In answer to this article: “Why we cannot support the ‘Heathens Against Hate’ web ring… and why we don’t think you should either”
“The groups to which I refer claim to be Asatru or Norse Heathen when in fact they do not practice the Old Northern traditions, and by their actions make it clear that they neither grasp the true nature of Paganism nor know the ways of the Old Gods.”
Neither grasps the true nature of Paganism nor knows the ways of the old gods? I think it awfully presumptuous of a person to say that theyknow the true nature of anything, let alone something as numinous as Haethenry / Paganism .
*Me: In a sense i agree, at the same time, anyone studying the history, archeology, folklore or anthropology of a certain culture will find certain general virtues, vices, popular opinions and so on (naturally with geographical and temporal variations).
If i said that Norse people during the Vendel Age despised equestrians, i would simply be wrong. It is not an opinion and for it to be open to any form of scientific debate there would have to be a ton of attestations counter arguing what we have found so far.
Anyone with knowledge of European history could answer about certain popular opinions, what was considered virtuous and pious and what was seen as the oposite in for instance the Roman Empire, Hellenistic Macedonia or whatever period chosen.*
‘Paganism’. Heathenism is a polytheistic religion, and as such has ‘poly’ (many) views and interpretations, none of them more true than the next. It appears to me that the author is the one who does not grasp the nature of ‘Paganism’ because they are bogged down with what I call “mono-thought”. Heathens may not agree with each other, but we don’t have heretics because our religion is ultimately a very personal one free from dogma and “thou shall not” statements.
*Me: The “Poly” in this case (as anyone knows) has to do with having more than one Deity, not about opinions.
People have always had personal opinions and Heathenry as well as most forms of Paganism is orthoprax, thus on the one hand alllowing you to have your own interpretations, ideas and opinions, BUT, at the same time, “orthoprax” meaning “right conduct” in a sense forcing you to go along with certain parts of cult depending on culture, time and place.
Ancient Greece , Rome and Egypt where all polytheistic (with some exeptions) but still had state parts of cults that you HAD to follow, and not in some “personal” way.
Not doing so would be putting all of society at risk.*
As for the abuse of ‘our’ holy symbols and gods’ names… well all I can say is “when did we become the sole proprietors, fit to decide who can use these symbols and names?”. We don’t own them; we use them. These symbols and names are more ancient than we, and have been in the public domain longer than we have been around.
*Me: We are not and anyone has just as much right to use a hammer as they are to use a triangle. A person does not become a Heathen through my approval. However, if someone misrepresents a culture, its symbols and attributes, re writing history and using bogus science wether that is for hate or just general fluffyness, romanticism and make believe it WILL irritate those that actually study the same culture and live it (in its modern guise) and care for things as they ACTUALLY where, are and can be.*
People of all religions face some degree of prejudicial treatment somewhere in the world, at any given time. This isn’t due to the fact that we are Heathens and they are something else… it has to do with human ignorance and fear of the unknown.
*Me: I´m not one of those anti Christian Heathens. My sister is a Christian and we lived in peace under the same roof, she respecting my blots, i respecting her prayers. Scandinavian history is full of this, those religions living side by side (or as mixes within the same person) , sometimes in the same houshold for hundreds of years.
Yet, it is also true that the main reason for the Roman persecution of Christians where 1: In Palestine, mainly political. One of many Jewish cults that caused the Empire trouble (Jews in general where regarded as troublesome by Rome, they just wouldent bend. Otherwise Rome was liberal towards foreign cults).
2: As a Christian cult (proper. Created to a large part by Peter and Paul) since they refused to take part in the Imperial Cult.
Rome had a number of “foreign” cults and accepted that as long as one took part in the cults called “Mos maiorum”, the general state cults.
After Constantine II making it state religion in the Empire (almost the whole known world) they have since continued their spiritual imperialism and since many religions are connected to culture (like Heathenry) pretty much wrecked the whole cultural plurality of the world. Today native tribes have to be actively protected in order to not be lead into the “right way”. This does not make Christianity bad as a whole. Those that find their strength there, good, more power to them*
Endwords: I find it funny that someone would count up a whole host of varieties of Heathens and make clear that we are entitled to our personal opinions, only to in the next breath tell us that we shouldnt join a certain organization.
I mainly agree with Brian Smith but fear he stirrs up more waters than he calms.
As a reconstructivist i can on one hand agree that there has always been personal opinions, regional differences, differences through time. At the same time i can not agree to some “Do what feels right” attitude. The truth (as so often) has one foot in both camps and things are not quite that simple.