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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in asatru

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I belong to a local, Pan-Pagan group.  I was a member of it about seven or eight years ago, but it was a bit too chaotic and "fluffy" for my tastes.  I didn't end up sticking around for long as a result, but it did good work in the community and meant well, so it's existence didn't really bother me either.  It just wasn't for me, but it served it's purpose.  Recently, the organization went under a fair amount of upheaval and was in danger of breaking apart due to infighting and disagreements. 

It had managed to achieve non-profit status about three or four years ago, so people came forward to try and help repair the damage and keep it alive.  While not the most conservative state in the union, Pennsylvania is hardly what I'd call progressive either.  As such, having a Pagan organization with non-profit status is something worthy of celebrating and definitely provokes some consideration.  Some of the local Heathens were part of the initial efforts to rebuild the organization from the ground up, and informed me of the issues at hand.  I decided I wanted to help as well, which brings us to the moment where I found myself in a county owned recreational center, sitting in on one of the meetings.

At one point, the conversation turned to the subject of how to make events and rituals mutually inclusive and respectful to all people who might be in attendance.  Towards the end of the discussion, an elderly woman of an amicable nature said "We should all stop arguing, and just worship the Earth."  She said this while wearing an expression that suggested she felt that this was so universal of a truth there could be no way that anyone who called themselves Witch, Pagan, or Polytheist could possibly disagree.  It wasn't an opinion, to her; it was fact.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mythology---Dragon---St.-George-fighting-the-dragon.jpgMost of the people in attendance were Wiccans and/or Monists of various philosophies, so she didn't seem to actually offend anyone.  Even my fellow Heathens and I were sort of used to these statement from her, so we didn't really see the point in working ourselves up over the issue.  Getting angry at this sort of person is like yelling at a cloud; it does nothing, and they didn't come from someone who was particularly polarizing.  She's just the typical representation of someone who thinks they're so inclusive that couldn't possibly make an excluding statement.

The thing is, however, that I've seen so many theological arguments come from this exact scenario; someone makes some sort of presumption for all of Paganism, and than they come across someone who believes the exact opposite.  The next step is that the disagreeing Pagan will point out, often times with great offense, that the person is very wrong.  Typically, the person who made the faux-inclusive statement gets defensive, because they aren't bigoted and/or privileged so of COURSE the other person is just being too sensitive, and than an argument breaks out.

We've all seen his exact scenario play out a lot, especially over the last year or two.  I stay out of these fights because, to be quite simple about it, I don't recognize the authority of some fool sitting off on the sideline making proclamations that are less authoritative on a given religion than the content of a Wikipedia article.  Some people, however, don't go by that standard and I can't blame them; when you practice a minority religion, you find yourself bombarded with a rather alarming amount of social faux pas. 

That's putting it very diplomatically to be sure, but it cuts to the core nicely.  Being the target of so many social and diplomatic mistakes, you expect people who also practices minority religions to be more mindful and considerate.  After all, regardless of whether you are a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Gardenerian Wiccan, a solitary practitioner, or what have you...in many circles within North America and (I suspect) Europe, you are going to be the targets of some similar acts of ignorance, privilege*, and stupidity.  You expect that anyone who is in a similar situation would take equal effort in being mindful of the theology and philosophy of others.

So when that expectation is let down, it's easy to get extremely angry about it.

I am Heathen.  I do respect the Earth, no doubt; there are spirits both animist and ancestral that reside on it and within it, and I do my best to show them the respect and thankfulness my tradition says that they are due.  I do not, however, worship the Earth; that's a word that I direct towards divine figures almost exclusively.  Even with ancestors, the term "worship" is used differently than I use it when I talk about Gods.  That is my path, and no one gets to tell me what it's about or what I should or should not be worshiping.**

You are...well, whatever you are.  Whatever your tradition, path, or philosophy, it is up to you to define your worldview as best as you are able.  In the meantime, for the sake of the Ancestors, Gods, the Earth,or even the Flying Spaghetti Monster, don't act like your path is mine.  At least, not before we've talked and discovered that together.  Not until you truly know, rather than feel you can  reasonably presume.  Your path does not represent the whole spectrum of non-Abrhamic and/or non-Islamic belief,*** so don't pretend that it does.

You have the right to your beliefs, but that right ends at the beginning of every other person's belief.  No matter then intention, someone trying to unify all faiths across the world into a single thread is going to end up insulting someone.  Probably a lot of someones.  No matter the intentions, it becomes exactly like being told that you are a Satanist because you're not Christian.  Improperly worded or poorly thought out statements about religious unity contain a very similar message; they involve telling someone what their faith is, without their consent or consideration of their person.  Should we be surprised that such statements end poorly when the presume so many things that, in many case, trip over many of our own psychological wounds? 

No matter what you wish to say when it comes to religion, you'll find someone who disagrees.  That is wonderful!  After decades and centuries of religious thought having been homogenized, by legal mandate in some cases, we have the opportunity to form our religious standards, philosophies, and concepts.  In many places in the world, such processes even have legal protection.  We get to disagree on religion, and have that not be a big deal.  We can identify, build, and form spiritual relationships in ways that were unthinkable a few generations ago.  Savor that! 

b2ap3_thumbnail_iStock_prism.jpgThis statement even applies to my Monist friends; even if you feel all paths are one, the wondrous permutations of that one idea are split into thousands of ideas like the light of one sun traveling through a prism.  This isn't a cause for contention.  It is a cause to rejoice!

Even this statement that I am making now will find some who disagree with it, and I'm okay with that.  The person who disagrees with probably will be as well, because I'm about to say one thing; this is how I see things.  I speak for no one else but myself, because I'm the only person I have the authority to speak for.  Everyone else needs to speak for themselves.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


* I don't like the term privilege, because I think it's counter productive most of the time.  Using the term in conversation with people who don't understand it seems to destroy bridges instead of building them, and I think that's not any kind of way to sew empathy and compassion.  Your mileage may vary, of course.  In this case, we're talking about it in a broader, less accusatory manner....which is where I think this concept works best.

**Well, my Gods get to of course...but that is an entirely different topic...

***I use the dictionary definition of Pagan most of the time; that is, any religion that doesn't come from a Christian, Hebrew, or Islamic background.  Yes, that casts a wide net...but it's about the only consistent definition I can ever find.  Thus, it has become the one I use the most.  My word choices typically favor clarity as a deciding factor, and you can't get much clearer than "this is the definition the dictionary uses the most often".

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  • LilithBlackDragon
    LilithBlackDragon says #
    Oh I definitely GOT this article. All of it. Made absolute perfect sense to me. For some reason, lots of people want to shade into
  • Gregor
    Gregor says #
    Your writing is barely coherent. I have no idea what this article was trying to say other than something about an old lady worshi

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Odin / Lugh as the Yule King by Shirl Sazynski A past December:

It's the season of mistletoe and holly, when bells are ring-jing-jing-a-ling and the year-round Northern outdoor signs that say, "Beware of Falling Ice" finally have meaning. The night is hushed in a way it only gets when there is a blanket of snow, on the eve before a holiday, when everything is closed. Snuggled in a hotel room in upstate New York, red and blue-foil snowflakes covering presents gleam out of the corner of my eye, while real ones slowly fall, dancing over the parking lot.

               It's almost midnight. Drowsy with hot cider, lying on my husband's chest and listening to his heartbeat, there's nowhere else I'd rather be…

               I feel, rather than hear, the Yule King's call at first: a pull like I'm standing in a river, and then his voice flows across my mind.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

First, allow me to apologize for being out of the loop for about a month. Between Thanksgiving, holiday shopping, and coming down with some mutant offspring of the bubonic plague, writing anything of merit has been difficult. Second, allow me to also apologize for not having any funny memes in this post; I'm still recovering from the cold and I don't feel particularly equipped for humor.  Also, this topic is serious enough that I fear humor would detract from it.  Now, with that out of the way, let's move right along.

On December 21st, Heathens United Against Racism will be holding an international event. Heathens, Asatruar, and Norse Polytheists across the world will be raising scorn poles, or Nidstang, against the undesired racialization and radicalization of our religious paths by extremists. Months ago, the founder of that group, (Ryan Smith) asked if some of the membership would be willing to write anything to spread the message. I was eager to assist, but found myself hard pressed to write something I was satisfied with. After some work and soul searching*, I came up with the following thoughts.

Let's cut right to the chase; the racialist minority in Asatru and Heathenry is a group of disturbed people. There is no other way that I can phrase it, and I do not consider such language inflammatory or inaccurate. There is nothing within the history and anthropology of the cultures that first honored the Norse gods which supports a ethnic supremacy mindset. Tellingly, it also possesses no representation within the myths and tales that represent our religious heritage. With these things in mind, it becomes clear what the catalyst for such a philosophy truly is; fearful and/or angry people projecting their own hatred and biases onto a religion in order to give them the pretension of legitimacy. It a tactic that is ages old, and one which causes no lack of frustration and anger.

It is easy to hate such groups. Actually doing it, however, is a trap. In fact, it's the same trap they've fallen into themselves. I'm not going to go forth and do a stupid thing, simply because my reasons have better intentions. Their hate speech is a language of madness. Within that madness, however, is the best solution they think they have to a problem they cannot properly define. They are dangerous people to be sure, but they are also tragic.

I'd say that the actions of many who think like them come from a need to be the victim, and to not be the persecutor. A need to say, “No, really...everything I do isn't related to some irrational fear that equality will lead to me being treated as some of my ancestors may have once treated others! It's a war, and if I don't fight it the white race will be unable to prosper because of....reasons”.  A need to find a way to believe that such tripe is actually a valid concern. To say otherwise, in their mind, is to promote white guilt.

Allow me to address that.  You see, I'm not a land owner in the pre-civil war South. Further, I'm not a member of the Nationalsozialismus in Holocaust Germany. I didn't hold power in Apartheid era South Africa, nor did I lead Aboriginal Americans to their deaths along the trail of tears. I don't bear shame or guilt for these actions, because I didn't do them. When someone goes to great lengths to legitimize such terrible deeds, they do not appear as men and women who are attempting to triumphantly repeal the march of “Liberal Revisionism” (or whatever the kids are calling it these day); they look like someone who is terrified of being connected to the bad guys. It looks like fear and shame, turned into hate.

So, to such people, I offer a small prayer:


To those who would stand with the Aesir and Vanir,
Yet have lost themselves between Midgard and Ginnungap
Between Niflheim and Muspelheim.
Between Courage and Cowardice
I ask the Gods we mutually stand with,
To stand by you and guard your way home.

When you first stand before the Bifrost,
May Heimdall help you cross and guard you from distractions.

When you stand within the Asgard,
May Thor show you true strength and courage.

When you think upon your past,
May Loki leave your mind unclouded by pretty lies

When you find your heart and head,
May Eir help them heal and grow strong

When you cross into the Gladsheim,
May Frigg smile at your passing and embrace you as her own.
And May Odin show you the true wisdom of the nine realms.

And when you pass some day,
As both cattle and kinsmen are wont to do,
May Hel give you the peace of your greatest moments,
And let time and eternity wash away the worst.

I hail the Gods you worship.
I hail your ancestors.
May it be that someday I can hail you as well.

...
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Yule King Freyr

A Prayer to Ingvi

I.
Because I could not kiss your lips
I kissed my lover instead;
Because he never danced with me
I dance with you instead,
here on the far side of midnight
where sun hides
and moon cannot be jealous.

...
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Asatru and the Art of Nuclear Physics

Let's talk about zeal.

Though I am a member of several online forums, I rarely post to them- more frequently I use them to shamelessly raid the knowledge others have worked so hard to amass and then posted for the world to see.  I am not an archeologist, but I love reading the recent reviews of newfound Viking era settlements.  I am no theologian (despite short forays into the field), but the people with advanced degrees in religious study who can break down the Eddas and Sagas from both a historal and spiritual way are of endless fascination to me, as are their conclusions.  Like an Average Joe reading Psychology Today or Popular Mechanics, it is a great chance to get a wee bit smarter and maybe even find something applicable to my daily life.

For every windshield there is a bug.  In this case, the horsefly getting smeared across the glass by my unforgiving wiper is the overzealous "seeker of the path".

...
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Heathenry in Afghanistan

I arrived in Afghanistan in the last week of August, just as many other members of the American armed forces do- a long flight, a refueling stop, a processing station in the former Soviet bloc, and then to one of the main airbases from which we are all parsed out to our respective assignments.  I ended up in the city of Kabul, with the mountains a short trip from the city and a lot of unpleasant flatlands in every direction.

Before I left for Afghanistan, I knew that I would want to connect with the pagan/heathen minority when I arrived- as I have said, I am not much for ceremony and ritual, but it is good to have someone to talk to when you're staring down the barrel of several months in a foreign land.  I began by reaching out to a great organization called Open Halls Project, a Facebook group owned and operated by Josh and Cat Heath with the goal of supporting heathens in the military.  The result was connection with one heathen on the exact camp I was going to- a relatively unlikely event given the size of our faith and the number of possible camps across Afghanistan.

By pure serendipity, I ran across another heathen assigned to the same location, who introduced me to a third.  For the first few weeks, even with our intense work schedules and commitments to the lives we suspended back home, we managed to cross paths twice and converse. 

...
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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks for sharing your experiences again! Looking forward to updates on your adventures. May you and your company come home safel

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Freyr icon by Shirl Sazynski
 

A Heathen Prayer

The Lord is not my shepherd.
He teaches not submission but resilience.
In the face of the impossible, there are no guarantees. Not even for Him.
But victory was never born without valor. Even love has a sacred price:
nothing worth striving for is easily won.
Trickster, sage, lover, father, brother, husband, nephew, son;
warrior and peace-maker, hunter and grower, slayer and slain:
Wise-one, show me the way
Not to follow but to be inspired
To both grow in worthiness and to recognize the abundant worth in others.
I am not a sheep, nor was I bred for docility:
I am a falcon, a hart, a wolf.

 

Freyr is literally one of the words for 'Lord' in old Norse. In other words, it's not just a well-known God's name but his title. One of Odin's many heiti (by-names and titles) is Herran-- also another word for 'Lord' with a warrior connotation. While both Gods are associated with kingship in Scandinavia, Freyr is mythically attributed inYnglinga Saga as the ancestor of the royal house of Sweden (much as Egyptian pharoahs claimed descent from or symbolic right to rule as inherited from Osiris-- which also means 'Sire').

...
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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Cool picture, Shirl. It took me over half a century to realize that the 23rd Psalm only tells half the truth - the Good Shepherd m
  • Cynthia Savage
    Cynthia Savage says #
    Or to be fleeced.....maybe the televangelists have a point!

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
NOT WAGNER

When I started to wander out into the brick-and-mortar Pagan community, I noticed that there were a lot of people who believed in Norse mythology and Pantheon. Some Asatru, some called themselves Heathen, some Northern Tradition, etc.    And when I'd talk about how I wanted to find out more about how Pagans relate to music, especially if any relate to Classical music, I found that some Norsefolk liked metal and Beethoven, and others liked Richard Wagner.  Richard Wagner, for those who don't know, is hailed as having "revolutionized" music during the middle of the 19th century, and he did this via writing operas about Scandinavian 'sagas' and the 'Nibelungenlied.' I wouldn't be surprised if Wagner was the origination for a connection between Norse/Scandinavian spirituality and anti-Semitism.

I am against the man and his works.  Alright, maybe not.  Maybe I am confused and heartbroken that someone who could write such beautiful and moving music, on such a thoroughly Pagan basis, was a megalomaniac, an abuser, and a bloodthirsty anti-Semite.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I happened to come across the following article today, and thought of your post: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130807-how-i-
  • Robert Brown
    Robert Brown says #
    This is an individual question, and an important one. Have you seensome of Hitler's art? He was an awful, terrible guy. Some of

b2ap3_thumbnail_569px-Lokasenna_by_Lorenz_Frlich.jpg

...
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  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    Joseph seems to use a typical bully attack, attack person first off. Shirl got my respect the moment she admitted doing it herse
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you, sir.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I think part of the reason for internet bullying in anonymity. Bullying and trolling both often come from fake names. Also there i

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Me and That Thor (Part 1)

Ten days ago, I finished a long and occasionally arduous journey deep into the heart of nerdom: I finally read every issue of Marvel's THOR and its sister comic, JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, published since the character came back in 2007.* 

Between here and there, there have been about 60 issues of the main Thor book, plus 37 issues of Journey into Mystery, plus assorted one-shorts and miniseries. (I'll confess, I haven't read every single one of the one-shots, mainly because Marvel released a ton of them around the time the movie came out and I'm sorting out what's what. If I stumble onto any gems, I'll let you know.) That's a lot of comics - Gods bless the iPad, without which I doubt I ever would have taken up the project.

If you like superhero comics... Well, it's actually hard to tell, exactly, how well you will enjoy this particular era of the character. The 2007 Thor relaunch emphasized the fantasy side of the series as opposed to the super-heroing; most of the time, when the series goes towards superheroics, it falls a little flat. The best parts, for me, evoke a wonderful feeling of magical realism, the mixing of the mundane and the fantastic, the holy and the comedic.

...
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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Mr Scott, I wholeheartedly agree that Marvel doesn't give a hoot about the worshipers of the Norse gods, and therein lies proof of
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Speaking of Xena: Warrior Princess, I must say that both it and its companion show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, ha

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

While my spiritual path is Hellenic and I primarily honor Greek Deities, I nonetheless am fascinated by the many, many different traditions out there that fall within the large Pagan tent (or set up camp right next to it). As a result, I have a pretty sizable personal library of books on other-than-Hellenic traditions. 

Northern Traditions, and especially the Goddesses honored by those traditions, are a particular favorite subject.* I am always on the lookout for new books on Frigga or Freyja or Epona or Skadhi or Medeine.**

HR Ellis Davidson is a well-respected scholar of Northern mythology and religion, and her Roles of the Northern Goddess is at the top of my list. Though a bit dry in places -- and obviously not written with polytheists or Pagans in mind -- it is still an informative and wide-ranging study. This is one of the few texts I have been able to find in English which does include information on Eastern European Goddesses.

...
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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Kalyca: I love hearing from librarians! There are surprisingly few really good books out there about the Norse Goddesses. Please
  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz says #
    Thank you for this book list! I look forward to dipping my toes into some of these, especially the ones about Freyja. Just publish

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