And On and On It Goes

(caveat: really bad pain day, yesterday and today. I’m right at the cusp of a migraine and the arthritis in my hands is flaring so badly I can hardly think. This might be a tad bitchier than usual. You have been warned).

For many years, I worked in the interfaith community, thinking that a polytheistic presence in such a space would be useful and productive (it wasn’t). Eventually I gave up on it realizing that there isn’t really any true desire for religious parity and the whole project is just various monotheists, nominally (but not really) committed to [the most modern iterations of] their traditions wanting to stroke each other’s egos about how tolerant they are. Maybe they are, until a polytheist enters the picture and isn’t willing to put piety second nor to pretend that the monotheistic way of doing things is some holy norm, and especially one who isn’t willing to say that all Gods are facets of their precious one. It grew very tiresome very quickly.

Every so often, one will pop up in a discussion on facebook and today that happened and really, I’m just fucking done. I’m tired of having people for whom their entire religious experience is about how good and precious they look to other people coming into polytheistic spaces and shitting on our traditions. You have never stepped away from yourself long enough to be snatched up by the terrible, terrifying hand of the Holy? That’s not my fucking problem. I’m tired of having their way of viewing the world, a way that erases the Gods and spirits, sanctity, and magic from daily living thrust into my face along with their condescension and spiritual pollution.

This is not all monotheists. I have very good and devout friends who are monotheists. This is a particular breed who have chosen to identify as “interfaith” practitioners or ministers or what have you and who are very proud of how “enlightened” and “tolerant” they are. It’s pathetic. Yes, I’m going off on a bit of a tear here but really, what do they ever hope to get out of conversations with us when inevitably they approach us in ways that spit on the foundations of true spirituality: the Gods, the land, the ancestors. I’m happy to talk about religion with people. Hell, in a way it’s my job and I enjoy discussing how we might differ in our approaches and what other traditions do and as I said in earlier posts, I’ve had very nourishing conversations with fellow theology students who were staunch monotheists and very committed to their traditions.

Perhaps that’s the key: being committed to one’s Gods and traditions. I don’t think those who define their spiritual practices solely by the rubric of “interfaith” are. Perhaps that is unfair. It is, however, an opinion based on quite a lot of experience. I suppose there are ways to do interfaith work well (in fact I’ve articulated them in previous pieces on interfaith work) but so often that just doesn’t happen. So often instead, those of us committed to our polytheistic traditions get treated to smugness and condescension. (I suspect monotheists rooted in their traditions, really rooted, who are not obsessed with modernism and getting external validation from other people about how accepting and “tolerant” they are would get treated exactly the same as we do).

I’m really not sure what we have to say to each other. I can sit down with a devout monotheist and find common ground, or at least have an interesting and productive discussion. I can’t do that with someone who mistakes modernity for integrity and pseudo-tolerance for piety and who only talks about “god” when it doesn’t inconvenience them or who thinks about God solely in the abstract as love or peace or what have you, ways that elide Presence and therefore the obligations such Presence might bring. I am always curious though about why these people feel the need to come into our spaces and post or argue or whatever it is they think they’re doing. They know the space in question is that of a polytheist. I’m sure they can find other interfaith people or modernists or even atheists (though frankly, I think your average atheist has far more integrity than your average interfaith practitioner) who completely agree with their way of viewing the world. I’ll bet they’re far, far more respectful of such people than they ever are to devout polytheists.

I’ll wrap up before I go off the rails. This all just pisses me off, some days more than others. Honor your Gods. Honor your ancestors. Honor the land. Try not to be an asshole. That is all.

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 October 23, 2019, in Interfaith, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. So sorry you are in so much physical pain. Is there anything that I can do to ease it?

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  2. Been reading your blog for quite a while now so should probably say Hi! Really enjoy your writing & I’m sorry to hear your in a lot of pain. It really does suck!

    Personally I enjoy your rants – I prefer honestly over bs any day!

    As for people who always seem to end up on a blog/post/discussion – I think they get drawn on purpose. They seem to be drawn to conflict & needing to scream there own opinions over everyone who does not “Do as they say/do” – perhaps it’s there soul trying to draw them back on path (?) & trying to shock there heads out their butts or maybe they are just so insecure that they can’t have any competition to “their path/god” or maybe they just really enjoy being complete…(insert word of choice!)

    I’m always happy to interact with people who have respect for other paths & Gods, even if they personally don’t see things my way.

    I don’t know why people just can’t accept that just because they don’t like something it doesn’t exist – to put it plainly – I’m a vegetarian but it doesn’t mean I don’t think meat exists or that I have any right whatsoever to tell people what to eat!

    I don’t know how the Gods put up with it somedays…! Sorry for the long post!

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  3. I believe that people are simply afraid of the religious. They want to pick and choose how they will be religious and are threatened by the truly pious. I found that many of my Pagan friends actually play act at being Polytheist. They are post-modernist in how they are relate to the Gods – usually on their terms. I.e. Gods are cosmic bellhops. I also believe that they confuse the secular with the sacred.

    From what I have experienced is that the sacred is truly scary. Really scary. You loose all sense of your self in face of the Other.

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