The Utterly Ridiculous Fanfiction Which Resulted in Me Becoming a Lokean

You may recall my post in which I described the very weird sequence of events that resulted in me becoming Heathen, which I often point out happened by accident. Or a series of small accidents and weird decisions which, if not necessarily HAPPY accidents, were at least entertaining.

Bob Ross would be so proud.

You may also recall that I said I never finished it. At the time, that was true. But in August, while checking my Facebook memories and seeing my contextless post about throwing a composition book out of a window, I was reminded that, holy shit, I set out to write that ridiculous trollfic TEN YEARS AGO. I became a Heathen by accident TEN YEARS AGO.

So, against all better judgement, I finished it. I have kept the kinkshaming. I have kept the thing about Beck (as in, the loser scientologist folk-singer slob) living in Loki’s closet. I have kept the stitch-n-bitch and the baby shower and all of the other absolutely ridiculous bullshit and–the stupidest decision of all–decided to publish it.

Notes on content: Because this is literally based on Loki getting knocked up by a horse, this is kind of unavoidably an mpreg fic. I have pointedly kept it goofy. Also, holy shit, this is over 4,000 words.

An edit of a page from the Frog and Toad books. The illustration used shows Frog handing an envelope to a snail. There is a text box on the image reading "here is an insurmountable amount of garbage. It disgusts me as well. I apologize in advance."
Abandon Hope, all Ye Who Click Here

Call for submissions: Jörð devotional

I am going to be compiling, editing and releasing a devotional through the Troth! I am seeking out work written in honor of the Earth through a Heathen perspective, by the various names she has in our traditions. Devotional works in honor of the land are also welcome.

I am placing particular emphasis on poems, prayers, and rituals, but artwork would be enthusiastically accepted as well!

You do not have to be a member of the Troth to submit your work, just bear in mind that because we are publishing through them, any submissions have to comply with the Troth’s stance on inclusivity. We will also be asking for first publishing rights in North America. This means that the Troth has the right to be the first to distribute your contribution—after that, you can republish your work with no restrictions. There is also a release form to sign, which I will provide.

Please also bear in mind that contributions are not paid. All proceeds from sales of the published devotional will go towards Red Hammer, which is the Troth’s disaster relief fund.

Contributions can be emailed to peaksinmay AT Gmail DOT com. Submission deadline is December 31st, 2022, with the goal of releasing the finished book in April.

Wealthy in Each Other’s Company

For three years now, I’ve been hosting a ritual to Jörð on the Saturday before Earth Day.

Photo by Robert L. Schreiwer

At first, the motivation behind these rituals was a bit selfish. Finally realizing the severity of the climate crisis was crushing, which should be unsurprising given that it is literally the biggest threat ever posed to living things on this planet. I vividly remember laying face-down in the dry clay, alternately crying when lucid, and dissociating when not. Even a few minutes earlier I would have still found the phrase “dirt-worshipping Heathen” obnoxious, but I couldn’t exactly act like this wasn’t a fair accusation now.

The thing is, this existential fear isn’t new. It was only new to me. And the reason it was new to me was because whiteness and my family’s class status had insulated me from having to actually confront it. I can buy my life off the shelf if I so choose, enabled by colonial government and exploitative industry. This crisis has been ongoing for literally everyone else, for hundreds of years.

This sense of interconnection that the looming threat of climate change brought me should have been intuitive. But the world built on my behalf requires being separated from the earth. The comparatively new sense of a sprawling, tangled web of fate under my feet filled me with cold-muscled fear.

Like most people who crack under the strain of pretending to cooperate with absolute bullshit and feeling like everyone else knows something you don’t, I brought it to therapy. My therapist tried his damndest to instill some hope in me for life on earth—namely Lif and Lifthrasir as a metaphor for plastic-eating, thermophilic microbes, should they evolve in our absence. But none of this took away from the core fear that the world is ending for real.

In part because I already associated the events in ragnarök with the carbon cycle, I decided that the way to cope with my eco-anxiety would be through designing rituals again. This time, something heavily inspired by Völuspá.

Initially, what I had in mind had zero resemblance to the way I do Jarðarblót now. I had originally contemplated something theatrical, angry, and involving fake blood and scorn poles. I still have the unfinished papier-mâché horse head on a shelf in my closet. But eventually, something clicked.

Continue reading “Wealthy in Each Other’s Company”

Putting On My Silver

I didn’t get what I wanted.

Or thought I wanted. I dared to ask Freyja for help with romantic success, because I had been harboring a crush for someone for years, plural, by this point. Raising my elderflower and rose lemonade, I asked her for the courage to try and get what I want.

When I got home after that ritual, fiddling with the little copper-colored Mardi gras beads, I elaborated on what I wanted: give me the confidence to take the risk of asking them out. I will get you a nice necklace.

She filled my head with bizarre dreams, and I bought her an amber pendant that resembled a drippy honey comb. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they were already well on the way into a partnership. I didn’t find out until several weeks later.

I didn’t call it heartbreak, but it knocked the wind out of me.

When I had finally gotten some energy back and I wasn’t calming myself by obsessively mowing the lawn, I railed against this perceived injustice, all the while knowing I still wasn’t ready. I didn’t actually want to be partnered, and certainly not with someone who didn’t want me. I had gotten into heated arguments with my therapist explaining as much. Vulnerability is agonizing. I am traumatized in ways I am still picking apart. Irrespective of whether I feel it’s ethical for me to bring this to a partner (and I don’t), I didn’t want to be in a position of risk.

It still felt like this was something being done to me. I felt like I had been lied to by Freyja, given symbolism in dreams that sang of interpersonal potential. Divination had been promising. I never felt the need to suspect any other outcome because we were making such good progress…I felt confident. And I had asked for confidence, right?

Continue reading “Putting On My Silver”

In Which I Pretend Not to Take Myself Seriously for 1,270 Words

I started taking myself seriously as a Heathen blogger about four years ago, with my February 2018 post “The Geology of Ragnarok.” I don’t know for sure if I still stand by that post, especially now knowing that Fimbulvintr probably described a volcanic winter rather than an ice age, but it did show the very early inklings of a Heathen practice that would strongly emphasize the carbon cycle–and the disruption thereof.

When I made my pledge and then started taking myself more seriously as a Heathen, in general, I spent more time with the text than the emotional aspect. And then, as an admin in a Lokean group and trying to handle that relentless shitshow, being curious about the thought processes and motivations for why they kept fucking happening. This is probably where I started to have a recognizable niche, because these posts performed ridiculously well and one of my search term hits is “tumblr Loki Lokeans.” Ironically, most of the teachable moments came specifically from the Facebook group. If I was critiquing behavior on Tumblr, it was probably limited to spongecakegate, astral babies, or I was using it for window dressing.

For some reason, the founder of that group referred to my blog as “useful,” which to me reflects a frightening lack of self awareness. Which is the number one most annoying behavioral tendency I’ve seen in Lokean groups.


As I took up an interest in anarchist theory–or maybe began to recognize I was sort of on the way there anyway, and decided to actively cultivate that outcome–I fancied myself an essayist for a minute or two. My writings about Heathenry became more longform, more critical, more interested in making a case for how Heathenry might create a freer, safer world–but mostly tearing into it for the way it was failing to do so because “inclusive” Heathenry would rather rest on its laurels.

This is the number one reason that Heathens and anarchists both annoy me, which is a nuisance, because I am still a Heathen anarchist. It turns out “you’re doing it wrong, you’re not the boss of me” is a pretty reliable tendency in both categories and it’s a small wonder they overlap.

Why even blog about Heathenry?

I can’t shut up. I love to complain, way too much. Maybe it’s a culture thing I picked up from my family. Talk about the plight of a distant cousin over some Yuenglings. Talk about the most terrible thing you saw on the news, over some Yuenglings. Bitch and moan. Yuenglings optional.

Usually I would have a can of seltzer nearby while writing, anyway.

But I also grew up getting yelled at for complaining a lot, and I don’t know if it was unfair judgement of a really sad kid (because I was a really sad kid) or if I really was that whiny. So when I feel the urge to complain, I reflexively try to connect it to a broader context, as if I am trying to justify why I take issue. I know, rationally, that I can just not like things, or behaviors, or people. But as you might imagine, I’m on the defensive by default.

And often, the behavior that troubles me is maybe normalized in the particular setting where it’s showing up, but it’s just so goddamn unhealthy and obnoxious that I don’t feel like I can get away with simply Not Liking It. If the behavior is driving clever and promising people away, if it’s exhausting, if it enables oppression, if it doesn’t help anyone but the person misbehaving, it’s bad behavior.

So I try to make my complaining…helpful. And it seems, by and large, that people have found those kinds of posts helpful. Which is nice to know.

But it got really tiresome after a while. And so, even when I had the time, I was constantly getting stuck on posts. I have no shortage of ideas, I have 55 drafts at the time of this writing (which naturally includes this post). But I couldn’t finish one to save my life. I felt like I had lost the ability to stick to the expectations that I had created. I figured that either what I did publish would be overlooked (a realistic fear, because that repeatedly happens), or it was at risk of being nitpicked at. I felt like I had peaked. And maybe I have, because changing the blog name certainly didn’t do me any favors.

Once or twice I would dig out an old post that I felt didn’t fit, and would publish it anyway because it was still ready to go, and at least it was something. And it doesn’t feel great because I have gotten accustomed to taking myself seriously. Which is a little weird for a Lokean.

Although I do wonder now and then if I still can or should call myself a Lokean. While Loki is officially one of my primary deities, and he’s the only one I have any active sworn responsibilities to…I do very little. And I mean, very little. I am technically in violation of my pledge more often than not because I can hardly claim to be helping my community or pursuing ordination to the best of my ability. I am, however, being very good about making sure my shrines are cleaned off once a month. Because if I don’t, they will collect dust for months.

The thing about the pledge is it was kind of like having a baby to save a marriage. (Not an actual marriage, by the way. I am not a godspouse.) I was slacking really badly at the time that I made it, and I thought it might help light a fire under my ass. And I was right, initially. I threw myself hardcore into lore research and various volunteer opportunities. That’s a big part of why the nature of my blog shifted the way it did.

And then I very predictably got unfocused again. I initially typed “lazy,” but this was in the context of The Plague coinciding with me starting a steady job, which became a steady but horribly destabilizing job. The worst period of my life was age 16, but the first year of covid is a very close second. I am not “lazy” for becoming unproductive under these circumstances. But it did mean that my level of compliance dropped sharply.

I want to believe that it’s been politely overlooked, given the various situations. But it has become one more thing I tell myself I’m not doing well enough.

And anyway, my practice has expanded to the point that Loki is still central but definitely does not enjoy the degree of emphasis that he was probably accustomed to.

I keep announcing that I want to be less serious, as if this is an effective way to talk myself into it (it is not!), and my therapist has been trying to urge me to loosen up to the best of my ability for three years. And it’s not like I haven’t made progress, but it’s not like I’m making the progress that I would like to make, either.

I feel like almost every paragraph here starts with “I.” Something that I find terribly embarrassing. Maybe unreasonably so. If I’m the person who makes all the content (and I am), and if this blog was always supposed to be about my practice and my opinions and values (and it is), I might have to reach the conclusion that it’s only reasonable if I focus on myself and admit to doing it.

I guess.

Speaking of being self-centered, you’ll notice that there’s a Ko-Fi button at the bottom of most posts now. This links to my tip jar. In addition to blogging, I also write rituals for the public, which takes time and sometimes money. Tips help me justify the fact that I do this.

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Kingdom Hall Hates Them! Philly Heathen Gets Witnesses off Their Porch with This One Weird Trick

As much as I can’t stand the beliefs the Witnesses have about women and homosexuality, it was the highlight of my week if they showed up at my door because we could talk theology. I live for that. I love to analyze the source material of one’s faith and figure out how to interpret it.

But you do have to find a way to make them leave, eventually. And it would be really nice if you could keep them from coming back.

Some people try to drive Witnesses away by being scary and obnoxious, like showing up at the door with firearms. Or snakes. Or no clothes. Or burning Bibles, and making stupid jokes about blood-orgies and eating babies.

This doesn’t work. The Witnesses are trained to expect this when they’re sent out to preach. Usually they (correctly) decide that someone doing this is being an edgy jerk. And then they (understandably) decide that maybe you need Jesus a little more than they thought, and offer to replace the KJV Bible you burned with a NWV translation.

Also baby-eating jokes smack of Blood Libel so…don’t do that.

What does work, however, is preaching right back at them. Pagans take a lot of pride in not evangelizing, but in this situation? Screw it. They came to your house, knocked on your door and asked for your time.

And I’m not saying to pick apart the Bible with them. You’re a Heathen. The Bible is none of your business. The Bible, or at least one specific translation of it, is very much the business of the Witnesses. They’re the ones reading it and following weird interpretations of it on the regular, not you. Plus, they’re already trained to expect resistance, and they’re not playing by the rules you expect.

Play your home team advantage. Set the rules. Talk to them about Heathenry and don’t let them get a word in edgewise. Annoy the hell out of them in any other way you like, but be pointedly, flamboyantly, unapologetically Heathen about it.

When they try to bring you the good news about Jesus, regale them with the tales of Odin sacrificing himself to himself to get runes. Revel in how metal this is, of course, but talk their ears off about it.

If they speak about your fate at the end of the world, gleefully explain to them that the two survivors of Ragnarok are pre-assigned, and you aren’t one of them. Neither are they. And, hey, maybe Ragnarok already happened, so none of this really matters and you don’t have to worry about the consequences of being swept up in the ultimate fate of the world.

Your porch, your rules.

If they approach you in the street, and you do not successfully get them to ignore you, make it aggressively clear that you are a dirty fucking Heathen.

The thing about Jehovah’s Witnesses is that–on top of believing that lifesaving technology like blood tranfusions is against their god and that women aren’t people of any real worth beyond their uterus–contact with the world is spiritually hazardous. Just talking to you, a non-Witness, puts their souls in danger.

Which is fascinating, because the call to minister to the outside world is also compulsory. You’re required to endanger your soul to save it. But also it might not do anything. And also some people are more dangerous to your spirit than others.

But what that also means is that, for you, a Heathen, reading your favorite piece of common-sense advice out of the Havamal and repeatedly, helpfully reminding them that this advice is attributed to Odin will drive them off your doorstep. Quickly.

It also means that if you do it enough times, they blacklist you. You can get banned from being preached to by the Witnesses.

I discovered this completely by accident, because they haven’t come around in over five years and I was trying to figure out why. It’s kind of a bummer. The local Kingdom Hall is pretty close by. It’s not like it’s hard for them to come see me.

They just really don’t want to.

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I finally started hitting the local trails, now that I was somewhere that trails existed again. And while going through a dedicated tree identification loop on the trail I was struck by something.

I envy the resilience of the beech tree.

Or perhaps not the resilience, but rather, the chance at having resilience and the sense of home.

The beech tree is situated in a network of others of its kind, connected by roots and symbiotic fungus which transmit information and nutrients. I envy how trees in the shadow of their parents are protected, growing slowly for decades until the parent tree collapses and surrenders its sunlight.

I am very quick to recommend The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, and perhaps this is why I am zeroing in on beech when I go hiking, when I am not spotting hornbeams so quickly it feels like they’re flagging me down. Because these were the examples I got to see exemplifying things that I was approaching, but had not reached.

Trees raise their children. They feed their neighbors. But it’s not because trees are Just Like Us. Rather, we were once trees and we were forced to forget.

And I wish we remembered more, especially when I see how, despite nearly being wiped out by disease, beech have managed to reclaim woodland that was once cleared at the rate of an acre a day to feed a furnace. And in their shade the undergrowth is rich with ferns and moss, and lush with leaf litter, their repayment to the land that holds them in place as they reach skyward. They are in community with maples and oaks and the occasional pine. And if you successfully get deep enough into the forest, the wind in the leaves feels like watching waves flutter from below.

This is the closest I can find to a place where I feel safe, even as the silence around me implies the presence of a predator–probably me.

Beeches, and other trees in forests, have a literal rootedness that I do not, cannot ever have. That I can only seek out a substitute for. Which I will always be frustrated by.

If I am lucky, I wonder if I will grow to be the tree at the trail entrance that is scarred with carved initials and profanities, marked by someone’s desire to express a sense of ownership.

In June I left the house where I had lived for 27 years. When my parents bought their new house in December of 2020 I stayed behind as a caretaker, not wanting to leave my job that was barely paying for itself and having gotten sick to death of living with them. This ended up being perfect timing because I was exposed to covid at work just a few weeks later. I marked the solstice with a massive pineapple and anchovy pizza and explaining to the delivery guy, through the glass door, on the phone, that I could not open the door.

As I’m writing this it’s almost Christmas again. A holiday that I do not celebrate. A holiday that I successfully, completely avoided for the first time last year because I could not take visitors. The holiday I now cannot avoid because everyone else I live with celebrates it.

I do suppose, however, that it is super fucking recon of me to give in to my mother’s insistence on buying me things I need but cannot currently afford, because Christmas. I am back in circumstances where I am able to receive assistance and care that I have needed but kept putting off.

But I do not feel rooted.

I felt exposed in the city. I did not realize the extent of my emotional attachment to ambient plant and animal life until it was reduced to pigeons, badly behaved pandemic puppies, baby trees choking in pavement and the stubborn sycamores further south that simply ripped their way through decades ago. And I admired those sycamores because they had something I didn’t. I am stubborn and I am resilient, but unlike with sycamores, these are not pushed along by a will to live.

And what little I had was rapidly deteriorating in the city, where I felt constantly overstimulated with no way of turning away from anything. Sometimes Rob would have to scoop me up and take me out to the graveyard, or to East Earl, where at least the absence of trees was compensated for by farmland.

Now I am in a new location with a painful sense of being right back where I started. I don’t know how much of this inability to settle is self-inflicted bullshit, versus honestly earned suspicion.

But at least there are trees. There is at least one place where my shoulders can drop and I can catch a breath.

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Well, hello again.

When last we met our protagonist, it was December of 2019, before a plague hit the world and made life really fucking difficult.

Thankfully I just got my booster for the vaccine against that plague, so things will be marginally less difficult.

I had originally taken a sudden hiatus to focus on landing a job, write some more rituals (there was a Seasons of Transition III planned), and write blogs regularly again once I had gotten my rhythm back. The county shut down, my workload drastically increased, my friendship with my co-author ended, and I was under the worst stress of my life.

And then I quit my job that was supposed to be better than the last job and failed me yet again, moved out of a house I had lived in for 27 years, had a mental health crisis related to moving, got told to move out, MOVED AGAIN, and now finally have something vaguely resembling stability. Or at least familiar instability. Which was the environment I was writing in to begin with, so I guess it won’t be a hindrance.

Or I hope not.

I kind of backed myself into a corner for a while with my writing, because I was getting very used to ~teachable moments~ type shit and essays where I was trying to prove a point. And I don’t necessarily regret writing any of it because I stand by most of it, but at the end of the day I was getting sick of myself, and also ineffectually trying to impress people.

I mean, I was getting the response I wanted from certain people, but also, no, I wasn’t. The lack of self-awareness I was criticizing ran so deep that people I was literally describing were recommending my blog. And I cannot begin to tell you the kind of emotional exhaustion that left me with. It was very clear that nothing I was doing mattered and I no longer valued whether people liked it.

Also, a much pettier complaint, apparently you cannot make a case for why cute people should people fall in love with you by being smart. You have to be their type, and also actually tell them you like them. It’s so fucking complicated.

To try and resolve that sense of constriction, I’m going to give myself permission to be a lot more casual about my writing. I used to have content ready to go every week, or every other week, but it was because I had more free time and I wasn’t freakishly stringent about what I was putting out. And I am realizing being stringent was completely unnecessary, because I am running a pagan blog, where the formula for success is “confidence, irrespective of accuracy.”

That, I cannot get myself to do, but it means that the margin for error is far wider than I was willing to occupy. I am a hardass to myself first and foremost.

It’s not the worst tendency in the world, because a lot more people could stand to be much more self-critical. But I’m an anxious dumbass and was intensifying that behavior every time I got frustrated with people I thought should be more self-critical. Like I thought it would trickle down or something.

That is absurd.

We’ll see what happens. For now, I’m seeing how I adjust to this move.

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What Heathens can (Indirectly) do About Climate Change

An estimated four million people participated in the climate strike. September 20th was the first day in months I didn’t get hit with eco-anxiety and I actually felt a certain amount of hope. Maybe Ragnarök won’t actually come yet, you know?

But there’s no getting around that even the very best case scenario is going to be rough. Beats the frighteningly likely alternative by a long shot. But where we are now is not great. And where we will be in ten years will not be an improvement.

I don’t know if there’s anything we, as common people, can concretely do for Jörð beyond giving her the love she’s entitled to, and continuing to raise the alarm on her behalf, but there’s plenty we can do for each other.

Heathenry is about the people as much as it is about the gods–if not more so. That was the idea behind the rituals we’ve been writing for trans empowerment. We identified the aspects of ritual that had psychological benefits (with some help from a trained professional who prefers to be anonymous in this whole thing), and then provided an avenue for them to help a vulnerable population.

Therapeutic ritual can honor Jörð (or Nerthus, or Erde–whatever name she has in your tradition) while providing space for humans to share their love and grief. We can hold vigils. We can collectively plant and consecrate trees. Publicly scold and raise scorn poles against oil execs.

These do not change the actual physics or economics of the situation. But those of us aware of the problem, desperate to solve it and not equipped to make massive change, are constantly carrying rage and grief and terror inside of us. It’s rendering us less able to do anything for ourselves and for each other.

Competently crafted ritual provides a safe setting in which to experience emotions that are frightening–because the situation is objectively terrifying. And the community aspect of Heathen ritual, in particular, allows us to seek and give support while we push through these feelings.

The benefit of outright feeling your feelings is that tolerance can only be built through exposure. And while adjusting is usually cautioned against, I think that’s unsound advice. This is a situation that we cannot opt out of, and constant distress means burnout. And burnout means fewer resources to improve the situation.

My therapist, when I came in asking how best to manage the anxiety, had to remind me that buying Oreos is not going to single-handedly end the world–nor is avoiding them going to save it. Even if there is a lot of non-recyclable plastic in the packaging.

Energy spent on trying to minimize impact entirely, rather than letting myself settle for informed compromises once in a while, is energy that can’t be spent on activism.

And there’s a lot of energy in a package of Oreos.

So you do what keeps you sane, you muster strength in numbers. You direct those numbers where it can work some magic.

Literally, in the case of scorn poles.

When we have this emotional need met, we’re more able to focus on one another. We can develop groups and systems of mutual material support, or get on board with existing ones. We really don’t need a specialized, purpose-built and specifically Heathen approach to this.

That second step isn’t about us, but rather about our values. It’s not about being seen as Heathens, not about the P.R., not about the reclaimed symbolism and the patching up of our reputations–all of which, frankly, I’m tired of and I think is overemphasized.

It is about half a loaf and a tipped cup. It’s about displaced people taking their chances and hoping for your hospitality. It’s about whether we believe in the things we say, or if we’re just a bunch of pretentious dicks who mistake drinking mead for a personality trait.

I am not going to tell you to find clever ways to reduce your consumption and resource footprint. These are things I do because they help me, the individual, feel better. They are legitimate choices as coping skills, because they provide both a healthy outlet and distracting challenge. As long as they’re approached sanely, they’ll keep you sane.

Rather, I will point you towards resources that cover what I’ve touched on here–how we can adapt emotionally and materially while we scramble to slow the world going headlong.

The best thing you can do for the environment is to prioritize and support Indigenous environmental causes. I would urge anyone capable to donate money for camp supplies and/or legal fees for Water and Land Protectors, to fundraisers for Indigenous land buy-backs, or various fundraisers you can find under the Twitter hashtag #SettlerSaturday.

Coping With Climate Change: A walkthrough for managing the fear and uncertainty of humanity’s greatest crisis, by Ben Sayler

Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance from the American Psychological Association. (PDF)

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a national organization for providing direct aid to communities affected by disaster. See if an organization near you works with MADR.

Food Not Bombs is an obvious choice, when our goal is to assist vulnerable people and build partnerships that allow for survival. Not all chapters are known to the people maintaining this site, you may have to ask around locally. Check your local anarchist bookshops or community spaces, they’ll probably know.

The Troth’s Red Hammer program provides financial support to those affected by disaster, violence and hate crimes–direct aid is a future goal of Red Hammer. Currently, they’re fundraising for people affected by Hurricane Dorian.

After writing this post I started developing an annual Earth Day ritual in honor of Jörð. Designing these rituals takes a lot of time and any costs come out of my own pocket. If you are in a position to give, any donation you can offer would be helpful in offsetting those costs. That said, please prioritize fundraisers that will benefit Indigenous causes before putting anything in my tip jar.

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“Inclusive” Isn’t Enough

I refuse to be friendly with people who think Heathenry is only open to the “right” kind of people. I refuse to be civil with people who advocate for harm to marginalized racial, ethnic and religious groups. I will not tolerate anyone supporting an ideology that endangers LGBT+ people, or who think gender roles are a rigid and non-negotiable truth. (Because they’re not.) I have absolutely no patience for people who cannot accept that disability is going to be something they’ll just have to deal with seeing in their lives. They’re in the wrong faith anyway, with our one-eyed and one-handed gods.

But it’s not enough to just say so. An inclusive stance is a reflection of your ethics, and any ethical stance without a standard of behavior and action to back it up loses its legitimacy. This is literally a fundamental rule of ethics. A non-prescriptive philosophy is an inactionable philosophy, and therefore useless.

Which is to say, you don’t simply make that announcement of inclusivity, or sign Declaration 127, and call it a day. Any kind of real change takes more time and work than just saying you’re safe. It’s a start. But you have to prove that. If you want to be trusted, you have to accept that people will distrust you until their concerns are satisfactorily addressed.

And I’m not saying you have to go physically fight people–diversity of tactics has a vital place. The point is, do what you are capable of, but do something.

We have a responsibility, as inclusivist Heathens, to vet people carefully. And then keep paying attention. It’s tiring. It takes time and effort. I keep an eye on people for several days or dig through months worth of their content before I reach out to them. I’m more obsessive about it, because I didn’t trust my judgement before. But it’s not unreasonable to spend 10 minutes skimming someone’s online trail to see what turns up. It really does need to be done.

It’s not just the Asatru Folk Assembly and Odinic Rite contributing to the problem, because not every racist or hateful Heathen is affiliated with them. Some of them are still hanging on in organizations that would love to think they’re progressive. And not all contributions to a problem are morally equivalent, either. Idealogical Puritanism is a destructive mentality that shuts out imperfect but promising allies, and misguided people who could be easily redirected. But it behooves us to know what’s going on, and what people’s concerns are, so we can address them effectively.

And the big thing is white supremacy. If we don’t learn to recognize it, we let them network unchecked and continue to use Heathenry as a weapon. And it’s vital to remember that white supremacy is a value of the dominant culture and we all get trained to participate–if we don’t examine our own selves, and each other, we will end up perpetuating it. If we unwittingly broadcast that message, not knowing the underlying meaning, we help the more obviously aggressive and dangerous white supremacists do this. If we do not take the time to consider the source of our information, and we repeat standard white supremacist rhetoric, we become an active participant.

And people cannot trust us, though that’s among the lesser of our problems.

People won’t want to be part of our supposedly inclusive faith if we don’t work to make sure they feel welcome. If we boost messages from the racist contingent, intentionally or not, people won’t be able to tell who can actually be approached. If we let racists into the same spaces and events as marginalized people who are curious about, or already practicing our faith, we are enabling the former and endangering the latter. If we don’t make the effort to prove that we don’t tolerate that behavior, we can only blame ourselves if people don’t trust us. If we make it about ourselves, we’re failing to walk our talk.

When we create Heathen spaces, we take on the role of hosts. Our job is to set a nice table and give visitors somewhere comfortable to settle in.

Inviting people in without meeting their needs does not include them. It ultimately imposes upon them. And that’s bad hospitality.

Do better.

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