Reducing the Gods to…us?

So the conversation with Halstead on his fb continues. His recent comment, I think, reveals his innate contempt for polytheism, or indeed real theism of any kind, and also his agenda: to force polytheists to accept his version that all gods are fiction. It’s rather nauseating to read, but I’m going to share it anyway:

“I appreciate the importance of distinguishing entertainment from religious devotion. And I also appreciate the concern that some devotional polytheists have that association of their gods with pop culture symbols will trivialize their religion. But I still think gods and pop culture symbols are not that different. Superman has been around for 80 years, which is almost as long as the current incarnation of the Neo-Pagan Triple Moon Goddess and Horned God. That’s not just because he’s entertaining. He’s a symbol of something that resonates deeply with a lot of people. And while Superman is not the focus of a great deal of explicitly religious devotion, he could be. And I don’t think the origins of the myths of pagan gods were much different than Superman’s. They started with storytellers and poets, as “deliberately created” and “human constructed”. The ancient pagans had their bards and poets and we have Hollywood.”

It is trivializing and also inherently destructive. It is incomprehensible to him that the Gods may have inspired the bards and not the other way around. His starting point is skewed, and, if I may, incorrect. For him, as for so many humanists, it’s always about humanity first. They are, like Plato’s parable of the cave, incapable of seeing beyond their own darkness. The Gods are never more than symbols for people like this, things to be used to spur our own self-aggrandizement. It is a phenomenal lack of vision, but I am not surprised. I think that if people so committed to this worldview ever do have a direct experience with a God, they doggedly find ways of explaining it away as something else. Their agenda seems, to this polytheist at least, ever and always to be that of reducing the Holy Powers to the level of humanity, if not subservient to humanity’s needs and will. It is a violent twisting of theology into some uber-Durkheimian paradigm that has no resonance outside of human consciousness. Halstead would (in fact did in our discussion) argue that by reducing divine experience he wasn’t rendering it insignificant and that is true. He was reducing its significance solely to the limits of himself.

In the course of our conversation he said that he realized it didn’t matter to him whether it was Gods first or author first, the result was the same. It isn’t though and that difference is crucial and I find it immensely sad to encounter someone so apparently hungry for the benefits of religious experience and so incapable of accepting (not receiving, but accepting) theophany at the same time.


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 March 13, 2016, in Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. This Halstead guy really is something. (read: is a piece of horseshit)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I would feel sorry for him if he wasn’t so insistent on barging into spaces that, frankly, don’t want him, and then proceed to try and define us out of our own spaces with his masturbatory feel good self-indulgences.

    Liked by 7 people

    • ganglerisgrove

      Bingo. and he doggedly refuses to see how this is an attack on our traditions. The only thing polytheism needs or wants from him is his absence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ganglerisgrove

        thing is though, it’s not just Halstead. He’s the most vocal, and in many ways the most obnoxious, disrespectful, and appropriating, but he is only the loudest of a whole cadre of non-theists who aren’t just suspicious of the Gods and religion, but deeply hostile to it. For it to exist in their world, in their minds, i think it must be rendered to their level, their understanding. at least that’s my supposition from having engaged and observed. Perhaps i”m simplifying. I”d have no problem with them if they stayed away from polytheism but they won’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The more discussion and attention these people get, the more they prophetisize. The best way to make them go away is to ignore them. I have seen his writings before – he is entitled to his opinion as we are to ours but he needs to pull his head in. He is too wound up in his own self importance to see the harm he is doing. Thanks for the great piece – appreciated.


    • ganglerisgrove

      The problem with ignoring his ideas is that as irrelevant as he may be, his ideas carry and they have the potential to stand and influence those coming into polytheism. Ideas don’t just go away. they must be countered.

      likewise, i think he sees very well the harm he’s causing. I think that is precisely his agenda. but that is another post i suspect.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. thetinfoilhatsociety

    Even if humans *did* create the Gods, even if they *are* a construct that originated in ancient Bards’ heads, it’s no different than any other creation. It takes on a life of its own. And that, because they are Gods, includes agency and self determination. How could it not, with the worship and devotion of probably millions over a period of thousands of years?

    I disagree that this is what happened, and I think Mr. Halstead should really do some huayahuasca or some mushrooms, preferably a LOT at once. I rather suspect he would have some experiences that would cure him of his determined distaste for devotional polytheism, and would cure him of his sanctimonious atheism.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As I pointed out elsewhere, I wonder, if Halstead liked the community and history of the Christian church, would he call himself an atheist Christian? I’d bet a pretty penny he would do no such thing.

    He’d call himself an atheist, which is what he is. He can’t claim the title of something he isn’t because he likes the history. He’s not Pagan. He doesn’t appear inclined to change that. End of story.

    His attitude is reprehensible. Calling us intolerant because we reject his claim that his approach is truly pagan.

    None of us would have a problem with him if he just called himself an atheist, joined a re-enactment group, and learned a little respect. Well, maybe people would have a problem with him anyway owing to him being an arrogant prat. :p


  6. The truth is, he and his ilk are TERRIFIED that the Gods in all their multiplicity ARE real. That they have power and agency out side of our belief (or lack of belief), and agendas that don’t necessarily center on our petty wants as opposed to what we and the World actually need.


  7. The fact is, Halstead is committing hubris. Hubris, by definition, can go so far as to lead the person to evil. This is where s/he is so caught up in themselves that they do not see/cannot see/are unable to see anything else but the world of their own creation. I do not like to use the word evil, as I do not believe in a dichotomous world. However, the results of his so-called philosophy are just that. He tries to make everyone like him by writing that everybody doubts the existence of the Gods, thereby making us atheists, too. What a twit. Almost everyone of faith has had a dark night of the soul or two. We wouldn’t be human otherwise. He still uses Christian theology as the basis for his views. He is by no means an atheist who comes from a polytheist mindset.

    Liked by 1 person

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