Polemical topics for polytheists (part 6): Indigenism

First view: The indigenous people of the world are faring very well and are part of modern society, therefore they don’t need our help

Second view: The indigenous people of the world are in great misery and they need to be championed by everyone born with privilege (i.e. people descended from European colonists)

Balanced view: If we all think of ourselves as indigenous to a certain part of the world, and act accordingly, the problem will be solved.

Although it was my intention to consider ethnicity and ethnic religion, it is impossible to do so without understanding indigenism and its integral place within the system of polytheism. In ancient times, the various peoples of humankind spread themselves through the Earth gradually and accidentally in the course of many tens of thousands of years. When these journeys ended, and most lands were inhabited, peoples diversified further within distinct territories to form distinct cultures, practices and languages. It is difficult to determine when exactly this permanent or regional settlement occurred, but it seems to have been (in general) hardly later than the past three thousand years ago. However, with the rise of population (mainly because of agriculture), states arose and battled for wealth and power, and before long, the vile spirit of imperialism was born, and its lust for absolute domination, false glory, and unjust expansion began. As shown in the previous series (good and bad polytheists), we see it occurring throughout the world where agriculture was adopted along rivers, even (though to a lesser degree) in South America with the Incan Empire. It is thus easy to understand how indigenism lost to imperialism and its twin colonialism.  After  extended periods of growth (following fall of the Roman Empire) an absolute tragedy occurred in Western Europe: Ethnic groups on the margins of national empires, formerly indigenous Celts, who were now oppressed and disliked by the new dominant cultures based in the capital cities, undertook to colonize actively (as if in escapism) the New World. It is no secret that most settlers in the New World were poor, scorned and therefore hungry for some sort of wealth or acknowledgement— the Spaniards on the fringes, the Northern & Western English, the Welsh, the Irish, the Scots, the Portuguese, the Scots-Irish, the Hugenots of France, the Southern Germans, etc. These people had been oppressed by an inner colonization & imperialism in the form of nationalism, and now they were tempted to help themselves, not knowing that they were also feeding the same oppressive system of nationalism, and this again at the expense of other indigenous people. Thus, by a most unfortunate twist of fate and conspiracy on the part of the theocratic & national forces, the marginal groups of Europe, formerly indigenous, founded their own theocratic & national systems throughout the New World, in order to prove themselves and put an end to their former oppression, as if in defiance of the native countries that had scorned them. The obvious observation here is that imperialism and colonialism cause destructive cycles that expand and diversify themselves—the very definition of a disease. But since this is not a conclusion, we must answer the question, what is to be done nowadays? Although I am somewhat biased to the second view above, it seems to imply (ironically) that people of European descent will be committing only another sort of colonialism by championing and speaking on behalf of indigenous peoples. The solution? Leave. Yes, leave however and whenever you can to rediscover and resettle your indigenous homeland. This is already a time in history during which people are travelling more than ever and changing their residence constantly, because it has never been easier; this is likewise a time when several parts of the world, especially Europe, is declining in its birth-rates. As polytheists, it is furthermore impossible to overlook we are rebels and more or less distant from our families. So, what can be the excuse? Say what you will, but I’ll maintain that the Hellenic Zeus has no place out of the original lands inhabited by Greeks, nor do the Celtic or Germanic Gods belong to America, Canada, Brazil, Australia, or any part of the New World. By worshipping them there, we commit a sort of absurdity, and above all, we disappoint our Gods by alienating them from their original holy areas and at the same time, we anger them by allowing them to encroach on the lands of other Gods. Now, if you ask me, how can Gods own lands? The answer is quite simple: Since every indigenous people has their pantheon, the Gods preside as patrons of the land and all that belongs to what we call nature. What makes us different from monotheists is that we don’t believe there is one supreme, omnipotent, omnipresent (aka imperial) deity ruling over all peoples and all parts of the Earth. Gods and cultures and peoples and lands in polytheism are all connected within distinct groups, which all have the right to remain and continue, with neighborly exchange and sharing, otherwise we commit imperialism and colonialism. Another difference from monotheists (and their descendants the modernists) is that we don’t misuse the universal term “humanity”, as if to show we are all happily united as one people on one earth*. If Zeus can exist within Ireland, it can only mean he is appropriating the thunder of Taranis. If Taranis or Odin can exist within America (with a majority of people as descendants of colonists), it can only mean they have overthrown the realm of the Great Spirit, and therefore they are superior to it because of current supremacy. If this seems wrong, it is because we are too accustomed in our thinking to the transcendent immaterial side of divinity only, as practiced by monotheism, while forgetting of the solid material side. Let us therefore no longer be tokens and playthings in the hands of colonialists and imperialists. Let us do our part to end the problem of immigration by replacing its false economic purpose for a real cultural one. Let us then return to our own ancestors and Gods in the true sense and spirit of the word, by returning to their lands.

 Please visit this website, if you are interested in learning more about an ambitious project & discussion of unsettling America and re-indigenization begun by a fellow polytheist. N.B. The author uses the term “whiteness” in the sense of “westernization”, not in the sense of “race”, and she explains this under the section “heal whiteness”.

 

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*The term “humanity” is rather generic and bears no real significance as a united and universal concept, except when monotheism is applied (or its descendants: atheism and modernism). One god leads to one people, doesn’t it (just as atheism leads to people vs god, ironically)? But this only means that imperialism is in force by one culture over all others. Notice how the language of “humanity” is English nowadays. Surely that has a connection with British and American imperialism? And surely that extends to cultural values also? This is by no means a coincidence.

12 thoughts on “Polemical topics for polytheists (part 6): Indigenism

  1. Paul

    I very much agree (!) with the idea of returning to our ancestral homelands and it is something I have thought about for years myself. I believe that some countries even have a “Law of Return” for their diasporas. There are only a few concerns that I would have with such scenarios of mass return; mostly about language acquisition, cases of small nations with massive diasporas (like Ireland), and the taking up of ancestral custom.

    On the other hand, I’m not certain that the Gods are so localized that they would not follow their people(s) wherever they may be. Certain types of Spirits, I have no doubt, are bound to certain sites, but my own experience is that the Gods and our Ancestors (of course) are always with us wherever we are. Some will undoubtedly laugh, but I have had three religious encounters in the last few years; two with Gods, and one with a household Spirit, all of which occurred in my home here in California and not my ancestral lands. The Gods and other Spirits/Divinities are as real as you or I, and can follow us if They so choose. And just to pick a random example, the Greek colonists who founded the city of Marseille (as well as others throughout the Mediterranean) brought their Gods along with them in their journeys. Ultimately and to return to the topic, some people unfortunately would not (or could not, or would not be allowed to) repatriate themselves to their ancestral lands and I am sure that they would not be ignored or forgotten by the Gods nor their forebears.

    At any rate, returning to our own ancestral lands would indeed be the shining ideal. We could dispense with much of the unnecessary hostilities and hatreds throughout the world by doing so. Would that all of our ancestral countries would throw open their doors to their diasporas!

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Thanks for the response, my friend. Let me engage with your thoughts a little more, if I may. First, it is indeed true that there is such a thing as a law of return, and I think it should be made a mandate for all! It obviously won’t go so far, nor is everyone willing, but I think as polytheists (in my humble opinion) we would do well to seriously consider indigenism as an integral part of our polytheism, particularly as (accidental) descendants of European colonists. Are your ancestors mostly from Ireland, as you hint? What has happened to the Celts breaks my heart, and when I remember how nobly & bravely Vercigetorix, Corocotta, Boudicca, Viriathus, the Druids & many others resisted invasion and colonization, I know that they would not be comfortable to find that their descendants had not followed their example. Pardon me if I seem to press this point, because I know that my own ancestors had a huge part (if not the main) in this western practice of colonization. And if you think of it, Christianity was a direct result of Greek colonization, because during Hellenistic times, everything was mixed up and confused together. I have noticed throughout human history, that when an excessive “mixing up” occurs, it is usually followed by destructive power or force, particularly towards indigenous culture and people. Look at the Akkadians who formed the very first empire; they lay between the Semites in the West, Indo-Europeans to the North, Iranians to the East, and Sumerians to the South. The Romans borrowed all sorts of foreign ideas and mixed them up to form their army and empire, and Genghis Khan is said to have done the same, as did Alexander of Macedon. As for a modern example, look no further than America, or earlier Great Britain. Thank you for mentioning holy experiences; they are certainly no laughable manner whatsoever. But am I an excessive traditionalist and purist to think that surely they can be more powerful, fitting and pleasing to the Gods at home? Alas, I can see that “home” can be a problematic definition for descendants of colonists. I’ve lived in 4-5 places thus far in my life, and that makes me detached & ready to settle elsewhere again. Here’s another thing to consider: The Gods can certainly follow us if they choose, but can an indigenous God cooperate with a foreign one brought by occupation? I am no theologian (nor do I like theology), but I think we can understand the Gods without thinking too hard. If all Gods were once indigenous, would any of them take it well to colonize or to be colonized? I think the feeling of people and Gods go hand in hand—if the indigenous peoples of America are still fallen and abandoned, aren’t their Gods displeased? I conclude with a very pertinent excerpt from Chief Seattle of the Suquamish’s speech to “white” settlers in 1854: “Your god is not our God! Your god loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface [white man] and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, he has forsaken his Red children, if they really are his [Chief Seattle seems to have been baptized, like too many natives today, and he wrongly thought it would help his people survive]. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your god makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man’s god cannot love our people or he would protect them.”

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    2. Euphonia from the River

      Returning to our homelands is desirable but not possible for most people. I am French Canadian for instance, my ancestors have been here for 500 yrs but they have stuck with their own kind and it’s easy to prove my people came from France. France is actually the country who created right of blood return but they no longer have it. Ireland still has it but only for 3 generations back. Most developed countries other than America have a merit based system so you either have to be wealthy or have a useful professional degree or trade.

      Europe’s elites will not allow themselves to be repopulated by their own diasporic kin. They are counting on migrants of color to deal with birth rates. France is filled with Muslims and Africans hostile to the country and no love and connection with the land. I understand why they hate the West for it’s colonialism and imperialism, but that is the fault of the elites for their own monetary gain, not common people. Quebecois are obviously from France but they have asked for decades to have French citizenship and have never got it. The New World is all many of us have.

      There is a theological problem between modern polytheists who call themselves hard polytheists that think because the Gods are individual, sentient and powerful beings so they think it doesn’t matter what your ancestry is or where you live, any God can choose you if they want to. This is in contrast with ethnic polytheism… the former things doing offerings to ancestors is enough even if you practice a completely different religion that you have no blood tie to.

      I am more inclined to agree with Paul that our ancestors and Gods are always with us. Humans are part of nature however alienated our modern sick society forces us to be but as an animist we are part of that land as humans so we bring it with us wherever we go. I think perpetuating your own ethnic group by having kids with your kin is enough but the modern world is making that harder and shaming people for it even as being racist. I’m not sure there is much hope.

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      1. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Thanks for the reply, Courtney. It is indeed true & certain that returning is not possible for most people, on both sides, otherwise you’ll have all sorts of serious problems with millions that looks like an invasion. Yet surely we polytheists are not so numerous (as yet), and I thought it wouldn’t be too inconvenient for us to return, if we so wish. However, I am not sure if the elites in Europe would really disagree for communities in the New World to return—I think it could be managed and carried out if those communities are willing, but so far there is no such sign. We’ll need to ask ourselves why this is the case? Is it because descendants of Europeans in the New World consider the land their own? I think so. Christianity makes settlement and conquest anywhere convenient and acceptable and encouraged—whereas polytheism is quite different. I would venture to argue that indigenism and ethnic polytheism are strongly connected because you can’t separate people and land once they become established together. That is my humble opinion, and I would encourage you to consider this further by means of the following question: If you are concerned about your kin, as you (and all ethnic polytheists) ought to be, how do you think the New World will look in several hundred years? There is continuous mixing there, and we descendants of Europeans can’t stop it now, because we first invented the idea, along with other ideas like free love and anti-tradition. I don’t think things look secure even in 50 years time. The solution? Go to the place where you can ensure a future and constant majority.

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  2. Paul

    I am quite Gallic (France, Wallonia, and Québec), but one of my grandmothers was Irish and Scottish, and a few of my other forebears were Bretons from the Morbihan region.

    Indigenism could be implemented into our belief systems with relative ease, yes, but I would recommend one caveat: the mythologies of white supremacy/privilege/fragility etc. that are routinely employed and seem to often go hand-in-hand with the topic of indigenism need to be dispensed with in their entirety. These terms serve no other purpose than to demean and demonize and need to be tossed into the waste bin. People need to be genuinely educated about their heritage and culture, lifted up and inspired to return to their native lands out of love and respect for what is truly theirs, and not slandered and poisoned with falsehoods emanating from the universities and talking heads.

    You bring up a very good point that I have wondered about myself, of the reactions of Gods/Ancestors/Spirits to being colonized or encroached upon by others. I sometimes ponder whether ‘natural disasters’ are in fact simply that, or is there a deeper dimension to it? Could it be the rage of Gods or Ancestors making itself manifest? A thought I share with you is how much better it would be to worship one’s Gods in one’s own lands. Yes, most definitely. It would be infinitely better, say, to pray and make offerings to a Deity of healing within that God’s own sanctuary or temple than in a foreign land. It would be better to toss an offering to a water Spirit into their own river, rather than a waterway in a foreign place and hope that the offering is not only accepted, but also that your water Divinity is indeed the one that is there. Ad infinitum.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      You mention two important points. The first relates to the current mode of discourse about indigenism; I agree that it can be sometimes forceful and disagreeable, even hostile. There’s also a tendency (on both sides) to demonize and make dualisms of good & evil, a la monotheism. That’s the reason why I left an N.B. at the end of my post: it is necessary to sympathize & harmonize with the other side, which also has a point to make. Although terms like “white supremacy” and “white privilege” are not always used conveniently, they are not entirely removed from reality. Is it any secret that people of European ancestry have supreme power not only in the New World, but also the whole world? But if this is the case, we must look at the situation constructively, hence my attempt to point out that colonization & oppression within Europe led to colonization & oppression by those marginal indigenous groups who left it. I have said before and I’ll repeat that I prefer the term “white responsibility” to “white guilt”. But when the responsibility is avoided or denied, then it indeed becomes a matter of shame or guilt. Current discourse on the right (whether “conservative” or “alternative”) refuses to take responsibility unfortunately, precisely because they use Christian and atheistical ideas, which value the individual and discredit the ancestor. Whereas you know this is not the case with polytheism—our ancestors are always important and we are part of them, for better or for worse. Either way, we need action, to follow their good example or to correct a bad one. The other point you make justifies all what I have said thus far, in that it places a greater emphasis on the diverse sovereignty of the Gods than our comforts. I remember reading that in ancient times people travelled away from home with a certain degree of fear, even as a group, because they were anxious to leave behind their identity, an essential part of which was their indigenous connection to their Gods. I compare the connection of land, people and Gods to a tripod carrying the fire of life, so that if you take any one leg away, the fire falls and the tripod loses its significance & purpose.

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  3. Paul

    An additional thing: I was typing up my response before having to head out and meant to thank you for sharing sorrow over the sundry injustices done to the Celtic world and for honoring the noble names of our heroes. Thank you indeed, friend.

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  4. Paul

    I would argue that much of the influence European-descended peoples have on the modern-day world is more of a cultural phenomenon – I need not explain the near-universality of American popular “culture” nor the fact that the majority of humanity is non-European in origin. Certainly there aren’t any new colonial projects being undertaken by any European nation or diaspora nation, nor are non-natives oppressed in any of them, for that matter. Let us also recall that for most of recorded history, the most powerful and influential (and expansionist) nations have been in Asia – China and India, in particular (and China may very well be so, again). We would also do well to recall the sundry injustices done to our own Ancestors in the past (Barbary slave trade, Turkic conquest of Anatolia, Islamic invasions, Ottoman Empire, Mongol invasions, etc.). Alleged white privilege, supremacy, and so forth is often built on such shaky foundations as employment numbers, which is simply a matter of demographics and population size and not a sinister mass movement of knowing exploitation, abuse, and repression.

    At any rate, responsibility is indeed a better term than guilt or any of the other talking points, but care must be taken that it is not allowed to decay and/or become weaponized. It is indeed a concept that deserves to be further defined, developed, and honed. To be perfectly fair, atrocities were committed by all sides. I think that for the most part, people know that very many injustices were done during the colonial period(s) and wish to set things right, but become exasperated with the blatant hatred and demonization against them. How much better would it be if instead of degrading concepts that often border on becoming conspiracy theories (privilege, fragility, supremacy), there was instead a movement that pursued what was in the best interests of all?

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  5. K

    North America is more doomed than Europe is, this is true. Many here cannot see that, as the European mass immigration problem and the “migrant crisis” are more talked about. The US has had the equivalent of this for decades. The numbers are deceptive. North Africans, Arabs, Turks, many Hispanics(of varying types), and Jews are in the same white category in demographic reports alongside Europeans.

    However, I would not want to send all Europeans here back to Europe. The US has many that support stupid policies and care nothing for their people. Europe already has enough Marxists, nihilistic types, hedonists, and other such people. I would not want to send over our evangelical neoconservatives or Jehovah’s Witnesses either. Last thing I would want is to poison Europe even further.

    All Europeans leaving also means the Spanish elites scattered all over South America, Germans and Italians all over South America, and so on. I suppose all the Asians, Africans, Arabs, Indians, and Jews would also have to be made to leave. The Caribbean And South America would have to send off all its blacks, which would depopulate some countries. Only the mestizos and Indios would be left all over the Americas.

    I think this would lead to China just colonizing the continent for its resources, and probably sending a lot of their own people. It would have a lot of empty land after all those other people left. Why would a growing power with a massive population leave this rich continent alone? No one would be able to stop them from just taking it if they wanted, if Europeans all decided to go isolationist.

    Land does not inherently belong to any group of people. People act as if there is some justification needed to live somewhere. If a people occupies land and has the power to keep it, it belongs to them. If that changes, then it no longer belongs to them. If they want to keep anything they have to be able and willing to fight for it. This is how it has always been. No one should be so complacent as to think of their right, as if that will protect them. I have my people in mind here too, as complacency and ignorance is a huge problem among us.

    As for the gods, I do not think they are tied to land in a strict sense. If one takes the idea literally that they are, then the native tribes here left their gods in Siberia long ago. The ancestors of the Greeks(in part) left theirs behind further north. People can move around and live in other places just fine, and I would never attribute a power to humans and then say that the gods lack it. Land spirits of various sorts are a different matter.

    The connection of gods to the land is part of a bigger question that is always hanging in the air. The idea of Zeus needing to literally usurp Taranis or Thor to be worshiped in other places is just strange to me. We can apply past methods and outlooks to address this question.

    Herodotus mentioned Egyptian Herakles, priests of Zeus in Thebes, and Egyptian worship of Bacchus and Pan. How would this even be possible with an extremely parochial view? Interpretation was the outlook most commonly applied by the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians and Romans when it came to foreign religion and their gods. Similar attributes and myths usually led to this conclusion.

    Among the Semites and Levantine cities, it seems that they did have a more narrow view. Every city had some kind of patron deity, whether that was Melqart, Baal Hammon, Baal Hadad, Marduk, Chemosh, and so on. Yahweh had similar attributes, with Yahweh of Hebron, Yahweh of Teman, Yahweh of Samaria being attested in archaeological finds and the Old Testament. In 2 Kings, an Assyrian asks for soil from Judah so that he can make offerings to Yahweh outside of Yahweh’s land. David, when he has to flee Israel, says that he will have to worship other gods if he cannot be in Yahweh’s land. The Ugaritic tablets show a notion that each nation had its patron god, with El above them all. It seems that these peoples had a narrow view of their patrons’ powers and area of influence. The Babylonians made a big deal about recovering their image of Marduk when it was taken from them, because they would not celebrate their important festivals without it.

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  6. Melas the Hellene Post author

    Your response is thoughtful, my friend. I hope I have not reduced the topic of indigenism to a theological interpretation of the Gods, but I have only meant to be as reasonable, just and pious as possible in my conception of them altogether, beyond my own ancestral pantheon and ethnic lands. I have known you to be frank and faithful in your opinions for the sake of polytheism, and I will do the same with a common spirit, in spite of differences. I will make a few points, and then proceed to prepare my next topic. 1) Your opening paragraph implies that the problem of immigration and miscegenation was not originally begun by Europeans themselves through colonialism. Unless we descendants of them acknowledge this, the problem will continue and fester more and more 2) When I say “we descendants” I mean those whom the Gods have guided to polytheism, and it is those alone who can see the light & reason to return to their ethnic lands. Thus, your observation about the catastrophe that would result from everyone leaving (i.e. an invasion from China) is correct, but unnecessary within this context 3) Let me quote you “If a people occupies land and has the power to keep it, it belongs to them. If that changes, then it no longer belongs to them.” I have never spoken against warfare since it is inherent in human societies, but surely it has rules and a proper extent. Wars and conflicts always broke out regionally among people of a common culture, with few exceptions. To my thinking, the best wars are those which are considered by nationalists “civil wars”, i.e. wars among distinct tribes belonging to a larger ethnic & cultural people. This leads to a stronger stock and a control of population. Whereas making constant war on foreign peoples is the result of a poor way of life–either too much production & population, or too much ambition and greed. What business do the Celts have in the New World? Read what I wrote above once again and reflect carefully on it. If your quoted statement is true, it can only mean that justice (forget about mercy) does not exist, even towards the Gods themselves (patrons of their people). It also acknowledges a war among races for domination—Thus, if you dislike the non-whites when they practise what you preach, it unfortunately suggests double standards, and by extension an acknowledgement of the superiority of one “race” above another. 4) Your quote “As for the gods, I do not think they are tied to land in a strict sense. If one takes the idea literally that they are, then the native tribes here left their gods in Siberia long ago.” is already addressed in my post. 5) When you say “The connection of gods to the land is part of a bigger question that is always hanging in the air…We can apply past methods and outlooks to address this question.” and proceed to mention Herodotus, I must point out that that historian (as great as he was) had a limited knowledge of distinct traditions and thus applied interpretatio. That he attributed to Egyptians a Herakles and Zeus suggests only his intention to convey to his readers a comprehensible idea of Shu and Amon respectively. It is not a pronouncement about the nature of religious tradition (i.e. in favor of syncretism and sharing), but rather a piece of curiosity for his native countrymen. Also remember that he lived within the confusion of the Persian Empire already, that is to say, within a condition of colonialism and growing syncretism that gnawed away (or at least disfavored the status of) indigenous tradition. 6) I can only gather from your point about the Semitic peoples that even in urban societies (where things are otherwise syncretic and fluid), distinct traditions are possible. I am sure you are aware that the city-cults are directly derived from tribal ones that existed earlier in the same region—this is inherent in the evolution called “synoecism”, and it occurred within Greece, China, Egypt and elsewhere where cities arose.

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  7. Pingback: Polemical topics for Polytheists (part 10): Multiculturalism | Traditional Polytheist

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