Thursday, July 6, 2017

Breaking Kinnish

Disclaimer: although I am an active member of a thriving Kindred, I do not speak on their behalf. Nor do my views or opinions necessarily reflect those of my Kindred members, individually or collectively. This is all me and only me.

During an interview, the famous American astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked to comment on the rumors regarding accusations that he was an atheist. In response Tyson said that he was not as concerned with the textbook definition of the word atheist as much as he was with the behavior of those who use the word atheist to describe themselves; because, he said, their behavior "becomes" the new definition for that word.

In much the same way that the behavior of people who called themselves Wiccan modified the overarching definition of Wicca in a way which I felt that I needed to distance myself from, so has the negative behavior of those who call themselves Folkish, modified that term. 

So much so that Folkish has now become irrevocably synonymous with the bigotry and racism, primarily by those who claim a European heritage, and who harbor an aversion  to Heathenry being practiced by those of non-European heritage. 

And again, I feel the need to distance myself.

The term Folkish has become lost to those of us who wish to communicate the Euro-tribal model to which we subscribe without an extended and nuanced explanation which includes denouncing non-inclusive Heathenry and proclaiming with you index finger raised to the sky, that you “are not a racist.”

New words and phrases like “Tribal-Folkish” and “Euro-tribal model” are now being invented mid-sentence of those explanations because Heathens seem to be experiencing an identity crisis, or perhaps a terminology crisis. This issue was discussed ad nauseam until my daughter stated quite flatly “we just need to invent a new word.”

Challenge Accepted.

The last time I attended Pantheacon I sat in on a Heathen discussion panel which was aimed at addressing the issue of racism and discrimination in the Heathen community. 

In the forum, I made an unpopular point about how I, as a Wiccan, openly discriminated against certain people who expressed an interest in joining my Coven. I doubled down, that it was my right as leader and high priest of that coven to exercise my powers of discrimination as I saw fit.

While there is a broad and robust spectrum of membership criterion for various covens, such as female only, gay men only, etc.; and while I did not discriminate based on race, gender, sexual preference or identity race; I did discriminate based on one simple but profound personality trait.

Are you an asshole?

It didn’t matter if you were Black, White, Asian, Hispanic or anything else. It didn’t matter if you were male or female, or if you identified as some 3rd or 4th gender. It didn’t matter if you like girls or boys or both. It didn’t matter of you deviated from your birth sex in any way, shape, or form.

The only thing that mattered was: are you a nice person? Can we get along? Do you complement the existing group dynamic, or do you complicate things and compromise the structural integrity of our group? Are you a threat to us? Cause we had a big problem with assholes, we really didn’t like them, and we sure as hel didn’t want them in our group.

My point was that other groups have different priorities about the criteria for membership. Some people don’t want homosexuals, people who are transgender or some other minority in their group. I think that’s fucked up. I disagree with it. I think those people are assholes. 

But as much as I disagree with them (which is a lot), they have a right to be assholes, and they have the right to deny membership to whoever they don’t want into the group, for whatever bat shit crazy reason they decide. I don’t like it.

But not liking it is not going to change anything.

Because I know they don’t give a fuck about what I think.

But just the same, they also harbor great distain for what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and who we're doing it with. They don’t like it, but not liking changes nothing, because I don’t give a fuck what they think. 

The world is a difficult and dangerous place full of injustices and assholes, I do what I can to oppose bigotry and racism,but I am but a mere mortal, a limited being, with power, limited range, and limited time on this limited plane of existence.

And I am on a fuck budget. 

I have limited fucks to give. And all the woes of the world far exceed the limits of that budget. The only thing I can do is stay within my fuck budget and use my limited fuck bucks wisely. I only spend my fuck bucks inside my "yard," my Innangard; and I only give my fucks to those who deserve it, such as my family, my friends, my tribe, my Kin.

This is the essence of Kinnish.

Part Universalist, in the sense that anyone can go practice any form of Heathenry, any damn way they please. Because it’s none of my business. I don’t give a fuck, because I’m Kinnish. You do you. 

Part Folkish, in the sense of being non-inclusive in a different way, in being a close knit, private and tribal society. One in which criterion for membership does not include genderality, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. 

The primary qualifying criterion is simply a matter of compatibility. Are you an asshole? Cause if you are, we don’t take kindly to your kind 'round here.

I have absolutely zero fucks to give for the Greater Heathen Community outside my Innangard. Please do not mistake my zero fucks given as being aggressive or adversarial. It’s not. It's calm polite indifference. Anything more would require fucks to be given, and I can't afford it.

More to the point, I’m simply not concerned with the goings on of the latest drama, the newest controversy over whatever, whoever posted on Facebook about that other group.    

Life is short, resources are limited, I have priorities, if you’re not Kin, then you and your shit did not make the list.

First, Kinnish is really, really, really, really, really, really, extremely Kin-centric.

But foremost, Ancestry and Sexuality are not determining criterion for Kinship.

But I'm not finished, there's more to being Kinnish than the conditions of Kinship.

So much more to come..

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Almost Heathen

It was nearly 20 years ago that I was completely engrossed in a Tony Hillerman novel. I don’t remember which one, I was stationed overseas while serving in the military and was binge reading the entire series on my off time. I just remember that the key to the plot of that particular book was centered around the Kennewick Man, which was the name given to a prehistoric skeleton discovered on the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington.

This first struck a chord with me because only a few years earlier I had lived in that region, not too far from the area where the story was taking place. What struck me next was the antagonists of the story. Heathens. More specifically, Asatru, were described as a “tribe” of white people claiming an indigenous European heritage and practicing the indigenous pre-Christian religious traditions of their European ancestors.

The very thought of this bristled the hairs on the back of my neck and arms.

Being one of the millions of Caucasians who grew up being told they were part Native American, I followed that path reverently for more than 15 years, despite the repeated prejudice and bigotry I experienced. I made every effort to fit in; I learned the language(s), I was a ceremonial singer, dancer, and pipe-carrier; but I was not Indian. And no amount of piety was enough for the larger part of the community to accept me. Not even being married to a Lakota woman was enough to spare me from being sentenced to the Wannabe Tribe.
The internet was just starting to explode at the time and people were just beginning to realize its potential. Yahoo had just come out and we were just beginning to utilize the search engine as a means of exploring our interests. And that’s where I was headed when I put the book down, the internet cafĂ©.

I Yahooed "Asatru" and my hair bristled again when the results came up. But when I clicked on the first site, images most associated with white supremacy filled the screen. I frantically clicked in a panic, trying to remove the images before someone behind me saw what I was looking at and assumed the worst about me.

I relocated to the computer in the corner and resumed my search, but every site I found included uncomfortable imagery. Which was terribly heartbreaking, because although I had read a few gems that really resonated with me, racism was an unconditional deal breaker. So I abandoned my search then and there, and with it any hope I had for an indigenous European path.

Years Later as a Pagan prison chaplain I would find myself facilitating religious accommodations for incarcerated Heathens which only served to confirm my concerns about racism in Heathenry. At least until the identity crisis prodded me into sabbatical and I picked up a book on Runes.

That book led to another, and another, and still another until I began to realize how deeply Heathenry resonated with me, and I began to think for the first time that I could embrace and practice Heathenry and still avoid the issue of racism.

After almost two years of solitary study and practice I dipped my toe in the water at an open to the public Heathen ritual held in a local park by someone I knew from my prison chaplaincy days. This led to another meetup, then another, and still another until I found myself being invited to join a Kindred.

It seemed as though the very moment I accepted that invitation whatever god is in charge of fucking with me said “here, hold my beer...” and a whole new cycle of Folkish vs. Universalist Racial conflict irrupted within the greater Heathen community. And there I was with a Mexican wife and son, and my Black Lesbian Jewish daughter, a member of a Folkish Kindred...  

However, in much the same way that I once explained that I was “Wiccan… but not like them” I was in a Kindred that said “yes, we’re Folkish… but we’re not racist.” Back when I was invited to join that Kindred I asked, most directly, if there was anything that Mexican wife and son, or my Black Lesbian Jewish daughter could not attend or would be made to feel unwelcome at. The answer was a firm and resounding “NO.”

The problem in terminology of however, still remains...