Even in some pagan and heathen circles, Lokeans are said to be “outcasts”–partly because our gender-bending, trickster deity has a bad reputation as spun in Christianized lore–and perhaps also because Lokeans themselves tend to be a diverse bunch. While this may limit our social acceptance overall, it also makes our god, Loki, less likely to be co-opted by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups. As a shape-shifter, Loki has been a salmon, a mare, and who knows what else. He’s fathered and mothered children. In humanoid shape, I assume he’s not limited to a white skin or “Nordic” features*, though he’s mostly depicted that way. In other words, he is just too fey, too queer, and not close enough to the butch, cis, heteronormative, patriarchal stereotype that’s so very dear to the Neo-Nazi/white supremacist heart.
This “Pride Loki” artwork (based on “Marvel Loki”) by DKettchen conveys so much to me. Here’s the link to DKettchen’s Tumblr post. (There is a statement on the post that seems to indicate it is okay to use this image.)
Now in the last few weeks (when I wasn’t worried about my house burning up in CA’s Ranch Fire), I’ve been basking in just this kind of rainbow-colored bliss of devotional adoration, getting to know this newest addition to my eclectic, polytheistic “family.” However yesterday I stumbled across this August 17, 2017 blog by Lokavinr. It’s called What the Heathen Community Needs to Know. Lokavinr concludes:
“So you want to worship the heathen gods and not be a racist? Don’t spread the idea that white culture is endangered. Don’t act like heritage should be instantly divorced from the hate it fed for centuries. Don’t put frith over calling out goddamn Nazis. And think real hard about the groups, people, and beliefs you are standing beside. Because even if you aren’t out there driving your car into protesters or using a religion to actively recruit people to the racist far-right, if you look the other way, if you care more about the heathen community’s reputation or your right to wear a symbol without “being mistaken as a Nazi” than the real, tangible oppression PoC, Jewish people, Muslims, and the LGBT community face in this country, then there’s blood on your hands, too.”
It’s not like I haven’t been aware of these complexities. Years ago I read The Well of Remembrance by Ralph Metzner and felt attracted to “something” about Northern mysticism, but I still couldn’t approach Norse/Germanic deities and lore as a spiritual path because of the Nazi and Neo-Nazi use of some of these same traditions and symbols. (And it’s only gotten worse in this country since November 2016.) It wasn’t until last year, when I also began to work on ancestral lineage healing via Daniel Foor’s work (author of Ancestral Medicine), that I found I could begin working with Frey, Freya, and Gerda. (Loki is a recent arrival in my life and for some reason is much more “present” and compelling.)
These days, Daniel Foor’s work is key for me. As a teacher and ritualist, his purpose is entwined with activism for social and earth justice, and his humility and integrity have been evident in every communication I’ve ever experienced, whether in his book, online class, or Facebook posts. He directly addresses issues of settler colonialism, racism, transphobia, sexism, and more. Here is a page with some of his online interviews and talks. Check out “The Role of the Ancestors in Social and Earth Justice, November 2017.” You’ll see what I mean.
I’ve never been interested in “navel gazing.” For me, there has to be engagement with both “spiritual pursuits” and outer activism. For me, each feeds the other. I was involved with environmental health activism at the same time I was engaged with anthroposophy. I tried to bring greater social justice awareness to the tantra organization I was associated with (and eventually left). And I tried to be a decent “ally/accomplice” for the causes of sovereignty and the preservation of Mauna Kea and other sacred spaces from 2002-2017, while heavily engaged in learning about Hawaiian culture (and trying to avoid cultural appropriation). Admittedly, I’ve been more focused lately on inner work, as I’m still healing from some pretty hefty crises and major life changes in the last three years. (And, as always, I deal with the health and logistical challenges that arise from multiple chemical sensitivities and chronic fatigue.) But, Lokavinr’s blog is a call to action for anyone who is casting runes, worshipping a Northern deity, or possibly even doing Thor cosplay!
So I gladly make space in this blog for discussions, resources, and also for centering the voices of people of color on topics of race, hate, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, spiritual colonization, etc., especially as these issues pertain to paganism and Northern European traditions. And of course, I will make sure that my Lokabrenna “tiny temple” is blatantly inclusive and emphatically anti-hate.
These are good first steps, but it’s clear I must take others.
Expect this list of resources and organizations to grow, as I will add to them as I find them.
• Anti-Defamation League Hate Symbols Database.
• Anti-Defamation League Runic Writing (racist). Many people use and study Norse runes who are not associated with hate groups. If you see Loki’s name spelled out in runes (below) be not alarmed. It is highly unlikely that this would be used for hateful purposes. Quite the contrary, due to Loki’s association with people who are queer and/or are of varied genders.
• Another article on runes and other white supremacist hate symbols.
Inclusive Heathen and Northern Tradition Organizations/Websites
• Declaration 127 – International denuciation of Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) as racist, etc. Quote from website:
“The AFA’s views do not represent our communities. We hereby declare that we do not condone hatred or discrimination carried out in the name of our religion, and will no longer associate with those who do. We will not grant the tacit approval of silence in the name of frið, to those who would use our traditions to justify prejudice on the basis of race, nationality, orientation, or gender identity.”
• The Troth – an “inclusive heathenry” organization with stated policies against racism and other forms of discrimination. From their website:
“The Troth is open to all who seek to know and to honor the Gods, ancestors, and values of the Germanic Heathen traditions, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation. The Troth stands against any use of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, or any other form of prejudice.”
• Heathens Against Hate – Part of The Troth. From the page.
“Heathens Against Hate functions under the Public Relations Team, with officers appointed by the Rede from among the Heathens Against Hate membership. The group Heathens Against Hate will serve the broader Heathen community under Troth sponsorship to build cooperation amongst inclusive Heathen groups, to counter the misuse of our faith, its gods, symbols, or lore to promote racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia or any other form of willful hatred against identifiable minorities in our society.”
• Hrafnar – Northern CA inclusive heathenry group founded by Diana L. Paxson. Here is their “Declaration of Support for Inclusive Heathenry.” Here is their “Statement in Support of Solidarity with Black Pagans and Heathens.”
Vendors Who Do Not Support Hate
• “As Neo-Nazism, White Supremacy Spread, People Must Unite to Prevent Normalization of Hate”–UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at a ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, in New York, Jan. 31, 2018.
*[Apparently the image I used in this blog post was an anti-Semitic attempt by the artist to make Loki–as the “Norse Satan”– look Jewish. I need to do more research on that, and quote a reputable source. I originally used the painting because it was in the public domain. Such portrayals are probably the topic of a whole other blog.]