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.
Amazon Link for Russell Mean’s “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.