Are we sure they don’t mean Animist Planet?

I am not proud of the fact that I watch a lot of television, but every so often, I come across a gem that isn’t reruns of old noirs or other crime drama, or sitcoms so old and influential that most people even my age don’t find it funny because it’s been mimicked within an inch of its life.

While most of the tree houses featured on Treehouse Masters are, indeed, rural or suburban, a few have been featured in the back gardens of detached city houses, which I like, cos it accentuates the fact that the only limit to tree houses is having enough trees that are up to the task of supporting a human structure –and to be frank, those trees can be just about anywhere.

I also love how Pete literally talks to the trees, will openly state that he’s poking around for the right energy, and has a clear attitude that if a tree or small cluster of trees wants or doesn’t want a treehouse there, he’ll not only see physical signs, but feel the vibe, as well.

The Pool Master, a related show following a man who creates naturalistic swimming pools based on the landscape and making use of local materials, is hosted by an equally Animistic designer. Cos designing swimming pools takes out of the patch of land they’re built into, he also takes care to move and re-plant any little native trees or flora, even if it annoys his workers. He always seems genuinely saddened when the workers accidentally injure or kill a plant that he’d rather move, and in spite of the editing done to make this seem like the silly ideas of an eccentric landscape artist, I’m always right there with him.

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.

Christian Privilege Checklist

I originally found this piece here, at It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, and I’m cross-posting it here with some edits and explanations.

1: You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays.
Don’t lecture me about how “nuh-uh!!!!” Look, buddy, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, Michigan is an historically progressive region of a blue state. I have lived in this state among some of the highest immigrant populations in the Midwest, and not all that far from THE highest Muslim population in the United States, and the highest Jewish and Hindu populations in Michigan, and the further West you go in the state of Michigan, the more conservative and Christian it gets, but that’s still nothing compared to some of the allegedly centre-left parts of the South I’ve been exposed to. There is practically NOTHING except the 7-Elevens, and a handful of Chinese restaurants and Cineplexes and maybe a few call-centres for the cable company or LiquidWeb, and obviously the ER are open on Christmas Day in Michigan —this is just as true of Ann Arbor and Ypsilnti as it is of Grand Rapids, as it is of Detroit, as it is of Lansing. Are there some places open, in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand? Sure, I imagine so, but here’s the kicker, those places are so few and far-between, when taking in the entirety of the Anglosphere, that it amounts to little statistical relevance. Now, Easter, sure, I’ll give that it’s easier to find places that are open on Easter —which I always thought was odd, considering that Christianity is little more than a death cult, so you’d think the day of their god-man’s death would be more important to honour— but who has ever had an employer raise an eyebrow over requesting Easter off? In my experiences, people with children tend to be offered that time off, whether they’re known to be Christian or not. The point is that it’s expected that people will want those days off work, and (especially if they’re privileged in other areas, as well) they’re rather often given that time off.

And don’t lecture me about how “everybody has Christmas off! Even non-Christians!!!” Cos that’s not the point. I’m sure many Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Hindus, polytheists, and so on, who work at Barnes & Noble or Kroger or other places would gladly work Christmas Day if that day was available for them to work in exchange for having their own religious holidays off, but it isn’t available to an overwhelming majority of them, because Christian holidays are privileged. And getting a paid day off for Christmas while being forced to use unpaid time in the event that a Hindu might actually get offered Diwali (for example) off is kinda bullshit.

2: Music and television programs pertaining to your religion’s holidays are readily accessible.
Now, I admit that I have something of a guilty pleasure for Christmas music —I also have a guilty pleasure for the films of Burt I. Gordon, but then, that’s what a guilty pleasure is: Something you know is devoid of any real substance, meaning, or skill, or is just plain bad (to be fair, Gordon’s visual effects were pretty good for his day, and many are still used, even in high-budget blockbusters, simply cos they’re cheap and they work, but overall, his films as a whole are pretty stinky), but you know this and you like it, anyway. What can I say? I’ve kind of gone beyond being an aficionado of cheese, and am something of an addict, needing a minimum maintenance dose, and even Velveeta will do, in a pinch, and Christmas music is to pop music what that “nacho sauce” dispensed at convenience store spigots is to cheese: Believe it or not, that stuff is often made with real cheese in there, but you really can’t believe it, to look at it.

That said, find me a radio station that will play a Kharitesia song, and I’ll give you $100. Find me a television station playing a film about the story of Hop-tu-naa, and I’ll give you $150. The fact of the matter is that there is no shortage of Christian media out there. There are entire radio stations (at least two in the Lansing area, alone) dedicated to Christian music, and only in the most-progressive areas will a college station get away with, say, a Hindu music hour without at least a sad attempt at public protest. Pagan and polytheist media is pretty much only bought, sold, and traded on the Internet and tiny little bookshops that have to sell overpriced chunks of quartz to keep the rent paid. While the Internet is certainly more-mainstream than it was when I first logged on around ’95, it still isn’t the “gold standard” for media the way older media outlets are still treated. So yeah, you can easily find pagan music CDs and downloads on or Rhapsody, and if you live in a sufficiently large or progressive area, you likely can find at least one pagan bookstore in addition to Kosher and Halaal grocers, and maybe even a Hindu temple or two, but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts, for every one of those places, in the same town you’ll find at least two Christian bookstores. There is likely at least one sad AM radio station in your area playing exclusively Christian music. You can go to Target in December and find clearly religious Christmas cards mixed in with the “secularised” cards featuring reindeer and snowmen, and the Channukah stuff is, at best, regulated to a tiny endcap, if you’re lucky. You’ll have a one-in-ten chance of finding Eid greeting cards on an endcap (that stat is based on personal experience) –and good luck finding anything non-Judeo-Christian at Wal-Mart. Don’t hold your breath on finding Hindu or polytheisr religious media or greeting cards at any mainstream store in North America, and Christian media is by far yhe easiest religious media available.

3: It is easy to find stores that carry items that enable you to practice your faith and celebrate religious holidays.
Doing a search for stores that sell polytheist, pagan, or “new age” items in the Lansing area gives me one place: Triple Goddess. Their selection for Hellenic stuff is…. Well, except for herbs and incenses (which is kind of all-purpose for polytheist and most “pagan” religions) their items for Hellenists is pretty much non-existent. I also get a better price on herbs at the food co-op, but I pretty much have better luck on-line, meaning that I have to plan stuff weeks in advance. On the other hand, finding Christian bookstores is far easier (at least five in Lansing that I pass by on a regular basis, alone), and at the big booksellers, the “religion” sections are big, and pretty much completely Abrahamic; non-Abrahamic religions aren’t even “religion” by the bookstore categories, they’re “Metaphysical/Occult” or “New Age”.

4: You aren’t pressured to celebrate holidays from another faith that may conflict with your religious values.
I have been straight-up told that I *should* celebrate Christmas. “But I’m not Christian” –oh, it’s not just for Christians! “‘Christmas’ is a contraction of ‘Christ’s mass’, so yes, it is implicitly Christian, and I find the secular aspects of Christmas to be far more offensive to my values than the religious aspects” –you just don’t get it, it’s about peace, and family! “There are other holidays I’d rather celebrate that don’t sully the values of ‘peace and family’ with messages of greed and waste.”

I have been having that conversation, in some form or another, for about fifteen years. DO NOT DARE tel me that non-Christians aren’t ever pressured to celebrate holidays they may very well (believe it or not) have no interest in.

5: Holidays celebrating your faith are so widely supported you can often forget they are limited to your faith (e.g. wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” without considering their faith).
Contrary to popular belief, the trend of wishing some-one “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” is not new, and only in recent years has it been something made policy of at retailers and among government employees. That said, Fox News lied to you: Absolutely no-one has ever been fired over wishing a customer “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays”; it may get an occasional customer complaint, but it’s never once been something anyone has been fired over. I don’t think anybody has ever even gotten more than a write-up over it, if only cos it’s so common that most people, including non-Christians, don’t even notice that the cashier uttered “Merry Christmas” rather than the more-inclusive “Happy Holidays”.

6: You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats.
What’s that? You’re a Christian and sometimes people make fun of you? You’re a Christian and you think that the enforcement of “separation of church and state” is some kind of personal attack on your beliefs? Suck it up, kiddo, cos with precious fee-fees so fragile, I imagine you would have had a meltdown by the age of sixteen if you were me.

When I started looking into paganism and polytheist religions in junior high, I was beaten up DAILY. Not only class-mates, but occasionally older siblings and one kid’s father made death-threats regularly. There were a lot of reasons my father gave me an ultimatum to either go to mass with him, or to meeting house with my step-mother, but no more of this “pagan” nonsense. In some areas, Muslims have had it worse than even I have.

So yeah, boo-fucking-hoo; a few Christians (usually of the right-wing or otherwise anti-science variety) get a few minor insults and that hurts their fee-fees. Cry me a fucking river.

7: A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t likely lead to your car being vandalized.
Somebody in the comments of the original post I’ve taken this from said something about Christian bumper seeing stickers that have been “scratched off”. For vandalism, that’s pretty petty, to be honest. I doubt that any civil court would even allow such a suit to be treated as “vandalism”, cis bumper stickers get damaged and come off all the time, under all sorts of circumstances. Furthermore, what was the history of these cars? Maybe they were purchased used, from a neighbour, and this was all of the bumper sticker that the new owner could remove in a hurry? Hell, maybe it wasn’t even intentional, maybe a student driver just scraped your car at the Meijer car park, and Christian Juggalo has a fucking persecution complex. I’ve also seen some pretty hardcore vandalism —like, somebody smashing windows out, and then writing “Jesus saves” in the dust on the door of cars that just had a “CoExist” sticker with all the religious symbols. “Darwin fish” emblems are notoriously vandalised, to the point that the company sells then offers replacement feet and even full replacement policies. If you’ve only lost a sticker, you’re lucky.

8: You can practice your religious customs without being questioned, mocked, or inhibited.
As an institutionalised privilege, this is completely true. If you attempt to inhibit a Christian prayer group in the park in any way, especially if they have a shelter permit, you’re going to get a citation; perusing the archives on The Wild Hunt suggest that this is not always true for polytheists or the “pagan” community, even if it’s just a Pagan Pride Day with no public ritual, interrupters have to cross some pretty major lines before their disruptions are taken seriously by authorities.

9: If you are being tried in court, you can generally assume (and usually be correct) that the jury of “your peers” will share your faith and not hold that against you in weighing decisions.
Considering that most people in the Anglosphere are Christian, yes, this is absolutely true. There is no guarantee that non-Christians will not have their religion held against them by a jury. If you search the archives on The Wild Hunt and WitchVox, you’ll see that non-Abrahamic religionists quite often have that held against them.

10: When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith.
Now, this is a situation that’s kind of improving, but only in the sense of “you have to out yourself as a non-Christian to get out of it”. See above. If this is happening in a jury trial, your choice is to either swear on a book that means nothing to you (lie) or out yourself, and potentially have a jurist or all of them weigh it against you. Good luck with that.

11: Positive references to your faith are seen dozens of times a day by everyone, regardless of their faith.
Yes, this is true.

From “God Save the Queen” to the ALTERED US Pledge of Allegiance to the talking heads of Faux News to billboards pitching that new megachurch as so awesome and welcoming. All have the same implicit (and sometimes explicit) message: Christianity is awesome, and if you don’t agree, there is something wrong with you.

12: Politicians responsible for your governance are probably members of your faith.
The exceptions to this in the US and UK combined, I can count on one hand. “Well, of course that’s true, the overwhelming majority of people in those countries are Christian! That’s not a privilege! lawlbuttslawl” Actually, yeah, it is. It’s a privilege because these are the people responsible for why the Ten Commandments are displayed at courthouses in the US. It’s a privilege cos those are the people who caved to the Catholics in the Knights of Columbus and added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance. It’s a privilege cos those are the people who have ultimate say in courts.

13: Politicians can make decisions citing your faith without being labeled as heretics or extremists.
While there have certainly been a handful of extremists in recent years, there have also been many more who are not. Democrats and Centrists regularly cite Christian scripture and other writings and it seldom reflects poorly upon them, at most you might see Faux News claiming said people are somehow only making attempts to appear Christian.

14: It is easy for you to find your faith accurately depicted in television, movies, books, and other media.
This is true for Christianity. While individual sects may not be equally represented, there is no shortage of fair, generally accurate depictions of Christianity’s beliefs and individual, modern Christian depicted in the news and entertainment media. Now, historical Christians are seldom represented accurately, instead to be represented favourably –which is a very obvious christian privilege (see this post and the section on historical revisionism).

15: You can reasonably assume that anyone you encounter will have a decent understanding of your beliefs.
Again, this is generally true. Yes, certain sects may be portrayed inaccurately and perhaps unfavourably, and extremists of any religion are generally portrayed unfavourably, but the thing about Christianity is that all the sects are typically regarded to be of the same religion because they share more in common with each-other than, say, Buddhists have in common with Muslims, for example. Sure, there’s a bit of common ground in most religions, but not enough to make people forget that they’re not the same thing with some variance by sect.

In general, Christians believe in the sacredness of the books of the Old Testament and they believe in the “New Testament” mythology of the Christ figure including that said figure was both Divine and Human in nature. Christians also generally believe in The ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, and in virtues such as humility and self-sacrifice –true, in the US in the 2010s, there aren’t many people who claim to be Christian and who would be described as pious or devout to the ideals and virtues outlined in The Holy Bible, but these are the universal, or nearly-universal beliefs of just about all Christian sects, as observed by myself and many people who’ve read it all far more recently.

16: You will not be penalized (socially or otherwise) for not knowing other people’s religious customs.
Again, no-one is ever fined for this, and people have been *VERY RARELY* penalised, socially, for lacking a modicum of familiarity with another’s non-Christian religion.

17: Your faith is accepted/supported at your workplace.
Does your employer have reduced hours, or are they perhaps closed completely on Sundays? Is Christmas an automatic day-off? Is Easter given off to most (if not all) those who request it (assuming your employer has any hours at all on Sundays)? Can you wear a fancy crucifix necklace or an overtly Christian t-shirt without being accused of “making a scene” for those accoutrements, alone?

Guess what that means?

18: You can go into any career you want without it being associated with or explained by your faith.
Again, generally true. Jews are stereotypically associated with banking. Yoga instructors with Hinduism and pop-Dharmic New Age movements (though to be fair, there’s a clear reason for that, even though Western yoga is comparatively “secularised”). Anyone working at a food co-op or feminist bookstore is generally assumed to be some sort of neopagan.

19: You can travel to any part of the country and know your religion will be accepted, safe, and you will have access to religious spaces to practice your faith.
Again, generally very true. There are still parts of the US South where you don’t want to be Jewish, and in more of the South you absolutely don’t want to be Muslim. While there are pockets of acceptance of Dharmic, polytheist, and pagan religions throughout the South, Midwest, and Rockies, you really don’t want to venture too far from those areas if any of those religious groupings apply to you.

20: Your faith can be an aspect of your identity without being a defining aspect (e.g., people won’t think of you as their “Christian” friend)
Yeah, sure, if you’re friends with a sizeable group of non-Christians, they may regard you that way, but surely you know that’s not the norm, right?

21: You can be polite, gentle, or peaceful, and not be considered an “exception” to those practicing your faith.
Again, an exception to this would be if you have a considerably large-ish group of friends who are explicitly non-Christian.

22: Fundraising to support congregations of your faith will not be investigated as potentially threatening or terrorist behavior.
This happened when Muslim groups made fundraising efforts after 11 September 2001. If you search The Wild Hunt archives, you’re also sure to find at least one instance where a pagan group met that treatment.

23: Construction of spaces of worship will not likely be halted due to your faith.
Churches go up all the time, and no-one really does anything. Maybe once every thousand churches, some Atheist fuck-noodle will make a sign in hopes of seeing himself on the news, but that’s not what’s important.

In contrast, Park51, the Muslim community centre that was proclaimed “a mosque at ground zero!! skerry!!” by sensationalist headlines has been stonewalled. The Maetreum of Cybele has won several court cases to maintain their facilities, but the town where they operate seems on a mission to run them out (read about it on their site).

24: You are never asked to speak on behalf of all the members of your faith.
It’s not necessary for Christians to do so, because even those who are not of a Christian religion still maintain enough of a general familiarity with it. Again, specific sects (especially the ones that are regarded as “extreme’ or “wacky”, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Menonites, or Mormons might still get people who expect ‘Joe, their Mormon friend” to ask as a Mormonism spokesman, but only because it’s so far removed from mainstream sects of Christianity.)

You can go anywhere and assume you will be surrounded by members of your faith.

25: Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of teachers who share your faith.
Also generally true of the especially mainstream sects, and the “frienge” sects can still generally assume that there will be a shared or mostly-shared mythology and some of the more basic virtues.

26: Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of friends who share your faith.
Yes, even if you send them to public school.

27: It is easily accessible for you or your children to be educated from kindergarten through post-grad at institutions of your faith.
Also very true.

28: Disclosing your faith to an adoption agency will not likely prevent you from being able to adopt children.
You’re on the Internet, use your search engine. This is especially an issue with many private agencies, as opposed to most state-run facilitators of adopting children.

29: In the event of a divorce, the judge won’t immediately grant custody of your children to your ex because of your faith.
Also search The Wild Hunt archives

30: Your faith is taught or offered as a course at most public institutions.
Yeah, “Pagan Studies” is a budding field, but “Christian studies” is offered at every major university, and most of the non-major ones. There is no shortage of universities to study Christianity at.

31: You can complain about your religion being under attack without it being perceived as an attack on another religion.
Also very true. When Christians (mistakenly) believe that their religion is under attack, they’re just whiners. When people of other religions make the (significantly more valid) claim of their religion being under attack, even when it’s couch in the most civil tones, even that person’s co-religionists will often perceive it as just an excuse to attack Christianity, even when it clearly is not.

32: You can dismiss the idea that identifying with your faith bears certain privileges.
If this wasn’t evidence of Christian privilege, it simply would not be on the list.

33: You can critique Christianity and extremists or even mainstream Christians and be considered “objective” rather than “biased”, and practically no-one will think you “just have an axe to grind” or similar.

Share more in the comments below!
Yes, feel free to do so!

Since this post was literally MONTHS in the making (if was in my Draft queue for about six months, mainly cos I’d get distracted with other posts, occasionally cos i didn’t feel the need to attract undue attention from, well, stuff like #33, why not show some appreciation by donating to my moving expenses? If you’d rather get something out of the deal (or at least if stuff is one of your weaknesses), I have an Etsy shop full of badges and even a book! Book! It comes highly recommended by Edward Butler, and last I heard, he was even anticipating the forthcoming stories! If everyone’s favourite radical Platonist loves my stories, surely you will, too!

I’m also still giving away (free to anyone!) Heathen/Northern goddess prayer cards! If you or someone you know would like to have any of these, drop me a note via the Contact form. ANY CARDS I STILL HAVE LEFT ON MONDAY (which at this rate, might still be all of them) WILL BE LEFT AT CRAZY WISDOM BOOKSTORE AND TEA ROOM IN ANN ARBOR, MI, IN AN ENVELOPE ON THE CORKBOARD IN BACK, MARKED “FREE TO GOOD HEATHENS, TAKE ONLY THE ONE(S) YOU WANT”!! I’m seriously afraid that if I keep them longer than this, I may lose them and be unable to give them away until after I’m settled back in the A2/Ypsi area (and not simply in A2/Ypsi couch-surfing with my cat until we have a stable home).

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.

[review] Goth Craft: The magickal side of dark culture by Raven Digitalis

Goth-Craft-Digitalis-Raven-9780738711041Title: Goth Craft: The magickal side of dark culture
Authorship: Raven Digitalis
Publisher: Llewellyn International
Year Published: 2007, First Edition
ISBN-10: 0738711047
ISBN-13: 978-0738711041

This book is pretty much a mixed bag and while I kinda get why some things are said the way they are in this book, my experiences won’t really let me sit on my hands about a few of its problems, which would likely seem relatively minor if I were some-one without my experiences.

First off, this book starts off with a chapter introducing people to the Goth subculture –for those who are very new, those who know some stuff but not a lot, and for nerds like me who fact-check everything like an annoying pedant (by the way –that line is foreshadowing the review: I will be an annoying pedant, for the most part, but I am an annoying pedant because I care). There’s a bit of a history which is mostly correct; I have a feeling that I could nit-pick Digitalis’ etymology lesson (he seems to just gloss over the rich literary “chapter” of the etymology, and subsequent cultural influence of the term “gothic”) and his stylistic choices in the differentiation between the Germanic tribes known as Goths and the current Gothic subculture here or there, but he goes into a fair amount of detail and frankly, he doesn’t just seem to make shit up in this chapter on a factor of “truthiness” or “feels”, like a pretty blatant etymological error in Kaldera & Schwartzstein’s Urban Primitive, which still annoys me that it even got a pass.

While the facts about the etymology and origins of the goth subculture are generally correct, he also falls victim to a LOT of sugar-coating on some of the “ideals” touted by goths for about three decades now (more-or-less) when juxtaposed alongside the reality of the situation. He says about as much as there being no such thing as goths who are sexist, racist, queerphobic, and so on, and let me tell you, Internet: I have been in and out of the goth subculture for nearly twenty years (granted, I could make the argument that I’ve been interested in Mod subculture aspects and tropes for longer, like one of my favourite bands as a small child was The Who, but it’s safe to say I’ve had an active role in both subcultures for literally decades), there are relatively few, still puttering around here and there, who are more “elder” than myself (most of whom, like myself, are no longer limiting themselves to the label of “goth”, except when it seems suiting), and while certain attitudes are prominently frowned upon by many, especially the artists who are often credited with building the subculture (or at least giving it its foundation), there is also no shortage of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and so on within the Gothic subculture. Hell, most of the fashions necessitate either a bourgeoisie income if one lacks some hell of DIY skills. I’ve seen just as many goths (though, to be fair, usually young ‘uns) throw around “The Big N” in Los Angeles as I did in Virginia, a friend of mine who’s a Goth/Industrial DJ semi-recently cross-posted a blog entry from Coilhouse lamenting how the average Industrial music show, and specifically naming Combichrist and their fans as some of the biggest offenders, as little more than a bunch of dudebros in black clobber objectifying women and crying “No homo!” as they smear on marketed-as “guyliner” —after all, can’t use anything with the same debossing on the pencil as your girlfriend uses, lest someone think you’re queer! (as an aside, Digitalis, factually, points out that Industrial is a genre of dark alternative music that evolved alongside and often crossing-over with Gothic rock –something I see very few “purists” who favour deathrock or gothic rock ever acknowledging, though I think it’s more plain ignorance than revisionism — it was certainly a degree of ignorance when I was a dumb kid who insisted that “Industrial and Gothic/deathrock never had anything to do with each-other until some time in the 1990s”), there was once a YouTube account by some relatively popular Denver-area goth-industrial guy who –while his videos were pretty well-made little short films– were steeped in thinly-veiled homophobic commentary, especially his anti-Emokid series in three parts which seriously went so far as to “jokingly” advocate curb-stomping “those fags in Death Cab shirts riding Vespas”, (I don’t know if the account still exists or if the videos are still up anymore, and frankly, I found it so disgusting at the time that I have no interest in looking it up again). If you’ve been reading this shit I write here for forever, then you’re probably aware that when I came out as FTM, every friend I lost was from the Goth scene, and no, not all of them were in or from Michigan, when you have a relative “big name” NYC goth/deathrock DJ telling you “can it, Lady” after you explain in a LiveJournal comment to please use male pronouns, and an ex-friend from an LA band that’s existed in several forms since 1987 is sending you several MySpace nastygrams to tell you that you’re basically garbage over this, and you hear from the grapevine that yes, there’s a certain Midwesterner who decided to try and add that to their smear campaign against you (which few people ever took seriously, but still…), then you start to realise that the goth/industrial/deathrock scenes are NOT wholly anti- all these assorted “-isms” that it’s ideally supposed to be. Hell, I recently found a Tumblr dedicated to calling out shitty behaviour, it’s far from perfect (and arguably “ableist”, seeing as how much of that blog is in text-images that are impossible for someone with computer equipment for the blind and low-vision to read —cos we all know there are never goths with visual impairments, am I right? [coughs]), so clearly I’m not the only ass-hole who recognises this problem.

Frankly, I know the gothic subculture to have some pretty widespread problems that while, ideally, would not go unchecked by anyone in the scene, and would certainly become a big black mark on someone who seemingly has gained such “cred” as to have a recognisable name within the scene, and when I worked my way through that chapter, I couldn’t help but think that Raven Digitalis, as well-meaning as I understand this was intended to be, was just sugar-coating it all for the sake of appearances (like I said, I’ve been into this since the early-mid 1990s, I remember the Columbine shooting [which yes, in reality had nothing to do with Goths, but we sure as hell felt the weight of the world in its aftermath], and Fairuza Balk’s character in The Craft, and I’m conscious enough of current media to acknowledge that the relatively “positive” or at least sympathetic media portrayals of the Gothic subculture from the last twenty years can be counted on one hand, and the negative portrayals still outnumber by several times as many) and thus giving the bad behaviours in the scene a pass to go on as usual, since only maybe a handful of overzealous SJW kids on Tumblr want to even address these problems, and I’ve never seen a single one of them address it in a manner that will actually make the more reasonable people reflect on not just their own potential for bad behaviour, but that which they might’ve let slide for fear of rocking the boat or hoping that some-one else would call it out (don’t confuse this with a “tone argument”; there are seriously ways to say things, even without clear anger, that will absolutely shut down any reasonable discourse with people –like, any “reductio ad Hitlerum” comparison that more often than not paints the speaker as histrionic and simply failing to understand the nuances of human experience). I mean, I guess it’s nice that, as a white, cisgender guy in the goth scene, especially as a relatively prominent DJ and photographer in one of the “flyover states”, he has been the ideal person he expects the scene to be, and presumably to the best of his knowledge, so have others in the scene that he knows, and it’s nice that he’s writing this in hopes of explaining this ideal to people who may be relative nubs, but I dunno, I’m just a little bothered by what I see as a failure to address the fact that there ARE these problems in the scene that need to be called out rather than given a “No true Scotsman” sort of pass that absolves people of the responsibility to calling it out: After all, if Jacob von Eldritch throws around “The Big N” and says that trans people aren’t the gender/s we say we are, then he’s not really a goth, so true goths have no responsibility to call out his bad behaviour —cos that’s how that fallacy is often applied, when you bring up the genocides and conversion by sword commited in the name of Christianity, there are always way more vocal Christians going “oh, well, see, no true Christian would do that sort of thing, so I don’t have to address it!”. We all know that’s BULLSHIT.

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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.

I’ve Been Asked to Take on an Annual Publication

No, not by Anyone corporeal. You remember this convo, right?

Once upon a time, I was music editor for a very short-lived Goth magazine —after my editor-in-chief got screwed over by a few people, including a printer, the only reason that the first issue (and only) exists at all is cos of Which kind of pissed me off, but all-in-all, if the printer didn’t screw us over, the magazine might’ve very well been doomed to fold within a few issues, anyway, cos my former-EIC still swears to this days that if not for one other person and myself on her staff of about a dozen people, there probably wouldn’t’ve even been a first issue, cos it seemed most people signed up just to say that they wrote for a Goth magazine rather than cos they enjoyed writing. Of course, I could also go on about how I turned down paid writing offers cos of all the time and energy I was devoting to the magazine just to watch it collapse like a house of cards once the cat senses something happening on the table (fuck you, kitty).

So, I’m aiming for about 150 – 250 pages for the first volume.

The title I’m working with is Nocturnal Spirits, and the sub-title is “An Annual of Gothically-Inclined and Spiritual Art & Writing”. I’d be enthralled if other people wanted to donate pieces, but I’m not considering it necessary, at this point, and I’m expecting it to be mostly my own stuff, anyway. I also just found my never-before-published interview with Rodney Anonymous of The Dead Milkmen and, later (with his wife Vienna) the Gothic-folk combo Burn Witch Burn, so that’ll be in this, as well.

If you feel inclined to donate a piece, keep these guidelines and rules in mind:

  1. I’m on disability. At this time, I don’t think I’ll be able to pay anyone for contributions to the first volume, so consider it a donation.
  2. Because of my experiences with Spooky Magazine, all donated pieces should be e-mailed to me and a) should be in a Word .doc or .rtf file, and b) MUST be prefaced with a cover letter that acknowledges that this is being given freely for non-exclusive publication rights to Ruadhán J McElroy and Nocturnal Spirits without any expectation of payment; the cover letter should contain your full legal name (if different from your by-line), e-mail address, and an electronic signature (if you cannot make an electronic signature, talk to me, we can work something out). If things turn out well, I might be able to swing 3 – 5¢/word for pieces up to 1000 words in future issues, but this first one I simply cannot do that for.
  3. Pieces can be on just about anything relating to the gothic subculture and/or spirituality. I’m not going to publish everything people send to me, so if you want to stand out, pieces related to Khthnoic or otherwise “dark” deities (any pantheon –sorry I don’t know the equivalent of Khthonoi for other pantheons), and anything that relates to both the gothic subculture *and* spirituality would be excellent.
  4. Some ideas i have no idea what to do with that I’ll allow some people to steal (or at least do their own versions of): Detailed experiences with a deity on the dancefloor, deities you associate with members of The Addams Family (cos I’m corny like that), are you spiritually energised by the night, poetry for the blessed, honoured, or deified dead, why doesn’t it get any realer than cults to the dead… Some other, broader ideas i have: Pieces about history, classic literature, films, philosophy, aesthetics, etc…
  5. You can donate photography or other artwork, but to keep things inexpensive, I’m publishing in glorious B&W, so if it doesn’t look good rendered in B&W, I might reject it.
  6. Short pieces of fiction are acceptable, especially in the form of mythology (re-written or modern).

In theory, I’ll accept pieces about spirituality that relate to just about any path, but seeing as the Wiccanate do still have a few quarterly rags to have their stuff published, traditional/ancestral/recon polytheism-related pieces will be moved to the front of the line, because that’s how i roll.

Feel free to spread this like plague.

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.

Science + Nature + “The Unknown”/Religion: All things in moderation and moderation in all things

It’s been years since I’ve seen the film, but this is pretty spot-on to how I’ve interpreted it —especially when he points out that a balance is best, and ultimately, it was “the unknown” that provided the solution.

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.

If you came here looking for Aloma Shamanatrix and Matthew Miracle:

I seem to be a victim of mistaken identity.

It seems this post I made after watching the hot mess of a NatGeo Taboo episode they were featured in, I’ve gotten a lot of hits from people searching for them. In fact, in some searches, that post goes back-and-forth between the #2 or #1 spot on a search for them.



Click on the purple text directly above this very line —I know that you can.

This blog has nothing to do with either of them; DO NOT use my contact page in hopes of reaching them to tell them you love them, cos it won’t reach them. Aloma’s email is clearly given on the frontpage of their website —use that. Remember how to use e-mail? I know it takes a little more effort to go back to your email, type an e-mail address into the proper line, think of a subject line, etc…, but oh well, that’s how they do it. She also has added Twitter and FaceBook contact options.

That said, because of my nice blog post saying nice things about them, I’ve since become a friend of Aloma’s, so I do not in any way condone sending them nasty letters and hate mail any more than I approve of you mistakenly sending hatemail to me that is intended for them. If you have nice things to say to them, please tell THEM, not me; they were very disappointed with the Taboo eppie, and have very mixed feelings about people contacting them because of it, so if you liked them, READ THEIR SITE (Taboo left out a LOT of what they’re about), and send kind words and energy their way. If you didn’t like them? Seriously, get a new hobby. I acknowledge that Discord’s energy has a place in the world, but these are two lovely people I’m proud to think of as friends (though regretfully not very close) and they DO NOT need discordant energy.

So let’s recap:

  • I am neither Aloma nor Matthew. I’m a casual friend of theirs, I plan on eventually meeting them, but my name is Ruadhán J McElroy, and I do completely different things, and have a completely different calling. I may love them, be inspired by them, and share some common ground with them, but I’m a completely different person, living in a house, with cats, writing stories about the Mod subculture and making badges (not making improvisational tribal music), eating meats and drinking absinthe…. I’m *so* not them.
  • Aloma and Matthew have THEIR OWN WEBSITE, and also their own E-MAIL, and FACEBOOK, and TWITTER, that can all be used to contact them. Using MY CONTACT PAGE will only annoy me, I will most likely reply to you as if you are quite simple, I will forget to forward your e-mail, and later, when I think about maybe forwarding your e-mail, I will remember my nasty reply to you and assume I’d only be making them look bad by association. IN OTHER WORDS: Don’t use my contact page in hopes of reaching Aloma and Matthew, as it may never reach them.


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.

Psyche Rock Opera update!

I previously mentioned this project here, but I’m going to embed the funding info again:

As of right now, there is only about two days left to help fund this project!

I’m also hoping to interview the woman behind it all for the blog, so let’s get some prayers out that both will happen!

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.

[review] The Urban Primitive by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein

urban-primitive-kaldera-schwartzsteinTitle: The Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle

Authorship: Raven Kaldera & Tanin Schwartzstein
Publisher: Llewellyn International
Year Published: 2002, First Edition
ISBN: 0738702595

I first want to say that I scrapped my first draft of this review because, as odd as this may sound, I thought it was unintentionally mean, well beyond anything this book, which is full of problems, deserves. I also got really self-conscious that some might interpret it as a personal attack against one of its authors, Raven Kaldera, who I honestly want to like (he’s one of the few people amongst the FTM spectrum on FetLife who is seriously realistic about TS/TG issues, even if some of the things he’s written for the public about the TS/TG community and his own transition may seem problematic, especially out of context or if one is making a habit of projecting), and so I really wanted to like one of the few books published (only three, ever, that I’m aware of) about urban pagan and polytheist spirituality —as odd as I find it that some-one who proudly runs a rural homestead would get involved in a book about urban spirituality, I was optimistic, at first, and still believe that even the most awful parts were included with the best intentions.

Tanin Schwartzstein’s introduction is wonderful and very welcoming to those whose spirituality is urban-centred —dare I say, I even saw bits of my own experiences in the recollection and lamentation of a pagan community that dismisses the city as “cold” and spiritually “dead”, especially as one whose experiences are of anything but. I’m also convinced that she’s responsible for some of the best parts of the book that follows (though I assign equal blame for the worst parts, cos if either of them knew better, one of them should have caught it and revised).

I love that this book is written for those with limited income in mind, and offers detailed suggestions on the arts of dumpster diving, thrift store combing, and frugal resources that are not only kind to one’s wallet, but also the environment. There are several helpful lists in this book for herbs, incenses, stones, even colours, and their uses in different purposes. One of the best parts is even an entire chapter dedicated to common plants found in most cities in North America, and their purposes and meanings. Another list is even specifically for suggestions on budget-minded substitutions for scented oils, and suggestions on budget-conscious or scavenged items to use in rituals, like a piece of broken glass for rituals that need a blade and you don’t have a blade, or using stumps of candles rather than tea lights in travel kits for altars or shrines. Let me tell you, after years of looking through “pagan 101” books in the mid-1990s that made it seem like one needs a middle-class income to even start out as a Pop Wicca nub, it’s refreshing to see that, barely more than a year into the Twenty-First Century, there was finally a book that made it indisputably clear that ritual tools could be scavenged or otherwise obtained with little or no expense, and one needn’t be financially comfortable to practise pagan religions —sure, nothing beats what the ritual recommends, nobody is arguing that, but if you think burning herbs is “too expensive”, it’s really only cos you don’t know enough about where you live, and this book offers an adequate primer for that knowledge.

It’s also nice that this book is written for not just those who thrive in cities, but for those who live in the city out of necessity. I may not personally understand the appeal of rural life, but I understand the necessity on a fundamental level, and I at least understand that, for some reason barbaros to myself, there are those who prefer a pastoral lifestyle and may only be living in the city’s walls for the work, or school, or family obligations, so adequate coping mechanisms seem like a fair inclusion.

On the other hand, most of the lists are too similar to other lists I’ve seen in “Pop Wicca 101” sorts of books. While it’s nice that Kaldera has added bits to this book to make it seem useful to those whose spirituality is rural-centred but who live in urban lands due to necessity, a lot of this really does come off as a bias, making urban spirituality seem dangerous to the soul, and the city an inferior place to live; it’s really hard to get through a chapter without somehow getting a potentially subtle or downright blatant guilt-trip for living in the city, or some kind of nonsense “warning” about dangers only vaguely alluded to, with practically nothing to back up most claims about the alleged physical risks (aside from crime rates, which is easily searchable on-line) and some of the more obvious pollution risks, and let me tell you, not even the developed countryside is without its pollution and risks to the environment —do a search on The Dust Bowl, kids, it wasn’t a gridiron game, and over eighty years later, it’s still affecting the central United States. While the introduction is wonderful, even describing experiences similar to my own, the book that follows it flip-flops between celebrating the Urban Divine and blaming all cities everywhere for everything wrong with the world.

This book also suffers from its constant use of vague claims, and almost never giving much, if anything, in the way of specifics to make for ease of fact-checking. The index is present, but not quite as comprehensive as I usually hope for a book of this length, and a proper bibliography of sources is practically nonexistent, so aside from the rare mention of other books and references in the text, there’s no real way to check whatever sources may have been utilised. Sorry, kids, but a “Recommended Reading” list (largely of books from the same publisher —curious, non?) is not the same as a Bibliography. Some quotes also seem like they might have been taken from an e-mail list or Usenet group or something, something I’ve discerned from the fact that the quoted person is unsearchable in a pagan context, and there’s a mention of an Internet group in the book acknowledgements, so confirming the backgrounds of the people quoted isn’t easy, sometimes even impossible —sometimes, that’s important, but to be fair, gven the context of many quotes in the book that fall in this potential category, it’s really not necessary. When it is necessary, on the other hand it’s something that really bothers me, and appears to be a trait of Llewellyn books that seems far too common, contributing to the negative reputation of the publisher amongst religious reconstructionists and academic pagans. And speaking of, I had hoped, knowing Kaldera’s background and that he’s also collaborated with Kenaz Filan, who I completely respect, that this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but I guess that’s what I get for hoping. That said, one of the best and most quoted people in the book is credited as “Beth Harper, Nashville witch”; I was incredibly disappointed to find her practically impossible to find on the Internet.

And this book makes a lot of really dumb factual errors that could have been avoided with a modicum of research. The one that really stands out for me, to the point that it just seems like a prime example of “making shit up in hopes of sounding smart” is conflating the Horai (Goddesses of time and seasons) and the Khorea (or “Hora”; a group of traditional circular dances from the Mediterranean and Near East) and attempting to link both to “sacred [prostitution]” (they use the word “harlots”), and explaining that it’s an etymology of “whore” and thus strip tease and erotic dance, as a profession, is directly descended from goddess worship (Chapter 5, page 50). Trying to decide where to begin on how much is wrong with that little “etymology lesson” kind of gives me a headache, because there is just so much wrong with it. Just to give you a taste of how wrong that claim is, there is no clear or even muddy etymological link between the Horai, or even Khorea, and “whore” —the word “whore” is descended from the Old Norse hora, meaning “adulteress”; considering that Kaldera is best known amongst pagan circles for his “Northern tradition”, I’m just floored at the fact that his understanding of his traditions’ languages is so sparse that he either didn’t catch that preposterous fallacy or, may the gods forbid, he desired to include it.

Of course, whether some Hellenists utilising religious reconstruction care to admit it or not, not only was there magic practised in ancient Hellas, but a lot of the “spells” and other rituals mentioned in this book bare a similarity to ancient Hellenic practises that are somehow “not magic” by the circular logic employed by some Hellenic circles, and can be easily adjusted to fit the standard ritual script of Hellenic practise. In the chapter on Protection Spells, the recommendation of drawing eyes, with oil, on windows and over the threshold of doors, even on the stairs, is not a far cry from the ancient Greeks putting apotropaic eyes on drinking vessels and heads of Gorgons at the threshold, this is just a modern, and argueably stealth adaptation of an ancient practise. Granted, you really need a good background in Hellenic practises to catch that sort of thing, but if this is your first time hearing of such a thing, don’t take my word for it, go check out apotropaic eyes in ancient Greece, and it’s clear that this simple little protection ritual is adaptable to Hellenic practises.

One of the complaints about this book that I see a lot from people on Amazon is the “Urban Triple Deities”. Now, obviously, I don’t acknowledge these “deities” in my practise, and I am sort of sceptical that something so basic as what’s described here is even a whole deity, and honestly, I really hate the illustrations for these six epithets, but who’s to say that these aspects don’t exist in existing deities? Knowing that Kaldera is a polytheist, I’m sure there’s intention that these simplistic figures can be aspects of existing deities, and knowing that Schwartzstein describes her religion on Teh FarceBorg as simply “pagan spiritualist”, there’s room to regard these as complete deities, if one so chooses. I can easily see traits of Hestia in Squat, “goddess of Parking Spaces”, whether it be your car or your bed, Skor, the scavenger goddess, strikes me as an epithet of Demetre or possible Tykhe, and Skram, Who warns you away from potential dangers, is a clear face of Hekate; Slick, the silver-tongued, works as an aspect of Hermes (something the book even suggests), Screw seems a simplistic, Neizchean aspect of Dionysos, and Sarge seems a sort of superficial Zeus or perhaps Ares. I also don’t see how most of these aspects of deity are specifically urban; having gone to high school in a rural area, I can assure you, rural people are no stranger to needing spaces, needing motivation, an anonymous lay, being in danger (I’m sure “Skram” might’ve been just as useful in Laramie, Wyoming, which has a smaller population than Adrian, MI, the latter being indisputably rural), or even scavenging (hello? gleaning, anybody?), but if this is a device that can open some-one’s eyes to these aspects and relevance to the city, then awesome.

In the previous chapter, though, ancient deities are addressed. Again, I have mixed feelings about this. I understand the space constraints the authors were working with, and to their credit, they acknowledged that the deities mentioned were described in overly simplistic manners and further research is best. On the other hand, there is no shortage of statements made that even a casual, but genuine relationship with a deity could easily prove false. I’m sick of people assuming Apollon only digs classical music, and saying “[He’s] not interested in rock or rap or hip hop … [play] classical music, or He’ll frown” just after suggesting propitiating Him in a record store (Chapter 5, page 49), is more than a bit contradictory —seriously, people, if He’s the God of music, why limit music for Him to a single genre? In my experiences, Apollon really loves Nick Cave. I doubt that Thoth is simply “the Egyptian god of writing” (in fact, Wikipedia suggests I’m right about that). Zeus and Odin? Not the same deity. I really have to argue against the notion that Athene is the primary Hellenic goddess associated with science museums —not only is the name of the Moisai in the word “museum”, Ourania is specifically associated with astronomy, and Kleio’s domain of “history” can logically extend to natural history and evolutionary sciences. Saturn has nothing to do with “karma”, and I had to raise an eyebrow at the suggested association with the IRS —at the very least, an explanation of the logic employed would have been nifty.

One of the other problems with this book is the regular language that seems awfully Americentric, as if the whole world of Llewellyn Worldwide begins and ends with the United States. Not only is this book available at regionally domestic pricing in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, my own copy came from a UK seller via eBay (but it’s also a US copy), and Schwartzstein’s FaceBook profile states that it’s been translated into Russian. I wonder how well the suggestion that those who live along “the West Coast” fault line should worship Poseidon as a bringer of earthquakes translates to readers from Moscow? Or in Australia, where it’s the North Coast that gets more earthquakes?

Why can't we see his hands?  Gods above, why can't we see Morrissey's hands??

Why can’t we see his hands? Gods above, why can’t we see Morrissey’s hands??

What’s so wrong with simply saying “anyone in a city near a fault line should supplicate Poseidon”, especially considering that those along the North American West Coast tend to get a higher ratio of reminders of their fault line than most other people? Why force the rest of the Worldwide readers to have to mentally adjust what they’re reading? In the immortal words of a Double-Double fucker named Steve1, “America is not the world”.

Continue reading

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.

This looks Interesting: Psyche Rock Opera

There are some things in the description on the crowdfunding page and website that I can quibble with, mythologically speaking (Aphrodite as Eros’ mother AND lover? Er… And really, do I have to spell out for hard polytheists [who I’m assuming is the majority of my readers here] the folly of Joseph Campbell’s allegedly “universal” myth archetypes, and how this can sorely limit the impact and meaning of the story itself —while I can see the Psykhe mythos as fulfilling some, possibly even many aspects of the Hero’s Journey, to force Her tale into that mould tends to miss some marks of varying importance), but this looks like it’s bound to be a better effort than the Xanadu stage musical (which actually fails its Hellenic mythology WAY more than the original film, which actually recognises the Moisai as being born on Mt, Helikon, not Olympos, for starters)

Judging my the text on both sites, I’m assuming the sample music in this pitch video is just a rough cut of the music in the opera. I really don’t like the main female voice I’m hearing throughout this —she’s kinda “tinny” and strained, which reminds me of Sarah Brightman, and not in a good way1. On the other hand, I do like everything else I’m hearing, so I hope this sample isn’t reflective of the casting choices.

If I had any money, I’d probably donate a little, but if you think this is worthy of your delicious monies, feel free to give a little to their project.

1: As a classically trained singer, myself, I really dislike Brightman’s voice —and as some-one with a background, and even family background in opera, Brightman is the last choice for any director to put in something operatic. If you can’t project your voice with your own physical talents, and not a microphone, you are NOT an operatic singer. But then again, she mainly has the career she does cos ALW has been boning her for years, and everybody deserving of the very much earned title of Theatre Geek knows it. That said, I have a couple of Brightman’s pop records, cos she’s really just a pop singer and so that’s where she excells.

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.

Thank you all!

Well, it looks like social media drama queens can be useful, in some ways! I’ve gained more subscribers in the week-plus since I made that post than in any single fortnight period since I started this blog —this is, of course, not counting those who feed the .rss through Google Reader or some similar thing, which is harder to keep track of individual readers through.

So, here’s a quick run-down of what this blog and its writer, Ruadhán McElroy, are all about:

I’m a devotional / traditional Hellenic Polytheist, but unlike most traditional Hellenists, I’m following Boeotian traditions rather than Attic traditions. There are some differences between Attic (or Athenian, the major city of the region of Attika) and Boeotian polytheism traditions, including some deity names; I often consider using the Boeotian names (or Aeolic, the parent Hellenic dialect of Boeotian, Thessalian, and Lesvian dialects) that I know on this blog, such as Deus instead Zeus, or Arpus instead Eros, but I go with Attic names in the blog because I believe, in most ways, if not all, the deities are essentially the same, it’s just regional understanding of them is different. I do, though, mostly use the regional names and epithets in my practises (often interchangeably with the more common, Attic names), except in instances where I simply don’t know the name(s) used in the region.

I’m bonded, spiritually and through ritual, to Eros. This is one of, if not the main reason I specifically follow Boeotian traditions. Some may call this “god spousal”, and while I’ve used that term on occasion myself, it’s a bit more complicated than just that. In Boeotia, Eros was a major deity whose worship is traditionally traced the the city of Thespiae —thus we learn where the name of this blog comes from.

I do a religious calendar based on what I know of the Boeotian calendar and festival cycles. I call it the New Boeotian Calendar because while I practice in a reconstructionist methodology, I’ve made estimates and “guesstimates”, and sometimes selected dates based on similar festivals from HMEPA. This is because, despite the wealth of information about the ancient Boeotians, information about the calendar that is readily available to me is lacking.

I’m male gendered, but trans (so FTM, female-to-male), and of queer sexual identity. This comes up a lot, as while I certainly believe the major biological hypotheses for trans identities are plausible (the “hormone wash hypothesis” is outdated, by the way; there were some more recent studies, though, that suggest TS/TG people have a certain portion of the brain structured more similarly to the gender we say we are than the gender we were determined to be at birth —unfortunately, this etiology is controversial, as it’s impossible to examine on living patients, and very few TS/TG parients have been examined both post-mortem and pre-transition), I also believe that this was doubly important for my spiritual well-being. That said, I identify less as “trans spiritual / pagan” than I do as “gay or queer spiritual / pagan”, but my TS history and status certainly informs that in some ways.

I’m disabled. I have pronounced spinal curvature in a pattern typically associated with acondroplasic dwarfism, and I have some less noticable variants of common acondroplasia traits that my doctor pointed out; but I’m 4’11.5″ tall, so while plausible that I may have a very mild case acondroplasia (a proper diagnosis would necessitate analysis of DNA, at least at my height, but she’s pretty convinced that between my bowed legs and stubby little hands and feet, that I am the world’s tallest midget1), I’m an inch-and-a-half too tall to be considered a dwarf. I also have carpal tunnel syndrome, adult type ADHD, Seasonal Affecive Disorder (Winter), and general anxiety disorder. At one time, I was working, but due to largely physical reasons, I have been unable to work for nearly ten years. I have never done well on psych meds; my cat is basically a therapy animal, as she’s the most compassionate being I know, and she’s also hyper-aware of emotional stress in humans and has a practically instinctive desire to comfort people. I supplement my disability allowance (which is less than $700/month, despite what many Republicans and ignorant people on the Internet might want you to believe) with writing stories and selling badges on Etsy; my two novels (so far) are Simple Man and New Dance. That said, this is pretty much the closest I get to the whole “my life is an open blog” type of thing, and I mainly mention it cos sometimes I’m in too much pain, or just too stressed out, or too busy with my stories or badges, to write on a particular day. I also have another blog, The Odd Mod Out; depending on my mood, or the weather (so.. basically, my mood). I have some more personal facts posted alongside my Very Inspiring Blogger award.

My spirituality is very urban based. I used to do a blog called Urban Hellenistos, but I realised that, as I was working on that 30 Days of Paganism blog meme, and a blog project where I make a few posts a week about the deities worshiped in Boeotia, that a lot of my urban spirituality is not at all separate from Boeotian religion (indeed, I’ve named this blog after a city in Boeotia), so the other blog is archived, and discussion is continued here in mirrored posts. I find that my ability to connect very easily with the Urban Divine makes it hard for me to relate to most people who identify as pagan, as most self-identified pagans were taught to connect to the rural and wild divine, and identify their religion as very wilderness or rural-centred. I’m also working on the first instalment of a series of posts reviewing books on or related to urban paganism.

Apparently, I’m also known amongst the Tumblrsphere for my “hilarious back-and-forth” that time my friend Kyrene posted that infamous Tim Alexander / Robin Artisson slash. I take issue with the notion that I’m a well-known figure in Ekklesia Antinoou, as I’ve done almost nothing with that group, unless you count reminding P. Sufenas of some dates or saying something queer-related here that might get referenced on the list or something. I have no idea where VVF got that idea, as while I’m still technically a part of that group, I don’t think I’ve ever been incredibly active, outside of the comments on P. Sufenas’ blog. Hell, I’m not even linked in the blogroll.

I try to be very good about categories and tags in this blog, so that not only can they be optimised for search engines, but so that I (and my readers, of course —all five of them) can find posts or topics in this blog fairly easily. Feel free to peruse the archives, comment, ask questions, et cetera…. I don’t shut off comments after a span of time, cos frankly, I don’t get that many.

So, once again, a big hearty “Thank you” to the Big Pink Ox who knows who she is for gaining me more readers and subscribers! I still doubt your abilities to say much of significant value (I mean, hell, all I’ve really done of any value to the pagan and polytheist communities was slap together an alternative Hellenic ritual calendar, and updated it; I get more hits to this blog over images of Isadora Duncan than Eros worship or Boeotian religion), but you sure have a way of both giving me a laugh and brightening my day!

1: My words, and yes, I know how disparaging many people with clinical dwarfism see that. I think, given everything I had just explained, that it’s funny, but I can also accept that you might not find it so.

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.