Monday, January 06, 2014

Ragnvald Rebuffs the Atheist Missionaries

"You come to us and say there is a stirring and a seething in the heart of things, from which their own self doth self-rebel, and from such self-rebellion cometh strange surpassings of the self. You speak as if you bring a new truth, yet of this we have long known. The Well of Wyrd bubbleth and seethe, and from such source all things arise ; and yet they come as in a dream, and methinks ye have neglected such. We too know of vast spirit-wars ; they tell us, the old ones, that giants and gods do battle. Ever were it so. You say there was a time when earth was not, when seas were not, when trees were not, when beasts were not. Yet what man knoweth not the verses of the volva, who tell us of such times? You say we have grown from beasts, in a wondrous metamorphosis through every form, yet ruled by chance and happening. A strange and marvelous enough doctrine ; yet, look upon our glyphs and runestones. See there how beast to beast transforms, and Wyrd, of course -- what you call chance and happenstance -- rules all. Indeed there are seers amongst our Irish cousins who say we emerge up from every form. I cannot see what is new in what you speak, except ye say around the world you've scoured all the bones within the mountains, fetched and found them, tracing all this legacy of metamorphosis. Our bones you can see in the hands of a lizard. So, you say, we should leave our spirits, abandon our gods, and believe we are nothing but corpses, fire trapped in a dead frame fated to extinguish. I think no man knows by the light of day what doom his death shall bring, yet we have songs of wise men, who have said they've tread those darkest tracks beyond the fog and darkness where extinguishment is seem ; a little tread alone, they deem, will not beyond the darkness see. They say there are lands of melissine sun and trickling mead where we may meet our ancestors, be rejoined in ancient halls with loved ones. Many who have fallen then returned speak much the same. Can we know by light of day? Perhaps not, but we shall not dismiss the testimony of our tribesmen. You scoff at our hallowings of mead and wood, asserting that life is a temporary, new beginning of time, hardly old ; that all things started from a single point that burst, expansions and contractions in spasm hurling out the stars, and in those furnaces all the stone and steel we know was cooked. It is no secret that the world was born between fire and ice, nor that there from a single seed burst forth Yggdrasil, in whose canopy sit the constellations of stars. We know thus. Yet we know further than you, it seems, for for you, all your eyes behold -- yes, augmented by great instruments of smithy-work, indeed, as you have told -- seems dead, while we know that tree whose root no one fathoms is alive, through and through, alive throughout ; and perhaps you dwell too long upon the hardwood, then neglecting its xylem and its sap. This whole world lives ; it breathes ; it seethes, and even rivers, seas, and slowly moving mountains (we have heard, the home of dwarves) live. The stars are fruits ; they live. Their glowing golden, coming ripe, restores the gods from ages old and weariness, and many say a soul is but a falling star, a seed from Yggdrasil. We see you look upon our speech as quaint. You shake your heads. You cannot fathom our barbarian speech. You seek to turn us from our ways, but we shall not be turned, no, not unless by Wyrd herself, and she shall turn indeed. But her turnings are strange and intricate, never obvious, ever enigma, while we sense you are prisoners of wordlock, ever lined in lines. We shall learn your lore. Our sages shall eat it. There, our great folk-stomach shall corrode your truths and break them down until they are assimilable. We love to learn, and honor what gifts you bring, but do not come to conquer, nor seek ye to convert. We too have tales to tell and lore to learn ye. You are much an orphan, you have lost thine heirlooms ; an empty air surrounds you ; you are hollow, cannot see. We have heart and pith and strength, which we might share, if you came with lilies and laid down swords. Yet we see you are still quickened to insult. You ask our sages, great song-smiths lofted in the billow of inspiration, how we know there are gods, whom you scoff. You are a feckless upstart : where are your rhymes? How many winters have you lodged in a wizard's woodschool? How many songs do you have under your belt? How long have you reared and nourished your wonder? Amongst us, it is a duty. We observe, just as you do, but you seem to have forgotten the world has an inside as well as an outside. That inside may be sensed by those who are sensitive. Do you have dreams? What comes to you at night? Do you heed and hearken? If you did, then, when you came to a wood, some feeling would be borne within you, and at night, some dream would speak. Dunce, now I tell you, our lore is such archive of dreams, shared severally and collected by the seers, o'er countless years of ages, that your libraries have no rival. We know how to make what seems dead to you speak, for you see, it speaks in our hearts. Our poets know how the heart may speak ; they have spent long years training their tongues to ancient rhythms. They have sat beneath the stars and sipped their mead. You say this world is but one of many. Look up at the night sky and tell me, how many fruit of that tree do you see? We know this world is one of but nine, but see, we have a way of speaking : nine is to say nine thousand, nine thousand to say nine million. Nine to us is a countless lemniscate. You point to the gravel. You say to us, you are this sand. Oh yes, our bodies indeed uptake the ancient mill-grist of giants ; so we are told. But it is all shaped on a lathe you cannot see, whose spinnings you can only trace in sand. We are such sand and more. Blood and breast and breath of holy powers live within our sand-seem tree-flesh. We have ways of understanding you, may encompass you within the many steads of lore. But you? What place hath your wisdom for our knowledge? It seems all fool to you, heimsk. Many emissaries have come to us over time. We are now used to their arrogance. They come not to gather together the ancient runes shaved into the spilt mead ; no, poetasters all, minor skalds and fools, they think they've supped the cup entire, come to bring us light. Bring us light indeed! And we shall string it to our own. We can ween the value in your words, but ask, have you the heart to ween the worth in ours? No doubt our lore shall change, the world shall change, and nothing may withstand the tides of Wyrd. Yet we are all connected in a web. I wish that you could see. Dreaming was in this world long before we were, and it has had time too to "evolve", as you say, and it has shaped much of that inwardness who we are. For ourselves, we shall continue to listen. No, ambassadors, we shall not exile our poets for your sake."


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