Archive for April, 2016

Modifying the “Serenity Prayer” for public HEATHEN context

Posted in About me on April 18, 2016 by Tyrienne

In the funeral industry, there is a common Christian prayer that has been modified to suit pretty much every other faith but ours… it begins with:

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.”

After reading the full version, I have created a rough one for Heathenry.  Feel free to make suggestions, modify, or use it as you may.  Since it is so common, this may be useful and familiar and easier to use for funerals of mixed faith…or even as a guide for some who have transitioned from Christianity into this path to understand the differences in our perspectives between the wisdom of the Aes as compared to Christian philosophy.

Here my Odinist/Asatru/Heathen modification (written VERY quickly):

Gods, help me develop the wisdom* to accept with serenity/understanding (your choice)
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change all things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as inevitable
Taking solace, as Odin did in that:
The strands of fate as already written
woven by the Norns
and by the deeds of others
Not as I would have it,
but designed by forces unknown to me.
Trusting that all things,
have their ending
and new things begin
If I stand proud,
and do not bow my head in surrender
That I may live an honorable life
And my legacy of word of my good deeds
will live long beyond the time I pass from Midgard

Hailsa

The original prayer was written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr….and goes:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

Seeing as other faiths made their own versions, ours was long overdue.

Hopefully, it can serve some use to even one of you  in either context.

Cemetary

Zion’s Lutheran Cemetery in Berks County, PA

 

*Edit added via suggestion written by “Tyrsman”.

Frith and the Wolf Sled

Posted in About me on April 5, 2016 by Tyrienne
sled

Image from Frey Carriage Company-relevant later in post

One of the hearts of the local Witchcraft scene has an absolutely glorious facebook of quotes.  Today, he shared:

“THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS UNTIL THEY HAVE DEFENDED YOU IN YOUR ABSENCE”.

And I thanked him- it has been a topic I’ve been putting off writing on for a while.   However, I need to make the amendment to the sentiment by also saying this applies to blood family as well.  The family who is sweet to your face but venom behind your back is terrible.

This is not a passive-aggressive post, I don’t believe in that.  What I want to talk about is an issue I have been struggling with for several years with my paternal grandparents.  I have nothing to hide and I’m honestly at a loss both intellectually and holistically regarding my perplexing relationship with them.

Both are entirely too German- they aren’t Nazi’s (that was my maternal grandfather who was assassinated in 1979- but he also worked for the Allies, too.) It’s the ethic of what is verbot or not to talk about, to see, and express.

There are so many prohibitions in Pennsylvania Deitsch culture and taboos I am honestly more perplexed by converts to Urglaawe than any other Heathen practice as soon as the novelty of hex signs and cute, pacifistic holiday celebration wears off.   To be raised in Pennsylvania, to be Pa Dutch, and then to be immersed in our culture by being surrounded by others of the same lineage really solidifies the cultural identity of our ancestry.  What credit is due is that being accepted/recognized as Deitsch is pretty easy.  Either a single ancestor or being accepted into any family is usually enough.

We may be cold, emotionless, stolid, joyless people… but we are accepting of good people.

The Pa German ethic as I’ve observed in my family (not reflected in the Urglaawe religion, and hopefully  some never to be incorporated):

1. Keep your problems to yourself, handle it yourself, and if you cannot, you have failed.
2. If an elder decides you have “brought shame” to the family, you have.
3. Hand Tools Need To Be Treated With Respect.  The older the hand tool, the better it is.
4. If someone is sick, hide them.  No one wants to see weakness.
5. Always have several back-up plans.
6. Work hard, play little, die miserable- then haunt your relatives until they die.
7. Your dead relatives are watching you.  Don’t fuck up or they will haunt you regardless.
8. Know how to do every practical task to maintain a home, from cooking to carpentry.
If you don’t know how to do it by the time adulthood begins, you have failed.
9.  Intelligence/Ingenuity uber alles. Dumkopfs verboten es.
10. Respect the dead.  A visit to a cemetery is no less important than visiting the living.

Needless to say, I have utterly and totally discarded many of these 10 basic observations I listed off the top of my head- except for 3,5,7,8, 9 and 10 to various degrees.

However, as grim as this may sound- we also had a story called the “wolf sled”- which seems to be fought over between Olde Germany and countries in the former Soviet Bloc.

The story goes like this, roughly, details change per culture:

The Wolf-Sled

Grandmother (in some stories, grandfather, but women live longer)  was getting on in years and was becoming “troublesome” so Vater (father) called his young son to help him hitch up a special sled in the barn and help him gather granddmother to ride with them.
“What is this sled? I have not seen it before.” asked the son,

Father told him it was called The Wolf Sled and it was used in the family for centuries for a special purpose.  The father showed the son how to attach the horses to the sled and off they went away from all paved roads headed towards the wilderness.

The child asked his father, “Where are we going?”
His father replied, “We are going to the Wolf-woods, grandmother is old and troublesome.  It is our tradition when this happens we take our elders in the wolf-sled to the wood, and the wolves decide if they come back or not.”

Father unhitched the two horses and gave one to the son…together they left grandmother and the sled behind them.

The son asked the father, “But father, what about the sled?  I will need it for when you become old and troublesome.”

And so the story always ends…the father abruptly turned around and retrieved the grandparent and destroyed the wolf-sled when they returned to the village.

It sounds pretty benevolent in the end- how cruel it was that the practice existed to take our elderly into the woods and leave them to be devoured by wolves or to see if they could wander back into town undevoured!

However, there is a hidden subtext to this story that is overlooked:  What exactly do you do when the person you knew as a loving grandparent becomes hateful through dementia?

As in all other forms of Heathenry, reputation is very important as is one’s name and legacy. In modern times, this has translated to shoving our elderly into nursing facilities like a wolf-wood with no escape.

No doubt, there are many good hearted, kind elderly people who are trapped in nursing homes.  Then there are the assholes with dementia who act like possessed gremlins, bite people, and generally cause absolute havoc first on the family then on the nurses they are eventually dumped on.  From observations in my own life, the dementia that causes absolute discord seems to be mostly found in people of some form of German descent..and usually women.

I miss my Nana.  She’s far from dead; she still leads a very active social life in her retirement community of tea party elderly folk and has little time for the rest of the family anymore… which may be for the best considering it seems everything she says is intentionally meant to hurt or harm the person to whom she speaks.  Worse, what she says to our faces compares nothing to the cruelty of the words spoken when we are not present.

For the majority of my life she was the most loving, supportive person I had.  We called each other almost daily until I was 26 years old, she was my best friend and my favorite relative.

Then, it all changed Thanksgiving of my second year of college (I returned to college in my late 20’s).  It began with the gravy- her screaming that it was the “wrong color” despite us assuring her it looked great. My grandfather and I helped bring all the food to the table, and we both told her with all honesty it was delicious- she called us liars and other insults.
After the meal was completed, this woman who was renowned as much for her OCD as her intelligence began to just randomly BREAK DISHES because she did not like the water pressure in her elaborate kitchen.  She was trying to carry them to the laundry room (which had no room for such a thing!) and refused help to do so- and yet, with each dish she broke she blamed my grandfather and I.

Pop pop walked me out to my car and said with all sincerity he was “getting her tested” and that he would call me and let me know the results.  The call never came.

In fact, every possible reason and method that could be employed to estrange me was used by my grandfather up to and including telling me I was a failure and a disgrace to the family when I was discharged from the psychiatric hospital for being suicidal.
His exact words: “Mental illness doesn’t exist; you would have shamed the family less if you succeeded in killing yourself”. and “If it is in your mind, then you can correct it.”

He was offended I was diagnosed with the same condition as his close relative (relation yet to be determined- Dad and I call him “Uncle Grandpa” over ambiguity of family stories over when this man was a POW) who was a decorated war veteran.

Instead of realizing and understanding that the predisposition to developing C-PTSD has been proven to be genetic.

My deceased maternal grandfather modified grandma’s house to make the inner walls into hard-to-access rooms.  This reaction to  “shellshock” was not derided and when I explained my condition to my Latvian grandma she understood it immediately and explained how it affected my grandpa.

My paternal grandparents act like I murdered small children or molested goats for their total disrespect and lack of care for all I have worked hard to achieve in life, for my successes, for anything positive at all, really.

I have never addressed this in public before- but knowing positively he tested for Alzheimer’s and Nana’s dementia (or whatever deteriorative neurological condition it may be)…

How would it feel to him if I told him that their brain conditions were “all in their head” and that they “bring shame to the family by not killing themselves,”?

How does it feel to have a condition in YOUR heads?

I am 34 years old and I am discovering that my allergies and genetic conditions most closely resemble those of my Nana who I cannot talk to without her finding something hurtful to say.

A women who was never thin during my time on this Earth apparently refers to me as “fat, useless, and tacky” to other people in the family.  She accused me of being a member of ISIS for studying Irani diplomacy in college and would hear no explanation that Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are entirely distinct countries.

She blamed me for President Obama being elected to office a second term- I didn’t vote that election, and furthermore, SHE voted him in the first election.

In Pennsylvania, most of us are third party voters outside of presidential elections.  Unlike the rest of the country, there is no “divide” between Republicans and Democrats- most of us are everything but those two parties ideologically and only join the parties to vote.

They were always Libertarians- unfortunately, even through the hijacking of the teaparty and modification of the ideals of the party.  I changed to Independent.   The men always go Republican, the women Democrat… without even telling my husband this, he fell right into the same routine.  Our theory is “One on each side votes out the worst each party has to offer”.   ( Hence, why I re-registered after trying my damnedest to stay neutral.)

She told my father she “Would never want to visit my house”… and my father didn’t understand why it hurt me.

This was the woman who was there for all my surgeries in my 20’s and held my hand until they injected me with enough Valium to down a horse.  She fought for me when no one else would when I was a child.  She claimed to love me.  Was the love dependent on a narcissistic view of her expectations for me, or did it die with her mental deterioration?

Their old house was my safe haven where I was always welcome and accepted as myself.  A rare thing for a German pansexual in the puritanical USA.  They drew the line at tattoos and my freaky colored hair- but if that is truly what caused the estrangement, that is a poor excuse indeed.  As is changing my name… Ren is the name I have been called since I was 12- further, I’m married.  I have my husband’s name (and the kindness of HIS family!)

Since prior to my birth my family has been rendered apart and forced into needlesss conflict over their will since my Pop pop had an illustrious career as a college vice president and occasional professor despite holding no higher degrees of education himself.

I do not want any part of the money and greed that made my second cousins hate my grandparents, and my great Uncle Barry unwilling to talk to me or my father.  If I am  in the will by some odd oversight, I will gladly sign a notarized letter with the Philadelphia Zoo whenever requested giving them the sole right to all financial conflicts in my name vis a vis my grandparent’s eventual death that I want no part of in my eventual future. (unless they outlive me)

I choose the Philadelphia Zoo because it was always one of their favorite charities, my only request would be for a Tanuki exhibit.  Tanuki need more conservation than I do or any other person in our bloodline.

Tanuki

These are Tanuki, they are from Japan and there are very few of them.  Save the Tanuki.

 

I will not change my name to suit you.  I do not want your checks, and you do not have any financial power over my life as you do others in my family. What do I want?  I want the close affectionate and intellectual relationship I had with you before you decided I was your enemy.  If you do not see me as your enemy or your embarrassment, the extraordinary efforts you have made to insult my existence these last years and distance me from you has been successful.  If you want to “buy” me something, buy a frame for me to hang my BA proudly and hang it in your own house too.  Be proud of what I accomplished despite my difficulties.

I make sure I call you to thank you for your cards when you are not home because you are abusive… but were not always.

Which leads me to this painful thought:  What happens to people with dementia after they die?  Do they revert to the best of who they were before the disease or was the “wolf sled” a way of saving us from watching those we love deteriorate and become hateful, horrible people who delight in stepping on people who they judge unseemly?

My father in law has Alzheimer’s and he is far from “troublesome” in anywhere close to the same capacity or category.  He can still say a kind word and mean it genuinely.  He can drive people nuts, but he has a good heart.  I can honestly say I cannot say with certainty the same for my own paternal grandparents.

What do I lose by this post when for the past 3 years the only positive experience I have of my grandparents is my grandfather approving my home prior to me buying it- but on the phone blasting me for not “walking away” because I did not care that the seller would not reduce the price further?

I wasn’t bargain hunting- I was looking for a place my husband and I could grow old together comfortably.  I love this house and property and it is my joy.  I do not want more than this.

Then… deriding me for asking to learn some carpentry from him only to be told to “watch YouTube” being insulted AGAIN for not buying internet for a house in which I did not yet live in and to hear him insult my uncle and father as suffering “acquired helplessness” from his “help” before…but yet, both my father and uncle are quite adept on their own at home repair (I am assuming about my uncle…again, we are basically strangers but I was impressed he could make a cool cat-tree.)

The last time I visited them in their home I asked Nana just to write a page about Deutsche folkcraft in which she was raised…and now, I fear it is too late.  They both accused me of being in ISIS and claimed I was directly responsible for Obama being in the white house despite the fact I did not vote.  In fact, Nana voted for him the first time around when she had more of her mental facilities intact.  Violent insurgents in Iran are not my “friends” nor anyone I know…and intentionally bringing up things that harmed me is in poorer taste than the tattoos I wear that embarrass you but do not ask what they mean.

I spent 5 hours in an interrogation chamber for my desire to be a diplomat- my Pop pop dodged the draft.  I served in the AmeriCorps which has been derided by them since I successfully concluded my term saying it “ruined the trajectory of my life”, but yet, my fondest memories of all are from living in Tahlequah… I may not be military but I believe I have more in common as far as true patriotism with my dead ancestor than my living family.

It is claimed my student loan debt was the cause of upset- I didn’t ask for you to pay some of them off, but I was grateful.  Now they are entirely dismissed due to my disability which is not just my head, but, ironically also my heart which is defective.

At my wedding, despite years of claiming to “not recall” how to speak German she certainly knew how to criticize the Urglaawe polyglot who performed our beautiful, rustic ceremony.  Not a Mainline extravaganza held in a country club- but an open-invite potluck held in a park closer to the way things were.  I am old enough to recognize the pattern that the more expensive and lavish the wedding, the shorter the marriage.  My wedding was simple because the marriage is more important.  To hear that behind my back it was not viewed positively is a tall order from people married by a justice of the peace prior to falling into wealth.

Not all “advancement” of society is positive- and after a lifetime of hearing about how my grandparents “rose above their family of farmers, machinists, and soldiers”- what I have learned is that the honesty of farmers, machinists, and soldiers is the company I prefer to keep over the pretension of the Nouveau rich.

I didn’t “lose my way”. I am using my college degree every day…and there are (amazingly) things more important than wealth- human connection, leaving a positive legacy to one’s friends and community, to keep learning and growing in wisdom and to treasure people who challenge me to be my best self among them.  My value is that which other’s give me as a gift, both positive and negative, not pieces of green paper or numbers on a screen.

One’s “best” is not determined by their net worth.  The Christians did have a point about wealth being an obstacle to “heaven”.   Materialism creates a hell of suspicion and paranoia that those of modest incomes do not suffer so profoundly.

The wolf sled had a purpose, perhaps it is a shame we are so fearful of death in this modern age that we do not recognize that spiritual damage occurs when we allow people to live too long to the point where all their beautiful qualities die in the spitefulness of dementia and fear.

William Theodore Hunsberger – for as much as you look yourself up, are you happy that you found this?  This is how I feel.  This is why I intentionally seek your voicemail to thank you for your cards twice a year for a card with a cheque written to the wrong name always.  I hope Nana passes away before you do because maybe, just maybe there is a chance there is still something salvageable of kindness in you if you ever learn that money didn’t “solve” your problems, it caused them.

Start painting again,  Pop pop.  Plant your own damned gardens because you were excellent  at it, and to talk to me kindly  – that means more to me than money and baskets of junk food or cheques. Of this family, I am the truth teller.  I am the person who exposes everything we are and have been as a family.  I am open about my flaws, my faults, and my failures- which is a first for any of our line.

Before this is downplayed as my “mental illness”- keep in mind this blog is viewed by hundreds of people around the world who find me quite sane,  Furthermore, since I have actually been in an psychiatric hospital- I am one of the few in the world who can claim I am certified “not insane” or I would still be in there.

I cannot say the same for Alzheimer’s patients, now can I?

Wolf. Sled.

Honoring Intellectual Property of Artists

Posted in Justice on April 4, 2016 by Tyrienne

I do not consider myself an artist- but I am friends with many whose income comes directly from their ability to draw or their musical skills.  I see outrage when a political party uses a song without permission by the artist who performed it without asking permission first and, rightly, the artist has the right to that rage since usually, when their work is used in such a fashion: as a symbol of a movement, person, or organization- that the ideals of the organization who co-opted the work is in direct opposition to the beliefs of the artist in question.

This too, is especially true for those in graphic design and the tattoo industry.  Clients ask for a specific work to meet their idea, the artist agrees or declines to create the work the client requests, and if there is mutual agreement, the art is created for use as a tattoo, logo, or even just art for the sake of art.  It is a business transaction.

Despite our Heathen ethic of Integrity and Honor- I am finding little honor online for my artist friends who have their work stolen, not properly credited, modified, and even worse, used without permission to represent organizations without permission or payment.  This is theft-  no different than going to a craftsman of a physical piece of work, such as a drinking horn, stealing it, and then adding your own modifications, claiming it to be your own, and then mass-producing that horn to which you never had the right in the first place.

Take this picture for example, it may look familiar:

Tattoo design for a Heathen gentleman #tattoodesign #raven #wolf #valknut #runes #heathen #norse

A post shared by Desirée Isphording (@desireeisphording) on

Then…there is this,

Dez modified

Desiree’s artwork…but someone learned how to use a color filter.  The ability to color another artist’s design is neither frithful nor ethical.

Although the “second coming” of the design is more colorful and dramatic- it does not respect the initial artist in the sense that she designed the original for a client who had it tattooed upon his chest- he wanted it to be unique, it was his symbolism HE requested, and now we have found that the new, modified version has been shared hundreds of times, seen by thousands of people, and now is being used as a symbol to represent movements and organizations that have not contacted the artist for consent, nor is she even credited for her hard work in creating the original which is shared as if it were fair-use instead of copyright. (my writing is fair-use…I don’t care who shares what I write, by the way…because I feel my writing is pretty self-explanatory.)

I blog. I do not get paid for what I write, and writing is very easy to me.  However, I sat next to Desiree over many of the days she spent working on the original design.  Some artist appreciate the exposure, however, given the controversial nature of the implied symbolism, the exposure for this image and subsequent modifications put the artist into a very uncomfortable position of seeing her work being used to represent people other than the client who paid her for the initial design.

Please, in this age of pinterest and tumblr, it is still important that graphic artists receive credit for their incredibly hard works and efforts, and that their wishes are respected in the use of the images they create.   If any artist of any picture I share objected to my credited use of their imagery, I would/will remove it.

I would not modify a piece of hand-drawn art and represent it as my own, even if I had the inclination, unless it was strictly for my personal devotional use and not to be shared with others so as not to take away the credit from the artist.

All I am asking is this:  If you are going to share artwork, please make an effort to find the original source of the work.  If you do not know it- use google image search or write “artist unknown, will credit when found”…and please, out of respect, honor and frith, do not modify the original artwork and falsely claim it as your own or “release it into the wild” without the permission of the artist.

Lastly, DO NOT USE ANY DRAWN ARTWORK YOU DID NOT CREATE OR COMMISSION YOURSELF TO REPRESENT ANY CAUSE, ORGANIZATION, OR PERSON WITHOUT EXPLICIT CONSENT OF THE ARTIST.

Value the intellectual properties of artists and musicians- this is what they do to feed their families, and their work being used out of context not only is theft, but can cause them a great deal of personal hardship if the people who steals their images as a representation of a cause or organization can adversely affect their ability to continue to sustain themselves or place them in the terrible situation of their work being used to represent causes they do not themselves support.

Thank you.