Bear versus the armchair viking association

Where to start? LOL Anyone who’s investigated Heathenism or Asatru is probably aware that there are small pockets of white supremacists using Asatru and Odinism and Heathen as cover for their retrograde attitudes. It’s a real problem in Australia, they seem to control all the mailing lists.*

A while ago I was joining up and sussing them out. Left most of them because I don’t enjoy constantly engaging homophobic he-man armchair vikings. I want to join a Heathen or Asatru discussion list to hear opinions about Heathen spirituality. In Australia you get some nutter quoting conservative christians or muslims to support homophobia. Great.

Last night I was having another wee tantrum and mentally composing a “fuck you all, see you in Hel” email that I was going to retire on, and return to my Solitary practice.

“That’s it! I’m now officially Agnostic!” I bawled as I stamped my widdle tooties and pouted. “To Hel with these white supremacist neanderthals!”

I could almost feel Thor huffing at me. “Oh really? After all this time needing my help and protection, now you don’t believe in me?” Freya for her part was somehow giving me a big warm hug. I’m a bit bi so a warm hug from a wonderful Goddess like Freya is all the more welcome for the innuendo. The night before I’d felt something similar. An encouragement to trust in the Universe, trust in the Aesir and Vanir. They’ve led me well so far…

This morning it occurred to me that the Aesir and Vanir probably don’t want their followers stuck in the past recreating and repeating the same old mistakes. Why should there not be room for us to grow, learn and evolve? It’s not as if there’s enough info to comprehensively recreated ancient Saxon or Norse culture anyway, the christians did too much damage when they forcibly converted the North. And that’s a whole ‘nother post in itself, the internal incongruity of christianism.

It pisses me off when people act as if we should be as true as possible to bronze age society, as a cover for being homophobic and conservative. When they quote brutal religions to support their ideas it seems simply ridiculous. Why would you leave christendom for something you think is better, only to bring along so much harmful cultural baggage? Surely if you’re going to go to the trouble of redefining your spiritual perspective, you’d go the last few steps of reviewing the effects such religious pathology has had on your understanding and values? Why use ancient Greco-Roman purity codes and household codes if you’ve swapped to Heathen or Paganism? Jordsvin has a fantastic article discussing all this, btw.

Another problem is that with these throwback ideas is that the same post-christian anglo social construct, which rejects homosexuals and defines masculinity as violent and militaristic, subverts women. He-men are often defined in contrast to sex class women who serve only as disposable incubators for the next generation of “warriors”. Any trait or expression culturally defined as feminine or effeminate is rejected as being unworthy.

Considering there’s quite a bit of evidence for cross-dressing and other “effeminate” behaviour in cultic worship of deities like Odin and Ingvi-Freyr, and stories of Loki and Thor cross-dressing, not to mention the sense of humour the ancient Saxons and Norse seem to have had, it’s a wonder anyone who’s seriously homophobic or misogynist would even consider Heathenism.

Well anyways. There are plenty of others out there who want to deepen their experience and understanding of Heathen spirituality without resorting to retrograde neo-nazi bullshit. You can’t always walk away from discussion groups that are dominated by such lunatics, where would you end up?

*Possibly because Australian culture is still so androcentric. You know, home of “Damned whores and God’s police”.

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Moot

Tonight I went to my first Heathen Moot in Melbourne. Though there were only four of us it was a great night! And isn’t that where all great moots start? The rest of the group are involved in a small Garth based in Melbourne.

We met in at the Victoria Hotel and sat around for about an hour chatting about stuff… It was interesting, someone dropped a quiet comment about “no racism” and made me laugh, everything was out in the open then and we were all quite happily non-discriminatory. None of us saw the point in trying to tell the Goddesses and Gods whom they should call or not.

After that it was dinner at a Korean restaurant and a bit of discussion about coming out of xianity or similar and into the openness of Pagan and Heathen spirituality. There was a bit of discussion about runes and about the possible direction of “alternative” spiritualities in Australia… with the observation that a lot of people exploring Paganism and Heathenism these days seem to be fairly young. What tools and ideas are we going to make available for them?

Obviously I’m a big fan of leaving things fairly open so that people can have access to enough reading or experience to satisfy their curiosity and find their own path. It worries me in some circles to see the emergence of a kind of literature that is emotionally provocative, in some cases it sounds like the hellfire and brimstone preaching of christendom. Not something children need to be exposed to in any religion IMHO…

Which leaves us lots more to go on with at the next one :D

Now I know two garths and am really pleased about it. Yay!

Directions

Happy Summer, btw. :D

Well, the past week has been interesting. Following my meditation on the Othala rune, ‘estate’ that can also refer to inheritance, I had some curious experiences. In summary some aspects of my life have been clarified for me. There’s pretty much a grounded sense now about my identity, a feeling of “You Are Here”.

When you shift around a bit between groups and interests you end up being pretty eclectic and also a little compartmentalised. It can be a bit of a challenge to pin yourself down, especially when others seem to have a particular passion, interest or vocation/career that they use as an anchor for their identity… what do us floating eclectic types do?

I find myself back with Ansuz, and Freya. I find myself feeling more certain about who I am and what I do. I find myself accepting the place I’m in and person that I am currently to be an acceptable starting position for moving forward to experience more of life and learn more about the shall we say ‘spiritual options’ available to me.

Not at all what I’d expected from runic studies… No, that’s not quite true, it simply isn’t what was expected of this particular meditation. It has, however, built on the recent transition and growth in a very positive way. Grounding is always useful. Particularly in a post modern consumer world where we’re being pushed and pulled emotionally all over the place by various influences. “Start Here” is kinda helpful. In another way it has completed or at least furthered the answer to questions of meaning that have been lingering and torturing me for quite some time.

It isn’t an attachment to any particular construct or organised system of thought. It does, being runic, fit in my exploration of my new Asatru faith…. and it is as mentioned another constructive step forward. And it is offering a platform for further experience in areas I’d only vaguely trialled previously.

After resolving the meaning question, I guess I kinda expected that so many other areas of my life would fall into place. That hasn’t happened yet, and there’s still plenty of requirement for management and filtering, however there’s some sense and purpose to the whole thing now. Not to mention a future.

Moving forward is always good. This feels very good. Heh, a bit Raidho, really.

Bath day kittens update.

Hehe. It’s a reference to some history I came across during the week… though for someone with a reputation as a bit of a hippie it may be relevant. =D And it’s still raining!! Hail Thorr!! This is fantastic. If it keeps up we’ll get a crop of cucumbers afterall. Lying awake listening to the sound of rain on the roof is truly one of the most exquisite experiences of life. Even if the wind is giving the roses a hiding.

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Some photos of my gorgeous tom Mephistopheles. He was one of the kittens that was dumped down the drain out front of our house last xmas. The other one went to a new home, but this little guy stayed. Despite having him fixed when he was 4 months old he’s still managed to grow into quite a tom. He brought his first dead sparrow into the house last week (Grrr…) and has a voice on him like that guy from System of a Down.

When he was dumped he was so young that his eyes were still blue and he could barely walk, though that may have also been because he was skin and bones. Poor little bugger. His first birthday is considered to be next Thursday, roughly. Partly decided upon because that would make him a Sagittarius which rather suits him. He’s a real knockabout kind of character and athletic, as well as being the only cat I’ve ever seen fail to land on his feet after rolling off my lap one day LOL. He can, however, jump off the roof quite effectively.

But he loves a smooch. Any time I sit still for more than 5 minutes he appears from nowhere, purring like a four stroke, and wants a cuddle. (Sitting on my lap as I type…) How delightful. Eats like nobody’s business too of course.

There are two black cats sharing the house, Desdemona Crowfeather and this bloke Mephistopheles. When they were registered the council clerk had to ring us to check the names LOL. In case we get any more black cats I have names up my sleeve, fairly predictable things like Beelzebub and Lilith, but two are enough especially when they’re moulting.

In case you’re wondering that’s the beanbag we’re sitting on at 2 in the afternoon on Saturday. I’ve discovered IM, and spent Friday night sitting up way too late chatting and drinking beer, as you do.

While I’m waffling I’ll link a plug for the Nine Worlds Asatru forum over on Delphi. It’s pretty quiet at the moment but there’s a history there and some interesting discussions… perhaps it can be resurrected?

After reading about Norse poetry protocols yesterday, I noticed with interest that someone suggested erotic poetry as an offering to Freya. Don’t panic, I’m not going to subject you to any examples… but doesn’t it sound like a great idea!

New references for contacting other Asatruar:

Melbourne Heathen Moot though they have links with the Odinist group that I’m not really part of…

and the FaceBook Australian Heathen group.

Now for that bath… :D With sage and marjoram from the garden I think, since it’s Spring.

Music and poetry

While following links today I came across Ingeborg’s site and particularly the page on Norse or Germanic style poetry. Since poetry makes a good offering to the Aesir and Vanir it seemed appropriate to learn some of the cultural forms… and they weren’t what I expected.

Pursuing other links, in the music realm, Viking metal came across my path =D This is no doubt old news to other Heathens, but I’m enjoying it quite a bit. Remember the metal heads from Finland who won Eurovision a couple of years ago? It’s a bit like that but there’s orchestration and some folk song melodies involved, so there’s a corn factor, but it’s quite listenable. Examples include Turisas, Ensiferum, and Korpiklaani. Not all the lyrics are in Scandinavian languages so you get the benefit of listening to music with a Heathen bent. Great fun.

Following some rune reading yesterday, there hasn’t been any family knocking on my door (Edit: It happened later that night LOL) but there have been some interesting events relating to lifestyle. In Paganism, where I lingered for a while betwixt xianity and Heathenism, there was some cross over with the kink scene… You’d get Pagans who were also into S&M. Without going into too much detail, it’s an area of interest. The thing is though that Heathenism is such a life-affirming religion the kink scene seems incongruent with some of the energy, if you like, of the spirituality. The concept of, say, Goddess worship, doesn’t translate with quite the same potential as it would in an area like Dianic Wicca or eclectic Paganism. And if you really want to grovel you’re going to have to stick with christendom for forms.

A friend was considering some of the aspects of Female dominance and we were wondering about the psychology of such a thing. Obviously there’s some archetypal imagery going on there. Perhaps the balancing of the sacred Female with the last gasp of the patriarchy that tried so desperately to destroy Her image? This is more Marion Zimmer-Bradley and Diana L Paxson than Dan Brown btw… though despite his being ridiculed in many circles I for one appreciate that he raised the subject.

Diana L Paxson was comparing Freya to Cybele in an article… (though not with the same perspective I’m taking) and if that’s the case then perhaps there’s some room for a bit of fun. Particularly if you consider that in comparison with some of the former worship of Freyr. Anyways, it’s something to explore.

Home

It would be neat to have a photo of a redhead to go in here. Edit: Found one! LOL Since I’ve been doing Blot for Thorr I keep seeing redheads everywhere. Wonderful! Going from monotheism, though it be some time ago now, to polytheism is an interesting move. For one thing, there are plenty of Heathens (Heidhni?) who feel a strong affiliation for one Goddess or God… Yet almost everyone worships all the Aesir and Vanir at appropriate times, not to mention respect for landwights and ancestors. All of elohim seems to be well covered. ;-)

Currently I’m feeling this great affinity with Thorr. He’s a protective influence but without being smothering or dominating. Feels wonderful. The situation raises some questions about whom I’m following or who is doing the directing of all the little coincidences that are piling up in my life. Getting to know the Goddesses is also worthwhile, though admittedly I haven’t been doing as much of that consciously.

Most Heathens write about their Goddesses and Gods being ‘elder kin’ rather than slave drivers. They’re not jealous, controlling or foul tempered. Nor is one expected to give up control of one’s own life in service to them or for any other reason. The connection feels much more like a partnership relationship. This approach reminds me of the subject of process theology, whereby the will of the individual was theoretically rehabilitated and seen as useful, to be engaged in the development of spirituality as distinct from the ‘I am an unworthy worm and I submit unquestioningly’ school of worship. If you’ve read any of Aleister Crowley’s thoughts you’ll recognise an ironic influence here.

At this point it should be mentioned that there were a variety of views on God in christendom, there were plenty of sources to point to Jesus’ God being Fatherlike, with the unfortunate shift in practise toward him appearing more as an abusive father… There’s such difference between what I was studying in theology at Whitley and what seems to pass for popular belief in xianity. All up I spent 9 1/2 years in that study, and I can tell you I saw an enormous diversity! I have no regrets regarding dumping christendom, however I feel obliged to acknowledge the open mindedness and hard work of the professors at Whitley. Embracing Heathendom is probably not the outcome they expect for most students, however, if you’re analysing faith and belief, why remain subject to a faith that was forced on you if it isn’t working for you and has been quite harmful?

Getting to know the Aesir and Vanir is not as much of a challenge as it would seem without the kind of authority that ‘scripture’ is touted to be. There’s plenty of scope for one’s own experience and development in relationship and as mentioned above they aren’t jealous about these things. This is rather something new for me, the realisation that although I’m currently feeling this great sense of Thorr’s presence, it doesn’t infringe on my awareness of Odin or Freya at work in my life. And Odin is very much at work!

Last night after all the family related stuff came up again, specifically thinking about adoption and life on the margins, I went to bed in something of a temper. Feeling rather despondent… Funny how that seems to be becoming a sore point. When I was younger it was simply a fact of life. Now it bothers me when people are discussing family and origins. I’m more and more reluctant to have the subject arise in conversation. Anyways, I went to bed early and was feeling considerably unhappy about my circumstances. The conversations about family and origins had lifted the lid on a whole seething mass of unresolved issues. Odin seemed to say to me that this would be something to deal with. I was not happy and laughed at him sourly “I deal with this every damn day!” Then in Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad which I was re-reading for about the fourth time, the page opened to a mention that witches never run away from things they fear. Pffft. Synchronous events can be confronting at times.

Today while reading further on runes and runelore, I dived into an essay about Othala, the rune of inheritance, family connections, lands… All the background of humanity that comes to you down through the generations. Needless to say it felt rather like I was having my nose rubbed in it. Meditating on this rune and exploring it’s importance in my life should be fun… for a given value of fun. LOL. Probably connects substantially with the experience of the land claiming me that I was recounting in yesterday’s post.

Suffice it to say that if any information about my origins comes to light now, after years of searching and invariably heartbreaking dead ends, it would be a bloody miracle. I’m not sure if that’s what the Allfather has up his sleeve, is anyone, ever? Anyways, it’s certainly an intense journey.

grey days

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Well, prayers seem to have been answered. We had a bit more rain overnight and it’s a lovely overcast, damp day. Beautiful and restful. Now if only I can get my son out the door and off to school I can get into some meditation or something LOL.

This week I’ve been doing a fair bit more reading on runes and history. It’s really interesting the way it’s all developing and sinking in. Some time ago the perception area was all shut off because I was picking up too much of other people’s stuff and had little way of filtering it all. Returning to it, particularly in this present context of Heathenism and with what I’ve learnt in the meantime, is a lot of fun.

The spirit walking is going very well. It doesn’t take much now to sit for a while and drift into another awareness, a little like the guided meditations one does, except the guide is not a CD ;-) Different animals are also beginning to make an appearance now. Initially at least, it’s tempting to explore those as symbols as in dream interpretations. This includes some of the things they say. It seems that much of trance work has quite a bit in common with dreams, or lucid dreams if you like.

One coincidence has raised the issue of community again. This is always difficult to deal with, as people tend to look askance at those on the fringes and wonder why we’re all so bloody anti-social. The combination of realising that most of constructed culture is not all that wonderful anyway, and being hypersensitive to things like body language or emotional messages… perhaps also spiritual perception, means that all the ‘culture critics’ from poets and artists through to goths and emo kids, really don’t feel like part of things and it’s a legitimate POV.

Human society has always had outsiders on the fringes. In some cultures there’s the overlap between mental illness and holiness, the spiritual fool. There’s one infamous climbing joke that says when you go to certain countries you simply carry climbing gear, like an ice axe, in view. People then know you’re a climber and therefore mentally unstable, so you don’t get hassled. ;-)

For someone who’s spent the first 40 something years of their life as a wanderer on the face of the earth, the whole mess of human community looks like exactly that. A mess. Some time ago a friend lent me a very old book about “a place for you”, written by some 19th century French philosopher or theologian or some such. He was talking about the number of people he encountered in his counselling who had “no roots”. They wandered, it seemed, and never could settle down. These days we’d probably attribute it to some dysfunction or other, but it’s interesting to note that this had been observed and also noticed to be a permanent situation, even that long ago.

In all the reading that I’m doing regarding the whole Heathen trip, groups, ethnicity, origins and community keep coming up. It alternates between being amusing and at times painful. I guess if you grew up knowing the story of where you came from and had links to those origins then it would make sense for it to be an important part of your identity. And no doubt, something that would be very threatening to question, as any questioning of identity is. If you change then who are you? Those kind of questions can be profoundly unsettling.

For myself the whole issue is a life long experience. This lack of roots is something that I’ve had to learn to manage. And management (again) is pretty much all it is. So when people with families are looking at their origins and considering them in terms of how they fit in the life of the planet, it’s fascinating to see what they consider important. But it’s also a mark of difference. Simply looking in the mirror and seeing what’s apparently a white face doesn’t provide the feeling of connection with any particular ethnic heritage… and reading discussions about it often increases the awareness of a lack of such connection.

In my own experience, there was a formative moment a few years ago… No doubt I’ve written about it previously, but it provides some basis for where I am at present. Sitting at the top of Mt Arapiles after seven pitches, with a bloke who’d just arrived at Araps the day previous. I’d been camping there for the best part of a month and was as filthy and feral as it gets. He probably had a shower that morning. He’s 20, a chemistry student with his life planned out, I’m 40 odd with no plans at all past getting back to camp. He comes from a valley in Austria and knows his parents, grandparents etc. from around that area, and I come from the flat inland of Australia with no idea (at that stage) about any of my origins. We sat there sharing an orange after the climb and talking about his chemistry studies. As I looked out over the Wimmera in the shimmer of heat haze, it was as if the land claimed me. I felt suddenly that I was of the same substance as this land, this dirt… and not only because of being covered in it! There’s a theory I’ve read about Aboriginal understanding of the land, that you don’t own it, but in a way it owns you. You come from it, live in it and eventually return to it…

That was probably the most grounding experience I’ve felt. It put me in connection with something concrete about where I came from and who I am. Dirt, basically. (Explains a lot about my priorities for housekeeping ;-)) It seems quite a bit different to people who connect themselves with their origins via families and culture.

So I guess all this is something I’m simply going to have to journey with. Other people aren’t going to up and separate from their families, and even if they did, would be vastly different again from having been uprooted as a child… There’s a term in heraldry, ‘eradicated’. When an oak or other plant is shown uprooted or disconnected, it is referred to as eradicated. That’s me, and that’s the way I’ve been all my life… Going from one to the other would be complex and incomplete as an adult.

No doubt there have always been “wanderers” and will continue to be. With all the peculiar feelings and experiences that involves. It might also be part of the reason for such a spiritual search. Adopted people are apparently reknowned for being interested in those connections. Still, it’s family of a sort and something constructive to get you by in this nutty world. It’s probably Odinic.