Posts tagged ‘Heathen community’

July Heathen Round Table

Heathen Round Table Prompt for July:

What are your beliefs about deities from other religions/pantheons, both polytheistic and not? Do you honour any, and how do you balance that with heathenry?

Well I have been a Gaelic polytheist or Druid for a lot longer so for me the question is a bit more in reverse. That is, I honor both the Tuatha De Danaan as well as the Aesir & Vanir. I believe the two can blend together pretty well for both historic reasons and cultural similarities. There is a lot of Norse influence in especially northern Scotland, the Hebrides and Orkney islands, there is the blending of Anglo-Saxon and Brythonic traditions in Britain and in continental Europe, it is often tricky to distinguish between historical accounts of which tribes were Germanic and which were Celtic. I’m continually researching and learning new things about how these cultures compare, overlap, intersect and how they differ. I also from time to time will honor deities of other cultures/religions, typically when I am invited by friends or family members to partake in a ceremony, holiday celebration or simply a meal-time prayer. I just won’t participate in aspects that conflict, such as reciting creeds or statements about how there is only one god

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July 26, 2015 at 7:51 am Leave a comment

Pushing Round Tables together

The Heathen Round Table topic for July has been posted: What are your beliefs about deities from other religions/pantheons, both polytheistic and not? Do you honour any, and how do you balance that with heathenry?   

Well, that one’s certainly a relevant one for me! Be sure to link to the wordpress blog above, or tag your tumblr posts with #heathen round table.

I notice the Celtic Round Table on tumblr hasn’t been updated since April. Summer happens, people get busy! It’s also on wordpress here. A lot of the participants are part of the Polytheist Community Forum that I belong to, so I will poke them.

So I’m starting it up again with- for folks in the Northern Hemisphere: Do you celebrate Lunasa or other harvest festivals?  Do you integrate any local practices, such as county/state fairs, corn feeds, barbecues, etc? How and why?

For Southern Hemisphere peeps: Do you celebrate Imbolc or other late winter/early spring festivals?   Do you integrate any local practices or holidays? How and why?

The Kemetic Round Table is also on hiatus- I’m not a part of that community, but just thought I’d bring it to folks’ attention in case anyone’s interested in re-starting or re-visiting old topics- you can still submit posts for the old ones.

July 8, 2015 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

Heathen Round-Table for June

A Heathen Round Table has started up- inspired by the Kemetic Round Table, it’s an invitation from Heathens, Northern Tradition, Asatru or Vanatru folks of all stripes to discuss a monthly topic on their blogs. The first question for June is-

“How did you first become involved in heathenry? What started you on this path, and how has it changed you?”

Norse mythology was the second mythology I discovered as a kid reading D’Aulaires Greek myths & Norse myths. The mythology books were near the fairy tale books in the library, and as I steadily devoured fairy tales I came across them. I decided that both sets of Gods were *way* more interesting than grumpy ol’ Yahweh, but actually being a pagan/polytheist/heathen wasn’t yet on my radar. After getting into Paganism as a teen, my first impressions of Asatru in Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon were not exactly appealing! Later after joining the University of Minnesota Pagan Society I got the chance to meet some actual Heathens, and the folks I met were friendly and serious about their cultures/religions so that gave me a much better impression of Heathenry. But my focus for years has tended to be more on Irish/Scottish Druidry. While I still keep with that path, I’ve come to realize that I am much more culturally Anglo-German as a Midwestern Euro-American mutt, and German & Scandinavian cultural influences in Minnesota, Wisconsin and neighboring states are pretty much my adopted culture. I’m something of a recovering “armchair Pagan” and trying to kickstart myself back into practice. My partner is also mostly German in heritage, and though spiritually agnostic, has expressed interest in going to Heathen gatherings for the cultural aspects ( As he put it: bratwurst & polka music? Where do I sign up?)

June 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm 2 comments

Comments on Why I am Not a Heathen

I reblogged Pagan Church Lady’s Why I am Not a Heathen essay But of course, being me I have to add my own commentary. I am not sure whether I’d identify with the label Heathen or not- I generally call myself a polytheist- the details vary as I figure out my path. I tag my posts about Germanic/Norse religion with heathen, heathenry and asatru partly just to add another voice for inclusive, non-asshole Heathenry.

Rejection of NeoPaganism

I have generally found more friendly attitudes from Heathens who interact with broader Neo-Pagandom. Their friendship and cooperation does not necessarily mean being “fluffy” or “eclectic” just as when I go to an interfaith gathering, that doesn’t mean I suddenly decide I’m going to start observing Buddhist or Muslim traditions.

I most definitely respect the choice of Heathens and Heathen groups to choose to engage and work with other Pagans or not. I think there are various good reasons for doing so. I can also understand why many Heathens feel they don’t have much in common with non-Heathen Pagans or even simply feel excluded by Pagan festivals, Pagan Prides and other entities that are very Wicca-centric. Many other polytheists and followers of other indigenous/folk/tribal religions feel similarly.

It would be enough to simply state- “As a Heathen, I don’t consider myself/identify as part of the broader Neo-Pagan communit(ies), here are some reasons why…” and list some relatively neutral reasons of differences in values, focus etc. I do see those sorts of explanations from some folks. But even more often, I see a list of generalizations with undertone of “Eeew- we’re not like Those People!” A caricature of promiscuous, nudist, hippies is then painted- while on the other side, a caricature of gun-toting redneck Heathens  is painted by some Pagans. Rather ironic- considering both Pagan and Heathen mean “redneck/hick/hillbilly” in other languages. In any case, obviously these generalizations are very harmful to all our communities, so I ask that we try to get to know & judge each other as individuals. I admit that I can be very judgmental myself and make assumptions about other people’s character, beliefs and behavior based on their appearance, the bumperstickers on their car and so forth. So this is a learning process for everyone, I am no exception!

Dismissal of UPG/Spiritual Experience

I most definitely consider the Eddas, Sagas and so forth to be useful sources of information about Germanic and Norse mythology and religion. But they are not The Lore- Holy Writ from On High as Handed to us by the Gods! The Eddas, in particular are Norse myth skaldic Christian fan fiction. Actual folklore, by definition is information (lore) handed down orally by the folk, the common people, not attributed to any one person. Just as we’ve gotten literary interpretations of legends of King Arthur and his knights from Malory’s Le Morte de Arthur and secondary or tertiary historical sources from Geoffrey of Monmouth, we have literary interpretations of Norse mythology and history written from particular viewpoints by authors of Sagas and Roman dudes like Tacitus. Is Snorri Sturluson a better source for the original myths than say, Wilhelm Wagner? Yes, definitely. But that doesn’t make the Eddas holy writ. To develop any revived polytheism into a living religion we need to come up with our own folklore- we are the folk- the common people. We can use texts as guides and templates, and hold them up against our own insights and experiences. But ultimately, we need to create lore ourselves- for our time, for our lands, for our people. Likewise, Heathens in Europe tend to draw more heavily from the folklore and customs of their respective nations, even if those customs don’t go back to preChristian times. We can too. But we live in different climates, different terrains, with different cultures. So we need to adapt accordingly.

My additions- Black & White Thinking– Whenever I attempt to join an online Heathen group, before posting I have to learn not just the rules of moderation, but all the unwritten rules of this particular cadre of Heathens which I learn by lurking and carefully poking thru archives before I dare make a post. Which authors are good, which are “fluffy”. Whether patrons or fulltrui, let alone godspouses are a Real Thing ™ Whether using runes, magic and seidhr is a legit part of Asatru/Heathenry or assumed to be a fluffy Wiccan influence. Whether certain beings/deities/spirits are off-limits or not. Whether exhibiting any sense of compassion and mercy is hospitality or “Too weak and Christian”. Granted, Pagans across the board are quite capable of black & white thinking, and engage it quite avidly, but I don’t typically see the same level of uniform judgment about *every single spiritual belief & practice* My Lords and Ladies!

A Stupid, Crazy Level of Ableism Pagans, not being any exception to our broader cultural influences are once again quite capable of every sort of ism- racism typically manifests as clueless, well-meaning “we’re all human/I don’t see color” platitudes and micro-aggressions, sexism typically as gender essentialism and Truly Liberated Women will, of course sleep with me! Homophobia and biphobia are typically not tolerated, but transphobia definitely rears its head especially in the name of “safe spaces/rituals for women”. Ableism is most definitely present in various forms. But damn, among Heathen groups online anyway- I found the ableist insults and assumptions to be so constant as to be intolerable. Other isms, while present, I could learn to dodge, but I found ableist crap in pretty much every Facebook heathen group I have joined and left, notable exceptions are the Urglaawe/Braucherei groups, ADF Heathens, and a couple of local Heathen groups. Lokeans, while they vary broadly are also generally more inclusive of most categories of excluded people- I consider them a slightly different category however, since not all them identify as Heathen. People act worse online in general, but I notice particular sets of obnoxious traits among online Heathen groups, atheist/skeptic/humanist groups, Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s) and right-wing libertarians- rampant ableism (under the guise of intellectual snobbery/superiority- anyone who disagrees is stupid/retarded/crazy) machismo, and dominance by white male heterosexuals who raise a hissy fit if anyone ever mentions the concept of privilege, and loudly claim how oppressed they are by Social Justice Warriors. I agree that some nonsense that goes on in the name of “social justice” online is pretty ridiculous, but they can’t distinguish between that and everything else. (Yes the irony of that subtitle was intentional)

The Racial stuff– well, that you already know my opinion, and I have been informed by certain Heathens that I’m apparently “obsessed” with race, motivated by white guilt, “cultural Marxism” and other interesting accusations. It seems I’ve violated some social norms of their communities by not minding my own business. Well if speaking out against racism violates the norms of your community, I definitely don’t want to be a part of it. Clearly I share values with some Heathens and not others, but once again that is the same with every other community I participate in.

May 15, 2015 at 4:36 am 1 comment

Gender Equality: Why Heathens Can Do Better

Listen to/Watch this awesome speech by Emma Watson to the United Nations about the launch of a new campaign: He For She. Please signal boost the speech, rather than the nasty responses to it! This unique campaign seeks to end gender equality by boosting the support of men and boys for the movement. As Ms. Watson addresses, many people have mis-represented feminism as being about elevating women over men, and hating men. She refutes this and discusses the many ways patriarchal gender roles are damaging to both men and women. Ms. Watson’s message is for the whole world, but after seeing a link to it on a Heathen discussion forum, I couldn’t help thinking of how her message connected with Heathenry and Germanic (and Celtic) based values.

To give a little background for those who might reading this from feminist/social justice communities, Heathenry is an umbrella term for revivals of Germanic polytheism, with specific branches such as Asatru, Vanatru, Anglo-Saxon Heathenry and so forth. The Heathen community tends to be pretty distinct, spiritually and culturally from the broader category of Paganism, though the two sometimes do work together on projects for religious freedom, festivals and so forth. Due to the emphasis on the Goddess(es) and women as witches, the gender ratio among the general Pagan populace tends to skew more towards women, whereas due to the emphasis on macho Viking warriors, Heathens tend to have a gender ratio that skews male.

*spoiler alert* Emma Watson ends her speech the line- “Ask yourself- if not me, who? If not now, when?” This very much ties in with heroic morality. (Which is also expressed in the Harry Potter novels/movies!) This is not the idea that everyone can be a hero, but to at least strive in that direction.  We can all do our part to make the world a better place, and to be the best you can. I realize that there are many issues debated by feminists and advocates for gender equality that not all Heathens or Heathen organizations are going to agree on, even if we as a community choose to make gender equality more of a priority, both within our religion and in our broader societies. Still, I think there are some principles here that tie in well with broadly held Heathen values.

*Flexibility of gender roles “An Asatru man will not be ridiculed for running a household, nor will an Asatru woman be looked down upon for being the primary wage earner.” “Our ancestors were also able to acknowledge when exceptions needed to be made for men or women that were acting outside of the normal roles for their times. Women were known to go on raids as warriors, though rarely. Men were known to raise the children, and act as the frithweaver for the family, though not as commonly as women.”- The Standing of Heathen Women

*Industriousness- and fair rewards- Equal pay for equal work. For that matter, so much of the work women do is unpaid and not valued enough by society as “productive” work. Taking care of children, elderly and people with disabilities and doing housework are all worthy and important tasks. Let’s think about how can we change our view of this work so that it seen as more valuable, and both women and men who do it are better rewarded, and can get jobs that can support them, yet still allow for time to do these things.

*Access to education- Heathens like their book learning, and we want everyone to have access to knowledge and wisdom- men and women, boys and girls. Many of us are concerned about the role dominant religions play in our public schools, especially in the teaching of history, science and sex education.

*Respect for women’s bodies and sexuality (and men’s!) Clearly though we may joke about how awesome the Vikings were, we don’t consider their behavior acceptable. Stealing, destroying villages and raping women? Obviously those are not honorable actions! Personally I think we should have less of a focus on the idea of “rape culture” but rather, sexual violence and abuse in general, regardless of the genders of the perpetrators.  A major way in which men’s sexuality is distorted both by anti-feminists and some feminists is the implication that men cannot control their own sexual desires, that they are monsters that women and children should fear. We do not have the idea of shame of the body and of sexual pleasure that other religions sometimes do. We believe in enjoying (responsibly!) all that life has to offer.

*Openness to Intuition & Emotion (this is my own addition, though somewhat alluded to in the speech)

Asatru fora often sound suspiciously like Christian fundamentalists have invaded, except people are arguing by hurling lines from different sagas at each other to support or refute a point rather than Bible verses. Women are definitely guilty of this too, but the general tone of this sort of debate is that of a macho, intellectual pissing contest. Sorry, boys. Faith isn’t logical. Certainly logic and critical thinking are important tools in scholarship and philosophy. One thing to note is that we have much less lore available about our goddesses, and roles of women in our religion. Having a more open-minded attitude about personal revelation (UPG- seriously we need a better term, folks!) can help our religion regain gender balance.

*Postscript- After writing most of this post, I read several criticisms of Ms. Watson’s speech by Black feminists and others who have pointed out its lack of intersectionality, implications of heteronormativity and being less than forthcoming about the fact that men benefit from patriarchy, it isn’t just this Bad Thing that makes them hide their feelings etc. I definitely now see the limitations, and we can certainly call into question how relevant her message was for the entire planet in the way she framed it.  However, when you are pulling your hair out as a white woman trying to teach Feminism 101* in a white male dominated subculture like Heathenry, many geek communities, the atheist/skeptic/humanist communities, her speech seems to be a good vehicle to get some important messages across. (*and anti-Racism 101, Trans 101, Ableism 101…)

References:

Speech by Emma Watson to UN General Assembly

The Pentagram and the Hammer– a comparison of Wicca & Asatru

The Standing of Heathen Women– Heathen Kinship of Houston

Why I’m Not Really Here for Emma Watson’s Speech on Feminism at the U.N. by Mia McKenzie- I will admit, I had to read this essay more than once to really “get it”, and I’m still working on “getting it” in a broader sense…

October 16, 2014 at 3:49 am 1 comment

Updates/Notes on the Traffic Light/Racism Post

After reading some community feedback on my previous post, both here and on Wild Hunt, I’ve made some changes to the post and here are some further comments and explanations.

*Faoladh/C.L. Vermeers correctly understood my intent that the presence of  “yellow signs” aren’t necessarily OMG that means group/person X is racist! Other people didn’t read my post as carefully or perhaps I was not clear enough. The entire point of this exercise was to avoid jumping to conclusions and badly supported accusations of racism and Neo-Nazism based on certain words, symbols and themes found in European culture and religious oriented individuals and groups.

*I decided to removed some references specific to Heathenry- mainly the folkish and tribalist labels- partly because I find these terms are not always used consistently by different individuals and groups. There may also be different connotations in different countries- some have noted that “tribalist” has been used as code for folkish, but I think this is mostly a U.S. American thing. I was conversing with a British Anglo-Saxon tribalist Heathen over on Wild Hunt and realized this. Another reason is that I want to emphasize that racism among Pagans is not just a “Heathen problem” it’s a problem in almost all sectors of Pagan and polytheist religions, just as with broader society. I am concerned also that unnecessary paranoia about Heathenry and Asatru may lead to other Pagans wanting to further dissociate themselves from them. I would like to see more understanding between Heathens, other polytheists and Pagans, Wiccans et al while at the same time recognizing the uniqueness and independence of these different religions. Personally I have been impressed by the positive interconnection between local Heathens/Asatru with the broader Pagan community in the Twin Cities area, though it seems in the past few years they have retreated somewhat from this involvement.

*I have been trying to “sniff out” the signs of racism in various people and organizations unfortunately sometimes after rather unpleasant run-ins with them online. Frankly, I’m not sure how much I trust organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center to investigate organizations without having a bias against Heathenry, Asatru or other European polytheist religions. I also don’t necessarily trust the claims that specific Pagans and Heathens about being anti-racist- I judge them by their actions. My journey as a progressive activist with a strong interest in my European heritage can be a lonely and delicately trod path. Many of my fellow leftists have a secular or sometimes Christian bias and sometimes a degree of suspicion towards European cultural revivalists, so I have to be careful how I present myself and my views. For one thing, I pretty much entirely avoid the subject of Israel/Palestinian conflict.

*This is not about obsessively enforcing “political correctness” whatever the hell that means- it’s a rather vague term that gets thrown around, usually by people who are mad at me for insisting that they treat others with respect and try to learn about people who are different from them. How dare I disrupt their blissful ignorance!

*There are various discussions about a type of philosophy called Radical Traditionalism, and authors that are said to support that philosophy, which is connected with the “New Right” that I made reference to- this tends to be more of a European thing, though this school of thought seems to be an influence in the U.S. and Canada as well. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough about this to comment on it too much. Some folks feel that certain Pagan bloggers/activists are unfairly targeting particular scholars and philosophers as fascists, and including the journal “TYR” in this. If Rhyd Wildermuth cares to discuss the “Rad Trads” on his blog or elsewhere, I would recommend checking out what he has to say. Though I don’t agree with everything he says politically, as a political scientist I respect the research and thought he puts into his analysis.

September 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

Gods of Hollywood vs. Gods of Asgard

I wrote the previous post to survey what all is included in the large umbrella category of “Pop Culture Paganism” and what within it I personally find to be of interest. That does not mean I am giving my stamp of approval on every type of PCP-ism that exists and everything that each PC Pagan says or does. That would silly. Heck, even in more specific traditions/organizations I belong to like ADF, I certainly don’t agree with all of my co-religionists on everything and share all their individual beliefs and practices. 

Anyway, Lovemydane brought up an issue that is a major point of contention among the Asatru/Heathen community- the depiction of Thor, Loki, Odin et al. in Marvel comics.  I haven’t read any of the Thor comics or seen any of the movies so I can’t comment on them too directly. However, I do enjoy watching Oh My Goddess! an anime series (based on manga) that draws inspiration from Norse mythology. The main character, Belldandy (Japanese rendering of Verdandi) works for a “Goddess Help Line” which is accidently dialed by Keiichi Morisato, a shy college student. Belldandy appears in his dorm room and tells him that she will grant him any wish he makes. Befuddled by this gorgeous woman claiming to be a goddess, he thinks it’s a joke and wishes that she will stay be his side forever. She stays on Earth, realizing that she has created a contract with him that she is bound to fulfill. Later her sisters, Urd and Skuld show up.

Those of you who are familiar with Norse mythology know these three sisters as the Norns, the powerful Goddesses who decide the fates and  of humans by measuring and cutting the thread of life- and Wyrd. The cosmology of Oh My Goddess! is very different from Norse cosmology, and bears an obvious influence from Christianity- the universe is divided into Heaven, Earth and Hell, Verdandi, Skuld and Urd and others are under the authority of the Allmighty One (Odin- with some Jehovah influences) whereas in Norse myth, there are 9 worlds, and Odin, while powerful cannot determine Wyrd as the Norns can. Likewise, in Greek mythology Zeus is subject to the power of the Fates/Moirae. Watching this anime is just a form of entertainment, a purely secular activity though I find it interesting and fun to compare with what I know of Norse mythology. 

So, what if someone were to watch Oh My Goddess! and decide that they want to worship Belldandy, the character as a goddess. Would that be a problem? Well that depends. If they decided to completely base a religious practice off of the show and manga, it could be a rather unbalanced and shallow practice, because the media are designed to entertain, not to do all the things religions are intended to do. But that would be a problem for that one individual and would not really be anyone else’s business. Now if this person decided that Belldandy was the same as Norse myth Verdandi, and Oh My Goddess! cosmology/laws of the universe trumped Norse mythology, and was more “real”, “valid” and called themselves a Heathen/Asatruar and came into a Heathen forum, or offline in-person blot with all of these ideas, or tried to explain to the public (or just their friends/family) that what they’re doing is actual Heathenry, then yeah. Those would all be major ethical violations of Heathen community norms of piety and hospitality and we would be right to be offended. 

  On the other hand, there some people who initially come across Norse or Greek mythology references in pop culture and get interested in learning about the originals. It might just remain an intellectual/aesthetic interest for them or it might develop into a religious practice. If they come into a forum and mention that their interest was piqued by Hercules, Xena or Marvel comics, we shouldn’t attack them for it, but we should check to make sure they understand the difference. In works of fiction that draw on history, people will often put in a disclaimer that this is a work of fiction and not historically accurate. However they do not have that responsibility with mythology. (This movie not approved by Homer or Snorri Sturlson!) We can be offended when they get our mythology “wrong” but I think it’s better to just see as a different, alternate mythology. 

So if you want to worship a pop culture version of a deity, do you have ethical responsibilities to a community that worships a more traditional form of the deity? (Which you may or may not see as the same being, but they probably don’t) Yes, you do. You have the responsibility to not misrepresent yourself or your religious practice to the general public, the Pagan public and that specific community. As long as you do that, the more traditionally-minded polytheists ought to leave you alone. 

For more on the Marvel Thor issue:

Worse than Breasts & Melanin by Kvasir amongst the Gods

August 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm 1 comment

All Wrong: Religion, Culture and Country

Wrong Country: It doesn’t matter if our ancestors didn’t all come to the United States (& various other colonies) for the specific purpose of enslaving and conquering people, but mostly were trying to escape poverty, famine, war or religious/political persecution. Or came here as slaves, prisoners or indentured servants. It doesn’t matter how long our families have lived here. We’re invaders. Or “settlers”, I guess that’s a little nicer. OK, we’ve realized that we messed up. Or someone else did, and we benefited from it. So we’re going to “decolonize” now. It sounds very enlightened and progressive. Wait, does this mean we need to move back to Europe? Black folks have to move back to Africa. (Tried that already, by the way) And so forth. Or is it OK that we stay here, so long as we admit that we have no right to be here? Just lose the sense of entitlement and gain some humility and be a good ally.  But wait, which Tumblr guide to “How to Be a Good White Ally” should I follow?

Wrong Culture: Sometimes I come across European pagans/polytheists (and non-pagans) who are baffled by Euro-American interest in their cultural heritage. But you’re Americans! You’re over there! Go do Indian stuff. Uh, no. Not touching the peace pipe. It hasn’t been offered. So be Wiccan! It’s sorta kinda generically European… Sprinkle with deities of your chosen ethnic identity. Some of us try to prove how Truly Serious & Sincere & Respectful we are. We study the languages, the customs. We become reconstructionists.  But…

Wrong Religion: We still get criticism- here’s a Scottish fellow complaining about how not Gaelic neo-paganism is. Most “Celtic” paganism isn’t very culturally Celtic, I agree to that. What I found baffling was that he specifically approved of the website Tairis, but complained about the CR FAQ. Celtic Reconstructionism was actually founded for the specific purpose of avoiding cultural appropriation that is rampant in the U.S.  Annie Gormlie, the author of Tairis is Scottish, basing her practice on Scottish folk customs. Very cool lady. The CR FAQ is pan-Celtic and written by Americans. Americans? Well in that case they must be evil cultural pillagers.  And because they talk about doing research about pre-Christian religion, they can’t care about modern culture at all, right? This is a false dichotomy Proper Scots are atheists, according to him. Another one I came across said True Scots are Presbyterians. Real Authentic Irish people are Catholic of course, no wait- atheists according to this guy. Another critic here.

Maybe we should stop arguing about which religion (or atheism) is superior and do our parts to learn & teach Celtic languages and customs? I’m in my Irish class, and there’s also a Wiccan in the class as well. No one cares what our religion is, we’re there to learn Irish. I don’t know how Pagan-friendly every nook and cranny of the Irish community is, so I don’t announce it to everyone. 

There seems to less of this among Germanic heathens- they don’t have the cultural colonization historical chip on their shoulder the way the Celts do. There are some Europeans who look down on American Heathens that get most of their info from book-learning rather than oral tradition.  But that goes both ways. 

Culture, religion, country. It would be nice if these things “matched” but life is messy and they don’t. Humans move around. They change religion and language. Deal with it. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care that much about other people’s approval. I try to do the Right Thing social justice-wise, or culture or religion-wise, but it’s always the Wrong Thing to someone else. It’s nice to get approval and affirmation when it comes but condemnation and condescension will always be coming from another direction. Once again, hey I’m an American. Guess I’ll throw caution to the wind. 

August 13, 2014 at 3:24 am 6 comments

Tiptoe among the Tulips, I mean Heathens

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What, me fluffy? (Photo of bunny rabbit in Viking helmet & shield.

So I signed up for a Asatru/Heathen group on Facebook, and I was reading thru their long list of rules, which hey, I do appreciate it when the rules are specifically laid out- and that is well-moderated. Unlike in person interactions where I may have to figure them out the hard way! But I was just thinking, Wow, I think hanging out with all these Lokeans and Vanatruar online has kind of “corrupted” me, at least as far as the No UPG Thanks, We’re Serious Asatru Recons are concerned.  (This is the part where y’all get the chance to cackle!) I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, if they want to focus more on scholarly stuff in that group, and don’t want to get sucked into UPG arguments, fine.

Celtic Recons sometimes have a reputation for being anti-UPG, but the information we have available on Celtic polytheism is even more limited than what we have of Germanic traditions, so at they very least we have to be open to different ideas or we won’t have much to go on. Not to mention, every now and then some scholar will come out with a paper saying so-and-so wasn’t historically worshipped as deity. If someone has been worshipping that deity, and connecting with them and having experiences, it seems ridiculous to drop that practice based on the direction of current scholarship, which might change when the newest journal comes out. Same with Germanic religions- it was mentioned in the rules that discussing the worship of beings who are mentioned in myth but have no historic cult is verboten. Umm, that’s a lot of gods…I kinda wondered if that really was about Heimdall, Baldur, Skadi? Or someone else with red hair….

I pretty much consider myself neutral as far as the Loki/jotun worship issue is concerned, which is kind of like trying to be neutral about abortion among feminists or something…my partner (who’s agnostic, but familiar with Norse mythology) said to me once “Isn’t worshipping Loki kinda like voting for the Pro-Ragnarok party?” “Maybe so, I said. But everyone loves a rebel, particularly pagans!”

So no, I’m not going to say that honoring Loki & co. is a good or bad idea (heck, some people have rather dubious reasons for worshipping Odin…) mostly I’m just bugged by the obsessive Lokean-bashing that goes on among some heathens. I also notice that the most vocal about this, frequently use ableist, homo/transphobic language in their bashing, and seem to be more frequently (though not necessarily) associated with the folkish wing of Asatru. Hence I will be avoiding the AsatruLore forums…  I also have made the acquaintance of many bloggers/posters who have behaved courteously to me, and share many interesting and thoughtful ideas in their writings who are Loki-worshippers. Are there other Loki-worshippers who behave badly? Yes, I’m sure there are, just as they are badly behaved worshippers of every deity.

As for Vanatru, I do not necessarily label myself as such, but I do find that many Vanic identified folks are a lot friendlier, more open to new ideas, but often still scholarly. They tend to have a less of a Macho Viking Warrior mentality- a mentality which I think is very unhealthy, and also more reflective of modern projections of what some people want the ancient Norse to be, and the bias of the limited information we have on the religion.  Even people who don’t specifically call themselves Vanic/Vanatru, but happen to have one of them as their patron, seem to be friendlier.

I don’t care whether your spiritual practice is totally something you came up with yourself, or based on painstaking PhD. level research. If you behave honorably and politely, and treat people who are different from you and disagree with you with respect, and don’t put up with racists/sexists/homophobes/abusers etc. in the name of “frith” or “what will the neighbors think, let’s sweep this under the rug” then I will consider you a worthy person to discuss ideas with, whether online or offline- maybe even a friend. And I’ll tell other people that when they talk about you behind your back.

I don’t want to get into these arguments. I’ve had enough of many of the same ones among Celtic Recons. I will just be careful where I go, and what I talk about. Much like life outside the Internet.

(Oh and for the record, I’m pretty sure both major American parties are Pro-Ragnarok, at least as far as their policies are concerned…)

July 24, 2014 at 2:42 am 1 comment


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