Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heathenism : Deep Populism, Deep Ecology

The Earth knows her own, those close to her, those who work her, those who sleep next to her, those who stay humble. She knows her salt, she knows those who pick her fruits. She knows the plight of those nestled within her nooks and who work within her crannies, and her love is upon them, for they are her creatures. All who stay that close to the land are hers, and she remembers. The mountaineers, the hillbillies, the okies of the world, the sharecroppers and migrant workers, who ought in marriage by law be joined to her, and who stay close to her, she knows. Place your belly right upon the ground if you would know her, and be good to those children close to her, no matter what your height. Even if you deem the high mountains and sky your domain, take heed for the lowly, for they are of Frigga, and she knows them. When Frigga and Odin were joined, the high and low touched, and pact was made to preserve the peace throughout all time, that high and low together joined might help each other, as in the bonds of marriage between All Father and Earth Mother.

The coming together of the Aesir and Vanir is really a quite powerful event. It represents those who are of the land making a pact with those with special skills to protect and to ward, and coming together. When the Vanir break from the Aesir, they are stating : we have the power to oust you. That which is below may uproot that which is above if that which is above fails to meet its mandate of honor and protection, and indeed, they did have the power, and they did oust them. In time, they found that they needed them, and Odin reproved his usefulness to the world. Such it always is on the level of the Gods : those who wish to have high positions must prove their merits, and although Odin's ousting was the result of slander on the part of Gullveig, the principles remain the same : those who would be high must prove their honor to those below.

A heathen looks up to the skies and takes guidance from the heavens, but begins with the Earth, the feet on the ground. Begins with the All-Mother, she whom through marriage was raised to the heavens yet is of the earth itself.

O downtrodden, call upon your Mother, the sweet loamy substance, Queen of soils and silent wights of wood and field ; she hears you, she knows your story, she knows all stories through the long ages.

Heathenism is a kind of populism, a populism of field and country. You see, we've barely heard paganism from the mouths of most of those who practised it. Sure, we can get the general outlines from Roman aristocrats, and the broad textures of the mythic stories from the court poets, but to know how the powers were called upon by those of field and woodland, we must go to those who still are of field and woodland, and let their soul enrich our soul, and through that mixing of minds that Odin talks about in Havamal, to come again and look at the myths anew, and know them from the ground up.

As deep populism, heathenism calls out for the voices of the people to be heard again : the folk on the street, the folk on the back paths, the folk on this and that side of the tracks. The resurgence of the people and their voice to once again be heard.

Deep populism and deep ecology : there is no contradiction in true heathenism. We listen to the voices of the folk, we listen to the voices of the Earth. It is Garrison Keillor and Dave Foreman. It is Pete Seeger and Johnny Rotten. It is Walt Whitman and Ovid, Carl Sandburg and the Georgics. It is Studs Terkel and it is Rachel Carlson. It is Robert Coles and Aldo Leopold. When the folk return to the autochthonic, they become scions, expressions, of the earth itself.


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