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So picking up from where we left off with Swain’s response to Krasskova. So far, if Krasskova was dismissive of non-devotist pagans, Swain has proven to be just as dismissive of devotional practitioners. Also, Swain is obsessed with the idea of devotional practice, regardless of how often it is done, as an attempt to use the concept of “gift for gift” to gain boons from the Gods as the only motive for devotional practice.

Carrying on.

There are other very valid reasons for not practicing the sort of devotion Krasskova thinks we should. There are the ones I mentioned above about not giving overmuch, and our gods not being like the Christian god. The other reasons may revolve around the very way one views the gods and the way they interact with Mankind. I for one believe the gods worry more about communities than individuals…

Halstead you idiot.

Oh wait, this isn’t Halstead. Sorry about that, I got caught up in the Halsteadian “collectivism” of the comment and forgot we were talking about a gentleman named Swain. Now, anyone who has read me for any period of time knows that I’m a staunch Individualist and that is primarily because my experiences with the Gods is that they are Individualists as well.

But we need not base the incorrectness of Swain’s position here on my personal experiences with various Gods. Oh no, we need only look at the Lore to disprove him about this. When Odin chooses those he takes to Valhalla, does he go by community? Is it only men from one tribe, and not an other that he takes, or does he pick each person individually to go?

The answer, of course, is that Odin and the Valkyries pick individuals based on their honor, performance in combat, and a few other things. This implies that they have an interest in at least Warriors as individuals.

When Hel judges the dead, does she judge them by which community they’re from? Or does she judge them by their own individual deeds and honor? Tyr, does his law judge by man or by community? Etc, etc, etc.

Now, if Swain finds it more comfortable to think that because he got passed over by Odin that means that Odin is only interested in the group, and not the individual, that’s his business. However, it is not his business to insist that is Theological Law and the Gods do not, can not, and will not take interest in particular individuals as they so choose. Especially when there is both present and historical evidence to prove him factually wrong.

…Oh, they may be there for a person when he or she gets a new job, gives birth to a child, gets married, or have some sort of life threatening illness, but for the most part they leave the day to day going ons of our lives to us and our ancestors. The gods are not, in my opinion going to micromanage our lives…

And…here he goes contradicting himself again. “The Gods have no interest in the individual” but “the Gods may be there for events in the individuals lives.”

Also, did a man claiming to be a Heathen just profess that our lives are not micromanaged by the Gods? Swain, hast thou nay heard of the Norns? The weavers of fate who predetermine events in our lives and what will happen in them? Good grief, how much double think do you have to do to come up with this position in Heathenism, Swain> It’s a fatalistic religion whose entire foundation is predestination of fates for both Gods and Mortals. It’s all about the micromanagement of lives (and the rebellion against that micromanagement).

They are not going to make sure we get a raise if we have not worked towards it. They are not going to make sure we get the best parking place at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. They are not going to find us a significant other if we are not trying to find one on our own.

Well, no, of course they aren’t Swain. They are Norse Gods, who insist you fight for what you want. But if you do fight, they will help you in the fighting. Insisting that devotional relationships are meaningless because “oh my god, I’m not going to get all this free stuff” is, well, bullshit.

But from my own experience, I did get several raises and performed quite well in various jobs thanks to my working with the Gods to obtain those ends. Not by expecting the Gods to just give them to me. If that is how you went into a devotional relationship with Odin, no wonder he didn’t want anything to do with you.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want anything to do with you either if that was your attitude.

…I simply believe the gods do not work that way. That does not mean I do not believe in them. I do believe the gods and goddesses are quite real. It is to say I do not believe they concern themselves with whether Swain gets the cheapest price on drinking horns…

Now look, I am not going to be one of those people who insists that Swain doesn’t believe in the Gods. I’m sure he does. But he is very much laity at this point, in terms of deific practices. And frankly, I am sure he is absolutely right that the Gods do not concern themselves with Swain getting the cheapest price on a drinking horn.

But just because they don’t care if Swain gets a good deal, doesn’t mean that a God isn’t going to be concerned that their devotee isn’t going to get the best price on that drinking horn. Swain’s treating it like it does prove that, though. If Swain doesn’t get it, then obviously no one is going to get it, and if they claim to get it then they’re just delusional people who believe they have a “buddy god.”

I think instead they concern themselves with our communities, in ensuring there is peace and prosperity for the community, ensuring all is well is between us. If someone wants his or her life micromanaged I think he or she best turn to his or her ancestors who have a vested interest. Whether we succeed or fails reflects on our ancestors. They therefore want to see us succeed. Even then, I am not sure even the least of my ancient Heathen ancestors is going to make sure there is no traffic when I decide to take a trip to Saint Louis. They do not work that way either.

Peace and Prosperity in the community is the concern of the Gods, and that all is well between us…

-cue a solid five minutes of maniacal laughter-

The Gods concern themselves with Peace? Are we sure Swain is a Heathen here, because last time I checked half the Pantheon was involved in war! Bloody Hela, Heathens fight worse internally than Pagans, and Pagans fight worse internally than Jews, whose entire religions is about fighting internally over the Torah.

We are, bar none, the most internally divisive religion on this planet. Heathens fight over everything. EVERYTHING. My gods, we’re having a fight now over how we should worship gods of war. Peace and prosperity of the community? I might give fore the latter if everyone was still going aViking, but there is not peace, there has never been peace, and if the primary goal of the Gods is peace within the Heathen community, then they have so royally failed as to be unworthy of godhood.

And if you think we’re bad now about the infighting, our ancestor used to do theological debates with axes and shields!

Look, I’m not doubting Swain’s faith in the Gods. But I am seriously doubting his examination of his own faith and what he believes in vs objective facts about Heathenry past and present, the Gods, and actual religious practice.

As for the micromanagement thing: The Norn work that way.

The Gods are our ancestors. Hel, some people have been born directly from the Gods and have passed down children through the ages. I’m a pretty good example of a God adopting someone as their child as another path to divine ancestry.

But Swain keeps insisting “they don’t want to micromanage our lives” and “they don’t work that way.” To which I have to ask…evidence? I mean, I’ve been reading devotional blogs for a while and yeah, there’s a bit of micromanagement there. Or as some might put it, “educational activities” or “training.”

I mean, look at my own practice. Hel doesn’t micromanage my life, but she’s there for 90% of it either offering advice, helping to deal with problems, hanging out cause it’s something to do, or making sure I don’t kill anyone (myself included). That’s called being supportive, not micromanaging. And yes, Hel does ask a lot of me in return sometimes (part of the reason I have health issues like I do), but I do not begrudge or feel intruded upon for these things.

Honestly, as Swain is putting all this down, I’m seeing less “reason for not having a devotional practice in heathenism” and more “this is why Swain didn’t get a god buddy.” I mean, he gives only with thought to getting back (and justifies not giving by saying that “well, then they don’t have to give back”) feels that the activities of a God in his life would be micromanaging (sure, he’s talking about all the good things but you know the bad things would be there too) as if it’s only about getting good things from the Gods (best parking, lower prices, etc). And he keeps insisting that because he didn’t get such things, that of course the Gods would never give such things, and even the Ancestors probably wouldn’t, even though they ” have a vested interest.” And that the God are more interested in the collective internal peace of a religious community known for its internal conflicts than they would be in the respectful devotions of individuals showing them hospitality.

In closing, I think Krasskova is either trying to purposefully lead folks to believe those that do not practice devotion to the gods the way she does do not believe in the gods, or perhaps for some reason she actually believes this…

Given my interactions with Krasskova, and what I’ve heard outside, I don’t think she’s trying to mislead folk. I think she honestly does believe that those who do not at least believe in devotional practice do not believe in the Gods. At least based on the stuff I’ve read. And yes, perhaps she even goes as far as saying that if you believe in the Gods you must have a devotional practice. That does seem like a position she would take.

But if Krasskova is the Zealot demanding all worship the Gods deeply, the Swain is the guy insisting we just close every temple and shrine as meaningless frivolity and that all priests should be sacked, because the Gods don’t give a crap about religious devotion outside a few holidays. Which…is demonstrably bullshit both historically and presently.

…Either way makes no difference to me as I feel Krasskova has put little to no thought into why we should practice such devotion, just that we should…

If it makes no difference, then why did you respond? Why did you create five super dense paragraphs of a response. Yeah, in case people hadn’t realized, all those “…” bits were where I was splitting his paragraph. I had to break them down like this to make it sensible to respond to. The man fire-hosed his response, put it on full power and let pour.

And maybe Krasskova didn’t put as much thought into that one article about “why” as much as “should” but she’s got a whole history of “why” articles on her blog. And frankly, Swain’s “why” is about as weak and self serving as he claims hers are.

…And I feel all evidence points to her the ideas of such devotion as coming from Christian ideology. There are far too many similarities…

Oh bloody Hela.

Swain, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Faith, and Gods, tend to work the same way. Gods may stand for different things, but the functional energy of “faith” works pretty much the same way regardless of religion. Doesn’t matter if it’s Christian, or Norse, or Buddhist, prayer is prayer, faith is faith. How it is done, what position your body is in, how your hands are open or closed, this varies, but divine power is divine power, mortal faith is mortal faith.

In any devotional practice, there are of course going to be similarities between religions. But claiming that “oh, well, that looks the same as the Christians” is about as reasonable, rational, and correct as saying “well, the Brit’s pay their taxes by writing a check and mailing it in, the insistence by these American’s of paying their taxes the same way means they’re not really Americans!”

Or heck, another example. Brits drive on the opposite side of the road as Americans. But they both steer left and right, both have a break pedal and a gas pedal. Both have chairs for you to sit in, a metal body to surround you. Often enough, the same model of car is in both countries, just with the steering switched. By Swain’s logic, that means there is no difference between driving an American Car and an British Car, so therefor you should ride a horse or you’re a dirty Brit (even though Americans developed the car first).

Does the fact that I breath like a Muslim make me a Muslim? Does the fact that I have an altar make me a Catholic? Does the fact that I don’t wanna work, I want to bang on the drum all day make me Todd Rundgren? No. So the fact that I, or Krasskova, or thousands of other people have devotional practices in our Heathenism doesn’t make us Christians or mean we’re importing Christian ideology.

…If she can come up with a well thought out, reasoned piece drawing on the lore on why we should practice such devotion, then I might be able to understand. but to simply say we must have such devotion, or we are non-believers will not do. Simply, because many do not do as she does, does not mean we believe in the gods any less

The woman had 14 citations damn it!

She presented a well researched, well thought out piece which she presented pretty damn rationally. Could she have been a bit less absolutist? Sure, I’ll give that.

But Swain, if you cannot understand her position when it is presented in fourteen paragraphs, with a seven point bullet notes, and 14 decently sized citations from respectable works showing the f actuality of her talking points, then there is no argument she can present to you which will ever make you agree with her. Why?

Because you’re being as dogmatic about your position as she is about hers. Except that your position is not well thought out or presented in this post, has no citations, no presentation of evidence, actively contradicts itself, and relies on “well, I don’t believe the gods are like that” and “you’re just importing Christianity” as the foundations of your counter argument to her.

Look, I don’t believe every heathen has to have a devotional practice in order to be a Heathen. I don’t even believe that you can’t really believe in the gods if you don’t have a devotional practice.

But let’s look honestly at the two positions here.

Krasskova: Devotional relationships are practically a must because the Gods are real and we should repay them for all that is good in our lives and world with as much faith and devotion as we can.

Swain: The Gods are real, but we really don’t have to do anything except on a couple holidays cause they’re just gonna keep doing all these nice things for us and the world regardless of if we really give them a lot.

Or in even simpler terms.

Krasskova: “Give thanks to the sun because it rises.”

Swain: “Sun is gonna rise, why do I have to thank it?”

Both believe in the Sun, possibly to the same extent. But which one do you think Sunna is gonna like better. The person who spends the time to give some appreciation for what she does? Or the one who is just going “it’s your job, you’re supposed to do it even without thanks, maybe I’ll send you a Yule card. If I feel like it. I don’t wanna give to much.”

And lastly, look at what each one is being a “dick “about. Krasskova is being a bit of a dick because she’s insisting Heathens start to seriously thank the Gods for all they do for us and if you don’t, maybe you’re not a real heathen. Kinda a dick move. Swain is being a dick about thanking them “too much” because he thinks “shit, I expect to get something for all my thank yous and I might not, so no one should say thank you too much.” Which, to me, is an even Bigger Dick Move.

But here’s the thing. Let’s say it is about gift for gift with devotional practice. All about getting something for giving something. Well…the Gods have already given us a lot. Life, a home, a planet, writing, wisdom, law, justice, warfare, hospitality, literature, etc, etc, etc. Maybe Swain’s got it turned around. Maybe devotional practice isn’t about “what can I get from the gods with all that I give” and more about “what can I give the Gods for all they have given.”



Hela Bless