A Pagan Priest’s Response to the Horror of Charlottesville

I honor Heather Heyer as an ancestral hero. She is a modern Valkyrie. May she pass on to her ancestors and her gods and be honored by all those who remember her.

She died protesting Nazis last night.

Let me say that again: I honor an American woman who died in an American city protesting people carrying flags bearing images of runes and confederate flags. She died standing up against armed men demanding that people with darker skin get back in line and bow their heads to White Man. She died because an American man willfully drove over her with a car because she dared to say that all of us are equal.

I call on all our pagan clergy to actively stand in opposition to this violence and hate.

Protest with people raising their fists
By Nathan Keirn from Kadena-Cho, Japan (NAK_2421.jpg; to the Commons uploaded by odder) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I call on ADF Druid leadership to speak out! I call on the Archdruid and the Mother Grove to state that hate with the symbols of our religion is not acceptable.  Choosing to not speak is an action in and of itself. Each of us needs to think very carefully about who we are and what we stand for. What does our religion stand for? Does it stand by while our symbols are used for hate?

We are a religious group that focuses on European Hearth Cultures. We worship Norse and Germanic Gods. We must be actively be speaking against these actions. Silence makes us complicit. My ethics require me to protect those who are being threatened in word and deed. I have been taught that it is important to respect others’ beliefs. But I cannot respect these beliefs. I cannot respect these actions. I will not agree to disagree on these issues anymore. People are dying in our country for these things.

Runes have no room for racism. with runes and the ADF Logo
Image made by Rev. Michael J Dangler of Three Cranes Grove. Not endorsed by ADF.

I am horrified as a Euro-Religionist that runes and our symbols are being co-opted by White Supremacists. This is not some history in a book or a museum to tour. This is not a movie that we can watch. We are not here to be entertained and elevated by the actions of Frodo and Samwise.

This is the real world. This is our nation. This is our religion. We cannot stand by. If there was ever a time for indignation it is now.

Heather Heyer’s Facebook cover says, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”

We all must pay attention. This is our moment. This is our history in the making. Many years from now there will be history books written about these days. We know that history is written by the victors. We still don’t know who will win, because this has not yet been decided.

We all must learn how to respond to these things. We must demand that our authorities take action. If this had been Black men with guns and cars, killing and injuring white people you all know Trump would have been all over that with a side of chips.   But he wasn’t. The Governor of Virginia says “Shame on you” and “Go home” and the news applauds him as condemning death and hate. He sounds like these Nazis are naughty teenagers caught spray painting the high school gym. This is not outrage. This is not how Muslims would be treated. Muslims would be labeled terrorists and criminals. White people are told to go home and be good.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”

We all have daily choices to make. We can pretend that the status quo is fine. We can continue on with our lives as they are, or we can make space and time to educate ourselves. Donate to the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law. Take action. Support local Black Lives Matter groups. Take peacekeeping training. When your racist uncle and cousins say something about niggers at the family reunion, speak up! Say something about it. Since you will have already educated yourself, you’ll have something to say, right? We each need to make space for this in our lives.

If you don’t know what to do, read this.

I light the Flame of Hope everyday as a way to remind myself that I must take action. I do this through my words, through my blog, through teaching, donating, making art, marching, calling my congress people. I seek out the voices of those who are marginalized and I listen to them, even when it hurts my feelings or makes me uncomfortable. I sit with those feelings and work through them myself without burdening those who have been fighting this battle their whole lives. People of color don’t get a choice to be in this fight. It is my white privilege that I do have a choice.

I am asking you, as pagans, as druids, as those who honor the earth and the old gods, do not let those who would hate be the winners. There is only one way to make sure that doesn’t happen. We must fight. We must decide which side of history we will be on.

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