Every Elder is a World

Our elders are the backbone of our traditions. Without elders, there is no tradition and certainly no clean, sustainable transmission of our traditions. There’s a trend now, largely from the Pagan left (no surprise there) to dismiss, erase, eradicate the contributions of our traditions’ elders, all the while reaping the benefits of the learning, traditions, and Mysteries those elders carry. People who spent and spend their lives pouring themselves out for their Gods are being excoriated and slowly pushed out of their traditions by those with little learning, less sense, and no humility at all. It’s really rather disgusting. It’s not surprising – I’ve seen the attitude before—but it is disgusting. 

It also betrays a deeply flawed understanding of what tradition and lineage are and why they’re important. It speaks to modern discomfort with hierarchy and authority. It speaks to the quality of person modern Paganisms way too often draw, but it also speaks to a dearth of competent elders in some cases. An elder, however, can be “troublesome” without being wrong. A good elder knows better than to allow him or herself to move with the wind. Rather an elder stands strong and committed to service to the Holy Powers and Their traditions. 

Should we have elders, prophets, diviners, etc.? Well that’s really up to the Gods isn’t it? And the Gods have, from time immemorial resounded with a clear and present YES. (This is particularly true in the case of prophets – the community has zero part to play in making a prophet. That is something the Gods alone do). 

I am grateful to the elders in my world, living and dead. I am grateful for the doors they’ve opened, for their struggles, their hard work, their sacrifices. 


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 February 17, 2021, in community, Interfaith, Lived Polytheism, Polytheism, theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. First time commenter here (longtime lurker though); I practice a blend of Philosophical Hellenism and Celtic polytheism.

    I have to say first that I love your blog, your work, and your sane and moderate approach to practicing polytheism in this decidedly not-sane time period.

    “It also betrays a deeply flawed understanding of what tradition and lineage are and why they’re important. It speaks to modern discomfort with hierarchy and authority.”

    I think this is the takeaway concept here. It seems that so many people in this era who are attracted to ‘paganism’ flock to it because of the perceived ‘lack-of-hierarchy’ bit. Or more specifically, the erroneous idea they have in their heads that pre-Christian religions were somehow anti-hierarchical. In reality they’re just shopping around for a ‘religion’ they believe to be the opposite of the (likely) Christian environment they were raised in, or some other type of hyper-structured (and possibly dogma-based) upbringing that left a bad lasting impression on them.

    Of course the idea that pre-Christian folk religions lacked hierarchy is a totally ahistoric view, and quite ridiculous to those of us who have actually done the relevant homework on this. I often quip the actual worldview of the leftist neopagans (and obnoxious leftist recons that I also class as neopagans) who like to make this claim is actually much closer to that of the Protestant Christians they’re under the impression they are running away from (not quite!!), than anything resembling an ancient culture where honoring the gods was the norm.

    The second major thing that might give them the impression of non-hierarchy, is that, in practice modern polytheistic movements are actually not very hierarchical owing to the fact that the movement as a whole is so small, niche (compared to the big popular religions) and geographically scattered all over the place; and to boot, it’s subdivided into many different sub-movements based on differing folk traditions. Such small numbers means the lack of resources to establish and sustain brick-and-mortar polytheist religious institutions, which seems to make it appear as there are real clerical hierarchies (though this isn’t really true once we scratch beneath the surface).

    This is why pagan/polytheist spaces seem to be so chock full of Leftists/Marxists wearing ‘pagan’ skinsuits. The broader movement seems to attract mostly the wrong type of people, as opposed to genuine seekers and devotees seriously interested in honor the gods, and placing the honoring of the gods above whatever petty contemporary secular political ideology-of-the-week happens to be favored at any given moment. Organizations without clear leadership, a strict vetting process for leadership positions, and a clearly-defined, tradition-faithful knowledge base that can’t be quickly rewritten or memory-holed on a whim, are super-easy for entryists to subvert and pervert. The entryists easily use their tried-and-true emotional bullying and gaslighting tactics to strongarm the typically-easygoing founder of the original group to bend to their will and let them hijack the group.

    Finding polytheists who are serious and put religion over politics these days seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack. First I found John Michael Greer and his work and community, and next I found you. I find this alone to have been a gods-send, figuratively of course. Every other ‘pagan’/polytheist space seems subverted by leftists (and to a statistically much lesser extent, racist ‘folkist’ neopagans) and not worth participating in.

    Sorry this was such a long-winded rant of an introductory comment. I hope to drop by more in the future.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I remember I spoke to you and Sannion on the last night of your podcast that I called you both Elders. Even though I am older age-wise, I respect both of you as Elders because you both have tons more experience and wisdom than I do or ever hope to gain in this lifecycle. You both have taught me much though your books and blogs and for that I am very grateful! THANK YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also think it doesn’t help when you have all these conflicting personalities, and some of them would rather tear someone down they don’t share a common view with, instead of trying to just focus on the gods and try to build the tradition and the connection to divinity up.

    I always remember how in Tacitus, that when Nerthus was on procession, where she traveled everyone pretty much everyone stopped what they were doing to focus on her, and that the sacred space of her visit superseded any rivalries. “There are days of rejoicing then and the countryside celebrates the festival, wherever she designs to visit and to accept hospitality. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms, all objects of iron are locked away, then and only then do they experience peace and quiet, only then do they prize them, until the goddess has had her fill of human society and the priest brings her back to her temple.”

    it’s hard to rebuild a broken tradition, especially when we’re plagued with all the people coming in who know nothing, immediately acting as if they are experts and trying to steer things to what they want. They don’t want connection, they want a designer, bespoke pseudo religion tailored to what caters to their own ego.

    Part of me aches so for the Native American community, and the elders they’re hemorrhaging right name from the pandemic. 😦 In some cases the last who spoke fluently their mother tongue. 😦 It’s not just our community elders, but there seems to be such a widespread tearing down of elders.


  4. What I noticed is as the religion drifts leftwards, it goes into “woke” or Marxist territory. One thing that people today of that persuasion talk about is resetting history to day one, year one. Perhaps purging elders is a part of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • of course it is and shame on us if we let our religion “drift leftwards.”. There is nothing compatible between any religious perspective and leftist garbage. we need to drive that crap out. sooner rather than later.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Without our elders, we wouldn’t have our traditions & old held beliefs in our Deities. I can’t understand using politics in our religious practices, or devalue them. Count yourself lucky if you had a spiritual elder/mentor who was learned by many years of religious studies & practices. There aren’t as many as they used to be.


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