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Switch to Forum Live View Confused about race and "folkishness"
6 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2008 - 2:20AM #11
Svipdagr
Posts: 34
Hail Nanette,

You will find that the "race issue" is a big one in Asatru.  It has been an issue since the '80's and it will always be an issue.  Part of it stems from the fear of losing our folkway if too much inter-racial breeding happens because all of those wonderfully distinct peoples and cultures will be lost.  Cultures that merge and swallow eachother is just a kinder and gentler genocide.  There is a big difference between change for adaptation and not giving a crap about your heritage or where it will end up hundreds of years down the line.

Part of it is simply due to a small but loud racist voice.  Asatru, being an ethnic faith however, is prone to this as are all ethnic faiths.  There are racist Shintoists, Hindus, Jews, Voduns, and Natives who would complain and criticize just as loudly over a white or black person wanting to join their folkway.  However, here lies the tricky part.  Racism is stupid.  Hate is a wasteful and draining emotion that can only lead to real world damage.  On the other hand, the basis of that hate, is correct. 

Let me put it this way:  Let's say you have some really cool custom in your family.  It has been handed down for generations.  Now let's say some close Asian friends picked it up.  You are flattered and don't feel weird about it.  Now, let us say that a son or daughter marries outside your "race" and their family picks it up.  Another family, friends of your children also start practicing it.  Problem one...now it is not special anymore.  Now, what was once a family jewel so to speak, is a common community stone.  Problem two, fast forward a few generations and those asians will have changed your custom, maybe making it more asian or getting rid of it entirely.  Your great grandchildren who might not even resemble your family line now might naturally be more attracted to a completely different folk and after marriage adopt their ways entirely from a sense of detatchment and rootlessness.  This is the same fear that Folkish Asatruars have with Asatru.  Asatru should have been the most important of all customs and it was lost for a thousand years.  We have it back now.  Changed and full of 21st century problems...but it is back and some of us are quite concerned as to if it will even survive.

Another part of it is boogeyman white guilt and not wanting to offend the PC police out there.  You can't have it both ways.  You can't want to raise the raven banner and reconnect with your ancestry and keep on about how bad and mean white people are to others.  These people need to just choose a side and get on with it.

The last and honestly biggest part of the issue is just simple ideological difference.  Lugh sees Asatru as something that can be universally applied.  I do not.  I adore HInduism and Hindu philosophy.  I could never be a Hindu.  Aside from the obvious that I am not Indian or raised in a Hindu culture, there are certain emotional and metaphysical connections that I do not and could not "get".  Intellectually understand?  Sure.  Aesthetically appreciate?  Certainly.  Connect to on that deeply spiritual and gut level...that level where I would say the Folk-Soul resides?  Not in a million years.  I have Angle, Saxon, Danish, Norwegian, Norman, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh blood in my veins.   I was raised speaking English, and understanding the world through a Germanic and rural sense of ethics.  I was raised with holidays and customs that hearken back to my Germanic Heathen ancestors.  Aside from finding Asatru and knowing that I found home...I was more or less raised a Heathen already.  For me it was more than that though.  I always had some belief, and I always had been enthralled with Europe and European high culture and history.  This was never encouraged...it was just there.  It was the Folk-Soul and Odhinn and Freyr and Frigga and all my Disir...all of 'em tuggin' at me.  It was simple.

On a side note, if you think the race stuff is odd...there are Scandinavian Heathens who think all of us over here are simply mad.  Not because of the culture though...no...but because we just simply don't live on the land.  Now, of course if it were a perfect world we could all have our folkways intact and still be over there on the land...but Urd decrees different things for different times.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2008 - 3:04PM #12
Svipdagr
Posts: 34
BTW Nanette...being a Folkish Heathen...I also voted for Obama.  In such a diverse country where the only thing really uniting us is a legal culture and american pop media, there is little room for divisive ethnic politics and we all should vote our conscious in the most rational and deeply considered way possible.

Another thing to consider is that Folkishness will mean different things to different people.  Some Folkish Heathens believe that as long as the blood line is intact that the culture and faith will magically re-develop.  I do not believe this.  One's ancestry is a tug, a hook, a starting place.  The real meat of the issue is culture and heritage.  It is indeed a nature vs. nurture arguement.  Then to add to the confusion, you will have Folkish Heathens that eroneously believe that Celts and Germans and Slavs should be one big happy folk and all of us should be Asatru.  First off, that is just a slap in the face to the Celtic and Slavic peoples.  Secondly, while not neccessarily racist, it is a perfect breeding ground for racism.  Thirdly, it is really just white universalism and any truly Folkish person wouldn't stand for such a concept.

A last thing to consider since many of us are of mixed ancestry to begin with(which is why the white universalists like that point of view) is that when we decide to embark on this mission of spiritual reclemation, there will be things that we will have to let go of in order to move on.  One thing is the idea that a Folk is a solid organism.  It isn't.  In a single family line, depending on who marries who and what traditions are passed on, that family could consider themselves German for a few generations and then slip into being Irish and then into being Swedish.  The question then falls on the individual...who are you? 

Speaking as a Folkish Heathen, your ancestry can certainly lead the way...but you will have to make up your own mind.  I have Celtic ancestry for instance.  I enjoy the music, the language, the food, the myths, which are just as much my heritage as the Germanic side(ok, maybe not as much)...but I chose the Germanic heritage, my English heritage, to mold my life by because that is who I am and who my family is.  It is not an easy task and all of us have different answers.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 06, 2008 - 4:43AM #13
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658
Don't let them confuse you, race and folk are only coincidentally related.

Race is a genetic definition that equates to a group of tribal specific alleles, that is itself just an accumulated mean based on the families that made up that tribal set.  Again, those tribes that are worth remembering never stayed static enough to remain pure, as they traded, conquored, settled, and generally spread the genetic wealth around.  Race is a theoretical construct, redefined by every generation, and by every culture. 

Folk is real and living however.  The root of the folk is the family.  Family are all those who are born into, marry into, are adopted into, or are bound by oath, by blood shed, or struggles endured, as part of the family.  Those families that are linked to each other are a kindred, and the kindreds are woven together into the Folk.

I have cousins (and a half brother I'm not supposed to know about), that are part black, or native.  They are Mainers, they are my kindred, the blood we share would make them so even if they were bright purple.  They are thus part of the folk.

There are lots and lots of people around who are just as pale as you please, and yet share none of my blood.  These are not kindred of mine.  They may or may not be part of the folk, I do not know or care about all of the kindreds of this crowded little orb, but their pallor is not sufficient to make them kin to me.

If the gods have called you, then they know you as folk.  Unlike myself, they will know the truth of your blood.  Given the choice between accepting the choices of the Aesir and Vanir as to who is folk, or a bunch of people who think there is some magic color code that will tell if one drop of our sacred ancestors blood is in you...................well, I know who I'm going to believe.

I am folkist.  I fart in the general direction of racists (!) Its all the seriousness they deserve.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2008 - 9:10AM #14
NanetteJ
Posts: 11
You all are great! I am much relieved to find that, as I had hoped, Folkish does not have to equal racist. I am overjoyed to see so many people sharing my concerns and my views. It makes me more certain than ever that Asatru is my spiritual home.

I think I agree with John, race and folk are only coincidentally related. I agree with a lot of stuff Svipdagr said, too. I am English, Welsh, Irish, a little bit of French, and possibly way back some Danish. (My Yorkshire great-grandfather looked Danish according to my mother.) I studied Hinduism for a bit, but I always felt like an outsider. But I don't know if there is a "folk-soul". Always pick the simplest explanation, right? It could just be that we are biologically programmed to identify with people who look like us. That coupled with the little bit of tradition that has been passed down causes us to feel a sense of belonging when we see the roots of those traditions in the practices of our ancestors.

So I guess I'm not Folkish. But having learned more about the Folkish philosophy, I understand it better and no longer fear it.

Thanks for all the well-thought out responses. You have been a big help to me :)
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2 years ago  ::  Jan 13, 2013 - 4:23AM #15
Followerofodin
Posts: 3

I haven't gotten that from the AFA at all. Of course I'm still new to Heathenism. Like you, I'm drawn to Asatru because of my ancestors. I tried other paths before but I've always come back to this one. I've decided to give up and learn more about this path.

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