What The Hex? (or, why I’ve never seen a reason to use negative magic)



There are a lot of ethical considerations involved with spiritual and mystical work, and the conversation points surrounding “black magic” is probably where the greater majority of the noise takes place.  Typically, I leave all conversations on “woo” alone because I find them particularly pointless; there are so many different techniques, styles, conceits, and philosophies on the subject that you can say almost anything be circumstantially correct.  It doesn’t help that most of the talk also degenerate into pissing contests; I’ve rarely seen an open and thoughtful discussion being held.  Power trips and ego strutting?  Oh, I can find that easily!  Pardon me while I opt out as hard as I can.

I’ve heard and read a few tangential comments about curses within the last few months, and that is something I have a bit of a stronger opinion on.  I thought this might be an interesting topic for the Halloween season and, considering that my opinion isn’t one I’ve heard reflective (or countered) elsewhere, it might be something that people may want to hear.

So, here we are.

A curse, like anything truly negative, is a pretty pathetic retort for any mundane or simple situation: A vast majority of the situations where I’ve heard someone threaten or imply a curse, they were acting like children.  It wasn’t a measured or correct retort for some unbelievable offense or degradation; it was an action designed to masturbate a single ego and nothing else.

This is one area where Hollywood typically gets it right; a curse in a movie or a TV show is something done for big reasons, and it is justified within that character’s worldview.  Even if they’re a malevolent, evil bastard…a curse is levied as a part of some grand scheme or as retribution for some hideous action taken against them.  It wasn’t made because they had an argument on-line over whether you can spell magic with a “K” and not be an absolute wanker.  See an average fairy tale for a reflection of the same.

"What...you all dressed up as Vikings too?  Man, this is BULLSHIT!"

“What…you all dressed up as Vikings too? Man, this is BULLSHIT!”

I’m reminded about the worst aspects of urban and gang culture; where young men and women, eager to prove their capacity within their social model, will willingly escalate a situation to violence over petty or pointless slight.  As above, so below; there is nothing different between a petty curse and a 16 year old boy with a pistol, trying to prove that he is a “real man”.

A curse can be a plain and simple admission that your enemy is stronger than you, and it’s usually the least effective method you have to resolve any problem you might have: I have people I don’t like.  I could call these people enemies, but I don’t curse them.  One of the reasons I have for this is I consider the vast majority of them unimportant.  If they were important, I would face them directly and/or resolve the situation.  They’re not, so I ignore them.  They represent no credible threat in the present or future, and I’m not going to lower myself to responding to some pointless grudge.*

Such a gesture is far more powerful and self-affirming than any amount of shrill and shrieking condemnations could be.  It is not only a waste of my time to go beg/bribe/force some entity (or equivalent) to go handle my business for me, but it’s also calling out to the world that I can’t handle my own issues.  If I need supernatural forces to resolve my problems, I am embracing my weakness.

“I can’t handle this myself, with my own deeds and actions.” you say to the world.  “The subject of my ire is physically healthier than me, mentally faster than me, and socially stronger than me.  To approach them on any battlefield within the real world is asking to be conquered, so I choose a method of retribution that has almost no chance of granting me meaningful closure and/or the result that I truly desire.  Just so long as the subject of my ire suffers, in some way, by my actions?  I am satisfied.”

My favorite Viking curses all start with F.

My favorite norse curses all start with F.

It’s a very childish statement.  It’s also extreme dense.

Mystical work is almost never a certain thing; it’s one of the few things almost everyone agrees upon.  With such a conceit at hand, you’re never going to know when and where your “attack” will connect, or if it even did at all.  You’re also never going to know the method that attack is going to take, until it’s too late.  Magic goes by it’s own rules, not yours.  Even those who have the capacity to call themselves “masters” of a given art seem fully aware that few things are certain.

If you are doing such work out of emotional pain, chances are your work will only make it worse; you will never know.

If someone sexually assaults one or both of my daughters, I’m not using a curse; I’m using the phone, calling the police, and making sure the person in question ends up in prison with a child abuse charge**.  If that doesn’t work, I’m using a baseball bat, gasoline, and a match.  I’m not going to throw my energy into the void, and hope that it avenges the childhood of my kids.  I’m going to take my agency, and wield it; where I go, so goes my energy and will.

If you are certain whether a curse is needed or not, it’s not needed.:  There are times where dark work could be useful.  Using the rather upsetting example of actions against my kids, if the assailant gets away and can not be found?  Than I will do everything in my power, both physical and spiritual, to bring the just consequences of their actions down upon their head.  If that involves so called “black magic” to get things done, than that’s that.  That, however, is a justified thing.

Curses and dark work because someone called me a bad name?  Or because they engage in mystical practice that I philosophically disagree with?  No.  People who engage in such things need some perspective.  Not because their work is “dark” or “evil”, but because it’s bloody stupid.

*I think this is especially valid for a Norse Polytheistic perspective.  Our Gods were posses of angers and grudges, but they were also possessed of pragmatic common sense in most cases.  You don’t answer a  grudge for grudge’s sake when there are more important things to do, and chances are good there is something more pressing at hand than spitting in someone’s eye.

**Also known as “Death by Sodomy”.  The only thing that’s worse to go into a maximum security prison with than a sexual assault charge against a minor is an oral damn and a tube of lip stick.

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Heathen Ethics, Part 6: Taking it Back

The funny thing about how I write is that I frequently find new projects in the middle of work I’m still trying to finish.  I imagine I’m not alone in this, but it’s always a pleasant surprise when I try to tackle something and find an excess of material hiding there.  It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling when I search for one thing and end up finding a dozen other things hiding in the darker recesses.   It makes me feel like an explorer.

Let’s talk about the singularly, nearly uncontested linchpin of Norse Polytheistic ethics; “We Are Our Deeds”


Whomever created the “Tru Asapope” meme at Memecruncher.com? I salute you. I would have gone there myself, save for my complete inability to use “Photoshop”

I was researching where the phrase came from (I still don’t conclusively know) when I encountered an extremely acidic (though deservedly so) rundown of the phrase over at Adventures in Vanaheim.  The post in question had a lot of fire, and the author of the work definitely has some poignant things to say on the matter.  I’ve seen some of the same behaviors, and I regard them no more kindly than she does.  The phrase can and does mean a variety of things, but one of the meanings that everyone agrees with is “actions speak louder than words.  The problem is that people often use the philosophies involved to allow for a theological backdoor.

You see, this is where I get extremely amused/upset at some of the more conservative sides of Norse Polytheism.  There are people who will absolutely malign anything perceived as Christian.  They do it with no shortage of conviction or passion, either.  Peace, hospitality to people outside your Innangard, any political policy that has the semblance of charity…all of it is cast quickly on to the bonfire as the relic of another faith.  Than these same people will use “We Are Our Deeds” the way poorly acting Christians use “What Would Jesus Do”; as a means of using their religion as a weapon and a barrier

Olaus Magnus Historia om de nordiska folken

“Two rangers, a fighter, and a wizard?  Awwww yeah!  Our DPS is gonna be off the charts!”

They see something they don’t appreciate, look for a way to spin such an action into a parallel of some faux pas, cherry pick a reference within their literature or lore that superficially validates their outrageous condemnation, and than feel theologically justified in acting like judgmental assholes.  It’s absolutely flabbergasting.

As much as it would enjoyable to continue to comically compare WWJD to WAOD, That’s the low road.  My wife has had a lot to say to me about my writing as of late; she’s been pointing out how angry and contentious Heathenry is within it’s own body, and that’s it sad state of affairs when a religion seems to exist simply because all the people involved get angry at the same things.  How much do we talk about those we cannot stand, and how often do we embrace the things about Heathenry/Asatru/Norse Polytheism which we actually like?  If reflection upon that doesn’t bother you, you may be part of the problem.

Another reason I’m not going there is, of all things, The Oatmeal.  In his strip that focused on Genocidal Bastard Columbus Day,  he pointed out how easy it is to rip something apart…and how much more difficult and rewarding it is to find something worth holding up.  As easy as it would be to simply tear into those who misappropriate “We Are Our Deeds” to justify their own petty intolerance, it’s more appropriate to try and turn the same phrase into something that has the meaning it truly deserves.  It’s also probably a lot less hypocritical, while I’m thinking about it.

Which brings up to “We Are Our Deeds” itself.  What does it say of me if the best thing I can do is just be a more tactful form of critical and brash?  Criticism is needed, and it’s a powerful tool.  There is, however, a very apt saying about what happens when all you have is a hammer….

First and foremost it’s not about holding others accountable to us, but in holding ourselves accountable to the world.  Our actions are going to be our best spokespeople and/or our harshest critics, and that’s exactly how it should be.  We should see it as a tool for self reflection first and foremost, as there is no shortage of such a viewpoint within the lore.  Let us consider the countless entries in the Havamal* which talk about watching your own conduct carefully, and letting the conduct of strangers speak for themselves.  Be certain that you have used it on yourself far more than you ever use it on another.  If you come off looking awesome 100% of the time in your own estimation, than you’re doing it wrong; no one is perfect, not even our Gods and Goddesses.

i-brought-organic-mead-its-a-jar-of-angry-beesIt’s also a great way to compliment other; if someone is busting their butt doing tons of work yet still pushing themselves to do more, you can remind them that their dedication already has provided more than the fruits of their labor ever can.  It also reminds us that our criticism shouldn’t be tied to gossip, first impressions, or mere hunches; all criticism should be crafted from the actions of that person, as anything else is just pointing to a shadow or a phantasm.

If we are tired of hearing that phrase misused(and we should be), the solution is not to simply discard it; I believe we should challenge ourselves to use it appropriately.  The ethics it represents are solid, and resonate quite strongly with the morality that is found within the lore as well as in the cultures that crafted such tales.   More over, there is a wonderfully simple logic to it; I am no more or less than what I have done, so judge me by that and that alone.  There is pragmatic brilliance within that sentiment.

I’m not saying that the tool is completely unfit for analyzing others either; it’s just not how you should be using it more often than not.  There are times, however, where it is fair to use a person’s behavior to get an understanding of their worth. That makes sense.  What doesn’t hold water is when the same philosophical engine is used to pass judgement over a person in connection to a single action or behavior (Loki worship, Syncretism, having no problem with Wiccan praxis, wearing that hat with those shoes, etc) that doesn’t impact anyone but that person.  That’s not on them; it’s on you.

There are people who use ethical and philosophical outs when it comes to ethical and religious considerations.  There always has been, and there always will be.  You can’t prevent it.  All you can do is determine how you deal with it and, in this case, I feel the best thing we can do is use this simple but powerful tool to the best of our abilities.  Use it to challenge ourselves, and be better people.  In short, we can simply be our deeds…and let other, less informed, less enlightened people be theirs.

*Yes, yes…I know…I’m usually the last one to refer to the Havamal or the lore.  I don’t have a problem with it, however; just in how some people use such works.  For example, when the Havamal is used to inform ethical considerations and thew, rather than create entire ethical codes from scratch, it’s actually a wonderful resource. 

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A Letter to Mr. Bloch

MissiveDear Mr. Bloch,

I’ve spent the better part of a month working on a response to your post, “Folkish” Does Not Mean “Racist”.  The material behind the response has not been hard to write, though I find myself increasing conflicted in how I’m writing it.  Hence the delay.  It strikes me that perhaps the easiest and most effective way to talk about things is not to talk about your article, but to talk to you.  The person.

Mr. Bloch, I disagree with you,  This is not because I have need of an enemy to project various evils upon. I just think that you’re wrong.  It has nothing to do with you calling yourself Folkish, being a part of the AFA, or being politically conservative.  I think you’re wrong because I’ve read your arguments, considered them, reread them, researched them, and found them flawed.  I respect both you and our faith enough to say so.

It’s not hard it to point out why I don’t care about the demonstrably racial stances within Shintao, Yoruba, or the various tribal practices that comprise the religious beliefs of the Aboriginal Americans; I’m not trying to be any of those things, and none of these faiths are trying to hurt me or my family.  As such, it’s not my business how those organizations conduct themselves.  To act otherwise would be, to my mind, imposing my will upon another faith.  I am, by contrast, very much a Heathen.  These things do effect me, so they are my business.  It’s really just that simple.

If we dig a little further, all of those traditions have something which offers context to a racial mandate within their belief structure.  Contrast this with Asatru and Heathenry, wgere we cannot find such a vehicle within the Icelandic, Scandinavian, Germanic, or Anglo-Saxon cultures that originally created the faith.  It would be impossible for them to make the same racial distinctions that many modern groups utilize, as most of the methods by which we separate and quantify race today did not exist in the time of our ancestors.  Lastly, even if these other faiths were identical in their culpability, pointing that out doesn’t magically make any other group more or less prejudicial.

That is just my answer to a small portions of the arguments you’ve put forth.  The rest of your stances have, to my mind, similar flaws within them.  Whether it’s presenting prevailing opinions on racism as the machinations of the far left , projecting white guilt onto others without having anything that actually informs such a view, or putting forth a political cartoon that implies much but actually says nothing, very little of what I saw was difficult to answer or refute.

I took issue with these sentiments, and began work on a retort.  I didn’t want to make a criticism of that political cartoon without putting forth a disclaimer about the sight gags that I use, so I ended up writing a little bit about memes.  A few days later, I looked down at my phone to see that I had a response to that post,  and that the response was from you.  “Oh great!” I thought, “Here comes a knock down, drag out argument”.  That wasn’t what happened, however.

Instead you corrected me on your name, congratulated me on the birth of my daughter, shared an anecdote about your own children, and went on your way.  I have to assume you read the article in question, which was laying the groundwork to make a more invasive and direct critique of your platform.  Regardless, you were polite and frithful.  That took me by surprise, and I have found myself considering it ever since.

When someone extends diplomacy and etiquette despite criticism, I can’t help but find myself respecting that person regardless of their views.  I always try to do the same thing, and it is almost always difficult.  At the same time, you have represented the vast majority of the criticism directed at the “Folkish” perspective and the AFA as “false equivalencies and shrill hyperbole”.   I find myself struggling to understand how someone who showed me such respect could say something so one-sided.

When I look to research that very subject, I find no shortage of information and opinions that are neither anecdotal nor speculative.  I mean, the AFA has written work for sale on it’s website…and that work represents collaborations between the founder of the AFA and outspoken, vocal, white supremacists.  Refute the implications that makes if you’d like.  Contextualize it if you can.  Ignore it if you want.  Please don’t act as if such a thing is slander for it’s own sake, because it’s not.

I've used this one before, but it's never been quite as appropriate.

I’ve used this one before, but it’s never been quite as appropriate.

I don’t call someone racist because I need someone to be the catspaw for the ethnic, cultural, or racial guilt I supposedly feel.  I don’t criticize Metagentics and Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca because that’s the cool thing to do and gets me brownie points with all of my “lefty” buddies; I criticize it because that work represents the Unverified Personal Gnosis of a single man, not the spiritual and racial mandate others have turned it into.  I reject racial stances because there is nothing that comes close to an anthropological, historical, or cultural reason to establish their relevance.  It has nothing to do with toeing a line in the sand put forth by the demands of the liberal masses.  I am not alone in this; there are others who say much the same things, for many of the same reasons.

Reading your articles, I see a theme…and I wonder if part of the problem is some of the people you’ve encountered.  Maybe you’ve been getting into the right sort of arguments, but with the wrong sorts of people.  Maybe it has taken a toll on you.  Maybe you’ve been dealing with so many of the psychotically liberal, that it’s hard to see any sanity within the spiritual side of the anymore.  I know the feeling; I spend a lot of time trying to argue with the psychotically, spiritually conservative.  I’ll see your “Vegetarian pacifist that worships death and war deities”, and raise you a “Thorsman who acts like their patron is a Klingon, and that every single Germanic man and woman in history was a viking.”.

In short, I don’t want to debate with your assholes anymore than you probably want to debate with mine.

Which, at the last, brings us to the “why”.  Why would I bother to shake things up in the first place?  Why would I go out of my way to say that I feel something is wrong,  especially when it only seems to generate responses from the worst possible sorts?  The answer is that this is what I can do.  This is what I can do to make the faiths the worship and celebrate the Norse deities a little better than I found them.  So I do it.

220px-Snorre_Sturluson-Christian_KrohgI criticize because I expect better from all of us.  Myself included.  If I ever step over the line with my statements and conjectures, it is my sincere hope that someone on the other side of the philosophical field calls me on it.  If my statements ever extend past the boundaries of constructive criticism and become attacks or ad hominem, I implore you or someone else to throw down the flag and call bullshit.  I write what I write because I want Norse Polytheism to be the absolute best it can be, and I’m willing to shake a few trees and ruffle a few feathers to get to that place.

When I read what you write, disagree though I may, I get the feeling that much of what you do is motivated by a similar desire.  I can respect that, even if your conclusions may be vastly different than the ones I reach.  Hopefully, you can say the same about me and those like me.

Harrison K. Hall

The Rage: Fools of Engagement

I have been on the internet for an excessively long time.  I am thirty-two at the time of writing, and a greater part of my teenage years were spent on a nascent, barely formed internet.  The time before that was spent on the world wide web’s humble predecessor, the BBS or Bulletin Board System.  That’s right; I’ve been at this long enough to nostalgically remember a time where connecting to the internet meant listening to my computer try to speak like an auto-tuned dolphin every time it wanted to interact with a phone line and where tablet PCs were still props on Star Trek.

Comic comes from the brilliant work of (Author Name) at XKCD.com.

A situation my wife ends up dealing with more often than I’d like to admit.  (From the brilliance that is Randall Monroe of XKCD.com.)

In this time I’ve had my fair share of shouting and name calling, though I’ve actually tried to avoided more of it  than I’ve ever contributed to.  You see, digital arguments usually come down to one single thing; people aren’t looking to gain new perspectives, but to tell you how wrong you are.  In a vast majority of “conversations”, where people come to the internet to scream at each other and make aspersions on their parentage and sexuality, I just can’t opt out quickly enough.  This becomes especially true of people “discussing” religion on line.  I had the misfortune of putting together a lot of my understandings of religion, philosophy, and basic human nature on the horrid cesspool that was (and probably still is) Gaia Online’s Extendend Disscussion forum.

Morality and Religion was one of the sub forums there and I saw shit no one should have to see.  Take every bad stereo type of internet discussions, add all of the wonderful language and terminology of XBox Live, throw in the standard amount of philosophical entitlement that comes with every religious discussion, and than make 60% of the people involved 17 years old or younger that are basically just parroting a half-baked version of their parent’s beliefs.  There are moments when the term “cluster fuck” just doesn’t do a situation any justice.

As a result, I’m naturally inclined to let arguments pass me by unless there are some elements of decorum involved.  I’ll hold my ground if such a person comes swinging through, but I’ve got better things to do than to go out and proactively look for windmills to joust with.  I save my talking for places and people who do just as much listening as speaking.  Surprisingly, I’ve found a few Heathen groups on Facebook (of all places) where conversational etiquette is observed and that’s where a lot of my discussions and debates ocur.  I’ve joined the forums for “Polytheism Without Borders” (and you should too!), but I haven’t been in a place where I can engage with that forum in a meaningful way; babies, it turns out, require a lot of time.  Who knew?

In discussions I have both participated and opened, and even some I wouldn’t normally touch with a twenty foot pole, I’ve begun to see a very silly and idiotic mentality show up.  It’s a very egotistical, hubiristic sort of talking point…one which I have found myself loathing intently.  I’m talking about statements such as “Ugh!  Why are we still talking about “X”.  and  “I am so tired of seeing people talk about this!  Get over it!”.

Social media is a powerful, and amazing tool.  While most people just use it to find pictures of cats doing wacky things, you can also use it as a powerful conduit to communication and knowledge.  You can make connections, network, and research things in extremely effective ways.  What you can also do is use it to filter out stuff you have no interest in.  Seriously, you get to pay attention to or ignore what ever you choose.  Social media allows you to craft your internet experience to your own design, and the agency that is at one’s finger tips is staggering.

I use this power.  When I see an argument that I find banal or redundant, I use the powers at my command to ignore it.  Sometime I just opt not to read it.  Other times, I use my amazing and arcane magic of “click on the little tab thingie” to make it disappear from view.  In other words, I simply act like an adult, I do not engage in dialog I am not interested in.  If I have constructive criticism or something similar which may add something to the dialogue for all those involved, I have no issue in adding it; that’s the point of intellectual conversation.

If instead I have the temptation to whine more than my six year old when she is subjected to the ignominy of green beans, I keep that to myself.  I make it my job to shut up, mind my own business, and find something I do want to talk about or look at.  You see, no one is going to give a damn if I am tired of a discussion or not.  As in the world of flesh and blood, I have the responsibility to take myself out of situations that do not interest me.  On the internet, this duty is absolutely legion; you have a greater capacity to seek out knowledge and experience  than has ever existed on the planet Earth.  If you cannot find something that you consider engaging, you have no one but yourself to blame.  If you don’t like a discussion, find one you do like.  It’s really just that simple

No one thinks of you, or anyone else, as a conversational Caesar; we do not wait with bated breath for someone to raise or lower their thumb in the direction of  our discussions so that we might know of their blessings and condemnations.  When someone comes into a existing discussion, and gripes and complains about how they don’t want to listen to this, they come off (to me) as whiny, ignorant, and lazy.  Their options were and still remain limitless in what they can be doing at that moment, yet they’ve decided to gripe about the first thing that they found that they didn’t like.

I wouldn’t be  bothered if they actually were saying their opinion on the subject so long as it was something constructive.  Hell, I want to hear constructive dissent!  I want to learn about the things I don’t understand and view points I may not have considered.  I absolutely loathe metagentics, but I would jump at the chance to talk to Mr. McNallen one on one about it; Is there any way I could better understand his thinking than to hear if from his own mouth with my own ears?  I crave constructive criticism and contrasting opinions, because that is how I believe we evolve both intellectually and spiritually.


Statues Face-palming: Proving that Renaissance artists could disprove of your shenanigans with style and class.

To frame these things theologically for a second, I set a great deal of my worship to Loki.  One of the aspects that most will talk when it comes to him is the propensity to present uncomfortable truths.  If my worship and veneration of him is in earnest, what else could I do but look for those truths that could shift my perspective?  I doubt I could make an honest claim of worshiping him if I only wanted comforting lies for myself, yet was willing to deal in harsh truths for others.

When someone tries to squash a conversation because they’re tired of hearing it, they are communicating to me that pressing the back button on their browser was too much effort.  They are saying, to the world that it was easier to sit there and bitch about the inconvenience of reading a thing they found boring than to go find something interesting.  I don’t even suspect that such people think anyone is going to humor them, so I have no idea what they are even trying to do.  No matter what their intent, all they’re doing is wasting everyone’s time.

Stop demanding the world babysit you.  If you find something you can’t stand than all you need to do is get up, go find something that does interest you, and shut the fuck up.  No one should stop their thinking for your benefit.

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A Collection of Musings

The last last two weeks have been pretty crazy, and it hasn’t left me a lot of time to put my thoughts together in anything approaching a satisfying way.  So, here is the reader’s digest of what has been going on lately.  Since we’re covering a lot of ground here, this is a little longer than usual.  Apologies in advance.


Once Again, I have not much when it comes to “on-topic” visual aids.  I do, however, have T. Roosevelt taking on a bigfoot like the bad ass he is.  You’re welcome.  (Artist:  Jason Heuser),

The hospital my wife stayed at during her labor had the foresight to have a coffee bar located within.  Not just a coffee bar; a 22-hour coffee bar.  This refueling station gave me the energy to stay up and keep an eyeball on her while she made some desperate attempts at sleep during the laboriously slow* induction process.  It also gave me an excuse to explore the place a little from time to time.  I didn’t get too terribly adventurous; I didn’t want to be too far away from my wife, and I certainly didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.  During my limited explorations, however,I did stumble across an inter-faith chapel.

It was a bizarre little nook, that was at once underwhelming and interesting.  The space was a bit cramped, suggesting that it may have been earmarked as a janitor’s closet at one time.  I was pleasantly surprised that some vestigial attempt at honoring multiple faiths was made (the Bible, Torah, and Koran were all in attendance, as well as a compass pointing to Mecca).  The most vexing part was that it felt very sterile, and that’s not some hospital pun.  It was a spiritual place that lacked spirituality; it just also lacked anything that would have gotten in it’s way.

There were no Heathen touches within, which didn’t surprise me.  It did made me ponder, for a moment, what it would be like to be a Heathen  staying at such a hospital.  What it would be like to desire spiritual support, yet have had no means to acquire it.  While our faith has nothing equivalent of last rites or anything similiar, we do have things that are sacred to us.  There would be no one there to share stories with anyone there, nor to pass on such a person’s last thought if they were in their final moments.  No one to knock on some doors and ensure proper hospitality was being given by the hospital.  No galdring for health.  No devotions to Eir.  Nothing.   It was a sad realization, I’ve been thinking on it ever since.

It’s moments like these were I consider looking into what it would take to be a Gothi.

Peanut was born almost five weeks premature.  While she ended up staying in the NICU for only eight days (the doctors projected at least two weeks), it still meant that I ended up taking my wife home almost a week ahead of our newborn daughter.  That really took a toll on my wife, so she mitigated the stress by trying to live in the NICU as much as possible.  While the facility in question was staffed with what I can only describe as an all-star team, they weren’t her parents and that was what mattered most to me and my wife.  While she normally waited until after Munchkin went to bed so she count attend the night feeding, she ran herself ragged one day and asked me to take up the duty.  So out I went, to see if I could help by youngest daughter throw back a few.

After it was all said and done, and I sat there with a little comatose heap of milk filled infant, I think I really connected with the Heathen sense of family for the first time.  It’s not that I didn’t grasp it in an academic sense it; I just couldn’t personally relate.  While I held my daughter in my arms and hummed to her a few old songs my from my childhood to help her relax**, things came into focus  While Munchkin is my daughter in all ways that count, I wasn’t there from birth.  While my six year old taught me about the stakes of being a dependable father, Peanut seems to be teaching me more about what it feels like for a man to become a father.  The fact that I was a father before this is, largely, irrelevant.

As always, I go through life lessons completely backwards.  Makes for interesting stories, however.

I used to say that I wasn’t a Lokean.  More recent events have caused me to question that stance, though I’m still inclined to say that I don’t identify with the term.  This isn’t out of lack of connection with the Trickster of Asgard, but rather because I have no damn clue over what the

term actually means.  So rather that trying to decipher some other misused word, I decided to just see how I felt about the issue and go from there.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

LokiI worship Loki because he is the one who has looked after me.  I wouldn’t call him a patron or a fulltrui, because that would put a projection of an obligation that I don’t feel comfortable with.  I hold him in great respect, and feel that the route of much of American Heathery’s problem with him stems mostly from the American culture, conversion issues, and UPG….all of which I’m fine with, so long as they don’t tell feel the need to proselytize such feelings and treat anyone who disagrees with them as a lesser being.

For some time now, every article I’ve written has been a devotional act.  I said a silent prayer to Loki in the moments before I released one article in particular, saying that it was for his honor that I wrote it and put it out there.  Than, the article absolutely exploded and got me an incredible amount of exposure.  I felt blessed, but I also felt like it would be easy to abuse devotional work for my own popularity and ego…and that was something that made me incredibly uncomfortable.  At the same time, I find the idea of not giving proper credit where it is due even more distasteful.

I am not a Lokean, but only because I think the definition of the term is an absolute cluster fuck.  I don’t put a title on my devotional work because I don’t need one, and it’s really not anyone’s business by his and mine anyway.

lgofygygI didn’t mention it at the time, but I’ve had devotional work published on two separate occasions.  Both occasions were in the same e-magazine; the AFA’s “Rune Pebble”, which is a periodical for Heathen kids.

I have been critical of the AFA’s public stances, and my criticism isn’t going anywhere.  It is a mistake, however, to miss the forest for the trees.  Many AFA members have racist stances, which they decorate with semantics and apologetics to cloud the issue.  On the other hand, many actually believe those stances, and honestly believe that what they say is a valid platform***.  Others remain because they see Heathenry as being more important than the politics, and still others stay to fight those exact forces and bring forth change from within.  Do I agree with all of those stances?  Some I can get behind, and others I can’t.  To pretend that the entirety of the Asatru Folk Assembly is nothing by white supremacists and fascists, however, is folly.

The moment I stop making those distinctions for my own convenience is the moment I become just as bad as the extremists I oppose.

Here is a little storyThe other day, I published a blog post that started some criticism on the work of Joseph Bloch****.  I made it pretty clear that I was just scratching the surface, and that there was more to come.  I probably would have already published it, were such writing not so emotionally draining.

I was quite surprised when Mr. Bloch has something to say to me…which was that I had gotten his name wrong; I had originally attributed his work to Jon Upsal, which was a name in the title of his blog.  It turned out to be a reference to Odin from Danish folk lore.  I politely apologized for the mistake, and made the correction.  He thanked me, congratulated me on the birth of my daughter, and eluded to his one of his own children’s stays in the NICU.  That was it.

Make no mistake, I still have criticisms to make.  I remain unmoved by his stance, and I think it’s a discussion that the Heathen community needs to be having.   He will, however, be treated respectfully.  His diplomacy is something I will honor, even though his opinion is something I cannot.

There is no place where frith and grith do not enter; the internet is no excuse for bad manners.

*Pun intended.

** Piranha Plant’s Lullaby for Super Mario 64, Home Sweet Home from Final Fantasy V, and Celes’ Aria from Final Fantasy VI for the curious.  By the by, I never realized how AMAZINGLY good old video game music was for babies.

*** I don’t accept the racialization of Heathenry regardless of anyone’s intent, but someone who believes such a stance is a far different animal from one who puts forward an argument that they don’t believe for no other reason than to deflect criticism.

**** That criticism stands, by the way.  I do think that the article I wrote it in represents some of my poorest work however, as I was trying to per-emptively strike down potential criticism.  What I actually achieved, however, was recklessly confusing people with my own projections.

Check me out, over at Patreon!  I have a constantly updated feed, which displays all of my work.  It also post material that didn’t make the final version there, general updates, and the like.

On a personal note…

I’d like to introduce you all to someone I just met.

Baby Evie Rose - At Birth This is my daughter, mere minutes after her birth.

This is the internet, so name and date of birth are just going to be left out of the discussion here.  Heck, I don’t even use my real name so I’m certainly not using my infant daughter’s!  All the same, this is something that I felt needed to be shared.

I could talk about how when I pray to Loki, she is one of the things I thank him for, and that is one of the reasons I’m so quick to defend his worship.  I could talk to you about how her birth was hilarious in retrospect but mildly terrifying at the time.  I could crack jokes, or come up with anecdotes about what the last eight months have been like as we’ve waited for her.

None of that does justice to what I feel in my heart.

She was born just under two weeks premature, so she has been in the NICU.  Due to this and a throat cold that had some pretty horrid timing, I haven’t spent more than two hours with her yet.  It’s frustrating, but I’m dealing.  I’m waiting.  I’m eager.

Words fail me.  Hail the Gods that helped me find my beautiful, wonderful family!  Hail my ancestors, that they might see their legacy continued!  I am as proud as a new father can be.

No Ish, Ands, or Buts.

"Bad Google!

When I ask for a screaming viking from Google Image Search?  This is what I got.  Well played, Google…well played.

As the discussion on racism within Heathenry has continued, I’ve seen a lot of legitimate griping over the use of the words “folkish” and “universalist”.  There is a lot of talk about how the terms are not useful, and only serve to denegrate opinions and perspectives on both sides of the fence.  Many will speak at lengths on the matter and how we need to drop the use of the terms, but still continue to use them.  No one even seems to know what either of these terms mean anymore, and yet everyone uses them as if the concepts are self explanatory.  I am guilty here as well, as I have had an instance where I tried to calm the tensions between two sides.  How foolish I was; I was trying to bring peace to two factions, neither of which truly exist.

Well, I am a big believer in being the change you want to see.  As such, I’m done with these terms.  I refuse to recognize the false parity of folkish and universalist anymore.   From now on, it’s just Heathen, Asatru, or Norse Polythiest and that’s the end of discussion.  Conversation is a two way street, so I imagine there is some amount of these terminology which is endemic to our faith.  Be that as it may, if I can avoid it?  I’m avoiding it.

You believe in synchretism?  You think it’s the complete antithesis of the Norse pantheon?  Congratulations; either way you’re Heathen.  You renounce Loki worship?  Heathen.  You’re a Lokean?  Heathen.  You have a UPG that makes you believe that Odin really really enjoys My Little Pony and you believe burning the DVDs in sacrifice to him is an excellent way to please him?  Uh…I’m a little scared perhaps, but you’re still Heathen.  I’m tired of the pointless and unserviceable divisions.  They don’t work, and they haven’t worked for sometime.  Honestly, I’m not convinced that they ever worked at all.

What term will I use to identify racists?.  That’s pretty simple; I will call them racists.  I don’t need special code word to describe what I already have perfectly good language for.  Racialist elements have, for too long, have the confines of triablism and folkism to hide behind.  No, sir or madem; you are not tribal or folkish.  You are just racist.  A racist Heathen perhaps, but a racist all the same.  I’m not going to pretend that disdain for “non-European” heritage is anything but racism, nor am I going to imagine that acting as a racial “gatekeeper” for the Norse pantheons is a task needed anywhere but in the fevered minds of those who craft racial agendas.  There is no special distinction needed for these concepts.  Call them for that are, and call them nothing else.

While we are on the subject, what about the racists?  I cannot abide racist ideologies in my midst.  My stepdaughter is half-Peurto Rican, I have learned Chinese martial arts from a Grenadian Grand Master, and one of the proudest family traditions I have is my ancestor’s refusal to give into the ease of prejudice.  That being said, answering hatred with hatred is no solution.  If you call yourself both racist and Heathen, I’m not going to pretend we don’t share a religion.  I’m also not going to stop fighting against an ideology I disagree with; I just don’t need to assault anyone’s name to do it.  I am opposed to your beliefs, and that is that.

If you wish to call yourself Heathen, than you are Heathen as far as I’m concerned.  It’s that simple.  If you identify as Heathen, I identify you as Heathen.  End of discussion.  Honor the Gods as the spirit moves you, praise the ancestors for the gifts they have given you, and build frith as best as you know how.  In the meantime, I’m done with the linguistic cryptology.