is free.  A gift for a gift is our way.  If you value your community, if you value the people in it, you will learn how to be there for them, how to aid them in their struggles, and in turn, how to prepare yourself for your own.  We grow stronger together, and those who can face their community with perfect trust in imperfect people will know they have found one true place to stand, one true thing that will not fail them.
We can get this right, we can be the single most powerful tool for helping each other grow hale, whole and together; or we can lash out to defend our comfort zone.  Each community will judge for itself where their honour is to be found.
John T Mainer

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Aesir, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

World Denial, and PTSD

I have to preface this with the note that I wrote this some years ago, but some have recently unearthed the doccument from the Troth files and been moved by it.  Where there are a dozen wounded who have seen it who needed to see it, there are probably a hundred more, so I will put it out for those who need to hear it again.

Veterans with PTSD

In the discussion on the Troth email list this past while I have been listening to my fellow veterans, as well as victims of rape and traumatic assault talking about the twin elements of PTSD, what happened to cause the PTSD, and what can be done to build coping mechanisms for it.  Our society is built on lies.  The communal delusions of the west in the twenty first century are in my estimation these:

 

We are a civilized folk.  Horse pucky.  You are not being robbed, raped, embezzled, by the Soviet Red Army.  We are most likely to be preyed upon by those in our community who have the ability to use violence to satisfy momentary urges and no real motivation not to use it.

 

War is about fighting for truth, justice, and the American/Canadian/British/Australian way.  Dog droppings.  We kill people over there,  in the hopes that we can keep the flames of war from crossing our own frontiers .   We fight foreign wars for reasons of internal politics, protection of our economic hegemony,  to preserve an imperfect balance of power that is assumed to be better than the maelstrom of escalation and violence that would follow its breaking down, and to remind people that attacking us is a good way of getting dead.

 

We heard much reference to the saga’s being so graphically violent, celebrating the horror of the battle and its aftermath.  Indeed, the romanticism of our ancestors differs from the romanticism of the Chivalric, Renaissance and later ages romanticism of battle in the fact that it is not concerned with making the battle seem clean,  or for noble purpose.   Battle was described as ugly, the humour was rough and sometimes cruel, and the purposes of the struggle were often politics, economics, avarice, ego.  This did not detract from the glory that comes from facing your challenges, whether in knowing success or failure in their strategic aims, what was celebrated was the courage in facing the challenge, and the strength, cunning, and spirit brought to bear.

 

To a survivor of rape or abuse, the delusion of safety that was the communal understanding of the society that they were raised in has been shattered.  Their mind is now conflicted between gnostic and epistemological knowledge.  They know from their entire cultural upbringing that we are more evolved than the rabid murdering, raping, lawless thieving ancients that gave us so much rich history of semi random carnage.  This is their epistemological knowledge, the shared learned beleifs of our society.  They know from bitter personal experience that we, as a species, are capable of the basest acts of cruelty, at any time, for the most transient and venal of reasons.  Where once the face of every stranger was a fellow citizen, now it must ever be a potential enemy.

 

From its first line the Hamaval teaches us to be wary always.  Enemies can be anywhere.  Bad things are always possible, and people who have reason to harm you, or who desire what is yours, are indeed out there.  This is not reason to cease living, or going out, or building relationships, but it must ALWAYS be near the top of our ancestors thoughts, when looking at the world.

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A person who has had he delusion of safety, of the innate goodness of humanity, stripped away from them will have a hard time talking with those who are still comfortable in their innocence.  Like a seal swimming happily in a pod of orca; unaware that some of their playmates regard them as no more than a twinkie that they may or may not feel like consuming at the moment, but are definitely considering.

 

Society holds the delusion, a modern invention based on trappings of law enforcement, and the public face of justice.  The fact is one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lives, 80% of their abusers were known and trusted by them.  When those you trust can turn out to be the ones you should have feared, how hard is it to trust again?

 

My father’s generation was raised on the myths of the Second World War, the battle of good versus evil, the coming home to parades.  My grandfather got back from the war too late to get the truth of it into his sons, so they went to war in Africa believing a myth that was turning most of the returning veterans of WWII into borderline alcoholics, and giving us the kind of marriages that made Valium nicknamed “mother’s little helper”.  My father and uncles got to watch African tribal warfare, see baby’s heads dashed on building walls by laughing men of other tribes, while European Mercenaries paid by funds from Canadian Churches did the brunt of the fighting against the UN forces.   Coming back from that, they did not receive their parades, but shouts of “baby killer”.   The veil was off their eyes, but no one who had not “been there and done that” could they talk to about it.

 

When I was in Canada preached the myth of the Peacekeeper.  We had some of the best killers on the planet, but we told the public that we were glorified crossing guards.  When the politician believed their lies, a lot of ours got left in some bad places with no support.  A generation of soldiers who grew up listening to the Jewish Holocaust stories and the UN declaration that such would never happen again got to be on the ground when the UN forced its troop commanders to stop using the word Genocide, and use Ethnic cleansing.  Never Again was happening in front of our troops, and rather than honouring the UN Charter that all the Superpowers and leading nations of the earth swore to, and stopping genocide from happening again, we switched what we were calling it, to allow us to not go to war, as long as all (insert name of ethnicity) everywhere weren’t being killed, its not genocide.  Wiping out all of them in one region or one country is not genocide.   Under current UN rules, Hitler would walk.  Soldiers that trained their whole lives to stop this from happening, were being handcuffed by their political leaders from stopping it, and gagged by their officers from talking about it.  PTSD rates among over used troops who can’t talk to anyone about what they have been through were brutal.

 

Those who followed me into service got away from Peacekeeping and back into war fighting in Afghanistan (and Iraq for US/UK).  While the need to watch passively was taken away, the level of violence and pressure was far higher than we needed.  The myth of the good clean war was being sold hard at home, and ladies and gentlemen, that myth has killed as many of my fellow soldiers as IED.  It isn’t.  It can’t be.  It will never be.  Selling that myth makes those who support the troops being impossible to talk to because they have no idea what happened, and those who don’t support the troops being impossible to talk to because they have no idea why its necessary or how often the “terrible tragedies” are the cost of bringing about almost unnoticeable Improvements, or stopping rapid escalation of bad.

 

Again, the problem that the returning soldiers have is that the myths of our society are commonly accepted and hold the force of holy writ.  Those who administer and populate the mental health systems do not share the reality of those people who have been down in the mud and the blood, the stress and the fear.  The people defining normal have an understanding of reality that is, honestly, flawed.

 

Our ancestors did have mental illness, and did have clear cases of PTSD.  They had a society that understood a version of reality that was close enough to their warriors, to the women and children who had been on the receiving end of brigandage or the sack.  Their poetry was as often created by professional warriors as poets, celebrating the reality they shared.  The customs of the bragaful, the use of mead and wine to break down the barriers, of establishing a sacred space in which men could speak freely and without shame of their struggles, their losses.  Egil Skallgrimson showed the depth of how a warrior, a mercenary and noted berserkyr could openly mourn his lost son without fear of losing his perceived status or manhood.  The reality of our ancestors accepted that terrible things happened to the ones we love, and it is bloody hard to cope.  Coping mechanisms are often best described as going just insane enough to not come apart completely.  Egil is a wonderful case in point.  His dealing with the death of his brother, and then later his son shows how acting out was accepted, as long as once you were done dealing with your losses you got your act together and took care of your duty.  There was no need to pretend everything was fine.  It was alright to come apart at the seams, to not be OK with what happened.  There was no shame in bleeding from wounds without or within.  There was healing to be done in sharing the pain, and loss.  Life goes on.  Hard, unforgiving, cruel, tiresome, seductive, amusing, inspiring, exciting, glorious life-goes on.

 

Our society accepts the delusion that fair exists, that we have a right for bad things to not happen.  It teaches that there is always a better way than violence.  It teaches that if something bad happened to you there must be a reason (you got raped, where were you, what were you wearing?).  If somebody dies in a war zone it is a crime and somebody must be punished.  Our society teaches that when something terrible happens to you, and you realize the myths are false, that now something is wrong with you.  If you are not OK with having a stillborn baby because your doctor says you “can just have another one”, then clearly you are the one with a problem.  If you got raped at a transit stop and are now afraid to take a class that will force you to take transit home after dark, you need to “get over it”.  If you are a soldier who did what you needed to do when you were over there, and now can’t go to bed alone, unless you have a bottle or pills to keep the things behind your eyes at bay when the  night comes,  then you need to “suck it up buttercup”.  We eat our wounded to cover the lies of our society.

 

Our own faith is a world accepting one.  We are taught to accept the world for what it is.  Our code of ethics is not a perfect world system, but a functional roadmap for dealing with people the way they are.  Violence, greed, malice are all parts of humanity.  Those with the power to abuse will often be as free to do so as they think they can get away with (observe the “good people” in mob situations and see how many people have been straining at the leash to indulge some pretty dark appetites).  There is the good with the bad, but we are taught to as much how to protect against the latter as we are to build upon the former.   A person not coping well with stuff that was too much to handle was accepted by the ancients.  Madness was holy, in its own way.  Coping strategies based around sharing your trauma in a way that was not victims talking about what broke them, but strong men and women boasting, sharing, ranting, and raving about what they survived.

Female EOD

 

Why do so many of our gods bear wounds openly?  The Battle Glad gave his eye, while the lord of honour gave his hand.  Our gods bear their wounds with pride, their loss not hidden in shame but boasted.   There is always a price to be paid for life.  A terrible price, for the greatest possible prize.  To pretend that life should be free of price, is to cheapen its worth.  Bad things happen, mistakes happen, bad people are out there, and even some good people are going to be set against you.  Accept this.  You will encounter things that are beyond your power to deal with, unless the gods have blessed you greater than any I have yet met.  Wyrd weaves as it will, and it is enough that you muddle through and seek to do your duty regardless of the price paid.  Remember that, take pride in that.  Grow strong in the broken places and boast of your scars, both the outer ones and the dark secret ones that society tries hard to make you ashamed of.  Pain overcome is honour won.  Claim your victory, and pox on the shame society would use to protect its pathetic tissue of make-believe “normal”.

John T Mainer

Hometown Battlefield

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Aesir, Asatru, Faith, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

They Walk With Us

They Walk With Us (but we stopped paying attention)

They Walk WIth Us (front cover)

I was asked why I was driven to write my book, They Walk With Us. The answer honestly has been riding me like a hag for years now; we need to relearn to pay attention to our world. I am not kidding. We walk almost oblivious through this world of ours, focused so hard on our phones, on our jobs, on our opinions of this or that about the world that we are so close to blind that the fact that our society functions at all becomes something of a minor miracle. I can’t fix that, and won’t pretend to.

I am a Heathen, an Asatruar, or one who is true to the Aesir and Vanir, the gods of my northern European ancestors. To be a Heathen is to be world accepting. That means a few things, some of them so simple you miss how profound they really are. To be world accepting means that you accept the world as it is, not as it ought to be. To be world accepting means that you accept that the holy, the horrific, the magical and the mundane, the living the dead, and the yet to be are all experienced here. This world. Here.

Are their other worlds? Yes, but you aren’t on them, so pay attention while you walk this one, you are missing almost all the important bits, and you don’t have that much life to get it right, so work harder at it. Is there life after death? Who can say, there is definitely death after life, and as I alluded to, it is approaching quickly, so again, hadn’t we best get on with actually living this one in this one chance we are given?

The touch of the gods, the spirits of the land and waters, the embrace of our ancestors, the magic and beauty of the world, and the very real power of the bonds we forge between each other are felt here, in this life, in this world, and we are choosing to miss most of them.

Occam’s Razor tells us the simplest explanation for a thing is most likely the correct one. It is a wonderful tool, except when you actually start paying attention it can make it hard to accept your preconceptions of a world without wonder, and force you to consider the fact that there may indeed be more hands than the ones you see shaping the events of our daily lives. There have been too many times where lives have hung in the balance, where the course of lives turned on a series of low probability events strung together in a way that strains the possibility of coincidence alone a fair bit past the point of credibility. Can I swear I have seen the hands of the gods at work. No. Can I swear that I haven’t? No.

When you read the lore, when our gods are depicted as walking among us they did so unseen until they left, with their presence more inferred than explicit. They did not speak from burning bushes or toss thunderbolts about when they walked with us, they offered choices where none were present, and added a little immediacy to the consequences of those choices, for good or for ill. They strained probability in ways that would give contortionists back trouble, but they seldom broke it, and left us to either learn from it or not, again as we chose. Little miracles, second chances, no more than that.

When I studied the martial arts, and when I studied biology, a simple truth seeped into my awareness; to use vast amounts of power to accomplish a thing is easy, but to use such elegance that little, or even no external force at all can accomplish the same thing is awe inspiring. To use a thunderbolt to accomplish something is more impressive to those who have not called fire from a battery of 155’s. To accomplish the same end with almost no power is awe inspiring. The hand of the gods in this world is implied in the elegance of the improbable not the flash and thunder of the impossible, which in fact usually equates to the untrue.
When I was driving to visit my father in Hope in winter time, I was in an area beside an ice covered lake that the road passed a few hundred feet above. As we passed a bare stretch, a car coming the other way lost control and spun across the ice and my path. I avoided him with the skill of too many years driving on ice, and watched him hit the only tree in 150 meters of road and escape a plunge of hundreds of feet through the ice and the cold of the grave. He was badly hurt, sustaining injuries that could easily kill him, except that I was an Industrial First Aid attendant with a full kit, who just happened to be passing the second he needed help, when we hadn’t seen another car in half an hour. I stabilized him and called an ambulance in an area where I have cell signal perhaps one time in twenty. I was an hour from the nearest Ambulance station, but I got one inside of twenty minutes in an ice covered spot in the middle of nowhere.

This fellow had been on his way to church and couldn’t believe his bad luck. I laughed at him, and explained to him how hard the gods worked to keep him alive. I pointed out the series of low probability events that were required to all happen at once to end with his being packed off in an ambulance with nothing more than a concussion that would be gone in a few days. It was not impossible, but the required chain of lucky breaks combined were extremely unlikely. Little miracles. The hands of the gods or just random chance? I can’t say, but I am more thoughtful for asking the question, and more appreciative either way.

I lost my job when I had a serious back injury that will leave me with permanent chronic pain and disability. Yes I know it ought to be illegal, but the joy of the law, rather than morality, is you can honour the letter of it by violating its spirit like a naked nun in a biker bar. I had lost everything, as the combination of pain, spasm, drugs, and months without sleep had driven even my family from me (for really good reasons, honestly). So, like any good Heathen, I have duty still, I will do my best to meet it somehow.

Miracles are something I don’t believe in, yet I also don’t believe in failure of duty, so given no options but miracles to fulfill my duty I set about striving for one. I got more than one, and in ways that stretched probability beyond the breaking point.

I sought a way off the drugs, to master the pain and spasm. I used the path of ordeal as hinted at in the lore of our people, not because I expected it to work, but more because if you are stuck hanging on the metaphorical tree for nine days and nights (or ninety as it were), you may as well poke about in the branches looking for runes, since you found the spear and noose so easily. I got something. If I could explain what, I could retire a millionaire, but I will settle for being drug free and with pain and spasm that are actively suppressed while I am conscious to a level I am not even aware of them. A little old lady working a grindstone in a vision handed me a bundle of something wrapped in rags, and when I opened this bundle the ability was in my head. Not asking anyone else to buy this, but that was my experience and it worked. I admit being pretty much functionally crazy at the time, so I am willing to allow that this didn’t actually happen, except of course that I have these abilities that I can’t account for and really can’t see how I could have spontaneously figured them out without noticing. Occam’s Razor is still hacking madly at the walls of this one.

I went back to the Army with the Rangers, because if you could do the job, they could care less about anything else. Oh I could do the job. Pain and I are old friends, especially in the field, and given a rifle and rough country I am as close to paradise as you can get with your clothes on. Looking for work civvy side there was a job that paid shite wages as a temp position on the opposite side of the city where honestly it would eat a good portion of the wage just to get there and back. Yet, I wanted it. I did the initial interview, and got the temp ID tag to go to the meeting. I forgot to turn it in on the exit. Although I have never done this before, I put the tag on my altar and prayed for that job, even though it was on the low end, temporary, and on the high cost end of the spectrum of jobs I was seeking. I got called back for a second interview. I had no money gas in the tank, and no money in the account, actually I had one dollar and nine cents in the account. I was delivering papers as a side job and the cheques were late, again, and I didn’t have the money even to gas up to do my papers, let alone cross the city to do the interview. I was snarling in rage as I pulled up to the pump and set it for one dollar nine cents pre authorized fill on a forty liter tank. I was lost in my thoughts as the gas pumped, waiting for it to stop, and it didn’t. I filled my tank on 41 cents. The price on the pump read 1.09 cents per liter. I got the interview, got the job, worked four months on a two month temp position as the bottom man on the totem pole, got cycled through each of the positions in turn, and then they fired the manager, and offered me his job as a permanent position for quite a bit more money. This actually happened as I have set it out. I do not claim this is the work of the gods, but I tell you, it saved my family, and it was a miracle (or series thereof). This series of events has deeply enriched both my family, and my spiritual practice in such a way that I have a hard time not seeing them as inexorably bound together.

I have passed through life being present to save or change lives by random chance a hundred times, because honestly it’s a big planet and stuff is going on all the time and my skills are fairly broad and hardly unique so you have a decent chance of having someone useful nearby. That part I hardly ever give thought to. Sometimes the world presents you with not only a chain of circumstances, but words of power and truth that open your eyes to choices you could never have seen on your own with such absolute elegance of effort that you are hard pressed to see how anything other than deliberate design my a master craftsman could be at play.

The big religions of today talk about big miracles happening long enough ago and far enough away that there can be no question of proving them yea or nay. Our ancestral tradition had the gods moving in much more subtle manners, their miracles those of opening possibilities, of bringing us to the opportunities and leaving it to our own hands and will to see if we will seize the opportunity, if we will take a deeper look at the choice before us and choose worth over expedience, and know the difference in success between following right strategy or simply tactical expedience. Our ancestors walked through the world as the most practical people in history, but with the open wonder and joy that came from knowing the gods and ancestors walked with us. I think I have come to the same understanding. It is my hope that through my stories, I can share with people some of the wonder I see in the world around me, and open your eyes to the shadow of the hands of the gods, wights and ancestors in the world around us.

I am convinced that this world is infinitely more wondrous than we give it credit for, that our gods and ancestors, and the spirits that share this world with us are in fact there for all of us to see and know, only we have got out of the habit of looking. Perhaps together we can start to remedy that.

John T Mainer

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