Updated: 4 days ago
In this article, I am going to discuss my issues with Heathenry/Asatru, as well as my own past mistakes. I plan to keep the YouTubes up, and this website up. I plan to keep the Aldsidu Facebook group running. I am dailing myself down to Aldsidu only. I still am a man of the Saxon Faith (Aldsidu), but in my home and my locality only. I am leaving Public Asatru in all facets. Here are the reasons why:
Heathenry/Asatru struggles with Racism. Racism, and ALL forms of bigotry are wrong. This is hands down, by a long shot, my biggest problem with Heathenry/Asatru. My first day on a new job around ten years ago, I wore a Thor Hammer to work. An orthodox Jewish man was an employee at this new company, and he approached me in the kitchen, and asked if I was a racist. This of course caught me off guard, and I asked him what on earth gave that impression, as I had converted to Judaism in my past, and I am not anti-Semitic or a racist in any way. He replied, "If you are not a racist, why are you wearing a Thor's Hammer?" This is the day I realized, that Asatru's Universalist vs. Folkish debate has left a very bad taste in the mouth of the general public. Well, the few in the general public who are not Asatruar who know anything about Asatru. Most of the public, in fairness, doesn't know Asatru exists. I do understand how small Asatru is, and this is not an attack on it. Aldsidu is way smaller than Asatru.
What is the first thing most people think of when they hear the word "Scientology"? When I ask my musical (non-religious friends) what is the first thing that comes to their minds when they hear of Scientology, they say something along these lines: "Tom Cruise is crazy, Lea Remini and others claiming abuse, and nutjob people." While I do NOT consider Aldsidu a part of Asatru, we sadly get lumped into this umbrella by others. The fact that I cannot stop many from lumping us in with Asatruar is very frustrating. Aldsidu has outlawed all forms of bigotry. I understand we are similar to Asatru, but we are different.
Nonetheless, if the general public becomes more aware of Asatru, the headlines to the public will all be about racism, and bad behavior, and not about spirituality or religion. I meet too many people in Asatru who are not really Asatruar, but they are SJWs or racists there to fight on one of the two sides of the Uni-Folki debate. The few of us who are in this for the right reasons (or even New Ways Asatruar in it for religious/spritual reasons), will still be too small of a minority to overcome the bad behavior of the majority in the eyes of the public. Aldsidu has decided to be a TINY minority. Asatru is going for numbers, especially the universalist side. (And this is fine). There is too much tolerance outside of Aldsidu for badly behaved people. What people tolerate, is what people accept. The older I get, the less accepting of bad behavior I am.
Reputation is all to me. When I walk into my office as a CPA, I want to be respected not only as a great CPA, but as a well behaved classy individual. This means, I cannot wear a Thor's Hammer. When I take the stage as a musician, I take the stage as a classy man, who is friends with all people of color and all sexual orientations. I play with a variety of musicians, and all will vouch that I have been nothing but classy, and represent the highest morality, ethics, and solid behavior on and off the stage. I am they only white person in my band. I accept others, period. If religion doesn't cause people to be better people, and to have the highest ethical standards, than it is worthless. Most atheists and agnostics feel that religion's biggest flaw is it preaches morality and it produces bad behavior, hypocrisy. Most in Asatru will say that Asatru is not a religion of commandments. However, historical Heathens did have ethical standards, called "honorable behavior". They had honor and dishonor, and their Things (courts) made wrong doers pay skild (recompense) to wronged parties.
I made a true post once, about the fact that only Universalists have done violence to my home and put my family in danger. It is universalists that put me on lists of racists and "heathens to avoid." Racists do not make lists of "universalists to avoid." You would think if Asatruar were to make lists of racist and/or bigoted people, they would want to truly make sure that only racists are on that list. That Asatru would take care to not harm an innocent person's reputation. Sadly, that is not the case, not by a long shot.
Many Universalists give others "points" for outing a closet racist. And I should point out that whether or not the person is really a racist, is not at all a priority. When I first found out I was on a public google list of "heathens to avoid" and I was being called a racist and woman hater, I was very upset. The list was posted early in a Facebook group called "Heathens Against Hate." I remember I talked to my attorney about suing and I even reached out and threatened the group that I would sue them if they did not take the list down. This was a mistake on my end. One, the group could care less as to whether or not the list was truly accurate. They even started a thread debating if I was a racist, without even one person suggesting that all people on the list should be looked at for accuracy. Several in the thread claimed I was a racist, including a trombone player I went to college with (I was a music major in college, she was not), but was in jazz band. I never did any racist behavior in college, nor will one find racist emails hidden in my past. I was greatly offended with her accusation of me being a racist, and of course she offered zero evidence. Oddly, my attorney said I had no case for a lawsuit against the individual who put the list up. Sadly this is due to my book sales only increasing every time that list gets circulated, and oddly, that list brings in income for me, and not financial loss. It also increases Aldsidu website traffic. I am unsure if this should be an alarming thing or not, but it is at the very least troubling. I mean, if I truly were a racist, that should NOT increase book sales, but in Heathenry, apparently, being labelled a racist somehow pays. This is alarming in and of itself. What is also interesting, is Aldsidu web traffic increases due to that list being circulated. WTF? On another very strange note, the Asatru organization most Universalists fight against, are very well behaved (for the most part) online. I have seen some "Happy Mothers' Day to Aryan Mothers" posts, that are alarming, but oddly, outside of these (very alarming posts), when Universalists make huge public declarations against them, they respond with silence. Silence is a brilliant response on their end, as silence cannot be deemed as bad behavior nor racist. No response IS A RESPONSE. While I am absolutely against racist views, I can (oddly) say that I have learned a lesson from their purposeful ignoring of "Declaration 127". Don't get me wrong, racists can be dangerous people, but I have also seen much shameful behavior by Universalists by putting people in danger and trashing their reputations when they are truly not racists. It is true that I have only received hate email from Universalists. I deliberately keep these emails to myself. People argue with me about going public with them, but I refuse. The last thing Asatru (and Aldsidu) needs, is more hate being called out on social media. The hate needs to disappear, and outing truly bad behavior on social media only multiplies bad behavior. The silence on the part of the "racists" is actually an honorable response, even though racism is very dishonorable. I am going to ignore hate attacks on public websites about me. Responding to it, brings me down to their level. The only honorable response to false accusations is to ignore it. (Unless of course, it harms me financially, and then I can sue. But then again, why? Asatruar are not even worth my honorable time. Let them shame themselves. Who is more foolish, the fool or the one who responds to a fool?)
Heathenry attracts dangerous people, and many Tom Cruise types I wish I can say that a god has spoken to me, or that I have seen miracles. I have not. When I was a christian as a child, I saw zero miracles and I heard zero voices. This was the case in my twenties when I converted to Judaism as well, and this has been the case with my time in Asatru and Aldsidu. Sticks do not turn into snakes, the dead are not raised, people do not walk on water, bread doesn't fall from the sky, etc. The Meyers-Briggs test said that I am a Thinking individual more than a Perceiving one. Yep, I struggle with spirituality, and I use my mind and try to understand, I think more than feel. I have seen zero evidence of divine interaction with humanity. (And I truly do understand the difference between all-powerful monotheistic gods, and Heathen gods who lose eyes that never heal, lose a sword hand that doesn't grow back, and gods that will die at Ragnarök, etc). I have seen very angry and poorly behaved agnostics and atheists too. And this article is in no way saying all in Asatru are bat-shit crazy, and all are bad behaved. MOST are, not all.
At first, when I started a local community, I invited everyone to my home without meeting them first, and then I was "disappointed" that bat-shit crazy people showed up. I assumed if I had a Meetup for a Sumble, people would want to venerate Odin and the Germanic gods, and not come venerating Allah and Odin, or Christ and Thor, etc. Most people seem to mix various paganisms together too. I guess this is fine, nothing wrong with it, but I want a historical faith. If I wanted to make up a religion, I would join Wicca, or Scientology, etc. and no disrespect there, as people have a right to make up stuff too. 99% of the people in Asatru have never read one page of an Edda or Saga, and never will. They read Google, and accept "truths" they want to be "truths" whether or not they are historical. I differentiate here modern Asatru from the historical faith that died out. And this is another issue of mine: Heathenry was CRUSHED by Christianity. To argue against this is denial. And by the way, most Asatruar argue that the church murdered pagans, that the church hated paganism so much it murdered them. (This is true, especially with the Saxon Wars). However, christian murderers who hated pagans so much, would also not want pagan behavior in the church. The historical evidence of lists of Heathen practices banned by the church is quite extensive. Despite this, people will argue only Heathens historically had cool practices and the church, after murdering the Pagans, brought paganism in the church. They will continue to wrongly believe Odin is Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny was known to arch heathens, and arch heathens invented the christ mass tree. They give Christians zero credit for inventing any traditions, and believe that only Heathenry came up with cool traditions. Too many people are "mash all sorts of different historical religions into one calling it 'historical.'" Yet none seem to realize that modern Pagans from every nationality claim practices born in the church go back to their historical pagan ancestors. Can the Christ Mass be invented by Greeks, AND Romans, AND English, AND Germans, AND SLAVs, etc etc etc. I am done arguing with stupid. I think one mistake I did in the past was I acted as a "heathen evangelist" trying to state the Old Ways should be the ways followed, and people should not spread mis-information. The fact is, people have the right to lie and spread mis-information, even in ignorance or with knowledgeable intent. While I personally consider this "dis-honorable", I am not going to waste my time anymore. Only the tiny MINORITY of christians read the bible, and even know that if Jesus even existed, he was not born on December 25th or January 6th. This is also true with Heathenry, so few will ever read the Eddas and learn what arch-Heathenry was. There is no changing this. (And, let me be truly honest here: One of the reasons there is debate over when the holidays were and what the practices of arch Heathens were, is because Heathenry died out and Heathen writings written by Heathens did not survive. The church won the battle for the heart of northern Europe. While I do personally believe we can get close to historical Heathen practice, Heathenry was wiped off the map. Our Ancestors decided, alarmingly so, that Heathenry was inferior to christianity.) One other huge complaint I have: Too often, when two Asatruar disagree, one accuses the other of being a racist, to slander that person, when that person is not a racist. This has been done to me, and many others. Asatru in general accepts this behavior. Agree to disagree, and move on. Labeling someone a racist because they disagree with you is dishonorable, and un-heathen.
Heathenry is not an educated faith. It is not historical.
The whole purpose of Aldsidu, was to create a network and educational hub. Aldsidu has tried to make Heathenry an educated faith. While I would not call this a mistake on my end, nor on anyone in Aldsidu, the fact is almost all people that come into Heathenry claim they want a historical faith. Almost all are not looking for what historical Heathenry was, despite their claims. Religion is about common holidays and practices. We know what the christian holy days are, Judaism's holy days and rites, Islam's holy days and rites, etc. Many in Asatru argue that historical Heathens had no common practices. But we have Heathen words that state otherwise, i.e. forn sed and other words that mean "common practices." Yule was a holiday held historically by Germanic Pagans as a common practice. If you do not like common practices, than leave religion. And if you do not have common practices, then you can't celebrate with other common people as there is no commonality. Asatru when arguing the historicity of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year often argues that arch Heathens did not have common practices, yet modern Asatru most certainly has common holidays, and they are at the Wiccan times of the year. I have no issues with those who wish to make up a religion. But, if I wanted to make something up, I would, or I would join Wicca and Scientology, etc. Again, no offense to these religions, but I would rather be agnostic than to make up a religion. I personally need something historical, and something my family keeps together and something that brings people together. Secular Americans are doing better with a secular Xmas and Thanksgiving than Asatru is doing with its establishment of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year is my humble opinion. But I understand, the Wiccan Wheel of the Year is WAY more popular than the holidays (and the timing of those holidays) in the Eddas, Sagas, and historical sources. People can and should do whatever they want. The historical holidays are certainly less popular than the Wiccan Wheel, and the Christian holidays will be secular, but they are never going away, not any time soon, as Christianity won the battle for the hearts of Europe, and our Ancestors, like it or not, chose christianity over Heathenry. While this was done by force in some areas, in others it was freely embraced. And over time, it was genuinely embraced, and somehow the forced bloody treatment of their/our Ancestors was forgotten. In fairness, Christianity is far less bloody now than it used to be, and it is slowly dying, but is way bigger than Heathenry even today, and that race is not close.
What were my mistakes? I started out preaching the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. I started out reading Asatru books filled with mis-information. But I eventually made it to historical sources. When I changed my mind, I was public about it, I admitted I was wrong that the Wiccan Wheel of the Year had nothing to do with historical Heathenry. When I switched from the Wiccan Wheel of the Year to historically dated practices, it was due to research. One thing I did right was I could admit I was wrong when I was. I have not seen much of this from other groups, admitting they were wrong after further research. I trusted some of the wrong people. One person, with the initials A.Y. made me aware I was on a list of racists. But he also later sent me a long rant filled with profanity and insults, behaving like the people who practiced bullying that he preached against. He supports a website that has two articles bullying me. I let some of those people bother me for too long. Let me repeat the above, Heathens have too much bad behavior, and bullying behavior is simply dishonorable, so I have made no responses to that bullying website. There were many times, I argued too long, and too passionately for historical practices. I once gave a long angry rant on a Chicago Pagan page which I now deeply regret. And in fairness, because I pushed historical practices there, they labeled me a racist. In other words, you do not mix New Ways Heathens and Old Ways Heathens together. They practice differently. Each side should not preach towards the other, and should not be in the same groups/pages. I think people trying to reconstruct the historical Heathen faiths need to do it outside of Asatru. I really regret using my real name. I should have been a Ragnar Lothbrok, or a Lagertha, anyone but my real name. I used to think people that used those names were wrong. But safety is more important. I can use my real name on a Religion for Breakfast type group, or monotheist group, but I should never have used my real name in Heathen circles. Almost a complete absence of wealthy individuals, most Heathens are below the average income
The wealthy tend to be less bat-shit crazy than non-wealthy, and they do not take financial risks. I think being Heathen, if that becomes common knowledge to your circles, is a financial risk. What I have seen in Heathenry, is the bulk of the members are below the average income line. The wealthy though, are usually the first to leave religion in general. Scientology and Judaism have wealthy people. I am surprised by the volume of the wealthy in Scientology, so maybe this entire point is moot. Most Heathens I have met in person are people of below average means. Maybe the point is moot.
Conclusion: I have come to the conclusion that Heathenry has too many bat-shit crazy people who are uneducated. I do not want my children around almost all Heathens I come across. Heathenry will never ever become educated on what the Eddas, Sagas, and historical sources state. And most importantly, Heathenry doesn't make people more "honorable" (for the most part.) While I strongly doubt Heathenry will ever really get any press to the general public, as it is too small to be recognized, if it were, me being known as a Heathen would hurt the reputation of my wife, children, and family. This, makes me not want to have anything to do with it, as I am embarrassed by racism, embarrassed by Asatru putting people on lists whether they are accurate or not, and Asatru absolutely does not give a flying fuck about the safety of my children and a well being of many other "Heathens'" children. Asatru is a shit-storm of low class people who behave badly. What Asatru accepts what it tolerates. The older I get, the less accepting I am of dishonorable behavior. Aldsidu never tolerated such behavior, nor will we ever.