Archive | January 2013

Racism and Heathenry

I have encountered a number of situations where people have assumed or feared that my interest in heathenry would tie me to racist groups.  The first time this happened was early on and came from a dear and close black friend.  I have heard it off and on since including another friend whose own father told them: “Odin hates Mexicans.”

I do sincerely wish a certain Austrian psychotic house painter and his moron secret policeman had not appropriated such Teutonic symbols, but I cannot change history and, in fact, feel we must always learn from our past.

Here is a good post by someone I have not met, although I like their writing and a friend or two have vouched for them. It talks of our need to speak out and where the connections to racism come from:

http://grumpylokeanelder.tumblr.com/post/40855031880/question-why-do-a-few-people-draw-a-link-between-norse

You might also want to watch this, but be aware that it is quite disturbing.  It hit me hard the first time I saw it and I am still facing some internal qualms:

It should be obvious, but this sort of hatred and stupidity should not be part of any spiritual practice.  If you see such things, speak against them.  Maybe you will be lucky and social pressure will help.  If it does not, you are on record that all of us despise such beliefs.

Thank you for reading.

Anger, Passion, Reason and Responsibility

We heathens tend to be an incendiary lot, particularly online.  We can be extraordinarily dismissive of others and exceptionally certain of our own accuracy.  Many heathens seem to love a certain form of dogmatism, sometimes called Edda thumping.  I recognize that, at some level, we are all reconstructing a defunct tradition with different tools.  Most of us have to use some sort of scholarly tools, reading Eddas, sagas and other works to find a starting point.  I grant that some may not but even many of those I meet who have abandoned the title heathen or reconstructionist are frequently still well read, even when they cite nothing.

We also talk a lot about honor and hospitality, sometimes quoting the Havamal or other sources.  We talk about the strengths of our friendship and communities at length and some of us hold this out as making us superior to those terrible Wiccans or other groups for these perceived strengths.  But, like other religious groups, we seem to resolve our greatest vitriol for those on the paths closest to us who don’t happen to use precisely the same methods.  Now, one can argue that this is common to the human condition but we are generally the type of person who constantly strive to better ourselves.  And therefore, I raise this question:

Is this bickering and sometimes threatening archetype what we really need to be?

I have seen men on heathen forums or blogs imply that they would not mind if another’s house burned down.  I realize that we sometimes idealize our raider ancestors but we do now live in the 21st Century.  If we want to be taken seriously, should we not also consider that violent talk in public does not truly help our cause?  I write about anger, rage, berserkergang and other things here.  I do so because I believe they are a part of the human condition and denying them is foolish and sometimes dangerous.  I look at both the lighter and darker sides of this.   (If the terms are new, consider this article: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/berserke.shtml)

And yet, our ancestors struggled with this as well.  Those who did too much harm became outlaws or the lowest of men.  Control was still expected.  In fact, while it is part of the Christian Icelandic legal code, a law was eventually passed that required others to restrain the man who went berserk or else face the same penalty.  (See above article.)

So, my challenge to any reading this is threefold:

1) Consider your words before you speak them, especially the violent ones.

2) Consider why this other person offends you so and whether their difference with you is really that important.  What harm does their existence actually do you?

3) Counsel calm when others rage and laud those (in public or private) who do not succumb to such urges.

I see much that is positive in us and it hurts when someone I like or respect has stepped away when others were belligerent jerks because this person was “Not like us”.  Seriously?  Our ancestors traded with EVERYONE.

The positive power of Rage and Outrage

If you have not followed the news out of India, look here:  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/muted-new-year-celebrations-in-india-after-gang-rape-victims-death/2012/12/31/6e372eac-5370-11e2-abc4-3d33329b6128_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indian-protests-against-rape-are-part-of-a-new-urban-phenomenon/2012/12/24/1733c97c-4dde-11e2-835b-02f92c0daa43_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/18/gang-rape-of-a-girl-inside-a-bus-in-new-delhi-raises-outrage-in-india/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/01/us-india-rape-politics-idUSBRE90009M20130101

Feel free to do searches on other news sites as well, if you have not been following the story. It is worth understanding as part of it that Delhi seems to have a terrible history of sexual assault and harassment.  I should also note that I am an American with no direct connection to India or the issues at hand and am looking at this solely from the point of view of rage and anger as forces with the power to transform.  My connection to this conceptually came when a friend linked to the following:

http://daddysan.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/the-subjugation-capital/

The line that drew me most was: 

When you’re cornered by a wolf snarling and baring its fangs do you lecture it on the sanctity of life? No, you react.

My path has led me to that growling place of outrage more than once.  I salute the Rage of the women of India and hope they find a way to tap that power to change things for themselves.  To use the force of that deep and intense outrage to effect short term and long term change.

Sometimes, we must face the Fires in ourselves but see that they have been stoked by something that requires action.  Fire has always been powerful for good or ill.  Look into those Fires and ACT.