Bow Before No One. A Guide on Heathen Individualism.

The Yggdrasil Artist sadly unknown

The Yggdrasil
Artist sadly unknown

The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous and confusing place, we all know this…. and in reaction to the actions of several governments there have been some disturbing trends that are shaping up and taking root both in Heathenry and the country at large that need to be addressed.

Yes, this blog is “The Lokian Asatuar”-  but I remind you all that I am also deeply committed to Tyr, and the levels of injustice, division, discrimination, intolerance, and idiocy are making a mockery of our Faith and our Gods.

First of all- I want you to look at yourself.  I do not care if you are Heathen or not- what color your skin is, or your ancestry.   You have the capacity to be a God with your creativity.

You were granted incredible gifts- the gifts of thought, intellect, words, feelings, intuition, compassion, capacity to seek knowledge, to create, destroy and to give and receive love.  We are the children of the great ones, honored ancestors, and the children of our Gods, whether they be Norse or other pantheons.

But as Norse/Germanic/Vanic/Baltic etc, one constant has remained clear time and time again: Our Gods do not require us to bow before them… we honor them by standing proudly, speaking clearly and honestly, and representing ourselves with honor and good frith.

Remember Bragi who so impressed the Gods he was made one of them- so too, we hold the same potential within us all.

Now, if our Gods are not asking us to bow before them-  why on Midgard would you bow before another human being?  I am not simply speaking of  just before leaders of countries, corporations, or idols of any sort; but any man or woman, period, including our own priests, priestesses, shamans, and chiefs.  There are no Heathen Gurus who will ask you to bow at their feet; and yet,   there are many in this world who I have heard claiming they are wolves in one breath while saying with the other that they are “not permitted” contact with others by some edict passed by which ever elder or Goethe they are speaking of at the time.

False, my little sheep.  Bow to no one,  anyone who says to you that you must have permission to interact with whom you choose is no friend of yours.  You are not wolves, you are falling victim to group-think…  keeping one’s religious practice private and secret is perfectly fine-  however, it is DANGEROUS to isolate yourselves at this point in history from your families, communities, and close your eyes to the world at large.

If you own a cell phone, a computer, a car, collect a paycheck, or have a bank account- nothing you do is ever truly private.   What I am seeing is our world community even outside of heathenry being intentionally divided against itself:  Tea party vs. the Occupy Movement.  Folkish verses Universalist verses Tribalist.

STOP.  Collaborate….and LISTEN:  A small, independent, isolated group is nothing more than a potential scapegoat for the powers that be in this government and others…. you are not saving yourselves by pretending to be survivalist- you are making yourselves unintentional targets for future censure, discrimination, and false persecution.   Prepare your bug out bags and be branded, my friends- all your preparations make you look like easy pickings when the fingers are pointed to the source of the next “terrorist” action- and, the next thing you know, you will find yourselves outmatched, outgunned, and helpless.

There is a single man loose in Boston today, and fully armored tanks are in the streets of Massachusetts.  It does not matter how many magazines you have stored, how much food, or how “private” you make yourselves- you are in danger.

I have said often in this blog that we need to UNIFY.  But I wonder who is listening?   Military leaders as far back as Sun Tzu, Boudicca, and Alexander the Great knew the best way to subjugate a society and conquer it’s inhabitants  is to have it divided against itself. Cyrus the Great unified the Persian empire by allowing the practice of all faiths within his borders, drew up the first codex for human rights, and
held one of the most ancient empires with a steady hand….and empire from which many of us are descended.

Here we are, I am hearing of Heathen groups where their members are told to withdraw from the community- they are being ordered who they may/may not speak with- where they may go, who they may associate with, what they are and are not to do.

This is NOT Heathenry. 

Again, we do not bow before any man or woman, we stand for our families, we were among the first traders, and our Gods roamed the realms in search of knowledge- they did not burrow in caves like frightened rodents.

How to be safe:  Make friends easily, exclude no one.  The more people you know and who know you in good frith, the less likely it is you will be a target for being “anti-social”.  Practice being honorable with your words, thoughts, and actions.   People of poor quality will make you their enemy; but far more people will see your worth as friend, they will know you by your hospitality, the truth of your words, the strength of your commitments, and your ability to honor promises made.

There are numerous platitudes out there that are appropriate for this moment: “Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything”, “Those with no secrets tell no lies,” “If you have enemies, good- it means you stood for something.”

Fuck this:  Here is an entire PAGE of quotes on the matter found HERE.

Basically, what this boils down to is as follows:  Finding people of like mind, like background, and similar values is FANTASTIC- however, it stunts your emotional and spiritual growth if you deny yourself the opportunity to make an effort to understand people who are not like you.  Instead of fearing this- embrace it.   History has proven that by sharing our practices and beliefs with other cultures and people allow them to record us in their histories as well as our own- thereby further preserving our cultural heritage.

We do not dilute our personal spiritualities by expressing our truths without fear to the world- and if you have fear regarding your values and belief systems, perhaps you should re-examine your motivations and purpose for that belief.  If you fear losing friends for speaking the truth, losing family for being honorable, then those you lose do not deserve you.

My own family is divided right now by the tea party movement, by differing thoughts on government, and other useless things that we cannot control- and yet, they do not wish for reconciliation despite remembering times of love and peace in the past.  This is true for the larger world and should be our greatest shame and sadness.

There are people in this community and within my own family who DESPISE me who were once close- yes, it hurts me deeply, but I would also welcome reconciliation with most for the highest good.
However, this is with the exception of those who intentionally spread deliberate lies- those people are of no use to anyone, not the Gods, not the Folk, and I trust in my faith and my Gods that those who cause division will find the divine names they call on with bad intentions in their hearts fall to judgement of their Gods and despair over their frithless actions.

If you see injustice and say nothing, you are culpable by your silence as well.  If you witness someone gaslighting another person and you know the truth to be different, you are honor bound to speak up.

If you see an Oath being broken, approach the Oathbreaker directly then go together to find the solution- do not turn your back on your brothers and sisters, you do not know what pain they live in.

If your fear is because you hold a truth that is unpopular, (such as being a Lokian), you do your Gods no Honor in your silence.

If your fear is that you will be judged for your prejudice, then I suggest that perhaps you may wish to reconsider that prejudice or share it- intuition can be the first warning to find cover for an impending storm.

What I want to emphasize most is that in Heathenry/Asatru/ et all is that YOU are responsible for YOUR own actions.  YOU are the LEADER of yourself-  If you follow a Goethe, Gythia, Priest, Priestess, Elder, Chieftan, or Shaman who is asking you to isolate yourself, you are in the wrong place- separation is the precursor to being controlled….  the exact thing that you are likely being warned against in the first place.

By the words of Tyr, find your own voice-  find your own truths- find your own way to the Gods, and share your knowledge, wisdom, and creativity as widely as you possibly can.

Share your voice, raise the horn high at sumbel….and if you do not wish to hail what another has spoken, you can exempt yourself from their wyrd simply by either taking a small unobtrusive step backwards, or by crossing your arms and looking downward and not echoing their Heil/Hail with your own.

There have been things I have seen at sumbel I have wanted no part of such as: I have seen Sumbels where Oaths have been made to kill one’s own relatives, who have hailed Himmler, or the author of the Turner Diaries.   You can still share a horn without sharing their sentiments.

Every single person you meet holds wisdom within them-  you can speak to the foreigner and the racist on the same couch and find points of commonality.

We are a large and extraordinarily diverse community- making us into one standard religion will fail.

There is room for everyone at the table….and no one knows what color Odin will make his skin should he knock on your door and ask for hospitality.  Our Gods are shapeshifters as well as ancestors- our Gods are greater than us and inspire us to greatness- not to cowardice.  We hold within our veins the blood and strength of infinite generations of people who honored our Earth and our Universe- who were at one with the cycles of the year- and worshiped our same Gods as we do today.    Even if the gap of the lies of false religions and false governments held your family in bondage for centuries- the Spirit of our Heathen ancestors still flourished- if even if it was in one simple family tradition passed on through centuries, a saying, a recipe, a tradition, or even a hex….and this is true for all cultures- No matter where you hail from, there are Gods of your ancestors who call to you.

Each of you holds something unique from our ancestors- a key, another puzzle piece to greater understanding of our world around us-  to hide yourself is to deny your own worth and to insult the Gods by not using the gifts you have been given.

I am a writer.  This is what I do- I am also a Gythia…. I will advise you, but I will never command you; my job is to be the servant of the needs of the community- It is to sacrifice myself to say what needs to be said and to hold back when necessary to keep peace.   I am a Lokian, I am Tyrian, and most importantly, I am a daughter of Odin and I am calling for peace and unification.  I am calling to an end of division, an end to strife, and an end to meaningless conflicts regarding petty things.

UPG- Old or new, should be respected with equal courtesy.  A man who saw a burning bush became the founder of a religion.   A woman who met Loki at a Moravian college campus is now writing this blog which is seen internationally with each and every single post.

YOU are responsible for yourselves, your families, and the health of the greater community.   As Heathens, we should never claim to hold the reigns to the “best” religion- but rather- our religion is an essential part of the diversity of all religions on Earth and beyond- we have a contribution that is necessary and essential to the future of our world.

….and if that contribution is nothing else, may our contribution be to tell the entirety of the world to NEVER bow down, For each man and woman to rule themselves and hold themselves at equal value to every other human on this Earth.  To take no shit, and to listen DIRECTLY to our Gods- not our so-called leaders, false friends, governments, corporations, or anyone else who would subjugate you into slavery to another human made of flesh and blood.

If you feel you MUST bow, then bow to the Gods alone- no man or woman can be greater than your equal.

If you feel you must be a slave, be a slave to Truth, Justice, Honor, Fidelity, and Frith.   Serve your community, but most of all- Serve your Gods so that they may come to know you by your Honor, and that They will approach you with open hands to grant you knowledge, serenity, and bravery as it is needed.

Look to your leaders and elders as examples- both for bad and for good; but keep your own council.

I honor Odin who brought me, Loki who taught me, and Tyr who leads me.   All I pray is that I can honor Odin with sharing what I can with all of you; Honor Tyr in sacrifice and having the strength to sometimes serve as a human dartboard, and Honor Loki- the speaker of the uncomfortable truths- I pray that my words were as clear as Os, as wise as Ansuz, and as straight as Tiwaz.

Hail to our Gods, Hail to our Folk, and Hail to Truth, Unity, and Justice- may it be served in this realm as in all others.

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24 Responses to “Bow Before No One. A Guide on Heathen Individualism.”

  1. I have heard some lore suggests our ancestors DID kneel (Swain Wodening’s article on the subject is http://swainwodening.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/kneeling-before-the-gods/ ….but I didn’t check the references in it at all), though who knows what is TRUE lore, and which lore is tainted by poor scholarship and bias. Then their are family practices to consider, personal UPG, different cultures, etc.

    I kneel and bow in a similar (though not identical) manner to how I kneel/bow in the practice of martial arts; showing deference and respect to those who have done more and know more. Point of fact, I use the same bow in front of my altar that I was taught in Kung Fu.

    As for Heathen leaders forming pesudo-cults? I’m entirely with you there. It’s madness, and damages our faith in a dangerous manner.

    • In my understanding, the Gods are our family….to kneel to Odin, Loki, Tyr, Freyja, et all would be like bowing before Grandma and Grandpa when you go to her house for supper.

      In fact, I forget to mention this- my Pa Dutch Nana was PISSED when President Obama bowed before some Asian president. Maybe it’s just a German thing…. Latvians just get drunk and jump over fires.

      • As I said, there are so many different lights in the prism, that I don’t get bent up out of shape about it one way or the other. Honestly, I’ve been of the suspicion that this has been the case for quite sometime….but this was the first moment I cared enough to double check it.

        Bowing means different things to different cultures, and different people of those cultures derive different sensations from that cultural definition. When I am at a Kung Fu class, I am not holding up my Sifu as a god; within the kwoon, that gesture has a completely different suggestion. While some link bowing with a more Catholic/Christian model, I do not; to me, it’s just showing respect, honor, and etiquette.

      • Understood. I edited the post to reflect “If you must bow, then do so for the Gods alone- no man or woman can be any greater than your equal”

        If you are in martial arts- is it truly a bow of subservience, or is it merely a gesture of respect? Is it a bow of the slave to master or can it be accepted practice that it is not an admission of a lessening of your worth?

      • It is a bow of student to master…or at least, that is how it has always been represented to me; I’ve taken Kenpo and Kung Fu….and that is how that bow is presented. I don’t see that as a Slave/Master…but considering how some of your teachers have treated you? I can perhaps understand some wariness from you in regards to that stance.

        It isn’t a lessening gesture however…not to me, anyway. When I bow to my Sifu, I do not say to myself “I am lesser then you, and must beg your indulgence”. It is, to my mind, “You’re knowledge in the art of Kung Fu is greater then mine, and that deserves respect. You have shown me respect and honor in accepting me a student, and for that I thank you”.

        That’s at least how it feels to me; the mileage of other martial artists may vary. In either case, to put another person higher does not require me to debase myself. I view to my bowing to the gods in a similar, though not identical, fashion.

    • If you MUST kneel, then do so only for the Gods alone…no human can be anything greater than an equal to any other.

      • That’s how you see bowing; when he and I sparred, I bowed to Ed when I needed to take a break. As much as your fiance is a fine example of a Heathen and a martial artist, I’m not acting like he is my king or my god.

        Give the peace sign in the wrong way while in Great Britain? And you’ve just told people to go fuck off. Much like gender rolls, gestures are defined by the culture from which they originate.

    • Hi… I checked one of the sources named in that post, which adds up, namely Tacitus (paragraph 39):

      “[…]To this grove another sort of reverence is also paid. No one enters it otherwise than bound with ligatures, thence professing his subordination and meanness, and the power of the Deity there. If he fall down, he is not permitted to rise or be raised, but grovels along upon the ground. And of all their superstition, this is the drift and tendency; that from this place the nation drew their original, that here God, the supreme Governor of the world, resides, and that all things else whatsoever are subject to him and bound to obey him.

      Personally, I think there is a big difference whether you bow or kneel to a Deity or to any kind of human structure, be it politicians, celebrities, or even community elders, etc. So yes, I agree especially with the last couple of paragraphs of your post, Raven.

      What it comes down to is this: whatever happens between you and your Deities is between you and Them… and if the Deity wants you to be alone with Him or Her, and withdraw from some community activity, at least temporarily? Well, then that’s that 🙂

      I think it really hinges on who/Who wants you to do something.

      • I have no issue with a DEITY asking one to withdrawal….and in fact, there have been times where that HAS been asked of me and I complied.

        However, I believe no human has the right to make the demand on another human….your thoughts? 🙂

  2. I do not understand how you are able to reconcile “If you see injustice and say nothing, you are culpable by your silence as well,” and “There have been things I have seen at sumbel I have wanted no part of […]. You can still share a horn without sharing their sentiments.”

    Later in this blog post you also state one can “exempt yourself from [someone else’s] wyrd simply by either taking a small unobtrusive step backwards, or by crossing your arms and looking downward and not echoing their Heil/Hail with your own.” In the case you mentioned where a person swore to kill their own relative at a sumbel, simply taking a step back to disassociate yourself seems like a cop out. I don’t think the cosmic force of Wyrd was magically averted by an unobtrusive gesture in that instance. I hope someone made a call (an anonymous tip at least) to law enforcement to advise them of this person’s intent.

    I think this idea that it is so easy to untangle one’s Wyrd from someone else’s is especially troubling in the case of avowed racists in Heathenry. I know you have posted before criticizing racism, yet in other posts you seem more than willing to seek unity with them on other issues and to welcome them at your events: “I don’t care what color you are, what you believe, if you are racist or non racist – I welcome you ” (from Pax Decorum), “Racist? We don’t give a damn if you’re racist – If you can hold a horn with sincerity in honor of Odin you are welcome at our table” (from Rumor Has It…). You are saying to the wider world that racism is a non-issue and that you accept it, and this reflects badly on Heathenry as a whole. It is not harmless.

    I don’t think we should deny the existence of racists or incite violence against them, and I acknowledge that we will always have to interact to a certain degree in life with people whose beliefs we may find abhorrent, but actively welcoming those who by their own admission are racial supremacists is deliberately mixing your Wyrd with theirs. Taking a small step backwards when racist expresses a racist sentiment really an empty gesture in light of that.

    • It’s a complicated issue….I will invite racists if they leave it at the door and do not trouble other attendees with their point of view….same as a Christian. As long as they do not attempt “convert” the group, they are fine.

      AS far as sumbel goes, that particular one was attended by the heads of the AFA- Not a private group and all those hails were public infront of dozens of people. We generally do not allow Oaths to be made at our events unless pre-approved for that reason. More like, some people disagree with the hails to certain entities, such as Sutr, Angrboda, Fenrir, etc. Hence, the courtesy rule applies in that case.

      AS far as wrong-doing in sumbel: incredibly rare. In real life: Most of my life is usually fucked up for speaking up and out against SOMETHING or the other as you well know! 😀

      I do not exclude anyone from our rites unless they are already on bad terms with me or ed personally- and they know they must abide by the rules of the house.

  3. (putting the comment here because it’s easier to answer…)

    I completely agree, bowing to a Deity is something different, in every sense.

    If a human asks me to do something for them, out of some kind of respect, it depends. There are people whom I respect as my “betters” in some way—an example would be a professor in my field of work. I would respect them professionally, if not always as a person (one of those whom I know is a terribly arrogant diva-man). Now respect is one thing, but does that entitle anyone to demand stuff from me? I think that really depends on what that “stuff” is.

    I would not treat them as above me in *any* context but work-related. A Deity is a God or a Goddess, and I bow to Them because They’re that, and I’m not. With Them, it’s a question of what I am, whereas with a professor, it’s a question of what I can do.

    I would not treat a human as I would a God. If a human asks something of me that deeply affects how I would interact with my environment, including other people, then I would not comply with them without questioning the bejeezus out of them. If a God asks me the same, I will ask Him whether He can tell me more about why, but… in the end, it’s Him Who calls the shots.

    • I agree on all counts…. actually, you put this into words much more clearly than I was able to. Thank you, Myriad. 🙂

  4. Hey just to let you know the art is from a boardgame aptly named Yggdrasil.
    Hail Loki.

  5. Reblogged this on faithinbalance and commented:
    Another great post, and I felt that a few could use this idea.

  6. I think that by not opposing wrongs, that you by default are supporting them, and you will only get drawn in yet further into the error, with it being fortified and the perception of truth being marginalized. And the wrong will gain strength and a greater following as a result. And so it is no vice to poorly and passionately stand opposed to this. It is of course even better to oppose it well and passionately, all things considered!

    🙂

  7. Hans Thorsen Says:

    Re: “bowing”, etc., I highly recommend reading an aforementioned article by Swain Wodening called, “Kneeling Before the Gods”, in which he cites historical sources indicating that our Heathen ancestors DID in fact at times bow, kneel, or even prostrate themselves before the Gods and Goddesses. The Gods are our kin, yes, but they are still greater that are we. We are not equals. Thor may be a friend to those in Midgard for example, but formal respect is warranted more than figuratively giving him chummy back slaps or high fives.

    If we wish to draw on pre-Christian cultural expressions in an effort to be true to what our ancestors did in relation to Heathen practice, then “bowing”, etc. would be an accurate part of that. Such physical attitudes need not be equated with groveling. They are natural expressions of honor and respect, displayed in all cultures towards equals (the Japanese bow to each other for example, rank having nothing to do with it) or to superiors and what those superiors represent.

    When our ancestors bowed to, or knelt before a jarl, they showed respect, not to him per se, but to what he represented: history, authority, tradition, and continuity associated with law, governance, and the related well being of the people. Heathen society was stratified, from jarl down to thrall. You can bet that if people showed respect via physical attitudes towards those above or below them in a social sense, that ALL people did the same at times in relation to honoring the Aesir and Vanir. Public rites were performed by the highest ranking person present. You’d bow to the king for example, and he in turn – performing rites on behalf of the people – would bow to, say, Odin.

    Interestingly, Russian Orthodox Christians do not kneel in their churches. Why? Because kneeling was done before tzars, not before their god, who (in their belief) makes them “free”. So – if you don’t want to be like an Orthodox Christian – kneel! 🙂

  8. I agree with everything in your post! It was very well-written!

  9. I’ve been looking for a way to reconcile the whole “Family first, then friends, then community…” and what appears to be a collectivist, “Individual comes last” thread. I am a committed Heathen, but I also have an LHP background & I want the gifts of both. Is an enlightened “Me First” Then Family, Folk, etc really all that inconsistent with Heathenry?

    • Depends on how you interpret Heathenry- In my personal opinion (not going off of any other resources, etc) I believe that if you do not take care of yourself, then it is impossible to give the best care possible to the family and friends who depend on you and look to you for guidance. I hope this helps! ^.^

  10. “Each of you holds something unique from our ancestors- a key, another puzzle piece to greater understanding of our world around us- to hide yourself is to deny your own worth and to insult the Gods by not using the gifts you have been given.”

    Some are destined to be great in the eyes of men. No matter how big or small the thing is that you do, if you use your gifts to the best of your ability and live an honorable life, you will be great in the eyes of our Elder Kin. It is a family thing. The world may never know your name and I say that is OK! How many names out of the billions of names of history do we really remember? After Ragnarok, no one will remember anything, because everything will have been re-born. Hamingja still applies, I do believe.

    “UPG- Old or new, should be respected with equal courtesy. A man who saw a burning bush became the founder of a religion. A woman who met Loki at a Moravian college campus is now writing this blog which is seen internationally with each and every single post.”

    Our gods still live. While it is good to study the history of our people, the Eddas, and the sagas…and any serious Odinist should, We can still learn new things and meet the Elder Kin ourselves. What will the Saga of Tyrienne say? I think we may be reading it.

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