A Heathen Prepping -Prepping for Convergent Crises

We are at a crossroads of convergent crises. At time time of this writing the United States is facing the following: supply chain disruption resulting in delays of goods and then services, health care staffing shortages, shortages in necessary medical goods supplies, ongoing massive infections of COVID-19, and rising inflation. Then there is the civil unrest we have still largely not dealt with since January 6th of 2021. Alone, with the effects of climate change already being felt throughout the food industry, this would be disruptive. With these hitting all at once it is high time anyone holding out on prepping began to take the situation as it stands and make plans to take care of themselves and their loved ones.

This does not mean panic buy. It does not mean pick up as much toilet paper, rice, beans, or the like as you can. What it does mean, is, that if you have delayed until now to do necessary prep for two weeks in a SHTF scenario, then start there. Besides, long-term you cannot survive on just rice and beans though, if you try that, you’ll be happy you bought all that toilet paper.

We have seen gas prices rise on average about $1.14 in the last year, per the EIA. Check the year on year price comparison by the BLS of average goods. The price on average has increased in a steady upward climb the last twenty years. A loaf of bread went from $1.50 to $1.52 October 2020 to October 2021. This means that gas went up about 52% and bread 2% in the last year. Between October 2001 and October 2021 prices on these two goods have gone up, from $1.36 to $3.39 or a 149.26% rise for gas and from $1.01 to $1.53 or a 51.49% rise for bread. All this is to say these are long-term trends, not just pandemic-time increases.

With the crunch of supply disruptions bringing together the basics of your home’s prep into a 2 week, then 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, and a year as you can should be a top priority. At the least, getting this prep together gives you the means to take care of yourself and your loved ones for a SHTF scenario. If one does not hit for awhile, it means that you can stave off inflation. If supply chains fail or things fall apart worse than what they are, you won’t be caught off guard.

Our current round of convergent crises are predicaments that have been ignored until the weight of them cannot be borne by the system in place. All of these issues were ignored or underfunded through several presidential terms. Since 2001 we have spent literally trillions of dollar on war. Resources were simply not allocated to address them. Assigning fault may be useful to some, but not in deciding what to do now that these threats are here in action.

As a Heathen I understand my life woven with that of others through Urðr, whose Anglo-Saxon cognate is Wyrd. I prioritize those webs of Urðr, first with the Ginnreginn (Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir), then my immediate family, then Kindred, then tribe, and then my wider communities. These priorities matter in predicaments like these, as they dictate who my first concerns and obligations belong to. Those closest to me in obligations and concerns are those who I help first in a SHTF scenario.

So for whom am I prepping? For everyone in my circles of concern. It is my responsibility in every relationship I hold, from the Ginnreginn to the wider community, to do all I can to take care of as many people as I can within my capacity to do so. By do so I am freeing resources for others in my Kindred, tribe, or wider community who need to use their resources in support of their own. If all I can take care of is my family and I, then that is who I take care of so resources are available for the Kindred, tribe, or wider communities.

The beautiful thing about prepping, especially starting out and getting a 2 week then 3 month prep as you can, is that prepping is cumulative. The more you do it the better you can weather SHTF scenarios. If you have a 20 lb bag of rice for your two week prep that same bag counts for the 3 month prep, too. So, even if you’re eating your prep as you go, which ideally you should at least in some degree so you’re not suddenly switching diets when SHTF, you are still stocking up in the long term.

Bought a bag of apples and are unsure if you are going to eat them all in time before they rot? No problem. If you have an oven or dehydrator, you can make apple crisps. Put those bad boys in the fridge, mylar bag with an oxygen absorber, or a jar. Congratulations, you have made another stride in prep! Have veggie scraps like carrot tops and peels? These make good compost. That compost can then be used as soil or fertilizer if you let it break down. Old medicine bottles are excellent for holding emergency supplies you can stash in a BOB, the car, or as part of an EDC. Thinking on and working with what you have, where and when you are as part of prep can help stretch or add to what you have for resources.

A lot of convergent crises where I am are going to look like multiple SHTF scenarios that I talked about here coming together at once. In Winter of 2022 I am most concerned about the weather, then supply chain issues, then COVID-19 and the knock-on effects at hospitals, and then the ongoing infrastructure issues. Once we get through Winter and that ceases to be as big an issue, most of my immediate SHTF scenarios stay the same, with the exception of civil unrest being a bigger factor as temperatures climb. On their own each of these could merit my full attention. Together, even doing as much prep as I can, it can be overwhelming, especially at first.

The thing about SHTF scenarios, particularly convergent crises, is the preps are not meant to fix them. Generally, SHTF scenarios are predicaments that you navigate. My power going out cannot be fixed even by getting a Generac generator for the house -it mitigates the loss of electricity. Stocking up on food will not fix the supply chain issues or rising costs. Food prep will help my family and loved ones get through until the supply chain is restored and/or we can bring our own supplies to bear. These ongoing issues need to be fixed systemically since they are systemic issues.

So, what kinds of prep can you do with regard to multiple SHTF scenarios? Beyond continuing with the preps you are on, be sure to build redundancy as you can. Something City Prepping says a lot is “2 is 1, and 1 is none.” Having backups sure does not hurt. If you grab one of something while you’re out on a shopping trip grab a second one. I recently went to the store and picked up some dry milk. At first I was just going to grab one pack, and, remembering the rule, grabbed another. In a long-term SHTF and/or grid-down situation having extras is a great thing. If you find you do not need the extras, having them means you can offer it to others to help, and you have items to trade with.

By and large the basics of prepping for the most likely convergent crises will overlap one another. The big one for our area is power loss. It threatens both our refrigerated and frozen supplies, and makes it harder for us to get through everyday weather. Most modern American homes are fairly poorly constructed and insulated. These glorified boxes require working HVAC units to chug through all kinds of weather. I find it far easier to get through the cold in Michigan than I do the heat, but not everyone will, so even in prepping members of your home you may need different strategies to keep everyone safe.

Convergent crises can challenge our preps. Right now our corner of Michigan’s most likely long-term convergent crises are a long-term power or grid-down situation coupled with our ongoing supply chain issues. In such a case, relying on a refrigerator, freezer, and the electric stove we have will be pretty useless. While we could do our best to convert the refrigerator and freezer into primitive ice boxes, it would be a far better use of time and resources to orient our preps for these crises to food able to be stored long-term without the need for cooling. Canning while we have electricity and a steady supply of jars and lids is one approach which can provide immense amounts of food which will keep for years. Smoking, curing, dehydrating, and fermenting can be done throughout the year without electricity. Thinking creatively about how we face our convergent crises now can save us pain, time, effort, and resources in the long run.

Convergent crises will be a time that test folks. Crises usually do. Part of the power in doing these preps as a Heathen is that each act of prep is an opportunity for building up good relationships with our Ginnreginn and each other. Engaging in prep provides opportunities for devotional work, magic, and co-creating Urðr with the Ginnreginn and the folks in our communities. A lot of us go about creating some kind of stalli (altar in the house), and vé (sacred outdoor space) where we live. The spiritual work does not, and, especially since we are talking about preps, should not stay there alone. Looking at the written and archaeological sources of our Heathen religions it is clear to me that the spiritual perspective of ancient Heathens was part of everyday lived reality, not hived off from the rest of life as it so often is in our overculture. Much of the spells and spiritual practices that have passed down to us now were concerned with survival, the good of the community, and preserving, protecting, or empowering the community and the folks within them in some way.

A lot of ways to bring spiritual work into prep are simple and often overlooked. An example: when you are canning thank the vaettir of the plants and animals, the jörðvaettir that forms the jar, lid, and bands, the vatnvaettir of the water, and the eldrvaettir that boils the water. You can mark the bottoms or put post-it notes on jars or other items you intend to trade with the Fehu and Gebo Runes. You can put healing bindrunes on the inside of your First Aid kit, and ask for Eir and Menglóð’s blessing on it, giving Them good offerings afterwards.

Learn about the various forms of magic and spiritual practices that ancient Heathens would have used and think about why they used it, and how these things apply to us today. An awful lot of thought, time, energy, and power went into protection, not just personal protection but that of the homestead and animals. Why? Survival was dependent on the stores of food and animals making it through Sumar (Summer). For those animals not destined for slaughter, they were often instrumental in making it through Vetr (Winter). A good chunk of surviving medieval manuscripts combine what the overculture today think of as separate disciplines: medicine and magic. Even into the modern age these things were not separate disciplines.

Enchanting our medicines to be more effective, warding our gardens against encroachment as we put up fencing, and laying down protections on our homes is the ancient ways working in a new time. Parterning with the landvaettiir so the plants grow well, asking Þórr to bless the garden with rain, and asking Freyr and Gerðr to bring fertility to the plants and animals is our Heathen worldview alive. Doing these things intertwines our religion and our lives in visceral ways. It is powerful.

Even if we do not face a particular set of convergent crises there is no wasted time or energy with these preps we bring to bear. Remember, preps are cumulative. They can be equally as useful for ourselves as others, especially those who may not have prepared or prepared as well as we have. We build up our megin (might/power) and hamingja (luck/power/group luck) in doing this work. Partnering with our Ginnreginn to face these crises, to prep and do what is in our power to do, we grow stronger. By encouraging our mutual aid networks and caring for those in our Kindreds, tribes, and communities now, we face the future stronger together.

Rest

What is it to not do spiritwork for months on end? It is service to others, whether to the Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir, and/or those in my communities. The pause I have taken was to rest. As was pointed out to me by several loved ones, I was definitely burning my candle at both ends and sometimes in the middle too.

Since October I have taken time off from spiritwork. That means no public rituals, no divination work, and almost no spirit travel for others. It has also meant I have done as little personal spiritwork as I am able. This does not mean everything is cast aside, though.

I still cleanse, ground, center, and shield everyday at least once a day. I still make prayers every day. I still make time to think and pray. I still do magic as I need to. Clearly, I still write.

I will not pretend like taking this time off has been easy. It has not. I deeply enjoy doing spiritwork. The writing prompts, whether the topic suggestions, Q&As, or prayer requests, all provide a powerful challenge and incentive to write and do spiritwork on their own. Likewise, the videos I have been producing have pushed me to think hard about how to be informative and concise about the Basics of Heathenry.

Something I have remarked to folks through Around Grandfather Fire and its Discord server is that I struggle with the need to be or feel productive. Rather than constantly fight with myself over this, I have reframed the last few months’ break as a form of service. When it comes to brass tacks, that is what it is. I cannot perform well if I am constantly overworking myself. I cannot do the best work that I can for the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, my communities, or myself, if I am constantly exhausted. Reframing rest as service, as furthering the work, helps to put my mind at ease. I recognize how fucked up that is, that the only way that I feel I can relax and put things aside is by framing them in terms of service to the work. I hasten to point out, though, that no God, Ancestor, or vaettr has put this mindset on me. This is definitely the product of the overculture. Sometimes Odin will push, but He has not pushed me as much as I have pushed myself.

Am I going to start back up with spiritwork in February? I am not sure. I will be doing some talking with my partners, friends, and doing some thinking and praying. ConVocation has been postponed until next year. My two weeks of vacation I was going to take for it are locked in. I either take the vacation or simply lose it. I am seriously considering just taking February off to enjoy the two weeks in our new home, and relaxing.

Funny enough, I started to write this post before the latest episode of Around Grandfather Fire. We are just starting our 4th season with Episode 83. I had not yet decided on whether to take February off. By the end of the episode I had decided that I would. It would mean six months off from professional spiritwork.

Why, if I valued my spiritwork so highly and the work I do for others would I take so much time off? I need it. In the time since I began my break I have encountered heavy mandatory overtime at work, worked on buying our home, and finally, came down with COVID-19 before moving in. We are mostly moved now, and despite the many months off from spiritwork, work in various forms has eaten what would have been the empty space there. Had I been doing spiritwork alongside all the work I am doing as a father, partner, and worker, I would probably have collapsed by now.

What helped turn me around on a lot of this was framing things not through an individual narrative, but a collective one. Being a goði, spiritworker, father, partner, and community means I am part of a whole. I am part of a tribe. I do not live for just myself. If anyone in my Kindred or tribe came to me with my workload what would my response be?

“Take some time off and relax for fuck’s sake!”

I have held unreasonably high expectations of myself for a long while. Part of reframing my mindset on rest was not just ‘this is good for me, Sarenth the individual’. What I needed was ‘this is good for my communities’ and ‘this is good for Sarenth, and this good benefits the communities I am in’. Much of my mindset is not about myself, but about what I can do for the Kindred and tribe I am in. If I crash, break down, collapse, or fall apart I can no longer do my best within those communities. It is not only in my interest, but in my communities’ interests that I care for myself, learn to pace myself, and do right by myself. So, for the time being I will do that: I will rest, so that when I return to spiritwork I can do so with my full faculties and do the best job that I am able to.

A Heathen Prepping -On Violence

I had a friend reach out to me recently, concerned I may have been dipping into more exhausting things during my break, rather than spending the last few months relaxing.

That’s just it, Snow. This is me relaxing.

Something they brought up and I dove into was the concept of violence in prepping spaces, especially those on the far-right. Let me be clear: I did not get into prepping to live out a machismo fantasy of gunning down my neighbors, nor of living out The Walking Dead where I live. Rather, I approach prepping through the lens of hospitality and service. Hospitality extends to those who are good guests. People banging down the door, literally or proverbially, in an effort to harm my family, tribe, or communities have forfeited their guest rights. People intimating violence because of my religion, sexuality, ethnicity, leftist political beliefs, etc or the race, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, etc of those in my circles have forefeited their guest rights.

Peace, Not Pacifism

My prepping is predominantly peaceful. Note, not pacifist. To explain I am going to illustrate my point with three quotes I have found online and the first three lines from the Hávamál, H.A. Bellow’s translation:

The first quote, attributed to Stef Starkgaryen, says: “You can’t truly call yourself “peaceful” unless you are capable of great violence. If you’re not capable of violence, you’re not peaceful, you’re harmless. Important distinction.”

The second quote, attributed as a Chinese proverb is paraphrased as: “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”

The third quote, attributed to Sun Tzu in his work The Art of War is: “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”

Now, to H.A. Bellow’s translation of the Hávamál:

“1. Within the gates | ere a man shall go,
(Full warily let him watch,)
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.

2. Hail to the giver! | a guest has come;
Where shall the stranger sit?
Swift shall he be who, | with swords shall try
The proof of his might to make.

3. Fire he needs | who with frozen knees
Has come from the cold without;
Food and clothes | must the farer have,
The man from the mountains come.”

Without the skill, ability, and most of all the willingness to commit to violence, peace and hospitality cannot be established or maintained. A given Heathen community cannot commit to being an inclusive place so long as White Supremacist and Folkish Heathens are permitted in it. The very existence of White Supremacist and Folkish Heathens is a direct threat to BIPoC, LGBTQIA+, ethnic, and religious minorities. Truthfully, as we have seen with those who have left the AFA and similar outfits, White Supremacist and Folkish Heathens eventually turn on their own. That’s the way supremacy works: you eat everyone else until all you can do is eat your own.

The very existence of White Supremacist and Folkish Heathens is a direct threat to Heathenry. I do not mean this in some abstract way. I have received death threats for my anti-racist and anti-Folkish stances. Others have been directly physically harmed, harassed, bullied, and doxxed. There is no reasoning with these ideologies nor those who hold to them. They are directly harmful. They seek to legitimize, encourage, and then to engage in genocide. It begins in rhetoric and comes increasingly through to fruition: direct action. They seek to kill the Other, as demanded by their ideology, and seek the destruction of other people and their ways of life. If a given Heathen community is unwilling to make a stand, not with some internet Declaration, but with their feet, and when necessary their hands and weapons, then all their words are air.

The other side is not playacting when it comes to killing those it sees as its enemies. The 3%ers, the Proud Boys, and the AFA, among many others, are not fucking around. For too long Heathens in the middle have pretended there was some middle ground to be had. There is not. You are either on the side of inclusivity or you are in support of white supremacy. There is no negotiation with it.

Bonds and Bounds of Frið and Grið

A simple explanation is that frið and grið are bonds of peace and good social order. Ocean Keltoi has a good video going over the concept here. Frið, as I understand and use the term, is held with family, loved ones, tribe members, and community. In other words, those I consider innangarð, those in my inner yard. Grið is held with strangers as a temporary peace, with those utgarð or in the outer yard. These concepts are then woven into Heathens conceptions of hospitality. While many Heathens may not use the term innangarð or utgarð, I find most of us agree on the larger picture here: hospitality is established through peace and good social order.

Bonds of frið and grið are maintained so we can get things done. We do not always have to like each other. However, we do need to have mutual respect and to give one another honor in such bonds. So how do we establish frið and grið, and what does violence have to do with them?

Frið and grið must be formed in honor and strength. They are a willing acceptance of obligation to one another. In the case of frið, these bonds are made and maintained with those who you are willing to defend with your life and who likewise take on that obligation. Those I understand in this fashion are my personal family, friends, and tribe. I do not extend frið to acquaintances. Insofar as I understand the terms and employ them, they rely on very clearly delineated boundaries of obligation. I aid and defend those I carry bonds of frið with.

In a SHTF scenario this means that those I hold these frið obligations with come first. I do prep to care for those bonds. I work to provide enough supplies, information, and knowledge to get us through the challenges that come our way. I do work to support those I have these bonds with so we can all come through SHTF scenarios safely. Generally, I expect that safety in these situations is ensured through effective prepping, such as making sure we have enough resources on hand to get through a few months. Given the violence we have seen on display from White Supremacists, Folkists, and the far Right, it is not out of the realm of possibility that self-defense is going to be necessary. I was prompted to write this series in part because there is a good contingent of folks in various prepping communities planning to do a good bit of violence to secure resources in a number of SHTF scenarios. Just because something is unpleasant to think on does not mean we should not consider it. This, for me, is a chief concern and obligation with regards to frið. Am I willing to put my life on the line for you? Am I willing to defend you, to kill if necessary? If I answer no or hesitate, then we do not have frið.

This is at the forefront of my mind since I have had a few Folkish and White Supremacist Heathens come across my blog and reblog my last few posts. It seems that none of them have read the content of this blog or they would realize that I am utterly opposed to them. The very act of being a Folkish or White Supremacist Heathens breaks bonds of frið and grið with me. We cannot have peace or good social order if your ideology rests on my death or that of those in my circles. The ideology of White Supremacy and Folkishness prevents grið from being established. For anyone that has ever written the words “No Frith with Fascists”, truly think on what that means. If you truly do believe the words of Hávamál 127, meditate on what it means and the implications of what your actions are:

“127. I rede thee, Loddfafnir! | and hear thou my rede,–
Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
Great thy gain if thou learnest:
If evil thou knowest, | as evil proclaim it,
And make no friendship with foes.”

Thinking on Violence

Rather than offer any one way as the way we should prepare for violence, I think we need to approach violence through the lens of prepping as another tool in our tool chest. How useful is violence in a given scenario? What does violence do, and how well does it do it? What training and tools can best deescalate a situation so violence does not need to be used? What training and techniques can reduce or eliminate the use of violence in a given scenario? What training and tools are most effective at preventing harm if violence must be used? What scenarios require a full commitment to the use of violence?

In most scenarios violence is the least desirable tool. It can cause us to waste time, resources, and life. It causes harm which necessitates healing and possibly recompense, or, in the worst of situations, cleanup, and the possibility of jailtime and/or reprisal. The use of violence can sour even the best of relationships even if we, ourselves, are not its target. Violence is often ugly, brutal, and frightening.

These truths should not prevent us from using it.

Rather, I would hope it would inspire folks to be judicious in its use. To be sure of what scenarios we would be willing and able to engage in violence. To be sure and clear in what obligations we agree to in our frið and grið-making. To be sure and clear in what obligations we hold with guests and hospitality under our roof. Not all violence need be fatal, but all violence has that potential. Violence should, in my view, be a tool of last resort. However, it should not be a tool we throw away, ignore, or denigrate. So, I see an obligation on each of us who would use it to have the proper training to effectively carry out violence in whatever way is best suited to our abilities, training, skills, and the situation at hand. I see an obligation on each of us who would keep bonds of frið, grið, and hospitality to be clear on what they will and will not accept within their bounds and to be ready and willing to enforce them.

A Plea in Time of COVID-19

Hail Eir and Menglöð!

Lady of Ásgarðr

Lady of Lyfjaberg

Whose hands heal, whose wisdom remedies, whose medicines recover

Whose knowledge is peerless, whose expertise is matchless, whose experience is endless

Hail to You, O Holy Ones!

Healing Goddesses!

Help us to heal! Help us find remedy! Help us recover!

Bless us and those who care for us with care, compassion, and skill!

Bless us and those who care for us with worth, intelligence, and ability!

Bless us and those who care for us with grace, expertise, and victory!

As we shelter and save others, shelter and save us!

Ves vér heil!

Ves Þu heil!

Hail Eir and Menglöð!

The Hunt is On

I hear the hoofbeats hammer

I hear the howling on the wind

I hear the gait of sword, spear, and gun

The Hunt is on

I smell the slathering sweat

I smell the steel in the wound

I smell the breath of God, grave, and snow

The Hunt is on

I see the sky split

I see the spray of blood

I see the wend of Host, heroes, and Sleipnir

The Hunt is on

I taste the tears’ trail

I taste the take of the kill

I taste the marrow of the wicked, warlocks, and traitors

The Hunt is on

I feel the fury flow

I feel the frenzy of the Ride

I feel the call of the vaettir, Valkyries, and Fráriðr

The Hunt is on

The Hunt is on

The Hunt is on

A Heathen Prepping -Beginning

My thanks to my Brother, Jim Two Snakes, for inspiring this and the series of posts following it. Thank you for lighting the Fire.

What is Prepping?

Prepping, or preparing, is both a mindset and a way of organizing oneself, family, tribe, and/or community. To prep is to be engaged in active readiness for one or many SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan) scenario(s). Prepping is about gaining and using knowledge and resources so that the people, preppers, can encounter a SHTF scenario, and survive it, if not thrive after. Ideally, prepping is entered into out of hope, a desire to see oneself and others safe. Prepping is entered into so that one’s family, tribe, and/or community survives a SHTF scenario, stays safe during and after it, and thrives in post-crisis.

My Perspective on Prepping

A lot of things brought me into prepping. My upbringing, for one. My Dad was part of security both for the facility he worked at and for our region of the State. He wrote policy and what is more, carried it out. He passed on a sense of how to prepare for things, having to explain things to me since I was often his beta reader and proofreader when I became a teenager. In wanting to make sure anyone could follow directions in case of an emergency he often had to explain preparedness, and what things did and did not qualify in simple terms. Growing up in this environment helped me frame what I would run into when prepping communities started springing up sometime in the late 90s to early 2000s.

Prepping, for me, is part of my obligation to my family, tribe, and community. It is an obligation to prep as best as I am able to be hospitable and to take pressure off of my family, tribe, and communities. Think about it. In a SHTF situation, someone knocking on your door and asking for a bottle of water takes on even more of a direct and dire dimension than they would prior. I owe hospitality to those who come to my door, and without prep that is far harder to provide in a crisis. That is not to say I have to be a doormat to any Johnny-come-lately. Baselines of hospitality still apply regardless of whether we are in crisis or not. In keeping to them not only do we help to promote abundance in our communities, we also set up the basics for reciprocity between us. If you have a need I can fulfill I can then call on you for help in kind. Because I put in the time, energy, and effort, in a very realy well, I help to care for both of us.

Prepping also helps to stave off my anxiety and distress at clear warning signs I am seeing now, environmentally, politically, and logistically.  I have been seeing stress signs from the shipping and logistics industry for awhile now, and prepping helps to soothe the stress I feel at its collapse. Likewise, prepping helps me to get a handle on dealing with the anxiety I feel around the ongoing climate crisis. Part of long-term prep as I do it is taking care of longer-term projects. These are things like helping to build raised beds and plant vegetables, caring for the land, and learning to take care of animals. Learning how to cull, butcher, and process my own meat is part of that process just as putting away water, food, and emergency kits is. By building up my knowledge, supply, and ability to weather a variety of storms and SHTF scenarios, I reduce my overall stress and anxiety.

Let me be frank with you: we are seeing the grid’s collapse in real time. We have seen time and again the vaunted powerful in our countries again and again meet to ‘discuss how to address climate change’ and each and every time it has been a showcase of how much C02 we can dump into the atmosphere shuttling these rich, privileged fucks around. The spending bills which have majority support in this country, which would have gone to several initiatives that directly address climate change, pollution, and infrastructure spending, have been stalled to the point where they are gutted in part or in whole. We have no idea as of the time of this writing if we are even going to get a reconciliation bill. This, when Texas suffered one of the most widespread grid collapses in a time where it could ill afford it: the middle of fucking Winter. That grid is almost wholly separate from the rest with a smattering of lines connecting it to the others and is run by a company that has direct interests in making money off of people freezing to death.

Resources that could easily be turned to preparing us to live with the ongoing effects of climate change and to reverse it in our lifetimes are now being squandered so the rich get to drive up the numbers of imaginary fucking monopoly money. We are on our own. Regardless of political background, perspective, or viewpoint, our government has made it abundantly clear time and again we are on our own. It made that point during Hurricane Katrina, and has since every natural disaster. This is absolutely nothing new to Indigenous and BIPOC communities. All have lived through it for hundreds of years. It’s only now the rest of us are getting to experience just a taste of that abuse and neglect. The kicker is that this ongoing abuse and neglect of the system, and so, our communities, will hit them just as hard too, since they’re tied into the same system.

Our elected officials and those who fund them and otherwise hold their leashes have chosen, not failed but chosen not to act. We must turn to taking care of ourselves. Municipal water sources throughout this country face contamination from a variety of sources, including PFAS and dioxane. Michigan, one of the largest sources of freshwater in the world, is also some of the most polluted in the USA with DuPont, Wolverine, and Dow Chemical operating in our State. Our just-in-time delivery systems and absolutely backwards way of sourcing, producing, processing, and delivering food has had several failures which should be abundantly clear to anyone paying one whit of attention to the supply lines. Now is the time to prepare yourselves, your families, your tribes, and your communities for disruption from the top down and bottom up. It is a fucking shame because the rich have the ability, even now at the goddamned one minute stroke to midnight, to turn all of this around.

I could be wrong. I fully recognize that. I recognize in the middle of my anger, my frustration, and yes, my despair at anything useful getting done from either our political establishment or the companies that have bought and paid for them, that I could be wrong. I do not think so.

Let us assume I am wrong. Say this post inspires every Pagan, polytheist, witch, magician, and so on that has not yet prepped for a disaster of, say, two weeks, to prep. Mutual aid networks could form, communities that were divided or have never connected could start having serious conversations on how to take care of one another in a crisis. What is lost? Some time and money, perhaps. However, should a situation arise, such as a long-term power outtage from some weather event, more supply line disruptions like those we have seen this year, or if something dire comes our way, at the least some things will be taken care of to help us weather the hard times. At the very least we will have prepped to care for those we can. It is a damn sight better than most government officials can say

If you find it hard to approach prep without severe anxiety, or if you find yourself putting a lot of thought into prep to the detriment of your life or others, then you may want to only approach prep with a trusted friend, loved one, or better yet, a community. It may even be better in such a case to talk things out with these people and develop things together so that the anxiety that can be associated with prepping is a shared load. A lot of SHTF events and our reactions to them can be hard to think about, let alone actually prepare for. There is a definite difference in feeling when something is in the abstract vs you are gaining knowledge, skills, or buying or making things to address it. Experiencing some stress is a normal part of prepping. Be mindful of explosive emotion or ongoing, lingering feelings of distress, anxiety, or obsession around the topics of prepping. Addressing these things with loved ones and/or a therapist can be a huge help. It is far better to delay engaging with prep and similar subjects until and unless it safe for you and your loved ones to do so.

Prepping takes a lot of forms, the most visible being the various kits folks put together, such as BOBs (Bug Out Bags) or long-term freeze-dried foods in food-safe buckets. However, without the knowledge, experience, discipline, and wisdom on what to use in a kit, BOB, cache, etc all that becomes is a collection of things which may make you feel safe, but when a crisis hits you may not be able to use them effectively, if at all. Having a medkit is good so long as you know how to use the components in it. If you do not know how to make a fire or boil water, then freeze-dried food may not keep you fed if you are stranded.

This does not mean equipment is not important. Good quality equipment is necessary if you hope to prepare well. However, good quality and expensive are not the same thing. More on this as we dig into specific cases.

‘Good prep’ and ‘good equipment’ is dependent on what you are prepping for, your local situation including weather and the most probable SHTF scenarios, and how many other people you have prepping with you. The more folks who are prepping the better, as each person can gather knowledge and skills as available to them, and provide coverage for those in their family, tribe, and/or community.

How does a Heathen begin to prepare?

I treat prepping as a Heathen like I do most spiritual activities as a Heathen. Take some time to prepare spiritually when you are going to be engaging with prepping. Whether it is learning a new skill or sharpening an old one, making a list, putting together a kit or BOB, or checking supplies. Start with a simple cleansing, grounding, centering, and shielding exercise. This is the basis of a very simple and quick spiritual prep. Here are some examples of each:

To cleanse, take three even breaths in, three breaths out.

A simple grounding is drawing your hands up over your body and down your body.

A simple centering technique is to say out loud what work you will engage in at this time.

A simple shielding technique is to say ‘Shields Up!’ or to gesture around your body as though you are putting up a wall around you.

Each of these are low-maintenance and simple for a reason: you want your spiritual prep to be useful in a SHTF scenario. If you have to meditate for thirty minutes in order to be spiritually prepared, that is fine to start with. It may be too long in a SHTF situation, and while this may not be as thorough, it works. The goal with this kind of spiritual prep is to be able to consistently get to a place in body, mind, and spirit together that is clear, calm, centered, and ready to engage with the task at hand. I can tell you in my experience this low-maintenance spiritual prep works. I have done variations of it before heading into dangerous situations, including car accidents and altercations at work. It is well worth putting in the time to be able to achieve clarity and focus in a crisis.

With this done, pray for wisdom, care, and skill, and make offerings to the Ginnreginn for these things. If you are able to make an offering then a cup of water, a slice of bread, or a pinch of mugwort are good ones. If you have questions or concerns, ask Them for Their input on the prepping you will engage in. Ask for guidance when you feel stuck or frustrated. Engage in spiritual accounting to be sure you are receiving good guidance, and working with the guidance well. Doing this each and every time will help you to approach prepping in a clean, calm, and collected way centered in the Ginnreginn and doing the best for Them, your communities, and yourself.

I engage with prepping as a spiritual activity itself. I first got into it in various forms when Óðinn had me begin a devotional and working relationship with Skaði. I learned First Aid, Basic Life Support, and how to shoot a bow and gun because of these two Gods, and do each as a form of offering to Them. I also offer my learning and use of healing, stabilization, and the like as an offering to Eir and Menglöð. Considering how much of the skills we can learn that reach back to the Ancestors, including frontier medicine, firemaking, and food preservation, each of these could be an offering, connection point, and a place to invite Their blessings. All the materials we use in prep are made of various vaettir, as are the shelters, foods, and waters. Getting into and maintaining a good relationship with the vaettir through prep just makes sense.

When you put together items for prepping, such as putting a bandage into a medkit, make prayers over it. Enchant each item you bring into your prep space, and treat it as sacred. It is, after all! Each preparation you make, and so, each prayer, each offering, each bit of magic you work into that preparation will be helping keep you, your family, your tribe, and community members heilagr, a word that means whole, safe, healthy, and holy.

Begin to build your lists and work to prepare in the same way most preppers do.

What are the most probable SHTF scenarios?

What are the most probable SHTF scenarios in your area? Not what occupies you with worry, and not what is being blasted at you from the evening news or whatever social media you engage with. What is the likeliest thing to provide a threat, immediate and/or ongoing, to you and your family, tribe, and/or communities? What has happened in the past? What is most likely to occur in the future? What was done to address it? What systems were under strain then vs now, and have those strains been addressed?

Engage With the Basics

Wherever you are just starting out, I heartily second the recommendation City Prepper makes:

Make a list of what you and your family need to survive. Start with at least 1 gallon of water per person per day and 1200 calories of food per person per day. If you can start by expanding that to 3 gallons of water, and around 2000-2200 calories per person per day, that is an even better start to prep. Start with the goal of getting together enough supplies to make it two weeks where you are. You can then increase the goal to a month, three months, and then a year as things go on.

When you have the resources, put together supplies needed for three days if you need to leave where you are living. A 3 day prep kit that is ready at a moment’s notice to take with you when you leave, is known in prepper circles as a Bug Out Bag, or BOB for short. If you lose your home or you are under a mandatory evacuation order, having a BOB will help ease your mind, streamline the process, and make it so you can quickly react to a changing, potentially dangerous and stressful situation. BOBs tend to weigh about 15% at most of a person’s body weight so they stay mobile. Some folks put an extra BOB in their car in addition to having one per family member just in case. We can get into BOBs in a separate post.

My recommendation for spiritual prep at the start here is to get the simple exercises above down to where you can do them as needed without much forethought. Adding prayer cards, pictures, or tokens of various Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir to your prep kits can bring comfort and connection in a crisis. I highly recommend metal pill containers, such as these or these, which you can use to carry a fire kit, offerings, and, of course, pills. They’re lightweight, hardy, and I have had a variation of the first link’s pill cases for several years without any issue. I carry tobacco, mugwort, chamomile, and stinging nettle with me in this way on my keychain. I carry prayer cards in my wallet and a leather bag full of taufr, enchanted items, in my pocket. EDC or Every Day Carry includes the spiritual things we take with us wherever we go, and that we turn to in crisis. EDC is a separate post, though, so we will leave that for now.

Make Assessments Where You Are

What knowledge and skills do you possess already that you can work with in a crisis? What do you need to develop? What would you want to develop? Are your knowledge and skills contingent on having electricity available? If so, can you learn to work without them? If not, do you have the means to continue access to electricity?

Take a look at your local communities. If you do not know your next-door neighbors, now is the time to get to know them. Talk with your Heathen, Pagan, and similarly-aligned community members about mutual aid networks. Talk with them about what they are doing for their own prep work and what needs they have. As you go along you and your community members can encourage each other to keep up the prep work, working together in solidarity. The more folks in a community who have two or more weeks of supplies on hand to handle a crisis will be better able to mitigate the overall community response to them. As with the individual prep, expanding as you can to longer stretches of time will help everyone in a community get through SHTF scenarios safely.

Mutual Aid Networks

Mutual aid networks can help to shore up where family and community needs fall short, whether it is access to needed supplies for medication, food, water, etc. This is where the networks of relationships we intentionally foster as Heathens can really shine. It is not necessary for folks to live in the same neighborhood to be helpmeets to one another in a crisis. In fact, having folks clustered in the same neighborhood can be a detriment. If an entire neighborhood is hit by a natural disaster like a tornado or the power is down in a given region for longer than two weeks then everyone in the network will have to collectively deal with the same crisis all together. Mutual aid networks that have space between them can afford multiple locations for regrouping, care, bugging out, and developing networks of communication, trade, and solidarity-building between communities in a larger or longer SHTF situation.

Something not often thought about: A lot of homes and subdivisions, especially here in Michigan where homes are being built on former farmland or swamp, do not have even a Michigan basement. A Michigan basement is an unfinished basement that is essentially a root cellar. Having access to a clean, cool, and accessible storage option like a partially, fully finished, or a Michigan basement when you live in a neighborhood with few or none of them becomes a truly valuable thing. If you have one available to you it can hold water, food, medication, and vital documents in steady clean storage, be a place to brew and/or ferment, and be a staging area for folks in crisis. The more such places where supplies and space are available to you and your community, the easier you can handle a crisis.

Instead of just making suggestions of lists, I am going to explore how I approach prepping as a Heathen. You can use this as a jumping off point for exploring your own situation and your responses to the SHTF scenarios and other crises you may face. Because this is a post on beginning to prep it will only take a quick look at short-term SHTF scenarios and how I prep for them.

My Assessment and Approach for Short-term SHTF

I live in a suburban town in SE Michigan surrounded by farmland and just on the outside of major cities in my area. I will not have the same concerns as a person living in the city or in the country. In a way, suburbia has the potential of a lot of the benefits of both city and country living, provided you have a bit of land to work with. The most pressing SHTF scenarios for us here are power outages, tornadoes, and winter storms. A complete disaster scenario in this region would be if the old nuclear powerplant nearby melted down. In Summer the main factor for danger moreso than the heat itself is direct sunlight and humidity. Most have access to water and sewer through wells or city municipalities. In some areas solar power is not possible due to tree cover, and both solar and wind power are still prohibitively expensive for most to invest in. Power outages, then, affect access to running water, heating/cooling, cooking, and other necessities of life. Most folks who have the means to acquire generators, solar and/or wind power generation, and increasingly, homeowners who can afford it are investing in Generac and similar home power systems.

Some major positive factors going for lower SE Michigan are that we do not have earthquakes, volcanoes, or hurricanes as major threats to our wellbeing. While it is true much of our fertile farmland has been built on, there are networks of small-time farmers, backyard farmers, permaculturists, and emerging networks of mutual aid networks. Plenty of folks keep chickens, goats, and other small livestock.

Since our most likely SHTF scenarios for SE Lower Michigan are loss of power, winter storms, and tornadoes in that order, those are the first scenarios I will prep for. I will need two weeks of water, food, medicine, and toileting supplies. In a power loss or winter storm situation I will need to have ways to keep food from spoiling and ways to keep warm. I need to keep an eye on the weather, and have an area for the family to evacuate to in case of a tornado.

A lot of my advice here is going to echo other preppers such as City Prepper and some emergency advice from FEMA and other government organizations. Since this is at least some folks’ first exposure to prep, I want this information to be accessible here. So, when getting into prep you will want your first concerns to be oriented around the most probable short-term SHTF scenarios. You will want is access to safe water, enough food to last through the crisis, and ways to keep safe and warm until access is restored. Assume a two-week window where you will not have power, and make plans for taking care of your needs for water, food, and shelter accordingly. Once you have prepped for this, then you can expand your horizons.

Physically, prep for short-term SHTF will be the previous prep we have talked about in the Engage with the Basics. Make sure you have redundant forms of communication. Some examples would be a landline (especially since most folks just have cell phones), handheld walkie talkies, or even HAM radios, the latter of which generally requires a license to transmit over legally though you can listen without a license. Having ready sources of backup power that you check at least twice a year, such as a backup generator for a home, can help you and yours get through with what you need and some creature comforts if the generator can handle it. You are going to want ways of making heat and light not tied into the home’s power supply that are effective and safe. Any fires you work with should be in containers that someone, animal or kid, cannot knock over if you turn away your attention for a few moments. Bundling up with blankets, and making sure you have some Visqueen or other similar kind of quick weatherpoofing if insulation of the home is less ideal will help conserve heat in colder times. Working with open windows and air circulation, and if able doing less during the heat of the day will help mitigate the heat.

Mentally, prep is going you are going to include engaging in activities that keep your mind at ease. Whatever keeps you relaxed and ready to go. The physical preps help pave the way for this, since it is hard to think if you are worried about where you next meal is coming from, and hard to read or relax at night in a pitch-dark house. If you can keep a discipline that involves your mind, body, and spirit, such as regular meditation and/or exercise, it can help reduce stress and keep up morale. It can also give you a sense of rhythm to days and weeks that you could be stuck at home. That discipline will help keep you mentally well and better able to handle both the drudge, bordom, and/or the unexpected that come your way. In all likelihood with a two-week or less disaster most of us will still have to go in to work. In many cases that will mean having to put in a lot of overtime, so prepping can help ease anxiety and make things easier for family members who are going to be stuck inside for the duration of the crisis. Part of the beauty of having a two-week prep ready to go is that it can save you a lot of hassle in the moment when the power goes out or roads are closed. If you have the things you need ready at hand there is less anxiety or confusion about what to do -you just do it. You also will not have to deal with panic buying or struggle with lines at the places that are still open in a crisis. Having taken the time to prep, you and your loved ones will be in a good position to financially be better off too, since you won’t have to deal with price gouging or extra shipping costs if you find out you really need something.

Spiritually, prep is reaffirming and continuing the relationships with the Ginnreginn and loved ones you have already. It is also engaging in the spiritual disciplines such as those explored in Engaging the Basics, which will help keep you spiritually prepped. The mental and physical prep help pave the way for this, and the spiritual prep here reinforces them in turn. Rather than being separate preps, think of each as being part of one prep. Algiz, with its three branches coming from a single trunk and its meaning of protection, is an excellent Runevaettir to work with. Sowilo is also a good Runevaettir to work with, with its three segments and meaning of victory. Spiritual preps beyond this would be making taufr for keeping the home and family safe.

Where to Go From Here?

The beginning steps of prep are not the place to be prepping for climate change or political upheaval. This is the starting place where you look at your most likely SHTF short-term scenarios and prepare for them. As you go along the prep you do for one level of SHTF scenario will stack into the next.

As a Heathen, I approach prepping at times as a spiritual discipline, others times as service, and other times as solidarity with my loved ones. By engaging in prep I know what to do with my hands, heart, and soul in a SHTF scenario. In doing prep I better equip my loved ones, my family, my tribe, and my wider community to weather a crisis. By approaching prep as duty, service, and/or solidarity this places all my prep work into a pro-social perspective that seeks to honor the Ginnreginn.

One of the ethics we Heathens and polytheists in general reliably share is that of hospitality. Prep is a form of engaging in hospitality for those in our care, and those who may find themselves at our door. By working out of a desire to engage well in hospitality, I seek to do well for myself and others. By choosing to act and empowering others to do prep in the same spirit of hospitality, cooperation, and building up, rather than tearing down or competition, like a fire in darkness, I seek to light other fires.

Reflections on Sand Talk

Following the recommendation of Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen I picked up Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World ny Tyson Yunkaporta a while back. These are my immediate reflections and thoughts on finishing it.

It took me some time to work through. Part of that was the material is dense in what it brought up for me to think and reflect on. Another is that I was consistently making notes because Yunkaporta’s style brings those thoughts up and trying to catch them can be hard. I may go back through the book sometime down the road and not take notes and just experience the book. However, each time I engaged with it I felt like a dozen little threads of thought erupt with each chapter so I wanted to wrangle at least some of those thoughts.

Something I really appreciate about the book is that its yarns are not simple, straightforward, or easily able to be bullet pointed -except when they are. I kept coming back with every story thinking on the stories that infuse my own life -that of the Nordic Gods, my Ancestors, and the vaettir. The stories of the place I live, and the names and stories of the Beings who lived here long before my Ancestors. Like the stories that infuse his life and understanding I found relating to his stories and yarns through my own.

Yunkaporta asks us to take some heavy, deep, and equally light-hearded and amused looks at ourselves. In doing this, in embracing his way of speaking/writing, and reflecting as I yarned through the book with him, I found a lot of affirmation in my own path as a Heathen, from the way I understand how it unfolds in worldview and the direction it goes. It was also cool to see different cross-currents in thought and direction between our worldviews.

For starters just the concept of yarning as a way of co-creating, co-weaving, if you will, knowledge and understanding, has so many implications for a path where weaving and carving is an active and ongoing co-creative process with the Ginnreginn. Urðr is definitely reflected in yarning. What Yunkaporta calls a yarn between people we might also call a saga or even þing. Yarning and sharing a saga or sitting down to a þing is a co-creative and collaborative working that has certainly changed through time and yet has remained similar enough that we can recognize it today.

The process of encoding meaning through carving, umpan, we call rísta. It is to carve. Umpan is also used to mean writing, now, and rísta easily fits this as well. Much as with umpan, rísta brings the symbolic language to bear to bring and communicate meaning, and to change the carver and who observes and interacts with the carving.

Like the symbols he and the us-twos have brought forward, the Runes are living symbols, because, as with the Aboriginal symbols, the Runes are vaettir.

Much like our own experiences as Heathens, the Aboriginals do not just bring in new ways of understanding or doing things without vetting them. For them, as noted in p62 regarding the ceremony to “open” that first headstone, shaped by multiple Elders and family members, incorporating older elements of the traditional mourning process that had fallen into disuse. The demotic is not a sudden acceptance or made on a whim, arbitrarily. Likewise, we do not just change how we do things. We weigh it against established lore, divination, and what makes sense for us to do with where and when we are, and what obligations and needs we have.

Something that Yunkaporta and the various folks who have contributed to the yarns in the book come to again and again is that we need to move into societies of transition. Our communities do need to share knowledge while maintaining their own unique systems grounded in the diverse landscapes they care for. That is what I and others in my Kindred and tribe are working to do. It is what we are doing at Crossing Hedgerows Sanctuary and Farm. We US Pagans and polytheists are in development of these societies now.

He hits this especially hard here:

“I have previously talked about civilized cultures losing collective memory and having to struggle for thousands of years to gain full maturity and knowledge again, unless they have assistance. But that assistance does not take the form of somebody passing on cultural content and ecological wisdom. The assistance I’m talking about comes from sharing patterns of knowledge and ways of thinking that will help trigger the ancestral knowledge hidden inside. The assistance people need is not in learning about Aboriginal Knowledge but in remembering their own.” pp 144

Yes, absolutely this. I consider Runework, seiðr, spá, taufr, and other such things to be part of it as much as hearth cultus, Ancestral veneration, worship of and communication with with the Ginnreginn, and spiritwork. This is ongoing work: relationship-building, knowledge-building, spirit-building we are doing with the Ginnreginn, and part of doing that is building good relationships with the lands we live on and in.

Heathens here in the US once operated primarily from the locus of ‘if it is not written down it did not exist’, and it is a blessing this is changing. More, Heathens are taking inspiration and understanding of the lore as a jumping off point and perhaps a map, but we, we Heathens and the Ginnreginn, are the arbiters of our relationship together. This includes the world around us. We are coming out of the supremacy of the pen and printer and into the full appreciation of all our faculties.

He says “Kinship-mind is a way of improving and preserving memory in relationships with others. If you learn something with or from another person, this knowledge now sits in the relationship between you. You can access the memory of it best if you are together, but if you are separated you can recall the knowledge by picturing the other person or calling out their name. This way of thinking and remembering is not limited to relationships with people.” pp148-149

This immediately reminds me of Odin’s interactions with and ongoing relationship with Mimir, Saga, Loki, and other Gods. He maintains ongoing relationships with each, drawing wisdom and being the way through which inspiration reaches us through His interaction with Them. If Odin is the Utterer and Inspirer, then it is through Wisdom (Mimir), Stories (Saga), Creativity (Loki), Knowledge (Vafþrúðnir; His Name means “Mighty Weaver”) and so on.

“In Aboriginal worldviews, relationships are paramount in knowledge transmission. There can be no exchange or dialogue until the protocols of establishing relationships have taken place. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? What is your true purpose here? Where does the knowledge you carry come from, and who shared it with you? What are the applications and potential impacts of this knowledge on this place? What impacts has it had on other places? What other knolwedge is it related to? Who are you to be saying these things?” pp149

It is worth pointing out that most of those Odin meets with regularly are relatives or closely related to Him in some way. Mimir is His Uncle, Saga His Wife’s Handmaiden, Lok His Blood-Brother, and Vafþrúðnir while not directly related is one He seeks to test His knowledge and mettle against.

“In our world nothing can be known or even exist unless it is in relation to other things. Critically, those things that are connected are less important than the forces of connection between them. We exist to form these relationships, which make up the energy that holds creation together. When knowledge is patterned within these forces of connection, it is sustainable over deep time.” p149-150.

Yes, and this is true of the Ginnreginn, the Runevaettir, and Urðr Itself. It is true of ourselves and our relationships with one another. It is true of ourselves and our relationship to this world.

There are five different ways in the Aboriginal way of thinking in his yarn (pp 150-152):

Kinship-mind.

Story-mind.

Dreaming-mind.

Ancestor-mind.

Pattern-mind.

He advises in pp 173 to come up with our own words for these.

“They are not capitalized because I don’t want them to become buzzwords absorbed into the marketplace. There are no trademarks in this knowledge. It is not specific to any single cultural group; instead, it belongs to everyone. You should come up with your own words for these ways of thinking if you decide to use them. You should alter them to match your own local environment and culture. This is all open-source knowledge, so use it like Linux software to build what you need to build for a sustainable life. If you want to do this you can use the symbol and your hand now to work through a logic sequence that will help you understand holism and enable you to come to Turtle story later on.

He goes on to yarn at length about how we can develop ways of knowing, understanding, co-creating. The entire book is this exploration. It encourages the reviving, embracing, and developing of our worldview. It encourages us to embrace old and new ways of understanding and knowledge. It encourages us to bring our relationship to the Ginnreginn and so, the World we inhabit and the Worlds around us, to the fore. In living in this way, he puts forward, we can save the World.

I found Sand Talk hopeful, insightful, and utterly useful for anyone willing to sit and yarn with Tyson Yunkaporta for a while. It is well worth the time. It is my hope that more Heathens, Nordic Pagans, and Nordic animists embrace this more holistic, and integrated way of being.

Taking Time

I have spoken here, on my Patreon, on Around Grandfather Fire, and in a lot of other places how taking your time to rest, recover, and relax are important and can be as much a part of spiritwork as doing things like divining and spiritual consultation.

Between the American overculture’s inane drive that everything be ‘productive’, even hobbies and pleasures, and my upbringing, I have found that engaging in rest and relaxation, especially ‘non-productive’ things, to be quite hard. I do not lay this at my parents’ feet, either. The same system that insists I need to be ‘doing something’ is the same one that ground them down during the time they both worked. We live in a toxic culture, one that, given my neurodivergence, seems tailor-made to fuck with my anxiety and my ADHD.

Up until recently my bull-headed response to all this was to put my head down and keep on pushing through. This works for a while. Hell, for years. For years I have had loved ones, family, friends, and tribe alike, pushing me to put things down and actually take a break.

It is a common joke in my family that we go back to work to relax. The vacation I last took from work had me doing yard work prepping raised gardens and a tiered system for growing strawberries for most of it, working with my family from sunup to sundown. We are reaping the rewards of that now, with an amazing crop of tomatoes. Not all work is bad, draining, or harsh. Hell, not all rest or relaxation is necessarily stopping doing everything. I find it relaxing and refreshing to do work outside. A lot of folks do.

What is different here is that I have been doing spiritwork without a vacation or rest for years. My daily routine would start with a 10-20 minute preparation session of cleansing, grounding, centering, and shielding, then prayers to start my day. If I had spiritwork to do I would repeat this routine with refreshes throughout the day. This in and of itself was not an issue. My routine has become a lot smaller and compact, and over time I expect it will expand again as changes are needed. What was at issue was the amount of spiritwork I was piling on top of it most every day.

I was doing what, in retrospect, is a good bit of spiritwork for other people. This includes writing on this blog and for my Patreon, answering questions as they came by email or Discord, making prayers not for my Patreon as they came through my email, scheduling then doing divination and consultatation sessions, and ongoing spiritual support work through various Discord servers. When I had time in between work and Work I was writing multiple books.

Consider all of this with being a father, huband, partner, and working anywhere from 40-80 hours a week for my job, depending on how bad mandatory overtime gets, and I was hitting burnout. Only I did not want to see it, and was powering through it.

Unlike times past, however, I am listening to my loved ones.

So, I am taking a break for a month from all spiritwork for others. Likely for myself, too. I know it is necessary to take time on occasion. My hope is by the time November comes around I will be refreshed and ready to go. If not, I will take another month. If I need to I will take time until the New Year. I hope it does not come to that. However, my Ginnreginn, my loved ones, and the communities I serve need me to be at my best. So do I.

Musings on Spiritwork

Sometimes, spiritwork is hard. It can be hard to want to do the daily work, to want to do the daily prayers, to want to do the work that is ours to do. It can be hard to find the motivation, let alone the energy to do all that can be asked of us.

A lot of us spiritworkers are hard on ourselves. Trying to do more with less. Less sleep, time to ourselves, self-care. We want to do more of the thing that pushes us to wake up and (eventually) go to bed. The spiritwork itself is hard enough. What makes it harder, or at least puts barriers in front of the motivation, is all the stuff I have to do in front of and behind the spiritwork that makes sitting down to it that much harder.

There is also no denying that many spiritworkers are burning not only their own candle at both ends, they’re sometimes switching tea lights to keep the fire going. I have had times like that. Some of it is the absolutely toxic work ethic in the United States. Some of it is my upbringing. I have written on this blog before on what a hamstringing effect feeling like you have to be ‘productive’ all the time can be.

So how to get beyond that? To a certain extent I recognize that getting ‘beyond’ the United States’ obsession with burying its working class is not going to happen anytime soon, at least on a societal scale. To a certain degree, it’s the climax of Wargame: the only way to win is not to play. Sometimes I lack the willpower to do that. So, I work with the impulse. I reframe rest as offering or work itself so that when I am called to work, I can do it. Sometimes this works, and sometimes I stare at the ceiling because anxious brain weasels are assholes.

To this end binaural beats, rain sounds, crackling fires, and other such videos and sound makes up my YouTube Meditation and Relaxation playlist. Sometimes this works. Sometimes I am staring at the ceiling as my ears are full of sound. There are going to be times when, no matter how much deep breathing after cleansing, grounding, centering, shielding, and other work you do, you are just not going to sleep. When I am like this I take the time to rest anyway, just so my body is not moving, my brain is not spinning on projects or anxiety.

It is very easy to write these words and far harder to do them. Pushing yourself to rest is a kind of discipline, and it is one I am still learning how to do. Sometimes video games in bed, eg my Switch or my phone, helps this. Sometimes it gets right in the way. So, I need to be adaptable. More often than not if I start to read I will want to stay up to finish the book, so I tend not to read. It usually does not put me to sleep; it stimulates.

There is no small amount of self-control, self-awareness, and self-discipline that a spiritworker needs to cultivate. The thing, though, is not to fool ourselves that there is ‘an end’ to this. There will be setbacks, times where, no matter how much effort I put forward the thing at hand will not be done. I also need to not excuse this, just to acknowledge I have failed to do it, that it this does not make me a terrible spiritworker or anything else, and to get back on the proverbial horse the next day.

Ginnreginn all know this far easier to write than it is to put into practice. It still needs to be done.

There will always be Work to do. There will always be things that need doing, whether the chores or the obligations, the little things or the big things. The best I can do is all I can do, and from there on, as best as I can, I have patience with myself.

Spiritwork is hard and gratifying. It is a real blessing to be able to do. It is a beautiful thing to watch as someone develops their practice, or asks for help in building a new relationship with their Gods, Ancestors, spirits, or all three. It is a powerful experience to feel Them so close, to experience Their Presence, and to facilitate Work that will bring others to that. It is wonderful to partner with the Ginnreginn to do the Work.