Exciting news from the Bayside City Council elections :
the Queens Tribune reported that a conservative Republican was running a strong race in the 19th district and had a chance to win in the overwhelmingly Democratic city. But this was a conservative Republican with a difference: Dan Halloran is the spiritual leader of a local pagan group that worships Norse gods.
What’s the difference? Odin-worship just screams ‘conservative’ to me! Just look at the role model; I mean, you’ve got hanging from the world tree pierced by a spear (fiscal responsibility) , plucking out an eye at the Well of Urd to gain wisdom (good education policy) , not to mention rituals in which eight groups of eight animals were hanged on eight consecutive days, culminating with the hanging of eight innocent men on the eighth day (tough on crime) .
Furthermore, we are told, Halloran is a real Odinist, not one of those sissy neo-Wiccans that you meet in head shops. Look:
When Halloran founded New Normandy seven years ago, he was looking for something much more formal and traditional. Sancio describes it as “definitely on the historically accurate end of the spectrum.”
. . .
Sancio and Bloch say that the ritual of “blot” can involve sacrificing a valued object, but sometimes it involves killing an animal. Bloch stresses that this happens only “on very rare occasions, and when it’s done, it’s done by someone who knows what they’re doing.” Bloch likens it to Kosher or Halal butchering. The animal — usually a lamb, pig or chicken — is subsequently roasted and consumed. Bloch calls it “a kind of sacral barbecue.”
Sometimes killing an animal? Wait a second! This doesn’t sound like any Odin-worship that I’ve ever heard of !
Odin, the chief god of the Norse, was associated with death by hanging, and a possible practice of Odinic sacrifice by strangling has some archeological support in the existence of bodies perfectly preserved by the acid of the Jutland (later taken over by the Daner people) peatbogs, into which they were cast after having been strangled.
Behold the Nu-Paganism! It’s like Eros lo volt, but with more tea-candles and some period garb. I’m reminded once again of this exchange from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods :
“ . . . My friend and I were disagreeing over what the word ‘Easter’ means. Would you happen to know?”
The girl stared at him as if green toads had begun to push their way between his lips. Then she said, “I don’t know about any of that Christian stuff. I’m a pagan.”
. . .
“And tell me, as a pagan, who do you worship?”
“That’s right. I imagine you must have a pretty wide-open field. So to whom do you set up the household altar? To whom do you bow down? To whom do you pray at dawn and at dusk?”
Her lips described several shapes without saying anything before she said, “The female principle. It’s an empowerment thing. You know?”
“Indeed. And this female principle of yours. Does she have a name?”
“She’s the goddess within us all,” said the girl with the eyebrow ring, color rising to her cheek. “She doesn’t need a name.”
“Ah, . . . so do you have mighty bacchanals in her honor? Do you drink blood wine under the full moon while scarlet candles burn in silver candleholders? Do you step naked into the seafoam, chanting ecstatically to your nameless goddess while the waves lick at your legs, lapping your thighs like the tongues of a thousand leopards?”
“You’re making fun of me,” she said. “We don’t do any of that stuff you were saying.”
. . .
“There,” said Wednesday, “is one who ‘does not have the faith and will not have the fun,’ Chesterton. Pagan indeed.
Somewhere, the students of Hampden College are slowly shaking their heads with dismay.