Urist McDorf

One fat, geeky feminist crafters blog of random crap.

Barriers to Entry


It suddenly occurred to me while recommending that reading list that it seems to me the barrier to entry into Northern faiths is pretty high.

I’m comparing it to my days as an eclectic Wiccan, the books I read were much more of the “pick up and play” sort of game, where you just pick it up and there are the main mechanics and if the game is more complex it sort of feeds you info as you go. In contrast, sometimes Heathenry seems more like the RTFM (Read The Freakin’ Manual) kind of PC game, where almost nothing is explained in game and you need to read the manual in order to play it. These games can be really intimidating for many people because the games don’t take as much (or any) time to teach the player how to play.

There are plenty of things you can say about Llewellyn’s books but one positive thing about them is that they are accessible. You pick the average Llewellyn 101 book up and it says “Here is a ritual to try.” “Here is a daily thing you can do for your deities.” “Here are some suggestions for celebrating the holidays.” “Here are some neat crafts.” It gives you things to do. Set up an altar, do this basic ritual thing, later you can do this more complicated ritual thing. Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner also has its issues, but it gave you something to work with (it even included a section on studying the sacred texts).

Saying “READ ALL THE THINGS” and throwing newbies a helmet and telling them to suck it up and READ MOAR! strikes me as maybe not the best approach. I know you see me complain a lot about unwelcome communities but I also think we need to take a look at how we introduce newbies to our traditions, because at times it seems like there’s something fundamentally wrong with how we just toss everything at them at once and expect them to get something out of it. 

I feel like this is especially true when you consider the direction this can end up taking.

Newbie:  So, I’m interested in Heathenry but I’m not sure where to start…

Community: New?  Looking for direction?  Read the eddas!  Read the texts!  Study more!

Newbie:  Okay, I picked up this book and that book and I’ve been reading-

Community:  No!  Those are the bad books!  They are wrong and bad!  You need to be reading the right texts!  Those translations of the eddas are the wrong translations!  In fact you should be reading as close to the original as possible even if that means trying to learn another language!

Newbie:  Okay, learning another language is beyond me right now, so of the texts that I can read, which ones are right?

Community:  Massive disagreement over exact list, but a few texts seem to be mostly agreed upon.

Newbie:  Okay, so I read the texts.  But now what do I do?  Do I just read these and that’s the entirety of how I show faith?  How do I construct a faith and a daily practice?

Community:  Everyone does it different!  You need to find your own path, we can’t help you.  Base your practice off the texts and use them to guide you.

Newbie:  Okay so here’s how I started practicing-

Community:  You’re DOING IT WRONG!!!!! 

…We’ll give you no guidance on your journey but will be ready and waiting to judge you if the path you walk - alone - leads you in a direction we disapprove of.

Malnutrition soars by more than 70% since Coalition came to power


During the Tory-led Government’s relentless cuts drive doctors in England have seen huge increases in conditions usually associated with the Third World.

People unable to feed themselves saw a staggering 6,686 admissions where malnutrition was the primary or secondary diagnosis during 2013/14.

This is a rise of 71% from 3,899 in the year up to April 2010.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released today also revealed admissions for scarlet fever were up by 110% and cholera by a staggering 450% since 2010.


childsbeth asked: im not the original asker but they did get me curious so: Were there white people in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa during ancient and medieval times?


Genuine questions get legitimate answers!

Yes. If you want to know about ancient times, try the Ancient Art Week tag.  For early modern, try Nanban/Namban to see Japanese art featuring both Black and white Portuguese and Spanish traders:



And you can also check the tag Benin for Sapi-Portuguese Ivories and metalwork like this featuring traders from Spain and Portugal in African empires and famous courts:



*EDIT: JSYK, the answer to any question that can be rephrased as “Has anyone in human history ever _____?”, the answer is going to be yes.

And that is why history is fun.

What I really love about those Nanban paintings is you get to see what it looks like when the white people in the painting are NOT considered the norm or the default. Look at how the faces of the white Portugese men compare to the Japanese people present - how strangely angular and pointy the faces are, how cartoonishly long and low the noses sit. It’s something you never see these days, where the default image is always aiming for whiteness.

“Alright, I’m interested in this Norse stuff. Where do I even start?”


First off, let me give you the bad news: when people say that Heathenry is a religion with homework, it’s not really a joke. You will have to read a lot. There’s no getting around it. How much you read will vary by individual and by what final “flavor” of path you’re going for, but regardless, you will have to read.

I will reiterate: You. Will. Have. To. Read.

Read More

(via feminist-heathens-r-us)

Anonymous asked: Loki was cast out as an outlaw. To worship him goes against core values for a lot of heathens, which is why they don't want to associate with Lokeans. Outlaw =/= misunderstood, scapegoat, minority. It's insulting to assume that because someone is gay/queer/non-white that they must feel an affinity to Loki- that's like saying that being gay/queer/non-white is unacceptable in the community (yes, it is against mainstream culture, but that does not mean it has to be unacceptable within Heathenism).




Oh man, your knowledge of Old Norse literature and culture is really spotty, anon.

Aside from Snorra Edda, the only text that has Loki being explicitly “cast out” is the Lokasenna. The thing about the Lokasenna is that it operates within the constraints of a particular poetic genre; just like there are a certain set of constraints and expectations for sonnets, haikus, Greek tragedies, and the like, so too are there expectations and constraints for the senna.

In Performing Definitions: Two Genres of Insult in Old Norse Literature, Karen Swenson argues that a senna is a genre that pits insider against outsider, with the “outsider” usually representing the feminine, queer, or “monstrous” Other who comes in contact with and challenges the heroic group. The point of the senna is that this challenger forces the masculine “inside group” to recognize the Otherness among them or in them and redefine themselves against it, clearing themselves of the accusations and expelling Otherness in one way or another.

When discussing the Lokasenna in particular, Swenson writes: Lokasenna…presents the sexually ambivalent Loki as representing the ‘sacré’ and threatening the community’s sense of self. Loki, the strange god who both is and is not a member of the community, who as double monstrueux is both necessary to and excluded from the community, serves well to embody the forces of and to voice the position of marginality” (72).

She goes on to explain that when Þórr forcefully expels Loki from the hall, brandishing Mjöllnir and yelling over and over again that he is a “queer being” (rög vættr), the Gods are literally creating a wall between the feminine and the masculine, the Self and the Other, and all of the other dichotomies that Loki undermined. Just as the senna genre demands, they are reestablishing boundaries by silencing a marginal figure.

It is important to note that Loki is not punished for killing Baldr in this text, and that the storyline leading up to Loki’s binding in Snorra Edda only draws this conclusion based on stanzas 33-35 of Völuspá: a narrative reading of these stanzas as related that has since been questioned many times. The truth of the matter is, with the appended nature of Lokasenna's epilogue and the holes in Snorri's reading of the Völuspá stanzas, we don’t know exactly WHY Loki is bound. What we do know, however, is that he is expelled from the hall at the end of Lokasenna for questioning the other Gods and likening them to himself. If we accept Swenson’s reading of senna (which I do), we realize that Loki is expelled from the hall because he is too close to “Otherness” for the other Gods to accept, and rather than recognizing the flexible nature of these categories they, in this poem at least, choose to force him out completely instead.

It is for this reason that many “outsiders” in modern Heathenry, particularly queer “outsiders” (as the vast majority of the insults against Loki in Lokasenna deal with his queerness) have gravitated to him as a God. He occupies a marginal space, and suffers for it. Personally, I do not find it the least bit insulting to be connected with a God who has endured insults and hardship because he does not comply to sexual and gender expectations. Even if Lokasenna were more than just a formulaic genre poem, it is undeniable that Loki is “outlawed,” as you say (though this verdict is never pronounced) because he is different. If that weren’t the case, why would he have been chased from the hall with charges of ragr behavior being forced upon him?


I’m sorry. I love you.

How can you torment us with this after today’s comic?  Gaaaah my feels!


I’m sorry. I love you.

How can you torment us with this after today’s comic? Gaaaah my feels!

One of the most durable paradoxes of white supremacy - the idea that those who are closest to an experience of oppression are its least credible witnesses.

Walter Johnson, Soul by soul: life inside the antebellum slave market
(via drapetomaniakkk)

This is the type of violence—from microaggressions to epistemic violence to emotional/physical violence to enslavement/genocide—that gets justified by asserting that the oppressor is “objective” and “logical” and thereby “credible.” As if there is objectivity in choosing to oppress. As if the emotions of entitlement, indifference, greed or hatred aren’t involved. 

(via gradientlair)

(Source: guitarbains, via medievalpoc)


It’s only natural that people worry about their kids, isn’t it? The problem is that educating them about tricky things like relationships, pornography and hate speech costs a lot of money. Not only that, the Daily Mail don’t like it and there’s an election due next year. So we’re all better off if we pretend we’re sorting out social problems by banning the internet. Job done.

Open Rights Group believes that parents shouldn’t be guilt-tripped into switching filters on. Visit this website to find out more about why filters are bad for the Internet, what to do if your website is blocked and how you can help keep your children safe online.