White supremacists are coopting Norse heathen symbols. Should the heathens ignore them? Protest them? Create a new theology?
As white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, the high priest of a pagan religion looked on with horror from Reykjavik, Iceland. It wasn’t just their racist message that bothered him. It was that their banners bore the symbols of his religion: Ásatrú, also known as heathenry.
“I think it’s obscene,” the high priest, Hilmar Hilmarsson, said of the way white supremacists are coopting Norse symbols like Thor’s hammer because they believe the Vikings were a pure white race. This appropriation has been underway for a few years—not only in the United States, but also in Sweden, Germany, Canada, and elsewhere—and it’s rattling many of those who practice the Ásatrú faith in its birthplace. “We are absolutely horrified,” Hilmarsson told me.
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