When the Earth made you, she flecked your skin with seeds,
Tossing handfuls of black soil all across your shoulders
And sowing in your body the strength to thrive.
Your hair grew like man’s first fire,
Red and thrashing like a fish in the sea,
The sea where, now and then, your mother feeds you the flesh
Of the scorched men whose ships fear your fanned red skies
And find their burial mounds in the deepest sands
under the flash of your light;
Men who feel your firm black soil again at the doors of your hall
And make themselves full with food and drink
And Hellos to friends so long and fervently missed.
Last night, I was watching a tv show on Rabb.it with a friend of mine, and somehow we fell down two different ends of a rabbit hole conversation, and when we met in the center, all I found was indifference and a lot of frustration. I’ve known for a bit that his philosophy on life is apathetic, self-destructive, and ultimately suicidal, but until last night, I never realized just how aggressively so it was.
I told him it was hypocritical, and I found it impossible at the time to find the words to explain why that was, It was very difficult to tell him why he should value his own existence without making mention of other people’s feelings. I don’t want him to think of other people when he thinks of this. I want him to consider his own life and nothing else.
This afternoon, I found the words to explain. They were late to arrive, but I may as well post them. If I could go back to last night and tell him just one more thing, this is what I would say:
Value your own life as you do the lives of others. If you take from yourself, give to yourself something equally as valuable as what you took. To not treasure the person you know best, whose body bears you through every day and whose joy and agony you feel more intensely than anyone else’s, is to short-change all life in each and every individual appraisal you give it.
Basically, if you care about existence in any form, your own has to be included in that. You cannot experience anything as fully as it deserves to be experienced, and as fully as you deserve to appreciate it, if you don’t also appreciate yourself enough to live to experience it.
Mighty Þórr, please hear me now as I declare for you my adoration:
You are in the straining of my muscles and the feeling of strength in my arms when I labor unceasingly to achieve beauty in my own space. You are in the satisfaction I feel when the task is done.
You are in the way I assert my authentic self and stand up for my own beliefs and demand my right to decency and happiness.
You are in the way the house shudders and sways in the wind when the thunder echoes in the distance, and in the way its power makes me feel utterly invincible.
You are in the full-hearted words of my friends, in the embrace of my loved ones, and in every smile I earn, and because you give these things to me, I will devote myself to repaying you for your kindness.
Hail to Þórr and hail to the thunder! May Mjǫllnir’s strike never fail!
(Note: I base this praise off of Saxo’s writings on Balderus and on my own UPG.)
Baldr, who shines like the sun and even more beautifully, please hear now my adoration for you:
If the mortal whose loss in love and miserable end made him a god most beloved is called Baldr, then the road to Love is called Loneliness, the road to Redemption is called Sacrifice, and the road to Life is called Death.
Baldr of beautiful things, of gentle encouragement, of kindness, of warm and unconditional love… You are an inspiration to me, and more than that, you are the picture of a love that I want to embody and to give and receive. If beauty is Baldr domain, then nobody who truly knows him could ever mistake him for being anything less than absolutely selfless, for beauty exists in every corner of the world–in every flower and every weed, in every innocent smile and every set of snarling fangs, in every noisy crowd and every gentle song, and even in every thing that is ever called “ugly,” because most importantly, beauty exists in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is Baldr’s gift to those who know him, but also to those who do not, and so Baldr is kind and giving and a believer in the fundamental goodness of humanity.
To honor you, Baldr, I promise to give often, to love selflessly, and to strive for all that you embody.
Praise be to Baldr, who shines like the sun and even more brilliantly. May his gifts never go unnoticed, may his sacrifices never go unappreciated, and may his kindness inspire the whole world.
The first was intended to be an example for my Galdr-Book, but I think I’ll end up using the second one for that because the alliterating staves are more clear in that one. Anyway…
The Very First Attempt: Galdr to Sink a Far-Off Ship Monday, February 19, 2018
Windborne boat, you now will sink
When you hear my baneful song
Calling storm and squall.
Rains will pour and flood your decks,
Your passengers the sea will drive
Betwixt its teeming teeth.
Bones the sea will take into
Its watery sands, and there it shall make tombs that time forgets.
My Struggles Grant Me Strength: Galdr to Endure and Thrive Thursday, February 22, 2018
My form obeys my wants,
My mind obeys my will.
Hear me now and listen, my steeling soul.
I see my destination;
A path, I design.
For this task, my own strength will suffice.
Within my chest, my lungs strain and struggle, But they breathe the air in the highest, thinnest skies—they struggle, and I grow stronger.
Please note that this post is subject to change as I learn more about galdr, and the version you read now might not be the version that will be available later. I am posting this quite tentatively because it is undoubtedly unfinished, but all the same, I promised to post new articles on galdr/runic divination semi-regularly, so here we are, and here this is.
So what is galdr?
To put it simply, galdr is the Old Norse word for poems that were possibly, but not for certain, composed in the meter of Galdralag (lit. “meter of magic spells”), and the chanting of these poems was typically accompanied by an action or elaborate ritual meant to bring about a certain effect, like creating a storm, inflicting madness upon a person, causing coins to spontaneously appear in the skinned remains of a dead man’s scrotum (no, that’s not a joke), or making the process of childbirth smoother. Ceremonies involving galdr were performed by vǫlur (singular “vǫlva”).
Hail Loki, whose flame-red hair appears for
But a moment where there are tricks to be found.
Loki, with sharp tongue and nimble toes,
Let us be swift and sure in our dealings.
Let us be strong as the children you begot;
Mighty as Fenrisúlfr, resolute as Xaljō, and awe-inspiring as the Midjagardaz serpent.
Loki of quick wit, who weaves truth through lies,
None can best you in a contest of cleverness.
Wherever we go, may you hold the mirror in which
We see you in ourselves; cunning and lively.
Hail Loki, who is never far, and ever a playfully flickering light in the dark.
May you find entertainment in the strife for all your days.
I wanted to say this just because it was on my mind for a bit today:
If you’re like me and have a tendency to over-specify what you’re asking for in prayers to the gods out of fear of repercussions that might stem from unspecificity*, know this:
The gods are wise. They are very wise, and they can tell what it is you’re asking for even if you don’t specify the extraneous minutia of everything. If you have their favor, you will receive it. If they are determined to cause you to suffer or to twist your words to excuse such a thing, they will find a way to do just that. All you can do is offer your prayer, and with everything I just said being true, it is better to focus on whether or not your prayer is heartfelt rather than whether or not it is specific enough for a trickster robot genie to understand.
This isn’t exactly a quotation on spirituality per se, but it does appeal to my spiritual sensibilities anyway, so I’m making it part of this series.
Earlier today, I was reading Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, and I came across an Arab proverb that really resonated with me:
Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids.
This proverb reminds me of another quote by Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) that shares the same spirit:
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
…And this quote in turn reminds me of one by Anita Roddick (October 23, 1942 – September 10, 2007):
If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.
I interpret the Arab proverb to mean that decay and death are a fact of existence for human beings, but even so, humans can leave legacies that time has difficulty destroying. The earliest pyramid in Egypt is a step pyramid (a pyramid built out of progressively smaller “stepped” platforms, similar to Mesopotamian ziggurats, rather than the later pyramids with smooth sides) called the Pyramid of Djoser, constructed some 4,650 years ago, give or take a decade or so. Today, it still stands.
As the proverb implies, time has been unable to tear down the pyramids of Egypt. Each pyramid alone is a testament to the greatness of human endurance and the power of synergy, but the pyramids together are a testament to humankind’s ability to say “I have achieved inconceivable greatness before, and I will do it again and again.” It takes the concept of “impossible” and barrels through its walls, battering ram in its collective arms and declaring to what exists on the other side, “There is nothing in this universe that I cannot pull down from the heavens and grasp in my own mortal hands.”
Whatever you perceive as being your best, know that you are capable of better. No matter how long you toil, know that you can toil for another moment longer. For each successive piece of greatness that you manage to grasp, know that tomorrow, you will have an opportunity to reach higher. This is the miracle of being human: to be able to achieve the impossible, and then say, “Tomorrow I will achieve more.”
When in the early sixteenth century Michelangelo painted one of his greatest masterpieces, The Creation of Adam, the general concept of a man touching the hand of god was seen as a much loftier goal than it was to the pagan Romans of not much more than a thousand years before he was born. As far back as in the city of Eridu in Ancient Mesopotamia, and eventually slowing to a halt starting in Southern Europe, history has recorded the ordinary and the supernatural simultaneously, on the same pages and in the same sort of language. To the historians of yesteryear, and more importantly, to the common person, there was very little separation, if any, between the menial tasks of daily life and the divine interference of the gods, for the gods were present in all things. The loss of that presence is the reason for much of the loneliness experienced by modern polytheists, and it is something I have finally found the words with which to provide the solution.
As Ralph Metzner has stated, the separation of ordinary life from contact with the divine is a “loss [that] resulted from the gradually increasing emphasis, started by the Greeks and continued with Christianity, on abstract conceptions of deity rather than on the direct, sensory perception of and communication with spirits that was the norm in polytheistic animism.” Today, even with the reemergence of ancient polytheistic religions like Hellenic Polytheism, Religio Romana, Kemetism, and Germanic and Norse Heathenry, the West has yet to recover its old comfort with dining at the same table as the gods, among other things, and the religious “reemergences” I just mentioned are, for the most part, vague approximations at best, hampered by a worldview that dulls the senses which reveal the divine to mankind.
If humankind had retained regular contact with the divine and not grown the mental barriers between us and them that it has, we might today find the presence of many gods in the discovery of a parking ticket on the window shield of a car, in the modern understanding of GMOs, or even, as ridiculous as it sounds, in a toilet cleaner bomb. These things are simply the modern descendants of what the old gods once held dominion over. Finding Týr in a parking ticket today is conceptually no different than a person from a distant age finding him at The Thing, an ancient Norse gathering that occurred regularly to discuss the business of laying down and enforcing the law of the land.
Just Þunraz, mighty Þunraz, quick to dole out justice;
Red-Bearded One, Hammer-Wielder with far-reaching renown,
We know you are near when the thunder comes rumbling through,
When we hear the goats run and the giants fall,
Felled by a mighty swing of Meldunjaz, grasped by strong hands.
Cowering victims do you make into champions by leading the way,
And fearful trembles become boisterous laughter.
May those who wrong you always fall to their knees in defeat,
Brought low by the strength of your body and heart,
And as we honor you, may our foes be struck down as well.
Hail the just! Hail the righteous! Hail Þunraz!