Pagan Community Notes: Polytheist Leadership Conference, Polytheist.com, Cherry Hill Seminary, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 21, 2014 — 91 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!

Pagan Leadership ConferenceAs mentioned last week, the recently concluded inaugural Polytheist Leadership Conference was considered a success by all who attended. Conference co-organizer Galina Krasskova has been rounding up thoughts and reactions from attendees here, here, here, and here. Do check them out for a fuller picture of what went down. In addition the conference has already announced dates for next year, and who their keynote speaker will be: Morpheus Ravenna. Quote: “I’m delighted to announce that Morpheus Ravenna will be our key-note speaker at the Polytheist Leadership Conference in 2015. We just confirmed with her last night. An initiate of the Anderson Feri tradition, Morpheus is a Celtic polytheist, an artist, spiritual worker, and devotee of the Morrigan. She is the leader of the Coru Cathubodua, a priesthood dedicated to this mighty Goddess and was recently featured on the documentary ‘American Mystic.'” For further updates, check out the PLC’s official website.

Anomalous Thracian

Anomalous Thracian

In other Polytheist community news, a new website, Polytheist.com, will be launching later this Summer. Spearheaded by Anomalous Thracian (aka Theanos Thrax) the new site plans to be safe, dedicated, home to an incredibly diverse Polytheist population. Quote: For some time, many Polytheists have been seeking a place for discussing their religions, their divine relations, and their living lineages in such a way that effectively maximizes the vastness of the all-connecting technologies of the internet age to reach out to and commune with other like-minded and like-religioned groups and individuals, without inviting the targeting and resistance often experienced in spaces not dedicated to this specific aim.” In a recent editorial published at PaganSquare, Anomalous Thracian endorsed an ethos of “And, Not Or” when it comes to Polytheist-Pagan relations. Quote: “A Polytheist and a Pagan. Not ‘either/or’. No war implicit between the two. That does not mean that there is not conflict, and that there is not a need to fight for the rights of identification, of religious and social difference and differentiation; but it does mean that I can dually wield both of those identities. I am never not one, never not either; they do not compete, nor cancel one another out.”

702Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has announced the graduation of Carol Tyler Kirk, awarding her a Masters of Divinity in Pagan Pastoral Counseling, the second such graduation since Cherry Hill Seminary first opened its graduate program in 2009. Quote: “Kirk served the U.S. Army as a nurse in a Vietnam MASH unit from May 1969 to December 1970, then returned home to a career in nursing management. Kirk’s master’s thesis addresses the needs of the ‘wounded warrior,’ those returning from deployment overseas and whose war wounds may be non-physical, running deeper into the soul. Publication of the work is in planning. Kirk has also led several covens, and currently serves as a hospital chaplain and interfaith activist in Huntsville, Alabama. A July 2013 article in the Cherry Hill Seminary newsletter relates Kirk’s role in establishing the Women’s Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., where she spoke at the dedication.” Kirk’s department chair and advisor, Dr. David Oringderff, said that Kirk set “high standards of excellence for all of our students who follow.”

In Other Pagan Community News: 

  • A new biannual print journal concerning polytheism and spiritwork, Walking the Worlds, has debuted and is looking for submissions. Quote: “Walking the Worlds is a new print journal that will be debuting on the Winter Solstice. Devoted to an exploration of spiritwork and polytheism from a variety of traditions, ancient and modern, we are seeking essays, reviews and poetry on topics such as: gods, ancestors, spirits, spirit-animals, heroes, land-wights, prayer, devotions, offerings, sacrifice, ritual, ritual tech, festivals, temple and shrine-keeping, music, dance, ecstasy, madness, trancework, cleansing, entheogens, healing, initiation, ordeal, divination, oracles, inspired and channeled works, magic, witchcraft, herblore, science, history, mythology and so forth.”
  • Yeshe Rabbit and Erick DuPree have launched dharmapagan.org as a free online resource that fuses their work with the dharma and Buddhism through a Pagan lens. Yeshe Rabbit and Erick host Dharma Pagan Dialogues and Discussion videos with guests like Sam Webster and Dylan Thomas, invitations to online sangha and practices such as Tea and Chanting and Chanting Green Tara, as well a guest blog. For more information visit: www.dharmapagan.org
  • Artist, writer, and scholar Sasha Chaitow is seeking crowdfunding help to attend and participate in the upcoming OCCULT art salon in Salem, Massachusetts. Quote: “I’ve been invited to the OCCULT Art Salon in Salem, MA this September to participate in the art exhibition and present a workshop on [visionary author Joséphin] Péladan’s work. I am preparing a painting for the exhibition, but I need your help to get there, as the travel expenses are well beyond what I can afford as a (barely graduated) ex-grad student.”
  • A Bad Witch’s Blog reports on the recent “Witchcraft Today” 60th anniversary event. Quote: “The tabloid papers often gave particularly lurid, sensationalist and inaccurate accounts of what went on in the Craft. Gerald Gardner was one of the few Wiccans willing to speak to the Press at the time and his book Witchcraft Today was partly written to try to redress the balance and give the public a genuine insight into what witches do.”

 

witchcraft-today-60-years-on

  • At PaganSquare Cat Treadwell reports on the first Pagan Symposium in London, organized by the Pagan Federation. Quote: “Since the discussions over the Census and the PaganDASH project, there has been a need for cohesive voices and a mature approach to the representation of Pagans across the country, as many of our international fellows are already doing. We would try to accomplish this, as individuals and within groups sharing identities and diverse beliefs under the Pagan umbrella. Even just for today, to see if it worked… these few hours would be a test, of sorts.”
  • The Moon Books blog interview Christine Hoff Kraemer, Pagan theologian, author, and manager of the Patheos Pagan channel. Quote: “I think the strength of Patheos Pagan is that it exists in an inherently interfaith context. One of our writers, Julian Betkowski, recently commented on the dangers of accidentally creating “echo chambers” rather than functional religious communities — small cliques of people in which an agenda is enforced and genuine dialogue is discouraged. Hosting a community of Pagan writers in an interfaith environment helps combat that in a number of ways. It forces us to continually refine our own viewpoints in dialogue with each other *and* with people of other religions. Having regular contact with thoughtful non-Pagans keeps us in mind that despite Pagans’ differences, we still have a great deal more in common with each other than we do with the other major Western religions.”

 

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Argent

    I am as excited as a school girl in a an anime for all the polytheist frameworks coming together. Thank you for this information.

    • Raksha38

      Hee! I love this mental image!

  • AnantaAndroscoggin

    How large a gathering is the PLC?

    • thehouseofvines

      We had around 100 attendees all told.

  • Sunstone

    I am curious – why do you guys only cover Cherry Hill and not the other Pagan seminaries?

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

      Which other Pagan seminaries working towards academic accreditation would you like us to cover?

  • TadhgMor

    How can one be a Celtic Polytheist and an initiate of a modern tradition like Feri? Those are very different theologies, based on my understand of Feri.

    Nice to see the Conference went well, but that sort of thing makes me skeptical it’s really much of a jump from the normal “institutional pagan” events.

    • Northern_Light_27

      The people in charge of this– well, I’m glad they’re calling themselves “polytheist” instead of recon. All UPG all the time, godspouses and godslaves, sacrificing to inimical, non-haleful powers, “ordeal masters”, “horsing”, it may be polytheism but it’s modern/invented, not recon.

      • thehouseofvines

        Wanna try again? I was one of the primary organizers of the Conference and none of your statements apply to me, except the non-recon bit which is a red herring since reconstructionism is a methodology not a religion. Everything I do is firmly backed up and I can swap sources with the best of them (plus my people were a hell of a lot more literate than your ancestors, meaning I have way more material to draw on) so not being recon doesn’t default to “makes shit up.” If you’re going to smear the Conference at least try to make your arguments somewhat applicable – this is almost as ridiculous as you claiming that Tamara’s only contribution is running a WoW guild.
        The second Conference is in the works and you’re more than welcome to come see for yourself – assuming you can pull yourself away from trolling the intarwebs long enough to do so.

        • TadhgMor

          So are you denying that this is primarily modern polytheist paths? Because I’ve been getting the same vibe from numerous statements I’ve seen concerning the conference, that this is another thing where I’d need to bow to the dominant neo-pagan culture to join in.

          • thehouseofvines

            We had representatives from Kemetic, Thracian, Celtic, Heathen, Northern Tradition, Magna Graecian, Hellenic, Roman and other traditional polytheisms present. In fact YSEE even sent a delegation, and if you know anything about their reputation that should allay your concerns. There may have been neopagans present but they did not set the tone – this was very much about getting polytheists together to dialogue about the issues in our communities and how we can mutually support one another.

          • TadhgMor

            Yet I’m seeing statements where someone is claiming to be both Feri and a Celtic Polytheist, something which I know as a Gaelic Polytheist is rather a bit of a contradiction.

            From Coru Cathubodua no less, which has a very mixed reputation in my community. They aren’t particularly traditional, and have a good deal of neo-pagan/Wiccan influence.

            That makes me wonder how representative those representatives actually are.

          • DverWinter

            There is a wide range of what might be considered a [insert culture here] polytheist. Some are going to be much more Recon than others. If you’re looking for a group of strict Recons only, then you probably wouldn’t feel totally comfortable at that conference (from what I can tell of the presenters – I wasn’t there myself). On the other hand, if you’re interested in the myriad expressions of polytheism, which is simply the belief in many gods and does not in itself require strict adherence to the exact way an ancient culture did it in a precise time and place, then you might find something of value there.

          • TadhgMor

            I’m not interested in seeing modern distortions of ancient cultures, no. I have no interest in modern Romanticist theologies. There is more than enough of that in the dominant “neo-pagan” mainstream as it is.

          • DverWinter

            Well, if you view people worshipping ancient gods in a manner that isn’t exactly like it was done by the people who first worshipped those gods as a “modern distortion of an ancient culture” rather than a much-needed revival of the worship of holy powers, then yeah, you’re probably not going to like that conference. Then again, you probably wouldn’t have approved of many religious trends of the ancient world either, such as Isis worship in Rome.

          • TadhgMor

            I view people using modern “witchcraft” and Wiccan practices and calling themselves traditional to be dishonest. I find people who want to pick and choose but refuse to commit to be unreliable people to build a community around.

            In particular, I object to people “trying on” cultures for their amusement while refusing to adopt them.

            Your assumptions are making you look like an ass. I suggest you stop them.

          • DverWinter

            I don’t think that anyone who presented at that conference (I don’t know about the attendees) fits any of those accusations, and yet most are not strict Recons. I’m not sure exactly what would qualify as “adopting a culture” from your perspective, so I guess it would depend on how strict you are about that. I was only trying to hazard a guess, based on your statements, on whether you would enjoy attending. There really were a wide range of polytheist approaches on display, so it’s just a matter of finding people you most click with – that is, unless you are offended at those who don’t to the point of not wanting to even be near them.

          • TadhgMor

            The condescension here does not help your point. If I wanted an excuse to write off this group, you would have provided it by now. So again, I suggest you back off.

            I mentioned one specific person representing a group as the reason for my concern! How can you say “I don’t think anyone fits that” when I was very clear?

            Adopting a culture, to start with, means approaching say, the Gaelic Gods, through Gaelic culture. Not New Age witchcraft. It means rejecting modern theology and trying to understand our ancestors and revive their culture not just their religious practices. It means building something, not just trying it on.

          • DverWinter

            Well, that one person did not actually present this year, so my comment still stands, as I was referring to the presenters this year. And the person you’re talking about is, AFAIK, a devotee of a Celtic goddess AND a Feri initiate – I’m not sure that she combines the two in any way, so she’s not necessarily approaching Her through “new age witchcraft”.

            But I would say that the people who want to reconstruct entire cultures and not just the religious practices are relatively few – unfortunately for them, I’m sure, as it must be particularly frustrating, but you can’t really go holding other people to that standard when they expressly are NOT concerned with the ancient culture as a whole but only honoring the gods, which still exist. How are they only “trying it on” if they are not endeavoring to rebuild the culture at all? They aren’t trying on an ancient culture, they are worshipping gods whose worship originated in that culture, but did not necessarily even begin with it, much less die with it.

            However, I’ll point out that you did indeed, from the beginning, appear to be looking for an excuse to write off the group. And if the words of some random internet stranger who didn’t even attend the conference and isn’t affiliated with it would provide said excuse, it really didn’t take much, did it?

          • TadhgMor

            They’re “trying it on” by claiming to be traditional, like Coru Cathobodua does, while reflecting New Age practices and theology.

            Your “point” is false. You can think that, and you’re real bloody defensive, but I still lean towards it being a good idea. I’m simply concerned by people like you. People like you are while so much misinformation is spread throughout paganism. You rationalize everything into “well if they want to do it okay”. I believe some boundaries are necessary for any healthy group. I’m tired of watching people like you violate those boundaries because of some UPG.

          • DverWinter

            When does Coru Cathobodua claim to be traditional? In fact, from their website: “While the Coru is inspired by and makes an effort to honor the traditions of the Celtic source cultures within which the Morrigan’s identity arose historically, we are not a reconstructionist group.” Pretty damn clear, actually.

            I agree about boundaries in any healthy group. If I were, for instance, creating a group that performed religious rites together, I would want everyone to be on the same page regarding basic theological and methodological approaches. But sorry, you can’t actually extend that to everyone in the broadest of religious categories. You can’t force everyone who is polytheist to be a strict Recon or agree to where you draw the lines. I am not violating your boundaries because I never agreed to your boundaries. That would be like some Wiccan complaining that I was talking about multiple gods when there was only one God and one Goddess, just because we both broadly fell under the category of “paganism”. It would be much more productive to focus on building cohesion with the smaller group of people who already DO agree with you on how to do things.

          • TadhgMor

            “makes an effort to honor” and then they actually don’t. That’s where the first issue is. Not to mention using a Gallic name for a Gaelic cult. Their explanation “Gallic is closer to a Celtic mother tongue” is not accurate since Gallic is mostly considered to be a P-Celtic language and those languages are considered to be younger dialects than the Q-Celtic languages that were more conservative based on historical evidence. I have a lot of issues there, but I won’t keep going through them.

          • thehouseofvines

            Well, if you don’t think your tradition is going to be adequately represented you can always come and present. Frankly, I didn’t agree with all the presenters or the views expressed at the first one. (I’m a card-carrying Fascist and several people were discussing the intersection between polytheism and liberal and anarchist politics.) But I wanted to give them a place to speak, be heard and connect with others. Real leadership comes from dialogue not conformity of belief.

          • TadhgMor

            Communities need to exist before that dialogue can. What it seems to me is that you’ve provided another platform for modern Romanticist groups that claim to be traditional to push deeper into communities that are already fragile under pressure from them and others.

            I don’t speak for my tradition, and the people who might have a claim to seem to have decided that it was better to cut off from the neo-pagan scene after years of being ignored. As time goes on I find more value in that decision, because I continue seeing how little tradition seems to matter overall.

          • thehouseofvines

            And what exactly are you basing this on? This is delightfully absurd considering the reputation I have among neopagans.
            But hey, if you don’t want to attend this Conference you could always try putting on one of your own. There’s also the option I’m fairly certain you’ll take – sitting back sniping at anyone who’s actually out there getting anything done.

          • DverWinter

            Yes, that’s what it comes down to – you try to provide a place for people to meet and get something done, and then everyone who doesn’t fit into that group sits around and complains about “those people” – it seems, that they simply exist and dare to congregate – rather than either joining and trying to bring their perspective to the table, or going off and starting their own event (equally valid). I’m not sure what they want you to do about it, other than either entirely conform to their approach or stop existing altogether.

          • TadhgMor

            I said what I’m basing this on. Individuals who were there and presented and the groups they represent.

            I don’t have the money to attend the bloody thing even if I wanted to. But my concern is real, and I know I’m not the only one with it, so it might be better not to just dismiss it out of hand.

            Because you and the other one down there are doing a damn good job convincing me of all the bad things in my head with your attitudes. Getting something done that hurts many communities is not a good thing. You haven’t exactly convinced me that that won’t happen. In fact, based on DverWinter down there, I think it really might. I’m seeing the same “boundary maintenance is bad” tone that I get from New Age types, despite the fact that neither of you seem to be that.

          • thehouseofvines

            I’m curious – what do you actually propose be done? Institute a theological litmus test? Way I see it the shit and the shine will both become apparent through dialogue. If you aren’t interested in participating in that dialogue, that’s fine. But I’m not going to exclude others just to make you happy. If I was organizing this Conference to serve my own ends, only Magna Graecian polytheists and devotees of Dionysos would be invited.

          • TadhgMor

            Honestly? I don’t have an answer for that right now. That would be a worthy subject of dialogue. Because the slow erasure of traditional practices and history is a real problem even for “fluffier” polytheists I have no doubt.

            It’s not about making me happy. Gods below you’re both really bloody defensive, but you, unlike the other one, aren’t being an ass.

            What I’m afraid of is seeing the term “polytheist” get claimed by a bunch of New Age and modern groups just like the term pagan has. I’m afraid of seeing all the modern monist groups with shoddy history walk in and essentially take over the place. My concerns arise because of stated attendees that seem to be the “first wave” of such a thing, which I’m sure is unintentional on their part. Most of the people I’ve seen spreading Romanticist nonsense about the Celts and New Age hippy nonsense are very nice people. But that doesn’t change the damage they do.

            Is that more clear?

          • thehouseofvines

            Ironically enough what you’re describing was a huge concern of ours as well. And when we announced the Conference and stated that it was specifically for polytheists we got massive flak from neopagans who thought we were being exclusionary and judgmental. We’re not. It’s just that there are specific concerns for our respective communities that need addressing but often aren’t because we get caught up in theological dick-waving contests. What could we do, what could we discuss if we got past that? That’s what I wanted to see with this Conference and hopefully next year can build on that. I don’t have the answers, hell I’m not even sure what all of the questions are – but I do believe that talking face to face is a step in the right direction.

          • TadhgMor

            But “for polytheists” is vague enough to include quite a bit of those neo-pagan groups. And groups with distinct New Age influence like Coru Cathobodua are…a middle ground I suppose, one that worries me because that is how it happened before. First you have Wiccans. Then you have “Celtic Wiccans”, and now suddenly they’ve expanded into areas that previously were “safe”.

            But thanks, at least acknowledging the concern makes me feel better. Who knows, maybe I will get the chance to attend the next one. Or at least talk someone from a Celtic recon group into going, to balance it out.

          • thehouseofvines

            Well, considering how hated I am by large swaths of neopaganism my presence kind of mediates against that. :D

          • TadhgMor

            I don’t know, I’ve seen more than one person turned into a “good” polytheist. There are some very weird dynamics internally in this broader set of communities.

          • thehouseofvines

            True that. People are weird. And I got to see just how weird they can be in putting this Conference together.

          • TadhgMor

            I apologize for being rude earlier.

            However your…associates are still assholes. This thread has turned into “gang up on him” apparently. This sort of “dialogue” seems to be what happens the majority of the time someone tries to take my position, so I know it’s not just me.

          • thehouseofvines

            I didn’t tell anyone to jump into the conversation; not my place to tell them to stop. I’m not even sure how this all exploded. Post has been up for a couple of days with only four comments. Saw that Northern_Light dude was spreading absurd and groundless rumors. Stepped in to correct them and next thing I know this is a whirlwind of craziness.
            I suppose this is why Dionysians shouldn’t be allowed near computers. Madness follows us everywhere we go.

          • TadhgMor

            No, you didn’t. But this sort of thing is what fuels my skepticism.

          • thehouseofvines

            Yeah, but you’re giving as good as you’re receiving and I’ve also noticed a significant difference in how you respond to the female versus the male commenters, so I’m not sure how much sympathy you’ll get playing the victim card.

          • TadhgMor

            What difference between female and male? What are you talking about? If you are insinuating sexism I flatly reject that assertion entirely.

          • DverWinter

            So you couldn’t attend the conference even if you wanted to, and you don’t really want to because you don’t agree theologically with the people there, but you think your opinions should carry some weight…. why? I mean, I think the Pagan Spirit Gathering looks totally stupid, not my thing at all, totally disagree with almost everyone there regarding religion, so…. I don’t go. I certainly don’t write to the people organizing it and demand that they turn it into a polytheist spirit-worker gathering because *I* am a polytheist spirit-worker – what sense would that make?

          • TadhgMor

            There’s no point in us interacting any longer. No good will come of it. You’ve retreated into a passive aggressive position and it’s pissing me off and we’ll just yell past each other.

          • thehouseofvines

            I’m also curious to know how you think this Conference harmed the communities. As far as I could tell it got some people together to talk about issues and work together. In fact I even saw folks who were really nasty to each other online sitting down and working through their difference in a civil and respectful manner. I think we could all use such “harm.”

          • TadhgMor

            I don’t, and I didn’t allege that it did. I said that is my worry. It’s a thing moving forward, not a thing existing now.

          • Finnchuill

            But having Morpheus Ravenna as a keynote speaker for the next conference can only cause dismay among many in Celtic reconstructionist communities. Coru is just the type of group that can cause damage to Celtic cultures, due to misleading people about authenticity of practices.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            “Yet I’m seeing statements where someone is claiming to be both Feri and a Celtic Polytheist, something which I know as a Gaelic Polytheist is rather a bit of a contradiction.”

            Actually, you don’t “know”, because while you may be a Celtic Polytheist, you know little to nothing about Feri. You ASSUME there is a contradiction based on what Google tells you about Feri. But you’re making definitive statements that you cannot back up.

          • TadhgMor

            Yet you refuse to explain how it’s not a contradiction. Unless you can actually do so, your point is moot. I haveto use the information available.

            Also, again, I know it is one because I understand Celtic polytheism. Unless that person is completely ahistorical, I see no way to synthesize the two practices.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            Again, your mistake is in assuming Feri is a set practice. There’s no easy way for me to explain to you why it is not a contradiction. Perhaps you can explain why it is? After all, its your theory, which gives you the burden of proof.

            And no, you don’t know that it is a contradiction just because you are a Celtic polytheist. That’s a ridiculous justification for the knowledge that you’re claiming to have.

          • TadhgMor

            I am using a specific example in another comment.

            You know, I think I should really just not respond to you any longer. Your frequent New Age type writings rub me the wrong way as does your repeated insistence THAT I DON’T KNOW MY OWN DAMN TRADITION.

          • Finnchuill

            Coru Cathubodua is a Wiccanate group, definitely not Recon.

      • TadhgMor

        Is it really? That’s a shame. I’m not particularly interested in “leadership conferences” (played that game when I was a teen) but it seemed like a good idea. But a few things had been giving me the vibe it was not necessarily something I would be able to fit in to.

        Course I know some Recon groups that are barely better with the UPG stuff, including some “exiled” groups of Celtic Recons that have been pushed out of the better circles.

      • DverWinter

        I’m so glad we have you here to set the record straight on what is and is not modern. I’m sure all the various historical African animist cultures which featured spirit-possession would be interested to know their practices are entirely modern and invented, as would the indigenous North Americans who hung on hooks and then tore themselves from them as initiatory rites. As would, too, the anthropologists who have been studying such ordeal rites and trance-possession for centuries.

        But what I’m really curious about is why, if you acknowledge that no misrepresentation has occurred (no one here is claiming to be Recon who doesn’t meet your standards, and the conference is called Polytheist not Recon), you are bothering to make comments at all. If the group isn’t your cup of tea, then don’t go to the conference. I certainly don’t attend Wiccan or neo-pagan gatherings for the same reason. What’s your problem, exactly – just that such people dare to exist and gather together sometimes?

    • Northern_Light_27

      Also, their keynote speaker is paid by the members of her organizations to be both the first pharoah chosen by the Egyptian gods since ancient times and chosen to be a Vodou priestess and a “Haitian Vodou expert”, yet what she lists on her resume as work experience? Running a World of Warcraft roleplaying guild. I find it very hard to take some of these people seriously.

      • Crystal Hope Kendrick

        Are you talking about this year’s speaker? This is her biography from the PLC website:
        “Rev. Tamara Siuda (born 1969) is a professional Egyptologist (MA 2001 University of Chicago; MA 2008 Macquarie University) and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Religion at Claremont Graduate University. She is a well-known author and lecturer on multiple religious subjects, a lifelong polytheist, and an outspoken interreligious advocate who served as a delegate to the Council for the Parliament of the World Religions in 1993, 1999, and 2005. She founded Kemetic Orthodoxy and its House of Netjer Temple in 1989. The House of Netjer has maintained a full-time physical temple to the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt on its own property since 2000, and expanded into an 18-room retreat center and temple building in Joliet, Illinois, in 2003. It also has an extensive Internet ministry that was the subject of an entire chapter of Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet by Lorne L. Dawson and Douglas E. Cowan (Routledge, 2004).”

      • DverWinter

        You know, I hate WoW as much as anyone, but even I would have trouble declaring that participation in it invalidated decades of religious work. It’s a freaking hobby.

    • Alley Valkyrie

      Perhaps your understanding of Feri is a bit inaccurate.

      • TadhgMor

        There is no way on this earth that is similar to ancient Celtic practices. That’s a completely foreign culture. Cultures, really. Even recons only get close, and I know enough about Feri to know it is not even close to recon.

        • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

          If you legitimately think that you can reconstruct a culture and understand it fully through fragmentary archaeological knowledge you need to go back to Anthropology 101. It is difficult enough to understand and assimilate to a culture and worldview *which still breathes*. It simply isn’t going to happen when the culture, in the polytheistic state, has been dead for a very, very, very long time.

          Even recons don’t get close to what was, that is just a lie our community tells itself to assert an ideology of Superiority against what is perceived as the “other”.

          • TadhgMor

            Which has absolutely nothing to do with my point, except being a swipe at recons.

            I’m damn well closer to the ancient Gaels than any of the New Age fools I see try and talk about “Celtic paganism”. Especially since we aren’t only working with fragmentary archaeology. Textual traditions are wonderful.

            No one but you has made any mention of superiority.

          • thehouseofvines

            Uhm, technically not true. In addition to Conor’s comment I pointed out that my ancestors were heavily literate at a time when yours were still painting themselves blue and swinging from trees. Which doesn’t actually further dialogue but is still fun to point out.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            Except it has everything to do with what you’ve been saying. Since the crux of your arguments have relied upon a conception of culture and the assumption that you are somehow assimilating into a particular culture, a culture which does not exist.

            Was it a swipe at Recons? No, it was a critique of a community which I happen to belong to and have seen fall victim to a misunderstanding of how cultures work and function.

            As for the textual tradition, doesn’t really help much. Other living cultures have textual traditions yet that does not make them any easier to assimilate to or understand, the same goes for those with oral traditions. You will not assimilate to another culture, full-stop and the notion that you can is plainly absurd. Whatever you come up with will require hearty amounts of innovation and gap filling. Even if you had something as rich as the ancient Athenians (lets talk about a rich literary tradition eh?) that still will not facilitate understanding the culture as it understands itself or even guarantee that you will have a sufficient understanding of the culture *at all*.

            This is a critique by a Recon, for Recons. We need to get out of the mindset of Civil War reenactors and into a mindset that takes into consideration how cultures ACTUALLY functioned and discard the notion that we can assimilate into cultures and ways of life that have long been dead.

            We are all doing new stuff, yes, even Recons.

          • TadhgMor

            The “culture as it understands itself” is dead. So of course we will never reach that. The pagan culture at least.

            But to say “We are doing new stuff” is a vast oversimplification.

            Also, Gaelic culture still lives. I don’t know about whatever groups you are part of, but that’s important to me.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            Of course the Gaelic culture still lives, so does Hellenic culture, and “Teutonic” culture, but none live as they did when they were polytheistic, and the “popular theology” of a people heavily affects how they view the world around them and why they do what they do.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            And the ideology of Superiority is implicit rather than explicit. It isn’t hard to read between the lies and see the thinking underneath.

          • TadhgMor

            Or, it’s something you’re reading into because you’ve accepted that narrative already.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            I’ve seen it first hand bucko.

          • TadhgMor

            Where? In which groups?

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            Well, since I’m a Hellenic Recon, mostly within a sundry number of Hellenist groups, but I’ve also experienced it in conversation with Paganachd, Sinnerschad (spelling on that? Doesn’t look right) and some Heathens.

          • TadhgMor

            Sinnsreachd is what I think you meant? I have no truck with them, I don’t like them using the term “tuath” to refer to tiny religious communities. That’s just affectation. They also have some folkish tendencies in my experience.

            Paganachd, is defunct as far as I know, mostly part of Gaol Naofa now.

            I will say this. Trying to be accurate is superior to just completely ignoring history. But I don’t think any notion of “superiority” plays into it. It’s not a “superior” religious practice in the sense that it is better than another religious practice. People can do what they will; I only care when they start doing things that hurt me and mine. You want to call yourself the Wiccan king of Tara and the reincarnation of King Arthur? Sure. Just don’t try and confuse your people with mine.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            I’ve recently (less than 3 months ago) talked to some folks who call themselves Paganachd, so take that for what is worth.

            Most of the people who you are making this allegations against or calling “New Age” etc, I know personally, and I definitely know that they are VERY historically informed. And yet, they don’t bind themselves to only what existed within the archaeological record. They synthesize it in a realistic fashion with what currently is.

            Some of the worst reconstructionists I know are [fill in the blank] Recons, since they forget that it isn’t just mere mimicry, but synthesization with the realities of modern life.

          • TadhgMor

            Using the term and being part of the group are different. The term is used more widely.

            You are claiming Coru Cathobodua is very historically informed? Because….I have some news for you. There’s a few big errors on their site. Or are you referencing someone else?

            I’m not worried about groups that synthesize in a realistic fashion. I’m worried about group that start bringing in Romanticist theologies and modern Wiccan practices and claim it as traditional. ALL groups synthesize, we don’t disagree there. But there is a difference between promoting a new culture based heavily in history, and inventing practices wholesale or borrowing and combining various traditions into an eclectic mishmash of cultural appropriation the practitioner doesn’t really understand.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            I don’t know enough about Coru Cathobodua to make an assessment on them.

            Your assertion that there is only one correct theology or set of theologies for a recon is extremely bothersome. Orthodoxy is undesirable and unrealistic. When I look at the theology of polytheistic Athens throughout time I have to tackle with the fact that there were a plethora of ways of thinking about the gods and that the dominant theological outlook shifted throughout time and depending on which group you were looking at.

            So, simply by that fact I don’t think it is wise to dismiss “Romanticist theologies” wholesale. There are some dangers to them, such as the fact that they tend to emphasize positive and “nice” traits in a deity, sometimes to the point of excluding traits that might make a Romanticist uncomfortable. I cannot say that theology is unimportant, as your theological understanding will affect how you function in the world, but I can say that limiting theologies to a specific “set” will only contribute to stagnation.

          • TadhgMor

            This is not an assertion I have made. My assertion is to reject cultural appropriation by outside groups and eclecticism as harmful to the maintenance of historically oriented traditions. Just look at how Wicca has redefined completely a number of Gaelic holidays.

            I dismiss them entirely because the only good qualities they bring I already see elsewhere.

          • https://undertheowlswing.wordpress.com/ Conor O’Bryan Warren

            Your reasoning for a lot of stuff is that their theologies are “incompatible”. You’ve said it here yourself, I suggest you go back and read your own words. Perhaps you did not mean to imply such a thing, in which case I suggest you select your words more carefully.

            Yes, Wicca has redefined a number of Gaelic holidays. Also look at how Wicca opened the gates for folks like you and me to be doing what we are doing today. I know an awful lot of Recons who wouldn’t be as such if they didn’t stumble into Wicca first. Wiccans aren’t the enemy.

          • TadhgMor

            No the only thing I’ve said that with is Feri, not “a lot of stuff”. I stand by that as well. Feri is not a historically oriented tradition. It grew out of the same general milieu that spawned Wicca. I have no issue with Feri initiates doing their own thing.

            Wicca didn’t open the gates for me at all. It has only ever been a hindrance to me. I have had far more negative experiences with Wiccans and their mistreatment of Celtic traditions than positive ones.

        • Alley Valkyrie

          Feri is not a theology, its more of a shared approach than anything else. There’s nothing about Feri practice that limits one from practicing any religion as it was done by the ancients. You’re looking for conflict where there is none.

          • TadhgMor

            Then your information about Feri is extremely different than all the available information I can find online.

            Because it sure looks to have a theology to me.

            Also, you still haven’t explained how that is compatible with Celtic polytheism.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            The available information you can find online means very little. Feri is compatible with just about any religious practice. I know Feri initiates who are Celtic polytheists, Buddhists, initiates in Santeria, Tantrics, the list goes on and on.

          • TadhgMor

            But you still haven’t explained HOW that works.

            I don’t know the Feri side, but if someone is a Celtic polytheist and even halfway historical about it, what you are saying makes no sense. Unless you’re talking about the modern monist “polytheist” types, in which case it does.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            You’re asking for an easy explanation that does not exist in simple terms. I can’t just “explain how that works”. Again, the best short statement I can say is that Feri is much more of a shared approach than a set theology. Specific theologies vary between lineages. But there’s a shared philosophy and methodology that runs through all the lineages, and that philosophy and methodology does not contract with any specific religious practice.

            Its what you’re saying that really makes no sense. You’re drawing a line in the sand based on information that you then admit that you aren’t quite up on.

          • TadhgMor

            The term “shared approach” has some meaning to you but it has none to me. I don’t understand what you are saying.

            How can a philosophy and methodology not conflict with other practices that have their own sets of those?? Here, I can go specific. What do you go with food stuffs given in offering?

          • Alley Valkyrie

            There’s nothing in Feri that dictates food stuffs given in offering. There’s nothing in Feri that dictates any of those sort of things. Again, you’re still stuck in a giant misunderstanding about the nature of Feri. IT IS NOT A SET OR SPECIFIC RELIGIOUS THEOLOGY as you think it is. I don’t know how else to say that so that you hear it. There’s not dogmatic set of rules and practices around how to worship and give offerings to specific Gods. It doesn’t work that way. My being a Feri initiate affects how I work with the spirits under the bridge near the river, but there’s nothing in Feri that dictates specifically how I act towards and treat those spirits. That knowledge comes from other experiences, other paths, other teachers.

            Shared approach means just that, again I don’t know how else you think it can be explained. There is a short list of core beliefs that we share. We agree on a philosophy behind the practice for the most part. Other than that, its very individualistic and experiential, and varies greatly.

            We went through this exact sequence a few months ago when you were so insistent that Feri was neo-Wiccan. For someone who claims to regard scholarship so highly, it surprises me the way you repeatedly dismiss first-hand sources in favor of your second-hand assumptions.

          • TadhgMor

            The only “first-hand” source is you, and quite frankly, I don’t consider you a reliable source. When ALL the other information disagrees with you, it leads to some issues. If the public information on Feri is so bad, why do you not work to fix it?

            Quite frankly you seem to be one of the most prominent New Age types on this site and your behavior is only underlining why I do not like such individuals. All you’ve done is claim I do not know anything while neglecting to explain yourself.

            Not to mention claiming I don’t understand my own tradition, which is a significant insult.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            Wow, way to be insulting as well as extremely disingenuous. You don’t have ALL the other information. You have a few websites, and I’m not the only person to tell you that you are wrong. In the discussion a few months ago, a few other Feri initiates told you that you were mistaken. Do I need to pull quotes from that thread, or can you admit that you’re misrepresenting a situation? As for why I don’t “work to fix” what’s public on the Internet, that’s a rather ridiculous suggestion. Again, you don’t seem to understand that Feri is a greatly divergent path, and that all initiates are equal in agency. There is no hierarchy. I can’t “fix” what anyone else says or thinks, and as someone who does not think that lots of public information about Feri on the internet serves any positive purpose, I’m sure as hell not going to put out information on my own to counter what is out there.

            I have nothing to do with “New Age” whatsoever. You really get off on making judgements about people and situations you know nothing about.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            And for the record, I’m a Feri initiate myself, so when I say that what’s online means very little, I’m speaking from deep first-hand knowledge and understanding.

  • ridetbred

    i’m giggling a little at the notion that if you don’t want to reconstruct the culture in its entirety (which one would i do, i wonder? 5th C athens? 7th C boetia? 1AD sparta? the culture of an aristos? a cloistered golden age athenian woman? a priestess? a farmwife?) that you’re a romantic neo-wiccan witchcraft practitioner. and hell, i’m a recon polytheist who doesn’t think ANY of those terms are dirty words!
    it’s always the do-nothings who have the nastiest things to say about anyone who is a) doing something and b) willing to speak respectfully to people who are doing something else.
    khairete
    suz

    • DverWinter

      I wonder if it’s still coming back to, it’s all about us, about humans. And human culture. The idea that the gods BELONG to human cultures, they ORIGINATED in human cultures, and if we’re going to have anything to do with Them, we need to REVIVE said cultures because They are entirely incapable of interacting with us otherwise, and want more than anything for that culture to be reborn somehow (because our precious cultures are of maximum importance even to deities). It’s ironic I have to argue against this, as I was always one of the proponents of a generally Recon approach, but because I figure, you don’t toss centuries of human experience with the gods out the window – they probably figured out a few things we could still use today – not because the culture itself was so sacred it was the only way in which we could approach the gods. This fetishization of ancient cultures (which seems rather strange in the face of the many, many problems all of those cultures had) doesn’t seem to have much to do with the gods, and for me, it’s all about the gods.

    • TadhgMor

      You know, if you’re going to insult me at least have the courage to actually respond to my comments, rather than this sort of bullshit.

      • ridetbred

        courage?
        what courage is required?
        you appear to be angry at one person whose practices don’t adhere to your (arbitrary) standards, and are using that as a springboard to trash a conference which doesn’t interest you, and which you don’t plan to attend.
        my giggles don’t require the presence, nor the lack, of courage.
        carry on!
        :) khairete
        suz

        • TadhgMor

          You seem to behave like a troll.

          A conference that does interest me, which you’d see if you bothered to read my comments, and that one person has practices that are flatly contradicted by historical sources and tradition, not “arbitrary” standards. If you claim to be a recon you must not be a very good one if you so flatly reject available sources as being important.

          • ridetbred

            i suppose i’m a bad one. i put more weight in my relationship with the gods than i do in impressing folks on the intrawebz.
            would a troll be someone who makes shit up to instigate discord? like, for example, accusing someone of ‘flatly rejecting available sources?’
            or do you have a source for that?
            khairete
            suz

          • TadhgMor

            Go to the Coru Cathobodua site. They admit, to their credit since many groups pretend they don’t, to using modern Wiccanate practices. That is flatly contradicted by all sources on Celtic and Gaelic practice. Yet you are claiming my complaints are “arbitrary”.