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Author: Tyra Ulfdottir

Gods Don’t Knock–Making Room for the Heathen Gods

Gods Don’t Knock–Making Room for the Heathen Gods

My life is stupid busy.  It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, nor is it something I wear like a badge of honor. Which is why it befuddles me why a god–much less several–would pop into my extremely busy life.  It’s not like I actually opened up a door, even though Tyr says that I did.

(Am I really arguing with a god?)

Information Addiction

Okay, back to something less esoteric (and I swear all this has a Heathen point, so bear with me).  The truth is that someone like me is a real information addict.  Which is why when I start writing anything, I get distracted–oooh, shiny!–and I start researching stuff that leads me to not working but instead hoarding information, and occasionally disseminating it.  Take this piece.  I had no fucking clue what to write about (a constant issue with me) and so I went to some of my favorite sites for inspiration.  Only, there wasn’t inspiration but shit that is just distraction.  Here’s a sample of my browser’s history:

  • 5+ Ways Not to Take Things Personally
  • Web Hosting Hub Review: The Good, Bad & My Experience
  • Brainjunk and the Killing of the Internet Mind
  • 10 Steps to Conquering Information Overload
  • Popular–Wordpress Plugins
  • Between Two Worlds: My Journey With Hekate
  • Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News
  • Lift Weights, Eat More Protein, Especially if You’re Over 40
  • The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week

     

Chances are your browser tabs are loaded in the same way. You’re constantly reading shit other people (including the Rational Heathen) have put out there and have about the attention span of a gnat–oooh,shiny!*

Why We’re Internet Addicted

Humans are, by nature, dopamine addicts.  Dopamine is the feel-good chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy, gives you that sudden rush during orgasm, and causes you to get high if you take drugs that interfere with the natural chemistry of your brain. (Some drugs cause the brain to produce more dopamine; some drugs inhibit the recycling or reuptake mechanisms.  Some really powerful drugs do both, but they’ve got their own risks, like death.) Dopamine causes us to chase after those adrenaline highs (because dopamine is also a precursor to epinephrine and norepinephrine) and it causes us to become thrill seekers. It’s what causes us to hit the feeder bar, as it were, to get that really good feeling again and again.

Internet addiction, by nature, does similar damage to the brain as cocaine.  When we learn something new, guess what?  We get a shot of dopamine.  So, when we’re bombarded with things we read, learn about, feel, etc., we get hits.  But we’re often getting those hits on a fast and furious basis and not in a natural sense.  So, we get artificial highs from hits off our phone, our computer, and our tablet.  But it’s work, right?  (Yeah, I have a million justifications why I have to be playing Castle Siege, too.)

The problem is that even bright people tend to use their time for dopamine chasing and not things that actively enrich their lives. I mean, how many times do you check your Facebook posts, your chat rooms, your email, and your text messages a day?  How many times do you have to look at your phone?  This is not life.  It is not living.  It is certainly not living as a Heathen.

I’m not saying if our ancestors had these tools that they wouldn’t have fallen into the same trap.  On the contrary, they did use psychoactive substances, most likely alcohol and mushrooms.  Those who had contact with the Middle East probably had access to opium poppies.  Did these substances allow the ancestors to see the gods?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’ve known Heathens who swear they have met the gods after getting drunk or smoking weed.  Having never experienced that, I don’t know if it was the weed or alcohol, or whether it was the lack of inhibition that enabled them to connect to the gods.

The Gods Don’t Knock

Thanks to Magickal Graphics

Occasionally I get inspirations from the gods when I’m on the computer, but it’s rare. More often, however, I’ve heard the gods when I’m not linked into the dopamine feeder bar called a computer. It’s because when I’m on computers and smartphones, I’m too tied up chasing that next hit. It’s when I’m away from computers and other distractions that I can finally listen.  And that is when they often talk to me.  Quietly, and in their own way.

I’m not saying that happens every time.  Sometimes I just get silence and nothing else. But the gods don’t knock and ask to speak to you.  You must be ready to hear them.  You can’t hear them if you’re always getting hits from the dopamine feeder bar.  Eventually, you just kind of numb out to everything.

But What About Drugs?

At this point, you’re probably asking “what about drugs or mind-altering substances?”  As much as I’m against illegal drugs (for various reasons, having had first hand experiences with addicts and the damage they leave behind),  I’m not going to lie to you and say that you won’t be able to have a conversation with your chosen deity.  Our ancestors used mushrooms and alcohol, (certainly to channel their inner berserker), and quite possibly to commune with the gods. However, I think the cost of using them to elicit possible contact may be greater than you’ve anticipated.   For one thing, the types of drugs used back then are nowhere near the potency of today’s illegal drugs.  Even marijuana (which I don’t think the ancestors used) was less potent than it is today.  Meth and heroin, for example, are much stronger than what was available in the Viking Era. Then, there is always the “bad trip” and the always nasty side effects of mushrooms such as the toxic Amanita muscaria or fly agaric, purported to be the mushrooms the berserkers used.

There is a Better Way

I’ve been doing a lot more research on meditation, since it is my chosen path to the gods. Although it is touted as an Eastern discipline, I suspect that our ancestors may have used it to focus on the gods as well. It is a way to train your mind that just about anyone can do.  It has the benefit of being able to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and give you greater control over your mind and body without feeling like you’re into self-flagellation. If anything, it’s actually quite relaxing.

 

If you’re looking for a book on the subject, I highly recommend Dan Harris’s Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book.  I picked it up because I loved the title, but it is a good place to learn how to do it.  Also, if you do buy it from the link, I get a small amount of compensation which will help support this blog.

Other Ways to Connect with the Gods

Obviously there are many ways to connect with the gods besides meditation, drugs, and unplugging.  One is to go to the places that they are and just listen.  I’m talking going to a natural place and just sitting quietly awhile.  Do you hear Thor’s voice as a spring storm comes up?  Do you feel Skadi’s touch when the wind whips through the trees as snow falls?  Do you feel Tyr’s presence as you look into a starry night’s sky?  Does Sunna embrace you on a clear day?  There are many places to feel the gods and their powers. I suspect that if you don’t hear a god, you might connect with a landvaettir, which might be just as rewarding.  My point is that our gods seldom look to contact us, unless we open ourselves for that contact.  That’s why I recommend keeping yourself open and aware.  You just might connect with a god or goddess.  Maybe not the one you intended to connect with, but one that you need to hear from.


*Actually our attention span is less than nine seconds, which is less than a goldfish’s attention span.

Were Vikings Flat-Earthers?

Were Vikings Flat-Earthers?

With all this talk about Flat-Earthers, you’ve got to wonder if our ancestors really thought the Earth was truly flat.  Educated folk knew the Earth was round since the time of the Greeks, but there was a lot of superstition when our ancestors lived, so let’s talk about Norse Cosmology…  Read more for just $1

You thought quantum mechanics was weird: check out entangled time

You thought quantum mechanics was weird: check out entangled time

I really think this has implications for Heathen beliefs.  Check it out.

In the summer of 1935, the physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger engaged in a rich, multifaceted and sometimes fretful correspondence about the implications of the new theory of quantum mechanics. The focus of their worry was what Schrödinger later dubbed entanglement: the inability to describe two quantum systems or particles independently, after they have interacted.

Until his death, Einstein remained convinced that entanglement showed how quantum mechanics was incomplete. Schrödinger thought that entanglement was the defining feature of the new physics, but this didn’t mean that he accepted it lightly. ‘I know of course how the hocus pocus works mathematically,’ he wrote to Einstein on 13 July 1935. ‘But I do not like such a theory.’ Schrödinger’s famous cat, suspended between life and death, first appeared in these letters, a byproduct of the struggle to articulate what bothered the pair.

The problem is that entanglement violates how the world ought to work. Information can’t travel faster than the speed of light, for one. But in a 1935 paper, Einstein and his co-authors showed how entanglement leads to what’s now called quantum nonlocality, the eerie link that appears to exist between entangled particles. If two quantum systems meet and then separate, even across a distance of thousands of lightyears, it becomes impossible to measure the features of one system (such as its position, momentum and polarity) without instantly steering the other into a corresponding state.

Up to today, most experiments have tested entanglement over spatial gaps. The assumption is that the ‘nonlocal’ part of quantum nonlocality refers to the entanglement of properties across space. But what if entanglement also occurs across time? Is there such a thing as temporal nonlocality?
The answer, as it turns out, is yes. Just when you thought quantum mechanics couldn’t get any weirder, a team of physicists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported in 2013 that they had successfully entangled photons that never coexisted. Previous experiments involving a technique called ‘entanglement swapping’ had already showed quantum correlations across time, by delaying the measurement of one of the coexisting entangled particles; but Eli Megidish and his collaborators were the first to show entanglement between photons whose lifespans did not overlap at all.

Here’s how they did it. First, they created an entangled pair of photons, ‘1-2’ (step I in the diagram below). Soon after, they measured the polarisation of photon 1 (a property describing the direction of light’s oscillation) – thus ‘killing’ it (step II). Photon 2 was sent on a wild goose chase while a new entangled pair, ‘3-4’, was created (step III). Photon 3 was then measured along with the itinerant photon 2 in such a way that the entanglement relation was ‘swapped’ from the old pairs (‘1-2’ and ‘3-4’) onto the new ‘2-3’ combo (step IV). Some time later (step V), the polarisation of the lone survivor, photon 4, is measured, and the results are compared with those of the long-dead photon 1 (back at step II).

 

Figure 1. Time line diagram: (I) Birth of photons 1 and 2, (II) detection of photon 1, (III) birth of photons 3 and 4, (IV) Bell projection of photons 2 and 3, (V) detection of photon 4.

The upshot? The data revealed the existence of quantum correlations between ‘temporally nonlocal’ photons 1 and 4. That is, entanglement can occur across two quantum systems that never coexisted.
What on Earth can this mean? Prima facie, it seems as troubling as saying that the polarity of starlight in the far-distant past – say, greater than twice Earth’s lifetime – nevertheless influenced the polarity of starlight falling through your amateur telescope this winter. Even more bizarrely: maybe it implies that the measurements carried out by your eye upon starlight falling through your telescope this winter somehow dictated the polarity of photons more than 9 billion years old.

Lest this scenario strike you as too outlandish, Megidish and his colleagues can’t resist speculating on possible and rather spooky interpretations of their results. Perhaps the measurement of photon 1’s polarisation at step II somehow steers the future polarisation of 4, or the measurement of photon 4’s polarisation at step V somehow rewrites the past polarisation state of photon 1. In both forward and backward directions, quantum correlations span the causal void between the death of one photon and the birth of the other.

Just a spoonful of relativity helps the spookiness go down, though. In developing his theory of special relativity, Einstein deposed the concept of simultaneity from its Newtonian pedestal. As a consequence, simultaneity went from being an absolute property to being a relative one. There is no single timekeeper for the Universe; precisely when something is occurring depends on your precise location relative to what you are observing, known as your frame of reference. So the key to avoiding strange causal behaviour (steering the future or rewriting the past) in instances of temporal separation is to accept that calling events ‘simultaneous’ carries little metaphysical weight. It is only a frame-specific property, a choice among many alternative but equally viable ones – a matter of convention, or record-keeping.

The lesson carries over directly to both spatial and temporal quantum nonlocality. Mysteries regarding entangled pairs of particles amount to disagreements about labelling, brought about by relativity. Einstein showed that no sequence of events can be metaphysically privileged – can be considered more real – than any other. Only by accepting this insight can one make headway on such quantum puzzles.

The various frames of reference in the Hebrew University experiment (the lab’s frame, photon 1’s frame, photon 4’s frame, and so on) have their own ‘historians’, so to speak. While these historians will disagree about how things went down, not one of them can claim a corner on truth. A different sequence of events unfolds within each one, according to that spatiotemporal point of view. Clearly, then, any attempt at assigning frame-specific properties generally, or tying general properties to one particular frame, will cause disputes among the historians. But here’s the thing: while there might be legitimate disagreement about which properties should be assigned to which particles and when, there shouldn’t be disagreement about the very existence of these properties, particles, and events.

These findings drive yet another wedge between our beloved classical intuitions and the empirical realities of quantum mechanics. As was true for Schrödinger and his contemporaries, scientific progress is going to involve investigating the limitations of certain metaphysical views. Schrödinger’s cat, half-alive and half-dead, was created to illustrate how the entanglement of systems leads to macroscopic phenomena that defy our usual understanding of the relations between objects and their properties: an organism such as a cat is either dead or alive. No middle ground there.

Most contemporary philosophical accounts of the relationship between objects and their properties embrace entanglement solely from the perspective of spatial nonlocality. But there’s still significant work to be done on incorporating temporal nonlocality – not only in object-property discussions, but also in debates over material composition (such as the relation between a lump of clay and the statue it forms), and part-whole relations (such as how a hand relates to a limb, or a limb to a person). For example, the ‘puzzle’ of how parts fit with an overall whole presumes clear-cut spatial boundaries among underlying components, yet spatial nonlocality cautions against this view. Temporal nonlocality further complicates this picture: how does one describe an entity whose constituent parts are not even coexistent?

Discerning the nature of entanglement might at times be an uncomfortable project. It’s not clear what substantive metaphysics might emerge from scrutiny of fascinating new research by the likes of Megidish and other physicists. In a letter to Einstein, Schrödinger notes wryly (and deploying an odd metaphor): ‘One has the feeling that it is precisely the most important statements of the new theory that can really be squeezed into these Spanish boots – but only with difficulty.’ We cannot afford to ignore spatial or temporal nonlocality in future metaphysics: whether or not the boots fit, we’ll have to wear ’em.

Aeon counter – do not remove
Elise Crull
This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Surprising Ways Groundhog’s Day is Really a Heathen Holiday (And You Thought it was Just a Movie)

Surprising Ways Groundhog’s Day is Really a Heathen Holiday (And You Thought it was Just a Movie)

Why do we care what rodents think and why is Punxsutawney Phil an obvious celebrity who can’t even beat a coin flip when it comes to predicting the weather? Well, I’ll tell you.

Weather Prognostication and Varmints

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the drill.  If the groundhog sees its shadow on February 2nd, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, we’ll have an early spring. The most famous groundhog, which has been around for about 130 years, is Punxsutawney Phil (who apparently can’t die, if you believe his caretakers, that is the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle). Phil is brought out from his cushy “den” in front of a crowd and the handlers pronounce the weather.  Made famous by the movie, Groundhog’s Day, Punxsutawney Phil isn’t particularly good at forecasting the weather, being only 39 percent right during his entire 130 years.

Punsutawney Phil is a Pagan

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Punxsutawney Phil is a pagan.  Or more accurately, he comes from pagan roots.  The practice of looking at groundhogs and shadows comes directly from the Pennsylvanian Dutch who looked for badgers or bears to predict whether there would be more winter or if there would be an early spring. These settlers came from Germany and were greatly influenced by folk tales and customs which were handed down generations even after they became Christianized and settled in the United States. The Pennsylvanian Dutch had their own stories about the gods, their own magic and beliefs in magic, and their own customs.

The observance of Grundsaudaag (Groundhog’s Day) and the twelve day festival of Entschtanning in Braucherei (the magic system of the Pennsylvanian Dutch), the groundhog is an otherworldly messenger and may actually hail back to the squirrel, Ratatosk, who climbs along the World Tree to deliver insults from Nidhoggr and the eagle to each other.  Historians have traced Groundhog’s Day to Candlemas, which in turn was the Catholic Church’s way of incorporating pagan rituals into Christianity.

Urglaawe comes from pagan-observed spring customs and possibly from the Celtic pagan celebration of Imbolc.  In

Urglaawe and Grundsaudaag

One branch of Heathenry, Urglaawe, is based on the Pennsylvanian Dutch folklore, legends, and myths.  It’s actually quite refreshing to see a denomination of Heathenry that incorporates American traditions, albeit, traditions that originally came from southwest Germany.  It’s also refreshing to see more prevalent goddesses in a branch of Heathenry.  Urglaawe’s most prominent god is actually a goddess: Frau Holle.  There are other interesting goddesses too such as Tyr’s wife, Zisa, and
Weisskepicch Fraa, the White-Haired Lady.

Grundsaudaag is the beginning of Entschtanning, which means “emergence.”  This is the time when followers of Urglaawe begin their spring preparations. This includes spring cleaning and creating and honoring the Butzemann, who symbolizes the land’s guardian spirit. The Butzemann is like a scarecrow and is male because it is the energy of the growing plants which live in the Earth, which is considered female.  There’s a nifty article on Huginn’s Heathen Hof about Groundhog’s Day and Urglaawe, if you’re interested.

Christian Trolls and Other Idiots

Christian Trolls and Other Idiots

Well, the Rational Heathen has been trolled by a Christian, who either is terribly misinformed, or just a troll. Christians, he believes, converted barbaric Heathens peacefully.  According to him, Heathens were just mass killers and rapists. Now, if that got you bristling, good.  Here are the facts behind so-called peaceful Christians and barbaric pagans.

Before I get started, let me point out there were so many instances that they just don’t fit in a single
post.  So today I’m just going to talk about forced conversions and just touch on the witchcraft trials and other lovely situations like burning at the stake.  If you’re really interested in the background behind my assertions, (and the gory details–literally), that’s going into a premium post which you can access for just $1.

Let’s Talk “Peaceful Conversion”

Let me point out that Christians were exceedingly barbaric once they got into power. From Constantine on, both sides of the Roman Empire (East and West), began systematic elimination of pagan practices, most which were punishable by death.  Pagan temples were regularly looted and closed by the government.  While there were a few emperors who turned a blind eye to pagan traditions, others would come along that would close pagan temples and colleges, loot the temples and strip the priests and Vestal Virgins of their pay, and outlaw sacrifices to pagan gods which would cause the practitioner to be put to death.  Another interesting practice outlawed with the death penalty as punishment was reading the entrails of fowl or sheep to predict the future. Constantine looted temples; his successor, Constantius II carried on a crusade against pagans.  Eventually Theodosius I made paganism illegal and many Jews as well as pagans were forced to convert or suffer loss of their possessions, buildings, or even their lives.  

Desecrate Sacred Places

Pope Gregory I knew there were still pagans among the Christians who practiced their own religion in secret.  To crowd them out, he decreed that the Church should take over their sacred glens, grottoes, caves, and mountains and put Christian altars and relics there.  The idea was to remove all pagan symbolism and to establish it as being Christian and not pagan.  You can probably imagine how the pagans felt seeing their own holy areas desecrated in such a fashion.  

If you’re a Christian, imagine how you might feel seeing your church replaced by a pagan temple and you’ve been told that the pagan gods are the only true gods, and that you can’t worship your god there.  Wow.  I bet that just blew your mind.  Never mind that Heathenism doesn’t do that, nor do most pagan religions, but think about it.  What if you could not worship your god and if you did, be put to death?  Yes, there are some countries that treat Christians badly, but imagine this was across the world as you knew it: the Roman Empire. 

In Fear for One’s Life and Freedom

Once Christianity took hold, Christians were just as barbaric to pagans as the Christian troll stated the pagans were to Christians. In many places, a Christian owning Christian slaves was forbidden, but it was a-okay for Christians to own pagan, Muslim, or Jewish slaves. (Now, granted the same was true with other beliefs: Muslims generally would not own Muslims, Heathens would usually not own Heathens, etc. As long as you were of the “other,” castrating you and sending you into slavery was just fine.)  The Vikings had a huge slave trade economy, but then so did the Italians, the Muslims, and other faiths.  Eunuchs were big business and there were special eunuch houses designed just for that purpose.

If that isn’t enough to make you shudder, consider Charlemagne.  During the Saxon wars, he forced the Saxons to convert and those that didn’t were put to death.  The Massacre of Verden saw the death of 4500 pagan Saxons alone because they refused to convert.  

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

After Spain drove out the Moors, the rest of the non-Christians were forced to convert or be executed.  They then had to endure the Spanish Inquisition which tortured and put to death many of the forced converts who were under suspicion of practicing their former religion in secrecy.  It’s estimated that about 30,000 to 50,000 people were burned at the stake in a 300 year period by the Inquisition alone.  If you confessed to your “sins” you would be strangled before being burned to show mercy.  Either way, dead or alive, you were going to get torched.  Remember, these are the followers of the so-called “Prince of Peace.”

Burning Witches and Other Horrid Practices

Now, whether you want to split hairs about whether the people burned were heretics or whether they were actually pagans is pretty immaterial.  Burning at the stake was a common method of “saving” people’s souls.  I ran into one site that claims in the 16th and 17th centuries about 200,000 people were burned to death just for witchcraft.  That’s pretty horrible.  Now, granted not all of them were pagan or claimed to be witches, but these were people who died horrible deaths.  Oh, and I saw some statement that burning was considered different than being immersed in boiling liquid.  (Death by boiling.)  Fuck that shit.  Christians were cruel.

I’m not saying our Heathen ancestors were lily-white either.  But those who live in glass houses should never throw stones.




Wolves in Norse Myth [Video]

Wolves in Norse Myth [Video]

A great video by Jackson Crawford.

Pagan Art in the Capitol Building or How Christians Get Their Panties in a Wad Over Non-Christian Symbolism [Premium Content]

Pagan Art in the Capitol Building or How Christians Get Their Panties in a Wad Over Non-Christian Symbolism [Premium Content]

I was reading a Christian blog on Patheos (yeah, I read what other religions think) and ran into this piece by the Progressive Christian.  I rolled my eyes and snickered over such ludicrous hand-wringing over The Apotheosis of Washington  because apparently some people take the image literally and not symbolically.

I vaguely remember seeing this when I visited the Capitol building many moons ago as a child/teenager, and I recall my own emotions over it, but I think I leave that to a little later while I discuss the piece.

READ MORE for Just $1 and get access to all my past premium content!

The Draw of Family in the Heathen Context

The Draw of Family in the Heathen Context

My sister called me and told me that an unknown relative contacted her.  Apparently the grandson of my deceased uncle was doing research into my mom’s side of the family and somehow tracked us down to find out what we knew.

Well, blood is apparently thicker than water.  And much to my chagrin, I am not adopted.  “Why?” you may ask.  Because the grandson, whom I’ll call Thor for privacy sake, is just like me.

Poor kid. And he reproduced.

[Facepalm]

How it Happened

Thor received the call of the ancestors when his own kid started asking questions about his relatives.  Seems Thor really didn’t have much to go on originally, having never been in touch with my mom’s relatives.  I wasn’t particularly interested in staying in contact with my mom’s side since I had so little in common with them.  My relatives always dismissed me as a loner and a weird intellectual with nothing in common with them.   They were mainly into shopping and impressing people.  I couldn’t give a damn about what people thought of me unless it got me beat up.  (Yeah, I had a few scuffles when I was a kid.)  So, when my sister told me that Thor was doing research and needed some info, I chatted with him over the Internet.

Shit. He did a similar career route as I did.  He likes the same stuff I do.  He even has the same sleep habits.  He is a smart ass too.  Thor confirmed some things my dad told me before he died (and I confirmed Thor’s research).  I was able to tell him some stories, which probably thrilled him.

The Pull of the Ancestors

I’m always amazed when the Ancestors step into people’s lives.  I figured mine wanted as much to do with me as I did with them.  Many were rather unsavory characters whom most people wouldn’t be excited to boast about.  My medieval ancestors were Vikings and Normans (troublemakers) who went as high as dukes on one side and knights on the other.  Their descendants were sadly nowhere near as glamorous by the time the 19th century rolled around.  So, I pretty much decided that I had little to do with them. Even when Tyr called me into Heathenry, I was generic in my veneration of ancestors with the secret hope that maybe I got switched at birth.  No such luck.  Thor proves I’m out of the same fucking lines.

So, I’m feeling the pull of the ancestors as well.  I’ll be going through all the old notes my parents passed onto me and see if it puts together the pieces for Thor. Maybe Thor will be able to tell his child where he came from and what kind of people were his relatives — the good and the bad stories — ugly warts and all. And maybe the kid will be interested in those of us who are still around.

Where Did I Come From?

It seems that we all have a need to understand where we come from, whether from royalty or paupers, criminals or heroes, sinners or saints. It helps us understand who we are and what influenced us genetically.  It used to be that we believed it was DNA and how we grew up determined our behavior and traits, but epigenetic inheritance has kind of thrown a monkey wrench into it.  We know that certain stresses on people can cause epigenetic marks on RNA. By learning about our ancestors’ past, we can understand how their experiences might impact us. Of course, this is a relatively new field with new studies all the time.

So, if our ancestors’ experience modified our genes, we’re not only a product of their genes but also their experiences.  It helps us understand ourselves much better. While not all experiences are going to leave an impact on our genes, certain some do.  In which case, we’re not just a product of millions of years of combining DNA but also millions of years of hominid experiences. It may explain weird things like phobias or body types.

We Are All Stories in the End

It’s interesting, because even though many of my relatives are now dead, their stories seem to fascinate the younger relatives.  As The Doctor said, “We are all stories in the end.  Just make it a good one, eh?”  As humans, we need to tell stories and to understand where we came from. Part of the draw to our ancestors is by asking “where did I come from?” we’re trying to answer the question:
“who am I?”

Long after my ashes are scattered, the younger generations will ask “who am I?” and “where did I come from?”  The only thing left on this planet will be stories, if they’re left at all.  Hopefully, I’ll be making it a good one.

In Search of Magic [Premium Content]

In Search of Magic [Premium Content]

As you know, I’m not a believer in magic, per se.  I’ve spent a lot of my time in the rational and scientific realm where seeing is believing.  In other words, you have to have a rational explanation for why something happens. The concept of “magic” was a ludicrous idea.
Which makes my paganism that much more out of place.  And yet, I’ve had incidents occur which suggest that maybe there’s a deeper connection to things than just what we can measure. Read More for Just $1.

18 Questions You Should Ask Yourself — and the Rational Heathen Answers!

18 Questions You Should Ask Yourself — and the Rational Heathen Answers!

I stumbled across 18 Thought-Provoking Questions that Will Free Your Mind in 2018 and was amused by the questions so much I had to share it to my Facebook page.

This is what happens when Firefox and Pocket recommend articles for me to read.  Sadly, I am an Internet junkie–I was addicted to the Internet long before the concept of Internet addiction came into existence–and I had to read the blog with their 18 questions.  Unfortunately, I can’t take the questions–or myself–seriously, so I thought I would give you my honest (and hopefully, amusing) answers.

You may be wondering how I expect to improve myself with my bad attitude.  I really don’t.  If I wanted to improve myself, I would swear off computers for good and go live in a cave.  But I can’t, and I don’t.  Look, I’m now playing Age of Empires: Castle Siege, and trying to beat the shit out of other kingdoms.

Oh yeah…questions.  Here goes:

1. In one sentence, who are you?

Look, is this a trick question?  Now, I have The Who’s lyrics running through my brain:

I woke up in a Soho doorway
A policeman knew my name
He said you can go sleep at home tonight
If you can get up and walk away

Who Are You by The Who, written by Peter Townshend. 

Okay, I’m The Rational Heathen.  Enough said.

2. In one word, what do you live for?

10 million dollars.  Okay, that’s three words.

I kind of like: Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women.

Yeah, I kind of like that. And I know that’s 15 words.

3. What is worth the pain?

Pain?  Are you serious?  Fuck that shit.

I guess it depends on your definition of pain.  If you’re talking childbirth-pain, I opted out of that.  So, the next question of mine would be: what kind of pain are we talking about?  You mean muscle strains?  That’s pretty minor.  Are you talking broken bones?  Been there. Dog bites?  Yeah, I’ve got holes in my arms.  Accidents?  Waking up in the hospital with tubes hanging out of you is no fun.  So, what is worth that?

My point is that there is pain and there are annoying inconveniences. Pain is something that warns you to not do something stupid.  Stuff that causes annoying inconveniences can be dealt with.  So, pain is relative.

I’m not saying to not strive for lofty goals.  Hels bells, I’m one of those who have done some pretty hair-raising shit and lived, but the reality is that if you’re truly committed to a particular goal, the effort it takes will pale in comparison to the prize.  The problem is when you sacrifice yourself, your morals, and your family to achieve that goal. In other words, you shouldn’t destroy yourself over an obsession.

4.  What will you never give up on?

Chocolate.  There, I’ve said it.

This question is like the previous question.  There are things you will stick to and things you will let go of.  Be aware that some things should be given up when they’re a lost cause or an obsession.  You can’t always will things to go your way.

That is a lesson I have learned the hard way.

5. What do you always try to avoid?

Filling out forms and doing bookkeeping.  I hate it.

6. What is something you take for granted every day?

Sleep.

7. What do you need most right now?

Ten million dollars.  Oh, and sleep.

8. What would you immediately do differently if you knew no one would judge you?

 Are we talking legal judging?  Or are we talking societal pressures here?  If it is legal judging, I know of several assholes who would get a serious smackdown.  And they deserve it.

As for societal pressures, hmmm.  I don’t give a shit what people think about me.  It’s pretty obvious.

9.  What’s something nobody could ever steal from you?

Can’t take the sky from me.

10.  Who would you like to forgive right now?

Oh, there’s a Christian thing here.  You know, I have very little forgiveness left.  Those I’ve wanted to forgive, I’ve already forgiven.  Those I have not forgiven, I won’t because I don’t trust them to behave any differently.  At the same time, I don’t stay awake thinking about what they’ve done.  They’re gone from my life.

11.  Happiness is not __________?

Getting your teeth pulled out.  Unless you are in pain from a bunch of rotten teeth.  Then, you might be happy.  Or a masochist.

12. What impact do you want to leave on the people you love?

Sounds painful.  How about a good story?

13.Life is too  short to tolerate _________?

Assholes.  And bad olive oil.  In that order.

14.   What’s something that used to scare you but no longer does?

Birds.

Seriously.  Back in high school, crows used to fly at me.  Guess I pissed off Odin sometime.  Now I’ve handled birds from quail to large raptors.

15. What do you want to remember forever?

How about just remember?  Probably where I left my keys.

16.  What do you always look forward to?

Hunting season.

17.  What recently reminded you how fast time flies?

Oh, thanks for reminding me of this.  My upcoming birthday.

18. What’s something everyone should be able to say before they die?

Dinner was good.

Okay, so I’m not so deep.  Maybe you have better answers than I do.