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.