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Dealing with Race, Ethnicity, and Whiteness in constructing the “Ethnic Folkway” of Germanic Heathenry.
Unformatted Document Text:  Dealing with issues of Race, Ethnicity, and Whiteness in constructing an “Ethnic Folkway” out of Germanic Heathenry. Jennifer Snook As a junior in college, I enrolled in a sociology class on “American Paganism”. While researching “Heathenry” a form of Germanic paganism, I thought it best to find a living Heathen whose experience might lend insight into my project, and into my own faith. After hours of searching, I came upon a chat channel for Odinism, a branch of Germanic Heathenry. I entered, politely introduced myself to the two members online, and was met with silence. Finally, one of them asked me “Where are you from?” I answered “I grew up in Germany.” Then the person asked “What nationality are you?” I grew suspicious and asked for clarification. After some back and forth, I realized with a slow, painful sense of dread that what I was being asked was whether or not I was White. I expressed my confusion and discomfort with the question, and was met with complete hostility. I was called a “nigger lover” and a “disgrace” to my “Motherland.” I was then booted from the chat channel without further ado, to sit in my chair, trembling, frustrated, and angry, tears welling up in my eyes. This was my first experience with Heathenry and its ties to race and ethnicity. It was my first awakening that not all forms of Heathenry are the same, and that methods and reasons for inclusivity and exclusivity differ greatly across denominations, and from person to person. Throughout the years, I would experience this kind of intolerance again and again, sharing stories with other Heathens about their own similar encounters. I would listen to many Heathens discussing (and lamenting) Heathenry as an “ethnic” folkway in ways that made me uncomfortable and confused: Was Heathenry an ethnic 1

Authors: Snook, Jennifer.
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Dealing with issues of Race, Ethnicity, and Whiteness in constructing an “Ethnic Folkway” 
out of Germanic Heathenry.
Jennifer Snook
As a junior in college, I enrolled in a sociology class on “American Paganism”. While 
researching “Heathenry” a form of Germanic paganism, I thought it best to find a living Heathen 
whose experience might lend insight into my project, and into my own faith. After hours of 
searching, I came upon a chat channel for Odinism, a branch of Germanic Heathenry. I entered, 
politely introduced myself to the two members online, and was met with silence. Finally, one of 
them asked me “Where are you from?” I answered “I grew up in Germany.” Then the person 
asked “What nationality are you?” I grew suspicious and asked for clarification. After some back 
and forth, I realized with a slow, painful sense of dread that what I was being asked was whether 
or not I was White. I expressed my confusion and discomfort with the question, and was met 
with complete hostility. I was called a “nigger lover” and a “disgrace” to my “Motherland.” I 
was then booted from the chat channel without further ado, to sit in my chair, trembling, 
frustrated, and angry, tears welling up in my eyes. This was my first experience with Heathenry 
and its ties to race and ethnicity. It was my first awakening that not all forms of Heathenry are 
the same, and that methods and reasons for inclusivity and exclusivity differ greatly across 
denominations, and from person to person.  Throughout the years, I would experience this kind 
of intolerance again and again, sharing stories with other Heathens about their own similar 
encounters. I would listen to many Heathens discussing (and lamenting) Heathenry as an 
“ethnic” folkway in ways that made me uncomfortable and confused: Was Heathenry an ethnic 
1


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