Pagan Voices: Starhawk, Sharon Knight, Ivo Dominguez Jr., and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 25, 2013 — 103 Comments

Pagan Voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Starhawk at Occupy Santa Cruz. Photo by Matt Fitt, Santa Cruz IMC.

Starhawk

“Permaculture, spirit, and activism – three very potent tools to regenerate our world […] I started Earth Activist Training because I wanted a program that could combine them all.  Permaculture is a holistic ecological design system that includes powerful tools that can help us heal damaged land, rebuild communities, and create truly sustainable abundance.  We teach it with a grounding in spirit—personal regeneration–and a focus on organizing and activism.  In our permaculture design course, students learn how to heal damaged soil, grow food organically, bioremediate toxins, harvest water and re-use graywater, build low-cost, low-carbon housing, and so many other skills.  And most of all, they learn how all the aspects of sustainability can fit together so that we can meet our human needs while caring for the natural systems around us. Permaculture offers solutions to some of our most grave ecological problems. The communities that most need these tools are those who are on the front lines of environmental and social struggles – our depressed inner cities, indigenous reserves where jobs and resources are scarce, desertifying drylands and war-torn lands in the developing world.  To share this knowledge, we need to train people who come from those communities.  They are the best ambassadors and most effective teachers!” – Starhawk, introducing her new IndieGoGo campaign to fund diversity scholarships for Earth Activist Trainings.

Sharon Knight

Sharon Knight

“Feri was my first introduction to magic, and I experienced first hand how powerful it can be to open to magical realms. From what I understand, not all traditions deal with the pure electric currents of magic, some are more liturgical. But in Feri, it is desirable to awaken what we call the Feri fire, a subtle electricity akin to kundalini, and which, when ignited, enhances perception greatly. You could say to ignite the Feri fire is to awaken the Ichor – the blood of the Gods – in our own blood, thus greatly enhancing our ability to touch and taste the realms of the Gods. Rituals that don’t open these gates feel flat to me. So, I have this precedent that I strive for as a musician as well. I want to kindle these fires in others with music, to stir and awaken an experience of magic in the listeners. It is every musician’s ideal to be able to captivate their audience and hold them in thrall, and my Feri training has definitely given me tools which enhance my ability to do this.” – Sharon Knight, on how Feri has influenced her career as a musician, in an interview with John Beckett.

Seb the Shaman

Seb the Shaman

“Be stubborn, don’t expect the universe to explode with happiness and gifts when you start on a professional spiritual path. Make a budget. Make sure you are still giving to your community, and sit down and figure out WHY you want to be a professional with a spiritual practice. If you cannot face the fact that it is a partly selfish endeavor then get out of the running. Be practical. Realize that sleep, making buckets of money, and being able to do what you want to when you want too – these should be on the list of things you are willing to sacrifice for a while. Give yourself five to ten years to get going. And ultimately, be proud to take the hard road. Humility is overrated, but don’t be an asshole as the pagan community usually does a good job keeping assholes in check and word spreads fast. Remember that you are in service to the people who pay you for your time, energy, objects, or whatever it may be. Do not over service people, and don’t take any bullshit. Do not complain about what you choose. And always do your taxes.” – Seb the Shaman, a participant in the Pagan Bundle project, on advice for those who want to make a living doing spiritual work.

Ivo Dominguez Jr.

Ivo Dominguez Jr.

“I read a lot of blogs, go to a lot of conferences and festivals, teach a lot of workshops, and have lively discussions with friends related to all things Pagan and Magickal. Although I can say that ease of access to ideas through the internet, bookstores, and Pagan and Magickal events has increased awareness of many social issues, ideologies, religious and theological perspectives, and the vast amount of minutia related Pagan culture and fads, there is an increasing percentage of the Pagan community that is magickally illiterate and innumerate.  I’m not saying that people are less serious, less devoted, or less committed to their path. Nor am I saying that the level of discourse has dropped, in fact in many ways it is much more sophisticated in exploring the development of Pagan culture. What I have noticed is that the technical end of things, magick theory, sacred sciences, and the like, are less well known. I’ve also noticed a trend towards focusing more exclusively on the lore and mythology of a specific people or a specific time at the expense of a generalized understanding of how magickal paths manifest in a variety of cultures and communities.” – Ivo Dominguez Jr., on magickal literacy, and the lack thereof, in today’s Pagan community.

Melissa Harrington

Melissa Harrington

“Davidsen’s critique of Pagan Studies is of a nascent field that has been evident since the late 1980s. Thus it has necessarily been going through a period of demarcation and description, which Davidsen criticises as a loyalist attempt at defining a “pure” Paganism. He also criticises the fact that a greater proportion of work so far has been done by “insider” researchers. In an economic climate where many academic jobs are being cut, with no faculty, department or undergraduate degree in Pagan Studies, it would seem obvious that only those with a deep personal interest would risk devoting time and funds to such studies. But that goes for any field of interest or employment and is not unique to Paganism. Nor does this preclude non Pagans from studying Paganism; it is a very varied area with much scope for development. Scholars of Paganism welcome input from any area of the academy, including from the critical study of religion, to work on developing understanding of religion in all its aspects and manifestations via Pagan Studies, and in increasing knowledge of Paganism itself. However “What is wrong with Pagan Studies?” launches an attack on scholars rather than scholarship. Davidsen uses the foundation built by Michael York and Graham Harvey to dismiss the vantage from which he speaks in few critical sentences. He declares scholars of Paganism en masse to be emic religionists who need to be educated in critical theory, sheltering a cohort of essentialists who are consciously misusing academia as part of a clandestine intra-Pagan power struggle.” – Melissa Harrington, responding to a critique of Pagan Studies by Markus Davidsen (you can read the critique here).

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

Sam Webster

“There is much that Pagans can do in the world, but it will require leadership to do it and leadership is a relationship. Leadership is a two way street. Those who lead only do so because of those they serve. Mind, I did not say ‘follow’. Leadership is inalienably about service, or it is tyranny. Leadership is also risky. For Pagans this danger is acute. Besides putting oneself out in public which inevitably makes one a target, compounded by the isolation the role also produces, Pagans all too often operate by the ‘penguin’ mode of leadership. Penguins, it is said, follow their leaders down to the waterfront and stop before going in. The leaders, at the front of the pack, scan the waters for orca, leopard seals, and the like, which prey on penguins. But the waters are dark and the dangers, invisible. So, the pack pushes the leader in. If they come back up, they all jump in. If only blood comes to the surface, they go swimming elsewhere. Leadership is often about taking risks, but it must be matched by the loyalty of those the leaders serve for it to succeed. Both must be worthy.” – Sam Webster, on how leadership is relationship.

Donald Michael Kraig

Donald Michael Kraig

“I remember when cell phones first hit the market. They were supposed to free you up and give you more time. Now, they’re so “smart,” they take away time, allowing addicts to stare at their messages and email in the desperate hope that something important will flash on its screen. I realized that I’d been to festivals and conventions where people had their heads buried in their phones. You could be talking with them while they look and then say, “One second; I just have to answer this message…” If you’re a doctor, that conceivably could be true. Otherwise, you do not own that smart phone…it owns you. Consider this: if your battery had run down, or if the phone hadn’t signaled you with a sound or vibration, and the result was that you didn’t answer that message or email RIGHT NOW, how would your life or the life of the person sending you that note, be different? What if the message to you were delayed by 15 minutes? What about a half hour? Instead, people walk down the street, staring at their phones, missing the world around them; missing out on the world around them.” – Donald Michael Kraig, hits out against smart phones as “Magick destroyers.”

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“The mention of a very specific goddess: Isis. And that goddess, I have no doubt, is in mourning at present, not for Osiris, but for a human woman who over the last nearly seventy years did more to spread the religious devotion to Isis than anyone has since, very likely, Apuleius in late antiquity: Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson, the principal foundress of the Fellowship of Isis. Lady Olivia was born on April 13, 1917, and recently died on November 14, 2013. She was, truly, one of the most important individual pagans, I think, of the 20th and early 21st centuries, and I think that Isis most certainly inspired and came through her to many others. Sadly, I never was able to meet her, or to get to Clonegal Castle while I was in Ireland; however, a friend of mine did, and spoke very highly of Lady Olivia and of her experiences there in general. May Isis enfold her wings around Lady Olivia, and may she be guided swiftly into the west, with a thousand ushabtis of turquoise to carry out her works for her!” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on Olivia Robertson, co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis, who passed away last week. While at the site, do check out this wonderful tribute and sanctification.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“It’s true that the Pilgrims did celebrate some sort of Thanksgiving back in 1621, and it did come with Native Americans, pumpkin, and probably wild turkey. Unfortunately it wasn’t necessarily a holiday about “coming together” so much as it was about showing off English muskets. In recent years much of the Pilgrim myth has been stripped away. Most Americans are now aware that the Puritans of Plymouth Rock weren’t really the nicest folks. I’m respectful of their dedication to hard work and devotion to their faith, but they weren’t necessarily pioneers of religious freedom. Sure they were interested in their religious freedom, but these were the same people who were burning witches just seventy years later. The myth has always been better than the reality, but I still find value in it. When people reflect on the Pilgrims and the Patuxet it’s a reflection not of what actually was, but what we wish to be. Most of us do dream of a country where everyone can come together to share a meal without caring about race, creed, or gender. Maybe that’s why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It speaks to the best of what we can be. It’s certainly about food and family, but it’s also about coming together despite our differences. I’ll eat a good pound of turkey next Thursday, hug my wife, call my Dad, and watch about ten hours of football, but I’ll also stop to remember what it means to be truly thankful for the blessings in my life, and to reflect on the things that bring us together instead of drive us apart. Happy Thanksgiving.” – Jason Mankey, on why he likes Thanksgiving.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • WAH

    That Ivo Dominguez Jr. quote is just…ugh.

    • Franklin_Evans

      How so? Maybe I’m biased, Ivo being a personal acquaintance and knowing many members of ASW. I believe he is making a constructive commentary.

      • WAH

        Because it assumes that “magick” is relevant to *all* of the various religions subsumed under “Paganism.” He mentions Heathenry, which is in no way a “magickal path,” as if it were general magic-focused Paganism with mead and Germanic god names.

        • Franklin_Evans

          Understood. That the following perspective doesn’t work for you is something I can respect.

          I have a general discomfort with the various (and to my eye awkward) attempts to encompass a broad and experiential concept. “Magic” with or without “k”, change the “g” to “j”, etc. all leaves me at least a little unsettled.

          But then, as a general context from which an important point is trying to be made, I’ve come bite my tongue (or typing fingers) and let the discomfort pass.

          • ELNIGMA

            “I’ve come bite my tongue (or typing fingers) and let the discomfort pass.”

            Some great ideas come from reading differing views and writing out why one feels differently. If everything one reads is “in line” with one’s viewpoints, then they can have spent hours but not learned any new thing or got a new perspective.
            Think that’s the point. :)

          • Franklin_Evans

            See also my response to Nick Ritter. I was raised (quite directly) to be sensitive to language. I was challenged to master my language and to continue to refine that mastery at every turn. If that means — in this context — ignoring my distress or discomfort in service to participating in a constructive dialogue, then I don’t hesitate to do so… albeit with some amount of curmudgeonly grouching if mostly silently. ;-)

            Of course, as one can see, I don’t always type my words accurately. “I’ve come to bite my tongue…” is what I should have typed above. :D

          • ELNIGMA

            Oh I didn’t suggest to be attacking anyone, I just meant for yourself. If you wanted.

          • Franklin_Evans

            The ironic part, for me and possibly making me look hypocritcal in the eyes of some (with which I might agree, grinning), is that I’ve accepted the label “chaos mage”. The “chaos” part is spot on (ahem) and “mage” is just easier to use than “worker with personal and general spiritual energy”.

            I am a perennial seeker. It defines my path. I’m not likely to stop with the ending of my present incarnation. :D

          • ELNIGMA

            RuPaul recently said this:

            “Very important question to ask is; What question have I not asked?”

        • ELNIGMA

          I can see what you’re saying. But there’s a bit of an anti-scholarship view/attitude that pops up that Ivo’s also addressing. A mockery of people who bother to study and learn beyond bottle-fed ideas from one sole source.

          • WAH

            Ok, sure, I can agree with that, but I still think he should make that point without the problematic parts.

          • TadhgMor

            But from the rest of it he seems to be criticizing recons, who if anything are usually called too scholarly. That seems confusing to me.

          • ELNIGMA

            I don’t get that, but then maybe I should what new comments have been made since last I looked. Also, he’s a scholar.

          • TadhgMor

            I’m not the only one here who has seen it, so it’s certainly not just me.

            To be honest, whether or not he is a scholar has nothing to do with whether he’s insulting recons or making inaccurate statements about the nature of our faiths. Scholars can be wrong.

      • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

        I think that William Hood’s comments on the original article best express why some of us have issues with what Ivo Dominguez is suggesting.

        • WAH

          Thank you.

        • Franklin_Evans

          I am very grateful for that detailed look into your (plural) objections, and I’m particularly glad to see some of my own sentiments echoed and expressed very eloquently.

          I have personal issues with syncretism, not that it happens but with the lack of discipline in much of it. I am accurately labelled Pagan, but I am finding increasing sympathy with the Heathen point of view on many things.

      • Nick Ritter

        Perhaps his reaction is to the following part:

        “I’ve also noticed a trend towards focusing more exclusively on the lore and mythology of a specific people or a specific time at the expense of a generalized understanding of how magickal paths manifest in a variety of cultures and communities.”

        Is this a bad thing?

        • Franklin_Evans

          The honest answer from me: I just don’t know. :D

          I observe a general communication difficulty within our greater community — defined as those with whom we should (IMO) expect to find value, whether they have semantic agreement with us on terminology or not.

          There are two “levels” to the complaint. One is superficial, and can be taken as whining. I don’t take it that way, personally, but I can and will draw that conclusion on an individual basis dependent directly on how it is expressed and whether or not I can find value in it. In this specific context, WAH has presented his position coherently and rationally. It exemplifies that other “level” — contributions to an important dialogue which we must have if we are to have any semblence of community identity that is, in fact, representative rather than dilluting or distracting.

          Let us have that dialogue, please. Let us diminish the whining impression to the point where it is trivial to the ideas and concepts being discussed.

          I’ll leave off refering to others because they can and will express themselves with their own voices and without my making mistakes about them.

          Personally — complying with the semantics Ivo uses — my path does not include a magic(k)al practice. My every waking moment is a step on a magic(k)al path. I abandon that term because the energy of life and spirit simply describes it all for me, and I neither need nor want a term fraught with connotation and controversy. The rest is a personal perceptual and experiential rejection of the term “practice” as well. I don’t do it, I am it.

          I accept that term — to be honest again, I tolerate that term — because it provides a common conceptual ground. If instead it serves as detrimental for others towards having a common ground, I believe we are called to make the effort to find ways to serve them, to invite them to a common ground on which they will feel welcomed.

        • TadhgMor

          That stuck out quite a bit to me as well.

          I’m not sure exactly how he intends it, but it feels like a swipe towards recons on first reading.

    • ELNIGMA

      His analogy of getting a general magic(k)al background and knowledge building to better understanding of your path I think was apt.

      “The general education courses allow exposure to a broad range of disciplines that provide context for your major and the capacity to communicate and to interact with those things that lie outside of your major field of study. By the way, I believe that sometimes our best insights into our major come from looking at it from outside using the perspective of another field. ” Ivo

      I think this wide study approach has a side benefit of discouraging people from locking into *following* another person’s or group’s viewpoint to the point of becoming their *follower* or just repeating them. A group who suggests permanently throwing out other approaches is likely controlling and abusive. Some people won’t say that (especially if they’re guilty), but it’s true.

      • WAH

        “His analogy of getting a general magic(k)al background and knowledge
        building to better understanding of your path I think was apt.”

        Except that there are religions included under this label “Pagan,” for whom magic is not a central focus, not to mention the varied views on magic itself. For people of such religions, learning about magic doesn’t bring anymore understanding of their own path than learning about Jesus and soteriology does.

        • ELNIGMA

          So draw up your own “liberal arts” analogy magic(k)al curriculum. Or not. Still doesn’t invalidate his point.

          • WAH

            It invalidates his point *as applied to Paganism generally.* His point may be perfectly valid in regards to folks within his own or similar religions, but that doesn’t mean it applies universally to all religions everywhere, not even those included under “Pagan.” There is a difference between failing to learn a subject important to one’s religion and failing to learn a subject that is not a part of one’s religion in the first place.

          • ELNIGMA

            This is just disagreeing with his premise where someone benefits when they learn about more things than their “major”.

          • WAH

            Various religions under Paganism are not just “majors” of magical study. That’s my point. An individual can “benefit” by learning about magical traditions, but they could also benefit from learning about Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Stoicism, etc. etc. While this may all benefit an individual *generally*, it doesn’t particularly add anything to the practice of their specific religion when it does not include magic, the 4 noble truths, Ahura Mazda, etc. Had Mr. Dominguez suggested that everyone could benefit from learning about magick, I wouldn’t have a problem. My objection is to the notion that it is *necessary* for all who practice religions under the “Pagan umbrella” to study magic or they are somehow lacking, which is my impression from his article. One can practice Religio Romana or Hellenismos perfectly fine without knowing a lick about magic. Such knowledge might help an individual personally, to be more knowledgeable or well-rounded and such, but the knowledge doesn’t really do anything to make them a better Cultor or Hellenist.

          • ELNIGMA

            I’ve known people in Heathen paths who’d suggest learning about other practices was helpful. So that’s just a matter of opinion rather than a rule or guideline to be said about said path.

          • WAH

            Helpful in what way? That’s rather vague. Helpful to the individual or to that individual’s practice? Sure, I don’t deny that. But helpful in the further development of Heathenry itself? I disagree. It isn’t just an opinion, if something is *by definition* not a Heathen practice, how exactly does it build Heathenry, in and of itself, further? As an example, how does having knowledge of the LBRP add anything to Heathenry *as such*? The individual with that knowledge is better off for it, because more knowledge is a good thing, but I don’t see how it adds anything to said person’s Heathenry.

            Building on this, I would argue that it’s detrimental to Heathenry for someone to insist that something like the LBRP is useful in building Heathenry, because instead of finding our own ways of doing things and building Heathenry up on its own terms, all we’d end up doing is putting Germanic terms and god names over non-Heathen practices. How would that help us be better Heathens?

          • ELNIGMA

            I’ll have to be rather vague, since I’m currently the only one at my computer. Either you can think they could have suggested learning from other paths/people of other paths or you or you’ll they can’t – because they aren’t right with me, right now, to ask. That’d be a pretty heart-soul question, but I’d hope “Because I got to fellowship with … ” might be part of the answer. I can’t know how much it did them. You can’t know what’d it’d mean to others. That’s someone else. That’s why it’s not a rule or guideline to be said about such paths.
            It is likely detrimental to isolate your knowledge to only one teacher and/or group. I said before “A group who suggests permanently throwing out other approaches is likely controlling and abusive. Some people won’t say that (especially if they’re guilty), but it’s true.”

          • TadhgMor

            There is nothing controlling and abusing about refusing to be syncretic. That seems to be what you’re suggesting, though I could be misreading.

            The forms of “magick” used in syncretic and ecletic traditions are absolutely useless to me as a Celtic Polytheist. There is nothing wrong with knowing about them, any more than knowing any one else’s religious practices. But to me, they do nothing to further my practice. It’s not about “isolating” my knowledge.

          • ELNIGMA

            If not learning more widely is expected or required of someone to be accepted within the group, or discouraged by the group’s leaders or teachers, then there is a sought control on other people.
            If you are deliberately isolating yourself without any pressure, then that’s your prerogative. And if doesn’t help you, it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have or won’t be found helpful to others in your path. If you think it’s useless, and doesn’t help you – that’s your opinion.

          • TadhgMor

            Learning more widely doesn’t mean accepting what for me are unimportant new practices, reflecting fundamentally different assumptions about the world and the numinous. You seem to be suggesting that it’s wrong for me to reject non-Celtic practices. We certainly discourage people from using non-Celtic practices and representing them as Celtic (or Gaelic in my case). How is that wrong?

            It’s fundamentally not part of my path. Is that really so hard to understand? If you do those practices, you are NOT a Gaelic Polytheist. You are something else.

          • ELNIGMA

            ” You seem to be suggesting that it’s wrong for me to reject non-Celtic practices. ”

            I didn’t say that, didn’t even think it, so no.
            Your deciding other people aren’t Gaelic Polytheists is neither your right nor priviledge, sorry. No matter how other people might kowtow to your viewpoints.

          • TadhgMor

            Ah, so a person using modern Wiccan practices can appropriate the label, and all the connotations it holds, and I have no right to tell them they are wrong?

            That is just nonsense. What you’re arguing for is some sort of cult of the individual. That might make sense to you and your path, but it’s fundamentally wrong to community based groups (which recons as a whole tend to be).

            Kowtow? If you’re trying to present me as some sort of abusive egomaniac, well one, you’re wrong, and two, piss off. You have no right. You walk in here, insult me and those like me, and now tell me that I’m wrong for DARING to resist the slow inevitable spread of meaningless syncretism?

            Because that’s what it bloody well looks like.

          • WAH

            I have to concur. I think it is the right of communities to set their own boundaries and identity, rather than have it done for them by outsiders. Otherwise, Pagans will have to stop saying “we aren’t Satan worshipers” because there might be some Satan worshipers who consider themselves Pagan. Even more extreme example: “Pagans don’t sacrifice babies!” At least until a baby-sacrificer starts calling themselves “Pagan” and no one else has the right to stop them.

          • TadhgMor

            I understand the problems of being too strict in trying to set “right belief”.

            But if you do something that is fundamentally opposed to Gaelic Polytheism, like use a bunch of modern, mostly monotheist/pantheist forms of magic(k), then I feel comfortable saying you cannot be a Gaelic Polytheist. You’re something else. Create your own label, don’t take mine.

          • ELNIGMA

            That label was pretty free for anyone’s taking, long before you were ever incarnated in current form, so deal with it.

          • TadhgMor

            So again, everything’s meaningless? The self and your desires are all that matters?

            Sorry. That anathema to my understanding of the world, community, respect, and common bloody decency. If you want to be a disrespectful appropriator, don’t be surprised when people like me push back. I’m tired of letting you bloody New Age types walk all over the traditions you’ve been pillaging for a century now.

          • ELNIGMA

            Calling other people “stealing”, “anathema to the community” “New Age Imperialist” etc. if they’re so bold to suggest you don’t own exclusive use of the phrase Gaelic Polytheist.
            Would generally work to stop most people. because they would want to avoid making you mad, not because what you’re asking them to avoid makes sense.

            I really don’t have time for people who do these things to me, if you want to attack people for doing no worse than I’ve said, which has meant to be honest, I’m just not your person today.

          • TadhgMor

            I’m asking you to stop being so f***ing selfish. Is that not clear? YOU are appropriating from others and refusing to take responsibility. I find that utterly immoral. It’s fundamentally disrespectful. Far more so than anything mean thing I could possibly say to you. Apparently you see no issue with it, but still refuse to actually engage the point.

            Again, you’re constantly trying to make this about you, and prove that YOU are the victim here. You’ve internalized a pretty ridiculous amount of privilege. Which you continually refuse to acknowledge.

            Yes, appropriation is stealing. Yes, the way that “Wiccanate” (to borrow from a better writer than me) paganisms take at will from recons and other groups while also minimizing them is akin to the imperialism and colonialism. These analogies were made for a reason. But apparently the point is not something you’re willing to engage.

          • ELNIGMA

            You don’t own the two words, if someone else wants to use them, that’s fine, they’ve been around a long time and if that’s their beliefs – fine.
            It’s not stealing appropriating,colonialism, anathema, New Age something or other starting to lose track of it all you’re saying because like the more you say still don’t obfuscate the obvious.
            Anybody can be a Gaelic Polytheist if they want to be and can call themselves that. Tough cookies, it’s a phrase anyone can use.

          • TadhgMor

            Actually, that term is pretty recently coined, specifically by a group of people for a specific reason. But don’t let facts get in the way.

            Yes it is. Anybody can be one. Anybody cannot call themselves one.

            Tell me, what path do you follow other than privilege? Would you be fine with say, a Christian calling themselves that. Even though they still believe thoroughly in Christian doctrine?

          • ELNIGMA

            You probably walk a path of privilege yourself.
            I think those other questions are complex ones best addressed by those for whom it’d be true.
            I don’t think you are the only people who are Gaelic Polytheists.

          • TadhgMor

            A path of privilege? In faith? You’re not a good joker. I’m sure there are some groups I’m privileged over, but they’re few and far between.

            Then who else are Gaelic Polytheists? Whoever wants to be?

            This fetish of the individual is a fundamentally modern concept, based in modern assumptions.

          • ELNIGMA

            “Then who else are Gaelic Polytheists? Whoever wants to be?”

            Yes, yes, yes.. I’d hope if anybody calls themselves that, that’s by their choice. Sad, otherwise.

          • TadhgMor

            Even people who believe and do things fundamentally opposed to Gaelic Polytheism?

            Again, the constant focus on choice is dodging the problem here. This isn’t about someone’s ability, it’s about respect. I can call myself whatever I want, but suggesting for example, that I’m a Jew, would be highly offensive. This debate wouldn’t even be accepted in that instance. Can you really not understand that?

          • ELNIGMA

            Really? you want to compare this to being Jewish?

            Afraid I’m not qualified to argue about that.

          • TadhgMor

            I’m comparing this to any other religious community. Take your pick. I used Judaism because generally people are sensitive to appropriating Judaism. But there is no reason to be less sensitive for other faiths.

            You’re not qualified to handle a simple analogy? That is a purely cowardly dodge.

          • ELNIGMA

            I don’t think it’s the same thing. I’ve lived through some tough stuff as a Pagan, but some of my partner’s relatives got killed in the Holocaust.
            Insensitive analogy.

          • TadhgMor

            So you agree appropriation is wrong for Jews, but not for Gaelic Polytheists. So suffering is the difference?

            But why is it different? Why do they get to define that word, but I and my community do not?

            I used it for a reason, precisely because this is the response I expected. For the record, you know nothing about me or my history, so don’t make assumptions.

          • ELNIGMA

            You can call yourself a Gaelic Polytheist, so can everybody else who wants.

          • TadhgMor

            But I can’t call myself a Jew?

            If making an ANALOGY was insensitive, what would appropriating and redefining their identity be?

          • ELNIGMA

            Do you want to call yourself a Jew?
            I’m not the one to ask.

          • TadhgMor

            Gods will you show a single f***ing ounce of intellectual honesty here?

            This dodging is frustrating. I cannot make my points any more abundantly clear, yet you continue to flee from them. Do you have no courage?

          • ELNIGMA

            I’ve argued with you despite you calling me names for having an opinion that doesn’t match yours. Yeah, total wimp.

          • TadhgMor

            You’re being dishonest here by continually running from my point with irrelevant asides. Every single comment since I’ve made the analogy, you’ve refused to address the point.

            That is cowardice and intellectual dishonesty. I’ve addressed your points when you’ve made them. Even as you insult me, call me toxic, and refuse to engage with any level of honesty. I may not be the most polite, but I’m engaging your points. Your false politeness is worthless if you refuse to engage.

            Tell me, if you can, why is it acceptable to do something to me and my community you would not do to a Jew and theirs?

          • WAH

            Not to nitpick, but getting called names over the internet isn’t really Beowulf level heroism, either.

          • WAH

            Oh bull. Comparing Judaism, the religion, to Gaelic Polytheism, the religion, in regards to community, identity, and boundaries is not insensitive. He’s making no comparison to how oppressed either group has been.

            Also, just because you think Jews win the oppression Olympics doesn’t mean their community has more of a right to self-define than any other community, which is the actual issue being discussed.

          • ELNIGMA

            I already explained why. “You don’t own the two words” you don’t set the “boundaries” your opinion is just one opinion. And if someone else wants to use them, that’s fine.

          • WAH

            So that same reasoning applies to Jews and Judaism then? The Jews do not own Judaism and do not set the boundaries of their own community? TadhgMor isn’t just speaking for himself, he’s talking about the community in general. Unless you can provide a Gaelic Polytheist who disagrees with him, I’ll take the word of a Gaelic Polytheist over the word of a non-Gaelic Polytheist in regards to how the term is used.

          • TadhgMor

            For the record, you can find plenty of CRs that will disagree with some of what I’m saying. Some groups are somewhat eclectic (which makes a mockery of the name but hey). Gaelic Polytheist as a term is an attempt to separate from that.

            There are some who use the term “Gaelic Traditionalist” and which I and some others frown on because that term has generally been used by Irish Catholics. So there is a level of practicing what I preach here. I won’t use that term because it has a meaning defined by a living community (but some polytheists did/do use it against the advice of others). One of the best things I’ve read is that we need to engage with the modern living cultures as well, not just reconstruct.

          • WAH

            Almost everyone is privileged in some way or another, I myself am a white male which comes with incredible privilege in American society. But we aren’t talking about American society, we’re talking about Paganism, what’s relevant in *this* specific conversation is you’re minimizing and denying the concerns of others because you happen to like how things are.

            Also, I’m not a Gaelic Polytheist.

          • ELNIGMA

            I think the “respect” I’m supposed to give is to TaghgMor’s opinion about other people using the phrase “Gaelic Polytheist”
            On that, I think anybody can use it.
            I won’t say how I think he’s been about it, but it’s not improving matters or my opinion.

          • WAH

            Regardless of his demeanor, TaghgMor brings up a point that people of his, my, and similar religions constantly have to deal with when interacting with Pagans. It’d be nice if we could get the same respect that many (if not all) of us extend to you.

            As far as use of terms go, I’ll be sure and remind everyone of your view on the matter next time a politician like Newt Gingrich uses “Pagan” to refer to everything wrong with the world. According to you, the Pagans who got up in arms about him doing so had no right to disagree with him because anyone can use any word however they like, right?

          • ELNIGMA

            Look what TaghgMor’s called me.
            quite a list.

          • WAH

            Hey, they’re just words and anyone can use them however they like, right? Why don’t you redefine them to mean something good? And regardless, his calling you names doesn’t excuse your refusal to actually engage with the issue when brought up by those not calling you names. Do cultural/religious/whatever communities have a right to self-identify, or do they not? If so, do they have a true right to that identity, or do they not? An actual answer would be nice.

          • ELNIGMA

            “Ah, so a person using modern Wiccan practices can appropriate the label, and all the connotations it holds, and I have no right to tell them they are wrong?”

            Yep, they can use the label “Gaelic Polytheist” however they like, and you’re just being rude to yell at them “no you’re not” or whatever it is you say to try to make them feel bad about daring to do things you don’t like or enjoy.

            I’m not Wiccan, but yes, I think they can if that suits them.

          • TadhgMor

            So then all terms are meaningless?

            Gods you’re really really privileged. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to suggest people should be able to STEAL labels like that.

            It doesn’t matter if you are or not. You’re argument would be wrong no matter WHAT belief system you hold.

          • ELNIGMA

            You declare two words as only yours? Really? how childish is this?

          • TadhgMor

            No, I declare them for the community to which they belong. That community has set boundaries, completely rational ones, to protect and maintain our identity and our practices from appropriation and misinformation.

            What you are suggesting is blatant theft, plain and simple. It’s selfishness of the first degree. It’s taking YOUR worldview and forcing it onto others. There is some great irony in such selfishness while calling me childish.

          • ELNIGMA

            No, it’s a phrase anybody can use without shame, if it’s true of them. Your group may describe yourself thusly and that’s fine. You going on attack mode if someone else does is absurd.
            I find it incredibly likely there are Gaelic Polytheists who are NOT YOU and not part of your group.

          • TadhgMor

            If you use non-Gaelic practices regularly, it’s clearly not true of them now is it?

            Attack mode? So I should sit back while people appropriate and spread misinformation about my practices? Why? Because it offends your delicate sensibilities?

            There are others certainly. We have disagreements, like any set of groups. This conversation has occurred there. If anything, this conversation is part of why the term “Gaelic Polytheist” even exists, because it was staked out precisely to separate us from the numerous anti-historical New Age “Celtic” practices. Your lot already took Celtic over, and now you want more?

          • WAH

            “if it’s true of them.”

            Exactly.

          • ELNIGMA

            Cept you don’t get to decide that, they do.

          • WAH

            No, they don’t. When one tries to join a community or group, that community or group decides whether to accept that individual. That individual can go on calling themselves whatever they want, but it’s meaningless if they aren’t accepted among the community who coined the term.

            Your viewpoint is exactly what made the term “Pagan” completely useless to so many people, aside from its inherent problems.

          • ELNIGMA

            That’s true about communities, but not the two words, a phrase anyone else can be or use. See the difference? I can.

          • TadhgMor

            So a Christian can call themselves a Jew then? That’s fine. Can Christians also call themselves Hindus? If it doesn’t matter, I suppose that’s fine.

            If you can’t see something wrong with ignorant outsiders redefining terms that have living communities, simply because they can, then I have no idea what to tell you. That’s an absolutely selfish and immoral position to take.

          • WAH

            I do see the difference, and I pointed it out in my post when I said, “That individual can go on calling themselves whatever they want, but
            it’s meaningless if they aren’t accepted among the community who coined
            the term.” There is no stopping an individual from calling themselves whatever they want, but terms refer to actual things and if they fail to accurately do so, then the term becomes meaningless. Therefore, the community behind said term have every right to speak out against people using their term when they haven’t been accepted into said community.

          • ELNIGMA

            You don’t own the boundaries, if they exist. you do sound controlling to think you decide who’s in /who’s out/ who’s accepted/ who’s not – not in just your piece of the planet but who is Gaelic Polytheist.
            I’m certain you have no control over that. and your interest in control is toxic.

          • TadhgMor

            I don’t. The community owns them. I may be a bit less polite than others, but I’m not making any fundamentally different points. You cannot pass off non-Celtic practices as Celtic, and if you try to bring in fundamentally New Age, eclectic, or Wiccan practices we will ask you politely, to leave. Those communities already exist. This one, and others, is for those of us unhappy with rampant appropriation and syncretism.

            Toxic? Your privilege is toxic. Seeking to maintain reasonable boundaries is not.

          • ELNIGMA

            anybody can call themselves Gaelic Polytheist if they want.
            I’m pope on high and say it’s okay. LOL

          • TadhgMor

            You’re dodging the issue.

            If you want to actually engage, I will. If you’re going to be a childish, privileged ****, well, enjoy that.

          • ELNIGMA

            I was trying, but you started saying anathema and this other stuff, until I finally was like “This is a joke, may as well make one.”
            Some other time maybe you’ll be serious again, then maybe will I.

          • TadhgMor

            No, you weren’t. You’ve run from the issue on every occasion, fundamentally avoiding taking any position other than some juvenile “everything is okay you’re a toxic controlling jerk if you disagree!” stance.

            This is not a joke. I’m dead serious. I’m tired of people like you walking all over recons because you value some false “inclusion” above respecting others practices, to the point of suggesting any boundaries are wrong. I’m tired of blatant appropriation by Wiccans and eclectic pagans being written off and ignored. I’m tired of people like you forcing your pantheist “everything goes” world views onto those of us who don’t share it, and calling us intolerant if we DARE try and maintain our identities against your onslaught of meaningless syncretism.

            Maybe it’s a joke to you, with all your privilege, but it’s a dead serious issue to me.

          • WAH

            “If not learning more widely is expected or required of someone to be
            accepted within the group, or discouraged by the group’s leaders or
            teachers, then there is a sought control on other people.”

            Except none of this are saying this. At all. You’re projecting.

            “If you are deliberately isolating yourself without any pressure, then that’s your prerogative.”

            If you think our “isolation” is without pressure, then you’re Wiccanate privilege is showing. http://thespiae.oddmodout.com/2013/11/08/pbp-2013-wiccanate-privilege/

            “And if doesn’t help you, it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have or won’t be found helpful to others in your path.”

            Again, you’re failing to make the distinction between “helpful to an individual” and “helpful to a religion generally.”

          • ELNIGMA

            I’m not Wiccan. I don’t think of most on these paths mentioned as generally choosing to be isolated – or being isolated. So much public stuff, I don’t see how that’s even possible.

            Generally when someone’s deciding the group would better be not be interacting with other groups, that’s not helpful. Again, potentially awful control issues.

          • WAH

            I didn’t say you were Wiccan. “Wiccanate” does not mean “Wiccan,” I would suggest actually reading the article I linked.

            Again, no one is saying anything about groups not interacting with each other. Seriously, try and read the points we’re actually making.

            I’ll use an analogy from my own life. I am part of a “Heathen” group, made up of a couple families and individuals. We formed said group to practice Heathenry. If an individual member of said group learns about other religions, I think that’s great (I myself do exactly that). If they choose to practice non-Heathen forms of magic on their own time, I think that’s their business. But we didn’t found the group for the purpose of practicing eclectic Paganism, or Western Mystery Tradition, or anything else. We founded it for the purpose of practicing Heathenry. If someone is uninterested in doing so with us, then our group isn’t for them and I’d be glad to guide them toward an eclectic Pagan group, or wherever else their interest lies. This doesn’t make our group isolated and it doesn’t mean we don’t interact with Pagans. It just means that the purpose of our group is the purpose of our group, and it’s going to stay that way. If others can’t respect that and insist we incorporate non-Heathen practices, then I think the problem is theirs.

          • ELNIGMA

            What I said was
            “If not learning more widely is expected or required of someone to be accepted within the group, or discouraged by the group’s leaders or teachers, then there is a sought control on other people.”

            If what they do on their own time doesn’t concern your group and it’s not discouraged, then why the vibe that seems to be that you’re offended?

          • WAH

            Because Mr. Dominguez is not just saying, “I think everyone could benefit from becoming ‘magically literate’.” If he were, I might differ on that score, but I could respect that it’s his view. However, his article goes further and makes it implicitly clear that all religions under the Pagan umbrella (however partially that may be) are essentially “magickal paths” and it’s a shame that more Pagans are “magickally illiterate.” This is akin to Christians calling natives “ignorant savages” because they don’t worship Jesus or believe in Christian eschatology & soteriology. So I think we have every right to take exception to someone not of our religions essentially telling us that we’re religiously deficient because we aren’t trained in something *his* religion finds vital. I feel like I’ve tried to explain this in many different ways in this thread.

          • WAH

            As I said before, the issue isn’t what it means to them, it’s what it specifically adds to Heathenry itself. As to your last part, I agree, and Heathenry has plenty of different groups, teachers, etc. for one to learn from. I think the key here is you mention “throwing out other approaches,” the question here is “approaches to *what*”? Wicca, religious witchcraft, Thelema, whatever, are not different approaches to Heathenry, they’re approaches to other things entirely.

            Likewise, Heathenry is not another approach to magic, Wicca, religious witchcraft, or Thelema. The motivations and goals of, for example, Wicca and Heathenry are not identical, and are therefore not just different approaches to the same thing. That’s the very attitude folks like me find troubling when we see them pop up time and time again over the past decade+.

            By way of analogy, you wouldn’t ask a rock climber with no knowledge of fishing to teach you how to fish, right? It might be personally enriching to know how to both rock-climb and fish, but knowing how to fish isn’t going to get you up the sheer side of a mountain.

          • ELNIGMA

            You don’t know it hasn’t/doesn’t or won’t. you just assume there’s never been anything.
            I haven’t read this as claiming they are all the same thing. To continue your analogy –
            Rock climbers would likely know more about fishing than the guy who never leaves their desk.

          • WAH

            “You don’t know it hasn’t/doesn’t or won’t. you just assume there’s never been anything”

            I do know, from years of dealing with this exact dynamic and all of its different nuanced effects in my community.

            “I haven’t read this as claiming they are all the same thing.”

            It’s easy not to notice something that doesn’t affect you. The implication that all of these varied religions are just different approaches to “magic” or “magical cultures” (whatever those are) is very clear in the article, most glaringly when he makes the “magical college” analogy and describes Heathenry as a “major” within that college. This simply does not reflect reality. Perhaps the fact that people from the different religions he’s referring to are taking exception to his article is an opportunity for *you* to consider a different viewpoint, rather than being defensive.

            “Rock climbers would likely know more about fishing than the guy who never leaves their desk.”

            That doesn’t logically follow. At all. A rock climber who spent twenty years climbing mountains, and zero time fishing will know less than even a couch potato who reads a book about fishing lures. You’re reaching.

  • ELNIGMA

    I like this. Interesting views from people who’ve been doing this stuff for (usually way) more than a couple of years.

  • Cat C-B

    Mankey’s greater message is solid, but I had to wince when, in service of myth-busting, he repeated the canard that Puritans “burned” witches in Salem.

    I’m pretty sure he knows the actual history, and I suspect that my own reaction is more related to the impulses of a grammar cop than a historian. Still, when taking aim at misconceptions, it’s good to check that your own weapons don’t misfire…

    • ELNIGMA

      Anytime people repeat that canard like it’s fact who know the history (as if the reality wasn’t interesting enough and didn’t have lessons still relevant), that’s annoying. I generally give the benefit of the doubt and figure someone never bothered to learn more about it.
      “when taking aim at misconceptions, it’s good to check that your own weapons don’t misfire…” yep. ability to keep learning to fix mistakes is a strength.

    • JasonMankey

      You know, I wrote that piece a year ago and re-reading it the other day I winced when I came across “the burning witches” line. I probably should have gone back and changed it as I regret the misinformation.

      • Cat C-B

        If I had a dollar for every time I re-read an old piece and found a wince-worthy line in it! *grinning*

        I feel ya. And in truth, I’d have been very surprised if you would have let the phrase go out the door for a more formal piece, like a book.

      • ELNIGMA

        that’s cool. :)

    • Deborah Bender

      A lot of people conflate the Pilgrims with the Puritans, as Jason does here. They arrived in America at roughly the same time, and they both came from England, and their names start with the same initial. They were distinct groups with different histories and religious views. They had different interactions with the indigenous peoples of the areas where they settled.

      • Robert Mathiesen

        What Deborah said, and then some! The people who settled old Plymouth Colony from 1620 onward were, on the whole, far more radical, even “heretical” (in the eyes of the Puritans), tolerant and individualistic than the Puritans who settled Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1630 onward. The two colonies were independent until the early 1690s, when Massachusetts Bay engineered a sort of “hostile takeover” of the land and government of Plymouth.

  • don108

    Just as a clarification, Jason, I LOVE smartphones. I think they’re fantastic and highly useful. What I was hitting “out against” was the way some people use these incredible devices to separate themselves from the real world, to multitask themselves into a stupor so they don’t have to look at the sky, look at their friends, and actually deal with them. The result of this dependency upon checking the tiny screen to see whether Judy is shopping for strawberries or see a picture of Tom’s lunch while in the midst of other activities can be the inability to focus one thing, an important aspect of magick. Smartphones are great! I have one and frequently use it. I don’t let it use me.
    —Donald Michael Kraig

  • T Thorn Coyle

    Really great collection this time, Jason! I’m happy to see it.