Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rejecting Racism and Tribalism

In an interview Tuesday night, 15th September 2009, on NBC news, former President Jimmy Carter gave a courageous political analysis in which he asserted that racism lay at the root of some of the most vociferous opposition to President Obama that has been erupting in recent months in strange,furious and feverish forms, like the notion of some that he is not really an American, has a phony birth certificate, is actually an African, or is actually a Muslim, etc. etc. I have long believed President Carter to be one of the most sincere, intelligent and far-sighted leaders America has ever had, as evidenced by his ability to guide peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt to a successful conclusion back in 1978, and his declaration of the need for America to radically rethink its approach to energy consumption in light of the energy crises of the 1970s. He put in place all manner of programs to promote alternative energy, wind power, solar power, and so forth, charting a course that could have led us to energy independence if such forward-looking programs had not been discontinued by Ronald Reagan and never fully revived by any subsequent president.

To come back to the present time, I think Carter has once again spoken out with characteristic intelligence and insight about a very troubling social problem that continues to plague America: the legacy of racism that never seems to completely disappear, only to go underground and mutate into new forms. Back when many white liberals like myself were jumping for joy that a black American could finally be accepted as a serious candidate for the presidency, many of my African-American friends and colleagues were concerned about what might happen if Obama were to actually succeed in becoming president. Their concerns ranged from fear that he would be assassinated to less clearly defined worries that there would be some kind of backlash against Barack Obama coming from angry white Americans experiencing "fear of a black planet." In the exhilaration of Obama's successful campaign and the afterglow that followed his election, I tended to dismiss their anxieties. Now I understand better what their antennae were picking up on.

As a Pagan, I want no part of this. My anger at these recent eruptions of racism puts steel in my spine to call for any and all Pagans who have an ounce of conscience and any capacity for empathy and self-reflection to take very seriously the dangerous potential for forms of Paganism derived from native European religious traditions to take on racist overtones and become vehicles for racism, even if--ESPECIALLY BECAUSE--this may happen unintentionally and unconsciously.

I am confident that the vast majority of Pagans I have known either in Norse or Baltic Pagan groups or other forms as well are not racists and bear no ill will toward people with non-European ethnic backgrounds. However, the problem of unintentional and unconscious racism arises when Pagan religious groups formally or informally define their religious communities in ways that exclude or discourage people from other ethnic backgrounds from joining in as full and equal members, even if the exclusion is unintentional or unconscious. I would argue that such exclusion includes NOT INVITING people of other backgrounds. In an often racially polarized world, some effort to reach out is necessary if you actually want to form relations across racial barriers and boundaries.

To my thinking, Asatru/Heathenry/Norse Paganism has a special responsibility in this area because the Norse Pagan tradition was--it cannot be denied--used by the Nazis in the past to support their cruel and vicious racial policies. It is true that this was a horrible twisting of Scandinavian and Germanic folklore and mythology, and I am working on a project to specifically denounce this kind of falsification and manipulation, but the fact is, the legacy was established, and now needs to be fully deconstructed and rejected at every opportunity. Assuming the Norse gods have any need at all for anything from humans, I think they would appreciate having their reputation defended more than almost any kind of offering that might be presented to them. This remains an urgent matter today because modern-day far right and neo-Nazi groups continue to make allusions to Norse gods and traditions, and to not fight back against that kind of appropriation could be perceived by the wider public as a tacit or indirect endorsement. I know some Heathens or Asatruar get sick of hearing about this issue, but I think this is truly a sacred duty, which we shirk at our peril.

Furthermore, I would argue that the idea among many Pagans, particularly though not only Heathens, that their project of reconstructing ancient, pre-Christian religious traditions should include some attempt at recreating the tribal society of ancient times, is a misguided and dangerous idea that plays right into the hands of hard right racism and neo-Nazism, like it or not. This passion for tribalism seems to be particularly strong in the USA, and I have been less aware of it in my discussions with Northern European Pagans, but I imagine it exists in other places as well. The argument is, the old religion was followed by people living in tribal communities, so we should do the same. Well, I would say, hold on a minute. The old religion was practiced by people who practiced human sacrifice, by people who had slaves, by people who followed a medieval lifestyle without electricity, without plumbing, without computers, electronic entertainment, or pizza, without any number of things that we take for granted, including the English language, and I do not see that it is necessary for us to completely recreate all of that lifestyle in order to participate in spiritual traditions laid out in ancient myths and other sources.

We no longer live in a closed, tribal world, and I believe that most people, including most Pagans, would agree that we are far the better off for it. Our range of social and cultural opportunities is infinitely rich and stimulating, and why would we want to purposely reject that and seek a more insular and limited way of life? What is the great attraction of tribalism? I fear that in some cases, it is....racism. Perhaps unconscious racism based simply on a discomfort with "different" people, but racism nonetheless. The desire to shut out diversity, to be only with "one's own kind," to conceive of and believe in gods that supposedly only care about people of "our" ethnic background.

As I understand old European myths, they are not racially oriented. They speak of cosmic realities, not tribal boundaries. In the Norse tradition, Yggdrasil is the "world tree," not the Norwegian or German tree. It shelters ALL beings, not just certain fair-skinned people with blond hair, blue eyes and a limitless hunger for herring. Odin is called the "All-father;" what is the "all" about? These are just two examples of how there are strands in Norse tradition, as in other European traditions, that suggest a movement toward very broad thinking and universalism even in ancient times.

However, I will acknowledge that it is certainly possible to interpret the old gods and religious traditions in a narrow, tribal way, with respect to the undeniable fact that these old traditions were often only followed within certain regions, among certain groups of people who shared a common language, who had often lived in the same villages for many generations. My feeling, though, is that an originally tribal, medieval religion transplanted to modern times need not remain tribal and medieval, but can and should be adapted to the conditions of modern society, which are globalized and multiethnic.

I know that some of my old Pagan friends and acquaintances may disagree with my desire for a multiethnic Paganism, and I accept their right to have that point of view, and to be as medieval and tribal as they please, but I hope they will listen to the more basic point that unless they are able to intelligently, convincingly and consistently reject racism and explain why their ethnically exclusive Paganism is not a form of racism, the more will they earn a reputation as either actual or at least unconscious racists. Again, I am NOT saying that these people are racists. I am saying that appearances are important, and that when we are called to account, we all need to be able to explain ourselves, and to act in ways that match our proclamations. Simply saying "We are not racists!" means little if it is not matched by actions that counter racism, or if it is obviously contradicted by actions that suggest racism.

I am however determined to develop a different Pagan path, and I am grateful that on this blog, I am meeting up with people who share a similar perspective. I pledge myself to the effort to move Beyond Tribalism and Toward Universalism. Can this be done with an originally European-based Paganism? Yes, I think so, and future entries will explore this, hopefully with the active input of blog readers.


Ananta Androscoggin said...

As to the "World Tree," yes, indeed. However, most cultures have an idea of some sacred place which they hold to be the center of the world. Pike's Peak is one of them. Mount Olympus in Greece was another.

Of course, this is from when each culture had little contact with peoples from far away, and of course they tended to regard somewhere local, a place they knew and held sacred (often, but some non-material places such as Yggdrasil connecting the worlds, as well), as being that central point of the world.

Maelstrom said...

Yes, this is the "axis mundi" concept articulated by Mircea Eliade in several works like "The Myth of the Eternal Return."

Izzypop said...

I have to agree with you about the tribal issue in modern Asatru. It doesn't make much sense in today's society and has the look and feel of people who are separatists.
I don't think these folk get the big picture here. What you are doing is very important to those who would like this religion to be accepted by the mainstream. Many probably don't care about his and prefer to be viewed as different. I'm not sure. I know that I am concerned about the Asatru image being tainted buy backwards close minded folk.
Many American's think they live in the greatest country in the world and don't care about other cultures. It is hard to believe that pagans can feel this way but I guess some do.

Pitch313 said...

The post WWII Neo-Pagan movement in North America involves immigrants and the children of immigrants tossed together (if not mixed or blended) in a new and modern form of culture.

From the outset, then, the Neo-Pagan movement crossed, violated, transcended the culrutal and ethnic boundaries that characterized the tossed together immigrants' cultures and places of origin. Few, if any, had the "purity" they claimed.

But that being all tossed together sometimes made assumed purity important in shaping elements of the Neo-Pagan movement. The movement relied--probably too much--on ancestry and origin as tokens of legitimacy and direction.

I think that it's a hard thing to get beyond, however hard we may try.

Matt BP said...

My understanding of the Norse faith is that Yggdrasil or Irminsul (a term I prefer) is a tree that connects all the worlds and that each of these worlds (such as Midgard) are planets. So if that is the case, then tribalists have no leg to stand on, because the Heathen gods have always claimed everybody as theirs.
The problem with Paganism, by comparison, is that the Pagan gods in the north of Europe never claimed people as theirs, although they did in the southern European and Mediterranean traditions. The inclusiveness of some paths such as Wicca don't allow for exclusivity based on race because it is a religion based on appropriation of appropriate divine agents; short form is that Pagans can never agree on anything so why should race be any different?

Being a separatist is not the same thing as rejecting tribalism! I am a separatist but I agree with Maelstrom that we should reject exclusion and exclusivity based on race. Paganism & Heathenism are nothing to do with the politics of nations. Let me put it this way; if you were to move away from a country, you would not stop being the faith you are. I think that Izzypop is trying to talk about the idea of separating yourself and your folk from the community at large, as with Amish people or some Asatruar groups. I say "Why not?". If freedom and liberty and choice is so important to modern humanity, then what right has anyone to say you can't revert to a pre-industrial way of life without access to penicillin? Certainly its better for the environment, but then we all live in cultures where the path to enlightenment is to buy buy buy.

Pitch313 mentions melting-potism (I love isms) in North America. Of course the trick with talking about North America is to understand that generally people are ignoring most of its land and 1/3 of its population and are really just talking about the US. As I understand it, the US excels at sublimating people and cultures in its midst into itself. Examples would be Pennsylvania Germans, Pennsylvania Cymru, Midwest Swedish and pretty much anywhere east of the 100th meridian and Amerindian. The flip side of being anti-tribal is that you end up with a directionless mass of people willing to latch onto the first thing that gives them clarity of vision and sense of purpose - in the case of the American Midwest you have Republicans and Christ. Of course you could undermine my argument by pointing out that Hillbillys/Scots Irish are also into Republicanism and Christ, but the reasons for them are different.
All I'm saying is that a little bit of tribalism is fine, such as which football team you support, coupled with a profound sense of local identity that may or may not culminate in separatism. A lot of tribalism is bad, such as neo-nazis and Taliban.

Maelstrom said...

Matt BP: I am not clear what you are getting at about separatism. How is this different from exclusivism, which I am arguing borders on and sometimes involves racism?

Matt BP said...

I am arguing that separatism is a political action in order to stand apart as an independent nation. How is that anything to do with racism or Paganism/Heathenism?

Travis said...

The argument is not "we should do the same." Our purpose is this: To worship the gods in a manner that they find most acceptable. How we go from that purpose to reach the basis of the Theodish position (which is tribalist) is the following outline:
1) Everything the Germanic people did was informed by their religiosity. What modern Western people separate into "secular" and "religious" were coterminous for the pre-Christian Germanic people
2) The Germanic people believed that there were ways to worship the gods that were correct and failing to do those things correctly would be unlucky and potentially bring about disaster on the community
3) The ancient people knew the proper way to worship the gods, far better than we do or likely ever will
4) Failing to worship the gods properly can be unlucky for the worshiper and/or his community
5) The context in which the Germanic people worshiped the ancient gods was one of tribe and community
6) Putting oneself into a proper relationship with a community of worshipers, and that community putting itself into a proper relationship with the gods and that community making appropriate offerings in an appropriate fashion is the most appropriate way to worship the gods.
To form an tribe (more of proto-tribe really) and act appropriately within the context of that tribe is to worship the gods as they wish to be worshipped; that is the way the ancients worshiped; The context of that worship was as a tribal community and therefore the context for modern worship is also a tribal community. There is a range of what the gods accept (which is why I accept that Asatru's rather varied ritual practices are largely appropriate) but I do believe they have preferences. We try to get as close to those preferences as possible. We believe that tribalism facilitates this. Being a tribalist is essentially a way to get one self "right with the gods" if you will. I am somewhat dumbstruck by the idea that someone might get a racist theme from any of those theological arguments.

Maelstrom said...

I regret that I really do not have time to always give a thoughtful reply to readers' responses. Matt BP, I think I understand now that you are speaking about separatism in a political/way, not as an objective or method of Paganism. I also agree with your point that if people want to be tribal and exclusivistic, that is their right. It is just not the way I want to go, because to me it comes too close to racism and may give support to racism even when this is not the original intention. Travis, I thank you for a thoughtful exposition of the Theodish position in favor of tribalism. I do find myself unconvinced that you can really be so certain about exactly how things were done in the past and exactly who and what the gods are and how to please them. Our records of the past are fragmentary, and full of holes and contradictions, as most scholars of Norse, Anglo-Saxon and other Germanic texts and traditions readily acknowledge. Such texts are indeed very valuable, but they cannot be assumed to provide a comprehensive and completely reliable roadmap. I think there is plenty of justification to be skeptical and humble about how much we can know about what the ancients did and how best to practice the old religion. I believe this gives us every reason to blend knowledge of the old with invention of new forms and traditions that suit our times and lifestyle. After all, the old religion was always in transition anyway; it was not fixed in stone or frozen in amber. I respect that you probably don't agree, and I respect your point of view, but this is my view.

Travis said...

You make a straw man argument that because tribalists are reclaiming the baby we that we also want to drink the bath water.

"The old religion was practiced by people who practiced human sacrifice, by people who had slaves, ... without plumbing... or pizza ... I do not see that it is necessary for us to completely recreate all of that lifestyle in order to participate in spiritual traditions laid out in ancient myths and other sources."

I've been a heathen for 11 years. I've held the view that tribalism, theologically speaking, is the most authentic way to practice Germanic heathenry for most of that time. I would also argue that a non-tribal approach to heathenry is acceptable as long as the people are worshiping the gods in ways that seem appropriate. I see no reason why there can't be a number of approaches to heathenry existing along side one another. I have never argued, nor have I ever heard anyone argue that it was possible, desirable or our intention to "completely recreate" Germanic pre-Christian culture as if 1000 years had not passed. You must have a low opinion of our intellect if you are assuming that we would argue such a thing. You do not cite any source for the idea that "the ancients did it so we should to" or that we want to "completely recreate" the life of 500 AD. Whom or what group exactly does this idea come from? No one I know.

Secondly, you mentions "spiritual traditions." I assert that what a Theod does is a religion, not a spiritual tradition in the sense that a religion is a group activity and spirituality is a personal and private concern. In one sense I agree. One need not recreate anything from ancient life to practice a spiritual tradition because that is wholly private and personal in its scope and what meaning and value it has is personal. Even a little syncretism in following ones own personal spiritual practice is certainly appropriate. In the practice of Theodism and particularly Sweartfenn Theod as a theod, we make certain that what we do fits a Germanic ideal that we believe would be recognizable to our heathen ancestors even though we perform these rituals in modern clothes, sometimes giving offerings that would have been unknown to our ancestors such as distilled spirits.

I suppose if someone wants to accuse us of being racists, explicitly or unconsciously, that's their business. Being an American, I also believe in the notion of "innocent until proven guilty." I see no compelling evidence for such a claim anywhere in the post.

According to my dictionary , ethnicity is a cultural marker and race is a biological one. My niece was adopted from Guatemala as a baby and being raised in rural Indiana. Is she hispanic? Well sort of but really, in all the ways that matter she's a Hoosier. My point being, a multi-racial heathenry I have no problem with. A multi-ethnic religion seems to be a non sequitur to me.

Multi-ethnic heathenry is by definition multi-cultural heathenry which would make it Germanic and a blend of something else which is some sort of syncretism. Which would make it something else.

Maelstrom said...

And to Travis, another point of rebuttal. I don't follow your logic that because the Germanic peoples were living in tribal communities in the Pagan days of yore, the gods want for us to always and only remain in tribal communities. Applying the same logic, it would seem that we should reject all forms of lifestyle, social organization and technology that did not exist in the time of Beowulf, because the gods want us to remain in the lifestyle of the Middle Ages. This clearly can reach a point of absurdity. Did the gods speak Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon or American English? So which language should we speak today? Hmmm...However, I will acknowledge that all Paganism involves a degree of reconstruction of past lifestyles and forms of worship, and that every person or group will make different choices about what to reconstruct, what to adapt, what to keep, what to discard, what to replace. I do not see the need to reconstruct tribal social structure anymore than I see the need to live in a medieval house or eat medieval food, but I accept that you value the old social structure more than I do.

Travis said...

" I do find myself unconvinced that you can really be so certain about exactly how things were done in the past and exactly who and what the gods are and how to please them. "

I don't think we are certain. I would not claim to know what the gods are. To do so would be impious and presumptuous. I am claiming that the ancients knew the gods far better than we do. Where primary source material can substantiate a set of practices, which there are several that it does substantiate, we apply those practices. Academics hold the following to be true: The ancients had sacral kingship, tribal hierarchal social structure, performed animal sacrifice, held the extended family as the smallest divisible unit of society and many others. Several of those practices, it can be argued, date from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. On those bare bones, we can and have created a coherent and dynamic religion that allows us to make adjustments where they are needed but with a mindfulness of what fits the heathen worldview and what does not.

We don't just use primary sources. We use secondary sources, archeology, comparative religion, linguistics later folk lore sources etc. There is nothing implicit in reconstructing a basic Germanic ideal as a framework and guideline for practices in the contemporary setting which means we have to stick entirely to ancient practices. To do so is undesirable and impossible in any practical way. Some of our esoteric practices have no documented evidence earlier than 15th century, however we think that some of these techniques fit in with a broader Germanic worldview and work in practical ways that fit. They are however, Germanic or at least things that were accepted in a culture that was still at least nominally Germanic and pagan in it rural regions.

Maelstrom said...

Travis, you have stated your position quite well, and I have stated mine. Let's agree to disagree. I do not wish to argue when it is clear we are coming from very different perspectives.

Matt BP said...

I think that this is a good time to point out that if people can agree to disagree and not stone each other to death then we have come a long way from the great northern forests of Europe. While I support the choice of people to live pretty much any way they please, it is only so long as they don't try to force me into believing in the same way.

I can see that I was looking at what Maelstrom meant by 'separatism' in the wrong sense; I agree that being separate based on traditional folk lines could lead to a racist enclave (in much the same way that the Appalachians were seeded with militantly Christian Scots-Irish and Cymru to act as buffers against Spanish, French and Native influence during the era of British colonisation of North America and the 7 Years War). However, I think that fear is at least partly based on the assumption that people embarking on the creation of a folkish enclave would only take with them similarly coloured individuals and families. My own family has every colour present, from the black-as-the-ace-of-spades of my cousin Antony to the near albino colouring of my Grandma. My wife and I are darker than most of the our family, with the exception of Antony of course. Are modern families really at as much risk of developing racist agendas as our tribal ancestors? We tend to come a greater variety of backgrounds, religions, creeds and circumstances than our ancestors did, helped along by modern technology, particularly in the way of travel. The fact that most Asatruarmen are white doesn't diminish that what takes us into this new era of Heathenism is not the same climate as what lead us out of it 1500 years ago.

Matt said...

Thanks for creating this blog. I'm a heathen who left "organized" heathenry because I couldn't stomach or ignore the white nationalism that infuses groups like the AFA, the AA, and the Odinic Rite. I'd like to be part of something different, but I'm not sure its possible here in the USA at this time.

Maelstrom said...

Matt, I really sympathize and wanted to thank you for your many interesting comments on this blog. I am actually feeling hopeful about the prospects of creating a new form of Norse Paganism that addresses the kinds of concerns that you and I and others are raising here and elsewhere. I think there are a whole lot of disgruntled solitary Asatruar out there looking for an alternative. I am actually in agreement with probably 80% of what existing Asatru groups do, but that last 20% is difficult. I can see taking the existing template and reworking it, to make it less closed and more open and multi-ethnic. Can you?

Maelstrom said...

Also, Matt, I would be curious to hear your take on Asatru/Heathenry in Australia and NZ.

Matt BP said...

Damn you for setting me homework! But thanks for the acknowledgement Maelstrom - unfortunately the knowledge of the status of Heathenry and Asatru in Australia is fairly limited (due to being a fairly hermit-like Awenyddion Pagan), but I will find out, talk to some people and write on here about it. I feel a bit like Jon Safran!

I do think there is always a better way.

Anonymous said...

Your basic argument seems to be that Heathens are guilty until proven innocent. That the onus is on Heathens to prove they aren't racist. Surely the burden of proof is on the accuser?

I am a young "white" guy. I shave my head because it feels clean and have a Swastika/Fylfot tattoo on my chest because it's a symbol of Thunor. That this symbol is at least 12,000 years old and used in a variety of cultures is a matter of historical record; anyone who is ignorant enough to assume I have a Nazi tattoo is not the sort of person whose opinion I can be bothered thinking about. All the people I associate with know it is an ancient symbol and know I'm not a Nazi. I have no real opinion about Jews one way or the other and no interest in having them gassed. They are not really relevant in my worldview and nor were they relevant in the worldview of my ancestors. I don't feel I have a duty to start interacting with them to prove I'm not a racist. Who do I need to prove it to?

I think the other problem is agreeing on a definition of racism. My definition of racism is the belief that one's own race is objectively superior and has more right to exist than another. It is about malice. It is about calling members of other races insulting names and wishing them harm. Wishing to live apart from other races isn't racist in my book. It's the opposite of racism. If you live apart form other races then you can't oppress them. Racism is only a problem when races mix. Politicians mix races together and then wonder why racism is on the rise. It's like mixing gunpowder and fire and wondering why it exploded.

I think I'm a good person. I don't think my race makes me better than someone from another race and when I see people from other races I don't want to hurt them. But I don't feel the need to go out my way to prove my non-racism to some hypothetical person who thinks Heathens are racist.

Seeing Eye Chick said...

There is a closed identity to Tribalism. However, I do not see how this could be any better or worse than the Covens of British Traditionalist Witchcraft. There is also a certain level of elitism present in being accepted within such specialized and exacting groups.

Its very enclosed, insular--controlling. Those things offer an emotional intimacy that other less structured groups might not. But there is also the appearance, of the perfect place for abusive personalities to set up shop.

As an American, {as my own kind of idiosyncratic American--} the lack of a royal family or traditions that surround that sort of culture, cause me to instinctively avoid such groups.

I found that encountering the mentality found within this type of tribalism, drew up to the surface, a deep intrinsic value of rugged individualism.

It is one thing to pull together as a community to defend against perceived evils, but it's another entirely to embrace a life wherein your thoughts and ideas are examined regularly from without to ensure that one is conforming to this or that ideological or theological mindset/worldview.

I found that to be offensive as a Christian in the Mainstream Community. The distaste that I had for that sort of controlling behavior did not lessen, even though it had been repackaged as Paganism or Heathenry.

It seemed odd to me, to embrace Paganism or Heathenry, while crying out that it is my freedom to do so, only to give up that upon conversion to some other religion.

Matt BP said...

SEC - some people (clearly not yourself) crave to be controlled, and like the rigid rules and mindset associated with it, irrelevant of their particular religion. As an Australian, I would instinctively steer away from groups that aren't largely egalitarian. Australians would be natural pure Communists, as opposed to the Stalinist travesty, if they ever actually picked up a book and read about it.

Maelstrom said...

To "Anonymous" : I appreciate your sincerity in expressing views, but your apparent belief that it is best for races to not mix is to me indeed racism. The world is full of people with mixed ethnicity and/or mixed race. Your reasoning is disturbingly reminiscent of white supremacist groups who see mixed race people as "mud people" who deserve to be exterminated---also the opinion of a certain Mr. Hitler. I will grant that your lack of desire to do any harm to non-white people is better than a desire to cause harm, but the attitude of avoiding other races and condemning racial mixture gives aid and comfort to those who are violent racists. You might also consider the Apartheid regime of South Africa, a fairly recent experiment in racial separation that no one is particularly proud of anymore. We are living in a multi-ethnic world, where different races have to find a way to live together, and, I would argue, where the most pleasant and well-developed places to live are societies that do embrace all races and peoples. The days of closed tribal communities are long past for most people on the planet. I hope someday you can discover what a nice life it is when you can interact with people of different backgrounds and enjoy all they have to offer.

Seeing Eye Chick said...

I am a mud person. You would never know it by looking at me or my kids. But go back one or two generations, and do a compare/contrast on our skin and hair and eye color.

A Mud Person in addition to being insufficiently "genetically" white {if there is such a thing} is also someone who is insufficiently ethnically white, as well as a non Christian {insert WASP designation}.

Thats me. And I laugh at people who say such things in my general direction, because they believe that just by looking at me, that they can stereotype me as "one of them."

I have gotten many chuckles out of their ASS-umptions.

mohnkern said...

Being a "non-racist" heathen I agree with you that the question of racism needs to be addressed, and its an ongoing process.

However, I don't believe the concept of tribalism is necessarily a bad one, depending upon context.

The core of tribalism has two parts to it:

1. Loyalty to tribe. From my perspective, this is a good thing. Loyalty to ones family, or family of choice is a good thing. Loyalty is actually at the heart of a lot of what Norse Paganism is about, including the non-racist flavors. I don't see how one could argue that Loyalty to tribe is a bad thing.

2. The establishment of customs and beliefs within the tribe. Asatru in particular, has developed extremely well along these grounds. If one is Asatru and relocates, one can presume many of the ritualistic practices and beliefs are similar. There may be regional differences, but the core always seems to be the same. The ritual structures of Blots and Sumbels are very similar from group to group.

This doesn't mean that things can't be taken to an extreme, and unfortunately tribalism in the northern european religions has been taken to an extreme in the past.

The Havamal teaches moderation. This is the case with Tribalism as well. A little tribalism is ok, when one uses it as the primary "force" in a religion, it becomes problematic.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it just be easier for everyone if white pagans just convert to Judaism? That way the Jewish population would increase to healthy numbers far above the mere 16 million worldwide.

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