I recently picked up a used copy of Gods of the Blood by Gardell. Written circa 2003 the book combines a study and analysis of Racist stands of Paganism in the United States. Over the course of 5 years the author Mattias Gardell, a comparative religion scholar from Sweden, participated in and observed pagan ceremonies and interviewed a who’s who of well-known and lesser renown racist pagans and heathens. In this book the author explores the wider relations of modern Asatru/Heathenry with White Separatist movements; set against a backdrop of globalization, whiteness, and racism in modern America. Gardell takes a holistic approach in his study of the relations between Asatru (as well as Neo-Paganism in general) and Neo-fascism which is created through the use of one on one interviews, participation in rituals and analyzing racist heathen literature. Some of the sects or branches (more like dead boughs of Yggdrasil) he studies are Wotanism, Odinism, Odalism, Dark-side Asatru and other elements ranging from Wicca to Satanism.
Gardell does an amazing job at exploring the belief system of these “heathens”. He does a masterful job of explaining how these diverse sects understand their own ideology. He explains these ideologies as a mix of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, warrior ideology, patriarchy, populism, racial purity, klandom, skinhead culture, and national socialism just to name a few. Granted the book is a bit dated and most of the organizations mentioned have either shrunk in membership or disappeared completely due to a lack of organization. In some cases the founder has moved on to other venues of White Hate recruiting. The political leanings of White Separatists, while obvious to some, are positioned in what’s called the “decentralized Right”. As opposed to the typical National Socialism as expressed by the Nazi German dictatorship, this newer form of fascism idealizes the tribe or family as the central political group, exposing ideas of a romanticized past in the form of meritocracies, hereditary social relations, and most of all, separatism. The separatist conception stems from the central unifying idea that multiculturalism created by capitalism in modern society has doomed Whites to a life of missed opportunity and forced cultural assimilation with alien cultures while rejecting the obvious White privilege enjoyed by its practitioners. While not all the groups looked at in the book adhere strictly to these tenets, they are found in most.
Gods of Blood does a great job of showing the personalities behind the Separatists strains of neo-paganism. The author shows in the subjects own words who is overt and who is more covert in their espoused racist ideologies and advocation of violence to that end. The book also documents the connections between revolutionary White Hate groups with the less overtly racist, non-Christian, religious groups past and present. Also examined is how the approach in recruiting of Heathen Hate is different from that of Christian groups like the World Church of the Creator. However the author does show the similarity in rhetoric between the two. The histories of some racist ‘heathens’ such as Else Christensen, Wyatt Kaldenburg, and David and Katja Lane, amongst others, is also documented as well. Gardell goes in-depth to understand the role race plays in neo-pagan movements and how modern understandings of race are used to explain the function of pan-Europeanism as a group identifier, and its uniquely American origins.
While I believe this is an excellent introduction to the problem that the race issue has become in Heathen organizations and communities, Gardell sometimes falls flat in further analysis beyond his subjects’ identification. Like a true scientist he tries hard to not take a strong stance in identifying the racist origins and opinions of some of the more covert racist Heathens he interviews. He also falls flat in his analysis of intellectualized or mystic racism which is characteristic of the decentralized Right. Also he fails to look at any of the possible repercussions to the heathen communities at large as a breeding ground from which White Hate/Pride can recruit. He is more concerned with who is advocating violence from a traditional revolutionary and/or separatists’ point of view. No doubt, as this splashier aspect has a wider appeal to non-heathen readers. At times he also get bogged down about the minor differences between the varying types of neo-fascism he encounters, while failing to pull all their ideologies together as hate, just in various forms (both soft and hard). As stated above it’s a great book but very dated. I suggest it as a good primer on the different neo-fascist ideological strains infiltrating the Heathen and neo-pagan communities for the purposes of both cooption and recruitment. Also it has obvious value as being one of the few well credited and research works on the evolution of Heathenry in America. Lastly, two unexpected gems of this book were the history of how White Hate funds its coming ‘race war’ through the production and use of extreme music and the hilarious history of Satanism. While only mildly related to the main subject they were informative on the one hand and side-splitting on the other. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the evolution of Heathenry, racism in the United States and their intersection in White Separatism.