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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this essay. I've chewed over many of the same things, albeit from a Druidic perspective. I always find your pieces inspired and right on point. Thank you for continuing to write!

10:26 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

"Piss off Monsanto: grow a potato…and share it." Great line! I liked what you had to say about distancing. Hopefully we are part of a larger movement of awakening and remembering. :)

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

"We are sharing this planet ; we are not here to dominate. That is the imperial delusion. It is not native to heathenism." As usual, nail hit on head perfectly!

7:52 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Thank you, Henry. One thing that can be said for volkism, particularly as developed by Herder, before it was racialized, is its emphasis on diversity and the need to recognize diversity. The Gods have a place for every folk, human and non-human, and if we can find that place, things are good. Domination is not part of the agenda ; finding our place and defending it is.

1:53 AM  

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