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So, in yesterday’s post I talked about Alan Jackson’s latest song. Which I hate. For reasons I talked about yesterday. But it’s put me in a mind to at least comment on something I’ve noticed lately that I haven’t heard commented on much.

Then again, I’ve never really been on a Heathen forum, so maybe this does get talked about more.

What music is of our Heathen peoples? If you asked almost anyone they’d probably say viking metal, or heathen metal. This is a true answer, and I myself listen to a fair share of metal, rock, and the heathen hard stuff, and enjoy it greatly. But I think there’s another kind of music that speaks truly to a Heathen Soul, even if we might be tempted to write it off.

Country music.

Now, I can almost hear the groans and shouts of protest. Probably because Country is by and large overwhelmingly Christian, regarded as backwards, stupid, uneducated, and all around just, well, something to be avoided by enlightened peoples. At least that’s the impression I get from larger society. And to be honest, I suppose those terms fit, more or less.

But let’s think about this for a moment, and come to some realizations I’ve had, both about Heathenism, and at least the Newer country songs that have been put out there by younger artists like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Rodney Atkins, and other young men and women.

First off, is the realization of just what type of people our Ancestors and our Gods are. They were, by and large, farmers and traders, simple folk of the land who lived by it, worshiped it, and tried to keep it from killing them. Life was about living, and living close to that earth that was God and Kin, just like they did the sea, the sky, the rocks, trees, spirits, and so on. A lot of Pagans, and even some Heathens, like to talk about living close to the land, being one with nature, and a lot of environmentalism. But I, at least in my experience, don’t think environmentalism is really about the land as such. Oh, it may be about the planet, and the world, and all that jazz, but environmentalism just doesn’t seem to hold the attitudes I see and feel in the Old Ways.

No, to me the Old Ways are about a deep, soul deep, existence with the land. A Blood and Soil kind of existence, where the land has a part of you because you’ve bleed and sweated upon the land, and in turn the land has granted unto you boons.

Jack would like to know who's boons

At its core, Heathenism is about life. Sweet, sad, sexy, and sometimes crazy kick ass. And despite its history as twangy, religious, nerve grating, headache inducing music….Country has started to seriously embrace these same aspects that I find in Heathenism. Which, when you think about it, isn’t all that surprising. Culturally, your average “redneck” farmer is closer to the Old Ways (despite the Christianity) than your average Pagan. Not a surprise, culture tends to change slowest outside of big cities, and in the country family and land are the most important things. Considering you can find Scandinavian villages in the Mid-West where my kin settled where they still speak the native tongue, it doesn’t surprise me that attitudes have remained for nearly a thousand years.

Here’s an example, a song that could as well be a hymn to Thor as much as anything.

It’s got all the elements of Thor, like his fertility of both the land (and in blessing the girls). Hel, listen to the guys talking in the intro. All that’s missing is an invitation to Thor by the farmers, who acknowledge that without rain nothing could grow.

Personally, I can see the Norse Gods hanging out to the newer elements of country (and maybe even some of the older stuff) more so than much of the Heathen rock out there. Country has it’s roots in bluegrass, and blue grass from the old Scotch-Irish tunes, and if you ever listen to any traditional Scandinavian music, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference unless you were a native born. Aesir and Vanir alike, if ever there were Gods and Goddesses who could be considered “rednecks” it’s them. Us Heathens too, and our ancestors too. We were the Barbarians, the “uncivilized” people. We were one with out lands, in the same way our modern farmer and tradesmen kin are.

So next time you’re flipping though the stations on the radio and you catch the country station, don’t just keep going. Sit down, listen to it. Absorb the attitude, switch out the use of God with one of our Godly Kin that you think fits the situation better, and you just might be surprised. Then embrace that attitude, because it’s as much the Old Way as any saga and myth.

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