Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I am No Longer Blogging at Witches & Pagans

Greetings, readers from PaganSquare! You might be interested in reading the post that Sam Webster tried to link to, but is no longer on that site. It can be found here, part two is here, and part three can be found here.

About a year ago, Anne Niven, the publisher and editor of Witches & Pagans magazine, invited me to start blogging at the magazine's website. She was interested in me specifically because she had seen some of my comments over at The Wild Hunt, and wanted to provide a different perspective on things Pagan and Heathen, since I was a conservative/libertarian and Republican. (I've since left my Republican party registration and become a registered Libertarian, but that's largely incidental.)

Over the course of the last year or so, I blogged about a number of things, some involving politics, some purely speaking to the religious side of Heathenry, sometimes exploring questions of Pagan identity in the broad sense. Always, I tried to do so with an eye not towards trying to convert anyone else to my political or religious views, but merely to try to show that the Pagan and Heathen tents are, or should be, large enough to accommodate people of all ends of the spectrum; liberal, conservative, libertarian, and more. Anne fully backed my broader message of inclusion, even if she didn't particularly agree with my specific stances on issues. Which is fine.

Today, however, I tendered my resignation as a blogger on the site. It has become increasingly apparent that the Pagan tent just isn't big enough to accommodate those whose views, be they political or religious, are not sufficiently Politically Correct, or which run counter to what the (very vocal) majority of Wiccans and Pagans believe.

The tent is big enough for Heathens, but only Heathens that are sufficiently like their Wiccan and Pagan friends as to not seem too "different". Superficial differences that they can point to and say "we're diverse!" are good, but actual, substantive, core differences are just too... different:
"You call the quarters using a hammer instead of an athame? And you call it a "hammer hallowing"? That's so cool!"
"You actually treat the other members of your tribe like family? Literally, you put your tribe before other people? That's weird and cultish."
The tent is definitely not big enough for conservatives, libertarians, or Republicans, who are continuously vilified with a drumbeat of bile directed towards them, all ironically in the name of "diversity". Diversity is good, apparently, as long as you agree with them.

Now, I've gotten a lot of heat over the year for some of the things I've posted, but I expected that, and what people like Gus DiZerga and his odious ilk think couldn't matter less to me. I gather that having a conservative blogger didn't in and of itself cause major problems in terms of boycotts and the like. But several things have happened recently that led me to my decision to leave.

First was the reaction when my friend and Lord, Dan Halloran, a prominent Republican and Theodish Lord currently under the cloud of political scandal, dared to post one or two things about the God Tyr. Not politics. Just an academic treatment of the lore. The reaction was enormous and negative. Not completely unexpected, of course, but very negative in the extreme. To the point where members of the Troth and other Asatru groups were threatening to boycott the magazine (not that they have had a particularly strong presence as advertisers, as far as I can tell, but still...).

Next, my friend Piperskegg, who is well known as a builder of bridges within the Heathen community, dared to post something that was in favor of the Folkish end of the Heathen spectrum. Since the Pagan (and parts of the Heathen) community has decided that any trace of ethnic pride is by definition racism, as long as it's coming from a European, the firestorm was instant and dwarfed anything that Dan Halloran's posts might have done. This time the calls for boycott came from the Pagans, who refused to be associated with such a person, and Anne was compelled to issue a warning to him.

Finally, today a post went up by someone who is not Germanic Heathen, but a Celtic Neopagan, making the blanket claim that the Asatru Folk Assembly, of which I am a proud and happy member, is an "unabashedly racist Heathen organization." Aside from the fact that that is not true, it is also libelous in a legal sense, and I made an official complaint to Anne as the editor of the site. The blogger refused to change the wording, and Anne decided not to press the issue, for fear that it would cost her the support of most of her core subscribers and advertisers.

That was the final straw.

I cannot in good conscience support, through my own writing efforts, a publication that allows such vile and scurrilous defamation to remain on its site, of an organization to which I belong and which I support. The environment was already hostile enough for someone who dared to buck the trend politically and spiritually.

Being called a member of an "unabashedly racist" organization, and having that let stand by the publisher of the site, was simply too much.

Alas, the experiment was a worthy one, and illustrative by its failure. The "Pagan community" trumpets how they're all about respecting differences and showing tolerance, but will only tolerate their kind of difference. Diversity, apparently, only goes so far.

UPDATE: The offending post has been removed, and it seems that the poster has left the site entirely. While I applaud that move of course, the larger point remains, that Pagans in general are not open to political, religious, or social ideas too far removed from what they're accustomed to, and thus the effort is wasted.


  1. modern paganism is merely a illegitimate alliance of environmentalism , feminism and ceremonial magic;
    the first two are inventions of the twentieth century
    .. the latter is Christian / European in origin (Agrippa, faust, etc). .

  2. A someone who prefers to stay out of controversial online Pagan discussions to preserve my sanity and muse, I completely missed all of this. I am sorry for that: as a fellow PaganSquare blogger, I feel I should have been there to support you. Good on you for making this decision:
    I would have done the same, I think. I respect your writing, your practice, and your opinion, and I am sorry to see you go. Be well, and may the Gods look favorably upon you.

  3. That's too bad. I'll miss reading your posts on PS. Steven was very diplomatic when he resigned. I wonder if it's occurred to anyone that wanting to be around your own kind of people, whether you use ethnicity or political affiliations, is its own kind of folkishness, in which case damn near everyone is folkish. LOL. I don't care much about race or ethnicity, but I know that I still tend to keep company with people who are like me in faith.

  4. Hi Jon. I'm glad I found your rant. I'm a Pagan/Libertarian/Republican, and I have long been often offended by those who conflate pagan with leftist political advocacy. They are all about "diversity" as long as you never disagree with their very narrow world view. They are all "opposed to racism" as long as you never complain about anti-white racism that has become endemic. I'm sorry you had to leave Pagan Square. We need more good voices even if we get bashed by the radical leftists. Blessings. Greybeard

  5. The cartoons and "jokes" throughout this entry were rather problematic for me. The moment I read "Liberal Tolerance: Agree or Shut Up!" the anger it caused me got in the way of everything else you were trying to convey. There are many liberals out there, like myself, who do not censor others, or believe that we should all think the same way. (You should read my Facebook page sometime) I have always tried to be very cognizant of the fact that there are conservative Pagans out there, and that much of Modern Pagandom has a definite libertarian streak running through it. To paint with such a broad brush limits your potential allies.

  6. On one hand I feel for you- Ive seen things like this before, and it hurts me to see it. Many pagans do seem like a branch of an incredibly loose universalist unitarian church, and can be very overt in their attacks on people who arent accepting of everything under the sun- because if anything is judged not good enough it might cause something in their personal thoughts to be judged so, and that they cannot allow out of fear.

    On the other hand I cant get behind folkish heathenism- the science just isnt there. Given how widespread the Nordic people flung their genetics before the modern age, and how much that has led to a mixing pot an an even larger global scale... theres no legitimate way to say anyone outside of remote amazon rain forests and australian aborigines cant have a bit of viking blood in them, and thus have ancestors for that part of our practice.

    And honestly even if they didnt, as rare a person as that would be in the western world, why would we not allow them to be the first of their own, new line. Are we so burgeoning with followers that we should turn away people on basis of race as opposed to say ideology?

    Wich brings me to the other point thats often brought forth: 'something special for europeans'. This I understand, this desire, this need to have something that others do not in the same way that they have things we dont. Religion shouldnt be such a thing. A half native kid being kept out of the ranks of the einherjar because of his bloodline makes no sense when we have jotun and alfar walking in the ranks of the gods who themselves are of different peoples. And Ive never seen someone who was 100% italian and spanish excluded from asatru gatherings... so why this?

    True, its not "burnem and hangem or enslavem' like the Neo-nazis spout, but its not sensical in and of itself. I wont take arms against someone for being folkish, but the cognitive dissonance it requires to exist befuddles me.

    I hope you have better luck wherever you go though, and wish you well.

  7. Sean, I'm afraid you seem to be laboring under a great many misapprehensions of what Folkish Heathenism is. Your comment seems (and forgive me if I am wrong in my assumption here) to be based on stereotypes that the non-Folkish tend to propagate.

    When you say "the science just isn't there", I must protest. The science of genetics, specifically in terms of ancestry, is most certainly "there". If I may make so bold, you seem to not quite understand how it is applied in the case of Folkish Heathenry.

    Perhaps it might be fruitful if you were to explain, in plain and explicit terms, just what you think Folkish Heathens believe when it comes to questions of ancestry in relation to religion, because what I am able to infer from your comment doesn't really look like what most of the Folkish Heathens I know believe. From there, we will hopefully have a conversation on the subject.

    I might also direct your attention to my post from September 21, entitled "Folkish does not mean racist." That might give you a little more insight into what Folkish Heathens believe, from the perspective of a Folkish Heathen, rather than those who *think* they know what Folkish Heathens believe based on their own preconceptions.

    1. Long story short: Folkish beliefs mean that every people, along ethnic lines more or less, has its own gods and its own history, and that cultural traditions shouldn't mix or would be useless for those not of that lineage. For example, a person of germanic ancestry would worship Norse gods and someone of African ancestry would worship African tribal gods. Folkish Heathens Ive met have upheld this, and this is where I say the science isnt there.

      Ghengis Khan died on the border of europe, yet the science of genetics shows us that almost everyone in europe in the modern age can trace their ancestry back to this one man- a mongol from 700 years ago. By this idea most people in europe could thus worship from mongolian tradition if they so wanted... which would be interesting I suppose. By the same token the thousands of northmen who went out from their homelands into the world and slept with thousands upon thousands of women, some of whom returned with them and some of whom had bastard children across three, perhaps four continents means that descendants of the vikings are literally everywhere on earth. You cannot, without genetically testing them, say that any given person in america to day is not a descendant of a norse person.

      While I agree one can ask for, and believe that wanting a separation isnt the same thing as saying that one is superior to another that doesnt change the fact, the scientific fact, that you cannot claim that someone isnt of scandinavian descent without a genetic test. And so I ask you, for I have not been to every kindred by any means, what does it really boil down to in the end? Is it: Youre bulgarian and greek, this probably isnt your thing. Or is it "Youre skins pretty black for a viking their dude."

      Because Ive encountered alot of the latter, but to date very very little of the former. And that idea is racist. Several of my cousins are half-black, and show it to more or less degree than the others. All of them have scandinavian descent via the northmen who settled the british isles, and we can show it via blood tests as well as clan history. Yes if the darkest of my cousins showed up at a kindred I have seen people as obviously mulatto rejected. This I find somewhat ridiculous.

      Ive read your article, and it doesnt seem to disagree with my knowledge of folkish Asatru, so perhaps you can explain to me where the disconnect is? Honestly this has always struck me as one of those ideas thats an interesting philosophy but that completely falls apart when applied to the real world.

    2. I suppose a far more pointed question would be: why do we care? Why do we care where they came from as compared to where they are trying to go? I dont care about the other faiths whove said theyre closing ranks along genetic lines, because those faiths are not mine- they arent my responsibility and they do not reflect upon me. This does.

      So. In the sagas we see the joining of two different tribes of gods- the aesir and the vanir. They mix, they become one, they move forward. Loki and Skadi are both Jotunn, and fully gods in their own right and part of the kindred of the Aesir for quite some time... if we are to follow their example, why should we turn others away?

      We shouldnt. If they are sincere in their wish to joint he kindreds they should be accepted. Im far more worried about people who want to simply get excited over comic books- an enjoyable read but hardly religious- than I am of people who may not have enough 'blood quantum' to get into valhalla.