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Author Topic: Becoming a Norse Pagan without joining Asatru?  (Read 44401 times)
bobthesane
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« Reply #30: May 30, 2011, 12:46:40 pm »

I'm solitary by default because the closet kindred to me is 2 hours away (and while they will let you hang out in a blot, they aren't accepting new members).   The next available kindreds tend to be 3 or 4 hours away.  That is too far to go except 2-3 times a year (IMHO, with rising gas prices and what not). 

I started Heathenry over a year ago, and had some very bad experiences with the online groups I encountered.   It was like the people were just waiting to pounce on newbies for any perceived signs of fluffiness. I can understand people don't want their folkway corrupted, but whatever happened to hospitality and common courtesy?   I begin to think Heathenry was staffed by xenophobic neanderthals who thought anyone outside their little circle might as well die.   

So I understand where some people are coming from.  But there are good groups out there online and offline.   Unfortunately, as in my case, you may too far away to really meet up with them on a personal level. 

Spearandhammer, just a friendly warning: we require the use of quoted passages here, so that readers don't get confused about what someone is responding to in a thread.

As for the meat of your post, that is sadly the case. Quite often, there will not be a local community group with which someone truly meshes. Or if there are, they are very very quiet. Like what happened to me when I moved to Indiana from New Mexico. Little did I know it, but the entire heathen community apparently was still reeling and trying to recover from the utter destruction of our collective reputation by a loudmouthed nazitru asshat who somehow managed to convince the non-heathen pagan community that he was in fact speaking for all of us. That forced most of the kindreds underground, if you will, and caused them to bar their gates very tightly in self-defense. All because of one loud jerk.

It sure made my life difficult, trying to find a group with whom to communicate. We did find one that, while excellent folk, just wound up not being quite a perfect fit for my family. So, we just started doing stuff on our own. Now, I am lucky in that I have my wife and kids, ex-wife and her husband and their kid all together here so we have a fairly large little family unit with which to practice our faith. But sometimes I do yearn for an outside viewpoint. Asatru (and by extension heathenry overall) does not thrive in a vacuum. We have such a strong focus on and commitment to family and community that I truly do believe that a solitary heathen is missing out on the strongest, most vibrant part of the faith. Sometimes, though, you've got no choice. That's where message boards and online communities can at least help fill the gaps.
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« Reply #31: May 30, 2011, 04:38:20 pm »

I'm solitary by default because the closet kindred to me is 2 hours away (and while they will let you hang out in a blot, they aren't accepting new members).   The next available kindreds tend to be 3 or 4 hours away.  That is too far to go except 2-3 times a year (IMHO, with rising gas prices and what not).  

I started Heathenry over a year ago, and had some very bad experiences with the online groups I encountered.   It was like the people were just waiting to pounce on newbies for any perceived signs of fluffiness. I can understand people don't want their folkway corrupted, but whatever happened to hospitality and common courtesy?   I begin to think Heathenry was staffed by xenophobic neanderthals who thought anyone outside their little circle might as well die.  

So I understand where some people are coming from.  But there are good groups out there online and offline.   Unfortunately, as in my case, you may too far away to really meet up with them on a personal level.  
Welcome to TC and to the SIG. Cheesy And yes, as Bob mentioned, we have a rule of quoting here. Quote whatever post you reply to, always. It works for us. Smiley

This thread has me wondering what might have happened if I hadn't found TC first. I was here for years, I believe, before I pursued Heathenry. I was your typical eclectic, aka I-just-don't-know, pagan before then. If I had jumped into Heathenry or Asatru and joined a different online community, things might have been different. As it is, I like the atmosphere of TC as a more general Pagan forum as opposed to a specifically Heathen forum.

EDIT: I have yet to get together with Heathens IRL. For one, I just don't feel the need to. Before I was Heathen I never really felt the need to get with other Pagans either. But there are some within a not-quite-ridiculous distance that I would consider checking out should I be so inspired in the future.
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #32: May 30, 2011, 06:29:13 pm »

EDIT: I have yet to get together with Heathens IRL. For one, I just don't feel the need to. Before I was Heathen I never really felt the need to get with other Pagans either. But there are some within a not-quite-ridiculous distance that I would consider checking out should I be so inspired in the future.

*grin* I'll keep a bottle of mead cold for sumble if you should get a crazy urge to cross Ohio and hang out in Indiana Smiley
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« Reply #33: May 31, 2011, 05:52:24 pm »

*grin* I'll keep a bottle of mead cold for sumble if you should get a crazy urge to cross Ohio and hang out in Indiana Smiley
Thanks! Cheesy
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #34: June 01, 2011, 05:38:10 am »

heathenry overall does not thrive in a vacuum.
This is why I find myself in a kindred of people I really like and respect, but whose approach is a bit less 'recon' and a bit more 'neo' than I would ideally like.
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« Reply #35: June 12, 2011, 10:58:30 am »

Hi all. I've been interested in Paganism for quite a few years now. In particular, I feel a big attraction to the Norse gods and goddesses but know nothing about actually practicing Norse Paganism. Recently, out of interest I went along to a few meetings with different Asatru organizations in my area to see about the possibility of joining their kindred's. I walked away from all of them feeling extremely turned off and disillusioned. I really disliked all their dogma and their "must do this, must do that" and "must believe this, must believe that" attitude, some of the things they said I had to believe in I personally found absolutely ridiculous. Some of the group's political affiliations were also a turn off, one ranging from your typical green leftist hippie group to another being far right, almost Nazi in ideology. The meetings left me so disillusioned that I began to question my attraction to the Norse gods and goddesses and began thinking of ditching it all together.

Is there any other way to worship the Norse gods apart from joining an organized group or set of beliefs like Asatru? What would you recommend I do?

Get yourself a copy of 'Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner' by Galina Krasskova and Raven Kaldera - it's an excellent introduction to the worship of the old Gods of the North by two practitioners who are sympathetic to the needs of the solitary, and aware of the problems posed by the sometimes overly-dogmatic attitudes of Heathen culture in general. highly recommended.

Feel free to drop me an email off-list if i can help at all

Wassail!

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« Reply #36: June 12, 2011, 11:08:25 am »

Get yourself a copy of 'Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner' by Galina Krasskova and Raven Kaldera - it's an excellent introduction to the worship of the old Gods of the North by two practitioners who are sympathetic to the needs of the solitary, and aware of the problems posed by the sometimes overly-dogmatic attitudes of Heathen culture in general. highly recommended.

Feel free to drop me an email off-list if i can help at all

Wassail!

Grimsman

And I'm going to have to counter this with a highly NOT recommended. Kaldera and Krasskova both have villainous reputations amongst heathens in general. Their research is full of MUS (Made Up Sh*t) that might sound like it's 'real' on the surface but doesn't hold up with even the slightest bit of critical thinking on the part of the reader. Now, we ALL use MUS in our observances. We have to. There are unfortunate gaps in our knowledge (although not as many as some believe). But when a person's MUS flies in the face of what is actually known and documented, then it becomes a serious issue. I am not going into exhaustive detail in this venue, as it has been discussed at length elsewhere.

If any are interested in further opinion on the subject of these two authors, feel free to search through Asatru Lore's archives and refer questions to me there.

My personal recommendation still stands at reading source materials for yourself (Eddas prose and poetic, sagas, Havamal, Voluspa, etc etc), then make up one's OWN mind. Don't be spoon fed knowledge by someone who may or may not have a good grasp themselves on the lore.
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« Reply #37: June 12, 2011, 11:17:12 am »

My personal recommendation still stands at reading source materials for yourself (Eddas prose and poetic, sagas, Havamal, Voluspa, etc etc), then make up one's OWN mind. Don't be spoon fed knowledge by someone who may or may not have a good grasp themselves on the lore.

Addendum to the above: Believe it or not, Edred Thorsson (Spooky Eddie as we call him) did a pretty good job at writing a beginner's book with Vol. 1 of 'Our Troth'. If you can find an early print or electronic copy, grab it and use it as a starting point to help direct your research further afield. Just make sure you don't get too deep into Spooky's OTHER writings, unless you enjoy reading some of the weirdest MUS on the planet. Still not quite sure how he got himself his doctorate, as I've read several very unflattering quotes regarding him and his work from other members of the department at Univ. of TX at Austin.

Be that as it may, his direct translations of old texts tend to be pretty good, and his early work with the Troth was also pretty good, if 'tainted' by his activity in organizations like the Temple of Set.
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« Reply #38: June 12, 2011, 11:41:40 am »

And I'm going to have to counter this with a highly NOT recommended. Kaldera and Krasskova both have villainous reputations amongst heathens in general. Their research is full of MUS (Made Up Sh*t) that might sound like it's 'real' on the surface but doesn't hold up with even the slightest bit of critical thinking on the part of the reader. Now, we ALL use MUS in our observances. We have to. There are unfortunate gaps in our knowledge (although not as many as some believe). But when a person's MUS flies in the face of what is actually known and documented, then it becomes a serious issue. I am not going into exhaustive detail in this venue, as it has been discussed at length elsewhere.

If any are interested in further opinion on the subject of these two authors, feel free to search through Asatru Lore's archives and refer questions to me there.

My personal recommendation still stands at reading source materials for yourself (Eddas prose and poetic, sagas, Havamal, Voluspa, etc etc), then make up one's OWN mind. Don't be spoon fed knowledge by someone who may or may not have a good grasp themselves on the lore.

I had the pleasure of meeting Raven a couple of weeks ago (long after I had read this book), and can only suggest that getting to know the person (I also correspond with Galina by email) might help to disabuse you of what looks on the surface like unwarranted character assassination. It's just this kind of attitude which, like the original poster of this question, puts people off getting closer to the Old Gods of the North. I have a suspicion that many North American Asatru have migrated from a background in fundamentalist Christianity, and brought their fundamentalist attitudes with them. Personally I think its a shame, and that a more generous attitude would be a better advertisement for our religion.

I can only say that personally this book (and Galina Krasskova's earlier 'Introducing the Northern Tradition' helped me greatly when I first came to the religion. I consider myself to be a critical thinker, and note that you've chosen not to quote any references, sources or authorities......I've had a brief look at the Asatru Lore forum (since that's what it is) and wonder why you would need to invite someone to another forum to further their 'education' - presumably because what you have to say might contravene the rules here? Call me cynical, but.......

Grimsman
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bobthesane
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« Reply #39: June 12, 2011, 12:05:34 pm »

I had the pleasure of meeting Raven a couple of weeks ago (long after I had read this book), and can only suggest that getting to know the person (I also correspond with Galina by email) might help to disabuse you of what looks on the surface like unwarranted character assassination. It's just this kind of attitude which, like the original poster of this question, puts people off getting closer to the Old Gods of the North. I have a suspicion that many North American Asatru have migrated from a background in fundamentalist Christianity, and brought their fundamentalist attitudes with them. Personally I think its a shame, and that a more generous attitude would be a better advertisement for our religion.

I can only say that personally this book (and Galina Krasskova's earlier 'Introducing the Northern Tradition' helped me greatly when I first came to the religion. I consider myself to be a critical thinker, and note that you've chosen not to quote any references, sources or authorities......I've had a brief look at the Asatru Lore forum (since that's what it is) and wonder why you would need to invite someone to another forum to further their 'education' - presumably because what you have to say might contravene the rules here? Call me cynical, but.......

Grimsman

Noooo, I chose not to go into exhaustive detail on a thread that has nothing to do with, as you term it, 'character assassination', instead choosing to point interested parties over to where such information DOES exist that won't derail this thread.

Speaking of contravening rules, in what way would voicing my opinion on the quality of their writing or research count as a rules violation? I voiced the opinion, shared amongst the vast majority of north American heathens, that Krasskova and Kaldera do NOT demonstrate good scholarship, tend to throw their own MUS out there WITHOUT IDENTIFYING IT AS SUCH, thus leading newcomers to believe that their words are, in fact, 'gospel', and are closely associated with a group that has an extremely villainous reputation (Cauldron Farm).

So, pray tell, where do you see a rules violation in the above?

Nice jab at everyone who has a problem with poor scholarship and poor behavior, BTW, relating us all to 'christian fundamentalists'.
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« Reply #40: June 12, 2011, 12:20:17 pm »

Noooo, I chose not to go into exhaustive detail on a thread that has nothing to do with, as you term it, 'character assassination', instead choosing to point interested parties over to where such information DOES exist that won't derail this thread.

Speaking of contravening rules, in what way would voicing my opinion on the quality of their writing or research count as a rules violation? I voiced the opinion, shared amongst the vast majority of north American heathens, that Krasskova and Kaldera do NOT demonstrate good scholarship, tend to throw their own MUS out there WITHOUT IDENTIFYING IT AS SUCH, thus leading newcomers to believe that their words are, in fact, 'gospel', and are closely associated with a group that has an extremely villainous reputation (Cauldron Farm).

So, pray tell, where do you see a rules violation in the above?

Nice jab at everyone who has a problem with poor scholarship and poor behavior, BTW, relating us all to 'christian fundamentalists'.

I don't think voicing your opinion on their scholarship or research quality, writing etc, would constitute a rules violation, neither did I mean to imply that. So I wonder what it is you need to say about them that can't be said within the rules here, and why you need to invite them to another site to say it. That's all.

I too have a problem with poor scholarship and poor behaviour, but that wasn't the basis of my comparison of some Heathen attitudes with Christian Fundamentalists. My observation is that a blind and unwavering insistence on the supremacy of Lore over UPG is exactly what Christian Fundamentalism is also about. To suggest that the Gods no longer speak is, in my opinion, dangerously close to consigning them to history rather than hailing them as living, speaking Deities. That's the attitude I have a problem with. Of course UPG needs to be examined and correctly 'discerned', and both the community and the Lore are reference points for that. But I believe that we need to take that risk if we don't want to end up with a fettered religion which doesn't speak to modern humankind, and I believe it to be insulting to the Gods if we suggest that they are no longer capable of speaking (or acting). I'm sorry if I didn't express myself clearly enough previously.
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« Reply #41: June 12, 2011, 12:29:50 pm »

I had the pleasure of meeting Raven a couple of weeks ago (long after I had read this book), and can only suggest that getting to know the person (I also correspond with Galina by email) might help to disabuse you of what looks on the surface like unwarranted character assassination. It's just this kind of attitude which, like the original poster of this question, puts people off getting closer to the Old Gods of the North. I have a suspicion that many North American Asatru have migrated from a background in fundamentalist Christianity, and brought their fundamentalist attitudes with them. Personally I think its a shame, and that a more generous attitude would be a better advertisement for our religion.

I can only say that personally this book (and Galina Krasskova's earlier 'Introducing the Northern Tradition' helped me greatly when I first came to the religion. I consider myself to be a critical thinker, and note that you've chosen not to quote any references, sources or authorities......I've had a brief look at the Asatru Lore forum (since that's what it is) and wonder why you would need to invite someone to another forum to further their 'education' - presumably because what you have to say might contravene the rules here? Call me cynical, but.......


*** MOD HAT ON ***First, please do not accuse people of violating the rules in a thread. If you think this forum's rules have been violated, please use the "report to Moderator" feature and report the message, giving your reasons for doing so. Accussing people of violating forum rules in a message is [playing moderator which is clearly again the rules of this forum.

Second, stating an opinion that some author's scholarship in a book is not up to the standards the poster expects/wants is hardly "character assassination."

Third, Bob has permission from the Co-Hosts to mention his board and threads thereon whenever appropriate. There is a lot of Asatru specific information and discussion there that is unlikely to repeated on a more general Pagan interfaith board like TC. Assuming that the reason he is doing so is to avoid the rules of this board is silly -- and again seems to be playing at being a moderator here.

Please re-read this forum's rules. Thank you.
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« Reply #42: June 12, 2011, 09:42:43 pm »

And I'm going to have to counter this with a highly NOT recommended. Kaldera and Krasskova both have villainous reputations amongst heathens in general. Their research is full of MUS (Made Up Sh*t) that might sound like it's 'real' on the surface but doesn't hold up with even the slightest bit of critical thinking on the part of the reader. Now, we ALL use MUS in our observances. We have to. There are unfortunate gaps in our knowledge (although not as many as some believe). But when a person's MUS flies in the face of what is actually known and documented, then it becomes a serious issue. I am not going into exhaustive detail in this venue, as it has been discussed at length elsewhere.

If any are interested in further opinion on the subject of these two authors, feel free to search through Asatru Lore's archives and refer questions to me there.

My personal recommendation still stands at reading source materials for yourself (Eddas prose and poetic, sagas, Havamal, Voluspa, etc etc), then make up one's OWN mind. Don't be spoon fed knowledge by someone who may or may not have a good grasp themselves on the lore.

I feel like I should weigh in on this.

I own both "Exploring the Northern Tradition" and "Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner" and those two books, along with Diana Paxson's "Essential Asatru" were my first "Heathen-ish" books, all three of them have received flak for poor scholarship and an over-reliance on UPG.
I thought that Northern Tradition Pagan was an appropriate label to describe my views and practices, but I have since disassociated myself from the label due to the allegations of criminal activity from some prominent members of the community, but also because I found that I was being lumped in with said criminals and called some nasty names by complete strangers.

However (and this is not a jab at you, Bob) when I see comments to the effect of "read the Eddas and Sagas and go from there" I can't help but think that it would be like a Christian saying "read the Bible, it has everything you need in order to practice Christianity", when the Bible alone certainly wouldn't be enough to practice Catholicism, which also heavily relies on tradition. Call me crazy, but I don't think relying on primary sources alone is going to cut it, and I don't think people should feel as if they need a PhD to practice religion, nor do they want to spend years going through dry academic tome after dry academic tome. I know Asatru is called "the religion with homework" but I think that at some point it stops being "homework" and starts being "ridiculous".

I think that if Krasskova and Kaldera's books have anything going for them, it's that they're accessible. They're what's on the shelves right now, and they're also relatively inexpensive (at least compared to some of the more academic works I've seen, and (for better or worse) those are the books that end up in the hands of seekers.
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« Reply #43: June 13, 2011, 12:28:50 am »

Just a note... the SIG has a Recommended Resources thread stickied at the top of the SIG page. People interested in Asatru and Heathenry should have plenty there to keep them busy. And a lot of them ARE secondary sources. I took Bob's "read the primaries and go from there" as meaning to read the primary sources first with an unbiased, fresh perspective. Then take a gander and see what secondary sources might most interest you or you feel you might most need. Since you bring up the Christianity analogy, would it be so outrageous for a converting Christian to be told to go read the Bible first, then maybe look at (or concurrently look at) xyz about their specific denomination? I don't think so. Disclaimer: this comment is not meant to speak to the role of the lore in Asatru and heathenry. I think there are other thread(s) about the role of the lore.

Also, two general notes as SIG leader.

One, this thread is getting slightly off topic. Wink That sometimes happens, but the thread is going down a road that the SIG has gone before in other recent threads. We have yet to reach a conclusion on the debate regarding the "reconstructionist / modern" dichotomy. I doubt a neat, bow-tied conclusion is possible. This SIG is not a committee for hashing it out either, although I do NOT shy away from discussing it. Just realize it's not the purpose of this SIG and it's not likely to reach a finale to satisfy everyone. Let's have a community minded purpose in our responses, not just individuals arguing over items on which they centrally disagree.

Two, and this isn't any sort of rule but rather me typing out loud on a possible point of reflection. I'm not sure how I feel about the comments coming up about the merits or demerits of various Asatru / heathen authors and figures. I know a lot of it is with good reason (some with more reason than others!), and I think it's valuable for newbies to know such things. At the same time, I think it can be quite off-putting for newbies and come across as gossip. A bit of a catch-22! Like I said, just a thought.

EDIT: We also have a Sources to Avoid thread. I just stickied it. Further discussion of non-recommended sources probably fits better there. I'm going to go link some of the responses of this thread there as well.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 12:47:20 am by Hyacinth Belle » Logged

"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #44: June 13, 2011, 08:50:31 am »

I too have a problem with poor scholarship and poor behaviour, but that wasn't the basis of my comparison of some Heathen attitudes with Christian Fundamentalists. My observation is that a blind and unwavering insistence on the supremacy of Lore over UPG is exactly what Christian Fundamentalism is also about. To suggest that the Gods no longer speak is, in my opinion, dangerously close to consigning them to history rather than hailing them as living, speaking Deities. That's the attitude I have a problem with. Of course UPG needs to be examined and correctly 'discerned', and both the community and the Lore are reference points for that. But I believe that we need to take that risk if we don't want to end up with a fettered religion which doesn't speak to modern humankind, and I believe it to be insulting to the Gods if we suggest that they are no longer capable of speaking (or acting). I'm sorry if I didn't express myself clearly enough previously.


1) Christian fundamentalists impose their own worldview and thoughts on a revealed scripture... Heathen reconstructionists tries to do exactly the opposite.

2) No one is suggesting that the gods "no longer speeks to us", however, in many recon communities there is a general consensus saying that nothing suggests the gods take much interest in average Joe the Plumber ("deus ex machima" happens to kings and important people).

3)You may believe all you want to, but proof is lacking or to the contrary:
 A) Recon groups in the different branches of heathenry have been existing for several years now, and I can assure you that there is nothing fettered or abnormal about it (positive interaction between the kin group and the community and gaining worth within the community does speak to "modern humankind").
B) No one claims that they are no longer capable of speaking/acting, and I have a hard time seeing how you insult gods by trying to live according to the thew and worldview that they themselves lay down.
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