Christian Day Debacle, Follow-Up

Well, it looks like the crazy brigade has come out to support Christian Day, the rape-advocating super-tool I discussed in my previous post. Two members of the Hellenic community, Brandie Elaine and Todd Jackson, have decided to back up Day’s “right” to endanger people’s lives and encourage rape.

Mr. Jackson has even upped the ante, posting this little gem of insanity:

“For the record, I don’t really believe in free will except in the most superficial sense … whether you consent has already been decided. The future – in which you did or did not consent – exists already. We experience it as a futurity, and think we have choice. This is an illusion, like the passage of time itself.

Apparently Mr. Jackson is attempting to become the Cee Lo Green of the pagan community. Well, Mr. Jackson, sophomoric philosophical positions do not magically disprove the need for consent, or justify rape.

Rape is wrong, people. No ifs, ands, or buts.

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Beware Christian Day, Pagan Predator

I had just logged in to make a post, and got word of something that I need to pass along. My original post will have to wait for another time.

I want to warn everyone about a tool named Christian Day, a member of the Salem pagan scene who has recently started posting private information about people publicly, including real names. When one of the women he outed informed him that she used a pseudonym because of a deranged, violent stalker, he replied “I hope your stalker has some fun with you,” and “Oh, and by the way, if he rapes you please call out my name while he does so.”

As far as I am concerned, that makes him an attempted rapist. I advise you all to share no troth, or personal information, with this tool.

Mr. Day, you are a nidhling. A contemptuous, honorless troll. Three ises I give thee, and three thurses too. Let all wights hear this nidhing, and give you no peace until you make amends.

Some Thoughts on Odin’s Path and the Modern World

Today is the anniversary of my berserker initiation. Fourteen years ago I stood in the ancient ruins of Dogtown, abandoned centuries ago and considered haunted ever since, and faced the ritual fire. In the years since that night, I have been asked why many times. I have answered that question several times, in other places. On reflecting on the experience today, I was moved instead of why to talk about the reason why the question gets asked at all.

The simple reason why people ask me this question is that today’s world is seriously lacking some of the Odinic values. Many people, even many heathens, do not believe that Odin has anything to offer today’s world. But it’s not as simple as that. You see, this is only one side of the issue. The other side is the other question I get asked by a very different bunch of people: why don’t I rely on the aggression of the berserkergang and the Odinic path more than I do? There are, broadly and stereotypically speaking, two kinds of modern heathens. Both of them tend to miss the true Odinic path in some ways, I think.

To understand the context of these questions, I have to share a little bit about my past. I was born in “The Armpit of the Nation,” that area of Massachusetts comprising the cities of Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, and Lovell. It was an economically depressed area, all dying mill towns and gangs. My childhood was rather violent. I was shot before I hit my teens. It gave me a rather skewed understanding of the world, perhaps, but it also gave me a high tolerance for hardship and danger. It is a big part of what made me an Odinist. I needed power, and the ability to fight, and he offered me both. It also helped lead me to live the kind of life that I have lived since growing up.

I am, as I discussed in my last post, primarily a scientist. My life has largely been dedicated to pursuing my own scientific studies, even though there is no money in it. That is, after all, how I helped to redevelop the berserkergang as a living practice. As such, I know a lot of academic people, a lot of thoughtful philosophical types. Some of them are heathen. Many of them are atheist. Most of them are liberal. Many have been my friends. Most of them don’t get me, though. They find me scary, and violent, and they do not understand the “dark, risky” path that I have chosen to walk. They ask me why I am an Odinist. They ask me why I have become a berserk. To them, such things are insanities from a bygone era. And yes, this includes many modern heathens.

It seems that they don’t understand two things. One: the world actually is still a scary, dangerous place. Yes, they have the fortune to live in the better parts of a rich country, and can choose to pretend that such places do not exist. That does not make them go away though. A great many people aren’t as fortunate as they are. I got myself out of a bad beginning to life through the Odinic path. The things I have learned on that path have been of use to others.

Additionally, Odin is a god of much more than war. He is the god of inspiration, and also of science. (Which is just a specific form of inspiration-derived work.) Science depends on the eureka moment, the moment of insight when everything become clear and you realize how it all works. That moment can be deliberately triggered, through the practice of certain Odinic arts, and that is a skill of inestimable value to all forms of science. It is also difficult, and extremely stressful. The character development I have gone through pursuing the Odinic path’s more, er, vigorous aspects is of incalculable value in this too.

I have never much cared for the stupid little rules and popularity contests of society, so it was easy for me to make the decision to reject it all and live the way I wanted to. A big part of this has involved wandering the Earth. I live to see cool stuff. I live to discover secret things, and to set my eyes on sights never seen before. I have traveled all over the Americas and Europe, in both hemispheres. I have been privy to the secret rites of the Chanting Dervishes, and talked at length with an Isawiyaan elder, whose kind has long been thought to have vanished. I have walked through a necropolis on the other side of the world, explored caves running far beneath the surface of the Earth, been in a fortress with walls so thick they had internal highways, and seen places that look far more like alien planets than places from this world. I have partied with bikers and with crowds that contained fashion designers and Kennedies. (Bikers party WAY better.)

When you wander that far, you keep winding up in strange and even dangerous situations. I’ve had to intervene in domestic violence situations more than once. I’ve gotten involved in trying to get an idiot out of the dangerous situation with organized crime that she thought she could handle. I’ve been accosted by various street thugs and robbers. I have fought no holds barred matches against sumo-sized giants and special forces soldiers half my age, in a ring made of barbed wire. It hasn’t been a boring life.

Because of this part of my life, I have also come to know a wide variety of soldiers, professional sport fighters, thugs, borderline criminals, outright criminals, hookers with hearts of gold, lowlifes, noble hobos, vaudeville performers, and various other colorful characters. Many of these have been right wing. Many of them have been heathen. Many of them have been my friends. They don’t get me either, mostly.

I tend to end up having the same conversation with these people, too. For example, I was discussing my martial arts training with a younger fighter one day, and mentioned that my sensei had rebuked me sharply one night when I came to see him, expressing pride at winning a street fight. He told me that hand to hand combat, though a necessary skill, was a minor one, and only to be used as a last resort. He said that instead of pride I should feel shame, because I was not instantly aware of the situation well enough to manipulate it to be resolved without violence.

The kid found this puzzling. He asked for an example. So I told him about one of the more dangerous shifts I had as a social worker. I have been a security guard and a body guard, but I NEVER saw so much action as when I was a social worker. One night at the shelter for runaway teens, my kids came running in quickly, then sat down and behaved very well. This naturally made me suspicious, and I soon had the truth out of them: they had gotten into a gang fight with a gang that had proved to be more hardcore than they were, and they had fled. Upon further questioning, they revealed that they may not have lost them while fleeing the battleground.

Sure enough, the shelter was soon confronted with some 14 tough guys demanding that my boys come out and face the music. Calling the cops was no good. In that neighborhood, they never showed up in under 30 minutes, hoping things would resolve themselves first without risk to them. So I told my idiots that I was going outside and that if they didn’t stay inside, then if we all survived the confrontation, I would kill them myself. Because I had proved to them that they could trust me to look out for them AND to kick their asses if needed, they obeyed.

So, I went up to the end of the driveway and faced the other gang. Because I was alone, I had several seconds in which they would listen to me talk. After all, I obviously was not a threat. Because I have had, thanks to my sensei, extensive training as a Mentalist (read: Headologist, or Functional Amateur Psychologist) I was able to do what is known as a cold reading on several of them, particularly the leader. My single unarmed man bit bought me the time for it. So we chatted for a few minutes, while they aired their grievances and threats, and I selected a strategy. I berserked, but only a bit. Just enough to seem dangerous. And I told them, in a calm level voice, that they did indeed have the numbers and weapons to kill me. I also promised them that the first four across the line that separated us would die. I described how, in detail. And I promised them that I was not going to allow them to go after my idiots, even though, yes, they probably were the ones in the wrong.

Somehow, none of them wanted to be one of the first four. So they all held back. Once their hesitation went on long enough, I made it clear to the leader that he had lost control of the situation, and that it was time to move on. Not being a total idiot, he did.

You see, I had used a much better weapon than a gang of armed teenagers. I used Story as a weapon. I fed them a story that they would believe, that would make them choose of their own free will to behave as I wanted them to. What, a strange man confronting a gang of armed street thugs all alone, without any weapons? Talking like he has no fear at all? Well, they’ve seen that scene a hundred times, in movies and on TV. The obviously outmatched weirdo always turns out to be a vampire, or a legendary hit man, or something like that, and kills everybody. And, well, what kind of halfwit would BLUFF something like that, right? So they believed me just enough to lose their nerve.

The young fighter I was talking to asked why I took the risk I did. I am a skilled berserk, he pointed out, and could likely have simply scared them all off or actually kicked their asses (not bloody likely) rather than dissemble, bargain, and manipulate in a scheme that required me to be unarmed and alone. He thought it a foolish risk. He thought my sensei’s advice foolish. He said that I should have taken pride in my berserker nature, and my status as an Odinic priest, and taught them a lesson they would never forget.

I get questions like this from this crowd all the time. And similar ones, like why I pay heed to the moralities and beliefs of other cultures, or why I still hand out with elitist eggheads and never joined the armed forces and fought in a real war.

You see, this sort of heathen doesn’t really understand Odinic values in this modern world either. It is no longer enough to fight for the sake of fighting! That is a foolishness of the ancient world, a weakness that we would do well to leave behind. My left-wing friends are correct there. All lives are valuable, all lives should be cherished. An Odinist in today’s world SHOULD have handled that situation as I did. Odinists are expected to be heroes. Modern people are expected to have ideals. So I do not feel, as my right-wing brothers and sisters, that such sentimentality is a weakness. Indeed, I have found it a great source of strength. And because I am a hero, I will take risks to live up to those ideals. That means protecting the stupid teenagers I was responsible for from the consequences of their own actions. It ALSO meant protecting the attackers, if I possibly could manage it.

And you know what? I DID. I sent them all packing without ANYONE having to get hurt.

Particularly me.

All because I used a warrior’s BEST weapon: that 8 pound lump of grey goo in my skull. And this wasn’t an isolated incident. Since I graduated from my martial arts program, and got enough experience in the real world to have some worth as a serious fighter, you know what?

I’ve never had to fight. I have handled every situation that has arisen in the last several years by using my head and my words. And this is because I think I do understand a thing or two about Odin’s path and its relationship to today’s world.

My pacifistic, liberal brothers and sisters are wrong that only thugs and professional lawmen have need of the skills of war. Lawmen cannot be everywhere, and even privileged rich countries have many dark and bad things happening all over. Because I had the skills needed to fight for my life, I had the confidence to tackle a few of these situations. My more war-like right wing brethren are also wrong. Because I had the benefit of modern, peaceful, evolved ideals I could manage to resolve things, again and again, so that nobody had to get hurt. I survived to fight another day. My kids survived. Mission accomplished, minimum fuss, maximum efficiency. Because I could take the high road, and show that you could be a better person even in the face of danger, I could really make these kids listen when I told them that their lives could be better, even nobler, than the lives they were then living. It is because I see both Odin’s higher intellectual functions and his base warrior functions that I could do these things.

Of course, many of you dear readers are going to see this as a simple excuse to boast on my part. Somehow, whenever I have to talk about any experiences from either my scientific work or adventuring, most people leap to that conclusion. But I think that what I have to say here is important. Odin offers something unique to the modern world, something that it needs. Odin’s path allows everyone, even lay people, to receive some of the benefits of the warrior’s path, without the need to become a soldier. It encourages people to have heroic ideals. And it offers a way to uphold those ideals, without either weakness or compromise. Odinists can benefit from the perspective of both right and left wing, both liberal and conservative. Odinists can go far beyond the limits of either of these philosophies. And that understanding won’t be passed around unless people talk about something other than either the knee-jerk violence and warrior-responses of the right wing heathens or the often unworkable but still beautiful and all too necessary ideals of the left wing heathens.

I came to much of this understanding on a road that started on the night that I stood in the ruins of Dogtown, and held my hand in a fire, and understood what GOING BERSERK truly meant.

Immediate and Extreme Escalation

One of my nieces recently turned 18, and another turned 13. At the older niece’s birthday I reflected back on my time with them, and asked myself: “Have I taught them to be brutal and merciless enough when circumstances demand it?”

As their uncle and an Odinist, I have always figured that it was my responsibility to teach them how to defend themselves. Especially after I heard what their father taught them on the subject. While I would not normally interfere, he is estranged and has little part in raising them. Plus his advice was stupid, and could get them hurt or killed.

You see, he had told them that if they were ever attacked, then they had a moral obligation to only respond with the exact same level of force, to retreat if at all possible, and to never initiate anything or escalate the situation.

This sort of bullshit is the sure sign of an overprivileged middle- or upper-class idiot who has been insulated enough from the real world to never have been in any real danger or take any significant risks. The kind of person who makes moral codes based entirely on theory and not at all on real world considerations.

As a priest of Odin, my understanding of Odinic principles and teachings has bid me to do many things that some would consider risky. I have worked in shelters for homeless teens and adults. I have intervened in domestic violence situations. I have stepped into the ring with Navy SEALs, giants, and more for amateur MMA fights. I have learned a thing or two about violent, dangerous situations from actual real world experience.

Such advice as my nieces’ father gave them is seriously flawed on several levels. The most significant of which is that it gives the initiative to the attacker. NEVER do this. When you only respond and never initiate, when you let the attacker take the first move, you give your attacker complete control of the situation. If you do not have serious skills trained into you, do you know what your chances are of surviving an attack that is meant to kill or incapacitate, when your attacker is larger and stronger than you are, or armed? Pretty much zero.

Instead, I taught them that if they were ever attacked, or threatened with attack, their best chance of survival lay in immediate and extreme escalation. I taught them to scream, to advance aggressively. I taught them tricky attacks that were designed to avoid their natural limitation of small size, attacks that could end the situation immediately. I taught them how to shatter kneecaps, tear tendons and ligaments from their moorings, gouge out eyes, and more. I taught them how to use the contents of their purses as weapons. I taught them to do whatever it took to end the attack immediately. Anything less pretty much guarantees their defeat.

I taught them to be responsible about it, yes. But women in our society are too often programmed to be meek and to put themselves in danger rather than act inappropriately, and I made damn sure to counter this message. I taught them that if they did kill or cripple an attacker then the moral burden for it was on him, as the initiator of the attack, and not on them. I also pointed out that the philosophy of immediate and extreme escalation was also the most likely way to end the situation without anyone getting hurt. You see, predators want easy prey. When you make it plain that you will fight back, that you will bloody well kill them if necessary, then they will often leave without any violence at all.

Some people ask what use Odin’s philosophy is in the modern world. Such questions are generally the sign of privilege and isolation from the real world. However civilized the world gets, there will always be animals, predators, crazies, and monsters. It is the job of us Odinists to help people deal with them.

Hail Odin.

How Sesame Street Betrayed Two Generations

“The most important person in the world is you, / And you hardly even know you. / The most important person in the whole wide world is you, / Come on, we’ll show you.”

If my memory of my young childhood is correct, these are lyrics from one of the songs that Sesame Street played in almost every episode. It is also the reason for many of the cultural problems of my generation, Gen X, and the youngest one, the Millennial.

Obsessed with trivia about celebrities, these two generations too often prefer to read gossip columns over actual news. The word diva, to my generation and the next, has stopped being considered a serious insult and is now a title that is sought after. These demographics spend the bulk of their time insulting celebrities on Twitter, posting pictures of their dinners on Facebook, and LOL-ing everything, as if any of that BS mattered. Collecting and displaying artwork, music, and movies made by other people is now considered to be a form of self expression.

Worst of all, though, is the worship accorded to the idea of Expressing My Opinion.

What? How could expressing personal opinions possibly be bad, you ask?

Let me relate a few stories to you.

I went to an arcade once, right after the way that quarters were made had just been changed. I was really into House of the Dead, and spent time there shooting zombies. When I put one of the new quarters, made of lighter metals, into the machine, it was rejected. So were all of the other new quarters. I went to an employee, and asked for some old-style quarters, telling him why. He told me that it was impossible for there to be such a problem, because the machine was designed to take quarters and these were quarters. I explained how the sensor mechanism worked (I was an engineer) and how the new alloys just didn’t have the weight to press the switch. He got upset, and almost started crying. When I asked him what was going on, he accused me of being “mean,” and felt the need to defend himself by saying that he was “just expressing his opinion.”

I used to be on one of the biggest heathen forums. It prided itself on being a place where people from all philosophies, all branches of heathenry, could come together. Yet every time that someone with non-white ancestry spoke up, they were shouted down and driven off the forum by Folkies. When I tried to defend them, I got told off by the administrators. They told me that the Folkies were “just expressing their honest opinions,” and that I had no right to “repress them.” When I told them what I thought of this idea, they Voldemort-banned me. In other words, not only am I banned, but anyone who so much as mentions my name or links to one of my websites gets banned as well.

In so many discussions, on forums and Facebook, in person and otherwise, it is now often considered acceptable to say the most egregious things. I have seen supposedly rational discussions include references to Mexicans as wetbacks, homosexuals as fags, Arabs as towelheads, and worse. Whenever confronted, these people and the passive masses around them defend these slurs as “expressions of personal opinion.”

It gets worse. Look at the whackos who categorically deny the reality of global warming, water shortage, space travel, the need for vaccinations, and evolution. Despite the universal consensus of scientists about the reality of all of these things, a huge percentage of people do no research at all, do not educate themselves about any of the facts, and yet still try to change public policy on these subjects. When confronted, they parse their struggle as a conflict between equally valid opinions.

These problems have many causes, of course. However, one of the chief causes is the cultural revolution of the hippies. You see, in their day, the national culture tended to be completely intolerant of differences, and rather harsh about enforcing social norms. So they tried to combat this tyranny by educating the young in a different way. Shows like Sesame Street were one of the tools that they used. To counter the message of “There Is Only One Right Way,” they tried to encourage children to trust their own opinions more, and to see value in many different ways of thinking.

This is all well and good. However, they went about it in the most asinine way possible. Instead of teaching children to think rationally about many different opinions, they just sold them the message that “All opinions are equally valid!” Instead of encouraging children to develop the maturity and intellect needed to develop the best opinions possible, they taught them that they should feel good just for being themselves, that their opinions mattered no matter what.

What do you get when you raise children to believe that they don’t have to actually do anything or have any introspection in order to feel good about themselves? Well, you get people with frail egos who think that being told that, factually speaking, the thing they just said was incorrect is some kind of personal attack. You get weaklings who cannot actually function in the real world, or grow up. You get a tolerance of really fu<&ed up, racist, homophobic insults, of genocidal philosophies, of mean-spirited and sadistic behavior. After all, all opinions are equally valid, right? You get people who are actually so stupid that they think that scientifically tested and verified ideas have no more weight than personal opinions. You get people who are so easily satisfied with who they are that they never grow up. You get people who never develop past childish obsessions with celebrities and entertainment, and think they shouldn’t have to, because that’s just “who they are.”

Well, let me tell you something: opinions are like @$$holes. Everybody has one. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to listen to yours.

The measure of a man or woman is the _kind_ of opinions that they have. Yes, everybody has a right to their own opinions. No one person or group should be able to force you into holding different opinions, or into making you feel bad for yours. But that doesn’t somehow magically make your opinions any good.

Fortunately for me, I always preferred The Electric Company to Sesame Street. It was more intelligent and complex. Plus, it had vampires, bikers, and Spider Man. We need more childhood education like that, and less mindless feel-good pablum like Sesame Street.

We Have To Have Standards

Right-wing leaning heathens tend to hate me because I value other religious and spiritual traditions, and many different points of view about our own traditions. Left-wing leaning heathens tend to hate me because I insist on maintaining standards, and not automatically putting every other belief on par with my own. Certain perennial debates have recently surfaced again in the larger pagan community, leading me to think that it’s time to remind the more strident and knee-jerk left-wing types why they dislike me.

We need standards, people. I respect that everyone has the right to their own beliefs and opinions. I believe that even beliefs and practices that I personally find ridiculous can contain genuine worth and even insight. These things do not, however, mean that all beliefs and practices are themselves worthy of my respect. I have a right to my own beliefs and opinions too, including the opinion that this or that idea is really freaking stupid. People have the right to believe any damnfool thing they want to, but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend it isn’t a damnfool thing to believe.

There is a fair amount of mysticism of one sort or another in the heathen community. Seidh workers, berserkers, thules, godhis, and more practice some sort of communion with the gods or lesser spirits. Many private devotees experience a divine presence in prayer, or have their prayers answered through omens or revelatory experience. This is, after all, where the concept of the UPG (Unusual Personal Gnosis) comes from. This is a good thing. The ancients were a very spiritually oriented people, and wide embracing of the spiritual in daily life means that we are finding their ways again.

This does NOT, however, mean that any and every claim of mystical experience should be given equal weight. Any and every culture that uses a spiritual practice of one sort or another has very strict standards about what did and did not qualify as a genuine mystical experience. We need such standards as well. Because frankly, we’re drowning in drivel. So let me here offer what I think are a reasonable set of standards, mostly cribbed from those of traditional mystically-oriented cultures and supplemented by my own experience.

How To Spot Fake Mysticism

1) Actual historical mystics have experiences of speaking to gods, visiting other spiritual realms, and communing with spirits only after years and years of difficult, rigorous, and even dangerous training. Did you learn to travel to Asgard after a weekend seminar? You’re a fake. Did you set yourself up as a seidh-worker after a week-long intensive? Then you’re full of $&!^. Have you been studying out of Llewelyn books on your own for a year now? You may have some talent, but you don’t have the skills to be claiming anything, Buddy.

Yeah, yeah, there are powerful natural talents who don’t need training. But such people are VERY RARE. They are the Van Goghs of the spirit-worker world. You seriously claiming you are THAT good? Ha. And double ha.

Look at Vodoun. Vodouisants regularly have spirit-possession experiences. However, not every devotee has one, and even then, it is considered only to be possible with large, well-trained groups working in unison. Are you seriously trying to claim that you alone are more powerful and knowledgeable than every Vodouisant ever? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

2) Actual historical mystics, even the powerful and talented ones, have such experiences only rarely. The Buddha is held to have been visited by a particular god THREE TIMES in his entire life. And this was taken as proof of the Buddha’s great spiritual power and enlightenment. Even when everything is set up just right in a Vodoun ritual, even highly experienced horses cannot expect regular experiences. Even the greatest of heathen heroes have been visited by their gods only a few times in their lives.

Do you claim that you are more enlightened than the Buddha? Do you expect us to believe that you are more talented than each and every Vodouisant in the world? You think you are so much more awesome even than Sigurd the Volsung that Odin is in your social circle? Go away child, grown-ups are talking.

If you claim your practice lets you speak to the gods at will, if you blog about your spirits sitting down to watch TV with you every night, if you claim to get infallible answers from the Outgarths at will, then you are a fake. You are impeding both heathen progress and the overall progress of the human race.

3) Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. This is THE gold standard of every traditional spiritual practice ever. Including ancient heathenry.

The ancient berserks claimed to become possessed by spirits under certain extraordinary circumstances. Not just anybody could demand that their claim to being a berserk be taken seriously, though. They had to demonstrate enhanced strength, reflexes, and combat ability. They had to demonstrate GENUINE fearlessness (think about what that meant to a Viking). They often had to perform extraordinary feats, such as fire resistance.

Seidh workers couldn’t just claim the honor of the title, they had to produce results. As in, actual relevant answers to questions, solutions to problems, etc.

Vodouisant horses claiming to be ridden, or possessed, have to demonstrate the actual presence of one of the lwa. After all, a god should be able to demonstrate miracles, so a claim of possession is only validated when the ridden one chews glass, resists fire, has hot pepper extract blown into the eyes without flinching, etc.

Tibetan Bon shamans have to demonstrate such feats as drying wet towels draped around their bodies while naked in the snow in sub-zero temperatures using only body heat.

You say you talk to the gods? Prove it. Put up or shut up. A person who claims such advanced spiritual powers and knowledge can back those claims up with actions. A person who can’t is a fraud, a buffoon, or both.

4) Actual successful spirit work requires constant practice. The mental state that is required is not at all easy to get into, even with a lot of experience. It requires maintenance with serious, regular devotional practices that involve a lot of time and effort. One sure-fire way to spot a fake mystic is if they have the free time to post daily blog entries about themselves and their supposed spirit work, or if their spirit work consists of watching TV while thinking earnestly about them. If you have such abundant free time then you probably aren’t doing it right.

5) If the gods look and act exactly like you expect them to, and if they reinforce the things you have already decided to believe, you are not having spiritual experiences. What you are experiencing is called “the imagination,” and everyone can do it.

Real mystic experiences are transcendental. They leave you in tears, or laughing maniacally, or passing out from the sheer overwhelming SUCHNESS of everything. They blow your preconceptions away. They force you to see things as they are whether you want to or not, and they constantly challenge your beliefs about yourself, the world, and the nature of the gods themselves.

6) Do you talk constantly about your experiences? Do you constantly demand validation of your experiences from others? You’ve had no experiences. The true spiritual experience is powerful and personal, and the person experiencing it almost never feels like sharing it. It is far too personal, and difficult to put into words. A person who has had a genuine spiritual experience KNOWS it, and does not seek to have everyone affirm that it was genuine.

7) Anyone who has become a god-spouse to Loki shortly after one of the Marvel Thor or Avengers movies has come out is a fake. This also applies to any other works of popular fiction that use names or images of gods and spirits.

It is possible for someone to hear The Call through such a medium, yes. But it is not bloody likely. In general, such characters are fictional characters used to tell a story. They usually bear no resemblance whatsoever to the actual god or spirit portrayed.

Look at Marvel Loki. He has NOTHING in common with the actual Loki from the ancient stories. Marvel Loki goes into a lovely hammy speech about the evils of freedom. Actual Loki is all about freedom. He may even be THE god of freedom. Marvel Loki betrays his kin. Actual Loki pranks his kin and betrays outsiders, but does not betray kin who have not betrayed him first. Marvel Loki is an enemy of Asgard, actual Loki is an agent of Asgard. So to all you Marvel-inspired Loki spouses: you don’t know a thing about Loki.

We need to have standards when it comes to spiritual experiences in this religion. If we don’t then the traditional ways of personal and spiritual development will be hijacked by people who are deluding themselves, lying, or even essentially LARPING. There is a lot of value in the old ways, the spiritual approach to life. Anyone can benefit from it, anyone can take up the spiritual path. However, not everyone will succeed. Worth proves itself. Heathens believe that deeds are more important than words. Those who genuinely have something of worth to add to our spiritual lore will prove it. Those who will not are not worth listening to.

Post Script

And speaking of standards, I wish to add a word here about religious standards apart from spiritual practices. Not everybody who says they practice our religion does. We need to be open to other beliefs, other points of view, yes. But if these points of view are radically different from the traditional ones, then they are not representative of traditional beliefs. Humanist heathens, and chaos magicians, and especially xaos magicians, are not heathen. They believe that they can believe anything they like about the gods and heathen ideals. They believe that worshipping the gods is nothing more than building up thoughtforms in the head. These people will, for instance, worship Marvel Thor and demand to be taken seriously by traditional heathens.

They have a right to their beliefs. It is a valid enough spiritual tradition of its own. However, it is essentially atheist, and not in any way heathen. They are free to use our images and names, they are part of their heritage too. But this does not mean that they have the right to be considered actual heathens.

Frith and Faith

My grandmother recently passed away after a long battle with a variety of illnesses. As a devout Lutheran she disapproved of pretty much everything I believe and do, but was respectful and classy enough to keep it to herself. As I am 3,000 miles away from her funeral and wake, I wanted to hold a minni for her. (In case you are not heathen, the minni is the rite of remembrance, something like a religious ritual and a wake combined.)

This presented me with something of a dilemma. I had spent the last few years living with her and helping to look after her, and wanted to do something to honor her and find closure on that chapter of my life. However, she would not want heathen prayers said for her, the intercession of a heathen divinity, or any suggestion that she might even theoretically be involved with such things.

So I compromised. I did not ask for Odin to ferry her safely to the other side. I did not ask any heathen god to bless her. I did hallow the ritual space by the Hammer, and asked Odin’s blessing over the ritual drink. Then I offered my grandmother traditional toasts, speaking memories of her life and the ways she had affected me, such as introducing me to the runes.

It is a strength of the heathen religion that we can respectfully accommodate other religions, other views of the world, while remaining true to our own. During our time together I often had to alter my practices or my speech in order to accomodate her beliefs. Just as she did, in her own way, for me. It was not an imposition, it was a matter of respect, of frith. Wes thu hal, Mimi.