Busy Schedule

My wife is due with our child in November, I’m currently in the middle of legal battle in connection with a work injury, and neither of us are producing regular income as a result of these two things.  I’m also in the very early stages of writing a book about Heathenry, which is taking up a lot of my time and attention

The short version is that I am still around, still writing, and still doing things….I’m just extremely busy at the moment, and probably will be for quite some time.  If you don’t see much from me?  This is why!

In the meantime, in the words of Granny Weatherwax?

Weatherwax Sign


Life as a Spiritual Autistic: Learning to Pick Up the Phone

SagaI never really prayed much growing up, and the result is that the action used to feel as natural to me as a putting on a tuxedo feels natural to a fish.  In more recent months and days, however, I’ve crossed a decent amount of internal distance in regards to my personal practice .  Not nearly enough, in my opinion, to see if other people would be interested in hearing about it…but it’s being developed and that is what counts.  It’s been tricky for me, as I grew up in  a fairly blank theological world.  Oh sure, Jesus got mentioned around Christmas.  We also had prayers at Thanksgiving.  Most years, however, 360 out of 365.25 days occurred without religion having any more impact than I chose for it to have.  While this sort of upbringing made it easy for me to understand and consider theological matters objectively, it made it pretty difficult to pursue these subjects personally if that makes any sense.  For example, I can analyze why having a negative, hardline stands in regards to Loki worship is pretty weak logic sauce.  Actually doing the worship, however, was another thing.

What occurs to me is that I’m probably not alone in my lack of experience in engaging the divine.  It’s usually not very useful asking for help here, either; everyone around you is either just as lost as you are, or they have been doing spiritual work for so long that their advice doesn’t really help.  If

Before I continue, let me say the follow: I am a novice.  I don’t know much.  I know, however, that I don’t know much.  Many people have forgotten what it’s like to not have an idea of what they’re doing, for one reason or another.  I offer my perspective not as an authority on the subject, but as an authority on what it feels like to be overwhelmed, confused, and unsure of how to proceed.  The mileage of the reader, of course, may vary.

o8mnwSo, how do you learn to “pick up the phone” and connect with the divine?  Honestly, I’m not really certain there is a way to concretely explain it.  I know how I started getting on the right track, but that doesn’t mean it’ll do a single snot ball of good for anyone else.  I suppose this is the first thing to keep in mind; no method is the “right” method.  If someone tells you that all spirituality is achieved through meditation?  They’re blowing smoke out of their ass.  There is no one path to anything in life, least of all to divinity.

If meditation works for you, use it.  If you find it’s a waste of time and you fall asleep, pack that shit in.  Find other methods and techniques.  I find music works wonders.  Not long elaborate pieces of classical music, but mindless dubstep, trance, and remixes.  Stuff that is uncanny often works the best, with remixed video game music being the best for me.  If I need to refocus myself quickly, I grab some head phones, listen to 2~5 minutes of redundant techno or overplayed Skrillex.  Suddenly, my mind is clear in a manner that could not be achieved with ten thousand jewels within ten thousand lotuses*.

Music doesn’t work?  Then dance.  Or read.  Or fuck.  Perform martial arts drill, or maybe count coins.  Shuffle cards.  Find something you can do that doesn’t require thought in that traditional sense.  Something that doesn’t need your conscious mind to participate.  Drawing, games of chance, games of skill, running, writing.  Anything.  Find a talent within yourself that you can align with; one where you’re rational thinking mind isn’t needed.  Where you can ride your thought, instead of steering them.

Odin entering Vahalla on SlepnirMake your spiritual exploration personal, in any way you can.  This is not a realm of thought where there is a fundamental understand by which all people succeed.  This is not mathematical in nature, and there is no addition you need to master before you can grasp multiplication.  Everything is viewed, exclusively, through your own lens.

One last tip; don’t stress things, successful or not.  If you can’t manage to reach a meditative state no matter what you do?  Keep trying new things, or take a break.  People imply that you are some how lesser because of your abilities/methods?  Let them go fuck themselves.  This is your spiritual practice; not theirs.

*”Om mani padme hum“, translates to “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus” and is where we get so many people chanting “Om” from.

A Lack of Revelations

I wish that I could take credit for the brilliance that is this joke.  Alas, I cannot.

I wish that I could take credit for the brilliance that is this joke. Alas, I cannot.  I would credit it them if I knew who they were.

One of the things I constantly bang on about in relation to the various Norse-spectrum faiths is that we aren’t a revealed religion. This is a very simple statement, one with profound implications in regards to religion and devotional practice.  The thing is, however, that these differences might not be obvious to the average person or lay worshiper; religious nomenclature is a bit of a specialized niche, so even the presumption of basic comprehension can be a little bit overly optimistic.  So let’s quick take a look on what the word “revealed” means in terms of religion, and why the ability to exclude is profound and meaningful.

A revealed religion is one where the practices were defined by holy people and/or prophets who revealed the word and will of their God(s) to the world.  The most recognizable ones are, of course, Christianity and Islam.   Jesus, his disciples, Mohammad, Moses, Abraham, John Smith, and others are all examples of religious leaders who were, in essence, the revealers of their faith.

Heathenry (or whatever you call it), is not a revealed religion. We have no text, code, or doctrine delivered to us from an Odinic prophet or oracle. We have no body of written work which firmly defines our faith or constructs ethical boundaries, myths, and cosmology.  We have no reason to believe that such a work of literature exists, and no reason to attempt to craft one in order to ensure “authentic practice”.

So what are the Poetic and Prose Eddas?  Simply put, they are a collection of stories and legends, as transcribed by Christian historians, both clergy and laity. There is general consensus that the myths and legends were altered and modified to fit the mythic biases and beliefs of their transcribers. Further these accounts did not take place in a time where impartiality was valued; this was an era where the victor writing history was not seen as a bad thing, but rather a privilege of power.  This isn’t to cast them away as useless; while they are not pure truths, they are truths after a fashion.  They provide anthropological and etymological fingerprints that we can use to trace legacies and saga that would have otherwise been life.  The issue is that many people treat these as the pure extraction of our ancestral paths.

To take a page from Buddhism, they are not the moon.  A finger pointing to it however?  They can be, so long as we are put them in the proper place.

3 man walk into a bar

A Bard, A Viking, and a Red Mage walk into a bar. The bard turns to the other two and says, “Hey! Looks like a party in here!”

Our religion really can’t be defined by texts.  Every text we have was written by those with a bias that was defined by another faith and, unless we can speak the language they were originally written in, translated by a scholar or academic with their own biases in regards to that translation. The texts are, to be plain, a horrid source to use in isolation.  The aforementioned sciences of anthropology and etymology, by contrast, are a much more viable tool. These academic realms provide us the capacity to look at the few heirlooms our ancestors had that could not be changed at the whim of a few literate men.  Ancient artifacts, language, and reverse engineered looks at modern day cultures give us things that the lore just cannot do in of itself.

Naturally, it’s also important to be balanced in ones approach to these methods. For example, people are quick to state that there is no evidence for Loki worship.  If we want to state this with any strength, we must force ourselves to ask the appropriate opposite questions.  For example,  is there any evidence that it was a cultural or theological taboo? How much evidence do we have to identify and reveal the existence and terms of the worship of other Gods and Goddesses within the pantheon?  When looking through broken historical remnants, the lack of proof either way simply proves that you don’t have enough information to craft a hardline stance, and than display the stance as the way of our ancestors.

275Also we must recognize that our religion is a living breathing thing; all true religious are. Catholicism has gotten over the “sin” of usury, and the Mormon faith has retracted some of it’s racial stances.  Wicca has splintered into a virtually limitless number of sects, with many of these denominations differing only slightly. Religions are not static, though we must be somewhat comforted by the process of viewing them in this manner.  The thing is that theology, religion, and spirituality are not truly about our own comfort, almost by definition.

When people talk about this thing or that being “against the Aesir” or an act of “treason against the Gods”, it must be remembered that these aren’t concepts that appear to be entirely native to our faith.  This is conjecture on my part, but I feel that the only truly treason action against the Gods is to cease in their worship or to use them as tools for your own agendas.

Just my two cents.

* Also, potentially false.  I’ve heard more than once that most of the continental German sources have yet to be translated into English, accounting for why American Heathenry is largely unaware of them.

Sympathy for the Devils, or Why I’m Going to Start Praying for the Damned Bigots

I would feel better if this was a joke, as opposed to social commentary.

I would feel better if this was a joke, as opposed to religious commentary.

The puns in the title?  Every one of them was intended.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, before I go any further; I have no tolerance for racist agendas. My grandfather fought against the Nazis in World War II and my grandmother and great-grandmother both kept households free of racially motivated hatred or, indeed, hatred of any kind. Considering that they came from coal miner country and survived their during the great depression, that is a bit of an achievement. My father didn’t have the luck of being born into as tolerant of a house hold as my mother, but his perceptions on such issues ended up much the same due to the twists and turns his own life took.

The summary of this is that tolerance is, for me, a family tradition.  It is one that I follow with pride, and that is not going to change.  Anyone worried I was about to dabble in apologetics for racism can stand down.

The thing is that everyone has a motivation.  As much as I dislike the extreme ideology and conspiracy theories that have formed within the minds of our bigoted splinter sects, I can’t pretend that they formed like this without a catalyst.  No one is a Captain Planet villain in real life, with people having reasons for their virtues and vices.  We can’t fix what we don’t understand, and I’m certain that just hatred towards bigots isn’t going to solve anything .  The search was difficult, and took some time…but I think I found a piece of the answer.

I did not grow up with a cultural or religious identity.  I knew I had strong amounts of European German and Amish background, and it was made clear that there was a goodly amount of Polish, Irish, and English as well.  That information, simply put, had little to no relevance in my day to day life.  My family was not greatly connected to their heritage, and didn’t seem to make a big deal out of it.  My parents seemed to want to allow me to make my own choices when it came to religion, in spite of (or perhaps because of) having been both raised Catholic.  As such, most of feelings on culture and faith are the ones that grew more or less naturally.  In these matters, I was about as close to tablua rasa as one could hope for.

i1232892707_1My fringe position gave me a pretty unique perspective, one that I still cherish.  While I did feel a sort of void for the lack of having any sort of cultural connection, my parents never strongly stressed it so it wasn’t much of a conscious worry.  When gamer/geek/internet culture started to take shape, I was in the perfect position to absorb in the amorphous mass that were on-line forums, YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook.  I found my sense of identity there.  I also grew up never really wanting for my basic needs, my parents were almost always employed, and they raised me stressing an appreciation for differences as opposed obsessing over the uncanny details.

What if any of those things had been missing, I wonder.  What if I had grown up in a rougher sort of town, where cultural simularties were stressed as being one of the most important part of making friends?  What if I was a second generation immigrant, or a child of a visually obvious inter-racial marriage?  What if I hadn’t been on the fringe, capable of seeing how every culture had different ways of being absolute assholes?  To be plain about it, what if I hadn’t been lucky enough to make it into a minority where those deficiencies I had never made a notable impact upon my life?

Growing up, I couldn’t understand what sort of wounds those things would cause because I was never exposed to them.  What if I had been, and what would I have done to solve any of those problems, filled in any of those holes, or to repair the damage that was caused?  More importantly, who would I end up blaming for those problems, holes, and damage?  I suspect that I would blame those around me who were blessed with a strong sense of ethnic identity.  I have this idea that the first target of my anger and pain would be the people born into the very thing I would have been denied; a strong, cultural, identity.

Strange as it may sound, I was blessed in how I came to Heathenry.  By the time I found it, I had found a sub-culture that embraced many of my ideals and philosophies.  When it came to exploring my ancestors and heritage, I was able to do so with a balanced approach.  I was not desperately looking to fill a void within myself; I came searching for knowledge, faith, and understanding for their own sakes.  When I read the Havamal or any other piece of the lore, I read them for what they are and nothing more.  I did not and do not have a need to make them into anything that serves some greater purpose; why would I need to?

40260952Before, I though of people who needed to insert their own agenda in very hateful and angry terms.  I’m still hideously offended, but my offense is now tempered with pity and remorse.  What sort of level do you need to sink to where this becomes your modus operandi?  I can’t even conceive of how much inner shame and self loathing one would need to be fueled by in order for the wholesale destruction for an opposing culture to become desirable.  Hell, how do you even view another culture as “opposing” in the first damned place?!

Imagine you were an artist, and your inadequacy and self-hatred were so great that you would destroy the work of another to mitigate you own shame.  Imagine you were a soldier to whom the thought of peace was so frightening, that you created enemies in order to preserve your own relevance.  This is the sickness that pervades what many have called the worst of us.

I’ve come to realize that their population is writing the saddest and sorriest saga that I am capable of imagining.  I used to hate them.  I don’t have the stomach for that anymore, because hating a person is a fool’s game.  I can hate their ideology and their message, but hating them is only further their message and stifling mine.

Regarding Loki, Part 6: Why I Care About This At All

While commentary and conversation about my blog has been overwhelmingly positive, I have heard a rumbling of discontent here and there, and it’s usually how “pro-Loki” I am.  Let’s clear something up here about my reasons and methodology.  There is going to be very some very strong language here, so be fore-warned.

Also, this.

Also, this.

I am not, in any way, proselytizing on Loki’s behalf.  What happens at your altar is your business alone, so long as it doesn’t involve little kids in an inappropriate way.  As far I can tell, via my own UPG, I don’t think He cares

how anyone feels about Him.  If you want to feel Loki is evil and refrain from worshiping Him?  I don’t care; His influence didn’t depend on your opinion anyhow, so feel free to feel however you want to.  Pray to him, worship him, ignore him, malign him, threaten him?   When I think on that, I get a sort of sensation that amounts to “same shit, different day.”.

I am not here to “fix” the “perceptions” about him; I’m here to point fingers to a completely different kind of sickness.  The kind that injures our faith as a whole, regardless of individual stances of this God or any other.

I have been made to understand that the argument over Loki has caused many leader’s to leave the Troth, which baffled me.  Than there is the AFA, who doesn’t really see the need to bother censuring or calling to heel members of it’s organization spewing racist propaganda that is completely at odds with their own rules.  They do have, however, a rule against Loki.

40232332That we take time to worry about Loki, collectively, on this scale is mind boggling.  The conversation has become a cancer on our faith that grows by the moment.  We can break professional ties, snap frith in half, and ignore terroristic threats made from within our ranks (sometime across our ranks)…because of how we worship and whom we worship.

Madness.  Doubtful of the point I’m making?  Let’s look at a cross-faith example of the same sort of thing at work.

Pope Sideous was a pretty evil bastard, hunh?  You know a Pope has gone off of the strait and narrow when the fact that they were a Hitler Youth* seems almost quaint.  The man stands accused of sheltering and protecting priestly pedophiles, shipping them from church to church before the legal ramifications of their actions could catch up with them.  Now this is a serious allegation, that demands serious attention.  This is a moral and religious leader, and how the Catholic Church handled such an allegation is important.

So when they did nothing about and continued to argue about petty matters of religious praxis which were, in the grand scale of things, fairly inconsequential?  Well, that’s a problem.

Remember how enraged and incredulous lookers on were when the Catholic Church just seem to drum it’s fingers on the counter, and try to proceed with business as usually like nothing freaking happened?  I  was enraged.  All of us who not yet resigned to the moral failings of Catholicism were.

Yet, here we stand…discussing Loki like it’s the most relevant thing in the fucking work.  Have we lost out minds?

We have organizations that aspire to acts of racially targeted terrorism in our ranks, and even a few who already are committed to engaging in such actions.  We are not a legally recognized religion in a majority of the countries of the world, and many locations have not even the legal precedent to allow Heathen to own churches or perform religious ceremonies.  We are mocked by scholars, and a great majority of the public believes us to be little more than a violent prison religion.

I just tried to look up the number of public, Heathen churches in the world.  Google didn’t even understand the question.  That’s right, Google.  You know, the search engine where “If I eat myself” and “Why does my vagina smell?” are auto-completed searches?  I ask a question about public Hofs, and it gives me a blank stare.

If I am hard on the AFA, the Troth, or any other organization?  It’s because I expect better.  I don’t expect McNallen, Aswynn, Stinson, Abel, Lusch-Schreiwer or anyone else to make their organizations and/or writing match my exact desires; this would make me no better than the people I am trying to call to task.  I do expect us, collectively and individually, the most intelligent and the most dense, to look between issues like “racial hate groups that aspire to terrorism and ear mark the lot of us as prison-bound bigots” and “some people worship Loki” and be able to pick out which one has more reaching consequences.

i1232986517_1Our religion has ancient and venerable roots, but the form it takes today is young and vulnerable.  Our battles should be picked and chosen to be only the most vital, and long reaching ones.  The Loki issue….is none of these things.  One way or the other.  These simply is not an issue that demands the level of discussion that we give it.  This should be a matter of choice at a personal/kindred level, at most.

If you or your organization commits to having an official, group-wide policy to Loki worship and doesn’t have the time, clarity, or awareness to put forth energy to address the wanna-be terrorist organizations that try to subvert our entire faith for their own vitriol and scornful egotism?  If that’s what you want to think is important?  Well, I have news for you.

Your own ignorance is causing more discord, disharmony, and world-breaking than an entire pantheon of trickster gods ever could.  This, and only this, is what I care about in this discussion.  If I was against Loki’s veneration, I would feel the same way.

* Yeah, I know; many Germans signed up with Nazi organizations in spite of having no actually sympathy to the Nazi party.  Considering the extreme gravity of the accusations against him….I can’t really give the former Pope the benefit of that doubt.