Friday, April 30, 2010

Shadows of Colonialism

If you wish to have "pride" in "your" folk (and if you are utilizing this exclusionary terminology, it is likely that you are drawing on outdated nineteenth century concepts that separate you from your full power of humanity and identification with life), and you want that pride to be authentic, it stands to reason that the first step, the very first step, is to fairly and squarely face and come to terms with the collective crimes of your folk.

The goal here is not to enter into the vicious cycle of victim, rescuer, and persecutor, which so easily perpetuates itself in cycles of unredeemed guilt. It will not do for the many peoples of the world to identify the collective shadow with European peoples either, transforming themselves through whitewashing into guiltless, innocent beings. But if you are going to consciously identify with European peoples as a whole, or some subset thereof, there is no escaping facing responsibility for the deeds of ancestors you claim.

This is a basic and irrefutable fact of the heathen mentality, which demands wergild for crimes committed. The scild (debt) you do not pay lingers and collects interest. Far better is it to summon up strength and face the guilt, and begin to pay it off. When you have accepted your part, your legitimate and full part, you do not have to take on the guilt of the whole. (And don't play the hypocrite game of claiming your ancestors on the one hand, when it comes to their glory, but then separating yourself as an individual when it comes to their crimes. Everyone will recognize this for the stinking bullshit it is. Let us speak frankly.)

Let us examine the incredible courage and tremendous power to be found in a passage Jung wrote in his 1956 essay, The Undiscovered Self. We have to begin from where we are ; we must face the forces that actually exist and that have been planted and come to fruition, even if they are distasteful, rank, and full of thorns, for only from honest assessment of where we are in history can we have any hope of transformation. Thus Jung :

"The horror which the dictator States have of late brought upon mankind is nothing less than the culmination of all those atrocities of which our ancestors made themselves guilty in the not so distant past. Quite apart from the barbarities and blood baths perpetrated by the Christian nations among themselves throughout European history, the European has also to answer for all the crimes he has committed against the coloured races during the process of colonization. In this respect the white man carries a very heavy burden indeed. It shows us a picture of the common human shadow that could hardly be painted in blacker colours. The evil that comes to light in man and that undoubtedly dwells within him is of gigantic proportions." (R.F.C. Hull, tr.)

Behold boldness! Behold honesty wrestling with the true horrors of collective history. Behold a European beginning to actually come to terms with the shadows of colonialism.

And get this : the only way to decolonize is to first face the shadows of colonialism so that one is not unconscious in the face of it, and so that one can honestly reach the level of ancestors who were themselves colonized, and underneath that layer, to find the truly indigenous ancestors. If going through this process does not inspire solidarity within you for the colonized peoples of the world seeking to throw off that which has been imposed on them, you haven't been authentically engaging the process.

Face wickedness and acknowledge its fullness. Mourn, and roar, and pay with good deeds for crimes upon which you stand. Not to perpetuate guilt. Not to play the sinner. Not to stand as scapegoat for all of humanity's crimes. But to pay the guilt, and through that honesty, to forthright stand back proud in one's common humanity.

That is bravery.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fantastic Article on "Tea Party" Hypocrisy

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beauty's Bosom

Beauty's bosom, burst
fresh flowers of morn,
I mourn the mist into which
your serene rapture runs,
and choir's queen of the soft song fierce,
rampant after thy long robe I run,
knowing now I must needs seek
thy traces where('er) the trail or train leads.
There where dust of shards spark glimmer,
fade-reflect, I'll gather your shattered
pieces as one, with sand in the hands
mark time and toil, teach me
shimmer that once marked your footpaths
so high and holy. Beloved, may your beauty
with grace begrace me.

High On The Mount of Healing Herbs

High on that highest of hills,
there, where herbs irrigated
with honey-streams hum with buzz
of bees who pollen-pick the best
of flowers, stone-carved pillars
ground that greatest of cathedrals,
rose-petal arched with stained glass
glowing the golden gleam of light,
Roomy seats round the regal chapel,
far above the fields of folk,
She holds court with her hall-flocked throng
on throne of ivory-bone and madrone,
madrigals sung in the soul-healing seidh,
the fair folk flying to and fro, to harvest
the herbs that whole-make souls
lost, and bring them bless.
There, eternal, Love reigns full,
and full, her free hand, I so seek true.

Oft Love and I Parted

Oft Love and I parted, lost, forlorn,
wild on the ways between worlds :
cleaved paths that lead us, arm-seeking, close
to drift in the far-off fog of yonder.
Oft Love went a way, I the other,
with hearts stretched 'twixt in woe,
and I, amnesed, forgot, and fogged,
wept in the woods, for She whose Love
had held me wrapped in linen-wrapped arms.
Now I hope her Love may find me fast again.

Freya of the Fields of Lavender

O Freya of the fields of lavender
meet of my mouth and miracle worker
of fragrant flower-lands where falcons roam,
forlorn folksinger of far-away eyes
whose knotted hair knows the gnarled ways of soul,
come kiss your crazed man's lips
and lift with love the languishing spirit
healing all the horror, holding with eyes
that know the now-distant pain as none else do.
Suffered with my soul, your spirit flew
out upon the open ocean breezes
wild with weariness, withered Ophelia-tears
running from the roaring rampage
of monsters' malice and Gullveig's malefice.
Oh, I know that you know, know your deep heart
deeper than depths of dread or anguish
deeper than the doors of death itself
fertile as the fields of lavender flowers
which sway in the swishing swell of wind
gives heal, from that holy mountain of herbs
high in the heavens, where home is yours.
Your kiss can carry the blessed cup
of soothing salve that saves the heart
from laying long in the lair of thieves ;
for your hands, holy, held me once
held me whole, heard my anguish,
danced and drank so deep with me.
Your hair has held every hue of the flowers
that ripen in the regal, rolling meadows,
for thine, for thine, for thine, O woman wondrous,
is love and lyric of love forever.
In many masks you make yourself known,
seeking me, seeking me, seeking soul.
Come through kisses, come through rich,
deep wine of the wildflowers, which you brew
in love and service with Sif, my kinsman,
that brewer whose brow is barley-bright.
Love, your look of love, whose gaze grants wish,
needs your knight, now, and hereafter.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fools Speak Jewels

Fools speak jewels that break in the hand! Gold brocaded tumbles to the dust! An age of thunder gives way to an age of shattered promise! And who would speak the storm in the eye?

I look high upon the lands, decades small flies in great swirling swarms against stars. Clouds pass koyaanisqatsi beneath my driven gaze, blaze the silver orb against night, sharp drives the valkyrie's spear of golden flame as she rides horse and glory along the long viking of day.

Rooted in the mountain-shelf of air, gaze my foundation, and notice. Wise scrutiny ponders pattern. Slender fingers of sinew pass serpentine through cotton-cold whiskers like frost-spotted dander from the tree. Jests I once laughed at, now having passed before eye roving a dozen upon thousands of times through, look dull and unclever, the tricks of would-be clever fools. Fools! Are men still laughing at these dim novelties overdrunk durations ago?

Rumble in the dark rolling clouds, the thrust and rush of the running-forward eager rain standing steady and shaken in the over-ready mist to tumble and fall, bringing forth life reluctant and green-sprout from the thirsty, grateful earth! Roar in the days of old, a great tumult was the tone of crafters and artists, its ambient brawn bold in the sheer beholding of creation! Those were days of sturdy and charge! Those were years like kettles bursting, overfilled awe spilling forth strength and dare! The muscle of might! The barrel-deep bellows of wind rushing out, hoarse and gruff and baritone-bold! Laughter of storms! Vast abandon ramble and rough sprint wild through the wends of world! Had doubt but a seed it was trampled in stampede. Days of stampede that ushered forth wonders of night! There beneath the stars, strong hands of day wove celestial fires golden into knotted artworks, while brags and boasts made tale as potent as pills, more powered than poison, yet tempered with life-greening bursts of serpentine moderation! These bellies were lungs that knew how to laugh, and how to breathe deeply! We sated ourselves on good food and finer wrap of riddle. There was salt, and flavor, and fist holding mug. There was board, and knife, and flicker-flame trench o'er which ale passed between hands.

Nor waver nor flutter the weak-minded then, who fibril 'gainst valences seeming to switch, give over drift and husk-hulled to the sowers of doubts! Bald heads wrinkled deep in the cynical desert, scimitar and brand brandished doubt-wielding strife! And so a seeming jester, once friend, now faithless to me, finds friends in the faithless, and counts out his ranks in the Muspell age of spoil.

Old news, the endless spinning of fluff watched from the high ranks long far above mere disappointment. Not the stuff of fibre and grain, beam and pillar made dwarfen the floor-boards of Gods' house. Nor mustangs let loose in thunder and gallop, the charge of roaring ones, the banners raised high! High raise thy banners still, sons of Heimdall and acorns of the forests' children? Show forth mettle not waver. Stern the eye of my high gaze waiting, waiting for men to worth my notice. Watch the brags of old. They speak value good and bold.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Twists and Turns of Wyrd

Time is like a moebic spiral wherein the past is the central spindle around which the present and present-future wrap in an outward motion around and about, with the future raising higher and returning to center again to start a new round. Imagine a spiral staircase, a rope-ladder cat's cradle macrameing up a tree house, with new wraps and tangles each turn. Each wrap creates a new and unique weave that replicates patterns of lower weaves but in unique fractal waves as change kaleidoscopes the basic knot-weaves. The turn of the spindle is not regular but turbulent, and happens as event-happenings accumulate to a wave that crashes and turns the loop once more.

When that turn happens, everything that one was used to begins to change, and the only way to preserve everything is to let go of the previous stories and find a way to go with the flow of the new turn and cat's cradle move with the new weaves in motion, having faith that if you cleave to the center, which is the eternal existence of the past ever becoming itself through change that weaves into itself reflexively (wyrd), in your heart, that the essence of old patterns will be fractally and creatively renewed in new iterations and twists in the weaves of the coming turn.

When the turn happens, the old options on the menu are no longer available, even though many of the same ingredients are. The deck has been slightly reshuffled, the dice rethrown. Some of the ingredients drop out while new ones enter in and make their way into the material flow and structure of the turn : each age has its own texture. An act of imagination is required that reaches forward into the unknown of the new turn, feeling out the changes even now undoing much of what one has gotten used to, and with an act of good faith projecting new possibilities from what has been grasped in the feeling-out. This act is a recognition of the changes and a faith that that which is beloved will reconstitute its essential pattern but in new ways, weaves, and manifestations. If one rejects the new manifestations, one will be carried along by the wave anyway, but looking down and backwards into an emptiness no longer there while the future carries forth those possibilities bred into and seeded from the eternal past preserving itself in its changes. If you fail in this act of imagination, you begin to lose chances in the spin, neglecting opportunities while living your mourning. Mourn to live, do not live to mourn! Loss of particulars is repaid with preservation of essentials.

When the wheel turns, and you are asked, "What do you want?", do not answer, however tempting in the fog of unknowing and despair, "Nothing, for all is now vain." Mourn, and look around. In the changes are new potentials, opportunities for your fulfillment in unrecognized (weird) ways. In that you must have faith.

You see, we are all vikings sailing into uncharted waters. We have no choice. The only choice we have is the boldness with which we go into that unknown. The viking is but the quintessential enactment, the ritual pinnacle, of acts we all must take, blessed by the doom of Wyrd. There is peril to the turning, there is loss, there are strange, new sights foreign to eyes which love home, but in loving home, do not be such a homebody (heimsk : "fool") that you lose sight of the majesties and beauties unfolding before your eyes, for in change, the exotic weaves into the fabric of your very favorite essence, in a movement of enrichment if you are savvy enough to recognize it and welcome the new guests with proper hospitality. It is a difficult, courageous move, and many lose it, living to mourn. Mourn to live and give forth to the Gods and the Norns the essence of those patterns beloved to you which you would love to see woven in new tangle in the coming turn that will have its way.

Unravelling Hodur's Lore

Rydberg's pattern-recognizing genius made the following connections which are helpful in unravelling the lore of Hodur :

1. The warnings in Loddfafnismal (in Havamal) and Sigrdrifumal are essentially the same.

2. Sigrdrifumal was delivered to a hero who slew the dragon Fafnir.

3. Loddfafnismal was delivered to a hero who, through his name, had some connection to the dragon Fafnir, yet which was heard originally in Valhall, and recounted from the doomseat at Wyrd's Well from one dead.

4. The warnings in both texts have little application to the recorded adventures of Sigurd/Siegfried.

5. The warnings are far more relevant to what we know of Hodur and his heroic derivative Hedin.

Rydberg concluded that at least some of the exploits attributed to Sigurd were originally the domain of Hodur. Heroic repetition of Godly deeds is nothing new in mythology, as Eliade has noted.

This connection is reinforced by the fact that Hodur's counterpart in the Iranian divine twins who correspond to him and Baldur is a famous fighter of monstrous beasts.

While Sigrdrifumal is delivered to a hero who has rescued the speaker from her captivity, Hedin, the hero of the various offshoots of the Kudrun Cycle, is also renowned for having rescued a maiden from captivity. The multiple descriptions in the various Sigurd folksongs and Eddic poetry make it clear who the original model for this maiden --- Sigrdrifa, "She Who Drives Forth (With) Victory" --- is : Sol. Bright, surrounded by flames, found at a high elevation ; diverse variations on these themes make it clear that Sol was the rescued maiden. We know from Gylfaginning that Sol was taken by the Gods from her father, who found her fair and beautiful, just as Hedin takes the maiden from her father. This would suggest that it was originally Hodur who retrieved Sol from her father's land.

Moreover, Saxo includes a tale, in Book Seven of his Gesta Danorum, about two brothers who are treacherously killed by a Loki-like traitor (whose wife, as Sigyn, accompanies him to the Underworld), one of whom rescues a valkyrie from her jealous father, after having slain the dragon(s) that guarded her. Saxo calls her Alf-hild, while Vafthruthnismal calls Sol Alf-Rodull. All of this confirms the general outline of the story we've been uncovering : the killing of a jotunn-wyrm or dragon of some kind, along with the deliverance of the sun from captivity.

In Sorla Thattr, on the other hand, Hedin meets what appears to be a valkyrie, Gondull, out in the woods, but she turns out to be a monstrous giant, who gives him ale which makes him forget his bond of brotherhood and drives him to ill deeds. In Saxo's account, Hodur meets up, while hunting, with what appear to be valkyries in the woods, who goad him into conflict with Baldur over Nanna. In Helgi Hiorvardsson, Hedin meets a troll-woman in the woods who curses his drink, whereupon he vows to have the beloved of his brother. The common thread is the meeting of strife-bearing troll-women who push him into conflict with his brother. Loddfafnismal explicitly warns against an enchantress, who will make the hero spurn the company of men. Saxo reports that Hodur suffered the same symptoms. Moreover, Gylfaginning reports that it was a woman whom Frigg trusted who gained the secrets of Baldur's invulnerability. Snorri avers that this was Loki in disguise, but we know of a troll-woman, Gullveig-Heid, who was amongst the Aesir at one point as their trusted handmaiden. Loddfafnir is warned against the enchantress, while Hodur puts his faith in them.

As Loddfafnir is warned against seducing another man's woman and fighting against a friend, so Hodur and Hedin fight against their brother on account of a woman.

Loddfafnir is warned against listening to a lying man, while Hodur takes the counsel of Loki. Likewise, Loddfafnir is warned to make his own arrow-shafts, while Hodur takes his from Loki.

All of this converges on a consistent pattern, which directly points to Hodur as a famous dragon-slayer and rescuer of the Sun.

Call Out The Deeds of the Ancestors!

Call out the deeds of the ancestors! The careless ones whose misdeeds laid the foundations for the unworld in which we live! Call out the deeds of the ancestors! Summon up the mistakes and name them so we may not swim snared in their unconscious legacies! Call up sins, call up debts, call up crimes and unpaid wergilds! Call up unheeded potentials, neglected possibilities for improvement, stubborn resistance to the flow of good! All of these found amongst our all-too-human predecessors, full of flaws as well as grit!

Yet more, call up, history, and full and true accounting! For much ill is the outcome of evil men with power, misusing position, misdirecting resource, tangled in greed and conquest. Let Saga say the great resistance unspoken to these misdeeds! Let Saga recall great masses who challenged such ill, whether written or not, whether in small ways or large.

For most who came before were good folk. Enough were misguided or ill to allow that ill that has come into the world to emerge. But most were good folk for all their flaws, and wish most greatly for their offspring, us, to pay their debts down with healing deeds, repairing deeds, improving deeds, deeds of justice.

There are great tasks ahead. Much has gone wrong but much may be improved. Passivity itself in the face of ill is ill, so summon up strength and catalyze your dormant wyrd into active expression!

For all the good folk gone are still with us if we hear them. Call upon them! Healers of long ago speak secrets, and makers of mistakes whisper warnings. There is benevolence in both.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On The Wiccan Rede

Nemenim laedere, reads the summations of many old law-codes. "Harm none". This is the spirit behind all particulars. Adhered to, it commands a mutual respect for rights.

As stated in the Wiccan Rede, "An' ye harm none, do what ye will", this is an excellent guide to conduct. It allows full libertarian freedom within the guidelines of not stepping on the rights of others. Every honorable person ought endeavor to so govern their conduct.

In fact, it has become so fashionable on the web to mock the Rede that that is almost a guideline to its very validity. I would personally be very, very suspicious of someone who had a kneejerk objection to the Rede unless they made very careful, nuanced arguments on their behalf. People who aren't willing even in principle to observe mutual rights are probably not people you want to have in your life.

You have fruits you can bring to the world, that will be of benefit to the world, and the world needs them. But the world also needs for you to bring them in such a way that you do not step on others. Do what you will, if it harms none.

This is so simple, so obvious, so right and true while preserving freedom, I can't really understand anyone who's not a nasty disrespecter of rights having a problem with it.

I'm a heathen, and I think the Rede makes great sense. And centuries upon centuries of professors of jurisprudence agree with me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Rationality of the Heathen Ethos

Heathen Principles of Reality

1. Life is predominantly rational. By "rational" here, we mean it is subject to investigation, analysis, and creative synthesis, and because of this, problems are potentially solvable. One need not accept the "First Noble Truth" of Buddhism that "all is suffering" ; rather, one can perceive that unresolved problems constitute suffering. The Norse creation story begins with a giant problem, that is broken apart and intelligently reconfigured and creatively reshaped to fertilize possibilities of life ; this shows that the proper resolution of problems not only alleviates suffering, but also creates new possibilities for order, expression, and vitality (sometimes called heil or the ingredients that make for the blessings of wholeness). Because problems are predominantly solvable does not mean, of course, that all problems can be solved, nor that most of them can be solved at once, nor that, without persistent and intelligent analysis and consistent application, any will be solved at all. What it means is that nature presents as a set of learning challenges spontaneously layered in such a way as to draw out intelligence ; at the bottom of the learning curve is suffering, and at the top is mastery. While each of us may never achieve the complete top of the learning curve (which perhaps represents the mastery of the Gods), it is completely natural to move in that direction, which constitutes positive evolution. Because life is predominantly rational, it is not true that "anything goes", because some things will work, and other things will not work, and that which does not meet the learning curve of reality will face increasing suffering. There is therefore a proper way (or a set of proper ways) of doing things, even if those have yet to be fully figured out or perfected. While one should experiment to see how proper ways may be improved, one should also stick to that which has proven itself as tried and true. Life is so predominantly rational in the Norse view, in fact, that not only must all problems eventually be faced, as Ragnarok illustrates, but will in fact be completely solved until all of the giant problems are destroyed. That utopian victory may be far in the future, but it rests upon the training each of us cultivate to take on problems successfully, passing those solutions and not the received flaws down to those who follow. Although the progress towards that perfected state of final victory has suffered several reversals in the course of time, these have predominantly been due to the ascendance of forces of irrationality such as untruth, distortion, and delusion (Loki), and thralldom to fear, anxiety, and the cowardice in the face of apparent scarcity that manifests as greed (Gullveig). Forces which oppose our rational capacities hinder our ability to solve problems both individually and collectively, and thus produce suffering. While we are faced in life with tremendous and even overwhelming problems at times, it is encouraging to know that we are hindered even more by our own irrationalities and delusions, which are potentially overcomeable, and thus happiness is not only possible, but once we have earned it through doing the work to master life's learning curves, even normal.

2. Reality is both linear and non-linear, with an emphasis on the latter. Just because life is rational in the sense that problems are potentially solvable, however, does not mean that life is predominantly linear. In fact, non-linear flows and various levels of turbulence characterize much of nature. This means that purely linear cognitive processes are not adequate (although they may be necessary) to fully understanding and comprehending reality. Both linear and nonlinear cognitive processes, thought and intuition, science and art, are necessary to adequately (if not fully) grasp reality. A completely linear approach will lack depth and remain stilted. Nonlinear flows such as the currents of streams and rivers, the shifting fronts of a windstorm, or the fall of rain may all be modelized and allowed to come alive within us so our cognition may intuitively understand and flow with the nonlinear processes that surround us. Because of the nonlinear aspects of reality, cause and effect intertwine and iterate in such a way that the aleatory takes on a significant force in life that nevertheless, being nested in rich, correlative fields of meaning, is also often significant in synchronistic ways. For this reason, aleatory methods such as divination may be utilized to tap into nonlinear ways of thinking.

3. Life consists of choice, and therefore involves the giving up of one set of possibilities for another set of possibilities rationally calculated to be more dear. Our happiness is therefore directly dependent on our ability to accurately assess and compare values, and evaluate costs. (In fact, one of the words for "values", "virtues", or "excellences" was "custes" or "costs".) Wise judgement of worth is therefore critical to the life-process. Moreover, when we have discovered what is truly of value in our lives, it takes on such high worth that we may at times be willing to pay a high price to either achieve it or sustain it or both, and still feel we have profited from the bargain, although at times it may be a hard bargain. But a gift calls for a gift, and we are expected to give proper value for that which truly has worth.

4. Life is only vital and alive when we are actively rising to meet the challenges which face us. Because of this, daring each other in ways that are appropriate to our growth and capacities is a loving act. Love challenges weakness to become stronger, however it may. Because life is nonlinear, and therefore includes both the aleatory and the unpredictable, risk is a necessary part of life, and thus, gambling is an essential part of facing life's challenges and making choices based on rational assessment of costs. The cost of a gamble is what we are willing to stake. Taking a chance at times provides meaningful ways to increase our ability to meet challenges and to increase our confidence in life. Worthwhile conviviality consists at least in part in egging on such gambles, and celebrating their victories. When facing a problem, you need people around you who will encourage you to find ways to meet that problem, and help you develop confidence in your ability, through proper analysis and sufficient training, to overcome it, given enough persistence. Much that is thought ungraspable is graspable with a little boldness and calculated risk.

5. Life, and the processes and ecologies that support life, are so valuable that they are worth fighting for. Concordant with the principle of choice and cost above, one should not be passive in the face of that which threatens the good life, but should rise with confidence to defend them and stand up for them. This is regardless of whether the opposing parties see any value to that which is being defended ; what matters is the perception of value by the advocates and their willingness to forcefully defend what they find of value.

6. A single approach is seldom sufficient to solve all problems. Intelligence must be pragmatic and geared towards the situation. Sometimes force and strength are required (e.g., Thor) ; sometimes pithy, penetrating, poetic intellect is necessary (e.g., Odin) ; sometimes intuition and empathy are called for (e.g., Freya, Frigga). The pantheon, consisting of a coordinated tribe of individuals each with diverse talents, reminds us that it is the bringing-together or togathering of diverse approaches that is most able to meet and overcome difficulties in creative and beneficial ways. The Community of the Gods models how any community may come together in fruitful ways to mutually challenge and keep at bay problems that to any individual might seem gigantic. Furthermore, the tales of their doings remind us that when a community gives way to factionalism, it is separated from its powers and thus ability to take care of what it needs to take care of. Many approaches are better than one, and one may need to reach across boundaries and separations to embrace strange allies in order to further one's goals. Such alliances can be mutually beneficial against overwhelming problems. The Gods ally themselves with the elves and the dwarves to the benefit of all against the giants. One's strength often depends on the diversity and integrity of one's connection and alliances. This fruitful power of coalition is not limited to humanoid life, for one may reach out in alliance towards the sentience in animals, in vegetation, in the land itself, and the various coherent expressions of intelligence which guard these. The mutual aid strategy of "one for all and all for one" is really an effective way of overcoming problems, and is greater the greater number of beings with whom one shares it. An ecology of problems calls for an even richer ecology of solutions.

7. Different people occupy different levels of evolution and thus niches. Not everyone chooses to be rational. Some give in to or even cultivate the worst in themselves and multiply suffering. Others merely fall short of cultivating that which is most excellent in themselves. On the other hand, there will always be a class of people who achieve the excellent in themselves, and who therefore, understanding the true value of things, will train themselves to protect that which is of value. Part of this protecting function is protecting the ordinary mass of society from those who have given in to the worst in themselves. This is done both preventatively and prophylactically through generous sharings of aid with those in genuine need, in exchange for service and loyalty to noble causes. Those who have multiplied sufferings are constrained to make good on what they made ill for as long as it takes to at least clean up the mess and initiate the process of significant improvement. While all people who have not turned themselves into monsters through horrendous or shameful crimes are human beings, and therefore worthy of at least a chance to remedy themselves and thus earn respect, nevertheless, one must appropriately value the contributions people bring to the table, and thus, those who are more highly evolved must not evaluate themselves by the criteria set by those who are more lowly evolved, but rather cling to that which is most noble. The noble must never be ruled by the base, and true social order consists in maintaining this proper relationship, with the caveat that due to the persuasions of delusion and irrationality, these roles are often counterfeited and reversed. When this occurs, those who truly cling to noble values must "turn the tables". To the degree that rationality and excellence, following the bold wisdom of the Gods, rules society, life seems doable, its challenges full of potential rewards, and an opportunity, with all its difficulties, for happiness and rich enjoyment. To the degree that nobility is subordinated to the base and irrational, life seems crazy, out of control, and subdued by suffering. But because irrationality and fear often have a way of empowering the base, the good life requires exceptional courage and boldness on the part of the noble to challenge and take down those less evolved souls who would elevate themselves above others and at their expense. When everyone and everything occupies its proper niche or home, there is harmony and happiness. This is not a limiting factor because it is always possible, with hard work and intelligence, to rise both in worth and excellence.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Freya's Capture and Return

The far-weeping mother of Baldur asked Hati's target if she, the day's awakener of green on stone halls, had anywhere seen the cat-drawn maiden, for much she mourned, the old matron of harvest's children, her loss in the dwarf-carved citadel o'er-looking the stars. Bearer of day's bright disc quoeth she saw with fierce beams shining Frey's flower-clad sibling off in far woodlands led by shrouded handmaiden. But further even Sol's keen eyes could not see, for air was much mixed with ill. All her golden lips could spill to gift the benevolent queen of wide-seeing green pastures was their footsteps led North towards home of trollkin. At this, the Bride of Odin was sore distressed, and gathered the Sea's Father to sail out searching for the daughter and son. Long years Njord searched by sea, Sol by air, yet some wight skilled in sorcerous arts set waves in torrent, and tempest to the winds, so fog's old odal overspread the darkened lands, striking eyes dim in the haze, and Sol's keenest eyes saw little. So it went for some time. Snow fell for years at a time, relentless.

Then youngest beam of Delling's far-descendants flickered, walked past snow and glacier, through fog and darkness to once-hailed home of the dayling's king, and sailed out with the sister boldly. Still shrouded cower in the corpse-bride's bale-words, the brother Beli caught and rowed out, whipping. At last swan-wing's feather-blades cut through the fog, and the moonship captain's brightest sibling caught her eye upon the youth. Uplift, light singing, she cast gaze on swan-maidens' eyes the sight, beloved boy, dispatched her elfin maids to tell Njord the tale. No fog the father's frolic held back, and soon upon the sea-steeds' gallop, he crest and trough rode raging to bring back his boy. The maiden, eloquence led back, awaited them back home. Sol baked the first cake of homecoming in the horse-carried chariot-oven of each day dawning ; the high celestial ones feasted that sunset with earth's rhythmic kin! And men once more made bread and ale to sup. Spring was dawning!

Don't know this tale? It is told in patches by Saxo, here : Ea tempestate per summam caeli intemperantiam agrorum ubertate corrupta, ingens annonae caritas incidit. Cumque oborta victualium raritate gravis plebem inedia laceraret, rex, quonam modo temporis difficultati succurreret, anxius, cum aliquanto maiorem bibulorum quam edacium impensam animadverteret, frugalitatem populo intulit [Gesta Danorum,Liber VIII], "At the same time [the reign of King Snow], the fertility of the fields was destroyed through the most extreme of weather, and there was immense loss of year's produce. Indeed, there arose such a rarity of food that the common folk were wasted by terrible starvation, so that the king, anxious to help in this time of hardship, when he noticed that those fond of drinking spent more than the hungry, imposed frugality on the populace."

There was a time when the Frost-Giant named Snow ruled over the people, and there was terrible starvation as all the crops were lost.

And here : ...[C]upidus gigas ... feminam subornat, quae, cum obtenta virginis familiaritate eius aliquamdiu pedissequam egisset, hanc tandem a paternis procul penatibus, quaesita callidius digressione, seduxit; quam ipse mox irruens in artiora montanae crepidinis saepta devexit. ... Quod ut comperit Otharus, indagandae virginis gratia montis penita perscrutatus, inventam, oppresso gigante, secum abduxit [Gesta Danorum, Liber VII],"A lecherous giant outfitted a woman who, as soon as she had obtained the young woman [Syr-itha : Freya]'s friendship, spending some time as her handmaiden, at last led her astray away from her father's ancestral homelands, departing on a crafty quest ; whence, the giant rushed out and carried her down into the narrow mountain, confining her behind a retaining wall. ... When Odr discovered this, seeking the maiden's friendship, he tracked her down, and searching high and low throughout the innards of the mountain, he found her, crushed the giant, and led her away."

Freya, the harvest-maiden, was stolen away and betrayed by her hand-maiden into the giant's lair ; whence Odr, her to-be husband, wooed her by winning her back from the vanquished foe.

And here : ...[V]ir magicae artis doctus ... concitatis carmine procellis ... exasperatos maleficio fluctus ... Vi carminum hostilem hebetavit aspectum ... adeo retusis obtutibus [Gesta Danorum, Liber V], "A man skilled in the magical arts ... stirred up tempests with his incantations ... roughening the tides through sorcery ...The strength of his incantations dulled the vision of the enemy ... to such a degree that their gaze was greatly weakened."

At this time, one skilled in galdurs darkened the air, poisoning the weather with fog and the sea with storms, such that no one could see.

And here : Ubi Fridlevus noctu speculandi gratia castris egressus, cum inusitatum quendam icti aeris sonum comminus percepisset, fixo gradu suspiciens trium olorum superne clangentium hoc aure carmen excepit: Dum mare verrit Hythin rapidosque intersecat aestus, / auro verna bibit et lactea pocla ligurit. / Optima condicio servi, cui rege creatus / obsequitur, temere mutatis sortibus, heres. ... regis quippe Thialamarchiae filium pueriliter obludentem, Hythin nomine, gigas usitatum mortalium habitum mutuatus abduxerat eoque usus remige, cymba in proximum litus traiecta, Fridlevum tunc forte speculationis officio fungentem navigio praeteribat. Quem rex captivi adolescentis opera uti non passus, praeda raptorem exuere gestiebat. ... Quo dicto gigantem pede manuque curtatum, liberato captivo, coegit in fugam. ...Quibus spoliis ovans ereptique adolescentis in traiciendo mari navigatione usus hoc alacri carmen voce subtexuit: ... At nos defunctum membris opibusque gigantem / contudimus vastique chaos penetravimus antri. / Illic congestum raptu violavimus aurum. / Et iam fluctivagum tonsis everrimus aequor / confertamque ratem spoliis ad litus ovantes / remigio reduces agimus, percurrimus undas / permensore maris carabo; sulcemus alacres / hoc pelagus, ne nos hosti lux obvia prodat. / Ergo leves totoque manus conamine nisi / rimemur mare, castra prius classemque petentes, / quam roseum liquidis Titan caput exserat undis..."" [Gesta Danorum, Liber VI], "Whence Fridleif ["Remains in Frith", Father of Frodi-Freyr, and thus Njord] set sail by night, with goodwill searching for the fortress, perceived an unusual sound close at hand striking through the air, and fixing his step, looked up at three heavenly swans singing, and heard this song that follows : "While the sea is swept by Hythin ["The Whipped One"] and the rapid sea-swell cleaves / his slave drinks out of gold and licks up drink from milk-white bowls. / Good is the slave's situation, when the son of the king obeys him, for rashly are their fates exchanged, in dire straits is he!" ... For as you see, while the king of Telemark's son, named Hythin, played childlike, a giant who had exchanged his usual form for that of a human abducted him, and consequently used him as an oarsman, crossing the nearest shore in a small skiff ; thereupon, Fridleif, as luck would have it, was passing by as he performed the duty of inspecting his ship. Yet the king would not allow him to make use of the youthful captive's service, and eagerly desired to strip the robber of his prey. ... Declaring he would cut off the hand and foot of the giant, he forced him to flee, and liberated his captive. ... He rejoiced in the rescue of booty and transported the youth into the sea for their voyage, enjoying with lively voice the song that follows : "...While we have brought to an end the limbs and might of the giant / and entering his monstrous, underworld cavern, crushed him, / There we seized the gold he piled up dishonorably / and now, cutting the wave-tossed sea's surface we sail out / and rejoicing, densely pack our ship with spoils to the seashore / and driving oars, return, quickly running o'er the waves / our small skiff cheerfully plowing and passing over the sea ; the open sea shall not betray us to the hostile enemy of daylight / Therefore, lift spirits, and advance with the support of all hands / exploring the seas, aiming for our fleet and fortress, ere / Sol stretch forth her rosy head from clear and flowing waves...""

Njord faithfully searched for the fortress where his son and daughter were kept captive, and finally learned the whereabouts of Freyr from three swan-maidens, who told him he was kept whipped by a giant who had abducted him and forced him to row in a small boat. Thereupon Njord intercepted the giant, cut off his limbs, and freed Freyr, sailing off in song, awaiting celebration as Sol began to rise.

Weep not, therefore, that your ancestral stories are lost : there, in Saxo, they await.

all translations copyright 2010 by Siegfried Goodfellow

Come Back Into Eternity

Come back into eternity! Come back into eternity, Sol morning-high shine bright flare upon the dew-dripped grass claims. Long have you daze walked in mazes made by men in time. Return! Return, O walkers on the Serengeti! Return, o wanderers upon the farthest plains of Jord! Each morning glory blaze ride rise into the sky showers blessings! Taste light and liquid sun upon your lips and dowse your eyelids bright with bathe! Ever eternity rises cyclic beneath your feet and rises high above your thick-locked hair. Step outside that shell of shaped ore and smelted slag. Your kindred are ancient-days beings, not shame and shame and shame portrayed, delayed, in-laid. O lay aside your lingering doubts bred in boxes stacked on stone. Dross I burn! Husk I burn! Slag and soot I melt away! But corn, I gold-amber dew drip light from dawn fires lit in yesteryears' morn and carried off manes of trusty gold-white steeds! Racemes you have, stalks with seedheads awaiting cook. Cook and slow I bring, bake and golden, gentle, bright. Your cake of corn and sweet-dripped bees' sap cooks, and ready for the feast. I bake! Ready all for feast and flicker limb upon the threshing floor, fiddles and pipes and harp and bodhran! Step out of that shell that said its hell was all the self you had, poor husk! You are each day's refreshment trapped in tar. Wash clean! Wash clean! I've brewed nectar from orange blossoms, pollen's hivestack, gold's pure gleam : deep for you to drink each day. O golden child, dance on the green! I would wash away your nightmare, wake your weeping eyes to day's mirth-blaze. O breathless boy long cavern-hiding, birth from earth, come solar stroll. Your days roll out long. There is rejoicing to recite, celebration to deep ink and document. The deepest ink is drawn from wells of vintage joy, and wisdom writes upon those scrolls. Come into the day, young lord! Come into your odal bright!

Heath Awaits!

You have come hungry, starved by a tomb laid with asphalt and cemented stone. You have come orphaned, nob cut off from original roots, no home, no homeland, no deep and lasting name. You have come parched, living off bracken drain, no springs trickling up with sweet pure mead of the ancestors' delirious dope.

Come, many gather, these are open and long-neglected fields. The grass runs high, the old ruins have become enwooded. Close your eyes and Midgard begins to sing. That place you came from is a land of giants. Here even humble weeds speak whispers and hymns. This is your ancient homeland.

Those stunted refugees who brought you into the wasteland did not know, and meant well. Half-starved and desperate, they could not but utter lies called fairytales miscalled truth and modernity whose hollow shell brittle fed you little. Malnourished you ran robotic as zombies in a daze coughing in midst of smoke.

Long days and hundreds of years since men walked floors wet and muddy and grass-filled of Midgard, hundred-hundred glazed eyes-over in thrall to ent-work, to make the world a larger home for thurs. Yet Gods count hundreds as days ; long has it been for men, while Holy Ones equip the world for renewal. When men rejoin, their power grows. Join the rising strength.

The rootstocks retain beneath soil, foilage long burned off. Once-orphans gather and graft back onto original roots and sap flows fresh. You are welcome.

Long tone-deaf solo rasped, look around : discover choir. Ahem, the ancient birds sing. Ahem, the snakes and mammals cry. Hello, the bugs and herbs cry out. Come back, forgotten ancestors sing. Be blessed, the now-bloted Gods bestow. And be blessed. And blessed, bless back in return, with deeds and sooth words.

Sooth : true to being's beingness. Fidelity to phenomena in all its nuance weird and ravelled. Sooth : speaking being's deep taproot sapflow. Bad spells have been spoken, surfaces glazed and worshipped, chains and locks upon the mind forbidding it to dream, in public. Let now wide nature's fathoms depths speak history through your veins, bones, marrow, brain. Close your eyes and know you have known this, always. The bad spell made you forget, focused your mind on small details in a prison of nonsense. Look around and be baffled : still, the hordes wield bulldozers. Still men march lockstep to pompous orders coming from hollower men. What massive claws slip hollow into those great puppets, I suppose? Sooth is deeper than the policies of men.

Heath awaits : thick, deep grainfields, weedlots, backwoods. Heath calls out and asks, are you a heathen? Would you be?

Orphans orphaned against your will, strong and fruitful, rich and varied Gods of Grove and Star-Acres call out : are you heathen? Would you be?

Then welcome come, and stake your claim. Heathland claims you, wild and welcome.

Unzip Cityself Skin

4:41 AM, Siegfried Goodfellow in a field, arms raised algiz. Black mustard and wild oats, lupine and vetch, wheat grows by itself, unsown. Echoes of Voluspa 62, Munu ósánir akrar vaxa, "the corn-fields shall grow unsown." Here the field echoes the ground beneath Baldr's feet when he rises up in the new age.

There is much to be spoken, the field says. I will speak it, I answer.

Take off your shoes. Here, in the midst of weeds known and unknown in the dark? The city-self, spooked by tales of tics, hesitates. Yes. I take off my shoes, and lightly touch the pads of my soles to the flattened oatstraw beneath. I can feel the moist ground beneath. It feels delightful, luxurious.

The moonship rides still and crescentine in the high darkness. Wind blows. Eucalyptus leaves play against the fluorescent streetlights. The black asphalt of the street stares back at me from amidst the field, but I am alive with the wild oats and purple lupines. Sweet smell of hay wafts.

Natural man unzips cityself skin, steps out into the night air. 2010 is visible right there on the road, but I am in primeval times, right here 15 feet from the street.

It needn't be miles out in the deep wilderness, although it might, and could. It could be an edge-zone, but a vacant lot or meadow few tread.

Mice scurry nearby beneath the straw. Last week an owl hooted by night here, awake and aware for those verysame rodents. Tonight it is the wind who sings. There are echoes of All-Father's breath.

My arms raised, as to hold the wind, arms a prayer in its glory, proclaiming, "this!".

Healing is here, knowledge of just being. We are not superior. We are different. Odin wishes us guests in many homes, be courteous and exchange tales.

Forlorn mind, dizzied mind, mind full of anguish and fear gives way slowly to bliss of the very land itself. "Tovangar!" I cry out the Tongva name for this natural world. The original odal-folk's names ought reverently be spoken, Odin gave homes to all.

I am spinning now, in the street. Wind carries majesty. I am alive! I feel alive again! I had wondered whether would I. Miracle on miracles! I thank the Gods.

More healing to do, of course. We are struggling, all, to find that deeper wholeness. The fields and acres hold a key.

Driving away, a pipe in the road on the opposite side of the street. It could damage a car. I get out, ask the pipe if I may move it. It agrees. I kick it again and again to the curb. It is resonant and lets me know its long hollow metal can sing. I am impressed. It has a powerful voice, and I say so.

At home, I wash the lettuce-head and gently rip it into the awaiting bowl, thanking it for giving itself to me. I tell it it may have a home within me, where many other plants also wait. Sprinkling the oil and vinegar, shoving the succulent lettuce in my mouth, eager for life, welcoming, things begin to seem right. It takes work to heal, but it is worth it.

Unzip cityself skin.

translation copyright 2010 Siegfried Goodfellow

Patch Up The Holes (an herb-galdur)

Brian Bates (in The Way of Wyrd) speaks of herbal mixtures "formed from powerful plants" that "will seal your shield-skin", pasting up the soul within the body and keeping it safe and protected. Herbs can have this sealing function, patching up holes in the ham or aura-texture, and keeping one safe within one's own energy-body.

Patch up the holes
patch up the holes
daub and fill and plaster
the holes.
Patch up the holes
patch up the holes
daub and fill and plaster
the holes.
Where illness once broke,
where loss pierced through,
where arrows of angry wights
once poked,
Patch up the holes
patch up the holes
daub and fill and plaster
the holes.
Patch up the holes
patch up the holes
daub and fill and plaster
the holes.
Hold me whole,
hold me close,
hold me tight and ease and well.
Hold me whole,
hold me close,
hold me tight and ease and well.
Luck leaks not, no longer spills,
frayed fibers knit and patched up nice.
Luck leaks not, no longer spills,
frayed fibers knit and patched up nice.
Patch up the holes
patch up the holes
daub and fill and plaster
the holes.

drink tea, give thanks

So, you've decided to try an herb, to come into the herblore of the ancestors and let it heal you. Perhaps you've come intrigued on your own, or hearing from a kinsman, or maybe prescribed by an herbalist. You've gathered the herb, from field or from market, and now before you, you've prepared decoction or infusion. What is the optimal way to gain all the healing the herb can bring? Don't just drink the tea, and do not make the mistake of thinking that the remedy is entirely material or chemical. Best it is to welcome the spirit of the plant within, giving thanks, and let your imagination glide along its subtle, energetic workings. If you let your tea be a meditation, you will find you get much more out of the medicine, and the plant may share secrets with you.

drink tea, give thanks.
and welcome
the weed within.
close eyes, let light
dance within flesh, feel
wort's wight move
within, knowing
just where to go ; open
to where that green, tawny doctor
goes, altering, sifting, shifting,
words of scintillation,
hael and maegen glow. let
odr follow through fields of corn,
drink in field, let kindreds
of weeds come alive and live
in mind and heart
and body and vision. Dream lazy
and easy, alert and relaxed,
follow herb's easings,
glidings, subtle growth within.
Curious, that plant's spirit,
knowing how to grow in earth,
finds new soil strange within psyche,
neurons, tissue and blood, grows new,
sprouts, flowers, finds its life within you.
You are unwhole for not having tasted
enough of ecosystem, drink world in,
body yearns and needs, caress, embrace,
beheld. Welcome wights of meadow
and field, mountain and dale, river,
pasture, marshland, high alpine wood,
stark desert shrub. Your mind is deluded
and thinks it is human. You are an open primate
whom all Being inhabits, if you allow,
and be whole. Open your heart.
This is healing. This is religion.
This is how it was always meant to be.
Wort well wots the ur-days of yore
and right now takes you into that eternity.

Now the plant lives within you. It will, from time to time, wish fellows of its own folk to come and visit. Then is the time to drink more tea. It is likely you've been brainwashed from an early age to think of all such meditation as so much hogwash and mumbo-jumbo, and even if you're willing to engage it, it's for "relaxation", but is "really" "all in your head", so you may be tempted to think. Resist this temptation. You have taken the plant within you, and a gift calls for a gift. The plant has worked good for you ; speak well of the plant. Sing the plant, draw the plant, write the plant. Do justice to that which has worked you good. You've initiated a relationship. Try to suspend the part of your mind that dismisses such as "woo woo", and remind yourself that this is as old as humankind, and the most natural way of being. Walk about knowing your health is not separate from health of fields and meadows, mountain and marshland. Alive within you, alive without you. Hail!

Stalks Waving in Wind

for my friends

stalks waving in wind
prairie's ocean
I am grass amidst grass
I am corn amidst corn
beneath the dappled crystalline-light sky
where ivory orb ship oft rides
through ebony waves of deep thick
I, eternal, annual, undulate
in midst of vast weed kindred.
together we hold the cricket-sung earth
damp and firm in solid home and habitation.
These are our odal. This is our home.
We are wild weeds. We are consciousness of grass.
Joy and silence, bliss of growing meditation, ours.
Please speak the truth to your kind. Long ago
you once participated in us, and we shared you bliss
of our ancient habitations, broad and oceanic.
Hold not grass in contempt. We are real, we are alive.
We teach by merely being. Be taught, young ones.
Your ancient Teacher rests on the glowing bridge
and listens breath-bliss calm and aware to us growing.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Heathenism's Flexible Dualism

It is very important to ensure that we do not define the ethical alignment of beings solely on the criteria of whether they serve human needs, for such does not only rigidify our lively, flexible, robust dualism into a narrow and paranoid dualism, but it mistakes what is good and bad relative to human beings with what is good and evil in a larger sense.

Good is that which allows all beings to have a home, leaving no one homeless. It is an active state of belonging whereby things find their proper, fitting place, and through this niching and nesting, organic order results. Good includes, therefore, all kinds of different valences which may be explored, played with, experienced, and inhabited, all within proportionality and proper boundaries.

Evil, on the other hand, is that which destroys good through crossing the lines that allow beings to have homes. It is arrogance, disproportionality, and aggressing over one's natural limits into territory where one truly does not belong. Now, it is certain that animals often have territorial disputes that can result in sometimes fierce melees. But evil violates all boundaries of good sense and moderation, aggressing upon all with no respect for home. (Evil thus very much approximates imperialism.)

The Alfar are a divine race often paired with the Aesir, who are traditionally associated with tending the energetics of the land itself. Bil Linzie has profitably suggested that as Mankind are the children of the Aesir, the Alfar are the children of the Vanir, and that these two children of the Gods inhabit the same world and owe each other duties of mutual recognition and diplomacy. The Alfar, serving the Gods, are generally benevolent, although as a created race, they are not without flaws either. But their benevolence is relative to their service to that Nature shaped by the Gods and warded over ultimately by Beloved Mother Earth, and not relative to human needs shaped by free (or random) will rather than nature.

The Alfar are, in fact, fierce defenders of nature, depicted as archers whose bolts can be painful or deadly, afflicting either luck or health or both. These arrows are used primarily to ward off monsters who would impose their barrenness on nature, but when we become the monsters, we are no less subject to those awesome bolts.

Let me give you an example to illustrate this. Several years back, my brother was in a film class, and he joined up with a team of filmmakers who wanted to make a short film for their class. I had been recruited to act in the film, which was shot on location not too far away in a park that bordered on wild Tovangar, the native ecology of the area, replete with beautiful stone outcroppings, yerba santa, sage, and in this particular location, poison oak.

I had to continually point out the poison oak to these would-be filmmakers, who, having all the attitude of city-folk, were quite ignorant to the nature around them, and who would have many times learned the bite of the poison oak had I not again and again warned them away from it.

During filming, they decided that a particular bush in the background did not belong in their scene. Rather than changing their location, they decided to rip out the bush. I protested profusely, but they did not listen to me, and ripped it out even as I urged them not to, pointing out that this was a public park and that nature had the right to grow here without interference. I lost whatever little respect I might have had for them, and this bush was made to die for a small school film whose quality was mediocre at best. Was it a worthwhile sacrifice? I doubt the bush would agree, and asking humans so narcissistic they can't even imagine that a plant has value, power, and worth would be an exercise in self-circularity.

As it turns out, later that night, I had a powerful dream. In the dream, I was being assaulted and confronted by a formidable spiritual force which was tremendously angry at me. This was one of those dreams that feels, even in the dreaming, as something a little bit more than a "mere" dream. The power of this enraged being was tremendous. Suddenly, within the dream I realized that this was the wight (spirit, being) that either was or represented or guarded poison oak, and it all began to make sense to me. It communicated that had I not interfered by continually warning the filmmakers about its location, that they would have learned respect for the natural area in the old fashioned way that only poison oak knows how to deliver! In other words, I had interfered with its guardian function, and as a result, a bush needlessly had to die.

It was then that I really began to realize the powerful guardian function of poison oak. Poison oak covers many canyons and meadows in Southern California, and it is a quite beautiful plant, creating swathes of emerald and off-rust red that are enchanting if poisonous. This enchanting but poisonous property should already alert us to the possible presence of the Alfar, who are indeed magical and potent beings. Poison oak, like an elf with a quiver of arrows, guards much of the backwoods and ensures that other plants are not mindlessly trampled by ignorant brutes. It also requires those who would like to pass to cultivate and maintain mindfulness and care as they traverse such locales.

If you asked most people whether poison oak was good or bad, I think most people, responding from a place of not wanting a bad rash, would say it was bad, but this is to impose our human standards on parts of the world which are not properly speaking human homes. If you believe that the entire planet is the home of humanity, you will note that within the heathen definitions of good and evil as I have defined them above, you are dangerously within the threshold of evil, for all beings have a zone which is proper to them, and while there may be border disputes from time to time which martially renegotiate the boundaries, it is to no one properly speaking to claim everything for themselves. Finding your place is what brings you power ; stepping out of place, no matter what temporary advantages it may seem to bring, is what ultimately if slowly and imperceptibly at times, drains your luck.

If Bil Linzie's construction is correct, and there is no inherent reason to think it is not, besides a great deal which gives it sense, then we share the planet with other intelligent beings much like ourselves but of a finer, more energetic corporeal quality, whose concern, properly speaking, is that of tending that wild garden over whom the Vanir Gods exercise sovereignty. These are the Alfar, and their homes must be respected if we wish our homes and luck to be respected as well. There are places you do not belong, human. There are places that are not your back door, and there are places where if you do tread, you must do so with respect, with humility, and even with deference because these are not your places. The rune of Algiz recognizes that there are zones that must be set aside from normal human interference and usage so that animals, plants, and other wights may prosper there. These were the natural groves set aside for temples amongst our ancestors, and as such, were experienced as radiating immense holiness. When we set aside ample measures of land for our elder cousins the Alfar, our luck and our experience of holiness was greatly increased.

So is poison oak good or evil? It is good, because it finds and keeps its own zone, within its own and larger lawfulnesses, and within that zone, it protects the other beings who reside there from outside interference. It is a quick punisher of careless trespassers, but this does not make it evil, just as the pepper-spray you might carry to ward off trespassers does not make you evil either.

Between the realm of the Gods who guarantee homes for all types of beings, and the realm of the Giants who forever desire to step outside their boundaries to trespass and impose upon all in their greedy, ignorant hunger, is a wide and spacious zone of different types of good and bad relative to the homes or habitations made there. Thus, our native Indo-European dualism is springy, flexible, and full of ambiguities that can only be negotiated by considering events from a higher perspective and our relationship to other beings.

Whether the man with the shotgun is friend or foe depends on whether you're facing his back as he defends your household or whether you're facing his front as he confronts your intrusion, right? It is little different with the poison oak.

Growing to Maturity the Tribal Way

There's going to be things you need to stimulate your growth. The seed does not grow in a vacuum. It must take into itself sunlight, water, soil. You are going to need to surround yourself with certain kinds of people, who exhibit specific and necessary archetypal qualities, and to walk amongst various natural landscapes whose sights and smells are evolutionarily evocative, in order to awaken, and stand a chance of maturity.

Maturity is not just something that happens by letting the years go by. You're going to need models. We all do. We are tribal beings, and it is critically important that we gravitate towards and surround ourselves with people who are good, who are good, solid, wholesome beings full of life and creativity and resilience, and as we all know in this day and age, this is not an easy task. But it is these people who will grow these qualities within you.

Each generation that is surrounded by good people living good values grows tighter and more coherent. Eventually a critical mass of coherency is reached where the truly tribal, for which our evolutionary genes yearn, snaps back into place and becomes a living reality. It is something for which we can strive, and we build that potential by ensuring that everything that is of value within us we do our best to midwife and bring into actuality and relation with others.

Right now, there is something dormant in you, something that yearns for the energy of a specific other, a key member of your scattered, fragmented, missing extended family, without whom that quality wallows in darkness and never comes to sprout. Let us admit it to ourselves : there are aspects of ourselves that only come to light in the presence of others who carry and champion these qualities, and we need them! That doesn't mean it isn't our responsibility over time to hold these qualities on our own, but it does mean we garden each other. We are each other's farmers. We recognize the seeds within each other, and through our example, the example of just being, in that way that only we can be, when we are at our best, and most natural, we begin to grow within others around us those qualities within them. When we all come together and share our diverse qualities, we begin growing a permaculture of personalities that fills every emotional space within the human being. And when you have that kind of climax satiety, you have found tribe : the natural social unit of being a live human being on the planet. Those are the people with whom you are concerned, those are the people to whom you are assigned. This doesn't mean you have no compassion nor honor to demonstrate to others ; only that they become your primary concern.

We aren't there. We're detribalized folks learning and practicing and yearning and striving and failing and failing and striving and practicing and sometimes or often succeeding in gaining a glimpse, or touching an evanescent edge, of what it means to be a true human being on the planet, to live the tribal way. This way is not guaranteed, nor is it obligatory. Because we are free, we can choose to live other ways, as much of the surrounding culture does. But as Daniel Quinn puts it, tribe is not the only way ; it's just the way that millions of years of evolutionary trial and error have determined to be the most optimal way of living. Nor, as Quinn points out, is tribal life perfect ; it just so happens that, all factors taken into account and optimized, it's the best deal out there. Other options maximize particular factors much better than tribe, but end up with pronounced deficiencies. The most sustainable human form, that allows the best in us to come to full fruition, is tribe.

And coming to full fruition is the definition of maturity. We desperately need maturity in this culture, because as Richard Sennett has pointed out in his brilliant The Uses of Disorder (and this is a book that those who weakly yearn for ethnic purity really need to read!), the culture-at-large is caught in a spin cycle of adolescence, as the renowned psychologist Erik Erikson defined that particular stage of life, yet in our cult of youth, we are actually starving the youth of what they need most to grow : role models of mature, successful, whole, and loving elders. Youth need something towards which to grow. Youth need elders who have achieved that full emotional richness that fills out a human soul and makes it wealthy. They don't need spouted platitudes which always resound as stale and trite, but lived experiences of wisdom based on lives of challenge, adventure, and coming together with others so that the full potential may blossom.

I'm not even certain that a "child-centered" culture is a healthy one for children. It is natural, of course, to shower love and attention upon children, for they bring needed qualities of refreshment, innocence, and idealism straight from the underworld that are capable of healing our wounds of cynicism. (Here Idunn stands behind each child and hands him or her a cup of apple cider brewed straight from her apples of youth to offer sip to those who earn it through loving, firm, and guiding attention.) But when we begin to obtain our entire meaning in life through child-rearing, as a culture, then we have oriented ourselves towards the seed and not towards the fruit in life. Elders, with all the rich spiritual, existential, and tribal wisdom they have won through the living of worthy deeds, are the fruit in life, and they are the guardians of the treasures for which the rest of us ought live, towards which we ought aspire, and around which we ought circle to protect, nourish, and defend. A child needs attention and love, but it is too much of a burden for them to have to supply what should be grown adults with all their meaning in life. She or he is looking to the adults to supply models and examples of what it means to be mature. This is deeply inspiring. A child should feel like he or she has a strong, nursed, and guided place within a much larger mandala of meaning, much of which remains obscure yet mysterious, an allure that begins vaguely but as the child and then young adult grows comes to occupy intrigue to investigate.

Religion -- the shared social gatherings focused on those elements of the transcendant that are immanent in mysterious ways within our lives -- plays an important part in this. The child recognizes an element of play in it that is similar to the play she or he engages in and with whom adults at times participate, but it is a play that is deeper, full of greater resonance, and points at challenges and mysteries he or she can only begin to imagine. Observing that the adults themselves do not fathom its depths, yet through this mixture of play and solemnity, attain experiences of profundity, awe, and wonder that revitalize their morale in life, and radiate as a profound reverence towards the difficult, challenging, but potentially rewarding life-process itself, in all its cosmic and personal scope, they begin to awaken to something within themselves that only dimly dawns. Many of them will then grow to want to have children eventually, but not so they can enter the narcissistic infinite regress of having children for the sake of having children, but to bring new beings into the wonder and the challenge and the shared strength.

There is a sense in which the land raises the child, and the parents protect the child from dangerous beasts, the family provides food and shelter, and the tribe provides wisdom forged from nature's deep lodes. The child has an orlog, an inborn potentiality that spontaneously strives towards its own growth, if it is properly nourished, protected, guided, and boundaried, and significantly, if the evolutionary stimuli it was born to detect are available in a rich, ecological landscape and a tribe oriented towards the land and its greater mysteries. We have largely forgotten this spontaneity of the child, for Christianity has so distrusted the instincts that it set itself at times the task of completely forging a child, rather than shaping those instincts in such a way that they can find their spirit guides in the land about, in the tribal elders, and, eventually, in the Gods themselves and the inspiration they provide. We are natural beings. Nature will grow us if we will allow nature to reach us, in landscape and realized, nature-fruited adults.

But to have children for the sake of having children is to say that life, any life, life of any quality or level of honor or coherency or maturity, is worthwhile in itself, no matter how slavish, no matter how misguided. This is hardly a heathen value! There are known tribes that faced with the detribalization and disruption that imperial civilization threatened to wreak, collectively committed suicide, and not because they were insane, but because they knew the full value of maturity in its manifestations of tribe, and this commitment to adventure and generationally-vintaged love made them truly free in ways our laudable but adolescent clinging to formal liberty can hardly know! It is true that there are parents out there, sadly not a majority, whose special art form in life is raising and bringing children into their fullness, giving society a gift of young adults on their way to realization and spontaneously-given and desired contribution. For these few honorable parents, let their contribution to the artform of mystery which is tribal religion be the cultivation of the child. These words are intended as no prejudice towards such master artisans and wonder workers. It is the larger culture, babied or no, which must ensure that its center consists of the mysteries themselves and not mere reproduction for reproduction's sake. You will get no argument from a Vanic standpoint that reproduction, held within its proper mandalic place of balance with other necessary forces and human as well as cosmic needs, is one of the many mysteries the Vanir ward, and thus, there is within it something holy. A mother holding her newborn does not need to be told this, although it is good for the culture to reflect it, deeply and reverently. But this holiness of reproduction is not a monotheism. It is a holiness amongst holinesses, holinesses that require our attention and active valuation. For the worthwhile life is the life that is goal-directed and includes many examples of the pursuit and attainment of worthwhile goals that draw us out of our shells and eggs and propel us into engagement with the world at large! This is life in the grand style, as an open and not a closed system, non-incestuous and bold, proud of itself, confident in its muscle as well as its powerful, natural benevolence, and it is a life that everyone, adult, child, and elder can believe in.

Because maturity, fruition, coming into age and fullness of wisdom, is the very vintage of life, and it is that mead towards which we all ought be striving to toast. Wassail!