By Tree AOR
I have been in prison for 23 years. A lifetime for some, as I realized the first time I met a kid on the yard who was younger than the date of my arrest. Now there are young men around who are not as old as the tumbler I bought in San Quentin; I think about them and their future sometimes when I make a cup of tea.
My relatively short but intense life of crime ended when I killed three people under the circumstances that the jury would deem to have been murder. The same jury decided to spare me from the death penalty, sending me into the lightless tunnel of life without parole. My body was to be encased in concrete until it ran out of heartbeat; but the heart itself, the soul, the mind – those could not be chained up and locked away in a box. Once I realized that, my journey began.
I was raised an indifferent atheist, so for me, unlike many others, there was no alien religious bias to overcome. I began as a clean slate, so I looked, studied, and waited for the homecoming bell to ring deeply throughout my being when I would finally set foot on the right path. It happened when the runes led me to Odinism and again a few years later, when the path led me to the Odinic Rite. Age, experience, and education tend to breed opinions, and it is a preciously rare moment when you realize that you have found a large group of people out there who share just about every one of yours. Makes you feel like you got something right for once.
“Faith, Folk, Family” – I could go on about how I can remain focused on those goals by checking all my thoughts, words, and actions against the Nine Noble Virtues. But I don’t have to, do I? We all know it already, we all live it – as proud individualists yet together united across continents and time zones.
Being a part of the organic whole is a constant source of strength and inspiration for me. And so my natural question is, what can I offer in return for this priceless gift, in the spirit of Gebo and just basic human decency? One of the Odinic Rite’s unique qualities is that it embraces us, prisoners, allows us to become apprentice members while maintaining its “civilian,” legitimate, family-oriented identity. Other organizations either damage their viability by aggressively pursuing radical politics, or – as the unfortunate example of Valgard Murry demonstrates – sacrifice their loyalty to the incarcerated folk on the altar of official recognition by the politically correct authorities.
The Rite reaches out to us while keeping both feet firmly planted in the law-abiding society. Sure, there are times when Prison Affairs Bureau volunteers cannot keep up with what must be a constant flood of correspondence from hundreds of American prisons and jails, and the silence make us
feel a bit abandoned and cut off from the community, Still, ask not what your Rite can do for you…
Speaking strictly for myself, I am fairly sure that the OR does not take pride in having a convicted murderer on its membership rolls. So I’m not contributing to the cause simply by being an apprentice member and paying my dues at a discount. I cannot take part in the Fyrd (however much I’d enjoy that), help with the media projects, or do anything for the young ones out there. With communication being pretty spotty most of the time, I cannot reliably participate in the scholarship and discussion that goes on among the free-world membership, even by writing for the OR Briefing. What to do then? To be honest, I struggled with that question for at least a couple of years. Until the proverbial light bulb went off (see, there’s light in this tunnel after all); rewind, look back at the basics. Faith, Folk, Family. If I can do something for those three fundamentals, then by definition I would be doing something for the Odinic Rite. Right?
I serve the cause when I perform my regular rituals and daily invocations – even when, as lately, I do it alone on the nice patch of green grass I have “claimed” on this yard. I serve in when I do my best to go through my days mindfully, with the Odinic spirit and Odinist attitude in everything I do. Why? There is the esoteric purpose of bringing the energy of the true Gods of our Folk closer to this particular bit of land and the people who live on it, beginning the gradual process of reclaiming it from the alien stain. And there is also the possibility that at least one of the men looking at me will eventually ask a question, read a book, remember his heritage. Most will not – their reactions range from fear to derision – but if I can help one, my effort is not wasted.
So my example can lead some men back to the Faith, as it has done before. Others, when a few of us do come together for studies and blotar, may be lead to new discoveries by our discussions, my occasional insights and leadership efforts. Thus our Folk becomes stronger as, one man and one woman at a time, it returns to its true ways. Most of those who have stood with me at blotar throughout the years do end up getting out of prison. And even though some quickly sight of the path, there are those priceless few who continue to live the Nine Noble Virtues, work, build families, make us all proud by their accomplishments. And if I have made even the smallest
contribution to that effect, then I have done something for the Folk and for the Family as well. Because if even one man, having experienced Odinism in prison, does not run amok and victimize our folk out there, then all of our families are safer and better off: his, mine, yours …
This is what I can do for the Rite. This is the answer I have found for myself, the answer so significant and life-affirming that I wanted to share it both with those seeking meaning in life behind bars and those occasionally wondering whether PAB is a worthy investment of the OR’s energy and resources. We can give back. We do.
Incidentally, my conclusions dovetail precisely with the Ninth Charge, which often sparks heated
debates among the proudly independent outlaws in my world. Inside and outside, we abide by the enactment of lawful authority because – as the examples of our free-world comrades teach us – it is the only way to survive, to persevere, to grow and effect gradual change in the society and in the Folk consciousness. How do you convince the community of the value of the old ways if the only Odinists they know are either in prison or quickly headed back in there? Outlaws and radical revolutionaries do put up a good fight but they always crash, burn, die or end up behind bars – and then have to struggle with the question of how they can still be useful to the Faith, Folk and Family. The law-abiding Odinist community, on the other hand, is not a shooting star but a mighty forest: it grows, spreads, pushes away the stones of alien temples, and uses the thousand-year layer of imported teachings as fertilizer.
The Norns have decreed that, just as I will spend the rest of my life in a series of concrete boxes, so our Folk outside has to endure the rule of the Stranger, the age of the unnatural and the perverse. We bear those decrees with the courage and never stop looking for ways to persevere, persist, and excel within the realities set by our Wyrd.
The Folk Awakening is inevitable. The Odinic Rite stands at its forefront. I am honored and proud to be a part of this evolutionary change despite having spent decades in prison.
Hail the Rite.
Hail the Folk.