Drawing the line – when the line becomes the problem.

So lately, there’s been so hub-bub over between a few groups –

The AFA – Asatru Folk Assembly. The largest Asatru association in the US with groups in Europe, Central & South America and other places. Run by Stephen McNallen – a Folkish Aastruar. He claims to have stood with the people of Tibet, saved elephants in Africa and fought in Burma. He also claims White Privledge doesnt exist, is a member of a few white power groups on social media and that racialism is not racism. McNallen has in the past denounced racism, but has stated (in more than one forum) he will not tell another group of people(s) what to do. Some see this as accepting racism in his org. Some see it as “Not my monkeys, not my circus”. The AFA has a very large membership and Im lucky enough to know a few, whom I respect very deeply. And none are racist and have openly denounced it.

The Troth – A group with little social media presence, but a huge membership that is more apt to be present at Cons and gatherings. The Troth has been around almost as long as the AFA and are open to anyone/everyone and stand firmly against racism in Germanic Heathenry. Many will say they are anti-Loki, yet half their leadership is Loki friendly and they do dedicate an area for Loki and those who venerate him at gatherings. Some see this as exclusion by segregation. The Troth has since it’s beginning denounced racism. One of the admins at AAA is a member of The Troth and has been for quite awhile. He is EXTREMELY anti-racist, very knowledgeable and respected by many in the heathen community, including his own Kindred.

and HUAR – Heathens United Against Racism. A group run by Ryan Smith, for Ryan Smith and basically… Ryan Smith. Because last year Ryan systematically elminated the entire staff at HUAR and retooled it. The message(s) of HUAR was to denounce and stamp out racism in Heathenry, which everyone I know of can get behind. Theyve published statements against it, statements to stand with those who are victims of it and other hatreds, against racist/hate crimes and are active on The Wild Hunt and cons. One of HUARs first acts was a Nithing pole against racism.

The AFA …
The AFA has a reputation of being racist. Which is incredibly false. Yes, there are a shit ton of members and kindreds who are stone cold racist. Why?! Why doesnt McNallen denounce racism? Because has and does – though his definition of it is obsolete. McNallen and many who love the man seem to think racist means love of ones race. Some use the term racialist to mean the same. The problem being – race meant nothing to our ancestors except as a different color of skin. Slaves were of any color, anyone could be freed of this caste system of slavery or buy themselves free and our ancestors married anyone those chose, no matter their color. The confusion is people think skin color is something to be proud of and the default way of taking pride in Germanic heathenry. McNallen has stated Germanic heathenry is open to anyone and how they practice is their own business, no matter who they are. McNallen DOESNT do is tell other heathens how to conduct their kindreds/groups. I see this as two fold – first, Im going to agree with McNallen here (GASP!) and say I will not tell any kindred how to run themselves, nor am I going to deny a racist Heathen the fact that they are indeed Heathen. Second, McNallen makes his living off the AFA. If he came out and denounced racist members and kindreds who claim AFA membership, and removed them, that’s alot of money lost. I still contend that’s why he put out his last book. This doesnt excuse racism, and to think it does is utter nonsense. Racism is wrong and should be denounced, and when a racist tries to stand up and deny others rights based on skin color, everyone (EVERYONE) should stand up and say NO. I write this as an American, and so is McNallen. We both reside here and take advantage of a rights backed by our country’s forming document(s) – Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Press and “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. An we as Americans can take issue with his words, and many of us do on varying degrees of verbal protest, or physical protest.

My opinon of McNallen? Do I think he’s a racist? I cannot say yes or no. I think he has different opinions on issues, many of which I strongly disagree with. I think he doesnt have an inner voice telling him NOT to post what he’s thinking and it backfires. His “White priviledge doesnt exist” post and this Freikorps post scream of someone needing to be checked because he isnt fully grasping what these things really ARE. Ive heard from MANY people who have been told by Steve and Sheila to look to their native religions when inquiring about AFA membership because they arent German or white. German cannot be seen or measured on the skin, and genetic tests werent ordered, so the suggestions by the McNallen’s were based on skin color or by the person stating their families were from Not-Germany-Country. Again, Im going to agree with McNallen here and say if you’re, by example, Japanese, you should look into your homeland’s religious and cultural beliefs. Not first, not after, but just look when you like. You dont need to adopt them, but if you do – I support you. If you decide that Asatru, Odinism, Forn Seid, etc is for you, I will support you as well. Asatru is a religion of our ancestors, family line and the results of this. So why wouldnt you want to know of your familys cultural heritage? But your skin color doesnt exclude you from following the Aesir, Vanir and Jotuns.

The Troth….
The Troth has a reputation of being more fair, open, anti-racist and accepting. Theyre almost silent in social media but so many claim membership. I am friends with a few on Facebook and find them living “Tru” to be more refreshing than seeing McNallen’s fluff posts offering nothing about Asatru or the influx of undigestable anti-racist hate posts. There’s an issue brought up and being discussed online about how the founder – Steven Abell – apparently attacked People of Color at the Pantheacon 2015. Though after an extensive web search I cannot find anything to back this up except HUAR saying he did and them producing a 54 page document which I cannot find as well. Speaking to a few members of The Troth, the org tries to balance everyone’s view points, and compromising. This bothers some people, others find it working out just fine. I personally see it as a baby step in the right direction (RE: Loki’s Ve at gatherings). Recently The Troth has issued an article denouncing McNallen’s call for the reinstitution of the Freikorps in regards to the Islamic migration to Central/North Europe.

*** I want to say here that McNallen DID NOT call for the reformation of the Freikorps. He said, and quote directly from the post this is all based on – “Germany – that is the German people, not sellout traitors like Merkel – deserve our full support…Where are the Freikorps when we need them?” This was totally stupid to even post and honestly, his responsibility as a leader of the AFA should indeed hold him accountable, not as punishment, but to explain what he meant. To date, he has not. Cant force him to, and history will judge his words. ***

HUAR….
I am not an official member and if joining the group made me one, I joined and quit 3x. HUAR started shortly after AAA and did nothing for years. Sure, theyre doing more NOW but when they started the group was basically doing two things – posting all members who want to join on the group for pre-approval and hating on the AFA. I left when I asked Ryan Smith what HUAR was doing to battle racism and was basically told they shouldnt have to do anything, I should be doing something. I figured openly denouncing racism on AAA (a page that reaches 15-250k people a week) was a pretty good start. So I left. I joined again much later and saw no change, and left again. Then the final time I saw Ryan breaking his own rule – letting people in without a group vote because the person he admitted was popular. This member was a part of Do You Even Heathen, bro? A group of cyber bullies who almost every group had kicked from their own groups and the DYEHB member would create (and deny they created) fake accounts to get back in to do screenshots and mock other Heathens. Needless to say, more than 1 person left HUAR after that and it backfired and the DYEHB people started their shit (DYEHB members now openly mock HUAR). HUAR banned the DYEHB people after. Many past admins at HUAR have written and done some amazing work to stand against racism. And ex-admin at AAA and HUAR wrote a great 10 page piece on McNallen and Circle Anuz, taking it deeper. Another ex-admin is extremely vocal and prominent in Central American Asatru and fighting racial there. An ex-admin is a very vocal feminist and LGBT activist. These people were all fired from HUAR.

AAA’s experience with HUAR. Last year, through a glitch in Facebook (because admins on their own pages had mysterious “Likes” appear they didnt actually “Like”) a “Like” appeared on a followers comment about “bluemen” and “kikes”. Both derogatory racist terms. When we at AAA discovered it, we deleted the comment, removing the like. We had heard that HUAR had jumped on it and was discussing us in their group. At the time, I had 4 people as friends on Facebook as admins in HUAR and messaged two people about it. Rudy said he’d check on it and let me know (and he never did). Another admin at AAA was asked about it because they shared dual admin at HUAR and again, nothing came of it. AAA stood with HUAR up til that time and has since distanced itself from HUAR – not the message. HUAR in social media Heathen circles is rabidly defended by some and criticized by others as a far left liberal shame group of narcissists. Then HUAR imploded when Ryan fired his entire staff besides himself and a couple others – depending on who you talk to it’s because either Ryan 1.) Only wanted his brand of white people denouncing racism, 2.) Is racist himself, 3.) Disagreed with other admins at HUAR wanting to expand into transphobia, homophobia and LGBT rights/lack of, 4.) Ryan didnt want PoC (people of color) as admins and 5.) The admins fired changed the bylaws and got canned because they broke the rule(s). I have no idea which, though I do know it was based on his ego.. And now they continue theyre unabated hatred of Steve McNallen and the AFA. After this Ryan messaged myself about a comment I made 3 years ago on AFA and when I couldnt give it concrete physical proof, he acted like a smug FBI agent on a Communist hunt, so I just ended it.

Now, racism is detested and denounced by every single group I belong to. Many Ive seen in HUAR speak of and many now supporting Ryan say Folkish is a nice name for racist. Folkish is the belief in family lines/blood and the tribe sharing these. And yes, adoption of those not of the blood. The folk are tribe/family to Folkish and that’s their religious belief. To think blood linked tribal groups didnt exist in the past is foolish. It has happened and does happen. And it’s valid! If you believe we are descendants of the gods (the latest link in the blood ties from Germanic families, or even from Heimdallr) then the family line and your clan being made up ONLY of those of your family is valid, and just as true as one open to anyone. AAA has denounced racism & the admins past and present denounce it (loudly and often). But apparently someone taking a stance against racism isnt enough for HUAR because at the end of the day, if youre not screaming RACIST as loud as they, you are the enemy. Squarely regarding Steven T. Abell’s article basically calling Ryan out on being an agent of shaming. Many are defending Ryan, which is fine. Defend him but also be aware of what he’s doing. Which is shaming people who dont agree with him – not about racism and ending it, but because Abell recognizes McNallen as the most recognizable face in Asatru and Abell has known McNallen longer then probably many heathens have been on Midgard. Ryan deals in what he can touch and what he hears. What /he/ hears. If you have experience (like I have) with Folkish heathens who are not racist in the least, that’s not enough for HUAR.

Abell decided to announce he is civil with McNallen, doesnt agree with everything he says, denounces racism and puts up McNallen as honest in dealings between himself and McNallen, so according to many – Abell is now a racist apologist. Looking for some expansion on this, I was referred to Abell’s blog, which reads almost the same as his recent 2016 article. If this is a racist apologist, than no one is using the term correctly and they need to stop. It’s gone so far as people who agree with HUAR are saying Abell should be banned from publishing at Patheos in the future. So because he disagrees with the way Ryan is coducting his shame tactics and witch hunts, he should be denied writing an article expressing his opinon(s) which are perfectly valid in the grand scheme of racism in Heathenry? If Abell was stating ONLY white people should be Asatru or follow Germanic Heathenry, Id raise my hand and cast my vote as well. But he didnt, nor has he ever. But that doesnt matter. He didnt openly condemn McNallen as a racist “stain” on Heathenry that needs to be removed from it because he’s hurting it.

This has gone too far. HUAR wants McNallen kicked out of Heathenry – essentially “excommunicating” him. HUAR wants Abell kicked off of Patheos – essentially censoring him because he dosnt agree with them. Does anyone see the problem here? I do, it’s HUAR. The message has been lost in ego and politics. It needs to STOP. HUAR isnt the Asa-Police. Many have compared it to McCarthy-era Communist hunt tactics. And I for one am sick of it. Abell is not an apologist, if you think he is, good luck to you. We dont agree and probably wont. Is McNallen a racist? Im torn. I do not like the man from what he’s said, but I do not KNOW him. People who do, for DECADES, have given me their opinions of him and I respect them far more than Ryan Smith and HUAR.

Racism is an issue, the LARGEST, in modern heathenry. It needs to be removed – BY EDUCATION. Not by force, not by shame, not my witch hunts.

~Thorendahl

Thought of the Day 1/9/2016 – Exclusion because I wasn’t raised in a foreign country?!

Lately Ive been more active in some groups I havent spoken out in, or on pages Ive Liked and follow. Sadly, one I had actually enjoyed due to their art has proven themselves to be segregationists against everyone not them – be it by skin color or by country of birth and even your parents’ religion(s).
 
Ive heard arguments from some Asatruars that those not of Nordic descent and living in/raised in and currently residing a Nordic nation shouldnt follow Asatru, because it’s their cultures’ faith and they compare it to Native American faiths. Also that Americans shouldnt practice Asatru because we are not Nordic and have no right to it. Actually, I had a debate with someone who told me that unless you were born into a Nordic pagan household and raised that way, you cannot be pagan and that if you rediscover your pre-Christian cultures’ faith, that no matter what you do, you arent a pagan.
 
A few holes in that belief..
 
First of all “Native American faiths” is bullshit. There are literally hundreds of tribes in the Americans, and while some have overlap, they are not centralized or considered the same. When tribes come together, the “brotherhood” witnessed comes from generations being forced to give up their folk beliefs at the end of a barrel of a gun, or economically or socially. And a understanding not of deities, ritual and tribal spirituality, but of a relationship/world view with nature and the land. Relationship with the Earth and the land. Between people with respect and wisdom. Native American tribes to this day are still being treated like 3rd class citizens.
 
Second, Native Americans, generally do share the same ancestors as all of us. Same tree, different branch, just as Germanic tribes are a different branch as well. European-Americans are included in the segregationist Nordic “native” peoples claim that Americans shouldnt practice Asatru in the context of which I am speaking and I find it hilarious as America is a melting pot – many different cultures all coming together to form a new culture either encompassing them all or further their own in a different environment. AND THIS INCLUDES IMMIGRANTS FROM THE NORDIC NATIONS AND GERMANY. So why cant European-Americans practice Asatru? Because we werent born in any of the Nordic nations, speak the native languages of those countries and have over a thousand years of Christianization?
 
Finally, saying that we European-Americans cannot/should not be pagan because we werent born into/raised in and currrently live in a pagan culture is utter nonsense. The last Nordic nation to convert was Iceland and both Christianity and folk practice was adopted and practiced. If you can trace your line 1000 or so years back to a people who practiced the native folk ways of the Nordic nations, that is some of PRIDE for your family line but it IS NOT a tool of exclusion of others who might be of a line that adopted Christianity as a voluntary choice (or even an involuntary one). You cannot use a blood argument to included those of blood and excluse those of blood. It’s illogical and frankly impossible.
 
Sorry, no. We (European-Americans) have the right to practice Asatru – genetically and/or by our own personal choice. And just because we have the right to do so, doesnt give us (or native Norwegains) the right to deny OTHERS their practice of Asatru.
 
Finally, I just want to say, I have nothing against native Nordic practitioners of Asatru and their countries’ folk ways. I speak above of only a dozen examples I have run across in social media. Never judge a book by it’s cover.
 
~Thorendahl

Bragi’s Corner – Asatru A Native European Spirituality by Stephen McNallen

Bragi’s Corner – Asatru A Native European Spirituality by Stephen McNallen

Based on the 2015 print version.

AANES

:sigh:

FIRST – this is not a review of Folkish vs Universalist. Besides the mention below, there is no sides taken here for/against Folkish or Universalist. If you take one and base your opinion on this book, that’s on you. My review of this book is based on what I believe this book can do/does for readers coming to Germanic heathenry and how it fails utterly.

Stephen McNallen. Probably the most recognizable figure in Asatru today, runs the AFA, the largest nationwide org for Asatru in America and it has it’s fingers in other countries in Europe and Central/South America. McNallen is a rabid folkish Asatruar, actually speaking of Universalist Asatru with disgust and disdain, yet he preaches anyone following the path in any manner they wish…

…wow this review is going well. I am not a professional and I am not paid for my reviews. I do not know McNallen personally, only from his written words so while it might seem ad hominem is all up in this review, please keep in mind, Im basing alot of this review on what Ive seen McNallen post on Facebook, blogs, other groups and other works.

McNallen’s “beginners” Asatru book was easily recognizable for what it was by chapter 4 (and chapters are 3-6 pages, large font and lacking in real information) – a paycheck book. He wrote a beginners book because beginners books are pretty popular now – especially Lafayllve’s book (which I review last week). If you seeking academic research into the gods, Germanic lifestyle or ritual – look elsewhere. This book offers so little, it actually hurts (I developed 3 headaches reading this book).

How to read this book…

Step 1 – Flip to Part Two: Practicing Asatru. Rip the book in half, and throw Part 1 away. I have no idea how McNallen, someone devoted to Odin, can give Odin less information than Loki, a god (Loki is ranked in the Aesir in Ásatrúarfélagið, so sorry McNallen) he bans from any AFA gatherings. He essentially speaks of less then a half dozen gods in any detail (which is horribly lacking). Notably Ullr gets a paragraph yet Skadhi gets a one line mention? Part Two of the book will offer you background on Sumbel and Blot, the runes and holidays/days of remembrance. The latter you can get in a book published LONG before this one called Our Troth Vol. 2 which is roughly the same price and 4x longer with much MUCH more academic background and information.

Step 2 – Put it on the shelf and never read it again.

I have actually no other praise for this book. McNallen’s breakdown of the soul complex is essentially bathe daily (really, he descibes Lyk – the Body as take a bath and your body is good) and Jung, Jung, Jung – who is not an authority or even approaches Asatru or Germanic heathenry. McNallen’s sources for this book are to be 75% Edred Thorsson, 20% Carl Jung and 5% Vine Deloria (A Lakota activist and writer who passed away, who McNallen exchanged letters with). Much of McNallen’s work is based on comparison to other cultures, while he constantly speaks of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism (his disdain of Universalist religions showing through).

Special note regarding McNallen’s comparison of Asatru to Native American paths (which is rather broad…) he quotes a story from someone who attends a pow wow and when it’s over, is escorted off the circle and grounds by a Lakota elder because it’s “Indians only”. McNallen goes on to say that outsiders cannot understand and should be removed from these gatherings and the Lakota get it because of this story.

Sorry, wrong. The man was removed because it was a pow wow. Anyone who pays $10 can goto one but that does not guarantee everyone can attend a tribal dance or gathering. This story is basically a non-point. It means NOTHING to Asatru and attempts (horribly) to crowbar people apart with a falsehood.

Loki…. McNallen states (with certainty) that our ancestors did not worship Loki because there are no place names for him. Let me just quote Carl Sagan – “absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.” That’s it. No other proof of non-Loki worship, nothing. Do you want information on Germanic lifestyle, the gods, Asgard, the gods interacting with humans? Look elsewhere, it’s not here. McNallen does go onto to barely discuss the afterlife where he basically says Hel isnt bad, but if you’re weak or less of a person, you go to Hel. … WHAT?! McNallen spends more time telling us that a weak soul (because of people’s lack of experience and growth as a person) is why people go to Hel, he basically ignored all other afterlife discussions. Valhalla gets a mention and other halls (not by name) the gods have that people go to, but he doesnt expand on this – AT ALL. But apparently getting into Asgard means sticking to principles (The Six Fold Path and Nine Noble Virtues are given as tools to this). It basically ignores historical sources. Essentially, “Be a good, well rounded, traveled person who stands for something and you can get into Valhalla!”

The only other part of this book is the semi-biographical bits about the AFA and it’s formation, McNallen’s life creating the old AFA, it’s ending and the new AFA along with drops of his time in Burma, fight for Tibet and Native America experience.

McNallen’s book falls short of an Asatru beginners book. There’s little to no information about creation, the gods, interaction with the gods, Germanic/Heathen lifestyle/views, Asatru today. There are many better books out there, for less, written better with more sources than the Eddas, Tacitus, Saxo and Jung.

This book touches on some heathen principles other books either forget/avoid/remain mute about. Most especially the Soul Complex. I was excited to see so much page-space given on something Ive read about but always want more information about. But it fails… Jung, Jung, Jung. Im sorry, I need to mention it again that Lyk is bathe and stay clean for the body is important. Fletch/Fylgja seems jumbled/confused as I think McNallen didnt want to admit that Fylgja is similar to animal spirits/guides/totem.

Also lacking – Alfar, Disir, Dwarves, in depth realm talk, academic research, Saga information, Innagard/Utgard, any real information on frith/grith.

McNallen’s book sums upto this (because the first 4 chapters read like a Scientology introduction):

“What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? Asatru has the answers! The Ultimate Self-Help Book!” But doesn;t even answer these questions (like anyone can).

1/5 stars. And it gets that star ONLY for the rune chapter(s) and days for remembrances.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Asatru-European-Spirituality-Stephen-McNallen/dp/0972029257/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449142876&sr=8-1&keywords=asatru

Bragi’s Corner – A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru by Patricia Lafayllve

Bragi’s Corner – A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru by Patricia Lafayllve
Based on the 2013 Print Edition

9780738733876

This book was on my wishlist awhile, but like my fellow heathens, Ive read quite a few beginners books and they all focus on the same thing. After becoming Asatru in 2007, I can recite every story of the gods from memory and essentially give everyone a 5 minute run down on every Aesir, Vanir and Jotun, so I waited to buy this book.

Now I have to say, there are many beginners books – the most popular being Essential Asatru by Diana Paxson and Asatru for Beginners by Erin Lale. Both are great, well read, informed and friendly authors that offer worlds of information on their books. Lafayllve’s does as well. Patricia’s edge is how new it is. Asatru is evolving every year with new academic research and many people joining the faith. Patricia’s book kicks up the basic information into a more intermediate level with a large focus on wights and alfs. The background on heathen worldview is VERY well worded and presented, allowing many who are entering Asatru from other faiths such as Wicca and Buddhism to get a grasp on how Asatru (and Germanic heathenry) views the world.

My only gripes about this book are how a “majority” or “most” heathens don’t honor Loki or Jotuns outside the Aesir/Vanir innangard. If you go to AFA or Troth events, Loki is either forbidden or subjugated to a Ve dedicated to him. The appendix in the back of Patricia’s book is a good addition, but entirely too short. Loki in today’s modern Heathen world is draped in dogmatic Christian baggage that he is a Satan character to Odin’s Yahweh and Baldr’s Jesus. This goes against idea of a world accepting view and one that the past is fixed and influenced the present which creates the future (as Patricia’s book states).

And the 2nd gripe – the afterlife. More than once Patricia mentions how Heathens are not so concerned with what happens in the afterlife. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So many heathens scream – SCREAM – Victory or Valhalla! Or even press the opposite, we’re all going to Hel (Helheim). The gung ho heathen Viking crowd is the most vocal and recognized as Asatru by the world as how we are, because they glorized carrying heavy axes, mail, helmets and seem to be overly obsessed with death. This is an extreme focus on a single aspect of Odin which appears in the Sagas written about times when open war was an every day thing. If you compare the Eddas to the Sagas, Odin rarely ever is as blood thirsty as his followers in VICTORY OR VALHALLA groups portray him to be. I do agree that what happens after we die weren’t as a huge a “deal” as many heathens make it be today, and that’s because Valhalla-ism is a Christian left-over. And most heathens will not be going their.

Each chapter in the book cites their sources, which makes the reader’s adventures into further works and academia easier. And also sample rituals, and ritual/holiday breakdowns are available at the end of chapters and even a chapter on our holidays. The gods and wights have meditations at the end of each chapter as well. Reading this book, I can easily see it expanding into a library for Patricia, especially into Seidr.

I dont practice Seidr, or Galdr but the books I’ve touched on that want to teach people are heavily mixed between Wicca influenced MUS (no offense, but a lot is MUS) to well documented accounts of Seidr practice in modern times by respected members of the community balanced with Academia. Patricia touches on Seidr and her honesty that one cannot learn it from an intro book is very true. I would love to see a more in depth Seidr book from Patricia. Hopefully it will be cultural and not multi-cultural (influenced by non-continental Shamanistic peoples/tribes).

Patricia’s book NEEDS to be “required reading” for many new heathens entering Asatru. The book balances academia and modern practice perfectly and offers information available out there for heathens to find, but nothing really “new”. And one shouldn’t expect it to give some all-revealing information lost to us about Germanic heathenry. What this book DOES do, is break down the basic information, with modern educated sources by a modern practitioner in clear wording that is not flowery of Norse-wrapped Wicca. I skipped the first few meditations/rituals (because I do my own private ones), but I went back over a few and these will really help people. I honestly would dump the Hammer Rite.

The book only lacks in Loki information and condemnation of Nazi bastardization of our symbols. I would say the latter NEEDS to be addressed in any academic or devotional work, as many casual or new readers could stumble across an Othala symbol and become confused.

This book easily scores a 4.5/5 for a beginners/intermediate work for Asatruars. A well versed, long time heathen will probably take little to nothing from the book, but from what I’ve seen a majority of heathens NEED this book.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Heathens-Guide-Asatru/dp/0738733873/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1448019958&sr=8-2&keywords=asatru&pebp=1448021067152&perid=0RNFHH4VB3JX30DMJ956

Thought of the Day – 11/9/2015 – So Twinkies…

Let’s set the stage…

3 years ago, Hostess went bust. Hostess was the maker of baked goods from bread to Twinkies. They had a large plant here in Orlando, FL. Driving by this plant and smelling baking bread is probably one of the happiest memories most Orlando, Floridians have and many tourists have mentioned it as well. It employed 200 people.

Hostess Twinkies

Hostess Twinkies

In WWII, Twinkies were given to our soldiers to remind them of home. Twinkies originally had banana cream inside them and it was replaced by vanilla whipped cream because bananas were also given to Our Boys as a little piece of home. Twinkies are a staple in today’s culture, mostly as something that lasts forever (when actually shelf life is 3 weeks and that’s if they’re not kept outside and dry).

Twinkies actually went for hundreds of dollars a box here in Florida. People stood around the block to get into the Merita plant’s store to buy bread and Twinkies because the iconic confection was going away.

I was lucky enough to locate some. Yes, Im a large guy and I have eaten Twinkies. Not too much growing up (I was a pecan tart man myself) but they became a snack in my lunch box when I worked security. I honestly havent had one myself in quite a while now. But when they were rare I managed 2 boxes from the local Walmart. And yes, I gave some to Sunna as an offering, and not in exchange for anything. And when I was disabled from acute tendinitis where I couldnt walk and had to miss work and goto the doctor, I gave some to Eir for help (and this was like 2 weeks after being hobbled).

And I honestly believe Eir helped. Do I think she likes Twinkies? I honestly have no idea and it’s foolish to think she’s in Asgard munching on a the two I offered or offended by them.

The point was – the sacrifice. I gave something of value (personally and monetarily) in hopes of an exchange with the gods.

I have not given any since because Hostess was bought out and Twinkies are readily available everywhere from Walmart to a mom ‘n pop gas station in BFE. But groups and people like to attack people on social media aka “ad hominem”. Attacking the person, not the work. Well, people Im sorry but giving baked goods does have cultural and historical meaning.

This image was sent to me by Bryan Wilton.

This image was sent to me by Bryan Wilton.

Baked goods have/had meaning in offerings to the gods. At harvest/Winter Nights/Freyfaxi, barely cakes are given to The Harvest God (in Asatru that being Freyr). I have given baked goods to the gods before, be them homemade, purchased at the store or given to me as gifts. I have also given pecan tarts in remembrance to my father, who my fondest memories of are going on Saturdays to the concrete batch plants he worked at to do some overtime and he would treat me to a pecan tart and Dr. Pepper.

So there you have it.

~Matthew Thomas Barker aka Thorendahl Freyrsson Songhammer

Bragi’s Corner – The Terrible One’s Horse: Revealing the Secret of Norse Myths by August Hunt

Bragi’s Corner – The Terrible One’s Horse: Revealing the Secret of Norse Myths by August Hunt
Based on the October 2012 Print Edition

August Hunt’s book has been on my to-read list for nearly 2 years. Sadly, it always fell down the list, or went into the “Later Bin” when I needed a break for the constantly influx of PDFs and academia around Asatru and Germanic Heathenry. Not to mention the scores of UPG and spiritual workings of those who work with the gods.

A lucky week in Amazon allowed me to pick up a few books of Asatru I’d been wanting to read for awhile, and Mr. Hunt’s work was included with some cultural, spiritual and academic Heathen books.

First, and sadly, I’ve never had a lengthy exchange with August Hunt. I would like to after reading his work here, which is what it appears to be a collection of online essays and/or blog posts based on his beliefs on cultural and spiritual workings of Germanic tribes.

Second, the book has only one real flaw – it’s loses some of the points of the author with massive amounts of academic “jargon” to make the author’s point. While I look for a balance in work (academic AND spiritual), August Hunt’s work starts with a proposed idea, academia to support his idea and a conclusion which sometimes seems lost (especially his chapter on Solar/Lunar & Berserk/Ulfheðnar). I will admit the sheer amount of C&P from sources makes chapters seem a bit bloated.

This book does offer IMHO some of the best researched interpretations of cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Germaic people. While I don’t agree with all of them, the book does in many areas nail down the author’s point and delivers it with clarity. The subject matter covered from Nazi perversion of our symbols to the meaning of the Valknut makes this book a MUST HAVE on any Heathen bookshelf. The chapter on modern faerie belief really needs to be posted on every social media source available.

Ive noticed many books published by self-publishing applications seem to be collections of blog posts, essays and social media posts of the author or author’s friends. While this is great, and these ideas should be preserved, there are reasons editiors will proof read work and sometimes not even publish a novel or book. Of the self published books Ive read, Mr. Hunt’s book offered some difficult times on the eyes and mind when I was seeking the point of some of his chapters, but unlike many self-published books, Mr. Hunt does not fall into the habit of fluff. He does not interject page upon page of lore from public domain sources, or unsupported UPG being presented as fact.

The Terrible One’s Horse offers a etymological & academic take on the author’s own views of Germanic Heathenry and does it in a way where critics cannot call it or him “fluffy”. And this is a plus. The book is not a devotional to Odin, or any of the gods, nor does it try to take the reader down a made up path practice based on nothing. I can honestly say the book is extremely honest, well thought out and put together, and only suffering from some lack of professional editting.

This is bring my largest critical complaint – the focus on solar/lunar on essentially every aspect of spirituality. It seems this is the main idea of everything for the author. Odin, Slepnir, Yggdrassil – it’s all solar/lunar and symbolism. The gods and the lore are essentially all tools to express life/death/rebirth/solar/lunar/changing of the seasons. This would be IMHO the only UPG from the author.

This review is hard to type, as Ive own the book for awhile and have had to start re-reading it a few times and re-read chapters. There are times a heathen wants a work to be based not on PDFs, academics and the study of names and places. This book will leave you hungry for spirituality, but offer you great insight on some of the most commonly used imagery in modern Heathenry and that makes it essential.

~Thorendahl Freyrsson Songhammer
http://www.amazon.com/Terrible-Ones-Horse-Revealing-Secrets/dp/1480087033/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442146261&sr=8-1&keywords=the+terrible+ones+horse

QUIET MOMENTS WITH THE GODS.

QUIET MOMENTS WITH THE GODS.

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Ask someone how they interact with the gods, and by whichever god they chose to venerate, you’ll get a dozen stories. Odin’s followers share stories of knowledge and strength; Tyr’s of bravery; Freyja of love and joy. I as a follower of Freyr find my moments with The Brightest God in the quiet moments outside, especially in fall (early winter) – a time here in Florida we are many months away from.

To me, Freyja and Freyr being of the Vanir, share a relationship with the changing of the seasons. Hodr and Baldr are “The gods of..” Winter and Summer respectively, but the transition between those are times of Freyja and Freyr – Spring and Fall.

The beginning of the year starts at Yule, which in most of the US is the dead of winter. Cold, snow storms and a time of our ancestors to sacrifice to the coming return of the sun. It is also a dark time, and the dark is colder. Darkness like blindness is of Hodr. The sun returns and Freyja accompanies it. The bright vibrant sun, as we on Midgard shift the axis and find ourselves returning to its warm. Flowers bloom, sun showers, milder temperatures getting higher. The return of plentiful crops. Freyja gives way to the beaming sun of summer and Baldr. All life is in bloom and thriving. It is hot, but the sun brings life to all. And being a cycle and related to Hodr, death comes as well. The cycle.

We spend the summer doing as we wish be us adults or children. We also spend much time preparing for winter. In the US many folk do not fear winter as our ancestors did. And we do not rely on local crops to survive. We cannot hold a candle to what our ancestors did with crops and livestock to survive many months that would make a Floridian like me wish to move to Mercury! But we do remember. We observe special days during the year and still give to our gods.

And when winter returns and the sun begins to leave us, before Hodr comes Freyr. The god of the harvest and plenty. The crops all year have been tended and sacrifices made to him. Be them spiritual or true fields to reap or honorably ceremonial, we give thanks and offering to Freyr for peace and plenty. The sun is golden in the sky. Fall’s temperatures can be milder then the birth in spring, but they are so enjoyable. The end of sport seasons, of BBQs and family trips. We settle in for winter and Hodr’s return. Freyr has blessed us with food, and plenty. And hopefully of peace.

Today I stood outside to do some stupid little labor task for my girlfriend and felt the cool wind of early spring. I live in Florida, spring is short! I felt like this wind behind me was a mixture of Freyja and Freyr, being happy and in love with each other and the peace right now being felt by myself and my kin. Spring time to me is the beginning of a great time of the year for travel and expanding my catalog of things Ive wanted to do. I am unsure if Freyja blessed my girlfriend’s seeds she planted. She is not Asatru or Heathen. She earns her returns by her own deeds. But I like to think Freyja looked down on her thousands removed Celtic granddaughter’s little pots that make her happy. The cool breeze felt like some small thanks.

~Thorendahl Freyrsson Songhammer

Bragi’s Corner – Peace and Good Seasons: A Devotional for Frey by Nornoriel Lokason

Peace and Good Seasons: A Devotional for Frey by Nornoriel Lokason
Based on the Sept. 2014 print edition

I ran across this devotional while searching for “Frey” on Amazon. Ever since reading Ann Groa’s “Frey, God of the World”, I’ve sought a spiritual side to her academic work (which I still goto). My first attempt was Joshua Tenpenny’s “Honey, Grain and Gold”. It did not really “do it” for me.

I admit, I’ve never read Nornoriel Lokason until this work. I have looked into Wanecraft and Vanatru, and his name has popped up attached to books I am interested in reading. Nornoriel is a ex-bride of Frey who spent many years as devout priest to him online and offline. This really impressed me, as Ive never spoken or met someone who had ever devoted themselves to a singular Aesir or Vanir.

When the Amazon box arrived, I burned right into it. What I got was a collection similar to Tenpenny’s book, but without the issues that rose from it. Lokason’s book is very personal, and a collection of previous digital publications he had published before. In 2015, many religious books are published in chapters online and this being a devotional is no exception. He is also an authority figure in Vanatru.

I was much more open to the stories inside the work from Lokason. This is a devotional. It’s a book written by someone with intimate encounters with him and I felt that when reading the book. Lokason, unlike Tenpenny (who she dedicates the book to), doesnt spent the words to describe intimate encounters involving god-horses and sex play. There is emphasis on Frey’s presence in the LGBT community. It wasn’t FRONT AND CENTER, like Tenpenny’s, but was mentioned. Frey being attributed to love and loving all life is boldly exclaimed in the work, something I agree with.

It focuses heavily on Frey’s sexual meaning. Frey is also attributed to peace, warrior-kings and the waning light (the sun is gold in the evening, Frey is The Golden One). There is much (MUCH) mention of Frey being attributed to sacrifice and the harvest. I do find myself more drawn to Frey in the fall (early-winter) and harvest time. Halloween and Thanksgiving seem like his domain as they are times of giving, peace, the harvest and the golden times before winter. Lokason’s description of Nerthus, Njord and Frey and their roles in ancient society felt more genuine and more thought out then Tenpenny’s (please understand, I am not bashing Tenpenny’s work, I just didn’t feel it jiving with Frey).

I found myself really drawn into the work, and agreeing with much of it. Lokason’s personal stories, while not mirroring any of mine, added meaning to his practice. The only drawback was the lack of information on Frey as a warrior. I will say it has inspired me to write my own devotional. Lokason’s devotional does indeed fill that empty area I was looking to fill after Groa’s work.

Someone seeking an academic look at Frey, will need to grab Groa’s work and balance it with Lokason’s. I don’t know if you’d call it “reading between the lines”, but the messages of ecology, loving all life, family love and the harvest and Frey’s love without restraint are all prominent and well explained. Lokason’s personal experiences frame them well.

~Thorendahl Freyrsson Songhammer

http://www.amazon.com/Peace-Good-Seasons-devotional-Frey/dp/1500900478/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1424811680&sr=8-3&keywords=nornoriel+lokason

Thought of the Day – “Eurocentric”

A slight rant based upon my reading of “Where White Men Fear to Tread” by Russell Means. In case you are unaware him, Russell Means was a Lakota civil rights leader, activist, writer, actor and leader. He passed away in 2012.

If you know me, you should be aware that I adore the Lakota culture. My own personal UPG is that Asatru and Lakota spirituality can mix. Iktomi and Loki are the same; Pte Ska Win (The White Buffalo Calf Woman) is Freyja. There’s even mention of a giant – Iya! Mr. Means can easily be labeled as “Folkish”, as his beliefs concerning American-Indians* mirrors the Heathen Folkish attitudes, which I endorse for those peoples personal religious beliefs. Yet his fragrant use of “Eurocentric” as a simile for all white people has been bugging me.

I am not Anti-Christian. I will not judge an entire way of life and personal belief system based upon the extremists or fundies. But whenever I hear/see the word “Eurocentric” as a way to describe how Europeans basically “ruined everything” for the last 1000 years, I want to stand up and and shout “Europe was a victim, as much as you, of forced conversions and invasions!”

I identify as a Universalist-Asatruar. I tell no one how to worship or what to worship based upon their skin color, ethnicity or cultural upbringing. Who am I to tell someone in Honduras they cannot honor Thor, or in China that they cannot devote themselves to Forseti? Faith in the gods is a belief system. The gods do not depend on our faith to exist. If your faith goes hand-in-hand with your blood, I understand it and will openly admit I seek a similar link. But for my *personal*, more intimate, tie to my ancestors. My blood ties are not valid to discredit someone in Nepal from seeking Baldr.

But I am also of European descent. My family is English-Dutch-German (English/German on my mother’s side and Dutch/German on my father’s). Like many American Universalists, or just Americans coming to discover their own European roots, I want something to call mine based upon my culture.

My culture is not white. Behind me is my family and line. I can only see a sign-post linking me to a Christian woman on the Mayflower to my great grandfather. The family I can trace back unbroken was all Christian. Christianity is a foreign religion to the tribes and peoples of Europe – north and south of the Rhine. But it has been embraced by many in Europe for centuries.

But I, like so many, seek another path. The older path. The path of my people before the coming of those devout to Jesus Christ. The way of tribe and family. Hammer and spear. Harvest and hearth. Yet I do not wish to discard 1000 years of history. It is 2014, am I was born & raised in America – a country, like all others, with dark moments in history. I see Mr. Means problem – the entitlement written in The Bible for Christians to save souls and the divine belief that the entire world is theirs! Looking at the past, we can see so much hatred, death and destruction wrought in the Christian God’s name and Europeans were converted, like many others and the powerful embraced it with religious fervor. Conversions (~1100 years ago), atrocities (500 years ago, Spanish Inquisition), invasions (500 years ago, Columbus, Cortez, decimation of indigenous tribes) – all HORRIBLE and all to be learned from. But they are NOT unique to the peoples of Europe. People are capable of horrible things. We cannot blame them on religion, race or heritage. But Christian Europe seems to be the scapegoat for anyone’s ire for the past 1000 years – and applied to any white person.

We are more than 1000 years of Christian-Europe history. We are a people with indigenous beliefs as well. A belief not bent on forcibly converting everyone to believe the same as us, or to outright rob, rape or kill them. Our lore tells us that we were created *of* Midgard and the gods own actions; and protected by the actions of our gods, active and enviromental. It does not tell us to lay claim to everyone and everything, and to force “The Word of the Lord” upon the “soulless heathens”.

We came first. We almost lost something. We are rediscovering it. We learn from our past and can look at it under a microscope. And we can grow. But do not label us.

~Thorendahl

Amazon Link for Russell Mean’s “Where White Men Fear to Tread”

http://www.amazon.com/Where-White-Fear-Tread-Autobiography/dp/0312147619/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414501393&sr=1-1&keywords=where+white+men+fear+to+tread

 

* – I personally use the term American-Indian like how Russell Means does. Anyone born  in America is a Native American. The Lakota people originally had no label for their peoples, nor a distinction between races; only tribes. Ive been known to use Native American and First Nation, depending on who I speak to, out of respect for their personal beliefs.

Lessons from Loki – Article 1 – Baldr’s Death

Lessons from Loki Article 1
Baldr’s Death from The Gylfaginning in the Prose Edda (Snorri’s Edda).

baldr_lies_dead
For my first article, I wanted to tackle the first part of two stories from beginning to end of Loki’s “fall from grace” of the Aesir to his binding before Ragnarok. The first part is Baldr’s death and the events leading up to it and the action. The second part is Lokesenna, Loki’s flyting of the gods in the hall of Aegir after Baldr’s death. I see the two linked canonically.

The story of Baldr’s death starts with his dream. Baldr is the most beautiful and beloved of all the gods and when Odin & Frigga pressed him of his worries and heard of his dream, she immediately went out and demanded an oath of all things large and small to not bring harm to Baldr. She took the oath from all things, save one small spring of mistletoe which she believed too small and young to be of any importance. The gods put this to the test and began to hurl things at Baldr which fell to the ground harmlessly before striking him. It had become a game to the gods to throw rocks, spears and other heavy, deadly objects to see them fall.

Loki saw this and took the form of a woman and questioned Frigga of the oaths and learned she had not taken an oath from the mistletoe. He made off and took a branch of it to make a dart. When returning to the hall, the game was still on, and the gods continued to throw objects at Baldr. All except Hodr, his blind brother. Loki approached Hodr and had him throw the dart at Baldr, guiding him. The dart pierced Baldr’s chest, killing him and Loki ran.

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Odin knew of the prophecy to have a child with the giantess Rindr who would have a son named Vali, to grow to an adult in a single day, to kill Hodr to avenge Baldr. Vali was born and he killed Hodr. Baldr was put to a sea funeral, with Odin’s ring Draupnir. Nanna, his wife, died of sorrow and was put to sea with Baldr. Baldr, Nanna and Hodr reside in Helheim. Frigga asked of the gods that one would be rewarded her love if they could go to Helheim and retrieve Baldr. Odin’s other son Hermod stepped up and traveled to Helheim upon Odin’s mount Sleipnir, which can travel between realms. Hela said she would allow Baldr to return if everything grieved for him and all things did, save a single old giantess in a cave who said what Hela has, she should keep; and Baldr was not able to return. This old giantess was Loki in disguise. Baldr had Hermod return Draupnir to Odin and continues to reside in Hela’s hall until the end of Ragnarok.

What can we possibly learn from this?

Frigga, wyrd, her oath and attempt at changing destiny. The way wyrd works may seem like pre-destination. Wyrd is like a brick wall. Each brick is put there by us and our actions. Our combined orlog is to build a wall. The wall might not be described as a “good” or “strong” wall. Our actions are the brick and mortar. Actions that could weaken it, effecting the wall, but we still build it. Inaction is also action – if we know we are to build a wall, no matter what, it will happen – but the quality of the wall might (and probably will) suffer. Odin knew of the wyrd that Baldr was to die by Hodr’s hand starting Ragnarok, and Frigga knows what Odin does. As a mother she attempted to either stop or forestall this by her oath-taking from all things in creation.

There is five lessions to be taken from this:

1.) The belief that you can take EVERYTHING into account for your own desires is false. It’s a Sisyphean act (impossible) act, as proven by Frigga not taking the oath from the mistletoe, and the actions of Loki and Hodr being their own orlog, weaving the wyrd of them all leading to the death of Baldr

2.) The gods loving Baldr so much they became upset over his death. Baldr is the most beloved of all the gods. But when Frigga took her oaths and they saw the result, instead of being prudent, they made a game of throwing objects at Baldr. This is the same as playing with fire. It’s also overconfidence in themselves. The gods are not above wyrd. Over-reliant on their actions, they threw caution aside and made little of the predicament.

3.) Follow through with all your words and actions. If Frigga took the time and effort to take an oath from every thing in creation, why would she skip the mistletoe? Doubtful she was being lazy. She just took an oath from everything in creation! This is obviously a lesson based in arrogance in the Aesir’s believe of absolute supremacy.

4.) Loose lips sink ships. Loki came to Frigga as a handmaiden to gain information about her travels in taking oaths. This was obviously a HUGE deal resulting in Frigga traveling all of creation with the serious business of taking oaths – a pillar of heathen life. Oaths were not broken easily, if at all. Many oaths were to the death and after! Why would Frigga give someone she either didn’t recognize, or recognized in disguise Loki and regarded? Again, over confidence.

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and finally…

5.) Wyrd will not be denied. Baldr’s death and remaining in Helheim is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Odin and Frigga learned of Baldr’s death, they sought to avoid it by their actions and then became over confident in themselves. Loki saw this and took his own action against them – be it personal, moral or immoral – and in his actions ended up in the death of Baldr. Again, when they tried to change this, Loki again stood in the way by not shedding a tear as Hela demanded to release Baldr.

Each person in this prophecy has a place in fulfilling it:

A.) Baldr’s dream of his death.

B.) Odin learns of what starts Ragnarok

C.) Frigga’s oath-taking, which leads to the gods over-confidence creating the situation of objects being thrown at Baldr.

D.) Frigga letting important information be known about the mistletoe to Loki (an agent of Chaos/Change/Possibly). All based in over-confidence in her lack of follow through.

E.) Baldr being killed

F.) Ragnarok

G.) The return of Baldr

Odin is no more important in this chain than Loki, Frigga or Hodr.

The Lesson:
Our actions and words, like everything, should be measured and acted out with intent and completed to the absolute best of our ability. Loki saw this when he saw the gods making game of trying to harm Baldr by throwing things at him from blades to stones. We can see the over confidence here on the side of the gods, and how this is the wrong action. Caution should always be taken in people’s homes, as described in the Havamal and one should never mock death when one has taken it so seriously as Baldr’s dream was. Loki then saw it again and acted when Frigga told him of the mistletoe shoot. She didn’t follow through completely with her oaths. She saw worthiness in her work to take oaths but then stopped at one final thing she didnt feel was worth due to it’s size and age. Her lack of action (follow-through) resulted in Loki taking the dart and guiding Hodr’s hand in killing Baldr.

Over-confidence should never blind one’s true intent and hamper their actions.
Follow through with all your words and actions.
Wyrd will not be denied. You alter the path, but not the destination.

 

 

 

 

Article and work (c) 2014 Matthew Thomas Barker, American Asatru Association & Heathen Hall
American Asatru Association and Heathen Hall are trademark Matthew Thomas Barker
Artwork taken from hurstwic.org.