The Iron Pill

•02/17/2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been knee-deep in Radical Traditionalism.

 

First off, I am going to share The Iron Pill with you. This is absolutely terrible but so bad it’d be hilarious if not for the vicious racism and other bigotry.

 

The premise is simple. Some asshole buff white dude was given an “iron pill” by the gods and can use the power of Evropa and Volkisch to defeat his enemies (black people, feminists, Muslims).

 

Again, it’s terrible. I share it because it’s related to polytheism. It claims to represent European tradition and features our gods and cultures.

 

I’ve been trying to really immerse myself into Radical Traditionalism in order to really understand it. I’m also trying to embrace my own fascination with the traditional.
I find that I hit my personal wall when it comes to the disenfranchisement of a group due to it being ‘traditional’.  For example, India’s caste system. Tradition or not, an entire group of people being designated as “untouchable” due to how they were born seems like bullshit to me.

I understand it’s not my culture and there are a whole lot of problems with me, someone of European descent, making comments about ancient Indian traditions…but it’s where my love for tradition does not transcend my love of egalitarianism.

For something more closer to home, tradition-wise, I also have little regard for those who would use ‘tradition’ to subjugate women or to keep them in a lesser role, subservient to men (which probably explains why there aren’t too many women in the Pagan versions of radical traditionalism).

If women choose to be mothers or wives, that’s fantastic. I support them. But if men are able to opt out of fatherhood and be a tradesman or to balance the two, then so should women.

Some traditions are not meant for this modern world. To me, that’s one of them.

I’m waiting for the belief in the “four humours” approach to medicine to make a comeback among Pagans. You laugh, but if Westerners can accept aspects of Ayurveda or ingesting mercury as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (and some do), I imagine some Pagans will embrace it, claim it as ‘tradition’ and perhaps even make lots of money off of it.

Desecration

•02/15/2017 • Leave a Comment

I ask that you pardon the quality of my writing right now, I’m a little out of it.

 

Last night, I went into my bedroom to begin evening prayer right before going to bed, when I saw a mouse run across my floor and into my closet.

 

I sleep on the floor on a Japanese futon. But when I first saw the creature, I thought it was a rat and there’s no way I’m sleeping on the floor with a wild rat scurrying around. They will bite you in your sleep.

 

So it was a rough night without much sleep. I ended up sleeping on my recliner. It is much less accessible to floor rodents.

 

The following day, I went to check out where the mouse was coming from. There is a hole in the wall in my closet. Now, as I may have mentioned before… my shrine is in my closet.

 

Sure, half of it is used as a closet but it’s large enough to sit in and has shelves. The shelves are used as an altar (and storage). When checking out the closet side, it seemed (by the chewed up pieces of wood and droppings that the mouse had been there for a few days, possibly even a week or more. I had no idea it’d even been in my closet. No signs of anything in my room or in the shrine section of my closet. I did not see it or hear it.

 

Thankfully, I hadn’t been giving Brigid food offerings. I limit my offerings to alcohol (mead, whiskey, or cider).

 

My partner patched up the holes it was getting in temporarily. But I still need to dismantle my shrine for purification. My landlord or someone he hires will have to get in there and patch it more professionally. They’ll have shoes or probably boots on. I’ll have to store my sacred images elsewhere. It could be a few days before I return to regular worship.

 

There’s also another element to this. The mouse, of course, is the vahana (vehicle or mount) of Sri Ganapati (the elephant-headed god of Hinduism). I have worshipped Him on and off for years.

 

Now, the materialist in me automatically says “Look, it’s winter. It’s cold, it’s hungry. It was probably living in the basement but needed warmth and food and found a way into the closet through the walls.”

 

But the part of me that I’ve been trying to cultivate, the part that either believes or desperately wants to believe that the gods interact with us say “Dammit, this is a message from Sri Ganapati!”

 

He sent His messenger here and you shouldn’t ignore it. He wants attention!

 

The thought came that I should consult with a diviner but diviners don’t really work with Hindu deities in that way. At least not to my knowledge.
So my formal worship will be temporarily shut down for a bit. I’ll still do prayers from the heart. But my shrine room has been defiled with mouse droppings and I’m going to have to have strangers come in and patch holes in the wall and floor.

Radical Traditionalism

•02/13/2017 • Leave a Comment

I continue to find myself trying to understand “Radical Traditionalism” and how it relates to Paganism.

Now let me be perfectly clear and upfront about this. I am not a Radical Traditionalist. I will never be one. I am opposed to racism. I am opposed to sexism.

This site here quotes Tyr magazine which lists what Radical Traditionalism purports to believe in.

  1. Resacralization of the world versus materialism.
  2. Natural social hierarchy versus an artificial hierarchy based on wealth.
  3. The tribal community versus the nation-state.
  4. Stewardship of the earth versus the “maximization of resources.”
  5. A harmonious relationship between men and women versus the “war between the sexes.”
  6. Handicraft and artisanship versus industrial mass-production.

If I am to be honest with myself, I agree wholeheartedly with most of these. However, I imagine that I would interpret it differently from the Radical Traditionalists. Let’s take this step-by-step:

  1. I absolutely believe in the resacralization of the world vs. materialism. I feel that because our society has ceased to view the planet as a thing full of resources to be plundered, our Earth has suffered greatly.
  2. Here is my only real hard disagreement. Though I’m definitely not in support of an artificial hierarchy based on wealth, I’m also not for hierarchies in general. I’m more of an egalitarian. I don’t believe there’s a natural pecking order, so to speak.
  3. As someone who does not believe in patriotism, I can get down with the idea of tribes over nation-states. Mostly, I’m for autonomous collectives that may or may not join in federations over shared interests. But that’s a lot of hypothetical anarchist bullshit. Pie in the sky. I believe in self-government and think it only really works in small groups where everyone knows each other and takes each other’s interests into account (as well as their own). I’m a fan of intentional living (communes, co-ops, monasteries, etc.)
  4. I am absolutely for stewardship of the Earth vs. maximization of resources.
  5. Here’s where this gets dicey for me… Do I want a harmonious relationship between men and women? Absolutely. But I also believe that means the abolishment of patriarchy (which is most certainly not what Radical Traditionalists believe). I am a hard core feminist. I don’t believe in a ‘war between the sexes’ but if one sex is holding the other down, I most definitely believe in making things equal.
  6. Again, I am absolutely for this. People used to take pride in the things they created. They took time to master a skill or trade and made things of craftsmanship that were handed down for generations. Think of Shaker furniture as a more modern example. Monk-made beer (Trappist ales) are some of the best beers in the world. Yes, what they make must support their communities, but they’re focused on quality not on productivity. It’s not about extracting maximum value out of workers. It’s about taking the time and skill to make things right. You still see this in a lot of aspects of Japanese culture.

 

I notice that there’s no specific mention of race, which is odd to me…as most of Radical Traditionalism is associated with racist (or folkish) groups. Additionally, though the original piece mentions harmony between the sexes, it does not specifically say that women are to take an inferior position to men. (Though that attitude is said to be ‘traditional’ and thus common with Radical Traditionalism.)

Perhaps there’s a need for a new form of traditionalism that takes some of these concepts of love for the Earth, anti-materialism, anti-capitalism, love for traditional skill and craftsmanship and applies it to a more egalitarian viewpoint.

I think these people are definitely onto something when they criticize our drab modern buildings or the cheap mass-produced crap that we fill our lives and houses with but when it veers into racism or sexism, they’ve absolutely lost me.

When using the past, idealized or not, as a lens in which to imagine the future (or reshape the present), one must pick and choose what elements of the past or what elements of modernity one wants to include or keep out.

It seems to me that many of these traditionalist groups or individuals choose to live with technology (such as the Internet) or perhaps modern medicine. That’s fine. I choose that as well. What baffles or interests me is that they always also seem to focus on racial homogeneity as an important quality that they choose to take along with them into their vision of the present or future.

Let’s get back to a more intentional and meaningful existence. Let’s not let the Internet or television or popular culture influence us. But at the same time, let us realize that we’re all in this together, regardless of politics, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, or race.

I continue to view diversity to be a form of strength.

 

 

 

Deity Yoga

•02/12/2017 • Leave a Comment

This is a Tibetan Buddhist Tantrik approach

Also, here is a similar approach (also from a Buddhist perspective and a curiously atheistic version) by David Chapman.

Dorothy Day: “Don’t call me a saint…”

•02/08/2017 • Leave a Comment

Here’s the thing about this…
Dorothy Day is widely quoted as saying “Don’t call me a saint…”

But why? Well, she’s no longer with us but based on my readings of her and about her, it’s because saints get made into statues and medals and prayed to.

Dorothy didn’t want to be prayed to. She wanted action. She wanted people to do the same work she did in caring for the “least of the brethren”.

To turn her into a saint is to think that one could help the poor by praying for them. Yes, praying for them is important but Day was an anarchist. She believed in direct action.

I would love for the Catholic Church to recognize her as a saint. (I surely do already.) But in doing so, it adds a human element to sainthood. Day wasn’t perfect. But sometimes God works best through imperfections.

If anything, her possible sainthood gives us, as believers, a very attainable model of letting God work through us despite our flaws.

I have no doubts that God worked through “St. Dorothy”. But don’t put her on a pedestal and smooth out her rough edges with a patina of sanctity. Don’t omit her abortion or her work with radical leftists.

It makes her relatable as a human and gives us a template to what we can do to help bring the Kingdom of God into our own world with all of its flaws.

Fasting

•02/03/2017 • Leave a Comment

One of my fields of interest that I’m not sure I’ve addressed here in this blog much is food.

 

Food is on my mind quite a bit lately.

 

Despite not being Catholic or Christian, I like to give up something for Lent. I think the idea of a sacrifice in a time of devotion is a wonderful tradition.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, in Catholicism, Lent is the 40 day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at Easter. People will often give up something they love as a sacrifice or practice of mortification during that time.

 

A very common practice among Catholics, in addition to whatever they’re given up is not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. (Perversely, Catholics do not consider fish to be ‘meat’, which led in some inland areas to creatures like beavers having been approved by bishops as ‘fish’ because they swim.)

 

Prior to Vatican II (the Second Vatican Council, held in the 1960s), all Catholics were expected to abstain from meat (but not fish) on Fridays. This is a tradition that is still carried on among traditionalist Catholics and in monasteries.

 

Fasting in Orthodox Christianity is even more intense. Giving up cheese and all meat, and oil. (Orthodoxy is, in general, much more intense.) Orthodox monks are even more hardcore.

 

Instead of using the Christian Lent this year, I’ve decided to use the month of February. There are a number of reasons. It’s a short month. It’s Brigid’s month. There are other reasons.

 

In recent years, I’ve simply given up meat. This year, I’m vegan. (Technically, I’ve already had honey, but many vegans I know still eat honey.) But I’m strictly avoiding all meat (including fish!), dairy, and eggs.

 

My partner finds it amusing that this is difficult for me because she’s a vegan. My ‘great big sacrifice’ is her normal life.

 

Admittedly, it’s a lot easier because of her. Our kitchen is vegan. She never asked or demanded it from me. I do it out of love and respect for her. So I’m used to eating vegan for meals at home.

 

Also, I live in a major city. It’s one of the more progressive cities in America. There are a lot of vegan options for me if I dine out.

 

Is it a sacrifice? Yes. Is it a great sacrifice? Probably not. I already drink my coffee black. (As someone of Italian descent, though. I sure do love cheese and miss it even after a few days.)

 

However, I want to be more mindful about the food I eat. Specifically, I want to be more mindful about where the food I eat comes from. Taking a month to avoid eating or drinking animal products is a way to do that.

 

I’m not opposed to the eating of meat or in the use of eggs or dairy. I do, however, feel there is something very wrong with the treatment of animals in factory farms. I’m not going to get preachy about it here but I do think it’s something we, as Americans, and specifically we as Pagans/polytheists, need to be more mindful of.

 

Additionally, I need to work on my own attachment to food. (Like I said, I come from an Italian-American family. Food is a big thing for us.) Obviously, we all need food to live. I think I have sometimes taken it to an unhealthy level, though.

(As an aside, another reason I picked February for my fasting month? Every February Serious Eats: Food Lab editor J. Kenji Lopez-Alt goes vegan and comes out with some excellent vegan recipes.)

One of my favorite pastimes is looking for good (albeit not expensive) places to eat. That needs to be examined. I think the energy and thought and time I spend looking for food can sometimes get in the way for what I’m really hungry for: the Divine.

Beannachtai Na Feile Bride Oraibh!

•02/02/2017 • Leave a Comment

(Blessings of Brigid’s Feast Day To You!)

 

And finally, here’s a comedic video which seems to be a take on “Bridget Jones’ Diary” only with the Goddess Herself.