Shagbark Hickory

The tree we chose to represent our Irminsul/Yggdrasil is located in the dead center of our property and is one of the oldest trees still remaining after the years of logging, oil drilling, and neglect the land has experienced.

The Shagbark Hickory tree, as someone who came from the West coast, was one of the first trees I noticed around my new home in the East, being highly mysterious and eerie looking, especially in the fall and winter. It’s many knots, “shaggy” bark, holes and twists make it look like something out of a Halloween movie, it just needs an owl and some bats…

These trees can live around 350 years and grow up to 100 feet tall. They produce delicious edible fruit (nuts) that resemble the pecan in texture and flavor. The native tribes who had access to this tree used it for a variety of food products, including milk, flavorings, and bread. It is also a choice wood for smoking meat.

Just like the Germanic tribes favored Ash for weapons and tools, some Native Americans used these trees for weapons, tools, arrows, bows and drumsticks. The bark was also used to flavor a maple syrup alternative.

The Seneca Indians associate these trees with the dead and bringing the dead back to life. It’s said that one could leave the bones of the dead beneath the tree and essentially threaten them to become resurrected lest they be crushed by the limbs of the hickory tree.

Once you see one of these interesting trees it’s hard to not recognize them everywhere. The Shagbark Hickory, in particular, because of its flowing, shaggy, disheveled bark that is signature to their character. This trait, however, is only found amongst mature trees, usually over 20 years old. Until then, the bark remains very smooth, similar to beech.

If you live in the Eastern United States, from Texas to Maine, it is likely you have one of these trees around. I recommend to everyone who has access to one of these awesome trees to sit with one, observe it, experiment with one of its related products, and enjoy its unique character amongst the other trees of the woods.

Further Analysis of the Thurisaz/Thurs Rune

Thurisaz / Thurs / Thyth

Th / ð

Thurisaz has roots in the power of thunder, representing the hammer of Thor, Mjolnir. However, it is widely used for (and known for) offensive and defensive forms of sorcery; internal and external direction of force. Another core concept hidden in this rune is the deep mystery of the giants; the thurs, trolls, ogres, wights, and other associated beings inherent within nature. Many people assign this “giant” like attribute to different, perhaps older races or gods that the Aesir eventually usurped.  

It can be speculated that the persona of the thurs lie with the native populations who were living in modern Europe prior to the Indo-European migrations into the northern regions. These “older” gods and creatures described in the myths can be attributed to these older people in the region, whom already had established a complete religion and cult of their own, centered around the fertile Earth Mother and natural spirits of agriculture. In this regard, thurs could also be a word simply denoting any type of foreign culture or people that the pre-Germanic Indo-Europeans encountered as they spread westward.

We can also see this rune in connection to the great Thursian serpent Jormungandr, as when vocalized alone, the “th” sound can mimic the hissing of a snake. This could be an archaic connection to this giant worm of the depths, the entangling serpent, who is killed and likewise kills the god Thor (a fertility god) during Ragnarök. Perhaps, as many people suggest, this rune has a light and dark side within this framework, where the light represents the god Thor and the dark represents the adversarial giant, Jormungandr.

Another connection we find when describing giants, thurs and ancient Europeans comes from the Scottish-Gaelic word tursa which means “megalith, standing stone, monolith.” These are all key features and unique creations of the native European peoples prior to the Indo-European migration. It’s been said in most old accounts of Stonehenge that these monuments were created by “giants” or older gods. In 1155 Wace writes, “In the British language the Britons usually call them the Giants’ Dance; in English they are called Stonehenge, and in French, the Hanging Stones.” Newgrange, Stonehenge, and all these ancient, megalithic monuments were here long before the Indo-Europeans moved in, and they immediately incorporated these shrines into their practice when they arrived, usually building upon them considerably.

There is also mention of the force(s) of chaos when discussing Thurisaz. This is highly appropriate, as in many ways it can be shown that these beings are a force within nature that represent destruction and chaos, but also rebirth, wisdom, and change. These aren’t evil beings like the Abrahamic demons, but rather vital and necessary forces in nature, slightly unpredictable and highly wild in temperament. Catalysts of impermanence within life and matter. A force to consider for destructive and constructive sorcery. 

In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, this rune changes into its thorn aspect, leaving the giant associations behind. Whether this was out of fear or out of separate connotations with their tribes is up to debate, although, the Old Saxon’s still called this rune thuris meaning “giant”.

In the “Old English Rune Poem” it is said:

“Thorn is sorely sharp to every thane,

Who takes ahold; evil and immensely mean

To any man who rests in its midst.”

Here we are given allusions to the thorn tree/bush and the power our ancestors associated with its’ magic. The Hawthorn was used for many magical and medicinal means, but its’ main function on a homestead was to create defensive barriers between the interior and exterior realms of the village or farm. With their powerful and mildly toxic thorns, they deter almost anything from trying to enter their midst. These trees also house many small birds, who protect homesteads by eating pests like insects and chasing away larger farm antagonists like crows and hawks.

This seems to differ in approach from the “Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme” which states:

“A thurse causes women’s woe;

Few become glad from evil.”

Here we see the word and concept of evil appear again, linking these two different forms together more uniformly within this dark and mysterious rune.

Last, we have the Sanskirt turá meaning “quick, willing, prompt,” but also “strong, powerful, rich and abundant.” We can see a connection with thorn in this word, where turá can also mean “hurt.” This word can reach back further into proto-Indo-European with the word twerHwhich means to “hasten, quicken.” Strangely, this word also has a co-meaning of “enclosed, fenced in,” this could be associated with the (Haw)thorn tree, which was used to mark borders and enclose fields, as their thorns are a mighty force of defense. Here we can see Thurisaz as a rune of defense, but also of strong action; one that represents a force of Will that makes things happen around the practitioner. In this way, Thurisaz is the rune of Will, of action, and of exertion of internal force. Thurisaz is the manipulation, direction, and force of “chaos” inherent within life and matter; the ebb and flow of attack and defense.

Authority from Within

As the path of Odin, Shiva, Socrates, Lucifer, Buddha, and many others will reveal: authority, truth, and wisdom reside in our core, lying within us. Through the emulation and understanding of these most invulnerable and permanent forms, the essence of the Self stirring within every human incarnation, we get a glimpse into a higher, more focused, refined and crystalline sense of reason and awareness. Here is where all answers await, and where all questions of importance in time must be directed, as this is the only conveyer of truth, the eternal Self within all. This is the voice which calls the true seeker; drawing ever closer to its origin; striving to balance the earth and sky.

Irreplaceability, Mastery, and Glory

All men really want is to be irreplaceable.

Mans higher purpose is to become a master of something… a professional at X, a genius on Y, an authority on Z.

When it comes down to it, men want nothing more than to become irreplaceable. They want to know that no one can fill their shoes; that their existence has a meaning tied to their form. They want to know within that they have made a contribution and that their memory/legend will live on beyond the grave; whether or not one has heirs.

Man wants to conquer great obstacles, ascend the highest peaks, and soar into the blackness of space; each one wants his unique piece of the glory.

At a certain point, we must ask ourselves if this is really a bad or negative trait to possess. In reality, yes and no cannot answer this sufficiently, as it seems to be “natural” instinct for driven humans to behave like this.

Do we call the hunting aspects of a mountain lion negative or evil, even when they sometimes kill humans? No, it is natural for them to hunt any prey that is liable and in their territory.

The humans’ need to conquer seems to be akin to this type of instinctual, non conscious behavior; transcending a human “right” or “wrong” duality. Repressing this can be detrimental to one’s own life and the lives of those around him. But, through wisdom, it can be mastered and maneuvered with divine accuracy.

This view ties one in with the physical and metaphysical simultaneously, as one must achieve earthy victories in order to attain the metaphysical “legacy” one wants to build or acquire. In many ways, although this doesn’t seem to offer any sort of climax or end, it reinforces man’s role as the being “in the middle.” We exist within that context, as a wheel in between tracks, moving onward into eternity.

We emerge and dissolve into many forms, although, the deeper parts of our spirit continue to rise ever higher.

Walpurgisnacht

Hailaz Walpurgisnacht!

However you choose to celebrate the next couple days, do it with your full attention.

Meditate on life in its myriad forms.

Banish any fetters holding you down in the damp halls of Hel.

Personally, we will be preparing a part of the homestead for the return of our patron deity of peace, plenty, and fair weather (Freyr,Ingwaz, Fraujon).

(In our practice, Freyr departs after Samhain and returns on May Day.)

Before we do this, we wish to shield ourselves and our land from all forms of evil and misfortune with song, ritual, and fire.

Under the darkest of moons we shall embody the Sun,

Becoming the fire that licks the sky.

Filling our hearts with strength,

impregnating our minds with ferocity.

Let us transcend the depths,

On the wings of the eagle!

ᚠ : ᛉ : ᛋ

The World is What You Make It

People talk about “the real world” a lot.

Referring, usually, to their self built life of slavery; as if it were something one must accept and welcome.

I learned early on that their version of the real world was never a place I was going to survive.

The real world, as many have expressed, is what you make it.

It can be wild, full of life, and mysterious.

Or, it can be dull, boring, and burdensome.

Engage in beneficial actions, live simply, and remember to laugh.

Have joy () in the moment; nothing is permanent.

Change, Growth, and Wisdom

Changing and growing are similar but separate concepts.

Change has no positive or negative connotations. It is just the objective and constant state of existence. Growth, on the other hand, means a positive shift towards the best possible outcome of an organism; becoming larger, stronger, and more capable of survival etc.

Things will always change, but things may not always grow…

Make sure your choices and actions aid you in growth. Build the patterns choice by choice, day by day, until you are no longer conscious of them.

Building a habit of positive growth is something that will ensure your success in any aspect of life. Many sacrifices must be made, starting usually with the ones that that lead to short term pleasures. But, the hard choice will usually bring the most long term benefit and reward.

Growth can be a very painful and uncomfortable process. Learn to recognize and love these sensations.

By knowing these instances, we can actually find enjoyment and satisfaction in these painful moments, acknowledging the “need” one has for these experiences in order to reach higher levels of wisdom and growth.

This lesson can most potently be found within the Nauthiz rune; as trials, tribulations, and resistance in life can ultimately force one to become stronger in mind, body and spirit. Likewise, the rune represents a “make or break” aspect within ourselves, where we can either succeed by force of will, or fail out of weakness.

In summary, it is important to remember that the comfortable life doesn’t give one wisdom.

Life, in many ways and for all beings, is war.

Take a look at your life, choices and actions. Make sure they are aligned with your growth and not just pure change. Strive to conquer obstacles and not cowardly avoid things that are hard to do or figure out.

Wisdom must be hunted for within dark corners; wandered for with sweat and blood.

Essentially, wisdom is experienced, not learned.

Get out there and find it!

Tradition and Rhythm

“(Tradition) cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labor.” – T.S. Eliot

Unless we establish rigorous and unshakable tradition in our own lives, we will never experience the countless secrets hidden in the rhythms of nature.

Like the seasons, like the cosmos, like music…

Everything is acting in rhythm.

The spinning wheel, the beating drum, ritual, poetry…

All emulations of this rhythm.

Everyday, every minute, every action has its place.

ᚱ ᚱ ᚱ

The Wanderer

One of the most important things about Odinism is traveling.

This of course applies to the Shamanic or visionary aspect, but more importantly to the physical traveling or “wandering” of the Earth.

The Odinist must track down sacred places, spend nights alone in new woods, explore the vast deserts, the mountain peaks, the lakes and rivers and valleys green and lush. To enjoy reckless and unwavering ecstasy and new experience, to make new friends and open oneself to all the possibilities of life. To gain as much wisdom and knowledge as possible in this brief incarnation.

Wandering defeats fear and attachments; delivering solace in the self and a destruction of the need for useless “stuff.” Traveling shows us what is important to not only ourselves and our needs, but also that which is important to humans in general, as you will encounter every imaginable type of person to learn from along the way and begin to see patterns and similarities in people and even cultures.

This is Odinic action. The becoming of the wandering God.

Hailaz Wōdanaz!