Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Truth About Mankind

Revealed religions tell us that humans are dangerously flawed. The concept of "sin" is the double-edged sword of Christianity particularly, for while "sin", or "missing the mark" and falling short of the standard of holiness and righteousness set by "God" is a belief held in common by the monotheistic religions of the modern West, Islam and Judaism at least allow human beings to overcome this "sin" by living according to the words of their respective laws, whether from the Koran or the Torah.

In Christianity, however, no human being is believed to be "good enough", nor can they become "good enough" through their own efforts- only their God's forgiving and sanctifying grace which is made possible through the sacrifice of the "christ" can spare a person from sin.

In other words, until a human being falls onto their knees, accepts that they are irreparably flawed, and begs for mercy and for the "christ" to come into their lives and take control, to spiritually fix things as it were, a person is nothing short of doomed. Without "christ", these people reckon, no person can be noble enough, brave enough, kind enough, or good enough to earn the grace of "god" and the final home of Heaven, no matter what they do.

This is the central tenet of the Kristjan madness. With some variations, it is found all over the Christian world. Any person with their wits about them can see the foolish nonsense for what it is- a means of using fear and falsehood to scare or force people into a religion. These Christians actually deny others the possibility of being truly noble and good unless those people agree with them about "christ" and accept "christ", along with all the other things that come along with "accepting christ", which includes rejecting the worldview of our ancestors, turning your back on the Gods of your people, turning your back on the animistic truth of the world, and most importantly, turning your back on the truth about mankind.

I will tell you what I think the truth about mankind is, and don't be fooled by my words: when I say "mankind", I mean it in the original sense of the word- "mankind" doesn't just refer to males; it refers to all men and women everywhere.

I am a religious man, and I have a religious duty to offer guidance to people who seek it out. In the modern day, this duty extends to being open and public about what I believe, and what my co-religionists believe. Of course, we don't feel the need to go door-to-door on Saturday morning spreading the words of the Gods; a real shame, too, because hammers make fine door-knockers.

But the evangelical home-invasion ministry tactics are simply not part of our way; the Gods call whom they will; Fate gathers those fated to our kindreds and circles, without fail or error. I have no worry on this point.

As a religious man, it is my Wyrd to make it known what I and those like me think about important issues. Even though modern day social issues like abortion, same sex marriage, drugs, and all the like tend to take up most of our media-time and dominate most of our conversations, there are deeper issues that you don't hear covered much anymore.

And it's odd that we don't. The issue of mankind is one of the most important issues we can discuss, and yet, it seldom ever is. Who and what are we, exactly? What does it mean to be "man" or "woman"? Are we simply unstable, rotting mortal flesh accidentally arisen on a backwater planet in some randomly spinning galaxy, as the atheists say? Are we the beloved creations of some God, suffering from the burden of sin, as Christians say? Are we karmically arisen piles of skandhas, stuck deep in delusion about ourselves and about all the things we fool ourselves into thinking are important, as Buddhists say?

Are we accidental? Just flesh? Parts of a great plan? Divine? Children of God? Children of Gods? Are we manifestations of something deeper? Are we parts of a "great mystery"?

I will say what I think.

My ancestors believed that mankind was no accident. In the web of Fate, Mankind had to arise, had to come to be. Odin, the Allfather, didn't create mankind on a lark, randomly, out of some boredom. He did what Fate required of him; He was and is a part of the world coming to be as it must. His great strength is the vehicle of Fate; he shapes and lays the bonds of Fate, for in his Wisdom, he knows what must be done.

As the Eddas tell us, He drew forth genetic material (in the form of two rotting trees) from the primordial earth and ocean- (this earth and ocean being the primal "mother", Nerthus, that was the source of that material) and Odin shaped them into the first men and women. He gave them Godly gifts of beauty and hue, of speech and vitality, and he breathed the deathless spirit on them, making them his kin and the kin of all his Godly family.

You can look at this myth in many ways; I don't feel the need to over-analyze it. Some see a "metaphorical" story of evolution: from the primordial sludge comes forth the seed and material of life that is "shaped" (read: evolves) over time into men and women, and somewhere in or about this mysterious process is Odin, guiding it in his wisdom, implanting the seed of his mystery in the products.

That's not a bad way of seeing it. That way certainly resolves a few of the current scientific myths with our ancestor's primal myths. Personally, I believe that what really happened is less important than what is happening right this moment. We know what our ancestors believed about our origins; we know what modern scientists say; but without a good, sane way of living now, none of that will help us.

My ancestors- or should I say, our ancestors- believed that Mankind was part of the web of life, and Mankind had to arise; Mankind is part of the Fate of this world, of this cosmos, every bit as much as the Gods are, or trees are, or the earth and sky. If you look at the Elder Rune-row, which reveals the 24 essential mysteries of Reality, you will find that MANNAZ or "Man" is one of them.

Mankind is no accident. We are a strand in the Fate of the world. We are a necessary expression of reality; we belong here and had to "become" what we are every bit as much as the Gods did. When one studies the Rune-Row, one sees a most powerful story, told in the careful ordering of the 24 Runes. That story is the story of the creation of the cosmos, the rise of the Gods, the rise of man, and the eventual end of the world, and its regeneration. We have some hints from history about what our ancestors believed regarding each Rune; the Runes were more than just letters. Each one was a symbol, a manifestation in symbol form, of a deep cosmic mystery.

It is said that Odin won the Runes, the Mysteries, from the deep places of Hel, when he died and came back to life, to teach this wisdom to mankind. Odin won the Runes, the mysteries that are concealed in the Beyond, and transmitted them to Mankind in the form of symbols and lore. The Runes are the "seeds" from which the World-Tree grows; the World-Tree means "everything". It represents the Cosmos itself.

As surprising as it man seem, one of those Mysteries is known by us as "Man" or "Mankind". This places human beings in a very lofty-seeming position in the world, and in the cosmos. The implications of this Rune also go beyond our world ("world" here referring to our planet): The cosmic principle of "Man" is part of this universe. Could there be humans in other places, or on distant planets? I certainly believe it is possible. But from the perspective of my spiritual life, Fate has given me one planet to deal with, and it's more than large enough.

Now, let me make those statements about Mankind that I've been promising. I've established that "Mankind" isn't something you can easily isolate and describe, as much as something that is an intrinsic fact about the way reality unfolds and appears. Mankind is a Fated part of the world.

Now I will go further; I will say that Mankind contains within itself a powerful, holy gift. This gift is the Spirit of the Gods. It is the world-animating Spirit, and it is the mystery that unites us to the Gods. It is why we are not mere lumps of wood or algae. This gift is the most kingly gift that we could ever have received, and that gift is part of what makes us "Man".

This gift endows us with not only great and boundless creativity, but with a dignity that cannot be stripped from us. This gift "demands a gift" from us in return, so as pledge our faith and Troth to the Gods in return, and this gift gives us the right to do so; the Gods are our kin; we belong to their Holy Kindred. This gift gives us the impulse to religion and the right to practice it.

I also say that this gift has endowed each and every man and woman with the power to come to Illumination- to do as the Allfather did, and discover the Truth about this Reality that we are parts of. A person who does this becomes truly wise, like the Allfather, and they go beyond the beginning and the end of this world. They go beyond life and death, in the hallowed "Odinic Paradox". Every human being has the capacity and the possibility of finding their way to this great insight and experience. The human person has the intrinsic capability to awaken to great wisdom and to unfold into the divine daylight of the spirit. This reason alone is enough to preserve our lives so long as we can, above and beyond the dignity that is our birthright.

I furthermore say that man and woman, and indeed, all human beings, were meant to live in harmony with each other, and that we are capable of doing so. Humans are not unavoidably stupid and warlike, despite the fact that they often do stupid things and destroy each other's lives. I think that we can and should get along, in the great and true peace and balance that we call "frith". I say that we are created for one another, that something deep inside us feels joy at our relationships and unions.

Lastly, I think that the human body and mind is not frail, weak, or flawed simply because it is prone to disease, deformity, and death. I believe it to be a powerful, vital, and strong vehicle at its very core, a divinely crafted and influenced thing, capable of great courage.

My view of Mankind stands in sharp contrast to the view given to us by revealed religions. But this isn't just my view; it was the view of my ancestors before me. It's the view I believe in, and which I will die believing in. It would be better, I think, to believe this about mankind and run the risk of being wrong, than to be a cynic and a pessimist about mankind while running that same risk.

Is there a risk that I am wrong? I don't think so; I don't think so because I don't buy into the human-hating, self-defeating cow dung that Christianity smeared all over the map of Europe, and every other place they spread. But enough people today have been battered since birth by very pessimistic ideas regarding mankind to make people wonder: what if Ule's right? What if he's wrong? What if I'm right? What if I'm wrong?

I discussed these doubts before, in a previous post. A day comes when you realize that you can't second-guess yourself forever. If you trust your ancestors, and trust the rather obvious truth that wisdom didn't begin with Christianity, then you can rest at ease.

But my statements about mankind are still strong. On what do I rest my statements? I could quote the ancestral lore that we have surviving, but I want to take a different route. I'm going to show you a Rune, and then, I'm going to show you a deeper look at it.

This is the Mannaz Rune, the Rune that symbolizes Mankind:

Not many people have been able to suggest precisely what this Rune-shape is symbolizing in abstract form. Thorsson suggests that it is a glyph showing the marriage between heaven and earth- but I have another idea which you may find interesting.

We know that the Lore tells us that Odin, the Allfather, bestowed the gift of his spirit upon two trees, two trees that he shaped into the first man and woman, Ask and Embla.

Here are two lines representing two trees, or Ask and Embla, the first Man and Woman:

And here is the Rune that represents the concept of "gift-bonding" and gift-giving, up to and including the Gift of Spirit that Odin gave to mankind:

If you put the two together, you get:

I find this to be a fascinating "co-incidence". There is the gift of the Gods, implanted in the center of the Mannaz-Rune, just as it is deep within all of us, and just as it was placed into the first human beings. But as you scry into the Rune of Man, and look deeper in, more Mysteries come to the surface.

You may recall that I said each Human had the potential to awaken to the light of Illumination. The Rune that represents the "day" of Illumination, the "Light" of the Godly "Ruler" (Odin) is called DAGAZ, which means "day". And its form is this:

If you look at the Mannaz Rune, you can see that this hidden potential of Illumination, this hidden light which bursts forth like day, is also implanted, bound into the shape of Mannaz.

I mentioned also that Mankind had the power and the capability to live in harmony, in frith. I meant it, and the Mannaz Rune also reveals it. If you divide Mannaz right down the middle, it yields two WUNJO Runes, and Wunjo represents peace and joy- true harmony, free from pains and sorrows and want.

And see how these two Wunjo Runes look at one another- see how Ask and Embla, Man and Woman, look at one another, both in balance, neither less important than the other, together making the true creature that is Man. Peace is a possibility between us because with the Spirit of the Gods in us, anything is possible. Mankind- both men and women, but humans in general- were meant for one another, and there is joy in our meetings, joy in our unions. This Joy is an essential part of our human experience.

The last thing I said about Mankind was that our earthly vehicle was a good one, a healthy, sturdy one, or at least that it had the power to be, and that it was meant by Fate to be. I think that the success mankind has had surviving in this world shows my point well enough. But this goes further. We are courageous and strong, at our core. Mankind is endowed with the great strength and virility of the old Auroch, the ancient Ox and if you pull away a few lines from the Mannaz Rune, you reveal the Rune-Mystery of URUZ, the courageous, strong Ox:

We are designed to last and to be brave. The Runes show it. The MANNAZ Rune, the Rune of Man, contains the shapes of these Other Runes- and I could, in fact, keep going. But that is enough for today. Be joyful that Fate has woven you into a Man or a Woman. It's a good thing to be, no matter what the half-wise may say.

We are meant to be here; we are not random accidents, but parts of Fate. You are right where you belong; things are just as they should be. We call this the "fitness of things". There is no sin for being what you are; there was no cosmic mistake made, nor any great cosmic disobedience on the part of our ancestors that led mankind to be "sinful" and to suffer. All is just as it should be and there's nothing wrong with being a Man or a Woman at all. It's a very noble estate, when you look at all that we can accomplish, all the bravery we can show, and all the love we can feel.

The Gods want nothing less of us than nobility and bravery, and we are capable of living up to their Godly standards. It is a challenge, but their spirit in us makes it more than possible, and besides, without the challenge, we might consider life to be a bit boring or not worthwhile. We have a path before us, and it is our duty and our privilege to walk it.

A "good" person walks it with trust in the Way of Things, and in the friendship of the Gods, and they do what is right by their fellow man and the duties of religion. They respect the dignity that comes along with life and they make the world a better, safer place for their families and kin, anytime they have the chance. They seek for wisdom most of all, and again- never forget- these things are well within our grasp.

1 comment:

nobody said...

Wonderful post.

I've been wondering lately about why Christianity arose and became such a significant part of the world-fate. Of course Christians would have an answer to that, and of course I would disagree that theirs is the "one true faith" or anything even close to that. But nor do I believe that the rise of Christianity was solely the product of a dark turn of fate or that it was characterized only by ignorance and folly.

I am likely to offend Pagan and Christian alike when I say that it simply seems natural to me that the same Gods and forces that shaped the world and guided man prior to the rise of Christianity played a role in its appearance in the human drama. That Christianity eventually led to the often violent suppression of "the old ways" makes this more difficult to understand, but it still seems to me that the Gods, who since ancient times have guided people in wisdom, would have played a part in the shaping of a religion that would come to so powerfully dominate human thought and understanding.

That the modern fundamentalist Christian understanding of the matter of life and death is, in a word, lacking, is pretty apparent, to most people in possession of even a small amount of wisdom. And that the history of Christianity is full of violent and ignorant behavior is again pretty apparent. But I can't listen to some of the world's most beautiful sacred music and most beautiful sacred art and not feel strongly that there is a powerful seed of some kind of wisdom in Christianity that is unique to it, or at least uniquely emphasized by it.

So the question for me is, if Christianity was the vehicle for the conveyance of some seed of wisdom bestowed upon mankind by the Gods, what is the nature of that wisdom? Like you, I don't believe that wisdom and supreme understanding started with Christianity (or Buddhism, for that matter). And as far as I can tell, "the Old Ways" were sufficient in bringing peace, wisdom, and cultural innovation to humanity for a long time. So why Christianity?

I have come up with no conclusive answer to that question, but I have some thoughts on the matter. One is that it had to do with the rising of a "global culture." Is it an important part of the World-Fate that religions arose that could be practiced universally around the world? Was it just a natural political development that the vehicle of wisdom from the Gods to humankind take on a more authoritatively universal tone? Was the loss of some of the more intimate access to the Mysteries of the Gods found in Pagan religions a sacrifice made in service to some sort of historical, political necessity?

I'm not sure how I feel about that possibility. Something that comes to mind is that this political world-change was inevitable anyway, and that Christianity carried with it an important message or piece of wisdom necessary for humans to navigate and survive this world-change. Something that has struck me in some of my recent research is that something in common between Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism is the emphasis on universal compassion. And I'll admit that I've had difficulty locating an earlier Pagan analogue to a figure of great importance to me--Kannon, Goddess and Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion. Mother Mary is an obvious analogue (which is why Catholicism is the only brand of Christianity that holds any real fascination for me). The closest I've come to a Goddess like her in a possible polytheistic model from earlier times is Yemaya, but it seems to me the similarities I'm seeing may have to do with later syncretization with her and the Virgin Mary.

Of course there is a thread to be found throughout all "Mother Goddess" figures that connects them with Mary and Kannon; there are connections there with Isis, with Demeter and Persephone, and even, I've found, with Aphrodite. I would assume there to be some with Freya and/or Frigg (I'm still a bit in the dark as to whether those two goddesses were recognized as being the same or different).

What seems to me may be the case is that humans have always had a connection to a Goddess embodying compassion, as long as they have possessed the sacred flame of religious awareness, this being one of the attributes of the Goddesses associated with motherhood. But I sense that there is a unique flavor of this quality of compassion that was less central to religion in more ancient times, but that became emphasized in both Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism, and that this was a message direct from the Gods, the bringers of wisdom.

This is a message that has seemingly been lost on most modern Christians. And perhaps that is part of the key to understanding its nature. As our Heathen ancestors observed, the World-Doom is inevitable, but yet the Gods will fight against the forces of destruction to the very end (and lose, but then ultimately prevail, when the world/universe is born anew).

It seems that the Giantish forces pressing their way most into the modern mind are the forces of greed and ignorance, the forces of materialism--we assume that all the answers to happiness and misery lie outside of us. And it seems to me the "message" of Christianity (as well as the "message" of Mahayana Buddhism), when you strip away all of the other detritus attached to it, and all of the materialistic misunderstandings of it, is that violence, aggression, and greed for outer, material things will be our doom (not a new message from the Gods!), and that the only way to save ourselves and to live in peace is to break down the difference we perceive existing between self and other, and to let our actions be guided by mercy and compassion, rather than the lust for retributive violence.

I don't believe these messages didn't exist prior to the era in which Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism arose. I believe the Gods have always taught this wisdom to human beings. But what I do believe was part of why Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism arose was that the Gods wanted to emphasize and universalize this message. "Forgive, be merciful, let yourself be sacrificed to others' ignorance before you sacrifice them to yours!" Of course, this message has become hopelessly twisted by modern fundamentalist Christians, if not forgotten entirely. The Gods gave us Christianity in the hopes it would counteract the Giantish forces about to be loosed on the world with the dawning of an extremely materialistic age, and remind us to focus on the frith, generosity, peace, and joy possible between us. But we can see what side is currently winning the heart and mind of human beings.

Christians say God suffered to let his son suffer and die on Earth. What if the Gods suffered to let Christianity take the place of the religions that allowed for closer contact between them and human beings, as part of their fight to save us from the vicious materialistic ignorance that threatens to destroy us? We know how our Heathen Germanic ancestors thought this whole thing would turn out, and I must say I see the same thing--our fate is sealed. But even so, if we believe their prophetic view to be accurate, there is hope in that we know life will re-emerge, somehow and somewhere, under the guidance of the Gods. And there is also hope in that it is possible for individuals to realize peace in their lives, because, as you discuss here, that possibility is part of our gift as human beings. It is troubling for the compassionate person to believe that most people will not realize the peace that is possible, but like the Gods, we can still do our best to fight against the forces of ignorance and destruction, and do so until our dying breaths--because it is the only right way to live.