With Many Gods West coming up this coming weekend, author PSVL offers good, solid advice here.
“Miasma is unavoidable when going through life; but the miasma which is created by deliberate negligence and impiety is something else entirely, whether you think it is or not. Even if you have no part in creating that miasma, it can impact you. This has been the case in most polytheist cultures, from ancient Greece to modern Shinto, and we ignore it now at our peril.”
Well said, PSVL, and good for you for writing this. The suggestions for attendees are solid across the board here.
I never thought the day would come when I found myself agreeing with Rhyd Wildermuth and the Gods&Radicals crowd.
However, reading the latest from Dr. Bones, a “Conjure, Rootwork, and Hoodoo practitioner who blogs at Disinfo:
We vagabonds, we tortured, we bottom of the pyramid say YES! But among the magical folk there are those who do not share our vision, fools who either deny they have been lied to or greedily devour those same lies and lose their Unique. Do you want to know the truth? Those fools that would deny the pain that has forged your very existence, would doubt that there are MILLIONS of us, that would disbelieve every fact, figure, and statistic you might give them revealing that each and every injury is something SYSTEMIC and NOT ISOLATED, all while remaining wedded to a dying ideology, are in fact OUR GREATEST ALLIES! Their indifference only fans the flames of fury in our hearts, dear Reader. Their indifference allows the cancer to spread and forces more souls to be raked across the coals of Capitalism! And it is this suffering, this pain, that is our greatest gift, for in it all the lies The Blind Ones still stutter are instantly burned to cinders! Before we became well-read, before we found our philosophers, we knew our path: our politics rose from indignation, our theories from nightmares of insignificance, and our dreams built on struggles of Insurrection!
I’m beginning to think they might be Right:
Our Decadent Society: New Right theorists criticise modern civilization as being in a state of ‘decay.’ They tend to be heavily anti-Modern and sometimes anti-civilisationist, believing that society needs to return to a more noble, healthy, and ‘natural’ order. Our Lost and Despoiled Lands: “Blood and Soil” is a crucial aspect of New Right thought, though this takes many forms. Regarding ‘soil,’ there is a tendency towards Nationalist identity through relationship to land (European lands, primarily) and the desire to protect it from foreigners. Also, they tend to co-opt Indigenous and First Nations language regarding sovereignty without actual alliance with post-colonial and anti-colonial politics. Our Great Threat: The New Right creates group identity and coherence through focusing on external human threats. Immigrants and particularly Muslims are the primary ‘enemy at the gates’ in European New Right movements, as in North America.
That shit’s dangerous and we really should keep a vigilant watch against it in our communities.
I also heartily agree with Crystal Blanton when she writes:
When people from privileged cultures or backgrounds attempt to dictate what is and is not cultural appropriation versus cultural exchange, they are reinforcing the imbalance of power that has continued to steal the voice from people of color throughout history. The best people to speak on the use of their cultural treasures are those who struggle in systems that erase them.
I wonder if we’ll get more insightful commentary like that at her presentation at Many Gods West.
Or Rhyd’s session on how to Fascism:
For most the term fascism has become a hollow snarl word, an expression of enormous disgust and opposition. Across society the word is used freely and without understanding for what it actually means.
Perhaps someone who can afford the steep registration fees will report back for us?
I also wonder if C. Thompson will be attending, considering their apparent disagreement:
Did…did he just snark at how Rhyd constantly talks about his impoverished upbringing? Holy shit, I think he did. I think Chris here really did just fire off a shot a Rhyd. Rhyd constantly talks about his impoverished upbringing and how it drove him to Marxism and anti-capitalism. And it kinda looks like Chris just told him to shut up about it. Damn, talk about breaking the shieldwall.
C. Thompson has a history of trying to shout down those he disagrees with, just like his Antifa friends did at a public speaking engagement in Canada:
Did you guys read those posts on Gods&Radicals condemning the Florida Pagan Gathering for trying to cover up the fact that they invited pedophilia advocates the Frosts to present?
Yeah, I haven’t either – because they don’t exist, which actually says a whole lot.
Rhyd and his friends are willing to stoke fears and lead witch hunts against dangerous elements in our communities such as people who believe in tradition and hierarchy but when actual threats to our safety and well-being rear their vile heads these valiant social justice “warriors” remain silent.
Aside from telling you everything you need to know about the morality of their cause, I think it is worth probing a little deeper and asking why.
The answer is simple.
In covering this story The Wild Hunt wrote:
Sage, a former FPG staff member, told The Wild Hunt that he and several others resigned over this very issue. Until recently, Sage was the FPG workshop coordinator and he said, “I resigned largely because I was instructed that it was my job to keep secret certain workshops that the Board of Directors was aware would upset some portion of the community. This deceit came in direct conflict with my moral and ethical codes of conduct.” There are also reportedly some copyright issues involving the printing and publication of the two versions of the festival booklets, which have nothing directly to do with the workshop issue itself. Sage did add that he personally will not be attending the event.
If that sounds familiar it should because that’s the same approach that the organizers of Many Gods West favor. All decisions are made by a cabal without transparency or accountability. Once a decision has been made (such as banning someone for posting satirical critiques of Rhyd’s hysterical rhetoric) there is no process by which it may be appealed (even though numerous people tried to do so.) In fact until everything blew up we had no idea who the organizers of the conference even were beyond spokesperson Niki Whiting – and, as we subsequently discovered, there was good reason for that secrecy.
One of the organizers of the conference is Syren Nagakyrie. If that name isn’t familiar to you it should be. Not only is she a regular contributor to Gods&Radicals, she’s one of its co-founders and their current Treasurer. So while Rhyd has done his best to distance himself publicly from MGW (despite being part of a panel that will be presenting on anti-fascism) in case there’s any blowback from his “righteous” crusade it’s clear that the connections run deep. (Which explains why they were so quick to silence criticism.)
In fact far from being enemies at the gate and radical subversives the Gods&Radicals crowd are deeply enmeshed in mainstream neopaganism. When Rhyd made his backpedaling quasi-apology once we started calling him out it wasn’t at Gods&Radicals, where the original offending post had appeared, nor even at his personal blog as one might expect – but at Patheos Pagan, where he used to write and where several of his fellow G&R comrades such as John Halstead currently blog. He is also a frequent contributor to The Wild Hunt and for several years has been a fixture of the conference circuit attending and often presenting at events such as the Polytheist Leadership Conference, the Pagan Activist Conference and Pantheacon.
No wonder they don’t want to call out Florida Pagan Gathering and similar venues for inviting people like the Frosts – if you rock the boat too much it might end up costing you speaking gigs or cause Patreon donations to dry up.
Some of us are willing to speak out no matter who it offends or what the consequences are – about real issues and real threats to our communities. (I guess protecting our daughters* from rapists isn’t a political enough issue for them.)
Remember their silence the next time Rhyd and pals make their vile insinuations about Heathens, Druids, Reconstructionists, devotional Polytheists and basically anyone who isn’t part of their clique. More to the point, think long and hard about who they associate with and whether you want to associate with those people too – especially when they’re hosting a conference with such a high price tag attached.
*while abuse happens to children of all genders, the Frosts specifically advocated in their book the abuse of girls.
I was so sorry to miss Many Gods West (MGW) and I really want to thank Rhyd Wildermuth, Niki Whiting, and PSVL for putting it on. I know exactly the amount of hard work and stress that goes into planning and running a conference, and also how necessary this type of work is for community building. Really great job folks. I am so so sorry I wasn’t able to be there. If i weren’t just getting back from a three week pilgrimage and beyond exhausted, I’d have been right there with you all. For those who haven’t had a chance to read the various recaps, I recommend this (John Beckett Rocks!!), this, and this and this. (I so wish i could have attended the Bakcheion rite!) 🙂
Of course not all the recaps were unvarnished delight. I just read Jason Mankey’s account and I have a few things I want to say in response. Firstly, this amuses me to no end. Mankey is so representative of Wiccanate privilege and it saturates everything he sees and everything he writes about especially in this article. Obviously, he was so intensely bothered (he mentions it several times) that what Wiccans do, what Pagans do was largely irrelevant at Many Gods West. He’s rather peevish about it too.
It also seems to really bother him that he wasn’t treated as a celebrity (he goes on a bit about how out he is as a Pagan and how a google search will turn him up *rolls eyes*. Sannion told me that while manning registration to help Rhyd and folks out, Mankey came to check in and was really put off when Sannion didn’t recognize him right away. This really reads as though he wants very much to detract and dismiss and even say nasty things about MGW but can’t come up with a way to do that without looking like total ass lint. The cognitive pain this seems to give him is palpable throughout the article.
I do wonder why he purposely notes “people who self identify as polytheists…” — that’s always warning language in academia– and i wonder why he felt the need to use that particular phrase here, as though casting subtle question on our legitimacy. Of course, it goes without saying that I consider Mankey anything but an ally in our work. I’ve been watching him for awhile now, and while I don’t think he’s as bad as some (di zerega, halstead, et al), I do think he bears watching.
This article is a perfect example: the way he describes us and the conference is very, very subtly condescending. he uses a lot of negative imagery: compares us to a revival meeting (not a positive image if you think about it but rather one that implies blind fundamentalism), questions polytheists’ connectivity and ability to meet our goals, and refers to the MGW key-note as ‘goofy’ (when with decades of service to the Morrigan she is anything but) and note he completely avoids mentioning any of the not insignificant Dionysian presence. This is especially notable when compared with other accounts of the conference, which provide a very different emotional tenor. For instance, this article notes:
“One of the things that I noticed about Many Gods West is that even though the group gathered at the event was diverse and varied with attendees coming from a broad spectrum of religious practices, there was a noticeable air of respect and courtesy towards each other and each other’s practices. As a matter of fact, the only real display of discourtesy that I witnessed came from someone who seemed to be struggling with the feeling that they had of not being included in the Polytheist “group”. I find this very interesting.”
I think Mankey’s article really shows his animosity toward us, and I point that out because it’s a good example of what we all too often face in the Pagan and Wiccan communities.
He talks about how the feelings MGW brought out in him were different from other conferences, and says he doesn’t mean to be bleak….well, reading this, it’s clear that what bothered him was not being in a position of privilege and i think we can all learn from this. His comment that the Pagan umbrella has ‘a lot less leaks when we drink cider” together is telling as well. I think that this is one of the reasons that no matter how hard we try, people constantly want to wrench the work and the focus back to people and not the Gods….it’s less challenging.
In a way, i am really appreciative of Mankey for writing so honestly about this, because it shows the authentic divides between our respective communities and we can’t pretend those don’t exist. The more we are able to recognize our differences, the more we can adequately protect our traditions, and the more we will ultimately be able to get along, but that has to begin with recognition of those differences and respect for space.
EDIT: I apologize if anything I said here was taken as a personal attack on Jason. I had no intention of hurting him and this is the farthest thing from personal for me. This is about theology, ideas, and community politics. I try to leave my personal feelings about people out of those discussions (and i have no personal feelings toward Jason. I don’t know him). That being said, I realize that this is a medium of communication prone to misunderstanding and I take full responsibility for my the consequences of my words intentional and others; and i want to take special care here to make it clear, that despite my stated objections above, I have no ill will toward Jason personally and respect what he’s doing for his Gods and community. We need all our voices to make Polytheism and Paganism grow.