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Piparskeggrsbok

Jul. 16th, 2015

12:02 am

Been a very long time...I am now a pancreatic cancer patient. Had successful surgery (modified Whipple procedure) on 2 June and started chemotherapy on 14 July, which will last 6 months.

Apr. 29th, 2012

10:43 am - Long time passing...

Hail to those of you still looking for words from me...

Needless to say, I have been away from the keyboard a long time.
Lots of person/internal upheaval, which was sparked by my dad's passing 25 February 2010...

I am over the hump and am writing again.

More to follow.

Let those you love know it, now!

Pip

Jun. 20th, 2010

01:39 pm - More thoughts on my dad - Father's Day

My Fathers’ Son

I am in truth my fathers’ son
Born of a long and storied line
Not one of whom was grand or famed
But all became the man I am

In life they strived to build their weal
To help their own, to ward their homes
In life they strived for Kin and kith
That Worth might come and make their name

We find that we have many roles
Which come to us within our years
Child, sibling, partner, parent
Friend or foe, teacher or taught

Upon my hand there is a ring
White gold it is, plain thin and old
It sat upon my father’s hand
A sign of Troth when he was wed

He was a man who seldom spoke
But words he gave were rich and wise
He was a man who seemed withdrawn
But gave of self when need was there

His work was hard, his days were long
But seldom did he stay away
From home and hearth, from wife and kids
He knew his place was in our lives

And as years passed, the world did change
But not his care for family
Nor for his friends, or for his deeds
As he worked in community

He lived to see his children wed
Some well, some not, but all survived
And from this he saw grandchildren
To carry on the long Kin-line

And at the end of all his years
When illness laid him weak and low
He took the hit, but carried on
And sang his last few days away

And as we stood on sacred grounds
Where kin-bones slept beneath the sod
And as we laid him in his grave
My thoughts flew high, and far and wide

I looked to hills he loved to roam
Beneath the trees beside the stream
A place he shared with many boys
My sib and I foremost of these

So long old scout, your time has come
To walk those trails, unseen, unknown
Beyond the bounds of daily life
A new frontier to seek and see

I am in truth my fathers’ son
Born of a long and storied line
Not one of whom was grand or famed
But all became the man I am

In life they strived to build their weal
To help their own, to ward their home
In life they strived for Kin and kith
That Worth might come and make their name

Current Location: Catamount Grange
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Johnny Cash

Jun. 13th, 2010

12:56 pm - A poem from my youth - Poul Anderson - F&FS 1958

Ballade of an Artificial Satellite by Poul Anderson

Thence they sailed far to the southward along the land, and came to a ness; the land lay upon the right; there were long and sandy strands. They rowed to land, and found there upon the ness the keel of a ship, and called the place Keeless, and the strands they called Wonderstrands for it took a long time to sail by them.

Thorfinn Karlsefni’s Voyage to Vinland

One inland summer I walked through rye,
a wind at my heels that smelled of rain
and harried white clouds through a whistling sky
where the great sun stalked and shook his mane
and roared so brightly across the grain
it burned and shimmered like alien sands.-
Ten years old, I saw down a lane
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

In ages before the world ran dry,
what might the mapless not contain?
Atlantis gleamed like a dream to die,
Avalon lay under faerie reign,
Cibola guarded a golden plain,
Tir-nan-Og was fair-locked Fand’s,
sober men saw from a gull’s-road wain
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

Such clanging countries in cloudland lie;
but men grew weary and they grew sane
and they grew grown - and so did I -
and knew Tartessus was only in Spain.
No galleons called at Taprobane
(Ceylon, with English); no queenly hands
wear gold from Punt; nor sees the Dane
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

Ahoy, Prince Andros Horizen’s-bane!
They always wait, the elven lands.
An evening planet gives again
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

Tags: ,
Current Location: same as it ever is ,-)
Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: Leaves Eyes

Jun. 11th, 2010

06:10 pm - Life lesson from dad, and then, to Asatru?

Hail all;

I have been corresponding with a fellow with whom I have had good
words for several years.

He lost his dad within the past few days and I have been trying to
guide him through this leg of life's journey.

One thing I wrote, I think is appropriate to the discussions we've
been having about our worldview...

"We fill the hole by fighting onward, by building and by leaving our
Family Name in better shape than when our fathers gave it to us; that
is the duty we owe." - Steven Stewartsson

Our Name, is not just ours, but our parents', their parents', and on
back...it is our siblings', our children's, their children's and on
forward...

A Name is a weighty part of life's Burden.

I'm old enough, and come from a "conservative" enough background, that
I was taught to never dishonor the Family Name, to always live my life
so that our Name was a source of pride, of smiles, of glad tears, not
shame, or scowls, or sorrowful weeping.

My dad told me he was proud of the way I've lived my life thus
far...he was aware of my beliefs, and my foibles.

Pride and shame, our two-edged social sword.

One of our great concepts, surviving all these long centuries, lightly
covered, but never buried.

Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: Sons of the Pioneers

Jun. 5th, 2010

06:29 pm - A Country Beyond Asatru - My Review of Gárman Lord's "The Way Of The Heathen"

(Lightly edited for misspellings and grammar from the original, which I wrote from a pre-production copy Gárman sent me in October or November of 1999. Amazon has sellers offering used copies of this book for almost $1000.00, I hope they slipped a couple digits there.)

Wyrd can be thought, a spider grey
Weaving all lives, within her web
Our deeds glisten, like morning dew
Then falling down, renew the Well

Ye Piparskeggrsmal - Stave 005

"The Way Of The Heathen: A Handbook Of Greater Théodism" by Gárman Lord

This book is at first glance, a very simple piece of wordcraft. The central theme, a presentation of Þéodisc Geléafa, IS simple: a man's beliefs are those of his tribe.

This is similar in theme to those Asatrúar who posit that our ancestors would answer the question “What is your religion?” (after having had the separateness of religion explained to them) with a shrug and “Vor Trú, our faith.”

There is a danger here.

This simplicity of message is but the surface of a spring fed pool. The clarity of the water is such that some who plunge in feet first may find themselves at greater depth and in swifter current than they expect.

I wrote this commentary concurrent with my third reading of this deceptively slim book (just under 230 pgs). The words ahead are my thoughts on the concepts presented about this form of Retro-Heathenry. [N.B.: Retro-Heathenry - the re-creation of the ancient folkways and faithways from the available documentary and archaeological evidences, as informed by thought and inspiration.]

I am a man dedicated to the Holy Æsir and Vanir. I believe that our faith stems from the kinlore of northern and western European tribal peoples and that these ways are most meaningful to those of that heritage.

I am informal in mine own practices, yet observant. I am filled neither with lore cunning nor a great store of wisdom, but do appreciate wit and sagacity in others. I am Tribalist in outlook, and seek Frithful relations with others of Right Good Will, which can only strengthen Vor Trú in the long run.

A man of good education and strong opinion wrote this book. It matters not the alphabet soup of degrees he may or may not append to his name. Rather then, I shall call the author a learned man, and a thinker of value. Beyond that I'll not try to credential him.

"The Way Of The Heathen" is unremarkable in its layout: topical sections, supporting chapters, appendices, glossary, index, and original illustrations.

The topics themselves though, “The Fruits of Wisdom,” “The Léode…,” “The Way of the Heathen,” “The Group Dynamic,” and so forth are not the usual “New Age, Peace and Light” alternative religious fare.

I should like to start my commentary with an important concept: “We are our deeds.” (Also the title of a most useful little book by Eric Lord Wódening.) In the “Good and Evil” chapter, lay the words: “… right action ( which is good), wrong action (which is bad), and inaction (which, since it produces no ordeal, produces no outcome, and is worst of all).” This points out that the values of our Northern Faithways ought be active, seeking to do, rather than be done for. Actions build up the layers in the Well of Wyrd, and we increase as our past increases through experience and deed. After reading this, I admitted to myself how much of mine own life I let be done.

The book, and each section, is introduced with the author's words about his goals, overall and in particular. Gárman seeks to present a form (Greater Théodism) of the religion he founded in 1976 (High Théodism). He seeks to reach the broader Heathen community, which is looking to the ancient kinways and lore, a Greater Théod as it were. Greater Théodism is presented as a faithway for those who wish to “go Théodish” but do not want or are not ready for the strictures of High Théodism.

The first section of the book is styled “The Fruits of Wisdom,” apt, as Théodism is presented as a wisdom tradition. The first main concept we find is the idea that all Théodsmen, known and unknown, are a part of the web of community. The tie that binds is Troth with the Holy Æsir and Vanir. We become members of the same (or a closely related) tribe through this web.

In this section we are informed of another concept essential to both High and Greater Théodism: “… loyalty to the mystic principle of Sacral Kingship, …” which is explained in Chapter 2. The King (AS: cyning - ON: konungr - Ger: könig), in simplest terms, embodies the Luck of the land and the Folk. The King also acts as a conduit for “the grace and favor of the gods…” The Théodish way looks to place less importance on the person of the king, rather the Thew is to adhere to the institution of the Kingship, and to reinforce Thew with Oath.

“Good and Evil” I have already mentioned. This first section ends with explanations of the two main forms of Heathen worship: Blót and Symbel. In the Asatrú of my experience Blót seems the more emphasized of the two and is therefore more familiar. Herein, the explanation of Blót takes but a few pages. Symbel though, is a much more complex religious and social ritual, thereby gaining the lion's share of the remainder of this section. I have participated in Blót and Symbel as a quest of High Théodsmen (chronicled elsewhere). The main difference to me: Blót forges links to the Holy Ones with the Folk as witnesses and Symbel forges links between the Folk with the High Ones as witnesses. The rituals are more important and powerful than this facile quip would have it.

Next we are informed about “The Léode, Its Organization and Structure.” In Asatrú we have our kindreds, hearths, garths and so forth. In Théodism, the basic group is the Léode. A big part of Théodism is its “…heavy emphasis on community, tribe and thew…” Though this coming together is granted the Honor Chair at the High Table, it is shown herein that one can be in this form of Troth (Greater Théodism) as an individual and be a true member of the broader Théodish community.

Next we are introduced to “Group Work” and organization, how a group coalesces and creates its community identity under their leader (perhaps reluctant, but the leader nonetheless). Some socio-political comments are offered, but the material steers back to Tribalism and the elder manner of community.

“Théodish Leadership,” I found to be a fascinating chapter. These three pages contain a glittering diamond of an essay on tribal leadership, stressing the adult nature of the relationship between Dryhten and Folk, always seeking to increase the worthiness of the Léode.

Now we tackle a more thorough description of “The Hierarchy of A Léode.” Of grave importance is a proper probationary period for new members, where they can learn what is expected of them and the Léode folk get to know them. Neither party benefits from someone plunging right in. Also defined are the “Goodfolk,” those who are friends but not Théodish, and from whom many “Learning Wights” emanate. This time of learning is indefinite and lasts until the Learner and Léode are ready for each other (thus the Learner becomes a Yeoman or Goodwife) and can exchange Hold Oaths, or the Learner goes away.

Oaths are an important point stressed here, for they are part and parcel of the Web. The words exchanged go into the Well of Wyrd. The social structure explained here (in terms used by Georges Dumezil,) is quite similar to that set by Heimdall in his guise as the visitor Rig, who fathers the first of each of the three strata of Heathen society: the Yeomanry or Free Folk (workers and providers, Third Function), the Gesitha or Thanes (craftsmen and leaders, Second Function) and the Dryhten (ruler, First Function).

Explained is the structure and function of the Hold Oath: between Dryhten ad Gesith, Dryhten and Man or Gesith and Man, for example. No Oath should be given or taken lightly, or without a thorough understanding of the meaning behind and within the words, for the Words have power and bind us to each other and to the Orlay of the Tribe. Also explained are the deep obligations between the oath holders: Man to Lord and Lord to Man. The section ends with a few words about “Women As Drythtens.” As is the case in the Host Community, a female must be remarkable in order to perform, and survive, as Dryhten.

We now come to the namesake section of this book, “The Way Of The Heathen.” We are reintroduced to the concept of Théodism as a “…lawless society, which operates instead by thew.” Thew being to the community what sinew is to the body, they help hold things together. Custom is presented as a stronger and natural way of acting within the community rather than looking to written law. Customary law stems from the kinlore and folkways to become layers of deed in the Well of Wyrd. This is within the Heathen worldview, rather than codification of offenses against some god's mandate from on high. Our gods we are told are “respecters of men” and their individual Worth, where the Mediterranean view is more of god as a leveler, where all are the same. The Heathen view deals more in the varying significances of events around us, and this is manifested (somewhat) through the poet's craft.

We are again reminded that ours is a religion of “Activism,” looking always to increase our worth by undertaking ordeals. We create ourselves, through right and wrong action, inaction creating nothing. Tied in with this is the idea of community projects that give each member of the Léode a place and a purpose, as well as a store of Deed and Worth, to the benefit of the Community.

In “Poetry, Law and Custom” we are shown how language has power (even now in Modern English, we still have echoes of the Elder Tongue's Cunning). The oral tradition of the Elder Folk was a powerful transmitter of kinlore, the customs, traditions and mores, and can be for us. Living within this framework helps one to become a self-regulating part of the community, where codification goes against the grain, being one size fits all, and lends itself to breakage. The heathen society will also have no “politics” as we think of the term, since everyone is part of the Web of Oaths and Thew. Custom is a much more powerful regulator of human behavior than statute, for there are certain things that a healthy society will not permit: rape, murder, theft and so forth. Other things, words on paper won't change how people are.

“The Théodish Learning Dynamic” can be easily summed up with the Théodish proverb: “Everything we are taught is false, everything that we learn is true.” Another important point is about personal “Eureka” moments, those gestalts which shatter illusions of thought and drive one to solitude, and may or may not lead one back again, the Théodish folk call this “going into the woods.” A few words here are said about one of the maladies of modern American society, our reaction to change in a superficial, cynical manner, due an inability to grasp the Significance of things.

The section concludes with a couple of pages styled “the Place of Modern Religion,” which speaks to the motivation for seeking an “alternative” to the mainstream religions. Contained here is the gem that religion is indeed serious, where one tends to meet oneself “ coming around the corner.” That is, getting the actual reason.

The next section of the book, “The Group Dynamic in the Modern World” seeks to define the type of persons who would come into the Léode. To a man these will be the offspring of the modern, spiritless society, not fitting the hive mind. One cause of these misfits may be the lack of a true, American folk culture (addressed later in the book). And of course, not all misfits are equal to the task of joining a Retro-heathen society.

The first supporting chapter brings to the fore the topic of “Anomie” or the general meaningless nature of modern society. I have long termed the “cliquish” or “fannish” reaction to this the “herd instinct” in our society. There are very few anchors to the past, so many just drift from trend to trend, fad to fad, mobbing up in “rebellious” ways, where the members of these dysfunctional tribes look so much alike because they are desperately seeking some belonging: the Hippies, Punks, Bikers, Yuppies, Goths, Hip-Hoppers, Jocks as a few examples.

Then there are the “role players” where one creates a fantasy life to plug in the spiritual chasms. In and of itself this need not be bad (“sleep walking” through life, as it were), except when combined with a need to control, then disruptions can occur (but a healthy community will see the attempted manipulation and react accordingly). Also there are those looking to create a family where on has not or does not exist. We are reminded that while a Léode may contain families, it is not and cannot, be a family substitute.

In the next chapter we are shown the signs to look for those trifling with the Léode as an underlying cause “When Things Go Wrong…” Most triflers are simply dilettantes, looking for the “flavor of the month” spiritual path, here at this Blót or Moot, gone the next.

The others are a danger to the Léode, as they want to control without seeming to control, being a “Master of Puppets.” They are present, not due to some social, religious or spiritual need, but some weird, vampiric ego, which feeds on strife. The trifler has no core, so looks at those who do as having “silly, pretentious conceits” which offend or bore him. Suffice it to say that an adventurer such as this begs off from any responsible position, but excels in leaving knives implanted without fingerprints, all big eyes and “who me” innocent smiles. A crafty Dryhten will be on guard, and almost expect this sort of interference over the course of time.

Another type of trifler is the “Agenda Monger…” This creature seeks to distort the Léode for his own socio-political purposes, usually because he was a very small fish in the ocean of the “movement” from whence he came. Predominantly, this has been an attack by those ideologically to the “Left” of the host community (Gay Rightist's, Greens, Militant Feminists and so forth), though a few “Rightists” (mainly White Supremacists and neo-Fascists) have tried to inject their agenda into Alternative Religions also. The main guard against this is Retro-Heathenry being Religious, not Political or Ideological in nature. Also having a well-read, wise core of leaders in the Léode, the Dryhten and Wizards, will help keep intrusions into the life of the community to a bare minimum.

We are again introduced to the idea of the Thyle being the point man for fending off these attackers, leaving the Dryhten as a leader unstained by such dealings.

A few words are again given about the role of women.

“The Thew of Leadership” is next explained, and is as important as good followership. Leadership is an inborn talent, not necessarily correlating to good character (current occupant of the White House an example). The folk are supremely able at choosing good leaders, but lousy at judging character. All good leaders possess these few attributes: the Talent for leadership, an analytical intelligence or talent for choosing the right course of action, good character (be a hard worker, able to sacrifice own ambitions to the good of the community, disdain for personal power, asf), and a thirst for Wisdom of Odinic proportions.

The wise Dryhten must also be able recognize the character of his people and keep a hands off approach as much as possible.

Heathen leadership, unlike the great American level playing field is a natural process of the most able riding to the fore. For many Americans entering Heathenry, this is a difficult concept to grasp, that the “we're all equal” mythos of the host culture is false, and that politics are (should be) nonexistent in the Léode. (I'm still not sure of my grasp on the concepts in this section.)

The final group dynamic to which we are introduced is “Choices.” The choices the folk must make and the choices the Dryhten and other leaders must make, especially about admitting new members, which a wise Dryhten should not do on his own. After the probationary period, a Folk Moot should be called and the people must decide, that way the Dryhten can dispassionately rid the Léode of the person if they become disruptive and folk action does not correct the behavior.

Other issues, the Dryhten must be able to discern which should be put before the folk and which he must take care of himself, hence the need for good Wizards (wise advisers). Sometimes the best course of action is to “decide not to decide. Sometimes a matter will resolve itself, or may be made worse by interference - either the Dryhten or Folk can initiate the “non-decision.” But the folk do look to their leaders to lead; a light hand on the reins is urged, leaving the community self-regulating as much as possible.

In section 5 we are introduced to the Théodish manner of “Blóts and Fainings.” There exists no “Book of Shadows,” no “Catechism” of High Théodish worship. As much as possible, it is an oral tradition, like that of the Honored Ancestors. This is much more personal than dusty words on musty paper, a live tradition beyond the control of any one authority. These chapters are presented for the Greater Théodsman who does not have access to that tradition.

Oddly enough the supporting material is entitled “Blóts and Fainings” and “Faining: An Outline.” Quite simply these two chapters set forth the Théodish method of worship and communing with the Holy Ones. They explain the elements of a Blót, Faining being the day of Celebration, perhaps having several Blóts over the course of the day. Théodish practice is to be as melodic, as poetically significant as possible, utilizing an Elder Tongue if possible (though the Holy Ones speak the Modern Tongues quite well). A good Faining should include feasting and Symbel as a good conclusion to the celebration. Suggestions for the lone Théodsman are given.

The final section is entitled “When Things Go Right,” a gladsome title. Our relationship to the Holy Ones is familial, unlike the desert religions where one is chattel of “God.” Our intellect is not Godly, but we can add to Orlay by observing the holy days and remembering that our religion is our life and that living a worthy life is a religious act. If we do our duty, the Gods see us, if we don't, well they don't.

The first chapter here addresses “The Decorum of A Léode.” The main point to consider here is that the social structure of a Théodish Léode is fairly strict, though upward movement due to ability is inherent therein. Courtliness in personal manner and mode of address is the order of the day (SCAdians in the audience will be familiar with this). Milord, Milady, Edmund Thane, Gunnora Thygen, Piparskeggr Godmon - polite forms of address help to build a sense of community and Frith, and place within the structure of the community. It also shows a personal sense of propriety in the speaker.

This is not to say that a Théodish gathering is stuffy, far from it in my personal experience. Théodsmen take their religion seriously, too seriously not to have the joy of it.

Which leads us to “The Philosophical Implications of Théodism.” The main thrust of the book thus far has been the “whats” of Théodism instead of the “whys.” As the author points out, this is how the religion itself developed, the forms were set and the substance was discovered in the building. In “Christianized” society, religion is set apart from one's personal substance, one hour a week in “God's house” and the obligation is done.

In Heathenry, we are the Gods and They are us, part and parcel of each other, our obligation exists with each waking breath. Théodism is presented as a product of an irrational, revolutionary strain of thought and belief, that is relying on instinct and intuition in a religiously, sociologically “radical” manner. Within this “radicalism” is the train of thought that Théodism is pre-American, as it stems from ancient Folkways, of which America is bereft. Being a reason why such “micro-communities” as Théodism have arisen, people need a sense of place.


“The Great Good Place' which each of us needs for a full life. For me, it's a corner tavern to which I go with my hunting buddy for a few pints and some good conversation. The concept in this chapter really struck home with me. I know these places, having been lucky enough to grow up in a fairly small town where the concept of home, work and “Good Place” were part of the local ethos. I knew that I was a man when my dad brought me down to the tavern for a beer and to meet his buddies. There was a sense of community, a sense of completeness, which my joining in the Heathen Community enlarged, or, rather, came home to, having lived in places without the benefit of a “Place.”

This book is capped off with an essay on “The Sociological implications of Théodism.” We are treated to a comparison of the factors affecting the origin of the Germanic Worldview versus the Levantine (from whence come the Judeo-Christian-Moslem mindset). Also why Christianity caught on and spread, and why the True Nature of northern peoples is re-awakening. Again, I write some words unable to show the true measure of the author's purpose, this chapter would, I think stand on its own.

Not much more to cover. The “Afterward” reminds us the Théodism is a wisdom tradition based upon ancient lore, and that there is much left to discover. We are treated to an essay by Eric Lord on the Holy Ones of the North, presented with a “Wordhoard” of what may be unfamiliar terms, given an article -“The Wheel of the Year” - which presents the High Théodish sacred calender and its basis. Finally we have the “Bookhoard” of recommended readings and the Index.

All in all, a book I shall have to read several more times and one which I recommend to others.

May. 16th, 2010

05:45 pm - Another Poem of Journeying...

It was over a decade ago when I was a guest of Garman Lord and his Folk at the Winland Rice Litha gathering. I was quite taken by the Theodish use of poetry and song within their offerings to the Holy Powers, and within their entertainments. I also learned of the concepts of Poetic Significance and how better to listen to the inspirations around and within me.

One of my fellow AFA members posted a poem to our membership forums and a line really stuck with me: "Memories I never knew." It jogged a bit of a hint of memory from very long ago...

Didn't, then Did - 16 May 2010

In Memories I've never Had
And in the Lore I've never Known
And in the Thoughts, Unborn, Undreamt
I found Myself, my Heart, My Folk

One night I walked, beyond this world
Seeking something, knowing nothing
Looking, I think, for someone who
Could show the way to find my core

The path was dark, the air was thick
As if I fought through wool filled hall
My breath grew short, but steps were firm
To get through this and find an end

My mind was blank of complete thoughts
My heart beat fast, like cadence drum
My spirit lay, like fallow field
Waiting for plough and seed and rain

Who it was, and, what they were
I had no flash, no view, no faith
Yet with each breath, I did have hope
To find those who would Know and Say

My hands punched through into thin air
I found myself upon a lea
Grasses, flowers, beneath blue sky
Twas full sunlight, yet no sun shone

At first no noise came to my ear
Then faintly grew a great horn's call
I followed notes across those fields
Unto a gate set in the air

The posts were pale and shaped like men
The lintel piece was made of bone
The planks, dark red, as if of blood
Were banded by three straps of gold

The fanfare came from close within
Commanding, mournful, joyful, too
Then notes rang out in final peal
Silence fell hard and laid me flat

Then manikins' eyes glowed, dully, bright
They seemed to turn towards the door
Their hands reached out, each grasped a band
And slid the boards into themselves

My wits had fled upon this sight
I lay awestruck, insensate, stunned
But through this fog I still could see
The sky grow dim, as if cloud-filled

A darker shadow flowed o'er me
Twas cast by two who strode from gate
One knelt and placed its hand on mine
The other knelt and touched my brow

This one is young, the first one said
And lost his way, the other spake
He knows a lack and feels a lack
And seeks to find, how to full fill

The time has not yet come for us
To let him in, to fill his heart
His trek has just taken first step
He must be sent back to his life

They raised me up and turned me round
My eyes could not grasp more than glimpse
Man and Woman they seemed to me
But so much more, I felt a spark

His mind is roused came Mannish voice
He starts to wake She did reply
He knows to ask, he knows to think
He'll find his way to where he must

My eyesight cleared and this was gone
I stared into my darkened room
Alone with thoughts of fading dream
Where had I been What had I seen

I drifted off to dreamless sleep
Awoke in with sun and went from there
Outside in world, inside with self
Asking, thinking, seeking, being

And then one night I walked again
Beyond this world unto a place
An Old One sat by fireside
He read my heart and took me in

In Memories I've never Had
And in the Lore I've never Known
And in the Thoughts, Unborn, Undreamt
I found Myself, my Heart, My Folk

May. 1st, 2010

09:22 pm - Thinking about my dad, again...

Well, just over 8 weeks since he died and just under 8 weeks since we buried hm.

The wound is deeper and fresher than I realized, my feelings tested worst than I'd admitted.

I do a lot of my thinking "aloud," by writing poetry.

I wrote this morning, looking to sort things out for myself...

Grey Muse

 

Through the tears in my soul;

Came the tears to my eyes.

And pale was my heart

As I walked past the Pale

 

The journey was bleak

As I strode alone

Beneath the wan light

Of an ashy grey sky.

 

The path was dusty

Though no mark I left

My foot falls were muffled

As if I were naught

 

Ahead was a sight

The same as behind

From darkness I came

To darkness I trekked

 

Then off to the side

A spark danced afar

Tiny, actinic

Attracting my eyes

 

The light seemed to call

Alter your course

Get out of this path

Take hold of yourself

 

My body felt leaden

Fighting the thoughts

Of turning aside

And leaving the gloom

 

My Self shrieked at Me

As if the effort

Were causing great pain

Great fear and great burden

 

But I slowly turned

As I sensed the Right

That following flare

Was best thing to do

 

The ground seemed to heal

As I left the dust

And finally my feet

Were buried in grass

 

I looked behind

The darkness was clear

A part of my past

Perhaps journey's end

 

But something inside

Had known all along

That I still had life

And things I must do

 

The dark had been quiet,

Calming and kind

The easiest path

For me, myself and I

 

But that's not the way

I had learned to walk

Not easiest path

But being and doing

 

The light's where I am

It's where I will stay

Though I know that the dark

Ever will lurk

 

Through the tears in my soul;

Came the tears to my eyes.

And pale was my heart

As I walked past the Pale

Current Location: Catamount Grange
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Metalica: Hero of the Day

Mar. 6th, 2010

11:15 am - Stewart John Robinson - an elegy

My dad was born on 25 February 1935 a little before 8 in the morning.
My dad died on 25 February 2010, a little before 8 in the morning.

Turning 75 was the last, big goal he had.

He was sitting in his comfy chair, having refused to go to bed the evening before when mom and I tried to help him up.

He was tired of fighting, tired of not being the one to help others, tired of not being able to do for himself those basic things we all take for granted.

I help moderate a list for new members of the AFA, we answer their questions, pose those of our own and like to give examples...I was trying to write a poem of how to know a worthy life and my dad came to mind (this was written several days before he passed - [Copyright 7 February 2010, Steven P Robinson] ).  My mom, seeking to protect me, had not let me know that dad was in hospice care.  I went home expecting a birthday party, and got a Parting instead.

It is what it is...

He taught me that "woulda," "shoulda," and "coulda" are the three most toxic words in the English language.

Heck, I think think he passed on when he did to make it easier on everyone, as we were gathering for his birthday anyhow.

Here's the full eulogy I spoke at his Funeral Mass, which began 10 AM, 1 March, 2010. Even the priest (who did know my dad a little) thought it was good.

One thing I did not say; my dad, Stewart, was a man of deep faith in the Holy as he saw It, which was Roman Catholic in worldview. He was devout, but he accepted (not merely tolerated) that folks, including his children, believed different. He told me and my siblings so.

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I try to understand the world around me and do a lot of my thinking by writing poetry.

In trying to understand my dad's life as an example of a worthwhile life, I wrote the following, and a few other observations.

Tell me, Show me...

You can tell a man, but not too much,
Unless he is ready to hear.
You can show a man, but not too much,
Unless he is ready to see.

This is the way the wide world turns,
Between the skies and the waters;
That some will live their life in full,
And others will merely survive.

How does one live a worthy life,
And craft strong Fate and gain good Luck?
How does one know a worthy life,
And speak true words for common good?

It starts at birth in Family,
To parents dear, who'll raise you up,
To learn and grow, to know your Folk,
To find a way to better self.

Among the things from Kin and Kith,
Which shape the thoughts we have of world,
We gain beliefs and points of view,
Which shape the way we face each day.

And as we grow from Childhood,
To Youth, to Teen and then Adult,
We gain more thoughts from wider world,
To goad the mind, become more whole.

But roots we have from Kin and Kith,
They'll hold us fast, if we hold on,
To good, true ways with wisdom's strength,
Take care of those we know and love.

Take hold, take care, be strong, be true,
To learn and think, to speak and do,
In this we'll gain, build up good Name,
For this is heart of worthy life.

And at the end of all our years,
When we tread on that Final Walk,
And stand before our Holy Ones,
Upright and proud, as well we should.

You can tell a man, but not too much,
Unless he is ready to hear.
You can show a man, but not too much,
Unless he is ready to see.

This is the way the wide world turns,
Between the skies and the waters;
That some will live their life in full,
And others will merely survive.

My dad was not a survivor, he lived life in full.

He was his own man, who did right by family, friends and community.

He was proud, but not prideful.

He was private, but shared of himself.

He wanted stability, but accepted difference.

He was reserved, but he trusted.

He loved words, but wasn't wordy.

He was wealthy in the things that matter most.

I am proud to be his son and did well enough to earn his pride in me.

He always seemed to have a plan, and always left on time.

Dad, thanks for stopping by...

(and as I passed his casket on the way back to my seat, I paused, placed my hand over him and said...)

So long, Old Scout, you can walk in the woods whenever you want now...

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

Feb. 20th, 2010

08:53 am - Long time - no Pip...

It's been a few months since I've written anything here.

Many of my readers know me from other "places" and are likely aware of what is transpiring.

The last week of June, I had this terribly strong feeling that I needed to go home to Massachusetts for a visit. My wife and I were planning on doing so to be at my niece's wedding the 1st weekend of October. But, I had this overwhelming notion that if I did not go at the beginning of July, there would be someone close to me who would not be there in October.

It was a good visit...even had a spontaneous day with my dad (he's a man of habit, routine and planning). I had been telling him of some of the genealogy research I'd been doing. A name I mentioned sparked his memory...all of a sudden he offers to take a day trip, drive up to the village where my great grandmother (Mary Francis Burke nee Brady) was born. He'd recalled attending the funeral of one of her cousins in 1951, when he was 16.

We spent several hours there (Williamsburg and Haydenville), driving around the area and then we stopped at the cemetery. We found the cousin's grave, along with several others I could match with names in my research notes.

Dad had a bad cough and seemed to tire more easily than usual; losing weight, too. Mom and I worked on him to go see the doctor. He did the week after I returned to Illinois.

He'd been walking around with a pneumonia infection. During the followup for that treatment (at the end of August), they found a lemon-sized tumor in his right lung, located around the pulmonary artery, which had been masked by the pneumonia.

Preliminary treatments started; 2nd chemo was the Monday after the Wedding. Chemo was chosen because there was evidence that the cancer had spread some after the X-ray - MRI - PET - CAT - Blood Panel series was done. When it was just the big tumor, they were looking at targeted radiation. The doctors offered no false hope; when found, the cancer was already Stage 4.

Dad had a good day for the gathering...was alert and engaged during the ceremony (11 AM), ate his dinner and stayed until 9 PM at the reception afterwards. He slept most of the day afterwards and was cranky when awake.

I also got him over to his brother's house, the first time they'd been able to visit in person since July, Uncle Ed has very bad circulation in his legs and can not walk much. I also found my great grandmother Robinson's grave and brought my dad to see her. She died 4 years before he was born.

Things seemed to be going well, but the chemo did little save kick the snot out of him...

Thanksgiving was another good day for him, but he collapsed on that Saturday.

I went home again at the beginning of December. Frankly, death warmed over would have looked better. The doctors (with dad's participation) stopped chemo and put him on palliative medications, including steroids to combat inflammation. They also decided to try targeted radiation. By the end of this visit he was well enough to be transferred to an acute care facility. Uncle Ed was doing well enough that he visited dad in the hospital (the day before the transfer to the nursing facility).

Dad was home again after a couple of weeks, effecting his desire to spend the Christmas and New Year's Holidays at home. He wanted my nieces and nephews to remember him at home, rather than in hospital or nursing facility.

They are all old enough (youngest is 19) to have a raft of good memories, regardless.

The radiation did shrink the main tumor, so he was able to be home. My sister and nephews adapted my parents' 4-season porch (just off the kitchen) into a "bedsitter" for him. There is also a bathroom just off the kitchen, so he's got a little "apartment."

Dad had a set back last month, was back in hospital and then the same nursing facility...a lung infection, which did respond to treatment.

He is back home, responding to the continued palliative treatments.

Mom says he's happy; got his TV, books, crossword puzzles, just enough company. He's gotten more emotional, she said. I think the illness has just uncapped the feelings he's kept in reserve all his life.

He does have a few goals still; 1st one is this coming Thursday, his 75th birthday. I am flying back to spend it with him. Next will be my parents' 54th Wedding Anniversary at the beginning of June, mom's birthday at the end of June and the birth of his first great grandchild, sometime in July.

At the beginning of December, the doctors gave him 3 months. The way he's not just hanging on, but doing remarkably well...I think he'll make it to holding the child in July.

It will be an opportunity for us to have a 5 generation picture, as my mother's father is still with us. He'll be 99 the beginning of June and is relatively healthy for his age.

Latest sign of some fight left in him; he wants a kitten.

As for me, I'm coming out of a bout with depression, again. Hard to feel 100% when your dad's on the final leg of the journey...

Current Location: Catamount Grange
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: Clannad, Tannahill Weavers, Chieftains, Wolfstone, Dropkick Murphys

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