Interfaith and Polytheism

coexist

Don Frew’s article on Saving Lives, “Wiccan Privilege” and Interfaith was put up by the Covenant of the Goddess website on Facebook (I read it around 1am). Sannion’s response is here.

Also, of note and interest, the Thracian has written a brilliant piece on the disturbing trend of humanist relativism into the praxis of Pagans and Polytheists.

Here are my thoughts on Don’s position:

My Temple is thinking about becoming involved with the Covenant of the Goddess. Why? We want to represent Hellenic  Polytheism and open up dialogue between ourselves and our fellow Wiccans and Neo-Wiccans. I am a Trad Wiccan myself, and I love networking. I think I have had a wonderful time with some folks, and a problematic time with others. When I was reading Sannion’s response to Don, all I could think of was “Yup!”

Traditional Wiccans have done a lot for the Greater Pagan Community. In fact, it’s safe to say that without them leading the charge, we wouldn’t be where we are at today. They had to come out of the broom closet first; they had to deal with charges of satanic ritual abuse; they had to band together and overcome a lot of odds when they were threatened. Oh, the history of modern Paganism and Wicca is fraught with personality cults, “bitch wars,” and ego clashes that caused many groups to split and implode. Rinse, repeat. So believe me, I am NOT ignorant of what my predecessors and spiritual Wiccan family have accomplished in the name of furthering our rights.

At the same time, from my personal experiences there is a disturbing reaction to Polytheists in general. In Trad Wicca, there isn’t any of that fuss, because the focus is on orthopraxy, or “right ritual.” In other words, it’s learning the fundamentals of the practices, training the group mind, growing the egregore, and doing the intra-coven Work which is of paramount necessity. How a Wiccan defines their religious experiences is up to them. You can have a whole coven filled with pantheists, atheists, and polytheists all focusing their magico-religious Occulture on the nature of the Rite, because that is how Wicca is built. To add, modern Paganism is also highly anti-dogmatic, and has inherited many of the “if it feels right, just do it” attitudes and behaviors from the modern New Age.

Here’s the rub: more and more there is a growing number of Polytheists (such as myself) that are not only inheriting something, but we are adding to. And we are adding the personal gnosis and academic foundations inherited in the types of rituals that our Ancestors once did: treating ritual as if it was our lifeline to our power and worth as spirit walkers. So for myself, I can’t simply walk into a circle and say, “Hey! That looks great! Now when do we eat?” Are you shitting me? That’s the kind of fucked up logic which causes spirits and Gods to get angry! And THIS is the dogmatic attitude which is being rebuffed against Polytheists, a dogma which is at the very core of WHY we are Polytheists in the first place.

In general, I think many have become divorced from the Sacred, because orthopraxy isn’t just about doing rituals the “traditional way” (despite some claims from Neo-Wiccans against the “elitist” Traditionalists). Orthopraxy is about Right Responsibility, Right Action, Right Choice, and Right Execution. It’s about Piety, bitches. So let’s get back to Don’s complaint that no one shows up:

I want my Temple to participate in a local Pagan Pride Day that’s approaching. But, we are being told that a “generic Pagan” ritual is the way to go. Why? Because non-Pagans think we’re all the same. A polytheist ritual would be “too confusing.” And someone suggested that we should be inclusive, so they suggested the ritual format of another organization called ADF. So: be inclusive, be generic, but a suggestion was made to use the ritual format by an existing organization. How does that make sense?

*headdesk*

Pagan Pride: proud to be Pagan! Maybe? It’s as if nearly everyone I’ve met is happy to shop at an occult store, wear a pentagram, and be anti-authoritarian. Here’s the other rub: these people are good people, but I just cannot simply understand WHY in the axis mundi does anyone want to conform for the sake of the public? COG’s website has this on the Pagan Pride Project:

“Through education, activism, charity and community, the project promotes tolerance and understanding between people with different belief systems. If you are a Pagan, the project can help you find pride and confidence in your path. If you are not a Pagan, the project can help you understand your Pagan friends, coworkers, and family members.”

Here is the defining Mission Statement:

  • Air: Education
    We’re never going to be able to practice our spiritual paths openly if we don’t give the public accurate information about what we do and do not do. (emphasis mine)
  • Fire: Activism
    People aren’t necessarily going to go out of their way to find out what Pagans really do. We have to have the courage to act on our convictions and do what we need to do. (emphasis mine)
  • Water: Charity
    We know that what we do returns to us. We need to demonstrate this by offering compassion to our communities where it is needed. When we share our own abundance, we show that we trust the Gods to share abundance with us in return.
  • Earth: Community
    We’re never going to be able to practice openly if we don’t know anyone else in our local Pagan communities. We need to weave networking webs in our cities, in our towns, in our rural areas. We need these webs to support one another. That support will also show those who would restrict our practice that we are not just a few isolated wackos, but are a growing congregation of people who adhere to a faith that, while different, is as valid as their own.

Beneath that is COG’s PPD Project definition of Paganism:

A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:

  • Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
  • Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
  • Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
  • Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
  • Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.

It also has this to say on its values of respect:

Respect
We respect individual spiritual beliefs and backgrounds, and recognize the importance of spirituality in everyday life. Membership is open to anyone who defines him or herself as a Pagan or allied spiritual path (see our own (very broad) definition of Paganism) who agrees to our event policies and Code of Expected Ethical Conduct (emphasis mine). No commonality of belief, practice, or rites is implied by membership in this organization. Membership is solely to provide the resource advantages of a larger group, while remaining autonomous in our personal practices. No commonality of belief, practice, or rites is implied by membership in this organization. Membership is solely to provide the resource advantages of a larger group, while remaining autonomous in our personal practices.

CONCLUSION:
In other words, we Polytheists fall under this branch. We deserve respect for our beliefs and we deserve to be heard. We deserve to say “No, we are not like you. We are different, and if you invite us to help then do not complain or try ad hominem attacks because we are standing firm on the convictions of what it means to dance with our Gods and our Ancestors.” We deserve to be different and deserve to show the public that we are (here’s my motto: wait for it!):

Unified in Diversity!

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)~Oracle~

26 thoughts on “Interfaith and Polytheism

  1. justme0486 says:

    I have been involved with my local Pagan Pride for years and I love the people to death however the problem I have personally seen is that they seem to feel that anything that says all deities are not the same would bother too many attendees.

    I have personally had to just stop taking about my personal beliefs that the Gods differ to avoid issues. I hope this makes sense. Thanks for your posts and your work for the Gods. Many blessings to you: )

  2. *wide eyes* There’s a Pagan Pride event in Brevard County? Holy shit! Come a long long way in twenty years. When I was a baby pagan in Melbourne in the mid-90s, Iron Oak was embroiled in a lawsuit just to be able to meet at the HPS’s house. Some of the rhetoric at the initial hearings was really over the top. I seem to recall something about a forge “to birth great swords!” (Hey, is Iron Oak even still around?)

    • luisvaladez says:

      The Pagan Pride Day event is scheduled to be held on the Treasure Coast (covering Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties I believe). But people from the Palm Bay/Melbourne area are helping out. :)

      I remember reading about the lawsuit that Iron Oak (ATC) endured. It was beyond ridiculous some of the things that were thrown at them. Insofar as their activity, I am not sure to be honest. I am one of many people who have called them before to set up an interview or meet someone, only for no one to show up or else just not get messages returned. I think they are too busy sometimes is my thought. *shrugs*

      • My folks live in Sebastian these days. I’m still impressed.

        Mostly I wondered about Iron Oak because their website (the one linked from ATC) looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1996, but new and updated sites still keep listing them. Just curiosity, really. I keep being reminded because now I’m in Seattle, and now some ATC people here and sometimes go the their Spring Mysteries Festival. The people I talk to never seem to have heard of Iron Oak, but they’re also not generally people involved in the organization of church matters, but people involved in the organization of the festivals.

        If you’ve never heard of the ATC’s Spring Mysteries, btw, you might be interested. It’s inspired by the Eleusinian Mysteries, and while I’m sure pure recons turn up their noses at it, they do some pretty good research and certainly put together a good experience overall. (Other than the food. Don’t get me started about the food.)

      • luisvaladez says:

        Yeah I heard about it. I would love to attend some time and find out how it’s done. I think it’s a beautiful thing. And yeah, I know what you mean about the website. Iron Oak still has the same advertisement they have had for a number of years at one of the local Occult shops (“Creative Energies”), so I’m not surprised. It’s just difficult to get in touch with anyone at times unless you’ve actually known the people and work with them actively I think.

        I’m also not surprised lots of folks haven’t heard about Iron Oak up in Seattle. I think ATC has a number of smaller churches and branches if I am not mistaken, and so normally no one would could keep track off their offshoots I think. But from what I hear, ATC is doing good work up there. :)

      • Well, if you ever decide to come out for it, give a holler, and I’ll see about introducing you to some people if you like. I don’t know when the next time I’ll go is, because money is tough, but I’ll help out if I can.

        It’s a shame Iron Oak is that closed off these days. They used to do a lot of outreach work. I imagine a case like that would be enough to burn out some people for the rest of their lives, though.

      • luisvaladez says:

        Aww you’re sweet! Thank you so much. My sister-in-law and her family live out there, along with a couple of other people I’m acquainted with. Right now I am going to try and make plans to go out to the Polytheist Leadership Conference.

        But I will definitely put the Eleusinian Mysteries on my agenda. I know my Temple members would love it! Hmmm….temple road trip! :D

        And yes, sadly I’ve come across quite a number of people who have felt “burned” because they haven’t heard back from them. One was a young man who heard the High Priest lecture at his college. The HP left their contact information for anyone interested. Usual: no reply. I just think, personally, that maybe they’re overwhelmed. Maybe they need internal restructuring…or maybe they’re busy with FPG every year? Who knows. *shrugs* It would be lovely to network with such folks who have done so much.

      • Well, I hope you will come out for it some year. And perhaps next time I’m in Florida, we might meet over your beverage of choice? I never did know many pagans when I lived in Melbourne — my boyfriend and girlfriend and I all started learning together out of books, and we knew the daughter of one of the Second Degrees at Iron Oak, and chatted sometimes with the owner of Air, Fire, Water and Earth, but that was about it — and I find I’m all excited to know there are people there doing things. Especially a tradition that blends Wicca and witchcraft with Hellenic reconstructionism, which I also do.

      • luisvaladez says:

        It’s a date! :)

        The Palm Bay/Melbourne area has an unusually large amount of Pagans and New Agers for the area. We’re this little liberal cluster of hippies, hipsters, Pagans, Witches, LGBTQ folk, Poly folks, Recons and Revival Polytheists smacked between the great conservative central and northern Brevard area, and the Republican-conservative dominated Indian River County to the south. It’s an odd nexus to say the least.

    • Hey, MadGastronomer: I am north of Seattle, and am trying to get together with Seattle-area folks more than I have been in the past. If you’re interested in any of the stuff I’m doing, let me know, and I’ll see what can be done about getting down there…or, if you want to come to Fidalgo Island, I’d be happy to show you around here, too!

      • Hi! I’m somewhat familiar with your work. Read a few things on your site, and your pieces in Crossing the River (which I also have a piece in, “I shall set free my hair and wear a fawn skin”). I don’t know that our styles would mesh particularly well — mine doesn’t with anybody really, which is why I have always practiced mostly alone, and have had to modify my own practice heavily to join anyone else for even single rituals — but it might be interesting sometime to sit down and talk about the development of cultus.

        I’m working on building a practice around my own Women of the Purple Thread, a slightly expanded set from Sannion’s. Rather than starting with a body of myth and a yearly cycle, I’ve started with a weekly cycle of daily practices, a hearth- and craft-oriented tradition, and with patterns between their stories. They’re not intended as “women’s mysteries” in any formal sense (since I’m not a gender binarist), but the intent isto revive the religious patterns of people who mostly stayed at home and made their lives in the domestic sphere. We know that there were many practices of that sort, but we know almost nothing about them, because they were not written down. All we have is a few random objects that we can only guess at the purpose of. I find that if I want to integrate homely and crafting tasks into my religious life, which I do, I have to think about the things that people did at home, cooking and cleaning and spinning and weaving, and consider how they might have also served the purpose of worship. If you’d like to read some of what I’ve been writing about the practice, look here (sorry, that’s a google search, tags aren’t fully implemented on my blogging platform yet).

        I’m not trying to start an entire tradition, as you have worked to, but to find ways that devotion was worked into mundane tasks, the work of people ignored by philosophers and poets and historians, that might be adopted by people of many traditions.

        So a conversation sometime might be interesting, but unfortunately I’m not getting around very much. I do drive, but my household has no income at all at the moment, and gas has to be very carefully hoarded. If you find yourself in Seattle (preferably north end) and have time to sit down over coffee, that might be possible, but I try to arrange any trips so that I can get several errands done in one go.

        You’re also welcome to email me. I can be reached at madgastronomer at gmail.

      • I will read your pieces in there when I get back, then! Very exciting, and nice to know (and to potentially meet!) people who have been in some of the same books that I have!

        Likewise, I’m a non-driver, but I’ve been getting down to Seattle when I’ve had the day off (or have taken it off) relatively easily via various buses.

        I don’t think our paths needs to be at all similar to benefit from just meeting and chatting about them, and what you’re doing sounds extremely intriguing and important from my viewpoint. There is so much that has been lost by household ritual customs, and bringing that back is just as important as any of the larger deity-specific traditions or mysteries, if for no other reason than that everyone has to do dishes, but not everyone has to become an Antinoan devotee. ;)

        So, indeed, I look forward to getting to know you and your work better in the not-too-distant future! (But I have to go keep preparing for PantheaCon now, so I must keep this short!) Thank you for doing all that you have, and I wish you all the best in every endeavor meanwhile!

      • luisvaladez says:

        MadGastronomer: excellent job! I look forward to reading about the Work you are doing. It might interest you to know that I’ve been planning a series of blog posts. But they won’t be up until my devotional to Dionysus is over methinks. But I distinguish Pagan religions between the Religion of the Temple and the Religion of the Hearth. The former I personally teach and emphasize Mystery Cults, personal cultus to a Deity/Deities, and reviving or establishing a certain “tradition” if you will. But the Religion of the Hearth sounds more like what you are doing, and I love it!

        The Hearth component has become especially important for me as I continue to write literature that deals with our faith and topics including chronic pain, depression, anxiety, family squabble issues, cooking and mealtimes, household devotions, children inclusion, etc. Having found almost nothing in “101″ books dealing with everyday life, I’ve started writing some things from the perspective of my own personal faith. Some of it you can currently find on Witchvox.com under my name “Oracle.”

        It seems there is a HUGE need in the Community for these kinds of things, and so onward we go. :)

        Blessings on your journey!

        Eirene kai Hugieia!
        (Peace and Health!)
        ~Oracle~

      • Enjoy Pantheacon, and let me know when you’re next in Seattle. We’ll try to set up some time over tea or coffee.

      • Oracle: I’m always glad to hear that someone else is thinking about and working on the same things I am.

        This conversation, actually, has crystallized an idea for me. I knew very vaguely that I wanted to write prayers for this and that, but now I think I’ll begin work on a Book of Hours for Hearth-Keepers. (Yes, the hearth is important to me, too. When I owned a restaurant, I dedicated it as a shrine of Hestia and our pilots lights as Her eternal flames.)

        And I’ll make sure to include sections on illness (chronic and short-term), injury and mental health (things my household also deal with).

        I look forward to reading your work on the topic.

  3. […] discusses the treatment of polytheists in the interfaith […]

  4. Thank you for this, Oracle. I love you and I want to have your babies! (I’ve been saying that a lot lately…to polytheists!)

    It will be very interesting to see how this turns out on Sunday, when there is the Wiccan Privilege discussion in the CoG hospitality suite at PantheaCon. I’m starting to get invited to more pan-pagan events (or specifically Wiccan ones), and while I’m not getting a lot of further follow-ups from the attendees, the organizers certainly seem interested in what we’re doing…so, some progress is being made in certain areas and on certain fronts.

    I think the only PPDs in this area are in central Puget Sound, which is pretty far for me to go (especially since I don’t drive!). In any case…

    • luisvaladez says:

      Do I get to a sign a “No Obligations” stipulation in the contract with regards to babies? :)

      I’d love to know what will happen Sunday, so would it be alright to keep us posted on that? My Temple participated in the Florida chapter of CoG’s (EMLC: Everglades Moon Local Council) annual event called “Turning of the Tides.” My High Priest, a 3rd degree in the Minoan Brotherhood (as am I) is an ordained clergy through them. One of the ladies we met is a National Officer with CoG and is the one organizing the entire Treasure Coast PPD project, and thus far we’ve been amicable on the internet and in person. It’s just other people we’re having a problem with already…and we haven’t even met then in person!

      As the situation continues, I’ll keep updating. My Temple will probably no longer do a main ritual, but workshops. Most likely, we’ll help out in other venues as well. It’s just a shame our experiences are already unnecessarily negative. Hopefully it won’t deter us from seeking to work with CoG, since we DID meet lots of wonderful people and believe in what they are doing.

      Eirene kai Hugieia!
      (Peace and Health!)
      ~Oracle~

      • Certainly: as I’m the one who requested, it would be my responsibility! ;)

        I will be blogging sporadically through the weekend when there is a moment, and will be doing a fuller report on some things when I get back next week. But, certainly, if things go very poorly on that, I will sit right down and make sure that the wider polytheist world (or at least those parts of it that read my blog) knows about it.

        I’ve known a few other Minoans over the years, including one whose name is Ea (he has another name, too!) who was one of the founders of the Between The Worlds Mens’ Gathering in Ohio, if I am recalling correctly. I’ve had the Eddie Buczynski biography sitting on my shelf for a while waiting to be read…and, I’m very interested in doing so, but I’ve been busy, and it is a rather daunting book just by the looks of it. Anyway, interesting stuff!

        I will assume goodwill until actions demonstrate otherwise where these groups are concerned. But, of course, I’ll let you know how it goes specifically to keep you in the loop.

      • luisvaladez says:

        I cannot simply believe I have not followed your blog before. I’ve just changed that! I look forward to reading the updates.

        Speaking of Antinous: in a few days I’ll be posting some blogs on “The Anointed of Dionysus.” These will feature people I feel were touched by the Raving One in such a way as to make an impact and create a remarkable legacy, both when they were alive and from the Other Side. Antinous will be one of them. :)

      • Fantastic! Brilliant! Excellent! As that was his most frequent visual syncretism, and one of the ones best attested in inscriptions and on coins, it’s a very fitting matter to include. (And, I am in favor of anyone mentioning him at all, as long as they do so accurately, which some people have not been recently…but that’s another story.)

        Also, if you knew this already, my apologies: Hadrian was likewise called a Neos Dionysos on several occasions; Antinous was called Neos Iakkhos, and was given the Dionysian epithets Choreios (on the priest of Antinous’ chair in the Theatre of Dionysos in Athens) and Epiphanes (on a statue base from Antinoopolis).

        So, it’s sort of further fascinating to see that a Neos Dionysos was dating a future Neos Iakkhos…I don’t know if that’s incest, or autoeroticism, or what from a theological viewpoint, but it’s certain intriguing! ;)

      • luisvaladez says:

        I did, but thank you. And you certainly have nothing to apologize for. To be fair, you wouldn’t know what I did or didn’t know.

        Hmm…incest, auto-eroticism: nothing wrong with either. :p But that’s another thing altogether. Hahahaha!

        I’m on the Yahoo page for Ecclesia Antinou, but I haven’t had any time to post anything since I’ve joined. I also follow the Facebook pages, and am a FB friend of Antonius Subia who is a follower of Antinous. I’ve been busy building up my own Temple, cultus, and keeping other pages and forums busy. Oh the excitement of now following your blog is awesome! :)

      • That’s an entirely different group to the Ekklesia Antinoou, and it’s probably better if you don’t mention us to him or in that group, as there are various forms of bad blood between us (long story!). But anyway…! ;) We also have a Yahoo!Group, though, so if you are interested in joining that (though it’s rather quiet most of the time), you’re free to do so.

      • luisvaladez says:

        Oh! Okay you got it. :) But yes I would love to join your Yahoo group. If you’d like when you have time, feel free to send me an invite to:

        hp_gryph@yahoo.com

        I look forward to it!

  5. […] Frew, a Gardnerian High Priest and interfaith worker, published a piece which I mentioned in another blog. I gave my thoughts on the matter and also over the course of several posts, recorded mine and my […]

  6. […] the experience of Pagan Pride Day described by Luis Valadez here and here, which seems to be a common experience among devotional polytheists.  It’s a problem is that […]

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