"Oh wassail oh wassail from all over town
Our ale it is white and our cider is brown...
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.
The chart cast for the moment of the Winter Solstice — when the Sun enters Capricorn — is predictive for the three months ahead, and when the chart is cast for the capital of a country, it is predictive for that entire country. As we spiral in towards the next solsticial shift — from dark to light here in the northern hemisphere, and from light to dark in the southern — we are caught up in planetary energies that demand change, and change often demands the destruction of the old before the new is birthed. It is the light within us — our inner Sun — that gives us the vision, energy, courage and strength to build anew in a world in which hi-tech warfare, critical levels of environmental pollution, catastrophic climate change and resource depletion promise a future very different from our present. The challenges are clear, and the Solstice chart offers us insight into the personal and spiritual strategies we can use to meet these challenges with grace, compassion, and courage.
At the end of 2012, I looked over what I had read the previous year and came up with a list of Literary Discoveries. Considering how much I have read this year -- novels, novellas, anthologies, short stories, essays, longer works of philosophy and history and spirituality -- continuing the tradition seemed like a good idea. And, just like the previous list, not all of these titles were published in 2013 (though most were); I just discovered them this past year.
So, in no particular order, here is my 2013 edition of Literary Discoveries.
1) I read Reza Aslan's No god But God several years ago, and found it to be a well-written introduction to and overview of the theology and history of Islam; this is the book I recommend to anyone looking for a basic primer on the subject. So, when Aslan released Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth I decided it was worth checking out, even though I have very little interest in the development of Christianity -- actually, let me amend that. I find some of the early Christian sects which were later deemed heretical to be interesting, and I've studied the fall of Classical Paganism even though it makes me angry. So, I was curious as to Aslan's conclusions about the carpenter from Nazareth. I won't spoil it for you. Suffice to say, the book was well-researched and engaging, and I highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in Middle Eastern history, the Age of Augustus, or the history and evolution of Judaism....
(Image by shade-of-nekura)
My GF Lauren, looking for Pagan groups in Louisiana the other day (for her social media networking efforts for our PPD) came across an interesting entry on a very popular Pagan/Witch social media site. She pointed out the group's statement to me: "The purpose of this organization or coven is for the reporting of violations in accordance with The Rede, or reporting the use of magic to harm another in any religion path."...