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.

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Posted on October 11, 2015, in Polytheism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. did you remove my comment Galina? If so, what did i say that was bad in it (so i dont make the mistake in future comments)?

    Like

    • Your insistence that we are all friends (we aren’t, I don’t know you), that we are all part of the same religion (we’re not, AT ALL, and a lot of polytheists are growing really tired of humanist Pagan attempts to include us in their fold. Stop it. It’s just another attempt at erasure — Halstead did it too in his piece), that discrimination and harassment against polytheism doesn’t happen and when we complain about it we’re playing the victim card (it does, I think several people have provided some basic examples and i’m unsurprised by your assertion that we are playing victims when we point this out. It’s typical) and that evangelical Christianity doesn’t harass other Christians (seriously? what world are you living in?? It happens all the time. Hell, take a look at the military religious freedom network alone and the examples are enough to make your blood boil, and that’s simply one place, a small group of examples. reading the news is enlightening too) were getting really old. I’m not sure what annoyed me more, the historical inaccuracy, the privilege, or the dogged dismissal of pretty much everything we are saying. Try it again, and I”ll remove your comments. Get obnoxious on my site, and I”ll block you. It’s as simple as that.

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  2. I have been pondering this a lot. Actually was going to comment at Halstead’s blog but decided not to. Personally, I do think that he does enjoy the back and forth, and the discussion since it is stimulating and does shake loose ideas.

    That being said, what bothered me about his holy discussion the most is that it reminds me of how dinosaurs are defined. We define who and what they are since they are extinct. We determine who and who is not a dinosaur. We decide how dinosaurs are seen. They exist as dead bones ready for us to declare them interesting. The dinosaurs have no say in the matter.

    Now, in deciding what is holy or not, who decides? Do we keep on determining who is or is not a God? Do we define what or who is a God? Do we decide how the Gods are viewed or worshiped? Do the Gods have any agency or do They exist as dead ideas ready for us to declare Them holy? In other words, are we as humans the final authority on the Gods and what is Holy?

    If you regard the Gods as archetypes, then you can be the final authority. They become constructs of your making or interpretation. Like dinosaurs, they are dead bones waiting for animation by you. And you can take them out of cultural context, mix them up, and declare them to be holy.

    You are right, it has nothing to do with cultural appropriation. It has to do with world views, and who has agency.

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