Something I have not done in a very long time is sat down to coffee with my Ancestors and Gods. I did it tonight/this morning, after taking care of the offerings and laying out fresh ones otherwise, all water, except for the stick of incense I left at the altars for the Ancestors, for the Dead and for the Gods.
I had two stools that belonged to people who are family to me, gifted to me before they took off for California. One stool holds a Native American head carved into an arm-sized log that I give offerings to as representative of some of the Native Ancestors in the ways I have been brought into. A while back I had used the other stool as part of an Ancestor elevation working, but it has sat in a corner since. Tonight, I brought up some coffee my wife had brewed earlier in the day. At first, I was going to sit on the floor at the Ancestor altar. I couldn’t see many of Them from down there, and besides, They wanted to see me too. So I dusted off the old stool, and sat at the Ancestor altar, lighting the candles in Ask and Embla’s tree candle-holders.
At first it was just…quiet, meditative even, serving Them coffee then myself. I usually drink my coffee with non-dairy sweetener like Coffee Mate or something like that, but it didn’t seem right in this context. So, I sat and drank my black coffee, and talked with the Ancestors about the week I’d been having, thanking Them for Their support, that kind of thing. Mostly it was quiet, just being in one another’s Presence. When it was over, and I thanked Them for coffee with me, I blew out the candles, and later lit some incense. I walked away from Their altar with a sense of peace and being cared for.
My experience with the Gods was similar, but even more silence, being quite brief with my end of talking, mostly thanking Them for Their Presence and blessings on my family, and helping me through the last week. It was mostly quiet, and considering the Work I’ve been doing for Them of late, I was okay with that. I left Their altar, after lighting incense for Them, with a sense of peace, but it…was deep. More than a sense of peace, really. A sense of rightness, even with all the challenges I and my family are facing right now.
I got the message to clean my cups out after each time with the Ancestors then Gods, and returned the cup to the altar, my cup’s holder facing me, and Theirs to Them. It looks like both sets of Holy Powers want this to be a more regular thing, so here’s a cup to a new tradition I’ll be keeping. Thanks for the inspiration from a while back, Jim. It proved a powerful, simple connection, one that I really needed.
You see us in our suffering, our joy, and our grief
In the quiet times, the loud times
The midst of Nött’s dance
You see us in our raging, our fury, our love
In the boisterous times, the soothing times
The steps we dance behind Her
You come o’er our heads tonight
Tinged with blood and Full
Your Charge glides graceful, dancing with Darkness
We mark Your dance, Your passage
Pour out offerings, words and drink
For You, Bright, Bloody, Glorious Mani!
Tonight, as You look upon us, millions look back to You
Some with tears, others wonder
Silence and prayer alike are spoken to Your Presence
Thank You for Your toil, O Bright One
For Your tireless Charge, the Tide and Turning,
Hail the Bright Moon, the Bloody Moon, O Mani Mundilfari!
This has come up a few times, so I will let everyone know here:
You have not missed the deadline. I set the deadline for next year, September 21st, 2016. You have a year to get submissions in to me. The sooner the better though! The less editing I have to cram in all at once the better the process will be!
Please pass along both this post, and the Call for Submissions.
Thank you for your submissions!
Type of Book: Anthology
Working Title Proposals: The Rough Road and the Fallow Field: Navigating the Hard Times
Going Through the Fallow Times
An anthology primarily of essays, personal experiences, meditations, theological writing, and other works exploring the fallow times in an animist and/or polytheist’s life, where the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits may be distant, silent, or in times of transition requiring separation. This anthology will also explore how to move through these times, how those who have little to no regular or peak spiritual experiences work through the fallow times, and what practices can sustain an animist and/or polytheist through them.
Word Length: Word Length: 800 words minimum for essays. Long essays welcome and encouraged. Prayers, poetry, rituals, and other explorations of the subject will also be accepted. Please submit with no specialized fonts, in .doc, .docx, or .rtf file format.
Contributors will not be paid for this contribution. This is a one-time publishing opportunity, so you retain all rights to your piece and can use it as you wish after publication.
Any contributors need to give their legal names and addresses in the email for a release form for their work. Any contributors who wish to use a community name or pen name will need to note it in the release form.
The deadline for submissions is at September 21st, 2016, at 11:59pm, Eastern Standard Time (GMT-4)
Interested parties may email Sarenth@gmail.com.
Hail to the Warrior Dead who bled and died so that children no longer had to work in factories and mines, so that safety for all those They left behind became a priority, so that the death-march drudge of factory and industry conditions stopped churning out as steady a line of corpses as products. Hail to the Warrior Dead of Blair Mountain Ridge, of the Haymarket Riots, of the Black Patch Wars, of the Flint Sit-Down Strike known to the workers as “The Battle of the Bulls Run”, and so many other times where You All marched in solidarity, power, strength, and ferocity.
Hail to You All! Thank You for your blood and body! Thank You for your loved ones’ missed time with You! Thank You for Your heart that inspired countless millions, whose stance, work, and sacrifice we still benefit from! Thank you for Your sacrifices! Hail to You!
Hail to Mary Harris Jones, known to millions as Mother Jones, tireless in her fight! Hail to You Black-Dressed, Storyteller, Inspirer, Keeper of Protest’s Flame! Hail to You, Whose tongue cut Oily John and Crystal Peter!
Hail to all Those Who marched, bled, and died! Hail to Those Who sat down and were unmoved! Hail to Those Who were struck and maimed! Hail to Those Who were mocked and ridiculed! Hail to Those Who were reviled, and dismissed! Hail to Those Who were crushed in the gears! Hail to Those Who were mauled by the dogs! Hail to Those Who were killed by police! Hail to Those Who were killed by the National Guard! Hail to Those Who were killed by the companies’ employees! Hail to Those Who were killed by the hired thugs and gunmen of the companies They worked for! Hail to all These, Who still were unbent in Their righteous anger, and unabated until They achieved victory!
Hail to the Unknown Warriors, the hundreds and thousands who gave their life so their fellow people could have a better life!
May all of Them be with us again. The struggles of Your times have returned, and we need You All.
I shall do, and call upon anyone who reads these words to do, as Mother Jones called: “Pray for the Dead and fight like hell for the living.” Hail to You All! Remember the Dead, for They are still with us!
To hear me sing this song for Odin, look here.
I see You in storms and I see You in wind
In the woods, carved and formed from Oak
I see You in the eyes of the homeless folk
World-weary, world-walking, wandering, and worried
I see You in my father’s eyes
The wisdom springs up through the ages behind him
I see You in the statue shaped by skillful hands
The offerings about You: splintered staff, spear, and swords
I see You in the mirror behind my own eyes
Your hand at my neck, wiring me for Your Work
I see You when I don my brown hat and black coat
I can feel Your gait in my legs as I walk
I see You in the stories I read to my child
The drawings full of life and his smile that abounds
I see You in the words that I speak to the world
By hand and by voice you have told me to tell
So hail to You, Galdrafaðr, You Who Sang the Runes’ songs
So hail to You, FimbulÞulr, You Who Inspires the Poets to verse
So hail to You, Sigrhöfundr, You Victory-Giver to the scribe, skald, and song
When I hail the Warrior Dead, I do not hail just the Military Dead. Certainly, there are Military Dead who are part of Them. Certainly, all Military Dead should be honored for Their service. However, there are a lot of Warrior Dead whose stories are glossed over, and lost to time. These, and stories like these, should be well kept so we honor Their memory, and the causes They fought for. I thank Bragi and Ansuz for helping me to write this. Hail to You! I hail the Warrior Dead who came and spoke to me while I was writing this. Hail to You! May the stories of the Warrior Dead never be forgotten. In telling, may we live in Them. In the telling, They live forever.
When anyone asks about what unions did to get the rights all workers possess, tell them about this.
You have come a long way from home to settle in a place in the Blair Mountain Ridge. You went through hell just to get here. This place is 50 miles out from the capital, Charleston, in West Virginia. Trees are everywhere along the route to the mine you’ve come to work at, and what isn’t trees are rocks and boulders, and all of it is on slopes. The mine is dark beyond dark, and the candles are the only source of light. Every second or third miner might have one, if you’re lucky. The hours are long, and you’re a long ways off from any non-company anything. The little scraps you get so you can buy from the company store? You buy your equipment with it. You buy your food with it. Your lodging. What little there is. You work 12 hours at a shot, maybe more. You drop your candle somewhere, it goes out? You pay for it. If you died, you died, and if you were supporting a family, they better figure out quick how to support themselves without you.
What’s more is that even your soul isn’t safe from the company. They have approved preachers and pastors. They give them the messages to give to you and your fellow miners. The very people who should be appealing to God on your behalf, on your family’s behalf, fill your ears with sermons of how good the company is, and how happy you should be to get blisters on your hands and feet, to risk your life each day or eventually get black-lung for a company that gives you scraps of paper to pay for the scraps of food they deign to give you from their heaping plates. Yes, indeed, God bless America, and God bless the company.
You know that if you and your fellow miners, all of whom are in the same straits as you, organize, then the police will come with a signed martial law order in hand, and crack down. Literally. They do it whenever you and your folks get too rowdy, too angry from one more insult, one more death, one more trampling on your dignity. So you strike. The authorities and their posse of private enforcers come for you. You get your skull split, you get arrested? Goodbye, employment. Your rights end where the nightsticks and guns begin. After all, you’re working the specialty ore that nets your boss ungodly profits, and their pull is so thick they may as well have installed themselves as governor in Charleston.
Then, a day comes when you and your fellows won’t take it anymore. It wasn’t enough that martial law was called. Again. It wasn’t enough that they tried to pin murder on Sheriff Hatfield and twenty-two other people. No. Those fuckers just executed one of the few pro-union folks in the neighborhood. They killed Sheriff Sid Hatfield in cold blood. They lured him the courthouse on bullshit perjury charges, and him and Ed Chambers were killed by deputized ‘detectives’ from Baldwin-Felts. They put twelve fucking holes in each of them to make damn good and sure they and their ghosts weren’t coming back.
Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. The same pricks that were hired guards and ‘investigators’ for your boss. The same folks who are more than willing to crack skulls to get their employers’ way. Blood spatters the ground, it pools. You know it’s a matter of time before someone’s finger gets itchy, or someone moves the wrong way. So you march, because it is wrong. You march, because that life, and the life of all of those at risk from that martial law, bearing down like boots on all your necks, are worth it. Solidarity.
You are 10,000 strong. Some of you are armed with guns. Some of you carry whatever seemed handy as a weapon. Some of you have your hands, so that’s enough. You all march. You march, on foot. It is fifty long miles until you hit Logan. And people join you. It doesn’t matter the background, the creed, the color, everyone marches. Miners march with bookkeepers, march with doctors, march with lawyers, march with railroaders, march with ministers and pastors and priests. You march. You might be as many as 15,000 strong, now. Solidarity
Then you all run square into the Logan Defenders in Logan County. These bastards are armed to the teeth, headed by the anti-union Sheriff Don Chafin. There might be anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 men, all from Baldwin-Felts, local cops, deputies, and volunteers. You’re a ragtag bunch; maybe half of you have decent weapons if you’re lucky. They? They have pistols and rifles, Browning .50 machine guns, artillery, and planes. Oh, and those planes? They have chemical and explosive payloads. That’s right. They’ll drop bombs on you full of shrapnel and bleach for the profits your blood and sweat will make them. So you do the only thing you can do. You charge right at them. Solidarity.
It’s bullets and chaos, it’s hands clenched into fists, teeth bared, and dirt kicked up as you and those fuckers who want you down in the dirt come to it. Fists pound flesh, bullets meant for other armies tear into your friends and chew their bodies like some great monster come to feast. Crows and ravens wheel and scream overhead as the days drag on. Guns, smoke, and screams fill the air. You don’t stop fighting. Solidarity.
The reports will say only 20-100 people died in the week that followed. You know better. You helped load your dead friends into boxcars to carry them home. Archaeologists will say over a million rounds were fired. You’ve no idea how many were fired, only what they did to you. What they did to the land around you, pockmarking it. Like the Earth vomited up black bile soaked in blood. You pick up the dead, you say your prayers, and you get back to the fight. Solidarity.
The week ends, and the federal troops arrive. You and your fellows put down your weapons in the woods, hide them, and get the rest of the dead on their journey home. Too many of you are veterans; these were family of another kind. Besides, the Army wasn’t the ones trying to make you bleed just because you and your union folks wanted to be able to organize and bargain together for a decent wage, time off, a pension, or basic human dignity. You and your fellows give up, no one so much as fires a shot. It is over. You make the long journey home. You pray, and you bury your dead. Solidarity.
Nothing much changes. The company still takes advantage, except now it starts blacklisting union members and breaking contracts with the unions. It still makes you pay for your equipment, your food, your lodging. It still works you till you drop of black-lung or exhaustion. It still puts those Baldwin-Felts thugs around the place, still pays those pastors to keep the company prayers and sermons in your ears. It still takes you, body, mind and soul, for everything you’ve got. Those of you who remain do so as your union dies a horrible death, slow, like a twisted knife in the guts. The union won’t recover until 1935, when it comes to life in the New Deal. You and your fellows are there, and you triumph as the bosses finally start to pay up, finally start to bargain in good faith. The unions roar back to life, stronger than ever. You stand on the bones of the dead, and remember: Solidarity.
These are the sources I consulted for this post: