Who sounds like The New Right now?

I’ve been very uncertain about writing this. Last night, I gave this article on Gods&Radicals a read after I saw it on my feed and, to be honest, it’s really bottomed me out. I kept reading the article, over and over, to make sure that I was reading exactly what I was reading. And something in me truly embittered, because I was reading things that weren’t true – and some things that were true were twisted in a way that made it something radical to war against. This was a struggle for me to write, and I feel that it doesn’t back the titanium-hardness that my writing usually does, so I apologize that it’s terribly written.

Rhyd Wildermuth has notified publicly that he was the writer of this piece, and of course the article does represent Gods&Radicals as a whole. I think that he will be writing a follow-up piece on this, so I look forward to that when it comes out.

I am exhausted of this conversation. I am tired of it. I am bitter. And it’s because of this deep-seated exhaustion, tiredness, embitterment that I’m writing. This is, in many ways, an attack not only on the gods, but also an attack of the human beings who engage with them in a different way than those at Gods&Radicals do – an attack of using very valid concerns and good, necessary points to craft a battlefield: us versus them, right versus wrong.

But, of course, that’s not discriminatory, dishonest, or fascist. Not at all.

I do believe that what is being talked about is important to talk about. I do think it’s important to take a look at negative presences in any tradition, structure, or movement. I think it’s important to honestly take a look at the impact of capitalism and power structures in our lives and in our religions. I also think it’s important that, when we speak of these traditions, structures, and movements, we provide a fair and unbiased look as we possibly can. And, yes, this is difficult – and all the more reason to do it, because acts of justice and setting-right are founded upon the clarity of the truth.

Truth is the last thing I see in this article.

Devotional Polytheism: Similar to the problems in Reconstructionism, but with an extra dimension. Because Devotional Polytheism places final authority in ‘the gods’ and emphasises hierarchical relationships (between human and god, priest and devotee), ethical questions cannot be challenged by concerned people because ‘the gods will it.’

For a blog titled Gods&Radicals, written for by bloggers who claim to have their work of a polytheist-led project blessed with the gods and spirits, I find it fascinating that ‘the gods’ is put in quotation marks. (Then again, I am not surprised).

Devotional polytheism is gods-centric. It is fully receptive to the will of the gods and places us in various positions of engagement with the gods and Their interests.  This position of engagement is voluntary, and everyone has a different kind of engagement. Neither is lesser nor greater.

However, I cannot get over that last part:

… ethical questions cannot be challenged by concerned people because ‘the gods will it.’

I have never heard of anything more ridiculous or dishonest in my life. Never have I been part of a conversation (whether actively contributing to it or simply reading/listening) where this has happened: where no one has asked questions, or where someone has shut down conversation with “There’s no if, ands, our buts about it because God X told me to do this and you’re being impious in questioning Their will.” If anything, we actively fight that sort of thinking. Being someone who meaningfully engages with their faith is being someone who demands, of themselves and others, the truth – constantly, not just for our benefit or our comfort level.

This article suggests that people who engage with the gods (in ways they don’t approve, of course) simply accept any movement of discernment without checking. Double checking. Triple checking. Pleading. Doubting. Questioning. Fighting again. As if devotional polytheists everywhere were running around telling each other not to question anything and not to have any conversations about, say, the role of animal sacrifice in ceremony or the ontology of the gods. Accepting divine will immediately is not a prerogative of mine, neither a goal. Using divine will as an excuse (and/or lie) to get other people to do what I want them to do is no prerogative nor goal, either, and I will stop it when I see it. This article suggests that both are done by devotional polytheists as well as other traditions and practices, and that both are movements backed by mindless, fundamentalist, unreasonable people. Putting the gods first is much, much more than simply explaining it away as merely a hierarchical structure, and it’s clear here that the truth is conveniently overseen and presented in a way so simplified and stripped of meaning that it’s actually a lie.

And as John Beckett said perfectly in his piece Guilt By Association: “Yes, fascists and racists may abuse [beliefs and practices that are meaningful and sacred to some of us], but that does not make them dangerous in and of themselves.” This article suggests that anything in the list under “What is the New Right’s influence on paganism” has an unhealthy structure yielding unhealthy results.

I think this is just a very subtle way to further drive in a particular nail that’s been hammered in for a long time: that people who believe in Powers outside of themselves are backwards, primitive, superstitious, crazy, imbalanced, and devoid of critical thinking skills or moral compasses. It also shows a desire or inability to understand the complexities, intricacies, and grappling-struggles of a life of faith when intimately engaged with the Powers, or at least to understand that these things are present in polytheism for many people. It shows a position that the gods don’t matter and shouldn’t matter – that maybe They should be present, but insofar as They can be controlled and manipulated by Us. And it shows a BIG problem with authority, even with the gods present or with people who have decided to give their lives into service for the gods.

(Funny that: a blog whose creator has admitted is led by the Powers, because “the gods will for this project to continue,” is putting this opinion forward. But, of course, this article is the right way to do it, right?)

And it’s not to say that I think devotional polytheism is safe from someone who wants to take advantage of it. But as John Beckett said perfectly in his piece Guilt By Association: “Yes, fascists and racists may abuse [beliefs and practices that are meaningful and sacred to some of us], but that does not make them dangerous in and of themselves.”

This article exists on a platform that claims to support different perspectives for a greater polytheism – yet it calls for the same us v. them, “enemy at the gates” mentality that it cries against. So I’ll close with my own list of “What Else Can We Do?” for consideration.

Ask Uncomfortable Questions. Where is the name of the writer in this article? Where are the sources, the documentation behind the statements in this article? Why is the article written with such obfuscation, making things unclear and superficial especially for readers who might not have any idea of what’s going on? Why is Feri, a mystery tradition, hailed to be “much more immune to the New Right’s influence” when other mystery traditions in that same article are posted in the “New Right Influence of Paganism” list? Did anyone else notice that, from the list, the “reconstructionist,” “devotional polytheism,” and “mystery traditions” descriptions specifically were devoid of positive qualities?  And for an article that calls for us to ask questions and challenge the structure, where’s the comments button?

Demand clear stances from leaders. I will never debate the reality that many people have taken advantage of what is supposed to be a position of clean, honest, c/Community oriented service such as priesthood, leader etc. I will never, ever tell someone to stop questioning or to hold back an inquiry simply for one’s position. But positions in leadership and service do not, as a standard, lead to all manners of abuses. We should always be on the look-out for abusers and people who have ulterior motives, using the gods or the will of the gods for their own personal advancement (sound familiar?). This article suggests that some of us do not watch out for ‘false prophets’ and simply swallow anything that has the sentences ‘This is the will of the gods’ attached without thinking twice. And, granted, if we are to restore traditions, it’s always good to have wise-people about: people who are trained, people who have an incredible amount of knowledge and wisdom to help guide others to the gods, people who can be leaders in a community. People in our communities – and communities everywhere – need people to help – or do people simply go mountain-climbing on a whim without a teacher? Who does a community member turn to when they’re having a really difficult time in their practice, or a life-changing situation that they don’t know how to process? Demanding clear stances from leaders shouldn’t be an activity backed solely on the premise that community leaders are only in this for the money and the power.

Build strong connections across traditions. I find this one difficult to reconcile logically with the article, considering there was an entire list of traditions who were associated with fascism or fascist tendencies – how could you ask that of others when, in the article, it is wickedly present? How can you ask to build strong connections across traditions when an article has been published that has listed several traditions as ‘guilty by association’, as Beckett has stated, and provides a ‘guide’ to fighting The New Right? (Or should we only build strong connections with certain traditions?)

Challenge divine proclamations: Oh, I have a challenge. The gods at Gods&Radicals sing their tune a little too loudly, I think. My personal opinion? They’re doing the same thing that they cry against: they’re using the gods for their benefit, for their message. And the message I hear is this, whether it was an intended message or not:

“You (and ‘the gods’) can have as much authority as I am comfortable with,” says this article, “and if you don’t agree with me, you clearly have been influenced by fascism and you’re a threat that needs to be fought against. We stand for everything right in a world gone wrong. And in a world where it’s us v. them, here’s what we can do to get started on being on the right side of the fight. We’re an authority on this, after all; we know what we’re talking about. We’re Gods&Radicals.”

Who sounds like The New Right now?

 

 

 

 

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31 thoughts on “Who sounds like The New Right now?”

  1. Reblogged this on Gangleri's Grove and commented:
    Ossia Sylvia has written a brilliant response to the recent Radicals with Gods attempt to blur the lines between legitimate fascism and religious traditions that they disagree with, which is a dangerous thing and she calls it out. Good on her!

    “And the message I hear is this, whether it was an intended message or not:

    “You (and ‘the gods’) can have as much authority as I am comfortable with,” says this article, “and if you don’t agree with me, you clearly have been influenced by fascism and you’re a threat that needs to be fought against. We stand for everything right in a world gone wrong. And in a world where it’s us v. them, here’s what we can do to get started on being on the right side of the fight. We’re an authority on this, after all; we know what we’re talking about. We’re Gods&Radicals.”

    Who sounds like The New Right now?”

    Read more here:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate this; thank you very, very much!

      I hope so! I would certainly like dialogue with this and understand more of what’s going on. I certainly do not contest that many of the points in this article are absolutely necessary for discussion; but it wasn’t fully discussion. It was not as generous as that.

      I think Rhyd is going to write his response in a few days? We will be able to know more from there, I think.

      Like

  2. When I asked the Gods and Radicals crew why there was no comments section on this post, they (Rhyd probably but I didn’t ask) told me it was because they posted it as a Page and not a Post, and their current WordPress template didn’t allow for comments on Pages. I didn’t follow up to ask whether it was posted as a Page for the sake of excluding comments or if it was for some other reason. Nor did I ask Why it was an unsigned piece. I usually don’t assign malicious intent to these kinds of things, and frankly, by the time I woke up this morning ready to follow up, this had already exploded.

    I’m interested to read Rhyd’s follow up. I’m hoping it clears some of this up, even if we don’t particularly like his answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I see! It depends on the template, I think, and usually templates have it so that posts AND pages get comments.

      I don’t want to say that it’s malicious intent – it’s just a logical critique of when a piece that asks for X and Y doesn’t have X and Y present. It’s not very logical (or fair) to ask someone to not eat omelets while you yourself are eating an omelet.

      I’m interested too – I want to know more about what he meant. None of us are above critique, nor should we ever be. I understand his points, but at the same time, what in the actual fuck though?

      Like

      1. Yeah, the explanation made sense to me.

        Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t trying to imply you were calling it malicious. I probably should have added that caveat to my original post. The G&R piece has issues both in tone and content that I really think needed to be edited out before being made public. Then again, the post might read exactly as Rhyd intended. I’m hoping that is cleared up.

        I’d like to think that this is just a case of bad writing. I CAN see this all being unintended. I follow the Gods and Radicals site and generally find their articles give me food-for-thought, but this, this is either a major fuck up or intentionally insulting. I’m hoping for the former.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh no, not at all! I totally understand. And I see that there is a problem with some at G&R dismissing particular reactions as “emotional outbursts” or just something very petty. It’s very nice to be able to see how they treat people who reacted to the piece and are outraged, saddened, and hurt by the tone of the piece. The intent doesn’t matter – it’s how it came out.

        G&R makes many good points – I will never contest that. Neither will I ever contest that many of the issues that are brought up HAVE to be spoken of, nor will I contest that activism can be an offering for and on behalf of the gods. However, this article has gone too far. I don’t feel like this is a bad case of writing, though – Rhyd is an excellent and skilled writer, choosing his words and tone with care. I would be very surprised, if not impressed, if his rebuttal includes any apology of bad writing. It’s not bad writing at all, and that’s what troubles many.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Pages on most WP templates don’t show who the writer/author of the piece is, as opposed to posts on the blog section. One could sign off on a page with a signature of some kind, of course, but the page won’t (as far as I’ve used WP and know) display an author. (Just to add my own knowledge of this stuff.)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s good to know. I don’t know that I will ever have a guest writer on my WP site, but if so I’ll make sure it is clearly stated who is writing the piece, especially if I think there is any chance it might cause a a shit-storm.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you ever plan to have a guest author on your site, especially one you might want to have again, and they have a WP account, they can actually be added into your blog as a author. WP allows you to set how much ‘control’ they have over stuff (being able to just make posts but not delete or edit any, that sort of thing). I love using that feature when I host other writers.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. This. ☆☆☆

    “I think this is just a very subtle way to further drive in a particular nail that’s been hammered in for a long time: that people who believe in Powers outside of themselves are backwards, primitive, superstitious, crazy, imbalanced, and devoid of critical thinking skills or moral compasses. It also shows a desire or inability to understand the complexities, intricacies, and grappling-struggles of a life of faith when intimately engaged with the Powers, or at least to understand that these things are present in polytheism for many people. It shows a position that the gods don’t matter and shouldn’t matter – that maybe They should be present, but insofar as They can be controlled and manipulated by Us. And it shows a BIG problem with authority, even with the gods present or with people who have decided to give their lives into service for the gods.”

    It goes back to agency, and our previous discussion triggered by your brilliant analogy to the Catholic Church: agency, marginalization, etc.

    https://wyrddesigns.wordpress.comb/2016/03/19/choose-your-words-wisely-for-they-may-grow-up-and-change-the-world/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering that I felt like total shit when I wrote this, I am shocked that people like what I wrote, and I am very honored to have people read.

      OOOOH, yes!!!! I can’t wait for what you’ll write, which I’m sure will cause as much a stir as this article did!!

      Like

      1. it’s not a surprise you feel like shit. this is….bad. Way worse than Halstead. But then…perhaps the Gods gave us Halstead to prepare us for this. First we had to fight to “stay pagan.” Now it looks like we begin to fight to retake Paganism itself.

        I’ve already written a 4 parter based on that article alone. I’ve seen at least one related article from G&R, and I’m sure there’s going to be more which hopefully people will send to me.

        May the Gods guide and protect us.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve been feeling something like this coming for a while – very bad feelings, and I feel like there’s more to come from many sides.

        But it’s good to critique everything and to see things from as many angles as possible. I really admire your critiques, and so I look forward to your pieces!!

        Hail, and may the gods guide and protect us all.

        Like

  4. Maybe you should give it up, dear Ossia, because this seems like a loosing battle to me. You can debate against them for eternity, and in the end, they will always write up a rebuttal to defend themselves. It just bothers me that they label us within their own framework that isn’t true, and it’s annoying that they try to fit our spiritual context within a philosophical and political box. For what is worth, was it worth loosing your mental health and spirit health for this? All of their arguments will only sabotage, and I do emphasize sabotage your faith, belief, and devotion to the gods.

    I mean, they sound like this to me, “I am theist, but I’m also anti-theist. I believed in the Gods, but they are like figures of fiction and imagination with no power, so it’s okay for me to dissect them as silly characters of the human imagination.” Okay, I understand. And I suppose they like to drive it so hard in their articles to prove they are right.

    But I won’t let their point of view ruined my faith and relationship with my Gods, thank you very much. My religious practice is not theirs to marginalized in their radical box. My gods taught me to stay loyal, faithful, and true without much questioning, and that’s all that matters in my journey.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Perhaps. I’ve really thought about it. But what kind of a person would I be if I stopped critiquing things? Even if it was a repetition, the point is the same: that this behavior continues and continues. Every new article written by someone who despises other traditions is one more article that eyes have to read; and every new article in defense of said traditions, whatever they are, is also one more article that eyes have to read. I can’t morally sit back and watch them attack other faiths – other people.

      It is exhausting. And it is sabotage. But every time something like this happens, it always helps me re-evaluate my beliefs and my engagement. And that is a very good thing because, every time, I make the decision to remain strong with my Powers. Every day, I love and praise Them more. Every day, I try to find something positive to balance out the attack – nothing angers the silencer more than a loud and joyful song.

      I’ve been down lately (for reasons outside of this, but the situations in the polytheist/pagan communities is killing me personally) but, to answer your question: yes, it’s worth it. It’s worth it to write a critique and to see that the sentiment is shared by others. These are important things to talk about; there are real lives in the community affected by this. This article is the kind of article that would really influence someone who read this without any notion or understanding of the communities within paganism; I thought to myself, “Could I be able to turn away from this article and say nothing, knowing that someone may read this and think certain things of certain traditions and ideas?” The answer, clearly, was no.

      I understand exactly where you’re coming from. 🙂 My faith and my relationship with my Powers is strong, unthreatened by such posts. But some articles are dangerous. Some articles are dishonest. Some articles are corrosive and subversive. And I have never been very good at turning my back when I know that something is a lie. That article was full of lies, twisted to paint some as enemies and fascists. That infuriates me, and that is all the more reason why I refuse to allow this sabotage. No one is allowed to sabotage something I love. They won’t be able to rip it from my cold, dead hands, either, because I know I’ll be one HELL of a spirit to contend with.

      Like

      1. And you should keep fighting. You just need to learn the art of debate and defending yourself. I mean, if they stay strong by insulting our faith, then guess what? You loose. You learn defeat and losses sometimes, but some day you will. Debating what is right and wrong. Aren’t we priestesses of Gods of war? Then we have to learn to defend our faith and protect our Gods and their myths, even if they dissect it as fiction. What I’m saying is, you will get attacked and always attacked, but keep in mind, it’s a debate.

        You know, I’m writing my thoughts out, because I ought to let you know, you’re not alone. Because this argument boggles my mind. I coming from a place of trying to be a reasonable and rational devotional polytheist context.

        I’m trying to understand how devotional polytheism is equal to fascism. To me, the face of fascism is either Hitler, Mussolini, etc. So, the argument is, we polytheists believe in the Gods, but that mean, the Gods have power and authority over our free will, so in the process we loss our ability and independence to think for ourselves as human beings. Which isn’t true, because I’m still a devoted polytheist, but I have much free will and power over my own body and my decisions as long my brain cells will survive.

        When I started out devotional polytheism, I don’t believe Gods have authority over me. I see them as family members, friends, guides, advisers, and I’m like their Nun, I see it as a service of my faith to the Divine Power. So what bothers me, that’s like saying the Gods have a political agenda to make us slaves to a faith, and this what makes people blind. Faith is blind, and this is the concept that is problematic.

        I believe the Gods don’t have much of a political agenda. You only use the word fascism, when there is a political leader trying to brainwash people to follow their ideas to change a nation or country toward Nationalism to unite a divided country with a divided political system. We’re not here to change nations or countries, or change laws. I believe the only agenda we have is few such as promoting freedom of speech, freedom to worship, and what we have left and left to deal with it, its all we have.

        The way I see what you and ms. Galina is defending the polytheism faith, and for that, the both of you are very brave, and you’re not alone in this battle of wills and the mind. It’s only exhausting, because the view is so anti-theistic, and anyone with that view will try to destroy your faith and religious rationale down.

        Polytheism isn’t broken, but it’s isn’t a perfect system of faith, and like every other religion, it is open to criticism and debate. I suppose we cannot fix it, however it has been dead for such a long time as polytheism have changed over human history and we have to modify in this progression age of change and shifts of our times, and now we live in age where there is a rebirth and revival of our Gods through us, the spirituality priestesses of our Gods who were trying to restore the lost culture back in a culture that is destroyed by social cynicism.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. In the past few weeks I have come to your blog through different discussions. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the work you’re doing. I am thankful that you are holding your perspective, asking questions, and willing to listen to the people you disagree with/are challenging. For the sake of transparency, in case it needs to be said, I’ve written a number of pieces for Gods and Radicals. That’s all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Anthony! I appreciate you taking the time to read my posts, and appreciate even more that you see where I’m coming from! 🙂 I am definitely open to discussion and to listen to other perspectives – I want to get down to the truth, whatever the truth is.

      Like

  6. “Why is Feri, a mystery tradition, hailed to be “much more immune to the New Right’s influence” when other mystery traditions in that same article are posted in the “New Right Influence of Paganism” list?”
    probably because many of my order of the craft are allied, and some also write for the site.
    It’s a bias to keep ‘friends’. evidently they aren’t immune to the influences of the new left lol.
    It’s something I’ve warned about in the past but been pretty much dismissed, heh

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I understand that several on G&R identify as reconstructionists and devotional polytheists (the latter which I THINK Rhyd would call himself, although I am not sure now). It is important to take a look at one’s own practice and be unflinchingly honest of whatever presences are working within one’s tradition or path.

      However, as I’ve said before in my comments, nothing and no one is above critique, and it’s unfair IF that is the case. If it’s an issue of “Yes, we identify that Tradition X that has the possibility of fascist tendencies, but I’m in Tradition X and I’m NOT a fascist, so that doesn’t apply to me, especially when *I* am doing Tradition X RIGHT,” that’s also inexcusable. Everything was painted with a broad brush, and the brush passes over those at G&R as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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