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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atypical Saturday

Danassala

Danassala

That there’s my dear old Djembe. As you can see she is a bit the worse for wear… yet somehow still manages to sound quite good.

The other night while I was up painting, the neighbours came over to invite me to a Hindu Goddess shindig. A couple of years ago after they’d first moved in there, we were sitting around discussing some images they had on the walls. Hindu can be a *very* broad church, you see. They also asked about my beliefs. I wasn’t sure how the whole “witch” deal would go down, and they’d read Dan Brown so I simply said I was a Goddess worshipper which was very true. It seemed to be something we had very much in common, a respect for the earth and the feminine principle of fertility and generosity. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a male fertility and generosity, but that’s simply not what we were tuned in to at the time.

Anyways, when they came over the other night, Punja made a point of emphasising that it was all about the Goddess and being very grateful for their new home and the blessings of life in general. It might have been mainly one of those “invite the neighbours so they won’t call the cops on you” deals, but when asked about drumming they said yes there would be drumming and I was most welcome to bring mine.

Saturday day I’d been down to catch up with all my witchy girls and everyone was commenting on my brilliant energy. Thanks very much to a French Shaman who’s been doing a bit of work on me. Amazing work, I must add! Something that could have and should have been fixed years ago, but who else would have known how to do it? Considering all the prayers and blessings and healings I’ve had from many and various sources over the years, some of whom thought they were absolutely the wasp’s nipples but did bugger all but make a lot of noise.

The chief high scary fairy asked what was going on. I told her I’d found a God. Heh. She laughed.
“Such a difference since when you first came. You would have castrated any God who came within coo-ee of you.” LOL
“With a rusty razor blade” I replied. They were all raised eyebrows to hear that it was Odin who’d reached in to turn things around. Yes, it is the frame that everything needed and it is obviously working very well.

It was a great catch up. We were all talked out by mid afternoon and I was feeling quite satisfied. The Saturday evening event was in the back of my mind, but since it seemed quiet I wasn’t sure what was happening and didn’t want to barge in. Over the last few weeks and particularly over Beltaine I’ve had a very transitional energy going on and lots of changes. There were a couple of events I was invited to and missed out on because my energy wouldn’t have contributed to the group. It was very disappointing to miss a highlight like Beltaine. In addition I was feeling peeved after falling out with a big wig in the nearest Asatru Garth and am probably uninvited to any of their stuff, which left me feeling very high and dry. The invitation was a welcome surprise and in one way a real indicator of the forces that are at work in my life at the moment. So despite my uncertainty, it was an invitation I could not refuse.

At about 10.30 I eventually decided to go and find out what was happening. Turns out they were all up the back of the house, drumming and singing away before a beautiful red and gold decked shrine of the Goddess Amba. It was magnificent. She is dressed beautifully, with eight arms holding all sorts of things including weapons, and riding a tiger. There were all manner of offerings laid out before her, a halved coconut, large trays piled high with fruit, sweets and other lovely things. The only thing I could think of to bring was some coriander from the garden and incense, which were well recieved. The energy of the celebration was deeply impressive, almost tangible. The nearest link I can find presently is for Durga. Hope to have some more pics of the night shortly.

For some time I hung around down the back of the crowd. LOL A few dozen Indian folks and one Eastern Asian looking woman and I was the only white chick in the place. And man, have I never felt so white! Haha. :-) They were all dressed beautifully too. It was really impressive how pretty they all were. Really pretty, men and women, young and old both. Must be like walking onto a Bollywood set with all the colours and jewellery. Crowds of people, sweat and perfume, and you’re in the midst of it all. Goddess warmth.

The welcome was memorable. No one looked twice really, except to smile at me. No one questioned why I was there or what I thought I was doing. No one bothered that I wasn’t of the “right” race to be attending to the Goddess. No one asked about my efforts in the Hindu faith to be welcomed into the ceremony. To be honest, their hospitality rather put me to shame. And most of all there were no strings. No expectation of conversion or other demonstration… I was there to contribute to the worship and that was all good. Heh. In a way with the mix we were having a serious Indo-European devotion. :D

The musicians were quite good and since I haven’t played for a while, and certainly not anything Indian, I hung back despite the hostess wanting to drag me up in front of everyone and introduce me. Eventually she had her way and it all fell into place surprisingly well. The drummer offered an idea where to start. He said “1… 2… 3… 4…” Hehe. :D In Indian drumming it isn’t so straightforward. Eastern drummers can use all sorts of strange signatures that our westernised ears don’t pick up well if we’ve grown up on top 40 radio. Fortunately I haven’t ;-)

Anyways, it was sink or swim, so I picked a simple line from what he started with and away we went. And it flew! At the end of the first track I was feeling quite a bit more confident. He gave me a thumbs up. What he actually said was “You play very well and I can really use the support.” Wow. So, that’s how we played. I nailed down the rhythm and he went off. They had said they expected it to go till around midnight. Needless to say we were still going well after 1.

It’s incredible how drumming can carry you away. Early on before joining in playing, simply rocking and clapping in time to the music with everyone else, I had a vision of her… She was laughing, smiling at me. Quite happy to acknowledge that I was there yet not “one of hers” so to speak. She actually said to me that Frigga wanted me, and laughing, reached out and touched my head where the bindi would be. I wasn’t in the same devotional bag as everyone else there, but it didn’t matter since I was there to participate and it was very much considered A. Good. Thing.

At the end of the night there was dinner and the offerings from the altar were divided up and distributed amongst the attendants. It was explained to me as sharing in the blessings of the Goddess. That was neat to participate in that. Whether she be known by a Hindu name or in a different manifestation as Freya, Nerthus, Gaia or even simply Earth Mother, it’s a spirit worth acknowledging. For some time I’ve been on and on about participating respectfully in the life of the planet, and this was another iteration of that idea. A very enjoyable one, too. Might have to head up to the Sri Durga temple up the road some time and drum with them. Until enough mad Heathens turn up around here to form a drumming circle.

The Gods and Goddesses of the ancient pantheons still surprise me how open they can be. No doubt not every one would be in the same frame of mind as Amba, but things are very different to the crawling, rules and distance that I’d grown up with. And things are happening.

Well, I’ve hardly had any sleep and as you can tell my mind is going a million miles an hour. LOL Things will probably be a bit wild for a little while, as that repairing the Shaman did takes effect…

Whew. Heh. How good is this!! And what a change from the last few months. I really do need some sleep ;-)

Re-renewing?

This year has been absolutely the worst experience with depression ever, and I’ve had some bad ones. I’d write that I feel like I’m emerging from it but I thought that in early October too and turned out to be wrong. It’s probably simply another matter of biding my time and letting everything do what it needs to. Whether I understand what “everything” is or not.

Since April I’ve been wrestling the worst and blackest experience of emptiness and deep, deep misery. Fortunately there are odd occasions when the sun comes through. Like the present. I’m told that it’s “transitional”. There’s simply more stuff lingering around from past experiences that needs some sort of psychic regurgitation to feel dealt with. What I have is not simply depression but Borderline Personality Disorder that looks (and feels) a lot like PTSD. Rather than extending from an episode of trauma in the adult life, it develops during childhood.

The idea that all of this is somehow hard wired because of being a result of childhood trauma has been, pradoxically, a relief. There’s a kind of legitimacy now. Someone else gets it, which means that although I’m mental and it is all in my head, it is also very real.

The future is not “dealing with it” or “getting over it” or even really “moving on”. It’s management. Coping with life and people and nothing more. This way of thinking is providing some space for me currently to take a breath and look at what changes I’d like to make and how I might go about such. This is something I’d categorise as A Good Idea. I don’t care what Satan’s little helpers over at News Limited think of this perspective. Anyone who makes money out of exploiting people who are struggling with psycho-spiritual questions and mental illness deserves what’s coming to them. That means you too, Rudd. Bloody Sydney Anglicans.

In the midst of all of this, I’m trying my own little tricks within my own worldview that gives me access to magic and witch craft. Without going into too much detail, good, healthy male archetypes and a solid sense of self empowerment and self-control are not only beneficial but effected through magic ritual. Developing healthy male and female archetypes is obviously going to be a challenge and a help to someone dealing with child abuse. A male who isn’t necessarily an agent of destruction and a female capable of independence and, well, capability… Bring on the ancient deities. (BTW, anyone need a friend for Beltaine?)

I’m not sure how much to write about the internal stuff. I’d like to rant on about every little thing I’ve been experiencing lately spiritually, but that seems somehow to cheapen it.

After reading Richard Dawkins I must admit I was deeply influenced. Heh, I even became facebook friends with P Z Meyers because I appreciate the critical thinking of Atheism. Meyers’ wit makes me want to convert. :D However, I need a world view that will help me make sense of my own experiences, so there needs to be some scope for either something like a quantum mechanical collapse of super consciousness… Like that proposed by Amit Goswami, or a collective unconscious such as proposed by Jung. Since mainstream religions don’t do it for me, and even supposed alternatives based on Hinduism and Buddhism can somehow import a lot of right-wing judgmental assumptions into “new age” belief systems, it’s right back to the drawing board for me.

Witch craft provides the option of the eclectic. Take what you need and leave what you don’t. Together with some Uni training, this provides the space to read and research and measure theories against one’s own experiences this is very liberating! Some might opine that this disconnects an individual from any organised or authorised moral code, and nothing outside such a system could really be legitimate. The problem is that such “authorised” belief systems these days unfortunately include an awful lot of assumption and enforced emotional attachments through psychological manipulation and conditioning.

That’s why there’s little point engaging a religious person who feels that abortion is wrong because a foetus is vulnerable. Every human who’s physical existence can be threatened by another person or circumstances is equally as vulnerable as the unborn foetus. The trouble is that forcing a woman to give birth to a child she can’t feed and who won’t be supported socially is going to maintain the vulnerability not only of the child but will potentially endanger the rest of the family as well. But the emotional conditioning in organised religion and particularly in the kind of right-wing charismatic conservative thinking so prominent in the West today detrimentally affects the thinking of a person who may otherwise want to question the assumptions taught to them about such values or situations. Emotional conditioning, overlearned stereotypes, social conformity… It’s a lot of overhead to try to deal with in order to discuss personal choices.

If you’re going to step out from under the umbrella (or jackboot) of authorised moral thinking, you’re going to be going out on a limb. If you’re dealing social and personal management issues you’re half way out there already. It’s a big responsibility getting your head around a way to understand the Universe. That might be why the myth of the long, dark night seems to continuous in human experience. From the Mithraic last supper, death and resurrection, to the christian version of same, to Odin hanging on the world tree for nine days seeking wisdom… Doing the psycho-spiritual crisis and reinvention is clearly no novelty for the human animal.

And I’m going to use that to segue clumsily into a reference to my current reading on Saxon (not Anglo-Saxon) history and spirituality, and the contemporary Heathen reconstructions of Norse and Saxon spiritualities. Because Odin is cool ;-) (Heh, for me. For the moment.(Spot the theology student!))

Where all this goes, who knows? It’s keeping my head above water. I do actually feel like there are some constructive changes going on somewhere in there. Stay tuned for the next rant… :D

Back to my roots

Whew. After all the Feminist (or Womanist if you prefer) blogging in recent weeks, it’s back to a consideration of me time. Trying to exist without too much reference to the patriarchy and its abuses can leave you pretty worn out. It’s so very difficult to do. To insulate one’s self from messages of diminishment or denigration takes a full time effort and often leaves you alone in the lounge room, lonely and unplugged. The filtering of patriarchal infused advertising and media is likewise tiring.

Hence, time to renew meditation practise and do a few decent little rituals of renewal and grounding. Yum.
Artio
Today I’ve been cruising teh ‘nets and catching up on the witchy blogs. The blogroll is updated with some curious little oddities encountered during said venture.

You might get a laugh out of Godchecker. That’s their Celtic page…