Polemical topics for polytheists (part 5): Community

First view: There is a growing community of polytheists, who happen to be active individuals online

Second view: There is really no community at all for polytheists, but they pretend there is

Balanced view: We should use our groups and communications online in order to make a transition towards communities on the ground

As things stand, it is a ripe time for the growth of polytheism in many parts of the world. Various freedoms, a quick access to learning, and the decay of monotheism encourage us to go forward and seize the day. But while we are enjoying these fruits while going forward, should we not also look forward and plant the seeds of our fruits? We all know the consequences of a lack of foresight and an attachment to the present only—add to that our individual concerns and comforts, which we often place above all other things. Polytheism is not a fashion that we put on and display, to share with others on social media, or to stand out in a crowd. It is rather an organic and structural entity that is only nourished and managed—no, kept alive—with proper care and collective effort. I wish I were sitting at the moment around a campfire sharing stories with fellow polytheists, rather than writing this piece alone. There is a question to be reflected on seriously: how do we define community and how do we wish to see the future condition of polytheism in the world? Here I recall my thoughts and the discussion I had with my kind readers in the first part of this series, regarding the common vision and mission of polytheists. The necessity of a community on the ground is one that can never be emphasized enough. Planting the seeds of the fruits we enjoy is one good step, but scattered individuals can only serve themselves and a few others by doing so. The next step, which determines whether we will enjoy the fruits for many generations to come, is to come together in order to survey, build, till, sow, irrigate, and harvest.* This is not so much a project, as an extension of a simple notion—that of settling. Why do people tend to marry and settle in a certain place with their children? Because that is what leads to a more convenient life of sharing and caring. Many families of a certain culture and belief make up a community. I am biased towards the second view, from time to time, because I hear the first view too often. But why not combine them rather than make a dualism out of it? We can and should exist in local and distinct communities, while participating in the modern world. There is much room for variation in this, and a pluralism of communal models can be considered and accepted, according to the needs and opinions of each community—which is the case with monotheists today. We can certainly discuss and differ on such models, but we can’t let individual comforts & opinions delay the formation of lasting communal structures for our future generations. I would dare say it is not even acceptable to the Gods that people should worship too much individually, so long as we are able to get together. As much as we seem comfortable, we are actually in a state of survival and self-preservation, if our numbers and the competition is taken into consideration, much less the dangers we could face one day, if monotheism rises up again to a state of fanaticism. There is one community of polytheism I can think of which has undertaken the project (i.e. Asatru), but I have a disagreement with their method—I can’t understand why a northern Germanic tradition would accept all “European” people. This leads to another consideration about “race” and ethnic religion, which I will look into in the next topic, because it is almost inseparable from the same discourse of community or at least inevitably connected to it. Meantime, let us look into community and the necessity of it for our preservation and continuity. Are any of you fellow polytheists comfortable enough with knowing a few people like yourselves, either family or friends online? Surely you must be lonely as I am, more or less, and in need of many more people like you within your life daily and in person. 

 

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*The metaphor of the farm and agriculture is perfectly applicable, although I don’t mean extensive or intensive agriculture, but one that supports a community of a modest number with as little interference with nature as possible.

18 thoughts on “Polemical topics for polytheists (part 5): Community

  1. Paul

    Race is most definitely real and based in biology (we are not all the same and when I hear otherwise I can only laugh), but I’ve never felt that Asatru is an appropriate fit-all for European-descended peoples, especially when we know quite a lot about other traditions. I do admire it though (I have an autographed copy of Stephen McNallen’s book, whatsmore), especially as many of my own Ancestors were from Normandy and would have worshipped the Norse Gods once, and I do think their attempt at community building has been pretty good and sets a good example.

    My own personal thoughts are that if people wish to actually venture out and form their own independent communities, that is a good and admirable course of action (many of the “hippies” did exactly that, although for other reasons) but we can also do it right where we are. The internet is wonderful, but some effort needs to be done in the real world, as well. One could do something as simple as writing up and printing a pamphlet and leaving it in public places to be found or awaken other believers that way. Things like “Polytheism/Paganism – What Is It Really?” or “Return To Your Traditions!” etc… Perhaps we would eventually become known as Zeus’/Odin’s/Taranis’/ Jupiter’s Witnesses. (Ha!)

    I very much share your feelings, though. I would love nothing more than to spend Samhain and other holy days (and just for fun) in the company of fellow believers (New Agers, universalists, and Wiccans need not apply :P) and celebrate them as they should be celebrated, marry a fellow polytheist out in the forest, and have a houseful of good little Pagan children.

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  2. Melas the Hellene Post author

    Thanks for your comment. The terms “race” and “biology” in relation to each other are often misunderstood and misapplied, as well as loaded with a bad history, and therefore I avoid them. I do also avoid large terms like “white”, “European”, “African”, etc. for reasons I will touch on in my next topic. For the time being though, I’ll say that the Asatru’s efforts have generally been for the good, but they have not been very careful or clear about their views, as for instance when they declare that “the existence of our people is not negotiable”. Furthermore, to my knowledge, they have not undertaken to work in concert with the Native Americans (who really own the land in the true ethnic sense) or polytheists of other ethnicities, which inevitably raises suspicions and grievances. I never heard of the Amish mixing with outer groups, but why doesn’t anyone complain or suspect them? Because they are peaceful, precise, and mind their own business, whereas McNallen’s folks have a certain smack of the South African Apartheid, which doesn’t help their cause at all, and it gives a bad name to ethnic religion.

    As for your thoughts regarding community, I agree in general. Pamphlets, books, videos, and even documentaries or short films can go a great way to inform the world of us. What disappoints me is that the New Agers and Wiccans (i.e. “neopagans”), although not being as exact in their beliefs as polytheists are, they do have something of a communal gathering, whereas we still lag behind. I would be very glad to see you and many others married in a forest and enjoy a houseful of children who follow the old ways. This is my wish too, but let us prepare and toil hard in order to accomplish and secure it for ourselves and the rest!

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    1. Paul

      That promises to be interesting. I shall save furthur thoughts and comments for when race etc is given its own topic – however, I must say that it would be nice to have a polite conversation about it without one side resorting to accusations of “Nazi” and “racist” and the other with “race traitor” or “crypto-Jew.” My ultimate point about Asatru was that it has made strides towards outreach and community creation and is to be admired in that regard whether one is a member/believer or not. Just to clarify, in the event that I came across as an Asatruar (insert sheepish grin here).

      Thank you for adding “neo-pagan” – after I had posted, I realized that I had forgotten to add them. To be fair, that is most definitely to their credit, they do indeed have social events and gatherings for people who share their views, and it is something we should take note of and copy. Ultimately that will depend on whether the interest is there or not, which in itself is linked to the actual numbers of people who follow our path.

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      1. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Certainly, my friend. It is absurd and subversive to call people by such names in an attempt to promote polytheism. I am sincerely doing my best to present my views here in an even-minded and fair manner, in order to bring some unity and understanding. The Asatru have done very well thus far, but if they could only do a little more! After all, it is much more difficult to put together a community than to develop some sort of understanding and harmony with others. Yes, the neopagans should be imitated in that regard, rather than considered mere rivals. At the present time, we polytheists seem to be a dissenting and reformed branch of “neo-paganism”, and we must tread carefully and honestly in order to win friends and secure a name, otherwise community is gone. I’ll prepare for a separate topic on Neopaganism for the future.

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  3. Jessica Triepel

    Great points. The northern Germanic tradition goes by more than one name. Ásatrú, Odinism, heathenry, and there are multiple stances within this branch regarding race and ethnicity. Personally, I’m of the opinion that the ideal is for each person should find their own ethnic and cultural roots and go from there. Sure, there might be some exceptions, and that’s fine, but polytheistic traditions should not be treated as universal. Some Odinists share my opinion and some don’t, but those who are for universalism blare their voices the loudest and would have us believe they are the majority. I’m not so sure that they are, it is probably more of a case of those with a different view being afraid of being labeled a racist or intolerant. 😣
    But back to the point, you are absolutely right. We need to form communities on the ground, and I see no reason why those communities should not be a mix of different polytheistic traditions in order to provide a platform for others to find people who share their beliefs, and regardless of our differences, we all share a lot of common goals and interests and it should not be a competition.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Many thanks, Jessica. Polytheism, just like culture, exists within distinct traditions that devolve from distinct peoples and ancestors. There is a rather unfortunate battle between the individual and the universal nowadays that doesn’t help much. Yet there is a middle way—once again, that word I’ll keep blaring loudly (to use your terms!), community. And as long as there is harmony and understanding among communities, that is to say, an exchange of good thoughts and good actions, there will be no suspicion or resentment in the case of people choosing to marry with their own (or similar) ethnic groups within distinct communities. There need to be discussions from time to time among representatives about such notions and actions—the so-called “white nationalists” in America have lately been very active in discussions (Richard Spencer in particular), but they don’t engage with other groups very well. Imagine how much better we could manage our own modest opinions and honest views. But more on this in the next topic.

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      1. K

        There should be no problem or suspicion to begin with. Did anyone in the past ever have this suspicion? Ancient Athens had citizenship laws that excluded even the descendants of other Greeks, let alone barbarians. No one looked askance at a group being exclusive and intermarrying with their own. It was considered normal, and in much of the world, it still is. It is what is being done now in the Western world that is abnormal.

        And I will tell you, no amount of being nice will stop the criticism. The whole problem is that European people are doing this. Being polytheistic doesn’t help our case, but the core problem is that. None of our opponents(including so called universalists) have a problem with ethnic communities, ethnic religion, and in-group orientation when anyone else does it. They often encourage others to band together and hate us.

        Even if individuals among us live outside of them, having communities with resources and help to fall back on is a necessity. Look at how the Hutterites are spreading over unpopulated areas(Dakotas, Montana). Keep in mind that they started out with very few people on this side of the world. If they can do it, heathens can too. There already are some small communities, and hopefully they will grow.

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      2. Jessica Triepel

        I very much agree. I read somewhere, a forum about life in Norway as a foreigner, that a lot of foreign women, who were not European, were going on and on about how Norse men were the most handsome men they’d ever seen, but then at the same time boasting of how open they all are to interracial dating. Well, some isolated cases are bound to happen, and perfectly normal, but this reeked of the multicultural agenda that is being thrust on all white populations, and I was thinking, if you think Norse people are so gorgeous, why would you want to see them mix in mass with other ethnic groups? If an ethnic group mixes too much with another, they lose a lot of their classic characteristics. But when a black person complains that someone isn’t black because they have a white parent or grandparent, that’s perfectly acceptable. It’s the hypocrisy that bothers me the most, and the defense of all other ethnic group’s right to self preservation while denying all groups that are considered white the same privilege.

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      3. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Thanks for mentioning this point, Jessica. I’ve already touched on ethnic intermarriage in my reply a few moments ago, but let me address Germanic beauty, which too too many people throughout the world believe to be the ideal. First, it’s important to understand that the notion first began in Europe after the Germanic invasions into the Roman Empire, and it has endured to this day, mainly because the English really think they are fully Germanic (rather than mainly Celtic) and they promoted the notion to flatter themselves and colonize others, etc. Another thing we should look at is objectivity, a notion taken from monotheism, another colonizing force. Part of the reason why people hold “ideals” of any kind is because the polytheistic system of subjectivity according to ancestral tradition was destroyed. I know that it is quite silly that to have Germanic people mix with others, only because they are “pretty” or “handsome”, and you are right to say this leads to a loss of diversity (in its true sense) on both sides. Indigenism is beautiful. But on the other hand, it is essential to see that it was Europeans who first pushed the objectivity on others in the first place, as part of their superiority complex. Indeed, it was (most unfortunately) Europeans who brought us to the sad condition of colonization and revenge for it by a sort of counter-colonization.

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      4. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Thank you for your thoughts, my friend. It is very difficult to please everyone in such a topic, but we must be honest. First, we must confess that it was actually the Europeans who first began the business of ethnic intermarriage—it actually goes hand in hand with colonization, if you think about it. Europeans (western in particular) were powerful, which made them conquer other regions, and then they subdued or assimilated the population by intermarriage, because remaining as the elite would have been dangerous or (according to Christianity) immoral. People are unfortunately not aware of this truth, as well as not aware that intermarriages of that kind lead to the destruction of indigenous culture on both sides. To tell you the truth, I daresay that the criticism will probably stop when Europeans put an end to their colonization of the New World and return to their indigenous land. Europe is suffering from low birth rates and there was never a more perfect time for such a project. I am not advocating “white guilt”, but rather accountability on the part of people of European descent in the New World. We descendants of Europeans in the New World need to toil very hard to correct the many disasters of our recent Christian ancestors, who had originally turned away from their polytheistic ancestors. If we don’t do so, then we polytheists are turning away from our original ancestors. This is why I have changed my mind about my next topic. I will need to address indigenism before ethnic religion.

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      5. Jessica Triepel

        I’m looking forward to your next post, as always! Have you thought about writing for magazines or anything? Modern Norse Heathen was talking about starting up a webzine recently and looking for writers to contribute.

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      6. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Thank you for the reference to that website. I’ve followed it and I’m considering writing to the author. Perhaps I could contribute a few things in the general spirit of polytheism that might also apply to the Germanic tradition.

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  4. Paul

    Agreed 😌

    I know that there are certain branches of Rodnovery that have set out to form their own communities and have done so – although from what I have read, not all of them are mainstream/“orthodox” Rodnovers, but it’s another good example that we can look to and seek to emulate. I have also heard of Irminfolk, which I believe is an Odinist organization that is trying (or already has?) set up their own community.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Yes, indeed. These Germanic communities need us to follow their example (and certainly improve any of their faults), otherwise they will look no better than Nazis in the eyes of the world. The notion of ethnic religion and ethnic people is quite synonymous to indigenism (another future topic). I hope to see the day when all indigenous peoples and religions flourish throughout the world, without rivalry, even Judaism itself.

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  5. Paul

    This is my desire as well, dear friend. Perfectly stated, as Jessica said.

    By the way, should you ever have anything published outside of this website, please do us the kindness of letting us know. I would hate to miss one of your pieces.

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