I really feel like Paganism is a Eurocentric thing. Non-european indigenous religions seem to prefer not to be called “pagan,” a pejorative word that has been used against them for centuries. At the heart of the word Paganism are references to European indigeny, and nowhere else do you find a people using the term “pagan” to refer to its own ‘backwards’ people. If you were to draw a diagram of Pagan traditions, organizations, people and movements on which you placed these, prioritizing them by research and scholarship so that groups who value these things fall toward the center; you’d see that those who are getting closest to the moments before Christianity rolled in are the reconstructionists. They are those who perform the research that gets appropriated by other groups replacing their poorly constructed notions, such as Wiccan karma or others. But from this perspective, at the heart of the Neopagan world are the Reconstructionist faiths, as unpopular as they are, because they are closest to our animist, pagan ancestors.
I am not currently sure if the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) identifies with the term “reconstructionist Pagan,” but they are clearly using reconstructionist methods. So, when groups like the AFA says what they said in their recent post, combining their Pagan methodology with racist and purist ideals, who inimical to them is the most responsible for speaking out against it? Who is responsible for bringing it up and expressing disapproval? While you might think it everyone’s responsibility, and while that is absolutely true, I think that the leadership and influencers of reconstructionist groups should be the key responders to stuff like this.
For those Pagans that haven’t practiced a mystery tradition or mysticism which teaches the inner workings of the psyche and soul, however, it’s important to realize that the ego and consciousness that we are aware of is but a flower in field of a greater mental ecosystem. Research shows that brain activity is a symphony of collaboration between twelve epicenters in the brain. We aren’t yet close to understanding how the mind works, but through devotional practices and dedication to animism and polytheism, we begin to pull back the veil of the mind where we can catch glimpses of this world. This is precisely why I know in my bones that there aren’t any wise men and women of the gods in these racist, transphobic organizations. It’s as if their external ideology reveals no inner holiness, which should be plain to the intuitive eye.
Inside our minds are unchallenged notions, assumptions, and behavioral programming which can take on a mind of its own. So as an act of mental discipline, we visit these things, question them, and remove that which is within us but lacks merit. This is called shadow work. Notions like white pride, white culture, and a white race are society’s current lies which work their way into our shadows and psyches. Before the new notion of whiteness was widely used and accepted, we were German, Irish, Polish, etc. When folks operate and behave on whiteness, especially when doing so unconsciously, they empower and enable racist programing and thinking to grow and dominate their understanding. This is true even if they have black children, black friends, or persons of color esteemed in their lives.
As reconstructionists we bring the best aspect forward from our pre-Christian ancestors’ faith, we do not throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to progress and transformation. Some of what’s old is stale and not worthy of our practice. Let those who eat old spiritual sustenance which is rotten suffer from lack of nourishment. Let their motivations and courages be drained from them so that their endeavors fail. So be it.