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And now the Apostate has defenders.

I suppose it’s indicative of Heathenry that a wife-beating apostate has defenders, because way too many Heathens respect neither women nor the Gods. This misguided person is doggedly defending Swain Wodening on both counts, blaming his ex wife for her own abuse, excusing Swain’s apostasy as though it were nothing but a momentary error. He dismisses any criticism of this piece of garbage by asserting that those of us criticizing him are acting on hearsay.

Actually, those of us criticizing him knew Swain and his ex wife, we worked with him when we were Theodish, and saw first hand what a mewling, characterless cretin he was –and obviously remains (constantly blaming everyone else for his own missteps is just the beginning). We’re not acting on hearsay at all. Nor is his mental illness an excuse. There are PLENTY of people in the world diagnosed with General Anxiety disorder who don’t behave in the fashion swain did.

Do I blame his wife for anything? Maybe for not shooting the son of a bitch the first time he attacked her. But then the laws in this country don’t always support women who do the right thing in such situations, and she had children to care for. She made choices congruent with keeping her children safe. Brava to her. She survived and I am glad to know that she is living a good and happy life now– far away from Swain. It disgusts me that in every case I have seen in our communities, where a well-known male figure is guilty of some sort of assault, those he assaulted get blamed (I saw the same thing happen in the Wiccan community with pedophile and wife beater Kenny Klein, may he rot in hell).

Even putting aside the spousal abuse, Swain says his “conversion to Christianity was a mistake.” no shit. A leader, as Swain was within Theodish Heathenry, who turns his back on his Gods and *publicly excoriates Them* has no right to expect return. He is garbage, living garbage. He committed apostasy of the highest order. A “mistake?” Yes it was and mistakes have consequences. In a proper community he’d be driven out, not defended. But then a proper community would care about the quality of its leaders, and integrity before the Gods. Swain has neither quality nor integrity and yet these fools defend him. His personal integrity – – if he came back, why would he be seeking public position in stead of just worshipping quietly? If he’s coming back to try to reclaim his public position — oh hell no. There is no excuse for what Swain did. He apostatized and wants to come back as though that never happened and didn’t matter AND as on every other fault, not only blames everyone but his own lack of character and poor judgement, but apparently has other men doing the same. Grow the fuck up, Heathens. This man is polluted garbage, poison. There’s no place amongst decent, devout people for his kind. This man’s deeds are to beat his wife and publicly turn his back on his Gods. He and his family popularized the maxim “we are our deeds.” Well, to quote another maxim, “it is by one’s deeds that we shall know them.”

As I said before, it’s one thing for laity to apostatize. They struggle with our spirituality and it can be very hard. There’s going to be movement and sometimes even syncretic practice. That’s fine. That’s not Swain. Swain was one of the most well known of Theodish leaders and, might I point out, according to the interview linked above, he’s not taking responsibility for his apostasy either. He says, ‘I never fully accepted the [Christian] doctrine.’ Great. So you’re an apostate twice over. (Nor, might I add, did Swain ever criticize Theodism as the article asserts. If he did, he was awfully quiet about it). Also, his belief “But the core of my beliefs, that good deeds not faith get you into Heaven are what I truly believe” is heresy both in most Christian denominations and Heathenry. It’s one fucking step away from prosperity gospel bullshit.

Swain didn’t just hold Christian views, but wrote a book on it trying to capitalize on being a covert from Heathenry. They finally see through your Bullshit, Swain? Is that why you’re back? Hoping a new generation of Heathens won’t know what a piece of shit you truly are? Did you get kicked out by Christians AND Heathens? wow. Maybe try Wicca next. Their standards might be more flexible. After all, many of them defended Kenny Klein and Isaac Bonewits and probably Marian Zimmer Bradley too so you’ll be in good company. But fuck off out of Heathenry. You have no place here and every time your name comes up, we should spit that foulness out of our mouths, and speak aloud your unending list of transgressions against your family, your tribe, and your Gods. None of us who knew you during that time, will ever forget. And forgiveness without recompense is not part of our tradition.

After all as the Havamal says, “When you see evil speak out against it and give no truce to your enemy.” A man who beats his wife, terrorizes his children, abandons his faith and publicly apostatizes will always be my enemy.

Apostasy in our Communities

I hate having to make this post. The subject is one, however, that needs to be addressed by those of us who have been in the community long enough to know the history of the person in question. I really hate having to write this. 


Apparently Swain Wodening is back, after having apostatized, broken faith with our Gods, after he returned to Christianity, and after he’s written at least one book “Letting Go to Live with Christ” (and this is not going into detail about what an execrable human being he is on a personal level). He’s lurking in multiple Facebook Heathen groups under his legal name Berry Canote. 


So far, there has been no explanation of his apostasy, no contrition, no humility. Is he coming back in troth or coming back to proselytize? Or is he coming back because he didn’t get enough attention after his apostasy (after all, Christian groups might pet and fawn over the converted Pagan for a year or two but eventually that fame fades). Why should we ever trust the word of a man with so little honor?


Swain was not just  regular laity. He was in positions of authority and leadership within Heathenry. He broke his word and turned his back on the Gods. We need to hold our leaders and elders to a higher standard or what’s the point? If someone is going to constantly swing back and forth between Heathenry, Christianity, Heathenry, Christianity, etc. they are unreliable and having broken their word, having broken troth to the degree that he did, we should not easily allow such a person to return to our communities without censure. Nor should he ever be given any position of leadership again ever. 


It’s not even that he went Christian…a polytheist can honor the Christian Gods if he or she wants. No, Swain fully turned his back on the Gods and became a monotheist. This isn’t the same as syncretic practice, adding more Deities to your family shrine; this is a renunciation of our Holy Powers and once you do that, there should not be an easy way back. Personally, I don’t think there should be a way back at all, but if we’re being generous, the fucker should have to prove himself for a very long time. 


At some point, we need to establish strict standards in dealing with garbage like this. There is no place in our community for atheists and there’s certainly no place for those who abandon the Gods in the way that he did to traipse back in expecting to be welcomed with open arms. This is a religion not a fucking social club. 

EDIT: I would add if it were a lay person struggling with his or her faith, we could work with that and probably should work with that, but this was someone who was a leader in the heathen community for years, who influenced many people, and who behaved abominably. and, moreover, who has evinced no contrition or explanation upon his return and who is sneaking back in under his legal name, not the one he used before as if to hide. no. no. and no