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Gods of Consequence

Gods of Consequence

In the various debates that have been coming up of late, about the further differentiation of polytheism from other paganisms (especially humanist paganism, “self-centered” paganism, super-hero-worshiping-archetypalism, and so forth), I have noticed something. Obviously both sides of the various “lines” being “drawn” are having trouble coming together in agreement around a great many things, and both sides feel very misunderstood by the other. (That's what disagreement frequently leads to...) However, in all of my talks with polytheist colleagues, theologians, and co-religionists, none of “us” seem to be confused by *what* the archetypal-and-superhero-folks are saying about their beliefs or practices. We may be dumbstruck by some of their statements – generally when they are comparing their thought-forms to our gods in direct and offensive to us ways – but overall I don't sense a disconnect of understanding in that particular direction. (Agreement is another matter entirely...)

However, I have sensed a tremendous disconnect in understanding, and a great and wild mischaracterization, in the other direction. Polytheists are being called fundamentalists, are being called ontologically cowardly, are being called extreme to the point of instability, are being called delusional, and so on. All because we engage with our gods as beings great and powerful and worthy of holy veneration *outside of our own unconscious*; beings that are wholly and fully separate from us, who were no more born “inside” us (or “for” us) than that tree over there, or the air that I am breathing. They are not manufactured to suit our needs (like the apple-juice I am about to add whiskey to) nor are They engineered or tailored to “fit” us. There is no monism, and certainly no atheism, in polytheism.

The disconnect seems to be that the humanist side of the issue doesn't seem to realize the excessive “boxing” and “labeling” and ultimately conformist-based actions that it appears to be taking with regard to (or even against) some polytheist practices. That they are generally doing this with less openly aggressive (and occasionally blatantly passive aggressive) and far more gentle language does not change the fact that it is still being done. Whereas many polytheists, who are admittedly quite ready to be honest with their frustrations and emotions (read: more obviously aggressive in tone), are actually writing from a place that has no demand of conformity on humanists, because the polytheist paradigms ultimately have room for things like archetypes. It just also differentiates archetypes from actual gods. What I mean by this is that polytheist theology does not necessitate the exclusion of humanist or archetypal engagement, whereas humanist and archetypal engagement *do* exclude polytheistic process.

Example: If one airplane seats 100 humans and 50 tigers, and another airplane seats 100 humans and zero tigers but provides a tiger video accompaniment as a complimentary in-flight package, these airplanes are not the same. The first airplane ("Air Tiger") is inherently "more", in that it includes space for 50 tigers. 50 actual tigers. It may also include in-flight video accompaniments; nothing about the space for 50 tigers interferes with the ability to also have a video of tigers, or of giraffes, or of dirty NYC detectives, or of child models. The second airplane ("Air Human") is inherently "limiting" (not less, however, in terms of value), in that it by its own definitions and mechanical specifications does not include space for actual tigers. The presence of actual tigers would upset the seating arrangements of a full flight on “Air Human”. The video of tigers does little to change this phenomena.

So the problem is that the executives of Air Human are saying "But we DO have tigers! We just installed all of these video displays! We have a THOUSAND CHANNELS of TIGERS! On Satellite! And and and! You can even buy TIGERBALM for your sore neck from your in-flight console! And TIGER BARS for your snacks! And our pillows are made of dead tiger kittens! Our blankets are Tiger Skin! We even hand out Tiger Kidneys! WE HAVE TIGERS! Rawr!"

Meanwhile the executives of Air Tiger are sort of sitting back and saying, "But, um… those aren't tigers. Those are images of tigers, moving pictures of tigers, products unrelated to tigers but named for them, and then also the desiccated remains of murdered tigers. That is not the same as tigers. That is actually quite the opposite. You are defining your airline by the absence of tigers and then compensating with simulation and bad marketing techniques to try and imply or suggest tigers. We actually just made room on the upper deck for.. tigers."

And then all of the tiger-enthusiast passengers trying to book flights are confused as the two companies go back and forth. However, one of those companies is sort of lying (sorry, guys) and limiting the accessibility of resources (tigers) to its passengers, while the other is being honest and totally not limiting anything, as it actually has space for tigers, and in addition can absolutely provide all of the other stuff too (with the exception of the inhumane murder products) for anyone who wants them.

In truth, the problem isn't so much that Air Human is trying to be dishonest to its market demographic, but rather it is more that they don't believe in real tigers, anymore. They think that they're already extinct. Or maybe they didn't really exist to begin with. (Just like jugglers. See below for the truth about jugglers.) Air Tiger, on the other hand, is trying to provide a presentation that by definition offers “more”; the plane is bigger to accommodate actual tigers, and the seating arrangements for humans doesn't run the risk of spacial overlap with giant four-legged feline apex predators, and the in-flight options can include all the tigers – or any other animal conceivable, including the honey badger! – and so forth. There is no requirement onboard Air Tiger that every passenger go up and hug a tiger, or ride a tiger, or feed a tiger, and in fact these are probably best left for those who know how to do these things. But all of them are invited to look up at the cabin ceiling above them, through the transparent viewing glass, and *see* the tigers above them. From awkward up-shot angles. (Unless the tigers are in a zero-gravity cabin, in which case, maybe they're floating upside down and the angle is less awkward.)

Ahem. And then this brings us back to the issue of “belief”, and who has it, or who doesn't, or who needs it, or whose whole identity is shaped by it, or what the word even really means, and so forth.

Polytheists do not require “belief” (although for many of us it is there as a useful tool on the side) anymore than I need to “believe” in the presence of black bears in the California mountains when deciding where to store my food on a campsite. (That I *do* believe in bears is irrelevant to their belief of entitlement to my food; you don't need to believe in a bear to find yourself uncomfortably between it and a roast pork sandwich.)

And therein lies a major difference that I have seen: the self-described “self-centered” or humanist or archetypal pagans are engaging with powers and so forth which are by their own definitions of no greater consequence than their own (collective, at times) unconsciousness, and no matter how much you glorify and believe in the great and sacred power of internal cognition and transcendent psychology, these things are not going to maul you to death in the woods.

And the thing is? Our gods will.

Guns fire bullets that can kill, ripping through flesh and bone and sinew. Power-saws can slip from timber and take off a hand. Cars, airplanes, baseball bats, whiskey bottles, and juggler's flaming bowling pins; all of these things have tangible consequence when they are not approached with the proper respect. The respect that they are due. The respect that they demand, not based on some flimsy made-for-us fabricated belief system, but because steel, brass, iron, lead, glass, hickory, and fire are elements of consequence. And humans? They are soft, meaty, fragile creatures.

Gods are greater than guns, faster than cars, bigger than airplanes, wield more concussive leverage than a bat and hold far more spirit than a tempered glass whiskey bottle. Gods are the source of fire. And bowling pins. (And jugglers.) Approaching the deities with respect and deference is not a thing of belief, but a thing of necessity.

This is an intrinsic difference between polytheists and archetypal-or-humanist “self-centered” pagans, spiritual-seekers and so forth. Unless you view the gods as having the power to rip your arms off and beat you to death with them, or take the face of your lover while turning your skin inside out and dropping you in a pit of jello and alligators, we're not talking about the same thing.

I use the above imagery to communicate dramatic (perhaps over-dramatic) points, although none of it is exaggerated. (Except the bits about jugglers. We all know that they come from unholy powers, nothing sacred about it.) This is not at all the only expression of, or way of relating to, our gods. But it is there. Always. No hunter, butcher, lumberjack, soldier, archer, wood-chipper-landscaping-specialist or nuclear physicist would ever try to suggest that there was nothing viscerally dangerous or tremendously destructively powerful about the tools of their trade, and this is not different with religion. The “tools of my trade” are dangerous. They are great. They are powerful. And They are much beloved by me, and if I am reading the signs correctly, I am of Them as well. (They are also not tools; this is a metaphor, before I get misquoted as comparing my gods literally to woodchippers or rifles, and so forth. Critical thinking, people...)

My devotions are not about self-development. I do not rely on my gods to be a good person (I take responsibility for that myself) and I do not rely on my gods to be a good brother (I take responsibility for that myself) and I do not rely on my gods to be a good son (I've never been a very good son, truth be told), and I do not rely on my gods to be a good partner (mainly because I am single), and I do not rely on my gods to be a good father (as my raven will attest, I probably suck at this as well). I turn to my gods when I struggle, yes, but not so that They can “make it better” or “make it go away”; I turn to Them for support, not for co-dependence. I find comfort in the protection that They offer me – and I am very well protected, as any of my enemies could attest – and I find inspiration at Their touch, and I find myself elevated and lifted in Their presence, even (and especially) when I fall to my knees in reverent, deferent praise.

But They are not a self-help book, or an internal model for “how to not be a dick”.

Philosophies of moral theory and ethics have informed much of my exploration of “how to not be a dick”. Finding elders in my communities who are not dicks? That taught me how to not be a dick. Finding elders in my communities who *are* dicks? That taught me how to not be a dick. Being a dick? That also taught me how to not be a dick. I am not always not a dick. Sometimes I am a dick. Being a dick and being a bad person are different. Sometimes I find myself compelled to be a dick. But I am always a good dick. My gods have very little to do with whether or not I am being a dick. My religion does not exist to stop me from being a dick, or to inform me of how to be a good person; those are things that generally speaking are in my court to take responsibility for. (When I am a dick, I don't blame my gods for it. When I am a good person, I praise Them for giving me the space to find that within myself.)

They also don't care all that much, so long as I get the job done. The work that They have given me to do would be sort of impossible to do if I were a dick all the time. So I also have compassion. Not because They gave it to me, but because They demand that I do what I need to do to complete the tasks assigned. To do this, I must also have softness, tenderness, receptive qualities and embracing qualities and I have hope and I have visions of a better world. Those visions are not born of my mind, of my unconscious, of my intellectualism or blah blah blah. Those visions are the visions of my gods. Those visions are the blueprints of my job here in this world; the schematics that I am seeking to navigate.

Some people spend their lives and their religious engagements seeking the divine, seeking understanding, seeking meaning, seeking something outside (or inside) of themselves. I am not seeking those things. I already have Them. That does not mean that I have *everything*, however, for I still seek – daily – to learn the better place foot to earth with the right balance of righteousness and humility, to learn to better place bat to skull when the circumstances call for it, to learn to put the bat down when they don't. To learn to use my voice to bring not just change, but change that leads to realized vision, received from gods and blessed dead. I am seeking, always, to better calibrate my own human baggage, to embody it when needed or shift it aside when not, to better see the fulfillment of the will of my gods brought through into this world.

Because my gods have a plan. It is a good one. I've seen it. I am living inside of it.

But They can also rip my arms off and beat me to death with them, or fill me with the ability to do my work with no arms at all, across any distance, if only I have the strength to trust in Them that much more than I already do. And so I fall to my knees and I praise Them.

My religion is a religion of consequence. The day to day maintenance of human existence and so forth? That is on me. There are tools provided in the whole “polytheistic package” for assistance in those pursuits, such as divination, oracular work, healing, blessing and so forth, and my gods encourage the use of these as needed. But these are provided to compliment the human investment – the effort to be a good person, to practice and execute acts of good character inside and out, to engage with my world in a progressive and constructive and hopeful way, to encourage empowerment and compassion in those around me and lend what I have to the building (or rebuilding) of healthy and cohesive community – rather than to replace it. I am strictly forbidden from turning to my gods for aid if I have not first tried to resolve a thing myself, not because They won't help me, but because They've already given me many blessed tools. Thumbs, for example, and a brain capable of many great things, and a voice that can range in delivery between “don't you dare touch that child or I will kill you” intensity to “it is okay, dear, the scary man is gone” in gentleness.

My gods are gods of consequence, not abstractions torn from the back of my mind. Don't get me wrong. The unconscious is powerful, potent, and is the landscape of internal revelation. It provides the language through which outside influences can communicate meaningfully with us. The unconscious also provides the interface for us to communicate with ourselves, and “do our own work”. But my gods do not dwell there, are not born there, and don't generally give a flying feck what color the wallpaper is inside. They're from outside of it all, outside of me, you, and everyone else: that is what makes Them gods. (And yes, They're inside of us, too. But They're not from *from* inside.)

My job is to do my work and to live in this world, embodied and realized as a human-formed being, and to know myself inside and out well enough that I can put myself to the side and as far out of the equation as possible when the situation calls for it. My religion is here to provide me the tools and structures not for developing myself, but for using myself to see Their will realized in this world. My religion provides me the rules of engagement, the process of negotiation and the technology to do it all safely, sanely, cleanly, and efficiently. Looking back at my career as a spirit-worker, as a priest, as a teacher? I have done a good job. I have done good in this world. There are people alive today because I was there, because I submitted to the will of my gods and saw that will enacted through me. There are people who could have done harm who were rendered unable, not at my intervention but at the intervention of my gods acting through me, because I knew enough to step aside and let Them speak, and act, and be.

One of the concerns that I hear from a lot of people who are not polytheists in this sense, is that this all sounds like a scary “cop-out” of personal responsibility. That it sounds like an “abrogation of personal accountability”. To this I say, it could not be further from those things. To open myself up to the gods, those forces who I serve and praise outside of myself, who I adore with all of my being, is to likewise embrace a deeper accountability and sense of personal responsibility than I have witnessed in any other around me. We should be afraid of our gods, but we should not be afraid to lose ourselves to Them... for we are nothing without Them. My humanity exists as a tool for Them, as my religion exists as a tool to engage fruitfully with Them and see Their plans unfold through me in this world.

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A temple priest, shaman, and spirit-worker in the Thracian tradition, Anomalous Thracian lives in a van in the Northeast United States, with a crazed raven from Africa. He teaches foundational spiritual principles and results-oriented mysticism, with a focus on anchoring ancient nomadic wisdoms and values in contemporary reality. A Thracian mystic reconstructionist, he leads an initiatory tradition and facilitates rituals, traditional rites of passage, various methods of divination and temple functions appropriate to the needs of the community. In all of his doings, he attempts to honor the ancestors, the gods, and his living relations in this world and the rest of them, while focusing also on further understanding and addressing contemporary issues of race, gender, and sexuality.


  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian Sunday, 09 June 2013

    Christine, thank you for your reply, and for having the awareness to begin learning to navigate the sacred relation that you've found yourself in. You are a prime example of the sort of person I am writing for: somebody whose experiences fall well outside the context of *internal* conceptions of deity, who requires a "bigger airplane" so to speak, to safely engage with the blessed and holy powers. I know well the loneliness of that road, for even if there are others near, they are not always of the sort that can be engaged with cleanly. I pray that you receive all the blessings, guidance, inspiration and structure that you need as you are opened up by this relation, and by any others that follow.

  • Liza
    Liza Sunday, 09 June 2013

    I have been reading these discussions and after several days of wanting to stab my eyes out, and getting away from the discussions because sometimes I need to step away from the computer to focus on the things that matter-namely what my Gods and spirits have put on my plate, I came back to read this. I was actually on the brink of drinking my liver into submission after reading about the athiest pagan interview and seeing both the depth of the... divide in my world view and theirs, and the horror that I thought surely Galina was exaggerating when she talked about this view point from people.

    Instead, I made extra offerings, and spent more time with Them, because... damn.

    But back to the thought at hand. Your tiger metaphor was great, and sadly folks who don't want to see it will miss the mark. Then the topics turn to psychology and the such. I can't quote people anymore, there are just too many comments.

    We really are dealing with two very different world views and basis of reality. I am thinking about Plato, and his cave. I am *not* a philosophy major, so I will apologize to everyone who has studied this more than I have, which may be everyone, but this is what that story means to me (and how it could relate here-trust me I took liberties, but I think the message should be clear enough).

    Here is this guy, lets call him Joe. He and his friend, lets call John, are hanging out in a cave and watching the shadows on the wall. Those shadows are so intense and real to both Joe and John that they have this whole understanding of what they are, and those shadows give their lives great meaning.

    One day, for reasons beyond John's control, because he wasn't necessarily looking for anything more/deeper/different, he ends up outside of the cave. He's now some place he never even dreamed existed, and it hurts. It screws his concept of reality, because now, he sees this fire, and these shadows from a new side. He sees the shadows as just that, images of something else. That doesn't make the shadows any less real, but he now realizes that they are *more* than what he thought they were before.

    He is so excited, he goes to tell Joe all about it, and Joe, who hasn't seen what John has seen, can only see the shadows. He thinks John is nuts, or deluded or imagining things. After all, Joe hasn't had this experience, and while he may like to think John isn't too many crayons short of a rainbow, and he would certainly never say that to John's face, he does indeed think that.

    John then goes about doing what he now feels like he needs to do, and interacts with the things causing the shadows, instead of the shadows themselves.

    John can't make Joe see the shadows as shadows. To Joe they are still just as real as they were before, with full intent, meaning and richness. John, however sees them as real shadows, and not the gods he once thought. No amount of discussion between John and Joe is going to change either one of their minds. The only thing that will change minds is for the powers that scooped John out of the cave to do the same to Joe. John doesn't have control of this. Neither does Joe for that matter. Who knows if it'll happen, or when, or anything of the sort. Who knows why John was scooped and Joe was not. Those are questions that may never be answered.

    Basically, Joe will never see how offensive he is if he/when he calls John's understanding the same as his. He can not see the difference. He is blind to it, for whatever reason.

    I think it is important for the folks out there who see the world as John does to be verbal, even when it ruffles feathers, not only because the Gods and spirits push them to often, but because there are other people in the cave who will get scooped and that is hard enough. We need voices. We need elders. We need people to drink with, when our livers want to give out because we can't understand how people don't see what is so plain to us.

    Thank you for being a voice.

  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian Sunday, 09 June 2013

    YES on all of this! Thank YOU for being a voice, as well. Your use of the Shadow Cave ("Socratic Shadow Play" is what I call this phenomenon) is dead-on and wonderful. My only suggestion for adjust ment is that sometimes (frequently!) the shadows are not cast by the gods at all. Let me explain what I mean:

    If the Gods are outside of the Cave, and are in all Their glory bright and shining and holy and REAL, blazing for all who emerge from the cave to see, they are casting *the light*. The shadows in the cave are actually cast by the people in the cave, staring at the wall of the cave, as the radiance of the divine filters into their dark corners. The light of the gods hits them, and as their backs are turned away from the holy, they see only the shadows cast *by themselves*, by their own bodies, by their own, as you say, blindness: when the gods dance, or war, or lay with one another, or create new things to bless the world with, the shadows move.. because their light source is active, engaged outside of the cave, outside of the people.

    But the people in the cave -- Joe and his friends -- do not see the movement of the gods, they merely see their own shadows dance. This is not "unsacred", for the light of the gods casts the shadows. They have just enough awareness in that cave to perceive that element of it. However the shadows themselves are of their own bodies, and therefore seem to "spring forth from man", rather than existing outside of it.

    I don't believe everyone is "ready" to step out of the cave. I don't believe it is ethical to try and force them to, either. However, as you say, there MUST be voices for those of us who HAVE. And, ultimately, those voices must be public (rather than shrouded behind mysterious curtains) in order for new Johns to stumble upon them, and learn how to navigate what they've discovered; for the discovery can be blinding in a different way, if you stare to closely at the gods Themselves.

  • Dver
    Dver Monday, 10 June 2013

    "But the people in the cave -- Joe and his friends -- do not see the movement of the gods, they merely see their own shadows dance. This is not "unsacred", for the light of the gods casts the shadows. They have just enough awareness in that cave to perceive that element of it. However the shadows themselves are of their own bodies, and therefore seem to "spring forth from man", rather than existing outside of it."

    Wow, this is a perfect metaphor for what it seems is going on.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus Monday, 10 June 2013

    And, while this is not a "you got it wrong" comment in reference to Liza's retelling of Plato's allegory of the cave, it's just a reminder: in the original story, when the person gets brought back to the cave after having seen the real objects, the fire, and eventually the light of the sun itself, that person is not only misunderstood and derided, they are ultimately killed for their vision.

    I hate martyrdom cults, and thus don't want to indicate that one is going to result here...but, based on where the rhetoric is going, I really don't know.

  • Liza
    Liza Monday, 10 June 2013

    Anomalous Thracian went further with the analogy than I did, which was good. He just went deeper. Sufenas Virius Lupus, I forgot about the ending to that story. It's been... quite a while since I read it, but the image still stuck in my mind.

    That said, hopfully *death* won't be the result of not conforming to Joe's concept of reality, BUT there are consequences. There are friendships that will possibly break up, and families that will divide. While that is not a literal death of self, it is a death of sorts. I would love to think this isn't the case, but I know it is in my own life. There are some lines in the sand, and standing by them has had consequences. It makes me sad to see those erlationships die, or divide, but, in the end I can't (and wouldn't) unknow/unsee, so, it is what it is, and if people can't understand that, well then that closeness of the previous relationship just withers. (Which is another reason why, IMO we need more people to speak out-so that when the Johns find themselves suddenly without support they know that they are not actually totally alone-even if there is no one physically there-this experience is something others have had)

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus Monday, 10 June 2013

    A further irony, Liza:

    The allegory of the cave depends upon the metaphor of "shadows" quite heavily.

    Several of the people arguing against the polytheist view are Jungians, and are thus people who have some knowledge (at least in theory) of a thing that Jung defined as the "shadow," the projection of all that is dark and unknown in the psyche, all that is dangerous and lurking beneath the surface.

    Many of those arguing against polytheism are likewise lacking in any sense of the actual existence of gods.

    But, they do have shadows, they do have projections, those things are as real as gods to them...

    ...and, as a result, WHAM! Guess who gets cast as the shadow-projection "enemies" in this all-too-human drama? US! We are the Titans to their Olympians, in this case. Oh well...! ;)

  • Nicole Youngman
    Nicole Youngman Monday, 10 June 2013

    But...but...hard polytheist folks, why on earth do you CARE what we think? I'm utterly, totally serious here. I don't get it. If those of us who don't share your theology say things like "the gods aren't literal people-like beings that can be pleased or pissed off, and we think believing that they are is silly," what possible difference does that make to you? Your own theology is probably deeply insulting to monotheists, but I doubt you worry about discussing your perspective for fear of offending them, because why should they care what you think and vice versa? If you don't like our perspective then ignore us while we talk amongst ourselves. Sheesh. Being all "insulted" and "offended" at someone who doesn't "believe" in your conception of Deity and then going into long you're-doing-it-wrong and my-gods-are-so-powerful rants IS in fact a step towards fundamentalism, sorry. Enjoy your spiritual practices and we'll do the same.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus Monday, 10 June 2013

    As Dver and Anomalous have already said, we don't really care what you think.

    But, we're forced to care what you think, and to defend what we think, when non-polytheists keep coming into our spaces (which, speaking for myself and the Aedicula Antinoi blog, are virtual shrines to our various gods, and thus are sacred spaces to those gods and not just "public forums," thus conduct in them by everyone is expected to respect those gods) and telling us what they think, and by just stating it in our spaces, it is often implied (or outright declared) that our way of thinking is therefore deficient and should be adapted or expanded. When that kind of adaptation or expansion involves casting doubt on the existence of our gods, it's right out. And, you've done exactly that in your own comments here...so, watch what happens.

    Whether you realized it or not, you've entered what has become "the fray" here by responding as you have, perhaps without full awareness of the larger context of these difficulties.

  • Dver
    Dver Monday, 10 June 2013

    If that's really a serious question, I did address at least some aspects of the answer here: http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/giving-the-gods-their-due/. As I've said more recently, it becomes less of an issue when the people spouting very non-polytheist theology stop calling themselves polytheists, or when polytheists stop trying to be in the same "umbrella" as pagans with whom we share few similarities in approach, purpose or belief.

    But I will point out, you all seem to care just as much what we think, or you wouldn't be perpetuating this 'debate' just as much by making your own posts and commenting on our blogs. We aren't forcing our views on you any more than you are on us, since we're both employing the exact same methods (words on a computer screen).

  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian Monday, 10 June 2013

    Nicole, there are various reasons why we care about ideas that we find to be both dangerous and offense (and in my case, the "dangerous and offensive" is less about "me" and more about other polytheists who are new to answering the call of very real, literal gods, and could become lost in Humanist hedge-mazes of self-aggrandizing faux-intellectualism and Jung quotes.) I'll explain that, but first, here's a REALLY important thing nobody seems to be getting:

    This is a polytheist blog. It is written by a polytheist, for polytheists, and those interested in learning about what some polytheists are doing, thinking, saying, and so forth. Coming into my house where I am sharing opinions I have on people who live elsewhere and demanding to know why I care is rude, presumptuous, and somewhat stupid. Kindly stop. The only time I have ever gone over to a humanist-et-al's blog and commented AT ALL was when I was directly named and misrepresented in a purposeful attack on both my character and my religious practices and theologies. You'll notice that I didn't name names in my article, "Gods of Consequence". I am, and always have been, writing for a primarily polytheistic audience, and for those outside of that demographic who are interested in what we're about. Stop throwing stones, please.

    Moving on, as to "why I care".

    Scroll up and you'll see comments from folks who genuinely appreciate my writing what I've written. Not just the inflammatory remarks of "named" bloggers on both sides going back and forth, but responses from folks who are NOT "big voices" on theses issues.

    That is who I am writing for.

    When a person, young or old, begins to have experiences with the gods in the way that I and other polytheists are discussing -- see the above comments on "Socratic Shadow Play" for illustration -- they will quickly find out three very important things:

    1) Their experiences do not fit into the definitions and structures of Humanism, at all, without acceptance of a label of "crazy nutter".

    2) Attempts to "turn off" their experiences or "recontextualize" them into a Humanist model will fail, every time, and that failure can be catastrophic. (When a firearm undergoes "catastrophic failure", it means the structural integrity of the weapon has been compromised, and dangerous/lethal discharge of shrapnel and explosive bloomies results. This is the context in which I mean catastrophic failure.) The resulting damage can be physical (e.g. the gods or other spirits express in physical consequences) or psychological (e.g. madness, despair, suicide, rage) or spiritual (which is way too broad a category to list off possibilities in a meaningful way) and so on.

    3) The loneliness of the above two conditions leads to a socially reinforced alienation (which is perpetrated not just by openly hostile humanists, like those who are currently calling me a "nutter" for believing in real gods, but also by major "interfaith forces" such as the editors of this very website, who had to issue an apology for calling polytheists unilaterally "intolerant" while issuing blanket praises for the "humanistic virtues of tolerance" in massively sent out emails.) Let me be clear on this: the experience of a polytheist of the variety expressed and described in this blog and in other writing related to it is one of social alienation, prejudice, hatred, marginalization, and exile. You people suck at your "tolerance" thing as soon as somebody comes along who doesn't put humans and human experience in the center of the map. You suck so hard at it that you drive people away from the so-called "all inclusive big umbrella" groupings you claim to love so much for their "inclusivity" and happy-bunny-love-piles. But they're not love piles. The center of it all is cowardice, hatred, privilege and fear. Fear with a big "F", of anyone and anything that suggest human experience isn't the end-all and be-all, or maybe at least isn't the focus of religion.

    So that person who has been tapped and called to service or relation by their gods in this way?

    They have nobody BUT their gods. Because their local pagan communities turn on them viciously if they share their experiences, or try to differentiate (as I have here) their experiences from Jungian ones.

    I'm not threatened by humanists, personally. They are not a danger to me, my practices, my Temple, my gods, my serpents, my psyche, or anything else. Honestly, they're the subject of sympathy and concern, for me.. except for the fact that they put others in danger.

    Not on purpose, but in blind ignorance combined with zealous fear of anything "Other".

    I am writing this blog for those who have gone through, are going through, or may yet go through numbers 1, 2, and 3 above.

    Please stay out of my house. I am obviously not writing for you, unless what I have to say suddenly becomes relevant to you.

    The real question is, "Why do Humanists care what Polytheists care about, talk about, and write about, when they are dealing with themselves and establishing theologies and organizational structures to support their own?" What about us threatens you so much that you need to come onto my blog in the wake of all this and try to get the last word in, like you have ANYTHING original to say on the matter?

  • Liza
    Liza Monday, 10 June 2013

    ^^This^^ I can not like this enough.

    I am not going to reiterate everything you said, but I will add as a "no name" and "home grown" polytheist, I am lucky enough to have a physical community that I can enjoy seasonal celebrations with-but their intent is to focus on the community, and the seasons, not as a focus on the Gods.

    I am exceedingly lucky that within that community there are a couple of people, and I mean that a couple out of a fairly large community, that I can share and speak frankly with. That is a couple more than most polytheists I have spoken to. I am grateful, so very grateful, that there are people out there that I can learn from. It isn't that those local to me are "less" but a larger community with more perspectives is a welcome thing.

    We need people speaking out. We need this voice as a counter balance to everything out there. It isn't easy because even in our communities, which are already on the edges of the society we live in, we are on the fringes.

    I care about people coming to this blog, blogs like this, facebook pages, and other personal blogs and complaining about the author's views. I don't go trolling other blogs, I wish the same curtsey was extended here.

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