Having worked with many wonderful Pagans in an open network/group, I’ve experienced the frustration, sometimes even disgust, with other Pagan paths/traditions. I’ve also experienced the mental and social reconciliation that can happen when two people who believe very differently can come together, learn, and make something beautiful like a ritual or even a lasting friendship.
In MVPN down in Utica, there was always a huge lack of Heathens. We had one come during a meet and greet (I was not lucky enough to make his acquaintance) but he never returned. He was looking for others like him and not the Wiccans that were present. My friend Parallax worships Heathen deities but I’m not 100% sure if she calls herself a Heathen. She practices through an ADF context, as do other would-be Heathens who take issue with Asatru’s folkish (sometimes racist) stance.
Jason Pitzl-Waters, author of “The Wild Hunt” blog, steps up and questions the often deliberate distance placed between “us” (All of Pagandom) and “them” (the “traditional” Heathens) in his entry entitled “Asatru and the Alternative Right.” The whole she-bang is definitely worth reading, but the best bit is the final paragraph:
In the end it comes down to this. I don’t have to like all Pagans, I certainly don’t have to practice with all Pagans, and I’m long over the notion of any sort of real “Pagan Unity” ever being feasible, but a broader idea of solidarity is important if we are to capitalize and build on the legal, political, and social gains we have made. When we trash each other to impress other groups or individuals, we don’t damage the integrity or utility of those other religions and traditions, but we do harm the vital solidarity necessary to get the things we all want. This doesn’t mean you can’t draw distinctions or even civilly criticize paths different from your own, but when folks start implying that you shouldn’t be in the larger movement, that’s counter-productive and drains enthusiasm from the activists working for the rights of all Pagans.
Jason is brave to stand up for everyone, and I applaud him for doing so. At the same time, we need to remember that not all self-described Heathens are like that. It’s unfortunate that many Heathens have ostracized its more liberal members – the ones who see beyond skin color and country of origin. Thankfully they have a home in Ár nDraíocht Féin and the larger Pagan community. We have our differences, but we need to stand together for our rights.