Anxiety. A PSA.


Look. We all have anxiety, or the great majority of us do. Our society is a 24 hour society now, if you’re salaried your boss likely expects you to complete work however it must be done. If that means taking it home and working until midnight, then that’s what we are expected to do. If it means we are on call, that’s what we do. If it means we don’t take vacation because we might get overlooked for a promotion – or worse, laid off – if we do, then we work endlessly.

Some of us don’t call out even when we should, even when we’re potentially infecting others that can’t protect themselves from our illness. We can’t afford to.

We look around at our homes, which are not as clean as some of us would like, but we’re too tired in the time we have at home to do anything about it. We look at our neglected yards, and realize the same. If we even have a yard to worry about. Some of us are working 2 and 3 part time jobs and barely breaking even – because we can’t find a full time job.

We’re exhausted. We don’t exercise enough, or sometimes at all, because our jobs wear us out and we don’t get enough sleep, because we don’t exercise. It’s an endless feedback loop. Some of us awaken at night with anxiety about what the future might bring, even though we’re exhausted. We spend all too many hours on the computer – as a hiding place to avoid these issues – which causes disruptions in melantonin production and interferes with sleep. We stay up too late and we get up too early, always fatigued and wishing for just one more hour of sleep. We say yes to people when we should be saying no, because we worry about the future monetary situation if we don’t.

I’ve given all the reasons we have anxiety, but it doesn’t do any good to name the problem unless I offer solutions. So here are a few.

Turn the computer or your phone OFF. OFF. Like, totally. Set a time after which you will turn it off, unless you are on call, and realize that the world will go on without you for a time. If you give in and turn it back on, use the time it’s booting to think about whether you really want to get sucked into that morass again. If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, then don’t do it. There will always be tomorrow to get involved in that three ring circus again. Respect yourself enough now to turn it off.

Go for a walk if you can – if your neighborhood is too dangerous, then don’t do it there. Getting fresh air and being around trees and other plants is anxiety reducing. Go to a park if it’s safe, find some place you can safely enjoy a little nature. Even if that’s by walking in the landscaped area of an industrial park.

Dig a hole if you can. Then fill it back in. Or plant something, even better. Seeds are cheap and sometimes people will give them away. There are seed exchange websites and some libraries for seeds. Use your time on the computer to look for a few. Touching dirt actually causes markedly reduced stress and an increase in happiness because the natural soil bacteria and fungi secrete substances that are calming to the brain in that way. We absorb them through our skin, we breathe them in when we turn over the soil, and we help ourselves work through anxiety in this way. The physical exertion of digging a hole will use up all that excess energy that anxiety generates, giving it a physical outlet and dissipating it.

Time, there’s never enough time, right? Well there’s always time for the things we MAKE time for. Volunteer somewhere. Maybe a shelter, a nursing home, the food bank, the library, a hospital, even a church if you are so inclined, or an alternative spiritual center if you are not. Many places have a need for volunteer staff that goes chronically unfulfilled. Giving your time, even an hour a month, away to someone who needs it more than you do is anxiety reducing. Why? Because selflessness reduces anxiety. Giving of ourselves makes us happier. Human interaction – real human interaction, not FB interaction – reduces stress and increases happiness.

Read a book. No, it’s not like a kindle and it’s a little bulkier and harder to carry around, but the mind engages with an actual book in entirely different ways than it does when you are reading off a computer screen. This has been documented in studies. The physicality of an actual book can ground you and help reduce anxiety. You can rub the spine, you turn pages, the scent of the paper and the ink sometimes can be smelled. These are all physical cues that reduce anxiety. If it’s a good novel, you can be carried away to the land in the story and this prevents anxiety from even developing. When you return to the land of reality, you have a vicarious experience that you can retreat to in times of stress and use as an anchor point.

These are only a few things. Not everyone will be able to do them all, most people will be able to do one or two. Even people who are living on welfare and food stamps will be able to do at least some of these. Try one. You might find that not only have you reduced anxiety, you’ve increased happiness and created a better life for yourself.

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Smudging – Alpine Style


Fascinating.

The Weekly Druid

Raeucher-Pfanndl My Räucher-Pfanndl with a selfmade and a bought smudge stick

Smudging is, by now, a ritual that is widely practiced in the Pagan community. What I mostly observe when invited to pagan group ceremonies, though, is the use of Prairie Sage bundled into smudge sticks, a way of smudging as we see some Native Americans doing it.

Sage smudge sticks are a great tool in many ways (easy to carry around with you, easy to light, to hold in your hand etc. etc.) and considering which plant is being used and what it is associated with, it makes so much sense. But as always in my spiritual practice, I ask myself: is there something my ancestors did, or folks still do, that is more connected to me and my own homeland?

So, what I would like to do today is explore a different smudging practice. Please see that as my personal…

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Bad research


You’re going to quote Salon as a serious source? Because that’s not a research article, that’s an opinion piece. And the “research” they link to is a link to Artist International, which is not a research foundation. Another opinion piece.  Shoddy research, shoddy methods, shoddy results – why am I not surprised?  And I’m absolutely certain who ever writes the blog at “Facing the fires within”  has absolutely no understanding of research methods – let alone the fact that simply phrasing a question in one way versus another changes the outcome of the study, sometimes fairly dramatically.

 

http://www.salon.com/2017/09/03/this-is-your-developing-brain-on-white-supremacy/#.Way4AsUE9u8.facebook As I have noted previously, the techniques are similar to the ones ISIS uses for the same reasons.

via An article on brain development and white supremacy — facingthefireswithin

Riiight.


http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_594c46e4e4b0da2c731a84df/amp The recent election has only emboldened these groups but, as the article I posted yesterday shows (https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/anti-semitism-and-white-supremacy/), they have been a major issue for a long time. I am rarely questioned, attacked or otherwise asked about these posts but I will take a moment and explain two reasons I write and post them: It […]

via White Supremacists as the greater terror threat — facingthefireswithin

I may be onto something


When I wrote my post about cross dressing, Frey’s cult, Cybele’s connections I knew there was more to it than just a bunch of transvestites, eunuchs, and gay dudes having their own Gay Pride thing a thousand years ago.

When I was researching my sources for my post on Sumbel, I came across snippets that may relate directly to this.

More coming soon.  I may have found the key that unlocks the mystery.

Women and Sumbel


I was a devout polytheist Pagan for 20 years before I became a heathen.  Practitioner of Asatru.  Devotee of the Old Gods of Europe.  I had a 15+ year devotional relationship to Kali, Hindu goddess of death, sex and magic, prior to Freyja and Frigga reading me the riot act and telling me where to go (and where I belonged).

Heathenry IS the religion with homework (TM) after all, so as a new practitioner I did what any responsible devotee would do and set about reading.  I was already a voracious reader so it was merely a matter of changing my reading material from anthropological and archeological reading material to adding in the Eddas, some of the sagas, Tacitus and Saxo Grammaticus, other foundational books, and of course The Culture of the Teutons by Gronbech.

I have been a history buff, particularly pre-Christian and early medieval buff, for many years.  It has been enlightening to me to go back and re-read articles, research papers, and archeological journals looking for evidence of indigenous practices that continued in post-conversion times.

I actually recognized many cultural practices including frith in my own upbringing during my first reading of The Culture of the Teutons.  So much so that I nearly turned away from the path I had been set on.  Having been a victim of frith when justice should have prevailed I was exceptionally sensitive to the idea of protecting wrong doers simply because they are family members.  I have experienced the dark side of that.  Ultimately my piety and devotion to the Gods of this path kept me on it, helped me to see both my failings and the failings of my family in keeping the traditions alive, and I won through my crisis of confidence.  I came to a new understanding of frith and its potential pitfalls, and the importance of strong tribe in order to counteract frith gone awry.

The idea of women being holy in and of themselves, carrying within them the luck of the family and the holiness of the home, was a piece of the puzzle for me that, when it slipped into place, made many matters, both spiritual and mundane, very clear for me.  The knowledge of a deeper sort of holiness (not to be confused with spiritual purity) (and definitely not to be confused with modern day feminism) was a powerful revelation.  And, as with many things that are perceived through a womanly perspective, completely different than power in a manly context.  The power that I hold as a woman is a power WITH.  Not a power OVER.  Oh, surely, when you piss off a woman enough she may use it over you, and naturally some women have always been warrior types – but in general, a woman has the capability for comfort and calm that just doesn’t exist in most males.

Women were acknowledged to have a closer relationship to “the powers” as they are called than men.  She also has a closer contact with the luck of the family.  She was acknowledged to be the keeper of the frith of the home, the keeper of the luck of the home.  The long hair of women was a token of recognition of their sacred holiness.

Bryan Wilton is not the first to recognize the role that female beauty plays in the human psyche, he is only the most recent.  He is also one of those who acknowledges how beauty, twisted and degraded, distorts the holiness of the feminine and prevents proper viewing of the Divine Feminine.

Feminine beauty as acknowledged by men is a recognition of their holiness, their place in the cosmos as divine bearers of the positive aspects of frith, grith, their natural place as weavers of peace.  Beauty emotionally disarms men, if it is properly displayed and perceived.  It is meant to.  Ideally, it physically disarms them as well so they are able to become holy in their own right and to open themselves to the divine.

In Gronbech we have documentation on the importance of men drinking together.  What may not be evident to the modern viewer is that women did not generally participate in this drinking together.  Women generally did not drink with men except on special particular occasions such as at a wedding feast.  Women served men drink.  They smoothed over quarrels as they developed.  They plied their beauty in the service of their families to weave frith, to weave peace, to create comradeship and brotherhood.  “…the spiritual service performed as part of a Germanic wife’s duty was indeed her essential work as a weaver of frith.”  (Gronbech, p 287)

In Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology Vol 1 he speaks at length on wise women, demi-goddesses, and their relationship to womanhood in general as well as their significance to men.  Germanic law doubled the weregild for injury to a woman compared to the same offense done to a man.  He notes that greater sacredness was ascribed to the prophesies of women.  He also notes that even after the Christian conversion, men placed the good will of women on a par with God in importance to the success of their war efforts.  A man could simply speak the name of his beloved and this would call her holiness to him for protection and victory, giving him courage.  But on the opposite hand, a woman forfeits her protection and holiness “the moment she takes up weapons” (p 397)

Why am I going on about this??  What in all that’s holy does this have to do with today??  What’s it got to do with heathenry or Asatru??  

Because Sumbel.

I was recently at a Midsummer event during which high sumbel took place.  It began at 9 and continued until after midnight.  It was a co-ed event, and there were approximately 1/3 more men than women participating.  It was not organized by rank, other than the high gothi of course drank first, then it went in a clockwise spiral around the rings of participants.   The first round consisted of toasts and invocations to the God of the drinker’s choice.  The second round consisted of boasts of living ancestors, the next round to dead ancestors, and then finally any oaths that were to be made.

I did not participate though I sat through it all.  My reasoning for non participation was simply that I don’t think women should participate in sumbel with men.  Why?  Well, because I’ve done a lot of research regarding it and my lone documentation for women participating is post – conversion where a minne is drank to St. John in a church and the priest passes the cup to the congregation to drink after blessing it.  What I’ve found regarding women’s participation in sumbel, other than passing the cup, is vanishingly small.

Women did drink together, a sharing of the cup, but they did so with each other, separately from the men though generally at the same event.  There is a short paragraph in Gronbech relating that “those vessels wherein women drink to one another across the floor shall go to the daughters.” (Gronbech p 287)  I would assume that, generally, this means that the woman of the house would serve the men first, and as the formality of the sumbel reached its peak and general conviviality took over, that women would retire to their own gathering.  Did they have their own sumbel?  We don’t know.  That they likely made oaths, remembered the ancestors, and drank to the Gods would only make logical sense.  But to call that a sumbel?  I think probably not.

This, to me, relates back to the preceding paragraphs regarding the essential sacredness of women, their essential holiness that was signified by their long hair.  Sumbel was a way for men to regain holiness via sacred drink together, to drink to the Gods and reaffirm their relationship both to their lord and to their Gods, and to make oaths that would further bind them to both.

I know feminism has done much to return to women the status they had in pre-Christian times.  I myself have benefitted from the advances of feminism – at least first wave feminism.  I am grateful for those advances, for the acceptance that women should have equal status in humanity as men.  I don’t think we are interchangeable however.  I was a good firefighter and a good paramedic, but let’s face it – there are some things I’m never going to be able to do, no matter how strong I am, because I’m not a man.  I’m a woman.  Because I’m a woman, I have different priorities and different views on things.

Men gain holiness by their acts, women have holiness by their sex.  And they lose it by their acts, if those acts include taking up weapons.  Not to say that women couldn’t or didn’t.  There are so many tales of women taking up weapons in defense of their homes, of becoming warriors in their own right, that to try to imply that they were just wilting flowers would be ludicrous.  BUT.  They did so knowing, understanding, that they were sacrificing something very important by doing so.  One thing we do not have documentation for is how they regained their essential holiness.  This is something I will have to explore at greater length some time in the future.

I simply don’t think women should participate in sumbel, even if equal rights is a thing.  This is based on my research into these interrelated things.  If women have sumbel, it should be a separate thing, honoring their own personal patron Gods/esses.

The only women who should participate in sumbel are the women passing the cup (who are not drinking) and the women who have taken up weapons (who are drinking, because they need to regain their holiness the same as men).  Yes, our Gods evolve, yes, our religion evolves, but if we are to revive this thing we call Asatru, heathenry, the heathen mindset, then we need to do it in this area as well.

 

 

 

 

The viability of the crafts industry


I wrote this in 2010. It’s as relevant now as it was then, and Jon Upsal’s Garden’s post from yesterday reminded me of this.

The Tin Foil Hat Society

Once upon a time, all over the world, there was a thriving textiles industry — or rather, many, defined by geography and the availability of raw materials with which to produce textiles.  Thousands upon thousands of workers, toiling each and every day to produce what little they could due to the lack of fossil fuels to assist in their labors.  Guilds sprung up in many areas, both to assist members in receiving a fair price for their goods and also to regulate what, how much, and by what process goods could be produced.  This both limited and protected those who belonged; it was a fair trade off and one that worked for many hundreds of years.  Then came the industrial revolution and these antiquated ways went on the trash pile of history.  Or so it seems.

It should be noted that many of the textiles of the past cannot —…

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Reblog: Our post x-world


Jon Upsal’s Garden has a post on his blog today that I think is very good. It talks about re-creating a pre-Christian mindset, but even if you have no interest in doing that it is still very thought provoking.

Some of his comments inspired me to post this in his comments section:

“We should try to choose the hand-made over the mass-produced, even though we realize it might cost more.”

There’s a concept called amortization that is never taken into consideration except when dealing with finances, but I really think it should apply to every purchase. I am a hand weaver. I sell my towels for at least $20 per dish towel. But.

#1. They’re large. Most of my towels are 15″ by 20-22″

#2. It’s locally purchased fiber and preferably produced in the USA by American growers and processors, if I haven’t spun it myself.

3. They will last 20 years at least. Even with bleach stains, they hold up. I have towels that as far as doing their job, work as well as they did after their first wash. They are faded from repeated bleaching but they will last another 10 years as well as they have the first 10 years.

4. They are woven more densely, they only have two sides that have seams as opposed to most commercially woven dish towels which are seamed on all 4 sides, and the seams are generally stitched much more carefully.

5. You are supporting a local craftsman/woman who will in turn put that money back into your own community. Most of us are acutely aware of the importance of supporting our own craftsmen and women and will happily spend a little more in supplies to get a better quality product in return. Our products are better because THEIR products are better.

If you buy towels from Costco, they may last 3-5 years at best. If you buy dish towels from the dollar store, they might last a year. If you amortize the cost of buying the same dish towels over and over again, over a period of 20 years, it only makes sense to buy from a weaver. You pay a little more per towel but you don’t have to buy again for 2 decades – or a lifetime, depending on if you buy cotton or linen. It just makes sense.

I think that you are on to something by pointing out the tribal mindset inherent in hand crafts people. And in the magic inherent in the crafts themselves, the world view they — almost require — to produce quality. I have myself done much meditation, much magical workings while spinning or weaving, even if the extent of the magic was to will strength and good will into each fiber, luck and joy on the wearer/buyer.

And the final, probably most important reason, to support your local craftsman/woman, is because they are the keepers of the knowledge of the skills. If they give it up, there will be no one to teach it to the next generation.

Our Post x-world