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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 Three)

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

I was asked by a Christian in the comments section why I follow the Heathen gods. I have plenty of answers why, which is why you can read about it in Part One and Part Two.

Please note that these aren’t the only reasons why I am a Heathen, and because a Christian asked, I want to point out the obvious folly behind their beliefs as well. Look, I swallowed the Christian Kool-Aid for years, and eventually my logic won out. I would’ve probably stayed agnostic or even gone atheist, had it not been for Tyr and Thor. More on that later. Let’s go through the last four reasons (and the bonus fifth reason).

4. The Whole Christ Story is preposterous for several reasons

Oiy! I’m back to bashing Christianity again. But let’s talk about the Christ myth for a moment, shall we? I’ll get back to why I follow the Heathen gods in a moment. The Christian bible goes into a vast lineage of Joseph–who was technically NOT Jesus’s father according to the myth, but probably was–all the way back from Adam and Eve.

Timing Issues, or You Can Ask the Doctor About That

You knew I had to get a Doctor Who reference in somehow. So, why not, since we’re talking about the past?

Jesus’s whole “begets” is basically the bullshit that the creationists use to justify their belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old. That and all the other “begets” and claims someone lived 500 years here, and 1000 years there. Never mind science has proven the Earth is several billion years old and there is no way humans were around for just 6000 years. We know through archaeology that Homo Sapiens–our race–have been around for 200,000 years or so, according the the fossil record. That doesn’t include our hominid ancestors who came before us.

The Earth is Billions of Years Old. Get Over It.

We know the fossil record is legitimate. We know that thousands of archaeologists, paleontologists, and geologists aren’t in a gigantic conspiracy to cover the “truth” up. Shit like that just doesn’t happen. Sure, there have been hoaxes. But we know they’re hoaxes because some scientist actually stepped forward and said it had to be.

Science isn’t always right, but that’s the beauty of it. We make the best possible informed guesses with the amount of data we have (hypothesizes, and then theories). When a new fact presents itself that flies in the face of what we believe, we modify our statements accordingly. We are certain some theories are indeed facts (based on the physical and repeatable proof), such as the theory of gravity.

We know the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, from the geologic and fossil records. Yeah, that’s quite a difference from the 6000 years the New Earth Christians claim it is. So, the whole Garden of Eden thing couldn’t have happened. The proof of the Earth’s age has to do with measurements and facts. The proof the New Earth Christians have? A book written by a bunch of Bronze Age peoples. Hmm. I wonder which one is more accurate?

The Earth wasn’t made in six days, there was no Adam and Eve (or Ask and Embla, for that matter), and there wasn’t a Garden of Eden. Those are just stories to provide an answer to a group of desert peoples on how the world was created. Much of it is allegory, similar to our own stories. But people look at the bible like its a science text. It’s not.

The Whole Crucifixion Sacrifice Makes No Sense

Jesus supposedly dies for the world’s sins because of the inherited “Original Sin” — that being Adam and Eve eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. That Yahweh put there. Along with a snake.

Yahweh decides to punish humans for being ignorant fools by having their descendants inherit their parents’ sin. Then sends his son down (who is their god, himself) and sacrifices himself to get rid of the sin. Only, he doesn’t. You have to get baptized to get that cleaned up. And people still sin despite the baptism. So, Jesus dies and stays dead for what amounts to a three day weekend. To appease himself.

What?

Okay, if there’s no Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, etc, then why did Jesus go through the sacrifice to allegedly purge us of this sin?

And Jesus vanishes in a puff of logic…

3. Heathenism Has Always Fascinated Me

Honest to gods truth here: if I weren’t a Heathen or pagan, I’d probably be agnostic or even an atheist. In fact, before I became a Heathen, I was on the road to atheism. But, something always held me back from being an atheist, and because of that, I follow the Heathen gods.

Growing Up Skeptic

When I was young, I quickly figured out Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny didn’t exist. I’d say before I was five, I had it all figured out. That didn’t mean I didn’t want to believe in supernatural things. On the contrary. I’d look for fairies and Elves, and other creatures in the forest outside my home.

I remember some kids talking about “fairies” in this one place I knew. Quizzing them about the fairies, I realized they were talking about dandelion and goats-beard seeds and not actual little folk. I was, as you can imagine, quite disappointed. So, I pretty much decided they were all the activity of overactive imaginations. That being said, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Landvaetr. I know of many Heathens on the Internet who deal with them, so I am agnostic when it comes to them.

Stories About the Gods Intrigued Me Enough to Follow the Heathen Gods

I remember as a kid being utterly fascinated with stories about Loki and Thor. Tyr’s story about how he sacrificed his hand. Idunn’s apples. The building of Asgard. The stories inspired me in ways the bible never could. They were great stories about gods whom I could relate to. The stories had humor, courage, confidence, honor, treachery, love, and self-sacrifice. The bible may have those things, but the stories never appealed to me, except when they spoke about angels.

Growing Up with Runes, Tolkien, and Fantasy

I was in sixth grade when I was introduced to Tolkien’s The Hobbit. A teacher of mine–in a parochial school, no less!–read us from The Hobbit and Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.

This, this was what I wanted. Especially Tolkien. The story, while fiction, held some ancient truths in them. Dwarves mine and craft beautiful things. Light Elves sing and are in tune with nature. Trolls are dangerous; dragons hoard gold. Tolkien’s works were inspired by the Heathen stories. Even if he did grow up Catholic–some he and I had in common–he used his knowledge to paint an imaginative Heathen world.

My overly Christian sibling must have been struck by Thor or another of the Norse gods, because they gave me my first runestones. I soon had the elder Futhark memorized. I returned to the stones again and again, even when I didn’t really believe in them. They generally gave me good advice over the years.

2. My beliefs are my own. I don’t have to follow a set of ridiculous rules to obtain a reward.

Although I am highly opinionated when it comes to my beliefs (no, really?!), in the end my beliefs are my own. Your beliefs are your own. As long as it doesn’t impinge on someone else’s freedom, or doesn’t break the law, you’re welcome to believe whatever you want. I may think you’re an idiot, a racist, or a recon moron, but if you’re not violating laws, murdering innocents, or preventing people from worshiping our gods, I don’t care.

My Gods Don’t Care About the Minutia of My Day-to-Day Life

Honestly, there are days when I’ve not been my best. I’m guessing there are days when you’re not your best. But we try to be honorable if we are Heathens. That means living to a moral code of conduct. Our gods accept that.

Thor is unlikely to strike me down because I’ve been late on posts. Freyja and Freyr aren’t going to be pissed because I couldn’t cook a pig roast over <name a Heathen holiday>. Tyr isn’t going to punish me because I looked at another religion, or swore mightily when I fell and bruised a knee. They want me to behave honorably, which is part of the ethics of reciprocity. The basis of the ethics of reciprocity states to treat people the way you want to be treated, aka the Golden Rule. Heathenism accepts this as don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated. In other words, I do my best and realize I am human with human failings. The gods know this.

Look, I know some of you are homosexual, practice polyamory, or are trans. I am not. I am heterosexual and monogamous. That is my choice. What your choice is doesn’t concern me as long as you’re not exploiting minors or harming animals. I look at you as a person, and if you happen to be an asshole, then I don’t like you. But sexuality doesn’t figure into the equation, whether you’re my friend or not, and I suspect the same is true with our gods. I doubt seriously the gods care what you do in your bedroom as long as it’s between consenting adults. It’s when you violate oaths, commit adultery, or murder someone, that’s when they take serious offense.

My Gods Care About the World

Many Heathen gods are nature gods. That means their powers come from nature. Just as Skadi brings the cold and snow, Thor brings the lightning and rain. Sif and Freyr bring the harvest. Our gods are part of our world and yes, it pains them when humans defile it. Humans haven’t been granted stewardship of the world; we are a part of it and must live according to its laws. It is folly when religions treat our world like we own it. Okay, we’re here and the dominant species, but by the gods, plenty of things like diseases, asteroids, and volcanoes can wiped us off the face of the Earth.

As Heathens, we need to show respect to nature and its bounty. Not everything should be paved over, built up, or otherwise controlled. We’re still at the mercy of weather, earthquakes, and other natural catastrophes. We need to work with our gods and the Landvaetr to treat our world like the only place we live in. Because we do.

1. I have met and communicated with my gods.

This is probably the most controversial belief, but yes, I know Tyr, Thor, Odin, Freyr, Freyja, Loki, and a host of other deities. This is pure UPG or Unverified Personal Gnosis. They visit me in dreams. They talk to me during meditation or occasionally during other times. I have met Odin in person. (Freaked me out.) I have had Tyr possess me for a short time. (It was strange–don’t ask). I have felt love for them, and I can feel their love towards me. And that is good.

My gods work with the living. My reward doesn’t come after I die; my reward is here and now, day after day. Life is a gift and is worth living.

I already know where I will go when I die. It’s not a case of how much penance I do, or whether I believe in them. The fact that I know they are with us just sweetens the deal. I’m glad they were patient enough to convince me they existed.

Bonus Reason: Most Christians as assholes

To make this ridiculously long post even longer, I had to add this dig at Christians. Most Christians are assholes. Sure, there are Christians who are nice. Just like I know good and kind atheists, agnostics, Jews, Wiccans, Muslims, and peoples of other faiths. The problem I have is that many Christians tend to be egotistical and self-righteous. They “know” because they believe in Jesus that they’re going to heaven, no matter what they do. They wear their faith on their sleeve. And they wouldn’t do good works if it didn’t give them brownie points in heaven. They become passive-aggressive when you don’t agree with them, telling you they’ll pray for your soul. Guess what? I don’t need their self righteous attitude.

I’ve also had Christians assume that since I’m not Christian that I have no moral code of conduct. They’re wrong, of course. I do indeed have a code of conduct, and I resent their implications. I don’t need a god to tell me to do the right thing (although Tyr has complained when I’ve fucked up).  I try very hard to live honorably. Sometimes I succeed.

I think I’ve written enough on the subject. As always, feel free to tell me what you think in the comments section.

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.

 

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

As I sit and work day-to-day, I remember when I first heard about COVID-19 pandemic, Tyr told me that my job was now to stay safe and alive. So far, I’ve managed to do so. But it got me thinking about others who do not hear the gods, and I’d imagine they wonder the gods have to say when it comes to this already brutal year.

We Now Continue Our Year From Hell…

I intentionally used the Christian Hell, because I doubt strongly Lady Hel would treat humans this badly. 2021 is shaping up to be as awful as 2020 in a lot of respects. Sure it’s a new year, and we have the vaccine, but it’s going to take a shitload of inoculations before we can truly think this pandemic nightmare is finally over. Assuming the vaccine does what it’s supposed to do.

Our ancestors dealt with diseases all the time, and unfortunately they did not live long. You had a one in three chance of dying before you turned 21. If you were a woman back then, the chance of dying in childbirth was huge. Most people didn’t make it to 50. True. If you did, you were very old. It took courage and strength to survive in the Viking Era. Despite all the hardship, people did live their lives and lived as Heathens.

What the Gods Might Say to Us About the Pandemic

When it suits the gods, I sometimes hear from them. Despite my connection to them, I try very hard not to put words in their mouths. Different gods have different agendas. Even so, I do get impressions and feeling from them. And the message I get is to survive. Yes. Survive. You, me, …everyone. Use our brains to understand what is happening and listen to those who know more about it than we do. That means, listen to medical and health professionals who have more knowledge than your neighbor, your favorite politician, or your favorite conspiracy website. Even I don’t have the answers to everything, but I will tell you how I see it. Too many people are quick to go back to “normal” living when most of the population isn’t vaccinated, and we really don’t know how long the vaccine is effective.

As Heathens, we need to understand that the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run to us when we call. They don’t coddle us. They expect us to behave like the adults we are and face our problems head on. That may mean to show enough courage to wear a mask to protect the more susceptible people. To give up our parties and socializing for a while. And even to act like an adult when others aren’t.

Not Our First Pandemic: Our Ancestors had it Rough

I get it. It’s been a tough year sheltering in place. But guys, we have it easy comparatively speaking, to our ancestors. Our medical professionals tell us to wear masks, stay at home when not doing anything that is vitally essential, and social distance when we’re in places with other people. Yeah, the virus has screwed with our jobs and our livelihoods; I get that. Kids can’t socialize and play with others. Yeah, I get that too. Suddenly parents have had to become parents again and deal with their family on the full-time basis. Not always easy.

I look at how our ancestors had to cope with disease and hardship, and look at us today. Despite almost a half million dead in the United States alone—and yeah, I do know people who have had this terrible disease, or who work with patients who have it—we humans are better prepared than we have ever been to combat this disease. And what’s more, simple measures such as wearing a mask, handwashing, and maintaining a distance from others who are not in your immediate household can help prevent you from getting the virus and spreading it to others. When compared to what our ancestors had to deal with, our sacrifices for not spreading the disease seem minor.

Humanity hasn’t Changed, Much to My Chagrin

All that being said, I’ve been horrified that our behavior as a species hasn’t changed since the last pandemic. And how we haven’t changed that much since diseases such as the plague have ravaged our populations. Different accounts have shown that people’s behavior is still pretty much the same in a crisis. Despite all the progress in science we’ve made, people are still quick to trust in their god or gods that they will be spared despite our knowledge and education. Or they go about blaming conspiracies by certain mistrusted groups. Or they make shit up and try that to protect themselves.

In short, most people have never learned critical thinking. And honestly, that will be the downfall of humanity. Our own stupidity and ignorance will kill us faster than anything else because most are unwilling to understand the logic behind health professionals’ recommendations. You know, the guys with the fifty-pound heads who study diseases for a living? Who make recommendations from the current data they have? No, they’re not infallible. And no, they may change their recommendations as new data comes to light, but honestly, would you rather trust your neighbor who believes in chemtrails, or a seasoned medical professional with enough training and degrees, who has studied this disease, and has the latest information?

The Gods are Not Your Bitches

Look, if you’re looking for Odin, Thor, or whomever to keep yourself and your family safe from this pandemic, I’ve got news for you. The gods are not your bitches. They don’t come when we call them like some well-trained dog looking for a biscuit. Look, I’m on good relations with about a half-dozen gods and goddesses, and they don’t pop in most of the time when I talk to them. Sure, they listen. But whether they decide to talk with me is their decision; not mine. I get that.

Asking a god or goddess to protect you from COVID-19 while you’re still going to bars, not wearing masks, and not social distancing is insulting to our gods. They expect for us to use our brains and show foresight. They expect us to take the measures we can to protect ourselves from a pandemic. To expect them to keep you safe is ludicrous.

So, yeah, trust in the gods, but prepare yourselves. And don’t treat our gods like the Christians treat theirs.

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.

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.

Read More Read More

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.

Four Ways to Make Easter Not Suck

Four Ways to Make Easter Not Suck

Easter has never been my favorite time, largely because it’s a Christian holiday that is pretty much a celebration of their death-cult god. Even when I was growing up, other than getting Easter baskets with lots of yummy chocolate, all I remember is having to get dressed up and go to church and afterwards a brunch that was maybe okay.  (Never mind the fact that ham was the main dish, ahem…in honor of Freyr.)

Sure, we can quibble whether Eostre was really an Anglo-Saxon goddess or not, but it really doesn’t matter much if you’re a solitary Heathen among Christians.  Sure, you can go through the motions and celebrate the season with family, but I’ve come up with some interesting ways to make Easter not suck.

Make Easter a Celebration to Freyr, Freyja, and Eostre


Okay, maybe Eostre existed in Anglo-Saxon lore, and maybe she didn’t.  That’s okay.  We know Freyr and Freyja exist and we can use Easter as a time to celebrate the gods and goddesses of spring.  That means creating yummy meals, doing blots, and celebrating like it’s a time to celebrate — that is, the beginning of new life.

Have a roast pig dish, crack open a bottle of mead, and celebrate the spring.  Got Christians in your family?  Well, how would they know this is for our gods and not theirs?

This past Yule, I didn’t get my Christmas cookies made, so I figure now is as good of time as any to make roll out cookies. Luckily I have more than just Christmas shapes.  In fact, one of my sisters gave me a Star Wars cookie cutter set, because nothing says Christmas like Star Wars.  So, I figure Easter is as good as any for cookies that I can enjoy. (ETA: Munching on them right now.)

Go Have Fun While the Christians are in Church

Look, not everything in the United States shuts down on Easter (I can’t say that with certainty in other countries), so why not catch that movie you’ve wanted to see, go to the attractions that are normally mobbed other times of the year, or plan doing something that is just plain fun while the Christians are getting the megadose of guilt in church?  Look, just because they’re insistent on getting all formal to impress other people in church doesn’t mean we have to sit around and mope.  Celebrate Easter with a favorite movie, meal, or go outdoors and enjoy nature.

Or do what we do, and go rabbit hunting.  “Hey, it’s the Easter bunny!”  Blam!

Sleep In

It’s Sunday, and unless you have to work on Easter, just sleep in and relax.  Nobody is telling you to get up for the crack of dawn sunrise service.  Look, you’ll probably be doing that on Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, so why bother for a day that has no meaning to you?

Do Some Eostre Egg Dyeing and Hiding

If you feel the need to enjoy the holiday, why not hard boil some eggs and use natural dyes to color them?  Here are recipes which teach you how to make natural colored dyes easily.  If you do put on an Eostre egg hunt, be sure to count the number of eggs you hid. otherwise a few days later you’ll find the egg with your nose.

I am certain there are other things you can do to make Easter more enjoyable.  Let me know what you do.

Medieval People Were Prejudiced (Just Not the Way You Think)

Medieval People Were Prejudiced (Just Not the Way You Think)

Our medieval and Viking ancestors were a prejudiced lot.  They routinely attacked, enslaved, and killed people who weren’t like them.  Furthermore, there was a lot of fear associated with those who were not like them.  Does this sound familiar?

If you haven’t read my posts, you’re probably thinking that I’m talking about their prejudice and how it had to do with race.  (Never mind that race is a construct.)  But, you’d be wrong.  I’m talking about their prejudices when it came to beliefs.  Particularly, religious beliefs.

What’s a Color?

People in Medieval times didn’t think much in terms of skin color.  Those who traveled through lands where the Mongols, Indians, and other peoples lived didn’t bother describing the color of the skin or the superficial characteristics that people nowadays seem to pay attention to.  In fact, it was common for people to believe that the skin color was changeable and had to do with where you lived rather than what “race” you were from. It was genuinely thought that if you lived in the area long enough, you too would have the same types of features and skin pigments.  Maybe it had to do with your skin tanning if you were out in the sun?

Those who traveled abroad and kept journals seldom, if ever, mentioned the color of the skin, unless it was pertinent to the story at hand, such as using something such as white markings on the skin to mark where the opponent was going to cut.  Marco Polo mentioned skin color or other defining features only 10 times in his writings, and all had to do not with the color, but with defining a particular action or to clarify why something was done (like the white markings on dark skin) so it made sense to the reader.

Race was an Odd Concept Back Then

Race actually encompassed not color, but religion and even the station in one’s life. For example, nobles were considered another race entirely from  serfs and even freemen, Christians were considered a different race from Pagans, and clans were considered different races from each other.  In one of my posts, I talk about the “differences” between the Aesir, Vanir, and Jotunn.  In our modern way of thinking, they come from the same “race” or same stock — the Jotunn actually intermarry with the gods and beget other gods.  What makes the Aesir and Jotunn different races is their clans, kindreds, and beliefs.

Rig in Great-grandfather's Cottage In the Rígsþula, a story where Heimdall sleeps with three women from three different houses and begets Þræll, Karl, and Jarl, we see that even though these are all children of Heimdall, they are considered very distinct and different.  They aren’t just separate classes, but actual separate “races” that should never mingle, even though technically they could have children, should they do.

People Traveled (Surprise!)

People had feet (now, there’s a surprise) and they actually journeyed to other lands, even in the Viking Age. Sure, there were people who stayed stuck at home, (serfs and slaves, for example), but the Middle Ages was a happening time.  People went on pilgrimages.  Traders who sought a livelihood by bringing goods from the East certainly traveled. Many spices people used didn’t grow where they lived — someone had to travel to get the goods and bring them back.  (As an aside, did you know spices were considered so valuable that people locked them up?)

We know that people from Africa, both Christian and Muslim, traveled in Europe. Coins from Africa turned up in Europe and yes, even England.  I’ve seen a Viking cache with a Buddha statue in it.  People encountered other races all the time.  If you’ve read the tragedy of Othello, you know that he is a “Moor,” that is, black.  You don’t get racial overtones from that play and even though Shakespeare lived in the 16th century, which was more the Renaissance than the Middle Ages, you can already see that having a black person as a tragic hero wasn’t a far stretch for people.

You’re Not of the Body!

Philpot, Glyn Warren; Richard I Leaving England for the Crusades, 1189; Parliamentary Art Collection People didn’t really care about color.  Instead, they cared about who you were allied with and what your religion was.  Consider the Crusades.  It wasn’t against people of Arabic descent.  It was against the Muslims taking Jerusalem.  Now, granted when Crusaders went on the Crusade, they would consider sacking just about any city that looked different, but that is more unfamiliarity and the desire to earn wealth.  (Many Crusaders were willing to overlook the moral implications of sacking another Christian city, if it meant gold.)

We know that slave trade existed, but Christians generally didn’t own Christians; they owned Pagans, Jews, and Muslims.  Muslims generally didn’t own Muslims; they owned Christians, Jews, or people of other beliefs.  The Vikings had a huge slavery economy (because someone had to tend the farms while they were off raiding) and the slaves were (surprise!) Christian and Muslim.  I won’t say that there weren’t exceptions (there were), but those were the rules (more like guidelines, actually) and if you were of a particular belief, you generally didn’t own someone of that same belief.

People also cared about where you came from and who you were allied with.  As countries started to solidify, you had people being more nationalistic, like the English considering themselves one country. There were still “others” in the country: Pagans, Jews, Muslims, heretics, and other beliefs. Those were different and were considered “less than” those who were Christian. (Note: it was not race, but religion that separated them.  You could easily move from those “others” to Christian if you swore by the beliefs and weren’t labeled a heretic.)

Vikings made this concept very clear when it came to raiding.  Other people hated them not because they were blond and fair-skinned (and not all were), but because they were pagan, raided the heck out of them, and held different allegiances. What ended the Viking era was that they found lands and became assimilated into the cultures they conquered.

What’s the Point?

The point is that yes, our ancestors were prejudiced, but they divided the world into those who held their beliefs and those who didn’t, those who were in their class and those who weren’t, and those who were in a particular kindred, clan, or followed a certain leader, and those who didn’t.  Note that there really wasn’t a distinction when it came to color or “race.”  Race to them was something that distinguished them from the “other.”  But the “other” had to do with beliefs and not physical characteristics.