ASHEVILLE (TWH) – As the early reports of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand began to come in, concern rippled through the Pagan community. The accused’s attack left 50 people dead and 50 more wounded, with the shooter live-streaming it, in real-time, to social media. In the aftermath, social media outlets scrambled to remove the video from various the various platforms where it had posted and shared.
Within minutes of the mass shooting, a reference to Valhalla allegedly made by the shooter on his Facebook page and in his writings set off alarms for members of the Pagan & Heathen communities. A manifesto titled “The Great Replacement” written by the accused shooter was viewable online and contained the statement “Goodbye, god bless you all and I will see you in Valhalla.”
The statement was the only reference to Heathenry. Still, it was enough to draw attention to Pagan & Heathen communities as mainstream media began to repeat it. The accused shooter’s statements involving Christian imagery were present but garnered less attention. Still, questions remained as to whether his faith or spiritual path was involved his behavior or his ideology.
As to whether he is of the Christian faith, the shooter writes in response to his own question “Are you christian [sic]?”, “That is complicated./ When I know, I will tell you.” Then, he proclaims that he is an “Eco-Fascist”, an ideology combing environmentalism and white supremacy.
Several TWH team members found and read through the manifesto online to determine if there was any indication of a connection to Heathenry. There was none. The reference to Valhalla was the only one; and there, the author deeply misunderstood what Valhalla represents.
There are, however, significant references to Christianity including statements about a “reborn Knights Templar”, a statement specifically to Christians, and and a question about what Pope Urban II would do. The statement to Christians appears to the be an excerpt from a Papal call for crusades by the mentioned pope.
The remaining contents of the manifesto are disturbing to read, using terms like “invaders” to describe immigrants who are not of white, proclaiming the superiority of European ancestry, advocating for the murders of innocents, children, and even heads of state of several countries. It further addresses ethnic and cultural minorities living in Europe demanding they return to their “own lands”, calling for the “freeing” of Hagia Sophia as well as the elimination of groups like Antifa, Marxists, and Communists referencing them as “white scum”. The document is rambling, extremist, and violent.
In response, statements condemning the massacre from the Pagan and Heathen communities were posted online within hours of the shootings.
Melbourne Heathen Moot released a strongly worded statement on their Facebook page condemning the attack and disavowing that such an act was reflective in any way of modern Heathenry. An excerpt from their statement:
“We do not stand for this. Heathenry is about the Gods, Goddesses, Landspirits and the Ancestors who lived and died well and bring all that is good and true and beautiful in our lives WITHOUT DISCRIMINATING WHERE THEY CAME FROM.
Heathenry is NOT about race, purity, European values (whatever that is), metagenetics, Islamaphobia and thinly veiled neo-nazism. EVER… Heathenry is NOT about committing what can be seen as a terrorist act and conducting oneself in such a detrimental way to the society around them.
The shooter does not represent Heathens. He is his actions, which make him a criminal/terrorist/níðing/outlaw.”
The Pagan Collective of Victoria in Australia issued their statement which reads, in part:
“The Pagan Collective of Victoria join our voices with those of spiritual and religious organisations around the world, in condemning the abhorrent acts of terrorism in Christchurch, and in offering our love and support to the Muslim communities in Christchurch and worldwide, affected not just by this horrific and tragic act of violence, but also by the daily onslaughts of bigotry and prejudice they endure.
We see you. We grieve with you. We are so sorry.”
The statement also includes support for the Heathen community, and condemns the co-opting of terminology and images by white supremacists that belong to the Heathen faith.
“We, and our representatives in the Victorian Heathen community, abjure the use of Heathen imagery by these terrorists in justifying unjustifiable acts. The hijacking of sacred iconography to attempt to validate heinous acts of hatred and cowardly violence is deplorable and in absolute opposition to both our spiritual and social ethos.”
The co-opting of Heathen imagery by white supremacists is not new. There is of course, historical use of Norse religious imagery by Nazis, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. Certainly since Charlottesville, it seems to be more prevalent or perhaps the practice is getting more notice. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes these Neo-Völkisch groups as well as their connections to white supremacy and their aggressive co-optation of Norse religious imagery.
But, most clearly, the NZ terrorist’s connection to Paganism or Heathenry is non-existent. Nevertheless, as the statements from the several organizations above imply, there is both concern about the use of Norse religious imagery by white supremacists and continued vigilance by Pagans and Heathens to respond and reject that use.