Folkish Heathenry and Racism

I’ve been reading quite a bit recently about “Folkish” and “Universalist” Heathens.


Folkish Heathens believe that only people of Nordic ancestry should honor the pantheon of deities of the pre-Christian northwestern European countries … Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden), Iceland, Finland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. 



(Map courtesy of Nathan Newman)

Universalist Heathens believe that anyone can honor the Nordic Pantheon.

The problem arises when Universalists call the Folkish people racist.

Folkish” – honestly, this is shorthand for “racist”. There is an emphasis on needing to have ancestry (never really qualified, sometimes Slavs are turned away, sometimes anyone with particular skin tones are turned away despite ancestry or citizenship.) There is often a focus on the “folk soul”/Volksgeist, an invention of the Romantic period that was designed to instill a sense of nationalism. Sometimes people confuse this with Folktro/Forn Sed emphasis on folk beliefs and folk practices. Sometimes new people confuse Folkish with “not-eclectic and with a focus on keeping things in a Norse-Germanic cultural context”. 

Folkish Heathens come in two general flavors: blatantly racist, with white supremacist and separatist rhetoric, and those who adopt more subtly racist stances, sometimes without realizing that they are racist stances. For an example of the second type, some Folkish Heathens are not entirely exclusionary but feel that people with particular ancestries have a stronger calling or claim or understanding Heathenry and that people with a particular ancestry can “connect better” to the Heathen Gods. (This is usually tied to the Volksgeist concept). People in this second type will also usually assume, based on skin tone, that someone who is “pale enough” has the “required ancestry” and won’t aggressively inquire about a new Heathen’s genealogy, while someone who “doesn’t look white enough” is immediately questioned and asked why they didn’t look to their ancestors culture and religion – the assumption here being that they cannot possibly have the “required” heritage if they don’t have a certain appearance, that they cannot possibly have lived in or be citizens of modern countries where Heathenry was historically practiced, and that it’s weird and somewhat threatening (but flattering) that they want to join “another ethnicity’s” religion and culture. There will be some cliche lines about Every Traditional Culture and Religion is Beautiful and Should Be Preserved, with an unspoken “so go over there and preserve your culture and religion over there and leave mine to people who look like me and don’t make me uncomfortable”. There’s also a sort of undertone that Scandinavian and Germanic culture and folk traditions, lore, and the like are “endangered” and that letting “other people in” will water it down and somehow destroy it.” – Grumpy Lokean Elder

I consider myself Folkish, but I’m not a racist. For one thing, I’m a solitary Ásatrúr and am only under the influence of Alfather’s wisdom. It’s none of my business who the Holy Powers call …. my duty is to welcome them when they are called.

HOSPITALITY is one of the 9 Noble Virtues.

Full Definition of HOSPITABLE

a :  given to generous and cordial reception of guests

b :  promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome

c :  offering a pleasant or sustaining environment

:  readily receptive :  open <hospitable to new ideas>
— hos·pi·ta·bly  adverb – Merriam-Webster
Not all Folkish Heathens are racist even though some have gone to that extreme.  But it’s not hospitable to call all of us that.  Hell, I was racist when I was a Christian but I’ve learned more and better things.
Photo courtesy of THINKPROGRESS
So remember, even though I’m a Folkish Heathen I’m not racist.  We need to band together and smash racism when it tries to use The Way to promote their twisted ideas.

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