I don’t know how many of you noticed that the blog was offline for the last week-and-a-half, but it was, due to account suspension from the bill being behind *just enough* to set that in motion.
To prevent this from happening again, I feel it’s in my best interest to move back to WordPress.com, and eventually just discontinue my DreamHost account, since my store on Artfire isn’t yet doing well enough to carry the expense of DH, and just before that happens, I’ll start paying for ad-free WordPress, which is actually a lot cheaper than a fully-hosted DH site.
As best as I can tell, the last eight years of this blog is still importing to http://ofthespiae.wordpress.com, but it’s hard to tell. I may have to stop the import and try again, after I get to the historical museum. I started this last night, and it might be getting stuck.
“You have to deal with it,” he told me in the halls of the old-school Chelsea Hotel, which we were somehow in, even though the rest of the world was still 2016 and not 1984, again — though this was more the vaguely dystopian 1984 from the film Velvet Goldmine. “Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud” was playing over someone’s radio. “They all have to deal with it. It’s what happened, and that’s what people do. Especially people in you position. You have nine years.”
“You and Prince were enough of this! Why do you have to have Peter, too?”
“You can barely compare us, though — Peter hadn’t really made any creative output aside from his image in over fifteen years, and even then, it’d been few and far-between for at least a decade. His flame burned fast and bright, but we were brilliant, and for decades, with careers going back to our teens, image a flash second place to what we could communicate with sound and word. Sure, we all transcended gender in ways very uncomfortable to common people, but… you know.” He almost laughed. “I love him, and I hate saying catty things, but you elevate him with us for the wrong reasons. I’m not saying he’s unimportant, I’m saying you’re giving him more importance than he had for you.”
“I miss you, though.”
“You didn’t know me!” This time, he did laugh. “I know what you mean, though. A lot of people do, especially those like you; the kids who transcended, you lost souls with hearts easily broken, who feel so hard and strong. You need to put in The Work, though.”
“No — just stop. You love me, you want to honour me, then put in The Work.”
“All of it. You’re a creature of senses, you do Work. You work with These,” he held my hands, “with These,” he touched my eyes, “These,” my ears, “This,” my throat, “and This,” my heart. “You do work. You’re far behind where you want to be, but right where you need to be. Just do The Work.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. I love you like Apollon has always loved you, since before you knew me, and long before I knew you. I don’t want to be frustrated with you, though. Just do The Work.”
I’ve taken an apparent hiatus from the blogging because a lot of shit has been going wrong. As overjoyed as I a that my name is now legal and I’m on my way to finally getting my hysterectomy and vaginectomy surgery, a lot of other shit has been going wrong, like a harddrive imploding and needing cleanroom recovery (which I still haven’t the money for), and now the other one I’ve been using to hold music so that I can do my job as a goth DJ just succumbed to the previously-minor corruption I knew was already an issue with that external drive. As if that’s not enough, I’ve been really lonely, and all friends and “friends” alike really have to offer is contrived platitudes and a really insidious blame-game and ineffable failure to acknowledge that they’ve actually played a part in this — because, you know, fuck me and other disabled people who can’t do everything they can do, maybe we should all just stop being lonely and trying to burden others with expressing how they’ve hurt us?
None of this helps the fact that there are people in the polytheist blogosphere who that I like and whose intelligence respect fighting. It’s not helped by the fact that any logical look at all this shit reveals some people are forming sketchy alliances, at best, and others aren’t exactly helping their cases where they’re actually factually correct, to say the least, by refusing to counter allegations with facts, much less answering genuine questions about things they’ve said that could actually benefit for a modicum of clarification for those of us who are either new to these concepts or who just don’t “get it” on our own due to differences in basics of neurology making it so that we literally don’t think in the same ways.
I know I’m pretty damned far from a “big name pagan”, but I’ve actually had a few articles that I’ve posted to this blog cited widely enough on other blogs, including The Wild Hunt and a Patheos site or two, that I feel I should say something, but I can see where certain people on each side are coming from, in spite of what are actually very strong opinions and beliefs — but unfortunately, I’m in a position where my theology sees things one way, meaning I do identify with One Particular Camp rather strongly, and my politics sees a distinct and independent way, meaning that I also identify with Another Particular Camp just as strongly, but somehow I’m able to reconcile this internally, in spite of centuries of Western thought saying I should be conditioned to Pick A Side. I just can’t do that, because it’s just not how my brain functions; it is literally an impossible feat, for me, no matter how often I see someone who I love dearly (whether they’re fully aware of it or not), saying that they can’t trust those of us who can’t take a side.
Then there are Those People, as it’s been said in some corners, who are saying things and at least online-behaving in ways that remind me of Tim Alexander — remember him? That bozo who wanted people to believe that he was so “committed” to Hellenism that he churned out three books in less than eighteen months (at least one of which was about two-thirds appendix of public domain translations of Primary Source), filled three fora he ran with Google AdSense to help supplement his Avon Lady income (though it was basically an open secret that his wife was the household breadwinner), ran a blog filled with attacking at least one of Those People for a good two years, and then literally Shut It All Down from the Internet after he decided to run for local office? Yes, Tim Alexander, who appointed himself King of All Hellenismos, and Ultimate Decider of Who Is and Is Not True Hellenist, who would literally look for any excuse to say that Our Favourite Pagan Pope was somehow just another Fluffy Neopagan (which was one of Timmy’s favourite four-letter-F-words) and Not Worthy of The Gods. I am seeing Timthink being mirrored, and paired with aforementioned sketchy associates, it makes me more sad than anything, really. It just breaks my heart to someone, who I know is better than that, pull this shit because of what I keep learning (often from people who are still his friends though all this) is ultimately personal reasons that initially had little to do with what has since been spun into some kind of holy war that, five years ago, when Tim was spinning shit the same ways, was just laughed off.
I just find it harder and harder to come on here and write anything, in spite of actually developing as a polytheist philosopher of Erotic Hedonism, because the online spaces that used to feel like a retreat from stress are just another stressor, and I’d rather throw out ebryonic ideas for post-series Three’s Company fan-fic to Facebook status updates, because Jack Tripper and Janet Wood are so fucking in love through the whole nine seasons that we can all see why Three’s a Crowd failed as deeply as it did. And Three’s Company was stupid as fuck, too — true, as any show that lasted as long as it did, it had some moments of being genuinely funny, and the casting was great and made it watchable, but when the stories I make up in my own head are more exciting than the stories on the screen, it’s not a great show; maybe good, cos at least the characters are developed enough to do that with, but definitely not great.
Don’t even get me started on how I’ve rekindled my love for Night Court — of course, I may actually have a bit to say on that, at a later date, cos especially the early seasons hit a lot of appallingly still-relevant social and philosophical issues a lot deeper than the general weirdness of that show might suggest.
I can’t say when I’ll be blogging here regularly, again, but since I’ve managed to post at least once every four to five weeks this last few months, and now I’m getting a lot of things off my chest, here, it can’t be too much longer before I’m at least posting something relevant weekly.
I’m just so saddened by so much of this. I want things to do well; I want people to, if not mend friendships, or even get along, to just accept that this is more personal vendetta than anything Truly Important, in spite all of everyone’s airs, and stop fighting. Even on my cocktail of seven daily anxiety medications, I’m feeling all of this so hard that I would rather retreat into vintage television and cartoons than reach out to co-religionists and potential co-religionists through a medium that once felt so liberating to do so through, because I just can deal with so much fighting and other toxicity, and I’m so close to wishing I’d never even subscribed to some email lists on Yahoo eleven years ago. I feel it so hard in my gut, I’ve barely been eating beyond Metamucil, protein shakes, and sporadically gorging myself on comfort foods.
That’s how bad it is. It’s hurting me, but I’ve sworn to Eros that I have to start teaching in almost eight years, we set a date and everything —19 February 2025— and so shutting myself off from other polytheists is not an option.
I really loathe ultimatums, but you can choose to either make things easier for me to keep active with my religious community, or you can make them harder. If you value my friendship, I think it should go without saying which choice I’d rather see you make, but whatever you choose, it’ll let me know how much time I’d like to spend talking with you or reading what you have to say. It’s really hard for me to take your words seriously when you say you like me, but you’re now continuing to do things that, at this point, you know are on the verge of giving me stress ulcers.
Pindar, Pythian Ode 9. 59 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“[The kentauros Kheiron (centaur Chiron) prophesies the birth of Aristaios (Aristaeus) to Apollon :] ‘There [in Libya] shall she [Kyrene (Cyrene), love of Apollon] bear a son [Aristaios], whom glorious Hermes will take from his fond mother’s breast, and carry to the enthroned Horai (Horae, Seasons) and Mother Gaia (Gaea, Earth); and they will gently nurse the babe upon their knees, and on his lips distil ambrosia and nectar, and shall ordain him an immortal being, a Zeus or holy Apollon, a joy to men who love him. And he shall ever be at hand to tend their flocks, Agreos (Hunter) his name to some, to others Nomios (Shepherd), and some will call him Aristaios.’ So Kheiron spoke and decreed for the god his bridal’s dear fulfilment.”
It’s either National Cheese Day or National Cheese Pizza Day (my searches are saying both), either way, it’s time to honour Aristaios, who may not be a patron of Erotic Hedonism, but is a god I hold very dear.
Ovid, Fasti 1. 363 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“Aristaeus wept, when he saw all his bees killed and honeycombs abandoned incomplete. His sea-blue mother [the Naiad Kyrene (Cyrene)] could scarcely console his pain, and attached these final words to her speech : ‘Stop your tears, my boy. [The sea-god] Proteus will lighten your loss, and tell you how to regain what is gone. But so he does not baffle you by altering appearance, clamp his two hands in strong chains.’
The youth approaches the seer and binds the limp arms of the sleeping old man of the ocean. Proteus uses his art to shift and feign his looks, but soon resumes shape, mastered by chains. Lifting his dripping face and sea-blue beard, he said : ‘You seek a technique to recover bees? Sacrifice a bullock and inter its carcass: the one interred will supply what you seek.’
The shepherd follows orders. From the putrid ox swarms bubble. One life axed bred a thousand.”
Pindar, Pythian Ode 9. 59 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“[Aristaios (Aristaeus)], whom glorious Hermes will take from his fond mother’s breast, and carry to the enthroned Horai (Horae, Seasons) and Mother Gaia (Gaea, Earth); and they will gently nurse the babe upon their knees, and on his lips distil ambrosia and nectar, and shall ordain him an immortal being, a Zeus or holy Apollon, a joy to men who love him.”
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 81. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
“Aristaios (Aristaeus) was the son of Apollon and Kyrene (Cyrene), the daughter of Hypseus the son of [the River] Peneios (Peneus), and the manner of his birth is given by certain writers of myths as follows: Apollon became enamoured of a maiden by the name of Kyrene (Cyrene), who was reared in the neighbourhood of Mount Pelion and was of surpassing beauty, and he carried her off from there to that part of the land of Libya where in later times he founded a city and named it, after her, Kyrene.
Now Apollon begat by Kyrene in that land a son Aristaios and gave him while yet a babe into the hands of the Nymphai (Nymphs) to nurture, and the latter bestowed upon him three different names, calling him, that is, Nomios (the Shepherd), Aristaios, and Argeus (the Hunter). He learned from the Nymphai how to curdle milk [i.e. how to make cheese], to make bee-hives, and to cultivate olive-trees, and was the first to instruct men in these matters. And because of the advantage which came to them from these discoveries the men who had received his benefactions rendered to Aristaios honours equal to those offered to the gods, even as they had done in the case of Dionysos.
After this, they say, Aristaios went to Boiotia (Boeotia), where he married one of the daughters of Kadmos (Cadmus), Autonoe, to whom was born Aktaion (Actaeon), who, as the myths relate, was torn to pieces by his own dogs . . .
As for Aristaios, after the death of Aktaion, we are told, he went to the oracle of his father, Apollon, who prophesied to him that he was to change his home to the island of Keos (Ceos) and told him likewise of the honours which would be his among the Keans. To this island he sailed, but since a plague prevailed throughout Greece the sacrifice he offered there was on behalf of all the Greeks. And since the sacrifice was made at the time of the rising of the star Sirios (Sirius), which is the period when the etesian winds customarily blow, the pestilential diseases, we are told, came to an end. Now the man who ponders upon this event may reasonably marvel at the strange turn which fortune took; for the same man who saw his son done to death by the dogs likewise put an end to the influence of the star which, of all the stars of heaven, bears the same name [i.e. Sirius the Dog-Star] and is thought to bring destruction upon mankind, and by so doing was responsible for saving the lives of the rest.
We are further informed that Aristaios left descendants behind on the island of Keos and then returned to Libya, from where he set forth with the aid of his mother, a Nymphe, and put ashore on the island of Sardinia. Here he made his home, and since he loved the island because of its beauty, he set out plantings on it and brought it under cultivation, whereas formerly it had lain waste. Here he begat two sons, Kharmos (Charmus) and Kallicarpos (Callicarpus).
And after this he visited other island and spent some time in Sikelia (Sicily), where, because of the abundance of the fruits on the island and the multitude of flocks and herds which grazed there, he was eager to display to its inhabitants the benefactions which were his to bestow. Consequently among the inhabitants of Sikelia, as men say, Aristaios received especial honour as a god, in particular by those who harvested the fruit of the olive-tree.
And finally, as the myths relate, he visited Dionysos in Thrake (Thrace) and was initiated into his secret rites, and during his stay in the company of the god he learned from him much useful knowledge. And after dwelling some time in the neighbourhood of Mount Haimos (Haemus) he never was seen again of men, and became the recipient of immortal honours not only among the barbarians of that region but among the Greeks as well.”
When you say shit like “white / European heritage” — there is literally no such thing. Even today, even with the European Union —a formalised political alliance, not unlike formalised alliances of ancient times— there is no such thing as this mythical “European culture” that is simply a code for white supremacists / separatists to identify eachother and attempt to veil their own racism. There is Greek heritage, French heritage, Welsh heritage, Albanian, Icelandic, Spanish, Basque, and so on. Frankly, even before WWII, most people of European nations were far kinder to those of the African diaspora, especially African Americans, than those in the US; singer, actress, and dancer Josephine Baker emigrated to France in the 1920s, and rather swiftly entered high society, marrying (white) Frenchmen. The idea of keeping “races” (which has a tellingly different definition to Americans than it does pretty much everywhere else in the world) separate is born of white supremacism.
When you make claims of wanting to emulate how things work with polytheists in European countries, but a modicum of research into even the reconstructionist groups in Germany (for example) show, no, you’re a LOT more racist, and so is your group.
Feel free to recommend me other items to this list. I’m sure there are other examples I haven’t thought of.
My Polytheism begins with Eros. He led me to Apollon, who led me to Hellenism. Then Eros, He led me to the traditions of Boeotia. He led me to the Hedonist philosophers, for their teachings ultimately begin with His daughter, Hedone.
My polytheism is devotional rituals, art, and music. It’s reading and studying mythology and philosophy and forming the cohesive teachings of Erotic Hedonism into a whole for the benefit of His people who’re led to it. Not everyone will be led to it, and in fact, it’s not for everyone, it’s not supposed to be, and that’s fine — it’s for the rejects who love beauty and happiness and pleasure and laughter from all the unexpected places, regardless of race, creed, sexuality, gender; Erotic Hedonism is Hellenism for beautiful freaks.
My polytheism places the highest of the Pantheon to be, in order, Nyx, Eros, Psykhe, Hedone, the Khairetes, the Moisai. Other Hellenic deities are worshipped in Their due, but the Pantheon of Erotic Hedonism places them above the rest.
Erotic Hedonism isn’t about me, it’s about the gods and helping others to see Eros and His family the way I do. It’s about taking the time to engage with those led to it. It’s about learning and connecting with the gods.
My polytheism gives a crap about who tries to claim that title, “polytheist”, but acknowledges that there’s pretty much fuck all I can do to stop egotistical atheists, short of reminding people what words mean. Words have more besides intent behind them, there’s a history, and with that, a magic. Still, it’s not my battle to fight; I can have an opinion without a calling to make it my mission to defend.
My polytheism rrcognises a multitude of gods, demigods, and spirits, even those I do not worship. Spirits of the land, sky, sea, and city. Spirits of song and if story — Batman is certainly some kind of real spirit created of the 20th Century American superhero comic books, but I would hesitate to put him on the same level as a god, though it’s not my place to day that with certainty.
There are two items on this list that strike me as very cis-supremacist in how they advocate address talking to and thinking about trans people.
“My gender is mine, not a mere identity!”
“My pronouns are MINE not a ‘preference’.”
The thing is, everyone, cis, trans, or otherwise, has a gender identity and preferred names and pronouns, but only cis people are socially permitted to take these things for granted by identifying these things about themselves as something somehow just self-evident and not debatable, and by being allowed to misuse terms like “identity” and “preference” as dismissals of a the identities and preferences of trans people as somehow less-important or less-valid. The problem with modifying the cis model I have just described is not just that it vehemently misuses words in the context of trans people (after all, ask cis people about their sexual preferences, especially with regards to whether or not they’re attracted to people they know to be trans, and suddenly “preferences” are something that must necessarily be respected!) but it positions the cis experience of being able to take things like their gender identity and their preferences in name and pronoun for granted as an ideal and default model that trans people should strive for.
While I certainly understand that the person who wrote the text in the image had good intentions behind it, it still betrays an inherently cissupremacist view of how one interacts with their gender in everyday life, and practically obligates trans people to imitate cis people, even if only in thought, in order to have their gender, including the identity aspect of their gender, taken seriously. This is just more “Passing! Is! Life!” bollocks presented in a form ostensibly more palatable, because it stresses aping cis minds rather than cis bodies.
What pains me most about this image going around FaceBook, which is where I found it, is that I first found it from someone who ostensibly (judging from their regularly shared links and whatnot) subscribes to radical politics, and, being a friend I even first met offline, is a person I know to care fuck all for whether or not they physically “pass”, because they are who they are, and what’s most important to them, is being happy with their own body, so while it does still bother them to be misgendered in public, it’s not something that bothers them as much as they imagine it would the person who has dedicated significant time and effort to do everything in their powers to look cis.
Where is an inherent classism in physically “passing” as cisgender for trans people. This is especially true for many trans women, where to be able to assimilate, it’s generally desired to have extensive surgeries, including facial feminisation and various body-sculpting procedures, to undo the effects of a testosterone-dominant puberty. These are procedures generally not covered by insurances, and are very hard, if not impossible, for those below a certain socio-economic class to safe for, much less afford outright. A lot of trans men will still devote practically part-time-work hours a week in the gym to masculinise their bodies, even before HRT, and though less common, it’s certainly not unheard of for trans men to seek silicone implants to create a more “sculpted” or muscular-looking appearance to their physique; gym memberships cost money, and putting them to use necessitates a privilege of time, and such surgeries are absolutely not covered by any major insurance. A whole new wardrobe, including good wigs and haircut, cost money, which may not necessarily be readily available.
There is an inherent ableism to transgender passing politics, as well. Aside from the fact that those of us whose primary income is disability allowance are at a sharp economic disadvantage, surgeries may be unobtainable for reasons of anxiety disorder. Gym use, or even exercising off YouTube channels at home, may be unattainable for physical disability reasons, sensory disorders can inhibit clothing and haircut choices.
It should also be obvious how sexism plays into the inherent politics of physically passing, as well, if only for demanding an adherence to certain mid-20th Century stereotyping on how men and women “should” look. More specifically, this is cissexism, in that it doesn’t press these expectations as hard on cis people, if at all, for the simple fact that cis people are allowed to take their gender identities for granted, allowing them more freedoms of expression (at least with cis women, where performing more masculine expressions is typically less-brutally penalised than in men, and those a society may perceive as men performing femininity).
many trans people, especially on the Internet, are very quick to call all this out, and more (like inherent racisms, which I don’t even know how to describe adequately for this piece), but when it comes to how we address our gender, including preferences of expression, in WORDS rather than body and clothing, cissexism is not only ignored, it’s encouraged!
Trans people applaud each-other for “taking a stand against cissexism” by advocating that we ape cis people n how we talk to ourselves and others about gender:
“We simply have a gender, which is inherent and ours; saying we have a gender identity is just a sneaky way of telling us that we don’t.”
“My pronouns are not a preference, they are mandatory!”
“It’s not my preferred name, it’s MY name!”
These are things we’d expect cis people to say if we pointed out to them that they, too, have a gender identity, and preferences of name and pronouns — and not without reason, because society has conditioned them to take these things for granted, so they don’t feel obligated to actually think about the reality of the situation of how identifying with the gender one was assigned at birth is, indeed, a gender identity that is no more or less valid than a trans person’s identity; nor do they feel obligated to think about how, as a cis man, one would certainly prefer to be called “he” as opposed to “she” or “ze”; nor do they feel obligated to consider how one might prefer to be called “Pat” when their given and legal name is “Patricia”, or how one might prefer their childhood nickname of “Bull” over their given name of “Nostradamus Shannon”.
I therefore posit that is is the radical position not to ape cis people, but to remind them, daily, hourly, if necessary, that they, too, have a gender identity, a pronoun preference, and a preferred name, even if these all line up with the gender, pronouns, and name one was assigned at birth. They are not allowed to take these things for granted any more than white people should be allowed to take for granted that, in the first 60+ years of Western commercial filmmaking, leading and primary supporting characters were about 90% Caucasoid, no more than cis men should be allowed to take for granted that almost every Fortune 500 name is male.
African Americans, Southern and Eastern Asian races, and Indigenous Americans have never fought racism by assimilating and not challenging white people on their racist ideas.
The disabled don’t fight ableism by letting the comforts and conveniences of the able-bodied be taken for granted without a challenge to make spaces for our needs, as well (how else do you think wheelchair-accessible toilets and handicapped parking spaces happened? Definitely not cos the chair-bound just sat around and waited for the benevolence of the walking world!)
Sexism is not fought by denying the differences of experience between how men and women are treated, but by acknowledging those differences, sharing them, and challenging men on their sexism.
The United States in the Twentieth Century is a prime example of how pretending there is no difference between the opportunities offered to different socio-economic classes just doesn’t work in fighting classism, but instead strengthens it. Only by challenging classism can it be fought.
So why do those who espouse radical beliefs in those and other areas, indeed those most likely to identify themselves as having radical politics, take such a shine to the notion that the best way to fight cissexism is by ignoring the aspects of identity and preferences, with regards to one’s gender and its expression? Wouldn’t that just be letting cissexism go unchallenged while also pressing trans people into adopting another form of passing for cis?
I find the denial of gender identity and preferences of address to be counterintuitive to accepting the lived knowledge of our experiences.
Identity is only one piece of our personal genders. We also have roles, which may vary somewhat by society, but in the West are almost universal. We also have expression, which encompasses not simply how we dress, but also mannerisms, interests, and even preferences of pronoun and name. How we identify our sexuality (which is different from sexual orientation) may also reflect another aspect of our gender; I’ve certainly been in enough conversations with homosexual and homoflexible women who prefer to identify as “gay” rather than “lesbian”, because of certain nuances and also of the subcultures associated with those terms, though some such women may also use the terms interchangeably. Gender is multi-faceted, and in many (if not most) people, is fluid and malleable, in at least one aspect, and not a static constant throughout one’s life; as a quick example, YouTube personality Chris Crocker seems to generally identify as male, but certainly has a fluid sense of gender expression.
If we let the way cis people take their gender identities and preferences of expression for granted, especially if we seek to ape that ourselves, as trans people, we’re letting cissexism win. Cissexism is more than just expecting cisnormativity in trans people, it’s also a thought pattern that idealises a cis experience as a default, and this includes the unchallenged ability to take their identities for granted. We simply cannot fight cissexism without challenging the most insidious ways it permeates the dialogue about gender.
When we say “don’t refer to it as a gender identity, it’s just gender,” we are giving preferential treatment to the cis experience by mimicking how cis people talk about their own gender identities.
When we say “don’t refer to ‘preferred pronouns’… — they are MANDATORY,” in addition to the bizarre notion that “preference,” not “optional,” is somehow the opposite of “mandatory,” we’re saying that the cis experience is preferred to the trans experience, and we are reinforcing this by mimicking the way cis people talk about their own preferred pronouns.
Trans, non-binary, and Intersex people are not the only ones with “gender identities” and “preferred names and pronouns” — cis people have these identities and preferences, as well. While it may seem appealing to mimic this denial of experience that cis people are allowed by society, doing so only reinforces cissexism by positioning it as the only valid way to think about one’s gender and expression.
“Nontheistic theism” literally means “a belief about gods without gods”. No amount of doublespeak can make that anything but a contradiction. Ergo, to call “nontheistic polytheism,” in any way, “polytheism”[3 is a gross display of intellectual dishonesty, at most, or just a case of stupidity via “special snowflake” syndrome, at least.
While many words are, by nature, flexible, they still mean things. While a living language must remain relevant to remain, there’s a phrase relatively common to English:
Don’t keep your mind so open your brain falls out.
“Nontheistic theism” is therefore a performance of doublespeak to confuse and control.
One is either a nontheist or a theist. It’s like claiming to be both a giant and a dwarf, simultaneously; it is literally impossible to be both at once. While one could, hypothetically, cite the extraordinary case of Adam Rainer, the only person on record to’ve been, as an adult, classified first as a dwarf, and then as a giant, by his doctors, he never existed as both, simultaneously — first he was a dwarf, standing 3’10½”, then he was a giant at 7’8″. I have a mild form of acondroplasia, resulting in slightly disproportioned limb-to-torso size proportions, a distinct form of spinal curvature, and a bowing to my knees — but at 4’11”, I am literally an inch too tall to be a dwarf, and I am a far cry from being a giant; to call myself a “giant dwarf” may be a cute oxymoron I might say in jest amongst friends who know of that condition I have, the reality is that I am neither, but I’m closest to being the latter half of that phrase (dwarf), as I have one of the conditions commonly associated with dwarfism.
I get that polytheism is all cool and stuff, right now (and having been interviewed through a handful of pagan and polytheist outlets, I wouldn’t be surprised if my name had a tiny spark in fostering that, though there are absolutely bigger names than mine, in that regard), and certain people desperately want to be a part of our movement — can’t say that I blame them, we’re cool as shit, but like dwarfism to myself, they’re technically not polytheists, though they may use certain language of polytheism in their own spirituality (I hesitate to call a practise without real theism “religion”, but given the common euphemistic uses of “doing a thing religiously”, I’ll give people who would call it that an understanding). Hopefully, like Hot Topic in 2005, they’ll discover “the money” is in something new and different, and drop their appropriation and misuse of our movement for something else, as they acknowledge that their heart wasn’t as much into polytheism as it was into grasping for relevancy attached to their name within the greater pagan social movement.
A friend of mine is childfree. He doesn’t want children for a number of reasons, most important being, he doesn’t like them. He made the choice some years ago (well, at least a decade-plus, now) to have a vasectomy. He has several members of his family who are very fundamentalist Christian, and believe it’s everyone’s good Christian duty to procreate, at least enough to replace themselves; whilst he and I have no issue with this belief, in and of itself, as long as people don’t try and push it onto the unwilling, but we both believe that it is, to varying extents, irresponsible to bring more children in this world than necessary when the population is reaching critical mass — but this is a philosophical point that is, of course, another story for another time. When he’s been at reunions with his family, there’s always at least one person who tells him that he’s going against “[their] God’s will” by having had a vasectomy.
Now, my friend, let’s call him Bill (it’s a variant of his name, though he doesn’t go by that), went out to have his vasectomy, but there was a co-pay on his insurance of a couple hundred dollars. He had no issue paying this, but they were going to send him the bill later. His bill never arrived, but the late notice to pay it, with late fees, did, so he sent out the cheque. A month or two later, he noticed that his cheque never cashed, so he called the hospital to see if there was a problem. The person he’d talked to said that their records showed that he’d paid in full, on time, and was actually due a refund for overpayment.
This is relevant, because he brings up this story every time a wacky Christian family member decides to tell him his vasectomy is against “god’s plan” — clearly some god or another had decided that Bill was correct in his choice not to put any children on this world, and thus offered to reward him.
Now, I bring up Bill because when I first started transitioning — hell, even still, my primary income is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), and he knows that pays just enough to keep a person off the streets — if one is lucky to get even that much. When I first started, while he’d known for years that this was a long time coming, his concern was for my finances, so I pointed out several facts about my own transition:
Prior my chest surgery, my bra size was 38K. Standing at 4’11” with measurements, at the time, at about 62-28-38, this made them roughly the size of my own head. Medicare covered this surgery under a loophole necessitating that it be billed as a “breast reduction” and performed by a surgeon willing to do FTM chest recon whilst billing this as the essentially identical (save for the amount of tissue removed, the basics of the procedures are identical), but covered, procedure. I paid nothing out-of-pocket. Not even for my nipple revision
For some reason, Medicare was covering my ‘mones before Medicare officially covered ANY trans procedures. I still don’t know how that happened, but getting a ten-dose vial approximately once every other month, since October of 2007, my Medicare D co-pay had been $1.20/vial, has totalled $64.80 — this has been over the course of nine year, and he first brought up this concern to be about three years ago, when it had cost me a total of $43.20.
Over the last two years, I’ve also discovered that while Michigan’s legal name-change would cost in the area of $350, out-of-pocket, being a disabled person whose primary income is SSDI, this is covered by the State, for certain qualifying reasons — including gender confirmation. While I technically still had to pay the fingerprinting fees, my lawyer, who is doing this as a pro-bono assignment, decided to reimburse me the $15 fee out of petty cash.
About two years ago, Medicare finally approved gender confirmation procedures. This means when I’m finally up on the waiting list for my hysterectomy and vaginectomy, this, too, will be covered, as well as any genital reconfiguration I may choose, after that.
To date, I haven’t even paid $75 for my transition, even during the six or seven years, in theory, nothing was being covered.
I then reminded Bill of his vasectomy, and how, due to hospital error (and potential Powers That Be), he actually got paid to get it done. Since my own transition was carefully documented on government forms, it’s unlikely anyone will be paying me my $65 back, with interest or whatnot, but still, clearly this is something that –even at a time it “shouldn’t have been covered– I paid almost nothing for it.
He conceded, suggesting, “well, you being [polytheist] and all, there’s clearly Someone out there Who wants you to do this, so I guess I stand corrected.”
With all the talk of TERFs making the rounds in the Pagan and Polytheist blogospheres, again, I just hoped to add a positive story.
May Hermaphroditos, and also The Great Mother and Her consort, Pan1, continue to see me through this.
Fry: Bender, why did you do it? We were all so happy!
Leela: And we were in love!
Bender: Phhff! That wasn’t love!
Fry: What!? How can you say that?
Bender: Because Bender knows love. And love doesn’t share itself with the world! Love is suspicious. Love is needy. Love is fearful. Love is greedy. My friends, THERE IS NO GREAT LOVE WITHOUT GREAT JEALOUSY!!! Bender hugs Fry and Leela by the necks, choking them
Bender: I love you meatbags!
On my own path, at least at this time, it’s certainly expected of me to recognise the existence of other gods, but worship, even in the most seemingly-benign sense as taking part in the chanting and Baghavad Gita discussion after otherwise-mooching some free food at the Hare Krishna house, when my foodstamps were all but cut off, back in November 2014, is not something I’m allowed to do, at least not at this time.
I was actually having a “good day”, that evening, with regards to my back pain, but when handed a tambourine after the meal, and starting with the chanting, a nerve pinched mid-back, where I don’t typically experience pain, and don’t recall ever experiencing it in that area before, or since. This did not end until I took what I decided was the polite amount of time, suffering through it, and left the house for my shift at WCBN. It’s hard not to read that as a warning against messing ariound with Gods to Whom I don’t belong.
I can’t deny that other people have paths that allow them to officiate for, or even make some sense of contact with other gods — and that’s great, and I respect their path in that. It would also be wrong for me to deny my experiences, though, which are all telling me that this is how I’m supposed to worship, at this stage in my life; maybe this could change, in the future, and I’m certainly allowed to respect Krishna, and the homes of those who are His, but beyond that, I’ve been reigned in, and I’m good with that.