Monday, May 22, 2017

Chickens and Nazis, or maybe, Chicken Nazis

Lately I've been reading about how the Nazis and the White Supremacists have been joining and
changing Heathen and Asatru groups.  Quite frankly, I just don't get it.

Let's Talk Chickens 

Apparently folks here like to hear about the cluckers, so let me tell you a story.  My mom would only eat white eggs (true story).  She thought the brown eggs tasted funny.  She was pretty sure there was something wrong with the brown eggs, because they were brown and not white.  Try as I might to convince her otherwise, she hated brown eggs.

When my coworker sold chicken eggs from his farm, the eggs were brown.  I bought the eggs and enjoyed them.  My mom wanted fresh eggs, but I told her he only had brown eggs.  She was disappointed.  She actually told me to tell him to get chickens that laid white eggs.

My coworker told me that egg color had to do with the breed of chicken (back before I had my own flock).  He explained that most white egg layers were leghorns.  He considered leghorns to be flighty and aggressive, so he didn't have them. Instead, I believe he had Rhode Island reds, which he thought were more docile. (I actually think they can be a pain, too, but that's my opinion.)

I told my mom this, but she never ate a brown egg if she could help it.  As a result, she didn't get farm fresh eggs.

People versus Chickens 

Obviously people aren't chickens, but there's a good point here. Whether you eat brown eggs, white eggs, green eggs, or blue eggs, they're all from chickens and they all taste good if they're fresh. I tend to like the blue/green eggs because they're cool looking, but I'll eat brown and white eggs too.  Oh, and I have chickens that lay chocolate colored eggs.  Those are the coolest to see.

Now, granted people aren't chicken eggs, but the prejudice is similar enough to talk about.  It's about judging by the outside wrapping. You can't look at an egg by the color and say it is a great tasting egg.  You can't point to a brown egg and say it is better than a white egg because it it brown.   Likewise, you can't point to a white person and say he or she is better than a black person just by the color of their skin.

Apparently, Some People Don't Get It

Race is a construct. We're all humans under the skin.  We're mostly Homo Sapiens mixed with Neanderthal and Denisovian.  We may have genetics from a third race (race in the true sense) running around in us.  And you know what?  Only those who are purely from African roots are pure Homo Sapiens.  Surprise!

So, if you're a white person, you'll find you are not only not a race, but you're a mutt as well.  There isn't anything special about that white skin, except that those of us with lighter pigment needed it to absorb more of the sun's rays to produce enough Vitamin D to avoid rickets. Gee, using color is really a great way to determine worthiness of an individual. NOT!

My Experience with Nazis

When I was growing up, no one except the fringe lunatics would ever consider joining the Nazi cause.  Hitler's Germany was a totalitarian government.  He oppressed people, including his own people. Hitler and his Nazis tortured and murdered millions.  And he started an incredibly horrible and costly war that involved most of the civilized world.

I was born less than 20 years after that war, which probably puts me on the end of the Baby Boomer generation. My dad joined the Army when he was 17. He was in Germany after the war and got to see the horror of the concentration camps and the overall devastation.  He was also in Japan in the late 50s.

I grew up knowing full well that Hitler and his Nazis were evil. It is no secret, which is why it puzzles me that anyone would be attracted to those beliefs.

Uh, You Weren't Even Born Then

A lot of white supremacists weren't even born during the time Hitler rose to power, let alone experienced the Third Reich for themselves. Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power because of the terms of surrender enforced on the Weinmar Republic after World War I. We could argue all day whether the Treaty of Versailles actually caused Hitler's rise to power and World War II, but that's not really the point of this piece.  If you were born after 1945 and claim to be a Nazi, I'd asked with all sincerity, "What the fuck?"  You weren't affected by the war personally. Maybe your grandparents were, or great-grandparents, but seriously?  It's HISTORY.  Most WWII veterans are dead. Most people who lived through it are either dead or in nursing homes.

Nobody has Held you Down

One of the things I really don't get about white supremacists is the thought that other ethnicities (often called incorrectly, "races") are inferior and that somehow they've held the white man down.  Seriously? Let's address the holding the white man down idea first.

According to the United States census, about 77.1 percent of Americans are "white," and "whites" are expected to remain in the majority at 73.1 percent by 2050. Looking at the largest minority class, that being blacks/African Americans, they are around 12.4 percent in this country.  Every other minority is a smaller percentage yet. As for businesses, guess who owns them?  Yes, whites.  According to US News and World Report, only 17.5 percent of businesses were owned by minorities.

Now, let's look at the Jews, since the white supremacists and Nazis seem to have issues with them.  In the United States, we have a 2.2 percent population (or 5.3 million people) of those who are Jewish out of a population that is more than 300 million.  This includes those Jews who are atheist, those have a Jewish background who don't practice, and those who only consider themselves partly Jewish.

Are there a lot of Jewish business owners?  Yes.  Why is that, you wonder.  Could it be that they worked their asses off to get where they are today?  Could it be that because they weren't allowed to own land in the past due to discrimination during the Middle Ages, they were forced to become bankers (because Christians didn't become moneylenders at the time) and business people?  So, they have a legacy of working in those areas. Nowadays you have fewer people who identify as Jewish than back in the 1950s (I believe the number was around 4 to 5 percent), so those whom you consider Jewish don't even consider themselves such.

If you feel that Jews or other ethnicities have caused some sort of wrong against you, I've got news for you.  You're wrong. Nobody has held you down.  If you'd get off your ass and get a job, or at least move out of your parents' basement, it would be a good start. You can still get educated, get a job, and be a productive member of society.  Look, kid, nobody hands anything to anyone on a gold plate.  You have to go out and work for it. Quit wasting your time with losers (the Nazis, by the way, were and still are, losers), and try working toward improving your life.  You'd be amazed at what a change of attitude can do.

I hope I've at least given you some thoughts to consider. If you're the bigoted type, maybe I've brought you a bit out of your comfort zone to start thinking about your worldview. Maybe you might quit blaming other people for your problems. Or maybe, at least, you won't care what color your eggs are.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Are You Genuine? Heathenry as an Adult Choice

Saturday I went down to the food bank to drop off some eggs from my chickens. They had been
laying up a storm and there was no way for me to use them all up or sell them before they went bad.  So, I went to one of the many food banks we have in the town nearby and dropped them off.

Eggs and Christians

It happens that this is a food bank run by Christians.  You go in there and chances are you'll hear some talk about Jesus.  I expect that.  But what I didn't expect to hear was one of the folks saying that they were helping the poor "because they love Jesus."

I almost asked, "Would you still do this if Jesus didn't exist?"  But I didn't feel like taunting the people who were helping me out.  After all, I was under their roof.  But it did get me thinking.  Would these people really operate a food bank and help the poor if their god didn't promise some sort of reward, i.e. eternal salvation, for it?

This is the problem with being a follower of Tyr.  You get lots of uncomfortable and unpopular ideas.

Are They Giving Because it's the Right Thing to do?

To me, the whole idea of helping the poor because they expect a reward in return seemed disingenuous.  I mean if you're helping the poor because your god commands it and not because you genuinely care about other human beings, you're basically a fraud. Granted, you're a fraud doing good work, but you're expecting something instead of being as altruistic as you claim to be.  Now, one can argue with me that the motivations really don't matter; it's the actual act of providing food to poor people that makes the difference.  And you'd be right to a certain extent, because people can't eat intentions. People eat food. But by the same token, it helps to understand what the motives are because it may be the difference between feeding people and not.

My Intentions aren't Pure, Either

I'm not saying my intentions are lofty. To be brutally honest, I had too many eggs and I hate to see them wasted.  I also will take a tax write off, if I can find the slip they filled out for me. I suppose I could have used the eggs to feed my dogs or even thrown them out, but as I said, I hate wasting things and if I can't use the eggs, I'll give them to people who will use them. But I don't expect an eternal reward over just being nice to other people.   I suppose one could argue that I am helping those within my "tribe," and I am just offering help to those in need. 

Ethics of Reciprocity (or the Golden Rule)

No doubt you've heard Jesus's proclamation to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  That "Golden Rule" is actual a version of Ethics of Reciprocity and all religions generally have their own versions. Even ours.  We should treat people the way we want to be treated. (Or don't be an asshole.) The reason is pretty clear--if everyone is nice to others, we all get along.  Look at the way we're told to treat travelers: we are to open our homes and treat them well. We hope to have that same treatment should we travel.  In earlier times, those who traveled needed hospitality in a dangerous world. While our world isn't quite as dangerous (at least in developed countries), hospitality in a strange place is welcome.  It is a form of Ethics of Reciprocity.

Which Came First: the Christian or the Eggs?

Getting back to the whole Christian thing, I really had to wonder what kind of people I was dealing with.  If these people did acts of kindness only because their god commanded it, what kind of people did that make them? Would they act another way if their god didn't tell them to behave?  And what if they found out I was Heathen and not Christian?  Would they change their behavior after finding out?

There are other food banks around town, some run by Christians and some that are simply nonprofit without any religious affiliation. It happens that I was in town on a day when the Christian food bank was open and the unaffiliated food bank was closed.  To me, it didn't really matter what the affiliation was as long as it went to someone who could use them, but you see, the unaffiliated food bank volunteers didn't necessarily work in the food bank because a god dictated it.

Heathenry as an Adult Choice

One of the things I like about Heathenry is the lack of divine handouts of rewards and punishments. We really don't have a code of conduct that commands us to behave, although the Havamal highly recommends certain behaviors. It makes sense that our gods want us to act like adults, rather than kids who need to be afraid of a punishment if we don't behave.  Adults usually don't expect gold stars when they do something nice, nor they expect external damnation for being shits. Now, if we break the law, there are certainly punishments, and there are certainly consequences to our actions, but that is usually handled within our interactions with other people. You act like a shit and people will behave negatively toward you. You behave and act nice, people are more likely to be positive.

I guess the upshot to this very long--and getting longer--post is that Saturday I got a really good look at the differences between Christianity and Heathenry-- besides just the monotheistic versus polytheistic mindset. As a follower of Tyr, I'm pretty transparent in my motivations; Christians, however, do nice things because they're earning brownie points with their god (assuming he exists). While heathens can be sneaky and crafty, one of our big no-nos is breaking oaths.  Christians, however, have a whole slew of commandments where many believe if they just believe in Jesus, they will be forgiven.  Their commandment to not "bear false witness against thy neighbor" generally means to not lie, but oaths seem to not exist, except perhaps in marriage.  And those can evaporate into thin air with divorces and annulments.

Perhaps it's a matter of being genuine. I spend each day trying to live honestly, so when I see duplicity, it sort of gets on my nerves.  It's that Tyr thing again. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Heathenry, Unplugged

I'm really a technophile, despite all my attempts at leading a semi-subsistence lifestyle. I was one of the folks who helped bring about the whole technological revolution we see today, (don't get too excited--lots of people did more than I did). Even so, if I had been smarter with money than I had with technology, I probably would be in some huge place enjoying retirement rather than working for a living.  Ah, hindsight being 20/20.

Technology Addictions

That being said, one of my not-so-secret addictions is technology.  No, I don't have to have the latest and greatest things, but I wouldn't object if someone handed them to me to play with. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my laptop and now, my cellphone. A goodly portion of it is for work, but let's face it, with Netflix and Hulu, I get some entertainment there.  I wouldn't be putting out this little Heathen blog without computers and the Internet.  So, it has become a necessity.

Before the Dark Times.  Before the Silicon Chip...

 And yet, I remember a time without computers.  (I can hear your collective gasps as you read this: "Just how fucking old is the Rational Heathen?") Okay, computers existed, but they filled government and University server rooms. You used punch tape and punch cards and printers.  My first experience with computers was an HP that had 1 MB of RAM that was time shared with 33 other users across the state. Hey!  That was downtown!

I was one of the few holdouts who looked for payphones to make phone calls.  Even now, it has flummoxed my sisters that I don't text (try explaining the lack of cell service where I live.) So, I am a techno-savvy Luddite.  Yes, eventually even I have to stay connected.

Getting on Point

I'm not going to wax eternal about the halcyon days of the days before computers, the Internet, and cellphones, but I am going to talk about what it is doing to us as a species. Nowadays, we rely on computers to entertain us, keep our knowledge, and teach us things. Unfortunately, the more we use the technology, the more we rely on the technology.  The more we rely on the technology, the more we can't do the things we need to know if we are to survive should there not be that technology present.

Luddites and Stone Carvers

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Surely there were Luddites out there when the printing press was invented, stating that if we use printing presses, people will forget how to use calligraphy.  Or maybe when paper was used, the stone carvers were up in arms because vellum could be destroyed, whereas stone was nearly forever.  I can just hear the stone carver telling his son, "I don't care how portable that contraption is!  It'll burn, and then you'll have nothing! You'll see!"

Somehow the portability and convenience won out.  We figured out ways around having paper being burnt up, although there were certainly setbacks (i.e., the library at Alexandria), but for the most part we got beyond it.  We made copies.  We treated fragile manuscripts with care (we still do).  But having repositories on computers make works more accessible to more people. We simply have to be more careful with the original.

Nothing demonstrates this more than with our own Declaration of Independence.  The original was damaged sometime in the early 20th century in an attempt to make it more legible and the writing continues to fade even though great care has been taken to preserve it.  Yes, we have made copies, but having the ability to read it right from the computer is important, too.  It gives us accessibility.

Where I'm Going with This

Technology has its place.  I know this.  But technology isn't everything.  When I was growing up, we were promised technology would fix our problems.  Well, certain problems, it has, but it has caused more problems.  You see, the basic issue isn't the technology: it's us.  We mortal, organic creatures are limited by our very nature--a nature that we're getting farther and farther away from over time.

The past few days I've been in a blend of technology and nature (a weird mix, to be sure).  I've been hunting turkeys. I've been working on projects on the computer.  I've been getting new goats.  I've been butchering a chicken and cooking it.  I've been milking goats and collecting eggs.  I've been setting up a podcasting studio.  I've been enjoying the beauty of the arrowleaf balsamroots and glacier lilies that have exploded in color.  Everything I've been doing has been taking up my time, and yet, I've been living in two different worlds.

The Peacefulness of Nature

Despite the hard work of hand milking, I really enjoy peacefulness.  I'm working with the animals, who really don't care what I'm writing--they only care about getting grain and getting their udders relieved of pressure. I am outside, in the forest where my home resides, and enjoy feeling the sun on my face and see the deer and other critters around me.

It can be peaceful or stressful, depending on the circumstance.  We have some very big predators here: wolves, coyotes, black bear, grizzlies, and mountain lions.  The mountain can kill you if you aren't careful: the weather can turn deadly in a heartbeat for those unprepared.  Then, there are the even present threat of wildfires.

Unplug for a While, and Be Present

But there is something to being with nature, despite all the hazards. And there is something to being unplugged, at least for a while.  Imagine, if you would, nobody calling you, texting you, no social media to interrupt you. Just be present in the moment.  Look around.  Admire what the gods have created and feel what it's like to just be alive.  Sometimes just doing that is all you need to connect with them.  That's how I finally connected with Skadi, after many years of trying without success. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I've found if you open yourself up to the gods, they may just come to you.

Accept what they offer, even if it is only a feeling, a word, or a thought.  The more time you spend with them, the more often you may hear them.  And isn't that what Heathenry is really about?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dealing with Adversity: One Heathen's Perspective

One thing that ties us all together, being gods, humans, wights, or other creatures, is adversity. With very few exceptions, most creatures deal with adversity in some manner. I would hazard to state that it's conquering adversities in our lives that make our lives worth living.  But sometimes when we're in the thick of it, it's hard to think that it may be beneficial in some way or a cause for growth.

My Life is Shit, or Handling the Tough Times

Honestly, nobody except the true masochist asks for a shitty life. Sometimes that's just what the Wyrd hands you.  It doesn't mean that you can't do anything about it (after all, how do you know that you're not fated to rise above the crap?) Poverty, disease, war, and death can really fuck up a person (duh!), but if you get through it, you'll be stronger.  I don't care for the writings of Nietzsche, but the quote That which does not kill us makes us stronger, does ring true.  I'd rather paraphrase it by saying, That which doesn't kill us, pisses me off.

I get that the Wyrd may be what it is.  I get that you may have a hamingja that is full of bad luck.  And yet, how do you really know?  Nobody can really say for certain that bad luck follows you around like a little black rain cloud. You may be able to dispel that spate of bad luck and turn it into good.

With few exceptions, nobody has it easy.  I've had friends who looked incredibly fortunate, only to have adversity come crashing down. What looks good on the outside may be a total mess when you get to the fine points.  And what appears to be on overnight success often was built on the unseen failures before it.

How the Gods Handled Adversity

Let's look at how our gods handled adversity.  Tyr, despite knowing he would lose his hand, stuck it in the mouth of Fenrir to ensure the wolf would be chained until Ragnarok. Odin lost his son Baldr. Thor has dealt with the Jotun in their own world with apparent failures because they tricked him. Each god has had their share of adversity in some way, and in many cases dealt with it.

We're not told specifically how Tyr had to deal with the loss of his right hand, but we can well imagine the pain that followed.  Then there was the emotional trauma and the need to relearn swordsmanship with his left hand.  Now, one could say he's a god and he'd have an easier time of it, but the stories don't suggest that he could snap his fingers (of his left hand) and have all the abilities transferred over. In fact, we know that the gods feel pain (thanks to Loki), so we know Tyr felt pain. But we know that Tyr stood up in the face of adversity and continued onward.

What to Do When Life Hands You Lemons

You've probably heard the saying "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."  I think that is a little too glib.  Shit happens.  I've written about when bad things happen, but I didn't offer any good ideas for dealing with it.  Here, I'm actually going to offer some constructive advice.

First, bad things will happen in your life, just as good things happen in life. That is the nature of life. When it is death of a loved one, physical injury, or disease, you need to take time out to care for yourself. Get the help you need to center yourself and the strength to continue forward. You may find help where you least expect it and you might come out stronger.

If your adversity is something like unemployment, change in social status, a failed business venture, a divorce or break up, or simply a failure to perform, you'll need to regroup for a time and consider your options. In the meantime, look for opportunities that may arise that you never considered. The times when I lost a job were simply times I needed to kick myself in the ass and find something else that worked better.  Often, we mourn the complacency we had when in fact, the gods are telling us there's something better out there if we just look for it.

Your Wake Up Call

Use adversity as a wake up call. When my dad nearly died many years ago, I realized that I could either go the path I was on and be miserable, or take a new step in a different direction.  I chose the latter.  When I lost both my parents within a span of two years, I realized that I could continue the way I was going, or carve a new path. Although their deaths were traumatic to me, I ended up learning something. I realized that my parents had many regrets.  These regrets I didn't want to have.

When a friend died of cancer, I saw the same issues.  There are too many regrets in this world, and in the end, when we leave it, we either leave with regrets or with the knowledge that we fought a good fight, and perhaps won.

I keep repeating the Doctor's quote that "We are all stories in the end.  Just make it a good one." The Havamal says it succinctly:

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well 
--Havamal 77

Monday, April 24, 2017

Has Religion become Irrelevant?

Has religion become irrelevant? This is an odd question for a Heathen to ask others who believe in our gods, but it is a serious question.  Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time are probably rolling your eyes and sighing because I came from fairly agnostic to almost atheist beliefs, only to be yanked into Heathenry by a few gods.  Don't get your panties in a wad; I still consider myself a Heathen.  But this question of Has religion become irrelevant? echoes this pronouncement by the National Geographic.  So, like most things that I write, I'm going to be trodding on some toes here.

The Fastest Growing "Religion"

The fastest growing religion in developed countries isn't a religion at all. It's what those wankers who compile statistics refer to as "nones."  The "nones" are those without a religious affiliation, i.e., agnostics, atheists, and those who just don't care. They're such a growing force that they're considered the second largest "religious" affiliation in half the nations around the world, including the United States, the bastion of Christianity.

It's not surprising that some underdeveloped countries and former communist countries have had an increase in religion, but overall in developed countries, religion isn't growing.  If there's good news to be had by the pagan religions, the non-Christian faiths have grown 1.2 percent in the United States.  That's pretty small in my book, when you consider all non-Christian faiths make up a little under 6 percent in this country.  However, we're looking at nearly 71 percent of Americans consider themselves Christian in some way.

Why People Don't Believe

I read through the article and it had some interesting points. People are quick to point to science as the reason more people are leaving the churches, and they're not entirely wrong.  As science is able to provide answers, it becomes apparent that those things that people long ago thought were miracles or impossible are actually quite explainable.  But although science had a lot to do with secularism, the ability for the skeptic to meet with other skeptics online and in person helps solidify the feelings of there being no god or gods is probably a stronger pull. After all, people usually feel closer to their gods when they are together and praying than alone. (I said usually.) It helps to have people who believe the same things you do around to strengthen your beliefs (or lack thereof). The other reason for lack of belief has to do with education. The more educated you are, the less likely you'll believe in a deity or deities. (This isn't to say that highly educated people don't believe in a god or gods.  This simple shows that there is a correlation between education and atheism.)

Science, Dammit!

I talk quite a bit about science, and quite honestly, I tend to accept scientific explanations over things that are often called supernatural.  Too often people make up stories about things and they're retold as fact, but the reality is that without critical thinking and scientific proof, it's just old wives' tales and urban legends.

As science and technology continue to advance, less and less natural phenomena is ascribed to the supernatural. The Earth revolves around the sun.  We do not have a sun which has a tangible chariot being driven by Sunna across the sky, nor is the moon carried in a physical chariot across the sky driven by Mani.  The sun and moon appear to move across the sky because of the rotation of the Earth. But neither are fixed.  The moon rotates around the Earth, and the sun is moving and dragging us along in the Sagittarius Arm at 45,000 miles per hour.

Does Religion and Science Conflict?

It's easy with the talk of science to discount religion in its entirety. Religion was often used to answer the tough questions of the universe: How did we get here? How was the earth made? In much earlier times, people told stories to explain how these things happened.  They weren't accurate or factual, but they were satisfying stories and were told by people to others in a way to understand the world around them. 

Logic and reasoning gradually took hold.  As we searched for answers, we eventually came up with theories that fit the overall evidence that we found. As our methods and testing became more advanced, we could actually accept the theories as fact, or near fact.  Stories about Odin and his brothers forming humans from trees are interesting, but we know from archaeology that humans evolved over millions of years to what we are now.

Religion and science often clashed over dogma, especially when the Roman Catholic Church held power. Heretics were often excommunicated, or worse. But facts are facts. People can claim that the world is flat all they want, but because the world is really round, eventually the truth wins out.

Is Religion Relevant?

So, the question remains is if religion is still relevant when we have science to explain nature and the physical laws of the universe. More and more religion has taken to explaining what is in the gaps rather than coincide with what we know is true.  Known as the "god of the gaps" or divine fallacy among atheists, many religious types use that as a reason for why their god(s) exist. It goes something like, "well we don't know what started the big bang, therefore the Christian God  (or name your favorite creator god, i.e., Yahweh, Odin, Atum, Vishnu, etc) must have created it."  It's a fallacy because it assumes that we won't find an answer.

If we take our myths at face value, we can say with certainty that they are wrong. The gods didn't carve humans from trees; the Earth isn't the bones and body of some frost giant named Ymir.  But if we take them at a metaphorical level, we begin to see the mindset and even the understanding of our ancestors and recognize certain elements in them that science postulates is true.

Let's look at another religion, for the sake of argument. The number of miracles the Christian god has performed has decreased rapidly with the advent of cameras.  When multiple people can record video on their cellphones, it's hard to claim supernatural occurrences.  Those who do are highly suspect due to clever video editing. They often use pseudo-science to back up claims. In other words, I suspect a large portion of their magic is just fallacy, wishful thinking, and outright falsehoods.

I use the Christian god as an example because so many in the United States call themselves Christian, but the statement holds true for pagans in general. I haven't seen any of the M-word* that convinces me that it truly exists that can't be rationally explained through science in some fashion.  (Granted it may be in areas such as quantum physics, but it may be able to be explained.)

That being said, I've experienced enough weird shit as a Heathen that hasn't been captured on video because I don't go around with a cellphone taking video of everything I see.  Even if I did, it happen so fleetingly that I couldn't have picked up my phone fast enough to capture it. Some isn't visual. Some happens in my head and my dreams.  

I suspect religion and our belief system will remain relevant largely because we're human, and we may not be able to know everything there is out there. Even if science figures out everything about our universe, there are other dimensions and other universes out there, if one is to believe in the multiverse. If there is just one universe but it is infinite, then there is even more weirdness that we can't possibly wrap our heads around because it is bigger than we can ever reach in billions of lifetimes.

The TL;DR Takeaway

Gods, if you've gotten this far on this post, I must thank you.  If you've skipped everything I said above, go back and read it.

So, what do I think?  I believe that the gods and probably religion will remain relevant as long as we are human. They may morph over time and may just become metaphors, or they may grow with our knowledge.

At this time, I'm willing to accept that there are other beings, more powerful than ourselves, who either set in motion the creation of our Universe, or are manifestations of the very forces they wield. We know that string theory insists that there are at least 10 dimensions, and maybe more.  Who knows what is hiding in those areas we can't see?

Yeah, maybe it is the god of the gaps fallacy written large. But all I know was I was willing to stand by my agnosticism until Tyr and Thor pulled me into Heathenry.  At some point, you've got to make a decision about your beliefs.  I know I did.

*M-word = magic


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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Runecasting for Recons (not really)

Gods, I love alliteration.  So, I couldn't help myself with the title.  But who knows?  Maybe the recons will learn something when they read this.

Or probably just talk smack on Reddit.  Just saying...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Runecasting and the M- Word

I really hate the M- word.  It suddenly puts Heathenry into the realm of Wiccan and other m(agic) based beliefs. It suggests that there isn't a good reason why something happened.  And for the Rational Heathen, that drives me batty.

I've been accused in the past of being atheistic because I waffle on certain elements of our beliefs.  And yet, there are plenty of nonbelievers in the ranks of heathens, who don't necessarily believe in the gods as people, but still wish to preserve the old ways.  And yet, I have had more encounters with our gods, and even the wights, than some of the staunch believers have.

Go figure.

About Runecasting

So, when I talk about runecasting, understand that this is my interpretation of it.  It isn't necessarily the only way to do it.  It's not even the right way.  But it is my way and if you can learn some things from my methods, then terrific.

Before I get started on this, I don't consider myself an expert in the runes. I know the Elder Futhark and I cast those runes. There are other runes that are equally valuable such as the Younger Futhark, the Anglo Saxon runes, and others.  None of them are inferior.  But unless you make yourself a set, or find someone who makes these runes, chances are the runes you'll pick up are Elder Futhark.  Which is okay.  There's a lot more written about them than the other runes, anyway.

How I Got into Runecasting

My sister (who, weirdly enough is a devout Christian), gave me Ralph Blum's Book on runes when it first came out when I was in junior high or high school (yeah, it was that long ago).  I dinked around with them throughout high school and college, not knowing what the Hel I was doing.  Even so, the runes had a tendency to give me consistent, true readings. As I started reading other rune material, I outlined the rules in my own mind, what the runes meant, and how to runecast.  Even now, I follow these rules when I do a runecast.

It works for me.  It may not work for you.

My Rules to Runecasting

These are my rules when it comes to runecasting.  Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV), and you probably have a method that suits you.

Choose Runes that Speak to You

I'm not talking about actual speech here.  I'm talking about what feels right in your hands.  I have probably around 10 rune sets, some which I do not like or connect with.  There's one runeset, a runeset made from hematite, that feels right in my hands. I have one runeset I totally despise that is a card runeset (similar to Tarot) that I picked up because I thought it would be different.  (Boy howdy, it was.)  I've been ambivalent on some wooden runes I bought. I don't know the wood and they don't seem to have a connection to me.  So, I don't use them.  YMMV.  Again.

Abandon Conventional Tarot Wisdom

Don't treat the runes as though they were Tarot cards (they're not).  That means there is no merkstave (upside down) readings.  We have enough negative implications with some of the runes, depending on how you read them. The rune, whether you pull it out upside down or sideways, or whatever, is the rune.  However, can you read a different interpretation with an upside down rune?  You can do what you like.  I think it's incorrect, but hey, that's my interpretation.  Again, YMMV.

Abandon the Blank Rune

This is clearly a Ralph Blum invention, although someone might call me on this and tell me somewhere in yada...yada... lore someone used one.  Pertho is more the unknown rune, so we use that.  Someone always says to use it as a spare.  For the life of me, I don't know how I would cut into the hematite to replace a lost stone.  I'd probably just rob a stone from another set.

Read Right to Left

Okay, I'm sure there's no real cause for this other than learning it this way.  You can read anyway you want, as long as you have the rules settled in your mind and with the runes.

Read as Much as You can on Interpretations

This seems a no-brainer, but I would argue that you need to read as much as you can on the various interpretations of a particular rune. Even when I think I'm settled on an interpretation, I'll get an odd reading that causes me to go back to the books.

How I Believe the Runes Work

I'm avoiding the M-word when it comes to runes, because I sincerely don't believe in magic.  I suspect how they work is that they tap into our subconscious which pays far more attention to the world than our conscious selves. I remember having the runes come up with a positive outcome to a particularly difficult time in my life and later discussing them with a physicist friend of mine. He thought they worked because they offered only general interpretation that could fit any circumstance, and yet, I've hit the nail on the head more times with runes than not. So, if there's something else going on, I suspect it's largely subconscious.  But occasionally I've seen the gods intervene in the runes, which suggest maybe they have a hand in tipping the scales, subconsciously, or through quantum means.

Remember what I've quoted Arthur C. Clarke so many times about technology being indistinguishable from magic?

Next week, I'll do a sample rune reading...