Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Values of the Aesir and Vanir

Aesir Values

Be assertive. Fight your fight. Stand up for yourself. Be audacious, in the service of the good. Propose peace and harmony on the basis of boldness, not weakness. Be true to your inner sense of justice, which holds the balance between retribution and clemency. Seek to see beyond the common limitations. Explore. Be strong and enjoy your strength. Keep your wits alert and ready, fresh and smart. Be true to the flock and keep it fit and upright. Keep your sense of wildness alive. Demonstrate courage where it matters. Seek honor for derring-do that serves the larger good. Demonstrate your strong and open heart through hospitality and generosity. Protect what deserves protection. Seek to learn all that you can. Give yourself over to fits of inspiration and creativity, then take the time to find the wisdom there. Learn to enjoy and ride, rather than fear, fury. Seek experience and maturity, and admire those who have attained it, learning all you can from them. Abandon not the quest, but keep your questions open. Don't hesitate to take on the predatorial and ill-minded. Give not into weakness. Set your standards high. Nothing good was ever accomplished through timidity or mediocrity. Evolve and self-overcome.

Vanir Values

Value the organic. Move at a slow, easy, rhythmical pace. Give things time to ripen. Enjoy the seasons. Keep earthy. Cultivate sensuality. Feed appetite. Work to feast. Go fishing. Enjoy the richness of life's bounty. Seek the cornucopia. Practice abundance and satiety. Be unashamed of free pleasure and proud of love's wonders. Celebrate life. See life as love. Love your kindred. Honor the nuptial bed. Foster fertility through facilitating enjoyment in all creatures. Know the soil. Honor the land. Mind the land-wights. Follow the sun and moon. Keep a sense of festive time. Remember to chew the chaw. Respect the peace of the land. Sow when it is time to sow, harvest when it is time to harvest, everything in good time. Develop a sense of rhythm. Contemplate fruit and fruiting trees. Create gardens. Nurture and nourish. Honor the Mother.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Frodi's Pageant

Gripped and thralled by the paws of monstrous behemoths,
the shining lord of harvest's fresh cut glowing
'neath summer's green boughs speeding came, as shot
from stretched yew sprung from woodland bowers
held fast to the hearts of the glowering boulder's scions
to tumble down, merry down in the downing, the towered tyrants
fall from ruthless grip of hapless men
who held in hapts of fearful fetters
burdened wept, no customs called
to join the breeze's pollen song
on air incense in sweet spring's bliss
to dance the merry Mayful round, in Priap raised,
to praise the prowess of their pleasures
whence all beasts and birds do shake
the frost of wintery rime from coats
and call back in the Floral Queen, the Maiden of Our Heart's Delight,
Sweet Lady of the loins' kiss heartened.
Unknowing, unlivened, their hearts in terror toiled, or dullness
braised in fitless funk and haze,
bogged and swamped and swallowed near-whole,
they trudged and tramped on through the chain-gang.
We were once thus thralled, a state of soul, to which some still do pittance.
Bright Ing's Land's Lord slung thunked zinged shot straight
at chunky fist Damocles-raised above the folk.
Called in, "body guards", strong fists of ruthless kings
abandoned murky desert frosts for pastures green of man's land
now no-man's landed at the terror
of cruel might enraged
and holding lasso o'er the led.
Men forget. So many times, forgetting, trampled over
plains of Balder's broadly bright,
and joy so rightly succulent, ripe,
falls abandoned, bumbling, ungleaned right.
For men remember shadows of once-great lights
and beg the shadows for forgiveness
costly paid in penance ever growing
boldly strapping sinews
debts done never. Frodi filled the folk with loathing
for such wretched grasp of shadows! Boldly! rather, free thyself,
in one fell swoop rejoicing.
Thus, the trains, a trickle first, soon
cavalcades of revels riot
glory's wanton luscious bounty
dancing through the streets unbound
and burnings books of debt and fraud,
accounts of kings were kicked down dust
and kicked the feet in mid-air clicking,
harlequins and gleemen led
the folk in May-rounds uprise moving,
monsters' miser-chains undoing.
From land to land, unbound and blossom,
Zephyr's seed sown past all boundaries,
rollicking, the rise of freedom
surged and mowed down every tyrant.
Proud King Frodi! Antlered crown,
raised the charge, and summer-led the frith-charged revels.
The call of freedom's frith will not be held back
by land nor sea, flag nor forest,
lust, life luscious, surges, roils,
froths afoamy like ocean wave
or loins' sweet, fresh, unstoppable spray.
Breathe. The festival is life,
the soil's toil but sweet foreplay.
Roll in the fields, a lovers' romp ;
the work of joining hands with Nerthus
bringing forth the bosom's fruits
is made more merry by the boasts
and toasts of banquet's heartfelt oaths of love.
Frodi calls. Hear the horn, Njord's conch-shell given,
echo deep in cavern's dark thrall trogs.
Hear the clarion call.
Robin wants the sheriff's downfall.
It's time for mirth, it's time for glee.
The monster's devil schedules damned!
Break down the fortress! Revel's clan
calls, calls, calls. Would you blaspheme Frodi?
Worldwide freedom wakes from slumber
out from toil, into empires
of peace and plenty, joy and jolly, sex
and serenades.
These are the empires worth serving. All else falls
before the call.
Hail Frodi! Blessed, antlered, shining Freyr!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mercy and Good Judgement are the Best Heathen Qualities

I consider heathens who pooh-pooh Baldur's death to be irreligious. There. I said it. Hann er beztr, ok hann lofa allir, "He is the best, and all love him." He is called Baldr inn góða, (Gylfaginning 49) "Baldur the Good". Hann er vitrastr ásanna ok fegrst talaðr ok líknsamastr, en sú náttúra fylgir honum, at enginn má haldast dómr hans, "He is the Wisest of the Aesir, and the fairest in speech, and the most merciful, and it follows from his nature that no one may hold against his judgements." (Gylfaginning 22.) Líknsamastr, "the most merciful", may also be translated as "the greatest healer", the one who gives the greatest relief and soothing.

Concerning his judgements, the father must partake of the nature of the son in greater quantity, and of his son Forseti, it is said that svæfir allar sakar, "he puts to rest all disputes", and that En allir, er til hans koma með sakarvandræði, þá fara allir sáttir á braut, "Everyone who comes to him with troublesome quarrels leaves reconciled." There's no two words about it : Baldur and his son Forseti are powerful forces of reconciliation and peace, and their judgement is considered the best. But if such high words of praise can be said for Forseti, so much the more so for Baldur, whose powers of reconciliation and mercy must have been so much higher, for when Baldur died, Forseti was still left amongst the Aesir, and yet we are told in Gylfaginning 49 that En Óðinn bar þeim mun verst þenna skaða sem hann kunni mesta skyn, hversu mikil aftaka ok missa ásunum var í fráfalli Baldrs, "But Odin bore that scathe the worst as he knew with greater understanding than any how mighty a taking-away and loss Baldur's death was to the Aesir." This was knowing that Forseti, of whose mighty powers of reconciliation we have just spoken, was still amongst the Aesir!

Odin, with all his wisdom, appreciated just how big a loss this was to the Gods, even with Forseti's awesome powers of reconciliation still amongst them. Are you going to gainsay Odin in this regard?

The importance of Baldur's líkn and vitra and dómr --- his Mercy and Wise Judgements -- could not be spoken of in greater terms or with more emphasis and hyperbole. Gylfaginning 49 says of his death that hefir þat mest óhapp verit unnit með goðum ok mönnum, "That was held to be the greatest undoing of good fortune that had ever happened amongst gods and men."

I'll put this in William Shatner speech : The. Greatest. Undoing. Of Good Fortune. That had. Ever. Happened amongst. Gods. And men. And I will repeat it one more time : The greatest undoing of good fortune that had ever happened amongst Gods and men.

That is how important the qualities that Baldur represented were. And Voluspa 62 - 64 tells us for what Odin and the Einheriar were fighting so mightily at Ragnarok, for after the battle is over, Böls man alls batna, Baldr man koma;búa þeir Höðr ok Baldr Hropts sigtoptir vel valtívar....ok burir byggja brœðra tveggja vindheim víðan. Sal sér hon standa sólu fegra gulli þakðan á Gimlé; þar skulu dyggvar dróttir byggja ok um aldrdaga ynðis njóta, "All bale shall be repaired, Baldur shall come ; Hodur and Baldur, the good victory-gods, will dwell there in Hropt's Victory-Homestead ... and the sons, the two brothers, shall dwell in the Home of Winds. A hall she sees standing, fairer than the sun, thatched in gold in Gimle ; there shall the trusty, worthy folk dwell forever and ever enjoying happiness."

That's pretty unambiguous language. The return of Baldur means the repairing of all ill. The term batna, applied to bale, means the total recovery from an illness. All ill shall be repaired, when Baldur comes back to rule in the house of his father, where the folk shall enjoy eternal happiness.

I'd call that a happy ending. And it's just too bad if some creepy folks raised on Wagnerian fantasies of doom find that too cheerful. It's the way it is. It is that end, and the values it represents, towards which everything aims. It is the raison d'etre for the einheriar and their difficult training, and the entire reason that so much is staked on the battle of Ragnarok. What did Odin whisper in Baldur's ear, that no man knows? We may be told all we need to be told when Gylfaginning 49 tells us that Óðinn lagði á bálit gullhring þann, er Draupnir heitir. Honum fylgði sú náttúra, at ina níundu hverja nótt drupu af honum átta gullhringar jafnhöfgir, "Odin laid on the pyre that gold-ring which is called Draupnir. It follows from its nature that every nine nights drop from it eight gold-rings of equal weight."

Rings were extremely important in heathendom. The ring on the altar of the temple was like the Bible that people swear upon in court these days. It received all of the holy oaths on penalty of perjury. Only the gothi of the temple was allowed to wear it into the thing, and thus was an emblem not only of the holiness of all the oaths of the folk, but a sign of the authority of the gothi. To give a ring in this context is to hand over authority of the temple. But there is more packed into this symbol of Draupnir, because it produces nine generations of rings, and it took nine generations to establish an odal estate. There couldn't be a clearer symbol of Odin handing over authority of the holy steads to Baldur. And that is precisely what Voluspa tells us happens after Ragnarok is over.

Ragnarok is fought so that the Best, the Wisest, and the Most Merciful may rule in the holy heavenly homesteads, to bring eternal happiness.

I've heard irreligious, flippant, mocking heathens say that Baldur's death was "necessary", that it was part of making "the world the way it is". Sure, it's "necessary" if you like the way the world is now, with all of its endless strife and wars and bale. If you like the evil our ancestors rightfully called "illness". If you like an axe-age, a wolf-age, an age of bale. But if you are a sane human being who has not been driven mad with resentment or blood-lust, you hate these things. Let's just say it outright. Let's just say it and drive away the folks looking for blood to sate their teeth upon, looking for schadenfreude, looking to turn holy religion into a fest for jotnar.

They don't want to hear it. It doesn't match their image of a "Viking religion". They can't stand the fact that Baldur's place in the Old Religion indicates a place for Mercy, Goodness, and Reconciliation that rivals the best values of Christianity. It seems to me these nidings, and I'll freely call them that, have rejected Christianity not because of its authoritarianism, or its rejection of the holiness of nature, or its anti-sexual attitudes --- all good reasons to hold it at arm's length --- but because they can't stand the fact that it speaks so heavily of love and mercy.

Well, I'm sorry to tell those folks in no uncertain terms that Mercy and Reconciliation were the highest values of heathendom for which all battles were fought, even the greatest of all battles. I won't waver on this, nor cater to jotnar-thralls. These facts aren't infiltrations from Christianity. They are one hundred per cent heathen. In fact, if anything, our appreciation of these facts is diminished by the fact that they presented good competition to the Christian faith and thus were under-preserved. All of the world wept for Baldur. The living, the dead, the very earth and trees and metals. Snorri, perhaps exaggerating, says that even some of the giants attended his funeral. Perhaps they were those judged who by his hand had received mercy.

We would do good to reemphasize these values and reclaim them as authentically heathen.

It's true that one of the things the story is telling us is that as the Golden Age was lost and men became more and more corrupted, these things were progressively lost, as the axe-and-wolf age progressed. It is no wonder, then, that we find so little emphasis upon this in our records, at least on the surface, and yet if you examine those records more closely, how prominently frith and grith feature.

I'm aiming at a Baldur-centered heathenism, one that knows where its true values lie. That doesn't mean that Baldur is the only God. It doesn't mean that we are to only exercise mercy, and that there is no place for the other energies the Gods represent. This isn't a monotheism of Baldur. It's simply acknowledging what was once acknowledged : that amongst the Holy Powers, Baldur is the best. And we ought to accord his spirit of Wise Judgement and Merciful Reconciliation the place in the high seat it deserves.

All translations copyright 2008 by Siegfried Goodfellow