Karl E. H. Seigfried is Adjunct Professor and Pagan Chaplain at Illinois Institute of Technology, Seminar Faculty at Newberry Library, and goði (priest) of Thor's Oak Kindred in Chicago. In addition to his award-winning website, The Norse Mythology Blog, Karl has written for the BBC, Iceland Magazine, Journal of the Oriental Institute, On Religion, Religion Stylebook, and many other outlets. He holds degrees in literature, music, and religion, and he is the first Ásatrú practitioner to hold a graduate degree from University of Chicago Divinity School. During his time at the university, he was President of Interfaith Dialogue and a member of Spiritual Life Council.
A farmstead from the Viking Age was found earlier this month by a local resident in Þjórsárdalur, a valley in the southern highlands of Iceland. Bergur Þór Björnsson is the great-grandson of the man who discovered the region’s most recently found Viking-era farm back in 1920. With his new find, the total number of known farms stands at twenty-one. Archaeologists from Fornleifastofnun Ísland (“the Institute of Archaeology in Iceland”) were called to the scene and soon found several small objects. Among them was a Thor’s hammer amulet, only the second ever found in Iceland.
Over the past year, and especially since the Frith Forge conference in Germany, I’ve noticed increasing use and discussion of the term “inclusive Heathenry.”
It often seems more of a rebranding than a revolutionary concept. Practitioners of Ásatrú and Heathenry have long taken sides over issues of inclusion, with some taking hard stances on either end of the spectrum and many situating themselves in a complicated middle ground. The battles that have raged for so long have been between positions that were often defined by the other side. The universalist position supposedly said that anyone could be Heathen – no questions asked. The folkish position supposedly said that only straight white people could be Heathen – with many questions asked.
For three days beginning on July 13, Atlanta hosted Mystic South: Theory, Practice, and Play. According to the convention’s Facebook page, the Pagan event “highlights the Southern flair and mystic spirit of our own part of the country.”
Headliners this year included John Beckett, Ivo Dominguez, Yaya Nsasi Vence Guerra, Sangoma Oludoye, Mama Gina, and the Night Travelers. The conference schedule included rituals, workshops, papers, panels, presentations, and a live podcast. Several events centered on Norse material and Heathen religions. To get a sense of the conference from a Heathen perspective, I spoke with Ryan Denison of the Mystic South organizing committee.
The executive branch of the federal government of the United States has gone biblical. On June 14, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible while responding to criticism of his April 6 announcement of a “zero-tolerance policy” for “illegal entry into the United States by an alien” and his May 7 statements that the Department of Justice would work with the Department of Homeland Security to take children away from anyone “smuggling” them into the country. The Attorney General’s comments were made one day after Catholic Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released a public statement denouncing Sessions’ decisions on family separation. After drawing connections between giving aid to asylum seekers, preserving the right to life, and protecting female victims of domestic violence, Cardinal DiNardo addressed the issue of young children:
Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB’s [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration’s zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma.
This is part two of a two part series. Click here to read part one. Transtemporal Care
The Ásatrú practice of blót builds a concept of care in three temporal directions: sideways, backward, and forward. The ritual life of the religion nurtures a sense of both intra- and intergenerational solidarity. The sideways relationship exists between current practitioners.