Life, Chaos, and Tumblr

A couple of quick things…

1. I haven’t gone anywhere.  I am not going to stop writing.  Life has just been too busy to write the material I want to write at the level of quality I want to write it at:  My responsibilities include a two year old toddler and an eight year old grade-school age child, and those are the sorts of entities that just need to be prioritized over a lot of other things.  My current job has me working in group home environment with those who have IDD spectrum disorders seven days in a row…and while that comes with seven days off in a row, that means there are a lot of adult responsibilities that get shifted into that one week and time is at a premium.

While I know that my work is absolutely coated in spelling and grammar errors, that’s not the metric by which I am measuring quality typically: I want my content to be on point.  When I wrote about my thoughts on Folkism and Metagenetics?  A lot of research went into that, because I wanted to make sure that before I got critical I knew exactly what I was talking about.  When I offered my own ethical code in response to my issues with the NNV, I made sure that this was material that said something I could be proud of.  When I post something here, it’s very rare that it’s something I haven’t put a lot of time, research, and consideration into.  Perhaps in some of my earlier material, when I had absolutely no audience to speak of and the stakes (such as they were) felt non-existent, I was willing to be a little more careless.

That’s not where I am now; a lot of people have read my work, and a lot of people will probably to continue to read my work.  While I do try and improve my content in terms of it’s spelling and quality of form, it’s the quality of material that I’m just not really willing to budge on.  That could mean there will be very little in terms of content written for quite some time, and I don’t like that at all…but I’d rather write a small amount of amazing material then a decent volume of mediocre nonsense.

2. There is just a lot of nonsense happening all the time, and it makes it hard to know where to start: There is a bit that Lewis Black does where he talked about how it’s tough doing comedy when there is so much going on.  While I wouldn’t call my work here comedy, I will say that I feel like it’s tough talking about the affairs of the day in any sort of informed, timely matter when there is so much going on.

When Heathens United Against Racism fractured and broke apart, it was a lot to think about.  When the Black Lives Matter groups started getting criticism from a lot of pockets in Heathenry, there was even more going on.  All the while, there was the legal case involving Mark Stinson and that was also a lot to consider*.  When that case finally resolved, there was even more to consider.  All the while, the heads of the AFA and the Troth have hardly been silent, and many of there statements could have crafted entire volumes of commentaries, reflections, and musings.  How about that Icelandic temple that had to close its doors to the public because there were some American Heathens who just were unwilling to let Icelandic Heathen be able to practice their own faith without showing them how to do it “right”?  That was a can of worms too…

…and there is just so much going on that keeping track of it all feels almost impossible.  There is just so much to say, and not nearly enough hours in the day to say it all.  Combined with my time crunch, it’s made it hard to even know where to begin.  This is also to the side of all of the stuff I just want to write because it comes to mind and I think it would make an interesting point of discussion.

3. I am on Tumblr, and you might want to follow me there: If you actually like some of what I have to say?  You may want to follow me on Tumblr.  I have the ask feature enabled, so anyone with some random questions for me can feel free to send them my way.  The content I post/repost on there is a lot more of the “whatever is on my mind” and “this is neat/funny” varieties, so know that the topics are less “Heathen” and more “Harrison, who also happens to be Heathen”.

Interested parties should just check for me over at Tumblr.  While I am committed to keeping my material full of quality and research here, Tumblr is more or less for my opinions, so you’ll probably see a little more from me there.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish some articles soon and have something for you all to read before long.  In the mean time, just know that I’m still around….life is just busy!
*Some may feel it cheap to talk about Stinson’s issues as if they were matters of public concern; I disagree with this suggestion.  Stinson took time out of his life to write/compile his views on Heathen ethics, put them together in a well edited and proofed PDF, and then placed them on a digital platform (JBK’s website) where they could be easily and rapidly distributed.  So when he makes an ethical blunder that directly relates to some of the very few Heathen values that almost everyone agrees upon?  The community as a whole gets to comment just as much on Stinson as Stinson was able to comment on the community.

Heathen Ethics, Part 9: Accountability

Talking about how things went down at HUAR, as well as how things are going forward with HfSJ, made me reflective about something that’s a cornerstone of Heathen ethics, but rarely gets brought up as such.   You see, there are many important keystones in Heathen ethics, and many of us have a great degree of familiarity with a vast assortment of them; we know about how upholding your word is important, how one needs to have a strong understanding of honor, “we are our deeds”, and so forth.

Critical to these, however, is accountability; the ability to be responsible to and for the consequences of your actions.

That it’s rarely talked about in Heathen circles is rather bizarre, because it ends up being the philosophical cement that holds many of our other ethical bricks together.  It’s within the sentiment behind the “Cattle Die, Kinsmen Die” stanza, because how well can our triumphs be remember after our death if we couldn’t also take responsibility for our mistakes in life?  It drips from the “Lay of Loddfafnir”*, for every piece of advice that directly speaks to consequence is indirectly speaking about accountability as well.  It can be found in the margins of the Nine Noble Virtues (both versions), the Nine Charges, the Six Fold Goal, and in the Ten Guiding Tempers that I wrote myself.

Of course, one way to not need to have to account for yourself is to not be a jackass in the first place.

Of course, one way to not need to have to account for yourself is to not be a jackass in the first place.

Did I intend it to be there?  Honestly, no…but that’s sort of a demonstration of how fundamental it is; an ethical perspective which does not, by accident or design, consider accounting for one’s self simply cannot function.  At such a point, it can no longer even be considered ethics; it’s just long-winded braggadocio with a pretension towards moralizing.

Now, accountability is one of those things that’s pretty easy to explain, but understanding it isn’t the problem or how it’s determined; it’s having the strength of character to act upon it that’s key.  In many ways it is the shadow that is cast by the light of honor, and it is just as ineffable as it’s counterpart.  Perhaps more so: while it can be hard to figure out the right action is in a given situation, figuring out how to repair things after you’ve already messed up can feel absolutely impossible.

Surprisingly, accountability can be hard for us, as Heathens, to deal with.  While we have strong, ethical obligations in matters regarding honor and frith, we also regard the recognition of an individual and their accomplishments as a healthy thing.  Additionally, many of us have an excessive amount of Christian baggage, which can lead to some very dour ideas about how shame interacts with consequence.  All of this is to the side of simple lapses in judgement, and incorrect assumptions about who or what is to blame.

Regardless of what gets in the way, however, there are times where the onus will be on us to make amends for the actions we have taken.  It’s about as certain as death and taxes.

Accountability is, by it’s nature, a personal thing, and how each person goes about it needs to be something they determine for themselves.  The only thing that I will say I feel is ironclad, from a Heathen perspective, is that accountability cannot be practiced exclusively towards other Heathens.  If one gives only Heathens the respect afforded by accountability, then we are not truly accounting for ourselves; we are accounting for the perceptions of others and making sure our little club stays well attended to.  It becomes a situation devoid of meaningful morality, turning instead into a game of perception and public relations.

That’s not laying the foundation for good ethics, and it’s certain not honorable.

Again, this is a personal thing; it is up to each individual person, Heathen or otherwise, to decide how they account for themselves in social situations.**

*Stanzas 111 to 137 of the Havamal.
**I’m intending to revisit this topic again later; for the moment, I’m putting this out there in the hope of encouraging discussion.

Heathens for Social Justice

HfSJAs some of you may or may not know, I used to be an administrator over at Heathens United Against Racism.  I am no longer there, because the powers that remain there have decided to stop practicing what they preach.

On the fan page, they’re terming it a “internal restructuring“.  This is an understatement akin to calling a raging inferno a “sudden reaction to molecular agitation”.

You all know me; I’m not prone to name calling, but I don’t shy away from demanding accountability either.  On that note, the people who are currently running HUAR are people who are refusing any sort of meaningful accountability or transparency when it comes to their actions.  Not to the bylaws they helped write and voted in.  Not to the communities that they claimed to care about.  Not to the religion that claim to practice.  Nothing.

What you, the reader, do with my opinion regarding HUAR is completely up to you.  For those curious?  It is my strong and firm suggestion that anyone who believes in social justice in any meaningful way, shape, or form shoukd have nothing to do with HUAR whatsoever.  They’re not interested in fighting the good fight; they just interested in talking about how racists are bad, without actually having to involve themselves in any meaningful way.

HUAR has gone from being a force trying to make positive, social change within the broader Heathen community as well as the world at large…to a social club for people who wish to voice toothless complaints about bigotry.

The truth is they aren’t what they say they are.  Not anymore, at least.  I was the only cisgendered, heterosexual, white male removed from my position.  Of the nine people kicked out, eight of them were either apart of the GLBTQ+ community, ethnically non-white, or both.  Make of that what you will…but I will tell you that I find it incredibly telling of HUAR’s current motivations and priorities.

If that sounds like something you want to deal with?  More power to you.  However, it’s important that everyone gets a fully informed perspective about the organizations they’re looking to align themselves with…and you’re not going to get an honest discussion about HUAR from the people who currently run it*.

The administrators kicked to the curb over this ordeal have started new projects, to pick up and continue to carry the torch that HUAR once held.  Loosing HUAR hasn’t destroyed us; it is out belief that the lack of us has destroyed HUAR.  In either case, look us up under “Heathens for Social Justice” and “The Yggdrasil Assembly“.

In either case, that’s it for HUAR.  Feel free to ask any (constructive) questions below that you may have regarding the matter; I’ll answer anything asked to the best of my ability.

*But don’t take my word for it!  If you want to know why HUAR does not deserve your trust, look to documentation that showcases the words of the current administration for yourself!

Semi-Public Conversations: The Bar Exam

I find myself at a familiar bar.  If the bar has a name, I don’t particularly need to know it.  The address and part of town the bar is in are, similarly, inconsequential.  All I know is I’m not drinking anything with a kick; I don’t avoid alcohol all together, but it doesn’t always agree with me…so I usually don’t drink unless it is a special occasion.

Wait, is this a special occasion?  I doubt it somehow.

Well, anything is a special occasion if you want it to be.” he says, reading my mind as he hops up onto the stool beside me.  “Haven’t seen you here for a while.

“I would think you haven’t seen me much of anywhere at all.” I reply, somewhat gloomily, into my coffee.  Coffee, as a term, could be used loosely in this instance; the liquid in my cup was probably more milk than coffee.

Feh,” he says dismissively, with a gesture to match, “You don’t need to see me for me to see you.  That’s not particularly complicated and you know better…so why submit to guilt that you don’t need?

“Does anyone need guilt?”

He shrugs, “I’m not sure Catholics would be able to operate without it.”  A grin crosses his face as the words escape his lips.  He look at me as he takes a sip from a wine glass filled with an amber color liquid.

“With or without the ‘U’?” I ask with a smirk that I don’t quite feel, but I can’t quite stop.

Both!” he says, and the chuckle bleeds into his words a bit.

“So you’re trying to tell me that my lack of spirituality isn’t a problem?”

When did I say that?  Of course it’s a problem!” he retorts, his tone now a bit more acidic, “Shame and guilt aren’t going to get a lick of anything done however.  Pondering is all well and good, but an excess is just putting a boat on dry land and wondering why you aren’t getting anywhere.” A hand that edges between gentle and firm slaps the back of my head.  “You know that…but you aren’t acting on it.  That is a problem.

I pause.  “So you aren’t offended?”

A bit, just not by any ‘attendance’ issues.”  he says, in a tone that suggests irritation, but doesn’t quite commit.

“Okay, than by what?”

He turns on his stool after setting the cup down.  The look is firm, though not unkind.  “You’re back tracking.  You’re writing less.  Your praying less.  You center is, ironically, anywhere but you actual center.  You can do better than this…and you’re not.  Ennui isn’t the problem…it’s when you roll over to it and accept it.  That is…that’s offensive.  That’s distasteful.” he faces forward.  “Pray or do not pray…your heart and soul cast that nature of your devotion even when your thoughts do not.  It bothers you far more when you fail; when you do nothing about that is when it begins to bother me.

“Seems like an easy system to abuse.” I quip.  He gives me a look.

Try it.” he replies, in an extremely even tone.

I clear my throat a bit.  “I’m not intending to…I just.” I pause, collecting my words.  He sips at the mead absently.  The sentiment is hard to even put to thought, much less to language.

This…is still new territory to you.  I get that.  You’re learning how to sort your thoughts, your heart, and your soul in entirely new directions.  Your entire being, for that matter.  The discoveries aren’t exclusively spiritual; they’re coming from every corner of your identity.” he swirls the drink in its glass absently as he speaks. “There is nothing wrong with that.  Any of that.  There isn’t even anything truly wrong with being unable to understand it all of the time…especially at this point.  However…what is wrong is being satisfied with how unsatisfied you feel.

I nod, absently.  I sip my coffee, and then look at the ceiling.  “It’s just hard balancing out everything…coming to a proper understanding of things…”

He shrugs.  “Let me help with that.” he says, casually, “What are the issues?

“Well, where does working for a better more inclusive Heathenry stop being spiritual and start being selfish?”

He looks at me.  “When you start doing it for yourself and your own reputation you idiot.

I pause.  “That was a dumb question.”, I concede.

It won’t make my top ten, but it’s closer than you’d probably be happy with” he says with a thin smile.

“Okay…what happens if I write too much about subjects of social justice?”

He sighs.  “Why on Earth are you pretending you’d give a shit about any of their stupid opinions…anyone who would actually be bothered by that isn’t someone you’re apt to care about.”

I pause again.  “Top ten?”

His expression is blank, but his eyes are dancing at some private joke. “Stop taking yourself so damn seriously…it’s preventing you from doing anything worth being serious about.

I nod to myself.  It’s the best advice I’ve gotten in quite a while, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at that.

He finishes the glass and stands up to leave. “I’ve got work to do…and so do you.” he says simply.

I pause.  “Then…where are you going?” I ask.

He turns around to look back at me.  My smile is still rough around the edges, but it’s not so forced as it was before.  He grins. “See…now was that so difficult to grasp?”

Why I Am Not an Heathen (Though I Kind of Wish That I Could Be)

Harrison K. Hall:

Truth be told, I feel quite the same way about the Heathen spectrum of faiths as the author does…and I have for some time. Interested to see where Part 2 goes.

Originally posted on Pagan Church Lady:

This (long) post has been a long time coming.  I’ve referenced my feelings about personal background and development in some other articles and have been spending a lot of time trying to explore myself in relation to the modern Pagan movement and Heathenry.  Although the title was inspired by Bertrand Russel’s piece “Why I am Not A Christian” I won’t, as he does, seek to deconstruct the idea of a particular deity.  I will, as he does, explain why the values expressed in the religion in question do not fit mine, and why that leaves me in a difficult place.

Let me begin by explaining that I’ve had a love for the Aesir and Vanir since childhood.  I first read of them in children’s fiction when I was four or five and rapidly advanced to reading more adult storybooks about them.  Later on I discovered source material like the Eddas…

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I have a face, and has an article.

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one is the bigger mess.

Self deprecating humor aside, a Vlog has been something I’ve want to do for quite some time.  I didn’t have some of the right equipment and software however, and my real life has been busy as all get out….so it hadn’t been a high priority for quite some time.

Then published an article so hideously poor in quality, that all denominations seem to be in agreement of how absolutely unprofessional the piece is.  The author, Rick Paulus*, has apparently made some really douchey tweets in response to the suggestion that maybe he should have a vague clue about a topic before writing an article about it**.

In short, the whole thing is just a wreck.

The problem is that some of this stuff has happened so fast and so quickly, it may be hard to decipher what’s going on.  So, here is a 15 minute overview that should cover the basics.  I don’t know how often I’ll use this, but it’s certainly possible that it’ll be easier to find time to record video and crop off the garbage then it is for me to sit down and write when my work schedule is what it is.

*He has a twitter…but I don’t want to give him the traffic.  You can Google him if you really want, but you’re not missing much.
**Mr. Paulus is apparently not a regular contributor to and is a freelance writer.  Let me say that this makes it difficult to criticize him to a degree…because I’ve done freelance writing and it’s a freaking miserable job.  It sucks, and I’m usually VERY apt to take the author’s side in any sort of matter, because it’s a rough and thankless sort of gig.  So imagine how bad the quality has to be to say that I find it appalling both as a writer and as a Heathen….then realize it’s even worse than that.