Fake Shinto Shrines in the US

 

So I didn’t really know if I would end up posting about Shinto here at all, but for better or for worse enough bullshit has been happening for me to complain about it here (yay?).

One thing is this guy who claimed to have a Kyoha Shinto (sect Shinto) shrine in Tennessee while disrespecting the fuck out of whoever he’s enshrining. I won’t name names overtly but I will link to a video of a part of this “shrine” because well…it’ll maybe help drive my point home.

All of this? Complete horseshit. Let me explain.

  1. This is simply not what the inside of a shrine looks like.
  2. All the flags are extremely out of place, one of them appears to be promotional from a company
  3. The abundance of mirrors makes no sense either
  4. If this is supposed to be the goshintai (‘body’ of the kamisama, kinda?) then he shouldn’t be taking videos of it.
  5. Very New Agey dragon decor that is, again, very out of place. Exacerbates how this guy claimed to have used traditional architecture when nothing about this is traditional at all.
  6. That chandelier is more ostentatious than what I’ve ever seen at a shrine.
  7. Why the fuck are there runes on that thing?!

You may say “that isn’t explicitly listed as a shrine, it might not be!” well, fear not my friends. The sacred paper strips shown at the beginning are about the only accurate thing here (assuming he made them correctly).

It’s disrespectful to kamisama, it’s disrespectful to Japanese culture and it’s also extremely White to step in, steal someone’s religious practices, and manipulate it however you want. It’s also very White/Orientalist to sell this as authentic, as a legitimate Kyoha shrine when it’s anything but. The spookyness is weird, and it gets worse in a Halloween video where the shrine was…a haunted house. You don’t put spooky stuff near kamisama, Halloween is a separate and secular event in Japan. Kamisama do not like skulls and things. Don’t do that.

Another guy came up in the Twin Cities who made up some bullshit Neo Minzoku (folk) Shinto which is hilarious. Shinto doesn’t need a “neo-“, it isn’t pagan at all so I’m not sure why some white guy thought it appropriate to frame it like a neopagan reconstructionist religion. He also throws Baba Yaga into the shrine which also makes no sense, she’s Russian…?

The kami enshrined at the Twin Cities shrine are all vaguely-named kamisama of bad things like illness. There’s no parent shrine, a Wiccan guy just made up a bunch of shit and claims Japanese people are okay with it (this one isn’t!).

 

The point of this rant is that: as always, “Eastern” religions deal with the demon of Orientalism. People think we’re exotic and weird and spiritual and different. That leads to (usually) white Westerners decontextualizing the content of the beliefs instead of researching or asking an actual priest/ess, and putting out misinformation at pagan festivals with ugly decor and other Westerners accepting that as truth, because no one bothered to do any research. Slapping an “Eastern” label on something doesn’t mean it’s authentic; if anything you should be more skeptical if a White person is trying to sell you something packaged as “Eastern”, “Oriental” (yes, one of these people used that term) or “exotic”. Please for the love of kamisama do your goddamn research.

 

Dogwhistles: How the Fuck do I Tell if a Pagan I Follow is a Fascist/Racist etc.?

Note: This page is intended as reference and I by no means endorse this content whatsoever. I avoid writing out slurs, but be warned of Nazism and references to violence.This list is by no means exhaustive.

Symbols

  • Tree emojis and mountain emojis signal ecofascists (more on that here)
  • Runes in general need discernment, especially when in tattoos.
Thor’s hammer, from Wikimedia Commons.
Valknut/valknot, from Wikimedia Commons.
A reproduction Roman standard featuring SPQR, from Wikimedia Commons.
  • SPQR
  • Roman salute” (Nazi salute)
  • Swastikas (technically, the Kolovrat is a kind of swastika, but sometimes that is hidden by Slavic nationalists when they use it)

Words to look for in bios and posts

  • The suffix “-bol”, ie. nazbol, olbol
  • “Trad”/”tradition”/”traditionalist” ie. tradcaths (fascist pagans also use this prefix)
  • “Based”
  • Folkish
  • Odinists
  • Obsessions with Valhalla, fighting war for ___ religion/against ____ religion, etc. Usually these types have names like “Warrior of Odin” or something, and post macho Viking posts (this fixation contradicting historical evidence that most ancient Norse people were farmers, among other inaccuracies).
  • “Ethnic”, i.e. ethnic religion, ethnic Hellene, etc.
  • Echoes: ((( ))) usually used around names or antisemitic stereotypes
  • Slurs (reclaimed slurs will usually be pretty obvious in contrast to ones used against others), includes censored variants such as replacing Gs with 6s or censoring with asterisks (i.e. f*g), using gay as an insult, etc.
  • Monarchists, nationalists (usually self-identifying in their bios)
  • “Aryan”,“Germanic”, “Nordic”, calling a European group a “race” etc.
  • “Cuck”, as the kink has strong racist tones itself
  • “Pagang”, Yang gang“: I’m guessing white nationalists like to adopt the word gang as an ironic parody of what they think is Black culture. Yang refers to Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang.
  • Wignat

Rhetoric is more nuanced with some other terms which I won’t get into here. However, who somebody is friends with or regularly replies to is very informative. Scroll through a bit of their following if you can to see if anyone with these indicators is on there. Keep an eye out for these symbols/images/words.

I found this thread and this followup thread to be very true of what I’ve seen online, and also enlightening about the meaning/context of some of these hate symbols.

Here’s the ADL’s database of hate symbols, which covers stuff not as common in online pagan spaces.

 

 

Wheel of the Year

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

☆☆☆

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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Distances and a nostos

So as you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit inactive (moreso than usual, at least) on this blog. That’s due in part to schoolwork, but also because I felt a bit far from Hellenismos, to be honest. I became more drawn to Shinto and syncretic Japanese faith for a good while. I still have quite a bit of my heart in that area. I wonder if I should post about Shinto as well? I’d love to hear any opinions on that.

While I felt a sort of vague, overwhelming anxiety that I might not be meant for Hellenismos, or that my faith was veering in another direction than I had planned, I confided in my fellow neo-Pagan roommate. He reminded me that Ancient Greeks would practice even if they didn’t believe strongly, so I should probably do festivals and stuff even if I felt iffy about my overall practice. I have to say it really did help.

I’m still in a spiritual limbo, but I feel more of a connection back to the Theoi again. I feel as though my ability to feel them and percieve their signs was dulled while I was at my lowest point.

All this to say: I’m still here, and hope to write more articles.

Greek Pagan Basics: Hints for Studying Religious Sources

Hearthfire Handworks

When I say I’m a semi-reconstructionist, I mean to say that I draw heavily on historical, archaeological and literary sources in building my religious practice but don’t limit myself to those sources.

I’d also like to say that I by no means feel that what I do is the only proper or viable way to honor the gods–we are all different, and different things will work for different people. What works for me is a limited reliance on historical practice to inform my own. Now, a lot of the work has already been done by your co-religionists in terms of working out ritual formats and so forth. There is no pressing need to re-invent the wheel.

But if, like me, you like that sort of thing? It can be a very rewarding way to expand your spiritual life and to personalize your practice.

So, how to go about it?

Finding…

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Shinto and Sexuality: A gift of life

Living With Kami

With the recent ban on adult content on Tumblr, it has given way to a lot of discussion about adult content online and what is or isn’t acceptable. Legitimate issues were brought up in how violence is more normalized than intimacy and sexuality, and how the bans would affect sex workers and nsfw artists greatly – Tumblr, one of the last safe mainstream social media platforms that could ensure an income and audience base is now also being ripped out from under them. I feel this is not right and even a dangerous and irresponsible decision to make. Instead of relying on bots and algorithms to moderate between adult content and all-ages content, they should hire a dedicated moderation team, and proper safety features into the site to protect minors, but also while not censoring adult content creators and their adult consumers. There were ways that worked before that do…

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