Issues with Ancestor Worship

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.

The Wake of Magellan

Hello there, Gentle Reader, today I am going to talk to you about Savatage’s song, “The Wake of Magellan.” Well, not really, but what I have to say today starts with that song.

I have been listening to a lot of 80s and 90s music lately, and came upon this old classic metal piece by one of the 80’s and 90’s most memorable metal bands (today, many of the band’s former members are in the Trans Siberian Orchestra). It is named “The Wake of Magellan,” and is about a sailor in the days of tall wooden ships, who is contemplating leaving the horrifying world he lives in and just sailing off into the ocean, leaving the world of humans behind, even if it means his death.

One of the lyrics in it really resonated with me: “Don’t hear the sound of tyrants / Surrounded by the silence.” This describes my own approach to life in this world. My life growing up was rough. I’ve never had a place in the human world, and have frequently been told, often violently, that I don’t belong in it. As a young man, I decided to agree with the people who kept telling me this, and left the human world as far behind as I could. In the decades since, I have lived on its margins, having as little to do with it as possible.

There’s another lyric in that song that really stood out to me when I recently revisited this song: “As I contemplate this stand / What I do / Is who I am.” And that is a true statement. That is a very, very true statement. In fact, it’s a downright Odinic statement.

I have always looked with suspicion on people who form their identities around labels that just happen to apply to them. Like people who are all about (and so very proud of) being white, or American, or Fundamentalist, or what have you. These things require no effort, understanding, or sacrifice. If they were food, they would be candy: all sugar, no nutrients. They are nothing more than cheap, effortless ways to feel pride.

That is truly pathetic. What kind of a loser gets their entire sense of pride and identity out of an accident of birth, something that he or she did nothing at all to earn? This is not what Odin teaches. Odin values people who DO things. Warriors, conquerors, heroes, leaders, poets, adventurers, they are all people who are defined by what they DO, not by some meaningless accident of birth. Odin values ACCOMPLISHMENT, and the kinds of people who get their identities from actually DOING things. And that is as it should be. It is only accomplishment that deserves respect. I have lived my life on this principle.

As that song also says, when you’re out on the ocean, you “Don’t see the storms are forming.”

I @&^%$! hate the human world. ESPECIALLY its politics. So I have lived like Odin does, wandering outside that world, only coming back to it once in a while. I have wanted this blog to mostly be about spiritual matters. With some exceptions, I have tried not to get too caught up in current political matters. They are not concerns of my world.

However, the dumpster fire that is currently the modern world, particularly America, has become too big to ignore. And what I do is who I am. Even if the people of the world are not my people, I cannot ignore them while things are like this. So this old sailor is heading back to shore, and the sound of tyrants.

There is little I can do, practically speaking. I am poor, and mostly caught up in a struggle to survive, which is not easy to do living outside the human world. But I do have a platform here, and some kind of audience, however small. And there are voices in the heathen world saying and doing some truly awful things right now. So I have a duty to take a stand. Maybe my voice can reach one or two young ones before they are taken in by alt right Folkie bullshit.

Wake up people. We no longer have to worry about the American government turning into an authoritarian regime because it ALREADY IS ONE. “President” Trump brought in the military to teargas and shoot at peaceful protesters with rubber bullets, American citizens who were exercising their First Amendment rights, just so he could cross the street to have a photo op in front of a church.

THIS IS WHAT AUTHORITARIANISM LOOKS LIKE, PEOPLE!

Trump and his nine-times-damned group of supporters and enablers are traitors. They care nothing for the people, for the Constitution, for the law, for basic human decency, or for anything else. I don’t give a damn about the rigged Senate “trial.” Anyone with half a brain knows Trumpy sold this country out to the Russians in the last election. We heard the tapes ourselves. With my own ears, I heard him invite the Russians to use hackers to alter the course of the 2016 election, just like everyone else did. He betrayed this country to a foreign hostile power, and the damn Republicans stood by and did nothing.

With my own ears I heard him try to pretend the coronavirus now ravaging our world was a Democratic hoax, and use that as an excuse to refuse to take the steps that could have prevented this plague from spreading like wildfire across this country. More than 100,000 Americans have since died preventable, pointless deaths. That’s more than 33 September 11ths, FFS!  And the Republicans provided cover for him, helping him shirk his duties to the American people, all so they could try to jolly the stock market into staying high so they could win the next election and keep their cushy jobs. Trump betrayed the country, and tens of thousands of Americans died as a result. Their blood is on his hands, and no two ways about it.

I have watched him push policies that crush poor people, especially non-white poor people, making their lives unbearable, policies that militarize police, encourage racist police policies, and make the police completely immune from accountability. I watched him, and his Republican cronies, worsen the conditions that led to George Floyd’s death. And when, as is completely predictable for any group of people pushed beyond all limits of endurance, social unrest followed, his response is to go for Kent State mk. II.

And here we are, people. The “President” is speaking of American streets as a battleground, sending troops to illegally attack innocent civilians exercising their Constitutional rights and is threatening to do worse. He is trying to cut unemployment benefits and prevent financial support for anyone who isn’t rich in order to force poor people back into dangerous work places, where thousands more WILL die from the coronavirus, so he can goose the economy and win reelection. He is trying to keep in place the racist laws and policies that killed George Floyd and so many others, ensuring that there will be so many more. Hel, he’s trying to make them worse! And they only have the political power to do this because of decades of truly un-American shenanigans such as gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. They cannot win democratic elections, so they have subverted the democratic process. The Republicans have actually lost every election for a LONG time now. They only keep getting into power by profoundly un-American and anti-democratic political tricks.

We are in a battle for America. Trump and his supporters are traitors. Traitors to America, and traitors to the human race. They obey no law. If they are not stopped, NOW, this country will become fully, openly a tin pot dictatorship, with the last remnants of the democracy this country once was swept aside.

I used to hate the Democratic and Republican parties equally. I used to see them as equally criminal. I still see the Democrats as criminal, but they are still criminal in the ordinary, pedestrian way that politicians have always been criminal. The Republicans, however, have slid into outright cartoonish super-villainy.

I $%^#! hate the Democrats. They’re a bunch of corporate shills and liars who don’t believe in the things they say, by and large. They use people to get elected, and then forget about their promises to any but the rich. But I am still getting out there in November and voting a straight Democratic ticket. It’s become a matter of survival. Look around you. This is what a country looks like just before collapse.

I am $%%@ angry. And if you’re not, then you’ve either had your head shoved firmly up your ass for some time now, or you’re one of the people I’m angry at. Trump is a traitor. His enablers in Congress are traitors. And if, after all of this, you still support him, then you’re a traitor too. And in that case, don’t bother writing to me with your arguments, outrage, or vitriol. I will just delete your comments and ban you.

I do not hear the words of traitors.

And because this world is effed up enough that this still needs saying:

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

More Attempts to Be the Popes of Heathenry from the Wild Hunt Crowd

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.

Hail Odin.

Wayland Skallagrimsson

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.

On Being a Man

Recently I ran across the following piece of advice in an online conversation:

“If you want to be a man, just be yourself. Never let anybody else tell you how because a true man already knows how to be one.”

This is a truly terrible piece of advice. It is so terrible that I feel moved to write something about what being a heathen has taught me about being a man, especially as this is not the first time I have seen somebody giving this bad advice.

Being a man, a real man, takes a lot of work. It requires a lot of learning. This is because you aren’t born a man, you are born a male, and nothing more.

Being a man means keeping your head in the middle of chaos and disaster, and acting with thought and deliberation no matter what.

A man knows his own worth, and does not crave the approval and attention of everyone else. He does not let the hatred of others stop him from doing what is right, nor does he let his desire for their love lead him into doing what is wrong.

A man knows how to handle rejection with grace.

A man does not sit fuming and raging when he fails or is rejected. Instead, he looks deep inside himself and tries to learn from the experience.

A man should be a stand up guy. He does what he knows to be the right thing, even if it costs him. A real man does not turn a blind eye to injustices done to others. A real man should be something of a hero.

A man is a creature of will. He keeps going when he needs to, even when hope is gone, or when his body gives out.

A man learns. A real man does not admire ignorance. A man never assumes he already knows everything he needs to know.

A man is able to risk it all on a roll of the dice, and accept both success and failure with equanimity and a smile.

A man should believe in things like Honor, Mercy, and Justice. Not because these things are real. They aren’t. A man should believe in them because they’re the only things worth believing in.

A man is someone who can meet death with a smile and a jest.

A man should be able to fight effectively, and should also know how to resolve issues without fighting.

A man is someone who can go it alone when needed, and also cooperate when needed.

A man should be able to cook and clean, to sew and mend, to change diapers and read bedtime stories, to heal injuries and comfort the bereaved.

These things are not things you get automatically, just because you were born with testicles. They require work, self discipline, character development, and introspection. Most cannot manage these things. There are, unfortunately, many males in this world, but very few men. A man is somebody who works hard to be a man.

Morality, This World, and the Next

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.

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[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.

Some Pagans Are Getting Fooled Again

Before bringing the conversation around to a truly unsettling trend in both the heathen and larger pagan communities, allow me a brief reminiscence of my days in college, to set the context for it.

Although I was a science major, I had a keen interest in politics, and got onto the student senate. In those days, at that university, the student senate was responsible for distributing $1 million to student activity groups each year. Each group would make a proposal, come before us, and get operating money. We were mostly a rubber stamp process, and served only to weed out misuses of funds.

When I served, the rest of the senate was composed of liberal Democrats. I, of course, am a radical moderate, meaning that I subscribe to no –ism or –ology, but make up my own mind about issues on a case by case basis. When the Conservative Interests of America group came before us (yes, the CIA), they barely got their pitch out before a senator made a motion to deny them funding, and was seconded. When I asked why, I was told outright that the other senators saw this as their opportunity to shut down Republican-oriented programs on campus, and advance their own political agendas. They spoke as if it was obvious that I should see these young Republicans as the “bad guys.”

Now, I didn’t think much of the CIA group. I found their hawkishness of foreign policy and disregard of collateral casualties repugnant. I found their supply side economics theories as ridiculous as Laffer’s napkin drawing. I thought their opposition to basic assistance to the poor that their business-oriented Randian fantasies had created was hypocritical. I also knew many of them personally, and thought they were mostly %&*@#$!-bags. Yet still, I stood up to defend them. I filibustered for hours, until I had annoyed my fellow senators into giving the CIA its funds.

Why? Well, it was my job to disburse the funds impartially and fairly, for one thing. But there was a larger principle involved. America is founded on certain fundamental ideals that are supposed to be so important that they trump everything else. One is freedom of speech. Everybody, no matter how dumbass or repellant, has the right to speak his or her mind, and advance his or her ideas. Another core American ideal is that we are a melting pot of different cultures and ideas. The American ideal is that of many different tribes, each pulling together in some ways and in different directions in others, working out the answers between them. Because we are different, we have different beliefs. To make the melting pot work, we have developed standards of public, civilized behavior that draw boundaries for conflicts between different tribes.

What my fellow senators did that day was profoundly un-American. You know what else is? The emergence of the new violent extremists on the left. The kind of people you can find all too often these days over at Gods and Radicals. The kind that are increasingly trying to take over modern paganism, and turn it into an extremist political instrument.

I wrote recently about the call for McCarthy-esque witch hunts from some of the Gods and Radicals crowd, to eliminate “wrong-thinking” pagan elements, such as heathenry. I considered that to be the end of the matter, as I had said all I had to say on the subject. Then I saw more of that crowd writing about a whole new batch of truly disturbing things, and now feel I must speak again.

I am not providing a specific link, as I have no wish to start a flame war, and my point isn’t the specific words of one person or another. Anyone paying even minimal attention lately knows the kinds of writings I am talking about. People advocating going to Trump rallies and trying to shut them down. Trying to use violence against Trump rally-goers in an attempt to intimidate them into staying home. People claiming that this is the truly Pagan thing to do, and that it is a form of sacred warriorship.

Bull$&!^. It’s fascism, pure and simple. It is profoundly un-American. Parts of it border on terrorism.

It is also astonishingly hypocritical. These people love to present themselves as freedom fighters, anarchists, and rebels, standing up to the obviously fascist Trump. Yet they use repressive, fascistic techniques to accomplish their aims.

These people are not rebels. They are not freedom fighters. There is nothing sacred about what they do. All they are is closet aristocrats. They do not actually value freedom, as they are proud of denying it to those who do not think as they do. They just want to be the ones who are in charge.

There’s an old song by The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It contains the lyrics:

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

You know what? These closet aristocrats, these phony freedom fighters, are exactly who The Who were warning us about.

Don’t get me wrong. I am passionately anti-Trump. The man is clearly a racist, crypto-fascist demagogue with an IQ even smaller than his hands. He is a dangerous, petty halfwit who could easy take America down the road Germany went in the 30s, were he to ever get power.

You know how I’m going to deal with that? I am going to vote against him. Like an American. Like a true lover of freedom. I will let him have his rallies. It is his right to.

To the new extremist pagan left, I would say that you have stared too long into the Abyss, and you have not taken care when fighting monsters.

I would also say that you seem to be a load of halfwits. You are doing more damage to the causes you claim to honor than Trump ever could. He was the one with the violent, fascistic rallies. He was the one encouraging un-American violence and suppression of political enemies. He was well on the way to discrediting himself in the larger electorate’s eyes. He was well on the way to showing what he really was, and making a sharp distinction between his toxic politics and the politics of those who oppose him.

Then you Bozos go and change the narrative. You snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You make it clear that violence and fascistic jackasses come from the left, too, and make Trump seem less of an extremist problem relative to them. You even let HIM take the moral high ground, and publish speeches denouncing the un-American violence of your crowd.

Way to go, losers.

I am a man of Odin. I hear my god calling me to stand by my ideals, and not compromise them in order to score a cheap hit. Paganism is not politics, and it is most certainly not your brand of extremist, bumbling, grandstanding, un-American idiocy.

Revenge of the Son of the Bride of the Culture War: Part III

I think I am starting to get sick of Gods & Radicals as an organization. They seem to have a toxic, overprivileged culture that keeps leading members to say some really inappropriate things. The dust from Rhyd Wildermuth’s declaration that all pagan religions that do not toe the Gods & Radicals line be viewed as potential or probable right wing fascist fronts has not even settled, and another member has posted THIS little rant.

Is a left wing, multicultural Asatru possible??? SERIOUSLY???

Mr. Burley, you are clearly not a heathen. You clearly haven’t bothered to meet any actual heathens, or actually get to learn our lore or history in any way. You are doing nothing more than hijacking our traditions, and using us as a prop in your stupid little political efforts.

Not cool. In fact, you have taken it to truly bigoted levels of cultural appropriation.

The KKK had always been devoutly Christian, and claim the Bible’s sanction of their bigoted beliefs. Do you ask if a left wing, multicultural Christianity is possible? Do you ask the same thing of Islam because of a few terrorists? Do you believe that because there are some Jewish people who are heavily orthodox and insular that you must ask if multicultural Jews can even exist? Do you believe that nativist Buddhists in Myanmar mean that all Buddhists are knee jerk, right wing, nativist fanatics?

You have clearly never actually met any heathens, Mr. Burley, or you would be aware that, although we have our own problems with right wing fascist nativist racists, just like many other religions, most of us are not like this. Your asinine question indicates that you are not aware of MAJOR elements of our modern history.

As you seem to think it appropriate to make judgments and condemnations of us without having bothered to do even minimal research, let me provide the history lesson you skipped. The modern heathen/Asatru movement was pretty disorganized in the eighties, the decade it really got going in. Anyone who said they were heathen was accepted as such. Then there was a series of schisms around the end of the decade, into the nineties. One of the most major of these, the one you could not have possibly missed if you had done even a cursory amount of research into us, was the schism between Folkish and Universalist heathens. And also Tribalist heathens, but they were more of a minority at first. The other two groups were dominant.

In other words, the movement that birthed the Folkish heathens also birthed the other major camp, the left wing, multicultural heathens. You know, the ones whose existence you doubt.

Today, both Folkish and Universalist heathens have moved into the background in favor of the more common Tribalist heathens. We are neither left nor right wing. We are not fascists. We reject racists. WE are the dominant form of heathenry, if you look at the actual numbers.

So your snide little comments about “the clear association between Heathenry and an openly racialist subculture,” and “But what is it about Asatru that creates a trajectory towards the folkish interpretation,” are, at best, disingenuous, and at worst actual lies.

Our religion, our gods, are not props in your political struggles, Burley. You use us. You insult us. You misrepresent us. Fuck you.

I have been in the heathen scene for a long time. I have written a lot, and run groups. I have spent a lot of that time and effort in fighting fascism. Like any true heathen, I have stood up against the right wing and fascist elements in my religion. But that does not make me left wing. I also stand against you and your left wing brand of fascism, Burley. You and your Gods & Radicals buddies are every bit as bad as the right wing variety. And I will take just as strong a stand against you. We don’t need Folkies stealing our traditions and pushing their own agenda with it. And we do not need a load of crypto fascist anarchist neo-maxi Zoom dweebies doing it either.

A Lesson for Mr. McNallen

Well, the Chicken Little Brigade is at it again. Stephen McNallen, self proclaimed scientist, self proclaimed psychic warrior hero, and anti-Mexican doomsday prophet has announced his and his terrified legions’ desire to bring back the old Nazi gangs that used to roam around murdering minorities. When called on this, he responded with the following asinine statement:

“IF YOU ARE READING THIS HOPING TO FIND MY ABJECT APOLOGY FOR OFFENDING THE POLITICALLY CORRECT DON’T BOTHER”

Mr. McNallen, let me explain some things to you, as you evidently lack the wits to understand them for yourself.

Political correctness is not some kind of censorship. It is not some kind of thought control.

You see, people who actually have grown up are polite. We try to get along, and see other people as they actually are. We try to see past the stupid blind assumptions that irrelevant surface level differences make.

We do not really think like you and your army of terrified bigots deep down inside, but are too afraid to admit it. We do not censor our thoughts or our speech.

We don’t have to.

You see, the thing is, society has been making a lot of changes, over the last century. Some people have realized that we need to have high standards. We need to eliminate the scourge of intellectual weakness, and stupidity-fuelled hatred.

That political correctness thing you keep whining about? It’s not censorship. It’s standards. Actual grown ups have realized that we need to call a spade a spade. We need to call losers like yourself out, who are driven by stupidity and hate.

There is no censorship. There is no thought control. You only think that. You know why?

Because you are losers. You are morons. You are driven by hate. You cling to ancient bigotries, and refuse to grow up. But oh no! The rest of society has moved on, and left you behind! The rest of us have grown up!

Well, you lack courage. So you hide your true faces. You hide your true intentions. You adopt the language of your betters, of people more mature than you, and use it to fool people into thinking you are something you aren’t. So that the rest of us don’t call you on your stupidity.

We aren’t censoring you. You are doing that to yourself. Because you are dishonest. You have the freedom to believe any damn idiot thing you want.

And we have the freedom to call you what you really are: bigots. Idiots. Barbaric halfwits who cannot see past their own fondly cherished traditional prejudices.

We don’t want you to act or think differently than you actually are. We want a world where people actually are grown up, and part of that is pointing at the children who refuse to.

Grow up. Your antics aren’t even funny anymore. You and all those like you are the real threat to our society.

New Folkie Code

My attention was recently brought to some complaints Folkies have been making about my work in public forums. Now, this is nothing new: my firmly anti-racist heathen writings have earned me the hatred of that crowd for many years now. Every couple of months, I receive some foaming at the mouth rant from one of them.

Apparently, they lack the courage of their convictions when speaking in a public place, however. Not daring to expose their true beliefs to others not like themselves, they have developed a code that allows them to criticize beliefs like mine in public without exposing themselves to ridicule. The new Folkie code for anti-racist writing is “getting political.” As in “Wayland Skallagrimsson’s new book really disappointed me, because he ‘got political’ instead of sticking to heathen issues.”

Well, I have two things to say about that. One is that is an especially weaselly, cowardly way to make a complaint. If you actually believed you were in the right, you’d act like a REAL heathen and speak up publicly and honestly. Our people believe in courage and honesty. The other is: the race issue and Folkism ARE heathen issues. You chowderheads made them into heathen issues by hijacking our religion and bending it to suit your purely social, political, racist issues. You are the ones who are trying to steal our religion and make it out to be all about race. You are a bunch of cowardly social engineers who have decided, like many social engineers before you, to use religion to manipulate people. I, as an actual priest of that religion, am now forced to correct the lies you have spewed out about us.

And seriously: why are you even reading my work? I have made it clear to you from the beginning that I despise Folkism, Folkies, and all your works. Folkism is not heathenry. Racial beliefs are not now and never were heathen beliefs. In other words, my work is not for you. I am writing for actual heathens.

It is, though, a hopeful sign that these cravens feel the need to disguise themselves and their real issues. The world is not what it was. A generation ago these losers could freely and openly speak in public without fear of censure. The times they are a changing. If all of us true folk work hard and do not back down from this fight, we can drive the Folkie scourge into the pages of history, where it belongs.

Christian Day Debacle, Follow-Up

Well, it looks like the crazy brigade has come out to support Christian Day, the rape-advocating super-tool I discussed in my previous post. Two members of the Hellenic community, Brandie Elaine and Todd Jackson, have decided to back up Day’s “right” to endanger people’s lives and encourage rape.

Mr. Jackson has even upped the ante, posting this little gem of insanity:

“For the record, I don’t really believe in free will except in the most superficial sense … whether you consent has already been decided. The future – in which you did or did not consent – exists already. We experience it as a futurity, and think we have choice. This is an illusion, like the passage of time itself.

Apparently Mr. Jackson is attempting to become the Cee Lo Green of the pagan community. Well, Mr. Jackson, sophomoric philosophical positions do not magically disprove the need for consent, or justify rape.

Rape is wrong, people. No ifs, ands, or buts.