“Stealing Them Back”

Updates

We just learned who will be doing the foreword for the next issue of A Beautiful Resistance!  We’ll announce them on March 1st (sorry to be a tease!).

Also! March 1st is the deadline for submissions to the next issue.

Decolonizing Paganism

A very important criticism of “modern Paganism” is that it’s often quite colonialist, particularly in North America.  From the appropriation of First Nations beliefs by mainstream Paganism to the appropriation of African Diasporic Traditions by Polytheists to justify animal sacrifice, it would seem Paganism is unavoidably Colonialist.

Here are some links that may help us answer the question, how do we decolonize Paganism?

Occasional Gods&Radicals author Heathen Chinese has written a review of Pantheacon, but rather than focusing on the “Big Names,” he draws attention to indigenous voices and struggles:

Pantheacon is an annual “conference for Pagans, Heathens, Indigenous Non-European and many of diverse beliefs,” which is held on the unceded land of Tamien Ohlone-speaking peoples in the city of San Jose, California….

A really useful resource on the matter of decolonizing our beliefs and relationships is the site, Awakening The Horse People. We particularly recommend this essay.

And though there are vital problems in the historical analysis of this essay, some of the questions the author asks are quite relevant regarding the ways Pagans–especially Wiccans and Polytheists–view Empire.

InstagramCapture_f5284d7d-4db3-4982-a56e-f5b17c0978c9(1)And we received a letter-to-the-editor regarding A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer which brings up some important questions regarding Paganism as a white, male, Colonialist religion.  Since we did not secure permission to reprint the letter, we’d like to summarize their critique and our response

They’d read A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer and thought it was great except that Alley and I seemed to ignore the fact that modern Paganism was created by upper class colonialist white guys (like Gardner, Crowley) and is sustained by Capitalist whites selling books and seminars. How dare we suggest that Paganism isn’t anything but white colonialist bullshit?

A reply, from Rhyd Wildermuth:

We tend to take the opinion that, rather than being created by white middle-class men, Pagan beliefs were co-opted by them. You’re right–there is a lot of bourgeois books and festivals and teachers who profit off of Paganism and Witchcraft. Our hope is to overthrow them, or at least displace them enough that the rest of us can reclaim it from them.

Instead of tracing the birth of “modern” paganism to Wicca and Gardner/Crowley etc., we trace it back further, to the early resistance to industrialisation and Capitalism. Luddites, Whitboys, and many other early resistance movements invoked gods, spirits, and magic to fight landlords and factory owners.

Silvia Federici has convincingly shown that the creation of the ‘working class’ was founded on the death and oppression of women-as-witches.

Yet, as you say, the narrative of modern paganism is that white men with colonialist jobs (like Gardner) founded this stuff. This narrative remains specifically because they need us to believe that. They need to make sure that we don’t question the Capitalist system from which they profit.

They stole our paganism. They stole our witchcraft. They stole our gods.

We’re stealing them back.


Writer Highlight: Syren Nagakyrie

syrenOne of the founding members of Gods&Radicals, as well as the treasurer of our board, is Syren Nagakyrie,  According to her bio, Syren is a Polytheistic Goddess-centered Witch, feminist, herbalist, and radical bridger of worlds. She is a Priestess in relationship with various Goddesses, primarily Hekate. Her heart sings for the sea, her body yearns for the mountains; her spirit is a Wandering Hermit.

Along with her work behind the scenes for Gods&Radicals, Syren has written several pieces, including her series, Liberation Magic, a review of H. Byron Ballard’s recent book, and a poem, Dis-Re-Member-Ment:

My torso becomes a tree
Beautiful and strong
Standing tall and proud
Among its sisters and brothers
And the tree is cut down
Used as logs in a pyre
Flames burning high
In this ephemeral state

She just returned from India helping to organize work for gender-based domestic violence, and is writing about her reflections here.


 

Quote

Every attempt to rethink the political space of the West must begin with the clear awareness that we no longer know anything of the classical distinction between zoē and bios, between private life and political existence, between man as a simple living being at home in the house and man’s political existence in the city….
…In the camps, city and house became indistinguishable, and the possibility of differentiating between our biological body and our political body — between what is incommunicable and mute and what is communicable and sayable — was taken from us forever.
Georgio Agamben, Homo Sacer
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“Betraying the City”

After a very long wait, the professionally-bound A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer has finally arrived! Originally presented as a photocopied zine at the presentation which sparked Gods&Radicals, we’re pleased to offer an expanded, 40-page, perfect-bound edition with matte cover.

Single copies are $6.00, which includes shipping within the United States.  (We are currently unable to offer the Primer outside the United States until we find a suitable distributor on account of punitively high shipping rate changes.)

Click here to purchase a single copy of the Primer for $6 including shipping (US only).

We’re also pleased to offer bulk purchase pricing. Email us at gods.and.radicals [at] gmail.com for with the word PRIMER in the subject heading for quotes.

Speaking of shipping rate changes, prices for new subscriptions and future single-issue purchases of A Beautiful Resistance will increase March 1st.  This is due both to postal rate changes and an increase in charges from our printer.

Until March 1st, you can still purchase a subscription (issues #1 and #2) within the United States for $20+$6 shipping until March 1st, or a single issue copy of A Beautiful Resistance–Everything We Already Are (#1) for $12.50 + shipping.  Digital rates will remain unchanged.  Here’s the link for purchasing.

We’ll have information on Pre-Sale prices for issue #2 as well as new subscription rates (for US and International folks) on March 1st.

Also on March 1st, we close the call for submissions for the next issue.

Links

Pagan traditions often involve critiques of the modern, including specifically the urban. This week, a collection of links regarding the question of the city, anti-capitalism, ‘progress,’ and nature.

Primitivist and Anti-Civilization critiques (particularly that of Deep Green Resistance) often rely heavily on the hope that a future ‘apocalypse’ will even the playing field for humanity and the rest of the world. But is it possible to have Primitivism Without Catastrophe?

And on the matter of civilisation—instead of waiting for the cities to sink in the sea, how do we reclaim the cities?

Here’s an article from a modern-day struggle for the Commons in Lancaster.

And more notes from A Beautiful Resistance editor Lorna Smithers on the struggle against Fracking in Lancashire.

Writer Highlight: Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd...Rhyd Wildermuth’s one of the co-founders and is the Managing Editor of Gods&Radical, as well as the editor of the first issue of A Beautiful Resistance–Everything We Already Are.  He’s also a monthly columnist for The Wild Hunt.

His experience growing up in abject poverty in Appalachia, raising two younger sisters after his mother became schizophrenic, and years of social work with the homeless (along with his own experience on the streets) taught him much about Capitalism’s hatred of the poor, while his devotion to Welsh gods and to the Forest honed his understanding of what Capitalism does to Nature.

From his essay, An Apparently Impossible Problem (also published in A Beautiful Resistance):

The way past the impossible usually just involves giving up some certainty that is keeping you on a snow-bound bus at the bottom of a hill, some habit, some reliance on an expectation that isn’t serving you any longer.

 

You can carry a rucksack full of wax and wine up a snowy hill with your lover and laugh and make mulled wine and warm yourself and each other with the love falling like rain and snow from the skies.  You can read by the light of burning barricades and plant chamomile in the cracked pavement and tell stories of what it was like when we thought we should ignore the gods and the dead.

 

We can side with the poor and the streams and forests and crows and the forgotten, because there’s so many of us, you know, and we have the best stories.

He studies druidry with OBOD and lives in Occupied Duwamish Terrority in the city called Seattle. He’s also published two books, his primary blog is Paganarch, and his writing for Gods&Radicals can be found here.

Quote

The city’s unreal, the forest gates unhinged, and you walk always along the edge, in both worlds and neither. 

You are emissary.

You are saboteur.

You are how the forest becomes the city you’ll betray.

You are unborn dreaming remembering the past.

You are the endless taking root in the now.

–Rhyd Wildermuth, from The Forest That Will Be, in A Kindness of Ravens.