Monday, September 26, 2016

No, not an Outlier

More specifically, the AFA, and Heathenry in general, is not an "outlier" in the neopagan community, as John "expressing-an-opinion-I-don't-like-is-worse-than-mass-rape" Beckett recently asserted in his most recent article on Pathetic Pagan:

Now just to be clear, it has nothing to do with accepting and embracing LGBTQ persons. With the exception of a few outliers, the Pagan community settled that debate a long time ago. 
With a link to an article about the AFA's recent statement on traditional families.

Of course, this is nonsense; Asatru in general, and the AFA in particular, never was part of the "neopagan community" and never wanted to be. We're a different religion, period. Just because a couple of Locutus-wannabes are trying to pull in all sorts of other religions under their precious neopagan "umbrella" doesn't make it so, and neither does it suddenly give them leave to try to tell those religions how to run themselves.

Which, of course, is the whole point behind trying to assimilate those other religions in the first place:
  1. "You're not a different religion; you're really under our huge and wonderful umbrella"
  2. "You know, you can't believe X and still be under our umbrella"
  3. "The people who don't believe X are the real members of your religion, because they're the ones under our umbrella; you're just an outlier"
Not interested in being under
your umbrella, thanks
Yeah, no thanks. Your "neopagan community" is just an excuse to impose some set of arbitrary "community standards" on people that never wanted to be part of your "community" in the first place. And then you feel free to appropriate all the stuff from those religions that you fancy, as your tray passes them in the eclectic buffet you call faith, assuaging your conscience that it's not appropriation, because they're already part of your "community", so borrowing within the community is just fine and dandy.

Asatru (real Asatru, not Norse Neopaganism) is a religion unto itself. It's not an "outlier" to any neopagan community, never was, and you don't get to police what I believe just because you say I'm part of your community.


  1. Are Asatru Pagans? If they say they're not, I'll take them at their word. I support the right of individuals and groups to associate as they see fit (to answer your next question, I also support my right to comment on the associations they choose to make and the reasons at least some of them have for making them).

    You and I do not practice the same religion, even if there is a fair amount of overlap in our metaphysics. Trust me - I would take great satisfaction in being completely and totally disassociated from the AFA.

    But at our CUUPS ritual two weeks ago, a 20-something man walked up to us as we were setting up. I told him we were getting ready for a Pagan ritual. He said "Pagan? Is that anything like Asatru?" I explained that our focus is much broader and left it at that.

    This is far from the only such encounter I've had. The general public sees Asatru as just another form of Paganism, or in some cases, as normative of Paganism.

    So in all seriousness, I support your choice to not be a part of the Pagan community. But you've got a lot of education and outreach to do before people who don't know the difference stop lumping us all together.

    1. Thanks much for your quite civil reply, John. It's most appreciated.

      As for the burden of education, I would venture that it lies much more on the neopagan side of the fence than the Asatru side. We've been trying to make the distinction since the 90's, with Lew Stead's Ravenbok being one of the more prominent examples.

      Plus, at the risk of bringing up a sore point, the fact that so many people in the neopagan community feel entitled to comment on how those of us in the Asatru community worship and organize ourselves, I think contributes much more to the confusion than anything else.

      After all, when people see prominent neopagans such as yourself, offering commentary and criticism on Asatru, it cannot but add to the perception that Asatru is merely a subset of neopaganism. Else why would you feel like you had the right to make such criticisms?

      After all, it's not like you (and I use that in the generic plural sense, not the personal sense) make similar and such vociferous criticisms of other faiths. But for some reason Asatru comes under constant and strident critique.

      If you treat us like your wayward stepchild, despite our decades-long attempt to divorce ourselves from you, don't be surprised when the general public picks up on your vibe. You treat us like one of your own, people are going to think it's the reality.

      So by all means disassociate yourself from Asatru. But please do it in such a way that you don't set yourself up as our judge in the process. All we want is to be left alone. You do that, I guarantee the public will figure out that we are distinct faiths, especially since we have been making that case for twenty years or more.

    2. There a bit of a standoff here, and to a certain extent it's unavoidable. Flat denials are rarely accepted - if I say "Asatru is not Pagan" and leave it at that, it's going to come across as No True Scotsman. The only way I can convince someone who doesn't know the difference that Asatru is not Pagan is to point out the ways we're different, and pointing out those differences usually comes across as judgement. Which, to be fair, it frequently is.

    3. Fair enough, and I think it's important to realize that we do the same thing from our end. I think it's all in the delivery, though. We don't tend to "judge" so much as "dismiss with disdain."

      But I think it is possible to point out the very real differences without being either judgmental or dismissive. Just resist the temptation to editorialize. "We believe X, then believe Y," and then shaddup. (And I say that as advice to both sides, with a tinge of humor, hopefully.) No need to add either virtue-signalling or fluffy-shaming, from either end. Stick to the basic facts.