Another Project by one of the Directors

Old Don: A Heathen Tale is a story written and illustrated by heathens for heathen children, and for any children that enjoy a great story! Old Don is a story about a family struggling to make ends meet, until they are visited by a large burly man who used to have a red beard and carry a hammer. This Kickstarter is your way of helping us get the book printed, with its 14 full color illustrations the book will be about 30 pages long. The main reward for backing the project is receiving a copy of the book!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/552269154/old-don-a-heathen-tale-by-josh-heath-and-jen-wagne

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Veterans Day 2013 Yule Drive

CALL TO ACTION: YULE CARE PACKAGE DRIVE

It’s that time of year again, folks! When we not only think of and honor our Veterans, but begin our Yule care package/Yule card drive for our service members that will spend the holidays far from home.

This year, things are going to work a little differently, so please read these instructions carefully before signing up.

If you would like to contribute a care package/Yule cards:
*Please mail us at Heathenopenhalls@gmail.com to be assigned a service member. When you do, you will receive acknowledgement, and then when we have a clearer picture of factors such as the ratio of contributors to service members, we’ll put you in contact with a service member. Some of you may receive the same contact details, especially in cases where one service member is acting as a ‘lead person’ for a number of other service members down range.

*Please refer to our list of suggested care package items. This list was compiled by service member members of the Open Halls Project Facebook group, because we wanted it to be as helpful as possible.

*Please be advised that the deadline for mailing out care packages to reach service members in time for the holidays, is the 6th of December.

If you are a service member that would like a care package/Yule cards:

* Please don’t think that you’re somehow less deserving than other service members that are in potentially harder environments than you. Year after year, we’ve had a surplus of offers for care package contributions. If you’re far from home, sign the hell up.

*Mail us at Heathenopenhalls@gmail.com and let us know that you’d like a care package AND don’t forget to include your mailing address.

Both groups: Please don’t message us on Facebook regarding the care package drive. It makes it far harder to organize these drives when we’re fielding messages over multiple types of social media, and we want to be able to run this drive as efficiently as possible.

Suggested Items For Care Packages

Please note: This is not a list of things you have to put in a care package, but a helpful list of suggested items to hopefully make it easier to put care packages together. The one resounding thing that service members down range have said to us about care packages or cards, is that it’s not so much what is in the packages, but that people back home are thinking of them that counts. So don’t be afraid to personalize.

Beef or bacon jerky

MiO water enhancers (e.g. flavor enhancers such as Crystal Light: http://www.kraftbrands.com/crystallight/Pages/default.aspx#/home)

Individually wrapped snacks (cereal bars, fruit roll ups etc.)

Periodicals (e.g. magazines focused on topics such as tattoos, bikes and outdoor activities)

Anything outlandishly fun that will entertain for an hour or so (e.g. bouncy balls, silly string, candy necklaces, alien goo etc.)

Chapsticks

Loofahs/Shower scrunchies

Travel size deodorant/mouthwash/toothbrush/toothpaste.

Moleskin (http://www.drscholls.com/Products/MoleskinPlusPadding)

Ziploc bags

Baby wipes

Hand sanitizer (the small bottles that can be attached to clothing/bags etc.)

Blankets, hats, socks

Weapon cleaning supplies

Cotton swabs and/or Q-tips

Batteries (various sizes, for personal electronic devices)

Peanut butter, or other ‘foods from home’ that might not be available to service members in their areas.

Hobby supplies

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Open Halls Project Supporters! HEAR OUR CALL TO ACTION!!!!

Now that we have your attention.

 

The Open Halls Project is about to begin an endeavor, and we would appreciate any assistance and support that we can muster. Recently, the VA approved the Thor’s Hammer as a headstone emblem. However, we still cannot choose Asatru or Heathen as our religious preference! We have attempted to process the request to add those terms, but CH(COL) Bryan Walker,  of the Chief of Chaplains, has stated that the US Army and the DoD are preparing a new system that will allow philosophies and other religious preferences to be added more efficiently. However, his expected ETA for this change is ‘several years.’

We’ve already processed this request twice, with the support of the Asatru Alliance and the Troth. That was over two years ago now and we are being told we will have to wait even longer. The OHP would like to initiate a letter writing campaign to our legislators, in the hopes that putting congressional pressure on the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense will have some positive effect. We specifically are calling on those who live in a district run by a member of either the House Armed Services Committee or the Senate Armed Services Committee. These are the folks that can really bring some political muscle to bear for us!

I’ve drafted a standardized form letter for folks to use, if you so desire. We have also been in communication with several of our allies, to help begin publicizing this action. We are hoping you will write to your Senators and to your Congressional representative, we have tried to be patient, and allow the system to work, but there is no need for us to wait several more years for our service members to have the ability to choose their religious preference on their official paperwork! We want to make sure that the religious needs of our service members are ensured and we hope that you will help us take action.

 

The form letter is posted as a link below.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3lNaelIdoggTk5Td1FfZy1rRmc/edit?usp=sharing

Please let us know of any interesting developments you hear about, by emailing us at heathenopenhalls@googlemail.com

 

Josh Heath – OHP

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NPR Interview? Hammer Added by the VA?!!

So, a month or so ago, the Open Halls Project posted an article praising the honor of the family and friends of the Marine Shane, who now rests under Thor’s Hammer. About a week ago NPR ran a story that discussed it, but not in a complete way. Thankfully they made up for that a bit by speaking to us here at the OHP, and another ally of ours, Karl Seigfreid of the Norse Mythology blog.

http://www.theworld.org/2013/07/thor-hammer-approved-symbol/

For anyone that comes to our website because of this interview, welcome. The Open Halls Project is dedicated to helping Military Heathens, followers of the traditional Polytheistic worldview of Northern Europe. We have several partners that help us out, but one in particular is the Mjolnir Project, these folks craft hammers, and deliver them to service members for free, as a way of thanking them for their service. Hail to Heidi and Daniel of White Hart Forge, we appreciate all you do for our service members!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mjolnir-Project/128000807242959?fref=ts

Anyone that wishes to know more about The Open Halls Project can email us at heathenopenhalls@googlemail.com or find us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/210819098975046/

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Guest Post: PTSD Awareness Month

I wanted to take a moment, I don’t speak too often here despite the fact I strongly support this group.  Today however I realized I had somehow missed that it was PTSD awareness month, and that struck me.

Why?  Because I have PTSD.  I have friends with PTSD.  My version isn’t so bad, a little anger issue, some insomnia, and sometimes I get really sketchy and have to get away from all people.  There are however people out there who have it a lot worse.  I’ve lost friends, including my Senior Drill Instructor, who also lost his son to PTSD.  Guys I knew, guys I served with, drank with, went to the beach with, and cussed about officers and lazy NCO’s with.

However, for all the suicides and other issues, there are more people with various levels of PTSD that we take into account and remember.  We still have battle buddies (for my fellow Marines, I did some time in the Army, so yes I know the term) who suffer quietly, never saying a word.

It’s that deep calming breath they take, or the backing out of a full room.  It’s that avoiding of crowds, or those quiet moments staring into a glass.  It’s that sudden jump out of bed, or perhaps nothing more than an odd look that crosses their face.

I just want to remind everyone, be there for each other, yeah there are a lot of fakers, but there are a lot of guys and gals with PTSD of varying degrees that never get checked out and never say a word.  We are their support group, watch each others backs, and never leave a fellow Veteran behind.

Jonathan “Ivar D” Clay

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VA Adds Thor’s Hammer Emblem – Give Honor to the Fallen

A death can be a great shock, a shock to a family, a shock to a community, and sometimes a shock to a system that needs it as well. In August of 2012, a death occurred that created a shock to a family, a system, and now a community. While hiking, a 36 year old honorably discharged US Marine Corps Sergeant named Shane passed away. He was a heathen, a follower of the old gods of Northern Europe, a faith that had been passed down to him from his father, another devout follower of those ancient traditions brought anew to the world.

Shane was a young father himself, in the prime of his life. He was dedicated to the sport of soccer, serving as a coach and a mentor to the local children’s team in his home town. He had skills as a writer, something that his ancestors would have lauded, because a skill with words and the keeping of memory was so important to them. Shane was deeply invested in his hometown community and seemed to recognize the deep value of having others close and keeping tight bonds with one’s inner yard. He grew food, and knew how to run a farm.

Shane’s father was a son of the American Northeast, serving honorably in the US Air Force, stationed in Germany during the Conflict in Vietnam. Upon leaving active duty, he served honorably again as a member of the Air National Guard. He had a love of the outdoors, finding solace in the moon light beside a campfire. He loved dancing with his wife, and such a simple love of life can only be seen as elegant in its simplicity.

Each man is now resting under the sign of Thor’s Hammer. In 2009 the directors of The Open Halls Project became dedicated to having that same symbol added to the list of approved headstone emblems that the Veterans Affairs department would approve. This charge began in the wake of the dedicated fight by Roberta Stewart to properly honor her husband SGT Patrick Stewart. A call was sent forth to raise the troops to battle. Those troops responded and took charge of the mission. That battle was fought by a large swath of organizations and groups involved with American heathenry, it was not always perfect, but it was inspiring to see that some barriers could be bridged to fight a higher cause. The troops assembled, they marched forward. We would have THOR’S HAMMER on our stones if we so desired! Then, the VA made a simple change, a change that was good, and sad to see at the same time.

Any new symbol must have an individual pass away before it can be added to the list of approved symbols. This meant we had to lose a heathen service member before we could have Thor’s Hammer available to all. In some ways, this was a victory, something we looked at with pride. We knew that we had made the VA shift, to move its lumbering self enough so that the path forward was clear. It was a path that would require a sacrifice and dedication by a family to honor the request of the fallen. This path was soon faced by Shane’s mother, a woman with courage to face the VA  and its mountains of paperwork. This is a daunting task, but her effort with the support of Shane’s friends went forward and was approved. He efforts should be lauded alongside Shane’s own, without her dedication, this fight would have continued on longer. The military family serves alongside their loved ones. Hail to the family, hail to those still here, still living, and still being strong in the face of adversity.

Today, headstones with the Hammer of Thor stand proudly over the heads of both Shane and his father Mark. Two men who dedicated their lives to service. Two men and their family who have caused a shock to the Heathen community.

Semper Fidelis, Marine,

Aim High… Fly – Fight – Win, Airman,

May your deeds be remembered, may your lives be honored and may your families know the esteem you are held in.

The Open Halls Project

*Note, the family of the fallen could not be contacted for a direct statement, the details of this article are from journalistic sources. The VA refrained from providing a direct statement regarding this addition to the list of approved emblems

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The Open Halls Project and Politics

Good Day!

I want to reiterate something that the OHP really strongly believes in here, just so its out in the open. We want to support and help our Military Heathens. We want to support this group, without getting involved in the drastic inter-organizational politics of the heathen world, as much as possible. If you have the best interests of heathen military families at heart, we will generally work with you. We have occasionally made exceptions to that rule if we feel that a group is largely detrimental to the overall goal or health of the heathen community.

In the long run, the reason the OHP was started was to help our military heathen folks without being held back by conflicts that have a longer history than needs to be said here. We appreciate all the effort that many folks from many organizations and kindreds and groups have done to help us. We are more than welcome to honor the help that those folks gave us, and we are more than willing to point out where, if anywhere, we felt they didn’t help as much as they could have.

In the long run, we want to thank those who serve in the military, we want to thank the families that give their time, love and honor to their service member, and we want to enrich the military heathen community and the community at large by honoring these folks.

That’s all for now!

Josh-OHP

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The Norse Mythology Blog

After some fun discussions with Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried of The Norse Mythology Blog, he asked Cat and I to do an interview with him regarding The Open Halls Project.

You can find that here

I hope all of our folks are well. Other than this we have nothing new to report. Still working on making connections for folks and advocating for Heathen issues were we can.

Please contact us if we can offer you a hand with anything!

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Veterans Day 2012

Please take a moment today to show your appreciation for those that have served in the Armed Forces of any and all countries.

I make an effort to honor any that have chosen to dedicate themselves to military service regardless of political or country affiliation. I might not agree with the policies of a party, or a state, or an ideology but I do honor and respect those that choose the profession of arms. Even those that have a weapon pointed at me, I respect them for putting themselves in harms way. It takes a certain level of guts to pick up a weapon for whatever reason.

Specifically to those on the US side though, I’ve stood side by side with good women and good men. I raise a glass to you in honor. I think of the challenges we face together and I smile, knowing that I am proud to call you my battle buddies.

Many of us, including myself are on the post military road now. Some of us are in school working to get our degrees to vault ourselves into the next stage of our lives. Some are working in a new industry or in a similar one to their training. Some of us are not doing as well as any of us would like. Let us ask the gods, our ancestors, and the warriors that have passed in service to help us in our pursuit to make all Veteran’s lives better!

On the political side of things, let us make sure we call on our Senators, our Congress people, and our President to continue their support. This is non-partisan, they need to support those that go to war for them.

Keep strong everyone!

Hail to those that serve.

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Words for Warriors by Diana Paxson

For a very short while, we were members of The Troth. During that time, one of the things we began was the request to have Asatru added to the Religious Preference list for the US Army. Though this hasn’t worked out the way we wanted it to, there is at least one option for Heathens on that list now. The Troth.

Also, while members, we were asked to help look at a book that Diana Paxson was writing regarding Military Heathenry. Though Cat and I do not agree with Paxson on many finer points of Heathen thought, we certainly didn’t want to pass up a chance to help make her work more helpful; it that was within our power to do so. Just a few days ago, that book was made available on the Troth’s Lulu page.

Though neither Cat or I has had the chance to read the completed book, it might be something folks would be interested in.

A full review will appear at some point on this page.

 

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