I have heard on many occasions over the decades about how this or that person “knows the lore”. This statement is of course a lot like saying I “have money”. Well, okay, but as compared to what? It’s a relative quantity. I personally can say that I “have money”, but in comparison to many others — and money management aside — the amount that I have isn’t all that impressive. I would never say that “I have money” in any kind of boastful manner, or imagine that I could speak to it’s accumulation better than someone who makes, for example, twice as much as I do. I am certainly not the man you should be talking to if you want to make money.
Be that as it may, the same holds true for the lore. Everyone knows some lore, but if one has never gotten beyond things like the myths and sagas, maybe Germania, and maybe even have a very limited conception of what “the lore” is, well, then much like me and money, no one should ever go to them in search of knowledge of the customs and beliefs of their ancestors.
Now, it seems a no-brainer to me that knowledge of who our preChristian ancestors were and what they believed and practiced is more pertinent in reclaiming one’s indigenous heritage then how much money one makes. There are a lot of people in the world who are very strong, peerless even, in various areas, but they are not Germanic Heathen by that virtue alone. No. Like anything else, the successful achievement of a profound level of lore knowledge requires similar qualities and sacrifices as any other pursuit where the pursuit is excellence in the endeavor. Like anything, one gets out what one puts in. And those who put a lot in to the pursuit of the lore, get a lot more out of it than those who don’t.
We all know this is true in regards to virtually anything else. It’s foolish to imagine that it is any different with lore. All else being equal, those who put the most effort into learning and understanding the old ways are simply going to have a better understanding of the ancestral ways. And for the same reason that someone who puts the most effort into making money is going to make more money or a person who puts the most effort into conditioning themselves are going to be better conditioned, as opposed to those who half ass it and make excuses and are unable to see beyond the tip of their nose.
Certainly, there is a lot more to being a Heathen than lore knowledge, as the lore itself indicates in very clear terms. Indeed, in terms of the spread of lore knowledge for example, lacking other qualities such as diplomacy/presentation can be HUGE detriment to anyone wanting to even look in the direction of the lore. But lacking the identity found within the lore, one might be a lot of things — things that might even be a clear boon to Heathenry “if only” — but what one is not should be fairly evident.
Bill Gates for example is not a Germanic Heathen. And if he declared himself one tomorrow, his thoughts and opinions on indigenous Germanic identity are inevitably going to be less than stellar … though who knows, if you could get him “on track” he could indeed prove to be the most stellar heathen ever in terms of both knowledge and accomplishment, and as a result of what he was and the things he learned before he ever heard of Heathenry or considered adopting it’s identity.
But here we would certainly be prudent in asking ourselves if EVERYONE who would be Heathen needs the same degree of lore mastery as those who stand at the pinnacle of the pursuit? And for the record, speaking as someone who has been a Germanic Heathen for over 3 decades, and devoted no small amount of time to lore studies, the “pinnacle” is not a place I’d put myself at. In fact, there is a stage of lore knowledge, laying just beyond a gulf of general ignorance, that one begins to see various “areas of specialization”; in the face of which no man can hope to be an island unto himself. A community is necessary. No. While it would certainly be great if everyone was a loremaster, such is simply unrealistic, past or present, and really the prerequisite for being Heathen is simply participation. Yes. Basically, at a bare minimum, one simply just has to “show up” … with the caveat that those who just “show up” have the self-awareness and respect to button the mouth on lore topics and open the ears; or perhaps better said, to speak from whatever position of strength and accomplishment they might actually have as opposed to from positions of ignorance or half-knowledge.
Believe you me, I know very well what a bunch of ass-hats some very lore-wise people can be. They are a detriment to their own cause, in a manner that the blithely ignorant could never be. And I tell ya, there is nothing more disheartening than to come across a person or group of people who have SO much to offer in terms of knowledge and insight into the old ways, but who seem equally determined to alienate the very audience they damn well know would benefit the most from that knowledge.
The only thing more disheartening than to encounter this, is the realization that you yourself might be lumped in with them by said audience.
What it really comes down to is that you can’t fix stupid. You can swear at it, you can hit it, you can shake your fists and stomp your feet, but all you’re doing is lowering yourself and demonstrating a certain lack of intelligence yourself … to the masses of potentially ignorant, but not at all stupid.
You can of course fix ignorance. And indeed, it’s not always pretty … the story of the tiger raised among sheep, afterall. Sometimes you have to break a few eggs. Sometimes you have to rub someone’s nose in it. You can’t always be nice, no doubt about it. But where that becomes your default M.O. and the basis of what amounts to your P.R. campaign … well, pathetic. Shamefully so.
But you know, like I said, you can’t fix stupid.
And not to be unfair, I know very well what a bunch of ass-hats many people who are not at all as lore-wise as they imagine can be. As ever, extreme begets extreme; which is to say that lore-wise ass-hats were predictable to anyone with any historical perspective of modern heathenry at all. It is a reaction. But all finger pointing and politicking aside, what it really comes down to is this … I personally am not going to chop my “horse’s” legs off, or otherwise neglect or devalue them, because some ass-hat, who imagines that only a horse’s legs have any value, pissed me off.
I have no use for a “legless horse”. Only the whole “horse” will do. I would trust that others would be equally sensible as they navigate the politics of modern Germanic Heathenry.