A Couple of Things…

Orthodox Ritual Praxis

This morning I read an article on Greek and Russian Orthodox Church services and it was fascinating. The services, particularly around holy week can be quite grueling. They last for hours and in the most traditional churches people are standing that entire time. Of course, they don’t just stand: they pray, they sing, they move to various icons and light candles and pray some more as the spirit moves them. It’s interactive and quite physically demanding. Here’s the article I read, which actually downplays quite a bit the physical exertion and discipline required.

So I read this and think: we can’t even get people willing to offer water without them whining about how put upon they are, and how they feel being expected to actually DO something is elitist, ablest, classist, insert ‘ism of your choice here.

If people cared about their Gods as much as they cared about the latest cause or video game or Dr. Who episode maybe we’d actually be getting somewhere but I look at articles like the above and realize exactly how far we have to go to hit even a bare baseline of active devotion.

 

The Vikings Didn’t Need Islam to be Religiously Fulfilled.

Then there’s this little gem. Apparently, the Arabic word for God (Allah) was found on some Viking textiles and a group of academics is using this as an opportunity to normalize Muslim invasion of Europe, and to erase our indigenous religions. The scholars involved are claiming that Vikings were influenced in their burial practices by Islam, extensively influenced, because of course Heathen religions couldn’t possibly have complex and fulfilling beliefs about the afterlife. Of course, the Vikings would have had to turn to a monotheistic religion for that. It’s utter bullshit and frankly bad scholarship along with being subtle pro- Muslim propaganda. It goes without saying a certain portion of our communities are celebrating this.

Yes, religions communicated. We know this. No religion evolved in a vacuum and there were borrowings across history. This is a normal part of the conversations that happen culturally between different groups, including religious groups. That, however, is not what the article is saying. It’s flat out giving Islam credit for Viking burial practices and doing so with zero evidence.

Why were there Islamic textiles in the Northlands? Most likely trade. And frankly, given that silk is a luxury item, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it’s found in burials. Why wouldn’t you want to bring back and give pretty, rich things to the dead that you love before sending them off? (I’ve seen this before though in academia. Secularism and/or atheism holds such sway in certain fields, along with the blanket assumption that if you’re educated you will not be religious,  that I’ve actually attended lectures on religious topics like pilgrimage wherein the speaker put forth every possible explanation for why someone would undertake this difficult and expensive process…except devotion and piety. There is a swath of academics who simply cannot conceptualize devotion. It’s quite sad and leads to some seriously shady scholarship or at the very least, scholarship that misses its mark significantly).

Why is that surprising? This is right up there with archeologists finding multiple burials of women having died of war wounds, having been buried with weapons – repeatedly—and acting confused, claiming that perhaps the burials were contaminated because women can’t have been warriors to the degree they’re finding. There is a level of obtuseness and flat out stupidity in this that I find mind-blowing. The standard attitude of academia toward polytheism in the ancient world (they hardly ever acknowledge it in the modern) is to insist it didn’t exist, to insist it was solely a matter of praxis, that there was no meat or belief or devotion or passion there…despite quite a lot of evidence (linguistic, literary, archeological, etc.) to the contrary. The contemporary academic response to polytheism is, essentially, erasure.

Bringing this full circle, it’s bad enough when academics try to erase our devotional worlds. It’s bad enough when they damn our ancestors and their traditions like this. You know what’s worse? When we do it ourselves by simply not giving a damn.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on October 11, 2017, in Heathenry, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Academic Dimwits. They are just so, so…… We need to create the special certificate of Excellence in Dimness of Wit to be awarded when needed to these so-called scholars. I volunteer to be on your Board ;-).

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  2. This will need to be sent to the departmental chair with the reasoning. hee hee Even the main Europeanist in my former History department at Muhlenberg knows about polytheism as real religion.

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  3. “So I read this and think: we can’t even get people willing to offer water without them whining about how put upon they are,” The same complaint I hear from so many friends in in ATR’s. They want miracles, not working for them.

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  4. This is why I didn’t end up in academia… I had professors I couldn’t tell a fact to without them arrogantly telling me to shut up in class for calling them out on something. Piety and devotion… without these, what kind of a relationship would we have with our Gods? I love the practice, the flow of communication, the ecstasy…

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  5. Great post. I have always been impressed with Russian Orthodoxy. I am Heathen, but if I had to choose an Abrahamic faith, it would probably be the Russian Orthodox Church. I am glad to see the Russian people returning to their spiritual roots after the fall of Communism. As an aside, I am one of those “pro-Russian conservatives” John Michael Greer used to reference on his old blog The Archdruid Report.

    As for the thinly disguised pro-Muslim propaganda piece masquerading as academic research from the University of Uppsala, I am appalled but not surprised. The Swedish establishment has adopted a policy of appeasement towards the ongoing Islamic invasion, to the point of making mention of gang rapes and other atrocities being committed against Swedes in their own country a “hate crime”.

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  6. I know that I am late to the party… One thing about Tmblr where all this activity of Dr. Who, etc promotes instant experts. Various “Pagan” Tmblr have answer and question sections, which encourages uninformed people to ask questions which these “Tmblr Pagan experts” use to promote their imperfect understanding of Polytheism. It is a circle that each of the “experts” quote and cite each other to shore up a dogma that is all their own, without any input from actual Polytheistic texts.

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