Saturday, August 21, 2010

Racism, Paganism, bioregionalism and identity

"So, since I am not a "nazi" I began to use another term, in the late 90ies. I did it not just to avoid confusion, but also to find a term more suitable and accurate than the other terms I had used. This new term was odalism, from Norse óðal ("homeland", "allodium", "allodial law", "nobility", "noble", "inherited goods", "fatherland", "land property", "distinguished family", "distinguished", "splendid", "kin" and "the nation"). This term replaces everything positive about all the other -isms I have ever used, and in it lies Paganism, traditional nationalism, racialism and environmentalism. It is not only a more accurate but also a more inclusive term that can be used by all Europeans (and others too for that sake). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is not a term tainted by history.

If we have a positive relationship to our homeland, to our blood, to our race, to our religion and to our culture we will not destroy any of this with modern "civilization" (id est capitalism, materialism, Judeo-Christianity, pollution, urbanization, race mixing, Americanization, socialism, globalization, et cetera). The "nazi ghost" has scared millions of Europeans from caring about their blood and homeland for sixty years now, and it is about time we banish this ghost and again start to think and care about the things that (whether we like it or not) are important to us."

Varg Vikernes
(July 2005)
First of all I would like to mention how disturbing the above quote is to me... But I would like to mention why it is that I thought it important to post it...
As in many ideologies the fascism is hard to see...

I have lots of friends who are into METAL, lots of black metal and, Norse inspired metal is becoming popular in the PNW and local cascadian black metal bands with heavy pagan undertones are becoming very popular, some focusing on bioregional concepts as well as pagan roots, maybe its the cloudy weather... its like Fenris has still eaten the sun here. A fascinating aspect of the metal culture is the embrace of paganism, and traditional norse roots. There is a very hard core rejection of judeo-christian spirituality, and a violent one at that some times. This rejection has even moved into European movements towards radical race based bioregional paganism. Ancestral and tribal in nature working the same father land like values of the Germanic people of world war too. The notion is reject that which is not of the father land. We are the father land, those that are not the father land are not our people, they are not human, their ways, and traditions do not belong on our land, nor do they. The identification and association of race, land and heritage, along with politics, and spirituality is not an old notion, it is still prevalent in MANY cultures, and many traditions, including native American sentiments. This relationship of race with bioregionalism and spirituality can be a dangerous one. Rights to land, rights to traditions and much more can be utilized to alienate others and to create societies of exclusivity. Depth psychologists such as Thomas Moore have dubbed this relational dynamic over the years Tribalism, and have equated it to a sort of alienating sort of practice which has seeds in nationalism, racism, religiosity, and ethnocentrism. Ive not always agreed with him on this note... however with the above quote from norse black metal musician and convicted murderer Varg Vikernes ( one of the original church burners) we see signs of what he is saying quite strongly. We see it in Norse pagan hate crimes in Europe. The Mentioning of Race Hygiene and Eugenics among "Odinists" another such example as is the notion of Odalism in the above quote.

These are ways of relating... and I would not say healthy ones at all.

I would never hope to see Bioregional animism, or paganism adopted by such notions or racial purity and entitlement. In fact I think that Bioregional animism as we know it and paganism is in direct opposition to such ways of relating, in that BRA creates a understanding that we are all the land we live upon regardless of race. Our bodies are all composed of the place we live within,and BRA encourages a full awareness and identity of that fact... but not in a socio-political format but a transpersonal/ecopsychological stand point. When we are in full awareness of our self as place we see others in the same light. We see others in our land as part of that ecological self we share with one another.
But what does this say of race and identity and place? Race from what my old anthropology teacher used to drive into our skulls is a political perspective and has no other foundation in reality. Given enough time people adapt to the ecology of the life place, it is the politics of culture and ethnicity that we confuse with these adaptions. What does this mean to the concepts of traditional lands? what does this do to the concepts of ancestral heritage and entitlement to place? These are highly complex issues, but they are political in nature and it is important to understand that. It is also important to recognize that regardless of these politics the reality of the matter is... we are the life place, despite, or nationality, despite our ethnicity, despite our politics, and ancestral heritage, those who live within the life place for 7 years are that place, every cell of their body is that land we stand upon the the sky we fill each cell with. This is the reality... we share this one body and self we call the life place, the bioregion. The politics that ignore that fact are aberrations.
Yet what about celebrating our diversity, our uniqueness, our differences? Bioregional animism and paganism does not seek to homogenize culture and do away with concepts of race? No not at all! We wish to celebrate it from point of view of difference not being a force of separation, but instead we recognize that like all of the unique other than human persons of place we are one. We are land, and sky, starting first and for most in our life place... and moving on from there to the whole of creation, this includes all peoples. Though not all peoples will get along peacefully all the time, the cat people and the dog people are excellent examples of this, it is something to strive for.
It is my hope that I have been able to share these ideas in such a way that does not inspire bioregional cultures of exclusivity, racism, nationalism and religiosity, but the opposite.My hope is that as Cascadian black metal spreads, the concepts of bioregional idenity and spirituality within examples such at Burzum can be seen as the ecofacism they are,and that concepts of Odalism do not become prevalent and preached within the subculture but can be identified as what to avoid within these emerging bioregional counter/sub cultures.