Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Frodi's Vine-and-Rhizome Army

Frodi's vine-and-rhizome army kudzu-captures the giant's ancient stone monuments, root-ripping the marble prisons into ruins, beneath whose crumbling rocks gardens now grow. Every inch of barren soil challenged by the lush and wet ribald champion of greenlands whose seeds in the endless guerilla onslaught march onwards and take back the cracks in the concrete and open up room for life to grow. So slowly growing, near unnoticed, branches and roots strangle the boulder's scions, replenishing naked mountains and cliffs with a green mantle of grass and herbs upon which munch small furry creatures and birds of flight. But when the glaciers' sullen kin of chaos marches inward with their armies, Frodi whistles : all retreat. Deer, retreat ; fowl, retreat ; swine, retreat ; herbs and grasses and grain pull back at the Harvest Lord's order, and the monster's monstrous gluttony finding nothing to consume, falls hyena blood-orgy upon each other, the towers topple. Frodi laughs and all now dance. The ancient celebrations begin again!

Within Larger Body of Jord

Our lives are given an age within the larger body of Earth, whose roots and mighty forest-engines grapple and reclaim all structures set for but a small nesting time within the larger moss-and-jungle giant-ent body of Our Lady vining and twining the surface of Ymir's rounded bones. Her creatures come, in packs and droves, replenishing all that has barred their way, and she loves the vast wild zoo that populates her larger body and in which she takes delight. While the race of men claim their own glory, griping at the Gods for not favoring them in each and every instance at luck's roulette wheel, Earth mothers all her creatures, and glories in every kind. Kins and kindreds, tribes and flocks, are given their lot, their chance to prosper, and find their niche within Our Lady's tremendous flesh. The members come and go, but the tribe survives, its stock replenished in the cycle of ancestors and newborns, and that each kin finds room to grasp its lot is of importance to She Who Loves All Living Things, who looks askance with irritation at pesky human thoughts of dominion and imperium. In time her mother Night's mother Wyrd topples all who tower-build their power-plays to dust and crumble, whence elephants frolic, retaking the plains, and birds' branched homes reinhabit ancient battlefields and turn them green. There must be room for all, and we are but one delegate at the multi-species congress she calls to take oaths to ward and weep for Baldur. With but a word she calls the spirit-masters of every living thing to her, and they in awe, follow and take heed. Her mind extends from deepest roots and subterranean grottoes up into the skies where Earth's blue mind wind-blows round the globe in giant breaths. There in skies Earth-Matron and Wind-Master meet and mate, and share the throne of Hlidskialf warding over this great jungle-paradise called Midgard, here where every kind matters, here where the dance and shuffle of creeping, crawling, flying, buzzing, climbing, bounding beast and bug is sheer delight to She Who Lives Within and Through and Amidst Us All. Her mind and heart pulse beneath our city-mind's noise when we are silent and sit out by night. Listen and you will hear her heart's blood pulsate. Quiet and you will know the joy of Earth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Break the Bones of the Behemoths!

Break the bones of the walled halls high on the gated hill, scouring the crops of the once-bountiful boonlands of my home and heartfelt motherfields! Castles of crass account invade and violate the virile womb-furrows of the fertile, blessed Earth. The crushed-rock rioting chaos-mountains breed, bringing barrenness in the hollow bone-tombs built for empty glory of gold-greed's might, swathes' swallowers who switch allegiance of land for love of money. Wrongs erected rapine on the free and fresh-herbed land, thrown down upon the thrashed and packed earth so thralls might thirty-years toil for the feigned prestige of the gilded giants' caverns now gobbling up my homeland's hallows. Break the bones of behemoths who stalk and haunt the honeyed mellifluent milk-flowing rivers of my land's lust-boons! Mill the monsters' blind might towered into small grains of power for each man's making of the good life, here and hereafter, hallowing the holy bounty of blessed breastful earth wide and wondrous!

O Ocean!

O Ocean whose ripples lap and sway in serene shiftings on and on unto endless horizons, thy crafts of might and beauty shock and stun me into silence, O peaceful warrior of the riding waves! Long, long hath your serenity tamed the strong with bonds of bliss and memoirs of briny serenades of the womb! Upon thy sandy feet I laden thy foam-tossed caresses with kisses and petals, pouring libations unto thy greatness, O farmer of the fish-farms of the great rural plains and depths of wetness! With plows forged in the deep you furrow the undulating meadows and plow the road of the whale, scooping up fish like fruit in salty sea-weed nets as bounty and bounty more for all the world's overwhelming harvests! Wealthy, wealthy I call your crashing white arms whose foaming fingers fund out feasts for all, lover of drink and dance, axe-wielder whose torrents could crush even the gates of heaven! You bear forth love and laughter, your loins know little rest, Ripener, Lust-sharer of the fish-fathoms, Earth's ancient mate in the days before dawn! Ages back and back before the first ships sailed wind-seeking the reaches of your long embrace, thy nautical knowledge brimmed and seethed in the silence of the shores, Njord! O Njord of the lusty frith of the wide, wide fields of water, welcome and hail! Welcome and hail!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Starry Fruits Quickened In Flesh

In Night's body float glowing fruits of the Tree, souls hung in mid-air sparkling ; each of us from starry stuff descends, and falls near the well of weird, where our primal will is spoken, and fruited essence of our being stoked and warmed, then paired with many-formed shifting swan-maiden who, having planted us gently in the womb of chosen mother, grows one shape more than others suiting our unique, indomitable will so as to declare to all with second sight, this is his or her nature. Then she watches and takes heed as we grow, whispering words spoken in the depths of the world long before we were born, that starry fruits might quicken in flesh and awaken wowed to wonderful earth, and serve in worship's boldness.

These Tales Are True Tho' Other Tales Be True Too

The Gods know the favorite forms of the folk, and take shape according to their likings and longings, for these colors and costumes long have been the holiday cheer of folk raising horns to Holy Powers, and poets' bragis of the celestial forms and exploits have taken deep root in the folk-soul. However they may appear amongst themselves, in whatever form, and the folk are not unaware that other folk feel the mysteries in different forms, these forms speak the mysteries in ways that profoundly touch, and the Gods, however in and of themselves they may be or are named, deigned to clothe themselves in these shapes for love of those who love them truly. A bragi's but a boast, you may say, but a bold one, singing song poetic the earthen-eyes cannot see, and while the Gods may cloak in the customs of various lands, we know these costumes and customs are amongst those that speak good, honest truth and power.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hail Grandmother Night!

In the beginning was darkness, and the darkness was good. And the darkness surrounded all things and embraced them with her warm presence. And the Gods declared the darkness must be adorned for all her azure beauty, and threw up into the sky sparks of fire to glow and pulsate against her ebony cloak, and ever since, all good souls have looked up and felt comfort and awe at her many-hours passings.

Hail Grandmother Night! Mother of Mother Earth! Daughter of the Keepers of the Wells! Mother of Earth, and Sea, and Day! Hail the Darkness that holds and keeps us safe in the wee hours as she guards against monsters! Hail the silence and the mystery, guardian of the dreaming-time, Mother of the Vanir! Hail Nott!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Odr's Gnostic Path

Svipdag is pulled down by trauma into the strife of the material world, and loses his divine identification. Through the trauma of having lost his son, but forgetting the spiritual reality that no one ever dies, he comes to identify with the material world, and comes with a partisan position into the strife, and forgets his divine nature, and when that happens, when the imagination forgets its divine nature and comes to identify fully with the material world, often through the element of trauma, the individual is transformed into a beast, which is what happens to Svipdag. Lost on the waves, drifting in the waters, exiled and misidentified with the flesh, it is only when Freya comes, when she descends, descending down to search for him, when Love comes to search for him, that she is able to nurse him and begin reminding him of his divine nature. Freya reminds the animal of the divine nature that is hidden and trapped within it. It is that experience of love that slowly over time reminds us of this.

Now the odr is capable of sinking down into the flesh, into the lich, the la, and the laeti, and deeply imagining it, but it is also capable of identifying with it entirely, and if the odr identifies with the lich, the la, and the laeti entirely, it will lose its divine heritage. However, if it is in touch with the ond, with the divine spirit, and it imagines from that perspective downwards into the flesh, then as Blake is capable of seeing the heavens in a grain of sand, and the entire heavenly city within the human body, so may the imagination.

The perspective of seeing everything from the standpoint of externals, and externals inward, with the inward in fact just being a deeper layer of externality, is the perspective of what Blake would call "the natural man". Now, actually, this is nature fallen. It is not really certain that this would be the perspective of natural peoples like tribal peoples who, in fact, are often natural mystics, but this sort of vulgar materialism is the perspective of the modern world in which everything is an externality and becomes about manipulating externals, empirical reality, and what you can touch. It's not that empirical reality is untrue. It's that it becomes true when it is transformed into symbol, when we are able to see through it to the spiritual realities which it embodies. But if we say that everything is body, and there is no spirit, and we have separated spirit and matter, and then simply take matter as the discard of that process, and take it as all, then we have lost something essential. The imagination has ceased to imagine the flesh from the perspective of its connection with the wide-ranging winds of spirit, and has become identified just with this. It is not that there is a problem with "this", but with "only" this. If monotheism is an obsession, something monolithic, then there can be monomaterialism as well, of "only" this existing, as well.

Now the poetic soul has to go down to Hel and back, seeing all the wonders and terrors that are there, and to contend with the giant of wisdom that is down there. It's interesting that the way to Hel passes down through the terrible ways first. One must first pass right by the edge of Niflhel before one can pass into the blissful regions. You have to confront your fears first. Our fear is that it is an entirely fearful and gloomy place. If that is all we see, and we run screaming, then that will be our only vision of it, just as Snorri's vision of Hel is that that is all it is, just that gloomy place of fears and hungers and terrors, but if one manages to go beyond that, then one begins to discover the true blisses that are hidden almost by that shield of fear, and furthest away from those gloomy places lie sunny fields of bliss.

The poetic soul must there in Hel retrieve an object of great peril, the sword of wrath, the sword of vengeance, and must deliver this sword to the Gods for safekeeping, for only the Gods have the wisdom to be able to keep such a perilous weapon. Yet such an object presents a great temptation, because the poetic soul is subject to fits of madness, just as it is subject to fits of temptation. The poetic soul is sometimes called Amlethi, the mad one, and in the hands of a mortal, the sword of vengeance brings out the person's own inner desire for vengeance. It can take them over. The sword has a will of its own. And taken over by such indignant wrath, and such fury for vengeance, the poetic soul may try to take on the good and loving and powerful Gods themselves, and indeed, with this weapon in its hands, it may take down even the mighty weapons of the Gods. The soul at its height, in the full of its power, holding the sword of vengeance, can be fearful indeed, making even the Gods nervous. It was said that the Gods trembled on the point of a sword.

Svipdag as the avatar or exemplar of the odr in each of us fell to this temptation. Entrusted as simply a carrier of the sword, a messenger, a courier who would bring the sword from the lowest depths of Hel to the highest places of Heaven into the safekeeping of the Gods, he himself became tempted, and taken over, for as he emerged onto earth, the sword made him remember his feud with King Halfdan, and he engaged King Halfdan in battle with the sword. When the Gods saw that the sword that was supposed to have been sent to them and entrusted into their hands was being used in battle, in the petty strife of Midgard, they came down to defend Halfdan, but even Thor found his hammer hewed in half. Even the lightning power of the most wrathful of the Gods could not compare with the wrath and the vengeance embodied in the sword.

The Gods regroup in the heavens and bolt down their fortresses, and wonder whether the young Svipdag will follow his jotunn heritage or his more divine heritage. This is the question that each of us must answer : will we follow the material path down into the most greedy and externalized way of viewing things, or will we through the inwardness of all things find the divine essence that unites us all? The soul now has a choice. Holding this powerful weapon of wrath and vengeance, will the soul become a killer of Gods, not just atheism but theicide, or will the soul choose Love? You see, Love is the soul's beloved, and is one of those mighty Gods, and so a choice must be made.

The Gods await to see what choice will be made. Now it must not be said that with this sword that the soul actually had the power to kill the Gods, although there is a moment where we as the audience to the tales are in suspense. Odin addresses Svipdag when he comes to the outer gate of the heavens as one of jotunn kin, as he has come to prove himself through his actions of vengeance, and Odin is taunting him as to whether he is going to choose the jotnar path or a higher path. Now this is actually to Svipdag's peril, because the gambanteinn, the sword of vengeance, in and of itself fights against giants, so if he chooses to bring out in full his giant nature, if he comes to the heavens as a giant, as an agent of the giants, as an enemy of the Gods, as somebody fully identified with the material world who seeks to destroy the spirituality within it, we can readily see that the sword will turn against him, and slay him first. He does not realize this. He does not realize the peril of this sword, yet the choice is clear before him whether to choose love or to choose eternal wrath, even against the benevolent and holy Gods. He stands in the choice between a healthy pride that yet knows its elders -- the proper heathen position -- or an arrogance that goes above and beyond that healthy pride and tries to take down all, even those with superior wisdom and knowledge. Again, a choice that every hero, every would-be warrior, must make. It is easy as someone holding the sword -- a warrior -- to make the choice of arrogance, and to have the sword draw out one's jotnar heritage.

For you see, these very bodies are made of the stuff of ground giants. Matter itself is the ground flesh of the giants of old, and it is made whole, spiritually wholesome, active, organic, alive, open to the mysteries, through that energy pouring out from the inwardness of the world, but if we surrender that connection to spirit, if we surrender that connection to inwardness, if we surrender the reins that hold that monstrous matter into beautiful, organic, holistic, dynamic crystalline nature and structure, then that monstrous matter easily moves to the will of the monsters. So a choice must always be made : will we look with both eyes on the material world, or will we imitate Odin, who has one eye on the material world, and one eye in the depths?

The sword, imbued with the spirit of revenge, goads one to monstrous deeds, and if one gives over entirely to it, the sword itself will turn. This is a mythic way of saying "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword," assuming that we utilize the phrase "he who lives by the sword" to mean not just someone who uses a sword for protecting that which is good and serving the Gods, but actually lives by the sword, by the will of the sword itself.

Now Svipdag was tempted, and succumbed to that temptation, when he took down Halfdan, when he struck the handle or haft of Thor's hammer and shattered it, but the Gods know we make mistakes, especially when we are subject to great temptations. Everything depends on whether we will turn our mistake around and do the right thing, and Svipdag is redeemed by the fact that when in that moment of peril after he has fallen into temptation and given into vengeance, he then turns and makes the choice to go to the Gods and surrender the sword, and chooses love. And when he chooses love over vengeance, he is forgiven for his transgression, and comes into the holy arms of Love, who opens him to his heavenly and divine nature. It is through love that the odr is drawn up into the ond.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Feuds Are To Be Avoided At All Costs -- Except One's Honor

It has been asserted that feuds were a necessary part of honor. I must disagree. I would call feuds an unfortunate consequence, at times, of maintaining honor, but often of pure foolishness, and certainly to be avoided at all costs short of losing one's honor. To look at the Icelandic Sagas and conclude that feuding was necessary to the maintenance of honor is, I think, to put the cart before the horse. It was necessary to maintain honor, and this sometimes led one, either through unfortunate weaving together of circumstances or one's own rashness and arrogance, into feud.

The aspect of honor we're discussing here, which must be distinguished, is the reputation for strength, specifically, one's reputation in the community for not putting up with being stepped on. It was very necessary that everyone demonstrate that they would not tolerate being stepped upon, and that would include anyone in their clan or kindred being stepped on. We must remember that this was a society without police, and therefore people had to provide their own protection, and under those circumstances, in a sense they had to be their own police, and therefore to demonstrate that they were not going to let their law or the frith of their kindred be violated. There were many ways of doing this, feud being only the most extreme, and there was an entire legal apparatus as well as a set of societal mechanisms of arbitration to allow other avenues for asserting and demonstrating this strength, and receiving compensation.

Even the Sagas themselves, however, are full of warnings against feuds, and characters talking about how feuds need to be put down and stopped, because bloodshed was not something that was valued.

It is easy to get the impression that Icelandic society almost entirely consisted of these feuds if one reads the Icelandic Sagas, because they are essentially dramas, and dramas focus on conflicts because there's not too much that's interesting about merely talking about bringing in the harvest and milking the lambs. People want adventure and action in stories, and that is what is preserved. However, consider that we have 43 Icelandic Family* covering the entire two hundred years from pagan settlement to Christianization, and the Sagas often cover the next two hundred years after that as well, so we're talking about anywhere from two hundred to four hundred years being covered by little over fourty sagas. That's not even one saga for every five years, and close to one saga for every ten years. By necessity, it is the conflict-points that are being looked at.

Even so, the dramatic impression belies the actual truth of the matter. The violence was kept at a very low minimum. In fact, in the Sturlung Age that followed, an age of civil war, violence escalated to a level that was absolutely unacceptable to the Icelanders, and it's been determined that that rate of killing was about that of the homicide rate in the United States under a very large police force and law and order. What has become normal for us, in which we, for the most part, walk around within the United States and consider ourselves to be living within a fairly peaceful society --- that level of violence was absolutely unacceptable to the Icelanders at that time, which shows you that the previous age, the actual Saga Age itself, must have had a considerably lower level of violence.

Moreover, when you look at the Mythic Saga in its totality, it is a tale of warning of taking feuds too far. Weland, who can't let down his desire for vengeance, and threatens the world, no matter how many arbitration missions are sent. Svipdag, who kills Halfdan and sets the world on edge. The epic shows Loki and Gullveig scheming to involve the world in feud, and what strife this brings to men. These tales show just how dangerous feuds can be.

So the actual lesson if one looks holistically at all of the material is the danger of feuds, the danger of being too warlike, the danger of being too arrogant. We have a famous saga hero saying on his death bed, "That of which I am most proud is that I never aggressed against another man." An astounding statement.

It must be remembered that when we talk about honor, we're talking about a sort of bundle of various kinds of reputation which together in sum and in composite form form one's honor. There is one's reputation for integrity and good dealings, which is an extremely important part of honor, which is often forgotten by those pursuing a little too much testosterone, and there is indeed one's reputation for standing up for one's rights, and not standing to be stepped upon, which is simply the right of self-defense, and the right to self-dignity for oneself as well as one's kindred. This is a pragmatic matter. It's basically what we would call in the modern world a "Second Amendment" matter, that we have the right and the duty to self-defense, that you're not going to tolerate aggression or arrogant imposition by others. It is what is necessary in order to maintain a state of freedom as well as the state of peace, which cannot prosper if one is aggressed upon. There is also one's reputation for excellence, whatever you have proven to be good at, whether you were an exceptional warrior, exceptional at various sports, whether you were exceptionally wise, or exceptionally good at poetry. Wherever it was you excelled, that was another reputation that was bundled up in that composite word we use, "honor".

We also have to remember that the Icelandic Sagas are stories of family conflicts that were passed down and written down by Christian Icelanders remembering back two hundred years! Now we grant under many circumstances that oral history can have a great deal of integrity, but when a country has undergone a spiritual revolution, and taken on an entirely new faith, where that faith is actively persecuting aspects of the old faith, we can't assume that everything has been passed down in its entirety nor integrity. And again, the Sagas do little more than present us with dramas of an external nature, presenting an external picture of the society, as remembered two hundred to four hundred years later! The Sagas of Kings, which Snorri presents us with, clearly demonstrate that the wizards had been eradicated. We know that the Gothis were transformed into secular chieftains who then became part of the ecclesiastical structure of the church. So the whole inwardness is lost. Anytime the Sagas even mention a temple or religious feasts and so forth, the information is completely sparse, and to assume that the Sagas give us a complete inview into the heathen mentality is just absurd. I would never say that they aren't important. They are a critically important piece of the puzzle, but we have to piece that puzzle back together. We can't simply take the Sagas as the end-all and be-all.

More importantly, if we lose out on the fact that the myths themselves speak of a Golden Age in many different places, a Golden Age before there was strife, then all the strife we see in the myths, especially if we piece them all together in the right order, makes little sense, whereas the myths themselves constitute a history of how the world came to be in such strife. It is not a celebration of such strife. There is an understanding that one has to defend oneself against it where that has become a reality, but it is not a celebration of it. There is a celebration of people who will defend their freedom and who will be even heroic and fight for other's freedoms, but if we take these relics of the Axe Age as the entirety of the religiosity, then we have, in essence, become worshippers of the Axe Age.

`We have to step back and ask some questions, questioning basic categories often repeated but without much thought. Warrior culture? Or decentralization of police and defense functions? In the absence of centralized police and defense forces, everyone has to know how to use arms and protect themselves, and everyone has to be ready to demonstrate their willingness to enforce their rights. When you realize, however, that the kindred essentially functioned as a mutual-protection society, and get that this is happening outside the context of the State, it immediately becomes evident that the kindred must police its own and discourage any unnecessary provocations which might involve the entire kindred in a dispute which amounts to a pissing contest. The core issue in any specific conflict is whether the situation warrants an assertion of the rights of the kindred, or whether this is simply troublemaking on the part of an unstable individual, for whose actions the rest of the group doesn't want to have to pay. The Sagas repeat again and again as undesirable traits those who trouble-make, who are arrogant, who stir up strife, who are unnecessarily rash, etc. Under this decentralized situation, you don't want feuds to start because you don't want to have to suffer for some idiocy your cousin engaged in. People need to behave and learn how to take a few insults if necessary. Only where it appears that one is becoming a doormat is swift and decisive action necessary

As power became more centralized, coming up from the Continent, from Germanic cultures that had once been decentralized, but had become more centralized and militarized through contact and clash with the Roman Empire, we see Scandinavian society, especially in Norway, becoming more cannibalistic and self-predatory, preying upon their own, as we see in the endless numbers of time in Heimskringla where Snorri mentions such-and-such earl or such-and-such king going off harrying and burning villages and devastating farms and other such nonsense that no person who wants peace and prosperity could ever want, because that is a complete waste and destruction. We see the evidence of that happening. That is a result of the centralization of power, and should not be taken as an ordinary situation. Any society which continued for any length of time under those self-predatory conditions would tear itself apart, and is definitely not something to be idolized, admired, praised, or imitated, and to be perfectly honest, I would have to question the mental health of anyone who could realistically, not from a place of fantasy but from a place of reality, idealize a condition of essentially ongoing civil war and predation upon productive, peaceful activity that we see in all the havoc in Heimskringla. No, what we are seeing there is not the normal state of that society. What we are seeing are the disruptions caused by the interference with the ordinary small-scale, decentralized way of life, as kings attempt to take more and more power. It's been said in places, wrongly, that kings were a part of every Germanic culture, especially by those under the thrall of William A. Chaney's The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England, a work I find personally to be not only dull and dry, but simply wrongheaded, scholarship. We know the Saxons deliberately had magistrates instead of kings, and it was the Thing and not the King which was the central force in these societies. Moreover, indigenously, the king was more like a chieftain who brought several clans together through his diplomacy, bold example, and generosity, and not the huge national kings and over-kings who came to dominate later on in history.

People who are ready to fight at any insult -- which some characters in Icelandic Sagas are -- are brittle, weak folk lacking any confidence or self-respect, and these are unstable characters who don't make for a strong society. They contribute to an unnecessarily unbalanced culture of machismo which lacks the wholeness of the male-female balance. This is sometimes an unfortunate side-effect of a culture that has had to fight against overwhelming imperial powers, but it is nothing -- I repeat nothing -- for us to emulate in the present.

To imitate the worst failings of Iron Age societies that had succumbed to the Axe Age and taken within themselves militaristic and imperialistic tendencies is, in my mind, not only foolish, but to mistake this entire movement, which should be about spirituality, not glorifying over-brittle, rash, pompous, meathead jocks who can't take a few insults and are ready to reach for their sword at the first perceived slight. Those are called assholes and bullies, not exemplars.

It is our poets, our wise men, our wizards, our smiths, and our farmers who deserve far more attention. Not the least reason for which is to moderate the testosterone frenzies that unrealistic and ahistorical glorifications of the Viking Age too often unfortunately inspire.

* (and 61 small thaettrs or tales, 34 Fornaldasagas, which are not histories but fantasy-romances, along with 15 king-sagas in Heimskringla (Ynglingasaga doesn't count as authentic history as it consists of mythic and legendary material), along with the Jomsviking Saga and the Orkneyinga Saga)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Heart of Stars

All-Father reached into the heart of stars and pulled out some of their fiery embers, then blew upon them till they cooled starry and blue with glowing wisdom, then full of awe and wonder, placed them into the core of the newly formed humans, that their imaginations could stretch beyond the flesh and blood and reach out into the heavens and know beyond the stars. A knowing without knowing for certain, knowing that required leaps of faith and stretches of wonder. For without daring, why ought the imagination at all be allowed to touch the heavens? If they would wonder, they might know the Gods, and that awe might be as the sun towards which the branches of the tree raise themselves in praise from roots firm in the ground. So they might know.

If mind's poetry rises from roots to crown and follows the breath that leads back to Asgard, there is hope the soul may know its home galactic, and know its place in the cosmic tree whose branches stretch out to the farthest stars, to which it is connected merely by sitting out by night and wondering.

Here no religion needed, not even those wondrous tales called myths, just the boldness to dare beyond what space or time seldom tell, and know, this, this I behold, this wondrous stuff so shaped in mystery by the hands of time, is not all, but the mere manifestation of mysteries far deeper that fall down into the greatest roots of all things, and in turn expand out into the farthest reaches beyond all stars. All things one great waterfall and evaporation that in turn rains down again.

This is your wizard-mind, that spins out from some stuff called body, and follows breath on wind into furthest aethers where deep, mysterious powers drink nectar about the high seat of the great wizard, the one who knows all riddles, the one whose mind tumbles with the cosmos as on a horse who rides the eight winds down and through the trunk of that majestic tree in whose boughs all lights spin and shine, and whose roots lie in the heart of all wyrd, drawing up refreshed from what has been. Crazed, yes, you'll hear it in his name, and vertigo's his mind's jazz played turbulent upon the out-of-mind journeys he so loves to tame on the open ways.

Know these truths, and your mind will go beyond all bonds set down in the halls of time by race or tribe, and all heirlooms passed down from the ancestors shall transform from opaque to crystalline transparence through which the light of ages might shine. Breathe out upon this breath, follow aethers wither they go, and no ties shall ever hold you back from full voyages, whence you go where you might. God's wizard-mind would have you wonder, if you would know at all. Only fools fail to awe.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Health, Unhealth, and Standing Your Ground

When people are in places of pain, they see the world with eyes of pain. You, in turn, will be described in terms that describe them. Be careful ; it may feel like an attack. You will have to learn what is them, and what is really you.

It's very important that we do not allow accomodation for the needs, demands, and pathologies of the crippled and suffering to dominate life for the healthy. Please be careful and do not read in any lack of empathy in that statement. I take empathy as a matter of course, and caretaking for those not doing so well in the community is laudable and adds to the honor of that community and those who do the caretaking.

However. The healthy have a right to enjoy their existence as well, free from the projections of those in pain, free from the dramas and demands of those who are not whole, and their entire lives should not have to be warped and turned inside-out by those who do not see properly and turn everything into a production weighed down with tension, vitriole, fragility and volatility. If you have a problem, it might be your problem, not mine. If you behave courteously, appropriately, and with good will, I might be willing to help out to some degree, but that does not make your problem my problem. I am happy to be of help. But your difficulties do not give you any ownership over me. Nor do your past issues with others impact upon my simple, innocent, well-meaning actions and phrases, even if others have engaged in actions which seem similar but fit into larger patterns that were difficult for you.

All of this should seem really self-evident, but it's easy for things to get twisted around inside-out and backwards. It's easy for Loki to manipulate victimhood into a power-position that enthralls the strong and healthy. That isn't a good thing. That perverts the spirit of good will, neighborliness, and lending a helping hand. Saying so doesn't make us cold-hearted, uncharitable bastards. It's a matter of seeking balance, of seeking wholeness, of wanting health to pervade relationships. Health can pervade relationships even in the midst of struggling with physical or monetary problems. Of course, stress coming from any corner can put strains on people's ability to relate well, and that should be taken into account, but it is never an excuse per se to mistreat someone else.

That doesn't mean we expect perfection. We're all human. We all can lose our temper from time to time, but if in the process we've stepped over the line of someone else's rights, we'd better make good with an apology and some good will. And if both sides stepped over the line,s ome good discussion to clear up misunderstandings is in order.

I also understand that people struggling to heal from pain, especially psychological pain stemming from relationship issues of various kinds from their past, sometimes need special accomodations and special environments, where they need tender, loving care of a special sort, and sometimes with the kids' gloves on. All I'm saying here is that those special environments, important as they are, important as they are to affirm, allow, and if one is willing from time to time, to provide, they cannot be allowed to dominate the all of life. There's been many times I've been sick and wished I was at the beach enjoying the sun, and at those times, it's been helpful when someone could come spend time with me, and difficult when they couldn't, but in any case, the help or lack of help of one or two people who I'd enjoy does not give me any place to out-and-out resent the hundreds or thousands of people who are at the beach enjoying their time in the sun. They get to have that time!

I think we have an unhealthy understanding, approach, and relationship to these issues, which ends up polarizing us. When people get overwhelmed by other people's pain, they tend to freeze up, and perhaps over time become uncharitable. This can exacerbate the needs of those in pain, who then over-react and over-demand, which drives the cycle onwards.

It's a big argument for stopping crime. "Huh?" you may ask. I know it seems like a leap, but a great deal of the pain that people carry has to do with past violations of rights, and the frank fact of the matter is that when people's rights have been violated as children, they often carry around scars for the rest of their lives. Hopefully with some attentive and chronic help they can smooth over these scars and come back into health as best as possible, but the simple fact of the matter is that some scars stay with people their whole lives, and affect not only them, but all the people around them. I don't want to portray myself as a right-wing "lock 'em all up" kind of person, but certainly crimes must be dealt with as speedily, efficiently, and firmly as possible, with every attempt to neutralize further harm and to whatever degree possible to heal what harm has occurred. I'm not convinced that "locking 'em up" solves anything, because I believe in liberty, but some kind of firm community response is needed. The old system of fines and outlawry are probably some good solutions into which to dip. In general, though, despite a lot of "law and order" blustering, I don't think many people take injuries as seriously as they ought to. It's true in ways that those who have not worked closely with the injured can rarely understand that when a criminal injures one person, they are rarely just injuring one person, but injuring a whole community over a lifetime, because the violation has ripples and reverberations that cause chaos and generate trouble and difficulty all down the line. The emphasis should not be on the healers to completely cure everything (although we do the best we can), but on preventing the injuries in the first place as best we can.

We can have a compassionate understanding of the chaos that often accompanies those who have been victimized, and yet at the same time refuse to be victimized by it ourselves, refuse to allow their place of pain to destroy our efforts at happiness. And we must never allow -- though it will happen -- their judgements, which stem from places of pain, to erode our morale. Harsh judgement can often be morale-destroying, and people coming from places of pain often distort things and make things far uglier than they are. This doesn't mean we should shut out critique, but that we should have discernment to distinguish ugliness from legitimate criticisms which actually need and require addressing.

Let's also remember that there can be unhealthy attitudes towards the sick, while the sick themselves may have quite healthy attitudes towards their own health struggles. If we have not learned to maintain good boundaries, and absorb absolutely everything in our environment (easy for those of us who are very empathic), and if furthermore we illogically try to take responsibility for someone else's state of mind and make it our own, well, then we're going to be the mess, and we're going to get so frustrated that we will have a tendency to take it out on the person who is in pain! We'll have a tendency to resent them even if they are not doing anything, simply because we have not learned to be able to differentiate between what is their experience and what is our experience. Many people who come from people-pleasing backgrounds struggle with this. There has to be a healthy sense of self in order to be able to enjoy most anything in life, as well as to be able to endure difficult times and be there with someone having a hard time. As long as they are for the most part behaving, with genuine good will if not always with good mood, then their hard time should not be your hard time. They may be sick, but you may be the one who is unhealthy! Wyrd brings us many ironies in life.

There is such a thing as pathological pursuit of supposed "healthiness" that is not healthy at all, because it does not stem from a place of wholeness, of connection to all the varied realities and vagaries of life. There's a reason why some get called "health nuts". Please don't misunderstand me. Creatively struggling to make changes, in a holistic manner, that can improve one's life is a very good thing. But fanaticism often reveals an underlying desperation and obsessiveness that itself may be very unhealthy. Often those on these kinds of kicks get very callous, cold, and judgemental towards those who are having difficulties. This can amount to a kind of perfectionism whereby everyone who doesn't make the mark of perfect "health" and perfect "happiness" is damned for their failure. This smacks more of puritanism than anything genuinely heathen.

Health is a big topic. It requires a lot of deep thinking, and it's never encompassed by one sitting-down or one article. It's an important topic to ponder, because wholeness and health were central concerns of heathenry, and they ought to be to us today.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Strong Take Care Of Themselves

Healthy, good, and strong people must be very wary, watch their backs, and make sure that their foundation is firm and unassailable, stocking up resources for times of trouble, because healthy and good people are surrounded by people who are not so healthy. Good people are often surrounded by the envious, and strong people are often surrounded by the weak. A strong, healthy, good person has self-esteem, and knows that it is important for strong, healthy, and good people to stand strong in this world, and not be taken down by packs of hyenas and the inevitable weakness of the weak, because there will be many obstacles, many challenges, which must be faced and overcome. There will be some defeats, and they must be recovered from, and one wants to have the social, emotional, psychological, economic, and spiritual resources to be able to recover as quickly and as efficiently as possible from those defeats which are inevitable in life so you can get back up on your feet. More importantly, one must know that recovery is possible, even from many blows, even from several defeats. Still, one wants to minimize defeats because of their deep demoralizing effects, and one very well knows that hael, the power of wholeness and healing, is very much connected to one's sense of morale. With good morale and spirit, one can recover from most anything.

Having a diversity of social, emotional, psychological, economic, and spiritual resources is a very good thing, because the blows of enemies never hurt as much as the blows of allies and friends, and since one never knows when allies might have a weak moment, one needs to have many on hand to make up the difference. This should not be pursued out of cynicism or a spirit of manipulation, but simply the wisdom of not putting all of one's eggs into one basket, and aiming to have as many eggs as one can, because some are going to get broken in the course of things, and the more you have, the less you will cry over each. See and expect treachery, and make insurance against it.

Do not let others mistake the ease that comes from your confidence and strength for weakness, or they may be tempted to take advantage of it. Neither let people think there will be no consequences for misbehavior. One needn't be overly harsh in one's consequences, but one ought to be firm against misbehavior, and one must allow the search and the quest to strengthen one's spirit in the knowledge that if resources prove meagre here, then there are still resources there, or over there, or over there. Even if one cannot see them, one must not allow the dearth of the moment to overshadow one's confidence in the potential prosperity available on all levels : spiritual, emotional, psychological, economic, romantic, and social that are out there. In this way, momentary deficits do not have to be multiplied in one's heart, leading to a sense of out-and-out bankruptcy, but one makes the best out of whatever comes, confident that with skill, with strength, with good efforts, and with diversifying one's routine and resources, there is abundance available for the having and for the enjoying, and that is important.


Beware that many men can be bastards, shrewd and full of face that fits their advantage, smile at the right time and then blows when least expected, treachery in the heart and out for gain, friendly when the moment suits them while making arrangements behind the scenes, and sadly, friends, not just those who seek high positions, but sometimes friends, too. Beware and root yourself deeply, lest their turnings unground you as earthquakes that make you wonder ; all is not certain, and those whose knowledge of self is shaky shall be shakier more to friends. Yet some with great knowledge of self and only self-gain in mind will play all men in hall like strings of a harp to a tune whose melody in full is full of dissonance and melancholy to those who hear it, joy to he who plays it. Beware the Loki in all men and women, who play the thrall to his tricks as pawns, who claim worship of holy powers but demonstrate switching in their own behavior. Get wise, allow shock to deepen into firm anger, stern and discerning eyes that won't be fooled twice, and bunker down knowing the flippancy and cruelty in some men's ambition so that you will not be surprised when alliances break and treaties are turned. Some of those who have your back may drop out at a sudden, and your response must be no-nonsense and full of firm strength and resolve. The Hooded One says, be prepared, make ready for contingencies, even unlikely and painful ones, and share out only that trust which has been full earned and over tests of time. The Sagas are full of all kinds of characters, many of whom are not moral exemplars, but examples all the same of bastards who may have their way, and even receive some praise for it. One is often shocked at the treachery and cruelty of the Sagas' honesty, its often firm objectivity in reporting the truth of many men's lives that does not allow us to idealize ancestors who themselves had fallen much from ancient golden ages. "Men switcheth," sayeth the Rune-Poem, thereby speaking the unsteadiness of hearts and the treachery even in agreements and vows made which ought to stand through time. In time, though, we will know who are trees, who stand treowe, steadfast, sustained, and can hold the gifts we give for good. And we will know those who never deserved the half of what we gave, and sadly become wiser for it. In that wisdom we shall draw the steadfast close and reap greater rewards and harvests.