Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heathenism is Not Anti-Christianity ; Anti-Christianity is Not Heathenism!

Insta-Heathenism for the Shallow : Identify every quality you believe constitutes Christianity, and then Subtract it from your practice. Identify Love, Mercy, Decency, Brotherhood, Frith with Christianity --- after all, no tradition on the planet ever cherished these values before Christianity came around --- and then Eliminate those qualities from your practice.

Now, take all of your unexamined Resentment in life, all of that unlivedness within you that lacks identification and rages inchoately, and utilize this as your key to decipher the Eddas, making sure that any time you notice anything seeming even slightly "Christian" in your eyes, that you edit that out as an obvious "Christian interpolation".

I sincerely hope that my sarcasm is dripping enough, because it will take something acidic to get through the thick heads of numbskulls who have come to heathenism because they need to hate, and want a tradition that will affirm their resentment in life.

Go straight to the trolls, where you belong. If your introduction to heathenism is adolescent rage channeled through screeching guitars and heavy metal lyrics of destruction and violence, you have been sorely misled. That is troll-music. It's summoned up jotunn-fury within you, and now you think you can come in and hijack a heritage. Go home to your troll-folk.

A real heathen isn't motivated by rage generated from resentment. A true heathen passionately pursues her life so that all of her powers are released and woven into the world with artistry and impeccability. Seeking and reaching fulfillment, the heathen grasps everything that is good, and from there, knows what to defend.

Those who are motivated by wanting to destroy what others have are caught up in envy. This is not a desirable quality in the Northern Tradition. Those who take glee in strife, and whose blood-lust comes to the fore when they see or hear of people fighting show their wolf-ears. And the more noise you make, the more the rest of us know to stay as far away from you as possible.

If you haven't grasped the good, you have no idea what you are fighting for, and you are a menace. Stop glorifying in destruction and get your act together. Turn down the amp, put your sword down, and figure out what is generating so much resentment in your life, and begin pursuing your passion with all that lust you were misdirecting into hatred and rage.

You may have some anger at the way your family or community turned Christianity into a form of mind control, sex negativity, and repudiation of the natural, and that is understandable. But it is highly unlikely, unless you have been the victim of some very specific abuse, that any Christians have ever come and burned down "your" villages and "your" people, and even if you know for certain from deep genealogical study that some Christians in the past did such things to your own ancestors, it is still a simple fact that Christians living in the present have never done these things to you. But yes, granted, there is a historical wergild that still must be paid for crimes all over the planet, but guess what? There's nary a tradition on the planet that is innocent of some kind of abuse. We heal and move on.

A deep study of animal behavior demonstrates that qualities such as love, kindness, mercy, and mutualism are deeply woven into our animal matrices, and are an inextricable part of the fabric of our natures. It is true that there are other impulses entangled in there as well, such as aggression and lust. But one thing is certain : the heathen path is the path of finding wholeness. We have to find a way of bringing all of our nature together in such a way that we may grasp as much good as possible. It is an alchemical challenge to blend all of these diverse and conflictual impulses together into a harmonious whole, and it's a never-settled question which every moment of dynamic reality calls us out to answer.

There are healthy ways of expressing anger, there are healthy ways of expressing lust, there are healthy ways of manifesting selfishness, and one of the great gifts the Gods give us are lessons in how to channel these mighty powers into whole ways of being that do not sunder us from the most loving and benevolent sides of ourselves.

If you identify love and benevolence with Christianity, and then attempt to eliminate these as values from your religious and life practice, and then dress this in Eddic clothing, you have not achieved a practice of heathenry. You have become a mean and grim person putting on costumes and dreaming up fantasies of hate ; or, nauseous with the emptiness of this pretense, you vainly reach for reality by attempting to transform the resentment-bred fantasy into reality by actually promoting or enacting violence and destruction. This is not heathenism.

"But I -- But I wanted to get away from Christianity!" Why? Why did you want to get away from Christianity? Did you think that this was all going to be a cake-walk, an easy path into an ancient way where you would have to do no self-examination? Do you think that this path exists simply to satisfy your needs to separate from Christianity? Have you mistakenly come to believe that heathenism constitutes some form of Norse satanism where evil gets affirmed by grim thought-forms dressed in the bad drag of the Gods?

Don't come in and try to turn this into some kind of anti-Christian practice. It's a non-Christian practice, a pre-Christian practice, which means that in its wholeness it includes all kinds of values that Christians have championed, and we're not so shallow and knee-jerk that we will cast out all that is good simply because it has something in common with another tradition that you hate! Work through your resentment and come back into sanity.

Look yourself squarely in the mirror. Do some work. Ask yourself whether your behaviors and your fantasies are more troll-like, or deserving of Holy Gods. And not to be harsh, but if you are that resentful about life, there is a good chance that it has to do with personal cowardice on your part, cowardice that has nothing to do with picking up a gun or picking up a sword, but fighting the real battles in your life, which are always the scariest, and most often have little to nothing to do with violence at all, but simply standing up for yourself and living your truth.

Live your truth. In all its wholeness. With all of its goodness. If you are unwhole, don't seek out violence : heal yourself! Don't turn your ancestors into caricatures because your life lacks excitement and you need the compensation of hyper-masculine Conan the Barbarian fantasies. Sure, many of our ancestors fought wars! Were all of them worthy? Hell, no! Were all of them wise? Hell, no! Were some of them necessary? Unfortunately, yes! And there, they fought valiantly. But you work from unwholeness when you begin with the hole in your life, and try to wrap your ancestors around that hole. Heal the hole and become whole first!

We are not Antichrists. In fact, we can help Christianity to deeply heal, if it will listen to the wholeness and naturalness we have to offer, because Christianity, as a Pharisaic Zoroastrian heresy, is in fact a cousin-faith, refracted through various nations, Platonisms, and so forth, but has become shrill and lost the groundedness a tribal religion can offer. We bring back the earth, we offer Mary her stolen sexuality, we remove the hysteria from demon-hunting and restore things to the grounded place of resisting everyday giants. We marry the Old and New Testaments so that law and love are restored to frith, and we reinvigorate the mythic vision that sees through the literal and puts poetic inspiration as foremost in the powers and priorities of our souls. These are gifts we offer to Christians who would take it. And if they will not, it is no skin off our back, because we have plenty of good to share amongst ourselves.

Where we get fierce is where someone tries to threaten or impede that good. But guess what? Christianity's rejects are not our responsibility, either, so if you come as an outlaw from those territories, we advise you to either get your act together and become a whole person capable of contributing good to the heathen community, or to go back to your Christianity and heal what you need to, but don't smuggle in your resentments here and rob our poetry in the image of the unwholeness fostered within you by a foreign tradition.

We've got good here. We know how to share it with those who are worthy, and we know how to defend it from those who are trollish, and we've got the strong arm of Thor protecting our laughter, and warding our hoe-downs from those who would try to steal it away in the night. We've got so much love, and we've got so much wisdom to impart, but we don't give it away to nidings, no matter what label you slap on yourself, no matter what poems you try to wrap yourself in, no matter how much you snarl your teeth. Wolves are welcome to join the barrens ; in here, we've got strong love many Christians might envy.


Blogger Brainwise said...

I loved this post. I'm sure that comes as no surprise to you (you do recall my interfaith work, right?). Would that more people would realize that spirituality does not exist in a vacuum. Everything -- even that which you would choose to reject -- has affected you on your path.

I find this post to be so strong and complete as a work unto itself that I am almost reluctant to point out specific gems. But it needs to be done, so here are a few of my favorite bits:

--> the emphasis *on* "non-Chrisitian" and "pre-Christian" as opposed to "anti-Christian".

--> the gifts and healing that Heathens can offer to Christianity. This is precisely why Heathens should be involved in Interfaith dialog. We can heal them, and in so doing, many of us will heal our own wounds from Christianity.

Again, I must say: Well done, my friend.

7:04 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

I agree with you! Although not "all religions are one", nevertheless, the function of religious is to knit a diverse community together, and the wise converse with the wise, exchanging proverbs and riddles. Only literalists need do battle, for those capable of mythic thought can see through dressings and penetrate to mystic necessity, and from there, differences can be discussed in a way that is mutually illuminating. A strong tradition is ecumenical because it is confident of itself and its own.

Just because the apple is not the orange does not mean that the apple is an "anti-orange". It doesn't mean it doesn't share some of its tartness, sweetness, having grown from a tree, being full of seeds, etc. It would be absurd if those who hated oranges said, "We must get rid of all sweetness, tartness, and seeds from apples, which were only put there by oranges! And we must make apples grow on bushes not trees because that is an orange thing!" Expressed in this way, it's patently absurd. We can appreciate the flavors of both, and we may have our own preference.

Christianity made a very bold experiment, that very few really want to acknowledge, but I think it is bold and full of unique daring and originality. It attempted to bring people of different tribal backgrounds together in its long crypto-Zoroastrian arms, and for that, it ought to be admired (rather than reviled). But the problem is that with that risk it endangered people's connections to their roots. Every folk had an "Old Testament" of their own before Christianity came around, but instead it became replaced with the Jewish Old Testament. That was a mistake. Because of this, Christianity has lost a lot of the rootedness that a tribal tradition brings, that rounds out shriller and more fundamentalist readings, and restores things to earthiness. We can offer that.

Thank you for your praise ; it is well-appreciated. As is obvious, I often walk the edge, and I try to dare myself as I write, not knowing at times whether strong words will shake people too much, or whether they will find resonance. Keep coming back!

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is fab.

I would say, though, that not all Christianities - and there are many - and not all congregations within specific denominations are "shrill". It's possible to be shrill about any belief system, but it's impossible to be shrill if, as you say, you're doing the genuine work of healing up and living your awareness of the divine.

There is a growing number of Pagan Quakers, which I believe stems from the Religious Society of Friends' concentration on spiritual process as a non-credal religion - orthopraxis trumps orthodoxy.

1:32 AM  

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