Archive | April 2013

The Metaphysics of Symbel

Worth reading as a deeper examination of the spiritual side of Symbel.

Articles on Fitness and Anger Management

I generally do not post articles by themselves but I think that these are worth reading and the fitness one worth remembering.  I have found fitness really helps anger management as well.

The importance of lifelong and consistent fitness:

The effectiveness of anger management (UK focussed)

Personally, I am trying to meet the goal of 5-6 times a week mixing boxing, running and walking but any approach will help.

A quote and adjustment on where my practice falls

Relating back to this post:

I saw the following on Tumblr (on which I do not have an account)

I’m “recon-derived” or “post-recon”, which basically means I like my academic books and articles and doing a lot of research, but also my UPG and personal doxa and woo.

Expect a mix of recon-ness and mysticism. I’m not 100% in either direction. 

I would adjust as follows:

I’m “recon-derived” or “post-recon”, which basically means I like my academic books, articles, scientific works, doing a lot of research, philosophy (heavily the Greco Roman moralists)  but also my UPG and personal doxa and woo.

Expect a mix of recon-ness, philosophy and rather internal mysticism. I am a bridge, or try to be. 

For the Boston Marathon – A prayer

To Lady Eir, I ask that you guide those that heal the wounded and give them wisdom and strength.

Heimdall, grant your vision to those who hunt and protect that they may see what must be seen.

Odin, grant those who hunt all of your cunning to outwit their foes.

Freya, put battle fetters on the enemy that they shall fight poorly

Tyr, grant justice to those murdered and their families.

Hail the Gods

Hail the Fallen

Kinship Masterpost

I believe this analysis of kinship ties to my most recent thoughts. The idea that we are not just individuals and that our actions have larger consequences.

Caught in Loki's Harrow

I went looking into the histories of prechristian Scandinavian cultures assuming the hardest thing to deal with would be the sexism.

It’s not. It’s run of the mill sexism. Women’s lives are constrained in ways to do with the culture’s concerns about paternity. Some women find their status onerous, some women find their role ennobling, some act within it, some push its boundaries. There is nothing especially difficult or shocking about it. Sexism isn’t required to worship in certain way or to build a devotional relationship with female or domestic gods.

BUT There is a different concept that I didn’t expect, that is turning out more troubling to me. Partly because I value some aspects of it and devalue others – it puts its unintended consequences right in front of my eyes. It seems to demand digestion from me – a barrier to be dealt with before I can move…

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As my last two posts show, I have been thinking about our faith and how it is seen by outsiders as well as how we treat each other.  In the past week or more, I have seen a lot of things that upset me:

1)      What I sometimes call the more “Right wing” of our faith attacking the more “Left wing”, some of whom are friends of mine.  (I have actually managed to make friends across the spectrum).

2)      Someone on a heathen list supporting a brutal act of terrorism and comparing it to our soldiers.

3)      Multiple discussions of the SPLC and US government classifying variations of heathenry as violent extremists by lumping us in with groups NOONE I know would support.

4)      People who claim to be evidence based acting on rumors and falsehoods while demanding proof from others.

5)      People clearly not BOTHERING to actually reach out and talk to each other.

In between all of this, I have had conversations with non-heathens (including multiple Jewish friends) about things like the SPLC and government reports, et cetera.  One thing stuck with me from one of my friends.  They talked about the need, in their world, for false positives.  She talked of walking in NYC and seeing swastikas in chalk on a building.  While she was sensitive to how those false positives might hurt my feelings as a heathen, it was necessary to her survival.  My other Jewish friend admitted to frustration that I cannot openly display my faith in the USA, the one place where I should be able to.  I have to consciously choose to hide my beliefs at work or soft pedal them heavily.

Luckily, heathens I know and do not have also written me wonderful things in this time that have buoyed my spirit.

So, where is all of this leading?  It is leading to a question.  What responsibility do we carry for those who say they are acting in the name of our faith but whose actions do not match what we feel our faith is about?  I do not claim to have a complete answer and it is a challenge for many faiths.  I can say we need to have an answer that many of us agree on.

I will start with what my father taught me: “Be hard on the problem, soft on the people.”  I know people on multiple sides who detest each other even though they have never met.  I see the value in both.  There are those who support extremism and racism who I oppose, but for the rest I intend to listen and work to someday get them to see.  At this very moment, I am corresponding with people who have said harsh things about my friends out of ignorance.  It is my hope, in time, to show them that things are not as simple as they choose to believe.

For now, meditate on this and find your answer.  You need to have one, whatever it may be.


OR – UPG versus very strict Recon

I have been a practicing heathen for well over ten (10) years and have seen a lot of strife, condescension and stupidity in that time with some of it directed at me or my friends.  It is, in fact, why I almost never call myself Asatru but rather Heathen.  I had early experiences with people telling me we were wrong to celebrate our sumbels a certain way that I felt was only proper due to hospitality.  More recently, I see tremendous strife between two poles which I will call the strict reconstructionist Map and Compass side (the Right, for this case) and a very UPG (Unverifiable Personal Gnosis) oriented Invisible Stars side, sometimes calling itself spirit inspired (the Left, for this example).  While I see the sides screaming at each other for reasons beyond these two “poles” (ranging from accusations of bigotry to perversion, et cetera), I think a large portion of the dispute centers on this range or continuum with much of the other back and forth being “noise”.  I am going to deliberately refrain from using names or links as I see no reason as a mostly centrist player in this to feed further dispute.  I work hard to connect to both sides of the continuum, which I do see as such rather than a dichotomy.

For Norse Heathens, we need to first start from the general realization that there is a great deal about the practices of our ancestors that we cannot know.  While we are luckier than some attempts to reconstruct a faith as there is some material, much is missing and what we have documented often has to be checked for bias.  There is historical and archaeological record as well, which all help, but often our view of our ancestors’ belief systems and related views is far too limited to allow us to follow directly in their footsteps.  We must fill in what we do not know from somewhere and therefore some form of extrapolation is absolutely necessary.  We really have no choice but to fill in details using imagination and deduction.  But, there is a second and equally important thing we need to realize that cannot be underemphasized: 

We are NOT our ancestors.  We do not live in their time and place.

Our ancestors were, effectively, frontiersmen and women.  They lived in a harsh place and time and their rules reflect that.  I think their rules were good ones and have adopted many of them but it was a conscious choice.  I do not get in a ship to go raid others or think that I have the right to challenge a man I am angry with to the holmgang.  I am very happy to live in a major city with good medical care, sewage systems and the rule of law with actual police rather than having to bring a bunch of armed men to the Thing to enforce the court ruling we hope to get.

So, taking all of this into account, where do I see the differences and commonalities?

1)      Almost all of us agree on certain virtues such as hospitality, honor, truth and other things. We may disagree on some of the details but the ethics are very similar.

2)      The Map and Compass side teaches us the value of our history and where we and our ancestors have been.  This is important.  I have to know where I started on the map to get where I am going.  In fact, even most on the far Left Invisible Stars side honor our history more than the Right chooses to admit.

3)      The Invisible Stars side sees that we cannot live in the past and must exist now, in a different and modern age.  We can honor our ancestors and yet not BE them.  Even those most spirit inspired look to our past, other sources and do research.  Granted, some have been so attacked and insulted by the other side that they cease showing their work.  Sometimes, I cannot blame them.

4)      Both sides support our military, want to help believers in prison and help their fellow believers. I have seen it.  Call me a liar if you must, but you will be wrong.

5)      With the exception of those who threaten violence, practice racism or are otherwise extreme; I trust many of you from all sides and honor you as friends and fellow believers.  You have all taught me much.  I see the honor and power in both.

So, the next time you hear something terrible about someone you think opposes you, look a little deeper.  You may find you have more in common than you think and that there is common ground worth pursuing. Even if you do not, I will be.  Our faith is too important not to.