Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thursar See Not Yggdrasil

The Thursar do not know that Yggdrasil exists. Its glassy gold is to them, as to many of us, invisible, and thus they laugh at its invocation. To them, only the chaos of monstrous matter, visible before their eyes, exists, and they know not, therefore, the cradle and womb of that chaos, which takes it up and weaves it into a living context.

The living order at the heart of matter is not immediately evident to purely empirical eyes. Such a notion is easily scoffed at, particularly by those for whom only the effects of brute force are real. (Think of how much "force" is a basic concept in our rudimentary physics!) But there are those who are able to see with eyes of meaning, and know that what they see through those eyes is as real as what the physical eyes see.

You can't see Yggdrasil. You can't point to its branches. You cannot show its trunk. You cannot prove its deep roots. Yet it is that totality of life and meaning, which encompasses and yet transcends the biological and material, for which the Gods train to fight and protect. It is that which fully matters.

It matters because it is important ; and it also "matters" in the sense that it exhudes as an epidermal shedding from its deeper flows that material world of flesh and bone and bark and stone we know so well. Thursar look at the shed husks and conclude it is all.

No wonder they are so hungry. No wonder they would eat the world. For they feed their souls on the tablescraps of the Great Feast, and bemoaning their starvation, brutally assault the world to feed that endless gnawing.

There is more. It is alive. It cannot be seen with physical eyes.

This is what we teach. This is the essence of what the ancestors passed on. This is the center around which even Gods are peripheral. The cosmos is alive, and we only follow our own Gods' example when we do worship a tree.

Even Monkeys Can Chatter

Putting rhetoric aside, and basing evaluation entirely upon actions and interactions, I would define the heathen community at present largely as a group dedicated to the worship of Loki.

I do not claim that this worship is explicit in terms of external dedication, ceremony, or words, but rather that it is inherent in those deeds acted upon and the quality of interactions.

The level of sheer strife, beyond the level of basic human imperfection and conflict, beyond even that ordinary level of cynicism we expect for human beings in a corrupted age, when Baldur has fallen, is really quite extraordinary, which is to say it is deplorable. It points to a very rudimentary level of social evolution, where decorum, courtesy, conflict-resolution, and clear thought remain at frankly juvenile levels of stunted growth.

One need not look very far and wide to discover such disappointing dedication and devotion to principles of strife. It is both prevalent and frequent. And it does not reflect the kind of interpersonal development the Gods wish for us to attain. But that is our choice. We can choose the path of sustainability and survival, or we can give way to faction, slander, and the politics of continual disappointment, and watch efforts become swallowed by time and consigned thereby to the garbage bin for overall value. In this, we ought not wonder at widespread divestment by those with talent and who are dedicated to excellence, for the very fact that wisdom after a time urges the best to not throw in their good value with that which has little more intent than the vagaries and storms of the unconscious moment.

It represents a genuine and rather deep crisis in the heathen community. This crisis can be taken seriously, addressed with both personal soul-searching and interpersonal intelligence, and worked through, or it can be pooh-poohed, cynically noted with resignation, or avoided, with the ultimate result of being pronounced by history itself as being irrelevant to the ongoing survival and thrival of the species.

I'm not certain that the depth of this crisis is appreciated. It touches fundamental religious issues. Something is wrong with our worship forms if they are not creating greater and more lasting levels of unity capable of riding out transient storms of conflict. We are tested by the ways in which we handle conflict, and overall, the learning curve at this point is not too encouraging. The wise ones stand back from the petty conflicts and just ride it out, but there is something more fundamental going on that requires address. It seems to me that a level of hypocrisy, and one that is quite deadly to our vitality, has entered into our rituals, one akin to the Sunday-Christian phenomenon of professing one thing in church and living something entirely different. Such hypocrisy indicates that there is a lack of honesty and authenticity in our rituals about what our authentic struggles are, and a failure to pray for the ability to skillfully and gracefully work through such struggles. It would seem we are speaking bold words, and getting caught up in the bombasticism of the moment, declaring things our actions and indeed the very texture of our lives belie. We speak of loyalty, of honor, of kinship, of wisdom, of frith, and of strength. These are easy things to speak about. They are heady and they sound good. One feels glorious merely reciting the words.

We learn the right things to say within a group and then we say them. We receive our accolades and make our alliances. It really doesn't matter what the words are. It could be this group's creed, it could be that group's creed. It could be beautiful words, it could be ugly words. It doesn't really matter. We aren't much listening anyway.

The last thing in the world we want is to really face our deficiencies and do the work required to improve upon them. That requires awareness, soul-searching, and real work. No, just pass the horn around and say some things that will make people feel good and self-important in the moment. Then do whatever you want. Do what you were going to do anyway. Follow your whims, and if it takes you into conflict, be as nasty as your unconscious desires impel you to be. If someone calls you on your behavior, or advises you to cultivate a little more awareness, pull up some phrases from common slogans as a shield, and finagle an argument that tries to show how their check and balance upon your acting out is really a violation of all the wonderful words that have been bandied about. That's what those words are there for, anyway, right? To give you some kind of defense in case someone actually makes some genuine and genuinely constructive critique?

We've forgotten, it seems, that the word "worth" is in the word "worship", and therefore fail to ask the soul-searching question, Am I worthy to worship? If that sounds like a strange question, one might want to sit down and think about it. It is, admittedly, a hard question. It does not cater to convenience or ease. It asks something of you. It doesn't come door to door to you to offer you blessings for free. The question asks you whether you are worthy of such worthy ancestors and worthy Gods.

Think about it. On a human level, would you walk into a club that was filled with the cream of the crop, the most excellent in the field, and really feel qualified to take up their time? Have you accomplished enough, have you improved yourself enough, have you dedicated yourself enough to the values around which that club is organized, to feel that anyone would even take your application seriously? Think that through, because chances are, you would feel a level of formidable intimidation to even consider entering an application, unless you were really, really good, and not just in your own mind, but as tested by circumstances and long experience. If you weren't intimidated, but also were not very good, you would show yourself to be a fool, and the club would want to have little to do with you. Under such circumstances, how much benefit ought you to expect from its members, practically speaking? If you have done little to advance their agenda, to enliven them, even to entertain them in terms of motifs and interests they find engaging, and in fact, from your achievements or lack thereof, are beneath their notice, how much help do you anticipate from this club? Think real pragmatically here.

Now consider that as a heathen you are making an application to join a club of ancestors whose deeds are sung around the world, and Gods whose great deeds speak for themselves in the majesties and beauties of the world itself. If you're not at least a little bit intimidated, not only have you not been paying attention, but you aren't even taking the matter seriously. And if you are not taking the matter seriously, and are therefore engaged in what amounts to little more than game-playing and social recitation, how do you expect beings of such worth to take you seriously at all?

Prayer ought be understood as a request or petition. If you were petitioning an individual or group to whose values you had openly scorned -- if not with words, then with deeds -- and were asking them for some kind of practical assistance in your life, beyond, say, the bare minimum of help that strangers might grant to one another out of a humanistic dedication to the larger community, how much practical assistance would you really expect to be rendered?

On a communal level, the question goes deeper. It is now no longer a question of whether you personally are worthy to participate in such worship, but when considering a potential member of your group (or even an already existing one), are they worthy of participating in such worship? Again, I know, a hard question, but then, convenience was never one of those bold words passed around in toasts. I beg practicality again. If you were part of a group that was petitioning a large organization or official, say, the President or the Congress or the United Nations, or even some international charity fund of some kind, and you knew that part of the process of considering your petition would involve scrutinizing the merit of the individuals who make up your group, as well as the overall integrity of the group itself, is the person next to you holding the horn of such merit that the petition will be either turned down or potentially accepted? Because now you're all in this together. You personally may be of excellent worth, but if you keep the company of low-lifes, in anything more than a charitable way, it is going to reflect, like it or not, upon you. Is this person an asset to the group's goal of attaining merit in the eyes of those it is petitioning? If you aren't considering these things, you're probably not taking the group very seriously, and it is probably nothing more than a social club, or perhaps even a drinking club, with a little Norse dressing just for flavor. (Or, within our larger generalization, whatever flavor the group professes as its particular style.) You ought not anticipate, therefore, for anyone, whether part of the larger public, or a part of the higher group you are petitioning, to take you seriously at all. Your credibility, and therefore effective organizational or social power, will be very low. If this is true at a human level, how much more true it is on higher levels.

I want to make it clear that when I encourage individuals and groups to engage in soul-searching regarding their own worthiness that perfection is not a relevant issue. Every single person has deficiencies which it is their responsibility to notice, address, and tend. The question of worth addresses whether you are actually doing your work in this regard, and the dedication with which you have thrown yourself into the work. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone, to differing degrees, is entitled to a little fun. The question of worth is not encouraging a false sense of shame. However, if there is shame inside, that is worthy to examine and address, because it just might be speaking to something. It might speak to something which needs development and work. If you've begun the path of undoing shame through good work, you have begun a path which leads to merit and worthy notice. You might slip. Life is full of failures and conflicts. The question is how quickly you pick yourself back up, address and correct your mistakes, and dedicate yourself back to the work. And ultimately, as well, there is a question of learning curve. Repeated and significant mistakes (there are many mistakes that are of little or no consequence), particularly if they involve injuries of some kind, will not help one's reputation.

And reputation here is geared towards worth. This is not about whether people "like" you or not. People's attractions and affinities are diverse and changeable, often to the point of fickleness, but what people authentically value, and I mean authentically value as demonstrated repeatedly in the concrete texture of their lives, tends to remain steady and weather petty flurries and little primate monkey-storms of "I like her", "I don't like him", etc. In fact, when someone demonstrates achievement in terms of things we actually value, we often are willing to set aside whether we personally like them or not, and they gain honor in our eyes for their authentic integrity despite their likability or lack thereof. Returning to our more practical examples, you might know on a personal level several people who are part of an exclusive club with selective membership dedicated to specific goals, and you might have a good relationship with them. Despite their personal liking for you, however, you are not going to become part of the group (if the group, that is, has any real integrity) unless you demonstrate some basic level of competence, and no one ought expect otherwise.

This is why I place so little stock in hereditary approaches to ethnicity, because mere ancestry does not establish worth in and of itself. Sure, we're all willing to extend the minimum loyalty required of a family member towards even the worst of our kin, but such are mere trifles. It is those family members who have actually made good of themselves, or at least have not proven themselves to be forces of mayhem, who win our long approval, and to whom we are willing to dedicate greater amounts of passion and assistance. And the Icelandic Sagas are full of instances of kinsmen refusing to render any palpable assistance to a kinsman who has proven to be a danger or of little worth. How much more so from kinsmen beyond the grave with their expanded perspective. The point here is, don't stand on the laurels of your ancestors unless you are willing to live the values behind the deeds which made them great. And if you stand on the laurels of ancestors who did no deeds and proved of little worth (or worse), what kinds of benefits do you expect to receive from such powerless people? Do you think you personally gain worth just because someone a long time ago who happens to be related to you did something of value? What are you going to do? That heritage is nothing in which to rest in complacency ; it is, actually, more of an onus upon you, for even greater deeds than average are expected. (And one more friendly critique of the volkish : there is absolutely no indication that any of our ancestors ever attempted to create any kind of social or legal form of copyright around their worship forms, let alone one that was based solely on genetic ties. Affinity and worth, as always, are the stronger factors, and while biological ancestry might create greater propensity towards affinity, it cannot establish worth without equal or greater achievements of merit. It stands to reason that there will be many with biological ancestry who have neither affinity nor worth, while on the other hand, there may be some, or even potentially many, who have little biological ancestry yet a great deal of affinity and even worth. Such matters are best left to Wyrd, rather than human politics.)

This doesn't mean we should go prying into other people's lives and appoint ourselves judge over them. It does mean we should encourage soul-searching, and should not shy away from appearing intimidating, and ought to, as discretely and appropriately as possible, in the spirit of genuinely constructive critique aimed at improvement, point out discrepancies between professed declarations and actual, glaring conduct.

Constructive critique and methods of conflict resolution are vital parts of keeping any group healthy. One of the first orders of business in this regard is to prioritize, which already brings us back to the basic issue of weighing the worth of things, and figure out what is important and what is not. What is petty, and what has weight? Once this determination has been made, and some sort of consensus established, it is then worthy to assess : to what side of this spectrum of pettiness versus importance does an individual or group dedicate most of their energies? If pettiness is a major concern, as reflected in actual interactions, then that which is actually important is probably being majorly neglected. In fact, if pettiness is a major and lasting concern, then what is actually happening --- in reality, not rhetoric --- is that they are declaring that what is petty is in fact of major importance to them. They have made their concrete choices. I know these are hard ways of looking at things, but we ought not expect that the Gods' scrutiny will be any less probing, intense, and thorough ; if anything, it will be more so.

Once we have determined what is petty and what is not, we can then attend to actual methods of addressing and resolving conflict. Are private matters kept at least somewhat private? Are public matters addressed in proper channels? Despite passions, has proper decorum been observed, which is to say has proper respect for the larger community, who is not a party to the special interests involved in the conflict, and is therefore deserving of sustained consideration and regard, been given?

How do you deal with your upsets? We all get upset, every single one of us, each in differing ways. We all may need arenas, forums, and venues in which to blow off steam and air out our frustrations. (And here we may ask, have you searched for an appropriate arena? If one does not exist, have you begun the work of creating that arena?) The question is, when you get upset, do your speech-and-deed-actions reflect those values you so boldly claim in circle? Carefully scrutinizing your actual life, when you get upset, are your actions characterized by honor, loyalty, kinship, wisdom, strength, and frith? Do they at least lean in that direction? If not, what are you doing about it? Do you need some help learning how to moderate your temper or find appropriate ways to express your frustrations and air out your conflicts? Seek out and find such help, discretely or openly as you see fit.

Remember, anyone can be a good guy, or so seem, when they're not upset, when nothing is going wrong, when everything is going their way, and conflict is absent. What you're really declaring (and, let's face it, aspiring towards, more than anything else) in circle is how you wish and will to be when the cards are down and things are difficult. How are you in conflict? How are you when upset? You don't have to be perfect. Even the Gods are not perfect, and they have broad tolerance and understanding for personal failings for all those who have demonstrated overall their merits and dedication to those values the Gods affirm as life-enhancing. If you're doing your work, you get a lot of credit, even if you slip up. If you're not doing your work, and have openly, with your actions if not your speech, declared that your life is dedicated to mayhem, do not expect a lot of help or understanding. It is your choices, and not your rhetoric, that make your alliances. (And believe that those alliances will be scrutinized by the Gods in great detail : attend to your loyalties and associations.)

To invoke a cliche (but a good one) : don't talk the talk, walk the walk. Then you can talk. If people aren't walking the walk, you might want to ask whether they are in fact just bowing down before cartoon characters, because these Gods defend very particular values, and seek them in those who seek benefits. If that's hard, I'm sorry, but so is life.

The theodish have an official called the thyle whose official business is to act as a devil's advocate at ritual, and call into question any claim which doesn't seem to match the actual deeds of those speaking. The thyle is, therefore, the bullshit detector. It seems obvious to me that we need a lot more bullshit detecting in heathenism, whether centered in a particular official, or more generally and discretely exercised, because if the ritual is to have meaning, words and actions must be woven together in authentic ways, and people must be dedicated to actually working on the struggles which they declare and for which they petition aid.

I don't personally care whether you like me or not. I mean, it might be nice, and I might enjoy it if you did like me. But your liking me or not is not going to seduce me away from my real values. And whether you like me or not, whether you enjoy what I say or not, one thing you will see is that over time, on the whole, I am both dedicated and persistent to fulfilling those values I declare. I, like everyone else, have a lot of work to do, but I take that work very seriously. And I do in fact anticipate that over time that dedication will prove of value to those who authentically share the same values, regardless of their personal feelings of like or dislike towards me. That is, after all, what worth is all about, because it allows us to rise above the petty monkey politics. If the latter is all you wish, hey, why did Ask and Embla ever come down from the trees? Are you going to waste or flourish those soulful gifts the Gods once gave?

Even monkeys can chatter.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Njord, My Nuptials' Witness

O Northern Neptune,
my nuptials' witness,
many waved-hand benediction priest,
have seen and given declaration
to pronounce
wife, and wives, and ebb-pulled back bride.
I see her laced veil on thy curls.
O, great Father of the Restive Deep!
Longing is too long held in this sorrow-blistered breast!
I wish not to yearn for feasts, but feast!
Feed me, Fishmonger Proud!
Feed these unfed lips with such bounty
as thy lusty sea-loins know!
Sate me, O Sea O'ersurfeit!
Let me taste the satisfaction of fullness,
and I will fullest praise thy well-to-be-praised waves!
Rhythm of river's deepest sources,
basin of the very bosom of seas,
you ought know well these lips from praises seldom falter!
but fiercely seek the praise a wild heart might give!
Give me then love as might pregnant lie
within thy whale-homed belly of the brine!
The dreams of eat, however vivid, feed not
my fervent-seeking spirit.
Grant, O Grandfather of the Gem,
such issue Love create.

It Is For Lack Of Praise The City Falters

It is for lack of praise the city falters.
It is for lack of praise hearts do weary.
When folk together do not come to praise,
and therefore raise the holy powers, all the land
is vanish'd of its magic so far as the tribe's luck,
which ebbing, a mere minimum becomes
and all effort is strongest plied to vain,
with waste of greater remnant than is spent.
It is for laughing at these truths
the land becomes a net of tombs.
We are thieves if we silence what praise is due,
and thankgivings ought be daily.
Neglected cathedrals of sublime might,
shaped by living essences, surround us,
and they sustain the living power, sole to ask that we,
our poet power, art, creation, render back to them.
And if you laugh, the world laughs back sterility.
And if you mock, the world mocks back its might
supreme against your insect-taunts and squeaks.
Praise, pay up, paying the e'er-increasing
debt racked up by life imbibing up -- pay up, and praise.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Prayers For What Lies Outside The Battle

...Upp líta skalattu í orrostu ; gjalti glíkir verða gumna synir ;síðr þitt um heilli halir (Havamal 129), "Thou shalt not look up in battle --- the sons of men become like terrified swine --- lest you, hero, become bewitched." In the first Merseburg Charm, the idisi or disir of those in battle (who would be valkyries) are said, suma hapt heptidun, suma heri lezidun, "some fasten fetters, some hamper the army". This was a form of bewitching. If they looked up in battle, then their concentration would be broken, and they could become subject to the disir of the opposing side, who floated over the battle field.

This is a supernatural explanation for a set of proverbial truths : Keep your eye on the ball. Focus on what you are doing. It is when you take your focus off what should be holding your attention that you may be bewitched.

When you're in a battle, fight the battle. Keep your eyes ahead of you and about you, but don't look up and into the distance. If you don't remain focused, the anxiety may get the best of you and you may panic. Stay with the task at hand.

Which brings us to the following meditation : No prayers for what lies outside the battle.

What is the battle in your life right now? There will be a greater battle, which is the larger strategic realm you are trying to conquer, but there will be a smaller battle, which is the tactical terrain that right now you need to get through and overcome in order to be able to address the larger realm. We will call the first your war, and the second your battle.

Identify your battle, and direct all your prayers towards the completion of that battle. If you have correctly identified your battle, that struggle which is of greatest concern for you to overcome in your life right now, you should be offering up no other prayers but to accomplish this task.

Any "looking up" from this battle, any prayers directed to the heavens and to the Gods that are irrelevant to this struggle, will only serve to distract you, and quite likely to disorient you, and possibly to such a degree that you may lose your bearings and begin to panic.

It is when you lose sight of your primary goals that you may become bewitched or spell-bound, panicked but unable to move. You may find yourself paralyzed, stuck in position, because you're no longer focused on what you actually need to get done.

The Gods know what your battles are, and what your war is. They particularly know this because you have declared as such in sumble. In so doing, you have as good as asked them to further you in this task. And in doing this, you have as good as asked them to consider any other requests to be irrelevant, and they will follow suit. In other words, as a general guideline (which the Gods may set aside at will as they will), the Gods will neither hear nor heed those prayers which ask for things that lie outside the scope of the field of battle.

That's really something to contemplate, because it answers, or at least addresses and begins to answer, the question of why all prayers are not answered. If you haven't unlocked the power that belongs to you yet is locked down within that challenge you have yet to overcome, then you are approaching your life from a more helpless place than you need to be, and the Gods want to encourage your empowerment. Therefore, stop running around like a pig run scared, face your fears, and charge back into that battle which is calling you, the one where you stand some chance of success, and where winning will bring you greater power. If you aren't doing that, what are you asking for from the Gods? Trinkets? Amusements? Trivia? Let alone that which, beknownst or unbeknownst to you, out and out contradicts the goals of one's chosen battle? Will even prayers brook contradiction? Think deeply on this. If you ask for that which negates that for which you more strongly ask, what in fact are you asking? If your battle is to find health in your life, for example, and yet you ask for someone unhealthy for whom you pine, how will that affect your battle? Is that a prayer it would even be compassionate for the Gods to grant?

On the other hand, if there was indeed something small which you needed which would actually further you in the struggle, that could be a rational prayer, and one which might be answered. A man pausing in the heat of battle might just need a cold can of Coke, no matter how trivial that might sound, to get back into the thick of it. It's likely the Gods would not begrudge that one. And, once the battle was fought, the Gods certainly wouldn't begrudge a genuine request for shore-leave. But where would you be running off to before the fight is won? First things first.

Of course, if you don't know what your battle is, then your battle is to find your battle. Meditation, counsel, rune-casting, as well as a rational examination of one's greatest goals and obstacles in life ought to begin to make this clear. This battle to find one's battle may well be called a battle, because it is often not easy figuring out just what the struggle is. Once you've assembled the strategic picture, you want to ask yourself, "What struggle is winnable if I really apply myself to it, and which will bring me greater strength to fight the further battles I will need to win to reach my larger strategic goals?". Don't start with what's untackleable. Don't start with a battle which you could win, but which will leave you so weakened or disheartened that it will sap your strength for the battles ahead. Start small and choose appropriate battles which will slowly but steadily build your morale. Once you've done this, and identified the proper tactical field, apply yourself to it full steam ahead, and don't stop, appropriate rest periods aside, until you've reached your goal. And don't be surprised if lots of little things your easily-distracted mind thinks you want are denied you by the Gods if they are not related to the attainment of your goal, and the overcoming of your frustration. If you want to get an idea of what your needs rather than your greeds are, tally up what is absolutely necessary to tackle the issue ; anything beyond that is greed. Keep tackling the issue. You know what the issue is that you need to be tackling. It's most likely the one that you've been avoiding.

The Gods aren't there to collude in your avoidance. They're there to encourage you to step up to the plate. And if that plate is too intimidating as yet, then get yourself into some kind of training program which will prepare you baby-step by baby-step to get to that plate, because even such pre-plate training is a way of stepping up to the plate. Just do it.

You're welcome to stay in frustration as long as you wish. If you want to stay spell-bound, and therefore in the power of ill, that is your choice. Don't blame the Gods when things aren't going the way you like. The enchantments people most often fall into are those of Gullveig -- greed, angst, envy -- and Loki -- fraud, forswearing, slander, and strife-provoking. These are the ills to which we humans -- all-too-human as Nietzsche said -- are most often subject. Envy is one in particular that assails us when we are trying to be successful and fighting our battle, and it is particularly indicated by the Havamal verse in conjunction with its matching Merseburg Charm, because it is when we look up and behold the dis of another that we may become bewitched. The dis of another is the one guiding their fate (not yours), whether it is their personal or their family fate. It belongs to them. It is a property of their individual self or family. How often do we look up from the struggle that faces us and wish we were someone else, wish we had someone else's luck, wish we had the rewards or talents someone else had? Such vain wishes and empty fantasizings do not gain us one iota of strength to carry on the battle, and in fact, just drain and diminish our morale. It is therefore a vicious cycle which keeps us in frustration. An entire army may be hampered with such petty attempts to escape the matter at hand. A true prayer is about getting out of this rut.

A prayer for luck, therefore, ought to center on, "Give me the strength and opportunity to overcome the challenges I face at this stage in my development," because in actuality, it is often the blockages and knots we are tied in, and the ways we avoid challenges, that get in the way of our success. Human beings have multiple ways of avoiding their problems and refusing to face them head-on. Wishing for luck under these circumstances is asking for the problem to be solved without solving the problem. It is a logical contradiction. It is asking, "Exempt me from having to do the difficult and psychologically troubling work of working through this difficulty, and just give me the rewards." But rewards are the natural consequences of successfully working through the challenges unfolding out of one's unique developmental stage in life. Our "prayer", such as it is, is asking the Gods to do something that is inherently unhealthy (not to mention going against nature). It is asking them to collude in our disempowerment, and to enable us to remain stunted in our growth. It is asking them to foster dependence rather than healthy independence. And because they are strong, loving, health-and-whole-wishing Gods, they're not going to do that.

The Gods have made us free. We are therefore free to fuck up. We are free to stay locked in an unresolved situation as long we choose. We can remain in perpetual misery so long as we refuse to face up to our challenges. (But this is, as the Havamal verse implies, viewed as a form of ill enchantment.) Or we can get really honest and say, "I'm having a really hard time overcoming this difficulty, and I don't even know how to go about it. Can you send me some help, or direct me in the right way, that will increase my resources, and give me more effective tools for tackling this situation independently and successfully?". That's a prayer to which the ears of the Gods are especially attuned.

all translations copyright 2010 Siegfried Goodfellow

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Opportunity to Wyrd

Can you create something eternal? Can you summon an archetype from the nether?

Indeed, you can.

The Gods imbued us with their gifts. We have ond, we have odr. We have the awesome power.

I'm listening to Duran-Duran's The Chauffeur. I cannot imagine a time when this sparkling beauty did not exist.

And yet it did not pre-exist the 1980s.

This stunning, elfish gorgeousness, this must-be?

This must-be might not have been.

If someone hadn't set out to create.

This is a piece of beauty this world never knew.

It is a real bringing in of something from nothing. It is a birth, a creation, a gift.

The absolutely real opportunity to adorn this world with beauty, with grace, with love, with inspiration, with strength, with courage exists for each of us.

You may bring jewels here that never were before, yet after they are brought, are as if they could not never have been.

What an incredibly rich chance! Grab it! Grasp it! There are subtle glimmering beauties unseen surrounding you in the ether. Reach out to them, seek them out, touch them, take them in, and find some way to give them birth and form in this world.

For the world is ugly, remember, not only because of the presence of evil, but the failure of the creative to fully develop themselves and give forth their gifts. In fact, it might be said that the only real way that evil prospers is through the sabotage and muting of that very creative potential.

If you fail to wyrd, the whole world will be robbed of how you might have enlivened its deadening normality into something sparkling and alive. Such life smuggled into this world through gifts on loan from the Gods is something that makes a difference and ensures that there is still inspiration to go on, so that this world becomes a place of soul-making, and not of soul-breaking.

It doesn't happen under conditions of stagnation. This is why Odin stirs up with wod. A little turbulence is needed in lives that get too complacent, for they may lose their opportunity in their slumber.

Every one of you has something you may create -- from nothing, pure magic developed into art and craft -- that will bless this world, and smuggle beneath the giant's notice some sustaining beauty.

Even the smallest authentic beauty can make a difference in a life, or several lives.

Remember, what enlivens us now might not have been.

In fact, very easily might not have been.

Shakespeare's works were not inevitable. Lucas might not have made Star Wars. Gene Roddenberry could have stayed in the LAPD. Snorri could have left the writing down of the myths to someone else -- or no one.

It might be frightening, and is, to imagine a world where Shakespeare might not have been at all, nor any of the other crafters of beauty who make this often hard-edged life just a bit more bearable, but it is to restore the past to the fragility and fluidity of its contingency, its might-have-been-elsewise, had a choice been made different here or there. But that very uncertainty, the frightfulness of that slippery reality, is the excitement of this opportunity here in the present.

What do the Gods have in store for you? What potentials did your ancestors work hard to have the Norns weave in to your fatelines? What beauties wait to birth through you? This is a religious question.

Beauty is part of the battle! When you make yourself an incarnation for the Gods' creations, and allow that holiness to pass through you and bless all who will have it, you have become a potent weapon in the Gods' hands against the Giants!

Don't think so? Ever noticed how easy it is to destroy, and how difficult it is to create? How casual comes criticism and slander, and how steep the road to actually build and get something off the ground? Tripfalls are laid everywhere, it's painting in a minefield, dancing on a seismic fault. Many will give up this battle. Will you? You're going to have to work hard to bring this to fruition. Who stands in your way? What stands in your way? However formidable, intimidating, gargantuan they seem, do you remember that what blessing comes to be created through you comes from the Holy Gods?? Now, are you going to let that Giant win? I mean, maybe you're not going to win, it's never certain, and sometimes you don't know how you're going to get out of this mess or how you'll ever push through, but are you going to let that smelly, messy, disgusting lump of stupid Giant-flesh stand in the way of that which the Gods would intend? Come on, get back up on your feet, go back to the workshop, stare at the unfinished blueprints again, and roll up your sleeves.

See, we've got good work. It's good work. We don't know precisely the outcome, we only know that if Shakespeare had never sat down at his workshop and began pondering lines for his actors, well, literature, which is what feeds the soul in a difficult world, would now be tremendously impoverished. And so he stole back from that nothing which is the shrouding of the Giants' absconding to bring us treasures. So we get back into the workshop and sit down to our good work.

Because it's the opportunity.

The opportunity of our lives.


The knee-jerk anti-Christianity has gone too far in paganism, because paganism has lost its own image in the mirror. We've allowed Christianity to claim as its own much of what was originally ours. And I intend to correct it. By pissing off all the right people. So I'm going to speak in a way that may jar you at first, and I hope it does, because then that will make you think. Here goes :

Basically, heathenism is like a super-form of Christianity, with fists, with ferocity, with will, that will gangbust Paradise, by smashing all the monsters who stand in the way barring the gate.

We are real serious about confronting and overpowering evil.

The evil can cringe and cower behind the doctrines of forgiveness they hope will shelter their weaseling.

We see through such bullshit. The deeds speak for themselves. If there is anything redeemable, the Gods will know.

This is the battle we are fighting. There are forces for Good in this world, that sustain its holiness and numinosity. And then there are forces intent on tearing it down, on corrupting and perverting everything they touch. And both forces are very real.

And it is no joke to us which side you choose to support.

Oh, we don't really care what you call it. We're polytheists, after all.

But your deeds will speak. However you dress the symbolic ceremonial you offer on the altar, your deeds will speak loud and clear the true values you chose.

And if you are on the side of Fenris, Jormungand, Leikn, Loki, Angrboda, and all their kin --- and I mean this here in a real sense, not costume-play and little pseudo-Jungian pretend-games -- you are our enemy and you are going to lose.

That's not a promise from us.

It's a promise from our Gods.

No, unless you are really corrupted, your fate doesn't hang in the balance on every little mistake you might make. Get real. The Gods are not tyrants. The tyrants are the jotunn-forces who too often hold the day in this age. It's the overall texture of your life as measured and averaged over time through your deeds. We all make mistakes. We're all imperfect. The Gods know that.

But what do you do with your mistakes? Do you make good on them? Do you pick up and put your nose to the grind to make good on them and restore what holiness may have been lost? Anyone on a team might falter. Which team are you on?

Because of Christianity, this seems to have become a taboo topic, some element of our religion of which we should be embarassed.

Au contraire! We have no problem with the "evil" word. It's real, it's significant, and it is what we are battling. If that sounds too "primitive" to your urban ears, guess what? You've become corrupted by the pseudo-sophistication of those urban snares our ancestors called tombs. Odin advises us to be satisfied with a moderate amount of sophistication, not because he doesn't encourage endless development, but precisely because some kinds of sophistication forget their base, and lose touch with their roots. We are barbarians, after all. We're meddling-sophisticated, well-cultivated, benevolent, whole-loving, and holiness-serving barbarians, but we are not overrefined slaves who have lost their sense of the stakes, and what really matters. Once you've given up in life, and given your all over to the world-logic of empire, many things like "evil" begin to sound just a little too "simplistic" and "primitive" to your ears.

Wake up. There is evil in the world. It stems from all kinds of sources. But it is real, and it is to be fought.

"But -- but -- that's dualistic!"

You're damn right. And something to be proud of. Because it matches common perception. Look around. There's some things in this world that ain't right. Trust your gut and your heart. Not all the sophistication in the world is going to convince you (unless you are the thrallish type and easily duped) that everything's ok and ought to be affirmed. Hell no!

Some are too caught up in Nietzsche's idea that this world must be affirmed, as he tried to fight what he saw as the "anti-worldly" attitude of Christianity.

Hang on, wait a minute. He accepted the idea that there is "a" world. Where is this world? I see many different things. And some of them are good. And some are bad. Am I to affirm what is bad in the name of some synthetic "world" that is but a sloppy synthesis carelessly borrowed in opposition from some conception of Christianity? We need not be world-affirming because there is no "world". There is a domain the Gods have blessed and shaped, and that is called Midgard. And then there is another place, barren, and fit only for misshapen creatures, and that is called Jotunheim. And they are not, or should not be, the same place. This globe, however, that is the beautiful birthright estate of our Beloved Mother Earth, is at present hodge-podge criss-crossed with a shifting quilt pattern of Midgard and Jotunheim, two different domains, requiring precisely opposite allegiances from us.

Let's clarify, making sure we aren't being narcissistic here. We aren't judging the world by our standards. There's many different creatures living on this planet, and so we have to live in a kind of dynamic compromise and set of implicit treaties that allow ecosystems to grow, thrive, and sustain themselves. It is Mother Earth's estate, after all, and she is fond of her many creatures. (Although as our cousins the Indo-Iranians indicate, however, some arch-heathens did believe that some segment of the creatures had already been subject to deformation and corruption, and had lost some of their original wholeness. Tics come to mind!) But evil is precisely what has broken and will continue to break those implicit treaties, stretching all excess out of proportion, holding sacred nothing of Mother Earth (nor any of the other holy Gods, for that matter).

There is a whole hell of a lot that is still holy even in this very-corrupted world. Go into the center of a forest grove. Go down to the ocean by the moonlight. These will show you glimpses of how things might be, how they were intended, the beauty, sublimity, balance, and sense of fitting in to all this. But there is still much, unfortunately, in what is erroneously called "the" world, that is not holy.

"But wait ... wait ... what you're saying doesn't quite fit in with my modern understanding of ecological environmentalism or skeptical atheism."

Yah. Your ancestors didn't fashion this to just perfectly mold with whatever modern idea you might come up with. And you might have to decide. Is it more important to you to make sure you're modern, or to attune to the spirituality of your ancestors?

See, there's a distinctly modern bias towards entrenched cynicism and rank materialism which sees all spirituality as little else but "metaphor" with no real force behind it. And if it's all nothing but metaphor, like a currency with nothing to back it up, then it's really all pretend-games anyway, and you can do whatever you want. But that's not the spirituality of our ancestors.

We're serious about Golden Age politics of spirituality. This is all culminating in the Return of Baldur, and you'd better not forget it. We are not foot soldiers in the army of the jaded who blush at speaking openly about the "Golden Age", because it seems so, well, yesterday and unrealistic. Fuck your realism ; it's nothing but a slavish mentality bowing down to the jotnar of this world, and we will fuck up that reality in the name of something holy and good that is not as deadeningly unimaginative as you are.

Does that seem too "goody-good" for your jaded modern ears? Motherfucker, we've got hammers, we've got axes, we mean business about this Good stuff.

Now we know that in the Axe Age we are not going to get to live Golden Age conditions, but we do not for that reason give up. No, we develop every attainable good that can be attained so that the conditions will be right in the ground for the Return. And we don't live our whole lives as warriors. Much of the time we are farmers, just trying to make a living, put some food on the table, and find some time after all that is done to enjoy ourselves. And yep, we make some mistakes in the process. How does it end up in the wash? Other times we are wizards, artists, poets, creating beauty directly from the mind, summoning up intelligence, beautifying a world which has already grown too ugly. (There I go myself calling this a "world". Let's just use the Axe-Age name for it : Valland, the Land of Many Battles, the arena of struggle between Midgard and Jotunheim.) Just because we will or may not in this lifetime see Golden Age conditions does not mean we stop believing in them. No, we are guardians of that which shall return, in whatever small snippet of holiness we have the honor to ward and cherish. We are holders of potent seeds. And it is that Golden Age we live towards.

"But ... but ... isn't that just the postponing of true living Nietzsche was talking about?"

Come on, who "truly lives" in Valland under these conditions? We are in unspeakable struggle. Forces vie for the very face of the planet. Pretending like there is no struggle under such circumstances is mere foolishness. But it does not negate the struggle that we live towards the Victory.

For in living towards the Victory, we taste some of that victory in our lives today. We are ourselves itself extended out and backwards dispersed through time, awaiting its own gathering. And that is worthwhile and meaningful. In whatever little ways we can gather victories in our lifetimes, and it can often be meagre under conditions where the entire playing board has been tilted all to hell, we are tasting and gathering victories to culminate in that final victory.

This structure, see, isn't original or exclusive to Christianity. It is, if anything Zoroastrian, which is but a reformed version of Iranian Indo-European heathenism. And Zoroaster (or whomever, utilizing a traditional figure) only had to reform the religion when corruption had raised itself to such a level that it had begun penetrating into the priesthoods such that worship of truly evil forces had begun to spread itself on a cultic level. (Worship Fenris and other so-called "Rokkr", anyone?) Zoroastrianism is still full-flung polytheism. All the Gods under the Chief God fight the Iranian concept of the jotnar and thurs.

Don't begin by looking at Christianity and then saying, we need to mold our thing in the opposite direction, because Christianity preserves through various pick-ups along the way, a good deal of the Indo-European dualistic structure. It is in nuances that we must pick our battles with Christianity. It is in the fine details of the battle-lines, and the acceptable tactics. And when we realize how close we are to aspects of Christianity, and yet so far, then we will become a real threat, because then we will be close enough to be a heresy, and then we will turn and say, no, brother, you are the real heresy, but you are welcome back in the fold if you'll put aside your exclusivism and practice some tolerance. We promise you we won't make you worship demons. (We're fighting them!) So long as you don't have the stupidity and discourtesy to insinuate that our Gods are demons! Learn a little discrimination. And then perhaps we can bring our little prodigal brother back into the family.

Think about it.

A Final Victory Over Suffering

LaSara Firefox says, "Suffering is inexhaustible; I vow to extinguish it."

That is a warrior's vow. It is full of the immeasurably benevolent defiance that characterizes our Gods.

And it is precisely what the Gods intend and are planning.

The idea that suffering is inevitable is a crock of shit, and our Gods intend to smash that crock to smithereens.

Some people think Ragnarok is some sort of "grim" and "dark" idea.

Bullocks. It's going to bring Baldur back to rule. Do you even get what that means? Baldur is going to rule!

And all of you who have given your hearts and souls over to the deceit and lying and cheating and slander of Loki, and the greed, fear-mongering, and raging hatred of Angrboda will be manure for the World-Tree.

See, 'cuz here in Norse religion, we don't accept that the monstrous is inevitable. Oh, challenge we like. There'll still be challenge in Baldur's world. But it won't be the kind that crushes you. The kind that crushes the spirit out of you, your kin, and your people. No, it will be the kind that keeps pulling you on to improve and discover everything you and the universe can be.

We're not about consolation, which is something both Christianity and lazy atheism offer : hey, suffering is inevitable, so let us comfort you.

Fuck that!

Is that what Thor's hammer stands for? No way!

It means, Even giants can be smashed!

So why don't the Gods just wrap the whole thing up now?

Well, evil has had time to seed itself and proliferate, and build its forces. So the Gods are building their forces. You see, they play to win.

Ragnarok is not a tragedy.

It is a comedy.

In the old sense of the word. It ends in victory.

But there are other reasons. The Ahriman-forces of Loki and his kin must be allowed to fully develop, so that when he serves his fated role and leads them to the battlefield, they will all be present, where they can then all be defeated, and the world will be rid of all such ill.

And don't try to shove my ears full of bullshit like the "need" for there to be "both" good and evil in order for there to be balance in the universe. Grow up. Don't you understand that ill is precisely the taking of events outside the balance? Good is the balance. Evil is that which constantly sabotages that balance, and thus takes things outside their wholeness.

There is yet another reason to not bring the whole thing to culmination just yet. That is love. The love the Gods have for this world, as messed-up as it is. There is still beauty to be had, and so long as the Midgard Serpent hasn't yet squeezed out every last opportunity for beauty, there are still treasures to be generated. "For the Gods so loved the world, they held back the final battle to allow it to ripen...".

There is a time in the struggle between Ahriman and Ohrmazd when Ahriman is given the upper hand, to spoil all he can. That is only part of the plan to gather up all into one head so that head can be guillotined.

In the meantime, we honor and venerate all that is still sacred, and has not yet been spoiled (or fully spoiled).

Think not that suffering, however overwhelming, is inevitable. Be a warrior. Vow to extinguish it.

That is, I think, akin to what the Einherjar swear.

And in the end, we will be victorious over all the perversions and corruptions of strength, talent, love, and joy that at present are so thick they often choke them out. And we will be victorious through strength, wisdom, and ferocity towards evil.

And if that sounds too Christian to your ears, tough shit.

It's actually a warrior's position. Are you fighting this war just to fight, or to win?