Posts filed under ‘Rambling Posts’

Intro: Why Celtic Paganism is not usually Alt-Right friendly

I’ve spent a fair amount of time for several years reading thru articles about the Alt Right and closely related political/cultural factions that say they aren’t Alt Right, but have many of the same ideas & tendencies. Yes, this has included looking at Alt Right websites, forums, even watching some of their YouTube videos. Reading blogs by folkish & Alt-Right sympathetic polytheists, Heathens & Pagans as well. It’s not exactly a fun way to spend my time, but I’ve considered this research a harsh necessity in today’s world. Likewise, I know many of these folks do the same research in the other direction towards people like me, the “Social Justice Warriors”.

Anyhow, I’ve encountered in several of these places frustration, bafflement and so forth at how most Celtic Pagan spaces do not include them or even that our communities (both online & off) are too feminist/SJW dominated. Typically I see this as a good “problem” for us to have! Alt-right leaning ideas (or ones easily mistaken for them)  do indeed exist in our spaces, as well as in non-Pagan centric Celtic cultural spaces. We don’t always agree on what “counts” as bigotry and cultural appropriation, and in particular I’m not going to call people racist or appropriative, because I feel those terms have become so broadly used that it isn’t clear what they mean. Heck, I myself have been accused of cultural appropriation and various kinds of bigotry, in spite of all my attempts to try following intersectional social justice ideology.  I’m not interested in a debate with any hard-core Alt Righties. I’m open to potential civil discussion with people who don’t dehumanize people who are different from them, and to be fair I’ve had a tendency to do that myself to some folks- and I’ll be talking more about ways I’ve behaved badly and been hypocritical. I’d appreciate people who disagree with me to do the same.

For anyone who isn’t comfortable, that’s fine you do not need to participate. I’ll still be moderating comments for nastiness. I also think we need to have discussions among liberal/left-wing/progressive Pagans & polytheists and I will make it clear when those are internal discussions, likewise with discussions between liberal/leftists who are of non-Pagan religious identities and non-religious identities.  Whew! That was a lot, and that’s just the intro post.

This post series is being done from a primarily religious and cultural viewpoint as an many generations removed Irish/Scottish diasporan American polytheist rather than a secular political viewpoint. If I get ambitious enough I’ll adapt them for a non-Pagan Irish/Scottish cultural interest audience (for both diasporans & natives, whoever’s interested in my blatherings, I’m also happy to link to folks grappling with similar issues in their communities.

This post was inspired by & an indirect response to #9 Politics in Melas the Hellene’s Polemical Topics in Polytheism series.

 

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June 1, 2018 at 1:42 am 10 comments

Midsummer Musings

I typically don’t celebrate the Summer Solstice formally, because Dan & I usually go camping around that time. A couple times when I was at home, I performed an ADF style Hellenic ritual for Helios. For a while my cultural foci were Gaelic and Hellenic, now it’s Germanic & Gaelic. In the Gaelic tradition, the solstices and equinoxes are less important, though there are some associated customs, particularly in Scotland where there is more Norse influence. American style Asatru & Heathenry tends to lump everything into a pan-Germanic blob, albeit with a Norse/Icelandic, slant but I’ve been trying to sort out where the different holidays come from, and what people added in- like “Vali’s Day” instead of Valentine’s Day. Altogether, the customs of Midsummer are very similar across the British Isles, Scandinavia and even in Baltic and Slavic countries- bonfires, herbs and flowers being gathered and believed to have magical properties for health and fertility, wearing flowery wreaths, dancing and mock weddings being performed.

I think there are some holidays that work OK for solitary practice- Samhain for example can be rather quiet and contemplative. But clearly summer holidays are not like that! But we do have community festivals coming up- the following weekend will be the Twin Cities GLBT Pride festival. Totally secular and modern of course, but I can’t help seeing a lot of the same themes, just in a queer-er form. I’m not sure if there will be bonfires, but surely there will be barbeques- this is America after all! Certainly we’ll be having them on Independence Day. People will definitely be having sex, even if it’s less prone to baby-making! Cross-dressing is associated with some holidays- more so with Beltaine & some versions of Samhain, and that will certainly be going on. Drag is a performance, a ritual of sorts, and theatre comes from ritual. Fairies and witches are believed to hang out on Midsummer’s Night.

Aine- the Irish goddess of the summer sun, is also a fairy queen (there may be more than one Aine)

Sol, the Norse sun goddess has Afrodull as one of her epithets, which can be translated as Elf Splendor, Elf Shine or Elf Wheel (more info here- this page is about Yule, but has a lot of speculation about Sol) To me the idea that the Sun goddess was more important at one time in Norse religion rings true, and the author suggests we can see echoes of that in Idunna, Freyja and others as well as a stronger sense of who she is from their Baltic neighbors to the east, as Saule.

In Deitsch lore, it is told that Oschdre (cognate with Anglo-Saxon Eostre) created the colors of the world. Oschdre could be another sun/dawn goddess.

The rainbow flag originally had eight colors representing hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Since the colors pink and turquoise weren’t easily available (the first flags being hand-dyed by Gilbert Baker, who created the flag in 1978) the colors were reduced to a standard six, but I love the symbolism behind the original flag.

So these are my weird brainstorm-y ideas. I’ll sleep on it & see if I can make a ritual out of it- I’m thinking one that’s for the purpose of blessing the GLBT community, with particular emphasis on bi/pan & trans/genderqueer folks.

June 18, 2015 at 8:57 am 2 comments

Yes, Virginia Americans Do Have Our Own Culture(s)

American Culture? by Camilla Laurentine “I cringe a little when I’m told Americans don’t have a culture or worse yet our culture is Consumerism. Yes, modern mainstream American culture holds plenty of consumerism and plasticity, but you guys… We have culture. Historically as a melting pot, we have lots of culture. We may not have quite as long a history as our European brothers and sisters as a nation, but those of us with European ancestry do, in fact, share parts of their culture with them. But as Americans, we do have a distinct identity, and you can either spend your time being apologetic about the not so great things about it or you can decide to embrace the good parts of it and actively work to help change the things that you don’t care for.”

Mariah’s thoughts: Whenever you are tempted to say “generic” i.e. white Americans don’t have a culture, remember all the things you have to explain when you go abroad, or have a foreign visitor. There is also no single “white American” culture, anymore than there is a single American culture. Potlucks are remix of potlatch, a gift-giving Northwest Indian ceremony. Barbecue comes from a Taino word (indigenous Caribbean people who were mostly killed by the Spanish) and entered into both Spanish & French languages. BBQ is the central ritual of most American holidays- at least during the warm months- (Memorial Day, Mother & Father’s Days, Independence Day, Labor Day) I see African-American, Latino and Asian-American families in parks having their own BBQ ritual feasts, with their own twists- eggrolls, tamales etc.

American music in all its diversity, cultural borrowing, outright stealing, blending, glory and tragedy. Complete with icons, fallen idols, pilgrimage sites like Graceland and so forth. Debates about the “true heir” of this or that musical tradition or genre swirl, theories about the tragic deaths of young rock stars abound. The Greeks had a goddess of fame- Pheme, or Klymene the Romans called her Fama. She was also the goddess of gossip. Boy, does she ever have a cult here or what!

Who Are Our American Gods? by Camilla Laurentine “What do I call the God of the railroads that were the lifeblood of the West, which rose in greatness and then fell into obscurity…  And yet this Midwestern Spiritworker living in the heart of Katy Country can’t help but feel the chill run through her as she watches a train cross across the fields of corn in a river bottom.  There’s a God there.  What is Its name?”

April 8, 2015 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

Easter and UUism

One holiday that I’ve often wondered “How does that work in a UU context?” is Easter. I mean, at Christmas time we can talk about the birth of Jesus, and winter solstice traditions and such, and yes there are pagany springy trappings that go with Easter. But it seems much more unavoidably, traditionally theologically Christian, focused on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus,

I was told that one traditional Unitarian view of Easter was a focus on the “resurrection of community”.I guess in a seasonal context that could make sense, since in winter people tend to be more isolated and keep to themselves, while we come out and see our neighbors as spring rolls around. However, this was a theological idea from presumably a much warmer place, so my own interpretation wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense!

On this post here, it’s discussed that in some places, particular the southwestern U.S. Easter is combined with Flower Communion at U.U. churches. “Flower Communion was a ritual developed by Norbert Čapek as a ritual specifically for Unitarians.  He chose to celebrate the diversity of humanity through flowers as no two flowers are exactly alike.  The first Flower communion was held in June of 1923 in Prague just before the summer holidays. According to his wife, Maja Čapek, the ritual was to be more secular in its associations so as to be the most inclusive of all people, regardless of creed.   An important aspect that would grow over time as their neighboring country of Germany grew in power and intolerance of Jews and those of political differences grew deeper.  She stated in a letter[1] that conflating it with Easter would probably not have met Norbert’s approval and an alternative date to June could be to commemorate the last Sunday that he preached which was March 23 before being arrested and subsequently killed by the Nazis in Dachau concentration camp.  These meanings of diversity and acceptance found in the Flower Communion have nothing to do with Easter. I believe the two should be kept separate so that the fullness of each message can be contemplated.”

I completely agree that the two should be separate! Spring Equinox of course, may be celebrated in addition to Easter by U.U. Pagans and earthy humanists- Nowruz, the Persian New Year is also celebrated on the same day. Personally I find the themes of Passover- liberation from slavery and oppression- to be more relevant than Easter. And indeed I do celebrate Passover if one of my Jewish friends invites me to do so. But otherwise, it is not really my holiday. A couple years ago I went to Minicon, a science fiction convention that is held in the Twin Cities during Easter weekend. One of the coolest people I met there was an older Jewish lady from New York. She shared with me, an anecdote- a conversation she had with African-American friends. She told them- you folks need your own Passover! Once again, such a holiday wouldn’t be mine to create or celebrate. A while ago while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and watching all the inaccurate memes posted by my fellow Pagans, I thought about how disconnected St Pat’s is from actual Irish history. It seems like we celebrate Irishness in this rather shallow way without really contemplating what our ancestors (spiritual or physical) went through to get to this country. So maybe we also need an Irish-American equivalent of Passover. There are also various historical events we could be commemorating, such as the Easter Rising. Once again, I feel pretty darn ignorant about Irish history!

April 4, 2015 at 2:49 am 2 comments


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