Archive for January, 2014

Homosexuality Once Accepted in Pre-Christian Africa – But Now Persecuted

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Image from first Gay African Wedding since it was legalized in South Africa

(Update: I recently gave permission to the Gay Life Newsletter to publish this article here)

Radicalization of violence and hatred towards homosexuals is getting worse in Africa. Today it is outlawed in 41 out of 53 African Common Wealth countries. In Sudan and Somalia, one can receive the death penalty for homosexuality. Law makers tried to pass a “Kill the Gays” – or rather a Death Penalty for homosexuality in Uganda as well, but the act was eventually changed to life in prison. Gays are also increasingly under fire in Nigeria. Same sex unions are punished by 14 years in prison.

Lawmakers in Nigeria are calling gays “Un-African” and state that homosexuality is a decadent import from the west.

Anti-Gay Laws: A Western Import

Yet the ultimate irony is that Laws Banning homosexuality are the Western Import – not homosexuality itself. The current Anti-Gay Laws are actually a remnant of British Colonialism, the laws were designed to punish what the British authorities saw as unnatural sex among the natives. Even today, much of the political push towards Anti-Gay laws in Uganda have received massive funding from Christian Evangelicals in America. A documentary published by The New York Times highlights how money from American Missionaries is funding some very dangerous ideology that demonizes members of the LGBT community (Gospels of Intolerance). According to Mother Jones, Uganda has been a hotbed of activity for Evangelicals who have failed to demonize the Gays in their own country (Mother Jones).

Ancient Homosexual Traditions in Africa

Before European Imperialism in the continent, there was a varying degree of Gay Acceptance in Africa depending on the tribe and culture. It is important to remember that there are numerous tribes and cultures in Africa, so we can’t lump them all together as if they were one big country.

For example, there is the Mevengu tradition carried out by the Beti people in Cameroon. Women would gather together and have rituals to celebrate erotic power and the clitoris.

Yan Daudu

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Image Source

In northern Nigeria, there are the Yan Daudu – men who dress as women, like to braid hair, do make-up and are famed for their playfulness and sexual ambiguity. The phrase “Yan Daudu” itself means sons of Daudu – who is a fun loving, gambling spirit that is worshipped in the Muslim Bori practice. For more than a century, Yan Daudu were tolerated in the Muslim North. Their trance and dancing rituals were associated with poor, marginalized women, sex workers and the disabled. They even sometimes accompanied politicians in their campaigns. Yet now there  is a religious revival sweeping the area, and more Yan Daudu’s are findings themselves under attack for their lifestyle.

Further west, in Senegal, there is a minority group of men known as Gor Digen, which means “man-woman” in the native language. These men dress like women and sometimes work as prostitutes. Even back in colonial times, Senegal’s metropolis was famous for its open and tolerant homosexual prostitution market. In the 1930’s a traveler named Geoffery Gorer reported that these “man-women” were a common sight and suffered no form of cultural oppression – other than the fact that they were refused a religious burial. Yet now homosexuality is punishable in Senegal by up to five years in prison.

The Rain Queen

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Image Source

There is a fascinating custom among the Balobedu people of the Limpopo Province of South Africa called “The Rain Queen.” The Rain Queen is a woman who is believed to have special powers, including the ability to control the clouds and the rainfall. She is not supposed to marry a male, but instead has several wives. However, it is not clear whether she has sexual relations with these women or if they are merely her ladies in waiting. Regardless of the technicalities of the situation, this is a custom of same sex marriage that has existed for 400 years and is very obviously not a modern western import.

The Key to Tolerance? Perhaps It’s Time to Embrace Ancient Cultural Wisdom

I think a key to restoring the tolerance and acceptance that homosexuals once experienced in various tribes is for these cultures to embrace their ancient practices and beliefs. While Ethiopia was technically one of the first places to embrace Christianity (a few centuries before the Europeans did I might add) I will say that much of the variants of Christianity imposed in Africa these days are colonial in nature and intent. Evangelical Christianity itself is a very fundamentalist, American bred outlook that is foiling attempts to deal with the AIDS crisis in a sane manner and is throwing gasoline on the fire in terms of demonizing homosexuals.

However, South Africa shines as a beacon of hope, since it is the only country in Africa where Gay Marriage is legal. On April 9th of 2013, two men tied the knot in South Africa’s first official gay wedding. They had a traditional African wedding as well as a Western Wedding. The grooms dressed in their respective ancestral attire – Zulu and Tswana. You can read more about the wedding here.

Links

The World’s Worst Place to be Gay  (VIDEO)

A documentary in which a Gay British DJ investigates what life is like for gays in Uganda


Shaman, Sage and Bard

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(By Mogon)

I protect my home, for I am the Shaman.
I see into others minds, for I am the Sage.
I mend the broken heart, for I am the Bard.
But of these three there is only one.
I fear.
I worry.
I cry.
For I am Human, like you.

This is not a Metal Gaia creation. Just sharing a poem from a friend. 


So Jill Janus of Huntress Was Naked? So What?

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This weekend as I checked out my usual blogs for the latest Metal News, I noticed the internet was crammed of the gossips clamoring about “OMGz…Jill put a picture of herself naked and puking on her facebook.” Or, “Er Mer Gerds! Did you know she was a topless DJ?”

You know what I think? I really don’t care. Did you know that I too am naked under my clothes as are you? Nudity isn’t really a big deal until people make it a big deal. The metal sphere erupted with the story when Jill Janus posted a picture of herself naked and puking after she got food poisoning and had to cancel a concert in Germany. She did it as a joke and somewhat of an apology for having to cancel the show. Male musicians have done similar things in the past and the internet barely made a ripple.

Revocation posted humorous pictures of one of their tours with some of their members in their underwear or with pee bottles they used in the van. Then of course there is the fact that Gwar performs onstage with giant fake phallus’s, or the iconic picture of The Red Hot Chili Peppers wearing nothing but a sock.

Isn’t it interesting how male nudity is funny, but that female nudity gets people angry? Isn’t it interesting that when male musicians are almost naked or do crude things people laugh and move on, but when a female does it she’s “shamelessly using her body” to get attention?

This brings to attention the idea that women aren’t allowed autonomy over their own bodies. The female form must be something that is moderated and controlled by a force other than herself. There are many debates over whether women should or shouldn’t wear religious head coverings (the hijab), when it should be their own personal choice. Yet there is barely a peep when male Sikhs cover their hair for the same reasons. When a male rock star or rapper poses with a bevy of almost naked or scantily clad women in a video, nobody accuses him of using sex appeal, rather than talent to get ahead. Yet when a woman uses her own body and sexual charms to advertise her music, people accuse her of being a talentless hack. Maybe a woman can be sexy AND talented? Eh eh?

Anyways, so enough of my rantings. Here is one woman’s awesome response to the media over-reacting to her anatomy rather than her music.

DEAR DAILY MAIL (FUCK THE DAILY MAIL) – AMANDA PALMER

also, here is an example of Jill’s awesome voice.

DESTROY YOUR LIFE


New Behemoth Release – Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer

My Behemoth poster fell off the wall as I was listening to this – Behemoth is too heavy for my walls. 

Anyone jumping out of their skin in excitement for when Behemoth’s The Satanist comes out on February 4th? Currently my skeleton is running around my apartment headbanging to this song.  The Satanist is available for pre-order on Amazon, which means you can have the album shipped to your house the day it is released, listen to it first and gloat about it as all your friends stab themselves with envy.

With that aside, let me proceed to shamelessly gush about this song as if it were my teenage crush. In a previous post I discussed another song from this album: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel. In that song, as well as the one above, I notice that Behemoth has adopted a more Black Metalish sound for this album. The guitar has somewhat of that chaotic all over the place Black Metal sound. I also love the tone they chose for the bass, it is haunting and melodic. It knows when to step into the spotlight when the rest of the music calms down, and hold things together with a bittersweet melody.

Really enjoying the two songs I’ve heard from The Satanist. Can’t wait to get my talons on the actual album.


Spain Becomes First Country to Rely on Wind as Top Electricity Resource

In Spain the Winds of Change Are Coming

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Read Article Source Here (Spanish Wind Association)

¡Muy bien! I take my non-existent hat off to Spain. In 2013, Spain made history by being the first country to use wind as a primary source of electricity. Wind covered 20.9% of the power demand, compared to the 20.8% that was powered by nuclear energy. According to the Spanish Wind Association (the AEE), this was enough energy to power 15.5 million houses – 90% of the total.

What direction will the winds blow for Spain’s proverbial energy future in the years to come? It is not certain. Apparently there could be some government reforms in Spain that would have an unfair impact on the wind sector this year – which could discourage investments.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Spain. !Buena suerte mis amigos españoles!


Three Asatru Perspectives: Universalism, Folkism and Tribalism

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A majority of my information in this post will come from Uppsala Online

The words “Heathen” and “Asatru” today refer to the modern revival of the old Pagan Norse/Germanic religion. The main difference between these two words is that Asatru refers to a specific set of beliefs in this group – while Heathen is a broader term referring to all Neo-Pagans who follow a Germanic/Norse pantheon of Gods and customs.

Asatru specifically is a modern Icelandic compound of the words Áss (which refers to the Aesir Gods) and trú (which literally means faith). So, question to the crowd, what does this mean? True booty? No. Asatru translates into a faith in the Aesir Gods. (Vanatru has the same roots and refers to the worship of the Vanir). If you are curious about the difference between these two groups, feel free to do research. But today I want to talk specifically about three different perspectives in the modern Asatru and Heathen community: Universalist, Folkish, and Tribalist. Universalism and Folkism are the main two perspectives, but Tribalism has been suggested as a sort of middle ground between the two.


Universalist: 

Universalists believe that anyone of any background can become a Heathen. It’s pretty simple. This allows for greater freedom of choice and for more people to come to the Old Norse Religion. For example, if there was a practitioner whose direct bloodline was Japanese, they could still practice Asatru as long as they lived by the nine virtues, understood the lore, learned the runes, took responsibility for themselves and their actions and used common sense.

The main argument I’ve seen against Universalism is that it is too open ended. Folkish and Tribalist Asatru believe that much more criteria should be required before someone can call themselves an Asatru.

In defense of the Universalists, most Universalist viewpoints I’ve read still believe that followers of Asatru should follow certain guidelines and rules – that it isn’t some free for all in which you can do whatever you want.


Folkish:

The Folkish perspective is that Asatru is an ethnic religion that should be mainly practiced by those with a Northern European heritage. They believe that ethnic religions connect the practitioner to their landscape’s ancestors, bloodline and traditions. Folkish Asatruar have made the argument that they are not white supremacists, but that they believe that every Folk should worship its own ancestors. Many Folkish Asatruar cite that Shintoism for the Japanese as an example of a valid ethnic religion – and that they want to do something similar with Asatru and the Northern European people.

One of the arguments made against ethnic based Asatru (Folkism) is that there were many Non-Norse folks in the Eddas and other legends who took part in Norse rituals. Norse slaves came from Celtic, Slavic and even Middle Eastern lands. These slaves were expected to abide by the customs and rituals of the Norse people when they lived in Norse lands. While the lives of slaves were pretty grim and there is certainly no way to sugar-coat such a practice, it is true that the slaves were sometimes emancipated by their masters and allowed to live among Norse society. Conversely, when the Norsemen settled in new lands, they adopted some of the customs in the new territories that they settled in. These points are all explained on Uppsala Online:

“Norsemen, when travelling afar, often took part in the religious rituals of the lands they traveled to, such as is found in the example of prime-signing, where travelling heathens took part in Christian ritual without renouncing their native gods. If the ancient heathens thought every bloodline had its own gods that should be stuck to exclusively, then why did they engage in this practice? Similarly Radbod the Frisian, an Asatru hero, was going to take baptism to honor his friends’ gods (until a Christian priest said something stupid).”


Tribalist

While Universalism and Folkism are the two main spectrums of the Asatruar community, Tribalism has been suggested as a middle-ground, or a third opinion by websites such as Uppsala Online. There is a confusion of terms here because Tribalists still call themselves “Folkish” Heathens, but they typically are accepting of non-white Heathens among their ranks. They describe themselves as Folkish because they believe that there must be a deep adoption of Norse Culture in order for one to call themselves a Heathen or Asatru. They believe that anything otherwise is just a surface level adoption of Asatru. To become a Tribalist Asatru you either must have Norse/Germanic descent or you must be adopted and oathed into the community. This is similar to Judaism where one is either automatically born into the tradition via bloodline, or converted into the community.


Conclusions

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I think what is important to remember is the character of the Norsemen themselves. They were a people who deeply valued honor, courage, individuality, exploration and growth. Those of us today who feel called to practice the spirituality of these Norse Ancestors will never get to live in the 9th century and will not directly experience the world of the Viking Age Era…unless you build a time machine that is. For those who feel called to the Asatru and Heathen ways, they will be forced to do so in the context of the modern world. Therefore I say it is impossible to practice Heathenry EXACTLY as the Ancient Norse once did.

However, I personally believe that those who feel called to these old ways, will prove themselves via the mettle of their honor – and not by the shade of their eyes or skin. I agree that Asatru shouldn’t be a simple surface level religion, that it should involve a deeper commitment than simply knowing that Thor is the God of thunder or by simply wearing a cool Mjölnir (hammer of Thor) around your neck. Yet if you gauge admission by appearance – is that not very superficial in practice?

We must remember that Thor’s sons, Magni and Modi, were mothered by the giantess Jarnsaxa, and yet they are not only considered divine despite their “impure blood”, they are considered so divine and mighty that they will take up Thor’s hammer after Ragnarok, and become the defenders of men and gods alike (Uppsala Online).

Further Reading

Paganism and Racism

Top Norse Blogs

Living Asatru

13 Odinic Rules of Life

Runes Shall You Know


Top Norse Blogs of 2013

My personal vote of that which I deem awesome. 

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The blogs below are the ones I found the must useful in 2013 as resources for learning about topics related to heathenry/asatru. I raise my glass to you and hope for an equally awesome 2014.

The Norse Mythology Blog

A Norse blog hosted by a Religion and Mythology professor. Last year, this blog was best known for kicking off one of the first major attempts to do a worldwide Heathen Census. In addition to having insightful information on the history and culture of the Old Norse people, this blog also supplies many interactive tools for the public such as art contests and the aforementioned census.

An Asatru Blog

This is one of the blogs I see cited the most when I look around different Heathen Forums on the internet. In addition to having much interesting articles about Norse history and culture, there is also a lot of commentary on here about trends among modern Heathens and internet groups.

The Asatru Community

This blog offers a wealth of information about key tenants of Asatru today, as well as community outreach.

Your Weekly Dose of Norse Mythology

A simple, but informative blog on Norse History and Lore.