Category Archives: Rants

Pagan Prosperity Gospel

There’s this rhetoric in certain corners of the Pagan/polytheist web that really bothers me. Originally I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but now I’m angry enough that I’m saying “Fuck that!” and I’m speaking out, because bullshit should be used to fertilize fields, not flung around willy nilly.

The subject I wish to discuss is what I and others on the net call the “Pagan Prosperity Gospel”.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the prosperity gospel, it’s a stance in certain Christian churches that says that if you have faith in God and give to Christian ministries, he will reward you with material wealth. The obvious issue with this brand of theology is that it implies that the poor obviously don’t have enough faith or, well, they’d be rich, of course!

Of course, it’s just this weird Christian thing and many other Christian leaders have denounced it as the bullshit it is, right? Surely there aren’t Pagans and polytheists advocating the exact same thing, right?

Well, you see, that’s the problem.

It seems like there’s a certain vocal group of people within our wonderful communities who think that if you were just devoted to your deities enough, if you just gave them 100% of your time and attention, if you just worked that much harder for them, you would be showered with all kinds of blessings and things would be wonderful.

In a word: NO.

In so many words:

Seriously, the fuck is this bullshit? How is this not spitting on every single polytheist from antiquity to today who sweat and bleed for their deities but are poor as dirt? How is that not ignoring the many, many other factors that contribute to poverty? How is that not classist as fuck?

No no no no no!

We do not need this in our traditions. If the majority of Christians denounce this as bullshit, we seriously don’t need it. We don’t need to take their bullshit, we have enough of our own.

Burnout

I know that I haven’t been posting a lot of things that aren’t reviews for a long time. I’ve been more active on tumblr as of late. (My main tumblog is answersfromvanaheim.)

One thing that I’ve been struggling with lately is burnout. There are days where I check tumblr or facebook and I see Heathens posting some really gross things and I just don’t know why I even bother doing anything to try and make things a bit more welcoming for newcomers. It helps that Vanatruar are generally more easygoing, but there really aren’t that many of us, and it’s much easier to poke at someone who is being gross when there aren’t that many of you.

To be honest, sometimes I wonder why I bother pointing out all the racism, the sexism, the queerphobia, the toxic behaviour, and any number of gross things that pop up in communities who claim to honour my deities. On some level, I realize that these problems have been in Heathenry a long time, have been in society a long time, and they’re not just going to be fixed overnight (if, indeed, it is possible to fix them).

It’s especially disheartening because I was once one of those newcomers that was scared away from Heathenry because of the crappy attitudes, and when I hear stories about others who are going through the exact same thing or who automatically equate Heathenry with racism and other gross shit I can’t help but think that something’s broken when it comes to Heathenry.

Seriously, when your religious community has a culture that actively scares away newbies, it’s broken, it’s broken and you need to fix it.

And no, you don’t get to say “grow a thicker skin” or “but I’m just being blunt because that’s what my ANCESTORS would do” because plenty of other traditions are just as committed to doing things the way they did in antiquity WITHOUT being assholes about it. Being an asshole should not be a requirement for practicing a religion.

And then people wonder where all the newcomers are, or why there aren’t more women in Heathenry, or why everyone seems to equate Heathenry with grossness.

Here’s a tip: look in the mirror. Take a good long look.

Notice of Disassociation

This post was a difficult one to write, but I’ve been wanting to write it for some time. I wasn’t going to post it outside of tumblr, but you know what? At this point I don’t give a fuck, and if this loses me followers and friends, well, I’m okay with that.

When I first talked about writing a devotional anthology, Raven (Kaldera) was the first person who approached me about it. Others approached me  offering to help with it, but at that point I’d already said I’d go with Asphodel Press. At that point, I genuinely liked the books that he wrote with Galina Krasskova, although, there was a part of me that winced whenever he used the term “shaman” to describe himself, and there is a ton of unmarked UPG everywhere, and something about their writing seemed “gloomy” like serving a deity was all pain and suffering, and any voice that was encouraging was a person’s own sockpuppets.

So, I just wanted to let you know that, despite the fact that I did publish my anthology with Asphodel Press, that is the extent of my dealings with Kaldera, and i will not be publishing again with them in the future. I also no longer identify as Northern Tradition Pagan and would ask that people please not refer to me by that label. I am Vanatru. 

Keep in mind that this was before the big kerfluffle re: Pop Culture Paganism, where the Piety Posse started drawing lines in the sand and saying “no fake polytheists past here”. At this point, I thought about at least pulling Krasskova from the anthology, if not completely cutting ties with Asphodel Press. Maybe I should have, maybe I should have just abandoned the project as a whole, maybe it wasn’t the best decision to keep going in spite of my own misgivings.

On a related but separate subject (as Kaldera generally stays out of Internet debates), I am disgusted by the piety posse’s violent rhetoric and “us vs. them” mentality, and I think they are doing way more harm to polytheism than any of the people that they are complaining about.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and the assweasels are probably going to lump me in with people I disagree with (sometimes vehemently) regardless of what I say, but I wanted to make it perfectly clear where I stand in the “twu polytheist” thing. Namely, I don’t really care if you’re devotional, soft….or your deity is Superman. I also don’t care for cultural appropriation, including the use of appropriative language like “shaman” to describe someone who wasn’t raised in that culture, especially when there are other, Heathen terms for such people.

Gef Reads Things Tumblr

Admit it, at some point, while you were reading this blog, you said to yourself. “Gee, I wish I could read all of Gef’s book-related snark without having to wade through all those other awesome posts!

Well now, you can get all my book snark LIVE, as I’m reading books, without the terrible trauma of sharing headspace with me.

The tumblr is called Gef Reads Things and may be found here:  http://gefreadsthings.tumblr.com/

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I will keep doing reviews here, and they will still be as snarky as ever, but if you’re REALLY curious to know, page-by-page, how I feel about a particular book, this tumblr is your ticket.

Note: I have some posts up there right now, but the actual liveblog won’t start until I’ve finished the book I’m currently reading.

Online Communities and the Broom Closet

[Trigger warning: homophobia, anti-Pagan bigotry, ranting]

In the wake of the recent drama around the Pagan/polytheist/whatever the fuck we’re calling ourselves this week blogosphere, there’s been a bit of discussion about community. whether there is or is not a “Pagan community” or whether or not online spaces “count” as a community, and such.

I just want to chime in and say that if it wasn’t for the online communities I’ve joined, whether groups on Facebook or fora like The Cauldron, I would find it very difficult to do religion. It’s kind of sad that I have to say this, but I would.

I live in two closets. I have told my mother that I am not interested in men sexually. She believes that I’ll turn around once I “try boys”. I haven’t said anything to my biological mother and stepdad because they make homophobic comments all the time and talk about wanting to slap gay men for DARING to kiss on a crowded beach. In short, I am concerned that if/when I do come out, I could be shunned or assaulted by my own blood because I’m queer, and that’s a scary thing.

I am also in the broom closet. In a nutshell, my a-mom thinks I’m an atheist, she calls my Pagan-y books “crap” and really doesn’t take any non-Catholic religion seriously. In fact, if I show the slightest interest in doing anything even remotely Pagan-y, she assumes I’ve gone and joined a cult. I am, after all, her sweet, innocent, naive daughter who couldn’t possibly make up her own mind about religion despite spending FOUR YEARS studying religion on a full time basis at university.

“How did you manage to collect so many tarot decks?” You ask.

To be honest, I have no idea, I think, somewhere inside my mom there is a very new agey part of her that believes in things like divination and TV psychics and stuff.

But then she turns around and gets mad at me for bringing home fiction about witches.

All I’m going to say is that there are certain things I’m writing that she’s never going to see, like Chapter 2 of The Tithe-Boy.

Some of us are not free to set up altars or shrines. Some of us are not free to make regular offerings, attend group meetings, conventions, or the like. Some of us are not free to do simple things that most Pagans don’t think twice about, and there are those who are not as lucky as I am, and who can’t have their tarot decks or books because their parents are super religious.

This is why online spaces are so important.

I have the advantage over my parents in that I am net savvy. The Internet is the one place where I can express myself as a Pagan, as a queer Pagan women, in places where there are other people like me. I have a very good reason why I don’t friend people I know in real life on Facebook, because sometimes (gods forbid) I don’t want to watch what I say, and I want to talk about things with others that people I know in real life just wouldn’t get. Sometimes I need a break from all the “compulsory monotheism” in my life, and I would rather have all the Internet Pagan Drama in the world than have to listen to my mom going on about how I’ve joined a cult and am only interested in “crap”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, but sometimes….sometimes….sometimes she just makes me sad. Very sad. Biomom is the same way.

My point is, online spaces are very important. For some of us, they’re all we have at some point in our lives, and I think some, having broken out of their closets (or having had the good fortune to grow up with open-minded folks) forget that.

Don’t forget.

A Friendly Reminder

I am not an elder (not being particularly old or experienced in the ways of my tradition). I don’t have twenty altars scattered throughout my house (actually, I don’t have ANY at all). I can’t be any more specific with my sources than “I think that was in the Lokasenna….somewhere….” I am not a godspouse, or a godslave, or much of a god-anything. You ask “Why should I trust your word?” and you know what? You shouldn’t. If you find that what I have to say is worthwhile, then it is.

I constantly fear that I’m pronouncing my deities’ names wrong.

While I’m on the subject, I should note that I did not learn any of this at my grandmother’s knee, I just read, a lot.

I’m not a big “label” person. I stopped adding labels when the entire label was too long to put on a business card.

Oh, by the way, I’d love to attend a religious festival AND an anime convention (comic books aren’t my thing) but the thing is that I can’t afford either.

I just thought I’d throw that out there.

This wasn’t brought on by anything in particular, I just feel the need to remind people that you really don’t need to be a godspouse or a godslave or an Ordeal Master or anything like that because, to be honest, I see people whining about how they don’t have awesome godphones or how no deity will marry them and I’m like “WHY WOULD YOU WANT SUCH A THING?! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU??”

An Open Letter to Everyone Involved in the Pop Culture Paganism Debate

Hello everyone,

I know some of you are sick and tired of hearing about this debate and wish it would just go away (sorry Elizabeth!) but I think I’ve reached the point where I really need to address the stupidity on both sides of this colossal anger-fest that passes for a “serious debate”.

As you know, I identify as a hard polytheist, I believe that deities are individuals, not aspects of One God and One Goddess, or facets of One Ultimate Cosmic Oneness….Thing, but individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations. I also believe (and this is important) that deities are very Real beings. They weren’t created by humans, and they have an independent existence from humans. I don’t pretend to know the answers to questions like “So, WTF were my deities doing before their respective cultures were around to worship them?” because (on top of being a complete mindfuck) those questions don’t matter to me.

What does matter to me is my relationship with my deities, my ancestors, the land and the spirits that live there. They come first, and they will always come first.

Firstly, to my hard polytheist friends, a few points:

Not all pop culture Pagans are the same. Perhaps you will remember an earlier post I wrote critiquing a post by members of the Raven Radio Crew, and the laughable idea that they were the “moderates” arrayed against “the crazies” (who were basically anyone who didn’t think like them). In case you need to get caught up, my post is here. Please go and read it if you haven’t already.

The thing is that framing this discussion as “true believer” polytheists vs. stupid, fandom-obsessed “all deities are thoughtforms” fluffy bunnies makes just as much sense as “the crazies” vs. the (not actually moderate) “moderates”.

That is, none at all.

Because, as I point out in my original post, there is a HUUUUGE amount of people who hold equal disdain for either party, like, say, ME, and most of my online friends.

In all seriousness, how many people came to Paganism through books like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, or, Hel, how many people use fiction as teaching tools? There’s a reason I have the Chalion books on my reading list, and it’s not just because they’re great fantasy novels, but because of the way they present deity-human relationships as eerily similar to intense deity-human relationships in real life. (“You are the tool, not the work. Expect to be treated accordingly.”) Hel, as my friend Ken recently pointed out, the Church of All Worlds runs on fiction (specifically Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein). For those who, for whatever reason, aren’t aware of this group, they’re an interesting bunch who put out the magazine Green Egg, which was really popular in the 70s and 80s.

So when some of you complain about stupid pop culture Pagans who are “wrecking polytheism”, you are erasing a significant number of Pagans, polytheists, and others who don’t buy what either group is selling. This includes some people that you probably think of as “good polytheists”.

But no one will take us seriously!” Oh, for the love of everything, where do I begin? Let’s start with the fact that no matter what you do, someone, somewhere, is going to think you’re nuttier than a box full of nuts with ground up nuts inside them. Whether it’s because you believe in the efficacy divination, the existence of Atlantis, or multiple deities in general. Actually, what I find ironic about this argument is that the folks who have made huge strides towards the acceptance of Pagans, polytheists and the like in North America have been some flavour of Wiccan.

You know, Wiccans, the ones who follow a religion that’s about sixty years old. Yeah, those people. The vast majority of which are non-BTW who most likely aren’t hard polytheists by any stretch of the imagination? The same people many of us like to complain about all the fucking time? (I know this because I, too, have my moments.)

Do you know what leads to people not taking someone seriously? Petty Internet drama.

Although, this blog does kind of run on petty Internet drama, so who am I to talk?

Also, as Del points out in this post, there are literally tons of modern things the average Pagan does that no one cares about. Seriously, how many people have talked about or actually made a playlist of songs for a deity? How many people pick out quotes from their favourite books that remind them of one of their deities?

And, for that matter, I should note that NO ONE made a peep about my musing that I might add an image of Yue to a shrine to Mani that I was thinking of setting up. Why? Because Yue is associated with the moon in the Card Captor Sakura universe, and I LOVED that horrible dub when I was little.

“But Gef,” you say. “You obviously aren’t planning on worshiping Yue, so its okay!” Really? Because I wasn’t getting that impression from some of the blow ups I’ve seen, and really, saying “all PCPism is wrong–except when someone I like is doing it” is just hypocritical, either own up to it or stop making blanket statements about really large groups of people!

Elua’s balls, it’s not rocket science!

Now, lest you think that I’ve devoted an entire post to ripping on my fellow hard polytheists, it’s time to address the other side of the debate, which is not without it’s share of idiocy.

All deities are thoughtforms/All myths are made up. I’m of two minds on this point. On the one hand, my own experiences have led me to believe that this is not the case, that there are things out there that weren’t created by humans, and exist independently of humans, but, on the other hand, if that is your belief, I leave you to it.

However, is it really that hard to understand why someone might just be a little pissed off when you go around declaring that their deities are fake? I’m sure you don’t like being told your practices are in any way fake, so don’t do it to other people.

All things are not equal. When I was a Wiccanesque Pagan, I was told “all sex is sacred” and it was some time before I realized that that statement wasn’t precisely true. After all, sometimes sex is “just sex”, it’s fucking, it’s “let us bash our bodies together for the sheer joy of bashing our bodies together”, what matters is your intent.

I would, again, adopt a more moderate stance, and say that while fan fiction doesn’t really have the same staying power or the kind of “oomph” of a Homeric hymn, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for devotional purposes or that someone can’t use cosplay as a way to honour a deity.

That said, all these arguments mean absolutely nothing in light of this last point:

Do your deities approve of what you’re doing? This is pretty much the argument that trumps all other arguments. If a deity says to you “I want you to write sexy stories with you and I as the main characters” are you seriously going to tell them “fuck no, that’s fan fiction!”

If a deity appears to someone in the guise of a fictional character? Who are you to question their choice of mask?

If you want to be the person to tell the gods that their way of appearing to one of their followers is wrong because it makes you personally uncomfortable, be my guest. I’ll be over here selling tickets.

Ditto for spirits and other beings.

And you know what, if someone has an experience with a character from a show or a book who doesn’t appear to be a construct or an entity using the character as a disguise, does it really affect anyone but them? Seriously, just treat it as someone’s UPG that you find interesting and discard it.

People share UPG with me all the time, and I freely discard the stuff that doesn’t feel right to me.

Most importantly, I think some folks have convinced themselves that their opinions somehow trump the opinions of the deities and spirits who are pretty much the ultimate arbiters of whether a thing is Okay to Do Spiritually. As such, everything and everyine else takes second base to what they want, because they are the ones who call the shots around here.

Always.

And you know what? So far my deities don’t appear to give a flying fuck about any of this squabbling, so you know what? I’m going to close this letter and follow their lead, keep doing my own thing, the usual.

Also, I should take the opportunity to note that I am not the Pagan Police, so chances are if you can agree to disagree with me, I will be happy.

And, apart from sharing my own forays into pop culture Pagany, that is all I will share on the subject.

Be excellent to each other,

Gef

P.S. If it sounds like I was a bit harder on the hard polytheist side of the debate, it’s because I am, in truth, most disappointed by the behaviour of some folks on *my* side, because it’s *my* side, dammit! Disappointed but, thankfully, not entirely disheartened.

 

Blending Traditions….Again

(Warning: This post will jump around and probably be incoherent by the end.)

I know I said I might post some new writing, I’m working on the writing right now because gremlins seem to have deleted the work I started. Fortunately, I didn’t really like what I had written, so it’s turned out for the best.

Anyways, some time ago I wrote a post on religious blending in Pagan traditions, and I found myself giving it a second glance after finding an old post with this picture at Golden Trail.

There’s this conversation I always see, usually in Paganism(s) 101 type discussions. The conversation goes something like this:

Newbie: Hello, I am a member of [tradition] but [deity from another pantheon] has tapped me on the shoulder. Can you give me some suggestions as to how to honour them?

Friendly Neighbourhood Pagan: Well, you can offer them X, Y, Z, and here is a traditional way to honour them, but don’t honour them with [other culture’s] rites, honour them in the [deity’s home culture’s] way.

I’m sure you’ve seen this before. Some of you have probably given that exact advice, and, to be honest, it’s not bad advice.

But I must confess, I actually find it kind of funny that so many are so insistent that EVERYTHING MUST BE KEPT IN THEIR OWN SEPARATE NICHES. This is basically how I eat my dinner, actually, I can’t STAND it when food gets mixed in with other food.

The thing is (as I mentioned in my earlier posts) this isn’t really how things have worked historically. Let’s go back to the Romans, because the Romans are (in)famous for four things: conquering most of the known world, adopting foreign deities, and bread and circuses, okay, so those last two are kind of one thing.  So you have Rome bribing trying to get foreign deities to come over to their side in exchange for sacrifices and a shiny new temple. The important thing to note, however, is that (with some exceptions) the Romans (and other cultures) didn’t wholesale adopt the cult of the deity they were adopting, they honoured them with their own rites, in a way that they were accustomed to doing (and which, presumably, made the deities happy enough that they decided to stay).

Now, I suppose you could argue that said deities were (or became) distinct and separate entities in their own right (see, for instance, Aset vs. Isis) and we could go on and on talking about the point where Ares became Mars or the point at which Mars existed on His own and other messy head things that I don’t want to get into, because philosophy is not my thing. And, yes, I do understand that a deity might like to experience something close to what they’re “used to” the way I like it when someone’s able to speak English to me when I head to Quebec, especially since I don’t speak French.

The key difference between me and a deity, though (to continue the analogy) is that deities have had enough time to master every language on Earth.

But you know what? None of this hand-wringing really matters, because there’s a simple test you can do to determine if what you’re doing is okay or not.

Do your deities seem happy with what you’re doing?

If yes, then you’re good.

If, on the other hand, they’re all like HELLS NO! or “Can we do something else?” You might want to reevaluate some things.

That’s what matters. Everyone else can go fuck off. Your relationship with your deities is between you and your deities. If you are, say, Wiccan, and your deities are content being honoured in that context, all the people complaining about “Wiccatru” and the like can complain until the cows come home.

“WTF Gef, are you saying that it doesn’t matter if I try to keep things separate?” Okay, seriously, what did I just write? Do your deities like having separate spaces? Have they asked you to set up separate altars/shrines, and the like? Do you feel as if that would be doing right by your deities?

Well then, it’s between you and your deities.

And, yes, I know, everyone complains about solitary Wiccans doing the “plug and play” thing, but you know what? If some deity, somewhere, wasn’t very happy about it, you wouldn’t have successful solitary Wiccans, or soft polytheists, or any kind of Pagan or polytheist who isn’t a hard, culturally-specific polytheist. And, I mean, if Freyja and Freyr want to dance skyclad and widdershins in a circle with a bunch of Wiccans one night, who the fuck are you to tell them they can’t do it?

Do you REALLY want to piss off naked Freyja and Freyr?

I didn’t think so.

(You’re welcome for the mental image, BTW.)

And the moral of the story is: when deities are happy, everything is okay (unless they are happy with complete chaos, in which case it might not be fun for you).

Clergy and Laypersons

I know what you’re going to say “Gef, why no Earth Day post?”

BECAUSE EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY TO A VANATRUAR!

Seriously though, you don’t need a special day to think about saving the planet, but that’s not what I want to discuss today.

I see this term “laity” being tossed about in relation to Paganism(s) lately, and it reminded me of a discussion at the Cauldron awhile back about the roles of clergy and laypersons, and why most Pagans felt the need to “be their own priest/ess”.

First, what do I mean by “laity”?

A layperson is someone who is not a member of the clergy or in a specialized profession. Full stop.

And yet, for me (and, I suspect, for some of you) this term carries a lot of baggage. In my birth religion, not only are there strict restrictions on what a layperson can do (and they get very specific on this), but if you happen to be a woman, you can kiss any hope of advancement goodbye, because NO PRIESTHOOD FOR YOU!

But it’s okay, they tell you, because women can be saints! And people pray to saints! Oh, and Mary! Mary is cool! Why do you need the priesthood and it’s weaksauce earthly power when you can be super awesome after you die???

Uh huh.

So you see why I have this gut reaction to the term when I see Pagans, polytheists, and the like toss it around so casually.

The thing is, the divide between “clergy” and “laity” kind of falls apart when you consider solitary practitioners. In a nutshell, here are some of the things the average Pagan does on a daily basis:

  • Set up altars/sacred spaces (in fact, this is often the FIRST THING anyone tells a beginner)
  • Make offerings
  • Commune with deities/spirits/other entities (through various methods)
  • Perform divination (for self and others)
  • Study texts associated with their tradition
  • Create and conduct rituals (at times, even public rituals, depending on tradition)
  • Celebrate holidays

In many cultures, at least some of these items were things that were done by members of the clergy (and most of the time, clergy had particular specialties as well). The average person likely had home-based rites that they performed, but if you wanted to, say, consult an oracle, have some divination done, or someone in your family needed to undergo a rite-of-passage, you may have needed the services of a specialist.

I think it’s blatantly obvious to everyone that most of us don’t have access to clergy in the same way that our ancestors did. Nor do we have the kind of numbers that would support a full-time, hereditary clergy.

And then there are those of us who are just fine doing things on our own.

Most importantly, the deities don’t really seem to give a fuck whether everyone they talk to is a member of the clergy or not.

Now am I saying that the concepts of “clergy” and “laity” have no meaning? Well, as a solitary, I think the distinction is largely irrelevant to what I do. After all, my community is myself. I mean, obviously I don’t have a license to officiate at weddings and such, but nothing’s stopping me from (theoretically) getting one (except that the Canadian government has very Christian-centric guidelines when it comes to deciding who can and cannot legally marry people).

So, I suppose what I am saying is that I am not an ordained clergywoman, even so, I’m not sure referring to your average Pagan as “laity” (or assuming that, indeed, “clergy” and “laity” have universal roles that can be applied across traditions) is really the correct term to use. Of course, this could just be due to all the baggage I’m carrying re: a religious tradition that basically said “BEGONE WITH YE, WOMAN!”

Personally, I think I’m more of a Pagan Beguine.

“Moderates”

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…

……

…….

…….Done?

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.