Respectability and gatekeeping

I have really mixed feelings about the word “gatekeeping”. I prefer to say “elitism” because of the tendency for lots of (mostly online posters) to use gatekeeping as a catch all word to shut someone down without addressing the actual arguments at hand or pointing out the harms being done (if any). It also usually is anti-intellectual in nature, and well, as an American person, I’m all too familiar with the effects of that…flat earthers and so on stem from that sort of hostile relationship between society and academia (especially lower class whites who get radicalized etc etc).

So, how is this related to paganism? Well, lots of pagans hurl accusations of gatekeeping or elitism, while others counter with “fluffy bunny” and the like. I think elitism is inherently bad — you aren’t smarter or a better person because you have a PhD. A lot of people with PhDs don’t get jobs anyway because capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and so on. PhDs mean jack shit on their own, they don’t qualify you to be an expert. I question the monopoly on experthood anyway since white cishet people tend to be nominated the “experts” in any and every field, including Indigenous studies.

Just because a pagan author has a PhD doesn’t mean they are trustworthy, correct or even a good person. I feel like society has ingrained in us that someone with credentials is instantly trustworthy, knows what they’re talking about and a liberal/progressive person. This isn’t the case, and can be seen pretty easily when you see how sometimes people have PhDs in completely separate fields and use that to feign expertness in another, or are straight up fascists with a doctorate (i.e. Krasskova). I’ve also noticed that a lot of Twitter pagans like to over-use jargon, in such a way that it makes their social media basically inaccessible to anyone without a Philosophy degree.

On the other hand, anti-intellectualism is a real and concrete trend I’ve noticed in New Age and Pagan spaces. It’s understandable because a lot of academic writing is inaccessible to people who aren’t students and know at least some of the lingo, but on the other hand it makes it a free-for-all of information and that’s how you get people claiming to be Hekate’s son or whatever.That’s the new aim of my blog, in part, because I’ve only got one foot in that conventional academic structure (for now, I don’t know about the future!). I find a lot of academia pretty hard, but I also am fortunate enough to have the ability to access a lot of material.

I guess the ideal is a balance between using academia and not relying so heavily on it you get sucked into inaccessible jargon and elitism; you don’t want to completely make shit up and revise history either.

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Wheel of the Year

Oh my gods if someone asked me something like that about Saraswati I think I’d delete my blog

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I want to talk about the wheel of the year. The short version is: I have mixed feelings. I don’t outright hate it, but I definitely don’t love it. Though, if I had to pick a side, I am definitely more on the “this is absolute horseshit” end of it.

The wheel of the year, as many know, is essentially the neopagan/Wiccan holiday calendar. The four “major” holidays at the solstices are referred to as “sabbats” and the four that occur between the solstice celebrations are sometimes referred to as “esbats”. At least, that’s my understanding of the terminology. I could be wrong.

To start, I don’t like them being called “sabbats”. Partially because Gerald Gardner decided that sabbat was the proper term and has always been the term because, in the middle ages “Shabbat” was also used to refer to “other heretical celebrations”, as well as the Jewish day…

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Piety and Impiety

I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter use “impious” as an insult, accusing certain behaviors or people of being impious. I don’t feel like it’s really a smart way to have any conversation (attaching an insult to someone doesn’t mean they’re wrong or have no good points to make). Aside from that though, there’s a more troubling undertone to this.

Imipous assumes that the people (let’s say PP for shortness’ sake) know what piety was in Ancient Greece (or Germany, or whatever), and that said piety was uniform throughout the land. My main area of knowledge is pre-Hellenistic Greece so I won’t try to pretend like I know anything about other ancient European societies, but I know that for Greece, there was a gap between what say, Plato believed, and what laypeople may have believed (Did the Greeks Believe in their Myths? Paul Veyne).

Basically, it’s an infantile no-true-Scotsman fallacy combined with a serious lack of historicity.

Astral Projection: Scientifically Dubious Cultural Appropriation

I’ve written about the problems with astral projection before. As I was doing reading for a class I’m taking, though, I realized that the problems go beyond simply scientific. Astral Projection is a 19th Century, fascist-created nonsense.

First, a bit on history.

Astral projection became a thing in the UK and US during the late 19th century, continuing to be popular now.

Its origins in the 19th century are detailed here:

The astral body was regularly discussed by occult groups such as the Theosophical Society, which drew upon the concept of the subtle body in Indian yogic traditions…the idea of “exteriorizing” the astral body was later popularized through works such [as] Sylvan Muldoon’s widely read Phenomena of Astral Projection (1951).

The Church of Scientology, Hugh B. Urban (2011).

I feel like most younger neopagans don’t know what Theosophy is, but for anyone confused I’d suggest looking up something along the lines of “Blavatsky White Nationalism”. One such paper notes how Theosophy’s creator, Helena Blavatsky, is at least partially to blame for the racial superiority ideas of Nazis (Santucci). Blavatsky is also a white supremacist who created her own bullshit “religion” by appropriating other cultures.

Essentially, astral projection is a culturally appropriative, completely nonsensical idea cobbled together and repackaged for the West by a Nazi.

Sources:

Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion: 77. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.
Santucci, James A. “The Notion of Race in Theosophy.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 11, no. 3 (2008): 37-63. doi:10.1525/nr.2008.11.3.37.