Facebook & Freedom of Speech

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On the one hand fuck the nazis (neo-nazis and associated related groups), there’s a part of me that is satisfied their outlets of communication are being reduced. Truly the way that hateful rhetoric can be disseminated, the way that the impressionable can be influenced by social media is something I don’t think we as a human society has yet to come to terms with, whether against bullies, or having others use the platform to groom them as a victim for a sexual predator or to groom them for cults and extremist groups. It’s something as a society we’re going to have to figure out how to combat.
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Already this policy has taken down the personal account of controversial leader Stephen McNallen of the Asatru Folk Assembly (the screenshot below has been shared via various online outlets: from facebook, to reddit and more).
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For those unfamiliar with McNallen, here’s a good summary on his background over at PoliticalResearch.org :

 

Stephen McNallen, who became interested in Heathenry as a college student in Texas in the late 1960s, formed the Viking Brotherhood circa 1972 with Robert Stine. This group in turn became the first American Ásatrú organization, the Asatru Free Assembly, about four years later. By 1978, McNallen sought to lessen Odinism’s association with Nazism, even though he expressed sympathy for the “‘legitimate frustrations of White men who are concerned for their kind.’” He ultimately shut down the Asatru Free Assembly in 1987 before founding the folkish Asatru Folk Assembly in 1994. (McNallen is most recently responsible for forming the Wotan Network, a White nationalist Odinist group dedicated to spreading White nationalist Heathen memes.)

More recently McNallen tied himself to the events of the march in Charlottesville.

 

Am I personally upset that he has lost his Facebook account, no. I have no desire to have any dealings with him. So Facebook is definitely following through (for now) on their new policy. But policing their entire platform of 2.32 billion users globally across a variety of languages isn’t realistic. We are at an intersection of rights versus the terms of a service. We blame them for fake news, yet at the same time if those people were US citizens on the street with signs and pamphlets that said the same thing, that would be free speech, unless you can prove slander/libel in interactions with them and have the funds and wherewithal to take them to court.

 

Freedom of speech is something that is nuanced, and intricate. And something I believe staunchly in. When someone says things that are vile, it’s appropriate to use your words to counter theirs. Or ignore them. I alway loved the counter protest against a White Supremacy rally, where the counter protests mocked them with WIFE POWER, WHITE FLOUR, and more.

 

History shows when you throttle rights for one group, protections of other groups are worn away too. Yes even in America, look at McCarythism, Japanese Internment Camps (and yes there were forced relocation by German-Americans and Italian Americans, though never to the extreme the Japanese-Americans faced), how African Americans have been treated, or Native Americans, or attacks against those who aren’t the mainstream, including for pagan religions, etc. The Matreum of Cybele (a pagan religious organization) fought their local community council for years about tax status that the state and federal government affirmed as their right as a religious organization, while over a period of 8 years the town of Catskill, New York wasted by some estimates hundreds of thousands of tax payer money trying to deny those rights and foreclose and kick out the group. In another time, another place, for being a woman I could have been denied so many rights, others for their ethnic and cultural heritage.

 

Mark my words, this policy will eventually be used to start discriminating against fringe religions even with people who are staunchly against hateful rhetoric.

 

I could be banned simply for having an avatar that shows me as wearing my Thor’s hammer if someone felt so inclined to interpret the act as being one aligned with hate and white supremacy. Afterall the symbol is listed as a hate symbol by organizations that counsel government and law enforcement like the Anti Defamation League (who at least points out some wear it for non hate reasons) and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

So as much as it might bring you a bit of glee to see cretins of their caliber blocked by the platform (and yes, it really, really does), just remember it’s a slippery slope before others are too. Facebook does not have a good track record in protecting the rights and safety of pagans and polytheists. They forced people to use names other than online pseudonyms which in some areas put the users at risk of being killed, and there was a problem with an anti-pagan hate group for some time as well.  Also it’s real easy for people to be trolled, by other religious groups (Christians, and other groups have long flagged pagan friendly content), or even your co-religionists who just don’t like you.

 

I will always shy away from thought police, and actions that police our thoughts. History shows us how that worked out for the ancient pagans afterall: badly.

 

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🤦‍♀️ Karl, what a pile 💩

Yet again, the Wild Hunt publishes some drivel by Karl Seigfried. Galina does a good job of cutting to the heart of the matter and calling stupid is as stupid does, but there’s a couple of points I wanted to expand upon.

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Egads.

The importance of knowing one’s ancestors is the most basic of things, you must know your roots, your tradition, your origins. And I don’t just mean that by genetic legacy, but by the legacy of the tradition itself. We see there are laws, that if you couldn’t identify the graves of those on the land, you couldn’t inherit the land. There were special rituals for the ancestors. For crying out loud, he wants to gut the religion of one of it’s pillars of praxis. What a fuckin idiot.

Anyone who knows history, knows we have ample evidence that these peoples weren’t a “white race” but a multi-cultural one. The true “VIKINGS” those who went a-viking, were pirates, people would join up and drop out wherever they went. We see trade, and other cultural exchanges. There’s a genetic study that shows a chunk of modern Icelanders are descended from an indigenous north american tribe. In the Bibliotheca Augustana we see a text that speaks of cultural groups joining up with the raiding vikings. The Annals of Ulster show mixed cultural groups across the countryside. An analysis of skeletons at sites linked to Vikings using the latest scientific techniques points to a mix of Scandinavian and non-Scandinavian peoples without clear ethnic distinctions in rank or gender. Studies from genetics, to isotope evidence, point to a culturally diverse group. Archaeological trade goods also show great exchange.

The early Vikings’ success stemmed in their ability to embrace and adapt from a wide range of cultures: Christian Irish, Muslims of the Abbasid Caliphate, and all parts in between. Some great academic books on the subject are James Graham-Campbell’s Viking World and Dubois’ Nordic Religions in the Viking Age.

Basically “Karl” is buying into the “oh so white” theory, and that just shows his own lack of credentials in this subject area.

So since Karl has wrongly appropriated our religion, can we get rid of him? Maybe have an auction and see if some other religion wants to adopt him?

Not to mention, it’s so absurd to allow a fringe to dictate the practices of the mainstream. You never see people saying because of crazies like the Branch Davidians, or The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project (aka Jonestown) that Christianity should redefine it’s entire praxis.

🐍🐉🐍 The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach 🐍🐉🐍

I do not celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, which is a day of holy obligation for Catholics in Ireland (as well as revered by a few other Christian denominations). Why would I, a heathen, celebrate a 5th Century Saint whose mission in life was to turn pagans from their Gods and ancestral ways? If he lived today he’d be trying to convert me away from the Gods of my life as well.

For those with Irish ancestry who take this day to celebrate their ancestry, that is all to the good. But remember there is a difference between a drunken revelry of green beer, and the celebration of a vast rich culture. There is a difference in remembering your ancestors and laying out offerings, telling their stories, and hailing their names versus urinating on the sidewalk because you’re behaving as a drunken fool.

Of course, I’ve always found it ironic that a man who was born in Roman Britain, has become the representative icon for Ireland.

While there are many stories about Saint Patrick, the tale of him driving out the snakes is the most wide known. Of course it’s also clearly historically impossible as snakes haven’t inhabited Ireland since the last Ice Age concluded more than 10,000 years ago, which is before Patrick was even born. It’s a bit ridiculous to think he drove out animals that weren’t even there. But not only did this story appear very late (centuries after his death), there’s also a belief in some corners that the story was allegorical, and the snakes were symbolical representations for the ancient pagans/polytheists.

Continue reading “🐍🐉🐍 The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach 🐍🐉🐍”

Be Specific. Use Their Names.

One of my biggest pet peeves, in the interfaith community and some parts of the pagan community, is this tendency to use vague terms in prayers and offerings: Oh Spirit, Great Lady, Oh Goddess… 🤦‍♂️

Which one?

Be specific. Not only could you inadvertently be giving offerings and prayers to some entity you didn’t intend by being so vague, but it’s simply put an insult. Or did you want your prayer for a good wedding and happy, fruitful marital life to be answered by Sekhmet in bloodlust? Albeit that might explain Game of Thrones’ infamous red wedding… (yes I know the plot reason for that fictional scene, I’m making a point).

Continue reading “Be Specific. Use Their Names.”

🐣 Ostara: The Goddess & The High Holy Tide 🐣

For those of us in the Northern Tradition (which encompasses the peoples with a common worship to Odin), the high holy tide of Ostara is upon us. Some are gearing up to celebrate during the astronomical spring equinox (which varies slightly but always occurs between March 19-21), some may wait for the signs of spring in their local area, and others may postpone their celebrations so that they coincide more with the observed Christian date of Easter instead, which for 2019 occurs on April 21th. The later allows heathen children to be able to participate in more mainstream activities such as egg hunts with their peers at school and at community parks.

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Ostara by Nichol Skaggs (nicholskaggs.com)

Continue reading “🐣 Ostara: The Goddess & The High Holy Tide 🐣”

Remembering Olvir – A Heathen Martyr

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One of the religious staples of the Northern Tradition, is the honor and reverence shown for not only our ancestors, but also for our heroes. All too often when reading some of the grand exploits, battles and wars found in the sagas we associate the word hero to that of being a warrior, but while there are indeed many great heroes who are warriors, sometimes heroes are simply those who stay true to their beliefs.

It is a historical fact that the Christian conversion of the pre-Christian peoples wasn’t always a peaceful affair. Some of the early Norse Kings have an especially bloody reputation when it came to killing the ancient heathens within their lands, and these accounts are preserved in part within the Heimskringla, a collection of various historically oriented sagas about the Norse Kings.

In the annals of history, we know far more about the Christian conquering leaders, than we do the names of the devout heathens that would not submit to conversion. Occasionally, we do have preserved the names of some of those ancient pagan martyrs who were determined to continue to honor their Gods and the traditions of their people. One such account occurs in the 11th Century during the reign of King Olaf II of Norway (canonized as Saint Olaf), and it is at this time of year in particular, as we approach the holy tide of Ostara that I always remember and honor in ritual: Olvir. He was a renowned local leader from a powerful family in the Trondheim area of Norway, and as such it fell to him to represent his people to the King, and to conduct religious rites within his local community.

Continue reading “Remembering Olvir – A Heathen Martyr”

The Holy Tides: Charming of the Plough / Disting / Solmonaþ

For many pagans, this is the time of year where they honor and celebrate Imbolc one of the pagan holidays that comprise the Wheel of the Year. For those of us in the Northern Tradition however, we have our only celebrations known as holy tides (from the Old Norse hátíðir) that we may currently be celebrating instead: Charming of the Plough, Disting, or Solmonaþ (month of mud).

Source: D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths

Continue reading “The Holy Tides: Charming of the Plough / Disting / Solmonaþ”

The Twelve Days of Yule: From Mother’s Night thru Twelfth Night

THE TWELVE DAYS OF YULE

If you’ve ever heard the Christmas Carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” modern heathens opt to celebrate this as the Twelve Days of Yule, with the last day culminating on 12th Night. Since ancient calendars followed a different method of time, the solstice celebrations as well as later ‘Christmassy’ style observances can vary from place to place as to when they occur. Today, most pagans and heathens celebrate the yuletide as running from approximately December 20 – December 31 (but there are variations). For Christians in 567 AD the Council of Tours would officially proclaim that the 12 Days were to be celebrated from Christmas Day through to the Epiphany.

We do know that the celebration of Yule wasn’t always twelve days long. In the Norse text Heimskringla: The Saga of Hakon the Good talks about it once lasting for three days, or as long as the ale lasted. The night it began was known as the slaughter night, where animals would be ritually slain. Ynglingna saga also talks of animal sacrifice. The meat later used to feed the community, as well as the Gods. We know there were practices as well of human sacrifice too during other ritual observances. In one story in Snorri’s Edda is that of the Swedish King being sacrificed to help during years of drought and famine, the scene famously imagined by Swedish painter Carl Larsson in his Midvinter’s Blot.

Continue reading “The Twelve Days of Yule: From Mother’s Night thru Twelfth Night”

Yuletide Origins & Traditions – The Santa Claus Mythos

Just as our pagan cousins celebrate the eight major sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year, for those of us in the Northern Tradition we too have somewhat similar key celebrations that we call holy tides (from the Old Norsehátíðir). Some of these celebrations are more significant and special than others, and these especially important holy-days are known as high holy tides: such as Ostara, Winter Nights, and Yule which is now upon us.

Continue reading “Yuletide Origins & Traditions – The Santa Claus Mythos”