When you assume, John, you make an ass out of yourself.

In a recent patheos article, John Beckett opined that he wasn’t seeing much devotion from polytheists online. Well, John, maybe we got sick and tired of anti-theistic, humanist and/or Marxist trash coming into our online spaces attempting to pollute them (1). Maybe, sweetheart, we took the bulk of our devotion offline, where that contamination isn’t happening. Maybe we’re just not sharing it with you. No one, after all, is entitled to a bird’s eye view of our devotional lives. Some of us are still blogging, because it’s part of our spiritual Work, but you won’t mention that, will you? 

For years now, I’ve taken the high road when it comes to the bullshit thrown my way in the community, thrown not just at me, but at devotional polytheists across the board who won’t bend the knee to the current pollution du jour. Expect that to stop as of now. There is not a single Pagan news outlet that accurately reports Heathen and/or polytheistic news (2).  There are only scared, weak, pathetic people who can’t stand the fact that some communities are doing just fine without them.

I am frankly tired of the arrogance of people like Beckett, who assume just because they aren’t seeing something or haven’t been invited in, that “something” isn’t happening. Just because you’re not seeing people discussing their devotion on twitter or facebook, don’t assume it’s not happening. Maybe they’re on different social media sites (I personally have been using slack-chat quite a bit), or maybe, as I said above, some have just stopped publicly blogging.

Moreover, our traditions aren’t trends or fads. Fuck you, Beckett. We aren’t here to entertain or validate you and we are under no obligation to put our relationships with the Holy Powers out there for assholes like you to gawk and mock. 

Notes: 

  1. I have no problem with atheists. Rock on. I have a tremendous problem with anti-theists who come into our community demanding leadership positions. 
  2. And by the way, John, well before I came along, the majority of Heathens did not generally like the “Pagan” label. I really don’t think that has changed, unless you’re only counting as Heathen those who agree with your politics. We, after all have both Gods and ethics, something I see very little of in the generic Pagan community. 

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 January 11, 2021, in Interfaith, Polytheism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I reviewed Beckett’s two books. He says he is a Polytheist and Druid, but his writing indicates otherwise. I did write a blog about his one book.

    https://neptunesdolphins.wordpress.com/2020/11/18/an-assessment-of-paganism-in-depth-by-john-beckett/

    Beckett’s stated aims are an example of what Tara Isabella Burton has observed about Neo-Pagans. In her book, “Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World,” Burton writes “modern religious movements focus on the religious search for meaning, purpose, and identity on the individual disembedded from and often in active opposition in institutional infrastructure.” She continues “the roots of these new religions are from New Thought which treats the self as the ultimate source of authority and divinity.” People of these new religions follow the Doctrine of Emotional Authenticity: What matters the most is the personal experience. According to Burton, “the world view of Paganism is the promise of personal and political empowerment through untraditional and literally unorthodox avenues.”

    Beckett’s journey was of crafting his own faith by rejecting institutional structures. Beckett writes for the post-modern individual who is spiritual but not religious. Many of these individuals are refugees from various forms of authorities. They, like Beckett, stress self-sovereignty in all of their religious workings. Beckett writes in his book, “We can be faithful to the callings of our gods and ancestors and trust that doing something will be good and helpful, even if it may not be everything we wish it was.”
    —–
    Anyway, what I have noted is what you have also – that politics has become the religious lens. Of course, he doesn’t see devotions on-line because he is looking in all the wrong places. Never checked my site for my prayers or whatever. But then again, I do not write about politics informing my religion.

    Beckett is the quintessential neo-liberal who doesn’t look outside of his own class or comfort to see the bigger picture. He is not transgressive but follows and writes of the fears of the professional manager class have about the great unwashed. His religion is informed by that bias.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I saw that review and I was impressed with it, Neptunesdolphins. I think you hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head. and that equation you note, is exactly what is so intensely polluted about so much of modern Paganism. We are NOT the ultimate arbiters of truth or authority, that is the Gods. Religion is not about “finding meaning.” Religion is about venerating the Holy Ones properly. THAT is from where true meaning flows.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I suddenly have the chorus in th opening number from the musical 1776 in my head “sit down john, sit down john, for gods sake john, sit down”

    And fuck that shit.

    How many new books, including devotionals have come out in the various multiplicity of polytheistic traditions in the last few years? Or the new statuary, and icons, and prayer cards? There’s people all over continuing with their devotions. Look at how pagan and polytheistic goods are booming on sites like etsy. Devotions by default are private things for most, conducted for many in their private spheres and spaces.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! don’t expect him to discuss any of those things, particularly not if an actual polytheist is behind it. When you look up “pandering to the lowest common denominator” that’s where we find Beckett.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I consider my devotions to be private, personal acts between myself and the Holy Powers. I may share snippets of what they involve here and there but I rarely feel the need to tell people much about them. Least of all on the hellscape that is the internet. Even in person most of my friends wouldn’t care in the least that, for example, I frequently offer bread and Coca-Cola to my ancestors. I’m happy to answer a question or two if someone asks, but I am not required to share the details of all my religious practices just because someone I’ve never met feels like they have a right to know. The Holy Powers alone have that right.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did want to add that the writers at Patheos Pagan have complained about their Gods leaving them or at least remaining silent. That was in the spring and summer. Mankey discussed how he had intense contact with Pan, and had to go away since it frightened him as to the intensity. A couple of others decided that doing devotions was just not for them anymore and they just got depressed.

    Meanwhile, Beckett and a host of others stopped writing about Gods and focused on the Orange Man, mad, bad and dangerous to know and his friends. Most of the postings of the summer and fall were strictly political.

    The trend is showing up elsewhere. Yes, the Wild Hunt is all political now with inclusivity for Heathens, But a lot of the organizations such as the ADF, who were formally focused on religion, are now political animals. Devotions are down since their attention is directed elsewhere. Devotions are not coming back since the political seems to be more important.

    I did want to comment on inclusivity for Heathens a bit. One, are there non-Heathens beating down the door and being rejected? Two, the whole thing sets up a double bind for Polytheists who worship European Gods. One, the European religions have to be inclusive BUT European religions cannot strictly focus European Gods. Meanwhile, non-European religions can shut out Europeans, and must not be inclusive.

    So puzzle that logic out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If you don’t honor the Heathen Gods, you don’t hold our values, you don’t want to bow your head to the yoke of tradition then yes, I will reject you as should every Heathen. and while it’s fine to honor non Germanic Gods, that should not be done in blot or symbol or other Heathen rites. They should have Their own proper rites. No, people aren’t being rejected en masse. Even if they were, every group has a rite to set its own requirements. I wouldn’t let an anti-theist cross my threshold if you put a gun to my head. We have every rite to keep the garbage out and we have ever right to keep out those who don’t adhere to our tradition’s requirements. That should not be difficult to comprehend.

      Frankly, as far as their not hearing / sensing the Gods, let me just say: color me surprised. *sarcasm* I’ll also add that those of us focused properly on devotion aren’t having this issue.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hold up one moment here? So Pan showed up to Jason Mankey in a terrifying way and this made Mankey not want to worship Pan anymore? I hope I’m misunderstanding this because that’s incredibly dumb. It’s Pan! You know, the God hat inspired the word “panic”. Of course He’s going to be scary sometimes! Shit, man, He can be scary on a good day. I think Mankey’s just looking for an excuse.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I usually try to be much more careful, tactful, and measured when I post things online, and I usually also try to be less impulsive in my comments, which I rarely make in public forums. It’s also possible I missed some kind of blow up elsewhere that provides context for this post because I am not on most social media, and I also almost never engage with the bit that I am technically on. I know I will probably regret this, because, even when I strongly disagree with others online I usually either stay out of it, or try very hard not to increase the animosity. I don’t want to contribute to the distraction from our Gods. I don’t want to act rashly and harm others with my words or say things that I either don’t mean or later regret. I don’t want to get bullied myself. And I don’t want to feed the people who clearly and repeatedly create and continue drama for reasons I do not understand. But I am completely out of patience with other polytheists this week.

    What are you all doing?

    In the blog post in question, John Beckett explicitly wrote, “But the kind of polytheistic devotion that is the core of my practice has declined over the past few years. Or at least, people writing about it has declined.

    It’s not gone. Many polytheists simply perform their devotion and go on with their lives without writing about it. I see some theological work going on, although it’s mainly among Neoplatonists. I see good devotion from some Heathens and a disdain for it from other Heathens.”

    He specifically qualified that it might just be that people writing about it declined. He *also* specifically stated many polytheists are practicing devotion and not writing about it. Furthermore, he even specifically said he sees good devotion from Heathens. Yes, he also said he sees disdain for it from other Heathens, but Galina, that is something you complain about all the time.

    I too, blog because it is part of my Spiritual Work. I don’t blog as often as I wish I did, mostly because of health issues. If it comes to only having energy to pray privately or to clean my house or else to blog, in most circumstances I’ll pray privately or clean my house. I also don’t blog much because I don’t feel qualified, which in some cases is true, and in others is imposter syndrome and lack of confidence in myself. But a lot of why I don’t blog often, is precisely because of this sort of thing, even though this sort of thing is also part of why I started blogging (and I believe part of why my Gods want me to blog). I also started blogging because years ago, I too, I saw a decrease in the number of polytheist bloggers. There are a lot of reasons for that. Some made our practices less public and turned more inward, some left polytheism. But I believe for many, it was probably precisely this kind of bullying and invalidation, along with the frequent outbursts of drama. And I think that is horrible. I think there should be good resources available for those new to polytheism, as well as to those who have been polytheists for a long time. I even think it’s a good idea to have resources available to those who do not share our religions. But how do things like this look to new polytheists? How do they look to Christians looking on? As a polytheist, I can say they look pretty terrible to me. Funnily enough, “we are under no obligation to put our relationships with the Holy Powers out there for assholes like you to gawk and mock” is a large portion of exactly why I often don’t want to blog or comment on blogs myself — but John Beckett isn’t part of that.

    I am only one person, with my own subjective views, but I must say, I would not trust any of you, based on such actions. I would not trust you for spiritual or pastoral counseling, I would not trust any of you for professional divination, and I would not trust any of you to lead a ritual of more than a few people if they were outside of your in-group — and even then, I wouldn’t trust you not to turn on them. I am not saying that any of you aren’t or can’t be competent at any of these things, in fact I specifically believe the opposite. But I would not trust any of you not to let your emotions and your egos and your performed outrage for the sake of others get in your way.

    What are our goals? Do we want to be available as a resource for those who seek the Gods? Do we want to help them? Do we want people to draw closer to Them? Do we want to support other polytheists? Or do we want to drive them from the Gods? Do we want to build communities that excoriate others and claim they are not really in contact with the Gods?

    I will tell you, John Beckett claims he is a polytheist. I believe him. He has written books about polytheism and he teaches classes about it. While we never know what is going on in someone’s head or their emotions, and we only see what they reveal, he has mentioned daily and weekly prayers, which seems pretty pious to me. When you claim that he is not a polytheist, you are not only telling that to people who read your blog, his blog, and to him if he sees it, but you are also effectively telling the Gods he claims to worship that he is not a polytheist and does not believe in or worship Them. Ask yourselves, do you really believe that? Is that really what you want to say? Who are we to tell the Gods Their devotees are not really Theirs, or do not really worship Them? Is that *really* the stance you want to take? If so, I will be way, *way* over here. The impeity, hubris, and arrogance of that claim makes me feel physically ill.

    It strikes me as an astounding amount of human hubris, arrogance, and ego to accuse someone else of not being a polytheist when they claim they are, and visibly act like they are. Unless they are specifically trying to join a closed tradition in which we are an authority figure — which does not appear to be the case with John Beckett — that is between them and their Gods. And we are *not* Gods. We — all of us, including me — are mortal, human, fallible, and flawed.

    Regarding politics, yes, many of his posts have been political. As he has said, politics and religion are not the same. But he also said his religion informs his politics. I agree with both of those statements. Additionally, Galina, many of your posts are political — you repeatedly call antifa, marxists, and leftists (who have areas of overlap, but are not all the same) “trash”, “garbage”, “asshats” and “scum”. That is political. Your blog post about The Odyssey getting banned (which, by the way, wasn’t exactly accurate) was political.

    Regarding people not hearing their Gods or not feeling as close to Them, neptunesdolphins, what is your obsession with this? This is at least the second post I’ve seen you comment on about this fairly recently. Dark Nights of the Soul and acedia are usually described in reference to Christianity, but they are hardly experiences exclusive to Christian experiences and religions. In my (again, limited and subjective) experience and observation, I agree this is an occurrence that often, probably even mostly, happens when people are lax in their devotions. But that is hardly exclusive. It can also occur due to injury or illness, stress, or due to rapid or extreme life changes. It can be a result of trauma. And any of those things can be a factor in people becoming lax in their devotions, which I agree is bad, and generally makes the situation worse, but they can also be factors by themselves for why people may not be able to hear the Gods or else feel that They are distant. There are probably many, *many* other possible reasons for it too, not to mention that the Gods are *Gods*. It is not usually Their job to be with us constantly or handhold us through every single thing. They may be busy. They may have other things to do. They are looking after and minding an entire *universe*, if not more. For some people it may be part of a lesson,as when Galina wrote that she went without being able to feel Odin’s presence for an extended period of time (I believe a year) except when in divination for others as part of her training. And while I realize that it isn’t the case in these particular situations, some people are headblind and never feel the presence of the Gods or hear Them at all. But regardless of all of that, it can be a difficult, sad, depressing, or painful experience to feel farther away from the Gods or to go from being able to hear Them clearly and trust your discernment to not being able to hear Them. It can even be frightening, or, in some circumstances, it can be downright crushing. Galina, you wrote about being angry with the Gods when your mother died. Neptunesdolphins, if you have never gone through such a Dark Night of the Soul, I envy you. But why are you bragging about not going through it? Are you so sure that you never will? I hope you don’t — I always hope no one does because speaking from personal experience, they can be excruciatingly painful — but perhaps if you had, you’d be more compassionate.

    Galina, there is so much about you that I respect and admire. Your degree of devotion and piety are an inspiration and I strive towards your levels of both. But when I read things like this, it truly makes me question. I deeply respect you as a religious specialist and an elder within your tradition. And I know that leaders are mere mortals — everyone from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi to Winston Churchill and General Custer did many things wrong, in addition the many good things they are respected and admired for. But I also believe that while leaders are human, and can have bad days, that they generally have a responsibility to try to lead with honor.

    As far as John Beckett goes, the closest I have seen him to come to “gawk or mock”ing Pagans or polytheists is when he criticized a dismissive article by someone who was not a Pagan or polytheist and who decided to try a type of aesthetic witchcraft for a week in order to write an article — and she didn’t even follow through with all of the things she tried. He was hardly the only person who criticized her, and he was one of the more polite ones. She also wasn’t a polytheist, or really, even Pagan.

    This whole post reminds me of how President Trump tried to spin President-elect Biden as more liberal than Sanders or Warren. And I worry about saying this, because I worry that it will devolve into an argument for or against Trump, which is not my point. I am against him, which is no secret, but my point here is that the kinds of blatantly untrue things that are being said about Beckett and that are getting swallowed whole by at least part of this audience remind me in worrying ways of how Trump spread blatant lies about Biden which were also swallowed whole and unquestioningly by some of his base. For people who pride themselves on critical reading, I am seeing a distinct lack of it lately.

    It also strikes me as hypocritical to claim that anyone can be a polytheist regardless of their politics, and then to deride someone and claim they aren’t a polytheist partially because of their politics.

    I am thoroughly disappointed in, and disgusted with the polytheist community today. I genuinely believe this kind of bullying, infighting, and derision is a large part of why we don’t have the communities and infrastructure other religions do. Some days I fear we never will.

    And if any of you decide that I am not a real polytheist because you don’t like what I said, by all means — *go tell it to my Gods*.

    Like

    • would have been nice, coastal pagan, if you were equally disgusted back in 2012 when anti-theists were coming after polytheists and invading polytheist online spaces right and left. (If you were, awesome but it’s funny how people are never disgusted when pagans are coming after polytheists. No, we’re the “piety posse” and anything goes in throwing pollution and bullshit our way). For the record, I never said Beckett wasn’t polytheist. To be fair, I don’t care. What I do care about is the politicizing of our various traditions and the fact that devotion and discussions of devotion are taking up less and less room. Yes, I do post political things but I also write extensively about devotion and theology. Beckett’s written books. well, sweetie, I’ve written over thirty. I’ve taught, I’ve counseled. I’ve done divination for people. I’ve facilitated ordeals and then half of those people have chosen to be silent when I and mine are attacked publicly, or they themselves turn and do the attacking. You don’t trust me? You don’t think I’m nice? fine. that doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve put up with more horse shit then I have ever written about publicly from the community for well over two decades, constant bullying, constant attacks, more than a couple people I think are clinically obsessed, even being taken to court once by someone who was deeply emotionally disturbed. Consistently I have tried to take the high road and where has it gotten me? Where are the people coming out of the woodwork in defense of me, or other elders, or our traditions? I don’t see them en masse. People are too scared to speak up or they just don’t care so pardon the fuck out of me if I no longer choose to take the high road when it comes to the bullshit people are bringing to our door.

      Like

    • Galina has not stated that John Beckett is not a polytheist. I agree with your comments that we cannot tell the Gods who is and who is not a polytheist – but why does this comment apply to Galina’s statement? Where did you get the idea that she is saying he isn’t? What she did say was that spending time arguing your political views as if they define your religious views is a dangerous road away from our devotional work, wouldn’t you agree?

      You wrote:
      What are our goals? Do we want to be available as a resource for those who seek the Gods? Do we want to help them? Do we want people to draw closer to Them? Do we want to support other polytheists? Or do we want to drive them from the Gods? Do we want to build communities that excoriate others and claim they are not really in contact with the Gods?

      This is all very nice, all these idealized pursuits you are describing and I do agree with your comments that you cannot trust leaders and elders who have allowed mud slinging be a self expression of their ego. However, what have you done to further the goals that you describe? You talk about having respect for Galina’s devotion and piety, and its clear that you have been deeply moved by consistently reading her writings, but where were you for the past 25 years since she has written 30 + books on the subject of polytheism, spent countless days and nights, devoted her finances, her time and health to build a community, educate those coming into polytheism, counseled those in need of help, and conducted rituals? Have you ever offered a hand? Or any kind of assistance whatsoever? The reason I ask is, if a person is doing all of that work, proverbially putting their money where their mouth is, alone, without any help or support, for 25 years, as those who proclaim themselves devotional polytheists comment from the sidelines but are too busy, or too sick, or distracted by their own life to actually do anything no matter how small to support that work, one can see them getting a little uncompromising with people who are ok with diluting the very traditions they are fighting to build. I mean, there are a lot of people reading this blog and engaging in wishful thinking, but has anyone ever offered to lend a hand?

      Like

    • Since you asked, I have started out as an atheist who ended up in a mental hospital for having spiritual experiences. I had to make a decision over how to be sane. So there is that.

      As for the dark night of the soul, I had a wall fall me, and now have a traumatic brain injury. So, there is that. Anyway, I have a lot of compassion for people who struggle and wrestle with their faith. I do all the time.

      Like

  6. DecemberFBryant

    I think there is a very strange expectation – one I’ve butted heads with in the last year and has caused me to be very fucking tired – that because we are polytheist, because we are devout, because we believe and practice and LIVE our love for the Gods and ancestors and spirits that we SHOULD share that with the world and teach the world how to live like us.
    On one hand I think it comes from evangelism in USA and Western world with this expectation to preach what we believe.
    On the other there is the craving, this body-gnawing desire in so many for devotion and connection and piety that people are demanding it even as they run from it because it is scary – the Gods are fucking terrifying when They make contact. I don’t blame people from squirming.
    HOWEVER when I do share I am faced again and again with bullshit. WHen I don’t share I am faced with this. “Why don’t you blog anymore? Why don’t you share your practice?” Well it doesn’t put food on my table and though theres a whole hubub of supporting our spirit workers I sure as fuck don’t see that support.
    So it comes down to – if you want to see something in the world, do it yourself and really hunt down and SUPPORT those doing it and yea I mean money yea I mean standing up for them when people act like assholes about their work and yea I mean telling them they’re doing an amazing job and asking if they need a hand in that work.

    I think most news today is broadcasted whining. Its unfortunate and click bait. Asking questions and stating problems is pointless without seeking answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you December. I think not only is there the expectation that we should be sharing every shred of mystery we’re given but also that we should do so without requiring anything in return (and I’m not talking $–though let’s be honest, if we want functional communities long term, we need to be supporting our religious specialists financially. Don’t want to do that? then don’t whine when you can’t have the pretty temple and the 24/7 access to someone who knows that they’re doing.– Hell, mostly I’m talking basic respect). Part of the expectation I do think is desperation. Gods know people are hungry for information on how to do devotion well, on. how to find their footing, on how to do their various traditions respectfully and well. I can’t fault that. But sometimes it’s just pure entitlement. No one is entitled to anyone’s work and moreover no one, myself included, is entitled to Mystery. I’m grateful for every shred of experience or knowledge or contact that I have received from my Gods and spirits but in no way do I think I’m entitled to any of it and that follows to with elders, teachers, etc. with whom I engage.

      What pisses me off — and never let it be said I don’t have a long fucking fuse–is people taking my work and the knowledge I have shared, using it, (sometimes quoting it without attribution) while at the same time pouring shit on my head, slandering my name, sometimes outright knowingly lying just to make things up, etc. People want knowledge given to them, but they want it to be comfortable. The moment it’s not packaged in a way that makes them comfortable, they get butt hurt. There’s that too.

      I fault no one for going through a dark night of the soul (I’m currently working on a piece about just that topic, so some of this has been quite timely), but one shouldn’t assume that one’s own fallow time is indicative of the entire community. The thing that gets me too is this: one stops devotion to focus primarily on politics. one’s experience of the Gods stops. one wonders what happened. … um…it seems pretty simple to me and pretty fucking obvious.

      This BS is why I don’t offer spiritual counseling outside of my own religious House anymore. It’s why I don’t do much public divination (I will do it, but I don’t advertise it much). It’s why I won’t participate in rituals outside my own tradition, and preferably outside my own House. It’s just not worth it. and it makes me very angry. We should be so much farther along in restoration of our traditions than we are and we all bear the responsibility for that. it’s two steps forward, one step back and constantly having those who should be working side by side as co-religionists trying to hamstring you instead. I’m done being nice about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m going to be honest here and read this post and got a little mad at first. Though I disagree with some of his conclusions, I tend to like Beckett and of all the Patheos blogs, his is my favorite to read. After reading the comments here and rereading the post, I started to take a closer look at things. I still like Beckett but I can see both sides of things. Which might be because maybe I’m wishy washy or maybe because I kind of flirt the line between neo-paganism and reconstructionism. I think, as neptunesdolphins has said, that Beckett *is* the typical neo-pagan and falls on that side of things. I also have to agree that Patheos has gone in the direction of politics over actual theology. I don’t think talking about politics is inherently a bad thing, but as has already been said, when it’s a replacement for actual religious work and devotion, therein lies the issue.

    At the moment, I don’t think political conversations online right now are doing anything productive. Things have deteriorated into both sides seeing the other as subhuman and anyone trying to take a center road being called a “centrist” like it’s a bad thing, and treated like a coward. The problem is, there’s also still that huge white supremacist problem in Heathenry that we don’t get the luxury of ignoring. I’ll be completely transparent and say that I don’t know what to do about all this, especially as a solitary that isn’t in the market for a community. At least not at the moment. I don’t really know what to do, especially as someone who considers themself a leftist and hangs around with a lot of leftists, and yet doesn’t agree that every persona non grata is somehow inhumanly evil. There’s a lot of black and white thinking going on and it’s hard not to get swept up in it.

    All this is to say, in the effort of being transparent, that i still like Beckett. And i still like you (despite how many “thinkpieces” I’ve seen calling you a Nazi), even when i don’t agree 100% with everything you (and he) have written. And it feels crazy that I have to admit something like this but I’ve seen other folks get flack for not choosing a side. Maybe this isn’t the place to say these things but i wanted to thank you for continuing to write, despite being cancelled over and over again. I wanted to thank you for sticking to your guns. And i wanted to thank you and these folks in your comment section for challenging me to go beyond my gut reaction.

    As for Beckett, I think the reason he’s come to the conclusion that he has, has to do with the circles he runs in. I know I’d be inclined to come to the same conclusions just looking at the broader trends. Most pan-pagan spaces seem to be overwhelmed with atheist witchcraft or vaguely deified “Universe” types. Among these spaces, more devotional polytheist types are getting drowned out or simply leaving. He wrongly assumes that means that these conversations aren’t happening, which, as we know, isn’t true. But I understand how he comes to this reasoning. I know I sometimes lose my patience when the only questions being asked within these groups boil down to “does anyone have a spell for [insert whatever situation here]?” over and over ad nauseum instead of actual theological queries. If i was basing everything off of that, I’d be quite discouraged as well.

    Anyway, thank you for letting me write this small novel here. :]

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t know Beckett personally. He seems sincere. I do disagree with him on many things and I think that’s fine. If anyone agrees 100% all the time with someone, there’s something wrong there! lol. When I do these polemical posts, it’s rarely about the *person*. It’s almost always about what is being said, what is being put into the community, ideas being held.

      I think I’m tired of both left and right. Most leftists are fine. It’s the radical progressives that want to push marxism constantly, that really get under my skin. If it’s a matter of fighting corporatocracy and being pro health care and pro education for all, well, I’m down with that. But I think marxism and communism are as dangerous as the corporations. both are dehumanizing. There are other ways. it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

      Yeah. don’t like someone these days, butt hurt by something they said, call ’em a nazi. I find it disgusting in how it shows such tremendous disrespect to those who died during WWII and those who fought against real Nazis during WWII. The word has become meaningless today. That’s dangerous. I think it’s easy enough to tell from my writing that I don’t support nazism or white supremacy. What I do support is nuanced argumentation, common sense, and devotion.

      I think atheist – insert religion here is an abomination. that is the thing I really think our communities should root out. The problem isn’t the occasional atheist that wants to come enjoy the community. It’s when someone who doesn’t believe in the Gods wants a leadership position — that’s really, really problematic — so you’ll see me writing about that quite strongly on occasion.

      and you’re always welcome to post here. 🙂 Thank you for doing so. These are rough and confusing times and I think all our emotions are running high. With the Gods, we will endure though. Never doubt it.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I will say that Galina, you struck a nerve with Beckett’s postings. He is a very popular blogger. As for me, I have read his postings since he started blogging, and read his books. I have grown strangely disquiet the longer he wrote and pondered why. I do believe his emphasis on self-sovereignty is the key for me.

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    • that emphasis on self-sovereignty is something I find ultra modern and very impious — though I don’t think he (obviously) would consider it such. This was the place of so many of the conflicts between devout polytheists and humanis-pagans years ago and now as well: what has the top rung in the cosmic hierarchy. The obvious answer is “the Holy Powers,” but that is a very difficult reality for a lot of people. I”m not sure why, but I’ve noticed that for many people, acknowledging that there is a Power above them on the food chain makes them feel diminished. Their egos can’t take it and they flail like undisciplined children. It’s a poison of our modern world, reinforced by every bit of the media we consume. I don’t care how popular someone is, when I see that, I’m calling it out. It is one of the most deleterious attitudes to bring to devotion and faith.

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  9. Leave people alone who live & love their Deities & practice their devotions, especially if you are an atheist. If you follow the path of an atheist, why would you seek leadership in Pagan communities?
    I am a Polytheist Pagan. There is no way I would try to be a leader of an atheist community. Why would I?
    Be who you are. And leave others to do the same.

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  10. First, I want to apologize to everyone here for my response. While I still agree with almost all of what I said, there were definitely other ways that I could have said it. I was rude, impatient, and intemperate in my response. In my anger, I think I threw more fuel onto the fire. It certainly didn’t defuse the situation. Reacting as critically as I did was not beneficial, and may have been harmful.

    Second, I am sorry it took me so long to respond. I needed to tend to things in my offline life, and I also wanted to take time to cool off and think about this and read and reread the post and comments so that I perhaps do better this time.

    Third, Galina, I am sorry I said that you said John Beckett is not a polytheist. It was neptunesdolphins who said, “He says he is a Polytheist and Druid, but his writing indicates otherwise.” Your agreement with her review, plus the tone of your original post, and my (admittedly inexact) memories of conflicts within the polytheist and Pagan communities led me to erroneously believe you endorsed and agreed with that assessment. I should have been more careful with my critical reading, particularly when I was criticizing that in others.

    I will try to respond to the comments that I know were directed at me. Out of the others, I can’t tell which had parts that were directed at me and which didn’t, and honestly, I also just don’t have the energy to reply to every comment in case they were.

    Then I’ll try to rephrase some of what I had intended to be my key points, in what I hope to make a less inflammatory and attacking way.

    In 2012, I was literally dying of an undiagnosed illness and trying to get a diagnosis before it killed me. I had even less mental bandwidth for people I did not know in person — and actually very little for people I did know in person — than I do now. I was aware there were conflicts, but I wasn’t able to follow them closely. I also saw a lot of behavior and actions from people of many different beliefs and traditions back then that I thought was uncivilized and often cruel and petulant, and I did not have the energy to sort it out back then. For what it’s worth, I don’t think atheists should be leaders of religious polytheistic communities. I do think that there are plenty of Pagans who aren’t polytheists who have the right to call themselves Pagans. At least one such Pagan had a lot of influence on the elements of animism in my religion, which I’m very appreciative of. I don’t call you or anyone else the “piety posse”, so I’m not sure what that has to do with me.

    Okay, I don’t think I explained a lot of things well, which is definitely my fault, and i apologize for that. Galina and Tatyana, you both seem to have taken what I said about John Beckett writing books and blog posts as some sort of “who has done more” discussion. That is not all all what I intended, and I also think that kind of argument leads down a really dangerous and unwise slope. My point about the books John Beckett has written was not that he has done things Galina has not, it was to provide evidence that I believe he is genuinely a polytheist, as he claims to be.

    Regarding not trusting you, I think that is another thing I did not communicate well. I was trying to convey — apparently very badly — that I don’t view those actions as trustworthy, and I am a polytheist with many years of reading your blog off and on, many years of reading your books, and I believe you to be a pious, devout person, a good priest, and a good diviner. And that if the things you and others said in the post and comments seem untrustworthy to me, they probably also (I believed) would appear untrustworthy to others. However, in retrospect, that is an awfully big and quite possibly erroneous assumption on my part. And it also presupposes that you have any interest in appearing trustworthy to those in polytheism who do not know you directly, which it seems like is also a faulty assumption.

    Galina, I am genuinely sorry that you have gone through such horrible things and that people have behaved so atrociously to you. I believe that you often do take the high road. There have also been instances over the years when I have seen you not — and I believe at least some of those were not in response to anything anyone had done to you personally. But again, I do believe you often take the high road, and that should be commended more often than it is. I have seen people defend you. I feel guilty (and felt guilty at the time) that I did not when you were doxed a few years ago, even though it is a practice that I am strongly against. I also feel guilty when I didn’t for other things not related to you, for instance, I said nothing on my blogs about Black Lives Matter when the protests started, or about a telescope being built on indigenous land. I had reasons for these things, including that I didn’t even have my current blogs a few years ago, so I had not platform to speak of and no one to tell when you were doxed. But I do definitely need to do better about those things when it is possible for me to do so, and when I am aware of them.

    I think that people being afraid to speak up or not caring may often be the case, but I also think that sometimes people have other things going on in their lives that are very pressing, or they also may just not be aware sometimes. Additionally, sometimes the fears people have may not land where you think. I was definitely afraid to speak up to you. I did it anyway because I felt it was the right thing to do, and because — unlike other times in the past — I was capable of it this time. i was trying to serve my Gods and my community, insofar as I could, and I believe I failed, which I regret and am ashamed of, but it was not an easy thing to do.

    Tatyana, I’m not sure what a few of your points were. Are you trying to get me to say what I have and have not done for the polytheist community to prove that I haven’t done as much as Galina has? Because I certainly don’t dispute that, and I never have. Or is it to prove that I haven’t done enough in general? Because I really don’t think that’s for you to say. I don’t even think that’s for *me* to say. I will probably never feel like I’ve done enough for my Gods. When it comes to community, I want to be helpful when possible, and at least refrain from doing damage or causing harm when helping isn’t possible — though again, I really messed up in the latter department with my first post. But the reality is that, while I have done things to try to help the polytheist community, I am largely not involved in that community and am on the outskirts. That is partly due to accessibility, partly due to my own personality and calling, and partly due to the infighting that I really want nothing to with, and that I believe causes a lot of harm.

    Galina and I are also very different people. I am not an expert, I am not a priest, or a pro diviner, and I do not consider myself a religious specialist of any kind. I am not an elder, nor the founder or leader of any tradition, nor even a religious leader of any kind. I do not claim to be any of those things and I have in fact made it a point to say that I am not in multiple places, specifically so that there is no confusion. I do not want to mislead anyone either deliberately or accidentally.

    But I do believe that our leaders should be held to a higher standard, and yes, I believe they should be trustworthy. As a broader society, much of the world holds leaders to a higher standard. There are often certainly exceptions — the entertainment industry, creatives, and in certain limited circumstances police, military, and politicians. But for the most part, leaders (even in most of those categories) are held to a higher standard. And other leaders, such as teachers, lawyers, doctors, and priests certainly are. I agree that much more of a burden falls on leaders, and that that can make it much harder for them to manage their behavior, especially when they don’t have help or or being attacked. But I also believe that leaders should take extra care to manage their behavior. I agree that leaders should have help and that when people are attacked they should be able to defend themselves. And as I said before, I believe that we are all human and that anyone can have a bad day, or make mistakes, including leaders. But I don’t believe Beckett was attacking Galina, or Heathens, or even polytheists in general. And I believe that regardless of who we are, it is important to be accountable.

    I think your comment about people who proclaim themselves devotional polytheists goes down a dangerous road for many reasons, not all of which I’m sure I can articulate. There’s the implication that people who are busy or sick are not doing enough. It also seems like you might be assuming that people who are not front and center in our religions have not done anything, which is not always the case. Additionally, some people do not serve the community, and that does not mean they are not devotional polytheists.

    Again, politics are not religion and vice versa. But to perhaps put my point another way: I am a Democrat. I don’t attend the DNC, or go to party rallies. I do donate time and money to causes related to my political beliefs. I do vote. I do discuss politics with people, but it is not on a large, social media or otherwise hugely public scale. That doesn’t mean I’m not a Democrat. And it doesn’t mean I expect Democratic political leaders to curse at others.

    I am not personally offering Galina a hand. This is not because I don’t like or respect her, but for several reasons. 1. Most importantly, I am genuinely not in a position to be able to offer *anyone* a hand right now. I haven’t been for over decade, and I may not be able to again in this lifetime. I am not at all happy about that, but it is the truth. 2. I am not Heathen. As far as I know Galina and I pray to very few of the same Gods. We are both polytheists, but we are in different traditions. 3. Probably second most importantly, for all that I deeply appreciate her contributions and respect her accomplishments, if I did offer Galina a hand, I’d be afraid it would get bitten off.

    Neptunesdolphins, I am genuinely sorry you had those experiences. They sound truly horrific. From your earlier comment, and from others you have made, it sounded to me as if you were criticizing people for not being able to hear their Gods or feeling that their Gods were distant, and it sounded to me like you were implying that people who don’t experience those things are either better polytheists, better people, or both. It’s possible I misunderstood, and I apologize if I did, however I will say that those particular comments still sound fairly self-righteous to me.

    In general, to everyone who commented, and who read what I wrote the first time, I do stand by much of what I said, though mostly not how I said it. I don’t believe John Beckett verbally attacked anyone or did anything wrong. I think he expressed legitimate concerns, and I believe what he said was misrepresented in an inaccurate way. I believe that if we want polytheistic communities that should try to build them up, instead of creating more division. I believe that unnecessary strife and interpersonal conflicts make our communities look bad to both those outside them and to many within. I believe that in general, we have an obligation to try to conduct ourselves civilly and with honor, and that while what that means varies from individual to individual and circumstance to circumstance, there are ways of behaving that definitely are and are not those things. I believe that our leaders should be held to a higher standard. I believe that our leaders should be trustworthy. I believe that saying or implying someone is not a polytheist who claims that they are and appears to be is impious and cruel. I believe that treating people who cannot hear their Gods or feel They are distant in a disparaging manner is also cruel. I believe cursing at, verbally attacking, and misrepresenting what someone said (particularly if the latter is intentional) is uncivilized and unbecoming of those of us who publicly represent polytheism to the world by being public about our religion (and yes, that includes me). I believe that anyone can make errors or mistakes and do things wrong. I believe accountability is important.

    Now, I am going to have to remove myself from this conversation. It has taken up a tremendous amount of my mental and emotional bandwidth since it began, and it has taken me more than one day to craft this reply. Part of why I don’t often comment on blogs is because I don’t usually have the ability to carry on protracted conversations that do not occur in real-time, especially these days, and especially not with people I don’t actually know. So I need to move on because there are other things in my life I need to tend to, and I need to free up the resources I was using for this. Additionally, I don’t know how much my conversing further would be. Despite how inflammatory my first comment was and my error in posting it without reviewing and editing it further, I really don’t want to increase animosity or drama.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Coastal pagan, I will respond to your second post more fully later — I’m in the middle of cooking dinner atm; BUT I wanted to thank you for coming back and posting and clarifying. I really appreciate that. I think it’s really easy for written posts to be taken as more inflammatory than they really are (I didn’t find your initial one out of line at all, even if I disagreed w/ it though), because so much of communication occurs non-verbally (I think one study I read said 70%) so it’s easy for things to be misunderstood online. THANK YOU for considering, posting, and clarifying.

      Liked by 2 people

    • HI Coastal Pagan,

      As promised, I wanted to respond to you more fully, especially since I really do appreciate you taking the time to come back and clarify your response.

      You wrote, “First, I want to apologize to everyone here for my response. While I still agree with almost all of what I said, there were definitely other ways that I could have said it. I was rude, impatient, and intemperate in my response. In my anger, I think I threw more fuel onto the fire. It certainly didn’t defuse the situation. Reacting as critically as I did was not beneficial, and may have been harmful.”

      No need to apologize and I’m the last person to fault you for being momentarily intemperate. I have a temper myself – as y’all know – but you wrote from the heart and we should be passionate about our devotions and traditions. It’s all good. I don’t think any harm has been done. You didn’t lapse into any ad hominems. Besides, time offline to consider one’s response is always good. I often let emails or articles to which I want to respond sit for a time (sometimes too long, I’ll admit) in order to properly respond.

      You wrote, “Galina, I am sorry I said that you said John Beckett is not a polytheist. It was neptunesdolphins who said, “He says he is a Polytheist and Druid, but his writing indicates otherwise.” Your agreement with her review, plus the tone of your original post, and my (admittedly inexact) memories of conflicts within the polytheist and Pagan communities led me to erroneously believe you endorsed and agreed with that assessment. I should have been more careful with my critical reading, particularly when I was criticizing that in others.”

      It’s hard when comments are flying back and forth to catch who said what all the time. No worries. I do think Neptunesdolphins made some excellent points in her review, not necessarily about John Beckett specifically, but rather about trends in contemporary Paganism and Polytheism overall. I think there are attitudes that our communities have inherited from multiple streams that are really deleterious to long term, sustainable, tradition building, and she points some of those out.

      You wrote, “Regarding not trusting you, I think that is another thing I did not communicate well. I was trying to convey — apparently very badly — that I don’t view those actions as trustworthy, and I am a polytheist with many years of reading your blog off and on, many years of reading your books, and I believe you to be a pious, devout person, a good priest, and a good diviner. And that if the things you and others said in the post and comments seem untrustworthy to me, they probably also (I believed) would appear untrustworthy to others. However, in retrospect, that is an awfully big and quite possibly erroneous assumption on my part. And it also presupposes that you have any interest in appearing trustworthy to those in polytheism who do not know you directly, which it seems like is also a faulty assumption.”

      Here’s the thing: I do what I do in service to my Gods. I am human though and have a temper. I’ve worked for almost thirty years in the community constantly fighting this BS or that and I’m really tired of it. This last year was particularly unpleasant. I get snappish. I also have, I’ve been told, a terse and direct writing style. What I know to be true, I will not qualify or dance around. People can take that or leave that. On the up side, I will never lie. Someone coming to me is going to get the unvarnished truth to the best of my ability, but…I’m unlikely to soften my responses. I don’t ever go out of my way to hurt someone. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but again, I’m not softening my responses (I’d be doing no favors to anyone if I did), and I have found that I’m occasionally read as being angry when I’m perfectly calm and just stating a position. (This often happens when I’m writing in my academic voice and/or when I’m dissecting a post and really drilling into the language, OR when I’m doing theological exegesis. Analysis seems to inevitably read as attack and I suspect it’s because I don’t apologize for the former). The one thing you can trust, like it or not, is that I’m not going to feed you a line of bullshit.

      You wrote, “Galina, I am genuinely sorry that you have gone through such horrible things and that people have behaved so atrociously to you.”

      Thank you for that.

      You wrote, “I believe that you often do take the high road. There have also been instances over the years when I have seen you not — and I believe at least some of those were not in response to anything anyone had done to you personally.”

      I do, more than I think people realize, and partly because it’s not personal. I do what I do because I love my Gods and want to build Their traditions and anything else there, including the BS, the slander, the various sad people fixated on me, is largely fungible. I can’t afford to get distracted by it. Being human, I do get fed up and frustrated though and when my temper flares, I’ll lash out but when I do that, you can bet there’s crap going on behind the scenes, relevant to the situation at hand, that I’m not articulating in a blog post.

      Also, I suppose I do take it very personally when I see our traditions being attacked or people who should know better behaving in ways that are disrespectful to the Gods or damaging to the traditions. I think that WE (in the generic sense) are the biggest impediment to building sustainable traditions and when I think about that, it reminds me that it was people just like us who willfully abandoned their Gods in the first place, putting us in this situation of having to restore and rebuild (in this calculus, I’m excluding situations where there was torture and forced conversion), and that angers me greatly. It evokes my contempt and contempt is never a good motivator. It’s something I work regularly to purge from my heart because it is not fruitful to the work that needs to be done. It does not make me a more useful tool for my Gods to use, quite the opposite in fact.

      You wrote, “But again, I do believe you often take the high road, and that should be commended more often than it is. I have seen people defend you. I feel guilty (and felt guilty at the time) that I did not when you were doxed a few years ago, even though it is a practice that I am strongly against. I also feel guilty when I didn’t for other things not related to you, for instance, I said nothing on my blogs about Black Lives Matter when the protests started, or about a telescope being built on indigenous land. I had reasons for these things, including that I didn’t even have my current blogs a few years ago, so I had not platform to speak of and no one to tell when you were doxed. But I do definitely need to do better about those things when it is possible for me to do so, and when I am aware of them.”

      I rarely see it, to the point that in the rare case that I do, it shocks me. Now I know there are many reasons for that – sometimes, often, people are afraid. Why wouldn’t they be seeing the public part of what I’ve had to deal with in Heathenry alone? I can well understand that response, and that’s (as you also said in your response post) not taking into account health issues, family issues, life issues that pull us away from online interactions. I have to say this as someone with chronic pain though: there is no reason to feel guilty for what you simply don’t have the spoons to do. Here’s my rubric: When you can do better, do better. When you know better, do better. I think that is the best any of us can do. Guilt is appropriate when you have done something wrong, but then I think even there it should act as a spur toward reparative action. It’s something we should learn from, not carry (though that’s easier said than done). It’s something that spurs me to deep, deep consideration.

      You wrote, “ Additionally, sometimes the fears people have may not land where you think. I was definitely afraid to speak up to you. I did it anyway because I felt it was the right thing to do, and because — unlike other times in the past — I was capable of it this time. i was trying to serve my Gods and my community, insofar as I could, and I believe I failed, which I regret and am ashamed of, but it was not an easy thing to do.”

      I’m really glad you spoke up. You didn’t fail and you have nothing to regret. I read and considered your comment and while I may not agree with everything, you were bringing an important perspective into the conversation, and I did go away and consider everything you wrote and my own harshness in the original post.

      You wrote, “ But I don’t believe Beckett was attacking Galina, or Heathens, or even polytheists in general. And I believe that regardless of who we are, it is important to be accountable.”

      I should have titled the piece differently and shifted the tone because I don’t care about Beckett one way or the other. He wasn’t really the point of the whole thing, but rather a larger trend that I think is damaging to our traditions of which he is but one small part. My tone was obnoxious and I should have stayed focused on the issue rather than the person.

      You wrote, “I think your comment about people who proclaim themselves devotional polytheists goes down a dangerous road for many reasons, not all of which I’m sure I can articulate. There’s the implication that people who are busy or sick are not doing enough. It also seems like you might be assuming that people who are not front and center in our religions have not done anything, which is not always the case. Additionally, some people do not serve the community, and that does not mean they are not devotional polytheists.”

      I have severe chronic pain and a migraine condition so I am often sick. In no way did I intend anything that I wrote to come off as criticizing those who have to scale back due to illness. We do what we can do. My attitude there was more a response to something very, very ugly that I’ve encountered again and again in our communities, this idea that we shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced in any way by our devotion. (I remember, for instance, a few years ago arguing about offerings with someone who considered it too much to be expected to give a spoon of water to their Gods. Like, come on: this is not about us. We need to step up and do more consistently but what “more” is varies from person to person, day to day. If the Gods are our central priority, then even when we’re exhausted or sick, our polytheism is unfolding in our lives). Also, that was not meant to exclude laity, who are every bit as crucial as religious specialists. The two work together in any functioning tradition. I’m not laity though and there is perhaps an unconscious focus on specialists, because they should be leaders in this restoration and I find so many of us missing the mark … and not due to externals, but rather to pissy in-fighting, backbiting and bullshit. Those aren’t good reasons to miss the mark ever. I’ll give you an example:

      The first time, more than twenty years ago, that I was seriously slandered in the community, it was by someone (I won’t mention names because this was long ago, and nothing productive would be gained here) who was jealous and who also wanted to curry favor with others in the Troth and advance her own position (something I could not have given a rat’s ass about then or now). I had given, at her request, a workshop on runes and galdr to several of her kindred. There was galdr, divination, and at one point a Deity possession wherein the Deity in question prophesied for people. It went very well and the group learned what they wanted to learn that day. They treated me well and made sure I had good aftercare from the possession, and I left thinking it was a good day’s work. (I did not charge for the workshop I offered. I did this as a courtesy and thought nothing more of it) This person got jealous that frankly I was better at galdr than she was. I never said this, mind you, but her people apparently praised my work and it offended her so she started shitty rumors. Later one of the others there joined in. I don’t understand that. Her areas of expertise were different than mine. Would it have been so hard to be respectful of each other? I had someone else complain my competence made them feel small. What do you say to that? It’s not like I’m going to suddenly embrace incompetence. I don’t understand. I would help someone I despised if they needed it for the work they were doing for their Gods. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s not about us and yet all I see is a community determined to elevate our oh-so-fragile egos instead of the Gods and it infuriates me. It evokes my disgust. I want people to be the very best they can be for their Gods. When I see someone better than I am at something, I think that’s awesome. I might be envious, wishing that I were as skilled, but I’m not jealous. I don’t wish them ill for their skills; and I make sure to let the envy motivate me to work harder and do better in the areas where I am called to work. Very little is personal for me. There’s too much work to do, too far we still have to go for that indulgence.

      You wrote, “We are both polytheists, but we are in different traditions. Probably second most importantly, for all that I deeply appreciate her contributions and respect her accomplishments, if I did offer Galina a hand, I’d be afraid it would get bitten off.”

      This made me smile, though that was probably not your intent. I promise you, I don’t bite. I can be cranky and irritable but I’d not bite for an offer genuinely made. I only bite when I see people harassing baby polytheists who haven’t yet gained confidence and a firm footing, or when I see people shitting on our Gods – now, that I’ll admit. I think I do have a greater tolerance for conflict than a lot of people. It can be incredibly productive—as our Heathen creation story clearly demonstrates– and it doesn’t bother me to wade in.

      You wrote, “I believe that treating people who cannot hear their Gods or feel They are distant in a disparaging manner is also cruel.”

      Yes, I agree with you 110% there. I also think it’s important not to attach merit to the ability to sense/hear the Gods – it doesn’t make us better. It makes us able to take on specific types of sacred work. That work is not better than what a head-blind lay person can accomplish. It’s different and both are necessary.

      I don’t think I have ever disparaged lay people. In fact, I try to go out of my way to be very clear about how important the laity are. (I’m not saying that YOU are saying I disparage them, but I’ve seen this accusation made against me from others so I’m taking this opportunity to address it here). I speak, however, not as a layperson but as a clergy and a specialist, a vitki, a spiritworker, a theologian. Part of what I write is going to be addressed to specialists. That’s the nature of the work I do. It doesn’t mean I don’t value laity. There’s no functional community without devout laity and when I write about devotion, that’s for everyone.

      I think that to some degree, sensitivity toward the presence of the Gods can be developed over time with consistent devotion and certain techniques of meditation but there will always be people who, for whatever reason, cannot sense or hear Them. That’s probably the majority and that’s ok. What a tremendous grace it is to love and honor the Gods, to devote one’s life to Them when one cannot receive the type of feedback inherent in sensing/hearing the Powers. That is raw faith and I think it is a tremendously sacred thing, a grace and blessing. It’s something for which I have enormous respect.

      You wrote, “I believe cursing at, verbally attacking, and misrepresenting what someone said (particularly if the latter is intentional) is uncivilized and unbecoming of those of us who publicly represent polytheism to the world by being public about our religion (and yes, that includes me). I believe that anyone can make errors or mistakes and do things wrong. I believe accountability is important.”

      Cussing doesn’t bother me. I reign it in a lot and there are a couple of curse words I won’t say, but it’s not something that’s ever bothered me much. I like colorful speech. I don’t like ad hominems, even though I occasionally fail and go there myself. I think that’s poor argumentation. I will say that I think we need to be engaging with ideas even if it gets heated. Arguing is not a bad thing. This is the way theology develops and coheres: we discuss and argue and it gets heated and it’s messy. So that doesn’t bother me. That is the very heart of civilization: arguing about stuff and then improving based on the results! I think though that we should be directing that argumentation toward ideas and I try to hold to that up to the point that someone becomes blatantly impious and steps into the polytheistic sandbox and then I’m calling them out. (ex. Someone was telling me recently about an atheist godhi. That is disgusting, impious, and a complete violation of ritual space and possibly blasphemous. You better believe I would call that out and the person – who has to know better—out). If we are afraid of offending we will accomplish nothing. Integrity and spiritual cleanliness are important and I think it’s much, much more important to build on clean ground, to drive out pollution, to tend to pious concerns than it is to be agreeable. I’m sure there are those who can do all that, while being agreeable but I’m not one of them and I don’t really expect it of many of my interlocutors. What I do expect is that we’ll be keeping the Gods and our traditions at the center of our discourse.

      You wrote, “Now, I am going to have to remove myself from this conversation. It has taken up a tremendous amount of my mental and emotional bandwidth since it began, and it has taken me more than one day to craft this reply.”

      I thank you again for taking the time to post. Be well and stay healthy.

      Liked by 2 people

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