I wish I didn’t have to write this. I wish that those that hold so much hate in their hearts would recognize what a poison it is. I wish they would know that everything they touch in hate becomes distorted and twisted to the point that it no longer represents anything of value. But hate does exist in this world. And it has reared its ugly head once again at racist demonstrations that cause pain and destruction.
So, while I continue to send out prayers and meditations for peace, I know that still more must be done. Especially now, when those with hate have started to publicly twist and change what I hold dear and force it to speak of segregation, superiority and other such nonsense.
As many of my oaths are to Norse Gods, I identify the most as a Heathen Woman. And as I said I would when I took those oaths, I strive everyday to be a better person not only for my own personal benefit, but also to better my community as a whole. Heathens stand strong and do our best to live in accordance with our personal truths. And while these personal truths vary at times, the outcome is still the same: we learn about and work on our own shortcomings, we recognize when we have wronged another and do what we can to make it right and we strive to be stronger so that we can aid those who are not as strong as we are.
With these values in my heart and in my mind each day, I cannot tell you how angry and hurt I felt watching those with hate in their hearts take symbols of my religion and pervert their meanings. But that is exactly what happened in Charlottesville, and is what continues to happen now that a platform exists that emboldens these people to come out into the public eye.
The perversion of symbols is not a new thing. Of course Christianity has been battling it for years here in the United States with the burning of the cross. But since Christianity is more mainstream; it is much easier to recognize when the symbol is perverted and when it is utilized for love and inclusion. But now that Heathen symbols are getting the same treatment, we find ourselves in a situation where anyone who wears any symbol related to Norse history or the Heathen religion is suspect. Heathens like me are now ‘guilty until proven innocent’ of the racist crimes of our so-called brothers and sisters.
Personally, I have struggled with this new reality. I’m not sure if there is much more of a response that I can give except to pray, do what work I can on a metaphysical level, and to donate money toward causes of unity and aid for the victims of violence. But as these racist groups strive for more and bigger platforms to spew their hate, more needs to be done to counter their effects.
The Heathen community as a whole is working on a multifaceted approach to combat this hate. Many of us have pledged our support in the form of a declaration (Declaration 127), which names one of the heathen organizations that spews such hate. Other organizations as well as prominent Heathen authors have also come out publicly denouncing any attempt at dividing Heathens by race, sexuality or belief.
While these are great and wonderful starts, the work will not be as valuable as it can be if we don’t also reach out to the general public and educate them about how these racist groups are truly the minority. And that is one reason why I am writing and publishing this post. It is also why I continue to wear my Valknut, a symbol of the Heathen religion and one trying to be taken over by racist groups as a symbol of hate. I know the day will come when someone at work, or someone on the street looks at the symbol and recognizes it from a racist demonstration or from the media. And hopefully when that day comes, my demeanor will allow that person to be comfortable enough with me to ask me why I wear it. And I will gladly explain why it is a symbol of my religion, and more importantly, that we aren’t all racist.
I also encourage anyone who has a question or is concerned to come forward and ask. At the very least, you can do an internet search using the key terms “heathens against racism” and you will see countless numbers of articles that will give you a short summary of the work Heathens across the United States and beyond are doing in order to combat the racism in our own community.
In the meantime, I continue to do what I can on a personal level to combat hate. And I pray that someday we will no longer have to worry about these divisions in our society as we will finally have learned to come together as an integrated whole.