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.
Back in high school in the late 1980s, my friend Dan really liked the band Stryper. He cut the sleeves off his jean jacket, drew the band’s logo in Elmer’s glue on the back, then threw gold and black glitter at it to make the only Stryper vest any of us had ever seen. We teased him mercilessly. Why? Because Stryper was a totally cheesy Christian glam metal band from Orange County that sang about Jesus while wearing mascara and yellow spandex, and that seemed the most un-metal thing possible to a bunch of teenage hippies and metal-heads in 1986.
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The story of Tyr’s binding of the wolf Fenrir is the only surviving myth of a god who must have once been a major figure in Germanic religion. Today, there are two popular readings of the role of the wolf that place twenty-first century identity politics over a deep understanding of the mythic figure itself. After examining the myth and the variant interpretations, maybe we can agree on a reading that is both historical and contemporary.