Thursday, August 27, 2009

Old Growth Self

Óðal was the old Germanic word for homeland, the kindred lands kept in the kindred. Few people grasp or get the concept of óðal. And why would they? In the modern world, no one is geared towards that relationship to land. Even houses that are owned are kept in order to be sold, and exist as temporary stopping points on the market-place. Odal has been reduced to Feoh (cash) and Raidho (the open road, the commerce back-and-forth). Modern people occupy territory ; they do not sink into it and blend their nature with its, until they are inseparable.

Bil Linzie has written some amazing material about the afterlife in the ground, about the souls continuing to live in the grave, in the burial zones. His interpretation is that this replaces the poetic notion of the underworld, but I would contend that these two are folded onto each other. People used to bury their dead on their own land, in the howes, the mounds. These burial grounds on the family land kept the dead within the family circle. They would be in holy hel, but on their odal lands. Their territory "in" hel was simply the deeper (and deepest) levels of the odal lands here on earth. They are continuous and connected. We walk but upon the surface of a much deeper territory, which most people neither sense nor see.

Most, however, aren't even joined at all to the territory upon which they occupy like astronauts holding foreign tertitory but never knowing it, never naturalizing to it, remaining forever alien, distant, and in a colonial relationship to the land. To "occupy" means literally to over-seize, to over-lord, rather than knowing from within ("indi-genous") and holding from that place of strength.

Odli meant one's "nature", one's "origin", one's "extraction". To come into your odal was to come into your own, to mature into who and what you really are, and this was inconceivable without a relationship to the land, a relationship of love and husbandry and reciprocity. When you managed to do that, you had become an atheling, a child or descendant of the odal lands themselves, and therefore noble by origin. One ought to think here of a regal old elder, proud, strong, and impressive in bearing, who over a lifetime has managed to become everything they can be, and despite the losses a lifetime brings, has been able to gather up and bring their worth to full fruition, so that it overflows with abundance for those who are themselves a part of the land. (The blessings do not flow out as free gifts for anyone who happens to come along no matter what their worth, but for those who have staked a claim in the kingdom, in the land, in the godord, in the kindred, and thus become part of that special club of folks who have earned a patrimony through marriage to the land itself.)

The conquest of odal by fehu came, yes, you guessed it, in fehu-odal or feudal times, from about 1000 A.D. onwards. The Crusades had exposed European noblemen to Mediterranean notions of commerce, which they brought back to Europe where they began to transform Europe into a monetary economy. At the moment that authentic tenure turned into exchangeable title, with a mere piece of paper a token of holdship, odal, deep relationship to the land itself, was transformed into fehu, chattel. Warriors on raids (raidho, raids, the open road, commerce back-and-forth) would steal chattel and cattle, but not the land itself. Now that the land became identified with the title, an abstraction in writing reduced to a piece of paper, with that paper sellable, rights to the land became sold on the open market, and property, formerly territorial, became deterritorialized and passed out onto the flows of the open road. In a sense, earth was transformed into water, land into rivers!

But the replacement of tenure by title did not ultimately transform the original notions but merely covered over them, so that title in fact transferred far more superficial rights. We can think of odal as the strata of rights that literally goes down into the underworld itself, while fehu only describes that which runs upon the surface of the land and pastures there, thus measuring out only the surfacemost layers of that deep edifice of landrights. There is no way to transfer the luck of the land with title, and a titled or "entitled" connection to land may in fact greatly hamper that luck. The fairies are not happy with those who abuse the land. The old rites were in large part ways of establishing, confirming, renewing, and replenishing relationships with the wights (the spirits) of the land, who were directly acknowledged as here and present, and were also acknowledged indirectly through the invocation of the Gods who ward over them and with whom they have more direct connection. When these relationships were properly sealed and commemorated, the land gave forth its luck with blessings. This is why the old blots were so connected with peace and prosperity in the minds of the ancients.

It took a long time to establish this kind of relationship to the land. Icelanders spoke of "dying into" the land, of joining their essence with the land when they passed on. It took five to six full generations of this in order for the land to become odal, and one demonstrated one's odal status by counting back those generations "to the barrows", to the burial mounds on the property that evidenced one's intergenerational tenure. The intergenerational nature of the tenure proved that one intended to hold to place, and wasn't merely wandering through. It demonstrated that the land wasn't going to be sold one generation to the next to newcomers, but was going to be "kept in the family" as they used to say. This was proof that the relationship was not a commodified relationship. The land was not seen as commodity, as chattel, to be transferred from hand to hand, but to be held as homeland.

Modern hypnotherapists often encourage their clients to go to their "safe place". In the old world, this was an actual place. The odal was a source of strength, where one could draw upon ancestral might and main, where one was most at home in the world. And after a full and rich life, when one passed on, one could expect to live in the odal, which would look very much like one's homeland, just richer, greener, and more marvelous. Cultivating odal relationship, then, in a sense, is about touching the eternal in the land. The land has deep eternities stirring within it, of which we can only grasp the more elevated levels, yet the relationships on the surface are expressions of that eternity and give clues to the wyrd of the land itself.

Touch the eternal in the land. Sounds pretty materialistic, no? Not "materialistic" in our modern sense, though, which implies matter separated from spirit. This was wholeness, the interwoven nature of matter and spirit in this world of ours that had blessed properties and potentials. It's grounded spirituality, the spirituality of the ground, a relationship to place that is local and yet since it is found amongst indigenous peoples everywhere, has its universal resonance.

It's a choice to relate to the earth in this way. There's opportunity for anyone to cultivate it, although the modern world covers over this opportunity and makes it very hard. One doesn't have to relate this way. One can relate to the earth as an occupier, as an astronaut, in a spirit of carelessness, flippancy, entitlement, mayhem or even abuse, but one must remember that every choice has consequences. Luck is about cultivating good relationship to the nature of the world, of fidelity to flow, of working with reality. Misfortune, on the other hand, results from a legacy of ignoring consequence in relation, and behaving with lawlessness whose violation of rights however silent silently ticks up wergild, until the debt is overwhelming. It may take time for misfortune to build, and one may seem to accumulate much in the meantime, but it manifests in time, and takes time to work out and work through.

Odal takes time, but it grounds prosperity in good relation. And it allows us to come into our true nature. It's about discovering Old Growth Self.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Haecceity and Wyrd

The French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, performing a postmodern play upon a medieval scholastic concept, develop the idea of the haecceity as a moment in time that takes on its own individuality or subjectivity. Their radical concept is that it is not atomized individuals who are the true subjects of history, but moments in time.

There are moments in time that take on a perfection and character of their own, and all the actors participating in these moments feel truly alive for the time that they are involved in the individuality of this time. Even when the moment is "over", it continues to resonate through time, sustaining them until the next coalescence of a new, vital moment.

This suggests that Wyrd arranges coincidences so that people, animals, things, and events may come together into alliances that are mutually beneficial. These feel like "lucky" times. "Magic" would then simply be the surfing of these Waves of Wyrd so that one was in the right place at the right time in order to feel truly alive. Staying outside the Surf and attempting to manipulate it would accomplish nothing but prestidigitation of the banal, while true magic would be found in those moments that come alive.

This is worth contemplating, because it has elements that ring true. If you look back over your life, you'll find that there are these vibrant times when everything came together just right, in which you and every other participant felt not only most alive, but most yourselves, and that these became defining moments. These are the moments to live for.

Wisdom in the old sense of full-cunning or magical perception of wyrd's potential, would then consist in a deep intuitive study of those moments that really lived, so one can grasp the signals and track the scents to where true moments are in coalescence of coming alive. Since Wyrd suggests that true moments never die but continue to pulsate, we can utilize old moments of life to find the new ones.

It's an interesting idea.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Stolen Voices of Our Wizards and Witches

It seems they stole the voices of our wizards and witches. So it seems, for their words have not passed down to us in the literature. Yet these souls knew how to interpenetrate into the fibrous, webbed sinews of the Earth's spirit-matrix. Their songs are still there. But we must use wizard-ears and witch-eyes to hear and see them.

In Heimskringla (Erling Monsen tr.), in The History of Olav Trygvason Chapter 62, we find, "King Olav ... had a thing, at which he bade all the men who were openly or secretly dealing with wizardry and troll craft to ... come before him. And when they came, ... King Olav had all these men gathered in a room and had it all well laid out ; he made a great feast for them and gave them strong drink ; and when they were drunk Olav had the place set on fire and burned it and all the folk who were therein..." Then in Chapter 63, we find, "... Eyvind Kelda came to the island and he had a longship fully manned with wizards and other troll-wise folk ... When the king's men there recognized Eyvind, they took him and all the others prisoner and brought them before the king. ... The king had them all taken out and brought on a skerry which was under water at high tide and he had them bound there. Eyvind and the others thus lost their lives. The skerry was afterwards called Scrat-Skerry." In Chapters 78 - 80, we learn of Raud the Strong. "Raud the Strong was the name of a bonder ... Raud was an ardent sacrificer and very troll-wise. ... Raud was seized and bound ... The king had Raud brought before him and bade him let himself be baptised ... Raud shouted against this and said that he would never believe in Christ, and he blasphemed against God. The king was wroth and said that Raud should have the worst of deaths ... [there follows description of torture and torment] ... He made all the men who had followed Raud be baptised, but those who would not, he caused to be slain or tormented."

Now the historiography of Olav Tryggvason's Saga is difficult and knotted, because it is not only a saga or history, but also a hagiography or saint's tale, and thus represents a blending of two genres : the native Norse saga-form with the imported Christian hagiographical tropes, in which the fight of good versus evil is stereotypically portrayed in the triumph of Christianity over evil heathendom. All of heathendom gets flattened out with the worse practices, many of which were condemned by heathendom itself, and thus we have to be very careful with literature of this kind. It tells us something about heathendom, but often indirectly, and we would be wise to follow the cautions of Carlo Ginzburg about Inquisition documents, whose stereotypes transmit hagiographical or ecclesiastical traditions rather than contemporary historical facts, except when those stereotypes are colored with local, ideosyncratic knowledge. But in this case the stereotypes serve us, because Christianity in its fight against heathendom did in fact as a matter of policy war against the wizards, for shamanic practitioners were their competition. (And in fact, even the Inquisition's stereotypes of the Witch's Sabbat was based on original Inquisitional "research" into native shamanistic visionary-and-ritual practices that maintained a basic form with local improvisations of varying diversity.)

This hagiographical literature, crashing up against the far more realistic and gritty saga-forms, preserves for us in these episodes exemplars of what happened on a far wider basis. Our wizards were purged from us. When we look at the descriptions here and in the Icelandic Family Sagas, we still find the lingering of wizardry linked with blot, an understanding that the wizards were once an integral part of heathenry.

But the Icelandic Family Sagas were written long after these purges had taken place, two to three hundred years afterwards. There were memories of the old wizards, and certainly the survival of a few odd eccentrics in the boondocks, for these things were often passed down in families, but the new Christian mentality made these folk into menaces, and sometimes it was the marginal who preserved the old knowledge. Almost every time we find an instance of someone practicing seidr in the Family sagaic literature, it is of the type of Gullveig : deeply antisocial, combative magic, and that is the part that wizards must play in sagas written by Christians remembering their ancestors from long ago. (And when we say "remember", we also mean "imagining", because two to three hundred years really is a long time when it has passed over a violent conversion that has shook the foundations of a society.) We should not be so naive as to simply tip this Christian perspective on its head and imagine that every seidr-practitioner was holy in heathen days : far from it. Everything depended on benefit to community. Yet we know for a fact that most wizards were not scumbags nor so considered because of the very word "wizard", which contains the word "wise" (and for smart alecks who point out the Old English nature of the word "wizard", let's point out that in the Norse word vitki is also the word vit, wit or wisdom), and means "wise man" or "wise woman".

Of course with any art there are always scoundrels who will use it for ill, and turn it towards their own selfish, deprivative purposes. The Art invented by Freya is perverted by Gullveig. But it is, note, warded over by Freya and by Odin, and this ought to tell us something in the priority of wizardry as a shamanic art of communion and world-affecting through touching of soul to soul. After all, the Earth herself practices seidr, as we can plainly see when Frigga summons all the wights of the world to come and give their oaths that they will not harm Baldur. This means it is a pretty holy art at root. Runes are predominantly a masculine art, while seidr is predominantly a feminine art, and either may be perverted by forces of ill. Christianity flattened out these distinctions and mapped its own dualities onto our far more highly nuanced differentiations. (Can I invent the word "polydualism" for heathenism with its rainbow-array of good forces in coalition and federation against forces of ill, versus the "monodualism" of monotheism with its black-and-white crusades?)

Let us fully digest these exemplars which stand as summative epitomes. Wizards en masse burned and drowned. And then let us recall that in Harald Hairfair's Saga, which can hardly be called hagiographical, we learn in Chapter 35 of the killing of the wizard Ragnvald Rettlebone. "King Harald did not like wizards. ... There he burned ... Ragnvald and eighty wizards with him..." Eighty wizards with him!

These voices have been divested from the Family Sagas. When we hear the descriptions of antiquities found in these sagas, half memories and half-imagination, there is something more prosaic than there would have been. It is not that the Norse voice is not prosaic ; after all, we expect prose and pragmatism in sagas, but the prophetic dimension is missing. How these Sagas would have been taken up and edited by our wise men and women is missing. We are left with fragments.

This is workable, if we remember not to bow down before fragments, and learn to reforge them in the smithy. We will hear their echoes on the wind if we listen. We will hear the underwater reverberations in the deep, old spells spoken in old language that was never banished still carried by the eddies, song in the midst of our cells and in the streams and in the pith of wood. Icelanders of the 1300s remembered back their ancestors of three hundred and more years before, and imagined prosaically, flattening heathen nuances into Sturling-era rivalries and ecclesiastical dramas, and so, since their imaginations, so far as wizardry were concerned, had been dulled (reflecting more their contemporary odd eccentrics lingering on the social margins), we too are enfranchized to imagine, but more poetically, and thus, to regain the soul of our slaughtered wise men and women.

To Fly Like Geese Through The Night

To fly like geese through the night --- that was our religion! Etherial spirits sent forth through and through the all and each of every nation round the world, and we rode with love's mistress of writhing magic, the swan-maiden's cat-drawn Lady of Love riding song through the long night to love all creatures and know their souls, rewriting the fallen scripts to dreams encrypted in magic code of cells alive and raptured. This was our religion! No field nor fruit untouched or blessed, our blessed imaginations touched all beings in unseparated ecstasy! And loosed from the bonds of being into becoming, no nation held us back from our wanderings, and we kissed across cultures, though grounded warmly and snugly in our own. Here are no barriers, for we fly, and knit secret threads of peace tangled thick in hidden seeds that planted sprout upon surprise and mystery. This was our religion, and sometimes we met to feast, but mainly we flew, and knew our fellows through the flying.

This is not Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis. The Canon Episcopi in its myriad recensions attests to this lasting worship-form amongst the peoples of Europe.

Sins and Debts and Wergilds

Every sin condemns you to (nifl)hel.

What an absurd pronouncement. Christianity is so extremist.

Sins are burdensome. The more sins you commit, the more of a mess you leave, the greater your legacy is one of garbage that other people have to pick up, and for which, no doubt, you will be made to work in the other world.

But that any single sin unredeemed before this life is over condemns one to everlasting places of punishment?

Absolutely laughable and absurd. A childish doctrine perpetrated by fools who have no understanding of things, nor wisdom for the great things of this world.

Sins rack up debt. Debt is to be avoided. Debts must be worked off, if not here, then there, if not now, then later. Debts have a way of accumulating and growing. It is better to avoid them where one can.

Sin makes of one a thrall. That is why sin ought to be avoided when possible.

But mistakes are hardly avoidable in this world. We often learn through trial and error, and the words of the wise often mean little to those growing in experience until experience itself proves those wise words all too painfully wise.

This should not be mistaken for some kind of excuse for abuses and wrongs. For these, there are no excuses. Our tradition has always been no-nonsense. Wrongs must be righted, to the best of our ability, and that may require great labors. Many indeed may have to work in the underworld before they can enjoy great freedoms with the ancestors.

Legacy matters. What you leave for others makes a difference. The old tradition states that everything dies but the legacy one leaves behind. Will it predominantly be a mess that chokes out the living, or at least the beginning of an establishment of blessings that may be build upon?

No-nonsense. Wrongs must be righted. But the inability to weigh wrongs properly, and therefore find their proper wergild or scild leads to nonsensical propositions. Like the notion that any single sin leads to places of torment.

Look, even the sins considered capable of earning one places of torment are never said to automatically do so : the Gods are wise, and make wise judgements. Even great wrongs must be judged with the utmost of fairness, for all contingencies and extenuating circumstances, and good must be weighed against ill, and all must be sorted out. Let us not have childish doctrines that introduce simplistic solutions to complex issues that require the wise.

Wergild is a sophisticated, complex solution and approach to the burdens laid down by men unwise, by desperate men, even by evil men. Wergild is a system tribal peoples developed all over the world. Reparations must be made for injuries inflicted.

Why? The long-lasting effects of injuries and injustices cannot simply be wished away. No matter how much one whitewashes, those effects linger, because living beings matter, and all must be reconciled in order for the world to live on in balance.

Reconciled. That means sometimes there's some bargaining. This is traded for that. This is given for that. It has to be that way, at least in the world as we have it now, for creatures eat each other, and that means some injuries are built into the very nourishment of the world, a kind of frightening reality, if you really think about it. Indigenous peoples all over the world found ways of envisioning this. The story of Thor waving his hammer over the bones of the eaten goats is the trace of these insights in our tradition. A contract was made, to give over the soul of the animal to the master of those animal souls so that the species could go on reproducing. The soul of the animal was returned to the place of souls from which it could recombine and regenerate new animal souls to come to earth. The tradition of sacrifice, so often maligned, was a way for folk to take seriously something that is very serious, the taking of another's life for nourishment, something that ought to seem perilous and weighty, and given its appropriate import and gravity. Crowley, of all people, speaks (in Magick in Theory and Practice) of the contract made with the animal : a promise, in a sense, that one will make one's life worthwhile for the sacrifices given, that the soul of the sacrificed may live on and live through those worthwhile deeds and fulfillment. It's a pretty powerful concept, and one that matches indigenous pacts all over the world.

So acknowledging the nature of the world, we understand that reconciliations and reparations may have to be rough-and-tumble, but rough-and-tumble they must be made, for all deeds have consequences.

` This is something seldom acknowledged in colonial, settler societies that have been built on a foundation of slaughter and wholesale violation of odal rights. A colonial situation is a great situation of sin, as those who have had the courage to face know, which no one within ever wants to confront. The tangles tied are so complex that simplistic slogans seldom do the collective sin justice. Wisdom is needed for discernment. Africans were enslaved and brought to the continent of America as a slave-labor force, and separated from their language and culture. Yet poor "whites" (a term invented by Native Americans, by the way, who did not fully discern all of the distinct nationalities of the invaders whose distinguishing feature was the paleness of their skin) were also forcibly taken to America in great numbers as well, with large amounts of kidnapping and indentured servitude that brought its own enslavement and debt, although they were seldom robbed of their language and culture in the shock-treatment that Africans were. And those who were at the bottom knew each other across whatever suspicions and strangeness, for alliances, friendships, and marriages were contracted, and here is where the colonial would-be masters stepped in with laws that created white privilege and instituted racism with the full force of law in ways that never would have matched the on-the-ground protean reality of diverse lived-experience. Empire began forging an engine of conquest, of ranked unworth, where every peon could have someone beneath them who was worse, so the sadism and masochism could be evenly exchanged, or at least so it seemed.

Are you so naive as to think that the feelings of all those people do not still resonate upon the land? Are you so simple as to think that the bones of the murdered do not cry out? Are you so hopelessly ignorant that you think that crimes can go unanswered and consequences avoided? They cannot.

Some will cry, 'begone with these ideas, they bring guilt, and we want pride!' Shameless! Are you shameless? To be shameless was quite an accusation in days of old. What right do you have to pride before you have paid your wergild? Are you aware you remain a thrall until you have worked off your debt?

And then, once your debt is paid, do you know how many generations the Old Norse thought it took to move from merely manumitted to fully free? Seven generations. (And you thought Moses' newly-freed thralls spent a long time in that desert! Fourty years? That's but a single generation!) It takes time to move from crime to freedom. Most of us hardly even know what freedom is because we're still so steeped in a legacy of debt never addressed or paid.

Now this may seem like I am agreeing with extremists who place such tremendous weight upon sin. No, not at all, because note that while there is a period of thralldom where debt must be paid off, and a period of disentangling oneself from the habits of thralldom before one comes into freedom, eventually one does come into freedom if one does the work. That's on earth, and as above, so below. Eternal torment for mistakes that can be worked out in time seems rather absurd. It is true even our small mistakes are often weightier than we think, for we are connected weirdly, and our wyrd interpenetrates, reverberates, ripples even in odd doppler effects. Thus we ought strive to do the very best we can, and learn as quickly as possible from our mistakes. And collective mistakes of great weight, compounded by planning and deliberate designs of exploitation, may take tremendous or Herculean feats to finally overcome, over generations. True weight must be declared, not an ounce more, not an ounce less.

But let's be real : we are animals, however cosmic our brain may be able to be, and we tassle always-imperfect though hopefully-improving knowledge with deep, territorial passions and hungers that make mistakes almost inevitable, and places of torment would be overflowing if mistakes alone, even painful ones, were reasons for eternal torment. No, our Gods are realistic and merciful, their clemency founded on loving, no-nonsense foundations : work off your debt. Don't run from it, don't argue with it. Just face it fair and square and do what you can, in the rough-and-tumble. If it's a big debt, you might have to work harder.

You might say, 'Well, this isn't my debt. It wasn't my ancestors who did these injuries.' An encumbrance is an encumbrance. A lien on a piece of property affects the title whether you had anything to do with it or not. There are sins of the nation that affect you whether you will or no. That may seem unfair, and in a good sense it is, but at the same time it points to the necessity for collective responsibility and the need to combat, in every sense of that term, ill that arises, for ill unaddressed and allowed to become law by being unchallenged lays an endowment of wickedness which warps all goods that might come and skews them crooked. We don't want that. You might say combativeness is a bad thing, but if you fail to combat that which is essentially wrong in your community and nation, what kind of legacy will be left for the living? What kind of freedom will there be?

Now, because this is a rough-and-tumble world, I'm pretty convinced that some things do come clean in the wash, and there is a certain number of mistakes, of a certain petty quality, that make little difference, and the Gods are not unwilling to cut essentially good people some slack, so long as it does not interfere with the balance of the world. The Gods have accumulated quite a lot of good through their deeds, and have tremendous bank accounts of heil as it were, and can cut a check every now and again to make up for small amounts, but Urd is an exacting accountant and the Gods are charged with ensuring that wyrd is balanced out over the long-run. That's part of their administrative duties. Ultimately, responsibility is one of the fundamental laws of the cosmos. Urd keeps track of it, but the cosmos' responsibility-matrix is the fundamental process of reality. What makes it wyrd is that its nonlinear ramifications are so complex as to render Urd the most incredible intuitive chaos-scientist and mathematician-of-complexity imaginable. A lot of stuff doesn't make sense from a linear perspective, but poetry completes the picture.

Poets know. Poets can feel what is in the land still, what lingers from the past and still sings or cries through the history books.

Imagine putting poets in charge, empowering them for the great insights and wisdoms they bring and channel. Wasn't that what Plato was getting at with his idea of philosopher-kings? Yet Plato was merely inflecting a much older Indo-European idea of poet-chieftains, for which word the Icelanders have given us Gothis, song-smiths in touch with the Gods.

If you read Icelandic poetry, you know it is capable of great, sinuous, twisting beauty, complexity, and ravelled allusion, but it maintains a deep pragmatism and the thump and edge of a real world. It's not all flowers and lace. It's the folk-poetry of the rural reality taken up into high-court expression.

Touch your poetic soul, your odr. It will tell you the truths of sins and debts and wergilds, if you breathe in your ond, your cosmic, Odinic breath of spirit. The books and scriptures can only tell you so much. It is coming out of dream at night before the day begins when you lie there in bed where you will come to know out of great feeling welling up from the heart what is true and what is not.

And you'll know we've got work to do. But it's good work, because it's work to undo encumbrances. Work to win us greater freedom.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Advice to the Young on Love

There is no greater gift than love, and love, though common, is imbued with sacredness that must be tended to flourish and blossom. Many give little and receive little, and the base prove their debasement in the way they profane the great mysteries of love. Find your true rung of nobility in how you handle this most exhilarating of intoxicants. Can you find a way to reach into the animal and draw its hungry neck up to taste the dews of the heavens?

Be careful to whom you give your love, for you may give your best years, and those years you want to be able to remember with the one you love. More than the sex, love is about creating memories. Many of those memories will be about the love-making, but it is the experience of a connection and of shared experiences that will be sustaining to you. There are many who cannot sustain the connection, and will forsake you. In many cases this is as if they ran off with a treasure or heirloom and never give it back.

There is little that is more important than the love in your life, and little that is more perilous. Explore, but conserve your best for the best, and where love has been given, even when it has brought some anguish or cannot last, still give it the best of your honor. Even if your partner has lost honor, you still owe honor to Freya, who gave you the gift of love in the first place.

To this end, one ought to cultivate courtesy, kind-heartedness, patience, and generosity, and yet one also ought not to neglect the important arts of assertiveness, communication, and drawing appropriate boundaries, because no one respects someone who lets themselves be stepped all over. You may need to be fierce in holding your ground, yet do not lose the art of compromise with integrity, and above all, no matter how tempting, do not let anger pull you down beneath your dignity, and watch the tongue that may let slip words that cannot be taken back. Love may take you through corridors of anguish and uncertainty that threaten to warp you, but your family and your honor demand you perform with as much dignity as if you were seen with all eyes.

Always be certain to show thanks to Freya, for her gifts are precious and not to be taken for granted, and she will be there with you in epiphany in the great moments of beauty. If you are lucky, and she shows you great favor, there will be very great moments of beauty, tastes of ecstasy the likes of which few experience, and which will sustain you for many years and times and struggles to come.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Trickster and the Tree

So Trickster was out and about walking through the world of people as he often did, and he came upon a group of people in a meadow, and he went up to one person and he said, "Would you like to know what kind of tree the world hangs in?" And the man naturally curious wanted to know, and Trickster told him, "It is an ash tree in which the world hangs". The man was interested, and Trickster then went on to the next man and asked, "Do you know what kind of tree the world hangs in?". The man asked, "What kind of tree is that?" And Trickster said, "It is the yew tree," and then went on his way and found a third man, and said, "Do you know what kind of tree the world hangs in?", and the man asked, "What?", and Trickster said, "It is a giant ficus tree." Then Trickster just laid down on his side in the sun beneath the lazy shady tree and watched the events unfold, for just as soon as the men began to speak, and share their stories, they began to quarrel, and there was nothing that brought him quite so much delight as watching people quarrel, and so Trickster just laughed and laughed until a shadow appeared above him, and there he saw the Old Man looking stern, disapproving, scratching his white and grey beard.

"Loki, this is not funny," he said.

"Oh, man," Trickster scowled. Couldn't the Old Man ever let him have any fun? "But they're so fun to watch! They're so gullible!"

But Trickster saw that no-nonsense look in the Old Man's eyes that meant business, so Loki got up and left.

The Old Man waved his hands, and the people felt in peace again.

What each of them had not realized was that the Trickster had given them important information about the world. The world did indeed hang in a tree, but as to what kind of tree it really was, is there really any point in arguing about that?

This story has no basis in the old lore. It is true, nevertheless, if you think about it.