Soil and Sky; Love and Joy

There are those who try to hijack Paganism in the name of their bigotry and their hatred: who crow “blood and soil!” as if that means something. As if it is anything more than an adolescent boy’s angry braying.

Like most big lies, the “blood and soil” of neo-Nazis–some of whom describe themselves as “folkish” Pagans or heathens– contains a tiny kernel of truth buried in its pile of garbage. Because there is nothing wrong with a sense of allegiance to land and to family.

The problem is in how right-wing haters narrowly define land and family: they value only this land where “we” came from…and “our people” is only people of our ethnicity.

It’s nonsense, of course. And it reveals a many-layered onion of insecurity, resentment, rage, ignorance, projection and failure to grow.

You can tell by the emotional tone of a religious path whether it is worthy or not. The rage, repression, humorlessness and hatred of fundamentalist Abrahamic religions and “folkish” Paganism alike are clear indicators that they are not paths to joy, liberation, or right living. Our Atheopagan Principle #5–Perspective–makes it clear that for us, a sense of humor is not peripheral: it is essential, so we can keep a humble perspective about ourselves and our journeys.

To us, the soil and sky that are the birthright of every creature on Earth are not grounds for excluding and defensiveness and hatred. No; they are the inspiration for never-ending joy and love, for wonder and amazement.

And we welcome all who would share this awe, this kindness, this generosity.

The philosopher Karl Popper demonstrated in the 1950s that the one thing a tolerant culture cannot and must not tolerate is intolerance, for if it does, intolerance will eventually become its norm. So we should be vigilant, in the Pagan community, not to countenance bigotry and hatred in the name of pluralism: it is the antithesis of pluralism.

Atheopaganism is no different, and we have to be vigilant in protecting our kind, warm community from hatred. When people apply to join the Facebook group, for example, we not only consider their answers to the application questions, we look at their profiles. If we find signs of fascism or bigotry or insensitivity to the experience of the oppressed, we’ll take a pass. Our events have clear and explicit written nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies that every attendee must endorse.

I contend that the Pagan community at large should be doing the same. Conferences should (and many are, I should be clear) exclude participation by such “folkish” bigoted applicants. If they can’t agree to adopt some basic decent values, we are under no obligation to let them play in our spaces.

“Folkish” Paganism/heathenism is a stain on our religious movement. We are well within our rights to shun it, even if it technically meets some of the generally accepted criteria for what constitutes Paganism.

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