Our Ancestor’s Reflection

It was my intention to write a post about my concerns with frith in modern Heathenry.  That is still my intention, but I found something I need to share first.  I came across a single paragraph in Gronbech’s “The Culture of the Teutons” that framed every concern I currently have, and did it with such succinct, yet poetic, language that I felt that the best thing I could do was just share it and say a few words.  I’ll talk about how we fix it later.  For now, let us speak on why we need to fix it.

We find here a community based upon general unity, mutual self-sacrifice and self-denial, and the social spirit. A society, in which every individual, from birth to death, was bound by consideration for his neighbour. The individuals in this community show in all their doings that they are inspired by one passion: the welfare and honour of their kin; and none of the temptations of the world can move them even for a moment to glance aside. They say themselves, that this passion is love. What more natural then, than that we, who from our own lives know love and its power, should begin with what we have in common with these people we are considering? Given this agreement on the essential point, all that appears strange must surely become simple and comprehensible.

-Vilhelm Gronbech, The Culture of the Teutons


I hear a lot of the same points over and over again.  Frith was the touchstone of our ancestor’s culture.  We need to build frith and community, for those are of the highest importance to our folkway and our ancestors.  That our ancestors had holidays just for the laying down of arms, no matter the cause, because of how important frith was to the.  More then a being of war, we tell ourselves, the Heathen of ancient times was purported to be a man or woman whose family and community were central to their being; they keystone of our faith.

I have looked at the importance we put on such things in actuality…and we should be shamed of ourselves.


Regarding Loki, Part 2 – Reconstructionism and Chaos

600387_632189110140108_1271502924_nWelcome to part 2 of many!

Originally, I had a disclaimer about how my criticism and commentary are meant when directed at the works of others.  I also explained how I intend to deal with any nonconstructive mud slinging that may end up pointed towards my stuff.  This post is a long enough, however, so I split off those things to a post of their own.

In either case, on with the show.

If we use a reconstructionist approach to rebuilding Asatru/Heathenry, we find that Loki is a minor god at best.  He had no cult of his own, and the tales that established his role amongst the Aesir are infrequent enough to be ignored.

There is the temptation to ask “If Loki’s role should be so small, then why do you have such a big opinion about him?”, but that would be juvenile of me.  Further, there are some much bigger and more interesting questions to ask.

When I left off, I pointed out the difficulties of deciding what is and is not proper Heathenry.  We can easily determine if something is native to Heathen practices.  It’s a pass or fail test, and it takes little more then a second’s consideration.  What can be very difficult, however, is establishing the proper place or role something may have.  To help with this process of identifying the different parts of our faith, some turn to the tools afforded to us by recorded history.  Such people use the sagas, lore, etymology, and first hand accounts to identify what our faith is and is not.  I have no problem with the practice in moderation, but I consider reconstructionist methods to be a dangerous crutch when they are the only methods used.

For one thing, a book is not wisdom.  A holy text is not god.  A love letter is not passion.  Certainly, reading such works may lead a person to those wonderful places.  Books have catalyzed wisdom greater then the contents of their ink.  The writings of prophets have brought people to a state of enlightenment that language cannot properly describe.  Words wrought with emotion have incited passions beyond description in those that have read them.  For an excellent example of all three we need only consider the poet, Rumi.

It is not solely the context of those writing that gave Rumi his wisdom, however.  Nor was it what Rumi considered god to be that gave him his piety.  The words he chose did not single handedly bring the reader to understand his love of the divine.  It was all of these things, combined with his own personal being that gave these matters a vibrant life all their own.  It was his gnosis, his spirituality, his dimensions as a person, and the essence of his own culture that gave his words such brilliance.

Imagine that we examined Rumi’s native culture, politics, and the attendant mythology of his day; would we be able to get to those same stunning vistas he reached?  Is a connection to the divine like a computer program, where all we would need to do is plug in the same variables to acquire the same result?

I do not think so.  I feel that in order for the reconstruction of a religion to have any meaning, we must touch it ourselves.  Place our hands into the wet cement from which the foundation is formed, and leave a permanent impression for all the world to see.  It needs to be infused with our collective spirit as it exists in this very moment ; our own zeitgeist.

Some may question why their exists a need to change our religion at all, as it did not need to change in the times of our ancestors.  If someone would make such a statement, I would say that they need to reconsider a few things; our religion has never been stagnant.  Odin was not always the highest of all the gods; we have proof that Tyr held that position before he did.  We know that Frey, Freya, and Njord were once enemies of Asgard…just as we know that is no longer the case.  Our religion has already experienced major changes, so pointing out that there was no cult to Loki over a thousand years ago hardly seem to have any weight to me.  Things have changed before, just as they will change again.

Let us not forget how much our world itself has changed either; in the days of our ancestors, a snow storm could portend years of hardship at best, dozens of deaths at worst.  In times such as ours, it means we might have a few days where we can’t order delivery pizza.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, and worse still exist of course.  Our architecture and science, however, protect us  from and warn us of their dangers in ways that were not previously possible.

These are the dangerous forces the Jotuns are said to represent, but they aren’t the same danger to us that they were to our ancestors.  I am not implying that they have been conquered; I am simply pointing out that they are not the great reapers of mankind that they once were.  To be honest, I feel that humanity has become a far greater danger to the well-belling of humans that any army of giants could hope to be.

Wal-Mart.  Masanto.  Governments.  Resteraunts.  Poverty.  Gun laws.  Political Action Committees.  World Hunger.  Drinkable Water.  Religious Zealotry.  All of these are things I hear my fellow Heathens talk about in voices filled with concern.  All of these things cause humanity endless problems.  Which Jotun, I ask you, represents these forces?  These forces which, more often then not, inflict greater casualties then earthquakes and tornadoes.

If you still doubt my point, allow me to ask you a question; if a Masanto farm or a Wal-Mart warehouse were suddenly destroyed via an act of nature, would you be gnashing your teeth at the forces of Jotunheim weaving destruction upon the hard won works of men and women?  I think not.

I’m not proclaiming natural disasters to be some great, religious equalizer; it was wrong when Pat Robertson did it and it would be wrong for me to do the same now.  Nor am I not saying that all the Jotuns in the lore are misunderstood; quite a number of them are not.  However, to call them the unequaled bane of civilized life in this day and age makes no sense.

That bane has long been us.

Is it, therefore, wrong to suggest that just maybe the Jotuns have a place in our world?  A place that may have been there all along, or that has only come into being now that the equilibrium between nature and civilization has shifted beyond recognition.   This question becomes especially poignant when we bring up Ragnarok; we still are not certain whether it was a creation of transcribing monks or if it truly predated the rise of Catholicism.

I do not question the validity of examining our spiritual past; it has many answers for us.  There are also solutions in the present, however, and I feel it would be a mistake to forget that.

Loki is a god of Chaos. His actions only yield positive results when he needs forgiveness for his wanton destruction.  Our ancestors were not ones to favor such chancy and uncertain gains, so his worship would make no sense.

I really dislike calling Loki a God of Chaos; it shows a lack of understanding for what chaos actually is.

Humor me for a moment, and look at the definition of chaos.  Now, does that definition sound like it matches Loki’s actions?  Do His actions portray a “total lack of organization”?  Of course they don’t; they are meticulous and crafted, and made with an end result in mind.  Are they “confused” and “disorderly”?  No; each choice is made with awareness of the situation at hand, and is mindful of the goal Loki wishes to achieve.

Could those actions cause chaos in the observer?  Of course…but there is a long space between a God of Chaos and a God whose action sometimes create chaos in the minds of others.  If you think that sounds like a weak distinction, then I must ask you if you consider Odin the God of having issues with depth perception or Freya the Goddess of farting in the middle of sex.  Of course not; to do so would be to purposefully misunderstand those deities and their role in the lore.

Then there is the problem with his positive actions being consider nothing more then apologies and bribes; this is hardly accurate.  It is true that such is often the case, but Loki’s actions are also just as often for the good of all without such a debt being established.  The walls of Asgard and Slepnir are two good examples.  Loki’s appeasement of Skadi via his own public shaming is another.  Loki also journeyed with Thor to Utgard-Loki’s hall, and stood with him before a host of frost giants.

So we can see that Loki is not Chaos incarnate as he is so often thought of.  Further, his benevolence isn’t always repayment for his treachery as some would claim.  Yet, there is another question we must ask if we want to get to the bottom of Loki’s actions; how does he compare to his peers?  If Loki is so vile, shouldn’t the rest of the gods be perfectly respectable?  Wouldn’t they need to be above reproach by the standards and morals of modern Heathenry?  Next time, we’ll look at that loaded question in detail, and we’ll also look at why the damnation of the Rokkatru may not be as one sided as some would like to believe.

Two Major Points

I’m currently in the editing stage of a post that got a little too long, so I decided to lop off the preface at the top in order to make it more manageable.  What follows are two, very simple and very firm stances.

Firstly: When I am talking about views expressed by others and I’m giving my response to them, I’m not trying to bash or castigate those that have said whatever I am responding to.  If you read my first post on Loki, you may see that some of my statements addressed specific points brought up by Jesse Radcliff, head of Berk County Asatru and Heathenry (BCAH) as well as Chieftain of Der Heidevolkstamm Kindred.  This may have been interpreted by some as an attack, since that’s the way of things on the internet more often then not.   In short; no, it was not any form of attack.

I know Jesse personally, and have for many years.  I don’t agree with some of his opinions, but that does not mean I must stand against the man who holds them.  He and his wife were the first Heathens I found myself comfortable enough to speak to when I began to investigate Asatru.  That was about five years ago, and they did a damned good job steering me in the correct direction.  I have been to their home, enjoyed their hospitality on many occasions, and have considered them friends for sometime.  They have been there multiple times for me, and have also celebrated the milestones in my life.  While Jesse and I have differences, this is not going to prevent me from respecting him or treating him with the courtesy and firth he deserves.  I have faith that he would express a similar opinion.

If I respond to a statement  someone has made?  I’m addressing the statement unless I specify otherwise.  Attacking the person would be ad hominem which, besides being tacky, just dilutes my own argument.

Secondly: I’m talking about religion on the internet, so maybe I should just establish a “troll policy” now, and beat the rush.

If you insult me or use a logical fallacy in your statement, I will point it out and tell you to make revise your statement.  If and when you do, I will respond with diplomacy and respect.  I will, for the most part, refuse to address arguments wrought will fallacies or insults because it’s a waste of time and gets us nowhere.  If you both insult me and use a logical fallacy in your argument, I’m going to ignore it completely or delete it as the situation calls for.

In all situations, I will strive to respect all who chose to speak to me.  I’m not going to drain myself, trying to sink to the levels of fool.  There are easier ways to raise my blood pressure, and most of them taste like either bacon or coffee. 🙂

How did that happen?

Yesterday, at about 8:00pm Eastern Standard Time, I posted some of my thoughts concerning the worship of Loki in modern Asatru and Heathenry.  I meticulously edited it, as I wanted the material to be strong.  I was very proud of the end result, but I didn’t expected anything to come of it.  I figured it would end up being read by a person or two, and that would be the end of it.

Then…something happened…

What is this, I don't even...

What is this, I don’t even…

I’m…a bit speechless right now.

It has to be said that I initially created this blog for the purpose of having a soap box to shout on top of.  I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time, but acting on that desire is still a fairly new activity.  On one of my first tires?  I got over three dozen people looking at my work….and I posted it in two places.

I’ll have part two soon.  I’d be writing it now, but I desperately need to sleep.

Regarding Loki, Part 1

LokiI feel moved to make my own commentary on this supposed issue of Loki worship, mostly because I seem to have been cause in the middle of an argument or two.   I’ve seen people in favor of the god, people not in favor of him and able to be tactful about it, and then a few others who behaved like children desperate for a school yard outcast to gang up on.  I’m not linking the last group, because they aren’t worth the time.  Needless to say, everyone has something to say about the issue.

In all the discussions that I have witnessed, however,  I haven’t seen some of the counter arguments that I feel most effectively answer the issues being presented.  Perhaps they aren’t as obvious as I presume, so I’ve decided it’s time to speak my mind.   I presume no authority over much of anything, and I’m not going to make a big mess on credentials.  If you agree, great.  If you disagree, keep it civil and constructive…or be prepared to be ignored so hard, your future children will get picked last in gym.

Lastly, I am not condemning anyone who chooses to abstain from recognition of Loki; I simply don’t understand the muck and the mire one has to go through to acknowledge him in any sort of positive way.  I’m not a Lokean;  I make no claims of being one.  This rebuttal was constructed out of the need to expressed some points that I feel have been looked over, as well as out of respect for the flame-tongued god of the Aesir.  I have had more the one prayer answered by him, even though I never directly asked him, and I am thankful beyond measure.  The reciprocity of gifts is one of the most important traditions we have, right?

Loki is the great betrayer of the Aesir, and showing devotion towards him is acting with contempt for the Gods as a whole.  His actions can only be viewed as dishonest and dishonorable, and anyone who venerates him or his acts champions vices as virtues.

This one seems to be considered the silver bullet in the gun of arguments against Loki, so let’s just tackle it right away.  I’m going to pass on the standard counter, about Loki being falsely made out to be Viking Satan by Christian monks.  I think it’s a valid opinion, but that is well trod ground and I don’t think I can add anything to.  Further, it’s also open to debate…and I feel there is a larger, more obvious counter question that is raised here.

If you align yourself with the statement in bold, and you also wear a depiction of Mjolnir, you’re being hypocritical.  I can say the same for artistic depictions of Sleipnir, Sif’s hair, Gungnir, Frey on either a boar or a ship, or Asgard itself.   All of these things were made or improved by Loki’s actions.  Slepnir and the walls of Asgard were an outright sacrifice on his part.  Further, they were not won due to Loki repaying the gods for his folly; they were won when Loki was given the task to trick the enemies of Asgard.  To cast out Loki in his entirety is to also cast out many of the symbols of our faith, and to disregard the pieces that are inconvenient is intellectually dishonest.

To put it another way: If you get mad when Christians quote Leviticus and condemn homosexuality without recognizing the rest of the book?  Keeping Mjolnir while denouncing Loki is, broadly speaking, a similar action.

This argument does not merely extend to the trinkets that Loki acquires, but also to the social dynamics displayed by the other gods.  Their actions in the lore portray that whatever Loki may do, they have accepted him amongst their ranks.  Snorri Sturluson famously listed him as being “numbered amongst the Aesir”.  We also have the Voluspa,  which details all of Loki’s deeds before he has actually done them.  If Odin had heard of Loki’s treachery via prophecy, then it would follow that he had every reason to banish him from the halls of the Aesir.  Yet, he does not.

Everyone has so many reasons to cite their prohibition of Loki from their feasts, blots, and fainings.  I’m curious if these people have weighed their reasons against the choices and oaths of the Allfather.  The choice to include him amongst his own, as his sworn brother.  If they have, I’m curious if such a person would also discard all of the depictions of Loki’s handiwork, in order to back their rhetoric with action.

Loki’s followers are prone to bringing chaos into Heathen circles.  Just the amount of discord caused by  the debate over his worship is proof of how dangerous the practice is.

I’ve not seen enough of Heathenry to call myself an expert on common social dynamics.  From what I’ve seen, however, we certainly don’t need any help from Loki or his most devout followers to create contention or disagreements.

I would like you, the reader, to think back to any petty arguments you yourself may have seen.  Was everything proceeding with glorious firth, until some vile, Loki venerating villain swung down from the rafters?  Did just the presence of a this ne’er-do-well create such strife that an otherwise pleasant discussion turned was ruined by the singularity of chaos?  Did the milk in your fridge curdle and go sour as well?

I would suspect it did not go like that.  More often then not, Heathen arguments and dissension start with the same ingredients list most interpersonal conflicts are made up of; regular people with passionate opinions, a little too much arrogance or pride, and a split second where sympathetic wisdom is discarded in favor for acidic wit.

What I have seen and experienced is that those who are Loki sworn are seriously black sheep…but they are also talented, intelligent and clever friends….and are no more apt to start unwarranted fights then anyone else.

As a final point, Lokean Asatruar/Heathens cannot and should not be blamed for the discord caused by the discussion…or at least, no more then any other party in the discussion.  To blame them exclusively is to  invite an opportunity to be blamed for the same thing; after all, would there be an argument if someone wasn’t pushing against them?  What follows is finger pointing, blame games, and a complete disintigration of frith.

Anyone who shows veneration to Loki/Jotuns/Rokkr does not understand what Heathenry is about.

I’d like you, the reader, to consider a hypothetical situation.

Imagine that you or I went to a large, Heathen event.  East Coast Thing, perhaps.  You or I could randomly approach any number of people.  These people, selected entirely at random, could be asked what they think Heathery is about.  If you or I were to record their answers, what would the end result be?

For my part, I don’t think we’d see a consistent vision over what Heathenry and Asatru is or is not.  We are not a revealed religion.  We are not an organized religion.  We have no Bible, Koran, or Torah.  There is no supreme authority over our faith..  We came from no single region.  There is no Asapope, and I think we are the stronger for it.  Many of our traditions were passed as family traditions, with no more or less fanfare then an heirloom.

We can’t even agree on what the name of our religion is.

I recognize there are somethings that are and are not Heathen.  The Hawaiian islands, for example, don’t have much in common with the religious practices that meandered throughout present day Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the British Isles, France, and Germany.  Loki, Jotuns, and the Rokkr have a much greater connection and they clearly have a place within the faith somewhere.

How do we determine that place?  When I pick up next time, we’re going to take a look at the big R-word, and see what it could mean.

Marr13d L1f3

So this was the game plan…

The lady-pet, SH, and I were moving on April 7th.  We were moving into an apartment attached to my parent’s place, both to get away from a slum lord and to get closer to stable family.  Here lady-pet would finish college and start her career, SH would be in an area where I knew more parents, and I would be in a more financially stable situation…which would make it easier to find my voice as a writer.  It was a pretty solid, sensible plan which is probably why it went up in smoke.

Don’t get me wrong; the plan that replaced it is pretty awesome.  I like this new place.  Still, it requires some adjustment.

April 8th was going to be when I made a strong push to get my writing started.  Articles about current events in pop culture.  Short stories.  Observational humor.  Whatever.  I just wanted to be in a new home with a new perspective to really understand what was going on.  To have less mundane worries so I could focus on things without excess stress or angst.

Maybe it’s for the best that this plan is gone though, because when it comes to writing?  It seems the longer I have to hem and haw over the first couple of stages, the less likely I am to make it to the final project.  While I really appreciate the early, constructive criticism of a close friend?  It was also maddening, because it would have been really to just give up and storm off.  Gods know I’m no stranger to that resolution method.

I also hate that resolution method…so I’ve opted to make lemonade out of lemon.

I’ve started the whole Ge3kl1f3 thing early, and I’m hoping for the best with that.  I’m going to actually start publishing that more freely, as I need all the damn traffic I can get.  I’m also motivating myself to get in the habit of posting more frequently, even if I’m not exactly happy with the content of the post.  No guts, no papyrus…

Exothermic Infernality or Localized Tsunami; Bring One

I’ve tried to post this about three times.  I End up trying to write it over and over again, and I end up starting from scratch due to satisfaction.  I end up stopping because I analyze it to damn much, and pick everything apart.

So I’m just going to come out with, and all of these explanations I feel I need to make for some reason will come out in due time.

That's Mr. Tolkein if ya nasty.

That’s Mr. Tolkein if ya nasty.

I’m going to be a writer.  There is no try here; this will happen.  Now, paid writer is preferable of course…but it’s not I can force anyone to pay me for writing.  That’s not writing; that’s mugging people and then providing a brochure.

I don’t know what shape this will take.  I don’t know the method.  I don’t really care.

Time to get all John Ronald Reoulish up in this piece.