Problems with cultural pride — if you’re white.

I have said much the same, and we will no doubt repeat it again and again as the conversation continues, but one thing I wanted to make special note of: Orlog! The way we can move in the world now is always, always shaped by what has come before. The racism and atrocities committed by our ancestors and those others who came before us do not stop affecting the world we live in today just because we find acknowledging those effects inconvenient.

As we respect the Ancestors, as we are bound by Orlog, so we MUST acknowledge and respect that how we represent ourselves as Heathens, as people of Northern European ancestry, as “white” Americans, is necessarily constrained by the effect we will have on our fellow human beings. No, we are NOT free to do as we please without consequence. We never were. No one is free of Orlog.

Cast Adrift: My Unmoored Path

As I write this, Beth’s daughter (again, my not-quite-step-daughter) is in NYC taking part of the protests going on there. I’ve got various news sites running in the background. I’ve touched base with her before the march began, and I’ve been up and down all night, sick to my stomach with worry. She’s with her boyfriend, whom we haven’t met, and whose skin color I do not know. I found myself torn between hoping she was with him — because the idea of her being with a man potentially provides her additional security that being with a bunch of girlfriends may not provide — and hoping she wasn’t — because what sort of attention may she receive if she’s with a black man? We are proud that she’s involving herself with these very important protests, but I still want to curl up and cry, I still want to vomit, I’m…

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About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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3 Responses to Problems with cultural pride — if you’re white.

  1. It is heartening to see actions taken about racist Heathen groups. I hope it can be an example to other groups (like extreme metal fans).

    I think a fine point of distinction can be made between “We are responsible for the effects done on the world by our ancestors” (privilege) and “We are to blame for what our ancestors did”. I don’t agree with that last one. A child is born to some extent innocent of bearing ill will. Our ancestors are responsible for decisions they made, we are responsible for our own decisions and working to improve the world as it currently is.

    Not sure what Orlog is, can you explain?


    • EmberVoices says:

      Orlog is “cosmic law”. The laws of physics are all part of Orlog, for example – we can’t fly because gravity. But Cause begets Effect is also part of Orlog, and so Orlog shapes what is possible based on what has come before.

      Wyrd, by contrast, is… well it’s a few different things. It’s often compared to or translated as Luck, or Fate, because Wyrd refers to what is most likely to happen, what is necessary. But Wyrd is what ties all that IS together. In a way, I suppose you could say Wyrd is What IS because of what COULD be. Orlog is What IS because of what CAN’T be.

      It’s… sometimes hard for me to describe very well.


    • EmberVoices says:

      Also, yes, I don’t usually find blame very useful in general. Seeking blame is for seeking punishment. I rarely find punishment solves problems in and of itself.

      What I want to know is the location of Power, Responsibility, and Authority. If they don’t match, there may be problems. Giving someone authority while stripping them of power, for example, is setting them up to fail. Holding someone responsible while stripping them of power leads to blame and scapegoating. But if there is power and it is not held responsible, that, too, is a major problem.



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