• All witches are very conscious of stories. They can feel stories, in the same way that a bather in a little pool can feel the unexpected trout. Knowing how stories work is almost all the battle. Terry Pratchett
    Witches Abroad

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Other Blogs

  • Unsettled Time
    We are living in unsettled time. Wp Rnpt has ended the time between time, the Days Upon the Year in which time is upended and unordered, but time is still not aligned fully. We have space in which action exists, in which we can uphold the world, set ma’at in its place, the leverage to […]
  • Just a quick note
    I’ve updated my bio page with a link to Les Cabinets Des Polytheistes, where my story “Spine of the World” is published (and in which people can play Spot The Netjer if they are so inclined), and my less-specific webspace Suns in Her Branches, which is broader than this space (which is specifically for reconstructionist-derived […]
  • Opet article is up
    And can be read here.Filed under: Patheos Links
  • On Falling in Love
    For a long time, whenever I wanted to talk about the experience of conversion when I found Kemeticism, I talked about falling in love. It wasn’t just “Oh, this religious concept works for me,” it was a passionate thing, an […]
  • Eclipse Magic
    I am eight. I have been given a subscription to the magazine Sky & Telescope as part of our preparation for Halley’s Comet, and I read through it, earnestly trying to make sense of the articles, studying the pictures. I […]
  • Hills of the Horizon: The Past is Another Country
    The problem with extrapolation from history is that nothing is testable. The evolution of a religion over time is not a predictable and easily comprehensible thing, where we can look at a point in time and say, "It was like this then, so it would be like that now." The process of deciding what needs […]

Scope of Discourse

I see a lot of conversations about echo chambers, sometimes. People surrounding themselves only with people who agree with them and reinforce their worldview. And I’m well aware that I do that too – I get my news, and a lot of my interpretations, from people I know. And I don’t spend a lot of time with people who hold positions I find repulsive because, well, … that’s not really a good time.

Every so often, though, I get shocked. I see someone who I thought of as far more politically active than I am comment that they were getting all their politics filtered through a particular pagan subcommunity, which they’ve just learned doesn’t know everything and isn’t right about everything. Or I see someone making an argument that can only be formulated in total ignorance of the development of feminist theory and the feminist movement since 1975. (I mean, not everyone knows someone who can explain the perspective from which Trump is more appealing than Sanders to certain people in economic distress, but surely most pagans know people who aren’t just like them in some way? Who have other interests?)

I wrote about this a little back on PA, mostly about reading broadly in theology, but my theological work depends on me knowing how religion works as a category. And I stick to theologians I like, theology bloggers I like, that echo chamber, but I’m still following that breadth. My reading at Gods and Radicals is informed by the fact that I follow Steven Brust’s blog, and occasionally he posts about Marxist theory. My theologies of kingship, community, and perspective on being foreign are heavily informed by my time in the trenches on the fringe of the feminist blogwars about sex work, trans experience, and kink. I have more of a life than is encompassed by a reductionist perspective on religion, in which only the very narrow palette of “who is like me” is allowed to inform my thinking.

I see people fretting about finding a co-religionist to date or marry – people who are going well beyond “someone who accepts that I’m pagan” and into “my specific denomination of my specific pagan religion” and I find myself worrying, because that’s deep into the echo chamber. (I used to joke the closest I’d ever come to dating a co-religionist was a Methodist. We agreed on a lot of things.) This turning inwards isn’t healthy, this sense that only the ones who are most like us are legitimate to interact with.

If we look to the example of ancient religion, in many places we see diversity – not just polytheistic diversity, but different cults of individual gods. Greek philosophical schools argued about underlying theologies and right behavior. Empires imported and exported theologies. People swapped ideas with their neighbors and trade partners. Some practices thrived, some struggled.

Monocultures die in plagues. Ideological purity throttles itself. I’m watching it happen in the evangelical Christian community, and I’m watching it happen in pagan discourse. It’s the same thing.

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