“You have been chewing on this for more than four weeks now. Just do Me a favour: spit it out already!”
— Loki, in my mind (paraphrased)
This is one of those posts that I find hard to write; it is also, fortunately or not, necessary that I write it. It became so at the latest when Loki started rolling His eyes at my antics. I’m writing this in critical response to Del’s post “We can learn a lot from things that annoy us, or what I figured out about the proliferation of Loki’s wives online“. It shoud be said, however, that Del’s is not the only post that prompted me in this. In fact, this should be seen as a collective response to a series of highly problematic posts by experienced spirit workers lately, and I am only responding to Del’s specifically, because it coincides rather well, and ironically, with the main point I wish to make, but I’ll return to that later.
For now, why do I find those posts above problematic? If they had been just plain nonsense, it would be easy to disregard them and move on. The problem is not that the posts themselves make no valid points, quite to the contrary: the problem paradoxically lies in the fact that they do contribute in a positive way to the respective situations they address, on the objective level. Those objectives are the “proliferation of Loki’s wives” in Del’s case, and the apparent need for “external validation” of one’s mystic experience in Galina Krasskova’s and Sannion’s. All the posts I linked make very good points on their respective topics.
What unites them is this: all of them are vocally critical of recent developments in online communities: the greater pagan community, the tumblr pagan community specifically, or, as the case may be, the Lokean community.
What makes them problematic is the effect that they have on the level above pure objective—the meta or structural level. What all the above posts fail to address is the underlying structural problem in all those online communities. In fact, all they do on a structural level is exacerbate the existing problem, which is:
The obvious rift that runs through the very heart of the community (the communities).
The communities are torn. There are those who have decades of experience as spirit workers on their backs, or work as scholars, sometimes both. And on the other side, there are those who are new to all the world of mystic experience, of communion with Deities, and of loving Them and devoting themselves to their Gods and Goddesses (but let’s face it: the problem is centered around Lokeans, and as a Lokean I am speaking, and will therefore drop the plural in communities, and the references to other Deities).
This bifurcation of the landscape, metaphorically speaking, is a fact that few in their right minds will argue. And what Del’s, Galina’s and Sannion’s posts do, as a side-effect maybe (although I am not so sure of that generally speaking), is to not only perpetuate that rift, but to widen it unnecessarily to boot.
Because what they each fail to see is that there are those of us who are “newbie Lokeans” on the one hand, and yet offer down-to earth perspectives, who know exactly how tenuous and dicey the whole freaky “godphone” business is, who are fighting tooth and nails not to be put into a mental drawer, never to be seen again. We do exist, and we are out here without a network to speak of, but wanting, and possibly needing to be heard.
So why in response to Del’s post, specifically? Because Del demands of those with little experience (yet) to put their perspective as newbies out there, to blog about how the godphone is not working (of course, on the objective level one might point out that there is an underlying assumption in that, which is that the godphone of others, i.e., newbies, is defunct by default). To blog about struggles and the little, baby steps that are made down our individual spiritual paths. Oh, and let’s not forget about the setbacks.
The irony in this part of his post is: a couple of weeks back, I blogged about exactly the same topic: flaky godphones, communities breaking apart over a sudden influx of channelling services, confirmation bias, even flat-out invention of fiction running rampant, etc. I explicitly pointed out the group dynamics that leads to new people seeking other newbies’ advice, and that ultimately motivates them to offer theirs to others. True, I did so without being deliberately antagonistic, and hence, perhaps, less interesting to read, but… the thing is, Del for one, did read and posted a long and thought-provoking comment on it, too (thank you again!).
So, by demanding we do what he knew I had already done a couple of weeks ago (and I am damn sure I am not the only one, either!), Del’s post implicitly denies the existence of such middle ground. It paints the community as one of “the elders and wise and experienced ones” on one side of the line, and “the fluffy, over-excited, overly excitable newbies” on the other, with no middle ground whatsoever. And this is a system where boundaries are not permeable. Because I cannot navigate this boundary if I do not even exist, and this non-existence is implied by the many, many rants of elders who cast all of us newbies in the role of immature youngsters in one grand swoop.
In Del’s defence (against myself, oh dear), I have to add: he’s not extremely condescending about it. Del writes about the community critically—and as I pointed out before, realistically and with good cause, on an objective level—without stooping to mockingly mimicking what he imagines newbies’ thoughts to be, or even to name-calling. It’s unnecessary: everybody knows that there are problems in the community, and one does not need to avail oneself of ad-hominem attacks.
I am writing this knowing full well what kind of position I am putting myself in. The point is, we exist. There are those in the community who’re not blind or addicted to drama, who are taking very good care of themselves with respect to interacting with Deity, and who can and are willing to offer their perspective to those close to them in therms of “newness”. But, we also have our own minds, we post in places such as tumblr, and we will not spend our online time sucking up and paying lip service to those with more experience in hopes of getting heard.
I have never tried to “keep up”, as Del said, with “the Raven Kalderas and Elizabeth Vongvisiths of the world”. I see no reason why I would even try to do that, in either case, albeit for different reasons.
I will never be anyone’s mouthpiece, and if it loses me friends, then so be it. But it must be said that I would much rather see less exclusion, less rigid boundaries; I would wish that I, and those in similar situations to mine, will be heard. We have perspective to contribute, as was ultimately implicitly proven by the fact that my earlier post contained exactly the perspective that Del demanded to be put out there.
It already is.