Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan's Tsunami: Gods and Giants, Old and New

For the last week or so, a lot of the news has been on the earthquakes and tsunami that hit Japan. Footage of entire villages and even cities that were washed out to sea have plastered tv screens. People ask how it happened, and others have answered, with the belief that it was plate tectonics, or the wrath of god, or any number of things.

Over on patheos, there's an article talking about why bad things happen to good people/pagan/etc. After all, if sacrifices and prayers are given, why would the gods and goddesses bring destruction? Why such death and destruction when we have done nothing to provoke?

Some reply that the gods are distant and do not care about us humans. I cannot speak for everyone, but in the Norse path, our gods do care deeply for us, though they do become angry with the children of Midgard at times. Yet, we must remember that our gods and goddesses are not like the Abrahamic god. They are not all powerful and do not control everything that happens. There are other forces out there.

Two of these forces are the Norse Giants and the Greek Titans. Primal, elemental, chaotic forces that exist often at odds with those of Asgard and Olympus. The avalanche, the earthquake, the tsunami, the hurricane, the floods, are they the work of Gods, Giants, Titans, or other spirits? Do they come the interactions of these forces when they come together?

Was the Japanese tsunami the work of an angry kami? A youkai? Was the work of the ash cloud from tiny Iceland that shut down air traffic over the US, Canada, and Europe the work of an angry God or Goddess, a slumbering giant roused for some reason, or an act of protection given. Planes have been used as weapons before, yet they could not fly then, perhaps someone was watching out for somebody, somewhere.

The simple fact is that we don't have the answers to these questions, and those that do are not likely to be believed. It is no secret that the earth has certainly started acting up more and in weirder ways.Perhaps the tsunami was the angry act of YHVH striking back at a world that is turning away from him and his power, as the Christians say. Perhaps the Green people are right and the planet is angry with us for squandering what we have taken. Perhaps with the rise of Paganism and Heathenism, the old gods, goddesses, giants, and other spirits are waking up and we are now seeing them walk the earth again after being suppressed for the last fifteen hundred years. Perhaps under the Christ, YHVH, Allah the world was tamed and enslaved to man, and now that the old ways are coming back, breaking free even as most of the world turn secular and atheist, those natural forces are stretching their limbs and moving again.

Perhaps we are seeing a return to the days when a man or woman's success was wrought by the sweat of their brow, the strength of their back, and the will of their heart. Perhaps, like Barbosa, we have freed Calypso and the other forces of primal past, and shall see a return to olden days, fair and terrible.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Matter of Rights and Religions.

Okay, I'm gonna throw my helm into this ring about Dianic vs Transgender

First of, I don't know Dianic anything. I'm an Asatruar and an Alchemist, and I'm happy to stay in my little sandbox most of the time. Or mead hall, as the case may be. It's what calls to me, and what fits me.

I wasn't there when it happened. Like most of us, I've learned about it second and third hand. Mostly what I've gleaned is that the Dianic path likes to hold their rituals for natural born women, and wouldn't let trans-gender women join in. Trans-women got unhappy about this and felled the ban was prejudiced and discriminatory. What followed has got to be one of the larger blow ups in the Pagan community that I've seen. Even bigger than when you get into the Christianity and Islam battles that occasionally pop up in our Pagan realms.

As it stands, most people seem to be siding on the Dianics are sexist side of the debate. This is probably due to both how it has been portrayed in our Pagan media, as well as the words of Z. who I believe is a Dianic elder. Her words should be easy to find, and are apparently rather sexist/discriminatory. I've read them, or at least part of them, but sense I'm not transgendered and don't know a lot of transgendered people, I'll leave it up to others to decide just how bad her words are.

On the flip side, though, is the fact that very few are coming to the defense of the Dianics. About the only one I've seen on Patheos and The Wild Hunt is Nestis, who I think has done a pretty good job of defending that path. I don't know if everyone agrees though, since again it seems to be hitting a lot on the Dianics are bad from most of the commentators.

I don't know that I really have a place to talk about this issue. To be honest, I probably don't. For me, I'm going to try and take a somewhat neutral stance. This whole debate strikes me at it's core as an issue of rights. Freedom of Religion vs Civil Rights. Do the Dianics have the right to practice their religion as they see fit, regardless of if it's discriminatory, or do the trans-women have the right to join any religious group they please regardless of that group's views on gender and sexuality.

To be honest, I don't know. I've been struggling for years to answer the question of who has the right to dictate for others, unless of course people have voluntarily give that person or group the right to dictate. I know that I don't have the right to dictate what the Dianics teach or practice. I don't think anyone else has that right either. Then again, I don't think I have the right to tell the trans-women they don't have the right to join either. The Dianics might though, since it's their religion. Then again, they might not. But I know I don't have the right to tell them if they can or can't.

I think that before we start jumping up and down and screaming about how terrible the Dianics are for not letting the trans-women join in, we take a step back and consider all sides and the rights of everyone involved. The last thing any of us Pagan and Heathens want is the knowledge that we could be forced to change our beliefs, traditions, and practices, simply because the Majority feel we're being "offensive." We all came to these paths because they didn't dictate what we had to do. Let's keep it that way, and think long and hard before we start down a path that could lead towards such a thing happening.