Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor

15
Oct

The Tools of Spirituality

One of the things that made Ceremonial Magick and Wicca appealing was the tools. The swords, daggers, cups and pentacles and such added to the allure. I believe that every newcomer to those paths takes some joy in acquiring a few tools for himself. And there are those who are willing to cater to that desire. Over the years, I have seen more and more ornate items offered for sale to the budding magicker.

I have some of my old tools around here. An old dagger, a small cup, a few other items. They are vestiges of the time when I was experiencing the many paths of spiritual discovery. The tools added an element of fun to the process. Those wavy moves of the dagger, i.e. athame and the slow raising of the cup….

It might make you wonder:” How did people contact the Power before they invented magickal tools?”

That is rather like Christians who ask how people could be right with their God before the compiling of the Bible.

Before and after, people have enjoyed spiritually-successful lives without tools or scriptures. The tools are just part of formal ceremonies. Over the years, they may have taken on special significance to some individuals. Nonetheless, they are just tools to enhance the experience.

There are people who have convinced themselves that they cannot connect with the Power without tools. These sad folks are so dependent on the props that they miss the real intention. On the other hand, there are many who use no tools at all to connect with the Power. That should be the goal for everyone: to make the connection without any material enhancements.

One of the things I stress to newcomers is the importance on what I call Spoken Spellcraft. Conventional religion calls it Prayer, The New Thought metaphysicians call it Treatment. There are various methods of using it. Most important is the mental operation of contacting, controlling and directing Power to the fulfillment on one’s goal. The spoken part gives it impetus, making the mental operation tangible. (Granted, one can also do Spoken Spellcraft silently, if necessary).

The development of the ability to use Spoken Spellcraft frees an individual fro m the need for elaborate preparation and the accumulation of special implements. With practice, it can be used instantly, with no preparation at all. In other words, spontaneity. You can use it anywhere, at any time.

The individual who masters Spoken Spellcraft is far in advance of those who rely on candles and formulaic spells and the whole kitbag of magickal tools.

Scriptures come and go. The best known in our society are the Bible, Koran, Torah, Talmud, and the Gitas. Some folks treat books like the Eddas as scripture, but this is an error. The ancient Germans and Norsemen were hardly a scriptural people! If you read the Sagas, which are historical novels of the time, you never hear a Norseman quoting a book. Yet look at the Bible and there are folks quoting earlier scriptures left and right.

As mentioned earlier, I have heard Christians – and Jews and Muslims – question how people lived before Scripture. “How did people know right from wrong?” “How did people know God’s will?” “Were people more sinful back then?”

There was life before scripture. We can look back 200 years in this country and see examples. The Indians did not have scripture. They had very functional societies and their own codes of morality. These differed on some points from those of the European settlers, but the basic rules of right and wrong were remarkably similar. The Iroquois Confederation had no equivalent of the Bible, yet it thrived spiritually and morally.

Keep in mind that how a tribe or nation treats its enemies is not the same as the morals that abide within its society.

No tools and no scripture. In our present society, we are so conditioned to the presence of scripture that we cannot imagine religion without it. Yet historically, scriptural religions have been in the minority. We need to relearn living a non-scriptural spirituality. That is easier said than done. The urge to cite scripture is a strong one. For myself, I have refused to memorize The Havamal and other old lore. This is a discipline intended to break the scriptural mentality which is so ingrained by our present society.

*************

For those paths who require tools, there is a mentality of acquiring them “officially.” in other words, buying high-priced items from the local occult shop. You can be sure that the shops charge top dollar. But are their goods “official”? In the minds of many who frequent them, occult shops are more than dispensaries of esoteric paraphernalia. They are also centers for occultists and the owners are regarded as experts, whether indeed they are or not. Nonetheless, the occult shop is really nothing more than a purveyor of occult goods. An item gotten from such a shop is no more official than one found in a thrift store.

Many years ago, I made a “traveling kit” with tools. There was a small “boot” dagger with a three-inch blade. The “cup” was a small brass about 1 ½” diameter. The disk was a 3″ diameter piece of wood that I painted, and the wand was a piece of licorice root. There was a small box of birthday candles, some cord and a mini deck of Tarot cards. It fit in a pouch smaller than a pocketbook. The only Occult shop item was the Tarot deck.

For those who use tools, almost anything can be used in a pinch. A small piece of wood for a wand, a coffee mug for a cup, a butter knife for a dagger: almost anything could be pressed into temporary magickal service.

I rarely use tools of any sort for spiritual work. They are unnecessary for the essential task of contacting, controlling and directing the Power.

********

Were there Runes in my traveling kits? I did not have room for Rune pegs or Rune chips, yet I did a lot of Rune readings. Here’s an old trick for reading Runes using playing or Tarot cards.

Take the pip cards 1 through 8 for the Clubs, Spades and Diamonds suits. Shuffle, cut, and then draw individual cards. Draw from the top. Place and read them like you would if using Rune chips.

With Tarot Cards, use the pip cards 1 through 8 for the Wands, Swords and Pentacles suits.

If you use the extended AngloSaxon Runes, take extra cards from the Hearts / Cups suits.

Clubs and Wands are the 1st Aett
Spades and Swords are the 2nd Aett
Diamonds and Pentacles are the 3rd Aett.
Hearts and Cups are the Anglo-Saxon Additional Runes

For example:
If you use the Elder Futharks and draw a 7 of Clubs, for instance, it is Gyfu. A 3 of Spades would be Isa. The 4 of Diamonds would be Mannar. Thus, the Three-Rune rack would be Gyfu – Isa – Mannar.

29
Sep

Giants in Our Lives

The Giants of myth, such as the Jotuns and Thurses of the Norse Eddas, are colorful characters. For the most part, they are baneful things who are opposed to Gods and men. These ferocious, overwhelming monsters make for good storytelling.

Are they real?

Well…look at the gigantic woes in our own lives. The rampaging giants of our physical world are explained today by science, but are no less vast in size and destructive power. Hurricanes come to mind. Just this season (Autumn, 2018) ,we saw a hurricane devastate North and South Carolina. Massive winds pommeled the shore. Immense rain caused monstrous floods that inundated entire counties. Wind Giants, Rain Giants, Water Giants, indeed!

Tremendous wildfires rage out West. These cover large areas and destroy woodlands and homes. Fire Giants are not just characters like Surt in Norse myth. The Fire Giants of our world engulf entire regions in flame, leaving devastation and death in their wake.

We have seen other giants. The news talked of another tsunami hitting an island of Indonesia. It engulfed coastal towns. A few years back, there were tremendous and destructive tsunamis that hit Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. They are like ferocious Sea Giants gobbling up everything on the coastline.

Earthquakes are also gigantic in scope. In our lifetime, we have seen widespread destruction in California, the Philippines, Chile and Mexico. The earthquakes are reminiscent of tantrum-throwing giants living underground. And let us not forget volcanoes, whose power to destroy is horrifying. These are like folkloric Fire Giants that live underground, belching smoke and fire and hot pyroclastic ash. In recent years, volcanoes have cause havoc in Iceland and the Philippines. A memorable gigantic even was the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State a few decades ago.

Other Giant events are the windstorms in the deserts, noreasters along the upper Atlantic coast and rogue waves in the North Sea.

The mythic Jotuns do not seem so far-fetched when we look at the gigantic weather and seismic events that wreak havoc in our world today.

At times, it would seem there are giants within us. Our own emotions and feelings can overwhelm us. These are the ones that make us lose control and do things we might regret later. A common one is rage. Anger can overwhelm reason enough that we may say or do things we might not normally do. There are people who are usually peaceful. It surprises us when, in a fit of rage, they become bombastic and even violent. How many people have come to grief for things they said or did under the influence of unbridled anger? Rage can be like a Fire Giant run amok inside oneself.

Lust can be as devastating. One can let libido dominate all reason and good sense. Many have come to grief by doing so. This is a Fire Giant of another stripe. Libido led by good sense leads to good ends. When libido overwhelms reason, that Fire Giant burns up every one it touches. More than a few reputations have been lost and relationships ruined when lust is allowed to reach such gigantic proportions.

Fear is an emotion that can cripple lives if given free reign. It is the cruelest giant emotion of all, for it shackles people with invisible chains. Fear holds people back from things that would benefit them. It keeps them in places where they do not belong. Among the most insidious fears are the fear of failure and the fear or making a mistake. Fear of failure has killed many an enterprise before it even began. Fear of making mistakes has held people from expressing their true potential. What may seem a failure is more often a stepping stone to success. Within a mistake may be a priceless lesson for the future. The Fear Giant can be massively intimidating and deceptively cunning.

Guilt has hamstrung many a person. Many have suffered needlessly through the Guilt Giant that haunts them. Many have denied themselves the goodness of Life out of some feeling of unworthiness borne of guilt. I have noticed that in many cases, the guilt one suffers is over some minor error of the past. Guilt lets a small event from long ago hold sway in the present and, if unchecked, the future. Whether the cause is small or large, guilt needs to be addressed and put in perspective. Otherwise, it can cripple a Life as much as fear. The Giant of Guilt magnifies your regret into an all-encompassing sense of worthlessness.

Giant events, giant emotions. Our mythic Jotuns are no mere abstractions when we look at the massive forces and overwhelming attitudes in our world and ourselves. And just as there is a hero to confront each of the myths Giants, so we find the means to deal with their worldly and emotional counterparts. As big as they are, we need to outsmart, outwit, outmaneuver and overcome them. Perhaps we may find some of our answers as allegories in the old lore. Maybe we need to approach some Giant problems with new solutions. Whatever the case, good thinking and reasoned responses help us face our real-world giants just as they gave mythic heroes the means to overcome the Giants of legend.

13
Sep

No Time for Losers

Some of the best songs tell a story. Jim Croce and Harry Chapin were masters of storytelling songs. Most groups have at least one or two songs that tel la story. Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” reminds me of the self-sabotaging people I have seen over the years. It is amazing to see someone throw away every good thing in their lives, only to end up in Nidhogg’s Den (the fate of self-made losers). That song came up tonight while I was listening to some tunes on Youtube.

Right now, I am in the fight of my life. I have not been this bad since the season before I had surgery in `14. The doctors are working on it, but the final battle is all mine. Where there is life, there is hope. When I think of those who have sabotaged themselves, I wonder how they could give up on themselves. So here I am, striving against fate, and wondering why people in much better shape just let Life trample them like a bulldozer.

I have seen my own “rat’s eye view of Hell.” Of my old crew, I am one of the last two or three standing. You name it, I’ve faced it these past 60+ years. Poverty, ill health, loss, betrayal… So what? Chances are that you had your ow nrat’s eye view of Hell. There is no giving up. Think of it as being like the papier-mache Japanese Daruma doll. Every time they roll the doll, it always ends upright. There is a lesson to it: “Fall down seven times, rise up eight.”

Makes sense to me.

One of the most pathetic creatures is a former classmate who gave up about 40 years ago. He had all kinds of friends who wanted to help. The man got knocked down by Life and chose to stay down. Every attempt to help him was rebuffed.

The last I saw him in person, he was a park bum waiting for the local tavern to open. That was around 1988. Last I heard about him was in a 2012 article on indigents. There he was, photographed beside his little shanty made of used plywood and pieces of tarpaper. He is my example of those who choose to stay down rather than rise one more time.

When Life knocks you down, rise. Strive against fate. Never give up. You will make yourself a much better fate than if you decided to stay down like a whipped puppy. Life is too precious to waste wallowing in one’s own mistakes.

When Life hits you seven times, rise up eight!

17
Aug

I am Independent

I am neither Liberal nor Conservative

I am neither Folkish nor Universalist.

I am Independent.

I make my own choices and decisions free of outside influence.

I am not connected to, and do not endorse or support any religious organization, Heathen or otherwise.

By the same token, I refuse to start an organization.

The goal is to empower people, not make followers of them.

I do not judge you and I do not require that you conform to my beliefs.

15
Aug

Catholic Church Abuse Scandal in Pennsylvania

What can I say about this? 301 predator priests and a cover-up stretching over 70 years in Pennsylvania. Over 1,000 youthful victims. Maybe thousands.That appalls me. This church has been repeatedly exposed as a source of abuse and of cover-ups. I guess when their God said, “Suffer the children to come unto me,” he meant it. Suffering children. There are institutionalized cover-ups of sex abuse in the States. Institutionalized cover-ups of brutality in Ireland. Suffer the children, indeed!

Equally appalling is that there was a “playbook” for covering up these sordid crimes. One major “rule” was “Don’t tell the police.”

It is predatory. For an institution that claims its God is “love”, there is no shortage of unlovely behavior. People who use a position of trust to victimize others are reprehensible, and triply so when the victims are children.

This is not limited to Pennsylvania. The situation in Pennsylvania was exposed because a grand jury and the Pennsylvania attorney general did their job. You can be sure that things have been equally bad in other states, not to mention other countries. And now other states will begin their own investigations.

Their scripture says, “By their fruit, you will know them.” Well, there it is. It is not what they say, but what they do. And this heritage of abuse and concealment speaks far louder than any excuses they might make.

*******

Here is a tale of a former classmate who wanted to be a priest. I looked him up on the net a while back and found another tale of priestly misdeeds.

http://thortrains.net/blog/2018/02/28/father-fraud-cautionary-tale/

*******

Incidents like this make me doubly glad that I am one of Thor and Odin’s people.

19
Jul

Appreciation by Contrast

Other beliefs need not challenge our own. Other beliefs can reveal our own by reflection. We can read books about other forms of spirituality without fear of diminishing our own. The trick is to not expect their ideas to match ours. If a few of them do match ,well, no problem. And when they don’t, again, no problem. Comparison, contrast and counterpoint with our way helps us come to a great appreciation and consciousness of our beliefs.

Many religious writings have wisdom, but it is not necessarily our wisdom. Some have more of it than others. The contrast in how they perceive and understand spirituality will, by reflection, make perception and understanding or our own spirituality clearer.

Granted, the differences can be stark. For example: our definition of a God may be light years apart from that of other sects, so as to be another thing entirely. You have to look beyond the word to read the meaning because religions use similar words to express very different things.

Do not be concerned about the challenge of other theologies. In fact, they are no challenge at all.

13
Jul

Requiem for an Imp

I won’t even mention her name.

She was a person who seemed to have a love affair with bad luck. It began in her childhood and haunted her, at least as long as I knew her. The last I saw of the woman was around 1990. At that time, we were not on cordial terms.

She went through my life like a tornado back in the late 80s. She did that to several people. To show her kindness was an invitation to disaster. Her path was marked by the wreckage of her betrayals.

I just learned a few disturbing facts. We knew each other when we lived in another city far from here. As things turned out, she somehow ended up in this town toward the end of her life. Our paths never crossed here. I don’t know how long she was here or under what circumstances. I got the impression it was some kind of assisted living for people with certain illnesses. What they were, I have no idea.

The woman was listed under both her married and maiden name, though she had been divorced since the 80s. From the little information on the Internet, she died of a brief illness at the age of 57. There was a short obituary.

The obituary mentioned her siblings and parents by name, but did not name her children.

As mentioned previously, she had a love affair with bad luck. The woman knew how to sabotage a good situation and blame others for the debacle. She never counted the consequences of that kind of living. Such is a lonely existence. Under those circumstances, friendships are temporary alliances that eventually turn to hostilities.

It is hard to develop character in oneself when one’s youthful existence had been one of dysfunction and chaos. It is hard to escape the bad patterns of life when one gravitates to the people and circumstances that perpetuate the misery. Even when befriending better people, she always chose to return to the self-made unfortunates.

Despite it all, I sincerely hope that she was surrounded by people who cared at the end.

There is no moral ot this story, just a remembrance of one left behind a long time ago. She was simply someone who appeared in my life like a passing comet that quickly faded into obscurity. The most memorable thing about her is the damage she did to herself, her family, and any who chose to befriend her.

26
Jun

No Time to Hate

Be Aware

In these times, many people harshly judge others who disagree with them, especially in matters of politics. The vitriolic rhetoric and outright hatred are disheartening. People think that because of a difference in opinion, they are justified in spewing hatred. This comes from all sides.

But not from me.

I do not think less of you for how you voted at any time.

I do not think less of you for where you stand on issues ranging from trade wars to immigration to people’s rights.

I do not think less of you for your personal beliefs.

I do not demand that you explain to me why you voted as you did, why you believe as you do, or why you stand on issues as you do. I expect you to extend me the same courtesy. If you are my friend, I expect you will respect my choices as I have respected yours.

I will think less of you when you treat others unfairly because of their beliefs, choices, political preferences, etc.

By the way, when you express hatred for those who voted for Trump, you express hatred for me. I made a choice of the candidate I thought best and voted accordingly, as I always do. That is the American way. I don’t think ill of those who voted for Hilary because I assume they felt she was their best choice. Unlike most people, I am not bamboozled by politicians. All of them are a mixed bag of good and bad. The best candidate has more that I feel is good than he does the bad.

Having a difference of opinion is NEVER justification for mistreating others. It is NEVER cause for treating others unfairly. Shame on you if your HATRED and hateful actions and words define you. And that goes for all sides.

Things are pretty sick when a member of Congress is exhorting people to mistreat others because of their political preference. We have gone from Freedom of Speech to Freedom to Act Like Jerks.

21
Jun

Fundraiser for American Legion Post 54, Freehold

American Legion Post 54 is celebrating its Centennial next year. (1919 – 2019) We are one of the oldest posts in the country. Several events are being planned. As a fund raiser, we are selling certificates to get a professional car wash at Freehold Raceway Car Wash in Freehold Township. I have several of these tickets. You get exterior wash, wheels & tires cleaned, interior vacuum, dash dusted, windows inside and out, towel dry. If you are in the Freehold area and would like to support us and get a great car wash, contact me. Tickets are $19 each.

Thanks in advance!

American Legion Post 54 Fundraiser - Car Wash!

15
Jun

Celebrity Suicides: A Missed Lesson

The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade made big headlines. They were followed by a spate of televised memorials. Now the dust is settling and everyone is about to go back to normal. Bourdain and Spade are slipping into memory as people focus on the latest bit of popular news.

I wrote an article about this:

http://thortrains.net/blog/2018/06/08/anthony-bourdain-and-the-monster-that-causes-suicide/

Celebrity suicide is not the latest news tidbit. It is not a time for morbid memorials or a chance to rerun the victims’ old TV shows. Celebrity suicide is a reminder that this monster can strike anyone, anywhere, any time regardless of fame, popularity, wealth or prestige. In other words, it is a time for us to consider the whole problem and how it affects the people in our own individual worlds. Just as opiate / opioid addiction is a scourge of this time, so suicide is a growing menace. It affects the famous and it affects folks close to home.

For years, suicide was something that was swept under the carpet. People did not discuss it. Suicide was an unforgivable sin. People might pass it off as a “shooting accident” or an accidental overdose. The real issue was “hush-hush”. It was discussed in whispers.

A suicide brings feelings of shame on the survivors.*

“Why did he do this to me? What did I do wrong? How did I fail him? Why couldn’t he talk to me? Why didn’t I recognize the signs? How could I have not seen what was coming?” Thoughts like this haunted survivors then as now.

The truth is that suicide, like addiction and other woes, thrives in silence. By not acknowledging it and discussing it, we allow it to thrive with impunity. Like addiction, alcoholism and many other woes, suicide loses some of its venom when we look at it and acknowledge that it is there.

An old Irish saying comes to the fore: ‘Better a Devil you can see than one that you can’t.”

The general public is dropping the ball on suicide as the memory of the recent celebrity suicides fade. The subject falls away while the public follows the next big thing. What is needed is to make suicide a subject of discussion and put it under the light. We need to acknowledge it, see it, and admit that this is a thriving monster. Only then can we implement solutions that will minimize it and take away some of its power.

A problem can only be solved once it is acknowledged. Ignoring or hush-hushing a problem does not make it go away. To the contrary, it allows the problem to rage without anything to slow or stop it.

22 veterans die of suicide every day, so they say. We need to discuss it and the problems that can lead to it, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). People other than veterans also commit suicide. We need to discuss the other causes, such as Depression, Despair, Mental Illness, Alcoholism and Addiction. The biggest step in defeating suicide is to put the monster out in the open where we can see it, examine it and talk about it.

Denial – the tendency to ignore a fact – feeds human woes, We cannot say “It won’t happen here,” or “He’s just seeking attention,” or some other excuse. Denying there is a problem allows that problem to run rampant without any opposition.

Here is an concrete example to explain denial: In 1941, the Army had an experimental radar station on Hawaii. It shut down at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. One Sunday before shut-down ,the radar detected a large signal. The radar men contacted their commander to report the sighting.

The commander pooh-poohed it. “It’s just a flock or birds, or maybe that formation of Army planes scheduled to land here today,” he said. “Shut it down.”

The sighting was neither birds nor Army Air Corps aircraft. The day was December 7th, 1941, and the object was the fleet of Japanese aircraft coming to attack Pearl Harbor. By not investigating, the officer let the Japanese attack unannounced. His belief that it was birds or Allied planes is like Denial. It did not change the fact that something bad was on the way.

I do not know the nuances of suicide. All I know to do, if confronted by a suicidal individual, is to call for help, and then stay there and try to talk him down until help arrives. What I know is to take it seriously and take action. Consider tackling suicide in the context of a quote from the Havamal: “When one does you wrong. let the wrong be known and fall upon him.”

When suicide or any other monster rears its ugly head, say something and take action. Maybe you don’t have the solution, but you can be sure there is somebody that does. Like a stroke or heart attack, a potential suicide requires quick action. There can be no hesitation.

It is too late for Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Let their example on the international stage prompt action on the local front. Suicide is a real problem and it is not fading away. We can become aware locally and perhaps have the opportunity to prevent suicides close to home. This is a serious menace and any one of us might be on the front line when an acquaintance, friend or relative starts down that road to suicide.

You can save a life. It all starts with awareness.

*******

*Ironically, in Japanese culture, suicide can be an act of honor under certain occasions.

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