This article has been updated as of 02/09/2017 to reflect changes in the wording of the Inclusion Affirmation Statement.
It’s no secret that Heathenry, Asatru, and Germanic Pagan groups are often associated with white supremacist ideologies. Since the Nazis co-opted Germanic Pagan symbolism and mythology in their rise to power, some of Heathenry’s most sacred symbols have been used to promote hatred. Because of this many neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and followers of alt-right ideology are attracted to Heathenry.
It’s an incredibly frustrating fact for those of us who are trying to live in an authentic spiritual tradition. Couple that with the reluctance of many of Germanic Pagan groups to denounce discriminatory words or actions, and it’s no wonder that the larger world mostly associates Heathenry with hatred.
Thankfully, the recent weeks of the Trump presidency have spurred many to action. Just as many of my liberal friends have discovered their voices, calling senators and marching in protests; Heathen organization The Troth has made some changes as well.
The Troth’s Oath of Service was updated in October 2016, to read: With the Troth I stand against any use of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, ableism, or any other form of prejudice. In addition, the Troth is requiring all members with titled positions to take this oath.
This is a huge step forward for the organization, which in the past has been hesitant to take measures such as prohibiting dual membership between the Troth and the Asatru Folk Assembly. The AFA is widely known to espouse white supremacist ideology. With this step, as explained in the Troth’s FAQ, all officers are held to a standard not only of non-discrimination, but of expressing that stance when faced with a difficult situation.
The second change is the release of an Inclusion Affirmation Statement, which reads: I agree to keep frith with all Troth members regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, gender, or family structure. This statement is to be featured on many pages of the website, including both the Join and Renew pages.
As of February 9th, the wording of the statement has been changed to read: I agree to treat all Troth members with respect regardless of tradition, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, gender, or family structure in accordance with the Bylaws and policies of The Troth.
I feel that these two actions are great steps forward for a group that has had trouble finding its footing between the folkish and universalist divide among Heathens. There is still a lot of work left to be done, and perhaps there always will be. Heathenry is, after all, largely the domain of straight white males; and it will take time to unlearn the prejudices that we all hold.
To be honest, at times I question my identification with the label ‘Heathen’. There are those whose opinions I value who have stepped away from that word these past few years. But I keep the term. I realize that as long as I honor Germanic deities, as long as I use the runes and other symbols of my religion, I will be associated with these people whose ideologies I so despise.
Yet there are those, like the leadership of the Troth, that are fighting back against this association. I lend my voice to theirs in calling for a more inclusive Heathenry.