Druid elder and respected environmental activist John Michael Greer has provided some reasoned and well balanced commentary on the situation with G&R and Rhyd:
History shows that when a religion discards its deities, politics fills the void that the gods leave behind. The result does not keep well. Liberal Christianity in the United States made that choice in the 1960s, discarding its faith in the Risen Christ in favor of agnosticism and social-justice activism, which is why churches that dominated the American religious scene in the middle of the 20th century are now selling their buildings, going to part-time unpaid clergy, and facing extinction once the remaining parishioners die off or get bored and wander away. That’s beginning to happen to eclectic Paganism right now.
Read the full article here.
Lucius Helson has a final solution for our Pagan Problems here.
They’re going to have to go to the elders who have so long been abused, get down on their knees and say “I’m sorry for what has happened. I am sorry I didn’t do enough to stop it. But let us try again, together, the right way. With respect for you, and knowledge for me.” And elders are going to have to understand that the days of fame and fortune are over…for now. Their best gifts will not earn them money, but can earn the respect and honor, places of privilege within their own religions traditions. And then, down the line, fortunes may come, because people want solidity in their religions, something unique, fulfilling, and immutable. Practice that, preach that, enforce that, and you will find people come to you much more than they ever have to something homogeneous.
Gods and Radicals blogger C. S. Thompson and his comrades perpetuate racist stereotypes about African Traditional Religions here:
As we were making our introductions, another protester walked by carrying an effigy of Donald Trump, filled with needles and pins like a so-called “voodoo doll.” Surprisingly enough, this led to a debate between two of my comrades over the relative merits of Vodou and Santeria! (Neither of which actually uses this type of magic, but that’s beside the point.) I turned to them and said “whatever gets the job done” and they burst out laughing. That was the end of the debate.
and finally, on account of this and more, Hellenic polytheist Julia Ergane is calling for a boycott of Many Gods West here. I think we can all see why.
I am urging that people of good will and ethics to BOYCOTT the Many Gods West conference. In addition, I also do not TRUST the bona fides of the organizers for this conference. If you already have reservations — cancel them. If you are a presenter — cancel your appearance. People who are enmired in the amount of miasma that these organizers have perpetuated will imbue the conference with it. Do Not be a party to it!
That is all for now, folks.
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.
Not only has Rhyd mocked homeless veterans and compared police officers to terrorists; he has also tried to smear Hindus engaged in resisting Muslim forced conversion and joked about advocating the genocide of the Yezidi.
But what else would you expect from a self-confessed Marxist?
Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class. (V. I. Lenin, “About the attitude of the working party toward the religion“)
[If] Marxist thinking and the notion of a historical dialectic were finally proven correct, then American Indian people and all [I]ndigenous peoples would be doomed. Our cultures and value systems, our spirituality, and even our social structures, would give way to an emergent socialist structure that would impose a notion of the good on all people regardless of ethnicity and culture. (George Tinker, as quoted by David Bedford in “Marxism and the Aboriginal Question: The Tragedy of Progress“)
Marxism isn’t just a failed economic policy – it’s responsible for more deaths and the destruction of more ancestral traditions during the 20th century than all the monotheisms put together, and that’s saying something since they weren’t exactly resting on their laurels!
What, you forget so quickly?
My immediate ancestors died fighting against the Nazis and Soviets so I have a personal investment in remembering the atrocities committed in the name of Marx.
You know, like what happened to the Lithuanians:
The Lithuanian pagan movement was stopped by Soviet occupation in 1940. The Soviet Union forcefully annexed Lithuania in 1940 and renamed it the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Due to the nationalist nature of Romuva, the faith was suppressed during the Soviet occupation and many practitioners were executed or deported to forced labor camps in Siberia. After Joseph Stalin’s death the cultural life became more free. A clandestine Romuva group is known to have existed within a labor camp in Inta, Russia. After the members were released and returned to Lithuania around 1960, some of these practitioners, along with Jonas Trinkūnas, formed the Vilnius Ethnological Ramuva and began organizing public celebrations of traditional Lithuanian religious holidays, starting with Rasos festival in 1967. In 1971 the Soviets expelled the members from the university they attended and exiled the leaders. By 1988, when the power of the Soviet Union was waning and Lithuanian independence was on the horizon, Romuva groups began reorganizing in the Baltic nations and practising their religion in the open.
Or the Setos:
“The biggest threat during my lifetime was the beginning of the Soviet occupation in the 1940s,” Kala Maria says. “We were really afraid and we had to hide all the silver and all of our national costumes. We didn’t dare to sing because people were arrested and deported. We just did not know what would happen next. It was forbidden even to speak the Seto language.”
Or the Mari:
The collectivization of agriculture, which began in the late 1920s, heavily affected the Mari and other Finno-Ugric peoples who were predominantly peasant. During this campaign, private land was expropriated and the owners were made to join collective farms under the threat of deportation to labor camps.31 In the mid-1930s, Mari cultural life suffered a serious blow when a great number of Mari writers, teachers, scholars, scientists and artists were killed or imprisoned. While it has not been possible to document the full effects of these purges, it has been estimated that as many as 2,000 Mari intellectuals may have been murdered.
Or the Buryat:
Under Soviet ideology, shamans were regarded as particularly dangerous, savage purveyors of cultic and primitive religious practice. To that end, shamans were often cast out of mainstream Soviet society, denounced formally by the government, and denied basic rights such as suffrage. In addition to the shaman’s status as a religious professional, the Soviet government also attempted to extirpate shamans during the Stalinist purges because of their ability to act as powerful sources of resistance, working to undermine Soviet governmental structures in order to preserve indigenous culture. In the eyes of the Soviets, shamans were powerful symbols of anti-revolutionary subversion that needed to be forcefully suppressed in order for communist ideology to take hold in Siberia. As such, any shamanic practice during the Soviet era was forced underground. In this same vein, Soviet leaders in Moscow developed an aggressive campaign of “Russification” during the mid-twentieth century that sought to modernize the indigenous peoples of Siberia. In the Buryat ASSR, for example, public schools were forced to stop teaching the Buryat language and Mongolian script; traditional forms of art were proscribed; and any discussion of traditional Buryat heroes, such as the Mongol King Geser, was banned outright. At the heart of these nationalization efforts was an attempt to downplay the ethnic and cultural similarities between Siberian indigenous communities and Eastern Asia. Although the most violent era of the Soviet period came to a close with Stalin’s death in 1953, shamanism remained heavily persecuted during the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras.
Or the Khanty:
Already in 1926 “the crime–prevention committee in the Tobolsk region decided to consider shamanism as a crime, and hence used the militia to persecute shamans who insisted young people should participate in worship or in sacrificial rituals (Glavatskaia online:21). The aftermath of the Kazym Rebellion of 1933 further complicated the situation. After the happenings of the rebellion every manifestation of shamanic culture such as owning a shaman drum was declared illegal and subjected to persecution. Anyone who took part in the Bear Funeral Rites or other rituals of Khanty culture was subject to 10 years imprisonment. Bear hunting was also forbidden and anything connected with Khanty culture, such as sacred ground, pagan shrines or burial grounds were destroyed. These laws were only relaxed during the 1980s as part of the glasnost policies of Mikhail Gorbachev.
Or the Tuvans:
A census by the Tuvan People’s Republic in 1931, 13 years before it became part of the Soviet Union, reports that 82.2% of Tuvans were nomads with set migratory routes. The country had 725 shamans, just under half of them women (1). Tuva was incorporated into the Soviet Union on Stalin’s orders in 1944. The republic’s 32 Buddhist temples were destroyed and Buddhist lamas and animist shamans were persecuted and often killed. Despite stiff resistance by the nomadic population, farming was eventually collectivised, new animal breeds were introduced and crops were grown that required heavy quantities of fertilisers, which steadily degraded the land. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, there has been a resurgence of cultural life in Tuva. Nomadic lifestyles and migration patterns have returned. Interdependence with nature is deeply ingrained in the Tuvan psyche and fundamental to their way of thinking. There is a strong tradition of respect for natural places.
Or the Darhads:
During the Soviet era, all religion, including the shamanic tradition, was suppressed. Many shamans died in labor camps. “A shaman I knew named Gombo got caught during a ritual and was sent to jail for a year and a half,” Nergui said. By the time Nergui started practicing, the worst of the purge was over, but shamanism was still forbidden, and shamans had to perform in secret. “We hid our religion so that it wouldn’t fade away,” he said. “There were two places where we would do the ritual. The first one was at home, and we would have somebody sit by the door to see if anyone was coming. The second place was hidden in the mountains. Then around 1995, things changed, and we could practice freely.” Indeed, shamanism is now undergoing a great reawakening throughout its historic heartland in Central Asia, Siberia, and Mongolia—feeding a spiritual craving after 70 years of enforced atheism.
Or the Yakut:
Many of the more traditional aspects of Sakha culture were not valued by the Bolsheviks. As early as 1924, Moscow outlawed Shamanism, although the practice persisted in surreptitious form. Stalin’s regime went so far as to ban the summer solstice festival (Ysyakh), the Yakut’s major annual event. As horses play a major role in Yakut culture, they are also central to the celebration of the Ysyakh, which involves the consumption of fermented mare’s milk, tethering a horse to a pole and circle dancing around it, as well as horse (or reindeer) racing. The holiday was much beloved among the Yakut, and after Stalin’s death it began to revive. In the 1930s, the Soviet government mandated agricultural collectivization in Yakutia, disrupting the rural economy. Enforced grain production was particularly damaging. Guided by the irrationally optimistic ideas of Trofim Lysenko, the state insisted on arable agriculture even in such impossible environments as that of frigid Verkhoyansk. As plowing advanced in central Yakutia, hay harvests were compromised, increasing livestock mortality and in some locales generating a human subsistence crisis. Some scholars have argued that hunger and malnutrition resulting from the period resulted in a decline in the Yakut total population from 240,500 in 1926 to 236,700 in 1959. In the early 1950s, an official Soviet campaign targeted the “ideological faults” and “bourgeois nationalism” of prominent Yakut writers, although after Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956, such strictures were relaxed. The ruinous agricultural projects also came to an end with Stalin’s demise. In the area studied by Terry Jordan-Bychkov and Bella Bychkova Jordan, grain fields in the early 1950s had yielded a miserable 196 pounds per acre, one seventh the amount necessary to break even. They provide a revealing anecdote: “Viewing a dead grainfield, the villagers reputedly indulged in a sarcastic verbal tribute: ‘Comrade Stalin is a great agronomist.’”
Or the h’Mong:
Unsurprisingly, from the viewpoint of Marxist-Leninsts, the majority of peoples of Africa, Asia and America were not seen as comparably developed and were thus either repressed or coerced into larger and more efficient economic units – the nungs in Vietnam under Ho Chi Min, the Miskitu indigenous tribes of eastern Nicaragua under the Sandinistas and the h’Mong in Laos under the North Vietnamese-allied Pathet Lao, among them. […] Subsequently, the Pathet Lao based itself in the middle of h’Mong territory and brought in Vietnamese forces to the area, forces comprised of cadres who traditionally harbored disdain for tribal groups such as the h’Mong as evidenced by their referral to the h’Mong as “moi” – a Vietnamese epithet meaning subhuman or savage. […] It is estimated that by 1970, 250,000 of the approximately 300,000 h’Mong had been displaced from their homeland and scattered among refugee camps along the Lao-Thai border. As Churchill writes, “The culture and society for which they had fought so hard and suffered so much was shattered.” From these historical recurrences, it would be easy to conclude that there is an insurmountable incompatibility between Marxist and indigenous struggles rooted theoretically in Marxism’s problem of economic determinism and human chauvinism, and practically in the selective and Eurocentric employment of the notion of the right to self-determination.
Or the Cambodians:
In 1975 when the communist Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, they tried to completely destroy Buddhism and very nearly succeeded. By the time of the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, nearly every monk and religious intellectual had been either murdered or driven into exile, and nearly every temple and Buddhist temple and library had been destroyed. The Khmer Rouge policies towards Buddhism- which included the forcible disrobing of monks, the destruction of monasteries, and, ultimately, the execution of uncooperative monks effectively destroyed Cambodia’s Buddhist institutions. Monks who did not flee and avoided execution lived among the laity, sometimes secretly performing Buddhist rituals for the sick or afflicted. Estimates vary regarding the number of monks in Cambodia prior to the ascension of the Khmer Rouge, ranging between 65,000 and 80,000. By the time of the Buddhist restoration in the early 1980s, the number of Cambodian monks worldwide was estimated to be less than 3,000.
Or adherents of Falun Gong:
The campaign of persecution has been generated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China , is carried out by government officials and police at all levels, and has permeated every segment of society and every level of government in the People’s Republic of China […] Vital organs including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas were systematically harvested from Falun Gong practitioners at Sujiatan Hospital, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, beginning in 2001. The practitioners were given injections to induce heart failure, and therefore were killed in the course of the organ harvesting operations or immediately thereafter […] Almost every woman’s genitals and breasts or every man’s genitals have been sexually assaulted during the persecution in a most vulgar fashion. […] the persecution of Falun Gong amounts to genocide as defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Or the Tibetans:
The Tibetan Government in Exile reports that 6,000 monasteries were destroyed by the Chinese armies in the first decade of their rule in Tibet. More than a million deaths have been attributed to Chinese oppression. Tibetans have been subject to mass reeducation programs, and resistance has meant abuse, rape, torture, and imprisonment. One nun gave this testimony of her beating by Chinese guards: “They told me to take off my clothes. They made me take off everything. They told me to lie with my face down, and started beating me with sticks. I died with shame as so many people were watching. Later the beating was so unbearable that I forgot about my shame.”
Or countless others.
Paganism in general—and apparently Devotional and Reconstructionist Polytheism in particular—have been long overdue for a reckoning.
I think the only responsible thing to do is take him at his word.
One of the dangers of the rhetoric that Rhyd is using is that it makes you forget we’re talking about real people.
War is when groups of people murder each other.
All the narratives of ‘nobility,’ ‘duty’,’service,’ and the pretty archetype of ‘warrior’ are just romantic ways of getting the murderers and their communities to be okay with it all.
And under Capital, those murderers also happen to be workers like the rest of us.
Like us, they’re hired by leaders and the rich to do their bidding.
I’m a social worker. People like to tell me how much they respect my job. I tell them not to: I get paid to get homeless people off the street so they don’t disrupt the lives of better paid workers.
We ‘respect’ the work of soldiers
but a few (including some of my veteran friends) will remind others that they get paid to murder people in other lands so the rich can secure their wealth.
Oh look: Rhyd is disrespecting veterans, not for the first time shitting on the men and women who serve in the military. Why am I not surprised that this man who has never served himself, sees nothing wrong with condemning those who do.
In his article, he calls veterans and soldiers “hired murderers” and when asked in the comments if he felt that way about the men who saved our ancestral lands from Nazis in WWII he responded: “War is when groups of people murder each other. All the narratives of ‘nobility,’ ‘duty’,’service,’ and the pretty archetype of ‘warrior’ are just romantic ways of getting the murderers and their communities to be okay with it all.”
It’s especially egregious coming from someone who claims to be an advocate for the homeless. A terrible percentage of veterans end up homeless upon their return from service. Our nation is apparently perfectly fine with sending them off to die, but not so down with taking care of them once they return. At least 11% of the adult homeless population is comprised of veterans, and almost half of that is made up of young African American and Hispanic men.
You don’t have to hate the men and women who serve just because you have leftist politics. Look at Selena Fox and the amazing work Circle Sanctuary has been doing – for years—with our veterans.
Once again, Rhyd is targeting a vulnerable population. Do we see a pattern, anyone?
Jon Upsal has posted an excellent article here deconstructing the latest attack on our traditions to come out of G&R, in which a writer (who does not deign to share his own religious background) decides that he can fix all of Heathenry’s problems: it just has to forget about the Norse Gods, forget about our traditions, sublimate our theologies and sacred stories to radical left wing politics, and become like Starhawk’s Reclaiming.
This is not the first nor will it be the last salvo in this war started by Rhyd and co. on our traditions, on polytheism itself and at the end of the day, it’s the traditions that matter not the people or the politics. We need to stand together in solidarity because these “gods and radicals” folks are coming for us; they made that quite clear and what’s more important : they’re coming for our traditions. Folks, when someone tells you that they’re coming for you it’s kind of stupid not to listen to them
Rhyd has posted his rebuttal on Patheos and it is, predictably, a reiteration of his original article with a thinly veiled attack against me and John Beckett thrown in for shits and giggles. Just as predictably, he has attempted to make my own political views the center of his argument, despite the fact they are completely irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Let me be very clear: I will stand with any and all polytheists looking to restore their traditions, maintain their traditions, and secure religious space in which our Gods may be properly venerated now and in the generations to come.
That religious space should be a place where all polytheists regardless of their political affiliations can come to honor the Gods because THAT is what polytheism is about: venerating the Gods first and foremost.
The religious is not the political. The religious is about pouring out oneself in homage to the Holy Powers, first, last, and always.
If Rhyd cannot distinguish clearly between politics and religion, then he is a threat to our communities and their religious integrity.
More rebuttals come in by the hour, such as Aed Dubh’s defense of hierarchy:
The Gods are not human. The Gods are greater than humans- in power, in knowledge, in vision, in perspective, in so many things. Of course we’re in a hierarchical relationship with them! I firmly believe that we retain our agency and sovereignty in dealings with them (and I for one believe that if we didn’t, They wouldn’t want to have relationships with us), but still… They are greater than us. Does recognition of that make us somehow more vulnerable to hijacking by the New Right? No.
One of the dangers of Rhyd’s polarizing “Us vs Them” rhetoric is that it actually aids the racists and radical right-wing nutjobs who are attempting to co-opt our traditions, because any criticism of the article is taken by his followers as tacit approval of those elements, as you can see in this exchange on Reddit. (Their tactics are so disgusting and underhanded that I have no intention of quoting anything, but do have a read for yourself.)
Which is why it’s all the more important that people like Markos are speaking up:
I identify as an Apolitical Devotional Polytheist, I have ‘traditionalist’ inclinations but am not a reconstructionist. The only time I am ever involved in politics is when my practices are under threat and I see this as a threat, I’m highly critical of the intention of this statement and have publically pointed out the hypocrisy of the statement.
I therefore fit within the categories of Rhyd’s “New Right”.
The “New Right” Statement enables groups of people to label me, to define me as something I’m not. It gives people the power and justification to bully, to harass, to intimidate, to censor, to ban ANYONE that fits within the broad definitions of “New Right”. These tactics have been already utilised to attack polytheists, not just online. It has serious real world consequences, as proven by the Bakcheion debacle that not only cost the members but also local business real financial consequences.
If folks can’t see what this is, then the Polytheist community is totally broken and lost.
These attacks aren’t just dangerous, they’re flat out wrong, as G. B. Marian eloquently demonstrates:
It seems like the term “devotional polytheist” is becoming a “dirty word” among some of the more outspoken Pagan figureheads, and I can’t seem to figure out why for the life of me. When I refer to myself by this term, I am using it in the simplest way possible. I am a “polytheist” because I believe there are many Gods (though I leave it for others to debate what the Gods actually are), and I am “devotional” because my spirituality revolves around praying and making offerings and keeping shrines to Them (i.e., I don’t really care about magic or spellwork, except when it comes to execration rituals). That’s all there is to it, man. Yes, I worship a Force of Nature that I consider to be infinitely greater than myself, and I believe I’ve been appointed to serve as a priest of this awesome Being; but guess what? Everyone else in my tradition is clergy as well. There is no laity in LV-426 for us to stratify. We make all of our group decisions democratically, and even when we do interact with laity – which for us means anyone who isn’t a devout Seth worshiper – we never treat them like we have all the answers or that they should just do whatever we say. Furthermore, our chief God is not the sort of God who gives commandments or who threatens to punish anyone for disobedience. I can’t speak for other devotional polytheists who are devoted to different Gods, but the idea of mixing Seth and hierarchy has never made any sense to me personally.
And they’re incredibly hypocritical and setting up a double standard, as Jehana Silverwing points out:
It is interesting that the author of the above article considers European or European-descent people fascist if they talk about the loss of their despoiled lands in Europe — but give American Indians a free pass if they do the same (here). Frankly — BOTH groups have a strong case, and the author is just being hypocritical. (Meanwhile, I agree, we of European descent should not appropriate Native American culture for our own ends.)
There are ways to be critical of politicizing threats to our communities – whether from the Left or the Right – without going way off into Cloudcuckoo Land, as Cold Albion does here:
I can totally see newbies and those with axes to grind against various paganisms and polytheisms reading it in a less than critical/charitable manner and being put off/gaining ammunition
On the other side however, when said author is saying, on their publicly accessible Facebook Page “It’s amazing to see members of otherwise well-respected polytheist groups be in full agreement with people who are not only known New Right ideologues, but all out racists.” then I begin to wonder if such generalisations are actually held differently, and the author actually believes the aforementioned groups are somehow inherently racist, or grounded in New Right Thought – after all, doesn’t the article point out that these points of agreement are precisely what supposedly make them vulnerable to the New Right in the first place?
Hitler was a vegetarian. Other vegetarians agree with him on the issue of vegetarianism. Does this mean that all vegetarians agree Hitler fully, on all issues? That all vegetarians concur with Nazi doctrine? I rather doubt it.
Over all I am very proud of how our communities are handling this debate. Keep speaking up folks – but remember, it’s ideas we’re debating, not people however tempting it might be to go there. We don’t have to sink to Rhyd’s level to defend ourselves. We can – and will – do better than that.
It is heartening to see that Pagans and Polytheists from so many traditions are taking a stand against the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the Radicals with Gods contingent.
First up is J. Agathokles who writes:
Throughout the article the author, who was apparently too cowardly to put his/her name under the article, accuses polytheism of being inherently intertwined with far right ideologies of misogyny, ableism, racism/supremacism, nationalism, etc. These things are genuine threats to us, yes, but in my experience they are mostly external ones. I have not yet met a single, genuine polytheist who holds such opinions as part of their religion.
Subsequently Rhyd has been outed as the author of the offensive article, and no doubt there’ll be a backpeddling “apology” forthcoming, but the damage is done and we’ve seen clearly what Rhyd and Co. are about.
And we aren’t having any of it, as evidenced by Keith McCormic’s damning indictment:
In short, the author seeks to build himself up by tearing down others. This is the essence of an abuser. I hate the term “bully” because it minimizes the abuse and seeks to excuse it as mere immaturity or even “natural”. This is abuse. It is the direct attempt to exert artificial hierarchy over others, as bad OR WORSE than the attempt to abuse natural hierarchy by extending it into areas where it does not pertain.
No more should paganism or polytheism regard this article or its author as relevant or important than should a wife regard her husband as wise and fair simply because of the strength of his arm. We rightly decry physical abuse, we sometimes properly address emotional and social abuse. In the face of this article, any sane person wishing to view themselves as just and considered must defy the author in his attempt to assert dominance and control over others by labeling them, falsely and without evidence.
And lest you think this was a one off passionate blunder, Ruadhán J McElroy reminds us:
Rhyd is very careful about his choices of words and phraseology. Plus there’s the fact that Rhyd is a smart man — I’ve not just observed this in his blogging, but also in real life, when I met him at the Polytheist Leadership Conference a couple years ago. He knows good intentions are no excuse for implicitly smearing others in this way (including others who have gone out of their way to support him, give him voice, and recognise the value in much of his words), regardless of the importance of the message that this smear is couched in.
Matt Whealton raises an important point that even those who share these beliefs find such demonizing and polarizing tactics objectionable:
Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.
My reconstructionism is not a-political. I support financially efforts that rebuild and restore the ancient buildings, record them, and employ and train Egyptians to do those things. This is honoring the Gods and ancestors in a way that respects them and their children as well. All their children. It is a way of acting politically too. One that strengthens people who are suffering quite a lot right now. This kind of political action, embedded in a number of contexts, with multiple goals, and using the tools at hand to effect change for individuals in an economic and educational way, is the choice I have made within the ethical framework of my reconstructionist religion. It is real and it is effective.
A point reaffirmed in Tess Dawson’s critique:
A person can indeed have a religion which combines polytheism and politics, and a person can indeed call it a polytheistic religion if it involves some kind of religious regard for many deities (that’s all you need to be called “polytheist”); but a person cannot claim that such an intersection between politics and polytheism is, or should be, the whole of polytheism. A person also cannot claim that such an intersection between a specific political ideology (like socialism or libertarianism) and polytheism is the whole of polytheism. A person also cannot claim that an intersection amidst specific political ideologies and economic ideologies (like socialism and anti-capitalism, or like libertarianism and capitalism,or like socialism and capitalism) is the whole of polytheism.
Which is why what Rhyd is doing is so insidious, as Joe Bloch points out:
Now, you might not agree with me about being folkish. People of goodwill can and will disagree and still be civil. But damn, I would hope that you would agree that there are some things more important than some left-wing political agenda.
Like, you know, the Gods, the faith, and the folk.
The New Right, by his own definition, isn’t fascist. Rhyd even states explicitly that they don’t self-identify as fascist, but then goes on to say that he knows better what lies in their heart (ditto racists). He paints broad swaths of the neopagan community that doesn’t happen to be the tiny segment he’s a part of as under the insidious influence of the New Right (whose stances are only evil to a true left-wing zealot; it’s possible to disagree and not say they’re evil), and gets even his basic facts dead wrong. But worst of all, he places his own petty political axes above the Gods, above the needs of our Heathen and neopagan faiths, and above the folk. Because he thinks he knows better than everyone else, and if you don’t agree, then you’re part of the problem. And if you object, you’re just being emotional and over-reacting.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen shares a story and some videos that will help nuance this conversation, as well as this pointed reminder:
As anyone who has read my blog for a length of time may no doubt recall, I have been dealing with this view inside paganism for a while and have repeatedly said “do not play this game, you will not like where it goes.” Because something inevitably will happen which you play the race/sex/gender/etc game. Eventually the people you call evil for being a different race/sex/gender/etc are going to get tired of being called evil and insist that no, they are good and it is you who is evil.
And that is exactly what the Radicals with Gods crowd want or why else would they be so eager to demonize even those who wish to remain staunchly apolitical as they do here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And dozens of other places on the ‘net.
These people won’t be happy until everyone is at everyone else’s throats and peaceful coexistence and constructive cooperation nothing more than an impossible dream.
Don’t let them win and twist Paganism and Polytheism to their own warped ends.
I don’t give a fuck what you believe, or where you fall on this or other issues. I just want you to be heard. I have no intention of calling the FBI on you for expressing views contrary to my own.
You have a voice. Stand up and use it, before it’s too late.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Kids are playing in the park. Other kids come along and want to take their sandbox away, so they start taunting and threatening them. When the kids, who at first tried to include them in their games and then ignore them when it was clear that is not what they wanted, are finally goaded into responding the bullies then accuse them of being angry and violent and not understanding what was said.
Now that some polytheists are coming forward to express hurt and anger at the things Rhyd said in his article his buddies are jumping in to tell us to chill out and shut up and that what everyone saw in that piece wasn’t actually there.
Here are some snippets from one of the many, many places where this despicable gaslighting and tone-policing is going on:
Its about the ‘New Right’ article that was published on G&R the other day. Some folks apparently can’t read without inserting their own narrative into things.
As to the community hyperbole, grains of truth always cause discomfort.
It’s a case of “if the cap fits, wear it” – and if it doesn’t, then calm down.
Amen! This is going to be a looooong year. The ugly rhetoric is triggered by the most innocuous posts. Getting very old already.
Is it bad to say that I am really glad I have actually important things to worry about and work to tend to, given the circumstances, so I give no fucks for the bullshit spewing from every direction on this one.
Enough of this “boys will be boys,” “but I said I was sorry” bullshit. Take responsibility for your actions people. Just because you didn’t mean to hurt/trigger/threaten/offend someone doesn’t take away from the fact that you did so. Harm is not something a perpetrator gets to decide on. Harm is a subjective experience determined by the person experiencing it. Sometimes that harm is obvious and understandable, sometimes you have to squint and twist yourself like the Gordian Knot to figure out what the hell happened. Regardless, if someone says you violated their safe space then you did so and need to accept the consequences. That means genuinely admitting wrongdoing (or genuinely working to understand why your victim felt harmed and then sincerely apologizing for that harm) and working on making sure it doesn’t happen again. Safe space has to be maintained with sincerity by everyone in it or it falls apart.
You do not get to decide whether our anger at your bullying smear campaign is justified or not and we sure as Hel will not be silenced because you find it inconvenient to consider the consequences of your words.