How Iceland recreated a Viking-age religion - The Ásatrú faith, one of Iceland’s fastest growing religions, combines Norse mythology with ecological awareness – and it’s open to all.
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- How Iceland recreated a Viking-age religion
- Gavin Haines
- Jun 5 2019
- Word count
- 1642 words
I have mad respect for the old school Ásatrú who are currently engaged in a spiritual struggle to save their religion from being appropriated by right wing nut jobs.
We Hindus are having some trouble with it ourselves and, as many generations removed spiritual cousins I feel some solidarity with the struggle.
Huh, I was not aware of that, but apparently it's a major issue. See:
What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion
That would legitimately make me uncomfortable and incredibly angry at the same time. "No, asshole, I am not a bigoted shithead like you!" Sorry to hear about your religion/spiritual practice being subverted like that. :(
Why do these alt-right idiots always try to appropriate things others have built instead of creating something themselves? It almost feels like some strange form of memetic parasitism or camouflage.
You have far more self-control and compassion than I do, that's for sure. Kudos to your response, and thanks for giving me something to think about regarding my own perception and preconceptions of alt-righters. :)
I just want to say that I really appreciate your willingness to understand and empathise. I've been where he is/was myself once.
I'm on the spectrum and had a lot of trouble in school and in social situations. During a sensitive time I found myself in a chaotic environment which contributed to a more radical mindset. I sought out others of similar mind and soon enough called myself a nationalist and "ethnopluralist" (so not red-pill as such - that's not much of a thing where I live). I was of course the hero of my own story just as everyone else is the hero of their own.
Eventually my thinking shifted as I grew more fascinated by science and gradually my obsession for ethnic and cultural preservation dissipated, and along with it my paranoia and conspiratorial ideas.
My journey through every part of the political spectrum has, I like to think, left me more humble in my understanding of people and society (not to mention the universe itself).
It's not impossible that the guy you met will eventually make the same journey and where he ends up depends in no small part on how other people treat him along the way.
There's something about the coupling of religion and politics that really bothers me. I'm not precisely sure how to explain it; something to do with the different goals and approaches to thinking and responding that politics and religion have. Or maybe it's just seeing the awful effects religious politics has had on the world, recently and further in the past.
I pretty much only wear my hammer with an anarchist shirt.
I do wonder if there is or will be a wider trend of alternative religions popping up. It seems that humans have a strong attraction to religions, but at the same time the established religions haven't really been keeping up with the times. Some people have argued that political philosophies and other ideologies have taken their place, but maybe there's room for actual new religions too?
Looking at how this Ásatrú handles things might be how other similar faiths could look like in the future. Their values seem sensible, and without too strict dogma, many traditional problems with religion could maybe be averted. Enviromentalism and religion seem to be fairly natural fit at least.
In wider world, various forms of Wicca seems to be on the rise, and witchcraft in general seems to be somewhat of a symbol for women's empowerment nowadays.
In Finland, there's also clearly growing interest in old folk faith: For example there is Taivaannaula which is an organization interested in collecting and preserving the old faith. However, they're very careful not to talk about themselves as a neo-pagan religion, consentrating on keeping actual surviving traditions alive, without getting too into what's "original" and what's later Christian additions. Karhun kansa seems to be smaller but more "serious", and are officially recognized as a religion by the state. IIRC, they have succesfully used their status to protect some sacred groves and similar natural sites in danger. Neither of them seem to be very large however.
It will be interesting to see how these develop in the future.
I don’t expect they ever will be. Actual spiritual practice takes a fair bit of work and you kind of have to structure big parts of your life around it. The modern world, with all its financial pressures, bureaucratic rigidities, and material temptations actively works against being able to do this.
Organized religions have staying power because they have literal professional clergy keeping things running, getting dedicated training and education, and have the infrastructure to handle all the bureaucratic stuff without your everyday practitioner needing to think about it.
You kind of see this with Shinto and Hinduism. As people modernized and leave their villages they don’t really practice as much of the old ways and it slowly just turns into a kind of tribalism marker with a few bits of imagery, aphorisms, superstitions, and customs attached instead of a spiritual practice. Only a minority of the people who formally identify as the religion actually engage seriously with it.
One of the Brazilian equivalents would be candomblé, and it's very much alive. I know several practitioners.
But, overall, native-Brazilian culture is losing the battle against modernization.