When Your “Traditional Polytheism” Isn’t

  • When you ignore the historical, archaeological, and even genetic evidence of not just trade, but intermarrying between pre-Christian societies dominating Europe, and frankly everyone they traded with.
  • when you make shit up, and pretty transparently so. Like, what even is this shit? Especially when it’s so easily disproved, and, frankly, ludicrous. (See also this page from Viking Answer Lady, who has done a lot of research, for a more conversational tone.)
  • 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.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

A Contradiction

“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”[1][2][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.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

It was meant to be

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.


1: This is Boeotian tradition, not appropriative appropriative revision of mythology.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

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.


About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Monogamous Polytheism: More Common Than You’d Think

So, it seems that the PPP is at it again, with giving voice to some of the more ill-informed and ridiculous ideas swirling around the pagan community. This time, it’s how Polytheism and Polyamoury are just somehow a natural combination.

I’ve said dozens of times before, even on this blog, that I have little issue with polyamoury, on paper. As an ideological concept of romanti-sexual relationships, there are some really well-written pieces explaining it and how, in theory, it could work for just about anyone. In theory. The reality is, when even Oberon Zell-Ravenheart has said, in a video interview (so you can see [if you can see, that is] the words literally coming from his mouth) that he thinks that serial monogamy might just be the human default, that’s saying something about how polyamoury is no more a universal truth than, say, the belief of “All are One”.

…and yet Patheos Pagan gives voice to the belief that monogamy goes against our nature. One of the most influential voices in both the polyamourous and pagan communities has said that he believes that serial monogamy is just as natural an orientation for relationships as polyamoury, but hey, Melissa Hill is going to get one of the most widely-read platforms in the pagan community to tell us all that monogamy is against nature.

First off, monogamy is not “against nature”. Contrary to what many writers on polyamoury have said (especially the earlier writings), many non-human species form lifetime bonds with only a single partner, and only a handful of these have shown any evidence that any offspring are sired by a male unmated to the female. Even then, non-human animals seem to have a better understanding than we do that “sex ≠ love.” Polytheists seem to understand better than most people than non-humans can, and do, feel great affections toward others, even something that we as humans would understand as “love” — yet still, many polytheists have a problem with anthropomorphising non-humans and attaching our social connections of love and sex into animal sex.

As a lifelong cat person, and one who’s actually read extensively about their behaviours and biology, let me tell you, sex is not the most enjoyable experience for the female cat, cos the male’s penis is barbed, and tears her up on withdrawl (this does serve a reproductive function, and at the very least, discourages the female from mating again before his sperm can fertilise her ovum). Cats don’t have sex for fun or other social purposes, like humans, dolphins, and bonobos do. Cats fuck to breed. They may bond very closely with another and seem to have a very loving relationship with other cats (contrary to common belief among arimal rights sorts, the house-cat is actually much closer to its wild Matriarch species than the domestic dog is to the wolf, and even without human intervention [such as feeding] will form complex social colonies, where these relationships have also been observed), but fucking, for a cat, is very utilitarian, in nature.

Love ≠ Sex

Furthermore, polygamy, as has been practised by certain groups (usually monotheist, though there are certainly others that to this), are not the same as a “poly” person’s group marriage. These are examples of often political and social alliances formed, a display of power and status (in Islam, the Q’ran states that a man can take as many wives as he can support, emotionally and financially — tell me how that’s not going to be turned into treating women as a status symbol, and I’ll give you a cookie), and generally less about “love” than they are about increasing the potential for a “legitimate heir”, which is basically big fancy talk for a son who will get the lion’s share of inheritance. It’s basic intellectual dishonesty to even point to the soap opera of marriages, divorces, concubines (legitimate affairs), illegitimate affairs, and hetarae of Greco-Roman Antiquity as if it’s somehow legitimate evidence that “polyamoury works” or is somehow “more natural” than monogamy; sex is not love, nor is love sex, and if bonobos have been observes having clearly consensual sex with each-other as conflict resolution, to form alliances, and just blow off some steam, why the need to constantly frame human sexual relationships as being only a display of loving affections?

Love in Greco-Roman antiquity was seldom recorded, all things considered, while it was generally accepted that sex was just as much (if not more so) about power, status, and basic biological needs, as it was about affections. Just because Hypothetical Upper-Class Theban was noted to have put his weiner in a dozen or so people of various genders didn’t necessarily mean that he was in love with all, or any of them.

The practise of “stoning women for adultery” isn’t about love or enforcing monogamy — after all, in Ms Hill’s example of attributing this to Islam in the Middle East, polygamy is common, when it’s one man and multiple women. This is also a culture that, in spite of their “holy book” asserting the autonomy of women in several passages (but don’t take my word for it, get yourself a copy here, I did, just to see what all the fuss was about in late 2001) has retained a stance that women are chattal, and exerting a patriarchal blame on the woman in not just adultery, but also in rape.

Love ≠ Sex

Speaking of, the crime of rape has only a short history of being about sexual autonomy. In English, it shares a root with “robbery”, and as recently as the mid-Victorian, “rape” could include situations of legitimate love and consensual sex, but the kids eloped, and so the young man had “raped” her arranged betrothed (or her parents) of the girl’s dowry.

The history of the word “rape” has more to do with treating women as property than it does with consent or sexual autonomy.

So why do polyamourists, more than most of my fellow serial monogamists (at least in my experiences) seem to have the poorest understanding of how love and sex are not one-in-the-same?

This is not something that I can answer, to be frank — but even in Zell’s defense of serial monogamy, he phrases it in sesxualised terminology, with “but they just can’t get it up for that other person any-more”, suggesting that this is a widespread issue in that community (or at least as observed by his outsider), if even one of the most respected and prominent names in that community can’t help but sexualise love in polyamoury.

Sex is not love.

Sex can be very loving, but it can also be violent, or it can just be a thing to do when there’s nothing good on the telly. Sex and violence can be consensual, or it can be the modern definition of rape. No matter how you slice it, sex is not love; sex is hat happens when two animals do things with their genitals that make squishy noises, and it can be as good or as bad, as loving or as hateful, as those engaging in it intend or even just perceive it to be.

It perplexes me how many polyamourists, especially in the polytheist community, will regard many kinds of deities, and concede to the existence of many kinds of relationships (hopefully one doesn’t have the same kind of relationship with one’s mother as one does with one’s sexual partner/s — it can put your eyes out!), but will be unaware that they are conflating romantic love and sex / sexual attraction as two things inexplicably linked, an ideal that many apparently don’t question of themselves.

Now, I haven’t always had the greatest understanding of the asexual community (and as much as some may protest the notion, yeah, sometimes there can be an underlying medical reason for a low or non-existent sex drive — other times, yeah, it’s just a thing that happens, and either way, as long as people are happy and there is no threat to one’s being, then it’s all good), if anything, I’m closer to the hyper-sexual end of the spectrum, but ironically, it seems that a community of people identified by their lack of sexual attraction are somehow better able to understand this concept:

Love ≠ Sex

Sexual attraction is just that: You’re attracted to a person in a way that gets your junk all a-tingly.

Romantic love is something else: It’s a love born from an attraction that can idealise another person — sometimes in a mature way that helps both parties grow, sometimes in an immature or destructive way that breeds dysfunctionality.

This is how romantic love differs from sexual attraction.

And sexual attraction isn’t necessarily hand-in-hand with sex drive, which is arguably more basic and biological, though can be triggered in ways that have been socialised into a person.

“I think monogamy is the more difficult choice,” says Ms Hill in the comments — and maybe it is, for herself and many other polyamourists, but sor someone who’s a monogamist because it’s just what works for them and feels most natural, even though they are truly supportive of polyamoury in theory, it’s not a difficult choice, at all. For me, polyamoury would be the difficult choice!

Then there’s the fact that A LOT of “polyamoury for everyone!” sorts of posts floating around the blogosphere often fall victim to the Geek Social Fallacies of Sex. Seriously, trying to plod my way through The Ethical Slut (which i didn’t attempt until I was in my thirties, which might be saying something about the sorts it appeals most to — much like people who are able to read Ayn Rand with a straight face), which was long before I was shown this post, much of the fallacies listed went through my mind — especially the fact that, no, people generally cannot control their emotions with regards to sex.

Sex seems rational on paper. Explaining its processes can be painfully dull, without even trying, and when you get to my age, kinky stuff is only really exciting when you’re doing it, not thinking or reading or writing about it.

GSFS is also especially pervasive, at least from an outsider’s perspective, regarding the polyamoury community. As an outsider with a shit-ton of friends in that community (seriously, at one time the “bipolypagangeek” LiveJournal community had at least half my friends-list in their ranks), I think I can be a little more objective about a lot of things with regards to polyamoury cos I’m not personally attached to that identity.

The fact of the matter is, jealousy abounds in that community, but people make attempts (poorly) to suppress it in order to prove that there is no jealousy in polyamoury.

The fact of the matter is, there is no shortage of people using polyamoury as a last-ditch attempt to save a failing relationship by bringing in other people to either distract each-other or to buffer out the break-up and hopefully (though seldom successfully) make it easier on everyone.

The fact of the matter is, “polyamoury”, in spite of the “it’s NOT NOT NOT poly-fuckery!!” contingent (cos to some people, I guess it’s all just TWOO WUV!!!), really is just as much, if not more so, about sex as it is about love and romance.

The fact of the matter is, there is absolutely zero evidence that successful ideal polyamourous relationships are any less rare than successful ideal monogamous relationships — and not to mention that there isn’t even a consensus on what the “ideal relationship” for either model really is. For me, as a serial monogamist, even if i go into a relationship knowing it’s going to be short-term, if we both know that and still enjoy it for the time it lasts, then it’s successful, but others want only that “one true love” that lasts a lifetime, as in a fairytale, or the relationship is unsuccessful. Some polyamourists will only consider a Triad or Quad relationship, where three or four people each have a romance and/or sexual relationship with everyone else involved, a successful one, but others will be perfectly happy with a primary partner and two or three on the side.

Love and sex are not the easiest things to navigate, and what “works” or is “ideal” is just so subjective to individual experiences — and more than that, the socio-political history of love and sex make it pretty much impossible to make any kind of generalisations about what “works” on a large scale, and yet Patheos gives voice to one of the most ill-informed voices on love and sex and goes forward with publishing her article on love and sex while attempting to give it spiritual validity. Ms Hill’s article is just ridiculous when her casting of monogamists as being in the same play as the patriarchal oppressors who’d “stone women for adultery” (neglecting to acknowledge the same mentality is displayed in the pseudo-polyamoury corollary of the harem), and other broad-brush generalisations isn’t infuriating.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Solstice / Boeotian New Year Shopping Guide!

So, in response to The Wild Hunt’s Yule/Solstice Shopping Guide, I figured I’d make up one of my own for Polytheists! If you can think of anything I should add, leave a comment or send me a message via the Contact form. I’m giving preferential treatment to COMMUNITY ARTISTS, WRITERS, AND CRAFTSPERSONS! Mainstreamed, Llewellyn stuff and big-studio films get enough exposure, so here we go!


Non-Fiction Books:

Did you know that Sannion put out some new books, this year? Heart of the Labyrinth and Thunderstruck With Wine, both promise to be great for the Dionysian in your life, and if you haven’t, already, check out his other books, too!

Sanngetall Press has plenty of excellent works to choose from, including this year’s On Divination, Honouring the Ancestors, and Devotional Polytheism.

For those more academic and theology-minded, I’d also recommend Edward Butler’s Essays on the Metaphysics of Polytheism in Proclus , which was out this April. Also check out Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion, which was out this May.

…and, of course, PSVL’s Red Lotus Library is full of great options, as well, including Ephesia Grammata: Ancient History and Modern Practice from earlier this year.

Of course, if pissing off the pagan mainstream and polytheist tea-baggers is high on the priorities of you and your loved ones, Rhyd Wildermuth’s Your Face Is a Forest is out!

And hey! It’s been a while since I pitched the New Boeotian calendar! (also: to anyone who may have noticed —I finally fixed the byline on the PDF)

Fiction Books:

So, someone in the comments suggested to me Jolene Poseidonae’s story subscription! For only $5/month, you can gift yourself or a loved one with original fiction that goes straight to a polytheist who indicates needing it for medical bills. $5/month for an original 4000-word story (or chapter of a longer story) —that’s less than some people spend on the same amount of Kindle porn.

There’s also WildTaleWort from writer Sylvia Victor Linsteadt (recommended in the same comment); another story subscription, this one via snail-mail post.

Art, devotional and ritual items, nick-knacks, and neat shit:

Sarah Kate Istra Winter is having a Yule Sale up at her Goblinesquerie shop, and her Carnival Talk Etsy shop features not only her latest book, but also lots of postcards and prints of vintage carnival photos, suitable for all manner of purposes.

If Heathen stuff is more your thing, Beth Wodanis has lots of yarns, beadworks, and even candles up at her FiberWitch shop! Most things look Heathen-themed, but a couple Hellenic-appropriate items are there, too. She’s even got a 25% off coupon (YULE2014)!

Galina Krasskova also has dozens of prayer cards up, including Heathen, Graeco-Roman, Egyptian, and other deities.

This is something that’s been around for a while, too, but for those who were unaware, Cauldron Farm has Pagan Prayer Beads and more great stuff at Mengloth’s Market.

And hey! Did you know both Wendy Rule and Sopor Aeternus had new albums this year? Rule’s Black Snake is, as always, quite excellent, and Sopor Aeternus’ Mitternacht is another stellar offering of creepy goodness.

Polyphanes/The Digital Ambler has some beautiful woodwork and beadwork with a Hermetic bend, in addition to some valuable PDF ebooks.

DocBrite/Billy Martin/the writer formerly known as Poppy Z Brite may not need the pitch from me, but he’s got lots of gorgeous ritual, art, and curiosity items up at PZBART.

For absinthe, tea, and Greek coffee rituals, you really can’t do better than the skull-shaped sugar lumps from DemBones.

And Bohemiart has long been a favourite of mine, using mixed media to create haunting images appropriate for shrines, altars, and decor.

Emily Balivet also has hundreds of art nouveau styled prints and original pieces inspired by mythology and goddesses.

Creatures From El is a shop of Guelph, Ontario-based sculptor, Ellen Jewett, and features only original, mixed-media pieces of fantastical creatures.

If you know people into fairy stuff, check out the Fairy Doors at Nothing But Wood –some function as outlet covers, but most have indoor/outdoor installation in mind (put one up in your child’s room so that the fairies can have easier access when they misbehave!)

And of course, Laurelei Black’s Blade & Broom Botanica has many beautiful, hand-crafted ritual items, e-books, and more!

I almost forgot Alley valkyrie’s Practical Rabbit shop –she’s got screen-printed thingers of all sorts: T-shirts, patches, flags, altar cloths, and even onesies for the babies!

And lastly, in addition to my art and Hellenic alphabet divination tiles, you can pick up some of the literally HUNDREDS of my badges (see the Religion and Magic section!) I’ve also got a coupon code in both shops (HAPPYNEWYEAR — 15% off $10 or more at Nocturnal Spirits, or 12% off %1.50 or more at OddModOut).

Clothing, Jewellery, & Accessories:

Vis-a-Vis Jewellery have dozens of goegeous moulded (reproduction) coin and cameo-styled jewellery in Greco-Roman, art nouveau, and other polytheist and pagan-friendly styles.

Liselotte Erikson at A Changeling’s Closet has many gorgeous headdresses to choose from (and a lot of watercolour prints, too –but the headdresses are my favourite!)

The Black Cat Closet has oodles of vintage clothes and jewellery for those with a dark and/or pagan/witchy aesthetic.

For your fairy-minded friends, check out the selection of wings from Fairy Trade, and the tutus and other cute accessories from Sisters of the Moon.

For the non-vegans on your gift list, Contrived to Charm has absolutely stunning tooled leather belts, bags, tarot pouches, and more.

Dreaded Jenocide has dozens of cute ear spirals, horns, and chokers, all handmade!

And to go with the Carnival Talk book and prints, check out these printed tights from Carousel Ink!

And I can’t leave out RavenEve jewellery –she’s been at this for about (at least?) twenty years, and is based in the Detroit area. She’s best known for hand jewellery and headdresses, including finger armour, “slave” bracelets, and diadems in art nouveau, art deco, and baroque styles, using a mix of vintage and new materials.

GLUCKS has lots of beautiful, pagan and Heathen bronze pendants.

Ugly Shyla is best known for her creepy art dolls (often based on dead children), but has recently been making jewellery with designs inspired by her long-held reverence for death, and her own New Orleans voodoo practises and interest in LaVey’s philosophies.

Oh! And I almost forgot: You know those faux-fur animal hats that were trendy last year? Do you know who started them? Etsy seller Cassandra Kettler at her shop Womp-A-Wear! Everyone else is a copycat. She’s part of the Burning Man community (and pagan, too, if I’m not mistaken) and has been making these at home for years. She does adult and child sizes, and can do custom sizes and add all sorts of embellishments (including side pockets and charms –and not to mention other accessories to go with your animal spirit hat, like boot covers and belts) that you can’t find on the cheap and crappy imitations at the mall.

One of my friends on FaceBook just invited me to like her shop, Elenari: Wands – Runes – Jewellery! She’s got gorgeous stuff, she loves spiral designs, it seems, and I’m putting it here cos she’s currently got more jewellery up than ritual stuff.


Remember, if there’s anything that I’m missing, or that you think I should have, leave a comment or send a message, and I’ll add it and a brief description to the above links! Feel free to spread this around to your own blogs or share it with your friends!

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Smooth Motions: Giving and Community

We need people. Even the most introverted personality types still, at least on occasion, want the companionship of others (if not, you’re not exactly an introvert, you’re a misanthrope, but that’s another story for another time). There are loads of psychological explanations for how a sense of community benefits and shapes us, and how lacking it also shapes us but in a manner harmful to our psyches.

The modern Pagan community (note “large P”) has been shaped, in no small part, by science fiction fandom via Tim “Oberon” and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. Of course, clearly preferring R.A. Heinlein over Gene Roddenberry, this created a massive sense that “individualism” and the pursuit of doing for oneself before all else that has lousied up Paganism every moment since.

Hedonism is often misunderstood as inherently selfish, and some ancient characterisations certainly don’t help much on the matter, but Hedonism is about creating pleasure over pain: smooth motions over rough. In a certain light, this *is* argueably self-centred, because Aristippus argued that the self and specifically the individual’s experiences are the only reference points one has for relating to the world and making decisions.

That said, Aristippus was also known for binging on money-raising efforts to throw lavish parties. When his critics accused him of being in a love-affair with money, he pointed out, factually, that the money was now gone, and he’d be begging or teaching tomorrow, because the experience of the party meant more than having the money, and his guests certainly seemed to be in agreement. When you have experiences of pleasure, which Aristippus compared to a “smooth motion” on a water’s surface, all the money in the world cannot replace that; it is also worth noting that Aristippus’ experience of that party depended upon, at least the appearances of, pleasure in others (after all, he was on no place to judge what they were truly feeling, and admitted that).

Hedonism thus offers a philosophy that shows the Individual and the Community as symbiotes: When we create pleasurable experiences for others, we can create pleasurable experiences for ourselves, and we cannot create experiences for ourselves without affecting those around us, so it is to our benefit to maximise the potential for smooth motions. Pain is characterised as “rough motion” on the water; sometimes it’s necessary, but when at all possible, we need to be mindful to minimise this –in ourselves, first and foremost (as we’re our own most-reliable reference points), but secondarily in others.

The recent “debate” over whether or not it is wise to give to people’s crowd-funding efforts for things —whether it be a trip to Newgrange or a ding-danged funeral (and ask Aine Llewellyn, who watches me on FB, I don’t pull out the double-d-word over just anything)— is ultimately a rough motion, and ultimately frivolous nonsense: Not only are these people creating, for themselves, unnecessary discomfort by being offended at crowd-sourcing funds, a rough motion, but that careless thrashing in the pool ripples back against everyone else. What strikes me the most about this backlash is that it’s wholly unnecessary.

While I still disagree with her decision, for her (in)famous Kickstarter tour with a different local band in every city, to only compensate the particpating musicians with “beer and conversation” as something that sets a potentially dangerous precedent in a world where musicians are too-often talked into playing “for experience and beer” when they’re trying to make the rent, or at least afford toast to go with their rice and beans, I also can’t argue with Amanda Palmer’s claims that, to those who participated in that tour with her, that the exchange was fair (see “The Art of Asking”); who am I to judge the pleasureable exchange, and thus perception of fairness, that another feels in an act, when I myself would find the same circumstances unfair? As my only reference point is my own experiences and sense of smooth versus rough motions, I simply cannot make that judgement for another. What’s fair to me might seem excessive or even unconscionable to another —I’ve certainly found myself in rough positions in a conversation while trying to raise money for The Tomb when people cannot see how my refusal to budge on either venue to how much to pay the band and DJs isn’t at all unreasonable.

While I can understand the Pagan community ideal that “life shouldn’t be about money”, at the same time, there are points where the need for money are going to rear their ugly heads, and there are points where, yes, money may be a rough necessity for an ultimately smooth motion, like Aristipppus’ parties, or a pilgramage to Newgrange, or a loved one’s funeral expenses. Only a handful of us, relatively speaking, are in a position where either we ourselves can, or we have families where “everyone” can afford to pitch in to pay for a thing that will bring smooth motion to ourselves and our communities. The rest of us have to turn to the community.

Turning to the community for everything from a religious pilgrimage, to funeral expenses, to basic daily needs like food and shelter, has a long history, especially in religious communities, and it’s a traditon that *so* far pre-dates Christianity that it pre-dates the implementation of the money system. Those who have less have turned to those who have, and who have more –they have turned to the community– to get. This has often (until very recently in human history) created or at least fostered a sense of duty in those who have less to foster community and give back in ways that we can. For millennea, we, the have-lesses and have-nots have been the artists, musicians, performers, and holy persons of communities –the notion that the Arts and spiritual pursuits are merely a hobby for trust-fund brats has only really existed since 20th Century America reared its ugly head, and even then, it’s only ever been true for a rather tiny percentage of those of us in the arts and pursuing spiritual endeavours; for every Mozart who enjoyed a period of wealthy patronage (regardless of how deeply impoverished and indebted he died), there have been hundreds of folk musicians playing in public houses while their assistant, friend, or lover passes the hat, and there have been thousands of buskers on the corners of every street, relying on the assessment of the passers-by that their music is worth a few small coins. Not only is playing music and other arts hard, physical work, it’s also thankless and traditionally amongst the lowest-paid, especially relative to the pleasure it gives back.

This is not necessarily a defense of crowd-funding efforts, after all, it’s the same basic principle that buskers and street artists have employed for centuries, just optimised for the Internet and thus potentially reaching a wider audience. No-one needs to defend it any more than they need to defend buskers and independent artists who, traditionally, for millennea, have relied on gift-money given freely by members of the community who not only see the value in the art, but who can and want to support those who make it.

I do, though, feel that those who put down the practise in their words are incredibly short-sighted and, at least temporarily, unwilling to see the bigger picture: The experiences we enjoy and, too-often, take for granted in this world, experiences of music, reading the freely-distributed writings of bloggers, and so on…, these are thankless jobs taken on by people who not only can, but want to, and do it well-enough that others enjoy. And clearly those who do it well-enough have a higher potential to become well-enough connected to hold successful crowdfunding for things they need or want to do, things that will make their continued services to their art(s) all the more pleasurable to the community, and all the more easier for the artists, writers, and musicians to accomplish.

This isn’t even considering the fact that there are dozens of charities (at the very least) built around funding religious pilgrimages for young Jews and Muslims, and hundreds of charities designed around funding young artists –and where most people bringing those up fail is to mention that a lot of hose charities and scholarships ultimately have to turn a lot of people, many of them worthy, due to being unable to fund everyone, and most of those scholarships only partially cover costs, so money for these things still has to come from somewhere. This is where crowdfunding, especially for the arts and relatively tiny religious communities, and especially for people over the age of 25-30 (which, last I checked, was still well over half the population in the developed world), is actually ideal; it’s unfortunate that, to make crowdfunding work, at all, one has to be well-known or at least well-connected, but truth be told, “success” has always been about who one knows more than how skilled one is –and that’s not just what I tell myself to explain why people still read Star Foster’s blog, it’s the truth (though, unfortunately, I can’t find the Cracked artile about this).

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Is “the goddess is alive and magic is afoot” racist?

Since my first volunteer day at WCBN, I’ve had Buffy Sainte-Marie on my mind (it also happened to be the Sunday prior “Columbus Day”, so maybe that had something to do with it?), and as I was writing today’s adventures in freeform radio for my Tumblr diary, I happened upon her ILLUMINATIONS album, which featured one of the songs that I got one of the DJs today to play on the air, today, though the particular album he played it from was a “best of”.

I noticed that the first track on ILLUMINATIONS (which is also one of the earliest examples of a synthesiser on a pop album, and one of the earliest and *finest* fusions of psychedelic and folk music, in my opinion) is “God Is Alive / Magic is Afoot”. The track was originally a poem by Leonard Cohen, but for those of you unfamiliar with Buffy Sainte-Marie, she’s a Cree folksinger and Red Power activist, a pantheist and Baha’i supporter, and generally totally fucking amazing.

I’m having a hard time pinpointing a year for “the Goddess” version of that phrase that became the title of Cohen’s poem, but considering that Buffy Sainte-Marie was a *very* prominent figure in folk music, at the time, clearly Budapest and everyone else who has written or uttered “The Goddess is alive and magic is afoot” AND who was also aware of things happening in 1969 had to be at least passingly familiar with Buffy Sainte-Marie’s musical rendition of Cohen’s poem. While true that the music press generally ignored ILLUMINATIONS (Sainte-Marie, herself, blames this on the fact that most critics at the time were uninterested in a synth-based record from someone who they preferred to maintain was little more than a “Pocahontas with a guitar” figure —which you gotta admit, is kinda racist), it would have been hard for people involved in the folk music and alternative-religion communities to have completely ignored it.

Now, I’m unsure who first wrote or uttered “the goddess is alive…”, and maybe I’m just too-eager to paint Zsuzsana Budapest in an increasingly-negative light because I’m very well-aware that she has famously uttered it on many occasions when addressing pan-pagan audiences. Still, I can’t help but wonder if this is a way for middle-class white pagan women to subtly undermine “that uppity Native woman”.

…now, there’s a chance, even if a slight one, that “the goddess is alive…” was first written/uttered in response to Cohen’s poem with no knowledge of (or before the existence of) Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song version, meaning it would be a response to and attempt to either compliment or undermine a man of Jewish background (and apparently a convert to Buddhism). That said, if my suspicions prove correct, and “the goddess is alive…” was first said *after* Sainte-Marie’s 1969 album, then the possibility of racist overtones in that phrase simply cannot be played down because few (if any) people uttering it now have explicit animosity toward people of colours….

But let’s think about this a moment:

“The Goddess”, of Dianic and Pop-Wicca traditions, is this all-benevolent Ur-Goddess that aims to compile the “best” qualities of all goddesses of all traditions, but most people who tend to write of this all-purpose Ur-Goddess have an absurd tendency to reference only European goddesses and white-washed Mediterranean and Middle Eastern goddesses. Moreover, “positive” and “healive” magic is “light” or “white magic” to a still-too-high number of people, and “dark” or “black magic” is that which is destructive or regarded as harmful. These terms, contrary to popular assumption, are also not necessarily just benign references to certain aspects of human nature, but can be loaded with racist baggage. As these standards of “white/light magic” versus “black/dark magic” are still too-common and, indeed, a standard in the alt-religion and “magical” communities, the potential for even subtle racism and a wealth of microaggressions based on race cannot be ignored, even in “Goddess spirituality” communities.

If Buffy Sainte-Marie’s record DOES, indeed, pre-date “the goddess is alive….”, even if by only a year, then the potential for racism lining the first utterance of “the goddess is alive…” is, indeed, great. While true that, even in the 1960s, the Trail of Tears was almost a century ago, racism against indigenous people of the Americas was still rather great —and (especially in certain parts of he country) is still great, today. The possibility for even subconscious racism in that first utterance of “the goddess is alive…” as a means of undermining one of the world’s most-prominent Native voices and silencing it with more attempts at “enlightened whiteness” in the women’s and alt-religion movements becomes too great to ignore.

So who first said “the goddess is alive and magic is afoot”? When did that person say it? In what context? How can we be certain that its utterance was without the possibility of racism?

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Open Letter to Star Foster,

Please stop blogging about religion. Actually, I think you’d be best off taking a hiatus from religion in general for a while, but your religious blogging has a poor track record, and I think you’d be best off taking a break from that for a time to re-prioritise your life.

First off, as best as I can tell, based on the last decade of religious blogging you’ve left for the whole world, your time in any religion, since the first time you left Christianity, has been about three to four years. That’s a pretty short shelf-life for a religion, if you want me to be frank. You were Solitary Wiccan for, what? Four years? You were a Ravenwood novice studying for your initiation for, what? Three years? And after you initiation, you took off for Hellenic polytheism within *four weeks*. Four weeks! Who spends all that time studying Trad Wicca just to jump ship less than a month after initiation?! You spent four years tops in Hellenism. Before your foray into IBAB Wicca, you were a Southern Baptist and then Pentecostal (by your own admission), and if memory serves, you were raised in the former and had less than five years in the latter. Now only just since August, you’ve been a Methodist. At best, you’re clearly searching for something that you’re probably not finding in religion; at worst, you’re getting into these religions for all the wrong reasons.

Regardless of your reasons for switching religions at such a pace, blogging about it clearly isn’t helping you do anything but burn all your bridges. Unless that’s your goal, I urge you to stop.

Which reminds me: You want to know why pagans and polytheists all over said blogospheres are talking about how you’ve gone back to church? BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN BLOGGING ABOUT IT. You want to know why so many pagans and polytheists are rolling their eyes to your face and bad-mouthing you —mostly behind closed doors, but occasionally in public? Because you’ve spent an OBSCENE amount of time since going back to church bad-mouthing pagans and (though mostly by proxy, from what I could gather) polytheists left and right, as if you’re intentionally burning your bridges in an effort to “prove” that everyone in these communities is as unfriendly and spiteful as you say they are –when the reality of the matter is that this everyone in those communities who’s bad-mouthing you is doing so BECAUSE OF YOU.

It’s not rocket science, Starling, this is clearly all a basic reaction to things you yourself have been doing and saying. You’re the one being unfriendly. You’re the one being spiteful. You’re the one with the proverbial quill dipped in venom, who is taking every opportunity to stab it just at any pagan/polytheist who stumbles upon your blog again. And once again, you’re insisting on innocence in this matter when it’s all been you taking the active role in this mean-hearted nonsense; you can’t fault people for an equal reaction to your bile and direct it back at you; all the FMPPHs that you think the pagan/polytheist community is full of are only acting so because you’ve really given no reason for people to be nice to you, at this point.

Additionally, I really do believe that you should take a hiatus from religion in general for a while, and do some real soul-searching and find some real spirituality. I do believe, at this point, that if you really did love the gods of Hellas even a fraction of how much you went on about it, there is no way you would have ended up going back to church “for the community”. I think you’re “into religion” for all the wrong reasons, and I think you have to figure out if it’s really for you or not before diving head-first into another faith within four years (as an aside, were you aware that some people are having, mostly humorous, side-bets about what religion you’re going to dive head-first into come 2018? My money is on Freerange Scientology, to be honest —if only cos that way you can fancy yourself OMGz, Most. Oppressed. Religion. EV4R. I really wouldn’t put such histrionics past you, at this point, considering your track record.) I don’t think the religious communities of the world can take it if you don’t take a few years off from religion AS A WHOLE, and really do some introspection and self-examination of what you really want and need out of life, and if religion is going to fit into that for you; maybe call yourself an Agnostic Deist or Theistic Humanist, if you really want to cling to a spiritually-minded label for that time, but just take a fucking break from religion for a time, and really learn what your wants and needs are in this life.

Also, and I want to make it clear to all who read this that, while it is no secret that I do dislike you, I absolutely am not against you when I say this, but I do think you should cut the crap, already. Your Patheos Pagan Editor mantra was “I never wanted to be a BNP…” Bullshit. If you never wanted that, you surely wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to manage the Patheos Pagan Portal, now would you? If you never wanted the harsh critiques of damned near everything you say on the Internet, you would not have been busting your arse to make sure every social networking site had full access to your blogs. If you never wanted the pagan and polytheist communities to have such a reaction to your return to Christianity as many of them have had this last month, you would never have given them a reason to do so —no, you would’ve just been all “hey, I think it’s best for me to go back to church and blog about that, now,” and seriously censored yourself from the dozens of times since where you took an opportunity to bad-mouth the pagan and polytheist communities.

I gotta admit, Star, you’ve made it so that I can truly appreciate the fact that Teo Bishop/Matt Morris (or whatever his name is now/again/omgwhutevs) never took the opportunities to badmouth people that you have taken —but then, Teo Bishop seemed to have been a genuinely nice person —bland and unremarkable, as a blogger (at least in my opinion), but people liked him because he was very sincerely a nice person. He didn’t always have the most-informed opinions, but he was nice, gracious about criticism, and if he couldn’t be (presumably), he kept his mouth shut. Frankly, you’re a bitch. You’ve probably been one for quite some time. You’re every bit the mean girl you like to complain about, and I doubt you really have a clue about this, but you seen to have devoted substantial time to establish this real pattern where you’ll be nice, for a time, and then you turn on people —maybe it starts with a disagreement, or maybe you just get bored and think there’s something missing in your life, so you “liven things up” and turn incredibly mean, but you don’t see that you’re doing it, cos you still have a handful of people who’ll support you even when you’re in the wrong, and then when even they get sick of your shit, you still do the whole “not my fault” act and blame everyone but yourself, cos you’ve dug your heels in. See, the thing about “victim blaming” is that it’s only a fallacy when a person really is the victim in the situation —not even wearing a micro-mini and electrical tape on the nipples in the toughest part of the inner-city is an invitation to rape a woman, so if someone does, she’s clearly a victim, who is, by that nature, blameless. But when someone, such as yourself, establishes a pattern of bad behaviour that makes people dislike oneself and drives them away, someone who is mean and nasty to the point that people give it right back, then one is no victim; you are NOT blameless in this. You’re the only common denominator in whatever problems you’re having online, right now, and Occam’s Razer, the probability that your problems are indeed, your own damned fault are pretty high, right now. If you want people to ease up on you, try doing the opposite of what you’ve been doing this last month —at the very least, if you refuse to give up on religion or even just blogging about it, at least STOP being such a gods-damned bitch.

Now, I realise that I’m probably writing this to you in vain, cos your ego has been about the size of Texas since you managed Patheos’ Pagan Portal, and you tend to ignore any advice from anyone, especially the good advice. I realise that I’m saying this mostly cos it’s been on my mind this last couple days, since I’ve learned of your apparent conversion back to Christianity –which I initially thought was a joke I made after someone else made a joke about following yours and Biship’s lead. I realise that even if you read this, you’re probably not going to take a lick of it to heart until something big happens that really makes you re-think what you’ve been doing by flitting around between religions every 3-5 years, and even then, at the rate you’re going, this hypothetical point of self-discovery on your end will be a complete fluke and not actually taking my advice, cos I figure this’ll be at least ten years from now. I do, indeed, realise that I’m mostly saying all this because it’ll make me feel a bit better to say it, rather than let it sit on my mind for another day or two —which is a perfectly valid reason to say something in the manner I’m doing so. So I don’t need your commentary, but if you’d like to prove me wrong on anything I’ve so far hypothesised about what your reaction to this would be, I certainly would like to see it (I don’t *have to*, but it’d be nice).

And so in closing, I truly do wish you well. No, I really don’t think you’ve been a worthy adversary this last 7-8 years, but you’ve certainly given me example after example of how not to be, and for that alone, I’ve been at least a little grateful. While I realise that you probably won’t take my advice to take a few years OFF from religion as a whole, for a change, I think it’s better to give that advice than to not, and maybe the part of me that’s optimistic to a fault does hold onto some hope that you’ll listen and go forth to do some soul-searching and figure out exactly what you believe and what you want and need in this life, and whether or not religion will benefit you in getting any of that —I’ve certainly hoped for sillier things, before.

Cordially,

— Ruadhán J McElroy

PS: Stop claiming you were “holding up” the traditions of Hellenism or ANY pagan religion you were a part of. Elaion’s Bob Clarke has been practising Hellenism longer than you or I have been alive (and we’re about the same age). There are people from Greece who, apparently in an underground fashion, have been doing it longer than that. You’ve “held up” nothing. You practised Hellenism, for a fairly brief time, and nothing more. It was “held up” by people long before you decided to play Cara Schulz’s sidekick for a few years. There have been people before you who’ve actually “held up” their religions so that people like, more than, and even less than yourself could do the practises as carefree as you did.

I really hope that this claim of yours, for your sake, was just a failure to understand what that phrase really does mean, and not more histrionic tiara-seeking.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Why can’t Dianics answer simple questions?

(this has apparently sat in “draft mode” for a couple days –oops!)

This is something I’ve noticed for quite some time, but seems brutally apparent here, in the comments on this post at The Wild Hunt.

I asked Lithia Brigan a fairly simple two-part question:

[Are] you saying that both a) you identify as someone who is not female – gendered but who is female – assigned, and b) that you are a part of Zsuzsana Budapest’s tradition and lineage? Cos if neither applies, I would be curious as to how you might know that her lineage accepts AFAB people who are not women, cos to my understanding, it does not.

She doesn’t exactly answer the first part, because in spite of repeated asking for clarification, she clearly refused to explain whatever the hell it was that she meant by “gender non-compliant woman”. There are two possibilities for what this could mean off the top of my head, but the fact that she consistently says “gender non-compliant woman/women” leads me to believe that she’s trying to find a way out of cisgender privilege. At one point, she provides a post from an Intersex blogger about how cis/trans narrative erases Intersex people who identify with an “intersex” gender from the narrative and forces those who identify with their AAB genders into a mould that doesn’t quite fit. That’s great for Intersex people, and come to think of it, it was one of my earliest objections to “cisgender”, which just kind of fell to the wayside when I eventually gave in to the term (and I gave in simply because it does describe an accurate experience of most people who are not transgender); why she fails in her attempt to bring this up is that she clearly presents it as a means of suggesting how “Both intersex and gender-variant people are, in fact, included in Women’s Mysteries and are served by Z’s Dianic Tradition.” The article does not do that (and more to the point, it’s an easily-proved fact that Budapest is explicitly hostile toward the very notion of non-[cisgender-]women in her lineage –so hostile, in fact, that it has led to at least one coven splintering from her lineage), and she again fails to answer what should be a simple “yes” or “no”: Was she initiated into Budapest’s lineage of Dianic witchcraft?

Then I asked mountainwind, very simply, and even with the offer of $20 if she could prove me wrong, if she could actually prove that Zsuzsanna Budapest has ever actually been issued “death threats” from people specifically over her transphobic beliefs? I’ve seen people make this claim just about every time Budapest’s name has come up in the last four or five years, but I have never once seen anyone be able to even point to a poorly-forged FaceBook post that allegedly contains one of these “death threats” but is clearly in Budapest’s own writing style and therefore likely something she just made up; not even is a hyperbolic FB post offered, wherein Budapest is just making some vague allegation of “death threats” which she obviously doesn’t want to talk about cos then it would raise questions as to the veracity of this vague claim. Mountainwind cannot even bring herself to say “I can’t prove that, cos it’s not something made public knowledge” or something to that effect, she’d just rather question the facts i present as being a rather odd juxtaposition against a demand to prove her own hyperbole.

So is there something about Dianic wicca, and perhaps specifically Budapest’s lineage, that preaches evasion as a virtue? Cos the latter question posed on The Wild Hunt, especially, is something that I’ve asked repeatedly, and have never gotten a straight answer on from ANYONE making that claim. This also isn’t the first time I’ve seen people make vague claims that “intersex and gender-variant” people, the latter of which I’m assuming they’re using as a [now-antiquated] shorthand for trans people, are somehow “served by” Budapest’s tradition, in spite of all apparent evidence to the contrary, and then fail to back up that statement in any way.

Is it just me, or is there something fundamental to Dianic teachings that makes a virtue out of evasion?

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.