Continuous Cultures are important, but so are Revivalist Movements

Recently there have been a series of posts on Gangleri’s Grove that on first glance would seem to be a defense of an organization that is both racist and homo/transpobic. I will emphasize before you click over there in outrage to take a closer look at both what I am saying and what Galina Krassikova is saying. The reason for this is that when you do a closer analysis that you see that the support is emphatically NOT in support for the racist group, but rather a statement that those of us who are devotional polytheists working on REVIVING the “ethnic” religions of Europe are not “less true/accurate” than people (like the peoples of India and Japan) who are from “continuous” religious background.

My own initial reaction was one of saying that the statements by the racist organization about sticking with racial and “traditional” gender roles were to be allowed, but spoken against because they flew in the face of the progress we have made in civil rights through decades of struggle that people of color, women, and LGBT individuals have been engaged in.

My view at the time, and even now, is the group’s statements, because as a devotional polytheist those statements fly in the face of something I have been saying for years — that the Theoi have agency beyond the agency we as mortals have — and because of this are impious and hubristic in the sense that they are trying to limit the ability the Theoi have to call whomever they please.

In this, while bringing up a valid point, I missed the mark of what Galina had actually been focusing on — because although she touches on freedom of people to associate, and does not deny them the right to do so. What she is speaking out on is that people see “continuous cultures” as being innately better than revivalist religious movements. And I agree with Galina that revivalist religions are worthy of the same regard that “continuous cultures” are. Although the continuous cultures were not “interrupted” by the monotheistic religions of Christianity and Islam, that does not mean that the revivalists — especially those with the rich amount of texts that were preserved despite the monotheistic religions best efforts, such as the revivals of the Norse and Greek/Roman faiths, are any less important.

Both the continuous culture and the revival are preserving the polytheistic traditions and the reverence for the Gods of the various faiths and the richness that comes with the traditions involved. It is sad in my estimation, both that the faiths are being devalued by the idea that some are “better than” others and that some people use them to devalue other human beings. We cannot allow either of those ideas to take root in our various missions to bring more awareness of our polytheistic faiths to the the wider public. Neither is healthy for us when we who are revivalists should be building bridges to those people who have continuous cultural polytheism.

Yes, a certain degree of tribalism will exist in devotional polytheistic religions. This is not necessarily a bad thing if it reminds us that even the continuous polytheistic cultures still have a degree of tribalism within them because they are ethnic religions. We still understand the Gods will sometimes call to people from outside the “core” ethnic groups and that is because they transcend those limits.

Those who make the artificial division between the revivalists and the continuous cultures and say that the revivalists  are lesser are missing the point of why they should not be doing so. The reason that the revivalists have a “broken” lineage is the same reason that the continuous cultures are embattled. It is because the polytheistic religions tend to not care if someone worships different Gods than they do — as long as they are respectful — and the monotheistic religions have been aggressively attacking that tolerance with a combination of conquest and forced/coerced conversions.

It is the innate tolerance of the polytheistic religions that helps those religions to be vital and resistant to being a cause of wars — although polytheists have not been immune to being warlike over the millenia of human civilization. It is my personal opinion that humanity would have been farther along scientifically if we had not had the monotheistic religions literally destroying scientific texts that did not conform to their religious views (which is a subject for another post entirely) and the artificial distinctions between the various polytheistic faiths is counter to helping humanity grow to be truly humane.

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