Confronting racism? More like putting your own petty values onto the Gods.


Confronting Racism

I have read this blog for a while now, I disagree with the flaming liberalism but the information is often well reasoned when it comes to maintaining a personal relationship with the Gods.  However, this post required a post of its own because my response to her got so long.

What utter arrogance.  What utter, blind, supremacy is espoused in this young woman’s post.  I’m frankly stunned.

I am a voracious consumer of things arising from cultural exchange.  I know a little of some foreign languages, enough to understand though not really enough to speak; I love certain kinds of foods and clothing that come from other cultures; I adore jewelry and furniture from cultures not my own.  I enjoy speaking with people from other cultures who didn’t grow up here, to get their views on the “insider view” of their culture and home country.  I am a voracious history buff.  I read archeology and linguistics journals for fun and personal education.

So here’s what I responded with:

First of all, I know Stephen personally and if he’s anything, he’s a separatist, not a supremacist.  How in the world you can call him a supremacist when he has spent decades fighting all over the world for minorities like the Tamils against the elites of their respective countries?  

He was a signatory on the 1993 Declaration of War against the Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality.  He has never once, in his writings or in person, expressed any idea of feeling that he is superior.  What he has expressed, over and over, is that Gods of a people arise from their people.  Just like he is passionate about the idea that the Lakota have a right to their Gods without cultural appropriation from others.  THAT is all.   

Second, Stephen hasn’t been the head of the AFA since 2015.  Matt Flavel has been.  

Third, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but Stephen himself is the one who began expressing the idea of the Gods as being in tribes and clans, and that we as people are as well.  He’s the one who began promoting tribalism in heathenry.  And it’s true.  That is how human society has worked since the beginning.  It works.  The only thing different now is that we can communicate across thousands of miles and have much more interaction with those of other tribes, families, ethnicities.

The US was approximately 95% white in 1965.  Like it or not, it’s fact.  But that didn’t make us monolithic at all.  In researching my family tree, I have discovered that the Germans married Germans.  The Irish married Irish.  Etc.  It literally wasn’t until my parents got together that there was ANY crossover, and my respective families knew each other for 100 years, and worked together on different things, such as Rum Running during Prohibition.   But they didn’t go to the same churches, they didn’t live in the same neighborhoods, and they really didn’t associate very much outside of the occasional friendships.  And hey, guess what – my parents broke up.  No surprise.  Different cultures, little shared clan/tribe minutia, and lots of pressure on a couple. 

While you’ve apparently had a terrible relationship with your family, that’s not the norm.  I have children.  I love those children more than I will ever love you, for instance.  I love my kindred members.  They are adopted, initiated family.  They are my clan.  I don’t take that lightly, and I love them more than I love many of my other friends, regardless of how long I’ve known some of them.  Family comes first.  Always.  And if, someday, you were to become initiated into our kindred, you would have my love and loyalty on the same level as they do.  Because then you would be family/clan/tribe. Hell, I even still have love for my ex husband and regard for his safety and well being.  He’s still family, we share children, and have history together.  He’s an asshole, but he’s family asshole.  Not neighbor asshole.  Or stranger asshole.   

I think it defies logic to have the idea that Odhinn for instance wouldn’t accept worship from someone of African ancestry.  Of course He would.  That doesn’t mean that person will be around for the long haul.  Odhinn uses and discards people, even those of His own people, and that’s a fact.  It doesn’t make Him any less a God.  It doesn’t make him any less a God of the Germanic and Scandinavian originating peoples.  To pretend otherwise is prevarication.  

There is no hatred in saying that I like what I grew up with more than what I have come into contact with as an adult.  I like Indian food.  I am a good Indian food cook.  But I don’t want to eat it every day and it’s not what I grew up with, and if I want comfort food I’m going to make chicken and dumplings or a pot roast, not lamb stuffed eggplant.  

Frith and grith are not the same.  And you of all people should know this.  Frith was for FAMILIES.  Grith is for other tribes/clans/and the greater outside.  I deal with my neighbors in grith, but I don’t make the mistake of giving them a key to my house.  Freyr is the God of peace, IN THE OLD GERMANIC SENSE.  Not in the modern progressive sense.  

Tyr will uphold justice.  Period.  If a person who happens to be a minority assaults a “white supremacist” that person should face equal justice under the law.  If a white person assaults a minority, that person should face equal justice under the law.  THAT is what Tyr will do.  Nothing more.  He’s not going to refuse to hear a prayer just because you don’t happen to like the ethics or values of the person making the prayer.  

There are Nazis in Valhalla, because they fought with honor and because they were the best of the best.  You might not like it, but it’s so.  Odhinn doesn’t give a shit about your personal value judgements about Nazis.  

I really have to wonder at someone who will tirelessly defend the right of a transgender person’s right to choose their pronouns but will demonize someone who says that they have a right to be proud of their culture and history, who says they prefer their own.  I really have to wonder at your incredible arrogance, to put your personal values onto the Gods and expect Them to do YOUR bidding regarding from whom They accept worship, and to whom They give Their favors. 

Finally, to quote Stephen:  “Just because I love my own doesn’t mean I hate anyone else.”  And I can tell you that I am convinced that Stephen genuinely believes this.  He has a great love for other peoples, and he is a crusader for their rights to exist and not be forced to assimilate into their larger culture, and to keep their own Gods and rites as their own.  I respect that.  I respect him.  He is a very misunderstood individual and has suffered many slings and arrows promoting the idea that no, we are NOT all the same, and we DO have differences to be celebrated, not denigrated.  He’s not perfect.  He has issues like anyone else.  But:  if that offends you, if that threatens you, if you think that me preferring my own children means I hate you, if me preferring my own family/tribe/clan/culture over others FOR MYSELF means I hate others, if Stephen promoting these ideas means he is a white supremacist to you, then perhaps you should look at your programming. 

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Questions about Odhinn


Due to a recent conversation on a secret, closed group I belong to it spurred some questions.

Odhinn, by the time of the Anglo Saxon Conversions to Christianity, had the reputation of being treacherous, deceitful, oath breaking, etc.  I think that this, in part, is why the conversion of Anglo Saxon England went easier than Sweden for instance.

He was a God of War.  He required blood.  Lots of it.  He required the triple death in many cases but He was perfectly satisfied to accept blood.  In fact I believe it intoxicated him, much as the Mead of Inspiration did.

So let’s examine this.  Odhinn hung on the tree, sacrificed himself to himself, in search of enlightenment.  That tells me pretty plainly that he is a God in search of not only wisdom, but the evolution that comes from wisdom properly assimilated.

My personal experience, my personal gnosis, of Odhinn, is that he NEVER lies.  He also never tells the whole truth either.  His reputation for treachery, I believe, comes from this very thing.  It allows peoples’ personal biases to to color what they hear, often to their disappointment and peril.  I myself have been guilty of this on occasion.  My gnosis regarding this has made me evaluate most things in my life in this light.  Is it re-affirming personal biases?  Is it beguiling me because it’s what I want to hear?  Am I ignoring signals and evidence I should really be taking into consideration?  This has changed my outlook on life in ways you can’t imagine.  Is my life happier for this?  NO.  But it’s healthier in many ways.

So my questions to you are these:

  1.  How do you think Odhinn approaches His people in the current era?  We don’t sacrifice people to Him any more.  If He gets blood it’s because we give our own.  How does He get our attention now?
  2. How do you think he has changed over the millennia?
  3. Do you think he has evolved?  Is He more, or less treacherous?
  4. Why do you think he has gained such a position of supremacy?
  5. I have added a question – why do you think people are worshipping the Gods more than the wights and ancestors?

 

Please, take as much space as you need to answer these questions, or make a blog post of your own and link back for me to read.

 

Women and Sumbel


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??  

Because Sumbel.

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.

 

 

 

 

Community, Personal Responsibility, The World Isn’t Fair, Gods.


Atheist alert: this has a lot to do with spirituality and yes, religion. Deal. In my mind science and ‘woo’ co-exist in a dynamic relationship that causes occasional cognitive dissonance, but forces me to continually re-evaluate my worldview. In my view this is healthy and necessary.

Pagan alert: Not Politically Correct Commentary on our community. Deal. If it angers you, perhaps you need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

I’ve been through the wringer for the past six months. In that time I have been places that boggle the imagination. I’ve been a specimen under a microscope. I’ve been betrayed on a fundamental level by those closest to me, and by some of the very systems our society is predicated on as well. And. The truck was stolen, trashed, totaled, rebuilt. I lost a job. I spent money I didn’t have (thanks FIL for the help, more grateful than you’ll ever know) and am in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. I have a degree for a career I can’t work in. And I’m becoming more and more convinced I don’t want to work in it anyway, the way things are moving (see going places one doesn’t want to go, or my previous post). I have discovered, the hard way, that standing up for right doesn’t always mean you will be protected, or that things will work out. Sometimes you will be punished in the worst ways imaginable, and evil WILL prevail in spite of an individual’s or a community’s best efforts.

I’ve maintained a minimal level of spiritual practice through this, even if it has been nothing more than a simple acknowledgement of Deity and thanks for getting through another day. It has been nothing approaching the level of an actual devotional practice though, and I’ve felt that lack ever more keenly as I approached the end of my degree program. Once I finished, and had nothing else to occupy my mind but the drama and tragedies of life, it became a yawning chasm that contributed to my ennui and depression.  I literally couldn’t summon the energy to pray, let alone believe it would work.  I felt as though I just wasn’t worth it, that the Gods had better things to do than deal with me.

I believe in synchronicity. I believe in the fractal nature of the universe – As Above, So Below. I do believe that there are other entities, other dimensions, other realities than our own see/taste/touch/hear/smell reality, and that sometimes we reach out to those other entities/realities – and other times they reach out to us. I believe that things often happen for a reason, and that reason sometimes isn’t readily apparent for a very long time, if ever.  This faith was seriously shaken as a result of the happenings since January.

My children are fundamentalist Christians. Two, at least, were Pagan/anarchists earlier in teenaged life. I believe that they became Christians not because of the actual religion, but because of the structure and community it offers. This is something that very little of modern NeoPaganism offers, and I have seen that over and over and over again in the nearly 20 years I’ve been a Pagan.

In nearly 20 years as a Pagan, I’ve met more people who are trying to get on disability than I ever thought possible. I’ve met people ON disability who constantly cried about how poor they were, and who were no more disabled than I am, who ran side businesses based on cash to augment their disability payments and who actually had nicer things than Mr. TF and I do. I’ve met people who can’t keep a job, who can’t keep a relationship, who can’t keep an apartment, who can’t keep a car, who are using/abusing illegal drugs – and I’m not talking about marijuana here people – or who are abusing prescription drugs. When I worked in the ER I saw more than one person – significantly more than one – I knew from the local Pagan community come into the ER for problems directly related to prescription or illegal drug abuse or as “seekers.” It made for uncomfortable questions from fellow staff members, at the very least.

Many people who are drawn to the Pagan path often tend, in my experience, to be less than reliable on a personal level and tend to make very bad choices. These bad choices are ones for which they tend to not take responsibility. They misuse magick, in my opinion, as a tool to overcome lack of personal responsibility for bad choices rather than as a tool for self-development. Or they use it as a substitute for an actual spiritual relationship with Deity. Magick does NOT substitute for spirituality. And one does NOT need to do magick to enter into a relationship with Deity. Magick is a tool, it can sometimes be a vehicle, but it’s not the object (unless you are a Ceremonial Magician which is another conversation entirely). It’s as though they are drawn to Paganism because they perceive it as the one religion/practice for which they have to take no responsibility, and they can espouse beliefs that NO ONE can tell them are wrong. Cuz personal gnosis, you know.

Because of my experience (and that of my husband as well, I am writing this as an individual but we have shared this conversation many times between ourselves) we have mostly withdrawn from participation in and organization of Pagan events, particularly events like Pagan Pride, public Pagan holidays, Pagan meetups….you get the idea. The embarrassment of being associated with the crazies just simply began to outweigh the benefits of the participation.

And yes, I know there are those in the Christian community as well. However, they tend to be reined in by those who are around them, and either drawn into the fold or shunned. They are self-selecting in their long term participation.

As a side effect of withdrawing from public gatherings, my own spiritual practice has suffered – it’s not just the business of life/school/work/stressors, it’s been that I no longer go to events where I can get my spiritual batteries somewhat recharged because I’m participating in a community of believers. The very thing my children currently have. The thing I envy, even though I do not think a patriarchal herding religion from a desert region from 2000 years ago has any relevance for them – or for me, for that matter. I do ‘get’ why they turned away from a religious practice that *did* and *does* have relevance for them (and me). Because community. It’s important.

I have suspected for quite some time that the Pagans who were serious about their practice, at least in our area, were very secretive, or at the least insular, mainly because of the above. They are responsible adults and take their religion and spirituality very seriously, and they don’t want to associate with people who don’t. So, while believing firmly they’re out there, it also makes it very hard to find or connect with them. Friends of course excepted, but because of school/work commitments it’s made it hard for us to connect with them as well. When we’re all on different schedules and none of them coincide for all of us….you get the idea.

So why am I going on and on about this? Because I am going to a Pagan event for the first time in nearly a decade next month. I’m terrified. And excited. I don’t know if Mr. TF will come or not. He’s much more laid back about his spirituality, and doesn’t feel the need to actually connect the way I do – at least to hear him tell it.  And the way I found out about this event is nothing less than synchronicity.  It’s a Rube Goldberg nest of interconnected coincidences that defy logical explanation.

It’s not just any event though. It’s a Heathen event. I’ve shied away from heathenry for my entire time as a Pagan due to bad press about skin heads and racists who identify as heathen. I didn’t, and don’t, want to be associated with those who think the color of one’s skin denotes one’s worthiness to worship the Old Gods. When I first became a Pagan (or more realistically, realized that my spiritual beliefs were Pagan and I just didn’t know it) I was strongly advised against my interest in Norse spirituality by a Pagan friend who had recently spent 10 years in prison. His experiences there didn’t encourage me to try to follow up.

But recently I’ve been forced to rethink my blanket painting of this community thanks to blogs and websites devoted to heathens, as well as books I’ve had (and read previously) in my library. A recent re-reading of them revealed nothing that actually allows for this view, regardless of the views of a certain vocal percentage of heathens. And as far as I’ve read (which isn’t a lot, but also not nothing), there’s nothing in the lore that allows for this view either. As I stated earlier, I believe in synchronicity. And I believe the Gods call who They call. Regardless of skin color.

What I do know, is that the values Heathens espouse:

Nine Noble Virtues

are the same values I live my life by, and I want to associate with people who share my spiritual outlook as well as my ethics.  ETA:  because it doesn’t embiggen:  Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perserverance.

Illustration courtesy of   My Journey into Midgardr

I am hopeful that I can find a group of people with which to share community and spirituality. Gods know I’m ready after the half year I’ve had.