Category Archives: Misc.
Rebuttal to a Very Sad Piece
A friend sent me this article today. I read through it once and then again and knew I had to respond. There is so much wrong here, so much that could have been handled with a little decent pastoral care, but also a little cultivation of piety. In fact, the first thing I thought upon reading this, was why was a supposedly Pagan site publishing it. We really shouldn’t be advocating for people leaving the various traditions that might fall under that umbrella. It would be nice, instead, to see posts encouraging newcomers and providing guidance for those who may be struggling. We do not proselytize – across the board that seems to be a commonality between Pagans and Polytheists, the result of having our traditions destroyed via forced conversion generations ago. Still, once someone comes into our house, so to speak, it’s only right to provide proper hospitality and that sadly, seems to have been lacking here. I may come back to this, but there are a few other points I’d like to touch on first.
I will say this though before going further, I think this piece highlights more than anything that I’ve read recently the practical difference between Polytheists and Pagans. Should the terms be synonymous? Yes. Are they? Not by a long shot. I think it would have been much, much easier for this person had he been working within an established tradition, other that Wicca, which is pretty much do as you please.
Taking this from the opening paragraph, the author mentions roadblocks as though they only occur when one is meant to leave one’s “path” (1). This simply isn’t the case. No matter how deeply entrenched one is in one’s religion, “roadblocks” occur. That’s a normal part of any faith and working at them, struggling, holding the course or overcoming those blocks is one of the things that makes one’s faith stronger in the long run. It’s part of spiritual sustainability, a necessary part. Nothing true and worth having is without difficulty. One can absolutely be devoted to one’s Gods and working within a nourishing tradition and still encounter “roadblocks.” In fact, it’s often a sign that something is amiss, that one is too complacent if one isn’t occasionally struggling.
I also want to point out sooner rather than later, that in this article (2) there is no mention of any devotion to the Gods, spirits, or Holy Powers of any sort (3). Conversion is a different experience when one is running to a Deity or Deities that one loves. Note, that does not necessarily mean that there is ekstasis or any mystical experience happening. It can and should be enough to simply love the Gods for what They are, that They are (4).
The author mentions conflict over “societal norms” that “came into play from Christian parents.” Man the fuck up. This is inevitable when one converts. Hell, it’s inevitable when you’re a fucking adult. Show a little moral courage. (Even in Christianity, the whole point of growing up is that you start your own family, move away, and live an adult life. See Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31). This is a matter of personal integrity and character and if one is devoted not just to a tradition but to the Gods Themselves, then what does the opprobrium of family and friends matter? We don’t, after all, honor the Gods to virtue signal or get the pats on the head. We honor Them because it is the right thing to do. This goes back to what I have often complained about in our contemporary culture: the lack of character, morality, and virtue formation in young people. There are consequences for every choice we make. Maybe you will become alienated from your family and that is a sad and difficult thing, but are you behaving correctly with your Gods? Quite frankly, anyone who would put you in that position needs to take a hike. Why would their opinion even matter?
The author mentions having a “mind heavily influenced by the sciences that could not comfortably move forward without help.” This seems to be setting up an equation where science and religion are in opposition. That has never been the case in the polytheistic world. We invented many of those sciences after all. This is a false dichotomy and really, betrays a lack of personal and internal work – which is not all on the author. There IS a lack across our traditions of competent pastoral care. Converts do need help. It’s not a one and done experience but an ongoing and often difficult and painful process. I feel very badly for this guy that he lacked any competent help. He’s also right about the shallowness in so many branches of the community. I think if we focused more devotion and faith and less on acting like a badly dressed, downwardly mobile social club maybe this latter problem would repair itself (5). I may disagree with some of what he writes and his reasons for leaving his faith but I appreciate him writing about this openly because it really draws attention to the deficits in our communities.
I don’t understand approaching a religion with the idea that one will see if it’s a good fit or not, as the author mentions considering, nor relying on social media for one’s spiritual enlightenment. Where are the Gods in this? And if one doesn’t have any interest in or devotion to the Gods of the tradition one is following, then why practice any religion? Part of this really does come down to commitment to one’s practice, and that’s a choice each devotee makes every day again and again. No religious tradition is going to immediately answer every single life question one has. That’s not its purpose. The purpose of religion is to manage the protocols of relationship with the divine. It does not absolve us of wrestling with the hard philosophical questions.
The author opines that it is best to seek out knowledge from “individuals who have put in the effort to establish a level of scholarship.” Yes, provided you’re not expecting them to do the work for you. Go to your clergy, your spirit workers, your mystics, the devotee with a particularly potent practice. Learn from them. Go to your scholars in like fashion. Just understand that, as I noted in a previous article, all the learning and lore in the world isn’t going to make up for a lack of perseverance and piety. There is, after all, academic knowledge and gnosis and one does not take the place of the other. Nor should we prioritize scholarship. Some of the smartest, most devout people are just regular people. They love the Gods and have put in decades venerating Them. There’s no academic degree but a remarkable level of piety and frankly, I’d take that person over someone like Dr. Mary Beard who is going to shit all over our religions as she has done in the past. Again, this comes down to values. What do you value? What do you prioritize? Are the Gods even on that list? You can study until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not backing that up with ongoing, consistent devotional practice you will achieve nothing.
The author suggests asking “has this path served its purpose?” What is the purpose other than to bring us closer to the Gods, that we may serve more fully and well as Their devoted retainers? Other goals require other criteria but aren’t really part of a religious tradition. I would ask instead, “Have I done all that I can? Is this where my Gods wish me to be?” but that requires a different set of priorities, one that doesn’t put us and our sense of entitlement at the center of our cognitive world.
Moreover, the author notes that our communities have “leaders, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and so on.” I don’t see him mentioning clergy there, or spirit workers, or devoted laity. This speaks to a particular set of values out of alignment I suspect, with any religious tradition. Maybe the problem is that he went to the wrong people for help. Your average lawyer doesn’t owe you anything and your average teacher is tired and underpaid (I’m guessing there was never any question of exchange of services when he bombarded folks with his existential issues). I’d also add that if you demonstrate lack of commitment and devotion, no elder or teacher worth their salt is going to open the doors to Mystery for you. First, you have to deepen yourself, persevere, and make yourself capable of receiving those Mysteries. It’s not a self-help class or a quick fix to making friends and influencing people. The growth does have to start with each individual but the purpose of that growth is to better reach the Gods, a goal I see lacking in the original article. There are no quick answers worth having.
There has been plenty of material written on devotion and how to deal with some of the problems that arise in centering oneself in one’s tradition. Research is exhausting. That is one statement in the article with which I’ll agree but if something really matters, you stay the course. Better yet, balance that research with devotional practices. When someone comes to me asking to join my House, I don’t start them with a ton of academic research. I start them with shrine work, with learning how to pray, with meditation, and making small offerings. The problem with clinging to “modernity” as an identifier (the author says, “Modern Paganism is simply that, modern.”) is that it all but ensures that devotion and piety will be expunged. The modern worldview is part of the problem. The more time one spends cultivating devotion, the more one realizes that modernity is a cesspit and our spiritual goals would be better served by returning to a way of engaging with the world that is far more organic and rooted in an awareness of the divine and our place in relation to it.
The author talks so fervently about leaving Paganism, determining a course of action, creating goals, seeing them through. It might have been more productive had he approached his faith with that same attitude. While the author occasionally mentions “faith,” throughout the article I kept finding myself asking “faith in Whom? In What?” He writes about religion as though it is all about his own “personal growth and knowledge.” That is indeed, a very modern and very self-absorbed lens through which to approach any tradition. I would say the problem isn’t the tradition, it’s that there was no one in his community to help guide him out of this destructive attitude and into an awareness that it is our privilege to venerate the Gods and doing so elevates us as human beings.
Faith, real faith is never “blind” as this author asserts. He seems to want everything laid out for him without contradiction or difficulty. Everyone who takes it seriously struggles with faith and that’s ok. That’s actually necessary. But here we get to the crux of the author’s issues: he reduces “Modern Paganism” to “blind faith in astrology, divination, spells, deities, and magick” (sic). A) I have faith in actually knowing how to spell magic, B) astrology, divination, spells, and magic are all specialties that the lay person has no reason to engage in; moreover, they require training to do well and they’re not devotion; and C). real faith in the Gods isn’t blind. It’s an ever-evolving relationship. Like any relationship, you have to put in the work. Maybe focus less on fumbling spells and more on prayer. Maybe put the books away and sit before your shrine contemplating the Gods. Where your faith is weak, ask Their help in making it stronger. Faith is never blind. It’s a commitment, a light in the darkness, the central core around which one’s life revolves. You know what it isn’t, ever? Easy.
I’m going to stop here. I feel badly for this guy.
- I detest the term “path.” You’re either practicing a tradition or you’re not. It’s not a “path”, it’s a tradition. The difference is between witless meandering and nurturing a container of the holy.
- This is the only piece that I’ve read from this person, so I don’t know if he mentions these things in previous articles. My friend, who read through several pieces said no, and I’ll accept his hearsay in this instance.
- This is perhaps THE major factor in whether one chooses to call oneself a Polytheist or Pagan—do the Gods actually matter to you?
- I again refer readers to Dver’s marvelous piece here.
- A lot of times those who don’t have a very strong devotional practice feel that they don’t have space in the religion – well, reaching out to newcomers and helping them to get oriented, networking, and making sure that folks know to whom to reach out to if there are spiritual issues, well, this is the type of social stuff that those less interested in devotion could be doing. It’s important work and those folks should also be given the resources to help newbies. Some of this clergy need to be handling or at least overseeing but the day to day can easily be done by lay people. This would actually build community in a sustainable way. Look at pretty much any Christian tradition: they have hospitality committees for Gods’ sake. They don’t expect their specialists to be doing all of that AND liturgical stuff on top of it too. We need to adjust our value system, so that we value the work of prayer, devotion, liturgy, spirit work, but also so that we equally value lay people and hospitality. Everyone has something he or she can contribute.
A Massachussetts School Bans the “Odyssey”
The woke brigade strikes again. To preserve their precious feelings and further indoctrinate children with their utter lack of values and virtue, a group #distrupttexts has successfully gotten one of the cornerstones of Western literature banned from a school in MA. Read the full story here.
I read an article earlier about this and “teachers” were proud of this ban. Personally, it would be better if they closed the school, and any teacher that advocates for banning books isn’t fit to teach. They’re so eager to virtue signal their “wokeness” *gags* that they are denying this generation’s children a proper education. Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” are core texts for understanding pretty much all of the literature that came after it. I suppose these woke “teachers” don’t want to have to be bothered to explain different values and customs or, you know, do their jobs and teach.
I suppose stories about heroism, cleverness, virtue, and fidelity (especially in women) are difficult to teach when the people teaching it have none of those qualities. Those pushing this ban referred to the “Odyssey” as “trash.” I have yet to see their accomplishments, other than denying the children placed in their care a proper education.
Personally, if you haven’t read the “Odyssey” and the “Iliad” by the time you graduate high school, you’re not ready for college. I only lament that high schoolers aren’t reading them in the original Greek these days.
The only way these days to guarantee that your children are getting a decent education, one that will render them thinking, literate, historically aware adults is to homeschool. This trend toward banning the best books of world literature, of classic literature is a perfect example of where public education is going. Object to this, parents. Object strongly and never, ever apologize for challenging this censorship. Your children deserve at least that.
Movie Monday: What a Mess (the Craft:Legacy)
So, we watched “The Craft: Legacy” the other night. What a piece of unmitigated garbage. I love the first movie (despite a rather milk-toast main character); it was edgy and dangerous and showed real “sisterhood.” There was a (thankfully fictional, given the story line) Deity figure mentioned (Manon), and it showed the danger of receiving too much power too soon. It also really captured what the neo-pagan and occult communities were like at the tail end of the nineties. This one…well, let’s start with what I liked.
The performance of the main character was excellent and I liked the reveal about her parentage at the end of the movie. There was also a bi male character, which one rarely sees in movies. That was about it. Even the score was crap.
What I disliked: the characters parroted social justice slogans, you know, in place of actual personality, ethics, or soul. I expected a bit of it, but the whole movie was suffused with this nonsense. In the original, there was character development, and the scars and trauma of the girls was shown on screen. In this new movie, it was just slogans. (For instance, one of the girls was trans. Ok. That could be really interesting, but we don’t actually see any of her experience or struggles or personality or journey. It’s just a label to check off). The girls’ sisterhood also goes out the window the moment one of them demonstrates true power, betraying exactly the lack of critical thinking and reasoning skills I’ve come to expect from the left. Masculinity throughout the movie is portrayed as toxic (unless it’s utterly spineless, then it’s “woke”), the rituals are pathetic, and none of the girls are shown actually able to focus enough to work anything, and what could have been a fascinating continuation turned into a poorly written mess. One could have written this well, still with the leftist principles. That’s not what happened though, and it’s a shame, because the actresses were quite good despite being given personality-less characters to play. The movie did show how brutal and bullying high school can be though, in a much more graphic way than the original, which was well done. (Watching it, I said to my housemate: so many reasons to homeschool. So. Many. Reasons).
I think part of the problem, aside from the woke nonsense which I personally think should have been jettisoned wholesale (it became a caricature of these principles, which shouldn’t have been the intent. If you’re going to introduce that, it has to be done well and the time has to be taken to draw out the complexities and characterizations involved), is writers don’t understand the mindset of a magus or witch (used in the traditional sense not as a gloss for Wicca). It’s about the acquisition of power. Any magician who tells you he or she isn’t interested in power is lying to themselves and to you. There is a certain brutal amorality in the best of them. This isn’t the type of character with which the audience will empathize, especially not if that character is female. I’m reminded of a fiction author I used to like, who wrote one of my favorite vampire series (no, it’s not Anne Rice). She recently betrayed and frankly neutered her main character, rendering him harmless. She said in the epilogue that she was concerned about how popular this character was, because he was essentially a serial killer. Um yes, sweetheart, vampires should not sparkle. You wrote a compelling character drawing on a significant amount of traditional vampire lore. Have some courage and stay the course (Gods save us from cowardice passing as morality). Stories with harsh characters, with complicated villains who are not always bad but certainly not good (and heroes who are not always good either) are important, and they teach us about navigating the complexities of a morally grey world. We don’t need a handful of Mary Sues checking off social justice oppression points (but never actually depicting the struggles, which would have been interesting) on screen or on page.
What disturbed me the most, is this movie is all about conformity with your peer group, not independent thought, not power, certainly not magic. It had very little to do with actual power, with overcoming fear of one’s power, with growing into power as a female or male, and even less to do with the much-touted ‘sisterhood.’ Skip it, my friends, and re-watch the original.
Yuletide Shopping Guide – A Call for Suggestions
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been historic, and simultaneously the proverbial dumpster fire. But the year is winding down (thank the Gods), and we have the Yuletide only a few short weeks away.
I know artists are particularly struggling this year with the economic repercussions of the pandemic. As much as we crave arts in a time of difficulty, the arts are the first things we cut from our budget–understandably so, when you’re trying to make sure you have a roof over your head and food in your pantry.
I wanted to put together a sort of shopping list filled with an assortment of things: such as polytheistic themed materials that DIYers could use to make their own projects, items (jewelry, accessories, religious items, music, books, etc.) that would be appreciated in polytheistic households, or just items and works created by members of the polytheistic community (whether their work is religious or not).
I’ll be curating the list, but I wanted to give all of you a chance to tell me about stuff you’ve found, or made, or know of too. Drop me a line. The goal, is for those who can afford it to try to either help an artisan member of the community, or feed the devotion of members in our community.
I want to get the first post out next week, for base materials and resources than can help the DIY’ers. So they have time to not only order materials, but then to make their creation in time for the solstice.
One Last Harvest for the Season
This morning we put our vegetable garden to sleep. We gathered what I think is likely to be our last harvest this season (I still have a few onions not quite ready to be picked). We have our greenhouse up and running so hopefully we’ll have tomatoes, peppers, culinary herbs, and greens through the winter, but even so, for the first year we did this, our garden produced an amazing amount of produce. I am grateful to all the Gods of the land and harvest. (We even got a small handful of perfect figs from our trees, which I placed in offering on Ceres’ shrine as a gift of first fruits).
Stop This Ride, I Want to Get Off!!!
One of the many things that tridentantifa – btw, thanks, guys, for all the traffic to my site. It really helps get my work out there — complains about in my work is my support of dowries and marriage contracts. Since I’ve already written about the importance of a dowry and/or a trousseau elsewhere (1), this article is going to tackle, very much in brief, marriage contracts. It came up today in a conversation within my household after we saw an interview in which the subject of a pre-nup arose.
There is so little available beyond 101 material that discusses how to build a functioning, sustainable community (2). The key building block of a community is the household, which ideally in a traditional community begins with the married couple (3). A marriage contract is a legally binding document, signed by all parties prior to the actual marriage, that protects the interest of each party in the event of death or divorce. It goes beyond the boundaries of a pre-nup, which usually only deals with distribution of assets between spouses in the event of a break-up, and versions of the marriage contract date back at least to the early medieval (if not farther back, because really, these things varied considerably country to country, culture to culture, class to class). One thing that it emphasizes is that marriage is not just about the individuals, but is a matter of, at its best, uniting households and families. It ensures that both parties and their assets are protected, but also extends that protection to any children too.
Now, when I got married, my husband insisted adamantly on having a pre-nup – not for his benefit, but for my own. He never wanted it to be said, as a certain nithling in the community has hinted, that he married me solely for his own material gain (4). Our marriage contract almost made his lawyer cry, because Sannion was insistent that in the event we divorce, he leave with only the goods with which he had entered our marriage and nothing more. Despite the existential pain this caused his attorney, he got his way but had we intended to have children, it would have been far more complicated. A good marriage contract carefully lays out in legally binding terms the following:
* The property, wealth, and assets with which each partner enters the marriage
* who gets what in the event of a divorce
* each partner’s will and testament (I suggest updating these every five years)
* each partner’s health care proxy and instructions in the event this is needed (do you want a DNR, do you want all life saving measures, etc.)
* who gets custody of any future children in the event of the parents’ death, and how do you want those children raised (i.e. polytheist)
* in the event of death, how are one’s assets to be divided vis-à-vis the children?
* what financial arrangements are you both making for any children’s future education, etc.?
* wergild in the event of adultery (and the right to pursue but not the obligation to do so).
Now, looking at this, you’ll see it combines a marriage contract with end of life issues, and some of the latter will be necessarily updated in an ongoing fashion. I think that the contract should partly be worked out by the couple themselves – when they are in love and want the best for each other, not later when there may be disagreements – but each family or representatives thereof should have a strong hand in working out the boundaries too (because when we are in love we are idiots and hopefully elders from one’s family will have one’s own interests at heart more than a love struck fool), and then finally it should be evaluated and witnessed by an objective party – and in the type of community we want to see, that would be a priest, elder, diviner, or some other specialist. I can’t help thinking of ancient Rome where wills and other contracts were maintained in the temple of Vesta.
As an aside, I also think a lot can be said about a person and perhaps about the marriage’s future chance of success by the care one takes in the contract. If one partner is arguing vociferously over taking care of the other partner (or future children) in event of a break up, well, maybe think twice. Also, it can highlight potential points of fracture and discord, giving the couple a chance to discuss these things and start working them out (raising future children, for instance, or how one manages one’s finances. Priorities and values become significantly highlighted during the process of writing a contract like this). Of course, I also think clear provisions should be laid out in the event of a violation of one’s marital vows (adultery) too. Better to do it all before animosity threatens and colors one’s sense of right and wrong, then at the height of justified fury (5).
The important thing to take away here is that the purpose of a marriage contract is fair protection and care of each party, and any children. Each contract is customized to the parties involved. There is no single all-encompassing format. It’s flexible, and each household is able to choose what matters to them. In the event of adultery or other violations of one’s marriage vows, having pre-set penalties may help limit violence and unchecked vindictiveness. One could even include the option to leave in the contract in the event of XYZ. This also ensures that one places a priority on maintaining one’s tradition and clean transmission of that to one’s children.
Please feel free to post questions or comments below.
- Namely, having a trousseau, if not a dowry, helps prepare the young person for eventually setting up a functional household. See my article here.
- My husband pointed out that one notable exception to this is Amber K’s book “Covencraft.” This book is really a must read for anyone who is running a religious group, even if we do disagree with her theology.
- Personally, I think the healthiest households are multi-generational and extended, but each healthy marriage is a further link in the chain of properly transmitted religious tradition and cultural norms.
- Yes, dear, I know who you are, and I’m aware of the foul, untruthful shit that you spew. Having seen your dysfunctional relationships, and the utterly disgusting way you treat your partners, despite touting yourself as some sort of super feminist, I don’t think you have any room to talk. Kindly eat a dick.
- This is, by the way, the ONLY legal document that I think should come into play with a marriage – if one has more than one spouse, work it into the contract (I don’t think polyamory is ideal, but like anything else, it can be done well or poorly, and while there is a standard norm, there are always functional exceptions to that norm). Frankly, I don’t think the government has any right at all to determine how consenting adults structure their households, so long as everyone is consenting and of legal age. Pedophiles should be burned alive. A marriage contract and later a marriage license that, in a perfect community, would be notarized at the appropriate temple are all that should be required.
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Movie Monday: Captain Fantastic
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I waited a long time to watch this movie and I really, really wanted to like it. I thought initially it was about a father homeschooling his children (and to some degree it is) and I very much support homeschooling. These days, I think as polytheists, if it’s at all possible given one’s family circumstances, to do anything other than homeschooling one’s children is unfortunate. Turning children over to public schools is turning them over for indoctrination into a modern, secular culture that is actively hostile to religion, to the development of virtue (in the classical sense), to common sense, not to mention just terrible from an educational perspective.
More and more families of all class, racial, and religious backgrounds are choosing to homeschool – and were well before Covid. I recently learned that the biggest reason people homeschool isn’t actually either of those things (Covid or religion), surprisingly, but rather because of bullying in schools (that, I might add, is rarely dealt with effectively by administrators). There are two main worries I hear constantly about homeschooling, that as an educator myself, I want to put to rest and then I’ll get into the movie. The first is that it’s more difficult for homeschooled children to get into college. That actually is not true at all and I work with several successful Phds who were homeschooled right up to their first year of undergrad. They took the SATs, the GREs and had no problem at all. Statistically, homeschooled children tend to score higher than average on these tests. The second concern is socialization. One does have to take care to provide opportunities for socialization for one’s child when homeschooling but there are homeschooling leagues and afterschool programs, hobbies, and activities (just like with any other regularly schooled child), and like anything else, it takes proper time and care. For those wanting more information, here is a link to the HSLDA, which gives state by state guidelines on homeschooling and requirements. Now, onto the movie.
So, this movie starts with a father and a passel of children (I think six – a lot). For the first half of the movie, I loved 90% of how he was raising them. They learned survival skills, self-reliance, languages, math, science, music, literature all at very high levels (at one point, we learn his kids speak six languages fluently)—his eldest son gets into like half a dozen ivy league colleges. The parents taught them how to hunt, live off the land, fight hand to hand and with weapons, and plan strategically. They lived well away from civilization. They also lived well off the grid and sans social media. There is a wholesomeness to their lifestyle. The father even did a sort of initiation rite into adulthood when the eldest boy killed his first deer (with a knife). At one point, he gifted all his children with weapons. It was beautiful and absolutely how I think children in a proper community should, in part, be raised.
As the movie progresses though, we see the downside. They aren’t as disciplined as they should be and freely argue with their father far more than I find appropriate. They’re being raised without religion, (and in fact, the father at least articulates opinions that are openly hostile to religion,) which I personally consider a step away from abuse. They’re being raised in a way that allows the children to explore Marxism and communism (though at least the father points out that genocide is as likely to happen under communism as under any other system. Historically, we know under communism genocide is even MORE likely). Most concerning of all, they aren’t socialized and we really see that as the movie progresses with the eldest son and especially with the father’s response to learning the son has applied to college. We also see the Buddhist wife’s Christian parents violating her wishes and behaving in ways that would have had me personally sending the one of them to the ICU. This is not an easy film to watch.
I won’t give away too much of the plot. I will say that I was sick, physically sick at the end of the movie because it ends with the father betraying his children by sending them to school. It angered and sickened me. My husband pointed out that it really highlights how necessary it is to have a focused, committed community when raising healthy children, that a single parent can’t do it all him or herself and that once the mother was no longer in the picture, the family’s way of raising the children wasn’t sustainable. I can see that but I disagree. I think the father caved. I think there were plenty of other ways to engage with the world and socialize his children than subjecting them to what is inevitably a subpar education. I don’t think one should compromise on the quality of education for one’s children, and it seemed by the end of the movie that the two youngest weren’t going to receive the type of focused life and survival training of which the eldest four had benefit and it made me nearly vomit. The public-school system in this country is designed to create mediocrity, not nurture excellence. It’s a travesty. The viewer is given a clear comparison of the more or less healthy (minus the points I noted above) way the father is raising his kids versus a typical American middle class upbringing when the six homeschooled children encounter their two soft, “normal” (and poorly educated and shallowly brought up) cousins. The contrast is really quite something to see:
Obviously, I have strong feelings about this movie. It evoked quite a bit of conversation in our home. I will say that the comments on homeschooling made in the movie are not accurate, at least not in the states in which I have lived and I encourage people who are interested to do their own research.
The Lowest Bar Possible
Today my household cancelled its Netflix subscription. They are promoting a French film “Cuties,” apparently, a movie about the dangers of oversexualizing children. The movie isn’t the problem. Netflix, however, chose to promote it in ways that grossly oversexualize children (and by children, I’m talking eleven year olds). When called on this by customers on twitter, email, and elsewhere, they doubled down, refusing to condemn pedophilia, refusing to condemn the hyper-sexualization of children, and saying only that they “respect all religions and cultures.” Bullshit, Netflix. Bullshit. Child abuse isn’t culture.
In addition to the over-sexualization of children, they also advertised this movie as one in which the heroic child “defies her family’s traditions” (not something I find admirable. In this case, it’s clear that Netflix meant defying religious protocols and morality). Maybe they meant the tradition of not prostituting their kids. The movie itself is condemning exactly this type of thing. It’s the story of a young Senegalese girl age eleven who finds something she likes (hip hop) and then sinks further and further into inappropriate, sexualized behavior when she starts getting online attention for this, and pimping herself out on social media. It’s intended to expose the societal dangers inherent in such over-sexualization of kids and inherent in unsupervised social media access. Thanks to Netflix’s marketing strategy the movie is now under fire, and there are calls for boycotts. Don’t boycott the movie. Boycott Netflix.
This type of thing matters. The media we expose ourselves to matters. It conditions our behavior. It slowly shifts our moral center. It influences what we consider appropriate and acceptable even when we don’t realize it. It inures us to things that should be considered, at best, inappropriate.
A friend told me today that in “Pagan” circles, he was routinely called “reactionary” for insisting that where sex was concerned, “consenting” and “adult” were non-negotiable. He recounted an incident on facebook wherein someone posted a meme, showing a disgusted kid staring at a naked guy in a cowboy hat. The overwhelming response from “Pagans?” They didn’t understand why a child shouldn’t be exposed to nudity. “It’s non-sexual after all,” was repeated again and again. What they were really saying, as my friend so eloquently articulated was this: “Why should a ten-year-old be disgusted when I give him an uninvited view of my dick?” Well, right thinking people consider this borderline sexual abuse of a child. THIS right here is precisely the type of degeneracy – there is no other word that I can find that is quite so appropriate as this—that fills so much of the “Pagan” community, and it’s precisely the reason so many Polytheists eschew them.
It’s a really, really low bar, people: don’t fuck children. Apparently, it’s a bit too high for some.
Horror of Horrors LOL
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I love horror movies. When I was small, I’d stay up late on weekends to watch “Tales from the Darkside” and “Friday the 13th: the Series” (omg this was the best. It was a Canadian series, unrelated to the movies of the same name, about a cursed antique shop). My bio-mom hated the entire genre, but my dad was, I realize as an adult, something of a kindred spirit. He didn’t like to watch horror but he was fascinated by cryptids and mysteries of the unexplained and things like that. He had a little collection of books on weird happenings and oddities that he’d pour over quietly. I suppose on that front at least, I come by it honestly. Lol.
I should note, this post has nothing to do with anything spiritual or religious. I just happen to be sitting here watching “In Search of Darkness,” a new (?) documentary about horror movies and it is really very good. It has me thinking about all the horror movies that I’ve watched and enjoyed over the years. I would frankly rather watch a good horror movie than an Oscar winner. Oh, I’ll get around to watching the Oscar winner too probably but I’ll actually enjoy the horror movie and watch it more than once if it’s decent. I think the very first horror movie I ever saw – I was seven—was either “Warlock Moon” (it is soooo bad, a really awful movie with an utterly insipid female lead, but as a very little kid it scared the bejesus out of me) or “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave,” a Christopher Lee movie that was classic Dracula. I was so little that I can’t now remember which I saw first. I watched them both about the same time anyway. Needless to say, these were movies I watched late at night after my parents were asleep. I was always an insomniac even at seven.
Now, I will admit as a spirit worker, I’ll critique horror that has to do with spirits or demons or such. I’ll yell at the tv things like, “it doesn’t work like that!” dissect the techniques used to defeat the bad thing du jour, and generally amuse or annoy my husband and housemate depending on how bad the movie is. Lol. Sometimes they’ll provoke good theological discussions (I mean think about the theology articulated in a movie like “The Omen.” It touches on human anthropology, and ideas of grace and free will, getting most of it wrong according to the Catholic framework in which he movies are written) and we usually enjoy tearing it apart. Or they’ll provoke spirit work discussions about technique where we’d ask the question, “as an occultist or spiritworker how would you handle this situation?” (I wouldn’t BE in that situation because I’m not an idiot. Lol). I often like horror movies that show the viewer that the real monsters are the regular people, not the creatures that may look different (like in Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed.”). I also like animal horror like “Jaws” (the movie that guaranteed I will never swim in the ocean. Fuck no. Not ever). I have less sympathy the older I get for the college kids in movies doing stupid things and getting killed, and if there’s any desecration of cemeteries or dumb-fuckery with the dead, I tend to be like, ‘whelp, now y’all have to die. bye.” I find I have to have sympathy for someone in the movie to be at all invested. I asked my housemate Tatyana what her favorite horror movie was and she said “The Shining,” because of how it gets in your head. She likes psychological horror. I prefer “Dr. Sleep,” because of the psychic gift angle. I like supernatural horror provided its relatively accurate. I don’t like comedic horror at all, with very rare exceptions.
Sometimes, what others consider horror, I don’t. I remember a couple of years ago a friend of mine was taking a film class over the summer. I would chat with him and the teacher occasionally and the class was fascinating. They were studying four films: the original “Halloween,” (love it), “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (never been a fan…the aesthetic is visually too ugly for me) – and ok, those are horror movies, I agree. But then, they also studied “Silence of the Lambs” and (I think, irrc) “Alien.” I remember having a very lively chat with the professor teaching the course (we knew each other through a different program that I’d done for which he’d been one of the three mentors) over whether or not the last two qualified as horror. I can see it with “Alien” but “Silence of the Lambs” stumped me. He asked if it wasn’t terrifying and I agreed it was, but it was human evil. We agreed that made it no less terrifying and while I still would class that particularly movie as “mystery” or “thriller,” I did expand my understanding of what “horror” could be.
So, this is how I relax. LOL. School will be starting soon and with that an end to any opportunity I might have for wasting my time in front of what my parents used to call the ‘boob tube.’ Now I turn it over to you, my readers. What are your favorite horror movies and why? What do you watch to relax, whether it’s horror or otherwise?
First Principles and Food for Thought
I recently discovered the following videos on youtube. I’ve only watched these two but I think they are worth watching, and if you do, we can then have a conversation about them here, what we agree on and what we disagree on. I think on first listening, even when the language might make me a tad uncomfortable (I am an academic after all), that I agree with most of what this man suggests, despite the fact he is coming from a Christian perspective.
Here is the first video. In this, I agree with what he says but dislike his attribution to those things of the word ‘cozy.’ The word, to me, is low brow and emotional. I would instead try lineaged, cultured, connected (though he does use the term ‘quality’ at one point). He’s speaking about tradition, civilization, heritage for all people and the way that certain things like art and culture ennoble us and elevate our souls.
(The above video is part of a three part series that you can find on his youtube site). Now, below is the second video. I would offer a caveat that when he mentions ‘ancestor worship,’ given the context, I do not believe he is talking about actual ancestor worship and veneration, but rather about idolizing one’s ancestors to the point of excusing and justifying their every bad action. The man has definitely read his Aristotle too. Some of this is triggering, even to me, but what triggers me is the language, not necessarily the ideas that he is expressing. Even where I disagree or find his approach too facile, I think he is raising questions that we need to consider. I really like his focus on dignity of all persons and peoples, embedded in an awareness that we are one link in a chain stretching back into our ancestral prehistory and forward farther than we can ever see, and that we have the moral and social responsibilities that come with that.
I very much think that the problems in our society that we are seeing will not go away on the basis of any political or riotous action. The only curative as I see it is restoring and nurturing the ancient contracts: honoring our ancestors, respecting the land, and rooting ourselves deeply and purely in our polytheisms and sacred traditions, in our relationship with our Gods, and all the ways that demands we approach the world and each other. I also think we need to be cultivating the dignity of every person and acknowledging their importance and connection to the multiple heritages that make up our world as a fundamental aspect of building a morally just civilization. We should build each other up and assist each other in restoring and redeveloping these sacred bonds, and the only time we should bend the knee is to our Holy Powers.