Othala is Not a Hate Symbol

1200px-Runic_letter_othalanI saw someone on Facebook today opining that the tattoo they’d gotten so proudly to honor their Gods was now being taken over by a neo-Nazi group. No. Many things can be corrupted and coopted but it doesn’t change the inherent nature of those things. It may alter our perceptions, yes, but othala remains othala, a conduit to a rune spirit of tremendous power, one that has nothing to do with our contemporary politics. It is only lost to hate groups if we allow it to be.

This rune is the rune of lineage and tribe, of tradition, of connection to our forebears, of right order. By that latter, I mean sacred covenants (with Gods, ancestors, land) in place and active. It is a rune of protection, of nurturing and nourishing the family, community, and all tribal bonds. It is that which keeps a community healthy, hale, and whole.  Those are all good things. We should be working to keep our families, our communities, our tribes if we had them anymore, safe and secure, healthy, we should be maintaining healthy boundaries and working for overall abundance and well-being. Othala is the transmission of knowledge and in a sacred context mysteries from one generation to another. It is one’s active connection to one’s ancestors and lineage, complete with all the obligations that entails made manifest. I think this is perhaps why it is a favored rune for white supremacist groups. It speaks to tribe and culture, tradition and lineage but what they miss when they co-opt it, is that it speaks to that for each group of people. It doesn’t just speak to that for those with white skin. It speaks to the goodness and necessity of connection to one’s forebears, and protection of one’s family for every tribe and people. That is contained in its nature, encoded in its DNA so to speak. This is what it holds, what it is. How do you make a people strong? How do you ensure that the next generation will be healthy and hale? How do you ensure clean transmission of tradition from generation to generation and what does it mean to do so? All of this is contained within this rune.

Generally, when I work Othala, I find that it connects very strongly first to the ancestors and then to Odin. For the former, it is very much about the active relationship with one’s honored dead, the give and take now as it immediately impacts one’s daily life. It’s about healthy transmission of knowledge, and daily maintenance of those sacred covenants. When it is more Odinic in its manifestation, it speaks to the obligations of sacred hierarchy, of kingship, of sovereignty, and the give and take between king and vassal, or in modern parlance, the necessary work to keep those covenants healthy and functioning properly. It speaks to the need for good boundaries, for self-knowledge, and for being able to look ahead – like Odin on Hlidskjalf— beyond the morass of daily emotions and Sturm and Drang of living to the problems that may face a family or community or tribe down the road, it speaks to the necessity of preparation, and of conscious piety being part of the best prep.

Most importantly of all, Othala is our connection to our folk. I hate that term ‘folk’ because of how it’s so often used, but it is our connection to those ancestors who were functioning polytheists. It is the bridge between what we have now as we work to restore, and what once was and as such it is a reminder of our obligations to be vigilant and strong in our work toward restoration. It reminds us that our ancestors hold the wisdom we need and with their help we can bridge the gap between what was, what is, and what we very much wish to create. Othala is the citadel, under protection of the Gods and dead that has never fallen and will never fall so long as we continue fostering right relationship with the Powers, including our own communities.  

I too grow angry when I see hate groups mis-using our sacred symbols, all the more so when it is people who clearly have no devotion to or veneration of the Gods and spirits in question. It angers me greatly. It is not theirs by right. It is not theirs to corrupt. It is not theirs to smear their pollution upon. (I feel the same way when I see Wiccans or Pagans handling the runes without any thought to the Mysteries behind them. I feel the same way when I see Marvel misusing the Valknot or other symbols. It’s appropriation. It’s disgusting. I do understand very much the anger and disgust such misappropriation can evoke). But that they do this does not change the inherent nature of the rune or the rune spirit itself and I think it’s important to not let people’s mis use cause us to abandon these things that are in fact the right of all those steeped in the Northern Ways, or bound to its Gods, or called by its spirits. To abandon that which is ours by right is as great an error as to claim that which is not. We simply have to be louder in proclaiming our traditions, in showing the rune in the proper context, in working as we have each been called to work for the restoration of our traditions. In the end, if the Gods will and our work is successful, those traditions will stand and their ignorant usurpers will be nothing more than a pathetic blip in the march of history. Othala is about preserving and building, not tearing down and not hate.

 

 

 

 

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Posted on August 15, 2017, in Heathenry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Owl Hill Farm and commented:
    Like most of the heathen blogosphere, I don’t always agree with this individual. This time, however, I really do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm. I edited my comment on my blog but it didn’t come through here. I realized too late that what I meant to say is not what came out. My apologies.

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  2. I just got back from a local festival where I wore the kolovrat on a t shirt, since I am a Polish polytheist Rodnover. I got a few stares and one guy asking me if it was a neonazi symbol before I had to clear the issue up. And this was at a pagan festival, where some should at least be able to differentiate between the two symbols.

    I am Polish. My grandfather fought the Nazis in WWII and suffered heinous injuries at their hands, and it sickens me that some would conflate the two symbols or jump to conclusions.

    Especially with what’s going on in the news, I am pessimistic as to the future, but I am doing what I can to dispel myths and half-truths. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well said, Galina Krosskova, well said!

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  4. Excellent post. “It is only lost to hate groups if we allow it to be” is the essence of my own most recent post. Great to have your insights into Othala too, very interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well said. Thank you.

    On a related subject – what are your thoughts on the synchronicity of the dwindling population of WWII Vets and our Ancestors Who experienced Nazism first hand and the current rise of Neo-Nazis? In my opinion, we in the USA do not teach history well and so we doom the next generation to reliving things that our Ancestors thought They had faced, fought, and (in Their minds) destroyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ganglerisgrove

      Well, my answer is two fold: firstly, I think the left is way too egregious and sloppy in deploying the term “nazi.” It has a specific meaning and I think we’re running the risk of it getting watered down to nothing. Secondly, I think we’re at a very dangerous time where WWII is falling out of living memory. I think that is dangerous for us as a people. I think it’s way too easy for lessons to be forgotten.

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      • What term would you recommend? I agree that using the mainstream term threatens to water down the the Historic reality of it, especially now that the men and women who knew it as a physical reality are fading away.

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  6. ganglerisgrove

    what term would I recommend? whatever is actually accurate and not a product of hyperbole. white supremacist and nazi are not synonyms.

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  7. Nor should the swastika, as a symbol, be considered as hateful, unless represented on a Nazi flag or accompanied by hateful words. The Nazis appropriated the symbol for 20 years or so, but it was used at least 3000 years before them. I wonder if we actually compare the cross and the swastika as symbols of religion and culture (not ideology), which one will actually be hateful, according to historical evidence? The answer is easy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Unfortunately, the swastika was hijacked by antisemites and Germanic nationalist extremists even before the Nazi’s themselves were a thing. I think its abuse by people with similar antisemitic and racial ideas goes back to the second half of the nineteenth century. Remember that the Nazi’s didn’t just come out of nowhere. There were extremists already in place, already professing many ideas and using symbols and language before the Nazi’s.

      That being said, I do agree with you that the abuse the swastika and other sacred symbols have suffered should not be allowed to taint their true meanings. And if they are used in a context that is not racist, antisemitic, neo-Nazi, etc., they should not be forbidden.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I agree that it’s wrong to use “Nazi” as a general insult, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who marched in Charlottesville who doesn’t want to be called a Nazi. If they didn’t want to be called Nazis they should have looked at the people waving Nazi flags and yelling Nazi slogans and gone home. Marching with Nazis under a Nazi flag makes you a Nazi.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      that i don’t dispute, but condemning antifa, objecting to unregulated immigration, disagreeing with the premise that one can hit someone one disagrees with, or being a folkish Heathen doesn’t. Hell i’ve seen people called. Nazis because they didn’t buy wholesale into some SJW agenda and that is just bullshit. If you’re marching under a Nazi flag, sure, neo-nazi is perhaps the appropriate term, but if you disagree with removing monuments, that’s a different story and there, [neo]nazi is not in any way, shape, or form, appropriate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ganglerisgrove

        Hell, i got called a nazi sympathizer by one of these nutcases yesterday for wondering (I used to work in HR) if one of the assholes who got fired when his picture showed up on social media outing him as a neo-nazi (he was apparently marching with a nazi flag) had a potential legal suit. Employer/employee laws vary somewhat from state to state and I find it rather concerning when an employer can fire someone for non-work related activities, political opinions or (where I would have gone with this if the conversation hadn’t degenerated), religious views. I often wonder if firings like this, in this political climate, won’t set a precedent that could potentially backlash on polytheists and pagans. but apparently the question is enough to make me a sympathizer. it’s utter bullshit promulgated by people who have zero critical thinking ability and who mistake emotion for reason. I have no time for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I definitely agree that we need to be louder than the white supremacists about what our sacred symbols really mean. Too many are being misused by racists. Instead of standing up and saying “that is NOT what this symbol means” many Heathens are trying to distance themselves from the runes, the valknot, or even Mjolnir. The white supremacists are being as loud and obnoxious as they can be in their attempt to claim our symbols and pervert our traditions. It’s well past time we drowned out their lies by shouting the truth even louder.

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  10. Daniel Christensen

    Unfortunately, the US Nazi Party has adopted Othala as their symbol instead of the swastika. I too have a friend who has since covered over her othala tattoo lest she be lumped in with them.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4250390/How-far-right-hides-new-symbols-hate-PLAIN-SIGHT.html

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