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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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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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