Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Dialogue on Tribal Contradictions



Blogger Morning Angel said...

Your message is spot-on, Mr. Ranter, but I must say the format is more than a little creepy. :)

Will you provide the transcripts?

5:43 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Sure. Here :

The involvement of Vikings in the slave trade deeply disturbs me.

Well, it ought to! Slavery is barbaric.

Vikings were hustling thousands of slaves in Russia alone! How do we reconcile this with the beauty of our ancestors' spiritual systems?

Well, obviously we can't. Every society has its contradictions. Successful culture is the gradual resolution of those contradictions in increasingly rich and satisfying ways.

It sounds like you're suggesting we can't take the ancestors' social systems at face value or perfect models.

Hell, no! We're talking about Iron Age folk here! Those weren't exactly the best of times! Just about every European tribal folk lamented the advent of the Iron Age, and the terrible wars, strife, and social disorder they brought.

Hey! I thought that the Vikings were a warrior society!

That phrase gets bandied about far too carelessly. It's a static way of looking at culture, and Oh-din wants us to take a dynamic vision of life.

How do you figure?

The word whoah-d means fury, madness, inspiration. It's a concept of turbulence, of dynamism. Whoah-din is the master of this process. We have evolutionary potentials in us that our ancestors had just begun to tap into.

You mean we're here to finish the job?

Well, I don't know that we'll ever finish it, but we're here to dream it onwards and pass the results of whatever progress we've been able to achieve onwards.

And warrior culture?

Oh, in the face of adversity, our ancestors were tough warriors, there is no doubt about that! As the Iron Age progressed, they saw evil surrounding them everywhere, so the idea that strong protectors were needed became an assumed matter of course. But it is in the confrontation with the Roman Empire that this essentially tribal approach to warfare became an almost full-scaled militarism. Unfortunately, most of our documents come after Northern societies had been strongly changed by this militarism.

Doesn't Tacitus depict the Germanic peoples as warlike?

Oh, indeed. There's no doubt they were. But remember that Tacitus would be getting his information from soldiers along the Rhine, and perhaps a few merchants. There was a whole other side of life that is only hinted at --- yet those hints are vital to a reconstruction of the fullness of their lives. These weren't just warriors. They had an alive, vital culture that they were defending.

Which apparently included slaves.

Yes, a contradiction that plagued many cultures at this level of development. When war produces prisoners of war, what do you do with them? Unfortunately, the Geneva conventions hadn't been established back then. So there were two basic approaches : you make the prisoners of war into workers, or you kill them.


Yah, I know. Definitely not a perfect system by any means. And it wouldn't have been so bad had this remained single-generation. Where it really gets heinous and awful is that thralldom became intergenerational.

How could a people who loved freedom so much tolerate slavery in their midst?

Well, let's not try to justify it. Let's just call it a contradiction, and realize that it is our privilege to be able to resolve this contradiction with our increasing development of wisdom.

Are you saying we're superior to those who lived in the past?

In some ways, yes, in some ways, no. Obviously we are trying to reconnect with tribal ancestors to regain a deep spirituality that has been lost. At the same time, that spirituality was grounded in the gifts that Oh-din, Loh-thur, and Hener gave to human beings, gifts of will, imagination, and spirit it is our job to constantly develop.

Hmmm. This still bothers me.

Let it. Working a tradition is about tackling knots and wrestling with contradictions. It is that kind of struggle which over time produces true insight and growth. Often times it is the things we object to in a tradition, that we come back to again and again to argue with, that bring us the most light. Let's keep talking about this. It's worthwhile dialogue.


12:54 PM  

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