The Basics BEFORE the Basics

 

A (civil) discussion on twitter today got me thinking about our various traditions and one of the key things necessary in making them sustainable and inter-generational: namely, marrying other polytheists and raising your children as polytheists too — and I don’t think it matters which polytheism because that is a very particular lens through which to view the world and one’s relationships to the Powers and there are commonalities there in ways that there simply aren’t with monotheisms.

I’m always surprised at the push back I get on the idea that we should marry within our communities. Granted, now our communities are small but they will grow, with our cultivation. I should point out that early Christians had no trouble requiring their prospective spouses to convert…and while I don’t support proselytizing, I do support this. I’ve seen far too many people who find themselves in households where they have to hide, limit, or downplay their practices. I would at the very, very least have a marriage contract in place that stipulates to the religious upbringing of any and all children. Let me add that getting rid of an impious spouse who demands one hide one’s polytheism is, as a friend of mine would say, “addition by subtraction.” Christians have a term “unequally yoked” that I think applies here. It’s when the two partners are not on the same spiritual journey, are not of the same religion and thus cannot support each other in building a spiritually nourishing household effectively. It’s a terrible thing to be unequally yoked.

Even more push back comes at the thought of raising children in the faith. Why would you not do this? THIS even more than marrying other polytheists is so key, so fundamental to the future of our traditions that it just boggles my mind why someone would even consider doing otherwise. If you don’t love your Gods and you don’t want to see Their traditions grow, why are you here?

Of course, the argument always raised is ‘I don’t want to force my religion on my child’ but this is no argument at all.  Firstly, it is a parent’s duty to provide spiritual education. That is part and parcel of raising a healthy child just as one would instill proper virtue and understanding. Secondly, there are plenty of ways to raise a child in one’s faith without being abusive about it. Why not – and I mean this in all seriousness, because this is where I think the real issues lie—deal with the damage and wounds from your own religious upbringing instead of denying both your children and your Gods the blessing of a tradition? It should be unthinkable to raise our children any other way. If we do, we’re cutting off our traditions at their knees. Each generation has to retread ground those before them already walked (and we do this anyway by our disrespect toward the elders in our communities, by ignoring or pissing on their work, and by attempting to write them out of their own traditions’ histories).

Standards are not oppressive. I’m going to say that again for those of you in the back: standards are not oppressive, at least not if you want to accomplish something worthwhile. Moreover, we can in fact choose whom we love and with whom we spend the rest of our lives. It’s important to make good choices here. It’s not enough to love someone in the moment. One must consider making a life with that person and having children (if one wants children), and what one is willing to compromise upon and what one isn’t. Hopefully commitment to the Gods and Their traditions form an absolute hard line, a sine qua non in that equation.

Someone complained today that this separates groups into “us” vs. “them” and yes, it does. This does not mean that “they” are bad, just other, different, outside the community of faith and practice, and as lovely as they might be, potential dead weight in a relationship founded first and foremost in shared piety and love. One’s relationship with the Gods is always personal and needs to be nourished regularly but as religious people we are not separate from a community, hopefully one that is coalescing into a tradition. One of the greatest challenges facing us today as polytheists is how to ensure that our traditions are sustainable and we can work hard and do all we want as individuals but eventually unless we’re raising our children in the faith, we’re never going to get past the place that we’re at now. Only through inter-generational transmission of the tradition and love for the Gods is any community truly sustainable.

I’ve seen people talk about personal sovereignty, free will and such being important and they are. We have the free will to make good decisions, decisions that further our traditions, decisions that honor our Gods. Why is it so damned hard to put something other than ourselves first?

About ganglerisgrove

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

Posted on July 25, 2019, in Lived Polytheism, theology, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Frankly, I’ve never understood how people can marry someone with a completely, radically different set of religious beliefs, at least if their religious beliefs are important to them at all. I mean, how could I connect with a partner if they didn’t acknowledge that the beings I’ve devoted my life to are real, that the Work I do is meaningful, etc. How could we share common ground if they didn’t look around the world and see the presence of the gods and spirits everywhere? It just baffles me. It’s too fundamental to who I am to compromise on that.

    As for raising children – well, I certainly don’t want any of my own, but I couldn’t imagine, either, having children and not sharing with them what I know to be true about the world – that it is filled with divine presence, and that we live in reciprocal relationship with these presences. That doesn’t mean that one needs to shut down their questions or doubts, that one can’t educate them about the other religions of the world, that they can’t, as they grow older, decide to follow a different path. It doesn’t have to be the way it is with Christianity, which can be so toxic. But overreacting in the opposite direction is not helpful either, and we can’t expect polytheism to flourish if we force it to only ever consist of converts, especially because it’s so hard to fully inhabit the mindset when you first have to deprogram yourself from either monotheistic, atheistic or materialistic upbringings.

    Besides, I strongly believe that at least animism is pretty much the default mode of humanity and that given even a little encouragement, children will naturally see the world through this lens, and be better off for it (and the world will, too). Monotheistic teachings have to be forced, basically, because they don’t spring naturally from an engagement with the world. So we don’t have to feel like we’re forcing anything, just letting what is there naturally unfold and giving it some direction and guidance.

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  2. Not insisting on this was a pitfall in the past. Mixed marriages, usually with a Christian woman, were often a step in Christian infiltration. Christian influence got to children of powerful families this way, look at Constantine himself. Zoroastrians, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims, all demand that both in the marriage belong to the same religion. For some reason it is only horrible when people like us insist on it.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      Precisely, K. The woman i was discussing this with was very much against the idea of marrying our own saying how oppressive and bigotted it was so I asked her if she raised her children as polytheists. She didn’t answer for a very long time and when she did went on about free will and sovereignty and muh-feminism *rolls eyes* and finally said that she believed in allowing her children to choose their own path. My point was made. Your feminism pissed all over your devotion, your Gods, and whatever tradition you practiced.

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      • So, as an anecdote that you can feel free to reference during arguments like that, one of my sisters said that she missed out on a lot of instruction when she was growing up. To her, it never felt like our mom was including us or wanted to teach us “pagan things,” and she was sad about that. I was very self-directed and keen on learning and getting engaged at Circle, and that sister wasn’t — so I had never felt that way and was shocked to hear it from her. So if a kid is more introverted and religion is treated as opt-in and hands-off, le might get the wrong idea and feel le’s not wanted, for what it’s worth.

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      • If you don’t teach your children, someone else will. Why don’t more people understand that?

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  3. I’d like to chime in. Yo can raise a child in a religious worldview, without oathing them to said worldview and allowing them the ability to make such oaths and choices fully informed as adults.

    My parents raised me Christian, and never baptized me. They wanted me to be aware and mature enough to make that choice for myself when I came of sufficient age.

    Religion is one of many guises through which we learn morality, empathy, a duty to something greater than ourselves. Why would you deny any child access to that framework?

    is it not more damaging to be a person of any faith, and to shun them from your own spirituality, as if they’re somehow dirty, or unworthy?

    The most precious memories of children in healthy relationships with their families, is in how they spend time together. Family traditions, family time, so often comprised of both Holiday traditions, as much as holy tide traditions.

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  4. One day I’d love to see a polytheist dating site.

    BTW did you know some “Pagan” groups forbid any and all attempts at trying to date a girl or guy at their events?

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