Let’s Talk About: Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd has always been one of those people who I felt like, maybe I should like him more than I actually do.  He and I are far closer on the political spectrum than Galina Krasskova and myself, but in the last year or so, I have discovered problem, after problem, after problem with him.

Until a couple years ago, especially noticeable before the launch of Gods & Radicals, he wrote a lot of more mystical stuff, bardic, poetic,…  It wasn’t really my thing, for the most part, but it was inspired and original and -most importantly- interesting.  Then, whatever the hell happened, his calling got upended and he’s since been rehashing Marxism For Dummies and a Cliff’s Notes of Starhawk, and it’s been trite and boring.  If you find this “inspiring,” I highly recommend that you actually read The Communist Manifesto and Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and pretty much any of Starhawk’s works, because they’ve both actually addressed all of the issues Rhyd’s been talking for the last couple years in a concise manner, and better-written, and they actually come closer to offering viable solutions than anything Rhyd’s said…

…but then, when someone actually tells him that he’s all theory and no solution, he just hand-waves about being a philosopher, as if that actually addresses the fairly justified critiques.  I mean, hell, can’t he just Cliff’s Notes Marx’s solutions, or Guevara’s, or Starhawk’s, and so on — or would that just make it all the more obvious that he hasn’t had an original thought in his head for the last two years?

Yeah, probably….

Then there’s his social justice problems.

Yes, he’s been regarded as “SJW” for a few years, now, but here’s the thing (aside from the fact that the term has become as meaningless as “politically correct” has been since the 1990s):  He’s about as terrible as Tumblr thinks many male film stars are, when it comes to intersectional issues.

He’s got an established record of sexism and misogyny.  I’ve been told several accounts -both first-hand and eye-witness (or at least the Internet equivalent of)- and seen many of the “receipts” of his tendencies to just outright dismiss the concerns of women so he can tell them that they should care more about how the real problem is Capitalism, as if ending Capitalism is just suddenly supposed to end sexism with Anarchist Magic — I don’t know what gender studies histories he’s read, but sexism long pre-dates Capitalism, ergo, ending Capitalism won’t end sexism, no matter what Rhyd seems to want his readers think.  (As a quick example off the top of my head:  The Cyrenaics and Cynics were regarded as fucking oddball schools of philosophy, as women were held in just as much regard as the men in those schools — and that’s just the Hellenic world.  There are countless examples of how sexism reigned long before the institution of Capitalism, and how fucking revolutionary proto-feminism has always been.)  That pretty much is just Marx verbatim, when he pulls that shit — it might make sense in print, but it betrays a gross ignorance of the history of misogyny, and since Marx was talking from a position of male privilege, it obviously didn’t occur to him that ending Capitalism won’t magically make sexism disappear.

Stemming from his misogyny is his implicit femphobia.  If you think he hasn’t committed this, I ask that you consider:

  • The fact that he has, on several occasion, gone on and on and fucking on about how he’s gone out of his way to craft a burly, especially masculine/butch physique and image.  Shit, I’ve seen him go on about his own stench with more zeal than most trans guys marvel at their own after only several months on HRT — at least with trans guys, there’s the excuse that they’re basically going through puberty again, only a biologically “male” one, this time around, and they find the difference interesting and fascinating.  With Rhyd, it’s like he’s inviting us all to read some autoerotic fetish, cos he’s older than me, and the only other guys I see go on like that as in spank-chats.  This alone isn’t necessarily damning, but he frequently takes a tone implying this is far favourable to effeminacy — this is especially clear when he goes on about the folly of “identity politics” and his rejection of a “gay” identity in the fact of his clear homosexual inclinations.
  • Oh, yeah, and he’s also made a point to remind practically everyone that he’s only interested in guys as burly and smelly as himself.  These have been public Facebook posts that, like I said, read like the text profiles of dudes looking for cybersex and hook-ups.  This is mirrored in countless “No fats, no fems” Grindr profiles and Craigslist “casual encounters” listings.  Again, in and of itself, this isn’t necessarily bad, but our preferences don’t develop in a vacuum, meaning his rejection of effeminacy and the effeminate comes from somewhere.
  • Oh, yeah, and he basically admits that “faggot,” a word that is consistently used as a slur against specifically effeminate men, and especially against gay-identified effeminate men (and remember, he rejects the idea that his homosexual inclinations necessarily make him “gay”) and we see this language of “faggot” reinforced in LGBT+ spaces, in mixed spaces, and especially in any heteronormative spaces — shit, we see this in the 1984 film Purple Rain, as Morris Day calls Prince’s The Kid character, who is as effete as Prince, himself, a “long-haired faggot,” in spite of the character being heterosexual.  This is not a word that has been used against him — but he’s going to appropriate it, anyway, cos that’s just what white cis men do, is appropriate experiences that are not theirs to reclaim.  Guess that’s what unexamined privilege does to a person.

He’s also cissplained to me on several occasions (at least one of which is in the comments on this blog), as if I’m supposed to take this seriously, because he’s the big burly manly cis Man homosexual man, and I’m just the effete trans fag (though vaguely bi-, If I’m being totally honest — like a K5) with more skirts than Eddie Izzard.  Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to eventually learn, some day in the hypothetical future, that he doesn’t actually take my male gender identity seriously for the simple fact that I embrace effeminacy while “real” trans men look like Buck Angel and Jameson Green and Chaz Bono and other masculine manly MAN men, and not like Boy George or Rozz Williams or Marc Bolan — transgressing cisnormativity is fine for cis men, but trans men gotta be Manly MAN Men, y’know?  I suspect he’d go there because I’ve heard this shit from literally every butch cis homosexual I’ve encountered, and a lot of the trans ones, for sure….  Sure, this specific thought is speculative, but it sure as hell wouldn’t surprise me, if it were true.

Now let’s get more personal for a mo’….

So, I’m not going to out this person publicly (they can do that, themself, if they wish to), but Rhyd has told at least one person, knowing full well they were going through a depressive period at the time, that you know, maybe they should just kill themself, cos there really isn’t anything else he can offer as advice.  Thankfully, this person didn’t take Rhyd’s advice, but there are just some lines a decent person never crosses, and I think that’s one of them.

The same person I also trust enough when they told me that Rhyd did, in fact, go out of his way to start shit with Galina and Sannion &co (which is probably, I suspect, what drove Galina into a knee-jerk reaction toward the AltRight — to be fair, her politics have always been fairly far to the right by anyone’s standards, but she’d been considerably more tempered in expressing this, and far less willing to turn a blind eye to some things before this last year and change) to boost hits toward the then-barely-past-inaugural Gods & Radicals e-zine.  This has been corborrated by two other people who were close-enough to the situation, at the time it was happening.  See, prior that, Rhyd was practically Galina’s golden boy, and even though she didn’t agree with his politics, she thought very highly of his work and of him personally, and often cited his mystical posts on his old blog, though I think Sannion referred to Rhyd’s blog from his own, far more often.

Now, as I said the other day, I made the choice to quietly distance myself from Galina &co over political reasons.  Though there was some misunderstanding last year when I mentioned something about it on someone else’s Facebook comments, I’ve really not gone out of my way to be a jackass about it; even my post from the other day, I spent a significant portion of the piece listing everything I still admire about Galina, even though I ultimately concluded that it’s better for myself to maintain some distance.  I never went out of my way to mischaracterize her snarky comments as an “endorsement” of Neonazi groups like the AFA and Stormfront (she and I were never all that close, but I’d certainly read her blog long enough to be able to tell when she’s being snarky and when she’s being serious).  I never decided to pick fights in public and through private emails, and then proclaim it was a “crusade against me.”

That’s another thing that seems to give away, no matter how much he plays around in Europe, how pitifully American Rhyd is:  Literally even the most constructive critiques of his words and deeds suddenly becomes, in Rhyd’s own words, a “crusade against [him],” which is painting any disagreement as an outright Holy War.  He and others may snarkily call Galina &co “the Piety Posse,” but Galina has a tendency to paint these disagreements as actions of disrespect against the gods, spirits, and revered dead — not against her person.  When someone calls out Rhyd for bad behavior, it’s not just a personal attack, it’s an all-out Crusade against him!  Even if you 100% believe that Galina’s talk about how everyone is disrespecting the gods to the point of practical atheism is all “performative” and she’s just ego-tripping, fine, but she at least has the decency to frame it as a defense of something other than herself she’s concerned about (my personal opinion?  Unlike some, I’ve met Galina, and I have witnessed the clear passion she has for her religion, which has literally brought her to tears — it’s humbling to see someone that devoted, and while I don’t like how fervently she goes after every perceived slight she sees against the Gods, I don’t for a second doubt her passionate devotion being anything less than 100% sincere.)  Rhyd makes no such pretentions — he wants you to know that any criticism will be taken as literally a “crusade against him.”

Now let’s go back to my comment about how he’s playing around Europe:  I really can’t take any of his talk about “revolution” seriously after he went expat.  At least when James Baldwin and Josephine Baker took off for France, they did so to escape the outright crippling homophobia and racism that held back their vocations.  Rhyd has a stable income through several avenues, so his ability to do what he loves has not been impeded; hell, even without taking his book money and other sources into account, he’s making enough on Patreon so as to exceed my SSDI cheque, alone, before the added Social Security Survivor’s Benefits that allow me to live on my own, and this income is, as best as I can tell, just for being Rhyd Wildermuth.

…but I digress:  He’s made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he’s written off the States as a “sinking ship,” and that’s why he’s left the country — what this translates as, to me, is “I’m privileged enough to bail after I got mine, and I know the current administration is going to literally kill people, but oh well, I got bored with my old job as a social worker, where I could have at least tried.  I’d rather get paid to buy the hype about myself and climb up Druid Mountains and then make callous remarks about how the disabled just, well, have to die, cos I’m not afraid to die, and if you got paid hundreds of dollars a month to gallivant about Europe, you too can have these spiritual epiphanies and be fine!  Ah well….  Good luck, and thanks for all the fish!”

His most recent bullshit catching him hell from a steadily increasing number of people on Facebook really reminds me of every bourgie uni student who goes on a spiritual tourism of South America or parts of Asia or Africa, and then bores you to death with stories of their exploitative “spiritual awakenings” — you know, the kinds of people he likes to snark on cos of their unexamined Colonialism, and while he doesn’t really seem to express that specific characteristic in his recent rodomontades, his arrogance and pretentions are about on-par with those kids back-packing across the slums of Southeast Asia on Daddy’s dime.

Again, he and I are mostly on the same page, politically, but I just never really liked the guy, and the more I learn about him, the more justified I feel in this.  He’s like the anti-Galina, in this sense — I never really liked him all that much, even though we’re generally in agreement on politics, while I like her on a person-to-person level, but I just ran out of spoons to deal with her politics and the toxic alliances she’s formed since this falling-out with Rhyd (which, as I’ve assessed from those who were close-enough to the situation to know more, was completely of Rhyd’s design and intent to create).  In simplest terms, to call Rhyd “a real asshole” is one of the nicer things I could say about him, and generally speaking, the more I think about him, the angrier I get — makes me glad I’m not Bruce Banner, I have too many nice clothes and irreplaceable concert t-shirts.

[This post had some typos corrected and a few relatively minor revisions for clarity on 2017-06-30 @02.07]

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Hypocrite. Sell-out.

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If you participate in contemporary Paganism, chances are, you might have also participated in respectability politics: I know that I have. I’ve endorsed the traditional party line on how to engage with the press (sharp suit, conservatively groomed, approved talking points), applauded efforts that made us more relatable to the Christian majority, and even volunteered for outreach “opportunities” I didn’t want to do for fear of who might fill the void left by my refusal. The underlying message being that if we do this work outsiders will, if not embrace us, then at least tolerate us, if we seem to be like them.

I am here to say that I was wrong in my self-perceived sensible moderateness.

[….]

[Scott Cunningham’s The Truth About Witchcraft Today (1987)] came out in the heat of the “Satanic” moral panics, and I suppose one can forgive our community for being afraid. Lives were being ruined, police were being trained by “occult experts” that our symbols might point to dastardly deeds, and a new, muscular, Evangelical Christianity was riding high, ready to push back on the “sins” of a previous era. An unspoken set of rules for how to behave, an ethos of respectability, was being formed in response.

  • Dress modestly when you think you might encounter the press.
  • Remind people that we are not Satanists, and that we don’t harm children.
  • Subcultural markers like tattoos, “extreme” hairstyles, dramatic makeup, or facial piercings, are to be frowned on.
  • Sex in our faiths and our communities is to be downplayed at all times, good or bad.
  • Remind people that we are doctors, soldiers, lawyers, and members of other respected professions.
  • Distance yourself publicly from more flamboyant members of the community. When confronted on their existence in the press, stress that they are the exception, not the rule, to how we look, act, and behave.
  • Engage with local interfaith councils to change perceptions about our faiths.
  • Refer to magic as “another form of prayer,” and stress a general theism, or a nature-loving pantheism, over a more “difficult” polytheism.
  • “We love nature.”
  • Quietly resist intersectionality within our own struggle. Maintain a false “apolitical” don’t-rock-the-boat facade in public.

Those were messages that I saw, heard, or felt were implied throughout my years coming of age within modern Paganism. These were never carved out commandments, but they don’t have to be. Once this tactic is adopted, it is the dominant culture that calls the shots on “proper” behavior. The problem with these kind of conservative ideologies is that one can never truly be conservative enough, so long as our core nature, and the dominant system’s norms, remain unchanged.

This was the first post I’d read on Gods & Radicals, and I found it endearing, and a promising start for that blog (and I thank the unnamed friend who’d reminded me of it).  Though written by Jason Thomas Pitzl, one can only assume it was endorsed by Editor-in-Chief, Rhyd Wildermuth, as it was handpicked to be the inaugural essay of the blog, but as we now see, calling out and denouncing respectability politics is taking a back seat to the hit counts that people like John Halstead can bring to the publication.

The blog has now lost all integrity, as far as I’m concerned, in Rhyd’s dedication to playing nice with a clear Conservative who has said outright that “paganism” both can and should appeal to the status quo.  One cannot play nice with whose who hold ideals contradictory to one’s own and truly maintain those ideals for long; Rhyd himself has said as much.

Appropriation and respectability comes before the people most affected. Good to know.

rhyd001

Sell-out.

Hypocrite.

He’ll support the marginalised in the abstract, but when it makes him feel cool to appropriate our experiences against protests, oh well, he’s cool letting his privilege show and not address it.

He’ll play the “Far Left Anarchist” in concept, but he’ll play nice with the Right-Wing Respectability Police when it’ll drive up the hit counter.

Sell-out.

Hypocrite.

No, really, fuck your respectability politics

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From Wikipedia:

>> Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous, and compatible, with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for what they see as its failure to accept difference. <<

And yeah, that’s fairly straightforward.

  • Avatar

    Definition of respect:
    : a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
    : a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

    Why should we not seek that?

     

Once again, Halstead is arguing with strawmen.  No-one ever said that we should not seek respect, only that appealing to the “respectability” as defined by the status quo, excludes those who are most vulnerable.

Respectability politics is a tool of the right-wing.  Its recorded history goes back to late 19th Century affluent and Conservative African-Americans seeking to appeal to White society by distributing pamphlets in poor Black communities, telling them how to talk, how to dress, how to fucking bathe – things that those people already considered perfectly fine ideals, but were, on some levels, out of reach to them:  Enunciation isn’t going to put food on the table, when you’re trying to put food on the table, dressing Beau Brummel isn’t going to be too high on the priorities, either, and when you’re fucking dirt-poor without indoor plumbing, chances are, you’ll get your baths when you get them.  Shit like this is mirrored in Halstad’s words.

In England during the 1970s, when Quentin Crisp’s memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, was made into a BBC television film, telling Crisp’s experiences as a high-feme homosexual man (if he were a twenty-something on Tumblr, he’d probably identify as genderqueer), The Gay Times issued a scathing review, suggesting that Crisp’s memoir was have been best published “posthumously” – implying all over the place that the world would be best off without queers who don’t just fuck queerly, but walk it, talk it, live it every second of every day.  The Gay Times was endorsing a respectability politics that said to mainstream Britain, “we know you’ll only respect gays who look and act as much like heterosexual men as possible, so we’re going to act just like you in order to make you accept us.  We don’t want the flaming fairies around any more than you do.  They don’t have your respect, so they won’t have ours, either.”  Thi, too, is mirrored in Halstead’s words.

When people like John Halstead (who, it’s been long established, is only “pagan” because he says he is, but this has been put far more eloquently by others) point at people like Phelan MoonSong and say “this does not help people take Paganism seriously,” he is aligning himself with the sentiments of bourgeois-aspiring 19th Century blacks patronising to the working class blacks, and the misogyny and femmephobia of The Gay Times in the ’70s.  This is typical bourgeoisie respectability politics that Halstead is engaging in, and it is a tool of KKKapitalism and the Right Wing, designed to divide; Halstead has made it absolutely clear, in absolutely no uncertain terms, that he cares more about making paganism appeal to the status quo than he cares about challenging the status quo to accept differences.

At this point, I can no longer take Gods & Radicals seriously as an anti-Capitalism publication, for at least as long as they are giving platform to John Halstead.  When they give platform to a proponent of respectability politics, they endorse it as perfectly normal, even acceptable within “anti-Capitalist paganism,” as they define it.

This also means that, for at least as long as G&R is giving platform to John Halstead, I cannot at all trust their editor-and-chief, Rhyd Wildermuth, either.  I already have trust issues with butch gays, because they have a habit of just being far too comfortable with respectability politics, because the proponents of said almost never come for the butch gays – the butch gays are “safe,” in the politics of respectability, so to them, challenging respectability politics is just an abstract concept that they can agree to disagree on, it’s not something that actively threatens them and their existence or their right to space in activism.  He may have appropriated the “faggot” identity, but sit any two-year-old down with a picture of Rhyd and a picture of Quentin Crisp, ask that child which one the “faggot” is, and which one’s the “butch”, we all know who that child will identify as each.  (I could go on about how Rhyd has no right to appropriate the word “faggot”, when his careful cultivation of a burly, smelly, sweaty Manly image, to contrast with gay pagans and polytheists who are considerably less so, means that term does not apply to him, according to the homophobic masses, but that’s another story for another time.)  I already have trust issues with butch gays, so now it’s up to Rhyd to prove that he’s trustworthy.

The status quo is just as threatened by femme FAGGOTS, like myself, as John Halstead is threatened by any pagan he deems too “weird” to be respectable to the status quo he desperately envisions pagans appealing to.

If he continues to keep John Halstead on the G&R staff of writers, Rhyd is an enemy to ALL who are vulnerable to respectability politics.  The longer he keeps Halstead on, the more he proves he’s an enabler of all that comes with respectability politics, including racism, femmephobia, misogyny, cissexism, ableism, freakphobia, and so on.  The longer he keeps Halstead on G&R staff, the more Rhyd proves he’s an enabler of the bourgeoisie, and a total sell-out.

Respectability politics has no place in paganism — and it has no place in radical Far Left politics.

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.

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…

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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.