The American Heathen
I am in the process of writing my Magnum Opus. It will be the most scholarly work I’ve written. But, I am not a scholar; I write for the Joe Lunchbox crowd. That said, there is no telling when it will be published. A targeted end date for this work is premature. And as promised, a second edition for my Heilige Yule will be included. There are things driving this work, American Heathenry being one of them.
Here Begins the Rant -
Growing up in south-eastern
I had many friends who were in a similar situation as me. Many of us had parents and/or grandparents who came to this country at the beginning of the 20th century. A few had families that were here longer. When we consider the time that Europeans began to settle here to our present, it’s just a mere 400 years, give or take a decade or two. Not much time for blood to wet the soil. Pennsylvania
During the mid 19th century in
Europe when the rise of nationalism picked up speed, a phrase – blood and soil – was born. In my opinion, the use of this phrase by American Heathens today is irrational. For starters, it’s not about blood; it’s about DNA.
DNA is what links us to our Ancestors. We are in many ways the sum total of Kin that came before us. It is easy to say then, that we are our Ancestors and they are us. This linkage is true, solid, and transcends the physical (recent DNA discoveries indicate that ancestral memory is carried within DNA and can be experienced in dreams, meditation, etc. I am not a scientist, but is it possible that DNA can carry with it a sense of place, land, soil?).
Our European ancestral heritage is deep, profound, and thousands of years old. Our Ancestors bled and died in that soil. Now I believe that that ‘soil’ is a part of our DNA (the sense of place, of being). It is a part of the ancestral memory carried within our DNA strands. And through our DNA, we can experience it. Any ancestral time in the
, I believe, is not a long enough period to have an impact. Plus, it’s Christian. Ancestral USA Europe was Heathen for thousands of years before the so-called conversion. Let me offer an example.
Native Americans have been in the
for many thousands of years. These folks have a solid connection with the soil, the land and often speak of it. It is a connection that transcends the physical; it is a part of their DNA and Folk Soul. For those of us of European descent, this may occur if we are a 7th or 8th generation family farmer (as an example) in the USA . Here is something interesting. USA
When my wife and I visited
Europe in the summer of 2017 we had some feelings that made us feel ‘at home.’ That’s the best I can describe it. That feeling hit as we walked the grounds of Sutton Hoo and then looked out on to King Raedwald’s grave mound. The feeling of peace that we experienced standing before the Cathedral of Notre Dame had nothing to do with Christian Catholic Universalism. It had everything to do with the Celtic and Roman temples that the Cathedral is built on. The vibes are still there. While in Austria along the Danube and in the feelings were the most intense. These experiences, I believe, came through our DNA (and let’s not forget our Folk Soul). Maybe this is in some small way what Native Americans feel. Unfortunately, there is a small number of European Heathens who do not think too kindly about their American Heathen cousins. Salzburg
These folks think that since we are born in the
we should follow the path of Native Americans (something Native Americans find quite amusing) - because we were born here, and not there. That’s not just silly but downright ignorant. We are Americans of European descent. We have the culture, heritage, and DNA. We have the right to claim Asatru/Heathenry as our own faith and ancestral folkway. But even still many young American Heathens wonder if they are ‘doing it right.’ The reason for this, I believe, is some bullying from Reconstructionists. USA
In the early days of the Heathen revival, two simple things happened. To get started, the leaders ‘borrowed’ a thing or two from Wicca. To this day that burns holes in the brains of some Recons. The Reconstructionists came along and did the heavy lifting. These fellows did the research that put us well past Snorri (I agree with Dr. Jackson Crawford. Snorri is a SECONDARY SOURCE. At best) and gave us the more colorful Heathenry that we enjoy today. But out of Reconstructionism came the purist.
The purist is a Recon who is happy to tell you that you are ‘doing it wrong.’ According to the purist if you are not conducting Blot and Sumbel a certain way (their way, of course) and doing it on a certain day (the way our Ancestors did) you’re wrong. This American Heathen has a problem with that.
Regardless of all the good historical work, the Recons gave us (And I for one am glad they did. Especially since I got to be a lazy bastard as I grew older) we know little of Elder Heathenry. It’s a lot like going to the beach with a 50-gallon drum and filling it with sand. At the end of the day, you have a lot of sand but there is a shit load of sand left on the beach. And, there was never, ever a pan-Germanic religion. It was a way of life that varied from locale to locale. The guy down the river and across the bend did things a tad different than the folks 10 miles upstream.
We know, for instance, that Blots and Sumbels happened and we have three calendars and other historical written material to back that up. We know that the Norse celebrated Sigrblot on the full moon that fell in the month we know today as April. At the same time, we know that the Anglo-Saxons celebrated Ostar/Eostre. Both were Blots held at the same time that officially marked the first day of summer – but with different overtones. The same is true in October for Winterfyllth/Winter Nights (the beginning of winter). And we know that both celebrated Yule for three days in January, depending on the full moon (it appears that Yule was moved to December around the Solstice with the introduction of the Julian calendar, conversion, and Law decree. However, there are Heathens who celebrate Yule in January at the full moon. I have no problem with that and you should not either). We do not know many details, but we do know that Heathenry was fluid then and it should be so now.
Our Ancestors changed and evolved; in many instances, survival depended on it. If something needed change for any good reason it was changed. To think that our Ancestors expect us to carry on and do things the way they did is foolish. They and our Gods expect us to grow, evolve, adapt, and overcome – to be the best that we can be (they do not want us to give up indoor plumbing and electricity to be just like them. Heathens that believe that must be on crack. Keep in mind what century we live in). We live in the 21st century (you see, I had to remind you!). It is an understatement to say that life is different than the days of Elder Heathenry. The demands of life are certainly different and time for some folks today is a precious commodity. Expecting folks to take off of work in the middle of the week just because it’s a full moon for the celebration is not reasonable. So stuff is done on weekends. Even the purists have to deal with that. And, the idea that you’re doing it wrong – the way you are doing your celebration and when you are doing it is offensive to our Gods and Ancestors is just plain rubbish. Now let me tell you something.
Whatever you may have heard about
weather is probably true. And if you live along the Texas as my wife and I do, you’d swear that most of the year is downright tropical. Some months ago a friend of mine, Berk Harbin, suggested that we in Gulf Coast change the name of the seasonal holiday ‘Winter Finding’ (late September) to Fall Finding. The reason – Texas weather; we don’t have winter here like in the northern states. It was agreeable and Winter Finding was replaced by Fall Finding. Nothing changed but the title of the celebration to fit here in Texas . Here is another simple change, or addition. Texas
Heathens are mindful of others. If some of our numbers have a problem with alcohol, alcohol is left out of Blot and Sumbel. Apple juice or another juice is substituted for the alcohol and becomes the liquid libation of the celebration. The results are the same. Today some of us include our kids in Blot. Juice is naturally preferred. This is another example of Heathens adapting and changing to bring about the desired result. There are other changes and adaptations happening but maybe the most important is tribalism.
From my front porch, it appears that many American Heathens have warmed to the idea of tribalism – the formation of kindred/clans and the coming together in a sort of confederation. For now, it is coming together for the purpose of joint activities. In the future, it can develop into more. And tribalism seems to appeal more to folks than any national organization. Here in
, we are Folkish but no way in the sense of that racist nonsense that came out of the mid-19th century. We are Folkish in the sense of family. If you are a parent, a sister or a brother, you should easily understand that. But know this – American Heathenry is growing and American Heathens do have a seat at the table. Texas
Here Ends The Rant.
Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved