As many of you know, I get called a nazi pretty regularly. I’m not; in fact, I find Nazism and white supremacy vile (as I’ve articulated numerous times in my work for years), but that doesn’t matter. I even come from a military family with close relatives who fought actual Nazis in WWII and that doesn’t matter either. The only thing that matters is that I won’t be swayed from whatever theological position vis-à-vis our traditions that I’m holding by emotional blackmail and clumsy sophistry, positions that have nothing at all to do with politics.
Because it probably needs to be restated yet again, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia are gross, ugly, and have no place in our traditions. Our Gods are there for those who love and venerate Them. Our traditions are there for those willing to take up the privilege of learning these sacred protocols. But I digress…
This all got me thinking tonight about how many people in Heathenry and in other polytheistic traditions stay quiet on religious matters about which they care deeply because they are afraid of being termed a ‘Nazi.’ Mind you, there are places in the world where people are dying for their Gods and their ancestral ways, places like Brazil for instance where Pentecostal terrorists are murdering Candomble practitioners who refuse conversion and who refuse to desecrate their shrines. Even here in America people can lose their jobs, or custody of their kids for being outed as Polytheists or Pagans. Yet, while devout, committed people fight for their religious freedoms we have anti-theistic Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, and assorted eclectic playgans for whom it’s all make believe (of course, this is not all Wiccans, or all Neo-Pagans but I think you know who you are). We are literally not speaking the same language, practicing anything approximating similar traditions, or even moving in the same intellectual worlds.
So, I wonder how many people are afraid to practice Heathenry or to speak out when these outsiders come into our traditions trying to erase not just basic piety but the polytheism itself at our traditions’ core. Because when those same people cannot “win” a debate by means of fact, and when their emotional blackmail doesn’t work, inevitably cries of “Nazi,” “Racist,” “Patriarchy,” etc. will come next, along with other assorted ad hominems.
Let those things come. At this point, those terms are pretty much meaningless. Such hysterical people have been debasing the intellectual currency of those words and giving openings for actual evil people to prosper. When people who have worked their entire public careers fighting this stuff get labeled “Nazi,” well, when an actual neo-Nazi does, they can just shrug it off. How will interlocutors tell the difference? Every time you call someone a Nazi undeservedly, you’re actually helping the white supremacist movement erode and infiltrate our community. Good job, assholes.
As to my readers, you know what you believe. Any decent person that knows you, knows what you believe and will stand by you knowing such slander to be false. Those that don’t are cowardly parasites and you don’t need them in your life. If people insist on attempting to demean you by such insults, that speaks to their character, not yours. Let them show who they truly are.
Our Gods, our ancestors, our traditions, our communities deserve better and we can be better, do better, and cultivate moral courage in the face of this utter nonsense, because that’s all it is: people with arid theologies, incapable of reasoned debate, oppressed by differing views, and upset that we hold our Gods and traditions more highly and more precious than their feelings. They’re like little yapping terriers that have never been house trained; and that’s about as much import as we should give them.
Don’t be afraid of the words people throw at you. Stand for what you believe in and never let your voice be silenced.
I’m having two simultaneous conversations on twitter right now.
In the first one I’m talking about how vile it is that neo-nazis have appropriated othala and how sickening it is and how we as Heathens have an obligation to speak out against this.
In the second, I’m being called a nazi apologist and people are using articles where I denounce loss of freedom to prove my nazihood.
…all because they’re butthurt that I won’t proselytize, I understand the difference between emotional blackmail, reasoned argument, and fact, and I don’t want to teach a religion I don’t practice! wooooooo
WTF is going on? It’s too early in 2020 for this level of clownery.
I’ve noticed a theme on tumblr, twitter, and elsewhere today: when some of us refuse to turn our religious practices and our traditions into a morass of social justice insanity suddenly we are faced with accusations that our entire religion is appropriative. Think about that: there are those who claim to be Pagan who are purposely trying to discredit entire religions because those religions honor the Gods. Think about that long and hard.
Here’s some of the unmitigated bullshit I’m seeing:
*Asatru is appropriating Icelandic culture (with at least one person asserting that Asatru was started in mid 20thC. in Iceland solely for Icelanders. Um, no. Do some research please. The term was first coined for contemporary practitioners in, I believe, Denmark, in the mid nineteenth-century and the revival of the religion began in the nineteenth century as well. I talk about this in my book “Trangressing Faith”).
*You cannot practice an ATR if you weren’t either raised in it or are a person of color. That’s not true at all as any santero or santera will tell you. There are numerous practitioners carrying licit initiations who are not people of color. They may have a steeper learning curve but they are welcomed by many Houses to the worship of the Orisha. It is not for any outsider to determine who may or may not seek them out.
*My favorite: if you say shamanism, you’re really referring to ‘animism.” Bitches, please, I know how to use language. If I were referring to animism, I’d say so. I do agree that Harner core “shamans” are garbage and this has certainly muddied the waters but anyone actually engaging in shamanism pays them as little mind as possible. We prefer competent people. Harner’s crew does appropriate and dangerously so.
*Then, finally, there’s this gem: you only use Polytheist, or Pagan because you want legitimacy Neo-Pagan doesn’t give you. Um, we use Polytheist because Neo-Pagan is a nebulous term full of half witted people who honor neither gods nor ancestors and who want everything watered down into meaninglessness. We, on the other hand, have traditions, traditiosn with roots going back into the ancient world, we give a shit about them, and prioritize the Gods over your human garbage.
So, maybe stop mentioning traditions and practices and religions that you A) clearly know nothing about, B) don’t comprehend, and C) and are using only to virtue signal for others. I find it quite telling, that the people engaging in this rhetoric are always, ALWAYS either non-theists, or those who think activism equals religious truth and tradition (but whose activism is also always a matter of slandering people with outright lies, posting online, and never actually getting out there and making a difference in the world), or they are solely animists who despise the concept of tradition and especially of initiatory traditions. Well, too bad, sister. Those things exist and they are good and holy.
What is actually going on here is those outside our traditions are spewing this nonsense in exactly the same way they call anyone who disagrees with them ‘nazi’ or ‘racist’ regardless of what political beliefs that person might actually hold. It’s an attempt to destroy our religious traditions because we won’t do it ourselves. It’s an attempt to undermine the people actually practicing, defending, and furthering those traditions. It’s an attempt to again ideologically speaking, smash our shrines, destroy our icons and statues, and condemn the Gods to the pages of history. Resist.
So some tumblr garbage is going after Sannion. “Sannion is a white supremacist.” Bitches, Sannion isn’t white.
Since he refuted their accusation he’s a neo-nazi, they’re now claiming he’s a white supremacist. if so, he’s the worst white supremacist ever. Maybe we’re in some Pagan version of black klansman. lol.
Seriously though, these are the same people that went after Edward for being anti-semitic because of a post where he was CONDEMNING anti-semiticism.
They’re also going after PSVL for having a PhD and being supposedly transphobic, also an astounding accomplishment considering pSVL is meta-gender. (For those who are struggling with the fact e has a PhD, and who criticize eir Academoi Antionou classes on Greco-Roman things, werewolf lore, and Celtic polythism…well if you don’t think those things go together, you don’t know the sources. Guess that PhD comes in handy after all).
This level of stupid has to be willful. No one is born like this. Alternately, this could be an amazing parody account, but somehow, i doubt it.
We’re academic. We’re not nice. We can, however, read.
Today I was checking my Facebook and I came across this gem:
“Notice to my friends-I will not be taking part in or hosting or organizing any [Pagan denomination name’s] rituals or [name of Heathen denomination]’s rituals until I start getting the things I have coming from the Gods and Goddesses. I have grown weary of communing with them, giving them offerings etc to have nothing in return for my connection to them. In my world there is suppose (sic) to be reward or at least confirmation that what I do for them is being put on the balance sheet. So until the scales get balanced in my favor I am withdrawing from all ritual work to honor the Gods until they start to fucking recognize and reward what I have done for them over the years. I will honor my class obligations but beyond that I will be ignoring the Gods.” [I am omitting the name of the author as well as his denoms.]
I’m sure the Gods can hardly contain Their upset at this guy’s decision. SarcasmI sincerely hope this person gets the things he “has coming” from the Gods. Oh, I sincerely do. The level of obtuseness here irritates me but also makes me very sad. Someone hasn’t had very good spiritual direction, at the very least. Now I’m not posting this to shame the poster (If I were, I would have included his name) but because I think this attitude permeates, to varying and lesser degrees, large swaths of our community (especially Heathenry). I rarely see it as clearly articulated as the above, but it’s there coloring, all too often, our devotional lives. I probably should have more compassion but I’ll be honest, I don’t. We should be well beyond this by now and one of the biggest issues with Heathenry today is that we have zero structures in place to provide proper spiritual guidance, to provide good, devout models of how one should engage with the Gods, and most of all, we have zero infrastructures that challenge this outlook. We allow atheists to claim community privilege, we shit on the very idea of proper clergy and specialists, we reify the lore as though we were bible thumping Protestants, mock and spit at devotion, and at every turn we give our Gods nothing. While it’s marginally better than when I first became Heathen thirty years ago, there’s still a terribly long way to go and there shouldn’t be.
We all have our peevish moments before our Gods. Those momentary lapses are not a bad thing. We’re human and our Gods’ awareness and understanding must encompass that, given that They made us. The problems arise when this is a default spiritual setting. WHO THE FUCK ARE WE TO ASSUME THAT THE GODS OWE US ANYTHING? This guy whines about all the things he’s done for the Gods. What? What have you done that possibly abrogates your responsibility as an adult for venerating Them? We do not honor the Gods and ancestors because we want things in return – not unless we’re shallow, selfish, underdeveloped, pathetic human beings. We honor them because it is the right thing to do, because it is our privilege to do so, because establishing and maintaining right relationship with the Powers transforms everything. It elevates us and brings us into balance with the cosmological order that the Gods Themselves established. The Gods OWE us? No, on the contrary: we owe Them EVERYTHING.
Attitudes like those expressed in the quote above are poison. They corrode the health of any spiritual relationship. Devotion shouldn’t happen only when it’s convenient to us. It shouldn’t be predicated on getting our way or getting rewarded in some way – it is not our place to dictate to the Gods. I can hardly believe that I’m having to write this. It is not our place to dictate anything to the Holy Powers. We can ask. We can beg. We can even have our occasional temper tantrums but in the end as adults we must realize that They do not operate according to our whims and whining. I can only imagine what this person’s life is like if this is the attitude he takes with those in it. Our Gods are patient and wait for us to come to Them properly. They wait and encourage us to order our minds and hearts in healthy ways and if we allow ourselves to recognize it, often provide us with everything we possibly might need in order to do so.
The Gods do not require our devotion. We, however, are the better for it. Attitudes like the above, even when one is going through the outward motions of ritual and respect automatically close the door to any blessings They might bestow. And really? Why should They bother? That They so often do is one of the most profound graces of our lives. The least we can do in return it learn to center ourselves rightly before Them. Let us know, now and always, our proper place before the Gods. We’re only hurting ourselves otherwise.
I suppose all examples are valuable, even the negative ones and here we most certainly have a perfect example of how NOT to engage with the Gods, how not to position ourselves vis-à-vis our devotional work, and the attitudes and behaviors not to encourage …if we give a shit that is about our Gods, our traditions, our ancestors, our communities, and our faith.