Good Fences Make the Best Neighbors

I was so sorry to miss Many Gods West (MGW) and I really want to thank Rhyd Wildermuth, Niki Whiting, and PSVL for putting it on. I know exactly the amount of hard work and stress that goes into planning and running a conference, and also how necessary this type of work is for community building. Really great job folks. I am so so sorry I wasn’t able to be there. If i weren’t just getting back from a three week pilgrimage and beyond exhausted, I’d have been right there with you all. For those who haven’t had a chance to read the various recaps, I recommend this (John Beckett Rocks!!), this, and this and this. (I so wish i could have attended the Bakcheion rite!) 🙂

Of course not all the recaps were unvarnished delight. I just read Jason Mankey’s account and I have a few things I want to say in response. Firstly, this amuses me to no end. Mankey is so representative of Wiccanate privilege and it saturates everything he sees and everything he writes about especially in this article. Obviously, he was so intensely bothered (he mentions it several times) that what Wiccans do, what Pagans do was largely irrelevant at Many Gods West. He’s rather peevish about it too.

It also seems to really bother him that he wasn’t treated as a celebrity (he goes on a bit about how out he is as a Pagan and how a google search will turn him up *rolls eyes*. Sannion told me that while manning registration to help Rhyd and folks out, Mankey came to check in and was really put off when Sannion didn’t recognize him right away. This really reads as though he wants very much to detract and dismiss and even say nasty things about MGW but can’t come up with a way to do that without looking like total ass lint. The cognitive pain this seems to give him is palpable throughout the article.

I do wonder why he purposely notes “people who self identify as polytheists…” — that’s always warning language in academia– and i wonder why he felt the need to use that particular phrase here, as though casting subtle question on our legitimacy. Of course, it goes without saying that I consider Mankey anything but an ally in our work. I’ve been watching him for awhile now, and while I don’t think he’s as bad as some (di zerega, halstead, et al), I do think he bears watching.

This article is a perfect example: the way he describes us and the conference is very, very subtly condescending. he uses a lot of negative imagery: compares us to a revival meeting (not a positive image if you think about it but rather one that implies blind fundamentalism), questions polytheists’ connectivity and ability to meet our goals, and refers to the MGW key-note as ‘goofy’ (when with decades of service to the Morrigan she is anything but) and note he completely avoids mentioning any of the not insignificant Dionysian presence. This is especially notable when compared with other accounts of the conference, which provide a very different emotional tenor. For instance, this article notes:

“One of the things that I noticed about Many Gods West is that even though the group gathered at the event was diverse and varied with attendees coming from a broad spectrum of religious practices, there was a noticeable air of respect and courtesy towards each other and each other’s practices. As a matter of fact, the only real display of discourtesy that I witnessed came from someone who seemed to be struggling with the feeling that they had of not being included in the Polytheist “group”. I find this very interesting.”

 I think Mankey’s article really shows his animosity toward us, and I point that out because it’s a good example of what we all too often face in the Pagan and Wiccan communities.

He talks about how the feelings MGW brought out in him were different from other conferences, and says he doesn’t mean to be bleak….well, reading this, it’s clear that what bothered him was not being in a position of privilege and i think we can all learn from this. His comment that the Pagan umbrella has ‘a lot less leaks when we drink cider” together is telling as well. I think that this is one of the reasons that no matter how hard we try, people constantly want to wrench the work and the focus back to people and not the Gods….it’s less challenging.

In a way, i am really appreciative of Mankey for writing so honestly about this, because it shows the authentic divides between our respective communities and we can’t pretend those don’t exist. The more we are able to recognize our differences, the more we can adequately protect our traditions, and the more we will ultimately be able to get along, but that has to begin with recognition of those differences and respect for space.

EDIT: I apologize if anything I said here was taken as a personal attack on Jason. I had no intention of hurting him and this is the farthest thing from personal for me. This is about theology, ideas, and community politics. I try to leave my personal feelings about people out of those discussions (and i have no personal feelings toward Jason. I don’t know him). That being said, I realize that this is a medium of communication prone to misunderstanding and I take full responsibility for my the consequences of my words intentional and others;  and i want to take special care here to make it clear, that despite my stated objections above, I have no ill will toward Jason  personally and respect what he’s doing for his Gods and community. We need all our voices to make Polytheism and Paganism grow. 


Posted on August 7, 2015, in community, Polytheism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. I agree entirely…It does read exactly like a white person complaining that at a Black Lives Matter demonstration, there wasn’t enough attention paid to them; or that at an LGBTQIA+ Pride event, it’s sad that they didn’t feel more embraced as a straight person (forget “straight ally,” as he’s not even claiming something comparable to that). That he essentially argued that he as a Wiccan is a polytheist, but then disclaims *everyone else* at the event as “people who self-identify as polytheist” kind of gives the game away pretty badly…

    The events that were defining and often life-altering at the whole conference were not ones that he attended (by choice), and his comments on it pretty much fit with what I’ve known of him for a long time–he has no interest in ritual (you know, those things we do that aren’t about us and instead are about the Deities!) unless he is putting it on. He made the comparison, at the Patheos Pagan Intrafaith discussion at PantheaCon a few years ago (which there is a recording of, so people can check on this if they like), of going to other people’s rituals in the following way: he said he’d be willing to have a drink with anyone, but not to have sex with anyone, and the exact same thing is true of his approach to going to others’ rituals…which kind of puts a damper on the whole “we’re all about practice” talk that so many pagans make, in my view.

    No matter how much he talks of being a Dionysian, I would thus wonder: why wasn’t he at Bakcheion? Yes, there are often very good reasons for not going to certain rituals, including unexpected ones like feeling a bit sick or what-have-you, but to not attend anything that was ritual-related at a conference like this, then to complain about it showing the leaks in the pagan umbrella when the whole event was designed to be an entirely different umbrella…well, anyway, you get the point.

    I was uneasy with him presenting in the first place, and I’m even more regretful now that I didn’t push harder to reconsider allowing his presentation (which I suspect could be summarized in the title and would thus not require a 90-minute slot!) in our program.

    I tried to be diplomatic in my response to him on his post there…but his only comeback to me was “I didn’t hate it.” I can say the same thing for so many things that are unpleasant. That’s not even damning with faint praise, alas.

    Liked by 8 people

    • I’m kind of amazed that anyone would go to a religious conference of any kind and not attend any of the rituals. I mean, just, why?

      Liked by 1 person

      • ganglerisgrove

        well, i rarely do…..i have some major gessa and taboos around ritual, and major purity taboos. I am very careful about the rites i attend because if they’re disrespectful or poorly run that has consequences. So i can get not attending rituals…..but I seriously doubt taboo is the reason in Mankey’s case.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I’m betting if you’d gone to MGW, you would have attended some rituals with a clear conscience.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Aaaand…he’s deleted his comment reply to me, it seems…

      Well, for posterity, here it is:

      “I didn’t say I hated anything, or that it wasn’t enjoyable. It was certainly stimulating (there are a lot of thoughts in my 1100 words) and yes we can all work together. Spar was my favorite moment of the weekend, but it wasn’t the only time I enjoyed myself.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ironically, I, as a Wiccan, have never understood why any Wiccan would think that other people should believe and do what Wiccans do. Either like diversity or not, but we cannot claim to have it both ways. “We love diversity, but everyone must do it my way.” That makes no sense at all. Freely tell anyone to butt out. NO is a powerful magic word that is never used near enough. It sets boundaries, and earns respect, when used often.

      I find nothing wrong with the polytheists creating a safe place for themselves. Nothing nicer than being somewhere where you can feel comfortable and your don’t have to defend yourself all the time.

      I am sorry that you didn’t make it to Many Gods West, because I am sure from what I have read that you would have loved it. Still the body can only do so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I read this and then hopped over to Patheos to read his and I was a little disappointed. I *like* that feeling of being with other genuine polytheists, of other people who genuinely believe in deity or at very least fully behave as though they do. Although Jason also has identified as a Polytheist, the article feels like he’s listing away from embracing that. That’s fine, if that’s where he is, but it’s sad to see what feels like a dismissal at genuine polytheist culture.

    I have wondered about what he said about our different traditions being able to work together as a movement, but things like Many Gods West gives me hope for that rather than detracting from that possibility in my mind. On the other hand, the only thing that’s drawn my interest at Sirius Rising the last three or four years have been the Heathen and Polytheist workshops; I accused one presenter of ruining my “lazy, eclectic, firedancing Neopagan festival by turning it into Heathen woo bootcamp for me”… and thanked her for it immediately afterwards.

    Of course, I wasn’t at MGW so I don’t know for sure. The only thing I do know is how powerful that keynote address was for me. I read it as it’s posted up at now, and it really spoke powerfully to me. I guess not everyone is going to get similar things out of these experiences.

    His reaction reminds me of those I’ve seen of cisgender gay men coming into trans space and getting upset that the focus isn’t about them, and how uncomfortable and sometimes outraged they get because of that. I hope that I’m misreading or misunderstanding tone, but that’s very much what it felt like.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve had a good deal of opportunity to interact with Jason, and here’s my perspective: as both a polytheist and a Wiccan, he is bothered and maybe a bit hurt by the split that is reinforced by conferences such as MGW.

      Personally, I think it’s a split that will eventually have to become more pronounced, as Polytheists will generally have slightly different goals and approaches than other Pagans. But I can see how it would be off-putting to someone who identifies both ways; a place where he has been happy as both a polytheist and a Wiccan seems to be fracturing, and that would be hurtful.

      Honestly, I am pretty bothered by the personal attacks. As far as I know, he’s never argued that Polytheists don’t have a place, or that they must stay and identify as Pagan. I can understand his feelings, and I hate to see him attacked over them.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I can understand how he could feel that way. Again, the parallels to similar situations in the LGBT right movement are pretty astounding.

        We do have different goals and ideals. I still enjoy going to Pagan events, but I’ll be honest; I find most of the workshops to be, de-contextualized magical instruction, of a very basic level. A lot of the folks aren’t there for mystery or spiritual experiences, and that’s okay, but has showed me a potential divide with those of us who are.

        Perhaps as the divide widens Polytheistic Wiccans can act as a bridge in our communities.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, PSVL, we posted at about the same time with a lot of similar thoughts. I owe you a coke when I get out West. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. His blog really demonstrated the fundamental discomfort that non polytheists who view individual deities are archetypes really have with the polytheistic world view. It is this fundamental difference in world view and spirituality (including the intense devotion that he derisively associates with being at a revival) is quite telling. Considering that polytheists have different ritual structure and fundamental practices regarding worship, I don’t understand either the obvious butthurt that polytheists weren’t really interested in Wiccan practice for spiritual foundations such as with the role of children. His article read to me like one massive butthurt that it wasn’t more in line with the generic pagan scene and a clear tone that it made general pagan conferences better which are led by Wiccan majority that can give an allusion of cohesiveness. It was quite clear that lack of cohesion being so prominently to light disturbed him on a fundamental level. Just as he rejects that the gods themselves are not unique and different, he doesn’t want to see other people “under the pagan umbrella” that are vastly different from Wiccans and are even different from each other. He sees the difference as a vulnerability and short coming where in fact it is a strength of our culture and the whole point of the independent Polytheistic focus of people…that we value our differences which is part of the cohesion right there. Mutual respect and support of our individual polytheistic cultures. Yet the only place he found any comfort with polytheists was at a bar with the religious part obviously absent. I guess I just don’t understand why he bothered going. If he is such a high profile blogger then you would think that he would know by now where the polytheistic stance is and that it was not his thing before he went. But yeah, fences do make better neighbors. Both sides are happier without the other being in their space…..or at least most polytheists are happier lol.

    Liked by 5 people

    • It’s confusing though, because I’ve seen him protest on his blog and in other spaces that he is a hard polytheist. I don’t understand why he has such an issue with it if that’s how he “self identifies” (blargle).

      Liked by 5 people

      • I think the issue is between being a polytheist (believing in many gods) and being a Polytheist (generally, a person who believes in many gods and also does not identify as Pagan or Wiccan and believes polytheists need their own space). Jason identifies as the former, but from what I’ve heard him say, generally does not agree with the latter.


      • thetinfoilhatsociety

        I don’t think he truly can be. Not if he is Wiccan. Wiccan theology is basically duotheist, or pantheist. I have never identified as Wiccan but I have decades of experience with this community, having tried to build community in the general Neopagan scene for those same decades. For a while I thought of myself as pantheistic, and in some sense I still do: a liver cell is not the same as a lung cell is not the same as a skin cell but they all are part of the same body – and I relate to the Gods in a higher sense in this way as well. They are all part of a higher unified cosmology which in no sense devalues their individual identities. But for me, ultimately, they ARE individuals. Calling Odin Jupiter is likely to get both of them pissed off at me in much the same way that expecting lung cells to perform the cleansing function of the liver cells will work out ever so well for the body.

        Polytheism in Wicca as is understood here just doesn’t exist, and the opening talk that I read reblogged somewhere really, truly, clearly brought this to the fore. The fact that he could dismiss her talk as “goofy” says volumes about the true level of his polytheism…as in it doesn’t exist. He has relationships with archetypes, not Gods.

        Just my humble opinion, and I don’t mean to sound offensive or dismissive, I just think the essential differences in religious outlook and worldview are really highlighted by both his post, the conference itself, and the reactions of others both to his post and the conference.


  5. ganglerisgrove

    Absolutely, Merri-Todd. I”d have been doing at least the Dionysian ones. 🙂 There were actually several I wanted to attend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I notice this guy seems to be an archetypist from the article? I’ve never, ever understood the whole ‘gods are archetypes’ thing, it just seems like another version of Monism.

    Why attend something like that if he felt the way he does? I wouldn’t go to a purely Wiccan event for the very reason that I *would* feel decidedly out of place.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. We are the Wicca. Lower your IQ and surrender your Gods. We will add your cultural distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Or, should that be, “We will water down your cultural and theological distinctiveness as we have done to our own already”? 😉

      Liked by 4 people

    • sadly, the most vocal aspects of the present generation of Wicca make the Borg seem pleasant at times. it’s one of the reasons why i tend to keep quiet on that front. i’ve had lots of arguments with wiccans of that flavor. (got booted off of a huge forum years ago for it even, and i was one of the ones who helped make it known.) i’m pretty sure that this wasn’t what Wicca was supposed to turn into. it’s sad to see how much it has been perverted and how there is an attempt to spread that perversion into other areas for the sake of homogeny. (i apologize for the typo. i never seem to manage to spell that right.)

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I’m glad you wrote this. Not just because it puts into words some things I’ve been thinking over, but because of all the excellent links you provided to posts discussing the event. My husband and I weren’t able to make this year, but I wanted to know how it went and whether or not it would happen again next year so we could attend.

    Excellent post, as always!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Anyone else feel like the “As a matter of fact, the only real display of discourtesy that I witnessed came from someone who seemed to be struggling with the feeling that they had of not being included in the Polytheist “group”. I find this very interesting.” from Strixian Woods might just refer to this Jason Mankey?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I thought of this in the middle of the night–it was really my first reaction to Mankey’s post:

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Who is Jason Mankey, that we ordinary people have to be so mindful of him? (I noticed in his write up, that somehow because everyone was focused on other things, they failed to acknowledge his august presence.)

    I used to be minor celeb in my local Pagan area, and was pleased when people did recognise me. However, when they didn’t, I didn’t care. I figure that at least half of the people just do not care who you are, and mature people take it in stride.

    My reaction to the blog was that his nose was out of joint because people did not ask for his advice, wisdom, or august knowledge of all things Pagan.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I’ll be completely honest: yes, I am a close, personal friend of Jason Mankey; I find him misrepresented. I pushed for his inclusion as a presenter (because of the misrepresentation, because I thought it would be….. fun [I’m a bit of a bitch, in my own quiet way], and because he made an interesting proposal). It was clear that the wider community didn’t want to hear what he had to say, as only a fraction of attendees were there for his talk. I *did* learn a few things during his presentation, including that I’ve been misunderstanding aspects of Wicca for at least 15 years. Another noted individual who often has issues with Mankey said afterward that they enjoyed his talk, so there’s that. To correct a few comments above, Mankey is not an archetypalist, but a polytheist.

    However, the communities have spoken loud and clear and I have taken the hint! For those that hope for next year, that too has been duly noted. No promises just yet.

    Thanks for your support of our event, Galina. And by “our”, I really do mean OURS as a set of intersectional communities. That was the most beautiful part of the weekend, in my opinion.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ganglerisgrove

      It’s one of the beautiful things about our communities, that they are intersectional: we have so many different traditions supporting and learning from one another. That’s a good and powerful thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. matthew cavalli

    Wow. I am a close friend of Jasons and I find this to be Appalling . It is ok to disagree with what someone wrote . But to make someone out to be a total asshole because YOU dont agree with what he wrote ?

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Thinking of privilege and entitlement, along with divide…

    I reposted an updated article regarding the Icelandic temple, and how they have decided that they weren’t going to deal with the stupidity of people, so they were not going to let it be open to everyone as first planned (I am paraphrasing obviously), despite the support that they did begin to get from around the world. They gave reasons, they are a small organization, run with volunteers, they cut ties with other world organizations decades ago because they didn’t want to be in the political arena, and they feel a responsibility to their own people before foreigners. Now, while I thought it was kind of them to acknowledge other support, and to address that they felt they needed to close the temple to the public, I didn’t think they owed an explanation, and certainly they didn’t owe anyone to make it open.

    I was taken off guard by the number of people who responded with some version of “Oh poor me, I wanted to see it, and the temple is over reacting.” Um. No, you entitled, spoiled brat. Instead of being outraged at the biggoted asshats who caused the issue people were mad at the temple for wanting to not welcome openly people that they have no connection to. I was seemingly ineffectual at trying to defend their choice because people had an entitled and pumped up view of themselves.

    While I do think that there are times when a celebration of people, and community are important, they should not be the center of a polytheistic spiritual world view. If we are gathering to honor the Gods, we should make damn sure They are honored and happy with it, instead of sitting around and congratulating ourselves for how great of a human we are because we did something. There is too much “Look at me and the thing I did” and not nearly enough “let’s shut up and listen to what the Gods are saying.”

    grumble grumble grumble.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. You weren’t there. That is NOT how Jason Mankey behaved. He was amusing, self-deprecating, and cordial to everyone. His talk on Wicca as a polytheist path was well-attended, mostly by non-Wiccans. I overheard several of them telling him afterwards how much they’d enjoyed it and that they’d un-learned a lot of wrong assumptions about Wicca.

    The real joy of Many Gods West was that nobody — I mean NOBODY — copped an attitude toward anyone else. How pitiful that someone who wasn’t even there should engage in character assassination after the fact.

    Shame on you!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I find all these different comments disturbing. So, there was a speaker there that didn’t cut it for you. Does that give leave (aside from the little detail of it’s my blog, I can say what I want) to rip him up one side and down the other?

    Talk about hospitality (NOT). Jason Mankey is someone I’ve read online. Just as there are others that I’ve read.

    The “oh let’s jump in an trash him somemore” process here: way to go being open & supportive folks.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. ganglerisgrove just to make it very clear, I don’t support the weaponizing of vulnerability.


  18. ganglerisgrove

    We need those bridges, Laine. That would be good, valuable, and sacred work.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t know who you’re writing about but, it’s definitely not Mankey. He may have a lot of faults but, none of them are what you’re accusing him of. I know him and he’s not at all like you portray him. In fact, he’s pretty much the opposite.

    There’s a reason why Mankey was voted president of our local Pagan group (made up of people from various traditions) even though he’s younger than a lot of us – his openness and respect of others’ beliefs. He and I have had our disagreements but, he’s always been open and respectful of my ideas. He’s even changed his mind about some things because of his openness. The more I know him, the more I’m impressed with him.

    In person, Mankey is wonderfully sarcastic and self-depreciating. He walks the fine line of being blunt with his opinions and yet being diplomatic. I hope one day you meet him so you can see just how wrong you are. And when you do, I look forward to your blog apologizing for your behavior.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. My own reading of Mankey’s post was not nearly so harsh as this. He came across to me more as confused by the differences between Polytheists and Pagans than hostile to them.

    In his post that’s drawn so much ire, PSVL makes a very important distinction between polytheists and Polytheists, between pagans and Pagans, based partly on whether or not one is identifying and working to create community based on one’s polytheism and/or paganism.

    It’s clear to me from reading Mankey’s other work that he’s a polytheist rather than a Polytheist, and much of the confusion and misunderstanding in his post comes from not recognizing the distinction.

    Having met the man and attended some of his offerings (ritual and otherwise) at Pantheacon, I can say that I’ve seen a difference between what he’s looking for and what we Polytheists are looking for. It’s no surprise to me that he did not find what he was looking for at MGW, just as it’s no surprise that I did find what I was looking for.

    In particular, I didn’t read his revival comparison as being out of line, though it was dismissive. I had a similar feeling, though it was for me, positive. What I was reacting to was the focus and fervor of devotion, of a community coming together in that focus. It’s something I’ve found less in Pagan public events, which often seem to me more like affirmations of common belief than devotion.

    This is most likely due to my Southern Baptist upbringing. While I have no desire at all to return to any monotheist practice (much less that flavor), I do miss some of the way in which devotion was part of the social element of how a church runs. For all that it’s toxic at other times, it can be very good at its best.

    So. Jason Mankey didn’t find what he was looking for at MGW, and–to the surprise of no one–doesn’t understand what Polytheists are after. His post is one bitter drop in an otherwise sweet flood of positive responses to MGW. I see no reason for a stronger community response than, “Mankey still doesn’t get it. Oh well.”

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Wow. What article did you read? I think we were looking at different blog posts entirely. And I think you found what you were looking for. Which is a shame. (And no, I’m not Wiccan.)

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thank your for writing this. People keep saying you weren’t there but you were there for the reading of his demeaning butt-hurt blog post. For once he wasn’t the center of attention, and his religion wasn’t what the conference was about and so he had to go and trash it and us in his blog. I also don’t buy that whole ‘I didn’t go to the Dionysian frenzy because there was another talk going on’, and yet always claiming to be a great Dionysian devotee. People can do what they want but they can be named for what they are doing.

    MGW was profound and amazing. I’m saddened now, that as usual, we have all this negativity coming out now about this beautiful event.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You must have read a different blog post than I did.

      You’re right — it was a beautiful event. But as I see it the negativity is not directed at the event but at Jason for Talking While Wiccan.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. ganglerisgrove

    I apologize if anything I said here was taken as a personal attack on Jason. I had no intention of hurting him and this is the farthest thing from personal for me. This is about theology, ideas, and community politics. I try to leave my personal feelings about people out of those discussions (and i have no personal feelings toward Jason. I don’t know him). That being said, I realize that this is a medium of communication prone to misunderstanding and I take full responsibility for my the consequences of my words intentional and others; and i want to take special care here to make it clear, that despite my stated objections above, I have no ill will toward Jason personally and respect what he’s doing for his Gods and community. We need all our voices to make Polytheism and Paganism grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Yvonne Aburrow

    I am a Wiccan and a polytheist, and I am not an archetypalist. I believe the gods are real and have agency. In the UK and Europe, Wicca does not have a standard theology. I cannot speak for the USA, but I think the same is true there. Yes there are things in Wiccan liturgy that make polytheist Wiccans feel awkward, so we either do not use them or keep our fingers crossed whilst saying them, or while others are saying them. I would be ever so grateful if people did not deny the existence of polytheism in Wicca. It makes it hard to be polytheist and Wiccan when our existence is denied and erased. (This part of my comment is in reply to tinfoilhatsociety above.)

    I have met Jason Mankey and found him to be a charming and delightful individual, not a big name pagan who fancies himself as a celebrity. Maybe he was upset that Sannion didn’t recognise him because they have met somewhere else?

    On the topic of Wiccanate privilege, please remember that Wiccanate means “Wicca-lite” and “Wicca-flavoured”. Personally as someone who likes my Wicca hard-core and not fluffy, I would like to see Wicca-lite disappear completely and be replaced by the flourishing of many different types of ritual, including polytheist ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thetinfoilhatsociety

      Hello Yvonne. I’m new to commenting here, and I realize that it’s hard to get a feel for tone in posts, so I hope you don’t think I’m being dismissive or negative. I do have to disagree with you about being a Wiccan polytheist though. If you are truly Wiccan, then you shouldn’t have to “cross your fingers” or avoid saying/doing certain things during ritual. That’s like saying “I’m Catholic but I don’t believe Mary is the Mother of God,” or “I’m Baptist but I don’t believe in full immersion baptism.” Those are core beliefs of those religions, and if you don’t believe in one of the core beliefs of a religion then why identify with it?

      If you are truly a Polytheist, then maybe you are a Polytheist who likes the elements of Ceremonial Magic that Wicca provides in abundance, or (depending on which Gods you identify with) you are a Kemetic or Celtic devotee with a desire for Western type ritual more so than Wiccan. I know sticking with a ritual format that you are familiar with is comforting but maybe it’s time to search for a belief or religious devotional format in which you can be *fully* engaged without leaving stuff out or “crossing your fingers.”

      My extensive research into Wicca when I was a baby Pagan is exactly the reason I am not, and have never identified as one. I just couldn’t buy into what seemed the core elements of the religion. And I don’t think Apuleius did anyone any favors by his tale which details his syncretism of all of the Queens of Heaven into Isis.

      I do think that Wicca has been the Roman Catholicism of the modern return to Pagan religions. It is still the biggest and best known of all the Pagan religions to the average Western person. And I think that makes it the first place many of us turn, for the simple reason that’s it’s much easier to come across books about Wicca in any used book store.

      I have friends I’ve known for the better part of 20 years who are Wiccan, who come from initiatory traditions, and I do think that gives me insight into more than the “Wicca 101” books on the shelves; they do in fact syncretize many of the Gods/Goddesses into one Lord/Lady ultimate archetype, and the individual Deities are aspects of the whole. I also have known Druids for that long, who are also friends, for whom the Deities are most definitely individuals. And some for whom they are also merely archetypes. We have worshipped together, on and off, for years and years, and it’s never been a true problem because we understand where each is coming from, and we create ritual together that avoids problems for the others. But it’s not Wiccan, nor Druid, nor Heathen. And it’s not what we do when we are alone with our own devotional practice either. That being said, none of us currently associates with the larger Pagan community around us because of problems we all have had in the past. And because of the fluffy bunny Wiccans who insist on presuming that all Pagans believe as they do.

      I have never met Jason either, nor did I get to go to MGW. I did however read his post on his recap of the conference in exactly the same way that obviously many others did – that he was rather taken aback by the fact that there are people who do in fact that their Polytheism quite seriously, who don’t equate Wayland with Goibhnu (for instance), and who (I suspect) have a much more serious relationship with their Gods and their Spirits than Jason possibly does.

      Galina, I really appreciate your willingness to engage in debate about these things on your blog and in other places. These are hard things for many to talk about in a courteous manner, understanding that many will simply find it incomprehensible, without taking it personally. I do think these are things that need to be discussed though – without these kinds of talks I personally would not have probably come to realize that I am not in fact a polytheist, I’m a Polytheist and always have been. It means that I would have never really found a place in the religious world where I felt comfortable. Please continue your work, I am sure that it is making a manifest difference in our world.


      • One small thing: I am an initiate of Central Valley Wicca, a branch founded by a student of Gardner’s who moved to California in the early 1960s. My teachers taught me that the god and goddess were distinct entities with personal names, which were used in oath-bound ritual rather than the string of deity names normally associated with Wiccan practice. This may have been a peculiarity of my teachers, or their up-lines, So, for at least some Wiccans, archtypalism is not a core value.

        It’s possible that we were naughty heretics. I’m OK with that.

        My point is, Polytheism is not incompatible with Wicca–it’s just a small minority within the religion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thetinfoilhatsociety

        That’s very very interesting! And since you’re Californian I suspect that has something to do with it 🙂 Or somehow Wicca in America got caught up with Jung’s and Campbell’s philosophical tales and morphed into something entirely different. It’s hard to tell without really digging into it and most people just don’t think that’s ‘nice.’


      • Lon, I’m a Mohsian, a Trad founded in SoCal around the same time as CVW or maybe a few years later — things from back then are sort of fuzzy as I’m sure you know. We also have inherited, oath-bound names for our deities, and we too also invoke other Gods at times. It’s not just CVW. Personally, I see an archetype as a God’s job title and not much more.


      • Perhaps it is Wiccans themselves, and not people who are explicitly and specifically not Wiccan, who get to determine what Wicca is or is not.

        Liked by 2 people

  25. Yvonne Aburrow

    Hi tinfoilhatsociety

    Thank you for your reply. I disagree with your view that the liturgy defines or describes Wiccan theology; for one thing, the materials written by Gardner, Valiente, et al are not strictly duotheist; and for another, we have a LOT of other material, written by many Wiccans.

    In my own rituals, at home, I just don’t use the bits of liturgy that I don’t like. It is only when guesting with others that the issue occurs.

    I agree that American Wicca is probably largely duotheist, but in the UK and Europe, I would say it is probably majority polytheist – though as I don’t often ask for people’s theology, I am not sure. But you can tell by what people do in rituals.

    If you look at Wiccan liturgy, there are some bits that are syncretist, and some that are soft polytheist, and some that are hard polytheist.

    Thing is, most Wiccans in the UK, Europe, and Australia, write our own rituals, so we can please ourselves as to the theology thereof.

    The gods with whom I have a relationship are from several different pantheons, so Wicca provides a setting where I can honour them. Nope, not a Kemetic (I read their online stuff, it didn’t appeal). If I wasn’t a Wiccan, I might be a Heathen, as long as I could also honour Celtic deities and my various household gods.

    Liked by 2 people

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