Sunday, January 25, 2009

To Feel An Iron Pot

To feel an iron pot, held in the cold, running water as the sponge scrubs the last meal's remains.

Now is there anything more to being a heathen than this?

Is there anything more to worship than this?

Let's focus on the Need rune. It is a rune our ancestors knew well.

They were rich in poems, wealthy in metre and good breeding reared from common sense the likes of which we can't hardly imagine.

But materially, the world could be a hard place No Wall-Mart. No 7-11's.

You made it with your own hands, you traded part of your herd for it, or you put on your war-gear and seized it for booty with risky hands gambling against death.

An iron pot was something.

And here you are, they're just a dime-a-dozen.

Can you trade eyes with your ancestors? That might be a righteous gift they could give, the gift of their eyes. Prophecy was called "spying". Could it have something to do with borrowing the eyes of owls, ravens, deer, -- ancestors?

Begin with nothing. "Why are there beings, why is there anything at all, rather than nothing?" Heidegger asked.

Look at what you hold in your hands. How would you generate this, from nothing?

What value does that iron pot have to you now?

How is it that there are good things in the world? This is a heathen question. The Christians may ponder how evil came into the world. We ponder, how is it that good came into the world? For we know it can be scarce, and rare, and precious.

The Gods are the ultimate sources of good. Let the philologists deny the etymological connection between these two words to their heart's content ; the heart knows that "good" and "God" are connected. With their establishing acts, the Gods laid the groundwork for opportunity, for real possibility and potential, and ploughed the barrenness to allow the first seeds to grow. Those were pioneer days. The land was rocky and rough, days before the dwarves delved down.

Orlog-less we were once. No original nature of our own. No warm and willful blood, no imagination, no breath to take in the scent of ancient stardust. Those three gifts the Gods gave us, and if they never gave another gift, if they had withdrawn from the world never to return, those gifts alone are almost enough. Those seeds brought to fruition mean success for the human race. Good breeding is nothing but the full development of these fruits : spirit, soul, and animal vitality.

From these come arts. The animal vitality must be there. The soulful imagination or odr must grasp things passionately and hold them in its hands to develop skills. Ever were arts hands-on, for from soulful-mind in-the-world came manvitt, common sense, the first best skill, but from there, as the hands and the mind of the crafter came to hold and to shape the various things, holding them in hand and in mind, skill began to find itself, Þá nam ek frævask ok fróðr vera ok vaxa ok vel hafask, orð mér af orði orðs leitaði, verk mér af verki verks leitaði (Havamal 141), "Then I reached fertilization, and became wise, and grew, and got some good, as word by word I examined words, and deed by deed I tried out deeds."
Nam ek frævask, "I took possession of the fertilizing power within me." Vel hafask, "I held well." Things began to hold, to take hold, to really become manageable. One word led to another, one deed led to another. Things began to build. One thing led to another, and before you know it --- there was a verk, a masterpiece. Odin shares with us here what happens as we begin to fertilize the spirit, soul, and animal vitality within us.

Invite your poetically-rich, materially-poor ancestors in from time to time. Let them comment on the things you use, the things you hold. Feel them there with you as you wash the pot from the last meal you ate, and let yourself feel everything that went into that pot coming into your hands. Feel the iron ore in the earth, or falling from the heavens as a meteorite. Feel the miners delving up the ore from the earth, smelting it in the forges. Who were those folks? What were they feeling? What got imbedded in the work? How did the pot end up in your hands?

You might not be able to factually document all these steps, but your imagination, your soulful mind can go there. Feel what it took to get the river, or the aquifer, into your faucet. For the moment, let the water be cold. Warm water feels better, but feel the river as it is, and let it flow through. And the sponge? Where did the sponge come from?

There were whole lineages of intertwined folks who allowed you to come to this moment, who ensured you had the wealth to be able to have an iron pot, a faucet, and a sponge. People worked hard, they sacrificed, they endured hardships not of their creation. Where did they get the strength to do that? How did they in their hearts call upon the Gods to further develop the temperance and rugged creativity they needed to get through?

Yes, your ancestors are involved in this too. And the Gods as well. For without the Gods' bold precedents, what footpaths would there be for gumption? The Gods give gumption. They dared ; so might we.

It's all there at your sink. It's the only altar you really need, if you know how to use it, ef þú nemr, ef þú getr, "if you take it, if you understand it".

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Here are proclamations All-Father may have whispered into the ears of surviving kings as the world wailed (vála) for Baldr:

This world has seen a lot of chaos, and it's probably not over yet. There will be generations who will know little but mayhem and dearth, and who will forget the great potential for planetary blossomings. Things can go bad, and you might have to protect yourself. It could get pretty hairy. Do what you gotta do, but never get pulled down in the mayhem or find yourself aligned with the forces that want to tear down the world, because there is still good in the world. Cherish it. Help it. Spread it if you can. Protect it against the mayhem, and if it's possible, put the mayhem in check. Many are not going to remember the good, will lose all good judgement, will give themselves over to cruelty or hopelessness. Try to keep a level mind, and exercise common sense. Don't lose your heart. You might get scared from time to time. You might need to bunker down somewhere where it is safe. You might get drawn into melee to protect that which is valuable to you. But don't lose your heart in the process.

That's going to be hard at times, because the forces that long to tear down the world will goad you into battle again and again, and you must choose wisely where you shall engage, and where you shall not. Do not be drawn foolishly into battles that waste your strength and erode your resources. Know that in battles, even righteous ones, hearts often go astray, and in the trauma, greed and unwholesome revenge beyond proportion often insinuate themselves within. You will have to be very careful with the trauma the forces of mayhem create, and hold your strength with heart in a world where not only has the best been forgotten and passed over as impossible, but even the good which still pulsates here and there within the world shall be denied and despaired.

It will not feel like it, but a restoration will come in time. For many ages, dark and foul deeds will be working out their own unwyrd, with faltering tripping out like ripples upon a murky pond. You will wonder where the divine is. It will be difficult to see. In these times especially you must be sure to come together in wholesome places to recommune iwth all that is good, so your folk will remember. For the Foulness makes forget. But we have not forgotten, and never shall we. Long beyond your lifetime, a restoration will come, and in this time of misfortune, your deeds are not without worth. Every success in keeping some good alive, every struggle waged to keep love true, every stand made to preserve some of the original good that has come on down through the long line of ancestors will prove worthy. For even in the midst of winters there may be some small islands of thaw, and there green may grow. Cherish these islands.

Something great is being prepared. Let that remain a mystery for now, but allow yourself to draw full strength from it. Your good deeds lead up to that time, seen or no. Keep the good in the world. The foul will run its course in time, and then there shall be an unveiling of hope as the world has never seen. For now, cherish what hope remains. Keep it locked tight in your heart coffers, and share it out only to those who shall not abuse it. For while hope remains, the darkness is not so dark. But there will be trials that test your soul. Know this, and be cheered by the prospect of meeting the challenge well. It will, at times, be the best you can do. Yet that best is very good indeed!

Hew to right, your rights are precious gifts. Much will go wrong ; do not allow that to erode right. Let even the grim keep the good cherished tight within them, for cynicism that undoes all right will do no good ; do not let that flourish in your midst. Bring cheer to men when you can. Over the long course of time, the stains of unwyrd shall wash themselves out in the tide, but be certain you do not add to that poison stream. Let it wash out, and keep yourself safe, huddling and holding together in the cold and the dark, keeping the embers of hope and faith quickened.

No, I don't claim this as direct inspiration from Odin. It's merely a direct inspiration from óðr, my poetic imagination.

Thoughts on Unwyrd

I came up with a very pithy way of defining that which is unwyrd.

Unwyrd is like broken archetypes that when evoked trip things up again and again. They were laid down broken, and require healing.

In the Anglo-Germanic system of law, precedents are extremely important. They set the tone for much that will follow. A bad precedent is a bad presage. It is a fractured attractor that attracts to it elements broken in a similar manner. Thus the need to get it right. We aren't called upon to be perfect, but still there is a sense that if you're going to do it at all, do it right, because ill deeds live far beyond their enactment.

You don't have to get everything perfect all at once. You begin with one good little step and keep layering over it more good little steps. But if a step goes wrong, it's important to correct that before it gets laid down.

Luck really depends upon the wholesomeness or brokenness of deeds laid down. If we can achieve a deed, it is our gift to the world. What do we wish that legacy to be?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Energy Reservoir Surrounding Us In the Weave of Luck

Those who are very healthy are surrounded by a cushion-layer of megin or spiritual strength that gives them a strong sense of independence, and can even foster illusions of being entirely self-sufficient.

But the realities of being a human being are vastly different than being "entirely self-sufficient". In fact, our strengths and energy-reserves rest upon a vast reservoir of luck that extends out into the world around us and which reflects the health and strength of those things with which we interact on an everyday basis.

This may not become palpably clear to someone until they experience some kind of health crisis in which the ordinary buffer of megin is taken down to a minimal level, and they begin having to draw upon strength wherever they can, from that which surrounds them. At that point, things which once sounded superstitious or silly begin to take on a new resonance and sense.

An old rocking chair made by one's great uncle can suddenly take on a whole new set of meanings, and sitting in it, feeling the age of the wood, the skill and craft that went into its making, the embodied care and emotions put into the carpentry, can fill one up with a strength that is palpable. The solidity of an old oak or ash tree with its strong roots in the earth is taken in by the mind, eaten, drunk, and digested, in a way that can be felt by the whole body.

It is not for nothing that our ancestors gave things names, to denote their character, formed both in their making and in their long history. Over time, old things became a part of the family, and influenced how one felt about the world.

It's incredible how much weave there is in the fabric of one's hale or health. So many things come together and combine to create the strengths that we often take for granted. Feeding one's luck is a matter of coming out of this naivete and failure to experience gratitude, and really coming to appreciate all of the strands in the weave of that great fabric that makes our lives rich, and assessing what things in our lives and surroundings really feed that strength, and which things weaken, and adding to the former while getting rid of the latter. Things that weaken are not necessarily all bad. It just may be that they belong in another place. Every thing has its home where it belongs, and when it is far from its home, it does no good, either to itself or others.

The ability to appreciate in human beings is not an idle power. It is, rather, an active gift from the gods that allows a person to draw upon strength in the environment around him or her. I suspect that this ability is not entirely cognitive in nature (although it may be mediated cognitively), but actually facilitates energetic communion with the object of appreciation, to the depths one is capable of appreciating. If one is communing with an object of goodness, its rich character can enhance, color, and augment one's own energetic field.

Gronbech, that rabbi of the Teutonic tradition, speaks of people "contracting alliances", "mingling their minds", and "adopting the soul" of the animals, trees, crafts,and people about them. There is a mixing of soul that can occur where the strengths of both souls are blended together.

Again, all of this may seem nonsensical when taken on an abstract, metaphysical level, but it is at the deep phenomenological roots of our real experience that all of this articulates from, and which speaks a real element of our experience that we moderns rarely notice, except, again, as I have said, if we are ill, in which we grasp onto anything to gain strength : the softness of the pillow we are holding, the smoothness of the sheets, the grainy hardness of a wooden piece of furniture.

Judy Grahn suggests that it is through the power of the things around us that we have been enabled to become conscious human beings. She talks about "metaforms", which are deeper and more experiential than mere "metaphors". Rather, the things themselves, out there in the world around us, enfold all kinds of different relationships and conceptions that lend themselves to human conception once grasped by the mind. In a sense, the concepts are out there in the world, not just in our minds. True, we transform them, as a bee transforms the flower's nectar into honey, as the ant ferments the chewed leaves into an edible mash, but the prime materia, as the alchemists would say, is not a lifeless or dumb lump, but a fermentation of proto-intelligence, as it were.

It's best to stay with the nose close to the ground of experience here so that the words do not take off into metaphysical flights, but it is very important for Western culture to regain its roots so we can talk about such things without people looking at us like we've just come back from some new age convention. Rather, it should come off our lips and into their ears like the song of the farmer in the field, sickle in hand harvesting the grain, the smell of the earth and dry grass wafting up into the nostrils, the sound of the barley waving in the wind. Gritty. Deep. Real.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"People wish to be settled ; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them. " --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Religion is often a force that gets people to accept what is, to acquiesce to some premodelled form or vision of reality that calms them down and pacifies them. And we can spell that word in two ways : it pacifies them as it passifies them, turning them into passive people who have lost their dynamic power of activity in the world.

Heathenism could become just another sad religion along these lines if it forgot what wod is, and forgot that it is centered entirely around responsiveness to wod. Wod is riotous, dynamic turbulence, it is the stirring-up that makes us discontent with current models of reality, and drives us on to quest for something freer, stronger, more manly, more noble. It is a force to update social reality to come more in tune with wyrd, with actual existential shifts that have occurred, and thus to stay dynamic and in motion. It is a kind of creative turmoil that refuses to allow us to acquiesce to a passive notion of fitting into reality, because it views wyrd in the active sense, as something participative and co-creative and which hangs and hinges upon the doing or undoing of our deeds.

Now I'm not trying to exaggerate our self-importance here. The doing of any deed whatsoever is tremendously difficult. To have any kind of impact whatsoever on inertia is dauntingly problematic. But the very issue at hand here is that when most people talk about "reality" or "pragmatism", what they actually mean is obeisance to inertia, a complete submission to external forces, without any assertion of internal forces whatsoever. A deed requires that we listen intently and strongly to the internal forces welling up within us, to ween and glean what wisdom they would bring us, and then not only to "assert" the force and power of those forces, but to give far more devotion to them by backing them up, taking the time to strategize them in relation to external forces, and to campaign and organize on their behalf, in the audacious belief that a strong, unreckoned internal force within one in fact does not and will not stand alone, but secretly finds resonance, but buried and sad, in the hearts of many. Can a deed be a deed if it is not audacious in some way?

In his deservedly renowned essay "Self-Reliance", Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost ... A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."

This articulates with striking clarity the wod-urthanc of the Teutonic people when it comes to deeds. We are not to remain passive in the face of inertia, and certainly not in the face of tradition. Tradition amongst Teutons is a taunting, a goading, a placing of a chip on the shoulder and saying, "I dare you!" See if you can be as audacious as the ancestors, test your level of defiance to the inertia the giants have implanted this world with through their obsconding of the treasures that were meant to bless it. Recognize the giants as the gods of this world and stand up tall and proud and say, "I refuse to believe in you," and then know in your heart of hearts that you have stronger Gods, more powerful Gods, whose every wish and will is to give you the will to fight and defy the powers that lock down potential.

This is crucial. We'll never be able to understand the difference between an imperial soldier and a tribal raider/warrior if we don't get this. We'll continue to float within the orbit of the Roman Mars who nurtures his patriarchs at the teats of the Wolf. The "will to fight" here is not just rage-on-tap that obediently directs itself towards whatever target pre-selected leaders have chosen. The "will to fight" here is equivalent to "defiance". The ancient tribal society was a delicate, dynamic balance of this strong, independent spirit, and leaders were not those who quelled this spirit, but who were able to ride it, lift it up, and from there, having inspired confidence, firmly direct it. A leader does not violate the will of his or her followers. Caesar says of the Germani, ...quae res ...libertate vitae ... a pueris nullo officio aut disciplina adsuefacti nihil omnino contra voluntatem faciant... "Because of the great freedom of their way of life ... from childhood they become accustomed to no obligation of discipline, doing nothing at all against their will." A leader, rather, celebrates their defiance, participating in it, and leads its charge where it will. Obedience emasculates the will to fight, and turns the raider into a soldier who "despite all his rage is still just a rat in a cage". A good description of the Roman soldier, who always follows orders, who is boot-camp trained to obey no matter how nonsensical it seems. A Teutonic military leader had to inspire confidence. What he was saying had to make sense. And when he was "on the jazz" surfing the unorthodox tactics of a Hannibal, it was his record of audacious luck, loyalty to the crew, and ability to succeed which inspired confidence.

Do you understand that there are deeds within you that are crying out to be done? That if you don't do, it is as if the entire world stands on a hinge, and wyrd will go this way or that? As Galadriel says to Frodo, "This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will." We stand in dread as Frodo is shown a vision of horror in Galadriel's well of wyrd, but do we realize the fortune of this vision? Do we realize that its intent is not to cause dread or foreboding, but to underline how crucial it is to do those deeds which only we can do? "It is what will come to pass if you should fail." Most of us are never gifted with the opportunity to see what will die and wilt in the world if we do not bring our own wyrd to the foremost.

Bring your own wyrd to the foremost. This is what the ancestors cry out. Do you hear the tears of those ancestors who failed? One does not fight just for the sake of fighting, and certainly not just to fulfill some petty macho bombastics. What is the reason for fighting? It is to defy all that would suppress and squash the bringing of our own wyrd to the foremost. The world will be impoverished without it.

Wod is like the rider's crop that drives the horse onward. It is a spur that reminds the beast drugged by the world's inertia to bring your own wyrd to the foremost.

Emerson speaks of this as genius. We forget that for the Romans, genius was akin to what we call the fylgia, that norn assigned to us as a kind of guardian angel of luck, a norn who speaks for us at that final court of doom. What will she say of someone who refuses entirely to hear her speak? What will she say of someone who has suppressed her voice? What will she say of someone who allowed the ill, confusion, and inertia of the world to drown out those deeds which needed to be done? The Helgi lays give us a vision of the fylgia interacting with the hero and confronting his inertia. "Síð muntu Helgi hringum ráða, ríkr rógapaldr, né Röðulsvöllum, - örn gól árla, - ef þú æ þegir, þótt þú harðan hug hilmir, gjaldir." (Helgi Hiorvardsson 7) "Late will you, Helgi, powerful warrior, rule rings, nor the Fields of the Sun, if thou remain silent forever, even though you show a hard mind, prince, for the eagle shrieks early." Ef þú æ þegir, "if thou forever remain silent". Precisely what we're talking about here. The fylgia, the genius, goads us on to speak, to do those deeds we were fated, and to win the rewards that go with them. Sigrlinn, Helgi's fylgia, goads, advises, and lays out the rewards to be won. But you've got to yield up more than a hard mind if you want them ; you've got to speak up. "The eagle shrieks early" : what are you waiting for?

Raoul Vaneigem puts it well in The Revolution of Everyday Life : "Animals adapt to their environment. Human beings transform theirs. ...Where man fails to change his surroundings, he too is in the situation of an animal....Man rejects adaptation and attempts to transform the world. Every time he slips up in his desire to be demiurge, he suffers the agony of having to adapt, the wrenching pain when he feels reduced to the animal's passivity." Such passivity is the complete opposite of the dynamic spirit carried onward by wod, for his or her deeds contrast mightily with what Vaneigem calls "the scandal of actions drained of their substance to the profit of an illusion which the failure of its enchantment renders more odious every day. Actions weak and pale..."

Wod partakes of the nomadic, pastoral spirit. ""In the eyes of nomads," writes Khazanov, "an agriculturalist is a slave because he is tied to one place and is enslaved by his own arduous labour." Their deepest value is freedom, which is underwritten by movement ... As for sedentists, they have been peculiarly obsessed with getting nomads to stop moving ... Nomads are elusive, and it is precisely this quality of not being pin-down-able that, says I.M. Lewis, many nomads like to flaunt. Lewis notes that they "regularly make a defiant parade of all those attributes which they know are most calculated to annoy their sedentary neighbours and rulers."" (Morris Berman, Wandering God: A Study in Nomadic Spirituality, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2000, p. 165.)

"In contrast, nomads maintain a haughty bearing, flaunt their martial tendencies, prefer the freedom their mobility affords and feel that milk is a preferred and necessary beverage" (Lawrence A. Kuznar, Robert Sedlmeyer, "Collective Violence in Darfur : An Agent-Based Model of Pastoral Nomad / Sedentary Peasant Interaction", in Mathematical Anthropology and Cultural Theory: An International Journal, Volume 1, No. 4, October 2005.)

Lest anyone think this theory of pastoralism and semi-nomadism has nothing to do with the Germani, let us remember what Caesar says of them : Vita omnis in venationibus atque in studiis rei militaris consistit ... Agriculturae non student, maiorque pars eorum victus in lacte, caseo, carne consistit. ... ne adsidua consuetudine capti studium belli gerendi agricultura commutent...Neque multum frumento, sed maximam partem lacte atque pecore vivunt multumque sunt in venationibus... "Their whole life consists of hunting and the enthusiastic pursuit of warlike affairs. ... They have no zeal for agriculture, and the larger part of their nourishment/diet consists of milk, cheese, and meat ... nor would they exchange their incessant habit of occupying themselves with the spirited pursuit of war to carry on husbandry...Nor is there much grain, but for the most part milk and living herds and the common people engage in hunting..."

Berman discusses in his book that pastoralism was actually a reaction or revolt to sedentary agriculture from within, with people lifting up and out from the confinement of being totally settled. "As Dan Aronson puts it, "Nomads have been settling and desettling themselves repeatedly throughout history." ... we know that nomads become peasants and peasants become nomads..." (Ibid, p. 162.) Let us take this term "desettling", and giving it a creative, evolutionary twist, define it as wod.

Flaunting, freedom, defiance ... it is amazing how often we encounter these words when the anthropologist tries to describe the wod of the pastoralist. "Defiance" comes from Latin disfidare, to renounce one's faith. To renounce one's faith to what? To everything which weighs down the noble, independent, dynamic spirit of life. With one's defiance, one declares one's troth to the Aesir. Wear it, and flaunt it proudly, in defiance of all the giant powers who would lock life down in a dead and passive, settled inertia. Heill the Aesir! Heill the Master of Wod!

all translations copyright 2009 by Siegfried Goodfellow

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There's Not A Thing You Can Say That's True

There's not a thing you can say that's true. Words do not touch. Poetry is the closest we get. But it's a good gift, a gift that allows the silence to almost speak, perhaps long enough for us to pay attention.

Everything with words is proximity. Can you get close? Ok, good.

So everything said is a half-truth, it speaks one aspect of an unfathomably complex, yet distinctly specific, reality.

I'm walking outside. The moon is still full, or near so. Full enough to seem full. I'm walking. The path meets my tread, my bounce is in the rhythm of the street itself. Like enchantment the row of trees calls me down the street, and I walk, entranced. Coyote. I see coyote. Coyote watches me. Who is this black leather-clad walker in the night? Silence. The coyote pitter-patters across the street. It speaks no words. This is its time. It knows the silence, it breathes it in like a prayer, like an invisible ocean of subtle nectar. The substance of the night in its quiet is its mead, and its pitter-patter feet drink up to the full. Who am I, this wanderer in the night? Never mind, good friend, O coyote, tonight Odin is using these legs to walk through the world. It's the Old Man. It just so happens to be my body. I get the gift of him seeing through my eyes, feeling him looking through me.

Yes, of course I'm speaking poetically. There's not a thing you can say that's true. You cannot say Odin exists. You cannot say Odin does not exist. You especially cannot say he does not exist. Well, of course you can say it. But it's not true. It's not true, either, that he does exist. But that is how he exists. Do you see?

If it seems crazy, keep in mind the root of his name means "mad". He's insane. It's his special kind of sanity. It's his way. He cannot be confined within small minds, small concepts, small categories. The more he is denied, the more he exists. The Christians never got that about him. They thought two thousand years of denial --- no. Deny him to your heart's delight. When you deny him, he is even closer.

He's not there at all, you say. Well, yes, that is true, but it isn't. He isn't there, but he is. This is one place where such patent nonsense makes absolute, perfect sense.

I'm walking. The road calls me. I just let the road move my feet. I do none of it. The road and my feet are having a conversation. I just let it be. The wind is blowing.

I'm walking down the street. It is dark. Dark on this street, the trees shading out the mystic moonlight. A skunk walks but five or seven feet form me, in its rippling-rolling skunk shuffle, sniffing the ground, minding its business, never giving me a mind at all. Am I just part of the landscape? Ah, the Old Man is walking through. It just happens to be my body. So I think, at least.

I hop up onto a big stony platform beneath a tree. I suppose it's someone's fancy suburban mailbox. Flatstones piled and cemented high. I'm sitting, letting my feet dangle, the heels of my shoes hitting the stones in a a drum-like rhythm, contemplating the madness of my life, the unbelievable magic and craze of my history. I feel and hear the tree behind and above me. It's like I'm hanging from the tree. It's always happening, that moment. It can be very good.

I'm returning home, this long journey, full of feeling, full of magic, full of tears. It's been an emotional night. It's been a fantastic journey. Reality has shamanically been in the air. Everything has been crystal clear. Each palm frond has been so palm frond, absolutely itself, fabulous. I'm happy and proud to say none of this comes from any drug state. It's being real and authentic, allowing to be emotional, tuning in and letting be.

I'm walking back. I see my car. Naturally, I walk up onto the trunk, onto the roof, down onto the hood. Naturally. I look up at the stars, the canopy of the heavens, the moon. How fabulous that there are protectors. There are protectors who allow all this to be. It may seem they have little concern at times for what goes on down here. Oh, the pettiness, to be sure they have little to do with it. It's your life. Do with it as you will. It's your opportunity. Squabble, squawk, find your passion, do your thing. But they care inasmuch as they keep this world whole, so you may have those experiences. Thank the Gods there are protectors. The protectors are concerned with protecting, concerns far larger than any human could appreciate, jsut to keep this wondrous world alive, to keep it open to possibility, even with all the ill that has entered in. There is still good here to be had. And that good, however little it might be in some times and some places, is still worth preserving. That little good makes the whole effort worthwhile, even with how short it comes of how good it could be, and how good it will be.

There are protectors, and then there are nourishers. Nurturers. Rhythm-binders and rockers. Within the world and about it, keeping it juicy, keeping love's heart pulsing and bounding and beating. Keeping life-force moving and fruitful. The Aesir and Vanir.

There. That's all I wanted to say. I felt it, out on the roof of my car. And it's taken me this many sentences just to say it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Joe the Plummer" Proves Himself to Be A Total Friggin' Idiot

From here : :

"I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it."

Right, I mean, let's just get behind any war, any military action whatsoever, and never ask any questions, because whatever the military or our leaders decide, must be ok.

And heaven forbid that we should question atrocities. We should just shut up and do what we're supposed to do. And our job is to say, "Rah, rah, rah, go troops!" no matter what the troops are doing, no matter who the troops are killing, and how dare we question anything at all? We should be showing up to the movie theatres and get "real excited and happy" for our brave troops.

Does anyone buy this militaristic, patriotic bullshit?

I don't buy the whole "support our troops" bullshit. I support troops involved in an idiotic war by protesting the war, end of story. I don't want brave heroes' lives sacrificed for bullshit, greed, idiotic imperial geopolitical goals, and other cynical nonsense.

We shouldn't have journalists in war-zones? How are people in a democracy to make informed decisions about whether there should be war in the first place? Oh wait, I forgot -- while the Constitution states that the people's representatives have to be the ones to declare war, there hasn't been a constitutionally-declared war since WWII.

Oh yah, wasn't that the war where we were just supposed to show up to our local movie theatre and engage in a little militarist orgy, a kind of 6-minute hate where we rah-rah whoever appears on our screen in a military uniform?

Can you say "1984"?

Can someone educate this idiot in the need for enlightenment aand wisdom? Those who support war unconditionally are, I'm afraid, on the side of the jotnar. They are part of the problem, part of the forces that tear this world down and make it a horrible place.

I don't support the jotnar.

I don't support people who support the jotnar.

We need good, critical journalists out there bringing us the facts. Your little war-propaganda be damned.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sex as Symbolic Worship and Tapping the Wellsprings of Life

Why do we enjoy sex so much? It's not just because of the physical pleasure. It's because sex becomes a living, symbolic demonstration of the fecundity of the universe. It is a reaffirmation of flow, abundance, hale, and goodness in the midst of a world where things often go wrong. It is proof that there are wellsprings of good that one can tap into, no matter what else is going wrong in the world. It is a palpable physical reminder that there are still joys to be had, that some needs can be answered, that life is not a completely dry, barren landscape. We may know intellectually that life is not a dry, barren landscape, but emotionally, it is very easy to get bogged down in all the ill that happens in the world and the people around us. Sex recharges our batteries by bringing back wholeness in a tangible way, and reminding us that sometimes the solution to our ills is, literally, reaching out and touching somebody. It is a working of the soil in which love grows, and through this exploration of the earthy side of love, a reminder of how much love binds us and keeps us and heals us when we go astray.

Our first moments in life are all about the healing power of love expressed physically. We are surrounded by arms, held close to the chest, learn of literal wellsprings of milk that nourish us and make us feel good. Sex is in part a recreation of this landscape. Of course, it's not "just" physical. As infants, it's existential : everything is compressed into the sheer power of those moments, that tell us so much about how our life in this earth world are going to be. Sex re-explores the same terrain on new levels, and likewise, when it is true and real, it is happening at an existential level, one far divorced from the purely physical or from performance considerations.

Many people put up a wall between themselves and sex, so that they feel the physical pleasures, but do not allow those pleasures and sensations to penetrate them and permeate them, nor do they allow their essence and spirit to merge with the physical sensations so that one is brought into close, genuine contact with the other. I have talked to people, especially those who do a lot of bed-hopping, who seem to have less contact with another through sex than they might with a good friend just talking in person. This seems odd to me. I fail to understand the point of joining one's body that close with another and yet holding back one's full expression of self and self-meeting-other. I understand the dynamic. There is fear, and there is blockage, and yet still, the desire to reach out and tap the wellsprings of life are there, as urges if blocked rather than as positive guidance if given freedom. But the problem is that a walled experience of sexuality is so superficial that it allows for little existential satisfaction, and so it doesn't really feed what it is intended to feed.

I'm not saying that in the midst of a meaningful, loving, playful relationship there is no place for fun quickies and so forth. It's the purity and depth of the fun that are at issue here, the ability to open up to all that Freyr has to give through the experience. Truly, sex is an altar, an altar where genuine worship takes place, where one has the potential to tap down into source and touch the deep springs of the world, and through that, the cosmos, and engage in an exchange that is refreshing for everyone, and that actually effects real change, however subtle, in the world. I truly believe that. I cannot prove it scientifically. But I believe that when real contact happens in a sexual experience, and one opens oneself up to that level of expression and channeling, and the free energy tapped into is freely radiated with subtle but real exhuberance, that there is, as Wilhelm Reich suggested, a kind of "orgone" or life-energy that is shared out and can help the plants to grow and animals to regenerate themselves.

We have turned sex in our culture into a performance-sport, in which athletics and gymnastics are expected, and the all-important "goal" is "getting someone off". To me, this really cheapens what this is all about, and destroys the fun of the event when everything is geared around performance. Sex should be a sacred space of frith where you put aside the strife and performance-expectations of the world and create a truly liberated zone, where nothing matters but this moment and flowing with it.

The Gods created us, bless them, so that each of us is capable, on our own, of getting ourselves off. Wonderful! So, knowing that, in sex, one can just relax and let go, and worry not about oneself getting off, or whether the other gets off, because the point is enjoying each other, and each person can take responsibility for their own pleasure, and that frees up the space for some genuine spontaneity. The point should be enjoyment, not getting a high-five or a standing ovation for how well you did. Yes, I believe in sexual courtesy, and within moderation being willing, depending on the moment and where one is, to attend to the pleasure of the other, when the flow and rhythm of the dance make that natural.

So many people are concerned about whether they are "good" in bed. It's like they're imagining the gossip on the gossip-mill the next week, and what kind of headlines they're going to get. (If you're seriously worried about this, maybe you oughtn't to be having sex at all, because you're clearly not having it with someone you trust enough to keep the experience sacred and discreet.) Worrying about your performance-rating is the best way to sabotage the experience itself, and disallow you from "surfing the orgone waves" as it were, and truly enjoy yourself.

It's a subtle balance in this dance. Some people get so selfish, and so focused upon their own pleasure, that they ignore the mutuality of the event, and fail to make adequate contact, and end up using the other as a means to an end. Other people, on the other hand, become so concerned about the others' pleasure that, suspending their own enjoyment, they lose the mutuality as well.

Stop for a moment. Think. Retune. Feel. This is a sacred arena you are creating. And when I say "sacred", I don't mean Catholic Church high holidays sacred, I don't mean ceremonious pompousness, and I certainly don't mean that everything has to be serious. Laughter, playfulness, weeping from genuine mirth, open and vulnerable expression of spontaneous and emotive sounds, gentleness, aggressiveness ... the entire mix is sacred. This is literally an opportunity to tap into wellsprings of being and life, a holy form the Gods have given us to recharge who we are, and affirm our spirituality through our animality, in which physical and spiritual are united in one essential whole.

Now, again, sometimes it's very mundane, which is fine, and good even, because we don't expect sex to be some kind of cosmic production every time, and it would get tedious if we expected it to do so, or if we had the expectation that we had to make it so. Again, it's the freedom which one can give oneself and the other (s) which allows the experience to take on the depth that it will. And it truly is a wilderness in the sense of having a will of its own which we can dance with but never control. When we allow this wilderness to be what it will, letting go and moving with great gusto and freedom, the potential for touching this experience of wholemaking is very real indeed. And it may be "cosmic", or it may simply be, "That was exactly what I needed."

And that feeling of satisfaction, of being able to feel good again, of experiencing enoughness, is a deeply healing power in this world. Praise Frey and Freya!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Are Social Customs Divinely Sanctioned?

There is a recent trend amongst reconstructionists to deny that there was any such thing as a heathen "religion", stating instead that there were only "social customs", and thus any reconstruction must attempt to reconstruct those social customs. There is some value to this conceit, as with all models, but like any model, it leaves out much of reality.

The fact of the matter is that there were religious social customs that are differentiable from other social customs ; otherwise, there would be no need for specialized terms like blot and sumble. There would be no need for specialized architecture like a hof or horg.

Additionally, we find only a few areas where the Gods are specifically concerned with human customs. They definitely show concern for violation of ve's or sacred areas, whether those be groves, temples, or altars. This indicates an especial concern with the religious realm. They concern themselves with murders or secret killings. We know that those who did not publicly announce a killing immediately were considered to gain the Gods' wrath. They are concerned with the integrity of oaths and the damage that perjury does to social faith and credit. They are concerned that love relationships not be violated by others.

Other than that, with perhaps a few more exceptions, the Gods are not spoken of as being specifically concerned with social customs. This should be telling. It indicates that the Gods left human beings alone to evolve their own social customs. It definitely suggests that not all social customs were divinely decreed or sanctioned. Those customs not specifically regulated by the Gods through religious law were considered to be human -- and perhaps human, all-too-human -- customs.

This is important, because one of the insinuations of some of our reconstructionists has been that because there is supposedly "no such thing as religion", all social custom is equally holy, and that spirituality and the social order are absolutely inextricable, which would give some sort of divine sanction on social customs.

But this would be an absurd proposition. Not that it hasn't been made before in many societies. But I can find little such indications in the North. There people adhered to customs because they were seen as a patrimony from the ancestors. The sanction was ancestral and not divine (except in the obvious cases of religious ceremony and law, which relate to the divine, yet whose specific customs came down through the ancient patriarchs).

Besides, any diachronic anthropology has to acknowledge that customs change with the times (however subtly), and thus are always evolving.

Who would want to restore the social order of 10th century Norway or Iceland? In its entirety? Are you kidding me? Certainly there are are case studies well worth learning from, and institutions that at least in part might be worth adapting, but is anyone suggesting that we outlaw people for writing love poems about someone to whom they are not engaged? How about customs where there is no dating as we know it -- because premarital sexual activity might offend the honor of the other family -- but only a quick engagement made by the families followed by marriage? How about a situation where women don't, and most often can't, appear in court? We could go on and on and on delineating customs that we have greatly and remarkably improved upon in the modern world, and only the most fierce reactionary would want to turn back the clock to such backwardness.

The Gods don't sanction such nonsense. They know that human beings are forever in a state of flux regarding their relations and relative progress in enlightenment. Their hope is that by bringing the people in a community together regularly for peaceful feasts dedicated to the Holy Powers, that over time, relations will end up evolving into a peaceful state, inspired into enlightenment by the examples and inspiration of the Gods themselves, with whom the folk commune at these special times. The ceremonies, in other words, constitute a form of evolutionary-scale university, where poets, priests, and prophetesses over time glean the wisdom of the Gods and apply such wisdom to the quest for enlightenment.

It's always dangerous when people try to attribute divine sanction to social customs, because it deifies the customs and makes them seem holier than they really ought to be. Social customs represent habits developed amongst people as compromises between various social forces. As those social forces shift, it's absurd to think that social customs ought to stay exactly the same. Certainly we might propose a certain conservatism when it comes to social customs, taking the long perspective on human society, but this conservatism is served by ancestral sanction, not by divine sanction.

Besides, young men were encouraged to study the customs of other peoples and to learn from them, bringing back the good and leaving aside the ill. "[R]annsakat siðu manna sem þér sýnisk ; ok mun vandliga alla þá er þú ser, hvárt sem eru góðir eða illir. Mun illa siðu til viðsýndar, en alla góða siðu til nytja sjálfum þér ok öllum þeim, er af þér vilja nema." (Rudolph Keyster, Peter Munch, C.R. Unger, eds., Speculum Regale, Konungs-Skuggsjá, Konge-Speilet, Carl C. Werner & Comp., Christiania, 1848, p. 9, Chapter 4, "Father".) "Thoroughly search the customs of men in their homes as is seemly to thou ; and remember carefully all that you see, whether it be good or ill. Remember to watch against ill customs, but enjoy and use all good customs for thyself and all of those who want to learn from thee." Rettarbot, or "bettering one's sense of justice or rights" was an incorporated practice at thing. The ancestors always had to be given their due, but a strong heathen pragmatism did not ignore the existing social forces with which people had to contend. Here the words of Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, may readily amplify the spirit behind rettarbot : "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. Without such means it might even risk the loss of that part of the Constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve. The two principles of conservation and correction... regenerated the deficient part of the old Constitution through the parts which were not impaired...", going on to say later that "in what we improve we are never wholly new, in what we retain we are never wholly obsolete." (Reflections on the Revolution in France.) Burke also says that this model of conservation and correction "leaves acquisition free ; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement...". But this indicates that it is the advantages, and not the abuses, which are to be retained. Improvements are built upon previous advantages, in a continuous evolution and gradual reformation.

Konungs-Skuggsjá suggests that the King and his court of nobles (the jarls or goðar) ought to be the exemplars of good customs from which the entire nation ought to learn, just as later Edmund Burke would write to the Duke of Richmond, "You people of great families and hereditary trusts and fortunes ... if you are what you ought to be, are in my eye the great oaks that shade a country, and perpetuate your benefits from generation to generation ... if [your] conduct and example hand down [your] principles to [your] successors, then [your] houses become the public repositories and offices of record for the constitution ... not ... where it is searched for and sometimes in vain, in rotten parchments ... but in full vigour, and acting with vital energy and power, in the character of the leading men and natural interests of the country." Konungs-Skuggsjá puts it this way: "... [U]m konunga siðu ...enda er hann hæstr at nafni, ok á hann at fylgja fegrstum siðum, ok hans hirð ok allir aðrir hans þjónustumenn, at allar þjóðir taki af theim góð dœmi til ráðvendi ok góðrar meðferðar ok allra annara hœveskra siða. Enda á konungrinn hverr sem einn ... líta fyrst á sjálfs síns siðu, ok því næst allra annara þeirra, er undir hánum eru ; sœma alla þá, er góða siðu hafa, en temja þá til góðra siða með aga, er eigi megu ógnarlaust numit fá ." (Keyster, Munch, and Unger, Konungs-Skuggsjá, pp. 2- 3, Chapter 1.) "...About the customs of kings ... of course when he holds the highest title, he should follow the fairest (most beautiful, most pleasant, most morally pure and unblemished) customs, as well as his court and all of his other serving-men, that the entire country will regard them as good models and precedents of honesty, good conduct, and all other courteous and most appropriate habits. And of course every king should ... look first at his own habits, and then next all the other men who are under him, honoring all of those who have good customs, and taming with threats those few who will not take possession of good customs without threat."

Rigsthula 43 tells us that Konr, the first king, kunni rúnar, ævinrúnar ok aldrrúnar, "knew runes, runes of eternity and runes of earthly generations". He was able to contend with his father Jarl in runic knowledge and beat him (Rigsthula 45 : Hann við Ríg jarl rúnar deilði,... ok betr kunni, "He with Rig Jarl runes contested ... and understood them better"), yet Jarl himself was taught runes by Rig-Heimdall (Rigsthula 36 : Rígr gangandi, rúnar kendi, sitt gaf heiti, son kvesk eiga, "Rig coming, taught him runes, gave him his own name, declared him his own son"). So clearly at least the quintessential king had learned the secrets of eternity and earthly life from a lineage that stems from the Gods, through Heimdall. "Secrets of eternity" and "secrets of earthly life" must refer in some way at least to trúar, religion, and góða siðu, good customs. But not all of these were acquired through his father's God-taught runes, because otherwise Konr would not have been able to contend with him and win. Rather, Konr builds upon the foundation of secret knowledge that his father taught him, and gains new insights. He improves upon the ancestral knowledge through his devotion to understanding, kunni.

As the king improves his insight, being surrounded by wise men, prophetesses, and goðar, he takes on fegr siðum, "finer customs", which become dœmi, examples, models for everyone else in the kingdom. The king may also issue mála, proclamations about fegr siðum, "improved conduct". These have great prestige, because of the king's knowledge of rúnar, but they are not, strictly speaking, binding either.

Thus there were conventions for customs to be improved and renewed, and these conventions had ancestral sanction and some grounding in the religion itself, but strictly speaking, customs, differing from people to people, are human, and not divine, affairs, and like all other things, they slowly transform as wyrd turns.

all translations copyright 2009 by Siegfried Goodfellow

Mysteries of Wyrd and Orlog

Could "orlog" simply mean "original nature"?

Could "wyrd" simply mean the wild unfolding, development, and history of one's original nature in engagement and encounter with the world of experience?

Could "worth" simply mean fulfilling the promise of one's wyrd so that it is completed in a worthwhile fashion?

And could "skuld" simply be the promise inherent in the potential picked up by the orlog or original nature in its encounter with history/experience or wyrd? As the orlog gets wyrded, it picks up either new powers and luck, or experiences deficits and debts (or both). Skuld therefore means "keep your promises" (especially the promise of your being)!

"Wyrd" on the other hand means how you work out your original nature through time and experience, and how the world of experience modifies, develops, augments, or diminishes that original nature.

To some extent, nature is to nurture as orlog is to wyrd. These concepts are simple, even as they are complex and elusive. The simpler, the better, the closer we are.

Orlog means there is an inwardness to a phenomenon, an internal driving force, a wildness, a soulfulness. Think of the power that parents have to shape their children's lives, and yet, they are still shaping something with an inwardness and organic directedness and will. Good parents do not treat their children as if they were a tabula rasa to be controlled and determined, but work with the child's will to shape it in a good direction, always understanding they are working with a wild/willed being who has his or her own laws. So do the Gods shape the world, like parents, not violating the willfulness of the world, but shaping its orlog in a good way.

The Wise Say, Take Nothing For Granted

There is no "automatic" in the North. Everything is deliberate, and not to be taken for granted. Day and night are not given, though they are ; they are gifts granted each day anew through the deliberate action of kind and loving Gods who make these rhythms possible.

One never knows ; one never knows when days may cease. Because of this, thanksgiving ought never cease from our hearts. These actions of the Gods take the chaos and mold it into something doable, a great backdrop that allows lives to be lived against it. What a gift, like a parent to a child, to give such a wide and open backdrop, taken care of, dependable, there even when one forgets.

And of course we do forget. If we were true wizards, every day would be a wonder, and our nights thanksgivings. But days go by, things to be done ; like most creatures we are thick in our stupidities, viscous and sloshed in the moment and its distractions.

So wizards lead us back to rememberings, and thanksgivings, and this is religion, the periodic drawing-back to the realities of this awesome backdrop of mysterious, wondrous creation, worlds being made every day through the deliberations and acted, labored intentions of Gods and Elves. Not a thing to take for granted! Every existant an inheritance, a might-not-have-been and a might-not-be were it not for invisible powers of creation that tend on the world's mystery in awesome, rewarding bounties.

Wizards dance into this flow, living thankgiving, as witty, shrewd mystics, then call us back upon the seasons to give good tidings to the Gods.

No Past, Only Deeds that Never Die

The upsprout of all this examination of deeds is that there is no past, no past at all, but only "deeds done". Deeds are the only things that "live", and once done, they always "live". Or rather they give the power to live, which sometimes might be but the power to survive, but is always more than this.

Truly there is no past, at least not how we moderns conceive of it. There is only the great unknowable, which we know as the ever-living-present, that present drawing upon deeds done in the mystery, and drawing into it deeds that could be done but have yet to pass. The ever-living-present is a vast paradoxical conduit whereby mystery (do we not call it wyrd?) pulls itself into itself to produce the living moment.

All of the past is here right now, living in the possibilities of the moment, potentials and powers granted and endowed by great deeds, small deeds and large deeds, but deeds which have paved the possibilities.

From a frozen moment-in-time, we are substances, but from a whirling spin of time we are whirlpools, deed-opportunities winding and churning into existence itself, the ongoing momentum creating iself ever anew in this long moment. What deeds we come to pass open portals, grant gateways, make possible luck that can be called upon. A deed, that action made victory by wisdom's blessing upon brave daring, always creates luck, for those who can get and grasp it. It must be sensed and called upon.

There is no dead past. What is dead is done, a part of things ; not gone, but truly, deeply present. Present as it has never been before, participating exquisitely, turbulently, unpredictably in the ongoing, unfolding mystery.

The "past" therefore is irrelevant to us. The only thing that matters is what lives, and ancient things indeed live on most spritely, done and kneaded into things indelibly. What is the "past" to us? There are only deeds that never die.

Most of these deeds go unrecorded, unremembered. No matter. They are there, as hidden treasures, gifts of luck given by ancestors who live in the depths of this unfathomable mystery. These gifts, sensed and called upon, often sheerly through óðr, inspired imagination and poetics, offer promises of greater rewards, laying foundations, however humble, for further conquests of the hidden loot. And through this, upon and upon, deed woven knot-chain into deed like coiled serpents of the deep, the world's morning may be restored. You can sense it each dawn.

Wisdom and Deeds

What a "deed" is remains mysterious indeed. What must first be noted here is that a mental act can be a deed if it braves uncharted territory, or brings back unbeknownst treasure, while a whole series of physical acts may be nothing but meaningless toil, carried out but useless. It is wisdom, it seems, that gives value to an action.

But what is wisdom? Knowing what is appropriate in this moment. Can it be that simple? Is it not more mysterious? Yet it is the mind meeting the mysterious, for each moment unfolds its own moment, near-ungraspable, and only the most witty may know it for its size, guessing the good guess and meeting the moment's mystery. What is good for this moment, this little grasp of time in our hands? That is wisdom. Not goody-two-shoes good, mind you, but the full fruitfulness of the situation's purse --- can you ripely pluck its profit, and share it out, as needed?

If there seems something shrewd to wisdom, there is ; if there seems something strong to wisdom, there is ; if there seems something sharp to wisdom, there is. Even the wise are ever being fooled, for mystery stupefies us all, and it takes luck to gain the edge on unfolding, and guess it good and true.

The good man asks, what advantage can I bring to my folk through my living? Let a man conserve, yet take advantage. Return nature to her principal, let a man enjoy her wages a'plenty, and bless the community with the interest. You get to live a good life if you can get it, as full of pleasure and comfort as you can muster, up to your ripe and full enoughness, but a good man asks, what advantage can I bring to my folk through my living? And then dares those deeds ; though she may fail, she still persists, even turning the tables and odds to sift the greater guess, that is wisdom.

Wisdom gives an action value. With immense practicality, wisdom decides the profit of this moment, and learns us on to pluck it.

The Exotic Allure of the Strange

What was our ancestors' attitude towards the foreign and strange? We begin with the word for strange, fremede, fremde, fremþe, all of which mean strange, foreign, external, alien, strangers, those not of one's kin. What is the root of this word?

The root of this word is, as it turns out, the root of our modern word "from", which originally denoted forward motion and advancement. There are a whole series of words that spin out from this root to be found both in Old English and Icelandic that all have to do with this basic motion of moving out and advancing forward.

While fremede means "strange" or "foreign", fremedness is an "accomplishment" or "fulfillment", in other words, a moving-forward in life. Fremfull is "beneficent" and "profitable", indicating that the move-forward holds out the promise of rich rewards and returns. Frem-sum means "kind, benign, courteous", and denotes action that helps to advance you, which is a part of moving you forward in life. It is indeed kind to help advance another.

The root fram is applied to "any motion outwards or towards the unknown" and "denotes the outer point". It indicates the outer limits, exploration, being outward-bound, that which lies on the edge of the internal and external. It encompasses that which is the furthest away, a projecting or stretching forward, the farthest on one can imagine.

The Icelandic word framandi means both "a man of distinction" as well as a "stranger", to be found in the forward-motion of the root as an "advancer" or a "far-away one". To fram-faer is to "put oneself forward" and is the opposite of shyness. It has an element of initiative and boldness to it. A fram-ganga is a "going forth", and thus denotes "exploits", deeds, valour, and advancing in battle. To be frama-leysi is to be "obscure" because one hasn't advanced very far and hasn't moved forward in life. To fram-kvama is to "come forward", and thus a fram-kvaemd is "fulfillment, success, prowess".

Fremian means to "forward", "advance", or "further". The basic idea in all of these remarkably positive connotations is a going forward in life. And when you go forward, you meet those beyond the boundaries, those living on the avante-garde, the front-lines of exploration. Those encountered in the advancement, the people met on the expedition, those whom one advances towards, offer promises of enrichment and fulfillment.

The strange is that which one meets when one is moving forward in life. The stranger is one found beyond the bounds of the familiar, out there in the beyond where all advancement is to be had. Thus, "strange", fremede, when coming off the lips of our ancestors, had an excitement to it, the air and taste of exotic adventures, the allure of the seven seas upon which one might engage discovery. It turns out that for our ancestors, their word for stranger was far from xenophobic ; in fact, with a bit of caution, and nostalgia for one's earlier a'vikings, it had almost the flavor of xenophilia. Not enough to abandon one's traditions, by no means, but just enough love of the exotic to give one's life spice.

And hey, when oats are one of one's staples, a little spice is not a bad thing.

The Eerie, Cold, and Bleak

Taking on things that are eerie, cold,and bleak, foreign, like the silence in darkness as the ship's prow slices through the black breakers of night. Hard, biting things ; firm, solid things ; experiences on the borderlands between confusion and enlightenment. How much of the eerie can you swallow? Don't swallow too much, but swallow just enough. It makes you a man. Your ability to assimilate the vast and eerie, the windy and cold, makes you a man. It grows you up. The wilderness is there, only in part, to help mature a person, and put fibre, and grit, and ice into a man's bones, to lend sinew, and agility, and an ability to face the vast without getting swallowed up, which is not easy. It is never easy.

Daring the Strange

The utter foreignness of the prow cutting the cold, unknown waves, the chilling power and allure of the icy encounter with the strange, the venturing into unchartered pathways riding the edge between thrills and terror at the unknown.

To set out upon the seas took a bold mind willing to brave the foggy borderlands between home and the vast unknown. On these borderlands, the prow rode right on the crest of luck, testing fate's twists and turns, ready to profit from great risks which also sometimes brought great rewards.

If one misses this aspect of Viking culture for t e raids and rapes, one has hollowed out the picture and lost much of the essence. There is a freshness with facing life, a smartness that comes with the cold wind upon one's cheeks, a sense of an ancient lineage of adventurers that does not hold one back, but draws one forward, into the unknown, into wyrd.

There at the edge of the prow were where luck and wyrd met. There led on the ancestors. There the Gods titillated with curiosity, the undestinable drive to know, the almost erotic need to reach out and touch the mysteries of this unfathomable world, a world that can never be fully known, a world never taken for granted, where each day grasped from the claws of death was a miracle and opportunity to be grasped and got fully.

You don't know how the future is going to turn out, or which twists and turns your fate may take. That is unknown. Even prophetesses only get the turning points, and often one is led to even those in strange ways.

The world has two domains : home, and the strange. Of the strange, some or even much is bad. But much of the strange is what draws a man on, gives him purpose through his curiosity, gives him means to counter terror with awe. Where terror becomes awe and awe wonder, there spirituality might be said to be born.

All wary death with some terror, it being so very unknown, but by taking on the unknown little by little, a man increases his confidence in his ability to brave those vast, mysterious seas, and thus to take back a little for life.

A man is not a giant. There are giant forces out there in the world that can break a man. A hero is not one who foolishly or rashly runs headlong into giants, and is praised for being crushed. A hero is one who is a little brave, and through little braveries, grows braver until he or she is just a little braver than most, a little braver than the bravest, but not so brave as to be foolhardy. Through little braveries against the giant behemoths, and on the edge of the world's unknowns, little bits of life are won back for one's people and homelands.

Long ago, the giant powers stole and hoarded many of the treasures of the world, and there, buried and hidden in the deep, lie unknown riches and treasures waiting to be returned into hands of men, to hold them in trust for the Gods, to whom they belong.

Adventure, then, is the concern of little forays, humble but brave, moderate yet audacious, that pilfer back from the greedy maws and lairs of the terrible immensities the treasures of life our hearts have yearned for, knowing this owrld emptied of many of its magics, magics birthrighted yet voided, whose grasp returns vitality to the limbs, and vigor.

Wyrd calls out to a man like his or her destiny, a power in the strange, powers multiplied by the distance from home one is willing to brave. Home one carries always in the heart, but out there, in the ungoverned portions of the world, lie a man's risky rewards, never certain, but full of great potential might. The strange governs all, even those who hide from it (or perhaps especially), but rewards at times those willing to take it on in bold encounter. The strange may be encountered both within and without, and there one encoutners Gods or giants, often both, monsters and wonders, wonders that can only bespeak the touch of the divine.

A deed, perhaps, is something strange, a record lodged in existence itself of an encounter with wyrd. Not just an action per se, but an action given significance through its boldness, through its readiness to brave the edge between terror and awe. It takes deeds to live a good life, for life is full of many edges between terror and awe, edges often felt without deeds to be nothing but terror. Deeds return the awe to existence. They are therefore spiritual acts.

Deeds, then, are existential testaments, and they are, in a sense, the only worthy actions, and thus the ones remembered. Deeds refresh existence rather than weighing it down. Much is lost, and rode over, and recycled. But deeds enter into existence, percolating its depths, and revitalize life's possibilities from within, from the very depths, and lend a greening power that allows vitality and freshness to sprout up through the soil again into the lives of men. It is the strange refertilizing itself, the Great Mystery recreating itself from itself, and deeds are an opportunity and ability to enter into and merge for a few good moments with that Mystery, thereby touching eternity. Eternity is never the same ; it is perennial, and reformative and deeply dazzling from subtle inward-turnings.

This may be looking at deeds mystically, but the point is that action is the edge where spirit is encountered. Or it may be that the edge is the action where spirit is encountered. Action is that place of courage where one challenges the unknown, where one pushes the limits, and boldly goes where few have gone before. A deed takes this action, this act of love-in-daring, and enfolds victory into it. It may be the victory of the little ; it matters not, for every victory, great or small, is significant, and adds to the hoard. We're winning back the world from hidden powers.

If gods are frightening, withholding, threatening, and authoritarian powers, as some seem to assert, then the fresh audacity of the North is to see man's place as challenging and stealing back from the "gods" their terrible withholdings, and reclaiming what they have hidden. Those are no gods to respect. And in fact, those "gods" are no gods at all, but jotnar, greedy monsters of immensity who would hoard the world's treasures in difficult depths.

The wonder is, the true Gods of the North are those lucky powers who egg us on to fight the terrible "gods", not through brute, ravage force, but by developing the wit and smartness of intelligence, deed by deed, learning curve by learning curve, into evolution's rewarding bracket, a bracket where deed leads ot deed, and progress becomes conceivable and possible, rather than stalemates, defeats, and sparse returns being not only all that is experienced, but all that can be envisioned. The Gods make possible the gamble against the giants.

They pledge no guarantee. They only grant the chance to make a difference, through the development of our own powers. It is a difference we may never reach if we do not apply ourselves to the fullest and dare beyond daring to take on the terrors and spooks and force their wonder from them through sheer force of spirit, audacity of will, and might of character.

No one can define for another what their terror or awe may be, so each man charts her own course, measured by the depths of her character and what she can add to her people. No one can say where that edge will be encountered for a given person, but that they edge that edge is vital in restoring the world its chance of full powers.

The Gods are the ones who govern chance enough to give us that chance. They do not hold the reins of becoming ; they only know how to shape it. Those shapings are merciful and wise, giving us just that edge on sheer chaos and wonder, and there, they figure, on the crest of that wave, man can build a world for himself.

A kingdom is possible, for those who dare.