Did Prince die a Jehovah’s Witness?

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Third-eye embraced by Prince is a Hindu icon

I sure hope not.

While I wouldn’t go as far as saying he’d converted to Hindu (simply don’t have enough evidence of that to build on), a LOT of his work from the 1980s and early ’90s always struck me as more “freeform Gnostic” than traditionally Christian. Though it would be ludicrous to say the Jehovah’s Witnesses had no impact on his last years, I think his adoption of Hindu-influenced icons and imagery from approximately the LotusFlow3r album to the end is enough to suggest that he’d been quietly distancing himself from that path as he found himself back on the one he’d already been treading.


This has been a hard year on me. Another tattoo will come after the luna moth is coloured in. This is another that’s been a long time coming, but with another addition.

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Some difficult questions

I’m pretty far-left by US standards, and seem in line with European Libertarian Socialists and Social Democrats. My political views have more in common with the core Gods & Radicals staff than they don’t, and because, like the G&R core staff, I see the personal as political, and my religion and religious practises influences my politics (though, unlike the G&R core staff, not to the point of being driven to political activism as an act of devotion).

Now, I’m directing several questions to Rhyd Wildermuth, in specific, but any of the G&R writers, especially within its core staff, are certainly free to answer, as I recognise that the publication is not a monolith with every member in total agreement with each-other:

1: Many writing for Gods & Radicals have said things, on that blog and in their more personal spaces, that are implicitly or explicitly anti-tech. As technological advances have thrived outside of Kapitalist societies (arguably moreso than within Kapitalism), how is this thought reconciled within anti-Kapitalist thought?

2: For those more on the Socialist / Marxist end of anti-Kapitalism, while also entertaining anti-tech thought, would your “revolution” necessitate not seizing the means of production by the workers of the tech industry, but also dismantling it?

3: If Fascism, as Amy Hale and her fandom allege (and some others who don’t rub me wrong enough to recall), is often marked by a distrust of not merely modernist thought, but modern life, in general, and entertains notions of returning to a (typically fictitious) pre-modern / traditional “golden age”, how is this resolved among anti-Fascists who hail Amy Hale while having tendencies toward romanticising pre-tech societies as a “purer” way of life with fewer “distractions” from “what’s really important”? By the logic of presenting a distrust of progress in all walks of life as a vulnerability to Fascism and Fascist infiltration, by a person who, himthemself, has displayed numerous thoughts, that they distrust certain progresses of civilisation cherry-picked to romanticise a previous period (which is also a warning sign of Fascist thought, as per Hale), isn’t that basically the fallacy of the pot-calling-kettle-black? If it somehow is not, can this be explained to me? (This one being especially directed at Rhyd, who not only has made the bizarre decision, which he ostensibly stands by, of asserting that his group, The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, is somehow “fiercely egalitarian” but which actually functions in a system other OBOD member John Beckett has said is more akin to a benevolent dictatorship [and every Fascist government in to date has been a dictatorship, as well], but who has also written several pieces and FB statuses, where he is clearly anti-tech, with little discrimination noted in his criticisms of “modern comforts”.)

4: (Last tech-related question, I promise.) What would one propose become of those of us who need the current “modern comforts” as a matter of our very survival? Asking us to do without after stripping down the current system to build anew, how shall we acquire our medications and devices that help keep us alive?

As much as I like to entertain the theoretical notion of returning to an ancient model for gender diversity, in the here and now, that’s nothing but contrived TERF platitudes used to rationalise why we shouldn’t seek or be denied care. PSVL relies on an insulin drip, which e has made no secret. In this somehow inexplicably anti-Fascist neo-luddite appeal to ultra-traditionalism (which is normally fascistic, but somehow rationalised as not, in these statements I see often from far-Left anarchists), expecting us to fend for ourselves is asking us to die — which seems perfectly in-line with the transphobia and ableism of actual fascist regimes of the past. How is this thought reconciled to be anti-fascist?

5: I’ve read, re-read, and played the podcasts multiple times, but for as much as Amy Hale advocates “dismantling the idea of tradition” as an antifa action, I’ve seen no real, practical explanation of how this is even supposed to happen — much less what sense of “tradition” she’s even talking about. With the current flexibility of modern English, at risk of seeming ignorant, I’m going to have to admit, I haven’t a clue what she’s talking about, here, and all I come away with is the idea that I’ve just sat down to a Foucault-Lite serving of Word Salad — an attempt to obfuscate a lack of meaning with gratuitous verbiage. Furthermore, I have very much the same feelings about how loosely she tends to define Fascism, which ultimately puts every pagan and polytheist religion in a state of suspect, if not coresively defining it as inherently fascist, even when it lacks any of the more widely-accepted trademarks of Fascism. I can’t help but feel this is either an example of pointless divisionism, or if it’s really just a call for discussion rather than action (though, if the latter, i have to say, from where I sit, that’s certain been fulfilled to the point that action against covert fascism might actually be necessary, now, especially given the current political climate in the States).

6: While “tribalism”, in its strictest definitions, is certainly exploited in crypto-fascist and New Right organisations, One can’t help but wonder if an aversion to tribalism is little more than an appeal to the globalisation of culture — which relies on colonialism and Kapitalism to acheive. Is tribalism therefore necessarily a trait of New Right / Fascism, or is it an anti-colonialist trait that fascists seek to exploit in the name of Authoritarian Nationalism? Rhyd’s piece (and much of Amy Hale’s writings on this) fails to really address this, and the plain fact that anti-tribalism is a potentially greater threat to pagan communities, in how well anti-tribalism plays with colonialism, and the globalisation of Kapitalism. Tribal identities are arguably necessary in autonomous anarcho-socialist communities, in the necessity that they resist being colonised.

…………….

I still maintain that these discussions are necessary, and yes, I can see how the check-list provided in the piece Rhyd penned are all points that may open a pagan or polytheist group to vulnerabilities toward fascism, but there are still so many gaps I see, especially considering the source, and some clear contradictions I see within the ideals of far-left anarchism when compared to European style Libertarian Democratic Socialism, especially when that far-left anarchist thought is coupled with neo-luddite ideas about “modern comforts” (id est, technology which doesn’t merely make life more convenient, but also simply gives many people the ability to just, you know, live.

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While I see the point in maybe highlighting some of the vulnerabilities in pagan and polytheist communities to New Right ideologies and thus potential infiltration, naming and all-but-naming specific groups of well-established sects, factions, and specific groups of pagans and polytheists is highly problematic (at best), because it subconsciously associates those broadly-defined (and specifically named) groups with the New Right and other forms of Fascism with the reader.

Rhyd’s piece is not completely devoid of value, but his willingness to make an implicit association of pagan groups like Trad Wicca, ADF, Northern Tradition, and more loosely-defined movements like reconstructionism (of which there are formally-associated groups, like Hellenion in the US, and several Celtic groups I know of, but am brain-farting on the names of) and devotional polytheism — that speaks volumes to the notion that he’d constructed this article with a personal agenda in mind.

As i said the other day: He’s smart, and he’s always very careful of the words and phrases he chooses, I have no reason to think that he didn’t know exactly what he was doing with this — especially considering that he made it clear that he was excluding OBOD (a group he’s associated with), Feri, and Reclaiming (groups others in the core G&R team are associated with) from this vague non-association via vulnerable traits. I took note the other day that John Beckett, also associated with OBOD, seems unable to figure out how Rhyd is reasoning that OBOD is somehow “egalitarian” in its set-up, but more like a benevolent “dictatorship” — which is kind of the exact opposite of an egalitarian group, much less a fiercely egalitarian group.

He’s taking digs at great swaths of people for what I can only guess are personal reasons, and he’s couching it in a necessary article. That’s just not cool on so many levels.

I’m all for highlighting vulnerabilities that a group may have, so that we can see what may make it attractive to certain vile political factions, if only for the sake of being on the look out, but the issue comes with listing out specific groups and factions in the manner he did: The juxtaposition of such a list following a clear list of those who are individuals and organisations associated with the New Right. He can add as many disclaimers around the second list as he feels like, he’s already created an association in the minds of the reader.

As much as I appreciate Rhyd’s latest piece on Patheos, which made several clarifications (many unnecessary, for me, but apparently others need it), that doesn’t exactly excuse an ostensibly competent magician from including a section in the offending piece that seemed arranged with little more purpose than to incense others —including myself, and I’m far closer to his part of the political spectrum than I am to that of my other friend, Galina Krasskova. At best, the inclusion seems naïve or ill-thought —I know Rhyd well enough from our (admittedly limited) interactions to know that he is neither.

As several comments on his Patheos follow-up suggested (including members of the G&R writing staff), I’m also of the opinion that what is a relevant, even necessary message, got lost in a sloppy execution. I don’t disagree with him, I disagree with the way in which he put it forward — which distracted a lot of people, making it harder to immediately recognise the New Right from the Distracted Left in his dissenters.

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How did Fascism break the Polytheist Blogosphere?

If you know, let me know, cos I have no fucking idea. The cause is not necessarily as *important* at the fact that suddenly all my blog subscription alerts are all of a sudden all:

“Nazi, Fascist, Nazi, Nazi, Nazi, New Right and Fascists, Neonazis, Donald Duck and Walt Disney, crap n stuff, Henry Ford, Racism in polytheist groups — it’s somehow everywhere and barely anywhere — and did you know about this thing called Nazis? PS: Svastika – Nazi or Buddhist? Who can tell!?”

It’s like some of you people know, instinctively (even those who seem to barely seem to pay any attention to me on Teh Farceborg), that i fell off my bicycle, busted up my knee, and can barely leave the apartment, and i’m already tired of watching Netflix and Hulu, so all i have left to do is READ BLOGS. (Yes, I could probably re-read a few books, or re-watch a few DVDs, but let’s get real, kids…)

First, let’s go to Patheos Pagan’s article from Megan Manson, back in January(!!), which is suddenly in my Disqus Daily Diget comments feed, again, When Hitler Stole Our Symbols. On Facebook,I had this to say:

If you still think the svastika (“manji” in Japanese) is somehow an indefensible symbol if racism and fascism, you are a part of the problem — and I’ll even wager that you’re willing to let the white supremacists win by advocating the suppression of non-white practises, by advocating COLONIALISM, just to make white people more comfortable.

Seriously, I have a brass plate I use for offerings at my Apollon shrine, [it was] salvaged from some stuff a Hindi family at an old apartment complex I [lived] at nine years ago threw away [or rather, they left it in a small box near the building dumpster, apparently unable to take it to one of the local charity shops (for reasons that I’d imagine were ultimately racist and xenophobic), but unwilling to actually throw it away —an act which speaks volumes about the reverence given to the svastika to Hindus]. It has a svastika on it, along with other solar symbolism.

Silent film star Clara Bow, ca. 1924(?), long before the rise of the Nazis.

Silent film star Clara Bow, ca. 1924(?), long before the rise of the Nazis.

The symbol was used by the Boeotian peoples in ancient Greece — its implications and meanings in pre-Christian religions, and as a pre-WWII talisman [and benign decorative symbol] are often [clearly conveyed] in the specific use (how it’s drawn, any accompanying symbolism, any culturally-specific uses that should be clear — especially anywhere in Asia), which is a far cry from the Nazi hakenkruz. Needless to say, I kinda hate explaining this brass plate to anyone who remarks on it (which, so far, has totalled maybe 50% of everyone who’s been in my apartment [which is practically everyone who has actually seen it]), but I’m still going to, because, just like Makoto Watanabe (quoted in Cme Manson’s piece), I believe in education before suppression.

I find it just awful that Japan has seriously considered kowtowing to colonising Westerners who might be uncomfortable with the idea of learning shit about the world around them, such as the real history of a symbol they’ve been propagandised into believing is a universal symbol of hatred due to cultural appropriation. I also find it hell of ironic that a lot of white kids who talk big about how cultural appropriation is just awful will concede to giving white supramicists the solar cross “well, you know, COS NAZIS!!!” —even when it can be clearly demonstrated that the Nazis neither created, nor are the only people continuing to use an equilateral cross with all arms bent in a continuous direction.

By the way, did anyone remember how I went on about the svastika some months ago, right on here and everything? 😀

So, onto other news…

Apparently this happened, last night, and I’m apparently already late to the party with giving my two cents.

While Rhyd (who practically admitted authorship in the comments of John Beckett’s post, which Galina Krasskova was kind enough to highlight here, along with several other bloggers who got to commenting on this before I did) *did* attempt to clarify that none of the named segments of Pagans and Polytheists he names are inherently a part of the New Right he rightly states is necessary to call out from our communities, as John Beckett said in response (on his own blog, not in the G&R comments), Rhyd should know well enough to know that magic (which Rhyd practises) in specific, and people in general simply don’t work that way. One can put all the disclaimers in the world on whatever cockamamie statements they like, but the take-away the reader absorbs is still…

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Beckett is being generous in suggesting that maybe Rhyd didn’t intend this take-away — and I’d be inclined to believe that, if not for the fact that I know that Rhyd is all about social justice movements — hell, one can barely skim through Gods & Radicals for a post by any author without coming across at least a sentence about the importance of gains in the social justice movements — statements I whole-heartedly agree with. That said, again, I find it hard to believe that Rhyd didn’t intend to imply all over the place that Goddess spirituality movements,1 Reconstructed polytheism, devotional polytheists, Druid-influenced groups including ADF(!!!)2 and somehow explicitly excluding OBOD, Feri, and Reclaiming, a group of which Rhyd openly has very close associations, and nearly every Heathen, Norse pagan, and “Northern Tradition” practitioner (the latter being a term just anout anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the Germanic polytheist splintering, even non-Heathens, such as myself, are aware is a term used near-exclusively by Raven Kaldera and his co-religionists — and I can say with confidence that Kaldera is as much a Fascist as he is cisgender), and not to mention a majority of witches (and also somehow more-immune to Fascist vulnerabilities are Feri and Reclaining, groups of which other core members of the G&R writing team have close, well-known associations), for the simple fact that, a common call-out in social justice circles all over the Internet for going on twenty years is this:

Good intentions do not make bad effects magically disappear.

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.

Make no mistake: With the clear political message he’s conveying, I’ve got no real argument, though I think it would’ve been best to explain exactly what it is about things like hierarchies that make religious movements which acknowledge them more vulnerable to fascism. I pick on this point, in particular, for good reason:

Hierarchy actually is a foundation of the natural learning process, as Beckett explains. As I’m learning the philosophy of Erotic Hedonism for my position, I’m not at all on equal ground with Eros, nor ios Eros on equal ground with Nyx, nor Psykhe, nor Hedone. All these tiers have importance, and that importance is relevant when it’s relevant, but let’s be real for a minute:

A small child learning to read isn’t on equal ground with the ones teaching that child to read — hypothetical child can’t just decide that “cat” is pronounced like “floop” because someone let them believe that everyone is on equal ground in all ways, meaning Child gets to decide how “cat” is pronounced because their opinion is equal to Teacher’s.

That’s what hierarchy is, at its core: the root comes from the Greek, hierarkhia, “rule of a high priest”, hierarkhes, “leader of the sacred rites”, and ta hiera, “sacred rites” or “the sacred” — in the modern secular sense, it’s a formal recognition of authority, at its core. We recognise authority in all walks of life, and even in the anarchy endorsed by Rhyd Wildermuth, there are still rules, and the youngest and least experienced who wish to learn more about this from him, even if just by reading his writings online and off, recognise him as an authority on these matters.

It’s the perversion of hierarchy from a sacred order of rites to a pyramid of power and pecking-order within Catholicism, in order to keep the peasants in line, and within Capitalism, in order to keep the peasants in line, and within the more recent advent of Fascist movements, in order to keep the peasants in line, that has made it a “dirty word” in certain socio-political circles. I don’t believe that in clearly political matters, that Capitalism and systems that enforce it, at the only way. I am abhorred by the (many and varied) ideologies of Fascist movements. Having grown up Catholic, and even I can barely understand how the pecking-order of priesthood works, and am far more repulsed by their history of conquest, Colonialism, and suppression of the people in all meaningful ways, there is, though a place for hierarchy —especially in the ancient Hellenic sense of hierarkhia, hierarkhes, and ta hiera, and it’s within my religion. It’s with great apprehension that I’ve taken on the role offered to me of leadership within the school of Erotic Hedonism, because i see what kinds of ship that formal and de-facto leaders in pagan and polytheist communities get, so my primary “silver lining” in taking that is the knowledge that it’s a school of philosophy, which depends on discussions with the students to thrive, though the skeleton of the school is clear and plain to retain its identity, and if a bone breaks, we repain it, with knowledge that new bone tissue much form to hold it back together. Hopefully the distinction between a school of philosophy, mystery cult, and “loosely-defined devotional sect with the strongest voices acting as de-facto leadership”, will make whatever shit I’m destined to put up with minimal, in comparison — in comparison.

…but I digress…

I generally agree with Beckett’s statements that a good portion of Rhyd’s argument is presented fallaciously, and in a manner disturbingly reminiscent of McCarthyism.

Furthermore, the article itself strikes me as an all-but-verbatim transcription of Amy Hale from this old Wild Hunt podcast interview, almost exactly four years old (seriously, what is it about the Vernal Equinox time of year that gets everyone in the polytheist blogosphere talking about Nazis?); the primary difference that keeps Rhyd’s piece reading like a practical Cliff’s Notes of Hale is that he’s included a list of broadly-defined pagan and polytheist movements that are especially vulnerable to Fascism (with an exclusion of groups associated with writers of G&R).

While I absolutely agree with the importance of Rhyd’s message, I find his execution an intentionally infuriating level of ludicrous.

…but that may just be his goal, you know? Maybe he’s just looking for infuriating statements he can make that’ll go viral, drawing G&R a ton of “grassroots word-of-mouth” and give him an even wider audience, no matter how close he gets to borderlining libelous?

I’ve liked Rhyd for a long time; I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says on a lot of topics, but as we all know, we have to pick our own battles, and sometimes it’s just better to shrug and move on. It saddens me that I’m not sure how much longer after this that I even can like Rhyd —not because everyone knows many of the people he was implicitly aligning with Fascist tendencies (even though he was careful to name few names), and i know several people as friends, but because I, as anyone else who’s even a fraction as loud as I am, just have no idea when I’m going to be targeted in an upcoming unnamed attack like this.

I’ve liked him for years, but this has made for a serious breach of trust and respect.


1: practically as a whole, including those who have explicitly separated from the Zsuzsanna Budapest schools on any combination of several ideological grounds
2: He also describes ADF as a “smaller group”, which strikes me as incredibly odd, as it’s literally the biggest pagan and polytheist group in the Midwest, as best as I can tell, considering that, at any pagan gathering I’ve been at, of those affiliated with a group, at least half of them are in ADF, and practically everyone there is at least somewhat familiar with ADF. Maybe it’s just the circles I run in, but calling ADF a “smaller group”, especially a “smaller group” that’s implied to be especially vulnerable to fascism, is very odd —and not to mention, absolutely incendiary.

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Finally!

If you’ve been following me on Instagram or FB, you’d know I’ve recently justified a few tattoos.  These were generally justified on a spiritual level, and cos apparently I’m still in good with the people at Name Brand Tattoo in Ann Arbor, MI, I’ve been able to justify these tatts, financially.

Blackstar:FB_IMG_1457156219134.jpg

I’ve seriously been just barely coping with the news about David Bowie.  I’ve been faking it with telling myself it was all some elaborate Internet hoax.  I barely left my apartment in January, and the data logged on the activity tracker on my phone proves it.

Part of what helped me actually doo things in February, was getting this very early in the month (getting the back-due from my mother’s survivor benefits helped, too, but I also could have easily bought a vacuum and some furniture I got online).  I budgeted for this before I even knew that I was getting any back-due.

 

1334:

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Some of you met me at the Polytheist Leadership Comference, and might’ve noticed a fading bright blue “1334” across my knuckles, very poorly done with a quill pen when I was living in a SRO outside Gary, IN — because that’s how much I had to do.  I’d wanted to get it re-done for years, just to make it actually look good.

Rozz Williams was the first deceased human I ever erected a shrine to, because of how much his work had meant to me.  This was his number, and he was often very mysterious about it.

Ankh:

IMG_20160304_225236.jpg

I know this is traditionally a Kemetic symbol, and I respect that, but it’s also been popular amongst the bohemian set since the 1920s, and goths since the 1980s.  As I see Eros as both the god of Life and as Eros Thanatos, this was important to me to have.

 

My guy at Name Brand, Nick, is also willing to work with my budget on the luna moth tattoo I’ve been wanting to get for a couple years, now, getting it done in a series of sessions over a few months.  The first session is in April.  This will be my Nyx-Moirai-Eros tattoo.

Also:  Yes, getting tattooed on the hands hurts like hell.  Seriously, Unless you’ve got a monster pain tolerance or already are considered “heavily tattooed” by your artist, I’d advise against, for the simple fact that there’s less fat and muscles padding the bon on the top of the hand than on the palms.  Most reputable tattooists won’t even entertain the “job killer” placements –hands, neck, face– on people who aren’t already heavily tatted.  It’s a placement that even I believe must be earned, and I just stumbled into it, because once upon a time, I was bored and 23, and I wanted to get it re-done to good enough to actually reflect the importance of Rozz Williams’ music in my life.  This is not something I’ve taken lightly.  It’s something that I’m proceding with from a point of respect and understanding, especially with an understanding of the fact that I came to this rite, as a modified body, through my own damaging experiences, rather than the traditional manner of of already being extensively modded..

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I haven’t had much to say here, lately. On FaceBook, for the last week-and-a-half, it’s pretty much all been posts of David Bowie.

He didn’t just make it OK to be the weird kid, he made it seem cool. He made it feel like you can be weird, and gender-bent and everything else that isn’t normally applauded, even still today, in this society, and you could still be beautiful and people would love you.

It feels like my world is falling apart. I don’t think I’ll start to feel better until I can express it physically for something beautiful and fitting in its tribute:

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Iolaus has his Herakles, again

And he was alright, the band was altogether
Yes he was alright, the song went on forever
Yes he was awful nice
Really quite out of sight
And he sang all night long

Heracles,_Iolaus_and_Eros_-_Cista_Ficoroni_foot

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How to measure a good life?

It is said that one day in Athens, Plato encountered Diogenes washing lettuces in the market, and said to his fellow philosopher that if he would have only taught the heirs of kings, he would not need to be washing lettuces. In response, Diogenes replied that if Plato had only decided to wash lettuces, he would not need to be coddling heirs.

Both men believed that they were in possession of a good life, free from care and worry, but obviously living very different lives. Certain popular philosophers of modernity would have us believe that there is only one “objectively” correct man (and many would want us to believe that it is Plato). The fact of the matter is, though, that “happiness” is, and always has been, a purely hypothetical concept. While pleasure can be observed through the responses to stimuli of neural preceptors in the brain (and even this, is not a universal truth in defining what is pleasurable stimuli), “happiness” is forever elusive.

Diogenes defined his Happiness as a total freedom from social convention, to the extreme of living as a beggar who slept in a discarded bathtub (ostensibly not surrounded by four walls covered in pictures of shapely tits1 — but who knows what kind of graffiti he may have been surrounded by?)

Plato defined his Happiness from an ivory tower, living, by any definition, not merely a comfortable, but conventionally luxurious life. Though ostensibly not taking payment in money, he clearly took to the habit of, as Aristippus of Cyrene might consider, being in the possession of his pupils/employers.

Of course, as a Hedonist, I prefer to take my tip from Aristippus: I possess, I am not possessed. While my life may, on the surface, seem more in line with portrayals of Socrates’ later years (as portrayed by his biographers of Plato and Xenophon) — subsisting in no small part on disability benefits and gift monies, revelling in a good party but, in no practical way, hosting, etc… — the principle reigns that I’m not possessed by money as much as I possess the pleasures that money can, and cannot, buy.

Money is only of value when it can serve individual goals of pleasure and happiness, to possess more than one needs at any one time is to simply become possessed by it. A good life is not something that can be bought into, it’s something one either possesses or does not, and like any possession, it can be acquired or lost.


1: Likely a very obscure reference, especially to any readers who fancy themselves above watching pornography. If you want to get the ref, though, seek out a bizarre little opus of 1990s titty-flicks called Hootermania. Trust me, it’s *much* weirder than the title suggests, and is especially hilarious to Arthurian nerds.

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Reducing Miasma

As I’m on my way to teaching Erotic Hedonism, in a position of soon-to-be teacher, I’m cutting certain miasmic elements from my day-to-day.

As soon as I’ve finished the last of these cheap turkey dogs in my freezer, I’m cutting factory-farmed meat from my consumption. I’m not cutting meat as a whole, I still believe much of this, like my position on plant sentience, rings true (though some things I’ve rethought on examination of better data), but the conditions of factory-farmed livestock is one I find inherently miasmic, and I’ll be more conscious of meat consumed.

That said, I doubt this will be something expected of all who wish to learn from Erotic Hedonism, but when I pass down my knowledge to an heir to teach it, it will be.

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The Swastika -or- How Cultural Appropriation Hurts

I know I’m a little late to the party in addressing Tom Swiss’ claim that cultural Appropriation does not exist from a couple weeks ago. While I do still stand by my comments that dreadlocked hair is a poor example of “cultural appropriation” of African-Americans (a claim which allegedly instigated his post), as locked hair does occur naturally on the Indian subcontinent and certain Eastern Europen populations, in addition to the African diaspora (it’s even been suggested that locked hair is the real-life origin of the Gorgon mythology of Hellas), I wanted to blog about possibly the most widely-known symbol appropriated in a harmful way by white people that very few people even acknowledge as appropriation:

Artemis as Mistress of the Animals, Boeotian vase, circa 650BCE

Artemis as Mistress of the Animals, Boeotian vase, circa 650BCE

The symbol of the swastika is literally thousands of years old, with the oldest example on ancient artefacts going back to paleolithic Ukraine, about 15,000 years, in a maiandros (“Greek key”) pattern on the torso of a bird figure alongside phallic symbols, suggesting it as a fertility symbol (thus it’s clearest relevance to this blog). Most of the history of the symbol has been relatively benign: It’s apparently decorative or ornamental, showing little indication of strong meaning.

Most defenders of the symbol point to Hinduism, where the Sanskrit name “svastika”, is often translated as “Be Well”, and used as a symbol of austerity, peace, happiness, positive spiritual power (especially when associated with Ganesha). It’s also been given solar associations, and in the States is often acknowledged as a symbol used in some Native American tribes. It probably entered use in Hellenic art from the cultural descendents of the Vinca.

The swastika has also been associated with the triskelion and triskele, common symbols in Pagan circles, with the Triskelion especially prevalent in Sicilian and Manx communities, as it’s a feature on their flags.

Greek Boeotian Kylix

Greek Boeotian Kylix

Appropriation.

While it’s been a long-established that the swastika is practically universal in its use, and one that has been established for having positive meanings and as a benign ornamental design for literally thousands of years, one thing that often gets ignored in defences of the symbol, is the fact that it’s only become so controversial in the West because of cultural appropriation. This fact is also often ignored in discussions of cultural appropriation and how it hurts.

While the symbol is practically universal to humankind, its use by the Third Reich was directly appropriated from its use in Hinduism. This is based largely on a bastardisation of linguistic connections between German and Sanskrit, and inherently racist misinterpretations of Sanskrit literature of the Arya. Hitler took the symbol most-directly from Indian culture as a symbol of political and military power, and with likely occult connotations that don’t actually exist in Hindu literature.

This is the very definition of cultural appropriation: Taking a symbol or cultural item from another culture, and inserting misunderstood, bastardised, or wholly invented meanings into it that the item did not possess, often while penalising the culture of origin.

In German, the Nazi symbol is referred to as the hakenkreuz, and I posit the use of this word to differentiate the Nazi symbol from the correct, traditional uses of the swastika, gammadion (“gamma cross” — a common name in the Anglosphere from the Victorian through 1920s, based on its resemblance to conjoined members of the letter Γ), and menandros symbols, and out of respect to Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain people, who successfully petitioned the EU to drop all plans to ban the swastika in its 25 nations — much like other polytheists have used the title “Daesh” to refer to the terrorist organisation out of respect to Kemetics, Graeco-Aegyptians, and others who honour the goddess Isis/Aset, Whose domains includes love and fertility, and Who is regarded as welcomming of all people, especially the persecuted. For the remainder of this blog, from this post onward, I will use this differentiating terminology.

The hakenkreuz was used less than thirty years as a symbol of Nazi power — less than thirty years! This is after centuries of use of the swastika by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains as a sacred religious symbol and good luck amulet. This is after centuries of use of the Whirling Log on Navajo blankets, and by other Indigenous tribes of the Americas for a wide variety of positive and benign meanings. This is after centuries of use of the gammadion and meandros borders in Hellenic and Graeco-Roman art. This is after centuries of use of the fylfot in heraldic European customs. In less than thirty years, Western people are willing to cave to cultural appropriation, take a symbol from its origins and meanings, and give it away to white Fascists.

This surrender to cultural appropriation is most glaring when the Navajo, Apache, Tohono O’odham, and Hopi tribes of the Americas issued this decree in the early days of WWII:

Because the above ornament which has been a symbol of friendship among our forefathers for many centuries has been desecrated recently by another nation of peoples.

Therefore it is resolved that henceforth from this date on and forever more our tribes renounce the use of the emblem commonly known today as the swastika or fylfot on our blankets, baskets, art objects, sandpainting, and clothing.

This was referenced to me, earlier today, as a decree of solidarity with the Jewish and Romani and others persecuted by the Nazis (and implicitly made by “all” Natives, though a basic websearch has revealed that only four tribes had representatives sign this decree, but you know, people with white privilege making “Native monolith” racist assumptions are nothing new, to me), but in reading this decree, the populations persecuted by the Nazis are not mentioned. All that is stated is that a few hand-picked representatives of a tiny handful of tribes were going to relinquish the symbol and surrender it to cultural appropriation.

This is how cultural appropriation is so insidious: Reading the background on this decree, it’s said that white tourists to Navajo and Hopi and other reservations became nervous and apprehensive at the symbol on blankets and other items for sale. This was financially penalising Native tribes for their use of a symbol that they had used for centuries, that they had joyfully sold to those same tourists only a few years before, because the symbol had been bastardised in just the wrong way by powerful white people! The tribes were left with little choice BUT to surrender the symbol for their livlihoods!

Surrenders of the symbol to cultural appropriation are not limited there; Wikipedia has a very lengthy section of their page on use of the swastika in the West specifically about efforts, largely in the United States, to remove the swastika from historical structures. A search for “Hindu Swastika news” turned up an article about privileged soccer moms of Orange County pressuring a museum to remove a Hindu tapestry, lent by a local family, even though there was a plaque explaining the history of the symbol and its meanings in Hindu culture.

This is EXACTLY the thing that many have talked about over the last two weeks about the definition of cultural appropriation — penalising members of the culture(s) or origin for use of the appropriated symbol.

While it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge that, yes, the hakenkreuz continues to be used by Neonazis and Fascists (and the meandros even appropriated by Greek nationalist fascists), it is equally disingenuous to ignore the fact that it is cultural appropriation when they do so. The fact remains that cultural appropriation is a tool often used by racists, and side-swiping or even ignoring the fact that the Nazi hakenkreuz has been appropriated from Hindu symbolism is, at best, ignorant “accidental racism”, in that it’s giving preference to the white appropriators to the symbol that they stole!

When people reach a point where they are flat-out committing racism to avoid criticism of their ignorant opinions of the swastika, which they’ve decided is the same thing as the Nazi hakenkreuz, the surrender to cultural appropriation has become so insideous that I just don’t have words.

And, to make matters worse, in the West, that surrender to appropriation is so prevalent, that people who should know better, like people in the Pagan community, will avoid calling it the cultural appropriation that it is, either out of ignorance, or out of a useless sense of “white guilt” and fear of being accused, themselves, of being racists, when anyone with any sense will acknowledge that it’s the exact opposite.

The push to acknowledge that cultural appropriation does cause real harm to the cultures stolen from is, at its heart, a movement to avoid this again, but it really cannot be usefully addressed without acknowledging the appropriation of the swastika to the Nazi hakenkreuz as the most glaring example of how cultural appropriation is a tool of institutionalised racism that hurts people on an individual level and entire cultures outside of mainsteam Western whites.

By failing to defend the proper use of the swastika, and by failing to differentiate it from the Nazi hakenkreuz, one continues to surrender the symbol to cultural appropriation, and thus continues an act of institutionalised racism so insideous that one will fight tooth and nail to defend that racism.


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