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Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

If you’ve followed my blog for more than a couple of years, you know I’ve written about why bad things happen before. But sometimes pieces need updating, and quite honestly, there’s enough turnover in readership to warrant another look at why bad things happen.

The Year of Hell

This year, 2020, will officially be known at my house as the Year of Hell. It started with a close relative dying and went down from there. You already know about the pandemic and economic down turn, as well as the civil unrest.

If there’s any consolation with this pandemic, I may have already gotten COVID-19 and the proverbial Angel of Death has passed by my door. This time. Another positive side, I don’t live in an area with lots of protests. We have also (so far) escaped having a really awful fire season around here, even though we’ve had to deal with unhealthy air from the Washington/Oregon/California fires. I’m not getting as many work assignments, which cuts the money back, but my spouse hasn’t been laid off, and I’m still capable of writing. So, that’s what I’m doing. But, I’ve been watching the news in total disbelief at people’s behavior.

I want to slap everyone’s face and shout, “What is wrong with you people?”

Obviously, that isn’t going to happen, so I am holed up in my little home, hoping the moron who sneezed nearby me at a grocery store didn’t have COVID-19.

Yeah, it’s that kind of year.

No, the Gods Are Not Punishing Us

Bad things happen all the time. Because we’re raised in a Christian society, we’re tempted to draw the conclusion that the gods are punishing us. After all, the Judaeo-Christian god is great at punishing mortals, if you believe the Old Testament. And our Heathen gods and goddesses can be vengeful, but this isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to humans. Unless you really piss off Old One Eye, (Hi, Odin!), chances are you’re just a victim of random events. I mean, seriously, what can one mortal do to garner the wrath of a god or goddess? Certainly not enough to warrant a pandemic, race riots, violent protests and responses, epic wildfires, a global depression, and a very contentious presidential election.

Let me put this in perspective: humans are nothing compared to the universe. The gods take interest in us because we are their children. But they don’t take interest in everyday affairs unless they want to. When the forests become kindling because of a shift in the weather patterns, it’s unlikely Loki threw a match in to start the fires. Rather, he might enjoy the chaos of the outcome, but that is his darker nature. But the wildfire that ensues is either because of lightning, or it is manmade in some way.

Bad Things Happen Randomly

It’s more likely that bad things occur randomly, or may have been set in motion due to poor choices people made. The gods didn’t cause COVID-19 to jump from a bat to a human by way of pangolin or some other animal; viruses are quite handy at doing it by themselves. Chances are, it was the folly of a vendor who trafficked the infected animal, the person who ate the infected animal, or (if you believe the story about the Wuhan laboratory) the lab that isolated the virus. In other words, we have no one to blame–or at least no one to blame but ourselves, as humans.

Why We Look to the Gods when Bad Things Happen

As humans, we often look to higher beings when bad things happen. It’s part of feeling helpless. We ask the gods to help us, or we blame the gods for something that happened to us. But the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run when we call; they often don’t cause calamities either. The tornado that touches down does not know or care that people are in its way. It simply behaves according to its nature as defined by physics.

Likewise, viruses don’t care if you’re the president of the United States or if you’re a child in a third world country. It will infect you if you don’t take precautions against it, and the random luck of your genome and your health may be the only thing that might protect you if you somehow contract the disease.

It’s human nature to look to a higher power when something bad happens. Questions run through our minds such as “Why didn’t Eir stop this?” “Why is Odin punishing me?” “Will Thor protect me?” Our gods generally don’t take sides when it comes to our lives, although we may try to please them with offerings and ask for help, but there are no guarantees. Even Frigg and Odin couldn’t stop the death of their son, Baldr.

Our Wyrd is our Wyrd. It’s how we respond to it that can change it. Not our prayers or offerings.

Why Bad Things Happen

Bad things happen. Good things happen. Sometimes things happen for no reason. Sometimes things happen because humans set things in motion without knowledge of the consequences. And sometimes there are bad people who do bad things. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes Murphy is in control.

I can look at this year and wish it were gone already. It doesn’t mean that next year will be better, but there is always hope that things will improve.

What Can We Do When Bad Things Happen?

Believe it or not, you aren’t totally at the mercy of fate. There are things you can do to prevent further calamity—at least to yourself.  Just like people who wear seatbelts in a rollover crash and somehow survive, you can make everyday choices that will put the odds in your favor if something bad does happen. I mean, some of it is a no-brainer, like wearing seatbelts, wearing a mask when you’re in public, washing your hands, and getting your flu shot. Some things take a little more planning, like when you go on vacation, or choose to live in an area where natural disasters occur.  We evolved with a pretty big brain and enough foresight to conceive of possibilities. Use your brain and think it through. Maybe driving while intoxicated isn’t safe, and you should get a cab instead? Maybe driving with your headlamps off at night isn’t clever?

Occasionally, you’re going to have bad shit happen that you can’t work around. Trust me, I know. I’ve lost people to bad things that I had no control over, although, in retrospect, they did when it came to matters regarding their health. Still, there are things you can’t always account for, and with the exception of Odin and the Norns, we pretty much don’t have a clear picture of everything in our future.  But just remember, the gods aren’t out to get you, unless they’ve told you they are.

And even then, don’t believe everything you hear. Seriously. We can’t control everything, so control what you can and move on.

What Should a Heathen Do About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

What Should a Heathen Do About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

If you’re like me, you’re probably concerned about the novel coronavirus pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, or the disease it causes, 2019-nCoV. Now with it rampaging throughout the world, and in 33 states in the US, it’s not a matter of if, but when. As a Heathen, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it to ensure you and your family’s safety. What should you do about the possibility of quarantines and restricted travel? Naturally, the Rational Heathen has her own thoughts on this matter.

Panic Bad; Preparedness Good

As one of the…mumble, mumble people…in the age demographic that is more at risk, I’ve been cursing that I don’t have a way to grow younger. But the first thing I understand is that in any situation, panicking doesn’t do a damn thing. If anything, it only makes the situation worse. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared for any possibility, such as quarantines, restricted travel, and possible shortages of supplies when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unlikely we’ll see the same Draconian methods we’ve seen in China and elsewhere in the world, but there is a possibility, depending how bad the coronavirus pandemic  might get.

My husband woke me up this morning to ask me a simple question. He asked me if I thought it was too early to start planting seedlings when the National Weather Service forecasted temperatures to drop into the 20s. I have a tiny greenhouse, but it’s not heated, so I told him yes, it was too early. I figure when we stay at least in the 30s, I can start planting.

Now, he never has been concerned enough about the garden to ask me about it. I had volunteered the other day that I had seeds that I could plant that would give us fresh vegetables, if there were shortages. But, of course, I’d have to actually plant them ahead of time. Not that I’m a huge prepper or anything. Even so, we have game meat and can hunt small game. I have livestock. I can and dry food. It’s convenient to do so. My basic Heathen habits of keeping and preserving food has already gotten us far ahead of the curve.

What Should You Do About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do. Maybe you don’t have a small ranch and live in the city or suburbs. I get that.  My soil is too rocky for a garden and the only things I’ve gotten to grow in it is mint, oregano, and thyme. So, I do container gardens. And you can, too, no matter where you are. Check out the Homeland Security’s preparedness pages and prepare a disaster kit for yourself and your family. Planning ahead ensures that you won’t be in panic mode should there be something serious happening.

For the gods’ sake, don’t overbuy stuff. Get what you think you might need should there be an event that quarantines you and your family at home. Remember there are other people in your community who could use the items, too. And while you might be tempted to go Viking with a credit card, that’s just a form of panic. Get what you need, and you won’t fall over dead when the credit card bill shows up in the mail.

Now that the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, the only thing we can do is reduce our contact with sick people, wash our hands a lot, use hand sanitizers, avoid shaking hands, don’t touch our faces, and by the gods, if you’re sick, stay the fuck home.

What About the Gods and the Wights?

If you’re new to Heathenry, chances are you think that praying to the gods for safety or a cure would be the way to go. I am not discouraging you from doing that, but be aware that the gods are not your bitches. In other words, unlike the white Christ, our gods aren’t vending machines. We can perform blots, that is, give them offerings for safety, but they’ll do whatever the Hel they want. And BTW, I don’t believe in Christ for various and sundry reasons, mainly because the stories are blatant rip offs of pagan myths, and no obvious historian who lived during Christ’s time mentions him. It is only some 70 years after Christ do we have anything written about him.

That being said, our gods expect us to handle our own problems. Whether or not you agree with me, humans to a large degree have brought this virus on themselves due to the failure to control our own numbers through birth control until the carrying capacity of the land starts getting stressed and a pandemic hits. And yeah, eating bizarre wild animals that carry coronaviruses isn’t too smart either. Especially endangered species like the pangolin.

Is this a way the Wights are striking at humanity? As a semi-agnostic Wight believer, I can say with all certainty, I don’t know. But you have to admit that when humans are crowded on top of each other, biologically it never ends well. Larger pandemics have occurred with fewer people. Only our technology and medicine have prevented something like the Black Death from happening again. We never learn from history.

The Rational Heathen’s Conclusions

I feel for all the innocents caught up in what is obviously failings on the part of various countries to prepare for an event such as this. If the corona pandemic subsides during the summer, we can expect it to come back with a vengeance in the fall when the cooler weather stimulates its growth and transmission. We just may be lucky that this virus is comparatively mild to what we could get. Stay safe, practice good hygiene, and above all, stay well.