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When is Genocide Ever Acceptable ? Apparently, When Christians do it to Pagans…

When is Genocide Ever Acceptable ? Apparently, When Christians do it to Pagans…

I read this one post about a Christian who apparently thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to commit cultural genocide and to murder children as long as they’re Christianized and buried as Christians. No, no, he doesn’t say it in those particular words, but I am going to quote him from his own piece written in The American Conservative, and I hope you’ll see what I do.

The Quote from The American Conservative

The guy who wrote it is not just a writer there, but he’s an associate editor. That gives him a bit of clout. It also suggests the other editors generally agree with him. Here is the quote I’ve pulled. Let’s see how pissed off this makes you:

“Whatever natural good was present in the piety and community of the pagan past is an infinitesimal fraction of the grace rendered unto those pagans’ descendants who have been received into the Church of Christ. Whatever sacrifices were exacted in pursuit of that grace—the suffocation of a noble pagan culture; an increase in disease and bodily death due to government negligence; even the sundering of natural families—is worth it.”

What the Fuck Did I Just Read?

Okay, okay, I bet you’re wondering where the context is, and that I am going to give you right now. He is talking about the tragedy of the Native American children’s graves in Canada. (Note: I am using “American” in the sense of North America, not just the United States. That encompasses Canada.) You know, the stories we’ve heard on the news where they found at least 751 graves? Only, he doesn’t buy into the fact these are a big deal. His opinion is that everyone knew about these graves and these children died from the normal high mortality rate of children, and particularly of Native American children. He blames the Canadian Government for under-funding these residential schools for lack of medical care. He also claims that this was just a common graveyard because there are oral traditions that adults are buried there too. 

Yeah, because it never looks suspicious removing headstones. Which those in charge did.

People remove headstones when they don’t want other people to see how many people are buried there. Or who is buried there. Other times people don’t mark the graves because the persons therein weren’t considered important enough.  Or they were in a hurry to just bury them, usually because of a war or because of a pandemic. Looking at the children’s unmarked graves we can kind of figure that the first three reasons are in play, since we’re dealing with more than 150 years and probably 751+ children buried there.

Let’s Talk About Cultural and Ethnic Genocide, Shall We?

From South Dakota, but I like it.

Canada has a lot to answer for when it comes to its indigenous population. But let’s face it: the United States has plenty to answer to the Native Americans as well. Yes, our government robbed their land and committed systematic cultural and ethnically genocide. Some atrocities included the Trail of Tears, the Nez Perce War, and the American Indians Wars. But, Canada is as much to blame for the same tactics. I quote from Reuters:

“The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families…”

Holy shit. Yeah, the US was guilty of it, too. But here’s the thing: this was still going on in Canada 25 years ago. Look, I remember the 1990s. I couldn’t have imagined that a country would allow various religions to just snatch kids away from their families to indoctrinate them. Because they were Native Americans. Because they were different. And dare I say it? Because they were Pagan.

In these instances, yes, it was the Catholic Church responsible for taking kids away from their families, preventing them from speaking their native languages, and depriving them of their right to practice their own religion and their own cultural heritage. And the government allowed it. Sure, there were other churches that did the same thing, but let’s focus on the Catholics, eh? You know, the ones who are still finding $300 million Canadian Dollars to revamp and repair their churches, but could only cough up $25 million Canadian Dollars for the survivors of these atrocities? Think about that for a moment.

Let’s Look at the Mindset of the Conservative Christian

Now, I know lots of Christians would find the attitude this editor had about Native Americans to be appalling–or, at least, I hope they would. But honestly? Would they applaud children being taken away from their families to be indoctrinated in the Catholic (or whatever else) Church? Many apparently never living past their school years? Think about when you grew up. Do you remember kids dying and being buried behind the school? Probably not, unless you were a victim of one of these schools. 

I went to K-12 school during the time these residential schools were operating. (Yeah, I’m THAT old–deal with it.) I only remember kids dying in maybe auto accidents or gang violence. And that was in high school. So, in my sheltered existence, I don’t recall hearing about someone dying because of the school per se. But then, I wasn’t taken away from my family and forced to endure a boarding school where my classmates might just disappear and never return. Go figure.

But let’s talk about the reason why he thinks this isn’t any big deal. The editor thinks that anything the indigenous populations endured was worth becoming Christianized. In other words, the “Indians” were pagans. Pagans are bad. Therefore, atrocities? No big deal. Right?

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

Yeah, he feels badly for “the little tykes.” He blames the secular authority for the deaths. Never mind that the Catholic Church has HOW MUCH money? (See the $300 million dollar quote above.) Never mind the Catholic Church has more gold than Fort Knox. But dammit! They’re pagan! And we can’t have that, can we? So, it’s better to die a good Christian than live with one’s family as an awful pagan.

Do you get why his mindset is utterly horrifying? And just how many Christians agree with this?

It sickens and saddens me that Native Americans have been treated/are being treated in this fashion. That they lost so many children. Furthermore, if people such as this editor believes that the ends justify the means, then anyone who is pagan is considered worthy of this treatment.

Think about THAT for a moment.

Anyone.

Because they are Pagan.

So yeah, think about this if you believe because it’s Native Americans, it has no bearing on you. Never mind that the combined number of dead children is over a thousand (when you consider both residential schools grave sites). Never mind we don’t know what other undiscovered grave sites lurk where these people buried the children. In the minds of the perpetrators of this cultural genocide, it needed to be done because the children weren’t Christian. Hence they needed to be taken away from their parents, taught their religion and culture were wrong, and probably die due to abuse and lack of care.

Except, none of this should have happened.

12 Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part Two)

12 Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part Two)

This is the second part of 12 Reasons why I follow the Heathen Gods and not the Christian One. If you want to read the first part, you can read it HERE.

In the last piece, I slammed the Christian faith, but I realized I didn’t really address Heathen beliefs. So, even though this includes comments about how Christianity differs, my main focus is on Heathenry.

So, let’s get started and see why I prefer Heathenry over Christianity.

8. Heathenry doesn’t care whom you worship or who worships our Heathen gods

In most forms, Heathenry really doesn’t care if you worship our gods, the Christian god, some other pantheon, or no god. In the past Heathens would worship gods from different cultures alongside the Norse/Germanic gods. Granted, it seems a little incongruous to worship the white Christ alongside Thor, but there you go. I personally think it’s folly to worship the Christian god alongside our gods, because the Christian god has made it abundantly clear he does not want to be worshiped alongside pagan gods.

But, if I want to honor Tyr, Skadi, Perun, Zisa, and some other god, that’s no big deal to Heathenry, for the most part. (Yeah, there are wankers in every religion, including ours, who will say that’s not Heathenry, but they’re not Asa-popes, so ignore them.) The main part of Heathenry is that you accept our Nordic gods and goddesses, and that’s about it.

Our Gods are Colorblind

Also, our gods and goddesses are colorblind. That means that it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you come from, if you’re Heathen, you’re with us. Yeah there are some folkish (AKA racist) types who have decided for whatever bizarre reason that only white, Northern peoples can worship our gods, but that’s totally incorrect, especially given the recent DNA and bone mineral compositions discovered in archaeology. People who have occupied Viking burials have proven to originate in Poland, Russia, Slavic countries, Mediterreanan countries (including Italy and Spain), Mongolia, and North Africa.

Warning: SCIENCE! or How We Know Where People Came From

We know Vikings came from different ethnicities because scientists analyzed the strontium isotopes in their teeth and compared it with the soil of many places. The land you grew up in leaves a lasting strontium signature that is unique to that land. Scientists can determine where the person in a particular gravesite grew up given the unique set to isotopes. So, even though we only have some writings about a black Viking, we can infer from the strontium isotopes that those who were given warriors’ burials (or, at least burials with grave goods) were not just from Scandinavia (although many were), many were from other regions and other skin colors. Many had Mjolnir pendants. Surprise!

Vikings Went EVERYWHERE

This should come to no surprise to anyone because the Vikings traveled as far east as Baghdad, as south as North Africa, and as west as the Eastern seaboard of North America. We know from new finds in archaeology that there was a thriving eastern trade between the Vikings and places such as Constantinople, Baghdad, and a number of cities around the Caspian Sea. Vikings left runes, carvings of their ships, and other artifacts where they went. It makes sense that they mingled with the local populace, and even obtained mates from those locations.

Heathenry is Egalitarian

So, it makes sense that Heathenry should be egalitarian, in respect to other faiths. Heathens incorporated the gods of others with their own gods, and worshiped whatever gods made sense to them.

Christianity, however, is a religion of persecutors. I have plenty of documented evidence how pagans were constantly forced to convert — often at sword point. The so-called Christian persecution by Romans doesn’t really hold up when comparing the biblical texts to Roman historians. Did persecution occur? I don’t doubt some did, but I more suspect those stories were made up to provide martyrs for the church.

7. Heathenism treats men and women more as equals; Christianity is misogynistic

Heathenry treats our men and women as equals now, and in the past, they were treated almost as equals. We know that the concept of the shieldmaiden isn’t a fanciful story, given that we’re now discovering burials with swords and weapons of war include women, whose skeletons were mistaken as men’s until someone thought to run DNA analysis on them.

Misogyny as a Christian Tradition

Unfortunately, most of our modern beliefs and misogyny stems from our Christian traditions. That women could never be warriors, that they didn’t have a role in society, other than producing babies, and that they didn’t travel with the Viking men. And yet, we’re now finding more and more graves that had presumably Viking men contain female skeletons with swords.

Now, some people discount this, saying that they didn’t think the women actually used the swords, but as one archaeologist so deftly put it, “Would there even be an argument that the person buried with the sword was a warrior, if that person was male?” Excellent point.

Women were often priestesses called Gydhja. Heathens revered these women and they helped people when it came to healing, seeing the future, and talking to the gods. Yes, there were priests (Godhi), but women played a significant role as well.

Although nowadays some sects of Christianity allow women priests, this is something that has occurred within the past fifty years. Even so, many sects–including the Catholic Church–do not allow priestesses. Obviously a travesty and it aligns with what is in their bible.

Women Fought and Traded Alongside Viking Men

Preconceived notions aside, we know from burials that women did accompany men given the strontium isotopes in their teeth. And while more Viking men than women came from Scandinavia, there was a large enough faction in both sexes which came from other places. In other words, there was more diversity in women than men, but at the same time, there were enough men who came from different places who were given Viking-style graves to suggest that the women weren’t slaves or concubines, necessarily. The grave goods in the burials suggest that they were people of some status other than slaves.

Not all women who came with the Vikings were warriors, though. Most likely many of them were traders, artisans, skilled crafters of goods, and other support laborers. Sure, there were the camp followers, but there was also a need for someone to support the armies or raiding parties, as well as establish connections with the locals in the area. Both men and women could easily fill that role.

Women in Viking Society Had More Rights

We know that a woman could divorce a man under certain circumstances. We also know that women could own land, titles, and a fair amount of property, especially if they were widowed. Women were priestesses, and seidr was considered more of feminine magic than male magic. Freyja was a major deity, right alongside Odin and Thor. We know that Freyja gets first pick of the dead warriors — which presumably includes female warriors. Yeah, Odin gets the second cut. Think about that.

I’m not claiming that everything was fair for women. In fact we see in our myths that Odin was and could be downright misogynous. Just read the passages from the Havamal about his belief concerning women, and I rest my case.

Christianity is Misogynous

Okay, so let’s look at what Christianity says about women. Paul says women should obey their husbands in Corinthians. Timothy has a slew of bullshit. Outside of the Bible, you have people like Martin Luther saying “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.” Wow. What an asshole.

Women have almost always been the victims of witch hunts since Christianity began. The “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” in the Bible (Exodus 22:18) has given religious leaders a reason to murder innocent women throughout the ages. And while men did get caught up in this bullshit, more often women are the targets.

6. Most Heathens accepts Science as fact; Christians, not so much

Most Heathens accept science and the information it has brought to us on how our world was formed, Sure, we have our own version of fundamentalism, but if pressed, I think most Heathens would accept the latest archaeological findings.

Norse Creation Stories

Our religion has its own creation stories. We certainly don’t accept that the world was created in six days like the Christians. Most of us also don’t believe that our world came into being when fire and ice joined together and made rime that a cow licked to create Frost Giants and gods. And most of us don’t believe that Odin and his brothers killed Ymir to create our world. If hard pressed, I’d say that Heathens consider the Norse creation story as a myth and not fact. I believe the story is an allegory of sorts, explaining to a Bronze Age to Iron Age culture how the world came into existence. It gives a satisfactory tale that people enjoy listening to.

Viking Creation Stories Are Oral Traditions, Similar to the Children’s Game of Telephone

Viking stories were oral traditions. That means they weren’t written down. Sure, we have images of certain stories that show that the key components were still told, but oral traditions change after time. Since the creation story was written down well after the Viking Age, chances are it changed quite a bit over the years. Chances are the story people told before the Viking Age began and what they told after Scandinavia was Christianized were probably very different, as our Northern ancestors told and retold the stories countless times, embellishing them for the audience, similar to the children’s game of telephone. (Or is it called “operator?” I can’t remember.)

My point is Heathens generally don’t consider these stories as gospel. They are stories about our gods and heroes that have elements of truth in them, but aren’t considered a science text. Even so, we have sagas that have led us to discoveries such as the Viking settlement in North America and other interesting archaeological finds.

5. Heathens consider our writings incomplete and written by humans; Christians believe that their Bible is the word of their god

Bronze age to Iron age peoples wrote the Bible, not their god. There are so many inconsistencies within the Bible that you really can’t expect to take the text as law. Heathens, on the other hand, know that our stories were passed down in an oral tradition until someone like Snorri Sturluson wrote them down. We know they’re not complete, and we know that they’ve been influenced by Christianity.

We also know that there are common themes in the Norse stories we read. For example, we know that Tyr sacrificed his hand to Fenrir because we see images of Fenrir and Tyr on artifacts.

What about the Havamal?

Some believe the Havamal is Odin’s own writings. I can’t say for certain, but there might be a glimmer of truth to that. Still, if you believe the Havamal is Odin’s own words, that’s okay. He provides guidelines and not laws like the Christian god for how to live your life. It’s simply words of wisdom coming from the All Father.

The Havamal does have misogynistic statements in it. But you do have to consider the source–if indeed Odin wrote it. I don’t consider Odin a role model for how to treat women, and you shouldn’t either. So, like anything, Heathens take the story with a grain of salt. Or they should.

Heathens Accept Unverified Personal Gnosis or UPG (More on this later)

As Heathens we accept that the Heathen gods are still around and speak to us personally. We don’t require a church to hear our gods.

Okay, I’ve espoused enough for this time why Heathenry is infinitely better than Christianity. I’ll hopefully have a wrap up sometime soon. Again, take what you like out of this and tell me what you think in the comments section.

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Twelve Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part One)

Twelve Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part One)

Sure enough, a Christian came on board and asked why I believe/follow the Heathen gods. I have tons of reasons why, but I’ll be happy enough to mention twelve. The problem is my explanations are lengthy, and I have a lot to say, which means this is probably going to go over three posts. Which is fine, since I’ve been failing miserably at keeping my posts up.

If you’re a Heathen, chances are you will find my arguments useful, especially if you have to talk to a Christian (ahem,…family member?) about why you’re Heathen and not Christian. No doubt there are other reasons, but I back my statements with facts and science. So, feel free to quote me.

So, without further ado, here are my first four reasons for why I follow the Heathen gods.

12. The bullshit Adam and Eve story being taken as fact.

Not a reason for why I follow the Heathen gods, but rather why I don’t follow the Christian one. First on my list is the Christians’ entire creation story of Adam and Eve. Yes, I know this is in the Torah, but I suspect that most Jews don’t take the Adam and Eve story as fact. If you believe that Adam and Eve were actually real, you’re an idiot.

Billions and Billions…

The Earth is billions of years old. Yes, BILLIONS. That means if you subscribe to the whole Genesis thing, you’re essentially a creationist that believes the first Homo Sapiens came into being about 6000 years ago. (That’s counting back all the lineages from Jesus to Adam.)

But we know thanks to Archaeology and Paleontology (Science, people!) that our species of Homo Sapiens evolved some 200,000 to 300,000 in Africa. We left Africa some 100,000 years ago in a migration. So, Adam and Eve could not have existed at all, let alone 6000 years ago.

Adam and Eve–Seriously, People?

Yes, yes, there was most likely a mitochondrial Eve whom all humans obtained their mitochondria from, who lived some 150,000 years ago, but this isn’t the Eve of the bible. In fact, it’s an unfortunate term, because the bible thumpers use this as proof for an Eve. Just as there was a Y-chromosomal Adam (again, unfortunate term) who lived somewhere between 180,000 and 560,000 years ago. Never mind the fact that “Adam” couldn’t have been an actual Homo Sapiens, but was probably one of the precursor homids we evolved from.

What apparently happened is due to the two or three times humans nearly went extinct, those with mitochondrial Eve’s mitochondria survived, just like those with Y-chromosomal Adam’s Y chromosome, survived. Kids, it’s not rocket science. And I should know, being a former rocket scientist.

Yahweh the Asshat

Okay, so we’ve cleared the existence of Adam and Eve up, it’s time to analyze the story, itself. Looking at the whole Adam and Eve story suggests that the Christian god is a serious wanker. He creates two naive adults (that are basically children), puts a tree of knowledge in their garden, and tells them not to eat from it.

I don’t know about you, but what responsible adult would do that? Let’s change the tree to a firearm, god to a parent, and Adam and Eve to a brother and sister. Now, tell me, would you leave a firearm out where kids could get them? I thought not.

Furthermore, we have a supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing god. Would a decent god who knew what would happen would stick a tree and a serpent in the Garden of Eden to tempt them? Seriously? Who does that? A sadist, that’s who.

Where the Christians Get it Fucked Up

You might be interested in how the whole Christ myth plays into the Adam and Eve story. You see, Yahweh was so pissed off, that he allowed Adam and Eve’s original sin to get inherited by all their descendants. So, we all do time for a sin committed supposedly by the first humans. Let’s pretend we’re lobotomized for the moment. What judge would make the innocent great-grandson of a murderer do time? And not just the innocent great-grandson, but the innocent sons and daughters of the murderer, their kids, their grandkids, and anyone else in the line, in-perpetuity?

Now, wait, it gets better. Send your son down to Earth, have him antagonize officials enough to get himself crucified so he can redeem all of humanity for the sins of the first supposed humans.

But science proves there wasn’t an Adam and Eve, right? So, what does that say about Jesus’s sacrifice?

Ask and Embla (the Norse Adam and Eve)

Okay, so you’ve read the whole Norse creation myth how ice and fire collided to make a rime, and a cow licked the salt from Ymir. And how Odin and his bros slayed Ymir and created Midgard. And how Odin and his bros created Ask and Embla…

Guess what, people? It’s a fucking story by an Iron Age culture how the world came into being. It isn’t fact. It is a story told by people with limited knowledge of the world how it was created. That means it may have kernels of truth in it, but a lot of it is just storytelling.

Next…

11. Eternal damnation for not believing

Okay, this is rich. You don’t believe in Yahweh or Jesus, and you burn in Hell forever. You sin against god’s laws and you burn in Hell forever. Hels Bells, even the US penal system only keeps you incarcerated for life if you’re really bad, and puts those to death who commit really heineous crimes.

Yeah, Heathens have our own version of the Christian Hell in Niflheim called Nastrond. Murderers, adulterers, and oath breakers get chewed on by a dragon. (I kind of like this), but honestly, is it for eternity? We don’t know. And oddly enough, Valhalla has plenty of adulterers, oathbreakers, and murderers, according to the sagas, so I really doubt Nastrond keeps them all there.

I’m not sure what to think about Nastrond. Is it a Christian addition to our stories, or does it really exist? Even the Greek Hades had a place where people who sinned against the gods got eternal punishments, but for the most part normal people existed in Hell as shades. Heroes were brought to the Elysium Fields. Everyone else just sort of hung around in an okay sort of afterlife.

So, do murderers, oathbreakers, and adulterers go to Nastrond forever? Hel is often fair, which makes me think the punishment fits the crime. Break an oath or cheat on your spouse once, and maybe you get gnawed on for a bit. Commit genocide and start a world war, and maybe you get chewed on for as long as it takes. But what do I know?

10. Heathenism is an ancient religion; Christianity is a new religion

Let’s talk religion, shall we? Heathenism is an ancient pagan religion that has its roots in animism. We were some of the last pagans before Christianity took hold, because the Norse were in remote areas.

Although religion primarily came from the Middle East, we still have proof that Stonehenge and other monuments were erected some 5000 or more years ago–around the same time as the Sumerians were creating their own monuments. I can’t say that Heathenism sprung from these early roots of sun and moon worship, but certainly there are links to shamanistic and animistic beliefs.

From what I can tell, Heathenism in the Nordic cultures came out of pro-Germanistic beliefs, thought to appear somewhere around 500 BCE. Yahwism appeared around 1000 BCE but he was a Canaanite god who was one of many gods and goddesses. He even had a spouse named Asherah who was worshiped with him. Judaism didn’t start being monotheistic until somewhere between 515 BCE and 70 CE. And Christianity didn’t really appear until about 42 CE with Paul’s proselytizing.

You may be able to point to Judaism and say your religion started with that, but honestly, not so much. You don’t follow all the laws laid down in Leviticus–you mix meat and milk, you mix different types of textiles, and you probably eat pork. And you certainly don’t kill your kids for being disrespectful. Not to mention that you now celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday and not Saturday.

9. Heathenism does not preach; Christianity is a religion of proselytizers

When was the last time you had a Heathen knock on your door and ask you if you knew about the good news from Odin?

As Heathens (and Pagans) we really don’t give a shit about what others believe as long as their religion doesn’t interfere with our rights. Look, you can believe your garbage about creationism all you want, but I draw the line when you try to teach kids your Yahweh and Jesus myths as fact. Just like I draw the line at having legislators come up with deeming a human life starts at conception (thank the Roman Catholic Church and evangelicals for that.)

Look, I don’t give a shit if you have a nativity scene or Christmas lights at the State Capitol. I don’t care if there’s an Easter Egg hunt on the White House’s front lawn. What I care about is whether you decide to make Christianity the main religion of the United States.

Heathenism isn’t about proselytizing. It’s about your relationship with the gods and nature. A Heathen has a relationship with his or her gods and nature, and doesn’t really give a shit what you believe as long as you don’t shove it in his or her face.

Tune in next week for my next set of why I follow the Heathen gods.

 

Eostre and Spring: Is Easter a Christian Holiday?

Eostre and Spring: Is Easter a Christian Holiday?

Every year about this time, Heathens, pagans, and those who don’t celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter are quick to point out that Easter isn’t a Christian holiday; yours truly included. But I do wish to address Easter as a Christian holiday, even if it has taken its name and customs from pagan celebrations.

Easter as a Christian Holiday

I’m talking about Easter first as a Christian holiday so we can distinguish between the Christian holiday and a pagan celebration. Despite the name, Easter, the holiday has its roots in the Jewish celebration of Passover.

If you’ve ever watched The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston, you know that Passover celebrates the flight of the Israelites from the Pharaoh’s oppression as described in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. Never mind that archaeologists are pretty sure that the pyramids were built by paid labor and not slaves. Furthermore there are no records by the Egyptians of Israelites in Egypt, let alone slaves.

Jesus purportedly entered Jerusalem for the week of Passover, which, for his troubles, ended up getting him nailed to a cross.

Why Easter is Primarily Christian

Now, before we go into all the pagan traditions surrounding Easter, I’m going to point out that despite my dislike of Christianity and its destruction of paganism, pagans can only superficially claim Easter because it is around the Vernal Equinox. The whole fairy tale of the “purportedly magic Jew” rising from the dead after being crucified is more or less their shtick. It happens around the time of Passover, which is based on the Book of Exodus in the Bible.

I can hear you saying “But Tyra, what about the other resurrection myths? What about the celebrations of Dionysus and Osiris? What about Beltane? And what about Odin hanging from Yggdrasil for nine days?” Yeah, yeah. All that is true and chances are the Christians stole the ideas from pagans, but the whole bullshit celebration of Easter is undoubtedly theirs. They wove the pagan stories together to fit their religion and there you have it, a Christian story.

Nothing is particularly new with the Jesus story. There have been many instances in religion of gods becoming men or appearing to be men. There are many instances of gods being crucified or hanged from trees. And there are plenty of instances of men or gods rising from the dead and becoming more powerful. The Jesus story is just a narrative that puts those elements together in a one god, Christian fashion.

But Easter is Pagan! Right?

Easter isn’t as pagan as Christmas. Sure, it takes elements from various beliefs and spins them into a story that has both familiar and new elements present. The story uses archetypes that are ingrained in our psyches. But it is a Christian story. Why? Because it doesn’t quite mimic any other pagan myth out there.

Before Easter, pagans may have celebrated the equinoxes, although the solstices seem to be more popular for obvious reasons. Imbolc was the Celtic version of Entschtanning (celebrated by those in Urglaawe) also known as Grundsaudaag, which happened around the first or second of February, which we now celebrate as Groundhog’s Day. Beltane was the Celtic version of Mayday, which celebrated the beginning of summer. As Heathens, we really didn’t have an Equinox celebration, as far as I know.

Although St. Bede mentions the Anglo Saxon month of Eostre, which is named after Eostre/Ostara, we know very little about Eostre. She had a feast day around the same time as Easter, which probably made the whole Christ thing more palatable. The fact that Eostre gave Easter its name is probably one more way the Christian church co-opted Pagans.

What About the Pagan Trappings Around Easter?

Sure, Easter took on the pagan trappings of Eostre/Ostara. No bunnies were visiting Christ on the cross, as far as we know. And while eggs are purported to be the symbol of rebirth among the Jewish peoples, I haven’t done enough research into that to back that up. But you can read about my opinions, Was Easter Appropriated? HERE.

Ignoring Easter

This year I nearly forgot about Easter except my husband had the day off. And to be point-blank honest, I was more concerned about avoid talking to my Christian family that day instead of anything special. So, our dinner was stir-fry venison. Because that’s a proper Eostre dish. I’m just saying…

This doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate Eostre bunnies and stuff yourself full of Cadbury eggs. The whole candy thing was a 19th century invention anyway to give candy makers a boost, so it’s not religious at all. Personally, I’m good with any holiday that promotes candy.

 

5 Reasons Why Heathenry is Better than Christianity

5 Reasons Why Heathenry is Better than Christianity

I had a poll on Patreon which indicated that people wanted me to do some posts on going from Christianity to Heathenry. If you’re new to Heathenry, you may not know all the reasons why Heathenry is that much better than Christianity.  In this post, I give you five excellent reasons why Heathenry is better than Christianity.

1. Heathenry Doesn’t Have Sins

Heathens don’t have to worry about sins, because there aren’t any in Heathenry. Yes, we have the 9 Noble Virtues and whatnot, but when it comes to someone judging us, that just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that Heathens don’t have rules they have to obey when it comes to morality, but they are more interested in honor, oaths, and behaving correctly than worrying about whether someone will judge us because we weren’t as nice as we could be with our family or we told white lies.

If there’s anything like sin in Heathenry, it’s oathbreaking, murder, and adultery. Then, the bad guys end up having their corpses gnawed on by  Níðhǫggr the dragon/serpent in Nastrond, presumably when the dragon isn’t gnawing on Yggdrasil’s root.

Christianity, on the other hand, has sin. Big time. Lie? That’s a sin that could damn your soul. Talk back to your parents? Sin. Swear using “God” or “Jesus Christ,” and you’ve blasphemed. Going to hell for sure without some sort of absolution. The Catholics are big into the confessional and sacraments. Without those, you’re definitely on the eternal punishment list.

2. Heathenry has Hel, but it’s Not a Place of Torment

When people die, they go to a place of rest in Helheim. If they die in battle, they go either to Freyja’s  Fólkvangr or Odin’s Valhalla. Freyja gets the first choice of those who die in battle. The rest join Odin at Valhalla for fighting and feasting.

Some of the dead go to the halls of their patron gods or goddesses. Only the really evil people end up in Nastrond to be gnawed upon by  Níðhǫggr. (Oathbreakers, adulterers, and murderers.) What do the people in Helheim do? They do the same things they did when they were on Earth, but it is more peaceful and not as hard on them.

Christianity has heaven, hell, and purgatory. Heaven for those whom their god deems worthy to hang out with. Hell for just about everyone else. Purgatory for those who have sinned a little or who had the bad luck of not getting baptized, having original sin. With the exception of purgatory, heaven and hell are eternal.

3. You Have More Than One Soul

It seems incredibly odd in the Christian context, but Heathens believe we have more than one soul. I’ve seen several different writings that pertain to the soul, but from what I can gather, our souls consist of the hugr (reason), mynd (memory– I’ve also seen minni), hamingja (luck), fylgja  (fetch), hamr (the skin or physical body), and ørlög (deeds upon which fate is based).  There are probably others that I haven’t quite sussed out yet, but those seem to be the main ones. Yeah, I probably skipped over some. Deal with it.

These souls are tied together and get split apart once we die. Some go to our resting place, either Helheim or one of the halls of the gods; others stay on this Earth to be reincarnated into another body. The hamingja and the fylgia are typically reincarnated when we die. Hamingja or luck–both good and bad–can often follow families or clans. Hugr and mynd generally go to our afterlife. Other parts of ourselves die such as the hamr and the lic (which is the body).

Christianity believes you have one soul and the fate of that soul depends on whether you believe in their god and behave the way their god wants you to behave. Screw up and you pretty much go to hell.

4. You Don’t Have to Proselytize

One of the nice things about being a Heathen is you don’t have to convert anyone. In fact, conversion is something we don’t do because we pretty much figure you’ll either figure it out on your own or you won’t. There are other gods and other religions to check out if you’re not into believing in our gods. We believe what we believe, and if you want to believe, well fine. If you don’t, that’s okay too. We’ll all find out in the end who’s right and who’s not. Or if the atheists are right, we won’t know and won’t care anyway.

Our lives focus on the here and now rather than whether we get eternal rewards or torture. We are concerned with our honor and the way we behave, not because someone is going to punish us, but because we are our deeds.

Christians, on the other hand, require that they not only believe in their god, but they also must “spread the good news.” Many flavors of Christianity require that their followers go out and annoy other people in order to convert them.

5. Don’t Relate to One God? You Have Others

In Christianity, you have the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Don’t relate to that god? Well, if you’re Catholic or Episcopalian, you have saints, but beyond that, if you don’t relate to their god, you’re pretty much screwed.

Heathenry has several gods, the wights, and the ancestors to talk to. Not a fan of Odin and Thor? Try one of the other gods or goddesses that resonate with you. Not interested in the gods? There are land spirits and ancestors. You can make friends with the wights and ancestors and use their knowledge and inspiration to help you.

There are many other reasons why Heathenry is better than Christianity, but I challenged myself with five reasons. You may have other reasons I haven’t mentioned. Tell me about them in the comments.

Christian Trolls and Other Idiots

Christian Trolls and Other Idiots

Well, the Rational Heathen has been trolled by a Christian, who either is terribly misinformed, or just a troll. Christians, he believes, converted barbaric Heathens peacefully.  According to him, Heathens were just mass killers and rapists. Now, if that got you bristling, good.  Here are the facts behind so-called peaceful Christians and barbaric pagans.

Before I get started, let me point out there were so many instances that they just don’t fit in a single
post.  So today I’m just going to talk about forced conversions and just touch on the witchcraft trials and other lovely situations like burning at the stake.  If you’re really interested in the background behind my assertions, (and the gory details–literally), that’s going into a premium post which you can access for just $1.

Let’s Talk “Peaceful Conversion”

Let me point out that Christians were exceedingly barbaric once they got into power. From Constantine on, both sides of the Roman Empire (East and West), began systematic elimination of pagan practices, most which were punishable by death.  Pagan temples were regularly looted and closed by the government.  While there were a few emperors who turned a blind eye to pagan traditions, others would come along that would close pagan temples and colleges, loot the temples and strip the priests and Vestal Virgins of their pay, and outlaw sacrifices to pagan gods which would cause the practitioner to be put to death.  Another interesting practice outlawed with the death penalty as punishment was reading the entrails of fowl or sheep to predict the future. Constantine looted temples; his successor, Constantius II carried on a crusade against pagans.  Eventually Theodosius I made paganism illegal and many Jews as well as pagans were forced to convert or suffer loss of their possessions, buildings, or even their lives.  

Desecrate Sacred Places

Pope Gregory I knew there were still pagans among the Christians who practiced their own religion in secret.  To crowd them out, he decreed that the Church should take over their sacred glens, grottoes, caves, and mountains and put Christian altars and relics there.  The idea was to remove all pagan symbolism and to establish it as being Christian and not pagan.  You can probably imagine how the pagans felt seeing their own holy areas desecrated in such a fashion.  

If you’re a Christian, imagine how you might feel seeing your church replaced by a pagan temple and you’ve been told that the pagan gods are the only true gods, and that you can’t worship your god there.  Wow.  I bet that just blew your mind.  Never mind that Heathenism doesn’t do that, nor do most pagan religions, but think about it.  What if you could not worship your god and if you did, be put to death?  Yes, there are some countries that treat Christians badly, but imagine this was across the world as you knew it: the Roman Empire. 

In Fear for One’s Life and Freedom

Once Christianity took hold, Christians were just as barbaric to pagans as the Christian troll stated the pagans were to Christians. In many places, a Christian owning Christian slaves was forbidden, but it was a-okay for Christians to own pagan, Muslim, or Jewish slaves. (Now, granted the same was true with other beliefs: Muslims generally would not own Muslims, Heathens would usually not own Heathens, etc. As long as you were of the “other,” castrating you and sending you into slavery was just fine.)  The Vikings had a huge slave trade economy, but then so did the Italians, the Muslims, and other faiths.  Eunuchs were big business and there were special eunuch houses designed just for that purpose.

If that isn’t enough to make you shudder, consider Charlemagne.  During the Saxon wars, he forced the Saxons to convert and those that didn’t were put to death.  The Massacre of Verden saw the death of 4500 pagan Saxons alone because they refused to convert.  

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

After Spain drove out the Moors, the rest of the non-Christians were forced to convert or be executed.  They then had to endure the Spanish Inquisition which tortured and put to death many of the forced converts who were under suspicion of practicing their former religion in secrecy.  It’s estimated that about 30,000 to 50,000 people were burned at the stake in a 300 year period by the Inquisition alone.  If you confessed to your “sins” you would be strangled before being burned to show mercy.  Either way, dead or alive, you were going to get torched.  Remember, these are the followers of the so-called “Prince of Peace.”

Burning Witches and Other Horrid Practices

Now, whether you want to split hairs about whether the people burned were heretics or whether they were actually pagans is pretty immaterial.  Burning at the stake was a common method of “saving” people’s souls.  I ran into one site that claims in the 16th and 17th centuries about 200,000 people were burned to death just for witchcraft.  That’s pretty horrible.  Now, granted not all of them were pagan or claimed to be witches, but these were people who died horrible deaths.  Oh, and I saw some statement that burning was considered different than being immersed in boiling liquid.  (Death by boiling.)  Fuck that shit.  Christians were cruel.

I’m not saying our Heathen ancestors were lily-white either.  But those who live in glass houses should never throw stones.




How Heathens can Celebrate Easter with Christians

How Heathens can Celebrate Easter with Christians

If you’re like me, chances are you have Christian relatives who celebrate some form of the Christian holiday of Easter. If you’re the only Heathen in your family, you may get an earful about what is considered the most holy time that Christians celebrate.  Still, unless you’re looking to cut ties with your family–and I don’t recommend that–you may be looking for ways to enjoy the Easter celebrations.  If you’re a Heathen who loves to get into fights with family members over Christian holidays, or at least not willing to put aside your differences for one or two days, this post isn’t for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can get involved with minimal headaches.

Put Your Pride on the Back Burner (or Don’t be an Asshole)

Unless you have an extremely open-minded family/extended family, most of them are going to take a dim view of you not being Christian.  I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. They’ve been indoctrinated into the Christian belief system, and it’s unlikely you’re going to change their minds. You’re going to the Christian hell, and that’s all there is to it, (unless they can persuade you into the fold/back into the fold), and they really don’t get why you would worship pagan gods.  At this point, all you can do is grit your teeth and hope to get through the Christian talk without losing your cool.

That being said, understand that this is a Christian holiday, even if they took on the pagan trappings surrounding it.  Easter is considered to be more important to the Christian religions than Christmas, so realize that you are the outside here. It is you who is extended the olive branch, not them.  So, don’t expect for them to understand/accept you being Heathen in their most holy time.

Because this is their most holy time, mentioning the appropriation of Eostre’s holiday at the Easter dinner is probably not going to do you any favors. Yes, they eat ham, which honors Freyr, but let it slide. Yes, they decorate eggs.  Yes, they associate chicks and bunnies with Christ’s death and resurrection, but pointing out the incongruity of it all won’t cut it. If we want to maintain the peace in our celebrations, it is better to sit and listen rather than fight a foolish battle. This is their Easter–not ours, so let’s respect their religion, just like we’d want them to respect ours.

So, What Can You Enjoy?

At this point, you’re wondering what you can enjoy out of Easter.  There are a lot of cool things you can do and still be part of the Easter celebration.  Here are some of the things I recommend.

Egg Coloring

We color eggs for springtime, so there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy coloring eggs with your Christian family. Talking about spring and its renewal, as well as the cycle of life, is fairly safe.

Easter Egg Hunt

Why not hold an Easter egg hunt? Put together some of those plastic eggs and fill them with goodies. Hide them and watch as your family searches for them. You’ll all enjoy it.

Chicks and Bunnies

Whether live, toy, or simply drawings, the images of chicks and bunnies are pretty much safe territory.  You may want to talk about the Oschter Haws which was brought into Pennsylvania by German settlers. Avoiding the Urglaawe references, your Christian family may be delighted to learn that that’s where the Easter bunny who laid colorful eggs came from.

Easter Candy

Easter candy originates from clever marketing by candy makers in the 19th century to capitalize on an untapped market. There’s no reason for you to mention this, nor is there any reason why you can’t have some yummy candy in pagan symbols such as rabbits, chicks, and eggs.

Easter Brunch or Dinner

Never turn down a good feast, even if it’s in honor of a god you don’t follow.  All the trappings are Heathen, or at least, pagan, so enjoy spending time with family and friends. You may want to even bring some mead so your family may enjoy something a little different than the traditional grape wines. Toast to your family and to those family members who are no longer with you. You’ll be honoring the ancestors and still not offend your family.

Talk about Family, both Present and Past

Speaking of family, strike up a conversation about your family and your ancestors. Talk positively about them, or if someone in the family knows a particularly good story about an ancestor or a relative who is alive, encourage them to relay that story.  As the good Doctor says, “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.”

Listen to Your Family, Even if You Disagree with Them

If your family starts talking about Christianity, listen to them. You don’t have to agree with them, but when they tell you about their faith, they tell you about themselves. Ask questions. Ask why they believe what they believe, and don’t argue with them over their beliefs. You may discover that your mom believes in the Christian god because she finds comfort in a god who promises to care for her. Or your dad might actually not believe in the god but goes to church because the family does it. Or maybe your cousin is an atheist at heart.  You can learn a lot about your family just by listening.

Go to Church with them

This suggestion is somewhat dangerous when it comes to family, not because you’re likely to change your faith, but more likely because you may offend or get into an argument with a family member. Some Christians, most notably Catholics, have rules against participating in sacraments such as the Eucharist (the bread and wine) because they believe you must be of their denomination to participate. (It has to do with transmogrification, but that’s another long post.)

Why go to church with your family?  Well, first it puts you on the same page as your family members so if they discuss the sermon, you know what was said. Secondly, you can see Christianity with all its pagan influences.  Third, churches often have amazing artwork that is worth seeing.

Just sit and watch as they go through sitting, kneeling, and standing routines. Listen.  It may seem worthless, but in a way you are gathering intelligence about this religion. That way, you understand your family’s behavior a bit better.

Take Time Out for Our Gods, Wights, and Ancestors

I’ve given you ideas for keeping the peace with your Christian relatives.  But this isn’t about Heathenry, it’s about keeping the peace in your extended family. Before you join in the Easter festivities, make an offering to the gods, especially Frigga and Frau Holle, the wights, and your ancestors for a peaceful gathering. And thank them after the day for their help, especially if things went successfully.

Hopefully, I’ve given you ideas for staying sane around Christians during their holiday.  If, in the end, you do decide to try out some of these ideas, I’d be interested to learn how they worked out.

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