My husband and I had an encounter when we were eating lunch today at the local diner. We were seated next to two older women. I was wearing a fitted T shirt (I’d just come from the gym and had been working out) and it showed my arms, and hence many of my tattoos were visible. One of the women sitting next to me (mistaking me for a man because of my close-cropped hair and lack of make-up, boobs notwithstanding) started muttering to her friend “How dare he sit there with his head like that and those things on his arms?” We ignored her and her friend calmed her down. Later she called me a “nazi.” We ignored her (mostly because I was oblivious to it. I had such a headache at the time that I wasn’t much paying attention to the people next to us, though I knew they were agitated about something. My husband was watching very carefully though, not sure how agitated they were going to become). Because she was an older woman, we dealt with it gently.
I wear these marks to honor the Gods and spirits that I dearly love. Each one marks devotion, initiation, a relationship that has shaped me and the work that I do in this world. Each one is my consciously giving Them the territory of my flesh, joyously. These marks represent the Forces that hold my being together, that give me purpose, that have called me into life. I have gotten them out of love but also in many cases because I was asked to do so by the God or spirit in question. They show the boundaries of my world marked clearly in my flesh.
THIS is exactly why the #Heathenvisibility project is so important, to counter misunderstandings like we dealt with today because I’m sure this won’t be the last time. Let’s be loud and proud about our faith and not afraid to gently explain when people get it so very wrong. Most of all, let us never, ever cover up those signifiers of our devotion, our love, and our service. Our Gods deserve better.
Over the last two + years, Heathens have been growing more and more appalled at the (mis)-use of our sacred symbols by neo-Nazi groups. It’s disgusting, obscene, and outright blasphemous. We all speak out when we can, but we are a group of minority religions and most people outside of our religious communities aren’t going to make the necessary distinction between inappropriate mis-appropriation and proper religious usage of symbols like the runes, Thor’s Hammer, the Valknot, etc. It’s important, I think, that we speak out and up every chance we get.
I should point out that this isn’t just an issue with racist appropriation of our symbols but also the unfortunate influence of pop culture figures like Marvel-Thor on our iconography. The solution to both is to flood our social media with images of real Heathens doing Heathen things, wearing Heathen symbols and giving visual voice, if you will to what it means to be a practicing polytheist and Heathen in today’s world.
To that end, I’m happy to say that Heathen author Erin Lale has started the Heathen Visibility Project. You can read more about that (and please, I encourage everyone to do so – it’s really simple to participate in and, I think, important) here and here. This may actually get me to start an Instagram account. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
Anyway, go and read about Erin’s amazing project. This is important work, not just for our communities now, but for their future.
#Heathenvisibility #Heathen #Heathenry #Asatru #NorthernTradition
EDIT: ok. i did it. I broke down and got an instagram for Heathen things, though I might also include Bacchic interludes. it’s Heathenliving. Go for it. i have no idea what i’m doing there. be kind. lol