This is fine ….

 

In psychology the idea of creeping normality (aka landscape amnesia) is used to the idea that societies choose to fail or succeed. Jared Diamond in his 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed coined the term. The idea is a failing society might choose to go out with a whimper not a bang. That societies can slowly fall apart and fail.

 

Well I am seeing this inside many older Pagan organizations, where they refuse to address the problems, and just fade away, till nothing substantial is left. In particular for me, my previous pagan church Ár nDraíocht Féin is slowly dying. Members are not renewing in increasing numbers, long term dedicated members, such as clergy and initiates are refusing to acknowledge their qualifications, and leaving, or at leat retreating from service, and finally, Groves are disbanding, or defecting .
This last part is very problematic, as the Groves held a lot of membership. For a Grove to disband or defect, it means you have a group of members, who have decided they can’t continue. Sure one or two may remain, but it does mean that most members have called it quits in the unit. We are seeing larger and larger Groves make that call. Some have chosen to just stop being, others are making arrangements to make sure that their property and funds remain with them, rather than return to the mother organization.

 

Yet the Mother grove is sitting in a burning room saying “this  is fine. ADF will justify this, as people who are not dedicated to the “excellence”, not noticing that the excellence has long since decided enough is enough. As I’ve said here before, ADF is dying. But so are other large groups. We’ve not evolved as a group of spiritual practioners.

 

 

A little knowledge is dangerous …

Its funny looking into a sub-culture from the outside. You can see things that look “normal” to them, that are bizarre to everyone else. Yes I am going to be judging them. I’m not a Christian, I’m under no spiritual compunction not to judge 😛

 

The sub culture in this case is the white power movement. They latch onto some odd ideas to justify their core idea of “white people are the pinnacle of human evolution and social evolution”.

 

One of the most ridiculous examples they use is lactose persistence. The ability to drink milk, as an adult, and not have digestive issues.

 

But lets take a step back. Somewhere in the last decade or so, white power types have co-opted aspects of the straight edge lifestyle.

 

The what?

 

Straight edge grew out of the punk subculture and its members refrain from using alcohol, tabacco, and other drugs. Some taking it even further to not partake in promiscuous sex, caffeine, or even prescription drugs, though this last part is uncommon. Many members are however vegan.
Well the white power movement was for a time bedevilled by alcohol and elicit drug abuse. Many of the white power gangs made money through selling drugs (like methamphetamine) and of course partook in their product. But since the rise of the Alt-right, probably before that even, its been encourage to abstain from alcohol (at least in public), illicit drugs, most certainly promiscuous sex (more on that soon). They’ve adopted drinking milk in public displays of homoerotica…uh I mean supremacy. Yeah “supremacy”…. Well take a look for yourselves.

 

White power ninnies

Yes that’s  right, these homophobic white men, strip shirtless, and chug milk, jump around, and slam into each other. Embacing their manly, milk digesting, superior selves.

 

But what made this subculture decide that the ability to drink milk is a sign of being superior? One of their members must have had some level of education, and read that you could trace the migration of animal herding peoples that might be the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) culture. They stopped reading pretty much around there as far as I can tell.

 

A Quick lesson

 

Lactase persistence (the ability to digest milk using the lactase enzyme into adulthood is not the norm for most mammals, including humans. However sometime between two thousand and twenty thousand (2 000 to 20 000) years ago there was a mutation in the MCM6 gene that allowed digestion (using the lactasae enzyme) of milk to hang around (that’s the persistence part). The cultural advantage of this was, you did not have to kill the milk (lacatase) bearing animals you had domesticated, you could drink milk, make cheese and butter, and have a mobile food source.

 

Pretty cool right? Wow, those PIE folks were superior as hell right?

 

Well you white power nit wit, I have bad news for you. There are at least six different mutations (all good old single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the MCM6 gene), further its not unique in any way to Europeans. Its seen in Central Asia and Africa (which contains 5 of the 6 mutation variants). Africans really have to wind the white power types up. But sorry boys, its there, and they appear to have evolved all by themselves.

 

I don’t expect these goose-stepping fools to listen, or read, let alone understand this. They see milk as a symbol of white (its literally that colour) purity. The ability to drink it as a sign of being more evolved, and well its non-intoxicating right? Oh wait….. Add to this, the idea that people who avoid milk (especially if they are “white”) are liberal idiots, they even have a name for them “Soy Boys”. What we have here is a political movement co-opting science, for its own needs.

 

Sadly for these individuals they conveniently ignore some hard facts.

 

While the idea of “race” as we know it is pretty much social, not scientific, you can group people into broad clumps. The interesting thing is that if you go back several thousand years, you do not see the “races” that racists think of. In Europe there are three major groups that met, and blended:

 

  • The Hunter Gatherers (HG) of the Paelo and Mesolithic.
  • The First Farmers of the Mesolithic, probably from Anatolia.
  • The Steppe Pastoralis probably out of the Eurasian Steppe. Oh these are the people most likely to be the PIE folk I’ve mentioned.

 

hunter-map.f1d122250ff8

Figure 1: Hunter-Gatherer migration

 

The White power types always seem to want to be Hunter-Gatherers, thinking they are more manly, and primal. So lets talk about the HG peoples. Figure 1 shows how we believe they migrated int o Europe. You will notice the ice caps are on that map. These tough people were around near the end of the last Ice Age, and survived. They had blue eyes that account for 75% of the variation in blue eyes vs non-blue yes in modern Europeans. They had dark hair. What the racists will not like hearing is the next part, they had dark skin. Yes indeed, these were not white people. Bugger. This fact, when mentioned, causes racists to rant about Liberal academics, and that these folks could not have been white. What they don’t get, is anyone can test this, if they have the knowledge of how to an analyse the freely available ancient genome data.

farmer-map.2cc9a4a6dfcf

Figure 2: Migration of the First Famers.

 

The First farmers probably came out of Anatolia (or the farming skills did). Figure 2 shows the general migratory path they may have taken. Please note that these folks still had some ice to deal with, but Europe was thawing. No unmixed groups of these people survive today, though modern-Sardinians have the highest percentages of that group in their makeup. These people mixed with the HG people to some extent, ultimately leading to the extinction of that way of life, but its unclear if this was because the HG folk took farming up, or the unmixed groups died out. What is clear is that there were probably only a few thousand HG folk in Europe, due to the way of life being intensive. There were many thousands of these first farmers.

 

yamnaya-map.873c2b500a8e

Figure 3: Migrations of the Steppe Pastoralists.

 

The Steppe Pastoralist lifestyle came out of Eurasian steppe, and brought with it the beginnings of the Europe we know today. The Celts, Germans, Slavs, Italians, Greeks, etc can all traced to these pioneers. Its believed that somewhere on the Russian Steppes, the farmers mixed with the Hunter  gatherers of eastern Europe, to give the society call the Yamnaya culture, then around 5000 years ago, they entered Europe. Ultimately they replaced 90% of the farmers on Britain and 30% of those on the Iberian peninsula.

 

So the white power types all want to return to a hunter gather lifestyle (or be Vikings, not that they know what that means). So they need to darken their skin, stop drinking milk, oh and reduce their numbers a lot.

 

As for wanting to be Vikings. The job of Viking, was that just a job. On top of that, Vikings  tended to dress in a flashy manner, perfumed their hair, and beards, and gave control of their funds to their wives or mothers. They lived on an allowance. Oh and if their wife wanted a divorce? She just had to say it, and she got it. That’s not what the misogynistic Alt-right things now is it?

 

Ok last topic to tackle:

 

As I mentioned near the top. Part of some of the straight edge culture could include the lack of promiscuity. The white nationalist movement has grabbed this with both hands. They’re all about feminism killing the white race, and how a woman should be subservient to the male. But there is also the sub subculture, of the involuntary celibate (inCel). Not surprisingly a growing number of far right men, can’t get a relationship. This could be ascribed to a total inability to connect with women as people, but no, they claim it’s a feminist plot, to destroy the white race. ]

 

There you have it, the superior white male, who drinks milk, and wants to be a hunter gatherer and a Viking warrior, with subservient women, missing the point, milk digestion is not unique to the European, Vikings wore perfume and listened to their wife on matters of money, and the HG they idolize had dark skins. Chew on that boys.

 

That memory is not in your genes

An other less racist result from last weeks shenanigans online, was people bringing up the idea that “genetic memory” is a thing.

 

That is used by racists, but the general public have also mistake what this really is.

 

When people talk about studies in “genetic memory” they really are talking about epigenetics. This is “the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence”. Most of the studies have been performed on a very simple organisms (nematodes mostly), but has indeed been observed in humans. Though the “memory” is not quite what people want it to be. One of the most famous studies is one involving the descendants of the survivors of the Dutch Famine of 1944 to 1945. (1)

 

All well and good. But what did the study find? Well that the descendants tended to have an increased level of glucose intolerance into adulthood. There is only one problem here. That is a trend in modern populations anyway.

 

Similarly, descendants of Holocaust survivors have altered stress hormone level. (2)
While I am not going to deny there is a correlation of some sort here. I will stand up to anyone who calls this evidence of genetic memory. To begin with it does not involve changing the DNA directly, and then we move onto the fact, that glucose intolerance is not a memory in the brain. Using these as an example is a stress. It has to be noted the two main examples waved around, are most likely caused by catastrophically horrible events from a few generations ago. IF we were to say our religious preference is from 1500 years ago,  that’s a large number of generations (on the average of 25 years per generation that is 60 generations ago). What changed someone’s epigenetics enough, to make a modern recreation of spiritual practices of a dead culture so strong that their “blood calls out to it?”.

 

SO, no, genetic memory is not a thing for culture. No there is no scientific evidence of it. Stop playing in science. Stick to spirituality, and be happy.

References

  1. Veenendaal, M. V., et al. Transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to the 1944-45 Dutch famine. BJOG. Apr 2003, Vol. 120, 5, pp. 548 -553.
  2. Rodriguez, Tori. Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones. Scientific American. [Online] scientificamerican.com/article/descendants-of-holocaust-survivors-have-altered-stress-hormones/.

 

 

Worlds End

First I’ve had a good week of Music. I saw Queen plus Adam Lambert live

And I also got to hear the first single from Illumishade

Everything happens in cycles it seems, and well one particular topic seems to happen at least once every quarter.

 

Late last week, I got to play another round of whack-a-racist. There were two sources of this:

 

  • The Conovirus

And

  • The ever-present idea that your ancestral heritage, as proscribed by DNA tests, dictates your spiritual path in some way.

So lets talk about these in turn.

 

To me the most concerning one was the Coronavirus (more correctly A Novel Coronavirus aka nCoV) bigotry. So let’s start there.

 

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large common family of viruses. The can cause things from the Common cold, to the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and yes the current paranoia over nCoV.

 

Take a second to digest that. The common cold is one of the conditions that can be caused. Now to be fair the “common cold” is caused by over 200 different viruses, and that’s why we don’t have a vaccine for it. I would also point out to populations who had never been exposed to the “common cold”, such as the American First Nations, the common cold was devastating, and killed innumerable numbers.

 

Still not convinced. Then go google the “Spanish Flu” epidemic that began in 1918 (and is one reason that WW1 actually ended) and dragged on to December 1920. It had a mortality rate of about 20%. Let that sink in. 1 in 5 who caught it, died. ONE in FIVE. It is estimated to have infected 500 million people out of the estimated 1.8 billion alive at that time. The Death toll low estimate is 50 million, and probably was 100 million, or 3 to 6% of the planets humans died. This is all from a influenza that suddenly became much worse than the seasonal flu. For the record it is called the Spanish flu, not because it started there, its been traced to a battlefield hospital in France, the Spanish as a neutral nation in the world war, just reported honestly, and did not censor things. Indeed, some postulate that the Spanish flu ended the first world war faster than with out its presence.

 

Let’s look at nCoV, which is in its early days. There is the problem that many nations are not reporting in a timely manner on how many people have it, let alone how many are dead. But using the Johns Hopkins website  as of me typing this, there have been roughly 37 500 people with it, 2 900 got better, and 814 dead. Quick and dirty mathematics shows the mortality at the moment is about 2%.

 

83593455_1316686381872430_5124469615665086464_n

Figure 1

 

Figure 1 shows a breakdown of major viruses over the last 50 or so years, from Marberg to nCoV. Its early days but nCoV has actually the lowest morality rate of these so-called global pandemics. But let’s call it a Chinese virus, and shut every thing down ok? Now when I lived in the USA I got the H1N1 influenza of 2009, aka Swine Flu. I was very lucky to not get a severe case, but it did cost me 2 weeks off of work (they quarantined me from returning). In the US it had a mortality of 17.4%. DO we call this an American Virus? Because it started in either Mexico or the USA? Nope. We don’t. Was the USA quarantined from the rest of the world? Nope, business as usual.

 

idiots everywhere

Figure 2

 

Add to this people claiming it is an escaped and engineered virus from a biolab in Wuhan, its nothing but racism. (Figure 2) Indeed some people think that the virus has HIV as part of it’s genome.  All because the Chinese are trying HV anti viral drugs to try and stop the progress in a host. People assume it’s a bioweapon. If it is it has done two things (a) Its failed, as its mortality is terrible (thankfully) and (b) who ever did it is really good at making it look natural. Sadly (a) and (b) are mutually excusive of one another.

 

Now for the other source of racism of my weekend.

 

DNA tests and ancestry. I’ve blogged on this so much, I am not going to even link the damned blogs. If in doubt go read them, if you don’t care? Why are you reading my blog then?

 

But in summary.

 

DNA tests:

 

  • DNA tests only give broad brush strokes of your ancestry. There is no marker for being (say) Celtic or Germanic. At best they tell you you are descended (say) from someone from the British Isles, or Western Europe. These tests are more likely to throw in a curve ball for you, like you have African heritage, or NO British heritage.
  • These tests are measuring a portion of your DNA, where they expect to find a three “letter” code, and it has changed potentially changed by a single letter. These are known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These are not unique to any ethnic group, but some have been shown to have a higher proportion of one over another.
  • The assigning of say “British Isles” heritage may vary depending on the company testing. Don’t get too attached to the results, or up in arms over them. As I’ve blogged I am either 1% Polynesian (from an old test I did at University in 2010), 1% African (according to Ancestry.com) or 1% Greek (according to another site, using the Ancestry data, but a different data base to compare it too).

 

Take all that and remember this.

 

Culture does not get transmitted by your DNA. You must learn it from someone. You are not born speaking the language, knowing the songs, the rituals, the sports. You learn that. So you could be a Pakistani born in Glasgow, who wears plaid and plays the bagpipes, and be more Scottish than someone in the USA who has done all the research into their ancestral clan (of course forgetting they are more than one Clan in heritage).

 

If you feel drawn to a spiritual path, because of your actual or perceived ancestry, more power to you. But even if your DNA test agrees with your personal gnoses, it still does not mean you are any more  that culture than anyone else is. Chances are you are drawn to a pre-Christian Indo-European path. That means you are at least 1000 years if not longer removed from that culture. Your more recent ancestors were all most likely Christian. So you are choosing to follow a path, and you are justifying it, based on something that is not actually so.

 

IF you can’t cope with this idea. Its not my fault. But be honest, you have all chosen this path on some level. I know I did.

 

A little retelling of my pagan history.

 

In High school (a Scottish Presbyterian private school I got a scholarship too, my mother worked to keep me in, and my absent father was made to pay to send me too) I identified initially as an atheist. But by what Americans would call my freshman year (the school was 7 years not 4, combining middle and High School) I had decided to walk the path that is today called heathenry. By the time I went to my first year of University that changed to “Celtic” Paganism. That began as “Druidry” but has over the decades become Celtic Reconstructionism. I did not go there, because I was drawn by ancestors, no I liked the myths, and Legends. Once there, the Gods (one in particular) drew me in deeper, but I can’t blame my DNA.

 

So moral of the story? Don’t be a racist prick. I’ll go after you 🙂