Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Growing Old Is An Honor

We must learn to remember that growing old is an honor ; we earn those grey hairs as we grow and entwine into the world. Oh, Grimnir knows we may need our masks to move about in the world of unfriends, but all old things rejoice and come to recognize us, the new kids on the block, as we grow old. Done right, done properly, our maturity properly pursued, we ripen, we become the effervescence of conviviality shared in dozens and hundreds of symposia and sumbles, if we let our heart feel out and access what free expanse large mind is capable of. The more I pray, mind-drift love to love in adoration and will to hale in whole, how I mature.

Singers of Soma!

Singers of Soma! Songsmiths of the sweet, fennel- and camomile-fed mead! Wax thy windswept minds, gyrate in the cosmic tumble, dilate thy expanses with rippling-out horizons sweeping past the stars! O ancient ones, who long ago the heavens' open portals contemplated, letting mind become big mind, and heart big heart, you found the skaldic speech to sing the divine in every thing, sing on, and speak our hidden wizard-riddles found in day or from beloved night! Hallowed, held in awe, and venerated -- rightly so! For noble is the mind that freely wanders in its wonder. Wondrous are riddles laid out in sweet verse! Royal is that heart taking its lotus throne, surveying all in blissful leisure and benevolence! Rightful is that high, human place, lord of stars, humble servant of divine expanses, made noble with breadth of love extended out to embrace all things! Web-tenders, strumming on the tendril-harp that hangs between the stars and every thing within the heavens' grasp, attending to attunement to beyonds beyond mundane and everyday concerns! Not that those are unprofound, O sages of the mystic mead, but when opaque, conceal their essence : you encrystal, open eyes transparent to their window-skin, within which spin the wooly, tangled lights of heaven's torches!

Throw Your Weight In -- Where It Matters

It is necessary to resist and struggle with someone you love over important issues, where it matters, and not simply cave in order to create peace. Peace, while important, is not so important it is worth caving over where important values will be sacrificed in the process. If you let someone you love do something stupid or counterproductive without even so much as a struggle, how much do you love them? It may sound "authoritarian" to speak of "letting" or "not letting" someone else do something, but sometimes you need to exercise the authority you do have, from within your power, to do good, and here it would be foolish to not do so, because people do not always make the wisest choices, and people often need to be strongly challenged to bring out their best -- or at least their better.

This is the lesson I've learned by listening to my mother in struggle with others. She often is right, and it often is taken as authoritarian by them, and that perception is just a cop-out if in fact -- as it most often is -- it is simply love in the form of tough-love. There are times where there is no point having any weight if you don't throw it around -- for good. The world has plenty of weight of its own, so if you don't throw in yours, how will you ever help tilt things in a good way? Should one behave as if one were weightless simply for a peace which in fact is capitulation of significant values?

There are times and places where love demands you hold your ground and stubbornly refuse to allow another to go against their best interests -- just as yes, there are times and places where you must let people make their own mistakes and learn from them. It's true that ultimately one has no strict control either way, but it is not respecting their agency if their decision is not tough enough to withstand serious scrutiny and dogged struggle : let them develop their agency in a tougher medium and come out with a more honed will.

It's not that we shouldn't be concerned about authoritarianism -- the imposition of will upon another that is arbitrary, ego-driven, and not in their broadest best interests -- we should. But will and the clash of wills is an important part of life, and we do not help people develop their agency if we surrender before their merest assertion. Let assertion be steeled in strong will and clash of wills, where it matters. And yes, where we throw our weight around, it damn well better matter, and we damn well better have scrupulously examined our own motivations to ensure their purity. And there is no point to strife for strife's sake, or giving others hell out of either pettiness or selfishness. But there is a place in genuine frith for strong, loving assertion of will.

Be Choosy : Attune to Your Good Arrangement

Attunement and misalignment figure as important factors in our happiness or lack thereof : some of the world's problems are external and economic, but many have to do with people not finding their home,  and remaining estranged from their nature(s), placing themselves where they do not belong rather than where they do. This "where" is not just a matter of place in space, but navigation of the web of possibilities. Many things that present themselves ought to be sidestepped, disidentified, left aside. We belong where we belong. Love is basic. There is a place in the heart where you are home, and one must use this as a homing device to move closer to where one belongs. 

It is not that you cannot explore, but that you must keep returning home, and in that way remaining fidelitous ; while on one's travels, one must be able to identify one's kind amongst the multitudes and distinguish these folks from others, to whom, however charming or intriguing, one does not belong. Step too far afield and you can lose your critical mass and momentum, which is your core. You must hold to your home even as you travel widely. One must maintain the seed-pattern from dispersal even as one must enrich from its consolidation with crosspollination. One must braid in life, gathering and twining the essential, and pulling in new elements on that basis and structure.

There is the distribution of the world the way it is, and there is the distribution of the world the way it could be in the future -- a vast pool of sacred sharing --, but the former is all we've got for now, the material out of which to weave our lives. And from that distribution, we have to pick the best elements and best people to collage into our bouquet. For time is not infinite, and we ought not impoverish ourselves, nor our potential happiness. If there are people out there who could enrich our finite life, then we ought to seek and be with that enrichment, and not impoverish ourselves out of some narrow sense of charity whose effects are uncertain. Many live surrounded by wealth but partake of none of it. Many hunger globed about by fruit they either fail to recognize or disdain to allow themselves. Happiness is not a given, although much may be given, for we may squander the resources we do have, or drown the spark of light within us, instead of feeding it, nibble by nibble, with oil to fuel its illumination. Yet it is imperative we give those we love the greatest, truest happiness we can muster, for then the happiness may be multiplied. There is no guarantee that in dark times, prior to the restoration of Frodi's Frith, all our talents will be recognized and utilized, so we must do our best to disseminate our gifts the best we can, and preserve them. They are a net with which we may draw in many akin to us. Beauty that is genuine, especially that which comes from within, ought be respected, and given its due weight. There is an arrangement in which we can flourish, even under bad times, if we will seek it, and let it unfold out of our soulfulness, rather than let the world's warpings poison our imagination ; nor ought we think all arrangements equal, plunging ourselves in with indifference. Who we call to us, how well they will hold and preserve the treasury, holding every investment, endowment, and subsidy therefrom as precious and not to be squandered, but utilized to enrich capacities, so the treasury might be added unto and further enjeweled, makes a difference. Those who come who would waste from our treasury, and drain it to no good end, feeding the worst and not the best in themselves, feeding their withering and not their furthering, ought not be allowed to be sinks. For it is by pooling the best of what we have, and not our worst, that we enrich each other. But if there are toasts to be had, whereby gathering we might pour our smiling into each other and drink of our laughter, then that ought happen, and it is a gift unto the world, however small. For things are pulling together or fraying apart, and that which shall cohere shall prosper. That which drains not but drinketh full to fully feed has earned what subsidy we might afford, aside from our self-reliance, and that of our kin and what kith we have pooled, but that which would scatter to the winds what has been carefully gathered treats vital glume as mere husk, and belongs not in our silos. There are silos of the heart whereby those willing to save the circle, nourishing and nurturing its vital cycles, may feed. But those who would break the circle should not be given vittles, other than castoffs, what bread a beggar might be given from hospitality. But let even the lowliest beggar observe the mutual regard of hospitality, and turn not thief upon the house. Even the lowliest, if of good will, has something to add to that treasury from which he might seek to feed. A gift ever calls for a gift, not as petty payment, but to fund the sacred circle itself. Let one take full stock of one's treasury, and account for every use thereof, as if a gift from the Gods, for all is. If we would tarry a while a hoard from the Great Flows, we ourselves ought render reason for such grant, and what good may come therefrom. The Gods are ever willing to fund what good may be eked from the world, if we will render good and due account. Much is given on credit whose dividends are carefully watched from within the heart of things, who whisper back and give account to the Earth, and all the Gods. Frith may be enlarged, and its treasury extended to all who are capable of it, but let not a cent be rendered unto Utgard, or any who hail therefrom. All initial gifts are loans, returned in coin of good will ; he who returns ill for good will is no friend. A mistake, small in effect, here and there is no big deal, for all stumble, but he who falters with the precious is more risk than gain.

Consolidate Your Joy

Great healing is possible through love : turn your shamanic abilities inward, and love this beautiful animal. Your care and tending it needs. Be true to the love within you. 

Disidentify from that which is not you. Reconfigure around your core and throw out the irrelevant. Be true to your beauty and tenderness.

Too much of life is wasted in fear, and even worse, dread. Learn to enjoy. It is meant to be enjoyed. Do your joywork, which fundamentally consists in pruning that which is not joy, and discarding husk from glume. Then enjoy the glume! But it also means, take time to prepare the feast ; one is worthy of a feast, and the feast is worthy of preparation. Give it due affection and attentiveness : nurture the feast. Then enjoy it. 

Maintain lustiness for life and gusto. Build and replenish and restore gusto : it is your very best resource. This even while life will disappoint many of one's ambitions. Life is not here to fulfill one's ambitions, though it often will meet prime needs, and that often abundantly. Your ambition is subject to your portion of fortune, which ultimately, despite one's best efforts at gambling, is beyond one's control. One's adventures are not guaranteed, even though they are often quite worthy of trial. Sometimes persistence wins the prize in time, sometimes it does not. Ventures are variable in the world's turning. One ought achieve what one can achieve, if it is worthwhile. Yet what is fundamental are not the vagaries of risk, but the authenticity of one's true needs in life : for love, for belonging, for rest and rejuvenation and nourishment, and last but not least, authentic enjoyment and fruition. One must fruit in order to live, but the distribution of one's fruits remains variable, despite how vital their fate to one : here one must develop the deep, abiding faith of the oak in its acorns -- somehow oaks will continue in the world, some variation, some roll of the acorn dice -- while others will worthily feed many, and much become compost besides. There is great beauty and poignant generosity in the oaks. Surely there is wise and old gusto there! Is it nurtured on melancholy? Perhaps. But tempered on faith, perhaps its very lifeblood. Much good comes out of abiding in enjoyment of being. And that is good.

Revel in the sumptuousness of the body's rich experiences, and how it may indraw, as into a vortex, the vibrant variety of the world's singing. Enjoy the deep relaxation of laziness, whether anyone thinks you merit it or not, never ceding your kingship to any, whether they believe all are kings or not. Stay true to that kingdom and its democratic sovereignty -- a democracy not of submission but of multiplication of talent and gifts. Sell out your essential nobility to no one : it is your birthright to reach for with your good will and worthy deeds, and let none say otherwise -- we all have it. Avoid scathe that degrades it, even at good cost -- you will be glad you did. Don't buy into a thrall's worldview, but remain nonetheless a humble king, true to the earth and its pleasures. 

Consolidate your virtues and strengths. Let them nurture your deficiencies into strengths, and not let the latter degrade your strengths. Consolidate, and sum up good things. That is worthy.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Frey's Youth

Frey's Youth

as portrayed in Saxo Grammaticus' History of the Danes, compiled here by Siegfried Goodfellow from Oliver Elton's translation, with some original translations at significant joints between segments to tidy up the seams. All of this is straight from the lore.

Part I

Frey's Birth

    Njord's woman bore a son, Frey, known as the Generous, who became from his very cradle and earliest childhood such a darling of all, that he was not suffered even to step or stand on the ground, but was continually cherished in people's laps and kissed. Thus he was not assigned to one upbringer only, but was in a manner everybody's fosterling.

Frey elected King of the Elves

    Frey, aged seven, was elected as king [1] by the unanimous decision of the Elves. But they held an assembly first, and judged that the minority of the king should be taken in charge by guardians, lest the sovereignty should pass away owing to the boyishness of the ruler. For one and all paid such respect to the name of Njord, that the royalty was bestowed on his son despite his tender years. He showed himself so generous that he doubled the ancient pay of the warriors: a fashion of bounty which then was novel. For he did not, as despots do, expose himself to the vulgar allurements of vice, but strove to covet ardently whatsoever he saw was nearest honour; to make his wealth public property [2]; to surpass all other men in bounty, to forestall them all in offices of kindness; and, hardest of all, to conquer envy by virtue. By this means the youth soon won such favour with all, that he not only equalled in renown the honours of his forefathers, but surpassed the most ancient records of kings.

Frey's Guardianship Under the Sons of Ivaldi

    Volund, also, and Egil and eight other men of mark were not only entrusted with the guardianship of the king, but also granted authority to administer the realm under him. These men were rich in strength and courage, and endowed with ample gifts of mind as well as of body [3]. Thus the state of the Elves was governed with the aid of regents [4] until the time when the king should be a man.

Frey Given Over to the Giants

    But when he was in his twelfth year, Volund and Egil disowned his sway, and tried to rebel openly. As a result [5],  the yield of crops was ruined by most inclement weather, and a mighty dearth of corn befell. Victuals began to be scarce, and the commons were distressed with famine. Whether it was that the soil had too little rain, or that it was too hard baked, the crops were slack, and the fields gave but little produce; so that the land lacked victual, and was worn with a weary famine. The stock of food began to fail, and no help was left to stave off hunger. Then, at the proposal of Egil and of Volund, it was provided by a decree of the people that the old men and the tiny children should be slain; that all who were too young to bear arms should be taken out of the land, and only the strong should be vouchsafed their own country; that none but able-bodied soldiers and husbandmen should continue to abide under their own roofs and in the houses of their fathers. When Egil and Volund brought news of this to their mother Gambaruk, she saw that the authors of this infamous decree had found safety in crime. Condemning the decision of the assembly, she said that it was wrong to relieve distress by murder of kindred, and declared that a plan both more honourable and more desirable for the good of their souls and bodies would be, to preserve respect towards their parents and children, and choose by lot men who should quit the country. And if the lot fell on old men and weak, then the stronger should offer to go into exile in their place, and should of their own free will undertake to bear the burden of it for the feeble. But those men who had the heart to save their lives by crime and impiety, and to prosecute their parents and their children by so abominable a decree, did not deserve life; for they would be doing a work of cruelty and not of love. Finally, all those whose own lives were dearer to them than the love of their parents or their children, deserved but ill of their country.These words were reported to the assembly, and assented to by the vote of the majority [5]. So the fortunes of all were staked upon the lot and those upon whom it fell were doomed to be banished. Thus those who had been loth to obey necessity of their own accord had now to accept the award of chance. So they sailed first to Bleking, and then, sailing past Moring, they came to anchor at Gothland. In the end they landed at Rugen, and, abandoning their ships, began to march overland. They crossed and wasted a great portion of the world.

    Thus his guardians, called up in the draft, deserted with the army into exile ;  therefore, the brothers Westmar and Kolo were sent for to minister to the  raising of the king. The wife of Koll was Gotwar, one of Gullveig's aliases, who used to paralyse the most eloquent and fluent men by her glib and extraordinary insolence; for she was potent in wrangling, and full of resource in all kinds of disputation. Words were her weapons; and she not only trusted in questions, but was armed with stubborn answers. No man could subdue this woman, who could not fight, but who found darts in her tongue instead. Some she would argue down with a flood of impudent words, while others she seemed to entangle in the meshes of her quibbles, and strangle in the noose of her sophistries; so nimble a wit had the woman. Moreover, she was very strong, either in making or cancelling a bargain, and the sting of her tongue was the secret of her power in both. She was clever both at making and at breaking leagues; thus she had two sides to her tongue, and used it for either purpose.

The Torpor of the Land and the Crimes of the Giants

    Westmar had twelve sons, three of whom had the same name — Grep [7] in common. These three men were conceived at once and delivered at one birth, and their common name declared their simultaneous origin. They were exceedingly skillful swordsmen and boxers. The sons of Westmar and Koll, being ungrown in years and bold in spirit, let their courage become recklessness and devoted their guilt-stained minds to foul and degraded orgies. Their behaviour was so outrageous and uncontrollable that they ravished other men's brides and daughters, and seemed to have outlawed chastity and banished it to the stews [8]. Nay, they defiled the couches of matrons, and did not even refrain from the bed of virgins. A man's own chamber was no safety to him: there was scarce a spot in the land but bore traces of their lust. Husbands were vexed with fear, and wives with insult to their persons: and to these wrongs folk bowed. No ties were respected, and forced embraces became a common thing. Love was prostituted, all reverence for marriage ties died out, and lust was greedily run after [9]. And the reason of all this was a torpor and stasis that took over men's bodies, for people stopped working the land, and their bodies befriended those vices which flow out in all directions from such stupor [10].

    Meanwhile, the land of the Elves, where the tillers laboured less and less, and all traces of the furrows were covered with overgrowth, began to bristle with dense, horrifying stands of deformed trees [11], as its pleasant, native earth had its grassy crops stripped away. What were once acres fertile in grain were now seen to be dotted with stakes resembling trees, and where of old the tillers turned the earth up deep and scattered the huge clods, there sprang up dark woodlands covering the fields. Had not these lands remained untilled and desolate with long overgrowth, the tenacious roots of trees could never have shared the soil of one and the same land with the furrows made by the plough. Thus the present generation was amazed to behold that it exchanged a soil which could once produce grain for one only fit to grow pinecones, and the plough-handle and the cornstalks for a landscape studded with gallows-like trees.

    This idleness brought wantonness among Frey's courtiers, and stagnation begot lewdness, which they displayed in the most abominable crimes. For they would draw some men up in the air on ropes, and torment them, pushing their bodies as they hung, like a ball that is tossed; or they would put a kid's hide under the feet of others as they walked, and, by stealthily pulling a rope, trip their unwary steps on the slippery skill in their path; others they would strip of their clothes, and lash with sundry tortures of stripes; others they fastened to pegs, as with a noose, and punished with mock-hanging. They scorched off the beard and hair with tapers; of others they burned the hair of the groin with a brand. Only those maidens might marry whose chastity they had first deflowered. Strangers they battered with bones; others they compelled to drunkenness with immoderate draughts, and made them burst. No man might give his daughter to wife unless he had first bought their favour and goodwill. None might contract any marriage without first purchasing their consent with a bribe. Moreover, they extended their abominable and abandoned lust not only to virgins, but to the multitude of matrons indiscriminately. Thus a twofold madness incited this mixture of wantonness and frenzy [12]. Guests and strangers were proffered not shelter but revilings [13]. All these maddening mockeries did this insolent and wanton crew devise, and thus under a boy-king freedom fostered licence. For nothing prolongs reckless sin like the procrastination of punishment and vengeance. This unbridled impudence of the soldiers ended by making the king detested, not only by foreigners, but even by his own people, for the Elves resented such an arrogant and cruel rule. Inward resentment vexed the hearts of Elves, secretly indeed, but all the more bitterly.

[1] Grimnismal 5 :  Álfheim Frey / gáfu í árdaga / tívar at tannféi, "The Gods gave Frey, in days of yore,  Alfheim as a tooth-gift."

[2] Note that already, even prior to the Mill, Frey is linked with a kind of communism, making his treasury open to all.

[3] Volundarkvida, prose introduction :  Völundr ... var hagastr maðr, svá at menn viti, í fornum sögum, "Volund was the most artistic/skillful of men that men knew in the old sagas."

[4] Volund is called vísi alfa, a "leader of the elves", as well as alfa ljóði, "prince of the elvish people".

[5] This folk theme of bad weather and loss of fertility due to strife amongst the fairy-folk appears again and again in European literature, and is accurately reflected in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream : "But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport. / Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, / As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea / Contagious fogs; which falling in the land / Have every pelting river made so proud / That they have overborne their continents: / The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain, / The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn / Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard; / The fold stands empty in the drowned field, / And crows are fatted with the murrion flock; / The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud, / And the quaint mazes in the wanton green / For lack of tread are undistinguishable: / The human mortals want their winter here; / No night is now with hymn or carol blest: / Therefore the moon, the governess of floods, / Pale in her anger, washes all the air, / That rheumatic diseases do abound: / And thorough this distemperature we see / The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts / Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose, / And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown / An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds / Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer, / The childing autumn, angry winter, change / Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world, / By their increase, now knows not which is which: / And this same progeny of evils comes / From our debate, from our dissension...".

[6] The power of this woman in the law-assembly is noteworthy ; Paulus Diaconus says of Gambara that she was a mulier quantum inter suos et ingenio acris et consiliis provida; de cuius in rebus dubiis prudentia non minimum confidebant, "woman of such sagacious nature that her counsel was prophetic ; of whom in critical matters, her wisdom was relied on in a way anything but minor." In Germania 8, Tacitus says of women, inesse quin etiam sanctum aliquid et providum putant: nec aut consilia earum aspernantur, aut responsa negligunt. Vidimus sub divo Vespasiano Veledam diu apud plerosque numinis loco habitam. "They believe them to have a divine and prophetic nature : nor do they decline their counsel, nor disregard their replies. We saw in the open air, in the days of Vespasian, Veleda, regarded by most as of divine rank." Tacitus also speaks of a people far to the East of Sweden who are femina dominatur, "ruled by a woman", and who share with some of the Swedes the custom of Matrem deum venerantur, "worshipping the Mother of the Gods". Indeed, both Paulus Diaconus as well as the Origo Gentis Langobardorum invoke a tradition whereby Gambara appealed to Frigg, Odin's wife, the Mother of the Gods. Adam of Bremen independently avers in his Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum that Postea longis terrarum spatiis regnant Sueones, "Beyond the boundless regions of land over which the Swedes rule," lies a terram feminarum, "land of women". One of the scholia states that Anundum ...navigio in terram pervenit feminarum, "Anund arrived by ship in the land of women" ; Anund or Onund, as evidenced in Volundarkvida, is another name for Volund.

[7] This is a giant name, demonstrating that Westmar and Kolo were giants.

[8] Note the dark carnivalesque misrule with which the giants here overturn everything Frey is known for : Freyr ... mey hann ne gretir / ne mannz kono, / oc leysir or haptom hvern (Lokasenna 37), "Frey ... maidens/virgins nor men's wives causes he to weep, and loosens every bond."

[9] The coincidence between the waning of love and the waning of the land's fertility is noteworthy. The forcing of love -- which is not love at all -- will not force the land to be fertile, another lesson.

[10] There is a fascinating connection here between healthy sexuality and working the land, as if they mutually reinforced each other. Indeed, working the land is literally a labour of love, and thus reinforces love. But love is also needed for the land to blossom. Failing to be in rhythm and tending with the earth produces unnatural lusts -- which let us note are solely defined as those which are coercive. Working the land has a regulative effect on people, putting them in touch with the seasons, which lend a sense of proportion through their rhythms. In this one passage, we get a furtive inview into an often hidden Indo-European philosophy connecting love and the land. (Indeed, such a sense goes well beyond the Indo-European peoples and is inclusive of many archaic peoples.) The torpor is also due to the fact that this terrible weather and loss of crops happens, according to Saxo, during a time when Snow was considered king -- in other words, when Winter ruled over all, and the seasons ceased to turn and change. Shivering and shuddering in the freezing weather, the lack of the active life, and particularly of tending the land, stirs up cold, sadistic impulses. Consent and celebration, on the other hand, are natural attributes of love.

[11] As the giants move in and impose their cruel, cold behavior on the landscape, the fruiting fields of the elves begin to resemble more and more the barren Iron Woods -- picture here the horrific, dark trees of the maleficent forest in Disney's Snow White. This is not to say that Alfheim did not have its share of lush, alpine woodlands, but the picture painted here is of bent, dead trees spreading pallor and darkness ; there is as much resemblance between these deformed remnants of trees and the former groves and orchards as there is between the giants' mass rapes and genuine, heartfelt love.

[12] Saxo is obviously educing a second source here, a variation on the house-of-horrors theme above. Notice the cognate similarity on some levels with the riotous behavior of Penelope's suitors in the Odyssey.

[13] According to Tacitus, to refuse hospitality was a nefas, a violation of divine law. Indeed, Havamal, Odin's words to men, begins with the codes of hospitality. We are getting a very clear picture of the brute behavior of the giants, who lack all virtues and manners of civilized beinsg living in organized communities : they fail to respect matrimony, virginity or hospitality, and they take joy in the sufferings and torture of others.