Of Forests and Trees, Of Computers and Altars

Forest

By the by, “Forest for the Trees” has the potential to be the name of the most Hipstery band that has every been conceived.

Recently, I’ve realized a lot of my own personal theological work had gone by the wayside. I had spent, and continue to spend, a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to talk about my religion. Sometimes I get so busy talking about my faith, that I forget how to actually practice it. I suspect I’m not alone in this, as either a writer or someone interested in the devotional aspects of their faith, as missing the forest for the trees is about as central to the human experience as breathing.

This is not some disclaimer that precedes how I’m going to write less, so that I can focus on my praxis. Even with a squirming, squeaking baby daughter and a jumping, tumbling six year old. Even while me and my wife try and figure out where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. Even in the process of worrying about bills, politics, wages, health care, jobs, food and shelter. Through all that, there is time to write and do devotional work. Life waits for neither of these things, just as it refuses to wait for anything.

Occasionally, I like talking about my experience as a writer. This is one of those times. While there are others out there who do better work and command higher salaries for their capacity to put words down on the page, such experience and skill does not render them immune from the scourges of burnout. It becomes painfully easy to forget yourself, and focus on something so much that you miss the reason that you started giving a damn in the first place. I did this very recently; in my concern for where my/our faith is going, I forget about my own place within that greater whole. Not as someone trying to be clergy, or “big name Pagan*”, or an author, but as someone who simply does devotional work towards the Gods he venerates.

Passion is a good thing. If you write about anything you are passionate about, this is also a good thing. Passion towards your faith and beliefs are also good things. There is, in my mind, legitimacy to the idea of having too much of a good thing. You can immerse yourself so much within the psychology and philosophy of consideration, that you loose your frame of reference. You push yourself deeper and deeper into you own ponderings, and the effort leaves you surprisingly drained.

It’s one of the worst sorts of drained, too. It’s the kind of weariness that leaves you hard pressed to see anything beyond some very narrow and limited perspectives. It leads you to a place where you wind up resenting your writing for being so tangled, and I found myself being irritated at action because you need to waste time on something that isn’t writing.

I was surprised at what had taken my attention when I took a second to stop and look around. I had stopped writing devotionals.  This was  not because they weren’t worth doing, but because I felt like they didn’t challenge me enough. If I didn’t challenge myself, I feared that the quality of my work would suffer. I ended up talking less about the Gods and Goddess themselves, because the deities I most often talk about are controversial. I have no care for the controversy, but I also don’t want to abuse it for attention and gain. This is a problem I’ve fought with before, and it still finds inventive new ways to rear it’s ugly head.

The long and short of this is that, I caught myself before things got particularly damaging. Every now and again, in addition to my writing based on my religion, I also write about my experiences in trying to become a writer**. About my observations, pitfalls, and my advice to anyone else who is trying to do something similar to me. I am in the position where I can not only do that, but also talk about my faith as I do so. To anyone trying to do something unusual with their writing, anyone working to deepen their connection to their perception of the divine, and especially anyone trying to do both at the same time? I have some advice.

Never forget to do. Never forget action. Whether you’re writing about religion, travel guides, high fantasy, or economist porn***, make sure you do just as much as you write. Whether you’re going through a clergy program, learning how to meditate, or just trying to figure your own method of prayer. Tear yourself away once in a while and grab some experiences. For yourself, for the sake of your own sanity, and so you can keep seeing the differences and similarities between forests and trees. Write something self-indulgent. If you are already writing self-indulgent work, write something else self-indulgent when the first project starts going long. Pray while standing on your head. Give an offering, from the depth of your heart, in the most unusual method you can think of.

A writer reads with their eyes, and send their message with their hands. Where the work is created is in the mind. A spirtiualist’s core in the heart of their soul. Too much stagnation, and they both wither. When you realize you’re tired when you sit at your desk or pray your altar? Do something. Anything.

Time won’t wait for you to get everything right.


I have a Patreon account, which you should look at.  Most of my work is geared towards my religion


* If I become a big name Pagan, I hope that the name is Detective Gothi Victormathewitzachan Von DeLermasteinenbergermann, esquire.

**By which I mean, my efforts to become a writer who makes the majority of his earning via writing.  Just like being an artist, you become a writer when you say to yourself that being a writer is something you WILL become.

***”Oh, I don’t know what to with all of these stocks!” “With assets like you have, they really ought to be introduced to my portfolio” *bow-chick-a-wow-wow!*

Applications

Poingant or Jerk

Welcome to the dilemma I have every time I talk about anything I consider important.

Over the last month or so, I’ve considered applying to join the AFA. I’ve been quite critical of them in the past, so it’s not like I can anticipate automatic acceptance. That’s fair, but I’ve begun to believe there are somethings I need to see for myself, and this is potentially my only method of resolving such a thing.

Hold any rotten tomatoes that you may be tempted to throw, and allow me to explain. I have reasons for my curiosity, and I think it’s important to talk about them for a moment.

The first is that there is one counter-criticism that has been directed at me that I have not answered to my own satisfaction; that my issues aren’t based exclusively on first hand accounts of AFA events and circumstances. Oh, I’ve seen a few things for my own eyes, and many of these things I didn’t like. At the same time, it would be a mistake to call a majority off my experiences anything other than anecdotal. While I’m not about to pretend that I don’t get to have an opinion on the things I have heard and seen just because I haven’t been apart of the organization, it would also be an error to ignore that the vast majority of criticism I have heard is second hand recounts at best.

Yes, Metagenetics and Wotan versus Tezcatlipoca are still baffling documents that give me greater pause for concern than any rumor I’ve heard associated with Cauldron Farms. Yes, anytime they’re brought up it seems that most members of the AFA would rather pretend that both of these documents were never written, an action that raises some very poignant questions. These documents are needlessly focused on racialist talking points, making their existence look like a dark stain made from racialist apologetics.

I suspect that this the picture is a depiction of what being a hatemonger must feel like.

By the same token, these talking points seem to be largely absent from present day AFA rhetoric. While assertions that there is a horrific racist agenda under the surface are plenty, there are extremely few smoking guns. Yes, it could all be word games and semantics. The thing is that dedicated, professional bigots don’t really seem able to do that for years at a time. A real bigot is someone who has a huge chunk of the brain

dedicated to an engine of hate, scorn, and malice. Those things can be subtle depending on circumstances, but they’re not good at maintaining that subtlety 24/7. Look at the headlines in North Dekota for an example of what I’m talking about; professional bigots who seek to create organizations for their hate to live within tend to be mentally unstable.

Yes, I’ve read Circle Ansuz. I think what they wrote about McNallen was worth reading, no matter what your personal beliefs are.  By the same token, it would be unethical to call that writing evidence. It’s largely educated guesses, tangential connections, and anecdotes that suggest things but can’t quite prove them. Horrifying and concerning material to be sure, but nothing other than theories at this point*. I’ve also heard from at least one person that some of the problems that Circle Ansuz presented weren’t portrayed honestly.  If they got that wrong, it begs that we askquestions about what else they got wrong.

Than there is another thing.

I have been good friends with Rebecca Radcliff for a long time. When I started on my investigations of Heathenry, it was her husband (whose a blogger in his own right) and her that I approached. She also happens to be the director of the AFA’s clergy program, a position she’s held for over a year a now. When I say that I am conflicted on the universal, across the board condemnation that the AFA receives, these two are amongst the biggest reasons why. I know their philosophies and opinions very well, as we have talked and discussed them dozens of times over the years. They do not utilize the pro-racialist, bigoted mindset that many suggest are mandatory conceits within the house that McNallen built. It casts shadows, deep shadows, on the assertion that the AFA is a racist organization when I personally know someone in their leadership who is anything but.

I am a vocal Loki worshiper, I have a step-daughter whose genetic background isn’t bleach white, I’m politically leaning towards liberal, and I find nothing wrong with synchretic religious praxis and concepts. Conventional wisdom states that any member of the AFA worth their salt should castigate me, renounce our friendship, and cast me into whatever bog or mire is at hand. Well they haven’t done that; instead they held my wife a baby shower.

They know my criticisms of the AFA, it’s stances, and it’s public face. I know that can’t always be easy on them, even those my commentary is intended as constructive rather than abrasive. Still, my family has been invited over to their home again and again. Frith has been created, grith has been maintained, and we generally have a good time.

I’ve met people who are not all funshine and rainbow unicorns mind you; there are people out there who fit the boorish stereotype that many associate with the AFA. These people are problems that cause community rifts, but they are not born from a singularity. A conversation that I recently had with Rebecca was especially eye opening on this subject.

We talked about her family’s experiences at AFA’s Winternights this year and, at one point, the conversation moved to the tensions between various factions within Heathenry. At one point, she said the following:

“The majority of those I have gotten close to in the Folkish community over the years, they have not been on a witch hunt for anyone not of the same mind as them…..and just as importantly, I don’t get criticized for continuing to spend time with the friends I’ve had for years in the Universalist community by them, either.”

I got to tell you that I’m not always happy with the way that some people choose to addresses things that are said by pro-folkish/pro-AFA people. No small number of the responses have been the verbal equivalent of shooting first and asking questions later, and have used ad hominems, straw men, and just being a downright asshole to make their point. Yes, I know that some of those people are horrifying jerks. No, I don’t think that matters. I see no reason to drop down to make ourselves lesser, simply to prove some point to someone who isn’t worth our time any way.

Which brings us to the last reason I’m considering applying for membership to the AFA; simply put, I want to look for reasons for us to get along. This doesn’t mean I’m looking to “drink the kool-aid”, or whatever trite expression is used to make condescending implications about someone’s desires or opinions; it means that I’m looking to see if there are actually reasons that people don’t get along. To see if this is merely the fault aside of a vocal minority possessed of huge egos, loud voices, and deaf ears. Because if that’s the reason we don’t get along, than those people are easier to ignore than to communicate with.

If that’s overly optimistic of me, so be it; I’m tired of seeing pointless arguments and stupid fights drag out. If I can do something, anything, to reduce the tension? Than I’ll do that. No questions asked. If that means asking to be allowed to join a potential crucible to see things for myself? Than that’s what it means.


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This* Don’t misunderstand me; Circle Ansuz still did work that I felt was valid and needed to be said. Yes, pointing out that McNallen worked in apartheid era South Africa and then, later, produced Metagenetics is a special kind of horrifying. It remains anecdotal however, because we don’t know what his experiences within that regieme were, nor if he had ulterior motivation for being there. Honestly, I can barely find evidence that he had been there at all; I found references to a single article that he supposedly wrote but I couldn’t find the article itself, so I could only take Circle Ansuz’s word for it. I think our condemnations and accusations, when we choose to give them, need to come from a place of absolute certainty. To do otherwise completely ruins our credibility, and runs the risk of turning our ideals into witch hunts.

**I heard that the “Stella Natura” situation, in particular, was grossly misrepresented. This came from someone who is a member of a kindred with a strong reputation for a pro-syncretic approach to Asatru.  She also follows a number of (non-facist) bands that are going to the venue. I respect her immensely, and I regard her opinion as free from bias on this matter.

ATHEISTS used STUPID PROTEST! It was not very effective…

So, I recently read about some Atheistic jackasses using a display on university grounds to insult the entirety of well…religion. Every religion. At the same time. They did a rather crap job of it mind you, but at least you can’t fault them for aiming low.

For those not in the know, The University of Wisconson’s Atheist and Humanist Association (or AHA) decided to make a faux-graveyard for “dead” Gods (i.e. everything that isn’t Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or Hindu in origin), and than make the implications that the “living” Gods of today share the same fate. The organization, I suspect, was a bit surprised when the entirety of Paganism had something to say about this. Loudly and frequently. After a few days of thinking on their display myself, I realized that, while I find them pretty crass and rude, they’re also laughable. Honestly, I can’t be bothered to be offended by this to any great degree.

90722_slideNot, let me make this totally clear, out of apathy; the people responsible for this aren’t worthy of any passion or energy. This was not a calculated attack by insidious and clever villains; this was a couple of collegiate level douche-bags who think they know everything and, in almost the same breath, proved that they barely have the capacity to make a bloody sign. I bet they also read Ayn Rand and think she’s bloody brilliant*.  These are intellectuals who couldn’t even both to fact check the things they’ve said. What can I say about them that their own lack of forethought doesn’t say better?

There were historical inaccuracies that could have been fact checked by doing anything more than one search on Wikipedia while drunk on Jagerbombs, they said modern Paganism “shouldn’t have been offended” for some reason**, and the graveyard is getting co-opted into a mass-polytheistic shrine. We’re talking full commitment to mediocrity here.  Some people are saying blasphemy, and while that’s definitely an accurate word for what’s going on here, these people are too laughable for me to direct my anger at. Ritual work and devotional work in opposition of their pitiful demonstration will be done, but that’s one of the reasons I’m able to be cavalier; I have faith that our sincere devotion trumps their purposeful ignorance and willful rudeness.

I’m a little irked that there are people who would marginalize the Pagan spectrum of belief in an effort to demean the faiths of others, mind you. Acting like any given religion doesn’t exist in order to prove a point was, I thought, the technique of radical zealots. I mean, isn’t that the sort of gross generalization that Atheists and Humanists are supposed to be avoiding? Doesn’t that make them just as bad as the religions who they take the most issue with? Even so, they don’t phase me much. I am bothered about something, however, and it’s only tangentially relates to the actions of these crass and boorish fools.

You see, I find it wonderfully fitting that some people chose to use this impromptu graveyard as a massive shrine. This is a delightful example of a wonderful tradition; taking bullshit and turning into diamonds. Give our Gods tombstones and tell us they’re dead? Jokes on you, buddy! It’s a shrine now! You demonstration did nothing but give us open air church the size of a football field! We are getting theism all of your idiotic, ill-conceived, ill-researched protest! Keep it up? We win! Take it down? We win! That sort of win-win situation will put a smile on my face every time.

Aha

No!  Not THAT AHA!  Bad Google!  Bad Google!

Amusing observations aside though, why did the AHA build us a mass polytheistic shrine? More to the point, why didn’t we?

This wasn’t our goal, our creation, or our idea. It was nothing more than an opportunity to co-opt the idiocy of some frat boys that were using google image search and a printer. I find that incredibly concerning. The blasphemy issued by people who failed to do anything of merit did more to create a worship space than many of us have. The irony of taking their dross and making something beautiful out of it makes me smile, but it begs a question; why weren’t we just making something beautiful for ourselves and for our respective faiths?

What bothers me is that they created more for us than we have. Chew on that for a while. See how it tastes. I certainly have…and I don’t like the flavor of it at all.


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*Spoilers: She is an idiotic hack, with a joke of a philosophy. So no. Not brilliant.
**My suspicion is that Pagans shouldn’t make a fuss is because they were trying to make a statement to Muslims, Jews, and Christians…and were probably surprised that they instead insulted everyone who has believed in a Pagan religion. More proof that these kids are as goofy and pointless as clown shoes.
***The majority of Pagans I knew, at that time, were huge stoners. Nothing like paranoia and the munchies to make people come up with some extremely bizarre theories.

What Norse Polytheism Is, Part 1

My wife occasionally posits that I should spend more time talking about what Heathenry/Asatru/Norse Polytheism is and substantially less time focusing on what it isn’t.  I also recently had a friend ask some rather meaningful questions about what I, and those who have the same faith as me, believe.  These are the sort of statements and inquiries that demand attention, but addressing them is more complicated than one might initially realize.

heathens-cant-get-along-aliens.jpgMuch of modern Heathenry is arguing about what we are not, I think, because a discussion about what we are is really difficult to have.  We are a young religion, based on old traditions, without a text or a prophet that helps inform our beliefs and ideals.  There is no historical tradition of having a centralized religious authority, so we have nothing that is parallel to a Pope either.  We can barely agree on when our religious holidays should occur, or even how they should be observed in some cases.   There is a lot of disagreement on which records are valid and accurate as written, and which ones represent Christian metaphor/fan fiction.  It gets trickier still when you realize that religious and cultural boundaries were remarkably more blurred in previous eras.  The example that comes to mind is the Island of Mann, were the religious methods of both the Germanic and Celtic religions had more than a small degree of overlap.

Everything is second hand, and it makes it difficult to have any sort of meaningful discussion.   So much of Heathenry doesn’t agree with the rest of Heathenry on what it’s about, and it leads to some pretty passionate arguments.  Arguments, by nature, are rarely about what any two sides agree upon so the current tension actually makes a lot of sense.

Fixing that diplomatic disconnect requires finding the things we agree on, but how does one effectively quantify what is or is not Heathenry without just making the argument worse? I can feel the rolling of eyes from some more experienced and seasoned Heathens, but the question is really a lot more poignant than many might realize.

Many Heathens are quick to say why this person or that practice is or is not Heathen.  How?  Why?  If we cannot finitely say when someone IS Heathen, how can so many be so quick to say when some one IS NOT Heathen.  If you can’t tell me in less than fifty words why the beliefs of a soft-polytheistic Wiccan aren’t compatible with a Heathen world view, than you need to start thinking about your religion actually means.  To paraphrase Einstein, if you can’t explain your beliefs with ease and confidence than you probably don’t understand them.

You see, I’ll agree with you and say that such a person is most definitely not Heathen.  If you don’t know the why and cannot explain your opinions, we hit a bit of a tricky issue.  Such quick confidence with such little understanding begs questions of why we have such strong opinions.  It smack of elitism and disdain, which isn’t something I want in my Hof.  The terms of our faith should be motivated by shared consensus, not via our shared antipathy.

So let’s talk about what the absolute basics are. Let’s remove terms such as “Asatru” or “Heathen” from the discussion, as these may represents different versions from the whole; this isn’t a denomination nitpick.  If you say your religious beliefs mimic those of pre-Christian Germanic, Icelandic, Scandinavian, and/or Anglo-Saxon cultures, what are the absolute bare minimums that this indicates?

This is what I have so far.

1) Worshiping entities within the Norse Pantheon predominantly, with or without honoring other pantheons or incorporating synchretic elements: Obviously, this is the foremost concern; do you venerate the deities that are identified to exist with the myths and lore that are assigned to the Norse pantheon? As far as I can see, that’s the only quantifiable hard limit one may place in regards to the subject.  I’m not putting any definition on what is or is not an entity in the Norse pantheon; if you feel the Jotuns can be worshiped, your practice is just as legitimate as those who say they are the enemies of the Gods.  There is too much lore that suggests that there is legitimacy to such practices, since the Gods just as often married/socialized with these beings as they crossed blades with them.  Many are related to them quite directly, with Odin himself being the most notable.  Viewpoints that depict them as allies, enemies, or something in between can all find legitimizing sentiments within the lore.  As there is no clear cut answer, it’s all up to your own UPG.

keeping-flyting-e

“Here begins the Saga of Thurlgud Boldrson. His sword was sharp, his mind was keen, and his pimp hand was strong.”

When it comes to matters that include synchretic elements, or even acknowledgement and respect shown to the deities of other pantheons,  it’s the same thing.  Synchretism is a loaded word, and I’m probably going to disappoint both sides by saying it doesn’t matter what you think of it.  Personally I’m pro-synchretic, but I don’t think it’s very appropriate to use this as part of a checklist one way or the other.  At the end of the day, it has almost nothing to do with someone being Heathen or not.  Borrowing Wiccan ritual elements, using Tarot decks, or cultivating an understanding of Feng Shui doesn’t mean more to the Gods (in my opinion) than honest worship and devotion. Include or exclude the practices of other faiths at your own discretion.  Likewise, being willing to recognize other pantheons exist isn’t an issue unless any given individual opts to make it one.

2) Ancestor worship: Ancestor worship is echoed in the lore, the anthropology, in dig sites, and everything else that we can get our damn hands on.  It’s unquestionably part of all the cultures that venerated the Norse pantheons, though how that veneration takes place in modern times can vary widely from person to person and from kindred to kindred.  It’s so frequently and directly talked about, that I can’t find a way to reasonably exclude the practice.  I don’t feel that someone could claim a Norse Polytheistic religious view and leave ancestor worship on their cutting room floor.

3) A Hard Polytheistic Point of View:   Soft and hard polytheism doesn’t really get along, but this isn’t related to that constant theological tug of war.  Our ancestors viewed Thor as Thor, and if there was another warrior God from another land with a propensity to use physical strength and weather phenomenon?  Than that was a different entity altogether.  Now, there is definitely room to suggest that this deity or that had a connection to another;  I’ve heard interesting and curious theories that suggest Deity A and Deity B are the same entity due to similarities in the lore and geographical connections.  That is different than a soft polytheistic perspective as, at the end of the day, you are still recognizing the Gods and Goddesses as being unique beings.  I see nothing wrong with suggesting that our historical records missed a few details along the way. Suggesting that Thor, Zeus, and Raiden are essentially the same thing is where you start getting into murky territory.

This is not a dig against soft-polytheists;  I just don’t see how or why you would come to claim yourself as a Norse Polytheist of some type if you had that belief structure.  If you believe that everything extends from a single entity, the word “Norse” wouldn’t be any more or less connected to you than any other word.

4) We are our deeds (or WAOD for short): Other than the book on Heathen ethics that pretty much everyone agrees is the deep fried awesome, I really couldn’t find where this one came from.  It could just be that Eric Wodening coined the phrase and it stuck, and I’m honestly okay with that.  I’ve dug into the Nine Noble Virtues in the past (and, not surprisingly, they’re not making this list) for a number of reasons. Well, everything that the NNV does horrifically wrong, WAOD does spectacularly right.  It doesn’t spell anything out for you, it’s an incredibly versatile tool for self reflection, and you could probably write a few dozen pages on all of the possible ways to view it and utilize it without even trying.  It prompts consideration via thought, as opposed to falsely presenting ethical consideration as a checklist.

grt

Ad Homiems are bad…but even worse are the people who try to counter arguments with that phrase when they don’t actually understand what it means…

It is also one of the few things that people don’t argue about in modern Norse Polytheism, which means it probably deserves the Pagan equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.  While subjects like synchretism, Loki worship, and god spouses are analyzed and dissected with intense scrutiny, WAOD is almost universally accepted without comment.  Even those who take issue with it are either content to let it slide, or have more of a problem with those that abuse it than anything else.

5) A high value placed upon certain virtues and concepts such as (but not limited to) hospitality, loyalty to family and proven friends, the sanctity of verbal oaths, and frith: The above constitutes what is, essentially, the unquestionable ethical and philosophical considerations for a Norse Polytheistic outlook.   Hospitality was what separated good people from bad, and the anger of the Gods (particularly Odin) was anticipated by those who shirked their responsibilities as hosts.  Loyalty to family and friends, and the mutual exchange of gifts with the same, formed a cultural and spiritual responsibility that could not be broken without great cause or terrible consequence.  Oaths were to be upheld without excuse or exception, and the good of the community was considered equal in importance to the good of the individual. These are ideas and concepts that endure, were unquestionably part of the cultures who originally created the faith, and can be placed within our modern culture with little to no modification. As such, I can’t see any reason to exclude these from a list of the bare minimums.

The ethical systems of the pre-Christian, Norse worshiping cultures are interesting and definitely worthy of modern analysis.  I don’t think we can say we conclusively know them, however, as it’s difficult to say whether certain modern day assumptions on their worldview are correct.  In other cases, it’s easy to say that they believed in certain virtues but it’s difficult to say what the terms of such virtues were.  Honesty and truth are great examples of this; was a Norseman going to tell the truth to an enemy, if doing so would hurt his friends and family? I sincerely doubt it, unless there was an oath involved!  Others would say he would, and could cite evidence with the sagas to suggest it.  That is an ethical consideration up for individual analysis, whereas the role of things like frith and hospitality are far easier to understand.


I’m getting wordy here, so let’s draw this blog post to a close. Let’s also open up the dialogue for anyone and everyone who might be reading: let’s talk about what Heathenry is instead of what is isn’t for a second.  Any thoughts?

NaNoWriMo: You’re Doing it Wrong.

I debated joining in on NaNoWriMo (Which sounds like the character on a cartoon, by the by) but ended up opting to wait until next year; I have too much on my plate at the present moment that I want to focus on, and I’m not in the place to take on a project like this right now.

A good, but far too distant, friend of mine has some very intelligent things to say regarding people who might not understand the spirit of the event. I’ll be taking part it next year Dave…and you can bet that I’ll be focused more on the words than the word count!

Amateur Professional

I was talking with a good friend and colleague of mine this week, and he expressed a serious concern to me. His social media feeds were lighting up with people participating in National Novel Writing Month as they bragged about their progress so far. “These people are going at it all wrong,” he told me. “It’s not about how many words you got done today or who you ‘write like,’ it’s about writing a fucking novel.”

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On Faith and Community Politics

“I want to be a force for unity and mutual respect among pagans of all kinds, even if we can never agree on everything. I want to build frith, not just with other Norse/Germanic types, but with people from other traditions, people whose practice varies wildly from mine. I even want to do that in an ecumenical sense, which includes non-believers; two of my closest friends and several more beside are atheists, and I don’t feel that my devotion is compromised by associating with them, or that it’s my job to make them respect my gods. It’s harder, actually, for me to be open-minded about monism, despite having once been a monist myself. It requires trust and faith, which as I’ve said, are difficult for me to manage. But I believe it’s worth it.”



That statement, in particular, really resonated with me; it echoed my own sentiments in better words than I am likely to have found myself. The entire article is filled with gold and gems, however, and it comes with an extremely high recommendation.

Bravo!

Now Appearing at Witches and Pagans

wtfWhile you really need to take the information gleaned from astrology with a grain of salt, I find it useful for the tangential links that I can find within it.  I have never met a Scorpio that wasn’t capable of driving me absolutely insane and I’ve never met a Virgo who wasn’t a brilliant organizer and somewhat frazzles, for instance.  From this point forward, I will be adding “starting an on-line project during Mercury Retrograde without expecting all of the technology involved to flip you off and say unkind things about your parentage is hopelessly naive”. to the list of things I have so learned.

After a couple of weeks, however, all the technical snafus and delays that prevented me from making this announcement have passed.  Time to get down to business!

In addition to my blog here, I’ll be doing writing over at PaganSquare/Witches and Pagans.  The blog is titled “Two-Way Bifrost“, and it’s about helping a more diplomatic and frithful dialogue take place between the various interpretations of Norse Polytheism and the rest of the Pagan community.

I’ve noticed that there is an excessively large amount of bile between Asatru/Heathenism and (essentially) every other religion out there.  This is, in my opinion, to our determent.  I’m not here to say that it is possible to get along and agree with everyone, one hundred percent of the time,  Such expectations are very ignorant and optimistic to the point of danger.

That is, however, no excuse for the state of things at the present.  The rhetoric that has been put down between philosophically opposed camps gotten out of hand.  Threats, insults, and logical fallacies run rampant at the slightest hinting of certain topics.  After a few minutes of such conflagrations, I can no longer tell who I agree with from who I don’t; it turns into an ugly fight that no longer addresses what is said, but simply punishes the person who dared to say it.

It doesn’t need to be like this, and it really shouldn’t be.  Anyone who believes they can bully and fight their way to 100% acceptance is just as deluded and foolish as those who insist every single person can get along with every other one.  Neither extreme is rational or tennable, and it’s up to those of us who care to try and stake a claim to the middle ground.  We can learn to embrace though thing which make us similar.  We can push ourselves to act with the discipline and willpower needed to hold meaningful discourse with others, even when we disagree with them.  We can demand ourselves to act both frithfully and grithfully, even when we can get away without a meaningful consequence.

Not that one!

Not that one!  The fake news one!

Fighting weakens us.  Frith strengthens us.  To quote John Stewart, “…we can have animus and not be enemies”.  We can have a passionate discourse, and still act like human beings.  There may even be times where we can just share in mutual hospitality, regardless of the benign particulars.  Germania and Iceland had explorers and traders, and they were as respected at home and by other cultures as were their warriors.  Sometimes, there is no chance to use words and sometimes the only option is force…but our ancestors used such prowess to defend their homes and family from those who would harm them.

No matter what you may want to think on the matter, talking to someone who disagrees with you is not the same thing.  It’s not even close.  It’s high time more of us started acting like it.  This is not a statement, subtly shifting blame to any one side of any one argument either; I’ve seen plenty of people who I agree with act horribly when it comes to the discourse at hand.

At the very least, come for the memes, but stay for the diplomacy!

At the very least, come for the memes, but stay for the diplomacy!

I’ve heard more and more people talking about coming together as polytheists, and breaking down barriers.  I wholeheartedly agree with such concepts, and would like to work towards such efforts.  Not just amongst polytheists, but with anyone who has the courage and tenacity sit across the isle from me.

Have a seat, hail the Gods and Goddess of your choice, and lets get started!