Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 29, 2016

A Festival for Abraxas Today?

If you think the present post follows on from the last one in certain thematic manners, you may be right…I had not intended it as such, and in fact was confused earlier and thought this post might have been something to do tomorrow (Friday the 30th), but it turned it it was for today instead…perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not.

I found out earlier this week that today is a new, irregular, proposed holiday of sorts. September 29th is Galactic Tick Day, which is not a date to pay homage to a gigantic galaxy-spanning arthropod that brings celestial lyme disease, nor is it a day to celebrate the contributions of the animated series and the live-action show The Tick, sadly…

Sorry, my friend...your day is not today...

Sorry, my friend…your day is not today…

I suspect this holiday–a movable feast (like Easter!), since it occurs once every 1.73 years (or 633.7 days)–which has been counted from the patenting of the telescope on October 2, 1608, is one of many attempts by scientists and science-interested people (read: atheists) to have holidays worthy of celebrating that are their own, rather than something secularized that already exists. Given that many religious holidays, according to atheist reckoning, are based on random and rather meaningless things, the irregular nature of this one seems just as equally random in many ways, down to how it was determined in the first place.

How it is to be celebrated, however, remains to be seen.

But, never one to miss an opportunity to bring the Deities into everyday life, I wonder: why not have a holiday for Abraxas, or Abrasax, on this day?

Hey!  Leave that naked woman alone, you cocky snake!

Hey! Leave that woman alone, you cocky snake!

There is an idea in Graeco-Egyptian magic, as well as in certain forms of Gnosticism, that Abraxas/Abrasax is a kind of “God above the Gods/beyond the Gods,” less anthropomorphic and exhibiting characteristics that seem strange at first, but perhaps reflect a kind of super-syncretistic nature to convey some of that transcendent force. A bit on Abraxas from Macrobius’ Saturnalia (i.18.19-20) reflects this:

When Clarian Apollo was asked which of the gods should be regarded as the god Iao, he replied: ‘the unsearchable secrets should be hidden by those who have learned the mysteries.’ However, for those with limited understanding and feeble minds, think about this: Iao is the supreme god over all the gods. In winter, Hades; at the start of spring, Zeus; in the summer, Helios; and in the Autumn, splendid Iao.

There is much more on Abraxas…I collected many of these together for the Neos Alexandria page on Him a while back, but for some reason, that information didn’t make the transition to the new website…perhaps I need to re-post it here at some point (maybe later tonight, even). [UPDATE: I can’t, because the files seem to be gone. Drat…and there is no record on the Neos Alexandria Yahoo!Group, nor in any of my e-mails, for having sent the information or the files still existing.]

In many systems of magic dating back to the Graeco-Egyptian period, Abraxas/Abrasax has a name with a numerical equivalent of 365, thus indicating the year, and by extension the larger cosmic cycles of time. But, perhaps such an interesting and unusual Deity deserves something more than just being acknowledged alongside any other New Year festivals and Deities one might have in one’s personal practice. (As I personally observe several different New Years throughout the year–an Irish one on Samain, an Antinoan one on Foundation Day, and a Roman/secular one on January 1st with Ianus), saying “Oh, and Abraxas” might not be the best. I’ve suggested that an Abrasaxeia might take place on the leap day every four years as well.

But, I think Galactic Tick Day might be a better time for it in the future.

What do you reckon?

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 29, 2016

Remember Vegas (Yet Again!)?

I’ll be making a second, somewhat short post today, but wanted to get this one out first…this one might have some thematic relationship, in a kind of (very!) roundabout way, to that additional post I’ll be making later/shortly.

As you should know from the phrase “Remember Vegas?” above, that is the indication I’ve been using in the past month for when I am posting about the release of one of the interviews I did in early July with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove on The New Thinking Allowed program on YouTube, which was the purpose of my trip to Las Vegas in late June/early July (fulfilling a teenage fantasy, etc.).

This third interview is quite good in many ways, but it’s the one that has a title I’m the least content with…but nothing that is more accurate or descriptive was punchier than this: “Rebellion Against God.”

Slight tangent before I detail what the interview is really about: in the last two weeks, I did something rather stupid considering how little time I have these days for work. I listened to/watched a 4+ hour video on YouTube by a conspiracy theorist who really hates Dr. Mishlove, who was going off about a number of things I said in my previous interview, talking about (amongst many other things) how Luciferians shave their heads to honor the penis and that therefore Dr. Mishlove must be a Luciferian, and so forth…this individual clearly has some problems. He was also suggesting I’m tied into this conspiracy somehow…jeez, one is always the last to know on such things, huh? 😉 But, now with the title of this interview, and the content of it, if he had some fears or suspicions before, this will put him right over the edge. I don’t know if I’ll watch anything further that he posts about me and my interviews or not…probably not, but anyway, just a matter of potential interest (in the way train wrecks occurring always are).

In this interview, the topic of Lucifer and/or Satan are discussed briefly, but what was the real focus was what is known as “spiritual titanism,” i.e. the overthrow of one generation of Deities by another, which we know quite well from Hesiod, Gaia and Ouranos, the Titans, and then the Olympians. We talk about one of the things that has been of greatest interest to me in cosmic eschatological terms–Demeter, the Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone, and Demophoön’s immortalization as an attempt to raise an army to overthrow Zeus–as well as Prometheus, Thetis and Achilleus, and others. I mention that the idea for this came from a talk I heard by Sarah Iles Johnston (at PantheaCon, as it turns out!), but it is also found in Jenny Strauss Clay and Helene Foley’s writings on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.

Along the way, we also mention: theodicy and Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People; the “dark night” experience; one polytheist’s (mine!) view of Iao Sabaoth and Allah as “head-of-pantheon” Deities, but not as sole Deities or creator Deities; John Milton’s Paradise Lost; and, a topic that Dr. Mishlove is interested in (on which more later), Zoroastrianism and its switch to Deities that were formerly considered “demons” in earlier Indo-Iranian contexts.

Here it is!

As usual, I have a few minor corrections to give.

For some reason, I said “Gaius” rather than “Gaia” initially when talking about Gaia and Ouranos’ offspring…it was a slip of the sibilant, so I apologize for that.

At a later point in the discussion, we talked about the conflict between “Earth and Sky” Deities in Greek myth, and how this usually manifests as an Earth Mother and a Sky Father, and what this can mean for patriarchy, the “return of the Goddess” in modern spirituality (even outside polytheism and paganism) and so forth. I also mention that in both Egyptian and Irish mythologies, this conflict isn’t really present (partially since the Egyptian tradition has an earth God, Geb, and a sky Goddess, Nut). While I think that statement is still true, nonetheless there is still generational conflict present in Egyptian mythology and cosmology, and inter-divine race conflict (the Fomoiri and the Tuatha Dé) in Irish myth. It’s not an error so much as something that could have used further elaboration.

Very interestingly, earlier in the week, the episode of The New Thinking Allowed which was newly aired was another interview with Jason Reza Jorjani, who has written a book called Prometheus and Atlas, and he’s also been interviewed on this show previously in terms of the contributions of Zoroastrianism and Persian culture to the wider world. In the interview from earlier this week, an interesting discussion occurs: Jorjani talks about the possibility that there is some sort of cosmic trickster being at the heart of a lot of religions and religious events, as well as certain paranormal or parapsychological phenomena. He mentions the originating cattle sacrifice of Hermes and the interesting matter that cattle mutilations in association with UFO phenomena are rather common…whatever you think of the potential conclusions which can be drawn from this, it’s an interesting conversation, and one you might like to have a look at/listen to as well, if you have the time.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 28, 2016

Reverse Metaphoralization…?!?

This one has been kicking around for a while now–at least since early May, but possibly even earlier than that. And in my current state of mind, and with the current time constraints I have, I can finish it off relatively quickly and clear it from the “to do” list, so I’m happy to be able to do so now.

I was in a bookstore a short while ago, and in the “Classics/Literature” section I saw a book with which I’m very familiar: Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers). Sanctus though Joseph Campbell is, I have many disagreements with a number of his ideas now, as do many other polytheists. One of his ideas about mythology, and all of the things in mythology–including Deities–is that they are metaphorical matters. In fact, at one point during one of the interviews in the above-mentioned book/series, he does say that as far as Deities and myths go, “a wise person understands them as metaphors.” And one form of such metaphors, when it comes to mythology, is as archetypes.

While some myths have metaphorical import (as do some other types of stories and narratives that aren’t specifically mythic in nature or genre), for polytheists, they’re not just metaphorical, and that is the case most especially with the Deities in them. For polytheists, myths concerning Deities are, in a certain sense, theophanic in that they reveal something about the character or the temperament of a given Deity a lot of the time, which can then be understood in a theological sense. (This is why poets in ancient Greece were known as “theologians,” in essence…!?!)

But, I wonder if there might be an alternative way to understand metaphors and such in relation to Deities and to myths about Them.

Let us being with a few observations about the relationship between archetypes and reality on the human level. While some might not see many things as archetypes, certain occupations, social roles, and other things can function in manners similar to archetypes, and in many cases with drama and such, social roles or occupations function as stock characters, which are about as archetypical as one can get. One might know a “shopkeeper,” but how might the general outlines of “shopkeeper” be different from Bob who runs the corner store? Likewise, almost all of us know of the archetype and familial role of “Mother,” but how often do we note that “my actual mom” may be quite different from what the role of “Mother” often implies or requires.

What I would suggest in these situations is that it isn’t so much that the individual person in each example is “not fitting” the archetype–expecting that at all times with humans (or with Deities!) is a recipe for disaster. Nor, likewise, does the archetype need to be expanded to include all possible variations with any given person (human or divine) that is in a particular role–then they’d become so general as to lose their distinction from one another, and no longer be able to function as identifiable and different archetypes at all. So, what might we say about this?

Well, I think I have a suggestion–whether it is useful or not I leave up to those who find it to be such. What if the archetype or the role is a metaphor, but instead of it being understood that the individual person (whether human or divine) is standing in for the metaphor/archetype, the archetype is the metaphor for the person. While it might seem somewhat obvious that this might be the case, and not the reverse, I wonder if a great deal of the difficulty an archetypalist approach to Deities in particular encounters is that the individual Deities might not fit the general patterns outlined of or allowed for the archetype, and that may be the problem which should then suggest that the reverse is the case. Confusing a person (human or divine) for a metaphor, or for an archetype, is involved in every kind of stereotyping, for example, and is the source of a great deal of disappointment and so forth whenever it exists. Think of someone who has a Black friend, but that Black friend isn’t a great singer or dancer, and doesn’t have a great sense of rhythm, and that might be a disappointment to the someone in question for various odd and probably stupid reasons…all of which stem from the fact that this person’s actuality doesn’t fit the stereotype, the archetype, and the metaphor that they might have been thought or hoped to embody by the first person in question. And, this is at the root of many interpersonal problems, not only between different groups of people (“You’ll only ever just be my friend,” “I thought you were my partner, I didn’t realize you were my mother,” etc.). Individual people and ideas about particular roles–occupational, familial, racial, social, religious, and so forth–are always going to be different, an so as a result, if one starts with the individual and then metaphoralizes from there, perhaps what will result will be more accurate than if one takes the archetype (or role or stereotype, etc.) and then gets annoyed with how the individual doesn’t fit it or fully embody it, that will lead to less difficult. (One hopes…!?!)

So, while there might be an archetype or a divine role known as “Solar Deity.” But, with this reverse metaphoralization in mind, isn’t that the archetype “Solar Deity” exists and then Helios, Apollon, Sunna, Amaterasi-Omikami, Re, Sol Invictus and Sol Indigenes (amongst others) are all versions of that archetype, but instead, Helios (and any of the others) simply is, and “Solar Deity” is the metaphor for parts of Him and His role, which may also have sympathies with some of the other Deities who might “fall under” that archetype. In other words, the archetype doesn’t encapsulate that Deity, nor does it even highlight the most significant aspects of any of those Deities’ characters; instead, it describes a limited range of what that Deity can do and what is possible for Them, but is far from the full extent of it.

In a sense, this is not unlike the metaphorical “is” of syncretism which I’ve discussed on a few other occasions: it isn’t that in an Interpretatio Romana-style syncretism, that the implied is (which can be left out in Latin linguistic constructions) standing between Cocidius and Silvanus (or Cocidius and Mars!) happens to be an equative, literal, “is,” indicating that Cocidius IS Silvanus, or Cocidius IS Mars, as has been so often thought and assumed by people over the years, but instead that metaphorical is happens to be used in this metaphorical, translational sense. I may very well be a night-owl, but that doesn’t mean I’m actually a nocturnal large-eyed head-turning-gifted bird of prey; the “be” in that statement is metaphorical rather than literal. (And it is amazing how often things that are metaphorical rather than literal in religious contexts are preferred by many polytheists, as well as general pagans, and yet the matter in question here does not fall under such preferences!) So instead, Cocidius is like Silvanus in certain ways, in a translational sense; and in other contexts, Cocidius is like Mars in a translational and metaphorical sense. Unless, via syllogism, one decides that Silvanus and Mars are really “the same” (which some have attempted to do), the existence of such alternate syncretisms doesn’t mean that there was a lack of centralized or organized cultus in Roman Britain, so much as that one particular Deity can’t be translated fully by only one other Deity’s characteristics. Isis may be similar to Demeter in terms of Her search for Osiris being comparable to Demeter’s for Persephone, but that’s hardly the end of the story; She is also similar to Hekate in terms of Her excellence in magic; and, She is similar to any number of other Goddesses as well in other cultures, which might be why She ended up becoming a super-syncretistic Goddess. Take any Deity, and I suspect a bit of thought could lead to them being super-syncretistic as well…

That’s my thought, in any case. Some may simply wish to dispense with archetypes entirely. That’s also fine. I do think they can function as separate (though rather boring and depersonalized) divine beings, as I’ve said for a long time…but, I’d still rather deal with Bob than with “shopkeeper,” and with Antinous rather than “youth God,” “moon God,” “river God,” “flower God,” “love God,” “queer God,” “star God,” or “hunter God.” But, if one is in doubt, it might be better for some people to stick with “river God” when the particularities of that river are not yet known. Thinking one river God, for example (not to mention river Goddesses, and river Deities of other genders!), is the same as any other is a recipe for disaster as well, and one that can be made rather easily if one isn’t careful…

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 27, 2016

Has Donald Trump Based His Presidential Campaign on Game of Thrones?

I have written before about what satire is.

By my word as a fili, this is NOT that kind of satire.

(Whether this is a better kind, or could provide ammunition for the other kind, I leave to others to determine…!?!)

To satirize someone like the Tangerine Nightmare who is the lead name on the Republican Party ticket for President of the United States at present seems like truly low-hanging fruit (with emphasis on the “low”), since he tends to satirize himself simply by speaking to other sentient beings (and Twitter), but after stewing over this matter for many months, and seeing his performance in last night’s first debate, it appears high time that I say what I’m about to say. The low-hanging fruit is not ripe for the picking, it’s rotten to the core and has begun to stink (which is probably why said Cheeto Jesus was sniffing so much during the debate–if he has raised the question of Secretary Clinton’s health and fitness for office, we can likewise ask why he sounded like a coke-head sans Benadryl during hayfever season and evaluate whether that–amongst the billion other things applicable–makes him fit for the presidency), so before the maggots swarm over its surface–as they surely will–let’s have a look at it for a moment before throwing it in the incinerator (lest it pollute the perfectly respectable piles of shit and refuse in the compost heap).

Anyone remember the character The Corinthian from Neil Gaiman's Sandman?  I wonder if he opens his eyes as well as his mouth, we'll find teeth there…?!?

Anyone remember the character The Corinthian from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman? I wonder if he opens his eyes as well as his mouth, we’ll find teeth there…?!?

My premise is simple, as can be noted from the subject line above: is it possible that Orange Hitler’s presidential campaign was inspired by Game of Thrones? I believe the answer is yes, and I hope to demonstrate that in what is to come below.

The idea no doubt started in Donatus Trumpatus’ mind to have a presidential campaign in 2011, when the Game of Thrones television show began–he can’t have read the books, since we know he hasn’t read anything, including the book his name is on as author which was ghostwritten for him–and he first saw it. I’m sure the notion for the campaign began when he watched the first few episodes of the show and realized that the character Lord Petyr Baelish, also known as “Littlefinger,” clearly has his nickname based on Trimp’s own anatomical deficiencies. (I’ve wondered if “Littlefinger” has the same problem as Donald T. Rump does, which is why he runs a whorehouse and is so hungry for power…if Lord Baelish could build very tall brothels and travel around in gold planes with his name emblazoned on the side, it would be clear he’s compensating for something, yes?)

And, let’s also look at how that character is clearly Dickold Tramp’s inspiration, despite Littlefinger being far more intelligent, charming, charismatic, attractive, well-spoken, and authentically-haired than our presidential pretendercontender. With all of the intrigues and conspiracies in Game of Thrones, noble and legitimate birth is certainly an issue that has been leveraged constantly–who is a bastard, who is the true-born heir, who is a secret bastard born of incest, and so forth is a common plot element in the show. Thinking that such things mattered in the modern world, Dumbold Tripe decided to try that with his own spearheading of the birther movement in 2011 as well, and–like Littlefinger, with his legion of imported whores*–decided to work his way up from moderately-successful businessman to aspirant for the Iron ThroneOval Office. (Though Littlefinger at least had the redeeming quality to come from a humble house and work his way up into the nobility, whereas Cocksplat Fucktrumpet was about the equivalent of a Tyrrell when he started…much better off than the majority of the Westerosicitizens of the United States.)

And, also not unlike Lord Baelish, Donald Drumpf does not see other humans and those who work for him as “other humans” or “persons” or anything of the sort, but instead as “investments,” as he made clear in several of his references to various cities in the debate last night, where he has “investments” rather than actual interest in the plight of the people of those communities. Also like Lord Baelish and his treatment of Ros, I’m sure that he also knows where more than one dead hooker is buried…very likely with arrows in them from Joffrey, the narcissistic megalomaniac that I suspect Daft Twiddler thought was a good and reasonable ruler with “all the best ideas.”

In one of his first interviews as a presidential candidate in 2015, the Apricot Hell-Beast’s unique notions on how to deal with immigration was to build a huge wall that is 500 feet high to defend the U.S. against the incursions of wildlingsMexicans, and make them pay for it. (Let’s forget for the moment that “immigration” is not an issue that is confined in focus with the U.S.’s relationship to Mexico, but in Republican circles, it seems to be a dog-whistle for “Mexicans” and any other Latinx folk they might have in mind, without whom their lawns would not look as nice nor their hotels have any housekeeping staff.) Bran the Builder certainly didn’t think the Wildlings, the White Walkers, or the Children of the Forest would pay for the wall, and he was also willing to make sure it was properly maintained and guarded after it was built. I suspect the Droning Death-Token will think that building it of ice along the Mexican border will also be fitting, and as we know from his actual record up until now, the workers he’ll inevitably have to enslavehire to build it will not be paid what was agreed, if they are paid at all.

The author of Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, had the following to say on immigrants and the U.S. and some of what the Lumpish Fly-Bitten Barnacle’s ideas on it have been:

“It’s an old old story, as old as our republic. Millard Fillmore is dead and forgotten, but the Know Nothing Party is alive and well today, under other names. They still know nothing.”

[I’m tempted to put “Jon Snow” after that last statement, but will resist…especially since on this particular issue, Jon Snow at his most clueless knows a helluva lot more than the main person we’re talking about otherwise in this situation!]

When asked about who he’d have in his presidential cabinet (a short list, to be certain, since very few would want to be associated with such a person), his immediate response was that he’d have three of his adult (no thanks to him) children on the cabinet: Douchebag von Fuckface, Thurston Shitbag III, and Ivanka. From Game of Thrones, we all know how easily things can go south when you’ve got a small council full of one’s own family members–Renly decided he’d be a better heir than Stannis after Robert died, Tyrion slapped Joffrey (though we could hope the same of Ivanka if Despicable Twit becomes president!), Tywin really ran things for both Joffrey and Tommen, and Kevan didn’t do much better before being incinerated in a flash of green wildfire. (Though Mace Tyrrell next to Dragging Trash looks like an intellectual heavyweight of superlative eloquence!) But, like so many things where bad examples are followed rather than questioned, Dwindled Trap thinks it would be a good idea to follow suit with them. Those who don’t know history are surely doomed to repeat it, as the suggestions from this not-remotely-candid candidate in relation to “tax cuts for job creators,” a.k.a. supply side economic, trickle-down economics, Reganomics, and the situation that lead the Republican administrations of the 1920s to bring about the Great Depression, demonstrate with flying colors; and those who also don’t learn the lessons of fantasy fiction’s history will surely end up with Fire and Blood in their laps sooner rather than later. (Is Hillary Clinton Daenerys Targaryen? Who could say, but if she says Dracarys! at the next debate and he goes up in flames, I won’t shed a tear.)

With the mention of Stannis Baratheon, I’m also reminded of something else. When Ghazala and Khizr Khan, the Gold Star parents of Muslim-American U. S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who died in 2004 in Iraq serving the United States proudly and with honor and distinction, appeared at the Deomcratic National Convention in early August of 2016, Mr. Khan very rightly pointed out that the Whiny Little Bitch knows nothing of sacrifices, and has never had to make a sacrifice. On the news the following day, after demeaning the service of Captain Khan, the tragic loss endured by his parents, and the Islamic communities generally, the thin-skinned and easy-to-bristle aspiring Tantrum-Thrower-in-Chief said “I’ve made sacrifices!” Yes, I’m sure he has, just like Stannis Baratheon did with his daughter, Shereen.

Don't worry, beautiful princess:  we're screaming just as loud and as desperately as you are...

Don’t worry, beautiful princess: we’re screaming just as loud and as desperately as you are…

I’ve been writing and talking a great deal this year about eschatology, and while some of it has to do with wider trends and the many unpleasant possibilities of climate change bringing on disastrous events with little notice, one other matter to take into consideration in the timeliness of such concerns is the likelihood–even if it fluctuates daily, and is hopefully made less likely by the exposure of the idiocy and immaturity of one candidate in the debate–of a future President ClownMeat. Let us all pray fervently to all of the Deities with Whom we have relationships to prevent this…

And to close on a Game of Thrones theme, let us pray:

Seven Curses on him–
The Mother deny him mercy,
The Maiden withhold all love from him,
The Crone extract what little wisdom is left in him,
The Father judge him harshly,
The Warrior strike him down,
The Smith hammer him flat,
The Stranger carry him away soon, soon…

May the Many-Faced God bring him every form of death…

May the Drowned God make him sink, never to rise again…

May the Mountain Mother crash her stones upon him,
and may the Great Stallion trample him to dust…

May the Lord of Light burn him to ashes
and scatter his darkness and his terrors forever…

and May the Old Gods beyond number forget his face.

And to end on a slightly-more-upbeat note, HBO did make this amusing video not too long ago as well…we could hope for candidates like Daenerys and Jon Snow, but we’ve got an obvious choice before us, I think.

_____

[With many thanks to John Oliver, Bill Maher, the people of Scotland, and londonsquare on LJ for supplying me with several of the above-used additional alternate but very fitting and appropriate names to call the subject of this post rather than his own–may it be cursed from now until the time the rodent-like creature atop his head at last devours him and goes off to mate once again, hopefully spawning better vermin on its underbelly the next time around!]

[*: I personally have no problem with sex-workers and the honest trade that they are often forced by circumstance to provide for an often degenerate clientele. Gold-digging plagiarist mail order brides, on the other hand, are a different matter…]

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 26, 2016

A Somber and Eye-Opening Day…

I have had a post I’ve wanted to write for several months stewing, that I think I’ll finally do tomorrow…and you’ll understand why when it goes up. I can’t do it now, though…

Many nice things happened today. I was able to have lunch with a friend I’ve known since 7th grade who works where I do, and to meet her fiancee and one of the fiancee’s children while doing so. Later, I was able to bring my friend to my Shrine, and she was sad she couldn’t stay longer, but hopes to come back and be in the Shrine space for a while in order to bring about re-connecting with her Deities and practices. I’m happy that such will be able to occur.

I had a short visit with my mom and did some errands.

I got an apology from someone who had inadvertently parked in my parking space (I don’t have a car and can’t drive because I’m disabled, but when I get dropped off or picked up by people, it makes it easier if the parking space I pay for is empty so I can get in and out more easily…and I had several people picking me up or dropping me off today) after I had left a note for them. She is a new neighbor, and got back late last night and parked in the wrong spot, and was very nice and considerate about it…thank all the Gods for that!

I also got some nice things in the mail that I had ordered a long while back: Heather Dale’s Arthurian musical Queens of Avalon, also featuring S.J. Tucker, which I’m looking forward to watching and listening to soon!

I also saw a few colleagues at work, and we talked about what happened on Friday and Saturday. An e-mail from our college’s president went around on Sunday saying that the perpetrator (who has confessed–it’s no longer “alleged”) and two of the slain individuals were all former students at the college. One of my colleagues made an interesting point, and said she didn’t realize how impactful this situation has been until she was taking roll in her morning class, and realized that some of the people who weren’t there could have been (but weren’t) possibly killed over the weekend. That is when it really hit home for her, and I think many of us were feeling similarly today. Much of Skagit and Island Counties are still in shock over the whole thing. No one I knew or spoke with on the faculty had any of the individuals concerned as students previously…

But, when I broached the topic with my class in the afternoon–since it is a history class, and when history comes to visit us, it needs some attention–we had a 25 minute discussion of it that was very eye-opening. In addition to some of the “I can’t believe this has happened here” comments, I also asked how many of us had been to Cascade Mall in the last month, and everyone’s hand went up (it’s been a little longer than that for me, but still…it’s right on the way to many places I find myself at relatively regularly).

Three people in the class knew the perpetrator–one graduated from high school with him, another had him over at her house and in her car, and a third knew him via someone else. The one who had him in her house and car was feeling especially violated, but she also had the experience of working in the outlet mall next to the mall, and they were all on lockdown immediately after the incident, fearing that he might have gone to that area next, and she was in lockdown for about five hours having to hide in the corner of her store, only hearing the sounds of law enforcement personnel on the radio during that time, which she admired and appreciated ,not only for their professionalism, but also because she could tell, and some even said, that many of them were scared and worried in the situation, and handled it not only as professionals but also as actual humans in a difficult situation.

Many people in the class also commented on how they were upset that because the perpetrator is Turkish, that everyone automatically assumed this is Islamic terrorism, when in fact the individual concerned is actually Christian. There was also compassion and concern expressed for him, since a few people knew he had been abused as a child and had many problems during school, while also admitting that this does not absolve him of responsibility, nor forgive him for making some very poor decisions–not everyone who does bad in school, is unpopular, and is abused shoots random people in the mall.

Some people said they felt that they should just hide in their houses and they were even afraid to come to college today. Not trying to make light of the situation, but at the same time trying to bring some perspective to matter, I said that the statistical likelihood of another shooting taking place here and this soon after was pretty slim. I made the case, which I think some people appreciated, that we can’t let this stop us from living, trying to learn, trying to go through our lives as we always have; we should definitely stop and think, mourn the dead, and pick up the pieces as best we can, but we cannot let something like this defeat us, either, or lessen our enjoyment or our engagement with life.

Nonetheless, today at the Mt. Vernon branch of our college, someone left their bag for a moment to get some food, and it was reported as a suspicious package, and a building was evacuated. Everyone is on edge, and I suspect this will continue for another week or so, at least…

Welcome to the new reality, I suppose. We couldn’t be removed from it forever, and while our community has not suffered as much as many others have where shootings have taken place in the last week, nonetheless, any shootings at all are too many.

Whether it is from Antinous, from one’s devotions, or from any other thing, nonetheless we have a saying: Haec est unde vita venit. Some of us might have to ask from whence our own life comes and find it once again after this tragic situation, but it is there to be found, and I hope many of us in this community realize that sooner rather than later.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 25, 2016

A Bit of Stress Relief…

Things in my life haven’t been exactly peachy lately…and while that can sometimes make for some interesting bouts of creativity, channeling what is crappy into what is interesting, it can also just create a lot of frustration and annoyance, too.

So, over the last few months, I’ve had to find ways of relieving my stress, and sometimes a good laugh is a nice way to do that. (Sometimes, also, watching the last episode of season 6 of Game of Thrones is also strangely satisfying…!?!) But over the past few weeks, I’ve also rediscovered someone that has rarely failed to make me laugh: George Carlin. His tendency to make lists, and his interest in the meanings of words and phrases, are both quintessentially Irish pastimes and preoccupations, and sometimes listening to his comedy routines is like hearing Middle Irish prose read aloud, which is very interesting.

No, he’s not remotely politically correct, though his heart is (and always has been) in the right place; part of comedy, which he discusses in several other places, is exaggeration…and though I don’t agree with all of what he says, and some of his statements even offend me under certain lights, my ability to contextualize, take things with a grain of salt, and also to understand that not everyone else has a duty to never say anything that will potentially offend, upset, or fail to agree with what I think is a fact of existence, and one that it is good to remind oneself of…so as I watch some of his things, I not only get to laugh, but I also get to remember that not everything I hear about being something I agree with is a good lesson to learn, and re-learn, and re-emphasize throughout life, so that when it happens with a friend or associate of mine, I can better deal with it. Or, at least I think so.

And, if that one is too much for you, how about this rather-too-accurate assessment of education, to which I can attest a great deal of truth based on my own experiences thus far…

Or, finally, the great comedian’s take on eschatology.

Enjoy–or don’t–as you may prefer. 😉

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 24, 2016

I Hate It When This Happens…

Many of you may have heard that last night, there was a shooting at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. That’s not far from where I live, and as far as I know (I haven’t heard back from one friend yet, but I’m hoping it’s just because he’s a bit dippy and hasn’t responded), everyone I know is safe and unharmed.

I had a weird feeling afterwards, though…Earlier in the day, during one of my classes, I mentioned how our staff and faculty were given a mandatory safety and security session last week in which the entire topic was pretty much what lock-down procedure would be if there was an active shooter on campus, and how the new head of security pretty much told us that we need to be in “fight-or-flight” mode at all times now and always on the lookout for suspicious persons and behavior, etc. (Never mind that this is no way to live or to learn, especially since cortisol from elevated stress levels inhibits memory and clear cognition, increases paranoia, and so forth…) While I certainly know that nowhere is “safe” or “off-the-table” for incidents these days, nonetheless, telling us that our job is to do those things rather than to educate students…well, anyway…

So, my weird feeling after that occurred last night was that the perpetrator would either flee to Oak Harbor and/or be caught in my town, and might even be from here. I was right on all three…he was apprehended several hours ago less than 1/3 of a mile from where I live and am typing this now.

In the last few years, my area of Washington (north of Seattle) has made national news when a bridge collapsed, when there was a shooting at the high school in Marysville…and now this. I wish that something good would happen in this area that makes the news…it’s a beautiful place, and I’m happy to live here, and would go elsewhere only very reluctantly.

Well, I hope you will pray with me for those slain and their families, and likewise for the protection and blessing of the people in law enforcement who have handled this current situation very admirably (which, sadly, isn’t the case in way too many other places in the U.S. at present).

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 23, 2016

Celebrate Bisexuality Day 2016

Today rounds out the observances listed on my Calendar for the month of September. While the teaching quarter at one of my colleges (the main one) is one week finished now (and only eleven to go!), and things are getting relatively involved, with the first assignments coming in over the next few days, plus other offline work continuing and intensifying as well, I do hope to have a few more posts done before the end of the month, both here and elsewhere…we shall see how it goes.

But, for the moment, let’s pause and look at the concept of bisexuality in the overall range of queer identities, and where it applies in both my own life and in my overall theological views.

As some of you know, my M.A. thesis in religious studies was not on any “heavily” academic topic, but instead was of a praxis-theology-based matter, namely bisexual theology (which didn’t exist at that point within queer theology…and sadly still doesn’t really in any definite or noticeable fashion, within the Christian context nor any other of which I’m aware). That experience did, however, give me a great deal of experience in not only becoming familiar with, but also being critical (in the intellectual sense, rather than simply in the detracting sense) of the arguments out there which advanced one viewpoint (usually that of gay or lesbian triumphalism) while overshadowing and even attempting to erase other viewpoints (generally bisexuality).

We see this very commonly in polytheism and polytheist-friendly queer spiritual groups. We tend of think of Zeus and Ganymede, Poseidon and His various male lovers (Pelops, Nerites), and the homoerotic relationships of Herakles, Apollon, Dionysos, and Hermes–amongst many others–as “gay” rather than as being what they are descriptively, i.e. bisexuality. None of these Deities forsook relationships with women, and some were even said to have been married to various Goddesses, deified mortals, and other sorts of female beings along with Their homoerotic relationships.

And what about the great virgin Goddess, Artemis? Well, as much as she liked Kallisto, and Britomartis/Diktynna, and various other nymphs or mortal women, she also had favor–which sounds equally non-sexual (or at least ambiguously sexual) with a variety of males, including Hippolytus and Orion…and even Antinous. She might have been rather asexual, but appears to have been romantically bisexual as well. The same is true of so many so-called “lesbians” of the past, including the archetypal Lesbian, Sappho of Lesbos, who in the ancient world gave her name to the concept of “lesbianism” as it was known then and as it is known now, despite her being actually and demonstrably (from her own surviving poetic compositions, anyway) bisexual in her affections. Not unlike many lesbians, at least historically as well as currently, this is true for her…I’ve sometimes jokingly called such individuals “hasbians,” but that hasn’t taken off either. (It’s doing worse than metagender, in fact!)

And for historical males who have been said to be gay but were actually bisexual? Crikey, where do we begin? Alexander the Great, Trajan, Hadrian, Elagabulus (despite his problems in the current context), Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, and a variety of others were more accurately bisexual than “gay,” no matter how much some modern gay triumphalists want to say these (or some other) individuals were “really gay,” or (that lovely phrase of ideologically revisionist historical fantasizing) “would have been gay if they had been able to in their society.” But, there have always been people who were exclusive in their sexual attractions and experience, and though it is rarer in the premodern periods than now, it has happened, so it is entirely possible that any of these individuals could have been “proper gay” (or, in a nice British phrase, “well gay”!) if they had really wanted to be.

While we can’t say anything certain about Antinous historically, we can say that mythically, based on attested traditions, He would have been considered more bisexual (which, in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, would have been “straight” in certain senses!) than strictly “gay” (with the caveat in mind that none of these identities really existed as we define them in the past anyway). The Oxyrhynchus Papyri hymn fragment from the late third century C.E. identifies Selene as the divine agent Who was involved in Antinous’ deification in order to make Him Her bridegroom. But, in more recent years, divination has revealed a fun little thing quite unexpectedly that I have taken as a significant and legitimate theological phenomenon: Antinous is also in some sort of long-term relationship, and even divine marriage, with Melinoë, which some of you may have seen in my recent poetry or fiction.

I utterly refuse to make any argument for any sexual orientation or gender identity being “better” or “best” or “more evolved” (yes, alas, those exact words get used an awful lot of the time in apologetic as well as triumphalist statements within various queer communities, and has done for more than a century now), up to and including my own metagender status (and its pansexual correlate), even though this has been something advanced not only by bisexuals in contrast to strictly gay or lesbian viewpoints, and likewise in some spiritual circles which suggest such individuals are “more spiritually advanced/evolved” and so forth (due to longer reincarnations and being “old souls,” etc.) than those who are monosexual. Call me old fashioned (and I’d take it as a compliment!), but I don’t think that the atrocities of saying one thing, one state, one sort of person is “better” or “higher” than another is a good thing in any context, even when it favors me as being such, but especially when it is a kind of overcompensatory measure when a part of one’s identity has been degraded or oppressed, etc. “Just as good as,” definitely; “better than,” fuck no.

So, bisexuality is just another identity which is as great as any other, has as much right to exist as any other, has as much cause to be celebrated as any other, and technically, has a much greater precedent for being theologically significant in polytheism and polytheist contexts and considerations than any other of the various queer identities. And in the latter statement, I think that’s the newest and most original thing I can say about this topic, and have said about this subject, in a very long time. (Which is lovely, because I wasn’t sure where this was going beyond some of what I say on this day almost every year…!?!)

Whatever sexual orientation you are, may you be just and happy within it, may you never seek to lord it over others or denigrate those who are different, and may you have as much safe and consensual fun as possible with it in your dealings with others!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 21, 2016

Eleusis 2016

From Musaeus (I)

Muses Heavenly, help me sing the praises
of Kaukon, son of Kelainos,
grandson of earth-born Phylos,
worthy heir to bring the Mysteries
of the Goddesses of Eleusis
to Messenia, to initiate Messene
and Polykaon and hallow the grove
of Apollon Karneios for use
in honoring the Great Gods
and the Great Goddesses:
Earth Mother Holy,
the Pure Daughter,
and the maiden offspring
of Perses and Asteria–
She who was born after Zeus
turned Asteria over to Perses
after He had enjoyed Her–
Who among the Samothracians
receives honors among Goddesses
as equally as at Eleusis.

Arcadia’s children were they
who honored the Goddesses thus,
and it was in those mountains
that Poseidon and Demeter met,
as Okeanos and Gaia coming
together in Lykaon’s land.
Offspring had they in Hagne
whom the Arcadians call Despoina,
the Athenians Kore,
the Eleusinians Persephone,
and in Triptolemus, entrusted
by the Holy Earth Mother
with Her secrets and Her Mysteries,
as they had been granted to Kaukon.
He has been held in reserve
upon his dragon-drawn chariot
to ride forth again in time
when the heavens are turned.
With a boar is Apollon honored,
and with rams Hermes receives his due.

When the Holy Earth Mother
was upon the isle of Samothrace
and found joy in Iasion’s embrace
it was then that the Great Gods
came to be known amongst mortals
as They were placed in the stars:
Her son on one side,
Her lover on the other.
And in the Attic lands
before the coming of Athena–
She Who from Zeus’ skull sprang
when Palaimon split it in twain–
the daughter of Metis awaits
the call to lead out the armies
of the Great Goddesses
when the foster-son of Demeter
reaches his maturity in fire,
Demophoön the lamented Hero
and those of the last generation
descended from Tartaros and Nyx.

Okeanos and Aethra together
share a dance of stars,
His seed sent forth into Her
so that it might form
into Eos, Helios, and Selene
(my pure and holy mother)
and the Seven Pleiades
and the Five Hyades–sisters of
the lamented slain hunter Hyas–
who became the nurses
of Dionysos, flame-born
and thrice-generated,
when the Titans had torn Him
and His heart went to Athena,
but His phallus came
to the plains of Samothrace
where the Great Gods
sent it in the dragon-drawn car
to Apollon Karneios’ grove
in Hekate’s star-born care.

O sing, then, Titanic Muses
of the children of the Goddesses
who have kept the Mysteries pure
and dwell in splendor with Them:
Plouton abounding in riches
and Euboleus the wise in counsel.
A time will come when the dead
have been disturbed from their rest,
when scores of dolphins will gather
to honor Apollon and Palaimon
and their mother Mise,
and when all the children
of Holy Earth and Surging Ocean
will call on Eleusis as easily
as they will upon Andania’s grove,
when the Great Gods will dance
and the Great Goddesses will sing
upon waves of crashing earth
and a thousand falling stars
that will ring like drums–

and all the Muses’ arts shall be
the substance of their strength.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 19, 2016

Let Those Who Have Ears Hear

Today is both the Dies Natalis of Antoninus Pius in 86 CE, and also the syncretism festival of Antinous and Eunostos. Today was the first teaching day of the Fall quarter (which went fairly well), and there’s only one day of the season of Summer, proper, left. I had an eye doctor appointment this morning in which I had to get an injection in my left eye, and it has left a kind of “hole” in my vision, which I hope clears up over the next few days, but that’s something new that has never happened before. And, in my second medical marijuana experiment last night, I didn’t get better results for falling asleep or staying asleep, but I was granted an interesting quasi-dream/quasi-not-dream vision of how Mother Marijuana (that’s what I’m calling her until I know otherwise) helps to relieve one’s pain, which was quite cool…and it does seem to be doing a bit in that regard, which is great. I might continue to use it on weekends, as I was pretty dizzy today in the morning (as well as later), and suspect it might have been from that.

I wish I had some devotional material to share with you today for the day’s honorands, but instead I have a longer reflection piece–which I hope isn’t too polemical or political (given this and my attempt to do it this month), but may stray into that arena slightly. Oh well…so, without further ado, here it is.

Many things which are carry-overs from the hegemonic creedal monotheistic religions of the world have infected modern paganism and polytheism over the years. It takes a while to notice some of them and to begin to revise one’s thinking and to adjust to a situation in which such ideas, structures, or assumptions are no longer in operation and are not appropriate. Some are able to do so with relative ease, others take a while longer…and it’s an ongoing thing, and one that very few people are “done” with as an overall process at this stage. It is very difficult to overcome deep structures of language and social organization upon conversion to another religion, and polytheism is no exception, especially when the wider culture actively stands against some of the most basic premises of this religious mindset, as is the case with the modern U.S. (and many other “Western” countries). Sometimes, in the places we least thought, such ideas yet lurk and are ready to pounce if they are not found. But in any case…

There are many such pernicious ideas that have run rampant amongst mainstream pagans as well as polytheists over the last few years (and longer), which have sometimes been identified and checked, but also sometimes not. Unfortunately, fault lines within these movements have often been established along the contours upon which side (though often there are more than two) of the debate one finds oneself, which is often lamentable. Of the various examples of this, I think there is one idea in particular that is the worst of all, at least from my current viewpoint. (Ask me again in two years and I might have a different answer…)

No, it isn’t the ways in which some lore-hounds have used whatever the recognized (often academically-interpreted) mythologies and narratives of their chosen culture as a kind of “bible” in the same way that many Protestants do, i.e. “if it ain’t in there, it ain’t right!” That is a problem and an annoyance, but not the worst possible thing.

No, it isn’t that some people want to worship Jesus, Mary, or various other angels and saints, or even Iao Sabaoth (the Hebrew God–who is not the same as the Christian God or Allah, FYI!), as pagans or polytheists. Yes, Christo-Paganism is a thing, and a fine thing for those who wish to participate in it. Yes, syncretism is a thing, and a thing without which a great deal of what is known from Norse and Irish (amongst other) cultures would not now be available to us. And, it should not be any kind of existential, theological, or any sort of threat at all that these divine beings–however they are understood (as Hero/ines, spirits, egregores, deified abstracts, or whatever)–might be worshipped in addition to and alongside other Deities and divine beings. Any polytheism that is robust should not be threatened in the slightest by the addition of further divine beings and persons, it should be enriched by such.

No, it isn’t “fundamentalism,” which has become a buzz-word that has been used to brand anyone that one might not like with the most unflattering characteristics of the evangelical Christian movements, and to project these assumed characteristics on whomever the target-of-the-day within paganism or polytheism happens to be. What is often meant by this is that the people involved take their religion seriously, take the Deities and other divine beings seriously, and understand that social movements, politics, and other concerns–while they always touch religious subjects (for nothing is outside of the realm of religion to influence)–are not religion-in-themselves. This is a classic case of projection most of the time, and when the parties projected onto are in fact not remotely doing things that smack of Christian fundamentalism, with the exception of “taking the tenets of their chosen religion seriously,” then the question becomes why people are spending their minutes and their pixels focusing upon these polytheists or pagans when there are actual fundamentalists in a variety of other religions who are in positions to do great personal, environmental, and cultural damage (amongst other forms of harm) to others on a wide scale. Shooting at easy targets to have a high from being righteous rather than actually doing something to impact the wider world might make someone feel good on the internet, but does it really do anything useful for anyone other than that person? Probably not…and thus, I don’t think this is the worst problem inherited from creedal hegemonic monotheism, and using the accusation of “fundamentalism” is not a hobby that anyone should indulge, I don’t think, in a polytheist or pagan context.

Is it the attempted institutionalization of certain types of paganism and polytheism? Their increased organization? The fact that some clergy feel they should be compensated for their work? That various forms of infrastructure are desired and sought by a number of people, and they want to work toward creating or building or sustaining them for the future? Nope. (And all of those mainstream pagans who are pagan because they are against all of the structures of religion that they grew up with, no matter what those structures might be in the future with better management and less objectionable content just need to get over their allergies to such matters…I’d hope they might grow out of such views, like some people do with allergies after their teenage years, but given that some of these sentiments are most often and strongly expressed by some in the older generations of non-lineaged modern pagan traditions, I don’t know if that is a realistic hope any longer.)

Is it the organization of theology, and even the admission that there is such a thing as “theology” of which it is important for polytheists, pagans, and others to take heed? No, not even close. (And anyone who thinks this is the case probably needs to have their overall intellectual capacities re-evaluated.)

Is it that some people have personal relationships with Deities in, it is assumed, the same way that some Christians say they have personal relationships with Jesus? Is being too fervent in devotion the problem? Is it even that some Deities have relationships with Their devotees that involve the concepts of soteriology–of “salvation” and “being saved”–and even of both personal/soul-level as well as cosmic-level eschatologies? Not a chance–that’s a long-standing thing that has existed in the ancient Greek cultures (amongst many others) for millennia, and certainly long before anyone ever heard of some dude from Nazareth.

Then, could it be investing authority in priests and other clergy and other trained and lineaged persons? The only people for whom such a matter would be a problem are hard-core Proestants, and their eclectic Wiccan and other forms of mainstream pagan heirs (whether they recognize themselves as such or not), who don’t think there should be any intermediaries between them and any/all divine beings, and are not amenable to any kind of hierarchy, or who don’t recognize any possibility that someone might know a bit more or have easier access to certain spiritual information or resources as a good thing, or even actually exists. Whether or not it’s good is something to take up with powers greater than myself; but the fact is, this is a condition which does exist in an objective sense: not everyone knows everything that everyone else does (and “everything” also includes acquaintance with various divine beings!), and as a result not everyone is equal in every spiritual situation or context. Perhaps on a basic existential level, we all have a common level of respect that we are due as sentient beings; but beyond that, our differences do matter, and matter intensely where certain religious situations are concerned. Not everyone can be a sacrificial priest, a diviner, a ritual leader, an initiator into certain Mysteries, an exegete, or a devotee of any and every Deity that comes along at a high level on the first try, amongst a giant variety of other possibilities, for reasons up to and including people’s varying talents and lacks thereof, adequate or inadequate training, or the presence or absence of certain forms of spiritual experience with particular Deities…and many other reasons besides. So, no, this isn’t any kind of major problem, I don’t think, for anyone that thinks for more than a few seconds about it.

Then, could it be that there are “rules” involved? Ethical standards? Moral guidelines? Suggestions for what a good life is and by what good behavior is constituted? Some people in the past few years have tried to argue that paganism, at least, “has no rules” and anyone who tries to make them for it is being a bit “too Christian” (with that label meaning “morally authoritarian and/or prescriptive”). That lack of rules and standards, objectively, where many forms of mainstream paganism are concerned, may very well be the case–which is one of many reasons I try not to have too much to do with the mainstream pagan communities any longer. But, having rules and expectations of behavior, and minimum requirements for participation in certain events or for membership in certain groups is not a Christian holdover; it’s human nature and the nature of organized social life amongst humans–whether religious or otherwise–ever since humans began working together as a species. It’s older than religion, folks, so if it is a holdover, it’s one that is far older and more primal and important than that to which Christianity could ever aspire.

Then, could it be any concepts of Deities that might in any way have relations to what Christians and Muslims are required to believe of their Deities? I don’t think so; no, for the most part, our Deities are not all of the “omni-” categories that are ascribed to “true-and-only divinity” in hegemonic creedal monotheist contexts, and yet They can have some of those characteristics under certain circumstances, as I’ve written about here two months ago.

So, then, of all of these matters–and many more which I’m sure could be named and which might have been matters of contention at particular times over the past few decades (and if you have further ones I’m missing, feel free to mention them in the comments below!)–what is the one that is the most pernicious, in P.S.V.L.’s perceptions, at the moment?

I would argue that the biggest thing that polytheists (and, I’d suggest, mainstream pagans as well, but I have no standing to do so) should try not to copy from creedal hegemonic monotheism is the following notion, which has been a cornerstone of both Christianity and Islam ever since each of them had political hegemony: namely, the notion that “error has no rights.” Read that again, and really understand it: the notion that error has no rights is a pernicious idea in creedal hegemonic monotheistic religions and the cultures they spawn which is absolutely against every fiber of a polytheist mindset and its expected (and generally observed) pluralism, tolerance, and appreciation for diversity and variety. It is something which–despite all of its many flaws and its many failures–the American democratic system and especially the First Amendment of the Constitution (which provides six specific rights: the establishment clause/not having a government-mandated religion; the free exercise of religion; freedom of speech [and expression]; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly [and, I think, freedom of association is included in this]; and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances) articulates exceptionally well. The First Amendment should be something that every American citizen knows thoroughly, as our most important, sacrosanct, and sovereign rights as citizens are enshrined in it, and while it has been chipped away in various ways and on various occasions (often for rather nefarious reasons), often when such cases come up in the Supreme Court, they are decided in favor of upholding those rights rather than abridging them.

If you don’t like something, you should be able to say so, and should be able to debate and discuss and deliberate over it in public or in private; and, whether we like it or not, people also have the ability to demean and derogate and disrespect others in speech and writing as well, as long as it is not libelous. Where such activities of the latter sort can occur is something which can be regulated–one doesn’t have to put up with it on one’s blog comments, or in one’s house or place of work, or other such contexts. While I always hope interactions and discussions can avoid such tactics, it doesn’t always work, and I am not always able to abide by that ideal myself, which I freely admit. But, people are still free to act in that way, no matter how much we may not like nor approve of them doing so. As long as it remains in the realm of legality, and does not become either cyber- or actual stalking, libel, or other such things, people can and will do it…it doesn’t take much poking about the internet to see this is something that occurs all over the place with such frequency it is often sickening to take in, but there it is.

There are all sorts of people and things and activities that I don’t particularly like, and that all things considered I wish didn’t happen: racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, general ignorance, religious discrimination, classism, corporate domination of increasingly more areas of human endeavor, and the list goes on…but, guess what? It’s a free country, and the people who do those things and espouse those viewpoints have just as much right to do so as I do to espouse my own, and to oppose theirs. (As much as I like Warren Ellis’ words–“You are not entitled to your opinion; you are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to ignorance”–sadly, entitlement to ignorance is one of the most cherished of privileges that many Americans have, and they’re proud to declare it loudly.) I know some people absolutely hate what I write and what I say simply because I’m the one saying it, and they’re free to think that. I try not to think that of other people if and when possible, though I certainly avoid reading things by people for whom I don’t have a great deal of affection. When I write something, I don’t write with all of my potential critics in mind, or else I’d never say a word at all. If the criticism becomes known to me, I can consider it or discard it as appropriate; but if I never know about it, then I don’t really care about it.

All of this to say: I think part of being a mature citizen in this society (again, with all of its flaws unflinchingly acknowledged) is learning to be comfortable with the fact that not everyone acts as one might prefer they do, nor is everyone going to think well of oneself either. As Adam Phillips said very memorably to me in 1997, when I asked about how the lived experience of those who don’t always play by the roles which they’re expected to can best occur, his statement was that one must “allow others the freedom to hate oneself.” It’s been one of the most useful lessons I’ve ever learned in my life, I think. We always hope for better, certainly, but one literally cannot please everyone, nor should one even attempt to try.

Unfortunately, over the last year, more and more people who might have unpopular (or even “wrong”) ideas have been not only criticized, but have been silenced, shunned, or prevented from engaging in their work in a variety of contexts within mainstream paganism, and occasionally even in polytheism. While event runners can certainly say “Not here,” and no one has any inherent right for their contributions to be included in any larger collaborative event, the idea that someone might have done something which someone else didn’t like then gets used to exclude someone or some group from an event…there, that’s where things have gone over the line. Having been the recipient of threats of this several years back (which, luckily, came to nothing), I’m especially worried when it happens to other people, and I’ve seen it happen to many over the last year.

The idea underlying such viewpoints, I think, is that one I mentioned above: error has no rights. If you’re what I decide or deem is “wrong,” then suddenly you are no longer a human being. You don’t deserve to be respected, you don’t deserve to be heard, and any arguments you make are automatically not logical, not sane, and are frankly NOT ALLOWED. Not only should you be mocked mercilessly and turned away from all civilized persons and their doings, but your livelihood and your relationships and your every aspect of life should be undermined…because you’re wrong, and you need to understand how wrong all of us think you are by having your very existence questioned and your rights ignored until you are no longer wrong.

The “you” and the “I” in the majority of that last paragraph is a theoretical “you” and “I,” because the actual “I” who is P.S.V.L. certainly does not think along those lines, and would never do anything of that sort. I can and do disagree with many people on many issues, large and small, but I am not about to assume that I’m allowed to indoctrinate others into the “right” way of thinking that I have determined for everyone. If they ask me for advice or guidance, then we might work something out, or if they are taking a class with me, then there are parameters of such relationships that are presumed in such an arrangement; but, that’s very different than setting out to right all of what one sees as wrong in the world by enforcing a single idea, or even a small number of approved viewpoints, on all people, and that universal agreement and approbation is expected and demanded as a consequence. That isn’t a form of thought that is healthy, secure, or remotely mature, and I think most psychologists, sociologists, and others would agree such is the case. People in certain religions–like the hegemonic creedal monotheistic ones–of course think that is their right, but because “they’re right,” and no one else is, they thus have that right in a tautological fashion…and one should beware of few things as timidly as tautologies.

[This entire situation seems especially strange in some forms of modern mainstream paganism, since it has been repeatedly emphasized and re-emphasized over the past few years that “no one makes the rules” for paganism, and there are no rules for it…other than the ones that say some people can be drummed out of it if their views don’t match those of the majority, even if the people concerned only keep to themselves and aren’t seeking to harm or influence people outside of their own group or to do anything to the larger movement. But, again, I don’t have any investment in that group as a whole or in part, so this is just an observation on how quickly such non-rule rules fall apart relatively easily and quickly. I’ve seen several statements and hashtags and such that are to the effect of “Not In My Paganism!” That may be very well for one’s own paganism, but what about someone else’s? If this kind of argument is used to deprive others of the pagan label if they self-select it, then it seems at odds with what the very essence of paganism has set itself up as over the last few years, i.e. something that can mean anything one wants it to so long as it is a self-selected and self-applied label.]

The Christians and the Muslims have a more direct way of dealing with this kind of thing, especially in situations where they did or do have the political establishment in a given culture or location on their side as well: they killed such people. Heretics, schismatics, free-thinkers, or anyone who didn’t espouse the party line was “free” to have their continued right to existence removed at the pleasure of those who decided what was right or wrong for everyone. Error had no rights, and the right to live is one such right which those who were in error forfeited for their errors.

Does that sound fucking disgusting and crazy to anyone else? Does that sound like something that is useful to anyone other than those who are pushing one and only one viewpoint–theirs–as what should be acceptable, accessible to others, and even “the norm”? Does that sound like something laudable that mainstream pagans or polytheists should decide “Yes, indeed, I want this because it’s THE BEST” and we should therefore emulate it and begin enacting it in our own contexts on a much greater and more pervasive scale? If your answer is “yes” to that latter question, please stop reading this blog and never look at it again.

Even with the greatest intentions for trying to remove injustice and inequity from the world and reducing its impact on others, this sort of situation takes it just a bit too far, I think. As someone who is as liberal-as-fuck, in the original sense of not only liberated (and hopefully liberating in what I do in the world) but also generous (in terms of the allowances I presuppose all others have to do as they might wish), it goes against every fiber of my being to suggest that someone else should not be able to do what they want, publicly or privately, as long as it is legal (and preferably it is also consensual–so, anyone who verbally abuses others who have not agreed to be verbally abused by them is doing something that I don’t really think is a good thing, for example), simply because I don’t approve of it or agree with it. I am not a monist, and don’t think it’s “all one” and thus such difference are irrelevant; and I certainly am someone who will speak against certain viewpoints that I find to be unfair or unjust, and will even do more than that under certain circumstances. But, as long as the people and institutions who think those things aren’t able to prevent my access to a restroom, or to impede me from obtaining my basic civil rights, access to a livelihood and healthcare and so forth, they can preach and so on as much as they like. If they had their way, they’d prefer I be silenced or even killed in many cases, and have said so; but I’m someone who tries not to return bad for bad, personally. If they come banging at my door with torches and pitchforks, they’ll get a fight; but if it’s just talk, let them talk.

Things far less dangerous than that kind of talk are not being accepted by some folks these days, and the people holding those “wrong” viewpoints are being disrespected in ways that indicate those who are treating them thus consider them to have no rights because of their error. This isn’t good polytheism, it’s bad hegemonic creedal monotheism. Let’s not do that, shall we?

There’s something else that is related to this, I think, that has often become confused in many of the matters in question. Let’s say a particular group has certain requirements, restrictions, or other factors that allow some people to participate in them but prevent others from doing so. Maybe a group is gender-restricted, or age-restricted, or even race-restricted. Now, I am not in favor of any of those things as restrictions for membership in a group, but if the people in those groups really want to construct them as such, they can have a field day with it for all I care. I might speak against them, or question why they would feel the need to create such restrictions, but they’re still free to do that. I might decide not to attend an event they are putting on (even if it did allow me to enter, which it probably wouldn’t), or to buy the books that their members or leaders write, or to take classes from them; and even if I weren’t specifically excluded from joining for one of the reasons they indicate, I still wouldn’t join them because of their exclusivity and discriminatory practices. But, they still have a right to exist. I won’t protest their events, or try to get their venues to not rent to them, or try to shut down the group or do harm to those within it just because I think they’re wrong. Lots of people are “wrong” but aren’t directly hurting anyone (even if they are hurting their own members’ abilities to relate to others or think critically in many cases…but, people also decide to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, and those can do the same, but they’re also legal!). If they’re not inciting lynch mobs, assaulting others, or carrying out comprehensive strategies to disenfranchise and oppress others actively, let them think whatever small-minded nonsense they want.

If a group, an activity, a tradition, or a teacher has requirements of their students that I don’t agree with, it isn’t any of my business, and I don’t have to take a class from them or join them, etc. But likewise, they have the right to construct their activities as they see fit, and to impose whatever requirements they might prefer on those who self-select to be a part of those groups, those teachings, and so forth. You might disagree, and thus might find that you never want to associate with that person or that group, and that’s fine. But, don’t assume others will, or may not willingly assent to such limitations or requirements if it suits their own purposes to do so. Just because someone doesn’t like something doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t ever exist.

As polytheists, we know what happens to Deities and other divine beings who are rejected, and what They can become…and it doesn’t take too many encounters with Set or Loki to realize how very bad an idea it might be to wholesale condemn someone or something one doesn’t particularly like.

I am reminded in this of a lesson I learned early, in the first few weeks of my senior year of high school. During my senior year, I was on the senior class cabinet because the president was a friend of mine who respected my thoughtful opinions (even though I wasn’t one of the “popular crowd” and so forth), and I was also the editor of our high school yearbook, so it was important to have the inside line from me on certain matters pertaining to the privileges of the senior class in the annual. We had our first senior class meeting that year, probably in September of 1993, and I was given the podium to make a few announcements. One of the things I announced was that we would be selling page sponsorships in the senior class pictures section to pay for the color pages we had therein, and thus I distributed a form detailing how to do that. There were a few questions on whether one could sponsor more than one page, if one could specify which page one wanted to sponsor, if more than one parent or person could sponsor one page, and so forth…the usual logistical questions. Then, one semi-professional shit-stirrer decided that he’d just throw a fit over the whole thing, stood up and began a rant saying “If I took this bullshit home to my parents, they’d laugh in my face to think that they should pay to sponsor pages in our yearbook!” He then went on for a few more minutes along those lines, and a few people were getting annoyed with it, and at last I said into the microphone, “Look, if they don’t want to sponsor a page, they don’t have to–problem solved.” I got a standing ovation from my class (the first one I ever had!), and it amazed me not just that I was being applauded for saying that–though it was more that I had irrefutably shut up someone that many people found annoying who was complaining for no reason–but that I had to point out that this was an opt-in matter and not in any way a requirement, and thus no one absolutely had to do it, or was being made to feel bad or excluded for not doing it (or would necessarily be better off for having done it!).

I think the entire notion of “If you don’t like something, and you don’t have to do it, then there shouldn’t be a problem” is a rather simple one, and an easy one to actualize in one’s life in order to save one’s blood pressure, a great deal of worry, and a lot of hassle. However, as the years are going on, I’m finding more and more that this simple notion is one that far too many people, especially on the internet in this imprecise and impersonal form of communication (if it can indeed be called that!), is entirely unknown, or perhaps more simply unheeded. We could all probably be accomplishing a great deal more if we spent less time critiquing things we don’t like, and especially expending our efforts to make sure that those who hold viewpoints to which we object are no longer able to exist because we don’t like their views, and more actually doing what we think would be useful, and offering alternatives to those things we don’t like that are worthy and exemplary of what we think is a better viewpoint and a better approach.

But, I also realize that in spending this much time writing about this, I could probably have spent the time better on one of my many devotional projects. Oh well…

I am writing this, though, to ask those who have ideas along the lines of “error has no rights” to reconsider that viewpoint, and how damaging it is, and how it has been one of the most destructive and negative consequences of a hegemonic creedal monotheistic viewpoint. Perhaps we don’t need to be “tolerant of intolerance” (I’d say we don’t!), nor do we need to be entirely permissive and relativistic in our approach to religious and other matters; but, as soon as I think my disapproval of another’s views gives me some right to undermine any of their rights–first and foremost their right to exist, but others as well–then I know I am falling into an egregious error, and one that should be easily avoided, critiqued, and rejected for the bullshit that it has always been.

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