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Why does Neo-Paganism attract so many "crazy" people?

Recently, I took about a year off from making videos and blog articles. In that time, I finally got spiritual peace about Aldsidu and where my family should be.  My skin will be thick going forward.  If people disagree and want to argue abusively (as opposed to healthy debate), I am walking away. No drama. If people want to dishonor the Gods and themselves by saying I am racist, I will ignore that.  The biggest reason I needed time away was I had too many of the wrong sorts of people around me.  There are honorable heathens out there, but my circle needed to get smaller.  The only people in my circle should be my family, and honorable Heathens that I have built relationships with.  I had too many “bat-shit crazy” people over for ritual in my family’s home, and our family, who does ritual together, were getting to the point that our family rituals were far more peaceful for us. The people you put time into, must be honorable, in all facets of their behavior, online and offline.  Most “heathens” online are not Heathens who do ritual, just keyboard warriors. Seeing what I saw locally, and online, I found myself asking this question a lot: Why does heathenry draw so many bat-shit crazy people?


We discussed this in the Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry Facebook group. The discussion was so good, I am putting it here:


Aldsidu Member: “Personally I think the problem is that a lot of people are drawn to Paganism generally because they don't want to be told how to be better people, they want to build a fantasy about what a powerful, magical person they already are, and because of the lack of perceived structure and the "room to imagine." (Uni)Paganism is perfect for people who want to be told, "You're perfect just the way you are, you magical unicorn you." I think this also explains the screeching whenever anyone suggests standards, doctrines or says "You're doing it wrong".  I am SO GLAD someone is finally taking on this issue.


Robert's Response: May I borrow part of that comment for a future blog? I can give credit to you if you wish, or if you feel it better I will say, "A member of Aldsidu shared this thought, which I really agree with." Seriously, that was one of the best points I have seen in quite some time.


Aldsidu Member’s Response: Sure, feel free to quote me. I spent a very long time (decades) in Uni Pagan leadership (even longer in the "community") so between psych and religious studies degrees I have a lot to say about why Uni Paganism promotes dysfunction on a structural level. To expand on it; the problem with the A la Carte, "Take what you want and leave the rest" attitude about uni paganism is that a proper religion is meant to temper ones personality. Dionysus has his Apollo, so to speak. Thor the reckless bulldozer, but also Odin the crafty strategist. A healthy religion has different myths and figures to provide a study in contrasts to balance people and keep them from getting neurotic. They also have other balances; yes ecstatic dance, but also rigorous study. Sure Mysticism, but also Dogma and doctrine.

But what neopaganism does is encourage people to feed their neurosis. Don't like Apollo’s civilizing influence? Dedicate yourself to Dionysus! Go to the Pombagira ritual instead! Focus on the myths about how much Thor can drink! You don't need to change! You're the divine alcoholic Party animal! Its all sacred sex baby! Or you can focus on only the transgender myths in 15 different traditions, and call yourself "two spirit" or call yourself a temple prostitute and turn tricks (I've seen it), or You know, you're not an overbearing macho twit, you're "on the warrior path", Take designer drugs every weekend at sex parties and call yourself a shaman... you get the idea.

Naturally this makes neopaganism a magnet for all kinds of people; the dysfunctional, the addicted, the mentally ill, abusive maniacs. Anyone with delusions they want to exacerbate and most importantly SACRALIZE. After all, rule number one of neopaganism is "Nobody can tell you what your path is", nobody can tell you "you're doing it wrong", and most importantly, never invalidate anyone’s beliefs. Thor is actually an alien intelligence? He contacted you from the Pleiades? You're an arch-druid now?? Wow man, that must have been quite an experience! Anything you can't get from the "buffet" table you can just make up to suit your purposes. Tell people its ancient wisdom, tell them you learned it directly from the Gods.. After all, "Nobody can say".

Far from the advertised "encouraging spiritual growth", and "making us better people" what this actually does is encourage a lack of introspection (take what you like...) and a sacralization of a person’s neurosis (Focus on the Gods that deify their most overbearing traits). It’s also why so many "Pagans" know almost nothing about the actual religions, culture, etc of the traditions they appropriate from. Its not that they don't want to know.... It’s that they want to not know.. Because knowing interferes directly with the "I can make it say anything" appeal that led them to "Paganism" in the first place. It’s also why the morals and ethics look remarkably like the 60's counter-culture (but that’s another rabbit hole)

These realizations are why I became a traditionalist and why I found and follow you. Humans need a wholistic religious system that calls them to account instead of just fluffing their egos.

I guess I should say that a lot of this also applies to "traditionalist Paganism" as I call it, but to a lesser extent as there is less "Wiggle room". Its a problem to some extent with Paganism broadly.  I am SO GLAD someone is finally taking this on. We need to grow out of this nonsense, or we’re toast.”

 END OF THAT CONVERSATION, WELL, WHAT I AM SHARING IN THIS POST ANYWAYS.

 

Recently, I had a conversation with a leader of another Old Ways group whom I keep in touch with.  He IM’d me the following:


Old Ways leader: Hey man, how's everything?? I was wondering... because frankly I'm getting kind of irritated over all the Yule nonsense all over social media since yesterday given what we know, but how exactly did we end up with such a widespread disinformation about Yule?? 🤔  The sources quite clearly point to when Yule was held, not on the solstice itself but rather later based on the old lunisolar calendar... so where does this idea that Yule is on the solstice actually come from?? 🤔 Do you have any idea??  I think Wicca with their whole wheel of the year thing might have a little something to do with it but then again not enough people know about Wicca for all of this to be directly linked...  It's driving me crazy because I see so many heathens making fun of how christians and such don't even know their own religion (nevertheless quite true...) but then they'll flood social media with all that Solstice/Yule stuff that makes us all look like jackasses..  😑


Robert’s Response: There are several factors:

1. The man who founded Asatru in the USA chose Yule on the Solstice and originally went with the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.  He founded Asatru after leaving Wicca. He did not do any serious research, and since he came out of Wicca it was easy to move forward with what he already knew.

2. But the founding of Asatru in the USA aside: The MAIN reason why, is the Saga of Hakon the Good, who forced Yule to be moved from the full moon of Jolmanuthr, known as Huokonut, to the 25th of December:



3. It is also because historically, Heathenry was crushed by Christianity, and died out.  Then when Asatru comes along 800-1,000 years later, it never established any scholasticism. When people like me come along quoting historical sources suggesting that the Old Ways are different than what Asatru is teaching, we get shunned.  The shunning comes from most never reading a page of an Edda, Saga, or any historical source, and laziness on their part not to.  It may be more than just laziness, people want to keep Heathenry like Xmas and Easter, in fact, many want Xmas and Easter to be Germanic Heathenry itself, as they can’t let go of their monotheistic past, even though they claim they have.  The Heathen sources are clear, Yule was moved from the Full Moon of Yule Moon, to be on the Julian Calendar’s Solstice, to wipe out Heathen Yule.  The spirit of the Christian “Hakon the Good” lives on in neo-paganism today for sure. Christianity crushed Heathenry all too well, and "Heathens" are unknowingly continuing Hakon the Good's Christianization of Yule.

END OF THAT CONVERSATION, WELL, WHAT I AM SHARING IN THIS POST ANYWAYS.


Here is Chapter 15 of the saga "Hakon the Good" written circa 1220 CE

HAKON SPREADS CHRISTIANITY.

"King Hakon was a good Christian when he came to Norway; but as the whole country was heathen, with much heathenish sacrifice, and as many great people, as well as the favour of the common people, were to be conciliated, he resolved to practice his Christianity in private. But he kept Sundays, and the Friday fasts, and some token of the greatest holy-days. He made a law that the festival of Yule should begin at the same time as Christian people held it, and that every man, under penalty, should brew a meal of malt into ale, and therewith keep the Yule holy as long as it lasted. Before him, the first night of Yule was on hǫkunótt, that is midwinter night, and Yule was held for three nights. It was his intent, as soon as he had set himself fast in the land, and had subjected the whole to his power, to introduce Christianity. He went to work first by enticing to Christianity the men who were dearest to him; and many, out of friendship to him, allowed themselves to be baptized, and some laid aside performing blot."

Skipping ahead to Chapter 18 of Hakon the Good's Saga: "King Hakon came to the Frosta-thing, at which a vast multitude of people were assembled. And when the Thing was seated, the king spoke to the people, and began his speech saying that it was his message and entreaty to the bondes and householding men, both great and small, and to the whole public in general, young and old, rich and poor, women as well as men, that they should all allow themselves to be baptized, and should believe in one God, and in Christ the son of Mary and refrain from all blots and heathen gods; and should keep holy the seventh day, and abstain from all work on it, and keep a fast on the seventh day. As soon as the king had proposed this to the bondes, great was the murmur and noise among the crowd. They complained that the king wanted to take their labour and their old faith from them, and the land could not be cultivated in that way."


The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg Chapter 17 (circa 925 AD): "As I have heard odd stories concerning their ancient mid-winter sacrifices, I will not allow this custom to be ignored. The middle of that kingdom is called Lederun (Lejre), in the region of Sjælland, all the people gathered every nine years in January, that is after we have celebrated the birth of the Lord [Christmas], and there they offered to their gods sacrifices…”


Dr. Andreas E. Zautner: “If we browse the internet for holidays of the Germanic people, we mainly find pages presenting an octopartite year circle, the so-called ‘eight-spoked wheel of the year’ based on the solstices, the equinoxes, and four moon feasts in between. This year circle has absolutely no historical basis. Although it is very popular in neopagan circles, especially within Wicca and eclectic Asatru, there is no verified evidence for such a year circle as basis for the seasonal festivities. The same is true for the Celtic feasts within the year circle, because the Gauls too, used a lunisolar calendar as we know for the examples of Coligny and Villards d’Heria (Olmstedt, 1992). If one has internalized such ideas, one should get rid of them immediately!” [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.83]



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