Here is a very good post by Tess Dawson on why we might want to rethink naming pets after Gods. (I’ve always loathed the trend personally). She also brings up the idea of ‘reading in good faith,’ in other words, not assuming that the writer is out to rain on your personal parade, but actually reading as though there might be something worth sharing here. Good thoughts both.
John Halstead is now writing for Gods and Radicals. That pretty much says it all for me. If I ever doubted that the political radical part of things took significant precedence over the Gods part of that equation for these people, I can put my mind at rest. It’s obvious where they stand. I’ve been noticing for a while now that this group seems to be subtly attacking polytheists who are more interested in building the tradition and in devotion than in exchanging religion for pseudo-social justice work and anarchic politics. I can’t help but wonder if that wasn’t the real reason Sannion was disinvited from Many Gods West.
After all, Halstead keeps taking digs at polytheism. His latest, which Tess Dawson brilliantly calls out here, dismisses polytheism as having been inspired by Neil Gaiman’s writing.* Apparently, we can’t simply enjoy an author’s work without having some pitiful non-theist use that enjoyment to imply that our religion is fiction. Knowing that the topic of pop-culture Paganism is a hot-button one within Polytheist circles, Halstead no doubt purposely links the rise of polytheism to pop culture, thus attempting to create animosity within polytheism itself.
Gods and Radicals, Rhyd, and those he’s allied with are free to bring any columnist they want on board their journal and site. We are free to look very carefully at their choices and to make our own decisions about what they mean. Halstead has been trying to find an entry into the polytheist community for years now, despite being a non-theist, and despite having contempt for everything that polytheism stands for. He must be ecstatic that Rhyd has welcomed him with open arms.**
It’s enough to make one ask where the Gods are in Gods and Radicals. I’m still looking.
*Modern polytheism existed in the US for decades before Gaiman wrote his first book, Heathenry and Asatru since the sixties, Hellenic and Celtic polytheisms a little after that (as any unified thing), much earlier than even this if we count the Romantic period.
**Thus undercutting the work of many other polytheists who actually give a damn about the future of our traditions.
Here is a really good article by Tess Dawson on specificity, respect, and the Gods. It’s a good and thought-provoking read.
“Full deity-names are sacred and important. When used in their entirety, full names denote a specific deity in a specific set of relationships. This is important information to keep at the forefront of our minds, so let’s start using these full names more often. Names often reference relationships including connections with a locale, associations with animals or plants, or activities, or roles, or offices, or particular groups of people, or many other relationships and complex layered relationships.
Note that I said deity-names when used in their entirety. The problem is that we often do not use divine names in their entirety, and thus we’re missing some of the context. There’s a deep-seated omission that many of us engage in, even though we usually don’t know we’re doing it. It is a bad habit, a behavioral holdover, from living in cultures that reduce the deities out of existence—to two gods, one god, or no god. When we don’t use full names which detail these contexts and relationships, we’re missing information and we run the risk of not knowing exactly who it is we’re working with—even though we know we’re not working with two, one, or no gods, we end up still accidentally reducing to a few what are really many more.”
I’m really, really glad to see this being discussed.
Tess Dawson has written a very thoughtful piece here. In it, she discusses the brouhaha over that Port Townsend couple who live their lives as though they’re in the Victorian period.
I’m glad for this article. I’ve been following some of the backlash against the Chrismans (up to and including assault on Sarah Chrisman’s person) and finding it more and more disturbing. I couldn’t figure out why it was sticking with me so but I think Tess really brings home why this is relevant to us as polytheists.