So, I wasn’t going to say anything about my recent experiences here, but then I saw all the utter shite @lady-feral has been getting over the last few days, and well, I think it may actually be worth mentioning.
As background, I’ve been part of my local Heathen moot since its inception. It’s actually a regional one, meandering gently across the NW of the UK, so that all its members can get to one or two. Its purpose is for Heathens to get together, to chat and get to know each other - just generally be able to spend some time around other Heathens, and exchange knowledge if you’re new. We maintain a Facebook group for comms purposes, so we often get people wanting to join who we haven’t met first and have to make a judgement call based on FB profile. etc.
I was recently made a co-mod, because the founder and chief moderator was on holiday. We’re friends, have been for years, and he trusts my judgement. I’m also a cripple - I have Cerebral Palsy, use a wheelchair, and recently had to have half my foot amputated after it ulcerated for Some Reason.
Recently, we had a guy join, and it soon came out that he identified as Folkish.
Now, as a rule, that’s potentially a Red Flag. I say potentially, because sometimes someone doesn’t know it descends from Völkisch and associated movements. Sometimes they are just new, unaware of the toxic stew of racism, nineteenth century Romantic Nationalism, and pseudoscience. Unaware of that word implies, in many quarters. So we have two choices, being as our group requires that:
you respect the right of other group-members to be Heathen, regardless of sexuality, gender, or ethnicity or ‘race’.
1. We can instaban and potentially alienate, isolate, or drive further into the Folkish Realms, someone who might not know what’s dodgy about such things.
2. We can enquire about this person’s belief, where they’re coming from, and give them enough rope to hang themselves - and in the process, watch for those who might ‘Like’ or post agreement with the ever-present post courting the very thinnest edge of respectability - or even those over it, posted when the mods are busy.
As a rule, we choose 2, for our FB group. It’s better they reveal their colours online than in person. Others might handle such a thing in another way, and that’s fine too. To cut a long story short, this person eventually launched into a classic anti semitic rant, not to mention mention a whole bunch of pseudoscience.
(That creaking sound you hear is the sound of someone hanging themselves on the provided rope.)
What has this got to do with the crap @lady-feral is getting? Well, I got a message from said arsehole - changing my message nickname to “Fake Heathen” and then informing me he was glad that the gods “[D]id not favour me in this life :D”
I assume he meant this as some sort of You’re not Heathen, because the gods hate you so much they allowed you to be crippled implication? I don’t know - it was confusing, because he’s obviously not read the Havamal, which pretty much suggests it’s better to be crippled, than, y’know, dead.
When you’ve got a combat veteran getting shit for activism from armchair warriors who think War and Warriors are Great, either because she believes in a world where things could be better for minorities and that Fascism and White Supremacy are ridiculous and dangerous and should be resisted, or because she happens to be a woman?
(Multiple sources suggest the Allfatherwas-as-a-woman on various occasions, just fyi.)
When you’ve got a disabled person being told the gods did not favour them, despite surviving things that kill thousands every year, having a loving family, partner, and just enough to live comfortably, in a place they own?
When that person could have died - and in fact pretty much did, but came the fuck back?
You begin to understand that for some of these folks will always move the goalposts. You will never ever be right, or a proper/real Heathen unless you’re exactly like them. The things about you they dislike, that they are disgusted by so badly that they want you gone unless you fit their cookie cutter mould?
If you’re OK, if you gain continued life when you should be dead? That threatens the fact that they’re the favoured ones. If you, the supposedly degenerate, the vile continue to prosper? To face your wyrd head on, and grin and smile, despite its bindings?
What would that say about them?
It might suggest that they were not supreme, favoured. That their vaunted, non-existent, genetic purity, is not enough?
Because those other-than-them still exist, and despite the attempts to eliminate or cow those folks, we still exist. We remain and that bothers the shit out of them. Because an industrialised war machine couldn’t stop us; it could slaughter thousands, millions of us, even, but still we remain.
Nevertheless, she, and we, persisted.
And still they beat us, still they try to kill us. Still they surge with the momentary high of destroying the things, the symbols, the people they hate. “This is our world, our faith, our country.” they proclaim as they kick, they punch, they smash. It makes them to feel good to exert their power, gives them agency, because they feel outnumbered.
But the rush fades, the adrenalin drops. They look and see another target, and another and another. So they take a knife, a gun, a bomb and they kill many, knowing they’ll be caught, caged, or more probably killed. They dream, they beg, for their life to be filled with that agency, for their last moments to be making some sort of change.
They don’t want to be their ordinary selves, because their ordinary selves could be run over by a bus. They could die on the toilet for fucks sake, a stroke, an aneurysm, a heart attack. Cheek pressing tile, watching the dark unfurl amidst the pain, wondering what it was all for. Or, perhaps even worse, they could survive the stroke, become crippled, need a wheelchair, require someone to wipe their arse.
They could become one of us.
We are a reminder of what could be, what wyrd might deal them. Might bind them tight as a weaver can. They dream of the onrush, perhaps desire Valhalla, or a martyrs heaven. Because it’s the same impulse that drove the Crusaders, the same that drives Daesh - filled with the rush, Us against Them. And truly, they feel alone, lost without it.
Of course, a byproduct of such things, of any tight knit group is access to shared resources - the Templars grew rich enough to be a bank, PMC’s profit in warzones the world over and Daesh gains funding from drugs, from selling off stolen antiquities
Money and power, weapons and land and numbers, exclusion and castigation. All ways to demonstrate agency when others have none, to demonstrate the favour of god(s), the apparent superiority of their group, their Way over another.
(Except gods, especially Heathen ones, are notoriously fickle according to the lore - Odin’s heroes are often deserted mid-battle. One Eye’s spear flies over both sets of combatants, after all. Whatever happens, he wins.)
Both sides, Them, and Us, are defined by the other.
Those who claim superiority are constantly measuring themselves against those they deem inferior. Even if they exterminated, removed, or exiled themselves from the realm of their so-called inferiors? Then they would not be superior - merely all there was, to rise or fall on their own merits, their own ability or lack thereof to navigate whatever structures were in place - they would make their own scapegoats, would find others to blame, even within themselves.
Those they hate, fear, are disgusted by, are well used to the limitations, the way wyrd - that weaving of consequence, of action and reaction - might render the path you’re on crooked. Yet still we prosper - still some of us know the onrush of poetry and song, of word from word giving word from us.
Some of us are bound noose-tight, the limitations of our life allowing us a joy, a surging fury that infuses everything in our life. Perhaps this a god’s favour? To have joy despite being the the thing that so many fear, despite being the horrible reminder of what may be dealt to us, by a universe that is not, nor will it ever be, ours to control.
I know that I cannot control any hate slung my way after this. If and when any comes my way, I’ll shrug. If this gets reblogged, mocked and torn to pieces, so be it. If people choose to do that, if it makes them feel better, so be it. If leaving a reply gives you the rush of a need satisfied, or an urge to troll go for it.
I really have had worse, and I’m still here. If you want to join the myriad people who’ve pointed and laughed, mocked, thrown stones both literal and metaphorical, be aware that this is nothing clever, that you’re not distinguishing yourself from anyone. You’re literally nothing new.
I remain. I’m here and now, and the fact is, some of you who hate me for what I am? Some of you may become like me. I look forward to the day when you finally bring yourself to look in the mirror and see me there too, waiting.
I think tragedy is more intense when it's avoidable: when there are clearly marked alternatives that lead away from catastrophe, but the character cannot choose them because of who they are. If everyone had come to the Nírnaeth, something important would have been won that day. If Thingol had accepted Luthien and Beren's love, Doriath wouldn't have fallen. The Doom hurts me because if is your heart, not your gods, that doom you to fail. I'm sure Tolkien disagrees.
That is an excellent point. While all my talk of Doom and immutable fate has sprung from contrariness, I think Tolkien was drawing on something much deeper.
I can’t find the direct source, but I can find a reference to him noting, in a discussion of Beowulf, that the Anglo-Saxon concept of fate or ‘wyrd’ is often compared unfavourably with hamartia - the hero’s fatal flaw that drives much classical tragedy. Given how much he draws on his work with Beowulf in his work on Arda, it wouldn’t surprise me if all this stuff about immutable fate was a deliberate invocation of that same trope.
I’ma quote some guy I found googling, Anglo-Saxon scholar Stephen Pollington:
“…It is worth stressing that the modern notion of linear time was still something of a scientific abstraction among even the Christian Anglo-Saxons, whose attitudes to life and death seem to have been governed by the world-view of their heathen forbears. They believed that at a given time some men…were doomed to die – a reaction to the uncertainties of warfare and accidents not unlike that of many modern soldiers who have faith in the idea that “if it’s got your name on it, there’s nothing you can do…”
Tied in with this idea is the concept of wyrd ‘the course of events’ which is the underlying structure of time; it is this pattern which the Anglo-Saxons tried to read in the world about them… As the Beowulf poet observed:
Wyrd often saves an undoomed hero as long as his courage is good (lines 572-3)
The implication is that while a man’s courage holds out, he has a hope of winning through since wyrd ‘the way things happen’ will often work to help such a man, as long as he is not doomed; conversely if a man is doomed then not even his courage can help him stand against ‘the course of events’.”
It’s a very fatalistic philosophy. Here’s where I get too personal; the reference to modern soldiers is veeeery interesting given Tolkien’s experiences in the First World War, including the deaths of all but one of his closest friends. Amidst horrors like that it’s almost a comfort to believe that nothing you or they could have done could have changed anything.
In which Cameo uses their (admittedly patchy) knowledge of Changeling jargon to explain what the hell the sourcebooks are talking about to other n00bs! If I think of more terms to explain I’ll add them to this list. If I’m talking out of my ass about something please let me know and I’ll fix that too.
Arcadia: Where the True Fae live. Laughs in the face of the laws of physics, then gives them a wedgie.
Catch: Two meanings, but they’re similar. One is in the context of Contracts: special circumstances under which you can activate the Contract without paying Glamour. The other is for tokens: it waives the need to spend Glamour or roll Wyrd (which allows even mortals and non-changeling supernaturals to use them) but there’s still a cost for using them: instead of using your magic supply you suffer a penalty in some other area. (Like, by taking damage or having dice rolls for certain skills temporarily penalized, for instance.)
Clarity: Measures your sanity and your ability to tell reality apart from unreality (both the ‘magic stuff’ type of unreality and the 'dreams and hallucinations’ type). Replaces the Morality meter humans have. By default you start with 7.
Contract: Fae magic; it’s called a Contract because it draws upon deals struck between the Fae and aspects of reality. You activate it and Magic Stuff Happens. Some Contracts are equally accessible to everyone (so long as you have enough Glamour to cast it and experience points to buy it OOCly), some are Court-based, and some are seeming-based. Goblin Contracts have inherent tradeoffs where something equally bad or nearly as bad will happen when you use it, to offset the benefits received.
Court: “Half political party, a third support group, 5/7ths ruling body, and .75 masonic lodge”, to quote TV Tropes. The closest they’ve got to a government for changelings. Western society has the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Courts; large portions of Asia prefer the North, West, South, and East Courts; and parts of Eastern Europe use the Day Court and the Night Court. (The Dawn Court and the Dusk Court also exist, but aren’t popular enough in any large area to have a designated region.)
Durance: Time spent in Arcadia getting kicked around by jerk ass fairies, in beween being kidnapped and escaping.
Ensorcelling: An ability that allows a changeling to let a mortal of their choice see fae things. It’s a type of pledge; since it requires you to stick together for the rest of your life or be cursed, it’s generally only done with close confidantes. However, there are a couple of rare, oddball ways for a mortal to end up permanently ensorcelled without a pledge.
Entitlement: The perks you get from joining a club with a particular purpose (they also have prerequisites ranging from 'you just need to not be a wet-behind-the-ears n00b’ to actually fairly demanding). Sort of like a prestige class.
Fae: If it’s just “fae” it refers to not just the True Fae but all creatures of Arcadia and the Hedge; mainly the True Fae and changelings, but also everything else that lives there.
Fetch: The facsimile of you left in your place while you were in fairy town. Self-aware, but missing something (they tend to be a boring version of you), and instinctively afraid of you. Made from a piece of your shadow and a hodgepodge of random junk, but this only becomes apparent in the event that they die and don’t leave a human corpse behind. They’re usually enemies (since a changeling and their fetch are unlikely to react well to meeting each other), but they can be sympathetic characters. They’re capable of manifesting superpowers of their own called Echoes. (Merits exist for changelings who’ve killed their fetches and changelings who’ve merged with them.)
Frailty: A supernatural weakness or behavioural compulsion that comes with high Wyrd; both high-Wyrd changelings and True Fae have them.
Freehold: A changeling society. Not COMPLETELY synonymous with 'the changeling population of the city’, but it seems fairly common for a city to just have one all-enveloping freehold (and a handful of exiles from it).
Glamour: What changelings use to power their magical abilities. How much you can store at a time and how much you can use in one shot is determined by your Wyrd. You can obtain it by soaking up other people’s emotions (they don’t lose the emotion when you do this), going into their dreams, or eating certain goblin fruit or fulfilling certain pledges.
Goblin Fruit: Fruit that grows in the Hedge and has magical effects when eaten. The term also includes other harvestable plants that aren’t edible, but do cool magic stuff when you break parts off of them or smear them on stuff or so forth. They can have both good and bad effects.
The Hedge: The borderlands between Arcadia and Earth. Full of sharp thorns. Hazardous to travel through and distances behave weirdly in there. Changelings are dragged violently through it when they’re initially kidnapped, which tears up their soul as well as their body; you lose your soul on the way to Arcadia, and it’s presumed that it makes its way back to you when you get out (certainly you’re not required to go find it).
Hedgespun: Impossibly cool clothes made of magical material. It doesn’t do anything supernatural other than be preternaturally awesome-looking (and sometimes also incredibly comfortable and well-fitting, though when worn by non-fae it has the opposite effect), although you can have Hedgespun armour as well as regular clothes. Hedgespun clothes are also affected by the Mask and mortals see them as something similar but more mundane. Doesn’t get along with cold iron.
Hobgoblin: A fae creature that lives in Arcadia or the Hedge and is neither a changeling nor a True Fae.
Hollow: A dwelling in the Hedge, which can have magical properties. If you have one it’s a pretty good place to hide from your enemies.
Keeper: The particular True Fae who kidnapped you.
Kith: Narrower type of changeling; each seeming has several kiths and they’re a bit more flexible than seemings. You get a minor special ability or two from your kith. (If you feel so inclined you can either have a character with no kith, or take the Dual Kith merit and, er, have two kiths. But most people have one, not 0 or 2.)
Loyalist: A changeling who’s in league with the True Fae, as inadvisable as that is.
Mask/Mien: The Mask is how you look to non-fae (humans and at least most other WoD supernaturals). To them you appear human and are recognisable as the same person you were before your Durance, though your appearance might have changed somewhat. Your mien is how you actually look, which other fae - other changelings being the ones you’ll interact with the most - see automatically when you’re on Earth; there are a couple of ways to show it to other people, and everyone can see it if you’re in the Hedge, even if they’re on the other side of a gateway.
Motley: A party; a group of changeling bros.
Pledge: An agreement or promise between a changeling and another party (so it at least partly means what it sounds like it means), which carries magical power and has unpleasant consequences if broken by either party. Contains a boon (the reward for taking part in it), a task (what you’re expected to do to uphold or fulfill it) and a sanction (the punishment for breaking it).
Privateer: A changeling who hunts down other changelings and sells them back to the True Fae or to hobgoblins. Usually mercenaries driven by greed, although Loyalists can also be privateers, and both can be still trapped in the service of their Keepers.
Seeming: Broad type of changeling: Beast, Darkling, Elemental, Fairest, Ogre, and Wizened. Pretty much everyone has one, although the No Seeming merit exists because there are a few rare exceptions to that rule. (You can’t have two.)
Token: Magical item from Arcadia or the Hedge. Comes in five levels of potency; the more powerful they are, the harder they are to get ahold of.
Trod: A road through the Hedge, either from a place in the mortal world to another, or from the mortal world to Arcadia. The term can also refer to the entrance to such a road.
True Fae: Also known as the Gentry, the Others, and various other nicknames (there’s a superstition that referring to them too directly draws their attention). They’re usually-humanoid eldritch abominations incapable of anything that could so much as pass for empathy or compassion in a poor light, as well as being incapable of original thought. They like to steal people (that’s you) and force them into servitude and/or use them as playthings or decorations. They do not make good dinner guests.
Wyrd: A measure of how magical you are, basically. It goes from 1 to 10. Higher Wyrd means you’re more powerful but it also makes you more of a target for the True Fae, you begin to develop Frailties, you can no longer go entirely without Glamour without experiencing an unpleasant withdrawal, and involuntary magical effects start popping up around you. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword that way. (Having Wyrd 10 seems like more trouble than it’s worth, since for one thing you start hemorrhaging Clarity. And other fairly alarming things.)
Of all the reconstructed systems of archaic magickal practice, Seiðr seems to be one of the most misunderstood. This is partly because of its sinister reputation, and partly because of sexist notions that only women ever practised divination. All too often Seiðr is mistaken for the craft of the Volva, where in reality (if such a notion is useful) the Volvas were only part of a far wider practice.
The Anglo-Saxon sorcerer dealt directly with life-force, a vital-energy which permeated everything but which in humans was generated in the head and flowed down the spinal cord and from there throughout the body…Life-force connected individual human functioning with the pulse of the earth rhythm, a psychological and spiritual dimension which has been excluded from our technological cocoon.
Are you familiar with Seidr? Do you have any good resources I can trust?
I am familiar with Seidr. In fact, I may eventually pursue becoming a volva but not in the foreseeable future. I have sources but much of it is either archaeological finds (and thereby may be an exception instead of a rule) or reconstructed and potentially incorrect historically (or at the very least have some questionable things in it). One thing to know, of course, is that there is no way to be sure what Seidr actually is or was or how it was performed. We have only historical records and writings of people who were not practitioners, likely religiously bias, and not a continuing practice to look at. Therefore it is, as with most of pagan reconstructed or revitalized religions, subject to personal bias and UPG rather than a written or oral tradition to fall back to.
If (and potentially when) I join Seidr, it would be based on three things: my god’s wishes, historically logical assumptions, written accounts, and archaeological evidence, and my personal UPG.
It is good to note that Seidr isn’t just spells, magic, and fortune telling. Major areas of focus for Seidr would be war, sex, and fertility. Manipulating magic would be more used than persuasive magic. Spirit walking is not only a given but expected. An entheogens and herbalism would be studied and used as part of the religious experience. No punches would be pulled. Singing, drums, and dancing would also be a method of conducting their spells and rituals. Divination would be a huge area of focus, involving sitting out and going into a trance for divination purposes or possible spirit communication although realistically self-introspection and meditation probably made an appearance too. (Read meditation as to think deeply and not the new age version of that although periods of rest to connect with the universal would probably be fairly normal as well.)
Practitioners would carry a distaff, used for weaving and would double as a wizard’s staff and magic wand. Often, powerful and renown practitioners would have an entourage of assistance or slaves and would either travel or hold court. They often were consulted, hired, or invited to join war parties. These were powerful people given places of respect when they enter a home. Seidr was likely performed not only out in the woods but also on a raised platform - as I mentioned, hold court so to speak - for major rituals or public ones used to bolster morale or court favor with hosts. A chair is often found in burials, so there may have been a portion of the rituals that required the volva to sit in a trance in the chair, perhaps while channeling deities or spirits in an oracular fashion. Powerful practitioners were often richly rewarded by patrons or villagers given the archaeological evidence but almost certainly not a universal outcome for all practitioners.
All of the above being said, there’s a lot of sources out there and they’re generally classed in one of two ways: personal religious practice or academic. I haven’t read all of these but this is my to-read list (some include rune research as well) or have read list. I’ll make a notation of my opinion of the book if I’ve read it.
This is one of those on-going studies for me but it should be noted that I’m not a practitioner of any kind of Norse religion, I’m just arbitrarily connected given my association with Heimdallr and my ancestors being almost entirely from the region.
Dreamweaver is a concept album based on the 1983 book by psychologist Brian Bates - “The Way of Wyrd: Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer”. The album demonstrated singer and lyricist Martin Walkyier’s deep held beliefs in Wyrdism, Anglo-Saxon spirituality, Celtic mysticism and paganism. Musically the album reflected composer Andy Sneap’s predilection at that time for increasingly lengthy and progressively technical thrash metal songs. Shortly before the album was recorded, former Holosade guitarist Simon Jones was recruited into the band as an additional lead and rhythm guitarist.
‘Dreamweaver’ is the ultimate example that thrash metal can be more ambitious and innovative than more deep. It has thrashing madness within a complex structure of layers of wonderful riffs, it has a great lyrics and hypnotic atmosphere, and it’s a must have for any thrasher. Amaznig album, one of the best metal albums ever made.
Martin Walkyier Andy Sneap Simon Jones Frazer Craske Simon Negus
It is a mistake to assume that events far apart in time are thereby separate. All things are connected as in the finest web of a spider. The slightest movement on any thread can be discerned from all points in the web.