Blog Archives

Who Owns Your Head?

This morning on Facebook, I was in a brief comment thread about the AFA. They made a Mother’s Day post that got some people’s pussy hats in a twist (which of course, now one cannot read because FB has deleted their page). I don’t care about the AFA, but so much time and energy was being expended in whining about their praise of Aryan Mothers, that I interjected essentially asking “why? Why waste all this time bitching about a group that doesn’t care and isn’t going to change and was willing to boot out a major member, an honorable and devout man because he had a transgender child?” Do you think sending memes to them is going to change their minds? None of us hopefully are that deluded.

Someone fired back that many people assume Heathenry, in all its denominations, is racist because of groups like the AFA. So here are my thoughts on that. Firstly, so what? Are we to define ourselves by the uneducated assumptions of outsiders? Secondly, and more importantly  (and what I posted on fb):

It all comes down to how much space one wants to give them in our heads/minds and practice. They’re going to be doing their thing, but I’d like to see other branches of Heathenry being organized and louder, if that makes sense. what rituals are you doing? What are you reading? How are you living your faith, etc., writing about that, showing through practice that it’s not a racist religion, because in the end, if they take up too much space in our minds, then all we’re doing is giving them more power. I don’t want my practice to be a response to theirs. I want it to be a response to the Gods and my relationship with them. The AFA is irrelevant to that.

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(Not the Aryan mother the AFA was looking for?)

Excellent lecture

I deplore victim and safety culture. Of all the issues facing us as a nation and culture, I think this one is one of the most destructive. This is an excellent mini-lecture by moral philosopher J. Haidt on the topic:

Whistling Dixie While the Country Burns

So having a discussion today with someone who is very much in support of NOLA taking down any monuments of the Confederacy (according to this guy, that’s not ‘destruction’). I’m very much against removing any historical monuments. I don’t think visible erasure of our history is a way of dealing with that history or of healing its wounds and I’m sick of seeing people accommodating this PC agenda. I question what’s next: desecrating the dead by removing their monuments? oh wait, that’s already happened in Confederate cemeteries. 

Now I am no fan of the Confederacy. the history of slavery and human trafficking in this country makes my stomach lurch when I sit and think about it. it’s one of the most shameful periods of our history BUT it’s our history and I don’t think anything good ever came of denying one’s own history. We don’t learn by white washing and pretending things never happened, and we don’t learn by desecrating monuments to the dead.

I would be all for setting up monuments commemorating emancipation, the triumph of the Union, free black communities (NOLA had a thriving free black community since at least the eighteenth century) in the same locales but to erase history well, that leaves us with a generation that doesn’t know where it came from and so can be very easily led to where someone else thinks it should go. I’m never against adding more memorials. It’s the taking away that bothers me.

Someone asked me in one of these discussions whether we shouldn’t prioritize the needs of the living over the dead and I said absolutely not. The dead should and will always take precedence with me. A culture and a people’s worth is determined by how they tend their dead and here’s the thing, if you’re tending your dead rightly and well (which includes holding them accountable for the shit that they did), it will transform how you engage with the living. But in no world should the dead, our ancestors, take second place. Being a functioning human means being in right relationship with the ancestors, the Gods, and the land spirits and that impacts every other living interaction. We don’t achieve that by pandering to a group of PC fanatics who have no long term vision and preach only to sentiment and emotion.

If these monuments are being used by white supremacists to advance their agenda (real white supremacists, not people who refuse to feel guilty for being white), then address that, but don’t think it’s addressed by pretending that history never happened. If you don’t remember your history, you’re guaranteed to repeat it. We’re seeing that in the daily news. These monuments serve as much for warning as they do commemoration.

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OH FFS: On Mike Pence and Marital Ethics

I cannot believe the brouhaha over VP Mike Pence’s comments that he won’t dine alone or meet alone with women in order to protect his marriage. Gods forbid a man make choices that support his personal and religious ethics and commitment to the woman he married. I wasn’t planning on writing anything on this, but having been in two discussions and recently seen the mess at Patheos Pagan portal, I felt moved to weigh in. Pence doesn’t need “consent culture” as Beckett so naively assumes, but maybe Pagans need to develop a sense of traditional values.

While I disagree with almost every point of Pence’s political policy, I fully support the respect and mindfulness with which he treats his marriage. This isn’t a matter of having little respect for women, or of thinking himself incapable of control. It’s a matter of simple common sense. He is refusing to put himself in a situation where A) he might be tempted to break his vows (temptations happen, we’re biological creatures) and B) where he might be perceived as unethical or worse falsely accused. Frankly, given the insanity of the left I don’t blame him one bit. I would never want to put someone I loved through that.

But moreover, this is common policy in some fields. I teach and my supervisors have always told us not to meet privately with students of either gender. We were counseled to always crack a door open and to meet in the department when and where other professors were present. This protects not only the faculty member, but the student too. It’s also not an uncommon practice across religions. This is every day for devout Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and many denominations of Christians. I do this to some degree. Since I married I don’t meet with male clients privately. My work-around is having studio space where someone else is almost always present and I schedule those client meetings when the CPA in the next office over and his receptionist are going to be present. It’s a matter of respect and avoiding the impression of impropriety. (For the record, my husband doesn’t care whether or not I do this and finds it old fashioned and amusing).

The question that I would ask VP Pence, and that I’d drill hard for an answer is this: what are your work-arounds? How do you ensure that these practices don’t unfairly discriminate against your female co workers?

I have quite a lot of religious taboos and I can tell you that there are always work- arounds. There are always ways of accommodating one’s secular work while adhering to one’s religious principles. It takes a bit of thought and sometimes a bit of creativity but there are always ways to accommodate both (or almost always).

I don’t know why everyone is getting so worked up over this. This is their personal choice, the way they respect their commitment to marriage. The only ones who really have a say in this are Pence and his wife and yet even having or presenting a traditional marriage based on values is so shocking in this day and age that all these people need to jump in and tell them that maybe Mrs. Pence should be doing a slutwalk instead. Have any women come forward alleging discrimination by Pence because of this? Would they be happier if his career was mired in the kinds of scandals that Bill Clinton and Anthony Wiener have? Would they be happier if some poor aide was coerced into a sexual situation with him because that’s the norm in DC today? The culture has fallen so low that they can only wallow in degeneracy, promiscuity, and lack of willpower. The idea of holding to a standard is ‘triggering’ to them. It’s not surprising that many of the Pagans speaking about this were the ones who defended Kenny Klein and attacked the family that he abused. This kind of permissive, anything goes attitude, which is in stark contrast to the values of our ancestors, is going to ensure that there is no future for these communities.

Finally, if you value something you make both choices and sacrifices to preserve it. Virtue doesn’t just happen. As any of our ancestors would tell us, it takes thought and constant vigilance. It takes cultivation. Why is it always about sexual permissiveness? If one really values consent, then that includes the decision to abstain from fucking everyone and everything on the planet; it includes the decision to honor one’s commitments. But no, the person with values is always the one attacked because in the end, they don’t want us to have values because values lead to traditions and culture and the ability to see through hardship.

A Valuable Lesson…on what NOT to do

This shows everything NOT to do when you want to work effective magic, up to and including insulting the city and land spirits. 

How utterly pathetic. If you want to be competent, do the opposite of what you see here. 

 

I don’t even know what to call this.

I’ve been watching a lot of videos and seeing facebook posts and various responses to the street theatre clusterfuck masquerading as a magical operation: i.e. self-identified witches and pagans trying to hex our President.

As a polytheist I want to make it clear I and the majority of my co-religionists have no part in this.

Whatever one thinks of our President, he is our president and harming him is going to harm the country. More to the point, there’s going to be backlash, and not just fundy Christian prayer warriors attacking. This is a guy who has never encountered criticism without making a petulant display of a response.

Good job, folks. You stupid fuckwits have managed to undo thirty years of work to legitimize your “spiritualities” in one go. Polytheisms are going to be tarred with the same brush that blackens you unless we clearly distance ourselves from this stupidity. And it is stupidity. Most of these people couldn’t magic themselves out of a paper bag, as is evident by the incompetent ritual that has been proposed as the center piece to this.

I guess actually growing up and becoming engaged in the civic process is too hard for these precious snowflakes. Don’t expect any of us with real religions to put our lives on the line for you. And heads up from a magician: when you do something like this, first rule of thumb: shut the fuck up about it.

pussy-eagle

Nero Looked Out His Window and Watched Rome Burn

A gay, Jewish journalist gives interviews while in hiding as a rioting mob calls for his blood in the streets below.

This isn’t Berlin 1939, it’s Berkeley 2017. It’s not the Nazis we need to worry about; it’s the SJW cultural Marxists.

The social justice left is the biggest threat to freedom in the US, more than anything else, including president Trump and his cabinet. Their willingness to use violence to silence anyone with whom they disagree, their hysterical fear mongering to prevent differing viewpoints from being aired, their slander and libelous attacks on anyone who doesn’t tow their party line, their lack of patriotism, their obvious contempt for America and its constitutionally protected rights, and their obvious indoctrination with cultural Marxism make them a clear and present danger to the security of this nation. We should all be concerned about this and yet, and yet, otherwise intelligent people will look at the political violence, designed to prevent free speech and consider it a good thing. Wake up, folks.

Today there are riots in Berkeley, CA. Fires have been lit, rocks thrown, buildings looted, and an immigrant speaker had to be spirited away by a security detail because of threats to his safety. Berkeley—ironically with its history of defending free speech, you know, the right enshrined in the First Amendment that underpins all our other rights and freedoms—is now the site of riots that are making world news.

Watching this is so surreal because these are the exact same problems we’ve been dealing with in our communities for the past couple of years, just on a large scale and far more dramatically. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a quick refresher). What’s the common denominator? Marxism, always and inevitably. It goes after our fundamental freedoms (especially religious freedoms). And given that we have a generation of students subjected throughout their entire academic career to unthinking cultural Marxist indoctrination (we let all those communists and hippies go into education…bad idea that. They shouldn’t have been let anywhere near academia), they’re ill prepared to connect the historical and ideological dots.

It’s time to get woke, as the left would say, but we need to educate ourselves and wake up to the absolutely nihilistic, ahistorical, anti-theistic, unpatriotic, anti-family, anti-tradition dogma behind their rioting. Social justice? Not hardly. Social justice is a perversion and a mockery in its name. It doesn’t seek actual justice but the enslavement of the masses and if our traditions have any hope of survival, we need to crush this now, inexorably, or they will crush us.

And if you think this is hyperbolic, consider the history of Iran. In the 1950s it was a progressive, modern culture with Western values, women in education, medicine, law and prosperity was high; they had a bright future. Then they started having protests just like this on college campuses, which turned into riots, just like this. Khomeini came to power and now they’re a backward, impoverished, totalitarian state. And the women, their future there isn’t looking so bright. (They sure don’t go around with pussy hats). I could draw similar parallels all the way back to ancient Rome but we don’t need to: this is happening here today. You can either allow it, or stand and resist it, stand in support of our fundamental freedoms as Americans. Drive this communist trash out (with your words, your humor, and your commitment and engagement with the political process – while they go around muttering about punching Nazis and the more delusional among them actually acting on it). I am so deeply ashamed to be an American right now. I have never been more disappointed in this country than I have been today.

Here’s a full news report along with one of those aforementioned interviews:

I can’t believe I have to write this…

I am not an ethicist. Firstly, I belong to Odin; secondly, I find many of the accepted ethics of modernity questionable, so I find it rather amusing in an ironic sort of way that over the past few days I’ve found myself having discussions on just that: ethics, discussions in which I am in the position of defending Enlightenment values. Oh well, I’m sure the denizens of Hell are enjoying their winter sports.

This past week the internet has been cheering the antifa smackdown (literally) of white supremacist Richard Spencer. I’ve found myself in multiple debates with people about whether or not this was an appropriate action. Responses range from “He was a Nazi, we hit Nazis to keep the Holocaust from happening again.” To expressions of delight and the hope that this will become a thing “like the ALS challenge” to various musical remixes being made of the newsclip. Let’s be clear: however vile Spencer’s politics may be, he did not actually physically assault anyone. An Antifa protestor ran up and punched him [at least twice] without any provocation other than Spencer holding an ugly political opinion. Spencer was going to dinner with some reporters when he was sucker punched.

People are arguing that it is ok to do physical violence to those who hold different opinions. Think about that. Think about that for a very long time. That’s not only a violation of free speech, but it’s one hell of a slippery slope.

Let’s be fully honest here: that’s not a principle we should want to establish – just from a practical standpoint. I really don’t think some SJW with a pussy hat and skinny jeans really wants to go up against some average skinhead enforcers. But even if that were not the case, using violence to silence someone because you dislike their opinions is morally reprehensible. It shows the inherent deficiency of your own argument: you can’t persuade someone with your words and reason, instead you have to resort to your fists.

Let’s turn the trope around.

Several years ago, some Heathens publicly stated that I should be raped by a horse and have a gun barrel applied liberally to my temple because they disagreed with my theological opinions. Is that ok? I have opinions that are vile to them, like Loki is worthy of veneration and shamanism is a thing. Guess it’s ok for them to be heading to the stables. It’s open season on Galina. I better not go to the track any time soon. *sarcasm*

Or maybe I should run up and randomly sucker punch the next Muslim guy I meet. I mean after all, he himself may not have ever cut off a woman’s clit, thrown a gay person off a building, or driven a truck into a crowded Christmas market but plenty of his co-religionists have. So if we’re lumping people in and believing in group guilt (hey, who else espoused such a notion? Oh wait, that was one of the central tenets of Nazism) then the poor Muslim dude who just wants to go to dinner and have a nice night out with his family, who happens to practice a monotheistic religion that also includes people like Daesh, well, he’s gonna have a bad night. Is that ok? Guess I should go get my SAP gloves ready.

In case you are struggling with the answer: NO. NO. NONE OF THAT IS OK. Jesus fucking Christ.

What’s the difference in every one of these situations? Ethically: there isn’t one.

Let me now turn this on its end again and make it even more uncomfortable and require a bit of self reflection from some of my readers:

Let’s be perfectly honest here, all of you sitting there gloating and watching these videos of Spencer getting punched over and over again are no different than the Nazis who got off when their mobs would attack Jewish businesses and they would endlessly laugh about it and do cartoons in their newspapers, gloating that these people were finally getting what they deserved. (I’ve heard “well, Spencer and his ilk are calling for our extermination.” Nazis believed the Jewish people were doing the same thing with equally groundless basis and fuck it I can’t believe I’m defending Spencer. I find his politics disgusting but I find this collective madness even more revolting and dangerous).

You guys are the Nazis here, regardless of what political position you actually happen to espouse: you are behaving in the exact same manner as that which you revile. Read your fucking Nietzsche, people. If you can’t look yourself in the mirror now and change this, you’re going to be led down a much darker path in the future, when things really start falling apart. Let us not become the monsters we seek to hunt.

 

A good article on the ethics of this situation may be found here

A Perfect Example of Acedia

Or “I don’t believe in Gods because polytheists are mean. Muh feelings. Muh feminism. The patriarchy.”

My husband is a bit of a provocateur. He often sends me articles of which he thinks I ought to be aware. Today was one such example, though I think he mostly does this to wind me up and get me going. Sometimes I even allow that to work. Like today. I woke up to find this piece of steaming horseshit in my inbox. Because my husband cares.

Ah what the hell. I haven’t gone on a good tear in awhile.

So the author of the aforementioned piece begins by announcing that she has “god-fatigue.” Makes me wonder what the Gods have with us sometimes but oh well, let’s look at the piece paragraph by paragraph. cracks knuckles

After taking a couple of weeks off from blogging, and then being gently informed by my editor that those couple of weeks were actually six months, I realized that I’m burned out on gods.”

Yes, that’s called acedia, and reams of paper have been expended with advice on how to combat its degenerative effects on one’s spiritual life. It’s certainly not something to indulge, nor is it something of which to be proud.

Generations of Christian theologians have written about this particular spiritual vice with a goal of preparing people to combat it. It was once considered one of the eight deadly vices, which Gregory the Great compressed into the seven deadly sins. Acedia is spiritual negligence but it leads to a listlessness and torpor in attending to spiritual duties. John Cassian referred to it as a ‘persistent and obnoxious enemy’ and Psalm 90 calls it the ‘noonday demon.’ (1). It can afflict anyone engaged in spiritual practice and the generally accepted “cure” for this affliction is work: lack of idleness, consistent prayer, more spiritual engagement.

Evagrius of Pontus in his text Praktikos also talks about Acedia and Cassian was deeply influenced by and indebted to this earlier theologian:

The demon of acedia—also called the noonday demon —is the one that causes the most serious trouble of all. He presses his attack upon the monk about the fourth hour and besieges the soul until the eighth hour. First of all he makes it seem that the sun barely moves, if at all, and that the day is fifty hours long. Then he constrains the monk to look constantly out the windows, to walk outside the cell, to gaze carefully at the sun to determine how far it stands from the ninth hour, to look now this way and now that to see if perhaps [one of the brethren appears from his cell]. Then too he instills in the heart of the monk a hatred for the place, a hatred for his very life itself, a hatred for manual labor. He leads him to reflect that charity has departed from among the brethren, that there is no one to give encouragement. Should there be someone at this period who happens to offend him in some way or other, this too the demon uses to contribute further to his hatred. This demon drives him along to desire other sites where he can more easily procure life’s necessities, more readily find work and make a real success of himself. He goes on to suggest that, after all, it is not the place that is the basis of pleasing the Lord. God is to be adored everywhere. He joins to these reflections the memory of his dear ones and of his former way of life. He depicts life stretching out for a long period of time, and brings before the mind’s eye the toil of the ascetic struggle and, as the saying has it, leaves no leaf unturned to induce the monk to forsake his cell and drop out of the fight. No other demon follows close upon the heels of this one (when he is defeated) but only a state of deep peace and inexpressible joy arise out of this struggle.(2)

While Evagrius was writing specifically for monastics, it was understood that acedia wasn’t just something against which monks and nuns had to guard. It could afflict anyone. It’s spiritual laziness, spiritual torpor…I might even go so far as to call it a spiritual depression and it requires treatment. Monks had an advantage over the lay person in that they had a systematized access to teachers, spiritual directors, superiors, etc. Pagans and Polytheists can suffer from acedia too and unlike monks, we don’t generally have access to competent spiritual direction. Our communities just aren’t there yet (as this article so clearly shows. Commentators on the piece are more interested in spewing pseudo-feminist claptrap about “the patriarchy” than offering advice on how to overcome spiritual depression). Acedia is horrible and it can be wrenchingly difficult to haul oneself up out of the pit into which it can thrust a person.

The author of the piece goes on, declaring:

“I never came to Witchcraft for the gods,”

and that says it all right there. But you stayed, you know, so you could do your part in preventing any actual spirituality from happening.

Still further, we’re told:

“…but mythological deities–you know, the ones whose stories you can read at your local public library–hold such a fundamental place in modern Paganism that they quickly seeped into my practice. Starhawk’s writings center on nature, the immanent Goddess, and the horned God; Reclaiming Witchcraft centers on gods from world mythology and folklore to the point that–and this is a very gentle, loving critique–we hold rituals in Redwood forests and on dramatic beaches and give only the most cursory nod to the abundant spirits around us, focusing instead on gods and stories from faraway cultures. I stepped back from my local ritual planning circle in part because we invoked gods even for business meetings, and I was tired of elaborate, theatrical invocations for deities I didn’t care about. Other Reclaimers find deep meaning in the gods they work with, and I’m happy for them. But I eventually had to admit that it wasn’t for me.”

Wow. So you’re shallow and it just rubs you the wrong way that people participating in a RELIGION want to actually focus on Gods (though I agree: nature spirits should also be given their due, especially when in their domain).

I also question the term ‘work with Gods.’ Do we work with Them or honor Them, venerate Them, praise Them, celebrate Them? I know that this term is in common usage and I’ve used it myself in the past but more and more it rubs me the wrong way. What message are we sending when we talk about working with Gods? If it’s the sense that we are in Their employ, well ok. I can see that. Too often though it comes across more as though They are pieces in some game that we’re playing, an attitude that sets my teeth on edge. I think it’s important to be mindful of the language we use in discussing the Gods and in discussing our relationship with Them and I’m aware there’s a learning curve here for all of us. It can be sometimes difficult to find comprehensive terminology for experiences and Beings that seem so far beyond the power of language to adequately describe. It’s important to try though.

Asa continues: “This isn’t to say that I’ve never had good or powerful experiences with gods. I have, and I continue to. It’s just taken me a long time–an embarrassingly long time–to realize that the antlered god I love so fiercely is older and wilder than the embossed silver figure with the Roman name; that statements like “the Morrigan is the goddess of sovereignty” currently accomplish nothing except to carve off and lock away swaths of the Morrigan’s infinite potential; that it really is ridiculous to take stories recorded and adapted by Christians and try to pound them into Pagan orthodoxy. (All the dogma thrown down by thin-skinned BNPs, all the shrieking and squawking between hard polytheists and atheist pagans, haven’t helped, either.)”

The names don’t carve off and lock away anything because actual devotees realize that a name is just that: one way of calling on a tiny part of an enormous Force. They allow us a means of engagement, of interaction but no one with any sense thinks that a single name encompasses the fullness of any Deity.

And all those hard polytheists? They’re engaged in something called theology and tradition-building which is important to people who care about their Gods. It’s how traditions grow and become something that lasts beyond one generation. It’s how we develop praxis that actually keeps the Gods central instead of tangential to our traditions. It’s how we develop theology.

Beyond that, you really shouldn’t be giving people on the internet power over your religious practices and beliefs. If it’s that much of a problem, disengage from the internet and focus on your Gods and spirits. If you don’t think land spirits are getting enough attention, well, work on that, because that’s important. Spirits of the land, spirits of our cities, spirits of place often don’t get the attention or the offerings they deserve. It’s only been in the last seven or eight years that I’ve seen our various communities really grasp the importance of honoring the ancestors. I don’t think as groups that we’re really there yet with land vaettir.

“What is the purpose of this post, exactly? I’m not sure. Partly it’s to explain where I’ve been all these months. And partly it’s to hold myself accountable to the heart of my practice, which I found breathtakingly articulated by Peter Grey when I first discovered his writing: 

‘Witchcraft is quintessentially wild, ambivalent, ambiguous, queer. It is not something that can be socialised, standing as it does in that liminal space between the seen and unseen worlds. Spatially the realm of witchcraft is the hedge, the crossroads, the dreaming point where the world of men and of spirits parlay through the penetrated body of someone who is outside of the normal rules of culture. What makes this all the more vital is the way in which the landscape of witchcraft is changing. Ours is a practice grounded in the land, in the web of spirit relationships, in plant and insect and animal and bird. This is where we must orientate our actions, this is where our loyalty lies’.”

well, accountability is good. It is the heart of any spiritual practice so maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for you yet. Certainly polytheism is deeply relational. It is all about that interconnecting web of relationships: with Gods, ancestors, land spirits, elders, one’s community, one’s family, one’s country, one’s world.

“For many Pagans, working with named and storied gods reinforces their connection to the land. That’s beautiful and vital and life-giving, and I’m glad that it’s happening.”

…those relationships should be reinforcing relationships with the Gods. Engaging with the Holy Powers shouldn’t have to be a step toward something else, something more human, more oriented to our world for it to be considered valuable. Ever and always it seems the Gods get short-changed.

“For me, though, those names and stories have proven to be a distraction.”

It shouldn’t be. Story is powerful and transformative. If it’s a distraction then perhaps it’s not being engaged with properly. The stories are only the beginning, not scripture, not end-points. This article began by neatly dismissing ‘myth,’ which shows rather a lack of knowledge about what ‘myth’ actually is. μῦθος is story, speech, that which is worthy of being recorded and retold. It has purpose, design, and power. It has the ability to transform the listener. It is a container for Mystery. We can remake ourselves through the power of Story and re-ignite and remake our relationships with our world and our Gods. To dismiss our myths as distractions shows a remarkable lack of both clarity and creativity.

But let us continue, “When I write about deities in public, I find that some readers’ comprehension stops where a god’s name begins (Oh, yes, that god, I’m already an expert in that god, no need to listen further), and accusations of “unverified gnosis” (can you think of a sillier, more pointless term?) take the place of any semblance of theological discussion.

Well, shame on those readers and yes, I agree UPG is the most idiotic expression ever to come into being. It’s often used as a means of shutting down discourse, especially theological discourse. All religion, if we want to think about it academically, might easily be termed UPG. Lack of comprehension on the part of readers is an incitement to better clarity not a reason to stop engaging.

When I call to them in private, the names veil everything around me in a vague demand for reality to conform to some myth. I mean, not all the time. When I see Venus, I smile at Inanna in the sky. I pray to Sophia and to Shekhinah. I pour milk and whiskey for Anu and the Bucca. But it’s a matter of calibration, of catching the moment when the name and the prayer stand in for actual contemplation, when we swap modern Christian hegemony for the hegemony of some other wealthy priesthood from the past.”

Ah, I forget sometimes when dealing with Marxists that anti-theism is at the core of Marxist theories so of course it all eventually comes down to hegemonic structures with them. So sad. Is it any wonder depth of engagement is difficult? It’s actually not a matter of catching the moment when it comes to devotion. It’s a matter of learning to put oneself in the appropriately receptive head and heart-space for engagement to occur. There is an element of surrender there, and the accountability of personal preparation. But I guess Marxists are only good at getting other people to submit.

To continue, “What I’m saying, I suppose, is that despite (because of) Very Serious High Priests and impassioned flame wars, concepts like “Morrigan” or “Cernunnos” have started to feel like brightly colored illustrations in a picture book to me. We can do better with our theology, opening up possibilities instead of shutting them down. (Demands to “verify” gnosis serve only to stamp out any insights that don’t serve the most powerful voices.) Meanwhile, in my own practice, I’ve gone back to my roots, finding the exact same gods I left behind–only older and wiser, with names that are unpronounceable.”

First of all, THEY’RE NOT CONCEPTS. Maybe that’s your problem. Start approaching Them like Beings and not concepts and you won’t have a spiritually empty life. This is what we can learn from our ancestors. But oh, I forgot: Marxist. Ahistorical. I guess following a belief structure (Marxism) that once encouraged throwing shamans out of planes to see if they could fly (and in reality to break the religious structures of indigenous peoples) does put a “fly in the ointment” so to speak, when it comes to serious engagement.(3)

Finally, she concludes, “As I write this, it’s raining in Los Angeles–a precious event that may actually have a chance of pulling us out of our six-year drought. The gratitude coursing through me at the sound of water, the sense of peace I feel when I look out at the winter clouds, is what brought me to Witchcraft. Witchcraft, to me, is keeping my eyes open to the countless spirits and oracles all around me.”

But not Gods apparently. Fuck them I guess.

 

Notes:

  1. See Cassian’s Institutes, Book 10.
  2. Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer, tr. John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1981), pp. 18-19.
  3. See here. It was actually Soviet policy in the early years of the Soviet Union to attack shamans and spiritual leaders int his way.

Post Election Thoughts – Or Why We Shouldn’t Panic

I want to say right off the bat that I voted a straight democratic ticket. While I’m actually more conservative than most democrats, there are a few issues I just can’t compromise upon, so believe me when I say that I was less than thrilled with the outcome of yesterday’s election. That being said…

This is not the end of the world.

Many of my liberal friends were absolutely and utterly convinced that Trump could not and would not win. I wasn’t so sure. In fact, I’ve had a sickening feeling for weeks now that the results were going to turn out pretty much as they have done. Last night, following my facebook feed, I saw people well and truly terrified: that they were going to die, that they would lose their health care, that they would be rounded up and sent to concentration camps, and even a few who are seriously contemplating suicide (please, please talk to someone) because they are so incredibly frightened. To all these hurting, scared people, I want to say, “breathe.” I do not think this is going to be quite so bad as you fear. In fact, many of the things that you’re afraid of now, are things conservatives feared when Obama was elected (no joke, and something I’d forgotten until a friend reminded me).

Two things are important now, well, three actually:

  1. Grieve. I realize for many of you this was a horrifying shock. It’s natural to have an emotional response to that. It’s normal. Let it run its course and seek out whatever support you need.
  1. Don’t let fear rule you. The truth is that we don’t know what Mr. Trump is going to be like in office. There are many, many democrats still in powerful positions, and our governmental system was designed on a system of checks and balances. I understand that you are afraid, but breathe; and finally,
  1. Start planning for mid-term elections. If you don’t like the way this election turned out, start looking ahead at midterm elections, campaigning, writing your representatives, etc. Get more involved in the political process. The world is not going to end. We are not all going to die.

Now for the less popular part of this piece…

I want to say a few words about why I think Mr. Trump won. His victory didn’t surprise me. Part this is because I’ve traveled in middle American, away from the cities within the past three months and I’ve seen the support that he garnered and partly because I don’t just watch mainstream news sources. I watch those news outlets, but I also watch conservative and foreign news outlets. If you only watch mainstream news, then of course it’s easy to think that Trump is the devil, Cheetoh-Hitler, and that this is the collapse of liberty. A broader perspective might be in order.

I think it’s easy when living in a city (like New York, for instance where I work) or working in a largely liberal setting (like academia) or talking only with friends who think similarly to assume that our political views are the correct ones and I see people guilty of this all the time (I see it in myself in the utter contempt in which I hold anti-choice advocates). It’s easy to ignore the other sides’ concerns and I think that’s a good part of what happened. I think that many liberals are convinced that they are morally superior and that if everyone were as educated and enlightened then of course they would support the liberal position. That attitude fosters neither dialogue nor understanding (and let’s be fair, it’s not much better on the other side of the equation). I saw a lot of contempt flying on both sides of the election and I saw very specific concerns not only left unaddressed by the democrats, but treated with outright contempt. As one of my teachers once told me: the moment your contempt shows, you’ve lost.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that a vote for a Trump presidency is a vote for misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I don’t actually think that’s true, though I do certainly see those things in a percentage of his voters. I simply don’t think that Hillary addressed concerns over illegal immigration and Muslim terrorism, two key areas of concern I see in my very conservative friends. I also think that a vote for Trump was a vote against a radical SJW agenda. Let’s just say that riots caused by BLM did not help the democratic cause. Things like this and this and this really did not inspire confidence. I’ve seen consistent concerns about a threat to free speech and personal liberty, concerns that I absolutely admit to sharing, in conservatives  and Hillary’s campaign not only refused to address that but mocked it.

My point is not to assign blame. Someone asked me today what good if any do I see able to come from these election results and I think that it’s a good opportunity to consider our differences and the way we approach them, to look at the bigger picture and what serves our country best in the long run. Where were mistakes made and how can that be corrected in the future?

Maybe first, to believe that there is a future and that there are things that we can do.

I’m horrified at the level of raw terror amongst so many within our communities, fear of loss of life and liberty. Now more than ever is the time for dialogue with those on the opposite end of the spectrum, and coming together within our own communities and groups. I don’t fear a Trump presidency. I’ll admit to fearing a Pence Presidency but I think we have it in our power to stop that in the future.

Other things to consider: almost immediately Trump dropped any “pro-life” statements from his agenda.  His acceptance speech spoke of improving our infrastructure and tending to the cares of veterans (I’m not sanguine ever about any politician fulfilling campaign promises, but it’s significant, I think, that he did not mention God, family values, or any of the buzz words that insane evangelicals cling to, not even to give a passing nod to that group). Most of the states that went for Trump also legalized recreational marijuana. There were several important wins, including a first time Latina Senator and the first openly LGBT governor in OR.    I don’t think things are quite as bleak as we may initially have supposed. I do think this is a wake up call for a liberal party disconnected from working class American concerns. Until a few years ago, Trump was a card carrying democrat. I think it’s important to remember that we don’t know what he really thinks on many issues and we may end up surprised.

I’ve had several relatives ask me how I could vote Hillary, when I don’t particularly like her and my answer is simple: this isn’t the quest for the holy grail. This isn’t some sublime mystical experience, it’s the very practical act of choosing the candidate that one believes will move this country toward the goals one wishes to see enacted. We make the best reasoned choice from the candidates given us. I don’t expect any politician to be lily white. If they weren’t corrupt, I suspect they wouldn’t have gotten as high in their political parties as they did. I’ve read political narratives from the ancient world through to our modern era and nothing ever really changes there. The ones who want power probably shouldn’t have it handed to them! We must, however, make do with what we have.

I read an interesting comment from a FB friend LF re. the Gods and this election. LF said that she couldn’t pray for the outcome of the election because the election of a country’s leader was something of the human realm. It was the responsibility of human beings – us—to do wisely and well. It wasn’t something in which the Gods should get involved (I’m simplifying her argument somewhat). That really stood out to me and I thought ‘yes, this is our job.’ Maybe we can use this election to consider how to approach that job well. I will say this, out of all the elections that I can remember, this one seems to have had people most furiously engaged. That’s a good thing: we should be invested and engaged in the future. Maybe with this election behind us, we can learn how to do that more effectively.

I’m going to end this with a quote by C. S. Lewis that a reader posted earlier today, food to consider, for those disappointed with this election’s outcome. It certainly made me reconsider:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. “