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Police Break up Church Services Over Easter

I rarely find myself in agreement with Christian clergy on many points, but today has proven an unexpected exception. I woke up to several articles and videos of pastors/priests in Canada, Ireland, and England having had their Easter weekend services broken up by police, in at least one case, mid-service. This, despite the fact that interfering with a religious service is against the law in Canada, and in many of the cases (though not all) congregations were properly masked and distancing. The police thought nothing of attempting to break up services, or actually doing so, on what for Western Christians is their holiest time of the year (1). 

I may be all for most Covid restrictions, but let’s apply them consistently. When government is breaking up BLM and Antifa riots with as much alacrity as they’re interfering in people’s religious obligations, I’ll step back from my position here, namely that I don’t think the government should EVER interfere with religious services (2). 

I worry about the long-term precedent being set. If a government, be it federal or local, is willing to disrupt Christian religious services (and so far, I’ve only seen this happening to Christians, with one exception here in NY of an Orthodox Jewish funeral), without a doubt, those self-same government bodies would be more than willing to disrupt ours. I really don’t want to be in the position of holding a blót and having the police show up to profane it – of course, I suppose we could all dress in black, set something on fire, and claim to be protesting “oppression” and maybe then we’d get a pass but who wants to bring that type of pollution into the space of one’s Gods? 

Notes: 

  1. Many Orthodox Christians, adhere to the Julian calendar and thus celebrate Easter later than Catholics and Protestants. See here for more info.
  2. Now, I think clergy have an obligation to their parishioners to be flexible and to comply with guidelines as much as possible and for the most part, clergy have been quite creative in dealing with restrictions. I think my favorite that I’ve heard about so far is a Catholic priest who used a water gun filled with holy water to bless and/or baptize via drive by. Lol  

A Massachussetts School Bans the “Odyssey”

The woke brigade strikes again. To preserve their precious feelings and further indoctrinate children with their utter lack of values and virtue, a group #distrupttexts has successfully gotten one of the cornerstones of Western literature banned from a school in MA. Read the full story here


I read an article earlier about this and “teachers” were proud of this ban. Personally, it would be better if they closed the school, and any teacher that advocates for banning books isn’t fit to teach. They’re so eager to virtue signal their “wokeness” *gags* that they are denying this generation’s children a proper education. Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” are core texts for understanding pretty much all of the literature that came after it. I suppose these woke “teachers” don’t want to have to be bothered to explain different values and customs or, you know, do their jobs and teach. 


I suppose stories about heroism, cleverness, virtue, and fidelity (especially in women) are difficult to teach when the people teaching it have none of those qualities. Those pushing this ban referred to the “Odyssey” as “trash.” I have yet to see their accomplishments, other than denying the children placed in their care a proper education. 


Personally, if you haven’t read the “Odyssey” and the “Iliad” by the time you graduate high school, you’re not ready for college. I only lament that high schoolers aren’t reading them in the original Greek these days.  

The only way these days to guarantee that your children are getting a decent education, one that will render them thinking, literate, historically aware adults is to homeschool. This trend toward banning the best books of world literature, of classic literature is a perfect example of where public education is going. Object to this, parents. Object strongly and never, ever apologize for challenging this censorship. Your children deserve at least that. 

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but it needs to be said:

We don’t have to agree politically. I’m seeing a lot of articles espousing the idea that all Heathens have to be leftist to be Heathen, that if one doesn’t replace devotion with politics, one can’t call oneself Heathen. On both counts, this is utter, unmitigated garbage. A religion is a space wherein one learns to properly honor the Gods. Period. You can hold whatever political opinions you want and still be Heathen. Why? Because your religious identity is not defined by your political position. It’s defined solely by whether or not you venerate your Gods and ancestors. 

I’m not surprised to see leftists trying to take advantage of recent events to force their political narrative into Heathenry. People are scared. We’re seeing our religion dragged through the mud and many of us are afraid that this is the first in what will turn into a crusade against Heathenry in the near future. I am afraid though that there are those who are taking advantage of that fear and anxiety to push a particular political position. While I agree we should be calling out white supremacists in our midst – because that garbage does not need to be the face of Heathenry (aside from being complete and utter bullshit too)—I likewise think we should be resisting radicalization by the left. Both are evil. 

Moreover, you do not have to be active politically to be a good Heathen. Heathenry is about ONE thing: venerating the Germanic Gods, one’s ancestors, and the land. Of course, that bleeds out into other ways that one lives one’s life: cultivating family, civic engagement, etc. but politics is not religion and one should never, ever be mistaken for the other. This is yet another attempt by those with no piety to destroy our traditions, and shame on them. It’s a pretty pitiful and pathetic thing to do. 

I hate seeing our religion equated with white supremacy. I find it disgusting. I hate seeing our sacred symbols used by Neo-nazis. I find that revolting and nauseating. However, and it kills me to say this because I really, really want to follow the herd on this one and espouse the opposite: one can be deeply religious and politically wrong. Their political identity, as much as we may wish it otherwise, doesn’t rule out possible Heathenry, as comforting as it might be for us to say it does. Now, I’ve been Heathen for thirty years and I know that the white supremacy problem is not as pandemic in Heathenry as the media thinks it is. We’re just a juicy target (probably more because of our family values and piety than the symbols we use, or any particular politics, to be honest). It is, however there on the fringes. I would like to see more work done to educate those in our community who hold those views, to help them move away from the hate. It’s not that difficult to make a theological argument countering such prejudice. Since this is a religion and not a political party, it’s to the theological we should turn. 

I suppose when one’s political identity is all one has, when one hasn’t bothered cultivating any type of devotion to the Holy Powers, it must really seem like everything is political. It’s certainly less frightening to twist Heathenry into a political movement than to sit at the feet of our Gods in awe and terror. Cowards. That’s what so many of you are. You pander to whatever is easiest. That’s what these incessant calls to politicize Heathenry are all about. Never a thought to religion, piety, or the Gods, just human bullshit. Because we never cease to try to pull the holy down to our level so we can drag it through the shit and justify our own laziness. Cowards. If white supremacy is wrong – and it IS—call it out. Don’t pollute our religion by pretending it’s all about politics though. Devotion is already an uphill battle for most people – and a far more valuable one than all the politicking in the world.  Maybe reorder your priorities. 

Question what you read

Rolling Stone just put out an article about the storming of the Capital on Wednesday. They flat out said that Heathenry was code for white supremacy. They are damning an entire religion without knowing what the hell they’re talking about. This is the worst sort of journalism (if one can even call it that). Note, they don’t bother calling out Christianity, despite the numerous crosses in clear view at the riot.

This is what we are now facing.

Speak out. Wear your sacred symbols proudly (mjolnir, valknot, etc.). Do not let ignorant, prejudicial bullshit drive you into a religious closet. Don’t let anyone or anything make you ashamed of your traditions, your Gods, your ancestor practice. These are good and holy things. Our religion is NOT a religion of white supremacy. It’s a religion of family, community, piety, reverence. It’s a religion that anyone can practice if they have reverence for our Gods.

EDIT as of Jan. 10: Rolling Stone issued a piss poor correction of the problematic text. It’s not great, but it’s something.

Election Day 2020

Tomorrow is election day in the US and already, we have seen unrest throughout the country. People are nervous, scared, angry, and a thousand other things. In my lifetime, no other election has been as contested and contentious as this one. Many of us are worried that there will be violence and uprisings in the aftermath.

I urge everyone who is eligible to go out and vote your conscience, if you have not already done so (many states opened up the option for early voting).

My grandmother was born into a world where she was a civic non-person. She had no voice in the election process. Women did not have the legal right to vote (except at that time in Wyoming). Women fought for this right and were imprisoned and often tortured. Even if I don’t like my choices, I always get my butt out there on election day and vote, because I know that it is a privilege, one very hard earned.

For those scared and anxious, ask your ancestors to support and sustain you. Understand that whatever the outcome of the election, our communities will stand strong because ultimately what makes a community viable is not its leadership, it is the care and support we give to each other, even when we disagree. Stand with your family and neighbors and friends and commit to cultivating each other, nourishing each other in the years to come.

Most of all, don’t be afraid. This country is about our voices being counted. It’s only when we give up that right that real, long lasting, harmful change will occur. Go to your Gods, go to your ancestors, and have courage. The changes we want occur within each and every one of us, and in the restoration of those ancient contracts with our Gods, our ancestors, and the land. Everything good and wholesome flows from that and how we nourish those things is fully within our power to control. Lay your anxiety and fear at the feet of your ancestors and go forth tomorrow knowing that whatever happens, you will endure and maybe even thrive.

First Principles and Food for Thought

I recently discovered the following videos on youtube. I’ve only watched these two but I think they are worth watching, and if you do, we can then have a conversation about them here, what we agree on and what we disagree on. I think on first listening, even when the language might make me a tad uncomfortable (I am an academic after all), that I agree with most of what this man suggests, despite the fact he is coming from a Christian perspective.

Here is the first video. In this, I agree with what he says but dislike his attribution to those things of the word ‘cozy.’ The word, to me, is low brow and emotional. I would instead try lineaged, cultured, connected (though he does use the term ‘quality’ at one point). He’s speaking about tradition, civilization, heritage for all people and the way that certain things like art and culture ennoble us and elevate our souls.

(The above video is part of a three part series that you can find on his youtube site). Now, below is the second video. I would offer a caveat that when he mentions ‘ancestor worship,’ given the context, I do not believe he is talking about actual ancestor worship and veneration, but rather about idolizing one’s ancestors to the point of excusing and justifying their every bad action. The man has definitely read his Aristotle too. Some of this is triggering, even to me, but what triggers me is the language, not necessarily the ideas that he is expressing. Even where I disagree or find his approach too facile, I think he is raising questions that we need to consider. I really like his focus on dignity of all persons and peoples, embedded in an awareness that we are one link in a chain stretching back into our ancestral prehistory and forward farther than we can ever see, and that we have the moral and social responsibilities that come with that.

I very much think that the problems in our society that we are seeing will not go away on the basis of any political or riotous action. The only curative as I see it is restoring and nurturing the ancient contracts: honoring our ancestors, respecting the land, and rooting ourselves deeply and purely in our polytheisms and sacred traditions, in our relationship with our Gods, and all the ways that demands we approach the world and each other. I also think we need to be cultivating the dignity of every person and acknowledging their importance and connection to the multiple heritages that make up our world as a fundamental aspect of building a morally just civilization. We should build each other up and assist each other in restoring and redeveloping these sacred bonds, and the only time we should bend the knee is to our Holy Powers.

Statues of Mary Vandalized and Desecrated

This just makes me so sad. At this stage in the game, an attack on any Deity is an attack on all Deities. I”ll be dedicating quite a bit of time tonight to prayer.

 

I bind myself today to the Holy Powers:
Their hands to guide me,
Their wisdom to teach me,
Their ears to hear me,
Their words to give me speech,
my heart always to love Them.

Same Shit, Different Day

So, once again a little cadre of leftists (or just haters – it’s not always easy to tell the true motivations behind some of these folks) on twitter and tumblr are going on and on and on about how I’m a racist, a nazi, a [go ahead and insert horrible term here — I’ve actually seen one post where the writer just changed their nasty word of choice for me to something else when it didn’t get the response the poster hoped]. Plus, I’m a woman who won’t shut the hell up, which I suspect is far more of the issue than anyone is admitting. 

Here’s a thought: Instead of allowing other people to tell you what to believe, why don’t you read my blog and decide for yourself. 

You don’t need people to predigest and then spit that information into your mouth like a baby bird. All of you are intelligent, creative, mature individuals capable of reading and making up your own mind. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, because when they do, they control you. 

On July 4th – Musings on Independence Day

Today in the United States it is the fourth of July (though by the time I get around to posting this, it may actually be the 5th). This day commemorates the founding of our nation and its war for independence from Britain. For the longest time, while I enjoyed the fireworks and the trappings of celebration, I never thought much more about it. I know the history of our country good, bad, and in-between and I continue to read, learn, and study as time permits. It’s always been a topic of mild interest for me, particularly colonial history. This year, however, I’ve been thinking quite a bit more about the United States, the Declaration of Independence, and especially the Constitution, about what it means, the conditions under which it was written, and most of all about what a remarkable document it truly is.

This is an odd place for me to find myself. I’ve never, ever considered myself a patriot. I’ve never been proud of being American nor indeed does it form a significant part of my personal identity (as I know from talking to many of my friends that it often does for others). In fact, growing up in Maryland, I was often ashamed and irritated by the general Weltanschauung of this country. I hated what I perceived as a lack of culture and class, the stupidity and mediocrity that I saw everywhere around me (as it seemed to me as a child. As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate the nuances of this country more, particularly the way that Americans are open-hearted and friendly from the outset as a general rule. No longer being one of only two people in my grade school class who liked to read books lol, and with the autonomy of an adult in choosing her own friends and pursuits, I realize everything is not as bad as it seemed when I was small). I always longed to be elsewhere.  This longing only increased when I began studying ballet with an eye toward making a career for myself. Nothing that I found in the States, especially the broad, brash ballet style so favored by Balanchine favorably compared with the elegant traditions of France, Denmark, or Russia (1). This feeling didn’t abate as I grew. Later on, having an adopted mother who was Swiss helped my political awareness to develop well outside of the American norm – I’m neither Democrat nor Republican and were I living in the 18th century, I’d probably have supported England– so it’s odd for me now to find myself more and more over the past few years in the position of not only having to explain the Constitution and in some cases basic American history to people, but also realizing what a truly remarkable project it was and remains.

Enacted in 1789, the Constitution contains a preamble (“We the people…”),  seven Articles (describing the three branches of government -legislative, executive, and judicial,- the responsibilities of the state and federal governments, and delineating how the government works at a national level), and 27 Amendments, the first ten of which form the Bill of Rights, which restrict the power of the government and grant us such rights as free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms (2). It is not perfect, but it is, nonetheless, an astonishing document.  In drafting the Constitution, our founding Fathers for all of their flaws, did something ground-breaking and unique, something extraordinary, and we as a nation are at our best when we are working together to live up to the ideals articulated in its laws.  I don’t think the writers of the Constitution thought their country was perfect. In fact, the very language of the preamble shows quite the opposite: “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” not a perfect union, but one that would be better, a more perfect union. This document was a starting point, not an end. It was the beginning of our country, not its terminus. It was a foundation upon which we might build, working toward that “more perfect” union.

Instead, today, we as a society are doing our damndest to burn that promise down, to destroy that union. Benjamin Franklin, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, once warned that, “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” As we sacrifice more of our freedom for a false sense of security, beg for more regulation on our personal lives and bodies, for restrictions on the very freedoms that our forefathers fought so hard to defend, I cannot help but think that we are slipping the yoke around our own necks. If I could go back in time to 1776, I would beg the founding Fathers to end slavery even if it cost them the support of the southern states. I would point to the divisions that are being used – not by those desiring equality for all, but by groups like antifa that would exploit that desire for their own deeply destructive ends—to destroy the country that our founders were trying against all odds to secure. I would beg them to acknowledge those men and women of color among them as equals and to fight hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, side by side to build this nation proudly, equally. Because to do anything else would be to create a putrid division that would continue to fester beneath the surface of their nation, impeding the very liberties that the Constitution urges us to ensure.

We had an opportunity to begin this country clean in 1776 and we failed to do that. I believe, however, that slowly we have been working toward a ‘more perfect union’ ever since, even though we have more often than not fallen short. It is up to all of us to keep our eyes raised high to the expectations laid out in our Constitution, a document unlike any other in the world at the time it was composed, to keep our eyes upon that and to fix our minds and characters on attaining all that it promises. I do not believe the way toward that goal lies in deconstruction, in burning, looting, rioting, and tearing down and rejecting order. I think it lies in remembering that we can and should be better than we are, and in working toward that as individuals, as communities, and human beings with a shared stake in our nation. Those things that spread division, that offer no solution but dissolution, that spit on the very freedoms our ancestors of every color and every race fought to defend do nothing to further its promise. They are the things that will destroy us from within.

I’m still not a patriot. More often than not in my heart of hearts I want to ask, “what is “American” to me that I should care about any of this?” Yet I do because I have had ancestors who survived communist Russia, who were taken from Lithuania and sent to gulags for their patriotism (3). My family story has taught me how important a thing it is to fight for freedom and to cherish its promise and at its best, that is what America stands for in the minds of so many of our immigrant ancestors and so many immigrants today (4). That same story has taught me the need to acknowledge failure while at the same time working to build up our communities, to demand change, without also begging for destruction. The marches, riots, protests currently taking place across the USA sadden me to my core and they make me angry. The peaceful protests are fine but too often they’ve been coopted by groups that have zero interest in fighting racism, but instead wish to see the end of America…with no clear, workable vision of anything better with which to replace it. It is destruction for the sake of destruction and isn’t doing a god damned thing to make the lives of POC better.

I think we should treasure our history – the good, the bad, the ugly – because it is our litmus test, our line in the sand, our point of departure. It isn’t there to make us comfortable or uncomfortable. At times, it is right and proper that we be deeply ashamed. At times, proud. Acknowledging all those messy parts, framed against the remarkable hope embedded in our founding documents, and moving forward as a people is the challenge that we have always faced. I rarely write about overtly political things here (I save all that crap for facebook). I do think, however, that participating in the civic life of one’s community is something that a well-rounded adult does as a matter of course. It’s not devotional work, but it is an obligation that we maintain as part of remaining in right relationship with the vaettir of our nation, our state, our city, our town, our immediate community (5).

We have an incredibly robust government that is capable of allowing necessary change to occur even in the face of huge opposition. Its checks and balances are our strength and somehow this keeps our government from sliding into either dictatorship or chaos. It’s a remarkably dynamic and lively system. People have the freedom to question even the constitution itself, but before we decide to rid ourselves entirely of that document, we might want to consider living up to it.

 

Notes:

  1. Each of the national ballet schools in Russia, England, France, or Denmark has a unique style. The American style, in many ways defined and codified by George Balanchine and his NYCB and School of American Ballet has a style that is broad, open, and lacking in the tightly controlled elegance of the more traditional systems. It’s like dealing with multiple dialects of the same language. Each has its beauty and its flaws.
  2. That freedom, even when articulated in a Constitution, is never a given is perfectly demonstrated by the slow chipping away of our 2nd amendment rights in this country, a process that has been going on for decades but that has gained greater traction in the wake of Columbine and other school shootings. The degree to which contemporary Americans are willing to sacrifice freedom for the illusion of security is truly terrifying.
  3. When I was 15, I had the opportunity to do a nearly semester long exchange program in what was then the Soviet Union, and by chance, we were sent to Vilnius, Lithuania. Almost all of my dad’s family came from Vilnius (a few from Kaunas) and I actually met cousins while I was there. One of the most moving experiences was meeting my father’s uncle and having him grab my arms and say to me, “You tell your father I’m still here. I was sent to Siberia, but I survived and I’m still here.” I didn’t understand what he meant then or why it was so important a message, but I do now. I also understand why my Lithuanian ancestors were so deeply * angry * that I changed my last name from ‘Dabravalskas’ when I was 18 to one of the Russian names in my family line. I was a ballet dancer. At the time, every director I had made an issue of how long my Lithuanian last name was. Now, I’d tell them to kiss off but at 17 and 18 in the late eighties, trying for a ballet career, I wasn’t that bold! It was only when I married that my Lithuanian ancestors let go of the majority of their anger over that name change.
  4. My friend Tatyana was telling me earlier today that her parents, who immigrated here from the Ukraine when she was a pre-teen become extremely patriotic around thanksgiving and July 4 and it amused her. It made perfect sense to me though: they chose this country, coming from a repressive communist state where freedom of movement, education, job, and thought were curtailed. They know the opposite of what America represents. My dad, having been born – first generation American – in 1917 was the same way.
  5. ‘Vaettir’ is the old Norse word for (generic) ‘spirits.’ In this case, I’m referring to land spirits.

 

For further reading:

Full text of the Constitution may be found here.

Frederick Douglass’ “What to a Slave is the 4th of July” may be found here.

the political is spiritual — The House of Vines

Every word.

Apropos of my last post … [Edited to add: woops, I meant to link this post, though I suppose the other works too.] How does destroying statues of elk and mermaids get justice for George Floyd, Elijah McClain or Breonna Taylor, let alone all of the poor White, Latino, Indigenous, Queer, et alia lives that […]

via the political is spiritual — The House of Vines