Purity and Miasma, Part 2: Katharmos Is No Guarantee

Magick From Scratch

In my previous post in this series, I explored a text quote which demonstrates how the absence of purity is not a deal-breaker if you are a human calling out with an earnest heart to Hellenic deities.

In this post, I’d like to look at a quote very often cited as evidence that one should never make prayer in a state of impurity.

and with hands unwashed I would take shame to pour the glittering wine to Zeus; there is no means for a man to pray to the dark-misted son of Kronos, with blood and muck all splattered upon him

— Homer’s Iliad, 6.266-8

When you take this quote utterly out of the context of the surrounding story, it seems pretty clearly supportive of the idea that you can’t pray, at all, without ritual purity. Strange, considering the anecdote about Glaucus that I explored in my last post.


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Shub-Niggurath; Racist? Lovecraft, Racism and the Etymology of the”black cloud”



Shub-Niggurath seems to be the source of a lot of debate regarding H.P. Lovecraft’s racist views and whether they had any influence on this deity’s naming. However, this debate seems to be missing the point. They are focusing purely on the name without considering what it actually is as an entity: “the black goat in the woods with a thousand young”. Each part of that name gives us some idea of HPL’s intentions and the influence of his widely-acknowledged racist/xenophobic views.

DISCLAIMER: I must admit, I haven’t actually read much Lovecraft. But I saw debate over Lovecraft’s racism and the name of the god ‘Shub-Niggurath’ and looked to explore the etymology of the name and whether – based on my very limited knowledge of H. P. Lovecraft – it had any connection to those racist tendencies. Don’t take this as definitive, this is just me throwing some ideas around.


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Are Pagans Oppressed?

This shouldn’t be a point of contention. Yet, it is necessary. This is a continuation of my Persecution post.

Pagans are not a coherent enough group for this to even be true.

Let’s parse this one out.

Who are pagans?

We are a diverse group of people who worship a diverse group of religions. That usually means polytheism. Being a polytheist does not necessarily make one a pagan, however, as can be seen with the Shinto folks who do not like to call themselves pagan. There seems to be an underlying implication that being pagan equals being unrecognized by the State. So in reality, pagan is an incredibly broad word, but I’m sure you all knew that already.

Rhetorical side question: What happens when pagan religions get recognized by the state? This has happened with Romuva in Lithuania, for instance. That doesn’t mean acceptance, of course. It just means another option on a census and slightly more respect.

What constitutes oppression?

Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

a : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power

  • the continuing oppression of the … underclasses  —H. A. Daniels

b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power

  • unfair taxes and other oppressions

Who is in power, then, if pagans are oppressed? I’ve seen people raise Abrahamic religions, which is an absolute farce. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are rampant in many parts of the world. Christianity doesn’t exist everywhere. Buddhists are just as likely to commit genocide as other religious groups, as the Rohingya crisis has shown.

Of course, pagans aren’t in power. But there is no clear party who is oppressing us either. So shouldn’t it then follow that we are not inherently oppressed for our religions?


Critiques of Christianity in particular fail to recognize that Ancient Romans crucified Christians while living and broke their legs so that they would slowly suffocate under their own weight. Pagans and more dominant religions have, in the ancient past, traded violence. The violence that the Church did inflict were brought about by racism; the Crusades, the kicking out of Muslims from Spain, et cetera.

The argument about pagan oppression seems to me to be a point for white pagans to stake a claim in suffering and finally get a chance to be the main character of their tragedy. A way that white, straight, cis people can finally, finally take a place in the Oppression Olympics (yes, that phrase has been used badly, but it applies here). If I have learned even one thing from being on Tumblr it is that people think being oppressed is cool; see: various groups trying to weasel their way into the LGBT community, arguments about depression being ‘less bad’ just because society understands it more, et cetera. It goes on forever.

So if you honestly believe you are pagan and oppressed, maybe self-reflect. Maybe write down a list of reasons you believe this to be true. Watch a documentary about the Civil Rights Movement and think, have we been put through this level of systematic violence?

The answer will be no.