(Some) Asatru U.S style


I cant help it, sometimes when i see Amercan Heathens i feel like i´m watching some bad Viking LARP.

That goes for all the talk of “Folk” and all the “hails” too.

I dont know any Swedish people that greet eachother with “Hail” or “Hielsa” (witch just sounds like misunderstood Swedish).

As a general rule you can hardly distinguish between Swedish Christians,Heathens and the secular majority (not to mention those that are kind of a mix of these…..witch in a sense is our entire culture).

I should make clear that:

1: I do NOT intend to insult anyone here, Heathen,Christian or other.

2: Neither will i deliberatly call all “Folkish” Heathens racists or all “Universalist” Heathens airhead neo pagans (Besides, we actually ARE neo pagans per defenition, EVEN if we are reconstructionists or grew up in a culture saturated with the folklore and extentions of cult and myth as i am).

3: And i do not think the fact that American Heathenry differs from Swedish (generalizing my ass off here) is in anyway “bad” or “wrong”. On the contrary i think its good. The custom SHOULD be adaptable to individuals, circumstances, places and communities. It always was. Even within what is today the nation of Sweden, Heathen cult and customs differed depending on when and where.

You organize in kindreds, we dont,Some of you use terms like “Thorsman”, i have never heard a Swede, even one focusing on Thor calling himself that or having an “patron God” attitude towards it (individuals and even whole areas in Scandinavia sometimes focus on certain mights as etymology shows, but it seems very de emphasized in actual cult, even today in most cases).

Eplagarðr Kindred. Some Heathens dress in Norse garb at special occations, others dont (and sometimes its a matter of practicality rather than choice)

Non of this is what i´m talking about.

Its simply that when i watch an Asatru Kindred video where “the dangers of a monoculture” is discussed where one guy leads the meeting while another guy sits on a chair, doing his best “viking chieftain” with a girl with a logo T – shirt on each side of him, a model longship on a shelf above him and two drinking horns on a table……

…..it feels weird and a bit cult (in the modern use of the word, incorrect as it is) ,LARP ,survivalist…..”i wish i was part of something cool and had a special heritage”….alien, silly.

It also gives me a feeling of self indoctrination by pastor, evangelical style.

I have nothing against boat models or drinking horns and definetely not girls…..especially several of them and in combination with drinking horns (horny?), i guess i just wish fate (not faith), and a trust that our culture(s) are biological enteties that takes care of themself  quite well with much less attitude, roleplay, pretend uniqueness and heritage would more of a base.

Mock history,science or hertage is a much bigger threat to culture than another culture ever was.

Swedish Heathens performing Disa Blot at a boulder.

Dont believe me? Ask a viking. They loved to mix their culture with others.

7 thoughts on “(Some) Asatru U.S style

  1. Ken Agneta says:

    Thanks for this,

    As an American just finding his way to Asatru I have to say I was starting to get turned off by all the talk of Racism and especially the LARP style practitioners and the hails and wassails.

    Luckily from what I leaned so far, this is a religion very much about individual practice identification with the different gods and aspects (for lack of a better term) then joining a “kindred”, which just sounds like “church” to me. Raised as a roman catholic, that just gives me shivers…;)

    I would be very interested to hear from you, as someone who lives the life a little closer to what i think my mindset it, where I can find more information about the traditions and practice that are not as westernized as i am finding. I of course only speak/read English, so this makes it a bit difficult.

    Any direction is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your time, and again for this article! I was getting discouraged, and thankfully fate (and insentient searching) brought me here for some relief!.

  2. In Scandinavia, individual worship is by far the most common (despite there being many heathens per capita here).

    The are groups called “blot lag” that basically just get together for the major blots (one of them consisting of only gay heathens btw. That should piss some “aryan” jail birds off) but most are solo or family based.

    I SHOULD in all fairness say that there are some great kindreds in the US, doing things in a very “true to the spirit” manner.

    One of them is called “Jotun Bane Kindred” and a Mr Stinson who is a member writes a lot on heathenry / Asatru that is both traditional in every way, yet applies well to a modern American Asatruar.

    He, like me, is also of the opinion that historically ,heathenry differed according to region, circumstances and so on (things where done differently among the Geats in western Sweden from how the Sviar / Swedes did it in eastern Sweden for example) and it is only natural that this should be the case today too.

    A Texan finding a “Texan” way, traditional in spirit but still applied to his life in Texas, would simply do what heathens have always done. Making the customs apply to us where we are and when we are.

    If you have a Facebook account, look up “Temple of our heathen Gods”. It is a “Fan Page” shaped to be a resource page for serious, English speaking, heathens and Mark Stinson is the admin so there is a lot of good stuff written on there.

    Having been raised a Catholic you would be glad to hear that there can never be such a thing as a heathen “heretic”. Your beliefs and opinions are yours.

    Heathenry / Asatru being orthoprax ( as opose to orthodox) emphasis is put on your conduct, not your personal beliefs. Thought control is so….boring. 😉

    I will try to find some books / texts in English that i find useful though it´s hard to promise anything (living in Sweden i have a lot for free).

    The Sagas themselves as well as any historical / archeological material will give you a lot of leads. Your common sense is a good thing too, trust it.

    I have blog called “Forn Sed” in witcch i have posted a lot of stuf too, perhaps for a while that can be of some help.

    http://fornsed.tumblr.com/

    Archive (all posts)

    http://fornsed.tumblr.com/archive

    Stay in touch!
    It was good hearing from you!

  3. Arnulf Jeraldsson says:

    As an American Heathen who (sort of) falls into the category that you just described, though not entirely. All I have to say about your article is…fair enough. You’re entitled to your opinion on this, but as for your closing statement just keep in mind that our viking ancestors lived in a different world than the one we are living in now. Globalization as we know it in the 21st century did not exist back then, Another factor that was not present was the active and conscious push for monoculture better known as “multiculturalism” that is enforced by socialist governments, rather than a passive and naturally occuring process of cultural mixing and integration. The need to preserve our folkways, culture, and traditions IS greater than it was back then, like it or not. And yes this is coming from a very American mindset and point of view and hence this could account for some of the differences in our practices.

    As for the LARPishness, not everyone agrees that the modern world is a good thing, it did bring some good things, but we’ve also lost some values in the process. Some people may go too far and seem a bit silly in trying to reclaim this, but eventually I think we will get it right. You’ve heard of the Amish Christians here in the U.S., right? If not, look them up. I like to think of Asatru folk who take this to an extreme as being like that except that they are pagan instead of christian.

    As for my own kindred, we only dress in norse garb, act the part, etc. in blots, sumbel, and on special occasions, not every single moment, and keep the hailsas and all that to a reasonable minimum.

    Anyways there’s my input on the matter.

  4. Arnulf: I can agree with pretty much everything you say.
    It was not my intention to generalize.

    However, a delibarate mixing of many cultures in one place is not really that modern. It was done by the Romans and Greeks since in a way the Roman empire and the Hellenist world was globalized…..it was just a smaller globe. 😉

    Though they made sure that a Roman or Greek identity was emphasized through it.

    I can certainly agree that a lot of values HAS gotten lost and see nothing wrong in searching for them or reclaiming them.

    I dont even have anything against LARPs ( i was in one for seven years). As a matter of fact, if a theatrical type production or roleplaying can bring people closer to what they search, why not use it?

    And using Norse clothes in ritual is fine (some Swedish heathens do that too).
    In the video it was more the feeling of “tough viking dude” that irritated me.

    Many Kindreds in the US (for instance the Jotuns Bane) do a great job and has worked out ways that are really impressive .

    However, to a Swede a video like the one that made me write this in the first place makes things feel a bit alien (and yes, i realize i´m generalizing again. I do not speak for all Swedish heathens).

    Here heathenry is very often as much folklore, tradition and linguistics as it is reconstruction. Christian and secular traditions are often very clearly of pre Christian origin (similar things are clear in areas of Russia, Lithuania and many other places that where Christianized late ).

    Some even have a strictly folkloric form of heathenry (often referred to as “Norrön Sed”) wich does not reconstruct at all but build entirely on folklore, tradition, region and so on.

    Thus here, heathenry feels very much like a “living” tradition, only partly a reconstructed one with people and place names as well as a general “way of doing things” a constant reminder.

    In a sense i might be attempting to preserve my culture too (???).
    Though i do it when i feel that it is getting misrepresented (whether i´m right or wrong).

    My personal view of cultures is that it is right to be proud of history, heritage and so on …for everyone.

    It is far less likely that a conflict occurs between two or more strong, confident people than between people who are affraid and lack self confidence.

    i belive the same is true about groups (including ethnic ones) not just individuals.

    History and heritage are both important and very interesting.

    However it takes sober thinking, intellectual honesty and a lack of “agenda” to understand something that has been gone for this long without distorting or romanticizing it.

    In the end there will be heathens from right to left, Democratic and Republican, reconstructivists and neo versions anyway.

    There always was.

    There is no reasons for why heathens elsewhere should be carbon copies of Scandinavian ones (wich would also be impossible since there is diversion here too).

    There is enough proof that heathenry works just fine in the US and elsewhere.

    There will always be exaggerations, people taking things too far , both in the US, Sweden and any other place (Swedes have a tendency of being too PC for example,) just as there will always be level headed people with a method that works, whether it differs slightly from a related method or not.

    Anyway, thanks for your input!

    Til ars ok frithar!

    M

  5. I wish to clear somethings up, since Marcel is someone who copy and pasted a picture and then posted his broad strokes based on what he saw.
    1.) All but three of the people in the picture are of Eastern Beach Kindred, myself Included.
    2.) The picture was taken during an event hosted by Eplagarðr Kindred. The event is what we call Winter Nights, as in the viking era there were times when neighbors and outlying farmers would gather and feast with one another, as well as praise the gods.
    3.) While some of us do participate in LARP events there is no doubt between the make believe and our beliefs. We are a group of Freemen, meaning we make our own choices. What I mean by that is if people wish to wear the clothing of our ancestors or wear the modern dress there is no difference to us. Some of us believe that wearing the garb helps bring us closer to our ancestors. Since unlike Marcel we can not go in our back yard and have a bevy of rich history linking us to the gods.

    I understand that you, Marcel, did not say that all U.S. Heathens, being defined as those who venerate the Indo-European gods for this statement, act as if they are in a specialized LARP group, but when you have a picture of my kinsmen and myself, while bad mouthing the community, in which I live in, I take offense. I am curious how you can make even these broad strokes of U.S. Kindreds while have an ocean in between you and them.

    Our Ancestors did not have kindreds as far as I know, but what I do know is that the did have groups of individuals who would come together for common goals and pursuits of religious views. Back then, your entire village or rural area followed the same core belief system and when holidays came around: Yule, Midsummer, Winter Nights, etc. the people would come together and feast and Blot with one another. That is what we do as well as give faining to our ancestors and land spirits, which were the main stay of the religion.

    The most interesting thing is that our ancestors put a whole lot of stock into Skalds and Poets because not only did they preserve the history but they entertained. The way the world is to day, if people tried to cling to all the viking ideals, they would all be imprisoned or dead. We are in a world were violence is abhorred, speaking of our respective countries. If people must go forth and pretend to be something they are not can you really call them down when Skalds would do it all the time, to make the audience feel that they are actually apart of the story.

    I know we are different from what you know as Heathen, but the same goes for you to us. My kindred was founded by an Icelander who was raised from day one with the stories and we have found our balance between the ancestors and the modern era. I may have never posted save my face being on this page and feeling I had the need to express how we in EBK do not fit into what you have been lead to believe as the American Heathen Norm.

    A Kindred is not a christian church, it is a group of like minded individuals sharing there beliefs and religion with others. There are no strings, no guilt, and certainly no collection plates. Kindreds are mountains, some filled it shifting dirt and some fill with gold, I think Har, Odin, says it best.

    47.
    Young was I once, I walked alone,
    and bewildered seemed in the way;
    then I found me another and rich I thought me,
    for man is the joy of man.
    Hávamál

    • I feel i might have been a bit sloppy and angry when i was writing this.

      It was in a period when i was feeling more or less bombarded with strange sentiments, incorrect history and weird oppinions.

      Since then i have written a post on some things about US Asatru that i like and admire (and that sometimes are missing here ).

      Neither post, ofcourse, is “general”.
      Nobody could write a post on Heathenry or Heathens anywhere that covered all Kindreds or individuals.

      It is merely my oppinions or observations and might be totally incorrect or unfair.

      Heathenry ,being orthoprax, there are all kinds of oppinions, traditions and “flavors” of it.

      Historically that would be the case too, with farms, villages or groups having the same basic traditions, but with variations suited to them (even looking at Iceland and Sweden is enough to see that there where some differences in how things where done).

      I should also repeat what i have alredy said, any complaints (whining) i have are not about any Heathen community in general, that is, it is not meant to mean the majority of Heathens anywhere (and neither would i prefer Heathenry to be identical everywhere. That would go against it´s nature)but certain tendensies that bugged me at the time.

      I know several kindreds (Asatru and Anglo-Saxon) in the US that i respect and like a lot and who obviously does something that works very well.

      I also know a whole bunch of nutcases in Scandinavia using Heathen symbolism but who would not get any sympathies from most Heathens anywhere.

      I do however sometimes come across all from simple difference of oppinion (wich is as it should be) to people getting upset with me for thinking Fenris worship is silly (or at least not historical).

      There was a period when my feeling was that “my” culture was up for grabs and could be presented anyway anyone pleased without anyone speaking up.

      As a matter of fact i was even told once (on the web) that me, being European (actually the term used was “white”), had no right to complain about anything and should “shut up”.

      If anyone feels that my whining doesent fit them at all, it is probably because it doesent.

      I have stated before that the majority of US Heathens are just that, Heathens that happen to live in the US.

      There are regional differences in Heathenry even within (todays) Sweden and there always have been.

      It is quite common to see “What is your Sed (custom)”, in writing here, indicating that differences are expected.
      There are traditions within families or individual traditions too (as i suspect there are everywhere).

      There ARE people wearing viking age clothes here too and there are also Blóts where the presiding/officiating Godi is wearing special garb.

      I must say i feel stupid for posting pictures in a way that could be understood as if the people on them where the ones i whined about.

      I have practiced thinking twice since i wrote this in an attempt to avoid lashing out at the wrong people.

      Sorry for any offence!

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