Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Heathen Community"? Posh! C'mon ...

I have a hard time believing that the heathen community wants to grow. Heck, I have a hard time believing that there even is such a thing as a heathen "community". Is there? It seems to me that there are just a bunch of hobbyists at best.

One thing of which I am certain : if there were a heathen community, and particularly one that wanted to grow, this blog would not be on the boondocks of the web, and would receive not only a lot more attention, but a lot more participation, because good things are being said and explored on this blog. And yet I feel most of the time as if I am shouting into the emptiness.

And if I write poetry, forget it ... no one will pay attention. This despite the fact that poetry was incredibly important to our ancestors. A good poem could land one an estate.

I have consistently worked to enrich our understanding of the Gods, and I have done it through inspiration grounded in rigorous research and close attention to the original sources and wellsprings of folklore.

This isn't a point of ego, although I well should have earned much more honor for my efforts than I have, but a much more important point ... when treasures are generally neglected, there is something wrong with a "movement". Or even more to the point, when a "movement" shows no movement at all, it is ... stagnating, which pretty much guarantees that the Master of Wod, that quality of dynamis that is cracklingly intelligent turbulence, is going to leave it in the wayside of evolution's riptides, where it probably belongs.

This to me is such a shame it is hard to overlabor the point. There is an opportunity being missed here. Does anyone get that this is an incredibly powerful theology and beautiful inview on the cosmos? The way has might and grace and grandeur. And yet all I hear about in "the community" is either petty, petty politics, or silence, and I think ... the Gods don't seem to be lending much luck, and I wonder why.

Is this how you want it to go? The way of a fad, something not worth developing? Do you really want to get everything you can out of this, or is it just an excuse to be mentally and socially lazy?

There are literally hundreds of pages archived on this blog, full of rich and deep material, material that could become a springing board for further evolutions and discussions that might lead in a progressive direction.

Are you interested in those discussions? Are you interested in evolution?

I'm not by any means saying I am the only one pushing the envelope, but I am certainly one of them, and I often wonder why I am even bothering. The feedback is so seldom and sparse I question why I am pouring so much talent into all this. Of course I am doing so to honor the Gods. But there is the missing element of the Folk ... Where are the Folk?

Is there any reason for this blog to continue? Do you want it to continue? Is vivid imagery, careful argument, developed devotion, and exploration of difficult existential and social issues important to you? There are many fascinating topics and issues I would be inspired to tackle if I felt there was any interest at all to raise my level of inspiration.

Is there anyone out there at all?

38 Comments:

Blogger Sadist's magick said...

I'm here

5:38 AM  
Blogger Scrwtape said...

Ok, Ziggy, I'll comment. I read your post and your poetry every day, I have you on my RSS.

Much of what you say is interesting, some I've incorporated into some of the things I've done. I would love to engage in a conversation with you over a horn.

Recently, when someone was looking for heathen blogs on the Troth list yours was mentioned first, even before Berry Canote's.

Community is there, but often it *isn't* on-line. Here in the Midwest we are seeing a surge. We just had one of the largest heathen gatherings in the US, 270 folk. Much was gained from that gathering, and many connections made. Many Kindreds/groups are slowly building, establishing connections.

As one of the people, and leaders, of that building, I do read your stuff. I know that most could not fully grasp most of what you say. They are not stupid, simply ignorant as many of them are focusing on jobs, family, and squeeze in their heathenry as they can. Many are Blue Collar with education in practical areas, not like you and I with a lot of college education.

One of my primary jobs is to translate that stuff down into practical terms for the Folk. This is one of the reasons why I am respected as a Godhi for that ability.

Do you connect with other heathens? I don't see you on other forums, only this one. If you put your poetry on say heathengods.com (we have a poetry area) more attention would be garnered. Community is multi-directional.

I agree online "community" is filled with little more than hobbiest. However, heathenry isn't online it is thriving in the many gatherings that are happening. Inthe Midwest next year we are seeing just about one gathering every two months! With regular attendance of over 30-40 people. Faining, feasting, and Sumbeling together. They are also doing a lot of connecting, talking, bonding (especially the kids). So it's out there. Albeit, not in the numbers even I would like to see but it is growing ... however, with all the "noise" on the web ... you wouldn't know it.

So simply put, you are not talking into a vacuum. You have my email if you ever wish to discuss any topic lofty or otherwise. I'd recommend you look to one of the larger gatherings near you be it Pantheacon on the West coast, East Coast Thing, or here in the middle Lightning Across the Plains. There you will see the beginnings of community, very different communities but building something.

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am here. I am not heathen and thus not part of "the community," but I read your blog from time to time and do learn a lot from it. I enjoy your writing style, your perspectives. I doubt that is enough to combat what I'm sensing is massive frustration on your part, but when I read your post today I just wanted to check in and say, yes there is somebody out there. ~tara

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Kullervo said...

I'm not really a part of the "heathen community," so I don't know whether I count, but I most definitely read and give serious thought to what you write.

In particular, I appreciate that you write about practical theology, which is not something you see a whole lot of from polytheists on the web. I may not pray to the same gods as you, but I think your ways of talking about the gods are valid and important and worth considering for any polytheist.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Ceallaigh said...

I don't know either, and even in 'good' Heathen circles the conversation barely rises above an occasional discussion of the lore and how different (read 'better) Heathens are than all those Wiccatrus and Pagans and New Agers. Just the other day, I witnessed a discussion about whether or not Heathenry was even an earth-based religion, and the general consensus was that it was not (partly because that would mean Heathens were 'tree-huggers'). Now, I've been a Druid far longer than I've been Heathen, and my Druid self is a righteous, vegan tree-hugger who thinks that anything less than reverence for the planet in this generation might kill it in the next. So I was disheartened by that conversation.

I have loved and valued your blog for a few years now, but I understand your frustration too. I need to be where I can grow spiritually as well. If that's among Heathens, well and good. But if it's among Druids, or Buddhists, or whomever walks a straight and true path, then that's where I'll go.

Sigh...

8:15 AM  
Blogger Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Well, I'm not Heathen, and I'm not Folk, but I am Pagan. And I'm right here--though, admittedly, I've been kind of busy teaching school this fall, without very much time for commenting on blogs, or even writing on my own.

I know that there's some tension among Heathens on whether or not to stand under the same umbrella as Pagans. But, for what it's worth, you can stand under mine any time, because I recognize in what you are doing with this blog something like what I'm trying to do on mine: not write stuff that's focused on transitory political or local controversies, but rather on what I'd like to think is the heart of the Pagan--or Heathen--experience: living the spiritually rich life that's possible when we really pay attention to such things.

I consider you one of a handful of Pagan bloggers who seem at all able to do this. I treasure every one I find: Ali Shaffer at Meadowsweet and Myrrh, Ruby Sara over at Pagan Godspell... a handful of others.

I don't know why it is so difficult to get our people--for I do think of them as, in some important ways, one people--to pay as much attention to what it is like to love the gods as to what it is like to quarrel with another Pagan or Heathen, or the latest foolish thing someone like Christine O'Donnell had to say. But I think that, for whatever reason, some of us are out on the edge of the place where Paganism and Heathenry need to grow.

We'll have company, by and by. In the meantime, please don't feel that your words are wholly lost. They are read, and have real weight, by and for those who are ready to read them. And for people like me, at least, the scarcity of resources like yours makes this blog doubly precious.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

Siegfried, this blog is nothing short of astounding, but I for one am frequently intimidated into silence by your talent.

That, and something about it makes me feel like my own views are "wrong" compared to yours, but that might be my problem to work out. So I feel I don't have any right to comment back on anything, because I'm just an idiot, quite frankly. I can't match your level of discussion and I don't know enough to really get into a discussion anyway, etc.

Frankly I'd be deeply ashamed to have someone of your insane talent visit MY blog. I'd be so embarrassed at my humble, silly, trite offerings that I haven't wanted to comment with a link to my blog. I don't want someone like you to see how stupid I really am.

There's some feedback. What do you think now?

Aside from that, how many other blogs do you visit, leaving comments with a link back to your own blog? Do people KNOW your blog is here? Do you make it known to lots of people?

8:55 PM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

Oh, and on a more practical level: I find the color choice to be a strain on the eyes. Not your problem, I know, but maybe other eyes also find it a strain as well.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should put together a book of your articles on here in one section and your poetry in another. I love your thoughts, but I just don't say much cause I agree with you. I also stumbled on here and I don't see you "pushing your product" on any e-mail lists or forums.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, really? First off, there are certainly Heathen communities though a community at large is kind of silly. That would be like lumping Baptists and Catholics together and calling them a Christian community. It just doesn't happen like that. Secondly there are tons of poets and deeper thought on other websites and in magazines like Idunna. Sounds to me like your just having an ego-tantrum. Take a look at Odins-gift.com...great stuff.

10:29 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Hi! Just got back from a little vacation! Thank you everyone for responding! What a pleasant surprise! I really appreciate the feedback.

A few quick notes : I'm very pleased that what I am writing reaches beyond the wondrous, imaginal veil of Germanic mythology, to other Pagans. I do not personally buy into the strict separation between heathenism and paganism. In fact, at its most restrictive, all Indo-European paganisms ought at the very least speak to each other, and there is no need to limit the out-rippling concentricity to that edge, either. I believe we all ought be learning from each other, and am glad that this is happening. All who seek Spirit and all who seek Honor are at least potentially my allies. Is not this struggle we live a God(s)-infused world?

2:50 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

As per the suggestion to put my articles into book form, that is in progress. It's merely a matter of organization and of getting my damn Adobe PDF converter to work! I'm glad that's something that is desired, and it is something that will be produced.

I do post what I consider to be better articles at delicious.com, which is picked up by metapagan. I'm not sure if "pushing my product" is really my style, but I certainly would like to "herald the sharing", if that makes any sense, and any suggestions as to appropriate forums, as some have given here, is appreciated.

As to the idea that I am having an "ego tantrum", that is permitted if true, but it might better be seen as the tapping upon the rostrum to see if anyone in the audience is awake!

I think Baptists and Catholics DO make up a larger Christian community. The problem as always is that sectarianism divides and separates. This is Loki in action as ever. Caesar indicates that the ancient Germans were so concerned about factionalism that they structured unifying elements into their very economic laws to ensure against it. "United We Stand ; Divided We Fall."

By the way, as a Heathen, I am DEFINITELY a "tree-hugger", and little hint here : so is Odin! In fact, I can sum up the entirety of the mythic epic's struggle in one terse phrase : "Save The Tree".

(Glad to see there are fellow vegans following me as well, although people of all dietary choices are welcome.)

"I understand your frustration too. I need to be where I can grow spiritually as well. If that's among Heathens, well and good. But if it's among Druids, or Buddhists, or whomever walks a straight and true path, then that's where I'll go."

Well said. We are encouraged to wander and go a'viking, and this is good, but yet there still should be spiritual growth within the heathen community. I could almost gloss "wod" AS "spiritual growth". It is the dynamic impulse of evolution itself which drives on form to its own surpassing. Some forget what it means to have a Chief God who is the Master of this quality of becoming.

2:51 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

Cat, you say you are not Folk. What do you mean by that? How do you see Folk, and why do you consider yourself outside it? (I am hoping that the Volkish have not entirely destroyed the populist (and I might add original) meaning of "folk", which should sound to one's ears less like "ethnic specificity" and more like the Jeffersonian "the People".) We might even see "the Folk" as those who know themselves as the Children of the Earth. We all are, after all, but not everyone so acknowledges.

(Which, by the way, I find the idea that heathenism is not an "earth-based religion" to just be a bizarre, bizarre concept. Mother Earth is so central to the tradition it's very difficult to know where such protests are coming from. Of course there are other elements and valences, but even from a warrior angle, I've tried to emphasize again and again that random mayhem and carnage are characteristics of jotnar, and that a warrior, to have meaning, must be fighting for something that has meaning, and what more meaning than this Earth upon which we live and in whose arms we rapture and prosper?)

Someone complained that I have not further debated the issue of Loki and the idea that one must be "morally worthy" in order to worship. I don't know about the "moral" part, as that has several different connotations, but I do think ethics is an integral part of spiritual growth, and approach to the Holy Powers. That doesn't mean one has to be a "goody-good" in order to approach the altars, for after all, we all have our faults, and we all are just bumbling primates with growing brains trying to figure out what it all means, but on the other hand, you still have to be Striving to Make something of yourself, and give back to this world. Doing an Ethical Inventory AS WELL AS a Creative Inventory (what are you inventing / bringing into being) is an important part of this process.

I loved this line : "the heart of the Pagan--or Heathen--experience: living the spiritually rich life that's possible when we really pay attention to such things." Yes.

"They are read, and have real weight...". Thank you. That means a lot.

"I can't match your level of discussion and I don't know enough to really get into a discussion anyway, etc."

Let me just say : Questions are the Holy Innocence with which we enter the Chapel of Knowledge. I hope that my entries strike more as ponderings and questions than anything else, and they are meant not to intimidate, but encourage a larger community of questioning.

I do need to mess with the color a little bit more to make it fun, but readable.

2:51 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

Cat, you say you are not Folk. What do you mean by that? How do you see Folk, and why do you consider yourself outside it? (I am hoping that the Volkish have not entirely destroyed the populist (and I might add original) meaning of "folk", which should sound to one's ears less like "ethnic specificity" and more like the Jeffersonian "the People".) We might even see "the Folk" as those who know themselves as the Children of the Earth. We all are, after all, but not everyone so acknowledges.

(Which, by the way, I find the idea that heathenism is not an "earth-based religion" to just be a bizarre, bizarre concept. Mother Earth is so central to the tradition it's very difficult to know where such protests are coming from. Of course there are other elements and valences, but even from a warrior angle, I've tried to emphasize again and again that random mayhem and carnage are characteristics of jotnar, and that a warrior, to have meaning, must be fighting for something that has meaning, and what more meaning than this Earth upon which we live and in whose arms we rapture and prosper?)

Someone complained that I have not further debated the issue of Loki and the idea that one must be "morally worthy" in order to worship. I don't know about the "moral" part, as that has several different connotations, but I do think ethics is an integral part of spiritual growth, and approach to the Holy Powers. That doesn't mean one has to be a "goody-good" in order to approach the altars, for after all, we all have our faults, and we all are just bumbling primates with growing brains trying to figure out what it all means, but on the other hand, you still have to be Striving to Make something of yourself, and give back to this world. Doing an Ethical Inventory AS WELL AS a Creative Inventory (what are you inventing / bringing into being) is an important part of this process.

2:52 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

I loved this line : "the heart of the Pagan--or Heathen--experience: living the spiritually rich life that's possible when we really pay attention to such things." Yes.

"They are read, and have real weight...". Thank you. That means a lot.

"I can't match your level of discussion and I don't know enough to really get into a discussion anyway, etc."

Let me just say : Questions are the Holy Innocence with which we enter the Chapel of Knowledge. I hope that my entries strike more as ponderings and questions than anything else, and they are meant not to intimidate, but encourage a larger community of questioning.

I do need to mess with the color a little bit more to make it fun, but readable.

Screwtape, thank you for your extended commentary. It is greatly appreciated, particularly from someone of your standing and achievements. A conversation over a horn would be good. The last time we were in such proximity was TrothMoot 2002. Gods, I have got to get back up to Big Sur again. It is so damn beautiful.

I am furthermore honored that my words were recommended to people on the Troth list. The Troth is an organization for which I have a great deal of respect.

Glad to hear the gathering went well and that more in-person events are occurring.

"One of my primary jobs is to translate that stuff down into practical terms for the Folk."

Well, if you have any requests for Cliff's Notes on any of my articles or poems, I'd be glad to write them or collaborate. I'm also always glad to provide a glossary. I neither know nor assume the level of knowledge or familiarity of anyone visiting.

I don't tend to frequent forums very much, for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that I wish to avoid strife, and particularly online discussions often degenerate into open strife. Forums often assume a foolish equality of opinion, when it is obvious that there are some who have given deeper thought to a subject, and in person, probably would be given such (appropriate and humble) deference.

I'd love to post on heathengods. Let me know about your submission policies.

Everyone : thank you for your encouragement!

2:52 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

I loved this line : "the heart of the Pagan--or Heathen--experience: living the spiritually rich life that's possible when we really pay attention to such things." Yes.

"They are read, and have real weight...". Thank you. That means a lot.

"I can't match your level of discussion and I don't know enough to really get into a discussion anyway, etc."

Let me just say : Questions are the Holy Innocence with which we enter the Chapel of Knowledge. I hope that my entries strike more as ponderings and questions than anything else, and they are meant not to intimidate, but encourage a larger community of questioning.

I do need to mess with the color a little bit more to make it fun, but readable.

2:53 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Screwtape, thank you for your extended commentary. It is greatly appreciated, particularly from someone of your standing and achievements. A conversation over a horn would be good. The last time we were in such proximity was TrothMoot 2002. Gods, I have got to get back up to Big Sur again. It is so damn beautiful.

I am furthermore honored that my words were recommended to people on the Troth list. The Troth is an organization for which I have a great deal of respect.

Glad to hear the gathering went well and that more in-person events are occurring.

"One of my primary jobs is to translate that stuff down into practical terms for the Folk."

Well, if you have any requests for Cliff's Notes on any of my articles or poems, I'd be glad to write them or collaborate. I'm also always glad to provide a glossary. I neither know nor assume the level of knowledge or familiarity of anyone visiting.

I don't tend to frequent forums very much, for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that I wish to avoid strife, and particularly online discussions often degenerate into open strife. Forums often assume a foolish equality of opinion, when it is obvious that there are some who have given deeper thought to a subject, and in person, probably would be given such (appropriate and humble) deference.

I'd love to post on heathengods. Let me know about your submission policies.

Everyone : thank you for your encouragement!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Siegfried:
Thanks so much for your extensive response here. It's great to feel like there's a dialog in process--I know I feel that way on my own blog, and I'm always a bit disappointed with posts that get no (or even one or two) comments. (Which is one reason I have a web counter at my blog--I love seeing that I'm getting hits even when I'm not seeing comments. I need to feel like there's somebody out there when I write.)

I said that I'm not "Folk" because in recent years, I've been seeing more and more touchiness among Heathens about who they are willing to stand next to. Theodism, Heathenry, Asatru... from the outside, while there are some evident differences, it seems odd that there is so much boundary-drawing even between members of these groups: Heathens who don't think of Asatru as "really Heathen" for instance.

I just don't know what to do with that kind of stuff, so I stand off to one side and let the dust settle. My avoiding the word "Folk" was a way of not getting into anybody's line of fire on that one!

I have no attachment to the word "Folk," and I would not claim to be Heathen. But I certainly do feel a kinship with the Heathens I have known over the years. If they're willing to recognize me as family, that is. Otherwise... hey, I don't need to go to anybody's family reunion where I'm not welcome, you know? *grin*

As one of the founders of MetaPagan, I would say you use it very much the way we hoped it would be used. I know of one Pagan--one!--who consistently abuses that resource, posting EVERY. SINGLE POST. she ever writes to the feed. We've asked her not to... she apparently doesn't know how to respond to mere politeness, and anything more would make it harder for legitimate users to post, so we've looked the other way on it.

But most, like you--like me, for that matter--either post favorite blog posts they find elsewhere, or just their own very best posts or posts most interesting to a wider Pagan audience. I'm grateful for your self-posting; it means I see you more quickly.

Finally, and most importantly (to me): You mentioned Odin as a tree hugger, and your own sense of the importance of environmentalism to a committed Heathen spiritual life.

Could you write further on that topic? I am sometimes driven to the brink of despair by a kind of narrowing world view I see among many reconstructionist Pagans/Heathens: it's as if, if a Wiccan or a Christian has ever said that a particular thing is good to do, there's a stripe of Recon who needs therefore never to do it, for fear of being thought too Wiccan or Christian.

And since, you know, Wiccans and Christians have been known to do a number of good things on occasion (like cook pork sufficiently not to expose the diner to trichinosis, or adopt animals from animal shelters) it does mean that there's a segment of the Pagan community that is at risk of standing, increasingly, for nothing much beyond self-interest.

I remember it did not used to be this way. When I hear members of our wider community rejecting things like kindness or mercy, because those virtues are esteemed by Christians, or environmentalism because Wiccans think the earth is sacred (and therefore self-respecting Recons don't?) I find it hard not to pull out my hair by the fistful.

I don't think I'll look very good bald. So maybe you could post on the subject?

4:03 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Sure. I'll brew on that one for a bit ; working on a post about the Creation of the World at present.

Where to begin? How about with the Eddic heathen poem Grimnismal :

35. Yggdrasil's ash | great evil suffers,
Far more than men do know;
The hart bites its top, | its trunk is rotting,
And Nithhogg gnaws beneath.

This is Odin talking. Note the concern in his voice for the World-Tree. Right there is demonstrated All-Father's concern for the Tree.

Further, the Tree is named "Ygg's Drasil" (Yggdrasil), "Odin ("Ygg" or Awe)'s Horse". Drasil means that which draws, drags, or carries. The Tree literally means "That Which Carries Odin". It is thus of central importance.

Moreover, the Sacred Groves were of utmost importance to All Indo-European (and beyond) pagans, particularly to the Germanic heathens.

Mother Earth was called "Beloved" and was Odin's wife.

I'll try to assemble this together, but what makes it difficult is how damn obvious it is, and how obtuse anyone would have to be to miss it. How do you argue that it rains? It just rains!

Kneejerk antiChristianity is stupid because it ignores the overlap between SOME elements of Christianity and SOME elements of Heathenism, and these elements do not require refusal or negation, but qualification as to their specifically heathen nuance. Otherwise, a great deal of the tradition is thrown out. Christianity, after all, is Zoroastrified Judaism becoming more Zoroastrified as it pulls in Osiris-Adonis into its Isaiah-midrashed scriptures, and Zoroastrianism is merely reformed Indo-Iranian Paganism, and probably one of the closest IE strands to Germanic heathenism, besides the Rig-Vedic heathenism.

Anti-Wiccan stuff is just general snobbery by people who think they "do their homework" but in fact are often as ignorant as the common Llewellyn pulp reader. (And the slander against Llewellyn is too uncritical : not everything they put out is bad.)

What does need to happen is an intelligent SORTING of New Agedom from Genuine Paganism. There is some genuine overlap there, but much of New Agedom is an odd form of barely-secularized Christianity called "New Thought" that has very, very little in common with the hard if inspired realism of paganism.

There may also be some ill-deserved snobbery on the part of some heathens towards those who utilize Creativity in their approach to the Divine, and instead demand Absolute Conformity (to what has already been done). Of course, I think a historical sense and a dedication to truth is necessary. But there are many rigorous Wiccans just as there are spurious Heathens.

As far as the divisions go, this is just FAU (Factionalism As Usual), otherwise known as SNAFU, a trademarked product of Loki and Angrboda. It really oughtn't be taken seriously, mainly because it hardly merits any serious attention. Rolling your eyes might be the best it merits. Identity politics on the basis of strife is just foolishness.

I think Folk should be returned to its meaning of People. It is definitively NOT equivalent to "Family". Coming to a folk festival (or somesuch) is not like coming to a family reunion ; it is like going to a 4th of July event. We are the People because we (to varying degrees) revere the Constitution, regardless of our creed, etc. Similarly, in paganism, there are various commonalities we recognize despite our denominations, yet we are still all the Folk.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Hi Siggy,

I LOVE your writings...but truth be told, I actually find the web design of your blog to be very user unfriendly and in fact hard to read (mostly due to the colour scheme). So I don't spend nearly as much time here as I'd like cause it kinda hurts my eyes and brain. I think you'd get more traffic if this weren't the case - I know that redoing my blog/website, www.elhazablaze.com, has made a big difference in our traffic...

But every time I come here I see stuff I want to ask you if we can run in Hex Magazine...there _is_ Heathen community, but its odd, and disjointed, and a lot of it is rubbish. But let's not throw out the gold with the dross, eh? There's also beauty, and fragility, and passionate humanity.

7:23 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Hi Henry,

Thank you so much for the encouragement!

I DO need to work on the color ; it's something several people have mentioned. I'll get to work on it. Any suggestions?

I am indeed remembering the humanity, fragility, and beauty, thank you. Sometimes the cold of the year and standing beneath the stars reminds one of the importance of frith with the folk. :)

1:29 AM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

Oh, and Siegfried, with regards to this:

heathenism is not an "earth-based religion" to just be a bizarre, bizarre concept. Mother Earth is so central to the tradition it's very difficult to know where such protests are coming from.

I think I have brought that up before, and perhaps I should make my meaning more clear.

I've seen a lot of pagans of various stripes get REALLY PREACHY and self-righteous and sanctimonious about ecological matters, skating very close to saying "if you don't worship Mother Earth, you aren't a REAL pagan" and that squicks me. Since when was there a pagan Pope that determined who is and is not a real pagan? I thought pagans were pagans (and in a lot of cases, EX-Catholics) to GET AWAY from that kind of dogmatic thinking. Or is it ok as long as THEY are the ones establishing dogma?

Beyond that, I do not think it does paganism justice, to say that it is strictly an "earth based" religion. Many of the "eco-Nazis" demonize modern culture and modern conveniences, like antibiotics and flush toilets and good dentistry and higher education and the arts and various other things that we all partake of in the 21st century. But the arts and innovation are pagan as well! Come on - the pagan Greeks invented theatre! And philosophy! The Romans were champion engineers! Considering that the span of time that Christianity has occupied this planet is only 2% of all of recorded history, that means that the other 98% of history - and all the great inventions and thoughts and whatnot that came with that - was PAGAN!

So I don't see the need for pagans to prove how pagan they are by playing the "more Luddite than thou" game. That's just ridiculous. There is plenty of rom within paganism for the arts and civilization and all that as well. I wish pagans would stop demonizing civilization - that's dualism, and that's not healthy either.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. I have a friend who does not celebrate Thanksgiving because she thinks of it as "white folk massacre Indians Day". She's very into Native earth spirituality herself. Anyway, she took her two kids (early 20s kids) out for a picnic lunch near a beautiful natural spot somewhere in Florida. She took a picture of her two kids eating on a table near a lake, and her caption mentioned something about "may we all honor Mother Earth".

Problem is - in the picture, one sees her two kids eating Boston Market food they had purchased for this picnic, complete with PLASTIC BAGS, PLASTIC FLATWARE, PLASTIC PLATES, PLASTIC CUPS, PLASTIC BOWLS AND LIDS, etc.

Yet this woman wants to lecture people on being eco-friendly.

Better to not be hypocritical about it and do something like this, eh?

3:06 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Hi Tracie,

Thank you for bringing up some very valid points. As pagans, we are still dealing with the detritus of Christian ways of going about things. 

There is no Mosaic law on the specifics of our relationship to Mother Earth in heathenism. We do not have recourse to Moses' encounter with the divine. We must make that encounter ourselves.

In order to do so, we ought prepare ourselves. The first place a heathen looks to is the past : history. If you'll examine my latest post you'll see I've tried to lay out the history of the Indo-European practice of setting aside sacred groves. This was done by imperfect, often stressed peasants, likely as a response to historical mistakes that led to resource depletion. Thank the Gods that from time to time even we bumbling humans pick up the learning curve. The modern equivalent of this would be to support nature reserves. That's a beginning. The corollary of this is to note the reciprocity between "civilization" and the wild, which is more primary and thus more holy, and within which the arts must fit themselves.

6:08 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

This brings us to the next resource a heathen taps : the lore. In the epic saga, we have a tale of Craft when it served the Gods and their Holy Order, and when it fell out of line. The latter was disastrous to the world. I refer to the epic of Weland The Elf-Smith and the Fimbulwinter. This should provide food for thought, and lends proper balance and proportion to the role and place of technology and craft.

Now in all of this, these are only guidelines. Odin tells Loddfafnir, "I counsel you, and this counsel will be good if you will take it, useful if you will get it"'. It's a rede, not the spelled out ramifications. The Gods know we are intelligent, and entrust us to apply their guidance to the individual situation facing us. This means there may be a certain impoliteness in one person aggressively pressing their particular solution upon another. Their fault is not necessarily in their choices or the example they make, but the courtesy or lack thereof with which they communicate with others. We can take the good and scold the bad.

With that said, what I think is imperative in heathenism is to HAVE a relationship with Mother Earth. It IS a duty, as I see it, to cultivate an Encounter with her, and moreover, to blot (sacrifice) to her. No one else can or should do this work for you. No one can tell you what will happen in that encounter. No one can tell you what you must sacrifice. Only you can make these decisions through the Encounter. And no one can demand a Monotheistic devotion to Her. Your devotion will take place within the complex pattern of balance and harmony you have struck with the other Holy Powers. What heathenism can tell you is that if your seeking is sincere, and you do make the Encounter, you will find that She is indeed a Living Presence with whom you can commune. What happens next is wyrd, weird, unpredictable. Only you can honestly assess whether your soul-sharing has been sincere. Only you can do inventory on your life and weigh the balances of your choices against devotion to Her and the other Holy Powers.

6:09 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

Your friend's polemics could be a provocation into deeper relationship with Jord, from which you may be able to develop humor about the bumbling immaturity with which we all commence our devotion to Mother Earth and the other long-neglected Holy Powers. Some of her solutions may have validity, and others may be too programmatic : instead of beginning by opening her heart to Jord and then listening to what happens, she may have felt the first inklings of pull or draw towards Jord, without having fully cultivated the relationship. Programmatic answers themselves can be a shield against actual encounter.

Since Weland crafted many wonders for the Gods in the yoredays before the Sundering of the Elves, Craft clearly has a place within the tradition, within good proportion. Nevertheless, as warning and not as prohibition, we ought note and heed according to our own intelligence the caution of the Germanic ancestors, who said that cities were "tombs surrounded by snares". They were also seen as the inhabiting places of giants. They therefore have a tendency to move out if proportion to which we ought be very wary. There is no prohibition: any hero may go into a lair of monsters at his or her own peril and reward. What follows is that the Gods may not be able to give as much protection in the homelands of their enemies. It is our choice. Of course, villages and habitations are customary, as is craft. Let's not slander the Luddites either, though: they were not against craft ; they were against the imposition of certain kinds if authoritarian craft intended to subordinate their autonomy. Strictly speaking, even the Amish are not anti-craft. I'm not suggesting we live like the Amish, but their principle of balancing innovation with community values is a wise one from which we can all learn and benefit. We will not come to the same conclusions, of course, but the process of applying the principle with a sense of open-minded inquiry could be beneficial.

6:10 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

(continued)

We each make our choices, and we each have our failings. Odin cautions the fool who forgets his or her own mistakes to always see the faults of others. We are all tangled in contradictions, and it is the integrity with which we struggle to resolve those contradictions that speaks to our honor.

Thank you for your excellent points.

6:11 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

One more note : some rede on my part. I would suggest, as I do in Wyrd Megin Thew, that part of devotion to Jord is the unfolding and cultivation of Biophilia. This value ought act as a check and balance on other values. All in balance, all according to Divinity speaking within you, according to how you have or have not cultivated relationship.

6:20 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Specific notes:

I see nothing incompatible between antibiotics, dentistry, and the furtherance of ancient leechcraft (medicine) if applied in balance.

I do think compost toilets of some kind is the wave of the future, and personally have always found it bizarre that we pollute our own water. That seems strange to me. The "Humanure Handbook" addresses this question quite well.

Pesticides, which you do not mention, I think personally, are out of the question. They are biocidal poisons that directly contradict the value of Biophilia.

It would be interesting to have a Heathen Synod of sorts to discuss these kinds if questions. It would carry no authority beyond it's own prestige, but might form a good guide foe mutual inquiry. Personally, I'd attend, and I would also be very interested on reading and debating the published findings.

Here's how I imagine this question might be addressed:

1. Pesticides are biocidal and therefore contradictory to devotion to Jord.

2. Objection: But in Indo-European religion, particularly as cultivated by our Indo-Iranian brethren, there are some classes of beings who qualify as pests whom it is beneficial to kill.

Granted.

3. Counter-objection : But it is not permitted to implement a solution that causes more problems than it solves. Biocidal substances hurt beneficial creatures as well, including humans. Their use as pest control therefore cannot be recommended.

4. Counter-counter-objection: This may be true, but in heathenism we cannot tell others what to do. It must, on principle, develop out of their own Encounter with the Divine.

Granted.

5. Answer: that is why it is phrased as a recommendation. A heathen must adjucate any recommendation for themselves based on both logic and intuition. Socially, heathens ought encourage their fellows to examine and debate recommendations. We are confident that the logic within our recommendation is impeccable enough as to be strongly convincing to anyone who faces the question seriously. That a heathen seriously consider rede is customary.

And so forth.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

I find it hard to have what I think most pagans would call an acceptable relationship with Jord because I live in an apartment.

I'm also not wealthy, not by any stretch of the imagination. Therefore I cannot heed the Holy Word of those who would tell me that I must eat only organic, locally produced vegetable foods (no meat). I shop at places where I can afford what I can afford, and if that means Wal-Mart, then so be it (and that means clothing as well as food and household items).

I know - I am a tremendous sinner in terms of any kind of pagan walk. There is no forgiveness for demonic, unrepentant heretics like me. So I should just give up and return to the Christian fold.

Just some food for thought.

2:03 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Oi vey! You certainly don't think I'm joining into that imagined condemnation-chorus, do you?

I'm writing this to you right now from an apartment. I'm looking out the window at trees. My spirit stretches down through the fit together steel, wood, and plaster taken out of Her womb, down to Her. I look out at the tomb surrounded by snares, but I am not one of it's zombies. In a crack of the pavement I see her. In the blue sky I see her lover. Through the asphaltum that the Tongva used to line their water baskets with I feel Her awaiting the city's awakening.

100 years ago all food was organic. There is no shame in not having wealth. You personally are not responsible for the giants who poison Frey's fields with venom. You must eat. What you must decide is what to do with your loyalty and voice. Will you pledge allegiance to the Giants, or to the Holy Powers? What will you speak for and what will you speak out against?

11:58 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Much of our world's shape is in the hands of our leaders, who seldom follow heathen values. No, they invite the Giants in!! If you can only afford to shop ay Wallmart so be it, but do not lose solidarity with your brothers and sisters in the sweat shops that make the goods you purchase. We are entangled in nets of contradiction, and we cannot untangle all of them. Sometimes what matters is what us in our hearts.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

I almost forgot to mention - much prefer the new colour scheme! My eyes thank you :)

11:34 PM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

New color scheme? It's still black on purple to me. And still kind of a strain on my eyes.

Anyway...

Siegfried, you said: "You certainly don't think I'm joining into that imagined condemnation- chorus, do you?"

No, but I just wanted to point out that there is a lot of sneering and looking down noses at people like me who don't live on a farm, who don't make everything I wear/own/eat, etc. I don't raise my own animals, I don't slaughter my own pigs for bacon, I don't collect eggs from my own chickens, I don't shear my own sheep for wool that I (can) spin into yarn and make into wearables.

I have to buy a lot of this stuff - and that means big trucks moving it from where it is farmed or sheared or made, to a retail location (like Michaels, where I get yarn for knitting & crocheting), where I buy it and do my wee part to stimulate the economy. :D

11:00 AM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

Also RE: "...any hero may go into a lair of monsters at his or her own peril and reward. What follows is that the Gods may not be able to give as much protection in the homelands of their enemies. It is our choice."

Something about this statement causes a deeply visceral response in me. A rush. It's almost...erotic. It feels like balancing on the edge of a precipice. I get interesting mental visuals here. OK it's really weird. I don't know what it means. But for some reason, this is hugely significant to me.

Interesting how an offhanded comment can go BOOYA in someone else's mind.

11:13 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

I don't live on a farm, either. I make my own poems, and my own dinner, and that's about it. I too live within the bounds of the besnared catacombs ; but there, I celebrate the crow and the coyote, the red-tailed hawk, and every tree and flower that manages to peek and sneak its way out from the cracks.

For those who live within such catacombs, it is possible to begin, however gingerly, better relations with those who make the goods one uses. One can buy "fair trade", to insure against sweat-shops. One can try to buy from farmers' markets and coops. This isn't some kind of condemnatory imperative enforced by some mythical hippie gestapo, but a path-beginning, something we all can, however faltering, begin to walk, with a little bit of pride, and knowing we still have many things to balance in life. I certainly don't do it all the time. I'm not trying to spread guilt but awareness. I think spirituality is close to nothing if it isn't as well about awareness of our actual relations in the world, and what kind of world those relations are creating. That's a big burden to face, but I don't think religion can afford to pull its punches when it comes to the real stuff. We can begin small. That's how we take on giants. :)

I have many friends who enjoy Michaels as well as Jo-Anne's, and do knitting and crocheting. The woman, a beloved, I lived with for many years, from 2005 to 2008, was very fond of doing cross-stitch, and she stitched me a colored wizard I still have framed in my office. It's lovely. I'd like to hear more about your craft, if you'd like to share. :)

2:53 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

I'm glad my words were able to start a cascade! I'm curious to know where your flow leads. :)

2:55 PM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

OK Siegfried, sorry I went nuts on ya on that other entry.

I just lost it. I was about to sit here and cry my eyes out because yet again, I felt judged and hated and cast out by yet another pagan who wanted to tell me "no, you're doing it wrong, do it my way or you're not a real pagan!"

And I left a shrieking blog entry on my own blog - and I also wrote a scary facebook update that scared the piss out of all my friends, indicating I wanted to scream and cry about something that hurt me badly but I had to bear the burden alone.

I don't think anyone has any idea what it's like to be the single most rejected pagan on the face of this earth. To be absolutely hated to the point where people say one is worthless and ignorant. And yes, someone HAS told me that I'm worthless and ignorant. I lost a friend over that.

Words hurt. Badly. Far more so than I think a lot of people let on. It can drive someone to suicide at times. Folks need to be very careful with the words they use and how they use them.

:wipes tear:

9:29 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

I'm not here to judge and to hate, but to provoke thought and thank, and folking (I'm going to turn that into a verb to make it more active and formative).

It might help for you to understand in context that in part my piece was manifesto against the judgmentalness of those who cry "tree hugger" at someone who really feels their visceral connection to Mother Earth. This is particularly surprising in the heathen community, particularly as heathen means "of the Heath".

I don't want to tell anyone what to do, and I'm certainly not here to deeply upset anyone. I'm sorry you've been judged and felt alienated by others in the pagan community. So far as the last word goes, there really isn't one yet ; we're still in proto-folking stage. Please keep in mind I am discussing ideals ; if we haven't all met them yet, that is fine. It takes a while to reach the well-roundedness that a pantheon implies. I have no intentions of ostracizing you, even if I might find myself on a topic here and there disagreeing with you. Such difference is healthy ; and I'd like to encourage you to be strong in the face of it. When you differ from me, come back with substantive argument, and we'll hash it out. This isn't about negating you and your voice.

Y'know, when we've been hurt, it's hard to come out of the shell of pain, and we often see the world through that lens of pain, as if all are ready to inflict it anew. It sounds like you've been hurt. This, however, is a place of heal and strength. It is a place where I feel free to rant, and where I welcome dialogue and feedback from just about everyone but "Rokkr" folks, racists, and slanderers. I don't perceive you belong to any of those, so please feel welcome. And remember no person external to yourself can set your worth. That is for you and the Gods to establish over time. You were put here for a purpose, which the world needs. I hope you will remember that and turn away from any suicidality. The Gods have work for you to do and blessings to share. Surely you shall not forever feel so alienated, if you'll give trust a little chance. :)

1:31 AM  

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