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.