The Evil That Men Do
No freedom from guilt until the gild is payed. The criminals amongst our ancestors and ourselves seek to enslave us through racking up the reparations, unpaid and unpaid and unpaid, until Skuld has such a hold upon us all we're all tied in knots and wonder why that wondrous potential we all feel within us cannot be set free. Crime binds us all in shame, and we the living have to live with the shame of that history.
What a cruel inheritance to pass on, this debt unpaid, the blood that cries up from the land, these lives unlived. My honor tells me I shall not shirk from that shame. Tears flow at this history that men have created. There is much woe in the world even without us : famines, storms, even diseases. But that this creature so full of love, so full of the ability to care for one another, so capable of enlightenment should bring more woe into the world and multiply those woes, doing evil unto our own brothers, this shall never cease to make tears flow, and without any necessity at all.
When will we learn? How many wars have been fought to free us? How many men gave their blood that we might live free? How many struggled to raise the standard of living for all? Yet we have, so many of us, lurched over good proportion, and fallen into ill, and ill, ill, ill cries the land, cry the ghosts, cry the sad salt water odes in every child's eye that sees the world where Hitler reigned. The world where Hitler reigned! What an abomination to even be able to say it! The Earth screams, Saga weeps with us : was this allowed to be? Has the Midgard Serpent wrapped its venomous coils that tightly throughout the weave of the living world? Strangling ... strangling ... strangling. Would Mother Earth say the true warrior is the one who fights so that soul has some ground to stand on upon the blessed planet? That the true war is the one against the serpent, to encroach upon the encroacher, push him back, make him feel uncomfortable and crowded where now he is bloated and splayed out and roomy and cozy and damned near everywhere?
The evil that men do feeds the serpent. It feeds the wolf. And think not that wolf fed and serpent fed that Laufeysson's daughter will not remain unfed as well, as disease and hunger, lives cut short before their time, have their sway as the products of poisonous deeds and cut-throat slaughter. We have not yet begun to face our collective ill. That we would cry in the night and make great sounds of rhythmic beating, fists raising dust in the soil, mourning and moaning, and finally, exhausted, release the cynicism that feeds the monster by supporting the delusion of inevitability, and pay our good deeds forth penny by penny in the faith of a dripping faucet unnoticed gathering wells in time.
History sees Cumberland children kidnapped off the streets, indentured and sent by thousands to slave for seven years, or die before. History sees Irishmen fighting for their land shipped off to Caribbean isles, there to make rum for slavemasters. History sees Mexican tribes Aztec-slaughtered, Viking merchants selling Slavs, Roman troops choosing gladiators, failures and failures and failures in the shit-heap graveyard called history whose only hopes are long composting over the years that new life might green and sprout.
Would we pass on a curse or a blessing? Do men never give this thought? Is inheritance enough regardless of the heritage being passed on? Some men say, we are tired of being made to feel guilty. If you are tired of being made to feel guilty, throw down the gauntlet of your good deeds, and never silence the scolders. You should know better. Those who scold do Skuld's work. Scolding reminds of debts unpaid.
Wyrd knows the cloth that we've been given, and the threads with which we have to work. We aren't giants. We can't remake the world with the weight of our own muscles alone. We're small things, small in a sea of small where the large rule. Often we are handed black, moldy cards in a deck gone bad, and never think to take the time to clean the tarnish from the deal we've been dealt. Sometimes humble acts as these make a difference.
Once upon a time, life was but a game. Voluspa tells us that. But the game-pieces were lost, as the want for gold took over more and more, mother of the monsters reborn three times coming. That we would remember the game through the smoke and burning embers! Do not say we do not wail! Our folk wail! 9/10ths of Voluspa is wailing the world's woe that needless and careless has methodically wrapped itself around, through cunning and envy and angst! That this world would be this way! This beautiful, stunning, enchanting world! If you do not feel the tears dripping from Voluspa, you have not read the poem. It could be called, How the World Became Nightmare ; How It Might Become Dream Again. It's the legacy we carry. It's one of the single most important poems of the heathen tradition.
When the oaths fell apart ... when the want of gold appeared ... when families welcomed the curse-bringer and fear-monger into their homes ... when the folk first warred against folk ... when love was given up to the howling dogs ... when the forces of famine were given their sway ... when the valkyries began to have their day ... when the shaft of the brother brought down the brother, and the world's bright hope sunk down into hel ... when werewolves began to grow and be fed ... when even kin shall sell out kin, and hard times become the norm ...
These moments ... do you not hear the moans? Cry, in this great seance of time, laments of the ghosts, fathers and mothers calling out with great gnashing of teeth and ripping of hair! "You asked, Father of the Fallen Ones, that I tally up all the old tales I know, to reckon all the Woe-Father's ill deeds." Let Voluspa be rasped out, operatic wails and cries! Yes! Voluspa is opera, opera long before there was opera! Say not that we do not mourn!
But lest it seem all a Wagnerian gloom, there is a reason we mourn, a reason found in the small one-tenth of the song, where we are promised a day, a day when all bale will be bettered, and Baldur will live amongst men again. Green will grow the fields alone, without tending. Life will lush grow natural again, no serpent coiling and crushing out its full breath. If you miss this, if you miss the last tenth of this poem, you miss everything, the whole reason for any man to fight at all. For it is good the heart yearns for.
Do not let people call this poem Christian, or Christian-influenced. Do not let them claim all love of good for themselves. Do not allow them to make people believe that only they can envision a hope-to-come, a rebirth that makes life worth living, realized even in small every spring in the coming of Eostre, Idunna and Freya's return from the cold and hostile East, the buds upon the winter-barren trees greening and reminding of life's still-yet unsuppressed magic, however buried or tarnished.
The evil that men do has become the norm. Wouldst thou stand out? Wouldst thou step forward into uniqueness? Walk with the humble pride of a heathen, through history's nightmare, towards that now-foggy future when the sun's daughter shall ride across the heavens, and all the earth shall be greened again. Speak poems that remind men of dreams lost in nightmares, for a spirit once emboldened by life shall not falter even in the dark times, if we also remember to come together on these festive days and remember the green, and say, even if now the world's magic is held bound by the serpent and the long knots of men's ill deeds, still we hear its call, for magic is not the sorcery of Gullveig's curses, but the holiness of the Gods' runes pulsing through even this very damaged world. That holiness lives in the land, and in the wild things, and even now may be raised, however subtle. Religion is that which allows that subtle song the Gods sung into this world in days far gone to be heard above the din of battle. Then men's hearts are regenerated. Do we stand a chance through this of helping the world regain itself? Heathens would be haughty enough to dare, so boast. Boast against the evil that men do. Boast a world renewed again, even as this Eostre month we see the winter melting into spring.