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Walking a Razor’s Edge: Folkish Beliefs

Walking a Razor’s Edge: Folkish Beliefs

A fan of mine and supposedly long time reader took umbrage on my statements about folkish beliefs in Heathenry.  Never mind that I’ve been stating what I have been stating as long as I’ve had this blog, which puts me in direct opposition of folkish beliefs.  Why?  Because scientifically, archaeologically, anthropologically, and historically, none of the folkish beliefs have any basis in fact. Unless you count the past 100 years as a reason to be folkish, i.e. Nazi beliefs, there is no record of exclusion from Heathenry.

Anyway, the fan deleted our conversation, left in a huff, and unliked my page (There!  That showed me!), giving me plenty to think about why folkish beliefs are a bad idea.  So, without further ado, let’s get talking about what folkism is, why it’s racist, and ultimately in league with white supremacists.

What Folkish Beliefs Are

Let’s talk about the root of folkish beliefs.  People who believe in folkish beliefs hold that Heathenry is only for those who are of Northern European descent.  That our gods can only be worshiped by those whose ancestors lived in the Northern European lands.  That our gods do not call to those who are not from those lands.

In other words, they do not believe in a multicultural religion.  They believe that people should worship the gods of their ancestors, whichever those are.

Now, let’s talk about the fallacy of their arguments.

First, Some Evolutionary Facts

Let’s look at the human race, that is Homo sapiens.  Our race came out of Africa at least 200,000 years ago, according to scientists, although latest findings suggest that our species came from there before that.  I don’t want to quibble over time frame.  The point is that we all came from a small group of humans.  Those who eventually made their way up north eventually became Norse.

It’s not like humans beamed in there. It took a fair amount of time, walking, and generations of living in one place for a while before pushing on.  We know that many of them were most likely black (even though there isn’t a specific gene for being black) due to the genetic material that we have found.  Our species is black in Africa to provide some protection against the sun’s rays.  As humans moved up north, our skin lightened to adjust to the lack of sunlight so that our bodies could make Vitamin D.

Genetics also shows that humans, as a species, nearly went extinct at least twice.  We’re inbred apes, pure and simple, because of bullshit patriarchy and polygamy as well as sticking with kindreds.  Yeah, I get that kindreds were needed back then to survive, but our genetic diversity as a species is sorely lacking because of it.

Racism as We Know it Today Was Nonexistent

Racism–that is, judging people on their physical appearance and skin color–was virtually nonexistent in Viking and Early Medieval times.  People were judged according to their belief system and their allegiances, not their skin color.  We know this because Marco Polo seldom mentioned skin color unless it added something to the story.  Race was considered as religion.  You were considered a different “race” if you were Heathen, Jewish, Christian, or some other religion.  That gave people the excuse for barbaric acts (like they seldom needed an excuse?).

Not All Vikings Were White

We know that there was at least one “black” Viking, and yes, there are people who have Mongolian genetics in Iceland from him. We know that our Viking ancestors explored, traded, raided, raped, and pillaged all the way south to Africa, east well into Asia, north to Greenland, and west to North America.  They found wives and husbands among indigenous folk and settled in those lands.

Some of our northern ancestors added the gods and religions to our pagan practices.  Some fully adopted the other religions.  We have Viking hoards with Buddha statues and other religious objects.

Heathen Religion in the Grand Scheme of Things

Now, given the facts I’ve presented (and if you have the doubts as to the veracity of my statements, I back them up in the links provided above), Heathens were pretty willing to take in others who swore allegiance to their leaders and their gods.  It made a kindred stronger.

Our northern ancestors practiced a religion that came from an offshoot of a Proto Indo-European religion.  That evolved from a much earlier Nostratic pantheon. The further back we go, the fewer religions we have.  The fact that there are so many similarities in the Indo-European religions suggests that the ideas and gods came from a central source going back tens of thousands of years.

So, Let’s Talk Folkish

So, how does folkishness fit here?  If you say it doesn’t, you get a star.  Our northern ancestors didn’t differentiate where you came from.  What they did care about was your religion and your loyalties.  What was your kindred and whether you were a friend or foe.  Given the overall dissemination of Nordic genes, we can assume that everyone had ancestors that lived in the overall Viking sphere of influence, including African tribes and Mongols.  Even if this weren’t so, if someone who joined up with the Vikings, raided with them, and worshiped their gods, you can bet they would’ve had status in a kindred.

Segregation or Apartheid, Anyone?

If you take a chapter from history, what the folkish people are doing is the “separate but equal” bullshit that we saw in the United States in the form of segregation.  Or the South African Apartheid.  They’re saying, “Our religion is for white Europeans, but you have your own traditions.  Go do those.”  They  shut out people just because of the random chance that they were born with different colored skin.

You are on the Razor’s Edge with this if You’re Folkish

Folkish people, you may not be Nazis, but you are so on a razor’s edge with this.  What you are doing is racism, pure and simple.  If a black person hears the call of Thor, shouldn’t he or she be allowed to practice Heathenry?  If the answer is “no, because of their ethnicity” then yes, I am calling you a bigot.  Why can’t a black person be a Heathen?  Don’t give me that’s not their religion — they should stick to African religions.  That is complete and utter bullshit.  Separate is NOT equal.  We know this from history.  People fought hard to end segregation, and you’re dragging Heathenry down with your bigoted beliefs.

Furthermore, separate but equal is bullshit because we’re all the same race.  We’re the same people with minor genetic variations.  We are Homo sapiens, people. Most of us have a small amount of Neanderthal and Denisovian genes in our DNA, making us not even pure Homo sapiens but a mutt of different races.  Hel, that makes Neanderthals more enlightened than you.

Okay, I’ve railed enough on this.  If you’re folkish, I hope I’ve enlightened you why you’re racist even if you think you’re not.  If you are looking at anyone’s ethnicity and determining whether someone can do something based on it or not, you are a fucking racist.  Period.

 

Why Tribalism Could Doom the Human Race

Why Tribalism Could Doom the Human Race

I found an interesting article that shows that tribalism and war is not a healthy thing for the male population — and not in the way you think. So, being the Rational Heathen, I’m going to discuss the future of our race, that is Homo sapiens, and how our ancestors may have fucked things up to the point where if we continue this behavior, it could end our species.

Y-Chromosomes and Male Definitions

Now, before anyone gets their panties in a wad, for the sake of simplicity, I’m using the word “male” to describe someone with a Y-chromosome.  Likewise, I’m using the term “female” for those who have two X-chromosomes.  I’m not going to try to use the politically correct words because, quite frankly, I don’t know what the flavor of the week is. Furthermore, it avoids confusion for those who haven’t followed along.  This isn’t saying that the transgendered folks aren’t important, but for the sake of the conversation, I am talking about is heterogeneous pairings that produce offspring.  Savvy?  So, let’s talk tribalism.

Some Basic Biology (for those who fell asleep in Biology 101)

For those who don’t know or didn’t pay attention to sex ed, males have a pair of Y and X-chromosomes which confer their sex.  Females have a pair of X-chromosomes.  When a male produces sperm, his sperm contains half his chromosomes including either an X or a Y chromosome.  (I’m not going into the extra chromosomes which sometimes occur.)  The female’s ovaries produce eggs, each with half the chromosomes, and one X-chromosome. (Again, I’m talking the basic set up here.)

So, if an egg gets fertilized, it only has one copy of the Y-chromosome to work with. With females, the offspring will have an X-chromosome from the father and one from the mother.  If the offspring is male and has children, any male will have the same Y-chromosome that his father and his grandfather had.  Females, on the other hand, have a bigger chance at diversity as the X-chromosomes can get shuffled up with each generation.

Tribalism and the Y-Chromosome Bottleneck

About 7000 years ago, human diversity took a huge drop, especially along male lines.  Called the Y-chromosome bottleneck, it appeared as though there were one human male for every 17 human females.  We know this through our own DNA and DNA from ancestors; bones. Scientists have been trying to explain why there was, and still is, so little Y-chromosome diversity, even though males and females are roughly equal in number.  Scientists think there were several factors, of which tribalism and clan hierarchy had almost everything to do with it.

Why Tribalism Caused a Major Problem

In the past when humans were going from hunter/gatherers to farmers, they settled into tribes.  Most tribes and clans were patrilineal, meaning that they were organized along the male lineage. That meant that those males and their male offspring who had the most resources (wealth, power, etc) got the females.  Some of those clans believed in polygamy; fashioning their sex lives like the barnyard animals they kept.  So every clan that had powerful males got to reproduce.  The male offspring stuck around because they inherited the wealth and power (as well as their father’s Y-chromosome).

Wars between clans further took out males who were looking to defend their clan and tribal wealth.  Those males who were of lower station often didn’t mate and their genetic code was not passed on. Furthermore, because clans were often isolated, we see a fair amount of close breeding, if not inbreeding, involved.  We know that the early Homo sapiens farmers and Neanderthals were inbred, unlike the hunter-gatherers who actually developed a network for finding mates from other tribes whom they interacted with. Once humans settled down to farming, there were less beneficial interactions and more warfare.  So, the clans became inbred because of this huge tribalistic attitude.

First, the Inbreeding Part

Before I get into the Y-Chromosome Bottleneck, I’m going to discuss inbreeding.  Let’s look at what inbreeding does.  Inbreeding concentrates all the genes available in a certain line.  That’s all the good genes, and all the bad genes.  The problem is that everyone has a few to several bad recessive genes lurking around in their DNA, but they aren’t activated unless they’re matched up with a like gene. By inbreeding, someone has a bigger chance (25 percent) of manifesting the disease lurking in recessive genes.  What’s more, without diversity, the immune system isn’t as strong as it should be.  With lack of diversity, the immune system doesn’t have the ability to fight against as many diseases as someone who has a more diverse set of DNA.  Basically, you run into more difficulty having less genetic variation.

Why the Y-Chromosome Bottleneck is a Huge Problem

So, we know inbreeding is bad, but what about the Y-Chromosome Bottleneck? What we see is a concentration of a small number of Y-chromosome genes.  This lack of diversity is already an issue, given the fact that the Y-chromosome is shrinking already.  Shrinking?  Yes.  Some scientists have theorized that in time, the Y-chromosome will disappear, although others dispute this allegation.  This, along with our lack of genetic diversity in our ancestors, could cause us more problems if we insist on going back to the tribal ways of living.  We could effectively wipe out most of the Y-chromosomes that provide what little male diversity is left. And we could open up our male population to diseases that could wipe them out because they don’t have the diversity to survive such a disease.  We’d be looking at a real problem — and possibly extinction.

Tribalism is Okay, but within Limits

It’s okay to have loyalty to a set group of individuals such as family.  But tribalistic behavior isn’t always the best.  Tribalism as the “us versus them” mentality, isn’t always useful. While you may look at your family as your tribe, the tribe of the ancient Heathens was far bigger than just the nuclear family. They had cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, parents, and those who were related to those who married into the family.  There were also slaves and maybe a group of men and women who took oaths.  But there were a fair number who were related, either by blood or marriage.

People back then were forced to enter tribes to ensure their safety and survival, but it grossly limited reproduction.  It wasn’t the best thing for humanity because we lost a lot of genetic variation that we could’ve used.  This is why reconstructing some of the behaviors of the past aren’t always a good idea.

The other issue with tribalism is how people use it nowadays to exclude the “other.”  That is, exclude those who aren’t like themselves, whether it’s based on color, political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, or appearance.  Yes, I get that humanity has done this since its very beginning, and we’re probably not going to end it any time soon, but seriously.  For a bunch of supposedly enlightened primates, we really end up falling back on some of our worst traits.  Which is why I wonder if we’re going to survive 10,000 years, let alone another hundred thousand years.

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.