The Supreme Court just upheld one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. This law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, at about six weeks. While the Supreme court ruling allowed the law to go into effect but kept open the possibility of abortion providers and perhaps even individuals challenging the law in court in the future, for now, this is a crushing blow to women’s liberty in the lone star state.
Here are some observations and questions based on what I’ve read so far.
An abusive spouse may report his or her wife to the police for having an abortion (even if she hasn’t) and receive a 10K (Ten thousand) dollar reward.
Even by the time a heartbeat is detected, there is no viable human being present in the clot of tissue that will later become a person.
Apparently even mentioning abortion as an option to a woman can now have legal consequences.
The prison sentence for a woman seeking an abortion will be longer than that of a rapist.
What happens to a woman who leaves the state to have an abortion? Will she be arrested on her return?
More importantly, how will the state know? Are women’s medical records now to be opened and available to scrutiny? Will this law be extended retroactively?
I am very pro-choice. I not only believe abortion should be available on demand, I think it should be legally required in some circumstances. There is never, ever a time where I would limit a woman’s right to bodily sovereignty (even though I think abortion should be mandated in certain circumstances, I’d be very, very hesitant to make any laws to that effect. This is personal business, not something in which the government should involve itself). That’s what any abortion restriction is: an assault on bodily sovereignty.
Do I believe abortion is murder? Yes. I believe the fetus is a life. Do I think that’s a relevant question? Not in the least. The only life that matters in this situation is that of the woman because until that fetus is pushed through her vagina in a flood of blood and pain, it is nothing more than a parasite, depending upon the mother for its continued existence. Carrying a fetus to term, has long term, potentially devastating physical effects on a woman’s body.
I think Roe V. Wade is a bad ruling. Abortion was legalized on privacy grounds. There are stronger grounds upon which to allow women basic civil liberties (is there a single medical procedure for men that is put before non-medical, government and political groups like abortion? No there is not).
Let’s start with the 13th Amendment, you know, the one that abolished slavery. Any time someone has no control over their bodily sovereignty, particularly where forced breeding is concerned, we have something quite akin to slavery. Forced breeding was always part of the experience of slavery in this country, particularly after the trans-Atlantic slave trade was abolished. Control of fertility (for both women and men, though the greatest burden always fell on the woman) was a significant part of the experience of the enslaved in the US. Apparently, it still is.
Then we have the 14th Amendment, the first part of which states:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Or let’s talk about self-defense. I would have preferred to see Roe V. Wade legalized on grounds of self-defense and bodily sovereignty than privacy. I think those are much, much stronger grounds.
Within our religious traditions, abortion is not prohibited. In fact, at various times and places amongst our Heathen ancestors, newborns were not considered properly ensouled until nine days after birth. If we’re looking at Roman religion, it was when the father picked the newborn child up and acknowledged it. Furthermore, we have many Deities Who may be called upon to protect women who choose to have abortions. Freya, for instance, is a Goddess of sexuality, of personal choice, of bodily sovereignty (and many other things). I think one may call upon Her, or the other Vanir, for protection and blessing if one is seeking an abortion. Now, the Vanir are also Deities of fertility. We have Heathens who are pro-life, and they may choose to call upon the Vanir to protect life and bless women choosing to have children. (I also think it is important to be very, very careful about ascribing our personal desires onto the Gods. We may say, “I think Freya would bless this choice,” but to say outright, as if we can ever fully know, “Freya likes/doesn’t like X” is deeply lacking in integrity. We may assume, conjecture, but can never truly *know* because the Gods are so much more than we ever can be). Any abrogation of personal choice is an abrogation of personal power and as such, I think this would be quite problematic from a Vanic point of view. Certainly, in our lore, Freya never allowed her own power to be so infringed. One may thus extend the lesson.
There is the healing Goddess Hlif, ever a help to women. She is usually called upon for anything pertaining to OB/GYN issues. While She is a Goddess of birth, as She also tends to all things gynecological, I see no reason why She could not be called upon here as well. We are not animals, slaves to our biology. We have wyrd, and thus the capacity for conscious, individuated choice. That doesn’t suddenly disappear because one possesses a uterus.
Then there is Gerda, the wife of Freyr. This has ever been a union of opposites in so many ways and my particular branch of the Northern Tradition holds that because Freyr came to Asgard as a hostage for peace (one of the hostages exchanged to guarantee peace between the Aesir and Vanir, the other being Njord), and because this would extend to His children too, He and Gerda have no children. Not all denominations of the Northern Tradition hold to this, but ours does. Because of this Gerda maybe sought out by those who have had miscarriages, those who use birth control, and those who have abortions.
You know what this issue never was amongst our ancestors? A matter for public scrutiny. It was women’s medicine and women’s business, a private thing known to the woman and her midwife or healer. Of course, in ideal circumstances within a family, it may have been a matter of discussion between spouses but in the end, it was a choice the woman herself made.
Modern America is not so enlightened. Laws like this are not about protecting potential life. They’re about criminalizing sex and pleasure and keeping women in a place defined by a most pernicious evangelical Christianity with a healthy helping of the Victorian cult of motherhood to boot. It’s revolting. This is not about “women being unable to control themselves” (as I recently saw stated on twitter and by a woman no less). It’s about basic human rights and human dignity – not to potential life, but to living, breathing women here and now. It’s about trusting that women are actually capable of determining for themselves when to become pregnant.
I actually wonder if those who are so incredibly anti-choice realize what it’s like to have one’s body turned into an incubator. My earliest memory as a child was of doggedly, most definitely, and under no circumstances ever wanting a child. I was maybe 2 ½ and I knew I found the whole thing utterly disgusting, dehumanizing, and permanently disabling in some circumstances. My opinion on the matter hasn’t changed. I would flat out rather be executed than forced to carry a child. So, I have made sure never to get pregnant, however, if I did, I’d have had the abortion clinic on speed dial. Other women want children, but not at a given time, or they want to do the financially sensible thing and space their children in a way that allows for economic independence. Or…many other reasons. Really the only reason a woman needs to not be pregnant is “I don’t want to be.”
What these laws really are is about criminalizing sexual pleasure and criminalizing women’s independence. I’m all for modesty and continence but come on. Birth control fails all the time. Accidents happen. Moreover, rape and incest happen (cases where I think abortion should be required as a matter of common sense personally). Women don’t need big daddy government telling them what to do with their bodies. There’s no consistency in these laws either. If pro-lifers were really worried about loss of fetal life, then male masturbation would likewise be a source of legal concern. But we’re not seeing that. We’re seeing, as always, the onus of these laws placed on the woman. Nor can women easily get a tubal ligation which would solve the problem completely for some – paternalistic doctors will say she doesn’t really know her own mind, or might marry someone who wants children. Even now. (In 2019 a young woman in UK sued the NHS for just this reason and won the right to be sterilized. But note, she had to go to court. Men seeking vasectomies don’t have this issue). All of this is a violation of bodily sovereignty in every respect. So when someone is coming out prolife, what they’re really saying whether they realize it or not is this: I not only don’t trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, but I don’t think they should legally have the right to do so. We are rendering women as less than full civic partners in American social and political life. What’s next? Is birth control going to be made illegal? Will a woman’s testimony only be worth half that of a man’s in court? Maybe we’ll go back to the days when women couldn’t own a credit card or put a down payment on a house without a male relative’s consent (as late as the 1970s in the States).
So, here is my solution. TX has fairly decent gun rights. I think women ought to avail themselves of those rights because this is an attack on women’s freedom, bodily sovereignty, and personal integrity. It’s disgusting. When someone tries to enslave you, the only appropriate response is armed resistance. Hoist the black flag and get on with it, ladies (and the men who love them). Or watch your freedoms get chipped away ever more.
To those anti-choicers out there, you are welcome to hold whatever opinion on the matter you want and to apply that to your own person. The moment you step to me or anyone else with demands about what we can and cannot do with our own bodies, the moment you attempt to force fertility, weeeelll, see the paragraph above.
EDIT: not actually advocating violence. But I am advocating that both men and women get off their asses in TX and forcibly fight this law. It’s a bad law –even if one is pro-life. It has long term, far reaching consequences that could easily be expanded and applied to many other aspects of private life, for everyone.
I have no problem with atheism. Do your thing. I have a huge problem when atheists come into religious spaces (especially when it’s our religious spaces), and aren’t there as respectful guests but attempt to take on leadership positions. It’s polluting to the tradition and disrespectful to the Holy Powers and community both. It also twists the tradition out of true alignment with the Holy.
I cannot count how many Heathen kindreds I have heard of or personally encountered that allow atheists to take on leadership roles, including that of Goði or even spaekona. Obviously, these groups don’t give a flying fuck about the Gods or simple common respect.
Today, a friend sent me this article.
Apparently this isn’t just a Heathen, Polytheistic, or Pagan problem. This is a problem across traditions. Harvard has just appointed their new “chaplain” and guess what? The fucker is an atheist. Like what even is the point? This is modernism, secularism, and the woke in action and it’s just revolting. I’d long ago written Harvard off as a serious school but this just proves it to me.
If I were a kinder person, a better theologian, a more patient priest I would probably approach this less bluntly, but today is not that day. I have a wonderful apprentice now of sterling character and deep piety and she asked me recently (now that she herself is getting close to the point where she will likely take a student or two under supervision) what to look for when deciding to take on this responsibility. While the sarcastic bitch in me wanted to respond, “Xanax,” her question is a necessary one and not a conversation that my own teachers ever had with me. This is not to their discredit. It simply wasn’t the way things were done then. We were all young and some lessons are hard, very hard learned. So, speaking to the question of apprentices and students within one’s religious community (1), here we go.
Cowardice is pandemic in our communities. When someone asks me what to look for in a group, a teacher, or when a teacher/priest asks me how to vet potential apprentices and students, this is the first thing I tell them: look first for virtue and character. Over and above anything else, that has to be there. If it’s not, do your best Usain Bolt imitation and run as fast as you can the other way. Also, if there’s not a willingness to prioritize devotion and the Gods, even when it’s uncomfortable, or arouses hostility in the community, or causes inconvenience: run. You cannot fix this in a person. It doesn’t matter how much you may personally like that person or how otherwise gifted he or she is: run.
One thing that I have learned in over thirty years of teaching, writing, leading rituals, etc. is that when taking an apprentice one must look first and foremost at innate character. If character is lacking, that is terminal spiritual damage. It cannot be fixed. I’ll give you an example. Many years ago, a young man became my apprentice. I did not particularly want to take him on. He had, with almost no training, been engaging in deity possession and using that to engage in sexual improprieties bordering on coercion with at least one woman to whom he was attracted. In conversation with my own elders we took his word that he hadn’t realized what he was doing, or how great a blasphemy it was. We assumed on good faith that he was redeemable with a little teaching, with strict mentorship, with a chance to learn and cultivate virtue and values, to build character, to devote himself to the Gods without having to worry about being called upon, far before he was ready, to step into a leadership role in his community (which had been part of the pressure and problem, or so we figured). We were all wrong and bad character remained bad character, egotism and vainglory (the need to be liked and to receive accolades, to be held up as top of the class, so to speak) only now hidden behind a façade of piety. This was compounded by the fact that the work of necessity was done long distance where it was difficult to accurately gauge progress. Just don’t. If even once this type of behavior is noted, shun that person one thousand percent (2). Also, with very rare exceptions, I do not think I would ever take a long distance apprentice again. The work is intense, demands such deep, often painful and challenging internal processing, that I just don’t think it can be effectively done (or monitored for problems) at a distance.
Here’s a second example. Many years ago, farther back than the case of the man I mentioned above, I took as a student an incredibly gifted young woman (one of the most gifted students I have ever had). She was also utterly without character, which I didn’t realize until much later. She was actually my first serious student and thanks to her, I know some of the things to look for in gauging potential students from here on out. What we took as vivid exaggeration and a gift for story telling was really an addiction to chronic lying. What we took as struggling piety, was really a desire to garner all the attention in the room by pretense of ecstatic revelation. Had we looked harder (I and the fellow priest who helped train her), we would have seen lack of responsibility in her life, constant disorder in every area, endless making of excuses, dangerous promiscuity, poor decision after poor decision, and vanity. There was extraordinary giftedness but a character dependent on those around her. When she was with us, she was fine. She mirrored what was dominant in those around her. When she was not with us, her character did not hold. Instability on every level surrounded her life. Eventually it led to a psychotic break and a descent into trouble. We mandated psychotherapy. She agreed and then lied about going. She was a parasite. So, for those of you intending to start a spiritual house, a kindred, a coven, an Iseum, a Thiasos, or other group, look deeply into those you allow into your spiritual world. If there isn’t base line character, you will fail in aiding in their spiritual formation. That’s what the work of a spiritual teacher and priest is: spiritual formation and that takes cooperation and hard work on both sides.
Also, you’re a priest or teacher, not a psychologist. We can do so much with those who come to us, but we’re not psychotherapists. Learn where that boundary is and don’t allow a disordered student to push you past it. Also, the teacher-student/teacher-apprentice relationship should be one of loyalty and respect, commitment and support mutually for life. I would go to the wall for many of my students and my current apprentice. When that relationship is violated it affects the luck and wyrd of each party on a grossly violent level. It is polluting in a way that is very difficult to cleanse. The obligations on both sides are enormous. Likewise the curse on those that take what they have learned, half-assedly usually, and set themselves up as competent spirit-workers is a stain on the soul that will taint and corrupt every bit of the work such nithlings do.
I hear a lot of complaints in the community about lack of elders and teachers. Well, folks, they’re there. They just get sick and tired of being shat on by students, neophytes, and apprentices who don’t want to step up and prioritize devotion and do the work. We are not great cosmic tits that you can drain dry with your mommy and daddy issues, your authority issues, your unwillingness to address character flaws or develop virtue. We’re not there to hand over the mysteries of our tradition to the untested and untried. You want an elder or a teacher to guide you, show some fucking respect.
Then there’s the cowardice. It is, as I have said, pandemic in our communities. I have a number of readers and twitter followers and those on facebook who smile to my face and then turn around and support those who slander me and (more importantly) my work. You’re cowards. Pick a fucking side.
I’ll also add, that when you meet someone who wants to drag the Gods down into morass and pollution of human politics, in an effort usually to garner praise, and in ways that exclude devout men and women from worship, step back and take a hard look at why. What pat on the head is that person getting? Whom do they serve? What do they actually value and where do the Gods and devotion and piety figure in that value system?
Veneration to the Holy Power is the thing that should be lifting us up beyond all our human shit. It should be the thing that encourages and incites us to elevate our souls, to throw ourselves into devotion, to transform our internal world and sometimes our external world to through the power of that adoration. When that is twisted out of true by ungrateful apprentices who lacked the spiritual fortitude, commitment, and virtue to stay the course, it’s an ugly, ugly thing. So beware.
- This does not apply to academic teaching at all. This is a totally different animal. The work we do in training apprentices and students within our religious communities is emotionally and spiritually intimate and steeped in a shared cosmology and hierarchy that would not in any way be appropriate to transfer over to secular teaching.
- Now don’t accept gossip. Of all the evil spirits, that of gossip is THE most dangerous and destructive (see the book “Osogbo” by Ochani Lele). There should be clear proof and/or witnessed offense. Spectral evidence my friends, ain’t evidence at all.
When I logged online yesterday, I discovered that Pope Francis (of whom, for many reasons, I am not a fan) had recently restricted the use of the Latin mass. You can read here, here, and here about that. I am so very sorry for my Catholic friends and family members who are already suffering under a watered-down liturgy and the results of Vatican II. I found myself disturbed enough by this move from the Vatican though, that this morning I was still thinking about it and it took me a bit of time to parse out why.
Ritual and liturgy are part of a religion’s tradition. They don’t sustain themselves. These things are given to us within our own religious traditions to nourish, nurture, and protect. Traditions in general and ritual in particular are part of the alchemy that continually reifies the moment of creation, the most sacred mysteries of that tradition and thus keep our world clean of pollution and protected from evil. When one religion decides to shit on its rituals and pollute its own tradition, that affects the world’s balance as a whole – at least that’s how I and my House view the issue.
The RCC has been shitting on the very traditions that were given to it to guard since at least Trent (and that’s not taking into account the use of those traditions to encourage forced conversion and genocide, not to mention the sexual abuse occurring within the Church hierarchy and noted from at least the 4th century). Vatican II, an attempt to reconcile with protestants, feminists, and modernity by performing a hatchet job on one’s tradition in the dubious name of “progress” (someone explain to me how a fucking guitar mass is progress?) was the start of what I personally think, was an all-out, internal attack on their tradition. I may not care overmuch about modern Catholicism in particular (academically, I study its origins, which are fascinating), but I do care about religious traditions in general, because I think to some degree, what happens in one tradition has the potential to affect us all (1). Also, there’s a general rule of liturgy that I was taught ages ago (ironically by a Catholic priest): if you don’t know what something is for, don’t change it. Or, to put it another way: if it ain’t broke, don’t “fix” it. Someone should have informed the pope.
There are a few key differences that I’d like to talk about between the Latin mass (TLM) and the vernacular one. Now, I’ll preface this by saying that liturgical studies are not my cup of tea. Still, one picks up a few things here and there in the course of one’s studies. Firstly, in TLM, the priest does not face the congregation. He faces the eucharist. This may seem like a throw away, but I think it’s actually very, very important. When you face the congregation, you are, for better or worse, performing. When you face away, you are leading your congregation in veneration of your God. Psychologically, there is a huge difference here (2).
Secondly, with the use of Latin, not only are the congregants connected to a key See with all its history, but they key into a groove of the sacred by dropping into something used for two thousand years sacrally. I’ve seen Latin-English mass books and they are just as easy to follow as mass books in the vernacular. You have the Latin on one side and then matching vernacular on the other. Better yet, many religious schools would naturally teach Latin, which as far as I’m concerned only betters a person’s intellectual potential. Plus, my understanding is that there are certain prayers to ward off evil (like the prayer to St. Michael, and also at least one prayer to Mary) that were offered during TLM that were expunged from the vernacular mass (one of the things that Vatican II tried very hard to do was quash saints cultus and Marian devotion…unsuccessfully I guess, but the council did dampen it down quite a bit). I think the use of Latin and its formality increases the sense of solemnity, which is not a bad thing when (according to a Catholic relative of mine) today you have congregants on their cell phones and/or chatting as the priest is walking down the aisle to begin Mass!
Thirdly, Gregorian chant. Why, in the name of all that is holy, would anyone with any sense (not to mention an ear) replace centuries old tradition of Gregorian chant with hippy guitar masses or congregations singing off key to poorly trained organists doing abominable things to their instrument? Ritual should transport one into an altered state, creating a certain liminality of mindset wherein one has the capacity to properly and relatively safely (as much as it ever can be) encounter the Holy. It should create a sense of awe that shakes us out of our quotidian headspace. Music does this better than any other sense save perhaps smell. Now of course, I’m focusing on aesthetics because as Lo said in Art and Numen, aesthetics is cosmology writ large. I’ll take that one step farther: remove bits of the aesthetic willy-nilly and you risk shattering the architecture of the cosmology, closing any door or window by which your people can connect through liturgy, to the Divine.
I’ll leave the theological issues inherent in the newer translation of the Mass to others to discuss. The way a religion treats the aesthetics of its ritual (and its sacred spaces) is enough for me to know whether they truly value their Gods or not.
And this is one of the biggest issues I have with Francis. He doesn’t seem to care about preserving his church. He certainly doesn’t care about liturgical integrity. My wish for my Catholic friends is that he is removed from the papacy quickly and replaced with a hardline traditionalist who not only restores the Latin mass in toto but rolls back Vatican II completely. Hell, I’d roll it back to Trent.
Finally, and this is my key point: there is a huge lesson here for those of us engaged in restoring our own traditions. It doesn’t just happen and restoration once “done” will necessarily give way to preservation and protection. It is the grace and burden of each succeeding generation. If we forget that, even once, we’re likely to find ourselves facing the same challenges the Catholic Church is today: dissolution, degeneracy, and destruction. We’ll deserve it too, just like the Catholics (3).
- This is all the more so when we are still primarily a religion of converts. My whole point of this article should emphasize the need to raise children in their faith, educate them wisely, and instill in them a respect and reverence for the traditions they will inherit.
- I can’t help but remember one of the liturgies I co-officiated at when I taught at an interfaith seminary. We were just about to begin and I was officiating with a Catholic priest (he had long since left the Catholic Church and belonged now to a break away sect). I had set up the altar table in a way that allowed me to stand in front of it facing away from the group. When my back was turned, his man, thinking I hadn’t gotten around to moving the table to the correct place yet, moved it so we were facing the congregation. I turned around to begin (we were that close to the opening of the rite) and was stuck doing the ritual facing not the Gods as is proper, but the people. It was disconcerting and we had words later. Now, I’d have stopped and insisted we not begin until things were arranged to my specifications but it so took me by surprise, I didn’t respond quickly enough, and the man’s actions had been well-meaning, not intending to cause impiety.
- This is why one of the most important things a polytheistic couple can do is have children and *raise them as polytheists*. Families are sacred. Raise children in your tradition. This is the ONLY way our religions will survive, sustainably, into the next generation. Those of you who, like me, do not want children, find other ways to contribute to the long-term survival of the tradition: support your specialists, teach, pray, pray, pray, pray, do whatever is within your warrant to create sustainable communities. These are the two things we need desperately. The hostility amongst Pagans for raising their children in their traditions boggles. It is the most self-defeating thing we can do. Each child should be raised with an awareness that he or she is inheriting a great gift, grace, but also a burden, an obligation: a tradition to nourish, sustain, and protect. This is what we are here for, our birthright, but also our duty to our Gods. It’s what being an adult is all about and if that’s too difficult for some people, well, too fucking bad. Get out of the way.
Read the article here. I’m disgusted by the comments she’s receiving: people who should know better dismissing her devotion as primitive and bitching at Nasa for including her photo with the other interns. How degenerate does one have to be to attack a person’s devotion? This young woman is A) interning at NASA so unless you also work for NASA STFU and B) is a wonderful example of devotion that I hope inspires many other young men and women to move into academia or the sciences while maintaining their faith and C) she’s in her OWN HOME. This is her workspace in her own home.
If one follows this on twitter, comments (particularly those from Ashock Swain, which were especially gross) include calling this young woman “right wing” and her Gods “right wing” too because hey, devotion isn’t fashionable to the left? or whatever — the logic isn’t strong there. She’s asked if she can’t do anything without her Gods. Um…why should one? It is a joy and a fucking PRIVILEGE to honor the Gods. And Nasa is badgered to replace the image. If this were a Christian woman, a Jewish woman, a Muslim woman, an Atheist would this be happening? I seriously doubt it.
I chose one article out of many to post here, but just type in “Hindu Intern Nasa” and there is plenty about this online. Or check out the Hindu Student Union link that I just posted at my twitter @GalinaKrasskova.
I hope Nasa stands up and supports this intern and shame on those who are shitting on her devotion.
Edit: the correct twitter is @hinduoncampus.
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.
- I have no problem with atheists. Rock on. I have a tremendous problem with anti-theists who come into our community demanding leadership positions.
- 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.
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.
We don’t have to agree politically. I’m seeing a lot of articles espousing the idea that all Heathens have to be leftist to be Heathen, that if one doesn’t replace devotion with politics, one can’t call oneself Heathen. On both counts, this is utter, unmitigated garbage. A religion is a space wherein one learns to properly honor the Gods. Period. You can hold whatever political opinions you want and still be Heathen. Why? Because your religious identity is not defined by your political position. It’s defined solely by whether or not you venerate your Gods and ancestors.
I’m not surprised to see leftists trying to take advantage of recent events to force their political narrative into Heathenry. People are scared. We’re seeing our religion dragged through the mud and many of us are afraid that this is the first in what will turn into a crusade against Heathenry in the near future. I am afraid though that there are those who are taking advantage of that fear and anxiety to push a particular political position. While I agree we should be calling out white supremacists in our midst – because that garbage does not need to be the face of Heathenry (aside from being complete and utter bullshit too)—I likewise think we should be resisting radicalization by the left. Both are evil.
Moreover, you do not have to be active politically to be a good Heathen. Heathenry is about ONE thing: venerating the Germanic Gods, one’s ancestors, and the land. Of course, that bleeds out into other ways that one lives one’s life: cultivating family, civic engagement, etc. but politics is not religion and one should never, ever be mistaken for the other. This is yet another attempt by those with no piety to destroy our traditions, and shame on them. It’s a pretty pitiful and pathetic thing to do.
I hate seeing our religion equated with white supremacy. I find it disgusting. I hate seeing our sacred symbols used by Neo-nazis. I find that revolting and nauseating. However, and it kills me to say this because I really, really want to follow the herd on this one and espouse the opposite: one can be deeply religious and politically wrong. Their political identity, as much as we may wish it otherwise, doesn’t rule out possible Heathenry, as comforting as it might be for us to say it does. Now, I’ve been Heathen for thirty years and I know that the white supremacy problem is not as pandemic in Heathenry as the media thinks it is. We’re just a juicy target (probably more because of our family values and piety than the symbols we use, or any particular politics, to be honest). It is, however there on the fringes. I would like to see more work done to educate those in our community who hold those views, to help them move away from the hate. It’s not that difficult to make a theological argument countering such prejudice. Since this is a religion and not a political party, it’s to the theological we should turn.
I suppose when one’s political identity is all one has, when one hasn’t bothered cultivating any type of devotion to the Holy Powers, it must really seem like everything is political. It’s certainly less frightening to twist Heathenry into a political movement than to sit at the feet of our Gods in awe and terror. Cowards. That’s what so many of you are. You pander to whatever is easiest. That’s what these incessant calls to politicize Heathenry are all about. Never a thought to religion, piety, or the Gods, just human bullshit. Because we never cease to try to pull the holy down to our level so we can drag it through the shit and justify our own laziness. Cowards. If white supremacy is wrong – and it IS—call it out. Don’t pollute our religion by pretending it’s all about politics though. Devotion is already an uphill battle for most people – and a far more valuable one than all the politicking in the world. Maybe reorder your priorities.
Predictably Patheos Pagan is on a roll again. If you want to learn how to do any type of polytheism poorly head right on over. I’m still shaking my head at what was read to me this morning. Apparently, people are freaking out because some polytheists (iirc, the conversation is about Celtic polytheism, but Heathenry was mentioned too) choose to A) honor Gods of multiple traditions or B) NOT honor Gods of multiple traditions. If you do B, you’re a racist (and maybe acting like the Heathens do! *gasp*) and if you do A, you’re doing it wrong, or some such. The lack of logic, sense, and piety gets kind of hard to follow sometimes.
Get ready to have your minds blown, folks: either one can be proper and pious. Either one. It depends on the devotee, the Gods, their wyrd, their tradition, and any number of things. This is between the individual devotee and his or her Gods, and any sensible polytheist would get his butt to a good diviner, preferably one within his tradition (who is therefore familiar with that person’s primary Deities) to find out what his Gods want, if his can’t sort it himself. You’re not racist if you choose to only honor one particular pantheon (and unless that pantheon is Germanic, it doesn’t make you Heathen. Know what? Being Heathen is not synonymous with being racist either, and it’s just flat out hate-speech to claim otherwise). You’re not a bad polytheist if you honor more than one pantheon. Actually, the latter is probably closer to what many ancient polytheisms looked like.
Here’s the thing, and if this bunch actually read books, studied history and theology, and had one wit of sense among them, they’d know this: there was hardly ever any expectation of exclusivity in pre-Christian religion. One honored one’s household and ancestral Gods, the Gods of one’s city or town, and was free to initiate into any mystery cultus he or she wished that would take them (just because we might want initiation, doesn’t mean we are owed access after all). If one did not wish, that was fine too. There are a lot of problems we face as modern polytheists working to restore our respective traditions. This bitch ain’t one of them. It shouldn’t be one of them, and really, there are better things to do than invent problems.
My caveat, and I say this working in a blended tradition, is that each family of Deities should be honored according to Their own customs. I would not advise mixing and matching ritual styles. That’s a matter of politeness and respect. Our polytheistic ancestors crossed pantheons all the time. Here again though, if there is any confusion, an elder, priest, spirit worker, or diviner can help you sort it out. If you are called to honor only one pantheon, that doesn’t mean you’re not hearing your Gods rightly (yes, this was one of the comments made on Patheos: if you honor certain Gods exclusively, you’re not hearing Them). There could be reasons you can’t even comprehend for why They might put that restriction on you, and it’s hubris for some pissant second rate blogger over at Patheos, or anywhere else, to imply that it is hateful or wrong. Likewise honoring across pantheons.
You can find a million reasons not to do devotion but in the end it’s a choice. Every choice creates opportunities and closes off others. We have to work that out – in fear and fucking trembling – with ourselves and more importantly with and before our Gods. You know who doesn’t count in this equation? Some blogger on the internet whom you will never meet, and whose opinion matters to no one.
I just ran into a “scholar” on twitter (it was I passing and I don’t recall his handle) who said “well, they” meaning polytheisms “weren’t contemporary for very long. Christianity took care of that. They were very successful.” Um…as I did in response to twitter, let me explain how Christianity took care of it: by first passing religiously restrictive laws, then eventually (usually sooner rather than later) butchering religious practitioners, desecrating sacred spaces, destroying holy objects, spreading like a pollution over the land via intimidation (backed by military force), violence, bloodshed, the martyrdom of devout polytheists, destroying temples, and cultural and religious genocide. They’re still doing it (India, Brasil, Haiti, various countries in Africa, anywhere they think they can get away with it). You know what though? We’re still here. Polytheism is still here. We’re growing. We never disappeared fully so Christianity was not as successful as it thinks it was. It did not win. So, you, dear scholar, can suck it.
Seriously, it’s gross to be gloating about the effects on real bodies, real people, real traditions, real places of colonialism, conquest, and genocide. Toward no other group would this be acceptable.