Posts tagged ‘piety’

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

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

No, Thanks: Gods/Heroes I Avoid

One important thing to realize about polytheism is- you don’t have to worship all the Gods of a particular pantheon- or Heroes or Ancestors. Or even certain Nature Spirits- certainly I’ve already given the mosquito enough blood sacrifices! This has been hard for me, because there certain deities that are regarded as So Important and popular that I felt there must be something wrong with me and my attitude. I think we are all drawn to different gods for different reasons, and we need to respect that, and its also important to revisit those reasons now and again, our relationships with gods as with humans change, begin and end and wax and wane.

The Morrigan– the Irish goddess or complex of goddesses of battle and sovereignty. She’s super-popular, I am always seeing people discussing their powerful relationship with Her, the strength she inspires in them. I’m not surprised that she’s popular- people are looking for a strong female role model and woman warrior, and they find it in her, from mere artistic inspiration, psychological archetype, to intense devotion as a priest/ess. She is also one of the most well-attested goddesses in Irish literature who plays a major role in the myths. But reading myths about the Morrigan does not inspire worship or devotion in me. This is a powerful being who revels in the death & destruction of war. Why on Earth would I want to worship that?  I finally felt better about this after reading John Machate’s post about why he does not worship Her. John in a long-time Celtic Recon, and follows a warrior/Fenian path, and a U.S. Air Force veteran.  He’s no fluff bunny, and he has actually experienced war- which is exactly he’s not among Her worshipers.

Zeus– I’ve long had an interest in Greek mythology and religion (since I was a child- guess how I started down this path!)  But Mr. Must Fertilize All Beautiful Women (with or without consent) has been an impediment to exploring that interest further. I decided to anyway, figuring maybe I was too stuck on modern biases but I think it’s understandable for feminists or gender egalitarians (whatever) to have a hang-up on Zeus, and a lot of other Greek gods. I feel like Hellenic polytheists tend to be way to dismissive of these concerns, and assume that anyone who has them is just Z Budapest with their head filled with Edith Hamilton. I’ve been realizing however that I am really a Northern European creature, not a Mediterranean one- and by that I don’t necessarily mean ancestry- that’s part of it, but it’s mostly I get this Not My Tribe feeling from Greek and Italian culture- whether ancient or modern. It’s interesting, and I enjoy learning about it, and maybe participating in a ritual when I have the opportunity, and it’s possible the Theoi still do have a place in my life, but it will be in a different cultural context. Perhaps kind of the reverse of what the blogger at Golden Trail (name of human?) is doing with his Romanized cult of Ingvi-Freyr.

I like Sunweaver’s take on Zeus here.

Founding Fathers/Presidents who were Slave-Owners/Indian massacre-ists etc. 

I’ve talked in the past about honoring Founding Fathers (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson et al.) as Ancestors of Place, as part of an American Hero/Ancestor cultus. I think we need to acknowledge and be honest about our history, however painful and uncomfortable that maybe.  Honoring historical people does mean realizing that they were people and so were imperfect, a product of their time and sometimes made bad decisions. This is the usual justification for why will still honor leaders who were slave-owners, who ordered the murder and conquest of Indians, and various other Definitely Not OK things. I think we can do better. We can acknowledge that yes, this people Did Important Stuff, but there are other people that led better moral examples that Did Important Stuff too. People we often forget about, who don’t have buildings and holidays named after them or their faces on dollar bills. The Ekklesia Antinou- a community devoted to Antinous, the deified lover of Emperor Hadrian- has a good model of honoring Sancti- which is too complex for me to re-explain- so go read what the good Doctor has to say about it!  Galina Krasskova also has a great list of Pagan & Heathen Heroes & Martyrs– both ancient and contemporary.

Who are your heroes and ancestors? (by blood or spirit)

July 12, 2014 at 9:08 am 2 comments


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