Thursday, May 26, 2011

Traditional Peoples Ban Logging

In the Philippines, "Green Guerillas" (click link to go to You Tube Video, in 3 parts) assist the indigenous tribespeople in ousting the logging companies and imposing a complete ban on logging for export, with limited use for domestic purposes. They are resisting a government that has aligned itself with imperialist forces of globalization trying to outlaw tribal autonomy and attack Old Growth forests.

I cannot think of a modern struggle more in keeping with the spirit of our Germanic ancestors in their struggles against Rome to preserve their sacred groves.

This represents a tremendous moment, where warriors have aligned themselves with traditional law, to preserve the habitat and tribal autonomy of the indigenous peoples in this area. They have pro-actively begun reforestation, with a diverse variety of native vegetation, to counter the depredations of economic, imperial extraction.

The tale of imperial extraction is, unfortunately, an old story. "To feed the insatiable appetites that such greed spawned, forests, observed Seneca, had to be ravaged. The material needs of Rome's wild building schemes were met, in part, by lumberjacks felling trees ... Rome sacked the barbarian world for the resources it needed. In the process Rome transformed the conquered provinces according to its own image : a former wilderness tamed by human hands. After a century of Roman rule, the landscape of the provinces began to resemble the civilized countryside of Italy. These changes led one writer at the end of the second century A.D. to exclaim, "...There are few places now that are not accessible ; few unknown ; few, unopened to commerce. Forests have given way before the plough, cattle have driven off beasts of the jungle, and where once there was but a settler's cabin, great cities are now to be seen." (John Perlin, A Forest Journey : The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization, W.W. Norton & Company, New York/London, 1989 , p. 115, and after first ellipsis, p. 124.) This was a fundamental reason for resisting Rome, because conquest and transformation into a province destroyed the habitat and turned the homeland into a resource extraction area, followed by a fierce pace of deforestation. We must remember that at the outset of European conquest, tribal Europe consisted of settlements nestled like islands within virtual oceans of forest. "The Romans encountered ... densely forested conditions when they expanded into western Europe ... For native Romans like Caesar, accustomed to cultivated fields and large cities, the vast wilderness of what we now know as the "Old World" set the Roman imagination ablaze much as the "New World" of North America fired up European consciousness some fifteen hundred years later. The vastness of the forest of Hercynia in Germany hypnotized many a Roman. Pliny ... humbled by its pristine quality, leading him to believe that the forest had been "untouched by the ages" and remained unchanged since the world began. Its seemingly immortal state led Pliny to believe that the Hercynian wilds "surpassed all marvels."" (Ibid, p. 108.) The forests themselves helped shield the native tribes from the onslaught of imperialism. "The forests, however, slowed the pace of subjugation. The native populations relied on the cover of the forest to increase their odds in their battles against a better armed and more organized foe trained in open-field warfare." (Ibid, p. 110.) In defending the forests, the tribal warriors were defending their people and their customs ; in defending their people and their customs, they were defending the forests.

I suggest that all heathens study this video in a spirit of solidarity, and with an eye for parallels with the many battles in which the generations surrounding Arminius engaged. In this way, connection to the larger humanity that is under the gun of empire can be fostered, transforming what might remain idle theoretical engagements with ancestral material into palpable solidarity with pagan tribespeople struggling to defend their own heaths all around the world.

This video, contemplated with a deep mind, offers the possibility for modern heathens to pierce beneath the veil of imperial warfare, and rediscover the notion of guerilla warfare aligned with traditional, indigenous law that characterized their barbarian ancestors. It is this kind of comparison with living practice on the ground that allows our source documents about our own ancestors to come alive, so that we can align ourselves with their authentic spirit, a spirit which has the power to fire up our own insurgent spirits to blaze against the darkness of empire in our times. The opportunity to learn about the kind of warfare practiced to protect grove and tribe and unique customs is powerful, allowing us to move from generic militaristic sentiments and jingoism to the more specific kinds of struggle in defense of the folk that the Gods honored, lending their forces of strength, fierceness, justice, and wisdom. The living comparison allows us to penetrate beneath the feudal scum that overlays like a film our later Scandinavian documents, to understand the pre-feudal, odal warriors who defended their beloved Mother Earth. This also allows us to shed the deplorable right-wing mentality imposed upon this traditional material by fascists of all stripes and genealogies, who sought to utilize it to justify their neo-feudalism. Herein is a chance to glimpse and get at the genuine juice.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Return to the Ideals Inherent in Time

You are responsible before the divine for the form of government to which you give assent, for from that form shall either flow or be obstructed the justice, balance, love, compassion, discipline, and generosity that characterizes the divine, and which shall rule the everyday interactions of your people. Let it become corrupt, let it refuse to find justice, let it slip from wise foundations and basic freedoms, and the instrument through which the divine may, with human consent, in large part bestow their blessings upon the world is wrecked and made crooked. Ancients knew the profound connection between rulership and corn, for wise laws, seeking harmony with nature's flows, and allowing each to eke and share the earth's produce in equity and justice, are the husband of fertility and prosperity. Let the instrument of law be bent from truth and freedom, be twisted from equity and justice, and large measures of well-intentioned actions become vain, neutralized by a crooked law. The stakes are life and death, freedom or slavery, as the sovereign body of the people is where war or peace is declared, the fount of blood or good harvests, and from where laws uplift and edify already good customs, or engrave the worst of the worst, binding the good of heart in chains of ineffectiveness or worse.

The constitution of your polity, therefore, is the bedrock of your relation to the divine, for it has power to affect even the other channel of divine influence, nature. Although natural catastrophes may dwarf at times the power of human beings, the polity may magnify or diminish this power, in both its good and bad aspects, so that a catastrophe of polity only magnifies a natural catastrophe, while a just and benevolent polity heals, soothes, and brings back into balance nature when she is shook by giant storms. When the constitution is sound, the imperfections inherent in human nature may be slowly corrected, and small errors, soon to be addressed and made right, are prevented from bursting out into greater errors which breed even worse mistakes. Such steady, if rough, justice, smooths out the jagged edges of culture over time, so that a good constitution becomes a tumbler in which the rough ore of a people is gradually polished into a gleaming gem. This happens not so much through positive interference, but a via negativa that releases the chains from the good, allowing it to freely flow, by binding that which would interfere with it.

In the beginning, gifts of spirit and soul, wisdom and cognition, transcendence and immanence, striving and satisfaction, were given to humankind. Yet in those same beginnings were sown the seeds of greed and envy, and fraud and deceit. When such mendacity combines with such unending coveting, the results are the strangulation of the people from within, the spread of pestilence and dis-ease, and unending, devouring war. The polity of a nation conditions the soil that inhibits or allows these seeds to grow. Good governance is weeding out the rampant thorns and composting them to generate in time, gradually but steadily, fertile soil. It is taming the axe to respect the trees, from which all good flows.

Far more profound than an uncritical celebration of ancestors, then, who embrace both the wicked and the benevolent, the indolent and the industrious, is a study, veneration, and dreaming-on of the laws of the founding fathers and mothers, who, clear in their naked and terrible responsibility towards the divine, set out to perfect the good customs of the kingdom. This study allows us to assess the progression or deviation of our present laws from the principles, plans, and rede of our forefathers. Inasmuch as they acted as judges over the laws, and therefore as priests before the divine, we may through them come closer in communion before the divine, correcting our own errors and deviations. For bad customs, allowed to propagate by ill laws, are like the gradually slanting supports of a house, which in time, uncorrected, cause the house to fall. In time, one begins to accept as normal that which is odious. Fidelity to the principles of the founders, in tune with profound meditation upon the divine, given perspective by communion in wild nature, allows the proportions of things to reemerge from their distortions. Fidelity does not imply conformity to the entirety of the founders' actions and statements, but it does imply a loyalty which gives benefit of the doubt, and which stays true to the course of the principles. History, being such an imperfect medium for the intentions of eternity, decrees that the proclamations of the ancestors were made under imperfect conditions, which new conditions in time may allow correction. But there is a punctiliousness and attention to the deeds and statements of the founders which amounts to a kind of veneration, which is necessary in order to correct whatever errors their imperfect conditions may have thrust upon them.

One is faced, for example, with a historical condition of raiding tribes at the dawn of Germanic history, and yet soon thereafter, a body of laws that clearly circumscribe theft, and one is left to wonder about such a contradiction. Only dialectics can allow us to grasp the circumstances of both and reconcile them, because the situations of a time inflect and draw out differing values from the background principles of a people. What is appropriate in one situation may not be appropriate in another. Under conditions of liberty, whereby prosperity may blossom, respecting laws of property is simply a way of recognizing liberty and right ; and yet, where liberty has given way to institutionalized plunder, given color of right (but nothing more than color) through crooked laws, treaties, or even their abrogation through war, reappropriation may be appropriate, as a way of expropriating the expropriators. As the internal contradictions of the Germanic tribes, given rough harmony and balance by their constitution, crashed up against the intrusions of Roman Empire, equilibrium was disrupted, and in the process, Rome was able to take advantage of the resulting divisions in order to further their conquests.

Fast-forward some seventeen-hundred or eighteen-hundred years, to the times of an English people on a new continent trying to perfect their ancient laws to the time, but also to perfect the time to the ancient principles, and we discover in the debates surrounding the Federalist Papers, statesmen attempting to reconcile the ancient liberties with protection against division. Such concern against division was apparent in the original constitution of the Teutons as gleaned by Julius Caesar, as their own jubilee-like legislation, annually redistributing the agricultural land (bound about by common lands, woodlands, and pastures) to transform fluctuations of inclement to equity of fertility, was designed to prevent the emergence of factions and class war. While enterprise and adventure might be met by luck with increased wealth, and boldness and courage met by the people with increased esteem, every one having holdings roughly equivalent to everyone else meant that mild, existent inequality did not transform into widespread inequity. Unfortunately, due to the triumph of feudalism under the adjustment of Teutonic law to Roman institutions (and we are in the debt of our courageous forefathers that that Teutonic law did not dissolve entirely against such overwhelming odds), the jubilee-odalism of the Teutonic constitution had already dropped out of the laws that English folk received from their ancestors, and thus was unavailable for consideration or improvement by America's founding fathers. Nevertheless, their attention to Anglo-Saxon heritage was pronounced, with Jefferson announcing that the goal was to restore the pre-Norman integrity of the common law through adjusting it to the history (and all the lessons of a tyrannous, contested history) of the times. Jefferson had hoped that guarantee against monopoly would be enshrined in the bill of rights, but unfortunately, this did not pass. Had it passed, at least in part the spirit of the old redistribution laws, a bulwark against monopolistic power, would have received recognition in our constitution.

When I despair over present-day corruption (and such despair is rational in the face of such widespread breakdown of liberty and its blessings), my recourse is to attention to the basic principles of law, the constitution which is only partially articulated in the United States Constitution, but receives greater explication in Magna Charta and all its reaffirmations, and which stretches back to the principles underlying the Teutonic tribes living in their forests, as described by Caesar and Tacitus ; for it is by these laws, and moreso the principles enshrined in them, that the imperfections of the time may be adjusted to the ideals of the divine. Inattention to these principles is hazardous indolence before the divine. The reason the founders may be treated with a kind of veneration is due to their awareness of their responsibility to the divine as it manifests in history. If we do not share an equal anxiety over the portentiousness of our laws and deeds, we may be rightfully accused of being cosigners to monstrous corruption, and subject to the indignation and indictment of our descendants. Everything in Teutonic tradition suggests that a return to origins, grounded in this present moment of time, but exploring its roots to the deepest sources, is the fountain of renewal, and the way in which we wash ourselves from the accumulated dirt of error and inevitable flaw. The concept of Zeitgeist, the Spirit of the Time, should not be reduced to the lowest common denominator, lest it become the demon or thurs of the time and not the spirit, nor simply to reigning opinion, but rather the call of the majority and its leaders to the Ideal that is pregnant within the times, and which it is possible to midwife if all capacities are given full reign and exercise. Zeitgeist may be stillbirthed by clumsy, inattentive hands. It is, properly, a gift from the Gods inseminated into history, which we may, in the emergence of this moment, either attend or neglect, but such neglect is a tort, a twisting of right. Thus, while we must attend to the practicalities of the present, if we do not condition our perception of those practicalities by equal attention to the Ideal which is really and actually present in potential in this moment, we will not even grasp what is possible to achieve. Moreover, the degradations of corruption degrade our souls, and too much attention given to corruption begins to rot our enjoyment of life. One must return to the ideals encapsulated in principles behind law (and true religion) in order to find one's renewal.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Paying Your Dues to Frigga

Biophilia is a part of paying your dues to Frigga. Life is precious, and every lifeform is her child, so you must give account of every life you take. Account may simply mean, "I needed this to feed my family. I needed this to house my family. This was a poisonous spider that could have threatened my family," etc. But it means recognizing the wonder and splendor of life, and never taking life intentionally without giving weight to that child of Frigga. (Of course, the flotsam/jetsam of life is such that in the midst of bounding through the world, many creatures may get crushed without our even taking notice, but even here we should still from time to time reflect, with compassion in our hearts, on those creatures trampled in the midst of our clumsy marauding through the world, and ask Frigga for gifts of greater grace in our travels. Yes, this can even be done by bold, hearty men with gusto and a little machismo in their hearts. While strength does not imply walking on eggshells in the world, but bounding with a confident stride, it also does not disclude sensitivity and appropriate, heartful regret and willingness to drink in the joys of this bittersweet life.)

The point here is not to introduce more guilt into a guilt-politics of life, but rather, to introduce more wonder into a life often far too banal, so that we can realize the overbursting beauty and supercharged splendor about us everywhere.

But it requires us to shapeshift. We are so chauvinist regarding our human form. How often we, the egomaniacs of the planet, assume we are the gods of this earth (at least implicitly, if not explicitly). Yet we know that Odin shapeshifts into the many creatures, and there is reason and purpose behind this, as well as great theological play. If we wish to touch Odin's mind, we could do worse than to imagine ourselves into the creatures as well.

I had a wonderful reverie last night drifting in and out of sleep, where I imagined myself into the body of a whale, in the primeval ocean, long before there were humans, and I was swimming with my pack of whales, and we were strong, and we were undefeatable in our own right, and we embodied grandeur and a solemn playfulness playing out in grace beneath and above the waves. I let my tail-fin linger above the waves before I glided back with a splash into the waters. As a human being, my imagination allows me to identify with other creatures, and gain glimpses into what it is like to be them. There is a communion possible between all creatures of Beloved Mother Earth, and to love her, and to honor her, is to study and pursue that communion, and learn to increasingly embody it in our life.

This means that the crawling things, too, deserve our empathy and identification, for they are the most numerous of Frigga's children. There are more species of beetle on this planet than any other kind of animal. As Joanne Elizabeth Lauck says in her marvelous The Voice of the Infinite in the Small : Revisioning the Human-Insect Connection (a book that any devotee of Frigga ought study as a guidebook), if we were to imagine whom the Earth loves the most by the sheer number and variety of creatures she wombed forth, we would have to say that Frigga has a love-affair with beetles. The Western mind automatically shrinks from this. We like to identify with sleek, masterful mammals, like deer or lions (each wondrous in their own right). Yet beetles and other crawling things have their own kind of wonder. Joanne Lauck points out that our alienation from and demonization of insects is literally killing us, as we poison the planet in order to wipe out insects. Pesticides are implicated in over 80% of cancers, not to mention all the other illnesses including asthma that they cause. Because we have chosen warfare against life, instead of harmony with wyrd, we are in the process destroying ourselves, and pulling everyone else down with us, all because we fail to develop empathy with the alien forms of life on our own world.

(Indeed, for those who dream of interstellar exploration, in search of alien life, if you haven't yet learned to appreciate the sentience alive and swarming on your own planet, what chance do you have of appreciating Frigga's creatures on other worlds?)

The other creatures on this planet matter to the Gods as much as we do. They love their beauty, their litheness, their place in the biomes where they thrive. We are sharing this planet ; we are not here to dominate. That is the imperial delusion. It is not native to heathenism.

An important corrective to the idea that harm solely comes from jotnar spirits is the truth that when we act like jotnar in the world, the spirits of the other creatures in the world become angry at us. Let us not have a nursery-vision of spirits. Just because other spirits are not fundamentally malevolent does not mean that no matter how we behave in the world that they are going to be angelically benevolent towards us either. Long ago treaties were struck with the spirits of other beings in the world, and shamans were the diplomats who renegotiated breaches of treaty in order to heal the world. Yet about 5000 years ago, in the Near East reckoning, Gilgamesh began to tear up the sacred groves, and this legacy in time passed on to Rome, and over those long centuries, which pale against the longer period of harmony in keeping with the treaties, the treaties were not only broken, but forgotten. Because of this, we are at war with many of the other creatures in the world, and their angry spirits often ensure that the war is not one-sided.

Because domination is not true grandeur, it will take acts of humility on the parts of dominators like ourselves in order to discover grandeur. This may seem paradoxical, but it is true. We are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to find ways, in all our strivings, in all the battles we fight to forge a place for ourselves, of living in harmony with the other wights of this world.

That is the Way of Wyrd. It is the Good Way.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Are The Gods Persons?

There is nothing requiring us to experience the Gods as persons. There is a convention by which we may relate to them when we are in that mode, but nothing defines what the divinities are, and how their energies and essences infuse the world. We have traditional imagery and dialogue, all of which is indicative of personification, but as to whether this personification must be taken literally is a question up to each user and worshipper as to their present moment of devotion and experience.

The personifications are formal means of speaking in human terms the divinity of certain forces in the world. To believe in the Gods does not necessarily mean that one must commit to a personification. It can mean that through the personification, just as light passes through a stained glass window, one affirms the reality and the worth of that numinosity in the world, and that that numinosity is divine. Of course, at times, because we are human and we like things with a face, we may put a face upon that numinosity, but we understand that the Gods are mysteries that may be experienced in multiple ways, and this keeps us from becoming literalists.

Of course, the divine forces that we give a face to are actual realities in the world, to which we stake our lives upon their importance, but the personifications may be seen as meditative conventions through which we are able to experience forces far transcendant to our human brains. Now, that doesn't disqualify, invalidate, or dishonor any of the worship forms that are geared in the direction of personification. Personification is an honored means of reverencing, and should be honored, but it's not the sole means of relating. There will be times in which we will simply experience the Gods in a faceless, personless way, their multiple colors intertwining like ribbons in a pantheistic experience of the world.

Emmanuel Goldstein

I have one phrase, a simple phrase, an old writ from English law, a particular judicial demand : habeas corpus.

The Light of the Sun is Truth

The social-political world is becoming increasingly infused with lies, and if you have eyes for truth, something grows dim within one's soul, which is why one needs to regularly get outside into nature, because the light of the sun is truth. The green growing up from the earth is truth. The leaves that fall and hang from the boughs of trees is truth. The flowers are truth. Truth surrounds us. We are immersed in truth, and within that truth of juiciness within the world is the world's savings from the lie, the lie which spreads itself through the human medium, that frail being, because he has been implanted with the power of questioning, has also the power to falter, has also the power to bend from the truth and the light. If we recognize this questioning ability then we can utilize this questioning and frame our questions upon the trunks of truth that green about us, refresh our sap from pure sources, realign our notions of truth from a twisted world of politics back to the baseline, what matters. God, divinity, is here in the world. The Gods infuse the world with brilliance, with hope, and with breath, and it is these things we must remember in dark times. We must remember that life is furious, it is irrefutable. It is a persistence that challenges even the greatest defeats. Although they will remain radioactive for hundreds of years (and we shouldn't shunt our vision to the tragedy and its implications), the vegetations and trees sprout anew around Chernobyl. Life has a ferocity in its tenacity, and if you want to hear what the Gods are speaking, not just whispering but shouting, go to the natural things around you : touch them, smell them, feel them. More than in the myths, more than in old poems, there you will feel the pulsations of the divine speaking directly to your fingertips and your nostrils and your ears and eyes, and the intuition behind these perceptions. In a time filled with lies that grow more blatant and emerge from sources we once trusted as faithful, we must return to the truth that is alive around us everywhere.