Folkists and Racists

I read an article about an group claiming to be Asatru who were meeting in a public park. Concerned citizens thought they looked suspicious and called the authorities. They were kicked out of the park and told not to come back. After they protested to the park administration, they were told that the person who made such an order was in the wrong and that they were allowed to peacefully practice their religion in the park. I thought that would be great to point out as an example of law trumping religious oppression. Then the article went on to describe the group's "folkist" ways. I was so disappointed.

The folkists are one type of whites-only group claiming to be Asatru. They don't think they are white-supremacist because they aren't trying to stop people of other races or ethnicities from existing, they just think those people should go worship their own ancestral gods and leave ours to people whose ancestors worshipped Them. Basically, they don't want to associate with people from other races and they want to feel special because of the color of their skin.

One of the most commonly cited parts of religion they use to support their opinion is the Lay of Rig, also called the Rigsthula. In this tale, which you can find in the Poetic Edda, the God Heimdal travels to the Middle Garden using the name Rig. He visits three separate couples and, in the appropriate time, each couple produces a child. (In earlier times, an honored guest might engage with a wife or daughter as sometimes happens in primitive societies today.) These children become the progenitors of the typical three social levels, Thrall, Karl, and Jarl.

Thrall is described as having darker skin and is best at labor, but maybe not the tasks one would ascribe to a more intelligent person. And that's it; that's the reason that the racists have for thinking that their racism is supported. That one tiny bit in one of the Eddas. They ignore that even in the other cultures of the world, the workers grow darker in color because of exposure to the sun. They ignore that even Thrall was the son of Heimdal, one our Gods. No, these people are not reading this Edda for its true purpose; they read only something that they think supports the racism that is already in them. They ignore that all humans are descended from Ash and Elm; it doesn't specify that this was only white humans.

The real function of the Rigsthula is to explain why people are different. Within any group, some are stronger and some are weaker, some are smarter and some less so. Any group of humans will form into a tribal organism with people taking the roles of leader, worker, defender, thinker, or healer to some degree or other. In small groups, the roles will overlap a bit. In large groups, there are enough people to allow specialization. We get together and form an animal made of many in the same way our cells specialize and form our bodies. Of course, the geneticists will point out that not everyone gets the best combinations of genes. Statistically, the majority get a middling combination of good and bad (the descendants of Karl), some get a worse combination (the children of Thrall), and the rest get really lucky (the children of Jarl). Though the Rigsthula only describes three levels, we know that the levels are really a continuum that transitions evenly from one end to the other.

One other important note about the Rigsthula has to do with the heir of Jarl. Jarl (meaning Earl) and his wife Erna (the Efficient) had many sons who grew up strong and bold. They all picked on the one son, Kon the youngest, who seemed to fixate on learning more than fighting. They knew he would never be good enough to take the place of Jarl. Well, it was that son whom Heimdal visited and taught much lore. It was that son who replaced Jarl as the leader. The name Kon is etymologically related to the work King. The point of this part of the tale is that just being born in one of the groups doesn't mean your get to stay there. Being born at one level gives you an advantage, but you may not have the strength or brains to stay there.

The Gods are the Gods. They are known to change their appearance and mannerisms based on the human with whom they are interacting. That's why the Norse would talk to Odin in their language and the Saxons would talk to Wotan in theirs. It takes no stretch of the imagination to see Thor being called Shango when he visits Nigeria. We are all allies of the Gods. Who is really going to stand up and say, "Hey you! You aren't allowed to worship or serve the Gods!" The only I can think of who would say this is someone who has been tricked by the enemies of the Gods themselves.

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