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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in anti-racism resources

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Heathen Visibility and Anti-Racism

One man who is a terrorist does not make a whole religion terrorists. I would have thought our society had learned that lesson by now.

Rolling Stone Magazine called the entire set of Heathen religions "code for white supremacy-aligned pagans" and we must resist this as strongly as we resist the fascists themselves, for two reasons:

Firstly, because to cede the words and symbols of our religion to white supremacists and neo-Nazis makes them stronger no matter who is trying to appropriate our words and symbols on their behalf. Battling for our words and symbols against white power gangs and neonazis has been the main reason for the Heathen Visibility Project from the beginning. See the history of the Project recently published under Heathen Visibility Project Year in Review 2020, on the link below:

Summary of Heathen Visibility Project so far: http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/gnosis-diary/heathen-visibility-project-year-in-review-2020.html

Secondly, because directing the hate and fear of the large and powerful society in which we live against our tiny religion hurts us in many ways. Already I've seen posts on social media from heathens, and other pagans who normally wear the same symbols as heathens, saying they are afraid to wear their symbols in public. We must make a world where it is safe for all people to wear their religious symbols and cultural attire.

What do I mean by heathen? Heathen is a broad term for a group of related religions, just like Christian. Individual sects of heathenry include Asatru, Forn Sed, Theod, Urglaawe, Forn Sidr, etc., just like individual sects of Christianity include Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox, etc. And just like Christian sects that have individual churches that might have a name like Unity Center or 1st Church of God, heathen sects have individual kindreds and hearths that might have a name like Mountain Kindred or Asatru Temple. Heathen is a subset of Pagan; the word Pagan doesn't refer to a specific pantheon of gods, but Heathen does. All the heathen religions share a core group of gods, stories, and cultural norms, even the ones in which the set of gods and myths only has a narrow overlap. Those gods generally include the gods for whom the days of the week are named, by various linguistic variations, for example, Thursday named for Thunor who is also Thor who is also Dunner. We use the term Heathen because it was used historically to refer to the traditional religion of the peoples of northern Europe; like Pagan, it was created by Christians, but we reclaimed it. Heathendom predates the modern social construct of race, but to the extent that historical heathens had any such concept within the ideas of tribe, nation, and species, the gods were very clearly descended of multiple tribes and thus are today a model of a multiracial society, as detailed in my essay Asgard as Multiracial Society, available on the link below

Asgard as a Multiracial Society: https://eternalhauntedsummer.com/issues/summer-solstice-2014/asgard-as-a-multi-racial-society/

Heathen leaders and heathen anti-racism groups have already roundly condemned the one man who was wearing our symbols when he participated in the Capitol Hill insurrection. That man is the man who calls himself Q-Shaman, who may not even be heathen. Here are some of the most prominent statements condemning him, starting with mine, which also explains what his tattoos mean:

My blog post Dishonor Upon the Man in the Horned Hat: http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/gnosis-diary/dishonor-upon-the-man-in-the-horned-hat.html

Official statement of The Troth: https://www.thetroth.org/news/20210106-192450
Official statement of Heathens Against Hate: https://www.heathensagainst.org/post/capitol-hill-statement
Official statement of Huginn's Heathen Hof: http://www.heathenhof.com/hhh-statement-attempted-coup-d-c/

After all those public statements were already made and were freely available on the net, Rolling Stone went forward with their article calling Heathen religions "white supremacy-aligned." This also occurred while my article Heathen Vs. Hate in the latest issue of Witches and Pagans Magazine was still on newsstands across the country, easily available to read if the reporter had bothered.

Responses to the Rolling Stone article came swiftly. I first heard about it on Twitter. Most of the responses have been by individuals on social media, which I'm not going to link here, but here is a public statement in response by an organization:

The Heathen Underground: https://www.facebook.com/heathenunderground/posts/3933159010030485

Heathen groups of various kinds have been fighting white supremacists and neonazis for a long time. Perhaps the broadest coalition of various heathen organizations, individuals, businesses, and local groups battling white supremacy are the signatories to Declaration 127. Declaration 127 references a verse in the Havamal, part of our sacred literature, which goes "Where you see evil, speak out against it." You can read the full Declaration and list of signatories on the link below. I'm one of the signatories as American Celebration Kindred, the small local religious community of which I am the priestess.

Declaration 127: http://declaration127.com/  

Another prominent heathen anti-racism group is Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR) which you can find on this link, although they do not appear to have made an official statement on this topic: https://www.facebook.com/HeathensUnited/

There is an ongoing annual international conference on heathen anti-racism called Frith Forge. Heathens interested in participating can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/frithforge/

The Heathen Visibility Project, now more than ever, must continue our mission. Part of that mission is to out-compete instances of our symbols being used as hate symbols that show up on search engines, in order to take our symbols back and preserve them for religious use. Every good, non-fascist heathen wearing our symbols in public spaces, especially on the net where the whole world can see, makes it safer for other heathens to wear and use them too. We must be loud and visible to counter the damage done by the heavy coverage by social media and professional media of Q-Shaman and his heathen symbol tattoos. We must continue to deny racists the cover of our religion by kicking them out of our spaces and talking over them until their message is drowned out by ours.

The other part of the Project's mission is to provide useful images of heathens doing heathenry that media could use to talk about heathens in stories unrelated racism or riot. We must continue to create non-racist and nonfiction heathen images that could be used by professional media and others to illustrate articles about heathenry, so that when we have a chance at positive coverage there is something there for reporters to see and use other than the racists or fictional characters.

Heathens who want to participate in the Project, and media who are looking for non-racist, nonfiction heathen images: the Project's hashtag is #heathenvisibility.

Media looking for news photos and stock images of non-racist nonfiction heathen images: Heathen Visibility Project folders on:
Shutterstock: https://www.shutterstock.com/search/heathenvisibility
Deviantart: https://www.deviantart.com/erinlale/gallery/64184335/heathenvisibility

My fellow heathens: Keep on doing the work. We can do this.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Update: Rolling Stone corrected their article! Thanks to everyone who contacted them. You made a difference!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Heathen Symbol or Hate Symbol?

Resources for the disambiguation of Heathen symbols vs. hate symbols. TW: discussion of racism

This is a resources and links page for how to tell the difference between a religious symbol being used by heathens and a hate symbol being used by neonazis or white supremacists. There are several different symbol guides linked from this page. Using the various symbol guides requires more than looking up a suspect symbol; it also requires taking context into account. For example, once while screening applications I ran across the version of Othala with wolves attached to the lower legs of the symbol. The first time I saw this symbol, I wondered: is it the footed Othala used by Nazis or is it just the regular Othala but with wolves? I used a reverse image search (the Chrome extension) to find the origin of the symbol, and found the page of the artist who designed it. The page had many pagan and heathen artworks, none of which looked like neonazi or white supremacist symbols. The artist's statement on his website was an unobjectionable, pretty standard pagan statement. I concluded the Othala-with-wolves symbol's resemblance to the footed Othala was just a coincidence. The context provided by the artist's other artworks and artist statement helped me interpret that image.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Resources for anti-racism work

This is the final in my series on racism in Paganism. It is devoted to resources we can use to educate and challenge ourselves with the long-term results of having a multiracial Pagan movement where all feel welcome.

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