The Way We Speak

I’ve been sitting on this for a while. Around the autumnal equinox, I started to see gross postings in various places (tumblr, facebook, twitter, etc.) mostly about Persephone and Hades, putting in crude terms Her cyclical return to the Underworld. I don’t have cultus to either of those Deities but nonetheless, reading the trashy memes and comments really disturbed me. I think it says something about the paucity of our culture that we so blithely speak not just of sacred things, but of Holy Powers and Their mysteries with such casual disrespect (and I don’t think this is just a polytheistic problem either). Nor am I condemning all memes -– I’ve seen some that are lovely and some that are humorous without crossing the line into disrespect. I think that’s fine. I think that’s healthy and it’s really wonderful to see art and cartoons and prayers and imaginative renderings of our Gods. This is the way we develop iconography and build religious cultus and culture. It’s a good thing. It can be done without disrespect though. In fact, it can and should come from a place of love, adoration, and deep, deep devotion to the Holy Powers. That devotion is the core of every healthy tradition. 

Of course, there are some (usually Hellenics but occasionally Heathens will chime in too) who will argue that Homer wrote stories that presented the Gods in less than salutatory manner. Yeah, whoever (and it may be more than one author—but we’ll stick with “Homer” for convenience here) actually put together the Iliad and the Odyssey and other Homeric works did, but A) this corpus was criticized for that very potentially impious presentation by later philosophers; and B) there are also beautiful and deeply pious prayers and hymns within the Homeric corpus. I rarely see that latter coming from the same people who post garbage about the Gods. Often, I want to shake these individuals, and just flat out ask, “if you feel so deeply disgusted with our traditions, traditions you too claim to practice, if you want to erase all mystery and actual cultus, if you hate our Gods so very much why are you here?” I’d be very interested in the answer. When your entire blog or online world is devoted to tearing down and spitting on our traditions and the Holy Powers from which we received those traditions, why are you here? 

To put it bluntly, we should speak of our Gods with respect. That shouldn’t be a difficult or contentious thing. These are GODS. These are our Holy Powers. These are the Bestowers of mystery, the Givers of blessings, the Immortal Ones Whose will, and kindness crafted the worlds. These are the Powers from which our souls proceed and to which we will one day return. These are the Good and Gracious Gods from which all our blessings flow. When we speak of Them or render Them into art, we can do so with love and respect. If we have no respect for sacred things and for our Holy Powers and Their Mysteries, I ask again: WHY are we here?  

(I completely agree with the comment to this video that says, “This dude should mobilize and bring his healing slaps to the general public.” LOL. Please come to contemporary polytheisms. Please. We need those healing slaps. A lot of them. Repeatedly and with alacrity. Slap the hubris out of us. A-fucking-men). 

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 21, 2021, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. One of the biggest defenses these people use is “If we can’t laugh at ourselves then we are just as wrong as the Christians”. But what they fail to understand is that these jokes aren’t us laughing at ourselves. They’re usually based on the ideas that Christians have of us and our Gods. Jokes that were accompanied by vandalism, theft, rape, torture, slavery, genocide, and cultural erasure. These kinds of jokes came from our abusers and continuing them is either Stockholm Syndrome or an admittance that the vast majority of so-called pagans really just want to abuse our religion by using it as a way to be quasi-spiritual without having to actually challenge their preconceived modern notions. They like our Gods because to them the Gods are another wacky cast of characters to use to promote the latest woke political idea or the latest gender expression they want to say they are. These people are trying to canonize our Gods as saints in the creed of Tumblrism.

    I despise most Pagans and Polytheists that are my age. They’re either too loosey goosey with everything or they’re too caught up in academia. There’s very little life in them. People can say what they want about you and Sannion and PSVL and the rest but you guys have it figured out for the most part. It’s like I told Sannion once. There’s just something different about what he writes that you just don’t see in other people’s stuff. Same thing with you, Galina. You care and it shows. There’s a certain feeling I get from you guys that I don’t get from anyone else on this topic. That’s why I’ll always be disgusted by the people who slander you guys. It shows how doomed the community really is that it is willing to throw out its best people. I bet these people would gladly try to cancel Socrates if they were there at his trial.

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  2. I haven’t seen the memes in question (this is one of the many reasons I stay away from social media – spares me from a lot of this kind of miasma), but I’m going to guess that they’re just another manifestation of the tendency in modern pagans to treat the gods as if they were characters from their favorite tv show. So instead of holy myths, you get fanfiction. Instead of perhaps some witty but respectful humor involving the gods, you get gross memes.

    When it comes down to it, I don’t know that most of these folks really *believe* in the gods, or have any conception of what it means for something or someone to be sacred. They seem to mostly imagine (key word here – not encounter or even comprehend) the gods as merely extra special – and usually extra sexy (sigh) – people. But basically just people. With the faces of famous actors, often enough. Not so much a religion as an elaborate RPG with no more significance to their lives than any other game they are currently into. I guess the upside to this is that, in the long run, they will move on to something else. I just hope that those truly seeking a sacred experience will not be turned off of modern polytheism entirely by encountering such garbage online.

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  3. Beautifully and so painfully and truthfully stated both of you. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Modern Paganism is infested with people who are essentially larping. They don’t believe in the Gods, they just want to call themselves pagan and occasionally do something that smells a bit like religion without any of the responsibility or obligations that come with practicing actual religion. They’re here because they want to pretend to be religious because it’s fun to them. When they realize this isn’t a game to some of us they become offended, angry, and frightened. In their mind, it’s the people who are “ruining the game” who are at fault, not them.

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    • You know what I think we should do? A public sacrifice. Something big too. These people need to be shown that we’re so serious we’ll even offer life itself. We should draw a blood-red line in the sand and shake the pagan community to its core in order to force them to pick a side: you’re either with the Gods and with challenging modernity or you aren’t. We need something so big and eye-catching that no one will have any excuse but to show their true colors. It needs to be like we dropped the H-bomb on them.

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      • Sacrifice is our greatest sacrament. Under no circumstances do I think it should ever be exposed to profane eyes. We’re not practicing our religion to catch anyone’s eye. we’re doing it because it is the correct way to live and because the Gods are our Gods. Sacrifice should never, ever be profaned. I get the impulse to shock fools into sense but that’s not thew ay to do it.

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  5. I would add that if any of those people even once experienced a teeny tiny bit, a glimpse or a feeling of a God or Goddess – they would shut up forever… but, I guess, you have to WANT to be open to that or – to actually believe.

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    • One would hope, but some people are just so stupid … it would make things worse. I’m afraid it would turn into something like “well, *insert deity of choice* showed up in my house, so now I’m pretty special to them and I can do as I please without consequence.”

      I’ve been on this earth 49 years. In all that time, I have had one and only one actual experience with Deity. I got a very clear look at my Patron for somewhere around 6-8 steps on the hiking trail. Deities do not show themselves for “fun.” They do it when no other choice is left (when nothing else will work to impart whatever lesson needs learned).

      I am not perfect. I have done things maybe I shouldn’t have. I have also atoned for those things, trust me. But I would never, ever poke fun at any God/Goddess. Sure, some might ignore you. But I guarantee that some will not.

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  6. Marcus, I don’t know but I don’t think that’s where we should focus. they are fools. our focus should be on venerating our Gods and building cultus…the things that truly matter.

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    • In all honestly, I think just ignoring them is the best way, in my meager opinion. You cannot reason with people like that; they’re going to do as they want, and the hell with anyone who has opposing views to them. I tried reasoning with someone who was part of a group with me – they had done something incredibly dangerous in ritual and didn’t see it as wrong. When I explained – nicely, I might add, I’m not always known for that – why it was wrong … yeah, it didn’t go well. But, last I heard, they lost their job, their home, their vehicle, etc. And they wonder why …

      Let them find out the hard way that it’s not a good thing to insult the Gods/Goddesses. As I was saying to Sigynsmaid above, some might just ignore it, but there are some who won’t. Do you really want to piss off someone like, say, Seth or Odin? Loki, even? Sekhmet? Lilith? I don’t think it would be wise, not at all.

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  7. Yeah, it’s not even a fine line but a big bright bold one between taking a humorous or lighthearted line from time to time with the Gods, and mocking and disparaging them. I can roll my eyes and move on when it’s not coming from polytheists or even pagans, but I don’t get smearing the Powers you supposedly worship.

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  8. I really can’t add much. I do know that modern people regard sacred myths as stupid stories and not what they are – sacred. Telling us about what is eternal. I believe that one way to help the cultus of our Gods is to read the myths and seek their truths.

    What is the truth and sacredness of Hades and Persephone? Meditating on the myth will bring forth the holiness of the Gods.

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  9. People are viewing religion thru secular eyes (including from non-polytheist scholars) because most of them have grown up in a completely secular world. I have to remind myself that many people younger than me (I’m 39, on the cusp of Gen X & Millennial) in the U.S. had no religious upbringing, or like me they had one that was fairly compartmentalized from the rest of their lives. I didn’t see true piety when I first came into paganism, and it was for the most part something I associated with hypocrisy. We have more examples of how not to be religious than how to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • it’s sadly so true. I am consistently appalled at how many kids are being raised without religion these days. I’d rather have converts from pretty much any religion out there than those raised with nothing. they really struggle.

      Liked by 1 person

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