In Flanders Fields…

poppy2-300x200There is a level of suffering in the world that…I have trouble even wrapping my mind around. it devastates and mars our very humanity. It makes me ashamed to be human at times. My adopted mom used to talk about this–she felt the suffering of the world so intensely and I never understood. Lately, I understand exactly what she meant.

November is a month for remembrance for me. I ‘ve begun early this year, as I’ve been sensing the military dead so very strongly. This year is particularly special – the 100th anniversary of WWI. For the next four years we will be living in the shadow of those who fought and those who died. Each year, I begin my November period of remembrance with one of the most famous war-poems to come out of the Great War. I’ll be posting others as the month goes on.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

bruges-flanders-fields

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on October 29, 2014, in Ancestor Work, Ancestors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I have been following your work for sometime, and am moved by your honor to the military dead. My maternal grandfather, Marine, veteran of WWII Pacific campaign, and again in the Korean war, a prisoner in Japanese and Korean camps after the taking of Guam, and someone who never spoke about any of this to his daughters, has become strong in my ancestral court.

    For one thing a chance comment he made during a family dinner when I was 13 somehow corrected many deeply troubling feelings I was having in the early process of realizing I was homosexual. Strangely enough we were living in Budapest at the time, a long story which unfolds many other threads. This was maybe 1992, and the subject of homosexuals serving in the military was just beginning to be breached. He said in characteristic candor “I don’t know what the hub-bub is about gays in the military… there’s ALWAYS been a little frigging in the rigging..!”

    For another while we were moving them out of their house when he began to exhibit heavy symptoms of Alzheimers we found his journals from the prison camp. Day-by-day descriptions of life in the prison camps, along with a separate journal of recipes collected from all of his fellow soldiers of their regional comfort food (!), including intricate pencil drawings of instructions on “How to butcher a cow Chicago style”. Hidden but obviously intended to be found.

    I own some netsuke of his, as he became on obsessive collector of Japanese art after the war. (Can you explain this??). They rest on the cabinet containing the relics of my blood ancestors as guardians. There is more I could say here, perhaps privately.

    In honor of your sacrifices next month for their honor I felt called to write this out for my grandfather, one of many warriors in my ancestral lines. He is a great strength to me.

    My house honors artistic ancestors, as we are a venue for experimental music and performance. Sometimes well-disguised public ritual. Many of the Dionysian Dead are there. But your honor of fallen warriors of all conflicts is honored and joined by me and mine. Truly the lessons given by honor of the dead have such profound impact on so many levels of analysis upon the current state of the world and our behaviors in relation to it. It is constantly humbling. A virtue honored by my both of my grandfathers, who were bold and humble men, in turn.

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  2. I am so moved by your comment. Thank you for sharing the story of your grandfather. The Pacific campaign was so incredibly brutal. That’s not to say that the European campaign wasn’t, but there seems to be a personal savagery and brutality, an individual calculated cruelty with the way POWs were treated in the Pacific. I’m not surprised he never spoke of it (my dad was in the european theatre and never spoke of that either): the last thing he’d likely have wanted to do was bring the horrors in his memory home to those he was fighting to protect.

    “frigging in the rigging.” lol. what an apt way to put it. I think I would have liked your grandfather quite a bit. 🙂

    I can’t explain the netsuke. Japan wasn’t that far away from their bushido past, indeed a corruption of that code led to their savagery in the war. I’ve often thought that Pearl Harbor was payback in some way for the destruction and forced westernization of their culture in the late nineteenth century. It may be that, as I do, your grandfather found much to admire and respect in the remnants of their warrior code and way of life. Plus netsuke are cool!

    i am glad that you wrote about your grandfather here and if you wish to email me privately, I would very much like to hear more of his story. (krasskova at gmail.com). May he ever be well honored.

    It saddens me immensely that in another decade or so we will be living in a world where there are no more veterans of WWII. I will grieve when the last living repository of that war, a war that transformed our world for better or worse, passes into memory.

    Btw, I also honor artistic ancestors. I was a ballet dancer professionally until I was 23, when I retired due to injury. I keep ballet dancers who inspired me on my shrine, as well as the operatic castrati, and certain poets (including WWI poet Wilfred Owen). I’m a poet and I have a great grandmother who was an opera singer. It seems right.

    May all your dead be honored.

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  3. Interestingly, this is a poem that I had to recite to a few classes when I was in the 8th grade. In our Honors English class, we were assigned in pairs to read this poem, and another one (that is more anti-war) to various classes on Veteran’s Day. I’m kind of glad I got this one, because it was a lot more reverent, not to mention better-written, than the other one.

    I’m going to be doing some elevating of my ancestors soon, and the first pair who will be getting that is my maternal grandparents, who met because of WWII. Grandpa and my Great Uncle Ron were in the Navy together in the Pacific, and became good friends; grandpa then wanted to send some uniforms back to the U.S., but he didn’t have an address there at the time, so Uncle Ron told him to send them to his sister (my Grandmother). They then started exchanging letters, fell in love, and when he came back, they met a few times in person and then got married! She always said she was going to write a book about that, but never did; but, one of my cousins had their correspondence and wrote it up, which I have not been able to get a hold of yet…

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