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.