Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
I Call on Ancestral Strengths
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
What is the Place of Lore in Life?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Reclaimed Kennings of Baldur
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
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
As thick, petrified snake,
Its scales of mottled bark,
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
Friday, February 11, 2011
The Tale of Asmund and his Fall
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Who Is Spiritual?
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.