Honor: “I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means”

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Sage:

An excellent look at how “honor” can too easily become a method of reinforcing privilege and oppression within Pagan communities.

Originally posted on GODS & RADICALS:

johannnes-flintoe-egill-skallagrc3admsson-engaging-in-holmgang-with-berg-c3b6nundr Johannnes Flintoe – Egill Skallagrímsson engaging in holmgang with Berg-Önundr

 

By Christopher Scott Thompson

The topic of “honor” is of interest to some heathens and pagans, especially those who see themselves as being on a “warrior path.” According to the “Heathen Handbook” () of the Wodens Folk Kindred:

Honor is the foundation of heathen society. Honor is a person’s measure of their virtue and worth… A person’s honor comes from within…

This reminds me of a scene from the movie Rob Roy, in which the title character (a Highland warrior of the 18th century) tells his boys that honor is “a gift you give yourself,” and that no one can take it away from you.

Unfortunately, this is not a historically accurate understanding of honor, either in the Gaelic society portrayed in the movie or in ancient Norse society. However, it’s no accident that the Wodens…

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Language, transphobia and hurting others (even if unintentionally)

Sage:

From a good friend of mine. We have a long way to go. I too am tired – tired of excusing transphobia and queerphobia that isn’t “supposed” to hurt me, tired of trying to return my friend’s trans allyship with disability allyship of my own and realizing how far down the rabbit hole we all are when it comes to not even a fair and just society, but fair and just countercultural niches who actually give a damn about those in the margins. I am tired of justifying my right to exist. I am tired of respectability politics and not rocking the boat. I’m tired!

Originally posted on Treasure in Barren Places:

pagbah

A podcast I admire has engaged in language that has hurt some of its trans listeners. Language that the producers could have edited, but chose not to.

At the same time, I’ve discovered that a polytheist group I used to think very highly of has been expressing violently transphobic sentiments about camps/conferences and women-only spaces. (I’m not linking to the places where, as I haven’t talked to members of this group since it happened so I don’t want to highlight them without right of reply – but the evidence is out there for everyone to see anyway.)

You’ll probably remember the trans-phobic incidents that took place at Pantheacon a few years ago.

All these things are connected, even though the latter two are obviously much more serious than the first. Language hurts, excludes and marginalizes, and it can create environments where certain types of behaviour become considered acceptable or unacceptable.

The…

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Epiphany Day 2015

Happy Epiphany Day! May all your creative endeavors blossom and may you not spontaneously combust.

Epiphany is an Otherfaith spirit overseeing learning, creativity, and luck. She was originally a Book Keeper – a type of spirit who lives in the great Library of the West – and in an attempt to find the one single subject she would care for in her life, she… accidentally tapped into the full connected knowledge of the Library, caught fire, and transformed into the spirit Epiphany we know and love today.

As you do.

My life is blossoming right now, strange as it is. I’ve started seeing a chiropractor for my ongoing back pain, and that seems to be working. I’m finally cleaning out closets and drawers that have been jammed packed for years, tossing out or donating lots of things that just need to go. I’m letting go of old momentos from Bryn Mawr that I held onto not because they made me happy, but because the people who gave them to me loved me and I didn’t want to somehow deny their love by acknowledging the fact these gifts were hurting me. I have plants growing happily on my old altar space by the window – I’ll need to repot the bean seedlings later today. I’m applying to new jobs, in my last calendar year of graduate school, and generally… being alive. It’s great!

This is an important time of year for me because the Spring Equinox is my anniversary as a Pagan. In 2007, little tiny Sage did their first awkward Pagan ritual in secret. Eight years as a Pagan and I barely recognize that teenager lighting candles and sending out a message to Whoever might be listening.

Personhood and Deities

Original image by Amy West. https://www.flickr.com/photos/amy_elizabeth_west/3876549126
Original image by Amy West. https://www.flickr.com/photos/amy_elizabeth_west/3876549126

Alternative title: What I’m blogging about for the Otherfaith this week that has me both confused and fascinated in turn.

I’ve really become interested lately in this notion of personhood. What is it that makes a person? Who decides, and by what standards? And what implications does that have on those of us with religions or philosophies that respect personhood?

As an avid reader of sci-fi and fantasy, I’ve long been exposed to the notion of there being people who aren’t the same species as I am. Robots, androids and AI programs; elves, dwarves, and qunari; turians, Vulcans, and Wookiees; gods, land spirits, tutelary ancestral spirits, and fairies. I know that Brighid is a person, like me, but someone who experiences a different kind of personhood than my own. I know that not all humans have access to the same rights and recognitions of personhood due to systematic oppression of race, gender, class, ability, and other axes of vulnerability. I also know that there are a great number of animals – especially whales, the great apes, corvids, and elephants – who many argue are people, and thus deserving the rights and protections that human people already (theoretically, ideally) possess. Fetuses and corporations are at times allotted this category of personhood as well – in America, at least.

Right now I have more questions than I have answers. I’m looking at the Wikipedia articles on personhood and transhumanism, though I have the feeling I can barely scratch the surface for the essay I want to write for the Otherfaith. I could easily write an entire series, or even create a brand new blog, just to tackle the ramifications of personhood in Pagan religion(s).

There are important ramifications of approaching the gods, local land spirits or fairies, and animals, plants, and geological features as people we can be in relationships with. And for the Otherfaith, with its pro-technology stance and its discouraging of seeing humans, nature, and technology as somehow being separate from each other, that personhood would extend to all things – cars, cities, urban parks, computers, trash heaps. We are in relationship with all things whether we acknowledge this or not.

So is that my “answer” to personhood? That a person is anyone or anything we can have a relationship with? It does let me avoid defining personhood in terms of sapience or sentience, which.. may or may not be a good thing.

It also occurs to me that this is one of the Serious Questions of Philosophy that humans have been grappling with for ages and I’ve only started to untangle my own assumptions about it.

Grieving for objects in Japan

Sage:

I’ve been thinking about this through the Otherfaith, which does encourage the adoption of an animistic worldview and a respect for technology in general. If we grieve for the objects we lose and value the relationships we have with them, then, as this post suggests, can we learn to move past our hyper-disposable world where things are just things?

Originally posted on Trellia's Mirror Book:

aibo3 Funeral at Kofuku-ji for AIBOs (Courtesy Independent)

Various news sources have been reporting on the funerals being held for AIBO robot dogs in Japan. Since Sony stopped repairing and making spare parts for AIBOs, the dogs have been slowly “dying out.” In response to this, Buddhist priests have been holding funeral services for them.

This may seem pretty strange to anyone outside of Japan – indeed, a lot of Japanese people find it rather odd as well. Some may even find it rather disturbing; that somehow, in treating an artificial human creation as a living thing, we have lost touch with reality and are forgetting to appreciate what makes living things truly special.

But treating certain man-made creations with the same respect as natural objects is nothing new at all in Japan. There’s a whole article on funeral rites for inanimate objects here. Objects that may be disposed of…

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