The Awakening of Asatru is the first step towards enjoying the freedom this way of life has to offer. It is not just a Sunday school faith but a way of life which incorporates all aspects of the man. It is part of a set of ideas which have been around a long time. While one might claim to be a real heathen or have the understanding of a smart person regarding Norse mythology, it appears they may still be missing the point. It is always evident in their lives and their reaction to the events in their life. Asatru helped to provide me with the clarity of thought necessary to “see” what I needed to address in my life. but don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the ideas of some men smarter than I am. Plato’s allegory of the cave is a profound idea. One which I and many others have typically applied to the soft-headed groupies of various political or religious extremists around the world. Yet more and more the stunning realization that it applies to all of us is vitally important. You cannot decide where to go if you do not know where you are.
Instead of paraphrasing it, let’s take a look at this important excerpt. And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:–Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. I see.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it’ the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
Far truer. And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
True, he now
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he’s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would.
And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer, Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
In a world in which we are bombarded with ever more radical ideas and what we may surmise as certain deviations from the norm there is a school of thought which suggests we are becoming aware that we are in a cave. There seems to be ample evidence of it from the number of people who have escaped the confines of their self-imposed prisons. But society by and large considers these folk to be anomalies. Everyone may at some point give it shot. It is certainly used by individual persons seeking to alter their various and sometimes painful states of being. But it has a larger context to consider as well. It could be said that the last great dying gasp of the cave dwellers may have been experienced at the age of Aquarius during the summer of love. More and more people were encouraged to turn on, tune it and drop out. And they did. In alarming numbers. Half of a generation actively rebelled against the status quo. Sometimes violently and sometimes just because they didn’t want to be told what to do. And a polarization of mindsets began to deepen in this country. Each side creating an ever more radical dialogue which only seemed to further entrench people in their various positions. But as nature abhors a vacuum; the gap between radical positions began to fill with people who are largely unconcerned with all of this.
Today it appears that they are the majority but they are silent. Like that’s a bad thing. They remain silent because very few would wish to argue with an idiot A system has been created where people may move through life, produce very little and enjoy the same; if not more, benefits and comfort than those who persist in the effort to work hard. In many ways, it appears as if they wish to watch the unchallenging initiative of staring at the wall in a comfortable sort of way. Given the nature of this book, we have to ask ourselves “Why would we want to change that?”. More importantly. If we begin to try and change this will the results be so dramatic as to inspire others to want to do the same? I believe that they are.
This passage from The Republic Chapter VII is one of those enlightening ideas which has; from the time of its inception, allowed various men to step forward and look at the sun. Both figuratively and literally. And what good does knowing any of that do for us?
Well, for starters, you need to know where you are in order to figure out how you are going to get where you want to go. It produces for us a reference point, an allegory, with which we might take an honest look at ourselves and determine just what kind of a cave we may be in. The most amazing thing I come across whenever someone reaches out to me; is that they are not honest about where they are in life. It’s hard to do. People go to work, they have families they love, they have homes and yet whenever they look around there is the haunting realization whispering to the edges of their minds that there simply must be more. Yet most folks are like the people in the cave; they will spend an extraordinary amount of energy resisting the effort necessary to escape the life they desperately wish they could. It’s comfortable, as hellish as it may be, they understand it. From their point of view, they might even kill to protect it.
From a philosophical point of view; the truth of this argument has truly withstood the test of time. It has been a foundation upon which the liberation of individuals in various self-imposed prisons has been built. But is it really a valid argument. Isn’t there something within each of us which would remind us that there is more to life. Where is the power of faith and hope in an instance such as this? Surely such a thing could never happen to any of us.
In Stephen Hawkings’ book The Grand Design there is a powerful scientific argument which provides an interesting parallel to the Allegory of the Cave. It’s a story about a goldfish in a bowl. There is a part of M-Theory which neatly skirts the arguments of the realists and the anti-realists. It is referred to as model-dependent realism. Let’s go back to the goldfish in the bowl. If this goldfish is in a round bowl, he will perceive the world in a much different way. Yet the laws of nature and science will still apply to everything outside of the bowl. If he so chose; he would be able to make observations and document these laws as he perceives them. His model is no less valid and the evidence of his theory will hold true every single time. He does not know his perception is askew from the people on the outside of the bowl yet they are all beholden to the same laws. The same Newtonian Laws which govern our reality also govern his.
Like the goldfish or the people in the cave, many times in life our perception of any given situation is caddy wompus. In fact; I would venture to say that much of the time it is. The lens through which we perceive the world has been polished by a thousand different environmental and emotional states of being as we grew up in this world. Our responses have been shaped by our environment our heritage and the community we grew up in. Like a cowboy in New York City, he is a novelty, a fish out of water if you will. This is the extreme example but to a greater or lesser degree that same principle is in play with everyone we meet. Our actions will never be perceived by others with the same intensity with which we express them. Maybe that’s why telling someone you love them can be so challenging.
At some level, almost everyone but the most handicapped is aware of this. When I say handicapped; I am speaking of an emotionally and mentally stunted state of being beyond what the majority of people consider to be normal. As children we are made fun of for behaving in the manner we consider normal in our home. We quickly learn to hide, magnify or get rid of that conditioning. Sometimes this can be a very painful process and some few children take their lives in the midst of the confusion. One would think that it would be as clear as day that when our children are ending their own lives we might want to take a look at what is causing this. This entire stressful process to make way for the new acceptable conditioning of our friends and colleagues in the immediate vicinity is bad enough, now we have thrown in thoughts and ideas from disparate cultures all over the world via social media. Our teachers, bosses, pastors have another way in which they expect us to behave. This may not mesh up with the conditioning of our friends. In uncomfortable situations, the people standing right next to us will wonder “why did he do that?” It is all so very confusing, isn’t it? And just before we begin to realize there might be something wrong we are distracted by any number of social settings, situations, and stimulus. Advertising bombards us, magazines offer us a view of the good life and television dumbs us down. Maybe this is as good as it gets we may wonder to ourselves. So we change our jobs, our spouse, we take a vacation, we make a move, we do anything except take a good long and hard look at just exactly where we might be in life. Ask yourself this very simple question. Are you getting the results you want from your life?
Let’s take a look at another often quoted example by a man named Earl Nightingale. He suggests that if you take 100 men and follow them through life by the time they reach retirement only one or two will be wealthy, 3 or 4 may be what they refer to as financially independent, the remainder will be living much as they have throughout life and that is from paycheck to paycheck. Whether or not it is a true statistic it does seem to fall in line with the current economic situation of the haves and have nots. The top 1% of society makes 98% of the money. You have to ask yourself; are they working harder or are they smarter; has luck smiled upon them in a way we cannot fathom? Are they a part of a secret society? Where did they come from? I can tell you that an amazing amount of the very wealthiest did not finish college. The point is that there very well may be a simple idea upon which these folks grabbed ahold of that we would not. Earl Nightingale repeated a concept put forth by a turn of the century book entitled “As A Man Thinketh”
“As A Man Thinketh” has a counterpart in another popular ideology at the time sometimes called Hermetic Mysticism. The Theosophists of the time were also gaining traction with Madame Blavatsky and her book “The Secret Doctrine”. The idea behind all three of these movements was that mankind has known how to advance as far as he needs or wants to from the beginning. It was considered to be a healthy expression of life. A complete reversal of the common idea that denial of self was a pathway to salvation. It has only been recently that the correct interpretation of this denial of self has been properly interpreted as a defense against the ego of men. The hard work of keeping the ego in check, focusing upon want it is you want out life and then taking advantage of the opportunities which arise was eventually twisted out of its creative state to a competitive one. Various organizations began to tie the quality of our faith to our ability to make use of the power of the subconscious mind and its creative abilities. Hard work and the shedding of ego was boiled down to just name it and claim it; please pass the basket and make a donation. The great promise of not having to do anything for what we want has finally flowered into what we have today. We pray for rain and worry about the drought. Which idea do you suppose gets the headline. Certainly not the prayer.
This is usually where the misuse of faith comes into play. They will tell us to align our heart with the will of God and he will grant us our heart’s desire. But isn’t that kind of a circular trap? At this juncture in life, most people will begin to use faith as a band aid for the spirit of life which is bleeding out of them and call it good. It’s an “outside in” mentality which has created the most powerful workforce the world has ever seen. We are conditioned to produce results for others. The tension of this inability to express the greatest parts of ourselves is evident around us every day. There are two places most people go to deal with it. The head for the church or the bar and sometimes both and in both cases we are waiting for something out there to fix what is in here or at least make it go away for a moment. The constant reinforcement of the idea that everything which may be considered good originates outside of the individual is a hard habit to break. But it is one which should probably be the first to go. The examples of the Gods and Goddesses of Asatru are timeless examples of beings with various life struggles who have focused upon what they what to become and done so despite the odds. Once they have achieved that goal, they then associate with each other in a fine and powerful tribe of their own.
The scientific, philosophical and faith-based arguments that we have what it takes, is abundant. It’s everywhere. In fact; almost all of the great faiths of the world are in agreement that we become what we think about the most. There are thousands of books which have been written to help anyone deal with this or that issue. But very, very few of them are pointing out the fact that unless you know how to handle the most powerful tool at your disposal, your mind, any relief or success you might enjoy will be fleeting. It may last no longer than the reading of the book. Yet it appears to be a common theme or thread through the various tales we have of Odin where he must use his mind to accomplish the greatest of tasks. Even going so far as to risk his own head in a contest of wits. It appears that in his wisdom he would not even tolerate a negative thought. Why should we?
At some point, we have the imperative to figure out that we are not obligated to live a life everyone expects us live. This will usually manifest itself in a painful scenario. Many times in these situations people tend to lose friends as you might venture off in a direction which they cannot comprehend. Parents, teachers, and coworkers may very well balk at the idea that you might be able to go and accomplish great things when they haven’t figured out how too. There is a system everyone simply must abide by. They will tell you “why; you can’t do that”, “I can’t do that; what makes you think you can do that’. But if you are reading this book I will submit to you that somewhere within you, there is something which is telling you that you can. This urge is an expression of life and creativity. You owe it to yourself to finally pay attention to that voice, take control of your mind, and become what you are supposed to become. Don’t worry; while you may not find yourself surrounded by the same people you grew up with, you will find that you are not alone. Positive people always welcome positive people to their ranks. They know it doesn’t cost them anything to share a space with other people of a similar mindset. Winners stick together.
Usually, there is a catalyst to this type of profound change. Most of the time it is an unhealthy reaction to a major event in our lives. How we handle the loss of loved ones, a divorce or any number of other traumatic and stressful situations. These are always an opportunity for growth. No matter how ugly it may be. In those instances; we have a choice. And all of us do some looking. How many times have you seen others engage in a similar search? We see the hopeful memes people share on social media and we know that they are looking for something to make it go away. Yet by and large it is still the same old concept of something out there fixing what is broken in here. Even when they are pertaining to something as peaceful as the beautiful ideas expressed by Muir; it is still failing to bring about change in each of us. People will get to a point at which they are comfortable; a point at which the pain is tolerable, and there they will stop. The rewards associated with the challenge of going any further down the road of self-improvement either becomes too painful or doesn’t yield results fast enough. This is something more than having a heartfelt talk with an old friend. I’m talking about the profound change which will affect a positive state of being in all of those around us. Very often a label is put in place to categorize and neatly ignore the positive effects such a new thinking process. When someone doesn’t seem to understand what it is you are attempting to do; they will label you. It is just the way it is. It’s what we are taught in school and since most people can’t read past a 7th grade level, it is a rather disturbing thought. It is an even more painful practice. But it is attention and before people may have completed the process they will become aware of a certain much talked about status and become confused as to the real reason for all of the attention. They may foolishly surmise that they have arrived when in fact they have become the butt of many office jokes. Making our way through this type of logjam requires the courage of heroes. But it would make a whole lot more sense to change the company you keep. Find a group of people who are enjoying the fruits of doing things a certain way in their life. Find that group of people who appreciate winning and will encourage you to keep moving forward by their example and not their words. Let the others talk and drag each other down. Our task is to move past that, the stakes could not be higher. This is your life and so far as anyone knows we get one shot at it.
Despite all of the evidence to the contrary by literally millions of half-educated millionaires if the results we desire appear to take too long or if they do not provide immediate relief, they will quickly be ignored or disavowed. This is not how nature works at all, why would we ever consider it would be different with us. Are we so far removed from the natural world we live in that we have forgotten that harvests are always months away. Yes; we have, and it is time to change that before the harm done to our descendants, our planet and most importantly ourselves becomes irreparable. We have become much too accustomed to immediate gratification. It’s what we are taught in this age of a debt driven society despite our grandmothers telling us, “all good things come to those who wait”. They have all been taught to live a certain way, be judged by their efforts and actions and sometimes just the intent of action and we have all contributed to a society which subscribes to a perception of wealth based upon debt. Depending upon how much you can borrow you may or may not enjoy a comfortable living.
On a daily basis, in almost every situation, we are being given reminders that there is more to life. Our choice to engage in the powerful emotional arguments of the day are simply our way of negating our ability to use our mind. It is also a defense mechanism of the ego who wishes to exist as powerfully as does our urge to create. Put very simply we will find ourselves in dozens of situations every single day where we might push to the side or avoid these challenging ideals which will bring us forward into the light. Most of the time we are willfully choosing to stay in the dark, even worse we are resentful at others because of our own choice.
Starting at the beginning will require us to take a good long, honest look at ourselves. In the past it has always been the most desperate who have displayed the willingness to do this. It has long been held as a truth that no one is going to change anything about themselves until it causes them enough pain to want to do so. Especially if there is any semblance of success in their life at the moment. For many of the people who have chosen to read this book, that pain has led them down a different path of spirituality than the majority of the people they interact with on a daily basis. So while we may think we have neatly sidestepped the issues which have brought us to this crossroads, we have in all seriousness put the most glaring defects of character on display. We have in essence become the poster children of alternative thought for those folk who are nearest to us and this is not a trial run. Some catalyst was involved, for myself, it was failure at almost every level of being a man. I distinctly remember times when I considered it might be well to finish it, or simply to give up and wander off into the crowds of the homeless we see lining our streets on any given day. I was not put here because I had the answers, I have approached this crossroads in life and taken a new path, because I had for so long failed to recognize the dangers of the path my ego was leading me down. The easy path, not the road less traveled or even a nice path through the park. It was a path which always lead in a circle and again and again I found myself right back where I started. Each time the ruts became deeper and the fortifications I had built to protect myself became higher and higher. In that darkness the only light I could see was a dim and faint shining of the spark of life the gods had gifted me with. I discovered with a certain amount of alarm that this light emanated from within me. There came with this realization the twin sentiments of I can do something about these conditions and that now I have an obligation to do so.
The sun was still shining yet I had forgotten that I was a part of it. Many of us do, we take a path which we may not be prepared for because our egos tell us “oh yeah; you can do that!” but it never tells us where we will find the strength to do it or how to handle the failure which inevitably comes from failing to properly prepare ourselves. That is where we start to truly develop. This is the point where we embrace the idea that the spark within us has every right to join its light to the light of the sun and shine again. The slowly dawning idea that the difficulties involved in any of the scenarios life may throw at us usually originates in a specific manner of thinking. The thought patterns society has conditioned us to expect. Usually the worst; and that’s exactly what we get. When we begin to believe that we may very well be worthy enough to enjoy the success we see other people enjoying life begins to change.
Our very manner of thinking will need to be adjusted to accept this simple fact. That we are worth it and in that moment we have begun to conquer one of those things in life which have held us back from becoming more than we ever thought possible. For decades the entire world has told us that the great beauty of the love of the christian god had originated from outside of our being. Entire libraries are dedicated to the various ideas which will convince people that they are worth that love and ultimately the gifts they all dream of and just when the magic moment of the manifestation of our dreams is to occur, we are reminded to be happy with what we have. We find ourselves in yet another circle, yet this time we are somehow capable of putting a smile on our face and plug along like one of the seven dwarfs in Snow White. Our pagan beliefs have been whispering to the peoples of the world for a long time now, reminding us that we do not need the permission of another to achieve our dreams, to feel that we are loved, or to feel that we might truly enjoy a connection to the world around us. We have begun to conquer ourselves, a sacrifice of ourselves to ourselves in order to pick up the concepts of our faith and sing new songs of our old ancestors. It is right there in front of us. Example after example of believing in who we are to achieve whatever we may desire. Because it does not have to stop at just turning things around. We can continue this train of thought to the reaches of our imagination. If it has brought you this far, what makes you think it won’t take you all of the way? We are starting at the beginning because it is the only place from which we may start and it does not matter how ugly the situation in your life may be. We have what it takes to go after our dreams.