Posts tagged ‘clann bhride’

Left/Right is a False Divide for Polytheists

Melas the Hellene’s Polemical Topics in Polytheism # 9 Politics

First view: Polytheism ought to follow Liberalism on the left, because religious monotheists tend to take the right.

Second view: Polytheism ought to follow Conservativism on the right, because Liberalism is often antithetical to tradition, religion and culture.

Third view: Polytheism needs both right and left, and at the same time, must move beyond this often stifling dualism.

Despite being staunchly left-wing most of my life, I agree with the third view. To begin with, many will ask why should politics & religion be intertwined, and indeed that they shouldn’t be by citing separation of church and state or freedom of religion as it exists in their given country. But they are confusing government with politics, and how also do we define politics? Many people define it more narrowly than I do, but then I have a bachelor’s in political science and I also enjoy studying sociology.

The division between the so-called left and right is a cultural division, with politics really being a symptom of a deeper divide. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done some great work in explaining the moral foundations that divide us in the United States and to some degree, Canada and other Western countries. Studying his research is something I’ve found very helpful at better understanding how people who are more conservative than me thin. Which is good, because that is most of my country- particularly most of the people who vaguely resemble me both physically and culturally. Conservatives tend to have stronger feelings in several areas that Haidt measures that liberal & classical libertarians are often simply lacking which leads to a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding between these factions. Conservatives often to some degree get it more than liberals do. Here’s a shorter piece about the politics of disgust, which is one of the aspects that started him down the path of this research.

My boyfriend shared an article about this with me years ago, and over time particularly while reading Galina Krasskova’s blog, I noticed the increasing importance of the purity/sanctity vs. disgust dimension in her writing. Part of it was that I recognized it more, but it also seem to grow in importance as she deepened particular aspects of her practice, like emphasis on modesty, purity and piety. Disagreements about these issues with other polytheists became larger leading to a split among factions of bloggers, though I think as time goes on hopefully there will be more of a range of views and dimensions represented. My own views while aligning somewhat with one faction have also grown more nuanced, especially as I’ve deepened my cultural and religious studies. For one thing, many of the fault lines that have formed & the assumptions behind them, don’t fit very well with Irish/Scottish diasporan polytheism or Celtic polytheism more generally I might add, at least as I interpret them.

To be clear about my own biases, I am online friends with several of the writers on the Gods & Radicals staff, though I have only met one of them in person. Several of them are fellow members of Clann Bhride. I’ll admit I’m pretty lousy at being both a practicing democratic socialist and a polytheist, mostly an armchair theorist with both.

Anyhow I’m interesting in getting other polytheists of various political stripes together to compare our scores on Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations research. The questions he has about religion are unsurprisingly, not very relevant to us, but perhaps we could contact him and see if he has any students that are doing psychology of religion research. Let me know if you are interested. Here’s the section of the Righteous Mind website for religious communities. I wonder if it would be more accurate if we had different cohorts or something. Color me rusty on methodology…

Then I’d like to further explore the moral foundations and how they fit with our various religions & cultures.

Note: For my fellow anti-capitalists, for simplicity’s sake I’m just using liberals to include us, even if yes, classical libertarians that word by rights originally belongs to you. But being an anti-capitalist in American politics is rather like being well, a polytheist in the Western religious landscape, most of the time you aren’t really acknowledged to exist in public, and you have a zillion little sects & disagreements that are really important to you, but nobody else knows the difference between your beliefs and another ideology that you consider completely different, thank you very much! Marxists though are generally far more dogmatic and stuck in the past, in my experience…though they could probably compete with online heathens in the macho department!

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June 28, 2018 at 4:17 am 1 comment

Yes, Virginia! Wiccans Can Be Polytheists

One of my values is *sovereignty* and that means respecting the rights of individuals, as well as different traditions and cultures to speak for themselves and define their boundaries. That includes Wicca. Some Wiccans are polytheists. They have explained their polytheism, though they shouldn’t have to, only to have *some* (not all) polytheists explain this away.

This not mean that I accept everyone who claims the label polytheist as polytheist- I have an inclusive definition, but it still has limits, so the word doesn’t become as watered down and meaningless as “pagan” has. Words can have some fluidity in meaning yes, but we need some degree of shared meaning in order to communicate.  I wonder a bit if the adjective might be more helpful than the noun. I also like the Anglo-Saxon “manygodded”- it’s a description, not an “ism”.

I just added this to my Inclusive Polytheism post- since it seems some folks need a reminder-

  • Polytheists do not all adhere to any one political ideology or party, apart from most likely, supporting religious freedom and impartiality towards a variety of religions and non-religious people. (As for separation of church & state- this may very by country)

Granted, there are polytheists out there that have political/ideological and theological beliefs and practices that I have serious moral objections too (racism, sexism, homo/bi/transphobia et al) But I’m not claiming their polytheism isn’t genuine just because I disagree or don’t want to collaborate with them.

There are many religions like Wicca that include polytheists in their midst, but aren’t *only* polytheist by definition. Other examples-

A theistic Satanist or Luciferian might be a henotheist- who focuses worship on Satan or Lucifer within a framework of polytheism, or a more general polytheist.

Buddhism is often depicted in the West as the Super-Rational Atheist-approved No Gods Here! religion/philosophy, but in spite of it tending to be less worship focused, deities, buddhas, boddhisattvas (who are more like saints) and ancestor spirits are honored. There’s also some overlap with Hinduism, and Shinto…and I will just let more knowledgeable folks explain this more.

There is a lot of disagreement about whether polytheistic monism (as found in Hinduism, some types of Neoplatonism, some kinds of Wicca) counts as “true” polytheism. Honestly, I am mostly just sick of the hostility of this debate. If theology nerds want to hash it out in a civil fashion, OK great.

One of my fellow members (indeed a founder!) of Clann Bhride, a devotional Brighidine order I belong to, is Chris Scott Thompson, and he has a well-put together explanation of polytheistic monism here on Patheos- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Agree or disagree respectfully with his theological views or his scholarship- in any case, he knows a lot more about Neoplatonism and Hinduism than I do, but more importantly to me anyway is that he’s a great person who does a lot of good work for his communities and his Gods/spirits/ancestors. We have a quite diverse membership in Clann Bhride and hold these Nine Elements in common, but there is much room for interpretation. Devotion, ethics, and fellowship are to us what matter.

March 11, 2016 at 7:52 am 2 comments

Practice- Simple & Frugal

To add to the self-care virtues, let’s start talking about practice that goes well with self-care. Often-times when we are focused on self-care, the idea of spiritual practice seems like too much to take on. We may be preoccupied with time, space, privacy and money considerations. The key is to start out small and keep it simple. I myself have been trying to keep in the habit of saying a prayer in the morning to Brighid from the Clann Bhride Book of Hours. However it’s on my tablet, and I find it awkward to grab, so I do plan on buying a print copy at some point. I also prefer speaking them aloud, and feel self-conscious saying my prayers in front of my agnostic partner. That’s something I may just need to get over, it’s another aspect of personal insecurity that I need to deal with.

Another tip: Do not worry about what other people think about your spiritual practice. Avoid pagan groups (online or offline) that are negatively focused on ripping each other apart, calling each other fluffy etc. Save being a hard-core scholar/warrior/magician etc. for another day and just do what helps you take care of you and feel good about yourself.

 

Magical Decorating on the Cheap by Tressa Belle, ADF Druid/Heathen

Her blog in general has lots of craft & recipe ideas that are easy and kid-friendly!

Dorm Room Druidism by Michael J. Dangler, ADF Druid Priest
(the following are by the same author)

Reintroducing Solitary Work Into Your Life

Creating the Desire for Worship– how to keep going (important for those of us with depression!)

What to Do if Meditation Isn’t For You

August 5, 2014 at 5:40 am 1 comment

Goals for 2014

Goals I’ve already started on:

*Communicating/getting together with Gaeltacht MN classmates to study Irish. After several weeks of cancellations due to weather, holidays etc. my classmate Sue & I picked a day, time and place for our first meeting, as well as topics to focus on.

*Kickstarting devotional practice- I began participating in Sassafras Grove, ADF’s annual “Brighid along” in which they share prayers and devotional practice for 9 different aspects of Brighid in the nine days/nights leading up to their Brigantia ritual. I heard about this on one of the ADF lists and signed up for their Facebook page to participate. So far I’ve just been reading prayers from my tablet, but that’s a start. My long-neglected altar is decorated for the harvest season, and I need to take down my Yule tree downstairs before I can really celebrate Imbolc properly.  I also am sporadically reading prayers from Book of Hours: Prayers to the Goddess by Galen Gillotte. A new group devoted to Brighid has emerged called Clann Bhride– some folks from the Cauldron forum are involved with it. I’m really interested in taking part in it, and I downloaded their Book of Hours- beautiful prayers and lots of really neat ideas!

*Doing creative stuff- I’m regularly writing on this blog, but would like to get back into crafty-ness. Would be great to combine this with devotion to Brighid. Went to the Crafty Geek meetup a couple weeks ago for the first time, and did a little work on making greeting cards.  That one also connects with the goal of connecting with friends/family. But Crafty Geek meets on Thursdays, which is when we’ve scheduled the Irish study. However, there is a knitting group meeting on Wednesdays, and it is also much closer to where I live & work. I was planning on going to both of them this week, but ended up needing to be at home to show the house to potential tenants (we have the room filled now though!)

Other goals:

*Connect more with family & friends locally and long-distance.  CuteHobbitBoy & I both have relatives that live either close by close enough for a day’s visit, we also have friends that we’ve lost touch with.  Come up with a plan on how to do this (birthday get-togethers, Skype, phone, texting, greeting cards.

*Keep moving in direction of health/finance-wise being able to have kids

*Figure out how I want to be involved in ADF & Unity, and  create plans on how to make it happen.

*Social justice activism- what do I want to do/how do I want to be involved?

I have so many hobbies & interests it’s tricky to figure out how to balance them!

February 2, 2014 at 12:11 am Leave a comment


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