Gods, Radicals, and Respectability Politics

godsandradicalsI’m happy to say that I am involved with a new website, godsandradicals.org. This site was started by Rhyd Wildermuth, inspired by a recent conference presentation he did with Alley Valkyrie on pagan anti-capitalism (in particular, check out their pagan anti-capitalist primer). Of course I signed on early to help out, as a writer and a we’ll-see-what-else-is-needed. The site went live recently, and the first real article, by Jason Thomas Pitzl, went live today, and it’s a great one. Respectability Politics: Act Like The System So That The System Will Listen? addresses the very question of what it means to be both radical and respectable, in the context of the neopagan movement start in the 1980s during the “Satanic Panic.” His conclusion makes a lot of sense:

The truth, of course, is that most people simply do not care about us, our struggles, or what we think. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but there it is. I slowly realized that all of our work to be sensible, safe-seeming, and sharp-looking has barely dented our (alternately silly and scary) image with the general public. Have we made some small in-roads in some small areas? Of course, and those are to be welcomed, but you don’t overturn centuries of oppression, propaganda, weaponized folklore, and moral panic, with a nice tie and a winning tag-line.

I agree with him, and I find the notion of respectability politics framed in this way to be self-contradictory. For me, authenticity is a big part of respectability, and by becoming less authentic (by adopting appearances and behavior patterns of the dominant culture at the expense of one’s identity), one in fact loses respectability.

A great start to this site, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the coming months. I’m still working on my first article for the site, I will certainly be updating you dear readers regularly as things progress.

On Snakes, Truth-Speakers, & St. Patrick

St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.5; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Photo editing by the author.

St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.5; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Photo editing by the author.

My latest article for A Sense Of Place on Patheos Pagan is up. Like my previous article on A Pagan Short History Of Valentine’s Day, it is a short analysis of a popular holiday in our culture.

I find it interesting that these two posts have been by far the most popular of my writings at Patheos thus far. For me, the Elemental Ethos series I have been doing (Earth, Air, and Water thus far) have far more meaning to me, in that they are a reflection of how I try to live, and contain useful, real world applications of what I perceive to be a useful pagan ethos. Yet these haven’t been nearly as popular as my admittedly snarky deconstructions of the two popular holidays. Ah well. I have said all along that I will write what I feel for Patheos, without regard to aiming for a particular hit count or targeting my posts to a particular audience or reaction. It’s just interesting to observe.

Some have commented that the notion of St. Patrick as The Great Oppressor Of Ireland Who Converted The Pagans/Druids With The Sword is historically inaccurate, and they are concerned that this myth just won’t seem to die. I agree completely, and I don’t want people to think this is my claim in this post. On the contrary, the meme is what it is, and it is not particularly accurate. I wanted to deconstruct the meme on its own merits, without regard to whether or not it is historically accurate. It self-deconstructs, in other words. My post just helped it along a bit; hopefully in due time it won’t have the widespread acceptance that it has today.

Máni Traditional Mead, and a Wooden Overcoat

“The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani” by John Charles Dollman (1909). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani” by John Charles Dollman (1909). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

After making the bochet last night, I had some leftover ingredients so I made up a batch of traditional mead. In honor of the full moon today, I named this one after Máni, the Norse God of the Moon. Details over at BardicBrews.net.

In addition, my lovely and talented daughter, Morgan Lindenschmidt, released a new song recently, called Wooden Overcoat. We recorded this at home in the living room, and like all her recordings thus far it was done in one take. Details on this are over at CraftedRecordings.com, and check out the song:

Elemental Ethos: Water, and caramelized honey

Collecting the best water on the planet, as a gift of the ecosystem. Despite the 3′ of snow on the ground, the water flows freely and is accessible. Photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt.

Collecting the best water on the planet, as a gift of the ecosystem. Despite the 3′ of snow on the ground, the water flows freely and is accessible. Photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt.

My latest post, Elemental Ethos: Water, at A Sense Of Place over on Patheos Pagan is live. It’s no secret that water is probably my favorite element in terms of the practices I employ around them. Going to the spring is one of my favorite activities, it is probably the closest thing I have to going to church, or on a short pilgrimage to holy ground.

There is lots of other exciting news a-brewing in my reality, but for now I will keep this under my vest. Yeah, I know, I’m a tease.

OK, one hint for one item: my meadmaking practice has slowed down a fair amount in the past year, year-and-a-half. But tonight I’m going to make my first bochet, which is mead made after cooking the honey to caramelize it, which darkens it and brings out the rich caramel flavors.

Carmelizing Honey for a batch of Bochet Mead. Details at BardicBrews.net.

Carmelizing Honey for a batch of Bochet Mead. Details at BardicBrews.net.

Turns out this batch was a bit of an ordeal, in the sense that it is very labor intensive. Also, it turns out that boiling honey splashing up onto the skin and sticking is painful. A gift for a gift. Details on Luna Bochet at BardicBrews.net.