The Depths: The Ocean Within

I was sitting in front of my computer at the time.  I still am; it happened a few minutes ago.

I felt horrid, and while the catalysts for this whole malaise are important, they need not be mentioned; they’re a useless detail in the retelling.  All that needs to be said is that I felt a great heaviness in my heart, I was somewhat immersed in self pity, and I’m not sure if I could see the forest for the trees.  Bipolarity isn’t a monster that stalks me so closely anymore, but we still have a Calvin and Hobbes style relationship.  When I’m up, I have all the energy I need to do everything; the days are, truly, packed.  When I’m down, it feels like I have been randomly assaulted by a tiger that I made up in my own head.

I opened “Wordpad”, as I thought that writing some poetry might channel some measure of the pain I felt.  I was hoping that maybe I could find some way to center myself and refocus.  I closed my eyes as I concentrated, and it was as if I could see the thousands of half formed words and phrases dancing in front of my mind’s eye.  All of them out of reach, but still tangible.  Still apart of me.  An ocean of ideas and concepts, cast upon some intangible night sky.  So much that I could see, but not use; I found it frustrating to be unable to make anything of it, but also somewhat comforting to know that it was all there.

Somewhere,  in the back of my head, a tiny little voice said, “There has always been power here; you just need to learn how to use it.”  I don’t know if it was a spiritual entity, or some scrap of my own ego…but it was a powerful realization.

I opened my eyes.  I looked at the field of white, contained within the underpowered word processing program that lay before me.  I was dumbfounded.  After a few moment more, I smirked.  Turned out all the poetry that I needed, never needed to be written.


Etheral Edition: A Devotional to Tyr

My disappointment with current events isn’t exactly a new thing.  Truth be told, it’s a large portion of the reason I’m currently writing….and I’m not sure I like that.  I mean, I am glad to be building something approaching a following over here, but I don’t want to be so gloomy all the time.  I may be passionate about things I see that go wrong, but I also have a love and passion for my faith.  I respect my gods as more then something to complain and gripe about; their is joy here also.

So, I have composed a brief devotional.  While it was written with concerns for the tension I see going on, it’s also a prayer which stands on its own as well.  It was also an attempt craft a small work of skaldic art; their is no real attempt at meter, though I took an attempt at polishing my use of kennings and alliterations.  This way, I can create something artistic to help light the way throgh all the tension.  I hope all enjoy it in some way or another.

I would hail Hymir’s son and Asgard’s Honor
Pledge Pronouncer  and Breaker of Oath Breakers
Friend of the Fame Wolf and Wearer of Wound Fame
The One Handed precursor to the One Eyed Allfather
Hail Tyr, Justice Wielder

Master of both gavel and grit,
May it be that those who cross your causes be given no quarter,
May it be that those who seek to right their wyrd ask for none,

Lord of victory and vim,
May it be that that those who come to you rightly,
Gain the chance to mollify their mortal mistakes,
May it be that those who cast your virtues into the giant’s dark echo,
Lose all chances to be seen as anything but frithless and twisted.

I ask only that should I stumble upon the virtues you uphold,
That I be given the chance to right my misdeeds with honest honor,
And repay the debts that I may have self assigned without the debtors consent

Honor to Hymir’s son
Honor to he who is followed by the Fen Dweller
Honor to the strained stoic.

Honor to Tyr

Regarding Loki, Part 3 – Flyte of the Concord

In Part 2, I strongly implied that I was going to be comparing Loki against the other gods of the Norse pantheon.  It was my intent to reveal the hypocrisy in certain sects within Heathenry by simply demonstrating how we could use a similar bias and cast any of our gods in a negative light.  It was intended to be a flyting of conservative delusions; a field guide to the pretensions and hubris of those who use poor research to justify what they already wish to believe.

My intentions were good, but I recently realized that I was being an asshole.

To castigate the divine as a means to prove mundane stupidity is, no matter the intention, stupidity itself.  It was a self-serving, self-righteous, and selfish act…and when that realization hit home?  It proved the mother of an even more upsetting epiphany.

I was setting myself up to act exactly like the people I was trying to fight.  All the faux scholars?  All of the wannabe Klingon/Samurai Thorsman?  All of the “intellectuals” who don’t know how to read old Norse, but insist that everyone else needs to in order to make commentary on anything of import?  All of the overly folkish sorts who don’t want any voice in the crowd except the ones that agree with their own opinions?  In my attempt to counter that dross, I was about to take a plunge into the very same stagnation.  I would have hurt the very religious tolerance and equilibrium I was trying to defend and maintain, and my article would have ended up as the same sort of pretentious tripe that I am so staunchly against.

How do any of you manage these opinions?  These attacks?  This hate?  I just existed on the outskirts of it for a moment, and I found it exhausting; I have no idea where you people find the energy.

So let us shift our course, and allow me to be plain here; when you violently deny Loki?  You slander both him and those who worship him without thought. Not only that, you insult Thor (his frequent companion in adventures), Odin (oath-brother and also a companion in various adventures), Slepnir (Odin’s horse), Mjolnir and Gungnir(the greatest weapons of the gods, who he was the patron of),  Freya (he saved her from being married to a Giant), the moon and sun (whom he saved from being the possession of giants), and Skathi (who was pacified by Loki; her father’s murderer).  Even worse, I see that many pronounce these statements with a purposeful exclusions of lore and history as it suits the speaker.

So that is our gods, our folk, and our lore; all battered and badgered with a single stroke.  Is this really what you want?  Is this the truth that you seek?  The religion that your viewpoint creates, in isolation, is one where speculative spirituality must be reigned in by scholarly zealotry…and in history, we see zealotry turns from harsh words to closed fists quite quickly.  Do you want a faith where if the concept isn’t a hundred years old, it must take a majority of it’s material from an equally venerable stance to even be considered relevant?  Where the very notions of personal interpretation and change are seen as attacks, instead of a natural part of religious and social growth?

The Wotanists are often called the Westboro Baptists of our faith; the metaphor has a pretty well worn history.  I’m not sure how much I like the practice of metaphoring ourselves in parody of the Christian faiths.  Yet, here we are, where the obvious correlation is to call these peudo-intellectuals a metaphorical version of Catholicism.  To draw the correlation between parallal lines of semantically obsessed old men, who have more concerns for the letter of our faith then the spirit of it.

Even that comparison is too complementary; at least the Catholics have enough material to work from.  They have entire libraries of scripture, commentary, and philosophy that speaks of their faith.  They have enough material from which to build a “solo scriptorum” framework…and while it’s not for me?  If that speaks to the inner soul, then I welcome them to it.

What we have, however, is a handful of worn documents, transcribed by monks with moralistic conceits and beliefs that cast a stark contract from those of the culture they were writing about.  Is that something we all grasp, or are you only allowed to remind people of that I you can read Norwegian?

I hear a lot of people dismissing the ideas and writing of others; the standard insult is accusing people of trying to be the first “Asa-Pope”.  Come on, be honest; you’re only envious that someone is paying attention to their point of view and not yours.  When I hear the accusation of someone trying to be the chosen leader, I don’t usually hear concern or irritation; I hear envy.

So, instead of saying something worthy of paying attention to?  You build strawmen out of ad hominems, and attack them like any “true” Scotsman would.  It’s all bluff and bluster, because I don’t think you even care about being right anymore; you’re just want people who disagree with you to be wrong.  It seems that some of you no longer care about strong research, backing well written points; it’s about a binary lynch mob, directed toward any opinion that is disliked or said by someone disliked.

I haven’t been blessed with hate-mail of my own yet, but I’ve seen some of the stuff that is out there.  Let me be frank, for one moment, and say that such childish bickering weakens us all.  That is no statement made for a flyte; every one of us ends up looking like children.  Gods, wasn’t this the reason so many of you have said you left Christiandom?  To be rid of pointless egotism and infighting?  Please tell me you didn’t leave all that self-serving braggadocio you complained about, simply on the merit that it wasn’t the stuff that you had personally created/

When I offered a close friend a look at this article in an early state, their advice was to end on a positive note.  At first, I wasn’t sure of how I might achieve this; I felt spitefully sour, angrily acidic, and terribly tired.  However, I recalled reading Gronbech, and feeling moved.  Thusly, I turned to The Culture of Teutons, looking for some solace.  I was not disappointed.

Frith is the state of things which exists between friends. And it means, first and foremost, reciprocal inviolability. However individual wills may clash in a conflict of kin against kin, however stubbornly individual heads may seek their own way according to their quota of wisdom, there can never be question of conflict save in the sense of thoughts and feelings working their way toward an equipoise in unity. We need have no doubt but that good kinsmen could disagree with fervour, but however the matter might stand, there could – should, must inevitably – be but one ending to it all; a settlement peaceable and making for peace – frith.  A quarrel had no lethal point.  Two kinsmen could not lift a hand one against the other. The moment a man scented kinship, he lowered his arms.

– Vilhelm Gronbech, The Culture of the Teutons

We don’t need to agree.  We simply need to get along; nothing more.  I couldn’t care less what any of you think of Loki in the privacy of your own home, at the sacred space of your own altar.  Perhaps it’s time that, some of you, afforded the same respect to the rest of the mead hall.Mead Hall

Sit by me.  Hail the gods with me.  Accept everyone at the table, so long as they accept you.  Share wisdom.  Share respect.  Share frith.  Be Heathen.  Truly Heathen.  Our gods, no matter their name, have the right to expect that much from us.  All of us.

Regarding Thor, Part 1 – Suffering Your Fans

Bet ya didn’t see that one coming!

Moving: It's kind of like this

Moving: It’s kind of like this

The process of moving isn’t fast, easy, or convenient.  So while I have a rather excellent collection of ideas for Part 3 of the Loki series, it’s an idea that takes a great deal of research and cross referencing.  Seeing that I don’t have the time right now, I though I’d have a small conversation about something that’s been bugging me lately.

So let’s take a moment to talk about Thor.

I was reading some blog or another, when I saw someone make an accusation that Lokeans are people who mistake the character Tom Hiddleston played in the movie for the real thing.  At the time, this struck me as patronizing and disrespectful; little did I realize it was also hypocritical.  At a recent event I attended, I heard some Heathens talking about how their UPG (and the UPG of others that they knew) gave them a very different idea of Thor then most people seem to have.  Their experience, it seemed, identifies him as the kind of personality that would make you think the term “gentle giant” was invented for him.  Strong, unyielding, and warm towards those who relied on him.

So, with that in mind, let me say that if people picting Loki as a projection of Mr. Hiddleston is a problem?  I will see your bet, and raise you a Chris Hemsworth, crossed with a Michael Dorn.  You see, it gets rather obnoxious when people ask you to read the lore, then get it wrong themselves.  Yeah, Thor is depicted as someone who isn’t the smartest god in the mead hall.  You know what seems to always be forgotten?

The fact that Thor knows  he is not the smartest god in the mead hall. To put it simply, Thor is wise enough to know that he is not wise.

Thor shows sense; he has been depicted as taking a step back when prompted to do so, letting cooler heads prevail.  He is courageous, but not foolhardy; he never runs in fear, but he knows he can be out matched.  He suffers the infirmities of mortals, fights and flails againstthe weakness of age without a moment’s pause, and shows compassion to those who are weak.

It quite simple.  If you worship him as a God, he has dimensions and features.  If you consider him in a more gnostic fashion, then you need to be able to identify which part are and are not part of the archetype.  What you do not do is take the average of Marvel Comics and Commander Worf, and call it a damn day.

The Rage: A Picture isn’t Worth a Damn Thing

Public Service Announcement  Allow me to take a moment to just out right rant about something…

I fucking hate info graphics sometimes.  Lately, they’ve been even worse then normal.  It always happens in a similar fashion; Some jackass with MS Paint in one hand and the collected works of Goebbels in the other decides to take some clip art and pair it with whatever political manifesto he/she/it deemed acceptable.  Post to Facebook, wait 10 minutes, and then wait until rabid hyenas recite your argument verbatim regardless of whether the comprehend it.

Here’s a tip: stop calling it the Monsanto Protection Act unless you’ve done research on it, and you believe that is what the legislation involved does.  Stop questioning Obama’s citizenship without pause unless you have done your homework and have a reason to think that.  Stop talking about marriage laws, civil liberties, the war on terror, taxes, corn syrup, cancer, or any other damn thing unless you actually have a reason to suspect it’s true.  This isn’t about liberal or conservative views either; it’s about knowing what the fuck you’re talking about beyond what some damn pictures says.

Have an opinion I like.  Have an opinion I don’t like.  I don’t care!  However, you damn well better have an opinion based on something other then something you saw on your facebook feed.  I can somewhat understand when people trust the news too much; it’s supposed to be their job to tell you the truth.  When it comes to pictures on the internet however?  We need to ask ourselves to take a step back, look at the world around us, and stop carrying on about things we don’t actually know a damn thing about.

We’re one step away from old men yelling at clouds.

DISCLAIMER: This post is directed at no one person and/or group.  It’s based on the growing frustration with internet meme culture, where the argument of “you’re stupid and gay” is considered to be a clincher.

The Welfare and Honor of Their Kin

GeboThere was a little break in the writing, which comes with the territory of moving.  Fresh coats of paints and cardboard boxes have a way of fixating someone’s attention on the mundane.  Also, they’re a complete pain in the ass.

Part 3 of the Regarding Loki series is coming, though I’m taking a moment to reflect on some other issues that are fresh in my mind.  Indeed, due to the contention regarding Loki and the act of venerating him, it was hard for me to think upon anything other then Frith.  These thoughts turned me towards research.  That research, in turn, lead me to no small amount of annoyance.

You see, we talk of Frith.  We speak on it at length.  We toast the gods known for the upholding of Frith. We speak of the vital role that Frith must play in our social interactions.  In actuality, there are many that speak on these things then throw them into the trash.  The reading Gronbech (the source of the quote in my previous article) sort of shocked me; here was the centerpiece of our ancestor’s culture…yet there are many of us who will shun, bad mouth, reject, or otherwise treat others in the community as refuse.

I have seen too many instances of Heathens treating Frith as a disposable concept when dealing with someone they dislike, only to praise it around those they are disposed towards.  Frith should not be used upon an axis of favoritism, nor should it be levied with hypocrisy.  There is more chaos and discord in these practices then in any group of Rokkatru.

When I spoke of shame last time, I feel I may have called people to mind of the Christian/Catholic models of shame; I wasn’t even considering them.  I was concerned with our actions, what we hold as our virtues, and how we act upon them.  We are the reflection of our ancestors; how we treat those within our ranks who are not in identical alignment with our world view is appalling.  This is not the Frith I have heard people speak of; this is not our ancestor’s way, and it shouldn’t be ours either.

Recently, I saw conflict arise when an Elder in our community picked a fight with another Heathen.  It was an unprovoked commentary on the Heathen’s personal practices, and a public withdraw of an invitation to an event that the Elder was holding at their residence.  I personally saw the Heathen attempt to accept this turn with diplomacy and humility; they Frithfully attempted to avoid public conflict, and accepted the Elder’s decision without a trace of strife. These attempts were rejected and trampled over, in favor of closing the conversation in a more contentious way; simply repeating themselves as if they were dealing with a small child.

I ended up loosing a lot of respect for the elder, and perhaps for the community as well.  The elder ignored Frith, abandoning it utterly over a personal view.  Perhaps I could have understood the Elder’s actions if the Heathen in question had picked the fight, or had tried to continue it; they didn’t.  It just looked like a big, dramatic, mess.   I am in no way stating that the Elder needed to maintain an invitation into their home if they weren’t comfortable with the guest in question; no matter what I think of their viewpoint, it’s their home.   What I am absolutely disgusted at is the lack of courtesy, respect, and diplomacy that they showed.

I saw this, and quietly declined my own invitation to the event.  No explanation was offered; had one been requested, it would have been provided in private.  It’s as simple as that.  You see,  I looked at that conversation, and said to myself ‘This is what people will see; private conversations turned public, so that people can have their over-dramatic squabbling and whining.”  We’re better then this.  Every single one of us is better then this.

Our Frith should be considered to be more then just our local communities; you can love the internet or hate it, but the world has become a lot smaller since the web rose into prominence.  This is especially true for modern Heathenry; just the fact that we have names like Diana Paxson, Mark Stinson, Freya Aswynn, Galina KrasskovaSteven McNallen, and more then I can easily name or reference is proof of this.  A lot criticize the lack of Frith in “online Heathenry”, saying that you need face to face interaction for real Frith.  I got to tell you, that makes no sense to me.

In order to for me to honestly entertain that sentiment, I have to first pretend that face to face Frith does a lot better then Frith over the internet.  From where I’m standing, the differences are somewhere between subtle and non-existent.  If I ignore that problem, I am then struck by how a majority of present Heathens have the internet to thank for being Heathens; if they didn’t discover the movement via the internet, then they found a Heathen to talk to by the same source.  This is how I ran into members of my local community.  True, I now know them in person…but I’m not about to forget or discount how I met them.  My Wyrd and Orlog has been changed because of the internet; to ignore or discount that does me a disservice.

To put it another way…yes, our ancestors didn’t conduct their faith using the internet.  They also didn’t use the printing press and kept largely oral records…but I don’t think we’re going to denounce the progress brought about by such things.  We recognize that the way we gather information and take it in has changed.  We have changed with it, and in some ways we have become better.  In some ways, perhaps we have become worse.  When we resist change…when we only work with it in selfishness and egotism, we become worse.  When we embrace it, and try and find out how we can make ourselves better via change?  We become better.

Heathenism has changed much since the time of our ancestors, and now Firth is changing with it.  It is our time to define what will become of us during that change.

To hurt one of us is to hurt every one of us; you, who is reading this article, is no different.  If there is one universal quality to the Frith our ancestors practiced, I would suggest that this is it.  This is the Frith the Gronbech spoke of.  This is the concept of Frith that penned the Havamal.  It is the understanding of social debts and diplomacy that incited our ancestors to come up with concepts like “weregild” . We are no longer communities of a few dozen families who need each to survive the winter, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect each other.  We should not empower ourselves at the determent of the community.  No one should.

The definitions of Innangarth and my Utangarth are each Heathen’s to define for themselves.  I will tell you this though; the boundaries of mine shall be made from Frith.  I shall define who should stand with me by how they treat those around them.  I have no place, patience, or time for those who would castigate another member of the community for the sake of hubris and ego.

Neither did our ancestors.