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Author Topic: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe  (Read 2708 times)

RecycledBenedict

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History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« on: August 09, 2015, 10:13:11 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;178425
Probably there are other omissions and points of arguability, as well, but rather than seek them all out, possibly the best approach is to simply note that your list, though extensive, is still an overview, and isn't (and possibly can't be) an exhaustive list of all the variations and how they relate to the word 'pagan'.


I fully agree.

And another thing: Since English is easier to read (for me), I don't know very much about Paganism in the French-speaking world. There may exist forms and branches of Paganism there, I am entirely unaware of, and which therefore didn't make it to the list. It is, although, my impression, that French Esotericism is predominantly orientated towards heterodox Christianity (Neo-Gnostics of many stripes), so, while English-speaking Esotericism became the fertile ground for the return of Paganism*, the French milieu may be very, very different in this regard. I have no idea what may (or may not) exist in bilingual Canada.

Quote from: SunflowerP;178425
I'm not surprised to hear this is the case with Fornsi∂r; I find it fascinating how neoPagan the Icelandic organization Ásatrúarfélagið (founded in 1972) is, by North American Heathen recon standards, and it follows that it'd be similar with other culturally-embedded iterations of Norse/Germanic reconstruction. I'd surmise it's because they have no need to 'reconstruct' Icelandic, or Swedish, or Danish (etc) culture; they already live its modern form every day.


I remember reading about Ásatrúarfélagið in Swedish newspapers as a child in the late 1970's and early 1980's. They were then very influenced by Hinduism in order to fill in the blank spots, but I don't know how they are nowadays. From more recent interviews, I have the impression that some of their members are Pantheists or New Agers.

In Sweden it took some time, until anyone tried to organize something similar. In the 1990's there suddenly sprang into existence many different Norse Pagan denominations, with considerable differences in style and values. The thing is, Swedes are attracted to old Norse religion out of very different motives.

The elder generation, which now is departing, were still influenced by literary (National) Romanticism from the 19th century: Asgard was seen as a Nordic Olympus, and O∂in was treated as a Nordic Zeus or Jehovah. In the 1990's there existed a denomination that treated Norse religion as a Book Religion: The Poetic Edda was its Bible, Snorri's Edda was its Catechism. Long sermons were the central features of its rituals, and hymns were sang. Their expectations of what a religion ought to be, were entirely copied from Lutheranism. As far as I know, that denomination is now deceased. Anyhow, it has no visible presence any longer.

Then there were the racists. Until the 1960's, Sweden was an extremely homogenous country. About 95% of the population were members of Church of Sweden – a Lutheran church which wasn't disestablished until January 1'st, year 2000. Some citizens speak Sapmi, Finnish, Mienkäli, Romany or Yiddish (and these are protected languages), but Swedish is the language of default.

During the 1960's, the lack of manpower in Swedish industries led to workforce migration from Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia. During the 1970's, people fled from dictatorships in Chile, Turkey, Vietnam and Iraq to Sweden. For the overwhelming majority of the Swedish population, it is a humanitarian duty (and also a duty to fulfil international agreements), to receive refugees fleeing persecution, harassment and abuse. Since the late 1980's, there exist small (and recently swiftly growing) groups of Right Wing Extremists and populists, who don't agree with the growing number of migrants.

Some of these extremists became interested in Paganism in the 1990's. Away in the English speaking world, Stephen McNallen, David Lane and John Gibbs-Bailey organized Norse Pagan denominations highly focusing on ethnicity. Under the influence of these, Svensk Hednisk Front ('Swedish Pagan Front' or 'Swedish Heathen Front' – both translations into English are possible) emerged in the 1990's, but it hasn't any visible presence any longer, and might be defunct.

A third current is dependent on the New Age movement and the books by Michael Harner. Our sources to what seid was – a practice of supernatural ritual power of some sort – are Icelandic literary accounts from the middle ages, and it is far from clear exactly how it was performed. A few academic studies have been published in the last fifteen years, or so, but in the 1980's the knowledge was even worse. In order to fill in the blank spots, some New Agers interested in Norse Paganism inserted some of Harner's ideas about what he thought was 'core-shamanism' – a solution challenged by other Norse Pagans in the last fifteen years. This type of Paganism was, however, a visible movement of non-racist Norse Paganism in the 1990's and noughties.

A fourth current is interested in continuously surviving folklore. They have no interest in reconstructing anything from the Iron Age, since it is extinct, and they scoff at attempts to reconstruction as non-organic 'New Age'. Wights, elves, huldra and such local entities are important in their practice. They are organized in the denomination Samfälligheten för nordisk sed (The Denomination for Nordic Si∂r).

A fifth current of Norse Paganism in Sweden is non-racist, environment-friendly, LGBTQ-accepting, and reconstruction-derived, although the imagined core-shamanic seid-movement is now tolerated as one of the movements under the umbrella. This fifth current became visible in the 1990's. During the early years, the eight times a year, celebrated by Druids and Wiccans, were adopted as times for blót, although blót may occur at other times of the year as well. In the surrounding Agnostic-Christian majority culture these eight times of the year are times of celebrations anyhow (although some of these celebrations are of rather recent origin – crabfish parties, for instance). Blót are generally performed as libations for harvest and peace, and the pantheon consciously embraces both Aesir, Vanir, Elves, Wights, Jotuns and ancestors. This fifth current, which is becoming increasingly reconstructionst, is expressed in the denomination Swedish Forn Sed Assembly and a number of independent local blótlag.
 
Quote from: SunflowerP;178425
I assume you're referring here to Budapest/Feminist Dianic


Yes, I do.

Quote from: SunflowerP;178425
I could quibble, as well, that IME, many Church of the Subgenius folks don't consider it to be pagan per se, so a 'may or may not self-identify as' disclaimer might be in order there.


Thats probably correct, but it felt silly to mention the Discordians and leave CotSG out, since they are related to each other.


* I think of how the Meso-Druid Morien (Owen Morgan) speculated over a hypothetical ancient worldview consisting of a male Sun god and a female Earth goddess; how The Order of the Golden Dawn (with many prefixes and name-changes) used Egyptian 'god-forms' for magical, rather than devotional, purposes; how Crowley went on to use a pantheon consisting of partly Egyptian deities, partly newly coined ones; how Society of the Inner Light (although predominantly Christian) experimented with elementals, faeries and rites of Isis and Pan. Gardner and his circle of acquaintances could mine all this for material, when a fully developed Paganism emerged.

SunflowerP

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2015, 10:34:24 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178447


 
Spinning this off into its own thread, because it's fascinating and well-worth having as a distinct discussion, but is very far afield for the intro thread it came up in.

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2015, 07:43:50 am »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178447

Thank you for this excellent post on Paganism in Sweden. The history of Paganism in the UK and US is fairly well-known in the US or at least easy to look up. That's much less true for other places. There's often next to nothing available.
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2015, 10:10:50 am »
Quote from: RandallS;178481
Thank you for this excellent post on Paganism in Sweden. The history of Paganism in the UK and US is fairly well-known in the US or at least easy to look up. That's much less true for other places. There's often next to nothing available.


It was not intended as a systematic overview of Paganism in Sweden, but just as a spontaneous answer to Sunflower's impressions of Nordic Asatru/Fornsed.

The Fornsi∂r-practitioners are the most visible participants of the Pagan scene in Sweden. If that correspond to the actual size of the group or not, is beyond my knowledge. The Reconstructionist (or reconstructionism-derived) denomination is found here:

http://www.samfundetfornsed.se/resurser/in-english-1283017

The Nordic Sed-practitioners, who distrust Reconstructionism and New Age alike, are of the opinion that it is entirely impossible and out of the question to practice Nordic Sed outside the Nordic countries. Their claims about juridical changes in 1974 are inaccurate. The Freedom of Religion Act was enacted in 1950/51, and not in 1974. I have no idea of from where they got the 1974 date.

http://www.nordisksed.se/utrikiska/english

The (initiatory) Wiccans are very reclusive, and wish to preserve their privacy, so they are not very visible, although a few may turn up at a pub moot now and then. There exist a Wicca tradition, which was founded in Sweden in 1987: Scandinavian Faery-wicca, not to be confused with Feri-witchcraft, paperbacks by Kisma Stepanich or LGBTQ-pagans with similar names. Scandinavian Faery-Wicca is deeply influenced by R.J. Stewart. The foundress of the tradition, Laila Wiberg, was also a historian of religion, and worked on her Ph.D. thesis about Wicca at the time of her untimely death. She is deeply missed. More recently, the Wiccan covens have a website:

http://www.wicca.nu/coven.html

There is an underground of solitary eclectics present at Swedish-language webfora, often, but not in all cases, blurring the distinction between (Cunningham) Wicca, witchcraft, alternative medicine, Harner-esque 'core-shamanism' (Yes, I know: The term is problematic, but they use it) and non-religious spell-casting. They are often kind but loud, and sometimes don't take correct historical information well. Pet theories are a sensitive issue, especially regarding ancient matriarchy, surviving Stone Age cults, and supposed living pagan remains.

At pub moots it is likely that you will encounter members of the Left Hand Path order Dragon Rouge: Ordo Draconis et Atri Adamantis. The order is not Pagan per se, and its members may have a very wide spectrum of religious beliefs. It was founded on New Year's Day 1990 by a handful of teenagers who had read paperbacks about Chaos magic. The founders are now in their 40's, and the main founder, Dr. Thomas Karlsson, is now a well-respected University Lecturer in history of religions (His Ph.D. thesis was about the Swedish court-magician and runologist Johannes Bureus, who enchanted the sword of king Gustavus Adolphus at some time in the early 17th century). The order is inspired from a wide range of sources, including the British Thelemite Kenneth Grant, Chaos magician Pete Carroll, American runologist Stephen Flowers (aka Edred Thorsson) and British witch Andrew Chumbley. They like Friedrich Nietzsche. You find them here:
http://www.dragonrouge.net/english/general.html

Among ceremonial magicians you will find a wide range of beliefs as well: Thelemites, Nicene Christians, Neo-Gnostic Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Pagans, Deists... Ceremonial magicians are therefore, as a group, not exactly Pagans, but rather practitioners of alternative spiritualities. Since alternative spiritualities may be of interest, I mention them here, anyhow.

The Golden Dawn community in Sweden experienced a bumpy ride of conflicts in the early noughties, but I hope it is better now. It now consists of three organizations:
  • The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (led by David Griffin, who lived in Gothenburg for a while, if I remember correctly)
  • Sodalitas Rosae+Crucis (which is on good terms with the Cicero-Golden-Dawn, but, unlike many other Golden-Dawn-derived orders, they also reconnect to some forms of Swedish 18th century esoterica)
  • Ordo Primae Lucis (which is very reclusive)
These are the links (OPL's link has disappeared):
http://www.golden-dawn.com/eu/index.aspx
http://rosae-crucis.net/eng/

OTO exist in Sweden since 1990. Since it is an American organization, I probably don't need to say very much about them on an English speaking forum.
http://www.oto.se

OBOD allegedly have a few members in Sweden, but I have not seen any traces of seasonal rituals open for the public, of the sort occurring in UK. Perhaps the number of members is too low, and the geographical distances so large, that any attempts to perform something like that would be unmanageable. From southern Sweden to northern Sweden the distance is 1568 kilometres (974.5 miles).

There exist two Druid orders of the fraternal type, but their purpose is fundraising for charitable purposes, and they are very aghast at the thought that someone would confuse them with Pagan organizations. If anyone is looking for spiritual/esoteric Druidry or Pagan Druidry, these are not the Druids you are looking for. One of them is found here, anyhow:
http://www.druidorden.org

Pagan Federation have a Swedish branch.
http://se.paganfederation.org/om-pfi-sverige/

Sarah

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2015, 11:00:20 am »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178488
It was not intended as a systematic overview of Paganism in Sweden, but just as a spontaneous answer to Sunflower's impressions of Nordic Asatru/Fornsed.



I don't have anything useful to add but I am really enjoying and appreciating these posts
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 11:00:48 am by Sarah »
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2015, 12:12:28 pm »
Quote from: Jake_;178489
I don't have anything useful to add but I am really enjoying and appreciating these posts


Do you live in Wales? Some day I wish to travel in Wales, in order to visit all the places important in Welsh mythology. The Cymric language sounds very poetic, although I don't understand a word. Is 'llyn' 'lake'?

As an afterthought, I ought to add this information:

An organization for ancient Roman religion (mixed with a reenactment society, as it seems) exist in Sweden. It is called Res Publica Romana, but their website lacks information about where to meet their members IRL (except for a summer camp in Italy).
http://www.respublica-romana.com/home

A few years ago, a local unit of Esoteric Order of Dagon (a Chaos magical organization inspired by the fictitious order by the same name) existed in northernmost Sweden, but now I can't find their link. They believe (or paradigm-jump the belief) that Cthulhu is the Midgard Serpent.

Among metal musicians it is not unheard of to adhere to the Lucifer-friendly (or 'Chaos-Gnostic') organization Temple of the Black Light. It was originally founded in 1995 under the name Misanthropic Luciferian Order. Members of the order participated in a homophobic murder in 1997. Front figure Jon Nödtveidt committed ritual suicide in 2006 – an event enthusiastically exploited by the tabloids.
http://anti-cosmos.orgfree.com/download/Temple-of-The-Black-Light.pdf

Sarah

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2015, 12:27:29 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178491
Do you live in Wales? Some day I wish to travel in Wales, in order to visit all the places important in Welsh mythology. The Cymric language sounds very poetic, although I don't understand a word. Is 'llyn' 'lake'?


 
I can't actually speak welsh but I actually had a conversation with someone about this word once and yes it can mean "lake" but it can also mean "pond" or "pool" or even "puddle" depending on context. (The conversation itself was about how welsh words often being so contextual did interesting things for welsh language poetry)

If you like welsh mythology I very much recommend the Sioned Davies translation of the Mabinogion. I liked it a lot and it has a really useful interesting intro
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

RecycledBenedict

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2015, 12:37:27 pm »
Quote from: Jake_;178492

If you like welsh mythology I very much recommend the Sioned Davies translation of the Mabinogion. I liked it a lot and it has a really useful interesting intro


Thank you. I have borrowed several translations of the Mabinogion from the public libraries at several times, but plan to collect the Davies translation, the Ford translation and the Jones&Jones translation to my personal library when I have the opportunity to do so.

Weatherwax

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2015, 01:19:58 pm »
Quote from: Jake_;178492


If you like welsh mythology I very much recommend the Sioned Davies translation of the Mabinogion. I liked it a lot and it has a really useful interesting intro

 
thank you for this! I have the well-known Jones & Jones translation.

Redfaery

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2015, 02:18:03 pm »
Quote from: Jake_;178489
I don't have anything useful to add but I am really enjoying and appreciating these posts

 
I agree. Your posts are fascinating and I have learned a lot from them.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2015, 03:05:27 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;178499
I agree. Your posts are fascinating and I have learned a lot from them.


Thank you for your kind words. I hope I have been of some assistance. The Pagan scene on your side of the Pond is so much richer and diverse than our's. The denominations that sprung out of the beatnik and hippie sub-cultures (such as Feraferia and Church of All Worlds) have no equivalent here.

Weatherwax

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2015, 03:22:32 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178500
Thank you for your kind words. I hope I have been of some assistance. The Pagan scene on your side of the Pond is so much richer and diverse than our's. The denominations that sprung out of the beatnik and hippie sub-cultures (such as Feraferia and Church of All Worlds) have no equivalent here.

 
The US is no doubt a lot more diverse and lively in that sense but it's easier to find out about American paganisms whereas insider information from Sweden is hard to come by. and it was such a detailed one. many thanks from me as well. I really enjoy your posts.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: History of the Development of NeoPaganism/Heathenry in Europe
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2015, 03:29:26 pm »
Quote from: Weatherwax;178501
The US is no doubt a lot more diverse and lively in that sense but it's easier to find out about American paganisms whereas insider information from Sweden is hard to come by. and it was such a detailed one. many thanks from me as well. I really enjoy your posts.


Thank you. You may be able to inform me and others participants about the situation in Greece. Just as there was some disagreements between racist and anti-racist Norse Pagans in Sweden in the 1990's, I suppose there might be a similar situation in Greece now? In the newspapers we read a lot about the political Right Wing party Chrysaugi (spelling?). Are not some of their members also Greek Reconstructionists? Where does Labrys and YSEE fit in into this situation?

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