Cutting Ties Pt. 1

There are two parts to this. The first will be a copy of the email I have sent to Galina Krasskova and Sannion so that everyone knows what I have said and there is no mistaking my stance on things.

The second will be my reflections on things. I have no time right now for when this will be written. This was hard on its own.

None of the conclusions I have reached or the actions I have taken or will be taking in the future were arrived at with haste. If anything, this has been a long time coming where I have ignored my internal compass for too long, and I have hit my limit.

“Dear Galina and Sannion,

Over the past few weeks I’ve had time to think and analyze. Both of you have taught me over the long time we have known each other that our choices are just that. That above all, you have said Sannion, that Dionysos values consent and choice. Both of you have taught me that we are not merely in the hands of our Gods, we are co-creating with Them. Not on Their level, but not without agency, will, and choice.

You chose to put on the Sonnenrad, Sannion, and you have continued to defend this decision. Out of my love and belief in you, I have defended you both in your words and your actions. You are people who I have trusted with some of my deepest, most painful moments. I trusted you both to guide my evolution as a spirit worker. You are people who I have respected as Elders and colleagues for that great work you have both done for the Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and the respective communities you have worked within.

I can no longer be your student, your colleague, your ally, or your friend. You have picked up a symbol designed and wielded by the SS who committed countless atrocities and crimes against humanity. You have defended it in private and in public, and I can no longer support defending your words or actions.

I do not condone and will not condone the wearing of, tattooing of, or display of the Sonnenrad or the swastika. The latter, as you have told me several times, Galina, will not be rehabilitated in either of our lifetimes. Yet, you are defending your husband and coreligionist wearing the symbol of Nazis, something you continuously emphasized you want removed from the Heathen communities. Sannion, you have said you are not a Nazi, yet you are wearing, displaying, and defending the symbol of the SS. This is indefensible.

I have been incredibly patient and careful on my end, especially when you, Galina, have not. Your direct attacks on myself and others over political disagreements are reprehensible. I have stood by while you have broken grið with members of the Heathen communities over these things. You have attacked myself and others over our spiritual outlooks outside of politics. Part of my spiritual outlook is I brook no passage for Neo-Nazis, White supremacists, or their symbols.

You both have continued to speak falsely about antifa. I have let this go unaddressed for too long. Antifa is not a formal organization unto itself. Each city or town may have its own antifa organization, but there is no ‘national organization’ unlike the well-documented Proud Boys, 3%ers, or other White supremacist organizations that pose real and continuing threats. These protesters were armed with M16s, AK-47s, and flak jackets on the steps of my State capitol. Again, I find this behavior indefensible, especially in an Elder.

You have both made statements that have besmirched the Black Lives Matter movement as a terror organization. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Lives Matter. All of these movements are for the sovereignty and rights they are due under the law, things that never should have had to be marched for at all. The pursuit of equality and justice are qualities I require in my Elders, and I find you lacking in both.

You have both expressed your fervent hope that your work would live on after you both were dead. Galina, you have stated that you would rather see everything burn down around you than ‘be infected’ by whatever enemies you perceive in your midst. Now, that torch will never have to be lit. By either one of you. You are watching as the very foundations you have built are burning in the fires of your egos and by your poor decisions. I can no longer support or carry on your work in any of your lineages.

I separate myself from Urðabrunnr Kindred.

I separate myself from the Starry Bull and the Starry Bear.

I separate myself as a student and as a colleague from you.

I separate myself from the friendship I have had with you.

I separate my love from you.

Know that I will always grieve you.

Ves þu heil,

Sarenth Odinsson”

You Cannot Be Neutral On a Moving Train

Violence against BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) has been a mainstay of the United States since well before its founding. The bones, blood, and bodies of countless numbers of them lay in the earth beneath the United States of America’s foundations. Even now in death there is no peace for them, as Indigenous graves are being disturbed so flimsy walls, monuments to an out-of-control president’s ego, can be raised.

Black Lives Matter. Indigenous Lives Matter. Latinx Lives Matter. People of Color’s Lives Matter.

Why don’t I just write All Lives Matter? Because until the lives of BIPOC matter as much as Whites’, that statement is a bald-faced lie. It’s a salve meant to soothe and numb, to hide the sting that the truth of the matter puts to it. Each time a cop or white supremacist murders or harms a Black person for existing, for each Indigenous person who is murdered or harmed, and the countless Indigenous women who disappear, for the countless People of Color, especially Latinx, who are shut up in concentration camps while viruses and death run rampant in them, all of it exposes the statement of All Lives Matter for what it is: a lie.

Howard Zinn wrote an amazing quote that has stuck with me: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”

So I will remain as I have. I am not neutral here. I am anti-racist. I am against white supremacy. I am against Heathens who desire to make Heathen religions White-only places. I have and will continue to make donations and amplify the voices of BIPOC and to those who work for the betterment of BIPOC. I have and will continue to do what I can, where and how I can, to make changes in Heathen and adjacent spaces so everyone who wishes to be and is a Heathen, Northern Tradition Pagan, etc is welcomed in frið and grið. I invite every Heathen, every Northern Tradition Pagan, every Norse Pagan, and anyone adjacent who wishes to operate in this good faith to do the same. Some of the work will be very quiet, and that is as good as being loud and on the front lines. Not all of us can work the front lines of the protests or other work needing to be done. Much of the work, truth be told, is done in little actions done over time.

It is not enough to sign a Declaration or to mouth words. It is not enough to say “I am anti-racist”. Our conduct must comport with our words. Our words must be strong, resolute, and carried out in what we do. Our words, our prayers, our magic, and our action must be united in purpose. Lives are on the line. Futures are on the line.

I cannot tell you how to proceed. That is between you and your Gods, your Ancestors, and your vaettir. That is between you and those in your innangarð. That is between you and any communities you wish to render aid to. Saying anything at this point too broadly misses the mark.

What I will advise for White Heathens and adjacent folks who wish to make a difference is that you do your research and speak with the folks in your local BIPOC communities first and foremost. Listen to them, amplify their voices, and if, when you offer help they accept it, render that help in the manner that they tell you to. Do the work you need to do so you are a useful and good ally. It will be ongoing. Gods know I have work to do.

So, let us get to work.

White Guilt is an Indulgence

If you are classified as white in this country you live with the privilege of (at least) 400 years of racism and genocide. It doesn’t matter how you got here.

It does not matter that my great-grandfather came over from the Netherlands during WWI; he benefited from his skin color even though he could not speak or write a word of English. He benefited from systemic racism and genocide. I never asked for this, but I benefit from these as well.

My Ancestors were not barred from entry into this country because of racist quotas enacted by Congress. They never had to endure a blood quantum law to claim or be punished for who they were. They were not interned in camps during WWII. They were not killed for speaking out for their rights in the face of Jim Crow laws. They were not barred from practicing their religion after generations of genocide. I do not feel guilt for my Ancestors because they avoided these things, but whether or not I feel guilt, such feelings are immaterial to the issue of racial justice.

Guilt is an indulgence, especially when it inspires a lack of action and empathy.

Addressing problems of inequality, racism, colonialism, and genocide is not about white folks, white guilt, or white feelings. It is not about white people at all. I don’t care how bad you feel about your Ancestors’ actions. Gods know, if your Ancestors committed atrocities I want you to feel shame for it. If those feelings, or lack of feeling, gets in the way of you (and Them) actually making some sort of commitment to doing something, then it is an indulgence and a waste of time in regards to doing anything useful about racism and white privilege.

When hurt white feelings get in the way of equality, or especially, justice, that is not something People of Color or anyone concerned with justice in regards to inequality, racism, colonialism, etc. can afford. When the specter of that guilt arises and becomes a paralyzing thing that takes the focus off of People of Color, their problems, and the things that are actively killing them, it cannot be afforded. It is, in a word, derailing.

I don’t give a damn how you feel. I really don’t. If you lack the empathy to stand up for justice because your fucking feelings are hurt: Fuck. Right. Off.

White people do need to deal with our feelings, but not at the expense of justice or equality. It should not be the directive of folks to remind white people to deal with our feelings outside of the times and places where issues of justice, equality, etc. are being addressed. Our angst should not be aired during times of grief or moral outrage at the murder of black people by police. It is no different than walking into a funeral while a family is crying over a child’s casket, and screaming at them ‘Your crying makes me feel bad! I didn’t do this to you!’ You know what? You’re getting in the way of their need to grieve at that point. You’re an asshole. The funeral is not about or for you. Anyone, from the presiding minister to the family member on down to a complete stranger visiting in respect would be well within moral rights to ask or demand for you to get out.

This is why #alllivesmatter is either a cop-out or completely fucking tone-deaf. Not all the houses are on fire, and so, they do not deserve the fire hose equally. #blacklivesmatter is on-point and the topic at hand because black people are being systemically targeted by police, policing policies, jail time, jailing and fine procedures based on the color of their skin. They are dying because of this. The reason why our feelings as white people do not matter in this is because our fucking lives are not on the line for walking on the street while being black.

Blacks, as well as Native American and Hispanic peoples, are being killed in the United States far more than whites by police. In addition to this, because of jailing and fine procedures for minor traffic violations and misdemeanors in places like Ferguson, MO, they are now the leading victims of what has become the modern day debtor’s prison. Can’t pay your traffic ticket? Can’t pay your fines? You’re going to jail. What’s insidious about this is that there is financial incentive for counties and cities to do this, and that encourages these cities to increase incarceration.

You know what white people do not have to deal with? Being charged with 4 counts of destruction of city property due to bleeding on officer’s uniforms for having the shit beat out of them in a Ferguson, MO jail in 2009. Enough mewling about being judged based on the color of your skin; when white people get judged we might feel temporarily angry, guilty, shamed, or embarrassed. When black people get judged they get the shit knocked out of them and then charged with a crime because they’re getting their blood on officers’ uniforms.

So not only are People of Color far more likely to be targets for poverty, they are also more likely to be targeted by police for arrest. They are more likely to be jailed for their charges until trial if they can’t post bail, then fined for said charges, and then re-jailed assuming they or someone else could pay for bail in the first place. If they are successfully prosecuted they will pay fines on top of it, and may face being put into longer-term incarceration for failure to pay for these charges. That is, if they’re not simply killed outright by police. People of Color are, and have been for some time, targets in their own neighborhoods.

This is why it is so deeply disappointing to me that neither The Covenant of the Goddess nor The Troth got their collective shit together and did the right thing in supporting #blacklivesmatter and associated movements. Hells bells, why have no Pagan or polytheist organizations shouted out their support as allies for #Idlenomore either? It’s not as if these organizations are actually opposed to either of these justice movements! Right?

If we are indeed our deeds, then what are white people doing to help affect change? How fucking hard is it to say “I stand with black people for racial equality and justice!”? Did you really need fucking committees to decide on whether or not justice for all was something you stood for?

White guilt is an indulgence. If we are to be effective allies, it is on us to set it aside where it impedes action, and deal with it in our own time. #blacklivesmatter. Compared to those lives, our guilt is nothing. Step up or move aside, but don’t get in the way of justice.