Paganism, like most other movements, has a leadership problem. Rather, it is plagued by an endless parade of such problems, ranging from abusive behaviors, bigotry and hateful views, to simple ineptitude. All too often, the most problematic of these leaders paradoxically retain their reputations and places of import in our communities, their failings handwaved and met with the too familiar litany of “They aren’t perfect, but they’ve done a lot of good work for us.”
The last few months have seen accusations of abuse against the likes of Isaac Bonewits, founder of the Druidic organization Ár nDraíocht Féin (or ADF), as well as Yeshe Rabbit (of many names), who founded the prominent Bay Area coven known as Come As You Are, or CAYA. These issues, sadly, are not new to paganism, which has wrestled with abusive leadership since the earliest days of Wicca’s foundation.
I’ve been pretty bad about updating this, I know. Life or something.
But a few months ago Thorbeorht Linleah, un-noted theodsman and dubious scholar of Seaxneat, wrote a post in response to my older highlight on the abusive and bigoted nature of Theodism that effectively amounted to “#notalltheodsmen.” I was going to link to that post, but in the long tradition of heathens owning their words in accordance with their stated values, Thorbeorht seems to have taken it down, so I can only provide a screencap of WordPress’s notification I got.
Also in the grand tradition of heathenry, Thorbeorht has recently decided to disavow “postmodernism” in Heathenry, quoting C.S. Lewis of all fucking people to back up his argument, in favor of the more pure traditions of the theodish expression of Anglo-Saxon ethnic religion, using language pretty much straight out of McNallen’s big book of “I swear I’m not a racist buuut…” and has gone on to migrate from the aggressively “SJW” outlet of Facebook in favor of the free speech-centered outlet that hardly anyone who isn’t alt-right seems to use, Minds.
Truly, the world is full of surprises.
I’ve talked a bit on this blog about my fondness for adapting our practices– and the stories we tell– based on our locale. Many of us are not residents of the lands our gods were first known in; even those who are, the land has changed a great deal in some cases, developed or been otherwise disturbed.
One way I do this is in creating ‘modern myths,’ a vainglorious way of styling my short stories. I have a lot of them- some posted here (and scarcely ever read compared to my more ‘dramatic’ posts), others collected elsewhere (like my poorly edited, self-published book). My most recent piece is as much an exercise in fun as anything, but I figured I’d share it, mostly because it’s short and might be amusing.
Submitted for your entertainment: A story about a wily coyote.
We’ll now take a break from the regularly scheduled programming (My Being Pagan series that none of you were aware is going to be a proper series) for a few musings on Kemeticism. Specifically, on Ma’at.
I’ve had several conversations recently with a peculiar manifestation of Christian baggage, both in a total newcomer to Paganism and from someone who has been tentatively engaging in it for years. Most people, as I talked about last week, come to paganism with an adversarial view of Christianity, but what I didn’t spend time on is the fact that others arrive because some fundamental aspect of their former religion simply didn’t work for them.
This can actually be more difficult to deal with because rather than simply overlooking aspects of holdover baggage, or dismissing pagan ideas because they associate them with Christianity, some people may in fact cling to elements of Christianity and attempt to force a cross-shaped object into an Ankh-shaped hole, as it were, because they *don’t* hate their background. The issue with this is that it can still result in a critical stagnation in someone’s growth because they default to the easy road, rather than the productive one.
In my decade-plus experience of being part of the modern pagan movement, I have noticed a recurring issue across nearly every tradition I’ve encountered, among pagans both new and who have been involved for decades. It’s an issue that I struggled with for a time and that most first-generation pagans are going to encounter. That issue? Not being pagan. Bear with me.
I’ve been away from blogging for like, months. I am trash at running a blog, that much is clear; in fairness I’ve been transitioning to living in Poland which, as it turns out, is like… A bit different from Texas. Part of it is just that I don’t have a lot to blog about that’s pagan-relevant though and I just have not felt like writing in the last while.
That said, I feel like for my relatively few followers it’s worth noting: r/Asatru, whose moderators I took a few shots at in my great book of grudges some months back, who pointedly argue “we are not affiliated with White Marsh Theod beyond one member of our team” has now invited a second member of White Marsh and noted transphobic thrall of one Forvrin to moderate on their subreddit along with Theod-worshiper/possible member/who-keeps-track-of-this-Habsburg-family-tree-anymore Mark Stone.
For those keeping score, that means that heathenry’s largest community on reddit is run by pedophile defending bigots which will come as little surprise to like… Anybody familiar with Reddit. Truly this is the heathen renaissance. You know, because there’s so many more dicks on public display.
Steven McNallen, dubious Asatruar of more dubious fame as former head of the racist-as-fuck Asatru Folk Assembly, recently announced his new project, “The Wotan Network.” In the regrettable video in which this was announced, the old coot has eschewed any real pretense of paganism and has effectively opened the door to anyone of any religion (because he’s such an accepting guy) so long as they’re sufficiently willing to contribute to the fight to preserve the white race (oh, wait).
While I wait for Mr. McNallen’s inevitable appointment to a staff position in the White House following this announcement, a few thoughts are bouncing around my head. Why do people even still listen to this guy? How is he still around? Why is it never these kinds of people who succumb to dementia or something like that, instead of incredible, moral and upstanding people like my great grandma? What ever happened to Steve to make him such a cunt?
Most importantly of all, though, over all of that, is one thing: Oh my god you are the worst ever why will you not just fucking crawl in a hole and never come out again you are like the worst racist old uncle in the history of racist old uncles why is your search history nothing but “hot gaping Stormfront bukkake.”
You suck, McNallen. Go away.
I made a post yesterday which, I want to be clear, I stand by entirely. There have been a variety of responses to it so far and I expect there will be more, but what I regard as the official response from White Marsh Theod has been offered on r/asatru. I would like to give answer to it openly and publicly (EDIT: Due to concerns about shifting narratives from respondents and an accusation that my earlier post is “dangerously close to libel” in its citing of a public record of the State of Texas, I am posting a screenshot of the above post where Forvrin confirms that “No question of these facts are in dispute” for posterity in the event of its removal or editing.)
The problem with initiatory traditions, particularly mystery traditions, is that they’re susceptible to abuse and the sheltering of abusive individuals. This is a problem that Wicca has grappled with for decades and that, from what I can see as an outsider, has improved somewhat.
Heathenry, on the other hand, still has its problematic bastions, in particular in the Theodish community, which today is rife with abuse, cover ups of that abuse, and general bigotry toward several groups. The history of Theodism is easy enough to find online, from its beginnings as a revealed religion when a Wiccan calling himself Merlin (now Garman Lord) allegedly had a vision of Woden instructing him to create the religion now called Theodish Belief all the way to the dissolution of Winland Rice and the subsequent rise of theods like White Marsh and Œþelland today.