Hail is the whitest of grain;
it is whirled from heaven's loft
tossed about by wind gusts,
then melts into water.
Continuing (after quite a delay) our series examining modern pagan practice via the Elder Futhark, we move on to the ninth rune, Hagilaz. As with the others, the rune-poem above gives us a place to start.
Both ancient and modern interpretations focus on the unpredictable and often capricious destruction that come from hailstorms, but also make mention of the aftermath as seeds of new beginnings. An appropriate parallel concept for those who use the tarot is The Tower, where established structures come crashing down. This can be terrifying, but not necessarily bad if the structures that were destroyed weren't good structures.
So that lends itself to two questions: Which institutions, systems, or ideas should be destroyed? And how should they be destroyed?
One aspect of modern paganism is that it tends to attract those who want to rebel against the established norms. So quite naturally, many of those who get interested rebel against any institutions they encounter, including pagan institutions. This line of thinking seems to be, more-or-less: "A decision-making structure? People with authority? Annual budgets? It's gotta go!"
The trouble with this, of course, is that some of those institutions might be useful or even praiseworthy. Automatically opposing institutions, like automatically supporting institutions, is not a good idea. Non-institutional systems of thought and organization fall into the same category: some of them work well, some of them don't, some need to be broken apart, some don't. So there needs to be a way to determine which ones to keep, and which ones to let fall by the wayside. That is a challenging proposition, but there are some reasonably good questions to ask:
So after going through this process, you now are absolutely sure that there's a group or an idea that is dangerous, unethical, unreformable, and useless. It's really gotta go away.
If something really does need to be destroyed, then the next obvious question is how to go about doing it. We can't always be so lucky as to have a lightning bolt from the sky dispatch our enemies, so other methods are needed. Ideally, those other methods will cause a minimum of damage to those not involved in the conflict, but sometimes that cannot be avoided. Some of the common techniques used:
With each move, you need to be aware that there can be a great deal of collateral damage, including hurting yourself. So before you go about righteously destroying things, you had better make darn sure that you're right that the thing you're destroying deserves it. And make certain to plan carefully.
As with the traditional interpretations of Hagilaz, the chaos that results from successful destruction is a remarkably fertile time. Because resources are no longer going towards what was destroyed, more resources can go to new causes. The walls and restrictions that used to be in place are no longer constraining you or anyone else, so new options and new directions will be available to you. Sometimes, that result can be more than worth it.
At the same time, the destruction bears a significant cost to yourself and others. Blowing it all up should be reserved for cases where that really is the only option.
And here's the really difficult part: You really don't know what the aftermath will really be. You will certainly know what you want it to be, but just because you want it to turn out a particular way, doesn't mean it will. Historically speaking, many revolutions ended up going in a wildly different direction than was intended by their participants. Hagilaz tells you that sometimes that is the only way, but it's not a decision you should make lightly. After all, the hail that hits the villain's crops also hits yours.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook