Iron and Blood

Like the title? I do. To me it conjures images of ancient battles and the cries of war before it became corrupted even more.

Of people, men and women and dual spirited, who lived hard and rough lives. Surviving with skill and cooperation, laughing and loving, knowing that life was truly a fragile thing. Taking little for granted finding the joy and sorrow and fighting for every moment. These are the ancestors, not just the ones folks like to claim.

That famous person you can claim blood to or with? Awesome. But what about your great great great grandparents who farmed and fought and survived? Do you know their names? Do you think of them? Without those simple members who lived none of us would be here. And I often think of them, their strength to just simply carry on.

Now before this goes any further I suppose I should offer a TW/CW of some kind, but fuck it. Either stop reading now, or deal with it.

Because now let’s move to this age, this time. Humanity has become more parasite than symbiote living not for each other but for the individual. We are soon to be a dying species and most of the members are either too apathetic to care or too stupid to know better (flat-earthers I’m looking at you).

We let hate get out of hand, turning on the different. I could go on and on about all the possibilities of that, but I’m going to focus on a single thing. The overwhelming change in humanity that is the tsunami of depression that spreads over us like a plague. Such things have been around for years, but like a cancer it has grown and spread almost as if we are all drinking from the same poisoned water source that warped our genetic makeup and we spread it to the next generation. In the United States alone there are twelve year olds commiting suicide! Teens on such heavy drugs that they are being committed to mental institutions, adults who take their own lives and their own families saying, “We had no idea”.

Some of us are strong, led lives that were forged in trauma and abuse, been through hellscapes so many couldn’t fathom. At least that’s what is said. We stand and we face the day, few knowing the iron was forged in blood. That wisdom comes from experience yes, but madness as well. Pain is both the result and constant companion for those who led/lead such lives. And when you look now the signs are everywhere, “Get Help, Talk to Someone, We’re Here”. So many slogans, so many re-posting the meme’s, so many fucking promises. Yet those death numbers continue to rise.

Why doesn’t a person with thoughts speak up? Seek out help? Hmmmm… let’s ponder this for a moment. Could be a generation thing. Up to and including most of Gen X, you handled it on your own. Guys especially because showing that type of emotion was weakness so you learned to bury it deep, shut down emotionally. In some families they would beat you for such thoughts, to toughen you up. You suck it up and do what you have to. Gods forgive if it were found out by the students in school that a person was not only different but having problems, it became a mixture of blood,water, and sharks.

Now there’s this “No Tolerance” policy on bullying in many different schools, but guess what? It’s a joke to placate the parents and does absolutely nothing for the students except cause the bullies to escalate when they get their “punishment”. Which by the way is to apologize and write a paper on proper behaviour. I wish I was joking, as I have looked into multiple schools in multiple states, and this is the policy with little deviance.

Every day is a battle for these people folks. Every. FUCKING. Day. Yes, medications, therapy, and other techniques add weapons to the armory but in the long run it is the individual who has to keep fighting every day. So when you ask why don’t they just talk? Because a past of ridicule, being ignored, told that they were a being a burden or problem. I can hear so many now, “I would never…”, well guess what? Your body posture, tone, and everything else often say it for you.

Iron is our armor. Forged in blood. Blood that to often is our own. So is it any wonder that after battling for so long and so hard that so many fail? They fight on alone in their minds. Platitudes, hopes, prayers are nice and just fucking useless. Sometimes you have to actually do something and show that you are there for them.

Sometimes… it doesn’t matter. The demons win and the battle is lost. The pain can no longer be withstood. So, yes Karen, it was all about you when you didn’t even spend 3 minutes speaking to them, they did it just to hurt you or for attention. Fuck you.

Sometimes all you hear is goodbye. Sometimes you hear nothing at all. Sometimes? There’s another morning.

Modern Rökkatru Warriors

20 per day. That was the number of military suicides in 2018 (both veteran and active duty). Not friendly fire. Not enemy attack. Suicide. Does the word make you uncomfortable? Suicide. By the modern warrior. That’s 18% of suicides everyday in the US. And yes, I will be making citations at the end of this piece.

Now, what in the name of Hel does that have to do with the Rökkatru? Over the years I’ve been looking into spirituality and the Modern Warrior, for personal reasons at first and growing into more as sad and worrisome numbers came to light. As a ordained minister, a role I do take seriously, I got very curious as to where spirituality fit into this equation for the human state. So I have been looking into that and what did I find? Sadly very very little.

So I question others, talk to people, both BNP’s (Big Nose Pagans) and the solitary practitioners. I have and will still attempt to get my own information, but here and now with the state of the country I feel that something does need to be said on this. Why? Because at least a quarter of the Pagans I know are either directly military (active or veteran) or come from military families. In the Northern Traditions this number is higher by more than a little. So these are people I care about, and they are at risk. I know for a fact that I am. Later for that though.

Add in the LGBTQ+ and Non-binary factors and numbers climb. I was surprised to see the crossover of these factors but they were plain to see. Worrisome is a pale way to describe the sheer chance at suicide among lone and outed Modern Warriors, not just the actual successes but the sheer number of attempts. All the while the modern climate in the US is regressing faster than a Senator with a Diaper and Mommy Fetish (no kink-shaming intended).

What does it all have to do with the Rökkatru? We ARE the outcast, the shunned, the lost, the Other. We alone are at staggering risk of losing the battle in ourselves. Add to that factors mentioned above and others like POC, and the risk becomes staggering. Waves of hopelessness crashing down on a spirit, crushing despair. Even the strongest can only stand for so long. “What can I do to help this?” I asked. What can WE do?

Here is what I have found. Faith and spirituality, belief can be a rather important factor because it makes us feel less outcast. To find a Path for the heart and soul that we feel called to and belong on is a huge thing in and of itself. To walk that path and KNOW it is the right one for you can be a shield certainly against those horrible waves, holding you upright for longer. And you still slip and slide because you are fighting your own mind that is actively tearing you down from within.

So the Modern Warrior of the Pagan paths have a touch more of an advantage because for many, they walk with and/or among their Divine. But the battle can still be lost for many reasons. From family disowning you to your friends and community turning their backs on you

, to just a streak of misfortune. Financial, divorce, mental health, all factors in the battle.

What then is the answer, especially for those who are even different from the “normal” societal outcasts? Oh I wondered that for a very long time myself but the answer was always there, around me. Community, but community of YOUR choosing. Accept absolutely nothing less than acceptance and know it is ok not to immediately trust. Even if it is a virtual community, it can still be YOURS.

And for the Rökkatru, there are no covens or circles or kindreds. There is only Tribe. A Tribe that measures you by deed and soul. A Tribe where you are safe to be your amazingly Wyrd and wondrous self! Where the supposed “monsters” gather, where the laughter of giant and troll and Völva ring together around the fires. When one of the Tribe begins to slide, the Tribe is there. Some to hold them up. Others to stand beside and deflect. And more still to stand in front, ready to help fight any demons lurking in the waves and storm. Is it perfect? Hel no. But it is community, and that alone will keep us going sometimes.

“Who would mourn me, miss me? They would be better without me being a chain around them, holding them back. I have no TRUE worth, it’s all smoke and lies. I deserve to be forgotten and left to rot away. I’m a monster for what I think and feel deep inside, I shouldn’t be allowed to live. That thing in the mirror, it’s so disgusting how could any want it? Love is a lie just being used against me by those that want something. I will never be or amount to being truly anything. I am a joke at best and a failure if I’m lucky, for that’s the kindest words for me. Soon they will scream IMPOSTOR and drag me even further down and I will deserve it. I don’t deserve the gift of life with the things that I have done.” Words, each a cut. A blow to the body. A stab in the heart. Words that haunt and tear each of us who fight. How do I know what it is that goes through the mind of Warriors and Modern Warriors alike? Because these are just a few of the thoughts I face everyday.

You see dear readers I face a multitude of mental issues and I fight them. With my Doctor and medication, with my family, with my Faith, and with my TRIBE. The Rökkatru. For I Believe, I believe my Deities walk with me. My ancestors walk with me. Everyday. I have ideations, and I know they aren’t going to go away. So I fight, and when my Will is strained I have Family and Tribe.

Not everyone is as blessed in their fight. Many are lost and alone. Many, too many lose the fight. The LGBTQ+ teen that comes out to their parents expecting love and is thrown to the street. The Soldier who comes home and just can’t stop seeing what they had to do to survive. The non-binary individual that just can’t be accepted for their choice by their church. What is the commonality between them? They are alone. Feel abandoned. How many of us know that feeling too well? Suicide. It’s inviting to just quit, to lay down arms and let it take you when you are so very tired of the fight. Peace. Why fight? Because those voices? Those thoughts? ARE LIES!

You will fight and MAKE a place! My Tribe, the Rökkatru, we have made a place and found each other! Make YOUR place! Whether it is 3 people or 3000 does NOT matter! Gather your Tribe/Pack/Congregation/Circle/Coven what-the-fuck-ever it is that YOU need! Why? Because just maybe they need it too.

Hail the Rökkr! Hail the Rökkatru! Hail the Tribe!

References:

Jaimie Lusk, Steven K. Dobscha, Marek Kopacz, Mary Frances Ritchie & Sarah Ono (2018) Spirituality, Religion, and Suicidality Among Veterans: A Qualitative Study, Archives of Suicide Research, 22:2, 311-326,DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2017.1340856

Amato, J., Kayman, D., Lombardo, M., & Goldstein, M. (2017). Spirituality and Religion: Neglected Factors in Preventing Veteran Suicide? Pastoral Psychology66(2), 191–199. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-016-0747-8

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/06/21/va-reveals-its-veteran-suicide-statistic-included-active-duty-troops.html

Daggers in the Dark

TL;DR- This is me purging some personal things. If you read this, be aware of that and no, I am not going to name specifics… much.

It is a painful and difficult to thing to trust. To offer up yourself to another and let them into your walls. Even more so for those burned deeply in the past. Nearly the animal that is constantly abused by a human to get into the idea that all humans are bad and will cause pain. But as social creatures human can’t emulate animals, we need others in order to be healthy. Yet when you are turned on often enough it becomes a monumental task to allow yourself to be part of a group, let alone letting a single individual in.

Lokeans have it worse than most due to the stigmata that goes along with following our patron. “Your Wyrd is tainted”, from one Kindred. “You’ll never be able to keep frith”, from another. Oh, the head-butting contest I got into with the Chieftain of the Jotunsbane Kindred of Kansas City was grand. Now, maybe it is personal experience, maybe not, but often being upfront with others about your path with Loki creates an uphill climb for us to surmount. And if we decide the person/people to be worth it we make that climb over and over.

But what of other’s proving their selves to us? What about showing that they can be trusted? For those who earn a Lokeans loyalty we will be the dagger in the dark on your behalf, wield words like scalpels against those who speak out against them if they are there or not. Yes, we will be the first in line to kick you in the ass usually with blunt truth, but damn any that would dare come after those we care about. Can the same be said for the others for us? For some that answer is yes. They will speak for us in our absence, fight to defend us when we are unable to defend ourselves.

Now we Lokean tend towards capricious natures, not all but enough. I am no exception. My attention is about as stable as Ratatoskr. I am a dreamer and get will get swept away in discussions of what ifs and dreams and possibilities. I despise small talk as honestly I find it boring. But due to this and mixed with a self-obliviousness my words can cause misunderstandings, and when this happens I own it. I step up and say that is not what I meant, I am sorry if it caused misunderstanding, and ask if I can do anything to make it better.

Yet, even then, even when it becomes convenient, others seem to not hesitate to use a Lokean as a sacrificial goat. Laying the blame often at our feet for things we had no control over simply because we walk with Loki. We must be agents of chaos, right? So the most obvious way to fix everything is to oust the one that obviously had to be responsible for it. As they say in the Southern United States, “Bless your heart”.

Lokeans tend to be catalysts. If a situation is stable and healthy, then there isn’t a problem (well none more than usual). But if that situation is unstable or toxic, well it will tend to explode around us. Is the Lokean really responsible? Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is I have seen it happen and heard of it from others too often for it to be coincidence. Our resilience granted by Papa Flamehair, can be a burden in times like this because in these instances where things explode we may have become close to others, let others in, allowed trust to form.

Now, even in such explosions and the resulting fallout we survive. We move on, learn our lessons, and grow. On rare occasion though, there are those who will turn on us that we never see coming. That is when the dagger gets turned on us, deeply and without warning. And it is a betrayal beyond words. Personally there are a great many things I can forgive and work past, but even I have certain “DO NOT CROSS” lines. And if one of those lines are crossed, I will shunt you from my life to the point I will force myself to even forget your existence. I don’t actively seek revenge for such anymore, I’m too old for that sort of thing. You simply cease to exist to me.

Now that may seem odd for a Lokean, but you see I have learned the Long Game. I have learned a few secrets in my time here, secrets that are as gray as the path we walk. And patience, despite the difficulty of such. Life tends to take it’s toll as it draws on, hence the idea of the Rule of Three. I am no Gothi, no Priest of Loki, and I don’t even claim the title of Elder. I do however resonate with the term Grumpy Old Lokean and Grey-beard because both are accurate. But it goes back to being able to be patient and wait for the long game.

Right now, yes I just went through a situation recently. It was bad and continues to have ripples, but it has revealed many toxic and potentially abusive sources that have been removed. And I thank Loki for showing the truth of things to me and mine and to many others. But my family continues to stay together and will remain so. I love my wife, my children, and I realize now that THEY are my Tribe.

And this will pass, it will. And forward on the journey we will continue. As it will for any other facing similar. It may seem like your world is crashing down around you. Like all you had is going away. And it probably is if you are Lokean. Loki will strip everything away so that all toxins are gone, abuse is removed from our path, and will tend to do so in a spectacular way. It is then up to us, as Lokeans, whether we sit in misery, or we continue on our way with grief and tears for what we lost.

The journey doesn’t end, and never will. Goals, destinations, and endings don’t matter because the experience, the lessons aren’t found with them, but on the way TO them.

For all Lokeans out there hurting right now, feel it. Let it hurt. Let the tears flow and remove the toxin from your soul. Get angry if you must. And if you are having thoughts of giving up for that peace and escape, I beg you don’t. You can feel that way, but acting upon it is a CHOICE. Choose to continue. Old Scarlip isn’t done with you yet.