Issues with Ancestor Worship

I want to talk about worship today. Heathens have a lot of different ways of worshipping. Some heathens are intensely devoted to one of the pantheonic deities. Some are involved with the whole pantheon, but not one deity in particular. Some worship local spirits such as the landwights. Some worship their ancestors. Whatever their focus, for most heathens, worship is a matter of paying respect to, learning from, sacrificing for, becoming empowered by, and doing the work of the focus of their worship. A lot has been written about the gods and the landwights in heathen worship, but not enough has been written about ancestor worship. And, because it needs to be, that’s what I’m going to do today.

Ancestor worship is not a huge part of my religious life. My ancestors were, for the most part, rather unpleasant people. Horse thieves, murderers, bank robbers, treasonous Confederate guerillas like Quantrill’s Raiders, and genocidal maniacs like Charlemagne. But there have been some admirable ones too, including engineers on the Apollo 11, a volunteer with the Flying Tigers, explorers, mystics, and artists. So I have always included an element of ancestor worship in my own practices. It was not easy for young me to figure out the proper way to do it, faced with such a, shall we say, mixed bag. And as I was a young heathen in the early 90s, there was not a lot of guidance on the subject, for heathenry was much smaller and more underground in those days.

After much thinking, especially about what the Nine Noble Virtues indicated, I decided on some things. From what I could see of heathen ancestor worship in those days, I did not like the two dominant approaches to this problem. One way heathens of the day took was to just decide that everything their ancestors did was worthy of respect and praise, and to define their sense of right and wrong in a way that allowed them to feel pride about everything their ancestors did, no matter what it was. I have always had contempt for people who went this route. Defining your sense of right and wrong entirely so that it makes you feel good and prideful is pathetic, the act of a lazy narcissist with only a tangential relationship with reality. This is the route favored by Folkies, white supremacists, and douchebags everywhere.

The other common solution was to pick and choose which ancestors were honored, hailing and taking pride in the best and pretending the rest did not exist. This whitewashing of one’s family history seemed dishonest and irresponsible to me. The Nine Noble Virtues counsel honesty. This way is not honest. The Nine Noble Virtues counsel courage, and standing up to do what is right even when it is difficult to do so. This approach is cowardly. The Nine Noble Virtues counsel industry. This approach is lazy.

Instead, it seemed to me that if I was going to take any pride in the good parts of my ancestry, I must also take a measure of responsibility for the bad parts. If I want the counsel and spiritual energy of my ancestors, my family orlog, I must take on ALL of my inheritance. I must pay for the gift I receive from my ancestors by paying a part of their debts.

Of course, ignoring my ancestors altogether seemed a valid approach too. No reason why a person should be in any way responsible for the debts of their ancestors, BUT, if that’s the approach you want to take, then you have no right to go feeling pride in your ancestors, or praising them at sumbel.

So when the rites of remembrance come around, I not only hail and speak the deeds of my honorable and praiseworthy ancestors, I also raise the horn to the bad ones, and speak against them. I praise the worthy qualities of my dead, abusive father and also speak contemptuously of his weakness and violence. I praise the cleverness and freedom of my bank robbing Old West kin and also denounce their evil ways and the harm they caused. I acknowledge the power and conquests of Charlemagne, and also pour out the rest of horn I raised to him, a grave discourtesy and insult, because of his genocidal ways. I hail all of my ancestors. I even have a small bead basket from a tourist trap in Kenya on my ancestor altar, because it was made near the Olduvai Gorge, where the human species evolved, so it is a way of bringing my mind to focus on ALL of my ancestors, going all the way back.

This approach has consequences in my day to day life, as well. Sometimes, when it is hard to do the right thing and nobody will ever know if I don’t, I remember my grandfather who crossed the sea to go protect China from the Japanese invasion by signing on with the Flying Tigers, risking his life to help people who were not his people when nothing in the world was forcing him to do so, and I draw strength and resolve from him. When living in poverty becomes difficult, I recall the wild and free lives of my outlaw ancestors, and draw strength from them.

And this approach also means that when I have seen Folkie jerks trying to drive newcomers off of heathen forums because they were not 100% white, I had to step up and speak up for the newcomers, and argue with a bunch of jackasses about how the old lore does not in fact support their racist bullshit and actually opposes it, despite how very much I hate wasting my time arguing with halfwits. My approach means that whenever an important matter affecting disadvantaged people came to the vote, I took the time to go vote despite being an anarchist who tries not to vote as a matter of principle. My ancestors who rode with Quantrill’s Raiders have a debt to pay, so this seems an appropriate way of paying part of that debt.

And that, Gentle Reader, is what real ancestor worship means. If you want to draw pride, wisdom, and strength from your ancestors, you have a right to. That is what orlog means. But with that right comes a responsibility, and the requirement sometimes to make sacrifices and be courageous. Thinking badly of those of my ancestors who were bad people does not require me to think badly of myself. I can take pride in the good parts of my ancestry not despite the bad parts, but because I recognize which parts are bad and work to oppose them.

The Wake of Magellan

Hello there, Gentle Reader, today I am going to talk to you about Savatage’s song, “The Wake of Magellan.” Well, not really, but what I have to say today starts with that song.

I have been listening to a lot of 80s and 90s music lately, and came upon this old classic metal piece by one of the 80’s and 90’s most memorable metal bands (today, many of the band’s former members are in the Trans Siberian Orchestra). It is named “The Wake of Magellan,” and is about a sailor in the days of tall wooden ships, who is contemplating leaving the horrifying world he lives in and just sailing off into the ocean, leaving the world of humans behind, even if it means his death.

One of the lyrics in it really resonated with me: “Don’t hear the sound of tyrants / Surrounded by the silence.” This describes my own approach to life in this world. My life growing up was rough. I’ve never had a place in the human world, and have frequently been told, often violently, that I don’t belong in it. As a young man, I decided to agree with the people who kept telling me this, and left the human world as far behind as I could. In the decades since, I have lived on its margins, having as little to do with it as possible.

There’s another lyric in that song that really stood out to me when I recently revisited this song: “As I contemplate this stand / What I do / Is who I am.” And that is a true statement. That is a very, very true statement. In fact, it’s a downright Odinic statement.

I have always looked with suspicion on people who form their identities around labels that just happen to apply to them. Like people who are all about (and so very proud of) being white, or American, or Fundamentalist, or what have you. These things require no effort, understanding, or sacrifice. If they were food, they would be candy: all sugar, no nutrients. They are nothing more than cheap, effortless ways to feel pride.

That is truly pathetic. What kind of a loser gets their entire sense of pride and identity out of an accident of birth, something that he or she did nothing at all to earn? This is not what Odin teaches. Odin values people who DO things. Warriors, conquerors, heroes, leaders, poets, adventurers, they are all people who are defined by what they DO, not by some meaningless accident of birth. Odin values ACCOMPLISHMENT, and the kinds of people who get their identities from actually DOING things. And that is as it should be. It is only accomplishment that deserves respect. I have lived my life on this principle.

As that song also says, when you’re out on the ocean, you “Don’t see the storms are forming.”

I @&^%$! hate the human world. ESPECIALLY its politics. So I have lived like Odin does, wandering outside that world, only coming back to it once in a while. I have wanted this blog to mostly be about spiritual matters. With some exceptions, I have tried not to get too caught up in current political matters. They are not concerns of my world.

However, the dumpster fire that is currently the modern world, particularly America, has become too big to ignore. And what I do is who I am. Even if the people of the world are not my people, I cannot ignore them while things are like this. So this old sailor is heading back to shore, and the sound of tyrants.

There is little I can do, practically speaking. I am poor, and mostly caught up in a struggle to survive, which is not easy to do living outside the human world. But I do have a platform here, and some kind of audience, however small. And there are voices in the heathen world saying and doing some truly awful things right now. So I have a duty to take a stand. Maybe my voice can reach one or two young ones before they are taken in by alt right Folkie bullshit.

Wake up people. We no longer have to worry about the American government turning into an authoritarian regime because it ALREADY IS ONE. “President” Trump brought in the military to teargas and shoot at peaceful protesters with rubber bullets, American citizens who were exercising their First Amendment rights, just so he could cross the street to have a photo op in front of a church.

THIS IS WHAT AUTHORITARIANISM LOOKS LIKE, PEOPLE!

Trump and his nine-times-damned group of supporters and enablers are traitors. They care nothing for the people, for the Constitution, for the law, for basic human decency, or for anything else. I don’t give a damn about the rigged Senate “trial.” Anyone with half a brain knows Trumpy sold this country out to the Russians in the last election. We heard the tapes ourselves. With my own ears, I heard him invite the Russians to use hackers to alter the course of the 2016 election, just like everyone else did. He betrayed this country to a foreign hostile power, and the damn Republicans stood by and did nothing.

With my own ears I heard him try to pretend the coronavirus now ravaging our world was a Democratic hoax, and use that as an excuse to refuse to take the steps that could have prevented this plague from spreading like wildfire across this country. More than 100,000 Americans have since died preventable, pointless deaths. That’s more than 33 September 11ths, FFS!  And the Republicans provided cover for him, helping him shirk his duties to the American people, all so they could try to jolly the stock market into staying high so they could win the next election and keep their cushy jobs. Trump betrayed the country, and tens of thousands of Americans died as a result. Their blood is on his hands, and no two ways about it.

I have watched him push policies that crush poor people, especially non-white poor people, making their lives unbearable, policies that militarize police, encourage racist police policies, and make the police completely immune from accountability. I watched him, and his Republican cronies, worsen the conditions that led to George Floyd’s death. And when, as is completely predictable for any group of people pushed beyond all limits of endurance, social unrest followed, his response is to go for Kent State mk. II.

And here we are, people. The “President” is speaking of American streets as a battleground, sending troops to illegally attack innocent civilians exercising their Constitutional rights and is threatening to do worse. He is trying to cut unemployment benefits and prevent financial support for anyone who isn’t rich in order to force poor people back into dangerous work places, where thousands more WILL die from the coronavirus, so he can goose the economy and win reelection. He is trying to keep in place the racist laws and policies that killed George Floyd and so many others, ensuring that there will be so many more. Hel, he’s trying to make them worse! And they only have the political power to do this because of decades of truly un-American shenanigans such as gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. They cannot win democratic elections, so they have subverted the democratic process. The Republicans have actually lost every election for a LONG time now. They only keep getting into power by profoundly un-American and anti-democratic political tricks.

We are in a battle for America. Trump and his supporters are traitors. Traitors to America, and traitors to the human race. They obey no law. If they are not stopped, NOW, this country will become fully, openly a tin pot dictatorship, with the last remnants of the democracy this country once was swept aside.

I used to hate the Democratic and Republican parties equally. I used to see them as equally criminal. I still see the Democrats as criminal, but they are still criminal in the ordinary, pedestrian way that politicians have always been criminal. The Republicans, however, have slid into outright cartoonish super-villainy.

I $%^#! hate the Democrats. They’re a bunch of corporate shills and liars who don’t believe in the things they say, by and large. They use people to get elected, and then forget about their promises to any but the rich. But I am still getting out there in November and voting a straight Democratic ticket. It’s become a matter of survival. Look around you. This is what a country looks like just before collapse.

I am $%%@ angry. And if you’re not, then you’ve either had your head shoved firmly up your ass for some time now, or you’re one of the people I’m angry at. Trump is a traitor. His enablers in Congress are traitors. And if, after all of this, you still support him, then you’re a traitor too. And in that case, don’t bother writing to me with your arguments, outrage, or vitriol. I will just delete your comments and ban you.

I do not hear the words of traitors.

And because this world is effed up enough that this still needs saying:

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Accomplishment and Odin

Well, I haven’t posted anything here in a long time. That is because I have said many of the things that I had created this blog to say, and I only find it worthwhile to make a post if I have something worthwhile to say. I refuse to post filler just to be putting something out there. However, with the extra time on my hands while the nation is under lockdown, I have been thinking about heathenry and spiritual development.

More specifically, I have been thinking about various issues I have concerning accomplishment and perfectionism. In all areas of my life, from my time in college to my martial arts to my research, I have always been driven to measure how well I am doing by how much I have accomplished. The trouble is, a lot of the things I have always been involved in are long term projects, and that inevitably means that there are a lot of times when I work and work without making any progress, or life gets complicated and I can’t get anything done. That gets frustrating, of course, but it has also always tended to get me angry, depressed, and rather stressed out.

This is an entirely appropriate approach to life, in one way, as I am an Odinist, and Odinists are kind of supposed to be driven by achievement. We also tend to be obsessive. These things are a big part of why we tend to get a lot of things done. Hel, for me, “relaxation” means doing work that I am interested in instead of doing work for other people. It is difficult for me to stop doing things enough to watch a movie or a few episodes of a TV show. The only way I take a day off, in the way most people mean that phrase, is when I am made to by some outside force. This way of living is how I have managed to redevelop the practice of the berserkergang as a formal martial art, write several books, and much more.

It’s taken me a lot of years to realize that this attitude toward life is also something that gets in the way of getting things done. I have come to understand that pushing myself as hard as I can, all the time, is only good for short term gains. In the long run, it sets you back more. It’s like running at top speed through the woods. Over short distances, you make more progress than if you walk. Over long distances, you inevitably run into a tree, knock yourself out, and make less progress than if you had just walked. Something similar is true of too much focus on perfection. If you spend all your time trying to get everything perfect, you miss doing more things well enough, and you do less overall.

Now, I have always seen pushing myself relentlessly as an appropriately Odinic path in this world. After all, Odin’s path is one of hardship, of growing through challenge, deprivation, and sometimes even through pain. And that is all true, as far as it goes.

But my thinking on the matter did not go far enough. Have you ever noticed how heathenry has rather a lot of gods of war? Each of them serves a different purpose. They say you pray to Thor for the strength to win, to Tyr for the skill to win, and to Odin if you just want to win, period. Odin is crafty. His greatest weapon is his mind, and does whatever it takes to win, even if the methods are sometimes unorthodox. I have been learning, of late, how much more like that my approach to life should be.

Better to walk when I can, and sprint for short distances when I need to and when I can get away with it. Deliberately take a day off in the way that most people mean that phrase, every now and then. Learn, in other words, from the Old Man, whose example and advice is always of great value.

I seem to have some things I work out, spiritually. So I will probably be active here again for awhile. Good luck to all of you out there in virus-land, from my underground bunker. (Well, basement room in a boarding house. Close enough.)

More Attempts to Be the Popes of Heathenry from the Wild Hunt Crowd

I keep saying that I am done with the assorted bigots and idiots at the Wild Hunt but, every time I do, they keep pulling me back in. It appears I now must speak up about the latest round of fascist douchebaggery coming from there, sparked by an article by Wild Hunt author Karl E.H. Seigfried. For maximum clarity, I will address the points he raises in order as he brings them up.

1. The bigoted stupidity starts off early, with the claim that heathenry is inherently racist at its roots by saying “Indeed, the arrival in the United States of Else Christensen’s overtly racist Odinism predates the founding of national universalist Heathen organizations by nearly twenty years.” Here are the things wrong with this statement:

A. Heathenry is not and never has been defined by the long-discredited Folkish vs. Universalist debate. There are three primary divisions: Folkish, Universalist, and Tribalist. Only the Folkish who want to spread the misinformation that all heathenry is Folkish, continue to push the narrative, along with SJW religious bigots who want the same thing as a way of discrediting the rest of heathenry.

B. Organizations in a religion do not define the religion. The roots of the religion are not found in which group decided to make a public organization before another group did.

C. In point of fact, the history of modern heathenry mostly lies with independent discoverers from the 70s through the 90s, and small organizations made by the same. And we have always been mostly Tribalist, rejecting the errors of both folkies and universalists.

Seigfried is either completely ignorant of heathen history, or is deliberately distorting it in order to advance long-discredited bullshit in order to justify his bigoted approach to our religion, his insistence that only the approach used by his branch has validity.

2. Seigfried then goes on to advance the mind-boggling childish argument that because he has “repeatedly heard members and leaders of signatory groups insist that ‘folkish doesn’t mean racist,’” this means that the majority of heathenry’s non-racist elements are not serious about rejecting racism, and that our words mean nothing.

Think about that for a moment. Because the real heathens haven’t managed to purge every racist who wants to hijack our ways, because we haven’t “cleaned up” the religion so much that Seigfried never hears anybody misusing it, we are not sincere in our opposition to those forces? Replace the word “heathen” there with “Muslim” and then tell me how that sounds. He is using the exact same argument against heathens as the Fox News Brigade uses against Muslims when they claim all Muslims are terrorists because they haven’t stopped the minority of those who are.

Well, Seigfried, it’s bigotry when used against Muslims, and it’s bigotry when used against us.

3. “If we are going to make declarations, we should declare that ‘folkish does mean racist.’”

Finally. A point we can agree on. Yes, Folkish does mean racist, as I have been saying for years. As I have gone amongst the Folkish, physically, to say. Let me tell you something, Seigfried. I was fighting fascists before you were a gleam in your daddy’s eye. I have, as a result, had more credible death threats than you’ve had stiff drinks. Don’t *%#^$! Tell me I am not sincere enough for you, and so I am really a fascist myself. What have you actually accomplished? What risks have you run? Because let me tell you something, kid, publishing &*&#$# little articles on the Wild Hunt isn’t actually DOING anything. It isn’t risking anything.

4. “If Heathenry isn’t a religion for white people, our religious communities should naturally reflect the diversity of the United States”

It is natural for people to have interests in one area and not others. It is natural for people to prefer some things and not others. Why do you assume that all ethnic groups must be interested in these ways? What you are proposing is that we go out and “try to get more dark skinned people” in our group. You obviously care nothing for the religion itself, the quality of insight its adherents hold, their level of dedication, you just want to fill ethnic quotas for social engineering purposes. You care nothing for the religion itself, our gods, our spirits, anything.

Like when you say: “We should diversify Heathen presence at wider Pagan and interfaith events. We should refuse to be part of or attend all-white panel discussions on Heathen issues.”

Insight, devotion, and connection to the gods come from anywhere. If they are in the form of an all-white panel, I will listen to them. Again: you care nothing for our religion. You are just trying to use us for your social engineering crusade.

I have held sumbel with black people, and with latinos. I have welcomed and acknowledged them as my religious kin. And, when none were present, still done so with white people. I did not run away and refuse to play until some dark skinned people gave the white skinned ones permission to speak to the public.

Real diversity comes from being open and accepting of all who come our way, regardless of ethnicity. Improving the quality of discourse in our religion comes from such open acceptance. It comes from letting worth reveal itself. Not from trying to change which group is the one being discriminated against. You merely seek to repeat the mistakes of the past in a whole new manner. You perpetuate the wrong-headed thinking that has plagued human society as long as there have been humans, by insisting that the keys to insight, wisdom, and devotion are found in particular skin colors, and not others.

5. “We should end the emphasis on Valhalla and fixation on warriors and weapons”

Spoken like an over-privileged, middle class jackass. You do realize that warriors on the police force and in the armed forces keep you safe enough to have your privileged ignorance, yes?

You know nothing of warriors, warrior culture, or Odin.

The problem  isn’t that the Folkish, terrorists, and incels who hide under the heathen banner are being made worse by being a part of warrior culture, it’s that they aren’t a part of one, but are playing at being part of one because they think it makes them look “kewl.” So they enact distorted ideas of rituals and ideas they got mostly from TV and movies. In point of fact, an actual warrior culture teaches discipline, judgment, responsibility, and fighting to protect the weak and innocent. Since my training I have not needed to fight, in general. I have been able to resolve things without fighting, which I was able to do because of my training. I have been able to step in on domestic violence situation, on crimes in progress, and on gang fights using only words and a little headology. It was my training as a warrior, and living by a warrior’s code, that gave me the desire to protect others and the courage to take the risks needed to do so with words and head games.

We need a REAL warrior’s culture in heathenry now more than ever.

6. “We should support the reform of gun law”

Another point we can agree on. As any REAL warrior knows, carrying a weapon is a privilege, something that requires special training, maturity, and the right attitude, and that if you cannot demonstrate these things you have no business with a weapon.

You’re a hypocrite, Seigfried. You use the same straw men, ad hominems, etc. that you complain of other heathens doing to Islam and Christianity.

And the same goes for the rest of you SJW and “Antifa” involved in this. Look at your behavior. You are trying to dox anyone who does not share your insane, rabid vision of the world. You are accusing a trans man, one of the greatest defenders of trans rights in Northern Tradition, Raven Kaldera, of trans phobia because he used a $$&&^! term you don’t like, one that was accepted in his generation. You’re even lying about me, accusing me of supporting hammerskins, when I am on record as having nothing but contempt for and opposition to them. You have no honor. You have no respect. You lie, attack, endanger anyone who does not subscribe to your insanely black and white world view. You are completely intolerant of those with different world views than your own. You act like children. You are alienating not just us, but any reasonable heathens out there, and harming the REAL struggle against fascism.

You people have not taken care while fighting monsters, and you have stared too long into the Abyss.

Anti-fascist my ass. You people are fascists. Just a different flavor of fascist. Which makes you also a bunch of hypocrites. And you have no interest in social justice, just in virtue signalling.

I, meanwhile, stand where I have always stood: with a finger on my right hand raised to the Folkies, and one on my left raised to you losers. I am getting so sick of all your proto-Borg nonsense.

It is a belief of many heathens that a person’s worth can be measured by the kind of enemies they have made. I have always been proud to count the Folkies as my enemies. And you know what? I’m damn proud to have you fascist “Antifa” SJW bastards as my enemies as well.

Hail Odin.

Wayland Skallagrimsson

P.S. For those of you too coarse-witted to understand the term “proto-Borg,” I’ll shortly be doing another post to explain it.

More Metal from an Old Packmate

I was once again contacted by an old member of the pack who is a musician these days. I have written about her work in metal before on this blog. Well, she apparently has a new project: Appalachian Metal. She has a couple of songs up, one titled “Berserker.” They’re just rough live recordings, but the band sounds like it has a lot of potential. They are working on their first album now and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting it. If you like metal, I suggest popping over and giving them a listen, and checking out their album when it comes out.

The Girls Underground Story Oracle

Today I wanted to give everyone a heads up about the newest project by Dver, the Dionysian devotee and author of many of the definitive books on modern Hellenism. She has created the Girls Underground Oracle, which is based on a deep-rooted story archetype found in literature, movies, and so forth from around the world, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Coraline, and Labyrinth.

She has spent years studying this female initiatory archetypal tale, and has now created a tool for the exploration of one’s own spiritual and developmental path, as well as for writing new and original stories. The Kickstarter for it is here. She is almost at her goal, and a little more will make sure that she can get this thing manufactured and shipped out.

I am a Gatekeeper

I have been hearing a new word in polytheistic circles lately, and it’s a word I am really starting to dislike. OK, it’s not really a new word, but it is a word being used in a new way: “Gatekeeper.” To be more precise, it is “Gatekeeper” used as a pejorative.

This word represents a new and pernicious effort of the uber-Universalist types. Universalists have always believed that everyone has the right to declare themselves a member of our tradition, no matter who they are. Lately, however, it seems they are not content with having their own views, but must also attack everyone who does not believe exactly like they do.

Which brings us to the whole “Gatekeeper” thing. It is the term they are using to attack anyone who tries to hold standards for entry into our traditions. If, for instance, a level-headed Tribalist happens to mention that no, you cannot worship Marvel Thor and Marvel Odin and call yourself a heathen, or you cannot believe that the gods are really alien astronauts and call yourself a heathen, then the uber-Universalists start screaming “Gatekeeper!” like it meant “Nazi.”

Good grief. Uber-universalists to the left of me, Folkies to the right… I feel like I’m up to my armpits in fascists these days.

Well, I am proud to call myself a Gatekeeper. Our religion, like any religion, needs standards. You want to be a member? You have to earn the right. That includes a fair bit of learning. Too lazy or self-important to do it? Try the Unitarians. They take anyone.

An Excellent Summary of the Tribalist View

In a rare moment of time to read various blogs, I found an old post on the topic of Tribalism that I rather liked. It is an excellent and thoughtful analysis of the Tribalist view of heathenry. Together with the debate in the comments section, it demonstrates well how Tribalism is distinct from Folkism and can incorporate some Universalist views without being fully Universalist. This is the link.

Instinctive Nonsense

“Stay true to yourself, and success will follow.” “Always go with your gut.” “Trust your instincts.” These and a dozen similar sayings illustrate a popular attitude toward life. I have heard a number of variants on this theme lately, and found that it was really getting on my nerves. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized why: it is, in general, a really stupid piece of advice. And discussing why it is stupid leads inevitably to some important concepts about the Odinic path, so this will form the topic of today’s post.

Babies are idiots. Nothing against babies, it’s just an observation about where we all start in life: as drooling, incompetent morons. When we are young, we have no instincts at all. We’ll stick our hands in fires, tease large vicious dogs, eat poison, or anything shiny, and crawl off of fatal drops. The only reason we ever develop better instincts is because we learn and grow as people.

Instincts are not something you “just have.” You are not naturally inclined to be successful. You are not innately a person whose only problem is not believing in yourself, and not being true to yourself. Success comes from learning. It comes from failing, over and over again, and trying something new each time you fail. It comes from thinking. A lot. It comes from growing and changing. It comes, in short, from NOT being your normal, poorly educated, inexperienced, dumbass self, and trying instead to become something better.

 

This is what Odin has to teach. Never be satisfied with yourself. Change. Grow. That is the key to victory.

Fear and Guns

I recently had an encounter with a local idiot that has got me thinking. I was walking back from the store, and had to turn left to get onto my street. As I started moving left, I figured the guy coming in the opposite direction would step to my right, where there was plenty of room. He did not.

Instead, with a weird screwed up look on his face, he tried to cut to my left, blocking my turn. As I turned more sharply he jumped in front of me again. Then he started screaming about how he wasn’t going to let me intimidate him, and then he threatened to shoot me. From there, he completely melted down and had a Basil Fawlty-level apoplectic fit (a reference from before your time, kids). Shaking his fists at the sky and screaming at the heavens, he started going on about shooting fags.

At his threat to shoot me, I assessed him as a threat, and thought it unlikely he actually intended immediate violence. As I am more mature than I was in my days as a young punk, I just gave him a one fingered salute and walked off, instead of literally smacking some sense into him.

On my way home, I tried to analyze what had just happened. It seemed like something I have seen before. I am over six feet in height, and broadly built, with a large beard, and in my black leather duster I can look rather imposing. Some guys, notably those severely lacking in self confidence and tending to be panicky, get so fearful when they see me that they automatically parse anything I do as aggressive. The little idiot had assumed that when I tried to turn, I was getting in his way deliberately. So from there he leaped to the worst case scenario and assumed I posed a mortal threat to him.

Which brings me to my main point: guns and cowardice. My martial arts sensei had some words for me on the subject when I was a young punk, and I have always thought them wise words. He mentioned that some fools bought guns because they were such cowards that they did not dare go out into the world without one, because they were in mortal terror of everything and everyone they encountered. He told me that such people were a greater danger to others than the most hardened gangster, because they shot at anything that scared them, and everything scared them. As he told me: “if you don’t dare go out of your house without a gun, you have no business leaving your house with a gun.”

Responsible gun ownership means more than safety training. It means possessing the strength of character to be able to responsibly possess such power. My sensei’s words are words every gun owner should live by.

And, speaking to that panicky little idiot and those like him: come on people. My 5’0” niece manages to go out into the world without such fear. Relax. It’s not really that bad a place.