There are some things I have just had to accept about this world and even the broader context of my religion. People are annoying. People are Stupid. I mean really, think of the average person and how dumb they are, and then realize that half the population (or more) is actually dumber than that. I have lost pretty much all faith in humanity, and yet, somehow, they manage to make me question what little faith I actually have left in them.
Karl Seigfried, of North Mythology Blog fame and lettered man of learning (although apparently those letters have less to do with Norse Mythology and a lot more to do with playing a Bass Guitar), apparently went to a conference about Inclusive Heathenry. Which, based on my experience with the term “Inclusive Anything” means not that inclusive when you get down to it. It’s like diversity, except everyone is supposed to be exactly the same except for some arbitrary thing like skin color. And my expectations of disappointment were not disappointed at all. Because it seems to be 31 people wanking themselves off as to how “anti-racist” and “inclusive” they are. Frankly, given such things, I’m counting the days till allegations of sexual assault start showing up.
Not that it got off to an auspicious start:
Those of us who arrived on Thor’s Day (Thursday) were greeted by the Wild Hunt – not the news and commentary website you’re now visiting, but the furious host of the sky described in a German newspaper of 1832 as a troop that makes “quite a racket” as it that passes by “in the upper layers of the air.” The day we arrived, the storm Xavier blew gale-force winds across northern Germany, killing at least seven people, knocking down giant trees, and crushing cars.
So on the very day that people arrive for this “conference” of “inclusive” Heathenism, Thor sends a giant, deadly storm. Were I a religious man (oh, wait, I am!) I would consider this to be a very violent and bad omen that perhaps the Gods were greatly displeased with what was happening! For as we shall see, not only was the Heathenism on display here failing to include a vast (if not the majority) of Heathens, it wasn’t even inclusive if fundamental traditions of Heathenism!
The first of the conference presentations was “Ancestor Worship and Its Role in 21st-Century Ásatrú” by John Potts and Gunna Einarsdottir of De Negen Werelden (Netherlands). Their in-depth discussion of ancestor veneration examined literary and archaeological sources for historical practice, nineteenth-century influences on concepts of ancestry (including the tracing of a line from racialist Völkisch thought through the work of Vilhelm Grønbech and into modern Heathenry), and various approaches to ancestry in today’s practices. They concluded by highlighting the small step that can lead from ancestor veneration to a racist ideology of Blut und Boden (“blood and soil”), which left a bit of a question mark hanging over the opening ritual with its focus on soil and homeland.
For those who don’t want to read the whole article, the opening ritual involved the Hammer Rite and mixing the soils from all those nations represented into what looks to be a giant flower pot. And I do mean flower pot, like one of those brown ones you get at the gardening center at walmart for growing tomatoes or something. Something that sounds like it was supposed to be a big deal to be present at all future gatherings, but they didn’t even shell out for a nice container.
But yes, they start things off with “soil” and then right after have a big deal about how “soil” is “racist.”
Also, I looked up Vilhelm and it seems his only crime was being a popular historian about religion during the Nazi era. But I’m sure that somewhere, somehow, his ideas were labeled “racist” because of this.
The ensuing discussion set the tone for the rest of the conference, with participants from various countries describing how their own Heathen communities address these issues. There was a wide range of approaches to ancestor veneration, from no interest at all (Norway) to a ban on calling on the ancestors in ritual (Austria) to aspirational ancestry (U.S.) to viewing house-spirits as ancestors (Germany). The discussion was followed by a ritual for “Remembering and Celebrating the Ancestors” led by the presenters, which made a strong connection between theory and practice.
Right, so let’s break this down:
The Norwegian group has absolutely no interest in honoring their ancestors or invoking them.
The Americans…I’m not sure. But I looked up “aspirational” just to be sure and basically going by that it’s something like “dreaming of having ancestors” which if it’s what I think it is, basically means they have “ancestors” who they have no literal connections to, but worship as ancestors, while ignoring their actual ancestors (probably for being “problematic.”)
And the Austrians flat out ban any and all ancestor worship.
And then, after shitting all over ancestral worship, the conference has a ritual to remember and celebrate the ancestors.
Diana Paxson spoke about the founding of the Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015. Like many at the conference, she discussed a recent and fundamental change on the Heathen landscape. For the first time, she has participated in public protests, driven by Asatru Folk Assembly founder Stephen McNallen’s partnership with the so-called “alt-right,” saying, “I got through the 1960s and 1970s without getting involved in a rally, but that has changed.” She now feels that the current political climate and the open involvement of some Heathens with white nationalism requires her to get involved in public protest.
And what respect I had for Diana has been grievously wounded.
Because while striving for an “inclusive heathenry” she has joined sides with those who are very exclusive about heathenism. At this conference, no Folkish heathens are present. None seem to have been invited. Their views are lambasted, and their elders are vilified. There is no inclusion here.
This is an important change. In Paxson’s 2006 book Essential Ásatrú: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism, the brief discussion of racism in the religion makes no mention of McNallen or his organization. None of the many mentions of McNallen and the AFA makes any reference to racialist beliefs. In fact, Paxson includes the AFA in her annotated list of Heathen organizations for new practitioners to check out, writing without challenge that the group “states that it opposes racial hatred and honors other indigenous religions.”
This public neutrality regarding the AFA has been a stance within the Troth for many years. The most recent edition of Our Troth, the organization’s monumental two-volume textbook on Heathenry, includes material by McNallen. In her presentation at Frith Forge, Paxson made clear that times have changed, and Heathens of positive intent must change with them.
And that was part of why I respected Paxson. Her book was fairly balanced, and “inclusive” of virtually all forms of Heathenism. I even recommended it to some because of this, even if I didn’t agree with her about everything. Same with the Troth. Neutrality and tolerance were virtues to be upheld, and the AFA was not evil. It has worked with people of many races and ethnic religions to help sustain themselves. Of course, a lot has changed since 2006 to be sure.
For example the Troth is an organization that literally ousted its founder for the crime of “”wrongthink.” It has left its neutrality on the folkish vs universalist debate behind and literally purged its membership of anyone “folkish.” It has joined in insisting that people with a legitimate claim to heathenism are not allowed to be heathens because of political incorrectness.
The announcement of McNallen as a speaker at the Berkeley rally in April led Paxson to take a public stand. In her presentation, she stated that McNallen is a “smooth speaker” who “has disguised his true feelings for 30 years,” but is now “letting it all out.” Recently, he has shifted from a long policy of carefully using terms such as “Northern European” and “European-American” to posting on his public Facebook page against “anti-white demagogues” and signing his posts with what he told historian of religions Mattias Gardell is his own shorter version of the notorious “14 words” coined by white supremacist David Lane of the terrorist organization the Order: “The existence of our people is not negotiable.” Whether he is pushing or following the new young leaders of the AFA, both he and the organization are now openly embracing racist positions and groups.
You mean the Berkley rally which was in support of Freedom of Speech? The one that got attacked by fucking communists? That rally?
So basically Karl here is saying that because a religious leader whose religion relies on freedom of speech to exist, going to a rally that was in defense of freedom of speech, and speaking at said rally, is an act of evil that cannot be tolerated.
Furthermore, by insisting that McNallen is morally wrong for stating “the existence of our people is not negotiable,” Karl and Diana are basically saying “The existence of McNallen’s people is totally negotiable, and we’re fine if the negotiations end with said people ceasing to exist.”
Let that sink in. Karl, Diana, and this “inclusive heathenism” are all perfectly happy with a group of people having a negotiable existence. They are perfectly happy within a situation of a group of people ceasing to be. They are, in short, willing to negotiate genocide should their goals be met. That is what they’re saying here. In fact, one could even go futher an posit that since they consider resistance to cessation of existence to be a moral ill, that the moral positive is said cessation of existence.
If being against your own genocide is racism, than the opposite of racism is the support of genocide.
In this new reality, with right-wing Heathens wearing helmets and marching in rallies with Identity Evropa and other extremist groups, and with neo-Nazis including runes and other Norse symbols in their logos and placards, Paxson felt she and her group needed to show up with banners and signs reclaiming the religious symbols of Heathenry. “Part of my identity as a Heathen,” she said, “is to protest the hate groups using Heathen symbols.”
Sure, just ignore all the motivations for why said Heathens would be marching (much less wearing helmets when facing an opposing side known for using bike locks and bricks to bash in people’s skulls), let’s just call them evil! It works every time!
Funny though, that Paxson feels her identity as a Heathen is to protest hate groups using Heathen symbols, but never pauses to consider that other Heathens might have as part of their identity, the use of their religious symbols to protest rape and murder! Oh no, she’s just going to call such Heathens “false Heathens” and insist they are part of “hate groups.” Well, sorry, but if opposing rape and murder makes me a racist, I suppose the only logical thing to do is just accept rape and murder as a part of life that I shouldn’t protest against no matter how many are raped or murdered!
The long shadow of McNallen’s organization chilled some discussion at the conference. When Troth steersman (board president) Robert L. Schreiwer asked for video cameras to be shut off when he discussed the AFA, some European members expressed dismay at the fact that Troth leadership fears lawsuits from McNallen’s organization if they speak out too clearly about racist elements in its policies and statements. The threatened use of lawsuits to intimidate, they said, was a distinctly American phenomenon.
Let’s see, Germany recently jailed an 84 year old grandmother for “denying the holocaust.” Scotland is trying to throw a guy in jail over a joke he did with his girlfriend’s dog. Canada literally threw a man in jail for disagreeing with a feminist. And Brittan will literally prioritize “hate speech” tweets over actual terrorists in terms of policing, arrest the parents of rape victims rather than rapists, and is in the process of setting up to throw people in jail for possessing a butter knife rather than admit why there is so much violence in their streets. So I don’t think “legal intimidation” is a solely American phenomenon.
Honestly, I don’t think fear of McNallen rightfully suing them is what made the Troth ask for the camera to be turned off. I think it probably had more to do with the Troth guy was probably spouting a load of bullshit and lies that could easily be disproven by a random autist with a half hour break. And remember, this is Heathenism, there are supposed to be responses, legal or violent, for insults made against oneself. Fearing reprisals for the insults you make is cowardly, and attempting to prevent yourself from suffering the consequences of your actions is a distinctly unHeathen thing to do.
To slander a man in secret is a coward’s act. To feel horrified that you must slander in secret says more about the people at this conference than it does anyone else. And the things it says are bad.
Post-conference discussion has included much back-and-forth over how to best forward inclusiveness in worldwide Heathenry while also providing help in identifying racialist and white nationalist groups for those who are new to the religion or not connected to a larger community. The aversion to direct conflict has led some members of the Troth’s leadership to oppose specifically naming any racist (or “exclusive”) organizations in the website now being designed by participants to promote inclusive Heathenry and serve as a resource and guide for those new to the religions.
Cowards. Cowards one and all. They will slander in secret, but will not speak in public. Why? Because on some level, I suspect they realize that what they’re pushing is bullshit. They know that if they try it, they will be btfo’d so hard that their ancestors and descendants will remember the metaphorical beatings for generations.
And because they know that Folkish Heathenism is not only the largest part of Heathenism, it is the fastest growing part of Heathenism. Because those who are now coming to Heathenism are the younger generation that has been redpilled and wants to reclaim their identity of people and history outside the foundation myth that is WWII and Christianity’s self sacrifice and slave morality. The people who do not believe their existence is negotiable, and are more likely to embrace the 14 Words rather than spit on them.
After an unfortunately under-prepared PowerPoint presentation that led an audience member to ask, “What’s the point of this lecture?” things got back on track with another presentation from Paxson, this one titled “Balancing on the Rainbow Bridge: How do We Reconcile Ethnic Pride, Inclusive Ideals, and Heathen Tradition?” She strongly challenged the term “universalism,” stating that it “is not the correct term for what we’re doing.” Instead, she advocated for “inclusivity,” the term commonly used by participants throughout the conference. She challenged the view that a European religion should be for Europeans only and forwarded a notion of inclusion via acculturation into a group and through articulation of shared values.
And I’m sure nothing Cancerous will at all come from this.
Look, over the years I have slowly started having problems with Universalism and it’s claims that “Heathenism is for everyone.” Frankly, I do not believe that Heathenism is for everyone, nor that Shintoism, or any other religion, is for everyone. I’ve seen what Universalist religions like Christianity and Islam ultimately become with this ideal, and I’d rather not have Heathenism become like that. But one thing I will give Universalist Heathens is that they at least insist “everyone” come to act and be as a Heathen.
However, this new “inclusivity” I can see going a step further to the point where not only is “Heathenism for Everyone” but “Anything can be Heathenism.” If Folkism is “ethno-nationalism” and Universalism is “civic-nationalism” then Inclusivism is going to be “amalgimation-nationalism” where anything and everything can get thrown into the pot and there is no set identity, culture, or way.
Want to be a gay transexual pedophile who’s blot ritual includes pegging an 11 year old boy as the form of your sacred rite to Surtr? That’s perfectly okay! We’re inclusive here! Wait, that guy over there wants to offer a goat to his ancestors and honor the blood and soil of his people? Out! Out! Out with him!!!!
You think I’m joking?
The evening concluded with a large-group discussion of “Frith, Hospitality and Inclusion in Heathenry/Asatru.” According to Amanda Leigh-Hawkins of the Troth’s International Relations and Exchange Program, the goal of exchange was
to discuss how inclusive groups and individuals handle the challenge of when and how to be (ironically) exclusive of hateful or disrespectful individuals in order to provide a safe, peaceful, and diverse group space or organization. We will address racism, nationalism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and other LGBTQIA+ concerns, and any other form of prejudice in Heathenry/Asatru… This will be a time to build alliances among inclusive groups and individuals so that we may more strongly support our shared inclusive values together, rather than in isolation.
Right, so as we’ve already established “not wanting your people to cease” is an act of racism. Wanting your people to have their own homeland is racism and nationalism (which is bad m’kay?). No doubt wanting the traditional gender roles of our ancestors is “sexism.” Gods forbid a religion and culture that prides itself on the physical ability to accomplish goals and win wars exists, that would be “ablist.” And of course our ancestor’s and Gods’ dim views on Homosexuality and LGBTASDGWETEFA+++goodthink stuff is just absolutely unacceptable!
See, I told you these guys were shit at actually putting Heathenism in their Heathen Conference. They’re already tossing out babies, bathwater, and probably the bathtub given enough time.
The discussion was long, intense, and sometimes heated. There were strong differences of opinion over how to best deal with organization members found to belong to hate groups or to espouse racist views. Some issues that had bubbled up at times earlier in the conference were more clearly articulated here, and differences between American and European approaches were more prominent.
Perhaps the most profound difference was how the inclusiveness – the foundational theme of the conference – was understood. It was quite clear that, for the European Heathens, inclusivity is not synonymous with diversity. For the Americans, standing up for our beliefs means actively welcoming Heathens from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, celebrating together in ritual, and building communities that reflect that diversity of the United States. For the Europeans, similarly standing tall really seemed much more about speaking out against resurgent and racist nationalism, keeping hateful individuals out of their organizations, and actively challenging those who hold and promote racism. The Americans seemed very wary of publicly denouncing individuals and organizations that everyone agreed are overtly racist, and the Europeans seemed somewhat taken aback by questions about the all-white make up of their inclusive groups.
Already setting the foundation for eating each other alive I see. The Americans are too cowardly, and the Europeans are too white! Glorious! With any luck the screaming Americans will call the Europeans racists so much that they give up and join the “alt-right!” Wouldn’t that be fucking hilarious.
I mean, come on goy’s, it’s not a Blot without a 300 lb black transgender lesbian praising Loki and calling us all “rassist krakas!” I mean, I know I don’t feel that good old time religion without that happening, you racist bastards! I mean, come on, check that white privilege, they ain’t yo gods, they ain’t wyt!
Seriously though, there wasn’t a single black person at this conference.
This emphasis on inclusivity, coupled with a total lack of diversity, was really the glaring flaw of Frith Forge. In the 21st century, it’s no longer enough to have a room full of white people earnestly discuss the need for inclusiveness. We are far past that point. We need to have diverse voices in the discussion. We need to have diverse voices leading the discussion. If Frith Forge happens again — and I sincerely hope that it does — building a diverse group of participants must be a priority. It’s not enough to have one or two African-Americans, because they will inevitably be seen as “speaking for their people,” and that’s not good for anybody involved. There has to be a mass of people from diverse backgrounds in order for discussion of inclusive Heathenry to have any real heft.
Welp Karl, I guess you better go out and, uh, and uh, get you some darkies or something then? I mean, we can’t have a room full of yppl! Das Rasist! We’ll never get anywhere with just white people hanging around talking about how bad white people are, we need some non-white people in there screaming about how we’re bad too!
There also has to be participation from people of color who have left inclusive organizations after being made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. It will be difficult for some to hear their testimony, but it needs to be heard – especially after one participant performed an imitation of an African-American woman’s manner of speaking during the large-group discussion on inclusivity. There are attitudes and behaviors that even those of us who argue for inclusion have deep within us, and the only treatment is to dig deep into our assumptions and lay them bare. The process is painful, but real change always is.
Wow, sounds like this “inclusive heathen” conference was filled with nothing but a bunch of racists. Why don’t you name names Karl? Come on, who did the black woman voice? I mean, I know it totally sounds like something I would do in a fit of angry trolling, but I wasn’t invited and I wasn’t there, so I know it wasn’t me. So who was it, Karl? Who was the racist who mocked the suffering of black women and stole their voice?
This conference was a needed first step. The organizers did a lot of hard work to make it happen, and the result was extraordinary. A major outcome of the final discussion was the agreement of the participants to work together on building a website resource on inclusive Heathenry and Ásatrú that will have detailed information and guides for the general public and religious practitioners. One of the important ideas regarding the website is that it will provide guidance for those new to the religion — especially young people — to help them recognize warning signs of racist or otherwise extremist Heathenry. Such a resource is much needed and can do a lot of good.
Let’s see, there were no black people, your fancy dirt thing was a $10 tomato pot, your rituals were all hypocritically performed counter to your presentations and discussions, you slandered those not their to defend themselves in secret, and at least half your groups were ethnically pure racists who didn’t let in minorities.
And your grand finish is to “build a website” to “guide young people away from the racists.” I mean, I’m sure it will be an exciting guide, but as someone who deals with the young people online, you’re probably only going to be showing them where to go. Hell, probably fifteen minutes after your site goes up, it will be on the ADL and SPLC hate lists as a racist organization.
So, just to finish off recapping some of the positions taken:
- The existence of white heathens is negotiable, as is the existence of white people period.
- Venerating your ancestors is racist
- traditional Norse gender roles and norms is evil
- having ethnically pure groups is racist and unacceptable regardless of the reason
- blood and soil is evil
- The Gods were not happy with this meeting
- it’s okay to slander people behind their backs
- it is important to stand up to “hate groups” who are protesting murder and rape
- this is what true heathenism should be
I’m sure there’s more, but I really can’t be assed.
Frankly, I’m just disappointed.