Ethereal Edition: To the Forgotten Unforgotten

The FogI’ve actually been doing a light amount of academic research the last few weeks, which is unusual for me.  While I respect the academic and scholarly approaches to out faith, I also think too many depend upon them too much.  Too many approach the lore as a record, rather than a finger point to the moon..and I think we damage our faith with an over reliance on the lore.

Yet, I’ve been looking over Stephan Grundy’s words on Loki and it’s been making me curious to expand out and tackle some more diverse topics.  In particular, it has stuck me by how much we have lost.  The nature of veneration for much of our faith is gone, and we are lucky to have the scraps we do in some cases.  It in this frame of mind that I offer the following.

To those who halls were not remembered,
To those who tales were not retold,
To those whose place in time was not recorded.
I offer these words.

Though your names may be lost,
My ancestors were not.
Though recount of your deeds did not endure,
Their results have.
Though your lessons have gone untaught,
Your wisdom can still be found.

To those Gods and Goddesses,
That history did not mark,
To those Heroes and Heroines,
Whose Sagas found no scribe,
To the forgotten unforgotten,
I say this.

There are those who see the empty spaces,
where once your altars were.
There are those who search dark tomes,
in the pursuit of bright names.
There are those that seek you still,
Call out to prayer on the lips on ancestors.

Today, I remember the forgotten unforgotten,
May the day of their remembrance be soon.


Heathen Ethics, Part 7: The Ten Guiding Tempers

Quite some time ago, I talked about my issues with the Nine Noble Virtues.  I had a lot of issues with them too, but that wasn’t because I was against the existence of an ethical code; I was against how the NNV was established and the role it fulfills in Heathenry today.  It was created using the Havamal as the penultimate ethical source that it never was intended to be, and it was presented as the wisdom of our ancestors when our ancestors never head heard of it.  The collected wisdom and ethical thew of our spiritual fore-bearers, reduced down to a handful of words chosen by their superficial connection to a few pieces of good advice that existed in a document that is presented as the Tao of the Norse without a single quantifying statement.*

i1232892707_1A while back, I presented a few guidelines that I thought any proper Heathen code would have to follow in order to achieve a state of practical viability.  After letting the ideas and concepts simmer for half a year,** I decided it was time to try to see what I could come up with.  I took all the material from both versions of the Nine Noble Virtues, referenced the Six-Fold Goal of the Troth***, and then separated the grain from the chaff.  I kept things informed by the manners and thew of  our spiritual ancestors, while giving them the room to breathe in modern air.  They weren’t chosen based on observance of barely relevant numerology; it’s just what felt right and it was what worked for what I was attempting to create.  No hard biases against or for any organization, philosophy, or personally relevant spirituality.  Just a code that I think will serve Heathens well.

Those were my goals at least; I can’t say whether they’ve been achieved or not.  That’s up to, well,  everyone else.

These are the ten guiding tempers, intended as guidelines for living a Heathen life that will give you an enduring name, worthwhile deeds, and a satisfying life.  The first nine are concepts and ideals that should rule your thoughts, as well as the concept or idea that you should balance it  against.  No virtue, as an absolute, will ever yield good results.  Thus each virtues is viewed through the lens of another one that helps to guide and define it.

The tenth temper is a special one, but it is also very important.  If these guidelines do not serve you well, follow the tenth temper and you’ll end up with the results you deserve.

This is not Heathen Bushido.  This is not the legacy of our spiritual ancestors.  All it represents is good advice, as seen by one Heathen, and given to any other Heathen who chooses to use it.

Courage tempers Faith: If our way does not maintain its faith, it will not endure.  If we have faith in our Gods and our communities, we will be strong.  There are times, however, when our Gods will test us and our communities are not at hand.  There will be times in the life of every Heathen when they must handle an issue greater than themselves, and where no amount of aide on physical, spiritual, and social fronts will take care of things.  Faith is your belief within things outside of yourself; courage is the faith your own heart and soul have for their own capacity.  Without courage, faith becomes weak and dependent.

Freedom tempers Courage: If our way does not maintain its courage, it will not endure.  Courage gives us the strength to face any difficulty, regards of the risks.  We are not bound, however, to face every difficulty or our lives would become a meaningless transition from struggle to struggle. Without freedom, we would be forever locked with a constant cycle of conflict without respite to enjoy the spoils of those struggles.  We have the freedom to choose the purposes to which we devote ourselves and a mandate to preserve that freedom for ourselves and our community.  Without freedom, courage leads to exhaustion and lifelessness.

Discipline tempers Freedom: If our way does not maintain its freedom, it will not endure.  The choices we make for ourselves, our families, and our communities must be choices made with agency and purpose.  While freedom is important to any Heathen, freedom unchecked by our own willpower can lead to a life without triumphs, deeds of merit, and a completely self-serving attitude.  We need discipline, control of ourselves and actions, for our freedoms to be truly meaningful things.  Without discipline, freedom leads to a lack of focus and action.

Frith tempers DisciplineIf our way does not maintain its discipline, it will not endure.  When we establish self-control, we are the master of ourselves.  Yet, our perspectives alone should never shape all of the circumstances within our lives.  If we focus to much on self-control, we can easily loose perspectives on all things are not connected to the self.  Without acknowledging our responsibilities to our communities, so much of what we do can quickly become meaningless.  Our discipline should be just as much shaped by our desire for goodwill and community as it should by our own willpower.  Without frith, discipline becomes stagnant and selfish.

Wisdom tempers FrithIf our way does not maintain its Frith, it will not endure.  The well being of our community was of central importance to our spiritual ancestors, but those communities needed more than just goodwill to survive.  The frith they built was also guided by intelligence, experience and wisdom.  Further, our societies and communities are not constructed from and limited by geographical restrictions; who we build Frith with is now completely a choice.  This changes much, and alters entire social models in the blink of an eye.  Now the entire world is at our fingertips, connect societies and communities as never before.  While this allows us to teach and learn as never before, it also gives those who speak with ignorance and greed a louder voice as well.  Now words of wisdom and intelligence are more power and meaningful than ever, for they both guide our communities as well as shape them.  Our choices must ever be guided by sound thoughts and firm understanding.  Without wisdom, frith dilutes and is quickly usurped.

Honesty tempers Wisdom: If our way does not maintain its wisdom, it will not endure.  If a Heathen is asked for their council, they should their true thoughts or none at all.  Without honesty, the sage and correct choices are harder to find and communities become easily led to infighting and ruin.     Without honesty, any piece of wisdom can be a lie and thus the nature of wisdom itself is compromised.  With but a single lie, a lifetime of advice can be render contaminated and suspect.  Without honesty, wisdom becomes foul and poisoned.

Warmth tempers HonestyIf our way does not maintain its honesty, it will not endure.  Honesty is the lifeblood of an honorable life.  Yet, without a hospitable bearing, the blood turn weak and this.  If those who are our guest are given every truth we can think of without request or consideration?  We abuse the privileges of a proper host.  Should we release our words without thought within the house of another?  We abuse the respect and consideration afforded to a guest.  While we should never lie to our quests or to our hosts, we should also respect them all the same and leave their private lives to their own device.  Warmth is a combination of many ideas: hospitality, manners, grith, and more.  All of these things have subtle differences, but they all fly under of being a good person to the souls who we trust to be honest towards and our spiritual ancestors did not grant their warmth strictly to those who were the same as they.  Without warmth, honesty turns to bitterness and callousness.

Pragmatism tempers Warmth: If our way does not maintain its warmth, it will not endure.  Our spiritual ancestors welcomed strangers, yet they were not foolish.  Those who would and have threatened them are not welcome.  They do not give more than they can afford to give, for their first loyalty is to their families.  A good Heathen is one who plans ahead.  They have prepared for the next winter before the previous one has ended, and they plan for the next harvest in the way they gather the present one.  They endure not only by their resilience of body, but also from their resilience of mind.  Long before the fight started, whether it be against robbers of weather, our spiritual ancestors prepared themselves as best they could for it.  They secured their capacity for hospitality and mindfulness with actions and plans.  Without pragmatism, warmth cannot be maintained or established.

Faith tempers Pragmatism: If our way does not maintain its pragmatism, it will not endure.  We must be ready for the unexpected and aware of the known, but we must also leave room for those things for our heart and soul.  We venerate and worship mighty Gods and Goddesses, whose capacity and influence is far greater than the legends alone would tell us.  To loose sight of that is to loose sight of those who help us, guide us, and watch over us.  We must trust those who have built good frith and warmth with us.  To loose sight of this is to loose sight of all that a community can offer.  There will be times were no amount of logic and common sense will see us through.  In these cases, we must trust our luck, our communities, and our Gods to get us through.  Without faith, pragmatism becomes bland and paranoid.

The Tenth Temper – Deeds temper Ethics:   If our way does not consider ethics, it will not endure.  Yet this is but one interpretation of the ethics of our spiritual ancestors.  If you are not satisfied with the deeds that results from the tempers?  Than change them.  Alter them.  Break them over your knee with a sickening crunch so loud that it turns the Allfather’s head.  Make them yours.  Cast them aside, and live your life by your instincts.  Your deeds are your own, and no moralistic code can ever take responsibility for them.  Never lets yourself become so dogmatic and fixated that you fail to hold your ethical beliefs up to the same standard you hold yourself up to.  Without mindfulness of our deeds and their consequences, ethics will always fail.

*While I don’t oppose the Havamal, I certain oppose how it is used by many Heathens.  The Havamal is, at best, a modestly functional compass for making educated guess about the ethical viewpoints of out spiritual ancestors.  I’ll never suggest throwing it out because it certainly has it’s uses, and one can gain some insight by considering its words.  It is not the Heathen Bible, but it still gets used as such; in function if not in name. 

**Wait, how long have I been doing this?  Yeesh.

*** I consider it somewhere between two version of the Nine Noble Virtues in terms of quality.  It’s well intentioned, and serves well as some sort of ethic infused mission statement.  It still suffers from almost all of the same problems however, and thus I didn’t think it needed a whole lot of narration to cover the pros and cons.

This is how we build community.

While I am interested in the Polytheist Leadership Conference, I’ll most likely not be attending…baring the will of the Gods; money is part of it, but I’ve also got other circumstances that complicate things. Still, I approve of anything that attempts to move us, collectively and separately, in a positive direction.

Good luck, Mr. Betkowski! With any luck I can boost the signal for you and get you a couple more bucks!

Regarding Loki, Part 7: More Uncomfortable Truths

On Feburary 13th,  Stephen McNallen made a statement in regards to the AFA’s stance on  the worship and veneration of Loki within their own organization and events.  Let me be clear that I, for one, don’t really care about the stance of the AFA in regards to the hailing of the trickster of Asgard.  I think their stance is closed minded and short sighted to be sure, but I’m not the Asa-Pope the last time I checked so they are free to establish their stances and procedures as they see fit.

What I did take umbrage at was how Mr. McNallen’s words also made subtle, but broad, pejorative assessments about those worship Loki in general.  A true statement of policy has no need to weigh in on the spiritual practices of another, and I found the remarks more than a little bit out of line.  While I might have been inclined to let some of that go, and mark it up to another area where the AFA and I just will never see eye to eye, a look at the comments that followed Mr. McNallen’s thoughts was eye opening.  While some of the comments were reasonably benign, and a handful managed to even be positive, some of what was so was so hateful, miserable, and disgusting that it demand a measured response.

So let us take a look at some of those arguments, and see how what is believed compares against logical consideration.

tumblr_m58bdm9xLH1rrtg4ko1_500What Seems to be Agreed Upon: “Our experience over the decades has been that toasting Loki or in other ways calling him to our side brings – not creative chaos, not constructive change – but ill luck. This is a matter of observation, not theory.” -Stephen McNallen
The Uncomfortable Truth: There are lots of people whose experiences have been that the AFA is an organization where bigotry and racism are acceptable.  For such people, they have a great deal of collected observation…but when they pronounce their feelings as fact?  Your words, Mr. McNallen, are seldom kind.

This is the only comment truly directed at the AFA in general, and Stephen McNallen in particular.  This isn’t a statement designed to attack the organization or it’s founder, but to politely explain where Mr. McNallen may have lost sight of how his statement compares against some of the things said about the AFA over the years.

Despite his experiences, which are no doubt vast, Mr. McNallen more than likely has not met or interacted with a vast number of Lokeans or has meaningfully partaken of a great number of rituals than include Loki.  As such, all of Mr. McNallen’s assurances fall into the realm of the anecdotal account; they represent an interpretation of the events in his own life, in a general sort of way.  Those are fine for him and his organization, if he wishes to use them, but the statement he made pushed outside of those boundaries the moment he made the above implication.  As written, it is at least a bit careless and disrespectful for those whose spirituality called them in that direction.  In addition, it’s a statement which displays a logical inconsistency.

When it comes to anecdotes, you have two meaningful options; you either accept all anecdotes as equally valid (thus making every single thing stated by groups like Circle Ansuz in dire need of a public, candid response) or you can treat them as little more than opinion (making your own anecdotes no better or worse than the next person’s, and thus really not worthy of intense consideration).  To do otherwise is to establish a double standard, and I don’t think such a structure should be welcome within Heathen ethics.  It is possible that this wasn’t mean, as a line like “observation, not theory” is particularly vague.  At the very least, there should have been a greater degree of care taken in the words chosen.

facepalmWhat Seems to Be Agreed Upon: Anyone who follows Loki is doing so as a fad, likely a result of the Marvel movies.
The Uncomfortable Truth: In two minutes or less, explain how that exact same statement can’t be made about the worship of Thor or Odin without equal validity.

This is what we can a logical fallacy.  Specifically, casual oversimplification with a little variation of ad hominem for good measure.  This is aside of the rather obvious issue that any single dismissal of Loki, via the Marvel movies, can likewise be used to slander the modern worship of Odin, Thor, Firgg, and Heimdallr.

Look guys, tumblr scares the hell out of me too; that doesn’t give you a permission slip to weigh in on another person’s spirituality and declare it meaningless simply because a lot of seventeen year old girls and boys are getting all hot and bothered by Tom Hiddleston.

23141-viking-scene-art-designWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Loki is a God of chaos, and to honor him is to honor the forces that seek to destroy civilization as we know it.
The Uncomfortable Truth: Chaos doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Look, if you choose not to venerate Loki?  That’s your choice.  If you refrain because he is a “God of Chaos”(tm), you’ve just displayed that you either don’t understand Loki, chaos, or both.

The word chaos, by definition, has very little relevance to the Loki that is depicted within the lore.  To be plain about it, Loki is no more “chaotic” than Odin, Thor, or Freya.  His actions are deliberate, methodical, and chosen for their results.  Each of these actions represents deeds performed for the interest of a long term goal.  This implies a plan, and chaos destroys plans of all sorts.  Some of these plans are ones that have catalyzed the creation of Mjonir, Gungir, Slepnir, and the Walls of Asgard.  Those are things that, by their nature, have created order in the lore.  It is thus fair to say that Loki is nothing like a God of Chaos; in truth, he is a God who frequently establishes order through unorthodox means or even forges order from chaos.

It would be fair to say that he is duplicitous in some situations. Also unquantifiable, trickster, sneaky, and a bunch of other things.   It is those exact qualities, however, that the Gods called upon in numerous myths and legends.  If they are calling upon, and even proactively utilizing, a “God of Chaos”…wouldn’t that make them chaotic by association?

And, while we are on that topic….

Pimp My RideWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Why would anyone allow Loki into our worship if he was responsible for kidnapping, murder, and betrayal?
The Uncomfortable Truth: Perhaps you should ask a similar question of Odin and Thor.

If we are taking the lore at literal value, and we usually seem to be when it comes to the Loki argument, we must take into account that Odin knew everything that going to go down long before it happened.  If you believe in the Poetic and Prose Edda as an accurate account of our lore, this requires that you view Odin’s actions through that context; he knew all that was to happen, long before Ragnarok came.  We could presume Thor to know the same, yet he asks for Loki’s assistance on many occasions.

If Loki’s existance is to betray the Gods, why does Thor confess to him that his hammer has gone missing?  Why would he accept Loki’s company on the mission to retrieve it, when a single trecherous word could doom their greatest defender and forever put his greatest weapon in the hands of the very enemies he is predicted to betray them to?  None of this makes any sense, and it’s not the only circumstances which reveals itself as curious and inconsistent.

If you choose to unconditionally reject Loki and those who hail him from your house, than you are stating that you know better than some of the greatest and most trusted Gods within our faith.  One is consider a being of nearly infinite wisdom and is the unquestioned ruler of the Aesir.  The other is held up as amongst the greatest warriors that the nine realms will ever know.  Both of them make up beings you shouldn’t really be questioning.

"Hey, gonna eat that?"

“Hey, uh…you gonna eat that?”

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: Those who worship Loki should go back to being Satanists
The Uncomfortable Truths: Those who say nonsense like that should seek the help of Gothi, for such people are having serious conversion problems.

I know this may seem like going after the low hanging fruit, but this statement pops up distressingly often.  It is not the most common rebuttal, but it also parallels the “Loki is the Norse equivalent of Satan, so why would you worship him” argument enough to kill two birds with one stone.

To the credit of Mr. McNallen, he openly addressed that issue and addressed it correctly.

If you have a serious issue with Satanism, as a Heathen, than you are in desperate need of some pastoral counseling.   Even if I give the benefit of the doubt and presume that all who worship Loki were previously Satanists?  Satanism is either a largely atheistic philosophy or focused on the cosmology that comes with a Judeo-Christian worldview.  In either case, you have no reason to care.  Satan isn’t your concern anymore and never will be again.  If you are still bothered/offended by the nemesis of a religion you have supposedly abandoned, that says more about you religious practices than it does about mine.*


“Oh man, if they think Loki’s bad? Wait til they start actually reading some of the stuff I did!”**

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: There are countless actions that Loki takes within the sagas that fly in the face of everything we know about Heathen ethics, both in modern times and in the times of our spiritual ancestors.
The Uncomfortable Truth: The same can be said of almost the entirety of the Aesir and Vanir.

Freyr gives up a weapon that would have defended him and his kin at Ragnarok in the hopes of winning a Jotun bride.  Tyr’s sacrifice was unneeded, for he could have simply killed Fenrir as a pup and saved Odin at Ragnarok in a single stroke.   Than there is Njord, who abandons the Aesir at the twilight of the Gods so he can return to Vanaheim.  Freya prostitutes herself for a necklace, even agreeing to cause strife in the world of men in order to secure it.  Nanna commits suicide, unable to face a world without her husband.  Rather than meet the giantess Skadi in honorable  combat over the death of her father, the Gods avoid the fight and marry her into their ranks instead.  Than there is just about every myth connected to Odin, wherein he does at least one thing that modern Heathenism find absolutely unacceptable.

If we’re going to play this idiotic game, than we can render just about every God in the pantheon as unworthy of worship and there is no philosophy that makes this foolishness make sense.  Somehow, no Heathens seems to have trouble recognizing all of these other deities as being more than just the scarce collection of myths we have retained of them.  We seem them as forces greater than the sum of their parts, and recognize these tales as complex and three dimensional.

Just not Loki.

If these arguments seemed weak or redundant, that is because they are and they’ve been this way for quite some time.  These, however, are the arguments that are put up on a consistent basis.  What’s even more baffling is you don’t even need any deep understanding of the lore to find where these talking points completely fall apart.  No heavy, eldrtich texts need to be translated from a dead language to understand how these things don’t work.  You seem need to be able to read, hear, and think.  Yet, this is the eternally present “Loki Debate”; a collection of barely salient points, almost all of them made by people that would seem to know better in any other situation.  Which says something very disturbing to me.  Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth of them all.

It says that the decision about another person’s UPG was made before the facts were considered.  That no knowledge was truly weighed and measured.  It all suggests that a choice was made to suit someone’s preexisting conceits, and that was that.  No questions asked and no objections entertained.  Loki is Norse Satan; perhaps not in name, but certainly in function.  That says volumes about people who parrot these arguments and raise such loud objections to a spiritual path that doesn’t effect them in the slightest.  What can we say about such a person, who would willing mock what another finds sacred while lack both motivation and understand?

What does it suggest about any other thing they say, for example; are they truly giving their hard wrought knowledge when they speak, or are they simply telling you what takes away from their comfort the least?

This is not about the AFA’s policy, a bunch of it’s members being ignorant on Facebook,  or even  Stephen McNallen having to say something that I didn’t like; at the end of the day, McNallen’s statement is just a more polite, less insulting version of a bigger issue.  If you don’t have the courage and strength to allow others the freedom to experience the joy of our  Gods in their own way?  If you lack the honor to allow another Heathen the freedom to call themselves Heathen, and would alienate them simply because their methods of respecting their spiritual ancestry do not  mirror your own?  If you are so lifeless and dogmatic that you need to toe your own party line before you offer hospitality to the spiritual beliefs of another person?  Well, I got to tell you friend…those aren’t virtues that I would be proud of.**

Bolverk’s Word Brother!  Jotun Bane’s Shadow!  Knotted Goat Dancer!
Hail the Hammer Fly!  Hail the Stallion-Bride!  Hail Asa Loki!

*I suppose there could be some Christo-Heathens out there, who have taken a synchretic approach to both the Christian and Heathen faiths.  If this describes you, I could understand you still having an issue with Satan in that case and only that case…so don’t think that I’m trying to malign you or suggest that something is wrong with you;  I’m not.  It still makes for a horrifically bad anti-Loki argument, but that isn’t a conversion problem is you’ve met it with a real sense of purpose and agency.

**Yes, that was on purpose.

Othala is Othala

So on-line Heathens and Asatruars have recently found themselves defending Othala as a symbol of hate groups.  Let’s make something clear…I am not going to talk about the Othala controversy.

Because there is none.  It’s made up.  Oh sure, Facebook banned some account for a few hours based on the fact that their administration is run by gerbils, but their actions didn’t create a controversy.  Or, rather, they created one that no one seems to be focusing on.  The contravesy is not whether the Futhark rune of Othala is or is not a racist symbol.  No one is seriously or credibly suggesting that it is.  Not the racists.  Not the folkish.  Not the Rokkatru.  Not, for the record, the butchers, the bakers, or the candlestick makers.  No one is saying this.

Except Facebook.  A complaint was issued (for some reason), and Facebook decided it was a problem because such was the will of their Cephaloid masters.  That decision has a life expectancy of roughly seven seconds in terms of precedent, and you rest assured it was made without research or fact checking.  People are acting like Othala is on trial when no one is honestly blaming it for a damn thing.  On the other side of the coin, few seem to be focusing their attention to the fact that the book that Zuckerberg built has no idea what it is doing and is essentially taking care of things completely at random.

Serriously; no one credible is actually saying that it’s a hate symbol, and this represents the one issue that racists and non-racists have agreed upon in years.  We’re taking away from the actual problem, which is that Facebook has no consistent standards on what it deems as acceptable content.  I’ve seen groups that advocate murder based on a person’s religion get a pass, while statements mocking racists are considered bigoted and is willing to ban religious symbols at the drop of a hat.  No oversight.  No accountability.  They will just do it, and we let them.

If you’re angry, stop posting pictures on the very service that is causing the problem; all you are doing is giving them web traffic, which turns into advertising dollars.  If you actually want to do something meaningful, than create a Google Plus account, move all your pictures there, and delete your Facebook after sending in a ticket on the issue.  I am dead serious.  Facebook won’t change anything until there is a finial incentive to do so.

Facebook makes money on you; that’s why it’s free.  It makes money on you via advertising, research based on your demographics, and by having continual access to your every waking thought.  It doesn’t create consistent standards on acceptable content because it doesn’t have to; no one is pushing the issue.  When it messes up, we end up blaming each other and giving it free advertising bucks in the process.  So if you have an issue with the Othala issue?  Don’t blame Heathens Against Hate, the American Asatru Association, Women of Asatru, the Racists, or any other group of people of Facebook.  Don’t blame this side or that, and don’t bring up talking point.

Blame Facebook.  Hold them responsible.  They created this problem, and it’s high time they answered for it.

Uncomfortable Truths: The Sacred Vice Delusion

Ah Google Image Search...again we dance this dance...

Ah…Google Image Search…again we dance this dance…

There are always a lot of discussions being had about divine patrons.  People ask a lot about how to find theirs, how to determine if you’re just imagining things, how to approach a deity you suspect might be expressing interest in you, what sort of offerings to make, and so forth.

What I find funny is that most people who do have a patron of some sort and have had time to sort this sort of thing out aren’t any more in the know than the people asking the questions; they’re just more used to being confused and trying to figure things out.

Absent for the list of conversational topics, however, is about how someone with a patron should act.  This is unfortunate, as there seems to be a rather large percentage of Heathens, Asatruar, Vanatruar, Rokkatruar who believe acting like an asshole is not just acceptable, but an unalienable privileged that no one has the right to question.  That, of course, is a load of bollocks so I’m somewhat surprised not many people don’t address this more often.

So let’s start up the dialogue!  First point of business: expresseing unchecked character flaws is not a form of piety.

This sounds pretty basic, but we’ve all seen example of this mentality in action.  For example, I’ve seen Thorsmen say that having their patron means they get to act like idiots, bullies, and brutes.*  We’ve all seen the Lokifolk who use their patron as an excuse to have absolutely no sense nor concept of proper etiquette except when they feel like.**  I’ve found a fair share of those who sites following Tyr as a reason to be an unforgiving blight on their communities, and I cannot be alone in this.  The trends become easy to spot after a while;  I haven’t personally encountered one, but I’m fairly certain that there are Odinspeople who act as if infidelity isn’t just forgivable but a divine mandate.

No.  No.  No.  You don’t just insult the community with that nonsense, you insult our Gods as well.  Grow up, and accept responsibility for your own person.

Not that I don’t understand the thought process.  You follow your patron.  You may meditate upon him or her.  Perhaps you partake of psychotropic drugs while doing nothing but considering them.  You may even be someone who has the capacity to act as a horse for a divine presence and you have brought them into your own person.***   As such, it may be easy to mistake your own personal failings as the thumbprint of your Gods and, wow, wouldn’t that be such a relief!  To be able to find divinity in the lowest, most loathsome parts of yourself and to find that they have a more meaningful purpose than you might have otherwise suspected.

The thing is, you don’t need to be an entitled prick with delusions of grandeur in order to find beauty in such things; the beauty is already there.  Overcome those failings, and there is even more beauty to be found.  You don’t need to use your religion and piety as a scapegoat; just be a better person.  It’s that simple.

No matter what you may want to believe, your bad behaviors belong to you and no one else.  No amount of divine patronage will magically transform vices into virtues unless that vice is actually conquered.  The Gods are creatures exclusively defined by their vices and, in many myths, those poor actions made a whole lot of sense in context to the moment.   Even if we disregard that most of the myths showed the Gods doing specific things for very specific reasons, thus making the context totally different and incomparable to 95% of the circumstances you are likely to ever face in your life?  We still are left with a belief system that turns so many of our Gods into bizarre caricatures that belong in a bad cartoon, rather than upon an altar.

Need an example?  Go read the myths that have Thor in them; he wasn’t stupid.  He was brash and impatient, but Thor was canny and clever as well.  He never went alone if he knew he needed backup, he knew to check his anger and rage when he was unquestionably unmatched, and he displayed an extremely keen sense of when was the best time to charge in and knock in some heads.  Loki did things other than sling insults, Tyr is just as much about personal sacrifice as he is justice, and there is much more to Odin than “I am in your base, sleeping with your womens.”  To be plain about it, if you’ve reduced any of the Gods to a few token aspects, you should probably go back and examine your religious and devotional practices.

So just as soon as you have your hand bitten off by a wolf to save a large number of your friends and family?  THAN you can walk around acting like a huge, entitled jerk.  Not before.

So…just as soon as you have your hand bitten off by a wolf to save a large number of your friends and family? Then you can walk around acting like a huge, entitled jerk. Not before.

If you worship the Gods, and you find a spark within your soul that leads you to follow one more so than the rest?  Treasure it.  It is beautiful, sacred, and meaningful.  It can and will change your life.

Until you loose your hand, your lips, or an eye in the process of following that path, however?  You have no business treating your poor social habits as divine mandate.  You are no better, nor any worse, than anyone else…and it’s not our job to put up with your bullshit because you have an ardent need to feel petty and special.

To put it another way, having a patron isn’t about you; it’s about them.

*Not that they say it in this exact manner but, let’s be honest, that is what they’re saying.

*I give the anti-Lokean crowd a decent amount of flak…but hey!  If any of you are reading this, know that we have this much in common: Lokeans who act like having Loki as a patron is an excuse to act like a boorish jerk-off whenever they feel like it are just as irritating to us as they are to you.  Let the healing commence.

**Than again, if you have that sort of capacity?  I probably don’t have to tell you that piety isn’t a permission slip for behaving like a tool.