I was hoping to limit this blog entry to (the highlights of) our hikes for 2017, but noticed my last “Heathen Hiking” entry left off in September of 2016 and didn’t included the handful of hikes that rounded out the year. These included a return to East Sooke Park, albeit to the Aylard Farms area in the southeastern section of the park, a trip up Mount Brule in Sooke’s Sea-to-Sea Park, a father-son expedition up the Sooke River with a stop at the old resort ruins, our first trip out to Mary Vine Falls near the Sooke Potholes, and of course one of our most epic hikes to date which saw us on the ferry over to Salt Spring Island in a marathon 40 km hike that carried us up Bruce Peak on the southwestern portion of the island, over to the it’s west coast, and then looping it (which required some pretty crazy bushwhacking at times) north along the coast and finally back around to Fulford Harbour just as the sun was setting and a real west coast rain began to fall. Our thanks to little Domo the dog, who insistently befriended us as we moved into the thick of it and guided us through some of the more uncertain stretches of the hike!
There are so many good images to share from those hikes, but with 2017 still ahead of us, here at two. This first is from my “Sooke River ruins” hike with my son,
And the second is from atop the aforementioned Bruce Peak (elevation 709 meters),
It was cool to be up above the clouds and the fog bank that was rolling in … almost reminiscent of the prairies in that you could see miles upon miles of uninterrupted miles upon miles. But speaking of the fog bank that rolled; it was quite the sight to see and to be honest, as my imagination played on the imagery it presented — in an apocalyptic, natural disaster sort of way — it even frightened me a bit … the sheer magnitude of the phenomenon! But really, you would have had to have been there.
Such was the end of 2016.
In 2017 we went on some 22 hikes that carried us a combined total of 543 km (337 miles); which is about the distance between the city of Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island here to Port Hardy, the last stop as one nears the northern tip! And the year began where it left off; with my (now) fiance and I catching the ferry over to Salt Spring Island to tackle it’s southeastern coast and then onward out to Ruckle’s Park at it’s eastern extreme.
We had spotted a fair share of bird’s of prey over the past year, eagles no exception, but all year I had longed to spot a bald eagle perched a top a tree for a really good picture. This was my “dream shot” as far as eagles went, but right at the beginning of the day, atop Reginald Hill, my fiance spotted two bald eagles about 200′ off, perched atop a tree the apex of which was basically eye-level with us! And you know, it really is like they say, “When something appears to good to be true … it can’t get any better!”
They have some really BIG trees on the Vancouver island here. This is not one of them.
While we expanded our range this year, breaking new ground on Salt Spring Island, heading as far out west as Sombrio Beach and as far north as Mount Provost in Duncan, the hills and mountains north of Sooke are a gift that just keeps on giving. Being a mere hour bus ride and then maybe a 5km walk to the nearest trail head, the place is basically in our backyard and offers a vast expanse of official parkland and “unbounded” back-country to be explored.
Some bemoan the blocking off and tearing up of the old roads that used to run through these hills — and now serve as speedy hiking arteries for penetration into more remote areas — reasoning that such has limited access for families that might enjoy a day out at some of the small lakes that dot the terrain. I on the other hand appreciate the fact that, while there certainly are some very nice places that families have convenient access to (eg. Thetis Lake), there are nevertheless some places that there is no convenient access to; Sheild’s Lake for example (image below). The lack of convenience keeps those predisposed to convenience, to doing whatever is the easiest as a matter of habit, away, which in turn helps preserve the (certainly relative) “sanctity” of such areas. It makes a difference (IMO) when you have to actually work to get there, cultivating an attitude similar to “pride of palace”.
Sheild’s Lake (no, I don’t keep mis-spelling that) is a beaut; nestled high up in the Sooke Mountain area, in fact due norther of Sooke Mountain, and hedged in by hills and mountains that rise up, amphitheater like, on all sides.
Lay the foundation for another Uppsala-style hof anyone?
Seriously though, it is a favourite spot for locals who, first, are actually willing to make the 10+ km hike in, loaded with gear and mostly uphill, and want to enjoy some back-country camping … away from all the rules to be sure, but all things considered, closer to common sense nevertheless. We would return within the week, loaded with gear, to do exactly that.
We would also return to Salt Spring Island, my son in tow, one more time in 2017 to explore Mount Erskine; due east of the town of Ganges on it’s western coast. The main attraction was the “fairy doors” that dot the park, built into the sides of random rocks and trees along it’s trails. The hike itself was only 13 km and thus a little on the slack side from what we are used to, but the fairy doors were interesting and in terms of the main viewpoint atop Erskine — looking north along Vancouver Island’s eastern coastline — it paid BIG for relatively little effort.
Our longest hike to date would have been the epic Bruce Peak (Salt Spring Isle) hike of late 2016 that I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. It measured out to be 39.9 km and carried us to an elevation of 903 meters. It was long. It was grueling. It was filled with uncertainty as the day wore on and the clouds grew ever darker. Man. Did I mention how much I appreciated that dog, Domo, who found us??? We made it back to Fulford Harbour just as the last light of day faded and the heavy rains began to fall; not to mention as the last ferry rounded the bend into the harbour headed towards the docks. Sigh. What an adventure! But in terms of at least distance, it was doomed to be outdone.
Around mid-May we decided to tackle what was less a trail hike and more a roadside marathon walk out to French Beach some 20 km west of Sooke; which itself measured in at 43 km over a 12 hour day. We saw some very nice sights as we hit a number of different points along the West Coast highway that day, but the sweeping vista …
The highlight of the day however was completely random and had to be marveled at with the naked eye alone or risk being missed out on altogether. We were on the return journey back to Sooke and had decided to “pull off” the road and down a trail into bush for a brief rest-stop. A turkey vulture swooped into the trees from the branches above, and then was immediately followed by a golden eagle … within about 100′ of us! And let me tell you, this bird was BIG, making the turkey vulture look like a mere crow in comparison. It’s wing span was well over 6′ and probably closer to 7′! It was SO big that, much like the aforementioned fog bank rolling into Fulford Harbour that day atop Bruce Peak, I actually felt a twinge of fear at the sight! Although unlike the fog bank, no imagination was necessary!
Oh! Speaking of twinges of fear, I mentioned in my last Heathen Hiking entry my confrontation with the Goldstream Trestle and the discovery that I had a fear of heights. Well, I finally made it over the sucker this year! I needed my fiance to hold my hand while I did it mind you (lol), but I made it over nevertheless! The old train-tracks carried on from there for a stretch until we came to a rock on which someone had written the words “turn back”. And so like all of the wise and intelligent people portrayed in your typical found footage movie, we “pressed on”. And soon after we came to a second (daunting) trestle. Word had it that some distance beyond this the tracks would pass through a tunnel, but in all honesty, I was already emotionally drained from my first trestle crossing and, quite simply, was not up to the (further) challenge. Which of course has the merit of leaving me with future challenges (of this nature) to surmount!
We’ll meet again Goldstream Trestles! And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! 😉
Anyway, while French Beach had been the furthest westward we’d trekked on foot, we reunited with a couple of guys from our Heather Mountain hike of 2016 to hit the old Priests Cabin and from there hike from the seal grotto out to Sombrio Beach, some 36 km west of French Beach.
As one of our immediate goals is to hike the Juan de Fuca trail — a 47 km coastal hike that stretches from China Beach near the town of Jordan River to Botanicla Beach in the west near Port Renfrew — this hike would give us our first real taste of the ruggedness of the coastal trails.
While we have had plenty of experiences at this point with trails that turn into creeks with the onset of, ahem, “winter” and the associated mud-traps , the mud traps along this stretch of the Juan de Fuca were quite significant and entirely unavoidable.
Sombrio Beach itself was “recently” featured in a B-movie called “Dark Cove”, about a group of campers who head there for a weekend of fun and wind up with a dead body on their hands. They decide to hide in a crevice, the “Emerald Cavern”, that leads to a hidden waterfall.
Having watched this movie a couple of weeks earlier, it was cool to visit the spot and be, like, “Hey! This is where they hid the body!!!” lol
With the opening of the new “Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail” — that runs northward from Mount Wells near Goldstream to connect Victoria with other regional trails further north — French Beach didn’t remain our longest hike of the year; which itself carried us along this new trail to the northern extreme of Shawnigan Lake, and from there east to the coast and then south again to the Mill Bay Ferry and which all tolled measuring in at 44.3 km. That said, the majority of the hike felt very tame, if still fulfilling in it’s own right. It also gave us a taste for exploration even further afield.
This led to a trip up island to the nearby town of Duncan, where we got a hotel room and tackled a hike out and to the top of Mount Prevost on our first day, and then a hike out to and around Stoney Hill Park on the next. The Prevost hike stretched some 31 km (19 miles) and carried us to an elevation of 788 meters (2585 feet) in temperatures that reach up to 32 Celsius (89 F). Fortunately we were sparred the brunt of the sun on our way up, but the effort was certainly worth the reward and it represented our second highest “climb”; though it still fell well short of Heather Mountain. And “Heather Mountain” is not likely to survive 2018 as my fiance and I head out to Valemount, British Columbia for our honeymoon and what promises to be some pretty spectacular hiking!
Anyway, this is Mount Prevost as seen from the outskirts of the town of Duncan …
And here we are at the top …
And a better view of the, well, of the view …
Those are the mountains of Salt Spring Island in the distance there, directly ahead of us and stretch off to the left of the picture. The smaller mountain in the foreground is Mount Tzouhalem. We would be heading out to the otherside of that on the ‘morrow bound for Stoney Hill Park; which I had spied on our first trip out to Salt Spring late in 2016. The park sits atop this wall of stone in the background there, which I wanted to go to since first spotting it.
And now here’s the view from the otherside, dominated by Mount Maxwell with the stretch of shore I’m standing on in the last pic. a little bit further off the rightside of this pic. Erskine is a little further (north) off the leftside of the pic, fyi.
This hike stretched for some 34 km, a lot of which was on pavement and which, combined with the previous day’s Prevost hike, had me limping pretty well the entire way back to our hotel room in the 32 Celsius heat of the day!
I boast rather than complain!
Our next hike would see us heading back out along the “Rabbity Trail” that runs along the shores of the Gowlland Tod range back in the Victoria area. This was the site of our first and entirely impromptu over-nighter. This time we came prepared for the night and set up a crude little camp, under the stars, about 3 hours down the trail head from Mckenzie Bight beach and right on the water. Here we were greeted by a pod(?) of seals who could be heard splashing about and snorting as they emerged for the rest of the night. If not for the fire-ban the province was currently under, and a lack of water shoes to protect my feet, I would have jumped in and swam with them. And I might return next year or thereafter to do exactly that!
Here are a couple of the seals that were so curious about us and our music. I counted at least 6 in total …
We would spend one more night camping out in 2017, only a few days later at Island View Park on the eastern shores of the Saanich Peninsula, but by that point the smoke from all of the fires burning in the province was beginning to drift over the island, kinda killing the appeal of “getting out there into the fresh air”.
Nevertheless, it was a good years hiking. In fact, 2017 became our year for eagle spottings. And it wasn’t just eagles. While we had an encounter with an adolescent black bear last year, we had an enoucnter with a big momma and her cub just this past November on our last trip out to Mary Vine Falls while heading back in, ie. going the opposite direction wasn’t really an option. Fortunately, it was salmon season and we soon ran into three other hikers who were themselves heading back in, and so mamma bear soon lost interest and wandered back into the bush with her cub.
Some of the scenery from that same day …
And of course, having mentioned Mary Vine Falls on at least a couple of occasions by this point, here they are …
It is often said of the Nordic goddess Freyja that she is a goddess of sexuality. While that might very well be the case, the notion is often carried out into the murky realm of whoredom which folk seek to rebut simply by trying to recast “bad” as “good”. Lending to this notion of “Freyja as whore” folk will cite the Eddic lore that states that she has lain with all of the gods, her own brother included; that she is comparable to the mythic goat Heidhrun prancing about in heat, and of course the tale in which she lays with four dwarves so as to win the fabled necklace Brisingamen. Of course, the first two bits of lore come, within the stories, from the mouths of her detractors (Hyndla, Loki) and can hardly be taken at face value, while one of the Icelandic sagas, Njal’s saga I believe it was, relates how a Christian Icelander was outlawed for calling the Vanadis a whore/bitch. So, all we truly have in this regard, beyond some very questionable hearsay, is the tale of the Brisingamen, the precise nature of which we today are left largely to guess at.
My purpose however is not to disprove Freyja’s association with sexuality or, really, to wax at all academic on the matter. Rather I would simply shake up such conventionally accepted notions as surrounds the goddess and offer a perception of her that is not the product of those out to discredit and undermine her (and indeed out indigenous beliefs themselves as a whole) by an utter reluctance to see beyond the base carnal realities that all higher truth is rooted in.
It is that “higher truth” that we should be interested in.
As with all good lies, there may indeed be some kernel of truth to the words of Freyja’s detractors. Freyja may indeed have been regarded as having a strong sexual component. Rather than casting her as some two-bit mortal whore however, one might be inclined to say that she is the spirit of the passion that exists between lovers. And so that where there are lovers engaged in a “passionate embrace” there is Freyja. Following these carnal lines alone, one might say, in this regard, that highest expression of Freyja would have been more similar to Hinduisms Kama Sutra and certain Tantraic teachings rather than the “Girls Gone Wild” nonsense of the low-minded and uncultured.
Indeed, I have reason to believe that the magical art of seidhR, that is so strongly associated with Freyja, and was so “strongly opposed” by the early Church in Norway, was a cult that taught mysto-magical arts of seduction, ie. the generation of sexual energy and it’s use to manipulate the mind of other beings.
But as the spirit of sexual passion, to refer to Freyja as a whore is to misunderstand and cheapen the fundamental value of sexuality, the intense passion of lovers for one another, and to drive the very spirit of passion itself from one’s bedroom; a passion that extends well beyond the bedroom and into the higher realms of passionate devotion for one another as reflected in the supreme value the indigenous Germanic people placed on monogamy, and mythically reflected in Freyja’s own longing for her absent lover OdhR (Mental Excitement).
But Freyja is more even than the spirit of sexuality, or even of passion in general, but also of sensuality and what my high school Western Civ. teacher would have called “the aesthetic experience”; which itself was basically a recasting of Plato’s hierarchy of thought. Freyja promotes a fine appreciation of all the better things in life, noting, indeed, relishing in their fine and subtle details, like the brush strokes of a painting, the subtle differences in taste of a fine wine, etc.
A stately connoisseur of beauty. A Lady. A Freyja.
Indeed, I would tend to think that much of Freyja-lore survived, after a fashion, and can be gleaned in Eleanor of Aquitaine and her so-called “court of love”, where the ideas of ideas of courtly love, chivalry and the troubadours were brought together; not so much as a pure expression of Eleanor’s native Germanic spirit, but as a reaction of that spirit to the increasingly rigid structure of NW European society that began with the absorption of southern European culture and the introduction of Abrahamic Christianity.
The knightly notion of the lady as muse, be it in battle, or as found re-expressed in the Renaissance, in the production of art.
“Not at all do we consider him to be a god. He was evil and all his descendants. We call them rime-thursar.” — Snorri Sturlusson, Prose Edda
By the indigenous worldview of our ancestors the present is an accumulation of interwoven *layers* that set the context of our lives, both individually and collectively (in ever expanding circles of relation out to all of humanity).
We see this in the evolution of the primal realm of Niflheim, formed by the layers upon layers of rime and frost that built up around the primal spring called Hvergelmir (Seething Cauldron), and we see this in the actions of the Great Mothers at the Divine Counsel of the Tivar in Upper-Heaven, as they “lay the layers/laws” (of Divine Judgement) into the holy spring of Wyrd. And of course we see it in the folklore and the appearance of the Little Mothers at a child’s birth who would set the baby’s “orlogR”, the “primal layer/law” or “basic context” of their life … which would of course be deeply influenced — wherever that stops short of “micro-managed” — by the “primal law” of the family, tribe, culture, etc. that they sprung from.
Layers upon (interwoven) layers. Laws upon laws. A veritable three dimensional tapestry.
This is a useful perceptual tool in approaching the “Creation myth” of the Germanic peoples as embodied in the Norse-Icelandic Eddas; that each event along the path to Creation (and forward) represents successive “laws” or “precedents” that set the context of human existence on a fundamental level.
And THE primal law of all existence is, arguably (ie. Ginnungagap), the “Law of Ymir” whose “offspring” it is said are all brutish and hostile, the very forces of hardship and adversity as inherent in nature and natural existence; to which all things, great and small, are and ever shall be subject too (to one degree of another).
There is no escape from this primal law. It is set. Indeed, if one can rely on nothing else in life, it is an undeniable fact that one can always count on hardship and adversity. It shall always be there to hurt you, to make you suffer, to kill you, and then to casually step over your broken form utterly heedless that you were ever even there to begin with.
And this is how it should be; a fact that one can most certainly argue against, in all futility, but which remains a fact nevertheless. And it remains a fact that has and shall prove itself, over and over and over again, and never show itself off as anything other than the cold, hard truth.
No malicious intentions necessary.
There are of course mitigating factors, mythologically speaking, in the form of the All-Nourisher, Audhumbla, the Tivar and of course in the the foundation of the “innangeard” or “in-group/community”. But that combination of adversity (Ymir) and nurture (Audhumbla) is what gave birth to the first of the gods, to glory, and the process of the cultivation of resilience, strength and excellence, of divinity, in which adversity is a key component. And in which adversity remains ever-present, regardless of one’s degree of strength, fortitude, and excellence.
The “Law of Ymir” remains ever in place.
Adversity is a given.
And the best life is had by the those who accept that, who look upon it as a challenge; by those who have an inkling of exactly how adverse life could potentially be without the buffer of the innangeard established by the gods and maintained by our ancestors since time immemorial. And this keen awareness also makes such people some of the most thankful.
“the hardships of the freedman mark the freedom of his condition.” — Tacitus, Germania
A friend of mine was asked the question the other day, “Can I be a viking, embodying their courage and values without following the gods?” To this my friend, a man not so well versed in the lore (relatively speaking of course), but with a strong and sharp intuition, replied (in so few words) that, “yes, our way of life is our religion“, and this was followed by some comments from others that our ancestors had no concept of “religion” as “that set aside as sacred”.
Of course, Germanic belief was a holistic belief system, which certainly marked the distinction between “what is set aside as sacred” and “what exists in the world of men”. Our limited modern vocabulary and intimate cultural familiarity with the proselytizing, would-be “universalist” religions, often leaves us unfit to the task of defining, or even understanding, intuitively, “ethno-cultural” or “heathen” belief systems.
The basic distinction our ancestors noted was between the innangeard (the community) and the utangeard (outside the community), from which point the innangeard could be further “divided” into the “esegeard” (Asgard, the divine community) and “middangeard” (Midgard, the mortal community). As such, it is true that they really had no sacred-profane dichotomy, but rather dealt in terms of wih (the sacred, that which is set apart), holy (the sanctified community), and unholy (profane, outside the community). They understood that holiness — which stems from the same native Germanic root as such other Modern English words as whole and health — was the temporal product of the hallowing power of wih. As such, holiness, the product of the consecrating power of the gods, can be seen as the totality of a community’s ethno-culturo-historical identity … as we can see in the Tacitus’ comments on the ethno-genesis myth of the Germanic peoples, in the Eddic myths of Creation and the shaping of Ask and Embla, in the Rigsthula and various king-myths and genealogies, as well as the various “hero myths” (and/or indications there of) that show such things as language or mead or letters or beauty, etc. as having a “divine” or “sacred” origin.
In short, our native culture is, not a wih thing by any means — which is what we would deem to be properly “religious” and so the prime concern of priests — but rather a holy thing. It is whole. The great mystery of divinity given temporal form.
That said, if one was a good community member and participated in the community’s rituals/identity, then, at least within the context of Germanicism, it really didn’t matter what god or gods an individual did or didn’t pray to; as the experience of the first Catholics and Catholic missionaries among our ancestors, who generally extended to them every hospitality, clearly attests. And afterall, the focus wasn’t the maintenance, growth and development of the individual — bad apples were jettisoned rather than indulged — but rather the maintenance, growth and development of the community itself. If the community was strong and healthy, it follows that the generations that spring from it will also be strong and healthy; while any rot would of course have to be prune off lest it spread to the entire community.
Indeed, hearkening back to the early Christian-Germanic relations once again, one can see that a refusal to participate in the big rituals of the community, namely the sacral feast and/or toasts, by consuming at least a morsel/draught, was, at times, a big no-no among out ancestors. We see this as early as the Migration Age Goths (eg. Sabas) to as late as the Viking Age Norwegians (eg. Hakon the Good). We see it inverted among the Anglo-Saxons, where the missionary Mellitus was driven from Essex for refusing to share his own “sacred feast” with the 3 brother-kings that reigned there (as the missionary did with their convert father), and we see it early in Christianity’s history with the Romans as well. And really, if you are in a community, but have no interest in taking part in it’s identity, one has to wonder, what are you doing there??? Other than “perhaps” intending to subvert it?
Personally, I have for a very long time now said that I would rather the company of a Christian or atheist with strong Germanic values and cultural background than a (self-proclaimed) “Heathen” who might certainly, ahem, “have the (names and stories of the) gods”, but who would be utterly unrecognizable to our common ancestors. People are too preoccupied with “the gods”, ie. myths/fantasy-tales. And indeed without an understanding of the culture that supported those myths, from which the myths evolved, a person is going to “read them wrong” every time. Well, a lot of the time, and in regards to all of the finer points anyway.
In the final analysis, I personally would have to say that a person can certainly be a, ahem, “viking” without being preoccupied with priestly matters. One could in fact say that you were primed for it at birth. And remember, your heritage is your heritage. Would you ask your neighbor for permission to collect the inheritance your grandfather left for you? Would you neglect it because of the mockery some other made of the inheritance they received from their grandfather?
“King Penda himself did not forbid the preaching of the Faith to any even of his own Mercians who wished to listen, but he hated and despised any whom he knew to be insincere in their practice of Christianity once they had accepted it, and said that any who despised the commandments of the God in whom they professed to believe were themselves despicable wretches.” (Bede, the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation)
And so another tremor has recently shaken North American Heathendom, emanating of course from the same tired old tectonic fault line that has divided Heathendom here since its earliest days in the original AFA. I speak of course of the co-joined twin monstrosity of race and politics.
This time out the tantrum began with a position statement issued by the AFA and its new leadership. It ran as follows,
“Today we are bombarded with confusion and messages contrary to the values of our ancestors and our folk. The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children. The children of the folk are our shining future and the legacy of all those men and women of our people back to the beginning. Hail the AFA families, now and always!“
I first got wind of the statement on the Facebook page of the British Columbia Heathen Freehold, which I had helped to found in times past and maintained an honorary membership within. When I read the scathing critique posted along with the quote — and by a man I had come to expect a little better from — I was immediately struck by the lack of proportion between the AFA’s statement and the general reaction of Freehold; which ran the entire gamut of slurs from racist, sexist, misogynist, “transgenderophobic”, and even supremacist, only to move on to “beyond cooperation”, daring to “speak for all of Heathenry”, and even “not Heathen”.
Now, personally, I grew up raised by fairly typical, fairly modern Canadian values supplemented by frequent interactions with people from all sorts of differing backgrounds and regular viewings of Star Trek. And when I first stepped into organized Heathenry back in the early 90’s — having spent several years isolated in my beliefs as a Germanic Heathen — it was into the Ring of Troth or simply “the Troth” as it calls itself today. As a result I got to hear all about who the racists in Heathendom were. And while my initial reactions to this racism within Heathenry were as thoughtless and knee-jerk as anyone else’s, it didn’t take too long for my own personal experience with schoolyard social politics and accusations of racism to kick in and give me pause to consider. And when I finally took the time to sound some of these “racists” out on the matter, I received not only a conscientious response, but … membership pamphlets as well (where applicable).
This is not to say that Heathenry isn’t a sorted crowd in which you might find just about anything that you already can find in spades in greater society. A real microcosm. You’ll certainly find people who are aggressively fixated on race; though I would add that, in my experience, you’ll find far more of them on the “universalist” (the Troth) side of the Asatru equation than on the “folkish” (AFA) side.
Anyway, I like to think that I have a fairly broad spectrum of experience to draw on when it comes to what is and is not racist. And to the extent that I’ve long since come to the conclusion that its meaning can be stretched as broadly and as thinly as one needs. And more often than not is used precisely to service some other, completely unrelated agenda. It’s one of those words that illicit a very negative emotional response in us Westerners and in particular us Germanic peoples, stirring up all kinds of negative pseudo-historical associations that we then attach to the accused. And because those associations seem so terrible to us, we accept them without question … out of fear that if we didn’t, and we were wrong in that, we would be complicit in … whatever morally reprehensible act they stood accused of.
The accusation of “racist” is no different than that of “witch”. And really, most of us European peoples outgrew witch-hunts centuries ago and tend to adhere to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”; though I understand that mob-rule in (North) America is making a comeback. The same can be said for a lot of these “-isms” that are floating around these days. Indeed, if it were any other minority group was so maligned by the use of such inflammatory language, it would likely be condemned, technically or otherwise, “hate speech”.
I have little justification in my personal experience to see it as anything other than. And the fact that it is being carried out against “white people” does not somehow make it acceptable, much less moral or in anywise enlightened or progressive. Would we have reacted the same way in regards to a group that wanted to keep their identity (as a group) exclusively homosexual? Exclusively female? Exclusively African-American? Exclusively Sioux? No. We would in fact applaud and encourage them, and commonly do just that. As such, act-ually believing in such liberal ideals as fairness, equality, and tolerance — the latter of which is reserved, precisely, for people you might find yourself in strong disagreement with — I cannot but affirm the AFA’s right to define itself as it deems fit. This has nothing to do with whether or not I personally would find acceptance among them, or whether or not any of my family, friends and loved ones would. As none of us are looking to join any Heathen organization anymore than Trothers are looking to join the AFA, it is something of a moot point. Or so I would think. What it has everything to do with is their right. Which is also my right. And your right as well. To choose your associations without be maligned and slandered for those choices.
So then, where do I draw the line of tolerance? Well, as a general rule of thumb, I think that the boundaries of traditional law are a good place to start; wherever that stops short of this “hate law” nonsense of course. If someone is obeying the law then, all else being equal, and no matter how different, I owe them at least my tolerance. Mind you, reciprocity is always the guiding principle and there is no cause to suffer socially malicious potshots being taken at oneself or others.
“Gift for gift, laugh for laugh, lie for lie”, after all.
I see nothing in the AFA’s statement that maligns women or gays or other ethnicities. It states their focus on the traditional family, traditional gender roles, and European ethnicity, plain and simple. Nor do I see any attempt by the AFA to “speak for all of the Heathenry”. They made an organizational statement that clearly pertained to their organization. In contrast I’ve seen, in reaction to the statement, the Troth and its affiliate the B.C. Heathen Freehold hurling all sorts of inflammatory remarks, and presuming to speak themselves, as loudly as possible, of what is and is not Heathen.
On a peripheral matter, we have the Troth’s own by-laws,
“Membership in The Troth is open to men and women who profess and practice Heathen religion, where this membership affiliation is based on religious or cultural reasons, not for racial or political reasons. Discrimination, as defined above, shall not be practiced by The Troth, its programs, departments, officers, or any affiliated group, whether in membership decisions or the conduct of any of its activities.”
While this certainly sounds completely reasonable to me — though I personally reserve the right to discriminate against whomever I want and for whatever reason I see fit — I do find it rather odd that they encourage affiliation “based on religious or cultural reasons, not for racial or political reasons”, when in fact they were founded on a platform of “political correctness” (leftist ideology) and thus are inherently preoccupied with race and particularly the, ahem, “white race”. And indeed, on a more local level, I have never found the universalists all that concerned with religion or culture, to the point of actively discouraging any attempts to understand the indigenous worldview of our ancestors, of the people and cultural context our religion issued from and is defined by.
In my recent conversations on this matter, a Freeholder stated, in outrage, as an attempt to prove that the AFA is racist, that, “they have even come right out and stated that Asatru is an ethnic religion!!! What are you, stupid???” I could only laugh of course, as “Asatru” is patently ethno-culturally Germanic in origin, as a matter of fact, and huge swathes of those who profess Heathenry today, be they folkish or universalist, do so out of, ahem, “ancestral sympathies”, ie. it was the native religion of their NW European ancestors.
But this is the level this charade is played out on, ie. that of a moronic child.
Needless to say perhaps, in the wake of the discussion on this matter with various Freehold members, I dissolved my association with the Freehold.
Even as I began this blog entry with a quote, so to shall I leave you with one in.
“The mercy that was quick in us but late, by your own counsel is suppress’d and kill’d: You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy; For your own reasons turn into your bosoms, as dogs upon their masters, worrying you. See you, my princes, and my noble peers, these English monsters!” (Shakespeare, Henry V)
“The third is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus” — Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis
The name Fricco is of course the Latinized version of the better known Old Norse god-name FreyR; itself a title of rulership (rather than a proper name) with a feminine cognate in Old Norse Freyja, and as reflected it’s Old English cognate Frea (fem. Freo). While generally rendered simply as “Lord” the title is indicative of sacral leadership and the peaceable side of rulership, and stands in complimentary juxtaposition to the Old Norse drottin (Old English – drihten), which was also, both, a title of rulership (albeit it martial in this case) and used as a deific title on into Christian times. The word itself stems from the Proto-Indo-European root *pro-, meaning foremost, and so coincides with Snorri Sturlusson’s own assertion that “FreyR is the most renowned of the Æsir” and the words attributed to Tiw (Old Norse – TyR), ie. the glorifying light, in the Eddic poem Lokasenna where he states,
“Frey is best of all the exalted gods in the AEsir’s courts“.
The priestly nature of the titular-name “Frea” is itself indicate in the mythology surrounding the deity himself. In the Yngling saga of the Heimskringla we are told that,
“Odin placed Njord and Frey as priests of the sacrifices, and they became Diar of the Asaland people”
Meanwhile, more subtly, in the Eddic poem Skirnismal we read of how Frea was required to give up his sword and steed in order to win the etinwif, Gerd, as his bride. The name Gerd is of course related to the Old Norse “gard” (OE. – geard), as we see in As-gard and Mid-gard, as well as in Modern English yard and gard-en. It expresses the notion of ordered/settled land, as defined by the presence of the human community and as juxtaposed to the “utangeard” or “wilds” (where the ways of nature reign supreme). And so this is a myth that reflects the marriage between the spirit of the tribe (as embodied in the priest-king) and the spirit of the (tribal) lands (as embodied in the horse among the Indo-Europeans). The yielding up of weapon and steed in the myth as a necessary act in the ritual of “coronation” is reflected in what Bede said of the Anglii high-priesthood in heathen Northumbria,
“it was not lawful before for the high-priest either to carry arms, or to ride on anything but a mare“.
It might also be inferred in Tacitus’ remarks that the high-priests of the tribes of Germania went into battle carrying the sacred standards of their tribe; which itself has a mythic parallel in Frea’s fight against the etin Beli, in which, lacking a weapon, the god is said to have used a stag’s antlers … which are themselves well remembered as a royal standard in the North. To cite a parallel within the greater context of Indo-Europeanism, we have the Roman Flamen Dialis for whom touching either a horse or iron was likewise considered taboo. One might also note the “wizard hat” of the Flamen Dialis’ attire and that we see on Frea in the picture above (among other things).
In the Ynglinga saga we read that,
“Frey was called by another name, Yngve; and this name Yngve was considered long after in his race as a name of honour“.
The name Yngvi (Old English – Ingui) means “Offspring, Offshoot, Descendant”, while the Ynglinga saga paints the god as a mortal man who, in ancient times, rose to kingship among the Swedes and founded the royal house known as the Ynglings. Their saga further tells that the Swedes enjoyed a period of great peace and prosperity during his reign, which became known as the “Frith of Frodhi” — frith is a complex concept that expresses a range of inter-related notions that include sacrality, kinship, security, and prosperity — such that when Ingui-frea at last died, they sealed his body within a mound (as opposed to cremating him) and continued to pay taxes to him; believing that as long as they did so peace and prosperity would prevail.
Incidentally, Sweden was perhaps the wealthiest of the Scandinavias into and beyond the Viking Age, and until relatively recently stood as a glowing example of how successful a Socialist system could be; before they (apparently) forgot such fundamentally important concepts as “geard” and it’s companions “(w)holy” and “good”.
Outside of Viking Age Scandinavia, we find reference to Ingui in the Old English poem Beowulf, where the Danes are referred to as “Ing’s Joy”, while the 22nd stave of the Anglo-Frisian futhorc (alphabet) was named for him. The accompany stanza in the Old English Rune Poem states that,”Ing was first seen among the East Danes“, that in the end he departed back over the waves (to Sweden? to the afterlife?), and that thence he was regarded as a “haele”; a word that generally translates simply as “hero” but which can also carry strong connotations of omen or destiny. As with the Swedes, the name Ingui also appears in the genealogy of the royal house of Anglish Bernicia (one of the two Anglii kingdoms that made up united Northumbria), and interestingly, even as the Swedes believed that holy power still emanated from the interred corpse of Ingui, so were the blood and bones of the convert, ie. to Catholicism, King Oswald of Bernica associated with miracles of wholeness and healing. Some even speculate that the tribal name Anglii (from whence we get today’s English) has it’s roots in the god-name Ingui; which would hardly be surprising given the original proximity of the Anglii to the both the Danes and Swedes and the enduring memory of their shared heritage, eg. the Beowulf poem.
Taking a step further back in time and closer to the “Common Germanic” or “Proto-Germanic” period, we find in Tacitus’ 1st century AD work Germania a reference to the ethno-genesis myth of the tribes of Germania. This “ancient hymn” as Tacitus called it is said to have celebrated Tuisto and Mannus as the co-progenitors of the greater Germanic peoples, and that the names for the three main divisions of the folk were named after the most prominent of the children of Mannus. The first of these branches, who comprised all of those tribes living along the seashore, were called the Ingvaeones.
Interestingly, the seashores of southern Scandinavia are in fact the cradle of Germanic culture and language, and were the homeland of those tribes from c.2,300 BC until the Great Cooling of c.500 BC., when the first waves of migration out of the homeland and into Continental Europe began. The Nordic Bronze Age itself, beginning c.1,800 BCE was defined by a warmth comparable to that of northern France, a tripling of the infant survival rate, the establishment of trade-routes leading to the British Isles, Egypt, and Greece, the prominence of the Sun-cult and the Divine Twins, and the building of massive burial mounds at which regular offerings were made. It was also the age of the famous seashore rock-carvings, upon which we frequently find the very same ithyphallic imagery that Ingui-Frea would be depicted with centuries later.
The gods association with the seashore lingered on into the Viking Age, as seen in Viga-Glum’s saga where he appears in a dream, enthroned by the waters edge and surrounded by a great crowd of people. We can also easily perceive it in the origins of the Salian Frank royal house, the Merovingians, where a virile bull comes out of the sea to impregnate the Frank-Queen with Merovech, and of course in the legend of Scyld Sceafing, where the child is washed up on the seashore of the Danes and comes to be hailed as their king and to found their royal house, ie. the Skjoldungs); both of which tie in of course with what has already be noted of Ingui’s association with sacral kingship.
While this is hardly an exhaustive study on Ingui-Frea — and didn’t even touch on the wagon-procession, questions of apotheosis vs. euhemerism, relation to the Divine Twins, etc. — I hope it gives the reader a real sense of the great honour and significance of the god; which might be lacking in the Eddic myths with their fixation on Woden (Odhinn) and Thunor (ThorR).
“FreyR is the most renowned of the Æsir (gods); he rules over the rain and the shining of the sun, and therewithal the fruit of the earth; and it is good to call on him for fruitful seasons and peace. He governs also the prosperity of men.” — Snorri Sturlusson, Prose Edda