The Obligatory Universalist/Tribalist/Folkish Deal

I’m not a hipster. I didn’t get into Tribalism “before it was cool”. In fact, when I first discovered the customs under the term “Heathen”, I had yet to hear about it. It had been forming for some time before I had become a part of Heathendom. In reality, this is one of those “obligatory” posts. As the lines between Universalist/Tribalist/Folkish have become more clearly drawn, it becomes almost necessary to state where you fall in that spectrum.

So, in this case, I figure, I might as well get this part “done and over with”. So, to some this may not need explanation, if you’ve interacted with me beforehand. I’m not, at first interested in posting things on *too* many definitive stances. I am only one half of Þunresfolc Hearþ, after all. However, I feel I most likely have Cyndre’s agreement on this one. So, to state: Þunresfolc Hearþ is a Tribalist entity.

Before I go any further: This is a set of opinions. I’m not speaking in some universal truth. My words are not the “be all, end all”, and you, the reader are more than welcome to disagree. I’d like to say that this was something that required a lot of deep thought and “soul searching”. It really didn’t. I rather quickly found what I believe to be the faults of the other two schools of thought. It’s not so much, to me, a matter of politics. As I see it is the case for many others. In fact, using one’s custom as a political front disgusts me. Nor do I consider myself very political.

Others do, and would say I fall into, if you’ve seen one of those “political alignment charts”, squarely into the “libertarian left”. That is “libertarian” in the European sense and definition, not like the American political party. Socially on the Left, but opposed to government, or something like that. Good for them, I’m not really worried about it.

Whatever.

This is based on my own understanding. I am not infallible. So, as a refresher, for those who know, and a primer for those who do not know, I explain the commonly used terms, and state my opinion regarding each:

A Universalist is someone who essentially believes Heathendom is open to anyone. Regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or cultural leaning. Whether or not it is true depends on who you ask, but, it is often said that Universalists place a lot less emphasis on Heathen worldview and culture. I can only go off personal experience and say that from my interactions with them, that is true probably 75% of the time. To me, that is the equivalent of being open minded to the point everything falls out.

It is seemingly limitless, and open ended. This might appeal to some who feel that religions are overbearing and overly dogmatic. Unfortunately, this puts a lot of New Age matter injected into what is supposed to be Heathendom. That doesn’t fly with me. I’ve heard those complaints about Christianity, for example. The only problem here is that if that is what one wishes to avoid, and I’m not saying one should or shouldn’t necessarily, then it makes no sense to act as they do. Christianity, in the organizational sense, wants everyone. Well, to me, that seems inconsistent with Heathen worldview.

My personal experience is my guide here. Interactions with such people. Some of whom, I genuinely like. However, we disagree on these matters. I want quality, not quantity, personally. I also notice that some Universalists are lacking in the research department. If you’re not doing more than minimal reading, or are not being taught by someone who grasps the right concepts, you will end up with an unrooted custom. A “surface level” approach that is indistinguishable from most other Pagans, simply copying and pasting gods.

That being said, that isn’t that I don’t think they mean well. It just doesn’t do much to carve out distinct identities. So, if you’re reading this and are Universalist: I don’t hate you, or dislike you, I just don’t get it. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Only time will tell.

Next, the Folkish. The Folkist believes only those of Germanic bloodlines should be Heathen. Since it was they who were originally Heathen. Unfortunately, this attracts racism. Some believe the Folkist is more educated than the Universalist. I find this to be false. After all, if bloodlines determined your customs or religion, why conveniently skip the several centuries in which one’s ancestors were Christian? What of Stone Age customs? If you want to reconstruct based on ancestry, why not that? Since custom is determined by culture, not blood, the Folkist argument seems rather weak “from the get go”.

So, I share my experience with Folkists. Many who claim the title are outright racist. Many also seem to think being of white skin means you are descended from Arch Heathens. Hold up! Romans, Greeks, Celts, Balts, and Slavs are each umbrella terms for a massively diverse array of cultures. As are the Germanic peoples. The Basque and Finns were not even Indo-European. They had several distinct customs within those huge umbrella terms, yet are from there. To claim these cultures were basically the same is a slap in the face to those cultures and peoples. Yes, there were and are similarities, but they are not the same.

Furthermore, the concept of race as we know it today is a concept from the Catholic Church in the 15th century. In the past, each tribe was a “race”. Thus, the different Anglo-Saxon tribes saw themselves as different from each other until long after conversion. So, even that is a moot point. Plus, no one is 100% anything at this point. For example, my ancestors came from three different continents. Even in Europe, the English in me is from the Angles, Saxons, Danes, and Normans. None of whom were in Britain originally. This doesn’t even take into account the Welsh and Scottish peppered in further back!

So, it’s kind of hard to pick just one solely based on ancestry. I suspect I am far from the only one here with this scenario. I picked Fyrnsidu based on the language I speak, and the remnants of English culture in my own. Not for simply blood. However you come to it, if you do, is on you.

I will not even entertain white supremacist ideologies here. Nor will it be offered any quarter on this site. If one believes that has validity, nothing here will convince them otherwise. My “race” is my Innangeard. I invite those who don’t know what that is to read up on the concept. I am aware of how society today perceives race, and what I am to them, and realize that I am not exempt from their classifications. That’s okay. I, internally, see it a different way.

The last, of course, it Tribalism. It too, generally espouses the idea that Heathendom is open to anyone, like Universalism. However, with a catch. That is, that becoming Heathen depends on your ability to grasp the worldview of the given culture of whom you are basing your practice. For example, the goal to one in Fyrnsidu, as far as knowledge is concerned, is to attain and practice the worldview of the Heathen Anglo-Saxon, in modern society, to the most reasonable extent that can be employed.

This ties into Reconstructionist methodology as well. Which, generally speaking, I also favor. Though, to me, such methodology is the foundation, as opposed to the whole building. A starting point, as opposed to the finish. Seeing that a Tribalist approach is able to maintain a set of cultural standard, whilst saying that, as long as it is maintained, it doesn’t matter who you are. Being both welcoming, yet discerning.

To me, this seems the more reasonable approach. So, this isn’t so much a post to convince you, but to see from where I am coming.

-Ceadda

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