Gods Without Us

 

Arianrhod’s been on me.  There’s something I’m supposed to learn that I’m failing, something in the simultaneous reflection and reflected, the meaning of the very surface which mediates both them and the world.  That is, I think, the place of Magic, and also the place of Desire, the Withdrawal which moves between and betwixt.  Both Initiatrix and Mediatrix simultaneously, and I’ve been thinking my soul is a little too fragile to comprehend.

Last night, caught in a moment of Divine Trauma, I wrote this:

I’ve been trying to find Her for months now.
She’s in the spaces between, the reflections, the dance of light on glass surfaces that are not glass, that do not stay but move themselves upon the tides of an Other or the winds.
She reflects, and try to see what is between the reflection.
Are you reading me here? Go away, girl–don’t eat glass.
Having thoughts of Marianne.
Desire is between everything. St. John screamed “it’s all love” as they dragged him from Patmos.
He was close. But the other John lost his head, and She was there, in the reflection of the silver tray.
She is silver, but She is also what silver betrayes.
And I am here in the middle, wondering if he sees, wondering if He sees, wondering what comes next.
It all does.

I’ve been generally a little reluctant to talk about precisely what happens when a goddess you are trying to worship, who is calling you and demanding that you learn something, starts breathing rather heavily on that part of your neck that isn’t your neck at all, but what connects your neck to your soul, or what is behind the soul and neck altogether.  That reluctance comes from fear, both the fear of getting it wrong and also the fear of being thought utterly mad and thus rejected by your fellow mortals on account of your inability to see things the normal, sane, disenchanted way.

I’ve been slowly dismantling this fear, exploring its boundaries, its purposes, the places where its walls crumble at my touch, the places where its fortifications require a lot more than a mere pickaxe to undo.

One of the things I’ve been learning about this fear, though, is that it isn’t always mine.  I’m such a “self-made” person that I often have difficulty recognizing the effects of external pressure, or really what is ever quite involved in the question in the question of existing in a world of others and Others and attempting to exist both as one with others and also distinct.  Like in love, sometimes you never try, sometimes you try to hard, and sometimes you realize that it isn’t up to you at all.

When I see Brighid laughing at Her hearth, I understand that the gods themselves do not quite understand the nature of this question, either, except that we appear to be mediating that question as well.

Who are the gods without us?  Who are we without the gods?  These are precisely the question anyone who encounters the gods must eventually ask, I think.

And crazier still, this question is also related to another one: who are we without each other? And the hardest of all, the question of inter-dependence, “who are others without me?”

Human Agency

I’ve been awfully big on human agency in my Sense of Place posts, so it was a little amusing to read what seems an unfortunate critique of my attempt to remind us of our human agency by one of my co-writers, Traci Laird.  In her most recent essay, she criticizes what she defines as Anthropocentrism in Paganism.  She describes an experience of sleeping in a megalith, seeing Red Moths, and then criticizes those who might have done the same thing except seen those creature’s presence as an omen:

If I had seen the Red Moths as a ‘sign’ to me from Crom, I would have removed their agency and transformed them into a lesser species, whose sole purpose for being there was to send me a message.  What a load of colonizing BS that is!

There are obvious difficulties with this (and worse with her mention of the mentally-ill in the next paragraph).  But I’m honestly a bit confused what she’s on about.  She was, of course, the only human in that particular megalithic structure.  She could choose to see those moths as she preferred.  When I slept on Menez Hom, a woman appeared to me in a vision and tried to explain to me something about fitting stones together to build fortifications around a temple.  This may have been a very difficult message for a moth to convey, so its fitting that there were no moths, just lots of corn and the full moon and rain and the nearby standing circle and crossroads and me, cold, shivering, but trying really hard to listen. Also, as Our Favorite Thracian notes, cats act like cats.

This afternoon, I stood outside and watched a massive, glorious flight of ravens flee an oncoming storm.  None came down to tell me anything, though it was impossible for me not to think of what storm-crows mean, nor what The Morrigan has made clear (that is, that she’s apparently watching me for missteps, which is kinda scary but makes sense, because, well, look, I’m talking about Her right now).

Uncomfortable God-ding

Then, I went inside and read an email from my friend Julian and mentioned to him that I was going to Seattle in 6 weeks and figured while I was there I would try to see if Alison Lilly might want to have tea.  I clicked ‘send’ and then read the next email in my inbox, which, interestingly enough, was a notification that one of my posts had been linked to by her, regarding polytheism and the conceptions of gods having personalities.

Recently, it seems to be increasingly common to talk about Pagan theology as if all polytheism were hard polytheism. Posts like Ravenna’s and Rhyd Wildermuth’s speak on behalf of polytheists without acknowledging that there are polytheists like myself who do not agree with the anthropocentric and theologically transcendent views of hard polytheism.

And in her footnotes,

** It saddens me that we are losing the nuances of theological and spiritual exploration in this rush to establish which side of the hard-polytheist/non-theist debate everyone is on. The fact that I do not wear a hard polytheist flag pin on my lapel during every theological debate has apparently been enough to earn me the accusation of having “humanist/naturalistic [that is, atheist] tendencies” in a post that otherwise denounces this kind of simplistic othering. What’s more, Wildermuth’s interpretation of the Google+ discussion he quotes is clearly influenced at a basic level by the assumption that I am an atheist. When I asked questions meant to provoke a conversation about how our personal values inform our relationship with the gods and our approach to discerning the health of those relationships, he chose instead to see my questions as simplistic attacks on the existence of the gods themselves — not only missing an opportunity for a more complex and challenging conversation, but dismissing me as insensitive, even hostile, towards mystical experiences (clearly assuming that I’ve had none of my own), adding personal insult to social injury.

It’s a little weird to hear these words, considering the original context of the discussion, and coming on the heels of a long personal conversation between us. She seems awfully upset that I didn’t know any specifics about her mystical experiences, nor did I know she actually worshiped any gods until her Blodeuwedd series, which I linked to from one of my Sense of Place posts.  Apparently, John Beckett and Julian Betkowski didn’t catch on, either.  But to be fair, she herself said that her conception of language gets in the way of talking about her gods.

My conception of language recognises that it’s awfully fucking difficult, but I’m trying really, really hard to for all of you, because I’m hoping that my attempts will help you speak about them too.  And my oaths to my gods actually suggests that I ought to try, because I told Them that I’d try to awaken them into your minds and hearts.  So, I’m trying.

But I understand that sometimes people get upset.  I’m trying not to about it, as it’s just the internet.   And I still hope to have tea with her.  I offered here, but I’m sure she’s been a bit too busy to respond, because the internet isn’t everything.   But I’ll say it again.  Alison, we ought to have tea.

There are two larger issues here.  One is that “hard” polytheists are also animists and recognise the existence and agency of elemental and natural spirits (including land spirits), but there are some interpretations of Animism which assert that these are mutually exclusive.  I think if anyone, Gallina Krasskova is enough of an example to the contrary.

But there’s a much larger issue going on, I fear, with many of the frustrating conversations.  I wasn’t the only one criticized–Morpheus Ravenna was, too (and I’m thinking about those storm crows again–sorry you weren’t there, Traci!), and this gets to something kinda profound that I’ve noticed whenever a really devoted person talks openly about their devotion.

People get really, really upset.  Sometimes, they go for blood.

Against Fear

I think maybe I understand.  When someone admits to a profound and really, really intense experience, and talks openly about all the things they are doing for their gods, the first thing I think is, uh, wow.  I’m not doing that much.  My devotions are rather simple, and I’m trying to make them more intense as I learn about the gods.  I’m helping my brother-in-law make a Mead and I’m going to infuse it with Chamomile and possibly Damiana because I suspect that Arianrhod would like this.  This is a long process, and it might go wrong, and she might not like it, so I’ll have to try something else if she doesn’t.

This shit gets hard.  Seriously.  But it’s okay.

A beautiful man for whom I care deeply asked me regarding the gods, and I consulted Someone and gave him advice and found that it might not have been adequate.  And so now I spend more time thinking about what might help him, and the last thing on earth I really would ever do is judge him for not getting this stuff right because, well, fuck.  This shit gets hard.

Wanna know something?  I’ve always wanted to give John Halstead a hug and tell him it’s okay.  He doesn’t have to re-write the 8 Stations of the Wheel and have to re-interpret Jung for all of us so that he can justify how he believes.  Also, it can’t be easy being in the suburbs, and his vacation in Florida sounded unpleasant (it’s Florida–I know how unpleasant it is).  And, also, I kinda want to tell everyone who’s trying to get this stuff right that it’s okay, particularly since they’re trying.  I’ve had some of those grumpy-grumpy hard polytheist super-devotional people tell me the same thing, that it’s okay, and so I’m telling you this, too.

So, hey everyone.  It’s okay.  You can laugh with a baby while he pulls on your braided beard and not get too upset that you don’t quite understand what Arianrhod’s been trying to tell you.

But, um, also–look folks.  It’s also not okay.  Getting upset at someone who appears to be more devoted than you and is struggling like crazy to understand the gods is actually kinda shitty, because they sort of could use our support.  I’m sorry if my worship of my gods and my attempts to do what Arianrhod wants seems offensive to you, but actually, I don’t really have much time for that.  That someone like Morpheus Ravenna takes the time out of what she’s doing to try to help people have closer relationships with the gods and then gets attacked for her offering to the rest of us is actually really sad.

I wonder if some of us are still trying to hold on to “reality” because we’re afraid that, if we enter into those Mysteries, we’ll go insane.  There’s certainly enough narrative regarding insanity and mental-illness within Paganism to make a lot of us fearful of such a thing (and Aine is so right– we should stop this). But, uh, look.  I’m not special or amazing.  I’m actually a bit off-kilter, sort of bumbling, poorly-drest and always poor, and I seem to be okay.  I think maybe my proximity to poverty actually helps with all of this, and my utter lack of interest in a nice life with computers and a house or condo or car or retirement plan.  Pulling myself out of “their” reality (that is, the one that tells us that these gods can’t be real and we should understand everything through the new, empty religion of science) is maybe why the gods responded to my seeking or why I responded to their overtures.

I’m sorry, but you may not be able to”fit in” and also experience Mysteries.  Sucks, huh? But us weirdos and freaks and gender-queers and sexual deviants make awesome company.  Don’t be afraid, really.

Also, hey, Alison.  Let’s have tea.

P.S.  as a nod to Piety Possum….Please Don’t Hit Me.

 

 

About Rhyd Wildermuth

An intractable tea-swilling punk, queer hooligan, and dream-soaked leftist bard, Rhyd Wildermuth has left bits of his heart(h) everywhere—in a satyr’s den in Berlin, hanging from an elder tree over a holy well in Bretagne, scattered in back alleys of Seattle, and lost somewhere in the bottom of his rucksack. He’s devoted to Welsh gods, breathes words, makes candles, plays recorder, fumbles with tech, and refuses ever to learn to drive. His main blog is: paganarch.com. View all posts by Rhyd Wildermuth

28 responses to “Gods Without Us

  • David Dashifen Kees

    You wrote: “Getting upset at someone who appears to be more devoted than you and is struggling like crazy to understand the gods is actually kinda shitty…”

    That may be true, but sometimes it’s easier to be angry with the other than it is to be appropriately self-critical. NOTE: this is not to indicate that Ali or anyone else mentioned above might be reacting in that way, but I think there’s a deeply rooted tendency — especially in America — to act rather than reflect. Yelling and metaphorically throwing things online is, therefore, more likely, easier, and more comfortable to us than pausing to try and understand what part of a situation makes feel vulnerable at this moment.

  • Me

    You may have discovered what she was on about had you asked, or engaged your curiosity. She is not a polytheist, and apparently possesses a different view of the world than you. Lost opportunity for understanding?

  • 12StepWitch

    I’m a little baffled as to how to respond here, because I’m unsure if you are aware of how deeply condescending and insulting this post is. I imagine you must be, because you seem like a pretty smart guy. But your offers of pats on the head to people who are engaged in spiritual discourse and education drips with such condescension as to land vile and bitter in my mouth, and turns me off in a way that I’ve grown accustomed to being turned off by people who purposefully ally themselves with the “hard polytheist” camp in this (fucking endless) spat.

    As an aside, I deeply appreciate Halstead’s work to explain Jung. I want to understand Jung and his relevancy to Pagan theology, but I fumble with Jung’s language and so to have someone who understands the language translate it and share his thoughts on it is very valuable to me. I also can’t help but appreciate someone’s honest attempts to grapple with how modern Pagans relate to ancient festivals. We are a modern people inspired by ancient traditional practices, are we not meant to question how they fall into our modern lives? We are not the ancient people who formed them. These things do not fit neatly. Investigating and questioning it is not a cute thing to do, it is a crucial thing to do for someone who takes their relationship to their spirituality seriously.

    I must also address this idea that Alison “attacked” Morpheus because she felt upset because Morpheus is more devoted to the Gods than Alison is. Her blog post was a thoughtful response to a blog post that got a LOT of play in the Pagan blogosphere. I think it is absolutely appropriate to respond to a blog post that got that much attention. Morpheus got upset and felt misunderstood, but never considered that perhaps she failed to explain her point of view appropriately in the first place. Instead, she asked Alison to not discuss her ideas. I find it odd that a writer would publish a blog post, promote it on FB several times, and then ask another writer to not discuss it when that writer says that HER experience with HER Gods is different. Let me say that I was deeply moved by Morpheus’s original post and love her writing—I was also moved by Alison’s post and love her writing. I thought Alison’s post was such a beautiful response to Morpheus’s post, and am surprised that Morpheus responded in the way she did. I don’t think either was wrong or right. I think they are both right about their experience with their Gods, and I learned something from each of the posts.

    Finally, I want to end with saying that you might want to consider the idea that those who refuse to do things your way might not be refusing out of fear. This seems to be a comforting thought for you—that non hard polytheist Pagans are “holding onto reality” because they are “afraid that if we enter into the Mysteries we’ll go insane”. I see that this sets up a really compelling narrative for you, one in which you get to be someone who is doing something brave and true and honest (while wearing a mask of humility and painting yourself as a bumbler), while those who are doing something different are fearful and cowardly who “don’t quite understand” what the Gods want from them. But you know…it might just be that they don’t find what you are doing to be very relevant. Or interesting. Or mysterious. Or meaningful. It may be that their Gods call them to experience Them in an entirely different way. If your mission in life is to get all people to worship in a particular way and proselytize for that method until everyone falls like dominoes, then ok. Own that. But just stop with the condescension already and just be a Crusader.

    • 12StepWitch

      Replying to myself to add that I just read Morpheus’s most recent post and I think that this series of blog posts—Morpheus, Alison, Morpheus–is such an excellent example of the kind of dialogue that we CAN have,

    • Aine

      I’ve gotta step up and point out you’re wrong about Morpheus’ comments on Alison’s post.

      You say she never considered she didn’t explain her position well. Except she says: “I think a fair amount of the misunderstanding and assumption in operation here may be a result of my not having really made my theological position clear.”

      Later, she says: “By the way, I would also appreciate if you didn’t insert words I didn’t write when you quote me. I didn’t fail to title my post “Ritual theory for hard polytheists” on accident. I think your inserting that word into my blog title when you quote it misrepresents me significantly, and demonstrates the assumption you’ve made about where I’m coming from.”

      She did not ask Alison to stop discussing this topic. She asked her to stop inserting words she didn’t use when she was quoted. That is very different than asking her to not discuss her post or ideas at all.

      • 12StepWitch

        Very fair point that she actually DID consider that she didn’t make the point well–thank you for pointing that out and correcting my misconception.

        However, it did seem to me that she was asking Alison to stop discussing her blog post when she said “Honestly, I’m left just wishing you would leave me out of your argument with whatever hard polytheists have been making you so defensive. Because I really have no wish to have an argument with you. I’d rather just write my blog.” and “what it means is that you should just not try to represent my point of view on the internet.”

        It SEEMED to me she was saying something along the lines of “You are not able to grasp what I mean, so please discussing it.” I am VERY open to the idea that I am wrong about what she meant, however! And I hope I was! That would be a lovely thing to be wrong about.

      • Aine

        I interpreted her statements more along the lines of frustration at being misrepresented and thrown into a camp she doesn’t belong in. (Which is something Alison was angry about too.) And, having had similar things happen to me, I side with Morpheus. I don’t like when people try to speak for me, assuming I’m on some ‘side’. So…I don’t think she was saying Alison shouldn’t discuss it at all, but that she didn’t want to fight about it, and she didn’t want theology she doesn’t hold attributed to her. Of course, Morpheus is the only one who can say what she meant.

      • 12StepWitch

        Fair enough. Thanks for sharing your POV. As always it is appreciated. I thought Morpheus’s followup post was really lovely, and her interaction with Alison in any way helped provoke her to write it then I think it was worthwhile.

      • morpheusravenna

        Morpheus here. Since I’m being discussed, Hello!
        As someone who has been writing a public blog for several years, clearly I can’t object to people having public discussions about things I’ve said. But as I said to Lilly in the comments on her post, I felt it was largely a debate about things I *hadn’t* said, but which were being attributed to me by assumption and inference (and which continued even after I’d said she wasn’t understanding my theology). I felt like I’d been used as a straw-man in an argument that was being had with a third party, and I just wanted to opt out of involvement in that.

      • Aine

        Thank you for joining in! And…I’m also glad I read your comments and responses correct. Thank you for clarifying.

    • Rhyd Wildermuth

      Hello!
      I am really sorry that I come across as condescending. Regardless of my intention, I’ve got a responsibility to make sure my words are as precise as possible to prevent such misunderstandings, so I’m greatly sorry that I came across as such. This is a failure of my art, and I will attempt to hone it better.

      You wrote:

      I see that this sets up a really compelling narrative for you, one in which you get to be someone who is doing something brave and true and honest (while wearing a mask of humility and painting yourself as a bumbler), while those who are doing something different are fearful and cowardly who “don’t quite understand” what the Gods want from them. But you know…it might just be that they don’t find what you are doing to be very relevant. Or interesting. Or mysterious. Or meaningful. It may be that their Gods call them to experience Them in an entirely different way. If your mission in life is to get all people to worship in a particular way and proselytize for that method until everyone falls like dominoes, then ok. Own that. But just stop with the condescension already and just be a Crusader.

      If “bumbler” is a mask I’m wearing, than I have a lot more to learn about myself, as I really often don’t feel like I know what I’m doing with the gods and have to continuously work on knowing more. I honestly feel as is this stuff is awfully hard, and that’s why I declared that I want to give folks hugs. I sort of need a hug too sometimes, especially after really difficult experiences of Divine Trauma. That’s why I described my own (recent) experience at the beginning.

      I don’t think everyone makes decisions out of fear. I know fear was my biggest barrier to worshipping the gods, and so was the external pressure of being labeled “crazy” and “insane,” even by co-religionists. I know others have experienced this, too, as they’ve told me, and it’s really evident in the writing of some of the hard-polytheists.

      And it’s totally okay if people don’t find what I’m doing “very relevant. Or interesting. Or mysterious. Or meaningful.” I suspect those people aren’t reading my writing, because if what I’m doing is irrelevant, uninteresting, unmysterious and unmeaningful and they’re reading me, they must be awfully bored.

      And my mission in life isn’t to get all people to worship my gods. I’m only trying to share what I’ve experienced, and to help those who might want to learn about my gods to find the tools (including the rejection of fear) to do so, so that the gods I worship can be worshipped by others who want to worship them. That partially fulfills my oath, and recounting my experiences might help others worship other gods completely and not feel like they’re somehow mentally-ill for experiencing these things also helps fulfill it.

      • 12StepWitch

        “I know fear was my biggest barrier to worshipping the gods, and so was the external pressure of being labeled “crazy” and “insane,” even by co-religionists. I know others have experienced this, too, as they’ve told me, and it’s really evident in the writing of some of the hard-polytheists.”

        Yes, thank you for explaining this. I think that the leftover scars of this external pressure and fear is something that those who have not been called to experience the Gods in the way you have fail to understand, and so they also fail to understand the stridency with which many hard polytheists express their theology and respond to anyone questioning their theology. Those of us who have not experienced this fear or external pressure cannot/do not orient from a place familiar with it and that is why it seems aggressive and hypersensitive (to use words that you say have been used against you) when you react in the manner that you do. When from your point of view, this is a real threat and you are only doing what you must. I feel that I understand a bit more now, am I on the correct track or am I misreading, again?

        “I honestly feel as is this stuff is awfully hard, and that’s why I declared that I want to give folks hugs. I sort of need a hug too sometimes, especially after really difficult experiences of Divine Trauma. That’s why I described my own (recent) experience at the beginning.”

        Well…great! We can all use some love! I appreciate your effort to offer it, and take you at face value when you said you meant to offer it with humility. I’ve had things come out all kinds of bass ackwards before, Gods know….

      • Rhyd Wildermuth

        This is it, yes. It’s also why I have suggested the language of queer theory to describe the experience of polytheists. Besides the fact that many of us are queer, the experience is very similar, including the “scars” from years of defending oneself for ones radical choices which will sometimes, unfortunately, lead us to encounter an innocent question as another attack (in fact, more often than not, the same question asked by one person is an attack, and by another merely an honest seeking). A lot of the massive online arguments might go away with this understanding.

        I greatly appreciate your willingness to understand, and allowing me to restate myself. Thank you. It’s like a hug. : )

    • Christine Hoff Kraemer

      Aww, I think you’re being kind of hard on Rhyd here. I can’t speak for John Halstead, but I would find what Rhyd said to be kinda sweet, if it were said about me. We’re all trying really hard to give birth to a meaningful religious practice — some of us to a meaningful religious community — and I think many of us look a little bit manic in our attempts from time to time, just trying to do it RIGHT.

      I’m home with a tiny baby these days, and often when I’m caring for him or interacting with him, I start to feel disinvented in all the theological debates, even though most of the time I think they’re interesting and worthwhile (though perhaps not getting all wrapped around the axle about!). My kid is so awesome that sometimes I think I’d be happier if I stopped trying to build something lasting outside of my own family and close circles. But that seems like avoiding responsibility for leaving the world the same or more beautiful than it was when I got here, and after all, that’s the world my kid’s going to have to live in, so…

      Also, Rhyd, kudos to you for actually trying to TALK to Alison. Maybe I’ll try to sponsor a “Skype and have tea with a blogger you’ve debated with” month. These intellectual debates are supposed to take place over good food and drink, with collegial relationships. (Not that people weren’t at each other’s throats over philosophical agreements in the past as well, but we’re crap at creating opportunities for friendships to form among debate partners right now. Too much “blog first, talk never!”)

  • Me

    You might understand what she is on about if you ask, or engage in curiosity led dialogue. Apparently, she holds a different view from you. Imagine how exciting having an actual conversation about that might be.

  • Morpheus Ravenna

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t feel attacked in Lilly’s post. I know what being attacked feels like, and having someone say they disagree with your ideas isn’t it. But thank you for the kind words about my work and writing. :)

  • CBrachyrhynchos

    One is that “hard” polytheists are also animists and recognise the existence and agency of elemental and natural spirits (including land spirits), but there are some interpretations of Animism which assert that these are mutually exclusive.

    Well, you do. My experience is that others are more than happy to approach something like the Dance of Insects, Flowers, and Wind by shoehorning it into omens from or metaphors of gendered anthropomorphic deities. The polytheisms I encountered when I was having those experiences were reductive about those experiences, my gender, and my sexuality. So I see where Laird is coming from there, creepy mental-health language aside.

    I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I do suspect that animisms, like theisms, and atheisms, may not always be the same thing.

  • Christine Hoff Kraemer

    > This is it, yes. It’s also why I have suggested the language of queer theory to describe the experience of polytheists. Besides the fact that many of us are queer, the experience is very similar, including the “scars” from years of defending oneself for ones radical choices which will sometimes, unfortunately, lead us to encounter an innocent question as another attack (in fact, more often than not, the same question asked by one person is an attack, and by another merely an honest seeking). A lot of the massive online arguments might go away with this understanding.

    Rhyd, could you say more about this? I’ve heard this vaguely referenced by a lot of people, but I’m not sure I understand what level of persecution is being discussed, as all I’ve seen pointed out is online bullying and general unpleasantness (which, happily, can usually be shut down through technological means). Like, have hard polytheists lost jobs for being hard polytheists specifically? Been physically attacked? Been humiliated in front of others or drummed out of Pagan groups they were trying to participate in? Been pressured by family or friends to seek psychiatric treatment?

    I was trained in a tradition that values privacy, so I tend not to speak in much detail about my practice or experiences in public. I’ve been Pagan for around 18 years and participated in groups in Texas and Massachusetts. During that time, I’ve met a fair number of other polytheists, a fair number of humanists, and a great many agnostics, who aren’t attached to one or another theology of the gods. I’ve heard some humanists or deists talk smack about hard polytheists being crazy, but I’ve never seen any of them be less than kind to anyone in person (though I’m sure it happens). I thought for a while that my being a, er, firm? polytheist might be a problem when I entered my current coven, as there are some humanists/deists there, but once it became clear that personal compatibility and willingness to do the practice as given were the important things, our theological differences just became interesting fodder for debate.

    So, I’m wondering what you know about hard polytheist persecution in a broader sense, as I’ve seen very little of it in “real life” (lots of internet bullying, of course). I’ve never tried to discuss polytheism with mainstream religious people, though, as I always considered the specifics of my theology to be none of their business. I have the impression that most Americans find it sillier to believe literally in Thor than in Jesus Christ, although metaphysically speaking I don’t think there’s a big difference, but I’ve never actually seen anyone harassed over it. Is this a regional thing? Or is it just that I keep my mouth shut more than most polytheists? (I’m obviously entirely out as a Pagan, and that’s never been a problem at school or in my workplace, although admittedly I tend to work for liberal nonprofits.) In what context does it happen?

    (I was in contact a while ago with someone who was trying to write a book on hard polytheism, and she’d gathered some data about harassment, but I fear she’s disappeared/failed to publish. =/ It’s too bad, because it’s a question I’d really like to see some specifics on!)

  • Me

    By the way, please feel free to delete either the first or second of my responses. I was confused about whether the first posted. Didn’t mean to comment twice. :)

  • Gods Without Us | Thracian Exodus

    […] Rhyd writes some awesome, vulnerable, humble, eloquent stuff, and is still accused of being a condescending ass, and […]

  • agriakosos

    Thank you for this, Rhyd. Maybe at some point I will figure out how language works with my own definitions of my experience with/of/for the gods and I’ll be able to contribute to the conversations in a meaningful way. For now I am glad there are more eloquent people who can do so.

  • aediculaantinoi

    As always, an interesting set of reflections on these matters!

    When you are in Seattle in six weeks, so long as it’s not President’s Day Weekend (as I’ll be at PantheaCon), perhaps we can meet up for chai, milkshakes, or something of that nature? I’ll speak with you privately soon on the matter, perhaps…! (I still haven’t met Julian in person either, but would like to set a goal of doing so in the next three months, if possible…)

    • Rhyd Wildermuth

      I was going to suggest this, yes! It will be the week after Pantheacon, which is also my birthday weekend, and I had considered going as well, but this year does not look good for it

      Also, Julian moved from the Northwest a few weeks before I did. He’s out east. I highly recommend meeting him sometime anyway, just stock up on tea–he drinks as much as I do!

  • 2013 Year in Review: Blog posts that should have gotten more attention (Part 2)

    […] And make sure you check out Rhyd’s recent contribution to the discussion of the nature of the gods, “Gods Without Us.” […]

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