Archive | December 2014

Good Yule!

Several writings and thoughts on light in the darkness.

The Shortest Day

“And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.”

― Susan Cooper
And on being a light:

Gandalf the Gray

Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.”

in The Hobbit (Note, I am only sure that is in the movie.  I would have to search the book.)

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations: “The best kind of revenge is, not to become like unto them.”

The Golden Sayings of Epictetus – ‘Asked how a man should best grieve his enemy, Epictetus replied; “By setting himself to live the noblest life himself.”

So, in this darkest time, remember to be your own light.  Show hospitality and honor to those around you.

Good Yule to you all!

Torture

This is not a political blog. The only major issue I normally discuss that comes close to politics is racism.  BUT, this IS a blog that deals with rage.  I remember the shock of that day and then the rage the next. I would have killed anyone my leaders pointed me at that next day and I had been out of uniform for years. Rage is understandable but what you do with it defines you. We institutionalized the dark parts of rage and they festered.

So, while I rarely discuss politics, this is a case where I find I have no choice. The recent report released on torture by the CIA is different. I feel I need to say something.

TORTURE IS NOT ONLY MORALLY WRONG, IT IS INEFFECTIVE AT GETTING ANY USEFUL INFORMATION.

This means it has no useful value to the United States or our forces for any reason.

First, the base information:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/senate-report-on-cia-program-details-brutality-dishonesty/2014/12/09/1075c726-7f0e-11e4-9f38-95a187e4c1f7_story.html

Second, who HAS used it effectively and why we don’t want to be part of that club:

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/guess-who-else-tortured-people-like-the-cia-did-soviets-and-nazis-e65357a309b9

Third, another former military man (Yes, I was an officer) deals with this much better than I can:

http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/12/the-road-to-hell.html

Finally, several other articles (That will grow over time):

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/12/do-no-harm-when-doctors-torture/383677/

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/the-graywashing-of-cia-torture/383633/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/11/the-chilling-psychological-principle-behind-the-cias-interrogation-methods/

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21636035-tawdry-record-facing-up-past-best-protection-future-shock-therapy

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30435652?utm_content=bufferdded2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2007/05/-versch-auml-rfte-vernehmung/228158/

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/12/psychologists_role_in_the_cia_s_torture_why_these_medical_professionals.html?wpsrc=sh_all_tab_tw_ru

http://www.vice.com/read/the-psychology-of-torture-1212?utm_content=buffer8cce4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/what-makes-patriots-perpetrators-of-torture/2014/12/14/5bbaa350-8391-11e4-9534-f79a23c40e6c_story.html

If, for some bizarre reason as a Heathen, you need a Nine Noble Virtues or other justification…

IT IS CALLED HOSPITALITY FOR A REASON!

If you accept a prisoner, he becomes YOUR responsibility.

I get that we were really angry.  I would have killed whoever you pointed me at the following day (9/12). We have to be wiser and more in control of what we do than that.

A follow up on Two Wolves

I wrote this some time ago:

https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/the-two-wolves/

I have since found out that the story, whose provenance I doubted at the time, actually developed from a sermon by Billy Graham:

http://apihtawikosisan.com/2012/02/check-the-tag-on-that-indian-story/

You will note I didn’t like the dualism the first time and this reinforces that. Soooo…

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet AND try to have a nuanced perspective.

Why Racism Harms Heathenry

I will remain silent on some of the politics of the screed but other parts and the sentiment make sense.

Sarenth Odinsson's Blog

This comment was made on The Wild Hunt recent Pagan Community Notes in response to HUAR calling out Irminfolk as a racist religious group.

“If your definition of the word “hurt” means “Anyone who holds a belief that I don’t like” then I agree, racism hurts people. But of course that’s nonsense. What hurts people are *actions* and *policies* in the public area. A private religion having it’s own bylaws, charter, and mission statement is not hurting anyone. The moment they take those beliefs and try to diminish the rights and freedoms of others (remember you don’t have a right to join any religion you want) then we can chat about hurting others. I’m not surprised at the lack of critical thinking on these posts, it’s pretty standard for the modern Pagan community. And if you read my first post, which sounds like you didn’t, I said “have a right…

View original post 1,529 more words

For Listening is also a Skill, be a good Listener so that others will speak

Epictetus. (c.A.D. 50–c.A.D. 138).  The Golden Sayings of Epictetus.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
LXXXI
“Epictetus, I have often come desiring to hear you speak, and you have never given me any answer; now if possible, I entreat you, say something to me.”   1
  “Is there, do you think,” replied Epictetus, “an art of speaking as of other things, if it is to be done skilfully and with profit to the hearer?”   2
  “Yes.”   3
  “And are all profited by what they hear, or only some among them? So that it seems there is an art of hearing as well as of speaking…. To make a statue needs skill: to view a statue aright needs skill also.”   4
  “Admitted.”   5
  “And I think all will allow that one who proposes to hear philosophers speak needs a considerable training in hearing. Is that not so? Then tell me on what subject you are able to hear me.”   6
  “Why, on good and evil.”   7
  “The good and evil of what? a horse, an ox?”   8
  “No; of a man.”   9
  “Do we know then what Man is? what his nature is? what is the idea we have of him? And are our ears practised in any degree on the subject? Nay, do you understand what Nature is? can you follow me in any degree when I say that I shall have to use demonstration? Do you understand what Demonstration is? what True or False is?… must I drive you to Philosophy?… Show me what good I am to do by discoursing with you. Rouse my desire to do so. The sight of the pasture it loves stirs in a sheep the desire to feed: show it a stone or a bit of bread and it remains unmoved. Thus we also have certain natural desires, aye, and one that moves us to speak when we find a listener that is worth his salt: one that himself stirs the spirit. But if he sits by like a stone or a tuft of grass, how can he rouse a man’s desire?”   10
  “Then you will say nothing to me?”   11
  “I can only tell you this: that one who knows not who he is and to what end he was born; what kind of world this is and with whom he is associated therein; one who cannot distinguish Good and Evil, Beauty and Foulness,… Truth and Falsehood, will never follow Reason in shaping his desires and impulses and repulsions, nor yet in assent, denial, or suspension of judgment; but will in one word go about deaf and blind, thinking himself to be somewhat, when he is in truth of no account. Is there anything new in all this? Is not this ignorance the cause of all the mistakes and mischances of men since the human race began?…”   12
  “This is all I have to say to you, and even this against the grain. Why? Because you have not stirred my spirit. For what can I see in you to stir me, as a spirited horse will stir a judge of horses? Your body? That you maltreat. Your dress? That is luxurious. Your behaviour, your look?—Nothing whatever. When you want to hear a philosopher, do not say, ‘You say nothing to me’; only show yourself worthy or fit to hear, and then you will see how you will move the speaker.”

The Meaning of the Binding of Fenrir

I had cause, just yesterday, to discuss the meaning of Fenrir’s binding with a friend and then another sent me this:

http://odroerirjournal.com/feeding-the-wolf-the-theme-of-restraint-and-its-lack-in-the-mythology-of-fenrir/

It is a detailed examination of the mythology of wolves and unfettered hunger in the myth of Fenrir that also ties to the berserks and the social order.  Thinking of the wolf and Fenrir metaphorically helps here.  I think the one thing I would add is that those desires are in us and have to be faced internally.  The story is one of law and community but the daily struggle to not become a “little Fenris” is something we also have to understand and face.  We all have those desires and I think that is why certain characters in fiction like Wolverine resonate for some of us as a kind of wish fulfillment.

We need to stop looking at Fenrir in terms of good and evil and more in terms of risk and threat.  That hunger and anger is a part of us and sometimes even necessary but also very harmful to social order.

Good Yule!

As we approach Yule, here is a good article on what it may have meant:

http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=397

Words to ponder while reading:

Wolf
Mother
Sun
Light
Darkness
Birth
Death