Category Archives: The Heathen Gods

Ending the Summer of 2011

Having got into a rhythm of life again after settling down and squaring myself away, I found myself once again at the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, just like last year and the year before that.

Once again the Kansas City Kendo Club was hosted by the Japan-America Society, of which I am involved with both organizations. The 2010 report linked above does a fairly thorough job describing what this event is like, so I won’t repeat any of those details here. I will say again, however, what an awesome festival this is, and I can’t recommend it enough. For the kendo demo we had so many people that we filled the entire length of the stage. All those people also meant that I spent that much more time on my knees (and my very bad knee, which still needs surgery) and the stage they set up at this event is as hard as any I’ve ever knelt on. The pain in my knee, combined with the near full muscle exhaustion in my buttocks from kneeling in a raised position to keep stress off the knee, occupied my mind so much that when it was my turn to stand up and demonstrate a waza I forgot that I hadn’t put my kote on. Drakey sensei had intended us to show how to hit the kote, of course, but he didn’t call attention to my error. Good guy that he is he allowed me to maintain face in front of the audience, and since my partner in this had no armor it worked seamlessly into a demo of how guys without armor can participate in practice. I didn’t even realize it until my second time to get up I almost stepped on the kote, stopping to put them on for a one ippon match against Shane.

So all that went down fairly well. I had somewhere else to be that day, so I didn’t get to stick around and sample all the delicious food that they have there. I also heard the rumor that this would be our last kendo demo at the festival, at leas for a bit. Each country only gets one cultural demonstration, and we’ve been doing this a long while. The Olathe Ki Daiko group, shown here in this video from 2008, often demo at the same Japanese cultural events that KC Kendo does, and are who is rumored to be taking the Japan spot over from us. They are always a popular group with audiences, and I always enjoy watching them myself. If you read this before the 24th of September you should head over to the annual Greater Kansas City Japan Festival at Johnson County Community College and catch one of their concerts or workshops. Or for any of the other good reasons to go to the GKC J-Fest, which are many and varied.

Pictured above is my first practice of the semester with the KU Kendo/Kumdo Club. Though my knee makes it very difficult to practice sometimes, I look forward to another year. Participating in club life at KU has helped make my school experience a great one. Out of the several clubs I was interested in and tried out, the strain on my time has forced me to accept that the kendo club is my only real club. While I look forward to graduating, I know I will miss the KU club (though I could still participate as a guest, and probably will from time to time).

This is my son Donovan, of whom I am very proud. He is a member of the Leavenworth JROTC Pioneer Battalion, and this was taken after the obstacle course event for their Organization Day inter-company competitions, of which I have some pictures on Facebook. That event was really fun, and everyone was exhausted at the end of the day. They started off with a dodge ball competition, and the winners faced the parents and cadre in a fun game that ended in a bench clearing free-for-all game. All the kids were really enthusiastic and everyone looked like they were having a great time. This is the sort of thing that makes all the diapers, thrown food, tantrums, and other frustrating child rearing experiences worth it, this sudden moment when you realize that your little boyo isn’t so little anymore, but has been replaced by a fine young man. Good stuff.

This is Drífa and Tomo, my feline companions. They are all tuckered out from rampaging through the house and wrecking anything not screwed to the wall or hidden behind a closed door. Included here because, hey, I like them.

So that’s a summary of what it’s like to end the Summer and start the Fall around here.

Life is good.

Reviresco!

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Filed under Budo, Event, Family, Kendo, Learning, Personal Reflection, Right Living, The Heathen Gods, University of Kansas

Going Home

I wrote this in 2009 for Midsummer to pay shyld to Odin for a Winternight’s oath gone wrong. Let’s hope that the Old Man liked it.

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Wandering along the way
I stopped to think.
I had come this way before,
Though no nearer my father’s hearth,

When familiar symmetry I saw.
Considering the crisscrossed path
And standing back, recognized
That I overlooked before:

I had trod upon the path
From one to another short side,
Neither looking left nor right,
Unheeding the familiar.

Written in the sweat and blood,
Carved in the heart of experience,
My old man taught me to read
By throwing me in the deep end,

And I followed the signs home.

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Filed under Faith, Right Living, Stories & Poems, The Heathen Gods

The Sky Wyrm

This is a short story/poem/thing that I wrote for the Kansas City Heathen pubmoot last May. When I started writing it I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, but I had a theme and a format in mind and just went with it, inspired directly by the same tornado weather in Leavenworth that hit Joplin, MO so hard. I read it aloud to a Heathen audience in the form of its first draft, still unsure what the final thing was going to be, so that’s how I present it here. It suffers some punctuation issues, but at the time it was the least of my worries. I had promised to bring original material to read, so I went with it. Conceptually it touches on a couple of Heathen ethics: garth, kith/kinship, personal responsibility that sort of thing. I later hit upon the idea of making an Asatru children’s book, probably a PDF type thing to download from this website and distributed among friends. We’ll see where that goes, but in the meantime here is the original form:

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Mother! There was a stranger on the road,
Who cast a wary glance behind
And clasped his hands to pray for deliverance
For a Sky Wyrm he witnessed
Destroying his home and he fled
Warning all of its approach
weeping for his loss.

A stranger you say? Upon the road
leaving behind him everything
bidding you pray to the gods for deliverance
from a disastrous thurse, and weeping.
Did you see the dark tail whirling?
Did you feel the wind blowing?
Did you hear the gusty howling?

Mother I saw with my own eyes,
following his wary, fearful look
while he prayed to the gods and ran
Saw the dark tail whirling,
felt the wind begin to blow,
heard its gusty howling.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Your father you know, is out in the fields
his weary eye turned to work
laboring to feed and clothe us
Bring him word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter.
Your hands grasp his and his work
and bid him take shelter.

Mother I brought him word
lifted his weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside his and ready
prepared him for the Sky Wyrm.
He is heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our tenant, you know, is out in the wood
her weary eye turned to work
my true friend she is and constant
Bring her word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter
Your hands grasp hers and her work
and bid her take shelter.

Mother I brought her word
lifted her weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside hers and ready
prepared her for the Sky Wyrm.
She is heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our neighbors, you know, are at the market
their weary eyes turned to work
buying and trading and crafting
the goods of the whole community.
Bring them word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter
Your hands grasp theirs and their work.

Mother I brought them word
lifted their weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside theirs and ready
prepared them for the Sky Wyrm.
They are heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our kin are heading for shelter,
Our kith are readied for trouble,
Our community is prepared for danger,
Let us see to ourselves, then,
now we are home and sheltered
grasp our work to make ready
and endure the wrath of the Sky Wyrm.

Mother the Wyrm has passed
the sky is clear and calm
though our alarm was great
the dark tail whipped the field
the wind ravaged the wood
the gusty howl scolded the market.
Shall we pray to the gods for our deliverance?

Your father has gone to the fields
to slaughter a beast for the fire,
And our tenant to fetch a casket of mead.
Our neighbors have gone to the market
to bring fruits and vegetables.
With your hands prepare our hall to receive them
to celebrate with the gods among us.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Folk, Right Living, Stories & Poems, The Heathen Gods

Site Revisions & Whatnot

I think I’ve got this new look figured out. WordPress changed my theme on me a while back, and it turns out the theme they changed me to was a revision of my old one. I’ve got a lot more options available to me now, and I also understand a bit more about how to do all this. So I’ve taken the opportunity to overhaul RA.

The tagline of RA is “Budo, The Heathen Gods, and Right Living”. This reflects the breakdown of my beliefs as to what leads to a positive life. The categories reflect this understanding now, with sub-categories falling under one of these three main ideas. The pages have been reorganized as well, partly to reflect this. It’s a bit gimmicky, but the pages are now themed after rooms of a house. I’ve sat here for a few minutes trying to justify this in some cool, intellectual way, but the end result is that I just like it so that’s what I did.

I have removed the sidebar and migrated some of the information found there to the footer. Things like the blogroll may end up on the Veranda page, I haven’t decided yet. But the biggest difference is that this means the feature area is now much wider. I did this to accommodate the comics and stuff I draw (when I actually do draw them), as 500 pixels wide was kind of cramping my style. And if you’ve read Iron Lawyers of Mars you know that my style needs all the help it can get. So there is that, but the upshot is that some of my old posts will be wonky because they were formatted for the old width. I may get around to fixing them, but probably not. Just redoing all the categories on the posts is proving tedious, boring and “I don’t want to do it”. I’ve currently got half of the posts re-categorized, and I’m working from the oldest to the newest.

Along the lines of redoing the categories based on these three “pillars”, I’ve also decided to add a more dedicated direction to each of the three of them. This website started out as a sort of “productivity” blog (or whatever, I’m really not sure), but sort of moved toward being useful for my hobbies while having random posts about the other two themes here and there. I always meant to do more Asatru stuff here, but it’s taken me this long to get around to organizing it effectively. I really wasn’t sure how I wanted to do it, but now I have it figured out.

What I’m going to do it this: I am going to keep the Ve & Stalli page as an organizer area, and when I write an essay (not just an event post) about Asatru related things I’m going to link it there. So that page will serve as a sort of table of contents for pertinent things I put in the blog. I have a project in mind to cull some of my forum posts from here and there throughout the years and work them into essays, and then publish and organize them here. So over time this site, or at least the area on the site set aside for it, will become a sort of library of my take on Heathenry. My agenda for that has always been to show a modern, moderate side to Heathenry, a positive face to demystify it for curious outsiders, and possibly to engage with other Asatruar similar to myself.

Similar idea for the Budo aspect. I have less to say about Budo that may be controversial, though. But it’s important to me, so I figured that I should do something with it here. Also, I’m planning on going back to the Kansas City club this evening. I think the weather is nice enough!

Reviresco!

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Filed under Budo, Right Living, The Heathen Gods

K.C. Ethnic Enrichment Festival 2010

Sunday, 22Aug10, I returned to the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, to participate and enjoy myself like I did last year. Friday there had been a gully washer of a storm, but by Sunday it was a typical August day. I got there a little bit early, right before the booths were to officially open, and then helped out the Japan-America Society, a group I’m a member with but don’t have the time to go to a lot of meetings of, by stamping children’s “passports” for a short while.

Kendo folk started filtering in, and before I knew it we were lined up behind the stage ready to go. There were about half again as many kendoka participating in the demo this year, from rank beginner up to san-dan, and new-to-bogu to bogu-for-years, so it was a good mix for demo purposes. The number of people participating also meant more time stressing my torn ACL sitting on my knees. I ended up pulling off my knee brace and standing. For my part in the demo I demonstrated kote-men strikes, then sparred with Brian for a bit.

It seemed to go pretty quickly this year, and I believe we were well received by the audience.

After that I dumped my gear at the JAS booth and then headed out for some food. I wasn’t all that hungry, unfortunately, so I didn’t eat as much as last year. But I got some Scandinavian pancake balls (which I had last year) and a Hebrew sampler plate (which I didn’t), and was satisfied with the variety and quality of what I did eat.

Last year my pictures were smaller and more or less limited to the kendo club, so this year I’m going to post some more general pictures of the festival so that readers who’ve never been can get an idea of what it’s like:

The pavilion at Swope Park. This is the center of the festival and where the demonstration stage is set up.

Here were some Thai children, I believe, modeling some traditional costumes or doing a dance. Actually what was really going on was a parent was chasing a small child around the stage, who apparently didn’t really feel like being a celebrity that day.

My first stop after the demo was, of course, the pancake ball distributor. You can find some information on the Sons of Norway at their website, if you’re interested in such things.

These things take forever to make (if you’re waiting in line on a hot summer day), and they’re basically spheroid funnel cake type stuff, and maybe overpriced for what you get, but I recommend stopping by and getting a three pack of them. Raspberry sugar drink optional.

These sorts of cultural events are interesting for the way people come out to represent their folk or native land. Note that these aren’t “Laotians”, they are “the Hmong of Laos”. In the 1960s the CIA recruited Hmong tribes in the forests and mountains to fight against the communist government, as a sort of side action to the backdrop of the Vietnam War. And since we all know how American adventures in 1960s South East Asia ended up, this explains why this group is both here and pointing out the difference to an American public who otherwise isn’t likely to know. Remember, this is an ethnic festival, not a state festival.

Which of course doesn’t stop nationalist concerns from being present. Above is the Republic of China representatives. Known more commonly in the States as Taiwan, the ROC is more or less the last vestiges of the holdouts of the nationalists who fought against the communists, retreating from the mainland and holing up on the island province of Taiwan. There’s all sorts of interesting historical and political things going on here, but I won’t go further in depth.

A comfortable distance away was the Society for Friendship with China, representing the mainland People’s Republic of China. Largely Chinese people are ethnic Han (over 90% for both the PRC and the ROC), so what we’ve got here is basically one ethnicity with two booths split along state lines. Though it should be noted that there are scads of ethnic groups that comprise the idea of “Chinese”, the Han group is super dominant culturally, politically and, increasingly, linguistically.

The Scotland booth is disappointing unless you want to buy some meaty dinner. At least it is by Sunday, because I suppose it could be rocking on Fridays and Saturdays. For the enthnicities of the Isles, Scotland and Ireland were represented, but I did not see England or Wales there. Or any Manx or Cornish folk, either, but that’s to be expected, I guess.

Germany: blonde girls and sausages. Enough said.

Samoans were there representing. There were other Pacific island ethnic groups too, but the Samoans had the best application of thatching, so that’s the picture I kept.

And the Lithuanians brought their own castle! Close by, the Thai folk had an equally impressive construction for their booth, but the pictures didn’t turn out.

Jamaica, launching pad for some of the best dance music beats ever! Not into spicy food, though, so I didn’t see the reason to stand in what was the festival’s longest food line.

Probably the best food deal at the festival is the Israeli food sampler. I couldn’t tell you what it was I ate, but all of it was very good.

To finish off back where I started, here is the mighty torii of the JAS booth, along with the bloody great wind-sock that towers over the festival booths.

The Japanese are one of the ethnic groups that really have their stuff together when it comes to promoting themselves. The JAS always has a great variety of wares to purchase ranging from pop culture to traditional, an array of literature available on things like the JET Program, delicious food to eat and friendly people to chat with.

I don’t have pictures this year of the actual demo, but really, just look at last year’s. This year I took just a couple of “behind the scenes” photos of the kendo club after the demo. The JAS, of which several of the club including myself are members of, are always very good to the kendoka.

And some more milling around; chatting and putting away our gear, getting ready to wander the festival with our friends and families.

And finally there were these things. The festival is sponsored by a local communications service provider, so they had these weird cyborg beings rolling around the festival proffering terminals you could use to… I don’t know, really. They made me nervous, and this was as close as I would get to photograph one. You don’t want to antagonize cyborgs, because being part-human they have a natural blood-lust that you don’t want to accidentally awaken.

That’s all! I strongly encourage everyone who lives in the Greater Metro to go to one of these festivals, either as an attendant or as a volunteer for the cultural group of your choice. It’s a fun experience!

Reviresco!

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Filed under Budo, Event, Folk, Kendo, Learning, Right Living, The Heathen Gods