Let’s Talk About: Galina Krasskova

I like Galina, I really do, but let’s be frank for a sec:  I’m clearly not the only one who’s noticed that American culture has a toxic relationship with being honest with people you like.

It seems that speaking your mind to individuals is a major taboo. You can’t tell a friend straight when he has f—– up, nobody will ever tell you that you look like you could stand to lose a few pounds, and there’s way too much euphemism to avoid the hard truth. […]  Being insulting for the sake of it is needless aggression. But constructive criticism is what friends are for.

Even those who pride themselves on how anti-sensitive they are really just want to be jackasses to others, and can’t take criticism on an individual level, but I digress.

Again, on a personal level, I like Galina.  She has a lot of admirable traits:  She can be very kind and generous, she’s whip-smart, and she is probably one of the most loyal people I’ve known, albeit to a fault.

There are times I’ve admired her fierce loyalty to those she considers friends and who she’s taken on as Family — but I have a gut reaction against dog-piling on people, as I’ve been on the receiving end of that as a bullying tactic, and I have legit PTSD from that shit.  While I certainly understand her reasoning behind at least some instances I’ve seen as such, even seen them as just (again, at times), I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with this being a go-to reaction of hers when she has a disagreement with someone.

Now, there are other talks of abuses at her hands -both online and off- and frankly, I guess I’m just far enough out of the loop in those instances that I’m not even going to attempt to detail them for the simple fact that I just don’t know.  Now, in talking to others (a lot of people talk to me – I guess I just have that kind of face), I’ve concluded that a not-insignificant amount of the rumour mill about Galina can be traced to Nornoriel — or whatever goofy name they want to go by, and/or identity they want to appropriate for their own abusive purposes, this month:  Nornoriel has a fricken despicable track record with abusing others, themself, and pretty much nothing they say can be assumed true (and no, I’m not going to respect whatever pronouns they’re currently using, as I’ve learned from at least three people who’ve dealt with Nornoriel in meat-space, that they’ve learned from N themself that they’re only really appropriating a trans identity to deflect criticism by calling it “transphobia” or whatever).  Like my younger sister (who my friends know to be a fucking case-and-a-half), if Nornoriel tells you that the sky is blue and the grass is green (at the times they are, of course), assume it’s something they’re telling you that’s just true enough so they can gain your trust.  Ding-danged PPOs have been taken out against Nornoriel by several people all over both coasts, and for the love of all that is holy, if you can trace anything to them, assume it’s either a lie, or just enough truth to con you into the lie.

Now, there are other stories that can’t be traced to Nornoriel, and a lot of them have some consistencies that I can’t just dismiss outright.  I can’t defend it, I can’t make excuses for it, and most of it I can’t even rationalise, and I almost wish so much of it wasn’t said in explicit or implicit confidence so that I could say what matches and what doesn’t.  All I can say to this is:  Sometimes people we like and care about do horrible things, and there’s literally nothing you can do about it but assess your ethics and decide how much is too much.

I’ve defended her at times for the simple fact that she does seem to get a disproportionate amount of vitriol, when compared to her male contemporaries who hold similar, the same, or even outright repugnant views on politics, social issues, and the gods, and so I’ve concluded that there is a fair amount of sexism at play, here — and combine that with her strong Internet presence, and she’s an easy target for people to talk trash about.  Even women too-often carry a lot of excess, unexamined sexist baggage in Western society, and fall in lock-step with acting on it for a subconscious sense of approval from a sexist society.  Now, pointing out that others are worse is really not a fair justification for bad behavior — sure, homophobes who don’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding aren’t as bad as those who murdered Matt Shepard, but that doesn’t mean they suddenly aren’t homophobes simply because they didn’t take a life when they acted on theirs; this is very basic ethics — the impact of their actions are both bad, and should be reacted to justly, in proportion to the impact.

Now, in terms of practice and theology, I certainly agree with Galina more than I disagree:  We’re hard polytheists who honour and recognise a multitude of deities, spirits, and esteemed dead, and these Divine entities are not merely archetypes and egregores that are a reflection on our society that are malleable to the will of humans.  I feel religion is best approached when integrated into one’s life, and yes, this can measure a person’s devotion, and charitable acts, or activities like gardening can be acted from a place of devotion, but cannot replace daily ritual and regular votive offerings.  Though I have not been a part of blood sacrifice of animals in ritual, myself, I agree with continuing it, as long as we can keep as close as possible to maintaining the sacrifice animal’s quality of life as is in line with ancient traditions — you can’t just go to a kill-your-own-chicken farm and pick the best one, it has to be raised for these purposes, and its death given just reverence.  Speaking of tradition, I prefer to default to what is ancient, and build from there.

Where I differ from her is when it comes to other people.  I can’t control other people.  I may make snide comments here and there about what another person shares of their beliefs and practices, but at the end of the day, more often than not, their life really has nothing to do with mine after I step away from the computer, and they can just keep doing it wrong all they like, I don’t care.  If we’re going to talk about beliefs, especially if you’re going to put yours in the same category as mine while clearly believing something completely different [*cough!*JohnHalstead*cough!*], oh, I will explain every way you are NOT in the same camp as myself, but at the end of the day, you can just go right ahead and keep practising wrong, and thinking things about yourself that just aren’t true, I know I’m ultimately explaining it for everyone else to learn from, and then I’m going to go back to tending to my household shrines and prayers, ‘mmkay?

Now, I’ve also distanced myself over the last year because, as much as I’m in general agreement with her on practice and theology, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with certain alliances she has formed since Rhyd Wildermuth decided to start shit in order to drum up publicity for G&R (and yes, I’ve gotten word from a very reliable source that this was absolutely what he did and intended to do, and I’ve got a LTA post about that one coming), and I’ve seen at a recent check-in to her blog that these alliances have done a number on her fairly conservative stance.  I also can’t stand her continued loyalty to de-transitioned TERF, Kenaz Filan — thus my assessment that she can be loyal to a fault.

I admire loyalty, and can be very loyal to those I feel a connection with — there are a handful of people who can tell me to go fuck myself, and come back ten years later, and I’ll still be there, and be their friend, because what I feel for them is important enough to me to be that loyal.  I do this with full knowledge of this one fact:  The company we keep says more about up than we’d like it to.

The Tolerance Paradox tells us that by tolerating the intolerant, we thus foster intolerance and are implicitly at risk of becoming intolerant, ourselves.  If you want to consider that a guilt-by-association fallacy, you’re ignoring the fact that studies show that we can all be easily influenced by those we keep close — this is most persuasively shown in studies about the affect of one’s social circles on weight management.  While two people may disagree on what the more tolerant may consider to be very important things, the longer and more closely they associate, the more likely they are to influence each-other, whether they believe it to be happening or not, and as the aforementioned Paradox shows, tolerance can be taken to a fault.  When one tolerates intolerance in others, one is necessarily giving permission to be intolerant.

When she’s willing to break alliance with some fairly despicable people, I’ll still be here, even when I can’t rationalize what she does.  That’s where I’ve made my line in the sand, and it’s been crossed, so I’ve chosen to keep my distance.  I like her, but I need to disassociate for my own sanity, because there are some principles I consider more important than loyalty.

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A lot has changed on WordPress.com in the last eight years (apparently the last time I had this blog on WP.com, not a mere five years), so I’m still trying to figure it all out.  I’m hoping to have this blog Premium by February 2017, and the DH account closed, cos I just can’t accord it, anymore; at least not until my shop on Artfire picks back up.  To a lot of people, the $10/month is “only $10,” but for me, it’s cat food, or eating lunch out more than two or three times a month.

And now, on a more personal note….

When I decided to do this blog, a bunch of things were going through my head.

First, I thought that urban-based and (shudder to think) pro-urban spirituality was something that had a relatively small voice in the greater Pagan and Polytheist community, and a small voice that often appeared to be “silenced” by the wealth of pro-rustic voices out there. If you’re somebody who has spent more than a fortnight in the Pagan/Polytheist/Witch community (and if you’re reading this, chances are good that you’ve at least spent that much time doing that), then you at least have an idea of how much rural worship and rural worship advocacy is out there, and how even some rather prominent voices in the Pagan and Polytheist community have said things like “true Pagans prefer worshipping in a rural setting” and “no real Pagan likes a concrete and iron landscape”. This can be upsetting, disheartening, and downright offensive to “those to whom the city speaks”. I love cities; I was born and raised in metro-Detroit* and I honestly find the hum of the nearby El trains in Chicago some of the most soothing sounds and sleep much easier during the week or two each year I’m in Chicago than the quiet suburban hum of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I felt that urban paganism needed a voice and, since I’m an Hellenic polytheist, I would keep my knowledge and experiences to that, just because I don’t think it’s a good idea for one to talk outside of one’s circles of expertise.

Secondly, based on the small amount of knowledge that I have of other Pagan religions, Hellenic polytheism seems especially well-suited to urban people. In ancient times, all of the biggest and best-kept temples were in the hearts of the cities. Yes, the traditions that were maintained longer (some of which even survive to this day with only the tiniest superficial changes), were maintained in rural areas, but that fact alone does not diminish the fact that city dwellers played a *huge* part in the growth and evolution of the Hellenic polytheistic religion and Theos-centred cults in the ancient world.

I also wanted to just… have a voice within the comparatively small Hellenic polytheistic community. The more voices that are out there, the better-defined the religion becomes.

Now, having this blog on WordPress.com has a few advantages — one of these is simply the fact that blog hit stats and incoming link sources are automatically counted with almost no real effort from my end. I will return to this point momentarily.

Like many bloggers who feel that they have something to say that’s worth saying, I did a small amount of linking this blog on other sites, but my efforts in that, due to my severe distaste for “spamming” practises, was reserved to a few e-mail lists that I’m on, my personal web-diary, and a message board that I read and post to periodically. I didn’t make a huge effort. In fact, I expected most of my readers would be people that I regularly spoke to on these fora already, most of whom already knew about my practises and about my love for large urban areas.

What I didn’t expect, in one month’s time, was to go and check my “incoming links” list, as I do every week, and find readers in Brazil who (after deciphering the Portugese on Bablefish) seem very enthusiastic about this blog. 🙂 This makes me very happy.

Maybe it’s a bit egotistical to say something about this so soon? After all, my first post to this blog was only made on October 4th of this year, but it’s still something that I found impressive and very flattering nonetheless. I’m very glad that somebody from outside of the major English-speaking countries I mainly converse on-line with (being the United $tates, Canada, the UK, and Australia) is excited enough about this blog to make a post about it on their own. I hope she doesn’t mind, but if you can read Portugese (or are at least willing to run her blog through Bablefish or Google Languages), check out Louro brotando (Urban Hellenistos has been added under “Links”).

*OK, technically I was born and mostly-raised in Toledo, Ohio (until my father remarried a Quaker woman with a chicken farm in rural Michigan — where I went to high school); but if you’re familiar enough with the urban Midwestern U$, you know that Toledo, Ohio is to Detroit what Gary, Indiana is to Chicago.