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Author Topic: Polytheists marginalized?  (Read 519 times)

EclecticWheel

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Polytheists marginalized?
« on: April 28, 2019, 01:50:00 am »
I am seeing something of a flame war occurring between the blogger John Halstead and some polytheist bloggers in some comments.

Do you think polytheists are marginalized in the neo-pagan movement? It wouldn't surprise me.  I'm always interested in these religious conflicts.  No movement I know of is immune.
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Zlote Jablko

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2019, 02:32:46 am »
I am seeing something of a flame war occurring between the blogger John Halstead and some polytheist bloggers in some comments.

Do you think polytheists are marginalized in the neo-pagan movement? It wouldn't surprise me.  I'm always interested in these religious conflicts.  No movement I know of is immune.

It’s hard to speak of marginalization in such a marginalized and diverse community. I think it’s more apt to say that in many contexts, we find ourselves to be a minority even within the neopagan movement. We can often be outnumbered by witches, occultists, pantheists, etc. who are not polytheistic.

As to how that minority status is treated, your mileage will vary. Some groups are legitimately diverse and non-hierarchical. Others are very much based on a dominant ideology.

Yei

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 08:58:51 am »
I am seeing something of a flame war occurring between the blogger John Halstead and some polytheist bloggers in some comments.

Do you think polytheists are marginalized in the neo-pagan movement? It wouldn't surprise me.  I'm always interested in these religious conflicts.  No movement I know of is immune.

Strange that Polytheists should be marginalised in Paganism of all things. Could you post a link to the site where this discussion is taking place? I'd like to get a bit of context. Thanks.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2019, 04:03:06 pm »
Strange that Polytheists should be marginalized in Paganism of all things. Could you post a link to the site where this discussion is taking place? I'd like to get a bit of context. Thanks.

Unfortunately I didn't find the original post which was something to read as were the comments, although I did find this reference to it by the blogger:

https://sonofhel.com/2015/11/03/a-halsteadian-apology/

This writer also refers to polytheists as marginalized in both society and in the public neo-pagan sphere and also refers to John Halstead:

https://axeandplough.com/2017/05/28/the-marginalization-of-polytheists-in-the-public-sphere-of-paganism/

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Yei

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 06:02:22 pm »
Unfortunately I didn't find the original post which was something to read as were the comments, although I did find this reference to it by the blogger:

https://sonofhel.com/2015/11/03/a-halsteadian-apology/

This writer also refers to polytheists as marginalized in both society and in the public neo-pagan sphere and also refers to John Halstead:

https://axeandplough.com/2017/05/28/the-marginalization-of-polytheists-in-the-public-sphere-of-paganism/

How tantalising! That just makes me want to read the original blog more.

Interestingly, the discussion neatly compliments some thoughts I've had recently about New Age beliefs. Specifically, how they treat ancient spiritualistic. Although obviously not true for all, I have noticed a tendency for them to exalt ancient beliefs and culture, and then proceed to strip said beliefs and cultures of their actual religious beliefs, and recast them as secular/scientific.

Its like how anti-vaxxers will deride scientific institutions, and then try to claim science proves them right, like they desperately seek the approval of the thing they are against.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2019, 03:55:53 am »
How tantalising! That just makes me want to read the original blog more.

Interestingly, the discussion neatly compliments some thoughts I've had recently about New Age beliefs. Specifically, how they treat ancient spiritualistic. Although obviously not true for all, I have noticed a tendency for them to exalt ancient beliefs and culture, and then proceed to strip said beliefs and cultures of their actual religious beliefs, and recast them as secular/scientific.

Its like how anti-vaxxers will deride scientific institutions, and then try to claim science proves them right, like they desperately seek the approval of the thing they are against.

People do have a tendency to depart from original meanings. Even ancient pagans did this when major cultural shifts made them feel distant from their ancestors. A late Stoic or Neoplatonic philosopher would likely interpret the traditional Greek Gods in a very symbolic manner, very different from the literal narratives of Hesiod.

At a certain point it does raise the question though: why use ancient names in the first place if only to reinterpret them? There can be many reasons. It can be an attempt to appropriate powerful symbols or prestige and take it outside of its cultural context. It may also simply be due to an orthopraxic view, based on practice rather than doctrine. I.e. “these ritual words and actions are meaningful, but what you believe while you practice them is less important.”

I do also think that the idea of reconstructionism takes some explaining for some neopagans who have as universalist view of things. We can appear to be narrow in our culturally specific approach. Yet what they may miss is that Polytheists rooted in different cultures tend to get along pretty well due to similar world views. We may be practically moored to a particular culture, but all Polytheists I know tend to have a lot of common ground regardless of culture. In fact, we may have more in common with each other than with a Wiccan who venerates Gods by the same names.

There is a reason I associate with ADF when I feel social, which is basically celtic recon.






SunflowerP

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2019, 04:09:43 am »
I am seeing something of a flame war occurring between the blogger John Halstead and some polytheist bloggers in some comments.

Just gonna note here that the use of the present tense is misleading; this flamewar is from almost four years ago. Which doesn't mean it's not a good discussion starter; just that knowing its age adds context. (There've been many very heated debates in the pagan blogosphere over the last several years, very often related, as this is, to pagan identity and whether some paganisms are centred or marginalized; mining those whose heat has since dissipated to start TC threads is actually a very good idea.)

I've never been confident, myself, that the language of privilege and oppression is the most effective way of talking about infighting in Pagandom (unless one is talking specifically about ways that kyriarchy in broader society is replicated in its subcultures, of which Pagandom is one). Some of my reasons for that are also expressed by Caelesti/Tanbrid, in connection with an earlier round of infighting, here.

Unfortunately I didn't find the original post which was something to read as were the comments, although I did find this reference to it by the blogger:

https://sonofhel.com/2015/11/03/a-halsteadian-apology/

It appears that this blogger has an entire category in his top menu titled Halstead and the “Atheist Wars”. It's not complete; evidently he didn't update it - but his 'John Halstead' tag has the later posts. (He might not be the troll Halstead labels him as being, but he sure seems to have been up for a fight.)

Possible content warning: While I have not checked all his Halstead posts to see whether it appears there or not, my general look-around at his blog indicates that he's (at best) an apologist for neofascism and the alt-right.

On the Halsteadian side, this and this appear to be directly relevant, but neither has comments (very likely the result of Patheos's experimentation with alternate comment systems and return to Disqus) so no visible comment-section flamewars.

... Oho. Might this be the original you couldn't find? (It's linked in the post you did find, but while the link text is about Halstead (not) apologizing, the link itself is to the post not a comment, so it's not obvious that it's the site of the flamewar. (Or of a flamewar; I wouldn't be surprised if other posts also had comment-section flamewars in which Halstead participates.)

In fairness I should mention that Halstead is also evidently very up for a fight, so.

Yei, I believe I've given you plenty with which to scratch your itch to read more about it :).

Quote
This writer also refers to polytheists as marginalized in both society and in the public neo-pagan sphere and also refers to John Halstead:

https://axeandplough.com/2017/05/28/the-marginalization-of-polytheists-in-the-public-sphere-of-paganism/

That one's long and meaty; I've had to save it for later reading. One thing I did notice is that it appears to be, or at least contain some material, pertinent to Darkhawk's and my ongoing project (still very much 'under construction') nicknamed 'The List', a compilation of ways in which people carry unexamined baggage from the religious contexts they were raised with into paganism.

Sunflower
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EclecticWheel

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2019, 04:46:24 am »
... Oho. Might this be the original you couldn't find? (It's linked in the post you did find, but while the link text is about Halstead (not) apologizing, the link itself is to the post not a comment, so it's not obvious that it's the site of the flamewar. (Or of a flamewar; I wouldn't be surprised if other posts also had comment-section flamewars in which Halstead participates.)

In fairness I should mention that Halstead is also evidently very up for a fight, so.

Yei, I believe I've given you plenty with which to scratch your itch to read more about it :).

That's it!  Thank you.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 03:56:49 pm »
In fairness I should mention that Halstead is also evidently very up for a fight, so.

Pretty sure it was Halstead about whom I said years ago that life is too short to argue with Halstead.

(Or whoever.  But I think it was that guy.)
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Jainarayan

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2019, 09:11:18 am »
Strange that Polytheists should be marginalised in Paganism of all things.

My thought exactly. The very basis of Paganism, traditional or neo- is polytheism, yes?
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
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MamaThistle

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2019, 06:27:06 pm »
My thought exactly. The very basis of Paganism, traditional or neo- is polytheism, yes?

I think the definition of Paganism (big P, little p, smiley face p, :p) is mostly ambiguous but many people associate the paganism with polytheism. At the very least those that embrace the label pagan are usually accepting of polytheism if not polytheists themselves. So yeah, not buying it.



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SunflowerP

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Re: Polytheists marginalized?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2019, 05:44:30 am »
Pretty sure it was Halstead about whom I said years ago that life is too short to argue with Halstead.

(Or whoever.  But I think it was that guy.)

At the very least, he's an extremely plausible person for you to have said that of.

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