Elders failing


John Remembrance1

My community tells me I am an elder now.  I guess the grey in the beard argues they have a point.  That being said, I am looking at the elders in our community and noticing we really aren’t living up to the reverence we get given.

How many of us have shared the memes about the kids of today being useless, or lacking coping skills, or in ten thousand ways being utterly without capability or worth compared to every generation that has gone before?

Um, no.

Like the myth about how great our music was, we had great music, and we remember the great music.  We try really hard to forget about the bad stuff, and the majority of it was terrible. Kind of like today actually.

We had a lot of really spectacularly useless people, a lot of people struggling to get by, a bunch more who didn’t seem…

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Sometimes Prayer Just Looks Like Prayer

I’m a little ashamed to admit I haven’t been as observant lately as I wish I were, and haven’t really taken the time to approach my altars longer than it takes to put on devotional jewelry before I leave the house.

And that does count as devotional behavior, because I almost always remember to do it, specifically with the idea that I am marking myself as a Heathen and carrying a reminder that what I do reflects on my gods and coreligionists. But it’s not the same as lingering by my altars and carving out time specifically for prayer.

I’ve allowed myself to get too sucked into the idea that indirect methods of devotion are equivalent to the direct, forgetting that these alternatives are alternatives, for when the direct isn’t an option. It’s good to gain knowledge in preparation for my oath, and for becoming ordained. It’s good to find ways to help marginalized and rejected people. It’s good to go into the various communities who consider me a member and try to be useful. These are all things that honor Loki. But they’re equivalent to sending a postcard when you’ve been meaning to visit. It’s not like I have to hide my faith from the people I live with, either. They think I’m a big ol’ nerd, but they’ve seen the good it’s done for me.

I had let the altar sit and collect dust, and recognized I needed to clean it. There was booze from Jol still sitting there. Altar cloths had to be shaken out. Cups had to be cleaned. I put it on my to-do list and watched that task migrate for several days in a row, being stupid and letting myself say I just didn’t feel like it, until a fly dove for my neck and I took it as a sign to get up and clean it. (That fly was…weird.)

The altar is dusted and the cloths are shaken out, and I lit apology candles, but that damn cup is still sitting on the dresser. It’s off the altar, but it still hasn’t been cleaned. What is my deal?

Aside from ADHD problems, probably fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of commitment and changing my mind. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of the consequences of lapsing, even though this is nowhere close to the first or worst time. (Remember that time I was incredibly stupid?) You’d think, 5 years in, I’d get used to this and get better at working past it.

I should give myself at least a little credit. I’ve gotten significantly better. Shadow work has done wonders for my anxiety. But I still let myself get roped into ridiculous trains of thought and tie myself in knots, acting like if I ignore the problem it will just go away.

(Stop trying to make that happen, me. It is never going to happen.)

I could do better. I should do better. An oath, especially one I offer, is not something I should keep making excuses about and prolonging. A date and time has been set to cut off any further excuses. The torc has been purchased and is sitting on the altar. I still have to work out the terms. This requires sitting down at the altar and having an actual conversation. Hopefully a looming time limit (eight weeks away) will get me in gear.

Loki can easily get by without me. He’s got plenty of other people to keep him busy when I’m not there. Ultimately, I just screw myself over when I don’t let myself relax and give in. But man, it’s rude. I’ve been rude. I’ve been playing a game with something bigger than me and an awful lot more clever. It’s foolishness. I have to get up off my tuchus and fix it.

I am gleefully busy!

I finally graduated from college, so I suddenly have a lot of free time on my hands and basically dove right into intense, self-directed study.

Got a snazzy little study binder and everything.

Since I have one part of Ursula Dronke’s Edda translation (I will have to dig for the other two parts, one copy is in a library in Philly so I’ll see if I can access it) I’ve decided to use it as the jumping point for my research. Dronke’s notes are incredibly thorough in explaining the cultural and mythological context of the poems. It is, predictably, really dense, but it’s great for taking notes from and I feel like I’m gaining a lot of new understanding from doing this.

I’m also learning a little bit of Old Norse in the hopes that I can someday, with further study, read and interpret the poems directly. Failing that, since Old Norse has a very flexible word order, I’ll probably try my hand at really simplistic skaldic poetry or writing rituals in Old Norse.

Old Norse also makes me really glad I’ve taken Latin and German, because Old Norse is absurdly inflective.

Imagine how much it would suck to be a nonbinary Viking.

After I’m done working through the Eddas, I’ll be moving to the Sagas and similar books for cultural context, and studying the Rune poems and looking into magical practices like Seiðr and Galdr. I’m planning on getting ordained through The Ásatrú Community and want to make sure all my bases are covered for their direct ordination option, basically.

This has also involved grabbing as many academic commentaries on Norse mythology, and the culture and language, as I can get my little pixelated hands on. (Which has resulted in a reading list that’s nearly 300 items long. Why do I do these things to myself?)

I have also found some promising kindreds to look into and get involved in, which should also help me cover the community involvement requirement. (I’m not sure how that’s proven, and a signed spreadsheet feels outré, but I’d rather not lie about it anyway.)

This has kept me from maintaining the blog as much as I had hoped, especially considering my plan was to track my journey/progress, but there’s a few drafts ready to go that I might publish soon. Not saying “watch this space,” just that I’m not dead. Not even remotely! I feel more alive than I have in a while. Actually sleeping will do that for you.

The Prisoner’s Cinema

Or, What Happens when You DIY a Sensory Deprivation Tank on Vacation After You’ve Been Studying the Völuspá.

I think of the prisoners cinema
Bound gods
Bound sons
And Plato’s cave
I watch the wolf chase the northern lights
And I am silent

I see a locket on linden branch
Heart shaped
A payment lost
The glimmer and thunder of hammered shields
But all is silent