Archive for January, 2014

Dear John

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve just finished reading the latest at The Allergic Pagan, which is a piece about what the author describes as “Jungian Polytheism”. This is a term that has come up quite a bit recently in the blogsphere, and in this instance was written as a follow-up to “Pagan Tea Time” discussions with the bright young Hellenic Polytheist, Conner O’Bryan Warren. I was very hesitant to read this blog post, but I needed to kill some time while my coffee brewed, and there it was.

Afterward I find myself sitting here, frustrated and angry. Not for the usual reasons — the misuse of the word “Polytheist”, for instance, in part because I am thinking about a very useful linguistic bit written by Rhyd recently over at Paganarch linking up the use of the term in different contexts — but instead for what I view as a misuse of psychology. Don’t get me wrong: it is clear that the author has a decent understanding of Jungian psychology and archetypalism, and more importantly, that this is a thing very important (and probably very healing and helpful) in his life. As a person with a background in psychology and mental health work, I have an emphatic support of the use and engagement with balanced psychological structures and innovations and insights, and I believe strongly in the power of well deployed psychological models and mechanics in human development. I wish, honestly, that more people — those of Polytheistic religious identification included — could find beneficial use of the various highly effective tools and processes found in the proper use of a century of psychological theory and therapeutic development. And despite the author’s clear navigation of Jungian concepts, I am struck with a resounding chord of revelatory despair, in realizing that…

He’s actually driving people away from Jungian concepts, by the continued direct (or borderline or indirect or passive aggressive) equation of its principles to those of World Religions, historical and otherwise. Psychology is not religion, even when it draws upon religious ideas to increase effectivity of deployment and use. What the author is describing is, pure and simple, highly effective psychology. However, he continues to use language and structures and ideas that link it erroneously to religion, and presents it as a religion. Why this matters is that, for better or worse, this is an author who people continue to read and turn to through his blog, and instead of guiding people toward healthy relationships with Jung, he is leading them into a blurred and distorted place existing in a fabricated gray area between religion and psychology, which I feel Jung himself was always clear to avoid, even when drawing upon religious thinking prolifically in his work. Every single Polytheist that I know has had their understanding of or relationship to these incredibly important psychological terms and structures and toolsets soured — possibly irreparably — by this author’s apparent “crusade” to enjoin Jungian Archetypalism to World Religion. (I am still unclear what he’s actually been trying to accomplish this last year in constantly assaulting and critiquing and colliding with Polytheist religious views, since his actual writing on Jungian stuff has been pretty decent… when left to stand on its own, disconnected from the drama he seems addicted to stirring up and passive-aggressively condescending at, while calling people offensive things.)

But it is not my intent now to question the author’s motives. Instead, I want to actually submit a plea to him:

Please stop. You obviously know stuff about the healing impact and the stabilizing presence that archetypal process can have in a human’s life. What you don’t seem to know a lot about is theistic religion. Just as I encourage people who are not psychologically or clinically informed to steer clear of using diagnostic language (such as calling people nutters, schizophrenics, or “accusing” them offensively of having Tourette Syndrome) I think that those without a presented background or deployment of theological or theistic terms should probably steer clear of using language derived from those things. Obviously this isn’t black and white, but there are some basic common-sense guidelines to proceed with. There is a reason that in universities across the country Jung is taught as a founding father of modern psychology, not a religious leader or theologian. Since you have an obvious understanding of the importance of healing, I am willing to make what I hope is not an erroneously leap in assuming that you actually have a preference for healing-over-harm. It is the opinion of many Polytheists, some of whom keep trying to communicate to you in a number of ways but many others of whom do not have a platform for such or the command of language the way that they perceive you to, that your engagements with our communities, our ideas and ideologies, and indeed our identifying language and descriptors, is actively causing harm, rather than promoting Jungian avenues of healing. There needs to be an understanding of things like religion and psychology as being separate from one another for either to exist at all with any intact and valid meaning.

Let me use an example, stepping outside of the realm of religion for a moment. Let’s pretend that what we’re discussing is roleplaying games Dungeons & Dragons, such as or Werewolf: The Apocalypse, or Champions. Let’s pretend that there is this group of prominent roleplaying voices, authors, developers, players, playtesters, and even artists — or the parents or spouses of hardcore gamers! — occupying a special little corner of the internet, pressing words and ideas out and generally celebrating through electronic connection our love of roleplaying games. Some of them might be writing about the mechanical aspects (d20 or d10 or d6, bitches?) while others might be throwing structured rule systems out the window altogether ala Diceless Amber and focusing on story and character cohesion, with an emphasis on the narrative side of things. Others still might be advocating for wargames as being in some way related, (but those people would be ridiculed until they started their own forums someplace else). And then there arises a topic of discussion across a number of blogs: the healthy and even life-saving qualities of roleplaying games in countless tens of thousands of people’s lives in the forty some odd years that they have existed in this way. The topic would address the transcendent quality of mere “entertainment fantasy games” into major structures of creative, psychological, sexual and social development, wherein players and storytellers alike can explore issues of moral or social consideration through the safety of a fictional environment, or even unconsciously work through real-life issues through fictionalized catharsis; battling dragons or hunting vampires or beating up space-monsters or solving sea-city Ripper style murders in a steampunk backdrop, thereby feeling empowered by their character’s exploits and successes (or learning from their failures!), when perhaps in their own lives the players are hit with the reality of unaffordable bills, a broken job market, a broken healthcare system, or chronic illness in their immediate family, issues which they are objectively helpless to address or resolve. Roleplaying games have long provided complimentary benefits to these and more, enriching the lives of gamers throughout the world.

But roleplaying games are not psychology. They are not overseen by trained professionals in safe environments. They do not have structures or controls in place to ensure the psychological or emotional or physical safety of those suffering from real and serious and imminently present psychological distress, diagnostically or otherwise. A major element of what makes the enriching and healing and empowering quality of roleplaying games so damn effective and transcendent is the very fact that they are games and are intentionally fictional in structure and flow. They are not real. And every single major roleplaying book ever published has a whole section addressing this fact: blurring the line between “real life” and “roleplaying fantasy” is a dangerous and ill-advised thing.

Nevertheless, no psychologist in the world worth their weight in Prozac could argue the positive gain of a healthy creative development, of hobbies, of stable and consistent (regularly gathered) social peer groups, and so on. Nor can they argue against the potent healing power of the act of adopting the role of a person or situation outside of objective reality, for the purposes of healing and therapeutic progress… which is why psychologists have been using role-play in therapy for fucking ever. It is important when psychologists are discussing therapeutic role-play to emphasize the therapeutic structure and purpose of the exercise, and to clearly delineate the “start” and “end” of these periods of fantasy engagement. These techniques can be used in one-on-one sessions to help a person overcome social insecurity and find their voice in addressing somebody not physically present in the room, “rehearsing” what they might say to this person if they could (whether in preparation for an actual conversation, or for purely cathartic release, as in the case of somebody who has passed away and is no longer seen as conversationally accessible.) Similarly these techniques can be employed with returning soldiers and other trauma survivors in individual or group settings, or even in therapeutic theater groups for the purposes of working through shit. Role-play can also be highly effective for resolving psychological distress in a sexual context, and there are professionals who emphasize the safety and structure of that side of the work as well.

All of these examples showcase the transformative and transcendent power of role-play. None of them, however, is an example of a roleplaying game. If a therapeutic theater professional were to join a discussion about roleplaying games and attempt to equate these two endeavors, this would be universally seen as destructive and dangerous, as it detracts from the positive offerings and integrity of each of the two things — therapy and entertainment — and encourages some to take therapeutic exercises as merely “a game” or similarly encourages some to blur the lines between reality and fantasy in intentionally fictional roleplaying games. Both therapeutic theater or psychological role-play and games like Dungeons and Dragons are highly, highly important, but they are simply not the same thing, and to engender a connection or equation between them is fucking terrifyingly dangerous.

This is no different. (And, before I am taken out of context in this, the above is an apt illustration and nothing more: I am not in any way equating religion, Polytheist or otherwise, to role-playing games or entertainment, and in fact I will be writing about that issue in the near future.)

That Jungian psychology draws from language and structures Jung himself found in studying religion and spirituality is unavoidable, and that psychology itself has been proven time and again to be highly effective in treating illness or leading to a deeper and more profoundly healthy sense of stabilized and secure Self is similarly statistically inarguable. But that doesn’t make it a religion. It makes it a psychological tool that draws upon some religious flavors for an entirely different reason. Psychology can lead to religious experience, but that is not its design, nor its structured purpose.

Religions, especially Polytheistic and animist religions, may bring about healthy change and development in a person and in their communities, and indeed may draw communities together, but they are not primarily intended to help a humans with human concerns, internal or otherwise. They are intended by their very nature to be concerned with Other-than-human communion. Any psychological gain found in religious pursuit is a bonus, a boon for certain, but these should not be considered the primary goals or objectives of devotional religious practice… which is why priests around the world are ethically (and in some cases legally) required to refer clients or community members or congregants to medical or psychological professionals when faced with severe psychiatric distress. (This is even more true in Polytheism, where often the “effect” of experiencing the gods directly can appear as psychiatric distress, in what Rhyd refers to as “Divine Trauma”; being able to acknowledge a difference between psychological distress and religious experience is paramount to healthy and continued Polytheist traditions, where mental illness is not judged with stigma and bias, nor are signs of spiritual experience labeled as mental illness, even when the two may look similar.)

Polytheist religionists and spirit-workers are faced with many obstacles in the 21st century. One of them is that things like religious/spirit-possession — which psychology in proper practice accounts for in its diagnostic criterium when assessing a patient on intake — are faced with major stigma because of how they can “appear” or seem to an outside view, and similarly that since mental illness is a very real thing, there will be the temptation for some to find religious explanation for a diagnostic state that they would be better served seeking medical counsel around. This job is made insurmountably more challenging by authors like The Allergic Pagan, who continue to blur the line between psychology and religion; it is for the safety of people, and the integrity and learned intent of each of these two different pursuits that they must remain understood as separate from one another, even when they may have some overlapping (or borrowed!) avenues of employment. Priests around the world draw from the advancements of psychological understanding in offering counsel to their communities, but they would be ethically remiss if they thought that this meant that they offered the same thing as a clinically-trained staff of mental health professionals and diagnosticians, in the case of legitimate psychological distress and healing.

The author clearly doesn’t believe that his Jungian pursuits are theistic, and so his attachment to the term “polytheistic” makes no sense. In fact, he says so directly here, while nevertheless attempting to justify his use of the term:

But why call them gods?  That’s a question I really didn’t get to when talking to Conor.  The reason I call them “gods” is because I can’t think of any other word that adequately describes the overwhelming influence that these powers have over our lives. [snip] And that’s the other reason why I call them “gods” — because I respond to them the way I would to a god, by honoring them in sacred ritual.  And invoking these “gods” can have the same effect within me that many people experience by praying to traditional gods, such as emotional healing and personal transformation.  Can they help me get a job or a lover?  Of course they can: by helping me to change, so I can change my circumstances.  So that’s where the –theism part of the “Jungian polytheism” comes from.

[Emphasis mine.]

Which kind of reads like another way of saying “‘Polytheism’ is a really cool word, and it totally means important things to people, and since I can’t come up with anything applicable to what I am discussing that also means really important things, I am going to borrow it and defend this irrationally and then ‘put quotes around it’ so I can get away with it”. This argument is sort of like a medical nutritionalist deciding that since different food groups are very important in a balanced diet, the different food groups should be called nutritional pantheons, and therefore the different foods in each group are gods, creating the new-fangled religio-medical field of cross-pantheonic nutritional polytheism (CPNP!) which is just fucking silly, because the field of nutrition is in no way served by trying to reinvent itself as a religion (nor is religion overall in any way bettered by being equated to dietary discourse or calculation). Similarly it would be like saying “I really like the company and companionship of dogs, and a part of my soul is completed when I am embracing such a canid, or running with one on a trail. I don’t have a word for this, so I think I’ll call it zoophilia, even though I don’t in any way attribute sexuality to this thing at all. I’ll just call it that because -philia means something really important to a lot of people, and lacking any actual word to define my fondness for dogs, I’ll just co-opt this inappropriately applied term and then get in a bunch of internet flame wars defending it, or get misunderstood and arrested by somebody who doesn’t get that I don’t mean it that way”. (Again, not comparing polytheism to sex with animals, either.)

One reason why I feel that a lot of Polytheist religionists are seeking to distance themselves from mainstream Paganism or Neo-Paganism is that many “Big Tent” Pagans seem intent to equate their Paganism to everything but religion. Many of them seem to strive for religious recognition from outsiders but eschew any structure or behavior suggesting actual lived theistic religious pursuit internally, far more interested in equating things with psychology or with magic or with non-theistic philosophical pursuit. A large movement of Polytheists today are beginning to organize into religions and religious communities, rather than merely loose confederacies of socially-identified groups with anything-goes sentiments. These Polytheist developments are not interested in destroying or detracting from the meaning of other groups or fields (such as Jungian psychological archetypes!) but instead separate themselves as being interested in different things. These interests have been met with hostility and assault and now the basic theft of language, in an attempt to further blur the lines between religion and everything else. But this present writing isn’t about Polytheists, per se, so I digress.

I really, really wish that more people had an understanding of (and access to resources to provide guidance in) Jungian psychology, as well as other tools of incredibly helpful psychology and psychotherapy. In fact, almost every single Polytheist that I know well can attest to the fact that I am constantly advocating for an increase in psychological awareness and sensitivity and pursuit within Polytheistic circles, so that the oft-overlooked human sides of issues — whether individual, behavioral, emotional, or social-collective — can be addressed and resolved in ongoing continuum to allow for the unsullied theological and structural developments of our Polytheistic religious endeavors. I firmly believe, and regularly fucking advocate for the stabilizing of human elements in religious life (e.g. psychological considerations, sociological engagements or resolutions), as preliminary foundation work before leading up to direct theistic engagement, when such a period of time is possible (e.g. before the gods pluck a fucker up and have Their way with them). Similarly I would love to see — but do not dogmatically insist upon — people primarily interested in non-theistic, non-religious pursuits to explore where religion might fit in their lives, and what a devotional practice might bring to their lives, and to the continued relations that they hold with their ancestors, with the spirits of the land that they inhabit, and so forth.

The key thing here is that everyone has need of (or at the very least, place for!) both religion and psychology, just as a person can both play Dungeons and Dragons and dress up like a fucking Ninja Turtle for kinky bondage sex with their local pro-sub, and show up at their psychological counselor’s office to do some therapeutic role-play of a conversation that they really really really wish they had had with their deceased child before it was too late; involvement with all three of these does not in any way threaten the existence of the others, but similarly, a hard and understood-as-solid boundary between them is vital for the healthy engagement with either. (A psychologist is less likely to be comfortable with your crotchless Ninja Turtle costume as your pro-sub, and your pro-sub might be less interested in your dice than your gamer buddies from across the way, unless you have a really awesome pro-sub, in which case, don’t fuck that shit up.)

Ahem.

So, anyway. The point here (I swear I still have one) is that things are different than one another because there are many things, and attempting to make them all one thing is dangerous, injurious, and mathematically unsound. It doesn’t make sense, and it will always hurt somebody, and frequently it is an unhelpful shortcut in actually communicating what you are trying to promote in your pursuits. (I am guessing that it is not the author’s intent to drive people away from further engagement with Jungian concepts, for example, and yet that is exactly what is happening.) Attempting to present psychology as religion only succeeds in weakening the value and meaning of both of these things, when there is absolutely no reason why they cannot just be treated as separate and encouraged to exist together in a person’s life or framework(s) for living, devotionally and interpersonally and spiritually and socially and psychologically. Attacking the space between these things can lead to not only a degradation of meaning and structural integrity and the alienation of people on either side of the topic, but it is just senseless and trollish and as with all trollish behaviors on the internet, invariably indicates some unresolved internalized insecurities. Now as I am not in the business of calling anyone I’ve never met insecure (ha) I will not assume that this is the case with the author, and instead assume that he just doesn’t really understand how two things are not the same thing, which is why they are two things. (Pert Plus being the only exception this rule, ever, outside of syncretic polytheism.)

So please, please… think about these things, about the space between religion and psychology. It is perfectly fine (and even probably useful) to discuss that space, where there is overlap — and in fact I once spent years doing exactly that within my psychological and sociological academic pursuits — but it is an ethical imperative that we all of us strive to delineate and differentiate these structures from one another, for the sake of the very people we as authors, leaders and voices, are supposing to help with our written endeavors.

calvinandhobbes_wapwapwap

 

Disclaimers: I do not endorse the view that religion and roleplaying games have a comparable relationship to one another outside of abstract illustrative metaphor, and in fact, I find that (as with psychology and religion) these areas can sometimes be blurred to a dangerous and harmful extent. Further, I do not endorse nor advise sexual cruelty to animals, or any cruelty to animals, nor the sexual objectification of animals, nor do I advise or support the co-opting of linguistic identifiers which describe the sexual fetishism of human-to-animal sexual encounter for any purpose at all. I also did not intentionally mean to fetishize Ninja Turtles for anyone, or for that matter shame anyone who already does so and owns crotchless Ninja Turtle kink attire.

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Another angle of progress

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

Living authentic religious tradition, living authentic and integral honor and realized fucking authenticity, isn’t always about gods and trees and Jung. Sometimes it is about repairing the fucking world you live in, at the social or criminal or linguistic or cultural level. Sometimes you can do this with your words, often you can do this with your actions, and every once in a while you need to do this with a Molotov cocktail. But for now, let’s save the liquor for libation, and try to use our words. (Or in some cases, the witholding of words, when they do naught but stall and stagnate the progress others toil to achieve for the betterment of all.)

Corvus Cardia addresses one of our culture’s most pervasively fucked up issues head-on today, here, wherein she says, on the subject of rape culture and related social considerations:

Change isn’t easy. Growth isn’t comfortable. Writing this is also about challenging ME to sit up, take notice and fucking do something about it.So what are YOU going to do today?

To which I add:

This. A hundred percent this. Fuck the injurious culture, fuck the permissive douchey whining from a place of challenged privilege, and fuck the culturally endorsed insecurities that hurt women and all-too-fucking-often prevent boys from ever becoming men. Fuck the hetero-centric entitlement-ego-engorged worthless men who can’t see past their own fragility to step the fuck up and bring change to this pattern of pervasive disregard, and fuck the men who can’t find it in their tiny little hearts to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down if they aren’t capable of being part of the process of progression and change. Fuck. Also, fucking props to everyone — men who ally themselves appropriately to these endeavors, and the courageous and inspiring women who take a stand against this shit. But seriously. Fuck the fact that this is even “a thing”, and fuck everyone who is a godsdamned part of keeping it that way. Change is still a thing, people, even in 2014: to get it, we need to actually progress (e.g. move, preferably in a forward sort of direction) ahead, and if you find that your tires are flat or the tread of your boots worn to a dangerous smooth, do the rest of society a favor and just get the fuck out of the way. Silently. Like corpses.

And now for coffee. And Irish whiskey.

Polytheist Whiskey Time

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

So I’m not much for tea (unless it is being served by a really cute individual who is not charging me money and wants to sit and talk about sacrifice or whiskey or cigars or ravens or knives while we enjoy ridiculously tasty tea that I do not need to concern myself with the preparation or procuration of) so this whole “Pagan Tea Time” thing just doesn’t work for me.

However, because of my recent confession that I might in fact actually like people, I am totally going to see that “personal engagement over hot drinks” wager and raise it with the inclusion of hard liquor.

I hereby propose Polytheist Whiskey Time. (“Whiskey” can be substituted for rum, gin, moonshine, rotgut, wine, or high-quality ales and craft beers, as appropriate. Beer and wine are only acceptable if clever things can be said about the specific vintage/brew being consumed, regardless of whether they are in fact true.)

Anyone who is willing to meet up with me for hard liquor (careful: I sometimes drink whole fire departments under the table, and am *not* a cheap date, if you’re looking to treat) or cask-conditioned ales or carbombs or multiple bottles of delicious dark wine (or port) or whatever, whether in person or through some kind of awkward technological interfacing, I’m totally down. However, I’m also a videophobe. True story. Videos freak me the fuck out. (This goes back to my fifth birthday party, wherein I was videotaped and sort of had a bad day, and wound up in a fist-fight with a bunch of people and then got a time-out but accidentally put a bunk-bed through a wall in protest and basically didn’t get my presents, and the whole damn thing is on VHS somewhere, and this was shown to everyone ever in the history of my life as a means of humiliating me in my childhood, which while totally effective, is also totally awesome, because in that video I totally took on a 240 pound adult with not but fists and fury and I think a stack of construction paper hurled in the air for misdirection purposes. Also that bed was solid oak, motherfuckers.) Anyway, yes, childhood issues aside — maybe I need to do some further Jungian psychological work to heal those videophobic traumas? — I really dislike videos, and so, things like Skype or Hangouts or whatever the cool kids are doing these days? Not my cup of tea. (Ha, tea, get it?) However, pour me a big enough cup of whiskey, and you might be able to convince me. I may, however, wear a mask. Because the only thing better than overcoming personal obstacles is watching a Thracian try to drink whiskey through a ritual bird-mask’s beak.

For that matter, I’m totally down to spark up a hookah or steal cigars from your humidor, too, if you’re local.

Also for that matter, can more people please buy themselves some humidors and keep a decent selection of cigars on hand for hospitality offerings? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the whiskey (and most people have that around), but there has been tragic little sharing of nice tobacco (unless I bought it) in my vagrant meanderings these last five or six months, unless it came from my holdings, which are always slim in selection (because humidors don’t stay humid when stored in -10° vans overnight. Because cold.

Another great piece from Wildermuth. 

Except I disagree that

“one can be a Monotheist… while still acknowledging the existence of many gods”

as there are other terms for this, such as henotheist (which is the dedicated worship of one god without argument against the existence of the many gods). A Monotheist does not merely practice engagement with one god, they define their definition of the word “god” by the exclusion of other possibilities — which is a lot like what is happening now in these issues around the language in other theological discussions. Polytheism, meanwhile, does not argue against the existence of any gods, nor does it define itself by the absence of psychological archetypes or the sacredness found in Nature. Yet many Nature-based Pagans seem to take offense to discourse from hard polytheists on the reality of the gods (as if somehow the reality of the gods threatens the sacredness of Nature, rather than complimenting it..?) and Humanist Pagans do the same with their arguments, as if the reality of the gods dismisses the reality of archetypes.)

I have never heard a Polytheist argue that there is no such thing as an archetype or that Nature is not sacred and deserving of veneration. I have, however, heard both Humanist and Nature-based Pagans denigrate Polytheist acknowledgement of the agency and external existence of the gods, as if the reality of polytheism would somehow invalidate their own practices, beliefs, ideas, or identifications. But, as a Polytheist, I can clearly attest that I in no way argue against the validity of archetypes (insofar as they are defined within the fields of psychology and mythic literature that really lob them into mainstream usage) nor would I ever dare to question the profound sacredness of Nature.

This all seems to boil down to the subject of a scarcity model (as frequently discussed in the polyamorous communities and literature), in this instance a “scarcity of identification” or a “scarcity of devotion”, or a “scarcity of spiritual cohesion”, as if somehow the existence of different lenses of engagement (e.g. Theistic, Naturalistic, Humanistic) somehow cancel one another out. Any well adjusted polyamorous person (and any solidly engaged devotional polytheist) can attest to the fact that “more” does not in any way equate to “less” or “spread thinner in some areas”. More means more. (Polyamory doesn’t demand that one engage with all partners the same way, or hazard that all relationships should look a certain way, or smell a certain way, or sound a certain way. Similarly, Polytheism doesn’t suggest that all deity relationships must look a certain way or smell a certain way or be flavored and scented and structured in the same fashion.)

More equals more. That’s kind of how math works.

One of the Roots of Our Conflicts?.

…Humanist Pagans, whether they’re Jungian based in their approach to mythic and mystic and transcendent themes or not, potentially have a lot to offer the “big umbrella” of Paganism, and even to Polytheists and Polytheist communities. Because holy shit: both Pagans and Polytheists, big tent or small tent or purple Thracian van, are fucking human beings who are possessing of things like subconscious impulse and emotional trauma and questions of speculative self-worth or place in the grand scheme of things and they all totally fall into patterns of behavior in their lives which can be served by an understanding (or the guidance from a group whose spiritual focus is within the pursuit of understanding) of Human-centric issues and schemas, whether these are archetypal or purely psychological or LSD-induced transcendent or meditative or fucking Tantrically engulfed or otherwise. For fuck’s sake, we’re a set of communities made up primarily of humans. So, a set of practices or beliefs or pursuits that focus specifically on those human elements? That’s pretty fucking important.

I really wish that Humanists would stop trying to steal language from Polytheists or shuffle them under the rug of the Big Tent and refocus their efforts on, oh I don’t know, talking about Humanism. Not Polytheism. Work with archetypes? Cool, that’s awesome, SO DO I. You know what would be really fucking cool? If Archetypalist Pagans started sharing their ideas and experiences of archetypes using language that clearly delineates the archetypal quality of their work, and then published that shit for the community to read, because holy fuck that would be potentially helpful for folks who maybe only have experience working with external agencies (e.g. gods, spirits) and are less familiar (or even comfortable) addressing the internal human elements.

But that cannot be done if they keep trying to compare their approach to Polytheism, or if they keep trying to eliminate the difference between these two (well, really, far more than two) things.

One can be an archetypalist AND a Polytheist, by acknowledging both the existence of unconscious inner archetypes (I don’t know any Polytheist who doesn’t understand these things…) and the presence of external agents.

If people focused on doing their own jobs and not fucking shitting all over somebody else’s, that’d be super fucking cool.

Also, while on the subject, Nature-Centric-Pagans: please talk to us more about Nature-centered Paganism. I don’t know any Archetypalists or Polytheists who would ever posit an argument against the sacredness of Nature, or its various organisms and systems, either ecologically or animistically or otherwise. We might suck at certain areas of it, but hey, guess what? That’s why we have you. Well, that’s why we’re supposed to have you. Step it up.

And fellow Polytheists? Good on you. Keep fucking doing that external-gods pious-and-proper devotion thing, because fuck, with all these folks focused on Humans and Nature, SOMEBODY has to account for the gods and spirits and fucking incorporeal dolphins that beach themselves on Thracian Temple floors for months on end.

Fuck.

Have I missed anyone? Probably. And for that I am sorry. I totally probably dismissed and marginalized some people or groups here — I own that, legitimately, without sarcasm — and that was not my intent. I am frustrated. I am uncaffeinated. I am without whiskey. I am physically injured and there is a creepy child staring at me from across the way in this public place. I really, really didn’t mean to be a dick this time. To anyone. (Well, maybe to you, but you don’t count. See? That was funny. I can be funny. Everyone things I’m stoic and humorless but that’s fucking balls, I totally have a sense of humor.) Severity aside, seriously folks: different focuses exist so that a higher quantity of work can be accomplished. If everyone in the world was an automotive engineer, who would make my jetpack or my coffee or my safe-and-healthy-holistic cat food? Who would yell at me when I perform my own surgeries and guilt me into letting them use actual medical training (as opposed to shit-I-made-up-in-the-woods-with-a-knife-and-some-liquor-and-a-fire) to fix my wounds? We need doctors and barristas and cat-food specialists and fucking jet-pack engineers in addition to automotive techs. So fuck. Stop yelling at other people’s jobs just because they are not your job, or if you’re really that insecure about your job, fucking quit that shit and burn the building down and become a professional arsonist or a dog trainer or a dinosaur special-effects specialist in Hollywood or a porn star or a banker or a douchey baker or for fuck’s sake just shut up and play with yourself quietly in the corner.

Also, I actually really love people. I know that doesn’t get communicated often in a clear way. I appreciate humans in all of their diverse forms, especially when those forms or sentiments or platforms of belief and engagement are contrary to my own, because I am always learning from engaging with you all or talking at you all or observing you all or listening to you all and especially drinking with you all (because most people pass out before I do, and that means I can go through their wallets and pockets to find out more about them.) So in case you’re sitting there thinking, “Wow, this Thracian asshole really hates people” or “Holy crap, this dude hates ME”, or “Wow, that guy really needs more hugs in his life”, please know that I don’t in fact hate humans, I probably don’t hate you, but I am totally down for more hugs because really, who gets enough genuine sincere actual hugs in this world? Also whiskey, I’m always looking for more whiskey.
The end.

Standards, self identification, deflection, projection, redirection, culpability, accountability, abrogation, respect, marginalization, victimization, degradation and the removal of and infringements against one’s agency and right to self-identify and exist without direct active assault upon said agency. The difference between passive and active states or behaviors. The difference between being threatened by a passive expression or behavior and being actually threatened by an active behavior. The difference between a legitimate active transgression (and transgressor) and having insecurities and emotions threatened by a passive expression of views or behaviors counter to one’s own realm of comfortable norms. The difference between having one’s boundaries or rights or agency violated and feeling like your own rights or boundaries or agency have been violated by another person speaking up for themselves or their group or defending their right to the aforementioned. The projection of blame at another passive party for perceived insult or offense actually and objectively related to one’s own emotional insecurity and difficulty accepting ownership of said feels. The active transgression against another individual or group in terms of agency or identification or sacred freedom of expression being justified by a feeling of the same directed at them due to not understanding the difference between passive expression and direct active assault.

These are things that people should learn about.

These are not rock science ideas or terms or esoterically complex constructs left to subjective “spin”.

Expressing an opinion on a news article that is counter to the views of the person receiving or witnessing said expression is not an “active transgression”, but a passive expression which is (if communicated appropriately) non-confrontation. But when people encounter views counter to their own, even if those are communicated non-confrontationally, today’s lack of personal and emotional and cognitive accountability encourages the recipient or witness of said views to feel justified in attacking or assaulting the person (or their views) as they “feel assaulted” themselves.

If I am wearing a beard in a place where wearing a beard means something critically bad or criminal or suspicious and I am in line behind somebody in this environment waiting for a coffee, my wearing a beard is a passive expression which is in every way, shape and form a non-injurious and protected and sovereign right. If that person actively engages with me from a place of redirection or confrontation on the subject of beard wearing, or attempts to call into question my relationship to said facial hair, or casts suspicion or communicated judgment or otherwise injurious assumptive leaps at my person through their physical mannerisms or spoken expressions, they are at fault. There is no defense for this sort of prejudicial behavior. It doesn’t matter whether the passive expression in question was a beard, a sexual preference, an ethnic or racial or cultural or religious quality or characteristic, a political view, a local sports team endorsement or whathaveyou. Active transgression to silence, redirect, challenge or otherwise demand that a counter-view submit to one’s scrutiny, suspicion, or bias — whether in a demand of justification or otherwise — is injuriously and outrageously inappropriate, unethical, and is the currency of marginalization and assault upon agency and will. It is what we in the know refer to as “douchemuffinry”.

If I rub my beard on a person who doesn’t like beards or I challenge their lack of beard or I call into question their right to speak or act in the adult world due to their lack of beard, or I otherwise pass obvious and active judgment upon them due to their lack of beards — or if beards confuse you, go back and replace that term with any of the aforementioned other things, like sexual preference or religion — than surely I am guilty of bad tidings and inappropriate injurious expression, active transgression against another.

But if I stand in a line or engage in open-platformed discourse with an opinion, view, stance, or otherwise expression which is counter to a given person or culture’s norms, in an otherwise appropriate and inoffensive (e.g. passive expression) fashion, I have done no wrong.

Dismissing a person’s views because you do not like a thing about that person, whether it is their views or their affiliations or their education or their culture identification or their choice in eyeliner, is douchemuffin behavior which can in some circumstances constitute a violation of agency, if your dismissal communicates mechanically that they have less right to expression than you do, on the grounds alone of your disagreement.

Co-opting the language that another group or individual has used to navigate through the murky waters of marginalized self-identification or the seeking of collective security through shared descriptors in order to strip away specificity and meaning and replace these with a one-size-fits-all “you don’t own that word!” idea is wrong-headed, shallow-hearted, against-society and in absolute violation of the agency of others. It communicates either a disregard for human rights or an extreme insecurity of one’s own identification (individual or collective), or — and quite frequently — both of these. Criticizing a group’s continued expression of the pain of active and consistent marginalization, or speaking on the subject at all in any way other than affirming and protecting that group’s right to identify and express in accurate and appropriate fashion is an assault by association or, at the very least, fucking bullshit laziness and abrogated social responsibility within the shared-world environs we cohabitate with one another and a fucktastically diverse range of beings, spirits, gods and others. Don’t you ever fucking dare to attempt to communicate an ethic of tolerance or acceptance or progressive social or intellectual or cultural or sexual standing if you are not willing to at the very least sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up when these issues come up. Don’t you ever fucking dare to make claims at being liberal or socially informed or ethically motivated if you are going to offer up armchair assault or “yeah yeah yeah!” to those who do on these and related subjects. If you want to be a fucking dick about this shit, that’s fucking great: own it. Be a closed-minded and narrow-hearted and socially ignorant and entitled and privileged individual openly and boldly and fucking proudly. Then you are actually useful to everyone else’s efforts to the contrary, because you showcase clearly and honestly and openly that which the rest of us — those interested in actual progress for all — must measure our distance from as we pass by you, celebrating freedom, celebrating society, celebrating the gods, celebrating love, celebrating conflict, celebrating the peace apart from conflict, an celebrating the fucking beauty of celebration, you dumb fuck.

When I say “douchemuffin”, I mean that.

Stop this shit.

That is all.

(This is what happens when I’ve had neither caffeine (because it is frozen in my van) or alcohol (because drinking a bottle of whiskey in a mall might be frowned upon). I’ll be more profane or profound next time, I promise.)

Guess what, motherfuckers? That’s right, we’re organizing, gathering, and setting shit on fire. (Or at least we will br if I’m still invited.) After some great conversations during a recent visit, Sannion and Galina have moved ahead with a Polytheist Leadership Conference and you better believe that I’ll be there, thraking shit up with a bottle of Scotch and a godsdamned raven. And probably some snakes. Tons of fucking snakes. Because fuck. Yes.

At the end of 2013 a lot of us were feeling shell-shocked from a year of near constant verbal warfare. While conflict is nothing new to our respective religious communities what really stood out was the intensity and viciousness that had crept into our attempts at intrafaith dialogue. Theology, ethics and ritual practice clearly divided us – though where these fault-lines formed often proved surprising. Friendships were tested and strange alliances formed from unlikely places.

2013 was fucking weird when it came to drama, hate-speech-against-polytheists, and so forth. It saw the rise-and-fall of many mini-conflicts and all-0ut flame-wars, and all the while I was there saying “Fuck yeah!” because damnit, this is how change happens.

And change is good. Right? Change is sort of the prerequisite for a thing to be considered progressive, yeah? So fuck all the detractors who toss around claims of conservative ideology when attacking polytheists; as a movement of religions, traditions and lineages we are the most progressive thing minority faith has going for it, in that polytheists are actively calling for a fucking Change. None of that watered-down one-sizes-fits-all, faux-tolerance bullshit. To fuck with that tired trite crap. This is how structures get formed, and the fucking need for structures gets highlighted beyond any fucking wisp of doubt. Static structures wearing the mask of inclusivity to hide the ugly face of bigotry and revulsion and fearmongering douchmuffinry may not burn in the rising of our voices, but we may well raze them with the fires of something very, very old, remembered anew: polytheism, truly lived religion, and a pious dedication to and submersion within the reality of our fucking gods.

“No true progress can be made until we’re willing to meet face to face and work things out in real time. And the things that we’re interested in working out are the meaty issues we so rarely get to because we’re having to defend obvious foundational things online.”

It is a damn good time to be a polytheist.