Saturday, December 12, 2009

End of an Era: The Heathen Eschatology

Secularism has lamed Christian powers in the west. In the east, Islam is vomiting out its last pile of envy and spite, and soon, the forces of secularism and materialism will overwhelm even the bastions of Islam. It is inevitable, like the snows of Winter in the rafters of the world. It grows colder, colder, slowly, until the ice forms. No man or institution can stop it. None can halt the march of the ages, the weaving of Fate.

Israel, always a tiny group of people, have broken their strength through absorption into hateful populations that only gave them death and persecution, and have emerged as tiny enclaves of hopeful and socially active people who have finally had enough- like their Ancestors, they want to be left alone to keep their covenants and drink their kosher wines. With great joy, I can give the descendants of Israel the greatest compliment I accord to any monotheists: they've never tried to ram their God down my throat. I wish them well as the world continues to swallow them, too.

The age of religious absolutism is drawing closed. And it is a great time to be a human being, I must say. Now, as with any age, the forces of the previous age are resentful, and in their final, threadbare little stands of desperation, they kill, maim, grow desperate, make immense asses out of themselves on the stage of the world, but people no longer really care. I hate the twin forces of materialism and secularism, but I must say- blunt, freezing little tools that they are, they have a use.

Could Fate have woven these soul-numbing little terrors for a reason? It seems to me that they arise to address a fundamental imbalance in the human soul. If you force immense populations of people into the dark places of radicalism and insane religiosity, which certainly has happened to everyone in the last 2000 years, it seems that you exhaust the energy of the soul, and the deeper wisdom which was always there finally has to reassert itself. That deeper wisdom knows that all this insanity was a divergence from the Truth about man and this world. Like all wisdom, it is quiet and deeply immovable. You can plaster nonsense over it, but you can never really remove it.

When the fires of absolutism and fanaticism and false promises fade, only that wisdom is left, cool among the embers. The promises of the monotheistic West have failed; they have been shown to be empty, as empty as the "peace through submission" battle cry of the Muslim East. Only the dazed scions of Israel remain, blinking through the ashes, wondering just how in the HELL their Ancestral religion and God could ever have inspired movements like Christianity and Islam.

Well, those movements did more than just persecute them; those movements spread across the map like a black oil-slick, butchering non-Abrahamic, indigenous faiths everywhere, replacing the dignity of wisdom and Ancestral religion with the wicked crescent and the stark oppression of the cross. Gone was the diversity inherent in the human spirit, replaced with churches and mosques, all straining to fit everyone into the same creed. If there was ever a dark age, it was this one.

The Wolf-Age always surprises me. Of all the Nine Ages of the World, it appears to have the most room for shock and awe, for surprise, and for heroism. In the face of a Sauron-like flooding of Middle Earth, in which free peoples were locked in chains, a few lights of resistance and wisdom remained burning. And now, those lights, kept burning from long ago, have set fire to the dried out wood of the human spirit that was choked into silence and drought. The fire can't be controlled.

* * *

Even inside the largest dark age of the world, a new era is being born. And it is glorious to behold. There's something infuriating about watching the poor, empty, raging reactions of the former powers, but also something blissfully pleasurable. By the time you have to wail as loud as they do, you can be sure that their cause is dead and unrecoverable.

But that leaves us with new challenges. Once these failed experiments from the past die out, and die out they will, will the new powers be able to return to some semblance of sustainability and humanity? I can almost assure you that naked secularism, bolstered by the forces of atheism and materialism, can't do it. They are, in their own way, just as lethal as the insanity we had before. But I look at it this way- we can die under the wails of prayers and crusaders and deluded idiots, or under the syringes of doctors who think we are all just big science experiments, and societies that just sit around staring. I'll take the second way.

Or better yet, I'll create my own third way. I'll die like I lived, with the fire I feel burning in me, rejecting all of these hateful degeneracies and laughing my way to the Allfather's hall. He alone knows what truth was lost, and he alone knew why it had to happen. He alone waits for the few who remain true to the way of wisdom to burn out like stars fallen into a tar-like soup of apathy and falsehood. And those few will be called Allfather's Own; they will stand with him when the final forces of destruction come to smother all that remains of the resplendent, beautiful world that we have taken advantage of and besmirched with our pride and our willful ignorance.

Demon Materialism, Demon Despair, Demon Atheism, Demon Consumerism, blunt little blades of ice and oblivion! How I hate you. But no other weapons would have sufficed to cut the throats of the dark religious powers that held our world hostage. Your task is done. I should thank you. But I know that, in some ways, my throat may be next. Just as well. Something was going to destroy me from the day I was born. If you think you can do it, well, you know where to find me!

May the Hammer of the Gods continue to strike and crush those who smother the human spirit. May it turn on the giantish powers of modernity that have delivered us from one evil, only to threaten us with a new one. Let the great ice come, the great fires, and let all that we know and love freeze and burn to dust and ash. That too, has to happen.

But in the midst of it, let the fortunate few know the great joy of truth! If the final hurrah of the world must be this way, let's make the best of it. It's what the Gods would do, and what the Vala tells us they will do. How divine- to keep the hearth fire burning bright with joy, while the tide of darkness rises. If you are beginning to feel annoyed, dismayed, angry, scornful, or dismissive of my words, you are already feeling what I am saying, more than just reading. And that's good. May the Hammer of the Gods protect you, too, whoever you are.

The Doom of the Powers is coming. Whatever was good in this world will sleep in the deep places of the tree, safe from the destroying fires. Hel will give up her dead and all of the lost of this world, and they will see what the Vala has seen- new rivers pouring through new virgin wilderness, and the eagle flying again, swooping to catch fish anew. She has seen a new heavens and a new earth, and the Mighty Gods coming to their assembly again. She has foreseen it, because she has seen it many times, in my worlds before this one.

All worlds must in time be stained with darkness, but all worlds must undergo their purification and rebirth, too. A person is like that as well; each of us will be renewed. Glorious freedom! On those green fields and under that new sun- who will be the daughter of the sun currently above us- I look forward to speaking with you again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who Really Abandoned their Duty to the Truth?

This is a five minute long video of a Catholic Priest, Father Robert Barron, and his comments on the "Danger of Turning Religion into a Toy".

The Danger of Turning Religion into a Toy

This is my response to him and his short talk.

* * *

This man has life and spirit, I can see that. But he also has the typical Christian narrow focus.

He begins with the assumption- which he takes as solid, literal truth- that humans are "hardwired" for "God"- and, in the place of God, he uses synonyms like "Truth", "Beauty", and "Good". That's very Neoplatonic of him, and I wouldn't mind that so much, except that the Pissed off God of Israel is not "Truth", "Beauty" and "Good". The God of Israel, which this man means when he says "God", is a being, an entity, not abstract universal qualities like "Truth", "Beauty", and "Good".

A being, an entity that gives laws and has a will and gets pissed off and floods the world to destroy sinners, is not a "quality". An entity- even a God- cannot simultaneously be a quality like "Truth", anymore than I can be a person and simultaneously a "happiness" or a "peace". It's like suggesting a square can be round. It's not possible. We're conflating qualities or aspects of reality that cannot merge without absurdity.

Now, let's drop the ancient Hebrew superstitions out of the equation, and give up on their hopelessly inane tribal theism. Let's give the priest, for one moment, the conclusion that "God" equates with "Truth" and "Beauty" and "Good". Now, we have something closer to the old notion of the Greek Philosophers, a notion of "The Good", or the "God of the Philosophers" as my professors once said- something distinct from the Hebrew "God of Revelations".

Let's say that the priest is correct and humans are indeed "hardwired" for finding the Truth, beauty, and the Good. His Christianity swoops in once more and prohibits him from allowing that people can discover Truth, Beauty, and Good in any way other than adherence to and agreement with his own dogmatic principles and beliefs. You can have "sorta" Truth, but it ain't "Ultimate Truth" unless you're proclaiming your faith in Jesus Christ, and (ideally) attending his church.

That's bosh. That's malarkey. Truth, Beauty, and Good are universal qualities that have countless manifestations in human lives, and a presence in all places, in all ages, worldwide. These qualities do not cluster exclusively around a single recent religion's triumphalist and exclusivist claims and mythologies. These revealed religions that want to stake total claim on Truth don't want to share, (it would certainly be financial bad business for them to share) but fortunately for us, their claims mean nothing. Truth was here long before them and will be here when their malignant organizations are washed away to dust by the tide of time.

But my critique of this man's message goes a bit further. I agree with him on some things that he says- people who give up on the natural quest for Truth and Goodness and assume the "who cares" stance that characterizes so many of the lost and degenerate of our age DO harm their souls- on this, the priest and I are in total agreement. He's also correct to say that people who repress this urge for wholeness and truth feel those repressed aspects of the soul "re-emerge" in harmful, twisted form.

But there's an issue here. He says that people who put aside "God" and the search for "God" see that repression re-emerge as addiction, or a lust for power, or what have you. He goes on to say that these things will never be enough, and indeed, I agree with him again. But how in the world does a person "have" God? Is he suggesting that the search for God actually ends, and that some blessed people have "found" God, and now, don't have addictions or lust for power, or lust generally, and none of the other false, shallow fixations that characterize so many people?

Precisely where are these saintly, happy people? I've known countless Christians, and they aren't all sitting around blissfully happy, "With" God, in lieu of all those other sorry alternatives that the poor unenlightened masses have.

This man talks a good talk about the benefits of "having" God in lieu of the shallow alternatives, but I've yet to meet anyone that appears to have seized on this holy state. EVERY Christian I've ever known- including pastors and priests- had one or more of the following: addictions, annoying personalities, troubles, rudeness, judgmentalism, depression, questions and doubts, greed, lust for power, pride, ego run amok, and any of the other issues that characterize Human Beings.

And, ironically, I don't truly hold these things against them- they are humans. But they are humans who make fabulous claims of having achieved some wonderful state above others, by virtue of their amazing Christian Truth. But it's bosh. Their own lives and minds and appearances don't verify their claims. All they really seem to have is a strong certainty that somehow, they "have" God, due to their "faith" or adherence to the dogmas and teachings of religion. Even when they can't "understand" God fully, or when things are hard for them, they have this "faith" that they've still achieved some great leap towards the Truth that others have not- but which others need to.

You'll forgive me for saying what's obvious to most, but I don't buy their claims, or his. Nothing I have experienced thus so far, and nothing I have read about Christian history and its impact on this world, leads me to believe that these people have a profound Truth that the rest of us lack.

They DO, however, have a disturbing and unwise story that they espouse, an aggressively evangelistic story of monotheism, anthropocentrism, human exceptionalism, triumphalism, elitism, and absurd, unqualified eternalism that many of us lack, but which most of us have already seen through on a philosophical level.

When I see things like this, it makes me appreciate how wise my Ancestors were, and why the organic Heathen religion is so important and relevant today: it can spare us from this particular brand of madness.

The "Truth" is not a colossal idea or set of doctrines that describe how the universe works to people, and the "Truth" is not a single monolithic idea or even a being; the "Truth" is not hidden, despite how the Philosophers and later the Monotheists want to present it that way (the better to position themselves to be able to "reveal" to others how to find it, thus winning a great measure of pride, fame, and money for themselves). The "Truth" reveals itself from moment to moment through every day of our lives, in every experience.

To hunt, to shelter from cold and heat, to raise children, to grow food, protect your loved ones, create art, build buildings, explore, compose poetry, make music, seek excellence in your crafts - all of these human pursuits are the Truth about what we are. We come to know the Truth about man and this world by experiencing it, not having it taught to us with hopelessly absurd metaphysical claims that can't be verified until we've died. Truth about human life never hid from us; we became convinced that it was hidden because we sadly allowed ourselves to believe a story that told us that we were flawed and lost.

We became, like spoiled children, unwilling to accept that the most obvious things could be our Truth. We wanted angels with trumpets and eternal bliss, not the simple pleasures of life, the love of family and kin, the great joy of surviving and thriving in this world. No longer content to be humans, we have to be Gods ourselves, or eternal spirits living in heaven. The absurdity of these things have poisoned our history for 2000 years, and poisoned our societies, our world, and threatened our survival. May the Gods guide the new generations of Heathens on the right course!

May we never forget what happened the last time Christians were given the power to "teach their Truth" to people who were brave enough to resist it:

Snorri Sturluson in the saga of St. Olaf chapter 73, describes the brutal process of Christianisation in Norway: “…those who did not give up paganism were banished, with others he (Saint Olaf) cut off their hands or their feet or extirpated their eyes, others he ordered hanged or decapitated, but did not leave unpunished any of those who did not want to serve God (…) he afflicted them with great punishments (…) He gave them clerks and instituted some in the districts.”

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Indigenous Paganism and New Religious Movements

Is the general term "Pagan" on the verge of a redefinition?

At the "Parliament of the World's Religions", some new and somewhat exciting/controversial statements were made by some of the persons who attended in the name of "Pagans" worldwide.

Let me begin by saying that I don't believe anyone or any small group of people can sufficiently and adequately "represent" Pagans worldwide. These people who appeared on the behalf of Pagans were not elected to go, or any such thing. Even if someone could "represent" Wiccans or other New-Age spiritual movements, Asatru and other such religions- which are always painfully lumped in with the rest- would certainly not be represented at all.

I'm pleased to report that, despite this strange and unsatisfactory state of affairs, that one of the Pagan attendees, Andras Corban-Arthen, made a very positive and somewhat profound statement about religious identity and classifications for modern Pagans. What he said is worth being reprinted here, and I shall do so by quoting online journalist and Pagan parliament attendee Ed Hubbard:

* * *

"...So the term Pagan itself is being redefined from this old Christian based definition. Part of the Teaching of Traditions series, created with the help of Pagan Trustees, describes Paganism as follows: “Paganism” is a collective term that most aptly defines Indigenous cultures of pre-Christian Europe, the Celtic and Germanic Tribes, The Balts, The Scandinavians, The Basques, The Slavs and many others.

The first Pagan presentation of the Parliament helped begin this change of identity and was called “People Call Us Pagans-The European Indigenous Traditions”, by PWR Trustees Angie Buchanan, Andras Arthen, and Phyllis Curott. The opening of the description is as follows: As the World confronts environmental devastation, we are beginning to appreciate the wisdom of Indigenous peoples who have lived thousands of years in sustainable harmony and spiritual connection with the Earth. After hundreds of years of suppression, most Westerners have forgotten that their ancestors once shared this wisdom as the Indigenous traditions of Europe. *

This concept of Paganism as being based deeply in European Indigenous Traditions has fascinated and found ground among American, European and Australian members of the Parliament. It helps move Paganism from being a New Religious Movement to an Indigenous tradition, and offers many more opportunities to reach out at the parliament.

As described by Andras Corban-Arthen most forms of modern Paganism can be described as part of the New Religious Movements as they were formed in the 20th century, yet there are several Pagan ethnic traditions that have survived Christianization. One such example is Romuva of Lithuania. It is these ethnic traditions that fit better into the description of Indigenous traditions, instead of New Religious Movements. It allows Pagans to be part of both New Religious Movements and also recognized as part of the Indigenous traditions. By accepting that Pagan Traditions are indigenous to Europe, then individuals must take another look and it presents them with a different paradigm of what Pagan stands for.

Further, Andras Corban-Arthen points out that Wicca, for example, cannot be seen as an indigenous Pagan faith practice and is instead a modern syncretic movement. Under this description Wicca therefore would not fall under the definition of Pagan, and would be squarely a New Religious Movement, while British Traditional Witchcraft could be considered a Pagan and Indigenous faith tradition. "

* * *

My hat off to Andras' bravery! The blast-back from Wiccans and others who do not fall under the heading of "indigenous" has already begun, and promises to be a raging debate for a long time to come. Here is my take on the entire topic of who is and is not "indigenous", and why the term "indigenous" is so important:

The only reason anyone gets worked up over "indigenous" is because they think that people saying "we belong to an indigenous faith" are trying to claim some legitimacy over others. But as a person who belongs to the indigenous faith of the Germanic people of Europe, I am not using the term with that intent.

Despite the attempts on the part of some peoples to try and stake an exclusive claim to the word, "Indigenous" is defined simply as "originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country"- and it also means "inherent" or "innate". Asatru did originate in the Northern regions of Europe, and it is characteristic of what pre-Christian Europeans of those regions were doing. Further, we believe it to be the inherent, innate religion of people of Northern European extraction. That's all. That's what it means, and I reject as political manipulation any other attempt to give this term "indigenous" any other meaning.

Wicca originated in England, but cannot be said to be "characteristic" of anything that historical Pagans or witches in England were doing before it, as the structure, while workable and sufficient, is new, pioneered by Gardner and other contemporary occult groups. I don't doubt Wicca's power or efficacy in the lives of the people who believe in it, and Wiccans are certainly allies to all Pagans today in the struggle for recognition. Also, Wiccans, insofar as they pray to Pagan Gods, ARE "Pagan", as I see no further definition for "pagan" needed beyond "People who believe in and/or worship Pagan Gods and Goddesses."

What qualifies as "Pagan" has been debated a long time; for the longest time, anyone who wasn't a member of an Abrahamic religion was classified as Pagan, but Native Americans, Buddhists, and others are offended by the word, for their own reasons. Now, it seems to be used for European non-Abrahamic faiths, and that's fine by me. I don't mind it at all. But the "indigenous" distinction is important to me, because all Pagans/New Religions cannot and must not be lumped together as a whole. That would be insulting to the truth about them all- different varieties of Pagan have different histories, different worldviews, different focus, and these things are very, very important to their thoughtful membership.

If we want an intellectually honest appraisal of the situation, we have to cease the lumping and start studying the great variety that we've all inherited.

I would like to end by saying that it's sad that such a distinction and conversation never happened in the mainstream of the Pagan community until unelected "representatives" of the "Pagan" world went to a parliament of world religions and brought it up. But however it had to come about, the conversation is now out and ongoing.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Wolves of Winter

When the weather turns lethal, you have no choice but to be smarter and tougher. It's 18 degrees outside right now, with snow as far as the eye can see- and more snow and ice-rain expected tomorrow. I'm excited. This weather makes you turn inward, and then makes you turn back and push against the powers that be- it makes you assert your will, makes you realize how unimportant so many of the things we get worked up over really are. Before this winter is over, -10 to -25 degrees is possible. All that stands between me and death is burning oil, wooden walls, the fellowship of my household warm bodies, and our own creativity.

The Ancestors were hard and tough, largely I think because they had to compete with other humans in bloody combat, but also because they had the cold to teach them. The Ancestors didn't have any illusions about the cold: it was a manifestation of Wyrd, of power from another world- the world of Niflheim, Ice-Home. It was the breath of Giants; a life-killing force that could and would overwhelm the world if contrary forces didn't balance it out. Luckily, contrary forces do exist.

Some of the Natives of this land weren't off mark about this either; to the Sioux, Waziah the Giant lived in the north and blanketed the world with white snow and cold- but that cold was a purifying power. It helped people, as much as it presented a danger. And that's part and parcel of organic wisdom; the contrary forces in nature had a place and a purpose that served all beings as well as hindering them at times. Part of living a happy life was to integrate these two poles of every power.

The Goddess Sunna has followed her track away to the distance, leaving this land I'm in now in the grip of cold powers. She'll come back, but until she does, the wolf-wights roam this place, eaters of the living and the dead. Frost giants don't tread here, else we'd all be frozen into blocks, but their breath and their awe-full distant presence now shrouds us in ice. Matter slows down; the wind now bites, and even sounds are swallowed in the sucking darkness. I've never "heard" such a silence as what exists on top of this snow at night.

It reminds us why the Godly work of creation is so precious- without warmth, creativity, technology, intelligence, artifice, artistry, and willpower, we'd all vanish into this darkness. In this time, your humanness stands out in sharp contrast to the gaping maw of raw nature, when she assumes her giantish face of cold. You find out more about yourself. And in the primal ice crystal-filled night space, Jolnir- Odin, the Yule-Father- rides his horse across the broad sky. His wisdom is like this darkness, because it was born in darkness. He can celebrate the sunny side of life alongside the frozen side, because he knows both sides of his being. May we all learn from his example and embrace the cold alongside the blessings of spring.

People have seen my winter side; they have seen the dismal depths to which my person can be driven. And people have seen my summer side, the caring person who is capable of much loyalty and compassion. I am two-faced and two-natured, like Allfather. I offer a cup of mead to my ice-blue Other Self. In the heat of the deep south, my other self was confused; it emerged in irksome, troublesome ways. Here it can run and play on brilliant white fields of virgin snow.

The wights of this winter won't overcome me and mine because a wolf lives in us that is just as strong- pure, savage, resentful wolves of will. This cold will discover a will-force in us that will make it rage in impotence at our inventiveness and undaunted drive. If this winter is cold and hard, we will be colder and harder. The next time some lame problem crosses my path, it will pale in comparison to the devouring cold. What the Gods have placed in us is an undying light that shines through extremes of cold or heat. We are undefeatable.