Pagan Pride, Brotherhood of the Phoenix, and a New Presentation

I am giving a presentation for The Owen Society for Hermetic and Spiritual Enlightenment on this coming Sunday, October 26th. I gave a talk last year that had a lot of positive feedback and this time I am including an experiential component. I will talk about foods associated with gods and goddesses from around the world and include a tasting portion of each food for the group.

Here’s more information about the event Food of the Gods Event Page (Facebook).

The Owen Society is such a great group. I am still insecure about speaking in public, since it’s not something I do too often. This also has the added “out of comfort zone” element that the location is not one I know. Nitecap Coffee is supposed to be a great place, but I don’t really know the location or the neighborhood. It’s a familiar group though, so I’m looking forward to it more than I’m nervous.

In other news, I continue to grow in my own Pagan path, even though I haven’t been keeping up with my journal on this blog the way I would like. I was lucky to attend the Chicagoland Pagan Pride event in Oak Park. I had been to this event a few years ago, but not recently. It has grown larger, with more vendor tents, as well as the workshops and rituals. At first I was feeling very isolated, but after I ran into a number of friends, I was more comfortable. I was also asked to participate in the main ritual, which was a great experience. I was a “season” (Lughnassadh) which was one spoke in an 8 part web that the participants wove.

My involvement with Brotherhood of the Phoenix continues to grow. We have had several public rituals over the past couple months and I actually “recruited” someone to come along. He’s someone I’ve known for a while, but I ran into him at Pagan Pride and he was mentioning his desire for a “queer coven”. That’s not quite what the Brotherhood is, but I thought as a group for pagan men who love men, it may fit the bill. He seemed to really like the Ecstasis ritual, so I hope to have helped him on his path by talking about my own.

A Poem – The Fae Under the Willow

I wrote a poem today. Or rather, It felt like I was given a poem today, since it just seemed to come out whole in almost exactly this form. Obviously years of reading Yeats has something to do with it. My friend George’s talk on fairy tales has something to do with it, too. Any way around it, I hope you enjoy –

Three Fae held court in a weeping willow
Under its languid boughs
One had a crown of lost wedding rings
Another a garland of sweet-smelling things
The third had a simple tin whistle

Whose treasure was greater? they asked one another
Under the languid boughs
One glittered with gold, silver, and jewels
The next filled the air with fragrant pools
The last could play a sweet tune

A young girl wandered away from the path
And close to the languid boughs
Humans don’t often get the Fae’s favor
But they asked the girl which treasure gave her
The greatest delight to behold

The strange question startled the girl that day
From under the languid boughs
She knew her preference instantly
But paused before stating her mind, for she
Knew the Fae must be given respect

“I’m entranced by the perfumed air, fine folk
Under these languid boughs
And the glittering jewels delight me to see
But my favorite thing under all of this tree
Is the joy of a simple tune”

Two tempers flared for an instant, but calmed
Under the languid boughs
They thought she was far too simple to know
True beauty when faced with it, so they did go
And left the girl with the music

The Fae began to play the tin whistle
Under the languid boughs
Though the whistle was simple, it wove a song
That created a path and she followed along
To a realm she had never seen

The last time anyone saw the girl
She was under the languid boughs
Of a weeping willow not too far from the path
Though some say they still hear her sing and laugh
While a faint tin whistle plays

Rites of Passage

There has been a lot of stepping through doorways lately. I guess this happens all the time, but I’ve just been noticing it a lot in recent days.

My Dad turned 80. This is kind of a big deal with his (and my) family history. His mother died when she was in her 40’s and his father and brother died when they were in their 50’s. There are strong genetic leanings toward both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes in his family. My Dad has some serious ongoing health concerns, but he’s still playing his sax in a couple of bands and he can enjoy going to a baseball game. He lives with my sister (who is an amazing caregiver) and not in a care facility. He’s generally in good spirits. Things are not too bad for him at 80.

One of my first influences on my Pagan path died this week. Margot Adler wrote the groundbreaking book Drawing Down the Moon, which brought the current American Pagan movements to a broad audience. I came across it 25+ years ago and that book, along with a couple of Starhawk’s books, was very influential on my path. She was an NPR correspondent, who was sharp, witty and articulate. I never had the chance to meet her, but in the past few years, I was able to have access to her voice and presence through podcasts, YouTube videos, and of course NPR reports. I know a number of people who knew her personally. Her intelligence and joy in living were so evident. She will be missed by the Pagan community and by those whose lives she touched.

I stepped through a doorway, too. I was finally initiated as Brother in the Outer Order of The Brotherhood of the Phoenix. I’ve written about the Brotherhood in this blog in the past. I applied and was accepted several months ago, but they had to wait until there were a few more initiates were ready before I was officially initiated. I can’t share any details of the actual Rite of Passage, but it was a wonderful and moving experience. I am so glad to be a part of tradition that is so well thought out and that offers deepening meaning through levels of understanding. I love that this is available to me here and now, and that I get to share in some of the wisdom of those brilliant and creative men who created this tradition.

This blog is primarily about my spiritual path as a Pagan, and this is a major step for me on that path. I have never been initiated into any other tradition or joined any formal organization as a Pagan. I am still figuring out what it all means for me. I’m sure I will have more on that at a later time.

Proud, Loved, and Lucky

There are three parts of my identity which I have had to work to realize and assert. I am a gay man. I am a Pagan. I am a Vegan. These are just three of many aspects of my identity, but these are special since they have required swimming against the flow, discovering parts of myself, and finding communities that support who I’ve become.

Inklings of all three started in my early teens. I analyzed and rejected the Catholic faith of my upbringing. I realized that the central story of Christianity – Christ dying to redeem my sins – had no real personal meaning for me. I didn’t feel like I needed someone suffering for sins I never committed. Perhaps I was too privileged in my middle class white American upbringing to feel the need to be “saved”. I certainly didn’t feel the idea of Original Sin and I was too young, too protected and too introverted to have done anything really bad out in the world.

Also, there was the growing realization that the Church disapproved of and even condemned the sexual identity that I knew I had within myself. It took a while for me to figure out that what I felt toward boys was the kind of attraction that most of my peers felt toward the opposite sex, and even longer to figure out how to express that. By my senior year in high school, I was poised to “come out”, and all I needed was the accepting (and less supervised) environment of college to push me over the edge.

In January of my Junior year of high school, I stopped eating meat. I was influenced by statements I had heard from some of my pop music heroes at the time – Annie Lennox, Howard Jones, The Smiths, and even Madonna. It empowered me to make a choice for myself – to allow my distaste for the very idea of chewing on a dead animal’s flesh to manifest into a change in behavior.

Also during high school, I began to read about the Occult. I came across Starhawk and Margot Adler, whose works resonated. I began reading Tarot cards. The beginnings of my Pagan path were set, even if those books had to be stashed away, out of the sight of my family.

Through college and my early post-college years in Chicago, my developing gay identity took center stage. I was the coordinator of a campus LGB group (awareness of Trans issues was just not really there back then). One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was to enjoy the lively gay-positive scene in Boystown.

My spiritual identity was not much of a priority during these years. I remained mostly vegetarian but ate seafood on and off. It wasn’t really until I was in my late 30’s that I began to revive my progress on both of those issues and connect to my spiritual path and also to make my move toward Veganism.

Today, there’s no one in my life who doesn’t accept my identity as a gay man. My close family is supportive. I have encountered occasional problems with being gay in the workplace over the years, but it has been rare and certainly not recent. My veganism is much the same. People in my life accept it, and although some are still a little puzzled, anyone who knows me at all knows they won’t change my mind or habits by arguing.

My Pagan path is still developing. I feel like I have grown in my own practice and knowledge. I am more and more comfortable with my own spiritual self and I have found people who support and guide me. I am still unsure of how to discuss it with people from other aspects of my life – family, old friends, co-workers. I take it on a case-by-case basis, but there are lots of people in my life who have no clue about this part of me.

I realize that with all of these, visibility promotes acceptance, and I should strive to be honest and visible. It helps others come to terms with their own identities. I am not out to convert anyone, but I am still in a process of becoming visible as the person I am – and that includes being a gay man, a Vegan and a Pagan.

Taking in Summer Solstice Energy

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, Midsummer, the longest day of the year. This time of year the sun shines until quite late in the evening. The trees are fully green and leafy. A few of the early crops are even showing up at the farmers markets – greens, berries, radishes.  The summer festivals have started around here and there are free concerts in the parks. There’s the association with the childhood summers with few obligations and lots of time to explore the world. Our long, bitter winter is just a distant memory now.

It should be time to celebrate, right? Yes and, because I am who I am, no.

I don’t appreciate the heat, the baking sun or the oppressive humidity that we have in the summertime. I burn easily, so if I’m out in the sun, I have to slather myself with sunblock, which always feels greasy and often makes me break out. Those street festivals often revolve around an unshaded street and include a large crowd. Neither of these things is good for my mental well-being. I used to go to a couple each year. Now, I’m not too interested.

I don’t have a place for a garden where I live now, so I can’t enjoy the first-hand process of helping plants grow. This is something I really want as a part of my life, but it’s blocked for me at the moment

The warmer weather brings a spike unpleasant activity to my neighborhood, too. Gang activity, street fights, noise (blasting car stereos that can be heard for blocks) and vandalism always increase in the warm weather.  There are a lot of idle young people around, unfortunately. The economic and political climate mean that there’s a lack of summer jobs for inexperienced young people as well as cuts to various programs that provide activities for teens

I am going to try to set those complaints aside, though.

For the first time, I celebrated the Summer Solstice with a group of Pagans, specifically The Brotherhood of the Phoenix’s event called Terra Sol. We had workshops, a ritual and potluck. I was looking forward to a bonfire (a rare thing for this city-dweller), but unfortunately a torrential rainstorm came and drenched that area before I could hang out by the fire. We had fire in a cauldron at the (indoor) ritual, though.

It was a wonderful experience to be there with a group of creative and nurturing people. I went to workshops on Fairy Tales, defense against the Dark Arts and using the voice and breath for spiritual work. They were all interesting and I wanted to dive more deeply into all the topics than time allowed.

For the voice workshop by my friend Matthew Ellenwood, I really realized how much I have blocked my own voice. I used to sing frequently. I was even Choir President in high school, but I rarely sing anymore. I almost never speak publicly. I have spent most of my adulthood shutting off my voice. It has been a somewhat conscious decision. There’s so much cacophony in our world and I don’t want to add to that. I do believe in the power of listening, and opening the mouth often closes the ears. I also don’t feel that I have much power to change things in the world through my voice

The ritual revolved around the turning of the seasons and with using the fire of the Sun to burn away what holds us back. These are powerful themes for me, and the idea of burning away the negative is especially timely for me at the moment. There was drumming and chanting and it transformed my state of mind, as the best rituals do. The stresses and dull anger that I’ve felt lately went into the fire. I came away feeling cleansed and freer to act.

I need to try to hold onto that as this season proceeds. I need to hold this version of Summer in my heart – the dancing, clean, happier version of summer that burns with creativity and love.

Gut Reactions, Hidden Biases, and Jonah Hill

Warning: This post contains language that some readers may find offensive.

Jonah Hill, who generally seems like a pleasant and amusing fellow (and who is, somewhat bizarrely, a two-time Oscar nominee), recently used a homophobic slur toward a reporter who was harassing him. This is not earth-shattering news. Entertainment news outlets like TMZ regularly follow celebrities around airports and outside restaurants, baiting them with provocative questions and sometimes insults just to get reactions for the cameras. Jonah is part of a long tradition of celebrities losing their cool and using this kind of anti-gay language. Recent examples that spring to mind are Alec Baldwin and Kobe Bryant.

Jonah has been making the rounds with his apology. It is heartfelt and he acknowledges that language can have an impact far beyond the intention of the speaker and that his words hurt many more people than the reporter who was the specific target.

Many gay bloggers have praised his apology, and justifiably so. Others have even gone so far as to admonish TMZ for reporting the remark and labeling it as homophobic. If we don’t like TMZ’s tactics, then we probably shouldn’t be following them as a news outlet, and perhaps even stage a boycott. They don’t make much of a pretense of fair or balanced reporting. They present stories in a personal, opinionated and petty way – that’s basically their brand. I find TMZ’s sensationalism unsurprising, but I think that calling Jonah’s remarks homophobic is justified, even if the reporter’s actions that prompted the outburst may not have been.

What is more interesting to me about this and such similar incidents is what is unstated and what insults like this reveal about societal attitudes about men who love men.

“I wanted to hurt him back, and I said the most hurtful word that I could think of at that moment.”

This is what Jonah Hill said in his apology, and this is frequently how such incidents are described. The words were products of irrational anger, gut reaction, not careful consideration and not reflective of his beliefs. But let’s think about that.

He has displayed that his gut, no matter what his thinking self says, believes that the worst, most insulting term that he could throw at a person he hated in that moment was “faggot”. Not only did he use that derogatory word for gay men, but he further illustrated that he was not blindly groping for a random insult uncoupled to its meaning. He illustrated it by including “suck my dick”. The most humiliating action that he could wish this reporter do is to have sexual contact with another man. The most shameful punishment for this man’s harassment is that he should suck a man’s penis.

He didn’t call him a “bully”, a “stalker”, or a “troll”. He didn’t go with the incest implication of “motherfucker” or the child-born-out-of-wedlock implication of “bastard”. He didn’t go with the anatomical insults of “asshole” or “shit-head”. Nope. His gut reaction was to reach for the most shameful, hurtful thing that came to mind, which was “Suck my dick, you faggot”.

Whatever his views in his calm and rational moments, Jonah Hill very clearly displayed a basic bias. And it’s a common one. It’s one that even many people who feel same sex attractions feel. Somehow we’ve learned that sexual contact between men is shameful and it’s dirty, and even the most enlightened, open-minded people have some part of themselves that believe that. But somehow, sadly, we also realize that the bias is so common that we would rather applaud people for mostly overcoming it, rather than question why it’s there in the first place and root out its source.

Beliefs held at gut level are very hard to change. They probably are formed by messages from family, school, churches, television and peers at an early age. Many of them are learned without us even knowing that the learning has happened. We probably shouldn’t personally shame or point out Jonah. He’s just happened to have a camera in his face when he openly displayed a problem that lies just below the surface in so many people.

As I gay man, I must always keep in my mind that the hidden attitude is always there. It may come out at any time, even from unexpected sources. Sadly, it seems like the best we can hope for is that those in power manage to keep those gut reactions in check when they’re making important decisions.

Misogyny and Killing Sprees

When I was in my early teens, I remember overhearing my father telling my older sister that “sometimes boys just can’t control their sexual urges”. He was telling this to her as protector’s warning. She shouldn’t put herself into a situation where she would be at the mercy of a boy pressuring her into sexual contact. Even if she trusted him, it may turn into a situation she didn’t want.

In retrospect, I understand his intention.

At the time, though, my first thought was that this statement was complete bullshit. I was at a point in my life when I knew that any sexual attraction that I felt (which was to other boys) could not be voiced or expressed, much less acted upon. I was in complete control of that because I felt I needed to be. Expression of my sexuality would not have been acceptable to my conservative Catholic parents. They would not have been welcome to the boys who were the object of that attraction.

The endorsement of the idea that boys’ sexual urges were not subject to self-control seemed like someone was trying to get away with something. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is. Boys will be boys and girls need to protect themselves because the girls are the ones with something to lose. We all inherit these ideas and even the most well-intentioned can repeat problematic thought patterns.

In the wake of the horrifying Elliott Rodger shooting this week and the discussions around his “manifesto”, I have wondered how to respond. Clearly, this young man had some poisonous ideas, and the quirks of his psyche and environment were just fertile enough to feed and grow those ideas into a horrifying conclusion. But it seems that a lot of young men are fed this poison. How? And why? And what can I do?

The prevalence of the idea that women “owe” men responses to their sexual advances is mystifying to me. The idea that women are somehow a prize for men to win is a bizarre and troubling way to view relationships. The aggressive way that some men pursue women is creepy and terrifying. It’s one of my points of privilege as a man that I don’t usually see it, but it’s a frequent occurrence for some of my friends. Men don’t treat my female friends like that if I’m around – the very presence of a sizeable man who won’t cooperate is a kind of passive deterrent to such activity. Even that doesn’t make sense to me. I firmly believe that women and men should be able to take the train, walk down their block, go to a bar or a party, etc. without fear of harassment.

Are we missing some basic steps in the education of our children, and specifically our boys?

Do they understand the idea of consent? It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, but maybe there’s a fear that if schools discuss consensual sex, some people will see that as an endorsement of sex among minors. It’s a crucial concept, though.

How do young men not see their peer young women as equal in their right to decide about who should be their romantic and/or sexual partners? What lessons do they receive that women have less say in the matter and are prizes rather than deciders, objects and not subjects?

How do we teach young men that explosions of rage and violence are not the appropriate reaction to rejection? Many people go for years without a date and have a hard time connecting with true friends. This hardly justifies a killing rampage. Some people fall into relationships easily from a young age, and some people, myself included, take longer to learn some life lessons and to learn how to approach a relationship with realistic expectations and take the time to develop trust and support.

I wish I had some solutions. I know how my own thoughts are shaped on these issues, but I also realize I am far out of sync with most of our society. I am a bit lost on how we as a society can address these issues for young people as their social selves are formed. I just hope I am asking the right questions.

I have read some insightful posts from some other men trying to make sense of this.

John Beckett

Arthur Chu 

Jeff Yang

There were also some really troubling, defensive, and off-base posts out there. Welcome to the internet, I guess.

I am a seed

I am a seed who has been sleeping in the ground. I was curled up within myself, huddled against the cold. Then I sprouted, slowly unfurling, sending up a green stem, reaching down with slim roots.

I am a seedling, fragile and tiny. I seek out the fresh air and the warmth of the sun. My roots drink in water and draw in nutrients from the earth.

I am a growing plant, getting stronger each day. I make my green alchemy, turning sunlight into food. I can make delicate perfumed flowers, luring bees and other creatures to my shade.

I am a full, lush plant, deep green and growing fruit. My fruit will grow sweet and heavy and full of seeds. You can take this fruit, eat it. It is my gift, but I just ask one thing.

Put the seeds in the ground. Let them sleep there, huddled in the ground. Until one day…

Anarchism, Libertarianism and Environmentalism

I have a number of friends who are Libertarian and some who call themselves Anarchist. I think that they are participating in a long tradition of distrust and dislike of the government on all levels in American society. And to a certain extent, I get it. Our Federal government is currently deeply dysfunctional. I hate a lot of things our government does. I hate how corporations and rich individuals can essentially buy favorable legislation and legal decisions by making the right campaign contributions. I hate the invasive government surveillance of civilians, especially after the passage of Patriot Act. I hate the amount of money spent on the military, which exists by definition to cause death and to threaten to cause death. (I support enough military to protect ourselves, but I believe that our country’s military capability far exceeds that goal.)

But as an environmentalist, it appears to me that the government is the only power that can and sometimes does restrain individuals and corporations from completely destroying the environment. This doesn’t negate my other objections, but it does trump them in the question of whether or not we need a strong, centralized and effective government.

I wish I could believe that in a situation without governance, people would act in a way that is not destructive to other humans, animals, and to the environment. A quick glance over recent headlines shows that humans prove that wrong every single day.

In the controversy over the ridiculous claims of Cliven Bundy that he has the right to graze his cattle on government–owned land, the reason his lease was terminated was to protect habitat for an endangered species. This bigoted, heavily-armed individual is destroying a fragile piece of the environment on land he doesn’t own, simply for profit. Not only does he persist, he has a line of supporters cheering him on.

BP recently spilled crude oil into Lake Michigan, not only endangering a natural habitat, but also the water supply for millions of people. There’s been a little coverage, and it’s not clear what, if any repercussions it will have for BP, but they clearly violated Federal and State regulations. Oil spills from pipelines and train cars are alarmingly commonplace, and they can be very damaging, but there is little alarm.

The massive chemical spill in West Virginia is another nightmare scenario. Toxins spilled into the river, contaminating drinking water sources. The danger and inconvenience to people had a little coverage. The environmental destruction involved was not mentioned in anything that I saw, but I must assume it was extensive, and it must have killed fish and plant life.

In these cases, the government is the only advocate that can regulate these activities and punish the violators, specifically the EPA, the National Parks Service and other environmental arms of the government. Complaints and protests by citizens have little effect. Press coverage is patchy depending on the “angle” of the story and how slow the new day is, and there’s rarely much of a public outcry, even in events as large as the BP Gulf oil spill, which impacted the Gulf coast environment dramatically.

Some will call me paternalistic, and maybe even a little misanthropic, but it seems like unrestrained humans would easily pollute, de-foliate, exploit and otherwise destroy every resource we have within weeks without government controls. Air, water and soil would be poisonous. Finite resources would be exhausted. Renewable resources would be overtaxed to the point of no return. No regard would be given for non-human animals, their habitats or their suffering. We would quickly revert to a Mad Max style post-apocalyptical nightmare world, while a few wealthy and highly fortified corners would preserve what little semblance of a tamed nature they could, but only for their pleasure.

Sadly, there are many forces within our society and even within our government that only wish to disable, thwart and de-fund these agencies that protect the environment. I’m not saying these agencies are immune from criticism. They can be mismanaged or wasteful, like any government or private organization. They can be subject to the political favoritism and pressures that are rampant in our system. Violators may not be effectively punished because of their political connections. But none of this is a criticism of the basic mission of the EPA, the Parks Service, or any related entity. Their mission – to protect the environment and natural places, to protect endangered species, to prevent pollution of the air, water and land – is essential.

And let’s be perfectly clear – the free market will never serve these goals. It is driven by self interest and most individuals and corporations perceive only short-term self-interest, without any regard for the long-term implications to the common good. Someone will always want to exploit unique natural places. Someone will always want to get away with some dumping. Someone will always be negligent about proper handling of pollutants because it’s just cheaper that way.

Sadly, this is definitely a case where one bad apple spoils the bunch. A polluter’s smokestack ruins the air for everyone in the vicinity, and if the local people aren’t that business’ customers, then no boycott will ever bring pressure to the business owner to change. Likewise, the practice of fracking uses chemicals that endanger ground water, lakes and rivers in an entire region. It trades the short-term benefit of quickly expended fossil fuel for a risk of long-term destruction of fresh water sources. Pollution often impacts areas far beyond the immediate plot of land where the incidents happen. Lawsuits often just lead small companies into bankruptcy and no one can ever be effectively held responsible for the damage caused. Pollutants like CFC’s and carbon emissions can have cumulative, global effects that are hard to pinpoint back to specific polluters.

The only reason we don’t have widespread use of CFC’s anymore is because of the EPA and similar agencies in other countries. It’s a real tangible victory. No one is talking about the hole in the ozone layer anymore, because the cause of the problem was effectively controlled before it went too far. Regulation can work, and can cause real change.

In past centuries, when we lived in a world with fewer people and less consumerism, the dent humans made in the natural world seemed limited. Certain spots were polluted, certain forests were cut down, but there were still vast stretches of wilderness and seemingly endless oceans. Today, as wild areas grow scarce and even the oceans seem depleted, we need some mechanisms to control the destruction. Government regulation does a very imperfect job of controlling it now, but it still seems to me like the only tool that has any hope of being effective.

Struggling to Make Sense of Racial and Religious Violence

Real Paganism is so rarely covered in the mainstream press, and sadly, when it is, it is usually because someone who has been identified as Pagan has done something controversial or unpleasant. So it begins again. Frazier Glenn Cross, the alleged shooter in this week’s Kansas City murders, has been identified by CNN as an advocate of Odinism, a form of reconstructionist Heathenry which is sometimes associated with white supremacist ideology. I wrote previously about my view on Racial and Ethnic openness in modern paganism and rejecting the racism and ethnic exclusion in some of the corners of our community.

The shooting was apparently targeting Jewish identified institutions, although the 3 people killed were actually not Jewish. Cross reportedly said (yelled, even) such things as “Heil Hitler” upon his arrest, and he seems to have a long history of anti-Semitic and white supremacist activity.

A CNN religion blog quotes from an autobiography written by Cross in 1999 in which he advocates Odinism. It’s unclear to me if Cross still has these beliefs. Other internet sources have called him Christian and Atheist. Whether or not Cross is currently an adherent of Odinism, it is clear that many white supremacists, including white nationalist gangs in prisons and various other racist groups, have adopted a kind of Heathenry or Odinism.

The Wild Hunt blog has some good coverage here of the initial reactions from some members of the Heathen community.

There’s a very informative panel on Thorn Coyle’s podcast about the tactics and psychological tricks sometimes used by these groups to bring Pagan-curious people into their fold. Chose Podcast #67 here.

I am not an adherent of any Norse practices, although I enjoy Norse mythology and learning about the pre-Christian religious traditions of Scandinavia, Germany and the Anglo-Saxons. I have friends who venerate Norse gods and goddess in their religious practice.

I don’t believe in or experience the idea that deities discriminate based on race or ethnicity. I am primarily influenced by the multi-cultural Religio Romana (which Cross specifically condemns as decadent).

I have a hard time putting myself into the mindset of someone like Cross, but his targeting of Jewish institutions is particularly nonsensical is for the racialist Heathenry agenda. In a twist of reasoning that tries to answer accusations of racism, racialist Heathens often say that the old religion of Northern Europe is for those of Northern European descent and that others should follow the religion of their own ancestors. By this logic, they claim to be preserving cultural diversity and preserving the unique cultural flavor of each tradition. It is a “separate, but equal” argument, which is deeply problematic in our eclectic and dynamic society.

But what’s interesting is that Judaism, particularly in its Orthodox forms, follows a similar thought pattern in a way. Judaism is primarily aimed at the descendents of adherents to Judaism. Converts are rare and not sought within most Jewish communities. Unlike Christianity and Islam, there is no push to proselytize or spread their religion. Jews quite specifically do what the racialist Heathens claim that they want non-Heathens to do – they follow their own path without trying to impose it on others. They “stick to their own kind”. So what could the logic possibly be for an Odinist to target Jewish institutions with violence?

But why do I even try to apply reason to the thinking of someone whose actions show that they are beyond reason? Why try to find a justification for actions which seem borne out of irrational hatred? I think we can all agree that this is a tragic incident for both the actual and intended targets. Only an unbalanced and disconnected mind could come to the conclusions and take the actions of a man like Cross.