My intention this post is to speak of rejection. Namely, the rejection of “Old Values” for “New Values.” If this sounds familiar, it is because I’m pulling from Nietzsche on this one. With the growing movement to paganism in this and other countries, small though it may yet be in comparison to the major religions of Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. I am speaking mainly from my knowledge of Scando/Germanic paganism, rather than the new age, in relation to pagan values.
Many people, namely those in Asatru, entering the pagan religions speak of reclaiming our past heritage. This is good and noble and I support it, but there is something I wish to say, not in criticism, but in the spirit of kinship with those who are on this same journey. Before we can reclaim our past heritage, before we can return to the Gods and Goddess of old, we must first reject the current and modern values system completely and utterly. If we do not, we shall run into the same problems in our Pagan/Heathen was that we have in society now.
This will not be an easy process. It can and will take years to do. It will be violent, painful, terrible, and horrifying. You will learn things about yourself that you never thought you could be capable of. You will see the ultimate monster of what you can become. Everything you are told by society, religion, and government that is bad and evil lives inside you, and if you are to come to a full understanding of yourself and the trust nature of the pagan religions, you’re going to have to face it, acknowledge it, and embrace it. But, if you can, you’ll become a greater person for it. I know, because I speak from personal experience of my own journey into Norse Paganism.
The first of these rejections one must accomplish is the concept of Good and Evil. This may seem impossible, as it underscores the very foundations of our society. Our world is built on the Good/Evil dichotomy. It is the foundation of our laws, our morality, almost everything. We define our world in terms of Good/Evil. Racism is Evil. Greed is Evil. Charity is Good. Love is Good. Hatred is Evil. So on and so forth. Spend five minutes or five hours and you can still come up with more examples. To imagine a world without Good or Evil boggles the mind and society views anyone who can accomplish this as psychologically ill most of the time. Why then, do I say this must be done?
The answer is simple. The Western concept of Good and Evil comes from Christianity, or Judeo-Christianity depending on who is talking. (My local expert in Judaism insists the two are nothing a alike.) Christianity, on its most basic level, is the complete opposite of Norse/Scandinavian/Germanic Paganism. My research into the Norse/Germanic society has shown that the culture was based on an Honor/Shame system, not a Good/Evil system. In the Saga of the Volsungs, a killing is only murder when it is concealed. When one killed other out in the open, in an honorable manner, it was viewed as socially acceptable. Indeed, the entire Good/Evil complex is hypocritical on a basic level. Permit me to explain, using the examples above.
Love is Good. This is a fundamental tenant of Christianity. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Give charity out of love, for it is good. Yet, in this same religion, sex is viewed as evil, inextricably linked with the original sin. The ultimate physical expression of the emotion we know as love, which is good, is Evil! Homosexual love = Evil! Pedophilia = Evil! Bestiality = Evil! Bisexual love = Evil! Polygamy = Evil! On its most base, physical, and in some cases metaphysical level Love is Evil! (I do not support pedophilia or bestiality).
Mind blowing, isn’t it. Any form of love, outside of the “norm” demanded by Christianity, which is the basis behind both the conservative and liberal movements in American politics, is Evil. (I will explain this further another time.)
Let us continue onto the opposite of Love; Hatred. According to Christianity, we are taught that Hatred is Evil. Yet, immediately there is a problem. Christianity teaches that people should hate Evil. Instantly, we have a paradox. It goes even further. Anything falling outside the religion is Evil. This is true of Christianity and Islam. Paganism is Evil and thus is to be Hated and destroyed (Generally for the benefit of the infidel souls that must be saved, even if it means killing them in the process). The paradox, to destroy Evil, one must commit Evil, but by doing it in the name of Good, one is by de facto being Good. This has exposed itself time in again with Crusades, Jihads, and the systematic hunting down and killing of millions of Heathens, Pagans, Witches, Wizards, Alchemists, Homosexuals, and too many others to name. This also exposes itself in the political arenas, but that is for another time. It is also the basis for the Modern concept of Racism.
Now, what about the Honor/Shame system? Well, it works in much the opposite. Take Charity for instance. Charity is Good, sacrificing from oneself for another is Good. Yet, by the Honor/shame system, Charity can be both good and bad (Good/Bad being different from Good/Evil, in that Good/Bad is based on the outcome for the individual or group performing the deed, rather than any moral sense.) I shall give a personalized example, the recent crisis in Haiti. Now, no one can argue that giving charity to Haiti is Evil, but rather it is Good. Fair enough. But is giving Charity to Haiti Honorable or Shameful. This is far trickier to answer. On the one hand, Norse/Germanic culture did indeed have charity and gift giving. Indeed, the meats and other foods sacrificed to the gods were often giving to the poor and destitute peoples of a clan/tribe and this was considered very Honorable. Now, where can charity be shameful? Yes, when one gives charity to a person outside one’s tribe while members of one’s people are in need and you can help them.
How many people here in America need help feeding and housing themselves? I’m not talking about White/Europeans. I mean everyone, Black/White/Yellow/Red/etc. In this sense, horrid though it may sound, it is shameful to give charity to Haiti. There are people here in America that need help and yet our Government is digging us deeper in debt to give aid to Haiti and ignoring our own citizens. A perhaps even better example is Oprah’s school. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of Black children who are failing out of school or not even going. Yet, instead of helping her own race here in America, Oprah opens a school on a completely different continent. It isn’t that African children don’t need schools, they do, it is just that there are children not a hundred miles from Oprah that need one, who are citizens of this country and of her own people.
You may not agree with me, which is fair. I don’t expect you to. It’s a lot to take in. You might even consider it Evil, horrible, or inhuman. I’d be surprised if you didn’t. We are conditioned to believe that way.
This is why I say the first rejection; indeed the very foundations of rejections need to be made before one who wishes to truly embark on a journey into paganism, is to remove the Good/Evil dichotomy from your very soul. There is no action that cannot be morally justified under religion if take in the name of that religion. Be it Dehumanization, Racism, Rape, Murder, all these and more. I know this, because it has been done a million times by a million people in ever era of human history.
Only by rejecting it can we get over the self hatred that fills every part of western society. While my words are meant for those seeking a return to their Western European roots like those in Asatru, these words are applicable to all peoples. Honor and Shame will let us deal with each other, if not as equals, at least as honest peoples worthy of respect.
By embracing the Honor/Shame system, we permit ourselves to return to a system of Nobility. Nobility exists beyond Good and Evil. It sees what is Just, what is Powerful, what is best for the person living a Noble life, and for the people who follow that Noble Individual. It permits each Man, each Woman, to become even more than they were, to remove the limitations of Good/Evil and to make us something, to Quote Nietzsche once more, Beyond Good and Evil.
It can make us human.