The Tyr Rune is a Rune of competition, victory and success. It works as a unifying force to pull everything together for completion of a single goal. A very physical example of this unifying force can be experienced. The thrust of a bayonet and lunge of a fencer are physical actions that exemplify the Tyr Rune’s unity. In each, the whole body works together: arms, legs, torso, hands and head. All are focused on putting the point, be it the tip of a combat knife or sword, into its target with speed and force. This is what it means to “strike with authority.”
As with the small, so with the large. The best tactics and strategy all work similarly. All elements, all units, all troops and all weapons are coordinated to complete the mission. Great generals master the ability to coordinate their forces successfully. Generals like Rommel, Patton., Hannibal and Sherman made their forces move as one. In fact, it was Sherman who said
“An Army is a collection of armed men obliged to obey one man. Every change in the rules which impairs the principle weakens the army.”
One of the ironies of unity occurred at a little place on the Mongolian border with Manchuria in Summer of 1939. Nomonhan was a disputed point on the border. Japan and its Manchurian puppet army faced the Mongolians and their Russian allies. At the time, Japanese military doctrine about the Russians claimed they were dull and good only in the defense. The doctrine stated that the Russians were incapable of a coordinated attack.
The battle seemed to rage back and forth for a month. Actually, the Russians were gathering their forces. When they unleashed them, they managed to pin down Japanese forces and do an end-run that encircled and smashed them. For every four men who went into Nomonhan from the Japanese side, only one walked out under his own power. A meticulously coordinated attack had utterly defeated a division and a half of Japanese and Manchurian troops. The Russians did what Japanese doctrine considered impossible.
That is another example of the Tyr Rune principle.
Let us use an allegory to understand another side of the Tyr Rune. Think of a Rune as having three steps: Start, Middle and Last. The Tyr Rune principle of unifying happens in the Start phase and expends itself in the Middle. It is in the Last phase that we find another aspect which is rarely discussed. Honor is connected to the Tyr Rune.
In its dictionary definition, honor is recognition, respect, esteem, glory, prestige. It can also be privilege and pride, as in “It is my honor to …”
As a verb, to honor means to respect and hold in esteem. It can also mean to fulfill or keep, as to honor an agreement or honor a commitment.
Once again, our everyday language gives us clues to the Runes. That brings us up to a facet of Tyr that has all the impact of a sledgehammer on the bridge of your nose. Simple, hard truth is an aspect of the Tyr Rune. This is unembellished reality. Tyr Rune truth is as blunt as a battering ram and has all the tact of a buffalo stampede.
Take a moment and consider the three aspects of the Tyr Rune already mentioned. These are Unity / Unified action, Honor and bold Truth. Within each is a similar element.
As Runes go, Tyr is as simple and unvarnished as it gets. Like the God for which it is named, the Rune is direct and clear in its purpose. Though a strategy may use deception and guile, the intent is still clear: victory. So it is with the Tyr Rune. Everything is there. Confusion comes not from the Rune, but from those trying to deal with it. The Human insistence on complexity obscures one from comprehending blunt simplicity. Tyr is as simple as it gets. At its heart, it is a singularity. What seems like many is only one thing with many facets. Like an army, it is one force composed of many units for one purpose.
If the Tyr Rune has three stages, these might be described as Planning, Action and Finishing. Planning would include preparing a strategy, training and what the military refers to as Intelligence. The latter is the gathering of information, especially on the disposition and location of the enemy. The gathering of this information and its assessment is part of the Planning phase. (We might also refer to the Planning phase as Preparation.) In military terms, that would include reconnaissance and other forms of gathering information. All of this would be used in making plans.
Non-military examples of the Tyr Rune kind of planning include investors researching markets and sports scouts watching opposing teams play. Engineers scouting a route for a new railroad, explorers planning an expedition and coaches devising a game plan are further examples of the Planning / Preparation phase.
Training is part of this phase, too. Be it football practice, shooting at the rifle range or taking courses to improve one’s abilities, training is an active type of planning. It prepares people to take action, according to their various occupations. In this, the soldier, sailor, first baseman and salesman are all made ready for the action required of their various professions.
The next phase is Action. Here, plans and preparations are implemented. The execution of a plan depends on the other preparations, from training to intelligence. A saying from the sport of boxing applies: “Every man has a plan until he gets hit.” The field of action is a place of quick change. Plans have to adapt to the changes. People have to be able to handle unexpected circumstances as the Action phase progresses. Here is where training and leadership come in.
The last phase is that of Finishing, Honor, Results and Outcomes. Here the successful investor reaps profits while the victorious sportsman and soldier receive their honors. Trophies, medals and other regalia are among the personal rewards for victory. Those honored as heroes gain a special status. Especially esteemed heroes, individual or group, may even have a monument erected. Public displays of honor are common, from bronze plaques honoring fallen soldiers to grand statues commemorating victorious generals. The Finishing phase also includes “mopping up” operations, pursuit of a defeated enemy and consolidating one’s gains.
While a “follow through” is obvious, what about honor?
Honor is not a reward in the usual sense. Honor is intertwined with dignity. We give respect and honor because that is the kind of people we are. We honor those who deserve it, and in so doing also honor our Gods and bring honor to ourselves. Honor is a two-way street.
If one is given an honor, such as a trust, then it is his obligation to uphold that honor. Trust is important because it means that someone values the individual’s integrity. Honoring that trust is the act of an honorable individual. So it is with honoring any commitment or obligation.
Not all brave people are honorable. There are fearless persons whose brave actions are done for dishonorable gains. There are brave men and women who are of a disgraceful character. Indeed, there have been individuals who did great things who are despicable persons. There are many criminals who exhibited bravery in the commission of their most dastardly deeds. Honor requires more than courage. One must have a dignity of spirit and live by a higher standard. This is a matter of character.
We honor those who have served the greater good. This is the concept behind events such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We honor those who have made significant achievements in many fields, as well. There are kudos and honors for excellence in sports, academics, scientific discoveries, exploration and rescue. We honor the great minds who have led the way in the areas of politics, culture, society, technology, religion and philosophy. What does that say of us? How could we recognize that which is honorable if we did not have honor in ourselves?
Using the bazooka (antitank rocket launcher) as an allegory, honor has a back blast. You cannot give honor unless you have at least a spark of it in yourself. You cannot honor a promise or honor a commitment without having a sense of honor in yourself. The degree of it does not matter so much as the fact that it is present. Honor is not a static thing. It can grow in a person. Honor is as much an action as it is an idea. It is seen in the doing. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort. Sometimes all it takes is showing up.
Respect is inexorably connected with honor. We used to be a more respectful society. Young people were taught to address older people as Mister and Missus, respectively. They were never to call an adult by their first name. There was respect for elders and respect for the common good. Somehow, we lost some of that. Even within Heathenism, we have young people who have little respect for elders and those who have been doing this a long time. We also have a few whose dishonorable actions in the world at large have reflected badly on all of Heathenism.
Part of honor is how we respect circumstances. When visiting another’s place, be it anything from home or office to an online forum, it does us well to be good guests. We respect our hosts and do not do anything to cause them problems. In a courtroom, we need to respect the formalities and the process. (Those who are too disrespectful might find themselves charged with contempt of court.) Another part of respect is to dress and act appropriately for the occasion. There is a proper way to dress and behave at weddings, funerals, graduations and other events. What goes for the ballpark does not go for the funeral parlor. Even then, there was a time when men wore a jacket and tie to go to the ballgame. By being appropriate in our appearance and demeanor, we are acting as honorable individuals.
This is not always easy. Many have had to restrain themselves because of the bad behavior of others at special events. Maintaining the dignity of the event was more important than confronting an ill-mannered jackass. Keeping the integrity of the event in spite of provocation is the act of an honorable person.
There are small honors that happen so often, we barely notice them. There are the people who go out on Memorial Day weekend to place flags on the graves of veterans. Many a family visits the graves of their departed loved ones. For some, a trip to the cemetery connects them with family history going back scores or even hundreds of years. We honor our past. The little devotions of life are common acts of honor and respect.
Honor is an aspect of the Tyr Rune and it is also one of the things attributed to the God Tyr.
We react strongly to broken trusts and breaches of honor. Those who insist on acting dishonorably earn the scorn of the people. They are regarded as disgraceful. Such people have a hard time overcoming the stigma attached to their dishonorable deeds. They are pariahs: outcasts. Just as wrongdoers were outlawed in the old days, so those who betray the trust are considered beyond the pale of decent society. The ranks of the disgraced are swelled by fallen politicians, deceitful businessmen and corrupt persons of all types. Our revulsion at such people is indicative of the value we place on honor.
And so we come to the unavoidable fact. We as people cannot function without honor. Respect and trust, even in small things, keep families and societies running. On some level, we expect it. We expect people to respect the customs and sensibilities that guide everyday life. Most do. Only when situations arise whence they are not respected do we react.
There are great honors and small honors. The great honors are reserved for those who do great works to the benefit of the community, state or nation. Small honors are commonplace and are shared in everyday transactions. Big or small, they are part of that which is covered by the Tyr Rune.
Under some circumstances, we might divide each of the three aforementioned phases of Tyr into three phases. In Planning, the first phase is setting the ground work: objective, purpose, etc. The Action phase is gathering information, research, and putting the plan together. The Finishing phase is getting the plan passed to those who will enact it. Depending on their role, they may get all or part of the plan. In common parlance the Final phase is where those who will perform the action get their marching orders.
In the Action Phase, the Preparation phase includes getting all the elements moving into place. This also includes using preparatory tactics, such as artillery barrages, probing attacks and other preliminary actions. The Action phase is the implementation of the plan: the battle, the conflict, the game, the competition. The Final phase is pressing the attack to defeat the enemy. This is the point where victory is unstoppable. In the defense, it is the point where the enemy is repelled. Should the situation be a losing one, the end of the Action phase is where defenders cover the retreat. In effect, this is where one “cuts his losses.”
The Final phase is the result of Action. The Beginning of the Finish is in giving final orders to consolidate the victory. Here the orders go from an Attack or Defense to a follow-up of the defeated enemy. For retreating troops, the route of march is determined and orders are given. In baseball, this is where teams try to get “insurance runs”. Businesses shift from competing to planning how to consolidate their gains.
The Action phase of the Finishing phase is where victory is followed by rendering the enemy incapable of further fighting. Pursuit and mopping up operations take place. In defense, it is the place where the defenses are repaired and improved to prevent further trouble. In the case of a retreat, here is where the retreating troops come to safety. In sport, this is where the teams head for the lockers. For business, the Action part of the Final phase is consolidating their gains.
The finish of the Final Phase is the end of action. Honors are given, be they medals or trophies. After-action reports are made and distributed. Assessments are made and discussed. The last of the follow-up work is done. It is over.
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