Author Topic: Pagan appropriators, allies, and other weirdness (was Pagan Version of NAFPS Forming)  (Read 77393 times)

Epiphany

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Many of my ancestors are from the Shetland Islands. Some people who also have ancestors from the Shetland Islands, who don't know better, would think Shetland Islands = Scotland = Gaelic speaking = Celtic Pagan = we can all be Celtic Shamans.

They would (and do) point to the yearly fire festival as "proof" of a supposed certain type of pagan heritage. But that is inaccurate.

This from Paganism: A Very Short Introduction, by Owen Davies (who also writes of how "fakelore" becomes folklore):

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The most well-known case of the re-invention of a tradition to give it a pagan heritage is the Up-helly-aa festival in Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands, which today attracts thousands of visitors in January. It is likely that simple winter festivities involving music and dancing had carried on in Lerwick for centuries, just as they had elsewhere across Europe, but many of the 'ancient' aspects of Up-helly-aa are the products of 19th-century developments. The burning of tar barrels seems to have introduced in the early 19th century. Concerns over public safety caused by this practice, and the drunkeness that accompanied such celebrations, led in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to a complete re-invention of the festival inspired by the Shetland's Viking heritage. A 'pagan' Viking pageant was devised involving an ordered torch-lit procession by hundreds of men singing an 'ancient' song written in 1897, and the spectacular burning of a Viking-style longship as a sacrifice. Local socialists and the temperance movement also influenced the development of the pageant. It was all a long way from Norse pre-Christian religion.

I didn't grow up in the islands, nor did my parents. I'm not there now. Can't speak for people who live there, nor would I ever do "spiritual tourism" and plant crystals/do ceremonies there. I can't sidestep cultural appropriation issues by claiming that we are all the same, that one seafaring culture is just like the other.

So wearing a kilt, a Thor's hammer necklace, calling myself a Pict, and speaking a little Gaelic so I can show up at events with a knotwork painted drum like you write of, burn sage, and sing about The Green Man - this would all be so very very wrong.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 05:36:22 pm by Yells At Pretendians »

Epiphany

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Most of them think any white person can be called "Celtic" when actually the only surviving Celtic cultures are those who still speak a Celtic language (GĂ idhlig, Gaeilge, Gaelg, Cymraeg, Kernewek, or Brezhoneg) and in order to understand the cultural survivals, you need the language, and to take the spiritual ways on their own terms, without trying to shove them into a pretendian-shaped mold.


My use of bolding there, such an important point.

Language, spiritual ways on their own terms = needing to do lots of reading and learning, no throwing things into the blender and no assuming things are all the same, no looking for ways to prove preconceived notions.

I think it is important to take our time and also deal with our own discomfort, be willing to admit that sometimes we really just don't know. We could be wrong. We might not have a clue.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 05:35:49 pm by Yells At Pretendians »

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Recently, living here on Turtle Island, I encountered a white pretendian appropriator who had her DNA done. She says she found out she has extremely distant heritage from some of the mainland European Celtic tribes (who no longer exist as a culture, and the remnants of which only exist via what was assimilated by the cultures in the surviving Celtic Nations, after the mainland tribes migrated there). So now, with no connection to any living culture, and no knowledge of European history, she's claiming to be "Indigenous Celtic." She knows nothing of the cultures and is just a Wiccan/pretendian/nuage mishmash. It's ludicrous, but some of the people attempting to colonize Indigenous identities this way are really crazy and aggressive. Some have even attempted to colonize interfaith events as Indigenous representatives.

Offline catbus

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Recently, living here on Turtle Island, I encountered a white pretendian appropriator who had her DNA done. She says she found out she has extremely distant heritage from some of the mainland European Celtic tribes (who no longer exist as a culture, and the remnants of which only exist via what was assimilated by the cultures in the surviving Celtic Nations, after the mainland tribes migrated there). So now, with no connection to any living culture, and no knowledge of European history, she's claiming to be "Indigenous Celtic." She knows nothing of the cultures and is just a Wiccan/pretendian/nuage mishmash. It's ludicrous, but some of the people attempting to colonize Indigenous identities this way are really crazy and aggressive. Some have even attempted to colonize interfaith events as Indigenous representatives.

It's funny how these folks keep always trying to turn their lost ancient traditions which they know not much about for sure, because there was no surviving lineage whatsoever, into something that resembles NDN traditions. Or they mix it w/ Harnerism ofcourse, and claimt hat Celtic, NDN, Shamanism, the traditions are all the same so they can piece it together.

Maybe they should just accept, that there traditions are gone, white people killed off their 'earth-based' traditions, did not allow any lineages to survive, and no such communities or lineages of Elders truly survive to this day.

One cannot even call a scholar or reconstructionist a true pagan. There are plenty of douchebags who have learned Gaelic fluently as they can, have studied anthropolological writing and folklore extensively, yet they still steal from other traditions and declare it's ok. Half of these white devils also seem to have a strong tendency to identify themselves as 'hedonists' or 'hedonistic' which seems to be part of why they are so individualistic they could never have the 'checks and balances' of true elders and community. They want to 'revel in the flesh', and run around naked in the moonlight with some redheaded whore, doing some made up ceremonies and calling out to some made up gods and goddesses. That is the usual idea of being 'wiccan', or 'pagan', for most Amerikkkans who identify with that word, at least the men. The women, it is more of a way to steal indigenous-looking practices and mix it with their white-supremacist feminist movement/rhetoric.

As far as i have been taught, there is no such thing as a surviving pagan community with all its traditions in tact that managed to survive christian persecution. There seems to only be fakes like the Golden Dawn, and alot of hippies who have studied the world's traditions, then mix it up and call it pagan. And writings, etc, without any surviving lineages, are not enough for a people to reconstruct traditions which dates back all the way to pre-christian times. So let us all be skeptical of ANYTHING that anyone says is a european spiritual tradition.

Keep a healthy distrust of the 'pagan', 'wiccan' label itself when it comes to the world of spirituality, because i would guess that th number who are truly concerned with authenticity are like 1 percent, especially considering how many stupid-a***es run around calling themselves pagans and wiccans. I think that girl who probably died naked out in the forest not far from here, called herself a wiccan. When you confront the the pretendian pagans, they have mastered the political correct rhetoric, and they will act like you are 'denigrating their traditions', they will act like they are traditional Indigenous people being persecuted by racists, when it is the other way around. They are the racists, and therefore the enemies. I am beginning to study into their traditions from a scholarly standpoint, just so I can tear them devils down whenever I encounter a pagan.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 05:37:00 pm by Yells At Pretendians »

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Maybe they should just accept, that there traditions are gone, white people killed off their 'earth-based' traditions, did not allow any lineages to survive, and no such communities or lineages of Elders truly survive to this day.

I think you're painting with too broad a brush here. I've posted on here a lot about how we do have surviving cultural traditions, if one is willing to take the cultures on their own terms, learn the language and music, etc. Around the turn of the last century in Scotland, and a bit later in Ireland, massive projects were undertaken to interview elders before they died and took a ton of cultural wealth with them. We have many recordings of songs and stories. These are the things that existed *alongside* Christianity. We know less about what was truly pre-Christian, as those were writings by the Romans, but when those accounts line up with the survivals, some pretty solid things can be, and have been, pieced together.

I understand your anger, as I've dealt with the eclectics and fantasists denigrating my ancestors and the surviving ways for my whole life. I deal with it every day. But I also feel like you're playing pretty fast and loose here.

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One cannot even call a scholar or reconstructionist a true pagan. There are plenty of douchebags who have learned Gaelic fluently as they can, have studied anthropolological writing and folklore extensively, yet they still steal from other traditions and declare it's ok

I'm not exactly sure what you're point is here. Real reconstructionists are firmly opposed to eclecticism and cultural appropriation. But we have no control over what people call themselves. The same people who misappropriate from, and misrepresent, NDNs also misappropriate from the ethnic cultures I am part of.

"Pagan" isn't the best word for what we do as it's been so tainted by the appropriators, nuagers, etc. But by the technical definition (from the Roman "pagani" - of the countryside - the people who held to rural "superstitions" after Christianity came to the cities) any of us doing earth-based traditions can be called that. It's not my preferred term, but it's not *technically* all that inaccurate.

With our struggle for language survival, and as language is the heart of a culture, I would never call someone who has made the effort to become fluent in Gaelic and help preserve and pass on the language a "douchebag."

The people who are misusing the word "reconstructionist" when they are actually just eclectics and fantasists are a big problem, but those are not the people who are learning the languages and learning from the elders who are native speakers, storytellers and musicians. We do have elders of a sort. It's not as structured or solid as the thriving NDN communities on this continent, but it's pretty comparable to the communities who had early contact, who have had to fight to keep and revitalize their language, and who still have some simple ceremonies but few things that are as huge and elaborate as some of the surviving ways of the people who were invaded much later.

I've said all of this up-thread, though, so I'm not sure why we have to go over this again.

Yes, people should be incredibly skeptical. And there are plenty of fantasists and liars who have tried to confuse the terminology. But until you're more familiar with the field, I'd respectfully ask you to avoid tarring everyone with the same brush until you know more about what does and doesn't survive.

Offline Defend the Sacred

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I don't know as much about mainland Europe, but there are surviving ethnic, polytheist customs and rituals in Latvia and Lithuania, as well as in parts of Greece. I hear there are more, but I know people personally from villages in those countries where they still hold bonfires to the local deities/spirits on the festival days, and where you can buy amulets to the deities in the village marketplace. It's small, it's simple, it's rural and underground, but it's not all gone.

Gerald Gardner did great harm when he cobbled together something he partially made up and partially pilfered, because while he propagated the idea of survivals, he fed people things that were not authentic, leaving the real survivals to be ignored. When it became obvious what he'd done, some became healthily skeptical, but others swung to the other extreme and assumed nothing had survived.

The same problem exists in Wales with the work of Iolo Morgannwg, who preserved some lore, but mixed it in with things he'd made up. He helped with the revival of interest in Welsh Celtic ways, but also damaged people's ability to tell authentic survivals from his forgeries.

Finding the true ways of our paler ancestors has been hard work, but a great deal of groundwork has been laid over the past few decades and generations. Telling people that there are no authentic "European" ways is both untrue, and can also lead to Euros trying to justify being pretendians because they mistakenly believe they have inherited nothing that is their own. They may not have been born into a family that remembers and practices the older ways, but they have the birthright to find their relatives who do have viable, earth-honoring lifeways, and they have the right and responsibility to listen to their own ancestors and ancestral spirits and honor them in the old ways. 

Offline Defend the Sacred

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A clarification:

they have the right and responsibility to listen to their own ancestors and ancestral spirits and honor them in the old ways. 

Uh, as long as it's not oppressive or immoral. Some of our ancestors were violent raiders, or participated in genocide, or had less-appalling but still inappropriate customs we don't want to preserve. Ancestors who did that stuff don't deserve to be honoured. I only think they should be remembered to the extent that it means learning from history so we don't repeat it.

What I'm talking about preserving are the old, earth-honoring ways that don't offend or insult the people and spirits we now live among. Things like songs and appropriate offerings, observing the holy days, maintaining shrines for the ancestors and spirits, etc.  I'm not advocating anything oppressive, even if some of the ancestors did it. I'm going to assume some common sense here...
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 05:37:34 pm by Yells At Pretendians »