Politics and Polytheism

This is your occasional reminder that this isn’t just a review dumping ground (although I will have more reviews for you later).

The latest debate raging in the polytheist community is in response to a post on Gods & Radicals entitled “Confronting the New Right”. I recommend giving it a read. I also recommend giving the post “Gods of a Radical” both because of the lovely Prayer to the Goddess of the City and the content of the post proper.

I’m currently inactive in the Pagan blogosphere apart from tumblr, so what I know of the kerfluffle is restricted to what tumblrs I’ve followed have reblogged, and what I’m seeing worries me. I’m seeing a lot of “How DARE he call us fascists!” and “Keep your politics out of my polytheism!” I see folks claiming that polytheists should not be political, because it’s “putting humans before the gods” or somesuch thing.

My polytheism is political.

To claim to be apolitical, to me, is to claim a privileged position, a position that has the luxury of not thinking about how one’s views impact others. I’m also reminded of the old feminist slogan “The personal is political,” and what is more personal than religion? Politics is also not just a human endeavor, deities get involved with politics all the time, whether politicking among themselves, choosing the next monarch, or supporting their favourite country or city. I find myself agreeing with the author of “Gods of a Radical”, Christopher Scott Thompson, when he says:

“But if your god’s lore implies something to you and you choose to ignore it, you can hardly say you’re ‘putting the gods first.’ The lore of my gods implies certain values, I take those values seriously, and I guide my life by them.”

How can I claim to honour Freyja if I don’t give a shit about sex workers, or access to abortion, or such a highly politicized topic as women’s rights? How can I claim to honor the Vanir, who came to live with the Aesir, and not give a shit about immigration? How can I claim to honor deities associated with the land and not give a shit about the environment? All of these issues are political issues, of concern, I believe, to both humans and deities. Heck, my very existence is politicized, I’ll politicize whatever I want.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying everyone needs to go out and march for a cause. I’m not equipped for that sort of activism, but for me personally, it’s impossible to separate my politics from my polytheism, and I suspect that some of the folks who are screaming the loudest about being apolitical are the ones who are happy to support political causes they agree with.

One final note, if you are more concerned about being called a fascist than you are about combating extreme right-wing views in your movement, you’re doing something wrong.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for “Reviews: The Deluge”.

3 thoughts on “Politics and Polytheism

  1. I think there’s a bit of misunderstanding here, and while I do not speak for others, I know where many of them are coming from, having talked with them or read public posts by them.

    A lot of folks who have said ‘keep polytheism apolitical’ are not saying ‘keep polytheists apolitical’ nor are they (generally) saying ‘keep all polytheist religions apolitical. Polytheism itself is a theological position and worldview, and the word itself implies nothing in terms of politics. You note, rightly, that your polytheism is political. For some people, apoliticism is a direct requirement from their God, and for others, they simply do not have the energy to keep up with cultus and their obligations in life otherwise while also engaging in politics.

    I am all for folks acting from politics inspired or contributing to their religious views, devotion, or work in some way. However, what I am not for is putting political litmus tests on polytheism as a whole. This is different than putting forth community standards, espousing views of the environment, or engaging in direct political action as a polytheist. If folks do not have the energy or desire to engage in politics then being dragged into it does not help their desire to be part of that process, nor is it respectful of their personal wishes, whether or not you judge them to have privilege or not.

    Something that has been brought up as well, is that for those groups who have 501(c)3 and similar statuses, advocation in politics can put these statuses at risk, as people and groups in their position are prohibited from doing so.

    • If that is the case I admit I avoid most of the blogs complaining about the drama, but what I’ve been seeing is less “everyone should do their own thing according to their needs” or “politicking shouldn’t be a requirement to be a polytheist” and more “you OBVIOUSLY aren’t Putting the Gods First if you are political” and if you aren’t Putting the Gods First you are a Bad Polytheist.

      • That is the case as I see it on many of the blogs where folks are accused of having the latter view. I certainly have stated several times on my blog that having political views that inform our ways of living in this world, and having our religion impact our politics, is normal. Problems come from requirements, though.

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