(Here’s something that’s been sitting in my Draft folder since at least August 2013, just figured I’d pick up where I left off and see what happens with it.)
…and that this might be especially true with regards to the pagan community.
First off, I was never interested in Wicca. I’ve seen literally dozens of people all over the Internet and in real life claim that Wicca is a starting point for all pagans, a shared experience to some extent, for all Western pagans. This is simply not true, for myself. All I know about Wicca is mostly from a combination of the old “Why Wiccans Suck” and the Wicca For the Rest of Us sites and a handful of things I’ve seen others say on blogs, LiveJournal communities, and e-mail lists. Most of these “sources” assumed a passing familiarity with many NeoWicca basics, and I gotta say, I still don’t know what “casting circles” or “crossing quarters” exactly is or is supposed to do in ritual, I have an idea based on the things I’ve read, but I’m not sure I could identify it, if I saw it. Wicca was never a part of my journey, and so this is likely the main way I’m simply not like pagans –I’m not very familiar with that language, and it’s not at all an experience I share.
Secondly, I don’t “revere” nature in the same ways that I see from a majority of pagans. I recycle my rubbish and I compost in honour of the nymphai, but my primary interest in avoiding processed food is cos of allergies and other immediate health concerns, rather than the borderline tin-foil-hat ravings against “Frankenfoods”. I say “borderline” because they’re often based in some evidence of experimentation, but no evidence that the sort of experimentation that they speak of will ever enter the mainstream food sources; furthermore, while Monsanto is certainly an evil Capitalist corporation, the whole idea behind engineering resistant crop seeds lays in the compassionate hope to feed more people for less money, including people in deeply impoverished areas in industrialised and non-industrialised countries, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty telling that the overwhelming majority of people who are anti-GMO, across the board, are affluent white people from industrial countries. Humans have been modifying food crops since the dawn of agriculture —it’s kind of how Mesoamericans evolved maize (sweetcorn) from being a completely inedible mutant grass (look up “pod corn” sometime) into the staple crop that would eventually come to dominate the agricultural industry of the Americas. All that’s happened in this last century is technological advances that that accelerate the process by actually examining the genetics faster than the trial-and-error hybridisation observed by Mendel, and also the multi-billion-dollar industry that makes a basic human need and a once-compassionate idea into an unstoppable corporation that exploits its means to penalise small farmers. There’s hardly a single thing humans eat today, save for the cultures that still subsist on game and insects as a major protein source, that isn’t a “genetically modified organism”. This technology can, and has been, a good thing that can literally feed the world, if bourgeoisie honkies and those aspiring to be and /or aping said would take a step back and examine the underlying classism and racism in what they’re saying when they talk about banning this technology as a whole. I’ll agree that some additives are best done without, and that there does seem to be a strong correlation between eating highly preserved foods and poor health, but I’m not so self-centred and ignorant as to believe that simply modifying a crop’s or a livestock’s genetics is a problem, in and of itself. Might it be a problem to introduce one of the highly experimental modifications into the main source crops? Sure. Might there be problems with this accelerated modification several generations down he line? Possibly, but probably not as much as the anti-GMO crowd certainly wants people to believe –if anything, any health risks associated with that accelerated genetic selection will happen more slowly and be less apparent until it affects millions of people, doing it the old-fashioned way.
Then there’s the fact that I REALLY don’t understand why some of, apparently, the most popular pagan bloggers are. From Star “Foster Care” (yeah, I know she tries to pretend she’s “not a pagan blogger anymore”, but from what I’ve gathered from certain people who just feel this inexplicable need to keep me informed on the various minutia of the pagan & polytheist blogosphere, she sure continues to do a lot of whining about how she’s not a pagan blogger anymore, which just makes me think of the kind of atheist bloggers who whine about Christians and how they aren’t Christian, and then act surprised when no-one takes them seriously when they insist that they do more than whine about Chrirstians), to (now ex-pagan) Teo Bishop/Matthew Morris and his shit-eating grin. It’s always that the most popular pagan bloggers tend to have the least to say, but allot more time and energy into saying it than those who are actually pretty interesting, and because of a combination of that, savvy social connections, and sheer persistence, guess who gets the attention for it? It’s not that I necessarily have anything against certain people (though sometimes that changes), and I know their fangirls will always try and insist otherwise, but it really isn’t jealousy. It’s sheer bewilderment that some-one can drone on and on about how much they “never wanted to be a big-name pagan, but poor me, I took a high-profile position at a popular webzine and volunteered to go on CNN and all that shit, anyway” or about how much they really don’t understand how ritual circles work, and dozens, even hundreds of people –other bloggers and mere commentators alike– will sit and applaud, as if this complete nonsense was somehow meaningful, or perhaps confusing ignorance with insight. I mean, I guess if I think about it, I can concoct a few reasons for how this dullness ends up as “the voice of pagan blogging” and how watered-down drivel like Silver Ravenwolf is Llewellyn’s international best-seller: Pagans don’t give a shit about excellence. They want voices that they can relate to more than they want someone to look up to, which possibly reveals a resistance to personal, spiritual growth. They’re so paranoid of any semblance of authority that they’ll buy the notion that some of the least-noteworthy ideas are worthy of a blog entry, just as easily as they’ll buy Scott Cunningham telling them that a “self-initiation” is as valid as a real initiation into a traditional coven, no matter how much the very phrase “self-initiation” smacks of contradiction. I mean, hell, bloggers and Llewellyn authors aren’t the only “pagan writers” lacking in standards of excellence; do a search for “diane paxson, marion zimmer bradley, walter breen sex abuse” and tell me that the pagan community isn’t quick to turn a blind eye to unsavoury associations because someone did something they liked, I fucking dare you.
And don’t get me started on pagan music. A good 85-90% of the pagan music I’ve heard is half-arsed filk that’s barely better than what an especially eloquent toddler might write. The best pagan music is usually in the Gothic or Neofolk genres, and while I certainly won’t deny that SOME Neofolk artists maintain unsavoury associations on par with the kiddie-diddling that Paxson and Bradley were enabling and covering-up (and Bradley, at least, partaking in herself), not only are many (if not most) not maintaining such associations, at least not directly (seriously, Leonard Cohen was one of the major influences on the Neofolk genre, and if you listen to Leonard Cohen, you kind of fail at Nazi) but some Neofolk artists are Far Left or simply apolitical, and yet possibly the most-deserving big pagan blogger, Jason Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt, often seems on a campaign to portray the entire genre as just a bunch of Neonazis when, let’s be frank, there’s far more damaging evidence that Eric Clapton is a fascist than the members of Spiritual Front (yes, I know Simone Salvatori did a song on that tribute album to Codreanu, but he also lists Discharge, an anarcho-punk, Leftist, and pacifist band as one of his all-time favourites –at best, you’ve got evidence that he’s “trolling”, as my humanoid meat-based housemate would say). Then there’s the fact that, many “Martial” bands that make no secret about cozying up to Fascism (even though there’s a handful of clearly Left-wing martial musos, as well). It’s not hard to learn any of this —I don’t have nearly the search engine magics that my humanoid meat-based housemate does, and I can still figure out pretty easily that no, not all Neofolk has “murky politics”, and if challenged on calling out a band or artist, I don’t just brush it off with “trust me, I’m a goth”, as if that makes me some kind of authority on a different scene (albeit one with significant cross-over appeal, but a different scene, nonetheless), I cite my fucking sources.
Then there’s the goddamned polyamourists. In theory, I have nothing against those who have multiple informed romantic/sexual partners, but let’s get a few things straight:
Polyamoury ≠ “Free Love”. The latter was a Victorian anti-marriage/proto-feminist movement, and real Free Love proponents actually frowned on the notion of multiple partners for the simple fact that it’s not what their movement was about –it was about the freedom to cohabitate and raise a family with another person out of love without being subjected to the borderline slavery of Victorian marriage laws. Polyamoury is about “being in love” and having sex with multiple people, all of whom are ostensibly aware, at least in passing, of one’s other relationships. Some polyamourists are married (a notion that appalls true proponents of Free Love) and cohabitation is not a requirement or necessarily a goal, with any of one’s lovers, whereas Free Love is about at least hoping to find a mate for pair-bonding and cohabitation, even if the couple is under no pretentions of this being a lifelong arrangement.
Then there’s the goddamned “poly-” cultists, who seem damned determined to make sure everyone is like them, especially if they’re of the sort that can’t actually be in a functional interpersonal relationship of any sort (with the ostensible exception of biological relatives -but you can never tell with some people) unless sex is eventually going to happen with this other person. of course, is that really a functional relationship model?
And not to mention the fact that even Oberon Zell, who arguably introduced the concept to the pagan community in the 1970s/80s, has even said, “serial monogamy may just be the human default“, and has said it without any sense of judgement, but just as a simple fact that people should keep in mind.
So there’s very little common ground between myself and most self-identified “pagans”, and while I’m totally cool with that, it does help keep me weird.
While I have you here, were you aware that I’m still seeking Moving expense donations?
At least if you wander over to Tumblurgh. Oh, fuck, I guess it’s not restricted to that pinheaded site..
It’s kind of been bothering me in recent months how utterly devoid of any real meaning the word “pagan” is.
“‘Pagan’ means ‘person of a non-Abrahamic religion'”, says the dictionary. Oh, but here are Christians and Muslims who want to be pagans, too, and here’s some people appropriating Kabballah, guess we can’t say that any-more. See, I used to think that the wormer was called “folk Christianity / Islam” and the latter was “cultural misappropriation”, but I guess not.
“So I guess ‘pagan’ means ‘some-one practising a religion reconstructing, influenced, inspired by, or syncretic with pre-Christian and pre-Islamic religions.” Oh, but here are Atheists who don’t actually believe in any of that shit, and here you have this guy, who wrote a book, and he says “true pagans do not worship deities”, but they’re attuned to nature, and do these rituals and shit, even though it’s just going through the motions.
“Alright, ‘pagan’ means ‘some-one into nature, and maybe but not necessarily religious and/or ritualistic about it’.” Fuck. OK, scratch the first part, because “pagans”, by the dictionary definition, have loved their cities and been trying to get away from ‘nature’ since ancient times. And there are these guys over here who don’t do rituals at all.
“So…. ‘Pagan’ means you’re socially and / or politically left-leaning, and just want people to get along?” You obviously haven’t met some of the same recons I have.
“So then what is paganism?” Nothing. Nothing at all. It’s an empty word, rendered devoid of any real meaning, except to empty people. It’s root, paganus used to be slang for “country dweller”, and then it became a pejorative word for polytheists, and later that included old women living on the outskirts of town who still practised herbalism, but “witch” was more common in the latter case. In the 19th Century, the word “Neopagan” was coined to sort of give a playful ribbing to Hellenophiles and Platonists, like Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley and similar people, usually associated with them, but some of them were atheists who just dug on the imagery, though there’s evidence sometimes even the atheists among them would dig on communing with nature, or at least what passed for “nature” in the English countryside; later that century, the term was reclaimed by the whole “back to nature” fad, but a lot of them were actually Christians. In the Midtwentieth, “pagan” was readopted by people into the Wicca thing and other similar movements, polytheistic reconstructionists, and similar, but those who were actually religious preferred their own terms.
“But what about the pagan community?” Hell if I know…. Most of them, in my experiences, really don’t get along with each-other on even the most basic levels, but still put up with each-other because we’re all simply “not of an Abrahamic religion”, except the handful of us who are. Sometimes I think we’re vaguely united by social and political interests, and then some Fucko into Nazi Mysticiam, or Robin Artisson, has to take out his dirty clown cock, and shatter that illusion I’ve put up for myself. I’ve met an appalling number of Libertarians, some of whom desperately cling to the Republican label in spite of all the Dominionists ruining that train, in the reconstructionist movements, but then it’s not like I’ve ever been a “pure Marxist”, more of a liberal Socialist, so I’m really not surprised.
“There’s nothing that unites you guys?” Not that I can see.
“So why do you still cling to the label?” To be perfectly honest, I’ve been less and less attached to it, lately. I read certain bloggers who self-identify as “pagan” because their writing interests me, but I don’t read all “pagan blogs” I know about, because some of them annoy me, and either way, I don’t always share much of anything in common with those bloggers. On the occasions, maybe since March, at least, that I’ve self-applied the term “pagan”, it’s just been out of habit, and an empty one, at that, since I realise the term is completely devoid of any real meaning at this point.
“Why do you think others do it?” Probably the same kind of habit for some. For others, I imagine it’s cos they’re just empty people who need something, anything to identify with, and the pagan community is kind of notorious for accepting and tolerating damned near any bullshit from anybody, even if it’s supposedly against their own ideals and “ethics”, they’ll tolerate that bullshit because they’re all so empty-headed that they think “follow your bliss an’ harm none” means that as long as people aren’t being physically violent, certain concepts like dignity and integrity shouldn’t matter, because Johnny Rahowa is just “following his bliss an’ harming none” and we should be tolerant cos it’s just his belief, but if I “follow my bliss an’ harm none” by leaving the same room that shit’s allowed to be spewed in, and go home and do my own fucking rituals, I’m being intolerant and should be prayed for —don’t even get me started on saying things like “paganism should mean something.”
“Sounds frustrating.” Oh, you have NO idea.
While I’m at it, did you remember that I’m raising money for a circle punch so that I can make badges, again? This is actually becomming a significant second income for me, but if I can’t make more badges, after my current stock that I used to take to weekenders runs out, I’m not going to have that income any-more. I also give some good reasons here why this will actually benefit people who read this blog.