“Folkish” heathenry, “folkways”, “folksoul”: Racist bullshit.
For those of you (most, I’d imagine) who aren’t familiar with Ásatrú, allow me to summarize. There’s two basic types of these people:
1. “You must have Northern European ancestry to practice heathenry.”
Blatantly white supremacist. For the record, this is ahistorical garbage that actual Scandinavian heathens in Scandinavia – who have more claim to the religion than Americans do if ~genetic purity~ means a damn thing – reject and find absurd. The Vikings would not have understood a word that modern folkish heathens are saying, even they said it in Old Norse! They had no concept of race or genetic superiority. And that’s not because they never encountered anyone else. They were great travelers and merchants who made it as far as modern-day Iran and North Africa, and even if they stayed closer to home, GUESS WHAT, there were POC in medieval Europe. Yet none of the historical sources we base our religion on say anything about it being about white people, about white people being superior, about white people needing to form white-only groups, about the Gods not speaking to POC, et cetera. On the other hand, there is evidence of them including non-Scandinavians and allowing them to participate in religious rites! Not to mention, I guarantee you there are Black folks in Scandinavia who are more Scandinavian than I am. Do folkish American kindreds request a 23andme genetic report as a requirement for entry? Nah, of course not.
But you know what else? It’s bullshit because religion is cultural. It has nothing to do with genes. Anyone is capable of learning the tenets and practices. Especially with a religion like this where there are many variations and no central authority or proscribed dogma of any kind. And the implication that these assholes closing it off because it’s an indigenous religion of their ethnic group, and therefore it’s no different than Native Americans doing the same? Does not fly when y’all are practicing your “indigenous religion” on the site of continuing genocide & oppression of its own indigenous people. Even in Scandinavia, this can’t be justified in the context of ongoing racism.
Yes, my Norwegian ancestry is what got me interested in Åsatro. I was raised culturally Norwegian-American – which I would’ve been even if I’d been adopted & had not a drop of Norse blood – and read about the old ways long before I realized it was something I could seriously practice. That’s a common and obvious path to this faith, but why does it preclude all other possible paths that might lead someone to it? Why should I think the religion is about my being Norwegian? It’s about Óðinn and Freyja and Heimdallr. It’s about honoring the vættir of the land and your home. It’s about honoring your ancestors. Nothing says your ancestors had to be Vikings. They could’ve never seen a flake of snow or a fjord or a herring in their lives and I guarantee they are 100% worthy of it.
2. “You don’t have to have Northern European ancestry, but you really should look into your own ancestral faith, you will get more out of that than this so I really don’t understand why you’re here.”
The exact same shit as #1 couched in language that’s dog-whistley and hostile while being just enough less on the nose compared to #1 that it flies under most white heathens’ radars. When people get worked up and insist that folkish isn’t a synonym for racist this is what they’ll pull out, and they’ll flip their entire shit if you contradict them.
Anyone at all can be heathen, the end. Anything else and yes, your heathenry is racist.
The Nine Noble Virtues, the Hammer Rite, sign of the hammer, obsessing over the Hávamál: Appropriation of other religions.
We need our own practices and traditions. We have our own practices and traditions! There is no need to invent a “Heathen Ten Commandments”, much less to do such a bad job of it as the Nine Noble Virtues, much less to use that particular set which were devised by a white supremacist group. There is no need to copy a Wicca practice with no basis in our faith and substitute in Mjölnir. There is no need to do the sign of the cross upside-down and call it the hammer to feel more legitimately religiously like one of the Big ones that people Take Seriously. There is no need to treat the fallible, often non-contemporary historical documents that form the basis of our understanding of Norse religion as Holy Scripture. They are not. Knock it off. In the Viking Age it was all oral tradition anyway that was constantly in flux and varied from region to region or even village to village.
Reproducing popular BS about Valhalla: Sexist ignorant bullshit.
Valhalla is not “Viking heaven”. Vikings were not trying to go there. Ásatrú is not about getting to a good afterlife versus a bad one. Virtually nobody will even go there, and it’s a shitty place anyway. Vikings were not trying to get to Valhalla like it’s heaven. I can’t repeat this enough. I’m so sick of hearing people parrot this nonsense. 99% of people go to Helheim to drink and feast with the 99% of their ancestors who went there. The afterlife is great by default, and you don’t really have any control over it so the thing to do is not worry about it and focus on living this life as best you can.
So why’s this myth sexist? Because it’s based on male shitlords thinking there’s just no way that Freyja could be a war goddess on equal footing with Óðinn because LOL WHAT SHE’S A GIRL OBVIOUSLY SHE’S JUST A PASSIVE PRETTY GODDESS OF LOVE. Bellows even says in the footnotes to his Poetic Edda translation “there is no reason why Freyja should receive half the slain”, which really gets my blood boiling. The truth? First of all, even if you do die in battle, you’ll have to be one of the very best warriors in all of history to be selected by a Valkyrja. Second, not only do Óðinn and Freyja split the chosen slain equally, Freyja gets first pick! So in that incredibly unlikely circumstance you’ve got a 50/50 chance of ending up in Valholl or ending up in Freyja’s field, Folkvángr, in which sits her great hall, Sessrumnir. I almost hope this is all literally true & some “Brosatruar” actually gets chosen but ends up there, so she can humble the shit out of him.
By the way, Freyja is a goddess of sex, female sexuality, and fertility. “Love” is a puritanical, patriarchal sanitization. If you’re looking for a Norse deity actually associated with romantic love and relationships, that would be Sjöfn.