Lo, I did battle the might Halstead, I faced the dread Krasskova, and now I dare challenge the most terrifying monster of all, The Dawson.
Well, okay, this hasn’t been nearly that dramatic. Halstead of course is always a bit of a twerp you wanna punch in the face for his holierthanthou attitude, but meh. Krasskova put a lot of honest pain in her article, but pain too often blinds. Now we’re coming to look at Dawson’s article in this whole appropriation thing. Defacing Sacred Images for Fun and Profit
There has been a matter on my mind for a long time; a grievance that has long needed addressing and it’s been one that to my knowledge no one has touched. Before I get to that, I would like to talk about a holy image, displayed above, which holds many layers of meaning, many depths, many mysteries and Mysteries. Words do not wrap well around the splendors in this image and it is an image that crosses at least two pantheons.
Gotta say, I like the purple prose here. I love me some good purple prose. Very poetic. That being said, one should never hold on to grievances if one can let them go. Trust me, I live with this stuff. Better to kill the reason and get it over with, or let it go. Also, I’m just leaving the image in question on her blog. That being said, it’s the unaltered version of the banner Halstead uses.
She spends about four paragraphs describing the image in question that I’m going to skip over because, well, there’s not really any discussion going on. There’s not even anything to snark at, so yeah, carry on my wayward son. You should read it though, because Dawson does have a way with words.
This is just a small, small exploration of these many symbols and their meanings that this image encompasses—it is literally impossible to explain all of the depths of meaning, interpretations, and mysteries in this image. It is a holy image representing the careful balance of powerful forces held in check, one to the other, both ever-present, ever-necessary, in this world simultaneously. It is an image which is deeply sacred and meaningful, and I hold it in reverence even as the ones who created it viewed it in reverence as something sacred and meaningful. It is an image that if altered suffers a loss of meaning, of depth, of symbolism. If there is stuff added or changed, then the message is more difficult to read and is rendered less meaningful. It is like a sacred sigil calling forth the careful razor’s-edge balance of these beings and their mastery of these potent forces which cause things to function within parameters most beneficial for humanity. Sigils, for those who practice magic, do not function the same when they are altered. An alteration to this image is also like changing several letters in a word: it is a misspelling which causes a misreading and therefore a miscommunication. This holy image also does not function the same when it is altered and it would not carry the same message or hold the same space.
Here she’s saying much of what I’ve said in my posts. Altering the rituals and symbols can rob them of their meaning, and that is a damaging thing.
If someone wants to appear to other people as having respect for Christianity, that person will not typically make fun of communion in front of a Christian who is taking communion. If someone wants to make good with their Muslim neighbors, that person will not burn a copy of the Quran in the yard. Making lewd gestures at a Shinto shrine is also not the best way to start a dignified dialogue. So, when a person claims that he is being respectful about other religions and respectful about the deities, and respectful of the people who worship these deities, that claim is unsubstantiated when there is a defaced holy image serving as a banner on his blog.
I would take issue with the first one. Christians seem to do little more than fight and make fun of other Christians’ rituals. Something about “True Christianity” and all that jazz. I grew up with these people as a kid and trust me, they reproduce faster than asexual organisms this way. The Mitosis is a fascinating process to watch though.
Of course, ultimately, this is about Halstead, or at least those like him. And wow, can I feel the anger coming off that last sentience. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Halstead was over exaggerating for the sake of making himself look good, but damn. The Rage.
In the adulterated image I am speaking of, Qudshu is digitally modified such as to be holding cutesy daffodils or yellow flowers of some sort. Worse than that, Rashap’s spear, the very spear he uses to safeguard this balance, these forces of life and death, is edited out and a box of disposable tissues is added in. The hand with which Qudshu would have held the transformative serpent is now reaching for the box of Kleenex which is destined to be filled with filth and thrown away in the trash. Daffodils are not the same depth of meaning as lotuses in this Egyptian image, and a Kleenex box instead of Rashap’s spear and Qudshu’s serpent? Wow. That’s not just insulting, it is dangerous. A smart person does not disarm a soldier and expect that soldier to act as guardian with a box of Puffs Plus with Aloe. A compassionate, decent person does not expect a soldier, a veteran of many wars, to wait on him.
You know, I did kinda wonder what the things in Halstead’s banner were. He’s…not the best digital artist and his banner is kinda small. I figured there were flowers, I had no idea what the box is. At this point, now I’m probably going to loop back to Halstead’s article explaining why he finds such things sacred.
I mean, I would know why I would find a box of Puffs Plus sacred, I have really, really bad allergies. I suspect Halstead’s reason is different though. I’m sure it’s got something to do with the earth crying over what humanity has done to it, or something, idk. But do not knock the Puffs Plus with Aloe. After you’ve been sneezing constantly for four hours, those are the only things that keep your nose from bleeding cause you rubbed it raw.
I might actually have to nominate them as sacred to Hel, actually. They are of great boon to the ill. And where as Dawson may regard them as filthy things to throw away in the trash, as one of those who worships Sickness and Death, I can’t help but feel a little offended that the things of my goddess’s domain are so disparaged.*
Now, clearly, this image is very sacred to Dawson, she spent four paragraphs describing all the symbolism in it. Clearly, the lotus flowers are very important in Egyptian mythology (and Eastern, and even my own. My personal symbol is a black lotus flower). And of course one should not make light of spears which guard the boundaries of life and death or disrespect old soldiers.
But…at the same time…I think Dawson is taking this a little too hard. Okay, sure, lotus flowers and daffodils mean completely different things, and yes, sure Puff’s Plus is not a grand magical spear, but…is it really this insulting? I mean, can the Goddess Qudshu never hold flowers other than lotuses (lotii?) and may her Divine friend never give her tissues?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, Halstead is a completely disrespectful bastard when it comes to theists, but on their own these alterations don’t exactly strike me as completely horrific for a one off thing.
The blogger basically projects himself into the image, positioning himself like Qudshu—a goddess whose name means Holiness—in the scene. In this adulterated image, Min is either handing the-blogger-as-Qudshu flowers, or the-blogger-as-Qudshu is shoving the flowers back towards Min because the flowers make the-blogger-as-Qudshu congested and s/he can’t stand their pollen. Keep in mind that pollen and semen serve the function of procreation, so in this image Qudshu is painted as symbolically rejecting abundance. Furthermore, as Qudshu, the blogger pictures himself as having a god of war and plague aiding him in wiping his nose. The priceless gifts that Qudshu would give are replaced with worthlessness: unwanted flowers in one hand, and paper trash filled with mucus in the other. The image may seem on the surface to be harmless and playful in its adulterated form, but it is not harmless or playful. The original image has been violated, robbed of its meaning.
I have no idea if Halstead has actually projected himself into the image and so now it is blogger-as-Qudshu or if that is Dawson’s own interpretation. Maybe that’s answered in the other Halstead post.
Looking at the image, though, it looks that Qudshu is holding flowers in one hand and getting a tissue in the other. So maybe the God of Plagues has given her flowers, and the God of Death is giving her tissues. This is just me as an outside observer. My areas are Rome and Germania, not Egyptian and Canaan, so different mindset for symbols. I also worship the Goddess of Death, not the Goddess of Life and Fertility.
So while I can see where Dawson is coming from in her analysis, I can also see other ways of looking at it. It’s a static image, and we project what movements are going where. Is Qudshu rejecting abundance? I can’t tell, she’s just holding some flowers to the side and in the direction of a God. Did she receive, is she giving away, is she throwing them as far as she can? I honestly can’t tell.
So what about the God of Plague “wiping her nose?” Well, there is no denying that a box of tissues is being offered for whatever reason. And tissues certainly do fit the iconography of illness. And while on the one hand I might question a box of tissues given to me by a God who spreads sickness, at the same time if Hel were to hand me a box of tissues I would take it.
So let’s say that it is “Blogger as Qudshu” and the God is handing the blogger something as a gift. Is this a bad image? Are the Gods not supposed to give us mortals anything, not even a box of tissues? Seems a bit…odd. Certainly, it is perhaps arrogant to envision oneself in the divine, but in that case I’m really guilty because I believe I have experienced an apotheosis on behalf of Hel and am now among the divine. And even mortals were created by the divine and possess a spark of divinity in them. So…I don’t know.
What I do know is that I play a game called SMITE and if Dawson has an issue with this imagery thing, she probably would hate the entire idea of that game. Because if the imagery of “blogger as god” offends then I can only imagine the offense of Gamer As God killing other Gods.
Since the title of the blog in question alludes to its creator’s allergies, I can only assume that this is meant to poke fun at these circumstances while adding an air of borrowed ancient sophistication, an air of legitimacy, and pseudo-intellectualism to the blog. It is also warping a holy image to participate in the blogger’s self-deprecating joke about his allergies, a self-deprecating joke that looks more like a bid at false modesty to boost a human ego at the expense of the deities themselves.
Honestly…I think Dawson is giving Halstead too much credit. I don’t think Halstead is really capable of that level of theological creativity. What I think happened is Halstead liked the image, did some edits (possibly for self depreciating humor) and posted it. And now he’s trying to use big words and theology so he can argue with Dawson’s big words and theology and I’m sitting here laughing because, well, it’s a picture.
Sure, it’s a picture with a lot of symbolism and it is a picture of the Gods, but lets be honest, what Halstead did here is the equivalent of drawing a mustache on Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Disrespectful, yes, but still kinda hilarious. I mean, let’s be honest here, the imagery of a Goddess of Life and Fertility being allergic to flowers is comedy gold. About the only thing I can think of that might be funnier is Ares dressed as a Buddhist monk.
Or maybe some of those Charle Hebdo cartoons about Mohammad.
Is it a bit of false modesty to boost a human ego at the expense of the Gods? I don’t think Halstead is capable of false modesty, and frankly if it is at the expense of the Gods, they can charge it to his account in this life or the next. I don’t know about Cannanite Gods, but Roman Gods had no trouble repaying humans for slights if they felt it needed.
In addition, the messed-up image probably acts as a mere nod–a nod which is actually the equivalent of the middle finger–to some supposedly-forgotten dusty ancient deities who the blogger may think no one on earth still takes seriously and which, to him, mean nothing more than puppets for his own amusement and mental musings. In messing with this image, he has taken these individual, real, living, viable, thinking, feeling, cognizant beings, and sets to erase them of their strength, depth, agency, and majesty. He pulls them into a pale, shallow, private world of impotent shadows of human thought.
Gods, I can’t believe I’m defending Halstead. What has this world come to. I’m also guessing that Dawson is not a big fan of satire. Or comedy. And yes, Halstead is guilty of all those things, but not because he does this to an image of various Gods. He does this because he’s an atheist, and a bit of a prick.
But at this point, we have two options in our reaction to Halstead. We can take the path Dawson seems to be leaning towards, which is a very much “burn the heretic” and “censor images/thoughts we do not like because we find them offensive.” Or we can take the path I’ve argued all along. Laugh. Brush it off. Let the Gods handle any insult that has been. Censoring speech is not going to help anyone, and you cannot force someone to respect the Gods as Individuals.
With the altering of this image, the deities are treated with less dignity or thoughtfulness than an insect which a person may actually think twice about before swatting. This holy, powerful, ancient image is rendered into a thin watered-down joke about some human’s sniffles. The only thing here laughable is that we’re expected to believe that the person who would do such a thing would ever take our deities and our ways seriously, even when he says he does, and say something important about these things. If comedy and tragedy come together, then the tragedy is in allowing this blogger our time and our good faith, because his works only seek to erase the beings and the things we hold dearest.
When were we ever expected to believe that Halstead took the Gods seriously? I never expected it. Hel, I expect the opposite. The man publically calls himself an Atheist inside the Pagan Religious Framework. If you were expecting an Atheist to respect and worship the Gods, and you got disappointed when he didn’t…I really, really can’t help you. And if you went anywhere near his blog in good faith…well.
But really, are the deities being treated with such disrespect? I mean, sure, there’s a joke about a nature goddess being allergic to nature, but exactly how disrespectful is that? Frankly, I think Dawson is taking her rage at Halstead and projecting it on to the image. Which, honestly, I can’t blame her for. Halstead really is that infuriating a person. The other Gods know I would like to smite him with never ending parking tickets. But really, I have to say on the flip side of this Dawson is headed straight for the same kind of blasphemy law territory that so many fundamentalist Muslims push for.
And that’s not good.
I could go on about how hurtful this is to the deities themselves, to the ancestors, and to these deities’ people from priest to layperson, and to myself. I could go on about how much I cherish my relationships with my deities. I could go on about how meaningful the deities are, how meaningful the deities are to the world general, and how meaningful the deities are to me specifically. I could go on about the depths to which my gods have suffered on behalf of and because of humanity—a terrible, soul-aching, gut-wrenching suffering which I have witnessed. But what’s the use? My words will only be either ignored or twisted and used as verbal ammunition in this war that blogger has against the deities themselves, a war that blogger cannot and will not admit he has started. It is a war he has created out of his own fears and distrust of the deities and his own discomfort at being less powerful and occupying a stratum lower on the hierarchy than the deities.
You know, I’m starting to think that being a Cultus Deorum Germanica, we Germanic and Roman worshipers just have a different relationship with our Gods than the Khem and the Canaan. I mean, we tell stories of Gods tying goats to their balls, of Goddesses fucking dwarves for jewelry, A god who gave away his sword for love (and thus his potency), and the most popular inscribe swear in Rome?
Yeah, it wasn’t “God damn it” or “jesus christ.” If you smashed your thumb with a hammer? Juno’s cunt. Got cut off in traffic? Juno’s cunt. Wife cheated on you, boss denied you a promotion, got sent to the arena? Juno’s cunt, Juno’s cunt, Juno’s cunt.
Hel, the reason Jupiter probably went off for different women all the time was because Juno’s Cunt was always occupied with something else.
Now, is Dawson’s word regarding Halstead in anyway wrong? Not that I can tell. Halstead (though he has denied it) is completely at war with polytheism because it doesn’t follow his theological heirarchy and I do agree he is terrified of the idea of the Gods because it takes away so much of his power. If humans are not at the top of the food chain, they cannot be responsible for all of earths problems and then they cannot fix them. If say climate change is the work and will of the Gods rather than Man, then the illusion of man’s power over this planet is destroyed and he’s faced with the fact that he’s nothing in power compared to beings who are rewriting the planet’s atmosphere and climate and he can do nothing to stop them.
And frankly, I think giving that idea any credit terrifies the shit out of Halstead. And so yeah, maybe he does “mock the gods’ and alter pictures and stuff to deal with that fear. but you know what…I’m kinda okay with that. Humans joke about the things that terrify us. If they didn’t they would never get out of bed, they would never find love, have children, accomplish mighty deeds. Or even small deeds.
So sure, is Halstead’s humor hurtful to Dawson? Yes. Its it harmful or hurtful to the Gods? I doubt it. Just because someone denies your agency or individuality doesn’t mean you don’t have it. SJWs claim that all men are inherently filled with toxic masculinity and the proclivity to rape any woman they come across, but the truth is that any toxins I am filled with have nothing to do with my masculinity and I have yet to find any woman worth the trouble of raping. I’m married to Hel, after all. After a Goddess, mortal women are just kinda…meh. Really don’t see why Jupiter does it. Except maybe that Juno’s cunt is too busy. (HA!) Maybe if I was to go a Viking that might change, but what people generalize or believe doesn’t make it true.
Every time I go over to that blog, I am faced with the very glaring insult to my deities. The blogger in question has bastardized a sacred image, has kept it up there for a long time, and has done it for his own gain. Even if he took it down now, the damage is done. When he doesn’t even bother to treat a sacred image as valuable, he cannot convince me that he has anything of value to say about the deities whom he does not value and whom he has actively devalued in thoughts, in words, in deeds, and in imagery.
Then why do you go over there Dawson? If it’s that bad, why? I mean, yes, you go to Halstead’s blog and you will generally find everything Dawson says is there, but really. I know why I go there, because I can give me a week’s worth of posts, several hours of good laughs, and the chance to post rediciulous memes at Halstead’s expense. And because it makes Hel and Mordgud laugh.
I mean really, he’s the blogging equivalent of one of those street side homeless people wearing signs that scream “THE END IS NIGH!!!!” to us. If Skadi was still hanging around rather than doing what ever it is that she’s off doing, she would probably troll Halstead to death the same way she does every other global warming and climate change person she comes across.
So he drew a box of tissues on a copy of an image of a sacred wall carving. He’s like a scared little kid trying to make the big bad monsters under the bad less scary because he can’t handle the fact that he’s a impotent mortal who can’t accomplish anything no matter how hard he tries. He can’t save the earth, he can’t even change the climate, the closest thing he can do is change the thermostat in his house. The damage is done because of his image, but the truth is there really isn’t any damage except the rage Dawson allows herself to feel.
A few months back on Sarenth’s blog I responded to post of hers involving racism. I called her out on some issues, pointed out a lot of history showing she was wrong, and left it. Then recently, someone replied saying “Fuck you Svartwulf, son of Hela the Whore.”
You know what I did? Nothing. What was there to do? Get insulted that someone had disparaged my adopted mother and wife? What would that solve. Hel is perfectly capable of dealing with such insults herself, and as far as I know, she has. No where in the scale of things was it my place to go after that person. Not as a mortal, not as a faithful, not as a high priest. Maybe as her Husband, but she asked me to let it go. That person was a deeply disturbed individual who had just been faced with things they could not deal with, things that the truth of which threatened to destroy their reality.
And really, that’s what Halstead is doing. He’s reacting to a nightmare for him.
If it is not an “archaic” extremist militant group like Daesh trying to erase the gods of my tradition and my heart, and all of the gods of the lands of the Middle East, with propaganda, machine guns, jackhammers, or explosives, it’s “modern” and “rational” persons in the media or, as in this case, in mainstream Neopagan blogging, desecrating and trying to erase them through subtler, less obvious means. These latter are dirty and insidious means, which generally slip past modern audience’s emotions and critical thinking “radars” when the explosive damage of Daesh is more likely to be noticed and treated with the horror, the anger, and the acknowledgement the deities deserve, the ancestors deserve, and frankly we deserve, too. (I wonder sadly, though: is this notice because the explosions draw the attention of the “modern” West because of the horror done to the gods, or because of the statement of cowboy defiance against the West implicit in these acts?)
Yes, Paganism is under attack from all side. Some are obvious, some are subtle. Some inspire horror in others, some people just brush off. But you know what? That’s okay.
Paganism is an idea. It is a philosophy. It exists to be questioned, the same as any other religion or philosophy does. It is made stronger by these questions and attacks. Paganism has existed since the dawn of man, and as hard as Christianity tried it never got rid of it because the ideas within Paganisms are true, honest, righteous, and good. We need not silence the slings and arrows of our enemies for fear they will succeed. And it is only when we do fear these slings and arrows that they might succeed.
Dawson is trying to protect the Gods and Paganism. This is a good thing. But perhaps it is not the right thing. Those who fear their ideologies cannot take criticism are the ones who try to silence criticism. Why do you think Islamic fundamentalists are so against anyone criticizing Islam? Because they know the instant it can be questioned, is the instant it will be destroyed. I would ask Dawson not to take this same path with Paganism. We of Rome or Germania certainly do not.
And reading Dawson has sadly made me question her faith and dedication more than Halstead’s attacks against her. If she is so afraid of any humor, mockery, or even criticism of her Gods, then how truly does she believe, I wonder. How strong can her faith be when she fears even the smallest joke by a scared little man? How much faith in their power does she possess, when she believes they cannot take a joke about sneezing.
This is not to say Dawson is not faithful or believes with her whole heart. This is merely to point out that her reactions do give me questions. Because often enough, it is the zealot who fears the falseness of his faith the most.
Let the Gods be questioned, let them be mocked even. It is not the mockery which does the true damage, it is in how you react to it. If you laugh at someone’s joke about you, then you have robbed that joke of its power. But if you rage, if you censor, if you strike back violently, then you make the joke real, you make people believe in the joke, accept it.
We all — beings from deities, to ancestors, to humans, to many other beings — we all deserve better. We deserve to see these situations made better as best we can manage for all involved. We can’t do that without seeing the truth of these assaults for what they are first; assaults not merely on remnant history or symbols but on the fabric of meaning and upon our gods themselves and the relationships held most sacred in this world. (And these matters certainly extend well beyond the deities of the Near and Middle East, but the scope of this writing specifically addresses these desecrations.)
Do we, Gods, ancestors, and faithful, deserve better? Unquestionably yes. Equally unquestionable though, is that everyone has the right for freedom of expression, thought, and speech. And life isn’t about what we deserve. If we all got what we deserved in life, our lots would be far more horrific. Why do you think so much of the afterlives out there have really bad places filled with lots and lots of people. Often enough or bad deeds far outweigh any good deeds we’ve done. The Christians are right in that regard.
And look, the Gods in the Middle East have had it some of the worst out there. They took the brunt of the Israelites, the Christians, and then had the Muslims just come in and rape the corpses of everything for all they were worth and then some. They in no way deserve the treatment they have receive, even if they could be as brutal as the Aztec Gods at times.
But where Dawson talks of “making it better, to manage these situations,” I do not hear faith. At least, not faith as Germanics or Romans would understand it. Perhaps the faith of Middle Eastern Gods is the faith of YHVH and Allah, blind, intolerant, vengeful. I would like to think not, I would like to think them much the same in disposition as my Norse or Roman pantheons. But perhaps, in the end, the ideals of Western Gods and Western humanity are not those of Middle Eastern Gods or humanity.
Perhaps for them it is censorship, it is crushing the non-believer, that is faith. Perhaps in the thousands of years, they changed. Perhaps they learned the lesson of YHVH and Allah, and that one must crush blasphemy in all its forms lest it threaten the Gods’ power. As a polytheist, this theory has merit to me. They were crushed, and so they learned that life is to crush or be crushed.
But to me, as a Westerner in both Divine and Mortal way, it is freedom, not censorship, that best serves. And perhaps that is my own cultural imperialism, my own belief in the superiority of Germanic and Roman culture and ideals. For never let it be said that Roman Gods were humble Gods, or that Norse Gods did not believe themselves capable in all things.
There exist in our world many harms, and some are very obvious. Some are much more subtle harms, which can cause the same damage and erasure that Daesh can wreak, often without present notice at all. No bombs, no jackhammers, no machine guns aimed at the ancient artifacts which are images of the gods… “funny” manipulations and desecrations of an image accomplishes a similar goal of erasing the deities and desensitizing us to the wrongness in one blow.
Seeing either expression of harm, subtle or indelicately explosive, with too much frequency and without the guidance to recognize critically these horrors for what they are, has a desensitizing effect, an anesthetizing effect, on whole societies and ways of viewing and responding to the world. Over time it gets to be — has gotten to be — “no big deal”, when people act in these manners and further wreck the very relations we seek to heal, restore, and reestablish. We can’t fix these things when we can’t recognize that they got broken and are continually getting broken in the first place, and in the second and third and fourth as well. This misunderstanding of what is sacred and how to treat it combined with a desensitization to desecration, is the lasting symptom which continues to drive a wedge between ourselves, our deities, and the ancestors who could help us heal these matters within ourselves and our societies. It is a symptom of relationships which were poisoned long before we got here, and it is a symptom that we must learn to overcome lest we continue to live in the poison and propagate it, thus poisoning future generations. I pray to my gods, I pray to all our gods, that for all our sakes and the sake of the future that this is a matter which we, each and all of us, can overcome so that there is at least something sacred left for today’s children to inherit tomorrow
In the end, perhaps that is the truth. Perhaps there are “Different Faiths” if you will.
I am a polytheist. I believe in the individual gods, their power, their agency, their potency. I am a child of Germania and Rome, a child of the West. And that is my faith. Faith which believes that both faithful and God not only can, but should occasionally, take the slings and arrows of criticism and mockery. I come and am of peoples who scrawled pornographic images of our Gods on the walls, who had statues with big tits and bigger dicks. I am of a people who had sacred rites that were orgies, and pillaged and plundered and conquered all around.
I am of peoples who swore by the genitals of their Gods, told stories of their triumphs and humiliations. A people who believed that the freedom to speak, to question, all the way up to the Gods themselves, was the sacred right of both Gods and Men. That it was okay to talk about Thor wearing a dress, or Jupiter getting chewed out by his wife for sleeping around. That it was okay to talk about Mars and Venus making Vulcan wear the cuckold’s horns, and how even as that was wrong, the love Mars and Venus had for each other could still be beautiful.
That the Gods were in many ways, as human as mortals. Hungry, angry, lustful, depressed, humiliated, and triumphant as we could be. That their humanity was the key to why we worshiped them as much as their power and immortality.
But perhaps this is not the faith of Khem and Canaan. Perhaps theirs is a faith of silence, of obedience. A faith which believes Gods should never be questioned, never be mocked, never be the part of any humor or debate. That the relationships you have with the Gods should never be mortal in nature, and that such things poison them. Perhaps their gods must be perfect at all times, never questioned, never in humor. Divine and sacred things as far above mortals as the sky is from the earth.
As a polytheist, I do not like Halstead’s position. As a theologian, I find his theology rather pathetically put together, inspired more by arrogance and fear than anything else. As a bit of a rationalist myself, his ability to argue and use logic are rather paltry. But as a Roman and Germanic polytheist..I cannot support his silencing. I cannot support claiming that he has no right to do as he has done. He is a free man in his life, and he will be judged by the Gods when he dies. In fact, his judgement is likely to come at the hands of Hela and myself, for he is of Germanic peoples and claims allegiance to no Gods, so he will come to the halls of his Ancestors’ Deities. But that judgement is for Gods, not men.
Has he made a mockery, a joke of the image in question? Without doubt. In this he is guilty. But is his crime truly so great? Is his sin truly so unforgivable? I don’t think so. He has made humor, a joke which meant something to him, to try and deal with the terrible truth of the universe. As God or Mortal, I cannot truly find fault in doing this. I cannot say he is worthy of the hatred that Dawson has heaped upon him, nor the censorship that Krasskova and Dawson seem to insist should be done. Has he appropriated this image? Maybe, but then I suspect it is less appropriation than it is trade. Dawson and others of Canaan have taken many things from the West into their worship and lives, and in doing so we of the West have drawn their Gods, icons, and so forth into our own lives to various degrees.
This is not appropriation, this is trade. That Halstead has taken one of these traded items and made a joke with it doesn’t invalidate anything, nor has he truly appropriated.
So, is appropriation ever appropriate? I don’t know, nothing here has truly been appropriated, for there has been trade between all parties. So despite four posts on this subject, no conclusion can in fact be reached, yet. Cultures are clashing, to be sure. Atheist and Canaan shall never likely to be friends, while Norse and Roman sit here to the side and ponder. Each of us three side arrogantly believes we are in the right. Two of the sides feel they have been wronged. By the reasoning of the third, no wrong has been committed.
At least, not a wrong that should be punished.
But then, each Pantheon and their related cultures is different. Those of the West hold more to freedom. Those of the Middle East, perhaps, to unquestioning devotion. And the Atheists of None, perhaps hold to nothing, because they believe in Nothing higher. But such are the tales of Gods and Mortals.
*See what I did there?