Thursday, April 27, 2017

Requiem for Charlemagne

In the past I've written about this man with blunt disdain, while coming to grips with the idea that he could be one of my ancestors.  To  me, he was a genocidal maniac who did what he did under the guise of "conquering the heathen and bringing him to Christ."  It appears that was probably a smoke screen picked up and promoted by the Church.  

During, before, and even after Charlemagne's life rulers ranging from chieftains to kings did not have a formal tax code to raise revenue; this came along much later.  These men had to pay their retainers/armies in order to remain in power.  Without any income, they had to get the cash from somewhere.  And that somewhere involved invading the neighboring countries and taking everything they could carry home with them.  It's often referred to as "booty," and Charlemagne was very good at taking whatever he needed from whomever had it.  According to the Royal Frankish Annals, the Saxons had much to take.  

The Saxons of the time were a stubborn lot and hated the Frankish kingdom and Charlemagne.  They wanted to be free of him and his religion.  For thirty years they struggled (the 30 year Saxon war) but had to surrender against superior numbers and munitions.  The Annals report on many occasions how the rich booty taken from the Saxons enriched Charlemagne's treasury.  These same Annals tells us that Charlemagne was constantly out campaigning, waging war, to keep his coffers full.  It appears that the bigger the ambition, the more is taken from others.  But not all that was taken was booty.  

In October 782 at a place known as Verden, Charlemagne rounded up 4,500 Saxons and executed them.  Often the reason reported and one that I have previously written about was the Saxon's rejection of Christianity and returning to their heathen religion and folkway.  That's the small potatoes, even a glossy window dressing.  The reason, possibly the only reason was that Charlemagne thought those 4,500 Saxons to be oath-breakers who deserved to die.  He felt that they rejected him (not Christianity) and that was a gross offense.  So he killed them.  It did not matter who the 4,500 Saxons were; they were Saxon and that was good enough.  He now had the "excuse" to continue the rape and plunder of Saxony.  During Charlemagne's life, the Saxons suffered the most.  And they just wanted to be free.  

It must be now said that history looks at men like Charlemagne in a positive light, while keeping his murderous activities in the closet.  History is written by the victors who prefer it this way.  So it is preferred to look at, say the Vikings, as barbarians, based on the victor's comments.  So too the Roman Legions and the victory of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest.  But as we push through time, history, like archaeology gets the proper brush and trowel treatment to reveal the real truths.  

The "requiem" used in the title is usually defined as a Catholic Church term regarding a mass said for the soul of the dead.  I wonder if the Church has said masses for Charlemagne?  And since they went along with this butcher, have they said masses for themselves?  You see, it's always about the money.

The above photo is supposedly where the slaughter of 10/782 took place.           

                                             Copyright @2017 Terry Unger  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

On Anguish, Grief, and Loss

A wallet with contents lost can be replaced.  With insurance, automobiles and homes after loss suffered can be and are replaceable.  Even fortunes gained and then lost can be replaced with planning and the right daring - do.  But the loss of a loved one, especially a child, is something that cannot be replaced.  It is as if the Midgard Serpent, Jormungandr, surrounds the human heart and squeezes the life from you.  Though sometimes, if we read the Lore literally, comfort and guidance can be found.  Balder died.  

The Bright and Beautiful One, thought invincible, was murdered (the actual physical action) by one believed to be capable of nothing.  The murder was unexpected and it was a shock.  

All-Father Odin believed that Balder's death was the greatest blow ever dealt to Gods and men; Odin and Frigg were heavy with grief.  At his funeral, Balder's wife Nanna, so grieved him that she dropped dead on the spot and then joined him on his funeral pyre.  And Balder's brother Hermod failed in his mission to gain easy release from Hel (we all go to Hel, even if for a brief period).  The Nine Worlds suffered not just from Balder's death, but from the Gods' lack of attention; the Multiverse was filled with grief.  But when Odin and Frigg reached a certain point in their suffering, they knew it was time to return to their godly responsibilities.  Following this example the other Gods returned to work.  This point can be called acceptance.  

Balder will remain in his spacious Hall within Hel until the aftermath of Ragnarok is wiped clean - a new beginning for the Nine Worlds.  Nothing can be done to alter this situation.  Balder is not coming back.  Odin and Frigg accepted this fact and returned to their godly business.  

This acceptance does not mean that they as parents do not still grieve.  It does not mean that their pain is gone or that they have forgotten their beautiful son.  It means that they have embraced the loss along with the still accompanying anguish, grief, and heart squeezing pain.  

This is a hard example to follow for anyone who has lost a child.  It is painful; letting go seems like forever.  As time moves on, the life of the lost child seems almost surreal, but it is not.  The dull pain and sense of  loss persist.  It does not leave.  But to muddle through and find joy and happiness in other things, one must follow the example of All-Father and Mother Frigg - as hard as that may be. 

          In Loving Memory of Erik "the Red" Terrysson.  Gone to Soon but Not Ever Forgotten.  

                                                  Copyright @2017 Terry Unger


Unity of a Forgotten Kind

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