Poseidon . . . R.I.P??

So, there’s this thing.


And a lot of various pagans (and likely more than just pagans — that’s right, this has us rubbing elbows with the monotheisms of choice! *gasp!*) are up in arms about it. (well, not literally. Unless you count arm flailing) And I’m trying to understand it, but . . . I don’t.

First: it’s clever. I’ve seen similar demonstrations to raise awareness about the sheer scale of human trafficking. It’s attention grabbing, which is the whole point. And it is, or was, thematic to the time period this went up — before Halloween. Spooky. I can only applaud their cleverness.

Second: nothing here is new, or really all that news-worthy. The agnostics, atheists, and humanists think the gods were never real/are dead-outdated ways of understanding life, the universe, and everything? Wow! That’s completely . . . not news. Oh, as theists of whatever stripe we are now going to have to act as representatives of our faith/beliefs? It is now on us to show the world who and what we believe in, revere, love, and also why we do so? Why do I have to start doing that now? Oh, right, because I’ve already been doing that, and so has essentially every other theist of any stripe when coming into contact with any other sort of ‘other’. Oh, my god has a gravestone! He now verges on the edge of non-existence, because of the magical power of groupmind and photos on the internet. NOW he is threatened, not the during the how many years of obscurity, temple destruction, and rise of monotheism.

If they were impinging upon the rights of theists to worship as they will, I could join with the arm flailing and the uproar. If they were harming or killing those who didn’t agree, I’d be right there with you. That’s still happening in places, and those are the incidents that get my ire up. Not this. Not people expressing their views in a clever manner. This? This is why I write about my spiritual life. This is why I’m out as a pagan, a polytheist, a daughter of Odin and a wife of Poseidon. This is why I support religious freedom for *all* religions, and why I’m committed to spreading awareness when and where I can. Because this? This a reason to be vocal, to be visible, to nurture intra- and interfaith discussion — to keep us from ending up in a place where we are killed or harmed for being Kemetic or Heathen or Wiccan or Jewish or Christian or Voudoun or Hindu or atheist, absolutely. But to be angry? To be up in arms? To be offended and incised? I just don’t see the usefulness of it.

Speak out about it, sure. That’s our right as much as it’s their right to have this clever, clever display. Remind the world that, well, no, we’re still here. Loads and loads of people believe in loads of different gods, and our experiences are just as valid, are just as authentic, deserve just as much to be out there, and then? Get your voice out there. And, maybe try to remember that trying to squelch the values and experiences of others does not make you better than those who would silence us. In other words: be the change you want in the world; don’t be just more of the same.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. pjvj says:

    >>>Oh, my god has a gravestone! He now verges on the edge of non-existence, because of the magical power of groupmind and photos on the internet. NOW he is threatened, not the during the how many years of obscurity, temple destruction, and rise of monotheism.<<<

    *snort* Ba ha ha!

  2. Beth says:

    Reblogged this on Wytch of the North and commented:
    Ah, here we go again! I have to say I agree with Jo on this one: I’m not quite sure what all the ruckus is about. If group mind could have killed our gods, it would have done so a long, long time ago, during all of the nasty years of conversion and the years beyond that when They were all but forgotten by most of humanity. And now that we’re revived They’re worship and They are visibly, tangibly becoming more active in the world again, we’re going to be threatened by some pieces of paper and a stick? This is something to laugh into absurdity, not become incensed about, because we–all of us who love and revere these gods–we are the living proof of how utterly ridiculous and irrelevant this display truly is.

  3. Sarenth says:

    I do not find it clever. They not only got dates of ancient worship wrong, but this was an act of erasure to Pagans, and in some cases especially to African Diasporic religions, i.e. Madame Charlotte was in this. It was a ham-fisted and childish ‘look at me!’ on their part while also being completely needlessly hostile. I look at it with contempt. College is hard enough, and I look on displays like this, regardless of faction, fraternity, religion, etc. with equal contempt. From personal experience of talking with folks, actions like these stop, or at least discourage people from minority religions, as well as atheists and agnsotics who have to deal with fallout from stupid bull like this, from wanting to come out with their own religion/lack thereof, and share.

    It also goes completely against the Mission Statement the group is under. This neither fosters dialogue, nor does it educate.

    1. naiadis says:

      It was clever as an attention grabber — it’s certainly grabbed folks attention. If it it was an act of erasure against paganism, it was equally so an act of erasure against all religions. We may feel it more keenly because we’re smaller and more divided, because we stand on the bones of those who have come before, trying to create or revive traditions from scraps, rather than having the benefit of a living tradition that’s thrived. That their history is wrong only makes them less threatening and offensive-causing to me.

      I can’t speak for motive (needlessly hostile) as I don’t know the group at all, nor the college, nor the student body. I’m not saying, “Hey this was great, go them, lookit them go!” I would hope it would be obvious that I’m a supporter of religious diversity and minority religions being able to be public, but maybe it’s not.

      What I can speak for is my own bafflement. Increasingly there is this idea being put out that . . what? The gods need us to defend them? That we need to eradicate those whose ideas don’t agree with ours? That you can only put up public displays that grab attention if they are factually correct, and the gods help you if you don’t? That we have some sort of right to not be offended by the world around us?

      People are going do and say stupid shit. Trying to make them stop is only going to make us miserable and burn us out, when instead we ought to be *building*. Getting worked up because they are people doing what people do will not counter what they’re doing — being willing when one is able to be a visible counter to what one does not agree with is a better use of time and energy.

      Maybe it’s a matter of scale. I see people responding as though there has been great violence done by these people, and it seems out of place for what they actually did — a maybe somewhat clever, not so historically sound, attention grabbing display. Was it planned in secret? Were the religious groups gathering together to counter-display their material? (Do we not begin to see why theists could benefit from working together rather than tearing each other a part?).

      I appreciate your comment, as I wasn’t aware that the presentation might have caused problems within the group itself, and I *do* appreciate people disagreeing with me. I value the ability to dig into my own bafflement and try to learn from it, and disagreement often goes a longer way toward that than agreement does.

      1. Sarenth says:

        Ah, I think I need to clarify: I’m not attached to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I am speaking from similar actions that have taken place in my own college from atheists and Christians. When Christians set up their evangelical displays and pull stunts like this atheists are, understandably, to me, upset. It is not only having a view shoved i your face, but done so rudely, and with no thought to the discomfort and erasure done to those who do not believe, see, etc. as you do.

        This is my view and experience talking: part of the reason that you are seeing a backlash is that there is such a bias against us at work in academia and college already. If I had a nickle for every time I had to correct a teacher on what Pagans believe, ancient and modern (with sources for the former, and sources along with my own experiences for the latter) I would not have to worry about my student loans. For every time that I explained my religious views, the round mocking I received from both teacher and fellow students, I would not have to worry about furthering my education. Atheism and agnosticism are becoming more the rule in places of higher learning, and I have, on several occasions, endured ridicule from professors in professing my beliefs. It is not just that they do not want to understand what I believe, it is that they are actively hostile and/or mocking to what I believe.

        Things like this, tacitly approved by the University of Wisconsin, add to an atmosphere that many already feel is possibly, if not actively hostile to them. No Pagan groups go around denouncing atheism like this. Christian groups that do are often, in my experience, reprimanded. Yet somehow this antagonizing is consistently supposed to be given a pass because they’re atheists; I do not understand that. So this isn’t just one thing or another, it is a litany of bullshit many of us who are in an academic field have to endure.

        In regards to other religions being erased, well yes, other religions were being erased and mocked, ones whose ways are actively celebrated and are not being reconstructed, revived, etc.

        I am not asking, nor would I ask Pagans to endure stupid bullshit like this, no matter the speaker. I would not ask a Pagan to endure a sermon from an outwardly hostile preacher, nor more than I would a mocking one. Unfortunately, this AHA group is employing more or less those same tactics.

        The AHA should be called for task for failing to even do the minimum to stand by their Mission Statement. I don’t care how big or small the group is, or how they justify their actions. What they have done has not generated goodwill, has been inhospitable to their fellow classmates and/or future ones, and creates a hostile environment so they can advertise their group.

        As to this: “The gods need us to defend them?” No, I am not suggesting that. What I am saying is that our ways should be defended from erasure. From needless mean-spirited acts. From the ignorance of others. From having their ways mocked by people that profess to want to build relationships and tolerance and understanding out of one side of their mouth but mock those Beings we hold most dear, and our ways along with them, out the other side of their mouth.

        1. naiadis says:

          Thank you, Sarenth; the time you’re taking to explain where you are coming from is helping me understand points of reference that are not my own, and I appreciate that. I’m not in the academic field, I don’t have any first hand experiences with college/academic life, so all I really know is what I’m seeing, rather removed from the immediate or not immediate-but-similar-enough experience.

          I’m back to thinking about things like minorities and the onus of education, and how it’s not fair that those in whatever minority group has the responsibility to represent those/that group, and yet it is what it is. No solutions, just thoughts. Could be the hostility that I’ve seen that I don’t quite get. Could be my own reluctant to react or move when I am controlled by my anger/hostility, rather than waiting for a reaction that isn’t guaranteed to cause more harm.

          Nuances not considered. More thinky-thoughts. Honestly, thank you.

          1. Sarenth says:

            I’m glad it has had that impact. I’m putting together a post of my own on this and going through the myriad emotions and reactions I’ve had to this, and exploring why I felt them, and where they can be put to good use. Thank you for helping me in this by giving me feedback and pushing me to think on it.

            1. naiadis says:

              Excellent! I look forward to reading that post. And, you’re welcome.

      2. Sarenth says:

        I just want to be clear that my anger is not AT you, but this situation and the larger trends that it represents, feeds into, and encourages.

        1. naiadis says:

          And thank you for that, too. I’m not reading anger at me at all. Especially considering how close to home this is/was for you, you’ve been helpful and civil, and I respect that.

          1. Sarenth says:

            Thank you. πŸ™‚

  4. Myriad says:

    I think the person who turned Freyja’s “headstone” into an altar has it right. The whole “call to arms” kind of reaction over this just looks silly from where I’m standing. They expect people to take offence, in fact, they’re counting on it. Why do them the favour?

    1. naiadis says:

      I did love that photo, I must say. πŸ™‚

  5. Stephy says:

    Seriously. I just don’t understand the vitriol. And I *really* don’t think it’s that big a deal. College kids pulled a slightly annoying stunt! Oh noes! In other news, sky blue, water wet.

  6. When I first heard of it, I snorted. As an idea, you’re right, it is clever. It’s a great way to get people to come over. I would have. I would have walked around and probably talked to people. See if anyone had favorite gods. Something that gets me, really, is that my own God isn’t represented “correctly” but rather as um.. Tom Hiddleston? (So there’s more or less a hilarious joke in there….)

    And I guess that really gets on to one point that just makes me sigh and roll my eyes and grumble: college students, learn to research! AUGH. AUGH. Seriously. AUGH. I’m more frustrated about that. I mean, yes, on the one hand, they chose a nice range of Gods, but the dates! And the little blurbs! The photos! I’m more angry that they didn’t do their research. JSTOR! The library! The professors! Oh come on!! HUFF. If you’re going to do it right, do it right!

    I can’t get angry about this when they don’t even pick the right image for my God!

    (Of course, being the logical and detail-stickler ass that I am, I’d still have a problem with it then for other reasons regarding “if there is modern day research, then the Gods can’t be considered dead yet” so…. But I’m going to ignore that point.)

    Heh… I think my issue is: dammit, if you’re going to do a project, atheists (and anti-theists), do it right! HUFF.

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