A Call from Arms

viking-shield-8694639Things were already pretty red and raw when Frazier Glenn Cross decided to be a murderer over in Kansas City.  The Pan-Pagan circles and groups were still trying to adjust, correct themselves, and/or be in denial when it came to the allegations of child molestation held against a Wiccan of modest note.  While I hear a lot of grumbling and semantic pushing over whether the various versions of Heathenry fall within the category of Paganism, this time the distinction served no point; the actions of that child molester were going to reflect on all of us by proximity, because the media struggles to make any distinction between two different flavors of Non-Biblical, Non-Islamic, and Non-Asian religion.  Love it or hate it, the horrors of Klein were going to effect damn near everyone, us included.  I don’t think it’s a problem in Heathenry as much as it may be a problem elsewhere, but our hackles were up to begin with.

It’s time to let facts be put down; Cross did damage to us as a community that may take some time to properly come to terms with.  We weren’t on the receiving end of his bullets and no Heathens lost their life due to his acrid madness, but the seeds of paranoia, fear, anger, and sadness effected us in an undeniable way.  I’ve seen shorter tempers, bigger fights, and larger arguments than I have seen previously…and I’m hearing from others that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Over the last couple of weeks, I quite nearly walked away from almost everything.  Not my religion of course, nor from the community entirely.*  The weight of advocacy and the demand for awareness went from being a sacred responsibility, however, to a crushing burden within a matter of days.  It went from putting aside politics for charity work to shouting at each other across the isles.  I went to writing about geek/nerd culture and doing reviews on fast food items just so I could write and actually enjoy it.  So I could engage that need without feeling a wave of sadness and weary ennui.  It came to a head about a weak ago when groups of Heathens, both liberal and conservative, engaged in an impromptu foot eating contest.  I never wanted to be further from the entire community as I did in that moment.

Every time we shout at each other, it’s a missed opportunity.  I can hear eyes rollings and people bringing up the same excuse** of ‘proud warrior tradition’.  I am full aware of how our spiritual ancestors had a lot of experience at kicking ass and taking names.  Yet, while those ancestors weren’t peaceful and did not shy away from conflict, a reality check is required because…

No one, Heathen or otherwise, has strictly peaceful ancestors! 

Pictured: A whom to a whole mess of warrior cultures...none of whom remove the

Pictured: A place with a whole mess of proud, warrior cultures…none of which expunge their descendants of any social responsibilities for decent behavior.

No one on this damned Earth has only pacifists and hippies making up their line.  We are all related to a whole lot of someones that, at some point, killed people for land and shiny metal because that was one of the major economic forces of the world.  It wasn’t just acceptable, it was a business model.  A lot has changed in terms of the cultural background however, and the cultures of the world are collectively putting a higher and higher value on a human life than may have ever existed before.  If you want to talk to me about the horrors that take place in the third world, you’re going to prove my point because the fact that you know about them already shows how much this world has changed!  Every one of has, quite likely, a plethora of proud warrior traditions represented in our line.  We also have traditions of peace, diplomacy, and acting with maturity.  There is no spiritual partitive to look at everything like a fight, and we need to stop pretending that their is.

Our spiritual, Heathen ancestors had concepts for peace, diplomacy, and getting along with people they might not have liked.  They had the Allthing.  They had Freyfaxi.  They had Gods and Goddesses of hearth, stories, and guardianship in addition to war, warriors and victory.  We have far more suggestions and ideas about how to hold your tempter written in the Havamal than we do about when it is acceptable to let it go.  We have stories within the lore that show us even the most aggressive and brash God within the pantheon knew there were times when shouting and violence were not the answer.  They left runic messages on the stonework in foreign cities, proof that not ever encounter with them was one of bloodshed and death; some received trade and good manners.

They had Frith.  Much has been said about what Frith is and isn’t.  So, let’s just clear things up by saying it’s okay to have issues…but you need to be damn sure to check yourself before you open your mouth.  It’s okay to yell at someone who messed up, but not when they openly confess wrong doing.  It’s right to be angry at being cussed out when you’re admitting your faults, but not when the last two decades have been filled with a deafening silence when it comes to your own accountability.  It’s right to hold people to account for the mistakes they make, but bringing up the last few decades of bad blood will not get anything accomplished.  It’s right to be upset at false accusations, but you need to know when it’s time to look at the accusations and ask yourself if you are also part of the problem.   We’ve all been so busy pointing fingers, that I’ve become convinced that most people don’t know the real issues at hand anymore.

Sometimes, I’m not even sure if I do.  It’s gotten so that I’m not sure if I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the group of trees for the forest.  The last few weeks have been more filled with video games and tacos than essays and articles because I needed to let my brain take a break before my diplomacy did.

It takes two to tango…and so many of us have been involved in a time wasting dance that is breaking communities, friendships, and ourselves,  I have seen, on multiple occasions, that everyone involved has the best intention at heart; there are always those few who think of themselves and only themselves, but they are a minority whose deeds dig their own graves.  They are easy to call out and easier still to rid ourselves of.   It is clear that the majority of us want the same thing; to leave Heathenry in better shape than we found it.  To make it a better place for our children, and their children in turn.  To give those lost, spiritually, a chance to find a safe harbor for their heart and soul.  We disagree, in some cases by large margins, on how to get that accomplished but we need to pay just as much attention to our similarities as to our differences.

I am not making apologies for my stances, nor do I think that they’re wrong.  I think bigotry in Heathenry is a big problem, and I think it’s a big priority.  I do not agree with many of the excuses made for it, and I think they are comforting rhetoric and candy coated  malignment almost without exception. I am not, at any time, going to stop calling bullshit when people try to turn inclusion into a political issue rather than a very human one.  I regret nothing I’ve said in this regard, but I am not so blindsided by those causes that I’m willing to create two or three problems in order to solve one.

Honestly, I hope that we all have that way of thinking in my.   We should not be so psychologically waylaid that we see madness like Cross’s as the rule, rather than the exception that it is.  We should not be so quick to call foul on our opponents that we confuse murder and death threats as being the same sort of darkness as dissension and rhetoric.  We should no be so quick to toe party lines that we’re willing to jump on the opposition like a dying gazelle.  Before people call me self righteous here, let me be clear and tell you I’m very well aware of how closely I’ve skirted that line myself.  I am pretty damn sure I will cross it at some point, and I can only hope that both my proponents and detractors call me on it as quickly as I have tried to call them on their past mistakes.

May our descendants remember us for how we passed horns, rather than how we threw words.

May our descendants remember us for how we passed horns, rather than how we threw words.

If I don’t make sure I hold myself up to as a high a standard as I hold my opponents, than I’m not fighting for a better Heathenry, a better knowledge of the Gods, or to make deeds that my ancestor can be proud of.  At that point, I would only be fighting for my name in the most superficial context imaginable.  I don’t think my own experiences are so unique that this does not apply to just about everyone.

We owe ourselves and each other better than that.  No matter what you feel Heathenry is, we all owe it better than that.  Consider this a call from arms, and a call to tables.  To desks.  To conference rooms.  I am tired of yelling;  I’d like to talk now.  Scratch that.

I want us all to talk.


*I think at one point I made a small criticism, either on the internet or in the real world, about how I didn’t get why so many polytheist bloggers took a month of silence last year.  I think I’ve apologized for that before but if I haven’t, I’m doing so now.  If I already did, than I making sure it’s publicly known.  I get it now.  From the bottom of my heart, I completely understand and I realize just how little I understood at that point.

**Having pride in the exploits of those ancestors who could rightly be described as warriors is a good thing.  A great thing even; being a warrior is a sacrifice I know enough about only to know I don’t know nearly enough about.  That sort of dedication, honor, and drive should be acknowledged.  Viewing it as an excuse to act like an asshole all the time because Heathens “aren’t peaceful” is a bunch of nonsense, and it’s abusing your ancestors exploits in order to avoid working on yourself.  Don’t use your ancestors deeds as a license to be a jerk; we owe them better than that, and they would knock some sense into you themselves if they could.

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Regarding Loki, Part 7: More Uncomfortable Truths

On Feburary 13th,  Stephen McNallen made a statement in regards to the AFA’s stance on  the worship and veneration of Loki within their own organization and events.  Let me be clear that I, for one, don’t really care about the stance of the AFA in regards to the hailing of the trickster of Asgard.  I think their stance is closed minded and short sighted to be sure, but I’m not the Asa-Pope the last time I checked so they are free to establish their stances and procedures as they see fit.

What I did take umbrage at was how Mr. McNallen’s words also made subtle, but broad, pejorative assessments about those worship Loki in general.  A true statement of policy has no need to weigh in on the spiritual practices of another, and I found the remarks more than a little bit out of line.  While I might have been inclined to let some of that go, and mark it up to another area where the AFA and I just will never see eye to eye, a look at the comments that followed Mr. McNallen’s thoughts was eye opening.  While some of the comments were reasonably benign, and a handful managed to even be positive, some of what was so was so hateful, miserable, and disgusting that it demand a measured response.

So let us take a look at some of those arguments, and see how what is believed compares against logical consideration.


tumblr_m58bdm9xLH1rrtg4ko1_500What Seems to be Agreed Upon: “Our experience over the decades has been that toasting Loki or in other ways calling him to our side brings – not creative chaos, not constructive change – but ill luck. This is a matter of observation, not theory.” -Stephen McNallen
The Uncomfortable Truth: There are lots of people whose experiences have been that the AFA is an organization where bigotry and racism are acceptable.  For such people, they have a great deal of collected observation…but when they pronounce their feelings as fact?  Your words, Mr. McNallen, are seldom kind.

This is the only comment truly directed at the AFA in general, and Stephen McNallen in particular.  This isn’t a statement designed to attack the organization or it’s founder, but to politely explain where Mr. McNallen may have lost sight of how his statement compares against some of the things said about the AFA over the years.

Despite his experiences, which are no doubt vast, Mr. McNallen more than likely has not met or interacted with a vast number of Lokeans or has meaningfully partaken of a great number of rituals than include Loki.  As such, all of Mr. McNallen’s assurances fall into the realm of the anecdotal account; they represent an interpretation of the events in his own life, in a general sort of way.  Those are fine for him and his organization, if he wishes to use them, but the statement he made pushed outside of those boundaries the moment he made the above implication.  As written, it is at least a bit careless and disrespectful for those whose spirituality called them in that direction.  In addition, it’s a statement which displays a logical inconsistency.

When it comes to anecdotes, you have two meaningful options; you either accept all anecdotes as equally valid (thus making every single thing stated by groups like Circle Ansuz in dire need of a public, candid response) or you can treat them as little more than opinion (making your own anecdotes no better or worse than the next person’s, and thus really not worthy of intense consideration).  To do otherwise is to establish a double standard, and I don’t think such a structure should be welcome within Heathen ethics.  It is possible that this wasn’t mean, as a line like “observation, not theory” is particularly vague.  At the very least, there should have been a greater degree of care taken in the words chosen.


facepalmWhat Seems to Be Agreed Upon: Anyone who follows Loki is doing so as a fad, likely a result of the Marvel movies.
The Uncomfortable Truth: In two minutes or less, explain how that exact same statement can’t be made about the worship of Thor or Odin without equal validity.

This is what we can a logical fallacy.  Specifically, casual oversimplification with a little variation of ad hominem for good measure.  This is aside of the rather obvious issue that any single dismissal of Loki, via the Marvel movies, can likewise be used to slander the modern worship of Odin, Thor, Firgg, and Heimdallr.

Look guys, tumblr scares the hell out of me too; that doesn’t give you a permission slip to weigh in on another person’s spirituality and declare it meaningless simply because a lot of seventeen year old girls and boys are getting all hot and bothered by Tom Hiddleston.


23141-viking-scene-art-designWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Loki is a God of chaos, and to honor him is to honor the forces that seek to destroy civilization as we know it.
The Uncomfortable Truth: Chaos doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Look, if you choose not to venerate Loki?  That’s your choice.  If you refrain because he is a “God of Chaos”(tm), you’ve just displayed that you either don’t understand Loki, chaos, or both.

The word chaos, by definition, has very little relevance to the Loki that is depicted within the lore.  To be plain about it, Loki is no more “chaotic” than Odin, Thor, or Freya.  His actions are deliberate, methodical, and chosen for their results.  Each of these actions represents deeds performed for the interest of a long term goal.  This implies a plan, and chaos destroys plans of all sorts.  Some of these plans are ones that have catalyzed the creation of Mjonir, Gungir, Slepnir, and the Walls of Asgard.  Those are things that, by their nature, have created order in the lore.  It is thus fair to say that Loki is nothing like a God of Chaos; in truth, he is a God who frequently establishes order through unorthodox means or even forges order from chaos.

It would be fair to say that he is duplicitous in some situations. Also unquantifiable, trickster, sneaky, and a bunch of other things.   It is those exact qualities, however, that the Gods called upon in numerous myths and legends.  If they are calling upon, and even proactively utilizing, a “God of Chaos”…wouldn’t that make them chaotic by association?

And, while we are on that topic….


Pimp My RideWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Why would anyone allow Loki into our worship if he was responsible for kidnapping, murder, and betrayal?
The Uncomfortable Truth: Perhaps you should ask a similar question of Odin and Thor.

If we are taking the lore at literal value, and we usually seem to be when it comes to the Loki argument, we must take into account that Odin knew everything that going to go down long before it happened.  If you believe in the Poetic and Prose Edda as an accurate account of our lore, this requires that you view Odin’s actions through that context; he knew all that was to happen, long before Ragnarok came.  We could presume Thor to know the same, yet he asks for Loki’s assistance on many occasions.

If Loki’s existance is to betray the Gods, why does Thor confess to him that his hammer has gone missing?  Why would he accept Loki’s company on the mission to retrieve it, when a single trecherous word could doom their greatest defender and forever put his greatest weapon in the hands of the very enemies he is predicted to betray them to?  None of this makes any sense, and it’s not the only circumstances which reveals itself as curious and inconsistent.

If you choose to unconditionally reject Loki and those who hail him from your house, than you are stating that you know better than some of the greatest and most trusted Gods within our faith.  One is consider a being of nearly infinite wisdom and is the unquestioned ruler of the Aesir.  The other is held up as amongst the greatest warriors that the nine realms will ever know.  Both of them make up beings you shouldn’t really be questioning.


"Hey, uh...you gonna eat that?"

“Hey, uh…you gonna eat that?”

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: Those who worship Loki should go back to being Satanists
The Uncomfortable Truths: Those who say nonsense like that should seek the help of Gothi, for such people are having serious conversion problems.

I know this may seem like going after the low hanging fruit, but this statement pops up distressingly often.  It is not the most common rebuttal, but it also parallels the “Loki is the Norse equivalent of Satan, so why would you worship him” argument enough to kill two birds with one stone.

To the credit of Mr. McNallen, he openly addressed that issue and addressed it correctly.

If you have a serious issue with Satanism, as a Heathen, than you are in desperate need of some pastoral counseling.   Even if I give the benefit of the doubt and presume that all who worship Loki were previously Satanists?  Satanism is either a largely atheistic philosophy or focused on the cosmology that comes with a Judeo-Christian worldview.  In either case, you have no reason to care.  Satan isn’t your concern anymore and never will be again.  If you are still bothered/offended by the nemesis of a religion you have supposedly abandoned, that says more about you religious practices than it does about mine.*


3263343-odin+facepalm

“Oh man, if they think Loki’s bad? Wait til they start actually reading some of the stuff I did!”**

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: There are countless actions that Loki takes within the sagas that fly in the face of everything we know about Heathen ethics, both in modern times and in the times of our spiritual ancestors.
The Uncomfortable Truth: The same can be said of almost the entirety of the Aesir and Vanir.

Freyr gives up a weapon that would have defended him and his kin at Ragnarok in the hopes of winning a Jotun bride.  Tyr’s sacrifice was unneeded, for he could have simply killed Fenrir as a pup and saved Odin at Ragnarok in a single stroke.   Than there is Njord, who abandons the Aesir at the twilight of the Gods so he can return to Vanaheim.  Freya prostitutes herself for a necklace, even agreeing to cause strife in the world of men in order to secure it.  Nanna commits suicide, unable to face a world without her husband.  Rather than meet the giantess Skadi in honorable  combat over the death of her father, the Gods avoid the fight and marry her into their ranks instead.  Than there is just about every myth connected to Odin, wherein he does at least one thing that modern Heathenism find absolutely unacceptable.

If we’re going to play this idiotic game, than we can render just about every God in the pantheon as unworthy of worship and there is no philosophy that makes this foolishness make sense.  Somehow, no Heathens seems to have trouble recognizing all of these other deities as being more than just the scarce collection of myths we have retained of them.  We seem them as forces greater than the sum of their parts, and recognize these tales as complex and three dimensional.

Just not Loki.


If these arguments seemed weak or redundant, that is because they are and they’ve been this way for quite some time.  These, however, are the arguments that are put up on a consistent basis.  What’s even more baffling is you don’t even need any deep understanding of the lore to find where these talking points completely fall apart.  No heavy, eldrtich texts need to be translated from a dead language to understand how these things don’t work.  You seem need to be able to read, hear, and think.  Yet, this is the eternally present “Loki Debate”; a collection of barely salient points, almost all of them made by people that would seem to know better in any other situation.  Which says something very disturbing to me.  Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth of them all.

It says that the decision about another person’s UPG was made before the facts were considered.  That no knowledge was truly weighed and measured.  It all suggests that a choice was made to suit someone’s preexisting conceits, and that was that.  No questions asked and no objections entertained.  Loki is Norse Satan; perhaps not in name, but certainly in function.  That says volumes about people who parrot these arguments and raise such loud objections to a spiritual path that doesn’t effect them in the slightest.  What can we say about such a person, who would willing mock what another finds sacred while lack both motivation and understand?

What does it suggest about any other thing they say, for example; are they truly giving their hard wrought knowledge when they speak, or are they simply telling you what takes away from their comfort the least?

This is not about the AFA’s policy, a bunch of it’s members being ignorant on Facebook,  or even  Stephen McNallen having to say something that I didn’t like; at the end of the day, McNallen’s statement is just a more polite, less insulting version of a bigger issue.  If you don’t have the courage and strength to allow others the freedom to experience the joy of our  Gods in their own way?  If you lack the honor to allow another Heathen the freedom to call themselves Heathen, and would alienate them simply because their methods of respecting their spiritual ancestry do not  mirror your own?  If you are so lifeless and dogmatic that you need to toe your own party line before you offer hospitality to the spiritual beliefs of another person?  Well, I got to tell you friend…those aren’t virtues that I would be proud of.**

Bolverk’s Word Brother!  Jotun Bane’s Shadow!  Knotted Goat Dancer!
Hail the Hammer Fly!  Hail the Stallion-Bride!  Hail Asa Loki!


*I suppose there could be some Christo-Heathens out there, who have taken a synchretic approach to both the Christian and Heathen faiths.  If this describes you, I could understand you still having an issue with Satan in that case and only that case…so don’t think that I’m trying to malign you or suggest that something is wrong with you;  I’m not.  It still makes for a horrifically bad anti-Loki argument, but that isn’t a conversion problem is you’ve met it with a real sense of purpose and agency.

**Yes, that was on purpose.