Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Do So Many Heathens Want to Be Normal?

It's a curious and important question. One hears so much buzz about not wanting to seem like "wingnuts" or "fringe" elements, of wanting to be taken "seriously", of embarrassment at being associated with anyone who seems too weird, of needing approval from the masses, a mass crying out of "We're normal! We're normal! Just like you!"

I just find this bizarre. This reaching for normality seems to me quite bizarre and abnormal. After all, the driving cosmic force in this religion is called Wyrd, and it ain't called that for nothing.

Yes, we are earthy, yes, many of us are good, wholesome, even hard-working folks. But nothing discludes being earthy, good, wholesome, hard-working, and weird, and valuing that weirdness. I am suspicious of people who are constantly catering to other people's perceptions rather than having the strength of character to be themselves and follow their wyrd, which is ever anything but normal.

How about telling people, "We're good, we're wholesome, and we're weird." ? That would be a fantastic statement, for a number of reasons. First of all, it breaks with the memes established by Xian culture which separate "good" from "weird". Secondly, it establishes a new meme which is an important concept. Thirdly, it is bold, and boldness is an important heathen value. Fourthly, it has the value of being true, and truth is also a good value.

Those willing to prostitute themselves to public opinion (and we even have charlatans trying to sell us these sheep-values as "honor", when honor is respect given by a community that values integrity and boldness to those who demonstrate it) for the sake of preserving their "normality" would seem to be missing the entire point, and demonstrating a deplorable social cowardice. Perhaps an understandable growth pain in a movement, but it must be confronted with social courage that is not afraid to be what it is, and that models to the larger community that the weird is valuable, and there is much to be learned in it. Why would we deprive our fellows and brethren of such an important insight? Heathenism is not just another option on the religion checklist. It represents a fundamentally different approach, and we oughtn't to be ashamed of that. And it is positively shameful to marginalize those who are socially courageous simply because your social cowardice finds their behavior embarassing as you try to put a good face on the religion to a larger public.

We all know there are bad kinds of weird. That's not the point. The point is that there are good kinds of weird, and this is a message that the larger public desperately needs.

What I would like to know is not why there are "weirdos" in heathenism, but why there is such broad toleration for Puritans. From time to time one hears complaints about not wanting heathenism to be confused with sexual freedom (as if that were a bad thing), orgies (as if anyone is ever forced into an orgy), polyamory, or queer/kinky sexuality.

Such complaints make my jaw drop. Do these supposed "heathens" even study their religion at all? If Asatru is "the religion with homework", as a teacher, I would have to be failing a significant portion of the class! Do these neo-Puritans ever take the time to consider that men, women, and children would come into the most sacred of temples to pay their respects and give their offerings before a statue of Freyr that featured an immense, erect cock? Or that our beloved Vanadis had no shame at taking lovers besides her husband? Or that she lovingly whored herself out to four dwarves to gain a beautiful necklace? Or that several of the gods crossdress? For those who hadn't noticed, that's public indecent exposure, polyamory, prostitution, and transvestism --- if you look at it from non-heathen eyes. Who would have the gall therefore to suggest that our ancestors were puritanical then? Au contraire, heathenism is a profoundly libertarian tradition, and should be proud of it. As long as no one is forcing anyone else to do something they don't want to do, who cares what people are doing? Not only do I think the religion calls for broad tolerance in this respect, but downright celebration of freedom, including sexual freedom!

It is never freedom which is an issue, but responsibility. So long as all parties are being responsible, we ought to applaud, even as we reserve the right to do what we wish in the way we like responsibly as well, with no one setting standards for us besides our own values, our desires, and our devotion to the Gods.

Stop trying to be "respectable", and just start being yourself. And if you find within yourself social cowardice and the neurotic need to feel normal, then do some introspection, and engage in some prayer. Pray to Odin, who is, after all, an odd god if you think about it, whose only food is wine and who shapeshifts into birds and fishes and animals, and ask for the wisdom that reveals how to feel secure in a universe that really is very weird. Have some muscle, and grit, and root to you.

We're heathen. We're good, we're wholesome, and we're weird.


Post a Comment

<< Home