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Dr. Mathias Nordvig on Occulture Wars

The following statements are from Mathias Nordvig’s interview on the Occulture Wars podcast episode No Frith with Fools: Fireside Chat with Dr. Mathias Nordvig who is currently teaching faculty at Colorado State University Boulder. All quotes are Nordvig's words except when otherwise indicated. Each quote is preceded by the relevant time-code for when the statement took place in the podcast episode.


CW: Transphobia, anti-LGBT rhetoric, Nazi apologism


Episode Description:


“On this episode of Occulture Wars, I'm joined by the knowledgeable and razor-sharp , both an advanced academic, author and actual practitioner. On this episode we bluntly discuss the the practical reality of the current issues within current sphere of paganry and occult practice-- how the lack of centralized or cohesive priorities leaves us susceptible to hyperpolitical rhetoric, the hierarchical totem pole of identity politics, healthy priorities for practitioners today and much more. Specifically, this is a conversation between two practitioners with a sincere love of the Path who refuse to devolve to the regressive past of tradcon-ism, and also don't align with the accelerated destruction of postmodernism. Instead, we ask, what about the present? How can we make the most of the past and modernity without succumbing to the downfalls of either?”


(12:51-13:05) “This I would say is generally different with the left wing except, of course, with the radical types, if you say something that they don’t like then they’re just as bad as the white supremacists, it’s another reason they find to ostracize you”


(13:59-16:13)“I couldn’t agree more with that, there’s definitely a lot of window dressing going on, there’s a lot of people who are using these symbols to advance a political position that, ya know, doesn’t necessarily have much to do with investigating personal spirituality or group spirituality for that matter. Actually building a group around spirituality, this is actually a problem that has existed in Heathenry associated with Northern Europe for a very long time because there are groups whose agenda are white supremacy and there are individuals who have that agenda so the response has been, on the other side, establish groups with the opposing political agenda and what we never get to do, really, is to form groups based around spiritual outlook or a relationship to deities or a way of doing ritual and that’s not to say I wish there was some sort of acceptance of white supremacists its simply a function of the problem that we have that this intellectual material is attached to a history of white supremacy. So that’s incredibly problematic for developing an actual viable, living praxis. We never got to a point where we could create a flourishing religion because it always gets bogged down in politics.“


(16:50-17:33) “This is where it gets really difficult too, cause there are chauvinists and supremacists in other religions, you can find them among Jews, you can find them among Christians, you can find them anywhere, and quite often these religions do not seem to have the same that problems we do with this. They do have a lot of problems in a lot of different ways and are working things out in their own ways but its interesting to see that Christians don’t deny that white supremacists can be Christians, that doesn’t necessarily mean they like that but they don’t deny that.”


(37:35-37:50) “There was a discussion where I relayed a couple of historical facts outside of the African continent and other skin colors having locced hair too and it did not fly”


(39:23-41:08) “It’s really fucking problematic to say that cultural products of various kinds belong to a certain race. That’s exactly what the Nazis did, that’s what the proto-Nazis before the actual Nazis did. This was the main argument in Europe in the late 19th century there was like scholars who claimed that it was natural for the Aryan white northern race to wear their jewelry around their neck whereas the darker, less Aryan southern European races, cause that distinction for some reason, they would wear that in their hair and in their ears and that was natural to their races to do that. What bullshit is that? Now we then have that with dreadlocks its not the far-right that’s advancing that one, it’s the far left and that really tells you how we have cultural historical amnesia apparently, we don’t remember what happened you know 80-90 years ago, we’ve completely forgotten just how fucked up the situation with anthropology, if you could call it that, was at the time. And then some will say well it’s for a good cause and no these things are never for a good cause cause the result is never going to be good. That’s the problem here, you’re never going to get to the point where that is a positive result.”


(41:18-42:50) “Flip the script and this is where we’re looking at the far right and their fear of, ya know, we have the myth of white genocide, the fear that white people will disappear and all that stuff. Well, ya know, if the left is advancing race essentialist arguments – yeah, it eggs it on, we’re getting to a point where some their fears may be justified. You could see situations where, um, and I’m by no means an apologist for the white genocide myth or anything like that so don’t take what I’m saying as anything that supports that idea cause I don’t even care. If white skin doesn’t exist in a couple hundred years fine I don’t care, I have no attachment to that. But there are situations nowadays where you can see kids teasing each other and talking to each other and, ya know, using somebody being white as being lame. That’s a change in discourse and, again, that’s incredibly dangerous.”


(46:30-47:35) "To speak to the subject of gender, in all of this I very much agree with you, and I think that's it's incredibly problematic that it, um, it has gone from being, you know, a situation where we are open to individuals who, umm, change gender, and identify with different genders, to well now there's no room for someone, who wants to be, like, masculine about things or wants to be masculine in a certain way. What we identify as masculinity is masculinity in a certain way."


(50:12-51:20) “Let’s just pro-LGBTQIA+ and you say the wrong thing and you get piled on by all these angry types. Isn’t masculinity, in this context, always associated with a question. So what are we doing here? Look, that’s what we usually, a cultural tendency to associate masculinity with aggression. Look, there's a lot of problems with masculinity in America, um, you can see that all the time, actually those problems though come from insecurity about masculinity, not 'toxic' masculinity or masculinity in and of itself, but from people who, uh, in my, uh, personal colloquial, men who lack dicks. *Laughter* Like men who, uh, who don't have the masculine presence to be proper masculine.”


(53:19-54:08) ”What we have is a tendency to cultivate stereotypes of masculinity and femininity in this cultural matrix that hasn’t come up with anything new since the 1950s. That’s the real problem, we haven’t been creative and inventive enough, progressive enough to try to think outside of the box. Again the, uh, these movements that are focused on transgenders and reconceptualizing gender as such and all that stuff, they aren’t being particularly creative about anything either.”


(1:04:01-1:05:46) “There is a lot of humor in these stories in general that’s usually lost on people and that’s because they were written down eight hundred years ago and they’re from a different culture and all these things but its also because people don’t know how to read mythology and approach the world with humor. And, um, recently Dave Chappelle was cancelled and its been happening over and over because he keeps posting – yeah exactly. The main thing that he was cancelled for in his last show on Netflix was this story that he has he has about a transsexual person that he knew a comedian who ended up killing themselves and he uses that story and the story of his relationship to exactly bring that point through. The infusion of humor into this is so incredibly important and what has really happened, if we can diagnose a main trend with the people who are sitting out there policing all of us, and are probably gonna cancel you and me if they ever see this.”


(1:05:59-1:06:07) “These people are the contemporary iteration of the humorless, uptight church mobs from the eighties.”


(1:07:09-1:08:37) “One of the things they tend to lift up as a very profound, cultures of knowledge and all that stuff, indigenous cultures. You know what indigenous cultures also do? They laugh at each other. That’s part of becoming a man, you’re being taunted and teased in different ways. A lot of initiation rites have some aspect of physical abuse because you need to toughen up, your body needs to understand that life entails pain, that’s part of the process of going from child to adult and that’s for men and women. Another component that’s also there is the taunting because your mind needs to understand that becoming an adult means sometimes you’re ridiculous and you’re gonna be laughed at that’s also part of toughening up. And this is something those hypermasculinist types out there are kinda right sometimes when they say people need to toughen up in this society.”


(1:08:54-1:09:16) “It’s really important, you know, somebody who has actually experienced that growing up because I am partly formed by an indigenous culture in Greenland, the Inuit culture, I have experienced being laughed at, being ridiculed, those kind of things.”


(1:29:34-1:30:10) Outlaw Priestess, “There’s this idea that Norse Paganism is like sort of studying the runes and having a concept of who the Gods are and like that’s it, you’re in!” Nordvig, “And Loki is, like, transgender god or something!” Outlaw Priestess, “Right, like the patron god of queer people” Nordvig, “Alright, I guess, whatever floats your boat! If those are the traditions that you are connected to then go read the fucking Eddas, go read Snorri Sturluson’s Edda, go read the Poetic Edda!”

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