This is what it’s all about, people.
In my previous post, my rebuttal piece, one of my readers Amanda made this comment:
“You know, maybe a few weeks ago, I read some post of his about why he identifies as a Pagan. Something like “I use God-talk in my rituals” was what he said. It took a while for it to sink in why that phrase bothered me, but it suddenly dawned on me when I was reading about this local Native American Pow Wow coming up in my town. “Oh, so that’s what cultural appropriation feels like!”
I thought of that before I saw any posts from you or any other polytheists online, so I just want you to know that you’re not the only one who made that connection. I try to be nice and respectful of other cultures and try to avoid cultural appropriation, but being a white person, I always assumed I would never experience it myself and therefore could never fully understand what it’s like.
But I think this is as close as it might get for me. I take the gods seriously, and this Halstead fellow, as you say, doesn’t believe in the gods, he just uses them. He thinks speaking their names in ritual spices it up, but he doesn’t believe they actually exist or anything. It’s like people who slap sacred Native American symbols onto keychains and t-shirts because they think it looks nice, but they either have no idea what it means, or they don’t care if some people think it has a deeper meaning.
I guess one thing I can be grateful for is that hopefully that bit of insight will help me have more empathy towards indigenous people who complain about their cultures being appropriated. Now I might understand how that feels a little bit better than I did before.”
Amanda, THIS. Precisely this.
and all the while Halstead and others like him insist that we are all part of the same community (i have just removed a comment asserting just that). We are not. I think it comes down to not just believing that the Gods exist (polytheism!) but understanding that this impacts the way we are in the world and with everything else. It is the one immutable part of our theology and our identification as religious beings.
We are not standing together. We are and ever will be on opposite sides of the theological spectrum, one side with theology, the other just wishing.