RSS

People > Gods

26 Aug

I remember seeing posts a year or two ago from various Piety Posse members who were attempting to draw proverbial lines in the sand. In these posts, they stated that they didn’t want certain people in their religion. Mainly, these people would be those who didn’t honor the gods in a certain way. People who didn’t give the offerings they deemed proper. People who didn’t practice their religion in exactly the same way that these people believed to be “fit”.

It is funny that we draw our lines in the sand over offerings. Over shrine adornments. Over UPG and personal interpretations of myths. We draw lines over things that are personal aspects of each person’s religious practice, and are relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

We are okay with drawing lines in the sand over people who we deem as being disrespectful to the gods. But we have no qualms accepting people into our fold that are being disrespectful to our co-religionists.

I find this to be contradictory in a lot of ways. The first being that gods are supposed to be these really big, bad, powerful beings (by most accounts). So you’d think that a big, bad, powerful being would be able to reach down and tell someone to stop being a twat-waffle if it was really that important to them. It seems to me that the gods could manage their own devotees and if it was a big problem that their devotee offered them Wonderbread instead of some all organic, whole wheat, dolphin-safe bread, they’d let them know. I don’t see why gods need to rely on humans on the Internet to dictate personal religious preferences and choices.

But the bigger issue here, I believe, is that if we were to start drawing lines in the sand regarding toxic and bigoted people amongst our community members, we might be forced to take a closer look at ourselves.

And looking in the mirror can be scary some days. Who knows, you might find that those very people you are speaking out against are embodied in some of your own actions, and then you might be forced to reflect and change your behaviour.

It’s much easier to speak for what a non-physical being may or may not want. It’s very simple to sit down and say “XYZ deity said that you should do ABC and that’s that” because the gods live in a completely different plane of existence. They can’t simply come down from their temples and homes and manifest in front of a group of people and say “No, Johnny, that’s actually not what I said. Can you please shut your yap and quit telling people that I said that.” Talking about what we believe the gods do and do not want is simpler because there is no way to prove someone wrong. I could tell you that Set said that he only wants the finest booze for every single offering you ever give him ever again- and no one would really be able to prove me right or wrong.

The best a deity can do is go to another devotee, tell them the skinny, and hope that the devotee will make a counter point to the original statement, and that people will listen (“Actually, Devo, Set told me that we can offer him whatever”, for example). But even then, if Sally says “Johnny, XYZ deity came to me and said that you’re full of shit and to stop saying that”, it doesn’t take much for Johnny to find a way to discredit everything Sally has said and then we are back at square one.

So basically, it seems to me that many people often speak for the gods because gods are the low hanging fruit in a religious community. For all intents and purposes, they can’t stand up for themselves and tell people when a mouth piece is full of crap and people take advantage of that. I think this can manifest in many ways from what is considered proper offerings to proper shrine structures to what we should be wearing when in shrine to what is considered proper etiquette when part of a religion. We touch on all of these relatively frivolous things because there is no way for anyone to really call someone out on the impudence of their statements.

However, when we start talking about more physically tangible, serious topics- the dynamic of the conversation changes. When we start talking about people and the rights of our fellow co-religionists, the whole game changes because these tangible, physical people can actually publicly respond to you. And that is powerful in ways that gods simply are not.

You see, if I start talking about how racism is bad and we need to combat it, but then I turn around and make a racist comment- physical people can actually call me out on it and raise a fuss. If I make post after post after post about how we need to be respectful to one another, and I start acting like a dick somewhere, people will call me out on it, and I will lose my credibility and stance in the community.

You see, when I actually choose to talk about physical people, those physical people can tell me if I’m full of crap. And that’s something the gods can’t openly do.

This is pretty easy to see when a certain BNP wrote a while back about “proper” offerings to the gods. In this post, the BNP made statements about what is considered “proper”, but also made a lot of inflammatory racist and classist comments as well. In terms of offerings, it was harder to really say anything, because outside of what we can infer from historical texts, it’s really up to personal interpretation as to what is “proper” when it comes to offerings. Because what the gods ask of me in terms of offerings may be very different from what the gods ask of someone else.

But those racist and classist comments? Those are easy pickings. Why? Because people are able to actually respond to the commentary that was presented in the post (where as gods can’t say anything). On top of that, it’s not difficult to include facts, data, and statistics in a response that helps to reinforce what you are saying. Get enough people involved, and it can become a tidal wave that ends up destroying your credibility in the community at large.

And so because of this, I think a lot of people purposefully avoid talking about the topics that are truly important and difficult within the community because to do so would not only leave us open to real criticism, but it would also force so many of us to take a look at our own biases and bigotry. Gods forbid we actually address the things that are effecting our co-religionists. Gods forbid we actually do something to help the fellow human beings we are experiencing this thing called life with.

Gods forbid we actually put people before gods for once.

I want to challenge the idea that the gods are the most important factor in a religion. Yes, it’s true that the gods are important- they usually play a pretty hefty role in most people’s religious practice, and they are pretty cool to work with. However, people are just as important as the gods, and I believe that in some cases, people are more important than the gods. And I think that’s easy to see because almost nobody is actually talking about humanitarian issues in the community at large. And it leads me to wonder if no one is talking about these issues because they are actually very difficult to discuss, especially if you happen to be participating in groups, posts, and activities that perpetuate the oppression you’re supposedly against.

When you start talking about human rights and humanitarian issues, you have to actually look at yourself and make sure you’re not perpetuating things that go against these issues. Going back to the beginning of this post- you have to actually take a long, hard look in the mirror, analyze what you see, and then actually change your behaviour to walk the walk.

And I don’t think many people want to actually do that. They’d rather tackle the simple stuff that can’t really be challenged.

From my perspective, our religion is nothing without our co-religionists. The gods can’t survive off of an audience of one, they need more people in order for their cults to be successful. And our people are only as successful as the network we create as fellow humans. If our network puts our people down, our people can’t be successful and people will actively avoid joining the religion or engaging the gods because the social dynamics are horrible. As I said in my post about compartmentalization– when one of us suffers, we all suffer. And it’s near impossible to to practice a religion that doesn’t support you as a whole person. And when you make your religious space not only open to everyone who is respectful, but make it safe for everyone too, the gods benefit because there are more people giving them bounty. They benefit because more people will want to worship them. They benefit because the people benefit (which is a pretty common theme in ancient Egypt- the King is the head priest of Egypt, and his role is not only to care for the gods, but to care for the people of Egypt).

If I had to draw any lines in the sand, I would have to draw them in between myself and anything that doesn’t support our fellow humans. It wouldn’t be over offerings or shrines. It wouldn’t be over UPG or myths. It would be over people, and whether you are treating people well. The fact that so many pagans can’t seem to understand how important our people are shows that we certainly have a problem with our priorities; as well as a lack of understanding as to how religions actually survive beyond a single generation. People are the gods best asset, and to draw our lines over anything less seems silly to me.

Advertisements
 
24 Comments

Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

Tags: , , ,

24 responses to “People > Gods

  1. Shadowed Wolf

    August 26, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Reblogged this on The Woods of My Heart.

     
  2. Loki's Little Hippie Witch

    August 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Yes. This.

     
  3. ladyimbrium

    August 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    In my defense (even though I’m absolutely certain you never even thought about me while typing this because I’m at the opposite end of the bigness spectrum from all of the drama you’re referencing) I’m doing everything I can to be a visible part of the conversation between actual humans, not computer screens, in my county of residence. It really is happening, those of us working in the proverbial trenches are just getting out shouted.

     
    • von186

      August 27, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      I definitely think that it’s important to work face-to-face with people, too. I commend anyone who has the spoons and ability to do that. I know it’s something that I probably wouldn’t be able to handle for a very long time. I think ideally, we would/should have people doing stuff online and face-to-face as well. That way we’d have the best of both worlds. But at the same time, I totally get that not everyone has the capacity to do both, and not everyone has the capacity to do either.

      That sucks about getting outshouted, though. As they say “squeaky wheel gets the grease” :\

       
  4. nicstoirm

    August 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Very well said. I don’t have much to add, because I completely agree. Thank you for articulating this.

     
  5. ladyimbrium

    August 26, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Owl Hill Farm and commented:
    It’s an argument that just won’t die. I wonder what would happen if we took a fraction of this energy and turned it toward our physical communities. No blame here, in that statement, understand. It’s just an “I wonder” moment…

     
  6. Stefen

    August 26, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    I realize that this one has the potential to spark a fire as it were, but might this also apply to religions outside of Keneticism? For example, from whatI understand about the christian god, everything is for his glory, not for people. I’m not sure about Islam because I have no knowledge of it. But that might be why some people are driven from those religions. They’re all about the god, not really the people. Unless I have all of that wrong.

     
    • smarmychristopagan

      August 26, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Actually the #1 commandment in Christianity includes ‘love thy neighbor as yourself’; the problem is, that philosophy is rarely carried into people’s actions, historically speaking, because Christianity has been used as a sociopolitical means of control for so long. The verses about it all being for God’s glory, not the followers, was INTENDED to mean “don’t try to be holier than thou and act like you’re better than everyone bc you follow all these rules re: the Pharisees”……but ppl twist religion around to mean whatever they want it to mean. :/ :/ :/ I truly understand your frustration.
      In essence I think it’s the same problems Devo is talking about in this post, to the nth degree.

       
    • von186

      August 27, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      Well I had written the post to be applicable to other pagan/polytheistic religions. I can’t comment about the Abrahamic religions, as I don’t really know anything about them. But it does have applications for other pagan/polytheist religions, yes.

       
  7. Ossia Sylva

    August 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Incredible, and much needed. I really have to sit down and read this again, mull it over and add to my “mirror work.”

    Interestingly, a few stellar diviners have decided to permanently stop their divination services, citing “self care” as their reason for doing so. And it is a good reason that many people do not consider to be valid or useful, even though there are already challenges to the idea that the needs of the gods and of the community are above everything else (and, conveniently enough, the wills of the gods almost always match up to the wills of the community).

     
    • von186

      August 27, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Ironically, I’ve been given a directive to make self-care a core part of Kemeticism. If you can’t take care of yourself, you wont’ be able to effectively help take care of the gods. If the people suffer, the gods suffer. But it seems to be something that a certain “segment” of polytheists probably would disagree with. Because apparently if you’re not busting ass all the time, and wearing yourself into the ground, you’re not trying hard enough (reminds me of America and boot straps, honestly).
      Sounds like the people that wanted the diviners back wanted something for nothing, and didn’t realize that free lunches are hard to come by, and that people don’t owe anyone a free lunch. I think we’d do better to value what our peers produce, and to be willing to give and help support our co-religionists (this includes monetarily), so that they can keep doing what they’re doing. I can only hope that one day we’ll get there (and we’d probably get there faster if more of us were able to actually make a decent living, but that’s another topic entirely 😄 )

       
  8. Spiritscraft

    August 26, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I 100% support your message here. I want see more pagans speaking up not only about Social Justice issues, but also Social Justice issues in our community.

     
  9. The Student Adult

    August 26, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    I’m so glad that you made this post. While I can’t be 100% sure on who you referenced as the BNP, I do remember someone BigName parading around about how people weren’t giving god enoug offerings because they couldn’t afford to dish our $50 on a damn chocolate bar, and it made me feel so sick to my stomach because I can barely afford dinner every night, let alone really expensive chocolate for my god. I get too worked up about this topic to be able to comment on it with a level head, so I’m so glad that someone did.

     
    • von186

      August 27, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      And what’s worse is- who does it really benefit if you spend yourself broke in order to have a lavish offering plate? Spending so much that you can’t feed yourself and/or can’t make rent doesn’t really benefit anyone. I don’t really see where people get off telling others that they need to damage their ability to survive to “prove” that they really love the gods. It makes no sense.

       
  10. smarmychristopagan

    August 26, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Hella.

     
  11. SeekerPhaedrus

    August 26, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    To this day the offering shit storm astounds me. But even if individuals put the Gods first in their lives (which may well be the right choice for some folks), that isn’t really religion even like the BNPs want to build. Or at least, claim they want to build. Religion is the community. It’s the engagement of groups, and as such it relies on having multiple people… which leads right into everything you said here.

    And I say this as someone who has been solitary for most of the last 10-15 years.

     
    • von186

      August 27, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Yeah, I mean I definitely don’t have anything against certain people not wanting to focus on community work, or those who personally want to put the gods first and not really bother with other people/co-religionists. My frustration stems from those who seem to actively suggest that we ALL must put the gods first, or that anyone who puts the people first is somehow not doing things properly. The biggest issue with most of the stuff I see BNPs spew is simply that it is too generalized and doesn’t really work for /all/ polytheistic practices/religions/communities. And yet when you try to point out to them that they are being contradictory, or ignoring certain polytheistic groups in their rhetoric, they get hella grumpy hella fast, and then everything deteriorates from there. It’s really a shame.

       
  12. G. B. Marian

    August 27, 2015 at 3:16 am

    100% agreed.

     
  13. fannyfae

    August 27, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Well said and Brava, my friend! 🙂

     
  14. Redfaery

    August 27, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Excellent post. I also think some people forget that the gods might legit not want us to be raging dicks to each other for petty reasons…

     
    • von186

      August 27, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      It does strike me as odd that so many people seem to think that being a raging dick is somehow like… a good thing that the gods encourage? Maybe other pantheons have different ideas about decorum, but I know our pantheon is definitely more into the “don’t be an asshole” thing.

       
  15. Tyrienne

    August 31, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    i agree with this…since my local community decided to believe some old has-been’s bullshit that my husband is a “necromancer”.

    Because we live in the 1700’s in Eastern Pennsylvania, apparently.
    (He has yet to raise an army of the dead for me.)

    The problem is: People actually believed that shit…and along with it, I was a “scion of Loki” who was described as basically Baba Yaga in all the amazingly horribly magical things I can ALLEGEDLY perform. Despite so many friendships online- Ed and I are stuck between Nazitru and, well, fucking idiots.

    In my personal practice, I put the Gods first, but to me- that is a sacred relationship and not something to go screaming from Hof to Ritual to Thing.

    I put the Gods first because I’ve been learning to hate people and how they seem to find great joy in making my life miserable.

     
  16. cardsandfeather

    August 31, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Excellent post. I agree completely. I feel that people do this: (1) to bolster their feelings of their own intelligence using “facts” that can’t be proven, (2) to bolster their own sense of authority, or (3) to create larger out-groups (us V them). A lot of this ties to the “negatives” about religion: the ability to control others with fear or authority, the ability to spout opinion as fact, isolating a particular group that doesn’t agree. None of these benefit humanity. None of these are Ma’at.

    As far as people being more important than the gods: I agree. I think people are a manifestation of the divine, so I’m not really sure the two can even be separated. As for religion, I think it exists to benefit man more than anything else. That’s only my opinion, but in that light, people should only do what is relevant to them. If its not harming anyone else, why does it matter.

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: