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Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

As I sit and work day-to-day, I remember when I first heard about COVID-19 pandemic, Tyr told me that my job was now to stay safe and alive. So far, I’ve managed to do so. But it got me thinking about others who do not hear the gods, and I’d imagine they wonder the gods have to say when it comes to this already brutal year.

We Now Continue Our Year From Hell…

I intentionally used the Christian Hell, because I doubt strongly Lady Hel would treat humans this badly. 2021 is shaping up to be as awful as 2020 in a lot of respects. Sure it’s a new year, and we have the vaccine, but it’s going to take a shitload of inoculations before we can truly think this pandemic nightmare is finally over. Assuming the vaccine does what it’s supposed to do.

Our ancestors dealt with diseases all the time, and unfortunately they did not live long. You had a one in three chance of dying before you turned 21. If you were a woman back then, the chance of dying in childbirth was huge. Most people didn’t make it to 50. True. If you did, you were very old. It took courage and strength to survive in the Viking Era. Despite all the hardship, people did live their lives and lived as Heathens.

What the Gods Might Say to Us About the Pandemic

When it suits the gods, I sometimes hear from them. Despite my connection to them, I try very hard not to put words in their mouths. Different gods have different agendas. Even so, I do get impressions and feeling from them. And the message I get is to survive. Yes. Survive. You, me, …everyone. Use our brains to understand what is happening and listen to those who know more about it than we do. That means, listen to medical and health professionals who have more knowledge than your neighbor, your favorite politician, or your favorite conspiracy website. Even I don’t have the answers to everything, but I will tell you how I see it. Too many people are quick to go back to “normal” living when most of the population isn’t vaccinated, and we really don’t know how long the vaccine is effective.

As Heathens, we need to understand that the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run to us when we call. They don’t coddle us. They expect us to behave like the adults we are and face our problems head on. That may mean to show enough courage to wear a mask to protect the more susceptible people. To give up our parties and socializing for a while. And even to act like an adult when others aren’t.

Not Our First Pandemic: Our Ancestors had it Rough

I get it. It’s been a tough year sheltering in place. But guys, we have it easy comparatively speaking, to our ancestors. Our medical professionals tell us to wear masks, stay at home when not doing anything that is vitally essential, and social distance when we’re in places with other people. Yeah, the virus has screwed with our jobs and our livelihoods; I get that. Kids can’t socialize and play with others. Yeah, I get that too. Suddenly parents have had to become parents again and deal with their family on the full-time basis. Not always easy.

I look at how our ancestors had to cope with disease and hardship, and look at us today. Despite almost a half million dead in the United States alone—and yeah, I do know people who have had this terrible disease, or who work with patients who have it—we humans are better prepared than we have ever been to combat this disease. And what’s more, simple measures such as wearing a mask, handwashing, and maintaining a distance from others who are not in your immediate household can help prevent you from getting the virus and spreading it to others. When compared to what our ancestors had to deal with, our sacrifices for not spreading the disease seem minor.

Humanity hasn’t Changed, Much to My Chagrin

All that being said, I’ve been horrified that our behavior as a species hasn’t changed since the last pandemic. And how we haven’t changed that much since diseases such as the plague have ravaged our populations. Different accounts have shown that people’s behavior is still pretty much the same in a crisis. Despite all the progress in science we’ve made, people are still quick to trust in their god or gods that they will be spared despite our knowledge and education. Or they go about blaming conspiracies by certain mistrusted groups. Or they make shit up and try that to protect themselves.

In short, most people have never learned critical thinking. And honestly, that will be the downfall of humanity. Our own stupidity and ignorance will kill us faster than anything else because most are unwilling to understand the logic behind health professionals’ recommendations. You know, the guys with the fifty-pound heads who study diseases for a living? Who make recommendations from the current data they have? No, they’re not infallible. And no, they may change their recommendations as new data comes to light, but honestly, would you rather trust your neighbor who believes in chemtrails, or a seasoned medical professional with enough training and degrees, who has studied this disease, and has the latest information?

The Gods are Not Your Bitches

Look, if you’re looking for Odin, Thor, or whomever to keep yourself and your family safe from this pandemic, I’ve got news for you. The gods are not your bitches. They don’t come when we call them like some well-trained dog looking for a biscuit. Look, I’m on good relations with about a half-dozen gods and goddesses, and they don’t pop in most of the time when I talk to them. Sure, they listen. But whether they decide to talk with me is their decision; not mine. I get that.

Asking a god or goddess to protect you from COVID-19 while you’re still going to bars, not wearing masks, and not social distancing is insulting to our gods. They expect for us to use our brains and show foresight. They expect us to take the measures we can to protect ourselves from a pandemic. To expect them to keep you safe is ludicrous.

So, yeah, trust in the gods, but prepare yourselves. And don’t treat our gods like the Christians treat theirs.

When You’re Stumbling Around in the Dark

When You’re Stumbling Around in the Dark

Where the fuck did April go? I swear, it was just the first week when I promised myself to sit down and write.  Only there were plenty of distractions, most of them from working as a professional writer and a small-time rancher. Like predators entering the horse pen.  Or trying to avoid the bear coming around to investigate things. Or my computer of five years taking a crap.

To make matters worse, I’ve been wracking my brains trying to come up with a better writing strategy. To be blatantly honest, very little of what I write makes lots of money, whereas before as a professional writer I did okay and made a reasonable living.  Since that time, a lot of things in my life changed and I seriously need to do damage control after so many bad things occurred. I won’t get into the issues involved, but let me say that although some were self caused, many were just a run of bad luck.  So, like a good Heathen, I decided to take stock of what I could do.

When the Gods Offer Advice

For several months I felt like I was alone. Tyr and Skadi were there, but they felt aloof. I suspect it was more me than them. The gods talk to those of us who listen, but sometimes when your life is a shitstorm, it’s hard to feel them. And yet, during this time, I’ve had conversations with Tyr. Which suggests I’m really not alone in all this. Around the Spring Equinox, Freyr stepped into my life. Not in a big way, per se, but as a counselor of sorts.  He directed me toward an avenue of novel writing that I had been capable of doing before the bunch of ugly things happened. Namely writing a book every few months. A writing friend of mine accidentally pointed me in that direction and we had a very frank conversation about what they were doing in terms of writing books.

Freyr told me to take this route because it had worked for me in the past. Never mind that I hadn’t been able to sit and write every day (sometimes I don’t practice what I preach) and I certainly hadn’t been able to write 1000 words a day on a novel, let alone the 2000 words I used to crank out.

Consulting the Runes

After feeling particularly depressed after a hard day of writing, I sat down and consulted the runes. I do this often to center myself, but I hadn’t been centering myself lately.  I tried to put myself in a meditative state and tried to remember the Teiwas Shoat pattern. That didn’t happen and I didn’t feel like searching for a runes book or going online. Instead, I ended up doing two three rune readings with an overarching rune that tied the two readings together. The runes told me I would embark successfully on this new writing journey, but there would be ups and downs. No surprise there. And the over-arching rune? Why, Fehu, of course.

I then pulled out four runes, asking who was advising me. Of course.  It was Freyr and Tyr. The other two runes were a bit more murky, but I suspect one was Skadi and the other was Loki.

What We Can Learn from this

Our northern gods tend to be hands-off when it comes to our lives. Frustrating for those of us who were raised with the Christian god who never seemed to be personal even when that’s what he promised in his religion. Our gods can be very personal in our lives, but they’re not interested in controlling your life the way the Christian god does. This can be somewhat frightening when we’ve been treated like children most of our lives by one religion and then told to step up and put on the adult pants when we change to Heathenry. Yes. it can even be terrifying when you realize that prayer isn’t going to pay the rent, put food on the table, or better your life. Our gods are a resource of inspiration and yes, knowledge, we can tap into. They can comfort us or urge us to action, but they seldom get involved directly.

Our Gods Aren’t Vending Machines

One thing I’ve learned talking to Tyr is that he often gives me the space to reason out the problem. He may drop subtle or not-so-subtle hints as to how I should do something. (Now, Skadi has dropped animals in my lap while I’m hunting, so I can’t say she doesn’t take a keen interest in my success, but I feel that is her prerogative.) Freyr has been offering me advice too.  He has even pointed where I need to go to do what I need to do. That being said, our gods aren’t vending machines. Saying X number of prayers to them doesn’t give you a prize at the end. Giving gifts to them works up to a point. The god or goddess may do whatever the Hel he or she wants to do, whether or not it is in your interest and whether or not they accept your offering.

Have a Conversation with Your Gods

The gift for a gift is a nice thought, but I think it’s more important to have a conversation with our deities. When you have familiarity with the gods you ask help from, you’re more likely to get it than if you just approach a god out of the blue. For example, it’d be foolish for me to solicit Heimdallr for help even though he’s part of our pantheon. Why?  Because I don’t have a rapport with Heimdallr. I have more of a rapport with Loki than with him, oddly enough. But even though I do have a rapport with Loki, when I ask for help, it’s usually advice. I know his advice can be good or bad, and it’s up to me to determine what the trickster is actually saying. For advice, I trust Tyr, Thor, Freyr, Freyja, and Skadi. They’re pretty my go-to gods, but if it’s not in an area they have domain over, they will refer me to others to speak with. In that case, I know they’ve already at least introduced me to the god or goddess I need to talk with.

What to Do if You Don’t Hear the Gods

What if you don’t hear the gods like I do?  It’s a simple matter, really. Talk to the god you’ve had the most rapport and see if you get any feelings from them. The feelings may be your own, or they may be the god’s to let you know which way you need to go to solve the particular problem. Many times, it’s nonverbal cues. You might have someone show up who may have an answer to the problem, or you may get a sudden flash of insight. The main thing is to keep your mind open and look for opportunities, even when you feel there are none.

Anyway, I will write more here. I promise. Have you missed me?

Prayer Only Goes So Far

Prayer Only Goes So Far

Prayer.  Its power is something a lot of people take for granted when something bad happens. People pray for their god or gods to make things better when something bad happens. Or they pray to whatever wights and spirits in the hopes that things will improve.   Prayer gives people a sense that they are doing something to change the situation.  But, they’re not.  Not really.

The Wild Hunt Article

I was reading a Wild Hunt article about Native Americans and pagans “healing” the waters of Lake Okeechobee.  Long story short, members of the Indigenous peoples and pagans there are walking around the entire length of the lake (the second largest freshwater lake in the contiguous US) and praying for the waters to heal, and hopefully forgive humans for causing the damage to the ecosystem.

Some Explanation Before I Continue

Now, before I get into my rant, let me first say that I have the utmost respect for the Native Americans.  These people have been treated horribly–and are still being treated horribly–by the United States government. These people have, in many cases, been stripped of their culture, language, and religion, not to mention their freedom and their lives. Even into the 1950s and 1960s, children were being stolen from their parents, put in orphanages, and then sold to white people for a mere donation.  I’ve known plenty of people with Native American ancestry and I respect them highly.  What was done to their people is unconscionable.

This post is not questioning whether their beliefs are “right” or “wrong,” but rather the methodology being used to “fix” the problem.  The problem is quite real and it affects people, both Indigenous and those from other ancestry.

Continuing onward…

Lake Okeechobee and its Problems

Okay, I get that there’s a problem with Lake Okeechobee and the issues that arise from humans trying to control the lake’s waters.  The lake, from what I understand, has a containment ring and its waters are only allowed out through canals into the sugarcane fields of the Everglades Agricultural Area.  As a result, the lake is prone to flooding and toxic algae blooms.  The water seeps into the ground, adding arsenic to the aquifers from agriculture.  Not good.

Naturally there is a lot of concern. Algae blooms kill wildlife and make the lake inhospitable to humans. The blooms, if they get out through flooding, cause havoc with the local ecosystem as well as life in the ocean, if it makes it there.  You can guess the issue with the arsenic. Basically, none of it is cool.

Prayers and Pleas

Now, I’m not going to say that people shouldn’t pray to the lake’s spirit.  But reading the article it suggests that humans are going to start healing the waters by praying to the spirit and asking forgiveness.

Seriously, people?

Okay, let me remind you all that the gods and wights are not your bitches and that prayer only goes so far.  If you want to spend a week walking along the lake and saying prayers, that’s nice, but you’re really not doing much. It’s human hubris to think that the wights there would listen without some type of established rapport. And even if they did listen, what exactly would they think about someone saying they’re sorry?

It’s like locking someone in a room and feeding them toxic bread and water occasionally.  And then, someone comes in who looks a lot like their captors and ask for forgiveness.  If you were the wight in that situation, would you respond positively?  I think not.

How a Wight Might Respond

Now, obviously I don’t know the wights or the spirits of that lake.  But knowing how wights react out West, and seeing the general reaction of the spirit of the lake (algae blooms, floods, etc), I can pretty much guess that the apology won’t go very far, if anywhere.  You see, the problem hasn’t changed for the lake, and the lake isn’t getting the help it needs.  Forty or so pagans and Native Americans praying aren’t going to make a difference to its problems.  The only thing that it will respond positively to is returning it to some semblance of a natural state.

Prayer Doesn’t Work, According to Science

Now, if you point out to me that the real intention is to call attention to the problem with their prayer walk, I’d agree with you.  It’s a good media promotion and one that will work given the nature of the situation.  (Pardon the pun.)  But prayer only goes so far, and if you believe the atheists, prayer really doesn’t do shit to improve anything. To a certain degree, they’re spot on.  A real, double-blind scientific study suggests that intercessory prayer doesn’t work and may actually make things worse.  (Talk about a twist.)

Now, we can argue that they were praying to a Christian god, but we really don’t know that for certain.  (Although it’s a pretty sure bet that they were.)  And we can argue that in that case, the people were asking a god for an outcome, and not just talking to the god.  Fair enough.  I concede that point.  But how is this different than thinking your prayers can heal the lake wight? If they are praying to the wight, wouldn’t the wight be able to heal itself, if it could?  If they’re praying for a deity to heal the wight, how is this different than the intercessory prayer?

What DOES Work

Prayer is nice, but it doesn’t do the heavy lifting here. Action, that is repairing the physical damage done to the lake, does work.  Look, I live in the West where there are tons of Superfund sites, caused by past damage to the environment by mining, logging, and yes, damming rivers and lakes. People deal with arsenic and heavy metals in their water, asbestos in the top soil, floods, radon gas in their homes, mudslides, erosion, and widespread wildfires because of past insults to the environment.  The environment responds in ways that it can only respond, given the rules set forth by the laws of physics. To expect anything different is foolhardy, at best.  And yet, people pray for divine intercession to problems that humans have caused.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.  I get that those who don’t have the power to get the clean up done feel powerless and use prayer as a way to assuage their guilt, hopeless feelings, or whatever.  But don’t tell me you’re going to heal the lake through prayer.  That sounds remarkably Christian, and it provides a band-aid when you’ve cut a femoral artery.