I was a devout polytheist Pagan for 20 years before I became a heathen. Practitioner of Asatru. Devotee of the Old Gods of Europe. I had a 15+ year devotional relationship to Kali, Hindu goddess of death, sex and magic, prior to Freyja and Frigga reading me the riot act and telling me where to go (and where I belonged).
Heathenry IS the religion with homework (TM) after all, so as a new practitioner I did what any responsible devotee would do and set about reading. I was already a voracious reader so it was merely a matter of changing my reading material from anthropological and archeological reading material to adding in the Eddas, some of the sagas, Tacitus and Saxo Grammaticus, other foundational books, and of course The Culture of the Teutons by Gronbech.
I have been a history buff, particularly pre-Christian and early medieval buff, for many years. It has been enlightening to me to go back and re-read articles, research papers, and archeological journals looking for evidence of indigenous practices that continued in post-conversion times.
I actually recognized many cultural practices including frith in my own upbringing during my first reading of The Culture of the Teutons. So much so that I nearly turned away from the path I had been set on. Having been a victim of frith when justice should have prevailed I was exceptionally sensitive to the idea of protecting wrong doers simply because they are family members. I have experienced the dark side of that. Ultimately my piety and devotion to the Gods of this path kept me on it, helped me to see both my failings and the failings of my family in keeping the traditions alive, and I won through my crisis of confidence. I came to a new understanding of frith and its potential pitfalls, and the importance of strong tribe in order to counteract frith gone awry.
The idea of women being holy in and of themselves, carrying within them the luck of the family and the holiness of the home, was a piece of the puzzle for me that, when it slipped into place, made many matters, both spiritual and mundane, very clear for me. The knowledge of a deeper sort of holiness (not to be confused with spiritual purity) (and definitely not to be confused with modern day feminism) was a powerful revelation. And, as with many things that are perceived through a womanly perspective, completely different than power in a manly context. The power that I hold as a woman is a power WITH. Not a power OVER. Oh, surely, when you piss off a woman enough she may use it over you, and naturally some women have always been warrior types – but in general, a woman has the capability for comfort and calm that just doesn’t exist in most males.
Women were acknowledged to have a closer relationship to “the powers” as they are called than men. She also has a closer contact with the luck of the family. She was acknowledged to be the keeper of the frith of the home, the keeper of the luck of the home. The long hair of women was a token of recognition of their sacred holiness.
Bryan Wilton is not the first to recognize the role that female beauty plays in the human psyche, he is only the most recent. He is also one of those who acknowledges how beauty, twisted and degraded, distorts the holiness of the feminine and prevents proper viewing of the Divine Feminine.
Feminine beauty as acknowledged by men is a recognition of their holiness, their place in the cosmos as divine bearers of the positive aspects of frith, grith, their natural place as weavers of peace. Beauty emotionally disarms men, if it is properly displayed and perceived. It is meant to. Ideally, it physically disarms them as well so they are able to become holy in their own right and to open themselves to the divine.
In Gronbech we have documentation on the importance of men drinking together. What may not be evident to the modern viewer is that women did not generally participate in this drinking together. Women generally did not drink with men except on special particular occasions such as at a wedding feast. Women served men drink. They smoothed over quarrels as they developed. They plied their beauty in the service of their families to weave frith, to weave peace, to create comradeship and brotherhood. “…the spiritual service performed as part of a Germanic wife’s duty was indeed her essential work as a weaver of frith.” (Gronbech, p 287)
In Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology Vol 1 he speaks at length on wise women, demi-goddesses, and their relationship to womanhood in general as well as their significance to men. Germanic law doubled the weregild for injury to a woman compared to the same offense done to a man. He notes that greater sacredness was ascribed to the prophesies of women. He also notes that even after the Christian conversion, men placed the good will of women on a par with God in importance to the success of their war efforts. A man could simply speak the name of his beloved and this would call her holiness to him for protection and victory, giving him courage. But on the opposite hand, a woman forfeits her protection and holiness “the moment she takes up weapons” (p 397)
Why am I going on about this?? What in all that’s holy does this have to do with today?? What’s it got to do with heathenry or Asatru??
I was recently at a Midsummer event during which high sumbel took place. It began at 9 and continued until after midnight. It was a co-ed event, and there were approximately 1/3 more men than women participating. It was not organized by rank, other than the high gothi of course drank first, then it went in a clockwise spiral around the rings of participants. The first round consisted of toasts and invocations to the God of the drinker’s choice. The second round consisted of boasts of living ancestors, the next round to dead ancestors, and then finally any oaths that were to be made.
I did not participate though I sat through it all. My reasoning for non participation was simply that I don’t think women should participate in sumbel with men. Why? Well, because I’ve done a lot of research regarding it and my lone documentation for women participating is post – conversion where a minne is drank to St. John in a church and the priest passes the cup to the congregation to drink after blessing it. What I’ve found regarding women’s participation in sumbel, other than passing the cup, is vanishingly small.
Women did drink together, a sharing of the cup, but they did so with each other, separately from the men though generally at the same event. There is a short paragraph in Gronbech relating that “those vessels wherein women drink to one another across the floor shall go to the daughters.” (Gronbech p 287) I would assume that, generally, this means that the woman of the house would serve the men first, and as the formality of the sumbel reached its peak and general conviviality took over, that women would retire to their own gathering. Did they have their own sumbel? We don’t know. That they likely made oaths, remembered the ancestors, and drank to the Gods would only make logical sense. But to call that a sumbel? I think probably not.
This, to me, relates back to the preceding paragraphs regarding the essential sacredness of women, their essential holiness that was signified by their long hair. Sumbel was a way for men to regain holiness via sacred drink together, to drink to the Gods and reaffirm their relationship both to their lord and to their Gods, and to make oaths that would further bind them to both.
I know feminism has done much to return to women the status they had in pre-Christian times. I myself have benefitted from the advances of feminism – at least first wave feminism. I am grateful for those advances, for the acceptance that women should have equal status in humanity as men. I don’t think we are interchangeable however. I was a good firefighter and a good paramedic, but let’s face it – there are some things I’m never going to be able to do, no matter how strong I am, because I’m not a man. I’m a woman. Because I’m a woman, I have different priorities and different views on things.
Men gain holiness by their acts, women have holiness by their sex. And they lose it by their acts, if those acts include taking up weapons. Not to say that women couldn’t or didn’t. There are so many tales of women taking up weapons in defense of their homes, of becoming warriors in their own right, that to try to imply that they were just wilting flowers would be ludicrous. BUT. They did so knowing, understanding, that they were sacrificing something very important by doing so. One thing we do not have documentation for is how they regained their essential holiness. This is something I will have to explore at greater length some time in the future.
I simply don’t think women should participate in sumbel, even if equal rights is a thing. This is based on my research into these interrelated things. If women have sumbel, it should be a separate thing, honoring their own personal patron Gods/esses.
The only women who should participate in sumbel are the women passing the cup (who are not drinking) and the women who have taken up weapons (who are drinking, because they need to regain their holiness the same as men). Yes, our Gods evolve, yes, our religion evolves, but if we are to revive this thing we call Asatru, heathenry, the heathen mindset, then we need to do it in this area as well.
In the literature we have on Uppsala, there is documentation that priests of Frey were cross dressers at the least. And Odin dresses as a woman to learn and perform Seidh. I would say, therefore, that some level of transvestitism was performed and acknowledged in ancient ways, because we have the evidence both in the lore and the literature to support it.
And in a separate, but also I.E. tradition, male devotees of Cybele would dance themselves into a frenzy and castrate themselves, thereafter identifying as females, in order to be priest(esses) of Her order. I would also point out that She shares several traits in common with Freyja including the lions pulling her chariot.
I still see a lot of the over culture assumption of Christian values in heathens. Including in my own group, at least as regards some issues like this. Now, from a purely utilitarian point of view, I agree with the stance that gays and transgenders are not openly welcomed, though tolerated. This does not support the growth and preservation of the tribe, that much is obvious. And with us still having such small numbers, and being so spread out, I can understand this position. I can even support it from the purely utilitarian point of view. Though frankly, on a personal level, I don’t really care, as long as it’s not directly hindering me from doing something I need to do for myself or my family, or my tribe, and as long as you aren’t harming others in the process. And you aren’t holding yourself up as an example to aspire to for the children of the group.
And from a population genetics point of view, homosexuality is predicted and expected as the population grows and pressures are placed on species due to competition for resources. This I see playing out in real life. Again, I don’t care, I see a scientific hypothesis being independently confirmed in real life.
But I have a serious philosophical question. Or related group of questions, rather.
If our religion is going to grow and develop, if we are going to ever have actual cult temples devoted to particular Gods and Goddesses, is there a place for them as there was in ancient times? Will we ever accept cross dressing or even transgendered male to females being priests for Frey? Will we accept transvestitism from men in order to learn and perform seidh?
Now, in a recent comment on just this topic, someone said that there is a big difference between the modern PC culture of gay and transvestism, and ancient cross dressing. I am of the opinion(s) that yes, and no. There was no surgery to make it final. Other than castration for men, and mastectomy for women. But I have to wonder if those priests were in fact castrated and if they identified as women in service of their God. Of course, we also know there were priestesses and cis gendered priests of the same God. I don’t think they (castrati or whatever they were) were accepted in regular society, I think they were only accepted in the role of devotee/priest/ess. But there was a place for them.
For many years I felt like I was an exhausted swimmer, thrashing about in a choppy ocean, trying to get to – somewhere – I wasn’t sure where.
I was, frankly, not a good wife to my first husband. This is both my fault and his. I was too young to really understand my role and importance; he was disappointed that I was too young (once he realized it was an issue) and punished everyone in the house for that.
I overcompensated drastically for that once I was divorced; I did everything I could to make sure I would NEVER have to depend on a man for ANYTHING again. I worked two jobs, sometimes three, to make sure I pulled my full weight (and that of my children) in any household budget where there were two adults. I sacrificed my children’s childhoods in doing so, but I did at least teach them a strong work ethic.
When I remarried I continued this pattern. And I began to really feel as though I was at sea with no life jacket.
When I came (back) to heathenry I began to feel that there was a place for a strong woman – but it wasn’t the one I was occupying. This made me very dissatisfied and made things worse, in a way, as I watched my partner unravel. I FINALLY knew what I wanted but I didn’t know how to get there.
I was wrong to coddle my man by always taking the brunt of things, by trying to do the job of two, by allowing him to isolate himself. I was wrong to think I *could* do the job of two without suffering consequences both in myself and in terms of my relationships.
I need a strong man that can hold me up when I’m weak, that can take up the slack, that can allow me to do my duties without doing his too. One that is strong enough to put up with a strong woman.
Maybe someday I can have that. And if not…well I guess it’s not in the cards. But I at least have a direction with my faith. And a hope that it can someday happen.
So maybe I don’t actually need one, but the ideal situation would be to have one. Marriage in the lore was an amazing partnership.
This has been a year filled with upheaval.
This is the year I took a really good look around me at wider society and realized that, though I was considered a flaming liberal in my younger years, I am now – without having changed many fundamental views at all – considered a conservative, a racist, a white nationalist, homophobe, transphobic, Islamophobe, alt right, …. whatever else people on the other end of the spectrum think is a pejorative.
So let’s look at a few of these. First: racist. Since thanks to my mother I have some NA in me (not enough for a quantum, but the point is it’s there), and my mother was married to a NA, I’m pretty sure we can ditch this right now. But let’s go further – my family also has some Jewish ancestry thanks to a torrid love story that ended with a Catholic marriage, only to be followed some years later by a Catholic excommunication and a splitting of the family into Protestant and Catholic camps. I have never put down any race for anything. I do recognize there are widely differing cultural elements in different peoples, some of which I admire and some of which I find abhorrent – including in my own cultural group, Midwest white lower middle class. I’m pretty sure that makes me observant, not racist.
Conservative. Funny how time works. This may be the only thing where my views have evolved, largely because I went into the work force and actually had to provide for myself and my children. I used to be very much like the California style liberals – medical care is a human right, food is a human right, water is a human right, sewer service is a human right, housing is a human right. Well, not so much. Because taxes are a thing. And because there are FAR too many moochers out there.
Now I feel differently in a few ways:
1. First, clean water. Well, having water that isn’t going to kill you is a good thing to have. And that has been largely taken care of across our country via sanitation systems which include water treatment plants. The thing is, our taxes only pay a portion of that. You as a consumer still need to have some skin in the game and pay a service fee. The idea behind that being that a portion of the service fees don’t go to pay for anything now, but go into a fund for future needs for the community. Yes, I realize that has not happened in many cases. But we’re not talking about how it is (in places like Flint for example) we’re talking about how it should be (and mostly works, in places like Missoula for example). If you don’t pay your fees, your water will be shut off, eventually. This is not difficult to understand, one would think. But though assistance plans are available, and though people are informed on ways to conserve water, they continue to waste prodigious amounts of water and to default and, instead of taking responsibility for their non payment, they scream about water being a human right when what they *actually* mean is that CLEAN water, treated by the cities they live in, should be available to them for free regardless of the actual cost of providing said water. And regardless of the agreements they signed when they hooked up to the city water service.
2. Sewer. This operates on much the same principle as clean water does. The ability to wash your dishes, your body, your clothing, your floors, and use a toilet to flush your waste, and have all that effluent simply run down a drain for someone else to handle is an AMAZING thing. We happen to have a septic system, but we have lived in cities as well. This is an expensive service to provide, mainly because the risks to the population if not done correctly are huge, and the liability involved is also huge. I don’t know if you are aware, but workers are at huge risk of getting Hepatitis C – for instance – from raw sewage. It’s a nasty, dirty job, and the pay needs to be very good to compensate those who are willing to get the education and training to keep the rest of us safe. It’s not in fact a human right. It’s a privilege of living in modern society. Yes, I’m aware that there have been night soil workers in the past. But it was still very primitive and people often got sick due to the primitive nature of the system and the fact that raw sewage was often dumped directly into the river system from which people got their water.
The U.N. says the right to clean water and sewage is a human right. They do not however provide any funding to assure said rights, and their declarations have no force of law. So, until they pony up the money to all those people in Detroit and elsewhere to pay their bills and keep them in clean water and sewage, I will continue to ignore the U.N. It’s quite easy to pontificate on a subject about which you have no financial responsibility.
For both of these essential services I was blissfully ignorant of the science and technology involved. When I was small I never considered it, and when I was of the age to begin considering it, we had a well and a septic system so it remained a relative non issue. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned how it all works. That’s when I realized how very expensive it is to provide water and sewer service, and how important the payments are in providing – and continuing to provide – these services.
3. Medical care. This one is a hot button for many people, me included. I think we as a society have a responsibility to provide basic medical services to CHILDREN. If we take care of our children, they will grow up to be as healthy as they can be, and are more likely to become productive citizens if they are as healthy as they can be. Getting regular visits to catch things like a lazy eye, or hip dysplasia, early, will prevent complications and permanent disability later.
For adults….not so much. People who do not have to pay anything for their medical care are much more likely to over use the system by increasing ER visits than those who either have commercial insurance or are on Medicare, or no insurance at all. Some patients cite the copays they must pay at their primary care office as a reason for going to the ER, because they don’t have one if they go there. Here is the original study abstract if you’d like to read it, the one that confirms what every EMS and ER worker already knew.
This is a huge issue. If people have no financial skin in the game they have no financial incentive – or any other incentive, really, to follow medical provider advice or instructions, no matter how carefully the provider tries to involve them in their care plan. They will consistently take the easiest, and the cheapest, way out. Which in America involves the ER, because they don’t have to pay.
Oh, you say, but people on Medicaid are sicker….? And….let’s go back to the statement about having financial skin in the game. In AZ for instance, there is a $4 copay for office visits. Almost ZERO patients pay this, because they know they don’t have to. They also don’t have to pay the copay for their medications. If a provider writes a prescription for Tylenol, Medicaid (AHCCCS in AZ) pays for it. But there’s a price attached for the rest of us, the taxpayers, a very heavy price. Generic tylenol costs about $2.99 for a bottle. If you pay cash. If the taxpayers pay for it, the cost goes up to approximately $34.99 per bottle.
When I worked in the ER mothers would bring their children in for a cold, nothing more. When Tylenol was recommended, they would insist on a prescription. Why? Because they don’t have to pay for it. Many of these same patients have *very* expensive gold jewelry, the newest iPhone, designer purses, and perfect manicures. Yes, some of these patients *are* sicker. However in many cases it’s because they refuse to listen to advice to exercise, lose weight, and eat a healthier diet. That involves effort, and most are not willing to invest effort if there is a free option such as a pill. Even though a type II diabetic will likely end up in renal failure or losing extremities to amputation, most will continue to take metformin over making real changes to their health. And all the new medications developed? They are there because patients just won’t do what they need to do to take charge of their health. It’s just too hard to change. And there’s no financial incentive to do so, because they don’t bear the cost of their health care. We do, the working taxpayers. Even their transportation to and from medical appointments is free for them, courtesy of the taxpayer, here in AZ.
There is no cost involved in walking around the mall for a morning, if it’s too hot or cold outside, and there is no cost involved in walking around your neighborhood if it’s safe enough. There is no cost, when you have food stamps, in choosing healthier foods and fewer foods that come out of a box. And please don’t give me the BS line about they can’t afford it. I was on food stamps when I first divorced my ex-husband. I did not need to feed my children crap. I fed them mostly from the produce aisle just as I always had. Rice, beans – from the produce aisle. Tofu – from the produce aisle. Veggies and fruits – same. My crockpot was, and is, my friend. So is my pressure cooker.
I think the copays must be enforced. I think everyone should have some financial skin in the game, whatever their income. I think people need to be held accountable for their health decisions. How? I don’t know, other than financial accountability.
Homophobe. Nope, never have been. Don’t want to be homosexual, am not homosexual, not wired that way, but could care less if they want to get married. Go ahead, be my guest. The political ramifications of homosexuality in our modern society however….*F* that to be blunt. If you’re gay and you want a wedding cake, then don’t sue the Christian baker who doesn’t want to make it for you. Go to a baker who doesn’t give a shit. Ferchrissakes, buy a clue already. All you’re doing is creating an even more hostile environment for yourselves where you’re going to be less safe and more likely to be the target of hostilities in the long run. And you’re giving nut ball extremists Christians fuel for their Satanic agenda fantasies. As to access to medical care, I really don’t care if you’re gay or straight, bi or a sexual. If your sexual behavior makes you more at risk for certain things then that’s something we need to discuss, but other than that I honestly don’t care. Your sex life is your business.
Transphobe. Nope, see homophobe above. I think they are seriously mentally ill, but I also recognize that population genetics plays out on a much larger scale than many realize. I had a neighbor for 2 years who was transgender male to female. In that time I went from being sympathetic to pretty well fed up. No, you are not a special snowflake. No, your needs and wants do not trump mine. No, you are not entitled to special treatment. No, you do not deserve to get angry when people mistake you for a cross dressing man because you won’t get the laser treatments for your face, and you refuse to work on the feminine voice and physical behaviors. And most importantly, the world does not revolve around transgender issues, and not everything is related to transgender issues.
Islamophobe. Nope. Although I do have to say that the Golden Age of Islam was the product of Shia Islam, not Sunni. Shia valued ancient knowledge, both spiritual and practical, and were the keepers of this knowledge and in fact kept it alive by employing the peoples from the areas they conquered in teaching *them* this knowledge. They are the mystics of the religion of Islam. All of the radical Muslims in the world arise from Sunni Islam. Wahabists, ISIL, Daesh….all of them. They are now, and have from the start, persecuted the Shia. Their goal was, is, and shall always be, to wipe them from the face of the earth. Along with the rest of us who just won’t bend over and convert.
White nationalist. Nope. Please refer back to racist, and to islamophobe, and conservative. I care that two of my ancestral homelands on my mother’s side, Germany and France, have been turned into cesspools of terror and violence, and the countries are becoming unrecognizable as their unique identities they cultivated over thousands of years are being systematically destroyed. I care that my grandparents’ homeland, Ireland, is suffering the same fate. I care about preserving the cultures that I came from, about preserving the peoples that I came from, about making sure they continue to exist in the future, not becoming subsumed in the current hyper saturation of incoming (invading?) cultures that have no interest in assimilating whatsoever. I care that Sweden, my sons’ ancestral homeland via their great grandparents, has been turned into something completely unrecognizable. I don’t want to see the cultures and countries that produced my ancestors disappear completely, to become something unrecognizable as what they have been.
Alt-right. Still not quite sure what this is supposed to mean, even though I’ve read up on it. If it means I think people should take responsibility for their actions, to work for their stuff, to be good citizens, to fight corruption by getting involved in a responsible way, to raise their children to be the same, then I guess I am. Nazi? Meh. Hitler had some crazy ass ideas. He also had some good common sense ideas. Like anyone else. The too bad part is that the crazy ass ideas were so awful we can never explore the good ones, simply because he thought of them.
And BTW. Calling me any or all of these epithets will get you …. exactly nowhere. Because the power of these has been expended in the last year. I rather suspect I represent the backbone of America now, more or less.
The saddest part? Without changing most of my political viewpoints, I have gone from being a liberal in my youth to being called all of these things in my middle age. Because they political spectrum has shifted THAT FAR in 30 years.
My husband is … away. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, I don’t know. I suppose it depends on things that may or may not be in either of our control. It feels a little weird.
The house is very quiet. I’ve been doing some cleaning projects that I simply haven’t had the energy to get to until now. It’s shocking how much chronic resentment and anger can sap one’s energy. Today I feel tired, but it’s because I’ve been working on and off all day, scrubbing dishes, cleaning the stove, the outside of the fridge and dishwasher, getting on my hands an knees and scrubbing in the corners before mopping, moving things and scrubbing counter tops. Vacuuming in corners that haven’t been touched in a year. Dusting. Organizing. The sad thing is it still looks like crap.
When one works 6 days a week (and at least 3 of these days are 13-14 hour days) these are the things that get left undone. When one spends free time avoiding confrontation, and letting resentment/anger/horror at the situation build, these are the things that get left undone.
When one watches one’s life partner slowly lose their sense of self and purpose, and slip into a nether region, with no independent identity, it’s frightening and stressful. When one watches them crawl into a deep pit, and they refuse to come out even when you throw them a ladder, it’s horrifying.
These are the things that make one lose sleep in the middle of the night.
So, back to the promised topic of localized heathenry.
At the heathen meetup barbeque Mr. TF and I went to several weeks ago, we were invited to go camping for a heathen moot in the middle of the month, and they will be celebrating Winter Finding at this moot. We had to decline because we are already committed to a Samhain campout at the end of the month. We in turn invited them to come – and they declined because it’s not a heathen holiday. Eh?
This is exactly the reason I think heathenry should be local to your region. Because I live in Arizona and let’s face it – even at my altitude mid October is nowhere near winter! As a long time gardener I know my local climate conditions. The first frost comes usually the last weekend of October or the first weekend of November. The last frost comes usually Mother’s Day weekend. So for me, Winter Finding is the weekend of the first hard frost – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers all die from that frost so as far as I’m concerned it’s the official end of the canning season as well as the official end of summer. And that’s what Winter Finding is supposed to be all about. The ending of summer, the beginning of the cold, the start of the Wild Hunt, retreat indoors to fires and stews and quiet contemplation.
Where I grew up, in N. Michigan, the first frost was usually the second week of September, and we usually had over a foot of snow on the ground by Halloween/Samhain. So it would be ridiculous to celebrate Winter Finding mid October, there’s already snow on the ground. It would be logical that they celebrate it at the time of the first frost, which for them happens to generally coincide with the fall equinox. Which is on a very different schedule from my first frost!
And vice versa for Summer Finding. We don’t have much of a spring here – our weather goes from a late snow in April (that doesn’t stick) to 90 degrees in about a two week time period. I have never yet been able to grow spinach – it gets too hot and it bolts long before it’s big enough to eat because of this. But it continues to frost on and off at night until the second weekend of May. Realistically, our celebration of Beltaine on the last weekend of April/first weekend of May is too soon for our local climactic conditions but we’ve been celebrating with our friends/local tribe of Pagans but not heathens for the better part of 20 years so we will continue to do this. It too is “not a heathen holiday” but it’s a part of the ancestral culture of my people (Irish). Summer Finding for me is celebrated best by planting feverishly with dirt under my nails and imagining the harvest to come. Which happens as it should after Mother’s Day weekend and my worries about frost are pretty much nil. But if you look at the heathen calendar Summer finding is celebrated in March. That might work somewhere else but it really doesn’t work here. As far as I’m concerned if I can’t grow stuff it’s not summer yet.
Disablot and Yule are pretty much the same regardless – the 12 nights of Christmas are a direct reflection of the Christianization of the Mother Nights. Same prohibitions even, like for instance no spinning during the the Yule month.
The Wheel of the Year makes more sense in a locality where there *are* four seasons. In Scandinavia, as here in Arizona, where we basically have two seasons, it makes less sense. Our ancestors would have celebrated (or not) the holidays based on their local area climate and traditions. We should too.
Being an *actual* polytheist, meaning I actually believe in the individuality and agency of the Gods, makes for interesting conversations at nearly any Pagan gathering. Given that where I live at least, those who share my religious belief (regardless of their particular practice – Wiccan, Hellenic, Druid, Heathen etc) are definitely in the minority, at least among the people who attend the same sorts of functions I do. There may be other hard polytheists out there, but they’re not attending the meetups and public gatherings as far as I can see, not in any great numbers.
I have met up with some local heathens, and while they are very nice people, we don’t seem to have much in common with most of them. We disagree on what constitutes racism, we disagree whether or not European cultures are worth saving, whether a girl identifying as a boy is a thing that should be encouraged, whether UPG (unverified personal gnosis aka the Gods speaking to you personally) and SPG (shared personal gnosis aka the Gods telling many people the same thing) is a relevant part of building a tradition or in deepening one’s spirituality and should be spoken of in mixed company, and more that may nor may not be actually relevant to forming a lasting religious tradition. Something that struck me was that, while they have read the lore, and are more experienced than I in the actual lore by at least a decade, was that they seem to have picked and chosen which parts of the lore they use to support their belief (and twisting a lot out of context) while ignoring those parts that do not agree with their views. That is my opinion based on very limited interaction so don’t take what I say as face value, it may be that further talks would reveal a different understanding.
So it was with pleasure that we met a husband and wife at our first large “interfaith” gathering this past year. They and we had a lot in common. Because of them we (OK I, it was my decision to go and Mr. TF went along) went to the already existing local meetup. Over time we began discussing our personal philosophy and spirituality. We found a lot more in common with them. One of the most important things being that at least two of us are actual hard polytheists and have had spiritual experiences that have convinced us of the reality of the Gods.
All of us have experienced the disappointment of going to ritual only to have frivolity and disrespect be a part of the ritual. All of us, both the agnostics and the polytheists, have felt that it deters from building an actual living religion that will grow into something more, something that has an entire culture integral to it. We all have experienced the desire to be a part of something more, something that would actually sustain a people.
It seems to us that people make the jump into Paganism as a rebellion but that’s where they stay. They don’t grow, they don’t take to heart “know thyself,” they don’t take responsibility. So when crisis hits, as it always will, they have no reserves, nowhere to turn, nothing to sustain them. And for some of them crisis remains a permanent part of their existence – because they don’t understand the personal power they have to change it, don’t understand the power the Gods have to help them change it. As at least two of the four of us are believers in the Old Gods of the North, we have a baseline that helps us understand the expectations the Gods have of us.
So we have been talking. And we have no firm ideas but we have a starting point. At the next large interfaith gathering, we are going to make sure the left over catered food goes to the needy. In OUR community. Not to the food bank or anywhere else. And we are going to set up guidelines for this for all future gatherings. If we’re going to talk good words about hearth culture, then we’re going to make sure our hearth is cared for.
So I’ve been working 6 days a week for several months now, since the beginning of February. I have to say I’m getting more than a little burned out. I work 3 days a week for another provider and 3 days a week building my own business.
This has been QUITE the learning curve. I have a subscriber who is a physician in Canada who I envy because he has no concept of the hoops that must be jumped in order to become credentialed AND contracted with the insurance companies here in the US! Suffice it to say they seem to, from my point of view, have a slew of employees that get paid a very good wage to do a whole bunch of nothing much. And blow lots of sunshine. And pass the ball. But not actually come through and do what they say they will. Not all, mind you. Some have been exceptional. And some employees have been quite exceptional. But overall….yeah. Just wow.
So the reason this is about wyrd is because of two (well three really) things that intersected in the strangest and most wonderful way today.
- The credentialing/contract thing. And the continuing non responses. I have a friend who is helping me out of the goodness of her heart. She has been involved in contracting/credentialing for 40 years. She knows her stuff and she believes in my business and what I want to do for our community.
- My son. He works for a business in our closest big city, where he started out as a data entry person and is now a vice president. Hard work, dedication, and literacy *are* rewarded on occasion. He has contacts in high places thanks to his position.
- I’m a devotional polytheist. And I believe in making offerings to my ancestors, the land spirits, and the Gods because I’m grateful. That’s all. To me the whole Germanic gifting cycle is us being grateful for what we have, not in order to get anything. It’s not a transactional relationship. And if you think it is, then you don’t understand the gifting cycle. Now, when you need something that’s different, and a different thing, and not directly related to the gifting cycle. At least not to me. No tit for tat in my devotions.
So how these all intersect is that my friend and I had a very frustrating and relatively unfruitful day following up on these contacts I signed months ago with no provider privileges in sight. Which means no ability to bill and get paid for the work I’ve already done, even as an out of network provider. Which I was promised I would be able to do when the contracts were finalized.
And a phone call from my son. In which he had some questions about my university, and about my degree program, and what was involved (for reasons which shall go unsaid). And his frustrations. And I shared my frustrations with him, and named names about insurance companies we dealt with today. I did NOT realize when I was dumping on him that he actually is on a first name basis with some of the very top power players with the same insurance companies. But I found that out in short order!
Long story short. Son and friend were put into contact. Son and friend are pulling strings on a level I would quite simply be unable to accomplish on my own. Things are going to happen now that might have taken a year or more without them both working on this.
And how does that relate to the gifting cycle, or to wyrd? Well, if you’re a heathen you already know.
Quite simply, I firmly believe that my gifting prompted a return – not as a transactional relationship, but as an outpouring of blessing for my devotion and offerings. I also believe my investment in my children, my insistence on personal responsibility and work ethic – even when they were VERY sadly off track, has paid off. Not that I expected that, I’m just glad they are happy and feel successful in whatever they do. But the fact that others recognize them for their dedication and responsibility is an amazingly reassuring thing.
And my wyrd, the web that I have woven using the ancestral heritage, and adding my own actions, has made my luck good. I’m able to call on the help of friends, the help of family, and the help of people I don’t even know to aid myself to serve my community (and make a *small* living doing it).
This is what it’s all about. My gratefulness meter is just about pegged out. And my pride in my children is too.
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 🙂