A Repeated Reminder

This is an expanded rewrite of the original post here.

In the online pagan and polytheist communities, there is the common idea that deities must choose you, call to you, nudge you, whatever, in order for you to work with that deity. Without getting into why that mindset is a bit of a problem for newcomers and the like, there are other issues related to it that do need to be addressed. A big one comes from issues regarding entities in closed cultures and how to respond if one of them reaches out to you first.

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Battles are found outside of War Zones

Recently I’ve seen an increase in the mindset of anonymous users [on Tumblr] claiming that in order to follow a war deity of some variety, you must be set on entering the military or at least law enforcement in order to uphold a warrior’s path. This mindset is absolute garbage and suggests that the only “true” battles and wars we wage are against those we’ve deemed an enemy of the state in some manner, that they need weapons and death and destruction at every turn. Claiming such things not only discounts people who have already tried and failed to enter the military, it discredits those who have found battles elsewhere that need to be fought.

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Applying Modernized Concepts to Really Old Entities

This is something I’ve been thinking about the past few hours (yes, only hours) and I think I have my thoughts in an accessible order. There was a post that came up a few days ago on Tumblr, and it got me thinking. As Western society becomes more aware of differing sexualities and genders, there are people in different religious places who may falter when it comes to feeling comfortable and identifying with deities from mythological and religious canon. This has resulted in asking “As a ____ are there ancient deities that fit the bill to match me?” I understand why it happens, everyone wants to feel included and many want their practice to be their safe space or something that reflects them as a person, but this question is problematic. The shortest way to answer that question is to say: No, not exactly or No, probably not.

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31 Days of Polytheism – Day 1 – Introduction

Notes:
– I will most likely be adding notes to the beginning of every 31DoP post in order to help myself stay organized.
– I condense each prompt and reword it a little so that it’s easier for me to refer to, readers can see the original prompts here.

Introduction: Polytheism, developing your path – the story of how your current polytheistic path developed.

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Discernment – Is it a Sign?

Most people in the pagan, polytheist, and similar spheres understand that not everything is a sign or message but there are some, who have been practicing for all different lengths of time or are different ages, who really don’t have a clue what to conclude as a sign. The question, then, is what is a sign? What do I count as a message? How do I know if it’s just coincidence? Is it always just a normal thing? Do I trust my gut instinct? How will I know the difference between a sign and the mundane? The answers to these questions are different for everyone, methods of discernment are different, personal experiences aren’t always the same. It becomes very hard to figure out what should and shouldn’t be considered.

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Beginner Resources for Gaelic Polytheism

Despite that this shouldn’t even be necessary, understand that this is how would help someone get started.

Starting out with anything is a process, and no one really outlines the process or how to proceed and handle moving forward. No one ever really provides a place to begin or ways to get started, and it makes things difficult for a lot of people, especially those who have never had the privilege to be taught how to do research, or have never had the chance for a strong scholarly setting to learn from. These are some helpful (in my extremely excitable opinion) links to get started from the very basics on to some more specific resources for Gaelic polytheism.

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Being a Bully is not Part of the Warrior Path

Something that has really begun to bother me in the Tumblr pagan sphere is this idea that just because one might worship an entity of war they have the right to bully others into submission or to harass them for simply not being at the same place religiously as oneself. It creates a bad reputation for those who understand that there is a difference in simply being an aggressive person and flat out being a bully for no reason. As the Gaol Naofa Facebook guidelines page says, “Being a bully is not part of the ‘warrior’ path.”

This point needs to be repeated, “Being a bully is not part of the ‘warrior’ path.” And those who cannot understand this make me wonder why they really consider themselves a warrior, since warriors are not meant to tear down people for no reason, but rather to protect them.

So where does this idea of self-entitlement to the point of bullying come from? I have made speculations, but I do not definitively know, one way or another, all of the potential reasons. That is not to say that I cannot guess at the ones I do not have experience with.

I, at one point in time, thought that I could get away with being rude, overtly aggressive, and mean simply because I was using it as a defense mechanism to prevent from being attacked myself, and I claimed that because I was a devotee to an entity of war I could get off scott-free because of it. This is not the case and was never the case – it made me look immature, petulant, and dishonest. If one cannot, in anyway, uphold a moral high ground and they use a war entity as the excuse they are, down right, someone toxic and unhealthy to be around.

This is not to say that I am peaceful and optimistic either; I am not. I thrive in conflict and thrum with energy when I put myself into competitive situations. The difference from being a bully, though, is that I know how to remain respectable and composed, instead of flying off the handle. An aggressive personality is common to come across, and yet many of these personalities do not offend the onlooker immediately, and that is because most people know to show a little decorum.

Another reason I have seen used is the excuse that oppression gives someone an automatic right to be mean and cruel. It does not. I count as a religious minority, and I account for two letters within the acronym LGBTQIPA+ (gay, asexual), however I would never dream of this as a reason for being downright rude to someone for no reason. It gives me a right to be angry or assertive, not a monster. And not only is that behavior presumptuous, it de-legitimizes my stance on issues in the eyes of many. And then to lump this as a reason to be constantly rude with that of worshiping a war deity… It is over the top, incredibly childish, and comes across with a similar air to being a special snowflake. “Well I get to tear you down for no reason because I worship x deity and I’m oppressed because of x reason.” Stop – that is not how life works. It is never an excuse to act hateful and cruel.

So this idea floating around Tumblr, that worshiping war gives one an automatic reason to be a terrible person, needs to stop. If one lacks basic ethics to the point where they only justify their deeds with a war deity, or use that is a further excuse for their deeds, they have a serious problem with their character and they need to reevaluate themselves.

Worship war, be angry, stay aggressive; but do not, under any circumstances, act hateful, like a bully, and petulant and write it off as “being a devotee of a war god.” And while I have stated that I have let things go to my head, I am not perfect now, nor will I ever be. I am working towards becoming a better person entirely. It is a process to unlearn – but at least I have learned that the entities I have devoted myself to are not an excuse to maintain the attitude of a bully and harasser.

Original version of  post here.