This is a post that is probably going to piss some people off.
You might recall that I reblogged this post from Warboar calling for Pagans, polytheists, or whatever the popular label is these days to shape up, stop being assholes, and create a community that lasts.
Not surprisingly, this post has led to some discussion and some defensiveness, as in this post on tumblr. Actually, go and read it, and then come back. It’s relevant to this post.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait…
Good, let’s continue.
Now, I could spend time talking about that post in particular and what’s wrong with it (let’s start with the idea that AL and Raven Radio are in any way “moderate”) but instead, I’m going to give you an example.
Let’s say I give a group of people a drum. Let’s say it’s a frame drum that looks something like this:
Person A will be like “Ooh, drums were used in Native American ceremonies for a bajillion years! It’s so spiritual and stuff! Let’s all drum together after we smudge with white sage and sweetgrass.”
Person B will say “Oh, cool, drums are a great tool for getting into trance.”
Person C will consult their books, conclude that while there’s no record of their specific culture using drums (apart from some vague references) their neighbours (with whom they traded extensively) certainly did, and they see nothing wrong with using it.
Person D will consult their books, argue back and forth with their co-religionists over whether it is or is not appropriate to use a drum in ritual (and if they answer that question in the affirmative, will argue about the appropriate method of drum construction) and will loudly criticize persons A, B, and C because they DARED to use a drum in ritual, and probably end by calling them all fluffy bunnies and playgans.
Notice how I didn’t give any of these people labels, but if I had to, Person A would be the New Ager/”fluffy bunny”, Person B would be Neo-Pagan/Recon-derived, Person C would be Recon-leaning/Reconstructionist, and Person D would be a Hardcore Reconstructionist (FUCK YEAH!) or, alternatively, an Asshattru. Realize that these are very broad categories, and people can and do hold multiple views. I would categorize myself as someone who is between B and C. Sometimes, I do things for the simple reason that they “work”. I see this a lot “Why would you use X within Heathenry?”
Because it works.
At the same time, I like being informed. This is why you won’t find me claiming that tarot is an ANCIENT form of divination stretching back to before we had things like Medieval courts and paper or that Ishtar is somehow related to Easter (no, no, NO). At the same time, I don’t call myself a reconstructionist, because, when it comes down to it, I’m not so much concerned with what so-and-so did in the 10th century than with what I’m doing right now, and yes, sometimes I catch myself saying “academic articles are SO BORING, could somebody please give me a quick summary with all the useful bits in it?”
The other thing is, I don’t think Person D is really all that problematic…to a point, because there’s nothing wrong with arguing and researching and whatnot. No, where it is problematic is when Person D crosses the line between reconstructionist and total asshat. It’s the point where everyone below Person D gets lumped in with Person A.
And that is not okay.
It wasn’t okay when the Catholics I used to talk to did it, and it’s not okay when someone who really should know better does it. The world is not just made up of persons A and D with “moderates” (who really look more like person D) in the middle. There are Bs and Cs who want absolutely NOTHING to do with either group, and there are Ds who go around not being asshats, and there are probably Xs who are just….quirky.
Also, if you think the likes of Asatru Lore and Raven Radio are “moderate”, I have a gif for you:
I love this gif so much.
Also LOL, LOL FOREVER!
And the moral of the story is: don’t be an asshat.