On Family

In a recent discussion on a previous post of mine here, the subject of “family” came up. I don’t often talk about family, but this is a blog in part about things relevant to contemporary polytheisms, to their restoration, and their longevity, and to the nurturing of devotion. As such, “family” is an important topic, one which, in my ham-fisted way, I’m going to touch on it here just a little. I spent most of my twenties hostile to the whole idea of “family.” My own experience with my birth family had been less than pleasant (1). It took having a deeply devout adopted mom to help me sort all of that out and learn to cherish this idea of “family” as something good and necessary to healthy communities. 

When I say family, I do not necessarily restrict that to father-mother-children. In fact, while I believe there should be male and female role models in the family to help guide and nourish the children, I think restricting that to just the parents is deeply divisive, stressful, and destructive. It puts a tremendous pressure on the parents while providing little to no resources or accountability. We need our extended family, our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and more; and on top of that, we need to situate all of this in an awareness of our ancestors – that there is that family going back as far as we could ever imagine, of which we too will be a part one day. The nuclear family is an aberration. If you look just throughout the world today, and most certainly throughout history, it was and is more common to have extended family living together and helping each other out, instilling intergenerational virtues and building up functional, healthy, pious adults (2). 

It’s become the vogue today, especially amongst those who consider themselves “woke,” who draw a good deal of their rhetoric and raison d’etre from Marxism, to dismiss the family as a wicked and patriarchal institution that serves no purpose but the abuse of those within its confines. What nonsense. Yet, this nonsense is gaining traction in our communities. Mind you, I’ve yet to see a workable alternative presented, because there isn’t one. Family is fundamental (especially when you expand the definition of family beyond the nuclear. (3)). Of course, “family” doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists within a culture, a society, a community that may or may not reinforce the values of one’s kin. In our modern world, family can be a fortress in which piety may be nourished and allowed to grow, a curative and medicine for the spiritual pollution infecting our world (4).

Personally, I’ve come to believe that family is an absolute essential building block of any sustainable tradition. It is the way that a proper …I’ll use a Roman term and if that hurts your brain, too bad …pax deorum begins: first in the individual, then the family, then the community, then the city and outward in ever larger circles. It is a sacred thing, something to be cherished and nurtured. “Mother” and “Father” are sacred titles and should carry with them an awareness of the power and responsibility of those roles. What is it that Swinburne wrote? “Mother is the name of God on every child’s tongue…” (5). Family is the best means of passing a religious tradition on to the next generation, and the best way of rooting it as a long-term societal presence. A healthy family is also the best way of correcting societal ills; it starts at home. 

I recommend the Tove’s article as well, as part of this discussion. Also, thank you, Guasón, for inspiring this piece. You are awesome. 

Notes:

  1. For a number of reasons, mostly having to do with intergenerational trauma; happily though, in my thirties I was able to heal some of those rifts and make peace with my biological family. 
  2. If you’re not pious I don’t think you’re actually healthy. That piety may look different in each person depending on tradition/gods/etc. but part of raising a healthy child is exercising their spiritual muscles and teaching them what it means to be in right relationship with the Gods, i.e. passing on your tradition.
  3. Sometimes we make our families. Envision it how you want and create it but understand it’s an essential building block for sustainable polytheistic communities or indeed any community. 
  4. No, I don’t think that we should keep children confined and away from any interaction with the world at large. What I think is that we should be providing them with protection – emotionally and spiritually- from the forces of uncreation. We should be nurturing them in ways that allow them to develop strength and courage, devotion, and goodness. We should be making space for them to bring their questions and to share what they are receiving from the world at large and how and why that may or may not accord with our values. 
  5. Which is why child abuse of any sort is absolutely anathema. Healthy communities, religious or otherwise, root that shit out assiduously. There is no room now or ever in our communities for someone who would sexually or physically assault a child or a spouse.  
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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 February 6, 2022, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Both my parents are only children. So any “Aunts” and “Uncles” I had growing up were my parents Best Friends. One of my Mother’s Friends was a Friend of her Mother. Jean Brewington. This woman greatly influenced my Mom as well as my young self. She was diagnosed with Lymphoma before Covid hit, so I do not know if she is still alive or not. But Aunt Jean was always Family.

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  2. Something I find very telling about the conversation earlier is the fact that when our interlocutor and I were talking about visions for Paganism’s future, there was a very clear difference: I actually had described an actual plan and all he said amounted was “a society with numerous different things and no racism”. I’m sorry but that’s not a plan. That’s a nothingburger of an answer if I ever saw one. You are so right in saying they don’t have an actual alternative because there is no alternative. They don’t have a plan. They literally only know destruction. It is Solve without Coagula.

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  3. Your comment on the extended family group was evocative to me, as I’ve been recently on a kick researching traditional indigenous American ritual practices surrounding entheogens. In a traditional context, entheogens are very frequently ritually engaged with in a gathering of the extended family / kinship group*. In the Native American Church (which venerates Peyote), the gathering of the extended family is standard practice for ceremony.

    It makes so much sense to me, and suggests to me the deeper cosmological significance of family and kinship–such as the familial terms of reverence and affection applied to entheogenic spirits by indigenous peoples (“the little children” for psilocybe mushrooms among Mazatecs in Oaxaca, “Grandfather” for San Pedro cactus, “Madre Ayahuasca” in South America, etc.). Those terms reflect, and reinforce, the family ties maintained among human beings; and the kinship ties of human beings are, in turn, fundamental to sustaining a healthy relationship with the entheogens.

    This has been something coming up for me in my own voyages with the Psilocybe Spirits, so it felt like a bit of a confirmation for me to see you mention it in your blog.

    * Such rituals have often become inter-tribal in more recent generations due largely to the exigencies of colonization

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