By Eowyn OR
My new role as Environmental Concerns Officer for our organisation is also a new position within the Odinic Rite. It has several important functions, all of which aim first and foremost to raise the crucial awareness of the indivisible link between health and the environment. With such awareness in place, people are then in a more empowered position to make skilful choices in relation to their health and the environment- choices which then have a positive effect on the greater whole and will help redress the current imbalances that we witness today. Precisely because these two areas are inextricably linked to all aspects of our lives and to each other, it is virtually impossible to maintain rigid compartments with this work. However, as with all things, some basic foundations are required in order that the work has some focus and therefore, tangible progress is made.
One of the most important things we as Odinists can do is to work towards adopting a lifestyle that is as much in accordance with natural law, cyclical living and the ethics of Odinism as is practically possible- but obviously within the confines of the wider cultural milieu. To a greater or lesser degree then, this is always going to seem a compromise for most folk; but no matter: every little effort in the right direction is bound through Wyrd to help and affect the greater whole. There are ways of working with these parameters that are accessible to all people, regardless of their circumstances. Simply by picking up litter off the driveway and recycling household refuse whenever possible will have an impact on the environment. Adopting a healthier approach to life will strengthen the individual Odinist, making him a healthy example of our folk and imbuing him with more dynamism to further affect the environment in a positive way. And so the effects ripple outwards and over time, a really positive impact will be made upon folk and the environment at large.
However, it is sometimes difficult to see exactly how a health or environmental problem can be approached at the individual level. In relation to health for example, there is a plethora of disinformation, which serves merely to support vested interests and a wider global agenda; the health and wellbeing of the individual is often the last consideration in the scheme of things. Further, western indoctrination by the medical system- a system that actively reinforces these global interests- means that for many people, alternative- and often safer and more healthy- approaches to personal healthcare aren’t immediately apparent. Certainly, these can be researched and many folk already do, both as individuals seeking to enhance the health of themselves and their family, or as members of a healthcare profession. However, for many people, the time required for enquires of this nature is prohibitive when they have job and family commitments. Meanwhile, others will simply find ‘more interesting’ things to do with their time, and this is natural. Hence, one of my jobs in this role is to support folk in their efforts to work towards the adoption of a healthy lifestyle in any way that I can realistically manage, so that their efforts are made easier. Currently, this includes measures such as writing relevant informational and educational articles for ORB and by being available to answer individual queries on health and environmental issues to the best of my ability.
As a group, OR members are peppered throughout the Odal lands and this actually has some merit relative to environmental issues. Most will be aware of the way in which a diverse range of ‘initiatives’ are underway throughout our lands to erode and destroy our physical heritage- our Mother Jorth- as much as our history and folk blood. There have recently been many such examples brought to our attention via the OR discussion forum. Therefore, it is imperative that all members try to be as vigilant as possible within their local areas to help prevent this encroaching devastation. Now obviously, an individual can only have an apparently minor effect upon such proceedings- but nevertheless, it will be a valuable one. And often, local activities attract protest campaigns from other local groups that an individual Odinist can involve themselves in. Hence, not only will the person aid that campaign to protect their locality, but they will also be defending our faith, folk and family and very effectively representing the OR as a collective. Hence, in my role as Environmental Concerns Officer, I encourage all folk to maintain such local awareness and do my best to support their endeavours.
As many Odinists know, ritual and meditation are powerful tools for helping to effect change- both within the self and the apparent outer circumstances. Whilst they do not replace the necessity for various types of physical action to protect folk health, the environment and animals, they will serve to enhance and add to the effects of physical efforts. Therefore, one aim will be to develop ‘ecomagick’- rituals and meditations that will help Odinists combat the forces that threaten these particular folk interests. They will also serve to strengthen our folk link to Mother Jorth, which is in accordance with Natural Law and cyclical living and is therefore protective of all.
One more long term- and ongoing- aim will be to gradually work to raise awareness amongst people currently outside Odinism of our interests in health and environmental issues. Often, when people think of a particular religion, they do not necessarily perceive that we could have an interest in these matters because orthodox monotheistic belief systems have promoted a separation of religion and the environment so profoundly in people’s psyches, that this assumption is practically endemic. Hence, we see a situation where on the one hand, people are purporting to be ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual,’ but continue to see the land, animals and environment as commodities to use and abuse as they wish. Then on the other hand, there are those working to protect the environment but who are doing so in a secular way because they haven’t seen an avenue whereby they can make the link between spirituality and environmental concern. Unfortunately, this can become unsustainable ‘high pressure’ activity because the ‘amount they do’ and their perceived ‘level of success’ in the matter becomes measured against secular value systems and thus, of paramount concern. Alternatively, plain rebellion remains the motivating- and often destructive- factor. Both these groups of people would benefit firstly from the awareness that Odinism exists and secondly, that it is a practical and evolving religion that holds health and environmental issues amongst its central concerns, thereby demonstrating that spirituality and practicality can be linked in this field. Hence, work to this end could involve activities such as having stalls and information days at relevant events or campaigns that might come to our attention- or even those that the OR incite themselves. However, any activity will most certainly not involve proselytising: this does not maintain the best interests of the OR as a folk community and risks the wasting of energies that could be better spent in more constructive activities to help the Rite.
One of the first practical endeavours will be to develop the ‘Guardians of the White Horse Stone’ project. So far, this has included a very successful clean-up day on 25th Shedding 2254 and more are planned. Planned inclusions in the days will be relevant rituals and meditations to work to strengthen the protective ‘field’ in the area. These will also help folk attending these days to return to their own localities refreshed and more aligned with the Odic energies generated by the work. In all likelihood, the days will usually include a blot and a picnic and hence, make for great family days out. In the longer term, it is hoped that more hearths and groups will adopt similar strategies in their own localities and that folk from outside the locale will offer their support whenever possible, thus spreading our protection of the Odal lands in a very practical way.
Finally, the best interests of the rite will be of paramount importance at all times. Hence, whilst it is obvious that health and environmental devastation are a global problem, the first concern must always be those issues affecting our folk and Odal lands most directly- usually those physically closest to home. Such boundaries have to be maintained if we are to be as effective as possible, otherwise we risk being swept away by the current of universality and will achieve little in our wake.
I see this aspect of the OR’s work as being central to the wellbeing of our folk and of those generations to come. Without the health of our folk, Odal lands and its creatures, the future looks to be a sorry state. And whilst we simply cannot cover every issue that affects us, every single effort to reverse the trend towards devastation will serve our faith, folk and family positively. It is my hope that others will join me in this exciting new field of work for the OR. Hence, I heartily welcome any thoughts, ideas and suggestions members might have to help make this venture a roaring success. And if anyone has an idea but is concerned it may not be ‘good enough’ in some way, remember:
‘Nothing would be done at all if a person waited until they could do it so well that no one could find fault with it’ (John Henry Newman: 1801-1890).
I look forward to serving you all in this role to the best of my ability.