If he be worthy
November 6, 2017 12:04 PM   Subscribe

What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion White supremacists are coopting Norse heathen symbols. Should the heathens ignore them? Protest them? Create a new theology?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (97 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
white supremacists are coopting Norse symbols like Thor’s hammer because they believe the Vikings were a pure white race

Next thing you know they'll be coopting ancient pagan symbols like the swastika.
posted by XMLicious at 12:17 PM on November 6 [19 favorites]


I do like to think about how much they must be losing their shit about the new Thor movie.
posted by Artw at 12:20 PM on November 6 [17 favorites]


Fucking Nazis ruin everything.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:21 PM on November 6 [38 favorites]


Also, fucking Nazis ruins everything. Don't fuck Nazis.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:22 PM on November 6 [46 favorites]


If you're shocked by Neo-Nazis borrowing Norse heathen symbols, you've not been paying attention to Neo-Nazis any time in the last... 60 years?
posted by SansPoint at 12:22 PM on November 6 [20 favorites]


I got a Mjölnir pendant when I got into weightlifting because, y'know Thor's strong and all that.

Now I don't even know if I should wear the thing.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:24 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


It's getting so you can't even ritually strangle someone to Odin anymore. Damn Nazis ruin everything.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:24 PM on November 6 [7 favorites]


In related news, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a joy to play. You get to kill/maim a lot of digital Nazis. It's very satisfying.
posted by Fizz at 12:25 PM on November 6 [9 favorites]


Burning a wickerman to ensure a good harvest remains pure.
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on November 6 [12 favorites]


Great timing on this. I was on a flight from DC to LA this week squished next to a big guy with some tattoos that looked mildly Viking or Norse. I didn't want to assume anything from runes and a big guy with horns, so it took until I found the Celtic cross and the Iron Cross to let me know that this wasn't your average guy proud of his Scandinavian heritage. I assume the rest under his clothing were worse. I decided to stay off of MSNBC for the flight and since it was 100% full, I just laid low and watched Wonder Woman. Thankfully we ended the flight before he got massively drunk. It sucked, but I survived.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:25 PM on November 6 [17 favorites]


Here in Witch City, USA we have a Norse shop that is unfortunately on the racist side of things. They were able to keep things on the downlow for awhile, but eventually word got out. It's hard to hide behind the "racists co-opted our symbols!" when you're also stocking pamphlets and sharing Facebook posts by said racists.

Given the Satanic Temple spent most of October counter-protesting against the street preachers, I'm just waiting for the Norse shop to stick their foot in it again, leading to the most van-mural worthy protest of Wiccans and Satanists lining up against Norse shamans.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:25 PM on November 6 [47 favorites]


I do like to think about how much they must be losing their shit about the new Thor movie.

See, I was going to make a joke about how Nazis really hate Jeff Goldblum.

Then I realized they probably actually do hate Jeff Goldblum. Because Goldblum.

Which really tells you all you need to know about them. Because who could hate Jeff Goldblum?

Goldblum
posted by leotrotsky at 12:28 PM on November 6 [36 favorites]


robocop is bleeding - I'd be so down with that protest!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 12:28 PM on November 6


So when you google "Asatru ancestry" you find a lot of links like this which says

"Because we are more like our ancestors than we are like anyone else. We inherited not only their general physical appearance, but also their predominant mental, emotional, and spiritual traits. We think and feel more like they did; our basic needs are most like theirs. The religion which best expressed their innermost nature - Asatru - is better suited to us than is some other creed which started in the Middle East among people who are essentially different from us. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are alien religions which do not truly speak to our souls."

and this which says

Ethnicity, Ancestry and the Family form THE main cornerstone of ALL traditional indigenous religions worldwide and throughout the ages. Asatru is the spiritual path largely and firmly based on the ethnicity, culture and heritage of Northern Europe, and it is our sacred duty to keep it so.

so it kind of seems like this is a pretty fertile breeding ground for racist ideas even beyond the aesthetic co-optation by nazis? Or am I missing something?
posted by Krawczak at 12:29 PM on November 6 [11 favorites]


They're digging in the wrong place.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:31 PM on November 6 [8 favorites]


I don't understand why people react to coverage of issues like this by insinuating the people covering it must be shocked. "You're shocked? I'm not shocked. Unlike you, I've been paying attention."

You might not intend it this way, but it's effectively shitting on the idea that it's worth discussing, while positioning yourself as superior because you've known about the issue for long enough to be over it. We get it, you're jaded and world-weary.

Nothing in this story suggests that this is a shock. In fact, the story goes into the history of Germanic paganism and it's co-option by the Nazis. I even learned something about how some contemporary practitioners are organizing (or not)--that is, it contained new information for me and it was worth reading, even though I am also jaded and world-weary.

So, yeah. I wish we'd see less shitting on articles in this way, honestly.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:32 PM on November 6 [72 favorites]


I used to follow an artist on the internet who paints a lot of norse saga based stuff and was obviously really into it. I'm pretty sure he's not anyway racist (he's got a non-Caucasian wife for a start).

He was comissioned by this pagan temple that's not a million miles from where and I thought it might be cool to pay them a visit and photograph it in situ... but I've never got around to it - mainly time / money but also 'oh god, what if Nazis?!' (also I've watched / read way too many folk horror stories)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:35 PM on November 6


“There’s more to heathenry than just the fight against racist groups,” Pohl said, adding that to get this point across, heathens need “a combined strategy” that blends internal theological work, public political activity, and education geared at non-heathens. As for educating heathens with racist leanings, the most important thing is to be able to offer them a richer, more compelling vision. “If we can offer a sense of community and a sound theology, I think it’ll be easier to explain to people why the blood-and-soil idea makes no sense historically or spiritually,” she said. “The best way to get people to come over to the bright side is to simply be cool.”

Failing that, there will be pillaging, right?

I was promised pillaging.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:36 PM on November 6 [6 favorites]


The Thor movies are Marvel's attempt to improve their standing with the all-important Nazi demographic, right? That does make their choice of a director for Ragnarok into kind of a mystery...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:39 PM on November 6


I confess, I had no idea that Asatru was a "real" religion. A few months back while hiking at McCloud Falls near Mt. Shasta, California, my SO and I ran into a bunch of people wearing shirts with slogans and Norse imagery that looked and sounded vaguely white power-y. Asshats of Odin, or something along those lines. They had a cute dog, and I asked them if I could pet her. This guy just grunted, and I reach down to pet the dog, and see swastikas on the dude's ankles. I get up and see the other guy had the white power cross tattooed around his nipple. I look around and notice that a good 15-20 people frolicking around the falls were encrusted with Norse and Nazi imagery. Being a Jew, and having had more than my fair share of run ins with these kinds of animals, I felt the desperate need to get us out of there. I whisper to my SO, "we need to get out of here NOW". We got out of there. SO was very much, "WTF why did you do that??" She's lucky in that, she's been totally ignorant about much of the imagery. So I explained the symbols. She hadn't seen the swastikas.

Later on, I googled the shit I saw on these people's shirts. I saw mentions of Asatru, and just assumed it was some neo-Pagan White Supremecist "hey lets give our hate a sweet origin stroy, bro" bullshit. It feels better to know that there's actually something legitimate and non-hateful behind it. Man, Nazis really DO ruin everything.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:46 PM on November 6 [36 favorites]


I'm pretty sure he's not anyway racist (he's got a non-Caucasian wife for a start).
I forget who it was who told the story of this white lady and her black husband, the latter of whom standing by silently as the former berated the black narrator with racist epithets... I could go on, but in short: nah, being married to someone of a different race means nothing. I would add "except that he at least doesn't care about 'miscegenation'", but given that there are conservatives who loudly protest abortion while pressuring women into having abortions, I can't even add that clause with 100% confidence.
posted by inconstant at 12:47 PM on November 6 [29 favorites]


I'm Danish. I'm also automatically suspicious of anyone with any kind of Norse symbolism on their person, skin, clothes, etc. The suspicion redoubles if I'm outside Nordic countries, and if they respond with a confused look to a question in Danish.
posted by Dysk at 12:48 PM on November 6 [27 favorites]


That was an interesting read, thanks for sharing.

I really liked this line: “If someone wants to go spelunking for mythological justifications of ethnic superiority, they’ll hit pay dirt in the texts of almost any religious tradition”

I am curious if they can 'prove' or push for more progressive leaning interpretations of the faith and if they can get that to penetrate the public consciousness. Also, joking aside, movies like Thor can be good ways to push this stuff forward (even if it's in the realms of co-opting). The very first Thor movie got a bunch of white supremacists up in arms because Heimdall was played by Idris Elba.

(Edit: and yeah, being Finnish most of this stuff used is by racists and biker gangs and racist biker gangs.)
posted by slimepuppy at 12:49 PM on November 6 [7 favorites]


It is interesting they are using the term "heathenry" so consistently as if to distinguish themselves from Neo-Pagans. Both try to recontextualize dead religions and both apply modern morality to it, so they seem like they should be fast friends. As far as I can recall, Neo-Pagans that identified with the Norse mythos, called their tradition Asatru as well. But clearly there is some sort of beef between Asatru HQ and Neo-Paganism.
(I am not a member of either community. If someone knows better, I would be interested to hear the dirt)
posted by munchingzombie at 12:50 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, folks, the real American Nazis are Christians. They look suspiciously like normal every day Republicans.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:50 PM on November 6 [8 favorites]


The Thor movies are Marvel's attempt to improve their standing with the all-important Nazi demographic, right? That does make their choice of a director for Ragnarok into kind of a mystery...
Nah, the Thor movies have been upsetting the white supremacists from the start by casting Idris Elba as Heimdall.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:51 PM on November 6 [28 favorites]


Fighting White supremacists and Nazis in Heathenry isn't new, just exhausting and never-ending.

Fucking Nazis ruin everything.
posted by RhysPenbras at 12:55 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


I researched this a bit recently, and basically there are two large and fully entrenched camps among Heathenism. The "Everyone can be a part of it" group, and the "Whites Only" group. It's not just a fringe matter of Nazis trying to co-opt the iconography, this is a schismatic thing that's been going on for a long time with a lot of adherents on both sides within the faith, except with one camp being explicitly white supremacist.
posted by kafziel at 12:55 PM on November 6 [6 favorites]


I know a number of Asatruar, and this has been an issue for a number of years. (Fifteen years ago, staying with a friend between two events, I actually met Diana Paxson, which was interesting.)

They've been trying very hard to get the racists who use the 'well the Nazis like it' excuse to claim their connection, to the point that one of the bigger US groups ended up expelling a bunch of them from their larger organization, which resulted in attempts at arson amongst other things.

(Don't look at me, I study Druidry and the organization closest to my interests has an explicit no-racists policy.)
posted by mephron at 12:58 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


See also pre-Anglo Celtic imagery, le sigh...
posted by en forme de poire at 12:58 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


who could hate Jeff Goldblum?

Nazis, uhh, find a way.

posted by saturday_morning at 1:03 PM on November 6 [40 favorites]


Nah, the Thor movies have been upsetting the white supremacists from the start by casting Idris Elba as Heimdall.

Plus it'll make you space gay.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on November 6 [10 favorites]


The buzzword for racist Nordics is "folkish;" watch out for any group that uses it or says things like "we are sympathetic to the more folkish groups."

My husband, who grew up in northern Sweden with some ties to traditional religion there, alternates between calling them "Asafalse" and "Asaholes."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:13 PM on November 6 [40 favorites]


I'm pretty sure he's not anyway racist (he's got a non-Caucasian wife for a start).

I forget who it was who told the story of this white lady and her black husband, the latter of whom standing by silently as the former berated the black narrator with racist epithets... I could go on, but in short: nah, being married to someone of a different race means nothing. I would add "except that he at least doesn't care about 'miscegenation'", but given that there are conservatives who loudly protest abortion while pressuring women into having abortions, I can't even add that clause with 100% confidence.


I'm not saying just because you marry out of your race it automatically means you are non-racist. It wasn't the only indicator.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:19 PM on November 6


The time for pagans to protest about this was probably the late 1800s, because modern paganism grows from the same Romanticist soil that spawned Germany's völkisch movement.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:28 PM on November 6 [8 favorites]


Arguably since some view marriage as a patriarchal institution that inherently oppresses women, marrying someone nonwhite might be taken by some as a conscious attempt to enslave them, so yeah, not sure marrying outside your race is always self-evident evidence of non-racism. Hell, my own grandmother admitted to me once (after I was an adult in college) part of what had drawn her to my half-native American grandfather was the fact “mulattos” like him at the time were reputed to be well endowed, a racist generalization, albeit it maybe not a negative one except for the tradition of racists emphasizing the bestiality and sexual vigor of nonwhites for discriminatory motives.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:29 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Krawczak: So when you google "Asatru ancestry" you find a lot of links like this

That would be Stephen McNallen, whose legacy, in Asatrú and pagan circles generally, is... problematic. He insists that he's not racist, except that his insistence that Asatrú properly "belongs" to some notional race that he terms "European" is literally racist.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:30 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Ethnicity, Ancestry and the Family form THE main cornerstone of ALL traditional indigenous religions worldwide and throughout the ages. Asatru is the spiritual path largely and firmly based on the ethnicity, culture and heritage of Northern Europe, and it is our sacred duty to keep it so.

Well hoo boy do I have news for all the Nazis! I'm directly descended from Vikings, and have a few things to say about their "indigenous religions." It turns out there are several. Who'd have thought, what with human beings always being identical everywhere, right? Plus everyone on earth speaks the same language, especially Vikings, who all spoke Viking, which everyone knows and is why everyone else also speaks Viking.

Okay I've finished with the cheap shots.

I am actually descended from actual fucking Vikings. My Viking ancestors eventually turned into Lutheran priests (a traditional indigenous religion! no seriously where do you think religion comes from, it's either indigenous or it doesn't exist, humans create it) who slept with women out of wedlock (family!) and had children they supported in spite of their religious profession. The one for which they were priests, remember. One of the key ancestral traditions in my family that goes back as far as we can trace is having at least one daughter named Anna. (Yes, there are cases where more than one daughter had a derivative of Anna alongside an actual Anna.) Oh hi my name's Anna, and I was named by my Norwegian grandfather. I have blonde AND brown hair and blue AND green eyes – sectoral heterochromia. So my multicolored ancestral Viking self says Nazis can piss off.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to hold up the cornerstone indigenous tradition of vaffel og kakker med kaffe.
posted by fraula at 1:30 PM on November 6 [43 favorites]


Me, too, fraula. Solidarity in hating those Nazi fuckers!
posted by saulgoodman at 1:32 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


I'm so relieved to read this. I was somewhat worried that Julian Cope had crossed over to the dark side, as Norse mythology and heritage are prominent in his more recent music. He's probably rightfully pissed about it being co-opted by assholes.
posted by vverse23 at 1:40 PM on November 6


These days I generally avoid anyone who considers their heritage to be anything beyond a fairy tale of amusing and "upworthy" anecdotes.
posted by dmh at 1:48 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


But clearly there is some sort of beef between Asatru HQ and Neo-Paganism.
(I am not a member of either community. If someone knows better, I would be interested to hear the dirt)


I'm Neo-Pagan, of a group that's pretty similar to Wicca from the outside. (From the inside, I could rattle on for days about how we are not Wiccan.)

There are people who believe that Wicca is Paganism for women and Asatru is for men. It's not true, but that's probably how about 80% of the participation splits. There are probably more women in Nordic traditions than men in Wiccanesque ones, but in both, that's the exception.

For a long while, Asatru claimed to be following "the religion of their ancestors" and claimed Wicca was "that new-agey made-up stuff." Asatru and several other "reconstructionist" religions are prone to groups that hold the witchcraft religions in contempt. (Other recons: Greek|Hellenistic, Egyptian|Kemetic, Roman|Religio Romana , Celtic, various others.) (Celtic recons vs modern druidry is a fascinating tangle of arguments.)

When most Neo-Paganism was "covens holding rituals in circles," the tensions were minor. When the Neo-Pagan explosion hit in the late 90's, "eclectic solitary" became trendy and soon outnumbered those who'd ever met another Pagan. A lot of new-age, random Buddhism, and what's now called "mindfulness" drifted into Paganism, along with a whole lot of fluff.

A lot of Asatru groups decided Wicca and everything connected to it was inane young women insisting they were dark and powerful, and yet somehow couldn't hex their way into a decent job. (Or, claimed they were the chosen daughters of the goddess, yet somehow couldn't cast a "blessing spell" to get themselves a decent job.) Many on the neo-pagan side looked at the Asatru and decided, oh look, "manly men" who want to be known as great warriors of Thor, who work in tech and weasel out of arguments with their department managers.

Cue: Insistence on "we're heathen not pagan," each group not attending the other's festivals, arguments over who stole whose holidays, and so on. And that's before we get into the racism in some groups, and whatever specific scumbags get identified as representative of their entire religion.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:14 PM on November 6 [28 favorites]


These days I generally avoid anyone who considers their heritage to be anything beyond a fairy tale of amusing and "upworthy" anecdotes.

I do look a lot like distant relative Henry the 8th though. Not entirely sure what this is useful for.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Next thing you know they'll be coopting ancient pagan symbols like the swastika.

Or, you know, putting Norse runes all over their uniforms and insignia. And that’s just it — this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The actual Nazis were plundering from Norse paganism decades before modern Heathenry even existed, and the Romantics long before that. It’s maybe time to can the whole “I’m shocked to find ethnonationalists in my ethnonationalist movement! Shocked!” charade. ‘Twas ever thus. Heathenry sprang from the same Völkisch movement as Nazism, ffs.

I mean, sure, root out the neonazis, but, like, they’re gonna keep showing up, because ethnonationalists are gonna ethnonationalist. And they are going to continue to thrive in the Heathenist movement and shape it and make converts of Heathens, because once a person has made the jump from “my ancestors’ old ways are neat-o” to living their life by it, it’s not a dfficult task to churn up that millennium-old resentment towards the Judeo-Christian “invaders” to the point that it seems like a great idea to burn down all of Norway’s oldest churches, which is a thing that happened, ostensibly with that rationale. It’s also how, you know, NAZISM HAPPENED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Yes, our Norse ancestors’ old ways were neat-o. Maybe it’s best to leave it at that, hmm?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:21 PM on November 6 [7 favorites]


Well Artw, if your daughter ever expressed an interest in princessy things I hope you encouraged it; I for one am ready for a new Elizabethan age.
posted by jamjam at 2:22 PM on November 6 [8 favorites]


I do look a lot like distant relative Henry the 8th though. Not entirely sure what this is useful for.

An amusing anecdote, of course!
posted by quaking fajita at 2:26 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


to the point that it seems like a great idea to burn down all of Norway’s oldest churches, which is a thing that happened,

Hyperbole much? There were a bunch of church burnings in Norway related to the black metal scene in the 90s, yes, but it was hardly all of the oldest ones.
posted by Dysk at 2:34 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much influence Longfellow's Norse ballads have had on all this.

The rhetoric is certainly similar.
posted by jamjam at 2:36 PM on November 6


I don't see how this is "appropriation" since these elements have existed ever since these neo-Pagan movements have: somewhere between the turn of the 20th century to the 1950s or so. All of these groups are newly-founded and have no actual lineage with any group that has existed for millennia so no one is being deprived of some culturally significant symbolism. It's definitely worthwhile to combat bigotry but this isn't some new Internet movement that came along and stole an indigenous religion or something.
posted by koavf at 2:43 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


I’m writing a YA alt history fantasy story in which I am using real world mythological weapons as in-story weapons of great magical power. The one time I’ve mention Mjölnir I mentioned it in connection with an in-fiction wielder, who I gave a feminine given name and an African surname.

Fuck off, Nazis.
posted by Caduceus at 2:48 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


It turns out the real Nazis are the ones we made along the way.
posted by chavenet at 2:48 PM on November 6 [11 favorites]


Hyperbole much?

Hyperbole slight. (Scroll down to the list.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:49 PM on November 6


I think there is some space between "Everything was all clean and pure until the nazis started appropriating nordic symbols circa AD 2016" and "It's all made up modern BS so no valid cultural context exists, abandon it all to the racists."
posted by quaking fajita at 3:02 PM on November 6 [13 favorites]


Hyperbole slight.

That's 50 burnings or attempted burnings, many of which were churches not even slightly among the oldest in the country. There are about 1500 churches in Norway. Well over a thousand churches were built in the 12th and 13th centuries. A lot of the oldest ones are still very well preserved and were not subject to arson in the 90s. Here are just a few.
posted by Dysk at 3:04 PM on November 6 [7 favorites]


The chain of logic that leads from "the old ways were the best ways" to "we must get rid of foreigners and their alien influences" is almost inevitable. It's not just pagans; there are Jewish and Christian groups that are pretty reactionary, and ISIS is probably the poster-child for this way of thinking. Obviously not all pagans are racist, but pagan movements are almost necessarily reactionary and as such seem particularly susceptible to it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:06 PM on November 6 [8 favorites]


This is your gentle reminder, too late for the publication of the linked article, that "viking" is not an ethnicity, but a word for people who kill for plunder. The ethnicity is "Norse".
posted by Kattullus at 3:10 PM on November 6 [20 favorites]


Hmm... Thor: Ragnarok is a direct commentary on Trump's America (mega spoilerific there, not so sure of the premise but I had the exact same thought)

Do you think the title of the song Immigrant Song pisses off wannabe-norse nazis? I hope so.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Heathenry sprang from the same Völkisch movement as Nazism, ffs.
This. Here in good old Europe, many far-right/nazi/neo-nazi movements have roots in neopaganism or have neopagans in their ranks. Greece's Golden Dawn embraced Hellenic neopaganism in the 1980s (before turning to Orthodox Christianity). Some currents in the French National Front or close to it (the Terre et Peuple activists for instance) identify as neopagan. Anders Breivik and Vag Vikernes also identify (or have at some point) as neopagans. Of course, all religions/ideologies, even the most benevolent ones, are likely to attract assholes at some point, but, as Joe in Australia says above, the whole "old ways" stuff is quite a magnet for them.
posted by elgilito at 3:35 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


I don't see how this is "appropriation" since these elements have existed ever since these neo-Pagan movements have: somewhere between the turn of the 20th century to the 1950s or so. All of these groups are newly-founded and have no actual lineage with any group that has existed for millennia so no one is being deprived of some culturally significant symbolism. It's definitely worthwhile to combat bigotry but this isn't some new Internet movement that came along and stole an indigenous religion or something.

This is certainly an issue of people who's primary ethnic identity is "white" trying to coopt groups who do not have that as their primary identity.

And yes, it's not quite the same in scope or power imbalance as European and American colonialism on other continents. But still... why cede any more ground to the racists than you have to?
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:35 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Vag Vikernes

This typo would make an excellent drag name.
posted by Dysk at 3:49 PM on November 6 [12 favorites]


Of course, all religions/ideologies, even the most benevolent ones, are likely to attract assholes at some point, but, as Joe in Australia says above, the whole "old ways" stuff is quite a magnet for them.

Then all the more reason to counter racist propaganda in places that draw people who could be susceptible to it. It is far more truthful to condemn white supremacy as a 'modern' and 'foreign' influence than to spout all the anti-immigrant lies. Emphasize that being interested in a particular ancient culture doesn't have anything to do with 'blood,' even if you probably did have ancestors way back who were a part of that culture, because it's not that many generations back until you're no more genetically related to your own ancestors than a whole bunch of random people across the planet. Trying, perhaps foolishly, to cling to a culture more or less lost to Christianity and empire should by all rights make one sympathetic to others with the same plight.

There's a whole lot of ground to cover between "these old ways are the best way for me" to "these old ways are the best ways and are only for me!" to "screw everyone who isn't like me." Racists may have made a well trod path along that route, but it isn't the only path, and I'm glad there are people out there trying to turn folks down a different path.

Because frankly, I can't see that telling people off from being interested in old runes and stuff via some slippery slope argument about them turning into actual nazis getting enough traction, even if that slope has been made more slippery in places than is comfortable.
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:10 PM on November 6 [15 favorites]


Kutsuwamushi: "So, yeah. I wish we'd see less shitting on articles in this way, honestly."

Also the 10K.
posted by Mitheral at 4:22 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Then all the more reason to counter racist propaganda in places that draw people who could be susceptible to it. It is far more truthful to condemn white supremacy as a 'modern' and 'foreign' influence than to spout all the anti-immigrant lies. Emphasize that being interested in a particular ancient culture doesn't have anything to do with 'blood,' even if you probably did have ancestors way back who were a part of that culture, because it's not that many generations back until you're no more genetically related to your own ancestors than a whole bunch of random people across the planet.

This. I mean, I'm hanging out with the Satanic Temple these days, so far be it from me to judge anyone else's religious choices; these particular ones tend to make me personally feel a bit silly, but not really much more silly than the theology of my own religion of origin. And hell, I do appreciate a good rune, or an apparently artistic symbol with a hidden meaning to it if you know how to read it. I drink my cocoa out of a mug with my name on it in the form of a peptide; I can't judge anyone else for playing with similar images. (The trick, of course, is making sure that you don't send a meaning that you don't intend: 'I'm a racist asshole,' for example, instead of 'I ground myself in a particular tradition, and I am interested in history as it was.' Or, hell, 'I like fantasy novels, and here's my favorite.')

But if Christianity doesn't work for you--and it doesn't for me--and you want a community or a sense of pageantry that does work for you, why the hell not go delving into history and try picking up something that resonates with your own bones? (I mean, c'mon. I'm ex-Catholic. Theater's woven deep in my blood, right? Or, more to the point, at least my cultural heritage--and that shapes how I think about religion and its place in my life.)

I've talked here a bit about how my grandmother threw me out last January, and how I keep alternately struggling with my feelings about that and setting them aside. And I've been thinking about what it means to try to seek meaning and connectedness to the world around you, for those of us for whom things like this are important; what it means to feel like you have roots somewhere, even if you've moved every five years on average your whole life, or if you've got no blood relatives you can stand, or you wind up disconnected from everything that gives you a deep connection to some part of a tradition through time in some other way. (Or--instead of disconnected, you keep your connection, and marvel at the poison running through it.) For some people, that's a powerful hole, and Christianity's sins and spiritual abuses are certainly legion enough for it to be a non-option for an awful lot of folks.

So what then?

Do you go to Buddhism, and borrow the bits of a faith that belongs to other people that appeals to you and leave the bits that don't? I mean, christ knows that isn't exactly devoid of problematic appropriation or, frankly, racism. (I'm not saying that all New Age or white Buddhists are racist, because that's madness--but I've seen some real clueless, nasty cultural laziness attached to that, too.)

Do you borrow someone else's religion as best you can, and try to convert to it and sink into it? For me, the more I feel like a religion knows who its people are and doesn't mind so much about converting--the more sense of comfortable groundedness it seems to me to have--the harder it feels for me to think about trying to step into it as an outsider and become part of it. I wanted to forge a connection to something that would make my bones sing like a tuning fork, not something that feels like an uncomfortably borrowed, too-small jacket. Judaism, for example, I have a lot of affection for--but I'd feel as uncomfortable trying to convert to Judaism as I would tagging along to an acquaintance's holiday dinner, surrounded by their family's traditions. I would rather eat alone than feel so painfully outside, you feel?

Do you cling to atheism, and try to forge an identity and a community around that? That's not exactly barren ground for racists, either--or have y'all forgotten Hitchens and Dawkins so quickly? And if you're one of the sorts--not me, actually, I prefer a more cheerfully nihilistic approach to the world--but if you're one of the sorts who believes in something beyond this the material world that we can see and experience with our own senses, atheism with all its charms can seem terrifyingly empty.

So what do you do, if you want to be respectful, if you want to feel like you've got a direct connection to those who came before, and like you might have a connection to the people who come after you? The impulse to belong is powerful, after all.

That's how I see a path to Asatru. And as you say, Zalzidrax: racists will gather under any banner that will have them. Better to salt the earth for them before they can take root, or if they start cozying up to your community, start standing against them and speaking out directly so they have one less avenue to recruit the foolish and lonely.
posted by sciatrix at 4:36 PM on November 6 [21 favorites]


Or go po-mo and get all CHAOS MAGICKS!!! - something I would not have thought had hooks for racism pre-Kek.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]


If it's got an opening for "cast off the shackles of mindless authority and embrace your true self," it's got hooks for racism.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:19 PM on November 6 [6 favorites]


If you look into the abyss... Nietzsche is down there enjoying some Wagner.
posted by Artw at 5:23 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]


But if Christianity doesn't work for you--and it doesn't for me--and you want a community or a sense of pageantry that does work for you, why the hell not go delving into history and try picking up something that resonates with your own bones?

Because there is a certain level of “delving” that is itself a more recent tradition. One that resonates in the bones of others. There are even photographs of the bones.

If you want community, get a hobby. Learn to knit or play an instrument or run, and bond with others over that. Heck, Norse mythology could even be that hobby. Ain’t anything wrong with some scholarly appreciation of the classics. But (playing at) resurrecting long-dead traditions, which just so happen to be inexorably tied to ethnicity and nationality, and which then must be carefully guarded from outside influence... That leads down a well-worn path with many perfectly legible warning signs telling you exactly what’s ahead. Heed them.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:31 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


You could explore the exiting world of minature gaming!

Just, uh, careful around the Games Workshop stuff.
posted by Artw at 5:32 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Nobody’s saying this is the only path to racism. Racism is everywhere. This is just a really, really, really obvious path to racism. We know because history.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:36 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


White supremacists who think Norse peoples are "pure white" don't know much about Scandinavian people. Part Norwegian with Sami ancestry...
posted by palindromeisnotapalindrome at 5:54 PM on November 6 [7 favorites]


If you want to ritually strangle someone to Odin, and there are Nazis around, wouldn't that make it easier to choose your victim? Or are you afraid that Odin wouldn't want Nazis as sacrifices?
posted by Anne Neville at 6:05 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Ethnicity, Ancestry and the Family form THE main cornerstone of ALL traditional indigenous religions worldwide and throughout the ages. Asatru is the spiritual path largely and firmly based on the ethnicity, culture and heritage of Northern Europe, and it is our sacred duty to keep it so.

so it kind of seems like this is a pretty fertile breeding ground for racist ideas even beyond the aesthetic co-optation by nazis? Or am I missing something?
posted by Krawczak at 12:29 PM on November 6 [9 favorites +] [!]


that last bit is the problem, i guess. as an american white kid who hangs with native americans at times, i've had talk about "white people's medicine"; how 'losing your medicine' is the basis of whiteness, and how and why white people lost their medicine. Mostly these conversations revolve around the great femicides / witch hunts of Europe, and the Malleus Maleficarum, and how that drove white people away from women's knowledge, as well as away from their land base.

(As far as I understand it, "Medicine" for my pals involves some combination of deep local ecological understandings, very conservative farming lifeways in synch with local pulses, and women's rule or the primacy of women's knowledge and wisdom, but really i don't know what they are talking about exactly)

i'm really excited by theorists that write about americans as farmers--and not mystical non-people that a) are gone from the continent or b) never ever disturbed the soil or natural balances in the pursuit of resources.

and yes, settler mentality is one that is completely divorced from the land, so i've always found this kind of kitchen table theology compelling--yeah, white people have lost something, at a deep level, that makes them crazy for these pieces of paper, and makes them destroy themselves and the land.

These conversations usually end by some statements about a common humanity and the need for Europeans to re-discover their indigeneity, their relationship with women, and their connection with a land base--although of course, now that means living in a place like the Mississippi River Valley, whose ecology is so perverted with US geopolitics, petroleum and petroleum-based agriculture, that even thinking about the original farming ways, and the original medicine, well, it's even difficult to imagine these things. it's difficult to imagine even, like a whole state like Iowa being autonomous, and not a cog in a US-dominated, Transnational corporate corn-making imperial death machine.

So, on the one hand, i want to re-connect with my autochthonous Frisian origins, and somehow do that in the Louisiana marshes, rather than the European ones. But how do I go about re-establishing traditions of Euro-matriarchy? is there even scholarship on that kind of thing, or did it all burn with Europe's medicine-women?

so, this norse stuff all seems compelling, in one way, but white people, mostly, have a long way to go if we want to re-discover our roots. that means getting rid of ideas of property and misogyny, i think. to the extent that this Asatru stuff can help reconnect us to the landbase, and natural pulses, outside of industrial society, there is probably some value. to the extent that this just replicates the folly of the Malleus and the witch hunts, and seeks to divorce our culture from a landbase and a local ecology, mountainous and cold or not, it will be a failure.
posted by eustatic at 6:16 PM on November 6 [13 favorites]


tl;dr how the fuck you going to run around screaming 'blood and soil' when you enslave others to do your farming for you like a coward? Hew your own wood and draw your own water, motherfuckers.
posted by eustatic at 6:24 PM on November 6 [7 favorites]


which just so happen to be inexorably tied to ethnicity and nationality,

What, exactly, about asetro or paganism is inexorably tied to that? Some branches (and a lot of racists) will posit that, but there's absolutely nothing inherent or inevitable about it. Even the in-touch-with-the-land stuff can just as easily be about location as ancestry - similarly to how it makes sense to consider Muhammed Hussein who lives on Amager to be Scandinavian, for example, but not Sigurd Sigurdson in Minnesota.
posted by Dysk at 6:36 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


But (playing at) resurrecting long-dead traditions, which just so happen to be inexorably tied to ethnicity and nationality, and which then must be carefully guarded from outside influence...

I mean, buddy, you did note the thing I said I personally was doing, right? The thing that isn't actually Asatru or honestly, actually much of a flavor of paganism at all so much as it is a strain of organized atheism, right? (Honestly, if I was going to go that way, Wicca and other more Celtic-oriented strains or Roman-oriented strains are more of a natural fit for me--I have zero connection to anything even remotely smelling of Scandinavia, and not much interest either. But I also don't inherently see people digging into Norse aesthetic, let's say, and rebuilding a different set of precepts and traditions as all that different from people doing it with vaguely Celtic history and aesthetic and influence.)

Note also: the first thing you are talking about is not necessarily naturally yoked to the second, which is not necessarily naturally yoked to the third. I'm talking less about ethnicity and certainly much less about nationality--remember, Asatru even at its worst appears to be pan-national!--and more about feeling a personal connection to a particular tradition and trying to tap into that. As you note, people are play-acting at reviving things here, and by and large they know it.

If you're taking something old and something recent and trying to weave them into something new, of course there's a lot of scope for change and growth. Who says that that change and growth shouldn't incorporate a definition of religion and tradition that allows for change, for migration, and for motion and trade between groups of people? Because let me tell you, that too is found in the historical accounts of just about every religion you can think of. There are thousands of accounts of people trading with other people who have a different religion sort of vaguely matching up their own gods with someone else's, and worship of aspects of gods or flavors of gods that start in one region moving into other or changing when they meet another aspect with a bang.

We're talking about the stories people tell that lie at the heart of deciding what kind of person they should be when we talk about religion. And by and large, this whole article is about a crucial point:

As members of any religion, we are writing those stories and interpreting them all the time.

What stories will people involved in this religion choose to write--and who wins?
posted by sciatrix at 7:12 PM on November 6 [11 favorites]


What, exactly, about asetro or paganism is inexorably tied to [ethnicity and nationality]?

Well, back in the 1800s there was a reaction against science, industrialisation, and the Enlightenment. This movement (which wasn't unified in any real way) is basically what we mean when we talk about Romanticism. It represented a call back to a time when things were supposed to have been better and cleaner, when everybody was secure in their station, and honest folk songs hadn't been replaced by that avant-garde orchestral crap.

The obvious question is: if the past was better, why did their ancestors change their ways? And the answer the Romanticists came up with was that it was down to foreign influence. Pretty much everything and everybody they disliked was foreign in some way, even if that could also describe things they actually liked. But prejudice is a funny thing, and so the equation was less foreign = better, better = less foreign, and if you could identify things as being really German (or English or whatever) that woud be best of all. So Romanticism tended to be nativist, and the first and best targets of antiquity-seeking nativists were the people who basically represented the changing world, who were neither lords nor peasants, and had mostly just been granted civil rights: the Jews. Pretty much everybody that got together to talk about The National Soul was really talking about antisemitism, either explicitly or by implication.

Now, most Romanticists were into art or literature or politics, but some were into religion. Their research and theorisising (so much theorising!) led them into Teutonic mythology, combined with the more-accessible Norse mythology. This is where the runes and Odinism and stuff comes from: it wasn't (couldn't have been) racist or antisemitic historically, but in its modern form it was collated and promoted by nativists as an expression of their nativism, which was all about excluding Jews and other people they didn't think were sufficiently German. And National Socialism, which is basically nativism on steroids, had early adherents who were into all this runes and paganism and who were partially successful at importing it into Nazism. But even if you bypass the Nazis, the roots of the pagan revival are a reactionary rejection of "foreign" religious influence, and by that they absolutely meant Judaism-through-Christianity. That's much less true today, but anyone grounding themselves in the history of modern paganism is going to run into it. So no, a random person who's into runes and things isn't necessarily going to be a big racist, perhaps isn't even all that likely to be a big racist, but if it's an organised group with a coherent set of values then that's the way to bet.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:33 PM on November 6 [9 favorites]


The chain of logic that leads from "the old ways were the best ways" to "we must get rid of foreigners and their alien influences" is almost inevitable.
I have an Icelandic friend who told me that one of the results of a genetic study of Icelanders (which was intended to tease out the heredity of various afflictions, choosing Iceland because they have thorough birth-marriage-death records for more generations than most nations) was that there are African and Middle Eastern and Iberian genes in almost all of them, clearly several centuries or more old, now woven all through the phenotypically-pale people.

She says the Icelandic take on this was "Well, sure, we used to sail out and find the best people!" Recognizing that they may have brought them back weeping in the bottom of the boat. But on the other hand those foreigners' children must have been fed and raised and had children of their own, to be still in the Icelandic genetics.

And moreover, she married a smart nice hottie who doesn't look much like her at all and took him back to Iceland to raise their kids. The old ways were the best ways. (I know the Romantic volksiness laid out so neatly by Joe in Australia happens over and over, but it's only almost inevitable.)
posted by clew at 9:54 PM on November 6 [3 favorites]


See also these idiots in Lynchburg, Virginia. Playing nazi farmers. They even built a long hall. It all seems like a pathological desire to feel special and legitimate to me.

Like why do people need trumped up ethnic validation? This is just a cry for social reassurance, like toxic masculinity only in this case many of them aren't even of the ethnicity they claim to be.

I wish vikings could travel in time and LAUGH at these ridiculous idiots.
posted by Tarumba at 12:15 AM on November 7


Joe in Australia, I think framing Romantic Nationalism as a small bunch of disorganized folks surly about the enlightenment and hostile to Judeo-Christian tradition is slightly misrepresenting and massively, massively underselling the impact of romantic nationalist ideas on the whole political power structure of Europe, and the Americas.

In 1800's nation states were not a thing. Sure there were political entities we would call nation states existed, but they were not the organizing principal of political boundaries in Europe. Europe was organized by empire. There was indeed a Kingdom of Germany in 1800. It was part of the Holy Roman Empire. People didn't necessarily think of themselves as being German as we now think of it. It was a nascent idea being invented and supported by people with a romantic nationalist bent.

And now it's all so assumed that a country is both a political and an ethnic identifier, that the meaning of country, nation, and state have blended so much together, it's even hard to talk to someone about how the organization of politics and identity could be different.

And it was a reaction to the enlightenment, but not exactly in a counterrevolutionary way. The enlightenment had brought ideals of progress, of freedom, the thought that there was a better way of doing things than having autocratic empires rule what territory the could hold. And so there was building movement against empires and kings and nobility. Then revolutions in America, France, and great upheaval in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. This spawned many movements to establish self rule. But then you arrive at the question "What is the 'self' when it comes to a country and a people?"

So that's where you have this romantic nationalism stepping in - say we throw off the shackles of these empires, then who are we again? So people created national myths, looking away from the riches and global power of nobility, to the folk ways they saw around them, and exploiting those to build stories that would make a bunch of maybe sorta similar peoples think of themselves as one group and one nation. This rise of ethnic consciousness wasn't just some artsy and religious types playing around with runes in Germany. It was Scots and kilts, it was Irish agitating for revolution, writing songs. It was Guiseppe Garibaldi sailing across the sea to fight for causes of independence in South America before returning to Italy to fight for it as a united republic and nation sate. It was national epics - Elias Lönnrot gathering stories from Finland and Karelia to craft them into a definitive myth. The list goes on.

In all of this there were both the seeds of liberty and equality of humankind as well as xenophobia and, later, genocide. The potential for either is only thrown into sharp relief when you've got the sort of misfits who are drawn to small and unpopular religions and are more likely to accept less mainstream opinions, but this conflict is woven into the very concepts of "country" and "nation" as they are seen in the modern world.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:42 AM on November 7 [15 favorites]


Joe in Australia, you're simplifying things rather dramatically there. There has always been both a racist and a universalist strain even within odalism - as indeed can be said of any major world religion. There's nothing more inherent about it in asetro than in human nature and any kind of human organising, even if you can spin a just-so origin story.
posted by Dysk at 12:45 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


I wish vikings could travel in time and LAUGH at these ridiculous idiots.

shh! someone might write that novel !!

(The fact that there’s a genre which is “time travel Viking joins US military, has romance” astounds me sometimes.)
posted by mephron at 3:06 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I think framing Romantic Nationalism as a small bunch of disorganized folks surly about the enlightenment and hostile to Judeo-Christian tradition is slightly misrepresenting and massively, massively underselling the impact of romantic nationalist ideas on the whole political power structure of Europe, and the Americas.

I'd add that today's Ásatrú in Iceland has exactly zero to do with romantic nationalism. Hilmar Örn was making this very clear years ago, and it seems he has to regularly pipe up to remind people that Ásatrú opposes not just racism but also nationalism, militarism and authority. Every time this comes up for discussion in Iceland, several members of the org will come forward to quote the myths and frankly it's tiresome that they even need to prove their innocence.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:40 AM on November 7 [6 favorites]


The fact that there’s a genre which is “time travel Viking joins US military, has romance” astounds me sometimes.

There's been at least one story where the reverse happened -- a 20th-Century US Army grunt finds himself back in the old days, among Vikings. There may be more than one. Does that make it a genre?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:05 AM on November 7


There has always been both a racist and a universalist strain even within odalism

I'm sure Not All Vikings were indomitable, rapacious marauders, but as far as largely confected histories go, that seems to be the part most people want to associate with.
posted by dmh at 5:04 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


Hew your own wood and draw your own water, motherfuckers.

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, punch Nazis.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:07 AM on November 7 [6 favorites]


I spent a lot of time in Oslo this year.

This was my favourite use of hammer iconography.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 5:25 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I'm sure Not All Vikings were indomitable, rapacious marauders

As has already been pointed out upthread, viking is a term specifically for seafaring raiders. Not All Norsemen, however, were vikings, especially not the ones who stayed in Scandinavia.
posted by Dysk at 5:32 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


When I was in my mid-twenties I was sketching out ideas for my first tattoo, and I was researching various designs that wouldn't be cultural appropriation or overdone hack stuff. Every bro back then had a kanji tattoo that they thought meant "warrior" but really meant "chicken" or whatever.

I found the Valknut, a very slight variation on which I had been doodling on my own in notebooks since high school without knowing what it was. I thought I'd invented it. Great, I thought. A ring of those'd make a cool border. Let me just Google other Norse symbols to see what else is...huh, there's an Anti-Defamation League site, what does that say...goddammit. Goddammit, Nazis roont my pretty.

I spent the next five years wondering frequently if any of my classmates saw my doodles and thought I was a goddamn Nazi. I still worry about it from time to time, though I haven't seen any of them in decades.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:39 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


Or go po-mo and get all CHAOS MAGICKS!!! - something I would not have thought had hooks for racism pre-Kek.

The intersection of Chaos Magick and chan-culture sure is wild. They turned it into a religion.

I think that says something about the racist instinct. No belief system is safe. Even Buddhists will start slaughtering outsiders.
posted by jonnay at 7:18 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


These conversations usually end by some statements about a common humanity and the need for Europeans to re-discover their indigeneity, their relationship with women, and their connection with a land base--although of course, now that means living in a place like the Mississippi River Valley, whose ecology is so perverted with US geopolitics, petroleum and petroleum-based agriculture, that even thinking about the original farming ways, and the original medicine, well, it's even difficult to imagine these things.

It's easier to imagine if you're reading a lot of Wendell Berry.

Actually, it's still hard to imagine, because most people aren't reading much Wendell Berry. But they should be. If part of the heart of what's behind the troubling resurgence of white nationalism is search for roots and affirmative identity, it's a horrible solution to a perhaps accurate perception of a problem. Industrialization does some things well, but it sure doesn't care if you have a place in the world.
posted by wildblueyonder at 8:33 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


There is an amazing site in Germany called the Extersteine. I first read about it in - might have been TimeLife - a book about sacred sites maybe 14 years ago? At the time there was absolutely nothing about it online that I could find. Sometime in 2014 I was curious to look for it again, and by then just about everything online about it was neo nazis and some spurious Asatru stuff.

There are areas of uk where their whole mythos is they're mostly descended from Vikings. On the other hand the Viking period comes well after one of the first occasions of Scandinavian settlement which was people from Denmark settling in/around Norfolk*. There was a documentary here years ago tracing Scandi dna in current populations, people from Norfolk were apparently still so Danish you could tell by looking at them (!?)** and people from the North East who generally long to be Viking, were disappointed. Now I can't find any immediate links to back up the Norfolk stuff, rather, what I can find contradicts it. Maybe the doc. was just fanciful.

So my mum, being a Geordie, was into this whole Viking affinity malarky, and when she came across the Ralph Blum Runes thing, she took to it. She'd often do a bit of fortune telling with the runes (so do I) whereas with my grandma it had been tealeaves. So in my experience, I have a line of descent that goes through my mum and Northumberland to Ralph Blum and New York, though some esoteric holistic stuff probably originally based in psychoanalytic theory, all the way down by doubtful paths to the Vikings. And I like the runes, and I'd love to visit the Externsteine one day, and being Nigerian, I'm just a bit more familiar with what a sacred place feels like than an average westerner. But not if it's crawling with nazis.

But anyway, I think my relationship with this stuff is emblematic of how tradition functions in modern life. We recreate a lot of it continuously out of a wide hodge-podge of different influences and then we somehow remember it as being time-worn. I guess the feelings that attach to our newly-made traditions are themselves time-worn and transfer that quality. So I feel I can talk quite easily about the history of my relationship this stuff even while avoiding getting into issues of authenticity, appropriateness and mixed heritage, which would take a very long time for a casual comment.

Anyhow there's a Fritz Leiber story in possibly Swords and Ice Magic, where Odin comes back to Midgard to rekindle his cult. He gets a tremendous amount of new followers, all of them wearing his symbol, the noose. Round their necks. When Odin leads them in the last great battle Fafhrd has the sense to wear his livery round his wrist. There is the most glorious sacrifice made in the end to the old gods' victory. Luckily for Fafhrd all he loses is his hand. So you know, if you knew anything about old gods, you'd know to be a bit more cautious around them than these neo nazi wannabees.

* I may be wrong
* It could have been that the people from Germany who became the Saxon part of the Anglo-Saxons had originally migrated to Germany from Denmark, I dunno

posted by glasseyes at 9:16 AM on November 7 [4 favorites]


I liked this, from Aya Hirano's BBC link on the Asatru hof

Later that year, the group's elected high priest, Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson, met Iceland's minister of justice and ecclesiastical affairs to present a request for the Norse religion to be recognised as an official religion in Iceland.

The move was met with opposition, with Iceland's Lutheran bishop saying a constitutional ruling on religious freedoms should not apply to polytheistic religions.

But the story goes that shortly after Mr Beinteinsson left the justice ministry, a powerful thunderstorm started up, causing a power cut in the capital.

Some Icelanders like to think it was Thor, the god of thunder, having his say on the matter, as a few months later the minister agreed formally to recognise the Asatru.

posted by glasseyes at 10:06 AM on November 7 [7 favorites]


(Slightly off topic, but as someone who mostly knows Chaos Magik as that thing that was big on usenet and lead to the creation of the Black Eyed Children urban legend, can someone explain or hook me up with links to how 4chan managed to make that bit of insanity racist?)
posted by Canageek at 10:13 AM on November 7


A tangent: in the interview with Ralph Blum, the rune guy, he refers to his christian belief. From his name I'd assumed he was Jewish. I was trying to find out more about him. There's an obituary, written by someone he shared a blog with. No mention of the Book of Runes listed in his publications, but comments to the obituary do mention it. Blum's mother was Carmel Myers, an actress in early Hollywood. I just like that here is an example of someone else coming to this Northern mysticism from a mixed background and from unabashedly mixed-up crossing-the-streams made-up traditions. Creating a positive mental space using these elements.

Purity in a biological context is one of these unfortunate fallacies that take you away from vigorous lived reality up sterile and unlucky dead ends. Literal dead ends. It lies in wait for humans who prefer simple answers. Well, ungenerous aggressive insecure humans who don't like doing the work to understand how complex and contingent life is.

I think racism can and has evolved out of and parallel with some of the most seemingly progressive movements of the last two centuries. Like, isn't there a current branch of theosophy or something like it that elevates 'aryanism' while despising actual brown indians? Talk about self-contradictory. It doesn't mean notions of culture, identity and lineage are irredeemably suspect, it means pluralism is hard, and it's easy to be seduced away from it into convenient simplicities that let us puff ourselves up at the expense of others. Also, the superstructure of Western education, be it never so liberal, built on the worldviews that engendered slavery and colonialism in the first place, contains enough remnants of race supremacism that it's a good idea to examine the received ideas we've been endowed with fairly regularly.

Family, ethnicity and culture aren't contained within a firm boundary determined by current ideas of race and skin tones. WE ARE AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SURROUNDED BY THE LIVING EVIDENCE OF THIS, if only we would notice it, if only those stories would get into the record. They don't, up until recently, because non-elite stories don't get into the record, and because elite stories tend to have awkward anomalies filed off them. My grandma had a name that's been repeating in her village parish records since the 16C, when a bunch of German swordmakers settled in the valley. The colliers who came from all over the UK two centuries after - her husband was one - were fly-by-nights compared to those particular German immigrants.
posted by glasseyes at 11:54 AM on November 7


Beltane Fire Society: Runing As a Symbol of Togetherness
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]




https://pepethefrogfaith.wordpress.com. I mean, keep some salt around... But there you go.
posted by jonnay at 9:24 PM on November 7


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