Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Fleshing Out the Concept of Defiance
The word "defiance" has a great range of meaning with which one can work, all the way from hooligans kicking over trash cans and thumbing one's nose in a kind of knee-jerk gesture, to assertions of will whose very purpose is to flourish the existential ecosystem with color, vibrancy, and shimmering difference.
It is important to place at least some emphasis on defiance, as well, in my opinion, because of the long-developed habit of authoritarianism in religion, which often imposes cynical primate politics and mind control onto spirituality itself. These wyrds are still with us, unfortunately (actually they are unwyrds), and call for correction. (The problem with any correction, of course, is that a corrective statement, meant to re-balance something that was tipped into unbalance, may be taken as an authoritative statement of wholeness, which is worked out over the larger process rather than in the corrective stage itself.) I'd like to accustom folks to the idea that there is a kind of free thinking, a kind of assertion of will, a kind of bold standing in difference that can actually be holy and even prayerful, in which holy powers join in the affirmation. I think this is important because in the unGnostic forms of religious tradition dominant in the West over the past two thousand years, independence, rebellion, and defiance have been associated with unholy powers.
Obviously from a tribal perspective, it's important for independence to exist within a context of interdependence. But love that would erase the difference of the other is hardly love ; there is a wyrd within us the world needs, and the giant powers that demand or seem to call for submission must be defied, however we might wish to construe the concept. I counterpose defiance to the concept of submission. I need not submit as honor and heart provide the free guidelines needed for a life of wonder and liberty. I do not think that chains are necessary for spirituality, unless we are speaking of chaining down the Wolf and his family.
When I invoke defiance here, the feeling that wells within me is a defiance that could be inspired by Baldur. It is the defiance of one looking out on a world that has become too accustomed to cynicism, to corruption, to bowing down to the unworthy, to schadenfreude, to beauty and innocence and value being trampled upon, and to all this, raising one's fist in the air and declaring, Non serviam, I Shall Not Submit. Why? From the good within me. One need not be a Gnostic to acknowledge how intricately jotnar and thursar powers wrap themselves like netted snares throughout and around the world that surrounds us. Perhaps even the old tangled motifs of runestones and such are more nuanced than we have previously anticipated ; where we find serpents and dragons weaving throughout the world depicted, could this be a different message than one where merely vines depict life resurgent surging and tangling itself everywhere? Could this be a sign of that which religion is meant to resist? A reminder of why the Gods are necessary, for sinister forces of corruption seek to weave themselves and encroach in upon holy Midgard day after day? I'm not asserting it, but I am suggesting it, at the very least as a thought experiment.
If we think of defiance as a rigid, armored stance, hollow and merely adolescent, a resistance to fully feeling life and being able to leap with abandon into its dionysian rapture, well, then, my invocation of defiance as faith will indeed ring hollow and incomplete. But is there a defiance matured, a defiance fully ripened that becomes faith beyond reckoning? For too long, perhaps, the Lokis and Prometheoi (sic?) and Satans have been over-honored with a monopoly upon the notion of defiance and rebellion, when closer examination would suggest that in many ways they are nothing but conformists giving in to the tide of corruption in which "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em". The defiance of a Laufeysson who had no faith in the goodness of the Gods is indeed a sad and petty kind of defiance. But what of the defiance of Odin, strong, tall, bearded and (hu)manly, looking Laufeysson right in the eye and saying, "I welcomed you into my house, I shared my blessings with you, I showed you glimpses of what was possible, and the only faith you knew was betrayal, and slim, materialistic clinging to the ways of the jotnar. To such faith or faithlessness my strong defiance shall bear issue in world's renewal!" The Gnostics, at least, had the faith to envision Jesus as the true rebel, against an oversatanized world.
The subtlety of the heathen faith defies monofocal reckoning in its polychromatic richness. Long overmonopolized in the present by militaristic visions, its complexity is both deeply satisfying and capable of nesting several different visions explored monofocally in other traditions. Gnostics indeed would find deep wellsprings here, although they too will find twists that assert the remaining holiness of the world and the good still to be found within it (and therefore to be nurtured and protected), a fundamentally pagan stance that defies any world-hating that would turn critique of empire into loathing of nature itself. Nature is ambivalent, itself tendrilled throughout by the encroachments of ill powers (although nowhere as prevalent nor prominent as in the corruptible minds and actions of humans), but they encroach because nature has been made fundamentally holy by the Gods, who daily infuse the world with their lush powers and blessings of divinity.
Defiance does not here mean reactive anti-conformity that conforms by trying to not conform, that leaps to the opposite merely to leap to the opposite, that refuses to cooperate for the sake of refusing to cooperate. Defiance here means intelligent, mature infusions of will given as a gift to community and world, challenges given as opportunities for those who would take them, rich visions of interdependence not as a net of dependence, but the mutual aid of those seeking both self-reliance and the joyful conviviality that gives life its power and spice.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Defiance is the Faith of a Heathen
Joseph Campbell in Creative Mythology rightly distinguishes between a notion of fate such as kismet which is the impingement of pure externality upon the individual, and wyrd, which is an inner, soulful force of potentiality that is its own force to be reckoned with, and which tends on towards active becoming. This is not a wyrd alien to us ; it is the most important part of who we are. Nietzsche says, "Become who you are." It is a process both of discovery and of assertion.
It's true that Wyrd in the larger sense is the interweaving of all the little wyrds in the world, an interactive effect, but the interactive effect of all the little assertions pulling and pushing in democratic activity. The failure to assert has dire consequences for the world, and is an ontological mistake, taking externalities in a deterministic sense and forgetting our active power to create in this world.
Lodur gave will, Hoenir gave imagination, Odin gave the broad-travelling spirit that moves like the breath with the wind. These are powers which allow us to be active in this world. They are the gifts that make us human, but moreover, that allow us to manifest the Gods in this world, for if we become shell-shocked passive receptacles, we never bring those God-wonderful powers of creation into the world, and the world loses out on some of its potentiality of becoming.
Why do I call this "defiance"? Lodur, Hoenir, and Odin raised their fists together against the Giant Powers, and refused to be defined by them. Instead they vowed to tear apart the Giant Powers and make a world out of their own activity, rather than passive acquiescence to "how things are". Of course, they needed a full tactical analysis and strategic assessment of how things were, so that they could more readily attack and achieve success.
Perhaps the greatest success one can achieve is the re-orientation of one's life from a passive status to that of an active creator of one's life. It's true that we don't, as Marx observes, create our history from whole cloth, but that cloth which has already been woven (and here Marx invokes a conception of history very akin to Wyrd), but it's true that we each have a significant if humble power of push and pull in this emergent fabric that is ever being created out of our actions, and if we are very bold, out of our deeds.
Activity as such, mere behavior, the doing of things, is not in and of itself the doing of a deed, although activity is important, as the ways we act co-create the world in which we live. But a deed has an element of defiance and panache to it and involves a boast against passivity, and an assertion of creativity. When a deed can be brought to fruition, it is a true victory that has lasting rippling effects.
Many people have never achieved the victory of going from consumer or victim of life to artist of life. However humble one's life, whatever losses one must suffer in the uncertain viccissitudes of fortune, the gift of dignity, and the refreshing wellsprings that this fundamentally creative and gnostic rebellion brings to oneself make this kind of victory an extremely meaningful one.
It is not enough, for instance, to militarily assess the world, seek out its harshnesses, and then try to fit oneself within this grand and cruel array. That is essentially to adapt to giants. I see many people do this. It is true there are harsh and huge realities in this world amidst its sublimities and stunningly remarkable beauties, but heathenism is not a paganism that is passive in the face of these harshnesses. We do not give everything that stamps itself as "nature" our own rubber-stamp. Rather, we assess the soul-forces behind any phenomena, and determine in that instance whether those forces are giantish in nature, or flow from the benefices of the Gods. If that makes us dualistic, vive le dualisme! We shall not acquiesce, nor shall we resign ourselves to cruelties by making ourselves as harsh as the realities we know are out there. It is certain that in confronting the world with our own vision of creativity, and battling for that, we will discover our own form of grimness, and the sandpaper of reality will sand us down to a rougher texture, but that is something to be found in the active striving for a more utopian reality (however humble), not a lowering of one's soul-powers to active imitation of orc-powers in the world. The mind is easily fascinated by trauma, loss, and cruelty, especially in the axe-age and wolf-age.
Some mistakenly believe that the entire point and thrust of heathenism is the deification of the axe-age and wolf-age, finally a harsh religion for harsh folks, in which we can all make ourselves in the image of axes and wolves. This is some kind of religion, but a religion serving the Sons of Muspel, and becoming a part of Angrboda's wolf-army out in the Ironwoods. It is hardly anything our arch-heathen ancestors would have approved of, at least when they were in their prime.
Their fight came from an active memory, however mythic, of the times that preceded the axe-age and wolf-age, and their fight was active defiance against the axe-age and wolf-age. It's true that in such an age one cannot depend on the good will of all men, for "no man respects or spares another", as Voluspa says of that age, and so one has to be ready for the worse. Odin always stresses the importance of being prepared, and the Gods have little respect for fools who are suckers. Odin advises the carrying of one's weapons when one travels about, because in a harsh age, there may be enemies of sorts lying in wait. But one does not acquiesce to this reality. One prepares for it and challenges it. The point is not to become like Grendel, but to become tough, lena, and wise enough to be able to oust Grendel, so that that richest and freest of festivities the Anglo-Saxons aptly called a "freols" may continue in the mead-hall, that beer-garden of camaraderie, solidarity of the folk, and active joy of active hearts in active defiance that is worship of active and creative Gods.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Pastoralism as a Factor in the Development of the Concept of Wod
Pastoralists in particular are subject to sometimes wild fluctuations in rainfall which can create boom-and-bust cycles in their flocks, and thus their food supply. "With highly variable rainfall (both in time and space), pastoral economies are typically of the "bust and boom" type: a "boom" when rainfall is plentiful and herds and flocks grow, and a "bust" when drought (or late winter storms in Central Asia) occurs and animals die." (Cees de Haan, Henning Steinfeld, Harvey Blackburn, Livestock and the Environment : Finding a Balance, Report of Study by the Commission of the European Communities, WRENmedia, Suffolk, 1996, Chapter 2 : "Livestock Grazing Systems and the Environment".) "More recently analysts have noted that in dry lands biological populatoins fluctuate widely between boom cycles, when rain permits rapid population growth, and busts, when drought kills the excess animals." ("Pastoralism", in Karen Christensen, David Levinson, Encyclopedia of Community, Berkshire Publishing Group LLC, Thousand Oaks, California, 2003, p. 1056.)
When times are good, and grass is green and abundant, the temptation to multiply one's herds mounts, and yet a baby boom of one lush season can easily give way to the famine of the next if feed supplies run low due to sudden drought. Life becomes preciously dependent on turbulent flows that by their very nature are not completely predictable, and thus the struggle in these cultures is to find an approach to life capable of coping with this turbulence without failing to take advantage of whatever gains may be had from it in the meantime.
A logical response to boom-and-bust cycles, stemming from survival imperatives, is to exercise moderation. Over-conservatism can be debilitating inasmuch as moderate risk-taking can yield greater prosperity, but in a turbulent environment, over-risking can too easily lead to bust conditions, yielding a paradoxical model of moderation that might be called "cautious risk-taking". This approach moderates the gambler's dilemma, whereby lucky wins motivate the gambler to keep gambling until all resources have been lost. Criminals are often subject to the same dilemma ; it has been observed many times that bank robbers might well escape detection and be well off with their stash if they did not become greedy and keep robbing banks. Moderate risk taking can yield comfortable levels of prosperity that might otherwise be unavailable, but risk-taking taken past the point of reasonable audacity easily leads to a fall.
Thus, an approach to life that is lived in good faith with wod engages and plays with turbulence through moderate gambling and a willingness to take risks at times when the time seems right, but always with an attitude of attuned caution. This resolves the paradox of how Woden, the "Master of Wod", can rule over flows as wild as turbulence, and yet advise moderation throughout the Havamal, his manual of rede on how to achieve the good life.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Blessed Monstrous Deicide
and universes within him, howling
made mighty shibboleth upon the shiv'ring plains,
whose sons demanded worship and obeisance.
Till three rebelled, and slit his throat
and drowned his sons, and from this deicide
ended tyrants' reign, and built the earth
from his bones and milled flesh.
It is those who do not bow
and render giant gods their carvings,
to make a world
who earn our honor on this daring earth.
Whom we call Gods are God-killers,
rebels of might and main.
They do not inspire fear within us
-- only within the bad conscience of the wicked --
but awe and blessed daring to defy
any giant power who'd demand our bowing down
where standing tall and fruitful is the lot
of a child of these proud destroyers of ill,
whose sweet lemonade of world
squeezed from monstrous, roaring lemons
we drink everyday walking upon the lush grass.
And like they did, we may raise our fists
to defy any awful power of arrogance,
prophecying, knowing not when, but true :
"You're going down," and resting in that confidence.
Men get to self-name, and self-declare,
as our mighty shapers themselves are free,
and find our good in full freedom.
This the world's shaping-tale tells us truly.
Tell Me How the Gods
smile on our monster trucks
approve our stucco mansions
long for us to dredge up oil
applaud taxes & mortgage & permits.
Tell me how the Gods
like office equipment
and love asphalt
and wish we'd tear up more meadows for condominiums.
Tell me how housing developments
how 9 - 5 is freedom
how television is better than a campfire.
I won't believe you.
Condorcet and the Heathen Potential
The great hope he offers is that we have a chance against Gullveig, if we systematically apply the principles of wisdom, and apply ourselves to the learning of wisdom. This is the battle between Odin, who searches for wisdom, and Utgard-Loki, Surt, who asserts ignorance, prejudice, enchantment, lies, deceit, illusion. It's the power of wisdom over the power of illusion, and if we systematically apply wisdom, and keep learning, and use wisdom to root out prejudice, and find better ways of working with nature, then we can root out the main mechanisms through which Gullveig is able to affect human beings, especially since working with nature, a method favored by indigenous peoples but abandoned in civilization up to the advent of permaculture, allows for balanced, ecological prosperity that undoes the hands of poverty and divisive inequality so often associated with and productive of Gullveig's greed.
Of course, she works hand in hand with Loki, who we must also reckon, who we can understand as the spreader of prejudice, lies, illusion, deceit, and tricking people by appealing to the strife within them rather than to the balanced moderation which would allow them to co-create the Golden Age. If we can learn from the myths, and not allow the Loki within us to kill the Baldur within us, not allow that part of us which is subject to deceit, illusion, prejudice, strife, and slander, to get stirred up and move against the part of us that represents balance and moderation, and which is therefore capable of creating and maintaining the Golden Age. If we allow the part of ourselves which is strong and protective and heroic (Hodur) to also be in line with the part of us that is merciful and forgiving (Baldur), and not to turn against that, then we have a chance.
Each of these myths are messages, alchemical messages about what we can do individually and societally to overcome the miseries of war and class inequality that stem out of greed. It's no mistake that greed, anxiety, and fear is the mother of the wolf, the wolves of war. When deceit and greed combine, we find the wolf of war, we find the tentacles of the serpent of restriction and venom, and even dis-ease finds its way into the mix. We may not ever be able to fully eradicate Gullveig , who is born again and again, but we can exile her from our provinces, so that she's not invited in, so that she's not invited in to dance amongst us, and play her mind-tricks on us. There will always be those who will be more or less subject to her, but if we can create a strong web of oaths, we can create a guard, a yard, a protective fence against her influences.
Thus, Condorcet, the Enlightenment philosopher, and the Norse myths, are completely reconciliable, even though a prejudiced conservatism which often overtakes Asatru might seem otherwise, attaching itself to the prejudices of militarism and conservatism that conserves prejudice rather than reason. But ultimately, Odin represents wisdom and enlightenment, and not prejudice. One must always ask what one is conserving and whether it is worth conserving. Prejudice is not ; the fruits of reason and contemplation, which are wisdom, are.
We cannot allow the strictures and structures of Viking society to limit the possibilities of what we can realize now through the Gods' guidance. They were limited by their time and the progress made so far, and by their fighting against regressive forces from progressing further along, but the Gods continually guide us onward in an evolutionary imperative that we can follow, and that we are mandated to follow and extend as far as the development of our faculties can be concerned.
Condorcet felt that the development of human faculties was one of the greatest hopes for the future of human kind. Other things that were really necessary for his vision to come true was not just the progress of human sciences with their ability to produce more with less, and more efficiently, which of course to a large degree has come about, but more importantly, what has been neglected, which has been the devotion of reason to the eradication of the principles of authority, aristocracy, and superstition, three prejudices which shackle down the mind. The mind cannot work freely under these prejudices, and without the mind working freely, Condorcet's program cannot work, because prejudice will allow greed and inequality to work their way back into society.
But Condorcet also felt that the development of the moral faculties was one of the most neglected areas of education and study. He felt that this could be extended by what we might call the development of empathy, an extension of empathy through engaging the human mind in an imagination of the effects of its actions upon others.
Now we might find the kernal of this idea in the Teutonic idea -- which also exists in other contexts -- of the doomsday, the appeal to the imagination that there will be a day when all of the effects of one's actions on others and on the world will be tallied up and given report, and given a final judgement. It is not to the punishments or rewards thereof that this imagination is useful, but to the daily contemplation of how one's actions may impact others, and what kind of effect that has on the world, how it helps to co-create the world : the imagination of how the Gods will evaluate, with all of their insight, and with the Weaver right there, to be able to point to the Loom of Fate and how things have become interwoven. Of course, we will never know that fully until such time as that day of reckoning, but as a motif, the imagination of it helps us to develop that sense of considering the effects of our actions upon others and upon the world --- that very development of moral faculties which Condorcet felt was critical to the progress of human improvement.
So the more that we are developing our empathy and freeing our reason from the prejudices of authority, superstition, and aristocracy, and also bringing about the full development of the free market, not in the sense that it has hitherto been talked about in the Reagan years, but more as Benjamin Tucker and in the present, Kevin Carson, have developed : a non-monopolistic, non-usuristic development of the free market, allowing common development and industry to improve, the more we are bringing to full blossom those gifts the Gods gave us in the beginning of time ; and it is a certainty that the Gods will not allow us to live in the full frith and prosperity our potential allows until we have nurtured and reared that potential into its greatest actuality. Then, what we now call utopia, may be the commonest currency.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Rigsthula : Not A Statement, But A Debate
it is an argument,
an argument that is still happening.
It is an unresolved archetype
that the centuries are still debating.
It's being debated here in America,
it was debated in Russia with Marx,
and the final round of that discussion has yet
to be concluded. Shall we have thralls?
Shall we have kings? Shall we have anything
but the good mass of free folk?
Shall we have prisons? Shall we have conscripted labor?
Shall we have aristocrats who think themselves better
than most? Shall we live Edmund Burke's dream
of aristocrats like strong oaks nourishing the soil
with their deep roots, and showering trickled-down
Reaganomics of heritage upon the folk, purified
through the upper branches? Or shall we dream Whitman's dream
of America unbounded?
Rigsthula is an unfinished poem,
literally. It fragments off,
as if perhaps, there was some ending
aristocrats did not wish
read in the long roll of time, or,
likely still, meant to be unfinished,
as if we
were the finishers
through history and time itself.
Now we know that Halfdan, "Kon", came to fight the Winter
in the dawn of that Wolf-and-Axe Age, which age
is still not yet passed from us,
and as king, to shelter the refugee folk upon the shores of Denmark.
Reading the runes that men in Midgard might fruitful live again
and foes fight off, and win through fretting blessed frith.
This poem : the folk rising grassroots-up
from servitude to nature's brawn,
impoverished apelings struggling in the night
upwards into freedom full, and folk and moot,
today called "republic", "rights", "nation" ;
and from that stock, full stock of freedom,
up rising noble the excellent,
who in their full fruiting found in tree's canopy
of the world's men,
look back down, and protection-prepare,
cherishing their folk,
nourishing the full stock of freedom.
There's still arguments to be had about this poem,
and they're worthy arguments to have ;
Marx and many others do battle.
Yet we may leave aside
the struggles of communists and anti-communists from the 20th century,
and let Whitman yeast this grand,
old poem of old
that it might yield a new insight
for the new age.
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.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Calling Upon Tremendous Humanity of the Tribal Heart
Modern heathens would do well to study the reports of Tacitus. If they did, they would realize how human these warriors of old were, and how much modern heathen project the modern, imperial soldier (more befitting of Rome) onto our wild and powerfully human ancestors.
(And that didn't make them perfect either. They were as corruptible as any of us, but so long as they stuck close to the tribal heart, it was able to regenerate from errors and reclaim those who were loyal to it.)
Where Are You On The Tree?
out on a limb
a far left-field branch and twig
watching tiniest leaves shake
and thinking that the world's entirety.
We are one twist of a twig
on far larger branches, boughs,
and trunk of cosmic tree grand;
and there are larger concerns
than this backwoods boons-bough
whose soft leafling tinkles
we are so dazzled by.
Look up and around.
There is a much greater majesty.
Your soul is larger
than the breeze blowing in the leaflet's
Explore your wonder.
At Heart We Are Trees
who decided to take up legs
but in our hearts
when we are true
we are still trees.
Tyr on the Fight You Have Within You
"A long time ago, crafty and corrupt men realized what a force a body of defenders eager and heartful to protect their homeland and family are, and how they might be used to aggressive ends by those who could exploit their heroism. Do not allow your virgin to be seduced."
--- "Channeled" (through my odr) speech of Tyr to new recruits
Stand Up For Trees
It's standard operating procedure in the modern world to mutilate and murder trees. Our ancestors may have regretfully done so for genuine need, with great apologies, never carelessly, always with mutual sacrifice of all beings in the great gift exchange in mind, but they were in balance. We are not. Dare to stand against the standard operating procedure, to offset the imbalance.
Offset the imbalance. Stand up for trees.
Hear The Prophet Speak!
You have sinned against that which is holy.
You have desecrated the meadows
and soiled the high altars of the wild folk.
What was free, and wild, and holy,
you have placed your footprint upon,
as if in so doing you could bless it,
and have torn down the homes of the fair folk,
turning them out homeless
into barren landscapes where giants dwell.
Invaders, colonizers, seekers of profit observing no limits!
You have sinned against the hills and valleys.
You have sinned against that which is holy, and
Fools, robbed yourself of precious riches!
Fools, who melt down a treasure-hoard
of precious gifts and crafts
to pay moneylenders and loansharks!
Made yourself poor while pretending to be rich!
Laid your wretched, alien houses on beautiful pastures,
and littered the landscape with your trash,
closing up open spaces.
You have sinned against the hills and valleys.
You have sinned against that which is holy,
but some still hear the spirits in the wind,
the wights in the water,
folk in the land,
and they have very
for holy habitation, if
humans are to share the land with luck,
and we are not listening.
Near to none of us are listening.
Do not doubt the fair folk are there,
Eye-witnesses to our sin,
Ready to testify in spectral courts
where luck is decided and distributed.
If the full holiness of the landscape does not touch you,
How have you made it fled?
What will you do, where will you speak, to defend it?
and how will you welcome it back?
You have sinned against the hills and valleys.
You have sinned against that which is holy.
Repent. Transform your mind and heart.
Return to the fullness of land's wholeness;
then you will experience magic without reckon.
doing orcs' work in the world.
Do you imagine these choices have no consequences?
Do you imagine the patient Gods are forever patient?
You may still have human skin
and yet be orc beneath.
The Gods see through to the self
revealed by its deeds and their value.
Heathen Test (Provocation)
How many of you have ever participated in a tree-sit?
How many of you would consider participating in a tree-sit, if you knew of it and had the time to spare?
Or are you one of those worthless types who turns on the tube and shakes your head at the "tree huggers"?
That's right, I just called you worthless, and pal, if the shoe fits, wear it. I mean business.
The gauntlet is thrown down. Can you rise to the challenge? A heathen should always love a good challenge.
You want to be a warrior?
Defend the trees.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Yggdrasil : The Animist World-Tree
stretched over all of meadow-of-star's
canopy, against the spinning mill of lights.
Through her branches dance sun and moon,
night and day weaving amidst
the windy boughs of the Gods' high abodes
atop which hang ripe fruits filled
with mead-sap cider potent, life-bursting
with embryo's flame, and yolk, and dark ale,
whence all babes in the world are born.
Spectral bark glassy, ghostlike to mortal eyes,
glittering as brightest gold to eyes that see,
dew-drenched, and daubed
with the whitest, purest clay, rendering pure film
its whole expanse, the world, and all worlds
lay buoyant and sheltered in the bosom of its boughs.
Through her thick veins blood-sap mead flows intoxicant,
juicy and enriched with worlds' life and wisdom,
life effulgent bursting from every inch of limb :
eagles, hawks, harts, squirrels,
goats and serpents too declare
far beyond the human realm
life wages war mighty in these limbs,
yet all that falls returns to roots, in endless,
unending recyclings : dew dropping,
soil sinking, roots percolating,
sap uprising, leafs golden, fruit splendid,
rain and showers, births and growths
and fallings onward ever and more.
Nor iron nor fire shall fell it.
Much ill endures the old tree,
gnawed and buffeted by demons
ill-deed fed by men and wights,
but she shall endure these insults all
for forever her branches hold all things.
As a great grove old-growth holding
vast zoos of known and unknown beasts,
worlds beyond reckoning,
heavens, earth, and hel encompassed,
life's struggling dramas ascend
and fall, and rise again.
He who shall hang in her limbs
shall know all secrets, mysteries, powers.
Living cosmos, support for nine worlds
with sap interflowing betwixt all in ever-churning
circulation, life and death and eternal memory
in her xylem, father to all Gods, substance
of substances, unseen majesty through the heights
of all worlds, thick, strong, endurable.
Enfleshed archive of all that has been done,
home to every finished deed, flesh of flesh,
manifest borne of unmanifest waters,
wells wyrd, uprising, loomed in her branched webs
all action, behavior, movement, happening :
living essence of all creation, uncreated
and everlasting. Hail the Awesome,
glorious, mighty boughs and branches,
leaves and fruit, trunk and roots of Life
Unconquerable! Hail Yggdrasil, Tree of Worlds.
This is the overarching tree whose branches stretch over the heavens and hold all the stars in its grasp, the living cosmos which extends from the furthest heavens down through the thick axis of the world(s), and into the roots of all that has been but now lies unmanifest in the deep soil and waters of dream that infill the xylem of the world.
This is the mead-tree, whose sap is ensouled with the richest strains of sweet, potent wisdom, nourished on the digested experiences of all souls swirling in the wells beneath the earth, rising up in surges through its thick, unseen veins, investing all life with ancestral resonance and substance, and spouting up showers of fresh springs of mead for the Gods in the heavens, whence fall the dews that sprinkle the earths, sweet light honeys that bees feed upon in flowers' petals, nectar and fluff of pollen. This is the great maple tree of old that ever endures, its syrup rich with the sweetened blood of all ancestors, ever filtered upwards into its mountainous, underground roots whose depth no being has ever plumbed.
This is the great living-loom in whose branches all of life is woven together like tangled Celtic knotwork, the great Web of Wyrd in which all beings intertwine and find their life and spirit strangely reflected and refracted in each other. It is the pantheist, Gods-substance-swirling of all worlds, the meet and moot of ancestral and divine, the animist pageant and passion of skins-swap whereby peels are enfruited with various, diverse souls, and creatures slip on and off hides in a dark, sublime carnival of costumes and hide-and-seek, macabre, and through that composting, vitalistic and awe-inspiring.
This is the Tree of Awe, in whose limbs all that is awful and awe-inspiring transpires, tremendous holiness beyond reckon, transcendant terror and wonder, the organic nature of the universe in all its mystery and unfathom, its horrific marvels and miraculous, subtle transformations. Too mighty to be held in its awesomeness and entirety by one mortal, it is seen only with eyes of the spirit that joins its breath to the winds that blow through all worlds, swirling and merging itself with all spirit. A ghostly, spectral tree seldom seen except to those themselves spirits, it is daubed each day in a rich, purified clay, essence of holy earth, whose clear substance bleaches its trunk, and taken up, renders its body will o' wisp glassy, a pulsing, crystalline, elvish wonder.
Think some thoughts. Smallest leaves bud on twig of twigs smaller than small on humble branch branched out from branches twisting and turning inwards into one single bough of bough-of-boughs tree. All eyes, ways of seeing, thoughts held in its twisted, gnarled branches, and in order to see more of it, more eyes are needed, new ways of thinking that open up the spiralling worlds of gasped ungraspableness. Broader than broad, it holds more than you can ever know, and not even the Gods know how deep its roots run. The world's mystery is unplumbed.
Think broader, more modern : all galaxies telescope-captured, nebulae, quasars, deep-sea expanses of thickest night and space ; all particles upstreaming from quantum dance of energy-foam dashed wave on wave upon each other in the nanospheric micropuscle ; world upon worlds, planet upon planets, stars, asteroids, moons and comets, life and all lifes, terrestrial, extraterrestrial, xenobiologies, metamorphosant symphonies, Stravinskian rhythms of strange, unknown DNA's, all existential realms plausible and happening --- all, all held within this tree whose name parses the edge of infinity.
As Richard Pasichnyk, author of The Vital Vastness, says, " the Universe itself is fundamentally biological. In fact, so much is this the case that life constitutes a physical law; it had to arise, it was an inevitable result of the laws of physics as they exist. ... What is often overlooked is that the objects in the Universe, as well as the Universe as a whole, have life-like characteristics...". He says, further, "The seeds of life are everywhere, and the laws for its existence are built into the Universe. A recent, new statistical analysis based on how quickly life became established on Earth suggests that life will start on at least a third of Earth-like planets within a billion years of them developing suitable conditions. Moreover, recent discoveries that planets are common around Sun-like stars means there's probably no shortage of prospective homes, either." (http://www.pageonelit.com/interviews/RMPasichnyk.html) His vast tome, The Vital Vastness (http://www.livingcosmos.com/buybooks.htm), and his website, www.livingcosmos.com, describe how all of this is not metaphor, but actual living, scientific reality. The matrix of existence and life-processes that our ancestors called Yggdrasil, the World-Tree, is the fundamental reality of the universe, the underpinning and structure of all activity, the skeletal, vascular, and constantly growing flesh of flesh of all we see and hear, and more.
Called Yggdrasil, from ygg, often translated "terror" but more properly etymologically-rendered as "awe", and drasil, from drösla, to "roam about", and thus, poetically, may refer to the meandering of a cow through a meadow, or the movement of a horse, and therefore may stand in for a horse itself. It might be rendered, "Awe-Wandering", "Awe Roamed About", as well as "Ygg's Horse", with "Ygg" (Awe-Inspiring) being one of Odin's bynames, and his eight-legged horse a poetic stand-in for the eight winds in whose drafts the branches of the windy tree blows. Whereever one might "roam about" in "awe", there is Yggdrasil manifest.
The Vedic Hindus, Indo-European cousins to the Teutons, called the World-Tree the "Asvattha", and in the 13th century, the great saint and yogi Jnaneshwar, wrote the Jnaneshwari, a profound and insightful commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, in which he expanded greatly upon the Asvattha, drawing upon the great roots of the Vedic tradition and expanding them further in an expounding upon the great world-tree which is worth quoting from in extensive excerpts, because this commentary gives the context of Yggdrasil in rich and "thick description" as Clifford Geertz says, and will amplify our appreciation of what Yggdrasil encompasses. Quotations from http://www.scribd.com/doc/867279/JnaneshwariDnyaneshwari-or-GyaneshwariThe-Geeta-Commentary-by-JnaneshwarEnglish-Translation.
"...[T[he Asvattha tree, they say, is indestructible", its leaves the Vedic hymns, and he who knows this tree knows everything there is to know in all the Vedas. It is called the "great tree of mundane existence" which "no one can fathom". This "extraordinary tree" "is not an ordinary tree" but "is evergreen", and cannot be "destroyed" by being "burnt or cut with an axe".
"Whatever things exist in this world are pervaded by this tree. Just as the entire sky is pervaded by water at the time of deluge, or the night is flooded with darkness at sunset, so this entire universe is pervaded by this tree." "It looks as though the sky has put forth foliage or the wind has taken the form of this tree or the three states of creation, sustenance and dissolution have become incarnate in the form of this tree. In this way this top-rooted tree has grown thick in the form of the universe." Unfathomable, "Its form as such is not known here, nor its end nor its source nor its foundation." "One cannot say that it is, or that it is not. Though not susceptible to reason. It is said to be without beginning. It is the chest full of diverse powers. It is the support of the world as the sky is the support of the clouds and it is the folded cloth in the form of universe. It is the seed of the world tree, the source of mundane existence..."
It grows out of roots which are "pure Brahman", and indeed, the entire tree is extensive with and the outgrowth of Brahman itself."Monists believe that ... all forms of reality --- gods and goddesses, plants and animals, the material universe, and humans --- share a common essence. Hindus call this essence Brahman... Infinite and eternal, Brahman is the ground of existence and the source of the universe. It is discoverable only through the most profound contemplation, and its true nature is not revealed on the surface of things... (Jeffrey Brodd, World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery,Saint Mary's Press, Winona, Minnesota, 2003, p. 43.) "Brahman" is from the verb brh, Sanskrit for "grow, swell, enlarge, sprout". See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman.
Jnaneshwar continues : "...[T]he Brahman itself becomes the tree in the form of mundane existence..." "Just a person, though single, becomes his retinue in the dream, so this entire universe is the growth arid expanse of the Supreme Self. In this way, this curious tree grows and produces shoots..."
Ever-changing and in-growth, it is the field of all activity and manifestation. "This tree does not remain the same even until the morrow. Just as the hues of the cloud change every moment or the lightning does not last in its entirety even for a short while, or the water on a quivering lotus leaf or the mind of man in distress does not remain steady, so is the condition of this world-tree which perishes every moment. In popular parlance the people call this the holy fig tree ...In short, this tree is called Ashvattha, as it is transient. But this tree is also known as indestructible, i.e. everlasting, its implied meaning is this. The sea evaporates to form the clouds and is replenished by the rivers flooded by the showers of rain and so remains full so long as the above process continues. In the same way, the modifications in the tree take place so rapidly that people hardly perceive them. It is for this reason the people call it indestructible. Just as a munificent person gathers merit by giving his money in charity, so this world tree, undergoing decay every moment, still remains everlasting. Just as when the chariot moves very fast, its wheels seem to have no movement, so no sooner a branch of the world tree in the form of creatures withers up in course of time than it is replaced by numerous fresh sprouts. But no one knows when the branch drops down and when the numerous branches shoot up; in the same way as one does not know which clouds in the month of July come in the sky and which disappear. The branches of the world-tree fall off at the time of world dissolution but they grow in abundance like a thick forest at the time of creation. The barks of the tree get peeled off by the stormy winds at the time of world- dissolution, but they appear in tufts at the beginning of an epoch. ... Just as the current year ends and ushers in a new year, and one does not know when a day passes away, giving place to a new one, or one does not perceive the joints of breezes when they flow continuously, so one does not know how many branches grow on this tree and fall off. No sooner than a young shoot in the form of a body falls off than hundreds of such shoots grow on this tree. As a result, the world tree appears to be everlasting. As the water of the river current flows away very fast, it is followed by another so that the river appears to have a continuous flow, so this universe, though impermanent, appears to be permanent. Numerous ripples appear and disappear in the sea in a twinkling of the eye, and so they appear to be permanent. ... In the same way, the decomposition and growth of this world-tree takes place so fast simultaneously that the ordinary people do not perceive it and call it everlasting."
Jnaneshwar similarly describes the abodes of all the gods and seers spiralling up in its higher branches, for all activity in the universe takes place within its boughs. "Up and down its branches spread... resulting in actions in the human world", and in it grow all species of all life. "Then four shoots come out from the bottom of the tree, consisting of the four orders of living beings, born from sweat (Svedaja), from womb (jaraja) from the soil (Udbh jia) and from eggs (Andaja). From each of these branches spring eighty-four lakhs of species, each giving rise to an unlimited number of twigs in the form of beings. Those straight branches, which give rise to zigzag twigs, represent the different sub-species of beings." Yet for the world-tree, "life" includes more than what we would call biological ; it is an animistic vision of the universe. "On its top grow similar sprouts, which give rise to branches such as trees, grass, iron, earth and stones and these branches too bear similar fruits."
The world-tree, in short, was not only the essence of existence, but of all holy awe itself, and it is to preserve this tree that the Gods and all the Einheriar train and fight, for existence, in all its living manifestations, must go on, for even though cattle, kinsmen, and self must die, that the dreams of all beings continue to upsprout in worldings and wyrdings is what gives life meaning.