Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 20, 2011 — 54 Comments

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    When I was much younger I was an occasional canoeist and developed a view of power-boaters' navigation entirely consistent with the experiences of the Winemem Wintu.

  • thehouseofvines

    Regarding the situation in India:

    This struggle has been going since the Mahalakshmi Mysteries first appeared. These individuals selfishly never think about the following: if men allow women to be incorporated into Mahalakshmi Mysteries,What will men own on their own? Nothing! Again! Ladies who attack us only care about themselves.
    We men need our own culture, our own resourcing, our own traditions.
    You can tell these are women, They don’t care if men loose the Only tradition reclaimed after much research and practice ,the Mahalakshmi Tradition. Women simply want in. its their will. How dare us men not let them in and give away the ONLY spiritual home we have!
    Women want to worship the Goddess? Why not put in the WORK and create your own trads.
    Why are we the ONLY tradition they want? Go Tuljapur!Go Mahur! Go Vani!
    Filled with women, and men. They would fit fine.
    But if you claim to be one of us, you have to have sometimes in your life a penis, and testicles and ejaculate and not die.
    Men are born not made by women on operating tables.

    Yeah, I totally went there.

    • chuck_cosimano

      It will be interesting to see how many of the women involved in that are still alive a few months from now.

    • This is the most hilarious thing I have read since you did a LOLcat version.

    • "But if you claim to be one of us, you have to have sometimes in your life a penis, and testicles and ejaculate and not die.
      Men are born not made by women on operating tables."

      Hey, look! Cisgender privilege asserting transphobia! Also additional misogyny!

      "What will men own on their own?"

      Well, until the last century, in the U.S. at least men were the only ones with voting rights. And they still own the majority of seats in the government. We haven't had a female president, either. Also, the Roman Catholic priesthood worldwide. I could go on, but I think these are a good start.

      • This was satire. He just took Z Budapest's rant and changed a few words. Get a sense of humor.

        • Souris Optique

          It's identical to what is posted all over the web every day, and it isn't particularly funny.

          • thehouseofvines

            No, a presumed Pagan Elder like Z. Budapest making hateful, derogatory comments against men and transexuals really isn't funny. It's even sadder that there were actually people defending her.

        • My sense of humor is just fine, thank you. It just doesn't rely upon denigrating entire groups of people to survive.

          • thehouseofvines

            Then you need to take that up with Z Budapest herself. What I posted there is an exact quote of a comment she left regarding the recent skirmish over trans-inclusion* with the gender swapped for comedic effect. Had you bothered to read any of the other comments I've made – here in this thread, when the Dianic/Trans issue was going on, or anywhere and anytime else – you'd see perfectly well where I stand. But I guess it's more fun to spout off and get all indignant over nothing. I'm really disappointed, Lupa. I expected better of you.

            * And which was reposted here at The Wild Hunt as well as on numerous other blogs. So unless one has been completely ignoring what's going on in the Pagan blogosphere for the last couple months, there's really no excuse for not being familiar with it.

          • Dver

            Did you really think that was his actual opinion on the matter? Not only does it not jive with anything else he's ever expressed, but it was written in such poor grammatical style (since it was copying Z's original poor style) that I would think that was an immediate tip-off just on its own. Sannion is pretty well known for his satirical style, and certainly *not* known for misogyny, so not sure why you jumped to the worst conclusion there.

    • paosirdjhutmosu

      You, sir, are a genius. xD I'd have laughed louder, but I'm at a library! Just missing the accompanying LOLcats.

  • thehouseofvines

    Very much agreed with you on that point. I'm not a Hindu and I don't know any of the details aside from what I picked up by briefly skimming the article Jason linked to but I'm sorry, if the tradition states that only men can participate in this ritual at this temple then it just isn't right for women to force their way into that, especially if by doing so they render the rites ineffective and displeasing to the gods. As one of the persons interviewed mentioned there are plenty of other festivals and temples that are open to both sexes, so crying discrimination really isn't applicable. Of course, that's just my opinion as an outsider, an opinion that doesn't carry any weight and isn't based on a whole lot. In fact, I would have refrained from commenting altogether except that it seemed like a perfect opportunity to poke fun at Z. Budapest's ignorant diatribe. This whole issue – whether we're talking about it in a Hindu or contemporary American Pagan context – isn't one that I care much about, because it's completely irrelevant to my own religious path. None of the cults that I'm engaged in are restricted by gender or deal with gender at all except in the most abstract sense. With Dionysos for instance (where his mainades can only be women) I tend to focus on his other aspects and the corresponding appropriate forms of worship. And hell, even then not all women were mainades and there were Dionysiac roles filled by men alone. Most of the time, however, he was honored by all together in a grand orgiastic blurring of boundaries.

    • I think one of the reasons it's so offensive (as an outsider, mind you) is that women are selectively allowed in — but only if they're the "right" women with some political or financial clout. You've either got to make it exclusive to men or allow everyone, not just special people.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Agreed. Political compromise taints the spiritual core.

      • thehouseofvines

        That's what I get for not reading more thoroughly. Yeah, if they're selectively letting women in based on nothing more than political connections, then that pretty much invalidates any argument they might have made.

  • therioshamanism

    "Sadly, the section on religious minorities doesn’t mention his animus towards modern Pagans."

    Did your spellchecker toss "animus" in there instead of "animosity"? A Jungian slip, perhaps? 🙂

    Also, thank you for the repetition of the "Lupa's not a lawyer, talk to the fish and game folks!" mantra with my link. Guess i emphasize that a lot 😉

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Nope! It's a proper usage of the word.

      As for the disclaimer, I thought you might want me to stress that. It's a great resource. Thank you for the work you put into making it.

      • TIL: new vocabulary 🙂

  • The action by these women in Maharashtra is not an isolated incident. Hindus have also been challenging restrictions that require, at least at some temples, for all priests to be born into the Brahmin caste. These are things to be worked out among Hindus. But of course that certainly doesn't mean that others are not allowed to have their opinions.

    Also, it should be known that the women who carried out this protest claim that some women were already allowed into the garbha griha, but only those with the right political connections.

    Ironically, the Sanskrit term "garbha griha", denoting the part of the temple that women were excluded from, literally means "womb chamber".

  • Is anyone else totally creeped out by Matt Stone's "tips for talking to Pagans"? It reminds of those articles and books on "how to pick up girls."

    • YES YES YES. You can also switch out "Pagan" for any minority. The "DO…focus on Jesus" one rubbed me wrong too. What the world doesn't focus on him enough? Did I enter the promise land where they don't?!

      I'm really undecided on interfaith dialogue. I'm all for understanding and respecting other religions but sometimes I just don't see the point. I have plenty of Christian friends, we just don't talk religion. Hence the reason we're still you know, friends.

    • Hey Ap'

      Man I was raised in a ministers house so I have to tell you, this is pretty progressive compared to most of the similar lists I've seen; http://www.escapeplan.org/chick/Satanists/3.gif

      However, it does expose something about Christianity that 'hides in the open'
      "Don't … dump on women or gays or the environment" as in: there is a need for a Christian to avoid discussing their views on these topics because the church denegrates all 3. 😉

      • ixnay on the igotrybay.

        • Pax

          Ironically enough, so many of us have been saying that to you for years now.

          • I know you are, but what am I?

            Also, if you actually want to accuse someone of bigotry, then do it right and produce some actual evidence. Otherwise you are just insulting people with baseless accusations. In other words, you are being a jerk, to put it very nicely.

    • I took the liberty of responding to that post at my blog. Short answer: yes, it always creeps me out when someone pretends to be my friend so they can sell me something.

    • I can certainly appreciate that the fellow is earnest in his efforts at trying to develop a dialogue with Pagans. But at the end of the day, if conversion is the end game, any outreach or dialogue, no matter how well intended, is tainted. As much as I enjoy interfaith discussion and debate, I am convinced that polytheism and monotheism are irreconcilable theistic perspectives, and as such interfaith discussion, and reconciliation of those perspectives, will only go so far.

      • grimmorrigan

        Bingo. The number of folks who makes these " how to pick up Pagans" books often forget to add: Don't try and sell Jesus like a used car. I think his Do…focus on realtionships is a start. My best friend and I manage to have these discussion and we never speak about Jesus. He focuses on relationship and figures that my relationship is just different than his. However this is based on being frineds for more than half our lives.

        • "Don't try and sell Jesus like a used car."

          ok, so what do I have to do to get this conversion done today?

          • The line separating Christian Evangelism and the Art of the Sale has always been essentially non-existent. Christianity and Capitalism are two heads on one monster.

          • Sure it there is. The Salesman never cuts up your car or threatens to kill you if you don't buy the new model.

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            But not buying and using certain "optional" products and services will likely get you ostracized and demonized as a freak of nature.

    • I am totally creeped out because he sounds like a stalker – never even considering that a Pagan might be uninterested in having a conversation with him. I mean, is he going to keep the focus on Jesus when asking if I'd like fries with that? Because otherwise, I have no interest in having a "conversation" with Christians. It isn't my job to educate them about my religion, and I'm utterly opposed to attempts at conversion. What else is there to talk about?

    • Tea

      I posted to his blog asking a few simple questions (in short, whether his aim was to convert Pagans to Christianity, and whether he thinks we're all going to burn in hell). That post seems to have been deleted. Oh well, so much for interfaith dialog. Can't say I didn't try.

  • Pax

    So I checked out the documentary and liked it over all.

    I liked that you didn't hear the "we aren't …." arguments. I liked that it had good production values and that the participants were not dressed like some sort of Sci-Fi or Fantasy conventioneers. I liked that they were trying to focus on what the Pagan faiths agree on, including values, and how they emphasized what we have to offer the world.

    Didn't see much regarding the Recon branches of the Pagan family tree… which is a shame because if what we share are values then acknowledging that the discussion of values is a continuum from pre-Christian times to the present is important.

  • embreis

    It's tempting to play tit for tat with Christians like that, but it's important, I think, to be aware that the Christian (and Muslim) concept of an eternal blissful heaven for believers and eternal torture for everyone else is quite different from old Pagan concepts of the afterlife.

  • I don't see how anyone else's soul is any of our concern – that's between them and their gods, and is quite frankly none of our business.

  • embreis

    After reading Mr. Stone's advice, I was struck by this: " … and the average Pagan is far more sensitive and attuned to symbolic communications than the average Evangelical." This may well be true, but it's an odd thing to say. Is "symbolic communication" considered unChristian now?
    Not so surprising, but amusing to me: in his Panorama o' Pagans slideshow at the top of the page, Stone includes two pictures involving nudity, both from the same event, one a close shot of a young woman with bare breasts. This is a guy who knows salesmanship!!

    • Bookhousegal

      Heh. Well, I do think it's true about the 'symbolic communications,' …Those identified as Evangelicals (Or at least those evangelizing/arguing) seem pretty cripplingly literal-minded, as a rule: I suppose it goes with their own form of 'belief' in some structural way: while the premises of their literalistic beliefs may be 'supernatural' and absent or against evidence and experience, it's all very mechanistic from there, whether they're actually very *good* at logic or not.

      The fact is, they 'evangelize' ..not with expectations of dialogue or even necessarily convincing anyone of anything: if they did, they'd have learned something by now. 🙂 They do it to convince *themselves* they're better than anyone else, or have the 'one true way' or whatever. A 'conversion' now and again just validates that whole thing for them. Sometimes it's just a ritual proving they must be virtuous when they're against everyone else in the world: they ritually-annoy everyone till they're convinced they aren't welcome in the rest of the world for some other reason than their behavior.

      (If Michael comes back, he might note that Pagans generally take a dim view of proselytizing, *period,* and there's a lot of reasons why. )

      Yes, we're sensitive to symbolic communications: it's a native language to most of us. Probably we know better than you do what your symbols are trying to do: and it's not a matter of how you try and repackage it or your approach, 'evangelists,' …it's a matter of *what you're trying to do in the first place,* get it?

      It's particularly seen as threatening cause of Christianity's history of what's done to people who *don't* convert, or in the process of trying to make them, and particularly in light of Evangelical political activities that are clearly 'anti-everyone-else,' y'know?

      Apart from that, it's just rude. 🙂 You know, treating others like they only exist to be 'converted,' and who'd want to be involved in *that* once you've seen what it's like on the other end, at least? Never mind trying to threaten people with Hells and try to appeal to some notion of 'Save your own skin! From this …Thing we kinda made up…' May as well just knock on people's doors and say, 'Hey, you look like an ignorant coward with some kind of ancestral taint, how'd you like to join our religion and escape our feared torments at the expense of others and with promise of unspecified rewards? '

      However you package it, really, Michael: The 'How to Proselytize' is *don't proselytize.* See about how about you value your neighbors as humans, if you can't as spirits, respect the world and the other peoples and cultures in it, then let's see what on that day we can accomplish together as friends and neighbors. You know, when that happens, we'll probably end up swapping personnel quite a bit. But that's not about marketing 'conversions,' that's about something *real.*

      We're back, we've always been here, and we're here to stay. 🙂

  • Sallustius addressed this question in his Peri Theon kai Kosmou (On the Gods and the Cosmos). In Sallustius' opinion, the question isn't so much what will happen to those who deny the Gods, but rather what must these poor souls have done in some previous life to have sunk so low that they are completely cut off from the Gods in this life? Sallustius' answer was pretty straightforward: "It is not unlikely, too, that the rejection of the Gods is a kind of punishment: we may well believe that those who knew the Gods and neglected them in one life may in another life be deprived of the knowledge of them altogether. Also those who have worshipped their own kings as Gods have deserved as their punishment to lose all knowledge of the Gods." [this is from Section XVIII]

    • embreis

      Well said.

    • Michael

      Thanks. In context, the passages right after that read "There is no need to be surprised if neither these sins nor yet others bring immediate punishment upon sinners. For it is not only Daemons who punish the evil, the soul brings itself to judgment…. If punishment followed instantly upon sin, men would act justly from fear and have no virtue. Souls are punished when they have gone forth from the body, some wandering among us, some going to hot or cold places of the earth, some harassed by Daemons. Under all circumstances they suffer with the irrational part of their nature, with which they also sinned." It suggests that Sallustius believes that those who neglect his gods will be punished for that. All that "sin" talk seems foreign to most modern Pagan trads. BTW, I actually have Peri Theon kai Kosmou included in my copy of "Five Stages of Greek Religion".

      • Michael: "All that 'sin' talk seems foreign to most modern Pagan trads."

        "Sin" here just refers to some kind of action that is unethical and/or unjust. Where Christians and Pagans differ is not on whether or not specific actions can be "sinful" (that is, unjust or unethical), but on whether or not human nature is itself intrinsically sinful. Indeed, Christians believe that not only human nature, but the entire Universe itself is "fallen" and "tainted" by "the sin of Adam." That view of things is foreign to both ancient and modern Paganism.

      • embreis

        To be clear, Michael: there are a lot of flavors of Pagan belief, and I certainly don't claim to know all of them, but I've never met a modern Pagan who believed that the Gods punish people for failing to believe in them. As far as I can tell that view of divinity is an innovation brought to the world by Christianity, although a couple of other Big Religions have adopted it.
        Speaking for my own tradition, I would say the quality and potential of your next incarnation, should you choose to be incarnate again, will largely depend on the clarity and strength of vision that you have at the time of your death. If you haven't by then learned the foolishness of unjust behavior by then, you will probably wind up back where you started.
        And I think I agree with Sallustius: If I correctly understand the passage Apuleius quoted, he is saying that the inability to perceive the Gods is itself a punishment.

  • Michael

    Allow me to clarify: I am aware that Pagan and Christian conceptions of a positive afterlife differ, but according to your various Pagan traditions, can Christians who hold traditional, historic Christian beliefs, who disbelieve and maybe even dishonor Pagan gods, achieve a positive afterlife, however your beliefs define that. Yes or No? And please elaborate. It's true that many (or most) Christians think Pagans will experience a negative afterlife, but again, what about the converse? Although the replies were informative, they didn't address this.

    • Unlike Christianity (you guys might all have different branches of the tree but your roots are the same) Paganism is so varied that I really think there's not one answer that is going to fulfill your question. I can only speak for myself when I tell you that whatever you believe is going to directly influence your afterlife. I'm not concerned about saving your immortal soul, or preventing you from reaching heaven or the Summerlands or what have you, that's a decision that's yours and has nothing to do with me. If you believe in Heaven great, I hope you get there cause the alternative for you kinda sucks. If you believe in the Summerlands I hope your passing is as peaceful as possible and the apple blossoms smell sweet.

    • Michael, speaking just for myself I tend to believe in the version of the Afterlife described by Socrates at the the end of Plato's Republic. This is commonly referred to as "The Myth Of Er". It doesn't say much about what people "believed in" during their lives. Rather it says that each person experiences rewards and punishments that are in proportion to their good and bad deeds during their previous lifetime. But these rewards and punishments last for 1000 years and they are multiplied by 10 with respect to the good and bad deeds that they are rewards and punishments for. Then after that you get to return to a human body on earth and do it all over again.

      Socrates is pretty clear about what he means by good and bad deeds. Good deeds are those that are helpful to one's fellow human beings, while bad deeds are things that are injurious to others. Good deeds, to state the obvious, might not always be what other people want you to do, though, nor are bad deeds always counter to the wishes of others. (Sorting all that out is pretty much the point of everything that has taken up the previous discussion of whole of the Republic.)

      Something very much like this vision of the afterlife is also found in Book Six of Vergil's Aeneid, Cicero's "Dream of Scipio", and in a more elaborate form in Macrobius' Commentary on Cicero's "Dream of Scipio".

    • Bookhousegal

      And, to amplify, here, Michael, …No, in general, apart from a few snarky jibes about karma, poetic justice, and whatever happens behind the white walls of your Heaven, (I think we do imagine it as kind of institutional, maybe with some decent music, but your afterlife is *funnier,* probably cause it's scarier in a lot of ways: some Christian was like barking at me, 'What do you think St. Peter's going to say to you?' and I was like, 'Eh, he'll be, 'No jokes, this time, Irish.' 🙂 Yaknow. Apart from that. )

      I mean, if you're small-minded and hurt people, you won't be in any good space *wherever* you are, I don't care if you get a glass-bottomed suite at the Ritz with St. Augustine… Maybe he *got* to watch the torment of others, but if his idea of 'Heaven' appeals to you, forget about it, I'd just as soon see you out of play, and I'd be sure to ask for an 'off' switch. That's not up to creeds, that's up to *you.*

      Pagans are less fussed about this sort of thing, cause the worlds are *alive* to us, and not premised on people being judged and sentenced in that way. 'Summerland' in various forms is….Something we're content to glimpse and/or imagine or contact as ..Something to do with the Primal Land, ..needs no fences gates or borders, not *really,* cause you can't *be* there if you aren't…. There. And illusions of time are just kinda different from some linear 'Forever.'

      Easiest to say it's a place you stay as long as you need, but maybe even that's too linear. It's cooler than that.

      But we're allowed. That's what I'm told, anyway. And, no, we don't think Christians are doomed or that different, …Maybe disappointed if you expected the reverse, but it's a hard place to be that disappointed in. 😉

    • Bookhousegal

      Interesting little topic, anyway, (hope you don't mind a few posts: I actually know that it preoccupies Christians a lot more than it does *us,* (Important point, there) but the very fact it's a source of grief and anxiety to a lot of our Christian friends and relations and does seem to involve some spirit-world navigation and other things that kind of put it in my bailiwick.)

      I think the general expectation among Pagans is that if we meet you guys between lives you're going to feel like you were freaking out about stuff you really didn't need to. How's that?

      So much of this is in your *brain,* and those are quite mortal. Some confuse these things. Hard not to. Part of life. And 'Death' And, rebirth. And 'Just is.'

      I think you Christians need 'a savior' cause someone sold you 'a Hell.' Told you you were otherwise helpless and told you all of life and lives and the universe was about nothing but acceptance or punishment of your mortal egoes forever. And it's not our world, you know.

      I think our world is one where you can wake up after a life of doing what was, perhaps, 'the moral' thing, and wake up somewhere else, even remembering far too vivivdly, looking real hard for shame and blame and 'sin' like you were taught in both lives, but only finding, 'That was just *blind*.'

      And that's the challenge and promise, perhaps, of the Pagan soul, friend. Blame and judgment and 'eternity' are both too easy, too harsh, and in the soul's terms, a *big copout.*

      We don't' *know* everything, we don't even *feel* everything, …we aren't, we humans, even *always right nor demanded to be,* But we're alive. And what we do matters more than some trial. It's the very fabric of the world, of which we're a part.

      And that's not given to us to rewrite, not with any belief. Not even if we sell our souls to some promises of eternity. Alive.

      And as for what we think of Summerland, by whatever name, I'm sure it sounds all vague to you, but it's not always easy to come back from, when the world is full of troubles, and is anxious in its sleep. 😉

      That's why neither you nor I are the only being in the universe, or even any kind of excuse for such.


    • digital flaneur

      The stories are varied and contradictory and I, for one, am at home with metaphor. I tend to consider stories of the afterlife not in terms of their literal content, but in terms of the behavior they try to inspire in people, and what wisdom they impart implicitly about the cosmos and the nature of the gods. One can still interact with Hades for what he represents, without believing he is literally sitting on a throne surrounded by shades.

      To be very Jungian about it, there is Death-death, the one where your body is destroyed, and then there are smaller, symbolic deaths, such as Ego Death.

      I don't know what happens after death, physically or supernaturally. I don't particularly think I am beholden to think the afterlife stories of polytheistic traditions are all correct in a literalistic manner. I do know that I think the Christian and Islamic ideas of the afterlife (interpreted literally, but even metaphorically to a lesser degree) are some of the most psychologically damaging, ruinous ideas humankind has ever had; I'm glad it's easier for the pagan afterlives to be taken more ambiguously.

    • Their afterlife is immaterial (pun intended!). Their actions on this plane of existence matter, not their beliefs or what happens after their bodies get recycled into worm food.

  • Bookhousegal

    Actually, Michael, on your original question, I think the default answer is, 'Yes,' ….Bearing in mind that most Pagan traditions and Pagans in practice tend to be not-attached to the idea of a 'single place or set of places all souls go, never mind forever in some linear way' to begin with, well, particularly in terms of notions that pleasing Gods helps in this way, I'd say it's seen as quite possible for the Gods to be pleased with or even favor someone who's not kneeling or 'believing,' in the way Christians place what seems like kind of an obsessive primacy on.

    A fairly typical Pagan view is *not* one like where Christianity assumes you're selling your soul or fealty for some eternal reward/punishment. …while things like fealty and loyalty to the Gods are *something,* they aren't the be-all-and -end all, to borrow an Abrahamic phrase. 🙂

    Obviously, it's a lot *easier* to have some connection to the Gods, but They also favor fools and innocents that please Them (even some daringly-arrogant types who'd have done better to appreciate certain gifts,) in many cultures. 🙂

    Christians tend to greet the idea of someone not being safely ensconced in *their* Heaven or *their* Hell (or maybe *their* purgatory forever with some kind of horror, …Pagans tend to think of other people's after/betweenlives more like, 'The next zip code,' if that. 🙂

    Apart from that, a good plurality of us hold to reincarnation in some way or other, and someone woulda noticed if we'd kept a few million creedal slots open all this time. 😉

    I figure it's much like it's always been. If Herself could find a punk like me (with thanks) after where I've been, I figure things just ain't that deterministic. 😉