On Pollution and Miasma

A friend sent me a clip from an article that had me just shaking my head. In it, a Pagan was talking about pollution and why she never “needed” to do any cleansing work. Doing so, the misguided author said, would imply that she was dirty.

Um…yes, buttercup it does but this is not a moral judgment. When you take a shower in the morning or a bath at night, is that some grave moral judgment on your inner sense of self? Or your character? Your identity? When you wipe your ass, are you saying your butt is bad? One would hope that you actually do take those showers and wipe. I mean really…and if you clean your ass, as my friend quipped, you can take the time to clean your soul.

This is going to be an ongoing theme. I’ve had a lot of questions lately about miasma. I’ve gained a few insights through my own deepening taboos around purification, been thrown for a few unexpected loops, and I’ve been seeing a lot of really screwed up pieces, like the bit I quoted above making the rounds. I’m not even sure where to begin here.

Miasma is a thing. It exists. It is not a statement about the character or worth of any given person. In fact, in most cases, it’s no more personal than spilling something on yourself and having to wash it off, or tracking mud inside, and having to clean it up. To say that one doesn’t need to cleanse is exactly as sensible as saying one never needs to bathe, that is not at all.

Miasma is a type of spiritual pollution. One can pick up miasma by exposing oneself to things that are antithetical to the Gods and Their traditions. These things can shift a person’s head and heart space out of receptivity and reverence for the Gods. They can also leave a taint. Over time, it destroys our ability not just for any discernment with the Powers and spirits, but even our ability to tell what is good and holy from that which is not. That’s one of the dangers of pollution and our world is riddled with it.

Sometimes though one falls into miasma through actions or experiences that are good: for instance there is a particular miasma associated with the dead. That’s why if one touches a dead body, cleansings are necessary before approaching one’s shrines. Well, visiting the graves of relatives is a good and pious act sanctioned by the Gods. The moment one does so, however, one is in a state of pollution and should really cleanse after returning home. Likewise, there is miasma associated with childbirth. Does that mean that everyone should stop having babies? Of course not. It means one learns the appropriate protocols within one’s tradition and uses them.

These purification rites can also be a form of psychological catharsis, helping one to make transitions back into ordinary life. Imagine how much better off our soldiers would be if they had these kinds of transitional and purifying ceremonies to guide their entrance back into civilian life? Instead, we just leave them in the gutter.

Proper piety is important. It is what enables us to maintain right relationship with our Gods. That’s a huge part of why we should want to be clean! Moreover, extended miasma can cause mental, emotional, and even physical problems, not to mention damaging one’s luck. Of course, this presupposes that one values being in right relationship with the Holy. This is where it starts. It presupposes that this is a priority, that we’re willing to examine our culture and society and interactions and influences and take action when miasma is present.

Now just because a thing causes miasma, does not mean it has to be avoided. Some things are only miasmic with certain types of worship, and with certain deities, or for roles and types of work (ancestor work vs plant work, shaman vs. seer vs. laity—there will be different taboos and requirements). Sometimes when you’re called to work with certain Powers and do certain work, that cuts off certain opportunities. That’s too bad. That’s just the nature of devotion. It’s possible to appreciate from a distance without being able to engage.

Sometimes what we read or watch may cause miasma. It affects our headspace. It puts us in headspace that’s not conducive to interaction with the Holy. This is a bit trickier. No one should tell you not to watch or read something. That’s a decision you have to make for yourself with your Gods and ancestors. Divination can help with this. We don’t want to be, after all, like the Abrahamists who fence themselves off from life and authentic experiences with all their rules and regulations, afraid to read a novel for fear it will destroy their faith. Sometimes also, depending on one’s work, one might have to read things or watch things or go places that put one in a state of miasma. Here, it’s important to sit down maybe with a diviner or priest and suss out how to cleanse oneself, what rituals and prayers to do, to restore oneself to cleanliness. (Just because a particular book or movie might put you out of alignment, doesn’t mean it’s ‘bad’. It might not affect someone else the same way, especially if they’re working with very different Powers and traditions. The key is mindfulness and being willing to consider that even things we like may be problematic and require those extra ritual steps or even forgoing gratification in service to something Higher).

Now I’ve noticed something about the people chirping the loudest about how cleansing isn’t necessary. All of the ones I’ve encountered have been anti-theist or humanist ‘Pagans.’ I think that is perhaps the key here. This is a clash of cultures and traditions. Do you serve the ancestors or political ideology? Do you want to reverence the Gods with your entire life or some human economist? Is this real or is it just something people make up in their heads? Do you value the Holy, or are you hell-bent on convincing the pious that it doesn’t exist (generally by trolling them online)? Those espousing a disdain for cleansing and purification are more often than not, those expressing a similar disdain for the Gods and everything else associated with Them. I’ll let y’all do the math. (If Stalin says that 2+2=5, the party believes that 2+2=5).

What I know is that cleansing is crucial. There is a caution here: against what Christians call scrupulosity. We should attend to all the proper rites and rituals for dealing with pollution, but not fall into obsessiveness or excessive anxiety over it—what the Greeks termed δεισιδαιμονίᾳ.

“It is apparent that superstition would seem to be cowardice with regard to the spiritual realm. The superstitious man is one who will wash his hands and sprinkle himself at the Sacred Fountain, and put a bit of laurel leaf in his mouth, to prepare himself for each day. If a marten should cross his path, he will not continue until someone else has gone by, or he has thrown three stones across the road. And if he should see a snake in his house, he will call up a prayer to Sabazios if it is one of the red ones; if it is one of the sacred variety, he will immediately construct a shrine on the spot. Nor will he go by the smooth stones at a crossroads without anointing them with oil from his flask, and he will not leave without falling on his knees in reverence to them. If a mouse should chew through his bag of grain, he will seek advice on what should be done from the official diviner of omens; but if the answer is, ‘Give it to the shoemaker to have it sewn up,’ he will pay no attention, but rather go away and free himself of the omen through sacrifice. He is also likely to be purifying his house continually, claiming that terrible Hecate has been mysteriously brought into it. And if an owl should hoot while he is outside, he becomes terribly agitated, and will not continue before crying out, ‘O! Mighty Athena!’ Never will he step on a tomb, nor get near a dead body, nor a woman in childbirth: he says he must keep on his guard against being polluted. On the unlucky days of the month– the fourth and seventh– he will order his servants to heat wine. Then he will go out and buy myrtle-wreaths, frankincense, and holy pictures; upon returning home, he spends the entire day arranging the wreaths on statues of the Hermaphrodites. Also, when he has a dream, he will go to the dream interpreters, the fortune-tellers, and the readers of bird-omens, to ask what god or goddess he should pray to. When he is to be initiated into the Orphic mysteries, he visits the priests every month, taking his wife with him; or, if she can’t make it, the nursemaid and children will suffice. It is also apparent that he is one of those people who go to great lengths to sprinkle themselves with sea-water. And if he sees someone eating Hecate’s garlic at the crossroads, he must go home and wash his head; and then he calls upon the priestesses to carry a squill or a puppy around him for purification. If he sees a madman or epileptic, he shudders and spits into his lap.” (Theophrastos, On The Superstitious Man)

Being a polytheist isn’t about having the right hashtags or even necessarily about believing in many Gods. Believing in many Gods is the baseline, the fundamental definition, but we should aspire to so much more. Being a polytheist is also about cultivating in ourselves the type of awareness and character that the Gods would find pleasing. To do that, first and foremost, we must cultivate purity and an awareness of the nature of miasma and a willingness to attend to it. Then and only then, can we begin to cleanly and properly commune with the Holy.

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Posted on February 16, 2017, in community, Lived Polytheism, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 120 Comments.

  1. Super relevant to me right now. I often feel ashamed of how much spiritual ick I’m having to cleanse from myself but reading over this reminds me that I’m exposed to a lot of toxicity and miasma causing things.

    I’ve managed to convince myself that there are those whose skills have reached the point that they don’t even need to cleanse regularly because their ick blocking skills are just that awesome :p

    But as you say, it’s just like taking a bath. No matter how clean one stays during the day, bathing is still important to those who value hygiene. I’m still working on making a regular schedule for spiritual cleansing practice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • if you’re shielded, you still need to cleanse or your shields get gunked up and then collapse. anyone who tells you they don’t have to cleanse is full of it. lol.

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      • That is something that had not occurred to me, and I consider myself not completely ignorant. THIS is why I keep reading your blog- you’re always dropping informative bits and bits that make me think.

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  2. I find my shields get gunked up with internal and external ick… It’s not at all pleasant when that happens.

    I had to chuckle a bit at the article you quoted. By that logic, one shouldn’t wipe their derrière either lest it imply that they do, throughout they day, have poop inside of them!

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  3. Lots to say here, and to agree with…

    But, I’ll focus on something that I thought of based on the (awesome!) Theophrastos quote. As much as some modern polytheists might idealize and even idolize such conduct now, the point being made, I think, is to not overdo things and be–as you rightly pointed out–over-scrupulous. Based on the meanings of the roots of the word “superstition,” I think an interesting English translation of the word is “to overstand.” When we get a concept, we say we “understand” it, i.e. we stand beneath it and find ourselves in integrity at its stable foundations. But, if we take our understanding too far and it becomes impractical and over-idealized and ethereal, we no longer shelter beneath its lessons, but supersede it in our cleverness, our misguided zeal, and what-have-you, and thus we “overstand”it instead. It is thus possible for even a very observant polytheist not to be appropriately pious and devoted in their daily practices, but instead superstitious, i.e. overstanding rather than understanding the reasonable limits of them.

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    • i don’t actually think it’s possible to overdue devotion. we can never be devoted enough but that’s a different thing from superstitio or scrupulosity.

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      • It’s possible to overdo anything. Too much devotion is fanaticism. It is true, however, that our culture has normalized to a level of devotion that may be below the ideal.

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      • The key is “appropriately pious and devoted,” though. The level of devotion expected of someone who just started out and has recently come into contact with a given Deity may not be what it is for you or I, or some theoretical person who has 35+ years of devoted spirit work, etc. And yet, a lot of people come on board thinking they have to have a “spiritual athlete” level of devotion from the get-go, because that’s what someone else has or does, rather than finding their own level with it and–more importantly–finding out what the Deity-in-question would like (if anything!) from them. You’ve written–as have others–about how often people come in for the first time and expect to (and even ask to) “be you” and to have the same practices and such that you do from the start, which isn’t right for them and shouldn’t be something anyone tries to do, because they’re someone else and have their own path and situation and things to figure out with the Deities, etc.

        It might not be “bad” for such a person to overdo it, but it also might not be “right” or “required” for them to, either, if you see the difference.

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  4. Are you suggesting that there is no worldview or paradigm that this kind of need for cleansing doesn’t exist? Or that there could be Gods that don’t necessarily demand this kind of spiritual or emotional cleansing?

    Forgive me if I sound critical, but I practice a family tradition that dictates I be a cleansing agent of others, and that to remove that accumulation of “miasma,” as you put it, would be in direct antithesis to what my devotion requires of me. This sentiment you’re bringing across, to be frank, sounds quite a lot like it devalues the work of psychopomps, sin eaters, those who take confession, remove dead bodies or act as scapegoats in accordance to their personal devotion.

    I’d even be inclined to say that someone who’d intentionally pariah themselves from a world to do an unpleasant job for their Gods would be taking the ultimate act of devotion…much like Catholic monks and nuns who go and live in seclusion in their abbeys and monastaries, only to leave in order to minister to the sick and dying- or the Buddhist monks that take vows of silence but serve food to the poverty stricken. Neither of those groups have a mandate to “cleanse” themselves of a spiritual “yuck” that they could pick up. Instead, they are asked to contemplate and re-translate the experience into something that would strengthen their faith.

    As you mentioned, with “anti-theist” and “humanist” pagans being the ones who purport this rejection of a need to cleanse, I’d be loathe if I didn’t point out that in your criticism of such an idea, you’re devaluing the worth that suffering, pain, discomfort, and unpleasant experiences can have in strengthening a devotion. Much like a soldier can’t remove the trauma of losing a leg in a war, sometimes a spiritual “stench” or wound changes the way one would look at their devotion and practice. Why waste such an opportunity to grow?

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    • where are you getting this from I think i I made plenty allowances for such a path (though I don’t think it absolves the individual from basic spiritual hygiene).

      i also think you don’t have the faintest idea of what pollution is if you’re equating with suffering. If you like, i have some articles and books I can recommend. There’s a big difference between dealing with pain or trauma such as you suggest (and yes, that can be powerfully spiritually transformative) and dealing with day to day pollution.

      This should not be rocket science.

      and really, are you suggesting that people should remain in a state of spiritual pollution, potentially cut off from their Gods so YOUR path can be a little easier? Really?

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      • “Imagine how much better off our soldiers would be if they had these kinds of transitional and purifying ceremonies to guide their entrance back into civilian life? Instead, we just leave them in the gutter.”

        You can’t just suggest that “purification” of any sort would help a soldier come back into society better. Cathartic experiences are not how one treats PTSD, it takes time and support and a recognition of the experiences rather than some sort of representative cleaning. I work with veterans, specifically pagan vets on this concept as part of my outreach, and I’m telling you for a fact that the language you are using tells me that you don’t really understand the finer points of dealing with psychological or spiritual trauma in that sense.

        Maybe I have a different way of defining “pollution” than you do, but the whole point I even challenged in the first place was that you were purporting a worldview that wasn’t necessarily the singular “right” one. I don’t look at experiences that put me in contact with “spiritual ick” as self-polluting

        But you’re choosing to completely ignore what I’m saying in that my devotion to MY Gods is one that I intentionally walk myself down paths of discomfort and challenge to help others because that IS what brings me closer to my Gods, they demand a sacrifice of myself, to lay myself bare before them because that is the only way I could understand them. I don’t understand how that would make my path easier, if anything I’m choosing to go out and take things that hurt other people into myself and hold them to alleviate their pain. That doesn’t seem easier.

        I’m not suggesting that everyone do this at all (to each their own,) but I’m certainly challenging the fact that you seem to think everyone should be doing it your way.

        You can choose to insult and belittle me about it, but do remember: Odinn hung himself from a tree for nine days in order to gain the knowledge of the runes. And Fenris Ulfr has been chained and starving for a thousand years with a sword shoved in his mouth. And Tyr gave up his hand in order to chain something that trusted him. I think the best way for me to understand my devotion to them, would be by being in discomfort.

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      • Hey Cass, I know this reading comprehension thing is like really hard, but I wanted to encourage you and let you know that you’re getting close! In that quote you provided (which is a step up from your previous replies here) it says “transitional and purifying” – she clearly does not believe purification alone will suffice, though you continue to pretend that she does.

        You also seem to be conflating catharsis with ordeal, when it actually encompasses a far wider range of ritual activity and tech. Contrary to the faulty premise you’re floating is there’s not just one catch-all kind of purification rite. There isn’t in the Greek and Roman sources, and today I don’t know any competent ritual specialist (from all the traditions I’m conversant in) who works that way. When crafting a rite – especially for something like helping returning soldiers reintegrate – there would be a lot of tweaking, and adaptation and consultation with the client, not to mention divination and other forms of communication with their Gods and Spirits to determine what the necessary and correct course of action is.

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  5. I am all for the idea of Hygiene. I am all for the idea of (physical and spiritual) cleansing as a devotional / religious act when and where relevant- and I am doubly for the idea of participating in such cleansing if it is mandated by the faith you practice.

    However… Since you keep saying “Polytheists” like we are a homogenous group who believes in the exact same things? Ultimately I feel as if you are assuming that every culture and faith has a concept of Miasma- which, I may point out, is specifically a Hellenic concept. And while I don’t know whether or not the person you quoted and / or were talking to is specifically Hellenic, I do know that neither the concept of Miasma nor your specific concept of Piety apply to anyone who is not Hellenic.

    Irish Polytheism has no such mandate on spiritual cleansing. Likewise, they do not have a concept of “spiritual yuck” that one may get bogged down by. Or, at the very least, I have never found any mention of it in any anthropologically, historically, or lorically based research that I or my Community Members have done; though we do have a virtue (depending on how one interprets the Virtues) which involves physical beauty- which I do personally choose to translate (in part) as attention to our physical Hygiene.

    If you’re writing this in reference specifically to Hellenic Polytheists, that’s fine. I’d suggest changing your language in the post in order to reflect that. But if you’re writing (as it appears) as if this applies to all Polytheists, you’ll be hard pressed not to cause some waves. Because I do not feel the need to cleanse myself Spiritually for that reason- and I will not start doing so simply because someone from another faith system entirely thinks that we all should.

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    • The word ‘miasma’ is hellenic, the concept of ritual/spiritual pollution is not. I strongly suspect your Celtic/Irish ancestors would not have been ok with someone covered in blood and filth walking into a sacred spring or taking a shit in a sacred well.

      and if you’re suggesting that “piety” isn’t something aLL polytheists need to concern themselves with, take yourself out of the conversation.

      you’re part of the problem.

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      • You specifically speak of Miasma, I’m going to assume (logically) that you’re talking about the Hellenic concept as it relates to the Hellenic faith and its practitioners. If you’re not and you are speaking about Spiritual Pollution as a whole across the board? Then change your language. It’s that simple. However, I would still point out the fact that such a concept does not exist in all Polytheistic faiths.

        Furthermore, taking a shit in a sacred Well or bathing in a sacred Spring have nothing to do with Spiritual Uncleanliness. Are they rude actions? Certainly. Are they disrespectful to the Gods? Definitely. Are they actions which may physically (and, depending on your faith, spiritually) pollute sacred spaces? There’s no denying that. All around, either would be an abhorrent and disrespectful thing to do depending on the faith practiced. And I can’t say whether or not the Celts have any rituals which would include such actions for spiritual purposes, so I’d personally err on the side of not doing any of them for the obvious reasons. Especially since the Virtue of Beauty- as I interpret it in the Irish contexts- would prevent me from being that dirty physically n the first place… But it’s not the same thing; physical uncleanliness in Spiritual Spaces is a false equivalency and irrelevant comparison when we are talking specifically about Spiritual Cleansing and Spiritual Pollution. Unless, of course, you’re going to assert that Physical Cleansing has a part to play in or is a component of Spiritual Cleansing… And I’ll agree with that to an extent. I will. But again I’m going to state that it’s not the case for all Polytheistic faiths.

        And likewise, I never said Piety isn’t something people should be concerned about, either. I specifically said that your idea of Piety does not apply to everyone; the stipulations concerning those things which determine the piety of a practitioner differ from religion to religion. By Hellenic standards I might not be Pious. And that’s honestly fine by me. Quite frankly I don’t really care if I fit your definition of Pious, a Kemetic’s definition of Pious, or a Scottish Polytheist’s definition (etc), because their definitions and the stipulations of their faith don’t apply to me. What matters is whether or not I’m Pious by /Irish/ standards.

        If that fact somehow offends you for whatever reason or makes you feel as if “I’m a part of the problem” (what godforsaken problem would that even be, exactly?) then that’s absolutely fine by me.

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    • Milk, butter, water, and certain other substances have the ability to clean or purify in Irish tradition. If they are understood to have this ability, that means that something is “not clean” or “not pure” to start with. Washing something in milk doesn’t really get it physically clean, but it certainly can spiritually purify it on a symbolic level. It happens relatively frequently in Irish literary contexts (various stores of saints that don’t derive their practices from Christianity; the story of Suibhne Geilt, etc.), as well as in some folklore.

      Just sayin’.

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      • I think the confusion here is stemming from the fact that Miasma and spiritual polution in this context refers to the pollution of the person and their Spirit. And in that case, the existence of basic purification rites and products does not necessarily definitively prove that the Irish specifically believed in the concept of Miasma, or that Spiritual Impurities of that type existed wholesale. There is evidence of it for the Kingly Caste, yes. You could maybe argue it for Nobles, and maybe for Poets and Druids for obvious reasons. But there’s little evidence to suggest that it extended out of those Castes and to the Laypeople. Which I think is a large portion of our missunderstanding.

        I am talking about a concept of Spiritual Impurity- Miasma or not- of the personal spirit where the impurity was / is believed to affect, reduce, or otherwise inhibited your ability to perform your religious duties, connect with the gods, and so on, and (as such) is required by religious belief and law to be cleansed before entering sacred spaces, coming before the Gods, etc; a belief which applies to all practitioners regardless of caste and status.

        At least, that is what I gathered that we’ve been discussing this whole time. Apparently not however, as people keep bringing up the purification of spaces and asserting that if you’re purifying it it’s because it’s impure (that entirely depends on what you think impurities are, and I disagree). And in that case? The Irish, insofar as we can tell so far from the historical record, did not have such a belief- though they had a similar one for the Kingly caste specifically, and the argument could be made that a few other Castes coukd have as well (though not to that level).

        I’m sorry for any confusing my lack of defining the type of Spiritual Impurities I thought we were talking about much sooner.

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      • That’s pretty much how it works in most polytheist cultures, Anna. Part of the irony in the Theophrastos quote Galina posted is that the “Superstitious Man” is being overly scrupulous in his cleansings and related rites. That degree of purity was necessary only for those who are royalty, temple-keepers, priests, ritual specialists and related figures – and in many cases only when they are performing certain ceremonies or coming into contact with especially holy sites such as a temple or sacred grove. Some guy making offerings to his household Gods can get by with perfunctory cleansing, unless he has recently come into contact with serious contamination. (Such as illness, death or SJWs.)

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  6. Why is it that every time anyone mentions pollution and purification, there’s intense push back in our communities? Why is this so threatening to you? Either you believe this is a real thing, or you think it’s just people splashing some water on themselves. Either way, why does it bother you? Why is the concept of taking care and making oneself devotionally pure so fucking triggering?

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    • I’m not pushing back against the concept of Spiritual Pollution. I think it’s a very valid concept… But it’s valid for the religions that practice it. My religion doesn’t. Ergo, I don’t feel the need to do such cleansing, nor do I feel like such cleansing is integral to my Piety or Devotion as an Irish Polytheist because of it. Again, I’m not going to start doing so because someone from another faith system thinks that I should.

      My problem is when people say “Polytheist” and act as if all Polytheists believe the same things, or that all Polytheistic Faiths have the same concepts and ideologies. Worse, is when those people demand that others participate and believe in those same concepts regardless of their membership in that faith system. Why? Because one faith holding such a concept does not equate to all doing so- and not all do; you can’t say “Polytheists” and treat it like a Homogenized group to which all your philosophies apply, because they don’t. Likewise, you can’t then judge them or call them “bad Polytheists” when they fail (or outright refuse) to participate or believe in those concepts. Especially not when those concepts have no equivalent in their own faiths; what a Hellenic Polytheist believes and does has no bearing on what non-Hellenics do or don’t do / believe. Nor should it.

      But again, I’ll say that if this was not what you meant by your post… That’s genuinely fine. I would suggest changing the language in it, however, because it /is/ how it comes across and I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t appreciate it. If you refuse to change the language to clarify what you’re talking about, you’re going to get the same miscommunication that I had and you’re going to continue being exasperated over it.

      However, if you ARE genuinely saying what it comes across as you’re saying (and which I interpreted your post as having said)? Then you can’t do the textual equivalent of throwing your hands in the air, huffing, and acting like you are being victimized here. Because you’re not; if that really IS what you are doing / saying, then people very well do have the right to be upset with you for it.

      Demanding that others abide by the tenants of your own religion despite not being members is honestly no better than a Christian walking up to me and telling me that I’m going to hell for doing x, y, or z thing that’s against the Christian faith. I don’t care that it’s against the Christian faith. I’m not a Christian. Likewise, I don’t care about Hellenic ideas of Miasma or Piety because I’m not Hellenic. These things do not impact me. They do not have any relation to my own faith or my own Gods. Telling me or anyone else that we must do so is not only absurd, but it is rude and intolerant and I (and others) expect far better from my (our) fellow Polytheists regardless of their faith.

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      • Where am I saying this? point it out, or move along. You are having a conversation with yourself here, completely devoid from reality. i recommend cleansing, because you’re clearly not reading what’s there.

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      • I never said you said it. I said that it’s what I do have a problem with… And that problem is what your article appears to say / how it comes across in what you wrote due to the language that you used and way in which you wrote it. Likewise, I have said many times that if that’s not what you meant by it that’s fine. But again, I would suggest changing the language in it if that’s the case because it is how it came across to me, and I’m not the only person who may interpret it in such a manner.

        Maybe you’re the one that needs cleansing? I’ve repeated this for you several times now and you appear not to be grasping it for some reason.

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      • thetinfoilhatsociety

        The concept of holy water predates Christianity. It is a thing in Ireland, hence all the sacred springs and wells. Therefore, logically, it follows that they *did* believe in spiritual pollution – it caused illness – and consuming or being sprinkled with the holy water was cleansing that spiritual pollution. Also look at specific pre Christian prayers for illness. Oh, yes, they understood perfectly well the concept of spiritual illness.

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      • Holy Waters are waters considered Sacred or Blessed, which are used for Purification or Blessing- either of spaces or of people, items, etc. They’re found in many cultures, though not all of them make them the same way or use them for the same purposes. I hardly think that the existence and use of Holy Water (of any sort) definitively proves that a culture had a concept of Spiritual Impurity- especially not the concept of Miasma specifically. Doubly so when you consider the fact that Blessing and Purification are not /reliant/ on the idea of Spiritual Impurity. Not unless you are going to say that ALL negativity or other things which people usually see to remove through such use of Holy water constitute as Spiritual Impurity… And I’d be hard pressed to agree with you on that front.

        However, if you would read my reply to the individual who brought up the subject of Geise and Kings of Ireland… You would see that I did in fact state that the Irish had a concept of Spiritual Impurity of some form… But that it’s not the same as Miasma as practiced and believed in by Hellenic Polytheists; those Geise did not extend to laypeople, and other Castes had their own levies on their actions which were not necessarily the same as the other Castes of people in Irish society.

        Spiritual Illness is also not the same thing as Spiritual Impurity. Some cultures do believe that Spiritual Impurities could cause physical illnesses, but that’s not true (again) of all Polytheistic faiths. Yes there is minutely a similar ideology concerning Kingship in Ireland and their marriage to the land… But again, that doesn’t extend to the Laypeople and applies only to the Kings of Ireland.

        There is also the question of how much has been Christianized, especially in terms of surviving Irish texts, lore, and other elements. In some areas (especially concerning Prayers), you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the Irish community who would say that the existence of x in x prayer definitively proves x existed in the historical record prior to Christianization. That assertion requires suggestive materials in the historical record (like the Law Texts, or other primary sources) in order for that conclusion to be drawn. And while it’s vaguely indisputable the irish certainly had a concept of SOME sort of Spiritual Impurity, it’s certainly not Miasma.

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      • thetinfoilhatsociety

        Holy Waters are waters considered Sacred or Blessed, which are used for Purification…” You don’t purify something that’s already pure. You purify something that is contaminated in some way.

        No, spiritual illness is *not* the same as spiritual impurity. I don’t believe I said that though I can see where you might think I did. It does though, very often lead to illness whether spiritual or physical.

        I note that you originally said that the Irish had no concept of spiritual impurity. And now you are saying it’s vaguely indisputable. Which is a contradiction in terms: either it’s vague or it’s indisputable. And miasma, while I 100% agree is not part of other polytheistic faiths, is a valid concept that has been defined at length and pretty clearly in other posts, so to pretend that because a particular word is used it doesn’t apply is disingenuous.

        Please name me one culture that doesn’t believe, or hasn’t in pre-Christian times, that spiritual impurity doesn’t cause physical illness. I’d seriously be interested in reading more about that culture.

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      • There’s a few Old Irish words you should get to know: éilned, éil(l)ed, and trúailned, all of which are related and can cover both physical as well as spiritual or moral pollution/corruption/defilement, etc.

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      • I appreciate them and will look further int o them when I have the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Cass: I know people who can eat spiritual impurities and negative emotion. (Check out some of Raven Kaldera’s writings on psychic vampirism for more on this subject). But these people don’t wallow in filth: they engage in regular cleansings, baths, etc. If your family tradition come out of Appalachian folk witchcraft it is derived from English folk customs: AIUI “sin eaters” were poor, marginalized people who earned a meager living from their work and who were shunned by the rest of the community as spiritual and psychic hazards. (This was a classic quarantine: shunning was not a punishment against individual sinners but a quarantine against group contagion). If you are engaging in this kind of work you should take pains to limit your contact with vulnerable people — children, pregnant women, the sick who are not seeking your services, etc. — as you are dangerous to them. If you are not living as a recluse you are not practicing your family tradition, you are engaging in toxic roleplaying which proves Browning’s point about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.

    Anna: as we reconstruct Polytheism we’ve found ourselves forced to find new words to describe old traditions. “Ashe” (spiritual energy) and “Horse” (possessed person) have been borrowed from African and African Diaspora purposes. “Chakras” have come into common use though that knowledge was originally confined to Hinduism. And “Miasma” is a perfectly fine word to describe a spiritual pollution which, as Galina notes, is recognized by many other traditions. As she also notes, your Irish ancestors would very much not have been OK with somebody urinating on Brigid’s flame or showing up covered with filth for a sacred ceremony. I would add to that the various taboos laid upon Irish Kings suggest pre-Christian Ireland was very much aware of spiritual purity and impurity.

    The English “piety” comes from the Latin “Pietas.” Pietas is a word I’ve tried to reclaim for modern Polytheism: in Latin it signified right interaction between parents and children, between individuals and the community, between rulers and ruled, and between worshippers and Gods. Each was part of a holistic worldview: problems within one sphere would quickly spread to the others if not dealt with. This idea is certainly not unique to Roman culture: I’d point to Confucianism as one example. (And getting back to those Irish kings, wasn’t there an idea that a bad king could bring all sorts of misery to the community up to and including famines and plagues?)

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    • I am Sami, so no- my practice does not come from the Appalachian folk magic practice, and while I can understand what your concerns would be- what I am doing is by no means related to what you’re describing. I understand the sentiment that you’re suggesting, and I do agree with it, though it doesn’t apply to me.

      Though I might point out that “sin eating” isn’t an originally English practice, it dates back to pre-Reformation Gaelic Catholic practices and while sin-eaters were somewhat societal pariahs, they were viewed as very important members of their communities, even though they were kept outcast. Very much like how a “cunning woman” would have been viewed in Puritan American Colonies before the Salem incidents.

      I’m not suggesting that one wallow in literal filth, but what I was challenging was that there are world views that look at “spiritual dirt” not as something that needs to be cleaned off, but something that can be “eaten.” We eat food. Sometimes food tastes bad or may make you sick, but your body still knows what to do with it- convert it to fuel or get it out. There’s no need to make it more complicated than that when talking about this. I’m not suggesting that my perspective is “THIS WAY ONLY.” Though, I’m definitely challenging the fact that Galina seems to be saying so.

      Re: Irish Kings, yes there was, this is why the “marriage to the land” was so important. I’ve got a few really interesting articles I dug up while I was studying in Europe on this subject, most of them pertaining to the Caeilleachan myths, should you like to read them. 🙂

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      • Where in the article are you finding this? It’s not there. I choose my words carefully — the beauty of being a philologist. You are projecting and this is probably why you’re getting so worked up. May I recommend you do some cleansings and reread the article and i’m going to keep suggesting that every fucking time you mis represent what I said.

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      • Thank you, that is very helpful. I know little about Sami practices so any information you wish to share on the topic would be greatly appreciated. But I would note that the whole concept of “sin eating” (again I’m reclaiming a term for modern usage, with the caveat that the specifics of this practice vary in the cultures where it appears) carries with it as a presupposition the idea of “sin” and uncleanliness. I don’t know if Sami “sin eaters” are social pariahs, but the fact that Gaelic and English sin eaters were shunned suggests those cultures were aware of the dangers attendant upon spiritual pollution.

        In my nearly 52 years, I have yet to encounter any traditional religious practice which did not distinguish between clean and unclean. Given the dangers of food poisoning and sepsis, that distinction was and is a literal matter of life and death in the mundane world: why would that not be the case in the spiritual world? Once again, the specifics of what was and was not “unclean” differed as did the means by which one was purified. But the clean/filthy axis certainly was part and parcel of every traditional religious practice I have run into. (And I find it telling that the only people I have heard saying “we don’t need purifications” are people who grew up in the modern West where refrigeration and antibiotics have given us the luxury of taking cleanliness for granted).

        There is no THIS WAY ONLY for dealing with spiritual pollution: we all agree that there are varying approaches to the problem. The important things are that we acknowledge spiritual pollution exists; that it can be a problem; and that removing that pollution by whatever means is important. But given the dangers attendant upon spiritual pollution, I do not think it an issue which we can dismiss with “everyone’s entitled to their opinion” any more than we might say “it’s fine to free-handle your pet cobra” or “the jury is still out on whether or not gobbling large quantities of arsenic is a bad thing.”

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      • I made an interesting point down in a later comment thread to defend kind of what we are talking about here with more reference to what Galina was talking about originally and why I even got into this conversation in the first place that addresses why I felt the need to insert my opinion because there is an inherent value judgement that I find unfortunate and wanted to attempt to talk about. But yes, I do agree with you on many of these points- though I still have my own perspectives, both from Gaelic and my Sami one and I’d love to pick your brain.

        Since Sami culture is an indigenous, and therefore closed though in the last 20-30 years of still being marginalized and stamped out, they have opened it somewhat and there are things I can share that I didn’t used to be able to. I sent you a message over on your blog which has my email address if you’d like to continue that discussion so we don’t hijack this post any further?

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      • I’m arsenic skeptical and believe more experimentation should be performed. I have a list of folks who’d make excellent test subjects if need be.

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    • ” as we reconstruct Polytheism we’ve found ourselves forced to find new words to describe old traditions. “Ashe” (spiritual energy) and “Horse” (possessed person) have been borrowed from African and African Diaspora purposes. “Chakras” have come into common use though that knowledge was originally confined to Hinduism. And “Miasma” is a perfectly fine word to describe a spiritual pollution which, as Galina notes, is recognized by many other traditions.”

      I don’t agree with “Chakras”, “Horse”, “Ashe”, or any other appropriated words being used in Polytheism outside of the religions and practices they come from- just like I do not agree with “Miasma” being used to refer to all Spiritual Impurities or Pollution across all Polytheistic faiths. I’ll accept that others might, and that’s their prerogative. But I don’t, and I won’t because they have specific meanings within their parent practices, and many times those meanings are dependant on certain ideologies or concepts held within those faiths that may not have equivalents outside of them (which either forces you to strip a portion of its meaning, or otherwise redefine it to work outside of those systems. Neither of which is an action I am ok with participating in.

      “As she also notes, your Irish ancestors would very much not have been OK with somebody urinating on Brigid’s flame or showing up covered with filth for a sacred ceremony. I would add to that the various taboos laid upon Irish Kings suggest pre-Christian Ireland was very much aware of spiritual purity and impurity.”

      If you will read my second response to her, you will see that I agreed that they likely wouldn’t be ok with that. However, you will also note that I stated I don’t have any information to definitively say so, because that information no longer exists in the historical record- and for all I know, the Celts very well could have had rituals wherein washing blood off you in a sacred spring could have been a devotional act. /Yet/ I would err on the side of not doing it for the obvious reasons (it’s rude and disrespectful to the Sacred Spaces and the Gods they service). However, this to me does not apply to nor has no bearing on the Spiritual Uncleanliness of us as people, and the need to remove that Spiritual uncleanliness before ritual acts. Not unless you assert that Physical Hygiene has an impact on Spiritual Hygiene- which I would personally agree with but again remind you that not all Polytheistic faiths have this same idea.

      “I would add to that the various taboos laid upon Irish Kings suggest pre-Christian Ireland was very much aware of spiritual purity and impurity […] And getting back to those Irish kings, wasn’t there an idea that a bad king could bring all sorts of misery to the community up to and including famines and plagues?”

      In this you are correct. I never said that the Irish did not have a concept of Spiritual Impurity. As you noted, the Geise laid upon the King and the Marriage to the Land suggests that the Pre-Christian Irish did at least recognize the concept of Spiritual Impurity in some form. And yes, there was a belief that the impurity of the King could affect the land. I did, however, say that they did not have an equivalent of the concept of Miasma- which in Hellenic Polytheism applies to all Worshipers / Practitioners (to my knowledge) and encompasses not only /their/ concept of Spiritual Impurity, but also the rituals and actions through which one may gain or be exposed to such impurities as well as remove them from one’s self, and what one may or may not do when tainted by it.

      And while there are some similar themes in the Marriage of the Land, this does not apply to laypeople in Irish Polytheism; the Geise laid upon the King are specific only to the Kings of Ireland. It had a lot more to do with the fact that Kingship was tied to the land, and the King was the representative of the land and its health (and being tied to the land, could therefore affect it). As a result, the King was required to be as pure as the land lest he taint it. This does not, however, extend to the average person or Practitioner and there’s little evidence that laypeople participated in such things. One might make the argument that Heroes, Nobles, Warriors, and a few other Castes may have had related requirements dependant on their Castes, but certainly not to the extent that the Kings of Ireland did. Furthermore, I am none of these things. I am a Housewife and a Poet. I might be bound to the Geise and Virtues (and other requirements levied on) of the Poet Class, but I’m not bound by any others; the Irish system was incredibly Caste based in many regards.

      There is also the consideration that in many cases Geise is not the same thing as Miasma, or Spiritual Uncleanliness as a whole- though they can be translated in some aspects as being similar. That similarity, however, is open to interpretation and is hotly debated among Irish Polytheists… Particularly in that there is a large question concerning whether or not Geise as a whole is nothing more than a literary concept, or a legitimate religious one.

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      • That’s better! I still don’t agree, but at least it’s actually engaging with the text and not just screeching at ghosts of conversations past. Well done.

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      • If you’d put half as much effort into reading what I’ve been writing this entire time as opposed to unnecessarily chastising me for some imagined lack of reading comprehension, you might have realized I’ve been doing it all along, and that I’ve said the exact same thing several times in various places and responses.

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  8. I can’t believe you, Anna. With one side of your mouth you say there’s no such thing and then with the other you sit there and talk about the exact same things i’ve been talking about. you just call it by a different name, which makes me wonder why you have such strong feelings about this. And you really believe it would be better for people not to do ANYTHING with regard to making themselves appropriate in coming before the Gods and Holy Places, because you don’t have an elaborate purification rite preserved in Celtic literature? That’s fucking ridiculous. This is precisely why i use ‘miasma.’ I’m a trained Classicist. I’m most familiar with these sources and thus this is the perspective that I”m sharing here. I”m not going to change my language to suit you, especially when you’re clearly confused on how to practice your own religion. Ask yourself again, why this triggers you so much. I think that would be fertile ground for reflection, and yes, as an animist i do believe that physical substances and acts affect spiritual states and I do believe physical cleansing is part of spiritual cleansing. As i’ve said, clearly. many times before. I do not make this modernist distinction between these things.

    You either need to drop this rhetorical shit, or go back and reread my article because then you would clearly see i’m not saying you need to uphold MY standards of purity; i’m saying you need to uphold YOUR Gods’ standards of purity and those standards will certainly differ from my Gods’ standards but they still exist and should be adhered to, whatever tradition you claim to practice.

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    • Don’t confuse a respectful challenge of what I perceived your post as saying (which, again, if that’s not what you were saying that’s fine) with being “worked up or upset”, dear.

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    • Hmm… It looks like when I initially replied to this comment I didn’t see it in its entirety. I only caught the bottom portion of the first paragraph. I’m sorry for that.

      >> “as an animist i do believe that physical substances and acts affect spiritual states” <> “I do believe physical cleansing is part of spiritual cleansing. As i’ve said, clearly. many times before. I do not make this modernist distinction between these things” <> “With one side of your mouth you say there’s no such thing and then with the other you sit there and talk about the exact same things i’ve been talking about.” <> “And you really believe it would be better for people not to do ANYTHING with regard to making themselves appropriate in coming before the Gods and Holy Places, because you don’t have an elaborate purification rite preserved in Celtic literature? That’s fucking ridiculous.” <> “i’m saying you need to uphold YOUR Gods’ standards of purity and those standards will certainly differ from my Gods’ standards but they still exist and should be adhered to, whatever tradition you claim to practice.” <> “This is precisely why i use ‘miasma.’ I’m a trained Classicist. I’m most familiar with these sources and thus this is the perspective that I”m sharing here. I”m not going to change my language to suit you.” <> “especially when you’re clearly confused on how to practice your own religion. Ask yourself again, why this triggers you so much. I think that would be fertile ground for reflection” <> “You either need to drop this rhetorical shit, or go back and reread my article because then you would clearly see i’m not saying you need to uphold MY standards of purity” <<

      Absolutely none of this was rhetorical. It was a legitimate concern based on how I interpreted your post- which was in turn based on the language you used within it.

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      • I really should have chosen something better to make you quotes stand out more… Goddamnit.

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      • And of course there’s no way to recover the lost text or edit it. -sigh- This would be a lot less frustrating if I had known prior to submitting it that WordPress apparently accepts standard HTML input in its comments -_-

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  9. Cass, you actually need to stop, back off, calm down and reread my article. Find exactly where I say that a single, simple purification ritual is the ENTIRETY of what a veteran needs to reintegrate into society. You won’t find that, because that’s not what i said. When you actually respond to what i’m saying, and not ghosts of conversations in your head, we can have a conversation. Until then, might i recommend doing some cleansing work? You’re clearly in need of it.

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    • I’m very calm. And I have read everything, I just don’t agree. So I was attempting to have a dialogue with you about this in a professional academic manner because I like to stretch my ability to comment and debate on concepts that I may not necessarily agree with. It’s something that I find important to do if I want to be a leader in my community and be able to open my perspective to some ideas I may not have agreed with.

      As to this commentary you insist on throwing at me, I do apologize if you feel attacked in any way, it was not my intention. Though I may ask that you extend me the same courtesy as a peer and a professional.

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      • I would honestly ignore her, Cass. No rational dialogue can be had with this one and it’s not worth it; it’s obvious she doesn’t understand what dialogue actually even is if her default is to attempt to paint those who challenge her as angry- no matter how respectful, calm, or well worded our responses are… Because obviously we can ONLY disagree with the perceived statement of the post if we’re irrational, angry, “worked up” or “triggered” by its content. SMDH.

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      • Kind of challenging to have mutually respectful dialogue when you’re not actually responding to what the woman wrote.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I did respond by asking questions and challenging the ideas that I read and offering my own perspectives. This was received by a demand to show how I had drawn those conclusions followed by a value judgement of my practice, though she doesn’t know what it is- just chose to suggest that I wasn’t practicing any kind of devotion at all.

        I have not insulted or said that she was flat out wrong in any way, though that courtesy wasn’t extended to me, even after the dialogue changed with outside commentary entering in. I’m not here to participate in some kind of headhunt, though it looks like I’m about to have one thrown on me for the simple sin of disagreeing.

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  10. From my perspective, sin eating and miasma are two different things. Sin eating as I see it has to do with righting a wrong or keeping the community safe. Miasma is simply pollution that happens when you encounter the dead or other things in your daily life. One is active and the other is passive.

    Why is miasma a trigger word? Perhaps, we all still have a bit of Christianity still rattling around in our brains. We equate sin with pollution. Sin is an active deed what Christians seem to promote that people do unconsciously and consciously. It is a part of the religion that you have Christ’s sacrifice to wash everyone of their sins. In other words, you can’t get rid of it unless you go through Christ. You have the concept of Original Sin, that people are born already sinful, and need to be cleansed from birth. “Washed in the blood of the Lamb” or confessing and having a priest absolve you of sins.

    Pollution is something that people can cleanse themselves since it is not a misdeed. It is a part of living, that needs to be attended to. Purity is a part of many rituals. Most rituals have people wash themselves or be saged or cleansed before undertaking the ritual. That is to make sure that pollution removed from the participants before they conduct a holy act for the Gods.

    I have no idea why people think that what Galina blogs is some sort of decree from Above. I certainly don’t think that.

    As for miasma, I am reminded of PVSL’s discussion of miasma for those who attended the Many Gods West last year. At the time, a few people regarded his warning as silly and miasma as silly. Since then, PVSL’s group has dissolved and reformed with other people. Patheos with Mankey (a proponent of miasma as silly) is in a royal mess with Halstead. There seems to be evidence that miasma is real in some form.

    I am a Roman polytheist, and miasma is not something that Romans think about. However, purity in rituals is something Romans do as a part of their piety. So cleansing is a part of piety for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That’s honestly why I didn’t get into the debating what miasma was, because that was an irrelevancy to me. Ultimately, I consider some things that get thrown out there as “miasma” to be simple social responsibilities born from people not communicating with each other or bringing their own personal baggage into a situation. Thank you for bringing up the PVSL discussion, though, it makes a good point. I didn’t enter this in an attempt to fight with her in some sort of contest of wills, I just believe that part of growing a community is debate and dialogue- though that seems to be challenging some days.

      “Miasma is a type of spiritual pollution. One can pick up miasma by exposing oneself to things that are antithetical to the Gods and Their traditions. These things can shift a person’s head and heart space out of receptivity and reverence for the Gods. They can also leave a taint. Over time, it destroys our ability not just for any discernment with the Powers and spirits, but even our ability to tell what is good and holy from that which is not. That’s one of the dangers of pollution and our world is riddled with it.”

      This comment above is probably what got me into the conversation in the first place, because while my mental state can affect how I go about my practice- it doesn’t affect how I relate to my gods. It’s got more to do with my diet, routine, health and general exercise- an while letting that routine fall to pieces and affect my ability to practice, there’s not really an “extra” level of cleansing that my worldview requires I get in to. For me, piety is really about being in “fighting” shape- though there’s absolutely zero formality to it. Just “do.”

      Where I challenged her post and how the concept of miasma that was being purported not a one-size fits all was this:

      “Some things are only miasmic with certain types of worship, and with certain deities, or for roles and types of work (ancestor work vs plant work, shaman vs. seer vs. laity—there will be different taboos and requirements). Sometimes when you’re called to work with certain Powers and do certain work, that cuts off certain opportunities. That’s too bad. That’s just the nature of devotion. It’s possible to appreciate from a distance without being able to engage.”

      Given the nature of my worldview and my practice, this simply isn’t true at all. The things I do inside of my devotional practice don’t affect my ability to deal with the outside world or cut me off from other opportunities, I choose the path that I walk- I may turn away from a god calling me down another path, but I don’t view that as being “cut off” because it’s not anyones choice but mine. And that what I had attempted to enter into a dialogue about in the first place, though that door was shut very quickly and turned into some kind of attempt to just fight over decontextualized concepts.

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      • This comment above is probably what got me into the conversation in the first place, because while my mental state can affect how I go about my practice- it doesn’t affect how I relate to my gods.

        Read that quote again. She is not making a statement about all Gods and all devotees. In fact as she goes on to state later different expectations and requirements may apply. If that doesn’t hold true for your Gods and Spirits, why assume she’s addressing you?

        Given the nature of my worldview and my practice, this simply isn’t true at all.

        Maybe if I bold that quote it will help.

        Some things are only miasmic with certain types of worship, and with certain deities, or for roles and types of work (ancestor work vs plant work, shaman vs. seer vs. laity—there will be different taboos and requirements). Sometimes when you’re called to work with certain Powers and do certain work, that cuts off certain opportunities. That’s too bad. That’s just the nature of devotion. It’s possible to appreciate from a distance without being able to engage.

        Better?

        Liked by 3 people

      • Look, I practice a Heathen tradition based in a worldview from an indigenous family practice and given that Galina and I work with the same gods, it would be reasonable for me to at least open up a dialogue about the fact that our individual worldviews- while dealing with the same dieties- are not the same and therefore was an interesting opportunity for us to have a civil discussion in which both of us could have walked away having learned something and maybe changed our own perspectives.

        Being in disagreement with a sentiment does not mean that I have said that it is wrong. It is just a simple disagreement, not an argument or a conflict. People have different worldviews- and when someone shares a commonality with my practice in any way, I’m going to take that as an opportunity to challenge myself. Galina was unwilling to do the same, decided that I was attacking her by the simple reality of a difference of opinion and then attacked me and put me in a position to defend my point of view. Which I most certainly will.

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      • “Galina and I work with the same gods”

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      • I love it when people use language that suggests they are colleagues of the Gods.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. @thehouseofvines, it won’t let me reply since the thread is too deep so I hope you’ll forgive me for responding this way re your comment of “Kind of challenging to have mutually respectful dialogue when you’re not actually responding to what the woman wrote.”

    I read what she wrote. I responded from the POV of what I interpreted it as saying based on the language used- and I gave her ample opportunity to clarify that was not what she meant by it. Furthermore, I was respectful in that response and continue to be respectful to her.

    Instead of clarifying and allowing me to apologize for my interpretation of her post in that manner, however? She has levied claims that I am (apparently) “triggered” by her post, irrational, upset, and angry (none of which I am). She also brought up things which I ultimately don’t feel have any bearing on the conversation at hand (not unless she bothers to actually give me rational clarification as to how they interact for her, which again she hasn’t bothered to do). I have only responded to what she has given me… Which at this point appears to be mostly screaming and tantrum throwing.

    And if you can’t be bothered to clarify someone’s misunderstanding of your post- let alone form a cohesive argument against their challenge- and altogether put more effort into yelling at people, calling them “a part of the problem”, and painting them as irrational, angry, ‘worked up’, and ‘triggered’ because they disagreed with you and / or interpreted your post a different way that intended? It’s a little hard to have a dialogue, and the fault certainly isn’t on my end.

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    • She asked you to show her where in her post the ideas you claim she’s expressing can be found. Thus far you haven’t been able to do so. You keep talking about your “interpretation” and your “feelings”, as if they have any relevance to the discussion at hand. You can continue doing that over and over until she gets bored and bans you for trolling, or you can resume engaging with consensual reality and contribute constructive critical commentary. I am gonna go take a shower because I find all of this rather gross.

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      • If you noticed, I responded to that (my apologies for not noticing her response sooner. I do, after all, have other things to do today- some of which I’m doing at the same time as I’m having this conversation).

        In fact, though… I’ve responded to it several times in several locations. Most of them well before she even demanded that I point to the exact place she outright said it. And every time my response has been the exact same: She didn’t outright say it. But that’s how the language she used within the post comes across as a whole. Because you can use language which /suggests/ something subliminally, without outright saying it. The fact that you didn’t outright say it doesn’t negate the argument that it’s how it was interpreted, and you are responsible for that interpretation based on the language you used.

        And again, if that’s not what she meant by it, that is fine. I have significantly less a problem with the post if that is the case. In fact, there’s no problem with the post at all if that’s the case, because i’ve made it clear that I don’t disagree with the concept of Miasma (in its relevant Traditions) or the idea of Spiritual Impurity and the need to cleanse it. But my problem is specifically with the what the post was interpreted as saying, and the kind of action that is… And action she has, as of yet, to actually refute and state was not what she meant. And like I said (multiple times now), if that’s not what she meant then no big deal. I don’t have a problem with what she said. But I’ve suggested many times (in may locations, even) that if that was not what she meant by it then she might want to change the language in the post to clarify it in order to prevent future misunderstandings because I’m not the only person who could interpret it that way.

        I mean really. It’s right there in everything that I have wrote so far. Multiple times I’ve said the same exact thing. I fail to see how the two of you continue to miss it… At this point is willing obtuseness on your parts.

        Enjoy your shower.

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      • But that’s how the language she used within the post comes across as a whole. Because you can use language which /suggests/ something subliminally, without outright saying it. The fact that you didn’t outright say it doesn’t negate the argument that it’s how it was interpreted, and you are responsible for that interpretation based on the language you used.

        So you’re really to the point where you’re accusing Galina of putting in subliminal cues to make you think you saw something that objectively was not there. Wow, that’s uh … pretty special. Don’t think I’ve seen that argument deployed before.

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      • Where on earth do you get “Galina is intentionally putting subliminal cues into her writing to make me think I saw x in it” out of “the language you used in the post is suggestive of x point, whether that was your intent or not, and I’d suggest changing the language in it if it wasn’t”? You really are obtuse, aren’t you?

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      • Wow, now you’re having trouble comprehending what YOU YOURSELF WROTE just a couple moments before. Thank you for providing such clear examples of the befuddling consequences of miasma. I’ll definitely be sending this around to my students.

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      • I hope they get a good lesson out of it at least.

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      • I’m sure they’ll recognize that all of this has been staged and carefully orchestrated.

        Or, you know, my wife is using her reality-warping mind powers again.

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  12. @thehouseofvines, Coming into a conversation hours later and then making passive aggressive comments out of context and out of order in defense of someone (who I imagine is your friend) is bad form. By all means continue to insult me, but if you were actually interested in this dialogue rather than just pushing buttons to get a more emotional response then you wouldn’t be resorting to this kind of pediatric behavior. But by all means, if that’s what’s going to entertain you today, keep at it. I’ve said my piece and made some new acquaintances that I’ll be able to continue this discussion with in a civil manner in other avenues.

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    • Note which comments I’m responding to. Only the ones where you lie, distort, and shriek at phantom text others cannot see. On the other hand, when you’re actually responding to what was written and providing reasoned counterarguments and insightful contributions from your own tradition and personal experience, you get no grief from me.

      And here’s the thing: Galina is my wife. You would know that if you actually followed her blog, as she mentions me fairly often by name. So I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest you came here already pissed off, linked by some biased third party. You let their account shape your expectations, only read so far as to find something that annoyed you and then went off all half-cocked, until you started getting called on it.

      Tell me I’m wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t aware I was shrieking or lying at all when I directly quoted a statement and then commented directly back to it. There are plenty of instances in the above comments if Galina doing quite the same.

        Congratulations for defending your wife. It’s an honorable thing to do, but you don’t know me and have projected an idea that I was intending to do her some kind of injury by entering into a discussion with her. I know exactly who you are, which is why I even deigned to continue responding to you once you got involved.

        I saw the post in my reader feed (check her follows, I’ve been following her for a while,) read through it, disagreed and then decided to attempt to have a discussion about it. It’s a subject I’m passionate about but I’m not really the type to have hurt feelings or be “pissy.” I am blunt, to the point and don’t spare for pretty words or sentimental types of writing when I’m attempting to have a discussion. So please, do me the courtesy of not making an assumption about me or my motivations when I walk into a discussion. Or even go read my own blog to get an idea of who I might be as a person rather than making assumptions about me.

        Yes, you are wrong. You are very wrong.

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      • As the Dude once said:

        Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

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      • Well you did get one thing right: She did link me to the article. But everything else is incredibly incorrect.

        She linked me to the article because she thought it was a good one despite having some concerns. In fact, we both think it’s a good article despite having concerns about it (though we have two completely different sets of concerns, even if both involve the language used). I’ve even repeatedly stated personally that if my concern wasn’t what was actually being done, then I have no problem with the article. But Cass certainly didn’t link me to it because “she was already pissed off” and wanted “a biased third party” to bitch with her about it.

        Re: the idea that “we let their account shape your expectations, only read so far as to find something that annoyed you and then went off all half-cocked, until you started getting called on it”, though?

        Firstly, as you can see by my responses from start to finish I’ve been very open and forthright about recognizing I may have been interpreting the post incorrectly. In fact. virtually all of my responses have included the caveat that “if that’s not what you meant, that’s fine. But if it was […]”. Ergo, obviously I didn’t “only read so far as to find something that annoyed me and went off half cocked until I got called on it”; my stance has been, from the very start, the exact same. And it was all of the way up until I received / noticed the received clarification finally. I attempted to respond to that clarification in full once I noticed it, but as you can clearly see up there? I fucked the coding up in my response because I didn’t know WordPress’ comments on blogs recognize standard HTML input (now I know, and maybe I’ll rewrite my response later when I’m less frustrated by that mistake of mine since I put so much effort into that response).

        Furthermore, I actually have several books by Galina on my bookshelf right now and I’m currently working my way through her book on Devotional Polytheism. I don’t always agree with what she says, obviously. But I respect her and appreciate her material. So, again obviously, I’m not “letting her account color my opinion of her”.

        I am, however, allowing my treatment here today color my opinion of her. Because apparently that respect is not mutual given two basic concerns by different users has been met with such vitriol by the two of you; you really want to talk about warping reality and what not… But the two of you apparently think that our concerns (and disagreement based on those concerns) are some strange attack being carried out by irrational, angry, “worked up”, “triggered” people and have repeatedly stated so despite us not actually doing anything to suggest such. And that’s not only incredibly rude behavior, but it’s completely ridiculous. Especially since they were simple concerns and misunderstandings that could have been clarified without such childishness- in less than 5 seconds, even.

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      • Wow, and the responses keep coming in. You just can’t help yourself, can you? Do you even know why you’re still commenting or is it just instinctual at this point? “Maybe if I repeat myself again, this time they’ll come around to seeing things my way.” Well, no. That’s not going to happen and it doesn’t need to since we are never doing ritual together, and hell, you and I aren’t even debating the post we’re talking tinfoil hat conspiracies and proper netiquette. Good times.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was responding to the assertion that we’re apparently angry people who hate Galina and came here simply to stir up shit. I did so because it was incorrect, and because last I checked this was a public comment thread on which I was currently being allowed (by the creator of the post on which it is being hosted on) to carry on a conversation… So yes. I know why I’m commenting and what I’m responding to. I don’t think I actually repeated myself in that one, though… But ok.

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      • How irritating is it that I won’t give you the last word?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t aware that I needed it or was even seeking it out… You keep saying things and I’m simply responding. I thought that’s how conversation worked (no matter how asinine that conversation is)?

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  13. I’m going to respond to all the comments here in one long comment. I’m at school with about twenty minutes before I run to class so I may respond more fully when I get home tonight but this will have to do for now.

    CASS, if you practice a Sami tradition, then you and I do not practice the same tradition. Sami practices do not equal Heathenry and the Sami did not actually venerate the Norse Gods. Heathenry refers solely to those traditions that venerate the Norse Gods primarily (unless you’re going to play humanist pagan and try to co opt the term so you can destroy it). I do think Sami can be said to be ‘northern tradition’ but that’s a rather broad category of multiple traditions. There was cross pollination of course between the Sami and the Norse (there’s a wonderful book by T. Dubois “Nordic Religions in the Viking Age” that discusses this quite coherently if you’re interested) but they were two separate cultures, traditions, and pantheons. I wasn’t aware ‘sin-eating’ was a Sami practice.

    Nor do I consider us peers and professionals. I would have to know a hell of a lot more about your experience, qualifications, and credentials for that to occur. That doesn’t mean that I dismiss your thoughts and opinions, but neither do I want to jump the gun. I don’t know you nor have I seen the quality of your work.

    ANNA, my impression from your initial comments was that you came here specifically to attempt to back me into a corner where I would relativize this idea of pollution. You are not the first person to attempt this. You will likely not be the last. The slipperiness with which you play with your language is, for me, clear indication of this. You contradicted yourself from post to post constantly shifting the ground by which a clear definition might be made.

    HOUSE OF VINES: I think you were the one who commented that I might get tired and block one of these two. Probably not. I’ve blocked two people over the time I’ve had this blog, I don’t remember why I blocked the first, but the second was a humanist “Playgan” who kept making offensive and impious statements about the Gods and those who venerate Them. It takes a lot for me to block someone. Boredom won’t usually do it. I’d rather let the thread stand to prove precisely the point I make here in this piece and in a hopefully forthcoming piece also about miasma.

    You are also right on one thing: feelings are completely irrelevant in this type of dialogue. I don’t care how anyone willfully chooses to interpret my words, nor how one might feel about them. Not one bit. I do think there’s a fair bit of willful mis-interpretation going on here, as you pointed out but that is par for the course these days, especially with a concept like pollution, found in pretty much every polytheistic and indigenous tradition I can think of, that implies the existence of * gasp * standards. I can write till my fingers fall off about how those standards are set by the Gods, but that likewise implies bowing our heads to Their authority and you know as well as I do how deeply problematic the idea of divine hierarchy is for some. Also it goes hand in hand with the idea (reality) that the Gods can and will influence our world and our choices. I was talking with someone the other day about this, how based on their writings, it’s so damned difficult for the humanist pagan crowd to even conceive of a devotional relationship that isn’t dehumanizing, debasing, and oppressive. I find that sad. I think those very post-modern ideas though are very much at play in conversations like this to varying degrees. I think that’s why it’s all the more important to make our voices heard, so those coming into these traditions know that there are other options, actual polytheistic ones.

    I also find the fixation on words in these responses, the constant shifting of the parameters by which a concept can be addressed to be a common post-modern technique. It reduces meaning to nothingness and makes it all but impossible to discuss and further these ideas, theories, theologies, and traditions. All the more reason to be thankful for the clear words that we have. (One of these days though I will get around to writing my piece on the Old Norse analogs for these concepts).

    And House of Vines, I wish I HAD reality warping mind powers. LOl. That would be awesome.

    ANNA, While you somewhat acknowledge that there might have been a concept of ‘pollution’ in Ireland, you dismiss the word miasma. Miasma means ‘pollution.’ That is the meaning of the word and its context and l, for one, see no reason to jump through linguistic hoops inventing another word. We could, I suppose, simply use ‘pollution’ but I think that carries more of a negative overtone in English than is appropriate. I think in dismissing miasma as a working term you’re being somewhat reductionist at best. I very much think there are core concepts across polytheisms (like pollution, like the goodness of honoring the dead, the veneration of many gods) that are ultimately foundational. That there is communication and borrowing (even if only linguistically) between traditions today should not be unexpected. It was that way for our ancestors after all. No religion evolves completely in a vacuum. While I might balk at mixing practices, as we re-discover a …taxonomy of polytheism if you will, redeploy and interpret words to fit the concepts we use, I have no problem using such terms as ‘miasma,’ ‘horse’, etc. I certainly think there is a much broader chasm between how we as moderns (post moderns) view things (particularly religion) when compared to pre-Christian polytheisms across the board than there ever was between those individual polytheisms.

    Likewise this idea that reconstruction must ignore the very good work being done in other contemporary polytheisms (or better those polytheistic traditions that managed to avoid being completely sundered and have a consistent and intergenerational network of transmission) and must work solely from surviving sources interpreted as literally as possible. That way lies the slow withering of our traditions. It’s likewise reductionist. Often I can’t help but wonder if it’s not just a thinly veiled desire to relativize our traditions until they fit the values and structure of modernity rather than examining ourselves and cultivating our own selves so that we fit the traditions.

    Re. spiritual illness and spiritual impurity. No where in my article do I equate the two. That being said, unaddressed impurity can contribute to illness spiritual or otherwise. Specifically spiritual illness or illnesses induced by Gods and spirits is quite beyond the scope of this particular piece.

    Making quotes stand out in responses here is a pain. I’m not sure either why after a couple of replies, suddenly wordpress won’t allow us to respond directly to a person. It’s frustrating.

    That’s all for now…I need to go to class.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “my impression from your initial comments was that you came here specifically to attempt to back me into a corner where I would relativize this idea of pollution. You are not the first person to attempt this. You will likely not be the last. The slipperiness with which you play with your language is, for me, clear indication of this. You contradicted yourself from post to post constantly shifting the ground by which a clear definition might be made.

      That was certainly not my intent, and I apologize that you saw it that way. My intent was to point out a simple concern I had with the language used in your post. My argument against the post was solely concerning “IF that was your intent / IF that was what you were saying”, and was based solely on the interpretation that language led me to. And I did many times acknowledge that I may have been misinterpreting it, as well as regularly added the caveat that “if that wasn’t what you meant, that’s fine”.

      Any adjustments to my language was an attempt to adjust my argument based on what little information you had given me- none of which clarified the point of your post / what you were actually saying in it until much later on in the conversation (or at least, I noticed it much later than I should have and for that I apologize as well). i also apologize if I was even unclear in the language I used at any point during those responses. But now that you have provided that clarification, we are on the same page and I don’t have a problem with your post- even if I still do not wholly agree with you on all points.

      I could probably have been more clear that that was my issue. But at the same time, the onus is not entirely on me. We both have responsibilities regarding communication (including not making assumptions about the other party); if you had actually asked for clarification about what my problem was with the post (if it was unclear), or had made your clarification out the door instead of assuming that it was an attack right off the bat and treating me in such a manner… We honestly could have come to that agreement a lot sooner.

      “While you somewhat acknowledge that there might have been a concept of ‘pollution’ in Ireland, you dismiss the word miasma. Miasma means ‘pollution.’ That is the meaning of the word and its context and l, for one, see no reason to jump through linguistic hoops inventing another word.”

      I do not dismiss the concept of Miasma in Hellenic faith- nor the concept of some sort of Spiritual Pollution in Irish religion. I do, however, believe that it shouldn’t be applied to concepts of Spiritual Pollution outside of Hellenic Polytheism. It may be ridiculous to you and others, but I’m a proponent of clarity in communication in order to reduce instances of exactly what occurred with you and I. And despite its etymology simply meaning “Pollution”? Miasma is much more than that. It still refers to a specific concept of Spiritual Pollution, as believed in by the Greeks- and all that goes with it in Hellenic faith.

      That doesn’t mean you’d outright need to invent a new term in order not to use it, however. I’m sure that if the Norse genuinely have such a concept of Spiritual Pollution, then they likely had their own terminology for it. Most cultures did have such a concept and therefore should have related terminology… It’s just a matter of finding it. Finding it doesn’t require jumping through linguistic hoops, nor creating terms. And if that’s the case (that they do have a concept), then it’s not unrealistic to either use that term instead when referring to Norse concepts of such… Or simply use a non-tradition specific term. I’d agree that term likely isn’t “Pollution” given the implications that you duly noted. But I am sure there are other terms out there. At the very least, though, if you insist on using Tradition specific terminology to discuss a concept across a broad range of groups… Then the logical (and Academic) thing to do is to include clarification that you are doing so in order to prevent that miscommunication and facilitate better understanding of your writing.

      However, I want to point out that I never demanded you change your language in the post. I suggested it due to the miscommunication and the way the language used in your post came across to me if you would like to prevent further instances like that in the future; the language we use to describe, teach, or otherwise explain these concepts is something which is important, and the wrong terminology can and does cause miscommunications like this. But it is your post and you can feel free to do whatever you wish with it and use whatever language you wish. It was merely a suggestion, nothing more- and certainly not one which was meant to be insulting or demanding of you.

      ” I very much think there are core concepts across polytheisms (like pollution, like the goodness of honoring the dead, the veneration of many gods) that are ultimately foundational.”

      I disagree that there are universal concepts… But that belief of mine doesn’t negate your ability to believe so so long as there isn’t proof that such a concept doesn’t exist in some faiths.

      “Likewise this idea that reconstruction must ignore the very good work being done in other contemporary polytheisms (or better those polytheistic traditions that managed to avoid being completely sundered and have a consistent and intergenerational network of transmission) and must work solely from surviving sources interpreted as literally as possible. That way lies the slow withering of our traditions. It’s likewise reductionist. Often I can’t help but wonder if it’s not just a thinly veiled desire to relativize our traditions until they fit the values and structure of modernity rather than examining ourselves and cultivating our own selves so that we fit the traditions.”

      On this you and I actually agree. I am a Historically Oriented Polytheist. I think that updating needs to be done to the faiths in order to make them work with how far society has progressed from the time they fell out of practice. Ergo, ignoring the work of contemporary polytheists is an integral part of reconstructing and reviving these faith systems in modern contexts.

      However, there are limits to doing so in my opinion. One of those is the co-opting of concepts which have meanings in other systems, by systems which those concepts do not entirely fit in… Such as in the case of me, and Irish Polytheist, subscribing to Miasma or otherwise using “Miasma” to refer to Irish concepts of Spiritual Impurity; careful attention must still be paid to what these concepts meant in their original contexts and usages- as well as how they are currently being used by their revitalized parent faiths in modern contexts.

      It’s one reason why I am not exactly favored in the Iripol community, actually. Because I’ve made that argument many times concerning Beauty; the rest of the community would rather throw it out entirely “because it’s abelist and we don’t focus on beauty in modern culture” (which is bullshit on both counts), and I’m a staunch proponent of not only keeping it but keeping it’s focus on physical appearance… In your words: “examining ourselves and cultivating our own selves so that we fit the traditions [instead of making the traditions fit us]”.

      “Re. spiritual illness and spiritual impurity. No where in my article do I equate the two. That being said, unaddressed impurity can contribute to illness spiritual or otherwise. Specifically spiritual illness or illnesses induced by Gods and spirits is quite beyond the scope of this particular piece.”

      That response was specifically to another user who seemed to be conflating the two. As I mentioned in that response, they’re not the same though some traditions think that Spiritual Pollution may cause Spiritual Illness. I’m not going to disagree with that and I can’t say whether or not that idea is agreed upon by the Irish.

      “Making quotes stand out in responses here is a pain. I’m not sure either why after a couple of replies, suddenly wordpress won’t allow us to respond directly to a person. It’s frustrating.”

      I noticed. And I definitely agree it’s frustrating. I had planned on rewriting the response later after I’d gotten over the frustration (I really did put a lot of effort into that response). But since I’ve now said most of what I had originally written in that response in this response, I’ll leave it up to you concerning whether or not I do; If you’d like me to retype it to the best of my ability, that’s fair. If you’d rather continue the discussion off this one instead, that’s fair too. Or if, since we’re finally on the same page and you know my intent and where I was coming from when voicing the initial concerns, you’d like to discuss the differences between Spiritual Pollution in Irish Polytheism vrs your own faith / beliefs (insomuch as my knowledge allows me to), I’m fine with that as well.

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      • Ergo, not ignoring* the work of contemporary polytheists is an integral part of reconstructing and reviving these faith systems in modern contexts… whoops.

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  14. I will fully admit that part of the pissiness you’re seeing on my account is having to write the same *very* basic article over and over and over again, to fight the same battles and to be met with: cleanliness and piety don’t matter.’ which is very much how i read your initial statement.

    We should be well beyond this now and yet, nothing (and i mean NOTHING) arouses such push back as the idea that pollution is a thing and we should prepare ourselves for approaching the Holy.

    Personally, i think it’s because both our world and our communities are so incredibly polluted that we lose the capacity after awhile to distinguish between what is good and clean and what is not, or worse, come to hate the former or see it as somehow oppressive.

    Then there is the idea that the Gods can and will demand things of us (what They will demand will vary by person and by tradition but it’s the idea that They have expectations that we should want to meet). I think that’s a new one for people raised in our society. and then there’s the way we were all patterned by modernity, by cultural marxism, to deconstruct meaning.

    it gets old having to repeat myself. I have better work to do. Our traditions have better work to do but that’s not happening because we keep tripping over these basic concepts. I rather feel like Nicholas when faced with Arian at Nicaea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I will fully admit that part of the pissiness you’re seeing on my account is having to write the same *very* basic article over and over and over again, to fight the same battles and to be met with: cleanliness and piety don’t matter.’ which is very much how i read your initial statement.”

      Oh Gods no. That wasn’t what I was saying and I’m incredibly sorry that it was taken that way. I do fully agree that Cleanliness and Piety do matter. However, each religion’s going to have their own specific approaches to that, and their definitions of what constitute it. Hence the statement that I didn’t care if I, an Irish Polytheist, met Hellenic (or other) standards concerning these things, because all that matters is that I meet my own; my own is Irish, and those others don’t apply to me as an Irish Polytheist.

      But the confusion, for me, was mainly in the language you used in the post. I couldn’t figure out, based on how it was written, whether or not you were using Miasma to apply to all spiritual purity, or were saying that everyone should believe in, practice, and adhere to the Hellenic concept of Miasma. It came across to me as the latter, and if it was the later (and my argument applied only to the later), then I had issues with it. Specifically because that kind of behavior is rude, but also because Irish Polytheism doesn’t have anything equivalent to the Hellenic specific concepts and definitions of Piety or Miasma.

      But we’ve done and well pretty much cleared that up now, haven’t we? Lol.

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  15. J. Martinios, thank you. that annoys me too but sadly it is common parlance. I’ve even been guilty of that one myself. We serve the Gods, venerate Them, love Them, honor Them, offer to Them, work FOR Them, but in no way are we Their colleagues.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I work with my gods in the sense that I do the jobs they give me for the mere scrap of their attention or blessing. If my gods don’t pay attention to me, it doesn’t affect how I view my devotion or how I continue my practice. There is no equality to my relationship to them. I am a mere speck in the grand scheme and my devotion comes out of the idea that I wouldn’t survive without it. Not that I’m conducting some kind of spiritual transaction. Love is not a factor in my devotional relationship: Honor, Practice and Ritual are.

      If that language is something you dislike, please ask me to clarify rather than placing a value judgement on the validity of my practices. I’ve been civil and polite through this entire discourse, though it has been just as frustrating for me to attempt to be professional and be accused of lying, screeching and generally throwing a fit. Which I have done none of.

      But this? This is just impolite. People use words to describe their practices, semantic differences in how one person translates that description versus how another would is unfortunate. And it is divisive. And it saddens me to see what I viewed as an opportunity to help me grow in my own understandings and challenge the way that I thought was instead turned into an online back and forth that ultimately insulted my credibility, my intelligence, my motivations and my devotional practices. I may be a little too optimistic in hoping for that, and maybe that is my mistake.

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      • To be fair, I have made the linguistic argument this whole time concerning my misinterpretation of their initial post. And likewise, to be fair, the term “Work With” does not only suggest but often mean (in common parlance) a relationship wherein the God and Practitioner work as semi-equals or colleagues in some regard as opposed to your usual Worshiper / Devotee relationship. It’s certainly not fair to judge your relationship as inferior based on that if they’re doing so… But at the very least, the judgment on this one is vaguely warranted at least in that we’ve been talking about linguistics and taking terminology literally when there is no other clarification provided as to it being used differently that is otherwise standard.

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      • That’s fair, Anna- though the difference with the conversations that you and I have been having across this board would contextually make that a moot point. I had stated earlier that I worked “for” my gods in some of the defenses that I put forward for why I was challenging the ideas in the article, and they have all but been consistently ignored in favor of decontextualizing what I’m saying to make it seem like a personal attack. I have repeatedly asked that I be treated with the same respect I was affording to people attacking me, and instead was called delusional.

        So while I can hold with an idea that the wording I used is semantically weak, I find it unfortunate that instead of dealing with the concepts that I’ve been trying to discuss, the other individuals in these discussions are instead choosing to nitpick my semantic choices.

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      • I’m kinda with Cass on this one. There are purely devotional currents in my worship, and then there are things I do like my magical writings. I am definitely collaborating with my Gods and Spirits and it is, barring the power and inspiration that comes from them, something which requires labor on my part, ergo I see no problem in saying that I “work with” them. I am, of course, under no illusions that we are on equal footing. There is a rigid hierarchy and I’m nowhere near the top of it.

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  16. Cass, I could see that; it’s true that it was my discussion and not yours, though I have to accept it and defend its vague relevancy based on my own discussion. I can see where it would be moot concerning your own discussion, though.

    It’s unfortunate you haven’t been given the same clarification that I eventually was :/ With any luck, that might change when Galina gets another free moment… thehouseofvines, however, might be a lost cause. He seems more interested in trolling than anything else. Which really is a shame.

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    • And now I may just eat my foot considering he actually responded relevantly and without sarcasm / trolling for once.

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      • I’ve been pretty clear from the beginning: don’t lie and we don’t have a problem.

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      • Except none of us lied (nor “shrieked”, nor “attacked”, nor any of what we are / were being accused of)… We simply had various problems with the post based on different interpretations of it- and made our comments based on that interpretation (in my case, I gave her ample indication that my argument only applied if my interpretation was what she was actually saying)… I don’t know how many more times you’d like me to repeat that, because I’ve said it several times now.

        Hell, the problem between Galina and I and where the miscommunication was stemming from has been wholly cleared up at this point (unless she makes another response seeking clarification on additional things). Not sure what else you’re looking for, here, hun.

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      • I’m not looking for anything. You admitted wrong doing and that’s good enough for me.

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      • I didn’t admit wrongdoing though? I stated that I might have been wrong about you only being here to troll. And like I said, now I’m no so convinced that I was wrong about that.

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      • Oh … kay.

        *carefully backs away without making any sudden, jerky movements*

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      • Look, this whole fucking comment section is a goddamned mess. Be clear about what you are responding to and referencing and maybe I won’t sound so fucking cookoo for coco puffs (or whatever); you saying x on this comment when referencing x on y comment, without actually making that clear? Is a little more than infuriating. Furthermore, it’s confusing as hell when I think we’re having one conversation but we’re apparently having a completely different one. Jesus Christ, this should not be rocket science.

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      • Hmm. I’m not having trouble following the threads of conversation. Would it be helpful if I drew a diagram? Acted it out with puppets? Threw in some cute kittens? Or how about we just drop it since neither of us have contributed something constructive to the conversation for a while. (Aside from you saying you believe in shame, which was kinda cool and unexpected.)

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      • Tell you what. Since I’m feeling magnanimous, I’ll even give you the last word.

        Ready … set … go …

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      • I mean, I’m kinda curious to see how long you’ll keep commenting even though you’ve clearly run out of things to say, but that’s more boredom than looking for something.

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      • Case en point.

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    • So you believe in shame?

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      • I believe in correcting yourself when proven wrong… Why should I feel shame for being wrong?

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      • Αἰδώς is rare these days, is all. It’s nice to see someone holding to proper polytheist values.

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      • Recognizing when you’re wrong and correcting yourself (which I’m assuming you are equating with or trying to say requires modesty and shame. And while I’d agree with you on modesty, I don’t agree with you on shame) are hardly a Polytheistic value overall. It’s common sense and polite conduct- not to mention being a requirement for maturity and growth, spiritual or otherwise.

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      • No. You brought up shame, not me.

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      • “So you believe in shame?”… That was your comment, wasn’t it? The implication being that I must feel some sort of shame over being wrong in my assumption that you weren’t interested in anything other than trolling. And I believe my response to that was that I believe in correcting myself when proven wrong (which I apparently was about that, but now I’m not so convinced that I actually was), and why should I feel shame for being wrong about something / someone…

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      • Are you actually this obtuse or just putting on an act?

        You said, and I quote “Which really is a shame.”

        To which I replied, “So you believe in shame?”

        To which you said, “Blah blah blah”

        And I answered, “Αἰδώς is rare these days, is all. It’s nice to see someone holding to proper polytheist values.”

        Most neopagans today have no conception of shame or related concepts (like modesty, integrity, piety, et al) so the fact that you apparently do (especially in light of the comments you were making earlier) stood out.

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      • I apologize. I thought that your comment about shame was in reference to my comment about eating my foot because you responded to something without sarcasm for once.

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      • It’s not exactly easy to figure out what comments are in response to what in this mess… So forgive me for thinking your comment was in response to something else.

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  17. Wow, wtf has gone on here? Galina makes one post about the importance of spiritual hygiene and in march the pc police picking on the words used and having heated arguments about things that don’t remotely relate to or even resemble the original subject.

    To these detractors, if you don’t like her blog then don’t read it. Also you’d really be doing yourself a favor to read the entirety of what someone says and the intended context rather than reacting to buzz words.

    These sorts of exchanges remind me why I’m solitary. Gah.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do believe I said multiple times that I enjoyed wiand agreed with the post and my problem was entirely the confusion the language she used caused- in that it came across one way and this if that was what she meant by it than I had certain issues with it. But she cleared that up for a bit finally, and you can also clearly see me apologizing and clearing up the rest of the misunderstanding on my end. If you’d like not to acknowledge that, such is your perogative I guess. But insofar as i know, Galina and I have no issues.

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      • There is/was more than one detractor on this thread. My point was that rather than reading the article it seemed the post was derailed by those initially caught up in words and terminology etc,followed by what seemed a simple desire to argue. During which, the point of the article was missed.

        I was not addressing one person in particular with my above. If you apologized and all is cleared up, well that’s that then.

        But another of my points above is that one reason I’m solitary is this – rather than civil discourse right off the bat in discussions that have the potential to be controversial; one must constantly tread on eggshells to avoid offending someone and causing arguments. It’s exhausting, and I just want to get on with my life and worship my gods in peace.

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  18. Just to throw in my two cents and try and simplify the point Galina was trying say, here it is.

    Let’s pretend, in an imaginary world, that Galina and her detractors were both field medics in a war. Let’s pretend they both had a busy day in the trenches patching people up, and were heading back to camp to rest, both of them covered from head to foot in dirt, blood, gore, and bodily fluids.

    Galina’s logic: ‘Well, that was a hard day. I appear to be covered in blood, dirt and shit. Better hit the shower before heading into the mess hall.’

    Detractor logic: ‘well that was a hard day. It is my sacred duty as a medic to do this and I don’t like your use of the word shit, Galina. I shall now proudly walk into the mess hall amongst my fellow soldiers and superior officers exactly as I am!’ (While being covered in blood, shit and gore of course)

    Do you see the problem here? No?

    If you don’t, better head on back tumblr and best of luck to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thetinfoilhatsociety

      As a 20 year medic I have to say this may be the very best analogy I’ve read.

      And I also have to comment: I had a coworker who got MRSA on his face and was out for months. Why? Because he was so worried about wearing gloves he didn’t see the need to take basic safety precautions. He used a cell phone, to call for orders regarding a patient, that he handled with his gloves on. That he did not change before handling said cell phone. Pollution. Transferred to his face. Illness results.

      Cass: I am reminded of multiple statements regarding Germanics and their religious practices in Tactitus which pretty clearly point to the importance of purity when approaching the Gods. And of cleansing. And of piety. Maybe Saami don’t do that, I don’t know, but ancient heathens most certainly did.

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      • TheTinFoilHatSociety – thanks – sometimes I find simplifying things right down to the basics can help making a point and for you as a medic with this actual experience, as you’ve pointed out – it’s all too easy to see what happens when you don’t *physically* clean up; but for some to whom spiritual dirt isn’t ‘seen’ as physical dirt would be, it becomes easier to ignore, or to pass off as something else, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Except that’s not at all what Cass or I was saying. Valiant attempt, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Yikes. OK, serious question time. What source material would you, Galina, recommend for exploring the concept of religious or spiritual impurity in a Germanic context? I’m aware of my own increased difficulties in focusing properly during ritual or listening during meditation if I’ve gone too long without some sort of cleansing effort, but I have no sources outside of myself to verify what I’m experiencing. Ideas?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dagan, when I get home I”ll look through my sources. Remember, the Germanic lands were christianized long before a serious written tradition developed. What we have are accounts like the Eddas and the Sagas but there’s enough that I think we can make a more than strong case for ritual purification particularly if you include AS sources.

      I would still start with Robert Parker’s “Miasmsa” which focuses on Greek Religion, but there are IE parallels and it gives you a working idea of how miasma works. some of it isn’t relevant to our Heathen practice, but some can be applied. i think it’s an important read anyway.

      I think for us as Heathens, the crux of the ideas of pollution and purification rely on the concept of the Holy and what that means in a NT context…will write more when home.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. As a person who worships the Erinyes regularly (and who is a Tumblr millennial who leans very progressive on many issues), I definitely agree that religious cleansing is very important. I think that a lot of people do see purification ceremonies as something shameful or politicize-able when they’re really a form of spiritual self-care that puts one in a correct state for proper religious veneration. (Purification just isn’t sexy or expensive like yoga, a massage, or #cleaneats.) Some gods also care mightily about religious pollution, which is something I need to be mindful of when praying to goddesses like the Erinyes. The mental block former Christians have against things that resemble sin is a huge challenge for many to overcome, especially since a belief in sin and unworthiness can be so mentally toxic. I agree that purification should usually be a routine and unremarkable process, like showering or giving morning offerings.

    Outside of polytheism, even Neopagans who practice a religion similar to initiated Wicca believe in miasma and use circles and cleansing rituals to keep bad things out. When I was in college and did a Hellenic libation ritual with others in my college pagan group, a few people were really anxious that I didn’t cast a circle even though we did cleansing before it.

    … and on the other hand, if the person is a young adult (under 35), I think that some compassion is also necessary here. I am 5 and 7 years older than my two siblings, so I had to learn pretty early on that they needed space to learn and grow on their own. A lot of people on blogs and vlogs are still in that self-definition process. With my sisters, calling them out hasn’t worked as much as setting an example and waiting for each of them to come to me with questions or life realizations. I have a few close friends in their late 30s who are just as compassionate with me when I am figuring things out. It was actually one of Sannion’s earlier web sites that taught me that people over 18 were still figuring out their own stuff — I ran across his Sanctuary when I was maybe 15 or 16, nearly 15 years ago.

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    • Pythagoreans didn’t have this problem, and for a very simple reason. You were not allowed to even speak for five years upon admittance to the order. This gave you time to listen, learn, reflect and absorb the tradition rather than putting yourself forth as an authority because you read one whole webpage or tumblog about a subject.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, that is true, but they probably also didn’t attract many extroverts. 😛 As an extrovert, I need a certain level of social interaction to think through things, so I try to pay it forward by holding space for others who have a similar thinking style. The trick with social media and blog media is not overdoing that tendency, which again, took me a while to figure out. (Thank Gods social media wasn’t around when I was a teenager.)

        But beyond the polytheistic blogosphere, what I have noticed in blog communities in general is that people start giving others advice as soon as they start investigating something for themselves. Often, that is because people request it from the blogger because most people trust people they know (and the intimate nature of the blogging medium makes the blogger “known”) over people with legit information (e.g., the credentialed academic who authored MIASMA). Or more often, the blogger is just serving up personal narrative and shouldn’t have been treated as an authority in the first place. I could geek out about information dynamics for hours because I am an instruction librarian who has seen the lion’s share of bad assumptions about how information works, but I will stop there. ^___^

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      • Yeah, and that doesn’t even get into the dietary and other restrictions they imposed. On the other hand, Pythagoreans believed in equality of the sexes and many of their most prominent philosophers were female. Really, though, any communitarian movement is kinda sketch to me, however much I may admire certain ideas and traits. The real cincher for me – and why I don’t entirely fault the neighboring Magna Graecian cities for instituting their pogroms – was all the fucking math. No amount of weather magic and bilocation makes up for having to do that much math.

        Liked by 2 people

  21. This is my view on purification:
    We need purification to have functioning and fully fledged polytheist communities.

    The act of purifying oneself or an area of pollution, whether in rejecting distracting/nebulous energies and/or the rejection/ejection of harmful, and/or baneful spirits is attested to in every polytheist religion I have read on. In demarcation of that which is sacred there is then a demarcation of what is *not* sacred. When an unsacred thing is brought into a sacred place, or an unsacred thing is brought before a sacred thing, there seems to be one of a few things that can occur:

    -The sacred overwhelms or cleanses the unsacred and makes it sacred.

    -The sacred overwhelms or cleanses the unsacred and renders the person, place, or thing neither sacred nor unsacred.

    -The sacred is overwhelmed by the unsacred and ceases to be sacred or be invested with sacredness, becoming neither sacred nor unsacred.

    -The sacred is overwhelmed by the unsacred and what was sacred is now unsacred.

    Whether or not an action, item, person, place, or thing is sacred or unsacred is up to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, and the power of the sacredness or unsacredness it carries, is imbued with, or has.

    The word miasma suggests something else: that an act may be entirely within the realm of a sacred act and carry with it ‘pollution’ of that act. Likewise for an unsacred act. Perhaps ‘residue’ is a more neutral term approaching the neutrality by which miasma’s meaning of pollution approaches. In any case, this residual effect of thought, action, place, person, etc. is not imbued with a moral quality. Rather, it is saying that we are in a state of being ‘apart’ or not clean.

    When I exercise and I sweat, that sweat is neither good nor ill on its own. It merely indicates that I am running too hot and my body is seeking equilibrium, in this case to cool down. Where sweating becomes an indicator of good is the actions associated with it. The good is exercise, the ill would be sickness. A neutral form would be needing to change what I am wearing. However the sweat comes about, I will need to shower or bathe to be clean. This is how I understand spiritual pollution aka miasma. I use the word because it works and we’re still working on words that communicate a similar idea within our traditions.

    The cleansing of spiritual residue is nothing more than a former of basic hygiene. Hygiene that amounts to nothing more and nothing less than ‘shower/bathe, use clean soap and water to clean your hands, and put on something besides a shirt with holes in it’. How long the shower, what kind of soap, what manner of dress is expected depends on the Holy Powers and the religion one knows and understands Them through.

    To that end, I have little doubt that because there is demarcation between sacred/not sacred in virtually every religion, it would truly surprise me to find a polytheist religion in which non-specialist religious members were *not* required to cleanse or be cleansed in order to worship or interact with the Holy Powers. I would be truly surprised that a polytheist religion would lack some kind of rite, even if it were a dusting of sand, covering of the head, sprinkling of water, passing of/through flame to purify or keep the polytheist pure.

    Spiritual pollution, miasma, is a state of being neither good nor ill. Sometimes we actively cultivate a miasma of a kind, for instance when I worked in a funeral home. The Dead weren’t morally repugnant for being Dead; the miasma or spiritual residue of being around dead people was at odds with my home’s energies. It would clash with the sacred space of my Gods’ altar but not (generally) the altars I keep for the Dead, the Warrior Dead, and Military Dead.

    We cannot avoid spiritual pollution. Interaction with Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, including our own Dead, certain times of the year, even certain places, requires it to be something we have to interact with. Far better for us to take up necessary care of ourselves, our home, our people, and do the work necessary to keep our ties with the Holy Powers and one another well.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. i’m too tired to wade into this tonight but stick around. Tomorrow I’m going to be (if i finish it in time) posting part II of this article with deals with piety, miasma, modesty, standards, and shame. You’ll have another chance to try to co-opt the thread then, folks.

    Liked by 1 person

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