No. Just… no.

odin

No.

Just… NO.

Odin cares about kids in his own way, but it’s definitely not in the “gentle father” type.

Think more Ra’as Al Ghul kicking a battered, burned out, and winded Bruce Wayne who can barely stand, screaming “DEATH DOES NOT WAIT FOR YOU TO BE READY! DEATH IS NOT CONSIDERATE OR FAIR!”

Odin doesn’t want “wretched survivalists”, he wants the very best for his army so he can win the field at Ragnarok.

Odin has no use for a scared kid who can’t hold a sword. Just… GRRRRRRRR.

Odin isn’t Jesus the Redeemer.

Odin is a tricky, hard-edged, mission-first god of blood, death, and winning wars, and occasionally he’s a god of wisdom when he isn’t engaged in the first three. He’s not here to babysit children. He’s here to lead men and gods.

I used to want to believe he’d consider my personal struggles a battle too, but no, he really does not give a single shit about that stuff. He doesn’t care about a soldier, he cares about the war, and therefore the army.

And things get so much easier when you finally realize that Odin is not a deity to turn to for compassion — we have Frigga and Freyja for that. Even Loki has more compassion, even if only for the spurned and outcasts among us.

There are gods who would do this sort of thing; Odin is nowhere CLOSE to being among them. He may be the All-Father, but he’s the harshest father you’re ever gonna meet.

End rant.

Sweet sugary corrosive goodness

I found this on Facebook today, and it honestly smacked me right in my complacency. I needed that.

I thought it only fitting that I pass it along.

You can’t domesticate a god.
As the pagan populace grows I see more of the same. Cutesy hearts and stick on stars. Purple ponies, pink ribbons and buckets of rainbow glitter.

Not long ago, our gods were wild and fearsome. Their hair tangled with lichen, their blood made of the fire in the hearts of ancient mountains. The seas would thrash and crush entire armies upon the jagged maws of old cliffs – just because they could, and the skies would unfurl white fire should one so much as disappoint them. They would just as soon rend you apart had you failed to appease them, as they would grant you favor for getting something right.

Today though.. today I see weakness. Folks think that our great and mighty goddesses can be honored by painted shadow boxes slathered in glitter and stick-on’s. Hello kitty adorns altar tops along side pink haired princesses and my little ponies. Quartz crystals are sung as cure-all’s when no actual effort is put forth to allay the syndrome. How can our gods not feel they’re being mocked with this absent minded approach that sparkles win everything?

Our gods, are not purity of light and all that is happy-go-lucky. They are not made of pure positivity who thinks your latest craft is just so spiffy! What is actually being done to honor them? What sacrifices are being given, when was the last time you gave them something that hurt to really let go of, that meant the world to you?

Hel, Hecate, Morrigan, Mab.. throw a stone and you will hit a goddess with a very dangerous dark side. All of them in fact. You worship the mother of the moon with the face of glinting white silver, yet neglect the fact that she has two, and the other is hidden in the blackness of space.

Do you think the gods who’ve had entire lands face a winters hunger to offer their gathered stores of food just for a hope to receive their blessing for a good harvest the next year, is impressed that you shared a cracker with cheese while your plate is fat and heavy with leftovers that you’ve ignored? Do you think they care about your plight when you do nothing to lift a finger to help yourself and you just dump it all in their lap?
Do you think they do not anger because you only believe in their light?
That’s like saying you’ll never hit a red light because only the green light will ever effect you.

Our gods are being ignored, dumbed down and taken for granted.
Rare are the few who devote themselves, who pray each day and are truly, whole heartedly thankful for the blessings they have each and every sunrise. Few are they who do the hard work and make the tough sacrifices, and so few are they who are respected by the gods they claim to worship. They don’t work for you because of your chirpy, cheerful little chant.
They want your pounding heart, your twisted guts, your rushing blood, your streaming tears, your torn screams and your salted sweat. They want your honor, your honesty and your pain induced effort.

You cannot placate the gods though trivial meaninglessness. They will never be your lap cat, to be held and cuddled.
They will not accept half-assery.
And they will never, ever be domesticated.

It’s true. Recently, I have felt like Lilith was not as… invested as I felt she has been in the past, and reading this, it’s become rather clear to me. I’ve been prioritizing how she makes me feel instead of doing her will.

Doing her will is admittedly extremely difficult as she rarely tells you anything, be it up front, clearly, or indeed at all. She seems to delight in leaving a trail of breadcrumbs around and watching me flail like a beached fish as I attempt to figure things out.

Small wonder then that I have almost completely stopped trying to figure things out. “It’s too tough” “It’s too complex” “Why don’t you just tell me what you want?!” I keep moaning. And in my frustration and anger, I stopped doing what she wanted. I stopped figuring things out.

I stopped working for her.

Yet I was still fixated on how she made me feel when I had accomplished something. I wanted a “lap cat” of a deity. Lilith is not that, nor will she ever be. Gods above and below, I don’t really ever want her to be that — how degrading it would be for such a strong and proud goddess!

But I’d fallen into a path of laziness, of paying lip service to beings mightier and wiser than I could ever possibly be; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never equal ONE of these magnificent deities, even when the king’s men exceed the number of grains of sand of the Earth.

In that time of lipservice, I grew to be physically lazy as well. I overate. I stopped exercising. I became soft, squishy, and portly; easily tired and overcome. In truth, this isn’t really directly linked — you can be fat and lazy and absolutely pious. But how we treat our gods is often a metaphor for how we treat life, and things which cause us to be lazy in one will often spread to the other. An infection of the soul, if you will.

I had been infected, and it took this wonderful, sobering writing to smack me in the face and make me aware of this debaucherous revelry I’ve been engaging in for years. Lilith doesn’t mind a spot of debauchery here and there — she’d even tell you it can be good for you when practiced in measure. Odin would likely tell you the same. In truth, most of the Old Gods would. But when you let it overcome you, and take over your life, it becomes corrosive to everything good about you.

You know what else is corrosive?

Sugar.

Holy Hel below, sugar is corrosive.

And a lot of modern day pagans don’t want to acknowledge that half of what defines the old gods is fire, blood, and strife. They want to see Odin as a wise man (and he is) who always makes perfect decisions (he definitely and categorically doesn’t) and never goes back on his word (spoiler alert: he does that a LOT). They want glitterdust and love-will-cure-all and friendship-wins-the-day and sugary sweetness.

But guess what? The world ain’t like that honey. The gods are very much of the world, not above or beyond it, and so they reflect this reality. Odin is wise, but he screws up occasionally or emotions will get the better of him. Thor is strong and brave, but it can cause arrogant overconfidence. Freya is sexually empowered, but it can still cause scandal. Even the god of Jesus the Christ acknowledges this central truth.

And other deities? Like Kali or Lilith? They often don’t have a sugary side. Lilith reserves that for family and those she’s called into her service.

But she doesn’t give sugar all the time; sugar in abundance corrodes, and so she reserves it in measure for those who actually serve.

Because good feelings in faith are rather like candy: you only think you want a diet of nothing but that.

In truth, it’s horribly bad for you.

A greater glory

*sigh*

Allmother Frigg on high, I really don’t understand why the Norse Pagan path found itself such a den of White Supremacists and anti-Semitic and anti-Christian asshats.

I will never revoke the (admittedly complicated and often hard to explain) path that I walk, regardless of the myriad undesirables I meet along it, but these people give the Northern faith a TERRIBLE name and reputation, and they seek to draw others into that action as well.

How can we lay claim to being a civilized faith in the modern world if our most vocal members spew just as much, if not more, irrational fear and hatred as those who oppose us? Doesn’t that sink us to their level? Why would anyone embrace the path of the Aesir and Vanir then, if all they see is bitterness towards ancient “enemies” and those who are unlike us?

Why should anyone become that which we struggle to be better than?

Lift up those who do you no dishonor– you will need them standing shoulder to shoulder and shield to shield with you on the eventual day when the Gjallahorn bellows. Cultivate allies and comrades, not enemies who would be glad to be rid of you.

And if any of you find someone who rails in hatred and dishonor against those who are weaker or different, let Frigg’s patience guide you instead of Odin’s wrath. Oppose their hatred gently but firmly, and if they should remain resolute in their honorless ways, cut them loose, and let the Norns care for their fate.

We do not carry swords and shields because we are defenseless, but because others are. We will stand against their enemies, and we will fight for those too scared and weak to fight for themselves.

We can be pitiless raiders to whom might makes right, or we can be honorable Thanes, and make our strength stand for a godly glory greater than our own.

Anything less, and we are a waste of the clay the gods shaped our ancestors from.

My problem

After writing last night’s blog, I had a little bit of an “oh crap” moment.

It has to do with the hereafter, which is not a topic I typically worry about.

But Freya and Odin both call those who die in battle to their halls, and I cannot serve in any sort of military capacity. There’s a whole host of issues with my body, from niggling issues like the arches on my feet, to massive insoluble ones like my severe scoliosis and need for prescription medication, which will prevent me from ever serving in the military. This alone makes me sad, as I have a familiy history in military service and it means I am unable to contribute to this proud legacy, but being unable to die in battle means I will never bear witness to the Valkyries bearing me to Odin or Freya’s halls as a warrior is destined to do.

And it makes me sad. While I would not mind Valhalla, I have a soft spot for Freya and her hall of Sessrumnir; I even confessed to her last night that it would be my choice of afterlife. But I also hold a small despair as the most available means to that hall are shut tight by the machinations of fate.

If my destiny is to join Freya after death, I will meet it by some other means, surely. But for the moment, I weep.

The greatest love I have ever felt has come from the gods.

I’m a pretty terminal bachelor for nearly a decade. Every person I show an interest in moves on shortly after or rebuffs the gesture entirely. It’s left me lonely and darker than I should be– which made me easy for Lilith to gain a hold on.

Yet the causes which compelled my attachment to Lilith remain, and at this rate, are unlikely to change in the forseeable future. I know that Frigg could tell me if something is bound to change for the better in my future, but she won’t. And that’s fine; I would not dare ask her to do something which goes against her nature, especially for something so petty as “will I ever marry and start a family?” But it makes things hard, the uncertainty of it all.

It’s only through figures like Lilith or Freya that I have recieved the sort of affection which gives a man’s heart his life’s joy, and so I find it understandable why I would wish Freya’s realm to be my hereafter.

What pains me is that the one route I am sure of is the one that is closed to me.

So I went to Church with my family yesterday

And while I still love the church community, I cannot bring myself to love their god. His presence was like… acid. It was like a toxin in my veins, and I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t think that anyone ever expects to reject a deity on a biological level. I felt closed off and isolated. Of course, we can factor in a social aspect here: being the only “godless” pagan in a roomful of some 50-60 Christians can have an effect, definitely. But this was more. This was a feeling of being “punished” for breaking oaths that were made under false pretenses. I had been a naïve child then, and when they told me there was only one choice, I had believed them.

And now their god punishes me for seeking a freer life. That’s how it feels, at least.

In the end, I had curled up in the back of the sanctuary and dove headlong into the Eddas, and repeating the names of Odin, Tyr, Thor, Frigga, Freya, and Heimdall like a mantra to stave off the oppressive air I had found myself in.

I have no idea what really happened, or if my subconscious was merely playing tricks on unseen expectations. It could even have been Loki picking a superb time to play a nasty trick on me– if so, well played, Loki. I promise I won’t take it personal.

I like to think one of those is the case; otherwise, I have another spiritual force out there who doesn’t seem too fond of me.

And yet, in spite of all that, I am not dissuaded.

I will continue to follow the gods I have rightfully chosen, the ones who saved me in a very special way. I owe them the loyalty of my choice. This isn’t a loyalty chosen when one god shoved all the others out of the room and said “pick your favorite god IN THIS ROOM!”

This was loyalty earned. They’d allowed themselves to be compared to the other gods I’d met, and I had chosen them based on their merits, not trickery or duplicity. They earned that.

I always get a shiver when I KNOW that some other being is watching me, lurking in the shadows of some plane I have yet to master, and I have such a shiver as I write this: a cold chill up and back down my spine. I think I know who it is (and there aren’t exactly a bounty of choices atm).

And yet still I say “Screw Him.”

He had his chance. He blew it. He must face the music, just as Lilith is.

I love my gods, and no one else’s.

Wisdom

I exist at the moment at an odd flux.

I dream, but rarely recall when I awaken, which was not so long ago a strange occurrence. I know that they are good dreams, or at the very least un-bad ones, as bad dreams leave a distinct sort of… I suppose “aftertaste” is the closest word to what I mean.

And while I don’t remember the dreams, I feel every morning that my goddess has been there, sometimes in a stronger capacity than others. Her touch is once again in everything, and I am inspired.

I keep telling myself her periods of silence are a test of devotion. So far, that’s what the evidence supports, but every time it happens, I question. I call. I reach.

I strain on a slender branch, reaching into a void I can never fully know, unsure of whether she will take my hand and help me fly from behind the dark veil, or some horrid beast will surge forth and attempt to make me into prey. Worse yet, I could stumble, and fall into the blackness. I have before. It’s not pleasant. It’s made me wary, but doubt is a great deal of what triggers such weakness. When I allowed doubt to rule me then, when I doubted my path, I fell. I relapsed into old christian habits for which I felt nothing at all, mostly because they had become a routine, and therefore comforting.

Color me slightly hypocritical then, given that I still do this, not by relapsing into Jesus-freak mode, but into Asatru mode.

But it’s not entirely hypocritical, and I will explain why.

When I relapsed into Christian mode, I was switching back to a religion I had no actual stock in: I’d wanted it to work for so long– but it was all investment with no return, or even signs that a return was due. Of course, one is always promised, but if promises bought dinner, no one would starve. By the time I’d reached the end, my faith had died and it was broken. Maybe the Christian God existed, but due to my “mark” as a child of Lilith, he clearly hadn’t wanted much to do with me. Initially, I’d been offended. I lashed out against an uncaring god and blah blah blah. You probably know how that works by now.

But when Lilith showed me the gods of Asgard, I had what amounted to a fall back plan. If ever Lilith left my presence for any reason, one of the Æsir or Vanir would catch me and keep me from falling into something which could only cause me to hurt myself.

Lilith still goes quiet on occasion; she’s very catlike in that regard. Everything is done on her terms in her own time. She doesn’t desire worship like other deities seem to, and she tolerates mine by understanding I really don’t have another way of actually expressing my love for her. She doesn’t behave like a worshiped deity because she has no desire to be such. To be worshiped is to be beholden to your worshipers, and she has always been freedom incarnate. So occasionally, she expresses that, and goes off somewhere for some mysterious end. I used to gripe about that, but I am finally starting to make my peace with it.

When she goes, I don’t torment myself like I used to. I don’t fall back on a religion I feel nothing for. I sit with my copy of the Eddas, look to Odin, and say “Tell me a story, All-father, that will make me a better man.”

And then he does. That’s not hypocrisy after all. That’s wisdom.

Not my camp, but it is

So I’ve been doing some thinking.

I’m a person of many varied aspects, tastes, and allegiances. I mentioned again recently that I had made my choice to separate myself from the Heathen path in favoring the Lilim path. Sometimes, I look back at Heathenism and sigh with regret. I do miss it. There are times that I even miss Methodism. There’s a sense of community that was there with both that the solitary path doesn’t offer me. It’s for that reason that I still cling to the greater heathen community even when I don’t identify with cause, and even when I want nothing more than to be part of such a community a lot of the time.

I don’t worship my ancestors, or even speak to them on a lot of occasions. By that right, I cannot call myself heathen and feel truthful. But I am, as I have always been, Lilin.

But there is a bright side, as with such things there always are. I will continue to read the Eddas and Sagas, because on many other levels, I have reasons to respect the gods of the Norse. In addition, they codify stories and morals which Lilith has rarely offered. She is a being of vagueries and riddles, and when I cannot get a straight answer on morals or values, the eddas fill the gap. On my own conclusions, I have come to believe in the Havamal as a general guideline for my whole life– until Lilith contradicts them, I follow Heimdall’s sacred laws as best I can, and bear in mind all that the Havamal has to offer me. I may not be a “true” heathen– accuse me of this and I would now agree– but it is still an important and indispensable resource to me.

It is not my camp, but it is.

My gripes with Thor 2: The Dark World (HEAVY SPOILERS!!)

Some people have an issue with the blond haired and blue eyed Thor as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth. I don’t. Some people have issues with the way Marvel flexed and altered Norse lore. I don’t. I have only three issues with Thor 2. There are huge spoilers in this piece, so if you haven’t seen the film, do that and come back and read this then. I can wait.

The first is the biggest. For the god who is supposedly the All-father, Odin makes some outrageously stupid calls. He orders Thor to take Jane back to Midgard, not considering that Thor, while young (for an Asgardian) and in love would not have brought her back at all unless he had very grave reasons for doing so. He holds to this position until a few guards DIE from an explosion of the eldritch horror she has come into contact with, and finally relents and admits Asgardian medicine is her best chance at survival. He then blows another call by completely discounting the possibility that even a single Dark Elf could have survived his father Bor’s purge. Bor is also shown as the previous King of Asgard, when in fact Asgard didn’t become a factor until Odin’s time, but that’s mythology nitpicking, and if I wanted to do that, we’d be here all day. Odin’s outright stupidity and pride costs him the deaths of countless souls in every realm, not just his own, and really proves he’s no longer fit to bear his throne. It also costs him his wife, Thor and Loki’s (step)mother, Frigga, who is tragically killed while protecting Jane Foster. Odin then fails to formulate any sort of meaningful plan to stop the Dark Elves, resorting to a plan of “we’ll just let them throw themselves at us until one side or the other runs out of soldiers”, a plan so outright stupid even Thor calls him out on how bad a plan it is, calling to mind the thrashing Asgard just received on the part of a HANDFUL of Dark Elves– and they’ve still got an army left to deploy if they don’t get what they want another way, and everybody but Odin seems to care rather a great deal about this. Never mind about, y’know, RAGNAROK and how you’ll need all the soldiers you can get for that down the line, Odin’s happy to waste them all here right now for no clear tactical advantage or long term purpose, the latter of which is supposed to be kind of what Odin is all about. Also he’s an asshole in the film, even when compared to the first movie.

My second gripe is shorter. Frigga should not have gone down as easily as she did. I get there’s plotlines and all to fulfill, but she’s the Allmother. She is second only to Odin, a match for his wisdom and probably his power too. She should not gone down in under a minute like she did. The funeral scene was BEAUTIFUL though.

Also, my last complaint is the Jane/Sif equation. This is the only time Odin shows his alleged wisdom in the whole movie. Thor is missing Jane, and Odin basically says “look son, she’s a nice girl and all, but she will be dead in 60 or so years, and you will live for thousands more beyond that. Look to someone who can give you long term comfort, like Sif, who is so obviously in love with you.” Worth noting that in Norse myth, Thor and Sif are married, later with children. But then Thor goes “waaaaaaaah I want Jaaaaaaane” and while his resulting plan to protect Asgard and save Jane is better thought out than Odin’s plan of running his soldiers into the Dark Elves until the Elves run out of arrows, Odin was right to accuse Thor of being reckless, and primarily for Jane’s sake as well.

In short, everyone but Loki and (ironically) Darcy has their fair share of time spent running with the idiot ball in one hand and scissors in the other.

It’s not a bad movie. Far from it, I’ve enjoyed it so much, better than any other film so far this year. But those three things just bug me, and they bug me a lot.

Go see Thor 2 no matter what though, if nothing else than for the Darcy and Loki plotlines. Also a Chris O’Dowd cameo.

It’s still one of 2013’s best offerings, and far better than Iron Man 3. Go forth and enjoy, readers! Gods bless!