Sunday, February 27, 2011

Odr's Speech Beneath the Road of Heimdall

Oh why should I confined be beneath
These dullish skies when I might rise to meet
And mimic all the brighter orbs which soar
And silent sail within the golden wingspan
Of those greater heaven's pinions' rims?
For while this body be an earthen fruit
The branched tree of earth did womb, my mind,
Belonging more to upper canopies
May scale, and seek those fruit more glorious night
Reveals within her closed-eye cloak that flash
And sparkle in the outer boughs where I
Do long to linger and explore their furthest
Reaches! And what if, though raised in peasant
Hovels, such a man should find he was
Of princes born, who cast him out on ark
Upon the bullrushes, and water-rushed,
Discovered by more humble folk, was nursed
Within their rustic barns? Why, would he not,
When that more noble stock within emerge
Upon his growing older, seek that home,
Though higher and unknown from whence he came?
Or if a boy from gentry were absconded
By the merest stock of lowly men,
Who never see beyond their dullest eyes
But sought confine this boy of folded light
Whose wings within him longed to soar, to where
They all might reckon him a man, no more,
And stitch with threads of disbelief his new
And glowing snow as swanwhite feathers? Well,
Then he -- permit me now replace this third
Impers'nal pronoun with more proper "I"--
Then I shall leap upon the rainbow's rim
And seek to catch the quickened prow of fast
Receding lunar schooner, sails so bright,
Though stowaway, then show this silver hilt
From out this jeweled scabbard what great sword,
Who even now within its sheath does seem
To whisper to me of my greatness, Moon
(So many moons ago) did bid me find,
Then beg or brandish flaming blade if need
For passage on the rolling royal roads
Of lunar oceanwaves, to where, so up
In upper far beyond my even great
Imagination can behold, my love,
For now not war nor petty vengeance beckons
Me, but sweet, commanding-adoration
Love, whom I too long ago did leave
To pay my father's blood with blood of he
Who struck that noble archer down, awaits!
I know she waits (or so I hope : she must!)
For me, for she hath whispered in my heart
And seemed to pull upon the silver strings
Which bind mercurial mind of mine together,
Singing soft and most etherial song!
And can such incantation prove illusion?
Some would doubt, but I would rather love,
And thus believe, and if they call me fool
For seeking what my inner wisdom asks,
Well, I have played the fool before, and all
To mock their banal minds, which glide not as
My bladed, skis-beneath-me mind is wont!
I shall declare, though every mind hath doubts,
Which seem to rise from flesh like venom bubbles,
He (or she) who lets such doubts bestomp
And squash that love which calls within, though far
It may now be, is greater fool than I
Have ever been, or could be! No! Then to
The stars go I, come risk of fling to cold
And cloudy realms of ice, I shall my love
Ascend, and find her farthest kingdom's kisses!
Traveled far before for her I have,
And that through longest winter. Oh, my love!
The even thought, though smallest, of thee, melts
What ice within that winter chilled my heart,
And now I come a stronger man, but then
A merest boy, from battle, price in hand --
This magic, smith-enwhispered blade to give --
And free surrender, though its power calls,
O seems so strangely speak my elvish name,
To thee and thine, and all for love of thee!
O blessed fire's shimmer, colors bright!
Which shows upon the fall of rainfall, sun
Emerging from the clouds, to me thy path
Bestow thy hidden ways, for here I now
Upon thy wavering air commit myself!
If I be false, abyss beneath shall answer,
But your test, if I am true, shall ground
Provide beneath my feet, and answer love
With shimmer made a solid road, and there,
O Moon divine, for humans call thee God
By night in poet's prayers, or lovers' hopes,
I come, and though a lunatic, I rise!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Call on Ancestral Strengths

I link arms with my ancestors, bare feet on bare soil, deep hearts, hearts like spokes of a wheel coming together in a pact of arms.

I call on ancestral strength and resilience. I call on old laughter and unusually refreshing humor that turns the difficult moment like a pivot on a potter's wheel, and lends unexpected leverage and levity. I call on forgotten bonds and long-past ways of seeing that make the struggles easier, the chores pass with rhythm and solid cheer against adversity, the nights lit by stories about campfires. I reach out with long arms of spirit towards unspoken feelings of peace with the earth, comfort with life itself, nature -- in all its thorniness, ice, and cloudy skies -- as home.

I open myself to a more flexible mind, capable of rolling 360 degrees with events, and thus, tougher for it. May I find more refuges and stretch my litheness. May agility of craftsmen and sportsmen, stamina and unending hope of women in labor, and full investment of tree in fruit be mine, that I may make ancestors proud with the richness of my experience, shrewdness of my will to survive, and soulfulness of my cheer and struggle against the inevitable elements. May their ample, unseen abilities benefit my fruition, and not for my sake alone, but the betterment of life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is the Place of Lore in Life?

The lore --- here meaning the mythology --- is one part of a much larger set of learnings, and this larger set properly should receive the name lore.

The mythology is tremendously useful, and ought be studied and pondered with close attention. It holds important lessons, and gives valuable guidelines, to which one can return again and again.

But there is more to life, and more to spirituality, than mythology. This should be obvious. We learn from sources all around us. This approach is in fact inherent in paganism, which openly celebrates the intelligences inherent in the world, and thus, by implication, our ability to learn from all things. We learn from peers, from grandparents, from musicians, from craftsmen, from the ground beneath us and the plants that grow about us, and the animals that creep and crawl within our back yards, and it is this breadth that is the proper pagan orientation.

The mythology provides metaphoric stories that make the imagination come alive to the holistic powers at work in the world, through lively narrative that also encodes important lessons about human life. Indeed, it can even act as a compass in confusing or dissipate times ; and while a compass is a very useful tool, and one that can even save an explorer's life, it is no substitute for the exploration itself.

When you speak the word "lore", it should include the mythology, but also everything you've learned from immersion in life, everything you've learned from parents and friends and mentors, and from contact with the larger, nonhuman world of life, as well as the more ecstatic domain of dreams, trance, and vision, all in proper perspective. And the mythology approached properly ought spark dares and dreams that lead to new and more enlivening experiences. The stories were written for farmers and adventurers, and assumed such a life of activity and connection with the concrete texture of life and the larger world, but helped to establish reference points for these adventures in exploration, and labours to awaken fertility.

The advantage of including stories that emerge from a place closer to heathen times is that they encode the ancestral values of a people who had allowed the essence and worldview of paganism to seep into their blood, and live in their bones. They were not perfect, and had both their own set of problems, which every generation and every age does, as well as their struggles against degeneration, which they symbolized through powerful figures like the Fenris Wolf and the World Viper. Nevertheless, their proximity to the archaic mindstate means the stories they passed down have value as checks and balances on much-progressed degeneration which we have come to take for granted. On the other hand, in the course of our history, we have solved problems that plagued them, so the juxtaposition of the two viewpoints balance and put each other in check. Having perspectives from a time very different than our own can be an invaluable resource, when combined with all the wider learnings available all around us if we will only listen.

The stories represent tales that generations of people closer to the land felt reflected the essential qualities of those holy powers they honored in groves and sometimes temples. Sometime in the ancient days, good poets spun yarns about the Gods that could very well be true ; which is to say they were believable because they accurately captured their essence in narrative, and to that extent, were true. They provide a metaphorically-thick and richly allusive baseline to which individual experiences may be compared and weighed, again and again, and have proven their mettle through such repeated weighings over countless centuries and likely millennia of time. They thus hold weight of generations against the experiences of a single individual, but the weight of the world, and the holy powers within it, is even greater. All things good in their proper place.

Our primary orientation is to the world, the multiverse that includes physical and biological reality, and the realms of dream ; but within this larger orientation, narrative charged with symbolic, poetic power provides a powerful compass, whose usefulness ought not be underestimated.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reclaimed Kennings of Baldur

In Drápa af Maríugrát, a skaldic poem of the 1300s, Jesus is repeatedly referred to as a "prince of the sun". He is called the öðlingr ... bjartra röðla, "atheling of the bright sun", the fylki sunnu, "king of the sun", sunnu grundar siklings , "king of the sun's grassy fields", hilmi sólar, "helmsman/ruler of the sun", lofðung‹r› hauðrs ... sólar, "the prince of the sun's land", máttugr anzar mána stjettar, "mighty defender of the paths of Mani", sólar vísir, "leader of the sun", Höll ítarlig himna stillis, "glorious moderator of the Hall of Heaven", mildingr ... mána hauðrs, "the merciful prince of Mani's land", mána hauðrs stilli, "moderator of Mani's land", hilmis sunnu, "helmsman of the sun", hilmir vænnar stjettar ... bjartrar sólar, "helmsman of the beautiful paths of the bright sun", sólar kóngs, "king of the sun", birti dróttins ... mána strandar, "the bright lord of Mani's shores", sólar þengils, "thing-leader of the sun", hirði mána bryggju, "herdsman of Mani's bridge", and sæll ... sólar stillir sóma prýddr, "blessed honor-adorned moderator of the sun".

Although the intent of the poem is to designate Jesus as the ruler of the heavens, and indeed, he is sometimes so called, it is curious that he is paired with the sun so often. In three places, he is actually referred to as a protector of the paths of the sun and the moon, a place which in the heathen mythology belonged to Baldr. This suggests that the skald had his kennings ready to hand, and could simply transfer what had been kennings of Baldr directly to Jesus. Indeed, in a couple places, the skald seems to lift paraphrases of Thor as well, lát þú kveikjast loginn dróttins leiptra skríns í hjarta mínu, "Let thou kindle the fire of the lord of the shrine of lightning in my heart", and lýðr er allr leiptra stillis lofi dýrligstu skyldr að ofra, "All people should offer endearing praise to the leader of lightning". It would seem as if Christian poets were free to lift the epithets of various heathen Gods and with a slight twist, apply them all to God or to Christ. Yet when these adaptations are obvious, we may have an inroads to reclaiming important kennings and conceptions of our ancient Gods.

Scholars have speculated that the poet of Drápa af Maríugrát was reworking Planctus siue lamentacio beate Marie, which was a prose translation into Icelandic of Liber de passione Christi et doloribus et planctus matris eius, by the Italian abbot Ogerius de Locedio of the 12th century, but as a skaldic poem, the choice of kennings was the poet's. He may have many times needed to translate a phrase meaning "lord of the heavens", but that he does so with kennings that are strikingly reminiscent of Baldur's epithets is telling. Knowing this, we may reclaim these kennings for Baldur, who was known as a great moderator of the heavens, and who protected the sun and the moon on their courses.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Task of Scholars

If I may venture what the task of scholars
May be, giving due reflection, I'd say :
Make helium the archive so the weight
Of all those thousand years of knowledge, light
As feathers ; which together, form two wings
Which from this earthly realm may fly as high
As spirit yearns ; now that is intellect
At height of all its powers, serving soul.
For staying pond'rous with its weight, and bound
With chains of rote, which ill-enlightened, repeat
Rules, while understanding none, is no
Especial virtue, and may well confuse
The roles of logic and the spirit, which,
The former serving latter, finds its right
And elevated place, but if the spirit
To the mind, the mediocre mind
Of rote-learned boxes, is so bound, then all
The wisdom of the ages overturned
Is for the sake of what should serve! But when
The mind, its wings of knowledge primped and preened,
Can venture out beyond the known-already
Realm, and catching halo of the stellar
Flames, return to share its glowing gems,
Why such a fire blue-illuminated
Mind we ready "genius" give its name!
For wisdom finds its soul in knowing all
The knowledge consciousness recalls is but
The skein upon the surface of the deep;
But down below, in fathoms, 'neath the waves
Which superficial scholars overeager
Watch, is where the secret movement rolls
And finds momentum. There the roots of knowledge
Writhe, and there the genius may in wrangling
Find a frame to which the feathers of
Already lightened knowledge may be pinned,
To form those wings the spirit longs to soar
So high above the clouds with. Knowing this,
We strip the image of a jailer cruel
From knowledge, finding liberation there
Instead, and let the archive form a feast
Of souls, the voices of the ancestors
Returned to dance with us through books as books
Of shadows rendered, summon spirits from
The open leaves of bound-together trees
Of knowledge. For such magic is the reason
I do sit in stacks and archives, just
As shamans sit upon the mounds and graves,
A vision-seeking, so a wizard wisdom
Seeks within the pressed-to-page enchantment
Of the gallery of captured souls
Who sigil-etched into our grimoires speak.
And if you fear exegesis to call
Such necromancy, why the point of all
These otherwise quite pointless scribbles , you
Have altogether missed! For life!, the deeper
Life that we call death must serve, to green
Our e'er-becoming barren meadows with
Fermented saps of wisdom brewed within
The deeps, and such is honor to invoke.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nurture the Good

Don’t be lazy about your good. Too much whip about your ill can wilt the good, however small, still active within you. The good must be nurtured, cultivated, watered, loved, given ample opportunity and room. Scolding has its place, but it oversteps if it begins to encroach on the active nurturing of the good. What is good in you, act upon. What promises fruit, water and tend. What promises opportunity and growth, seize upon. It is our feebleness in the face of our good promise, and less our fill of ill, that undoes us. Have the courage to be the best within you. It takes valour to reach out for what calls from within.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Prayer

The sinuous,

As thick, petrified snake,

Its scales of mottled bark,

Uptending skyward-bound,

Where far past all the canopies of men,

Its trunk enringed by billowed clouds,

And up through starry heights,

Where white-powdered fog-roiled beard of All-Father looms,

The thunder of his son beside him,

And the colors all of all the Heavenly Gods.

Through such clouds as these, I close my eyes and pray,

That rippling tree in serpentine waves might up

my breath’d requests that yearn for deep communion.

Rushing megin in my flesh, I tilt my head back,

And gasp with rapture. (And though this be cartoon of mind,

Though brightest, vibrant film to me,

These fancies stretched do make the link,

So far beyond is here beside.)

My only prayer, to make me holy,

Year by year by year.

And let ascend the spiraled staircase

Round the royal ash

Where my further noble blood

may be imbibed and fused into my bones,

The boons of which I share with kith,

And kin, as shining sun.

Let all stains of unworth begone ;

Let all unholy thoughts,

Let all unholy will,

Let all unholy deeds, drain down as watered venom

To the wastelands of the nether North,

Where they may rot the ill back into soil.

Give me strength to fight each battle,

The inner as the outer, too,

For ill, oft tricky, hides within,

As out withal we ward.

Let me pulse on that path laid for my wholemaking,

And never far astray from it do wend,

For where I don’t belong I have no holy power.

But where I do belong, give strength,

Give will, give righteous wisdom.

And as I ask You All to listen

With wisened balance the in-between

The mercy and the justice that I crave,

May I my own ears’ judgement broaden,

And to fellows fair, my fairest judgements give.

Let me gather my momentum,

as a wave with all its fellows does,

When rushing from the all of ocean,

It out upon the shores as horses spring.

For I am fruit, and fruit ought warm, and come to fullness.

Give soothe to wounds’ torment,

Which oft long linger after scars.

Let eyes in darkness rest from dazzle of battle’s blaze,

And in dream a new way portend and glimpse.

Let my boldness be a beacon to the weak,

To find their strength in bending,

But the ill leave far behind.

May I fulfill my highest, righteous rung of wyrd,

And be a blessing to my Folk, and Land, and Cosmos;

Be it humble, I shall smile.

Let breathe the bless of each day’s boon

Which you in plural color give

So deep into my inner dens,

And banish angst,

And banish sickness,

And banish every wicked seed of deed,

For I shall will the Good, in all its blessed Wholeness,

With the stridence of my fullest might,

And pledge myself to do thy Right,

Whose pathways long ago you laid down.

This, a humble-handed ant,

With spark of upper fires held

in silly, smallest brain,

Beneath on dust of planets’ shores,

A world though small, be full of good potential,

Offers up to Thee and Thine.

There in high cathedrals, in a city further far

Than all of space and time could fathom,

I know you are, and yet you hear my prayers.

O hear my prayers, O blessed Lords and Ladies.

Garfield, Good Fellow, 1997 - 2011

As if the waves of water part, when swim,

I peer, by peeling back the papered bark

Of crystal-boughèd tree (whose crown in seas

Of studded-flash of black does blow its green

And luminescent leaves), within the pith

Of pulpy xylem, and I hear within the echoed pulse

Of beating song that stirs fermented saps, a sound.

First faint, a newer strand, a fresh motif

Of orange-blazèd mew, and padded paws

On dark and dewy grass as heads he forth

For family grounds of mine in lower realms,

My cat, this midnight last his breath in-took ;

And know within the surging choir hid

Invisible beneath all things, his wise meow

Shall now resound, as wisdom realized, all

Within the all of inner depths of all, from roots

So thick and gnarled, down, how far

Their downing goes, O no one knows ; but there,

In nestled valley meadows, where my hall

Of elders’ roof is raised beside the mountain gardens,

He shall purr ; and trill from his enwisened purr

Shall pulse within the pith of tree, and nourish me,

And all my kin, and you, as well, if feline wit

In old and graceful strength you’d claim as wise.

I do, I do, I do ; adieu, O sweetest Garfield.

Let tears of mine be dew

That softens all the pathways’ meadows

As you pitter-patter to the steps of where

My friend two years of late did pass

Shall warm and welcome you, with soft caresses.

The Twist and Turns of Wyrd

Wyrd is full of twist and turns of flowing, raging chance, which ravel 'bout each other, forming loop and twine and threaded pattern, giving layer to the screaming song, so it has force of habit rolling forward. So deep are deepest habits that we call these layers law, but though this pulsing web of rippled light is strong, and we may oft predict, what will become is shimmered on the rippling skein of lake, in constant motion. So the deepest strength of fate has chance insurging through it, strong, so all determinations laid down have a strange, uncanny whimsy running through them. From higher elevations, momentum may be projected towards trajectory, but how the details come, not even higher ones can know. And so the world is woven with surprise, and all our hopes ride on the wings of shrouded magic, even as the strongest motions lunge with near-unstoppable stampede. An element of uncertainty survives ; and thus, we call it Wyrd.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Tale of Asmund and his Fall

O have you heard the sailor's tale, which sad
Upon the ancient seas does speak a strange
And eerie fate of kings? Who in the storm
That rushed upon the road of whales did seek
To battle proud, a scion of the ancient
Kings, and sweetest son of Freya, brave
And handsome? Long had Dietrich fought the feud
Against good Freya's husband, now his son
He bid to battle on the seas, and so
Our melancholy tale. Give ear to what
A salty sailor, I, shall share with thee!

Engage in battle, now the ships go out
To meet the vowed time of fate, but Gods,
In sacred council seeing all the feud
Of Freya's husband's son, and Dietrich, bid
The bright and shining father stay out of
This too-prolonged feud, which futile flows,
As quarrels ought not, well beyond the pale
Of moderation ; or to call back son
From promised battle --- but his honor knows
The father well, such shame as running, ne'er
This fame-beseeking son, whom fates did say
His name upon the halls of time would write
Its burning etch in minds of men fore'er,
Would risk ; but leave his boy behind, the Gods'
Forbiddance notwithstanding, ne'er would he,
But entering not the fray would merely watch
Upon the decks of Gnodir, famous ship
Five thousand warriors holding, Asmund-held,
His son, a gift his father gave from Odin's
Treasures as a boon for risky errands
Many times adventured for the Gods;
And he would over-watch, ensure his son
Was safe, and safe-return ; and then would laugh
Upon the slaughtered corpse of Halfdan's son,
Who long ago refused his peace, now dared
To threaten Erich's son, when peace was all
The Gods did bid --- well, then, his fate was sealed!
But not at his hands, as the Gods forbade,
But yet his son's, whom he would ward on deck.
Slipped out from sun-reflected clouds of sky's
Most doughty warriors' stronghold.

Then set sail,
The father and the son, and all the brave
Assembled warriors, towards the bay assign'd.
Where Dietrich and his fearsome fleet did wait.
The air a moment still, as sails did sail
In coasting glide, aside the bows of foes,
Before the wake of battle, silent scan
The eyes of foes upon each other, sizing
Up the enemy, or lips in whispered
Prayer to favorite patrons, eerie all
The still, as bowstrings taut, the arrows pointed,
Hating eyes respect despite the foe.

Then metal ring, as thousand hilts did clash,
With leap, and whirr of feathered wands through air,
The music of the waters drowned by din
Of sword and roar and arrow-flying, cries
Of first-bled casualties, the fall ; then from
Atop the heightened deck of Gnodir Asmund
Spied the hated sight of far-famed Dietrich :
Leapt, with single bound, and raging wod,
As seasoned raiders scream into their shields,
And flew the air from deck to solid deck,
His sword a pointed, iron banner, held
Before him, to inspire courage. "No!"
King Erich screamed from Gnodir, "No, my son!"
He futile-screeched, not seeing this, but thought
From high atop the decks content to lead
The battle Asmund would remain, but now
Into the sharpened jaws of death did leap,
Just as that witch had long ago forewarned,
But now, the flood of melee, warrior-thick
Between them as a wall, he watched in horror,
Pushing, yet in vain ; upon the shield
Of doughty Dietrich Asmund pounded, brave,
But less than hundred-battle-trained as he,
The heir of Halfdan, victor of the West,
His blows were child's play to block, though struck
With courage admirable ; but then, with one,
And most enterrible-fated blow, he struck --
The far-famed Odin-favored king -- struck down
The handsome prize of Freya's womb, the boy,
And fell the all of Erich's hopes in life.

Like seas at low tide parting, waves of ranks
Of fighting soldiers, Erich, now beyond
His rage, does push through, bold, forgetting vows
To stand aside, and sword in hand, to slaughter
Offers up a dozen, then a dozen
More to senseless Gods, as he now sees
Them. Then a dozen more, as if with cuts
His hand could seam the bloody gashes slashed
Upon his fallen son, and even Dietrich,
Bold, but nonetheless a wise man, backed
Away to lead the battle further back.
And now the ravens' meat beside his feet,
His son agrasping, leapt with force on Gnodir,
Magic spells enchanting o'er his son
To heal his paling cheeks, but one by one,
The Galdurs failed ; O long had served him, now
Had failed when most in hour of need he had!
O curses! O blood-encurdled pleas for mercy,
Screeched in foreign tongues to Gods above!
Without avail! O horror!

Now did Dietrich
Seize his chance, and send his Vikings o'er
To scuttle Gnodir, hacking holes in hull
To waves bebring adown, adown to Hel!
And Erich, who the men were watching for
Their orders, sat oblivious, and howled ;
And then that greatest ship the world has seen
Careened into the gaping waves, its
A slow-diving beak of fish-seeking bird.

And then.
Oh then, that last and terr'ble breath of Asmund.
A quake upon the hills and valleys shakes
The dust, and in the sea, the raucous waves!
Those waves like grey, unrighteous beasts of prey
With teeth and fins, like monstrous sharks in swarm
Of frenzied blood, upon the wracking surface!
How the winds with mighty, billow'd biceps
Lifted up the weighty waves, then let
Them down with whoosh, and shock of stormy splash!
And mired with gore of bloodied limb, the sea,
The princes' battlefield, did weep with red
And unredeeming tears of bracken grey!
A tossed and turmoiled grave of fallen corpses.

Ah, Erich on the deck, forlorn and howling!
Bloodied boy within his crumpled arms.
His eyes compete with clouds to sting the salt
Of water'd wave, as fade the day of eyes
His son once looked out hours before, before...
Before that thief of Father's sons had struck,
Had struck two souls in one sole body, his,
Before his son's, without whom mortal flesh
Is but a hollow dungeon : down, O down
The deck approached the sinking waves as all
The glorious hull of Gnodir met in shameful
Wed the awful bride of Aegir : sunk,
With arms still wrapped around, his lungs a rasping
Curse-choir song-hall barking blackened oaths
At every God he knew, except for She ...

"Ah, She ... That queen O ne'ermore to be seen!
O crests like fins of sharks, not soon enough
Your rav'nous jaws engulf this hollow'd flesh,
Who now, too-willing, leaves goodbye to earth
And greets my woman's father's yard, the sea!
Ah sea most cruel and unforgiving, take
This wretch from sight of bloodied sun that o'er
The slip of Western disc now falls, and paled,
So wan of emptied veined blood, O ghost
So white and wraithlike in the sky, Ye moon,
Who once did have me fetch a cursed sword
Whose curse, now come to fruit, shall in my fruit
Now kill me full at last ; ah, waves, betake!
Betake me down into your teary kingdom,
All my tears in you now drowning, take
Me down, o down to Niflhel, I care not!
A father asks the wyrm to tear his corpse
When all the life his son did breathe he can't,
Though reckoned quite a warrior, save ; o down
For good I go, hard world, and ne'er return!"

And sailors say when storms are rarely wild
As that shark-infested storm so long
Ago, a ghostly pair of ships is seen,
In hail, as sea fights sky in pointed blows,
And on the vaprous decks the wraiths do war!
Do war, and shall in hailstorm ever after!
So do sailors say, and swear they've seen.
And some say when the sea is calm again,
A seal is seen out in the waters, playing.
Codgers yarn a mermaid tends him there,
The sweetest voice they never heard, upon
A promontory rock above the waves.
And so the old men pass their time in tales
About the fire, wishing they were seal,
and she were their enchanting mistress, ah!
Have you this tearful, poignant tale enough
Now sated? Pass the briny seaman's tale
Along to all who wish to hear its sorrow.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Who Is Spiritual?

Who is spiritual? Often the people who are advertising it the least. The people who proclaim their spirituality are often seeking spirituality, but haven't found it. "The wyrd that can be worded is not so weirded." Thus sayeth Wyrd Megin Thew, in loving transliteration of the Tao Te Ching. Those who know speak softly and do.

In my book Wyrd Megin Thew, I suggest that there are inchoate priesthoods waiting in the earth to be claimed, that ordinary people may be living. An English professor teaching the soulful meanings in literature may be functioning as a druid. A hospice worker may function more as a shaman than someone with a lot of paraphernalia. A gardener may be an inchoate pagan, intuitively working with the spirits.

There are people out there doing good work. Exceptional work, even. They exhude wisdom, and often, they are too immersed in their work to do advertising. Yet they deserve recognition and we ought to open our eyes and praise the worth of their work, because they can teach us. Teachers are all around us. If pagan/heathen spirituality is about anything, it is that : teachers surround us. But often in humble places that require us to humble our imperialist arrogance and get closer to the ground.

Who is spiritual? Those doing the work of the spirits. Spirits are invisible. Their workers may be less than obvious to the eyes as well. Priesthoods do not disappear ; they simply stop being recognized by a culture, yet the draw and pull to them continues to pull souls in to do the good work. Good culture gives name and role to that which has value. Look around you. Who, unrecognized, is performing ministry? Who is serving spirit in all its many variations and relations? Let them know that they are doing something sacred. Life is tended to in many ways, and all who do the tending merit praise. Spirituality is often performed in surprisingly ordinary ways. Who touches us acts as spirits' emissary. Who teaches us gives us access to deeper legacies. Who lives well, however silent, provides model for all of us who fall from virtue so easily. Let us see teachers where before we saw none. Let us recognize good work and give it praise.

Don't Miss Out On The Wind

Don’t miss out on the wind.

Plato emphasizes that the wise must transcend the body and its material prison in order to discover their refined spirit. No doubt this is based in ancient pagan spiritual practices grounded in the mysteries. But it is only half of the story.

The soul is, in fact, bi-directional. It connects to the spirit, and it connects to the animal-spirits within the body. It grows up from the earth, but is breathed into by the spirit. We find this in the Voluspa strophes where mankind is created from the trees. The odr is in between the ond, the spirit that can soar into the cosmos, and the la, the blood, and leiti, the senses, both of which give us animal movement.

The fact of the matter is, we need both.

We incarnated to have an experience of Beloved Mother Earth. Doubt not that we wanted to feel ourselves deeply within her womb. The ascetic path of detaching from everything bodily and material only speaks to half of the equation. It is true that if we get too caught up in the senses and take everything literal we find there, we may lose out on important spiritual truths. Yggdrasil, for example, cannot be seen with the five senses. Blake called that part of us that is entirely invested in the five senses the “spectre”, and it is this part of ourselves that doubts spirituality and questions immortality. This is the animal part of ourselves that becomes afraid of any fright of death. But it is also the part the is deeply attuned to the primal experiences of the earth. We ought not slander this animal. Indeed, we have come in part to care for it.

Don’t miss out on the wind. I believe that we need to experience the qualities of this natural and wild world, the wilder the better. This is important to our soul. Lately at times I will do nothing but open my window in the evening, with the lights off, and lie in bed, allowing myself to experience all the sounds on the air, and feel the cool wind. I may do that for an hour or a couple hours. Or I go outside and walk around, to feel the sky, the trees, the grass. I need these things. These are not extraneous.

The fact that Plato de-emphasizes these experiences may suggest that in his time, particularly in Greece, there was great gusto for the material enjoyment of the senses, and that this could be taken for granted, and thus, his teachings were intended as an antidote, a balancing medicine. But the fact of the matter is that spiritual teachings have since been imbalanced in this direction. Opening our Cosmic Mind is important. It is important to practice the gaze of see-through eyes which turn this opaque flesh and matter transparent, so we can look into body and world and see the tumbling stars and nebulae through them, and soar to all the far places our spirit of wind may take us. In this way, we may surge throughout the nine worlds, and allow the Great Tree to gallop as a great horse. These are important. Some of Plato’s suggestions on de-identifying from the body can be very useful in this regard.

But do not miss the fact that the soul needs the earth besides. We do need what Father Sky offers. But we also desperately need what Mother Earth offers. We will not be complete without feeling the soil in our hands, many a time, tumbling in the grass, licking – yes, licking – the bark of trees (non-poisonous varieties!), running our hands through someone else’s hair, standing out and allowing the winds to affect us. These qualities we need within us. We need to deeply experience them so that they become a part of us. The ceremonial magicians and hermeticists speak about uniting the microcosm – our psyches – and the macrocosm – the world about us, and this is an intellectual expression of a very heathen sensibility. We become ourselves through the world. We grow soul through the experiences of the world.

Let us not become after life a hungering soul who is bereft of all the experiences we needed to be full and complete. This does not mean diving after experiences like a tourist. It means taking the time to really feel and reflect, and deepen that which we encounter into true experiences. The dead who do not do this miss the carved wood of the chair, miss the exquisite linen of the doily table-cloth, crave the textured bark of the hickory, long for the wind. For these qualities do not live within themselves. That is what it means to be a heathen, to take these qualities within.

For the truth, which Plato did not speak, is that when you deepen your experience of the sensual earth-world about us, it deepens into an experience of soul that is as spiritual as the ascetic spirit.

Or did Plato? He spoke of material things as shadows of their real spiritual forms. This suggests that by immersing ourselves in the material things and deepening our connection, we could touch the level of spirit-form within the things. This is probably how seers and witches functioned in his time. So he may have expressed this as well.

What is really needed is a balance. There are those who can afford to detach from their enslavement to the senses, and stretch their mind beyond to more cosmic and intellectual truths. But there are those who are so in flight they have lost their groundedness. Now why did they come to Earth, of all the nine worlds? Perhaps because their soul lacked some of the weightiness that is fitting for a good soul. We come here to mature. If we trust Beloved Mother Earth, as the kind guardian and spiritual guide behind and within this material stuff, she will help us find that rich and soulful maturity.

Don’t miss out on the wind. The earth The leaves. The ond cries out we are immortal. Let us listen. But the blood and the senses say, you are a traveler, a short sojourner in a place of marvel, whatever its terrors : drink the marvel, taste all you can. The blood and senses do not lie. Spirituality is simply finding their proper place. The sense of mortality rises up from the blood and senses. We know we are not here forever. Therefore every moment is precious. Therefore we have an opportunity. The soul has a chance to be stained not by sin, which mars it, but by the color of earth tones and the texture of experience. This makes for a colorful, alive, vibrant soul that will enrich and nourish the underworld within-of-all-withins when it returns at last to its roots.

For why did a flower arises from roots at all but to blossom? Raise and unfold thy petals, drink in the rain, feel the sun on your fronds, and come into your own bloom of warmth. The soul says, let me run like an animal upon these blessed plains. Allow me to pant and stand my ground and truly feel. And the soaring spirit, which longs to rise above and sail the seven seas of the nine worlds, will be enriched by the experience.