Pagan Voices: Vivianne Crowley, Peter Dybing, Thorn Coyle, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 21, 2013 — 99 Comments

Pagan Voices is a regular feature here at The Wild Hunt, one that seeks to highlight our voices, wisdom, debates, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. If you enjoy this regular round-up, please consider donating to our Fall Funding Drive (and thank you to the over 200 supporters who have already donated). Now, onward…

Vivianne Crowley

Vivianne Crowley

“Why does consciousness awareness bring such pain? As a species we have become god-like in our ability to create the world in which we live and to be aware of our own existence. We have become as the gods; but we do not become gods. Unlike gods, we have frail physical bodies. We have the self-awareness of the divine, but the fragility of a beautiful flower that blooms for only a short time before it is blown away on the wind. We may incarnate again but the ‘I’ that exists now, formed by genetic inheritance and the experiences of this current lifetime, is transitory. Our consciousness and sense of self are dependent on the physical brain and one day that brain will no longer function. This knowledge can cause us anguish and despair – it is difficult to let go of the self that we have always known – or we can acknowledge and accept our destiny and value this incarnation all the more because it is so short. Time passes, youth fades, illness and ageing come. This is the fate of all us, a shared human ending. Even the richest of us like Steve Jobs cannot escape the inevitability of death.” – Vivianne Crowley, on death, and beyond, from a Pagan context.

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

“Many individuals in our community seek to expand their practice and network of contacts by sticking exclusively to theological pursuits ignoring the connections our beliefs have with the environmental, political and social issues of the day. Such an approach, while minimizing the potential for discord, leads to a ‘Pagan light’ approach to daily practice. For an activist, the spiritual is political, personal and weaved fully into our understanding of our path. If this is so, how do we avoid the many conflicts that arise from our activities? The simple answer is we don’t. If our beliefs and actions lead to strife among our co-religionists, it is a reflection of our effectiveness in pursuing our deity inspired concepts of social justice. At the center of this divergence is the ability to hold those within our circles with whom we disagree in what I term ‘Sacred Regard’ as teachers, clarifiers of our path and respected seekers on their own journey.” – Peter Dybing, on activism, acceptance, and approval within the Pagan community.

Chas Clifton

Chas Clifton

“Most people do not fight over theology anyway. Theology is often just a group marker, “us versus them.” The theological claims themselves are secondary. People fight for their group more than “for the gods,” perhaps. People will change religion for a variety of reasons—to get along with a spouse’s family, to gain or to retain their social status (the Roman senatorial class), or to avoid having their heads chopped off… An “organic” Pagan society is the dream of many, but as Things Fall Apart illustrates, such a society can be transformed within one generation.  I do, of course, consider both the traditional Igbo and the fourth-century Romans to be Pagan, using the term as we now define it. There is no other choice when “traditional religion goes global” either, as the recent New York Times piece about a West African traditional priest working in New York City described. When geographical and cultural boundaries are crossed, we need a “global” descriptor. Can we construct a theology — or is it part of Pagan theology today — to say that the gods fight their own battles?” – Chas Clifton, on why the Pagans did not fight for their gods, and some reflections on that idea.

Cat Chapin-Bishop

Cat Chapin-Bishop

“I read the part describing the admission fee–$30 per person–and I thought, No.  This is just not right. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that is.  It feels important to me to find words for this. It’s not disrespect for Penczak.  It’s not that I think it’s an unreasonable fee–there are travel costs, and the guy deserves to earn money for his time. It’s not an objection to teachers being paid–heaven knows, as a public school teacher, I’m in favor paychecks going to those who skillfully communicate knowledge.  I think it’s that what I would be looking for, in meeting Penczak, would not be knowledge, but rather, that deeper thing: an exchange of wisdom.  It is my experience that there are kinds of spiritual wisdom that cannot be had in any way other than an exchange, and an exchange between equals between peers.  And not only is is potentially charged for me to assert that I am the peer of someone whose work is widely known, I think it’s also true that the relationship of one peer to another, outside of the closed and narrow world of individual covens or traditions, is one that nothing in the Pagan world is set up to foster. [...] My point is something about the Pagan movement as a whole: we don’t do peer relationships well.” – Cat Chapin-Bishop, on peer relationships, and the lack thereof, within the Pagan community.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster

“It is vitally important that we rebuild the cults of the Gods. These become the pillars supporting all we build thereafter. (Re-)Establishing and cultivating our connections to the Gods with regular offerings and feasts brings Their powers and presences deeply into our lives. This is what was taken away from our forebears by Christianity and Islam, and with the same urgency as they were destroyed, we need to restore the ancient practice. Places consecrated to the Gods and activated through offerings radiate Their blessings into the world about about them and into the lives of those who worship. Our culture’s lack of alignment with the Gods is a fundamental dimension to our self-destruction. Without cultivating pluralism, without honoring the Many and the Particular, we will continue our descent into barbarity. Mostly I would expect Pagans to come and worship in the restored cults, although if open enough others—not Pagan, or not yet Pagan—will come join us to eat and drink with the Gods. But we need a more outward-facing strategy: we need to rebuild the Mysteries.” – Sam Webster, on how a Pagan restoration can save the world.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“When the paramedics came, they asked her a few questions. She requested that she be able to take her food to go. I quickly packed up some bread and salad, but couldn’t find an extra jar for soup. Some other guests at her table helped. When I returned with the food, the paramedics were getting her up, one on each side. This next part is what killed me, and is the reason I’m writing this down: She immediately put her hands behind her back, wrist over wrist, awaiting handcuffs. One of the paramedics said, “You don’t have to do that. We’re not the cops. We’re paramedics.” I followed behind, with her food bag, talking with one of the women holding a clipboard. I explained about the HIV and meds. I gave her name. The entire time I walked behind her, she held her hands in that handcuffed position. She had asked for help the only way she knew how – by laying across the food counter. She had wanted the paramedics to come. Yet part of her knew, just knew, she was being arrested. Hands behind her back. Wrist over wrist. It felt like a tragedy to me. What sort of life has she lived so far that even in asking for and receiving help, she expected punishment? And how do we do this to ourselves? What boxes are we living in? What shadows? What do our bodies know that we can’t even speak of? What punishment, or rejection, or pain waits coiled inside? How can we help ourselves heal?” – T. Thorn Coyle, on tragedy and healing.

Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ

“According to retired anthropological archaeologist Dean Snow, the handprints made by Paleolithic ancestors 40,000-20,000 years ago may have been made primarily by women. Snow spent a decade gathering and analyzing photographs of the handprints left in caves. The scientific fact that women’s first and ring fingers are generally of the same length, while men’s ring fingers are generally longer their index fingers, led him to the conclusion that ¾ of the handprints in the caves were made by women! If women were painting their hands on the caves in larger numbers than men, then isn’t likely that they were also painting the images of the great beasts on the walls of the caves? This is Snow’s conclusion.  The article states that Snow’s findings contradict the widely held theory that male hunters were the sole creators of the cave paintings of the Paleolithic caves such as Lascaux and Chauvet. Feminist interpreters of the cave paintings have long noted that pregnant animals which no hunter would ever kill are also portrayed on the walls of the caves. This suggests a wider purpose for cave rituals than hunting magic. Still, comfortable assumptions that support widely held gender stereotypes are not easily dislodged. ‘Man the hunter’ remains the popular image of ‘cave man,’ while the image of ‘cave woman’ being pulled by her hair by ‘cave man’ sticks in the mind. Despite decades of feminist theorizing about caves as the womb of the Great Mother, Snow refused to speculate about the meanings ‘cave women’ might have given to the images within the caves. Could it be that he had never even encountered the idea that the cave symbolizes the womb of Mother Earth? Did this idea simply not ‘make sense’ to him? Is the idea of expressing gratitude to the Source of Life alien to him?  Or did he have difficulty imagining that the Source of Life is located in the earth–not in heaven?” – Carol P. Christ, on women artists and ritualists in great caves.

Alyxander Folmer

Alyxander Folmer

“I find the practice of Apologetic argument execrable. Apologetics don’t lead to conversation, and they don’t facilitate respectful exchange. Instead, they make a declaration and then reject anything that may contradict that statement. This is the opposite of everything modern logical thought and scientific practice has taught us. The scientific method teaches us to observe, gather as much relevant information as possible, and form a conclusion based on that evidence. In the case of the debate in question, this means finding a common definition of the term “Christian” and then speaking with Mormons to determine if they do or do not fit that definition. In the method of Apologetics, one chooses a conclusion and then finds sources that support it. In this case, the predetermined conclusion was “NO!”, which the writer supported by quoting authors and ideologues that agreed with them, while also refusing to listen to any details that might disprove their preferred answer.” – Alyxander Folmer, making his feelings plain on apologetic arguments.

That’s all I have for now, please remember to support The Wild Hunt during our Fall Funding Drive so that we can continue to spotlight intriguing, provocative, and informative voices from our interconnected communities!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.walkofthefallen.com Labrys

    :::sigh::: I guess I flunked “Femininity 101″ again. My index and ring fingers are no where near the same length…my ring fingers are significantly longer. And therefore, by Dean Snow’s rating, “masculine”.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Yeah…My left hand is masculine and my right hand is feminine by this measure…

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digit_ratio
      http://fingerlengthdigitratio.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/your-finger-length-and-your-sexual-preference/

      The digit ratio is a well-observed sexually dimorphic trait, though it’s not one typically regarded, because it’s so subtle and somewhat more prone to variance than most other such traits. (Though some German studies of transsexuals noted that the digit ration for trans women is generally more comparable to cisgender women; granted, the study ignored trans men, but when I brought this up in an old TS/TG group I used to attend, it seemed that vice-versa was generally true.) You’re more likely to run into a woman (yes, even cis- women) who have a lower digit ration than you are to run into a woman who is 5’11”, and you’re far more likely to run into a cis- woman who stands 5’11” or taller than you are to run into a cis- woman with a full beard, and so on.

      It has been observed, though, that the ring and index fingers also seem dimorphic if there’s going to be a high digit ratio: Gay women (who are often referred to as “masculine”, even though I’m sure you know as well as I do, is always he case) tend to have a longer ring finger, and gay men tend to have a longer index finger. My index fingers have always been far longer than my ring fingers –on my right hand, it’s almost as long as my middle finger. Personally, though, I don;t think it is at all representative of any inherently “masculine” traits –I’m one of the more effeminate men I know.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    It’s a Pagan festival if some part of it is set aside to venerate the Old Gods, or the Goddess, or the season as a season and not the anniversary of some great man’s birth, enlightenment, death or ascension.

  • don108

    I respectfully disagree with Cat Chapin-Bishop. I do not agree “there are kinds of spiritual wisdom that cannot be had in any way other than an exchange, and an exchange between equals between peers.” In fact, I do not agree that wisdom can ever be shared. Only information can be shared; only knowledge can be shared.

    It is up to each individual to take a variety of information and determine if there is wisdom in it. A person may have a great wisdom for themselves, but when they share their wisdom it is still up to me to accept it or reject, acknowledge it as very important, of lesser importance, or not important at all.

    It is only when that shared knowledge has a positive effect on a person that it becomes wisdom. Before that, it’s just a bunch of words or ideas. Saying that there is majesty in a sunrise may be true, but it’s not wisdom to me until the knowledge of the value of observing the sunrise becomes manifest by my observing a sunrise and having a transcendent experience. Only then does the knowledge become wisdom for me. Telling me I have a spirit animal is knowledge, not wisdom. When I meet that spirit animal and it shares something that is impactful to me changes that knowledge to wisdom.

    I would respectfully suggest that if you go to any workshop seeking wisdom you will be painfully disappointed. Many workshops, however, can share knowledge that may lead us to wisdom. That is not only enlightening, it is priceless.

    • Cat C-B

      I think some of our difference may be semantic, Don. I’d agree with you that few workshops will be able to lead to sharing wisdom, and also that it is merely information and knowledge that can be directly taught by one individual to another.

      I would disagree, however, with the idea that wisdom can’t be shared at all–and I suspect you would, too. It requires active engagement all around, which is what I meant to invoke by talking about sharing between peers. I’m not thinking, though, of primarily a verbal exchange at all, but of a more spiritual and whole-person exchange. And I think most of us are familiar with the ways that good ritual aims to achieve just that! Mystery traditions try to share wisdom through engagement with ritual and magick, with direct experience of the spiritual.

      This kind of experience can happen outside of ritual, too, and I’ve been very fortunate to have had a taste of how doing spiritually engaged work–not ritual, but not friendly chit-chat, either–with other folks who are traveling the same path can lead to that sort of exchange. Having experienced it, I long for it… and I long for us all to have good access to it.

      My unhappiness isn’t with workshops, per se, but with the fact that, unlike workshops, those kinds of deep, spiritually engaged peer contacts are hard to find in the Pagan community. We’re not geared up for it… yet. I hope we will be in time.

  • Ursyl

    I’d like to see a more precise definition of that finger length thing too, though I also just realized that I was reading “ring finger” and comparing my first to the middle finger. Oops

    I do wonder how, genetic drift being what it is, it can be assumed that current genetic tendencies in that proportion would be the same as during the Paleolithic.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      We might rummage through any hand bones left by human ancestors and relatives to see how it goes. Assuming there are any; the bones of the hand are relatively small and easy to scatter post mortem. We probably have some Neandertal hand bones from their ossuaries but the trick would be to confidently assign to a hand the gender of the body it was attached to, other than by this metric.

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digit_ratio

      There is solid science to the digit ratio, and the Wikipedia article is well-sourced on that.

      Yes, it’s certainly one of the more varied sexual dimorphisms, but it’s a real thing. The science of sex, gender, and sexuality tends to be more complex than what’s taught in grammar school, and this complexity, combined with the knowledge that yes, these traits tend to be variable even within “perfectly” cisgendered populations, tends to make these facts controversial, but they’re still facts, and rather empirically so.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    It’s sad to see one of the most prominent Pagan scholars perpetuating the Christian triumphalist myth that “Pagans did not fight for their Gods.” It is a simple, well documented, and universally accepted fact that Pagans persisted in worshiping the old Gods for centuries after Paganism was outlawed.

    From the time of Justinian there is a report of hundreds of Pagan temples functioning in a coordinated fashion with one centralized head temple in one remote region of Anatolia. There is another report from the same period of an organized urban Pagan underground thriving right under Justinian’s nose in Constantinople! (See G.W. Bowersock’s “Helenism in Late Antiquity” for details).

    One contemporary Byzantine scholar, Anthony Kaldellis, has written extensively about the resistance of Pagan intellectuals in the Greek speaking East. Kaldellis has gone so far as to say that “the most cultured men of the age [5th-6th centuries] should now be considered non-Christian”. (link) Peter Brown has written similarly about the stubborn resistance to Christianization among well-educated Romans. Ramsay Macmullen has emphasized the other end of the socio-economic spectrum, arguing that slaves, women and the rural poor were just as attached to their old Gods as the intelligentsia were. Another essential scholar to read on this subject is Dorothy Watts, whose work focuses on the Pagan resurgence in Britain during the 4th and 5th centuries.

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      It’s sad to see one of the most prominent Pagan scholars perpetuating
      the Christian triumphalist myth that “Pagans did not fight for their
      Gods.” It is a simple, well documented, and universally accepted fact
      that Pagans persisted in worshiping the old Gods for centuries after
      Paganism was outlawed.

      Totally agreed.

      I guess it’s just easier to regurgitate what one was told in grammar school than to actually do some research.

      • Cat C-B

        There is a difference between continuing to hold to one’s gods and crusading on their behalf. I believe that was the point that Clifton was making.

        And the mere notion that anyone would think Clifton is too lazy to do research… let alone that the accusation comes from someone who just cited Wikipedia in support of an argument…

        Excuse me. I have to go away now. My mind is blown.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          The fact that Clifton was citing Cameron leaves no room for doubt as to his/their meaning (giving Clifton the benefit of the doubt – that is, assuming he understands what Cameron is on about).

          Alan Cameron has waged a one-man campaign for the last 50 years to convince the world that Pagans passively accepted the imposition of Christianity. That is, that Pagans not only did not take up arms to defend the old Gods, but that Pagans simply did not care one way or the other if the “old religion” continued or not.

          Cameron’s position on this is not representative of classical scholars generally, although few, if any, have taken him on directly. Ramsay MacMullen has directly refuted Cameron’s position in several of his books, but he usually does this without naming Cameron (which isn’t really necessary, because Cameron’s position is nothing new – simply a somewhat modernized redaction of a standard argument dating back to the earliest Christian apologists). Charles Hedrick, Jr, has very diplomatically deconstructed Cameron’s position in his “History and Silence”, and this makes for excellent reading if you are up for some serious classics-style “inside baseball”.

        • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          And JP-W cites Wikipedia all the time, especially if the article he’s linking to has more than sufficient sourcing for the idea behind it. I’m guessing you don’t think very highly of TWH, then?

  • TadhgMor

    “or to avoid having their heads chopped off (anyone confronted with Islamic expansionism)”

    I’m sorry, but that is both wrong and offensive. Islam in it’s expansion was no more violent than Christianity, conversion by force is explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an. That statement is not backed up by historical data, and relies on prejudiced assumptions mostly pushed by pseudo-historians and writers for hate sites.

    Further, Apuleius is right, there is far too much evidence of pagans maintaining their practices, even pushing back against Christians. Gaza for example, if anyone wants to dig through the Vita of St. Porphry,shows that pagans stuck to their practices until they were attacked by Christians.

    • Cat C-B

      Thank you! I was surprised to see such demagoguery quoted favorably at TWH.

      • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

        “quoted favorably”

        Pagan Voices isn’t me giving my personal stamp of approval, it’s about what prominent voices are saying in our community. Sometimes those voices say provocative things, and I would be remiss to simply ignore them.

        • Cat C-B

          *nods in understanding*

        • TadhgMor

          Provocative and false and bigoted are two distinct things. I’m rather sad to see such things come from a source I previously respected. Now I’m must question that somewhat.

          • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

            I didn’t say his comment was merely provocative, I was speaking in general. Would you rather I simply ignored his blog post?

          • TadhgMor

            Honestly, I’m not sure. Ethically you’re in a bind. By reprinting his blog you’ve given new life to comments that are both wrong and prejudiced. Possibly a wider audience than they ever would have before. It’s that sort of non-critical reprinting that leads to pseudo-scientific claims and prejudice gaining acceptance. Take for example how mainstream papers will quote any crazy thing a far-right Christian says without noting that what he says is problematic. By letting it stand without criticism, it can piggyback on the authority of the source reprinting it.

            On the other hand censorship is generally not something I support, and he is obviously someone of note in the community.

            But I think we should be extra sensitive to reprinting prejudiced claims considering how often that tactic has harmed all of us under the “pagan umbrella”.

          • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

            I’ve decided to split the difference. I’ve removed the phrase about Muslims, but kept the rest of the quote intact. People can click the link to his blog if they want the full quote.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            “People will change religion for a variety of reasons—to get along with a spouse’s family, to gain or to retain their social status (the Roman senatorial class), or to avoid having their heads chopped off (anyone confronted with Islamic expansionism).”

          • TadhgMor

            Are you suggesting I should have vaguely insinuated which part I found problematic, rather than quoting it so I can be fundamentally clear?

            I truly do not understand you. Your “note” here makes absolutely no sense.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            I am suggesting that you find yourself caught in one of the most common traps that ensare proponents of censorship: you cannot identify what it is that you wish to prevent other people from saying without saying it yourself.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Word!

          • TadhgMor

            That’s absolutely ridiculous.

            I’m convinced you’re not even reading my comments. First, I’m not advocating censorship. Second, I stated, clearly, that reprinting such things is fine IF you not how they are problematic. I did so. Jason decided to split the difference in what I think was a very good compromise between ethical concerns and censorship.

            Your point here is childish and ridiculous.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      To say that Islam was “no more violent than Christianity” is, well, absolutely correct, but I suspect not in the way the writer intended.

      As far as supposed Quranic prohibitions against forced conversion go, according to accepted Islamic “tradition” (“Hadith”), Muhammad’s dying words were “Two religions will not remain in the land of the Arabs.” Also according to Hadith, Muhammad proclaimed “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah.”

      Islam is a religion founded by warriors on horseback who were proud to fight against all those who opposed their new religion. Throughout most of Islamic history, Muslims have been quite open and boastful about the military successes of Islamic armies throughout North Africa, the MIddle East, Europe, India, and Southeast Asia. This was always seen by them as clear evidence of Allah’s favor. It is only very recently that (some) Muslims have attempted to alter this historical narrative to be more palatable to modern sensibilities.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        It is only very recently that (some) Muslims have attempted to alter this historical narrative to be more palatable to modern sensibilities.As it is only relatively recently that (some) Christians have given up religious war as a way of settling theological differences.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          true that. recently enough, in fact, that it is still worth keeping a very close eye on them.

      • TadhgMor

        Yes, but the Qur’an always overswears the Hadith. The prohibition on forcible conversion is quite clear.

        I fail to see how that is any different than most faiths, including ancient pagans, who would see the favor of their Gods in their victories.

        What I object to is how fashionable it has become in the West to treat Islam like it somehow outside the normal bounds of religions and worthy of special dislike, and to back up that fashion with historical lies and half-truths. It especially bothers me since this prejudice is primarily a Christian and Jewish thing(and internal battle of monotheists), so I do not understand why pagans are internalizing it.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          And actions always overswear words on paper. Ask the Jews of Medina if Islam has been spread by the sword or not.

          • TadhgMor

            Here is where the narrative gets dangerous. It’s always “Muslims hate Jews, look at Yathrib” (not that you’re necessarily making that argument, but it’s commonly used by Islamophobes, and your argument seems tangential). But doing so completely removes the agency from Arabian Jews, which is fundamentally wrong and not historically correct.

            Let’s be abundantly clear. Arabian Jews made power plays and attacked Muslims and vice versa. Suggesting that they were attacked because of Islam, rather than because of good old power politics, is both wrong and leans towards prejudice.

            In particular, the Banu Nadir were quite hostile to Muhammad and the early Muslims, and after being expelled from Yathrib continued their hostility at Khaybar. Further, the Jewish tribes of Yathrib weren’t a monolith, they warred with each other.

            I’m sorry, but your narrative here is reductive to the point of being incorrect.

        • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          I fail to see how that is any different than most faiths, including
          ancient pagans, who would see the favor of their Gods in their
          victories.

          There’s kind of a difference between a view that certain gods in a large and varied pantheon favour the victors of a war, and the view that an omnipotent “one true” deity favours a specific group of people because they worship it. I think that much would be obvious.

          • TadhgMor

            I don’t see much of one. If the neo-Babylonians attribute their successes to Marduk and blame the defeats of their enemies on their “inferior” Gods, it seems functionally quite equivalent. Seeking the favor of your Gods to triumph over the Gods of your enemies is strongly supported in a number of pagan cultures across the globe.

            I simply don’t see how there is any functional distinction.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          “I fail to see how that is any different than most faiths, including
          ancient pagans, who would see the favor of their Gods in their
          victories.”

          Can you name one single instance in all of ancient history when a conquered people were forced to convert by their Pagan conquerors? (Answer: no you cannot.)

          • TadhgMor

            Actually the whole “stealing their Gods” thing was a power play designed to show the superiority of one group/polities deity over another, so you could argue the subtext is on those lines.

            Further, the whole “worship the Gods of the state or die” thing the Romans were big on is a close corollary. The Assyrians also tended to go for that. You could keep your Gods, as long as you acknowledged you were lesser.

            Essentially, you see black and white, and I see shades of gray. Ancient people’s were brutal, regardless of their religion. You could likely say the same for modern people, though the methods of our brutality have changed.

            Further, once again, your example of Medina DOES NOT fit a forced conversation. Jews there were allowed to maintain their practices in order for tribute (the precursor to the jizya tax in later Muslim tradition).

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Further, the whole “worship the Gods of the state or die” thing the Romans were big on is a close corollary. The Assyrians also tended to go for that. You could keep your Gods, as long as you acknowledged you were lesser.

            Source on that? Cos the Romans, in particular, while expecting tax paid to the cult of the Emperor, but generally expected no more than lip service to the gods of Rome from the colonised.

          • TadhgMor

            The entire series of Christian persecutions, as well as the history of issues with Jews, and the banning of the Druids in Gaul (though they all also had issues of power politics. State religion and power politics were intertwined to the Romans).

            But the number of Christians killed, even while less than what Christians like to claim, is pretty solid evidence, combined with Roman sources, of how Romans felt about “challenging the state”. Further, the ban on Druids serves to reinforce that picture.

            To a Roman, refusing to worship in that way, even if it’s lip service (and let’s be clear that’s not necessarily a small thing. You’re making yourself inferior) was a fundamental threat to the balance of the world and the well-being of the state. They killed people for it.

            It seems facts are quickly becoming irrelevant in this, rather than a “let’s pile on the monotheists” thing. I find it very odd to be on the side arguing in favor of monotheists. But ideological bias is wrong, no matter whether I agree with it or not, and it has NO PLACE in historical analysis.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I’m getting really tired of apologists making the “persecution against Christians by Rome” a matter of religion, only. Even their Christ was quoted with “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, and many refused to — therein lay the problem.

            You’re still not sourcing your claims. I’m under no obligation to prove a negative, so the burden of proof is on you here.

          • TadhgMor

            Apologists? What the f*** am I apologizing for? At which point did I suggest it was a matter of only religion? Did you even read my comment? I explicitly note how Romans did not distinguish between the state religion and the state itself, and going against one was going against the other.

            What sources do you want? Do you know anything about the banning of Druids in Gaul and about the Christian persecutions? I’m not quoting any historians directly, I’m dealing with general narratives here. I can’t cite a primary source, and to be quite honest, considering how anti-intellectual this thread has gotten, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to do so.

            Have we really sunk so low that pagans are taking on the same stupid ideological biases that Christians have, but redirected?

            Honestly, I’ve tried to provide factual reasons for why this narrative is wrong. I mentioned agency, I mentioned the Jewish tribes of Yathrib, I mentioned historical evidence of pagans using power politics in religion. All of those I think make clear why we CANNOT think we are “different” because we’re pagans, or our ancestors were pagans. They were people. People do bad things. Sometimes they use religion to justify them, yes, including pagans no matter what broad generalizations anyone wants to make.

            This is getting absolutely ridiculous. The only thing I did was stand up against a bigoted comment about Muslims. One that is ahistoric and wrong. Gods willing they’d have the decency to do the same for me, provided they had the knowledge. But it seems I’ve exposed some prejudice in this community I did not know existed.

            I might be an a**hole to individual monotheists when they deserve it, but I don’t need to lie to myself about the morality of my ancestors or create some “mythic pagan history”.

          • Franklin Evans

            One impulse I can rarely control is correcting others when they botch word usage. “Apologist” is one who practices “apologetics”, from the Greek for “speaking in defense”. To use “apologizing” seems to include the connotation of “regret”, and that is not at all what Ruadhan is saying.

          • TadhgMor

            I’m aware of the use of the term apologist. But the phrase “what am I being an apologist for” just feels awkward. Committing apologia? I don’t know.

          • Franklin Evans

            I love English. It fits in nicely with my being a chaos mage (a label I didn’t adopt willingly). I like the phrase “committing apologia”, it seems like a fertile source for puns.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            One impulse I can rarely control is correcting others when they botch word usage.

            Then you should check out John Halstead’s “Allergic Pagan” blog on Patheos. You’ll waste more afternoons on his word usage than you would on a visit to Wikipedia and TV Tropes, combined.

          • Franklin_Evans

            No, thanks. I’ve got a too long list of my own already.

          • Franklin Evans

            The study of history, be it a survey of summarizations, remains a task which requires your investment of time and energy, not TadhgMor’s nor anyone else’s. I share TadhgMor’s annoyance at this, because (this being my personal reaction) questioning a simple statement of facts is tantamount to calling me a liar.

            Anyway, I’ve found an excellent (and pejorative-free) answer to you: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-history-of-pagan-europe-prudence-jones/1000468518

            A History of Pagan Europe, Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick. It provides their sources quite clearly, which the reader may then pursue.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            There are two kinds of facts:

            There are statements that are supported with data that may easily prove them true. This is what most people assume when one makes a statement of fact.

            Then there are statements that are simply assumed to be true, but may lack substantial data (if any) to prove them true. This is the category of “fact” that the infamous statement of “6million women killed in The Burning Times”, or the historicity of Jesus, falls under.

            Unfortunately, the nature of the latter may result in many people becoming attached to the notion that a statement is true, even though it may very well not be. Asking for data to support your “statement of facts” is not “tantamount to calling [you] a liar” –it’s asking if you are aware of any additional information that, in no uncertain terms, supports the aforementioned “statement of fact”.

          • Franklin Evans

            Thank you. That’s a refreshingly direct rebuttal. I completely agree with your examples, but would ask leave to clarify something I started to say previously.

            It becomes exceedingly frustrating to hold discussions about abstract concepts and ideas when it tends to get bogged down in “give me examples” duels. There tends to also be little to no prior agreement on the level of the discussion — are we debating the veracity of logical statements, or are we examining the veracity of events or incidents — and I will own my own jumping of the gun instead of just asking that sort of question first.

            In this specific topic, with respect, “show me” is not a prerequisite, especially when the literature is extensive and filling long posts with personally chosen citations is not really an answer. All one needs to do is say something like “well so-and-so is not a respected scholar in my traditions, so…” and no progress is made. Indeed, in my reply to Apuleius I cited the emperor Nero. If he or you were to demand sources from me, I might offer a scathing reply similar to TadhgMor, but in my own inimitable style. :D

            I’m making no assumptions about your motivations, Ruadhán. I try very hard to assume good will. Maybe I’m making an unsolicited, unconscious attempt to mediate the tensions with TadhgMor, and should just let it be.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            TadhgMor: “The entire series of Christian persecutions, as well as the history of issues with Jews, and the banning of the Druids in Gaul ….”

            Christianity flourished in Pagan Rome. This is a historical fact. Compare this to how Paganism fared in Christian Rome. How is this not obvious?? A common theme among early Christian apologists, in fact, was that their “god” actually created the (Pagan) Roman Empire as the ideal setting for the initial spread of their religion. This was not only because of the great religious tolerance of the Roman world, but also because of the peace and security that allowed Christians to travel unmolested from one end of the empire to the other spreading their “gospel”.

            TadhgMor: “But the number of Christians killed, even while less than what Christians like to claim, is pretty solid evidence ….”

            What “number” do you have in mind? The actual numbers are quite important because we must distinguish between isolated, exceptional cases, on the one hand, and a pattern of genuine “persecution” on the other hand. Even some Christian theologians (such as Candida Moss) now admit that the whole idea that Christians were persecuted is, in her word, a “myth”.

          • Franklin Evans

            May I respectfully suggest that the history of the Roman Empire was a process not given to accurate (let alone valid) generalizations?

            Official persecutions starting with Nero and continuing beyond Constantine and Licinius (targeting heretics as well as Pagans) are also well documented. The prevailing scholarship does offer important caveats, the most important of which to me was local magistrates being the drivers of it, not official edicts from Rome per se.

            There are three views of persecution in general. There’s the view of the persecuted, easily argued as subjective; the view of persecutors, as easily argued as subjective; the objective view of the historical analyst, easily argued on the weakness of the data.

            The numbers argument, I submit, falls prey to the first and second subjective viewpoints. Any objective view is limited to reporting the numbers and avoiding any value judgments, that being quickly covered by the other two.

          • TadhgMor

            There were a number of well documented persecutions. The dislike of the Roman upper classes of Christians is borne out in primary sources. They were regularly condemned for all sorts of fanciful things (orgies in particular were a fun accusation by Romans, though an odd one). As for “great tolerance”? The Romans were very tolerant as long as you submitted, in their eyes, to them. The minute you didn’t, or your faith associated with political elements in any way they didn’t like, they were no longer tolerant. You’re vastly overstating the case of Roman tolerance.

            I don’t understand your point at all. I know Christianity did well in pagan Rome. I know it spread quite well, and was able to spread much better once the coercive mechanisms of society were put behind it’s cause. Christianity did not spread by the sword, either did Islam. There were much more effective and subtle coercive methods available to them. My point is similar coercive methods were used by pagans, so we should not try and moralize this.

            I don’t have a number in mind. Most historians push back against the numbers from Christian apologists as being too high, I see no reason to disagree. But I have no read anyone claiming to have pinned down a number.

            You’re misquoting Candida Moss. She talks about THE myth that has built up around Christian persecutions and how it’s used in the ancient and modern world. She DOES NOT say that persecutions were a myth. There are well documented incidents.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Christianity did not spread by the sword…

            Not at first, no, but the data proves this generalisation patently false.

          • TadhgMor

            What data? Where?

            Again, there are more sophisticated coercive methods, and both monotheists and pagans used them. Societal pressures will win you more than you ever could by the sword.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Well, Pierre Chuvin’s Chronicle of the Last Pagans is a good place to start.

          • TadhgMor

            I’ll need to take a look at it.

            However, from a quick review, it doesn’t seem like “Christianity spread by the sword” is one of his main points. Judging from a summary I think it would support my view of more complex coercive systems.

            Still, as soon as I have time for pleasuring reading it’ll be on my list.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Essentially, you see black and white, and I see shades of gray.Your performance on the topic of appropriation refutes this.

          • TadhgMor

            Not relevant to the topic at hand, but thanks for being an a**hole.

            Also, that’s not even true. If you want to steal my holidays, change the f***ing name. Especially since your eclectic versions have nothing to do with the original. Nobody worshiped any “God or Goddess” in ancient Ireland. Period. That’s not black and white. That’s common human decency.

            If it had been naturally taken into custom, it’d be one thing. But it was purely artificial. It was an attempt by early 19th century Englishmen to play on the “noble savage” and mystery associated with ancient peoples in that movement. Most people recognize the offensiveness of the whole “noble savage” mythos now, except, apparently, people who feel so bloody important that THEY have the right to redefine centuries of usage because of their bloody feelings. Sorry I’m not that selfish.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Thanks for driving home my point.

          • TadhgMor

            Listen you ****.

            If I wanted to pick this fight I would have. Now I dropped it. You have brought it back up.

            So politely go f*** yourself you selfish arrogant fool. The fact that you’re too much of a coward to confront the dark side of your path should shame you.

          • Nick Ritter

            I think this level of trash-talking is unworthy of this forum.

          • TadhgMor

            So I’m supposed to let my holidays be stolen, bastardized, AND keep quiet even when that a**hole STARTS the issue?

            Why exactly?

          • Nick Ritter

            Keep quiet? Did I say that? No, I did not.

            I generally prefer to discuss the substance of comments instead of the tone. However, I will say this, briefly; and then, hopefully, the conversation will become more substantive.

            I have a tendency to agree with you on the issue of cultural appropriation (if you recall, I said as much when the conversation came up originally). At a certain point, however, it doesn’t matter what your point is if you are presenting it badly. If you are being flat-out insulting, you are failing at convincing others that you are correct. You are being a bad representative of your ideas.

            I have had one or two disagreements with Baruch in the past, born, no doubt, from our fundamentally different views on certain subjects. At no point, however, did these arguments devolve into boorish name-calling. Baruch, for all that we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, has always been eloquent and civil. This deserves respect. My tradition values eloquence, and despises uncouthness. I believe that the same held true of ancient Celtic cultures.

            I think there is merit in your point. I do not think you are presenting it well, nor representing yourself nor your tradition well. You’re shooting yourself in the foot by descending into name-calling.

          • TadhgMor

            I would note that I did not broach the subject at all. I tried to take the better advice provided and drop it. It’s fundamentally clear that individual will not address any substantive points I make on the topic. So I chose not to bring it up.

            However, he choose to bring it up, in order to defend someone making prejudiced statements about Muslims. Beyond the wrong of bringing it up again, he did it to defend prejudice. The amount of “pagans good, monotheists bad” in this thread is truly saddening to me, it’s a reductive, childish ideological bias. One that more than once I’ve fallen prey to, which is why I argue against it so strongly. Historical revisionism gains us nothing.

            I’ve been insulted, called a hypocrite, a Christian apologist, AND had to deal with that person’s complete and utter lack of honest debate. While I take your point, at a certain point I think the veil of decorum does more to protect them than it does to help me. I am getting criticized for tone, yet no one is criticizing them for dishonest arguing and ignoring my points entirely to focus on making insinuations about my person.

            To be honest I find it maddening that my tone seems to be the only problem(to most people), not the dishonest arguing style of others here. I might be rude and crude and prone to a temper here, but I’m at least taking people’s points and responding to them honestly and in detail. Is a person that is polite, but ignores and dishonestly twists someone’s points better than a rude one that at least engages them?

          • Franklin Evans

            TadhgMor, been there, done that, and my feet took a very long time to heal. I will assert one thing, though, and offer you no tolerance on it: what you see as a “veil of decorum” is actually called civility, and if you chuck it out the window as soon as you enter the room then you have no right to demand even the time of day.

            If you find others’ reactions to your tone maddening, may I respectfully demand that you apply a little of that implied empathy and recognize that other are maddened by your being rude, crude and prone to temper.

            Your feet are full of holes, and I suggest being surprised that people focus on your shooting new ones is something you can control, and not impose such control on others.

          • TadhgMor

            Civility and the veil of decorum are two different things. I am not opposed to civility. I AM opposed to using civility to cover up bad arguments are using it to attack an opponent rather than engaging his points.

            I would politely suggest you view my first posts. I did not start this way. I started a post, myself, taking issue with ahistorical Islamophobia in a quote. Then when challenged, I continued to provide historical evidence for why it was wrong, as well as challenging the apparent “pagans good, monnotheists bad” narrative that seems to have developed. I think my point about coercive methods is quite on par, and I do not see how it is rude.

            Yet for what I said I’ve been called a Christian apologist by Ruadhan, for no apparent reason. I’ve been called a hypocrite by Apuleius in a bit of nonsense logic (something which both Baruch and Nick have decided makes sense somehow), and had Baruch bring up a completely unrelated dispute which, again, I had the maturity to drop. I did not seek him out or make these comments. HE did.

            So all of you gather to condemn my tone, yet when I follow the civility you ask I STILL end up being treated the same way.

            Perhaps my perspective is skewed. But it seems very much like I’m getting the same treatment no matter how I act.

          • Franklin Evans

            “Not relevant to the topic at hand, but thanks for being an a**hole.”

            I’m reminded of a scene in the movie “Pleasantville”, where TV Repair Man (Don Knotts) is berating Bud (blanking on the actor’s name), and flashes an image of Bud taking an apple from his girlfriend. “There! Right there!” he shouts.

            I’ve been reading your posts as you post them and I show up to read this thread. You don’t always react that way when challenged, to be sure, and I’ll accept as a plausible assumption that Baruch was baiting you on the appropriation issue, but my been there done that claim prompts me to say: what in Hel’s name forces you to respond to that? With respect, you missed the first opportunity to use a mature approach by ignoring it from the get-go.

            Anyway, my unsolicited two cents, change accepted, is that civility is not a quid pro quo. It’s an offering, which you observe being accepted or rejected and move on to the next post.

            Passion is a vice and luxury of the young, which the old rarely hesitate to criticize out of a longing to have it back themselves. I don’t recall where I learned that one, but it seems to be a good way to end this post. No one requires you to turn yours off, but I for one would be grateful if you found a middle setting for it. YMMV.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I’ll accept as a plausible assumption that Baruch was baiting you on the appropriation issueThat would be a wrong assumption. I started what would turn into the appropriation thread in the comments with a remark on what two of the Pagan Voices had said about it. TadghMor jumped onto that, and we were off.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I don’t understand why you would even allude to the appropriation argument, like you did, unless you were baiting for it. I wouldn’t tie raw meat to the back of a boat unless I was trying to attract sharks.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            That remark has all the validity of “She shouldn’t have been wearing a skirt that short in that part of town.”

          • Franklin_Evans

            “Baiting” refers to your first response to TadhgMor on this thread, not the previous one.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Disqus is falling apart under the weight of 98 comments and counting. If you want a reply to this, you find my supposedly baiting comment and quote it back to me.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            While I agree with your substance, if TadhgMor is moderated by Jason the Pagan blogosphere will never hear the end of “censorship on The Wild Hunt.”

          • TadhgMor

            You think you are vastly more important than you are.

            It seems to be a theme.

            Remember, YOU started this. I did not. I dropped the issue.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            if TadhgMor is moderated by Jason the Pagan blogosphere will never hear the end of “censorship on The Wild Hunt.”

            I highly doubt TadhgMor is that “important” on the pagan blogosphere.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Cultural appropriation is the “dark side” of my path? Methinks that reflects a shallow acquaintance with the dark…And just to be sure I’m understood, my point is that on your pet topic you show much more of a black and white approach than “shades of gray.” An understanding of shades of gray in cultural appropriation would have elicited some discussion on my observation that cultures regularly rifle one another’s contents.

          • TadhgMor

            Natural cultures do so. If that had been the case, as I stated before in this thread, I would view it differently.

            But IT DIDN’T. It was an attempt by 19th century English and Americans to play on the “noble savage” ideas that were so popular then. I stated that, clearly. Apparently you did not read it. Are you familiar with those ideas? Do you understand how a number of pagan paths were created in that milieu, using sources that were part of that movement?

            Cultural appropriation is black and white. You appropriated, or you didn’t. What you’re suggesting as the gray is not appropriation. It’s a natural process. The problem is, historically, you DO NOT have a natural process, but a purely artificial one where a dominant group STOLE the imagery and names of marginal groups (generally Celtic, Native American. Germanic groups get into a different category because they weren’t in the same marginal power position, though the “noble savage” issue still comes into play). This stolen imagery was all about “mystery” of “forgotten cultures full of noble barbarians”.

            And yes, it’s the dark side of your path since you even refuse to acknowledge that you’ve done it. In fact, you have consistently defended it here. I find that absolutely and utterly disgusting, to defend such imperialist nonsense.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Cultural appropriation is black and white. You appropriated, or you didn’t. What you’re suggesting as the gray is not appropriation. It’s a natural process.Anything humans do, whether cultural borrowing or fixing atmospheric nitrogen thermodynamically, is a natural process. It’s the essence of political correctness to exclude in dissent one’s own culture from this fact.I find that absolutely and utterly disgusting, to defend such imperialist nonsense.This, I submit, is the unacknowledged dark side of your path, constantly referring to cultural conflicts of the past, such as British dominion over Celtic peoples, in a way that tends to re-ignite the embers of old wars. I seek a Paganism that embraces all the Paganisms of humanity; blowing on the embers presages a Paganism of warring tribes.

          • TadhgMor

            Ah, so you would deny the past because it is uncomfortable to you? That is cowardice. March blindly into the future, take no heed of the past. No wonder you are comfortable stealing the traditions of others and changing them to suit yourself. If you reject the past, then those traditions have no meaning.

            No, “anything humans do” is not natural. That’s a ridiculous statement. This has nothing to do with political correctness. A natural process would have been the slow diffusion of a holiday, say Lughnasadh, among other people’s via Irish immigrants where it may have taken on a meaning other than the original one over time. But there is absolutely no evidence for this happening. An artificial process is taking the name of the holiday and applying it to a mythology and deities that were completely unknown in the context of that holiday. Worse, doing this because it sounds “exotic”, because it associates you, the appropriator, with the “mystery” of a marginal people that most would not be familiar with culturally.

            Cultural conflicts of the past? These are not past. Imperialism isn’t dead. It’s effects are still felt all across the world. The misinformation of prejudiced scholars (not only British) STILL clouds the field of Irish and Celtic studies. Only someone truly ignorant could possibly suggest I’m reviving the issue. It’s STILL an issue.

            You can seek whatever you wish. That does not give you the right to take from others. Apparently your Paganism only allows for people like you.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            You keep making my point that you are no “shades of grey” guy on this topic.

          • TadhgMor

            Which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic here.

            I’m done with this. It is entirely clear you refuse to engage honestly with the arguments I make. I find that immoral and cowardly. I find it absolutely disgusting that a person would be so self-important, so selfish, as to think that they can redefine things and ignore history, as if they are not part of processes started before their time. It is both arrogant and childish at the same time.

            I do not see greys in cultural appropriation. Perhaps you could suggest the level and type of appropriation are greys, I might agree there. Some appropriation is less damaging than others, some is done with less malice. Nonetheless, it comes down to a simple distinction, either you are appropriating or you are not. It seems to you, the answer is quite simple. You are not, in your mind, no matter how much evidence I provide.

            You are either a supremacist, thinking your version of tradition free theft is superior, or a coward, unable to respond to the points I’ve repeatedly tried to make in depth. I do not know which. But I have no desire to sit here and take on the opprobrium of your compatriots, of which there seem to be many.

            I stood up against prejudice. I did the right thing. No matter how many of you dishonestly attack me, insinuate that I’m a Christian apologist, or insinuate that I am somehow a hypocrite, I did the right thing.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Since you managed to make a basic point without gutter language, I’ll share my thoughts:In present day Ireland, holidays that Wiccans/oids call “cross quarter” are alive and well, but as premises for a party, not religious holy days. This is their present status in Celtic culture, which is currently Catholic. Both Gardnerians/oids and Celtic Reconstructionists are rifling them when they celebrate them religiously.In my first post I gave you examples of greys: Smudging and sweat lodges, as long as there is no pretense of embeddedness in the Native culture from which they are borrowed.My own suspicion is that every feature of every culture was at one time borrowed from an earlier culture. Some of them strike me as tasteless, such as white rodeo dancers using “Indian” headgear, and some are innocuous, like American Yoga.I believe the former does social harm because it perpetuates stereotypes that occlude the actual Natives and what was done to them. You have yet to show any harm from cross-Pagan borrowing that angers you, other than making you angry. As before, anger is not an argument.

          • TadhgMor

            That’s a massive false equivalency. Wiccans have created entirely new holidays. CRs have revived traditional practices. One is artificial, the other is not. That comparison is premised on such a massive error.

            Yet isn’t taking the name Beltaine or Samhain inherently a pretense of embeddedness?

            Let me provide you an anecdote. The large number of hippy/New Age types that latched themselves onto the whole “Mayan apocalypse” thing, well some of them started going down to Mayan regions and “teaching” Mayans what their holidays actually meant. It’s infuriated historians and scholars who are watching actual Mayan traditions die due to the interference of a bunch of ignorant outsiders.

            It has not reached that level on this topic, and hopefully never will. But I am tired of being told what my holidays mean, having my heritage and the customs of my ancestors perverted by New Age fools (whose locus of contact tends to be people like you). When you spread these falsities into popular culture unable to check the veracity of them, you push and marginalize the actual traditions. It is the appropriation of people like you that leads to “Celtic runes” and the vast variety of nonsense associated with “Celts” and “Celtic” in popular culture. Doing that marginalizes ACTUAL Celtic cultures and practices. That in turn harms both them, and people like me who rely on those living cultures to help us reconstruct our ancestors practices.

            In short, you have based this on a massive false equivalence, and you are underestimating the amount of harm it can, and has, caused.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            It is entirely clear you refuse to engage honestly with the arguments I
            make. I find that immoral and cowardly. I find it absolutely disgusting
            that a person would be so self-important, so selfish, as to think that
            they can redefine things and ignore history, as if they are not part of
            processes started before their time. It is both arrogant and childish at
            the same time.

            It’s also pretty ironic, considering that Wiccanate paganism tends to be on the side of “we’re all interconnected”.

          • TadhgMor

            People do things for their own reasons. I think there is a tendency to overplay the importance of ideology in personal decisions. He wouldn’t be the first person to believe one thing and act the opposite, and that certainly includes me, just not on this issue.

            Which actually ties back into my issues with the Christianity/Islam spread by the sword idea. It’s too reductive. People respond to numerous social, ideological, and political pressures. Christians tended to use authority; it was not on accident that missionaries tried to convert kings and nobles. The upper classes usually included the priest classes, and if you could subvert the nobles support for the priest classes (or the class themselves) then you’ve eased conversion down the line. St. Patrick did it, a thousand years later Jesuits did it in New France. Islam tended rather to use wide scale coercive methods, taxes being a prominent part, to push people towards Islam and into the community. But both of them were subtle social pressures.

            You could argue pagans were different, and in methods they often were, but if you look at the adoption of Roman deities among the colonial upper classes for example, or the way Mesopotamian city states carried off each other’s idols, it was all about subtle coercive pressures. Not always for conversion, but to acknowledge supremacy (though taking on the deities of your conquerors was a good way to advance).

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            You can seek whatever you wish. That does not give you the right to take
            from others. Apparently your Paganism only allows for people like you.

            That seems to be what more and more recons/revivalists are discovering.

          • Nick Ritter

            “That seems to be what more and more recons/revivalists are discovering.”

            I’m not certain I follow your meaning, but that seems to be the kernel of an interesting point. Would you care to expand on it?

          • TadhgMor

            I’ll add to it that I’ve been warned off by other CRs from coming to sites like this. They’ve told me there is simply no way to have this discussion, many Wiccans and eclectic pagans are too emotionally attached to their practices (which is not a problem in my view) to recognize the harm done to traditional practices (which is a problem), and as such many tend to be hostile towards recons overall (notice how racism among recon groups is brought up frequently, but appropriation is considered an unacceptable topic, as is imperialism, etc).

            Ruadhan might have a different point than that, though I think on this we’re roughly on similar pages. At least in the same book.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            No, I meant pretty much what you said. Especially how sites like this are quick to point to recons and our “wacky Nazis”, especially when it hits a news site, but bringing up the (albeit well-intended) appropriation of Celtic cultures committed by Wicca and “Neo-Druidry” (which, frankly, seems to share more in common with Eclectic/Popular Wicca than with CR) is generally a taboo.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            If there’s an emotional tone to the Wiccan and related-path responses you and other CRs have received here, I suggest that many of us have had a belly full of others telling us our religion is offensive. If you get a reaction rather than a response, that’s likely why.

          • TadhgMor

            Well then perhaps you should consider trying to deal with the dark history, rather than screaming at us for daring to bring it up.

            Essentially you’re suggesting, honestly, that you are aggrieved at being told you did something wrong, and that WE, those who were wronged by you, are to blame?

            Want it to stop being a topic? Then you and your community MUST address this, and the continuing appropriation going on. So far, you refuse to.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            See, this is why my replies to you are so curt. You don’t address what I said, you simply repeat what you said earlier.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            As a recon, myself, I have never seen nor heard another recon (Hellenic, Celtic, or otherwise) state that Wicca, as a whole, was offensive. There is a considerable difference between Christians being offended at the mere existence of witchcraft religion and likening it to Satanism, and a recon explaining that the act of Wiccans appropriating certain elements of traditional polytheist religions is offensive. The former would like nothing more than to see your entire religion fail, the latter just wants you to change the name of a holiday or deity to make it clear that we’re celebrating two different holidays, and worshipping two different beings.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I explain a emotional response and you reply with logic-chopping. What’s the point of my being emotionally honest if you are going to retreat into left-brain language?

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Cultural appropriation is the “dark side” of my path? Methinks that reflects a shallow acquaintance with the dark…

            … An understanding of shades of gray in cultural appropriation would have elicited some discussion on my observation that cultures regularly rifle one another’s contents.

            I’d have to disagree.

            While there is no shortage of examples of cultures engaging and taking on things that work for them from the new culture, the topic of “cultural appropriation” is in the whole colonialism discussion, and is about members of the “conquering culture” (say, Europeans/whites in the Americas) assuming one has a right to use the cultural trappings of the conquered culture (Indigenous Americans), usually in a manner that is, at best, only vaguely related to how those items were intended by their native culture.

            Like it or not, the same rules generally apply to the Celtic Nations –these are a conquered people, and so thouroughly so, that many people cohabiting lands with them could easily believe the Celtic cultures “dead” until a relatively recent revival of interest, even with abundant evidence that these cultures are still alive. My maternal grandfather was Cornish –I don’t know how many times I’ve read or heard from others that the Cornish language was “completely dead” by some date or another, when I can tell you, even after living in the States for 45+ years, he clearly spoke of pidgin of Cornish and English in certain situations, I heard it with my own ears.

            The issue of “cultural appropriation” is less grey than you’re presenting here. I’ll assume it’s because you simply don’t understand the distinction between natural cultural drift, and the system of appropriation and its parentage in colonialism.

            No, where “cultural appropriation” issues get grey is where we’re discussing ancient cultures, and while anthropologists may feel there is sufficient evidence that, say, worship of Aphrodite migrated to the Hellenes from Semitic cultures, and while there is sufficient evidence that the Hellenes had colonies all over the Near East, the question is still kind of open on whether or not that exchange of worship was natural cultural drift or appropriation from a conqueror. (As an aside, I think most evidence suggests “natural cultural drift” on the topic of Aphrodite; Isis, on the other hand, seems more an appropriation issue.)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I never said Celtic culture was dead. I said it was presently Catholic. you simply don’t understand the distinction between natural cultural drift, and the system of appropriation and its parentage in colonialism.Given the tangled web of human history, this is a distinction I decline to engage, since it is so easily slapped as a pejorative label onto whatever irks one.Pardon me for not discussing your other points one by one but they seem to be retreads of TadhgMor made (albeit more politely) and, contrary to his claims, I did address each of them once. I don’t see the point of addressing each item when it is a rephrase of one I’ve already answered.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Yeah, my comment about people assuming Celtic cultureS were dead wasn’t about you –it was an observation that certainly applies to many people appropriating Celtic cultureS in any manner they think “feels right”.

            That said, I do believe that you betray your own ignorance of Celtic cultureS when you erroneously refer to them as both singular and Catholic. The Irish are largely Catholic, that much is true, but the Welsh are largely Protestant (I think Methodist, but I might be mistaken). My maternal grandfather was Cornish, and my paternal grandfather, Ultach –you do understand what those words mean, I hope? Then there’s the fact that the Manx do still pay a rent to Manannan in ritual, every year. My housemate’s surname is a Pictish hold-over. These are not cultures that did a complete one-eighty on their pre-Christian traditions when a few Medieval missionaries stopped over for tea. These are cultures that held onto many of their ancestral traditions, often in a thinly-veiled Christian guise for survival.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            This does not change the fact that both Gardnerian-types and CRs are borrowing from a common past.I’m not clear if you are or are not supporting TadghMor’s apparent position that Gardnerians and CRs must re-fight the British conquest of Celts because Gardner was English.

  • Franklin Evans

    I have general confusion — as in I observe this ubiquitously and don’t understand the passion behind it — over a website whose explicit mandate and mission is to inform being advised to edit or otherwise modify a direct source when its information is precisely relevant to the story or idea being presented.

    This goes beyond political correctness and censorship, and sits squarely on something I (and others I’ve encountered) routinely criticize Christians for: The notion that encountering an idea at odds with a groups’s dogma, identity, doctrine, etc. must not be mentioned because it puts fellow believers at risk.

    Our world is rife with lies, ignorance and outlandish claims about us. They get repeated constantly so much that mentions in a forum like this are a molecule of a drop of water in a world-covering ocean.

    Jason has demonstrated with 100% consistency that he is advocating for us as well as keeping us informed. The mere suggestion — even absent his disclaimer about quoted material — that the appearance of information here is a promotion of it is something I would find reason to be enraged about.

    If I were to point to one bit of wisdom by which I can live my life, I would immediately and happily quote my mother: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that cannot be examined in the broad light of day. The more painful the examination, the more valuable its lessons can be.

    I also learned courtesy from my mother, and it comes down to a simple idea: Offer respect to others until they prove to me they are not deserving of it. My ego is as strong as anyone’s, I have my hot buttons and knee-jerk reactions, but I also believe that one of the battles I should almost never pick is fighting a person’s attitudes and biases in the moment. It takes a lifetime to acquire and embed them in the psyche. I don’t like it any more than anyone else might, but it also can take several lifetimes to effectively change them.

    TadhgMor, that’s not even an implied comment on your posts. I sometimes fail to see you showing respect to others, but I try hard to take what you write at face value. My only objection, if one could call it that, is that your passion tends to obscure your erudition rather than emphasize it. I don’t know you personally, so use a large grain of salt, but it just seems to me that while you make excellent points you also shoot yourself in the foot. Shrug.