Some two years ago the first volume of the heathen journal saw the light of day. The introduction of volume one said: “What this means specifically is that we seek to encourage the development and assist in the promulgation of rational inquiry into Heathenry as expressed in the domains of Philosophy, Theology, Psychology, Sociology, Antropology, and other disciplines generally included under the umbrella of Religious Studies.” (p. ix). Yet: “[…] we are not solely interested in soliciting essays and dissertations of an academic nature. The Heathen community is not comprised entirely of scholars, and nor is Heathen thought uniformly scholastic in nature.” (p. xi) So, I (non-academic) submitted a text and wrote one on request. Both were declined just before volume II went to the printer. The reason? Writing style. This time the editorial preface states: “What we need from our readership is the same kind of scholarly analyses of Heathen doxa and praxes that have been presented in the journal so far.” (p. ix) So it seems that JOCHT has become an academic publication afterall. True, in such a publication, there is no place for me. I would write nothing like:
“Yet, without the intentional development of the seed-ideas that the faith of our ancestors presents us, we will remain locked into either a primitivist understanding of Heathenry as a static, historical relic, incapable of doxic development, or continue down the path of libertarian fragmentation where everyones believes what they want to believe and deal with the contradictory beliefs of others not by attempting to determine which theology is true, but by resorting to an epistomologically relativistic theological framework in which it is socially unacceptable for a theologian to publicly claim his position to be correct for fear that others might find his “dogmatism” unacceptable.”
I agree with editor Plaisance’s remark quoted from his “epistle to the heathen” added to his 80-page dissertation about “the emerging hierarchy”, but how big do the editors think the academic heathen community really it? Will such essays not scare away the average, but read, pagan who, either or not, manages to plough through the academic literature in his studies, with this way-too-learned-sounding way of writing? Should an academic not be able to write something that other people might understand as well, not only his/her fellow academics? If this is the path that this journal will take, I think it will overshoot it’s goal and limit it’s audience.
“At its core, our publication is a response to the critiques leveled at the current state of Heathen thought in the journal TYR: Myth-Culture-Tradition. […] In the second volume, Stephen McNallen wrote that we are beseiged by a “lack of philosophical depth.” He goes on to note that “it is an error to think that we can simply pick up where we left off a thousand years ago. The Christian interregnum must be addressed using the intellectual tools that have developed in the intervening time and this means examining our beliefs and expressing them intellectually compelling ways.“ Likewise, in volume three, Collin Cleary ventured that what Heathenry “seems to desperately needs is something like a theology that would address basic philosophical questions.” And it is thus that The Journal of Contemporary heathen Thought begins as a journal of profound discontent.“
Thus says the introduction of this new journal. Like the mentioned TYR journal this is a journal in the form of a book, a 270 page magazine so to say. As you can see, the Heathen Journal wants to give the contemporary heathen some backbone, “philosophical”, “theological”, it sounds a bit dogmatic, but I support the aim. Much like the Heidnisches Jahrbuch we are speaking about contemporary heathenism. No overview of archeological findings, no ‘what would the ancient Germans have done’, no analyses of Gods of Goddesses projected on an imaginary past, but musings of people of our own time and age trying to give an idea of what heathenry can be for us today. The aim for a more solid foundation gets a flying start with the editor Christopher A. Plaisance’s article Why I am a Heathen. Plaisance came to heathenry because of his intensive study of Nietzsche and that philosophical scholarly background is obvious in his article. It is no easy read and I am no philosopher myself, but it is something different to see somebody with such a background speak about familiar subjects. Next up is Stephen M. Borthwick with Hermann Awakened: Folkishness vs. Racism. The journal describes itself as “a folkish publication”, but that description has certain connotations in the eyes of some which are cleared away in this article. Cognitive Bias and Contemporary Heathenry is another scholarly piece saying that we see what we expect to see and have to take a distance to look at our faith. When the Gods Speak Back: A Heathen Perspective on Gardening of Loddfafner is the next article. The title speaks for itself. Hunter Yoder’s Magic Plants Used Symbolically in Germanic Heathen Hexology speaks about a nowadays form of heathen magic and Steven Robinson hopes to inspire heathen poets-to-be. In a nice nice article of Juleigh Howard-Hobson’s speaks about The Feminine in the Post-Modern Age: How Feminism Negates Folkways which takes a stand against feminism because it turns women into men and disregards the traditional role of man and woman. Another nice article comes from Dan Cæppe’s and is called Wandering the Nine Worlds: Heathenism’s Shamanic Origins. It (of course) speaks about the shamanic origins of the religion of old, a thought that comes back in other essays as well. I earlier spoke about ‘certain connotations’ of our faith in the eyes of some. Therefor it is refreshing to see a publication in which Evola is quoted without blinking an eye and an article of Alain de Benoist. What I like less is that De Benoist speaks about Intolerance and Religion in which is (what is also to be found in other articles) bashes against the “Abrahamistic religions” while he opens with saying how tolerant the old polytheistic religion was. A very long and very nice article come from Kris Stevenson, an “Odinist” who gives An Interpretation of Germanic Mythology. New ideas, no historical or comparative musings, but our mythology projected on our inner selves. I do not agree with Stevenson on all his points, and he heavily uses Titchenell, not a source that many will quote, but it is nice to read somebody else’s interpretation of “the lore”. Besides articles there is some poetry an interview with Sonne Hagal and book reviews such as of Oswald Sprengler’s The Decline Of The West, Confessions Of A Radical Traditionalist of John Mitchell, the Primordial Traditions Compendium and the little book of Peryt Shou. All in all a nice read, a nice initiative and a lot cheaper than the German counterpart ($20 against €35). 2010 CreateSpace, isbn 1452883718