Rolling Stone just put out an article about the storming of the Capital on Wednesday. They flat out said that Heathenry was code for white supremacy. They are damning an entire religion without knowing what the hell they’re talking about. This is the worst sort of journalism (if one can even call it that). Note, they don’t bother calling out Christianity, despite the numerous crosses in clear view at the riot.
This is what we are now facing.
Speak out. Wear your sacred symbols proudly (mjolnir, valknot, etc.). Do not let ignorant, prejudicial bullshit drive you into a religious closet. Don’t let anyone or anything make you ashamed of your traditions, your Gods, your ancestor practice. These are good and holy things. Our religion is NOT a religion of white supremacy. It’s a religion of family, community, piety, reverence. It’s a religion that anyone can practice if they have reverence for our Gods.
EDIT as of Jan. 10: Rolling Stone issued a piss poor correction of the problematic text. It’s not great, but it’s something.
I’m used to reading utter crap from wildhunt.org. They don’t represent polytheism, and they certainly don’t present anything approximating useful viewpoints for our community. At this rate, for the last couple of years they’ve been, more and more, a leftist propaganda machine. C’est la vie. Shit does flow downhill after all. I rarely read something there, however, that is as fucked up as their recently article on Catholic exorcisms.
Firstly, the article mocks the practice of exorcism equating it with child abuse, FGM, and superstition. Secondly, they allowed the claim – and it has thus far gone unchallenged – that Jesus invented exorcism. No, he did not. Polytheistic traditions were performing exorcisms, purifications, and banishings for millennia before the Christ movement ever happened. But then, we’re not neo-Pagan. We actually respect our theologies and traditions (looking at you, Patheos).
The issue we should have with Catholics doing this is that they retranslated the rite of exorcism. Why re-work a ritual that functions just fine? Moreover, why have it translated and amended by people who are not themselves exorcists and who cannot, therefore, gauge the efficacy of their needless emendations? I want more information on the translation process and who was involved.
Our world is filled with supernatural evil and pollution. We, human beings, who are no longer raised to cultivate virtue within themselves, let it in. Yes, there’s human malignancy but there’s also shit that goes well beyond that. Our polytheistic ancestors understood that. They understood that there are malefic forces aligned against the sacred and holy architecture that the Gods have created, and that if we venerate and love those Gods, then the corollary is that we stand against that evil, against that which would destroy and corrupt the order and beauty of Their divine creation. We don’t fucking help it along.
These rituals and techniques were given to us by the Gods to combat those malevolent spirits and exorcists, a very rare and sacred calling (and dangerous as hell) are the first line of defense, the shock troops, that go in and clean up when we do not hold the line and when we fuck up.
Paganism may be ‘do as you please’ these days. Polytheism isn’t. If the Catholic church is seeing a rise in exorcisms, I’m not surprised. Our world is burning. Forces of evil are running rampant, hiding behind movements and counter movements and attempts to abolish and transgress all social norms. Even what is good in and of itself can be twisted and corrupted under its influence. This crosses all religious boundaries.
Instead of bitching and whining and mocking those who hold to their traditions of exorcism, we should be praying for their success.
Here is a prayer I say weekly (I stole it and reworked it from the Catholics because I liked it and found it effective. Gods know, they stole enough from us. Turnabout is fair play). I encourage any and all of you reading this to write your own prayers in the same vein. Feel free to share them here. But pray, pray fervently as if your life and spiritual welfare depends upon it because maybe, just maybe it does.
Prayer for Priests and specialists
Oh, great good and immortal Gods, look upon our world and have pity upon Thy priests, spirit-workers, exorcists, specialists, and shamans (insert whatever groups of specialists you wish here). Oh, Compassionate Gods, remember that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation. Set them on fire with love and devotion to You. Keep them close, lest the enemy prevail against them. Grant that they may never betray, subvert , or shame their vocation. Keep them clean, oh great and merciful Gods.
I pray to all Good Gods for Thy faithful and fervent priests, spiritworkers, exorcists, and specialists –for those unfaithful and tepid, for those laboring hard, for those tempted, for those lonely and desolate, for the young ones, the aged ones, the sick ones, the dying ones, and all the souls of priests, spiritworkers, exorcists, and speicalists who have died. I pray for those facing initiation. I pray for those facing spiritual combat. I pray for all who serve. May they prevail and come out transformed by the Gods. Keep them clean.
Inspire them, oh Eternal Gods. Look with love upon them. Fill them with burning zeal for their vocations. Shelter them under Thy protection. Keep unstained their anointed hands. Keep unsullied their lips. Keep pure their hearts. Let Thy love and care protect them from contagion. Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may they endure. May those to whom they minister be likewise fruitful in their devotions. May the laity who seek the Gods understand and undertake clean service. May they support their clergy and specialists. May they be sustained in their love of the Holy Ones. May they be protected and likewise nourished.
Please hear my prayer, oh good and glorious Gods. Please hear my prayer.
I’ve noticed a theme on tumblr, twitter, and elsewhere today: when some of us refuse to turn our religious practices and our traditions into a morass of social justice insanity suddenly we are faced with accusations that our entire religion is appropriative. Think about that: there are those who claim to be Pagan who are purposely trying to discredit entire religions because those religions honor the Gods. Think about that long and hard.
Here’s some of the unmitigated bullshit I’m seeing:
*Asatru is appropriating Icelandic culture (with at least one person asserting that Asatru was started in mid 20thC. in Iceland solely for Icelanders. Um, no. Do some research please. The term was first coined for contemporary practitioners in, I believe, Denmark, in the mid nineteenth-century and the revival of the religion began in the nineteenth century as well. I talk about this in my book “Trangressing Faith”).
*You cannot practice an ATR if you weren’t either raised in it or are a person of color. That’s not true at all as any santero or santera will tell you. There are numerous practitioners carrying licit initiations who are not people of color. They may have a steeper learning curve but they are welcomed by many Houses to the worship of the Orisha. It is not for any outsider to determine who may or may not seek them out.
*My favorite: if you say shamanism, you’re really referring to ‘animism.” Bitches, please, I know how to use language. If I were referring to animism, I’d say so. I do agree that Harner core “shamans” are garbage and this has certainly muddied the waters but anyone actually engaging in shamanism pays them as little mind as possible. We prefer competent people. Harner’s crew does appropriate and dangerously so.
*Then, finally, there’s this gem: you only use Polytheist, or Pagan because you want legitimacy Neo-Pagan doesn’t give you. Um, we use Polytheist because Neo-Pagan is a nebulous term full of half witted people who honor neither gods nor ancestors and who want everything watered down into meaninglessness. We, on the other hand, have traditions, traditiosn with roots going back into the ancient world, we give a shit about them, and prioritize the Gods over your human garbage.
So, maybe stop mentioning traditions and practices and religions that you A) clearly know nothing about, B) don’t comprehend, and C) and are using only to virtue signal for others. I find it quite telling, that the people engaging in this rhetoric are always, ALWAYS either non-theists, or those who think activism equals religious truth and tradition (but whose activism is also always a matter of slandering people with outright lies, posting online, and never actually getting out there and making a difference in the world), or they are solely animists who despise the concept of tradition and especially of initiatory traditions. Well, too bad, sister. Those things exist and they are good and holy.
What is actually going on here is those outside our traditions are spewing this nonsense in exactly the same way they call anyone who disagrees with them ‘nazi’ or ‘racist’ regardless of what political beliefs that person might actually hold. It’s an attempt to destroy our religious traditions because we won’t do it ourselves. It’s an attempt to undermine the people actually practicing, defending, and furthering those traditions. It’s an attempt to again ideologically speaking, smash our shrines, destroy our icons and statues, and condemn the Gods to the pages of history. Resist.
I never, ever thought I’d be writing something supporting the AFA. I’m not a member and I’m not folkish but over the last couple of weeks as more and more people in our communities dogpile on them, I’ve been watching from the side lines growing more and more concerned. Then yesterday, I saw this article and that the not so aptly named Camp Courage had, at the last minute, caved to pressure from HUAR and others who were calling in and refused to honor their contract to host an AFA harvest gathering. The AFA was left scrambling to find a new venue, which I’m told they did. That’s when I decided I had to say something.
Why are more people not up in arms about this? Seriously. Do you not see what is going on?
A group made a statement articulating its values. They never said that they spoke for all of Asatru or Heathenry. They specifically said they don’t monitor what their own members do or how well they adhere to these values. They made a statement about their core values on their own facebook page, to their own members. Whether or not you agree with that statement is beside the point. They have both freedom to speak and freedom to assemble in this country. Moreover, groups and traditions have the right to make decisions about their values and membership. If one doesn’t like the result, well the adult thing to do is to find a group or tradition more suited to one’s own values. That of course, predictably, is not what happened here.
Now, I rather expected the Troth to take a run at them. There’s been long standing tensions between the folkish and universalist camps within Heathenry and they are after all competing for the same demographic. There was never any expectation that the Troth would take the high road. (For the record, I am most adamantly NOT a member of either the Troth or the AFA. I have theological issues with them both). As you can see from the link, they’re not even responding to what the AFA actually said; they’re responding to what they would like us all to believe they said. What I didn’t expect was for everyone else to unthinkingly jump on the outrage brigade with them.
No one seems to have given a thought that this is polytheists attacking another group of polytheists – and not just verbally but with real world consequences; or more troubling, to the long term effects of such behaviors. I am old enough and have been a polytheist long enough to remember when gatherings were kept secret, when groups didn’t post about things, when there was a veil of secrecy over who was doing what and where, and on the way this stifled the growth of our traditions. Is that what we want to go back to?
Those attacking the AFA are doing so thinking that they are perfectly justified in doing so, and may even think they are doing a good thing. After all, these people think differently. They don’t tow the leftist party line. They don’t give a rat’s ass about what HUAR, Rhyd, G&R, tumblr or any other group of people might think. They have to be brought down. Well, it’s the AFA today but I think HUAR and co. are testing the waters, just as they were doing when they tried to brand me a racist for posting a video critical of rape gangs (really people, read my blog and make up your own mind there). They’re doing this to see A) how people react and B) if they can whip the communities up into a frenzy and take down this organization. What’s next? Are they going to go after John Michael Greer because he disagrees with Rhyd? Or will it be some poor group of Dianics who just want to be left to practice their tradition in peace? (I happen to think Dianics are ludicrous but you know what my response is to that? I don’t try to attend their gatherings). Whose livelihood are they going to destroy next? They’ve already managed to get a teacher at Cherry Hill to resign. It’s no longer enough to say “I disagree with their position on X and here’s why,” now the opposition has to be demonized (regardless of what their position actually is, mind you. Let’s call them far right, fascist, racist, homophobic, transphobic insert charged term du jour here). It’s no long enough to have one’s own space, now opposition must be silenced and brought to heel until they confirm ideologically.
Think about that. While you’re patting yourself on the back for protecting diversity, think really hard about that.
Think about who might be next. Think about your own gatherings disrupted because someone doesn’t find you ideologically pure enough. Think about the phone call to your boss outing you as Pagan, Heathen, pseudo fascist (even if you’re not). Rhyd is going around (most recently on John Beckett’s patheos column) talking about how there is no witch hunt from the anarcho-Marxist left. He’ll still be saying that I’m sure, when they come for you