Sunday, March 06, 2011

Gods Who Goad Us Into Adventure

We must always be on guard against the fact that religion itself (as a social-political phenomenon that tends to domesticate spirituality to petty social dynamics and polemical ambitions) is often a prime culprit in emasculating the liberating inspiration the Gods give. Religion often preserves spirituality while putting it on ice. All too easily the whirlwind forces of the mighty Gods, which blow to spur divine impulses within the human breast into action (many do not know the relationship between the word Aesir, the Gods, and æsa, to stir up and excite ; the Aesir are precisely stirrers and exciters), are neutered through patronizing, half-hearted "going through the motions", without activating their energies from within, in order to transform life.

The Gods give you the awesome opportunity to mimic them, which as the cliche tells us, is the highest form of flattery. They don't do your work for you. But they provide you with bold models, daring deeds, and colorful strategies and personalities with which you can infuse your life with vitality and above all with action. Heathenism is an activist religion. That means our devotion to these stirring, spurring Gods must invest our tradition with powerful countercurrents to the demobilization that often accompanies religion. The Gods want us mobilized, in the field, actively tackling problems with fresh, innovative tactics inspired by our tradition of wisdom and bold deeds.

The Gods are continually invoked in Arminius' anti-imperialist war against Rome, as documented in Tacitus' Annals. They served to stir to action. I thought of this when I ran across a quote of Mao Tse-Tung, who was speaking to a group of peasants whose peasant associations had successfully liberated them from exploitative feudal overlords, and ridiculing their ancestral religion. "The gods and goddesses are indeed miserable objects. You have worshipped them for centuries and they have not overthrown a single one of the local tyrants or evil gentry for you!" I don't know much about these local deities, but I can only assume that the religion, under the pressures of centuries of feudalism (oppression can often motivate people to make compromise after compromise and permit encroachment upon encroachment on their ancestral religions, in an effort to at least preserve them, as ruling powers often don't tolerate religious movements that oppose their rule) had emasculated the insurrectional force of the divine. I thought of Germanic freemen side by side with their indigenous nobility in the Thing, all armed. I thought of the stories of Frey organizing the folk into militant mutual-aid associations and guerilla cadres when the giants invaded Midgard, and how the memories of these tales continued to circulate as Robin Hood stories in England, where they perennially inspired revolts. A truly Gods-incited folk (I do not know how else to define Asatru) will not brook oppression long. Heimskringla is filled with histories of armed peasants confronting and even fighting kings who overstepped the laws. Norwegians left Norway in force for Iceland rather than put up with oppression. But the danger spoken to in the quotation is always alive : that religion will become a consoling, demobilizing force for unfree people. But we must continually raise the banner, No True Spirituality Without Authentic Freedom! The taxidermied corpse of spirituality, traded back to us by tyrants of all stripes and strivings in exchange for our freedom, must ever be refused for the live fire of the Gods' holy and dangerous-to-tyrants whirlwind-inspiration!

Worship of the Gods does not mean waiting for them to liberate you ; it means taking up the torch they and their inspired heroes offer, and activating oneself in the face of life, and daring to seize the opportunities to expand the possibilities of freedom and enjoyment within this lifetime! And the only way to know how far you can get away with is to take your chance and try! You hardly have a wyrd at all if you do not take your chances ; it will remain a dormant wyrd, and you will reap the pettiness of its suppression in the face of your timidity. A truly wyrd life has something eccentric to it, because it steps outside the norm to grasp the exceptional. The Gods are inspiring excellence in you. Are you listening? Are you doing anything about it?

This will be relative to your station. You try to improve your lot from where you are. If you have been a wrong-doer, the call of excellence will inspire you to work off your debt and atone for your wrongs. If you are a basically decent human being, the call of excellence will inspire you to live the best life you can, taking on and fulfilling your responsibilities with diligence and a good heart. If you are extraordinarily gifted, the call of excellence will inspire you to climb the pole of nobility by developing all your talents, stretching your wisdom, and dedicating yourself to educating and enriching your folk while also working to protect them and the entire spiritual tradition from forces which would wreck the good that has been won. But if the lowest, wrong-doers and unrepentant robbers, have usurped the titles of excellence, and broken thereby their trust from the Gods, all who have faith in the holy Gods must band together with all their might to oust and enthrall them, making them yield tribute to the folk for their treasonous crimes, as Scyld Scefing, our oldest Jarl under Rig, once did when he terrified all the treacherous earls and restored the divine order Rig had established : a tradition of meritocracy based on wisdom, lore, the heritage of heroes, and good work. Scyld took those traitors and recycled them right back to the bottom of the barrel where they belonged : thralls working off their debt to society. That our first of patriarchs engaged in an essentially revolutionary war against corrupt earls ought prove an example to us, and keep a little healthy fear in our leaders. When they stand for our rights, and champion the powerful and wise inspirations of our Gods, they have our strong loyalty, but if they should break this trust, our All-Father, a tester of kings, will inspire us to sacrifice them to Him (in this day and age through deposition) to restore the dignity to office.

These are political examples. But in all arenas of life our worship ought be goading us to dare more, live more, and enjoy the adventure, rather than resign ourselves to the complacency, of our lives.


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