Words, Words, Words

Someone asked me just a few minutes ago why I was fighting over a word.

Polytheism is not just a word.

It is an identity, a community, a container of traditions.

For Halstead and his faction, polytheism is a word, nothing more, and one that he’s willing to twist and corrupt out of true. No one owns words after all and he has already expressed his willingness to relativize them. Words don’t demand integrity. They are flexible tools.

For me and many other polytheists, polytheism is not a word. It is a living thing. It is a community made up of a variety of specific traditions. It is synonymous with those traditions themselves.

It is not just a word (though if it were, I would still question his right to use it, given that despite the rantings of our post-modernist friends, words do actually mean things). It is so much more than that.

It is a group of traditions that stand together because we are stronger together than apart.

If we were to separate, to start speaking from the perspective of our individual traditions instead of polytheism as a whole, would people like Halstead suddenly start claiming to be a practitioner of cultus deorum, a Kemetic, a Heathen (heh. Have fun with that one, John), a celtic polytheist? Will the incursions stop? I don’t think so.

I don’t think polytheism registered on this faction’s radar until we began to work together and perhaps that is significant. Some atheists get their kicks attacking Christianity vociferously, so much so, that in today’s media it’s hardly worthy of note. Sometimes I wonder if Halstead isn’t trying to make a novel name for himself by doing the same thing with Polytheism.

Halstead’s literary and ideological incursions into polytheism are not attacks on a word. They’re insidious attacks on our religious identity, an identity that is the first line of defense against encroachment on and debasement of our traditions.

All polytheists must of necessity be gatekeepers of their traditions. That obligation is even stronger with our specialists: priests, spiritworkers, elders, teachers. If not us, who? If not now, when?

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on March 18, 2016, in Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Someone could take this controversy, and apply Foucault’s paradigms across the corpus ofhis work on power, thought, speech authority, and knowledge to produce an article on it.

    To pull from more mainstream examples, God spoke and the world came into being. Then God passed some power to Adam, he spoke, named the animals used that as justification of having power over nature and mucked things up, the statistics of how much biodiversity we’ve lost worldwide in the last 100 years is staggering.

    That’s what Halstead is, he’s trying to be Adam and crush out our diversity by using his so-called position if power to reduce us.

    *shakes head*

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Speaking of words, I have one regarding Halstead…..HUBRIS.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thetinfoilhatsociety

      Not my book but I do know truth when I hear it: “Pride goeth before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fighting over words MATTERS. Words shape what and how we think and feel. How we think and feel dictates how we act; how we engage our agency in the world. Words form our entire being in this world, whether we are aware of it or not. This dismissal of words as merely matters of personal preference, or intellectual snobbery (I’m still EFFERVESCENT with disgust and rage over the Halstead piece on “dictionary thumpers”) is at the core, imo, of the high speed breakdown of society that we are witnessing.

    No less than Abraham Maslow recognized this shaping power of words and the evils of co-opting word meanings:

    “Some time ago, after the Supreme Court decision on prayer in the public schools, a so-called patriotic women’s organization—I forget which one—bitterly attacked the decision as antireligious. They were in favor of “spiritual values,” they said, whereas the Supreme Court was destroying them.

    I am very much in favor of a clear separation of church and state, and my reaction was automatic: I disagreed with the women’s organization. But then something happened that set me to thinking for many months. It dawned on me that I, too, was in favor of spiritual values… I had reacted in an automatic way against the whole statement by the organization, thereby implicitly accepting its erroneous definition and concept of spiritual values. In a word, I had allowed these intellectual primitives to capture a good word and to put their peculiar meaning to it, just as they had taken the fine word “patriotic” and contaminated and destroyed it. I had let them redefine these words and had then accepted their definitions. And now I want to take them back. – from the Introduction to Relgion, Values, and Peak Experiences by Abraham Maslow

    If people don’t start waking the f@!* up and getting serious about understanding that WORDS MATTER, one day they’re going to find THEMSELVES redefined in unbearable ways.

    Galina, thank you for keeping up the fight. And thanks for being a rigid, dictionary-worshipping, control freak… *facepalm*

    ps: this whole online polytheist milieu is one of the BEST examples I’ve ever seen of the value of a classical education vs. the hyper-specialized modern degree track approach…just sayin’

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Reblogged this on The Sovereign of Swords and commented:
    I wish I could keep this up on my blog forever.


  5. Words mean things, without knowing what words mean, we can’t communicate with each other efficiently and effectively. Even if there wasn’t community and experience attached to the words being argued here, words are important.

    Let me explain why I like Morrissey:

    As a classically trained singer, his voice is a wretched nasal affectation that wouldn’t be allowed to sing in a world with the fictional all-omnipotent, all-benevolent deities — his esteemed status as a singer is, if nothing else, proof of trickster gods among us. As a lyricist, that’s another story… with regards to metre, he’s barely competent, on his good days, BUT as a wordsmith, he’s amazing. His vocabulary is ridiculous, and not in the sense of “Let Me Show You My Thesaurus”-syndrome, as plagues many a wannabe writer on the Internet, but in the sense of actually understanding the nuance and subtle differences between meanings of words often considered synonymous. That’s where his talent lies, and it’s amazing. Sure, in theory, he could use any other weird with a close-enough meaning to fit rhyme and/or metre, but he chooses not to for the sake of saying exactly what he wants the lyrics to say.

    I see Halstead going the direction of, say, Paul McCartney — he writes simple, catchy lyrics that fit nearly in form and metre in such a way that it seems to be saying more than it is. There’s not much depth to it, no real subtlety, but a few big-enough words are added in for flavour and it looks like he’s saying more than he every could, and unfortunately, that pseudo-depth is absurdly popular.

    On one hand, I appreciate the fact that he’s not of the Michel Foucault school of “create a word salad around anything you want to say to weed out those who realise you’re saying almost nothing while allowing your readers to think they’re smarter than they are for figuring out some simplistic meaning tucked inside”. He’s pretty straightforward in his shit, and I don’t think he even realises how manipulative he’s being, but IIRC, given that he grew up Mormon, I imagine that he wouldn’t.


  6. I’ve always wondered if Halstead started out as the garden variety anti-Christian atheist. However, this just doesn’t get as much press anymore. Generic paganism, however, seemed to be just the hole he could work himself into. These were the people more inclined towards dropping out of a belief in the Gods. Talk about ego-boosting by the religiously illiterate! Now, he’s trying to break down the walls of Troy. Only, he’s no longer facing the religiously illiterate anymore. We do not slaver at his feet in wonder at his so-called erudition. This is why he hates us. Yes, he hates us. He may not admit it; he won’t admit it; but, he does. We demonstrate that he has feet of clay. We must be destroyed. His hubris is pathetic.


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