The inevitable connection of Germanic paganism and Nazism
If one has been pagan for any amount of time, one will know the struggle of his religion and symbols being associated with Nazism, racism, white supremacy and other ultra-right wing ideologies and the prejudices people hold against followers of the Germanic neopaganism. Starting at the end of the 19th century, folkisch ideologies, mysticism, and poor historical understanding of the beliefs and lives of the Germanic tribes in Middle and Northern Europe mixed together into a horrid farce of a religious belief and soon became common among fascists, Nazis and other racists. Their beliefs had little to do with what we think the people of the Viking Age or even further back believed in. They were plump justifications for their racism, chauvinism and – in the worst case – for genocide and horrid experiments of racial hygiene and eugenics. Since this time, efforts to revive this ancient religion have always been tainted by neonazis and other right wing groups, forming a very negative public image. There exists no conclusive groundwork on how any “völkisch” heathens there are and how many are just somewhere in the bounds of the normal political spectrum and any estimate on how the distribution looks like is going to be very inaccurate since many groups – right wing and “normal” alike – tend to stay very private and to their own – though I ultimately intend to change that in the process of my scholastic work. No matter how disconnected “Ásatrú” ever becomes from the horrible beliefs of the Third Reich, there will always be the assumption of racism and Nazism first and we have to disprove it, putting many of us instantly on the defensive. In the following I’d like to argue for a completely apolitcal paganism, one that is completely disconnected from any desire to shape modern society.
I believe that religion must always be apolitcal, because it comes corruptible when it becomes involved with politics. Firstly, if we let religion be an influence on political decisions, we are actively killing separation of church and state, since we let our non-provable, very personal beliefs bleed into real life politics and society. Religion can answer questions, that science cannot, but never with certainty, and that is why it can never be a motor for rational decisions in the now. It can and should guide your moral compass, it should make you question your choices and personality, but it should never be something to force unto others or be thought of as provable fact.
Secondly, I think that a religion that very much not focused on society and governing is in any way a good handbook for political decisions, especially with how little we know about actual beliefs from the time and how much we need to reconstruct/create in order to have a complete picture. Modern political situations, modern societal conflict, nation states, borders and understand of rule are completely foreign to the people that once practiced a version of this faith over 1000 years ago and therefore their religion is not fit to tell us anything more than basics on how to act today. We need to look for core values, that the songs of the Elder Edda tell us and look within our hearts to see what we think is right and see what political ideologies fit us from there. Not everyone will come to the same conclusion, not everyone will agree with one another. But we need to accept that our gods do not dictate a singular political ideology and that they don’t tell us to kill anyone or hate anyone. We are bound by nornweaved fate, but we are still in control of what we do and we are responsible for the actions that we decide to commit to.
For me, “Forn Siðr” has always been a religion of nature and communing with the very nature of our own being. A political, modern-day focused interpretation has never occurred to me and has therefore never made sense to me. Go into nature. Breath the spirits. Honor your ancestors, for they live in you. Be one with nature. I will leave you with Panopticons new masterpiece dealing with the destruction of nature by man and bid you farewell, until next we meet.