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An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind

All art and words by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy. Please click this image to open a new window and support us at Patreon.

In war, it is unwise to use your sword arm to pat yourself on the back.  Yet I look around at the current “war on discrimination” that is raging within the better half of the Heathen community, and over the past two days, I have seen a lot of people doing exactly that. In fact, I have even seen some people encouraging such behavior through memes suggesting that we all take credit for the Facebook ban of the AFA, even if we were not actively involved in making that happen.  On the flip side, even as this “victory” was taking place, I have sat back and watched as many of those same Heathens who espouse complete anti-discrimination policies (and I am firmly on the side of no discrimination of anyone ever) attack Christians and Christianity as a whole, and attack people for the virtues they are oathsworn to protect (even when they began their post with a caveat patently stating they didn’t expect everyone to uphold those same values).   We cannot pretend, as a group of people, to make war on discrimination while we vehemently maintain our own ways of discriminating against people.  When we do that, the only thing we’re patting ourselves on the back for at the end of the day is hypocrisy.

For those on the outside of the Heathen community, here’s a brief snapshot of what has been going on for the past year:

In September of 2016, Huginn’s Heathen Hof published Declaration 127, which is based on stanza 127 of the Havamal (literally: “Sayings of the High One”, from the Codex Regius, 13th century; believed by Heathens to be the sayings of Odin All-Father):

“When you see misdeeds, speak out against them, and give your enemies no frith.”–Translation on the HHH website

“When you see evil being done, call it out as evil, and show the evil-doer no peace.”–My Translation

This Declaration is accompanied by a sort of “petition”, which people and organizations may sign to demonstrate their complete denunciation of, and disassociation from, the AFA (the Asatru Folk Assembly).  Those who support Declaration 127 are essentially binding themselves to an oath that:

“While [we] fully recognize the AFA’s right to govern themselves as they see fit, and with full autonomy, we hereby exercise the same right. We will not promote, associate, or do business with the AFA as an organization so long as they maintain these discriminatory policies.”

Further, Declaration 127 states:

“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 frith, to those who would use our traditions to justify prejudice on the basis of race, nationality, orientation, or gender identity.  The AFA is free to stand for whatever principles it sees fit.  They are free to stand alone.”

I wholeheartedly supported Declaration 127. 

Why? What had the AFA done that was so wrong as to spark all of this?

The AFA has its roots in the Viking Brotherhood, which was founded by Stephen McNallen in 1972.  This, in turn, became the Asatru Free Assembly in 1974, which gave birth to two other major Heathen organizations: the Asatru Alliance and The Troth.  In 1986, the Asatru Free Assembly was disbanded because McNallen was apparently “too busy” to keep it going. Then, in 1994, he formed the Asatru Folk Assembly (the AFA of today), founded upon a Declaration of Purpose which includes, among other things:

2. The preservation of the People of the North (typified by the Scandinavian/Germanic and Celtic peoples), and the furtherance of their continued evolution;

10. Working to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. (emphasis mine)

A brief visit to their website (yes, I went there!) sheds further light on the AFA worldview.  Their statement of ethics includes the following (and I really couldn’t begin to make this stuff up):

“Healthy families are the cornerstone of folk society and its strength and prosperity is derived from them.  We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships.  We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own.  We believe that those activities and behaviors supportive of the white family should be encouraged while those activities and behaviors destructive of the white family are to be discouraged.” (Again, emphasis mine.)

So, clearly, the AFA is not only racist, but also anti-LGBTQ.  

Which is why it became blatantly obvious to me that I should support Declaration 127.  I mean, clearly, there is zero room in my heart for frith for anyone or any organization who is discriminatory towards people of color, other cultures, other faiths, or members of the LGBTQ community.  And the AFA not only discriminates against these groups that they consider “outsiders” (utangard), but they also muddy the waters for the rest of us who patently do not.  I have experienced this “muddying of the waters” firsthand: to many people outside of the Heathen community, the AFA represents what we all believe, even when they patently do not.  Add to this a large dearth in Heathen publications that are not either advocated by, published by, or have publishing rights owned by the AFA, and you have a recipe for situations in which simply carrying a book in a shop which is remotely associated with the AFA becomes grounds for accusations of Neo-Nazism. (It happens. It has happened. I witnessed it with my own two eyes.)  Such also becomes grounds for those who support Declaration 127 to not give those shops their business, even when said shopowners are in no way, shape, or form remotely affiliated with the AFA.

It’s a slippery slope that has been built, to say the least.

That slope becomes even more slippery when one ventures into the dogmatically Reconstructionist world of many of my fellow supporters of Declaration 127.  I personally reached a point where I no longer shared my writings or my art because “daily crucifixion” is not my idea of a “good time”. I have sat back and watched, stunned, as other people were attacked (to the point of fleeing a group) for having values (to which they were oathsworn) which mirrored the Nine Noble Virtues, purely because those virtues were supposedly first espoused by McNallen and his compatriots, and supposedly not directly derived from historical sources (even though every single one of the virtues in question appear directly in the Havamal).  I have read through countless posts railing against the dreaded “Christian-grafting”, and Christianity and Christians on the whole, even while also espousing a “show it to me in the lore, or it isn’t valid” attitude: when our lore is all a product of Christian authors, written in the post-Christian period.  In short, I have observed those very same people who were so opposed to discrimination constantly discriminate: against those who are “less Reconstructionist” than they are; against Judeo-Christianity on the whole (which, when you think about it, can border on Anti-Semitism, in and of itself), and against anyone who is so “misinformed” as to accidentally promote something which has ever been “tainted” by the AFA whatsoever (in a world where, until about a decade ago, the AFA was pretty much “the only show in town”, and largely remains such when it comes to quality published source material apart from the Eddas and Sagas themselves).  

Many among the supporters of Declaration 127 see this recent Facebook ban of the AFA as a victory, and on many levels, they are not wrong to feel that way.  However, I keep coming back to those last words of Declaration 127; those last words that were still floating in my head as I signed it myself almost a year ago:

“While the undersigned organizations listed here fully recognize the AFA’s right to govern themselves as they see fit, and with full autonomy, we hereby exercise the same right…The AFA is free to stand for whatever principles it sees fit. They are free to stand alone.”

Actively working to get an organization banned from Facebook is neither fully recognizing their right to govern themselves as they see fit, and with full autonomy, nor allowing them to be free to stand for whatever principles they see fit.  Actively working to get an organization banned from Facebook, while supposedly upholding the above principles, is bullying at its basest.  One cannot stop bullying simply by being the better bully!  Yes, there are places within the corpus of the Havamal that suggest “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and bust their heads open while you’re at it”: a thrice-fold sort of vengeance, to make sure things really get sorted and your enemies fully know “who’s boss”.  There are also places within the corpus of the Havamal that say “never trust a woman” and “beguile women with soft words”. We tend to downplay those latter verses, with the argument that we’re living in the twenty-first century, and such sexism has no place here.  Well, there is no place in the world in which we are presently living for thrice-fold vengeance, either. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves the whole world blind and toothless, and that is all such attitudes accomplish.

Maybe we have won a battle, with Facebook actively recognizing that the AFA fosters hateful attitudes and hateful speech, but we have not won the war.  So long as we are shackled to our own hypocrisy while at the same time patting ourselves on the back with our sword arms, when the next battle comes, we will have no appendages left available with which to fight!  A zero tolerance policy for discrimination needs be exactly that: a zero tolerance policy.  So long as it is still socially acceptable to point an accusatory finger at someone based on a difference in faith (anti-Christian, anti-Judeo-Christian), or to argue the concept of ergi as anti-LGBTQ as a point of historical fact within our faith-base that still holds true, we patently are not maintaining such a zero tolerance policy.  Instead, we are merely ignoring our own transgressions and shortcomings by loudly focusing attention on the transgressions and shortcomings of others. Until we stop doing that, we will never win this war; we will only serve to perpetuate it.

Declaration 127 is a great ideal, but like most “high ideals”, once you throw actual humans into the mix, things have a way of going terribly, terribly wrong.  I commend its author for what he was trying to do, when he created it, and put it out there to gain the support which it has gained.  I admire him for having the cajones to do something like that, because it took some serious cajones.  Anytime one voice rises up against the Darkness and tries to get others to join them in that fight, it takes courage.  I hope that you will all keep that in mind after having read this post….

 

 

 

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Silence Is NOT Golden….

Sometimes, silence is golden. In those moments when you’re in the heat of creating; when you’re making something beautiful to offer to the world, sure, silence can be blissful.  But when it comes to keeping people interested and up-to-date on your business, silence certainly isn’t golden.  And when it comes to keeping silent concerning who you truly are, and what you can actually do–your God-given talents, no matter how “out there” they may seem–well, silence isn’t golden then, either. In fact, it can become a crippling cage.

I’ve been living in that cage for a very long time.  I’m more than ready to come out of it.

Some of you may come away from this thinking “wow, she’s even more nuts than I thought.”  Some of you may come away from reading this judging me; perhaps even judging me quite harshly.  But I’ve had a month of silence from this blog and pretty much everywhere else–thanks to my declining health–to really think this through, and when it all boils down to brass tacks, I’ve been judged before. In fact, I’ve been judged over and over again my entire life, and I’ve let my fear of further judgment lock me in this cage in the first place.  Guess what? I’m still here, and I’ll still be here after further judgment as well.  It is ultimately my choice whether I choose to let the fear of those judgments keep me locked in this cage or not.

Today, I choose freedom.

I choose that freedom in part because keeping myself a secret is part of why my health has taken this dive in the first place.  The cage has leeched forward onto my skin, and into my bones, in the form of the worst outbreak of debilitating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis that I’ve experienced since I was sixteen years old.  I am now faced with the very real choice of continuing to hide my talents and abilities and slowly killing myself, or letting all these cats out of the bag.  Like the New Hampshire state motto, I can live free, or die.

That’s the big reason for my choice; the other smaller reason is that if I’m going to offer my services as a Tarot Reader, and as a Counselor, and as a Priestess, I should probably let you guys know exactly what you’re getting when you put your dollars into my PayPal account.  There is a huge difference between paying $25 to someone who has an “ability and years of experience with the cards”, and paying that same $25 to someone who is actually clairvoyant, clairaudient, claircognizant, and clairsentient.

What do all those “clairs” mean?  Most people have heard of clairvoyance, but few people actually know what it means. In common parlance, it has become synonymous with psychic, but it actually means something far more specific.  Clairvoyance is literally “the ability to see things that aren’t physically there”.  Most clairvoyants receive message through symbols, from both the Dead and the Universe at large.  Objective Clairvoyants  (the rarest type) actually see things that aren’t physically there with their actual physical eyes–like spirits, for example.  Clairaudience is the ability to hear things that aren’t physical sounds–like the voices of the Dead, for example (and most commonly).  Claircognizance is being able to know things or foretell things without knowing how one “just knows”–this is the one that most closely resembles the modern media’s definition of the word psychic. Clairsentience is “clear feeling” or “clear sensing”; picking up on emotions left behind by past events, or the ability to sense people’s direct emotions.

Newsflash, y’all: I have all of those.  I am an objective clairvoyant–I’ve been “seeing dead people” like the little kid from The Sixth Sense since I was three years old.  That is every bit as terrifying as it may sound, but it can also be quite rewarding.  I am clairaudient; I frequently get “astral phone calls” from the Dead, Angels, and often whatever else is hanging around at a given time, whether I want them or not. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a psychic “do not call” list!  I am claircognizant, although this is one of those things that comes and goes as the Spirit wills it; it’s not something over which I have direct control (which can often be quite annoying, because sometimes you genuinely don’t want to know the stuff you suddenly just know, while at other times you wish you knew something, and the Universe is behaving like a Magic 8 Ball set to “no answer at this time”).  And I am clairsentient: I am often entirely too aware of emotions left behind in places, especially when they are negative ones, and this wreaks total havoc when dealing with the living, especially when your home is populated by numerous teenagers at any given time.

So, when you buy your Tarot from me, you are actually buying them from a “real, live psychic”.  One cat down; one to go….

Ready for an even bigger cat to be released from the proverbial bag? We’re talking lion-sized?

I’m also a Medium.  I’ve been living my life in the proverbial closet–or, in this case, the coffin–for twenty-two years.  It’s slowly killing me, as well as damaging the people that I do this to help. Yes, by people I mean “dead people”…..

I am not a trance medium.  This throws most people off completely, as that’s the only kind of mediumship which the popular media seems to be willing to show folks.  I am a shamanic medium, which means I literally step out of the way, and let someone else take over completely, to the point of voice changes, mannerism changes, handwriting changes, and everything else.  The intangible becomes tangible again–through me.  This is not a service that I perform on cue for the living–no, I will not bring your dearly departed grandmother ’round for tea.  This is something that I do to help “them” (my set group who has been with me over the past twenty years), as much as they do it to help me. I am not the Mishy Psychic Friends Network, nor am I the Psychic On Demand Channel. This is not something I do as some weird sort of “psychic performance art”. This is for me, and for them. It’s perfectly symbiotic; in no way, shape or form as glamorous as it may sound to some people, and not dangerous to any of the parties involved, because I know what I’m doing. (Which is my way of saying, as they do on TV shows like Jackass: “don’t try this at home, kids!”)

So, why tell you this now, if I’ve managed to keep it a well-guarded secret for twenty-two years?  Two reasons, and one of them is far more important than the other.  The first and most important reason is that continuing to keep this a secret is damaging not only me, but also my charges (the folks I let in), who I have sworn that I will protect and assist.  The second reason is that some of them happen to be artists, and they deserve credit for what they’ve done for me over the years: credit which I’m finally ready to unveil in my new endeavors with One Pagan Place. (They’ve been doing this through me for a rather long time; it’s time they finally got credit for what they can do!)

Keeping this a well-guarded secret has locked not only me, but also them, in a cage in which none of us deserve to be locked.  And it has begun to take its toll on my health–which also not only affects me, but also them.  For example, at least one of these folks–The Professor–is British, which extremely limits when and with whom he can “come out to play”, curtailing his growth in the afterlife, and making it very hard for him to step in and allow me to take much-needed breaks.  I often find myself cursing the times when I have to interact with “muggles” (for the Harry Potter-impaired, that means “non-magickally minded people”), and I feel profoundly guilty about the times when I feel that way.  That guilt is manifesting on my skin and in my bones.  It’s time for it to stop.

As I move towards a time in my life where I am contemplating doing more live readings, I feel it is important for my clients to realize that we might not be the only two people in the room, so to speak.  To do otherwise, in my opinion, would be unethical.

So, there you have it: my cage doors have been thrown wide open, and now you know the full truth of me.  If you’re going to judge me, go ahead, but please don’t feel the need to let me know you are. I’ve had plenty of that over the course of my life; I don’t need to hear more of it right now, and for the sake of my health, I beg your mercy (that particular silence is also golden!).  If this causes any of you to worry about me, please rest assured, there is no need to do so. I am absolutely certain that none of the parties with whom I time-share are demonic, or otherwise nefariously inclined. I’ve been dealing with them for twenty-two years, and I’m quite aware of precisely who and what they are. I am also very adept at shielding myself from anything that is out to do me harm.  The folks that I have sworn to protect and gift with my abilities (and who’ve likewise sworn to do the same things right back, when it comes to me) are purely gifts to me from God (as is this ability), and I honestly would not have made it to this point in my life without them.  And please don’t take this as an opportunity to throw “prove its” at me: I am not a trained pony, and this is not a dog and pony show.  Believe or disbelieve; that is your choice. My own personal path to freedom is mine. For all of you who have supported me in that freedom–living and dead–and who are coming now to continue or even just begin to support me in that freedom, there are not enough words to express my gratitude.

Thank you for allowing me to live in a much larger world….

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But What Will People Think?

I’ve personally struggled with this question for most of my life, and while I thought I had largely put it behind me, as I do my “business year in review”, I am realizing more and more on the daily that this spectre is still haunting my every move: “But what will people think?”

What will people think if I’m actually as Pagan as I really am? What will happen if I show the world that I’m Catholic (little c) and Pagan (big P)?  Will I lose customers? Will I lose friends? Will they think I’m a kook, or a crazy person, or *gasp* a hippy?  Or worse, a devil-worshipper?

What will people think if I show them that Tarot is a valid counseling tool, instead of something you just do for shits and giggles?

What will people think if I let my hair down and show them the real me? You know, the one that has a degree in English but says things like “okies” and “thankies”, because I’m really adorable when I do?

Up until this point in my life, the answers that my head and the world have given me have gone a little something like this:

If you show people you’re Pagan–if you publicly operate from that place, instead of making sure you keep that in the backyard where the neighbors can’t see and seriously on the down-low–they’re going to think you’re a devil-worshipping, flower-waving, hippy-dippy charlatan, and they aren’t going to take any of your work seriously. They will ostracize you.  You might even get death threats (I sure as hell did in high school!).

If you present the Tarot as an actual counseling tool, instead of just something people can do for entertainment value, they’re going to accuse you of witchcraft and ostracize you and threaten you some more (that happened to me in high school, too).

If you say things like “okies” and “thankies” to anyone outside your inner circle, they are going to doubt your veracity as a writer and as an intelligent human being. They will think you are juvenile and uneducated (yeah, I’ve been accused of that by someone in the writing world who I greatly respect; this has happened to me already).

Well, guess what? I’m not in high school anymore! And my business numbers for 2015 say some very interesting things about all of the above:

My customers and my reader-base–all of you who have been so good to me this year and supported me with everything I’m doing–are actually hungry to know more about the Pagan side of things, and there’s no judgment whatsoever! Showing off my “Pagan side” is actually making people other than just me happy! There are no death threats, and nobody’s cutting me out of their lives; instead, more and more of you are tuning in to learn more.

I’ve been presenting the Tarot as an actual counseling tool, and I’ve actually helped people! I’ve actually helped folks change their lives for the better! And again, no accusations, ostracizing, or death threats–just a whole lot of thank yous from some pretty fabulous folks!

I’ve let my hair down and let people see the real me–the one who says “okies” and “thankies” and is adorable sometimes, cutesy others, and dead serious on still others, and nobody has called me juvenile or uneducated. On the contrary, they’ve found me profoundly accessible, and they’ve been grateful for that (and I am extremely grateful to them!).

So I have a new answer to that very bothersome question: But what will people think?

Those who matter won’t mind!  They won’t judge me; they’ll uphold me.  Anybody who’s dead set on judging me isn’t a friend, loved one, or potential customer anyway, they’re just a Judgey McJudgey-Pants, and they can walk on. The door is over yonder…..

In the immortal words of Jared Leto, this is who I really am. Thank you, those who love me most, for teaching me to accept and be that. And thank you, all of you who have had faith in me and my business this past year for teaching me that, too.  I would not be on the amazing journey I’m on right now if it weren’t for all of you, and it’s only going to get cooler in 2016!