Pagan Community Notes: New Alexandrian Library, Llewellyn, Florida Pagan Gathering, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 18, 2013 — 52 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

The New Alexandrian Library Rises

The New Alexandrian Library

The New Alexandrian Library, a project of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel which hopes to create an institution that will become “one of the cornerstones of a new magickal renaissance,” has launched a new short crowd-funding initiative to continue the ongoing construction on the future physical space in Delaware. Quote: “The exterior of the building is almost done and interior work is proceeding. lf we can keep things going at the pace we are moving we could potentially use the early Spring months of 2014 to actually start setting up the shelves and moving in. We need a total of an additional $60,000 in the next 6 months, But right now, we are asking for immediate funds of $15,000 for the next push forwards.“ I think a video from 2012, at the groundbreaking of the library, does a good job of explaining the importance of building infrastructure projects like the NAL. So if libraries run by Pagan and esoteric interests is something you value, be sure to visit their IndieGoGo page and add your support. In the words of the campaign: “The NAL will be one of the cornerstones (of many created by various groups across the globe we hope!) of a new magickal renaissance. The benefits of this growing network for future generations will be incalculable.” For all of my coverage of the New Alexandrian Library, click here.

camplalanadaPNC-Florida has coverage of the recently held Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain 2013, which featured special guests Amber K, Azrael Arynn K, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Stephanie Woodfield, Rev. Kirk S. Thomas, Grey Ghosthawk and Gypsey Teague. Quote: Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain 2013 was held November 6th through  November 10th at its beautiful new home at Camp La Llanada in Lake Wales, Florida. The organizers of FPG, Temple of Earth Gathering Inc., had chosen this location to host Beltaine 2014 but quickly pushed forward with the move due to the government shutdown’s effect on the former location at Ocala National Forest. Guests and staff of the event were so pleased and grateful for the hard work of the board of directors of Temple of Earth Gathering for making the transition so swift and smooth. One long time guest of The Gathering, the venerable Lady Solar Bear, remarked on how good it felt to be in a place where children came to learn about their heritage.” While I’m on the subject of PNC-Florida, check out their recent stories, which includes an update on Pagan clergy attending an interfaith child hunger summit.

372854_57526231713_1400552470_nTwo Llewellyn Worldwide titles have won awards, and two more were finalists, in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, a contest sponsored by USABookNews.com. Quote: “The 2013 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA Best Book Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.” The winners were Discovering the Medium Within, by Anysia Kiel (in the New Age: Non-Fiction category), and Great Sex Made Simple, by Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson (in the Self-Help: Relationships category). The finalists were The Magick of Flowers, by Tess Whitehurst (in the New Age: Non-Fiction category) and Living a Life of Gratitude, by Sara Wiseman (in the Self-Help: Motivational category). Congratulations to Llewellyn and the authors!

In Other Pagan Community News:

Patrick McCollum in India

Patrick McCollum in India

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Conor O’Bryan Warren

    Wow! Thanks for sharing the newsletter Jason!

    In case anyone is curious we [Hellenion] publish the newsletter on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every month. Our next issue will be out December 6th.

  • WAH

    Re: interfaith articles. Stop including Heathenism (sic) in articles where you aren’t saying anything representative of Heathens.

    • thelettuceman

      Where was Heathenism mentioned here?

      • WAH

        The first interfaith article linked to.

    • Wyrd Wiles

      The article was going over a broad range of Pagan traditions, in an attempt to represent the community as a whole. Just because we Heathens didn’t get their own little paragraph, doesn’t mean we weren’t included in the conversation.

      If nothing else, you could appreciate the Hard Polytheist bent of the article, which is fairly indicative of Heathenry.

      • Northern_Light_27

        There’s a hard polytheist bent to that article? Are we reading the same one (The Rudiments of Neopagan Spiritual Practice)?

        I saw a long paragraph on how we all agree on an underlying Oneness, even if we don’t *talk* about “the One”. It may not have been intended but it reads as if the separation is one of language and not one of worldview. If that’s a hard polytheist bent, I’ll eat my shoes.

        • Wyrd Wiles

          Fair point. *Missed that on the first go around*
          I was referring to the (still somewhat odd)
          “Gods and Goddesses in Person” bit, which did seem to make a point of addressing the gods as individuals.

          Upon re-reading it though, I concede the point. You’re right.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Any statement about Paganism that incorporates the idea the “we all agree” is just wrong, anyway. ;)

          Let’s face it, people don’t even agree on whether Heathenry is part of Paganism.

          • WAH

            Very true. Also, Heathenry just isn’t, *as a whole*, a part of Paganism. That’s just reality. People can disagree with reality all they want, that’s their business.

      • WAH

        It didn’t go over a broad range of Paganism at all. It went over a particular view that is shared by some Pagan religions. There is nothing wrong with that, I’m just saying present it as such. Don’t bring Heathenry up in one sentence if the article isn’t going to represent us properly. And that’s aside from the fact that a good proportion of the Heathen community doesn’t consider themselves Pagan in the first place and we don’t want Pagans presuming to represent us. It’s not that hard, just quit name-dropping us only to pad your numbers or fill a diversity quota.

      • WAH

        Also hard polytheism isn’t anymore indicitave of Heathenry than casting runes is or liking Odin is.

        • Wyrd Wiles

          It does tend to be a common trait in the community. I didn’t say it was universally accepted, I said it was indicative. The MAJORITY of people whom I have met, who refer to themselves as Heathen, tend to be Hard Polytheist. That’s all I meant.

          • WAH

            That wasn’t my point. My point was that many Slavic reconcs, Celtic recons, Hellenists, and Cultores are “hard polytheists” as well, just like there are non-Heathen who cast runes and like Odin. Therefore it isn’t particularly unique to Heathenry. I was also going to point out that the article doesn’t really have a hard polytheist slant, but I see you’ve already had that discussion elsewhere.

            Regardles, it comes down to this: Pagans shouldn’t seek to represent religions or communities who don’t want them to.

          • Wyrd Wiles

            What about those who identify with those groups who WANT to be part of the Pagan Umbrella?

          • WAH

            They should be identified as Pagan in those circumstances. The decision of a portion of Heathens to do so shouldn’t require the rest of us to be dragged along.

          • Northern_Light_27

            I think it’s less about whether or not they want to be part of the Pagan Umbrella and more a simpler thing: When talking to people outside your religious category, stick when all humanly possible to talking about what you do and avoid when possible talking about what other religions do*. I see more people getting in trouble because they wandered off the explanation of their religion and onto that of another as a way to distinguish theirs. I think most of us have had occasion to get irritated at atheists talking about the deleterious effects of religion where “religion” is a) limited to Christianity and b) limited to the very specific segment of Christianity where they grew up. They’re using “religion” to seem broad-minded or because they want their critique to seem broader-based and don’t see how blindingly obvious their lack of knowledge is to anyone outside that narrow range. I think Pagans forget how easy it is for us to become that person, especially w/r/t other Pagan religions.

            *People with a lot of specialized knowledge can break this rule and not make a hash of it. IMO more people think they fit into this category than truly do fit into it.

          • Wyrd Wiles

            “When talking to people outside your religious category, stick when all
            humanly possible to talking about what you do and avoid when possible
            talking about what other religions do”
            That is FANTASTIC advice.
            It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re trying to explain religious concepts to somebody outside of your own belief system. The easiest way to convey the point is to draw parallels to something they would understand, but in so doing the conversations often becomes more wrapped up in aspects of THEIR religion rather than the point you were originally trying to make.

          • Northern_Light_27

            “but in so doing the conversations often becomes more wrapped up in
            aspects of THEIR religion rather than the point you were originally
            trying to make”

            ^That.
            Pagan: Well, unlike when Christians do X, when Pagans do X, we mean Y.
            Christian: Oh wow, we don’t do X in my church! And when we do something X-like, we mean Z. Where is it so common to do X?
            Pagan: Huh. I thought that was a lot more of a thing. Okay, well, it’s like with your B, we…
            Christian: That’s a really odd reading of B. I was taught to read that quote as….

            And there goes the conversation. It seems harder not to do this, but I find it really useful. I’d rather have *them* bring up the parallel, and then ask them to explain it to me as best they can (I’ve never been Christian, I often don’t catch their references or understand some of their core concepts). Then I can say “well, I see a similarity with this bit, but this other bit is completely different because…”

            Then you’re more likely to be speaking from knowledge, less likely to cause random unintended misunderstandings, and both of you have to work to wrap your head around the other’s very actually different worldview instead of taking refuge in surface similarities– which to me is a more fruitful conversation.

          • WAH

            (Don’t think my reply went through, so I hace to retype it. Ugh.)

            That wasn’t my point. My point was that there are many Slavic recons, Hellenists, etc. who are also hard polytheists. Just like there are non-Heathens who cast runes and like Odin. Therefore it isn’t representative of Heathenry in *particular*. I was also going to point out that the article didn’t even have a hard polytheist slant, but I see you already had the discussion.

            Regardless, for me it comes to one simple point: Pagans shouldn’t seek to represent religions and communities who don’t want them to.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Non Heathens casting runes is appropriation. Discuss.

            (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

          • WAH

            I tend to agree, but whether it’s appropriation or not doesn’t change the reality that people still do it.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I wasn’t after a genuine response. It was just a cheap shot for S&G.

          • WAH

            Roger. ;-)

          • TadhgMor

            Want some real fun? I’ve seen people discussing “Celtic runes” before. They weren’t using Ogham.

            It’s not enough to appropriate, they need to misattribute it as well. Just, ugh.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            There’s a Runic Tarot out there. I think that may well use ‘Celtic Runes’.

          • TadhgMor

            Really? Runic Tarot. I admire the ingenuity at least.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Yup, found a page about it:

            http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/runic/

            Pretty sickening, to be honest, but the hippies will buy anything.

          • Wyrd Wiles

            *ducks for cover*

    • Northern_Light_27

      Read it and winced all the way through. This trend of “look at our diversity! We have Wiccans and ATR practitioners and CMs and Reconstructionists! (followed by 1000 words of completely Wiccanesque stuff)” is really annoying and makes me feel that the wider community has gotten the Pagan =/= only Wiccan message only on the surface but underneath still thinks we’re all doing the same things and espousing the same worldview.

      From the article: “So, prayer in an interfaith context is something we do all the time within
      the context of the Neopaganism and the other Earth Religions, but is
      something very different when we try to cross the bridge to celebrate
      the Spirit with our Abrahamic brothers and sisters.”

      We may do it all the time, but it’s clear from the three “key” things that we don’t all speak the same language. Magic and religion are one and magic is integral to all our practices? Absolutely not.

      All of this about personal relationships with the gods, seeing the gods as self and lover, focusing mainly on the gods is just… alien… to many Heathens. As someone recently said “if you’re feeling a tap on the shoulder, it’s much more likely to be your grandfather than the Allfather”. Where is the ancestor worship? Where is the reciprocal gifting and offering-making? Where is the nature spirit veneration?

      • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

        Very much agreed…to respond to everything that I found inaccurate in that article, at least for my own traditions, would take an article in itself. (Starting with the fact that, “Yes, Raven, we do pray in ways that would be recognized as such by other religions!”)
        It does bother me that Frew is claiming to represent a wide variety of Pagan traditions, but pretty much just ignores most of them that aren’t a very monistic form of Wicca.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I think it is way past time for people to realise that there no longer is any one Paganism.

        We now have Paganisms. We have so, so many different, completely distinct religions that interfaith is just as valid between the different religions included/coerced under the ‘Pagan umbrella’ than between those outside of it.

        Look at a few of the more well known ‘branches’ of Paganism. They are umbrellas of their own, now.

        • thelettuceman

          I’ve been using the term “Paganisms” in my writings for the better part of a year or two now. I would definitely like to see it be common place.

          I’m also all for actively trying to define a standard which to judge what a “Paganism” is, but people seem resistant to any form of that.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I absolutely loathe both the old fashioned definition of “anything that is not Abrahamic” and the modern “it’s whatever you want it to be”.

            For any word to be useful, it has to have a readily understandable definition, preferably one in common usage.

          • Wyrd Wiles

            I wrote an article on this topic recently. I think the issue is that society expects us to have a unified religious definition because that’s what it has come to expect from Christianity. I HATE that perfectly innocent little question: “What do Pagans believe?”. It’s impossible to answer without writing a book. Possibly multiple books.

            I think, in searching for a definition, we’re tackling the question the wrong way. When somebody asks me that question, I try to make a point of going over some of the things that Pagans DO, rather than what we believe. I’ll tell them about Cherry Hill Seminary, The Open Halls Project, or I’ll tell them about various “Pagan” non-profit organizations. I think that says a lot more about who we are than trying to explain the dozens of different belief systems that fit under the Pagan umbrella.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            But, when broken down and aimed at specific ‘branches’, the question is a lot more reasonable.

            Heathens acknowledge Germanic (and Celtic) gods.
            Hellenists acknowledge the classical Greek gods.

            There is nothing wrong with a faith-centric definition.

          • WAH

            Heathens “acknowledge” Germanic gods within Germanic cultural contexts. It’s more than just worship of the gods in any fashion whatsoever. Norse Wicca for instance, while a perfectly valid path, isn’t Heathen. I think this is one of the problems over the past few years, the term “Heathen” being applied to anything with Germanic gods or Norse flavored, when as originally adopted the term was intended to be a bit more narrow.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            A few decades ago, the term ‘Wicca’ was more narrow, too.

            I over simplified, I accept this, but it is the easiest way to explain to someone who is not a Heathen or Pagan, since society has a Christonormative view of religion.

            The idea is to use a simple sentence that anyone can understand and ask more about, if interested.

          • WAH

            If someone asks me that quesiton, I tell them to ask a Pagan. :-P

          • Northern_Light_27

            I like answering that question with “which ones?” It usually provokes “well, I don’t know… how many are there?” I like where that conversation goes a lot better than the one where I pretend there’s an actual answer to that question.

          • Wyrd Wiles

            I recently read a Hinduism 101 article that addressed the same issue. Hinduism is also decentralized, and as such there is no set definition for who is/isn’t a Hindu. The article basically said that the standard answer to the question is: anybody who believes themselves to be Hindu.

            He goes on to make the point that there might be other Hindu people who disagree with you, and might say that you don’t count, but there’s likely just as many who would say you do. So the Hindu solution seem to be to reject any blanket statement on the issue, and take it on a case by case basis as needed. From the few I’ve talked to personally, the question seems to be commonly rejected as a moot point.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            But we can still fairly safely talk about Hindu mythology. Most people will recognise Ganesha or Kali, plenty will know of Rama and Sita.

            Regardless of how people approach the myths, those myths are still identifiably Hindu.

            If we reduce things to their most basic, we still categorise religions by the mythological stories they tell. Regardless of how a person approaches ritual, that ritual is defined by the story it tells.

  • Don Frew

    I value and agree with many of the comments and objections raised about my article in The Interfaith Observer. When I started doing interfaith work in 1985, there was hardly anyone else doing it. A VERY small number of people – almost entirely Witches – were forced by default to represent ALL of the modern “Earth Religions”. The more the community has grown, the more diverse it has become, such that even what was once the most inclusive word – Paganism – is rejected by many. While there are now more people doing interfaith work, the vast majority are still Witches, so yes, the views epressed are more likley to reflect Wiccan religious views than those of other traditions. Even so, just try to represent the diversity of modern Witchcraft in 1200 words for an audience that knows next to nothing about any paths non-Abrahamic! (…let alone trying to include the various forms of Druids, Heathens – the Pagan kind and the non-Pagan kind – all in an article a page and a half long.) All of us doing interfaith work are trying our best to represent our diversity. Many outside the field may not realize that modern interfaith work ASSUMES that people are speaking their own truth about their own understanidng and practice of their own path. No one is assumed to be speaking in any official way for any group or religion unless this is specifically stated. Since 1993, interfaith work has been about personal relationships rather than official representatives. We speak together as friends rather than diplomats.

    The simple answer to many of the criticisms raised is: If you don’t like it, do it yourself. Where are the Druid, Heathen, and Recon representatives in interfaith work? Few and far between. If you don’t like the articles, submit your own! The whole goal of interfaith work is to bring ALL religious traditions together to discuss our similarities AND our differences, and to find enough common ground to work together for the betterment of humanity and the planet. Don’t just complain, join us and work together to make our deeply held views of a better world a reality.

    Blessed Be,
    Don Frew

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Is it really that hard for a Witch/Wiccan to simply say “I do not represent those people”? Were they asked to?

      As to ‘deeply held views of a better world’… I am willing to lay odds that those views are wildly divergent between traditions, let alone individuals.

      • WAH

        Agreed, which is one of the problems with the interfaith movement. They tend toward homogenization. It’s why “play-nice monism” is typically their de facto theology. I don’t want to ignore my differences with other religions. I don’t want to put aside my perfectly valid criticism of Christianity’s dominant role in society.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Until a few years ago, the largest pan-Pagan organisation in the UK – The Pagan Federation – had part of the Wiccan Rede in its charter/rules (the “an it harm none” bit). Essentially saying that anyone who wanted to be a member had to play by the rules of Wicca.

          Considering that it claimed to represent Pagans of all flavours (it includes Heathenry as part of its remit), that seems a little… off, to me.

          • WAH

            That’s a perfect illustration of the problem. The Pagan Federation isn’t the only organization to do this exact thing, it’s been rather common for a long while.

        • Northern_Light_27

          This so much! If all that people from other religions (especially, ESPECIALLY Christianity) walk away from a conversation with me thinking is “wow, we’re actually different!”, I’ve done my job. We’re not the same. We’re not all taking different roads to the same mountain, we may well be taking different roads to different mountains for completely different reasons– and yet we all have to work in community together. That is not accomplished by my eliding where we differ and pretending to be you with a different surface gloss, because then you’ll ever assume that what works for you works for everyone who is not-you, and everyone who is not-you will find it that much harder to explain that this is, in fact, not the case at all.

          Mr. Frew tells me that if I complain about his article, the only solution is to do his job myself. He really doesn’t *want* me doing his job, because while I see the point of finding similarities to lessen the sense that people with different religions are The Other, respectfully I don’t see that as my job. Maybe it’s his job. My job is the one that says “we’re different. Maybe I’m your Other. But we’re both human and we have to learn to live with those differences because the world can’t afford us to fail to do so, nor to fail to acknowledge that they actually exist because the world needs a multiplicity of worldviews and moreover, the world already *has* a multiplicity of worldviews.” I’m not here to make the case that non-Christians have something to offer the world, I’m here to make the case that we’re *in* the world, and it’s a shared world.

          I don’t think his job is valueless, I simply don’t think it’s mine.

    • WAH

      I understand, and my intention was not to knock you. The article itself is a good article. My only exception is that I don’t see any reason to have included Heathenry in the first paragraph, as the article clearly doesn’t seek to explain anything about Heathenry, its dynamic, or its relation to the Pagan community. Why bring up a topic you aren’t writing about?

      It may be hard to empathize because it seems minor to folks who don’t have to deal with the consequences, but this habit of Pagans off-handedly misrepresenting us has real-world consequences for our community. Not anything particularly dramatic, but it does get pretty bothersome to have to do double-duty and not only explain your religion to outsiders but also have to explain that your religion isn’t the one they’ve ssumed it is, and why; all while trying not to misrepresent Wicca and Paganism in turn.

      In addition, it gives new people the wrong idea. They come to us assuming that our community has the same culture, style of communication, beliefs, and practices as can be found among Pagans, with one of two results: 1.) Old-timers disabuse them of this notion, typically offending their Pagan sensibilities and sending them back to the Pagan community with stories of the mean-old-Heathens or 2.) We let them slide and they make no effort to actually understand Heathenry, eventually leading to older Heathens no longer feeling at home in their own community, as more and more people with this faulty understanding of “Heathenism” flood in. I feel we have a right to our own identity and community, and when a social dynamic causes us problems in that regard, we should be able to voice that criticism.

      As to the interfaith movement, the reason you don’t see more Heathens taking part in it is because many of us don’t value the movement in and of itself. It’s like when people tell eachother to vote in new politicians. My problem isn’t with who’s in power, it’s with the power structure itself. Likewise, my problem isn’t with lack of representation in the interfaith movement, it’s that I see no point in it in the first place. In my mind interfaith should be pretty simple: Person A and Person B come to the agreement that they won’t harrass or impede eachother’s religious practice. They can also answer questions about their religion that the other person has, if they’d like. The end. That’s it. I provide this sort of “interfaith” in my life all the time and it doesn’t require a bunch of meetings, organizations, conferences, and other rigamaroll.

      On a personal note, I’d like to thank you for taking the criticisms here seriously and taking the time to respond to them and engage with us. I respect that. Sometimes with all the negativity on the internet valid critical conversations can be sidestepped or ignore, so I just wanted to let you know that none of this is accompanied with any personal negativity toward you.

      • Don Frew

        I’m in an airport on the way to a meeting of tribal representatives in Mexico where I probably won’t have connection, so I want to respond while I can.
        First, thanks everyone for the (mostly) respectful engagement.
        Second, re: telling folks I’m not a Heathen and don’t represent their views… please reread my comments above about how modern interfaith assumes everyone is speeking only for themselves.
        Third, I think there are some serious misunderstandings about what “interfaith work” is. I’m not talking about showing up when someone wants a Pagan or Heathen on a panel and giving a short spiel about who we are. That’s just the start. I’m taking about recognizing that people who live with an understanding that there is a spiritual component to the world can come together in spite of our recognised differences to work to improve the world for others. In my case, very specifically, I can meet, work with, and assist people around the world who live a vibrant indigenous “pagan” spirituality that is often in danger of extinction. Where else can Aborigines, Shinto practitioners, American indigenous people, African traditional spirituality & Afro-diasporics, Witches, Hindus, yes Heathens, and more come together to share, learn from each other, provide tangible help to each other’s communities, and show the world that WE have something to offer THEM?
        Fourth and BTW, I majored in Anthropology and Religious Studies at UC Berkeley. I have been studying the world’s ancient “pagan” religions since 1978. I have been interacting with the world’s living “pagan” religions since 1985. The reason you see so much “polytheistic panentheistic monism” among “Pagans” in interfaith is because that is how at least 90% of humanity’s past and current “pagan” religions have seen and do see the spiritual world. That’s going to create a bias in the writing, I agree. (And that’s going to start a s***storm.)
        Fifth and last, I understand that some Heathens are annoyed that they have to explain that they are not Witches. That would annoy me too. The Witches just had to explain that we weren’t child- murdering Devil-worshippers. Every new, marginal religious community has to go through differentiating itself from what has gone before and is better-known. I promise that I explain differences between Witches and Heathens to the best of my ability quite often. The conversation here has helped with that. Thank you.
        Blessed Be,
        Don Frew

        • WAH

          “please reread my comments above about how modern interfaith assumes everyone is speeking only for themselves.”

          Ok, sure, but then aren’t they going to assume that by including Heathenry in your breakdown of the Pagan community that this is you “speaking for yourself”? I’m good with the concept of everyone assuming that we’re speaking for ourselves, but it’s hard to consider that the case when you’re including Heathenry within said speech. Am I making sense? I feel like that sentence is a bit odd.

          “I’m taking about recognizing that people who live with an understanding
          that there is a spiritual component to the world can come together in
          spite of our recognised differences to work to improve the world for
          others.”

          I can do the same thing with people who don’t recognize that spiritual component. This can be done without incorporating into interfaith groups. I just call them groups of people who want to help others. But maybe that’s just semantics. I have no problem with people coming together to do positive work for their communities, I just don’t get the assumption that it has to be done in the context of “interfaith.”

          “show the world that WE have something to offer THEM?”

          I’ve never really understood this. I don’t really see offering something to the rest of the world as particularly important to my religion. Heathenry for me isn’t about saving the world, it isn’t a universal creed that needs to engage with everyone on earth. It’s a particular group of religions for a particular group of peoples (and no I’m not talking about race here), intended to enrich the lives of said people. Maybe my viewpoint is colored by the Heathen concept of “innangard/utangard,” but working with others to improve the world isn’t really a religious imperative for me. Not to say that I’m against it, just that the motivation for doing so isn’t specifically found in my religion. My religion focuses more on working to benefit family and tribe first and foremost. Then if one’s family and people are taken care of first, it is honorable to try and help others as you can. But I help those others as a person who happens to be Heathen, not solely as a Heathen.

          “The reason you see so much ‘polytheistic panentheistic monism’ among ‘Pagans’ in interfaith is because that is how at least 90% of humanity’s past and current ‘pagan’ religions have seen and do see the spiritual world.”

          Pretty bold statement. I agree that academics tend to see it that way, I disagree that that’s necessarily factual. Academics have a tendency to categorize things about cultures they don’t belong to in ways that those cultures themselves would not do. Take “polytheism” and “animism.” The terms are entirely meaningless to actual poly/animist cultures, as pretty much every culture on earth tends to be both what would be considered “polytheist” and “animist.” In reality, white European academics described their own “advanced” ancestors as polytheistic and other “primitive” peoples as animistic.

          Same thing with monism. Ask a Sioux if Wakan Tanka is “monism” and I’d wager that you’d get a variety of answers, some of which would match your pre-concieved ideas and some of which wouldn’t. Various cultures spiritual beliefs are a bit more complicated or nuanced to say anything like “90% of cultures are monistic/polytheistic/animistic/pantheistic/etc.”

          Also, I think Empedocles, Aristotle, Zeno, Leucippus, and Democritus would take exception to being considered “monists,” seeing as they were all philosophical pluralists or dualists. And those are just examples from one culture.

          “Every new, marginal religious community has to go through differentiating itself from what has gone before and is better-known.”

          Yes, and every new ethnic group in America has had to deal with discrimination. The reality of that discrimination doesn’t make discrimination right, nor does it make it something we shouldn’t say something against.

          Now in our case we’re not talking about discrimination, but the concept is the same. “Everyone has to do it” isn’t really an argument against folks like me trying to do that exact kind of differentiation. I appreciate that you differentiate between Heathenry and Paganism when it comes up, I’m just pointing out one more instance or way that you can help further: by not bringing up Heathenry in an article that is actively going to counter such differentiation.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          “indigenous “pagan” spirituality”
          It is the difference between “big P” and “little P”, really.

          The “little P” paganism is a pretty offensive term to use, even academically. After all, it creates a false dichotomy, doesn’t it? World religion is divided into two broad categories: “Abrahamic religion” and “pagan spirituality”. There is no real reason for the divide, is there?

          The “big P” Paganism is where things get really muddy. As is frequently shown on this very site, what it means is very nebulous. What comes under the umbrella and what does not varies from person to person.

          This, if nothing else, must make interfaith agonisingly difficult.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        “My problem isn’t with who’s in power, it’s with the power structure itself.”
        This. Lots.