Authenticity on a Cultural Heritage path of spirituality; or indigenous appropriation.

Of late, there has been hordes of people being called to various Cultural Heritage paths of Mysticism and spiritual veneration of the Indigenous Folk they are descended from. The Germanic/Teutonic path, (also lumped under the tiles of “Asatru” or simply ‘Norse Paganism’ is one of the biggest seeing this resurgence of adoption and adaptation.

I will start of this post to remind anyone viewing it to do three things: 1) READ IT, in its entirety.
3) Refer to step 1.

In the Late 1950’s-80’s, people in America, as well as Europe (this includes east Europe, west Europe northern Europe and southern Europe and central Europe) were being called to re-discover their ancestral roots and begin a reclaiming process of re-forming an indigenous based European spirituality that was all but eradicated by the Roman and Christian oppressive conversion.

When Paganism was dying out by force almost 2000 years ago, European People were well on the way of having their Cultural Heritage in its many forms erased from human history by the conquering invaders who felt Christianity should be “the only one True religion and faith.”

Other continents underwent similar conquest; but fortunately, much of the Indigenous peoples hid in such a way, that most of the “Native” spiritual practices passed down since Man began tribal life has survived to this day. (Australian aboriginal, as well as Native American Indian people and the Mongolians and Sami are a prime examples.)

For what ever reasons, the European continent (perhaps due to its smaller size and more communal townships and villages) seemed to succumb the most thoroughly of the world’s other spiritual Cultural practices annihilation; whose traditions and practices were followed for generations by the indigenous ‘common folk.’ European Pagans were the most severely attacked populace in a relentless manner for eradication of Heritage religious practices-first by being dominated by the Romans, then in turn by the Church of Rome; during the Witch Hunts. (And by the onset of the “burning times”, there were VERY few Wise folk left to be the healing force and birth givers of the towns throughout Europe; let alone to pass down any Cultural heritage of spiritual practices and ways of Traditional veneration!)

This especially effected the Celtic tribes of people, the Germanic/Teutonic peoples, and the Italian peoples, whose path is that of the Strega and Early Italian religions such as the Etruscan; which were influenced by the Greek Pagan religion.

Fast forward and that’s brings us now to the present day.

People are being called in droves to pick up where their Ancestors left off, and continue the process of doing Human evolution shit. Suddenly many folks are seeing that our entire planet is in jeopardy, and we just might not have anything to pass down, (spiritually or otherwise) if we don’t tap into our unique and accessible form of spirituality.. Folks in record numbers are hearkening to the earths call, via their Ancestral Wisdom, which is simply: “live in alignment and accordance with the natural world, and Her grand scheme of eternal cycles of life.”

That is accomplished by doing what indigenous peoples all over the world do; each in a similar yet unique way suited to the demography they hail from.

They connect with Ancient wisdom via Ancestral memory and wisdom, and take up the indigenous Pagan path’s of their forebears to re-member and relearn holistic living on this planet. You see, a Pagan by default is known to be an earth based form of spirituality; and to be earth based, (to be one with nature) you MUST BE ONE WITH NATURE, and that means the patch of dirt you LIVE your LIFE upon. (~and drive upon, and throw out your waste upon, and don’t have a thought about it except what-you-can-resource-for-your-own-use/consumption upon.)

And this brings me to the point of this post: the argument over A) is it necessary to follow a Cultural Heritage if one is called to be a Germanic/Teutonic (Norse-Asatru) Pagan, and B) to define cultural appropriation, as the very term, for me at least, clarifies the answer to question A.

So lets start with B) and define Cultural appropriation:

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture. Cultural appropriation is seen by some as controversial, notably when elements of a minority culture are used by members of the cultural majority; this is seen as wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity and intellectual property rights.

Ok, so I was asked JUST today; “do I need to really worry about who or what I do when opting to say I am a heathen who practices ANY form of Germanic/Teutonic European Paganism; especially of I choose to call it Norse-Asatru?”

I would answer “Yes, of course!” and here is why: by the very definition above, if I want to re-claim an almost lost Tradition of Pagan spirituality, I will go to what ever sources are left to us and reconstruct what I can, by knowing the CULTURAL CUSTOMS of the folk who were indigenous to the demography the Pagan practices stem from; or, unfortunately, it wont be authentic or worse, I will need to “beg, borrow or steal” other Traditional practices from other indigenous peoples; EVEN IF THEY LIVE IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO MY ANCESTRAL HOME. ~This is known as Cultural appropriation, and it makes many tribes of people really upset when you say: “well, its close by, and similar to what my ancestors MIGHT have done, so i’ll just adopt it and say its my own, and call it Norse, or Asatru, or Vanitru; or whatever..”

Ummm, NO. We have enough information that is left to us we can RECREATE what was probably done by comparing to the neighbors what rites, rituals and practices were used, but that is where the “adopting others Cultural Traditions” must stop.
I REPEAT, we re-create our OWN TRADITIONS of today, based on historical evidence of yesterday.

Why? Because if we are to reconstruct a Pagan tradition that stays not only recognizable as a Tradition by more than merely saying in a Circle of other Pagans some “Old Norse Gods Names”, AND we want to hand down this Ancestrally inspired form of Indy-European spirituality to the following generations; we have to unwaveringly stop pushing the easy button and say “well, our Viking ancestors adopted other cultural practices and traditions, so why cant I?”

Because your not a Scandinavian who raids other lands (or you would be in Jail) and The Viking Era was when Christianity was becoming the norm, therefore, Germanic/Teutonic Paganism, (or more accurately heathenism) was being eradicated, as were the people staunchly trying to defend its survival.

I feel as a Gythia, We must do our homework, and reconstruct a spiritual PAGAN practice based on the historical documentation left by many people and races of people who wrote about what they witnessed when they met a Germanic/Teutonic person; also known as the Norsemen, the Vikings, and a plethora of other names like: Saxons, Gauls and alike.
We then take what we have found, (and there is waayy more information out there if you look; like the dances, songs and “fairy tales” still told from the time before Germanic Pagans were gone) and compare these findings to the practices of the other Indy-European neighbors; we can then in an educated, 21st century way, RE_FORM and RE_BUILD a Path that is recognizable, unique, and as close as we can get to what our Ancestral memories glean us kennings of! ~All the while keeping it “Norse,” not Greek, not Druidry, not pseudo-Christian, not Hindu nor Hoodoo.
And to say this thought process is non-inclusive, you would be correct, by the simple Captain Obvious fact of a Scandinavian “shaman” is a seiðkona or seiðman, A Sami shaman is a noaidi, and a Celtic Shaman is a Druid.
They have similar attributes, but they have very different Gods, spirits and procedures they use to do their Spiritual work and veneration. Its VERY ok, to be specialized. Especially when it comes to our Gods and Traditions!

To try to say, everywhere I look now, it’s ok to mix and mash any path one chooses, and then try to call it by a name designated to clarify the Cultural Heritage and spiritual practices of the indigenous people (In this case Germanic/Teutonic) that we modern day folk are trying to reconnect with, does NO ONE any favors! Not our Ancestors (and the Gods they called to) which we are trying to keep alive through memory and veneration, nor our descendants who wish to have a Tradition of antiquity to follow that’s not created by cultural appropriation.

Be Bold! Learn about your Cultural Heritage and build a solid foundation upon which a spiritual tradition that was once alive and well can get some new life and remain, living breathing and very distinctly recognizable!

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