It seems that you can’t have a group of Heathens without also having the elephant being somewhere in the room. I refer to the issue of racism. That ugly word that almost always seems to pop up in Facebook groups and organizational meetings of the Heathen flavor. Whether it’s accepting these ideas of racial superiority or decrying it it never seems to be a dead issue.
I perhaps am uniquely qualified to write about this issue. A proud Heathen of over two decades and also married to a Jewish man and father to a beautiful African American daughter. Oh and grandfather to an adorable African American grandson. So my radar is always on high alert for this. I obviously don’t take too kindly to attitudes of racial superiority. But why does this subject seem to be in the shadowy background of our spiritual path?
The modern history of these misguided beliefs perhaps can be traced back to Guido von List. He was an Esoteric worker who came up with the modern ideas of Runic thought. He worked over 100 years ago. And he was violently anti Semitic. A true precursor to the thoughts that later bloomed into the Nazi mindset. The Reich used his works to bolster their attitude of racial purity.
And the Nazis. Their use of our symbols put our path squarely on the minds of the general public. The use of these symbols as part of the Nazi propaganda helped solidify attitudes of racial purity and superiority as being part and parcel of those on our spiritual path. The Nazis were the cement that put and held these attitudes firmly in place.
So it’s been in modern society. These attitudes of racial superiority bled through to factions of our path. Unfortunately the loudest and most visible factions. General superiority views of all those not “purely white” became more and more attached to our path as disturbed individuals kept doing crazy things like shooting people of color with guns inscribed with Norse path symbols. Or marching and chanting hate slogans against others while wearing badges of our symbols. The list of examples goes on and on.
Why is this true today? I postulate the theory that as a minority there are those who look to twisted ways to make themselves feel better by attacking other minorities. It’s the old “I’ll show you who’s better” mindset at work. There are unfortunately those who take it upon themselves to rant and rave and scream their insecurities to the world.
Of course I’d make the argument that those of this mindset are not truly on this path anyway. Anyone who’s read the Eddas knows that racial mingling is in the lore. Where else do etin brides cone from anyhow? To be true to the Norse path is to understand that even our ancestors had a vastly different attitude towards race issues than we currently have. There was a feeling that permeated their beliefs so strongly that it made it into the lore! We need to look to the past in these regards to build a stronger more inclusive future.
So what to do about this all? Fight. Whenever an attitude of racial superiority rears its ugly head on a Facebook group shout it down. Be the voice of inclusion rather than letting it slide. Look to elders in our community who hold inclusive attitudes. Shun those who believe that white is somehow better. If these folks are frozen out often enough they will remain quiet. And perhaps reflect on these issues with a cool head. We will never be taken seriously by the mainstream as long as these attitudes remain part of our public picture. We must show the face of inclusion to the world at large. We must each as individuals address this form of thought in our own lives. We must personally be examples for those new to our path to emulate. Never be silent. Never give in. Shoot the elephant every time you see it. And with enough bullets it will surely die.
Kurt Hoogstraat is a full-time Vitki and Heathen author based in Northern Illinois. He has been studying the runes and other Old Norse esoterica for over twenty years. A member of the Troth and an inclusive Heathen, Kurt has written two books:“Vitki Musings “ and “On Contemporary Seidr”, both available on Amazon.com He blogs at https://vitkimusings.blog/ and creates instructional Heathen videos at his self-titled YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCafJleASW-7ZJyQcqQBU0AA.