Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking Back

With Yule coming up, I've taken a bit of a hiatus from doing as many Youtube videos and blog posts. I've been working with the tribe to get everything together. This weekend, we're going to eat well, honor each other, our families, ancestors, and Gods.

This point in the year, it's time to look back at the last twelve months, and look at what's been accomplished, and also learn from failure.

I can only speak for myself, but this has been a year that's made me mature more, not just as a Heathen, but as a man. I made an oath last year that I would do what I could to help build a larger Heathen community in this state. I feel like WV, at this point, has much potential now as far as a Heathen community goes. It's been getting more active as of late, and I'm really happy to see that.

When Ulv Hamre formed, it was just Frank and myself. We had an idea of structure from the beginning, and that first copy of the handbook was put out in a Facebook group that we ran for us. I had known Terra from mutual connections and brought up to her what we were starting. I didn't know how exactly she would react to it, but she was receptive, and we went from there, picking up Stevan and Jeff.

Over the last six months, we've gained and lost, went through drama (as expected, unfortunately, when you deal with many people), had folks try to take our members out from under us, hosted an event, networked, and tried to do what we could to help the community. As a group, right now, we've never been stronger. Everyone has a job that they do within the tribe, and they do all do their jobs well. We work together, and in our personal lives, we've gotten to be great friends.

As a man, I've gone from being ready to fight at the drop of a hat, to being smarter, and overall more patient. I don't rush into a fight, but I don't back away from the struggle at all. I think more in the way of, "How does this effect my tribe and family?"...I've learned that in conflict, the best way to handle some situations, is just to merely ignore and move on. Sometimes the quieter route is more effective than the more physical or the loudest way of doing things. The idea is that, "if you give someone enough rope, they'll hang themselves."...I don't like drama and bullshit, so this works better at times.

With all of the highs and lows, I couldn't be more proud of my tribe. They've stuck by what we stand for, regardless of the situation. I've always been used to putting my head down and running head first into whatever problems arise, and just making it out on the other side, by myself. It's a whole other feeling when  you've got a group behind you, that look at you and say, "Well, we'll get through this too."

That, to me, is Heathenry, or at least our brand of it. That word has a lot of different meanings to different people these days. Mine goes along more of a tribal definition. It's a way of life that centers around family and our innegard. The idea that you're ready to weather whatever situation, and come out the other side together, dusting yourself off, and holding your tattered banner up high, is one that's important to me.

So the last twelve months have been great, honestly. It's been a learning experience, and I've met a lot of great people. The next twelve, I'm hoping we see more growth locally, as well as beyond.

With that said, videos will go up regularly after the new year. The newsletter is bi-monthly now, to fit in more content. A calendar of events will be put out for the year at some point, as well.

Hope you guys have a safe and merry Yule.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Working in our Living Communities

When I've read books over the years, "Community" usually refers to the Heathen community. When I talk about the "living community", I'm talking about our communities that...well...we live in. Why do I put so much importance on living community, when my focus should be Heathen? It's simple, really.

It's because my family lives here, and my tribe lives in this region. When I invite folks from out of state to visit, or I invite my tribe over, I want to make sure that they're not worrying about anything. Where I'm originally from, in the coal fields of southern West Virginia, it's a dangerous place. You constantly have to worry about people stealing your stuff, just about everyone has a gun, but not for defense, there's drugs everywhere, and as Robert Taylor put it the first time he met me, "I've never heard of that it one of those places where people just disappear?"

I've had friends killed there, and the cops would come and take crime scene photos, and leave again. Rarely did they ever come down my way. So, when we got flooded and had no choice but to move the family to my uncle's about an hour and something away, I figured we'd get looted. It wasn't from strangers was from people I grew up with and knew well. With just my mom and myself working on two houses, we couldn't just get everything out all at once. So, it happened pretty fast when they started. So, you grow up with the mentality that if something happens, I don't call anyone (because who can you trust to take of the bad stuff in a place where no one cares?), and I just take care of it myself, and fix the situation.

That's what I think we should strive to do in a lot of ways. Especially with taking care of our living communities. We spend a lot of time talking about taking care of our own, but we don't. Our Verterns, elderly, and children tend to be left in societies ditch, so that some super church can send a bunch of upper class hipsters to a country in South America to build churches and spread the word of their god. We spend a lot of time talking about taking care of our own....when did the meaning of that change?

So, the idea is that my family is in this living community, and my tribe is in neighboring areas in the region. So, to give back to my family/tribe, or to try to make my community a good place for my family and tribe to flourish, then I need to take care of my community and be active. This gives back to the living communities, and our folk that live in those communities.

Many Heathens already do some form of charity work, either through animal shelters, homeless shelters, volunteering with cleaning the area, donating, etc. There's numerous ways to help. For me personally, I've tried to talk to folks when I go out, and get a feel for what's going on in the area. Something as small as me helping a little elderly couple with their groceries, can open a door to them coming to me if they see me out and need help. Making connections with folks is also a great way to get the facts out about Heathenry, not by fanatical preaching, but by showing that you're not some nut that the media usually shows.Showing that you're a good person, and that you're willing to help, is a good start for not just you and the other folks involved, but for Heathenry, as it opens a line of communication.

Other things you can do in the way of donating:
  • If you get another deer, and have more meat than you need, then you can donate the meat to a local homeless shelter. There's places that will fix it up for you, so that you don't have to.
  • You can donate to food and toy drives.
  • In Spring, you can attend these clearance sales, and stock up on coats, hats, gloves, etc... By next year, around October, you can donate those. Sometimes the State Police will take them, other times, you may be able to get a hold of a local place, or group, to give them out. If you're wanting to do more, you can host an event to gather up more things and donate.
  • You can stock up on school supplies (often times you can go to the dollar store and get a lot of stuff, and during those clearance sales, you can sometimes find backpacks for cheap), and donate those in July or August. 
  • You can donate your time with hospitals, shelters, etc...
 Our living communities are important to our folk, because it's what surrounds our folk. We want our kin and kith to be safe and healthy. These are just a few ways that can help with the environment we're in.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Brand of Heathenry

When you do anything, you're going to get criticism. I've always expected that. So, when I find out that there have been some comments...some to me...some behind my back, about what I'm doing in Heathenry, then I feel like I should clarify some things.

For starters, I don't practice Heathenry as a hobby. It's apart of me. So when it comes to being productive, or working hard towards something, it's because I believe in what I'm working on. When I'm networking folks, or I'm answering questions, or referring people to sources and groups, it's because I believe that it has potential to help the future of our folk. I could never look at this as something I do once a month.

Second, I want to get away from the personal politics that people throw into Heathenry. People will use their religion as a way to justify their social or political bias. We see it with just about every religion out there. So, when you have a lot of folks starting "debates", causing various disturbances,'re going to have new folks coming in and picking up on that, and it will perpetuate the misinformation and personal bias, and often times, people just run with the information they pick up on when they first come into something like Heathenry.

I also don't agree with being easy on folks if they've done something they shouldn't. Point blank, coddling doesn't help anyone. What usually happens to folks who get babied growing up? They usually lack structure, or understanding. There's nothing wrong with being stern with someone. For me, I like to actually talk with people, and try to make sure there's an understanding.

Oaths are important, and I don't take those lightly. So, I don't agree with just freely oathing, especially in a group.

I don't believe in Heathenry as a social club. 

I believe in going back to the basics of ceremony, without mixing new age stuff in it.

I believe in promoting Heathenry, instead of promoting other faiths and paths

I believe in aligning myself with folks who have the same goals.

More than all of these things, I believe in being true and loyal to my kin and kith.

Overall, this is where I am, and I'm happy to be here. Criticism is expected, and honestly, there's no problem with it. Is it going to stop me from doing what I have been this whole time? No, it's not. I've noticed that I'm not the only one who feels like our faith is polluted with people who aren't dedicated, who don't care about their folk, who look at our faith like it's a game and a reason to play Viking, and who look at kindred/tribe structure like it's a fraternity/sorority. We're getting back to basics and learning about our cultural heritages, getting out in the world and meeting other folks, instead of staying behind a keyboard, and creating stories from our experiences and hard work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Long Way Around

I've always been stubborn, and it's always been said that it's a true family trait. I come from an old style Appalachian family from the coalfields of West Virginia. Great Grandpa had a bull and a feed store that still stood (and in some form, still stands), when I was a kid. It used to be said that you had to cross the field where Great Grandpa had his bull, to get to the houses from the bus stop, and so the kids would have to hop the fence and run for dear life. So, Great Grandpa would stand outside with a stick, and when the kids would get ready to run through, that bull would start huffin' and beating the ground with it's hoof. Great Grandpa would haul off and smack that bull in the face with that stick. The bull would calm down. It was also said, that the bull was exactly like Great Grandpa as far as personality goes.

I remember, I used to sit on the feed store's steps with my little glass bottle of Coke and a bag of chips, just as my Papaw and my Mom once did. Papaw was a military man, desperate to get away from the coalfields. In some twist of irony, Papaw ended up coming back to the same holler (yes, I know it's actually "hollow", but I type like I talk), and even after we flooded a few years back, he, due to his stubbornness, went back for a few months this past year, and eventually got too sick to take care of himself. He passed away February 13th of this year. His legacy that he left behind in the community is a man who had a filthy mouth, did whatever he wanted, drove too fast on small roads, but then would drive 30 miles under the speed limit on the highway. He was also known as one of the best butchers around, because as the newspaper put it,  "Our butcher was special. It was said he could cut part of his finger off, wrap it quickly, and never get a drop of his blood in the hamburger he was grinding fresh for someone. Sadly, OUR BUTCHER (Don Moore) passed within the past month at about 80. His legacy as the company store butcher with the friendly smile lives on"...He really did cut off his finger as a butcher.

 Papaw and Great Grandpa

My mom, of course, is also stubborn. She grew up a fighter. Essentially beating the living shit out of anyone that deserved it. She once grabbed a boy off a bike when she was a kid, and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him in the middle of the road, because he called her fat. She's never had it easy, and despite the hard times, she's never given up. With her family in mind, she went to school and became an RN and raised both myself and my brother, and then proceeded to help raise my nephews. Now, she is diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiform, which is a brain tumor for those that don't know. She was given 9 months to live...that, however, was about 18 months ago. She continues to fight.


So, it was only natural that I would inherit this as well. For better, or for worse, I was a member of this family, which means I get the good and the bad. Overall, it's both helped and hurt me over the years. Primarily in the respect that I have always seemed to walk my own path. I've always, either by meaning to, or not, taken the rougher road. I've never fully understood it. I've just always taken the longer way around. It's just seemed like the natural thing to do. More than that, it's always seemed to served my folk well in the end.

When I was younger, I don't think I fully understood the importance taking things this way. Why would anyone really ever want to take the hard road? Normally, in today's society, it's promoted that we do things an easier way. My response to taking the easy route is simply that it's not always better. Have you ever wondered why we have that easy way available to us? It's because someone took that hard way first. In the midst of all the overgrowth, holes, and predators, they've put themselves through it, and often times, not for just themselves, but for others to come after.

This is what I've learned from my family. My Papaw cut his finger off, and went right back to work, because it was the right thing to do for his family. My mom struggled in school, just so she could graduate and give us a better life than what we had. As far as my Great Grandpa...well...he was just Great Grandpa. Stubborn and tough. There's many lessons to learn from that. In conclusion, sometimes going the long way around, makes you stronger and wiser, and hopefully you come out at your destination with a story despite the scars and hope despite the bruises. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Let Them Hate...

"Oderint dum metuant" was a favorite saying of Caligula. It essentially means, "Let them hate, so long as they fear." It's also one of my favorite sayings. So much so, that I have it tattooed on my chest around my Mjolnir tattoo that I did when I first decided to dedicate myself to Heathenry.

I understood when you go against the grain of what is considered "correct" by the majority, that you're going to get folks that hate you. Not because of who you are, and not necessarily for what you stand for. They hate you for the assumptions that they* make. They hate you, a majority of the time, from false ideas that they've created in their head automatically.

So, it's no surprise that I got opposition when I first came to Heathenry. I still get it today. The interesting thing about the disrespect I get today, though, is that most of it comes from the "Heathen" scene. Does it annoy me? Sometimes it does. There's nothing more frustrating than someone twisting words around, and coming up with bullshit ideas that they use to justify their distorted reality. It does get frustrating to have people just assume things. 

At the same time, these types often never do anything with their lives. They sit behind a keyboard and type up some junk, in an attempt to feed their egos through debate and mockery. It's never a face to face issue. Normally, if there is face to face contact, they're the type to smile to your face if they see you out. 

I understand that considering myself as a Tribalist and a Folkish Heathen is unpopular among today's politically correct society and in Heathenry. No matter how much I work to unify folks in the name of our way of life and try to forward our culture and traditions, promote learning when it comes to history and archaeology, or anything of that nature, I'm going to have an asterisk by my name. I'm always going to have some guy that spends 90% of his time in facebook groups, shit talking. I'm going to get shit talked in the local Eclectic Pagan groups for being a "snob" about who I let in my innangard. I'm going to get called fluffy because I don't argue with the "intellectual" groups. 

I understood all of this from the first time I picked up my first book on Asatru and started reading. The mental state I'm in at the moment, however is pretty clear. I'm going to do what I do, regardless. I'm not going to be like some of these folk who straddle the fence and switch sides depending on who they're talking to. I don't view my faith and my lifestyle as something that can or should be easily swapped. 

It's important to have that mentality when you're going against the popular views. Views that state that it's okay to make our folkway a universal religion for anyone to come in and bastardize by adding whatever they want to it. Views that say it's okay to window shop for a religion, because it's all about fashion. Views that say it's okay to sit on your ass and never do anything to ensure a future for Heathenry. A fucking debate on a forum doesn't make you a warrior. You won't go to Valhalla for it.

When we find opposition, we should move along, regardless. Those of us who care enough to work towards a future for our faith and our way of life need to be strong and carry the burden. In five years, we'll still be standing, while everyone else is still sitting on their computers with the same tired arguments. 

This is an exciting time for Heathenry. For newcomers, coming in and seeing the strength that we speak of is important. To hold your convictions and carry them through everything bad that can be thrown at you, and to come out the other side still holding them is essential to our survival. 

People fear things they can't control. When someone maliciously mocks you and tries to debate you, they are trying to control you. Don't let them. When it comes to criticism, always remember that phrase. Let them hate, so long as they fear. If they can't control you, they have no power. Stand your ground and always push forward. This is your saga, and you're the one that decides how it's going to go. It's best to leave behind something worth talking about long after your gone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remembering Erik the Red

Today we remember Erik the Red. 

Many of us today will reflect on his loyalty to the Old Ways. It was said that once his wife became a Christian, she refused to sleep with him. His loyalty to Thor and the Old Gods is something that we should look at. However, we should also take into account his loyalty to his family. Despite not liking Christianity, he remained loyal to his kin, even after they converted. 

One of the things that many new Heathens seem to have a problem with, is honoring ancestors and family who aren't Heathen. One thing I think we can take away from today is that, even when we disagree with our kin, it's important to remain loyal to them. At the same time, we should stand our ground and stay loyal to our ways. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Our Code

Over the years, I've seen an increasing number of folks who disagree with having the NNV (Nine Noble Virtues for those who may be new to the faith) in Heathenry. There are so many debates back and forth about the topic, that it can get ridiculous. People will spend more time complaining about the NNV being the Heathen's 10 Commandments, than anything else. I've always looked at them as a code of ethics to live by. That's just it. It's something to strive for in our daily lives to help us form and maintain relationships and bonds with our folk. However, I've always felt that for our tribe, we needed more than that. We needed our own code that fit who we are and our view of things.

Codes are great to have. they help us stay on the right path to achieve our goals, and they remind us of what we're about. A problem in Heathenry comes from lack of direction and goals.  This becomes a problem especially for new Heathens. Some come in looking for that structure, and are only met with chaos. They look for guidance, but are met with someone telling them to find their own way around, and then they get mocked when they do.

The fact is, we need goals. Not only for those who have been here, but for those who will come. We need structure to carry out those goals. We need organization and vision. For us, that's what our code is about. 

Given, while our tribe's code may not be looked well upon by everyone, it works for us and describes how we try to carry ourselves and live

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our* Community

When I started looking for a religion that I could call my own, it was difficult. First, I was lucky. I never had Christianity pushed on me. I came from a lower middle-class single parent household, and grew up in an old coal camp.The place I grew up in had more churches than schools. It was natural, then, that Christianity would become part of my life. I went to church on my own and made the decision to become a Christian on my own. That church, however, decided that I wasn't their type. They stopped picking me up for church, eventually. The reasons were generally unclear. One of the things that kept coming up, however, was how I was dressed. I only owned 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts, and none of them were up to the standards of the church. So, at the age of 12, they drove by my house on the church bus, slowed down, looked at me and waved as I stood by the road waiting, and then sped off. They did this for weeks, until I finally gave up, and just never left my house.

I didn't do religion for awhile. I focused on other things. Eventually, I decided I would look further to see what I could find. It was 2003, and I had left high school. I felt the need to deprogram myself, before taking on the next chapter of my life. I spent the next two years, locked in a room. Only leaving the house once every few weeks. In that time, I did a lot of reading. I took up painting and drawing with charcoal. I worked on my confidence, and at the same time, struggled through one of the most violent and self-destructive cycles of my life. If I wanted to truly break myself to start fresh, this was the perfect time. In the end, I came out stronger and with an idea of who I was and where I wanted to go.

During that time, I had gone to a store with one of my best friends. The store had one of those 50 cent machines with necklaces in it. He ended up getting me one. Turns out, it was a rune necklace...Raido (This makes sense as I look back on this) to be exact. I went home that evening and looked up the meaning. The site that I got the meaning off of was a site about Wicca. As I looked through the website, it seemed interesting enough. I proceeded to go through the site, reading everything I could. After months of studying, I finally settled on calling myself a Wiccan. This, however, didn't last.Over the course of the year that I considered myself a Wiccan, I found that a sense of community was lacking. It was about "Me" rather than, "We". There was also a lot of drama. While I did find some very nice solitary types (who were solitary due to the drama), I wanted a community. 

Over the coming years, I would study constantly. I considered myself a general Pagan throughout my time in college. I studied everything from the works of Aleister Crowley to Vodun. I eventually, ran into Heathenry after a friend had been looking things up on ethnic religions. From there, I purchased Living Asatru by Greg Shetler. After that, I was hooked. This finally felt like home to me. It's been my home ever since. During those first stages, I met someone who is still a good friend (ironically, we know a lot of the same folks, but hadn't met until that point), and I remember we got to talking about how I didn't feel like I converted, and this was just who I was. He told me, "That's the great thing about our faith. You don't just are." This is something I've repeated to others countless times since (Thanks, Kraft), because it's the truth. This is who we are. 

When I decided to look into finding others locally, I was warned that WV was kind of a wasteland. That is correct, to an extent (at least at this time). You may have a group, but they may be going out of state and over the border to meet with folks. If there were Heathens or groups, there would also be a lot of distance between.

 The Christians had their community....Pagans had theirs....Every religion seemed to have their own community with their own borders (even if they pretended they didn't exist). I could not, however, find an actual strict Heathen community. I didn't give up, despite the years it took for me to get into contact with others on the same path, looking for the same things.

Now, looking back on it, it's as if the Gods have been on our side this whole time. Things have fallen into place that puts us on the brink of having our own community. It makes me happy to think that within the next few years, we may see multiple tribes/kindreds appear in the area. This is what we've needed for a long time. We have folks who go to other religions and paths, because they can't find other Heathens. I'm hoping that we can change that. Don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing other religions and paths. If we want to label ourselves Heathens, however, then we should have our own community, with other Heathens. Having borders is just a part of having structure, and as common sense would tell us, if you're building something, you must have a good structure, or else whatever you build, will fall. 

We need to educate, be active, and even learn to work with and around other religions. At the same time, it's very important to keep our own identity. We are Heathens. If everyone else has their own communities with their own laws and their own restrictions, then we should too, just to be fair about it. The easy way to say this is, our religion isn't other religions, so we shouldn't treat it like it is. This way of thinking gives folks who are just coming into this way of life a solid foundation. This gives folks a place to come to, and confidence in what they're doing. We have to promote Heathenry, not other religions, if we wish to see a future for it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Obsession with Valhalla

If you've watched my Youtube Channel, then you've probably seen the video I did about Valhalla. The reason I did that video originally, was due to the amount of folks I had ran across who were arguing over specifics of who gets in, and who doesn't. You have some folks who don't believe anyone gets into Valhalla these days, others believe that anyone can go to Valhalla, and see it as Heaven, and then others believe that only soldiers get in. Often times, they take Freyja out of the picture, and various other places that a person may go when they die.

The problem with this obsession is, that it's still a Christian road that many of these people are taking. Folks put so much importance on Valhalla, and proving they're a "warrior", either by pumping iron, or by typing furiously in an online debate, that they forget what it is to live as a Heathen.

I often say this, and if you've been in a conversation with me, then you know what I'm about to say...Our ancestors were probably more worried about leaving behind a legacy, than Valhalla. When someone leaves us, and we speak of their adventures and experiences, then we're keeping them alive. They, in some form, become immortal. Their stories and actions and ideas still have the power to inspire.

Have you ever heard a story about, maybe, a grandparent, for example? Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wish I could do that!", when you heard about something great that they had done? Maybe it inspired you to do something. Maybe it made you look at things a different way. And if you did something, that was influenced by your new view on things, or sudden need to have a story of your own, then congratulations. You've been influenced by the past. This is what we need to be more worried about.

When we do things in this life, we should want to have a story of our own. We should strive to have our stories told. We should leave such a mark, that we inspire generations, long after we're gone. The debate about Valhalla takes away from what really matters in this life. When I heard awhile back, that someone had said that we're not living in the sagas, I understood what they meant. I've heard this from a few folks, and I get it. At the same time, this is my saga. If you're not going to do anything, besides sit around and read a book, and become cynical, then that's going to be a saga that won't get too far.

We need to take action and look at our religion as a lifestyle, rather than something we do one weekend a month. You shouldn't worry about Valhalla, because you feel the need to prove to everyone that "you're a warrior". In worrying and debating, you lose precious time that you could be using to do something great. Whatever just happens. Leave something behind worth talking about. Something that will inspire the next generation to not be lazy and find their own stories.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rediscovering the Importance of Family

Myself, mom, my uncle, and my two nephews. 2013

Since I can remember, I have always been told that in the end, all we have is our clan. Friends come and go, but family is forever, like it or not. This includes the members that just call your house to gossip. Those are the ones you're really stuck with.
In today's society, we see the value of family going down. We see the value of one's self rising. It seems like it's all about self-interest anymore. Even with religion, we see a lot of the use of, "I" instead of "We". It's all about self-discovery. Self-discovery is great. Don't get me wrong on that. However, there needs to be a balance of self and family, and your self should fit into that family. Nourishing your family, with that in mind, should help you nourish yourself.
                                                  Mom with a picture of my brother. 2014

An unfortunate problem we have in today's society, is that we just don't take care of each other. Kids can't wait to leave their homes, and parent's can't wait to get the kids out of their hair. Then, the parent's will complain about how the kids never come to see them. It's an endless cycle, and the blame rests on our own shoulders. I'm amazed at how many people are surprised that I'm my mother's son, when I take her to the cancer center. People always say to my mother, "You're very lucky to have him for a son. He takes good care of you." While we do like to hear that folks still respect family still, it's terrible that it's looked at as something special. Shouldn't we do this for our family anyways?

Myself and my brother.
When my brother got to where he couldn't move around great, when his brain tumor came back, my uncles and mom took care of him. Mom was right beside of him when he passed. My uncles and mom took care of my great aunt as well. My papaw was another one that was taken care of. At this very moment, I'm staying up to take care of my mother, who just had chemo today, and is running a temperature. Doing all of this wasn't because anyone wanted recognition. We've never been the types to worry much about what people think of us. It was simply, because it had to be done. It's a matter of doing something that you should be doing in the first place.
I can understand folks not getting along with their families. At some point, however, that chain needs to break. We need to get back to that family mentality. Even when we have differences, or get mad at one another, we need to stand together to face the world. That's what I was looking for when we first got Ulv Hamre together. I wanted a family atmosphere that we could bring our actual families into, and look at each other, although some not blood related, as one big family. So far, so good.
Living life alone and looking out for yourself, can take you far, if done carefully. But a life surrounded by family...some that you've picked up along the way, and some by blood, makes life worth it. You celebrate the ups and downs. You pick each other up. You laugh, cry, and stand together. In honoring that family mentality, I believe you truly honor your ancestors.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I was a little boy, when I realized the slight differences in the scent of weather. It sounds funny to talk about it like that, but it’s the only way I can describe it. I remember standing outside in the yard, no more than eight years old, barefoot, and watching the rain come over the mountain, and into the valley. I remember that smell. Even though I was only a small child, I was almost immediately able to distinguish the difference in scents between seasons and weather. Spring rain smells different, of course, than autumn rain. This comes in handy, especially if you work outside.

Over the years, I have been made fun of for saying that you can smell a storm coming. Often times, it’s been written off as false information, told by the simple minded. I’ve even recently watched a show about weather, where the “science experts” dismissed the idea of predicting weather through senses. They laughed at the idea that any person, or animal, could predict such a thing. The last few years, however, there have been articles published that talk about how it is, in fact, true. You can, indeed, smell a storm coming. 

How does this relate to growing up in Appalachia specifically, or Heathenry for that matter? The answer is simple. Over the generations, we have forgotten what it is to feel. In Heathenry, we read our books, study our lore, argue science, and forget what it is to survive. We spend so much time talking about ancestors, but we don’t remember what it was that helped them survive. For as complex as Heathenry is, it’s really not. That’s what makes it complex. It’s difficult for those who have a modern mind to understand. 

Simply put, Heathenry is who we are. To understand ourselves is to understand Heathenry. It’s a part of our ancestors and culture. The reason that story sticks with me, is because looking back on it, it’s a lesson. We don’t always have to have books to tell us what we feel or who we are. Looking in the mirror and seeing your ancestors looking back can give you as much inspiration and guidance as any book. It’s a ritual I perform every day. 

So, why is it so hard for folks to grasp the idea of looking inside themselves and using intuition and observation to live their lives? That can be a little complicated. We live in a society that is all about right now. Instant gratification, while sometimes useful, has gained so much control of our daily lives. Many folks can’t seem to get into the idea that sometimes, things just take time. Looking into yourself and observing nature, and putting that with what you observe about your own survival instincts, is too much work. Looking it up online, reading it in a book, or asking someone on a forum has become the primary ways of learning.

Books are great, and talking to other folks on forums can be extremely helpful. Don’t get me wrong about that. However, sometimes you just have to take a week and sit outside for a few hours. Breathe in the air, watch animal behavior, look at the trees and sky, and take notes if you have to. Everything from what you’re smelling, to how the breeze makes you feel. Once you do that, look back and compare at your week. Did you find that the leaves on the trees turned over? Did you notice how the birds were behaving?

I’m sure some people reading this may be wondering what I’m getting at. I’d almost bet that someone is angrily reading on, looking for how this fits in with Vikings and Odin. The fact is, it has everything to do with our ancestors and our Gods. It’s something that seems lost in the age of digital self-serving instant gratification. In essence, we are that something, and we are lost. 

Science can tell us only so much, as can any book. At some point, we have to make decisions based on our own instinct. Not to be confused with a decision based on something we’ve read about. Rather, a decision based on circumstance and personal placement in the specific situation. Getting back to our roots as humans and as a folk, comes from more than just academics. You have to also live it.

Although intuition may not be recognized by more science minded folk as a legitimate way of practicing Heathenry, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less true to who we are. We have to balance academics with intuition. With academics, we can learn a world view through history, archaeology, and other information. With intuition, we can live the world view through how we make decisions, react to situations, and practice our faith accordingly. 

In the end, we need to step away from this outside information, and look in ourselves. Do we constantly have to be looking for others to approve? When I started work on building a Kindred, I had talked to one of my best friend’s. At the time, I had been exposed to a lot of opinions on Heathenry via the internet, as well as a lot of bickering due to those opinions. The one thing we talked about and agreed upon, was that we weren’t going to let someone tell us how we can, or can’t do things. We were going to balance what we knew with how we felt. If it fit the world view, which comes natural as it’s a part of who we are and where we come from already, we were going to do it. For us, it’s about balance, adaptation, and understanding ourselves and our ancestors.

            Sometimes, we just have to get away from the internet and television, and go work in the garden, take a walk, or just sit for a while and think. Your faith isn’t just words in a book. Your faith is who you are. It’s time to apply that knowledge to your everyday life.