Maybe it won't mean as much because for an alleged "Big Name Pagan / BNP", my name is pretty small outside a relatively tiny circle of Hellenists and other traditional polytheists, and it's not like I've moved my spiritual blogging to mostly over here... hell, I can barely keep to the minimum of a single post here a month, but I've researched some recent drama, weighed the words and intent (or at least likely intent) of all sides, and I've decided to step down from PaganSquare.
Racism is the gigantic elephant in the room for traditional polytheism -- too many use their religious practises as an excuse for racism and vice-versa. While, true, Heathenry has the biggest reputation for racism, here's the thing: There is not a single recon religion without its racist baggage in some form. I've met Neonazi Celtic Recons passing out literature at the Celtic Festival in Saline, Michigan, back when I was in high school. In more recent years, I've seen Hellenists in North America describe Hellenismos as "kinda like Asatru, but for the Greek pantheon and, best of all -- no Nazis! ^_^" and then ten minutes later encounter Hellenic polytheists from all over the globe say some of the most appallingly racist filth. Hell, at least the LaVeyans and Boyd Rice fanboys I used to hang with during my misspent youth had the decency to try and hide it.
There is no place in a regular wheel of the year where it makes sense to talk about going back, returning, backtracking or heading the wrong way. The cycle of the year does of course bring us round the same seasons, reliably, but there is always a sense of moving forward. Turning, not returning. Time as we experience it only flows one way. However, there are many ways in which we can go back.
Last week, I promised my readers that if you sent me questions about devotional work or polytheism I would answer them to the best of my ability. Well, you haven't disappointed and I have at least a dozen or so questions (maybe more---I haven't actually counted) sitting in my inbox. They're' all good questions and thought-provoking so over the next few weeks I am going to take them one by one in the order in which they were received and answer them here (or maybe on my other blog depending on my mood).
There is a desperation in how I fight the Filter now. I am aware of that. There didn't used to be. There was grit, determination, focus, but not vicious desperation. Over the past few months it changed, something in me changed and quite recently someone asked me what that was. It's simple really. My ancestors threw me into the direct experience of the sundering of our traditions. I stood in the flow of it and shared their experience and emotions. Then at the same time that was happening, the blogosphere erupted into a volcanic debate between polytheists and non-theistic pagans. why was this so significant to me personally? Why did it impact the place from which I fight the Filter? Because it showed me how bad off we truly are. It showed me the lay of the land and how deeply the damage went. It showed me how far we were from any coherent foundational roots. Until this past May and June, I had truly thought that more people were in ongoing devotional relationship with their Gods and dead, that more people were doing the work. My eyes have been opened. I see well now why the Havamal warns that no man is happy who is over-wise.
I’m going to step away from my usual blogging theme this week to share a topic that came to me while driving the two hours it took me to get to my camping destination. (Hubby and I are on staff for a Pagan retreat here in Colorado and this was our work weekend.) We had stopped for lunch at a place where the server recognized our t-shirts as Pagan in content. So she proceeded to ask questions which required long answers. Neither of us had the time. I needed to get back on the road and she needed to help her other customers. So in hopes that it will be of service to her (I so hope she emails me!), those just starting out and those that are trying to make sense of what the broader community is, here is my viewpoint. I am NOT trying to start up the “my way vs. your way” debate again…most of this is based on my own experiences and observances. Your mileage, as always, may vary.
Author's Note: This is a reprint of an article I originally published in the Anthology: Talking About the Elephant in 2008. Because the theme of the month is on cultural appropriation I thought I'd dig it out and reprint it here. I've added a commentary on the end to show where my thoughts on this topic are now (5 years after the original article was published).
While some of the articles of this anthology [Author's note: I'm referring to Talking About the Elephant] deal with cultural appropriation issues that Neopagans and Occultists may perpetuate, the goal of my article is to provide a look at a different form of cultural appropriation currently gaining popularity in both the academic and Neopagan/Occult cultures. This cultural appropriation comes in the form of academic articles and books focused on Neopaganism and the Occult. On the surface, it would seem that scholarship on these subjects is a good thing, certain to buoy the public relationship image that both Neopaganism and Occultism have with mainstream culture. However, as I will argue, there is a different, more subtle agenda occurring in these academic works, and in a manner that can be considered cultural appropriation. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to revere academic works without coming to them with an open, but critical, awareness of how those works really represent their beliefs. Nor is the question raised by Neopagans or Occultists, if the benefits of said academic works are really good for the community, or are only good for the academic who happens to be doing the research.