Reddit is a great place to be a chaplain.

First, I have reached the conclusion that facebook can indeed be a cognitive addiction, I left around May 1st-ish and I still find myself reaching for my phone to make stupid little status updates even now. Example, walking my dog Ziu on the stream path behind our home and picking wild Sping onions. Okay, they will taste great in my stir fry this evening, but no one in Odinism outside of the local Braucherei would care about wild onions, and more importantly, the vast majority of them are fiercely against social media and limit internet use, if they even have the internet at all.

So, therefore, I concluded I would be sharing something entirely meaningless except for a small handful of other forager-types, and onions are nothing special compared to morel mushroom season or finding a decent sized chicken-of-the-woods (big shelf fungus that allegidly tastes like chicken.)

I suppose since Leah’s memorial service my focus in my chaplaincy shifted a bit. I am a little better known outside of just Odinism now and I felt a bit overwhelmed and needed to pull back my online interactions a bit. I still do as much (or little?) as always, but instead of being a one woman suicide/crisis/grief hotline- by pure happenstance I wound up on an obscure forum on Reddit for individuals and their families seeking support for a type of rare medical condition which happens to be incredibly common in my family.

I had a family medical emergency from that condition last week, created a stupid off-the-cuff throwaway name looking for resources for myself, was quickly connected to what I needed and in turn, learned that many of the questions people were posting on that forum I have the resources to answer or, at very least, point people in the correct direction to find answers that the moderators were at a loss to fix. I seemed to very quickly find a nice niche in there and have been happily helping ever since.

I do not give medical advice by any means, but I sure know my way around the process of finding the right types of doctors, can offer my own experience as a person who has family who suffer the condition for how to best help symptomatic family, and as a bonus, still have every chaplain resource available to listen or refer others to even better resources that can quickly help them out and even lead to solutions that stick- whereas with suicide/grief chaplaincy there are seldom quick fixes, nor even clear resolutions in many cases outside of therapy I am not qualified to provide beyond listening and the time it takes for psychological wounds to heal.

My /u/Tyrienne account still is active on regular reddit, but I discovered it is also a very nice change of pace to just be a ‘normal’, multifaith chaplain who can help with a few sentences and some links as opposed to pulling all-nighters with suicidal strangers via private messaging.

Reddit forums can be much more structured, especially the older forums. The acutely suicidal are better served by calling a crisis line such as 1-800-SUICIDE instead of me staying online for countless hours attempting to convince people to call that number. I realize I was living part of my life as a human redundancy.

So, I now have a secret screenname I use exclusively for a forum for a condition that is common in my biological family, something I know how to navigate the treatment process fairly well from a lifetime of understanding the condition. There, my religion as Odinist has only been mentioned twice, but I feel much happier overall with my work.

For one thing, it ceased feeling like “work”… although Heathen-Odinist chaplains with degrees and certifications seldom get paid anyway, the three or four of us in the US community I know definately work our asses off in our respective volunteer work. I know one in the military, one weddings, and one or two who did prison work, who if reading this, I dearly hope continued that outreach.

Heathenry, by nature does not have religious authorities…and should NOT be human billboards attempting to convert. Instead, we should serve as intake to answer questions and give out the basic booklist of the Eddas and helpful, supporting literature. (As always, my favorite remains “The Odin Brotherhood” by Mark Mirabello)

Each man and woman stands on their own in their European spirituality and do not and should not require any intermediary between ourselves and our Ancestors and Gods. Too often American Heathenry and Odinism falls into the Abrahamic pattern/trap of clergy with congregation… and really, that is not how we are supposed to work at all.

The Goethe/Gythia or even legal chaplain is a servant to the community and should only be responsible for helping others through difficult times, providing resources, performing services that the law requires legal clergy for (most people choose weddings, I chose funerals and forcing doctors to offer hospice care as an option for families with loved ones about to pass on from illness or traumatic injury), or in passing on our traditions to children and those who are newly called to our faith. We are supposed to lead only by example, and encourage each Odinist to be a leader in their own right.

We are not meant to have hierarchy, no one Odinist is more ‘important’ than any other. Each of us is capable of reading our own books, performing our own holiday rituals, and it is essentially toxic to lead a group of Odinists like a minister runs a Christian church.

My former kindred was very good at giving each person their equal moments of leadership for most of the extraordinarily long life it existed until many of our brothers fell into hard drug use. In trying so hard to integrate into other local communities, I got lost, and actually hurt a great deal by politics and backstabbing as other individuals jockied for ‘leadership’ roles in organizations.

Heathenry should not be organized, Odinism is an intimately personal experience you share with your family and like-minded friends.

I have successfully made some progress in reconnecting with my roots with the local Dīevturba (and in refreshing my passive fluency in Latvian) and my chaplaincy degrees and such are actually better used at this time helping people as simply someone who went to college for the correct education to provide resources and support for anyone I can help, regardless of their own faith or mine.

I am a chaplain who is also an Odinist. I need to remember that, as should all others who went for legal legitimacy. It can be difficult to reconcile where we are supposed to ‘fit’ in our communities verses our legal title which was created based on a monotheistic model.

The federal government is very specific about how religions are defined and accepted; Odinists who seek accredited, ecclesiastical and counseling training are valuable in proving our legitimacy to non-Heathens, but we are not nor should not be anything other than a resource for the community entire or anyone else who could use our assistance.

It is a calling and a privilege, not an accomplishment.

When I feel up to it, I will be swinging back to the Odin Brotherhood forums as Tyrienne, but other than that, I have people to celebrate holidays with and invites I still would like to work up the nerve to accept from kindreds who operate on a more equal, appropriately ‘each person is a descendant of Gods’ model. (Hi MJG: Call me again, we need to catch up.)

Otherwise, the absolute most important thing to my spirituality at present is being here for my godchildren who are now all reaching that critical puberty age where I can take some stress off the parents by providing a thorough religious education on our beautiful tapestry European polytheistic religions and watch them bloom. One of my little goddaughter’s has even developed an obsession with fox fylgia and I am absolutely thrilled by that!

I do love talking about foxes, and in a few weeks I look forward to seeing my eldest godchild and her grandma before she leaves Pennsylvania for the summer for upstate NY.

So, this is where my path is right this moment in May of 2018. I will have my husband post this on the facebook page for me, and if any of you from real life or OB still need my phone number, email me at renalexanders@gmail.com

Also, summer solstice is coming up, it would be a great time now to scoutout your local mountains…and while doing so, I still support #Wotennetwork and Woten on the Peaks created by Stephen McNallen. Bring your horn and raise it high for the purpose of our Gods stirring up the blood of the collective ancestral spiritualities of our folk to the old (and very good!) Ways of our Gods and ancestors!

Hailsa!🦊

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2 Responses to “Reddit is a great place to be a chaplain.”

  1. Hello,

    I discovered your blog a few days ago. I want to thank you for your courage in being so vulnerable publicly. Due to a catastrophic illness last summer I have learned a new meaning for vulnerability and compassion.

    The illness that fried my brain also fried my religious sensibilities, just when they would be useful, damn. So I don’t claim to be much of one thing or another. I do love my Northern Heritage and honor Freyja and Sunna. Are they real? I don’t know. I do know that recognizing them seems appropriate so I do so. Before my brain fried I was a Christian. Rearrange your brain rearrange your life I guess.

    I know you and your hubby have been through a lot, as my wife and I have. I just want you to know that there are people who are willing to extend an honest hand of friendship.

    Lee

    • Tyrienne Says:

      Of course, I would love to begin a correspondence! My email address is pretty public: renalexanders@gmail.com

      I can relate to brain frying, clearly… “The brain is the most important organ in the body.” -the brain

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