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You’re Not a Racist — You’re Just a Fucking Idiot

You’re Not a Racist — You’re Just a Fucking Idiot

Welcome to the Rational Heathen’s hour of Racist or Not-a-Racist!  Here you can win snarky comments backed by science and logic, plus either an overwhelming urge to agree, change your point of view, or fly into an uncontrollable rage and smash your computer all to Hel.  Wanna play along?

You’re Not a Racist, Unless You Hate Vulcans

Let me start out with the fact that race is a construct. Unless you’re hating a wight or extraterrestrial sentient species, you’re hating a member of your own race.  You see, you’re homo sapiens and the person whom you think is another race is also homo sapiens.  The differences between you and that person is just ethnic variation. Some tens of thousands of years and multiple generations cause adaptations for a particular climate. Humans had dark skin when they came out of Africa and their skin became lighter when it became advantageous to have less melanin so they could absorb more sunlight and produce more Vitamin D.  This was important in northern climates where the amount of sunlight is less due to the tilt of the earth’s axis.

So, there’s no way you could be a racist, if you hate someone who has a different skin color than you.  You are, however, a bigot, and a fucking idiot to boot.

Your Ancestors Were Black Even If You’re White

For those bigots who think their ancestors were lily white from the moment they existed, I’ve got news for you.  Your ancestors were dark skinned at one time.  You want proof?  Check out the Cheddar Man (not named that because he liked cheese, although he could have) who had blue eyes and brown or black skin.  And his tribe is responsible for 10 percent of those Brits who live in England today.  And yes, those modern day Brits are white even though their ancestors had dark skin 10,000 years ago.  This is not a particular aberration either.  Archaeologists found the skeletons of two men who lived some 6000 years ago in northwest Spain.  Genetic testing proved that they had blue eyes and dark skin.  These men are most closely related to Scandinavians and Finns, thus proving that the white skin became an adaptation to the environment and not something that humans had at the moment of their inception.

Cheddar Man

It’s kind of funny too, because at one time our ancestor hominids most likely all had white skin. Of course, that’s when our ancestors were as hairy as chimpanzees.  (Chimps, who are some of our closest relatives have white skin, due to the fur covering.)  When our ancestors started losing their fur, the skin had to make up for the protection against the African sun and our ancestors’ skin darkened.

Genetically, We’re All the Same with Some Minor Differences

Humans nearly went extinct not once, but three times.  Each time, we were tenacious enough to hang on, but it seriously narrowed our gene pool.  Then, we had the stupidity to reduce our gene pool further by having only certain males and their dominant lines mate with women some 7000 years ago when humans switched from hunter-gatherers to agrarian cultures. So, we’re a bunch of hormone-driven, inbred hominids who push the feeder bars to get our shots of dopamine.  Yeah, it’s amazing we haven’t gone extinct.

We already know that there is only one women ancestor whom everyone now living has her mitochondrial genetics.  Unfortunately, she has been nicknamed Mitochondrial Eve, which has unhappily been associated by Bible thumpers to be the “real” Eve of the Bible.  Likewise, there is a male counterpart, which has been nicknamed Y-Chromosomal Adam. (Like we don’t have enough issues with the Bible thumpers already?)

This shows you just how screwed up we are as a species.  Sure, we have differences genetically, but we all have the same ancestor somewhere at some point.   That makes every single human on this planet related to each other.  Talk about banjos.

So, What About Those Who Can’t Figure This Out?

At this stage, if you’re really set on believing your lily-white ass is better than some other ethnic group because of your skin color, you’re a fucking idiot.  You’re not even hating someone of a different race.  Instead, you’re hating someone who is your not-so-distant cousin just because they look a little different. So, if you’re intent on hating people based on what they look like, you’re what’s wrong with our society.

 

 

Don’t Thank God for a Rescue…

Don’t Thank God for a Rescue…

And for that matter, don’t expect your god to perform a rescue either.

Read on if you want to know why I’ve got my panties in a wad today.

I read the Patheos post, For the Thai Boys: Thanks Be To God! For the Hispanic Refugee Children: Please, God, Bring Deliverance, and I did the typical facepalm.

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Searching for Idunn’s Apples: The Secret to Eternal Youth

Searching for Idunn’s Apples: The Secret to Eternal Youth

It’s Hel getting old.  As one who is now considered “middle aged” (assuming I live to 100), the quest for Idunn’s apples in the form of immortality, or at least eternal youth, interests me.  It probably interests you too, even if you’re young and have many years ahead of you.  After all, we can’t enjoy life if we’re dead.  Funny, scientists have that very same opinion.  I just wish they’d work harder at it, seeing as we’re not getting any younger.

Do We Really Have an End-By Date?

I read a piece in the New York Times recently about a study that suggests that humans haven’t reached the top end of their expiration date. They studied a bunch of really old people (older than me!) who lived in Italy.  The researchers found that the death rate increases up to the age of 80 (duh!), decreases until 105 (what?), and then plateaus after 105.  This contradicts the announcement made by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine that the human lifespan is fixed and that the upper level is 115.

The reason why this new study suggests that we have an end-by date further than 115 years, if we indeed have such a date, is the plateau in the death rate after 105.  If there was really an expiration date of 115 years, we should see an increase in deaths as people get closer to it.  That doesn’t mean that people don’t die; it just means that the percentage is stable.

That Which Does Not Kill Us…

Never mind that the scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine are a bunch of killjoys with their prediction, I tend to think that they may be close to the truth.  Human experience suggests that we all have an expiration date of some variety, although what kills us is purely up to conjecture. If tomorrow we were to eliminate all disease, how long people would actually live before they simply fell apart?  And then, the question remains is — do we really want to live longer if we’re infirm or decrepit?

Aging and Telomeres

The problem with getting older is that we’re not just “shorter of breath and one day closer to death,” as Pink Floyd so aptly put it.  The problem is we’re not as robust as we were when we were younger.  We don’t bounce back quite as quickly.  Living a long life is great — if you have the youth to live it. Otherwise, you could spend your last years in a nursing home getting fed through a tube.

But could we actually stop aging?  Scientists are getting closer every day to unraveling the secrets.  We know that at least part of aging is due to the length of the telomeres in our DNA. Telomeres are the little end caps on our chromosomes. The longer the telomeres, the younger our cells remain. The shorter the telomeres, the more aged our bodies become.  People can lengthen their telomeres through diet, exercise, and other healthy habits and can shorten them by doing unhealthy things like smoking.  Some pills are purported to increase the telomere’s length by increasing telomerase (an enzyme), but there may be some serious side effects.  Basically, telomerase may be Idunn’s apples, but like Idunn’s apples, we don’t know if she needs to pick them and hand them to everyone to get the full effect.

Let’s Talk About Idunn’s Story

Everything ages in our world.  Our gods would age too, if it weren’t for Idunn (Iðunn) and her apples.  Loki the master trickster was tricked by the Jotunn, Thjazi  (Þjazi), to steal Idunn and her apples for him.  Loki obliges, but also rescues Idunn from Thjazi.

Some experts believe that the apples are the symbols of fertility, given that apples show up elsewhere in Norse and Celtic stories as just that.  To add more to this theory, Loki turns Idunn into a nut during his rescue (he’s in falcon form) so he might carry her safely.  Nuts were often a symbol of fertility in Anglo-Saxon England.  Eternal youth could easily be linked to fertility, because, let’s face it, younger people do fuck like rabbits. So, it’s not a surprise that Idunn would be linked to fertility as much as Freyja is.

So, is this a story about the stealing of fertility and the recovery of it?  Or is this the story of the loss of youth and the recovery of it?  Maybe it’s both.

I look at Idunn’s apples now as the telomeres in our chromosomes. Thjazi steals them away with time, but maybe, like Loki our scientists will figure out a way to increase our telomerase  and get back Idunn and her apples.

 

When the Muse is a Bitch: I’ve Started Writing Again

When the Muse is a Bitch: I’ve Started Writing Again

It’s been a long time coming: I’ve been working on a novel I need to finish. I supposedly had a finished first draft, but the whole thing had holes and problems with it that I despaired. So, I’ve been getting reminders — some subtle and some not so subtle — that I need to write the damn thing and jumpstart the series again….

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4 Things to Consider in Heathenry

4 Things to Consider in Heathenry

It’s been about six years since Tyr and Thor first entered my life as Norse gods and I’ve entered Heathenry.  (Tyr has been in my life for years, only I didn’t recognize him.)  I’ve been thankful they’ve done so because they’ve offered a a new perspective on my life that I had not gotten any other way. I still deal with a number of really stupid issues due to Christianity that I brought with me, but I can feel a certain amount of healing going on that I just didn’t have with the other religions, and lack of religion.

This piece is a reflective piece, but it is also some advice I have for new Heathens and those who are still on the path after a number of years.  This is my perspective, as always, and as I often say, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) or, as a professor once tried to guess the acronym, Your Mouse Might Vomit.

Moving into Heathenry from Christianity

Heathenry, and in fact, Paganism, isn’t really about rebelling from Christianity (or another religion), though you may go through a period of comparison and outright hostility toward your previous religion.  I know I did.  It’s that part of your bruised ego when you finally realize that everything you were told as a child was a lie and there is no Christian god. (Even if you believe there might be a Christian god, you can’t possibly believe it is as powerful as the Christians claim.)

Now that you have your newfound beliefs, it may be tough to not stick them in other people’s faces. But what exactly are you hoping to accomplish?  Are you looking to alienate your friends and family, because you’re sure not going to convince them to convert?  It’s better to not say anything and keep the peace than it is to rile everyone up.  Of my family, only my husband knows I’m a Heathen, and as far as I can tell, he’s good with it.  Of course I don’t rub it in his face, either.  If he wants to remain an atheist agnostic, that’s his choice, and I respect that.

Heathenry isn’t Christianity with Many Gods

Heathenry isn’t Christianity with many gods instead of one god.  While Christianity had adopted many pagan beliefs into their doctrine, it still isn’t what a Heathen believes.  Christian states that man was given mastery over the world and all animals.  This is clearly hubris, in my not so humble opinion.  Heathens look at ourselves and our gods as being part of the natural world.  We are just one species in a realm of natural and supernatural creatures.  We recognize where we are in the world and how we need to be mindful of those creatures, both seen and unseen.

Whether you are agnostic on the supernatural critters like me, or whether you believe in them is irrelevant. It is part of our lore and deserves at least some attention, if not outright acknowledgment.  If anything, our ancestors’ beliefs and stories make for some fascinating reading.

No One Has the Right Answers

I’ll say it right up front that those who claim to “know” how Heathenry should be is full of shit.  Sure, we have some good ideas how some of our ancestors practiced Heathenry, but overall, we don’t have a perfect picture how to reconstruct it.  The problem is that Heathenry covers at least a thousand years, if not more, and the ways our ancestors practiced Heathenry varied from generation to generation and from region to region.

Although there were gothis and gythias, there were no Asa-popes telling people how to behave, and if there were one or two, they wouldn’t have affected all of Heathendom.  While there may have been a major temple in Uppsala, the archaeological evidence for it is scarce.  (Even if a Christian church were to be built on top of it, you would think there would be some evidence.)

Moving Forward Instead of Looking Back

Heathenry is an ancient religion with deep traditions.  I won’t argue with you there.  We don’t know all the traditions, and those that we do know about were written down by people of other religions, who may or may not have had their own agendas.  Ancient historians are not infallible.

Even if we somehow magically figured out everything about Heathenry in the ancient times, would we really want to mimic it?  If you say “yes” then apparently you want to bring back human sacrifice, and that makes you a total loony tune, crazy person that I want nothing to do with.  And yeah, that’s one of my rules: no human sacrifices.  There are other behaviors we should not mimic — not if we follow our own version of the ethics of reciprocity.

Heathens need to look forward, not back.  Our past can give us guidelines for our future, but they’re just that: guidelines.  The past was not only a different time, but humanity saw things differently.  We didn’t have the technological advancements, longevity, medical treatment, and overall knowledge about the world then that we do now.  It would be foolhardy to live in the past without accounting for the future.

Well, I’ve rambled enough.  Let me know what you think.

When the Muse is a Bitch

When the Muse is a Bitch

I’ll be putting up more pieces from the premium website so you can check them out.  This one was dated Feb 17, 2017 and it’s the first When the Muse is a Bitch.

The muse, I swear, is a bitch.  Yeah, yeah, I know the moirae is Greek and we follow the Norse gods, but shit, my muse is a bitch.  Half the time I’m floundering for creativity while pumping out thousands of words every day on stuff that will never have my name attached to it. Of course, the gods don’t have any recommendations for me.  They’ve got better things to do than hear this human whine about her so-called lack of creativity.

So, I’ve decided to write up my crazy whinings in a weekly post that will (hopefully) show up on Wednesdays so you can really wonder what medications I need to be on.

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Modern Medicine or Why You Really Don’t Want to Go Back to Our Ancestors’ Time

Modern Medicine or Why You Really Don’t Want to Go Back to Our Ancestors’ Time

This spring I had a lesson on why the good old days weren’t that great. Having dealt with the realities of raising livestock, I’ve become far more appreciative of modern medicine, and science, in general.  Not that I wasn’t appreciative of science to begin with, but when you see it in action, it changes your worldview.  And you start to realize just how tough our ancestors had it then. You also realize how unlikely it was to see 50 years old back then.

You see, I raise goats.  This, in and of itself shouldn’t necessarily bring up modern medicine, but if you want to see how science can improve your life, try animal husbandry. And sadly, for the past several years I’ve had a 50 percent attrition rate (or worse) on the kids.  This year ended up being different.

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5 Reasons Why Heathens Don’t Get No Respect

5 Reasons Why Heathens Don’t Get No Respect

I was reading the pagan forums on Patheos the other day and I thought about how Heathens are underrepresented there when it comes to pagans. And then I started thinking about how much of paganism is really geared toward the Wicca crowd and maybe the Celtic crowd, if they’re lucky.  So, I started thinking about why Heathens (to paraphrase what Rodney Dangerfield used to say) don’t get no respect.  To this end, I’ve come up with five reasons why Heathenry isn’t represented in paganism more often, but I bet you can come up with more, if you put your mind to it.

Problem 1: We’re Tiny, Relatively Speaking

If you want to talk about a religion that has few numbers, Heathenism and Asatru are pretty small as a world religion.  Sure, there are a few census that suggest we have maybe 100,000 to 200,000 Heathens in the world, but seriously, that’s just a drop in the bucket. Consider the 800 pound gorilla in the midst (pun intended) of Wicca.  Wiccans may make up about 2 million in the United States alone, and who knows how many in the world?  It’s easy to see just by that number why Heathenry is  a footnote when it comes to paganism.

Problem 2: Association with Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and Folkish Organizations

Many Heathens aren’t racist, folkish, or white supremacist. But not all of them.  One only has to take a look at the Neo-Nazis and the Odinists who support a whites-only mentality. Other groups such as the AFA have excluded other ethnicities and the LGBT communities within their Heathen form of paganism. Even though a number of very good Heathens and leaders within the Heathen community have denounced this behavior, we see time and time again Internet and news stories featuring Heathens as bigoted, racist, and anti-LGBT.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Just because you don’t count those folk as “true Heathens” doesn’t mean that the rest of the world shares your opinions.  You can say “not my kindred” all you want, but the reality is the rest of the world is judging you.  Plain and simple.  If you don’t denounce them, everyone is going to take your silence as tacit agreement.

Heathenry isn’t for bigots.  Even our gods didn’t stay within their own kind when it came to their kindred. Our gods took in Jotunn, Vanir, Light Elves, and humans.  Many gods had Jotunn, Vanir, and Light Elf consorts and lovers.  Hel, even Loki mated with a horse.

Problem 3: Our Magic is Minimal

When Thor and Tyr called me to Heathenry, I was relieved to find out that magic played a minimal role in the religion.  That being said, a lot of people are more attracted to magic than I am, which is presumably why people are more attracted to Wicca than Heathenry. Oh sure, we have the runes and Seidr, but what else?  Maybe skinriding? We don’t usually do magic in the form of spells or enchantments.

Our magic is through our gods, ancestors, and wights. (The fact that I’ve never seen a wight is irrelevant.)  Many Heathens believe in the gifting cycle with gods and wights to obtain what they want.  Some use Seidr, runes, or other forms of Norse magic.  Others will blend in forms of magic from Wicca.  Reconstructionists and others derisively call those who add more magic from other religions “Wiccatru.”  More on that later.

So, people who are looking for magic tend to bypass Heathenry and go for something like Wicca that enables them to worship our gods while still adding magic spells.  Hmm.

Problem 4: We’re a Stuck Up, Exclusive Lot

When a person first looks into Heathenry, they’re often met with people who are quick to deride and denounce that person if they don’t immediately join the recon trolls.  In fact, you’ll find a bunch of misogynists and Asa-popes telling people how to practice Heathenry.  When the person balks (as they rightfully should), the trolls start calling them Marvel fanboys (or fangirls), Wicctrus, or Lokeans (never mind that being a Lokean is a choice and not an insult).  So, a lot of people with less commitment are going to leave and go elsewhere.

It stunned me when Tyr and Thor contacted me.  But I knew what I had experienced and even when I entered the ugly world of the Internet recon trolls, I knew I was right to stay and deal with them.  You see, the gods contacted me and (presumably) not the Internet trolls, so the trolls didn’t deter me.  I just had to figure out a softer landing spot, which I eventually did. And I started writing The Rational Heathen just to put down my thoughts and feelings, not to mention some of my experiences.  Apparently it resonated with some of you because you’re still here with me.

Problem 5: We Don’t Agree on Much and UPG is often an Ugly Word

A big problem in Heathenry is the overall ambiguity of our beliefs.  We really don’t have a lot of stories to go on — not like the stories we have from the Romans and Greeks about their gods and goddesses. Islamic and Roman historians as well as Christianized northern peoples who lived two hundred years later wrote down all of our stories.  We only have one depiction — and a Christian one — of the Irminsul.  We have tales which refer to other stories which were never written down.

So, in light of the lack of evidence, there’s a lot of conjecture.  And with conjecture is also Unverified Personal Gnosis or UPG which many people don’t take into account.  Some Heathens are outright hostile to UPG as well. So, there is no consensus on what is correct and what isn’t, except among the different factions between themselves.  That division and the accompanying hostility turns people away quickly.

So, there you have it: the five reasons why Heathens don’t get no respect.  Do you have some thoughts about why Heathens don’t get no respect?  I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Some Updates to The Rational Heathen

Some Updates to The Rational Heathen

Well folks, since I’ve gone to WordPress, I can add some more flexibility for those who want to support my writing but can’t afford an ongoing subscription like Patreon.  I get that.  So instead I’m offering premium content right here online.   And it’s easy on your pockets, PLUS you get access to all the content during the timeline you choose.  Let me explain.

How Premium Content Works on this Site

I have two modes for premium content.  One is Patreon, which is offsite.  The other is the premium subscription service on this site.  This site’s subscription service enables you to read all my premium posts for a given length of time.  I set it up so that you can purchase a day, month, or three month subscription.  There is also a freebie login that will get you put on the Rational Heathen’s newsletter, restricted older posts, and any other content I might want to restrict to my subscribers.  (Some of you folks have already discovered the freebie side of things.)  Anyway, I’ll be putting some of my very old posts as premium only and some you must simply be a subscriber to.

The subscription costs are very affordable.  A Daily Pass costs 99 cents USD.  A monthly subscription is $9.99 USD, and a three month subscription is $24.99.  When you purchase a subscription, you can read all the Rational Heathen premium content.  No limit except the time.  Once the subscription is up, you go back to being a free login.  Simple and direct.

Why Did You Choose to Do This?

You may wonder why I chose to do this, other than being the money-grubbing weasel that I am.  Well, the reality is that I want to offer my readers more choices than just Patreon for supporting my works. I get that a lot of people don’t want to be constantly billed for something they won’t use enough to justify, so I created the Daily Pass, which allows you to read anything you want for a day.  Makes a lot of sense.

But Why Isn’t Everything Free?

You know, I’d love to give everything away, but I like to eat, pay for my Internet service, and pay for this nifty-disco site I developed on my own.  I make my living as a writer, and although you may not think that I spend a lot of time on The Rational Heathen, I do.  So, I need some sort of compensation, even if it’s $1 from you every so often.  And I appreciate that you read my work and think it interesting enough to share, talk about, and enjoy.

So, What Will You Do with the Information You Collect?

When you subscribe to The Rational Heathen, you get subscribed to my newsletter, which if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to put out once a month.  If I really get my shit together, I might be able to get it out as often as once a week, but seriously, no.  It will, however, tell you when there is a new post and give you a preview for it, which I suspect you’d want to know instead of trusting Facebook to notify you.  So, you will get alerts for new content and maybe an actual honest-to-gods newsletter occasionally.

As for your personal information, none of it will be sold or misused.  Period.  I hate spam, so I know you do too.  You don’t have to worry about tons of crap being directed at you.  And as for my readers, any data about you is anonymized for Google analytics and you are just a number to show me how I get my readership. In other words, I may know that I had 20 people in Costa Rica reading my blog, but beyond that, I have no clue, unless you tell me.

So, if you have any questions about the premium content onsite and how they work, ask away in the comments section.  I’ll be sure to answer them to the best of my ability.

To Kneel or Not to Kneel

To Kneel or Not to Kneel

To kneel to the gods or not kneel to the gods.  Those who believe in not kneeling to the gods believe that it invokes servitude and disrespect for oneself as an able warrior for the gods.  Those who believe in kneeling to the gods believe that we are foolish to not acknowledge that the gods are greater than us and there is historical precedence for kneeling to the gods.  Well, as usual, the Rational Heathen has something to say about this.

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