Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Endless Land and the Fallen Age

The far north is calling, but I can't be there yet. Any journey worth the taking is long and burdensome. I have dropped sail, however, and with my family and Gods aside me, we have begun the long trek.

Our journey takes us through here, a landscape of endless forests and farmsteads fallen into half-abandonment and half-decay. This is the lay of our times: there was a dream once, that was America; all over the land, people gathered together in communities and believed that the dream would last forever, but it didn't. Their dreams were invested in their children, and those dreams, for the most part, grew up and left the tiny woods and broad fields on the side of the endless roads for cities and other destinations.

With the young gone, only the old were left to watch the world change, and change it did. entire hidden and downtrodden populations of people, once marginalized, gained their rights to a new freedom. The local networks of favoritism and nepotism died and broke apart and retired. Money changed in value, and then changed again. Services once needed were replaced by new technologies. Industries once prominent faded away. Now, boarded up homes and shadows alone remain, and I'm right in the middle of it all, lodging in a forest surrounded by neglect and sparsely populated dirt roads peopled by strangers.

The woods are wild; once, they were tamed by people on all sides. Once, goats ate the grass and low branches here; now, a tangle is everywhere. Once, cats climbed the rafters of the hand-made and raised wooden sheds and garages, but now, loose hunting dogs have killed them all. The goats vanished away, along with the chickens that were either killed by wild animals or their human masters, who could no longer afford to feed them. The chicken coops and roosts are rotted away and vine-covered. The fish pond has sunk into a murk, and goodness knows what lives in it now. The fence lines have vanished in huge gaps, and tangles of barbed wire are rolled up and rusted under ten year leaf piles.

But owls are here- and always have been. This lost region of forest was once named after the hooting owls that were prominent, and they have remained constant. They comfort me when they court and hunt at night. Something of my power hunts and courts with them. Their freedom and persistence is something of my own freedom.

It is a deplorable fate that made my road pass through here, but when the current waxing moon is full, and fades away, and waxes again to half, I will be gone, gone nearly to roof of the world. I have seen the mountains and forests that await there, in vision as well as with my own eyes. I have seen the snow and rivers, and felt the powers beckoning. I go with some risk behind me, but such as me and mine live in the hands of Wyrd and we fear no risk.

There are wights here, and they always have been here. They have grown wild themselves, alien to human beings, for the centuries of neglect that they have endured. They strike out and slay animals themselves at times. It is they that helped to bring waste to this community; all who ignore the spiritual powers that dwell in a place cannot expect to see their own families and legacies thrive in that place. On the hum of the hex-bridge, the mystery of the Helgrind, the mother of mysteries, I have dropped down and seen the landscape itself become only the crust covering a deeper power, and seen the wights moving across it.

Vaguely human shaped, I've seen them walking through the thick growth. I've seen how the falling buildings here have become haunted by them, as well as how the activities once carried out by people here have summoned powers- they are all creeping along unseen: they are grist and saw-meal; goat-hide and turned earth; blackened mound and holly edge, stone and sturdy beam, oak bark and pine-sap, resin fire and clay wight.

I have cut a small Ve-ditch in the earth, on cleared earth amid a grove of trees, to set apart a hallowed place for sacrifices. I have left a small way in opening to the east, and will fill the ditch with sacred spring water. When I sacrifice, it will be to these wild wights first, not so much for their friendship, but so that they will be satisfied to leave me and mine in peace, while we live and worship in their virid tangle, their pine-straw littered patch of thick wood. Then, my greatest grandfather Ing and his family will be given sacrifices, along with the high Thunderer, and of course The Master of Spirits and Sorcery- and always alongside the Disir and the mothers, and Earth, that greatest of mothers.

I have much to sacrifice for. Most people think of sacrifice in dim terms in these Godsless days, only framing it in Judeo-Christian terms, but our ancestral notion- ever more ancient- is far more sublime. It was the slaying- the sacrifice- of a great being- the mother/father of giants- at the dawn of the universe that made all things around me possible- from wights to the trees to the earth and sky: sacrifice is more than just the making holy of an offering, before it is slain and shared; sacrifice is about the creation of a new order. When I drag the bronze sacrificing knife crowned by a rough-hewn human head over the horn, symbolizing the slain ox of old, and fill a hlaut-bowl full of the dark ale that symbolizes blood, I am doing more than making a symbolic act of death and sharing; I am making a real act of creation, and it has power.

What the sacrifice blood touches is made new, in accordance with the will of the sacrificer. What place is sprinkled, what people and beings are sprinkled, they are made new. I want and need many things to be made new in my life, and the ancients have given me and mine a way to achieve that regeneration. Here, in the wight-haunted ruin of a tiny hamlet, as far from "civilization" as most people want to ever be, I will enact rites of timeless power.

Curse the "axial age" sages who decided that the ways of the ancestors were no longer "good enough" for the people- the axial age was the downfall of humanity, not the birth of a new humanity. From that cursed time came the scourge of Zoroastrianism, and from it, Judaism, with her two thrice-more accursed offspring Christianity and Islam. From it came Aristotle and Plato, who destroyed the true mystical and polytheistic heritage of Southern Europe, with their condescending "re-reading" and "reinterpretations" of the sacred myths of their people, and their scorn for the "superstitions", which were in fact luminous truths that their minds could not grasp. Our Greek cousins gave us the roots of the devastating "rationalism" that led to unqualified skepticism, atheism and corruption, and left many vulnerable to the rot of Christian missionaries.

In the east, world-hating religions arose, religions teaching how the world was suffering, fallen, and "transcendence" was needed, or the death of "ego", and the overcoming of desires, passions, and bodily hungers. From east to west the stink spread; in all these places, women were marginalized, packed into harems, under veils, and forced into submission and silence. Women were blamed for sin and death, and for being the seductresses that held men back from virtue.

The great civilizations of the pre-axial age accorded women their proper, sacred, and equal place; my own ancestors, I am proud to say, were such people. But the axial age was the turning of humans against the world and against women, out of fear and disgust and sorrow. They say humans in this era had become more aware of their mortality and frailty than ever before; from this fear was born what we call "religion" today.

The five regions that gave us the axial age- Iran, Greece, Palestine, India, and China, really did a fine job wrecking the world for the rest of us to be born later- but that is how curses work. They echo down through the generations of man like screams echo through canyons. By the time these screams fade, I fear, the ruin of the world will be upon us.

Why humanity waited until this particular "axial" period (800-200 BCE) to "break" and start turning like madmen against the primordial sanity of their ancestors, I don't know. But it did happen. It was a sign of the coming of the Wolf Age, the waning of the world. I have never succumbed to the madness; something strong in me- the love of the Hamingja-maiden who follows me through this life- sheltered me.

My senses were never lost; never did the wildness of nature or the spectacle of violence and death turn my stomach in fear and weaken my spirit. I am not afraid of death; as a living man, I am a part of this world, as a dead man, I will be part of it in another, more mysterious way, and I look forward to it. What sacredness now surrounds me is what always was and always will be, in countless forms. This is my life and my afterlife, and that is as Fate has woven. My Gods expected humans not to fear death, and anyone who knows the sacredness of nature and this world cannot fear death.

I lament the ruin wrought by the axial age madness, and it is more in focus for me now as I sit in a forest of waned hopes, dreams, and ruins. But a Wyrd-worker like me doesn't lament it long. Like the afternoon that falls high sun-tide, it had to happen. We can't change the world back, but each individual one of us can still live in the peace and sanity of the pre-axial age, in fellowship with the Gods and spirits. There is no greater peace, despite what the world-haters may say.

They claim that the axial-age religions and philosophies taught a revolutionary notion that people needed to "find truth" within themselves and break free of calcified traditions; they claim that the axial age was the birth-time of real virtue, as people finally reached a point where they had to look "within" to find compassion and virtue- but this is nonsense.

Virtue has always existed, and the terms "within" and "without" are shallow distinctions. There is no true "within" and "without"- all of the weave of Wyrd is one. Whatever you believe you are finding "within" yourself, is really a part of the whole, a part of this world, just as much "outside" you as it is perceptually "inside", and the same goes for whatever you believe is "outside" you. Humans started playing with their minds in new ways during the axial age, but virtue was not born. It is where it always was, in the wholeness. It lives as we live, as much a part of us and this world as anything else, for all time. The axial age was not an upward evolution; it was a disaster.

The world didn't have a spiritual revolution; humans had a narcissistic attack of "inwardness", mingled with potent fear and confusion, and we have all burned for it. The way people "found" truth and virtue before the axial age has an advantage over the new narcissism: it didn't destroy the world and hate women, and it didn't birth monstrous, judgmental, institutionalized religions that have corrupted society all the way to the level of government and spawned wars and destructive technologies beyond number.

They have crushed the remnants of the primal world, and taken a big shite on traditional wisdom, calling it (just like the Greek atheists) "superstition" and "marginal knowledge". They turned the word "myth" into a thing of stupidity and shame, but this is all only their perception. It is their curse. And it drinks the blood from us all.

I reject fully all of the "religions" and "spiritual paths" that teach that this world is bad or unsatisfactory; that men or women are corrupt, naturally and innately, on any level; that men or women must deny the body and senses to "rise above" earthly things, or any of that hogwash.

I reject fully any notion that people must shelter in some concept called "reason" or "rationality" in the face of obscurity and uncertainty and I further reject the notion that traditional pre-axial religions were superstitious, brutal savage attempts to grasp reality with made-up stories and bloody rites. This world and this existence is far beyond anything we can understand or believe, and the day the world-hating idiots recognize that, is the day that we may have a chance to breathe clean air until we all die. This story isn't over, and now, people are beginning to realize it. We can't lead the world back to sanity, but individual sanity is still a possibility.

Our cousins in Russia have heard the call as well, it seems:

Russian Pagans joyfully worship while the Orthodox Christians get pissed off

May Kupalo and Yarilo bless them powerfully. May old Volos be there as well, to shelter and protect them, with Perun alongside him. Welcome back, cousins. We are few but we are strong.


Anonymous said...

Well said.
Individual sanity is not only a possibility, but is increasingly becoming a reality......It seems to be infectious, thank the Gods.
I see the rise of Judeo/Christian/Islamic fundamentalism as a sign that our influence is being felt......They are afraid of us....


Granamyr said...

I really like your post. But I have to say, dismissing "rationality" doesn't seem like a good idea to me. There is nothing irrational about honoring the gods and spirits. Just because they say it is, doesn't make it so.

They've created a false dichotomy so don't fall into it! They say, "Either be rational and an atheist or be irrational and a believer." (Believer as in of whatever kind.)

I am a follower of the old ways and I try to be very rational about it, devoting myself to study before doing something or taking on a name. Don't throw the carrots out with the peelings I suppose. The atheist community does have much to teach us but we don't have to accept all their premises and conclusions.

Take care! (:

Ule said...

Good Day, Granamyr:

I suppose I do need to qualify my rejection of the rational and reasonable. I am interested in the power of language and the power of people who control language to shape discourse according to their own rules. For too long, we've been taught that you have to be "reasonable" or "rational" about things, to avoid superstition or ignorance- that the mind/perception complex itself only works best when it works according to a set standard of rules. This is what I reject.

I don't deny that the mind, like the world, is constructed in such a way that the mind seemingly works in predictable ways; what I deny is the very reasoned out and rational conclusion that how we normally experience the operations of the mind and the world is the only likely way it can or should be, and any deviation from that, either in experience or in suggestion, must either be "madness" or blind faith.

The words "reason" and "rational" have meanings like any other words. They are just words, and they do not successfully and perfectly label a certain state of mind or operation of mind. They mean different things to different people. They aren't golden standards or rules. They aren't "objective" measures of absolute truth. They shock and remove people from the immediacy of their experience. They limit others and they limit us; they give us frightening standards that we tip-toe around, lest we be thought foolish by others. I'm done with all that.

Grasping onto experience and trying to capture it and reason it out so that it gets rationalized into an edible chunk for the dullard around you- that's no way for a sorcerer or a spiritual person to live. It's forced dishonesty and discomfort on my/our part, and all for the tender sensibilities of people who have never let themselves have a genuine experience in their lives.

Granamyr said...

You sound like a person with a story to tell. (: Maybe you could do a post, if you haven't already, about how you came to the old ways?

I do understand what you mean about language and it's use.

I don't think they're afraid of us because of who we are. I think they're afraid because they think we're something we're not.