There are a few things I’ve been wondering about. Either because they make no sense to me or because I’m pondering a connection between two seemingly unrelated things. I won’t load them all on you at once, I’ll do them one at a time.
Glenn Beck Rally and Modern Heathens: The Glenn Beck rally, presented in the media as a political event, was nothing of the sort and was never billed that way. In fact, it was promoted as apolitical and people were told to keep the signs and t-shirts at home, thankyouverymuch. What it was was a patriotic tent revival fundraiser. Respect was shown to our nation’s warriors and 5 million dollars were raised to help the families of the fallen. They were lauded, thanked, and the warrior path was talked about as an honorable one. The entire audience was there to recommit themselves to a concept of “personal honor” (acting with honor and integrity) and to do so by recommitting yourself to your faith and your God. To “hasten to retrace our steps” back to the Great American Experiment.
“These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.” Thomas Jefferson
The rally was a huge success. Not only was attendance larger than I think anyone expected, the crowd was extremely receptive to the concepts of personal (and community) honor, turning back to God, showing respect for our military and their families, and pride in your community and our country. This is hitting such a chord and I think it is a mistake to ignore it, as some of our political leaders are doing.
Which brings me to American Heathens. You may not have noticed it, since Heathens don’t interact as much with other contemporary Pagans, but their numbers are growing. I don’t have hard figures, heck we don’t have hard figures on anything to do with Paganism, but I’m observing the Heathen community gaining in numbers. I’m seeing more festivals with higher attendance. Heathens are getting married to other Heathens and raising their children in the faith. They join and they seem to stay. Wicca is no longer the gateway drug on the path to hardcore Asatru, seekers are starting and staying with Odin and Thor. How soon until Heathens are the majority portion of Pagans?
Part of that, I believe, has to do with the religion itself and shares much with the reasons for success of Glenn Beck’s rally.
More than any other form of Paganism, the warrior path is respected and honored in Heathenry. Police and military members are not called crypto-fascists and told that their career is incompatible with their religion. Family members aren’t shamed by co-religionists. You can be a pacifistic or a Navy Seal and you are welcomed into the Heathen community.
Honor, both your own and how your actions reflect on and impact your community, are important in Heathenry. Acting with integrity, especially when it is hard and offers you no tangible benefit, is highly regarded. Taking pride in yourself, your abilities, and your community is not seen as a danger, but reinforces spending your time, money and energy on things that positively benefit all three.
And turning back to the Gods. Honoring them, praying to them. Living your life as an offering to them. Finding value in religious traditions and comfort in knowing that others have tread this path for thousands of years. Feeling connection to those in the past and those around you through shared rituals.
Looking to the past for community values that you believe in and bringing those back into your life. A combination of self-reliance and independence while understanding that bonds of family and friendship have to be maintained and nurtured for mutual survival.
All of that is also striking a chord, a very similar chord, amongst those who are or become American Heathens. Like the persons who attended the Glenn Beck rally, they do so in face of cries of racism, bigotry, and misrepresentations by the Press. And like the rally, this message is resonating within people’s souls and it is a mistake for contemporary Pagans to ignore this.
I am neither a Glenn Beck listener nor am I a Heathen. These are just my thoughts from the outside looking in. From talking to those who went to the rally and those who are Heathen (although not both, I haven’t yet found a Heathen who also went to the Beck rally). I just see some parallels between the two and I find neither one, as long as they are focused internally, frightening, hateful, or worthy of my scorn.