Apostasy – We are our Deeds

So I woke today to news that a prominent leader in Anglo-Saxon Heathenry and Theodism had converted back to Christianity.(1) Knowing what a completely vile and unethical human being this particular person is, part of me was relieved (good riddance to rubbish) and part of me disgusted. It’s not enough that a generation of our ancestors committed apostasy and spat upon our Gods, this asshole has to do it too? Why? Not getting enough pats on the head recently from the community? I think something like this just shows that one was involved in Heathenry not for the Gods but for the indulgence of one’s own ego – nice to be a big fish in a small pond, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing, if one loves the Gods and has a devotional commitment to Them, if one is committed to restoring our traditions, if one is in alignment with one’s ancestors, then abandoning them for the faith of those that conquered our ancestors and crushed our traditions is unthinkable. (2) Devotional work, faith, even praxis can be really difficult, particularly when our communities are spread out across the country, contentious, and often problematic. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to prioritize the Gods and ancestors first and foremost over any reified, fetishized idea of ‘community.’ If one’s faith is based on human concerns then it will crumble eventually, as soon as one isn’t getting one’s ego stroked, or as soon as one encounters the problems that every human group (probably from time immemorial) has had to face. Yes, it’s necessary to build community, but not at the expense of devotional integrity. (And don’t tell me this has anything to do with theology, because there is nothing inherent in Heathenry or any polytheism that says one can’t also venerate Jesus, Mary, etc. while keeping true to our Gods. This is someone who found it too tough and like a coward ran).

Granted, our communities as they are really need to do better. I’ve run across several people who nominally converted (though not in the depth of their hearts) to Christianity so they could have support as they aged. Think about that. This says that our communities aren’t doing anything to help their people, support their people, tend their aging and that is a violation of every ethical standard our ancestors held.

Any Heathenry that isn’t founded on reverence for the Gods, honoring the dead, and respect for our elders is utter shit and isn’t something that will or even should survive. I hope many more in the community follow this guy’s example because if you’re not willing to help, get the fuck out of the way while the rest of us work to restore and perpetuate these traditions. It’s time to choose sides and I know where I stand.

 

Notes:

 

  1. No, I won’t say whom as I don’t know if this person has gone public yet to the community.
  2. I read today’s wild hunt article with some concern. Apparently honoring the ancestors is viewed by some Heathens (particularly in the Troth) as a stepping off point for racism. One of the comments mentioned that it was even banned in Heathen groups in Austria. What the fuck is wrong with you people? Ancestor veneration is a core component of every polytheism I can name and if you allow contemporary politics to strip that from your devotional world than you’re a fool and Heathenry is better off without you. If you take it into a racist place, then you’re also a fool. Why is it so difficult for people to get basic concepts through their heads, like you know, maybe honoring (as one commenter also said) those without whom one would not actually BE? I’d like to say this is just more of the Troth making an issue where there isn’t one, but apparently, this is a thing in various groups. Gegen Dummheit kämpfen die Götter selbst vergebens.

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 November 23, 2017, in Heathenry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. The barrier to forming a real community in any pagan or polytheist group these days has absolutely everything to do with the fact that many of the things which pagans and polytheists have rejected in becoming pagans or polytheists–e.g. definite and agreed-upon standards of behavior, theological viewpoints, and shared traditions–which are what create strong communities within other religious groups, have not been prioritized in our traditions. Then people wonder why community centers, groups, programs of various sorts to benefit youth or the aged or for health assistance and so forth can’t seem to launch, last, or be successful, and it’s because there is no shared structure and orienting principles (or, if you like, beliefs!) that people prioritize and find intrinsic meaning within which then motivates their actions, how they spend their money and time, etc. However we might deride some of the beliefs and ideas and potentially negative social outcomes of some Christian viewpoints, the fact of the matter is many of their communities have programs to feed and house the homeless and unemployed, give them health care, and so forth which are staffed and funded by donations of time and money from their parishioners. Not everyone in those churches grew up in them and have lived in those places for their entire lives, or for generations of their families; people move and relocate all the time, but when they arrive in a new community, they don’t go “Well, this church is closest to my house so I’ll go there,” they look at the phone book or they get info off the internet and find out where the Catholic/Dutch Reformed/First Baptist/Southern Baptist/Presbyterian/Methodist/etc. church is in their new town and start going there, and immediately have a social (and more importantly, support!) network because of it. But how often do we hear “Well, I used to be a Gardnerian, but because I moved to Albuquerque and I didn’t like the Gards I found there, I stopped being pagan entirely”?

    If it is about the Deities, that is one thing, and that’s superlatively important; but what often makes it more persistent and effective is if it is about the ideas and beliefs related to such things rather than the people or the specifics of the communities involved. (I’d argue that those ideas and beliefs arise from the personhood–I know you don’t like that term, but it works fairly effectively here–of the Deities and the relationships people form with Them, which are then compelling in ways that the human personhood of people we meet regularly isn’t, but that’s a whole discussion in itself!) Instead, what seems to be the motivating factor so often is that human concerns of all kinds, including concerns over personalities (which, while they can be a factor, don’t need to be unless the people involved are abusive, committing illegal acts, or are in other ways harmful to those around them), determine what occurs, while even discussing seriously issues of ideas and theologies and belief are sidelined entirely, so that even though people might have all sorts of training workshops on running non-profits or how to organize a community and so forth, none of it ends up being effective because the bedrock that is necessary isn’t there.

    As I’ve mentioned before, Stephan Schwartz talks about how religious groups are knit together often not so much by shared thoughts, but by the shared experiences that come from dancing and singing and celebrating together (which then can lead to connections in thoughts about such, but they don’t need to!), and with those shared experiences of heightened consciousness, ultimate meaning and motivation can be derived. If we go about speaking of what we’re doing as “religion” and yet entirely lack those necessities as our foundations, we can call it a social movement or a political activity or even a hobby, but not a religion because it will not have the basic requirements of a religion and the benefits which arise from it.

    While we can certainly change some of the specifics of how religion is done and the content of the experiences and the theologies toward better social outcomes (and, in fact, I think we should, and many of our Deities seem to agree!), if we are not talking about the prioritization of experiencing ultimate realities which then motivate all of the rest of one’s thoughts and actions, we’re not doing religion, we’re playing in a half-filled bathroom sink while there’s an ocean to be sailed.

    You know this, of course, but anyway…it’s something that too many in both paganism and polytheism are entirely afraid of and/or are unwilling to confront.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Well said. Thanks for the reference to Stephen A. Schwartz. This is why (as a traditionalist) I am not at all ashamed to take the Amish and particularly Hasidic communities as models in several respects. There is no such as individualism in religion or daily life among them; they avoid all the diseases of modernism by taking a distance from mainstream society. The Jews have done it successfully for centuries in all parts of the world. If only polytheists could one day achieve the same in order to maintain and distinguish themselves as a minority! I’ll be sure to write a future post on this topic.

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  2. I may not know that person, but I do know that several well-known people have left the religion entirely. It is reported that they are relieved that they don’t have participate in the drama and the community. I have known a few Heathen Kindreds who are more about their small group than about their religion. They seem to have the Gods as a backdrop to their “family” group.

    One of the Atheists, whom we don’t discuss, did write a piece about Paganism needed to grow up. One point he did make was the sense of entitlement of being unorganized as part of being a Pagan. In other words, no structure is wanted, and is often rejected. From what I gleamed (so others don’t have to read it), Pagans are actually refugees from the dominant culture and dominant religion. Since they reject that, they don’t want anything to remind them of it.

    In my investigation of devotional calendars, I collected a group of datebooks put out by Goddess folks. They are beautifully done. However, there is a theology of the rejection of the patriarchy and the embracing of womenhood. Instead of being a devotional calendar, it becomes one of we must resist the patriarchy by worshipping the Goddess. Not that the Goddess requires us to be devoted to Her. It is human centric or community centric.

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  3. It isn’t just the Troth (although their general disrespect of the gods is why I am no longer a member). Most “heathen” orgs in the US are far more concerned with not being “racist” than doing one single thing that is in line with the old ways. It’s bumper sticker theology and t-shirt religion, and they can all go to Hel.

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    • i agree with you completely Saxon. It’s why I refuse these days to belong to any of them (and they probably wouldn’t want me anyway because i’m not going to shut my mouth about their foolishness and lack of devotional sense). They’re polluted spaces. our Gods deserve better and frankly, so does any devout Heathen.

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  4. Neptunesdolphin…that is an absolutely spot on and brilliant commentary.

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  5. You missed the discussion on the Troth’s ban on hailing Loki. I believe that one of the commentators likened it to Christianity and its ban on all things Satan. In other words, the Troth is devolving or evolving into an organization whose Deities are “Nice Guys” or my favorite – Morally Therapeutic Deities (Moralistic – God wants people to behave.
    Therapeutic – God wants people to be happy and well-adjusted.
    Deism – There is a God, but He made the world and then left it alone. God isn’t personally involved in the everyday lives of people. From Lifeways Ministries). Gods who are not a part of anyone’s lives or religion.

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    • well, the Troth is never where I”d look for actual devotion to the Gods. Like way too many Heathens and heathens groups they prioritize people and their bullshit, keeping the Gods as ideas, or as far away as possible, foisting our own morality and comfort off on Them, etc. The way they handled their ban on hailing Loki is typical of their lack of integrity.

      the moment an organization starts determining which of our Gods one can honor and which one cannot, it’s time to leave.

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  6. ” there is nothing inherent in Heathenry or any polytheism that says one can’t also venerate Jesus, Mary, etc..” My thoughts exactly! This is someone who couldn’t break their mind away from Monotheism, they had to “choose”. Some of the beauty of Polytheism is we dont have to run about fretting & flailing, basing our entire lives & identity on an insane quest to make everyone exactly as we are. We are free for the most part to venerate whatever Gods we are drawn towards. As far as the Troth & their astonishingly belligerent hubris, i wonder if they know how Christian they are with their “ban” on hailing of any God? Do they realize how many Lokis people are out here? The human part of me wants to erupt in anger, how dare they disrespect my Lord, how idiotic of them to follow a Christian monks writings as if its some divine declaration & couldn’t possibly be full of Christian influence…. really??? Its mind boggling frankly. I dont take my spiritual inspirations at face value from a Christian & nor do i allow Hitler & their supremacist bs to dictate who can be included in my worship of these amazing Gods. Do they know that Lokis people will never in a million years give 1 red cent or spend 1 second of precious time around fake Heathens who are really Christians in disguise (including their bullshit websites) etc..?. A part of me wants to rant & call them on their bs, but they are not worth the energy wasted & the reality is i just mostly find them laughable. Pathetic wet blankets & its their loss. Once you spend any time whatsoever with Loki, its amazing how fast the poor faux Heathens & their “debil” make you laugh. Makes me want to tell them that the local Baptist church will allow them to trade in their faux Heathen hat for a shiny ticket to ride the Devils Express with them, have fun fellas!! Loki truly is the God of laughter, i just cant stop laughing at these Christian SCA role playing wannabe Heathens. I had a good belly laugh for several days watching Raven Kaldera fund raise $ for a much needed expense in only a few days while the Troth & AFA remain flat broke. Hail Loki! Hail The Gods!

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  7. I’ve known some polytheists who converted back to christianity when the going got tough, so to speak. I noticed that the pattern with those people was liking the available community that the monotheists have, as well as they like a religion where they’re told what to do, what to say, how to act.

    Our gods encourage people to think and decide and learn for themselves – some people just don’t like that, and they like the easy way out that is offered to them by the monotheists.

    I admit, like you, to seeing degrees of schadenfruede when shitty people leave, but the gods deserve more. I’m a solitary and have been all my life and one reason is that I’ve found the communities to be full of endless drama, bickering, infighting, pissing contests, and a lot more focus on social political agenda in some cases than on the gods. I wish our communities had more unity and more focus on the gods than they do. 😦

    As always, another insightful article. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sometimes it’s as simple as not wanting to be around people who use magick coco dust to communicate with the divine. I know that’s what drove me away years ago. It’s only recently that I returned. I’m more of a pantheist, so I try to stay away from the “my deity is bigger than your deity” arguments.
    Seriously, after all these years, you might expect the various paths to found their own worship centers. I don’t see a lot of those. Most of the Wiccans I know, for instance, continue to meet in public parks.

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