Yeah, it’s one of those rare occasions where I actually bother to look around and see what people are talking about, spot someone bringing up drama to prove something, and decide to drag my sick ass out to grumble about it. I swear, even if I wasn’t chronically dealing with my poor health, this stuff has become so tiresome I’m not sure I’d be talking about it much more than I already do. Yet somehow, I’m always finding myself talking about it.
So I came across a post entitled The Swastika: There is Nothing to Reclaim, by Wind in the World Tree, and I read through it. They basically posit that the Swastika is…okay, not a ‘fake’ symbol (I mean, it’s found all over the world), but that any actual importance to it was faked by the Nazis and so we should just leave it behind in the dung heap of history because it’s utterly unimportant and barely more than make believe. Personally, I disagree with this and I’ve seen plenty of arguments saying that is was important, but Wind dismisses any such argument as basically ignorance spewed by people who bought into Nazi propaganda. Doesn’t site any sources, btw, just basically says “I’m right, and if you disagree, you’re dumb.”
But honestly it wasn’t worth going and digging up shit to prove one way or the other, not with the way I’m feeling lately. But on a whim I decided to look at their blog and found this, Why are Racists Attracted to Heathenry? At which point I’m sure you can visualize my shark. It starts off like so.
Heathenry has a racism problem. But it’s deeper than that. We have a bad habit of trying to classify ourselves into three categories of heathens: Universalist, Tribalist, and Folkish. But by making these categories (themselves deeply flawed and a false trichotomy) we have allowed race to be conflated with Heathenry. By saying “I’m a Universalist”, you’re saying race is important enough to register as part of your religious beliefs and identify you on a spectrum that includes other people’s racism and it shouldn’t be. You should eschew these ridiculous categories, there aren’t three separate heathenries but there is instead one Heathenry and a social question separate but oh so important – “Are you a racist?”.
Basically, this statement is essentially a fulfillment of Declaration 127. What happens when you “excommunicate” the “racists” from your religion? Well, you basically declare that yours is the only true Heathenism and thus you don’t need to define your Heathenism as “Universal” or “Inclusive” because anything else is false. You are a Heathen because only you possess “True Heathenism.” Never mind that if we’re actually following how these things should work, Folkish Heathenism is the True Heathenism since it is the Heathenism that was First Founded and “Universal” or “Inclusive” would be the heretical cults/sects since they broke off from the original faith and imposed their own ideology upon it. But hey, it’s just like with the Protestants insisting they’re the “true christians” despite the fact they founded themselves by breaking off from the Original Christianities and tossing most of the religion out of the window for what made them happy.
It’s actually kinda interesting to watch “Universalists” like Wind here attempt what they attempt with Heathenism. To be fair, it’s not anything really out of character for such people. Recently, an RPG company by the name of Evil Hat has been getting ready to release a new game called FATE of Cthulhu. It’s something I was looking forwards too, both because Lovecraft is pretty cool and because FATE has to be my favorite RPG system ever since they made the original Dresden Files RPG. The issue is this, Lovecraft was really, really, fucking racist. He named his pet cat Nigger, for example, was absolutely terrified of black people, miscegenation, and a bunch of other stuff. In fact, it was this racism and fear that was pretty fundamental to his writings and the abject horror in them. After all, the horror and revulsion at the half fish people in one of his stories really isn’t any different from how racists of all races used to view mixed raced children. How does Evil Hat deal with this? Basically by devoting an entire page to shitting on Lovecraft for his racism and non-pc views, basically imply “this game is not for racists,” and so on and so forth.
So you abjectly hate the racism and the man for being racist, but you’ll happily make money off of his fundamentally racist stories. Why? Well, mostly because they’re really cool and there’s money to be made.
It’s kinda the same with Univeralist and Inclusive Heathens. They’ll absolutely denounce the “racism,” and the “racist founder(s),” and “racist ideas/ideals,” and scream “this isn’t for you racists!!!!,” but at the end of the day they will happily gorge themselves on the fruit of a “poisoned tree.”
That being said, I suppose the most important question here, to me is this: “How do you define Racist?” And I know that sounds like an absolutely stupid question (at least it does to the kid raised in the 90’s that is slowly dying inside me), but let’s be entirely fucking honest here, the definition of “racism” and “racist” has been tortured and mutilated so much that I can barely recognize the corpse of it any more.
See, it used to be Racism was literally having hatred for a different race than your own, and literally anyone could be racist. Then at some point people started insisting that only white people could be racist because something involving power and privilege (whose strict definition mean one could absolutely never be racist towards Jews, oddly enough). We’ve gotten to the point in the last couple years where the statement/idea of “It’s okay to be white” is considered a racist statement and literally hate speech. We’re at the point where literally just existing as a white person is considered racism and the color of your skin makes you a racist by default. So by that definition saying “Heathenism has a racism problem” is literally saying “Heathenism has a white people existing problem.” And “are you a racist” can literally mean “are you white.”
Now, do I think this is what Wind is going for? No idea. I’d like to think not, but then again I have literally seen dozens of both individual “Heathens” and “Heathen organizations” literally say and mean this. Hell, Dec 127 was literally a public excommunication of the AFA for the simple fact that the AFA’s leader at the time and founder was protesting mass rape. So I’m not putting anything past anyone.
Why are racists attracted to heathenry?
Many racists are brought by the same feelings as many non-racists.
There are many of us in Heathenry that are here to not just connect with gods that we enjoy from stories but because of a tangible connection to them through the bonds of ancestry. Basically, in many cases our ancestors worshipped these gods, far back down the line our ancestors worshipped these gods before the arrival of Christianity. This is undoubtedly a major draw to the religion and many people get their first introduction to Heathenry due to some ancestral link. This religion of ancestry is intriguing to many ordinary people but also many racists are brought by these same feelings of connection to pre-Christian ancestors.
The difference is this, people can be drawn to explore their ancestry and that’s all amazing and good. The issue only arises when folks attempt to block others who might not have that ancestral connection from also exploring in a respectful way. The difference is in telling someone else they can’t do something because of their ancestry when you could based on yours – that’s exclusionary.
Okay, all well and good, sounds reasonable. I would, however, like to point out that by Wind’s criteria here…most Native American tribes are being exclusionary and thus racist, because they as a general rule block outsiders from entering their tribe or getting much involved in their religions. It’s a point I’ve raised before and as a rule has generally gotten someone to start foaming at the mouth in rage and protest, generally trying to come up with some excuse about how its not actually exclusionary or racist despite literally being the same actions done for the same reasons that they’re protesting as exclusionary and racist.
Ancestry doesn’t give a person any special leg up with the gods in Heathenry. There is no DNA, no metagenetic link, that makes a heathen special because of their ancestry. It’s not who you are but what you do, our offerings and prayers to the gods matter more than your makeup.
Now here is a point where I actually do disagree to certain extents. It’s scientific fact that humans of different “racial” groups are in fact genetically different from each other, and (while perhaps as not as much today as it was a hundred or two hundred years ago) even different ethnic groups were genetically different from each other. I forget where I read it, but I saw somewhere that early on in the days of Australia, there was some debate on where the aboriginals were actually “human” for the simple fact that they physically were able to endure environmental things that would kill your average person (this debate was ultimately left by the wayside when people started having kids with aboriginals, apparently). In an interesting note, Aboriginals can apparently drink petrol and suffer about the same effects as a normal person drinking alcohol, despite the fact I’m pretty sure drinking petrol would kill your average person.
But that’s not why I disagree with this statement. The truth is I disagree with it because of our Myths. It is said that Heimdall at one point came to midgard and (to give the short version) slept in the beds of three married couples, basically fathering the three social classes. There’s also other myths and legends of the various Gods and Goddesses fathering half mortal children with our ancestors. Perhaps not to the extent that the Greek Gods did, but it happened. So, by all accounts, we as a people do uniquely have the “DNA” of our Gods inside of us.
The issue then is a matter of what one might call Theological Supremacy. Every people has the tale of out our world came to be and how the Gods made humanity. Every people has their own Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. Personally, my view is that the various pantheons came together to make this world and their own people. Some people believe that all pantheons are a single pantheon who just took different names. Some believe that only their pantheon exists and the others…don’t. So, here’s the sticking point and I don’t now where Wind sits on this. But, if each pantheon created their own people, and the Norse pantheon interbred with their creation, then yes, there would be a specific link between us and our Gods that no other person from a different peoples would posses. A “meta-genetic” link, as is put. The only way this meta-genetic link would not exist exclusively would be if All pantheons are One, or if only the Norse pantheon existed and created all other peoples, because then it would be a universal link rather than an ethnic/tribal/racial link. Now, perhaps Wind believes that (which is fine) but that belief itself would basically be exclusionary and/or erase “non-white” religions/cultures, so may present an ethical and philosophical problem.
Wind then goes on to basically say “your deeds matter more than your genes” (which is in all honesty correct), Seems to try and imply that Norwegians are not Germanic (wtf?), and that you’ve as much place in Heathenism if you’re Irish as if you’re Chinese (I mean, there’s evidence that the celtic and germanic people both come from the same root and I don’t recall ever seeing any ‘racist’ or folkish heathen saying “no fucking irish allowed.”) And that anyone coming to the faith should be respectful and not cherry pick (which is correct).
What else brings racists?
Honestly, racism and anti-Semitism drive racists towards Heathenry. Some of these folks have swallowed up anti-Semitism so hard that the thought of a foreign, Jewish-based religion galls them and sticks in their racist craw. They can’t stomach things that relate to non-European anything, even worse if it’s rooted in something Jewish. So they think that they should turn to the native European religion as part of their racial identity. They turn away from Christianity because of its Jewish roots.
Oh boy, could I probably write an entire series about this alone. I’m not going to though, sadly, since I’m not up for it.
Look, I have no idea what Wind’s experience with Jews and Judaism is, but going by this paragraph alone I can figure it’s one of two: A) They have virtually no experience, b) they’re actually jewish and this is an entire “fellow white people” thing. But, for the sake of assuming the best out of everyone here, I’m going to go with A. My experience with Judaism is more extensive.
I suppose the first thing to really address is “why would anti-semites be drawn to heathenism.” Well, that’s honestly pretty damn simple; Heathenism is a religion/culture that values honor and integrity. Judaism….not so much. At it’s most basic, stripped down level, Judaism as it is practiced today and has been practiced for centuries, is kinda the opposite of that, especially from a Heathen perspective.
Bit of a QRD. Abraham makes a contract with the deity YHVH, which basically was “I and my children will worship you alone, and in return you provide us with land, prosperity, and protection.” Shit then happens, Abraham screws up and gets another kid besides the one he was supposed to have, the contract gets kinda split, YHVH does some shenanigans, everyone ends up as slave in egypt because Abraham’s grandson couldn’t keep it in his pants or manage his children’s hatred for each other, etc, etc, etc. Finally YHVH says “alright, time for a jail break, hopefully these assholes have learned their lesson that I’m not to be fucked with,” and shanghais Moses into destroying his homeland of Egypt to get the Hebrews out of slavery in a series of events that pretty much destabilized the entire Middle East. So, now Hebrews are free, YHVH says “alright, time to pay up. Your grandparents kept fucking things up, so here’s over 600 rules I want you to follow in order for me to hold up my end of the deal.” And the Hebrews, who just watched this God wreck one of the most powerful nations in the world in less than a month did what any sane and rational people would do and said “Okay.”
And then proceeded to fuck it up. Repeatedly. For hundreds of years. In fact they fucked up so bad and so often that of the original 13 tribes, only 3 were left after a few hundred years, and of those three it was one full one and the tattered remains of two more. This is, of course, ignoring the genocides they enacted against their neighbors, and the many more attempted genocides they never actually managed to pull off. (One such genocide is celebrated with the holiday of Purim, which celebrates the final destruction of the Amelakites via genocide for the simple crime of not wanting an entire armed nation to pass through their borders). Ultimately, even this was ended by the Romans when, after repeatedly trying to keep the Pax Romana in Palestine, decided the only way to keep the Jews from constantly pitching violent fits was to literally expel them from their homeland in the hopes they would be unable to organize and maybe even die out.
Enter into this picture, the Talmud. Idk how many people know about the Talmud, but basically its this utterly massive set of works on the religion and religious laws of the Jews. Thing is massive, btw. And what is it? Well, it’s basically the encyclopedia britanica of “how the fuck do we get around all these god damn laws our god has given us.” Some of it gets really inventive, and really fucking infuriating if you’re not a Jew.
For example, many types of work are forbidden on the Sabbath (such as starting a fire, and by fire I mean even the flicking of a light switch, which you can imagine is a big fucking problem in the winter if your fire goes out). Even more types of work are forbidden outside of the home on the sabbath. So what is the talmudic solution? Well, you get a really long rope and you tie up up around the neighborhood, and now everything inside that rope counts as “inside your house.” Problem is…this rope isn’t always placed with concerns about property or needs of non-Jewish folks, and fights have broken out over keeping said ropes up. Still goes on to this day, btw. Some of the drama in New York and Jersey is because of things like this. And that is one example of how to deal with one law…and there’s over 600 laws.
So, one the one hand you have people drawn to Heathenism because they are attracted to the honor and the integrity and on the other hand they look at Jews and their religion which is all about trying to find ways to…if not break their oath, bend it so far that breaking it would be a mercy.
Which brings us to Christianity, which honestly isn’t much better. It does have its roots in Judaism, this is true, though it has been at odds with Jews and Judaism in the past. Two things to keep of note, A) Christianity was a religion forced upon our ancestors, b) in the last hundred years there has been a huge push to link Christianity with Judaism (Judaeo-Christian values). The whole JCV thing is made more egregious because its basically trying to tie a religion that is all about bending the law of one’s word as far as it can go for self profit, with a religion that is fundamentally all about selling your soul to get into paradise regardless of what evils you may actually commit on this earth. Both attitudes which are antithetical to Heathenism. And that’s not even getting into the political machinations of Jewish groups, nor the near universal groveling and support of Christians and Christian organizations for said groups. When you start looking into such things, it’s not hard to see Jews as evil, manipulative bastards and christianity as the loyal slave…or shabbos goy, who does all the labors that the Jew is not permitted to do.
And that’s not even getting into the types of things that say the State of Isreal gets into, or groups like the ADL (an organization started to defend a murdering, rapist, pedophile which has actually managed to go down hill from there), or other Jewish groups or groups founded and run with the help of Jews. Now, I’m not saying all Jews, but let us be honest here there’s a number who do shady shit, just like people from every other race out there.
It’s not hard to see why people who find themselves in opposition to such things would be attracted to a religion that is fundamentally opposed to such things.
Religion is not the racist’s primary cultural identifier, race is. Race overrides all else and religion only exists in most cases to bolster that racial identity.
For some it’s hardly about religion at all. The Racists have a very strong culture building aspect to them, they base it on race, but it’s engineered to fill a cultural void in the folks they are engineering it all for. Not just a spiritual void but a cultural one. And it’s something that is hard to compete with because the racists are willing to make things up to tailor fit their audience where many of us are unwilling to do that. But much of it has less to do with spirituality and more to do with building culture, albeit typically shallowly on race.
While Wind isn’t exactly wrong, in that “race” is the primary identifier, they’re glossing over the fact that race, culture, and religion didn’t used to be separate things. To borrow their phrase, it’s a “false tricotomy.” One’s culture and religion were the same and they were tied to your ethnic identity. To say otherwise would be like saying that a mouse kept in a barn stall that runs on a wheel is the same thing as a horse that does show jumping who was born in that stall.
But I will be the first to admit that there absolutely is a religious and cultural void and that this is a drastic problem and why many people, “racist” or otherwise are drawn to Heathenism. Wind levels this charge at racists, but to be honest I’ve seen it far, far more often among “universalists” and “inclusives” who tend to be even more “shallow” about their practice that these “racists” wind is talking about. I do love how Wind says “they’re willing to make things up where we’re not,” because holy shit, have I seen the “universalists” and especially the “inclusives” make a ton of shit up, and ignore far more as well. Hell, I kinda recall at least once where one of them claimed that because Loki turned into a horse and gave birth to Slepnir, that they Norse fully supported Transgenderism and transgender rights.
Which, okay, the debate can certainly be had, but turning into an animal and engaging in bestiality is not exactly what I would call supporting evidence for trans or trans rights. And if it is…that kinda implies a lot of unfortunate things about trans people.
But we absolutely live in a cultural void. I mean, look at us. The biggest cultural things right now are comic book and scifi movies, “nerd culture,” and so forth. Hell, Warhammer 40k, a by all accounts rather obscure tabletop wargame, is being licensed for multiple shows in the next year or so. The kind of shit Normies turned their noses up at, the stuff that was the domain of the complete social outcast, is now the dominant culture…because there is literally nothing left. The LBGT community’s entire culture is based around who they fuck…and that’s it. The Black Community’s culture is about their skin color and how oppressed they are…and that’s it.
There is no great music styling, no literary works, no art, no films, nothing. Hell, I’ve seen younger people get excited that it’s the 2020’s because now we can cosplay as if its the 1920’s. And while I am absolutely not opposed to the return of flapper girls (and electro swing music has been pretty damn sweet to listen to)…that’s not a new culture…that’s attempting to adopt something to give you a culture. So this isn’t something “racists” are doing with Heathenism…this is something literally everyone in the Western Civilization is desperately attempting to do with literally anything they can get their hands on.
This is how we get so many racists practicing “heathenry” on such a shallow level. For them, Heathenry exists as an aesthetic cover over some underlying beliefs that really have nothing to do with Heathenry. Some are practicing some kind of harsh racial monotheism completely at odds with heathen polytheism deep down. Some don’t actually worship anything and just wrap themselves in the aesthetic alone.
Hell, I could substitute the word “racists” with “Universalists” and this statement would be 1000% true. I have long made it my policy never to deny another Heathen’s faith as true or false, but I will be entirely honest: in the decades since I got into Heathenism and have been reading and responding to people involved in it and Paganism at large…there’s a fuck ton of “shallow” mother fuckers out there who this statement could be applied to and be absolutely true. Hell, going back to the great “Socialism” fight with Gods and Radicals, the statement, “Some are practicing some kind of harsh socialist monotheism completely at odds with heathen/pagan polytheism deep down. Some don’t actually worship anything and just wrap themselves in the aesthetic alone.” Is literally what happened.
Our aesthetic attracts racists
As full of racists as Heathenry seems to be and often is, finding devout heathens who are actually practicing and studying the religion while being racist is fairly rare. Most of the racists are really only here for the aesthetic.
It’s problematic, but being a heathen and having a group is going to attract racists looking to join in on the aesthetic. The easiest way to get rid of these people is to draw a line in the sand regarding bigotry. Yes, this means excluding people, excluding those who are racists.
Most of the time if you’re an inclusive group the racists won’t really want to be a part of your group anyway. They want to be with other racists, they want to surround themselves in their aesthetic bubble.
So…blanket statements like this are just…bad. Admittedly, this is possibly going to depend on what Wind defines as “racist” but just going off of people I know have been labeled “racists” this statement is completely and utterly false. I know for a fact that the AFA is almost universally labeled “racist” and that is members are labeled and treated as such. Yet, from what interactions I’ve had, what things I’ve seen, and my own conversations with the Gods, honestly…they’re pretty damn faithful bunch who are legitimately practice and studying the religion to the best of their abilities. And while I can’t say I’ve had a lot of contact with extremely hard core racists…yeah some people the aesthetic and some are legitimately people of faith.
I can’t say the same for those I’ve come across or interacted with on the Universalist or Inclusive side, however. In fact, while I have seen many who happily wrap themselves in the aesthetic, i’ve seen some who all but reject the aesthetic. I’ve also seen more than plenty who will happily jam their completely modern political ideas into every part of the “aesthetic” to create a veritable scarecrow. There is nothing quite like thinking you’ve found a fellow heathen only to discover its actually a bolshevik communist running around LARPing who starts creaming that you’re a racist/fascist who doesn’t belong in Heathenism, despite the fact they’re not even practicing the basics of the faith.
Wind isn’t wrong though about “racists” not wanting to hang around “inclusive” heathen groups. That being said, given the nature of “inclusive” groups one doesn’t have to be a racist to not want to be around them, you just have to have even a partial amount of sanity and self preservation. Abel found that out when his once welcoming group kicked him out and excommunicated him because he wasn’t “inclusive” enough despite the fact he literally founded them.
Wind then goes on to talk about nazis and revivalism, and honestly I could make a post about that but I’m just going to skip it because holy shit has this dragged out and we’re still not done. I haven’t even meme’d this entire time. I feel bad about that, but I’m trying to take this slightly seriously rather than completely shit posting about it because I do think Wind’s heart is in the right place, just not fully informed of all the deeper facts that exist in this world. I could be wrong though.
A message to racists and folkish people:
You probably haven’t gotten this far but your entire premise is flawed. You’re trying to close off Heathenry. Why? Maybe you’re afraid but honestly, people of color are not beating down the doors of Heathenry to get in. And even if they were, what would it matter? You’re worried about nothing real. We don’t have a cultural tradition any richer than any other, there is nothing worth appropriating that hasn’t already been appropriated for books, TV, movies, and everything else.
That being said, when you lump both “Racists” and “folkish” into the same group, hearts and places don’t mean everything.
Wind says here “your premise is flawed,” but honestly Wind hasn’t really put forth a premise except in the most vague terms, and their arguments against this vague premise is countered fairly easily and reasonably. Neither is resolved, certainly, but certainly countered.
“We don’t have a cultural tradition any richer than any other, there is nothing worth appropriating that hasn’t already been appropriated for books, TV, movies, and everything else.”
I’m honestly not sure what Wind’s point is here? That cultural appropriation is okay because we’re not special and/or its been done in the past? That’s an interesting (if somewhat insulting) position to take, and Wind should really watch out because the anti-cultural appropriation crews out there will fucking eat them alive for even daring to suggest that. Which, okay, its a more or less valid position to take depending on where you stand on the issue of cultural appropriation, but that is a position whose validity is based on where you stand on the issue. If one is against cultural appropriation, then what Wind says here isn’t an argument. And given that one of the foundational arguments I’ve seen for not letting non-europeans into Heathenism is the general position in society and Paganism that “cultural appropriation is not just wrong, but basically evil,” then it is absolutely a moral position to say “if cultural appropriation is wrong, then we have the right to deny these people who are not of our people from appropriating our culture.”
Now, Wind can consider that racist, and maybe it is, but at the end of the day it is a moral position that has been agreed upon by a vast majority of the Pagan community and even Society at large, and thus it is absolutely moral for White Heathens to adopt that position themselves. And to deny them that ability is itself an act of racism.
What can we do about all of this?
Don’t associate with racists. Don’t stand in circle with them, don’t raise horns with them, don’t buy their things, don’t associate with them in any capacity. We cannot control much beyond our own actions and associations. Beyond that, I’m still muddling through that myself as best I can.
So, what does Wind suggest? Well, basically, to obey Declaration 127. Or, to put it simply. “How do we deal with ‘racists?’ By being Racist.”
Look, I am all about freedom of association and just trying to live the best you can. But I am Helson, I am of and by the realm of Helheim and my beloved Hel, and honestly?
Y’all Universalist and Inclusive mother fuckers better get used to the fucking ‘racists’ because you’re gonna be stuck with them in the after life. I mean, I don’t hate to break it to you, but honestly their faith is as true as yours. In a lot of cases, I’d almost say it’s truer. And their views are honestly far more in line with those who have passed long before than you guys are. Not on everything, of course, but frankly I think if 90% of you got dropped back in the past a thousand or more years ago you would all be breaking down screaming about how they weren’t real Heathens and their faith wasn’t real and they’re all a bunch of evil racists, and what not.
Now, I’m not here to take sides or say whose right and whose wrong, at least not about the big things. Don’t get me wrong, I could, but that’s not why I’m here. For now. But I am here to try and nudge, to speak what Hel has taught me, and to try and be a voice of reason (and occasional humor).
The Universalists, The Inclusives, The Folkish, The Tribalists, everyone…does not own Heathenism. None of you know the full true way. And that’s okay. You don’t have to. But you also do not get to demand, command, or institute that the others are not True Heathens or that their faith is false. Thankfully this is something I almost never see the Folkish do, but it is something I see time and again from the Universalists and Inclusives, and I’m tired of it. The Gods are tired of it too. Only the Gods own this faith, and you are not the Gods. So stop trying to act like it.
If you don’t like what someone believes in the faith…that’s okay. You don’t have to like or agree. But you also do not get to excommunicate or insist that theirs is a false faith. That is not your place, and you will be judged for trying to do it by those whose place is to judge. And I have generally found that those most eager to judge others, are themselves worthy of judgement.