About Robin Williams

220px-Robin_Williams_2011a_(2)I have never gotten the American obsession with celebrities, even though I was born and raised here.  Every once in a while someone passes where I at least understand why there is a strong fixation because he was someone who was trying to make the world a better place in some way.  Steve Irwin or George Harrison for example.  For the most part, however, I feel pretty confused when people grieve for the rich and famous.  I didn’t know them, I’m not going to pretend that my enjoyment of their work made me somehow closer to them, and that’s that.  I’ll feel an element of sadness for their friends and family, but that’s about it.

This was not the case with Robin Williams.  Not by a long shot.

He was to comedy what Nicola Tesla was for invention and inspiration.  What took me a decade or two to refine into a process where I can cleverly and humorously communicate my ideas was something he was born with.  It was a gift he pursued, seemingly every day of his life, for the entirety of his life.  He used that gift to bring joy and reprieve to others and, in the process, perhaps he was trying to find that joy for himself.  It seems he did not, and that’s why his death is more meaningful to me than it might otherwise have been.

In Robin Williams’ passing, my own mortality was reflected back at me.  I suspect that I am not alone in this.  When one of the most joyous, fun-loving, laughter-filled men that recorded history has ever borne witness to can be felled by his own depression, all of our lives seem all the more fragile.  I felt this all the more strongly because I understood, on some basic level, just exactly how it happened.  Humor has ever been my shield in times of difficulty, my sanctuary and safe harbor.  Seeing one of the greats take his own life and be failed by some of the same fortifications I myself have used is indescribable.  It’s an extremely sobering thing to witness, and it effected me in a way that took me a few days to sort through.

I saw a friend on Facebook ask why so many tears were being shed for an actor and comedian, but barely a though goes by for the various soldiers and military men who die out in the field every day.  Normally, I have a similar question in my head at the passing of a celebrity.  For me, at the very least, that’s now what has given rise to my own sadness.  I have been lucky in that my sadness has never been so deep, nor my shadows so dark, that I didn’t have an idea of how to overcome them.  Seeing a man like him pass in this way shows me what my life could have been.  Shows me what might have happened if things were different.

It also reminds me that one of the greatest comedians, a craft I myself attempt to practice in my own way, has just fallen.  It’s emotionally profound on a level that’s hard to articulate.

I don’t often ruminate on the dead.  At least on here.  I recognize those people who have passed on before me, related or not, and I attempt to pay them their respects.  For me, however, this is very much a silent recognition.  That’s a personal choice; I don’t feel that anyone who verbalizes there memorials is somehow “doing it wrong”.  I just feel that such recognitions are a private sort of thing, and I’ve felt no pressure or need to make it otherwise.  Maybe this is the start of breaking that trend.  Maybe this is just a moment where I need to grieve a little bit over the passing of a personal hero.  Maybe I just needed to express to the world that I understand.  I don’t know.  It was just in my heart and head, I felt I needed to say something.  So here it is.

In either case, I’d like to hail and salute the life and soul of Robin Williams.  From his work with Charities to his appearances in USO shows, he was a man who made his life’s work creating laughter.  From What Dreams May Come to Patch Adams, he helped people gain a touch of introspection.  It seems in death, he may even help some part of the world take a closer look at depression and suicide.  He was an inspiration to many, myself included, and he changed the world for the better.  I hail a man of brilliance, passion, and depth, whose life meant so much to so many.

May your soul find the destination it seeks, and you find the laughter you have certainly earned.

Important Announcement

Harrison K. Hall:

Attending the PLC this year wasn’t even an option for me, due to a number of factors…but I am happy to see that it came and to begging and did (from everything I’ve heard) very well.

If you too found of interest, you may also find this information worth looking at. I’m sad to see it postponed, but I have this feeling the extra time will end up being put to good use!

Looking forward to a point where attending will be both viable and reasonable me!

Originally posted on Polytheist Leadership Conference:

Hello everybody.

Since the Conference is likely to soon outgrow the Quality Inn we held it in the first year we’ve been in negotiations with a number of hotels in the area. Unfortunately June and July are wedding season here in the Hudson Valley, which means that even their discounted rates are an average of $40 to $70 a night higher than they are at other times of the year – which makes it prohibitively expensive for most members of our community. In fact we’ve been hearing from a lot of folks who are struggling financially but would like to attend – people who have important things to say and have made valuable contributions to their communities. We don’t want anyone to feel excluded, especially over something like money so we’re looking into several options.

1) We’re going to do some communal fundraising so that we can offer scholarships to help allay…

View original 176 more words

Worse than Breasts and Melanin

While I was out of the loop, trying to recenter myself*, Marvel comics did something that turned certain segments of the Heathen world on their head; they made “The Mighty Thor” a women.  This is apparently a bad thing for Heathenry because…uh…breasts?  I guess?  In all seriousness, I saw a handful of Heathens loose their minds over a comic book that has a female character named Thor…and…wow.  Just…wow.

tumblr_ljy88jg5er1qfdq6jo1_r1_500

Thor as an amphibian; your misogynistic argument is invalid.

Let’s be clear here: 99.9% of the people upset about this, in the Heathen community at least, are reacting not to the spiritual implications of this but to their own misogynistic worldview and/or their fundamentalism.  This is quite similar to the controversy that rose up over Idris Elba playing Hemidall; it too was only made up of bigotry and ignorance.  Nothing more or less.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the plotlines that have been far stranger and more bizarre than Mjornir being paired with a set of D-Cups.  The one most people have brought up is the time that Thor was turned into anthropomorphic frog, which makes it weird that people seem to feel that being a woman is worse than not even being human.  Next there is Beta Ray Bill, the equine alien who was given a version of Mjonir after he bested Thor in brawl.  There is the alternate reality of Earth X where Odin turned Thor into a woman to teach him humility, making this not even the first time there was a female Thor in a print comic book.  We also have a team of multiple Thors from multiple time lines, brought together by Zarkko the Man of Tommorrow, called the “Thor Corps“**.  Lastly on our quick tour of crazy comic book plots, there is Throg,: a human football played cursed to the shape of a frog and eventually given his own version of Mjonir (Frognoljir, no I am not kidding), who serves as a member of the “Pet Avengers“.  They all sound like fever dreams, yet they’re all a part of comic book canon.

“The Mighty Thor” is only loosely based on Norse mythology, at best, and it’s been that way since August of 1962.  What we know modern Heathenry to be has only existed since the the 1970s, meaning that some of these ridiculous plot lines were kicking around over a decade before modern Heathenry even came into beaning.  Beta Ray Bill has been a part of comic book lore since November of 1983.  Yet, inspite of those thirty-one years, it hasn’t us impeded us in any way.  Hell, it’s older than a lot of the Heathens complaining about it!

Before anyone points it out, I’m aware there are people on Tumblr who take the comic books too seriously.  I’m sorry, but I don’t think that matters at all.  There are also people, offline and online, who swear the airplanes deposit mind control chemicals into the air…and I’ve noticed that their beliefs haven’t changed how airplanes and/or aerodynamics work.  The fact is that comic book Thor doesn’t have a meaningful impact on our religion, regardless of whether anyone on Tumblr develops some sort of wonky gnosis over the material written about him.  Or her, for that matter.

The people uncomfortable with this are sexist and/or dangerously afflicted with the madness that is fundamentalism.  That may seem to be a bit of a pejorative leap, but I’ve thought about this long and hard and I’ve come to an unavoidable conclusion on the matter: simply put, if Marvel Comics is to be judged negatively for their departure from the lore of our spiritual ancestors, there is one thing they’ve done that is a greater crime against the lore than female Thor or black Heimdall.

That crime is the portrayal of Odin by Anthony Hopkins in Thor(2011).  Please tell me why everyone who bristles at gender swaps and skin tone hasn’t torn into the interpretation of Odin depicted within that film.  Put it under any level of similar scrutiny and it becomes cringe worthy.

In this movie, we see the God of War, Magic, Frenzy, and Passion demanding to uphold a peace treaty when it makes no sense to do so; he even punishes his son for returning aggression that was (to the best of his knowledge) never instigated by his people.  Later on, he is so devastated by having punish Thor and reveal to Loki that he’s adopted (?!)  that the stress forces him to take a freaking nap for two days.  Also he didn’t loose his eye for wisdom in the movie; he lost it in a battle that his side was winning, but then refused to finish.  Also Loki isn’t his sworn-brother, but is an adopted war orphan instead.  Thor is banished…for killing Frost Giants, which is now bad for some reason.  He even strips Thor of his hammer and his powers…because the plot needs for him to be able to do that.

The entire movie depicts Odin as an all-powerful, all-knowing being of immeasurable capacity…who does nothing but hem and haw over everything he does. We see the leader of the Aesir, one of the greatest figures in Norse myth, reduced into little more than a contrived solution to the dilemma of the movie…when the entire plot was contrived into being by his stupid decisions in the first place.

The Allfather depicted in the Eddas would take that “Odin” and break him in half.  Quite possibly he would then animate his corpse and order it to bludgeon the script writers until they produced something better.  In the lore, he killed, maimed, and destroyed anything that stood in the way of his people and their well-being; there was no “wait and see” attitude.  The idea of making “peace treaties” with enemies that would obviously turn on you the moment you looked away is not something this God would even consider.  If you are bothered by the deviations from the lore created by Thor with a vagina and Heimdall with melanin, than you should be frothing mad at this namby pamby excuse for a depiction of the Allfather.

Yet, scarcely a peep is heard about this wimpy and milquetoast bastardization.  There was a faint grumbling from a few scholars I knew, but that was it.  All of these people making gender and race based complaints, many identifying as “Odinists” by the way, didn’t pay attention as the God whose name they claim as their own was shown to be passive, weak-willed, and almost cowardly.  They missed that their namesake was presented as some bearded, all-knowing father figure that looks more at home in the Christian New Testament then in the Eddas.

Women have been cosplay as gender-bent versions of Thor for years.  Heathens know this, because they show up on their Tumblrs and Facebook Feeds all the time.  So

Women have been cosplaying a gender-bent Thor for years. Plenty of Heathens know this, because pictures of them show up in Heathen Faceboook groups and Tumblrs all the time…usually with some very suggestive compliments.  Did they have a problem when hot blonds were hanging around in metal bras and flimsy skirts, striking sultry poses?  Doesn’t seem like it.  How is it only a perversion of our lore when it becomes representative of the official, but fictional, narrative…but until then it’s just harmless eye candy?  If that isn’t misogyny, I’m not quite sure what is.

Give Thor different chromosomes, and suddenly you’re shitting on the Eddas***.  Make Heimdall black, and you’re a coward who is caving in to the pressures of the “monoculture”.  Never mind that Thor is a comic book character, and that this isn’t even the first time he has been deprived of his hammer and two golden apple.  Never mind that Idris Elba personified a proud warrior and tireless guardian every single second he was on screen.  Nope, those two things are still horrific insults to our religion.

Make Odin look a weak and frail coward, and a bunch of strong, proud, Folkist Heathens don’t seem to give a damn…because, hey…it may be a complete bastardization of the greatest of our Gods, but it’s a complete and utter bastardization played by a white dude.  There are people who can ignore all the times Thor was a frog or that a copy of his hammer was given to horse headed aliens because, hey, it may have nothing to do with any of the lore but there is no reason to get upset as long as they horse and the frog both have dicks and aren’t black.

If there is another way to see this, I can’t find it.  The only time anyone gives a crap is when stuff involves women or not-white people; then it’s an affront to these people and their religion.  Change Thor’s species, however, and no one cares because it’s a comic book.

While we are on that subject, did we forget that this is a comic book?!  Imagine if DC came out with a comic called the “The Super Savior Jesus”, where Jesus Christ was depicted as a member of the Green Lantern Corp or whatever.  You’d be able to hear the gnashing of teeth within the bible belt from space, and the Heathen community…we would laugh ourselves sick over their outrage.  I know this, because we already laugh at their extremest claptrap.  The Heathen community, almost in it’s entirety, constantly extends a big middle finger to the Westboro Baptists and their peers.  We think it’s ridiculous that they act as they act, preach as they preach, and condemn what they condemn.  We see this behavior, and we treat them as little better than circus clowns.

Then Thor gets a literal breastplate, and suddenly a huge chunk of us are in the big top right along side of them.

There are a handful of criticisms that are fair…and in every case, it’s when the criticizer is talking about the comic book as a comic book exclusively.  If you want to call it lazy story-writing, I’m okay with that; most comic book writing has been a form of highly polished, lazy world building for quite some time.  If you dismiss it as an attempt to sell comics, I’m okay with that too.  The moment you cross the line from “that’s a stupid comic book plot” to “this offends my religious beliefs in some way”, you’re in a very bad place.  If you’re reacting this strongly to a piece of fiction blacking up and femming up some characters with tenuous connections to your religious mythology, the problem isn’t with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Idris Elba, Marvel Comics, or anyone else.  The problem resides exclusively with you.

Throg and Beta Ray Bill even have collectable busts...which you purchase right along side the totally has nothing to do with divine Thor, Marvel-Thor.

Throg and Beta Ray Bill even have collectable busts…which you purchase right along side the blond headed alien who is supposedly a representation of the red-headed Aesir.  Collect the whole set!

At that point, it’s not about heritage, about coming home, or about any of that feel good rhetoric.  What you’re prattling about at that point is nothing less than unadulterated bigotry; what else can it be when your God with boobs bothers you more then your God as a sub-human frog?  The literal symbol of our faith is given to an extra-planetary horse-person and these same lore-berserkers don’t even bat an eye.  The comparisons are numerous, and none of them are kind to those who wield this type of situational outrage.  The best I can say for someone who thinks this way is that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance they are just an idiot instead of an idiot and a horrible bigot.

If you’re coming up with an explanation for why this isn’t just a waste of time and/or proof of your own racist, misogynistic foolishness, save it for Hopkins; the Odin of Northern Europe wouldn’t give a damn about your feeble excuses.


EDIT 7/26/2014: The post had to be edited due to an unacceptable amount of errors!  I apologize for the premature publishing, and thank those who brought it to my attention!  I don’t proofread well when I’m irritated… >.>


*More on that later.  The short version for now is that my tank was on empty, and I refilled it by focusing on stuff that wasn’t the community.
** Beta Ray Bill shows up again as a member of the Thor Crops.  Said horse-headed alien called the group the “Hammer Brothers”.  So, not only do we have an entire team of Thors, moving the Thunderer from the realm of unique and mighty being into something you can stick in a copying machine crossed with a Tardis, but they added in a reference to Super Mario Brothers.  Shine on, you crazy Marvel.
***I actually saw someone write this; that Marvel was “shitting on the Eddas”.  So apparently the last fifty plus years of writing stories about how Thor wasn’t a God, but rather that he and the entire pantheon were actually aliens that our spiritual ancestors thought were Gods is somehow completely okay and respectful.   All of that, plus an underwire bra and a tampon….then you’ve gone to far!  Are you kidding me?

Referencing Havamal 127

I have no issue speaking my peace, directing criticism, or saying that I think something is wrong.  What I do have a problem with is doing any of those things the wrong way.  I don’t criticize just to cause trouble or to craft an imaginary world were my crap doesn’t stink; I criticize because I believe that we all have a responsibility to make Heathenry/Asatru the best it can be…and pretending that I don’t see problems is not going to make them go away.  After all, this is the legacy we are intending to leave future generations.  We are, functionally, only now passing into the second generation of our revival…and the decisions and choices we make carry weight beyond our years and our comprehension.  Often, this causes me to take my time and choose the words I use with the utmost caution and care.  I want positive change, and positive change means practicing some mindfulness.

There are times, however, where no amount of mindfulness can help the discussion.  The is no room for constructiveness in the criticism one gives to someone who for is acting in a way that is, fundamentally, non-constructive.  These are the situations I tend to avoid, because I feel that no good can come from the majority of them.  This is not one of those times, much to my distress, so it’s time to hold people to account.

What I saw, in the last few weeks, was something that bothered me more than I can explain.  Threats, childish sulking, passive aggression, and just plain inappropriate behavior along ever conceivable metric, and all of it coming from a single person.  I heard accounts of threats made to ruin writing careers.  I saw smug attitudes and condescension.  I saw self-congratulation for virtues that did not exist.  What happened, you ask?  Well, an author (Bryan Wilton) wrote a book, had it self published on Amazon, and he got bad reviews for it.  Five of them, to be exact.

That’s was it.  No one was bleeding.  No one had died.   No one had anything stolen from them, and the physical safety of this man was never in question to the best of my knowledge.  All that happened was someone got their ego bruised.  Nothing more.

Don’t take my word for it, however.  Let’s look to the words of the author, published on his own Facebook fan page

For the purposes of clarity alone, the organization he is talking about here is the AFA*.

For the purposes of clarity alone, the organization he is talking about here is the AFA*.

Wilton Watch 012-b

Oh, by the way?  The second comment’s claim that all criticism had been addressed is a bold faced lie.  The author, at time of writing, has done nothing to meaningfully address any valid criticism made of the book.

Classy.

I also reviewed the book myself, and the review was not positive.  Feel free to look at it yourself, but there is nor reason to go into the books flaws here.  Read my review, or any of the other four negative reviews originally posted about it; they’re all pretty accurate as far as I am concerned.

I accidentally posted it anonymously, however, which led to a small confrontation with another person on Amazon.  This user, named “Bryan” (no last name), demanded I have the courage to actually use my name.  I corrected the mistake immediately, and than looked at “Bryan’s” list of reviews out of curiosity.  Like me, he had only reviewed one book.  Like me, it was also a review of a Bryan Wilton book.  Unlike me, the review was absolutely positive and glowing.  Strangely enough, a week later “Bryan” went anonymous…and than wrote two negative reviews for books by other Heathen authors.  Neither of these reviews were made for confirmed purchases, and both of these authoresses (Erin Lale and Larissa Hunter**) had written bad reviews for…you guessed it, the book on Loki that Mr. Wilton had just published.

This is no coincidence.  These are is revenge reviews.  The author said he was going to do it, and statements made on his fan page suggest that he wanted others to do them as well.  As an example, he posted a link to some of the negative criticism he received.  There was no link that I could find around the same time that connected people with the positive reviews he received…only his detractors.  It’s almost as if the five bad reviews were more important than the good ones, and he wanted to call his fan’s attention to the people who didn’t like his work.  Those with psychology backgrounds will notice this behavior is a standard activity for those who use coercion and aggression to get their way.  Mr. Wilton’s behavior is the providence of bullies, and it’s disgusting that he thinks this behavior is warranted or even acceptable.

All because five people thought his work was bad.

Mr. Wilton, I will not post this review of your behavior anonymously.  Here it is; nice and public.  I’m Harrison K. Hall, and you know exactly where to find me.  Go ahead and take down your threats and recriminations; I’ve seen you do it in the past and I know you’ll do it again.  I already have proof of your misconduct…so do whatever you like.  Just know that your actions are the lowest I have seen to date, and that what you do projects a man who has no business talking to anyone about what he feels is the difference between right and wrong.  Not in Heathenry.  Not even in a pre-school.

You’re threatening and pushing other authors around for the “crime” of not liking your work, and you are administrating that punishment with empty threats and lies.  That’s flatly unacceptable from any standard of Heathen ethic.  Maybe if you were willing to do it publicly, with your name attached to that criticism, you’d have a sliver of credibility.  At least then you would have the courage to stand up for your deeds with your own name.  You didn’t however, so you don’t.  You just want people who dislike your work shamed into silence.

Interesting little tidbit, by the way: both authors you’ve slandered, thus far, are women.  That’s amusing…because I haven’t seen any such malcontented nonsense directed at my blog…and you definitely know that I wrote a review.  Also, I didn’t see any recent “anonymous” reviews for Bryon Morrigan either…another author (the author is Heathen, but his books are not) who thought your book was unacceptably poor.  Seems like men get the pass, but the author of “Divine Feminism in Asatru” can’t handle criticism from females.  Say what you’d like about people handing out review copies without your permission (at least, I think that’s your excuse for slander)…at least their reviews are based on your work.  You’re just lying about the work of other people because they disagree with you, and that’s just deplorable…and the fact that you’ll only address women in this way just makes it creepy and disturbing.

All of these actions are to the side of the biggest issue I have of all; you wrote a book to help identify “evil within Asatru”, yet you acted more evil and malicious than any Lokean I have ever known…and you have no idea what it takes for me to say that.  The content didn’t bother me much, because I believe in a God that is larger, more powerful, and more pervasive than anything you can jam into a poorly edited PDF file.  It annoyed me that you were going to sit there and pontificate for forty whole pages about how evil other people are in a religion that doesn’t give much of a damn for the standard good/evil binary…but I was content to write my review and have that be that.  Havamal 125 and all that.

Than you crossed a line, an ethical line at that, and became everything you accused other people of being in a single stroke.   Instead of just accepting your detractors and moving on, you opted to hide your shortcomings and deny them.  This is evil; it is not a state of being anyone should strive for much less emulate and boast of.  It does not indicate spiritual growth and speaks volumes about your mental health.

Does that sound familiar?  It should because it is a direct quote, modified only for purpose of tense, that comes from page six of your own book.

I will not be making fake reviews of your other works, as tempting as it may be.  I will not engage in a stupid game of threats with you, because that will bring me down to your pitiful level.  Nothing will be gained by harassing you, and I do not suggest anyone try to teach you a lesson by doing the same things; stooping to you level would make Heathenry worse, not better…and Heathenry is more important to me than seeing you feel the same spite you throw at others.  What I will do, however, is expose you to the community at large.  I will make sure that your pettiness, abusiveness, and bulling is on showcase, and can be proven with your words.  Not just to Lokeans, but to all Heathens.  Because these deeds, whether you follow the AFA’s Nine Noble Virtues, my Ten Tempers, another system, or nothing more pronounced than the dictates of your own ancestors reflecting within you soul, are in opposition to anything that could be considered acceptable in Heathen ethics***.

Everything you wrote about Loki and his veneration has more to do with you, the writer, than it does to do with anything that occurs within any sect of Heathen spirituality.  Deal with the criticism, man up, and for the sake of the Gods and the Folk who you are supposed to be building?  Learn how to behave like the damned Asatruar, Folk Builder, and Clergy you claim you deserve to be.  Stop worrying about the “evils” of Loki worship and start concerning yourself with your own deeds.  I do not know what your deeds, in your personal and private life, say about you…but the ones you’ve put forth online, within Heathenry, are some of the absolute worst I have ever seen.

To my readers, I apologize for having to go in this sort of direction because it’s an absolute last resort.  I don’t like it, but sometimes such things are necessary.  That being said, unless Mr. Wilton’s actions in the future are such that they speak of misconduct that I believe the community must be informed about, I will doing my best to never breech this subject or talk about him on this (or any other) blog ever again.


*To the Board of Directors, Folk Builders (who are not Bryan Wilton), and Members of the Asatru Folk Assembly , allow me to say this…until such a time as you, collectively, stand up in favor of Mr. Wilton’s actions or passively permit this level of misconduct and lies through a track record inaction?  I’m not holding you responsible for this nonsense.  Differences in philosophy and and beliefs aside, I don’t think this is how you want to present yourselves and I operate under the presumption that you guys are better than this until I am shown otherwise.  To be plain about it, we may very much disagree on matters of what folkism or metagenetics indicate or mean and, in some cases, disagree very vigorously…but we can both agree, I should think, that Mr. Wilton’s deeds fall outside of any categorization of acceptability or ethics. 

** In the interest of full disclosure, I am a student in Larisa Hunter’s clergy program (aka Gods Person Training Program) over at Kenaz Kindred.  She did not request that I write this article and had no input as to it’s content, though she did share with me some of her experiences in this situation which I included and/or excluded at my own discretion.  No one at Kenaz Kindred or within the Gods Person Training Program has any authority over what I write here, or on any other blog, and any attempt to exert such influence via my membership in the aforementioned clergy program would result in my immediate resignation from that program.  As that has not happened, and as all interactions with Kenaz Kindred, The Gods Person Training Program, and Larisa Hunter have been completely ethical and professional in nature, I do not foresee that ever being a concern.  What you read here is completely, one-hundred percent, my own words…and it shall always remain so.

***Let me be clear here: that was not a sly way to infer that we should give Mr. Wilton his just dues while making a token gesture of “discouraging” harassment in kind.  I am dead serious, and I hope no one engages in this behavior.  The worst thing we can do is try to give this scornful egotist a taste of “his own medicine” because people like him live on attention and notary…and it doesn’t need to be positive.  No, let him and his “works” be forgotten.  He does not deserve acknowledgement, beyond making his misdeeds public so he can be seen for what he is and handled accordingly.

Six Days Left for the Heathens United Benefit for the Victims of Kansas City

Click the logo to be taken to the fundraiser.

Click the logo to be taken to the fundraiser.

At time of writing, we are just shy of 80% of our original goal of five-thousand dollars.  While those of us behind this fundraiser received some words of scorn and contempt from a select few, the community’s response was almost entirely positive and solidly on the same page.  Collectively, we condemned those that would murder in the name of their pettiness and their hatred, we reminded ourselves about the truth honor of Heathen spirituality, and we put politics aside in the name of respect and frith towards the families of those who were struck down.

There is nothing wrong with what we have done thus far, but I would love to see us finish what we started and complete our original goal.  Not in the name of Heathens United, nor in the name of any national organization.  Not in the name of a particular branch of philosophy or theology.  I would love to see us come together, collectively, and do something that needs to be done simply because it needed to be done.  In the name of Heathenry as each of us identifies it, our ancestors as we know them, and our communities as we celebrate them.

As I finished this request for additional support, I donated myself.  I do not have much, but I can do without ten dollars worth of stuff to show those that grieve that their losses are respected, remembered, and honored.  That those were killed were not forgotten with the changing of the news cycle and the next “big murderer”.  A thousand dollars, dispersed amongst this community, is not nearly as great an amount as it seems.  What this community can show with that gesture, however, is something that goes beyond my ability to describe.

If you can give, please do so.  If you can’t give, at least spread the word.  Either way you are building a legacy of action that your descendants will remember and toast to long after you’ve passed on.  No one will remember us for how much we bickered and argued…but they will recall our generosity, our courage, and our honor.

Thank you for your time.  Walk with your ancestors, and hail the Gods.

Elsewhere on the interwebz…

While performing the final edits and additions to a Call from Arms, I ended up catching up with some of the vlogs that I enjoy the most.  One of these was the Jimquisition, a show on the Escapist that is hosted by Jim Sterling and deals almost entirely with consumer advocacy and awareness for video games.  During one of the most recent episodes, he said something which struck a chord.  The only reason I didn’t quote him in that article is I wanted to gain his permission first.

The subject for the show in question was how Nintendo of America had handled a mistake in how it dealt with some glitches in the game Tomodachi Life that were related to the GLBTQ community, and how his initial coverage of that material has been somewhat flawed.  In talking about his own mistakes, Mr. Sterling had the opportunity to talk about mistakes and how we should own up to them.  What he had to say was probably the best thing I’ve ever heard someone vocalize on the subject, and so close to my own thoughts that I want to shake his hand and thank for his eloquence.

There is a really unfortunate belief on line that an apology makes somebody weak. Perhaps it’s something about the black and white, left or right, fox or CNN extremest culture we live in, but sticking to one’s guns whether right or wrong is seen as an example of great strength. We respect those who never waiver in opinion and conversely we scorn those who change their minds as flip floppers, inconsistent, or otherwise weak. I’ve never held that to be true.  The only way to be right is to be prepared to be wrong. If proven wrong, the wisest thing to do is to change one’s perspective in order to be right. That’s not weak to me; it’s logical.  It’s the only the smart thing to do.

In all truth, it takes no strength at all to cling to one belief and never confront it. To have one single idea protected as immutable and remain unswayed to contrary logic, even if it’s superior. No, it is not weak to change your mind and it is far from weak to apologize. It surely takes greater strength to admit you’re wrong, especially in a culture that sees apology as lily-liveried capitulation. As an admittance of shame and, therefore, deserving of derision.

I am proud of the moments where I have admitted I’m wrong….I feel that each time I have been able to accept that I was wrong allowed me to evolve, gain a fresh insight, and become a better person. – Jim Stirling, from the episode “Tomopology Life”

The only text I removed from that was centered the specific mistakes Mr. Stirling cited, because they’re all tied to the industry he works in and lack any sort of meaning without context.

I couldn’t have put it better myself if I tried.  I think we need to be ready to question ourselves, our motivation, and our rhetoric the moment someone calls upon in a meaningful way.  I think we need to be comfortable enough with our own opinions that the possibility that some of them are wrong doesn’t break us.  We need to the courage to face that we may be wrong just as mush as we need the inner strength to speak our minds in the first place.  We need to step off our own high horses and not go for the throat when we see appologies from people we may or may not dislike.

If you are both a Heathen and a Geek, I highly suggest you check out his show; while the ironic smugness he presents as he acts an exaggerated version of himself can get on the nerves of some, this wasn’t the first show to feature absolute solid gold.  Even if you aren’t, it’s not hard to see the wisdom he advocates.  This is a piece of wisdom that can serve us all well.

A Call from Arms

viking-shield-8694639Things were already pretty red and raw when Frazier Glenn Cross decided to be a murderer over in Kansas City.  The Pan-Pagan circles and groups were still trying to adjust, correct themselves, and/or be in denial when it came to the allegations of child molestation held against a Wiccan of modest note.  While I hear a lot of grumbling and semantic pushing over whether the various versions of Heathenry fall within the category of Paganism, this time the distinction served no point; the actions of that child molester were going to reflect on all of us by proximity, because the media struggles to make any distinction between two different flavors of Non-Biblical, Non-Islamic, and Non-Asian religion.  Love it or hate it, the horrors of Klein were going to effect damn near everyone, us included.  I don’t think it’s a problem in Heathenry as much as it may be a problem elsewhere, but our hackles were up to begin with.

It’s time to let facts be put down; Cross did damage to us as a community that may take some time to properly come to terms with.  We weren’t on the receiving end of his bullets and no Heathens lost their life due to his acrid madness, but the seeds of paranoia, fear, anger, and sadness effected us in an undeniable way.  I’ve seen shorter tempers, bigger fights, and larger arguments than I have seen previously…and I’m hearing from others that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Over the last couple of weeks, I quite nearly walked away from almost everything.  Not my religion of course, nor from the community entirely.*  The weight of advocacy and the demand for awareness went from being a sacred responsibility, however, to a crushing burden within a matter of days.  It went from putting aside politics for charity work to shouting at each other across the isles.  I went to writing about geek/nerd culture and doing reviews on fast food items just so I could write and actually enjoy it.  So I could engage that need without feeling a wave of sadness and weary ennui.  It came to a head about a weak ago when groups of Heathens, both liberal and conservative, engaged in an impromptu foot eating contest.  I never wanted to be further from the entire community as I did in that moment.

Every time we shout at each other, it’s a missed opportunity.  I can hear eyes rollings and people bringing up the same excuse** of ‘proud warrior tradition’.  I am full aware of how our spiritual ancestors had a lot of experience at kicking ass and taking names.  Yet, while those ancestors weren’t peaceful and did not shy away from conflict, a reality check is required because…

No one, Heathen or otherwise, has strictly peaceful ancestors! 

Pictured: A whom to a whole mess of warrior cultures...none of whom remove the

Pictured: A place with a whole mess of proud, warrior cultures…none of which expunge their descendants of any social responsibilities for decent behavior.

No one on this damned Earth has only pacifists and hippies making up their line.  We are all related to a whole lot of someones that, at some point, killed people for land and shiny metal because that was one of the major economic forces of the world.  It wasn’t just acceptable, it was a business model.  A lot has changed in terms of the cultural background however, and the cultures of the world are collectively putting a higher and higher value on a human life than may have ever existed before.  If you want to talk to me about the horrors that take place in the third world, you’re going to prove my point because the fact that you know about them already shows how much this world has changed!  Every one of has, quite likely, a plethora of proud warrior traditions represented in our line.  We also have traditions of peace, diplomacy, and acting with maturity.  There is no spiritual partitive to look at everything like a fight, and we need to stop pretending that their is.

Our spiritual, Heathen ancestors had concepts for peace, diplomacy, and getting along with people they might not have liked.  They had the Allthing.  They had Freyfaxi.  They had Gods and Goddesses of hearth, stories, and guardianship in addition to war, warriors and victory.  We have far more suggestions and ideas about how to hold your tempter written in the Havamal than we do about when it is acceptable to let it go.  We have stories within the lore that show us even the most aggressive and brash God within the pantheon knew there were times when shouting and violence were not the answer.  They left runic messages on the stonework in foreign cities, proof that not ever encounter with them was one of bloodshed and death; some received trade and good manners.

They had Frith.  Much has been said about what Frith is and isn’t.  So, let’s just clear things up by saying it’s okay to have issues…but you need to be damn sure to check yourself before you open your mouth.  It’s okay to yell at someone who messed up, but not when they openly confess wrong doing.  It’s right to be angry at being cussed out when you’re admitting your faults, but not when the last two decades have been filled with a deafening silence when it comes to your own accountability.  It’s right to hold people to account for the mistakes they make, but bringing up the last few decades of bad blood will not get anything accomplished.  It’s right to be upset at false accusations, but you need to know when it’s time to look at the accusations and ask yourself if you are also part of the problem.   We’ve all been so busy pointing fingers, that I’ve become convinced that most people don’t know the real issues at hand anymore.

Sometimes, I’m not even sure if I do.  It’s gotten so that I’m not sure if I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the group of trees for the forest.  The last few weeks have been more filled with video games and tacos than essays and articles because I needed to let my brain take a break before my diplomacy did.

It takes two to tango…and so many of us have been involved in a time wasting dance that is breaking communities, friendships, and ourselves,  I have seen, on multiple occasions, that everyone involved has the best intention at heart; there are always those few who think of themselves and only themselves, but they are a minority whose deeds dig their own graves.  They are easy to call out and easier still to rid ourselves of.   It is clear that the majority of us want the same thing; to leave Heathenry in better shape than we found it.  To make it a better place for our children, and their children in turn.  To give those lost, spiritually, a chance to find a safe harbor for their heart and soul.  We disagree, in some cases by large margins, on how to get that accomplished but we need to pay just as much attention to our similarities as to our differences.

I am not making apologies for my stances, nor do I think that they’re wrong.  I think bigotry in Heathenry is a big problem, and I think it’s a big priority.  I do not agree with many of the excuses made for it, and I think they are comforting rhetoric and candy coated  malignment almost without exception. I am not, at any time, going to stop calling bullshit when people try to turn inclusion into a political issue rather than a very human one.  I regret nothing I’ve said in this regard, but I am not so blindsided by those causes that I’m willing to create two or three problems in order to solve one.

Honestly, I hope that we all have that way of thinking in my.   We should not be so psychologically waylaid that we see madness like Cross’s as the rule, rather than the exception that it is.  We should not be so quick to call foul on our opponents that we confuse murder and death threats as being the same sort of darkness as dissension and rhetoric.  We should no be so quick to toe party lines that we’re willing to jump on the opposition like a dying gazelle.  Before people call me self righteous here, let me be clear and tell you I’m very well aware of how closely I’ve skirted that line myself.  I am pretty damn sure I will cross it at some point, and I can only hope that both my proponents and detractors call me on it as quickly as I have tried to call them on their past mistakes.

May our descendants remember us for how we passed horns, rather than how we threw words.

May our descendants remember us for how we passed horns, rather than how we threw words.

If I don’t make sure I hold myself up to as a high a standard as I hold my opponents, than I’m not fighting for a better Heathenry, a better knowledge of the Gods, or to make deeds that my ancestor can be proud of.  At that point, I would only be fighting for my name in the most superficial context imaginable.  I don’t think my own experiences are so unique that this does not apply to just about everyone.

We owe ourselves and each other better than that.  No matter what you feel Heathenry is, we all owe it better than that.  Consider this a call from arms, and a call to tables.  To desks.  To conference rooms.  I am tired of yelling;  I’d like to talk now.  Scratch that.

I want us all to talk.


*I think at one point I made a small criticism, either on the internet or in the real world, about how I didn’t get why so many polytheist bloggers took a month of silence last year.  I think I’ve apologized for that before but if I haven’t, I’m doing so now.  If I already did, than I making sure it’s publicly known.  I get it now.  From the bottom of my heart, I completely understand and I realize just how little I understood at that point.

**Having pride in the exploits of those ancestors who could rightly be described as warriors is a good thing.  A great thing even; being a warrior is a sacrifice I know enough about only to know I don’t know nearly enough about.  That sort of dedication, honor, and drive should be acknowledged.  Viewing it as an excuse to act like an asshole all the time because Heathens “aren’t peaceful” is a bunch of nonsense, and it’s abusing your ancestors exploits in order to avoid working on yourself.  Don’t use your ancestors deeds as a license to be a jerk; we owe them better than that, and they would knock some sense into you themselves if they could.