Cross dressing, cis and trans gender in acolytes of heathen Gods….a philosophical group of questions


In the literature we have on Uppsala, there is documentation that priests of Frey were cross dressers at the least. And Odin dresses as a woman to learn and perform Seidh. I would say, therefore, that some level of transvestitism was performed and acknowledged in ancient ways, because we have the evidence both in the lore and the literature to support it.

And in a separate, but also I.E. tradition, male devotees of Cybele would dance themselves into a frenzy and castrate themselves, thereafter identifying as females, in order to be priest(esses) of Her order.  I would also point out that She shares several traits in common with Freyja including the lions pulling her chariot.

I still see a lot of the over culture assumption of Christian values in heathens. Including in my own group, at least as regards some issues like this. Now, from a purely utilitarian point of view, I agree with the stance that gays and transgenders are not openly welcomed, though tolerated. This does not support the growth and preservation of the tribe, that much is obvious. And with us still having such small numbers, and being so spread out, I can understand this position. I can even support it from the purely utilitarian point of view.  Though frankly, on a personal level, I don’t really care, as long as it’s not directly hindering me from doing something I need to do for myself or my family, or my tribe, and as long as you aren’t harming others in the process.   And you aren’t holding yourself up as an example to aspire to for the children of the group.

And from a population genetics point of view, homosexuality is predicted and expected as the population grows and pressures are placed on species due to competition for resources. This I see playing out in real life.  Again, I don’t care, I see a scientific hypothesis being independently confirmed in real life.

But I have a serious philosophical question. Or related group of questions, rather.
If our religion is going to grow and develop, if we are going to ever have actual cult temples devoted to particular Gods and Goddesses, is there a place for them as there was in ancient times? Will we ever accept cross dressing or even transgendered male to females being priests for Frey?  Will we accept transvestitism from men in order to learn and perform seidh?

Now, in a recent comment on just this topic, someone said that there is a big difference between the modern PC culture of gay and transvestism, and ancient cross dressing.  I am of the opinion(s) that yes, and no.  There was no surgery to make it final.  Other than castration for men, and mastectomy for women.  But I have to wonder if those priests were in fact castrated and if they identified as women in service of their God.  Of course, we also know there were priestesses and cis gendered priests of the same God.  I don’t think they (castrati or whatever they were) were accepted in regular society, I think they were only accepted in the role of devotee/priest/ess.  But there was a place for them.

Thoughts?

I’m so Glad the year past is over.


This has been a year filled with upheaval.

This is the year I took a really good look around me at wider society and realized that, though I was considered a flaming liberal in my younger years, I am now – without having changed many fundamental views at all – considered a conservative, a racist, a white nationalist, homophobe, transphobic, Islamophobe, alt right, …. whatever else people on the other end of the spectrum think is a pejorative.

So let’s look at a few of these.  First:  racist.  Since thanks to my mother I have some NA in me (not enough for a quantum, but the point is it’s there), and my mother was married to a NA, I’m pretty sure we can ditch this right now.  But let’s go further – my family also has some Jewish ancestry thanks to a torrid love story that ended with a Catholic marriage, only to be followed some years later by a Catholic excommunication and a splitting of the family into Protestant and Catholic camps.  I have never put down any race for anything.  I do recognize there are widely differing cultural elements in different peoples, some of which I admire and some of which I find abhorrent – including in my own cultural group, Midwest white lower middle class.  I’m pretty sure that makes me observant, not racist.

Conservative.  Funny how time works.  This may be the only thing where my views have evolved, largely because I went into the work force and actually had to provide for myself and my children.  I used to be very much like the California style liberals – medical care is a human right, food is a human right, water is a human right, sewer service is a human right, housing is a human right.  Well, not so much.  Because taxes are a thing.  And because there are FAR too many moochers out there.

Now I feel differently in a few ways:

1.    First, clean water. Well, having water that isn’t going to kill you is a good thing to have.  And that has been largely taken care of across our country via sanitation systems which include water treatment plants.  The thing is, our taxes only pay a portion of that.  You as a consumer still need to have some skin in the game and pay a service fee.  The idea behind that being that a portion of the service fees don’t go to pay for anything now, but go into a fund for future needs for the community.  Yes, I realize that has not happened in many cases.  But we’re not talking about how it is (in places like Flint for example) we’re talking about how it should be (and mostly works, in places like Missoula for example).  If you don’t pay your fees, your water will be shut off, eventually.  This is not difficult to understand, one would think.  But though assistance plans are available, and though people are informed on ways to conserve water, they continue to waste prodigious amounts of water and to default and, instead of taking responsibility for their non payment, they scream about water being a human right when what they *actually* mean is that CLEAN water, treated by the cities they live in, should be available to them for free regardless of the actual cost of providing said water.  And regardless of the agreements they signed when they hooked up to the city water service.

2.    Sewer.  This operates on much the same principle as clean water does.  The ability to wash your dishes, your body, your clothing, your floors, and use a toilet to flush your waste, and have all that effluent simply run down a drain for someone else to handle is an AMAZING thing.  We happen to have a septic system, but we have lived in cities as well.  This is an expensive service to provide, mainly because the risks to the population if not done correctly are huge, and the liability involved is also huge.  I don’t know if you are aware, but workers are at huge risk of getting Hepatitis C – for instance – from raw sewage.  It’s a nasty, dirty job, and the pay needs to be very good to compensate those who are willing to get the education and training to keep the rest of us safe.  It’s not in fact a human right.  It’s a privilege of living in modern society.  Yes, I’m aware that there have been night soil workers in the past.  But it was still very primitive and people often got sick due to the primitive nature of the system and the fact that raw sewage was often dumped directly into the river system from which people got their water.

The U.N. says the right to clean water and sewage is a human right.   They do not however provide any funding to assure said rights, and their declarations have no force of law.  So, until they pony up the money to all those people in Detroit and elsewhere to pay their bills and keep them in clean water and sewage, I will continue to ignore the U.N.  It’s quite easy to pontificate on a subject about which you have no financial responsibility.

For both of these essential services I was blissfully ignorant of the science and technology involved. When I was small I never considered it, and when I was of the age to begin considering it, we had a well and a septic system so it remained a relative non issue.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned how it all works.  That’s when I realized how very expensive it is to provide water and sewer service, and how important the payments are in providing – and continuing to provide – these services.

3.  Medical care.  This one is a hot button for many people, me included.  I think we as a society have a responsibility to provide basic medical services to CHILDREN.  If we take care of our children, they will grow up to be as healthy as they can be, and are more likely to become productive citizens if they are as healthy as they can be.  Getting regular visits to catch things like a lazy eye, or hip dysplasia, early, will prevent complications and permanent disability later.

For adults….not so much.  People who do not have to pay anything for their medical care are much more likely to over use the system by increasing ER visits than those who either have commercial insurance or are on Medicare, or no insurance at all.  Some patients cite the copays they must pay at their primary care office as a reason for going to the ER, because they don’t have one if they go there.  Here is the original study abstract if you’d like to read it, the one that confirms what every EMS and ER worker already knew.

This is a huge issue.  If people have no financial skin in the game they have no financial incentive – or any other incentive, really, to follow medical provider advice or instructions, no matter how carefully the provider tries to involve them in their care plan.  They will consistently take the easiest, and the cheapest, way out.  Which in America involves the ER, because they don’t have to pay.

Oh, you say, but people on Medicaid are sicker….?  And….let’s go back to the statement about having financial skin in the game.  In AZ for instance, there is a $4 copay for office visits.  Almost ZERO patients pay this, because they know they don’t have to.  They also don’t have to pay the copay for their medications.  If a provider writes a prescription for Tylenol, Medicaid (AHCCCS in AZ) pays for it.  But there’s a price attached for the rest of us, the taxpayers, a very heavy price.  Generic tylenol costs about $2.99 for a bottle.  If you pay cash.  If the taxpayers pay for it, the cost goes up to approximately $34.99 per bottle.

When I worked in the ER mothers would bring their children in for a cold, nothing more.  When Tylenol was recommended, they would insist on a prescription.  Why?  Because they don’t have to pay for it.  Many of these same patients have *very* expensive gold jewelry, the newest iPhone, designer purses, and perfect manicures.  Yes, some of these patients *are* sicker.  However in many cases it’s because they refuse to listen to advice to exercise, lose weight, and eat a healthier diet.  That involves effort, and most are not willing to invest effort if there is a free option such as a pill.  Even though a type II diabetic will likely end up in renal failure or losing extremities to amputation, most will continue to take metformin over making real changes to their health.  And all the new medications developed?  They are there because patients just won’t do what they need to do to take charge of their health.  It’s just too hard to change.  And there’s no financial incentive to do so, because they don’t bear the cost of their health care.  We do, the working taxpayers.  Even their transportation to and from medical appointments is free for them, courtesy of the taxpayer, here in AZ.

There is no cost involved in walking around the mall for a morning, if it’s too hot or cold outside, and there is no cost involved in walking around your neighborhood if it’s safe enough.  There is no cost, when you have food stamps, in choosing healthier foods and fewer foods that come out of a box.  And please don’t give me the BS line about they can’t afford it.  I was on food stamps when I first divorced my ex-husband.  I did not need to feed my children crap.  I fed them mostly from the produce aisle just as I always had.  Rice, beans – from the produce aisle.  Tofu – from the produce aisle.  Veggies and fruits – same.  My crockpot was, and is, my friend.  So is my pressure cooker.

I think the copays must be enforced.  I think everyone should have some financial skin in the game, whatever their income.  I think people need to be held accountable for their health decisions.  How?  I don’t know, other than financial accountability.

Homophobe.  Nope, never have been.  Don’t want to be homosexual, am not homosexual, not wired that way, but could care less if they want to get married.  Go ahead, be my guest.  The political ramifications of homosexuality in our modern society however….*F* that to be blunt.  If you’re gay and you want a wedding cake, then don’t sue the Christian baker who doesn’t want to make it for you.  Go to a baker who doesn’t give a shit.  Ferchrissakes,  buy a clue already.  All you’re doing is creating an even more hostile environment for yourselves where you’re going to be less safe and more likely to be the target of hostilities in the long run.  And you’re giving nut ball extremists Christians fuel for their Satanic agenda fantasies.  As to access to medical care, I really don’t care if you’re gay or straight, bi or a sexual.  If your sexual behavior makes you more at risk for certain things then that’s something we need to discuss, but other than that I honestly don’t care.  Your sex life is your business.

Transphobe.  Nope, see homophobe above.  I think they are seriously mentally ill, but I also recognize that population genetics plays out on a much larger scale than many realize.  I had a neighbor for 2 years who was transgender male to female.  In that time I went from being sympathetic to pretty well fed up.  No, you are not a special snowflake.  No, your needs and wants do not trump mine.  No, you are not entitled to special treatment.  No, you do not deserve to get angry when people mistake you for a cross dressing man because you won’t get the laser treatments for your face, and you refuse to work on the feminine voice and physical behaviors.  And most importantly, the world does not revolve around transgender issues, and not everything is related to transgender issues.

Islamophobe.  Nope.  Although I do have to say that the Golden Age of Islam was the product of Shia Islam, not Sunni.  Shia valued ancient knowledge, both spiritual and practical, and were the keepers of this knowledge and in fact kept it alive by employing the peoples from the areas they conquered in teaching *them* this knowledge.  They are the mystics of the religion of Islam.  All of the radical Muslims in the world arise from Sunni Islam.  Wahabists, ISIL, Daesh….all of them.  They are now, and have from the start, persecuted the Shia.  Their goal was, is, and shall always be, to wipe them from the face of the earth.  Along with the rest of us who just won’t bend over and convert.

White nationalist.  Nope.  Please refer back to racist, and to islamophobe, and conservative.  I care that two of my ancestral homelands on my mother’s side, Germany and France, have been turned into cesspools of terror and violence, and the countries are becoming unrecognizable as their unique identities they cultivated over thousands of years are being systematically destroyed.  I care that my grandparents’ homeland, Ireland, is suffering the same fate.  I care about preserving the cultures that I came from, about preserving the peoples that I came from, about making sure they continue to exist in the future, not becoming subsumed in the current hyper saturation of incoming (invading?) cultures that have no interest in assimilating whatsoever.  I care that Sweden, my sons’ ancestral homeland via their great grandparents, has been turned into something completely unrecognizable.  I don’t want to see the cultures and countries that produced my ancestors disappear completely, to become something unrecognizable as what they have been.

Alt-right.  Still not quite sure what this is supposed to mean, even though I’ve read up on it.  If it means I think people should take responsibility for their actions, to work for their stuff, to be good citizens, to fight corruption by getting involved in a responsible way, to raise their children to be the same, then I guess I am.  Nazi?  Meh.  Hitler had some crazy ass ideas.  He also had some good common sense ideas.  Like anyone else.  The too bad part is that the crazy ass ideas were so awful we can never explore the good ones, simply because he thought of them.

And BTW.  Calling me any or all of these epithets will get you …. exactly nowhere.  Because the power of these has been expended in the last year.  I rather suspect I represent the backbone of America now, more or less.

The saddest part?  Without changing most of my political viewpoints, I have gone from being a liberal in my youth to being called all of these things in my middle age.  Because they political spectrum has shifted THAT FAR in 30 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gene splitting. Or something.


So.  Have been in a sort of an argument with the writer of a Folkish Asatru blog.  I think I quite upset him by saying that I don’t think you have to be white to worship the N. European Gods.  And that I would rather raise a horn with an honorable Black Man ™ than with a white guy without honor and full of hypocrisy.  Which was not aimed at him, but at the Fearless Leader of HUAR.

I also said that in America, given our history, it’s quite likely that said Black Man ™ has more than a dollop of N. European ancestry in him.  So if he wants to worship Odin, or Freyja, or whoever, I’m not going to question him on it.  Because I am an actual polytheist.  I believe the Gods have agency.  And agendas.  And they choose who they choose.  They call who they call.  I’m sure many have been called, but few answer. ETA  I do think the call is a LOT easier to hear if you share the same ancestry with the Gods, and a LOT easier to answer.  Those who do, though, have been bestowed a GREAT gift, in my opinion, by those Gods.

Said writer said I am right, that he and other folkish heathens have no desire to limit people from worshipping the N. European Gods, that said folkish heathens simply have no desire to worship with said Black Man(tm) – mind, he did not say those exact words.  But that was the gist of it.  He also said he would not worship with me (gist again).  Because of what I said. But I find it interesting that he never said he wouldn’t worship with a white guy without honor, which was the point of my response in the first place.

Which leads me to ask:  is the color of one’s skin more important than their deeds?  How white do you have to be to be in his tribe?  Is looking white enough, or do you have to produce a pedigree?  How about a cheek swab?  What if you have a wop in the wood pile, as my father in law likes to say?  Does that exclude you?

ETA after reading Stormwise’s comment.  I think I should clarify: I DO think many of those who *appear* to be without Scandinavian/Germanic heritage do in fact have it. I DO think those of those who “look” of another race are hearing the call inherent in their genes, especially here in America. And I DO think an understanding of the history, lore, culture, and values are an important part of the religion. You can’t have orthopraxy without some understanding and “buy-in.”  You certainly can’t have orthodoxy without it! Dogma….another thing entirely.

And what if you’re 100% lily white, Swedish and German in heritage, with grandparents who emigrated and homesteaded here, but you are also a narrow minded jackass who can’t be trusted not to beat his woman and his children, and cheats on his wife?  (I know this person personally)  What if this guy is a straight up racist jackass who calls Mexicans ‘beaners’ and African Americans ‘niggers’  and tries to teach his kids to do the same?  Is this guy OK because of his heritage, even though he behaves without honor?  And if I say that I care more about the deeds of someone, about how they treat themselves and their families and their neighbors and their bodies, and how well they keep their word, than I do about the color of their skin, that makes me not OK to worship with?

Puttin’ it out right here:  I am NOT universalist.  I do NOT believe Asatru is for everyone, any more than Druidism is for everyone.  Or Zoroastrianism is for everyone.  Or Yoruba.  I think we all can agree what universalist religions have gotten us….a couple thousand years of massacres of native peoples because their God is so greedy for ALL the worshippers he orders his followers to kill those who don’t want to worship Him.

Do I think there are cultural differences that sometimes simply cannot be surmounted?  Oh, of course, without a doubt!  And that’s an important factor in a religion like Asatru, where ancestry – and culture, and values, and mores – play such a huge role.  For instance:  Voudun.  I respect the hell out of it.  Believe in the reality of the Gods they worship as much as I believe in my own.  But that religion is not mine, I don’t understand much of the culture, those Gods don’t speak to me, because it’s not for me, I’m not from those people and I know it.

I DO believe in the science that supports genetic expression and epigenetics, and I believe in spiritual inheritance from our ancestors.   Hel, I even believe in genetic memory, I’ve experienced enough times of knowing something I just really shouldn’t know to prevent me from dismissing that out of hand.  I DO believe in the importance of honor.  And honoring one’s ancestors.  And doing what you say you will do.  And being a responsible member of one’s community.  But apparently just saying that I place so much value on the values of our ancestors, means I am not welcome in some Asatru circles, because I would not exclude someone who met the standards of those values, based on the color of his skin.  And I certainly don’t want to go back to the times, not that long ago, when someone had to “pass” as white in order to gain acceptance in society at large.

When I was a child we moved 18 times in 11 years.  I always felt different, uncomfortable, like I didn’t quite belong.  Every time I would finally feel like I understood what my place was, or could be, we moved again.  I was a quiet kid who felt more comfortable in the woods, making a camp, or being in a tree with a book, than with other kids my own age.  I spent my childhood soaked in the fairy tales of Europe in every iteration I could find.  Between the moves and the family, I spent a lot of time watching tribalistic behavior, watching cliques develop and break down, figuring out who would stand by their word and who would not.  I learned to see the true value of people based on their deeds, not their status. And I sure as hell learned to read their bodies and their eyes!  So perhaps I place a lot more value on quietly DOING the right thing than being the LOOK of the right thing as a result.  I don’t make friends easily.  I have a lot of friendly acquaintances, very few friends.  I don’t give friendship lightly.  The ideas of Inner and Outer yard are innate to me.  I grew up with them.

It’s funny but the older I get, the more value those same sorts of people who would have never considered me as friend when I was young, now find that appearances can be deceiving and that deeds actually do matter.  I find myself part of a tribe of people who all happen to value those same virtues.

Ironically, it is my understanding that some of the most vociferous opponents of Americans worshipping the Old Gods come from …. Norway.  And Denmark.  Because American peoples’ ancestors left the Old Country and left their rights to worship the Old Gods there when they left.  And BTW we’re not Norse enough 🙂

 

 

 

Not such a lost art


Spinning in Donegal, 1978

My grandparents on my father’s side come from Mayo and Kerry.  I see the ruddy complexion in my boys (and me) is a ‘thing’ for those of us with Irish ancestry 🙂

When I first sat down at an antique wheel it was as though something ‘clicked’ in my hands.  My hands knew what to do before my brain caught up.  I suspect something like spinning, a skill with such a long history, is carried in genetic memory.

While I can’t speak for my ancestors, who may very well have hated the task, I can say that spinning gives me comfort, a time to meditate, a peaceful space in which to contemplate everything and nothing.

Community, Personal Responsibility, The World Isn’t Fair, Gods.


Atheist alert: this has a lot to do with spirituality and yes, religion. Deal. In my mind science and ‘woo’ co-exist in a dynamic relationship that causes occasional cognitive dissonance, but forces me to continually re-evaluate my worldview. In my view this is healthy and necessary.

Pagan alert: Not Politically Correct Commentary on our community. Deal. If it angers you, perhaps you need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

I’ve been through the wringer for the past six months. In that time I have been places that boggle the imagination. I’ve been a specimen under a microscope. I’ve been betrayed on a fundamental level by those closest to me, and by some of the very systems our society is predicated on as well. And. The truck was stolen, trashed, totaled, rebuilt. I lost a job. I spent money I didn’t have (thanks FIL for the help, more grateful than you’ll ever know) and am in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. I have a degree for a career I can’t work in. And I’m becoming more and more convinced I don’t want to work in it anyway, the way things are moving (see going places one doesn’t want to go, or my previous post). I have discovered, the hard way, that standing up for right doesn’t always mean you will be protected, or that things will work out. Sometimes you will be punished in the worst ways imaginable, and evil WILL prevail in spite of an individual’s or a community’s best efforts.

I’ve maintained a minimal level of spiritual practice through this, even if it has been nothing more than a simple acknowledgement of Deity and thanks for getting through another day. It has been nothing approaching the level of an actual devotional practice though, and I’ve felt that lack ever more keenly as I approached the end of my degree program. Once I finished, and had nothing else to occupy my mind but the drama and tragedies of life, it became a yawning chasm that contributed to my ennui and depression.  I literally couldn’t summon the energy to pray, let alone believe it would work.  I felt as though I just wasn’t worth it, that the Gods had better things to do than deal with me.

I believe in synchronicity. I believe in the fractal nature of the universe – As Above, So Below. I do believe that there are other entities, other dimensions, other realities than our own see/taste/touch/hear/smell reality, and that sometimes we reach out to those other entities/realities – and other times they reach out to us. I believe that things often happen for a reason, and that reason sometimes isn’t readily apparent for a very long time, if ever.  This faith was seriously shaken as a result of the happenings since January.

My children are fundamentalist Christians. Two, at least, were Pagan/anarchists earlier in teenaged life. I believe that they became Christians not because of the actual religion, but because of the structure and community it offers. This is something that very little of modern NeoPaganism offers, and I have seen that over and over and over again in the nearly 20 years I’ve been a Pagan.

In nearly 20 years as a Pagan, I’ve met more people who are trying to get on disability than I ever thought possible. I’ve met people ON disability who constantly cried about how poor they were, and who were no more disabled than I am, who ran side businesses based on cash to augment their disability payments and who actually had nicer things than Mr. TF and I do. I’ve met people who can’t keep a job, who can’t keep a relationship, who can’t keep an apartment, who can’t keep a car, who are using/abusing illegal drugs – and I’m not talking about marijuana here people – or who are abusing prescription drugs. When I worked in the ER I saw more than one person – significantly more than one – I knew from the local Pagan community come into the ER for problems directly related to prescription or illegal drug abuse or as “seekers.” It made for uncomfortable questions from fellow staff members, at the very least.

Many people who are drawn to the Pagan path often tend, in my experience, to be less than reliable on a personal level and tend to make very bad choices. These bad choices are ones for which they tend to not take responsibility. They misuse magick, in my opinion, as a tool to overcome lack of personal responsibility for bad choices rather than as a tool for self-development. Or they use it as a substitute for an actual spiritual relationship with Deity. Magick does NOT substitute for spirituality. And one does NOT need to do magick to enter into a relationship with Deity. Magick is a tool, it can sometimes be a vehicle, but it’s not the object (unless you are a Ceremonial Magician which is another conversation entirely). It’s as though they are drawn to Paganism because they perceive it as the one religion/practice for which they have to take no responsibility, and they can espouse beliefs that NO ONE can tell them are wrong. Cuz personal gnosis, you know.

Because of my experience (and that of my husband as well, I am writing this as an individual but we have shared this conversation many times between ourselves) we have mostly withdrawn from participation in and organization of Pagan events, particularly events like Pagan Pride, public Pagan holidays, Pagan meetups….you get the idea. The embarrassment of being associated with the crazies just simply began to outweigh the benefits of the participation.

And yes, I know there are those in the Christian community as well. However, they tend to be reined in by those who are around them, and either drawn into the fold or shunned. They are self-selecting in their long term participation.

As a side effect of withdrawing from public gatherings, my own spiritual practice has suffered – it’s not just the business of life/school/work/stressors, it’s been that I no longer go to events where I can get my spiritual batteries somewhat recharged because I’m participating in a community of believers. The very thing my children currently have. The thing I envy, even though I do not think a patriarchal herding religion from a desert region from 2000 years ago has any relevance for them – or for me, for that matter. I do ‘get’ why they turned away from a religious practice that *did* and *does* have relevance for them (and me). Because community. It’s important.

I have suspected for quite some time that the Pagans who were serious about their practice, at least in our area, were very secretive, or at the least insular, mainly because of the above. They are responsible adults and take their religion and spirituality very seriously, and they don’t want to associate with people who don’t. So, while believing firmly they’re out there, it also makes it very hard to find or connect with them. Friends of course excepted, but because of school/work commitments it’s made it hard for us to connect with them as well. When we’re all on different schedules and none of them coincide for all of us….you get the idea.

So why am I going on and on about this? Because I am going to a Pagan event for the first time in nearly a decade next month. I’m terrified. And excited. I don’t know if Mr. TF will come or not. He’s much more laid back about his spirituality, and doesn’t feel the need to actually connect the way I do – at least to hear him tell it.  And the way I found out about this event is nothing less than synchronicity.  It’s a Rube Goldberg nest of interconnected coincidences that defy logical explanation.

It’s not just any event though. It’s a Heathen event. I’ve shied away from heathenry for my entire time as a Pagan due to bad press about skin heads and racists who identify as heathen. I didn’t, and don’t, want to be associated with those who think the color of one’s skin denotes one’s worthiness to worship the Old Gods. When I first became a Pagan (or more realistically, realized that my spiritual beliefs were Pagan and I just didn’t know it) I was strongly advised against my interest in Norse spirituality by a Pagan friend who had recently spent 10 years in prison. His experiences there didn’t encourage me to try to follow up.

But recently I’ve been forced to rethink my blanket painting of this community thanks to blogs and websites devoted to heathens, as well as books I’ve had (and read previously) in my library. A recent re-reading of them revealed nothing that actually allows for this view, regardless of the views of a certain vocal percentage of heathens. And as far as I’ve read (which isn’t a lot, but also not nothing), there’s nothing in the lore that allows for this view either. As I stated earlier, I believe in synchronicity. And I believe the Gods call who They call. Regardless of skin color.

What I do know, is that the values Heathens espouse:

Nine Noble Virtues

are the same values I live my life by, and I want to associate with people who share my spiritual outlook as well as my ethics.  ETA:  because it doesn’t embiggen:  Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perserverance.

Illustration courtesy of   My Journey into Midgardr

I am hopeful that I can find a group of people with which to share community and spirituality. Gods know I’m ready after the half year I’ve had.

Makkin Belt


IMAG1052

In the Shetland Islands, knitting is known as ‘makkin.’  Hence the name for my belt.  You see, most production knitting used ergonomic methods that allowed women (and men, and children) to knit quite quickly, with even tension, and allow knitting while walking or caring for family tasks.  In the Shetlands, this involved a knitting, or makkin belt.  It’s worn with the large part on the side, and a double pointed knitting needle (pin, as they’re known in the UK) is inserted into the belt at an angle that allows the needle to remain stationary and enables the hands to maintain a more ergonomic position for a longer period of time.  It also keeps the wrists more or less out of the motion of knitting, which greatly reduces the risk of over use injury.

I purchased the leather, the awl set, the leather needle, and rivets at my local leather shop.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I could only get one of the rivets to stay and “grab” the belt so it’s sewn at the other end.  It was a lesson for next time.  The belt was already made, purchased at the thrift store for something like 50 cents.  It’s stuffed with a surprisingly large amount of tulle, as horsehair – the traditional stuffing, while available – was extremely expensive.  I know, it’s not especially pretty, but I’m hoping it will be functional.  ETA:  I used graph paper to sketch out the basic shape and traced it onto the leather.  It’s approximately 8″ long, and 3″ wide.  I used the 1/8″ diameter awl bit to make the holes for the lacing.  I ‘eyeballed’ the holes both for the lacing and for the needles; I didn’t have a tiny awl for small diameter needles so I used a T pin and made those holes; the larger ones are made with a hand punch awl of an unknown diameter.  They are randomly placed on the surface.

I have noticed lately that knitting causes me to have pain at the base of my thumb near where it joins the wrist whenever I knit for more than an hour or two – even if I am a good doobee and get up and stretch every hour.  I currently have a very large collection of circular needles that I’ve accumulated, because I find they are easier to carry around and use wherever I go. The alteration in my style when I use them, however, causes the pain due to my wrists turning more to flick off the stitches.

I have decided that if I am ever going to be a production knitter I need to become MUCH faster than I am.  I’m no slouch right now, but I really want speed without sacrificing quality.  When I knit with single point needles, I have always naturally braced one against the crease of my thigh or into a pillow next to me, which allows me to knit faster and more ergonomically.  I have no idea where I first learned this, but my paternal grandparents were from Ireland so I may have seen Irish style knitting at a very young age and simply copied my grandmother without realizing it (she passed away a long time ago, I have no real memory of her other than her asking me if I understood – in Gaelic).  Using a knitting belt is a natural extension of my instinct, that will allow me to knit in other places than my couch – and to take it with me anywhere I go.  I did try lever knitting, where the needle is held under the arm, and that hurt my wrists very badly very quickly.

This is a video of Isolda Teague using a knitting belt.  It is probably the most clear in the placement of the belt and the use of the needles that I have seen.

I haven’t tried it out yet, but I am anxious to do so on some sort of project that can be appropriately hidden (like socks) until I get the hang of it.

I suspect that in times to come, when hand made becomes a necessity once again, this will be a good skill to know and to pass along.  And I have enough leather left over to make another belt as well.

Peak Music


I was sitting outside during my lunch break last week.  There was one of the housekeeping staff also outside on lunch; he was listening to music.  As I sat there, I heard songs from the Velvet Underground, Suicidal Tendencies, Def Leopard, and more.  Now, this wouldn’t be surprising except that this young man was just that – maybe 24 or 25.  I was stunned, and after hearing a bit of this, I commented on it.  I said something to the effect that he wasn’t even alive when most of that was popular and I was amazed that he listened to ‘oldies.’  He replied that it was what he grew up listening to, and he likes it better than what passes for music on the radio anyway.  We had a (from my point of view anyway) good talk and even discussed the Ramones and how, as a former punker, my kids were exposed to the same sort of music and one of my sons has the complete collection of the Ramones’ music.  He laughed and said he has it too.

Then, I was at the grocery store yesterday, walking back to my borrowed truck with my bag of purchases.  A young man who couldn’t have been more than 17 was cruising slowly past the front of the store with the windows rolled down, obviously driving his parents’ car, and equally obviously looking for someone.

THIS was blasting out the open window.  I started laughing.  For the second time in just over 8 days I heard music that I grew up listening to, coming from not middle aged listeners like myself, but from young people who *theoretically* should have their own music to listen to and identify with.  I turned to the middle aged man sitting smoking a cigarette at the table on the sidewalk and remarked on it.  I said something to the effect that this kid isn’t much older than I was when this came out!  The man laughed and agreed, and shook his head.

Having listened to some of the newer stuff on the radio I have thought that I was the problem – that I just couldn’t relate to this new stuff because I’m old and I don’t get the references or something.  I remember my mom getting that way, and Mr. TF has shared a story about driving his father somewhere as a teen – dear FIL finally turned to Mr. TF and asked “who ARE these screaming a$$holes?” when forced to listen to some 80’s hair band for too long.

I’m now thinking that maybe young people, particularly those who play an instrument even a little, just don’t care for the modern stuff any more than I do.  I can’t think of more than one or two people I know under the age of 30 who even listen to the radio – they are all either listening to 70’s era punk, or 80’s or 90’s era stuff.  Or they are listening to indie music that defies being stuffed into a single genre.

Have we come to peak music too?  I suspect we may have, if these young people are any gauge.  More than anything it tells me we are on the downslide of our current civilization. (and off topic, I want to know why spelling civiliSation is wrong).

Huh. Maybe writing for school for 5 years has done my writing some good.


Mr. TF has been telling locals about my blog, and some of them have apparently read it.

I’m not ashamed of my positions, and I’ll happily back them up, but it kind of weirded me out for the simple reason that I *know* a lot of these people in the flesh.  I don’t make it a point to broadcast my views publicly because I know many of our associates are extremely conservative ala Glenn Beck, and because frankly some of them don’t have the best critical thinking skills.  And even the ones who are relatively moderate may be aghast that I appear liberal in many areas yet do not toe the liberal party line on many essential issues to the liberal platform.  I’m in a zone that is neither liberal nor conservative really, and I don’t know what you would call it.  I personally call it the common sense party.  Prolly not gonna fly as a national party though, entirely too reality based….

I guess I’ve impressed at least one or two though, at least according to Mr. TF.  I spent tonight re-reading many old posts.  I have to say that I thought I made some good points, and wrote in a semi-compelling fashion.  Some were interesting to read merely because I wrote them so long ago it was like reading someone else’s writing.  Some, of course, were silly and I would not write about that now.

Mr. TF insists my best writing is about political/social stuff.  The interesting thing about those posts is that I stew about stuff for days or weeks, and when I finally sit down to write it usually comes out in a 3 or 4 hour burst.  They are that long only because I need to research my facts in order to link before I post.  I personally HATE reading blogs where authors make all kinds of assertions that, without links to back it up, are nothing but opinion.  Give me your sources, I can make up my own mind, thank you!  Occasionally my own posts have come from reading a blog which is patently trying to leave out critical facts in order to bolster their own shaky case.

I still need to post more on the libertarian issue, but there is SO MUCH HISTORY to the topic that it is frankly overwhelming until I get past the challenges I am currently facing.

I miss my kids and grandkids.  I feel in need of grand baby hugs right now.  Just sayin’.

Measles Schmeasles.


I am SO DAMNED SICK of all the hype about the ‘outbreak’ of measles at Disneyland.  So far, nationwide, there are something like 171 ETA 87 cases connected to Disneyland.  171, 87, people.   And how many have died?  NONE. 

When my children were small, my mother, a former nurse and special education teacher, asked me not to continue with the current vaccination schedule because she had concerns about a possible MMR/autism connection.  Now, keep in mind, this was in the early 80’s, LONG BEFORE DR. WAKEFIELD.  My oldest son did have a change in behavior after receiving his first MMR.  It concerned her enough that she made the request.

She also had concerns based on Japanese research, if I remember correctly, about other problems like ADD/ADHD and vaccine induced encephalopathy.  So I did as she asked.  My children *were* fully vaccinated.  Just not according to the CDC schedule.   And not until they were ready to start school.  The key, I believe is that in the 80’s, and early 90’s, the vaccine schedule was approximately HALF the number it is today, and doctors were much more proactive about NOT giving vaccines to children who were sick.  Today?  Not so much.

Let’s talk about measles for a minute, shall we?  My oldest son is the product of a high school romance, and is actually a half brother to my other two children.  Because I was a single mother for the first part of my oldest son’s life, I had to work to support us.  The day care he went to was in the home of an older German woman, who also watched 4-5 other children.  One of these children got measles when Dear Eldest Son (DES) was 12 or 13 months old (14 mo?).  DES got it shortly thereafter.  And so did I.  Now, DES was too young to receive the MMR yet; it was given at either 15 or 18 months of age then (I can’t remember for sure which).  I, however, had been fully vaccinated as a child and *should* have been immune.  Yes, well.  So, at the age of 19, I spent a week with my child in a darkened house, both of us feverish, rashy, and suffering from headaches and light sensitivity.  And then we got better.

This is the normal course of measles, by the way, in a basically healthy population with good sanitation.  Between 2000 and 2005, I believe there were less than 10 deaths from measles.  There have been ZERO deaths since 2005 from measles.  It’s not exactly a terrifying horrible disease that kills millions in the US every year.  And you should know that the side effects *of* the measles vaccine are the SAME as the measles:  encephalopathy, pneumonia, febrile seizures, death.  Adverse effects per the package insert.  Oh, and you can get measles *from* the vaccine.  This is because it is a live virus vaccine.  12 month old with lab confirmed measles, vaccinated Jan 2015.  The difference is that vaccine induced immunity wears off.  That’s why I got it even though I had been vaccinated.  And that’s why DES got it even though he was breastfed, because my waning vaccine induced immunity couldn’t protect him.  We both are PERMANENTLY immune now, though, because we have actually had measles.  My titers reflect this. 

Contrast my story with this:  Doctor fed up with measles outbreak takes controversial stance.  Oh, yes, those children with measles are such a threat.  It’s such a deadly disease that ZERO people have died in the past near-decade.  Terrible risk, isn’t it Dr. Goodman?

Well, here’s the thing.  The strain of virus in the vaccine is no longer the wild type strain of measles.  This is well documented and can be easily (though expensively) checked when measles is confirmed in lab testing.  So people who are vaccinated, AND up to date on their vaccines, can still get and transmit measles, thanks to genetic drift away from the vaccine strain that causes a less than robust immune response.  The body doesn’t quite recognize measles because it’s not quite the same, but sort of the same, so the immune system can’t decide if it should respond with the antibodies it has already made against the vaccine strain or if it’s something else entirely.  Here is a study that documents the differing immune type responses (in cell cultures) between the two.  Notice the statement that the vaccine strain doesn’t induce the strong immune response that the wild type does.  That’s key to this discussion.  Now I should say that my original major was microbiology and immunology, but I do not pretend to be any sort of an immunology specialist or expert, and this is what I get from the studies I have read.  A less than robust immune response is why people are not immune and get subclinical or atypical disease.

So you get measles, you feel crappy (sometimes) but you don’t look like you have measles.  The good thing is that after you *get* measles, you will actually be immune.  Here are some studies that document measles infection in vaccinated populations:  Subclinical measles in Greenland,   Measles and subclinical measles in Africa,  just for a very small sample.  Google “subclinical measles in vaccinated people” for many many more examples.  In fact, the CDC admits this in the MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) for August 24, 2013:  “Thirteen (8%) of the patients had been vaccinated, of whom three had received 2 doses of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. “  You can read the rest of the report here.

It’s not that uncommon for outbreaks to occur, and the hype over how dangerous it is is dreadfully overstated.  For instance, this Wikipedia  article quotes the CDC as stating in the 20 years after the measles vaccine was introduced, it prevented an “estimated 5200 deaths”….that’s 260 per year.  Now I’m not trying to denigrate 260 people dying every year from measles, it’s still tragic, but hardly on the same level as, say, heart disease in which the CDC estimates 600,000 deaths every year – 1 in 4 deaths EVERY YEAR from something mainly lifestyle related.

My personal suspicion is that, since the CDC makes $36.22 per 10 pack of vaccines it sells to licensed vaccine providers (that’s your local doctor), it has a pretty profound vested interest in making sure the population is forced into receiving the MMR.  This is especially true since the two main virologists who worked at Merck, the ONLY licensed M/M/R vaccine producers in the US, are being allowed to proceed with their lawsuit  against Merck for fraudulently inflating the effectiveness of the mumps portion of the vaccine.

So, in conclusion, I think the CDC is as corrupt as any private pharmaceutical company, and just as financially reliant on vaccine sales for their existence.  And because I think this, I believe they are deliberately chumming up hysteria and mongering fear about a relatively harmless childhood disease in order to protect a part of their revenue stream.  Vaccinate, don’t vaccinate, it’s up to you.  I’m just not that worried about a measles outbreak in my community.  Vitamins A and D, decent nutrition, lots of fluids, sunglasses, and common sense should be all we need to recover without sequelae.  And that’s it.

And now back to the regularly scheduled knitting and studying frenzy that is my life until my final exam on February 18.

 

Pack your bags and f*ck off


ETA: What if we think why it happened is wrong?

I think it must be hard to live in the modern world when trying very seriously to practice a religion from the first millenium. And I think modern radical Muslims have lost sight of the fact that many people converted from other religions to Islam purely because they had more freedoms and more opportunities under the new religion. I say this, that they have forgotten, because they appear to want to turn the world into a repeat of the Catholic empire of the first millenium – overarching, all powerful, controlling every. single. detail. of one’s life including WHEN and HOW you may have sex with your spouse. And, not least, to once again relegate women to a position little better than that of animals. After all, you’re not supposed to have sex with animals. I think if it were not for that prohibition there would be absolutely no differentiating women from animals in the radical Muslim’s mind at all. Why on earth women willingly participate in this – abomination – I really do not understand. This contrasts sharply with Islam from the Middle Ages, when it was the most progressive, science oriented, education promoting, opportunity laden, powerful religion on earth. What happened to THAT Islam? I’ve said before, and I mean it quite seriously, that if I were to go back in time I would want to live in an Islamic country like Turkey, and I would want to be Muslim. There simply were too many opportunities for women in that time to be anything other, at least for me. As compared to the Church in that time I think it would be much better.

I mean, I get that they (both men and women) want to be part of a cause. I get that they want their lives to mean something. I get that they feel cheated of the American Dream (TM) and they want to lash out. But really? To participate willingly in a – not sect, they are most definitely NOT that – transmogrification of a once progressive religion and be relegated to less than fully human (3/5ths to be exact) boggles the mind.

I have said for years, since the 9/11 attacks and controversy, that when peaceful Muslims start speaking out frankly, and shouting down and denouncing their radical baggage, that things will begin to change. When peaceful clerics start condemning radicals and their methods, things will change. The Islamic world has not done so until now because they have felt it is important to be seen as a monolith, that all Muslims are united in religion. The reality is something quite different; since humans practice religion, there will always be differences of opinion on interpretation and practice. There are sects and radicals in Christianity as well, but Christianity is not afraid to disown and denounce radicals whenever and wherever they dare to speak openly.

Which is why, when I saw this news story yesterday, it gave me hope:

Mayer of Rotterdam speaking to fellow Muslims

You go dude. Pack your bags and f*ck off indeed. The tide, one can only hope, is turning.