Tag Archives: Asatru

Framing: How Are We Doing?


As The Wild Hunt reports, Pagan Pride Days are happening all over. Let’s take a look at some of the press and consider how well the organizers are doing when it comes to framing their message.

Here’s a report from Michigan:

Sault Ste. Marie Pagans to celebrate Pagan Pride Day

Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Pagans, Heathens, Goddess-Worshippers, and other earth-centred religious practitioners and their families will gather to celebrate Pagan Pride Day on September 11, 2011 beginning at noon, at the Bellevue Park Picnic Shelter.

This educational event, hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Pagan Association, will include information on associated religious practices, vendors, an assortment of workshops, a food drive to celebrate the harvest, and an open religious ritual.

The celebration is open to the public, and admission is a donation of non-perishable food to support the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen or “creature comforts” for The Animal Assistance Group.

Cash donations will also be accepted to support future Pagan Pride Day events.

September 11th’s celebration will focus on a ritual celebrating the Autumn Equinox, a time of thanksgiving in many Pagan traditions.

The food and creature comforts drive held in conjunction with this is a way to give thanks for the abundance of the year, and share that abundance with others.

The ceremony will showcase the diversity of the Pagan community, give thanks combined with wishes for continued abundance, and bless the results of the food drive before it is given away.

Participants are encouraged to bring musical instruments, and families are welcome.

This year, we are proud to showcase vendors such as Rolling River Soap Company and Jess’ Crafty Things, as well as items created by Sault Ste. Marie Pagan Association volunteers and a Tarot card reader.

This year’s event is one of 132 worldwide in conjunction with the Pagan Pride Project.

More than a dozen states and Canadian provinces began joining in 1998 to honor the Autumn Equinox as a celebration of earth-based spirituality.

As founder Cecylyna Dewr explains, “Today, major corporations are adding diversity statements and programs to their human resources areas because they have moved beyond mere tolerance to recognize the value gained from a plurality of opinion, background, and viewpoint, especially in an increasingly global community. Yet many people who would be offended by a racial slur, or who support gender equality, still discriminate on the basis of religion because they believe that theirs is the only valid religion, or because they simply are misinformed about the practices of other religions. The Pagan Pride project hopes to challenge intolerance through education.”

Modern Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, is a growing religious movement based on combinations of ancient polytheism, modern eco-spirituality, and reverence for the Divine as both masculine and feminine.

Some of the more common traditions include Wicca or Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, Asatru, and Druidic spiritual paths.

Misconceptions about these religions range from the belief that they practice devil-worship to concerns about casting ‘black magic'; in reality, most practitioners don’t even believe in an entity of all evil, are found in all walks of life from professionals to homemakers, and simply enjoy celebrating a religion that emphasizes respect for nature, humanity, and oneself.

For more information about the event or about Pagan religions, contact Local Coordinator Amanda Zuke at (705) 254-5072 or through email at amanda.zuke@gmail.com .

Sault Ste. Marie Pagan Pride Day (including a copy of this release) can be found online at the website.

The Pagan Pride Project is located online at its website.

This starts off really well, with an emphasis on what the event IS and provides good clues to what Pagans value. See, e.g.: “September 11th’s celebration will focus on a ritual celebrating the Autumn Equinox, a time of thanksgiving in many Pagan traditions.

The food and creature comforts drive held in conjunction with this is a way to give thanks for the abundance of the year, and share that abundance with others.

The ceremony will showcase the diversity of the Pagan community, give thanks combined with wishes for continued abundance, and bless the results of the food drive before it is given away.”

I’m not sure why the event coordinators felt the need to say: “‘Today, major corporations are adding diversity statements and programs to their human resources areas because they have moved beyond mere tolerance to recognize the value gained from a plurality of opinion, background, and viewpoint, especially in an increasingly global community. Yet many people who would be offended by a racial slur, or who support gender equality, still discriminate on the basis of religion because they believe that theirs is the only valid religion, or because they simply are misinformed about the practices of other religions. The Pagan Pride project hopes to challenge intolerance through education.'” Still, it’s not terrible and makes the point that diversity is good. And it ties everything back to the coordinators’ values: “challenging intolerance through education.”

But, then, things go off the rails: “Misconceptions about these religions range from the belief that they practice devil-worship to concerns about casting ‘black magic'; in reality, most practitioners don’t even believe in an entity of all evil, are found in all walks of life from professionals to homemakers, and simply enjoy celebrating a religion that emphasizes respect for nature, humanity, and oneself.” [Please don't say "oneself." It's almost never correctly used and sounds stuffy and fake.]

Remember, when you attempt to negate a negative frame, you reinforce it. The (too long) sentence above is a wordy version of Christine O’Donnell saying, “I’m not a Witch; I’m you.” All anyone remembers about O’Donnell is that she “dabbled into Witchcraft.” If you were a young family looking for a fun event, that last paragraph would likely to put you off. Why risk taking your kids to an event that’s at all mixed up with “devil-worship”? This just isn’t necessary. You know, there’s good reason for parents to be concerned about exposing their children to Catholic priests. Not superstition, but good, factual reason. And you’ll never see the local St. Anthony’s Fall Festival written up with a paragraph that says, “Some parents worry about our priests molesting their children, but our priests are really nice people who love little children.” Know why? Because that’s really bad framing.

So, let’s look at Pennsylvania:

Pagans celebrate pride at annual Erie County gathering

BY DANA MASSING, Erie Times-News
dana.massing@timesnews.com

Hundreds of pagans from at least three states and another country will gather in Erie County this month.

The seventh annual Pagan Pride Day sponsored by the United Neopagan Council of Lake Erie will be held Sept. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at St. Nick’s Grove in Millcreek Township.

New this year will be a special 2 p.m. acoustic show by Icarus Witch, part of an effort to expand the yearly gathering, organizers said.

“We decided this year to add some entertainment to it,” said Ruth Sprague, vendor/entertainment coordinator for the day.

Between 250 and 300 pagans and others from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York state and Canada are expected to attend, U.N.C.L.E. President Rich Konkol said.

“It’s a really good family atmosphere,” he said.

The annual gathering will feature workshops on pagan paths plus an evening bonfire and vendors selling books, pottery, jewelry, incense and other items, he said. Food also will be available for purchase.

Admission to Pagan Pride Day is free, organizers said.

However, there is a fee for the Icarus Witch show. Tickets purchased by Monday are $10.50 for adults and $5.50 for children, Sprague said. After that, including the day of the show, the price increases to $12.50 for adults and $8.50 for children, she said.

Sprague said the Pittsburgh-based band has a new singer, Christopher Shaener, who is originally from Erie. The group, which has six albums, plays “metal in the tradition of the early masters,” according to its website, she said.

“This is a real rare thing to get them to do an acoustic show,” Sprague said.

Besides providing entertainment, Pagan Pride Day is meant to educate, Konkol said.

He said people who follow the pagan path attend to learn more about it.

Organizers also try to attract the general public so people can learn about the polytheistic and nature-based religions practiced by pagans.

DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail.

Nicely done. Notice how the emphasis is on what Pagan Pride Day IS and not on what Pagans don’t do. (I wish D. Massing would capitalize “Pagan,” just as s/he would capitalize “Christian,” but that’s not the organizers’ responsibility.) There’s basic information about the event, a focus on a new feature for this year, and a good nod to the general public: “Organizers also try to attract the general public so people can learn about the polytheistic and nature-based religions practiced by [P]agans.” Nothing negative.

What about Wyoming?

Pagan Pride Day set for Saturday
BY AARON LECLAIR / LBEDIT7@LARAMIEBOOMERANG.COM • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

A local Norse pagan church will host a public festival this weekend to educate the public about paganism, to provide fun activities for children and adults and to collect donations for the Laramie Soup Kitchen.

The Wolf Tree Kindred will host a Pagan Pride Day festival from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday at the Otto Dahl shelter in Washington Park.

The event is alcohol-free and will include representatives from a number of pagan groups and belief systems from Laramie, Riverton and Gillette, Wolf Tree Kindred Gythia (High Priestess) Bronwyn Thompson and Chieftain Amy Bernard said.

“We hope to educate the community,” Thompson said. “(Paganism) covers a lot of religions that they would be familiar with, but just don’t realize that everything is lumped under one name.”

Buddhist, Daoist/Taoist, Wiccan, Eckankar and Unitarian Universalist groups have been invited to the event.

Pagan Pride Day will begin with an opening ritual performed by Jo Aelfwine, a local Wicca practitioner.

“Four different people will call down the cardinal quarters (North, South, East and West),” Bernard said. “And, we will invoke the blessings of the deities.”

Thompson said the opening ritual should last about 15-20 minutes.

From noon-5 p.m., activities and games will include sack races, water balloon tosses, relay races and Wolf Tree Kindred’s unique take on Pin the Tail on the Donkey with Pin the Tail on Sleipner. (Sleipner was the personal steed of Odin, chief of the Norse gods and father of Thor.)

There also will be tarot card, rune readings and a children’s booth with games, Bernard said.

In addition to activities and games, Pagan Pride Day will have raffles and a silent auction to raise money to support next year’s event.

Bernard said hosting this year’s Pagan Pride Day has “set us back over $1,500 or our own money.”

Raffle tickets will cost $1 or $5 for six tickets.

Items up for raffle include books, bath salts, crystal goblets, decks of tarot cards and “mystery baskets.”

“Hopefully, we’ll have an assortment for everyone, not just pagans,” Thompson said.

The silent auction will feature artwork, a Viking-style drinking horn made by Bernard, a collection of Joseph Campbell mythology books and handmade jewelry.

Both the raffles and silent auction will end at 7 p.m. Participants do not need to be present to win.

Vendors, meanwhile, will be set up around the Otto Dahl shelter and will sell jewelry, clothing and other arts and crafts.

Wolf Tree Kindred asks that all participants bring a canned good or nonperishable food item to be donated to the Laramie Soup Kitchen.

Pagan Pride Day will end at 8 p.m. with Bernard directing a closing ceremony.

“We’re planning to do a Norse ritual,” Thompson said. “It’ll probably only last about 20 minutes.

“It might take longer depending on how many people decide to join in.”

A drinking horn full of apple juice will be passed around and the participants will make toasts to whomever they wish, Thompson said.

In the traditional Ásatrú ceremony, a drinking horn full of mead or ale is passed around and participants make toasts to the gods, other supernatural beings, heroes, ancestors, past deeds and to oaths or promises of future actions.

Both Thompson and Bernard said people should feel free at any time to ask Pagan Pride Day volunteers or Wolf Tree Kindred members any questions about paganism.

“We’ll all answer questions,” Thompson said. “We’ll all have nametags.”

There will be handouts with information about various pagan faiths, Bernard added.

For more information about Pagan Pride Day, contact Bernard at 421-1627 or Thompson at (480) 751-9194.

Laramie group has 10 full members

Wolf Tree Kindred was founded two years ago in Laramie and is officially registered as a church by the state of Wyoming, Bronwin Thompson said.

“We are what is called Ásatrú, which is also known as Heathen,” she said. “We follow the Norse gods.”

Ásatrú (Old Norse for “belief in the gods”) was practiced on a large scale for thousands of years throughout Europe before the rise of Christianity, according to the Ásatrú Alliance, which is one of four major national Ásatrú organizations.

Specifically, the Northern European inhabitants living in the lands that today are Scandinavia, England, Germany, France and the Netherlands practiced Ásatrú.

Back then, as they do now, Ásatrú followers worshipped the Norse pantheon of gods and goddesses, which includes Odin, Thor, Freya, Freyr, Tyr, Loki, Heimdall, Skadi, Frigga and others.

Ásatrú has received some negative press over the years with various White supremacist groups using the religion to promote hate.

However, the Ásatrú Alliance states Ásatrú is apolitical and does not “practice, preach or promote hate, bigotry or racism.”

Furthermore, Thompson said White supremacist groups that follow Ásatrú are no more representative of Norse pagans than the radical anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church is representative of mainstream Christians.

Wolf Tree Kindred has 10 full members who meet at Bernard’s home.

For more information about Wolf Tree Kindred, go to the church’s Web site at http://www.wyomingasatru.com or e-mail wolftreekindred@wyomingasatru.com or bthompson@wyomingasatru.com.

To learn more about Ásatrú, go to the Ásatrú Alliance Web site at http://www.asatru.org or to the Wikipedia entry for Germanic Neopaganism at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_Neopaganism.

This starts off really well and provides more detail than you often see concerning exactly what’s going to happen at the ritual. That can be reassuring for anyone, including wannabe and newbie Pagans, considering attending.

Here’s where the message goes off of the framing rails: “Ásatrú has received some negative press over the years with various White supremacist groups using the religion to promote hate.

However, the Ásatrú Alliance states Ásatrú is apolitical and does not “practice, preach or promote hate, bigotry or racism.”

Furthermore, Thompson said White supremacist groups that follow Ásatrú are no more representative of Norse pagans than the radical anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church is representative of mainstream Christians.”

Again, the Catholic church has received some negative press over the years with various priests using the religion to molest children. But you’re not going to read about that in an article promoting a family festival to celebrate the Feast of St. Ethelbert. So why do Pagans think they need to apologize?

However, let’s imagine that members of the Asatru Alliance feel that they simply must separate themselves from racisim. If so, how about this:

The Asatru Alliance is not a political organization. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, or religion. We value diversity and all members of the community are genuinely welcome to attend our festival.”

Positive, but gets the message across. The organizers’ point that: “White supremacist groups that follow Ásatrú are no more representative of Norse pagans than the radical anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church is representative of mainstream Christians,” is a good one, but should be saved for a response to a specific question from the reporter: “Isn’t it true that Asatru groups are simply a cover for white supremacy?” It’s a nice way to frame the answer in terms that most Christians will understand and then allows the speaker to quickly shift focus. “Our event will include Buddhists, Taoists, and Unitarian Universalists. We’re collecting donations for the Laramie Soup Kitchen, which, as you know, feeds several hundred people a week . . . .”

BTW, the comments to this article are worth a read.

Check back later this week for more on how we’re doing framing our Pagan Pride events. If you’ve got an article about your event, please let me know. I’d like to start putting together a collection of well-framed announcements that other groups can use as models.

Picture found here.