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Strength to stand, courage to act, joy to live life, honor to keep our word, freedom to be able to do those things, and kinship to keep us from being alone.
Now we come to the Seventh Virtue: Realism.
Some might consider this to be an odd virtue. Realism is often linked to a lot of places that have nothing to do with religion as people traditionally understand it. I suppose that’s one of the things I like about Asatru and Heathenism. There’s no room or time for bullshit. Shit’s real, and you have to be real to deal with it. Living in a fantasy doesn’t work.
Last week I talked about kin, and this Saturday I actually ended up talking about abuse. I think this is where we have to start when we’re dealing with the virtue of Realism. I don’t think there’s a Pagan out there who hasn’t had to deal with abuse from their family over their beliefs, or from other things. Kin is important to us, possibly the most important thing, but if your family is poison it does you no good to remain there. It will destroy your ability to hold all other virtues.
It took me years to learn that lesson. And be it your blood-born family, or a heathen kindred you join, be realistic. Are these people making you stronger, are you making them stronger, are they helping you to be all you can be, or are they crushing you down to make you a thrall, a slave, to their whims and power. This is not to say their asking you to make sacrifices of time and other things is bad, all must give to the kin, but are they putting you in a place of priority and treating you with honor? If they are not, it is not a kin you should be with.
We must also be realistic about our beliefs. Dogmatism has little place in Heathenism. Yes, holding the line has it’s place, the Recons keep us grounded, but the eclectics also grow the practice where history fails us. We need to loosen up, on both ends. Try to prove what we can, try to build what we can’t, and go from there. We have so many Gods, Goddesses, and traditions we have only hints about. To make ours a living religion, like it is meant to, we have to keep the past and build the future, not just one or the other.
Of course, we cannot simply do this to our kin and our beliefs, we must do it to the world. There’s things like Realpolitik, which was used very well by the Germans for a long time when they were surrounded by enemies. It kept them safe, because they didn’t look around with ideology, but with realism. It was when they stopped that WWI and WWII happened, and we saw what happened to Germany then.
We heathens are in a place in this world that is not all that enviable. We, as a rule, tend to be of European heritage and taking pride in that often gets us called racists. Those of us who are Tribalists certainly do, which is a bit funny since by being tribalists we respect the existence of tribes and belonging to tribes, regardless of color. As a rule, we also tend to be a bit more “Conservative” than most Pagans, who seem to forget that conservatism means “to conserve and preserve,” and so we often get a hate from our more liberal brothers and sisters in the Pagan/Heathen corners of the world. The Christians hate us, needless to say. The Muslims, as a rule don’t know about us, but if they did you can bet we’d be higher on the list than the Christians (but maybe not the Jews). Speaking of the Jews, they’re probably one of the groups with which Heathens have just about the most complicated relationship with. They are, in a lot of ways, a tribalist group too (especially the Israelis). We both have much the same “Never Again,” attitude that we do (us to the Christians and others, and them against Nazis, or well anyone who would try to kill them). Of course, a lot of our friction comes from that same Never Again attitude, because many a Jew sees anything Germanic as Nazi and wants it done away with. Which I think when we see it its our Never Again, and you just get a mess.
Really, when you think of it, it’s amazing more Heathens don’t have a persecution complex like all the Christians do.
So we can’t let ourselves run on fantasies in this world. We can’t assume that things are “just going to work out” or that those who call themselves friends are our friends, or that those who seem our enemies are that either. We have to be realistic. This is where kin becomes important. You have to have good kin you can trust, because kin is the only thing you have to count on. Everything else, that’s fluid, dangerous, and got it’s own agenda. Remember when you hear a fellow Heathen being called a racist (or anyone for that matter) that it might not be so, that it could just be someone or some group trying to get rid of them for their own ends. We must stand up for each other, and face this world with eyes unclouded, because when there are people who will destroy our historical sites and temples that have been hidden a thousand years, we can’t count on anything other than ourselves.
Be real, in all your dealings, no matter how dark the world is. Because that’s how we manage to survive and bring back the Old Ways.
Hail to the Gods and Ancestors.