You know, there is a real disconnect throughout the community when we talk about our heathen kindreds, our heathen families, our heathen communities. There is this abject fear from the left when we speak about our heathen children, a bizarre sort of aversion reflex that is hard for most to understand, until they are exposed to the White Power freaks, who are unashamedly running copies of 1930’s Nazi German pure Aryan children propaganda.
The problem with speaking of our Heathen families is that somehow, the racists seem to have won the battle, and even the inclusive heathen groups seem to have accepted the assumption that heathen families indicates obviously white. When the hell did that happen?
The Heathen Freehold has never been pure anything. Born from the far scattered peoples of British Columbia on Canada’s wild and largely forgotten west coast, we were far enough away from the centers of heathen development we had to find our own way to do just about everything. I mean we have Anglo-Saxon Heathens, Frankish, Germanics, Icelandic style Asatru, just about everything under the Heathen umbrella. We have had many with native blood, Asian, African, it has never mattered to us. We were alone for a long time, on the west coast, finding our own way, with the rest of the Heathen community far off doing their own thing, hearing only snippets of far off happenings. We casually threw around Asatru and Heathen as the same thing, as we missed a lot of the big divisive fights that defined Heathenry in places where our kind were concentrated enough to divide against each other and fight; we had to either come together and accept our differences, or just admit we would have no community to practice in at all.
At the time I though us poorer for the lack of connection to the broader community, but now I thank the gods for giving us the time to establish our own thew, our own culture. We are not great, all knowing, or blessed with bells and whistles envied by communities throughout the globe. We are largely rural, widely scattered, and face real difficulties in coming together in great numbers with any frequency. What we do have is an understanding of who we are, and we have a very clear idea about who and what we are meaning when we say Heathen Family.
In a discussion about Fascism vs Communism in the early days of the last century, the French Prime Minister listened to the rhetoric and then finally cut through it all and demanded “enough theory, show me the men!” In the end, it always comes down to people. Words can mean anything, but people are real.
Meet Aaron, and Kate. Aaron came to the Freehold a long time ago, as a young man. I had the chance to see him grow and mature into a fine man, a proud sailor in Her Majesties Canadian Navy, and to see him find his perfect wife. I had the honour to take Kate’s fosterman’s oath, when she came to discover heathenry. I had the very great honour to aid them taking their oaths to each other when the asked me to marry them. I had the very great honour of taking Kate’s full oath, pledging herself to the Freehold, and to Freo in particular. This is who I think of when I think of a Heathen Family. In time baby Audrey came along, a pure bred heathen, a baby conceived and born from two heathen parents and raised within a Heathen kindred.
Audrey shines in our eyes as my own children, those of the other parents in the Freehold as the image of what we think of as a Heathen child. Our heathen children, our communities children. This is what a pure bred heathen looks like, this is not the only face, there are version in every gender, age range, hair and skin colour. The problem that I have with the community, not our community, but the broader heathen community is that ten percent of the community seems to think that anyone who would not fit in a Hitler Youth or League of German Girls poster cannot be a heathen child, and the other ninety percent think that somehow we are supposed to be ashamed of taking pride in the heathen families, heathen children, and gods forbid you should ever praise the heathen mothers in the community, because somehow fear of a fringe group of hate filled social outcasts has made acknowledging the beauty of a heathen family somehow suspect.
I sometimes long for the pre-internet days when we didn’t’ know what the rest of Heathenry was doing, and when we had no idea how special our community actually was. Well change has to begin somewhere, and it may as well be here.
This is what a Heathen family looks like. This is Aaron, Kate and Audrey. They are ours, every one of them. They look around a gathering of our Heathen Freehold and claim all they see as their own, as we all claim them as our own. I am not saying that race doesn’t exist, our society has prejudice built in on lots of levels, and it will take a long time to get rid of those lines, and I sadly fear we will just replace them with some other convenient way to divide the people and distract the bulk of the citizens from the few who cheerfully exploit all of us while we bicker over invented fault lines. I am saying that heathen does not imply any race. Heathen woman does not imply must be mother, many in the community are not so drawn, and they are as much a part of the community as those who are. Heathen man does not mean Viking imitator, or closet white supremacist; actually that would be really funny considering the complexion of some of our leading men. Heathen child implies only this; a child that was born to heathen parents, who grows up in the sure and certain knowledge that they are not tainted by sin for the crime of being born, that they are in fact blessed by the gods, wights and ancestors, embraced by their community, and accepted for who they are, as they are aided by the community in the journey to discover who they may one day become.
I honestly refuse to give up being proud of our Heathen families. I reject utterly the shame the inclusive community feels, even as I reject the racist dogma, so poorly wrapped in imitation heathen trappings, that the fringe scum try to pretend is heathenry. It is time we, as one small community, simply admit the rest of society has it wrong, and we got this one right. We will hold to the thew of our people, and yes, we aren’t ashamed to call our Freeholders our people, and keep doing it our way.
This is a Heathen family, we have lots of them, and to our eyes they all shine the same. If your eyes see a problem with the differences between them, then the problem is in your eyes, and the mind behind them, not in our families, nor in our pride and honest joy we take in them.
We may not be the biggest or most important Heathen group out there, and that’s OK. We are a tiny little heathen village, quietly going about building and enjoying the community that has been our own since 2002. We have been living as inclusive heathens since before we knew there was a universalist/folkish divide we were supposed to fight about, and will continue to do so. We take pride in our community, and in the families and individuals that make it live. We will not pretend otherwise simply because “some people” get disturbed when heathens express pride in the families that make up our community, or out of fear that “some other people” will have an issue with the skin tone or hair colour of some of our children. This is our Heathen Freehold, this is our village so to speak, these are our people. It is enough we understand that, if the rest of the world can’t, perhaps it is their time to fix that.
For the record, if you object to being characterized as racist ” fringe scum try to pretend is heathenry”, then you are already admitting the label ought to be applied to you. That should perhaps be your clue to fix that.