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What Odin doesn't stand for

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Odin is a god of many, many things: wisdom, inspiration, exploration, shamanism, prophecy, kingship, rune magic, language and expression, expanding and altering consciousness, creativity, death, blood magic, self-sacrifice, and yes, even warfare, savagery and bloodshed at times.  But do you know one thing He does not stand for?  Racial hate crimes.  Seriously people, I defy you to find anything–anything at all–in the northern lore that supports this kind of atrocity.  As my friend Heather Freysdottir posted today, hate is not a Heathen value–not in any way, shape or form, and I for one am thoroughly sick and tired of having my God’s name used as an excuse for racist violence.

You know why I don’t primarily identify as Heathen?  Know why I am not able to call myself an “Odinist witch” or “Odinic witch” (the way some of my friends will refer to themselves as “Lokean witches”)?  This.  This is why.  Because, thanks to assholes like this (and others like him in the past 100 years or so of history), my God’s name is now identified with racially motivated violence.  And from these maniacs, the poisonous notion that Odinism=white supremacy and racial hatred seeps into the community, until you can’t hold an “Asatru meet-up” without having one or two white-supremacist-leaning individuals show up. (Yes, this truly was my experience when I was still trying to organize meet-ups back east.)

You want to bring up Viking slash and burn raids, blood-eagling, and mass-hangings at the Temple of Uppsala?  Yes, those things happened, and many of them even happened in Odin’s name. He is not always a nice god, is not easy on His followers, and blah blah blah; all that stuff is true, but in this context it’s also irrelevant.  Because guess what? We’re not back in the year 1,000, and we have to live peaceably in this century, in this society, now, among a much more diverse population than existed around the turn of the last millennium.  It’s a different world, and although our Gods have adapted beautifully, many of us don’t seem capable of doing the same.  This is why you won’t see a lot of glorification of Odin’s more violent side on my blog: most people absolutely lack the skill of discernment (another Odinic value) and are not able to tell what is appropriate from what is not.  I am not about to give such individuals further grist for their mill.

I do not know whether this vile individual actually considered himself an Odinist, or whether that’s simply more propaganda slapped onto this from those factions that are always eager to tar and feather us by any means that comes to hand, but what I do know is that Odin does not support or approve of this, and neither do any true Heathens I know of.  Heathenry is about worshipping the old gods of northern Europe, not pretending we’re berserkers in the year 900, or Nazis in the 1940s.  Figure out the difference, or shut the f*** up about my Gods.  And if you are a hate criminal, I have it on good authority that there’s a special place in Helheim waiting just for you.

Want to donate to help the families of the victims of the Kansas City shootings? If you’re able, please do!  And regardless, please go and sign this petition.  And help us spread the message that hate is not a Heathen value.

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Wife of Odin, sacred artist, cunning woman. I spin spells and visions amidst the wild wights of the Pacific Northwest, in a household shared with gods, spirits and animals both living and dead. My handcrafted business, Fiberwytch on Etsy, offers ritual cords spun from hand dyed fleece and charged and blessed using traditional methods, handspun yarn, and other arcane goodies to enrich your practice and pamper your soul. My books Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin's Journeys, and Water from the Well and Other Wyrd Tales of Odin and both available in my Etsy shop in PDF format, as well as on Amazon, and my work has also appeared in Idunna, Hex, and the now-defunct newWitch. I offer rune, Tarot and Lenormand readings by appointment.

Comments

  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose Friday, 18 April 2014

    Thank you for posting this! I am also hesitant to describe myself as an Odinist or Odinic witch for these reasons.

  • Soli
    Soli Friday, 18 April 2014

    I have never called myself Odinist due to its association with this kind of poison. And I hate that honoring some of the Gods I do might make people think I am like that. Glad you are saying this.

  • Mike C.
    Mike C. Saturday, 19 April 2014

    I have a lot of feelings about people honouring Germanic gods, but declining the label. How will perceptions change, unless people are willing to hold fast to the label and change how Heathens are seen? Are you abandoning people that still use the label? Is it dishonouring to the gods?

    I'm not saying these things are true, but they are questions floating through my mind. I've always believed if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

    Then again, if you aren't a Heathen you aren't a Heathen. It is what it is. I don't mean to sound like I'm judging your path. I have gone through similar struggles. I'm just sharing questions my thoughts. Dialogue, right?

  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch Saturday, 19 April 2014

    Mike, this was meant to be more a response to the shootings than about what I call myself, or don't. But since you asked about that, I spent years trying to fit into the Heathen community and feeling like a round peg trying to wedge itself into a square hole. Even though I love history and research and am no slouch when it comes to "the lore," my practice is experiential at heart, based on what I would call informed gnosis (and what many others would likely call upg). It is also very, very strongly Odin-centric. As a seidhrkona (both oracular and operational), the term "witch" fits me very well, which is why "Odinic witch" or "Odinist witch" would both be highly appealing, if they didn't come with baggage. I only venture to call myself what I know myself to be. I have had people tell me I am not Heathen, and the label itself doesn't mean enough to me that I'm willing to fight in order to claim it. Does this mean I'm abandoning anyone? How, exactly, would it? I am not a community-style Heathen, but anyone who wants to interact with me, either online or in person, is free to do so if they do so with respect, and this applies across the board, regardless of their religious affiliation. There are many people who honor the northern gods and/or are close to Them who do not choose to label themselves as Heathens, for a plethora of reasons. For me, I am not longer interested in trying to measure up to anyone else's definition of what my practice should be. Is that dishonoring to the gods? Well, if it is, Odin can tell me so anytime He likes--but thus far, He doesn't seem bothered by it.

  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch Saturday, 19 April 2014

    I should add that (as it says in the title of this blog) I usually do loosely self-identify as Heathen when I am among a more general mix of pagans, for the sake of clarity. It's when people ask more closely about how I define my path (as you just did) that you get the full dissertation. :)

  • wayne bates
    wayne bates Tuesday, 29 July 2014

    i was told i was not a heathen because i choose to worship the British celtic deities as well as the Anglosaxon/Norse and i truly don't care . It made sense to me , seeing as i have English , Welsh and Irish blood in me and live in England , to follow the deities that my ancestors would have followed . I call myself a heathen and ingore anyone who says i am not . It is easier for me i think in Britain as most of the white racist nutjobs seem to be both rather thick and mostly christian so I have not been tarred with the same brush .

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