Well, the time is upon us. I beg of all true heathens to stand and fight to protect not just our people, but all the people of this nation. No matter how long the lines, no matter how personally inconvenient you find it, I beg of you to go and vote that traitor Trump and all of his sycophantic enablers out of office. Enough of us have died. This is our last chance. Stand and fight.
I want to talk about worship today. Heathens have a lot of different ways of worshipping. Some heathens are intensely devoted to one of the pantheonic deities. Some are involved with the whole pantheon, but not one deity in particular. Some worship local spirits such as the landwights. Some worship their ancestors. Whatever their focus, for most heathens, worship is a matter of paying respect to, learning from, sacrificing for, becoming empowered by, and doing the work of the focus of their worship. A lot has been written about the gods and the landwights in heathen worship, but not enough has been written about ancestor worship. And, because it needs to be, that’s what I’m going to do today.
Ancestor worship is not a huge part of my religious life. My ancestors were, for the most part, rather unpleasant people. Horse thieves, murderers, bank robbers, treasonous Confederate guerillas like Quantrill’s Raiders, and genocidal maniacs like Charlemagne. But there have been some admirable ones too, including engineers on the Apollo 11, a volunteer with the Flying Tigers, explorers, mystics, and artists. So I have always included an element of ancestor worship in my own practices. It was not easy for young me to figure out the proper way to do it, faced with such a, shall we say, mixed bag. And as I was a young heathen in the early 90s, there was not a lot of guidance on the subject, for heathenry was much smaller and more underground in those days.
After much thinking, especially about what the Nine Noble Virtues indicated, I decided on some things. From what I could see of heathen ancestor worship in those days, I did not like the two dominant approaches to this problem. One way heathens of the day took was to just decide that everything their ancestors did was worthy of respect and praise, and to define their sense of right and wrong in a way that allowed them to feel pride about everything their ancestors did, no matter what it was. I have always had contempt for people who went this route. Defining your sense of right and wrong entirely so that it makes you feel good and prideful is pathetic, the act of a lazy narcissist with only a tangential relationship with reality. This is the route favored by Folkies, white supremacists, and douchebags everywhere.
The other common solution was to pick and choose which ancestors were honored, hailing and taking pride in the best and pretending the rest did not exist. This whitewashing of one’s family history seemed dishonest and irresponsible to me. The Nine Noble Virtues counsel honesty. This way is not honest. The Nine Noble Virtues counsel courage, and standing up to do what is right even when it is difficult to do so. This approach is cowardly. The Nine Noble Virtues counsel industry. This approach is lazy.
Instead, it seemed to me that if I was going to take any pride in the good parts of my ancestry, I must also take a measure of responsibility for the bad parts. If I want the counsel and spiritual energy of my ancestors, my family orlog, I must take on ALL of my inheritance. I must pay for the gift I receive from my ancestors by paying a part of their debts.
Of course, ignoring my ancestors altogether seemed a valid approach too. No reason why a person should be in any way responsible for the debts of their ancestors, BUT, if that’s the approach you want to take, then you have no right to go feeling pride in your ancestors, or praising them at sumbel.
So when the rites of remembrance come around, I not only hail and speak the deeds of my honorable and praiseworthy ancestors, I also raise the horn to the bad ones, and speak against them. I praise the worthy qualities of my dead, abusive father and also speak contemptuously of his weakness and violence. I praise the cleverness and freedom of my bank robbing Old West kin and also denounce their evil ways and the harm they caused. I acknowledge the power and conquests of Charlemagne, and also pour out the rest of horn I raised to him, a grave discourtesy and insult, because of his genocidal ways. I hail all of my ancestors. I even have a small bead basket from a tourist trap in Kenya on my ancestor altar, because it was made near the Olduvai Gorge, where the human species evolved, so it is a way of bringing my mind to focus on ALL of my ancestors, going all the way back.
This approach has consequences in my day to day life, as well. Sometimes, when it is hard to do the right thing and nobody will ever know if I don’t, I remember my grandfather who crossed the sea to go protect China from the Japanese invasion by signing on with the Flying Tigers, risking his life to help people who were not his people when nothing in the world was forcing him to do so, and I draw strength and resolve from him. When living in poverty becomes difficult, I recall the wild and free lives of my outlaw ancestors, and draw strength from them.
And this approach also means that when I have seen Folkie jerks trying to drive newcomers off of heathen forums because they were not 100% white, I had to step up and speak up for the newcomers, and argue with a bunch of jackasses about how the old lore does not in fact support their racist bullshit and actually opposes it, despite how very much I hate wasting my time arguing with halfwits. My approach means that whenever an important matter affecting disadvantaged people came to the vote, I took the time to go vote despite being an anarchist who tries not to vote as a matter of principle. My ancestors who rode with Quantrill’s Raiders have a debt to pay, so this seems an appropriate way of paying part of that debt.
And that, Gentle Reader, is what real ancestor worship means. If you want to draw pride, wisdom, and strength from your ancestors, you have a right to. That is what orlog means. But with that right comes a responsibility, and the requirement sometimes to make sacrifices and be courageous. Thinking badly of those of my ancestors who were bad people does not require me to think badly of myself. I can take pride in the good parts of my ancestry not despite the bad parts, but because I recognize which parts are bad and work to oppose them.
I keep saying that I am done with the assorted bigots and idiots at the Wild Hunt but, every time I do, they keep pulling me back in. It appears I now must speak up about the latest round of fascist douchebaggery coming from there, sparked by an article by Wild Hunt author Karl E.H. Seigfried. For maximum clarity, I will address the points he raises in order as he brings them up.
1. The bigoted stupidity starts off early, with the claim that heathenry is inherently racist at its roots by saying “Indeed, the arrival in the United States of Else Christensen’s overtly racist Odinism predates the founding of national universalist Heathen organizations by nearly twenty years.” Here are the things wrong with this statement:
A. Heathenry is not and never has been defined by the long-discredited Folkish vs. Universalist debate. There are three primary divisions: Folkish, Universalist, and Tribalist. Only the Folkish who want to spread the misinformation that all heathenry is Folkish, continue to push the narrative, along with SJW religious bigots who want the same thing as a way of discrediting the rest of heathenry.
B. Organizations in a religion do not define the religion. The roots of the religion are not found in which group decided to make a public organization before another group did.
C. In point of fact, the history of modern heathenry mostly lies with independent discoverers from the 70s through the 90s, and small organizations made by the same. And we have always been mostly Tribalist, rejecting the errors of both folkies and universalists.
Seigfried is either completely ignorant of heathen history, or is deliberately distorting it in order to advance long-discredited bullshit in order to justify his bigoted approach to our religion, his insistence that only the approach used by his branch has validity.
2. Seigfried then goes on to advance the mind-boggling childish argument that because he has “repeatedly heard members and leaders of signatory groups insist that ‘folkish doesn’t mean racist,’” this means that the majority of heathenry’s non-racist elements are not serious about rejecting racism, and that our words mean nothing.
Think about that for a moment. Because the real heathens haven’t managed to purge every racist who wants to hijack our ways, because we haven’t “cleaned up” the religion so much that Seigfried never hears anybody misusing it, we are not sincere in our opposition to those forces? Replace the word “heathen” there with “Muslim” and then tell me how that sounds. He is using the exact same argument against heathens as the Fox News Brigade uses against Muslims when they claim all Muslims are terrorists because they haven’t stopped the minority of those who are.
Well, Seigfried, it’s bigotry when used against Muslims, and it’s bigotry when used against us.
3. “If we are going to make declarations, we should declare that ‘folkish does mean racist.’”
Finally. A point we can agree on. Yes, Folkish does mean racist, as I have been saying for years. As I have gone amongst the Folkish, physically, to say. Let me tell you something, Seigfried. I was fighting fascists before you were a gleam in your daddy’s eye. I have, as a result, had more credible death threats than you’ve had stiff drinks. Don’t *%#^$! Tell me I am not sincere enough for you, and so I am really a fascist myself. What have you actually accomplished? What risks have you run? Because let me tell you something, kid, publishing &*&#$# little articles on the Wild Hunt isn’t actually DOING anything. It isn’t risking anything.
4. “If Heathenry isn’t a religion for white people, our religious communities should naturally reflect the diversity of the United States”
It is natural for people to have interests in one area and not others. It is natural for people to prefer some things and not others. Why do you assume that all ethnic groups must be interested in these ways? What you are proposing is that we go out and “try to get more dark skinned people” in our group. You obviously care nothing for the religion itself, the quality of insight its adherents hold, their level of dedication, you just want to fill ethnic quotas for social engineering purposes. You care nothing for the religion itself, our gods, our spirits, anything.
Like when you say: “We should diversify Heathen presence at wider Pagan and interfaith events. We should refuse to be part of or attend all-white panel discussions on Heathen issues.”
Insight, devotion, and connection to the gods come from anywhere. If they are in the form of an all-white panel, I will listen to them. Again: you care nothing for our religion. You are just trying to use us for your social engineering crusade.
I have held sumbel with black people, and with latinos. I have welcomed and acknowledged them as my religious kin. And, when none were present, still done so with white people. I did not run away and refuse to play until some dark skinned people gave the white skinned ones permission to speak to the public.
Real diversity comes from being open and accepting of all who come our way, regardless of ethnicity. Improving the quality of discourse in our religion comes from such open acceptance. It comes from letting worth reveal itself. Not from trying to change which group is the one being discriminated against. You merely seek to repeat the mistakes of the past in a whole new manner. You perpetuate the wrong-headed thinking that has plagued human society as long as there have been humans, by insisting that the keys to insight, wisdom, and devotion are found in particular skin colors, and not others.
5. “We should end the emphasis on Valhalla and fixation on warriors and weapons”
Spoken like an over-privileged, middle class jackass. You do realize that warriors on the police force and in the armed forces keep you safe enough to have your privileged ignorance, yes?
You know nothing of warriors, warrior culture, or Odin.
The problem isn’t that the Folkish, terrorists, and incels who hide under the heathen banner are being made worse by being a part of warrior culture, it’s that they aren’t a part of one, but are playing at being part of one because they think it makes them look “kewl.” So they enact distorted ideas of rituals and ideas they got mostly from TV and movies. In point of fact, an actual warrior culture teaches discipline, judgment, responsibility, and fighting to protect the weak and innocent. Since my training I have not needed to fight, in general. I have been able to resolve things without fighting, which I was able to do because of my training. I have been able to step in on domestic violence situation, on crimes in progress, and on gang fights using only words and a little headology. It was my training as a warrior, and living by a warrior’s code, that gave me the desire to protect others and the courage to take the risks needed to do so with words and head games.
We need a REAL warrior’s culture in heathenry now more than ever.
6. “We should support the reform of gun law”
Another point we can agree on. As any REAL warrior knows, carrying a weapon is a privilege, something that requires special training, maturity, and the right attitude, and that if you cannot demonstrate these things you have no business with a weapon.
You’re a hypocrite, Seigfried. You use the same straw men, ad hominems, etc. that you complain of other heathens doing to Islam and Christianity.
And the same goes for the rest of you SJW and “Antifa” involved in this. Look at your behavior. You are trying to dox anyone who does not share your insane, rabid vision of the world. You are accusing a trans man, one of the greatest defenders of trans rights in Northern Tradition, Raven Kaldera, of trans phobia because he used a $$&&^! term you don’t like, one that was accepted in his generation. You’re even lying about me, accusing me of supporting hammerskins, when I am on record as having nothing but contempt for and opposition to them. You have no honor. You have no respect. You lie, attack, endanger anyone who does not subscribe to your insanely black and white world view. You are completely intolerant of those with different world views than your own. You act like children. You are alienating not just us, but any reasonable heathens out there, and harming the REAL struggle against fascism.
You people have not taken care while fighting monsters, and you have stared too long into the Abyss.
Anti-fascist my ass. You people are fascists. Just a different flavor of fascist. Which makes you also a bunch of hypocrites. And you have no interest in social justice, just in virtue signalling.
I, meanwhile, stand where I have always stood: with a finger on my right hand raised to the Folkies, and one on my left raised to you losers. I am getting so sick of all your proto-Borg nonsense.
It is a belief of many heathens that a person’s worth can be measured by the kind of enemies they have made. I have always been proud to count the Folkies as my enemies. And you know what? I’m damn proud to have you fascist “Antifa” SJW bastards as my enemies as well.
P.S. For those of you too coarse-witted to understand the term “proto-Borg,” I’ll shortly be doing another post to explain it.
I have been hearing a new word in polytheistic circles lately, and it’s a word I am really starting to dislike. OK, it’s not really a new word, but it is a word being used in a new way: “Gatekeeper.” To be more precise, it is “Gatekeeper” used as a pejorative.
This word represents a new and pernicious effort of the uber-Universalist types. Universalists have always believed that everyone has the right to declare themselves a member of our tradition, no matter who they are. Lately, however, it seems they are not content with having their own views, but must also attack everyone who does not believe exactly like they do.
Which brings us to the whole “Gatekeeper” thing. It is the term they are using to attack anyone who tries to hold standards for entry into our traditions. If, for instance, a level-headed Tribalist happens to mention that no, you cannot worship Marvel Thor and Marvel Odin and call yourself a heathen, or you cannot believe that the gods are really alien astronauts and call yourself a heathen, then the uber-Universalists start screaming “Gatekeeper!” like it meant “Nazi.”
Good grief. Uber-universalists to the left of me, Folkies to the right… I feel like I’m up to my armpits in fascists these days.
Well, I am proud to call myself a Gatekeeper. Our religion, like any religion, needs standards. You want to be a member? You have to earn the right. That includes a fair bit of learning. Too lazy or self-important to do it? Try the Unitarians. They take anyone.
In a rare moment of time to read various blogs, I found an old post on the topic of Tribalism that I rather liked. It is an excellent and thoughtful analysis of the Tribalist view of heathenry. Together with the debate in the comments section, it demonstrates well how Tribalism is distinct from Folkism and can incorporate some Universalist views without being fully Universalist. This is the link.
Some years ago I wrote a post about the heathen concept of morality. I was always dissatisfied with it, and felt I should have developed it more. Recently, I have done so.
Heathenry is unusual amongst modern religions in that it does not offer anything like a “meaning of life.” The gods do not really have a greater purpose for us, nor is there anything like a “divine plan.” The gods created us, not because they wanted us to do something in particular, but because creating life is something that gods do. They have standards of behavior that they approve of, and things that they disapprove of, but they do not give humankind a code of morality that they are expected to live by regardless of the real world circumstances they face. They are willing and sometimes eager to help us better ourselves, but they do not reward or punish based on who and what we are.
This no doubt sounds odd and even disturbing to the followers of more mainstream modern religions. These religions tend to see morality as something with a divine origin, forced onto an unwilling and amoral humanity from above. “Without divinely-given moral codes,” they argue, “people will fall into chaotic, evil, amoral behavior.” “And without fear of divine judgment,” some of them add, “there is nothing to make people engage in good behavior.“ Such a lack of divine meaning, purpose, and guidance, these people believe, means that there is no meaning or purpose in life. It leads to nihilism, they say, and to personal lives, families, and civilization itself falling apart.
There are some problems with this view, however. When a religion is centered around a god offering rewards in the next life in exchange for suffering in this one, it incentivizes people to live for the next world, and to abandon this world. It leads to a toleration of suffering and evil because of the expectation that everything will be made right in the next world. When good behavior is motivated solely by fear, it is not really goodness. It is just an imitation of goodness, an act with no more meaning than the tricks of a dog who expects a treat for performing them well, or who fears a beating for failing to do so. This kind of worldview encourages people to be false, and dishonest. It also encourages them to do no real work on their character or understanding of morality, because a premium is placed on the appearance of goodness rather than truly being good. It encourages a mindset that does not like taking risks, preferring security and comfort instead. It encourages a dissatisfaction with physical life, as the attention is turned to the next life. It promotes an attitude of intolerance, and preoccupation with appearance over substance.
When people who are raised in such an environment lose their religious faith, the worldview that faith gave them must inevitably turn toward nihilism of a most unhealthy sort. If some god was the only basis for morality and you no longer believe in or follow that god, then there must really be no morality after all, and no real good or evil. The belief in divinely-appointed morality and divine judgment set up exactly this kind of black and white dichotomy.
The heathen gods show us a more nuanced view of the world, however, and I think that this is one of the greatest strengths of the heathen religion. The gods constantly fight against the forces of chaos and destruction as personified in many jotnar and wights such as the Fenris wolf and the Midgard Serpent even though the gods know that they will eventually and inevitably be defeated by them at Ragnarok. Despite knowing that they and the universe are doomed, and that ultimately nothing that they or that anyone else does will matter, they fight anyways. They know that it is better to keep struggling to win than it is to surrender. They do not see a higher purpose, yet they do not surrender to despair or nihilism.
Instead, they go the route of what is sometimes termed anti-nihilism. They know how cynical and pointless and cruel the world is, and decide that that means they have to create their own meaning and values and to stick to them tenaciously, heroically, no matter the odds. They know how pointless and unrewarding life would be if you didn’t.
And, by example, they teach us to do the same.
We heathens, because we do not bother with divine codes of good and evil, concern ourselves with much more practical considerations when it comes to making moral decisions. We have a single, simple, utilitarian standard to apply: who does the proposed action help, and who does it hurt?
This single standard makes for some very interesting consequences. For one thing, it makes people be concerned with the real life consequences of their actions. It makes them have to try to do genuinely helpful things or at least avoid genuinely harmful things. This standard does not allow for any moral weaseling of the sort that divine codes of good and evil do. It does not allow one person to harm another with the excuse that it is for his own, ultimate good as determined by some alien, divine code of behavior. The harm cannot be counterbalanced by some greater good that will supposedly be done someday, in the future, in another life and another world. It encourages us to care about THIS world, and the real things that happen to real people.
The other thing that this utilitarian heathen standard does is encourage the creation of an individual set of values, by each and every one of us. Because values do not objectively exist, the determination of how to judge help and harm can only be made by a person who has created their own system of values. This encourages intellectual engagement with the world, and with philosophy, and the higher functions of the mind. It encourages the development of a sense of personal responsibility. This can lead to a much stronger society, one that is engaged with the world instead of withdrawn from it, one that is concerned with personal development, one that has a strong sense of personal responsibility. It can lead to a society that is fully and vibrantly alive, instead of waiting until after death to start truly living.
This is the most significant gift that I think that heathenry has to offer the larger world around us. An approach to morality, values, and meaning that is grounded in this world.
Now for the necessary disclosures. Those who paid attention in, or took, philosophy class will recognize that some of what I write above is similar to Nietzsche[i]’s ideas about morality, the Ubermensch[ii], and the Last Man. That is because I also took philosophy in college, and inevitably read Thus Spake Zarathustra. I did indeed find myself influenced by some of his ideas. Our religion is a reconstruction. The ancients, thanks to their stupid oral traditions, did not leave a lot of their beliefs or philosophy explained for us. So we modern heathens have to interpret the fragments we have in terms of our modern understandings, and this is how I interpret them. I think the similarity is not solely due to that, however. Nietzsche was a German philosopher whose thoughts sprang from a tradition of beliefs that is distantly rooted in the ancient heathen ones. It makes sense that the ancient beliefs would find a good expression there in some ways.
Here are the lessons I have learned from the example the gods have set, and from understanding that there is no objective meaning or purpose to life, and no objective morality:
- There is no point in clinging to pain. Let it go when you can.
- Don’t fear loss and pain. They are unavoidable. Use them.
- Don’t always take the easy way.
- Accept things as they really are, and do not try to fool yourself into believing either wishful thinking or pointless pessimism.
- Enjoy good things when they come your way.
- Don’t cling to good things when they pass from you. It just leads to more pain.
- Endure suffering when circumstances make you suffer. Don’t whine about it, even to yourself. Use it.
- Is it a big deal? No, it almost never is, really.
- Be selfless when you can. Things are more pleasant all the way around that way.
- Be fair and just, but temper those things with kindness. No particular reason why you should, objectively, but subjective counts for a lot. Why not try to make the world a better place?
- Never expect a reward. You probably won’t get one anyway, so why be petty and set yourself up for disappointment? Instead, learn to get value out of your own good deeds, for yourself.
- Try not to be an enormous #^%$#. The world’s unpleasant enough as it is. Why make it any worse?
These ideas seem no worse to me than anything commanded by one of the divine-fiat religions. The heathen gods have taught me to think for myself, and to make my own rules. They have taught me that there is no real meaning or point to life, and they have also taught that that just means that I am free to make up my own. After all, if there is no objective meaning to anything, then any meaning you can come up with is at least no more invalid than any other.
[i] No, Nietzsche was not a Nazi. The Nazis tried to pervert his message to their own ends, but he is actually on record as saying that, if it were up to him, he would have all anti-Semites rounded up and shot.
[ii] Bonus nerdy digression: Well, it is really only sort of similar to his concept of the Ubermensch. He did indeed believe that the Ubermensch would reject divinely inspired morality and concern with the next world, and create their own system of values that would be concerned with bettering the physical world. However, he seems to have believed that the Ubermensch would be a singular being, a person who not only did these things but had such a connection with the rest of society that he could transform it.
Extra bonus nerdy digression: Then again, you could interpret all that stuff he wrote about eternal recurrence as meaning that the Ubermensch was simply an ideal or template that, in a perfect society, everybody would follow. I dunno. I long ago gave up pretending that I really understood Nietzsche.
I mean, the guy’s writing was pretty freaking rambling and incoherent.
Recent conversations with a young relative facing difficult times prompted a conversation that I think bears repeating here.
Heathens have a different relationship with our gods than the people of the major religions do, and as a consequence, we also pray in a different way. We don’t tend to ask to be taken care of, or protected. We might ask for help, we might ask for a specific boon to be granted, but we do not in general look to our gods to take care of us.
To illustrate my point, let me retell the popular “Footprints In the Sand” story from an Odinic perspective.
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with Odin.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to Odin.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked Odin about it.
“Odin, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He yelled, “Of course I left you, you @^%#$ idiot! How the hel will you ever learn anything or become strong if I go around carrying you? Use your head!”
The heathen way is to develop the self, and to try to become a better person, in all the different ways we heathens define that. We heathens do not wonder why there is evil, hardship, and bad luck. We do not expect that our gods will protect us from these things. Instead, we try to use these things to learn and grow.
A happy Yule to you all. May the Hunt ride far from your homes.
I’ve been hearing a lot of bull lately from the Righteous Radical crowd about how any display of piety or call for religious standards is some form of elitism, an example of privilege that must be eradicated. They have taken to calling anyone who believes that they should put the gods first, or have religious standards, the “Piety Posse.”
I try to put the gods first in my life. I believe that we need to have religious standards. I think that anyone who doesn’t believe in religious standards, who does not think the gods are important, is not religious. They are just playing games. They are using our gods, and our traditions, to further their own petty, mundane ends, to pursue their own political goals.
Well, I am declaring my membership in the Piety Posse. We need to have standards. The gods deserve a place of respect and honor. This is our standard:
One of my pet peeves is the pseudo-intellectual BS put out by Dawkins and his uber-atheist crowd of New Skeptics. The cheap debating tricks and bad logic they pass off as scientific work has done a lot of damage to the advancement of human understanding. Now, I have no problem with intellectually honest agnostics and atheists, but Dawkins’ crowd are not intellectually honest. They use all of the same sleazy tricks and are guilty of the same poor reasoning as the people they are constantly complaining about.
This has had the effect of making a lot of heathens and other polytheists make one of two mistakes: either try to “prove” their religious and spiritual beliefs scientifically, or to reject science and rational thought as being somehow opposed to and inferior to religious and spiritual thought. Both approaches are foolish. Neither are in keeping with the way the ancient heathens and other polytheists looked at matters.
I have written an article on the subject that has been published in the Walking the Worlds journal. It is here, if anyone wants to check it out, and the many other fine articles on philosophy and polytheism it contains.