Contemplating Naudiz

On November 4, 2019 my daily rune draw was Naudiz, reversed. The message I was given is:

“Today think about how necessity has shaped your life. Was there a time when you did something because you absolutely had to? Also, think of times you came to endings in your life because you were blocked or restricted.

What have you learned about limitations and necessity from these experiences? How can you use that wisdom now?”

Let me start this by saying that everything I do, and have done, is by choice. Before you start with the whataboutisms, I will acquiesce to the inability of children to truly make choices. There are two things that a person has no choice in – birth and death. Aside from things everything is a choice. I have not always seen the choice in the matter and some choices are made based on not wanting the alternative more than not wanting the choice I make, but the choice is mine none the less. For example, I go to work because I do not want the life that I would have if I did not get the rewards from choosing to work. I want to provide for myself and my family. I have not always made the best choices in this aspect of my life, but I have made the best of the choices I have made.

Some choices I have made without understanding the consequences until much later. Some choices were made without even considering the consequences – like those made in anger. The choice was still made, and it absolutely was a choice. Choices are not always made consciously, though it is typically better when they are. Understanding that I always have two choices in every situation is empowering. The two choices are always between doing or not doing something. There are elements that determine which is the right choice, but I must remember that all situations can be broken down to one of those two choices. It is also important to not get discouraged when I do make a wrong choice. Choices can only be made by considering the available information, the known factors of any situation.

Choices in life are finite. There is only a certain amount of choices I will be have my lifetime. The Norns weave the fabric and the choices are presented. Once a choice is made it can not be unmade and all the options for that choice are also consumed. There is not a possible way to go back and make the other choices again. There may come a time when a similar choice will be presented, but it is not the same as it was the first time.

There will come a day when the choices run out; when I make my last choice. That day, place, and time is set. It cannot be changed; it is not a choice I can make or even affect. Well, that is not exactly true. I can affect the day/place/time my life ends by the choices I make through out my life. There is a number of possible ends but with each choice I make the possible endings are eliminated until only one remains.

So, life is pointless and there is no purpose, right? Wrong. The purpose of life in this realm, this existence, is to increase our hamingja, our ancestral luck or fortune. I can not not live my values. Whatever I do, what I spend time on, are my values. What I can choose is what those values are. I can define the values I want to live.

I have never done anything out of necessity, though some choices I have made have been necessary.

Honor

“Respect is what you give to others. Honor is what you give to yourself” – Being Caballero

 

Respect is for others, but it is also for yourself. Honor is respecting yourself; showing yourself respect by living your values. Honor is also how we respect those who gave us what we have – life. We respect the ancestors by living with honor.

Honor can be very subjective and can be defined in so many ways. Not everyone will see honor in my way, nor will I see honor is the same way as others. Honor is an internally regulated code of behavior. We are judged by the accepted code the culture or society that we live in. Reputation is how those around us measure their opinion of our honor. We have little control of our reputation; we can only control how we live. If we live with honor our reputation should take care of itself.

That said, if my reputation is not something I am proud of I need to step back and re-access my behavior. Do I live my honor code? Are my values inline with societal values? Are societal values worthy of my adopting? If the societal values I am being judged by are not worthy of my adopting, then I need to understand this and live my truth. I do not need to worry about those values. If the values I am judged by are worthy and I am not proud of my reputation in that culture there are three reasons; three things that I can look at.

  • I am not living or behaving honorably
  • Someone is intentionally trying to harm my reputation
  • I am using the incorrect metric to measure my honor

There is little I can do about someone intentionally trying to harm my reputation. I can not control what they do. I can only live my truth and behave with honor. If my reputation is not repaired or sustained by my living my truth, then I am likely not living within the correct culture. That is something I can control. I can change the culture I am living in. I can do this by either influencing a change in the surrounding culture or removing myself to a place where the culture is more in line with my truth.

Hospitality and Frith

Hospitality and Frith9NV - Self Reliance

For the month of July, I posted daily on the topic of the Nine Noble Virtue of Hospitality in the TAC regional Facebook group dedicated to the South-Central Region. Some of you may know, but most of you probably do not, that I am the regional Lead Ambassador for the South-Central Region of The Asatru Community. TAC is a non-profit, international organization that supports a grass root movement to build Heathen communities all over the globe. We are dedicated to educating on and promoting the religion and lifestyle based on the belief system of the ancient Germanic people. That is really a whole other post.

While making these posts, and my subsequent studies on the subject, I had a slight paradigm shift. I had once believed that Frith and Hospitality were interchangeable. I discovered how wrong I was. Though they are interrelated, they are not interchangeable. We all know what hospitality means, or at least the concept of hospitality. In the ancient times there was a different understanding of hospitality. The host had a responsibility to provide shelter, food and protection. Hotels were not a thing and inns were very rare and far apart. Travelers relied on the generosity of the homesteads they came upon for respite from the weather. The host was obligated to offer hospitality to these travelers.

This is a small look at the concept of hospitality. The concept revolves around the idea of responsibility of reciprocation. No person exists in a vacuum, everyone needs something from someone else. Community was the center of the life. Kin, Kindred (extended family), and tribe – in that order – was very important. Community, in this use, refers to all three segments of life. An individual is part of the community of Kinship (family – blood and chosen), the Kinship is part of the community of Kindred, and the tribe was a community of Kindreds joined together for the purpose of survival. Individualism was also important because individuals who were encouraged to do their best in what they did were better for the community, they made the community stronger. Everyone did their part, the concepts we know today of right and wrong are based on that idea of community. Right, or good, meant to do what was best for the community. Wrong, or evil, was that which harmed the community. This is where reciprocity comes in. Everyone owed the community a debt to what was right; what was good.

Frith is the natural result of a community in which all the members understand their responsibility of reciprocity. Many believe that Frith is synonymous with peace but that is a very small part of what Frith is. True Frith is only possible between people who are connected, who have a strong connection. I believe this can be formed online if both people are honest, but typically it is only possible when the people are bonded. The concept of Frith revolves in the idea of Inner Yard (Innagarð) and Outer Yard (Utangarð).

Your Inner Yard are those closest to you. Eric Sjerven describes this in three segments. Think of a homestead. In the center is the house, those who live in that house with you are your closest, most intimate inner yard. These are the people that you would drop anything, get out of bed and drive across the country to help them when they call. This is your Kin. Just outside of the house, on the porch or deck – maybe in the mother-in-law house out back – is your Kindred. Those who will help in most cases, but not at the expense of your Kin. You wouldn’t skip work, but you would give up weekend plans to help them move. Outside of that, but still inside the fence, is your tribe. These people you probably would not even answer the phone if they called in the wee hours and if you did you would offer to send someone to help them but not get up and go yourself. They are still in your inner yard…but just barely.

The Outer Yard contains all other people. While this does include the evil, terrible monsters, it is also the everyday people you see but know their names. There are good and honest people outside of your yard, you just have no connection to them. These people won’t have your phone number to call you late at night, or any other time.

Along with Frith come Grith. Grith is a manufactured peace that is limited and specific. Grith is set up for people that would be in each other’s outer yard to guarantee the safety of the united group. A safe space if you will. This would have been set up to facilitate things like an Allthing or on sacred ground. In modern times we find a version in Facebook groups and other social media where there are rules of conduct. We also see this in certain public places – like a grocery store. Grith has established rules and known consequences.

For further information:

We are Our Deeds by Eric Wodening

Also check Eric “Word-Weaver” Sjerven’s YouTube channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0znFFrIeSyIMJFZ4m9smkQ

I am Back….am I Back?

I’m back

Wow! Over a year since my last post…slacker!

Since I don’t believe in making excuses, because you don’t care, and because it is simply boring, I will not go into why I have taken a year off. I also will not be making any promises, implied or explicit, as to how often I will be writing these posts.

So maybe a little updating is in order. I have gotten more involved with The Asatru Community (TAC). I became the Arkansas State Ambassador in January. In April I accepted the Lead Ambassador assignment for the South-Central Region. This includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Right now, we are restructuring a bit. We have three ambassadors (2 of them are in the same state). So, we are working on getting new ones trained and operational.

I have set a goal to focus on/explore one of the 9NV each month. To spend the entire month with a daily reflection on that virtue. I post a quote in our regional FB group and journal about that quote. Some of that journaling may end up in these posts – again there will be no promises made.

To tie in with Pride Month I am focusing on courage this month. Courage is the foundation of a Principle Centered Life and is what those in LGBT+ community need to be who they were born to be. I was privileged to be born a straight male and blessed with finding my soul mate and best friend. I do not have the perspective to truly understand what being born with the sexual genitals that do not match my gender, nor do I understand what it is be attracted to someone of my same sex. I have no basis to understand what it is like to live in a world that is unaccepting of me because of how I was born.

However, because I have been blessed with the privileges I enjoy, I choose to be a friend to the community. To use my (the little I have) influence to help people like me have a little more empathy and to seek to understand as best we can. My sphere of influence is relatively small, but I have a little audience (my readers – both of you) in my role as ambassador for TAC. Since my primary role is in the Asatru/Heathen community I have focused my work on this task in this area. My daily courage posts are dedicated to those in the LGBT+ community.

Another focus I have dedicated myself to is being grateful, showing and expressing gratitude. I am not good at this. Sure, I am good at telling someone “Thank you” like my mother taught me. I am good at being polite (when I choose to). What I suck at is being grateful for my life and the blessings I live with. The opportunities – earned and gifted – I have been given and the results of the choices I have made. I write three detailed and specific gratitude, blessing, humbling experiences or something I am proud of in my journal every day. This is my plan to switch my thinking and behavior to become more grateful in my life. I believe that lack of gratitude is the source of why I not allowing myself to choose the better path. I am choosing to be depressed and angry – to be an asshole.

That is where I am now. I am back – at least for this post.

P.S. If you are interested in TAC – http://www.theasatrucommunity.org

Verðandi

The cycle of life is something that has perplexed man for as long as man has existed. The concept, the mythology, of the Ancestors discusses a complex idea of how this works. They used an analogy of the great ash tree, Yggdrasil – the tree that connects the nine worlds. Yggdrasil is rooted in the Well of Wyrd (Urd or Destiny) and acts as a conduit to all life in all the nine worlds. Connecting everything back to the Well which describes the fate of all living beings. The three Norns – Urd, Verðandi, and Skuld – write, also seen as weaving, the fate of all living beings. The three sisters are often associated with a linear time line – Past, Present, Future – but the Ancestors seen this as a much more complex concept. Time is cyclical not linear. The present, Verðandi, can influence the past and absolutely influences the future.

Norns 2

Urd is the oldest of the three sisters, and the most powerful and most worked with. She is the controller of history. That which once was, or what has already become. We work with her when we read a history book, when we explore our family tree, whenever we look to the past. Urd was once the sole Norn who controlled all three aspects of time/life. Therefore, she can influence, have dominance over, her sisters. That which once was, that which has become, is a powerful influence over that which is (now). Indeed, we build the foundation of our life on the past, on that which was that made us who we are now.

Skuld is the youngest of the sisters. She is what should be, what shall be – necessity and obligation. She is also the Norn who marks and cuts the transitions in our lives. The births and deaths (including our own birth and death). She is seen as the youngest because she has yet to happen, yet the foundation is already set. She exists because there is a “what once was”; because there is a past and because there is a that which is now. There are always consequences for our actions, for our choices, Skuld is the controller of those consequences.

Verðandi, that which is now – the present, is the Norn which I try to do the most work with. Understanding the here and now is important in my life. It is the present in which I have the most influence, where my influence has the largest effect. What I do today, while influenced by that which was, is how I direct my future. I know how to influence my future. The Ancestors believed that Verðandi has influence over Urd. I don’t fully understand this, and I have little desire to work with the magics, which is how I understand that the present can affect the past. I, instead, choose to learn the past so that I can understand how to work with Verðandi to create a path to the future I desire.

I do not believe that we have absolute freedom in our choices, but I also do not believe that the future is stationary. Ørlög is the name given to the concept which describes fate of a person. Ørlög is the combination of luck and fate and is cumulative through our ancestry. Yes, this means that what our father and his father…and so on…did influences the choices that we have now. This is not to blame our parents, our ancestors, for our problems today. We still have the responsibility to make the best choices and to grow and make the best life we can. What this means is that choices our ancestors made influences the choices available to us. For example: If the parents move the family to a new town, state or country, the child has no choice but to move with the parents. No real choice anyway. Once relocated the choices of that child is affected – restricted – by their environment. As simple as the friends they can hang out with – they no longer can spend as much time with their friends “back home”. They can now choose to make new friends, or have no friends, or try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their friends. Their choices have been limited, reduced. This is an extremely simple example of ørlög, but the concept of ørlög is not the focus of this post so I am not going into full detail, only to set the stage so to speak. There are some places where this concept is better developed. If you would like to read more try here or here.

The point is this: we start life with a specific number of choices. A finite number, choices that are set by Skuld based on Wyrd. As we grow and begin making choices – even before making our own choices our parents make choices for us – every choice we make sets us on a path to a specific end. That end is not absolute, it is one possibility of many. Each choice we make, or allow to be made for us, reduces the choices available. We can never return to the exact place we were when we make a choice. We can only learn from bad choices, own the choice and reset ourselves. Making a different choice, even if the same choice we could have made is presented to us it is not the same as it once was. It cannot be because we made that choice already. By influencing the present, working with Verdandi, we can direct that path. So, I choose to work with the Norn of the here and now.

This choice has lead me to the life I try to convey in my postings here. Has led me to study the 7 Habits which led me to examine the correlation to the 9 Noble Virtues. This leads me to developing a principle centered life, centered on the 9NV. Working with Verdandi, working within the area of my influence, I can create the future I want to create. This will influence my ørlög and will affect the ørlög of my children and future generations. It is my duty, my obligation, to do this.

What is right with this world

There is so much wrong with the world. We see it every day. The past few days we have seen some the worst. Another school shooting. Kids killing kids. Does it get much worse than that? Our government…I don’t even know where to start or what to say about the politics today in our country. It seems that we are living in the end of days. Are we seeing the beginning of Fimbulwinter?

Then something right happens. I am reminded that there is still right in this world, I just must open my eyes and see it.

Tonight, it was just the second born and I for supper. The wife and oldest are at work, the daughter is at a sleep over/birthday party. The boy and I went to a little diner for supper. I had only been to this diner for breakfast and the boy had not eaten there before. They have good food – its comfort food for me. Not so much the food but the atmosphere. It reminds me of the diners I grew up knowing. The places where Grandma Max owned and worked, where my mom worked…where I worked. Not fancy, just simple food made well. A friendly waitress who knows the regulars and greets them by name and with a smile. The owner’s family having their evening meal together in the back corner where they are rolling silverware and filling salt shakers while eating. Regulars enjoying the company of other regulars. Friendly exchanges like “Wow those boys have grown so fast” “How is your mom?” “I saw your aunt/uncle/cousin yesterday” … All said with a genuine frith.

She came in with her two young boys. The older one with obvious signs of Downs Syndrome and the younger one barely of walking age. The older boy came in with a huge grin on his face. People greeting him by name. He makes eye contact with me. I smile. He smiles and waves. They take the booth behind the one my son and I are sitting in. She smiles, and the room is brighter. The two boys are well mannered but also quite active. She handles the two with a patience and smile. The love of her children was so easy to see that I almost cried. Truly Frigg was dining with us in that diner tonight. She caught me making faces with her youngest and her and I made eye contact. She smiled, and her eyes sparkled, and I knew that the world is ok, we are ok.

This is what is right in the world. We need to focus on the good. We can’t ignore the evil, but we must not dwell on the evil. Love, the love of a mother like Frigg has for Baldur, the love I saw in the young mother tonight, that is what we should dwell on. That is what we should, no must, seek out.

frigg

This is what is right in the world. We need to focus on the good. We can’t ignore the evil, but we must not dwell on the evil. Love, the love of a mother like Frigg has for Baldur, the love I saw in the young mother tonight, that is what we should dwell on. That is what we should, no must, seek out.

 

The Sound of a Chainsaw…

I arrived home from work early Friday morning. In the distance I could hear the sound of the neighbor running his chainsaw. The sound of a neighbor running a chainsaw is a neighbor inviting you to come help with some good, hard work. I knew he was working on cutting up one of the trees he had brought down last week. Art (the neighbor) and I came together to have a professional tree cutter bring down 6 trees between our two properties. Four on his and two on mine. His four were dead or dying but were too big for us amateurs to mess with. Mine were dangerously in need of being taken care of, again not something for weekend warriors.

I had a hickory that was rotting at the base and was about half gone from the ground up to about four feet. It was leaning towards my shop and we were concerned if we tried to cut it would fall on the shop. The other was an oak that had been hit by lightening a few years prior to me buying the place. It was close to the power line. Max, the neighbor on the other side of me, spent a couple decades cutting trees for a living but is in no shape to be doing that business now. He said that oak would come down in at least three pieces and there was no telling which direction any of it would come down. This actually prompted bringing in the tree cutter with his bucket truck.

Friday promised to be a good day for working on this stuff. Weather was great, especially for a day in February. About 40 degrees at 8am and got to almost 60 by the end of the day. I changed from my work uniform into home work clothes. This meant jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots traded for jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots. My company pays for my uniforms so I don’t feel it is right to tear them up at home. I grabbed a cup of coffee, changed the chain on my saw, gassed it up and topped off the bar oil reservoir. Threw it all in the truck (saw, fuel, oil, bar wrench and chain sharpening file) refilled my cup and went to play with my friends.

We are giving almost all of the wood to Max. He uses an Outdoor Wood Burning furnace. Wood is burned in a firebox outside of the house which heats a water reservoir. The heated water circulates into the furnace. The air blows over the hot water coil. The air absorbs the heat and blows out into the house. Same way a gas fired furnace works which is what us “industry pros” call a direct heat whereas Max’s furnace is an indirect heat. It is a very good system and something that I am looking at putting as a backup or “off grid” option for my house. For now, the propane is a better option for me.

I say almost all of the wood because I plan to keep about a “rick” for my wood burner in my shop and the smaller sticks will be used in my smoke house (when I get it built). A “cord” of firewood is a stack of wood that measures (about) 4 feet deep x 4 feet high x 8 foot long – stacked neatly and compactly. It is 128 cubic feet of compactly stacked firewood. A “rick” is 1/3 of a cord. Typically, cut and split firewood is cut between 16 and 20 inches, with 16 inches being the “standard”. A “rick” would then be 4’x4’x16”. I do not know how many cord of wood would typically be used over the winter, but if you cut your own wood it can be a very cost-effective method of heating. Wood heat is very common in this part of the country. Back home (Southwest Kansas) it is not as practical because we just don’t have the trees.

Friday, we cut up two of Art’s trees and my oak. We got the tops – the smaller branches – moved to the burn pile. I worked until about 3pm. At that point I had been awake for about 20 hours and I hit that proverbial wall. A good day’s work and well-earned sleep to end it. Saturday, Art was over at about 7am burning the brush pile. We had a little rain Friday night so it was great timing to burn. Less chance of setting the whole yard on fire. I got the two boys up and out and we started on the hickory. Got all the tops moved to the fire and would have got the tree cut up but I cut in at the wrong angle and damaged my chain. Max’s son and grandson showed up around 9am to cut up the large trunk pieces of the oak and to start hauling it to Max’s wood pile. About noon I had to call it a day – I had to work Saturday night.

Good, hard work shared among neighbors creates friends. We all had a good time. Joking with each other, sharing stories – probably mostly lies (except mine were all true enough) – and all while making my place safer and helping out Max. So, remember, if you hear your neighbor running a chainsaw go see what they are doing. They may welcome the help.