Tag Archives: freyr

Confronting Racism in Heathenry

In a Facebook thread, I came across someone asking who the gods reject and how we know that the gods reject them. He also asked if the gods accept offerings from those with white supremacist ideologies and whether those people can be considered Heathen given Heathen literature, mythology, and history. Basically, he wanted to know who determines this since we don’t have a supreme Heathen authority the way that Catholics have the Pope.

Honestly, I think he answered his own question – given our literature, mythology, and history, as Heathens, we are obligated to stand against racism. The history of Heathenry in the United States is not a pretty one, and it is something we must fight against so that we can improve it going forward.

The first Heathen organization in the United States was created in 1974 by Stephen McNallen, who headed the Asatru Folk Assembly until 2016 when it was taken over by Flavel. The Asatru Folk Assembly is listed as a hate group by the Southern Law Poverty Center. Rightfully so – it is due to McNallen, Flavel, and their volk’s rampant racism that Declaration 127 emerged.

Declaration 127 (http://www.declaration127.com/) is a firm stance taken against those who would use Heathenry to promote racism and other forms of hatred. It has led to groups like Heathens Against Hate being formed, and the most inclusive Heathen organization (and the only large inclusive one), the Troth, often issues statements against violence committed by white supremacists and raises funds to donate to charities that combat hatred.

The reality is that there is a history of racism in Heathenry, and, as Heathens, we are obligated to face that fact unflinchingly and then do something to fix it. We cannot prevent what has already happened, but we can definitely do something in the present to combat white supremacy.

As to the question of literature and mythology, many white supremacists have tried to use our lore to justify race-based hatred. That has always been warped and twisted logic, however, as nothing in the lore justifies racism.

White supremacists will look at the tribes of the gods and say that because the Aesir and Vanir so often fight against the Jotnar that it indicates a race-based problem. They forget that Odin, the chief of the Norse gods, is half-Jotun. Loki, who is included among the Aesir, is full-blooded Jotunn. The Aesir and Vanir gods intermarry with the Jotnar at a fairly frequent rate.

On top of that, the tribes of the gods are like familial clans – they aren’t races. The gods are gods, and gods can all take on whatever shape they need to for the purposes they serve; the very idea of racist gods is an extreme perversion of theology.

The question as to whether the gods take offerings from white supremacists is a harder one to answer – or rather, one with an answer that any anti-racist would find difficult to handle. The gods themselves are not human; they are not necessarily going to involve themselves in the politics of humans. They are not here to solve our problems for us; they are not here to get involved in human problems. It is very possible and probable that the gods take offerings from people of all sorts of violent ideologies – that, however, can be said of all gods.

There are white supremacists in all religions; white supremacy is a rising global threat; it is most prominently seen in the United States because the U.S. was founded on the tenets of white supremacy. That said, however, white supremacist terrorism is the most concerning rising global threat; it is on par with the threat of Islamic radicalism.

What makes terrorism so terrifying is the understanding that yes, there are Islamic radicals but that doesn’t make all Muslims terrorists. And yes, there are white supremacist terrorists, but that doesn’t make all white people terrorists either. The terrifying thing, though, is that terrorist acts serve to induce fear in targeted populations of those who *might* be a terrorist.

Turning back to Heathen lore, none of the gods I honor are ones that I can readily associate with supremacist ideology. This is, of course, just the way I see the gods, and people can and will see the gods in different ways. I always speak only from my own experience and vantage point, and I do not ever claim to speak for the gods. I just want to make that clear.

Odin is a god that wanders the world, seeking knowledge wherever it can be found. Racists often stop seeking knowledge and turn a blind eye to new truths. Odin never does that- he always seeks to know more. Would he accept an offering from a white supremacist? Probably, if he feels that the person can offer him knowledge he doesn’t already have or if doing so aids him in his quest to prevent the end of the world. Odin does what he does for self-gain that is meant to serve the world as a whole, and he has done and will continue to do things that humans find grievously offensive in order to prevent Ragnarok. He is very much an ends justify the means type of god, and that can be hard to digest.

That said, Odin is also a god that enjoys inciting war for the sake of war. It may very well be part of his intention to have the anti-racist Heathens fighting against the racist Heathens. I know that the war I feel called to fight against white supremacy is one that Odin issued to me – I am confident that the aspect of Odin I honor is firmly against any type of ideology that promotes hatred and thereby reduces the chance at gaining knowledge that can then be transmuted into wisdom. I will personally only associate with Odins-people who view Odin this way because I strongly advocate against hatred. To me, hatred for the sake of hatred is the most vile expression of humanity’s penchant for depravity.

The next god I honor is Loki, and I feel like I can say with a large degree of confidence that Loki abhors those who hate others without cause. His devotees, Lokeans, are very often comprised of social minorities and misunderstood individuals. To hate someone for an identity they hold is anathema to who Loki has shown himself to be. In my experience with Loki, he gets upset when people judge other people for arbitrary reasons. In fact, I would say Loki is probably one of the *best* gods among the Norse gods to invite to the fight against white supremacy. He understands what it is like to be hated without cause, and it is difficult to imagine Loki ever standing on the side of white supremacists due to his own backstory.

Freyr is a god of frith and peace, but he is also known as the field marshal of the gods. He is the god who will fight to ensure that peace happens. White supremacists threaten frith; they work to undermine peace in society, and they bring weapons into spaces where innocent people are just trying to live their lives. In the lore that we have about Freyr, he is one of the gods most easily riled to anger when peace is shattered – bringing weapons into his temples tended to result in an explosion of anger towards those who threatened his sacred spaces. Freyr is a god of sacral kingship, and he embodies everything good that is possible for a ruler to hold within them. He will protect his people even from himself. When it comes to the fight against white supremacists, Freyr is a powerful ally to have.

Tyr is a god of justice and honor, and he will sacrifice even himself to maintain the order of the world. When Fenrir threatened the gods, it was only Tyr who had the courage to step forward and do what needed to be done, even though Fenrir was his best friend. Tyr understands better than some of the other gods how hard it is to severe a relationship with a close friend due to the danger they pose to the world. It is hard to imagine Tyr willing to back white supremacists in this fight, as he is the god who allowed his relationship with his best friend to be severed for the good of the whole. He is a god that will easily sacrifice one for the sake of the many and place the good of all over the good of a few. White supremacists are a minority, threatened by the rising reality of a multicultural world – this is and has been true of most terrorist groups. They are comprised of the few fighting against the many. Tyr, then, is also a powerful ally to have in the fight against white supremacists.

There are many more gods and many more ways to interpret the stories, though most of the interpretations will demonstrate that the gods themselves have no reason to be found on the side of white supremacists.

Heathen lore and mythology is firmly opposed to the ideologies espoused by white supremacists – it doesn’t take much reading to figure that out.

The unfortunate and painful reality, however, is that people are notoriously bad at interpreting myth in an accurate way and incredibly good at twisting lore to suit their own purposes. No matter the religion at hand, that has always held true – Christians twist things they read in the Bible to suit their own political purposes. They aren’t the only ones – there are religious adherents in all faiths that do that, and Heathenry is no exception.

Heathenry also seems like it is filled with more racists than other religions because inclusive Heathens confront racism and speak and act against it. The truth is that all religions are packed to the brim with racist individuals, some of whom are radical enough in their views to support or become terrorists. The only reason Heathenry seems to hold more is because inclusive Heathens confront racism head-on. The history of Heathenry’s emergence in the United States requires we confront it, change it, and make the world a better place.

It is an issue that we can’t ignore and don’t ignore the way many other religions do. So far, the white supremacists who have committed terrorist acts have not been Heathen. If they have had religious ties, it has been to radical forms of Christianity. Many of them, however, have been secular or non-religious. This is not surprising, as terrorist ideology tends to replace and crowd out all other forms of ideology. Hatred becomes the driving force; the religion of hatred consumes those who come into contact with it if they are not already shored up against such hatred through strong ideologies of their own.

I will not fall into the trap of hatred because my personal ideology is one that promotes the interconnected nature of all people and the importance of life itself. If I am ever forced into a position where I must take someone else’s life to save my own or to save the lives of others – which is the only reason I would ever act in such a way – then I will do so but I will mourn the loss and the terrible situation which forced my hand. Life itself is far too precious to throw away or steal on a whim. In sum, then, life is my ideology. Hatred is anathema to life. Thus I will stand, forever, on the side of life.

Freyr’s Path: Nobility

Nobility is a reserve of inner strength – a type of character strength that not everyone develops. Ancient cultures used to assume that nobility meant being born to a certain bloodline. In modern times, we view that type of nobility as outdated and antiquated. But is it? Were the ancients wrong about nobility being a blood-right?

I’m talking about nobility today because Freyr’s path is a noble path. Yes, he is associated with fertility and considered a very lustful god in some ways, but that isn’t the aspect of Him that I wish to talk about – enough people have done that. What I find interesting about Freyr’s path is the raw inner strength it requires to walk and the noble grace that is required.

When I say raw inner strength, I am talking about mental strength. Physical strength may also be present, but mental strength is the biggest component of a person’s noble character traits. When I say mental strength, I mean a combination of intellectual and emotional strength. To act nobly, we must be able to be smart about our emotional reactions.

If someone threatens my family, then I will react to that threat. That doesn’t mean jumping straight into a fistfight. If the threat is just a threat that hasn’t escalated to actual violence, then jumping into a physical fight isn’t going to do any good. Instead, I have found it’s better to assess the situation. Has the person threatened my family as a joke or is the threat a serious one? If it’s a serious one, have I done something to provoke the threat? If not, why is there a threat being issued at all? What is the mental stability of the person issuing the threat?

In each case, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked before action is taken because the answers to those questions tell me which action to take. Acting with nobility doesn’t mean seeing a snake in the grass and then leaping to kill it immediately. It’s seeing a snake in the grass and asking, “Does this snake actually mean me harm?” Sometimes, the answer is yes. Other times, the answer is no. Even if the answer is yes, direction action is not always the best action.

Freyr is a political genius. He maneuvers the other Gods with a grace that even Loki admires, and that says a lot, considering how much disregard Loki holds for a great deal of the Gods. Freyr makes alliances – he is the Lord of Alfheim, despite not being an elf himself. That, in and of itself, speaks a great deal to me about his strength of character. Someone who is able to go into a realm and become the Lord of the Elves despite not being an elf Himself – well, that’s impressive.

To do something like that requires an incredible amount of political maneuvering, something that used to be done by the nobility of the ancient cultures. They navigated the world by striking bargains and forging alliances. Imagine our political system free of corruption and that is what nobility should be. Informed politicians making educated decisions instead of conforming to popular opinion.

In ancient cultures, nobles weren’t voted into power – they were granted power by their kings. There was no fear of losing the power, as kings didn’t grant nobility to every family who wished for it. I’m not saying no corruption existed there, but I am saying that the corruption was much less then than it is now. Because then you had one king serving his self-interests and granting nobility to those who would support him. Now, we have two parties full of individuals serving self-interests with no true central figurehead, all concerned with popular opinion and what they have to do to stay in power. There’s a huge contrast.

I suppose the best way to put this is that Freyr’s path represents what nobility could be if it were untarnished by corruption. Freyr shows how a lord should behave with his vassals, valuing every insight given and judging every option carefully before making decisions that impact his kingdom. He is a lordly ruler, which makes since, considering his name means Lord.

Some people think about nobility as the stuffy old English guys with handkerchiefs in their back pockets, interested only in the time it takes them to get away from business. But that isn’t how I view nobility. Not only because Freyr is such a shining example of true nobility but also due to my own family history.

On my mother’s side, I am tied to Scotland and a member of the Clan McGregor. The McGregor motto translates from Gaelic as “Royal is my race.” Originally, the McGregors were one of 8 noble lines in Scotland with ties to royalty. I remember my mother telling me that we were of royal blood when I was a small child, and that in the first few seconds when someone of royal blood bled, the blood was purple instead of red. That is obviously 100% false but it was still an amusing tale. But no, I did not go around cutting myself to discover if my mother was lying to me.

Anyway, to get back on topic, it is generally said that there is no actual proof that one’s blood makes them royal. That no one is born to rule. I used to agree with that, but lately, I’ve started to wonder if that’s just a product of the modern age. We are all pretty vehemently against being seen as inferior to anyone else, so any worldview that suggests the opposite tends to be shot down fairly violently.

Royalty in countries with monarchies is a blood right. You are either born into royalty or you aren’t. It has nothing to do with wealth – there have been incredibly poor kings and queens in the history of the world. Doesn’t mean they were any less royal. Logic decrees that royalty must be based on blood-rights.

Most people also don’t think of blood as being all that important. Old family feuds are disregarded because “we don’t do that anymore.” And yet, when I was a child, I went to school with a Campbell. Before I even knew about the violent feud between the McGregors and Campbells – before I even knew that I was descended from the McGregors – I hated him. He hated me. We had an incredibly strong mutual hatred for the other.

By the time I reached high school, I knew about the McGregors feud with the Campbells, so I did what I could to avoid him. One day, however, completely out of nowhere, he came up to with a soda in his hand and threw it at me. I slapped him. Then I walked away before it could escalate. So, I have had personal experience with my bloodline tying me into a blood-feud that I certainly didn’t start. They are called blood-feuds for a reason – they transcend generations and the knowledge of their existence doesn’t matter. I don’t know too much about the logistics of blood-feuds and how they end, but I know they are never settled peacefully. I still get angry thinking about him, and I am generally a rational person. If it had been anyone but him who threw the soda at me, I could have laughed it off as a joke. That’s what I mean – blood-feuds make you irrational.

So, if blood-feuds are real, then it isn’t a hard stretch to imagine that blood-rights for nobility are real as well. My family line has been traced back to ancient kings of Scotland, so I know that I am descended from a noble line. In my immediate family, I grew up poor, but I never experienced the “trailer park” world that is a common story amongst many impoverished families. Instead, I was taught to behave properly. My mother insisted on proper etiquette, and I still find it disquieting when I am in public and someone does something crass. Formality matters to me in a way that it doesn’t matter to others, and I’m keenly aware of it. I’m also aware of how obnoxious it can make me seem, so I do my best to tone it down when I’m around people who don’t appreciate it. Adapting to social situations is a political maneuver as much as forging alliances or making bargains, so it fits within Freyr’s realm.

Talking about this raises a lot of controversial topics that most people prefer to shy away from, but I don’t think that is a good way to represent Freyr. He doesn’t shy away from difficult situations or controversial topics, so I won’t either. I think that Freyr’s path may be one of the hardest ones to walk because it involves understanding many perspectives and then deciding on what is good for the whole rather than for each individual, and the good of the whole must matter more. Understanding priorities is a big theme with Him, and I think the “whole vs. individual” thing is best understood by thinking of it in a family context. When parents make decisions, they try to do what’s best for their children (assuming good parenting skills) even if those decisions anger the child. Nobility, in my mind, is the same concept applied on a much broader scale.

Why I’m a Polytheist

I’m reminded of a conversation I had a few months ago at my school. I was talking to one of my atheist friends about morality, and a girl joined in from where she had been listening. I could have brushed her off as being rude, but I enthusiastically encouraged her to join the conversation because I like seeing things from multiple perspectives. Considering the subject matter, eventually faith was brought up, and she mentioned that she was Christian, so I told her that I was a polytheist. She started asking me questions, which surprised me. In my experience, most Christians aren’t super open-minded. She said she looked at college as a way to explore new things and get new perspectives on life, and I could accept that as an answer. A lot of the questions she asked centered on what it was like to be a polytheist, but she never actually asked me why I’m a polytheist, although I’m sure the question would have eventually come up.

There are a few reasons that I am a polytheist, the first of which is that I’ve multiple experiences with the gods. Loki steals my socks and shows up in the weirdest places. Odin starts me thinking in rhyme. Tyr reminds me that balance and harmony are important. Sigyn demonstrates loyalty and compassion. Freyja teaches me the deeper esoteric meanings of the runes and reminds me that women are powerful forces. Freyr shows me the delights of the wilderness and how important it is to really enjoy life. The gods and goddesses are all around me, so it’s pretty hard not to be swayed by that.

But there are other reasons. One of which is that we, as a species, are drawn to groups. We’re social beings. We build communities in order to survive. In each community, there are smaller sub-groups, but the community still holds together as one. There is, however, more than one community. We continually divide ourselves into smaller and smaller groups. Multiplicity isn’t just a way of life – it’s the way of life we all live, in some fashion or another. Looked at in that context, polytheism just makes sense.

Also, I have noticed a tendency in the gaming world to pray to the rng gods. This is usually said as a jest or out of desperation, but it’s always phrased to the gods. Always plural. We are drawn to plurality like moths are drawn to bright lights (especially the one in my room. I can’t figure out how they keep getting in my house).

I have also amused myself by comparing the gods to the computer programmers who make MMOs run. I mean, take a game like World of Warcraft. Hundreds of people work on the game in dozens of different departments to make it what it is. One person can’t do the work of a hundred. So why are so many people so willing to turn to faiths that insist there be only one God to do all the work. Where’s the logic in that?

I’m sure some people will claim things like “God is omnipotent” so of course, he can do everything. That’s a neat little package of an answer that doesn’t really give any sort of answer at all. My response to a claim like that…”Why would anyone want to do all the work alone?” Also, as an interesting aside – the original Christianity was a polytheistic faith, not a monotheistic one. I wonder what the world would look like now if that had never changed. I have a feeling it would be a lot less stifling.

It still amazes me that Christians act like they are the oppressed. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard Christians say that they are afraid to talk about their faith because they are afraid of being laughed at. In my experience, even when people are uncomfortable around Christianity, they don’t ridicule Christians – no, rather, they stay quiet and try to stay under the radar in order to avoid persecution. I know that not all Christians are persecuting people for beliefs that don’t match theirs, but the truth is, the majority of Christians act like there is no other faith that is acceptable because that is what their faith teaches. Live and let live isn’t a policy written down in those scriptures, but it would make life a lot less stressful if it were.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go on an aside about Christianity, but it happens. I do live in the middle of a Bible Belt, and I am as susceptible to stress as everyone else. I was just thinking about the reasons that I’m a polytheist, and the biggest reason, for me, is that it feels as if we are naturally inclined to believe in multiple gods. Oh, and the fact Loki keeps stealing my socks. Seriously. What is with his sock fetish?

Harvest Songs

It can be relatively difficult to find good pagan music, and since Freyfaxi (or Lughnasadh – whatever you choose to call it) is this weekend, I figured I’d share one of the songs I like.

Also, on an incidental note, for some reason, I’ve always associated Freyr with dragons. Not really sure why, but if anyone else has had a similar upg, I’d love to hear more. If not, I’ll keep trying to puzzle it out myself.

Anyway, here is the song.