Compromise is NOT an Option

Pantheon
There’s a trend I see often in the community and it’s been rearing its ugly head of late quite a bit. It makes my soul want to tighten up into a fretful little ball and yell ‘no, no, no, no” to any who might listen. I’d intended to write this post on Yule and all the many traditions with which Heathens might celebrate this holiest of holy tides but obviously I’ve decided to side track myself a bit. This is more important. What is the trend of which I speak? Well, it’s the push to compromise our traditions for the comfort of the mainstream, be that Paganism, or the Abrahamic majority religions. It’s the push to cull everything potentially “problematic” to the mediocre middle class WASP America, or to liberal hippy parts of Pagan America out of our traditions.

Leaving aside the question of why we should care in the least what those outside of our traditions think, I’ll admit to not comprehending in the least what goes through people’s minds when they actually advocate tearing our traditions apart in such a fashion. I wonder if perhaps the idea of compromise hasn’t become such a liberal fetish that it’s a knee jerk reaction when confronted with the true diversity that Polytheism offers. I’ll also admit upfront that I”m not much of a fan of “compromise.” My friend Anomalous Thracian summed it up nicely “when a ship is compromised, that’s not a good thing.” It’s not a good thing with our traditions either.

This came up quite a bit with those opposed to animal sacrifice, a core and very sacred practice in many polytheisms. Leaving aside the would-be humanitarian objections (from people who’d never actual witnessed sacrifice, I might add), the objections were largely one of the following:

1. It’s primitive. We’re more evolved than our ancestors. We don’t want people to think we’re not modern.
2. It makes me uncomfortable and it will make [insert mainstream religion here] uncomfortable too.

I could write a whole article on the question of whether or not religion is supposed to cater to our comfort but I’ll save that for another column. I’ve seen these same objections cropping up when the question of mysticism, possessory work, ecstatic rituals, ordeal, and many other key practices that transformed our religions into deeply experiential avenues of Mystery. In fact, I think this push to cull certain things from our religions is at its heart an attempt to destroy and remove any trace of Mystery. It’s a continuation of the Protestant Reformation: a deep discomfort with magic, mysticism, and Mystery itself.

Moreover, it’s an attempt to reduce our traditions to the lowest common denominator in some misguided search for egalitarianism. Well, traditions aren’t. They never were. This especially holds true for those that encompassed some form of Mystery. It’s the dirty little dark secret of spirituality: spiritual experiences aren’t given in anything representing an egalitarian manner. Those who can, do; and those who can’t bitch, whine, and moan about how dangerous these practices are, and how we oughtn’t have them (instead, I might add, of doing a bit of spiritual discernment to see what gifts may be theirs. That lack of discernment deprives the whole community of what such people actually could be contributing which may be equally valuable and necessary. Diversity: yay).

More than anything else, we must be aware of the impulse to seek unity through homogenization. This is the lure of monotheism. It is the lure of any unity movement. It is a false hope, setting the stage for the corruption of our traditions. You do not gain anything commensurate with the value of what you might be sacrificing. Diversity is our strength and one of the things that makes our traditions so beautiful. Acceptability in the eyes of the mainstream, fitting in, not making waves are things that will never succeed. There will always be some fault found with us until we have chipped away at our traditions, to the point that nothing is left. That is just taking into consideration human nature. I have not yet begun to speak about it from the point of theology. I’ll save that for my upcoming post at polytheist.com.

(photo by Mary Ann Glass)

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About ganglerisgrove

Free-range tribalist Heathen, Galina Krasskova, has been a priest of Odin and Loki since the early nineties. Originally ordained in the Fellowship of Isis in 1995, Ms. Krasskova also attended the oldest interfaith seminary in the U.S.- the New Seminary where she was ordained in 2000 and where she later worked as Dean of Second Year Students for the Academic year of 2011-2012. She has even given the opening prayer at the United Nations Conference “Women and Indigeny”. Beyond this, she took vows as a Heathen gythia in 1996 and again in 2004, She is the head of Comitatus pilae cruentae and a member of the Starry Bull tradition. She has been a member of numerous groups through the years including the American Academy of Religion. She has also served previously as a state government contracted expert on the Asatru faith, and been a regular contributor to various print and online publications geared towards modern pagans and polytheists, and for a time had her own radio program: Wyrd Ways Radio Live. Ms. Krasskova holds diplomas from The New Seminary (2000), a B.A. in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Religious Studies from Empire State College (2007), and an M.A. in Religious Studies from New York University (2009). She has completed extensive graduate coursework in Classics (2010-2016) and is pursuing a Masters in Medieval Studies at Fordham University (expected graduation 2019) with the intention of eventually doing a PhD in theology. She has also been teaching University classes in Greek and Latin. As part of her academic career Ms. Krasskova has written a number of academic articles, and also presented at various academic conferences including Harvard University, Claremont University, Fordham University, Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, Villanova University, and the City University of New York. An experienced diviner and ordeal master, her primary interest is in devotional work and the reconstruction of Northern Tradition shamanism. Her very first book, The Whisperings of Woden was the landmark first devotional text to be written in modern Heathenry. Ms. Krasskova has a variety of published books available running the gamut from introductory texts on the Northern Tradition, as well as books on shamanism, runes, prayer, and devotional practices. She is also the managing editor of “Walking the Worlds,” a peer-reviewed academic style journal focusing on contemporary polytheism and spirit work and the first journal of polytheology. While very busy with teaching and school, she does also occasionally lecture around the country on topics of interest to contemporary Heathenry and polytheisms. A passionate supporter of the arts Ms. Krasskova enjoys going to the opera, theater, and ballet. Her affection for the arts began early as she discovered dance, which she pursued professionally becoming a ballet dancer: first with a regional company in Maryland, then in New York City. After suffering career ending injuries, she would find new forms of expression in the visual arts. For a few years Ms. Krasskova co-owned an art gallery in the Hudson River Valley of New York, and over a course of numerous years she has studied a multitude of art mediums: glassblowing, watercolor, acrylic, photography and more! She is now an avid collage artist, acrylic painter and watercolorist and has even enjoyed placement in international artist-in-residencies programs in New York, New Mexico, and Poland. Her work has been exhibited globally from New York to Paris. She has taken her passion for the arts and polytheistic devotion, to create the Prayer Card Project. Since so much religious iconography has been destroyed, or defaced in the course of human history, she is actively making new religious prayers and iconography available to the various modern polytheistic communities to support those who are building their religious communities, building their devotional practices, and hungering for art that represents their religious faith. All while also supporting the artists within these burgeoning communities.

Posted on December 13, 2014, in Polytheism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Primitive is not always inferior and modern is not always better. (And the converse is true- I don’t care for the attitude that we should reject doing X because it’s modern) WASPy mainline Protestant America is also disintegrating currently- I don’t think it makes sense to imitate what is already failing. I may not be as hardcore about some things as you, but I do think discomfort is a sign of spiritual growth! Problem is, when spirituality is totally a choice it’s hard to avoid the consumerist mentality. I’ve mostly given up on Pagan groups because most people you can barely get to show up and make an effort to do anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i can not like this enough. this is so incredibly amazing. thank you for posting it.

    Liked by 1 person

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