Saturday, March 14, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Perspectives on Racial Issues in the United States

At a recent meeting of The Troth's High Rede, one question was whether we would, as an organization, make a statement about recent events regarding race in the U.S. and how we deal with them. It was decided instead that, in an organization that defines itself by accepting diversity, Individual Rede members might make individual public statements to be released together. Here they are, beginning with my own.

--------------------------------

We are known by the judgments we make, and the actions we take. Some judgments are made at leisure, while others must be made in the moment. Some are made deliberately, while others are made with no thought at all. Sometimes we don't know how we arrived at a judgment, or even that we have made one. Sometimes our judgments are made for us, absorbed from our surroundings, unrecognized as a choice, but seen as just the way things are, if they are seen at all.

Some people find the recent events of Ferguson, Missouri, and others easy to judge. Others find them more complicated. Some just don't want to think about them. The legal complications of some of these events are hard to brush aside. I won't ask you to brush them aside, as I certainly can't myself. I will ask you to look again at an issue that is at least related to these events.

It appears to me that most people like to think they are not racist. I like to think that myself, about myself. It might be more useful to think that most people are ready for racism to be over. But, whoever you are or whatever you think of these recent events, perhaps none of us know yet what it really means for racism to be over, or how to make that happen. Whatever our good intentions, and I don't doubt that they are good, maybe we have things left to learn, and judgments still to make, and actions yet to take, before we reach that goal.
- Steven T Abell
Steer
The Troth

January 2015

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Call to Tyr for Justice

by Lisa Morgenstern

Hail to Tyr, One Hand, God of the Thing
I call you to bring justice to the oppressed
You put your hand in the mouth of the Wolf to bind him.
You guide the Thing and are the keeper of Justice.
Your truth can be harsh, but you protect.
Help us to find the way to fair treatment for all people.
Even the utgardh are deserving of fair treatment
Give them the rights afforded by law, apply moral codes of right and wrong.
Humans need not die before they are brought before a judge and jury.
Humans who kill must be held accountable for their actions, for we are our deeds.
It is time to call for an accounting. I call on you.
I call for the diverse peoples of the Earth to live together in peace.
I am calling for an end to racism of all kinds.
Keep people of all ethnicities and heritages in your sight.
Help them to find the justice they deserve,
And help those who do not understand, to learn
And be open to see the worlds through different eyes.
Whether they are our folk or not,
As a Heathen I strive to be Tru,
Honest, Industrious, Loyal, Courageous,
Self-Reliant, have discipline and to Persevere.
As a Heathen I feel that I must offer
Hospitality to my brothers and sisters
Who are hurt daily by racism and prejudice.
By speaking, I let them know they are welcome in my hall.
That I see their plight and stand with them as we fight this battle,
Because to remain silent is to imply I agree that
They deserve to shed their blood in needless manner.
I fight with them in this cause, call on you to help me in my battle,
To see past my privilege, and find Truth.
Hail Tyr!

#BlackLivesMatter, #BrownLivesMatter, #RedLivesMatter, #YellowLivesMatter

- Lisa Morgenstern,
December 11, 2014

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Wyrd and Systemic Racism
by Gari Farmer

Some folks see Wyrd as a web or a weave. I'm not one of those people. I see it...well, HEAR it, anyway...as music. Every one of us has a part to perform, even the Gods. If one note is out of tune, or a rhythm misplayed, the music changes. It can even be ruined.

Thanks to systemic racism, there have been a number of wrong notes played in our history. The music has been discordant for ages. Thing is, we've become used to the discordance. Lately some of us have noticed that the music is...wrong. The chords aren't sounding right, even though we've been told that this is the way the music has been played for centuries [so why change it?]. The wrong notes need to be taken out and replaced with the right ones. The chords need to be rearranged.

Now, I know some of y'all may be wondering what the hell all this has to do with [the general] you. After all, you're playing your part right. You haven't missed any notes.

Actually, y'all, you have. We all have.

You see, a wrong note or rhythm played by the tuba section way in the back of the ensemble can throw off even most perfect flautist all the way in the front. A misplayed rhythm can cause whole sections to be thrown off. A misplayed part throws off everyone in the ensemble.

So it is with the real world. The wrong one person does can ripple through a community. The wrong one community does can ripple throughout the whole world. Feel free to look at any war involving more than two countries as an example. Remaining silent didn't help things at all; in fact, being silent made things worse, in some cases.

[On a personal note, systemic racism hits home for me as well. I've been followed in department stores and seated in unofficial segregated areas in restaurants, and my son has had gas station doors locked right in front of him so he couldn't go inside - just because of how much melanin we have in our skin.]

Some hold the opinion that the United States doesn’t have a national orlog – that because people came here from all over the world, Americans aren’t connected like other nations. I don’t believe this is true. The U.S. Constitution is more than the supreme law of the land; it’s also a contract that outlines the responsibilities of all three branches of government. The men who were present at the Constitutional Convention joined their respective orlogs together when pen met paper for signatures. The individual states joined in when they ratified the document. Every state that has joined our country has been required to ratify the Constitution upon joining the nation. Every state constitution has the U.S. Constitution as its base. Every member of the military has held up his or her right hand and sworn to defend the U.S. Constitution, regardless of background, ethnicity, and place of origin. Every person living here is subject to the laws of our country, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution, then, is the strand – the main melody line, if you will – that brings the symphony known as our country together, and the oath made to it are still active, still binding, and comprise our national wyrd. Our nation’s wyrd, then, becomes orlog, and through alliances and treaties – oaths – our national orlog, our melody line, is joined with the orlogs – melody lines – of the other nations.

Our nations are playing separate lines of melody, sometimes in different beats, but when played right…it all works. It sounds beautiful.  One can listen to the 4th movement of Holst’s 2nd Suite in F - “Fantasia on the Dargason”- for a perfect example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0y0-MhTKQ

In this movement, half the band plays at ¾ time while the other half plays at 6/8 time in two spots, playing two different melodies at the same time as well. And it works beautifully. This is what wyrd should sound like – but the wrong notes must be corrected. The correct rhythms must be played. One false note can change the entire complexion of the grand music we play.

- Gari Farmer
December 2014

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Diversity in Heathenry

by John T Mainer

I understand we do things a little differently here.  Heathenry is based on relationships.  A large number of groups fall somewhere along the family to community spectrum more towards the family end.  A typical word used to self describe would be kindred.  Similar in some ways to a coven, grove, or congregation from other faiths, it has the community of shared faith practice and world view common to those, but as we are often criticized by other communities for being light in ritual and prayer and heavy in the feasting, we are more bound by the bonds of hospitality and amity than by ritual or oath.

This gives me a bad case of Asa-Goggles.  I admit this.  Now Asa-Goggles are not like beer goggles, they don’t dull you into being more receptive to those you might otherwise find unappealing, they are more like FLIR.  Asa-Goggles are what we see our own through.  Unlike standard optics even starlight Night Vision Goggles or scopes which use the same light to generate the same image as our naked eye, the FLIR uses the Infra Red Spectrum to see heat.  It is amazing in its ability to see small differences in heat, easily detecting life from backgrounds that are visually completely camouflaged, even as it fails utterly to see those colour or pattern related identifiers that are visible in any visible light system.

Asa-Goggles, like FLIR look for the emissions of life; infra–red searches for heat from life, where Asa-Goggles search for worth.  Don’t get bent out of shape, worth is the way heathens judge everyone, including ourselves.  It is how we see, and a cornerstone of how we think.  Now people of all communities have worth, and we see that, and acknowledge that.  Some shine with a light that is our own, a worth that follows our own pattern of belief.  We see markings in their words and their deeds that mark them as “us”.  Other people can be worth of admiration ,  but they are not the ones you want to share those things that we call our heathen practice, those things that blend the social and the sacred, the building of a community of people who we care to share this very private part of our lives.

I was asked to write about our diversity as a community, and I had  problem with that.  I look at those people that are deepest inside the “us” category, the innergard, the ones you share your problems with or seek advice from in your other parts of life.  Through my goggles they look not identical, but close kin, close enough that from a mile off you can know them as your own, and feel the strength and warmth that knowing they approach will bring.  Through others eyes they are “diverse.”  Well if you want to pick gender, or skin tone, or sexual orientation, even nationality, income or educational background, they are diverse.  I have other goggles at well that pick up CADPAT, MARPAT, and Mulitcam by the signs it leaves in the emission of those who absorbed it bone deep through their service.  The combination of these optics mean that when outsiders look at me and Gari, they see their own definitions, black woman and a bearded redneck white boy.  American woman with some foreigner/Canadian boy with some foreigner (depending on which side of the 49th they are glaring from).

When I see us side by side, I see Freyr and Freya; I see the male and female expressions of the same needs, the same struggle, the same sense of responsibility.  Scars; oh yes, by their scars they will know each other, and we see those clearly enough.  When you ask me to speak about diversity in our community I do see it.  I see a diverse understanding about how our folkway is expressed.  I see Stephen in his tower of reason, built brick by brick by choices and experience, by study and life lessons accepted and applied.  His heathenry is a shining light that could easily be discussed by learned men in any schola of the past or university of the day.  I see Diana whose heathenry reeks of the mound, the tree, of dark places and ancient truths, whose eyes have seen and embraced the storm and through which things look back that most choose to avoid seeking, let alone learning from.  I see Lisa and Rob whose community building is to see the wounds they cannot pass by and accept the responsibility for those who would have no guide but them.  I see Luke and Ken who ply the ancient trade of arms as modern men, and carry with them their ancestral sense of duty and honour, with a modern man’s reverence for law.

Our community is rich and diverse in ways that fill me with wonder and move me to tears, but no one wants to hear about them.  They want us to point to a black, an Asian, a gay, a (insert word for someone we get a merit badge for pretending is our equal).  I don’t pretend.  Those who are in our community are my equals, are my peers, my community, and very much mine to defend.

Everyone is not welcome in our community.  Our own are welcome here, however other people would describe them.  There is not a colour that gets you in the door, nor one that bars you from it.  That does not make us better than other faiths. If nothing else, let us be honest about this.  Our ancestors were masters of community building; and they built those communities of the people they found of whatever tribe, race, or nation they met, who could share their sense of worth, their sense of community, their practices that bound together the disparate parts and peoples into one new shining thing.  There were lots of communities, and people moved freely to find the community in which they fit, in which their sense of worth matched the sense of worth of their fellows so that they could join their efforts communally and know their actions would be judged individually by standards to which they held, or aspired to, themselves.

Our community is diverse in ways that outsiders don’t see and perhaps do not value.  Our community contains what others consider diversity, in those that I just can’t see as diverse, as through my eyes they are not.  This is not a statement of virtue, this is a reality of optics.  FLIR doesn’t see colour, that doesn’t make it enlightened, it simply admits that it only sees a wavelength in which colour doesn’t exist.  We still judge us and them, because as human beings we are no better than other communities.  I think it does our nations good to have many communities inside them who define us and them along different axis, so that people have a chance to experience the reality that people from every group in our community may well find themselves on the same side of the us/them divide at least as often as they are the opposite, and those closest to us may likewise find themselves staring across that boundary at each other.

Yule is a time to come together, family and friends coworkers and neighbors.  We reach across a thousand divides with a handshake, a gift, a smile, a candy.  Those boundaries are real, but they are everywhere, and we reach across them a thousand times a day.  When something happens that polarizes our community, those barriers loom large in our vision, and become not simply walls between us, but battle lines.  We are more than any one of those us/them divides, we are more than any one label or external value you choose to apply.  Every human being is.  Heathens are supposed to be honest enough to both admit we judge, and own honestly both our treatment of others in response, and the fact others will do the same to us.

- John T Mainer
December 2014

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by Hrafnskald

These words are mine, spoken only as myself, and not as a Redesman, nor on behalf of the Troth.

Recent events have caused a great deal of debate between our members, as to where the Troth stands, what its core values are, and how we will respond to the deaths and unrest in Ferguson, New York, and elsewhere.

I believe that, in the Troth, all who come in frith are welcome. This goes beyond merely allowing diverse people to join and serve, it says clearly that we respect and honor people, based on their deeds and words, not the color of their skin.

The Troth, and heathenism as a whole, does not compel its members to follow one political group or another, or to support one cause or another. Rather, our Gods call us to live lives that are worthy, and to follow the virtues and inspiration of those who come before us, and to inspire those who will come after. We are not our labels, we are our deeds, and each of us, as individuals, who decides how to make their life a worthy one.

I reject the notion that we must choose sides, praising one and attacking the other, because I know good and tru heathens on all sides. I believe with all my heart that the cause of building better and more frithful communities requires that all voices be welcomed, heard, and woven into the frith of the community.

While the main symbol of the Troth is the Apples of Idunna and the Ravens, for me another symbol describes best how I see the Troth and its role: Mannaz. The rune of humanity, of community woven together in frith. We bring together people of many paths, many histories, many worldviews, and, yes, many political views, and weave them into a frithful whole. And just like a woven garment is made better and stronger with each thread, and a chorus made better with each new voice, each member and each viewpoint adds to the Troth.

These bonds of frith and peace require that we respect each other, and that we allow the many diverse voices of the Troth to speak for themselves, so that they can speak their truths freely and honestly.

That is why I am glad the Rede has chosen *not* to make one statement that would bind the consciences of all members, but rather to allow our Rede members to make *their own* statements, and members to choose for themselves what *they* wish to support.

I believe with all my heart that the right of conscience, to decide where one stands, is, and always must remain, a personal one.

There is plenty of room for disagreement and different worldviews, as long as we have mutual respect. Gods willing, this will always be the case in the Troth.

May They watch over us, see our words and deeds, and judge them worthy.

Frith,
Hrafnskald
January 2015

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Six Sagas of Adventure

We are proud and pleased to announce the publication of Six Sagas of Adventure, a collection of Icelandic sagas translated into English and available under one cover for the first time!

Six Sagas of Adventure is a collection of what are called Abenteursagas or "romances". Sagas like this are set mostly in Scandinavia, in a rather nebulous Viking past. They show some influence from folktales and continental tales of chivalry. But whatever they may lack in historical reliability, they more than make up for in flash and dash. Here you'll find everything from lustful dwarves and man-eating vultures, to haughty female "maiden-kings" who take up sword and shield and scorn marriage, to priceless treasures kept in evil temples by ogre-priestesses, to shapeshifting villains and wicked sorcerors... and of course, the handsome hero always rises to the occasion and wins the princess in the end.  For centuries, these sagas kept many an Icelandic family entertained on dark and icy winter nights -- and they can do the same for you!

The six sagas in question are The Saga of King Gautrek, its sequel The Saga of Hrolf Gautreksson, The Saga of Bosi and Herraud, The Saga of Sturlaug the Hard-Working, its sequel The Saga of Hrolf the Walker, and The Saga of Hromund Gripsson. As a sort of "bonus track", we've also included an earlier version of The Saga of King Gautrek known as The Tale of Gift-Ref and the Valley Fools, which has never before been translated into English in full. Many of these sagas are out of print or hard to find elsewhere.

A thorough introduction and notes, plus a full bibliography, greatly enhance this book's usefulness as a scholarly resource. On the other hand, it's also a fun read if you just want to kick back with some swashbuckling Viking tales. Check it out! 

The book is available on Amazon.com in a softcover print edition:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941136044/

And an edition for the Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P1HZ7VO/

But paperbacks and PDF files may also be ordered from Lulu.com (and we offer a discount on printed books if you buy from Lulu):

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/thetroth








Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ethics of Survival


Here is the thing: we need to live.

Havamal:

70. It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,
The live man catches the cow;
I saw flames rise | for the rich man's pyre,
And before his door he lay dead.

Death sucks.  It sucks our chances from us to do anything, to be anything.  Death is not the simply the death of flesh, it is the death of possibilities.  Death is the end of our world.  It is not the end of the world, indeed it cannot touch what we have already done, nor can it negate the changes we have made in the lives of others, but it is quite capable of wiping out all we ever could come to be, or could hope to accomplish.  Death is final. 

Life can often suck, but unlike death, it is not final.  I have had the worst day of my life a few times, seen everything that mattered, that which I could not live without lost or shattered.  Well damn.  Here’s the thing, life went on.  Life had good spots even on the worst days, and bad spots even on the good ones. Life can shatter us, leaving us broken and unable to continue, so we think.

71. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.

So the ancestors occupied the same world, and spoke the same truth we told each other using the pithy expression “Suck it up, buttercup”, to capture the same sentiment that if you are not actually dead, you are not actually done.  What is left is coping.  Coping resembles life in two respects, it can often suck, but can also get better.  The latter point really separates living, and coping, from death.

I admit that I am as wont as the next Heathen to use the metaphor of a pattern welded sword to describe how the different parts of a human work together to forge a single stronger whole that exceeds any of its constituent parts.  It’s a nice metaphor, but you can get trapped in the good ones and forget that people are not steel, they are stronger.

When steel is stressed beyond its limits it shatters.  So do people.  A broken sword is scrap.  Broken people don’t have to be.  Here is the thing; we don’t actually always die when we break.  Ours are the gifts of harsh but loving gods, of a heritage of unbroken evolutionary struggle in which our adaptability and perverse unwillingness to accept a loss saw us rise to power over all the continents, and cast covetous eyes at the stars.

When we break, our minds and bodies develop what we call coping mechanisms.  Some are good, some are terrible, but none are free of cost.  Coping mechanisms are the price of survival.  Get this straight, sanity is NOT ENOUGH.  There are many times when the sane thing to do is give up, and yet we can’t afford to because our duties demand we fight on, we seek to heal, we seek to love, to live, to discharge the obligations that we hold sacred and important enough to bear whatever price is offered.

I am Odin’s man.  I am more comfortable on the shady side of sane than most people are comfortable with.  To stay functional in an insane situation requires that you find a way to break, yet continue on.  To stay fuctional and worthy in an insane situation requires you go a little crazy yourself; to ride out the tempests that wyrd has woven for you, and remain functional.  Against wyrd even the gods must bend, and even the gods may fall.  We simply have to deal with our own wyrd, choose as best we can, cope as best we can, and hope that we can win our way through to a brighter place, to win for ourselves a place in which sanity is again the wise and more successful choice.

When and if we get there, we have survived.  That was good.  Understand this, accept this, if you take no other words of mine ever as true, heed these :surviving is worthy.  Coping mechanisms are good when they are required, and we embrace the cost as long as they are necessary.  When they are not necessary, we strive hard to deal with the coping mechanisms that got us through, and minimize their damage.  This is called victory.  The dead don’t do this.  They burn, or rot, or while away the hours in the mound, but they do naught else in this world.  We who lived, do.  We use that time to deal with the coping mechanisms that got us through.

PTSD and addiction, well these are the most common ones, but those who have survived serious chronic illness, or long costly recoveries from life changing injuries or conditions also learned to find ways to make it through the times that were too terrible to bear, and came out the other side with scars, some of which you could see, and the most dangerous ones you can’t.  This is what survival looks like.  Odin is the guide I chose, one whose coping mechanisms ignore the boundaries of sanity altogether, and ride the whirlwinds of the ecstatic madness, to purge yourself of the pressures you can’t contain, so that when you put your skin back on, you actually fit inside it.  Usually that is a metaphor.  Sometimes not.

Egil Skallgrimson was a purely Odinic figure.  A skald, a berserk, a warrior poet who spat in the eyes of the strongest kings in Europe, who carved his way into history with his blade, and praised his way out of execution with his poetry.  By today’s standards Egil would be a poster child for PTSD.  By any standard, his is a life embraced passionately, lived fearlessly, accepting the costs for doing so, and using the coping mechanisms his culture left to him, and thus, to us.


Egil was in service to King Athelstan of England when his brother Thorolf fell against the Scots.  His brother was the closest kin to him, dearer than life, but he fell in battle while Egil obeyed his King’s orders and held another part of the field.  Filled with rage, he sought direct vengeance by killing the Earl who felled his brother, and making satisfactory slaughter among the rest of the foe in the long pursuit.  His grief was boundless, but his coping mechanisms were in place.

He drank with those who shared the field with him, and he poured his heart out in great praise poems to his fallen brother.  He won acclaim for his fallen brother from his comrades, and great gifts to his brother’s memory from his King.  In this way, his passionate grieving was made a positive thing by his societies embracing the sumbel, the sacred space given where men can express their feelings without any loss of manhood, status, or perceived power, where other men can offer support without any suggestion that the one receiving support is showing weakness, or lack of manhood.  Grieving was accepted, histrionics were expected, grand gestures were part and parcel of the process, and were given a place and societal sanction and limits.  Coping mechanisms here are poetry (positive), sharing of feelings (positive) and shared social drinking (limits required to keep this one positive).  If you exceed the limits society accepts for this, you will lose status, but there is acceptance for the coping mechanism as a cost of the hard life they lived.

Not all losses are as easy to deal with, not all of them have the positive context of a death in battle, properly honoured and avenged.  Egil’s beloved son drowns, and his grief totally overcomes him, causing him to write some amazingly touching poetry (positive), and to decide that he cannot live without his son, and will starve himself to death (negative). CHAPTER LXXXI 

Here is a coping mechanism gone wrong.  The histrionics that externalized the grief he could not deal with internally now threaten his life.  Luckily the limits society sets on such displays come into play.  Egil’s daughter tricks him into taking poison, both food and drink, by telling him she cannot bear to live with her grief.  In fact, she has tricked him into eating food, and drinking milk.  Now confronted with having broken his oath not to eat or drink, she confronts him further with his remaining duties to the living.  He continues to deal with the death through the acceptable coping mechanisms, even as his daughter weans him from the self destructive ones.

Coping mechanisms are like wound shock; left untreated they can kill you, however they are what you needed to get through what was definitely going to kill you right then and there.  You live, you deal with the cost.

71. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.

The cost of coping can be high, the cost of death is total.  You learn to grow strong in the broken places.  Our gods do not hide their scars.  Thor has a whetstone stuck in his head, Tyr did not regain his sword arm, and the High One valued his learning too much to begrudge the loss of his eye.  Scars are badges of honour, they are only worn by survivors.  Those who bear the scars, from whatever wyrd wove for you , understand the cost of survival.  It falls to those of us who have grown grey enough to learned to break free of the coping mechanisms we could no longer afford.   

Egil watched his world end, again and again, yet he lived on.  Many have known, or will come to know, how it is to lose everything.  What next?  Well, our ancestors lived in this world every day.

76. Among Fitjung's sons | saw I well-stocked folds,--
Now bear they the beggar's staff;
Wealth is as swift | as a winking eye,
Of friends the falsest it is.

Health, wealth, family, relationships, status and position can all be taken from you tomorrow.  If your life remains, you cope.  Not always the pleasant solution, not always the sanest solution, but day by day, you stumble from the depths of having lost it all and one day look up to find you have built something that you….like.  Coping mechanisms get you through the worst times, but some of them will trap you in bad times unless you learn to put them away when you don’t need them.  Look to your community to help  you put away the dangerous coping mechanisms when their work is done, but do not hate them for keeping you alive.  Never regret survival.  Never forget what our ancestors taught us, no good can come from a corpse.  Living matters.  Those who survive can work on dealing with any side effects of what kept us alive.

- John T Mainer

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Cult of Óðinn: God of Death?

Wassail all!

Last year, Kveldúlfr Gundarsson gave the Troth permission to reprint  his 1995 doctoral dissertation, _The Cult of Óðinn: God of Death?_, published under his "mundane" name, Stephan Grundy. This work has long  been almost impossible to find, short of going to Cambridge University and requesting their file copy. At 272 pages (and 292 footnotes!) it's not what you might call easy bedtime reading -- there are primary sources quoted in several languages, for example. All the same, it's clearly a labor of love and devotion by one of the best minds in all Heathenry, and one of the most thorough studies of Odin's nature that I've ever seen. This is a serious work of scholarship, and even after nearly twenty years, it remains an exceptionally useful source. 

I have the honor and pleasure to announce that, as of right now, _The Cult of Óðinn: God of Death?_ has officially been republished by the Troth. We have also republished a companion volume to this book, _Miscellaneous Studies Towards the Cult of Óðinn_, which consists of material that Kveldúlfr / Stephan was unable to include in his dissertation. Together, the two books make up one of the most thorough studies of Óðinn ever published. 

For a limited time, we are offering both books, in hardcover or paperback editions, at 30% off from the cover price. They may be ordered from Lulu.com:      

The Cult of Óðinn, paperback:  http://www.lulu.com/content/14718742      

The Cult of Óðinn, hardcover:  http://www.lulu.com/content/14725516      

Miscellaneous Studies, paperback:  http://www.lulu.com/content/14814228      

Miscellaneous Studies, hardcover:  http://www.lulu.com/content/14828637 

Both books will also be made available on Amazon.com in a few days -- in fact, _The Cult of Óðinn_ is already available in paperback on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941136001/  . 

E-book versions are also coming soon.


- Ben Waggoner, Shope

Friday, June 20, 2014

Magic of Moot: Healing and Breaches


Trothmoot 2014 was a time of magic, some figurative, some probably literal, but the one that is most special to me is family.  My daughter Caitlyn is my Prime Signed daughter, raised and oathed Heathen; she is also Christian, bringing the same sorts of things to teenage inner and outer conflicts as most, and with a mix of worldview that resembles the classic  Prime Signed  (Heathens who have been baptised as well) heathens of the syncretic period.

While self-identifying as Christian, when she thinks about it, she also practices Heathen and covets coming to events for what it brings to her, even if she does not have the words to really express what that is, but perhaps it is part of a father’s job to find them for both of us.

Like many teenagers she has her struggles, but Wyrd has woven a few extra tangles in her weave, as she has been given some medical conditions that affect her hormones with serious impacts to her body and worsening the usual teenage emotional storm to levels that are sometimes damaging.  The coping mechanisms she found were more damaging yet.  She and her parents do everything the system offers in terms of the “right things” with various, sometimes limited, success.

Now we come to Trothmoot.  Moots are magical things, once Dennis Ford put the Tyr’s glove on the spear to sanctify and open the moot, the fellowship that began blurred the lines between sacred and commonplace, between hospitality and ritual, between mirth and magic, and in the strange alchemy of moot, wove healing into the fabric of the community that was forged.

Community: it means different things to different peoples, but to those who hunger for a place to be, for a place to be accepted, for a place to be whole, community is more precious than gold, more nourishing than meat, more intoxicating than mead.  Community is also a  powerful agent of change, a powerful force of healing.  Old magic is strongest, and the magic of community is not given the first third of the Havamal because the All-Wise did not know the worth of the magic of hospitality.

Dozens of people contributed to the magic, for that is the way of community, the ultimate expression of vegetarian food in Midgard (Tanya Peterson’s vegetarian lasagne) certainly made a vegetarian girl feel valued in a community that seems to consist on meat and mead alone at festival.  Well maybe that was just me.  Caitlyn spent her time working hard in the kitchen, cleaning up in the halls, helping out at ritual, and attending workshops.  I did not send her to do these things, these things she was drawn to do by the magic of the community, by the getting, judging the giving.  A gift for a gift.

Toward the end of Trothmoot she made a breakthrough.  Around the fire, passing libations and sharing companionship with the community that was so much more restorative than sleep, that most of us rationed or cut out the practice entirely, Caitlyn  found  a way to make peace with the wounds of her past, and the conflicts of her present.  Locked for years in a stasis of self destruction, she broke free to more forward towards health, not because she was lead, not because she was forced, but because she was freed to do so by the community that embraced her.

One of the ancient wights, one of the named powers of our lore has been the patron that has been with her in her darkest times, the only voice of heathen lore that whispers solutions to her when she needs them, one of the gods reached out to her and showed her how to use the power of the communities gifts to address her healing.  A gift for a gift is our way, I have raised her so.  To do what is right, to embrace truths, even ones that are hard and ugly, is what we have taught her.  To stand for what you believe in, but do so respectfully, is what we have tried hard to teach her.  In having received a gift from a Heathen community, from a Heathen god, she listened to the instruction for the round that she should raise the horn to a god of her choice, so she did, and broke the law.

It is our law (as Troth), and the will of the community, and thus a holy thing, in a holy place.  What she did was thus an offense against the Frith of the community, and our noble hosts.  Steven Abell did as he must to keep the Frith as a chieftain must who is worthy to hold the oaths of his folk, and I did a father’s duty and claimed her deed for what it was, the failure of a father’s instruction, and not in any way a failure of my daughter’s honour.  For this I offered scyld that will serve both the needs of our community, and the honour of my house.  It was accepted, and sworn so before the folk at Grand Sumbel.  Steven asked if we were good, if it was finished between us, and with a man’s understanding, I agreed between men, that it was done.  Buy we are only men, and men are not the only guests at moot, nor the highest, nor the wisest, for it was not done.

In the Heathen community that she is oathed, her hail would have been correct, and indeed answered by as many as a hail to Idunna or Tyr would at our Troth halls.  As a teenager, she tries to hold to principles, and has no patience with politics, and local differences, and had been taken strongly by the Troth’s wisdom and spirit, especially during the Diversity and Community building panels at Trothmoot.  We have all learned that politics may be stupid, but they are real, as are laws, and they are necessary, if we are able to bring communities together to build something larger than two people in a single room.  None who stood in the circle of the Rede to address this matter saw or spoke of anything more than a well meaning child having made a mistake, but as good and worthy men and women who hold their oaths as something real and potent, knew they still must do as they had oathed the would do to keep the frith.  In both action and consequence, there is no party that cannot say with pride they did as they best understood right and frithful action lay.

What is the action of a proud warrior daughter to what she perceives as injustice and slight?  Does she sulk in her tent like Achilles while his people burn?  No, she was back in the kitchen working hard along side those few who kept the Trothmoot fed, to clean the dishes of a hungry and well fed hall.  I spoke with her about how acceptance of consequence can also be a way of building worth, and she made a father as proud as proud could be, as full of anger and pride, she continued to give to her community the gifts of her labour, the little attentions to those who went without, even to the point of making sure those who had to miss the Idunna blot as they laboured in the kitchen received her blessing from her apples.  Such deeds do not go unnoticed in our community, not by wights seen or unseen.

There are those under our Troth banner whose halls hold other custom where Selipnir’s mother is concerned, and those in our halls whom I trust and seek for the counsel of my daughter because of the esteem their deeds and proven worth have found in my eyes.  Thus it was that Gari Farmer, noble Redeswoman and Steward, sat with Caitlyn in private devotion to the wight whose name may not be praised in sumble, but whose place in the devotional practice of many worthy members is well established.  In the course of this practice, Gari shared with the courage you expect of a soldier and woman of her name and reputation.  In the magic of moot, she drew from my daughter more without asking a single question than years of medication, therapy, analysis, counseling had done, and my daughter opened her mouth, her wounds, her heart, and shattered Isa, broke the self-destructive cycle that had held her with a casual ease.  In the magic of moot was healing wrought, and brightly was it woven.

There are gods famed for healing, and I hail and honour them, but we are all men and women of strong and independent natures, and do not follow the paths laid out by our fellows, so much as the paths laid out by our natures, by necessity, and by the strong moral compass of our gods and ancestors teachings.  For Gari and for Caitlyn, their pole star is not Tyr, their healer is not Eir, but Laufey's son; and before his  did they share offering, share pain, share healing.

What is the role of Clergy in our community?  Well apparently it isn’t just given out with a box of cracker jacks, for our own far-famed head of clergy showed the wisdom equal to her name, as Diana Paxson and Lorrie Wood both sought out Caitlyn at the outside Vé, gathering a circle of strong women to a space not made sacral on purpose (because Hel-father’s  was one of those that Wyrd chose to interfere with the journey of).  No, this road side, excamural  was made sacred by the purpose of they who gathered to pool the skill of the communities women in healing a young woman of the community.  Healing takes many forms, and in the perverse nature of a wight described even by his friends as at least perverse, it was the joint bitching about community politics that bound the wounds now bled free of old and bitter poison, and began healing.

There are going to be those who will look upon this and seek to grumble on one side or another of the old quarrel, but that would be foolish.  A scyld was offered for a breach of the peace, and all sides conducted themselves honourably.  Against the matter of her name and her breach, I have received such praise for her hard work and passion from those at this Trothmoot that I have no fear of her name and worth in the community being anything but another source of pride.  Against the matter of scyld, I hold the honour of my house to be be a dear thing, and worth twenty times the price, but that is almost forgotten, so small is it.  I have a daughters healing forged from the magic of the moot, a daughters healing that in some respects is tied to the catalyst of the breach and consequence.  Odin gave an eye for what he must know, Tyr a hand for the worth of his word, will ask what a father will pay for his daughter’s healing?  I would change nothing, and count myself and my family blessed brightly by the magic of this moot.

John T Mainer

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Troth Elections

The Troth elections have been assessed by Steve Abell (Steer of The Troth) and Bill Dwinnells (Elections Officer) and verified by Destiny Ballard (independent observer per Troth bylaws).

Re-elected to the Rede:

Robert Lusch Schreiwer (continuing as Assistant Steer)
Tanya Peterson

Rejoining the Rede:

Hrafn Skald

All three took their Oath of Office at Trothmoot along with Other officers and Stewards. This post will be updated to include the names and positions of all who took an oath at Trothmoot.

Thank you to all who participated in the elections, and especially to Fred Bower for stepping up and running for the Rede.