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Why are the Old Ways and Neo-Paganism failing to make Better People?

Updated: Jan 9

Hey all: This has been bothering me for a while. I think Heathenry is really failing to do one thing in peoples' lives: Make them better people for the world in general. Hear me out please.


Christianity and Islam are about belief, first and foremost. They have often made the world a worse place, all the genocide that they have done, the crusades, the religious wars. Even the beginning of Islam was divided and them killing each other. Centuries of violence. Sure, there are morality teachings in these faiths, and all in these two faiths today are not bad people, many are good people, but in the end, the devastation that the world has seen from these two religions, is undeniable. (And this post is not intended to rip on Christianity and Islam.)


Judaism is about practice, and as a Heathen reconstructionist, we are trying to reconstruct historical holidays, their meaning (what they were about) and their timing (when they were), as well as practice: How were they celebrated. I also write a lot about blot and sumble. Many of my articles discuss practice. When do I discuss the Gods? Sure, I do, here or there, but oddly, while people think I behave like a Christian (another point coming shortly), I am far more concerned about practice... which is actually all Judaism talks about: Practice. (Christianity=Salvation by Faith, belief. Judaism=good works, practice). One of my friends, Eric Wodening wrote a book "We Are Our Deeds." What we do defines who we are.


PS- Those who disagree with me claim I practice a Heathen christianity. I teach in their eyes: orthodoxy and orthopraxy of holidays based on a lunisolar reckoning and provide evidence this is how historical Heathens practiced, on full moons after solar events. These claim that me teaching full moons is "orthodoxy" (they mean orthopraxy.) Problem here, is Asatru does have orthopraxy, solstices and equinoxes and mid-points between them, the 8 prong solar year. People that teach solstice/equinox holiday dating have the same orthopraxy leanings as I do, we just PRACTICE differently, i.e. on different dates.


Are Old Ways Heathenry, and new ways Asatru, making people better people for this world?


Asatru is divided with their uni-folki debate. And even outside of that, people clobber each other more on Facebook and Redditt. These guys are likely to skip Thing and go straight to duels, with the loser being blood eagled. I have even had another "Heathen" state that I plagiarized his work (nope), and he was going to "crucify me publicly." I literally see so much crappy behavior every day, it is super clear the Havamal is ignored, and not put into practice, which means in my eyes, for the most part, Asatru is failing to make people more wise, or better people, or improve human behavior. Aldsidu, like Universalist Asatru, is against all forms of bigotry and racism. However, most of the bad behavior I have seen online is SJWs in the Universalist camp, calling people racists who are not, putting them on public lists, and are on witch hunts trying to get "good heathen points" by finding out another person is a racist that no one thought was. I literally see this almost daily on social media.


For those of you fathers out there that have a daughter: How many of you would find many Asatruar online to be good matches for your daughter? This makes me sad to say, but the behavior of soooo many Asatruar and Heathens is so bad, I am just embarrassed. I have never done threatening behavior and some of the over the top madness I see online.


I have made a LOT of mistakes on social media. I need to be calmer. I need to just say "This post is for those interested in historical ways. Please keep whatever ways you feel are best, just trying to teach historical ways here, which are not for everyone." I must constantly have a disclaimer.


The belief in the Gods did not survive. Heathenry was crushed by Christianity. Asatru is a faith reborn. Unlike Judaism and the Jewish people, who were tossed out of Israel by the Romans in 135 CE, with literally half of them being enslaved, then they survive for 1800 years away from their homeland, no longer a nation, keeping Hebrew, their sabbaths, their holidays, the halakah, through some of the worst persecutions and a holocaust, and today, they still speak Hebrew and their traditions are recorded. Today the Nation of Israel is reborn! (Israel was reborn as a nation in 1947/1948). Now that is keeping some old ways for a tribal faith! To be blunt, I do not see even a Heathen neighborhood being born in the present state of Asatru clobbering one another. Sure, we are not missionaries, but to be blunt, neither are Jews. Only Xians and Islamic people have commands to convert, and Israel has always been a tribal faith, an ethnicity as well as faith. In modern Heathenry, the question of ancestry is the most dividing one (uni-folki). We can't even talk about ethnicity without facebook almost shutting us down, even when we are not racists.


I do not foresee unity coming. Sure, the few of us Old Ways people should be united. And Asatru camps are united, sometimes. But I received threats and cuss out IMs this week from recons too. Often recons behave just as badly as non-recons. Our Ancestors let their religion die, and sadly, if you study continental Saxon History, after our forced conversion, and how horrible that is in the written record, recorded by the people who did it (which is even more astonishing considering mass executions and forced relocations of over 10,000 people occurred several times, all to force them into the church), the Saxons 100 years later were spreading Christianity in the same way it was forced on them, which is very disappointing to me, as that is my family heritage, not to mention what some in my north German family did in WWII. Why am I in America? Well praise the Gods one line of my family hated the Reich and left. I am a proud American.


I see a ton of online behavior I would call extremely poor. I myself have grown up a lot, but I still have a looooong way to go. I just think it is more likely Heathens will kill each other, and there is sooo much syncretism going on. We see it in the sagas. A Christ cup in many sumbles, and signs of the cross in sumbles, and I can give many examples. Syncretisation doesn't preserve cultures. The one ethnoreligious that survived was uncompromising, did not commit genocide themselves, and were the persecuted. Their faith made them better people. And they kept their sabbaths when those who persecuted them wished them to stop. They succeeded. If they compromised, and gave up their sabbaths and holidays and their PRACTICES, would they have survived as a people and would they have their own nation today? The syncretism in the Sagas was a sign Heathenry was about to die out, because they chose to compromise, and let the Old Ways of their Ancestors die. After so much syncretism, what was originally sumble, was no longer sumble.


WHAT MUST WE DO TO MAKE PEOPLE BETTER? The Havamal, has wisdom. People have replaced it with Asatru's Creed: The Nine Noble Virtues. What does Heathenry have to say to the world? How can we make it better? Why are we (old and new ways people) not making people better people? (And if you want to argue we are better people due to our faith, please say why. Stating “we are no longer Christians” is not a good answer. Should Asatru and Old Ways teach morality more? (Or is the real issue, most people don’t read historical Heathen literature, and do not know the historical Heathen values… and thus are just cosplayers…)???


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Ryan Marshall
Ryan Marshall
Jul 18, 2023

Great content Rob, this is something that has bothered me since the years I began my study and practice of The Old Ways. The practitioners of our faith talk about Folk and Kindred and Community but we are so decentralized. As you said to another's post, as an Unorganized religion it makes outreach difficult on our part. In my small town I met one other person like myself, who over the last few years I see more as a brother than a friend, and I frequently discuss with him the issues and problem I see with the decentralization of our faith. No two Heathens practice in the same way and so many follow misinformation and outright lies from other groups.…

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Robert Sass
Robert Sass
Jul 25, 2023
Replying to

Thank you. I am glad my content is of help, and is a guide. I am no longer going to argue with people on Facebook. I will post my research here, and I do have a YouTube channel. I have not made new content in a few months due to life being busy, but I will get back to it. But outside of this site, the Aldsidu facebook group, and the YouTube channel, I am going to go very silent. If people agree or disagree, it is not a concern. Those truly looking for good research on the Old Ways will find me. I am not wasting my time in fruitless arguing anymore.

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Rob this is the information we need to be spreading. I am a recon heathen and I think the truth hasn’t fully came out for the already brainwashed masses to consume. People associat heathens as racist and I for one know some are and some are not. I will not tolerate racism and bigotry. And if anyone wants to practice with me I would welcome them of any race with open arms. I am from a very racist and conservative place in WV. Where I’m from is called bloody Mingo ( Mingo is the county and is named after a NatI’ve American). Natives hear a really tight lipped about thier culture and religion. I read a story about a g…

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Jerry G.
Jerry G.
Feb 23, 2022

One notable difference is that the Heathen community lacks the outreach programs found in Christianity, that I can speak of for certain and probably Islam. I'm talking about crisis, drug and alcohol counselors. prison outreach, and public educators, if you will. We often don't take time to first learn and then teach others, instead we seem to be choosing to just listen and continue to operate in an introverted shell and yes often bashing others on the internet. People in need are often at wit's end, lost not knowing what to do or where to turn. Often they turn to the Christian church or Islam for "guidance" and that guidance is often given. Heathen faiths should by all means teach…

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Robert Sass
Robert Sass
Feb 23, 2022
Replying to

I agree completely with your comment. It is hard for an "unorganized" religion like Heathenry to provide counseling services for addicts, people who lost limbs in say car accidents or the military, etc. Often, it is the leaders of the local communities (like me) that have to do that for people on top of their day job, marriage, children, etc. Protestant ministers in the 1990s were the most divorced per-capita profession in the US, not sure if it still is, but those guys work nights weekends, and are out helping the sick and dying five business days a week with weddings and funerals and church services on weekends. Point is, the local communities really need to be a tea…

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Great article and ive been saying this to a lot of people who have questioned me about my beliefs. I am not as elegantly spoken or as knowledgeable as you are but my main point was "you don't have to be a weirdo about it". The reasoning behind that statement is because the few followers of Asatru they are familiar with are generally not the cream of the crop or even decent people. From my understanding the local group is led by a guy who is in and out of jail and they seem to be the stereotypical guys you would think of when you envision a metal thrash band. Im glad ifound your channel and website and look forward…

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