A few words from Austin H., VP
Today I want to talk about something that I hear a lot either directed at me, at TAC or at other individuals and Kindreds and that is – you’re doing it wrong. For this short little essay I will be referring a lot to complaints against TAC and some that come against me from people. Some of these comments come from people who dislike TAC or what it stands for, or do not like the way things are done, some just plain are trolls and others are individuals and groups who have an idea of what they would like Asatru and Heathenry to be and how it should be practiced. Every group will have a different opinions on how “real heathenry” should be and how a person can be a “real heathen” but do not seem to know the basics of what heathenry is nor how the ancestors practiced. I do not claim to be an expert, nor can anyone really be an expert due to lack of evidence left behind by the ancestors and of the evidence left behind, it is either bastardized by Christians or its interpretation is left to the imagination. There are many parts to Asatru, this post will mainly talk about the community, our ancestors and something that, in essence goes against them.
Let’s begin with some things almost every group I come across agrees with. Asatru is about family, kindred, folk, which ever you may call it, and that it is the group that makes it’s decision about how to run the community , when to hold ceremonies, who to appoint as the Gothi , who is in leadership positions and who can join. Leadership positions- While some of these are granted due to the person starting or running a group , other positions of leadership are created and filled due to the community’s needs. A lot of what we do as followers of Asatru is based around the community.
Gothi positions- who can claim them? Who can give a person that title?
This is the same as almost everything else, it is earned through knowledge, hard work and experience that is given to someone by the community or at the least the leadership of that community when they feel they are ready, this can be something like a long educational process where the person must know how to perform the ceremonies that, that community does such as a sacrifice for Yule or a marriage ceremony before the Kindred, community or even family will choose them as such. In the USA it is up to a religious organization to decide who can become part of their clergy , and if a group decides to ordain someone , so be it.
What ways can ceremonies be performed?
This is a really common complaint, one that usually ends with, I don’t like your ceremony, it seems very Christian or it is really barbaric. While in your own opinion it can be one way or the other, it is a group that decides how ceremonies are ran and when. My family personally celebrates Ostra on Easter, why? Because as a family we decided that it was best for our kid, to keep it impartial. Are there some historical data backing to ceremonies? Yes and a lot, usually changed by Christians to make it easy for Heathens to be forced into Christianity, Yule is an example of this. These people who protest the ceremony are typically the ones who are either new to the community, or don’t understand that it was originally Heathen that Christians took and bastardized. Why does this matter? Because to be a true Heathen, to follow as some say the Arch-Heathen ways , it is important to realize that ,while you may not agree with something like the sign of the hammer or an animal sacrifice, if you are not part of that community or group, than disagree but do not try to cause strife.
I’m a Heathen, I do what I want , no one can tell me what to do!
Ya, no. As mentioned above, the community decides the laws and what is/isn’t socially acceptable. So while you may do what you want, it can be met with consequences. In the 7th-11th century this could lead to death. Today’s world it is met with the laws of the country you live in , so for example , in the USA, if you go around yelling hate speech( actual hate speech not just hurting someone’s feelings) , you can be fined or even thrown in jail depending on the circumstance. Saying you’re a Heathen and can do what you want and damn the consequences is giving power to the negativity associated with being Heathen and the very word. The ancestors set up laws, held Things and All-Things to discuss matters of the law at times, to keep the community running and for the betterment of the whole, not just the individual, and if someone went against this, or started to make the communities honor be questioned- they were dealt with appropriately. I don’t like that Kindred or that group of people!
This one is usually met with by trolls or people to be quite double edged. They say they follow the ancestor’s way, sometimes they even set up communities in the hopes of doing so, but soon turn into a group that is dominated by hate and people trying to exclude the parts of Asatru they do not like such as being generous to people ,even if they are on a different path.
I am pretty sure this has already been said, but I’ll repeat it. The community you choose to belong to is who makes up the rules, the times they hold ceremonies, etc. If you don’t like it, don’t join them, go off on your own or go off and make your own community but to sit and attack others who offer you no harm is dishonorable. This is almost as bad as the people I hear that say they are Viking or men are dominant and should rule. Hate to break it to you- you’re not a Viking, their dead, and always will be. Men did not reign high on holy during the Viking era either- women ruled as well, and if you don’t like the idea of it, I suggest you rethink your ideas or religion, even look up the Volva and even the shieldmaiden. Our ancestors tended to work in harmony between the sexes, after all when you’re in the field under the hot sun everyone is equal.
They aren’t really Asatru, they allow people of different heritage to join!
I understand this and I don’t at the same time. I get it that sometimes you want to be around your own kind, I prefer the company of veterans to the company of civilians, it just is how it is, they understand you, they understand the culture , the community. At the same time, separating people on boundries of skin color, is not only dishonorable but it goes against the ancestors. The ancient Norse were a people that traveled far and wide, they were fishers, raiders, warriors, traders and collectors. They brought people back with them, sometimes as slaves and sometimes as companions or spouses. There is even an interesting article about how some Vikings went and were mercs for the Arabians. Not to mention that even in our own creation, humans started off from trees with dark skin that eventually became lighter.
They can’t follow Asatru, they allow Homosexuals and Transgenders!
Loki, as a female horse (mare) had sex with a steed (male horse) and got pregnant (birth of Sleipnir). Need I say more?
I probably do to make this point clear. Homosexuality was not considered dishonorable to the Ancestors, as long as you still filled your duty to the community ie had children, what was considered dishonorable was being used as a female, why? No one knows but we grow as a community and a people, and if a community wants to allow people who are from the LGBQT community, let them. It is up to that community to decide, not an outsider. Not to mention the following examples-Thor dressed up as a female and was almost married to a Jotun. Odin himself practices seidr, and if the All-Father can do it, who are we to try to judge?
I don’t like any organization that sets up as a physical group and says they are a legal religious organization!
This is one comment that stuck with me that I heard when I first started down this path. If you start a kindred, are you not doing such a thing? Only a lot of kindred’s do not become legally recognized so in the eyes of the law. Sure organized religion has led to many dark things and dishonorable deeds, no matter what the religion. But at the same time it has led to great things.
I don’t like this page or that page since they kicked me, so I decided to attack them online. Ya have fun with that. It’s 1. Online, 2. Cowardice and 3. If you got kicked from a group for breaking their laws, well in the eyes of that community you’re an outlaw. Insulting someone from a community, kindred, family etc. “back in the day” could lead to death, if not , than a scorn pole . There is a difference between making a suggestion and insulting someone, and while some may cry and say people are too thin skinned, I must remind them that the ancestors would kill if they were insulted.
They let someone else from a different religion into the group- some people are on different paths, and as long as they are not hurting anyone or the community there is nothing saying it wasn’t allowed. Again our ancestors traveled far and wide and met with many different religions, some changed religion because they wanted to, and some comingled with other religions for trade reasons. Just because someone may be interested in knowing more about your path without following it, does not make them an enemy.
So what does this all mean or even matter for?
It matters because one of the fundamental paths for Asatru is honoring the ancestors, following in their ways. This can be as simple as reading and studying them, to full blown living the way they did. But if we are to honor them, we must remember how they lived, this was as a community that worked together, that celebrated together, mourned together and ultimately were one family. I am not saying love everyone, nor do I think we should have peace all over. I like fighting, fighting for honor. The community is something that every Asatru group I have come across stresses, be that group one that accepts people from all walks of life, or ones who accept only people from certain walks of life. It is that community that runs itself, that sets its laws and way of life. Does this mean every group should be the same? No, there needs to be diversity and different mindsets in order for growth to happen, but only if each group acts with honor instead of attacking or claiming one group is not Asatru because their set of rules do not coincide with yours. I am not saying that one group should accept everyone, being inclusive is a good thing, it allows like minded people to gather to form the community and community is the building block of Asatru. If you don’t like the community you are in, then leave with honor rather than dishonoring yourself and being cast out as an outlaw.
The biggest problem I notice when going through page after page, talking to people and seeing different groups is that the ones who focus more on attacking other groups or people are not Asatru or even closely related to following the core fundamentals of Asatru. They forget about community, forget that each village or group had a different set of laws and ways to practice the religion. While in a general view our ancestors practiced relativity the same, each village had its way of things and each house a way based on the village and to do that is to cast aside real heathenry, cast aside Asatru and to become nothing more than a faddish group looking for attention.