Saturday, 3 September 2011

Reclaiming One of Our Holy Symbols


 by Mark Ludwig Stinson, Jotun's Bane Kindred, Temple of Our Heathen Gods - http://www.heathengods.com- http://www.facebook.com/notes/temple-of-our-heathen-gods/reclaiming-one-of-our-holy-symbols/10150215572958956?ref=nf

One thing is certain, the fylfot is an ancient symbol among our heathen ancestors, and it never represented anything to do with Racism, Nazi's, genocide or evil among our ancestors.  Our religious use of it has nothing to do with Racism, genocide, or evil.  Recently we posted a link to a photo album showing our Holy offering to the Gods for this year's Midsummer Faining.  Our offering features a fylfot or swastika on it, as a symbol of the sun, of Luck, strength, and power.  Some say that the fylfot is a symbol of Mjolnir whirling, crackling with the power of Thor.  Regardless, true heathens do not use this symbol as a symbol of Hate. 


Thor's Hammer Whirling...
Cultures world-wide have used this symbol as something powerful and positive for 1000's of years.  And that includes ancient heathens in Northern and Central Europe.  To read more about it, try these links or do some research of your own:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika or http://history1900s.about.com/cs/swastika/a/swastikahistory.htm

This is a symbol that we have been using correctly from the day our kindred started.  Many good and fair-minded kindreds here in the Midwest use this symbol as a Holy Symbol both at Midsummer and at Yule.  I've shared some of those photos here with this note.

Fylfot on our Symbel Bowl
Yet, despite the fact we clearly explained our use of the symbol within the context of our Faith, over and over again, there are people who seem to love the dramatic and the controvertial more than they like the truth.  They would like to say that somehow we are Racist for using our Holy symbol in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with Racism.

What is amazing to me, is that over and over again we have posted essays and information that clearly underline that we are not Racist, do not support Racists, and reject the idea of any sort of Racist ideology within Asatru or Heathenry.  Here is a sampling if you'd like to read them....

Race and Ethnicity Within Asatru: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=290470538955
 
Clearing Up Misconceptions New Heathens Might Have: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150099643493956

Prison Kindreds vs. Kindreds Outside of Prison: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=486325058955

Respecting the Autonomy of Other Kindreds and Tribes: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=402576053955

Yule log with Fylfot
A Midsummer Wreath from a Couple of Years Ago
 Our gatherings are open to all Asatruars and Heathens, regardless of race or ethnicy.  Our kindred has had an oathed member that was not Northern European in background.  And over and over again we had defended the autonomy of each kindred to make its own decisions regarding ethnicity, and all other issues internal to that kindred.

Some have suggested that we must HIDE this Holy symbol.  I fail to see how hiding a symbol that we hold as Holy, as if we have something to be ashamed of in constructive in any way.  If you are going to hide the symbol, what does that say about how you view the symbol in the context of your Faith.  And how much worse is it, when you get caught hiding the symbol.  The very fact you are hiding it, suggests clearly that you have something to hide.  You are better off using the symbol openly, and making the effort to educate people about its meaning to you.

A Midsummer Fylfot Wreath Burning
Some have suggested we disguise the symbol.  Always present it in its rounded form, with rounded ends to the arms.  Drop an arm or add 4 more arms.  Close the circle, so no one actually recognizes it.  Or add other elements to sort of make the symbol something else.  I've done all of these things at time.  Not to disguise the symbol, but because some of these variations are equally legitimate and look great.  But, I've been told that I HAVE TO disguise it.  And I don't feel I should HAVE TO disguise it, as long as I put the symbol in context and educated people as to what it means to us within our Faith.

A Burnt Yule log with Fylfot
 Some have suggested that this symbol is just "too tainted" and that we must abandon it altogether.  I would give this warning to all that would hear.  It was not that long ago that the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Thor's Hammer was a hate symbol.  There are prison administrations right now, who classify all of our symbols (Thor's Hammer, runes, etc.) as hate symbols and something to take notice of.  I know a heathen prison guard who had runes written on his notebook, and was made the subject of an investigation by his superiors.  So, where do we stop in abandoning symbols important to our ancestors?  If we are always coming at this from a position of fear, then where do we stop?  Will you give up your hammer if enough people feel it is a racist symbol?  Will you give up your runes?  Despite all the hatred and pain inflicted in the name of the Christian cross, will they give up their symbol?  No, because they know what it means to them, and they know the importance it hold for them.  Why are heathens attacking other heathens for their positive use of a Symbol they hold as Holy?

A Midsummer Wreath at Another Kindred's Event

 Finally, we are not telling you that you need to use the symbol.  But, what right does anyone have to read our words, see how we are using the symbol in a positive and Holy way, see that we are educating others as to the true meaning of the Symbol for us, and then ignore all of that and condemn us as "racist?"  Whether you like the fact that we use the Symbol or not, whether you think our efforts to reclaim our Holy symbol for its true meaning are wise or not, and whether you want to follow a similar course or not, it is something we are doing.

This Year's Midsummer Wreath

If contrary to all of our past writings, work, and effort on behalf of the greater heathen community, people want to shamefully spread misinformation that we are racists...then let that shame rest on them.  If contrary to everything we have done and said on this matter, people want to shamefully ignore all of that and try to smear us with lies...then let that shame rest on them.  And to all of our friends, thank you for being intelligent enough, learned enough, and discerning enough to seperate the wheat from the chaff and know that we are the same good and fair-minded people we have always been.
     
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods
http://www.heathengods.com

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