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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 to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Christian Relatives

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Christian Relatives

It’s that time of year again.  It’s the time when we have to see our families, many of whom are of a Christian faith, and celebrate the holidays together.  If your family get togethers are something you dread, I have some recommendations for keeping true to being a Heathen while celebrating Thanksgiving.

Consider Your Support System

Oddly enough, how you handle Thanksgiving depends a lot on your family’s religious views.  If you’re the only Heathen and 20 relatives are Christian, you’re going to have a harder time than someone whose family is mostly Heathen, or their family is a mix of Christians, agnostics, Jews, Wiccans, and atheists.  You’re more likely to have more acceptance and more support with the latter two, since your family is at least used to the concepts of having relatives of different faiths.  This of course doesn’t account for those warring families who do not get along.  If you have one of those, I’d sincerely suggest you skip the holidays and celebrate it with like-minded friends or go out to eat.  Honestly, you don’t need that kind of stress in your life.

If You’re Having Thanksgiving at Your House

Having Thanksgiving at your house can be simple enough when it comes to celebrating it.  Consider it a harvest festival and look on it as a way to celebrate the end of hunting season, the end of harvest, and the beginning of the Yule month. Look at the images we use for Thanksgiving: turkey, cornucopia, pumpkins, gourds, fall leaves, and colorful Indian corn. Yes, we also use pilgrims and Native Americans as images as well, but if you want to avoid the Christian connotations, you can emphasize the friendship aspect.  If it hadn’t been for the Native Americans, it’s unlikely the pilgrims would have survived.

Because you’re inviting your relatives to your home, you have quite a bit of power when it comes to ground rules and behaviors.  Which means if they want to enjoy Thanksgiving with you, you can insist that there is no talk about religion and no arguments.  (And stick to this rule.  Yes, you may have to tell them to leave if they misbehave).

Here are some ideas for compromise:

  • Decorate your home with harvest images and nonreligious Thanksgiving images.
  • Make traditional recipes, plus recipes from Viking era feasts.
  • Serve mead.
  • When it comes time to say a prayer, ask that each of your guests silently pray.
  • End the prayer session by saying, “We give thanks for this food and for each other. Let us remember those who are no longer with us, and let us be thankful for the time we had with them.  I propose a toast to <name deceased family members and friends>”  (Yes, I know that many of us still consider our ancestors with us, but for the sake of euphemism, let’s leave it at “no longer with us.”
  • Focus on the positives with your Christian relatives.  Compliment new clothes, a tasty dish they brought, or a new style.  It’s hard to be negative toward someone who is complimenting you.
  • If someone brings us your Heathenry in a negative way, tell them gently that this is not the time to discuss it, and that you’ll be happy to talk to them about it later. If they insist, then remind them of the ground rules.  If they persist, you may have to tell them to leave if they are rude.

If You’re Having Thanksgiving at a Relative’s House


Unless you have some open-minded Christian relatives, or relatives that are basically agnostic but identify as Christian, you could be walking into some pretty dangerous territory if you’re the only Heathen in a majority of Christians — and they know it.  They also have a lot of power because you’ve come into their home.  It’s different than them coming to your home, because you are being hospitable to them and they are there by your graces.  As above,

  • Focus on the positives with your Christian relatives.  Compliment new clothes, a tasty dish they brought, or a new style.  It’s hard to be negative toward someone who is complimenting you.
  • If someone brings us your Heathenry in a negative way, tell them gently that this is not the time to discuss it, and that you’ll be happy to talk to them about it later.

If they don’t know you’re Heathen, keep a low profile and just go with the flow. You don’t have to say their prayers or talk religion, just keep the conversation at Thanksgiving and get profoundly interested on what is going on in their lives.  You’ll find that people — even your relatives — like to talk about themselves, so ask some questions, sit back, and listen.

If your relatives know you’re Heathen and are open minded — awesome.   You might even have an interesting discussion about faiths.  But again, you’re there for each other company and not a debating match.  Often if some other relatives who follow other faiths are there, it can be a very positive experience.

Observe Your Own Heathen Rituals

Before the guests arrive, or before you leave to attend a Thanksgiving dinner, take time to thank the gods, ancestors, and wights for their aid and support.  Offer them a prayer you wrote and meditate on how fortunate you’ve been over the year.  Even if you’ve had a difficult year, the fact that you’re alive and breathing may be enough to say thanks.  Let the gods help clear your thoughts and help you do what is right.  When the dinner has ended and you’re home and the guests (if any) are gone, offer a blot to the gods as a thanks.  Mead or wine works well.

A Few Words About Dogmatic or Fundamentalist Families

If you have staunchly Christian family, or a family that is dogmatic when it comes to their faith, and you don’t have something more important to do (like make ice), you can go to Thanksgiving dinner with them, but I don’t recommend it.  You can expect some sort of abuse if they’re the types who have taken exception to your choice in religion. No matter how hard you try to explain your side, they will not be enlightened enough to believe anything other than you are going to the Christian hell (or insert your relative’s religion’s version of fire and brimstone here). Unless there are ground rules in place, i.e., no talk of religion and no attempts at “intervention” or conversion, you will have a miserable time and feel like a prisoner trapped with a bunch of raving manics.

Okay, maybe that’s a little strong.  But you get my point.  I grew up in such a family where if you didn’t tow the line (whatever line that was), they used holidays to gang up on you and hammer away.  I wasn’t the only one brow beaten, either.  Oddly enough, it was not over religion, although my family has since been worried for “my eternal soul.”  Hels bells, kids, you can have a peaceful dinner at a restaurant for a lot less than the psychiatric counseling you’ll probably need after undergoing one of those holidays.  To this day, the memory of Easter where my family was mad at me for something (fuck if I can remember) and took it out on me and my husband, and then after we beat feet, took it out on my mother-in-law.  I stopped going to Easter dinners because of that (sorry, mom, I’ve got to wash my hair).

I know I’ve probably given you no hope when it comes to families, religion, and being a Heathen. But I want to point out that having really negative experiences over holidays make the holidays even more stressful than they should be. Maybe you’ve had better luck with your family than I have, but if you do have a family that is insistent on you converting to their religion, it’s an uphill battle to get them to accept you.

My Thanksgiving will be mostly not stressful because other than my husband, my relatives think I’m agnostic or atheist.  Which is fine by me. The gods know where I stand, and that’s fine by me.

You can have a fairly stress-free holiday, and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

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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