My name is Chaplain Ren Anderson. Yes. I have a title. I only use it when I feel absolutely necessary, which is very, very rarely.
Chaplains maintain the spiritual and mental health of their communities under an easily recognizable title acknowledges/accepted by most other faiths. We (usually) have 4 year degrees plus extra training in our respective specialties. (Except for *most* other Heathens/Asatru who have zero actual training and self-declare.)
Within the past month, Chaplain Persephone Hildebrandt, myself, and other interesting individuals had Theistic worship of Eris Discordia officially declared as sympatico, corresponding, and interchangeable to the Heathen worship of Idunna- Therefore merging two large, fairly alienated sister faiths of Heathenry- to help share the workloads of the chaplains of both communities: Namely, working with the exact same Goddesses on behalf of the greater community with a frustrating amount of organization. Discordian chaplains hate organizations- and I am not particularly social. (if you noticed)
Many Discordians originated from Asatru; the constant rejection for the Gods we chose/and who chose us was enough to cause most of us to exodus the public community in droves… (those of us who didn’t create Loki blogs, anyway.)
The other religions- including my small corner of study- only maintain clergy systems either by control or for control- I chose to be clergy because I have remained incredibly angry in several directions at once (much like Eris) for lack of control of how my beliefs and people are misrepresented by media, and most of all, ourselves- and I feel helpful, overall. Chaplaincy is usually one of the more rewarding parts of my existence.
Honestly, we are all supposed to be each, individually, clergy to ourselves and our greater communities. The mindset of compassion and care should be omnipresent and not simply confined to an idea of a “Calling”.
Spiritual callings and development is all inclusive- Tell me your tradition, and it would be my pleasure to give you the title of any number of books from common to obscure that will likely explain things with shared language more profoundly than I ever could.
HOWEVER. I am unable to perform this pleasant task since it is also my responsibility vis-a-vis my own oath to Tyr to make sure I do my best to keep you alive long enough to ask for books again when our economy is not in state of perpetual economic intemperance.
If you want to take care of your chaplains and other helpful-type people: Please Take Care of Each Other
If you currently do not have any real-life connections in the region you reside currently, move. If you have no idea where to go, come to Pennsylvania. I happily speak representing my local faith community in this one aspect in this one aspect. I am every bit as much Pennsylvania Deitsch and of equal standing to any other Braucherei you may already know and have served non-public Heathenry in some capacity or another even when this blog (or its predecessors) have remained dormant for years.
(I just don’t leave the house much)
We have farmer’s markets, established multi-faith connections, and an easy commute to several major cities- and for whatever reason, most of our best clergy, like myself, seem to be forever stuck in Pennsylvania in the exact same counties our ancestors decided to bind our bloodlines to for a few hundred years or so.
If nothing else, the Gnostic sorts of Dutchies are pretty consistent.
Trust me, few see it more than I do. However, everyone is exhausted. Every decent religious person is trying to keep you from killing yourselves. Why? Because many of us have either struggled with suicidal ideations in the past or have been profoundly traumatized by the deaths of our friends. Here is a drive of resources on how to establish care for others who are currently in-crisis (Compiled by the lovely Jackie, thank you, love 😘)
Luckily for you, I have experienced both- I have been both extraordinarily suicidal (over the course of years, I eventually improved)- and there was one heck of a death around ten years ago, that locally -none of us- Heathen or otherwise, have fully recovered.
I know first hand how absolutely devastating the effects of suicide on our remaining community structure- in all communities, not just religious ones.
Anyway- the most important things to keep in mind:
1, Realize is every state is temporary. Change is inevitable.
2. Change is not necessarily negative.
3. We still have free will and agency (to a self -restrictive point, in some cases)
4. People are more important than projects/work
5. Social Media is the life support of all our failing interpersonal relationships.
What we need to see happen:
1. Complete abolishment of artificial divisions. Mysticism/Mystics have been pent up in their respective boxes of religion/culture for far too long. For example, most of my people don’t travel outside of county for Rumspringa- however, in leaving both state and country I have learned we have far more friends among other religious communities than even our popular leaders are even aware. Good Frith can span hundreds of years. You never know how important you are to peoples outside your own if you never leave.
2. A Restoration of Human Connections: Although difficult during the plague, if you can go to work with a mask- why not spend some time with loving family? (Chosen is fine if you, like me, have limited biological options) There is no guarantee cell phone service and internet will remain uninterrupted. Please save your closest contacts in an old-school notebook with address/phone/ other contact means.
Further- we need to have a crowdsourced directory of all resources for every city on an easy to navigate website run by willing volunteers. (In the spirit of my forebears: Just copy the resources of other places and improve upon it). There should be at least one person per city who is willing to talk to those lost folk from out of town and in need of support from others who share the same faith background.
The eventual plan is for an Actual AllThing- one event actually open to everyone. How do you know you belong at the Allthing? The answer is Anyone who wants to attend belongs there so long as they maintain honor and good frith while during the event.
I am picturing a several day event with each hour dedicated to a different deities and concepts via discussion, lecture, or ritual/religious services at all hours with the only pause being at mealtimes. You want a God represented- Great! You just volunteered to run an hour of time on their behalf.
The first AllThing will be here, in Pennsylvania. I fully agreed to help run the first one with a multifaith community of genuinely good people. Some of which have multiple accolades degrees and such, others are mostly anonymous underachievers like myself.
I have extensive experience in event coordination- but no love of doing it. I will help create it but I refuse to run or lead it, nor should anyone. The leadership should be based on who wins the popular vote for location per year, and then, only on rules for cleanup and general event planning- not the content of the religious services nor lecture topics. Heathens divide themselves by their talents, skills, and general temperament by the Gods they self proclaim.
Ask devotees of Tyr to run physical security, and you will equally find Lokeans willing to cover you on the cyber security front- Even though not every Tyrsvolk is involved in law enforcement, just as not every Lokean knows computers: Guaranteed, with any socialization whatsoever, they may know someone with those exact competencies within their specific networks.
Of course, this Allthing idea at least a year or three in the making- we need to fully destroy the existing structures to free the crucial personnel required for such a bright and inclusive future.
3. Less reliance on pharmaceuticals: As some of you may have discovered the past two years, we cannot count on regular prescriptions to be filled in a timely manner from our local pharmacies. (The Sufi chaplain currently, inexplicably, redecorating my basement has far more to say about this than I do. I will link to Chaplain Persephone’s blog as soon as we have it live for her. Her experiences on the subject matter at hand is heartbreaking.)
Stop looking down your collective noses at Cannabis as a legitimate medication. It is literally a plant that takes 90 days to grow plus a few extra weeks to cure and can provide medicine for an individual (or entire family with low tolerances) for months. If you need more info I have an entire website compiled on the stuff.
If you need help with your specific condition; I am actually one of the most trusted experts in the medical cannabis industry. (There, something else I don’t trot out much.)
4. Keep your supply chains local- If COVID has taught us as a nation- it has taught us the importance of the farmers we visit locally. From my location I have access to countless farmer’s markets and likely more than a few Co-ops. You should be able to say the same.
5. Protect yourself and your families: Put on your own oxygen mask first. Get yourself a VPN for all online interactions from your home computer/cellphone. Many of you have had to restart all your social media accounts (myself included) and if needed, I can create a short guide for how to do so safely and legally.
If you need extra help- please do not hesitate to apply for government assistance- all of them you can get. Now is not a time for Puritanical American faux-pride in the false concept of self-sufficiency. Send me an email via this blog and I will help you find them if you are in the USA. I have extensive knowledge of how to acquire food stamps, health insurance, cash benefits, pensions, and how to navigate the SSDI system. I will do my best to answer you within 24 hours- and will endeavour to post on ‘The Lokean’ facebook page if my availability changes.
A Little Rant on Chaplaincy in Relation to Braucherei Culture (Feel Free to Ignore: Everyone Else Does)
Some of this needs repeating:
My name is Chaplain Ren Anderson. Yes. I have a title. I only use it when I feel the need, which is very, very rarely. I have collected a few titles, and I use none of them.
Chaplains maintain the spiritual and mental health of their communities under an easily recognizable title acknowledges/accepted by most other faiths. We (usually) have 4 year degrees plus extra training in our respective specialties.
Chaplaincy is the antithesis of Heathen thought- however, it is literally the only way we even have a place at the table with other world religions. Many of us suffer through four years of listening to our ancestral beliefs dismissed as ‘mythology’ or ‘ancient history’ and blindly discount anything not previously researched by a man with tenure whose boredom eventually leads them to correct academic understanding and then translation to other academics why our faith is both real and valid.
Then, on the Heathen side- Asatru hate any person who worships any deity that is not the protagonist of a comic book franchise. This also leaves all other indigenous Heathen peoples entirely ignored.
We indigenous Pa German Braucherei have already literally lived lives of “You can be anything you want to be except what you are,” and I remain no exception. You can tell if a Braucher has left their home communities very easily- because they exist outside of those communities, often still using Braucherei nomenclatures, regardless.
But thanks to my wandering, I have discovered we have made plenty of friends in other faiths who love us more than we love ourselves. For every drop of Cherokee blood, there is a drop of our own in every family in Tahlequah. And they remember the Pennsylvania Germans fondly, in particular for saving many of their children from the dreaded “Cherokee Schools”- horrid re-education camps meant to destroy their indiginous ties. Our people often took the children home on holidays and sent them back to their parents several states away at great risk to ourselves, or we adopted the children outright and ended up with oft-ignored segment of Pa Dutch faith known as “Pow Wow”- an amalgamation of both Germanic Heathen with native practices of the tribes we interacted with at the time.
The great thing about knowing how busy other chaplains are right now- is also knowing that the primary scholar on Braucherei is far too busy with his other responsibilities to refute me at this moment.
I have this moment where I can speak the truth without interruption; One set of extremists is deplatformed, the others are in hiding, and everyone of any ethic is too busy helping people to put the energy in trying to campaign against my experiences as per usual.
Then- take a person who enters into clergy programs because she hates all of the above realities- then takes all her degrees, shoves them in a drawer, flips off the man, then writes a whole lot of blog posts for all kinds of communities.
For free. Because I can.
Also, because that is part of the few decent parts of my culture; Pa Germans are absolutely known for being insular, xenophobic, and judgemental with a few kind folks scattered betwixt the hexes and cow shit of our fields. The nice people are more often than not, our Braucherei. We are usually well traveled, friendly, and end up utterly and totally codependent on our faith communities for our sense of self worth and orientation in the world.
We often end up bridging a few. I am proud to have positive relations with so many more people outside of Asatru than I ever did within it- as well as better family connections with distant relatives from Wyomissing verses my actual immediate family.
The unlucky Braucherei born to shunned families-those who live outside of our hometowns, have literally had to reside in other religions for nearly the entirety of our existence of the US for hundreds of years. Whether it be Anabaptist Christianity, Lutheranism, Quakers, Wiccans, or even Asatru itself; we still tend towards either sticking entirely in scared little huddles of close family contacts or literally dissolving ourselves into the greater world. Outside of communities that already know of Brauchers (which is very few)- all you end up with is children being acknowledged as being one by the few non-estranged members of toxic family units and literally no access to training within the culture if your family is determined “verbot”.
Heathenry literally owes several faiths for preserving the Braucherei- and the first apology made should be to kind monotheists.
If we don’t have families- the fact that this very searching in the form of “Rumspringa” exists, as a thing, that is known is so very telling. Those that “leave the community never to return” were abused. This is literally the only practice where the community is aware, in a very loud manner, the less inclined the child is to return, the more indicative it is of poor health of the community as a whole. Braucherei practice is not an initiation one can pay for, it’s a condition present at birth- and every world culture is capable of producing intelligent, sensitive children and nurturing them into productive, if not profound, adults.
Within the past month, Chaplain Persephone Hildebrandt, myself, and other in a small council declared Theistic worship of Eris Discordia officially as sympatico, corresponding, and interchangeable to the Heathen worship of Idunna- Therefore merging two large, fairly alienated sister faiths.
Our Faith Community is deeply unhealthy.
And one faith, correctly, hates the bindings that hold the other sister down.
The reason I bring this all to one, happy conclusion- is that she is also a Braucher- My original birth last name was Hunsberger. I originate from frithless jackasses who sold their spirituality and ethic for material wealth and advancement. After my great-grandma died all spirituality in my family died with her- This left me at loose ends enough to seek Asatru. Then through Asatru, some actual stability via Sufism, (at the time at antithesis by my collegiate system) before ending right back with you. Again. An indigenous person without any of your beloved respect nor regard who is serving the community you fail by your lack of actual clergy within your ranks… as well as complete and total disregard for the majority of the entirety of horribly reconstructionist, colonizing excuse for Asatru Theology.
I literally have to re-educate every single person that Asatru “teaches” into trusting their own UPG’s again.
Persephone is a Hildebrandt, from the worst reputation family of Hexen from Lancaster- she tried Asatru, walked right on through and ended up with everyone Asatru rejected: The intelligent, the sensitive, and the damaged in Discordia. The brightest minds and the deepest hearts that the viking larpers rejected.
Pain is a real thing all humans must experience. Rejecting the suffering was not a very nice way to honor the select few Gods you chose to honor. However, did you ever ask yourselves about what is the result of all the Gods you denied honor to, entirely arbitrarily?
I am thrilled to discover that along with you- and unlike you, I have popcorn instead of a box of tissues.
You now two angry, extraordinarily well-educated (Both via Moravian), Braucherei as your chaplains Asatru community. And we are not speaking kindly on your behalf- we preach the total annihilation of your current suffocating structures as the children of Loki you named us to be.
Two things I cannot ever seem to leave are my commitments to my faith and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (although I’ve tried) Thanks to those two things, and those two things alone, does Asatru/Heathenry still even have me as a chaplain…but do you?
It seems like the Gods created their own solution to the problems within our community. It is up to us to apply them.