Farewell, Hank

A dear friend, Henry Edgar DeBose, died this morning in a car accident while driving to work. I’ve known him for a few years now, having met through a shared hobby.

He was 32. He had three kids; the youngest turned 4 not even two weeks ago. He and his wife celebrated their tenth anniversary a few months ago.

I’ll miss you, Hank.

Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic

I first heard about Claude Lecouteux’s Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic through Joseph Bloch’s review of it. I’ve purchased several of Lecouteux’s books before and always enjoyed them, though I often feel that his writing could use some reorganisation and better citation of primary and secondary sources.

One part of Bloch’s review especially caught my attention:

Where Lecouteux’s book distinguishes itself from those titles is both in its lack of focus on the Norse material and the Viking era (although it does not distance itself from either), as well as its inclusion of tons of folkloric references, rather than sticking to the same old themes found in Norse and/or Germanic mythology. And that in particular is where this work shines, since this is a focus that all too few such works, let alone Asatruar who endeavor to recreate the Germanic mindset, have.

That certainly tickles me in all the right ways, so I ordered the book forthwith.

I’m not impressed, I must admit. This is in my eyes the weakest of Lecouteux’s books that are in my possession. My very first issue is that Norse and Germanic are treated as separate categories, rather than the former being a subset of the latter. That’s been a pet peeve of mine for years now.

The handling of language is lacklustre. The book hops between languages often and inconsistently. Headwords are often in Old Norse, but are also in Anglicised Old Norse, Modern English, the occasional Old English, and German, even when the topic may be better served with a different language. For example, there’s no headword for Ēastre, which is attested well enough in Old English (and obviously later) as a word in itself, but there is one for Ostara, which is made up entirely of English sources.

Many things, such as epithets, are haphazardly translated. Some are dumped into the paragraph without translation, some are presented in English without the original, and some are correctly given in both the original and translation. It’s a bit frustrating.

The book is guilty of very poor citation. A fair number of entries is given a note underneath for further reading, often French or German tertiary sources, but this doesn’t help much. There isn’t a single footnote in the entire book. There is only the rarest of inline citations; this is often reserved for texts that come well after conversion occurred. More commonly known names, such as those from the Eddas, seem to be entirely uncited.

There are several times that non-Germanic topics are brought up without reason, such as Baltic deities. I am quite uncertain why this happens.

On far too many occasions assumptions are presented as facts, such as on page 224 regarding Phol:

A link has been sought between him and Volla with the idea that there could be a pair of gods, the masculine Phol/Fol and the feminine Folla/Volla, which would thus correspond to Freyr/Freyja.

Two sentences in particular ruined the book for me, both in regards to Óðinn. The very first thing said of him on page 213:

The principal deity of the Norse and Germanic pantheon is a cruel and spiteful god, a cynical and misogynistic double-dealer whom the Romans equated as being similar to Mercury.

I was so angry with that description that I put the book down for several minutes. It’s so painfully inaccurate, an issue that is seemingly only done to Óðinn.

On page 215 he writes:

Odin is omniscient[.]

This seems to be some misunderstanding of Hliðskjálf, which may mean something akin to “observation point, guard tower”, upon which Óðinn may see the entire world. Oddly, though, this very seat is mentioned only two paragraphs earlier and is accurately, if succinctly, described.

If there is one thing that this book does right, it’s the folkloric figures that are rarely mentioned anywhere. This is a delight in itself, but these are better handled in Lecouteux’s other books with greater detail.

I do not feel that this is a worthwhile book for the most part, especially if you own the author’s other works. If you’re just looking for an encyclopedia, I would recommend Rudolf Simek’s Dictionary of Northern Mythology. It contains most of the same content, but with excellent citation and more information.

Modern Gods

An interesting question was asked on reddit recently that is right up my alley (archive). Sadly, my several month absence from the Internet left me nearly two weeks late to the party, so I’ll discuss it here instead.

Linguistic question for ASH heathens from asatru

All in all, the thread was pretty barren, I’m sad to say, but some did help. Wodgar and /u/CorporateHeathen were the stars.

As always in linguistics, a reconstructed, projected, or outright incorrect form is marked by an asterisk. Chevrons are also used in their standard form; “<” denotes that the lead word descends from the following word, while “>” denotes that the lead word becomes the following word.

In all cases of two modern pronunciations, the first is General American and the second is Received Pronunciation.

Tīw /tiːw/ > *Tew or *Tue /t(j)uː/

The name is fairly simple and predictable. For the same sound shift, consider hīw > hue and nīwe > new. CorporateHeathen did a fine job of pointing this out:

The two spellings are purely orthographic differences, as shown in the IPA. The biggest difference will be seen across the Atlantic: /j/ would be in England, while the sound would generally be lacking in the US.

Wōden /ˈwoːden/ > *Wooden /ˈwʊdən/

Old English <ō> /oː/ split into a few sounds on its march to Modern English. On its own it often became <oo> /uː/, but its environment could cause /ɔ(ː)/ (before <r>), /ʌ/ (occasionally before /ð/, /d/, and /v/), and /ʊ/ (often before /ð/, /d/, /t/, and /k/).

Due to this, /ˈwʊdən/ is the likeliest result, but also possibly /ˈwʌdən/. Assuming the former over the latter, the word is a homonym to wooden “made of wood”.

The issue of Wednesday does pose an interesting question. Had Wōden been the base form, we would have *Wodnesday instead, just as Old English had Wōdnesdæg /ˈwoːdnesdæj/. Wednesday is the result of Old English *Wēden, which would share a root with Old Frisian Wēda and Old Norse Óðinn in the form of Proto-Germanic *Wōdinaz, as opposed to Wōden‘s antecedent of Proto-Germanic *Wōdanaz.

Accepting this otherwise unattested variant, we would have *Weeden /ˈwidən/. This is despite the fact that Wednesday is pronounced with an /ɛ/, but this is a result of two consonants following <e>. This environment always caused <e> to become /ɛ/ later and would not be applicable to the base form.

UPDATE: Thoraborinn takes issue with the above two paragraphs.

Ing /iŋg/ > *Ing /ɪŋ/

Nothing especially changes here. /i/ becomes /ɪ/ in most environments. /ŋg/ always becomes /ŋ/ due to NG-coalescence.

Þunor /ˈθunor/ > Thunder /ˈθʌn.dɚ/ or /ˈθʌn.də/

The noun did not die out and is thus fully known without ambiguity. The intrusive /d/ appeared between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries and is otherwise not predictable.

Frīg /friːj/ > *Frie or *Fry /fɹaɪ/

This one is interesting:

  • Popularly the goddess’s name is written as *Frīge, but this is incorrect. There is no nominative ending for feminine strong nouns with a long syllable (which is either a long vowel or a short vowel followed by two consonants). If this word had a short syllable, it would be Frigu, which is actually attested, but never in this context to my knowledge.
  • Frīge is, however, the genitive form, which is firmly attested in Frīgedæg “Friday”.
  • There aren’t too many words ending in –īg that survive into Modern English, especially once you discount the adjective ending –ig /ij/ “-y” /i/.

Old English <ī> /i:/ very often became Modern English /aɪ/, except when two consonants or /m/ followed, plus some other odds and ends.

/j/ entirely disappeared in this environment. Modern English doesn’t especially like /j/ coming after a vowel at the end of the word.

Spelling is really the issue here. Despite the spelling of Friday, ending a word in <i> just doesn’t happen, nor is <i> often pronounced /aɪ/ on its own. This immediately removes *Fri as an option. In keeping with patterns in orthography and the handful of words with similar sounds, though, *Frie or perhaps even *Fry would be the likeliest outcome.

Eorþe /ˈeorθe/ > Earth /ɝθ/ or /ɜːθ/

The noun did not die out and is thus fully known without ambiguity.

Folde /ˈfolde/ > Fold /foʊld/ or /fəʊld/

All word-final vowels that are not a part of the root syllable were dropped after Old English.

The word survives dialectally and thus has a known modern form regardless.

Sunne /ˈsunːe/ > Sun /sʌn/

The noun did not die out and is thus fully known without ambiguity.

Mōna /ˈmoːnɑ/ > Moon /muːn/

The noun did not die out and is thus fully known without ambiguity.

Ēastre /ˈæːɑstre/ > Easter /ˈi.stɚ/ or /ˈiː.stə/

The noun did not die out and is thus fully known without ambiguity.

Wēland /ˈweːlɑnd/ > Weeland /ˈwilənd/

Despite how predictable this form is, it has instead survived as Wayland /ˈweɪlənd/.

Seaxnēat /ˈsæɑksnæːɑt/ > *Saxneat /ˈsæks.nɛt/

<ea> /æɑ/ typically became <a> /æ/, while <ēat> /æːɑt/ often became /ɛt/ (as opposed to /iː/ when there is no /t/).

Seax did also survive into Modern English as sax. Nēat died out, but was borrowed back into Modern English in its full form as geneat for historical purposes.

Bēow /beːow/ > Bew /buː/

<ēo> /eːo/ occasionally became /uː/, seemingly much more often before /w/.

Frēa /fræːɑ/ > *Frea /fɹiː/

Though often combined with Ing in emulation of the Norse form, there is no direct attestation that this was ever used as a theonym in Old English. It does, however, have a curious usage in Beowulf when Hroþgar is called frēan Ingwine “lord of the Ingwins”.1Beowulf, line 1319. If this usage implies any religious meaning, it is now lost on us. The word is included only for the sake of argument.

<ēa> /æːɑ/ very often became /iː/, usually written as <ea>.

Frēo /freːo/ > *Free /fɹiː/

It is sometimes believed that Freyja existed among the Anglo-Saxons as well, but there is no evidence of this. Personally I believe that the split between what would later be known as Frigg and Freyja had no occurred in the southern tribes at all. The word is included only for the sake of argument, though on even shakier ground than Frēa above.

Without any other conditional changes due to environment, <ēo> /eːo/ very often became /iː/, usually written as <ee>.

The Problem with Frēa and Frēo

Other than not being attested as theonyms, there’s one overarching issue: they would have become homophones, if not also possibly homographs. Had they survived into more modern times at all, the meanings would have probably collapsed together into some general “noble” definition. That alone might have killed the words later anyway.

Truthfully, though, the words were already limited largely to poetry, especially Frēa. The words were probably moribund regardless.

Conclusion

Language is fun! It’s always a delight to see what might have happened in a different word. Amusement aside, it’s not a bad idea to use these reconstructed forms instead. The language changed and that would not have skipped theonyms.

This being said, things are not always predictable, as seen in a few examples above. No one could have predicted Þunor becoming Thunder. This could be equally true for any number of other names. Religion is by its very nature conservative, which may lead to some names being severely delayed for some sound changes, if included at all.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Beowulf, line 1319.

Apologies

I must apologise to everyone who has accessed this site through a mobile device recently. My domains were compromised and had their .htaccess files edited to redirect them to Russian porn sites. As I rarely check my domains through a mobile device, I was entirely unaware that there was an issue until this past Thursday. I’ve been spending quite some time trying to fix the issue, but each attempt has been wrecked in turn by the same issue reappearing.

For whatever reason, the fixes thus far are somehow causing the domains not to load CSS files on mobile devices. Everything is still useable, but it’s frustrating.

While I’ve Been Gone

The last few months have been a blur. Truthfully I’m stunned that it’s June and not April anymore. I can’t really tell you what I’ve been doing for the most part, but, whatever it was, I’ve been horribly distracted. I haven’t really been reading my books, doing rituals, attending the Anglo-Saxon Heathen meetup in New Hampshire, reading the Heathen groups on reddit and Facebook, or doing much of anything. It’s a pity.

I can at least say that I have enjoyed Stellaris a great deal. It was oddly nice to be among the earliest people to get some of the hardest achievements in that game. It’s a rare thing that I can earn any at all, but that game really does excite me.

I don’t really have much to offer, but below are some links to things that have been recently posted that I enjoyed. It’s hardly inclusive of the odds and ends that I’ve read over the last few months, though.

Stevie Miller’s “You Should Read Bad Books“:

Do you think Wudan would ever ignore a book because it was “bad”? Do you think He would ever pass by an area of potential knowledge because it was unpopular, or willingly leave any stone unturned where information might exist?

Wodgar’s “What I do“:

When I first discovered Heathenry, I really wanted to snoop around and see what others did, as far as home practice. What I quickly realised is, hearth-cult is exceedingly personal and the minutiae of one’s practice is not transferable from home to home, person to person. Sure, some basic fundamentals are there, but every man’s family is different, their experiences are different and how they approach their dead is inevitably different.

Marc’s “On the Importance of Ritual: Or, Why Taking Communion IS a Big Deal“:

There seems to be an all too familiar seems to be one that is all too familiar to individuals partaking in a religious ceremony in what is actually a religiously mixed marriage:

Being forced to suffer through a Christian ceremony for the sake of familial peace. Or, being forced to suffer through distinct Christian ritual for the sake of familial peace.

I hope to be doing some posts of my own again soon. I have several drafts that are months, if not years, old at this point and a few new ideas that need to be hashed out.

Sacred Order

The practices of observing the phases of the moon and the direction of the wind, and orienting the construction in accordance with the cardinal points, all reveal that building was a religious act with consequence. This is a fact that can be confirmed by a number of instructions and taboos. In Russia, the master builder had to purify himself before setting to work. Francis Conte indicates that he fasted, washed, put on a clean shirt, and prayed. The cycle of time: the seasons, feast days, months, and days, also had to be taken into account. “In Siberia, the Russian peasants waited for the new moon and the beginning of spring,” notes Francis Conte. “They strive to have this work coincide with a major religious festival,” in other words, to situate it within what Mircea Eliade calls the Sacred Time, the mythic time. Constructing amounts to sanctifying a space by giving it order, forming a closed and clearly demarcated world, tracing a boundary between the self and the rest of the world.

Eliade, who studied everything that relates to this sphere with great perspicacity, realized that every construction is a creation, a beginning, the reiteration of a mythical act, a cosmogony, and therefore requires precise rites so that it confirms to the archetype. The house is a new center of the world and possesses a religious value. Is it any coincidence that the ancient name for a dwelling in the Germanic languages (hof) can mean “farm,” “house,” and “sanctuary,” and that the keystone is still called “Heaven’s Gate” (Janua Coeli)? […] Russian traditions also tell us that the house is a microcosm: in the izba, the corner where the icons are kept is the dawn, the ceiling represents the celestial vault, and the large center beam represents the Milky Way.

The house is also a center in the sense that it is a principle of unification of men and goods, and simultaneously of building and family, as Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie notes. It is therefore hardly surprising to come across gestures of consecration, namely with the help of a hammer or ax that is thrown over the roof of the house. In Christianized countries, a priest would bless the house. In Namur, Belgium, the first stone was sprinkled with holy water using a bough of boxwood that had been blessed.

Invested with sacredness by rites and by the presence of a spirit, the building should not be destroyed, no matter what, under pain of punishment.

— Claude Lecouteux, The Tradition of Household Spirits (pp. 26–27), on the religious value of construction

The importance of the act of construction in relation to the cycle of time—specifically the use of the new moon to a Russian peasant—is echoed in canon 53 of the Corrector by Burchard of Worms in approximately 1012 (emphasis mine):

Have you observed pagan customs which, as if by hereditary right and with the devil’s aid, fathers pass on to their sons even in these times: for instance, have you worshipped the elements, that is, the moon or sun, or the course of the stars, the new moon, or the waning moon whose light you hope to restore by your noise making or aid? Have you used those elements to try to bring you help or to help others, or have you consulted the new moon before building something or getting married? If you have, you should do penance for two years on the appointed fast days, for it is written: ‘Whatever do you in word or deed, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Additionally, consider Anders Andrén’s reconstruction of the early Gotlandic solar cycle wherein Týr ensured cosmic order.

Regarding “gestures of consecration” with a hammar or an ax, also consider the association of hallowing with Þórr’s hammer.1Þrymskviða 30 Multiple runestones ask Þórr to hallow them or, more frequently, simply depict a hammer.2Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology (2007) pg. 219

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Þrymskviða 30
2. Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology (2007) pg. 219

A Supposed Fascist

I am a fascist.

Or at least I am according to the rag Gods & Radicals in Rhyd Wildermuth’s “Confronting the New Right” (archive) and “The Uncomfortable Mirror” (archive) and again in Shane Burley’s “Rainbow Heathenry: Is a Left-Wing, Multicultural Asatru Possible?” (archive).

When this nonsense started, I was stunned. I’m accustomed to fools saying dumb things; it’s the Internet, after all. This, however, was on a new level. The first thing to catch my eye was how poorly these people understand what fascism is. To them it’s just anything that is seemingly contrary to their own beliefs. This is not unlike how socialism is an evil thing in the US, as it is supposedly contrary to the American way of life. It’s clear that Rhyd did not mean to refer to a totalitarian government with tight controls on the economy and collectivist ideals being placed over individual rights.

No, it’s really just about how anything that vaguely smacks of traditionalism is bad because having roots at all is somehow bad to Marxists. What a wonderful world these people see around them.

The initial article is focused on the Alt Right (named the New Right throughout) and professes to out them for their fascist beliefs. These supposedly are:

  • A belief in the decay of society.
  • Being pro-European.
  • A return to sacred traditions that have been otherwise disrupted.
  • Protection of one’s land and thus nation.
  • Defending against external threats in the form of a common enemy.

I must say that these don’t seem too bad. All polytheists want a return to our ancestor’s sacred traditions. Protecting one’s land and nation should never be taboo, but apparently it is now. And it’s true that it’s usually a thoughtcrime to be pro-European, but, hey, it’s okay for everyone else to approve of their own people, so let’s do away with the double standards for once. All in all, though, none of this is remotely fascist. Darn.

Let’s not stop there. Rhyd goes on to list which things are subsequently prone to this evil, evil Alt Right:

Before continuing, it is important to note that the presence of New Right ideas in any Pagan or Magical Tradition does not mean the tradition itself is part of the New Right. Often times the adoption of these ideas is unconscious, particularly since many advocates of New Right ideology do not present their ideas as part of a political stance. In fact, many ideas are presented as overtly ‘apolitical,’ deriving from common sense, tradition, lore, or the will of the gods.

  • Dianic and Goddess Spirituality: Most adherents of Dianic Witchcraft and goddess spirituality are fiercely feminist and egalitarian.  There is some danger of potential crossover with the New Right through ‘essentialist’ ideas of gender—and the ‘sacred’ right of people to exclude transpeople from their circles.’

  • Druidry: While groups such as the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids are fiercely egalitarian, smaller groups (including the ADF and AoDA) sometimes have overlaps with Traditionalist and Tribalist thought, particularly in ADF’s focus on Indo-European ‘hearth cultures.’  Also, the ideas of Oswald Spengler (a favorite amongst many New Right theorists) have gained popularity through some “Long Descent” druids.

  • Reconstructionism: One of the more significant places where the New Right intersects with Pagan beliefs. Emphasis on returning to ‘reconstructed’ traditions, older (and poorly understood) social forms and hierarchical structures, as well as an emphasis on recovering European heritage are often problematic. Further, nationalistic and racial exclusionist tendencies are often justified as being part of ‘the lore.’

  • Devotional Polytheism: Similar to the problems in Reconstructionism, but with an extra dimension. Because some Devotional Polytheists place final authority in ‘the gods’ and emphasise hierarchical relationships (between human and god, priest and devotee), ethical questions cannot be challenged by concerned people because ‘the gods will it.’

  • Heathenism, Asatru, and ‘Northern Traditions’: while generally considered the most problematic, Heathenism is one of the few large Pagan traditions which also has a vibrant opposition against New Right ideology. Also, because of the constant media attention white nationalists within Heathenism garner, non-racist Heathens can draw on greater support from the communities around them.

  • Occult/Witch/High Magic Traditions: Because of their emphasis on obscurantism and secret mysteries, it is often difficult to discern the political leanings of leaders within occult traditions. Here, ‘association’ tends to be much more useful. Mentions of Evola or other ‘esoteric fascists’ should be considered warning signs.

My, my, how broad! I especially love how reconstructionists apparently do not understand the societies that they’re studying. This will really come as a surprise to those involved in Hellenismos and Cultus Deorum Romanorum. And someone should tell the Celtic Reconstructionists that they’re racist and “problematic” just by virtue of their name and methodology.

He then expands on these sins by listing more things that the Alt Right believes in:

  • Hierarchy (as opposed to egalitarianism)1Impressively Rhyd claims that hierarchies are unnatural and do not exist in nature. It’s an amazing display of stupidity.
  • Tribalism (as opposed to “interconnectedness”)
  • Self-determination for all people2This is outright mocked by Rhyd, going so far to say that it’s okay for others, but not for Europeans. Furthermore it’s claimed that this belief is just a lie anyway.

At this point Rhyd should just come out as racist against Europeans, but in his world there’s no such thing as racism against Europeans due to some fantastical belief that only people with ill-defined “power” can be racist. So very convenient.

In his second piece, Rhyd tries to weasel his way out a bit by saying:

I am also not accusing all polytheists (or anyone else) of being Fascist. If I were, then I would also be a Fascist. The piece I wrote draws no equivalency between specific Pagan-aligned traditions and the New Right. Rather, I draw attention to places where New Right ideology intersects, could influence or currently influences Paganism, including the traditions I am a part of.

And further down in the same piece:

The presence of ideas espoused by the New Right in any Pagan tradition or belief system does not mean the tradition or belief system is part of the New Right.

But such journalistic integrity was to be found:

Is there a leftist infiltration of Polytheism? And am I—and the writers of Gods&Radicals—leading it? Or did I, by gathering information about the New Right hold an uncomfortable mirror up to a tradition I am a part of? Have I violated sacred traditions, or merely revealed their political aspects?

After all, he’s only insulted a vast portion of polytheists baselessly and with incorrect definitions, especially so for Heathens. Theodism is really targeted, though never named.

Let’s actually bother to look at the Alt Right’s beliefs. I’ll summarise The Right Stuff’s article on this very topic:

  • Meritocracy
  • Tribalism and the protection of one’s own
  • Europeans have a right to self-determination like everyone else3Self-determination is specifically mentioned in the United Nations Charter under Chapter 1, Article 1: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”
  • Gender differences exist and are complementary, which are in turn expressed by gender roles
  • Unrestrained democracy is bad4This, of course, bears a striking resemblance to the issues of mob rule and the tyranny of the majority.
  • Optional: Jews have a disproportionate influence on the West and do not have the best interests in mind for Europeans5This issue is contested on multiple sites in my research. For some this is a mandatory tenet, while others disagree. The former have great contempt for the latter. This issue is further exacerbated by Israel having a habit of demanding that the West change its ways and open its borders to everyone, yet Israel won’t do the same.

More information can be learned from Allum Bokhari’s and Milo Yiannopoulos’ “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt Right6During my wanderings on Alt Right websites, opinions were thoroughly divided about this article. Some absolutely hated it, saying that the authors portrayed the movement poorly or that Milo Yiannopoulos was trying to position himself as some sort of leader. Others said that it was broadly good. I did not see many in between.:

  • A great respect for history
  • A love of culture
  • A distaste for so-called cultural appropriation

There shouldn’t really be a problem with these tenets for the most part, yet opposition by the regressive Left is intense. They consider meritocracies to be discriminatory and demand instead quotas. They despise Europeans thinking of themselves; only guilt and monetary reparations should be witnessed. In the extreme they don’t believe in gender or think that it’s a spectrum or think that it’s an infinite collection.7It’s really rather amusing when regressives clash about which is the politically correct answer here. The only real similarities are a dislike for unrestrained democracy8While the Alt Right is often more concerned with uninformed voters holding massive power over informed voters, the regressive Left is horrified by votes that don’t agree with them and will decry the results. One might argue that this is similar in that the regressive Left feels that all those who disagree are uninformed voters. and cultural appropriation.9But the regressive Left does not believe that Europeans have cultures and thus only complains when a European dresses or acts in a manner that they dislike.

Throughout all of this, however, it’s been forgotten that the Alt Right is the result of the regressive Left. For years regressives have been telling Europeans that they don’t have a right to self-determination, that they’re racist no matter what, that they’re evil from birth, that they have no culture, and that they are inferior to others. Is it any wonder that people have fought back against these ideas? Some will go the opposite direction and form a counter, while others will simply give in to what they’re told and become the very things of which they are accused. After all, why does it matter what you do if you’re already guilty by some original sin?

Now it is evil that polytheists have any sort of love or respect for what they reconstruct or have otherwise built. It’s somehow morally wrong that they do not seek to destroy everything in the name of intersectional feminism, Marxism, or anarchism. Tradition and heritage are just so horrible, especially if it relates to Europe in any way! What crimes they have committed just by expressing wrongthink! And those Heathens are just the worst bunch of the lot.

This pains me. I was a Democrat for years.10Nowadays I am a member of the United Independent Party of Massachusetts. They have a convenient “what we believe” page. When I visited Washington, DC, in eighth grade for a class trip, I bought a miniature license plate that said “Democrat”. It hung in my bedroom throughout my teen years. I voted for Democrats for nearly a decade. In my teens I attended gay rights rallies and protested in front of the State House. I was in the newspaper for being a part of a signature campaign for gay rights in my high school; I still have the clipping and I cherish it. I remember excitedly sitting in front of the TV with my rainbow flag as marriage equality became law in Massachusetts and thinking about how I could marry someone in the future. I was vice president and later president of the gay-straight alliance in my high school. I helped in various environmental groups throughout university.

I was quite simply a progressive. But it was for nothing. I watched as the Democratic leadership voted poorly or actively hurt itself in some failed bid for bipartisanship.11I mean, really. The Democrats have the worst negotiation techniques. You don’t drop several of your demands on literally the opening move for fear that you might be rejected anyway! I watched as so-called progressives kept going so far left that I couldn’t even recognise their goals. I watched as I became the greatest evil in the world just because I’m a white male. Most recently I’ve witnessed the rise of the belief that I’m this horrible misogynist because I’m gay and not sleeping with women. Or, even better, that I’m gay by choice and thus even more terrible because of my apparent hatred for women.

The regressive Left is embodied by people like Rhyd Wildermuth, Shane Burley, and the social justice warriors who infect Tumblr, schools, and online “journalism”. They’ve gone so far over that the world itself is the enemy. They are intellectually dishonest and hold beliefs so stunningly radical that to implement them would be to burn everything until nothing remains. They’ve tried to destroy atheism, gaming, open source projects, and education. And now they are here for polytheism in this quest to burn. It is useless to try to reason with them, as ideological purity is their sole goal and everyone else must be smashed aside with their cries of racism, original sin, and heresy.

I have not moved much politically since I was a teen. I was taught that all peoples deserve the same rights and opportunities. I was taught that merit is important. I was taught to respect history and culture. I was taught to love my heritage and to embrace it. I was taught to help others and to extend these beliefs to others in good faith. And yet I am not on the Left anymore. The Left is unrecognisable and barely even visible from where I stand. For what I was taught and believe, I am labelled harshly and comically inaccurately.

The regressive Left does not want me. I am guilty and sinful to them. My very religion is now offensive to them. But the Alt Right wants me. They respect my love of tradition and heritage. They support me. They approve of my goals in history and religion. All without moving an inch politically, I already have a foot in their camp.

The regressive Left made me what I am.

Further reading:

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Impressively Rhyd claims that hierarchies are unnatural and do not exist in nature. It’s an amazing display of stupidity.
2. This is outright mocked by Rhyd, going so far to say that it’s okay for others, but not for Europeans. Furthermore it’s claimed that this belief is just a lie anyway.
3. Self-determination is specifically mentioned in the United Nations Charter under Chapter 1, Article 1: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”
4. This, of course, bears a striking resemblance to the issues of mob rule and the tyranny of the majority.
5. This issue is contested on multiple sites in my research. For some this is a mandatory tenet, while others disagree. The former have great contempt for the latter. This issue is further exacerbated by Israel having a habit of demanding that the West change its ways and open its borders to everyone, yet Israel won’t do the same.
6. During my wanderings on Alt Right websites, opinions were thoroughly divided about this article. Some absolutely hated it, saying that the authors portrayed the movement poorly or that Milo Yiannopoulos was trying to position himself as some sort of leader. Others said that it was broadly good. I did not see many in between.
7. It’s really rather amusing when regressives clash about which is the politically correct answer here.
8. While the Alt Right is often more concerned with uninformed voters holding massive power over informed voters, the regressive Left is horrified by votes that don’t agree with them and will decry the results. One might argue that this is similar in that the regressive Left feels that all those who disagree are uninformed voters.
9. But the regressive Left does not believe that Europeans have cultures and thus only complains when a European dresses or acts in a manner that they dislike.
10. Nowadays I am a member of the United Independent Party of Massachusetts. They have a convenient “what we believe” page.
11. I mean, really. The Democrats have the worst negotiation techniques. You don’t drop several of your demands on literally the opening move for fear that you might be rejected anyway!

Delineation of Wights

Nushif has written a fantastic post (archive) about the “scale, domain, and level of importance” of wights. Excellent questions were raised. Here’s a quote from later in the post:

I think the idea of wights is something more heathens should tackle earlier in their study and internalize far earlier than some other concepts, such as the gift giving cycle.

First I think as heathens we must understand wyrd. We have a splendid post up already about this, to which I cannot add much.

Secondly we have to understand the world in an animistic sense, filled with wights of (sometimes) vague and unclear scale, domain and level of importance to us. That makes sense if we engage in the metaphor for wyrd that I’ve heard most often: a tapestry woven from threads. One thread, no matter how thick, thin, short, long, pliable or non-pliable can only make one intersection in the cloth of the tapestry at a time, as such our perception or rather our ability to act is limited to the intersections we can take. Simply put, we cannot do things we can’t do.

When I say this I mean the following. Taking the belief in wights and the history of the concept we absolutely must be animists. And we can’t discard wights not explicitly mentioned in the sagas or Eddas either. Remember that the heads on boats at times had to be removed when approaching land so as to not scare the wights. This doesn’t seem like the behavior of a people who limited the existence of wights to very specific and very certain places or things EXCLUSIVELY.

Krettir has an especially delightful response:

 

Theodicy

Theodicy—why a good god allows evil—is an astounding issue within Abrahamic religions. A god who is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient surely can’t allow evil in the world, yet evil exists. In fact, it seems to be pretty obvious where it comes from:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.
Isaiah 45:7 (King James Version)

That certainly doesn’t seem like omnibenevolence to me. And it only becomes worse when you start allowing for Satan doing evil deeds in the world, which undermines omnibenevolence, omnipotence, and omniscience simultaneously. This leads to a variety of attempts to explain away evil, such as Augustinian theodicy, which says that everything is the result of original sin and poorly used free will, or Irenaean theodicy, which states that evil is needed for human development. But why would we be punished for something thousands of years ago? And what development do we need from, for example, having a town die from bombing or a person torturing children?

Simply put, Heathendom does not have this issue in the slightest. Our gods are not omnibenevolent, omnipotent, or omniscient. They have flaws like we do. They are subject to Wyrd just as we are. There are limits to their knowledge, though those limits are far beyond ours. They can’t be everywhere at once, nor are they required to be. And it’s not as though they’re the only things out there.  Elves, wights, ancestors, and so much more hold sway over the world. It is in their multiplicity and differing goals that bad things may happen.

We don’t, however, require all actions to stem from the Ēse or the myriad other beings out there. Humans can do horrible things all on their own. To quote Hobbes, life can be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Of all things, we’re very adept at continuing such issues.

Ultimately, however, the concept of evil for Heathendom is only superficially similar to that of Christendom. Whereas Christendom views morality in very black and white terms, a Heathen views the concept with a far greater spectrum of options; there are many shades of grey in between. Things are relative. An invading nation may be evil to those being conquered, but the invaders may view this act as good, for they may have secured more farmland and other resources, thus allowing the nation to prosper. Another nation may view this as allowing for new trade opportunities, but also with wariness of an expanding power; it’s a mixed bag. Likewise, fire is a joy on a cold night and is good, but an arsonist may rob a family of its home and livelihood and thereby making the fire and the arsonist evil. A neighbour may be saddened for the loss and the damage that it does for the community, but with this he may find new work while the victim recovers and help his family.

Morality is not simple. It is a matter of how something impacts a family or a community. If it is helpful to the group, then it may be good. If it is harmful, then it may be evil. It is important to keep this in mind. Few things are very clearcut.