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.
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…
I 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.
I 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.
** 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.
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