I’m not one for asking people of religious denominations to apologize for the assholes in their midst. I don’t think Muslims should have to apologizes for terrorists anymore than Christians should have to apologize for the Ku Klux Klan (which at the very least is a hate group and at worst a collective of race-driven domestic terrorists—don’t forget their history of lynching and otherwise behaving in a way to designed to terrorize non-white Americans when they weren’t actively murdering them). While I don’t think that people should have to apologize for the assholes they share their religion with or “take a stand” against said assholes or anything else of that variety, I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t address this recent bullshit that made its debut on Facebook on the twenty-second:
As you can see this image and the accompanying caption were posed to the Asatru Folk Assembly’s Facebook page. While the image itself is a harmless family portrait, it’s not hard to see how 1) problematic and 2) asinine the caption is. Let’s start with the first fuckup in this post:
“The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct…The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen…”
Brushing over the fact that rigid gender norms are closely tied to gender based violence, let’s just skip right to addressing the ways in which this statement is actually counter to the surviving lore and what our gods model.
Anyone even passingly familiar with Norse mythology will recall the myth of Loki shape-shifting into a mare in order to distract Svaðilfari, the stallion helping the disguised giant who was repairing the wall of Asgard. Through this transformation Loki not only saved the Æsir from having to pay the pledged the debt to the giant, which included marrying Freyja off to him, but it got Odin his eight-legged steed Sleipnir. Loki straight up gender-bended in this tale, but it’s not the only story which displays Loki’s gender fluidity. A passage from Voluspa hin Skamma suggests that Loki was in a position to bear children on at least one other occasion.
If you’ve read the Lokasenna you know that Odin also references this. He speaks about it in a way that suggests that to be “unmanly” is a degradation but Loki easily counters by citing Odin’s hypocrisy on the matter:
“They say that with spells | in Samsey once
Like witches with charms didst thou work;
And in witch’s guise | among men didst thou go;
Unmanly thy soul must seem.”
Odin is known to have practiced Seidr, a traditionally feminine magic. He also repeatedly sought the wisdom of women, whether for their magic or their prophecies. In the above passage Loki accuses him of going about either dressed as a woman or shape-shifted into a woman, and, notably, Odin doesn’t contest this. Also notable: this doesn’t undermine Odin’s power in the least. Not one of the gods in that hall ceases to have Odin’s back. Their respect for Him is not in the least dimmed.
Two of the most most notable gods in the Norse pantheon display a total disregard for the so-called line between genders. Each may speak disparagingly about the other’s gender-fluid behaviors, but it doesn’t change the fact that they themselves model gender-fluid behaviors with little to no fuss. This whole gender “is a beautiful gift from the holy powers” bullshit has nothing to do with the gods or their stories.
Thanks AFA, for being a perfect example of attempting to hide your bigotry behind the guise of religious conviction. If people buy into it, all that means is that they are equally as ignorant, bigoted, and lacking in academic accountability as you are. (And judging by the rate at which they’re deleting dissenting comments, it would appear that they can’t handle anything outside of that echo chamber of ignorance and bigotry.)
As if that weren’t enough fuckery, douches also got loud and clear about their racism:
“The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children.”
Wow. Where does one even begin?
Well, let’s start with the fact that while Scandinavia may have been predominantly Caucasian and may still be, it was never absolutely white. The Vikings are known to have engaged in trade with the Middle East and if they didn’t co-mingle their genetics (read: breed with) the people of the Middle East and potentially even bring some people back with them from their trading escapades, it would be a global first. Fun fact: wherever humans have met other groups of humans, they have always fucked and made new little babies with stronger genetics because that’s how genetic diversity works. Of course, it’s not just an assumption to say that the Vikings mated with people they were trading with in the Middle East. There is genetic evidence to support the claim.
Furthermore, there is evidence that the Vikings introduced Native American genetics to the genetic pool in Iceland. Not to mention that the Norse people long before the age of Vikings were neighbors to the Saami, their cultures co-mingling and having a reciprocal influence on each other, trading with one another, and undoubtedly, from time to time, breeding with one another.
There is no such thing as genetic purity. Humans will fuck anything and anyone, which means our genetics are all over the goddamn place. No matter how white someone may look, I guarantee you that somewhere in their genetics there is African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Central American, or Native American DNA. People with Eurasian ancestry share genetics with Neanderthals. None of that even matters, because the human species originated in Africa and dispersed from there, loosing melanin concentration as an adaptation to different environments. This is supported not only by genetic evidence but also by millions of years of the fossil record. If someone wants to argue it they can go right on ahead–the only person they’re making a fool out of is themselves.
But what about spiritually? The pig-headed resistance to diversity doesn’t make sense on that front either, considering that the descriptions of the jötnar represent incredible diversity. But oh wait–these are the same assholes who refuse to acknowledge the blatant Christanization of the surviving lore or the historical and mythological evidence that points to the idiocy of demonizing the jötnar. Trying to make that argument (or, likely, any of these arguments) to the people of the AFA would get us nowhere as they truly are as bad as Evangelical Christians when it comes to denial and confirmation bias.
Let’s end with this: These are the people who have built the reputation around Heathenism and the associated religions to be one of racial and gender violence, of Neo Nazis and hate crimes. They are the ones that make it possible for popular ezines reduce our religion to little more than occultish White Supremacy. These are the people who make so many young pagans called to the Norse gods hesitate in answering that call, just like they made me hesitate in answering that call. We do not want to be inundated with their bigotry and hate or their ignorance and vitriol, and we are tired of letting them give us a bad name.
Let us not quietly look the other way. Let us honor our gods and our spiritual paths by raising our voices against this colossal bullshit and letting it be known that hatred, bigotry, and violent ignorance have no place in our communities. Let us not limit our expression of outrage and grief only to the prayers which only our gods will hear. Let our voices ring loud and clear and unequivocal: these people can continue to preach their vitriol as is their right, but wherever and whenever they do they will be met with our dissent, and they will know that this white supremacist bullshit will no longer go unmarked. #notinmypaganism