Too Early for this Crap

I’ve noticed a theme on tumblr, twitter, and elsewhere today: when some of us refuse to turn our religious practices and our traditions into a morass of social justice insanity suddenly we are faced with accusations that our entire religion is appropriative.  Think about that: there are those who claim to be Pagan who are purposely trying to discredit entire religions because those religions honor the Gods. Think about that long and hard.  

Here’s some of the unmitigated bullshit I’m seeing:

*Asatru is appropriating Icelandic culture (with at least one person asserting that Asatru was started in mid 20thC. in Iceland solely for Icelanders. Um, no. Do some research please. The term was first coined for contemporary practitioners in, I believe, Denmark, in the mid nineteenth-century and the revival of the religion began in the nineteenth century as well. I talk about this in my book “Trangressing Faith”).

*You cannot practice an ATR if you weren’t either raised in it or are a person of color. That’s not true at all as any santero or santera will tell you. There are numerous practitioners carrying licit initiations who are not people of color. They may have a steeper learning curve but they are welcomed by many Houses to the worship of the Orisha.  It is not for any outsider to determine who may or may not seek them out.

*My favorite: if you say shamanism, you’re really referring to ‘animism.” Bitches, please, I know how to use language. If I were referring to animism, I’d say so. I do agree that Harner core “shamans” are garbage and this has certainly muddied the waters but anyone actually engaging in shamanism pays them as little mind as possible. We prefer competent people. Harner’s crew does appropriate and dangerously so.

*Then, finally, there’s this gem: you only use Polytheist, or Pagan because you want legitimacy Neo-Pagan doesn’t give you. Um, we use Polytheist because Neo-Pagan is a nebulous term full of half witted people who honor neither gods nor ancestors and who want everything watered down into meaninglessness. We, on the other hand, have traditions, traditiosn with roots going back into the ancient world, we give a shit about them, and prioritize the Gods over your human garbage.

So, maybe stop mentioning traditions and practices and religions that you A) clearly know nothing about, B) don’t comprehend, and C) and are using only to virtue signal for others.  I find it quite telling, that the people engaging in this rhetoric are always, ALWAYS either non-theists, or those who think activism equals religious truth and tradition (but whose activism is also always a matter of slandering people with outright lies, posting online, and never actually getting out there and making a difference in the world), or they are solely animists who despise the concept of tradition and especially of initiatory traditions. Well, too bad, sister. Those things exist and they are good and holy.

What is actually going on here is those outside our traditions are spewing this nonsense in exactly the same way they call anyone who disagrees with them ‘nazi’ or ‘racist’ regardless of what political beliefs that person might actually hold. It’s an attempt to destroy our religious traditions because we won’t do it ourselves. It’s an attempt to undermine the people actually practicing, defending, and furthering those traditions. It’s an attempt to again ideologically speaking, smash our shrines, destroy our icons and statues, and condemn the Gods to the pages of history. Resist.  

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 December 12, 2019, in Heathenry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Edward P. Butler

    You forgot to mention the “Hellenic Gods are only for Greeks” crowd.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. With some of the things you have called out, it’s important to note that there was some pushback from other people who care about social justice. I don’t think that the majority of people doing things that result in large negative impacts have set out with a goal of impiety or destruction of the Gods’ images/worship in mind. That said, end results do matter, and everyone needs to think about mitigating unintended consequences.

    “If you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail,” is the cognitive bias at play here (Maslow’s hammer). People who start from a well-intentioned desire to help others can get caught up in echo chambers that distort their thinking without them even realizing it, which is why it is so important to get offline and do self-reflection and research in the absence of all of the shouting — a frog that begins in a cold pot will not notice the coming boiling, as it were. It’s like the Marina Diamandis song “True” — “People like to tell you what to think, think, think / Sometimes it feels right to do the wrong, wrong thing / Let it go and listen to your own instincts.” I listen to that song whenever I feel like my mind needs clarity.

    The word “shaman[ism]” is difficult. As you mentioned, the most common social justice position is that the technical term used for the practice was originally appropriated from a specific culture, and the ones who started using it to describe everything shamanism-like should not have broadened the term out. The OED etymology, “shaman < German schamane, Russian šaman, < Tungusian samân (Castren Tung. Sprachl.). Compare French chaman," captures this, along with the first usage in 1698 by what looks like a journal from someone at a Moscow Embassy. I do think that the term is a problem. It definitely isn't the same as animism, and despite the appropriation issues involved, a casual look through the OED thesaurus does not offer an alternative term. However, any new term would have to grow out of the community itself because the community would have the insider expertise to know what is appropriate, and that's one of several places where I deviate from most other progressives.

    TBH Neopagan is less fraught than "pagan" because the word on its own is still used as a pejorative when it's not serving as the inspiration for meanderings about post-Christianity. I have almost never encountered Neopagan atheists except by hearsay. Like, I know they have a web site.

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  3. A person literally can’t appropriate a culture they are a member of, and that is exactly what our communities are in the process of building; cultures founded on and steeped in reverence for the Gods, ancestors, and land. That’s why the non-theistic and atheist Neo-pagans hate us so much. We are building cultures with values, goals, and norms in opposition to theirs.

    Liked by 6 people

    • THIS. THIS right here. You nailed it, Ryan. This is precisely what is happening on either end. Beautifully stated. Bravo.

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    • Edward P. Butler

      Indeed, and the proper response to ethnonationalists seeking to define these communities according to blood and soil is that the only true sense of, e.g., a “Hellenic community” is a community centered upon the Hellenic Gods, and that any historical community only merits this name to the degree to which it so constitutes itself.

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  4. With the concept of tru already mentioned in the Eddas, its patentet ridiculous to see the outright lie that the term was coined in the 19th Century.. and what was that about writing about a culture that never was your own… but, i’m not surprised… Americans…

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    • actually my source for that tidbit was Danish. When I get home tonight, I’ll hunt it up. Either way, it was NOT coined in the mid 20th century as a name for a religion.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “The word itself comes from two Old Norse words: Asa (Gods, possessive case) and tru (faith); thereby “faith in the Gods.” The modern word is an Icelandic translation of the Danish word Asetro which was first seen referenced in an article on Iceland in 1885.” (p. 3 Transgressing faith, and apparently my original footnote comes from B.A. Robinson, “Religious Tolerance World Religions: Asatru” http://www.religioustolerance.org/asatru/.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. And so, it has always existens…

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    • There is a significant constitutive difference between a word or words existing and a group of extant words suddenly being coined into a precise term for a specific thing. the term “Asatru” has not always existed in this latter capacity. The constituent words themselves have. I didn’t think this was something I had to explain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If so, what does the very concept of ”trua” or tru signify? And if these two Words always have existed, how can you prove that they never were a whole untill the 1880s ? If one at all Ever had trua or Faith, one must know what it means. A faith is a faith, never ever just a custom….

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  6. those previous to christian incursion most likely didn’t NEED a name for what they did, a signifier to separate their ways from the ways of the Christians. there would have been no need for a term qua term to exist. After Christianity there would have been little desire to record one if it were being used (other than paganus, a, um or Haethni). To give a religion a name gives it legtimacy in a sense, esp. in the eyes of a religious culture obsessed with texts (christianity). The only specifically textual evidence, or rather the earliest textual evidence we have is that 19th c. article. Does that mean the term wasn’t being used quietly, orally before that, no. It means we have no evidence for its coinage prior to that point. this is basic historical and philological analysis.

    personally, I suspect at least a generation’s usage before the term hit publication but i have no evidence for that.

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  7. If Norse culture was into anything, it was the naming of names, and the giving of names, even during its textless stage, i e before the year zero AD, as the runes are really that old. Thimk of names like Vidofnir, Gullinbursti, Ratatosk, Nidhögg, Hvergelmer – the enite Asatru cosmos overbrims with names, names and names, and rightly so. It is what our oral tradition was based on, for sheer memnoics sake. Already around 500 AD, and certainly by the time of Charlemagne, we were aware of what the Xistians did – to the Saxons and many others. And trua, treue, truth, tro, troa is a central cultural concept. It always was, always will be. For those that patently disregard our entire spiritual heritage, the meaning of troth as opposed to sed or blind repetition, there is written evidence in Swedish from 1820 at least, spelled Åsatru, and referring to far older Norwegian sources. http://www.saob.se/artikel/?seek=asatro&pz=1#U_A2365_84004

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    • oooh that is awesome and I will look into that source. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • no reason – I fear that I become a little too polemic sometimes, but it’s all natural, when it comes to a subject I feel very passionately about – almost as passionately as I abhorr the Xistian term “forn sed” which never was used in heathen times, and is at least 230 years older than the official abolition of Asatru in Iceland… besides, there are only 4 or 5 saga sources that mentions “forn” = obsolete, ancient, archaic but no longer valid plus sed = custom, as diametriacally opposed to a faith, or trua, which is a certainty..

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  8. When I starting on the path of honoring one particular Deity, several Deities presented themselves to me. More followed. I am a polytheist. The Gods/Goddesses called to them who they will. Or we feel such an attraction to them, it is foolish to resist No one can say you can’t worship Deities that doesn’t fit your background. Do they know the mind or will of the Deities?
    Follow your own path.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I traced down “Bane Folk” who issued those tweets about what a “good Pagan” should do. It is Sarah Anne Lawless, who wrote about abuses in Paganism and the like. She has a website called Bane Folk. She has been doing it for about three years now. All her writings are based on her experiences. She is an herbalist who works with bane plants.

    My person view of her writings has been that she has for some reason decided to be someone who calls out Pagans on their bad behavior as she sees it. I believe it could be her way of being important in the ecosystem of Paganville.

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    • My understanding is that she is not a polytheist (I may be wrong but I seem to recall something about that several years ago). Do we really need an outsider “correcting” us? That is best done by those who are steeped in the cosmological concerns and piety of our traditions. Furthermore, I may agree with her assessment of Harner shamans but beyond that, let her stick to her own. Polytheists do not need this from outsiders. We’ve enough bullshit from our own. If she were bringing forward legitimate and factually correct things maybe, but as noted above, so much of it is inaccurate, incorrect bullshit.

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