This Will Not Stand.

Yesterday, Galina Krasskova released a blog entry of her own by the same name.  When attempting to name my own article, I realized nothing else seemed to fit the bill properly.  What is happening here, on many levels, cannot and will not stand.

Click the logo to be taken to the fundraiser.

Click the logo to be taken to the fundraiser.

The discussion that will be cause by the violence of a single bigot will be potent, and they will be necessary.  For now, however, it falls upon to see that we respect the victims of that crime as well as those they left behind.  Not because we are responsible, but because we can.  The victims of this senseless tragedy weren’t involved in CNN’s poor journalism that painted all of us with a single brush stroke; they were simply possessed of the misfortune to be near a violent sociopath at the wrong time.  If we are going to be force to be involved in this, than let that involvement yield honorable and frithful results.

Some of us have put together a fundraiser to assist those effected by this tragedy.  If you can give, give.  If you can afford to, spread the message so we can find more people that can.  Than, once the dust settles on this, it’ll be time to have some very important conversations.  Conversations that have waited for far too long, and cannot wait any longer.

A Huge Issue

Did I choose this for the representation of the loss of  innocence and the recognition of how there can be darkness anywhere?  Or did I select it as a metaphorical representation of the community's response, where so many have selected to view things in a way that makes them feel better?  The yes!

Did I choose this for the representation of the loss of innocence and the recognition of how there can be darkness anywhere? Or did I select it as a metaphorical representation of the community’s response, where so many have selected to view things in a way that makes them feel better? The answer…is yes!

When the discussions about child molestation, exploration, and rape came up within Paganism due to the actions of a published author, I had my thoughts.  I opted to hold them for a moment for a number of reasons.  Foremost amongst those reasons was that my thoughts consisted almost exclusively of screaming at my monitor while cleaving my keyboard with a battle axe.  After that, there was a self-imposed obligation to choose my words extremely carefully; due to some mild paranoia on the part of my parents, as well as simple luck, I managed to get through my childhood without being so manipulated or hurt.  This makes it very easy to stick my foot in my mouth, because there are things that I’m just never going to understand when it comes to this sort of subject.

Cooler heads and the lack of readily available battle axes prevailed.  I think I’ve got what I need to say in hand, so let us get down to business.

First, let’s stop talking about Kenny Klein.  Seriously.  We don’t have an issue with Kennys nor with Kleins; there is, to my knowledge, no statistically significant number of Kenneths nor Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Kleins going about raping and molesting little kids.  I hate that it’s called the Kenny Klein issue, because he really isn’t the issue to my mind; that a predator can hunt, practically in plain sight, for over thirty years without getting caught prior to this is an issue.  That we are drawing attention to the individual who committed the crime, rather than the crimes he committed and towards making sure the victims are properly cared for is also an issue.  That there were warning signs and accounts that were missed due to his notoriety is a very considerable issue.

The man who committed these crimes is being dealt with.  Kenny Klein will go to court.  The evidence will be weighed.  He will most likely be convicted of something pretty damn heinous*, he will be sentenced, and he will probably not survive to serve his full prison term due to the court of public opinion that is a standard feature in any  high security prison’s general population.  The matter, one way or another, will be resolved.

I’ve heard and read some of what others have to say on the matter, some of whom have more recognizable names**.  The ones that I have agreed with have been pretty damn uncompromising.  Normally, I’m the first to say that there is no black and white. and that all things need to have context and be viewed in the appropriate perspective/  Here is the exception that proves the rule, however, because this is an extremely simple matter as far as I’m concerned.

Assaulting a child is already a special kind of evil, and I don’t use that word lightly.  The Loki debate has shown me, very clearly, how easily the word evil can be used as shorthand for “I don’t like this, and ad hominems are easier than actually thinking or reading books”.  There is no other word for it, however; assaulting a child in any form is just putrid.  That’s before we even add the word “sexual” to the equation, which is where I loose my ability to properly express myself and I have to start fighting the urge to just start headbutting the wall while screaming obscenities.

What boggles my mind the most, and what I feel needs the most attention drawn to it, is how there seems to have been a pattern here…one we’ve seen elsewhere.  Klein was able to escape detection because so many people dismissed the concerns and accounts of those who he approached.  The parallels between child abuse here and child abuse within organized religious communities are pretty direct, and I’ve met more than one Pagan, Polytheist, and Spiritualist who left the religion of their birth exactly due to the same thing happening to themselves or a loved one.  Think about that, and realize that the exact same thing occurred within our own ranks.  Worse than that; many times in other faiths, the perpetrator commands enough local power to silence his or her victims via fear of damnation and social persecution.  Some of the victims, both potential and actual, spoke up long before Klein was brought to justice.  Dozens of people didn’t stop him…because he played a violin in Pagan music circles and had written Pagan books.

ECDIReally think about that; those involved and in a position to stop this monster did worse than the religions we criticize for covering it up.  We had given our young a stronger, louder voice that would not be punished based on moral boundaries…only to ignore it when it mattered the most.  If that seems like a rude statement….good.  There needs to be a lot of rude statements right now.  There needs to be a lot of hard questions asked of some negligent people.  There is a demand that we account for ourselves here, and that we do it without tip toeing around people’s feelings.  Children have feelings you see, and when we abandon concerns about those feelings in order so we don’t have to ask ourselves hard questions?  The buck stops there.

Or, to put it another way, I have two children.  They are “Munchkin”, age 7 years, and Peanut, age 6 months.  Anyone who suggests that their safety and innocence take a backseat to someone’s feelings can stick their athame where the sun doesn’t shine and rotate upon it.  Full stop.  End of Press Release.  Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag.

Happily, there are some helpful dialogues being held about the matter.  One of the most useful things being asked and talked is “how do we do better?”.  For my own part, this is probably something I’m going to weigh in on more over at Witches and Pagan than I am here; this blog largely starts and ends with my take on the Heathen perspective, and the issue at hand isn’t something strictly Heathen.  Two Way Bifrost is where I talk about interfaith community harmony and, I’m just spit balling here, I think finding ways to protect our children from sexual assault is a pretty harmonious fucking action.

This post is in a much harsher tone that I am fond of using.  This isn’t just because I’m a father.  This isn’t just because I’ve known dozens of people who have been sexually assaulted as minors, and I’ve been able to see the permanent damage on their soul that has resulted from it.  It isn’t just because there is a realization that all of my philosophizing and rumination on ethics is useless if I can’t stand firmly against one of the most obviously evil and heinous things that I exists in this world.  It’s more than that.  More than the sum of it’s parts.  More than Heathenry or Paganism.  There are some things for which etiquette and soft words are not made for, and this is one of them.  If me saying fuck two (er, three now…damnit) times and saying that child rape is bad, no questions asked, bothers you?  It’s you who needs to adjust your perceptions and tone, because mine isn’t changing.

Not on this.

*I am of the understanding he already confessed to some or all of it.

**Hey, Other Pagans and Heathens?  Look, I know some of you have some big bad issue with Cauldron Farms, House Sankova, Krasskova, Sannion, and probably a bunch of other people too.  Whatever; I certainly don’t agree with everything they say either, but difference assist us in creating a better dialogue.  I won’t pretend to understand why you disagree to the point where you feel murder and rape threats are acceptable…but that’s your value system to figure out***.  It’s at this time I’d like to point out that  when a crime happens involving things like rape or molestation, they’re amongst the first demanding advocacy, victim awareness, and proper community response.  Perhaps those of you yelling and screaming about them really should get a priority check or, at the very least, focus on actual issues other than “someone said a thing I don’t like” or “someone challenged my ethics in a way I don’t appreciate.”  Just food for thought.

***Oh yeah, and if you actually make a murder or rape threat in earnest?  Or should you support and advocate them when they are made?  You belong right there in prison next to that child rapist; it takes great mental sickness to wish those sort of crimes be committed against people over nothing more than a difference of opinion, and an even greater psychological pathology to hope to be able to participate in the same.

You will be heard.

Harrison K. Hall:

Hopefully, I can add just a little more reception to the signal.

Originally posted on The House of Vines:

One of the things that’s most bothered me about what I’ve been reading since the Kenny Klein story broke is how often the sufferers of abuse in our communities have been deprived of their voice. People refused to hear them, told them that they were lying or crazy, told them to keep quiet because it would make their group or paganism at large look bad, told them to forget and get over it.

This really fucking offends my innate sense of justice – but it also troubles me as a devotee of the goddess Melinoë who was conceived when Zeus disguised himself as Haides and violently raped his daughter Persephone, mangling her flesh in the process. The wound grew into rage and that rage became personified as Melinoë who was transformed from a wrathful Fury into a gentle goddess when Dionysos Eubouleos was willing to sit and listen to her…

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Regarding Loki, Part 8: April Fool’s Day

Hail Loki,
Lord of Hearthfire
Joy of the Føroyar
Mirth Seeker, Truth Tracker, Hammer Dowser

For what we do not know,
There will be answers.
For what we have not heard,
There will be echos.
For what we have not have seen,
There will be explorers.

When holy days are lost,
New ones are found.
When myths are forgotten,
New ones take their place.
When wisdom is misplaced
New wisdom shall recover it.

The fire does not go out,
So long as there are those who tend it.

Hail Asa-Loki!

Heathen Ethics, Part 8: Your Ancestors, My Ancestors

beautiful-tree-photography20--photographs-of-pleasing-trees-photography-heat---photography-w7gusmcpAn idea struck me earlier today, and ever since that moment it has been struggling to eat it’s way out of my brain.  So, let’s get it out so we can look it!

While those who embrace Folkism and those who reject Folkism disagree on a lot of things, there are a handful of things that both schools of thought agree on.  One of them is the importance of ancestry and one’s own ancestors.  It forms a philosophical backbone for just about every flavor of Heathenry, and even the most pro-synchretic, non-Folkish Norse Polytheist in the world is going to look at a Heathen cross-eyed if they declare ancestor veneration/worship to be optional or (even worse) irrelevant.  It’s one of the most primal conceits of our faith, regardless of denomination, and it’s importance cannot be overstated.

It is not as widely acknowledged, but certainly not thought of as contentious, that all people should learn about, embrace, and venerate their ancestral roots regardless of whether those people are Heathen or not.  Ancestry is sacred, and not just when one is Heathen.  While there are those who feel that a lack of Germanic, Icelandic, Scandinavian, and/or Norwegian ancestry bars one from making a meaningful spiritual connection to the worship practices and Gods of those cultures, only those who truly count themselves as racist would malign the ancestry of another.

And now I get to the original idea that has persisted all day; if the above is true, wouldn’t it follow that racial slurs of any kind are the worst sort of speech that a true Heathen may utter?  This is not simply some permutation of a so-called “political correct agenda”*; this is an idea born of serious consideration and thought

To insult, malign, or demean the ancestry of another is to insult every father and mother within their line.  It is to castigate there ancestry by it’s nature and by no other standard than it’s mere existence.  It is showing contempt for a person’s heritage that to suggest, regardless of ancestral deeds or merit, that it is lesser just for not being your own.  That’s the closest thing to Heathen blasphemy that I can conceive of.

Each person’s ancestry is something sacred.  Which is a pretty amazing thing; each of us have the sacredness of our own family line.  No matter how weak or sickly the most recent branches of our tree may have become, there is a point where it pulls back into a mighty and stout root that reaches back further than recorded history can fathom.  To spread bile towards the the ancestry of another, even in passing, is to stain one’s own sacredness.   Imagine how hard it would be for an outsider, looking upon your words and deeds, to truly believe in the hollowedness you purport to hold ancestry within when another’s can be casually and callously dismissed.  Also, think what it must say of your own assessment of your ancestors if you need to malign those of another person; if you truly think you ancestry is great, you need never speak ill of the roots of another.

Ancestry, if sacred, is always sacred.  When it’s my ancestors.  Your ancestors.  Their ancestors.  Anyone’s ancestors.  Everyone’s ancestors.

In so many mystical traditions, we affirm that words have power.  If so, remember the words you say of another; they reflect more of you than of the other.

*I do have an agenda, mind you.  It’s just that it’s “Drink coffee”, “Don’t Run out of Coffee”, and “Anyone who hurts my family should be missing ribs and/or spleens”.

EDIT 3/25/2014: I have a bad habit of leaving questions in my essays where they don’t really fit most of the time.  At the suggestion of my wife(my better half by far), I’ve polished those sentences so they read more clearly and easily.  The meaning is the same; it just reads and flows a bit easier.

Ethereal Edition: To the Forgotten Unforgotten

The FogI’ve actually been doing a light amount of academic research the last few weeks, which is unusual for me.  While I respect the academic and scholarly approaches to out faith, I also think too many depend upon them too much.  Too many approach the lore as a record, rather than a finger point to the moon..and I think we damage our faith with an over reliance on the lore.

Yet, I’ve been looking over Stephan Grundy’s words on Loki and it’s been making me curious to expand out and tackle some more diverse topics.  In particular, it has stuck me by how much we have lost.  The nature of veneration for much of our faith is gone, and we are lucky to have the scraps we do in some cases.  It in this frame of mind that I offer the following.

To those who halls were not remembered,
To those who tales were not retold,
To those whose place in time was not recorded.
I offer these words.

Though your names may be lost,
My ancestors were not.
Though recount of your deeds did not endure,
Their results have.
Though your lessons have gone untaught,
Your wisdom can still be found.

To those Gods and Goddesses,
That history did not mark,
To those Heroes and Heroines,
Whose Sagas found no scribe,
To the forgotten unforgotten,
I say this.

There are those who see the empty spaces,
where once your altars were.
There are those who search dark tomes,
in the pursuit of bright names.
There are those that seek you still,
Call out to prayer on the lips on ancestors.

Today, I remember the forgotten unforgotten,
May the day of their remembrance be soon.

Heathen Ethics, Part 7: The Ten Guiding Tempers

Quite some time ago, I talked about my issues with the Nine Noble Virtues.  I had a lot of issues with them too, but that wasn’t because I was against the existence of an ethical code; I was against how the NNV was established and the role it fulfills in Heathenry today.  It was created using the Havamal as the penultimate ethical source that it never was intended to be, and it was presented as the wisdom of our ancestors when our ancestors never head heard of it.  The collected wisdom and ethical thew of our spiritual fore-bearers, reduced down to a handful of words chosen by their superficial connection to a few pieces of good advice that existed in a document that is presented as the Tao of the Norse without a single quantifying statement.*

i1232892707_1A while back, I presented a few guidelines that I thought any proper Heathen code would have to follow in order to achieve a state of practical viability.  After letting the ideas and concepts simmer for half a year,** I decided it was time to try to see what I could come up with.  I took all the material from both versions of the Nine Noble Virtues, referenced the Six-Fold Goal of the Troth***, and then separated the grain from the chaff.  I kept things informed by the manners and thew of  our spiritual ancestors, while giving them the room to breathe in modern air.  They weren’t chosen based on observance of barely relevant numerology; it’s just what felt right and it was what worked for what I was attempting to create.  No hard biases against or for any organization, philosophy, or personally relevant spirituality.  Just a code that I think will serve Heathens well.

Those were my goals at least; I can’t say whether they’ve been achieved or not.  That’s up to, well,  everyone else.

These are the ten guiding tempers, intended as guidelines for living a Heathen life that will give you an enduring name, worthwhile deeds, and a satisfying life.  The first nine are concepts and ideals that should rule your thoughts, as well as the concept or idea that you should balance it  against.  No virtue, as an absolute, will ever yield good results.  Thus each virtues is viewed through the lens of another one that helps to guide and define it.

The tenth temper is a special one, but it is also very important.  If these guidelines do not serve you well, follow the tenth temper and you’ll end up with the results you deserve.

This is not Heathen Bushido.  This is not the legacy of our spiritual ancestors.  All it represents is good advice, as seen by one Heathen, and given to any other Heathen who chooses to use it.

Courage tempers Faith: If our way does not maintain its faith, it will not endure.  If we have faith in our Gods and our communities, we will be strong.  There are times, however, when our Gods will test us and our communities are not at hand.  There will be times in the life of every Heathen when they must handle an issue greater than themselves, and where no amount of aide on physical, spiritual, and social fronts will take care of things.  Faith is your belief within things outside of yourself; courage is the faith your own heart and soul have for their own capacity.  Without courage, faith becomes weak and dependent.

Freedom tempers Courage: If our way does not maintain its courage, it will not endure.  Courage gives us the strength to face any difficulty, regards of the risks.  We are not bound, however, to face every difficulty or our lives would become a meaningless transition from struggle to struggle. Without freedom, we would be forever locked with a constant cycle of conflict without respite to enjoy the spoils of those struggles.  We have the freedom to choose the purposes to which we devote ourselves and a mandate to preserve that freedom for ourselves and our community.  Without freedom, courage leads to exhaustion and lifelessness.

Discipline tempers Freedom: If our way does not maintain its freedom, it will not endure.  The choices we make for ourselves, our families, and our communities must be choices made with agency and purpose.  While freedom is important to any Heathen, freedom unchecked by our own willpower can lead to a life without triumphs, deeds of merit, and a completely self-serving attitude.  We need discipline, control of ourselves and actions, for our freedoms to be truly meaningful things.  Without discipline, freedom leads to a lack of focus and action.

Frith tempers DisciplineIf our way does not maintain its discipline, it will not endure.  When we establish self-control, we are the master of ourselves.  Yet, our perspectives alone should never shape all of the circumstances within our lives.  If we focus to much on self-control, we can easily loose perspectives on all things are not connected to the self.  Without acknowledging our responsibilities to our communities, so much of what we do can quickly become meaningless.  Our discipline should be just as much shaped by our desire for goodwill and community as it should by our own willpower.  Without frith, discipline becomes stagnant and selfish.

Wisdom tempers FrithIf our way does not maintain its Frith, it will not endure.  The well being of our community was of central importance to our spiritual ancestors, but those communities needed more than just goodwill to survive.  The frith they built was also guided by intelligence, experience and wisdom.  Further, our societies and communities are not constructed from and limited by geographical restrictions; who we build Frith with is now completely a choice.  This changes much, and alters entire social models in the blink of an eye.  Now the entire world is at our fingertips, connect societies and communities as never before.  While this allows us to teach and learn as never before, it also gives those who speak with ignorance and greed a louder voice as well.  Now words of wisdom and intelligence are more power and meaningful than ever, for they both guide our communities as well as shape them.  Our choices must ever be guided by sound thoughts and firm understanding.  Without wisdom, frith dilutes and is quickly usurped.

Honesty tempers Wisdom: If our way does not maintain its wisdom, it will not endure.  If a Heathen is asked for their council, they should their true thoughts or none at all.  Without honesty, the sage and correct choices are harder to find and communities become easily led to infighting and ruin.     Without honesty, any piece of wisdom can be a lie and thus the nature of wisdom itself is compromised.  With but a single lie, a lifetime of advice can be render contaminated and suspect.  Without honesty, wisdom becomes foul and poisoned.

Warmth tempers HonestyIf our way does not maintain its honesty, it will not endure.  Honesty is the lifeblood of an honorable life.  Yet, without a hospitable bearing, the blood turn weak and this.  If those who are our guest are given every truth we can think of without request or consideration?  We abuse the privileges of a proper host.  Should we release our words without thought within the house of another?  We abuse the respect and consideration afforded to a guest.  While we should never lie to our quests or to our hosts, we should also respect them all the same and leave their private lives to their own device.  Warmth is a combination of many ideas: hospitality, manners, grith, and more.  All of these things have subtle differences, but they all fly under of being a good person to the souls who we trust to be honest towards and our spiritual ancestors did not grant their warmth strictly to those who were the same as they.  Without warmth, honesty turns to bitterness and callousness.

Pragmatism tempers Warmth: If our way does not maintain its warmth, it will not endure.  Our spiritual ancestors welcomed strangers, yet they were not foolish.  Those who would and have threatened them are not welcome.  They do not give more than they can afford to give, for their first loyalty is to their families.  A good Heathen is one who plans ahead.  They have prepared for the next winter before the previous one has ended, and they plan for the next harvest in the way they gather the present one.  They endure not only by their resilience of body, but also from their resilience of mind.  Long before the fight started, whether it be against robbers of weather, our spiritual ancestors prepared themselves as best they could for it.  They secured their capacity for hospitality and mindfulness with actions and plans.  Without pragmatism, warmth cannot be maintained or established.

Faith tempers Pragmatism: If our way does not maintain its pragmatism, it will not endure.  We must be ready for the unexpected and aware of the known, but we must also leave room for those things for our heart and soul.  We venerate and worship mighty Gods and Goddesses, whose capacity and influence is far greater than the legends alone would tell us.  To loose sight of that is to loose sight of those who help us, guide us, and watch over us.  We must trust those who have built good frith and warmth with us.  To loose sight of this is to loose sight of all that a community can offer.  There will be times were no amount of logic and common sense will see us through.  In these cases, we must trust our luck, our communities, and our Gods to get us through.  Without faith, pragmatism becomes bland and paranoid.

The Tenth Temper – Deeds temper Ethics:   If our way does not consider ethics, it will not endure.  Yet this is but one interpretation of the ethics of our spiritual ancestors.  If you are not satisfied with the deeds that results from the tempers?  Than change them.  Alter them.  Break them over your knee with a sickening crunch so loud that it turns the Allfather’s head.  Make them yours.  Cast them aside, and live your life by your instincts.  Your deeds are your own, and no moralistic code can ever take responsibility for them.  Never lets yourself become so dogmatic and fixated that you fail to hold your ethical beliefs up to the same standard you hold yourself up to.  Without mindfulness of our deeds and their consequences, ethics will always fail.

*While I don’t oppose the Havamal, I certain oppose how it is used by many Heathens.  The Havamal is, at best, a modestly functional compass for making educated guess about the ethical viewpoints of out spiritual ancestors.  I’ll never suggest throwing it out because it certainly has it’s uses, and one can gain some insight by considering its words.  It is not the Heathen Bible, but it still gets used as such; in function if not in name. 

**Wait, how long have I been doing this?  Yeesh.

*** I consider it somewhere between two version of the Nine Noble Virtues in terms of quality.  It’s well intentioned, and serves well as some sort of ethic infused mission statement.  It still suffers from almost all of the same problems however, and thus I didn’t think it needed a whole lot of narration to cover the pros and cons.