Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Directions

This blog is going to begin to branch out and explore new directions. This was heralded by my piece, http://wyrdmeginthew.blogspot.com/2009/02/tales-all-sailors-tell.html .

The time has come to expand out from Asatru, to deviate from its course, and to explore fresh, new waters.

This will not happen suddenly, but gradually. There will still be pieces here working solidly within the Asatru tradition as it has been developed.

But you're going to see new twists and turns. I'm going to be hybridizing, bringing new things into the mix, modernizing, expanding the scope of this blog.

I want to bring more people in. And that means a search for greater relevance, for people not familiar with the tradition, and it also means, whether controversial or no, the struggle to restore the tradition to a living tradition.

Because let's face it. A lot of modern heathens are worshipping fossils, and casting mumbo-jumbo over the bones. What we need is real flesh, sinew and blood, tears and sweat, movement and emotion.

I had hoped that this blog might have become a place for more extensive dialogue. I have certainly worked hard to make this a place where one can expect thoughtful, well-researched articles, fine poetry, and provocative soap-box rants. And that will continue.

But I can no longer confine myself to the confines of the extremely ghettoized and small subculture of modern heathenism, because, frankly, it's unable and has proven unready to provide me with spiritual nourishment. It's becoming stagnant, and stale, and needs new life, and new blood.

That doesn't mean I won't be willing to dialogue with any of the old folk who have enjoyed this blog and contributed their comments. Everyone who has been here is welcome to stay. What I'm saying is that there will be the beginning of a shift in programming, a bringing heathenism into the full 21st century Obama America in which we live. We're not discluding Kucinich or Ron Paul here, nor those not on the map. It's open-board. It means we're going to see a little more Whitman, a little more Johnny Appleseed, a little more Carl Sandburg, a little more dialogue with the prophetic tradition developed by our JudaeoChristian brothers and sisters, as well as that developed by our indigenous brothers and sisters. It means there'll be hiphop in here, jazz, popular culture, mongrelizations, full engagement with the melting pot that is modern America. I'm not saying any of these will be main themes. But they'll definitely be spices and herbs in hte mix.

I'm expanding the audience. The dialogue has been too faint and seldom. We need to get away from purity and more into mixtures, precisely what so many in the ghetto are worried about. We need to dare to be soulful and go where the creolizations happen, and know our folk were always willing to mix it up.

We need to know our traditions, but be willing to challenge them, confident that in the challenge they will yield even new levels and deeper information ; indeed, that Gods such as our own welcome challenges as opportunities to explore new learnings, and that the tradition can only go so far as we dare. If we remain timid, if we stay within the lines drawn by others, we will never grow.

That doesn't mean we devalue what has come before. The pioneer plants that sprout up after a fire are there to set the soil for the next stage. The herbs that follow work the soil further, and the shrubs that follow that set the soil even richer and more potent, until eventually small trees, bigger trees, and climax trees follow, leading to old growth. We're nowhere near old growth, and thus have not yet earned the title of indigenous (nor do we subsist directly yet -- most of us -- from our land base), but we can lay the groundwork for that process to progress. This natural succession process from fire to old growth is both orderly and chaotic, as all organic things partake of that magical mixture of both. Each successive layer is different than the layers that came before, and the previous layers might see that as disloyal or disrespectful. They'll grumble as they're shaded over. They'll just have to get used to it, find their niche, and be grateful for their opportunity to have made the enrichment process possible. In the full forest every level can find its own niche, however small or large.

Perhaps if I had found more brotherhood or spiritual support here this stage would have been delayed or happened in a different way. I have offered this blog up as a gift to the heathen community, but also as a challenge, to see how many are ready to take bold, new journeys together. I have been encouraged by those who have responded, and honored by those big name heathens who have paid me the highest merits by including me on their blog lists. Those folks shall not go unhonored.

But the time has come to reach out to newer folk. Oh, we all know it's a problem. It's not as if I'm airing dirty laundry, after all ; the underwear has been hanging there filthed for all to see for some time now. The strife and narrowness that characterize so much of the heathen ghettoes is infamous. We don't need to judge. That's just a sign that the pioneer plants have filled in whatever they could of the scorched landscape and that the time has come for new growth to take advantage of that enriched soil and begin sprouting a new level. And that's a blessing, because it will mean the ending of so many good and creative souls turned away from heathenism in disgust, which has happened year after year. Sprouting a new level means welcoming in rather than chasing out the new blood.

That means breaking the rules. Every new successive layer has to break the rules of the layer below or it would simply be the layer below. Tradition is not pure continuity. It is the organic process of dialectically engaging the interplay between continuity and discontinuity. It is deliberately putting things down to pick new things up, and then discovering in the process what was invaluable in what was momentarily put down. There's no throwing away. But there is a time for some things to sit on the back burner while new developments are allowed their day to prove themselves. So long as we pick up the old things after a while, our ancestors will rest easy and feel pride in the process, our process of daring, and in this tradition, I'll assert again and again, it is through daring that we open up all the secrets. That doesn't mean being haphazard, but it does mean daring to work with what is. And the fact of the matter is that most of us are not living in isolated tribal-ethnic enclaves of the distant past. We're living in developing, hybrid-communities of great richness and complexity, in which we risk complete irrelevance if we stay tied to a mythic past so severed from our present culture by so much discontinuity. We assume what is to be made and proven. The old heathens could assume. It was everywhere about them. It is not with us. We have Star Wars and Lost and cars and many other things. I won't say that any or all of these are worthy of the ancestral pattern. But I will say that they are here, and that we must begin with where our wyrd actually is, not where we wish it was.

It won't be all at once, and will probably be gradual. And the change doesn't mean I'm not open to dialogue. I am always open to sincere, meaningful dialogue and debate offered in good faith and with good will. It is, in fact, the dearth of such dialogue that is one of the motivations to expand outwards.

So look forward to new directions.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tracie the Red said...

I could just cry. I had seriously despaired of ever finding discourse like this in ANY pagan or heathen blog. In fact, I'd believed that most pagans and heathens were actively anti-intellectual. Admittedly, I'm no giant myself, but on the other hand, one can only take so much of the Silver Ravenwolfs and Raven Grimassis and whatnot out there...

3:07 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Welcome, Tracie! I hope that these humble explorations can prove to be of some nourishment. If we begin to think of spirituality like an ecosystem, then we can see that there is a place for everyone, and where there is not a place for us is a time and opportunity to begin actively niching so that in the vast sprawl of the jungle, we too are able to make our own niche. There is a place for Silver Ravenwolf (I realize I am uttering heresy in many circles), as she reaches out and touches people in a particular place in the spiritual jungle. That jungle may not be the same place you're in, and that's ok. Raven Grimassi has a little more fibre than he's given credit. I have actually been impressed with the level of both sincerity and intellect he brings to his quest, and he is one of the gatekeepers who welcome new people into the path. I've met him, and sincerely felt that he had a gentleness and authenticity about him that I enjoyed. But again, the point is not to argue over currents we may or may not like, but to actively nourish those currents we need, because nature is bountiful, and permaculture is the art of turning and shaping existing flows into pathways that allow us to sustain some nourishment before they flow inevitably on their way to all the other diverse beings in the larger ecosphere who do such different things with the nourishment they receive. Heil and welcome, Tracie the Red!

9:35 AM  

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