Gene splitting. Or something.

So.  Have been in a sort of an argument with the writer of a Folkish Asatru blog.  I think I quite upset him by saying that I don’t think you have to be white to worship the N. European Gods.  And that I would rather raise a horn with an honorable Black Man ™ than with a white guy without honor and full of hypocrisy.  Which was not aimed at him, but at the Fearless Leader of HUAR.

I also said that in America, given our history, it’s quite likely that said Black Man ™ has more than a dollop of N. European ancestry in him.  So if he wants to worship Odin, or Freyja, or whoever, I’m not going to question him on it.  Because I am an actual polytheist.  I believe the Gods have agency.  And agendas.  And they choose who they choose.  They call who they call.  I’m sure many have been called, but few answer. ETA  I do think the call is a LOT easier to hear if you share the same ancestry with the Gods, and a LOT easier to answer.  Those who do, though, have been bestowed a GREAT gift, in my opinion, by those Gods.

Said writer said I am right, that he and other folkish heathens have no desire to limit people from worshipping the N. European Gods, that said folkish heathens simply have no desire to worship with said Black Man(tm) – mind, he did not say those exact words.  But that was the gist of it.  He also said he would not worship with me (gist again).  Because of what I said. But I find it interesting that he never said he wouldn’t worship with a white guy without honor, which was the point of my response in the first place.

Which leads me to ask:  is the color of one’s skin more important than their deeds?  How white do you have to be to be in his tribe?  Is looking white enough, or do you have to produce a pedigree?  How about a cheek swab?  What if you have a wop in the wood pile, as my father in law likes to say?  Does that exclude you?

ETA after reading Stormwise’s comment.  I think I should clarify: I DO think many of those who *appear* to be without Scandinavian/Germanic heritage do in fact have it. I DO think those of those who “look” of another race are hearing the call inherent in their genes, especially here in America. And I DO think an understanding of the history, lore, culture, and values are an important part of the religion. You can’t have orthopraxy without some understanding and “buy-in.”  You certainly can’t have orthodoxy without it! Dogma….another thing entirely.

And what if you’re 100% lily white, Swedish and German in heritage, with grandparents who emigrated and homesteaded here, but you are also a narrow minded jackass who can’t be trusted not to beat his woman and his children, and cheats on his wife?  (I know this person personally)  What if this guy is a straight up racist jackass who calls Mexicans ‘beaners’ and African Americans ‘niggers’  and tries to teach his kids to do the same?  Is this guy OK because of his heritage, even though he behaves without honor?  And if I say that I care more about the deeds of someone, about how they treat themselves and their families and their neighbors and their bodies, and how well they keep their word, than I do about the color of their skin, that makes me not OK to worship with?

Puttin’ it out right here:  I am NOT universalist.  I do NOT believe Asatru is for everyone, any more than Druidism is for everyone.  Or Zoroastrianism is for everyone.  Or Yoruba.  I think we all can agree what universalist religions have gotten us….a couple thousand years of massacres of native peoples because their God is so greedy for ALL the worshippers he orders his followers to kill those who don’t want to worship Him.

Do I think there are cultural differences that sometimes simply cannot be surmounted?  Oh, of course, without a doubt!  And that’s an important factor in a religion like Asatru, where ancestry – and culture, and values, and mores – play such a huge role.  For instance:  Voudun.  I respect the hell out of it.  Believe in the reality of the Gods they worship as much as I believe in my own.  But that religion is not mine, I don’t understand much of the culture, those Gods don’t speak to me, because it’s not for me, I’m not from those people and I know it.

I DO believe in the science that supports genetic expression and epigenetics, and I believe in spiritual inheritance from our ancestors.   Hel, I even believe in genetic memory, I’ve experienced enough times of knowing something I just really shouldn’t know to prevent me from dismissing that out of hand.  I DO believe in the importance of honor.  And honoring one’s ancestors.  And doing what you say you will do.  And being a responsible member of one’s community.  But apparently just saying that I place so much value on the values of our ancestors, means I am not welcome in some Asatru circles, because I would not exclude someone who met the standards of those values, based on the color of his skin.  And I certainly don’t want to go back to the times, not that long ago, when someone had to “pass” as white in order to gain acceptance in society at large.

When I was a child we moved 18 times in 11 years.  I always felt different, uncomfortable, like I didn’t quite belong.  Every time I would finally feel like I understood what my place was, or could be, we moved again.  I was a quiet kid who felt more comfortable in the woods, making a camp, or being in a tree with a book, than with other kids my own age.  I spent my childhood soaked in the fairy tales of Europe in every iteration I could find.  Between the moves and the family, I spent a lot of time watching tribalistic behavior, watching cliques develop and break down, figuring out who would stand by their word and who would not.  I learned to see the true value of people based on their deeds, not their status. And I sure as hell learned to read their bodies and their eyes!  So perhaps I place a lot more value on quietly DOING the right thing than being the LOOK of the right thing as a result.  I don’t make friends easily.  I have a lot of friendly acquaintances, very few friends.  I don’t give friendship lightly.  The ideas of Inner and Outer yard are innate to me.  I grew up with them.

It’s funny but the older I get, the more value those same sorts of people who would have never considered me as friend when I was young, now find that appearances can be deceiving and that deeds actually do matter.  I find myself part of a tribe of people who all happen to value those same virtues.

Ironically, it is my understanding that some of the most vociferous opponents of Americans worshipping the Old Gods come from …. Norway.  And Denmark.  Because American peoples’ ancestors left the Old Country and left their rights to worship the Old Gods there when they left.  And BTW we’re not Norse enough 🙂




3 responses

  1. Would you mind if I reblogged this?

    In religion, there are those who enjoy trying to play gatekeeper to the gods. When someone of folkish bent discusses whether or not someone has any claim or right to worship Norse gods based on skin color, that person is discussing their own comfort level with this, rather than the gods. And it’s important to point out that folkish does not have to mean racist … it just seems like some of the racists among Heathens like to describe themselves as folkish (people can call themselves whatever they wish – Hitler identified himself as Christian, of all things). Anyone with real faith in the gods is aware that the gods are quite capable of sorting their own opinions on their own – they do not need us to be their mouthpieces. Thus it’s just not possible for us to judge or determine who has any rights to any gods – that is a matter between individuals and the gods they seek access to or feel called by. People can only decide who they feel comfortable worshipping with; and it’s a mark of not just arrogance, but cowardice to hide one’s opinions behind their gods.

    I have held similar conversations with folkish Heathens in the past. I have also gone toe-to-toe with racist Native American Indians (and some of their highly vocal white supporters) and made myself unpopular by arguing the exact same logic: no one owns the gods. Our traditions change with time, as we are meant to grow and evolve … I’ve argued before that it is folly to think that the gods themselves do not change and evolve over time. You are right, there are some among the Scandinavians who feel like Americans have no claim to Norse gods … I think it’s a delicious irony you bring up, that some of the same Heathens in America who would close the doors of their places of worship to people who are not genetically Scandinavian, will turn around and savagely defend their right to worship against Scandinavians who are mainly using their own logic against them. The Scandinavians do not own Heathenry (this is something else I have argued in the past). Their forebears showed no hesitation to bring their religious traditions to other lands – and valued highly the notion of exploration and colonization. Their forebears populated the New World by taking risks and chances while others among their forebears stayed home. Americans almost entirely stem from ancestors who were willing to take massive risks. I’ve lived on both sides of the Atlantic, and have seen this tension between American-style Heathenry (and often Paganism in general) as well as what is popular here … the real nuts and bolts of the tension between the two sides has very little to do with the gods at all, and more to do with a generalized, cultural approach to religious practice. Again, it boils down to being the same with the tensions between members of folkish Asatru groups and people who do not predominantly descend from northern European ancestry … it has nothing to do with the gods, the gods could probably care less about skin color (half of them are shape-shifters anyway, and if shifting gender and species are not a problem, why should something like skin color or eye shape be an issue?).

    It is people who have problems with other people, trying to use religion to qualify those problems, who are the source of tension. In my opinion, they should stand behind their opinions without trying to blame those opinions on the gods. I only need to appreciate one color when I raise a horn of mead, and that is the color of the mead (which is why I like to drink from a very non-traditional glass horn!). I would happily raise a horn with you any day of the week and twice on Sunday – I have never seen your face and could care less about what color it is. I’ve read your words and have an idea what is in your heart, and that is enough for me.

    • Oh, and I think I should clarify: I DO think many of those who *appear* to be without Scandinavian/Germanic heritage do in fact have it. I DO think those of those who “look” of another race are hearing the call inherent in their genes, especially here in America. And I DO think an understanding of the history, lore, culture, and values are an important part of the religion. You can’t have orthopraxy without some understanding. You certainly can’t have orthodoxy without it! Dogma….another thing entirely.

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