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Random Thoughts on Evil

I was studying last night and came across an interview with another theologian on the topic of evil. The interview was quite good (because of course I listened to it – it was relevant to what I was reading) despite the difference in our theologies. I was taken aback though when he discussed four of the main ways one can tell if someone is influenced or aligned with evil. I was taken aback because A) I agree 110% with him and have for years and B) I’ve seen every one of these things –pandemically—within our communities (actually, within society at large, which, of course, bleeds into our communities). I’ll get to those four points in a moment. I realize that no one likes to consider evil as a force that might assault us, but I firmly believe it exists, (in addition to the evil we choose to do). Of course, I also believe that such external evil only has the openings we choose to give it, so with the protection and grace of our Gods, a little mindfulness and common sense, prayer, and a willingness to cultivate virtue, we can be just fine. 

I have no idea where evil comes from. Is it a byproduct of creation? After all, creation is an act of ordering materiality. It is a driving back of entropy, of nothingness. It is a shaking off of that which does not serve that purpose. That implies a certain sentience in the created material itself…or maybe I’m pushing the thought too far.  Is it something that we create by our poor choices and vicious actions, droppings we spew of hatred, cruelty, fear, jealousy, and malice (we can be a terribly inhumane species)? Is it an extant force fought by the Gods (For the record, I don’t think the Jotnar are evil at all. They are part of the created order)? I don’t know but as I move toward having to teach a class in theodicy (the question of why evil exists), I find myself pondering this question more and more. Personally, I tend to answer yes to all of the above but that is based more on my personal experience than any theological or philosophical treatise. 

I’m getting off track though. Here were the four points from the interview: 

  1. A person believes s/he can do whatever s/he wishes. 
  2. A person believes no One can command him/her.  
  3. A person believes s/he is his/her own God.
  4. Deep hostility and aversion to the sacred.

I actually look at number 4 as key evidence that someone is unhealthy and potentially under diabolical (in as much as we can use that word) influence. It’s the one constant that I have seen wherever evil spirits, bottom feeding trash spirits, and other such garbage have gained purchase. It’s a sign I watch for in myself and since I do spirit work, and often have to clean up spiritual pollution, I submit myself to evaluation to at least one other spirit worker regularly. Am I clean? When the Enemy—that which has no name, which stands against all the Gods have created, the true opponent at Ragnarok– whispers in my ears the most impious things when I pray, have I allowed any of that to gain purchase in my heart, mind, or soul? If I have, let’s get it out, just like weeding a garden. By the way, if that happens, just keep praying. In fact, pray louder. If you’re praying extempore, report this to the Gods – literally tell Them that something nasty is whispering impieties in your ear.  Bring it to Their attention. Give these things nowhere to hide in your mind. Don’t take that which is not yours to carry. If you’re using formal prayers, and this happens, offer an apology to the Gods and just keep going. Don’t let it distract you. Pray as though your life depended on it. That which seeks to distract is unimportant. It is, as we’d say in the south: “trifling.”

However overwhelming and powerful these evil spirits may feel, speaking outloud, hearing your voice speak the bullshit they’re trying to feed you, to implant in your mind, having your Gods right behind you, all of this reveals the evil lies for what they are and strips these creatures of their power. There is no need to feel shame. Instead, go right to your Gods in heart and mind and report them. Do not permit them to become so internalized that you take on the nefarious things that they’re whispering, that they’re trying to make you think are coming from you. Stand tall and proud, like a pillar of iron, and call upon your Gods and know that They are there. However bad you think it is, our Gods have heard it all and They will carry our burdens with us and stand with us in any dark place we need to walk. There is no place so dark that They do not know the way through, and They will sustain us through it.

Now, there are normal thoughts too that can interfere when we pray or meditate, normal things like “oh, my nose itches.” Or “I forgot to book that appointment.” Etc. This is going to happen. Don’t panic. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad polytheist.  Also, more positively, it’s normal for regular thoughts to sort of float through your mind when you’re trying to focus. Don’t worry. Just let them go. It’s a perfectly normal thing that happens to nearly everyone. Note those thoughts, let them pass, and return to prayer. 

I think one of the biggest fracture lines in our theological understanding in our communities centers around #1. There is a cosmic hierarchy and, despite what modernity, popular media, and new agers might tell you, we are not at the top of it. We cannot actually do whatever we like—or rather we *can* but certain choices are going to twist our souls out of true. A pious person is indentured in service to her Gods.  A responsible person has a place in his community, maintains a household (even if only a household of one), stands rightly within the world. We are tethered to our commitments and known by how well or poorly we keep them. Within our religious traditions there are rules, protocols, a right way to approach holy places, to treat holy people, to engage with the Holy Powers and a wrong way. It is not a free for all. To say that one can do whatever we want is to elevate ourselves and our passing whims and desires over the obligations of piety and respect. Those obligations create in us a fully realized human being, or at least they have the potential to do so when approached rightly. The former is shallowness yes, but also against the divine order. This is what it’s all about, folks. We can work with our Gods, support the order They have created by the way we choose to live, by our devotion, by how joyfully and consistently we cultivate Their veneration, honor our dead, care for the land, care for each other, or we do the opposite. We set ourselves against that order and in so doing twist our own existence and our souls, breathed into us by Odin Himself, out of true. 

Likewise, the Gods have the right to command us. We are not above Them in the cosmic order. Point 2 is really about acknowledging the cosmic order, the divine architecture and the hierarchy therein. That hierarchy does not place humans at its top.  That is a relief! There is something, many Somethings greater than we, Who had a hand in our creation, Who recognize us as part of Their work and what a lovely and beautiful thing that is. We are, however, still a religion of converts and many people come to our traditions having been deeply scarred by their birth religions and upbringings. Sometimes even the words of devotion: ‘prayer,’ ‘piety,’ ‘adoration,’ ‘worship,’ the word ‘devotion’ itself…cause pain. It can be agonizing to recognize a hierarchy that in impious hands has been used to condemn and to shame. All I can say here is that these things should be a comfort, a connection, a joyous homecoming and I am so very sorry that anyone ever used them to cause pain. That is not what piety or the Gods, inasmuch as I understand Them, are ever about. Be gentle with yourselves and each other and work devotionally where you can work. Trust yourself and trust, if you can, the Holy Powers in Their ability to restore to rightness the spiritual connections and bonds that have been severed by such abuse. 

Returning to my original point about #1 and 2, the Gods exist, and we are, if we are piously oriented, in fealty to Them. They become our center, our axis mundi. It is around this sacred point that all else is oriented. That nourishes and strengthens *everything*. If we are properly aligned with our Holy Powers, then that should have an effect on how we move in the world. It changes everything and for the better. 

I think point 4 speaks for itself and I’ve already touched on it anyway. I’ll post more as I think about this more. I welcome readers’ thoughts. 

Wisdom in Strange Places

My housemate was watching the new series “The Stand” this afternoon on her lunch break, and I sat down to watch with her. Without giving away plot points for people who may not have read the book but are watching the series, the story is about a confrontation between good and evil, the latter embodied in a terrible being that wears the shape of a man. At one point, four characters aligned with good are journeying to make their stand against this creature and there is a moment where they have to decide whether to continue as a divinely inspired prophet told them to do, or whether to stay with an injured comrade. The fallen comrade invokes the 23rd Psalm and watching this scene, I had a moment of such intense clarity that it was painful. 

There is evil and pollution out there, everywhere we walk in this world. Sometimes it is small but sometimes it is massive and terrifying. Sometimes we are called to step up and come face to face with that evil. Do not fear. Wherever we go, our Gods are with us. Our ancestors walk at our backs sustaining us. The land itself reflects the power of the Holy. Why the hell should I fear anything when my God stands at my back, surrounds me with His protection, when He fills me with His glory as I stand encircled by enemies. None of the evil which rises against us matters. It is nothing in comparison to the Power of our Gods and when we choose, really choose to align ourselves with the Holy, we no longer have any need to fear. What is there in this world, what force, what wickedness that is as great as those Gods that we love and serve? 

So yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – places polluted and filled with wickedness, places of foulness and danger, and though I am forced to sometimes engage with people who are also filled with pollution, I will never fear. I will not give evil that to feed upon. I am surrounded by my Gods. They have poured Themselves out around me, through me, through every pore, every molecule of my being. They stand between me and every unholy thing that I must face down. They are with me, filling me with Their protection and Their glory. What is the banality of wickedness in the face of such might? What is evil in the face of such power? I will be a conduit for my Gods until my soul itself is dust glittering in Their hands. Why the hell should I EVER fear that which stands against Them?  

I was also thinking about what actors do when they tell these stories of evil. Those stories are important. They aren’t just stories of evil, but stories of human courage and virtue and valor in the most unexpected of places. Just as those that are the most evil are often boring and banal, the man or woman next door, so too are those who might rise up against that evil. We need those stories. We need to see that we too can have courage. At the same time, actors are vessels for forces far greater than they themselves. I was a performer for the first part of my life, granted a ballet dancer not an actor but the same thing holds: those who take up that work empty themselves out and take on the mask of other beings. That is dangerous. I know if I were playing a role now that was supposed to be the embodiment of evil, I would be bracketing every actual performance with offerings and prayers, cleansings and there would be a shrine to my Gods and probably also to Dionysos especially – even if I weren’t devoted to Him, because is the patron of the theatre, in my dressing room. This is why, I firmly believe, that in the ancient world, theatre wasn’t just a good time. It was bracketed by days of rituals and prayers and offerings to Dionysos. The stage is a liminal place and those who work upon it open themselves up in ways that can be very dangerous to the self.   The stories told on the stage are important. They have the power to make us better, to elevate us to virtue and help us cultivate the best parts of ourselves. They give us a language to understand what is happening when evil comes calling. Evil feeds on fear. The power of Story, a Power in and of itself, shows us how to move beyond that fear. 

May those who do this sacred work remain clean. 
May they be protected as they open themselves up 
on stage, before a camera, to forces beyond themselves. 
May they feel the grace of Dionysos and their own Gods too. 
May they be safe and nourished in their work. 

May we ourselves rest secure in the knowledge that the Gods are with us always, 
That we need not fear. That we are Theirs and They are ours, 
and in the alchemy of that equation evil is nothing at all. 

Selah.

A Massachussetts School Bans the “Odyssey”

The woke brigade strikes again. To preserve their precious feelings and further indoctrinate children with their utter lack of values and virtue, a group #distrupttexts has successfully gotten one of the cornerstones of Western literature banned from a school in MA. Read the full story here


I read an article earlier about this and “teachers” were proud of this ban. Personally, it would be better if they closed the school, and any teacher that advocates for banning books isn’t fit to teach. They’re so eager to virtue signal their “wokeness” *gags* that they are denying this generation’s children a proper education. Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” are core texts for understanding pretty much all of the literature that came after it. I suppose these woke “teachers” don’t want to have to be bothered to explain different values and customs or, you know, do their jobs and teach. 


I suppose stories about heroism, cleverness, virtue, and fidelity (especially in women) are difficult to teach when the people teaching it have none of those qualities. Those pushing this ban referred to the “Odyssey” as “trash.” I have yet to see their accomplishments, other than denying the children placed in their care a proper education. 


Personally, if you haven’t read the “Odyssey” and the “Iliad” by the time you graduate high school, you’re not ready for college. I only lament that high schoolers aren’t reading them in the original Greek these days.  

The only way these days to guarantee that your children are getting a decent education, one that will render them thinking, literate, historically aware adults is to homeschool. This trend toward banning the best books of world literature, of classic literature is a perfect example of where public education is going. Object to this, parents. Object strongly and never, ever apologize for challenging this censorship. Your children deserve at least that. 

Maybe wildhunt.org needs an exorcism >_<

I’m used to reading utter crap from wildhunt.org. They don’t represent polytheism, and they certainly don’t present anything approximating useful viewpoints for our community. At this rate, for the last couple of years they’ve been, more and more, a leftist propaganda machine. C’est la vie. Shit does flow downhill after all. I rarely read something there, however, that is as fucked up as their recently article on Catholic exorcisms. 

Firstly, the article mocks the practice of exorcism equating it with child abuse, FGM, and superstition. Secondly, they allowed the claim – and it has thus far gone unchallenged – that Jesus invented exorcism. No, he did not. Polytheistic traditions were performing exorcisms, purifications, and banishings for millennia before the Christ movement ever happened. But then, we’re not neo-Pagan. We actually respect our theologies and traditions (looking at you, Patheos). 

The issue we should have with Catholics doing this is that they retranslated the rite of exorcism. Why re-work a ritual that functions just fine? Moreover, why have it translated and amended by people who are not themselves exorcists and who cannot, therefore, gauge the efficacy of their needless emendations? I want more information on the translation process and who was involved.

Our world is filled with supernatural evil and pollution. We, human beings, who are no longer raised to cultivate virtue within themselves, let it in. Yes, there’s human malignancy but there’s also shit that goes well beyond that. Our polytheistic ancestors understood that. They understood that there are malefic forces aligned against the sacred and holy architecture that the Gods have created, and that if we venerate and love those Gods, then the corollary is that we stand against that evil, against that which would destroy and corrupt the order and beauty of Their divine creation. We don’t fucking help it along. 

These rituals and techniques were given to us by the Gods to combat those malevolent spirits and exorcists, a very rare and sacred calling (and dangerous as hell) are the first line of defense, the shock troops, that go in and clean up when we do not hold the line and when we fuck up. 

Paganism may be ‘do as you please’ these days. Polytheism isn’t. If the Catholic church is seeing a rise in exorcisms, I’m not surprised.  Our world is burning. Forces of evil are running rampant, hiding behind movements and counter movements and attempts to abolish and transgress all social norms. Even what is good in and of itself can be twisted and corrupted under its influence. This crosses all religious boundaries. 

Instead of bitching and whining and mocking those who hold to their traditions of exorcism, we should be praying for their success. 

Here is a prayer I say weekly (I stole it and reworked it from the Catholics because I liked it and found it effective. Gods know, they stole enough from us. Turnabout is fair play). I encourage any and all of you reading this to write your own prayers in the same vein. Feel free to share them here. But pray, pray fervently as if your life and spiritual welfare depends upon it because maybe, just maybe it does. 

Prayer for Priests and specialists

Oh, great good and immortal Gods, look upon our world and have pity upon Thy priests, spirit-workers, exorcists, specialists, and shamans (insert whatever groups of specialists you wish here). Oh, Compassionate Gods, remember that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation. Set them on fire with love and devotion to You. Keep them close, lest the enemy prevail against them. Grant that they may never betray, subvert , or shame their vocation. Keep them clean, oh great and merciful Gods. 

I pray to all Good Gods for Thy faithful and fervent priests, spiritworkers, exorcists, and specialists –for those unfaithful and tepid, for those laboring hard, for those tempted, for those lonely and desolate, for the young ones, the aged ones, the sick ones, the dying ones, and all the souls of priests, spiritworkers, exorcists, and speicalists who have died. I pray for those facing initiation. I pray for those facing spiritual combat. I pray for all who serve. May they prevail and come out transformed by the Gods. Keep them clean. 

Inspire them, oh Eternal Gods. Look with love upon them. Fill them with burning zeal for their vocations. Shelter them under Thy protection. Keep unstained their anointed hands. Keep unsullied their lips. Keep pure their hearts. Let Thy love and care protect them from contagion. Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may they endure. May those to whom they minister be likewise fruitful in their devotions. May the laity who seek the Gods understand and undertake clean service. May they support their clergy and specialists.  May they be sustained in their love of the Holy Ones. May they be protected and likewise nourished. 

Please hear my prayer, oh good and glorious Gods. Please hear my prayer. 

A Rather Bad Sign

For one of my classes, I recently had to read Robert Orsi’s Between Heaven and Earth. In one of the chapters, Orsi discusses the impact of Vatican II on devout Catholics. Now, I personally think that Vatican II was one of the biggest mistakes the Catholic Church ever made (pandering to Protestants in the name of ecumenism, excising devotion, Marian cultus, saint cultus, and embodied devotional practices, putting the mass in the vernacular, easing up on regulations binding priests and especially nuns, devaluing the latter almost all together) and we in other traditions can learn quite a bit about what not to do from it as we engage in our respective restorations. It was a surrender to secularism and modernism and the end of the Church as a functional entity. It was also an outright attack on devotion. That being said, as part of his work, Orsi discusses several interactions with clergy on the matter of lay devotion and it’s that which I wish to discuss.

One chapter discussed a priest, post Vatican II, who was so against any aspect of devotion that he talked about the immense disgust and rage that he had whenever he saw statues of the saints or Mary, or any old school devout Catholic practice. He told Orsi that he wanted to destroy the statues and sacred images and spewed an immense amount of vitriol toward the very idea of actual devotional practices. This is a priest saying this, someone who ought to be encouraging devotion. It was striking and one of the most polluted things I’ve had to read this year. The account involves a Father Grabowski and occurs on p. 56-57 where we have a priest encouraging desecration and sacrilege — in the name, of course, of progress. “’The urge to destroy…haunts me’” Father Grabowski confesses” (57). He is talking about seeing statues of saints, and in the same paragraph, a statue of the Virgin. Time maybe to call an exorcist.

Disgust, aversion, and especially rage toward things associated with devotion or the sacred is one of the first signs at best of spiritual pollution and at worst of demonic obsession or even possession. What so many Catholics would term the demonic, I tend to see as an extension of what some of us term “the Nameless.” Evil exists, evil being that which is categorically ranked against the order that our Gods have created and that They work to maintain. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. It is insidious. It is the thing that we must ever and always guard against in our spiritual lives. It may have only the openings we give it, but it is very, very good at conniving to have us give those openings.

When holy things, devotion, and other sacred things begin to cause a reactive response of rage and disgust, an urge to destroy, that is a serious warning sign. I’ve gone through this myself, time where being in the presence of the sacred has been like razor blades down the skin of my mind, and every single time it has been an attempt to derail my work, to put a wedge between me and the Gods, to pollute. I have regular cleansing practices and this is one of the reasons. After the first time I noticed this, once I took care of it, I heightened those protocols to prevent just such a thing. With those cleansing practices in place, it’s much easier to recognize this state of spiritual emergency and deal with it as soon as possible. That’s exactly what it is too: a spiritual emergency. In better times, I might feel sorry for this Father Grabowski that he lacks appropriate spiritual direction to overcome this, but with things being as they are now, I’m just disgusted. It’s not just that one person may feel disgust, part of their poisoned state is a desire, no, a needto spread that poison as far as they possibly can, and to destroy devotion wherever it might be found.

This isn’t something that only affects specialists either. Lay people are every bit as susceptible. This is one of the many reasons why having a good prayer practice is so incredibly crucial. It realigns us every single time we choose consciously to engage, even if we do so imperfectly. Sometimes we must fight our way to the Gods inch by bloody inch, against the press of “progress” that would cast our devotion as superstition, against “modernity” that would urge us to abandon belief and practice, against evil.

What to do When Evil Comes Calling

We don’t talk much about evil as polytheists. Our traditions aren’t focused around it; we don’t have a figure like the Christian “Satan” driving our ideas of theodicy, and for the most part, our traditions aren’t really fixated on any violent and/or definitive eschatology. Instead we tend to be much more focused on celebrating the divine order and all the blessings our Gods bestow. That is, I think, exactly as it should be. That does not mean, however, that evil doesn’t exist. Christians weren’t the first to wrestle with this. Our philosophers engaged with the question of evil and perhaps from time immemorial men and women have been asking why bad things happen.(1)

I suppose first there’s the question of what evil actually is, a question that has been as equally vexing through the centuries as why it happens or exists at all. I think though that before we attempt to answer that, it’s important to articulate some sense of the underpinnings of our cosmological architecture. In other words, we must proceed from the baseline understanding that our Gods are inherently good. That doesn’t mean that Their nature is good according to human understanding, which is necessarily limited, but that Their nature is inherently good on a cosmic, eternal, super-human level. They are the good from which all other good things flow. They are good in a way that supports and sustains everything in our worlds and the fabric of Being itself. Whatever evil there is in the world, it does not come from our Gods.

Nor do I think that ‘misfortune’ can necessarily be equated with ‘evil.’ Life is a series of ups and downs and multiple sometimes conflicting variables that we can’t control. Sometimes something that seems like misfortune now, turns out to be a blessing later. More importantly, we each have our individual wyrd, and our ancestral wyrd.(2) Sometimes misfortune doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of ancestral debt that has travelled down to us,(3) or the result of our poor choices, or sometimes just the result of painful necessity. Sometimes, shit happens and we have to deal with it. How we deal with it can lead to the honing of a very strong character…or not. None of that is ‘evil.’

When we discuss something like wyrd, we’re discussing something that is part and parcel of the natural – and divine—order. I don’t believe that evil is part of that order. If the Gods are good, and remember that is the baseline from which we are proceeding, then evil cannot come from Them. It must, of necessity, be something external to that divinely ordained architecture. So, what is it and where does it come from, if that is the case?

I personally think there are two types of evil, that which comes from us (moral evil) and that external to us, which we allow in to influence our minds and hearts. The first is the evil that we do, that we choose to do. The second is something that I call the Nameless (of which the Filter is a manifestation). I’ll talk about that in a moment.

I was always taught that whatever evil exists external to us, it has only those openings that we choose to give to it. This is why it is so important to cultivate virtue, to train ourselves to make the morally correct choices, as much as we can determine what those might be, as a habit, and to do so again and again even when it is difficult (perhaps most especially when it’s difficult). Virtue is something that we are absolutely capable of cultivating. Of all the ways in which we have free will, the choice to cultivate good character is the most powerful. That cultivation allows us to strengthen our soul matrix, just like working out at a gym strengthens our physical muscles – a rather simplistic metaphor I grant you, but one adequate for our purposes here. And just like eating well and getting enough sleep and exercising bolsters our resistance to illness, so too developing virtue bolsters our soul’s resistance to evil. How do we know to do what is right? How do we determine what is morally and ethically correct?

It is not the Gods’ job to instill in us a sense of morality or virtue. That is the purpose of philosophy, of our families, upbringing, and education, and ideally, in a properly ordered community, of our culture.(4) The Roman author A. Gellius wrote: Dii immortales virtutem adprobare, non adhibere debent. (The immortal Gods ought to support not supply virtue. Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 1.6.8). We have our cosmologies, our sacred stories, the discipline of devotional work, and our relationships with the Gods, land, and ancestors…which, if they are properly ordered, impact everything else in our world. We have the lessons and teachings of our ancestors, our traditions, and our own sense of right and wrong.(5) We shouldn’t need our Gods to tell us not to molest children, or commit rape, or steal, or lie, or break our word. Developing virtue comes down to behaving as the kind of people we would like to best be. That is on us. That is our work to do. The Gods will guide and support us in that, but we have to do that work, learning from our mistakes as we go.(6)

A commitment toward developing a virtuous character (and I use the term ‘virtuous’ in its Greco-Roman, philosophical sense not its later Christian iteration) is that which inoculates us against moral evil. We learn to make better choices. We learn not to make choices that give openings through which evil may enter.

Then there is what I call the Nameless (there are various Native American terms for this and I once had a Kemetic elder equate it to Apep), that malignant sentience which stands against the order the Gods have decreed.(7) That is the evil external to cosmic Good. This is the malignancy that will jump at any chance to seep into our minds twisting our perceptions, whispering in the darkness, cultivating despair, indolence, apathy, and hate. Without the work of having developed character and virtue, we are sitting ducks for it.  This is why I believe that the maxim at the Oracle of Delphi is vitally crucial to us all: Know Thyself. Let me explain.

Discernment is always a concern, or should be, for all of us engaged in spiritual work. This is true of the lay person engaging in devotion as much as the specialist. One necessary component of discernment is self-knowledge. We must know the pattern of our thoughts and emotions, our motivations, and above all else the lay of our inner landscape. Good, bad, beautiful, or ugly (and I suspect we are all equal parts of each), we must know our inner selves cold, with 110% clarity. Why? So that when evil comes to whisper in our minds, to plunge us into darkness, to twist our perception, and nurture ugliness in our souls, to cut us off from our Gods and the abundance of good They bring, we will recognize it as not being of us. If we can recognize it, we can resist it and cleanse ourselves of its miasma before we are changed by it for the worse.

We have free will. Even those of us bound in service to our Gods have free will to do the things that cultivate devotion and virtue, or not; to serve graciously and willingly, or not. We have freedom in this and because of that, we have the freedom to choose to let evil in, to nourish it, or not. This is why mindfulness and moral courage are so important. Because the Gods have made us free, They aren’t going to step in and stop us when we’re opening the door to evil, whether it be that which we choose to do from weakness or poor character, need, want, or a thousand other things, or the nameless itself. It is for us to choose. But our choices have consequences.

This is why regular devotional practice is also so vitally important. It creates an environment in our hearts, minds, and spirits that is not conducive to evil. It allows us a greater chance of recognizing that which would pull us out of true with our Holy Powers, and it helps us foster the moral habits that develop a character capable of resistance to the malignant. It is the same with honoring our ancestors. They are our first line of defense.

So, what does one do when evil, external evil, the nameless or one of its helpers comes calling? We might not recognize it at first. It might be that insidious whisper in the night that tells us what we’re doing is for naught. It might be the whisper that tells us there are no Gods to hear us? Why bother? It might be worse and it might be a direct attack. I have looked into the eyes of people – thankfully not many—who were riddled willingly with its influence and it was horrible to see. What do you do when confronted with something that foul? Well, you don’t run. Over the past two months, I’ve gotten multiple emails from clients, readers, acquaintances who have in some way, shape, or form had brushes with what they conceived of as evil. They encountered something that tainted them, terrified, and in some cases harmed them spiritually. The question was always the same: what should I do? What do I do? What should I have done?

I can only tell you what I was taught by a woman far more devout than I. When you are faced with evil, when you are standing in the presence of something foul and unholy, do not flinch or flee. Stand up. Look it right in the eye. Yield no space, and call upon your Gods. Surround yourself with that which is holy, articulate your acceptance and support of the divine order. Stand confidently in it. Root yourself in your devotion to the Gods and ancestors. Call upon Them and do not be afraid. Things like this have only the openings we choose to give them. Evil may be very good at tricking us into creating openings but if we remember our relationships to the Gods, if we remember that we do not stand alone ever, that always we stand with thousands upon thousands of ancestors ranked at our backs ready to protect us, then we have nothing to fear. Fear is the weapon it utilizes the most but in the end, we must recognize that our Gods are stronger. And we must be aware of when we start feeling aversion to holy things, to our Gods, and our dead. That is a sign of infection.

 

Notes:

  1. For the Platonists, evil was privation of something, like good, health, substance, etc., a separation from the Good. For some philosophers like Kant, it was a matter of human nature. A more thorough discussion, rather outside the scope of my piece here, of philosophical viewpoints on evil may be found here. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/concept-evil/
  2. Wyrd is the warp and weft of our very existence. It is causality and consequence, the sum total of every decision we have made or chosen not to make, everything we’ve done, or not done, every aspect of our existence for good or bad. Ordered by the Nornir, it intersects with the wyrd of those with whom we engage, and is likewise impacted and by the deeds of our ancestors. It forms the scaffolding against which our lives play out.
  3. I like to tell people, when the subject of ancestral debt comes up, that there is no ‘away.’ The pain and suffering, joys and victories, the deeds good and bad of our ancestors don’t just go away. Like a stone thrown across a still lake, some choices have repercussions that ripple out, down the generations.
  4. Sadly, in a culture influenced and crafted from generations of monotheism, industrialization, secularism, pop culture, and modernity we cannot look there for examples of anything approximating virtue…unless we’re looking for negative examples.
  5. This should be developed by our education, upbringing, and devotional praxis and its development is an ongoing process. The problem as I see it for us, is that we’re living in a world that in no way sustains or supports any type of virtue, and the ethics and morality of modernity are not only quite different from what our traditions might teach, but in many cases destructive and diametrically opposed to traditional wisdom and devotion. We need to start the cultivation of virtue not by looking to our society’s elders and teachers, but by first addressing our own brainwashing.
  6. Which I don’t think should mean putting that morality over clean service to the Gods. I do think sometimes Their agendas take precedence in our lives and that begs the question of what happens when the Gods ask us to betray or put aside our most deeply held values. I’ll be addressing that in a future post. I’m still gnawing on that and all its implications and it’s not an easy piece to write.
  7. I firmly believe that the real battle of Ragnarok is not Gods against other Holy Powers like the Jotnar, but Gods joined across pantheons against this force which seeks only to unmake all that the gods have crafted.