The Judgement of Paris

it would have
mattered little
to Troy
had Paris chosen
or Hera
instead of

Hera would have made him
king of Europe and Asia

how could that have come about
without war?

Athena would have given him
wisdom and skill in war

how could he have used that
without war?

it would have
mattered little
to Troy

it would have
mattered much
to Helen

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The Huntress

Sometimes She walks,
the forest’s queen,
between the trees and stones and brooks.
Sometimes She runs,
all forests’ queen,
between the trees and stones and brooks.
When She walks,
sometimes beside
someone who reads from their prayer books
Her titles, stories, name,
sometimes She blesses
this someone
who knows to speak Her name
in the forest that She rules.
But patience She has not for fools,
nor those who’d cut Her forest down
to make room for homes or farms
or wood for furniture.
To such men She bares Her arms,
She bears Her arms,
and lets them bear the consequence.

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to change my name

the quality of August light
filtered through wavering leaves
too hot to touch this light

stay inside
where it’s comfortable

I have fainted from heat before
my parents were there to help

I waver
do I take this step

what happens when I faint again

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to change my name by Alex Conall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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the spiders think
my patio
their patio

I want to be rid of them
they scare me

but I remember that poem
the one where the poet kills a spider
and thinks it should not be allowed
to kill something
because of fear

that poet says it better

I would be content if
they simply lived their spider lives
away from me

I could sweep them away
out the door
to weave their webs some other where

but who am I
to chase another living creature
from their home

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I don’t want to stop short of the mark

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I need an estimated $2100 by the beginning of April in order to get my diploma in the mail. I want to walk at graduation mid-June; that will take an additional estimated $2000. I plan to apply after graduation for another program of study; it has no tuition, but required texts and strongly recommended references will total an estimated $400 and additional recommended texts an estimated $2000.

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Thank you!

Yeah, Yeah. XKCD 386.

A few points for John Halstead concerning his Jul 19 piece at Gods & Radicals.

(1) “your choice of gods”—dude. Dude. You have fundamentally misunderstood the whole principle here. We, generally speaking and at this point in our collective revival and reconstruction of our ancient traditions, did not choose Them. They chose us.

Which Halstead does acknowledge that possibility, yes, but in a way that dismissively suggests we’re all conversing with shadow puppets in our heads. Nota bene, Halstead: the principle of discernment—which includes, among other things, making sure that when one thinks one is conversing with a Power, one is not actually conversing with a shadow puppet in one’s head—is Polytheism 102. In practice it’s not necessarily that easy to do, but it is still one of the basic principles for good reason. Maybe act like we might know something of what we’re doing here? (Oh wait. See point 2.)

(2) So someone whose Patheos bio (he’s the Allergic Pagan) flat out says he’s an atheist (that is, definitionally not a polytheist) thinks he can lecture polytheists on how to do polytheism? Dude: shut up.

(3) “What are you praying for? Are you asking for help to make the world a more just and peaceful place? Or are you only praying for more divine favors for yourself, to keep what you have, and get more for yourself?”—dude. Dude. You have fundamentally misunderstood the whole principle here. “Gimme” is not the only thing prayer is for!

Author Anne Lamott (she’s Christian, but bear with me) succinctly defines the three types of prayer as “Help”, “Thanks”, and “Wow”. (Halstead’s examples both fall firmly into “Help”.) Go on, Halstead. Tell me a “Wow” prayer—a prayer arising from awe at for instance a stunning sunset, or a particularly clear dark night sky, or a double rainbow—is an inherently political act due to its inherent power dynamics. Tell me that, I dare you.

(4) So someone who in this article flat out says he’s white, heterocis, male, and abled (that is, definitionally awash in privilege) thinks he can lecture a whole bunch of people who aren’t all of the above on the power dynamics that form the basis of privilege? Dude, to paraphrase a great many disabled women, queer and trans women, and women of color to people like you for ages beyond count: shut up.

(5) Queerness is an identity. Homophobia is an ID card. There is a difference between telling Harry Homophobe to leave his homophobia at the temple door and telling Quinn Queer to leave her queerness at the temple door. Harry, if told that thing, can always pick his homophobia up again when he leaves, if he feels the need. Quinn, if told that thing, can’t put her queerness down before she enters, and thus can’t enter at all. And any group that fails to be actively anti-asshole tends to become overpowered by assholes in short order: a group that doesn’t have an explicit policy of welcoming Quinn at the expense—if necessary—of Harry is one that will necessarily exclude Quinn in service of more comfortingly welcoming Harry.

You want to call that political either way? Fine. “The personal is political” and all that. I’d call it the choice between not being assholes and being assholes. And if nothing else—if the prospect of avoiding assholeness is not in itself persuasive—well, my religious group being assholes is bad press for my religious group and therefore unlikely to increase our dues-paying membership.

(6) You think Jesus is above politics? You can seriously look at the Christian Right in the United States and believe for one second Jesus is above politics?

Hell, you can seriously look at the Christian Foundational Writings attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and believe for one second Jesus is above politics?

(Mind you, the Christian Right doesn’t seem to have read a whole lot of those Christian Foundational Writings. But that’s a different discussion.)

But it’s not about the Gods being above politics at all, is it? It’s about Them being before politics. Do try not to lose sight of that distinction.

(7) “the gods are just as flawed as human beings — they just have more power. Why bow down to power, if it is not paired with virtue?”—dude. Dude. You have fundamentally misunderstood the whole principle here. None of the Gods are the omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent hat trick. But They’re all a lot closer to being each of those things than we are.

Which, you know, Halstead, you might have figured out for yourself, if you ever bothered to read polytheist writings from the perspective of “there’s a possibility these people know what they’re talking about when it comes to the Gods”.

Oh, and a note for Galina Krasskova? “Privilege” is a social-justice technical term, which Halstead uses in the technical sense, to describe a social benefit possessed by members of certain groups on the basis of their membership(s) in those groups—and I know you know that polytheist religions are not among those groups. Maybe don’t actively conflate that technical sense of “privilege” with the colloquial sense of good fortune or blessing?

All That Is Necessary For Evil

Hanae tends her garden’s earth,
and Kiran tends their flame.
Keala tends the ocean wide,
and Niamh tends the Name.
Mbali tends the flowing air
that we breathe all the same.
Nizhoni’s she who leads them,
but says these Six can’t claim
to be the world’s saviors—
“For shame,” she says, “for shame.

Continue reading “All That Is Necessary For Evil”

Prayers for Pulse Nightclub

May Hestia of the hearth grant that the queer community of Orlando find a new safe space swiftly, for surely Pulse Nightclub was more home to many of its regulars than were the places they lived.

May Zeus of freedom, Zeus of friendship, grant that those who look on queer people with hate either for our being or our doing realize that we are no less than they.

May Athena who girds with armor, Athena who protects, keep safe from harm the queer communities of Orlando and the world, especially the people of color among our number, who are always hardest hit by violence against our communities.

May Hera who watches over women guard especially well trans women, who are probably the most hated of all queer people, and the least likely to be granted the respect of using their true names in death. May She remember the true names of any trans women who may have died at Pulse Nightclub, whose deaths must have been announced under their deadnames and the assumption that these women were men.

May Apollon the healer, Apollon the averter of harm, bring swift recovery to the surviving injured of Pulse Nightclub. May He grant that the Orlando blood banks remain filled to capacity for at least as long as these injured are in need, and that those who donated blood for the first time in the wake of this massacre become regular donors, because the need for blood donations sometimes ebbs but it never ends.

May Artemis the light-bringer, Artemis the savior, grant some light at the end of this tunnel. May She protect especially queer Muslims, who are facing backlash from much of the queer community because the murderer was nominally Muslim, and who always face hatred from much of the Muslim community because those Muslims’ religion calls them to do so. May She also protect especially queer Latinx people, particularly those of Puerto Rican origin, for fully half the dead of Pulse Nightclub were Puerto Rican.

May Hermes the messenger grant that our words of mourning and our calls for justice be heard and repeated and never twisted or misattributed. May He guard especially those who work the phones at Trans Lifeline, The Trevor Project, and similar hotlines meant to bring comfort and aid to queer people in need, that these phone operators may stay compassionate and helpful in the face of the pain they are hearing from every caller.

May Demeter the great mother be kind to the queer people of Orlando and the world, especially those among the injured of Pulse Nightclub who had to come out to their parents from a hospital bed. May She grant that all our parents find that their love for their queer children melts away any hate and fear they may have of queer people.

May Hephaistos the resourceful grant that assault rifles such as that used to slaughter the people of Pulse Nightclub never again be used for mass murder.

May Poseidon who shakes the earth grant that the foundation of all hate of and fear of and discrimination against queer people be shaken so greatly that that edifice can no longer stand.

May Dionysos who is mad and protector of the mad protect now the mentally ill, both from our own illnesses made worse by the news from Orlando and from the blatantly false accusation that it is we who pose the greatest danger to society.

May Ares the strong bring strength to the queer communities of Orlando and the world. We are all badly shaken, and many of us are having difficulty fulfilling our obligations, even when those obligations are narrowed to that of taking care of ourselves and those who depend on us. May He grant that this blow does not knock any of us down so hard we cannot get up again.

May Aphrodite the ally in love grant joy in the lives we still have to the queer communities of Orlando and the world. May She protect especially those who are coming out of the closet this week in solidarity, that they do not come to harm from the people whose opinions have kept them hiding their queerness until now.

May the Mousai inspire art in honor and memory of the dead of Pulse Nightclub. May Kleio and Melpomene grant that this nightmare be recorded, that it never be repeated. May Terpsikhore grant that the queer community of Orlando dance again. May Euterpe grant that they sing again. May Thaleia grant that they laugh again. May Erato grant that they speak of love again. May Mnemosyne, mother of the Mousai, grant that we never forget.

May Iris the storm-footed wave the rainbow flag with pride.

May Hades receive the dead of Pulse Nightclub with kindness.

May Persephone exact justice upon their murderer.

May Hestia of the many blessings grant that Pulse Nightclub be rebuilt swiftly, that it may again be a home away from home for the queer community of Orlando.

Pulse, or, Self-Care After Tragedy

(cn: the Pulse Nightclub massacre)

What right do I have to a filling meal
when fifty in Orlando
will never eat again?
What right do I have to a peaceful sleep
when fifty in Orlando
will never dream again?
What right do I have to a lively night
when fifty in Orlando
will never love again?

Continue reading “Pulse, or, Self-Care After Tragedy”

“D” Words

discipline is
doing what needs must
whether or not
one wants to
or enjoys it

duty is
fulfilling one’s obligations
whether or not
one wants to
or enjoys it

depression is
doing essentially nothing
whether or not
one wants to
or enjoys it

dysfunction is
failing to do the thing one intends to
whether or not
one wants to
or needs to
or is obliged to
or enjoys it

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