Radical Paganism

steBarbe12Jason Pitzl-Waters’ recent op-ed piece in The Wild Hunt is fucking excellent.

… I stayed a Pagan because it also promised me a world, a culture, remade. A world where multiplicity, diversity, was honored. A world where a singular, all-powerful, male-pronouned, deity was replaced with innumerable pantheons of powers. A world where there was Goddess. Not just one Goddess, but a million goddesses.

It all seems like a dark, twisted, verification of author Margaret Atwood’s assertion that “men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Here is the exposed underbelly of cultural control of women exposed at its most raw, its most violent. Here are the violent fruits of misogyny laid bare. This is not mere mental illness, as there are millions of people who live with mental disorders who do not murder, this burrows into something atavistic that we don’t like to talk about. The fear, violence, and scorn necessary to uphold a silent system of power-over. The churning core of woman-hate as a belief system.

However, I stayed a Pagan because it also promised me a world, a culture, remade. A world where multiplicity, diversity, was honored. A world where a singular, all-powerful, male-pronouned, deity was replaced with innumerable pantheons of powers. A world where there was Goddss. Not just one Goddess, but a million goddesses.

Paganism, if it isn’t radical, is worthless.  If the stuff you believe doesn’t alter the way you act towards others or the way you build the world around you, it isn’t belief–it’s mere opinion.  If worship of your gods and goddesses doesn’t manifest itself in any physical change in your relationship to the world, it’s no more interesting or meaningful than what sort of smartphone you use or car you drive.

The brilliance of Capitalism is this, that it’s taught us all that we cannot make our own worlds and instead must rely on what the market provides, selecting from the aisles our beliefs, our opinions, and our modes of living.  Anything that might truly endanger this hegemonic method of control is easily defanged by putting a price-tag on it and putting it on a shelf for you to buy.  This is not just metaphorical.

Honoring gods and goddesses [and I note with pleasure that Jason does something not many Wiccan-ish writers do–too often, they talk about the Goddess and ignore the obvious question the polytheist poses: “which one?”  His answer, in essence, is “all of them”] should alter the way we look at humanity, as well.   Are goddesses subordinate to gods? And if not (and your answer should have been no, and if it isn’t, please stop reading me forever, thanks–actually, fuck you), then why would we enact our petty human patriarchal assholery upon one entire gender?

Paganism is, at its very heart, a big radical “fuck you” to the systems of control which make us petty proletarian serfs, relying on scraps from the tables of the rich and dressing up all nicely so we’ll maybe get nicer scraps.  A lot of effort went in to the eradication of Pagan, nativist beliefs and cultures over several centuries, wars on women-as-witches, felling of sacred oaks, forced displacement, hangings and burnings, and slaughtering of whole groups of people just to get us to stop worshiping our gods and honoring the land and our ancestors.

Becoming Pagan is a radical act, and it doesn’t end at just buying a pentacle-necklace and making a wand, or setting up an altar to the gods.  The earth’s dying around us, racist wars continue unabated, and there are many, many more idiots than the one who shot those women who believe that one half the fucking population owes them their bodies, their subservience, their domestic services and their trembling fear.

If Paganism doesn’t mean trying to stop this, then Paganism is fucking worthless.

7 thoughts on “Radical Paganism

  1. Merri-Todd says:

    The connection nobody makes with Atwood’s brilliant remark is that men are motivated to kill women precisely because they fear being laughed. It’s better to be feared than ridiculed, isn’t it? But killing a woman still doesn’t get you her love and care.

  2. lornasmithers says:

    I think one of the greatest gifts paganism gifts us is the capacity to work with our deities to create new myths from the old. I’m a strong believer in Mary Midgeley’s claim that if we want to change the world we must change our myths.

  3. michaelseblux says:

    I know you’re speaking specifically for paganism – and do agree with the majority of your thoughts and sentiments here – however, I wonder to what degree it may be applicable to peoples of other faiths? While the three monotheisms may be said to bring out the worst in patriarchy, at the same time many members of those faith communities are also amongst the most vocal (and I suspect this is not a statistics match) in trying to pull down the molding vestiges of patriarchy and capitalism.

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