Saturday, September 24, 2016

Finding Folkishness in all the Wrong Places

Recently the Standing Rock Sioux staged a successful protest to halt construction of a pipeline near their territory that they claimed was going to risk their sacred sites and land. It's actually a worthy cause, and I happen to think the Standing Rock Sioux are on the right side of this issue. So do a lot of Asatruar that I know. That's not the problem.

Of course, this is exactly the sort of cause célèbre that would attract the SJW types, too. And so it did, with posts and articles about what was going on all over social media, as well as some enterprising chap putting together a website called, which basically endorses solidarity between neopagans and the Standing Rock Sioux protest against efforts to bulldoze their land for some pipeline. There's a link to some progressives-only (!) petition of support, and general expressions of support for the Standing Rock Sioux whose fight against the destruction of their sacred land has scandalously not been reported in the mainstream media.

The list of people and organizations standing shoulder to shoulder (metaphorically speaking, of course; actually going there would take a lot more effort than signing a petition or forwarding a link on Facebook) with the Standing Rock Sioux is quite interesting. In particular, there are some names you might find familiar. Godless and Radical posted about the issue. Twice. The Troth posted a link to the petition, too. So did The Wild HuntThe board of CUUPS formally declared their solidarity with them. And the individuals who are listed as having signed it (it's not an up-to-date list, alas; it doesn't seem to have been updated with new signatories in weeks) is like a Who's Who of the SJW scene, with G&R Commissar Rhyd Wildermouth, all-around ass Gus diZerega, and atheist John Halstead leading the pack.

But did you know that the Standing Rock Sioux are actually more folkish than the Asatru Folk Assembly? Yup, you read that correctly. The group that the Rhyd Wildermouth, that rock-ribbed paragon of anti-folkish sentiment, has endorsed solidarity with a group that is more folkish than the AFA. One has to look no further than the constitution of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe:

The membership of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe shall consist of 1.) all persons of Indian blood who were duly enrolled on the official roll of the Tribe on June 15,1957, and all persons of Indian blood who were duly enrolled subsequent to June 15, 1957, in accordance with the ordinances and procedures adopted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council pursuant to Article IV. & 1"r" of this Constitution and 2.) all persons of one-fourth (1/4) or more degree of "Oceti Sakowin" Indian blood from a Federally Recognized Tribe born after June 15, 1957 and prior to or subsequent to the effective date of this amendment, to a parent or grandparent who is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, shall be added to the official roll of the Tribe upon proof demonstrating: a) the parent or grandparent's membership in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; b) the person for whom enrollment is sought is of one-fourth (1/4) or more degree of "Oceti Sakowin" blood from a Federally Recognized Tribe and born after June 15, 1957; upon the affirmative vote of two thirds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council then in office; and 3.) any person who is rejected for membership shall have the right to appeal to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court from the decisions of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, and the decision of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court shall be final. Provided further, that prior to the distribution of any tribal assets to the members of the Tribe, the membership roll shall be approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
Yes, you read that correctly. The head of Godless and Radical is endorsing solidarity with an organization that actually has a blood relationship requirement for membership written into its constitution. You literally have to prove your lineage in order to join. Even the AFA doesn't do that. They just said they like white babies. They didn't go so far as to prescribe a percentage! But that's what the Standing Rock Sioux did.

Which, as an Asatruar, I have absolutely no problem with if that's what they want to do. It's a pretty folkish position, certainly on the folkish spectrum, and Asatru is a folkish religion. So, good for them. That's not the problem, here.

But from a blog such as G&R, which prides itself on its universalist ideology, and recently made several strong anti-folkish statements and pronouncements (not to mention the other SJW groups and individuals who support them), it's a painful example of the hypocrisy of those on the left. They don't have a problem with a Sioux tribe requiring blood tests and genealogical proof for membership, but when it comes to an organization for people of European descent, then it's somehow bad. Hel, someone saying white babies are a good thing not too long ago got roasted by these self-same SJW's who stand in solidarity with a group that requires blood tests for membership, and doesn't see the contradiction.

What is that word, that means treating people of different races according to different rules? I'm sure it'll come to me. Oh yeah. Racism.

And lest one think that this doesn't apply to their religion, the Standing Rock Sioux are quite clear on that front, as well. One of their official publications, the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy makes it plain that Sioux spirituality is for the Sioux:

Preserve and advance the culture and traditions of the tribe while increasing participation in traditional activities. ... Everyone [of the tribe] who is able should learn the traditional dances and participate in PowWows.
But here's G&R, supporting them. A blog that hates folkishness in white people and calls it racism, but which embraces it among the Standing Rock Sioux and supports them.

That's the real racism. Having different standards for different races. White people have to play by one set of rules, and Sioux get to play by another set of rules. That is the very definition of racism, not to mention hypocrisy, and that is precisely what G&R and a huge number of other neopagan organizations and individuals that have signed up to support the Standing Rock Sioux are doing.

They have one set of rules for the Standing Rock Sioux, and another set of rules for the Asatru Folk Assembly, because the first is for red people, and the second is for white people.

And that's the real racism.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Vice likes Folkishness

There is a terrific article up on Vice, of all places, by one Yomi Adegoke, entitled 'Jesus Hasn't Saved Us': The Young Black Women Returning to Ancestral Religions, which describes a growing trend among young black women to embrace African Traditional Religions (ATRs). I think it's not only a great article (it is), but it's also a fascinating look into another aspect of folkish religion completely unrelated to Asatru.

The article describes a very real historical phenomenon; the outlawing of traditional African religious beliefs and practices, both among blacks brought to the Americas as slaves, and those in Africa under colonial administrations:
For hundreds of years, colonialism saw Africa—the planet's second largest and second most populous continent—robbed and ruled by a handful of European nations. The only countries considered not to have been colonized are Ethiopia and Liberia—and even they were briefly occupied by others. No African nation hasn't been shaped by the process in some way.
But it's important to realize that before the growth of political-economic colonialism, there was another, far more insidious form of colonialism at work in Africa; the religious colonialism borne of Christian missionaries and Muslim dawah. And they were, of course, far more injurious to African religion than any mere colonial power, but do not forget that Islam attacked traditional African religion in north Africa as thoroughly as Christianity did in southern Africa.

But the best part is the attitude of those throwing off the shackles of monotheism and embracing the faith of their forefathers:
"[Christianity is] a distraction," Benedicte Songye Kalombo says emphatically. She is the digital editor of New African Woman magazine; her religious practice fuses together traditional faiths hailing from Congo, where her family is from. Like the others, she is passionate about destigmatizing the religions she feels have enriched her so much. "We need to stop building churches and start building institutions—Jesus hasn't done it in over 400 years. He hasn't saved us."
I applaud this. Anyone who calls themselves folkish should applaud this. This is the instinctive hearkening back to an ancestral faith by someone with a blood tie to those roots. Indeed, the article is positively dripping with phrasing that would feel right at home here, or in an AFA article, with the slightest tweaking of "Africa" to "Europe" or "black" to "white":

...the practice of [black] ancestral worship...
...Comfa, a religion where contact with ancestors is commonplace...
...indigenous [African] spiritual practices...
...Traditional African religions...
...the black psyche...
...Indigenous [African] religions...
...African spirituality...
...African spiritual cultures... identity...

This whole article (and the movement it describes) is about strengthening black racial identity through the re-adoption of African traditional religion. Can you imagine the outrage and outcry if some other article contained phrases like:

...the practice of [white] ancestral worship...
...Asatru, a religion where contact with ancestors is commonplace...
...indigenous [northern European] spiritual practices...
...Traditional European religions...
...the white psyche...
...Indigenous [northern European] religions...
...Northern European spirituality...
...Northern European spiritual cultures...
...white identity...

Think the first list is fine and the second list is wrong? Congratulations! You're a racist. You have different standards for different races.

And let us not forget that before black Africa was targeted by those religious colonialists, those missionaries for the god of Abraham, Europe was targeted by them as well. Nearly a millennium before the Kanem Empire converted to Islam, the Roman empire was subverted and ultimately conquered by Christianity. More than five hundred years before the Muslim call to prayer was heard throughout the Ouaddai Empire and the Kingdom of Kano, Christian churches were being built atop Heathen holy sites across England, Germany, and Scandinavia, the ancient groves and pillars were chopped down, and the stories and rituals honoring our gods systematically obliterated, until nothing was left but scraps scattered throughout a thousand sources.

And, it should be mentioned, that the Abrahamic religions aren't the only ones peddling a "universalist" view of religion. There's very little space between Christianity saying "our God is for everyone" and some Germanic neopagan saying "our gods are for everyone." Indeed, doing so is just contributing to the sort of cultural imperialism that the article decries, enticing people from the faith of their ancestors to the faith of someone else's white ancestors. How enlightened. It's whitesplaining on a spiritual level.

So I, for one, think it's a spiffy thing that people of African descent are getting in touch with their pre-monotheistic ancestral faiths. And just as I am very sure that they would resent white people trying to muscle in on their spiritual heritage, so too would I resent it. People of European descent have their own array of pre-monotheistic ancestral faiths, many of which fall under the Germanic religious-complex, today known as Asatru. I think this is a great thing, and want to see the trend of people throwing off the bonds of evangelical, colonial, monotheism, continue.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Folkish Scare

It should come as no surprise to people in the Asatru community that the most totalitarian impulses come from the regressive Left. They have initiated campaigns to silence those with whom they disagree by targeting the venues at which they are speaking, or appearing, or gathering. They don't scruple against breaking the law by phoning in phony bomb threats, pulling false fire alarms in hotels, or calling venues demanding that they cancel previously-contracted events.

They are thugs and bullies, such fragile little snowflakes that they cannot even stand the idea that their perceived enemies have a place where they can exercise their freedom of speech. This phenomenon is called de-platforming, and it's become a hallmark of the regressive left.

Well, they are now starting to try it against us. You've heard of the Red Scare from the 50's? Welcome to the "Folkish Scare."

The first incident of which I am aware is when the AFA's Midwest Fallfest event was on the receiving end of some antifa scum campaign to call the campground at which they were scheduled to hold the event and get them to cancel the contract:

Of course, the notion that the AFA is a "white nationalist pagan organization" is complete bullshit. They're not pagan at all. They're Asatru, which is a completely different thing. Oh, and they have a history going back forty years of getting rid of real racists from their midst. But why let facts get in the way of a good McCarthyite persecution?

But heavens! The AFA wants to "protect and promote northern European ethnic culture!" You'd almost think that was something bad. It seems to be fine when it's some other ethnic culture, like black, or Hispanic, or whatever. But consistency was never a hallmark of the radical regressive left.

The ill-named "Camp Courage" did indeed cancel the contract. But as it turns out, their pathetic Twitter campaign was all for naught, as the gods were with the AFA, and the event found another venue in short order, and was by all reports a huge success. So...

Now, some people have made the claim that this isn't a Heathen thing. These are just some antifa people, who have nothing to do with good, upstanding, universalist Heathens, who wish no harm to anyone. Doubtless they just caught wind of the AFA because of the horrible, racist, homophobic statement by the new Allsherjargodi, who said traditional families are good, and that white babies are good. Because, obviously, if you say that one thing is good, you're automatically saying that anything that isn't that thing is evil, and should be banned and wiped out. Sort of like "Black Lives Matter."

But now it's happened again, and a bit close to home for me. This past Sunday the Skylands Asatru Fellowship had an information table at a local Scandinavian Festival, and had a wonderful and successful time. We spoke to dozens of people about Asatru, got a lot of people for our mailing list, and generally spread the word that the worship of Odin and Thor isn't dead. And you know what? When we had non-white people come to our table, we didn't turn them away; we handed them the same flyers, and invited them to sign up to the same mailing list, as everyone else.

But today apparently the gydja of another kindred in New Jersey felt compelled to complain to the organizers of the festival about our presence:

Once I found out about it, I was understandably incensed. Not only is it literally filled with lies:
  • Skylands Asatru Fellowship is not "associated with the Asatru Folk Assembly". This is an outright lie.
  • We do not "exclude those who aren't white and heterosexual" (in fact, we have at least one member who is "out", and she happens to be my daughter). This is an outright lie.
  • Nobody we spoke with was "upset" about the fact that we were folkish. In fact, most of the people we spoke to were quite receptive and in agreement with what we were saying. 
  • This statement meets the definition of defamation; it was published, it is false, it attempts to inflict injury upon our organization, and it is certainly unprivileged. 
And the best part? She is the official Troth Steward for New Jersey. Yes. An official of the Troth is calling for the de-platforming of groups she disagrees with.

But it is an attempt to continue the regressive left tactic of de-platforming individuals and groups with which they disagree. They paint their actions in pretty words, but it all comes down to "I disagree with you, and don't think you should have a right to believe or say what you do, so I will do whatever I can to prevent you from being heard."

And that is not only vile in the extreme, but evidence that they know they're losing the battle. They've been trying for twenty years to destroy folkish Asatru, and failed. And now that they see that they can't win in an even marketplace of ideas, they resort to silencing the opposition. It is the last refuge of a totalitarian.

On Cultural Appropriation

Yvonne Aburrow, writing over at Pathetic Pagan (although she is also a contributor over at Godless & Radicals), has an interesting piece up about appropriation entitled Living Traditions. It's pretty short, so here it is in its entirety:
Why cultural appropriation doesn’t work 
A culture, and a religion, is a massively complex system of interlocking ideas, philosophies, symbols, and practices.
If you take one of these ideas out of context and try to shoehorn it into another tradition, it’s like taking a complex part out of a clock, and trying to put it in a completely different clock, or even a completely different machine.
Or it’s like an organ transplant – the new organ may be rejected and you need to take lots of drugs to get your body to accept it.
The New Age, which has lots of different parts cobbled together, is basically Frankenstein’s monster.
Or it’s like looking at a completed jigsaw puzzle and taking one beautiful rose from the middle of the picture and trying to put it in a completely different jigsaw. No two pieces are exactly the same, and it doesn’t fit the picture in the other jigsaw anyway, and so you have to hit it with a hammer and file off the edges to get it to fit in the other jigsaw.
A friend of mine pointed out that this is actually a very folkish position. Folkish Asatruar are against cultural appropriation as well; we no more want to see some Lilly-white person glomming onto the Lakota sun dance than we want to see some person of African descent trying to play around with runes. Removed from their cultural and ethnic context, they lose meaning, and can even be harmful to the practitioner.

If culture isn't based in ethnicity, how can there be such
a thing as "black culture"?
Ah, but she's talking about culture, not ethnicity, I hear you cry. True, as far as she goes. But for most of human history, the chief means of transmission of culture from one generation to the next was through the shared community, clan, and family experience. It's only within the last century or so that culture became so plastic. Even with mass migration in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, ethnic groups tended to retain their own cultural identities, while at the same time melting into the "American" polity. Folk-based culture (as distinct from folk-destroying culture, as imposed by universalist creeds like Christianity, Islam, Marxism, or Secular Humanism) stems from the folk that produces it; i.e., the ethnic identity of the folk. That's why there's black culture, and Hispanic/Latino culture, and so forth, and why people not of those ethnicities are roundly mocked when they try to lie about their own ethnicity in order to gain entry into an ethno-culture that is not their own.

Thus we speak of Pennsylvania German culture, or Chinatowns in various cities across the country, and see the establishment of organizations and cultural events designed to retain ethno-cultural identity, such as the Hibernians or Sons of Norway, while at the same time allowing for assimilation into the larger overculture and polity. For someone without roots in the ethnic-based culture whence a particular practice or complex of practices stems to attempt to co-opt those practices, is simply appropriation. No matter who does it, no matter if they are white, yellow, black, or brown.

And we, as Asatruar, are dead-set against appropriation by any and all comers. So on this issue, at least, we can agree with Ms. Aburrow. Appropriation is bad. Don't do it.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A message for those with eyes to see

First they came for the Dianic Wiccans, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a "transphobic oppressor of non-binary-gender persons."

Then they came for the Folkish Heathens, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a "racist White Nationalist segregationist."

Then they came for the Devotional Polytheists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not "putting the gods ahead of Social Justice."

Then they came for the Reconstructionist Pagans, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not an "traditionalist monarchist regressive crypto-fascist."

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

(With all due credit to Martin Niemöller)

The war is forced upon us

There has been a simmering conflict between two factions within American Heathenry (and, more recently, Heathenry in general) for many years. On one side we have the folkish, who believe that ancestry is relevant to Asatru. On the other side, we have the universalists, who think that Asatru should be open to anyone, regardless of their ancestry.

Over the years, this conflict has simmered, sometimes boiling over, but most of the time kept at a low heat resulting in a sort of détente. The folkish kept to themselves, the universalists kept to themselves, and the barb-throwing was relatively minimal and exclusively online.

But recently, that has changed. The coincidence of this change with the general uptick in SJW assaults on their perceived enemies is self-evident, and the boldness of the SJW's in attacking their enemies is certainly not limited to the Asatru community. What we're seeing is just a symptom of the larger sickness in which SJW's demand people with differing opinions be silenced, their lives ruined, and in some cases advocate for actual violence against people with whom they disagree.

So it should come as little surprise that the phenomenon of "deplatforming," in which venues hosting events by SJW's enemies are harassed and intimidated into cancelling the events, came to Asatru. That happened yesterday, when (the ironically named) Camp Courage cancelled a contract with the Asatru Folk Assembly in the face of repeated harassing phone calls.

Now, I realize that not all universalist Asatruar condone this sort of behavior, but the "live and let live" portion of the universalist side has been dragged into the conflict by virtue of the fact that the radicals, acting in their name, have drawn blood. Their inaction in policing their own side, their failure in condemning those radicals whose intolerance goes as far as wanting to destroy lives and incite violence, has allowed the radicals to speak for them.

So the AFA was unable to use Camp Courage for its Fallfest event in Minnesota. That was a mistake.

Over the years, the folkish side of Asatru has tried to keep to itself. And especially given the recent statement by the AFA leadership, this attitude of "we speak for ourselves, not for everyone" was particularly evident:
Today we are bombarded with confusion and messages contrary to the values of our ancestors and our folk. The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children. The children of the folk are our shining future and the legacy of all those men and women of our people back to the beginning. Hail the AFA families, now and always!
Matt Flavel
Alsherjargothi, AFA
Note the use of the terms that I've highlighted above; "we believe", "the AFA celebrates." Nowhere in there is any imprecation that all Asatruar must believe these things. They are policy statements of an organization, applicable to the organization as a whole (and not necessarily binding on all its members, I might add).

But that's not good enough for the radical regressive left. They are totalitarians, and nothing less. Not only can they not stand the fact that people disagree with them, they have to take steps to destroy those people. Make no mistake; if these radical regressive leftists had their way, every AFA member would be fired from their job, have their children taken away by the government, and be tossed out of their home. Literally. That's the mentality we are dealing with, and it's past time we respond.

Of course, it's somewhat more difficult because of the fact that the regressive leftists don't really do much in the real world. Most of their energy is spent cowering behind their keyboards and making anonymous phone calls to campgrounds. You can't disrupt someone's events if they never have any (anti-government riots with people wearing Guy Fawkes masks don't count as "events"). So that's not an option.

But our best weapon? Success.

That's what it ultimately comes down to. That's really why they hate us; jealousy. They see the AFA with a third more members than the Troth. They see the AFA raising funds to buy facilities. They see the AFA with multiple regional gatherings each year. They see the AFA growing, and growing, and growing. And the Troth can't even raise funds to send two people to some useless frou-frou conference.

And they can't stand it.

They keep putting forth the canard that universalism is the "mainstream" within Asatru, but the numbers just don't support it. It's obviously impossible to count the non-joiners, but the Troth has around 500 members, and the AFA has around 700. That's the only real data point out there in terms of US Asatru. And there's no reason to think those numbers don't translate into the non-joiners. The folkish were here first, and we remain the largest faction within Heathenry. And we should keep reminding everyone of that fact. It's the unis who are the fringe. They're the ones who are the radicals. Folkish Asatru is mainstream Asatru.

So keep putting on events. Keep doing outreach. Keep performing ritual, doing meetups, and pub moots, and lore studies, and Asatru 101 classes, and rune workshops, and form kindreds and tribes and fellowships, invite your brother-in-law who's into Norse mythology, talk to that guy in the supermarket who you see is wearing a hammer necklace, keep having beautiful white babies who will grow up into beautiful Asatruar, keep studying the lore, keep writing new kinds of rituals, hold sacral dramas, write and perform plays, play music, learn runes, learn seidr, learn trolldomr, and all the rest.

Help folkish Asatru grow. That will infuriate them even more.

But it's not the only arrow in our quiver. More to come.