To be “folkish” means to be “of a folk”…a tribe, ethnic or racial group, or a nation (in the original sense of the word, as in “the Sioux nation”). To say that we are “folkish Asatru” means nothing more or less than to say that we see Asatru as a native religion – a religion of a particular people; specifically, Europeans.
The world is full of native religions, on every continent – to include North America. These hundreds – perhaps thousands – of tribes, bands and nations around the planet are each “the religion of a particular people.” Few if any of them allow participation in their religious rites by outsiders beyond a certain level. Take for example the Native Americans. Yes, anyone can come and watch dances at a powwow. But there comes a point where outsiders are excluded. This point differs from tribe to tribe and from culture to culture, but in the real world, indigenous people share their deepest rites rarely – or not at all. This is what being “folkish” is all about.
There is a common attitude among indigenous people that their religion is proprietary: that it in some sense “belongs” to the group in question. Some of the Sioux, in particular, have been especially vocal about the appropriation of their religious ceremonies and symbols by non-Indians. This attitude of ownership has been noted and approved by left-wing writers, and while I very much agree with them, I wish that the innate connection between the European people and their ancient faiths was likewise recognized…especially by European-descended people themselves!
Those who are critical of folkish Asatru seldom extend their criticism to Asians, Africans, South Americans, and the Native Americans of North America. Apparently, folkish religion is bad only if Europeans practice it.
The position of the Asatru Folk Assembly is that all native religions spring from the soul of a particular people. It is the distilled spiritual experience of that people, passed on to them by their ancestors. We respect that special relationship and stand in solidarity with all peoples, anywhere in the world, who seek to protect their spiritual and cultural heritage from appropriation, exploitation, or dilution.
Hail the Gods!
Hail the AFA!
Taken from Steve McAllen of Asatru Folk Assembly