The Northern Gods Are Not White

The Gods of Heathenry and Northern Tradition Paganism are not white. They are Gods who were historically worshiped by continental or non-continental Northern Europeans. White, as a descriptor to describe people of a certain skin color, and generally speaking certain ethnic backgrounds, is relatively recent in modern description. It is completely socially constructed, and its use has been, throughout history, to marginalize other people and to place ‘whiteness’ as superior. It has no place in Heathenry or the Northern Tradition.

I absolutely reject the idea, finding it repugnant and blasphemous, to place our Gods in the context of ‘whiteness’. There is no such thing as ancient ‘white history’; there is ancient Germanic history, ancient Icelandic history, and so on. ‘White history’, as such, is a relatively new construction. It, and whiteness in general, was initially put forth by the British to make colonization and the other imperialistic ambitions of the Crown more palatable to its citizens. After all, if those one is subjugating are not white, and therefore, ‘lesser’, what need does one have to fight for them, or what cause has one to identify with the oppressed? In such a system, anything not-white is ‘less’, less cultured, less good, less human.

Calls to being proud of ‘whiteness’ are engaging in racism. It does not matter whether one believes their pride to be racist, it simply is. It is taking pride not in one’s heritage, but in one’s place and privilege in society. To be ‘proud of whiteness’ is dogwhistle language for enjoying privilege and prestige because of one’s skin color to the detriment of other people. Phrases such as ‘Native pride’ and ‘black pride’ cannot carry the connotations that ‘white pride’ does because neither Natives nor blacks have, in America’s history, had the power of law to oppress people of other colors, had the ability to destroy white lives with impunity, take white lands without due process, or kill white people without deep repercussions.

It is a wholly different matter to be proud of one’s heritage. In my case, I take pride in my Dutch great-grandfather for braving the seas and arriving in America, but that is far different than my pride being bound up in the pigmentation of my skin.

Irminfolk bylaws are racist on their face. According to them, a person is supposed to be 7/8 ethnic European or identifies as ‘white’ or ‘Aryan’, both terms which are used in a racialist context rather than an ethnic one. How is one to determine if one is 7/8 European? I asked earlier, and will ask again: “Are my eyes German? Are my legs Dutch? Is my left ring finger French? Are my teeth American?” What of the history of ancient peoples who worshiped the Northern Gods? They were traders, farmers, and fighters. They colonized as well as assimilated into the cultures they traded and fought with. They also assimilated others into their culture. ‘Purity’ standards are racist, and are an insult to Heathenry and the Northern Tradition. They are a modern invention to discriminate and divide, and nothing more.

Interesting, then, that the blood quantum required to be part of Irminfolk is an inversion of most blood quantum rules and laws. Racist government policies often made one-drop blood quantum laws their rule for inclusion in a tribal racial, or ethnic group. Fundamental rights and privileges were denied to people who fell into these categories, whether that was freedom, property, religion, or self-determination. It was only in 1978 that the Native American Religious Freedom Act was passed in the United States, securing the rights of Native American people in the United States to teach practice their ways. Blood quantum laws are racist. The ones that were instituted by the US government against Native American tribes were used as a check on Native American tribes’ ability to accept new members. It was instituted as a measure to control Native American population, and thus, Native American tribes’ sovereignty in general.

Because the Internet is often the first stop on a lot of new Heathen and Northern Tradition Pagans to understanding their Gods, the Ancestors’ place in religion, and the vaettir, I cannot be silent on these things. As I said in my last post, I almost turned aside from Heathenry and the Northern Tradition because of racists among our ranks. To paraphrase Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “If I am silent in the face of racism, I have chosen the side of the racist.” I cannot, in my silence, allow racists to turn someone from the Gods, Ancestors, and the vaettir.

Anyone requiring people to pass a blood quantum, or having an ethnic purity standard, or defending such, is a racist, and is supporting racist institutions. It is not my responsibility to be kind or to spare others’ feelings in this matter. Rather, it is my duty to call out racism, racist people and organizations, and stand against such vile things. It is not my duty to love others in this regard; it is my duty to defend my religious community from the stain of racists, and to call them out for what they are, and to state ‘Me and mine do not and will not stand for this’. If that is ostracizing and bullying so be it. Racism has no place in my religion, nor will I give it, its defenders, or its proponents peace so long as they claim it does.

Irminfolk, and countless folkish groups can feel they are not racist. Such feeling does not make them so. If you believe, as Bob Hamlin of Irminfolk does, that being of Northern European ancestry makes you, in his words, ‘more worthy’ to worship the Gods than others, you are racist. You cannot restore honor to a people while engaging in acts that defame and denigrate. You cannot restore honor to a group of religions whose name you stain by your conduct and by your words.

Mike Sagginario’s ad hominem reveals he has little to stand on, morally or rhetorically. Given the interaction from his and others in his group in my space here, I am even more firm in my stance that Irminfolk is racist. I do not care one whit who they consulted. Their words do not lend credence to the racist and racialist policies this, or any religious group puts forward. The policy of ethnic purity, as well as positive affirmation of ‘white’, and ‘Aryan’ identity in the bylaws of the Irminfolk overtly welcomes and provides cover for racists. It is racist on its face in its discrimination. Racism harms Heathenry. My strident insistence in this will not give way.

I care little to what guests and friends are held to insofar as expectations are concerned. The fact that Irminfolk holds these standards for its members and professes to be Heathen is damage enough, and reason enough, for me, HUAR, and others to stand against it. The fact that Irminfolk seeks to put itself out there as a legitimate Heathen resource and group with these policies in its place for its core, voting membership is enough for me to oppose it and any allies it makes. That this group gets along with Native Americans, which there is significant reason to doubt, means nothing to my and others’ opposition to its policies and beliefs. That this group conducted the construction of its bylaws with the aid of a lawyer that somehow approved of and helped them to formulate these policies says more to the lack of ethics of the lawyer and his character than it does the authority or correctness of their assertions. Attempting to explain how I should object to the racist policies of this organization is a derailing tactic, and one I will ignore. This group can welcome discussion on the matter, but my opinion should have been clear from the start, and barring that, what I finished the last post with should have given you a clear enough idea where I stand on things. Any who engage in the welcoming and acceptance of racist rhetoric and racists themselves are my enemy.

What I find, again and again, is a fundamental misunderstanding when I and others make our beliefs and opinions known in this regard. I am not seeking to abrogate anyone’s freedoms in association, religion, or the like in standing against groups like Irminfolk. They are fully free to believe and practice as they will within the laws of the land. In response, I am exercising my freedom of expression. If such seems censoring, the problem of that perception does not lie with me. To call the activism of HUAR, Ryan Smith, and those aligned with them a witch hunt seems foolish to me. Irminfolk put its bylaws on the Internet for all to see; Mr. Smith and HUAR, and now I, have highlighted these racist policies and have publicly denounced this group as racist after reviewing them. If the group wished to remain wholly private, or at least for its policies to not be common knowledge, it would seem prudent to not have published them to the Internet.

If there were indeed death threats made to Irminfolk, its members, or its allies, then I denounce these with all due diligence. There is no need to threaten them or theirs.

The Irminfolk and other folkish, racist groups of its ilk, do engage in practices that help to put others down. Wherever oppression is aided, whether by silence, or open arms, people contribute to the harm of others. To quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu directly: “If you are silent in the face of oppression, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” For any who engage in racist and racialist actions, put forward such policies, or accept racist members among their ranks with open arms, you are contributing to the problem of racism and the oppression of people. The actions of Irminfolk, in instituting the policies and bylaws it has, has a chilling effect on the Heathen community, and especially to prospective members to it. As I recounted in my previous post, racist and racialist Heathens are why I nearly did not come into Heathenry to begin with.

None of the points I made in regards to the practices, policies, beliefs, and so on have been taken up by Irminfolk commenters thus far. Rather, they have come into my space berating my guests, and speaking ill of me and mine. You do not come into my space and demand anything of me, especially in so rude a manner as you have. You do not come into my space and demand anything of my allies, especially in so rude a manner as you have. You do not come into my space and demand respect for policies, procedures, people, and groups that are not due respect. You do not come into my space and insult me and mine. You do not come into my space and make veiled threats, litigious or otherwise. You have tried to besmirch I and others’ characters, and you have conducted yourselves without honor. You have broken frith and hospitality. You shall receive no honor in kind for your actions and your words.

Irminfolk is a racist organization. Its membership and their allies are racists. Their apologists are racists. Any who have requirements such as they do to enter into their religion are racists. There is no compromise to be had here, no dialogue to be engaged in. I will not compromise with those who would deny my family before the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. I will not compromise with those who would deny others’ ability to come to know the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. I will not speak with them. I will raise my voice against them for as long as they cleave to racist messages, policies, procedures, and people. Likewise, I will raise my voice against any who would act in support of them. Lacking even basic respect and decorum in my own place, I have no respect for them and theirs. I will not entertain their ideas, nor will I engage in dialogue with them.

“127.
I give you rede, Loddfafnir, heed it well!
You will use it, if you learn it,
it will get you good if you understand it
If you know that someone is evil, say so.
Never give friendship to your enemies.” -The Hávamál

Praise to the Gods this Yule!

Hail to Sunna newly risen,

Upon Jord’s Body snowdrifts glisten

Hail to Nott the star-filled Night

Where Loki’s Brand gives guidance right

Hail to Kari, North Wind bitter

Whose icey Lips the snows delivered

Hail to Surt for generous warmth

Spreading cheer before the storm

Hail to Freyr and Gerda both

Giving us the Spring of hope

Hail to Oski, great Wish-Giver

Hear our voices as we shiver!

The Old Ones

Old ones laying in the lichyard

Under mound and tree and stone

I hear Your sacred Voices

I hear the call in Home

 

The bones sunk deep in earth

The ashes scattered wide

I seek Your sacred places

Where Your spirits still abide

 

Disir and Vater, ancient Trees

Whose roots reach so far down

I am here and listening

Where You all are found

 

Loki Project Day 26

You’re called the Lie-Smith

But You’ve been the one Who

Keeps me Truthful and on track like no one else

 

Each little lie I tell myself

You force me to see,

Crawling on my tongue like a corpse covered in maggots

 

You push me to speak the truth

A burning in the back of my mind

Till my lips open and the God on my tongue lets fly

 

You make me go easy on myself

When I really just want to flay my soul

Holding me back with a look or a word

 

Every time I want to be silent

When it would be convenient or not cause trouble

There You are, prompting me to speak

 

So I raise my Voice, Loki

In all its forms

And thank You

Loki Project Day 24

I saw You today

On the Bifröst

Rainbows arching from World to World

 

Heimdall walked behind You

As far as Asgard’s lines

Watching in His sentry post

 

I felt no malice come from Him

No anger, or wounded pride

Just duty and solemnity

 

You walked so serious today

From Your Worlds to ours

I wonder what brings You to Midgard

 

The Rainbow brightens and I think

I can make You out

Is that Odin too?  Yes!

 

Sometimes I hear Your voice

In Flame or in prayer

A whisper

 

Yet I see You walking before me

And I light a cigarette

The only offering I have at hand

 

As the smoke curls

And You vanish from sight

I thank You, Loki, for letting me see You

 

Sometimes we struggle a lifetime

To hear a Voice, see a sign

Yet here Bifröst lays Its feet upon Midgard

 

It reminds me that You walk here

Among us mortals doomed to die

And You, Your Wyrd, is never far, tied up tight, in us

A is for Anubis

With Anubis coming back into my life in a big way, the Pagan Blog Project has given me some inspiration to write here.  I am coming late to this, so I am playing a bit at catch-up!

Anubis’ effect on my life has been profound.  He came into my life in a time where I was uncertain of myself and my path, and helped set me straight.  When He entered my life again some years later, calling me to His Priesthood, He pushed me to change.  His Presence in my life is a constant blessing.  I am learning something from Him, even when He is silent, sometimes especially so.  For a recap of how where we’ve come from, look here.

He has largely been quiet these last four years since I began my Work with Odin, but now He is back in the fore of my life, and Odin is moving more to the side par the moment.  My Work with my Ancestors has picked up, with prayers being made every day to Them, and offerings as often as I can.  He seems pleased by this.  My work with Him at the moment is largely about small prayers, and making offerings to Him.  In my experience, He is not as in-your-face as Odin tends to be, and His lessons with me have been more subtle.  He seems to have a kind of infinite patience as you paddle about in circles, waiting for you to get it.  

A small statue of Anubis in His half-human form stands on my altar right next to my statue of Odin.  He is about half a pen in height, is made from cold-cast resin, and is well-detailed with little bits of gold flecking His black face.  When I give offerings of food and water to my Gods, as best as I can, I feed Him and water Him as the ancient priests would have done.  While I cannot do this every day in the morning, due to my school schedule, it is powerfully connective to me.  Feeding and giving my God, through this statue something to drink.  Does He need to be fed, watered, or bathed as a God?  No, but, it is such a connective work.  I used to think it was a small thing until He asked me a question: “When someone gives you food, water, or bathes you, is that a small thing?”

I think that is a great lesson from Him: the seemingly small things belie great things.  The small, everyday gestures of love, devotion, and worship are more important than the large pieces of work.  The small things make the big things possible.  In reorienting my life around these smaller things I’m better able to do His Work, and life comes at me in a way I can handle a lot better.  I’m not scrambling around for help, or  wondering what I should do.  There is a foundation of Work already there, to rely on and to call on.  I am just beginning to find the benefits of this slower path as Anubis has come back to the fore in my religious life.  The far slower pace I have with Him this time is letting me hear His Voice much deeper, and clearer than I used to.  It is a work in progress, but His patience with me and my Work taking on a more slow pace gives me room to stretch and breathe, like the difference between stretching with Yoga and speed bag training.

He is a guide, but He does not shove you through the door.  He has waited, with His incredible patience, to get to the point I am at.  I am just beginning to relearn about Him.  To regain that deep familiarity with His Voice that I had when I was His priest full-time.  To deepen my devotion work with Him.  I look forward to my journey, and pray for patience.