When both sides are assholes, nobody wins.

Stop him, he's getting away with the Evian!

Artist’s rendering.

If you’re on the lookout for new and exciting ways state and local governments are developing to screw over the regular American citizen, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the man who has been convicted of “stealing rainwater” from the state of Oregon.  Everyone is up in arms about this – and rightly so, as the idea that every drop of water that hits the ground being owned by the state government sounds like something Orwell might have included in 1984 – but is this really as nefarious and insidious as it sounds?

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The Armchair Anthropologist

I had the distinct privilege of being invited by my friends and next-door neighbors to attend their Freyfaxi celebration this past weekend.  While I didn’t directly participate in the ceremony it was a fascinating thing to watch, and my Heathen friends (known more officially as Asatruar) were very gracious of them to invite me to observe.

No, not the Marvel superhero version.

Mjolnir, the most common Asatru symbol.

Anthropologically there’s not much actual ritual for Asatruar to follow when it comes to being able to use as a framework for modern practicing Heathens.  The spread of Christianity erased many of the indigenous cultural practices, though snippets have emerged here and there either through re-discovered texts or generational games of telephone that have passed down snippets over the centuries. Like other neopagan religions, the Asatru movement has gleaned what they can and extrapolated from there; the result is that each Kindred (or local worship group) can and quite often does approach worship differently from another, which means that the rituals I observed this weekend may be similar to those practiced by another Kindred or may be wildly different.

Magic boar, magic orgiami boat, and magic, uh, "sword."

Freyr of the Vanir.

The celebration itself is akin to an Asatru Thanksgiving of sorts; Freyr, the Scandinavian god celebrated in the ritual (and where Freyfaxi gets its name) was considered to be the god of fertility, fair weather for the growing of crops.  Pre-Christian pagans would rely upon Freyr’s beneficence to grant them the strength to keep the peace in their villages and farms, protecting them from harm and keeping the fields healthy and the women pregnant, and Freyr was considered to be one of the most important deities to call upon to preserve the commonwealth of Scandinavian settlements.  As a summer harvest festival, Freyfaxi has an Anglo-Saxon analogue in Lammastide and was also sometimes called Hlæfæst, or “Loaf Feast,” with the inference being that many communities celebrated by turning the first grain harvests of the year into bread for the celebration; with the short summers and long winters of Scandinavia, that first grain harvest would have been incredibly important for agrarian societies to the point where the local community leader would sometimes be sacrificed to bring good fortune after a long string of bad harvests.

While the majority of us may not have to gamble on a good wheat harvest to make it through the winter nowadays, the spirit of thanksgiving was alive and well this weekend at the Freyfaxi celebration I witnessed.  My friends, who just recently formed their own group called the Wyrd’s Well Kindred, played host for around 25 people, and their responsibilities involved actually leading those gathered in a ceremony called a Blót, a word  in Old Norse which literally means “blood” but is synonymous with also  “worship” and “sacrifice” – which is demonstrative of how, in Asatru, worship often cannot take place without some form of sacrificial offering.

Yeah, I know, the Magen David isn't a pentagram.  Shut up.

Example of a Kabalistic LBRP circle.

The blót began with my friends sanctifying the circle of gathered Asatruar by calling on Thor to protect those gathered there, much like many occultists will perform a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram before beginning any work of their own.  Following that, Wyrd’s Well began the blót in earnest, calling on those gathered to both praise and thank Freyr.  With Asatruar being both highly centered around the veneration of ancestors and respect for the natural world, these two facets were also hailed alongside Freyr in thanks and appreciation before the blót continued.

In keeping with the sacrificial roots of the blót, the celebrants chose something to burn as an offering to Freyr.  Some people wrote out prayers on slips of paper and handed those into the fire, while others kept with the harvest theme and sacrificed gathered wildflowers or food.  One person brought a full honeycomb to burn on the fire; combined with the apple slices that another person gave to Freyr, the smoke smelled sweet and fragrant.

No, that's not a penis in the center.

Typical Blót Bowl.

Honey is – and was – an important facet of Heathen life.  Most of Scandinavia was much too cold for the cultivation of grapes, which meant that honey was used in lieu of grape juice to ferment into wine.  Mead plays an integral role to Asatruar, and every blót features the passing of a mead-horn along the circle, and celebrants drink from the horn.  Those participating in the blót are also blessed with a sprinkle of mead from the the ritual blót bowl where the mead is kept.  Sometimes called a Blótbolli, in pre-Christian days the blót bowl was usually filled not with mead but with the blood of whatever animal had been sacrificed for the rite (with Blótbolli literally meaning “blood-bowl” in this context); this weekend, of course, didn’t involve anything but a bit of mead in Wyrd’s Well’s blót bowl.

Typical Ingwaz runestone.

After these observances the rite was ended, but not before everyone in attendance – myself included, even though I didn’t participate in the ritual – was given a gift.  We were each given a flat sliver of deer antler that had been marked with Ingwazthe  fuþorc rune for Freyr, as Ingvi-Freyr (or Yngvi-Freyr) is one way faithful referred to Freyr both in pre-Christian times and today.  The antler is especially relevant to Freyr’s mythology, where he relinquished his magical sword in order to court his wife and instead took up a deer antler to use as a weapon in battle, again highlighting just how integral sacrifice was to pre-Christian Scandinavian paganism and why so much weight is placed upon sacrifice in Asatru.

Not to be confused with nature's pocket.  That's something different.

The drinking horn: nature’s wine glass.

The rest of the day was spent in much more typical secular pursuits, with a massive barbecue on the back patio.  Much like any good feast, I did my best to honor my hosts by eating and drinking to my fullest content, and later that evening I raised the mead-horn when it came to me, thanking them for their hospitality and the honor they bestowed upon me by asking me to attend.

I might not have said it then, since that mead does a wonder in erasing your memory of Modern English let alone Anglo-Saxon, but I’ll say it now: wæs þu hæl, my friends, and thank you for including me in your celebrations.

Wow. Just… wow.

You might have missed it, but the 30th Olympiad kicked off last evening.  The opening ceremony was miles from the highly regimented drills performed by proud, completely terrified Chinese “volunteers” that we saw four years ago marching in lockstep around the arena; instead we got a wonderful combination of pomp and goofiness from the entirety of Great Britain, up to and including one hell of an entrance from Her Highness:

I can see your bloomers, ma'am.

Tally ho, chaps!

Yes, the opening ceremony featured none other than a stuntman dressed as the Queen parachuting from a hovering helicopter, escorted by none other than Daniel Craig as James Bond.  I guess if you’re going to make an entrance, you’re going to do it in style!

Of course, this is nothing I wouldn’t expect from an Olympic Committee that selected a logo that closely resembles Lisa Simpson giving her brother head:

What has been seen...

Diddely doodely.

All kidding aside, I absolutely love the British.  I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for this year’s Summer Games!  It’s also good to know that nobody’s going to get shot because they missed a cue.

Say, something seems different here…

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there’s a brand spanking new domain name up in your address bar.  That’s right: this site has now cost me real money.

It wasn’t all that expensive in the long run. $26 all told, which included a private domain registration, because I don’t need to give the IRS and my creditors any more information than I have to.  In all seriousness, I made the decision to spring for a domain name because I felt it was high time I did so.  It’s been almost exactly six months to the day since I started this blog, where I’ve grown from being astounded that I’m getting 23 hits a day to being disappointed when I only reach 150.

Over these six months, I’ve made (including this one) 189 posts.  I’ve also gathered just over 20,600 hits; that may be chump change for some people, but to me it’s a serious accomplishment.  I don’t even care if it’s because people are reaching this site by using the search term “patented zombie face fucking technology™,” which they actually did yesterday.  Complete with Trademark superscript.  I applaud whomever it was who did so – I tip my hat to you, sir or madam.

At any rate, here’s to all of you – whether you be a regular reader or someone who just drifted in for a picture of Abraham Lincoln throwing down in a no-holds barred bare-knuckle cage match – thanks for stopping by.  Come back again soon, especially if I get accepted into the WordAds program here.

Oh, and before I go, as promised:

 

Please don't sue me.

Brandon Bird’s “King of the Cage.”

 

Is there no end to this rampant douchebaggery?

These assholes know how to party.

The WBC: A master class in real life trolling.

I’ve been avoiding talking about the recent movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that occurred last weekend.  I honestly didn’t want to be part of the problem when it came to heaping notoriety on the completely batshit insane perpetrator of the shooting, and I’d rather not have the lunatic’s MK ULTRA-style blank look plastered all over this website; in fact, don’t even expect me to mention the bastard’s name.  So what could possibly prompt me to finally come out and add my voice to the cacophony?  Only the most visible and reviled hate group we have in the United States: the Westboro Baptist Church.

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Slowpoke Game Review: Dead Space

1986 called - they want their breaking news back.

You’re telling me Samus Aran has a vagina!?

The Steam Summer Sale is blissfully over, and my wallet has emerged more-or-less unscathed.  However, there were a few deals that were simply too good for me to pass up, and one of those was the third-person survival horror science fiction game Dead Space, something that’s been out for years but I’ve never had a chance to own and play – until now.

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