“Odin’s Chosen Wolves of Valhalla” is an Odinist hate group located in Southern Germany. We do not want to mince words when we say THEY ARE NOT ASATRU. Everything they believe is a perversion of the gods and the faith. They dishonor their ancestors and give modern Heathens a bad name.
The paragraph above is fairly common. To be perfectly honest we ourselves are guilty of falling in to that line of logic. It’s not hard understanding why. Humans are simple creatures. We are hard-wired with a gut instinct to have knee-jerk reactions at the slightest sensory input. It is a survival trait that served our ancestors well, however in the 21st century it is a trait that can sometimes lead us to incorrect conclusions.
“Odin’s Chosen Wolves of Valhalla” does not exist, at least not to the extent of my understanding. There are certainly groups in the world that fit the description but we’re addressing a broader concept here. The made-up text also acts as a snippet that will be seen and shared with the fight-or-flight gut reaction. There will be people who only see that text and share this believing they are spreading the word about yet another hate group, but that is not the case. In that way, we can see just how easily this instinct leads us to unknowingly spread false information in the modern age.
This isn’t a personal fault of any one individual but rather a shared trait. With information so readily available at our fingertips it’s all too easy to see the first lines of text in an article and feel that reaction and need to simply click a button to vent your frustration at the perceived idea of the information that article will contain. So, I beg you, if you have a friend who shared this article under that false pretense please do not hold it against them. Instead try to open a dialogue and discuss how easily our hearts trick our minds in to jumping to the wrong assumptions.
It is said that when we react to something our very first initial thought is our conditioning. We see an individual and it is simply in our nature to judge them. This goes back to those survival instincts. Our ancestors couldn’t afford to sit there staring at the shaking bush wondering if it was a tiger or their cousin back there. These reactions are based on instinct as well as information we are given throughout our lifetime. Someone with a visible disease is potentially dangerous, that individual stalking down the street is a potential threat, someone who stumbles over finding the right words to say is soft-minded. These are all snap judgments that it is entirely too easy for us to find ourselves making.
The logic then follows that the second thought we have in reaction to a person or an event defines who we are. On our deepest level, we are simple animals. But it is our ability to overcome these instincts that defines us. It’s not always easy but overcoming these impulses is integral to society. It is this ability that I ask you to exercise as I move on to the main point of this article. It’s a difficult pill to swallow but it is an important theological and philosophical exercise.
When we see Heathens behaving in a disgusting and/or dishonorable way we want to distance ourselves from them. We want to proclaim to the world that they do not represent us and we are not associated with them. However, this is known as the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Defined by Wikipedia, “No true Scotsman” is a kind of informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample.
For example, we could say “Heathens are not racist!” to which the counterpoint could be made “But those Heathens are.” And often the reaction to the counter example of our statement would be “Well they’re not REAL heathens!” This is the knee-jerk reaction that we have and again it is natural to wish to distance yourself from people exhibiting undesirable behavior.
But, perhaps unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that they ARE Heathens. They ARE Asatru. We share the bond to them through our gods the same way we are all connected in our humanity. Humans are a broad and diverse species which means that, by default, with a large sample size such as the general classification of Heathens there will always be outliers. This is true for all groups, not just Heathens. Almost by definition, every group will have members that the majority of the group do not like and do not wish to associate with.
This is a multi-faceted issue. From our perspective as members of the group in question we have to remember that the outliers may believe just as strongly or even more so that they belong in the group with us. From the outside, it is important to remember that the outliers do not represent the whole. No matter how unpleasant, noisy, or even violent they may be.
It is hard for us to admit but every human has the right to believe in any gods (or lack thereof) they wish. It is important to remember that behind the vitriol and negativity that can be displayed there is still a human being. A human being who you likely do not know with life experiences you can’t imagine. Our paths twist and turn throughout our lives to bring us to where we are and sometimes the negative and hateful people we interact with are in a bad place they may or may not escape eventually.
That isn’t to say you have to like them. You don’t even have to interact with them. But those people have domain over their own lives and are free to claim any god you can claim. It may make us feel good to denounce them and say, “they’re not a part of my group” but that doesn’t change the fact that they still identify as a member of the group. It is up to us to show compassion to these individuals. As I’ve stated many times it won’t be easy, but doing the right thing hardly ever is. We need to learn to refrain from reacting on our impulses and react with our heads.
In the end, you are only accountable for your own actions. Set a good example and some will follow. Be the counterexample to those who would paint us in a negative light and let THEM fall in to the logical fallacies of claiming that WE are not Asatruar. We know our gods and the deeds of others cannot take them from us. Remember the sentiment of the final line of Declaration 127.
“[They] are free to stand for whatever principles [they] see fit.
They are free to stand alone.”