I wake up early, mostly before Sunna rises, and sometimes when Sky is graced by first light. Breath is life, so while still abed, I circulate the Life Force through my body: Inhaling Deeply .. Exhaling Completely. I gently stretch while horizontal, awakening the spine, joints, and muscles. I hear the birds start their Morning Song as I leap out of bed – blood pumped, body relaxed, mind alert.
Calm the heart and mind – calm and deep – that opens to all forms of might.
Bliss is in moments: the calm of morning before the house awakens;
waving grain; or awaiting the Sun’s taking off the dew before the scythe –
moments are bliss, or it is not at all.
Seiðr Sprëhhan 11 (forthcoming)
I embrace my love, and we drink coffee or tea in quiet. We feed and water the
Wihts, in quiet. We eat breakfast, mostly in quiet, and mindful of the day’s activities.
The unwise man conceited stays awake all night and
thinks himself wise on anything whatever.
Then exhausted when morning comes,
all that was wretched still is.
At first day’s beginning does he rise,
that one who would falsely have your wealth and life.
The lying wolf seldom gets the thigh-meat –
not to the sleeping man victory.
-Hávamál 23 and 58
Life is found in deliberation. More often than not, I see those who are mentally checked-out, who are not aware of the world around them, but caught staring at the shadows in their mind.
There are two fundamental ways to view the world: default and direct. And true to Galdric alliteration, both are Dag / Doorways.
-Living by Default: One sits outside on a blue-sky day, there is a cool breeze and the birds are singing. The mind looks at the sky and thinks: ‘It’s hot .. I could drink a cold beer.’ The body feels the breeze and thinks: ‘Summer is almost over. Wonder if winter will bring lots of snow.’ At the sound of birds, one gives barely a notice or care that there is a Language being spoken.
-Living Direct: One sits outside on a blue-sky day, there is a cool breeze and the birds are singing. The mind looks at the sky and thinks: Nothing; simply enjoys the color. The body feels the breeze and thinks: Nothing; simply enjoys the sensation. At the sound of birds, one casually listens to what is said.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.
-Henry David Thoreau
Walden, chapter 2, 16
I never saw a separation between the body and the mind; so over the years, I have tended to write: bodymind. My approach to Heathenry is informed by this; and I have found this idea expressed in various references of those texts that have remained with us. Hávamál, from its first verse, speaks of the need for situational awareness; equally as it warns of the “unwise” and “fat” men.
The greedy man, except he is aware of his mind,
eats himself a life of sorrow.
Often grasping with both hands, coming among the wise,
he is a laughing stock –
the man with a foolish fat belly.
Herds know when they should draw near their abode,
and walk away from their grass.
But the unwise man never knows –
his excessive speech and belly.
The utterly wretched man is ill tempered,
laughing at anything whatever.
He has not hit upon his own need for mindfulness,
seeing no blemish in himself.
The wisdom of yore is that the body and mind are connected, ‘yoked’ even. If so, the caring for the body is a mindful or spiritual deed. Today in Heathenry many will say ‘Hail’ as a greeting, and after a horn’s raising, proclaim ‘Hail’ as an affirmation. More than ‘hello’ or ‘cheers’, the word means “health, prosperity, good luck; be healthy; be whole; be in good health”.
It is said that today, we live in a ‘land of abundance’, supposedly in contrast to our ancestors, who lived in a time of ‘scarcity’. However, since the early 1980s, the average weight of both men and women in the Western world has steadily risen. This means, for the last 30 plus years, the perception of obesity has gone from ‘epidemic’ to ‘fat acceptance’. This tells me that the average adult today has consigned their self to being “fit and fat”; even as the research confirms otherwise.
So, if the body is a reflection of the mind – as the Old Europeans contended, and is stressed in several world cultures – what connection does that growing girth have on the mind / spirit? Are fat people capable of being mindful / spiritual?
Let’s be honest: If your weight makes you suffer, then being too fat will stop, or slow down, your spiritual process and progress. However, this takes more than simply reconnecting with the physical body, because, our society is stacked against us. The food and food stuffs available to us are contributing to the obesity rate. This is undeniable. Things like:
-Pesticide laden crops and livestock (and other endocrine disrupters);
-Sugar. substitutes; and
-Industry and government labeling and marketing is confusing and/or misleading.
What then is the solution? Is it simply enough to lose weight? The goal is connecting with the body, so the experience received through the senses is Direct. If the body can be said to be a ‘temple’, and the physical self a manifestation of the Higher Self / Soul / Spirit, then the body is our connecting thread to the Earth plane – to the Mother. Without Her there is no physical existence. The Earth has all that is nourishing, protective, and informative, and our body-sense is keenly evolved to be receptive to its vibratory and energetic environmental messages. As such, our physical form should be an expression of Earth Mother’s profound beauty. Hijacked by ego, or derailed by the availability of real food, it is one’s unique responsibility to take charge of the physical form; to be self- and Self-responsible.
The body is our greatest communication device with the Divine – which is manifest all about us. And if you are uncomfortable reading this, then look to the world around you for answers and guidance; where do you see an animal that sleeps late, that is obese, that is non-active, that is unaware of its surroundings, that is not an integral and viable component of its biosystem?
Heathens and Pagans alike talk of “animal guides”, or the animal aspect of their fetch. I see mentioned wolf or raven, boar or stag, yet, these are not overweight in the wild. Likewise, I hear Heathens and Pagans talk about their ‘personal god’ or ‘patron god’, but to what degree is that image emulated? If one upholds the idea of an animal or god as ‘sacred’ or worthy of mirroring one’s self upon, should that not include a challenge to follow that example physically?
Scarcity, hardship, direct necessity: these were the woodsman’s companions.
Once his axe struck hoard beneath an ancient oak, as had been set in olden time.
Into a hall – to hold a hall – he took companions.
Hungry he was, and table high with breads and boards of meat.
Why, wot they, of him, pushed away from table?
“Act ever scarce”, he thought, “pare wanting to the musts,
and always I’ll have enough. Embracing want, would ever want again.”
-Seiðr Sprëhhan 15