Saturday, March 26, 2011

But A Long Prayer

Writing these rants is an exercise in faith. I try to put myself on the line in these writings, to expose my soul, to open myself to the danger of aliveness and the encounter with risk. I try to stay true to that which my soul seeks to reflect from the world of the Gods, and speak it, daring to say things which my intuition tells me others need to hear as much as I need to hear them, too, even if they seem edgy.

I don't know what will become of all this. I just know that I am called to explore and speak, and I believe that something will come of this. This will have some effect, it will gather some together, it will bear fruit.

We are here to bear fruit, not just to twiddle our thumbs, feed our mouth, or kick the can. Oh, there is plenty of time to shoot the breeze, and that is important. Every tree must let its limbs blow in the wind. But we are here to bear fruit, and we'd better remember it. That means we are called into the scary aliveness of fertility, and the responsibility that comes with fertility coming on line within us.

This is a garden, and I trust it's going to take me to the next level. I don't know what that is, or how it will happen. I trust it even against the part of me that doesn't buy it because I have gotten so used to living in a barren world where hoped-for connections and opportunities never happen, where life has lost some level of fertility we all desperately need to come alive.

Yet I cannot sit around and complain about that lack of fertility unless I am turning and tending the soil. And to turn the soil means to overturn, means to upset a little, means to undo the status quo to get some breathing room into the mix. I have got to let the green speak through me and grow through me, and tendril and vine its way out to whatever connections might come.

I'm certainly not aiming at a small and narrow group that identifies itself as a heathen subculture. No, this is something far more ancient and broad. Heathenry is a language to speak something more indigenous, something specific, but something universal. Those who are frightened of the word "universal" ought look around and see that trees and flowers grow everywhere on earth, although they each grow in different ways in different places.

The need, the hunger that is out there, that often doesn't even recognize itself as hunger, but has simply acclimated its gnawing emptiness as a characteristic of life itself, goes far beyond any subculture. It is far deeper and simply awaiting a language that will speak to it, something that comes from integrity.

Hel, we don't have to be perfect to speak. We're bumblers and fuckups and just plain idiots, but we are trying to respond to the good that is in our hearts, and listen a little to that nagging voice of spirit that speaks of debts to the earth and to the spirit of place and to ancestors who worked their lives off to lay down legacies of freedom and prosperity for us. And we're going to mess up, and keep messing up, yet we shall cling to that sense of good and let it be our guide, and never lower the standards of integrity simply because it is a struggle to attain their heights. We grow up from roots, we stretch towards sky.

A tree has faith. It doesn't know in advance what or how it will become. It has the seed-pattern within it, but how that will manifest in the vagaries of soil, rocks, obstacles, sun, rain and drought, wind and years ... like us, it has no clue. Unlike most of us, it has an organic faith that is subtle yet more powerful than we can know.

I know there's something better than all this mess we've got, even with the good stuff in the mess, even with the voices that say we've got to keep the filth to keep the goods ; and I also know that to get to that better place, we have to develop every talent and capacity alive inside of us, and take some risks, and speak vulnerably but powerfully from the heart, and dare that one's true voice, no matter how strident, no matter how persistent, no matter how passionate and probing, is not "extremist", and will break through the obstacles to reach the grass roots in time. There's something better than all this, but it requires us to mature, to re-begin with humility, and grow ourselves up, and reach out and say, this is my truth, and this is my dream. Who else wants to share this dream with me?

The land-barons have stolen our odal from us ; they've laid taxes not upon monopoly and usury but mere use and livelihood ; they have taken away the family farm, and have spat poison, whether pollution or slander, everywhere.

Yet the land still calls. It calls for inhabitation. It calls for inhabitants. Not for exploiters. Not for zombies driving over its paved surface in astronaut suits. It calls for inhabitants.

And I think if we will learn to inhabit again, we will remember what it means to love. We'll find those taproots from which we've been wrenched, away from which love is but a cut flower soon to wilt. We'll relearn trust. And we'll come together, not to slander each other, not to excoriate each other for not being perfect, but to seek together the common and exceptional good that is, beyond illusion, native to our being, if only we will seek it, and seek it together. With faith and love and trust and strength and wisdom.

My writings are but a long prayer.

Make the Most of the Good You've Got

A central core of worshiping the Gods is learning to enjoy the good they've impregnated into this world and dealt out. Complaining about the bad when you don't even enjoy the good you have is very bad manners. The universe does not reward bad manners.

The Gods are the source of good. Learn to appreciate and fully sate yourself with the good. Make the most of the good ; there are so many good things in the world, and one good thing fully enjoyed and pursued can lead to another good thing.

The Saccharine Prison

You are at the echo's end of a long tunnel of hollow, and powers unimaginable distances away call to you, though their voices are faint. You are trapped in a world of illusion, surrounded by Utgard, endlessly distracted, and the voices are calling you back to presence, to the deep longings that rise up from the earth, to break the saccharine menagerie and come out of the false-trance into something far more entrancing.

You are so surrounded by bullshit you don't even see it anymore, you've acclimated to it, you'd defend it from those trying to haul it off and restore a little sanitation.

Without that sanitation, without wiping free the bullshit, how will you ever know sooth? And without sooth, you cannot ever have a connection to the Gods, beyond some monkeybrain comic-book mind-chatter.

This means it is a religious imperative to confront propaganda and pierce through it. Political, social, psychological, and anti-environmental propaganda that surrounds you on all sides, psyops and total immersion in public relations campaigns, which obscure your view and paint the prison with false colors. Come to your senses and reinhabit your wits! (Those wits anxiety-boding has scared you out of, to lull you into illusion.)

Wits : sense, common sense, awareness, mental dexterity and agility, poetic ability to see through literalism and appreciate irony, uncompromising but ultimately humane humor.

Only your wits can break you out of the saccharine prison. If you ever want to taste honey, real honey, you must break free of the saccharine prison. For that prison-agroindustrial complex is poisoning the planet and threatening the mothers of honey, beloved bees.

Your escape begins with tiny flashes of awareness in the dark, surrounded by a normality which shakes your head and asks what that nonsense was all about. But will you listen? Can you believe in an integrity deeper than the systematic cynicism about you? (Have you learned the art of the economy of cynicism, where you are cynical where it matters, so you can retain your idealism where it matters even more?) It's difficult to believe the little sparks of awareness, because they can make one feel that most of one's life is virtually drowning in dreck --- which it is, and that feels desperate. Easier to dismiss such desperation and go back to the comfortably numb, that near-diabolical parody of moderation and reasonableness that keeps us trapped in the saccharine prison by convincing us that all exit signs are extremist and unreasonable. Those shouting "fire!" are certainly just troublemakers. But then there's that troubling smell of smoke ...

It takes practice. You think you've awakened only to find yourself nodding off again. You have to resist the state of permanent narcolepsy that resides in the saccharine prison, linking aware-moment with aware-moment, and clinging to your sense of aliveness. It's hard for the Gods to guide you in this prison, so one of your first priorities ought be, escape. You've forgotten it's a jail. It just seems normal. Yet there goes your life ... tick, tock, hiss the sands of the hourglass ... while you are caught in triviality within triviality, bullshit distraction wrapped in red tape after hogwash drama designed for those autistic to the pulse of the living earth ...

Touch the soil. Insist on sprouting grass. Keep the million-mile channel down the long, hollow tunnel open, and listen.

And dare to believe what Gods crazy to your fellow inmates --- crazy for their unbelievable integrity and grim optimism --- have to say.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Towards That Time When We May Freely Bow Down

Before the winding creek coming down through the carved sand I knelt, to give reverence. And up above, I saw people on the pathway walking back and forth, a bit bothered at this young poet in oblation before the waters, and I sighed … for I knew that if there were simply a sigil of some recognized faith here, they would not question.

“Folk-Catholicism” : say what you will, this was a strategy. Place a saint, place an image of Mary before a stream, before a rock, before a woodland, before a well, before a tree, and let me alone to pray, that I may tend to the spirit within that rock, that tree, that grove, that stream, and be left alone by priests who wonder at what I do. Oh yes, a strategy : to be left alone by the priests that I might kneel and do what the ancestors have done forever, and not be questioned. If the beads of a rosary must be fingered, and a pater noster uttered, this is but the covering. It’s the shell. Don’t mistake the shell for the soft, vital mollusc inside. Folk-Catholicism was but the shell in which inner heathenism, seldom spoken, covered itself.

All we do now is strip off the false shell, and claim in full might, for we no longer have any need to shield from priests who come to kill those who do homage to life’s soul-idols, for now we have sword back, and we may bite back against their bitings. We are free, and free at last to worship as we will!

We are just beginning now to reclaim our ancient ways. We gather the letters of the alphabet like nursery school children, but soon, in time, as this newly-planted tree takes root, and the coming children come beneath its shade, our deeds, our very deeds, shall once again do worship! And this world which has gone so widely awry from its foundations shall return and be restored!

For today, the symbols are raised amongst people who were still raised by those alienated from the powers, and so our deeds and our words are split, our habits based on false foundations, and so we struggle in our worship to come back to source. Oh, it’s true that the life of faultful humans often struggles to come back to the powers, but once, it was much closer, it was much more fidelitous and faithful. That’s where we’re heading.

We’re heading towards that time where we may once again freely bow down before the rock, before the stream, before the oak, before the sky, and give what poetry our heart demands, and not be questioned, and not be ridiculed. In fact, to be respected. And that the answers that we hear in our hearts upon such oblation may be taken with seriousness and with reverence and enter into our sacred counsels as sacred vote and speech.

The Shorelines Say, The World is Strong and Vulnerable

I kneel down on the wet sand to kiss the shores, and beg Njord forgive those who have mired them, and realize, I cannot ask him forgive! For you cannot forgive those who have not repented! They have not paid their gild, they have not turned their ways!

They’ve thrown oil into the waters. They’ve spread toxicity of radioactive Balrogs into the wash, and still, still they continue! How can they be forgiven? No. No, I pray Njord that he might clean and keep free the fishes that our kind bath in filth! I pray that he might, in his sea-going sleuth-ways, open our eyes to powers to which we’ve been blinded, with which we might restrain polluters, and keep undesecrated his frothy gardens.

This is Njord’s body. His soul, like all our souls, is larger than his large body, but is infused by will and wish into every molecule of wet. Will we desecrate his liquid-wine eucharist, his brine which is epiphany beyond the shores?

I stand upon the shores and I know what sacred is! Do you?

Oh what, o horrid words, if the soul of the sea were ever to recede, to withdraw its mind from flesh of water? What dead corpse would collapse upon the equal-dead earth? How sea would fade and once again become the rotting blood of Ymir! ‘Tis sacrilege to even say, but it must be said, as a warning, for if his soul withdraw, he would withdraw the all of souls he carries to that larger place of soul, but that this ensouled matter, this ground-up monster’s flesh, this miracle that solid stuff might speak soul, might be so desecrated it could be evacuated, would stand as lasting testament to our damnation! How could we stand such a thought?

They say there now stand “dead zones” within the ocean. I propose we see these as signals from Njord, small patches that he has withdrawn his warding from, as a sign of what could be if we don’t keep worshipping that which has soul in the world. If we find him of no value, let us look at those dead zones and see what they foretell, and then let us surround them with love, that he might his soul return!

Let his soul forever animate these waves!

The Gods are eternal ; but the world, though large, is fragile, much more fragile than we’ve imagined. It is its fragility which allows it to manifest soul. If it were so gross as to be invulnerable, it could not carry the flow and flight of spirit’s fire. Every life is a test, and a testament. Let us tend the strong vulnerability of world, and not act like knuckleheads who dream of invulnerability, while knocking about with barren feet like trolls.

Njord speaks in a crash and a rising hiss of tide this rede of souls from Gods. To this upon the shores, I testify.

Farms and Unfarms

Farm? I see no farm. I see the thick, viscous blood of oil bathed on barren soon-to-vanish soil. I see a sea of air filled with filth and venom, spread by those who see the crawling sons and daughters of Mother Earth as pests. I see not rows of crops, but long ledgers of corporate profit laid green-ink paged along the prodded desert. I see cancer sprayed on fruit, I see seed warped by foreign retarded manipulation disguising itself as science, I see the heath-like bundle of wild growth diverse chopped and mowed into single-crop infestations that beg for steel behemoths to harvest them for sole sake of overland monopoly! If land were allotted, each family farming might hand-attend to fields. A farm, a garden, is a Temple to Frey ; its good work, the offering of worship, but plantations are the false bounty of Beli. I pray that pitchfork and spade may retake the fields, and give us back our family farms, no heed at all to unlaw crafted by Gullveig’s minions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Declared Into Permanent Existence

In death, the essence is recycled back in into the heart of the world itself. Hel is the heart of this world, the intensive interiority funding the virtuality and potentiality that underlies our world of manifestation. There in that implicate order souls live as in dream, which our dreams have the potential to tap.

The juice of those who have lived, and lived well, therefore, is able to be taken back up by life again to renew the vitality of manifestation. Manifestation, being a fixation process of determining possibilities (through the roulette of deed), has a tendency towards encrustation and rigidity, and would dry up like a husk if it were not forever renewed by the waters that flow as saps through the World-Tree. These waters run from Hel and replenish the manifest world.

The sap or mead is said to be a mead of "wisdom" because it literally holds the essences of those intelligences which have flowed into it. As souls come back into Hel, their experience, intelligence, and wisdom is taken up into the Well of Wisdom which nourishes the World-Tree's roots. Death involves the implication of all the soul experienced in its explicit manifestation into the matrix of the life-process itself.

When we give attention to the heirlooms left behind, we honor the givers, and that honor resonates into the heart of the interiority within the All.

The reabsorption and recycling of the soul has been compared by mystics to a drop of water re-entering the Ocean, and there is truth to this, on one level, yet the interior matrix, while richly interconnected in a way which might be described as "One" (numerals utilized from the manifest world imperfectly grasp the implicate order), is also highly differentiate in its plasmatic flow, so that within the divine communion of everything, as it were, the monads of essentiality still circulate, and thus when we envision ancestral life in kindred halls of the Underworld, while it is a translation, it is a translation that conveys and contributes towards our understanding of a truth much shrouded to manifest eyes.

The mystics emphasize One, the atheists Zero. The atheist says, they are not here anymore. They are nowhere. And relative to the manifest world, they are certainly right, to a degree. Yet even in this material realm, as the famous poem Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant asserts, there is a recycling into the world, not without its sense. The agnostic might say, well, the living have their memories, and the dead often appear in dreams. To the heathen, dreams are signs of another order of this living cosmos of ours, stained-glass windows onto the interiority of the cosmos. When I sing songs to my fallen dead, that part of the All congruent with my fallen resonates with implicate, crackling intelligence.

To say that someone is "dead" is literally with our language to say that they are "deeded". "I have done what I can" in this world, their death declares. Their deeds, for better or for worse, lay tracks of subtle legacy. The JudaeoChristian tradition speaks of being written into the Book of Life, a great image that we might translate as : being etched into the World-Tree, declared into permanent existence.

Easy to Hate Yourself

It's so easy to hate yourself, so common, so lazy to hate yourself. But it is much more difficult to love yourself, to truly love yourself, which is of course different than mere narcissism. The narcissist is a cynic who cannot embrace the full embrace of self and world, who shrinks back from contact, who believes in the hollow of hate within and keeps staring at it, wanting others to gather round and worship the hollow.

You may have trained yourself so well in hating that it comes as second nature, at least insofar as it comes to you. I don't know you. I don't know your deeds. I don't know what guilt you feel inside, and some or all of that guilt may be well-deserved, and calling out for atonement and correction. Such guilt is well-invested in the work of correction (rather than wallowed in as self consumption). That would be authentic guilt. Then there is another kind of guilt that has no correspondence to your actual worth but is simply conditioned masochism. This can become a developed habit. But you are the creation of wondrous ancestors and holy Gods.

That's both a blessing and an obligation.

It's an obligation to treat yourself as something sacred, because you participate in the larger sacredness about you. And if you treat yourself as sacred, a sacred that dips into and touches a larger sacredness, then you will not desecrate yourself or others. You might very well keep your edge up through critique, but this will develop a different feel than desecration or denigration. It will come to have the healthy feel of honing rather than the neurotic habit of scathing.

In health, we are an oscillation between engagement with the outer world, and contact with the inner springs of refreshment. Energy thrown into the hole of desecration, whether of self or of others, is energy that could be directed towards the healthy dynamic. Don't allow yourself to be fooled that simply because your desecration is not towards others that it is permitted. Thou Shalt Not Desecrate Anything Sacred, and this is a tall order indeed. It requires the ability to be gentle, particularly with yourself, while at the same time maintaining high enough standards to keep guiding and structuring your gradual and ongoing evolution.

Love yourself as you would love flowers in springtime, as you would love fresh lambs wet with amniosis upon the grass, as you would tend to new sprouts of corn, as you would caress the rough bark of old-friend trees, as you would salute the Sun as she rides above in her bright chariot, as you would give heed to a relative in need, as you would attend an engaging hobby or a lasting passion, as you would help a friend having a hard time or in a crabby mood, as you would give yourself unto sleep in the hours of darkness.

For Love strengthens, tends, nourishes, grows, corrects with greatest gentleness, guides, if we will be true. And she asks us to be true to all we ought love, including our self, which is to her as well beloved.

Learning to Trust

Your ability to find Hael has something to do with your ability to trust, to let go and open yourself to reserves of energy and healing around you. The world is a hard enough place it oftens hardens us, and we shrink from the resiliency that can reconnect us to life and refresh us. It's hard work sometimes to trust. But Asatru is about developing, against our developed habit of cynicism conditioned by a hard world, to trust the deeper sources of life that feed and strengthen this world from within and without. In a sense, the formal ritual, the names and classifications, and all the externalities are just props to help encourage us to find those deeper flows of feeling where we can let go and trust. Our own resistance to life and love and trust must always be reckoned in to our spirituality, our healing, and our enjoyment of life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Right to Know is Grounded in the Need to Know

“The public has a right to know!” How often have we heard an impassioned journalist express this phrase on television and in the movies? Countless numbers of times. So many times that we have come to take it for granted as a basic principle regarding our First Amendment, but we forget that there are nuances and stipulations that apply to this phrase, as to all phrases, and that it is not absolute.

The principle applies to that which is properly a public matter. Whoever is party to an affair (and you can hear the concept “participating” in the word “party”) is privy and entitled to what’s going on, because it directly affects them. Nonparties to an affair have no such truth-rights. When something affects the public at large, the public is a party, and does indeed have “a right to know”.

But those lines have blurred in our culture. The paparazzi cloak themselves in the First Amendment when they video celebrity weddings, and invade the privacy of celebrities in their own private residences, on the same sort of unexamined, unnuanced ethos of “the public has a right to know”, on the grounds that celebrities have chosen to become public figures. But just because you have chosen to become a public figure does not mean that you have chosen for every part of your life to be public! There is a region of public concern to which you have devoted yourself : art, music, theatre, public service, etc., and in those areas, what you do is indeed public. But not anywhere else.

Privacy is not only eroding all about us, but is under serious attack in our society. Truth has become inquisitional in character. It is presumed that everyone has the right to know everything about anyone, and if you resist, what, do you have something to hide? There is a presumption of guilt around privacy : if you have something to “hide”, then you must be guilty of something improper or even criminal. What if you simply want to maintain information about events proper only to participants amongst those participants? What if others haven’t been invited?

We have a notion that “telling the truth” means that everyone has a “right to know” at all times about all things, and we’ve forgotten the very important principle of need to know. The basis of need to know is those directly affected by affairs need to know what is going on, so they can base their actions accordingly. It is, in a sense, an extension of the prohibition against fraud, which forms the basis of our notions of consent. You can only consent to participating in something if you know what’s going on. But if you aren’t participating in something at all, of what business is it to you?

Yes, we’ve forgotten the principle of “It’s none of your business”. This is a wonderful phrase. It turns the so-called “right to know” right back on those demanding it : what gives you the “right” to know? On what basis is that “right” grounded? Quo warranto? On what authority do you claim prerogative to cross my lines of privacy and do a search and seizure?

Search and seizure ... Oh, yes, there is another one of our amendments, one increasingly forgotten, the Fourth Amendment, which enshrines the idea that “a man’s house is his castle”, and is founded on principles of privacy. What happens when the press tries to overextend its lawful freedom to report on public affairs by encroaching on the Fourth Amendment principles themselves? Rights exist in delicate balances, and are not so obvious on their face that they can simply be plugged in robotically and in an isolated fashion. Once private information gets out that was intended to be private, it can be utilized by anyone for any reasons.

If everyone has the “right” to encroach on everyone else, and interfere with their business, then no one really has any true rights at all. Unfortunately, this interference-ethos is a legacy of some very dark history in our society, originating, of course, with empire, but developed in more sinister ways through Christian missionizing, which saw fit to infiltrate autonomous societies and begin to dictate to them how they should live. Christians all over the world claim this as their “right” by religion, because their holy book tells them they must do so. This has dulled the edge of our sense of rights, and thrown us into confusion. The practice of confession, spread by the Church, while perhaps therapeutic in its own right in a private setting, nevertheless extended the idea that all private acts are ultimately affairs of the Church, to which the Church ought be privy, and thus, a kind of spiritual totalitarianism set in that culminated in the Inquisition itself, in which “truth” was pried out, if necessary, by torture, and definitely by irregular (to say the least!) judicial practices.

Spiritual totalitarianism : your life is ours, and thus, what you do is our business. Well, what a perfect ethos for an age of sophisticated surveillance equipment! It can become the drive behind a quite Orwellian transformation of society, which is well under way. We’ve become used to being spied upon, our own private messages subject to unwarranted search, even now being made to electronically strip naked in order to fly. The Church claimed its pseudo-rights as “agents of God”, founding their inquisition into your private affairs on the dogma that God himself constantly searches into all private recesses of the human heart. I have asserted here before that the heathen Gods do not do this. Oh, they may be aware of many things happening on the heart level, because they are in tune with the ocean of the heart, and to that degree know things. But they aren’t interested in prying into your life unless you ask them to do so, for specific reasons, thus giving them warrant. (And just as with the concept of a warrant in human affairs, if you were doing something that violated someone else’s rights, that could theoretically give them warrant as well.) You have your family and friends to take care of you and your private matters, and then your tribe or community, and then your bioregion or kingdom, and then any larger alliances in which your kingdom may be involved. You have your ancestors, the land wights, and so forth. When these systems fail, then you call in your “big guns” as it were. A heathen would look askance and then grab for his sword if someone spoke of being agents of the Gods and therefore privy to all information, because not even the Gods would claim that on the level of the surveillance-society. (Odin looks out from his throne on the doings of men, but he is watching macro-movements, the development of nations (which is why he often deals with and tests kings, who lead nations), and so forth.)

Odin distinguishes between an inner circle of trust, and that which is outside that circle, and therefore unworthy of being privy to things. We need to reclaim that sense of boundaries that characterized our indigenous ancestors. There were three kinds of people : friends, foes, and those who are neutral. Friends are within the circle of frith and thus are owed full, heartful sharing, which feeds the friendship. Foes have proven themselves antagonists, and thus will utilize every resource against you, functioning on the “anything you say can and will be used against you” principle. To foes the laws of war and not the laws of peace apply.

Odin says, Vin sínum skal maðr vinr vera 
ok gjalda gjöf við gjöf;
 hlátr við hlátri skyli hölðar taka
 en lausung við lygi (Havamal 42), “A man shall be a friend to his friend and return gift with gift ; laughter against laughter shall take hold, but loss against lies” (with "laughter" here implying not only enjoyment, but ridicule as well : return laugh for laugh, ridicule for ridicule), and Ef þú átt annan, þanns þú illa trúir,
 vildu af hánum þó gótt geta,
 fagrt skaltu við þann mæla en flátt hyggja
 ok gjalda lausung við lygi (Havamal 45), “If thou hast another, whom thou ill trust, but wishing to get good from him, fair shalt thou speak with him, but intend deceit and return emptiness against lies.” Lausung is related to our word “loose”, and means emptiness, vanity, a kind of deceit characterized by a false front or face, a type of cover story, acting, or feigning that remains noncommittal. It’s not precisely encouraging lying, but in the face of the lies of an untrustworthy foe, one is permitted to speak in such a way that the other will lose (another nuance of lausung) in his or her antagonism. Odin continues, Það er enn of þann er þú illa trúir
 ok þér er grunr at hans geði,
 hlæja skaltu við þeim ok um hug mæla;
glík skulu gjöld gjöfum (Havamal 46), “Concerning one whom thou ill trusts and have suspicions about his good intentions (favour/mind), thou shalt laugh with him and speak around your thoughts ; thou shalt pay them back in their own coin.” [Literally, “similar shall yield the gift”.] It’s a delicate and interesting phrase : to speak around one’s thoughts : not precisely to lie, but not precisely to tell the truth either. This applies to those whose intentions one suspects.

Neutral parties, on the other hand, are not party to any private affairs within the circle, and thus have no essential “need to know”. Here one may simply choose to say, politely, “That information is none of your business,” or, “I choose to keep my silence.” (And would that public figures involved in purely private scandals would, instead of giving in to the demand for public confession and repentance, simply say, "It's a private matter and will be handled privately." After all, we're not really involved in the adulteries of others, much as we might disapprove.) Odin says, in this regard, Ósnotr maðr, er með aldir kemr,
 þat er bazt, at hann þegi (Havamal 27), “For the unsophisticated man, who comes amongst men, it is best for him to remain silent”. When you’re amongst people you are uncertain are friends or foes, get to know them before you start sharing personal or private matters with them, and test them before they become privy. Likewise, do not expect to be privy to private matters until you have been tested. The sophisticated may have ways of skirting around confession in more elegant ways, but those who cannot, ought remain silent in the presence of neutral parties.

Here we come to an important point, the distinction between truth and confession. Because of Christianity, we’ve come to confuse the two. We’ve almost come to the point of assuming that “if you don’t confess everything, you’re guilty of something”. In heathenism, you have no obligation to confess anything to unaffected parties, let alone potentially or actively hostile parties.

There is approximate, need-to-know truth for the outside, and deeper truth for inside, and as long as affairs are one’s own, and not the business of the larger public, one does not owe those on the outside truth. This does not authorize manipulation and lies, either, but a cover story as a shield against outright antagonism by parties who would misuse information with slanderous or aggressive intentions may be ok to protect the inner circle.

The basic point might be expressed as “shield”. You have the right to protect you and your own, and outsiders do not have the right to disrupt that frith. They are owed information, as peaceful outsiders, to the degree such information affects them, and no further. The press may have a right to lawfully investigate ; they have no warrant to usurp inquisition under that right. We have a right to know that which we do have a right to know.

These are not absolute principles, but they are important guidelines that help temper fanatical, absolutist notions of truth-telling which ignore the contextual realities of considering the safety of the situation, without sacrificing the ideal of sooth, of staying close to deep reality. But once again, if the deep reality is one of hostile antagonism rather than peaceful discourse and mutual, open-minded inquiry (which, I must always add, can include sharp but friendly critique, and can even include less friendly debate, if both sides agree to the debate, in which case there is a sharper need to cleave to truth), then one can speak the truth that corresponds to that deep reality. Absolutist approaches to ethics are poor substitutes for authentic wisdom, and we are called by our heathen Gods into authentic wisdom. Keep these guidelines in mind and act wisely, holding truth as an important principle on the one hand, and privacy and protection on the other hand. In such balance lies wisdom.

I just want to re-emphasize that when it comes to things that affect us, like the nuclear industry, like toxic fallout and pollution, like secret programs to destabilize other countries' integrity, and all other matters of properly public import, we do indeed have the right to know. "Private" industry that affecgts us = our business. Private life that does not pollute us = not our business.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Let Beast Be Bounded ; Let Fools Be Wise

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS when you live in Jotunheim. The world turns topsy-turvy and you can't get your footing or bearings. Odd things outside your control happen ; large, overwhelming events envelop and loom about the world, with sudden incursion of inexplicable lances and teeth and thorns. There is unpredictable bite, and overwhelming disproportion, for when you have invited the giants in to Midgard, they begin transforming it to Jotunheim. It is inevitable. In so doing, you and your society commit treason against the Gods, regardless of what lip service you offer, and declare your independence from their benevolent society : you are on your own, good luck, or whatever luck you might have.

Chain a Balrog (valrógr : strife of slaughter), Son of Surt, and ween it shall stay chained ; and yet be wrapped within illusions vast, as Utgard-Loki's kind shall cast upon the jaded eye, while secret fires burn the air, and serpent's venom flies the far-beyond. Yea, ask the Viper to be good ; his roilings shake the waters, and awaken all his kin. Sons of the Fool invite the Balrogs in, but when awakened, rage they in their jotunmod, the foul and sulfurous mood of fire-blazers.

Obscenity of filth and smut besmirches skirts and bergs of Mother Earth ; impious with their deeds, the keepers of the Balrogs spit slander and curses and dog-speech, howling and pounding the ground, while Sons of Moin spray virulence and pestilence into the air, gall and venom to haunt the clouds ; the mists of the ghastly, smoky city below where wraiths whirl in the dungeons laughs as draugr glee in their death-zones being spread where green garments ought lay. And I call this speech-in-deed the stench of foulest blasphemy, belch and rancor of imprecation, unhex unholy, malediction, libel etched gnaw on Yggdrasil's branches towards tremendous and holy Gods the modern jackass thinks as naught.

But one ought rue the shame of scam and sham, and offer up the boar to show remorse to holy Ingui and his kin, whom we've disgraced and sullied ; call them back, declare allegiance, beg for Lord and Lady of the Soils to compost all the filth we've gathered, and send it down to Nastrond where it finds its home in melting nidings ; and again, to cover the blessed plains and promontories with the greenest garments. Call on Thor to come to reclaimed gards and chase the monsters back to troll-land ; ask the One-Armed One to cast once more his binding blessing that the gulping maw may be restrained. (Yet will we reclaim our gards? Will we take back our Things and keep the kings in line?)

And yet ask, and pray, and hope, it shall take time, and who knows how long, for all unwyrd to work itself out in full, and new seeds of sincere worship in deed and word to sow and take their root, for Wyrd cannot be eluded. Consequence has its law ; the Gods can only mitigate. They take the edge off sharpest bite, but blade so long worshipped still has cut, and let us pray, with deep intentions calling up disir, the cut shall be contained. O, let it be contained, and let that seed of boot we earn through new directions in our deeds come sprout with newer blessings for the Earth!

The Balrogs must be banished. Let us take our fire from the Sun ; let wind and water turn our mills. The only place where giants run the mill is in Niflhel ; we have not the might of Mimir to hold them back in guarded dungeons. Ask strength from wind, and water, and sun. Our hearts go out to all our distant kin upon the Western isle ; may their faith in local deities bring them betterment ; may their courage and skill be strong ; may their health hold its own as best may be against the serpent's sprayings, and cool the flames. May the beast be bounded ; may fools, more sons of Loki than men, find wisdom in ample time, for time ticks now like a geiger counter.

Markus Röncke, artist (Balrog). Dorothy Hardy, artist (Fenris). Sixth century helmet-plate die from Torslunda, Sweden ( ~ Tyr and Fenris). All public domain. Two images of binding as spell to surround and neutralize the beast, let it be so.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Heathenry as an Anti-Imperialist Tradition

What does it mean to belong to a tradition that fought so vehemently against Empire? Well, at the very least, it would mean that we would tend to look with skepticism at statements coming from within an empire, and we might at least examine with an open mind the statements of those people who are resisting empire. In the modern world, the United States, Britain, and other countries tend to form the nucleus of a global empire, and so, in the United States, this skepticism towards imperialism would mean actually taking the time to read the statements of those leaders and peoples who are resisting or fighting the United States Empire. It certainly doesn’t mean an uncritical embrace of anyone who opposes an empire or the United States Empire specifically, but it would mean taking the time to actually learn about anti-imperial efforts around the world, at least before one explicitly and in a knee-jerk fashion began to condemn them.

This is a matter of selection in whom we listen to, and in an empire, we are often encouraged to see and look through the empire’s eyes. Well, this was not how old Germanic warriors fighting against the Roman Empire saw things, and so we might begin by looking at other Third World countries like Germania once was, and listening to what they have to say, because they may have interesting things to say, which will not “convert” us to their point of view by any means, but give us a broader perspective from which to understand the power politics in the world.

One of Odin’s names is sooth, the authentic truth behind appearances, that requires listening to all the testimony available. Our myths alert us to the fact that behind many disparate narratives of war and aggression lies one archetypal story : the rapacious wolf bred by greed, fear-mongering, lies, and the breeding of strife. Once you understand that metanarrative, many of the stories of history and war line up as only so many nuances and instances of that greater mythic tale. It has been pointed out before that one of the primary symbols of Rome was the Wolf, the so-called Lupus Martius, or “Wolf of Mars”. As Germani tribesmen identified Mars with Tyr, their god of warriors, the possibility that the myth of Tyr’s role in binding Fenris may have come together with feelings about the Germanic warrior’s role in relation to the Roman Empire must be given serious consideration. It is certainly not outside the scope of prophetic symbolism wielded by our ancestors, and may have been adapted to this cause. Certainly the tradition held warnings about kings who stepped over their rightful limits and began to set up proto-empires ; the legends about Ermanerich and his tyrannies, characterized by “wolfish” behavior, were cautionary tales that aligned Germanic warriors with freedom-fighters and restorers of ancient rights such as Dietrich.

If we are to align ourselves with ancestors who fought with tremendous courage to defend their traditional lands and groves against the incursions of empire, we would dishonor them if we did not at least include their eyes as a lens with which to look at our modern world. The reason this is not often done is that it is easier to abstractly claim ancestors than it is to demonstrate any kind of loyalty towards what they really stood for, particularly because looking through their anti-imperial lens might require us to take a far more critical look at many of the institutions, stances, and stories we take for granted in the modern world. Yet how can we fail to look at the significance of their history of resistance?

When Spartacus began his uprising against slavery in the Third Servile War of 73 - 71 B.C., one of the most famous slave revolts of history, his compatriots were Germanic, Celtic-Gaulish, and Thracian slaves of the gladiator arenas, who decided to fight to end their submission. One of his fellow leaders, Crixus, a Celt from Gaul, led a contingent of 15 - 20,000 men, mainly Germanic slaves, with some Gauls and others mixed in. In 393 A.D., Saxon prisoners were brought to the gladiatorial arenas by the Roman aristocrat Symmachus to slaughter each other before the public, but instead, many of them committed suicide. What this means is that for roughly 500 years, Germanic peoples had been subjected to enslavement by Rome, which became one of their big resentments against the Roman Empire. Historian Bryan Ward-Perkins, in his masterful The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005), avers that the barbarian invaders were not devoid of hatred for Romans who for centuries had acted as if "the best barbarian was a dead barbarian" (p.24.) Monuments showing the slaughter of Germanic warriors, and the enslavement of their women and children eixsted in various places throughout the Empire as taunting signs of conquest.

The fight against slavery was one of the big motivations for a Germanic man to go into war. Tacitus mentions their wives imploring them to fight to keep them from being dragged into slavery, and Arminius, rallying the Germans to fight the Roman legions, continually emphasizes that it is literally a matter of freedom or slavery, and having seen what the Roman Empire reduced conquered provincials to, he knew what he was talking about. Arminius' uprising is correctly seen, therefore, not only as an act of national liberation, but a successful warding off of slavery.

These facts are some of the most important facts of Germanic history. Without Arminius' uprising, it is unlikely anyone would be speaking a Germanic language, and other Germanic customs such as juries and so forth would probably have given way to Roman law. Saga is deeply and richly important in Germanic religion ; her name is the name of a Goddess and blesses our attempts to give story to genealogy and history. The Icelandic Family Sagas are important monuments to a later age in Germanic history, but the tales told by foreign witnesses such as Tacitus and others of the heroic resistance of Germanic peoples in the interests of freedom are extraordinarily important for heathens to integrate. I would go so far as to say that these largely unwritten sagas ought remain central. Over time, the resistance to empire became a critical core of the Germanic ethos, and we, the heirs of their tradition, ought therefore to understand their tradition in the proper light.

The end result of failed slave revolts in Rome was crucifixion. It was a dishonorable death reserved for slaves and traitors. The First Servile War or uprising, led by the prophet Eunus, ended in punishments that prominently included crucifixion. When Spartacus' revolt was finally crushed, 6000 of the rebels were crucified up and down the Appian Way. Germanic peoples would have been very familiar with crucifixion, and what a cross meant. Given the largely non-literate nature of Germanic peoples, it is interesting to speculate whether iconography and stories of a saviour or liberator nailed to a cross would have invoked more imagery of slave-revolts and anti-imperial resistance than it would have a Palestinian man-god. Saxo Grammaticus places the Frodi-Frith, won through wars against invading tyrants and thieves, about the time of Christ. It is possible that the iconography of the crucifix, as a symbol of revolt against empire’s enslavement and its imperial punishment, may have reminded native Germans of their own stories of Frodi’s uprisings against Ermanerich’s bodyguard-army of giants, which ended not with Frodi on a cross, but the giants themselves being chained to the mill of peace and plenty. It should be noted in this regard that within a handful of years after the alleged birth of Christ, Arminius succeeded in liberating Germania from Roman domination.

In general, given that our myths make giants the enemies of the Gods, we should look with suspicion on the big players throwing around their weight in any conflict, particularly an international one, and look with interest and curiosity at the lesser players engaged in the conflict. We should beware the smokescreen that Loki’s people throw over everything, and the greed that motivates Angrboda’s wolves. If you have become used to looking at the world through a giant’s eyes, even a giant that identifies itself with the values of your history and people, loyalty to the Gods might suggest looking with greater criticism at the statements and positions of any giant. That this might lead you, through careful investigation of all sides of an argument, to scary positions relative to mainstream beliefs about countries, peoples, and histories, is a given, but that, after all, is another reason why courage was so valued amongst our ancestors.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It Takes Time To Bake

The lore will be awakened in the strangest crannies. In the texture of a historical novel with real grit and panache, in a book of odd poems picked up in a thrift store, in the tale the old man at the bus station tells you about his home back in the bayous. Go afield, go afield, friend. Find your leaven for the flat page and yeast it with your breath like fog, the feet tramping on foreign lanes. Bake your bread in the hollow of an old cooked-clay heart/h. Let words of peasants and sailors temper and flavor your understanding. Let their dialects pass through you, and tell the tales from one idiom to another, until they take on the grooves and grain of your own bones, for tales can only be retold from there. Become fibrous and sinewed and fleshy through wide immersion in the nooks and niches of the world, where spice and hue is coveyed away. There, entangled in the strange spell of the local, your home-Gods will begin to whisper to you in unfamiliar dialects, but you will know it is them, and their presence in protean drag will convince you that they are not fossils, but very much alive, and that the keys to unlocking the dead letters imprisoned on the page lie in foreign ports, where they were scattered long ago, and lore is like a treasure map. Go afield, go afield, friend. On the tongues of eccentrics, in the gnarled hands of old characters, in the breath of someone who has dared to de-homogenize (or never knew it at all) and really let a place or places seep into the riverpaths of his or her blood, you will hear the guiding echoes, like sonar, like the blip that lets you triangulate against the blind spot in your own knowledge. Let the peculiar, and those bold enough to become particular, so the vagaries of situation twist and live through their innards and hard-earned quirks, teach you. The folk, only the folk, hold the keys to the lore, and they are a motley crüe indeed. Drink at the spring where Whitman and Sandburg found their voice. The people, the odd fellows, own the lore ; whether they know it or not, it lives implicit in them, across them. It's in their landscapes. It's in the mountaineer and the old rural guy from Maine. It's in the eight-wheeler at the desert truck stop and the sassy waitress off the 10. It's in the archive photos in the basement of a local history museum, and the scratchy old ragtime record. It's in tales of ex-slaves on yellowed paper, and hocked broadsheet-style crib notes of other cultures' myths. It's in the prairie grass beside that lone tree about 200 yards off the side of the road. It's in the coyote that crosses your path. It's in the reverie after a nap. Strange memories awaken, glimpses, little flashes in a kaleidoscope that arrange themselves in your dreams with their own peculiar logic. And then, like a bee, you've got to regurgitate and reconsume many times before you get honey ; at first what you find so amazing is just spit and a little pollen. You'll have to test your findings in many halls, experience that crestfallen feeling of being rejected for fresh insight, crust over a little, resent the critique you get, admit some of it but not all of it was right, first grudgingly then more gratefully and humbly, modify, tumble, retell, refit, stick to your guns, throw it all away, put it aside, wonder why at all, rediscover your pith, trust your instincts, and take the fully cooked bread out of the oven, no longer doughy but not burnt : browned and warm with just the right amount of softness : just right. And it takes time to bake.

Sending Compassion to Our Japanese Cousins

Sigyn emptied the bowl, Loki flinched.
Aegir responded.
Njord, calm the waves ;
Love-goddess, soothe the hearts of our Japanese compatriots.
To them our compassion flows.

Those "Hard, Merciless" Vikings

1. várkunn (to feel woe, to feel compassion for)

2. kenna í brjósti um (to feel in the breast about/for, to feel compassion for)

3. aumka sik (to feel compassion for)

4. miskunn (to overlook, pardon, forgive, show mercy and grace)

5. eir (peace, clemency, mercy ; also please note that this is cognate with Anglo-Saxon ár, "honor", indicating the precise qualities for which one earned honor.)

Five different ways of expressing the notion of mercy, compassion, or clemency. Five. One of them is actually a heathen word for "honor", and also happens to be the name of the Goddess of Healing. Several words for the same concept in a language often indicates the importance of the concept.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Letting the Lore Go to Seed

Now what you've got to do is you've got to study the old lore, and really get to know it, and let it sink into your bones. You've got to take the many expositions from varied perspectives, the beautiful and elegant reasonings of the pagan philosophers and the cogent and penetrating insights of the best of modern scholars, and then you have to let this beautiful garden go to seed. You just let it go, and let it go wild, and hairy, and let it grow into what it will grow into.

One way to do this is to study folklore collected from the mouths of rural and working folk, whose lives inflect their lore with their grittiness, their color, and their texture. These from-the-mouth testimonies give a picture of how lore gone to seed can look, whether they are first-person narratives, as one finds in some of the Foxfire books (which compile oral histories from the Appalachias, and provide a wonderful inview on hillbilly life), or ballads.

Thus, the study, the lore, is just the seed-form. It will become wooly. It's that wooliness that characterizes heathenism. It's that wild, rustic edge that takes the beautiful seed, and lets it become its ruffled, hairy, thorny, stubby, tall and lush self.

This characterizes the lore of witches. When we look at the lore of medieval witches, we may think of it as impoverished and cut off from its heathen root, and at times that is true, but at other times, what they have done is they have merely taken that root and they have allowed it to come into its wild environment and branch off in the directions that it wills. It's that rough and tumble, tough as nails, sometimes scolding, often shrill, and grounded in women's mysteries, which were never written down by the hand of man, and thereby hold up an untapped mirror into the wholeness of the ancient wisdom of the heath, that is needed in order to complete our training.

Every master, every teacher, has an angle, has an inflection. They usually have a blind spot as well, but together, being passed from the hands of teacher to teacher, you can fill in a lot of the blind spots, and gain a much more holistic perspective. No one person, no one book holds the truth. It's that which grows between all of these which manifests truth, and I say "grows" between, because it's not just the between, but it's that going to seed of the learning that really brings out its flavor.

In the Looking Glass of the Exotic, I find I

I am looking at old sepia photos of Australian Aborigines, dressed in tribal paint, and decked in festive, feathered, ceremonial garb. Half-naked, hairy, bearded bodies geared with spears stand on rocks and the red earth, and beholding, something old and lost and very human comes alive within me. I look without romanticizing or demonizing. I look. I just look, and the picture becomes a deep, complex looking glass.

Allowing the Other to educate our ownness. We need the strange to fully awaken who we are. Why? For we are more than the shallowness of our early cultivation ; cross-fertilization keeps cultivation robust, and healthy, and alive. Too much self-sameness is unhealthy, like inbreeding. It is when a man goes out to meet and behold the strange that he or she awakens to hir fullness.

Too much identification with identity cripples the alterity which is our doorway to Beloved Mother Earth and our lifeline to all our relations. As we incarnate, we come into a specific kind and nation. We enter, mammalia, primate branch, homo Sapiens twig, modified by our nation's traditions. All of this is good to know, and affirm, but we are more than this. Our soul is more than this form. The Other challenges us, and therefore helps us, to remember.

Evolution must be integrated spiritually. It extends back our genealogy to the origins of Mother Earth herself, and that is quite a lineage. Quite a lineage indeed. We are crow, we are squirrel, we are orca, we are mongoose. But you can hardly find or integrate this if you cannot see yourself in the other nations of humankind, who provide a beautiful kaleidoscopic mirror in which to behold yourself in all your glory, for they are glorious, and so are you. Without trying to change the other, both are subtly changed in the encounter. The humanness intermingles with the strangeness, and a third perspective is achieved. Of course, their flaws and our flaws are obvious to each other, whose wonderful mirror can also hold these up for uncomfortable view. What blessings such discomforts! From such growth results! But to stay at the level of flaws is to remain outside the true juiciness and intermingling of the encounter. Strangeness has a draw which can only be called libidinal ; we shall let Njord, that God of sailors and sea-Vikings, rede over this draw, and teach our Odr within the lore of its lure. Odr, the human soul, our deep, emotional mind with all its power of imagination and folly of fantasy, must travel to find who he is, and only after death does he discover he has rhizomes connecting him to every sprout of man and every shoot of kind in all nine worlds!

In the picture, I recognize elders. What matter if they are distant, distant grand-uncles rather than in the direct line of fathers? Fools, they are twigs of the manly branch of that Great Tree we all worship through the Auspicious Gods! Mannaz, the fellowship of men, includes all humankind. It does not negate nations, although new tribes may bud on the edges where nations meet, as that Tree is always budding, and no harm to the other twigs in so doing. Nations are slow flows of greening become pith and sap-stocked fibre in time. Mannaz draws us out from the joys of our home and our tribe to see the fullness of man! To touch the exotic, dance with the exotic, feast with the exotic, and know ourselves in the touching and dancing and feasting, and the laughter that thereby comes. We go out all-human, shielded, and speared ; yet we lay down spear when spear is laid down, and greet the mug with clink and down of frothy foam. It's good.

It is seldom the stranger who scathes, but neighbors, rivals, old enemies grown stubborn in feuds so old their origins are often forgotten. The stranger stands outside these feuds, and thus is refreshing. We drink together and find our deep humanity, in all its mysteries. Isn't that what the Rune of Man is all about? There, in a foreign hall, however circumspect, their flaws and our flaws exposed, we can laugh at what fools we be, and fear the orc within, who seeded by trolls lurks within us all, yet also see reflection of the shining ones within us, too.

Thank the Gods for our diversities, and the openness to encounter them! Gads, this goes beyond, well beyond political correctness in an age appropriately trying to correct itself of historical shame and terrible error! This goes to the heart, to the pith, of what it means to be human! And that must always mean tribES, plural. Tribes. And the seekers between.

Our ancestors were seekers between. Oh, they were not always pure. Oh, they often, as all humans deluded by Heid, came to plunder. But that was not what fundamentally drew them out, even when gain was the bait. No, it was the Sea, the Vast, that waving Edge that brings one to the Strangeness. And in that strangeness is salvation. If only missionaries, who wrecked and twisted the wholeness of the viking to turn the other into self and thus erase the self, could see who drew them out from the start? But their Bible cannot allow them to see divinity in any other form, and so remain blind, at depth, to Njord. Let us not be so blind.

The Menstruum is the Open Door to Frigga

They don't teach you how to grow, as you get older, but the secret is you must grow backwards as you grow forwards, or you will end up confusing both ends and fall over lopsided. The tree must extend its roots as it stretches its branches.

Fools remind us of our own vanity, and ground our aspirations, ensuring we return to our roots and do not forget our animal sides.

This kind of grounding is necessary.

If you try to stay all light, you become or remain hollow. The light must come down into the blood and the soil to find its own. The rich red iron of the earth holds lessons for the light.

A woman knows this from her monthly blood, which teaches through crankiness the bottom line, which properly approached, is a good line. Our inability to integrate the period, very possibly the original sabbath, is our imbalance. There is a time to relax into the griping of the moment, and let nothing else hold sway. There is wisdom only the inner bitch will whisper, and if a werman refuse to love this ample, earthy flow of crampy mood within, he will be deluded.

Wermen are upside-down. They talk a good talk, but in the end, the end is where the head should be, and vice-versa, because dazzled (meaning befuddled) by their own talk, and pretensions of reason, they lose touch with their own drives. Then they can only speak of suppressing them, but never understanding and acknowledging them, and thereby flowing with them, and gaining access to their wisdom, without becoming a prisoner to them. Pretending they are wise, they become fools. This is why Odin had to hang upside down to become wise, to understand his rootedness in the drives and how they organically emerge up from beloved Mother Earth, whose perspective he had to take.

Wermen like to believe that they are not bitches, too, but to others their subterranean flows of moodiness, stubbornness, and crankiness are obvious. Allowing this deep animal woundedness through which one is cleansed is part of the menstrual wisdom of the earth. My ability to be a goddess flows from my ability to hold when I am a bitch. So should every man, werman or woman, be able to say, with grounded pride. In the mammalian line, the menstruum is the open door to Frigga.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mimir's Horn in Rydberg's Hands

There are those who would spurn and scoff at Rydberg. Let them, I say! I will not argue with fools, who gripe and whine about their myths being stolen from them, and then cannot see how they were hacked and fragmented, their shrapnel sent flying in hundreds of different directions, but refuse to gather them up and put the puzzle-pieces back together! I will not beg idiots to drink the proffered mug of foaming wisdom while they flounder in their ignorance! Be content in your poverty then!

Strong language you say? Strong ignorance, I say, to turn a blind eye to wisdom! Take that eye and hurl it into the Well instead! It's hard to keep from laughing at those whose mouths becry what the eye will not behold, and weep for what is lost and yet right before them! I shall not be meek in the face of willful ignorance, but will stand on the ground of my substantial knowledge and call out the true fools. No apologies for a brag grounded in deed.

Scoff at one of Sweden's greatest poets, who took that poet-mind (and keep in mind, that poet-mind was the pinnacle of our heathen wisdoms), and looked at the ancestral lore to see what patterns emerged? This was no shallow and baseless imposition, but an organic emergence over a decade of careful study of the primary sources!

If you are relying on Snorri alone, with little, pathetic snippets of the Poetic Edda, you, my friend, are an impoverished heathen. You have no clue and no idea how far and deep your lore really extends. It is not simply the "imagination" of some extravagant 19th century scholar, but solidly checks out when one truly reviews the lore. There are always small details to argue over in any field, but looked at broadly, as well as remarkably in the details, Rydberg's map, as a whole, checks out.

But "checks out" is a superficial evaluation. Fills out, broadens out, deepens : these are better words. A close study of Rydberg will fill your knowledge of the lore in a way no other study will. More importantly, this will not be vain, academic, dry, separative, will-to-keep-fragmented knowledge, but deeply interconnecting, fibrous knowledge, knowledge that will vibrate to the core of your soul and help you resonate to the wendings in the wind of the Tree itself. Here lies wisdom.

If you would refuse a quaff from Mimir's Horn because it lies in Rydberg's hands, be that flagrant fool you are, and cast yourself off into your parochial irrelevancies! Behold my command of lore, and ponder whether I have the resources to evaluate the claims of his investigations. I have done the homework, and the back-checking, and see the interconnection of myths and figures to whom you remain blind because you stand staring at the gaps between names, clueless to the polynymy that bridges the functional interstrewnness of variations! There is a composite picture herein, sir, if you would look! With mirth and gratitude, I will guide the eye to vistas, but I shan't waste a moment arguing with fools. I lay down the gauntlet and say, Drink, or go about your way, beggar.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Distrust Scarcity, Trust Abundance

Could it be that that which seems to be helping to destroy the world is also its salvation? This may sound paradoxical, but alchemy suggests all things in the right proportions, which means that all kinds of energies can be included, and it may just be that we don't have things in the right combinations. Dialectics suggests that the world twists and turns, and what sounds like contradiction is merely the many sides of paradox, to which we must adjust ourselves in order to find truth.

What I'm referring to is the attitude of "To hell with the world! I'm just going to have fun. I just want my life of pleasure."

Many would argue that it is this attitude which is leading the world to go to hell in a handbasket, because of its essential narcissism, and to the degree that the attitude is captured in narcissism, and people have no capacity for empathy, and no capacity for any kind of systematic thinking, yes, that can lead to a downfall ; and by placing responsibility only in the hands of the experts, it allows those experts to have much greater say over things. But at the same time, I think there's something essential about the idea of "to hell with the world, I just want to have a good time."

There's always something healthy about hedonism. Always. Whenever we hear a condemnation of hedonism, our ears ought perk up, and we ought suspect that there's some sort of scam at work. We ought suspect that someone is trying to pull something over on us. We ought suspect that there are monks with whips waiting in the wings.

Now this is not to say that we can't moderate hedonism, and we can't ask for it to hold its proper place. Obviously it sometimes needs to be put in place. But as an ingredient in the larger mix, it is necessary and essential.

Beyond this, it is not just pleasure that is important, but actually, fun, because fun implies a certain amount of frivolousness and it implies a certain orientation of play, and these are needed to combat deadly seriousness.

When our ecologists are enforcing on us a notion of scarcity and are approximating the austerity measures that the IMF and World Bank try to place on countries, telling us that this is how it is, and this is how it is going to be from hereonin, and we have to stop having fun, and get used to the economy being depressed, I begin to suspect that ecology has gotten hijacked, and a particular brand has gotten funded and propagated by interests who wish us to be austere while they go right on hoarding. The way with which the "underground" or "alternative" has just fallen in with this lock, stock, and barrel is frankly just disgusting.

This is not to say that the American consumeristic lifestyle is sustainable, but what it is to say is that we ought to be placing ourselves at all times on at least that side of the balance that tends towards hedonism and playfulness and fun. Now, yes, obviously, that will include a level of self-management that implies a certain level of seriousness and a certain level of taking responsibility for things, but frankly, from my standpoint, one of the things that is entirely wrong with this world is its overemphasis on deadly seriousness, and moreover, the emphasis on scarcity, and that we should adapt ourselves to scarcity. Wow, we might as well just give our birthrights up if that's the case!

Because in fact, this is an abundant world! It's a completely abundant world. Now, we have been exploiting it, and whenever you engage in exploitation, there's going to be blowback, so we need to figure out how to work with things. What's needed is not austerity. What's needed is a kind of Taoism, an active working with Wyrd.

And of course, we haven't been. We have not been doing that at all. We've had a completely imperial way of doing things, of imposition, where we take the attitude that we're just going to do what we want and to hell with any other considerations. When we want a resource, we just go in and we take it. When we want something to be made out of that resource, we go in and we impose that on the resource, and if we have to pay people 30 cents a day in order to do so, then we'll do that, too. Well, this is arrogance.

So there is a price to be paid for arrogance. There is a price to be paid for empire. But the lie of empire is, Well, you can have abundance through empire and imposition, or you can have austerity and you can live as impoverished monks. Well, what bullshit is that!

And if there's anything positive that Ezra Pound, in all of his insanity and his deplorable fall into anti-Semitism, has to give us --- and there still is a baby there in the bathwater not to be thrown out --- it is, don't believe the lie of scarcity, because that's artificial scarcity.

This doesn't mean there aren't some means to be lived within, but don't accept an external notion from outside your concrete situation, outside your authentic needs, and outside the palpable abundance of the earth, of what that is. Don't begin by limiting yourself. Instead, let's think systematically of ways in which felicity, lightness, playfulness, and the natural unfolding and blossoming of human capacity can become the hallmarks of a production that will facilitate abundance and happiness. Let's affirm that these are possible, and that against the notion of classics as things which are heavy and weighty and to which we must give the full weight of deadly seriousness, that instead, true poetry and true creation is about making things lighter so that they can be enjoyed more. And to use a metaphor, to approximate this world, just a little bit more, to adjust it towards Elfland, where things are a little bit lighter and more enjoyable. And the elves are children of Mother Earth! That's what life should be about. We should be adjusting life towards joy, and following our joy.

Joseph Campbell called it "following your bliss", and he distinguished it from a kind of crude and vulgar hedonism, which I have called the "Roman attitude towards partying", an imperial seizing of pleasure that really has no authentic joy in it. This statement of Campbell's is exactly the right formula. Whether there are deadly serious people who think that is our downfall or not, fine, let it be our downfall, because I had rather go down being me than thrive being something I am not, and it is that kind of defiance and Luciferian spirit, coupled with a biophiliac love of life that I think will bring our salvation.

This is a matter of trusting Frey and Freya. It's a matter of turning around from exploitation and imperialism, and turning towards the earth, and following the way of wyrd, and trusting that that will bring the abundance we need. Too often scarcity is a result of hoarding. Let us not let Angrboda -- she who bodes angst, frightening us with fires that may come -- speak to us of ecology. What does she know or care of the earth? At the same time, let us allow the natural, abundantly flowing joy and love of Frey and Freya to temper our desires so that our simple yearnings for simple pleasures and rich festivity do not blow out of proportion into a greed that would eat the earth, but rather sate themselves on the fruits of good work. We have a choice. We can walk Gullveig's road, never sated, never allowing ourselves to fully enjoy, because we are frightened of scarcity, and restrict our options, or we can walk Frey and Freya's road, and permaculturally work with nature, and discover her natural abundance. Is there a way we can trust our sense of fun, and still flow with the Earth's wondrous ways?

Faith says of course there is. Trust abundance. Distrust scarcity.

Emissaries from the Roots, Dolphins above the Waves

Tonight I crawled on my hands and knees through the grass and ran my fingers through it, and kissed the earth. I felt the interwoven mat of the grass, solidly held together as an interconnected whole, and my soul went down, down into the earth, down into the root-world.

We are emissaries from the roots. We are emanations from the thick and deep. We have emerged up into separation from the whole, in order to speak what the whole must say. We are moments of the grassrooted, knotty, intricate foundation, that swaying prairie-ocean, that thick fund of ancestral unity where all is solidarity and interwovenness so thick there is no separation, and yet still breathing room. We are emissaries with some light to bring, expressions of the deep come up to drink the sun, to say something from the deep with our living. To come up as on the foam, in effulgence and glory. And not just to serve ourselves, though we may find comfort, but for that there is something to say through our living, through our living itself. The rising and falling, the circulation of life up from the depths, and then back down again. As it rises up, taking in glory of sunlight, and then diving back down, like the dolphins in the ocean, like flying fish. Even the whales leap out of the water. That is us, our souls. Oh, to join again in that deep, that wonder. That's what praying is all about, praying as deep imaginal participation in the deep things of this world. We pray to reconnect ; we pray to remember. To know that we are sacred and that we do have a sacred task to carry out.

We are in pain because we are separated, and yet this separateness is our glory to rise! To rise and touch the world of sunlight, and bring some of that sunlight back down. Do not pray for what praying can do for you, but pray for what you may do for the life-world, for it is your separation from that life-world which causes you your pain. We must remember that the world is not here for us but we for the world. That opportunity to serve with the flowering of our talents and joy is our glory. Our lives are not perfect in a world run by giants but we still have the opportunity to participate in something wondrous and larger than ourselves. That gives life meaning, and a meaningful, worthwhile life is one of the greatest gifts, even if it is hard at times.

The Earth matters. Joy and Love are in charge, if we will quit abandoning them to the ice because of greed and technology out of control, and if we will understand that our rationality runs deeper than the analytical mind, for its roots run through the deeper mind that flow down into the moebial twists of Wyrd's ribbons, from whence we are intricately, inextricably a part of all this, the threads of our being cross-stitched onto this rippling warp and woof. We are the rise of the depths itself, the fold of the lower planes emerging up into a wave of ongoing world, crashing down into itself again, ripple upon ripple running across that crenullated fabric of the deeper weave, from whence all hopes emerge. Death is simply the deeper life, and we are its emissaries, to seed this life more superficial with depth of wisdom and energy of greening. It falls down, having risen, and shall rise again.

Faith : An Essential Part of Heathenism

I've heard some people say that faith is not a native part of our heathen religion. These people ought to know that faith and its cognate words are pagan words. The faith may be different than the kind of faith of the Christian religion, but we utilize faith every day.

When someone gives you a dollar, why do you take it? Because you have faith that you will be able to utilize that dollar and exchange it for something else of value. You have confidence and trust. The reason faith is needed is because there are gaps. There are gaps between when a person puts a dollar in your hand and when you take that dollar and go get the thing you want. It's a gap. It's not an obvious connection. It's a chasm. But it's a chasm that you're willing to leap. There are chasms in life. There are challenges. The world works in such nonlinear and knotted ways that often our faith is tested. Sometimes it seems as if nature is working against us, when we simply haven't discovered its twirling, spiralled flows. Trust is needed, just as we invest trust and confidence in money.

The world is built on trust. The world is built on faith. The question is, what do we put our faith into? These questions of faith are essential to any kind of religiosity. It is the confidence with which we put into things that determines our ability to move throughout the uncertainty in the world. I mention the faith behind the money system because it is that practical orientation towards faith which is essential for a heathen religiosity. Here is the real question of where do you demonstrate worth? We can look at that from another angle : where do you put your faith? Where do you invest your confidence?

Do you put your faith in Beloved Mother Earth? Is she beloved to you? For you see, if she were beloved to you, there are things you simply wouldn't permit and to happen to her. And you'd have faith that her herbs and the things growing out of her can be helpful and healing.

This is a question of faith in the Gods. It's not a matter of having a contrafactual imagination. It's a matter of having confidence that there's something real behind what you're speaking ; and if there's not something real behind what you're speaking, why are you speaking it? The Gods don't want lip-service. If we will trust the Gods, and really truly put our faith in them, then we can begin to connect to some magnificent, marvelous things, and things that faith in the Gods will be able to give, that the mere faith of the monotheist religions cannot give, because they do not have faith in the Earth, because they do not have faith in fertility, because they do not have faith in the wisdom of the winds. They do not perceive the sacredness permeating and running through this world. There are forces of corruption and forces of evil in this world, but their idea that the world is so permeated with evil that it is irredeemable is blasphemous to our heathen sensibility. There is good in the world! That is why we fight evil! And, beyond fighting evil, more to the point, we bolster up, we berm up, we surround and hedge and guard, and we nourish, the good.

We often begin as pagans engaging in a kind of play-activity. Play is the way that we human beings initiate ourselves into new realities. Play is how animals come to develop into adults. So as children, we come to play at faith. We begin, and our faith is little more than that suspension of disbelief that characterizes theatre-goers, and allows them to enjoy themselves for the duration of the show. But the suspension of disbelief is not something that can last for long unless that confidence begins to take root. And that's what we need to do. We need to get to the point where these names, these holy names that we have begun to use but barely understand --- we barely understand what these names -- Odin, Frigga, Thor --- we barely understand what they mean, for we are children reciting magical formulas that we don't comprehend --- and ground them in existential depth that undergirds our realism and the orientation of our activity. But the more that they take root, and the more confidence that we're willing to put into them, the way that we would put confidence into a dollar bill we were given, and run with it, the more powerful the experiences and possibilities will become. When someone gives you a dollar bill for something you've given, how do you know you haven't just been stolen from? If you took a completely 'atheistic' attitude towards money, you just gave something away. You're not going to get anything in return for it. You just got a piece of paper. But every day, even when we doubt the monetary system, even when we're having questions about it, even when people are telling us that inflation is going up, despite all that, until the point that people actually are taking wheelbarrows full of paper bills to the banks, every day we're acting on it. Can you act on your faith in the Gods with that kind of conviction?

Can we get to the point where we can see that it was our orientation that was out of touch with reality? The orientation that we thought was realistic. The "realistic" orientation that stands in the way of our confidence in the spiritual reality about us. It was our thought that the Earth was not alive that has been at the root of so many of our problems. It was the lack of faith that spirit permeates this world that has allowed us to devoid it of the intelligence with which we could enhance our rationality! That shamanism and analysis don't have to be at loggerheads! They can work together. If we will invest faith, find the roots of faith, then faith will no longer be contrafactual. It will instead be rooting into the ground and searching and seeking the deeper roots of reality, the deeper realities, and we will no longer be attacking symptoms! Realism will no longer be a matter of looking at symptoms, but a matter of going for the roots of things. This is radical faith, radical because the word "radical" means to go to the radix, to the roots. That's where faith becomes powerful, and it is absolulutely a part of our heathen sensibility.