Shapeshifters: The Paganism of Identity and the Danger of Fascist Infiltration


1- Tha mi ‘nam Geangach

“Their primary focus is to now enter social movements, community spaces, spiritual communities, and the like, and influence them in a certain direction, usually towards the “preservation of the European traditions and people.”

(From A Movement of Long Knives)

The folk-song collector Alan Lomax once described the Gaelic song tradition of the Hebrides as “the flower of Western Europe,” and I for one agree with him. I love Gaelic songs so much I’ve taught myself how to sing several of them – including a few about old pagan heroes like Fraoch and Caoilte. I sing them to my kids as lullabies. I taught myself how to speak Gaelic to a beginner-intermediate level. I even wrote some bad poetry in the language. I worship Gaelic deities such as Brighid and Macha, and I practice a martial art involving a Gaelic weapon (the Highland broadsword).

Still, I never call myself a Gael nor do I consider myself a Gael. I love and appreciate Gaelic culture, but it’s not my identity. I was born and raised in New England, surrounded by English-speakers. My mother’s ancestors were Karelian Finns, my father’s a mix including Scots, Irish, German and even Transylvanian. I once answered the question “what is your ethnic identity” on a Gaelic learner’s survey with the phrase “Tha mi ‘nam Geangach!” (I am a Yankee!)

Few issues are as emotionally important to me as the survival of the Gaelic language and culture, which have been under threat for centuries. So why am I uncomfortable with forms of polytheism based on ethnic identity – even when that identity is described as Gaelic?

2- “What’s broken can always be fixed. What’s fixed will always be broken.”

“Fascism, as a radical current, critiques the current social order for various reasons, often times taking to task the same things that revolutionaries do on the left. Boredom. Environmental destruction. Alienation. Poor living standards. All of these things are presented often times within the fascist program of critique, but it does so with a fundamentally different set of values.”

(From A Movement of Long Knives)

In modern capitalist society, alienation and disenchantment are the normal state of being. People feel cut off from each other, cut off from their own selves, soul-less.

It’s only natural that some people would seek to recover what they feel they have lost, creating or recreating an identity from the broken pieces they’ve been given. That’s how it was for me. When I was a kid, my parents told me that my distant Thompson ancestors had come from Scotland, and for some reason that gave me a sense of who I was and led to my lifelong interest in Scottish history and culture.

That doesn’t make me Scottish, though. I’m still a Geangach. If I was to think of myself as being Scottish, I’d have to disregard and erase not only all my other ancestors, but my actual life experience as a New Englander. I can’t just pick one element of who I am and blow it up into a new identity. Not even if it was a much larger part of my actual background – I don’t think of myself as a Finn either, although my mother’s first language was Finnish.

I worship Gaelic deities because I love and honor those deities and Celtic mythology in general. I don’t worship them because they’re “the gods of my ancestors,” even though a few of my ancestors probably did worship them in the distant past.

Some religions are firmly based in a specific ethnic identity, but those ethnic identities are unbroken and continuous. If I had been born in the Hebrides, I might think of my worship of Brighid as being part of my ancestral heritage. Here in Maine, the context for my religion is totally different. Any attempt to base my worship of Gaelic deities in some notion of Gaelic identity would feel like an artificial construct to me.

So, I sometimes describe myself as a Gaelic Polytheist or a Celtic Polytheist because the deities I worship are Gaelic and Celtic and because I pray to them in the Gaelic language. But when I interact with other Gaelic Polytheists, I soon find that many of them mean something very different by the phrase. Many of them refer to the Gaelic gods as being the gods of “our people,” by which they specifically mean people of Gaelic descent. Not people in the Gaelic communities of Ireland or Scotland, but people in the United States and elsewhere with Gaelic ancestors – even if they haven’t spoken any Gaelic in many generations. They’re talking about “Gaelic blood” – and that makes me squirm.

3- “Serpents and sons of blood…”

(H)ierarchy, authority, tradition, and strength over the weak are the values, and the political apparatus that is chosen is just the method…

(From A Movement of Long Knives)

Maybe it’s because I have no more than a drop or two of “Gaelic blood” myself – except that languages don’t have “blood.” A recent DNA study on the MacNeills of Barra concluded that the clan was almost entirely of Scandinavian descent, yet the MacNeills were unquestionably a Gaelic-speaking Highland clan. Any claim of “Gaelic identity” based on genealogy alone is questionable at best, because Gaelic identity is not racial and cannot be reduced to DNA. Donald Trump’s mother was born on Stornoway in the Outher Hebrides, yet Trump shows not the barest hint of a traditional Gaelic worldview or mentality.

Gaelic Polytheists don’t seem to be like this. Every Gaelic Polytheist group I’ve come across seems to be aware in one way or another of traditional Gaelic values, and interested in reviving or renewing them. Yet I’m still uncomfortable.

The strong emphasis on ethnic identity bothers me, as does the strong emphasis on tribalism as the ideal form of social organization. The meticulous Gaelic-ness of a modern polytheist organization, based self-consciously on Iron Age social structures – none of this bears much resemblance to Gaelic culture as it currently exists. If we’re not just reviving the worship of ancient deities but the entire structure of ancient Gaelic society, that can only be because we believe that society to have been a superior way of life for us to emulate. Why exactly should we make that assumption?

Like many other Brigidine devotees, I tend to interpret St. Brigid of Kildare as having a strong connection to the pre-Christian goddess. I can’t prove the connection and you don’t have to agree with me, but Brigid’s comments about the social order of her own era still seem highly relevant to me. According to the Vita Prima or “First Life” of St. Brigid, the saint once said:

“the sons of kings are serpents and sons of blood and sons of death…”

People who admire Iron Age Irish society uncritically won’t be thrilled with this description, but is it not an accurate description of the sons of power and privilege in any era?

Leaving aside the fact that “sons of death” is probably a reference to berserker-like pagan warbands, this is still a striking condemnation of the injustice and inequality St. Brigid saw and fought in her own society.

She was, after all, born a slave in that society.

That doesn’t mean that there is nothing to admire about ancient pagan Ireland – personally I admire many things about ancient Ireland. However, I do think we should be cautious about taking it as a model. We should be cautious about taking any form of past society as a model, not because the past was worse than our own time but because we need to think carefully about what kind of society we want to replace capitalism with.

If we approach this project with sloppy thinking, we leave ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by the most cowardly and intellectually dishonest people in the pagan community.

I’m talking about fascists.

4- Fith-Fath Fascism

The reality is that the obvious images of traditional war fascism are so repugnant to everyone in modern society that people who share those ideas are never going to cloak themselves in them if they want any chance of success…

(From A Movement of Long Knives)

I don’t believe in progress. I don’t believe societies move from a “tribal” model to some more “progressive” model in any linear way. I don’t believe in regress either, so I don’t think of tribal society as some lost golden age we have to fight to recover.

Rather, I think societies develop based on specific and localized circumstances. People always have problems to solve, and societies develop in different directions to address the specific problems they face. Some of those solutions are ad hoc and some are well thought-out. Some are optimal and some are very much less than optimal. Some are cynical maneuvers to benefit a few.

When I question the concept of tribalism in pagan religion or leftist politics, I’m not criticizing tribal societies. I’m not even dismissing the possibility that our religion and our politics could give birth to healthy, happy and flourishing neopagan tribes. These things could happen, and I have friends and family who describe themselves as tribalists. Some of them are also influential and very knowledgeable Gaelic Polytheists, and some are committed anti-racists.

Still, in the big picture of history, tribal forms of organization are neither better nor worse than other forms of organization. They just are what they are.

However, they do offer one thing that a lot of us crave, and that’s a strong sense of connection and identity. This is exactly what many of us are looking for, and this where our vulnerability to fascist infiltration creeps in.

When Gaelic warriors would raid into enemy territory, they would sometimes use a magic spell called a fith-fath to ensure that anyone who spotted them would mistake them for deer or other animals. Like shapeshifting infiltrators from an enemy tribe, fascists and white supremacists cloak themselves in whichever shape will best disguise them, always hoping not to be noticed so they can introduce their toxic ideas.

We would all reject someone talking openly about totalitarian rule and white supremacy, but when those same values are cloaked in words like “European heritage,” “tribal identity” and “warrior values” we may not see them for what they really are.

People who have been fooled so completely will sometimes go to absurd lengths to argue that they have not actually been hoodwinked – as in the recent controversy about Stephen McNallen, head of the Asatru Folk Assembly. McNallen called for the revival of the Freikorps, a proto-Nazi vigilante militia, to “protect” white Europeans from Muslim refugees. Yet he continues to claim he isn’t a white supremacist, and some people in the heathen community seem to want to believe him. Why would anyone accept such a ridiculous claim? This is the nature of shapeshifting, the nature of glamour. Until we are willing to see the truth and say the truth, the spell keeps working.

5- “Weak toward the feeble, strong toward the powerful”

At their core is a disbelief in the capability of all people to rule, the inequality and stratification amongst people, the essential nature of value in biology, and the need to lead through violence, heroism, and strength…

(From A Movement of Long Knives)

Some people in the Gaelic Polytheist community seem to have a serious misconception about the role of strength – one that doesn’t align with traditional Gaelic values, but does align with fascist values.

“Our ancestors valued strength above all else.”

“Considering that strength was so important to our warrior ancestors…”

“Our ancestors venerated strength…”

And, sadly:

“How do I deal with negative feelings, when I know that our Celtic ancestors valued strength and despised weakness?”

These are paraphrases of comments I’ve seen in the community. Let’s compare them to some actual quotes from Gaelic wisdom-literature, which is generally presented as being spoken by kings or warrior heroes:

Be more apt to give than to deny, and follow after gentleness. (Maxims of the Fianna)

I was weak toward the feeble, I was strong toward the powerful. (Cormac MacArt)

Do not deride the aged when you have youth.
Do not deride the poor when you have wealth.
Do not deride the lame when you are swift.
Do not deride the blind though you have sight.
Do not deride the ill when you have strength.
Do not deride the dull when you are clever.
Do not deride the foolish though you are with wisdom. (Cormac MacArt)

These are brief quotes without full context, but as you can see they do not glorify strength for its own sake and they specifically forbid the warrior from despising weakness. The ideal presented in these texts is to be strong when strength is appropriate and gentle when gentleness is appropriate. It’s an ethic of balance, not of domineering aggression.

So where are Gaelic Polytheists getting the idea that “our ancestors” valued strength above all else? How could this misconception have crept into the community, among people who have read a lot of old Gaelic lore and should know better than to fall for it?

I would suggest that this is no accident, and that the presence of this idea in the community indicates that fascist values are creeping in without being recognized. That doesn’t mean the people repeating the idea are fascists- only that they’ve been fooled by the fascists.

Remember, modern fascists are cowards and liars, and most of them will never admit to being what they really are. They will always pretend to be something else, cloaking the same old ideas in new rhetoric and new symbols. Tribalism is sometimes used as one of those symbols, but that’s only fitting – considering that the whole concept was invented by colonialist anthropologists in the 19th century.

6- What Comes After

Fascism promises to restore the true order, the heroic history that never was. Fascism outlines a mythology about a particular grouping by suggesting that in the past it was racially homogenous, filled with heroes, perfectly run, and where by people are spiritually fulfilled.

(From A Movement of Long Knives)

The whole notion of pagan tribalism (and anarcho-tribalism, for that matter) depends on the concept of “tribe.” Yet the validity of this concept is far from established, and the word is now rejected by many anthropologists.

According to the Encylopedia Brittanica:

Tribe, in anthropology, a notional form of human social organization based on a set of smaller groups (known as bands), having temporary or permanent political integration, and defined by traditions of common descent, language, culture, and ideology… The term originated in ancient Rome, where the word tribus denoted a division within the state. It later came into use as a way to describe the cultures encountered through European exploration. By the mid-19th century, many anthropologists and other scholars were using the term, as well as band, chiefdom, and state, to denote particular stages in unilineal cultural evolution. Although unilineal cultural evolution is no longer a credible theory, these terms continue to be used as a sort of technical shorthand in college courses, documentaries, and popular reference works.

Actual “tribes” are highly diverse in terms of social and political organization. Some are hereditary monarchies, some have ruling councils, some use a feudal structure, some are almost totally decentralized. So there isn’t really any clear definition of the word “tribe,” except that it refers to a stage in a completely fictional model of social evolution designed to justify imperialism. One aspect of “tribe” in the anthropological sense is homogeneity of ancestry, language, culture and ideology – so if we describe ourselves as neo-tribalists, we’re implying that we want a similar homogeneity.

After capitalism destroys itself, it is certainly possible that people will form new “tribal” societies in order to survive. If we think carefully about what we want to do ahead of time, we may choose to do something completely different – like the Kurds of Syria. After the central government withdrew from their area, they chose not to base their new society on Kurdish ethnic identity even though they could easily have done so. Instead they set out to create a radically egalitarian, multi-ethnic society.

As capitalism continues its forced march toward self-destruction, one of the most useful things we can do is to think about how we would make use of the precious opportunity a similar power vacuum would give us. The fascists are doing exactly that, and we know very well what their world would look like. For those of us who embrace pagan tribalism or anarcho-tribalism, the challenge is to enact whatever we value in the concept of “tribe” without being infiltrated and corrupted by fascist values.

That isn’t our only option, though. Instead of trying to form pagan tribes, we can take our pagan values and make them part of a truly free, truly equal new form of social order. The Kurds of Rojava were up to the challenge. Are we?


Christopher Scott Thompson

Christopher Scott Thompson is a writer, historical fencing instructor and founding member of Clann Bhride, the Children of Brighid. He was active with Occupy Minneapolis and Occupy St. Paul. His political writing can be found at

His poem, “Mysterium Tremendum,” is featured in A Beautiful Resistance: Everything We Already Are.


68 thoughts on “Shapeshifters: The Paganism of Identity and the Danger of Fascist Infiltration

  1. splendid piece.

    I think the need to base one’s religious structure around some sort of ethic or cultural grouping stems from a strong human need to ‘belong somewhere’. We no longer live in the sorts of communities or smaller social groupings of the past (even up to a few decades ago), we live in big, open and sometimes anonymous societies where the notion of community is so thin and spread out we can feel isolated. Having something solid and stable, having a root in something discrete in it’s ethnic or cultural make-up can feel comforting and give something of a firm context on which to build. i dont think it is a bad thing perse, it is only when you get inot the territory of he supremacists that it gets ugly.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I belong to the largest tribe of all, Human. One way or another I am related to all people, some more closely and recently, some more distantly and in the past. I have quipped in the past I can’t afford to be racist because all of them are family, one way or another. I could not imagine any reason that I would want to limit myself to anyone group of people. All groups have things that I admire and things that I do not. I am unwilling to accept those things that I do not admire, in order to fit in and belong to any one group. I am an individual first and foremost before I belong to any group more than of all mankind. There are even some times when I prefer not to be part of mankind and for that reason I do not live in any town nor am I social to the point of visiting the same people over and over, not even family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent piece.

    I lived in a couple of different places when I was young, and always knew all my neighbors. It wasn’t a tribal thing, but there was a sense of a neighborhood – even when we didn’t always get along. Then I went to college, got jobs in various places – I was uprooted. Where I live now in a very rural area I know who my neighbors are within a half-mile of my house, but there is no interaction – no sense of community. Rural areas used to have Granges, but that institution is dying along with the Christian roots of which it stood. Nothing has taken its place. In part, I think, it is because me and my neighbors don’t need to rely on each other. In part we have no commonality. My neighbors are a writer, a piano instructor, a doctor, a retired doctor, a tow truck driver and a couple other retired people. So it isn’t just tribalism that is dead but any sense of community. In fact, I have referred to the local pagan community as a co-mutiny because there is a lack of community there too!

    I blame the automobile. Others might blame capitalism, but mobility and lack of dependence on neighbors seems more likely to me.

    But one thing you said that is peripheral to your main theme really struck a chord with me – “because we need to think carefully about what kind of society we want to replace capitalism with.” While not chiding you about ending a sentence with a preposition, (okay, I did) we need to be discussing how capitalism ends and what we would like to see replace it (not that I’m expecting to see any agreement on that point!). Being just anti- makes us think negatively rather than positively and I would like to see that turned around. If you don’t have a vision and a plan for the future, we won’t be the ones guiding it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well written!
    I am further down that slippery slope than you since I identify as an Irish Descendant. I also believe in ancestral memory, basing my love of the high plains on the fact that my Grandmother (may she be singing with the Angels) came from one of the treeless Western Isles.
    But referencing ‘Warrior Culture’ ignores the fact that the culture of the Fianna (which is what is generally looked up to) specifically defined them as ‘ambue’ (without cows) and segregated them from the tribal culture except when they were employed, which is why they are always off hunting in the Summer. My ancestors, the small-farmers and fishers, had their own perfectly good culture in which sharing was pivotal and strength was only good for lifting heavy objects.
    Gripping hand, the Gods can speak to whomever They choose to and the idea that They would pick only those translucent skim-milk coloured people as worthy of communication is ridiculous.

    “The sound of what is is the most beautiful sound in the world” said Finn.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This is a burgeoning issue in Europe which is only going to get worse it seems (i.e. the facist turn of Red Ice Radio, growing “neo-folk”/paganist movement pulling directly from Himmler’s view of Germano-Paganism, NSBM, etc…) and I fear it’s a growing trend within the US as well. Great piece – really hits at some things I’ve been mulling over lately!


  6. the issues get even more difficult for those from the gaelteacht. i am from rural north noiva scotia. my gaelic isn’t very good, partly because it was driven out of me when i hit shcool, but i grew up in a remnant gaelic culture. with a lot of english owners and some french allies. my experience is the recreationis routinely censor me for raising the issues that every gaelteacht person i know talks about you can’t call the english “invaders”, you can’t tell people their distant ancestor from ireland isn’t the same as your hearing gaelic from childhood, or your a racist, and many repeat anglo-centric historical rationalizations for ethnic cleansing gaelic slavery and the endless war in ireland. i’ve given up on pagans pretty much. i was especially stunned at being called aracist by several adf members for raising the issues of cultural appropriation. outsiders are welcome in gaelic culture. that’s a regular feature that visitors are amazed at. however out siders are never gaels unless they speak gaelic or do a major gaelic culture. for instance fiddlers like gerry holland is accepted in cape breton. he’s a great cape breton fiddler, but he comes from new england. borrowing from another cultrue without respect for it;s existing people is cultural appropriation and borders on racism. it would be good for people to always remember that anglo culture has a massive entitlement to everything in the world, even other people’s culture. now i admit this is a much bigger problem for natives and african americans and african canadians.

    i am tied of being kicked out of “celtic”groups for these issues. adf kicked me off their fb page, they allowed a bunch of posts that the gorta mor was just an act of nature.(well the was potato crop failure all over europe but the other nations fed their people). those racist remarks were ok, my saying anglo culture has created two permanent warfare states was not.

    i read andrea smith”s book “conquest” recently. borrowing from other cultures had to be done right or it quickly becomes oppression. i get people saying they think i am claiming that i am more celtic than they are!! no, i am saying if you borrow you may miss the actual point if you refuse to listen to those from the culture, and i do not set myself as a major source, but there are some, and few listen to them. most actively exclude them because they feel it challenges their power and influence.

    i might add race does not exist. it’s a fantasy from the ideologies of the european industrial revolution. your dna tells familial history and nothing about race or culture. gaels in ireland and scotland have always had major immigrant influences. the maccrimmons were thought to be italian in origion. the norse make up a good half of scots gaels, that’s why the irsh called us gal gaels(foreign gaels)

    why do all these culturally assimilated anglos want to be gaelic? and why do they want to get rid of those who are as the first step?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow, as an ADF member I want to apologize on behalf of my organization for my fellow members’ ignorance. Speaking the truth about historic and present oppression is not racism, rather the opposite! I’ve seen similar such nonsense on various pagan pages, esp. around St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going to be doing a presentation to try to educate folks at Paganicon in Minnesota this year. Hence why I don’t use the term Gaelic polytheist for myself anymore- I’m a student of Irish and Scottish culture, but culturally quite Anglo-German-American.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for your comments John, and I’m glad to see you’re still reading Gods and Radicals. The pagan community is still growing and changing all the time, maybe as we have these conversations some of the issues you raise will get better over time.

    Gerry Holland is a good example of respectful cultural exchange. I think there’s also a Mi’kmaq fiddler who plays Gaelic tunes. Out of all the fiddle styles out there, the Cape Breton fiddle has the sweetest tone. In my opinion of course. 🙂


  8. If you don’t believe in Progress then why are concerned about Fascists. I mean by your own words you don’t believe in better or worst ways of government. It is one hell of an impersonation screen to literally take decades building up a religious way of life to be forced to wait for literally hundreds of your women being raped by people who have no more sense of hospitality then how to be good guests before you throw down that gauntlet.

    Truly masterful, not that you believe in mastery or progress or that there should be any inclination to protect your own. You ought to stick to the fiddle music, you have good taste in that at least.


    1. “Your Women?”
      In what world do you live in that women are a thing to be owned? Women are not “ours” nor “yours” nor anyone’s but their own.
      Thanks for providing an excellent example of the dangers of Fascist beliefs.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. Yeah, if you’re going to use a phrase like “your women” I’m going to assume you’ve already embraced a fascist mindset and any attempt at rational discussion would be a waste of time and effort.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. This is an interesting article with a lot to chew on. My first immediate question is why you seem to place strength and gentleness at opposite ends of a spectrum. Do the texts in their original languages imply this? The longer passage from Cormac especially seems to be pretty much the same as Wil Wheaton saying “Don’t be a dick.” None of these seem to speak to “How do I deal with negative feelings, when I know that our Celtic ancestors valued strength and despised weakness?”

    Now I do know there are those out there that hate “The Weak”and see them as nothing but a drain on some fictional ubermensch society that they think they are part of. Some of them believe in exposure for children with birth-defects because we can’t have them weakening the gene pool. I don’t have any use for them, and if they’re the type that you’re paraphrasing then your point works.

    I figure our ancestors did value strength, and a lot of them probably despised weakness, especially in themselves. There are a lot of weaknesses about myself that I hate but that doesn’t mean I hate anyone that shares those weaknesses. It just means I recognize that I need to work on myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Do the texts in their original languages imply this?”
      Sort of, except maybe that in Gaelic there is a stronger emphasis on the transience of your state, just generally. In english, you are the attribute, as in “Tom is so hungry” in Irish (and hiberno-english) the attribute is on you, as in “There’s a hunger on Tom” so that Tom doesn’t become the attribute, he’s just under the influence of some it.

      It’s a pretty subtle difference but it ties in well with the article so I’ll just use one phrase to give you a better idea of what I mean.

      “Do not deride the ill when you have strength” is a perfectly correct translation but, a more literal one might say something like
      “When strength is with you, do not deride those who have illness upon them.”

      The sentence in Gaelic has a more transient feel to it, I think.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks for the reply Damien. I’ll agree, that is a subtle difference, but I think I understand. Does the linguistic difference carry over into different ways of thinking? “When strength is with you…” makes it seem like strength is something other than a personal trait, almost as if it is external. Hell, it almost makes it sound like a separate entity. I’m curious how that affects the way people think about themselves and the world around them, and I don’t know many native Gaelic speakers.


  10. “Remember, modern fascists are cowards and liars, and most of them will never admit to being what they really are.”

    Is it cowardice? Fascists are hated and marginalized by society (which only further radicalizes them).

    “They will always pretend to be something else, cloaking the same old ideas in new rhetoric and new symbols.”

    Cormac would not approve of this at all, it’s conspiratorial polemics. Extremists are human, not empty devious monsters.

    What am I getting at? As you note, these movements are gaining ground. Is this really a constructive way to combat them?

    “Fighting fire with fire”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Is it cowardice? Fascists are hated and marginalized by society (which only further radicalizes them).”

      Well, they deserve to be hated and marginalized by society. They are trying to do tremendous harm to society. Yes, I do believe they are cowards. And yes, I do believe that naming them for what they are is the most effective means to combat them.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve typed up a complete respose to this article here:

    However, to sum it up:
    What IS facist and ethnocentric: Telling someone of any ethnicity that they cannot venerate Norse or Celtic gods.
    What IS NOT facist and ethnocentric: Someone choosing to worship a certain deity because their ancestors did and it resonates with them.

    In this article you are blatantly equating, perhaps unintentionally, the practice of ancestor veneration with fascism.


    1. Knowing the author quite well, I’m certain he does not equate ancestral veneration with fascism.
      I’d encourage you to check around our site, as your response suggests you may be unfamiliar with our site (welcome, by the way!). Many of us work heavily with the dead (and chthonic deities, including the editor and co-founder of Gods&Radicals…me.) and there are quite a few essays and poems exploring practices related to ancestor relations. If anything, Gods&Radicals is equally about the dead as it is about the living, and a lot of our work concentrates on the ancestral severances caused by Capitalist displacement of peoples, including people who lived on the European sub-continent of Eurasia.

      Be well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, unfortunately I have only read a few articles off this site, and it turns out I somehow missed the last paragraph in the second section where Mr. Thompson talks about Stephen McNallen, which totally changes the context of the article. He read and commented on my post and and the misunderstanding has been cleared up.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I read your article as well. Though I am Alexandrian Tradition Wiccan, I tend to learn a bit from all the traditions that I read . I used to interview people from a number of religions and traditions in ACTION. I let each person direct me to what was important to them and then asked them questions about those subjects so that they could explain what they meant. My own opinions were not part of the story.


  12. i should thank you for this article because it raises issues that few want to acknowledge. the maistream forget that actual gaelic people do face discrimination. it isn’t nearly as bad as that faced by african americans and canadians and native people . i used to shut up because i knew there were much worse things happening to others. however i a safe place. a few erxamples.

    as a teen i hitch-hiked to the nova scotia legisdlature to worship at the shrine of joe howe and free speech(joe howe fought a major criminal prosecution for free speech in old ns) the security guard kicked me out saying that “you cape breton barbarians just come here looking for a place to sleep”. i am from guysborough county but he wasn’t too fussy.

    when at university in british columbia. i was told by my poli sci professor that a person who went to a nova scotia high school couldn’t handle university and i should get out now. i switched to hisolty and graduated with honours.

    we used to be regularil called heathens(which some pagans will find funny) or barbarians.

    in english canada i have been regularily treated as sceond class . in the sca, which it hought wold be fun like in british columbia ans california, i went to the ontario meetings. i play harp, cittern guitar mandolin some lute etc. i thought they would like early music. i was invited to play at an event, and the result was a firestorm of gossip and attacks. most of which i didn’t know about because i was not on line. however i got a lot od direct insults. especially calling gaelic that f…. gobblely gook language, and telling me there was no early music in ireland or scotland.. so i quit. then several years later i discovered that their top leaders were still spreading libel that i was a seriously mentally ill person who doesn’t take his medication, and they were posting it on the internet. now i am many things but no one had diagnosed me with mental illness, and for those who don’t know i went and got a law degree as well as undergraduate degree. they assumed i was a third class no body from cape breton. i sued. they went crazy. they fought untill three days before trial(the last day they could fly people from california). then when their lawyer realized the witnesses all supported me/ this revealed a lot of other stories which were all made up. so they paid into court my demand for ten thousand dollars and agreed to the court demand for an apology and agreed to a cease and desist order–which they have not applied to vacate to this day(they are time limited if you apply for vacation) . for those who don’t know in libel law in canada, if you apologize early and agree to demands you get off easy. they refused . this paying the demand into court is a loss of a law suit. some of them still claim they didn’t lose the suit, they just paid me off. they still often attack me when they can get away with it–but are afraid of another law suit. i used to be able to have fun there, but that is gone even in british columbia because they have a net work to spread the enemies list.(i recently went to an event in british columbia where a few grandees were nasty then one started posting libel about me on facebook, the local baroness pulled it down, but they never forgive and never forget if a minority person challenges them.

    i like america because american don’t know i am white trash like people from ontario do.

    in ontario in the seventies when we went up there to work stoop labour in the agricltural fields(jobs mexicans do now). the local guy would come a try to beat us up in gangs.(dumb idea, a dozen anglo boys against a few north nova scotians, the fuckers didn’t realize they were out numbered) and of course when they lost they called the cops and we had to hot foot it out of the province. i am writing a short story about this. these same called us dirty castholics(we wern’t but that was their bias) ans when we went to town alone they would spit on us. it was so bizzarre i didn’t get angry for a decade. i thought we were taking their jobs, which is a cardinal sin in poor areas we came from, but they didn’t want the jobs.

    but the recent holocoust style denials from senior adf people. really had me going. a mz bonewits posted english denialist article about irish slavery. the gist is there was no slavery just bonded servitude. well there are surviving records of between 10 to 12 thousand irish rebels families sent into full slavery in barbados. as well as hundreds of thousands into bonded servitude. the slaving was mostly women as the barbados planters didn’t like their afircan mistresses. these kind of denials are an exact parrallel to the denial of the jewish holocoust as are the denials that the gorta mor was caused directly by the british government and that the british government not only did nothing to stop it, they were pleased with the results of the clearing of the land.

    and the afore mentioned famine denials and a few people calling me a racist. what i wanted was free speech, and to participate, and did not at any time tell others what to do. i informed of my opinion, but at adf you must challenge race and ethnic issues. for those who don’t get this. the main stream anglo culture is not discriminated against or oppressed in any way. minorities are. racism is part and parcel of that discrimination and oppression. so when minorities talk back, THAT;S NOT RACISM. but trying to censor the monority opinions is racism. if you are anlgo middle class and think the minorites are persecuting you then you are a fellow traveller with apartheid white south africans and german nazis. that’s their postition. are those the people you want to be with.

    there was also a kook shauna aura knight who made sllly and libelous accusation against me for commenting a dissent on her artilce “i am a racist”. then of course censored me and shut me down. and when i e mailed her claimed i was harassing her. no talk back allowed to the priveledged and entitled.

    it isn’ty just white privledge, it is white anglo middle class privledge.

    am i annoyed. ya.

    in the ontario pagan world when they had bardic i would sit with harp amd cittern and wait while the terrible musicians got the stage. then they wondered why i stopped going. i could get folk festival gigs and they nada, but they were the celtic bards.

    and for everyones infomoration. anglo scotts, also called lowlanders, are not celts. nor are northern irish protestants. they both fought and persecuted celts for centuries. so claiming you are a celt or a gael because you are descended from an anglo scott colonist in ireland is cultural appropriation and yes thats a form of racism. especially if you then tell actual gaels that they are racist to define a celt by culture and language and not about their geographical roots. i do not silence those with different opinions, i disagree. but the mainstream will not allow free speech to minorities.
    i say all this with full awareness that natives and african americans have it much much worse, but in a field where a lot of people are discovering they are celts, these issues should be addressed.


    1. Hi John, I am actually descended from Scottish settlers in Ireland, but I still have a deep appreciation for the Gaelic culture and language although I don’t call myself a Gael. Thanks again for your thoughts.


    2. john mciain,

      Sorry to hear about the problems you have had. I was well aware of the Irish famine, but only in the last couple of years heard about Irish slavery. Pretty much Anglo-Saxon myself, but I have never understood the need to hide from the past, or the need to clean it up. To deny the Irish Famine, and slavery, would be as strange as denying that my long Southern family owned slaves, or that we also have Black branches of the family who are just as much Blackwell as I am and who share some of my direct ancestors. I am just fortunate that I did not grow up in the South, though I did grow up rather isolated from other peoples.

      When you talked about the problems in the SCA. There are few enough Pagans in my part of New Mexico, but I suspected some might be in the SCA which proved t be the case. My own shire was friendly enough and at our events I would meet younger Wiccans from as far as 250 miles way. Unfortunately the woman who was Queen of our Kingdom was very Christian and disapproved of Pagans being in the SCA. As luck would have it she would usually be walking by when a young Wiccan was asking me a bit of basic information. The result was it took me two and a half years to become a lord, and it took the same amount of time to become a official shire years. We had five very active ladies that planned things, I suggested the monthly pot luck feasts, and worked a bit of magic to accent the good work of the ladies, and we out did the local Barony, much to the disgust of the very Christian Queen. [Grin]

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is an excellent piece and engages with lots of issues I’ve been thinking about recently as a Brythonic Polytheist and as a Smithers. Smithers is possibly the most English surname you can get, and at first I was mystified as to why the the Brythonic gods call to me as they are certainly not the gods of my immediate ancestors (my maiden name is Collison, Scots Gaelic I think), nor are any of my ancestors as far back as I can trace Welsh, although this doesn’t mean there’s no possibility I have Brythonic blood further back than I know But really that’s beside the point.

    I don’t think there is any time Britain has not been a multi-ethnic society and this is shown in the cross-overs between the myths and sometimes the gods of our diverse and variegated traditions. My path is very much based on devotion to the Brythonic gods and their myths but in awareness of their inseparability from the many other traditions they’re connected with. The gods I know are less concerned with bloodlines than devotion and service.

    I’m wholly with you on your hope that when capitalism collapses, like the Kurds, we do not return to tribalism but instead ‘create a radically egalitarian, multi-ethnic society.’

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Depends on how the collapse happens. I see in the US a lot of voluntary segregation – African Americans live in African American neighborhoods, Latinos live in Latinos neighborhoods, etc. If, as I believe, the collapse of capitalism will be caused by the exhaustion of fossil fuels, then I do believe we are headed for tribalism. I think that is why we need to stop being anti- and stop being pro-something – to fight to ensure that scenario is avoided.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. All of these stories we tell are just human abstractions. The past is a story as is the future, both inform our present action. I appreciate the effort to integrate a spiritual/emotional practice with an political/intellectual worldview but I question so many of the premises of the article. Where did this idea of capitalisms inevitable demise come from? Or the idea that there are no trend lines in evolution in both nature and society. What function do our premises serve, personally? What is the purpose of doubt? Chasing the fascism out of neo Gaelic Paganism seems to me akin to chasing dragons, and perhaps the dragons of American tribalisms might be where the good fight is.


    1. Hi Daibhi, I’m not sure if you read the site regularly but it’s all about the intersection of paganism and radical politics, so that’s the context in which these comments were made. The idea that capitalism will destroy itself is fairly widespread in this crowd, and I personally think it’s accurate – although I won’t guess at a timeline.


  15. Hey there. Pagan student of Gàidhlig here with a couple of comments. First, a linguistic one.

    I’m not terribly certain we Yanks (I’m an American living in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) want to go about voluntarily calling ourselves ‘geangach’. I did a little digging on that word last night, and here’s what I found.

    In the index of Brigh an Òrain: A Story in Every Song (a well-respected bilingual Gàidhlig and English publication), the word ‘geangach’ is listed as ‘the term used by Cape Breton Gaels for Americans.’ The context for the word is a story told by a Cape Breton Gael and printed in the book that features and American fisherman. So I went to Dwelly’s, which is arguably the best unabridged Gàidhlig-to-English dictionary around, and it defines the word primarily as a ‘crooked, dumpy person’.

    So what I think might we have here is a Gàidhlig epithet picked up by a learner who took it for its casual translation without knowing its denotation (no offense to the article itself – which I very much enjoyed – or its writer, who makes some excellent points). I’d just rather us not go about using a word to describe ourselves that the Cape Breton Gaels intended as an insult, y’know?

    My other comment is about identity itself. I’ve lived in Nova Scotia for five years, volunteer for a Gàidhlig language educational organization, and could walk to the Gaelic College from my house if I didn’t mind walking on the highway. By and large, most folks have been kind to me here, and I do have access to all the Gàidhlig I can pay for. I also have some Gàidhlig friends with whom I can carry on the occasional conversation. But I have to tell you that my identity just isn’t here, and I haven’t managed to integrate comfortably into the culture. When I was hiding my Paganism and keeping my cards close to my chest, things were different. But I’m a middle-aged, bisexual, Heathen/Druid science fiction writer, and I’m done putting myself in tiny boxes so people I have almost nothing in common with can fit me on the tiny shelves in their brains. Besides, I can’t write for shit if I’m not willing to live an authentic life.

    So the issue of identity and Paganism is still open for me. I feel completely at home in OBOD gatherings in Britain, and I love being an OBOD mentor, so some of my identity is there. I’m also someone with a BA in Celtic Studies who cares deeply about Gàidhlig preservation, but I’m often more at home in the company of other Pagans who care about the same things than I am the secular Gaels I live among now. In all, I don’t think the answer for me is in Cape Breton, though I’m grateful for the resources I have here, and I don’t think the answer is in embracing an imagined past, even though I value the fragments of pre-Christian and co-Christian Celtic and Gaelic Paganisms we do have. I think we’re heading for a third thing, much as the author does. It will need to be ecologically conscious in ways our ancestral Paganisms never had to be. It will need to be strong enough to build community out of our syncretic and disparate Pagan paths. It will need to write itself down so that our descendants have something worthy to read. And while it will be informed by the past, it won’t be a re-creation of that past.

    Anyway, fabulous article. Blessings to all here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The context in which I’ve seen “Geangach” used was specifically to refer to New England Yankees, and it wasn’t complimentary. The Gael in question saw them as pretty much being like Lowlanders. But since I am in fact a New Englander with some pretty old roots here, I don’t mind calling myself that in a humorous sort of way. Anyway, I’m glad you liked the article and thanks for your comments!


  16. Nice essay. Root your paganism to place, not ancestry I say. Ancestor veneration is fine, but your ancestors are individual people, not a tribe, race or nation. Leaving a libation or food offering on your grandma’s grave is ancestor veneration. Getting all woo-woo about the accomplishments of your “nation” is quite another thing. Go out an hug a tree. Seriously!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am directly descended from Wlter Tyrrell – the guy who shot William Rufus in a Pagan forest on Lugh. Kind of proud of that ancestor actually….


  17. Whenever I find myself getting too clingy with the European cultures of my immigrant ancestors, I remind myself of a few things.

    1.) Those European home cultures don’t seem to have persisted nearly as strongly on the West Coast as they did on the East Coast. Not only am I about as “Irish” or”Scottish” as the next Northern Californian, but that is nothing like Irish-American or Scottish-American folks from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Appalachia, and the like. Ireland and Scotland are really foreign places for me.What I know the the myths and lore I learned from books and libraries.

    2.) If those European home cultures were so great, then why did my–and so many others’–immigrant ancestors choose to depart from them? Could the Emerald Island been, for them, less green than Northern California?

    3.) I’m actually a native speaker of the San Francisco Bay dialect of English.


    1. I think it is important for us to connect with where we are- at which point we come face to face with the reality of what happened to the people who were here before.


  18. Thanks for this article. The fascination of German neo-fascists with “tribalism” is obvious. It saddens me though, that wolves got a bad name because they have been instrumentalized as a symbol. (Not only by fascists by the way) The society of wolves is misinterpreted, especially when it comes to blatant Anthrocentrism and people are trying to assign human hierarchical structures onto packs of wolves. Which might lead to a rhetoric the nazis used with their “Übermensch”/”Untermensch” and neo-fascists (and interestingly enough the so called pick up “artists”) today are applying as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. i gave a few exzmples of what gaels face in anglo culture.thinhgs that no anglo i know if exp;eriences.

    ultimately, why are pagans pro censorship? because anglo culture is pro censprship. and why are pagns so into cultural appropriation” becaause anglo culture is so into cultural appropriation. so the next time you block or censor a mamber of your group ask yourself, what is their relationship to your group? and what iks your relationship to them. even i nova scotia there is a group called alba nuadh, whcih claims to be gaelic that censored me first for calling the english in ireland “invaders”. and then for criticizing the ontario celtic pagans i refered to above, and for their claim i wanted everyone to l,earn gaelic–which i did not at any time say. why this censorship? so why call your self alba nuadh is you shun and censor your only gaelteacht member? a group like this should call themselves “friends” of alba nuadh, at best. their ritual comes from an ontario teacher who was wiccan.

    well after i did a little research they were mostly protestant lowland scotts ancestry or ulster colonist/protestant ancestry. see the problem.? descendants of the wosrt enemies gaels have every faced are now cool celts. there is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing from other cultres, just don’t pretend you are that culture. they follow a major pagan writer in ontario hose claims to be a gael, but his father was a lowland prolstant scot who lived in ireland and then moved to ontario. he was born in anglo protestant ontario heartland.again nothing wrong with bolrrowing. BUT THERE IS SOMETHING REALY WRONG WITH CLAIMING YOU ARE THE PEOPLE YOU ARE BORROWING FROM. then the next step is always to shun censor and exclude any actual gaelteacht people. this same ontario pagan is a celtic wiccan follower, taught by major celtic wiccans. now my best friends and helpers in the ontario agan community were wiccans–but non celtic wiccans. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CELTIC WICCAN. WICCA ISN’T CELTIC. gardner borrowed some ideas and added them to what is essentially english masonry with a female focus. that’s all fine. but it isn’t celtic. you don’t become a gael by mispornouncing shamhna!!! again the same guy spent five years in ireland under celtic teachers, and learned no gaelic. you can’t fall down a set of stairs in ireland without hitting your head on the door to a chapter of comhaltas ceolteori eirrennin!!! that teaches gaelic to anyone!!!(my non celtic wiccan friends mostly agree with me on all this–and unlike my celtic wiccan aquaintances invite me to play music for them)

    i am happy with people learning gaelic culture and they often make great contributions. one friend in british columbia is a great irish and highland dancer, and she’s chinese. if that doesn’t happen then culture will die. however, when the orange lodge or protestant colonist of ireland replace the gaelteacht, thats just an extension of colonialism, and in this case genocidal colonialism.

    if you borrow from celtic culture to make your religious or cultural thing, maybe call it pagan, with no celtic reference. or perhaps modern extrapolation. but as soon as you start calling it gaelic or celtic the next step is always to kick out and censor the gaelteacht members. that’s how anglo culture works. look at the same borrowing from native cultures. your dna is not a major part of whether you are irish, or scottish. there may be a genuine mystical dna linkage-several teacher i respect believe this, but if you loct the cultural linguistic link you probaly lost to ability to re establich the link without a major effort. dan claims usually are not much different from racial claims, which are a european fantasy from the industrial imperial nation states. this racial thinking is wide spread in the english speaking world. i could write a whole article about it.

    i left out my long sordid tales of the anglo canadian folk music scene, which is often worse. i have often been gratefull to american folkies. they play celtic songs without claiming to be a celt, and welcome the real thing. i got a gig at the berkely folk festival, years ago, picked up off the street busking on telegraph avenue . the guy heard celtic music but a whole set of new tunes and songs and PAID ME to share. that never ever happens in canada.

    i hope the points i am making are clear. if you are not culturally or linguisticlly celtic you’re not a celt. you may be a friend descendaed from a celt and maybe you have some surviving traditions but if your first response is to marginalize actual celts, then maybe you ought to self examine. if your religious tradition borrows from celtic, acknowledge that , and don’t censor the actual celts you have. actual celts have a lot of experiences that the mainstream anglo never experience, and you might listen.

    finally again i reaffirm balcks and especially natives have it much worse. everyone should be helping them with active assistance.


    1. Hi again John, these are very complex issues – especially when people are looking for an identity and don’t understand all the context. For instance, the distinction between the Gaelic and English-speaking areas of Scotland is not well understood by most Americans. Also, most of the Lowlands was Gaelic-speaking in the early Middle Ages, and spoke Brythonic Celtic before that. English only came in with the feudal system, and there were pockets of Gaelic in the Lowlands into the 1600s. So even a person descended from Lowland Scots might feel that there is a Gaelic history further back that has been lost over time. Obviously that does not mean they should claim a Gaelic identity, but it may lead them to become friends of the Gaelic language and culture.


      1. If you’re talking about the spiritual practices you’re engaged in, I think the fact that something calls to you is more important than your cultural background, if you’re serious about it. Someone’s always going to say they’re more authentic than you but that’s a load of shite, if it’s working for you, if you’re getting what you need from it, then clearly the system or tradition itself has accepted you and some self appointed guardian of authenticity really doesn’t have the place to tell you that you don’t qualify for the club.

        If you’re talking about bloodlines and stuff, worrying about all that ancient cultural heritage stuff is a bit weird to me. I mean, the traditions that you have in your own family, that’s your cultural heritage. It’s good to know where the traditions came from but most of the people who did these things in the past didn’t understand the entire history of it, they did it because that’s what your family did.

        Today is a good example. It’s known in Ireland, and elsewhere I’m sure, as St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid of Kildare may or may not have been a real person but I’m almost sure she’s not a saint in the Catholic Church. Anyway, her feast day is the first day of Spring, Imbolc, and a lot of the Catholic traditions in Kildare around st Brigid’s day seem to be related to the pre-christian worship of the Goddess of the same name. For generations and generations, all throughout the Christian era in Ireland, people did these rituals without understanding them just because that’s what their family always did on the first day of Spring.

        You get your real cultural heritage from your family and community, knowing about the ancient stuff should enhance and add to that but it’s better to add a new layer over your existing family traditions than try to feel back the layers and imitate the way things were done in your family 70 generations ago. Our modern capitalist culture retains a fertility festival at the start of spring, some type of midsummer celebration, a harvest festival of some description and midwinter feast. My personal inclination would always be, if you were thus inclined, to add your own spirituality to the existing festival rather than try to authenticate things somehow.

        I wouldn’t worry too much about who’s a Geal and who’s a sassenach, you’re from the place where you grew up, your people might be from somewhere else, but you’re identity isn’t something you’re going to find in a distant past.


  20. This was a stunning piece, gave me a lot to think about, even though it is written from the overseas perspective. I wonder, would you see things any differently if your ancestry was actually closely connected to the land you inhabit, not for couple of decades, but for many centuries into the past?

    I admit despising Neonazis (for various reasons I won’t go into), and I never considered myself a white supremacist either; these days though, facing the reality of a sudden, uncontrolled and mostly culturally incompatible mass immigration here on the Old Continent, I often find myself asking: “How would my ancestors react if someone came into their hunting grounds, ridiculing their gods, defacing their holy places, attacking their women and children in the streets?” And I can’t find any other answer than this: They would fight. What little we know about their history, mostly from legends and anecdotal data – but more importantly, from the mere fact we’re still inhabiting the same lands they once did – shows us that they would fight. So they would, by Perun! Maybe not with joy, maybe not with cruelty, but likely out of necessity. And then I realize that in order to be able to pass this land onto my descendants, I might also have to fight some day soon. Just like Samo fought the Avars, and just like Ilya Muromets fought the Tatars, and just like Hussites fought the German iron knights, and just like Vlad Tepes fought the Turks, and just like my own grand-grand-grand-grandfathers fought the Catholics, and just like my own grandfathers fought the Nazis. All those people are a part of my cultural heritage in one way or other, and they all stood and fought to form the world I live in. The day may come when I will have to stand and fight like they did, to form the world for my grandchildren to live in, because… well, because that’s how it goes in the world, apparently. Because people who have a habit of coming to one’s land uninvited & staying there unwelcome, can seldomly be reasoned with.

    One thing I don’t know, though – does all this make me a fascist?


    1. Again with the “our women” thing. You can’t own women, Enise. I agree that “people who have a habit of coming to one’s land uninvited & staying there unwelcome, can seldomly be reasoned with,” and I’m sure the refugees would agree too, as they are fleeing a situation that they didn’t create but that foreign military power unquestionably contributed to. It seems like everyone has some stake in the Syrian conflict and is willing to drop bombs on behalf of one side or another, but when people show up at your doorstep saying they have nowhere to live now it’s suddenly somebody else’s problem. Obviously my country does more of that than anyone else, so this isn’t a dig against your country. But the thing is, they are not an army. They are people running away from a war. That is not the same thing as an invasion, it is not even similar to an invasion. I happen to live in a neighborhood of Somali and Iraqi refugees and I never see them doing the sorts of things the Avars or Tatars did. I see them standing next to me at the bus stop when our kids go to school. The scenario you’re describing is a fantasy, and a very destructive one. Okay, so you want a heroic struggle – I’d say you need to think very hard about which side of that struggle you want to be on.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “these days though, facing the reality of a sudden, uncontrolled and mostly culturally incompatible mass immigration here on the Old Continent, I often find myself asking: “How would my ancestors react if someone came into their hunting grounds, ridiculing their gods, defacing their holy places, attacking their women and children in the streets?” And I can’t find any other answer than this: They would fight.”

      Shtting hell, there is so much wrong with this it is difficult to know where to start.

      First of all; they are not ridiculing your gods (if so, certainly less so that your own countrymen are likely to be doing – are you fighting them?), and neither are they defacing your holy places, the women are certainly not yours. Any incidents of refugees or migrants fleeing wartorn countries attacking people in the countries they are trying to settle in are vanishingly small.

      MOST of the people who are being forced out the middle east into Europe want to live. Within living memory we had something similar in Europe, you know, countless Jewish people fleeing persecution and death in the face of idealogical monstrosities in their own country. Those who escaped were settled into their host nations and some even moved back to the new homeland in the middle east. We saw there what happen when the persecuted and afraid dont escape, just as we are seeing on our news what happens to those still in Syria at the hands of Daeash, or trying to stay safe in their own home when western or Russian bombs drop.

      these people fleeing are doing to so to survive, some may stay long term, some may go back. Some of of these people are highly skilled; doctors, nurses, engineers…the kinds of people who can offer us something while they are here.

      You disgust me. you really do.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You only have to watch the news or read a paper to know that these ‘refugees’ did actually attack the local women. Hundreds of women out celebrating new year in Germany were sexually assulted, ranging from “minor” groping to rape, and these are just the ones reported to the police. These ‘refufees’ have nothing in common with the refugees from national persecution, the fit men and women joined the allies and fought back to regain their homelands. They did NOT move to a new country and expect to be housed and supported by the state, try to enforce the beliefs of their countries on the people who took them in and then expect other countries and people to fight their wars while they run away like cowards. To compare them to the genuine refugees of the 1930s and 1940s is an insult to those fleeing national persecution. I don’t know where you live but I live in an area where there are ‘refugees’ arriving and they are all young fit males, no women or children, who expect housing and support as a right. And I am NOT including in this ANYof the African immigrants who are openly economic, hard working, willing to fit in and share a common religion in that they are Christians if not all catholics.


      2. And you only have to read the paper to know that only 3 out of the 58 men arrested so far turned out to be recent arrivals. Or to have seen the dead bodies of children who drowned trying to escape the proxy war currently being waged in their homeland by the US and the European powers. If you’re such a fan of keeping up with the news, I can only assume you know these facts – and that only exposes the hypocrisy of your position.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. no lowlanders shouldn’t claim a gaelic identity, and even more they could stop persecuting people who do have one, admittedly almost gone and destroyed.(and the gaelic speaking “lowlanders” tha lasted on the coast were the gal gaels–norse gaelic settlers form further north who gave thier epithet name to galloway)

    the real issue isn’t that complex. don’t censor and exclude the people you take a dislike to at least untill you hear them out. i have found it routine for people to exclude and censor in paganism.. the fascists are inside the walls!!

    i used to try to reason with these people but after a few dozen times of getting hundreds of flame mails i’ve got the message. pagan identity in the anglo world is all about establishing class and group high status. an idea foreign to gaelic culture.(people who visit are often amazed how friendly people are). his class status is an essential part of anglo culture. anglo culture has been militarized for hundreds of years and rank and command are essential to getting your own people to go kill all olver the world and bring back the valuable stuff–used to be called making yolu fortune–as andy m stewart used to joke. this authority fight in paganism is essentially the anglicization of paganism. to succeed you have to drive out those who don’t have class bigotry, or drive them to the bottom of the pile where they belong.

    so i am pretty pissed at being the best musician and sitting out at the bardic–or the folk circle. i am pretty tired of pagan censorship and being blocked without notice or reason. and yeah i think adf is a cultural appropriation group with a lot of racist members. i still can;t believe the discussions i heard there. several about all the fights irish and scots get into, and how drunk they get, and who gets drunker or fights harder, har har har. absolute racist sterotyping. one guy was saying that english militarism for the last three or four hundred years was justified because the viking invaded them a thousand years ago. this is the kind of reasoning you would have found in der sturmer–the nazi newspaper. something that happened a thousand years ago from a state that doesn’t exist, is the same as what people are doing now from a state that still exists. none of the adf ;people questioned this. on another pagan folk music discussion group a guy claimed that since st patrick was taken as a slave, the slaving in ireland was justified. again a few raids a thousand or more years ago, buy a state that no longer exists, justify war crimes and crimes against humanity by a state that still exists, and still practices torture. no one but me questioned this logic, and then they kicked me off.

    yeah we got fascists, right here in river city. it’s not that complex. ethnicity is complex, but censorship discrimination and class bigotry are not.

    if you are censoring and expelling peoplewithot notice or hearing, and without justification then you’re not doing something complex. it’s bigotry. it’s racism.


  22. Hi John, re: “ethnicity is complex,” this is what I meant. And also that not many Americans actually realize that the Gaelic culture in Scotland is distinct from the Lowland Scots culture. TV and movies usually don’t make that clear at all. “Highland Games” definitely don’t. Obviously that’s not an excuse for people who study Gaelic mythology and ought to know better.


  23. and to enise, it sound like you are willing to defend england from unwanted visitors, but the english were the unwanted visitors as well. and they are still occupying pieces of real estate that are not majority english. in ireland. so please go.

    fighting catholics? huh?

    and don’t tell me the usual justifiactions. the tripartite commission found that there has never been a free and fair election in northern ireland and that the irish native population are the majority but many never get to vote. so if england really wanted peace they could have it over night by asking for a european union army to take over for twenty years or so, and disarm everyone, and decompress the situtation and hold free elections. i could go intoi detsil about the tripartitie commission, bun it was composed of members of the european high court of justice, the european human rights commission and the the world court human right branch. and the radical rag the “economist magizine” printed it in the eighties and tok the editorial position that the uk should leave ireland. the howl of our cry from england fgorced them to revertse their position.

    i compare this to degaulle who with drew 2.5 million french colonists form algeria, becaue he said.”other wise we will have a permanent war like the british do in northern ireland”

    so keep fighting those catholcis for peace


    1. Also worth mentioning ,though you seem to ignore it, is that many here in the Republic actually dislike those north of the border intensely and not because of the English. In fact there are many many English living and working in the Republic quite happily, and we don’t own or occupy chunks of real estate we aren’t entitled to. Not sure where you live but you don’t have views represented by any of the many Irish I know.


  24. I wrote the article that is referenced several times in Shapeshifters. This article is great, I’m glad my article was found useful. I think sometimes we really neglect just how problematic many pagan circles have become, and where the concept of folkishness, meta-genetics, traditional jungianism, (or whatever they end up calling it) has completely warped the lore and tradition. I have zero problem if your ancestry is what drives you towards a specific pagan tradition, but if you believe your ancestry requires it, then that is another story. This racial dividing line is a uniquely modern concept itself, one completely absent from lore in our current understanding of it, and the notion that we share genetic material deep in the past is a scientific absurdity.


  25. Thankyou. I needed this. After running across red ice radio… My skin was crawling…. Very, very creepy.
    You have restored my faith in the people on the pagan path, and path itself.
    On a personal level I was also struck by how you have approached your reverence and exploration of Gealic culture, while remaining clear about your own identity. While you don’t breach the topic of cultural appropriation, you nonetheless address it. As a pale, mutt-child of settlers in the wilds of the West Coast of Canada, it is something I think about constantly, both in my day to day and in my exploration of the Gods.
    Your approach grants me the courage to honour who and what calls me, with respect and sensitivity.

    Wild trails to ya


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