When the gale blows hew wood, | in fair winds seek the water;
Now we are going to get into the idea of work. But this is not the break neck pace of forced labor, nor is it the sanitized for safety type of effort the hard work of refineries, power plants, logging, commercial fishing and mining is. Those guys make good money, but they spend the majority of their time waiting on safety clearances. They are working against the grain in very dangerous occupations where the very air they are breathing is toxic to humans. The metals they are working with are poisonous to humans if the welding fumes enter the bloodstream, and the liquids run the gamut from slight irritants to the skin, to acids and bases which will assure a painful death with sufficient exposure. Yet we are told every day that our young people should learn a trade. To commit themselves to the same ideas which created diseases that have taken the lives of the last three to four generations. We tell them that they need to be able to make that money. We show them how with just a little bit of money they might use substantially more of someone else’s in their attempt to fit in with the rest of society. The great treasonous effort that we ensure they understand the process, along with the need for a job when they go to college, culminates when they receive their first line of credit in the form of a student loan. And just like the frog who will sit still in the pot if you but turn the heat up slowly until he boils and dies. So too, are our children, who are enthralled with the customs of comfort, luxury, and the latest fashion succumb slowly to a life of the laborer. Fed by the hope that someday, all of this will be paid off and in the meantime, my outward appearance will be acceptable to the world. Yet the inside withers and dies. Along comes a faith which makes the state of being of the civilized man, tolerable. I wouldn’t say that this is how you hew wood when the wind blows. It is the nature of our ancestors, those the civilized men in all of their fine trappings called savages, to live in fine assemblies of materials as nature provided. Each man owned a place where he might be dry and protected from the elements. By today’s standards, these people lived in dirt floor shacks as pointed out by Tactitus, but they owned this facility they called home and could up and leave it if they so wished to build another just like it, in another location. The barbarous condition of the man who must pay to live on the earth upon which he was born is one of spiritual desolation, for his concerns are upon making sure he has enough money to give to someone else. While the savage, who is free, might turn his eyes once more to the heavens, to actually see the forest, to hear the birds sing and to understand again what it means when the wind blows. Theirs is a life of spiritual freedom and they may enjoy a peace few of us never will unless we focus our hearts and minds upon understanding that this simple time and limited resources are not a curse, but a blessing which allows us to seek the gods on their terms and not our own.
No matter how hard you work, no matter how many hours you trade for someone else’s dollars, there is always a hand stuck out to make sure they get a piece of your action as well. This line is about a way of life which is alien to a large portion of the first world. In the absence of the savage as a first-hand example, let’s talk about the men and women who work the earth. These folk are no longer valued but are worth so much more than any of the combined trades put together. Ask any Rhodesian and he will tell you. They thought it would be a good idea to kill all the white farmers, they are still doing it, and now they import the majority of their food. We are going to discuss the people who know how to work with the land.
I’m talking about working with the land and knowing the sea, in both instances a man needs to understand the cycles of the weather. Farming is more than making a living; it is about life itself and the connection of people to the world in which they live. During the Industrial Revolution, many a poor soul sacrificed the family farm to begin a harvest of the comfort they knew would follow if they found good jobs. Little did they know that four or five generations later, their descendants would be spiritually bankrupt as a people and set about to rediscover their heritage. But the idea of working with the earth also imparts upon the reader that there may be more depth to this than just putting a few seeds in the dirt. There are lots of people who plant gardens. But how many of them grow so many vegetables that they have plenty to share with their family and friends? This line of the stanza is at the crux of the idea “men don’t become successful doing certain things, they become successful doing things a certain way”. If you want to take it even further than that look at what wind energy has down throughout time to move mankind forward. It is still doing so with wind energy. I’m gonna get to that it a minute. But first let’s talk a little more about working with the land instead of against it.
There are no other occupations which combine, science, art and faith like working with the land will do. To understand the qualities of your soil, to be able to enrich it with the proper fertilizer from the animals you raise, to know when to plant the seeds which will feed your family, are all a blend of science and art. To plant it and walk away from it so that you might cut the wood you need for winter, to go fishing and hunting all the while hoping that one strong storm doesn’t flatten your harvest, all require that innate understanding of the flows of energy upon this world as outlined by the divine. The charming of the plow, Midsummer, Freyfaxi, the various gods and goddesses of rain, the harvest and the hunt. It’s easy to see how these ideas became such a divine aspect of a person’s life. If any one of them failed, there would be hunger and possibly death. We’ve lost that. We now live in a very comfortable and safe world, but we have sacrificed our freedom for comfort.
For most of my life, the general consensus has been that farm life was hard work, and parts of it most certainly are. When you add to that the necessity of still needing to pay someone else for your water, sewage, electricity, gas, and anything else you want to be piped into your home, any charm or romance of the country life is rapidly diminished in the eyes of the beholder.
So we find ourselves in a very unique position, we no longer wish to rely on someone else for the basic necessities of life, but we have not found the will to commit ourselves to living a life which has always been described to us as one of hardship. Even the people who have the resources necessary to extricate themselves from this dependence upon someone else for their creature comforts do not in large measure, do so. Why is that? One might posit any number of guesses, but that is just what they would be, assumptions, and depending on the mindset of the individual making them, they will most likely offer more confusing ideas concerning the nature of people and their desire for comfort than they will about a lack of freedom for the individual while other people seek power.
You have to wonder though; why would people who have the resources, do not as a group do the following, install solar on their homes, why they would not secure land patents on their property, why they would not harvest the rainwater from their homes, install aerobic septic systems and use the water for gardening, why they would not indulge in aquaponics, cattle, horses, wind energy? Why are they not taking advantage of the technology which will allow them to enjoy the same comfort they do now and free themselves from this continuous drain of resources and money. They are far closer to setting themselves free from the daily grind than most people who will read this book think that they are at this moment. They don’t care to understand the change which is upon us all. Hopefully by the end of the book that will change, but I digress.
Something else to consider is just why their societal conditioning has paid off so hands9mely while the majority of people who see it as a dream are nowhere near this idea of living. They are so content to let someone else handle necessities of living; that these ideas never enter their minds. They are comfortable, and no one is going to change anything about themselves until it causes them enough pain to want to do so. They are also subject to the capricious whim of other people and their decision making processes. And once again we find ourselves at a crossroads. Like I’ve said many times. When we venture forth; having changed the foundation of our spiritual beliefs, other parts of our being will, of a necessity, follow.
When we speak of self-reliance as one of the Nine Noble Virtues, we are not talking about making sure you have plugged yourself into the societal conditioning to toil away at whatever job you are able to procure. While that may be perceived as part of it, it is, in fact anathema to the very ideas of freedom Asatru offers to people who adopt this path. It is also a reflection on just how thoroughly and deeply your societal conditioning is. There is also a powerful incentive to begin accepting responsibility for your own energy, water, food consumption. I find the idea touched upon by this line in the stanza. Much like the farmer who will tell you to bale hay when the sun shines, Odin tells us to hew wood when the gale blows. Take responsibility for your presence on this planet. The amazing thing is that it is all right here in front of us to use and thrive as you would wish.