As many of you know, I get called a nazi pretty regularly. I’m not; in fact, I find Nazism and white supremacy vile (as I’ve articulated numerous times in my work for years), but that doesn’t matter. I even come from a military family with close relatives who fought actual Nazis in WWII and that doesn’t matter either. The only thing that matters is that I won’t be swayed from whatever theological position vis-à-vis our traditions that I’m holding by emotional blackmail and clumsy sophistry, positions that have nothing at all to do with politics.
Because it probably needs to be restated yet again, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia are gross, ugly, and have no place in our traditions. Our Gods are there for those who love and venerate Them. Our traditions are there for those willing to take up the privilege of learning these sacred protocols. But I digress…
This all got me thinking tonight about how many people in Heathenry and in other polytheistic traditions stay quiet on religious matters about which they care deeply because they are afraid of being termed a ‘Nazi.’ Mind you, there are places in the world where people are dying for their Gods and their ancestral ways, places like Brazil for instance where Pentecostal terrorists are murdering Candomble practitioners who refuse conversion and who refuse to desecrate their shrines. Even here in America people can lose their jobs, or custody of their kids for being outed as Polytheists or Pagans. Yet, while devout, committed people fight for their religious freedoms we have anti-theistic Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, and assorted eclectic playgans for whom it’s all make believe (of course, this is not all Wiccans, or all Neo-Pagans but I think you know who you are). We are literally not speaking the same language, practicing anything approximating similar traditions, or even moving in the same intellectual worlds.
So, I wonder how many people are afraid to practice Heathenry or to speak out when these outsiders come into our traditions trying to erase not just basic piety but the polytheism itself at our traditions’ core. Because when those same people cannot “win” a debate by means of fact, and when their emotional blackmail doesn’t work, inevitably cries of “Nazi,” “Racist,” “Patriarchy,” etc. will come next, along with other assorted ad hominems.
Let those things come. At this point, those terms are pretty much meaningless. Such hysterical people have been debasing the intellectual currency of those words and giving openings for actual evil people to prosper. When people who have worked their entire public careers fighting this stuff get labeled “Nazi,” well, when an actual neo-Nazi does, they can just shrug it off. How will interlocutors tell the difference? Every time you call someone a Nazi undeservedly, you’re actually helping the white supremacist movement erode and infiltrate our community. Good job, assholes.
As to my readers, you know what you believe. Any decent person that knows you, knows what you believe and will stand by you knowing such slander to be false. Those that don’t are cowardly parasites and you don’t need them in your life. If people insist on attempting to demean you by such insults, that speaks to their character, not yours. Let them show who they truly are.
Our Gods, our ancestors, our traditions, our communities deserve better and we can be better, do better, and cultivate moral courage in the face of this utter nonsense, because that’s all it is: people with arid theologies, incapable of reasoned debate, oppressed by differing views, and upset that we hold our Gods and traditions more highly and more precious than their feelings. They’re like little yapping terriers that have never been house trained; and that’s about as much import as we should give them.
Don’t be afraid of the words people throw at you. Stand for what you believe in and never let your voice be silenced.
I’m having two simultaneous conversations on twitter right now.
In the first one I’m talking about how vile it is that neo-nazis have appropriated othala and how sickening it is and how we as Heathens have an obligation to speak out against this.
In the second, I’m being called a nazi apologist and people are using articles where I denounce loss of freedom to prove my nazihood.
…all because they’re butthurt that I won’t proselytize, I understand the difference between emotional blackmail, reasoned argument, and fact, and I don’t want to teach a religion I don’t practice! wooooooo
WTF is going on? It’s too early in 2020 for this level of clownery.
In our previous discussion, Neptunesdolphins hit the nail on the head perfectly, so perfectly, that I am pulling her comment out to highlight it here:
“Sigh, once more modernity and Monotheism strikes again. I know lots of Pentacostals and Catholics who take exception. How else are you slain in the Holy Spirit or see the Mother Mary, unless you engage with God?
Problem is that living in monotheistic culture is that all Gods are false except for the “One True God.” If the Gods and other Divines are treated as fiction, then engaging with fictional characters is considered mental illness. Unless it is pop culture Deities.
The other is that monotheistic thinking flattens the world into human, and only human. Since there is a singularity of life, people cannot imagine engaging with a plurality of Beings. It is beyond their imaginings.
The other thing about tumblr which highlights problems in Paganism – the Deities are smaller than people. People are the Deity. There is no Other, there is only them and themselves.
And of course, Progressivism as it is practiced is a religion. What is happening in Paganism is that everything is being homogenized by Progressivism. So we have the preoccupation with who is a Nazi and who should be thrown out for impolitic thoughts. Monotheism in action – thought crimes and the flattening of thought.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I would also emphasize that the attitude expressed on the tumblr page I was discussing yesterday is not limited to Polytheisms. I know plenty of devout Catholics, Orthodox, etc. who have run up against it too. Thing is, their traditions’ structures are able to support and deflect this nonsense far better than ours. We have people taking it in wholesale and building a hollow practice around it and wondering why they’re getting nowhere.
I’m afraid I’m going to be very blunt here, because in thirty years of teaching and serving as clergy, I have never seen such utter garbage spreading like wildfire throughout our respective communities as I do now, not even when I first became Heathen (and believe me, the level of bullshit in the Heathen community at that time was a thousand times worse than it is now – and that’s saying something). Part of the problem is the pseudo-progressive contingent on tumblr, and part of it just the sad lack of adequate education in North America today. It’s sometimes hard to see where one begins and one ends.(1)
When someone tells you that actual engagement with the Gods is wrong, that being able to sense or hear Them is mental illness—even one single moment of theophany, that one cannot be claimed by a Deity, called as a priest, function as an oracle, that being a godspouse is mental illness, not only are they completely willfully, and egregiously ignorant of the history of their religion, but they are speaking impiety and attempting to do violence to the pious. They are butchering the religion to fit their own misguided ignorance and attempting to damage those actually building up their traditions. The best advice I can give when encountering such filth online is this: Avoid the impious. Ignore them. Also, consider their motives (2).
Inevitably these people will say “we’re all of equal importance”. Well, no, actually we’re not. Equality is a myth they tell themselves to excuse their own mediocrity before the Gods. We are all unique in our devotional relationships. If, by equality, one means that we are all valued and loved by our Gods then yes that is true; but if by equality one means that we are all exactly the same and that no one has any deeper devotional relationship or more talent in a particular area of religious specialty, then that is nonsense and should be ignored (3). Moreover, it smacks of Protestantism, where demonstrated virtue is a sign of being “elect.” The corollary of course, is that if one doesn’t have a vocation or any of the signs of being “elect” then it means one is of less importance to their God. Well, we’re not Protestant and it’s time we stopped behaving like half-assed Calvinists. Our polytheistic ancestors honored and respected their specialists: those called by the Gods, mystics, clergy, shamans, diviners, oracles, spiritworkers – technicians of the sacred known by different names in different traditions. Why is basic piety so damned hard for us?
We need to strongly resist the push of people more concerned about virtue signaling and politics than venerating the Gods when they attempt to excise from our religions the natural life of devotion. Basically, if it’s on tumblr, it’s probably inaccurate, wrong, and possibly impious. Always, always consider the source. Consider what they contribute. Go to your Gods, go to prayer, and don’t be afraid to tell such people to take a running leap off the nearest cliff (4).
- Religion is not the place for politics. It is about honoring the Gods. Religion is a set of proper protocols for engaging appropriately with the Gods and ancestors. Be as political as you want, but don’t mistake your civic impulse for religious cultus. Social and political engagement is what we do as adult human beings. We shouldn’t need our Gods and religion to make such engagement licit.
- It’s not surprising that these things would be condemned, after all, if we’re actually engaging with Gods and ancestors, if we have the benefit of good priests, competent oracles, if we honor our mystics and godspouses then we’re less likely to listen to their political bullshit when they attempt to bring that garbage into our sacred spaces.
- There is a lovely anecdote in St Therese of Lisieux’s “Story of a Soul,” that was told to her by her sister Pauline. As a small child she asked her sister if God loved saints more than regular people. The sister took a thimble and a wine glass and filled them both to overflowing and asked the child, “Which is more full?” The answer: they were both full to utmost capacity and so it is with the love of one’s God as well.
- This does not, of course, absolve us from developing spiritual discernment, from questioning ourselves, from doing the work, including the work of therapy if need be. Piety, however, is not mental illness nor is being called (κλῆσις)to a vocation.
I just returned from a conference at Villanova this past weekend. The Patristics, Medieval, and Renaissance (PMR) conference is one of the leading theology conferences held every year just outside of Philadelphia. It’s really my favorite conference, the one I really, really try to do every year. It’s a lovely group of people and I always learn so much when I attend. This year the panels were so good (they pretty much always are) and I feel I have new things to gnaw upon, so much productive feedback to integrate into my work, and so many new books to track down and read. I can’t wait for next year (and for me to say that about any conference is miraculous. I might enjoy them but they generally wear me out. This one, well, I was sorry when it ended).
This year I chaired a panel and presented a paper. Usually I work in Patristics. My ongoing area of interest is developing a cultural poetics of the eunuch, looking at early Christian sources and the way ideas of the self and the holy were mediated through the figure of the eunuch. Because this conference covers more than just late antiquity, however, I was able to present a side project, one that is rapidly becoming a major secondary area of interest for me. I first gave an iteration of this paper, titled “Ravens in the Mead-hall: Rewriting Faith in the Wake of Charlemagne and the Saxon Wars” at last year’s Kalamazoo Medieval Conference and in between then and now, I’ve tweaked it considerably. This paper discusses Charlemagne’s war against the Saxons and their consequent forced conversion through the lens of post-colonial theory. It utilizes the Heliand, the 9thcentury Saxon translation of the Gospels as a lens through which to explore the re-positioning of the Saxons as a subaltern people, and the ways in which their indigenous religious traditions remained vividly relevant within the framework of Christianity. It gets a little darker than this implies, discussing things like forced child oblation, genocide, and the erasure of indigenous religious cultures too (and these darker threads are things I intend to continue exploring with this line of research). It was remarkably well received.
This is partly my way of holding space as a polytheist for our ancestors. Yes, it is useful to go to professional conferences. It’s a chance to explore these side topics, to get valuable feedback, in an atmosphere that – at least in this case – is fairly relaxed and congenial. Yes, I really want to look more closely at the ways post-colonial theory can be applied to Charlemagne’s atrocities. The more I learn about forced child oblation, forced exile, forced conversion and all the various ways the Franks impeded on and erased Saxon religious culture, the more I’m convinced that it’s here specifically that structures were first put in place that came to be used throughout the conquest of the New World, six hundred years later. Before all of that, however, I am holding space for the dead.
This is important. This is part of our history as contemporary polytheists. This is the story of our traditions, what happened to them, and why we are in the position we’re in today of having to reclaim, rebuild, and restore. If we do not understand what happened and where we came from, then we will never truly appreciate the importance of that restoration, of holding staunchly to our traditions, of cultivating piety and respect and reverence for our dead.
Why do I do this? Let me give one small example: during the Q&A, one of the attendees, a senior scholar who herself later presented a fascinating paper on a piece of Arthurian lit., said to me very earnestly, “I think it’s important to remember that the Franks had good intentions.” When I picked my jaw up off the floor I responded, “I’m sure that makes all the difference to the five thousand plus Saxons butchered at Verden.”
I’m sure that makes all the difference in the world to the men, women, and children who fought to maintain religious and cultural independence and instead ended up exiled, impoverished, with their children forcibly interred in monastic “schools” where they were Christianized and denied a Saxon identity religious or otherwise. Are you fucking kidding me? That is like saying Hitler had good intentions too. Who the fuck says that? Yet here we are in 2019 and I’ve an intelligent, educated scholar in all earnestness urging me to remember: the Christians had good intentions. That’s why I do this, because that attitude is everywhere in academia. It isn’t genocide if it occurred before the 19thcentury and was blessed by the cross.
Of course, not everyone thinks that way and most of the scholars that I work directly with would be equally appalled by such a thoughtless comment, a comment that erases the religious and cultural genocide of a people. Still, there are enough who do not question the narrative of the goodness of conversion, of Christian expansion, who do not realize that such expansion came with a heavy price, writ in blood, who do not realize it was forcibly done against the will of numerous peoples, or who do not care, that it is important to hold the line openly and at times vociferously. The evidence is there for those scholars who care to look. It is my obligation to do so. The intentions of those who destroyed our traditions really don’t matter. The results speak for themselves.
For those interested in reading my article in full, it will be coming out in the next issue of Walking the Worlds.
Ok, people. I think it’s time to lay something out for y’all.
I’ve spent close to thirty years dealing with Heathen bullshit: people with their panties in a twist because they can’t accept that the Gods actually can impact our lives, actually can claim people, that devotion is important, that piety is more than just being able to read the lore, etc. etc. I’ve had people send threats (usually misspelled and with terrible grammar), make up stories (really creative ones in some cases, in others just sad), and lately some tumblristas have been spreading outright lies. I’ve had people who can’t stand the fact that a woman has opinions and won’t be swayed from them. I’ve had people who can’t stand the fact of my devotion to Odin and people who simply don’t like that I know their background and the lies they tell about themselves publicly. Lately I’ve been doxed several times.
Now my husband and I are dealing with the same bullshit from the Hellenic community. Y’all are latecomers to the game.
Here’s the thing though and here’s what none of you seem to grasp: you are irrelevant to us. There is literally nothing that you can possibly do that will keep us from our work. You and your opinions do not matter to us. We are building a tradition and doing the work the Gods have set for us to do and THAT is the only thing that matters: serving our Gods well. How seriously are we to take someone or something who tries to interfere with that? Y’all are trifling.
And that, I think is the real reason that we get so much bullshit thrown our way: we will not be bullied or cowed into submission. We aren’t going to change our views or what we teach or how we venerate our Gods because any other living person has a problem with it. We aren’t going to pretend history didn’t happen. We aren’t going to elevate human opinions over right relationship with our Gods. EVER.
So you have two choices: you can ignore us and stop obsessing over our blogs or you can keep at your bullshit knowing it’s about as effective as pissing in the wind.
So some tumblr garbage is going after Sannion. “Sannion is a white supremacist.” Bitches, Sannion isn’t white.
Since he refuted their accusation he’s a neo-nazi, they’re now claiming he’s a white supremacist. if so, he’s the worst white supremacist ever. Maybe we’re in some Pagan version of black klansman. lol.
Seriously though, these are the same people that went after Edward for being anti-semitic because of a post where he was CONDEMNING anti-semiticism.
They’re also going after PSVL for having a PhD and being supposedly transphobic, also an astounding accomplishment considering pSVL is meta-gender. (For those who are struggling with the fact e has a PhD, and who criticize eir Academoi Antionou classes on Greco-Roman things, werewolf lore, and Celtic polythism…well if you don’t think those things go together, you don’t know the sources. Guess that PhD comes in handy after all).
This level of stupid has to be willful. No one is born like this. Alternately, this could be an amazing parody account, but somehow, i doubt it.
We’re academic. We’re not nice. We can, however, read.
(warning: I am writing this with a blistering, nauseating migraine. My ‘nice’ filter is officially off).
Someone on twitter just suggested that I ‘explore other gods’ after reading the piece I wrote recently about Sweden’s proposed ban on the runes. Um…I’m not even going to pretend to be polite here. What the fuck kind of suggestion is that? If that’s what you do when your traditions are attacked, then maybe you don’t deserve to have them.
There is no reason to ever abandon our Gods, and the bullshit put forward by other misguided human trash is surely the least reason ever for which to do so. These are commitments, relationships built up over the better part of decades, cultivated, nourished, celebrated. As the commitments to the Gods reflects our commitments to our traditions so the opposite is true as well. We don’t give that up because suddenly it’s inconvenient. Or if we do, that’s pretty much the working definition of a niðling.
Every day I deal with people who are afraid to be outed as polytheists. I deal with timid people, who wonder if this is ok or that is ok, or would it be ok to do this but oh, let’s not rock the boat. Wake up. Time to develop a bit of virtue and a bit of spine. Stand up for your Gods. Stand up, speak out. Wear Their symbols proudly. Stop hiding what is THE most important part of your personhood and identity: your connection with the sacred. Quit being such fucking cowards.
Every time we soften our language, saying “God” when really we mean “Gods” to make monotheists comfortable or to conceal what we are, we contribute further to the erasure of our traditions. Every time we purposely conceal our alliances, we are committing a dishonest act. Every time we excuse the forced attrition of our sacred symbols, our practices, our sacred sites – hell, any sacred site – we are contributing to the destruction of our traditions. Which side do you want to be on? The one that venerates and nourishes the Gods and those gifts They give us or the one that would shit on all of that in the name of modernity and convenience simply because some people are spreading lies and rumors about them.
Grow the fuck up and if you fall into that latter category kindly take yourself off and away from my online world.
This is the time to hold even more closely to our Gods and traditions, to become fierce devotees and protectors of that which is holy. It’s not the time to run like a pack of whipped dogs.
So…Sweden is considering a ban on the runes and other Heathen symbols. Wildhunt to date doesn’t seem to have covered this– no surprise there. What Heathen groups I have seen touching on it have been excusing it. I haven’t seen medievalists up in arms about it either. Are you people out of your fucking minds?
What is next? Banning Heathenry? That is the logical conclusion to a globalist program that considers any expression of indigenous religious culture a hate crime.
The reasons this is being considered are, of course, supposedly to prevent white supremacist groups from using these symbols. I don’t, however, see any proposed ban of the cross or the crescent. In the end, it doesn’t matter WHY this is being considered. If you give an inch to a tyrant, they will take a mile. We should be up in arms about this. In fact, every devout community, Pagan, Polytheist, Heathen, or otherwise should be up in arms over this religious discrimination. Where will it be focused next?
Let’s look at exactly what Sweden is proposing to ban. It’s quite interesting.
Tyr rune- warriorship, justice, truth, honor
Othala rune: ancestral consciousness, inheritance, protection, homeland, wealth
Valknot – a symbol of Odin/Woden.
Vegisvir: a rune sigil for safe travel, finding one’s way
And….the Thor’s hammer, a symbol of protection, sanctity, and Heathen identity.
Their choices do not seem accidental.
Following on the heels of his disgusting article equating Loki with Trump, would be Heathen “scholar” Karl Siegfried (PhD in double bass) has written this article for the wild hunt. A bigger load of horse shit I could not have imagined, even from them. According to Siegfried, we should abandon our traditions of ancestor veneration, beliefs about the afterlife, and our sacred symbols. We should gut our traditions because vile groups have begun to appropriate our symbols. We should do this, rather than standing up and fighting such disgusting appropriation. Way to go, Karl.
Well this is what happens when we bow our heads to popular culture. Instead of protesting the misuse of our Gods and Their symbols, and the erasure of our traditions early on, our communities bitch and whine and moan because they like their popular culture (probably more than their traditions) and can’t draw the line from point A to B to C when it comes to potential problems such things may cause. So here we are, where the Gods have largely been stripped away from Their symbols in mainstream consciousness rendering those symbols easy pickings for white supremacists. Shame on them, but shame on us too. We should have been up in arms well before this.
Karl goes on about positive deeds that our communities desperately need in the wake of the Christchurch attack. The only positive deeds that our traditions need is for people to defend them, in their full integrity, for people to refuse to water them down, refuse to tear out their heart, and most of all refuse to sacrifice them on the dubious altar of political correctness.
We do not, as Siegfried suggests, need to bow down to the SPLC, which demonizes Heathenry folkish and otherwise across the board and is far from objective. Even liberals have serious problems with how they report on these issues (and Folkish Heathenry, Karl, really does not equal racist Heathenry automatically. You should educate yourself). They’re hardly a respectable source for unbiased information.
Most of all, we certainly shouldn’t abandon ancestor practices. This is, perhaps the most disgusting suggestion Karl has made, one that I’ve also seen Troth groups flirt with. Honoring the dead is essential to any viable polytheism. It may include those not related to us by blood, but it absolutely does include blood ancestors. We are each honoring our own relations, and as a community we come together in our rituals to honor our community’s ancestors. Yes, Karl, that means recognizing borders and nationalities, and ethnicities. It need not mean excluding any particular ethnicity. It means honoring the ancestors of those present, spiritual ancestors yes, but most of all our blood ancestors because they are the reason we are here. Must I really discuss something so simple, so foundational, so remedial? You might as well suggest we stop acknowledging that the sky is blue.
Nor do I think we should be obsessed with diversity. What makes a Heathen kindred solid is not the diversity of its folk but their commitment. We should be raising up a generation of Heathens committed to their Gods and ancestors, regardless of what their racial make-up is. I don’t want someone black or Latina/o, or LGBTQ coming into our traditions just to make them colorful. I want people coming in who love the Gods and want to grow these traditions into the next generation and if they happen to be black or latino/a, or LGBTQ, etc. then that’s fine. Seeking people out for their color or orientation, Karl, is no better than denying someone entry because of those things. These traditions are, at their core, Northern European traditions. It should not be surprising that the majority of practitioners are also of that ancestry. Honor those ancestors. Shame on you for trying to erase them and dear, dear Karl, bless your heart, stop trying to insert your own pseudo-progressive politics into Heathenry under the cover of helping. Your attack on the second amendment in this country is proof enough of where your true loyalties lie, especially since historically that has been used to oppress minority communities.
Neither should we be silencing Heathens at panels and workshops because they are white. Really, Karl? Really? Spitting on your traditions and ancestors that much? Why instead, don’t we have the best and most experienced presenters regardless of color? Hmm? Meritocracy is a wonderful thing, one well in line with Heathen values, after all.
Nor do I think we should oppose “rants” about Abrahamic religions. Monotheism is a huge part of the problem and if anyone thinks that we should forget what was done to our ancestors and our traditions, should pretend that these things did not occur, could not again occur, do not occur in large parts of the world today, and do not continue to affect us, and that we can all be friends, is deluded. They also don’t understand wyrd and ancestor obligation in the least. We should never forget. At least, Karl, we’re not asking for reparations. Nor are those of us who love our Gods and traditions willing to turn a blind eye to the damage monotheism has done to them. This is where Heathenry’s traditional warrior ethic is most needed: to combat bullshit like this, garbage that will lead our traditions into a morass of identitarian chaos and groundless pabulum.
What we should be doing is speaking up every time we see our sacred symbols misused. Challenge that loudly and clearly and educate where you can.
We need more emphasis on our warrior ethos, developing men and women of honor, integrity, courage, and a willingness to act for the good of their Traditions. Let us raise Heathens unafraid to speak out.
We should not (as I recently saw in a pathetic…i mean a patheos article) abandon othala and other runes because it might hurt people’s feelings. These are ours. They belong to our Gods and our Traditions. Hate groups’ use of them is appropriation and must be resisted. Have a little spine, people.
People like Karl and the author of that patheos post are the reasons we need to start thinking of our traditions first, because when they think of them, they don’t think of the glory of the Gods, they don’t think of the power of our ancestors, they don’t think of our pious obligations to these Powers, no. They think only of how to strip mine all the good out of them and savage them for their own pseudo-progresive purpose. It’s every bit as disgusting as a Neo-Nazi using othala on their flag.