This blog post has been inspired by ongoing conversations with several Heathen friends who have all noticed the same issues infesting our religion and becoming necessary to speak out on and heal. As we dug deep on them, and watched the problems manifest in the same ways within many communities, we all have come to agree that these problems are spored from the same issue – Impiety. I wanted to discuss specifically Heathen Impiety because it is what I’m seeing and effecting me most but I’ve been assured by other Polytheist friends of Celtic, Hellenic, and Kemetic faiths that the issue is widespread.
Years ago, when I began my service to Frigga, I refused to call myself Heathen. I chose the term Northern Tradition Paganism when people asked about my faith, or, depending on who the questioner was, I simply said Pagan or Polytheist (it all came down to how much did I need or want to explain at the time as I’m sure many Polytheists and Witches can relate). I hadn’t met many Heathens I could relate too – most that I had met in person seemed more interested in creatively reenacting Viking fantasies than honoring any Gods or living any particular faith. It wasn’t a lifestyle I wanted to associate with. Little did I know at the time that I was experiencing the very Heathen Impiety I am still appalled by.
It took me a few years to call myself a Heathen. With it came the realization and responsibility of piety as a Heathen. I was disturbed by the amount of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia as well as the pop culture disregard for the Gods and ancestors (both spiritual and blood). When I began to speak up I was called many things besides Heathen – SJW, over-dramatic, sensitive, crazy, and worse. While I knew about the racism and anti-LGBTQ issues Heathenry was dealing with, what shocked me was the number of people that call themselves Heathen that do not believe in the Gods but also disdain those who do. I will never forget entering a Heathen group and, when mentioning a mentor of mine who’s class in Divination I was taking (Galina Krasskova who I am now happy to call friend), was told that anyone who viewed the Gods like she and Raven Kaldera (and me by extension of seeing the Gods in a similar way) did were “crazier than shit house rats.”
Time passed and I’ve seen not only solitary Heathens, online Heathens, and outlier Heathen groups adopt this disdainful words and actions but I’ve seen atheists elevated in groups not only as community leaders but as spiritual leaders! I’ve seen people in my own community state the Gods are not real or are “archetypes” – these people become goði and named volva of kindred. How can a priest give spiritual aid and counsel to a community if he does not believe in the Gods or spirits? Who is the volva consulting with if she does not believe in the Gods or spirits?
It hurt my heart and filled me with rage when I stepped back and looked at all these issues. I went to friends. I went to ancestors. I went to the Gods. “Please guide me in what to do when I face these issues. There are so many.”
The response – these are symptoms. The virus causing this is Impiety.
Some Heathens and Polytheists don’t see this as a problem. They say its not their group so why even comment? Let them do what they do and you do what you do and move on.
For one thing, I was once that baby polytheist who was seeking help. I was getting messages from the Gods and my ancestors and the spirits and needed guidance. I didn’t have a solid foundation regarding the spiritual technology to figure out non corporeal communication nor did I have a lay out for right practice. When I first began looking I was faced with assholes in horned helmets. If it weren’t for the insistence of my Gods and the persistence of my nature, I might not have ever found books and websites and mentors that helped me.
Secondly, what they do does indeed reflect on you. When racists use our symbols of faith – Runes, Valknut, Mjolnir, etc – and appropriate them, it effects us. When supposedly well-meaning anti-hate groups then propose bans on those symbols, OUR symbols, IT EFFECTS US.
I have seen atheist Heathen leaders become the face of our religion at larger community events and its horrifying to me. When the only examples people see of Heathenry are assholes, racists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, and people that use our religion as a LARP (nothing wrong with larping in general btw but certainly a problem when non-believers role play a religion for entertainment) – when they see that and say “All Heathens” or “No Heathens” – It effects us. This is why I bother.
Treating a Virus
I asked many what to do. Answers varied in wording but eventually it came down to one message sent to me on repeat. It took me to my work as a herbalist and healer. This Heathen Impiety is a virus and the racism, misogyny, pop culture BS, etc are symptoms. Heal the virus and the symptoms will dissipate.
How do I treat a virus? Even in allopathic medicine, viruses like the cold are often not treated, only symptoms are dealt with until the body fights the virus off. In herbalism, or at least in my path as an herbalist and healer, we treat the virus by treating the body.
If you think about it – the cold virus is around us all the time. It doesn’t hibernate and then march in during its season. There are reasons an office building will have some people get a cold and the person sitting next to them doesn’t. It comes down to the person – some have healthy, strong immune systems and others do not. How do we create these healthy, strong immune systems?
We nourish. The message I got was nourish the roots. Cut off and cauterize the dead.
We nourish Heathenry with Piety. Bring it back to the basics, create healthy communities with strong foundations that leave no room for the virus of impiety.
This is what I’m doing. What does that mean for you (reader) and this blog? Expect, along with the usual herbalism and homeschooling information, a few blog posts and vlogs about some very basic Heathenry 101. Sharing some foundational topics and practices. Like vitamins, balanced meals, and exercises – repeating our foundational practices create strong, healthy communities. Repeating the basic tenets of Piety helps fend off Heathen Impiety.
What About the Impious?
I was invited to openly denounce those who were actively impious. I thought about it long and hard and discussed the matter with the two people that I call Kindred. In the end we have decided not to. They knew who they are and there are others that we probably don’t know that will feel called out by our words and actions – hello, you are not welcome.
The decision was made because calling them out might detract from the focus – that our words and actions from here forward might be seen as causing drama, as reactive rather than purposeful. This is not our intention but rather to use our anger at the situation as a catalyst not a sole purpose. The Gods, Ancestors, Wights, and Healthy Community are our purpose.
If there is backlash or further issue on the matter, we as a kindred will come back to this decision and may change our minds on it if we feel it would be better for the community.
For more words on this topic of impiety, I recommend reading my blog post – Real Heathens Pray – as well as this blog post on the subject by Galina who’s words are stronger than mine and I’m proud of her for stating them.
Thank you for reading.
Comments are welcome but are also monitored.
May your Gods bless you.