Anti-Miscegenation is a Betrayal of Freya
Anti-miscegenation is a betrayal of Frey and Freya, Gods of Love and Nuptials. We all know that love as a natural force does not observe national or cultural boundaries, but travels widely. Gylfaginning 35 : Freyja á mörg nöfn, en sú er sök til þess, at hon gaf sér ýmis heiti, er hon fór með ókunnum þjóðum at leita Óðs, "Freyja has many names, which is due to the fact that she gave herself diverse names when she fared amongst unknown peoples to search for Odr."
Love searched for the Poetic Soul that could embrace her and be her husband amongst ókunnum þjóðum, "unknown tribes, nations, and peoples", and in the process she was called by various names. This is a statement of the first order of symbolic significance. Gylfaginning 24 : Hon er nákvæmust mönnum til á at heita, "She is attentive and favourable to those people who call upon her."
When Freya brings Ottr (Odr) to Hyndla to have his genealogy reckoned, Hyndla names Humans, Elves, Vanir, Aesir, and Giants as his kin, while in Skirnismal 18, he says that he is neither of the Alfar nor the Aesir nor the Vanir, because as can be seen from Hyndla's genealogy, he is all of these and therefore belongs exclusively to none of them. The poetic soul partakes of all races. Freya marries the most hybridized mutt of them all!
Of Freyr (in his heiti of Fricco), Adam of Bremen says, pacem voluptatemque largiens mortalibus, "peace and pleasure he lavishly gives to mortals", ie. all humans, and that sacrifice is offered to him si nuptiae celebrandae sunt, "if they are celebrating a wedding". It would be apropo here to remember that Freyr's most celebrated myth in the Poetic Edda involves not just a bridewinning, but a bridewinning for him of a foreign maiden of another race living in a far-away place amongst his own people's enemies! Love crosses boundaries, whether those boundaries be geographic, nationalistic, or military.
"Natural dispersal has been frequent, long-distance, and beneficial (Axelrod 1959; Clark 1988; Clark et al. 1989; Crow et al. 1988; Darlington 1957; Darwin 1948; Davis 1983; Davis 1988; Elias 1994; Elliott-Fisk 1988; Gleason & Cronquist 1964; Kuc 1995; Menard 1974; Munz & Keck 1959; Neill 1969; Orban 1995; Paus 1995; Peglar et al. 1989; Simpson 1942; Thornton 1971). Dispersal is essential to maintaining biodiversity, and has been a powerful driving force of evolution." (Theodoropoulos, D. 2003. Invasion of the aliens! Science or pseudoscience? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta, Boston, June 2003)
"Natural dispersal", meaning crosspollination across boundaries and spread of seed into new territories, has been "frequent", "long-distance", and "beneficial". As harbingers of fertility, pollination is a central concern of Frey and Freya, and here we learn that pollination frequently crosses boundaries and is good for biodiversity.
The Ingwaz rune graphically represents the process of hybridization and crosspollination and has been compared to the DNA helix :
The crisscrossing of different lineages in allogamy ("marriage of different strains") is visualized in this rune, precisely as we find in the genealogy of Ottar. Furthermore, this kind of weaving is alluded to in the frequent epithet of women as freoðu-webbe, "frith-weavers", who by marrying into other lineages, sometimes of folk considered hostile, began to weave them into kinship and therefore the peace and love guaranteed to kin. A full kindred is, of course, already fully woven into each other, and it takes time to weave kinship into a frayed fabric, or even two cloths without any seam at all, but the point to underline here is the vision of marriage as a way of weaving frith and kinship between two different tribes.
Attitudes of anti-miscegenation, therefore, interfere with the vital function of marriage in the first place, which besides bringing joy to the couple, is to weave different tribes and clans together, most especially, of course, when they have children, who will therefore have dual heritage, and must find their own ways of honoring these traditions. Assisting them in this worth-giving is Saga, who weaves together the stories of the forebears, and how their deeds brought them together.
Of course, the beautiful thing about Saga is that her sweep goes well beyond kinship, and is community-wide, speaking to how each community's deeds get woven together into a fabric consisting of those smaller webs of kinship in their interactions and conflicts with each other.
Now if the soul of a folk is found in its poetry and lore, as the great Volk-philosopher Johann Herder declared, then that leads to a complex, dynamic, and dialectical conception of the folk as a process that grows through folkloric activity. In other words, that soul is not static, but ever growing, contending, and transforming through its own folkloric processes, as it ever discovers anew its own songs and rhythms.
The process of saga we have just discussed describes these folkloric activities and processes, and begins with "saga", "saying". Let us clarify this further. Whenever people meet up, regardless of their difference in backgrounds, they try to find a way to talk with each other. In talking, they share their stories. As people share stories with each other, their conception of the world changes and expands, and thus, even the way they tell their own story transforms, because it now takes place within a larger context.
We thus see that through the very process of sharing and speaking, something dynamic enters into the folk process. It has been observed in many situations that when different peoples begin to dialogue, one result of this is what is known as "syncretism", which is a blending of different beliefs. This can happen more consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or simply as a result of coming through a transformative encounter. It can result in an amalgamation, or merely a new set of allusions and references which enrich one's world.
From an Odinic standpoint of dialectic dynamism, a clash occurs whereby one gains from the conflict. Struggle ensues, and one is called upon to be loyal to one's tradition not through taking a static stance, but by not abandoning the tradition and instead daring to see it with new eyes that have been given by the encounter itself. When played with skill and poetic power, the encounter with the strange renews the old ways.
This is why it is Odr who is always out wandering on strange ways, because we are certainly not meant to abandon our own tradition for the wholesale adoption of foreign ways, but rather, to reach down into the very forges of our imagination to rediscover the source of our own tales and song at their very root, and from there to spin out new shoots and sprigs of quickened life that flourish the forest of folklore, the learning of the people as they grow and learn and interact.
As time goes on, the forest of allusions grows thicker and thicker, and one can indeed get lost in the forest, but this is simply the enriching of the loric ecosystem which thrives on poetic diversity. We always have to begin from where we are. This is something that even Herder emphasized : we cannot live another age. It is our own age which we have to live. It is our own age which delivers to us our folk, and that is found in our own concrete experience.
The folk, therefore, is not some idealized, never-changing essence to which one must conform. The folk are our people, found in the process of our own life as we live the forces that flow through us, forces which connect us to others. We discover our folk through the wyrd that weaves us. They are the people we love, the people we meet, the people with whom we share stories, the people whose worlds and concerns intersect and interact with ours, and become part of our field of reference in ripples and ripples of allusiveness.
No one can dispute, at least from within a Teutonic context, that a folk is defined by its frith. In other words, we are those who have been brought together by love. It is love which binds us and keeps us. This of course takes place on the literal level of kinship, as it is through biological processes of love that children are woven into kindreds, but friendship is equally emphasized in the lore, and one might add, interestingly, that in Havamal, Odin actually emphasizes friendship far more often than kinship. This is not because he takes friendship as more important than kinship, but rather that kinship was the background taken for granted against which he wanted to emphasize friendship. And his discussions of friendship take place within the context of visiting customs amongst those who travel widely. Odin's tale is not one of isolation and paranoid protection of one's tradition, which betrays a mindset of anxiety and fear, but rather great confidence and courage, which goes out into the world with gusto seeking love and friendship. In this process, one takes proper precautions as a matter of course in the dangerous wide, wide world, but Odin never betrays any anxiousness about losing his own essence through the vast seeking of encounters.
Freya is the one who teaches us who our folk are. Her place is called Folkvang, the "meadow of the folk". She teaches a people who they are through the connections she inspires. It's A Small World is a beautiful ride, a vision of celebration of diversity and the plurality of cultures, but ultimately, it is a museum, and life is dynamic spirit in action that finds its essence through its transformations, not through hiding away and lashing out with paranoia against "infection" or "pollution" from foreign streams of tradition. The boldness of our forefathers said rather, we can swallow up those foreign streams of tradition, drink them like mead, get intoxicated, and in that state of expanded awareness, compose poems which will still speak the heart of who we are. Because who we are is constantly growing and expanding. Yes, that growth must take place within the complex balances of natural law or orlog, but nevertheless, the Viking Age was not the same as the Pre-Viking Age, which was not the same as the Bronze Age, and so forth. It's A Small World never shows us what happens at the boundaries between cultures. It doesn't show us the goatherd in leiderhosen falling in love with the African arrayed in leopardskin, which we know happens all the time in our modern world, not because our modern world is "decadent", but because there is free travel and liberty, and liberty always expands the domain of love. The folk-cultures in It's A Small World are quarantined, imprisoned in a glass menagerie where they are condemned to always play out the same movements and repeat the same gestures and words. They are animatronic robots. Our Gods don't want us to be animatronic robots.
I am enriched by having Rastafarian friends, Blackfoot friends, Yoruba friends, intelligent and loving Christian friends, Atheist friends, Wiccan friends, Jewish friends. I am enriched by having family and lovers from all corners of the globe. This is my heritage ; these are my folk! We share. We share metaphors and struggles and reach deep understandings beneath the surface symbols, understandings that tap the actual flows of life themselves, flows which bubble up and enrich the symbols, creating creative crises that call for new visionings and revisionings.
I don't live in It's A Small World ; I live in America! America, that rich, bold, flawed experiment, that wondrous influx of peoples and ways, whose folk-soul is sung by Whitman and Sandburg, whose breasts are large and capable of breathing in many and multiple songs, and breathe out the broad, rich textures of American folklore ever entangling and rustling. My folk are not the folk of frightened worms burying themselves into the soil to protect themselves from the hordes of the Other, who tremble shaking songs of isolation and preservation, but daring braves who run out to meet the hordes in ecstatic, tribal self-recognition! I do not identify with the foolish whitebread heimsk who never venture out and who obviously need to leave their inbred ghettos of insecurity. I do not live in those catacombs, I do not consort with those troglodytes, they are not my folk!
I enjoy dialogue with different traditions! I do not want to burn down churches. I want to visit the meadhalls of a thousand traditions, call upon their hospitality, share our stories, make them uncomfortable with my truth and be discomforted by their truth, unto the seething dynamo of wod which brings me inspiration and makes my poetry richer! I do not wish to meet them with the sword, but with the pen, with the tongue! And do not banish the erotic undertones of that last reference, for we will sing songs of love together too! I am not tied to some museum-piece, my tradition is not a prison which locksteps me into premade metaphors. All of those are surface forms which speak to a certain pathway of formation. The tradition is not the forms ; the tradition is the formation-process! Grasp the deeper and generate the former!
No one, no one, is going to tell me who I may love and who I may not. No one is going to tell me how I ought to grow through the encounter of love. That is between me and Freya, and it is to her divine, immanent strength and wisdom, and not hollow, paranoid nationalisms of the 19th and wicked 20th centuries --- ideologies which have attempted to abscond and encoil the old ways like a serpent, claiming them as their own but without any solid grounding --- that I will defer. Anti-miscegenation is a betrayal of Freya!
all translations copyright 2009 by Siegfried Goodfellow