My Endurance Brings a Bounty: Galdr to Harvest the Good I Have Sown Monday, April 23, 2018
I have built with broken bones, I have bent what simply breaks. Skin to center, I have forged myself from steel. And steel may melt and coil and collapse, But I have befriended the dawn, the day, the dusk; The flames of Sól are the feathers of my wings And my courage frightens fear, And my words give form to force, And now the phantasms of every wish I have kept are given flesh. Witness my rise, and if I seem to fall, watch me closer; my flight is far from finished.
Tonight, my unsated curiosity about the Alcis, the pair of divine brothers worshiped by the Naharvali tribe according to Tacitus, got the better of me as it tends to do quite often. Once again, I found myself looking for more sources, and things I may have missed in the sources I already know, to aid my understanding of the brothers. Though I had some trouble even keeping up with my own thoughts, I tried to make what follows as coherent as possible:
When the Earth made you, Þórr, 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 those scorched ones whose ships fear your fanned red skies.
They find their burial mounds in the deepest sands
under the flash of your light,
the dead 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.
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.