Some of the comments I’m getting on Facebook and in my email concerning my recent posts on the variants of Heathendom reflect a sense of the subtlety and overlap in various “sects” of Heathenism.
Let me tell you a little about my Granddad.
Granddad was a Scotsman. (He was adopted into a Cherokee family, which is a story for another day, but he maintained a pride in his Argyle roots.) He was, by all accounts, a mean so’v’abitch, but that’s not the point of the story.
One day at a pub, surrounded by Callahans and Rileys, he introduced himself as XXX MacXXX. They embraced him as a son of Éirinn. He clarified, in no uncertain terms that he was – to be *very* clear – a son of Alba.
“Same ting!” One of the Rileys proclaimed.
Granddad leaned in, I always imagine he did so menacingly, “Maybe to an Irishman, but no’to a Scotsman.”
Then, I imagine he smeared his face with Wode and shouted, “Alba Gu Bràth!” while slicing the throats of various English bystanders. Of course, he didn’t, but I can dream, can’t I?
The whole point is that to an outsider, all of the Goidelic peoples look the same. Politically, a Scotsman knows how he is different from a Manx and and an Irishman.
The same holds true for Gemanic peoples. Even in modern-day Germany, a Northerner will quickly differentiate herself from a Bavarian. In the US, a Southerner will not only make sure that she is not confused with a Yankee, but will correct a Carolinian trying to pass Charleston off as “The Deep South.” Heck no, babies. Some of us, regardless of what the final vote was, consider North Carolina a “bow-dah state” at best; and we remain ambivalent about South Carolina. And we all know that Florida and Texas, while geographically south of the rest of y’all, is not The South. It’s a matter of culture and politics rather than geography.
Apply that to Heathenism. I can tell you about the definitions and geographies and histories until the cows come home, unless you have an insight into the politics of Heathen culture, it’s not going to amount to a hill of beans.
So to be clear – what might look like a subtle difference on paper, is a politico-cultural chasm. One which can rub people the wrong way.
Like omitting the “a” in Granddad’s Mac.