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Monday, March 25, 2013

A FARMBOY AND FATHERHOOD

I have been at the birth of two of my children. The first miracle is the miracle of birth; the second is that I’m still alive after the first time. Before I was allowed anywhere near the hospital for the birth of our second I had to swear a solemn oath, more sacred than the one I swore at our wedding, that I would behave.
I left school when I was 15 and went to work on farms. I travelled quite a bit, even as a teenager, around Wales and Scotland. I learned a lot about farming, mostly cattle and sheep, a little with horses and some with pigs. I was also around to help with the birthing, so seeing a woman have a baby was nothing to me; after all, I’d helped with the birthing of all kinds of animals so how different could it be. A word here to any young man who may be as na├»ve as I was, women can be very cranky when they are in labor. I’ve helped some fussy animals in my time, I nearly was kicked more than once by a mare and I nearly got my hand bit off by a bitch I was being helpful to but women have them all beat.
My wife and I both got married late in life. Due to circumstances I am sure were beyond my control I found myself in California, married and waiting the birth of our first child. A year and seven days after our wedding the moment arrived. We went off to the Kaiser Permanante hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles where I was told I could be in attendance for the birth. It had been many years since I had worked on the farm but I was sure my birthing skills had not deserted me.
For the city folk who may be reading this I should explain that four legged animals are born with their front hooves coming out first followed by the head between the shoulders. Sometimes the mother has trouble giving birth so it becomes necessary to tie some twine around the young ones hooves and gently ease it on out. So I told the doctor I would be proud and happy to help and if he would pass me the ball of twine I’d stand by, ready to give it the old Heave-Ho. This offer of assistance did not find favor with my wife who was threatening to make room on Earth for a new human by getting rid of an old one. Like I said, cranky.
Well, it seems that the poor dear was having a very difficult time of it and after about three hours of struggling the doctor decided she would have to have a cesarean. I wasn’t happy about that but I understood that what has to be done should be done. My mind went back to my farm days and how I would help the vet with this procedure. The mother would be injected with Novocain prior to the operation. A four legged animal cannot rise to its feet if its head is held to the ground. I would hold her down while the vet performed the cesarean. The doctor quickly informed me that it would not be necessary in this case, my wife only having two legs and the ability to understand that she is to lie still.
In the hospital room I was doing my best to comfort her. The poor thing was wired everywhere. There was a blood pressure monitor, a heart monitor, Demerol was being fed into her and an I V and I’m not sure what else while preparations were being made. I was standing over her, holding her hand and doing my best to be comforting when she muttered something. She was drugged up and I couldn’t hear it so I just said;
"It’s alright love, I’m here you don’t have to worry.” Then she muttered something again, I took a wild guess at what she was saying and I replied;
"I know and I love you too” She kept on muttering so I leaned down close and said “What is it you’re trying to say?” She said
“You’re standing on the I V”
It came time at last to go into the operating room and I was there like a trooper cheering her on. “You are doing great” I said cheerily. “So you’re a doctor now?” was the reply. Like I said, women are cranky around times like this.
There was a program on television around this time called “Chicago Hope” and in that the surgeons always played music in the operating theatre. I was looking forward to some Rock and Roll, though I was willing to accept heavy metal. I was surprised that there were no sounds. As I was mentioning this to the doctor my wife, in her drug induced state, was saying “I can’t believe he said that”
Finally our son was born, a fine healthy boy. My wife asked me if it was a boy and I replied, with admiration in my voice “Hell yeah! He’s born with a bigger one than my grandpa died with.” He’s a fine healthy boy today; he’s taller than me, well educated and a good son. The other day he came home with his school report card. He had an “A” in everything but a “B” in English. I told him I was very proud of him. No Welsh boy should ever get more than a “B” in English.

 

 

Monday, March 11, 2013

THE WISDOM OF ODIN

          Odin stands unique amongst Gods. He doesn’t claim to know everything. In fact Odin is always seeking out greater and deeper wisdom and knowledge. Within Germanic, frequently miss-spoken of as Norse, mythology, Odin knows that one day he will die. In the great and final battle of Ragnarok it is prophesied He will be kiled by the Wolf, Fenrir. This does not in any way hold him back. Odin lives with vigor and there is a zest for life in all the stories associated with Him and the rest of the Aesir, the race of Gods. Significantly he seeks to deepen his wisdom and knowledge. An example of this is the tale of how he obtained the wisdom of the deep and gave the price demanded without grudge or hesitation.
                                                 HOW ODIN LOST HIS EYE
            Above all else Odin desired knowledge and wisdom. The All-Father of Gods and man sat on his throne in Asgard, his all-seeing eyes showing him all that took place in all the nine worlds. His Ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (Memory) brought him news of things hidden.
            It is said that there is a mighty ash tree named Yggdrasil whose branches reach up into Asgard where the mighty Aesir live while its roots sink far below the lowest depth. The Ravens brought Odin word of a sacred well hidden below the roots of Yggdrasil, where Ocean and Sky meet. This well had been guarded from before the beginning of time by the giant Mimir. To drink from this well was to obtain wisdom the like of which was nowhere to be found. So Odin approached Mimir and asked that he might drink from the well. At first the giant refused but Odin persisted and offered in payment whatever the giant might ask. First Mimir asked;
             "Why do you wish to drink from the well?"
          Odin replied; "With my all-seeing eyes I can see all that takes place in the nine worlds but I cannot see what takes place in the depths of the Ocean. The wisdom of the deep is hidden from me. The well which you guard can give me this knowledge. I am Odin and I would know all things."
          Then Mimir replied; "I will let you drink but in payment you must give one of your eyes to the well." This sacrifice the All-Father gladly made and after taking his fill of the waters of the well, he plucked out one of his eyes and cast it into the deep well where it remains today. Now it is said that any that drink from this well will have the greatest of wisdom and will also have the power of the all-seeing eye.
                                                            HAVAMAL
            It is said that Odin often walks the Earth and speaks with the people of this World. He is generally seen as an older man with a long beard, a grey cloak with a blue hood and a wide brimmed hat that is tilted down to hide his missing eye. While journeying amongst mankind He imparts his wisdom.
The following are extracts from the Havamal or The Words of the Most High. This is an Icelandic Poem dated from around 1000AD it purports to be the words and wisdom of Odin to His people.

Before one would advance through each doorway,
One must look about and peer around,
Because one can't know for sure
Where enemies sit in the hall beforehand.
There is need of fire for him who is come in
 With cold knees;
There is need of food and clothes for the man
Who has journeyed on the mountainside.

A man must not be boastful in his mind,
But wary in disposition;
When he, wise and silent, comes to the homestead,
Misfortune rarely befalls the wary,
Because man can never have a more reliable guide
Than great common sense.

Do not let a man hold on to a goblet,
But let him drink mead in moderation,
Let him talk sense or be silent.

No man blames you of bad manners,
That you go early to sleep.

The day must be praised in the evening,
A woman, when she is cremated,
A sword, when it is proven,
A maiden, when she is given away,
Ice, when it is crossed,
Ale, when it is drunk.

Often they don't precisely know, those who sit first in a house,
Whose kinsmen they are who come (later):

No man is so good that no fault follows him,
Nor so bad that he is of no use.

         The Nine Noble Virtues and the Nine Charges

From the Havamal, and it is quite a lengthy poem, have been derived the Nine Noble Virtues and the Nine Charges.

The Nine noble Virtues:
Courage
Truth
Honour
Fidelity
Discipline
Hospitality
Self Reliance
Industriousness
Perseverance

The Nine Charges were, like the Nine Noble Virtues, codified by the Odinic Rite in the 1970s.

1) To maintain candour and fidelity in love and devotion to the tried friend: though he strike me I will do him no scathe.
2) Never to make wrongsome oath: for great and grim is the reward for the breaking of plighted troth.
3) To deal not hardly with the humble and the lowly.
4) To remember the respect that is due to great age.
5) To suffer no evil to go unremedied and to fight against the enemies of Faith, Folk and Family: my foes I will fight in the field, nor will I stay to be burnt in my house.
6) To succour the friendless but to put no faith in the pledged word of a stranger people.
7) If I hear the fool's word of a drunken man I will strive not: for many a grief and the very death groweth from out such things.
8) To give kind heed to dead men: straw dead, sea dead or sword dead.
9) To abide by the enactments of lawful authority and to bear with courage the decrees of the Norns.

So if you meet a kindly old man with his hat pulled down over one eye. Pay attention to what he says and treat his words with respect. You never know who you may be talking to.