This Perfect Pinecone

IMG_20160229_093024015During my walk yesterday I stopped by my pine tree. It is a bit of a sapling along my usual walk path through the majestic oak grove that occupies the south side of Bayou Metairie. At some point in late January, I returned to the tree from which I’d taken a branch and respectfully spoke to the wights, asked forgiveness for taking the branch, and used a stick of Burt’s Bees plain lip balm to dress the wound I had made with my pocket knife a month earlier. Later, I returned and left a bowl of organic heavy cream and honey at the base of the tree, again thanking the wight(s) for the gift of the branch.

As I was walking yesterday, I stopped as I sometimes do to look at the branch I cut. The Burt’s Bees is dried up and still protecting the cut. Spring clover surrounds this tree, and I noticed that in one particular spot, directly beneath the cut I made and only there, the clover had set out its small, purple blooms. I took this as a favorable omen for my relationship with this particular wight. Just before I left, I noticed the perfect pine cone. And by perfect I mean if I were looking for a model for a mold to sell a million of them as Xmas/Yule decorations, this is the pine cone I would want. And there it was, lying just beneath the tree. It was open and so assuming it’s pine nuts dispersed to the ground or the squirrels, I picked it up to place on my altar.

All is well I think in my personal Sacred Grove. The branch I have is still green if a bit dry, and the  nascent pine cones have shriveled up. When  I need a fresh branch after I offer the one I cut in December on a Light the Beacon’s May Day bonfire, I will return to the same tree and this time start by asking permission and giving thanks for the tree’s offering of a twig for my altar.

You can probably see why my friend in Oakland suggested I investigate Druidism but I am fairly set upon the path of Heathenism, and sacred trees are certainly no stranger to the faith or in particular to my own German ancestors. We are, after all, ash and oak (or at least I like to think oak, as what I have read so far leaves the translation of Embla with a question mark, leaning elm; in my personal cosmology, we are ash and oak.  I have stopped thinking of the trees of my grove as brothers and think of them instead as mothers). I always stand ready for correction at this early stage, and if I should think of the wights of my grove as brothers, just let me know.

Until then, the pine come joins the branch on my altar, and I have to decide whether the cone goes on the bonfire as well later this spring. At the moment, I am very attached to it, but perhaps the tree wight meant the gift to be passed on to the high gods, and to give what is precious to one is the best gift regardless of its superficial, external worth.

 

The Lore in Our Core

I encountered Jose Ortega y Gasset’s famous line in a novel the other day: “Yo soy yo y mi circumstancia” (“I am I and my circumstance”) Meditaciones del Quijote, 1914.”  While he implies a dialectical tension perhaps not entirely in keeping with The Wyrd, I cannot mistake its echo in the statement. Spain was occupied by the Goths in the long ago, and they had a profound influence on the subsequent culture.

And then yesterday I encounter a series of excerpts from the letters of Vincent Van Gogh in which  once again the ethos of Heathenism seems to lie between every line even as he invokes Christian concepts.

He who lives uprightly and experiences true difficulty and disappointment and is nonetheless undefeated by it is worth more than someone who prospers and knows nothing but relative good fortune.
[…]
Woe-spiritedness is quite a good thing to have, if only one writes it as two words, woe is in all people, everyone has reason enough for it, but one must also have spirit, the more the better, and it is good to be someone who never despairs.

Everyone thinks of Van Gogh as a painter of France although he was of Dutch and so Germania ancestry. Am I seeing chimera where I wish to find them, mirage of water in the desert, a Lore overload spilling onto the floor? Or is our cosmos opening up its hidden, unforgotten patterns all about me?

I rather think the last, although perhaps I am suffering from an excess of enthusiasm. Then again just such an excess could be a gift of He Who Hung Upon the Tree for just such gifts, and I implored him just last week for inspiration in a specific circumstances but the gifts of the God’s do not always come neatly wrapped or on a certain date specific.

I believe in what I am seeing, the wisdom and ethos in unexpected places all around me.

First always, as sworn for my boon (a gift for a gift), Hail All Father for opening my eyes to the hidden wisdom all around me. And Hail Thor, Warder of Asgard and Migard, for the warrior wisdom of Vincent Van Gogh.

Marcus Trúasóngr

What More Would Ye Know?

800px-Odin_og_V__lven_by_Fr__lichWell, Yahoo mail doesn’t have an IMAP/Sent folder so I’m not sure when I sent out my email to everyone on TheTrorth.org in Louisiana who published their emails. Thursday, I think; maybe first thing Friday. At the frantic pace most people check their email, it would be good to have heard from someone. Patience is not listed among the Heathen virtues but Steadfastness is one of the Noble Nine, and patience is a part of that and so is continuing my reading, finding forms of simple daily practice, and hopefully awaiting word from any of the people I emailed.

Frith,

Marcus Trúasóngr
Hail Allfather (first always, a gift for a gift)

 

The Second Conundrum

Three posts in one morning is part of it, the breath of inspiration to write these thoughts (and so many more that will require research and notes to speak to properly). Who else might this come from except the All Father, lord of skald poets, breath of inspiration, and the mighty spear I called upon in a moment of concern over a rapid-fire series of interviews for a job I desperately want. My boon was granted and I will, as promised, all ways Hail the All Father first in any prayer or toast. This inspiration from the lore and from the one I once called Old One Eye’d Jack (a kenning I will not let go of) leads me in the direction (and contrary to the direction of my friend V) which I have already written about below. A drop of ale, a spot of blood, a boon granted, and I am His to do with as he please. I don’t doubt that; ask only that he guide me deeper into the lore and grant me the skald’s gift.

I ordered a Valknut pendant instead of a Mjölnir to signify my new faith largely because of the above. Then again, the Mjölnir is the symbol of the warder of Asgard, friend of men, foe of bent jotun. As a bookish person and poet who feels drawn deeply into the lore and toward writing prayers, praises, rituals and the like, who will no doubt undertake the Lore path of The Troth, I am reminded of my childhood. Every bookish child needs a strong friend to stand with them on the playground against the ignorant and bent.

I think when the Valknut comes, I will lay it on my mantel altar before the picture of my father, who fought briefly but bravely in WWII; sent back from the lines as a typist after his entire company was wiped out in an ambush with what was then called shell shock. Imagine the friends of several years training together as engineers interrupted by the call for more riflemen, all lost in first combat. Certainly his discharge papers name him typist because of what we would now call PTSD. He was a warrior when called, and carried the Browning Automatic Rifle. Soldiers and students of war will know what the life expectancy of a Squad Automatic Weapon bearer in the European theater was; about the same as a Navy Corpsman in the Pacific Theater, often not days or hours but minutes. The Germans went first for the guy with the automatic rifle, the Japanese for the medic. I will place the Valknut atop his discharge papers on the altar, to symbolize that he was not always a typist behind the lines but was first a warrior standing in the fore. The token will join a small green army man carrying a BAR I rescued from among my sons toys which stands before his picture.

For myself, I will instead order the Mjölnir, for as I said every bookish child needs a strong friend, and as a child in the lore and the faith I will rely upon strong-arm man-friend to stand with me in life’s ordeals. And particularly where I live, where the jotun of the Carribean ways named Huracán always lurks just over the horizon.

— Marcus Trúasóngr

The Poetic Idea

As I publish some of my private rituals here, I struggle with the idea of adopting a pen name for them. As a poet and heathen, the idea of adopting a kenning-like surname appeals to me. It also allows a certain privacy, although my picture and general WordPress identity hangs up their to the right. My universalist, goddess following friend and early guide V frau Oakland is never-the-less very familiar with Heathen lore, as a person of Norwegian descent with Sami blood. She cautioned me about approaching the Grim Allfather directly, but in a moment of concern I prayed and offered ale and a spot of blood, asking for the gift of inspiration and warrior spirit to get me through the interview process. I felt my boon was granted and so I will likely sign future posts “Hail All Father (first always, a gift for a gift).

As the Spirit of Inspiration, I toyed with adding to my name altered as Marcus a surname/kenning dedicated to Odin, playing with and Old Norse dictionary. From that source I came up with:

Óðinnródd (Odinvoice),    Sannindisǫgumaðr (Truthspeaker; too long and hard to pronounced), Óðinnsǫgumaðr (Odinspeaker). Also Fólksóngr (Folk Singer, but a singer of the folk, sort of a humble sub-skald, not somebody with a guitar).

I am mostly settled on Trúasóngr: Troth Singer. I like this one a lot.

So for now, I sign off,

Marcus Trúasóngr
Hail Allfather (first always, a gift for a gift)

(Comments/votes/suggestions welcome).

The Religion With Homework

So, I am at last admitted as a New Member to The Troth. I am not formally admitted to the Lore Program for a year yet, but I’m already deep into my reading and am filled with thoughts (gifts from the Allfather) I am inspired to write here, and realize I’m going to have to start keeping real notes if I am going to share those thoughts on this blog and pursue this next year. This is going to be right up there with tackling The Cantos of Ezra Pound in 30 days, albeit while living in a castle in the Sud Tirol. No castle hear at the Fortress of Squalitude to which I would not welcome the vættir of it’s land until I finally get around to a long-deferred, thorough cleaning. Having an excuse to bury my nose in a book is not getting a year’s accretion of dust, cigarette gunk and smoker’s candle soot off the walls, the black spiderwebs up near the 14-foot ceiling a constant reminder of why I’ll never take another job like the last.

The Homework:

First Year: The Lore: Primary Source Material
Goal: Familiarity with multiple translations of source material, as available. Thorough understanding of the Norse myths, Anglo-Saxon and continental Germanic materials. Ability to communicate understanding in oral and written communication, including articles and research papers.
Required Reading:
At least two translations of the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, Beowulf.
At least one translation of: Heimskringla, Tacitus’s Germania, Saxo’s Gesta Danorum
Secondary Source Material as needed to facilitate understanding
Required to Complete:
Lore-Based Exam (take-home)
One 7-10 page research paper on any aspect of the material above. MLA Format required. Minimum of 5 sources, including original source material.

Light the Beacons

Living in the South, as I make my first outreach to The Troth steward and a local pan-pagan group, one of my concerns is obviously the possibility to turn folkishness into outright racism. Everyone raised in the south above a certain age is a racists. It was indoctrinated by elder family members and one’s peers from the earliest age, and it is a curse one struggles with as one struggles against alcoholism: one day at a time, never completely cured but stronger than the curse.

A group of heathens is organizing an event on Mayday called Light the Beacons. I let the Facebook post speak for itself:

On this coming May Day we call on all Heathens around the world who stand for inclusive, tolerant, and diverse practice to light a beacon in solidarity with all other Heathens who stand for these values in our spirituality. Whether you are lighting a candle in your home with your loved ones or are hosting a bonfire party open to the public we ask you help us shine a light on all the good work, good practice, and good people in Heathenry across Midgard.

As I have shared a few other ritual invocations of the gods (so far, but mindful of the strong women of the Heathen pantheon as well, and that sexism has no place; and I am drawn toward Nerthus as the embodiment of the The Lady in the Germanic feminine), here is a redrafted invocation after some helpful criticism from my region’s Troth steward.

Hail Báleyg

Baleful eye of the battlefield
Lord of the cohort of Asgard
Father of all troth knowledge

The Troth  of all—Æsir & Vanir,
lofty Jöntunn, bright Alfheim
& the Folk of the Troth—
are threatened by the crooked of Ásatru.
.
Shine your flaring glance upon them
as we light this fiery beacon of true troth
so that the glory of all Asgard
& the people of the holy troth
be unblemished in the eyes of all men.