Moving

No, not myself and the cats, just the blog.

I don’t know how many of you noticed that the blog was offline for the last week-and-a-half, but it was, due to account suspension from the bill being behind *just enough* to set that in motion.

To prevent this from happening again, I feel it’s in my best interest to move back to WordPress.com, and eventually just discontinue my DreamHost account, since my store on Artfire isn’t yet doing well enough to carry the expense of DH, and just before that happens, I’ll start paying for ad-free WordPress, which is actually a lot cheaper than a fully-hosted DH site.

As best as I can tell, the last eight years of this blog is still importing to http://ofthespiae.wordpress.com, but it’s hard to tell. I may have to stop the import and try again, after I get to the historical museum. I started this last night, and it might be getting stuck.

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.

Did I tell you about the time Nyx pinched a nerve when I went to the Krishna House for free food and chanting?

Fry: Bender, why did you do it? We were all so happy!
Leela: And we were in love!
Bender: Phhff! That wasn’t love!
Fry: What!? How can you say that?
Bender: Because Bender knows love. And love doesn’t share itself with the world! Love is suspicious. Love is needy. Love is fearful. Love is greedy. My friends, THERE IS NO GREAT LOVE WITHOUT GREAT JEALOUSY!!!
Bender hugs Fry and Leela by the necks, choking them
Bender: I love you meatbags!

I have nothing but respect for John Beckett, and his experiences closely resemble those of many other polytheists I know and respect, as well. That said, I’ve noticed that a lot of pagans and polytheists fall into the trap of solipsism (Def1.1), and the assumption that one’s experiences are universal.

On my own path, at least at this time, it’s certainly expected of me to recognise the existence of other gods, but worship, even in the most seemingly-benign sense as taking part in the chanting and Baghavad Gita discussion after otherwise-mooching some free food at the Hare Krishna house, when my foodstamps were all but cut off, back in November 2014, is not something I’m allowed to do, at least not at this time.

I was actually having a “good day”, that evening, with regards to my back pain, but when handed a tambourine after the meal, and starting with the chanting, a nerve pinched mid-back, where I don’t typically experience pain, and don’t recall ever experiencing it in that area before, or since. This did not end until I took what I decided was the polite amount of time, suffering through it, and left the house for my shift at WCBN. It’s hard not to read that as a warning against messing ariound with Gods to Whom I don’t belong.

I can’t deny that other people have paths that allow them to officiate for, or even make some sense of contact with other gods — and that’s great, and I respect their path in that. It would also be wrong for me to deny my experiences, though, which are all telling me that this is how I’m supposed to worship, at this stage in my life; maybe this could change, in the future, and I’m certainly allowed to respect Krishna, and the homes of those who are His, but beyond that, I’ve been reigned in, and I’m good with that.

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.

Not all opinions are equal

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.

Queer is radical, assimilating and party lines are not

When first published in 1968, The UK’s Gay Times reviewed the first memoir of Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, their reviewer scathingly citing Crisp as a “bad example”, stating the book “should have been published posthumously”.

Crisp’s crime?

He was a high femme gender-bender.

When the UK’s Stonewall group launched in the 1980s, Derek Jarman had some words about its organisers and supporters, folks like Ian McKellan, who kept their sexuality closeted until it couldn’t hurt their careers (I imagine he, like myself, would have made more than a few words about George Takei’s opportunistic reinvention of himself as THE Gay of B-list celebs at a time when it actually could, and did, give his career a boost). In fact, I’ll reprint some:

THE PEACE OF ANONYMITY – STONEWALL WAS A RIOT

The queers of the sixties, like those since, have connived with their repression under a veneer of respectability. Good mannered city queers in suits and pinstripes, so busy establishing themselves, were useless at changing anything.

To be Queer was never respectable – even though you wore a suit. The more conventional, the more desperate the hidden life. Pushed to the fringes, our world existed in the twilight of Heterosoc1reality. and if anyone raised their voice in protest they were accused of endangering the peace of anonymity. A demonstration was likely to frighten the closeted, their inactivity reproached.

Stonewall was a RIOT which occurred in the summer of 1969 in Christopher Street, New York, outside a bar of the same name. For the first time Queers fought back with bricks and bottles and empty beer glasses and burned cars. The best fighters were the trannies2 – a dress was a badge of courage. The riot sparked a revolution in our consciousness. A community of interest was established and a debate was entered. The harder it was fought the more our case was furthered.

Everything that made our world visible reproached the closeted. One day it might be as silly as moaning about Quentin Crisp’s blue rinse as a BAD ROLE MODEL, or, on another, complaining of a rowdy Gay Liberation Front meeting. For them, we were not them. They took everything and did nothing, sat in their interior decoration, attended the opera and did fuck all to help change; their minds as starched as their shirts.

Twenty years later, Stonewall – the self-elected and self-congratulating parliamentary lobbying group – have made more than enough compromise with convention. Did those who rioted at the Stonewall bar fightso that we could so easily be co-opted by a gay establishment? Do they represent our best interests in Heterosoc?

Do they represent us?

Why did one man go to Downing Street to put our case? Why were there no women? Weren’t the rest of us acceptable? It was as if no Queer had ever been in number 10 before, the fuss everyone made.

…..

Part of the con was to steal the name Stonewall and turn our riot into their tea party. We are now integrated into the worst form of British hetero politic – the closed room, the gentlemen’s club – where decisions are made undemocratically for an ignorant population which enjoys emasculation.
So they 0 Stonewall – won’t acknowledge this criticism. They’ll pretend there isn’t a debate. The only way that they can succeed in their politics is through the myth of homogenity and the ‘gay community’. But our lives are plural. They always have been – sexuality is a diversity. Every orgasm brings its own liberty.

— Derek Jarman, At Your Own Rish: A Saint’s Testament, 1992

By forcing a homogenous narrative onto the trans community —by insisting that there’s no difference between us and cis people, by discouraging a plurality of thoughts and experiences and ideas of individual trans people— we are expecting anti-radicalism of the worst kind in our community. By telling us, explicitly or even implicitly, that those of us who are simultaneously a binary and non-binary gender that we’re somehow only really the latter is to throw us under the bus for the sake of respectability.

Furthermore, believe it or not, it is entirely possible to say “we have a fundamentally unique experience of our genders as trans women and trans men from that of cis people, but that does not automatically exclude us from deserving the same rights to space.

The fact that I have pretty much always stated that we trans people have a fundamentally different experience from cis people has never been a secret [1], [2], now has it perplexing me that I’ve been implicitly accused of making ideological bedfellows with some of the most despicable characters in the pagan and polytheist communities. Of course, I also really enjoy Raven Kaldera’s Hermaphrodeities, and it is not at all hard to find pseudo-radical assimilationist trans kids on Tumblr bitching about how the regular reminders throughout that, as trans and other gender-variant people, we have spiritual obligations, as least to ourselves, because of this, hurts pweshuss fee-fees because why can’t we all just be the same???

Sexuality is a plurality, and so is gender. Equal rights and equal access does not and should not erase differences for an assimilationist narrative of trans experience.

I’m really tired of white cis people cissplaining my transgender politics to me. This is something I have been working on within myself, constantly evaluating and re-assessing, exploring, debating, and meditating on for going on twenty years!

The fact of the matter is, TERFs are the ones who’ve perverted our celebration of our differences for their own despicable purposes, as an act of terrorism against trans people, effectively forcing an anti-Queer assimilationist narrative onto the “Voices” of trans justice. I’m sorry-not-sorry, but I’m not going to sit on my hands and let those thumping an assimilationist party line at me, be they other trans people or (ostensibly well-meaning) cis people who want an ally badge, scare me into erasing my differences because Ruth Barrett and others can’t handle the existence of a paradox and the simple scientific fact that paradoxes are a part of nature.


1: Heterosexual society
2: At the time Derek Jarman wrote this, “tranny” was an acceptable term in the queer community as a term of camaraderie and empowerment amongst trans folk and gender-bending gays. This is not a slurred usage, this is historical.

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 My Fellow Trans People: Stop Appropriating Other Cultures’ Gender-Variance Into Your Own Narratives

I realise the very slight relative privilege I have in this as a transsexual male (even a transvestive one), and most (though certainly not all) of the people I’ve noticed doing this in the last twenty years have been trans female or otherwise on the MTF spectrum, but it’s something I feel needs to be said:

Stop appropriating other cultures’ traditions of gender-variance.

This isn’t just a matter of white trans women calling themselves “hijra” when they are not even converts to Hinduism. Nor is this just a matter of white trans men calling themselves “Two Spirits” because they went to a sham sweatlodge at Burning Man.

This is also a matter about re-writing deities and Their ancient priesthood traditions to suit your modern agenda.

While it may be easy to work out one’s pet theories onto ancient traditions, the fact of the matter is, no-one alive today is really a part of those pre-Christian cultures, not even Western pagans and polytheists who can, at best, approximate this in a merely semi-removed subculture. We aren’t talking to these people to judge whether or not our experiences are close enough to claim we’re part of the same tradition. Just because ancient, pre-Christian Greece is different enough from modern Greece that it may seem easy to argue that the cultures are two different things doesn’t make the culture up for grabs to appropriate and repurpose for our own agendas.

The second we arbitrarily give a pass to the appropriation of one culture, for whatever reason, we open the floodgates.

After all, many Lakota are Christians, now, and their traditional culture infamously suppressed, so does that make their Two Spirit traditions up for grabs? I mean, if you want to get technical, “two spirit” probably isn’t even a real thing, you know? It’s just the English-language umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of gender-variant roles amongst dozens of Indigenous American tribes, right?

If you can argue that ancient gallai are up for grabs to appropriate and re-write their traditions and mythos for your own agenda, then why?

Broken traditions are up for grabs? I think you’ll get some side-eye from MANY groups of indigenous people who’ve had to reclaim and relearn their traditions from historic record. Hell, why not just tell the Cornish speakers of the world that their traditional language is up to redefine and appropriate because linguists insist that it’s a broken tradition when it’s not, really —take it from someone whose grandfather’s native language was a pidgin of English and Kernewek.

This is why polytheism without engaging the native cultures of our pantheons on some meaningful level is problematic, at its very best, and unfortunately, the slippery-slope, in this instance, is not a fallacy — it’s a legitimate grievance I have with other transgender people, especially in polytheist and pagan communities. By assuming it’s OK to appropriate from cultures that we’re not a part of, for any reason, we’re sending out a signal that we think it’s OK, and that any other indigenous culture is up for grabs, next, at our whims.

But hey, I get it —this helps you feel like you’re a part of something ancient, and therefore like it gives you and your gender/s an air of legitimacy, so it’s all good, right?

Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

While true that trans people have always existed, we have to look at the root for what that even means:

“Trans”, Latin for “on the other side of” or, to be more specific, on the side away from Rome, which in ancient Roman times, Rome was the default of all that was “good” and “civilized”. At its root, to be transgender is to live a gendered experience away from what mainstream society would consider the default.

That’s all we have evidence of, prior the suppression of gender-variance by Christianity — “trans people” whose experience of gender was away from the default experience of their gender assignment. We have little real evidence of ancient people who were at all like the modern notion of trans women and trans men, and that which does exist was written by outsiders to the experience (even the case of Emperor Elagabalus needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as the only claim that he sought a surgeon who could transform his body into a woman’s was written after he’d died, and by one of his staunchest critics, meaning there’s just as much likelihood, if not more, that it was a political smear).

The biological etiology of trans people is irrelevant. Not only do we lack any cadavers to afford us the most compelling evidences, the arguments from HBSers and their ilk to stress the importance of finding what they’d consider “biological legitimacy” ignore a very basic fact of medical biology: There is never just one potential cause for a condition. While there were certainly trans people whose biologies bore many of the same traits as many trans people, today, we simply cannot say how many shared those biological traits, nor can we say how many chose, say, the path of the gallae in lieu of modern medical technology and how many others simply chose a different path.

It’s nigh impossible to make an accurate comparison of modern trans people to ancient gender-variant paths. To even plant a suggestion that the two pages in history are making the same statements is absurdly appropriative, because the first page only survives in a few small fragments.

I find it highly telling that pretty much every trans person, trans woman or otherwise, I’ve seen make this appropriative claims to traditions it is impossible for them to be a part of, is white or white-passing. It’s not at all uncommon for white people to see a thing that they have no right to, and claim it as something they can use for their own purposes. Maybe they’re even doing what they feel is “sufficient research”, but then again, so are a lot of white people who are running illegitimate sweat lodges. You can’t research your way into a tradition — you are only initiated into them by another!

By appropriating ancient traditions for a socio-political agenda, one sets a bad precedent, and sends out a strong message to indigenous people: You’re next. Maybe not today, tomorrow, next week, or next year, but rest assured, you’re next. As soon as I decide I haven’t heard much about your people are doing with your traditions of gender variance, I will arbitrarily decide how much is “enough research” to appropriate your traditions, so you’re next.

Please think about this.

Yours,

— Ruadhán Jarman-McElroy

PS: I was really disappointed to see such an appropriative person is writing here, because since last I checked, the core team of Gods & Radicals are very much against such a thing as racism, but I’ve also noted that another recent piece there was little more than a thesis against modernity which, as per Rhyd’s controversial page (and pretty much the same words from Amy Hale and likewise parroted by other fans of hers) is one of the checkpoints for fascist vulnerabilities (if not outright fascism). I guess I’m saying that I’m no longer sure what purpose G&R is serving, as we see post after post from Rhyd (on G&R, his personal blog, and on FaceBook) and others in the core staff about the relationship between overt racism and the actions of racist society that those with racial privilege, even without overtly racist beliefs, are at risk of committing, and Capitalism — but this is given a pass, unchecked, when they’re a staff writer. We also see similar, in post after post, about how Fascism is a byproduct of Capitalism, and these warning signs of fascist potential need to be addressed and scrutinized — but this, too, is given a pass, when the writer is working for G&R. I mean, I like Rhyd, as a person, but I’m getting increasingly confused about what his vision for this webzine even is.

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.

And another is done

EROS-knuckles

This has been on my list of tattoos to get for at least five years.

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 Cherry Hill Seminary

(The following is modified from the letter sent by Lupa Greenwolf, which she has given others permission to C&P into the CHS contact form, if they feel it was adequately descriptive of their own feelings.)

To whom it may concern,

I am appalled that vocal transphobe Ruth Barrett is still a faculty member at Cherry Hill Seminary, but as a trans person, I cannot say that I’m surprised, as my experiences in the pagan community is that many will turn a blind eye to transphobia because “religious freedom!” — ironically unaware of the fact that this is the same claim made by Christians who wish to discriminate others based on sex / gender or sexual orientation, or simply persecute pagan and polytheist religions. As you may be aware, already, via social media circulations or other sources, Ms Barrett is currently at work compiling an anthology of essays that promote gender essentialism; more information is available at http://www.femaleerasure.com/. Choice titles from some of these essays include:

“Transgender Rights: The Elimination of the Human Rights of Women”
“In The Absence Of The Sacred: The Marketing of Medical Transgenderism and The Survival Of The Natural Child”
“Transparent: Spitting On Michfest’s Grave”
“Destruction Of A Marriage: My Husband’s Descent Into Transgenderism”

This book is also set to feature work by none other than Cathy Brennan, a notorious transphobe who has a long and verifiable history of doxing and otherwise harassing women, both trans AND cisgender, for the apparent “thought-crime” of advocating for trans rights in a manner that involves arguing with her online. Brennan also has made friends with the Religious Right, who make no secret of their hatred of the pagan and polytheist communities, making this collaboration a potential danger to not just trans CHS students, but also CHS itself. (Also, I want the record to show that Cathy Brennan is a fake Goth.)

Ruth Barrett has been exceptionally vocal in calling for transgender women to be excluded from women’s spiritual spaces. This anthology only reinforces the idea that women’s spirituality and the pagan community are not trans-friendly. As a trans male (FTM spectrum) and gender anti-conforming male-gendered person, I feel I can safely assert that my experiences in the pagan and polytheist community have not always been the most pleasant — ranging from having my very identity questioned for simply the gods I’ve devoted significant worship to, to being casually outed to several email lists (when people still used Yahoo Groups) and active harassment from other polytheists and pagans. The experiences of trans women, especially in the Goddess / women’s spirituality community, are often reported by trans women as being objectively harsher than my own; many trans women view the Goddess worship and women’s spirituality communities as actively hostile toward trans women, even communities with no clear or even vague ties to (the other notorious pagan transphobe) Zsuzsanna Budapet’s Dianic lineage.

In Barrett’s email call for support for a crowdfunding campaign for this anthology, she made the ludicrous decision to open with the line “In response to the horrendous bullying I survived last year by transgender activists, I was compelled to organize and publish a pioneering anthology to raise greater public awareness about how gender identity politics and ideology affects us all”. (A screen shot is available upon request.) What she really seems to mean is “I don’t like transgender women telling me what I’m doing hurts them, so I’m going to organize other people who support my bigotry to produce more anti-trans material”; as fashionable as it has become to cry “bullying!” in order to silence one’s opponent, the fact of the matter is, it is VERY easy to observe evidence of the fact that Barrett simply was never bullied — her opinions were challenged with facts, and now she’s using her position to lend her fallacious ideas legitimacy in spite of growing scientific studies that the “opinions” being presented in her anthology are highly unqualified and divorced from reality, to put it gently.

By keeping her on as faculty, CHS certainly appears to support her message. Furthermore, with her presence CHS alienates transgender pagans, as well as those of our cisgender allies. Higher education is a place for learning and, yes, debate, but faculty are also expected to not be open bigots. I feel it safe to assume, to say the least, that you wouldn’t have an open white supremacist on your faculty, yet you have a loud and proud transphobe there. I feel it safe to assume that you would not approve of active and explicit homophobes on the faculty. Your director was, according to her CHS profile, “proud to have been present in July when the Battle Flag of the Confederacy was removed permanently from the S.C. State House grounds”, so why is she tolerating the presence of another sort of bigotry in her own educational institution? My experience has a trans person has taught me that it is most likely grave indifference to the trans community, and I would really like to be proved wrong on this.

Thank you,

— Ruadhán J McElroy

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.

Some difficult questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…………….

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

How did Fascism break the Polytheist Blogosphere?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, onto other news…

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

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

4967008

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

Good intentions do not make bad effects magically disappear.

Rhyd is very careful about his choices of words and phraseology. Plus there’s the fact that Rhyd is a smart man — I’ve not just observed this in his blogging, but also in real life, when I met him at the Polytheist Leadership Conference a couple years ago. He knows good intentions are no excuse for implicitly smearing others in this way (including others who have gone out of their way to support him, give him voice, and recognise the value in much of his words), regardless of the importance of the message that this smear is couched in.

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

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

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

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

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

…but I digress…

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.