Distractions, distractions

ancestors

So a facebook friend posted this image on his page and a rather lively discussion ensued. Apparently the statement above is incomprehensible to some Heathens. I for one, fully support it and while it is a First Nations person pictured, I think it holds true for all of us. I can see however, I’m going to have to break out my logic.

At one point our entire world was polytheistic or animist. All of us have polytheistic ancestors. Monotheism was and is a very, very recent blip on the fabric of world religion. There was a time when all religions were, to some degree, polytheistic. Then monotheism came—doesn’t much matter which monotheistic tradition, they all operated under the same modus operandi: colonialism, conquest, and the eradication of all other worldviews. The result was, predictably in retrospect, the destruction of our traditions and the co-opting of our wisdom traditions (i.e philosophy), and eventually our scientific discoveries, literature, etc. Still following?

Then, after our ancestral lands had been converted, usually by force, our ancestors drank that poison and became the ones who went across the ocean and destroyed nations. The question came up in the course of the Facebook discussion, of what to do with ancestors who were Christian (or Jewish or Muslim I suppose, but in the discussion we were specifically talking about Christian relatives). My response was two fold:

I honor my ancestors, even if they were Christian. I do, however, view their religious choice (and in many cases for generations ‘choice’ didn’t enter into it) as a sort of inter-generational Stockholm syndrome. I honor them, but not for their religious choices. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t good or devout people. In many cases they were, very much so. Nor do I have a particular problem with their Powers. It’s the system of monotheism that I find poisonous.

I do not honor the generation that chose to abandon their ancestral traditions and contribute to the destruction of polytheisms. I will honor them when they step to the plate and start doing what they can to make reparation and amends for that crime. (Nefas) Would you be ok with an ancestor who raped children, or participated in genocide? Would you look at that person uncritically? They’re still your ancestor, but god damn they have a lot for which to atone. Adopting monotheism is no different, especially considering the consequences of that choice.

I value the restoration of our traditions far more than I value the comfort of …collaborators. It is true that they may have been acting in good faith, or out of fear, or to protect others, but their actions had consequences that were horrific for us, consequences that transformed our world the repercussion of which each and every one of us today is having to endure .

Because of this particular generation, we now are tasked with restoring those traditions in circumstances that are unbelievably difficult, corrupt, and poisonous. I will honor them when they step up and do what they can to right the wrong. If they are doing that, then they are welcome to partake of the offerings I give to my other ancestors. If they are not, let them be hungry and thirsty for all eternity, their names and deeds erased from memory and time.

Apparently this makes me a “bigot,” which is fine: I’ve been called worse by better.

Piety should have prevented the abrogation of our traditions. (Think about it, there were plenty of people through its nascent years who recognized it for the insanity and pollution it was and who clung steadfastly to their traditions preferring death on their feet to a lifetime on their knees in homage to an alien power). This wasn’t just a matter of “personal choice,” it was a conscious severing of obligations to our Gods and ancestors. It was devastation and we’re bearing the brunt. We are having to clean up a mess of monumental proportions. While we’re doing so, we are denied functioning traditions and are under attacks by successive waves of aggressive monotheism, which they could have ended (or at least died trying to do so).

I think it right and proper to demand that the generation that began our long descent into darkness step forward to help correct their error. And I consider it respectful: they have the choice to try to make reparation and restore their honor and alignment with the rest of the family and most importantly of all, the Gods…or they can live with the situation as it is. If they want to remain in those beliefs, aligned with this tyrannical power that’s their right. It doesn’t mean I need to have anything to do with them. Their willingness to fuck and breed or more pointedly, my great great many times great grandma’s decision not to swallow doesn’t obligate me to pour out offerings. I’ll save those offerings for ancestors of worth and value, who need them in order to continue fighting on our behalf and on behalf of our traditions.

To excuse it unquestioningly, because we are here as a result, is to place our existence above the devastation of generations. At the very least, we can work to rebuild. We need to stop jumping through hoops to avoid obligation and look the problem right in its face. 

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Posted on February 17, 2017, in Ancestor Work, Ancestors, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I feel a bit of sympathy and pity for those who converted against their will to keep others they loved safe. That must have been the most painful thing they ever did, and while I can’t agree with it, I can pity it. Desperate times unfortunately cause people to do horrible things they come to regret. Those ancestors receive no offerings from me, but I will pray for them from time to time. That is a terrible burden for a soul to bear. However, I have nothing to do with those ancestors of mine who willingly and eagerly abandoned their traditions. I make no offerings to them and say no prayers for them. They are vile to me, and I want nothing to do with them.

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  2. This reminds me of when I was watching Jamie Oliver on one of his shows where he did a trip to the US, and was embedding himself in different parts of the country to learn about the different kinds of food and food cultures here. Great show. But in one he was learning the traditional Navajo way to cook, to prepare food, which also included killing the sheep. The woman he was learning from was very old was was telling him how the government had killed all their sheep back in the day, and burned the bodies so they couldn’t even eat the meat (it was supposedly because the sheep were overgrazing but really was trying to kill Navajo culture). She’s fighting to teach the young people in her tribe these things and keep them from being forgotten, things that are in danger of dying out as so many elders age and die, she’s written the only existing Navajo cookbook, and …. and then after all this, she said a prayer over her food in the Navajo language and ended it with “In Jesus’s name”. Broke my damn heart. She couldn’t see that it was Christianity that did this to her people, that monotheism, with its inherent lack of respect for other Beings and ways of being, led to our government mistreating her ancestors so badly. And the kind of cognitive dissonance just made me sad. Because she’s doing fantastic work for her people otherwise, imagine if her mind and soul were a little less colonized.

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  3. Having Baptist Missionaries in my family has been interesting. They have a separate Ancestor Altar from the others. I do light a candle to them, since they are a part of me. I thank them for bequeathing me their religious fervour for my Polytheism.

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  4. thetinfoilhatsociety

    “Piety should have prevented the abrogation of our traditions. (Think about it, there were plenty of people through its nascent years who recognized it for the insanity and pollution it was and who clung steadfastly to their traditions preferring death on their feet to a lifetime on their knees in homage to an alien power).”

    Wow. I don’t believe I’ve ever thought of this before, but it seems to me that what that ultimately means is we come from ancestors who eschewed honor in favor of continued existence. What kind of wyrd does that leave us with? What kind of karmic debt, so to speak, do we owe the Gods that our ancestors turned their backs on?

    Speaking of miasma and spiritual pollution, THAT thought makes me feel ill. And polluted. It also makes me feel as though I don’t do enough for my Gods, that I am merely continuing the “tradition” of bowing down and giving up honor by not being more open about my faith.

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    • I think we pick up the threads and work toward restoration. We love and honor our Gods and pass our traditions onto our children. We honor our ancestors — they can help restore, and we even give the ones who broke faith a chance to be part of that, and we keep in mind as much as we can that this is a lineage…that we are restoring traditions that once defined their world. we’re picking those obligations back up. That is no small thing.

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  5. I can assure you that Hungarians like me feel this discussion deeply. It’s likely our true origins and history may never be known because of the foundation of Christianity in Hungary in the fake year 1000 AD. (ref: phantom time theory) Even our day to day trade writings were destroyed because they used Rovas iras a type of Runic alphabet that suits the special sounds made in Hungarian language. They were destroyed only because the Church wanted to destroy all memory of the writing itself.

    In a similar way, the codexes and writings of the Maya and other peoples of the Carribbean were systematically destroyed by Christians, often Bishops.

    The difference is, in Hungary, it was a series of Royal decrees that destroyed the old writing. Now that the old writing is turning up in archaeological sites, and some of it can make a claim that maybe it is earlier writing than the Levant… that is being also systematically disputed and academic careers are being destroyed over it even today. Poisonous is right.

    I agree completely with that image, I often wonder why the Mexicans don’t abandon SA Spanish and use the native language, and/or send the RCC packing. I don’t hold the “feckless pious nice people” harmless either. They go around today harassing the “natives” on the same pattern as Cortes. Native is the new black in Mexico.

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  6. I wanted to give you a link to a movie you might like to see. There may be other versions with better subtitles in English if you check around. The subs can be very bad. The synopsis: in “AD 1000” two contenders to the throne of Hungary the pagan Koppany and the Christian Istvan are battling for control of the country. Koppany is a direct descendant of Emese (a virgin mother goddess in Hungarian Mythology, that’s not at all unique to Xtianity), and the kings of Hungary must be descendants of her or they are illegitimate. It’s unclear historically if these two were brothers or not. In the movie, they are and the drama is in disrespecting the source of the divine right to rule. Source 1: Emese VS Source 2: Jesus/YHWH. Despite the heavy subject the movie is a lighthearted rock opera that sobers up at the end where Koppany is drawn and quartered, a clear violation of Hungarian cultural law. Istvan becomes “Stephen the Great” and converts the country and then nearby countries to Christianity.

    Is it any wonder I felt right at home playing D&D? 😉

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  7. I think it’s true, but memes like it don’t really help us in having conversations with people who might be interested in returning to their original traditions. With Native folks, there are many of them that are practicing ceremonies under the aegis of Christian churches, they do a lot of pointing out similarities and it’s hard for me to tell how much of that is original and how much is well, a sort of acceptability performance for the “white” Christians. (Similar to the Hindus who downplay “idol worship”, or Pagans that emphasize monism or “the Divine Feminine”.) I go an interfaith group where this is going on, since the performance isn’t for me, it makes it harder to question that narrative. On the other hand, in the GLBT communit(ies) (about half of which is secular) I can sense a lot of spiritual hunger for something deeper. Lost connections to culture, tradition & family, and of course the results of that hole being filled with drug/alcohol abuse, unstable relationships, consumerism etc. Think I’m going to do a workshop about honoring ancestors at our group’s next conference.

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