bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Thoughts for Thursday: Are there Nazis in Valhalla?

I saw this meme a few Thursdays ago shared on FB in one of the larger Pagan groups (of which I am a member).

At the time, I assumed that it had been shared in that group simply because it features Thor…and it was Thursday.

So I didn’t think much about it beyond that, because let me tell you, it can be difficult to find a variety of good artwork featuring Thor.

However, within these last two weeks, I have seen this meme shared within various Heathen and Pagan groups over a dozen times.

In that, I will admit that I have been constantly reminded of it simply because it has been cluttering up my FB feeds.

Though after the third or fourth time seeing it shared, I began to idly wonder if there were Nazis in Valhalla…

But again, I’ll admit that I didn’t think too deeply upon it.

Because, like most memes, I noticed that while it garnered a lot of likes and shares, there was little to no commentary on the premise of whether or not the meme was based on some sort of ‘fact’.

(Yes, sometimes I am the sort of nerd that sees particular memes that share ‘historical’ facts that I know to be untrue…but usually I’ll scroll past. Once in a while, a particularly popular meme will spur me to research a particular topic to satisfy my own intellectual curiosity, but other than that, I don’t put stock in the historical accuracy of Internet memes. I doubt most memes are created to foster intellectual debate; most memes strike me as a vehicle for opinions.)

~~~

And so here it is again, on another Thursday, and I awoke to see that the first post on my feed concerned this meme.

Yep, after a week, someone in one of my groups decided to do a dump post meant to call out zir opinion on several ‘popular Viking memes’ – including this ‘No Nazis in Valhalla’ meme.

Evidently this particular meme was the one that set zir over the edge.

So, this meme generated a rather intense discussion upon whether or not there would be Nazis in Valhalla, which touched briefly upon the essence of Valhalla as a training ground for Ragnarok, the role of Valkyries, and what’s most interesting to me, a debate/speculation upon the spiritual beliefs of Hitler.

So…spurred on by that discussion – and based upon the two main premises that Valhalla is a training ground for Ragnarok, and that the Valkyries choose the ‘best’ and most capable warriors – my thoughts wandered in the direction of whether or not the morality/political stance of a warrior ** was part of the equation.

Now, based upon what I’ve gleaned from pursuing a liberal arts education (majoring in English history and minoring in linguistics), as well as the many books, articles, and all the academic discourse I’ve heard and read over the last ten years regarding Norse society, my first response was that there would be no Nazis in Valhalla.

And I will admit that the case against there being Nazis in Valhalla was based upon my vague recall of meme-worthy factoids such as

  • the existence of the plain in Niflheim where Nidhogg eats the unrighteous (murderers, rapists, et al)
  • the much-shared factoid that Eric the Red was so violent in deed and in temperament that he was banned from both Scandinavia and Iceland, and therefore was inspired to seek settlement elsewhere (i.e the New World/America)

And in response to my understanding of what I’d gleaned from that liberal arts education, I felt safe in making that surface conclusion that the Norse may have looked upon the beliefs and actions of the Nazis as violent and unjust.

But then, it occurred to me: as history notes, the Nazis saw their nationalistic goal to overtake Europe as just and righteous, as they felt it was their destiny/birthright as a nation and a race.

And I do not believe that many historians would dispute that the Nazis had any personal qualms about attempting to achieve their nationalistic goals by any means necessary. (“The ends justify the means…”)

And so it is that the Nazis perceived themselves as just, as righteous, as doing ‘right’ and that single-minded determination to achieve their destiny/goals by any means necessary led to genocide and a world war being waged in response to their attempts.

And oddly enough, a stray thought about Odin kicked in:

One of Odin’s by-names is “Glad of War.”

Not “Glad of Righteous War”

or

“Glad of Just War”

just

“Glad of War.”

Though the consensus of the discussion concerned the purpose of Valhalla being a place where the most skilled and competent warriors are to be gathered and trained for Ragnarok, no one speculated upon Odin or His agenda at all, so I do not know why this thought occurred to me at all.

Glad of War, glad of war, glad of war….

And yet, I could not shake it.

So which is it?

Are warriors chosen for Valhalla based upon their skill *and* their morality?

Or

Are they chosen based solely upon their skills and abilities?

And if warriors were to be chosen solely upon their skills and abilities, perhaps only then there could be Nazis in Valhalla.

Hmmm.

What do you think?

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Deeper.

Deeper

 

Written by Jacob Ibrag

 

It feels like sinking.

Like you’re trying to break the waters

surface with every kick your body delivers.

You remember that panic causes

more panic so you try to remain placid.

Deeper.

You think about love and if you really

had it.

If it was really love then why hasn’t it lasted?

Maybe if it was real love, you would’ve

already been found.

And if it was real love, how could it ever die out?

Deeper.

You try forming

a symbiotic relationship with the water, letting it take you so you can become a part of it.

You’ve always belonged here.

Deeper.

You let go, giving up the fight.

Remembering

that it was all in your head as you wake up in the middle of the night.

Well. I suppose that this was bound to happen at some point.

As many of you are aware, I have been running an Etsy shop since August 2017* – so that comes out to just about a year now.

I had been planning on writing some sort of ‘shop anniversary’ post to that effect on my shop blog, along with promoting some new product offerings.

I’d also intended to spotlight my custom work option, as I had received my very first custom order back in June

Aside from it being my very first custom order, I was very excited for several other reasons –

  • The custom order was going to feature runes! (Runes are – and have always been – one of my favorite subjects to embroider onto cloth, and my hand-embroidered rune cloths have continually garnered me a lot of compliments and have always sold well in the shop.)
  • As well, the custom order was going to give me an opportunity to use my highest quality variegated threads, as the customer insisted that the item be hand-stitched entirely in organic cotton.
  • And finally, in further discussion with the customer, I was told that this item – an embroidered altar cloth featuring a bindrune/sigil bordered by Elder Futhark runes – was being created at the request of a small Heathen kindred. The customer, it turned out, was not a Heathen himself; he informed me that he was a chaplain who claimed to be speaking in their stead, as this group of Heathen men wanted this devotional item to be created for their small worship space….in a halfway house in Kentucky.  As a result, he implied that he was not familiar with their practices, he admitted to simply wanting to help ‘these fine men’ by finding ‘a skilled artisan to create something for their practice.’

 

So I emailed the chaplain the breakdown of my prices.

He had mentioned that he would be paying for the cloth ‘as a gift for them,’ as he implied that the men may not have their own means, so he was very concerned with keeping prices ‘affordable.’ He thanked me for understanding his position.

Having just gotten an embroidery machine, I offered him a deal that it might be cheaper – and a lot faster – to machine embroider the design on a cloth to keep the costs down.

But he insisted that ‘that they had insisted on everything being entirely hand-embroidered’ as ‘the men’ had especially liked [my] hand-embroidery work’.

In an effort to do this, he suggested that I simply customize an altar cloth with a hand-embroidered EF border that was already posted for sale in my shop (for $15 USD) by hand-stitching ‘the rune symbols [he’d] get from the men’ in the center.

So I told him that it would take me some time (about a week) to complete the hand-embroidering of an image of the size he’d specified (6″x6″) on the cloth, and I would charge him $25 for that, bringing the total cost to $40.  I thought I was being fair

He said nothing regarding that price one way or the other, but he again reiterated ‘[his] position [that he] was ‘doing a favor for these men,’ and seemed to imply that I should see it as I’m doing a favor for them too, i.e ‘You are doing such a favor for these men – perhaps you will do me a favor too?’

Of course, I didn’t – and I still do not – have a problem with creating something for other Heathens to use.

So I asked him about thread colors and type – and he checked with the men – and responded that they’d specified that it should only be 100 organic cotton, in variegated blues, to match the border.

I told him that I would have to order a spool of 100% organic cotton in variegated blue…and reminded him that the already existing cloth he’d indicated that I customize was stitched in poly-cotton.

And I suggested that he might purchase that altar cloth for $15 as a start, or he could pay the $40 for it outright, and I would stitch the whole thing in 100% cotton once I received the thread (which would take another few days to arrive.)

And he seemed pleased with that. The custom order seemed a go, so far.

As a matter of fact, after going back and forth with the customer over the next few days after, his open-minded optimism was contagious, and I will admit that his rhetoric became more and more flattering. He thanked me for my ‘graciousness in taking on the custom order’, and he thanked me several times ‘on behalf of these grateful men,’ and he forwarded me the bindrune sigil that the men had requested be handstitched in the center.

I looked at it, seeing that Othala was the most prominent rune in the center of the bindrune

Now, while I know that Othala is referenced on the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbols Database, the website does recognize that runes are, by themselves, not racist symbols – but cautions that ‘the Nazis adopted this rune, among others, into their symbology, causing it to be a favorite symbol among white supremacists.‘ Therefore, the site does caution that many of the runic symbols should be considered in context with other symbols and phrases.

But, as Othala is a rune that is featured in the spelling of both Loki and Odin’s names – and I wear runic jewelry featuring their names – I would be hypocrite to be offended by Othala now, wouldn’t I?

(Actually, the central bindune itself struck me as possibly an attempt at making an almost-bindrune of Odin’s name, as it could almost pick out a Nauthiz in the angle on the left side – and of course, Isa as a straight vertical line could be said to appear in many other runes! – but I could find neither Thurisaz or Dagaz, so…hmmm)

So I looked at the phrase – for context – that arched over the bindrune.

It was in German.

How lucky of me to have been learning German, eh?

(I mean, I had just been winding my way through a module on ‘Spirituality words’ on Duolingo.)

It read Ehre und Treue

Upon Googling ‘Ehre‘….

Blut und Ehre‘ is the first entry to come up: “Blut und Ehre (English: Blood and Honor) is a German National Socialist (Nazi) political slogan used by Hitler Youth, among others.’

Um… there is no getting around that, I suppose. Ehre is always defined as honor... and it does seem to feature in a lot of white supremacist slogans, at least, according to Google.

(I double-checked with a few German speakers, just to make sure, and was told by a few that the exact words in that phrase, above -either spoken or written in German – are definitely frowned upon to a great degree.)

So. Honor and….

Now, Duolingo tags treue as translating to English as ‘faith’ as a primary definition in many of the word-lessons in the ‘Spirituality’

But again, Google has other ideas.

Treue is translated as loyalty.

Honor and loyalty.

*sigh*

First Google entry for German phrase containing ehre und treue?

*cross-references to a Wikipedia page about slogans pertaining to the SS*

Second entry?

*The ADL’s hate-symbols page – referencing variations on German phrases associated with the Waffen SS (the military wing of the SS) *

*sigh*

So that first custom order I was excited about?

Yeah.

Not so much.

Does the chaplain know?

He denies it. He denies knowing anything about the possibility that these men…could be white supremacists.

After all, he doesn’t know runes….and remember, he only wanted to ‘help these fine men.’

Perhaps I should be glad that he was reluctant to discuss payment.

He positively avoided it.

I think he might have been trying to convince me that I should give him a break and create this altar cloth for free, as a favor to him and as a favor to them.

Because they’re such fine men who like my work.  And they don’t…have means of their own. Isn’t that enough?

But it’s just as well.

Because I’ll say it again:

I didn’t – and I still do not – have a problem with creating devotional items for other Heathens.

But some might take issue with the fact that, if given the choice, I am not keen on making devotional items for white supremacists.

~~~

1395 words later…thanks for reading!

~~~

* In case you did not know, I offer hand-embroidered (and now some machine embroidered) altar cloths and other devotional items, such as tarot bags, altar tokens, rune sets and the like.

Interview question….


Yes, I am a hard worker who happens to make almost everything harder than it has to be.

And that unfortunate bit of personal truth functions in me much to the dismay of damned near everyone.

Month for Loki, Day 28: Celebration.

(Psst…I am aware I am a wee bit behind, but here we go…)

So!

Did you know that July 28th is Peruvian Independence Day?

Well, I did not.

So, this past Saturday, my husband and I were invited to the home of the parents of my son’s (Peruvian) fiancee -to celebrate! 🙂

Much like Fourth of July in the US – Peruvian Independence Day is celebrated with much food, drink, and revelry in the form of dancing, music, and singing.

Yes, we drank and ate some great barbecue.

And, as it is a tradition in her family, both my husband and I were persuaded into not only singing karaoke, but dancing.

(As for anyone who has been following me for a while – the reason why this experience may fall under the auspices of an offering for Loki, is that I am prone to social anxiety. This sort of situation – a large social gathering that most non-socially anxious folks would consider an enjoyable party – is a one-way ticket to a panic attack for me.  The added aspect regarding family and hospitality was a not-so-surprising feature of the day, and the importance of that was not lost on me as well. Besides, one might recall that I have been promising Him that I would dance and/or sing at a social event for years.)

And so, I finally did just that.

I danced several rounds and I sang not one but several songs, much to the surprise of my husband and children.

There was such an air of joyful celebration throughout the day.

My husband and I felt honored to be invited to share in that joy, and I can honestly say that the hours (yes, hours!) flew by.

It was truly an amazing day.

 

And one of the most delightful surprises of the day was in the traditional drinking of a particular cocktail – the Pisco Sour:

It consists of Pisco – a clear brandy made of fermented grapes which originate from Peru.

The traditional form of the Pisco Sour contains a shot and a half of Pisco, an egg white, a dash of simple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Or, in the case of a quick fix  – a shot of high-quality Pisco, a splash of ginger ale, and a few lime slices.

It was rather tasty – and the ‘quick version’ as you might imagine, is deliciously similar to another of my favorite drinks -the Irish Buck 🙂

 

Month for Loki, Day 27: Cartography

We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.

I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography–to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.
~ Michael Ondaatje  (The English Patient)

~~~

I stumbled upon this lovely quote on a friend’s blog today, and he spoke of being inspired by its metaphors.

I was so moved by it as well that I felt the need to share it.

smokeillustration

Month for Loki, Day 25: Mouth

Month for Loki, Day 24: Pieces of poetry, pieces of prayer

Loki, bring me to change

Loki, teach me innovation

Loki, be the cleansing fire

The source of my liberation.

Hail Loki!

Truth-Singer

Gift-Bringer

Hearth-Fire

Funeral-Pyre

Innovator

World-Breaker

Month for Loki, Day 23: Mirror

There are a few particular things that have cropped up again and again in my devotional practice with Loki over the years, and I thought I’d write about one of these today, involving mirrors.

Almost from the beginning, whether it be in meditations, dreams or visuals, Loki has always directed me to consider mirrors, and the concept of mirrors.

At first, I was confused, wracking my brain for what it could mean – these visuals of mirrors, references to mirrors and all these literal and metaphorical meanings associated with mirrors.

And it got me to thinking about posts I’ve made in the past regarding the various angles I’ve considered when faced with a visual or a reference to mirrors…and it amazes me now to think of all of the layered paths that this one thing has led me to.

In the beginning, I thought Loki was making some sort of commentary about appearances, and perhaps, self-love…maybe even conceit.

But then as time went on, I began to wonder if the reference to mirrors was Loki indicating the importance of self-work.

And then, there’s the term, mirroring – which can be understood as a form of body language – born of the human desire to ‘cognitively sync’ with others – on an unconscious level. (But there’s another layer to mirroring which is done on a conscious level by those seek to engage/teach/engender desired behavior while generating empathy and connection, by therapists, teachers, and salespeople.)

And then, I came across this concept – of what you expect is what you will receive – by way of the Bhagavad Gita.  A helpful tidbit of information to be sure, but even more so on another level, as this particular bit can be found in the fourth chapter, eleventh verse – an amusing coincidence that I came across the 411 (information!) quite by chance in a religious text that was unfamiliar to me at that time, and suddenly I was making the connection to how the Gods can act as mirrors.

With that reference, and what followed was to discover myself being re-directed to a mystic path, complete with nudges toward Rumi

    

 

Hafiz:

and Pema Chödrön:

 

which re-iterated the message that we are reflections of the Gods, as well as the Gods can be reflections of us, and sometimes how we are caught gazing into each others’ eyes, or perhaps dancing, but more often than not, caught up in the illusion of separation from Them, if not downright rejection of Their messages to us.

~~~

But what do I know?  Loki has a thing with mirrors, I suppose.

But I’m not the only one who sees this connection, as a fellow member of a Lokean group shared this observation:

    “I wanted to understand why so many saw hatred, rage, evil in Loki. I didn’t understand how His reputation could be so different from what I personally experienced. The message I received back is that Loki is a mirror. Many of the gods are, but Him especially. The reason some get back hatred and fear is because they give Him hatred and fear.

But when you give Him love and laughter, He sends it back and magnifies it. So the love that you feel coming from Him, the kind that brings tears to the eyes, is a reflection of the beauty of your own heart.”

~~~

And finally, the surprise (which should not surprise me now) that I came across the other day…while searching for something else entirely.

I was looking for the references to the Spegilmynd – as it is the basis for a powerful runic sigil that mirrors negative energy sent against oneself and reflects it back to the sender:

 

 

And I stumbled upon this definition on Glosbe, an online Icelandic dictionary service:

Spegilmynd (Icelandic) noun – “mirror, reflection, echo”

and the provided contextual example was a portion of an Icelandic prayer:

(Icelandic) “Það er bæn mín og blessun að þegar þið virðið fyrir ykkur eigin spegilmynd, munuð þið sjá handan ófullkomleikans og sjálfsefans og greina hver þið sannlega eruð: Dýrðlegir synir og dætur almáttugs Guðs.“

(Trans. English) “It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection, you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self-doubts and recognize who you truly are: glorious sons and daughters of the Almighty Gods.”

 

It’s funny how these concepts circle around again and again.