And Again with the Pop Culture Paganism

“Kalahira, mistress of inscrutable depths, I ask forgiveness.
Kalahira, whose waves wear down stone and sand—
Kalahira, wash the sins from this one and set her [him] on a distant shore of the infinite spirit.
Kalahira, this one’s heart is pure, but beset by wickedness and contention.
Guide this one to where the traveler never tires,
The lover never leaves,
The hungry never starve.
Guide this one, Kalahira, and she [he] will be a companion to you as she [he] was to me.”

-Prayer to the drell deity Kalahira, Mass Effect 3

First of all, if you’ve played through Mass Effect 3, I’m sorry for making you tear up, I had to post this prayer because it is awesome.

Secondly, I find myself absolutely fascinated by all the discussion this debate is generating, and I hope that, even if you disagree with me, that we can still be friends. (Hopefully you are accustomed to my quirks by now.)

So, it suddenly occurred to me, while reading more responses to the pop culture question, that this debate reminded me of something….

….and then it hit me.

This is just like the debate between lore and UPG.

Seriously, think about it, you have recon-leaning folks who (according to the Grumpy Lokean Elder) compare sharing UPG to showing one’s genitals in public, who say things like “We have UPG, we just don’t share it.” On the other side of the equation, you have folks who have a more (or completely) UPG-centric practice, and then you have a very large middle ground of people who lean towards one or the other, or who eschew labels entirely.

Pop culture Paganism, in this sense, is to UPG-leaning folks what UPG is to hardcore recons.

My Lokean friends will recognize that some of the arguments that hardcore recons make against Loki are eerily similar to ones that I’ve been hearing recently. In case you need a refresher:

“Loki doesn’t exist.”

“Loki is a literary concept.”

“Loki was never worshiped by anyone.” “No, folklore doesn’t count.”

“Lokeans are only playing pretend/are depressed emo teens.”

“Sunna and Mani aren’t deities. Sunna is only mentioned in that one charm as a metaphor for healing.”

“Vanatru isn’t a valid path because Simek wrote a paper that proves the Vanir didn’t exist as a separate group.”

Interesting, isn’t it?

But as much as I could go on following that train of thought, I think this debate has taught me something about the nature of UPG, particularly how personal some aspects of a person’s praxis really are. I know people who like sharing UPG, and there often seems to be this tendency to either not label UPG, or to become really offended when someone rejects your UPG as not in line with their experiences.

As with more “conventional” UPG, I can’t expect that everyone will accept that my occasional forays into pop culture Paganism is a valid way to do things in the same way that some people don’t accept that Vanatru is a valid tradition.

Honestly, does the fact that sometimes it seems as if Freyja has more in common with Naamah from Kushiel’s Legacy really have any bearing on anyone but me?

TBH, I don’t think anyone really wants to hear me talk about my thing I have with Elua and the Companions, because it’s personal stuff that really only applies to me. But if anyone does I can write about it in a future post. 

And you know, the solution in both cases is the same.

You can agree to disagree, or you can just flat out ignore those who disagree with you. In this case, agreeing to disagree seems to be working for me.

Basically what this all boils down to is that some things are personal, and some things are especially personal, and TBH, as long as no one interferes with me doing my thing, I’m happy and willing to respect that you do things differently.

Unless you put stupid Viking dudebro memes on tumblr….


5 thoughts on “And Again with the Pop Culture Paganism

  1. I agree, you put it so well. I haven’t talked with too many people about my UPG but the times that I did were awkward at best due to the vast differences between us. I think that the “agree to disagree” is the best idea, trying to argue with others about the validity of their UPG vs. our own is a spiraling circle of trouble that places us squarely into the same dichotomy we left behind in a monotheistic faith.

  2. Hi, I guess I’m one of your newer followers, I don’t think I’ve actually commented before though I’ve been reading for a few weeks.

    You make good points, I hadn’t recognized the similarity between these arguments before but I think your right. Also, I think it would be very cool to read about your thing with Elua and the companions.

  3. I think alot of this boils down to metaphorical dick waving (though in all fairness, I think the majority of debates held on the internet boil down to dick waving.) So long as what I’m doing works for me, and makes my Gods and Ancestors and any other sentient beings involved with me happy, whats it matter?

    Plus, there is the wonderful opportunity for cross over. I’m a big fan of the Black Jewel Trilogy. Much of the concept of the ‘Dance’ they talk about (which is the interplay of various aspects of a person, and how them come together to make one or more person the more or less dangerous one in the room) applies to my interactions with folks – its what we all do, but I’ve got a different name for it since it makes sense to me. The concepts of protocol. Hell, when I collared my husband before we were married, much of the contract we wrote up was based on said book. Its fiction. No one i know can blow my skull to pebbles with a thought. But in that fiction, is a grain of usefulness to my life, and my relation to other people, and sometimes, yes, my perception, and interactions with, the Holy Powers.

    For example, I’m in the process of setting up a new altar. Part of an altar for me is having images to represent the Holy Power who’s going to be settled there. I’ll find a humanoid statue, or drawing, which helps my focus. This new one, She’s not an easy one to find images for. Not yet, anyway. Then I stumbled upon a still of Tilda Swinton, the White Witch from the new Narnia films, in her battle armour and that fur (which was a delicious touch for the character. It wasn’t in the books, but that is *so* Jadis.) Some coloured pencils and an hour thoughtfully creating a modified image, and bam. Will it look odd to some folk? Sure. But for me, for a whole bunch of reason, using that particular image makes sense. So fuck it.

    If someone wants to call on Hermione Granger before they study for a test, and if that helps them, go for it. Its not my personal practice, but I’m also not them. Which is kind of the key. I’m not them. I’m only me and I can only do what works for me, and even if i think something is silly or wrong (which I do quite a bit) that doesn’t mean its still not valid to them.

    1. The BJT is one of my all time greatest guilty pleasures ever! I will rant AND rave about it in equal measures, because there are things I HATE about it and things I LOVE about it and I can’t seem to figure out how I feel about it.

      So much so, that whenever I see someone refer to Nott as “Mother Night”, I think:



      2) Have we all signed on to be in the Dark Brotherhood, because I have issues with that.


      Actually, I’m currently a member of a BJT play-by-post role-playing forum, and right now my only character is a Yellow – Rose Warlord Prince (I had a Black Widow but she became inactive). He’s a lot of fun to play, he’s an Eyrien who lives among short-lived people, so whenever they try and give him attitude he’s just all like “STFU I’m older than you!” and they do, and it’s awesome.

      They are the only books by Anne Bishop that I actually enjoyed. I just couldn’t get into the others because they weren’t the BJT. I have the same problem with Jacqueline Carey. The Sundering was great, but it’s not Kushiel’s Legacy.

      I think if I had to name the two biggest influences on my own writing, I would pick those two ladies, and then all the authors I didn’t like that inspired me to try to do it better.

      The greatest compliment I’ve gotten so far is that my work “read like a Jacqueline Carey knockoff”

      ….and I was just like “OMGS, REALLY?! I’M. SO. HAPPY!”

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