Favour of the Gods
So, I wasn’t going to say anything about my recent experiences here, but then I saw all the utter shite @lady-feral has been getting over the last few days, and well, I think it may actually be worth mentioning.
As background, I’ve been part of my local Heathen moot since its inception. It’s actually a regional one, meandering gently across the NW of the UK, so that all its members can get to one or two. Its purpose is for Heathens to get together, to chat and get to know each other - just generally be able to spend some time around other Heathens, and exchange knowledge if you’re new. We maintain a Facebook group for comms purposes, so we often get people wanting to join who we haven’t met first and have to make a judgement call based on FB profile. etc.
I was recently made a co-mod, because the founder and chief moderator was on holiday. We’re friends, have been for years, and he trusts my judgement. I’m also a cripple - I have Cerebral Palsy, use a wheelchair, and recently had to have half my foot amputated after it ulcerated for Some Reason.
Recently, we had a guy join, and it soon came out that he identified as Folkish.
Now, as a rule, that’s potentially a Red Flag. I say potentially, because sometimes someone doesn’t know it descends from Völkisch and associated movements. Sometimes they are just new, unaware of the toxic stew of racism, nineteenth century Romantic Nationalism, and pseudoscience. Unaware of that word implies, in many quarters. So we have two choices, being as our group requires that: you respect the right of other group-members to be Heathen, regardless of sexuality, gender, or ethnicity or ‘race’.
1. We can instaban and potentially alienate, isolate, or drive further into the Folkish Realms, someone who might not know what’s dodgy about such things.
2. We can enquire about this person’s belief, where they’re coming from, and give them enough rope to hang themselves - and in the process, watch for those who might ‘Like’ or post agreement with the ever-present post courting the very thinnest edge of respectability - or even those over it, posted when the mods are busy.
As a rule, we choose 2, for our FB group. It’s better they reveal their colours online than in person. Others might handle such a thing in another way, and that’s fine too. To cut a long story short, this person eventually launched into a classic anti semitic rant, not to mention mention a whole bunch of pseudoscience.
(That creaking sound you hear is the sound of someone hanging themselves on the provided rope.)
What has this got to do with the crap @lady-feral is getting? Well, I got a message from said arsehole - changing my message nickname to “Fake Heathen” and then informing me he was glad that the gods “[D]id not favour me in this life :D”
I assume he meant this as some sort of You’re not Heathen, because the gods hate you so much they allowed you to be crippled implication? I don’t know - it was confusing, because he’s obviously not read the Havamal, which pretty much suggests it’s better to be crippled, than, y’know, dead.
When you’ve got a combat veteran getting shit for activism from armchair warriors who think War and Warriors are Great, either because she believes in a world where things could be better for minorities and that Fascism and White Supremacy are ridiculous and dangerous and should be resisted, or because she happens to be a woman?
(Multiple sources suggest the Allfather was-as-a-woman on various occasions, just fyi.)
When you’ve got a disabled person being told the gods did not favour them, despite surviving things that kill thousands every year, having a loving family, partner, and just enough to live comfortably, in a place they own?
When that person could have died - and in fact pretty much did, but came the fuck back?
You begin to understand that for some of these folks will always move the goalposts. You will never ever be right, or a proper/real Heathen unless you’re exactly like them. The things about you they dislike, that they are disgusted by so badly that they want you gone unless you fit their cookie cutter mould?
If you’re OK, if you gain continued life when you should be dead? That threatens the fact that they’re the favoured ones. If you, the supposedly degenerate, the vile continue to prosper? To face your wyrd head on, and grin and smile, despite its bindings?
What would that say about them?
It might suggest that they were not supreme, favoured. That their vaunted, non-existent, genetic purity, is not enough?
Because those other-than-them still exist, and despite the attempts to eliminate or cow those folks, we still exist. We remain and that bothers the shit out of them. Because an industrialised war machine couldn’t stop us; it could slaughter thousands, millions of us, even, but still we remain.
Nevertheless, she, and we, persisted.
And still they beat us, still they try to kill us. Still they surge with the momentary high of destroying the things, the symbols, the people they hate. “This is our world, our faith, our country.” they proclaim as they kick, they punch, they smash. It makes them to feel good to exert their power, gives them agency, because they feel outnumbered.
But the rush fades, the adrenalin drops. They look and see another target, and another and another. So they take a knife, a gun, a bomb and they kill many, knowing they’ll be caught, caged, or more probably killed. They dream, they beg, for their life to be filled with that agency, for their last moments to be making some sort of change.
They don’t want to be their ordinary selves, because their ordinary selves could be run over by a bus. They could die on the toilet for fucks sake, a stroke, an aneurysm, a heart attack. Cheek pressing tile, watching the dark unfurl amidst the pain, wondering what it was all for. Or, perhaps even worse, they could survive the stroke, become crippled, need a wheelchair, require someone to wipe their arse.
They could become one of us.
We are a reminder of what could be, what wyrd might deal them. Might bind them tight as a weaver can. They dream of the onrush, perhaps desire Valhalla, or a martyrs heaven. Because it’s the same impulse that drove the Crusaders, the same that drives Daesh - filled with the rush, Us against Them. And truly, they feel alone, lost without it.
Of course, a byproduct of such things, of any tight knit group is access to shared resources - the Templars grew rich enough to be a bank, PMC’s profit in warzones the world over and Daesh gains funding from drugs, from selling off stolen antiquities
Money and power, weapons and land and numbers, exclusion and castigation. All ways to demonstrate agency when others have none, to demonstrate the favour of god(s), the apparent superiority of their group, their Way over another.
(Except gods, especially Heathen ones, are notoriously fickle according to the lore - Odin’s heroes are often deserted mid-battle. One Eye’s spear flies over both sets of combatants, after all. Whatever happens, he wins.)
Both sides, Them, and Us, are defined by the other.
Those who claim superiority are constantly measuring themselves against those they deem inferior. Even if they exterminated, removed, or exiled themselves from the realm of their so-called inferiors? Then they would not be superior - merely all there was, to rise or fall on their own merits, their own ability or lack thereof to navigate whatever structures were in place - they would make their own scapegoats, would find others to blame, even within themselves.
Those they hate, fear, are disgusted by, are well used to the limitations, the way wyrd - that weaving of consequence, of action and reaction - might render the path you’re on crooked. Yet still we prosper - still some of us know the onrush of poetry and song, of word from word giving word from us.
Some of us are bound noose-tight, the limitations of our life allowing us a joy, a surging fury that infuses everything in our life. Perhaps this a god’s favour? To have joy despite being the the thing that so many fear, despite being the horrible reminder of what may be dealt to us, by a universe that is not, nor will it ever be, ours to control.
I know that I cannot control any hate slung my way after this. If and when any comes my way, I’ll shrug. If this gets reblogged, mocked and torn to pieces, so be it. If people choose to do that, if it makes them feel better, so be it. If leaving a reply gives you the rush of a need satisfied, or an urge to troll go for it.
I really have had worse, and I’m still here. If you want to join the myriad people who’ve pointed and laughed, mocked, thrown stones both literal and metaphorical, be aware that this is nothing clever, that you’re not distinguishing yourself from anyone. You’re literally nothing new.
I remain. I’m here and now, and the fact is, some of you who hate me for what I am? Some of you may become like me. I look forward to the day when you finally bring yourself to look in the mirror and see me there too, waiting.