Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 10, 2013

Hmm…

An interesting idea by Sannion.

Thoughts?

As for myself: I have one more post in me on these matters, that is somewhat dying to come out…and, I’m not entirely sure it would be useful or not to write it at present.

As much as I love to write here, I’m almost thinking that perhaps taking up Sannion’s suggestion sooner–as in, during the next week and for the remainder of June (and possibly into July, too)–might not be a bad idea. My festival calendar for the remainder of this month, and all of next month, is pretty full, and includes some of my most favorite festivals (but then again, almost every month does), so that would be sort of sad not to share that with everyone…and yet, it would also be all the more time and effort I could put into actually celebrating those festivals, too.

[No, I'm not looking for people to go "No, don't go! We want to read you!" But, given that money is going to get even tighter in the next few weeks, and I could probably be spending my time on better and more productive things, perhaps it's just a good idea in general.]


Responses

  1. I had thought of following Sannion, despite not having a wide readership. I have been mostly quiet for the past month or so myself, but that was due to other life stuff. Likewise, I will be out of the country for the entire month of July, so I could reasonably go “off air” because of that.

    I’m not going to be quiet. As much as I understand what he’s trying to do with his month of silence, to deprive the internet of several prominent polytheistic voices, I don’t agree with running away. It seems too much like capitulating to bullies to me, because they want this dissenting hard polytheist voice to be silent.

    I’m afraid they’ll feel validated and vindicated.

    We’re not going to change their minds, either by engaging in dialogue or simply going quietly. They’ve already made their perceptions of the “fundamentalist Pagans” clear. What else would be gained by having everyone be quiet? I really do not know.

    I think if it would behoove you to take some time off to realign and refocus on a lot of things, that should be done. I see you active in very many spaces, and it has to cut into some time. I can’t even bring myself to more than a minute peep on the Internet, so I don’t see how you can do it as frequently as you do while still getting work done! Many props to you.

    I know I am going to continue to focus on thoughts and ideas. I might not have anything really “concrete” for July, because of being busy, but I can’t not post for myself. My history of trying to blog is already spotty as it is.

    Good luck, with whatever you choose to do!

    • Thank you very much for your in-depth response!

      I agree: being a child of the loud queer 90s (to some extent or another), the “SILENCE = DEATH” meme is a very insistent one in my own thinking. It’s why I have a hard time understanding “Day of Silence” in April for awareness of queer youth violence and homophobia, etc.

      I’m not entirely swayed one way or the other on all of this, and I know for a fact that my own best weapon is often not silence, but my voice (or writings, or what-have-you, etc.). At the same time, because trying to be reasonable and so forth has been so patently useless in all of this, it really makes more words, or any words, seem quite pointless.

      I hate to be venting like this in response to you, but I just have one more point to make on all of this for the moment:

      The most important things I post on this blog are the poems and things that I write, and some of the theological discussions. On the whole, those get the least number of page views, and the smallest number of comments (i.e. often none at all in many cases), and yet they’re the most important to me and the ones I’d most eagerly like to discuss with people. Within a few hours of me posting my last lengthy response on all of these matters last Friday, I had over a hundred views on the thing, and have had more comments on it (and the previous long post) than many other of the more important recent posts combined. As much as people say that these things are a needless waste of time, they sure put a lot of demonstrable attention towards them–and while I realize that I’m not outside of that critique, the “dialogue” that people with opoosing viewpoints to polytheism have with polytheists on these matters is rarely, if ever, on <i.actual polytheism and our practices, it’s on controversies like this. And, that really makes all of us unhappy, I think…and yet, it goes on. What can you do?

      • I agree. I was bullied excessively from the end of my elementary school career through until the end of high school. I always took the higher road, where I ignored them the best I could. And this was just your typical ribbing/cliquey-bullshit that high school students do to each other, nothing as devastating as dealing with queer bashing or anything of the sort. As a white heteronormative male, I really got off easy compared to other people. I understand that.

        It still drove me to attempted suicide many times. I was a very sensitive kid.

        If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t stand for it. And I would make sure that they would pay for every filthy word that they made.

        I think we’re always going to have the situation where people do not comment on the creative, subjective pursuits of the posters. It is far easier to comment and critique an opinion piece instead of, say, interpreting the meaning of a poem. Myself, I’ll read through it, but as it’s a piece of art I generally do not know what to say that could be construed as constructive. There are those cases where dialogue can arise from such a work, but they are generally rare. You either will get “I like it” or “I hate it”, and nothing much else. Sadness.

        Even when I relaunched my blog, my most prominent piece yet was the comment I made (that I accidentally ping backed to Sannion’s work) about the idea of the Savage Gods. It was nothing theological or insightful, just commentary on the community. But it was my most viewed piece, if not even commented on.

        In this situation, I feel that talking about it isn’t going to help at all. I feel that Polytheists should be just going on with business as usual. Because we’re just going to be talking over each other/at each other. Neither side is going to listen to the other, this is a fundamental gulf in our theological praxis. And the other side has made it clear that they’re not willing to even entertain the idea that we can have our own ideas on the matter. They’ll let us entertain our fantasies, but we have to always be aware that it is secondary to their interpretation of Truth, it seems.

        The people who argue that Paganism isn’t “ideological” or “dogmatic” is full of bullshit.

        Shutting ourselves up isn’t going to help matters, like I said. I think it will cause the other side to vindicate themselves. They’ll feel like they scored a victory against those “fundamentalist Polytheists”, even if we don’t interpret it that way.

        And no, never feel bad about ranting at all. I don’t mind, personally.

  2. I think Sannion somewhat overstates things. Whenever challenged, the fundamentalist-baiters have consistently denied that simply being a polytheist, even a hard polytheist, in itself makes one a “fundamentalist”. In fact, so far as I am aware, no one has yet to name a single actual “Pagan fundamentalist”. Not one.

    I think there is still lots of room for discussion. The vast majority of Pagans today (as has always been the case) are polytheists. And while most Pagans might balk at the “hard polytheist” label, most Pagans do in practice treat the Gods as quite real.

    “Belief in the Gods” is, in fact, as close as one will ever come to a simple, one sentence “definition” of Paganism. But this simple fact is so obscured right at this point that I think it is perhaps not the time to leave the field. That said, more light and less heat would be a good idea, certainly. (Here I am very much in agreement with thelettuceman.)

    One thing that is definitely worth further exploration is the whole “henotheism” meme. It turns out that “henotheism” is mostly a myth, and not in the good sense. One can find, both among ancient polytheists and modern day Hindus, “henotheistic” sounding language, but if one looks at the actual beliefs and practices of the people who use such language, one finds that they are, in reality, polytheists. Anyone who goes back to read Max Mueller’s own writings on the subject will see that he emphatically insists that Hindu “henotheists” are, in fact, polytheists, and they are most definitely NOT monotheistic in any reasonable sense.

    The important thing in “henotheism” is that in practice there is usually never any hint of denying the reality or the existence of all the Gods. When this does occur, it can usually (and probably always) be found to be part of a conscious strategy of accommodation to external pressure from either Christianity or Islam (or both). Sometimes, unfortunately (as is the case for some forms of Vaishnavism) this strategy becomes internalized to such an extent that people start to actually “believe” in it. And, of course, Muslims and Christians aggressively encourage such a process of internalization.

    • IIRC, whoever writes for the Allergic Pagan pretty much pointed to Galina Krasskova as the embodiment of “Pagan/Polytheistic Fundamentalism”.

      • I honestly have never been able to take Halstead seriously enough to actually read his blog. Having just done so, reluctantly, I see that you are right (and that I have been right in avoiding it).

      • I honestly have never been able to take Halstead seriously enough to actually read his blog. Having just done so, reluctantly, I see that you are right (and that I have been right in avoiding it).

        Feel free to e-mail me, if you’d rather, but I’m just curious as to why it is, that you’ve never taken him “seriously enough”. To be completely honest, I don’t read every single post of any of the blogs i do read (it’s more an ADD-related inability to focus than anything remotely resembling a lack of interest), and I read his occasionally. Sometimes he’s decent enough, but other times I forget why I added The Allergic Pagan to my reader. I just don’t really know anything about him, aside from what I’ve read of his posts and the limited interactions I’ve had with him.

    • I was called a fundamentalist back in January for writing the article at Patheos in my column on “Bringing Back the Gods.” There were also implications and inuendoes toward me in various places following that…

      And, just like with Halstead’s recent post on Galina being a “dominionist,” where he said that she wants everyone to practice the homogenized Heathenry she does (when, in fact, the homogenization of polytheism is what many of non-polytheist viewpoints are arguing is their “RIGHT” as far as polytheism is concerned!), they also started to say that I must think that only some pantheons are okay, and others are wrong and evil. They don’t seem to understand that polytheism means “many gods,” which also includes “many pantheons.” It doesn’t necessarily imply “anything that I decide is ‘polytheism’ automatically is,” of course, but they would like that to be the case…crikey.

  3. Does anyone actually take this Halstead fellow seriously? I mean that as a serious question. It does seem that some people (or at least the editors of Witches & Pagans) are interested in promoting him as a notable Pagan writer, for some reason. But that looks, to me, to be attributable to the entertainment value that he brings. But wait, he is now trying to put at least some of the toothpaste back into the tube : http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/mea-culpa/. But his “apology” stinks of passive-aggression. He completely fails to simply take responsibility for what he said.

    • He is pretty popular in the humanist pagan sphere; and, I think he’s also getting a Patheos.com blog in the near future, too (and he’s been featured on there occasionally as well, if I’m not mistaken).

      As I said in a comment a short while ago on Anomalous Thracian’s blog, I think polytheists have been cast as “the Shadow” (in the Jungian sense) for the various non-polytheists; and since those psychological roles are the gods of their reality, they’ve had us to rail against for the past few days. I prefer not to mistake other humans for my gods, personally…which is one of the reasons why I’m a polytheist. But anyway…

      • Yet another reason to disparage and disown so-called “humanist paganism”. In my opinion, anyway.

    • Yes I do. I understand the complaints o lf many polytheists, but – without calling Galina a domionist – I thought that her article was rather distateful. I do not the humanists were the only bullies here and members of both sides (though I rather not think in sides, I prefer to look at the individual) have contributed to bring the discussion to this new low point. At least John had recognized his own role this and had apologized for It.

      • And while he did apologize, which I think helped, he then went right back to saying some rather unflattering things about polytheists in the comments on his blog.

      • Did he? I only see him repeat that he felt attacked by Galina’s warlike language, which I can perfectly understand. But I truly do not want to pick sides here. I am just glad that writers on both sides (though I say sides with hesitancy, I prefer to look at individuals) show their intent to focus on other things.

  4. At first, when I noticed Sannion’s proposal for a month of silence, I was all about it — but I admit, one of the reasons I was, at first, has to do with my own plans to relocate my blog to a new subdomain. Also, like TheLettuceMan, I don’t seem to have many readers, and of those I do have, they’re used to only a handful of posts from me any given month, so it’s not like a huge dent will be made by going off the radar for July.

    Plus, I have several friends who were a part of queer activism in the 1990s, so I understand the “silence = death” thing, and that sometimes things have to be out in the open, for the greater good. Is this one of those times? If so, what do I want to accomplish by, basically, taking my blocks and leaving, even if I intend to return? So far, the only decent answer I can think of it “solidarity”, but does this outweigh any potential drawbacks?

    On the “pros” side, I’ll be standing beside those who were treated poorly, I’ll have some extra time to retune whatever focus in private practise I may need, maybe I’ll even get some things back on schedule since I’ll be spending less time dicking around online. On the “cons”, as much as it can pain me to admit at times, Apuleius is right, and sometimes Sannion overstates things –I can’t say that some people on “the other side” were treated with total fairness, either, but does one side’s mistreatment really outweigh the other this time? I have no real idea, especially as I do believe that people who have more prominent voices need to be held to a slightly higher standard that what amounts to a small handful of popular kids on Tumblr –does this fall within that? And what if some-one is new and needs to find strong, devotional polytheist voice during that time? Blog archives can only hold even a normal person’s attention span for just so long.

    • Very good points all around…

      I will not be participating in the month of silence, I don’t think, at this point; I need to keep doing what I’ve been doing, because it is something that makes me happy and helps to keep me sane amidst some real nasty shit that is going on in my daily life.

      And, as you may have seen by my latest post, I have my own way of how to deal with what has occurred, which will be a lot more useful to others and to the gods than being silent for a month.

  5. I have to admit, as someone who has to moderate the comments on some of this stuff, it’s hard for me to be sympathetic with Sannion’s remarks that “polytheists stay in their own spaces” and “polytheists don’t engage in mudslinging personal attacks.” People of all kinds of different viewpoints have been extremely inappropriate in each other’s spaces. I don’t read Tumblr or all the blogs, so I certainly haven’t seen the whole exchange, but it’s clear to me that writers from various perspectives feel attacked, bullied, and threatened, and when I look at the posts they’re quoting, I can see why.

    There’s a slight difference, though, in that the polytheist bloggers seem to be hanging together as an identifiable group, while many of those getting in tussles with them have no significant community backing them up. Strongly polytheist-identified people are, admittedly, a small group, so I can see why that might lend itself to a feeling of being persecuted or marginalized. But to those outside of it who are not particularly invested in the issues at hand, polytheist-identified writers are starting to look like the kind of close-knit, passionate small group that might actually try to hurt someone else.

    I don’t think that’s actually the case, since I have a longer-term context for the conversations, but I can see where the perception is coming from. Several polytheists have made remarks to the effect they’re struggling with a powerful, united Pagan front of nay-sayers. But to those who are arguing with them, polytheists are the ones with the united front. The values of interfaith originally came from a peacebuilding movement that was designed to minimize violence, and several polytheist writers have recently come out vocally against those values. I’m not sure they fully realize what that looks like to those outside the hard polytheist movement.

    For me, it’s a shame. I’ve been supportive of the hard polytheist perspective because I share some major tenants with it, but it’s become clear to me that because my religious experiences are not exclusively in that vein (and that I therefore I have a different theology), I’m considered an enemy by some of the major bloggers. That makes me sad.

    Anyway, I comment because I find you to be a reasonable human being, and I suspect that it’s not immediately obvious how hard polytheists can look like a uniform, united group to those not involved. I think it might be healthy for strongly polytheist-identified people and groups to break away more completely from contemporary Paganism (a similar split in my tradition, though very painful, was ultimately healthy). But I also hope that people like yourself who are interested in other religions and other kinds of Paganism will continue to engage in dialogue with them.

    • Though, having gone through some online arguments before in which the other side ran out of valid intellectual points to make, and then started saying “Well, why should we trust your opinion at all? You’re an admitted faggot, and you don’t even know what gender you are, and you belong to an LJ group called ‘Dark Christian,’ which must mean you’re actually not pagan at all,” I can sort of see what Sannion was indicating by those remarks. It didn’t take long for people to start getting entirely personal with him on some of these matters, and to be saying disparaging things about him and his various relationships, and then about one of his partners in particular…While I don’t think that any kind of personal attack is ever a good idea, the fact that he didn’t go there initially is to be noted, I think.

      But, the larger point he was making is that polytheists don’t just show up in the comments of non-polytheists’ blogs and such and start in with “But don’t you think it would be better if…” or “Don’t you realize…” or the ever-popular “UR DOIN IT WRONG.” We do tend to keep to ourselves, and to read each other’s blogs and comment on them. Non-polytheists, on the other hand, do come to our blogs and ask those sorts of questions, and in essence ask us to account for their viewpoints and include them in our discourses, when it is not appropriate for us to do so based on our own experiences. When we do show up in non-polytheists’ blogs (as with The Allergic Pagan recently), it is to correct the summations of our viewpoints that are given by people who don’t sympathize with them, and are thus often simply making a minor disagreement into a major pejorative statement of one faction against another. While some personal attacks have gone on as well in that process, and I am not happy about that nor do I approve of it, nonetheless it usually begins with one faction quoting (or misquoting) another, then attempts at clarification either being successful or not, and then frustration sets in, and it all goes downhill from there.

      The reality is that polytheists are a tiny minority, even though we are a vocal one, and do at least agree on certain matters (e.g. the definition of polytheism). That reality is at odds with the perceptions of the larger majority of non-polytheist pagans is not our fault, it is the fault of the perceptions of the larger group. For a group that so often prides itself on “looking beyond the surface of things” and seeing that not everything in life is what it might at first seem, to miss something as obvious as this is not a very good point in the majority’s favor.

      We have a choice: we can try to be in touch with other groups and viewpoints, and meanwhile get hounded that our definitions aren’t suitable for that larger group; or, we can retreat to our own spaces of our own volition, and get what we want to done with far less argumentation and trouble from people who don’t agree with our viewpoints. I think it is pretty obvious which option, from a viewpoint that considers the work we do for the gods to be of primary importance, would be preferable. And yet, with what you’re saying here, and how we’ve been treated in a lot of this recent situation, it makes all of the big-tent rhetoric and idealism of the larger pagan movement a great mass of hypocrisy when it comes to this specific issue…and, it really doesn’t have to be that way, but the other factions seem pretty insistent on not understanding how it doesn’t have to be that way.

      There is a very big difference between stating one’s beliefs (which is what most polytheists have done), and attempting to force others to accept their beliefs or change their beliefs in order to accommodate one’s own beliefs (which is what the non-polytheists have often demanded of us); and it all really becomes especially useless and moot when the likelihood of many of the people who are doing the latter ever coming to a polytheist’s ritual is almost nil, and even if they did, they would not be required to affirm a particular set of beliefs in order to participate. That’s where the real ironies of this situation begin to become apparent: polytheists are called “belief-based,” when in reality we really don’t care as long as everyone in a ritual is being respectful; and yet the ones concerned about “beliefs” not being “open” enough and such are those who say they’re not “belief-based,” and practice isn’t even a part of the equation in any realistic manner when it comes to their participation.

      • Thank you for saying that. I wanted to say something very similar (much of it pretty much the same), but not only did I need some time to try and articulate it well, I realise that I’ve only seen a small portion of the onslaught, and just couldn’t be sure of what I would’ve said in defence.

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has seen it this way…

        I am also upset that so many people in the other factions haven’t seen it this way, and have missed my point in what I’ve written. I’m not saying “Go away, we don’t like you,” I’m saying “This is how we do things here, and if you don’t like it, don’t come, and certainly don’t expect us to change our thoughts on things just because you decide to come.” The Ekklesía Antínoou has always had a policy of including whomever wants to show up, no matter what their own personal characteristics might be–gender, sexual orientation, disability status, race, age, economic status, religion, etc. We don’t need to add “beliefs” to that, because it’s covered by “religion,” and we’ve already had Christians, Buddhists, and even Muslims come to our events, and as long as they are respectful and non-disruptive, it has never been an issue.

        If the notion that paganism isn’t about beliefs is ever going to have any real meaning and be anything more than a cute slogan with little actuality, then people need to quit getting upset when someone states their beliefs. It isn’t front-page news, and it also isn’t anyone’s business to regulate them, even if it were possible to do so.

      • Indeed. If it’s not about beliefs, than the beliefs and practises of one religion, or even a handful of individuals, should be of no consequence to others. That’s one of the implications of saying “it’s not about belief”. The wider “community” is assumed to be unaffected by the beliefs of the smaller communities within, but those smaller groups still get to define their rituals, and even beliefs.

        I would have no problem hosting an Eros or Apollon ritual where those in attendance included Christians or even people who worship Cassanova or Kurt Wyld, so long as they refrain from disruption –which includes as “disruption” the insistence that the rit must be altered to include their beliefs. If “it’s not about beliefs”, then surely this would be a reasonable request of guests.

        As I have said to other Hellenists, “xenia works both ways” –the host is expected to attend to all reasonable needs of the guest, and the guest is also obliged to abide by the rules of the host’s home, and not become a burden. I don’t see why that principle somehow needs to be compromised for open ritual, when no-one reasonable would expect anything other than that in any other sort of interaction.

      • Precisely, on all points…

        Also, I had not read the following individual’s thoughts on these matters previously, but they’re very much in line with what we’ve said here:

        http://erosiserosiseros.blogspot.com/2013/05/examining-paganism-strange-permutations.html

        I will be looking more into this fellow’s work soon, I think…

      • Again, I can’t say I’ve read every post on the subject or all the comments, but I have had to ban hard polytheists recently for profanity, name-calling, and harassment. None of them were being previously referenced or quoted, nor were their specific practices or beliefs. So I can’t say my experience fits your perception that the personal attacks are coming entirely from one direction. The evidence may be less obvious, since abusive comments are deleted from blogs I moderate and the commenters blacklisted. I know on other large sites the editors take similar measures, because I’ve talked with them about it. We try not to give the trolls a place to make trouble. Without editors who serve those functions, though, individual sites are being hit the hardest by abusive commenters.

        I actually like Sannion and his writing; as far as I know he walks his talk in terms of his treatment of others. Obviously I don’t support harassment of anyone… although I tend to think the solution is technological (comment moderation). Readers who aren’t being constructive to the project at hand needn’t be permitted to participate. I don’t think anyone should be obligated to answer to total strangers who disagree with them or are offended by what they think.

        Re: what the majority of Pagans think, from my experience on the ground, most Pagans neither read blogs nor attend conferences that draw international audiences (like PantheaCon). I suspect the majority is not even aware that there’s a struggle over what “polytheist” means. In doing general Pagan education, I’ve often encountered folks for whom “polytheist” and “Pagan” were simply synonymous, and any suggestion that they weren’t was so outside of their religious context that they couldn’t even process what I was telling them. I suspect the faction of Pagans that are offended by the non-Pagan polytheist position is equally as small and vocal as the polytheist group. (If there is really a faction… as I said, I mostly note a variety of writers coming from a variety of perspectives, not any kind of united front regionally or philosophically.)

        Re: big-tent rhetoric, it’s clear that our various movements are in an urgent phase of self-definition, probably because the big tent has gotten too big and we don’t have enough values in common for cohesion or coherence. Some lines are going to need to be drawn if our traditions are going to be sustainable, but the act of drawing lines makes for a great deal of tension and conflict… not least because those lines sometimes end up being drawn between friends or family.

        I agree that at this point, it makes sense for practitioners who primarily identify as polytheist to create some distance between themselves and people who identify primarily as Pagan. That being said, though, it’s not clear to me that anyone with genuine investment in inter- or intrafaith dialogue is leaving hateful comments like the one you describe. I don’t think the big-tent ideology is really driving harassment; I suspect it’s more a matter of personal insecurity about legitimacy. It’s my hope that, where there have been healthy personal relationships (like mine with you!), they will survive the changes in community and identification. Again, the people and groups that are worth engaging with are the ones that provide fruitful dialogue, not those who simply have an ax to grind.

        > That’s where the real ironies of this situation begin to become apparent: polytheists are called “belief-based,” when in reality we really don’t care as long as everyone in a ritual is being respectful;

        This is certainly what I would expect! I circle with philosophical atheists because they get on their faces on the carpet in ritual like everybody else. And the reason I’ve considered myself a polytheist is that my practice is what’s been previously described as “hard polytheist” — I experience the gods as objectively existing, separate beings and my practice reflects that. According to recent posts, though, the fact that I think there is also an underlying unity to all things (including the gods, but not limited to them) makes me not a polytheist, perhaps not even really Pagan, and generally a toxic influence. This is coming from people with whom I’ve had (I thought) respectful and like-minded in-person conversations in the past. It also feels like an attempt to delegitimize my understanding of my practice as polytheist by narrowing what I always thought was a practice-based definition.

        What’s your thinking about that? In looking at historical polytheisms, I can think of a great many examples of philosophical atheist or monist approaches (out of several possible theological choices) that were coupled with polytheistic practice. From studying the classical world, my understanding of “piety” was always completely behavioral. Why are people like myself, different in belief but not in practice, increasingly not welcome in “polytheist” groups?

        > and it all really becomes especially useless and moot when the likelihood of many of the people who are doing the latter ever coming to a polytheist’s ritual is almost nil, and even if they did, they would not be required to affirm a particular set of beliefs in order to participate.

        Agreed! I honestly mourn the way online communication has shifted so heavily toward public venues (blogs, Facebook, etc.). There are real advantages to closed or filtered communication spaces, and one of them is the ability to focus one’s attention on people one might actually deal with in the flesh!

        Thanks for engaging with me on this issue.

      • Yes, I totally agree on the “technological” nature of some of these difficulties. Some of the most nasty comments I’ve ever had to deal with (excepting the ones I mentioned earlier) have been at Patheos over the years, and not always from non-pagans. People tend to keep it pretty civil here, though I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve deleted someone’s comments or banned them because they were pretty insistent on a viewpoint that I have no interest in but would not take the hint to be more moderate in their suggestions, etc.

        I also think you’re 100% correct that most pagans don’t read blogs and such, and are blissfully unaware (in the best possible sense) of this most recent matter, and hundreds of others that have been vigorously discussed over the last few years in the pagan blogosphere. My pagan students at the college where I teach now had not heard a thing about this (and the one who I know reads my blog has said nothing on the matter); I met a trans woman pagan a few weeks ago, and she knew nothing about what happened at PantheaCon in 2011 and 2012, and had never heard of Z. Budapest either. She was young enough that such had not been relevant to her; but, on the other hand, she had encountered anti-trans rhetoric in a great deal of “women’s spirituality” books she had read, though she gave me no specifics on that. In any case…yes, I think it might be a matter for useful discussion at some point that pagan bloggers and journalists, while we serve an important function, are also not entirely serving the pagan community at large…Fox News, to make a very bad comparison, does at least represent the viewpoints of millions of people, whereas the pagan blogosphere at this point tends to represent the individuals who write within it, and perhaps to some extent the communities or groups from which they originate or take inspiration, but not the general masses of modern American pagans. I have found over the years that the people at PantheaCon who tell me they read my blog are not people who tend to attend my rituals, or who would consider themselves members of the Ekklesía Antínoou–in fact, I’m quite certain that the majority of the members of our Yahoo! Group have probably never read my blog. Of the 200-ish hits my blog gets per day, I suspect more than 75% of those are people who will never attend one of our rituals, will never buy one of my books, and may never worship Antinous, Hadrian, Polydeukion, the Tetrad++, or any of the other deities to whom this blog and my larger spiritual work is dedicated. This brings up questions of relevance, pointlessness, and so forth…but those questions and dwelling too much upon them tends to diminish enthusiasm for work, and thus I prefer not to spend too much time with them. I’m quite certain, as a blogger, a theologian, a practitioners, and an academic, that you know EXACTLY what I mean by all of this…!?! :/

        The matter of insecurity about legitimacy is an interesting one, and I think you’re right about that; but, one of the unfortunate aspects of it (which I don’t think I succumb to much any longer, but used to have quite a bit more of when I was younger and newer at all of this) is that people who are less secure–for whatever reason–tend to then look for legitimacy and security by having their viewpoints affirmed by whomever they might cast in the role of “authority.” There are many people in modern paganism who are authorities, both of the earned as well as the self-proclaimed variety, and who have varying degrees of “legitimate authority” due to their length of engagement, their position in certain movements, their innovations, their leadership, or their expertise in a given area. The difference between these individuals and “any blogger who starts a blog” is often almost negligible, and the critical skills which many pagans have when reading and analyzing a variety of viewpoints often do not distinguish one from the other. Tartarus hath no fury like a pagan who esteems an authority, rightly or wrongly, and then does not affirm and approve of the viewpoint of the one who does the esteem-ing. The derisiveness with which the term “Big Name Pagan” is thrown about by many modern pagans demonstrates this, I think; and, the upset reactions of many people in these recent debates is of the same kind and originates in the same phenomenon, I suspect. Which is very sad…there is a simultaneous wish to have any named figure be a guru for all who approach them, and likewise an equal and often simultaneous instinct to be as anti-authoritarian as possible, up to and including shooting down any authority which the given individual has invested another with of their own accord. This is a very large problem, and one that won’t be adequately addressed where it occurs because most people aren’t willing to admit how much authority they have invested others with in many cases…as often as someone says “why do you let others have power over you?” in modern paganism, I suspect many of the same ones saying that have handed over their own reins to others without acknowledging it. Anyway…HUGE topic there…

        From my personal viewpoint: polytheist is as polytheist does, and thus I’d have no problem with you or anyone like you being included as a polytheist. If we really are a people of practice and experience, then your practice and experience in this regard is no different than any other polytheist…which should, thus, not be a problem. If you acknowledge or experience a “ground of being” of some sort, and doing that does not change your polytheistic practice, I don’t see why it should be anyone else’s concern other than yours. In the interests of full disclosure and so forth, you might feel the need to admit that belief or to discuss it from time to time, and I don’t think that should be a problem either. These are ultimately questions of ontology, in my mind (something that The Allergic Pagan kept saying is absent from modern polytheistic thinking, which I don’t think is entirely a fair assessment, given that a large part of the recent argument was over what categories of being super heroes and pop culture entities might be in within a polytheistic framework, which I’ve always understood to be an ontological question given that it deals with classes of being…!?!), and thus are a bit more speculative, and thus are human and the products of human reason (even though human reason is, itself, something inherently divine and which comes from divine sources, I think), rather than being things which can be experienced and discussed as the reality of individual gods happen to be. There is no mythology that I know of which does not posit that the number of gods earlier in the existence of the cosmos was smaller than it was later–thus, does this common parentage mean that many ancient mythological systems can be described as monistic? Some might argue such, and the metaphysical positions of many more esoteric schools of Greek thought in the ancient world might bear that out even further…and yet, the polytheistic credentials of the individuals involved there would tend to be unquestioned today.

        [Tangent: Cicero is, of course, an interesting figure to consider in this regard. He was a philosopher, and gave much of the Latin world after him its philosophical vocabulary, which he adapted from Greek. He was an augur, and apparently quite a good one. Thus, he was a full participant in a polytheistic society. His viewpoint as an atheist also seems to come through in many of his writings, which thus makes him a favorite of many atheists. He is a Sanctus of the Ekklesía Antínoou, though, and thus many people wonder why that is or could be. Mainly, because before the Roman Imperial cultus existed, he was considering that deification of his daughter that died might be a good idea...thus, one could say that the notion that a person mourning another's death conferring divine status on an individual is an important and necessary step in what eventually occurred with Antinous two centuries later. This demonstrates, I think, that any view or assessment we have of many individuals based on modern and exclusivistic categories like "atheist" is necessarily problematic in actuality...and if that's the case with matters as apparently simple as this, how much more so with the far more complex questions of theology that we are currently struggling with? Hmm...]

        So, if you pray and do ritual and other things just like any polytheist, I don’t see how or why this would be a problem for other polytheists. If it comes time to start talking about whether you think the first god was Chaos or Nyx or Ymir or whomever-you-like, that tends to be in the realm of “not actual cultus,” and thus it shouldn’t be relevant to praxis-based and experiential polytheism and how you are evaluated in relation to that “standard.” If you choose to identify as a “polytheist, BUT–” then that might just rub some people the wrong way; it wouldn’t bother me that much, but it might bother others. I suspect that the variety of ultimate answers on divine origins would be an extremely diverse and thus potentially divisive issue even amongst polytheists…

        Which is why, I suspect, many of us have preferred to keep with praxis-based understandings of what makes us pagans or polytheists. This is something that Julian Betkowski’s work hasn’t quite addressed yet, but I hope to engage in some discussions with him on that subject, and perhaps to do some posts here on it eventually as well.

        Thus, we kind of end up in a strange circular discussion above, for which I apologize–but, I think it illustrates the difficulties of these matters. Your beliefs shouldn’t matter to a practical viewpoint, because they don’t impact that viewpoint or your practice of it, which is why we don’t discuss beliefs, because if we did then it would impact the practical viewpoint in the minds of some people, etc. Crikey…!?!

        Anyway, there’s much more to consider and discuss here, so thanks very much for this conversation! And, also, thank you for your contributions toward my present financial plight! They, and you, are much appreciated! :)

      • Looks like I have to start over with a new thread!

        Re: Patheos comments, please do let me know if anyone becomes abusive and I will shut them down immediately. There’s too much content for me to read everything or supervise every conversation, so I won’t always catch the problem unless a writer alerts me. If you would like, we can also move you to a format where you can moderate your own comments and only go through one layer of editor (who would be me) or post without any editing at all. Let me know if that interests you.

        > This brings up questions of relevance, pointlessness, and so forth…but those questions and dwelling too much upon them tends to diminish enthusiasm for work, and thus I prefer not to spend too much time with them. I’m quite certain, as a blogger, a theologian, a practitioners, and an academic, that you know EXACTLY what I mean by all of this…!?! :/

        I so hear you.

        > people who are less secure–for whatever reason–tend to then look for legitimacy and security by having their viewpoints affirmed by whomever they might cast in the role of “authority.”

        YES. I see this as a human tendency, not one specific to our various subgroups, but it is a problem, and one that I have no treatment for. =/ Re: the problem you speak of later, that people are affronted when those they’ve chosen as authority figures don’t affirm them uncritically, I admit a prefer a flexible, dynamic hierarchy in organizations rather than the nonhierarchy that many Pagans prefer — I see no reason why everyone should automatically have the right to speak in any venue, especially when the internet takes away normal social pressures to observe etiquette.

        > These are ultimately questions of ontology, in my mind (something that The Allergic Pagan kept saying is absent from modern polytheistic thinking, which I don’t think is entirely a fair assessment)

        Agreed; I know it’s a subject you’ve touched on. I have ongoing frustration that we don’t read each other’s work, or the often very good work that has gone before in the past several decades. I don’t see that we need a shared canon per se, but I do wish it were easier to communicate to people that they should read a LOT and perhaps ask for suggestions from a mentor before they form more than a tentative opinion about some of these issues. At the same time, I’m sympathetic because there is SO much to read. I can’t keep up myself.

        > There is no mythology that I know of which does not posit that the number of gods earlier in the existence of the cosmos was smaller than it was later–thus, does this common parentage mean that many ancient mythological systems can be described as monistic?

        Fascinating suggestion, as are your remarks about Cicero.

        > This is something that Julian Betkowski’s work hasn’t quite addressed yet, but I hope to engage in some discussions with him on that subject, and perhaps to do some posts here on it eventually as well.

        With luck, Julian will be joining us at Patheos as an Agora columnist soon.

        Glad we continue to be on the same page about many of these issues. I’m enjoying the poetry. :)

  6. […] PSVL’s post, or rather, the […]


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