Ethical Polytheism

There’s a reason I never became a Wiccan.

Here in my sun-soaked state somewhere in the southeast, there’s something rotten in the Wiccan community. Poverty, drug abuse, petty crime. Just general skeeviness. It’s inescapable and inseparable in my mind concerning the pagan community around here (heck, a lot of the people down here). Maybe it’s not that way in other places, but down here generally paganism does not attract people from good parts of society. And I don’t mean in the sense or race or socioeconomic class–I mean in terms of the way people lead their lives. I’ve seen a lot of people go to jail for things like drugs and statutory rape. I’ve seen people arrive who’d just come out of jail for things like drugs and petty theft (or both). People who engage in a hippie-ish permissive sort of live-and-let-live that is rotting the modern polytheistic movement at its foundations. “Sure, I have a record. Sure I like to smoke weed and collect disability and eat myself to death and would you like to join my polyamorous lifestyle?” kinda shit.

It’s creeping into reconstructionism more and more, too, and I don’t like it.

I’ve always been distant from the community, partially because of bad experiences, and partially because I just don’t fit. I will freely admit I’m not a good polytheist. I’m inconsistent. I worship two different pantheons in a scatter-brained way that’s not historiographically valid. I’m not a priest or priestess of anything.

But I am ceaselessly troubled and how the place of my faith is not a place I want to come home to.

Where is the ethical polytheism? Where is the faith that is about being married (gay or not) and raising children into our faith so our community grows and is stronger? Where is the polytheism that can actually give us a code by which to deal with life’s bullshit and reach towards a meaningful life?

Because the world isn’t the relative hippie bullshit that our anthropology majors would have us believe. There is right, and there is wrong. It’s a lot simpler and plainer than you would think. Rape is wrong. Molesting a child is wrong. Killing is generally wrong (unless someone’s trying to kill you back). Telling someone how to worship (or who they can/can’t worship, I’m looking at you, Folkish Asatruar) is wrong.

But you know what else is wrong? Squabbling over online bullshit. Making our community of faith so permissive that anything goes and so everything seems seedy by association. Priests and priestesses not doing the duty of their gods-blessed function in society and trying to build the community as a place that is an actual community, a place normal people who have 9-5 jobs and kids and 401k’s would feel fine bringing their kids. THAT kind of place. A faithful community you could hang your hat on.

Little too June Cleaver for you? Sorry. We’re out there. Bland, mild-mannered, boring polytheist who have salaried jobs and live in the ‘burbs and are trying to find their way in a community that, frankly, is really alienating most of the time. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top weird and mystical all the time. You’ve got nothing to prove, people. Love the gods. Honor them. Build a community we would want our children to grow up in.





8 thoughts on “Ethical Polytheism

  1. Heh, I was just reading a comment on Sannion’s blog by someone who was grumbling that Pagan Pride Day isn’t freaky enough for eir tastes — apparently that’s the only way one properly expresses “pride” anymore.

  2. Thank you! I have found another polytheist who is upset and worried about the same things I am. (The Rede is a piece of AW in my opinion for the amount of real ethics contained within its feel-good words.) I also agree about the silent slithering of these things into the recon community. Just today, as a matter of fact, on the Neokoroi list we had been discussing “the Klein issue.” Someone waffled on whether or not it was right to make judgments. I finally stepped in and said, yes, you did have that right — especially so after that sod had confessed. That and the fact that has now come out that people knew to keep their children away from him at pagan events, has convinced me that anything that man ever did has to be tainted — even to his “tradition” in Wicca (Blue Star). The discussion was then shut off. But will these people turn their backs and throw away their Blue Star degrees? No. They are hypocrites of the worst sort because they are in a very subtle way (and not so subtle to me) supporting this vile creature. Greed is the source of all evil and that is what is going on now. BAH.

  3. I’ve encountered exactly the sorts of situations you describe at the opposite end of the country — the Pac Nor’west. And add in the dose of the power-mad and it makes a person happy to live in a broom closet, lol. I like to focus on not the “hippy dippy permissive” attitude, but on the more positive idea of embracing a wider field. But that does not mean “anything goes as long as you label it religion” — a recon group that did blots that were little more than a badly slaughtered animal, a lot of alcohol and feeling up under-age females? Not religion, sorry.

    For now, I tend to solitude and family observances. I’m all out of tolerance for walks on the wild side of sensible under the umbrella heading “paganism.”

  4. hmm maybe I’ll stay solitary a little longer. I have yet to find any pagan/polytheists around where I live…I’m afraid if I do I’ll probably wind up finding something scary.

  5. A friend of mine left the Twin Cities Pagan community for a time during the 80’s when it bore a close resemblence to what you describe here. These days maybe not so much crime and drugs that I’m aware of. I don’t necessarily have a problem with polyamory and such but for the fact that unfortunately many people misuse it. I do however think human society is more built around commited monogamous relationships (whatever the genders) and widespread non-monogamy is not something our culture is really equipped to deal with. Some people go thru difficulties in life (alcohol, drugs, mental illness, abuse) or have disabilities and may need assistance- our society can indeed be very unforgiving of folks who make mistakes. However I see many Pagan folk making the same mistakes over and over and not learning from them, not even trying to get help for their problems, and often justifying it with some BS pseudospiritual reason or trying to solve mundane problems with magic.

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