Originally posted on Pagan Church Lady:

(Contributing to the tag that Anomalous Thracian started.  Please read his many excellent posts with this tag.)

All of my life I’ve heard voices and had seemingly random and frightening spiritual encounters.  I’ve suffered from horrendous nightmares and night terrors.  Medication has never helped – and I never understood how pills could help anyway.  In the religions that I was raised in, the only option when creepy things happened was to reach out to their Highest Power and beg for intervention – which sometimes helped, but only rarely and often provoked more conflict and visitation.  In the Ceremonial Magic tradition I moved to later, it was possible to interact with the spirits that I knew lurked around me – but only if I knew their names, only if I could create the right charts for them, only if they fit into the worldview of the practice, and only if I threatened…

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From writer Amorella Moon:

“…I realized that the way I was encountering the Gods, and the ways the Gods were interacting with me was not only abnormal to most peoples experience, but was also quite frowned upon. I was accused of hubris, lying, being insane, of being an “Attention Whore” and of just flat out being wrong. The Gods don’t do those things, and I was not welcome among the many if I said they did.

In my 15 or so years of courting various Pagan Religions and various modern pagan constructs, I never once found ears that were not hostile to my way of vivid experience of my Gods, and of my inner will to pursue the things my God put before me… Until a couple of years ago when I discovered the small, serous, and rather quiet practice of Modern Polytheism alive and well.

Think about that quietly for a moment… I fought for 15 years alone, harvesting the kind of lonely that would break most people, because my Gods kept saying “No. Not yet. That’s not your path.” And because I listened… It took 15 years to find those who saw my paths worth.”



Oftentimes in the greater polytheistic discussions, outsiders to both specific polytheistic religious practice and Polytheist identity feel that THEY are the target audience of the dialogs, and that they have equal space within the conversations. While the discussions are often inclusive so as to include those who are exploring their religious experiences and identities and affiliations (for example with a specific cult tradition), they are NOT generally intended for the mainstream public community’s entitled curation. In most cases these conversations are happening — often at great investment of time and energy on behalf of the writers, priests, scholars, devotees and leaders — in an approachable and accessible manner specifically as a mode of outreach in order to be readily available to those for whom they could be potentially life-saving (or religiously serving) in nature: other Polytheists, or people who are having experiences which cannot be categorized within the “box” of another social and cultural movement more readily and obviously available to them, who are looking for answers (in the efforts of self-preservation, devotion, and sanity).

Those who “meddle” in these discussions from inside or out of them — magicians who don’t think these distinctions are important, political theorists and radicals who are anti-religious and think that the hashing out of language is totalitarian power-grabbing imperialism, atheists and anti-theists and humanist atheopathic missionaries from way the fuck outside the scope of these dialogs — are doing potentially GREAT AND LASTING HARM to the many of the intended audience, for whom these discussions are potentially life-and-identity-saving structures in the storm-tossed and crushing seas of the unknowably intense experiences of many, many gods. And spirits. And dead people. And ancestors. And -enemies-, who can breed madness inside even the most devoted of minds.

These conversations could be more easily had exclusively and exclusionarily in private between parties who do not need to be constantly reminded what words mean and how to use them. IT WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER IF WE WERE ONLY WRITING IN ORDER TO TALK TO ONE ANOTHER. And we do that, too, the private dialogs and the debriefs and the professional conferencing in order to top-shelf the shit out of our own understandings and credible critical regards. But we’re not “here” for that, in terms of the public spaces. Here we are about outreach and preservation and trust and demonstrating constancy that newcomers to experiences and paradigms that they may not have asked for or sought can -survive- them. These are done as public service to and for a people who would otherwise have no resources, which is known because when many of us WERE those people, we had no resources to turn to: the structures, paradigms, programs, platforms and prodigious magical or spiritual nuances available FAILED because what was happening was DIFFERENT than what they were intended for.

This is outreach. This is life-saving intervention. This is religion. This is real work. This is real life. This is religious rights work. This is human rights work. This is intervention. This is education.




Another take-away from this: those of us leading these specific sets of discussions are not “in it” for ourselves. We’re not hashing out language and doing outreach for our own benefit or to inflate our numbers or to engorge our… egos.

We’re desperately trying to create a resource platform available to others, not for increased readership or click-through traffic, but to increase their likelihood of surviving through the night.

If we seem passionate about it, it’s because we’re dealing with issues at THAT level, not passing hobbyist regard for neat spiritual niches or clever words we learned in a comic book: we’re doing real-life real-world resource propagation for real-and-true demographics of at-risk persons. Many but certainly not all of these are young persons. All of these face potential marginalization and stigma and harm both socially and internally (because of their own process of enculturation through societies and cultures and movements which not only fail to provide adequate space and distinction for these experiences and identities, but instead leverage at them HEAVY stigma, misunderstanding, and even hatred, which can lead to self-loathing and suicidal hopelessness).

In other words?

IF WE SEEM PASSIONATE ABOUT SERVING OUR GODS AND SAVING PEOPLE’S LIVES, maybe it’s because we are passionate about these things, rather than because you managed to “find a sore spot” while flailing at us and our religious rights movement in your blind ignorance. #ThisIsWhyWeNeedPolytheism

Oftentimes when Polytheists begin to discuss their religions experiences and the struggles, burdens, or traumatic periods that can accompany them as a result not only of life-upheaving and sometimes total redefinition of self and place, but the sheer and staggering absence of a paradigm to -deal- with these sorts of things (thanks world-views influenced by secularism or Humanist magical systems or reductive monisms or a mythic archetypal understanding of “stuff”), others from outside of those experiences and paradigms — e.g. non-Polytheists — respond inappropriately, defensively, and with an insecurity that in their cadence they communicate as being more important (or valid) than the vulnerabilities being discussed by the person actually speaking.

Because of the myths of self-importance and “you are someone special!” and “we’re all equal! but we’re not going to tell you what that means…” being perpetuated in our society, and especially in many magical and spiritual communities over the last 45 years or so, these “outsiders” to what is being discussed fail to recognize that what is being discussed is not about them, is probably not about their experiences, and often — no matter how clear the original speaker is in their language — cannot fathom that what is being discussed cannot be fit “into the box” that the listener has been able to place all of their spiritual “stuff” in.

And then the conversation stops being about the original speaker’s vulnerabilities and struggles — a thing that it turns out is often necessary for people to process and share around in some manner in order to make it through those — and it becomes a conversation catered to and curated for the confused listener, who is no longer a listener, but a self-elevated conductor. Because “we’re all the same”, right? They bull-roar into the conversation in passive-aggressive platitudes and faux-humility — often victim-blaming the speaker for their own traumas while still not understanding that what is being discussed is probably NOT something that they themselves can relate to.

Somebody often accurately points out that “these people literally CANNOT understand these things because they’re outside of their world-views!”, but I find this to be a cop-out. There are plenty of things that we as humans can be prevented from understanding, without our behavior becoming assaultive and damaging to others in vulnerable states. A blind person sees no color, but that doesn’t mean that they need to take it upon themselves to deny the color in other people’s lives.

When this happens in conversations with Polytheists, the Polytheists often move into a compliant apologetic space of catering to the entitlement of these interlopers — and they ARE interlopers in this context — and feeling ashamed for having offended somebody with their experience. Because these experiences are intensely vulnerable and can lead to HUGE struggles. But this catering and entitlement enablement does nothing but grant continued permission for the experiences and identities of Polytheists to be defined — and stop-and-frisked on the street — by anyone walking by.

This “identity level search and seizure” is not okay. It is not “equal” and it is not “right” and it is not “safe” and it is not healthy or helpful. It is harmful. It is communicating at an individual and a collective level that one group of marginalized, silenced, and erased people are intrinsically -less- for their experiences than the majority demographic that questions them from their own positions of poisoned insecurity.

This is harm. This is erasure.



From Markos Gage of Pan Fine Art:

For those that don’t know, I make a living producing artwork on the street. I don’t get paid by anyone. What I do it is completely FREE to the public other than what they want to give through donation.

I’ve been awarded a number of titles as being the best busker in Melbourne, I’ve been featured in newspapers, books, radio, international TV as a representative of the culture of the city.

I am a polytheist and consider this work to be devotional, that said, I don’t preach it.

Over the many years of doing this I’ve been attacked by people because my artwork is overtly pagan. I’ve had people try to destroy my artwork, deface it by stealing my own pastels and drawing on it.

They spit on it, urinate on it, and there has been threats of physical violence. I’ve been reported to the city council and police for making indecent artwork – the council brought lawyers into the mix too. (They all gave up. As I am doing nothing wrong.)

Just last week I had a regular preacher setup next to me, telling everyone around me that my art is offence to God and should be destroyed. He labels me a satanist and many other nasty things.

This happens weekly.

I really shouldn’t be surprised, but I am just making art in public for free.



So this one time Xenophon got really confused by losses suffered in war with Persia even after he offered sacrifices prescribed by the Oracles to Zeus… because he’d offered them to the wrong Zeus.



So this one time something like 75% of the clients I’ve ever done professional spiritual services to had previous oaths and commitments that they’d made to gods and/or spirits in a generic Neopagan or magical tradition background that they were a part of and did not recognize that sometimes those beings that they’re engaging with are genuinely real beings external to their minds and the collective human consciousness, with agency and agenda, and that binding oaths are, well, binding. And negotiations out of contracts can come at a steep price. 100% of them were emotionally devastated that the years invested in magical training and community circle-casting had not prepared them for real gods of real consequence, and that now they had all of these undeniable and unavoidable circumstances to deal with, thanks to deals struck in ignorance of the agencied state of the divine powers and spirits of our very well populated universe.

The blows are not merely emotional and personal but deeply social and communal, rippling through their lives in manners that bring about painful questions around past choices and present circumstances, and situations of every sort made upon a set of understandings that experience demonstrate for them did not hold up to the test of time. The questions raised in many cases are deeply personal and can only be answered by they themselves, based on real and lived relationships with the gods and spirits who call to and surround them.