I can barely believe I need to write this. I can barely believe there needs to be a special group called Heathens United Against Racism.
But apparently that is the reality of where we are at this moment in time. So I post this that my community will know in no uncertain terms where I stand. This post is in response to this recent post by Steve Abell, Steersman of the Throth: “Letters from Midgard: Yes, Enough”.
I could make this easy on myself and say “What John Beckett said”, because damn, he nailed it in his recent writing, “Racism Cannot be Tolerated”. But I prefer to take the time to find my own words. This is what I have to say in response to both of the above blogposts:
I have had an uneasy relationship with Heathenry for about 12 years now. Its power is undeniable. Its Gods and its inner landscapes are both beautiful and terrible. And yet, its willingness to accept racism as a defining feature among some of its practitioners is utterly abhorrent to me. It makes me ashamed to call myself Heathen. So I often don’t.
The Blood and Soil nonsense needs to be abolished. It is hurtful, exclusionary, and completely fallacious. We humans have been nomadic since forever. We’ve been intermingling with one another since we dwelt in caves, so the thought that there has ever been any sort of racial purity is ridiculous.
Also, Gods have called to people across cultural boundaries for as long as we have record of people experiencing Gods. Who are we to second guess the choices of Gods? It is laughable to think this is our decision to make. Aside from the absurdity in such thinking, this attitude in no way demonstrates the hospitality that Heathens boast of.
The kind of Heathenry espoused by Stephen McNallen makes my skin crawl. I want as far away from it as I can get. However, I am unwilling to cede the ground to such views and let them poison something so breathtakingly beautiful. So I stay, that I may be part of defining a Heathenry I can be proud of.
I don’t know Ryan Smith well. I don’t know Steven Abell at all. But to suggest that Ryan is too extreme in his condemnation of racism while Stephen McNallen is a friendly fellow to chat with is everything that is wrong with Heathenry. Personally I think an aggressive stance against racism is called for. People are being killed over it. If you don’t like Ryan’s methods then come up with your own. But do something, because racism is poisoning the well.
I am glad HUAR exists. I wish it didn’t need to. The fact that some felt a need to create a group to demarcate those of us willing to stand against racism is telling indeed. The day we don’t need a special group, because the word “Heathen” itself already includes within it a bold stance against racism, is the day I will wear the banner of Heathen proudly.
I can’t stop people being racists. But I don’t have to tolerate racism, or welcome it at any events I produce, sponsor, or attend. Racism is not welcome in my sphere of influence in any way.
Standing up for true Heathen hospitality by welcoming and defending ANY person who is genuinely drawn to Heathen traditions is the kind of Heathenry I want to be a part of, and one I will help to create.
– Sharon Knight