ďThe Markland Philosophy:
The Battle for CybergardĒ
by Lavrans Reimer-Møller
(Editorís note: this a description of activity in Cybergard back in 1996- needless to say, there have been a lot of changes since then! - L RM)
I spend a lot of time online lately; I have a modem on my Mac and I use AOL to access the internet. Itís fascinating, and the main area of my net-surfing is related to Asatru. I have other interests, to be sure, but I spend most of my time reading the various postings relating to heathenry.
There are two BBs: the Troth line and the Asatru line. The Asatru line is run by John Rumpelein, who also has set up a Web site for the Ring of Troth. The traffic is, however, very large in volume and extremely contentious. I sign on once a month for about a day and a half, then go away again. It takes too much time (and money) to download and read it all.
The line I read daily is the Troth line, run by the former Grendel Grettisson. There is much less traffic, and it seems to be much more directly focused on Asatru.
There are also news groups and Web sites I can go to; but I try to keep my monthly bill with AOL under the $9.95 limit, so I donít spend a lot of time looking at these, although I have found a lot of interesting material from folk who have a lot to say about paganism and heathenry.
As a result, I have a tendency to think that most of the activity taking place in Asatru is on the internet, but the fact is, itís not! On the contrary, I have a very strong impression that most who practice Asatru are not exchanging ideas, information and insults in Cybergard.
And itís probably for the best. The biggest problem we have right now in the Asatru community is that we keep being told that we have big problems! Most of this negativity seems to come not from the folk who are living the traditions of Asatru day by day, but by handful of loudmouths and troublemakers who insist on stirring things up. It was bad enough a few years back when most of this activity was limited to the letters to the editor published in a handful of quarterlies. But the creation of Cybergard has changed all that. Thereís a lot more crap being dumped on a daily basis, and itís doing far greater harm.
If anybody tells you that Asatru is in trouble, think again. We all have seen how bad news can sometimes create its own outcomes. The financial experts in the news tell us that there is going to be a drop in the stock market, and sure as Hel, the market drops. Was it going to drop anyway, or did the bad news cause the drop? If the taste makers tell us that a particular candidate is likely to lose, guess what? He loses- yet another self-fulfilling prophecy!
In Asatru, we see that many of the folk who might otherwise be actively involved and working to create progress are dropping out- resigning from whatever organizations they belong to, quitting, and even abandoning oaths. Why? The perception that there is too much bickering and fighting.
It should be said that in some cases, itís for the best that certain people leave. There have been a lot of ďNorse WiccansĒ who have come to realize that this attempt to blend together two entirely different traditions just doesnít work, and some of them have gone their own way rather than make a commitment to the practice of Asatru. One doesnít have to look too closely to see that the roots of the practice of Wicca, derived from the Golden Dawn and the Kaballah, is of an entirely different nature than Asatru. An inability or refusal to accept this clear distinction has lead to a lot of hard feelings.
So some well-intentioned but confused New-Age neo-pagan signs online and wants to know why he canít claim to worship the Norse pantheon, and the Horned one, and a handful of other unrelated gods and what all. It is patiently explained to him, but he doesnít quite get it. He starts a flamewar over what a bunch of jerks we Nordic-types are and leaves in a huff. The result: one more example of ďtroubleĒ in the Asatru community. The impression one gets from traveling in Cybergard is that there is a lot of serious disagreement over fundamental matters. But it truly ainít necessarily so!
For example, we were told, repeatedly and quite loudly that the Ring of Troth was failing in its mission because it was not ďdemocraticĒ enough. The people who had, one way or another, wound up in positions of leadership hadnít been put there by a democratic process. Reforms were put in place, beginning with the Ostara meeting in San Francisco last year, but in the process a lot of damage was done as well. Hard working folk who had dedicated themselves to the Troth were run out of the organization without much chance to defend themselves.
Worst of all, one of the prime instigators of change in the Ring of Troth has now made it clear that he no longer is interested in continuing his membership. This particular person, well-known in Cybergard as a trouble-maker, has now decided that the changes he helped to bring about arenít good enough for him.
Then there are those who for some reason canít seem to accept the basic facts about the practices of the Theodish Rice. They are an organization which is set up and run as a feudal monarchy. Seems simple enough, and although there have been some problems within the organization, by and large they are a force for good in the practice of heathenry. But there are some who canít leave well-enough alone and insist on sniping at Theod every chance they get.
On the other hand, an attempt at publishing a new newsletter by some other very well-intentioned folk hit the wall in their second issue, which was a recounting of feuds and wars, offenses real and otherwise. There was little of value to anyone hoping to learn more about the state of heathenry. After some complaints, they changed and are now doing a much better job.
So whatís my point? The main business of heathenry is heathenry. Period. I am personally resolved not to vote for any political candidate who runs negative ads against another candidate. Which means I may not vote at all. I also feel that the position of Markland Kindred should be to discourage the continuance of personal feuds and vendettas, especially those which have the effect of dragging down all of us in Asatru. I have seen messages posted online from folk who say they might be interested in finding out more about Asatru, but they are put off by all the fighting and bickering. Enough! I believe that the best any of us can do is to try to remember to stop and think before starting the kind of trouble that reflects badly on us all, especially in public statements made either in print or on the internet in Cybergard.
If you canít say something positive, then shut the f**k up!
Keep the FRITH!
© Marklander 1996