More Friday fun with bingo! Click the image for larger size. Bonus points for using both arguments in the same-colored square.
Many thanks to Grafton again.
Time for some Friday fun! Image here, text version below. Colored squares are for bonus points: if someone uses both arguments in a particular color, give them a gold star for lack of intellectual consistency.
|That’s not a real religion. It’s too new!||We gave you some rights, don’t ask for more.||Nobody ever complained before.||You don’t really believe that.||You’re going to curse me!|
|There are too few of you to accommodate.||You worship nature and hate humans!||You’re going to have orgies and sacrifice babies!||Your gods aren’t real.||You haven’t heard me tell you about Jesus yet.|
|The occult makes people possessed!||If you don’t want to pray you can just stand quietly.||You’re restricting my rights!||You’ve got a victim mentality.||Fortune-telling is just a scam.|
|You just invented holidays to get time off.||You worship the devil!||You’re rebelling against your parents.||We’ll pray the way the majority wants.||Make me understand your religion before I respect it.|
|You’re stupid for believing in magic.||You invented a goddess because you’re all lesbians.||You’re just worshiping the real God under a different name.||You’re not a real religion without a book.||Polytheism (or animism) is so primitive!|
Many thanks to Grafton for help with the images. Hat tip to Anti-feminist bingo, which I used as a model.
I’m going to feature some pieces and guest posts further exploring contemporary deities. If you’ve got one to suggest, please write to me at literatahurley at gmail.
One of my favorite examples of a ha-ha-only-serious approach to religion is Weasel Wicca, self-described as “a toon trad.” While this is not just about a single contemporary deity, I think it is a great instance of the contemporary understanding of Eris (or Discordia, goddess of chaos) that has emerged in the last half-century. There are also Discordianism and the whole meta-schema of Chaos Magic, but those are both too big for me to tackle here, so I’ll stick to Weasel Wicca for now.
On the other hand, the description of Weasel Wicca does mention Galanthus, saying she was turned into a weasel for lying to Juno. I didn’t find any examples of this myth on a quick search, so maybe a reader can enlighten me: was this an old myth that is seldom mentioned, or is it a new myth? Either way, Galanthus might count as a contemporary deity.
The most interesting thing about Weasel Wicca, though, is that it is in fact a well-thought-out approach to Wicca; it has a myth of its own and a thoroughly adapted ritual, with the major Wiccan components easily recognizable but also uniquely reinterpreted: invoke East by squeezing the squeaky toy, invoke South by hiding the matches, and so on.
Weasel Wicca also perfectly captures the attitude of every person I’ve ever met who lived with a ferret. The trad is designed for them, and as such I think it’s a great example of how we adapt and invent myths and rituals to suit our times and circumstances.
In that spirit, grab some holy Fhood and Bhooze, or not, and with the acceptance that “reality can always use a little bending,” as Weasel Wicca puts it, let’s talk about contemporary deities.
Spouse and I are putting our final preparations in place. We expect to have no problems riding the storm out, but just in case, I’ll use this post as an information center and will post updates every few hours. If you’re partying in place (like sheltering in place, but much more fun), feel free to join in the virtual conversation.
Bright blessings for safety and peace,
Hecate recently quoted the new American Poet Laureate:
Isn’t that what it’s about –
pretending there’s an alert cat
who leaves nothing to chance.
And all the jokes about Ceiling Cat aside (srsly!), this made me think of one of the best fictional depictions of a pantheon and its myths that I’ve ever encountered, which occurs in Diane Duane’s Feline Wizards books.
Set in the same universe as her Young Wizards series, all species know that there is the One, the creator, and the Powers That Be, who serve the One, and the Lone One, who is the force of entropy but a necessary part of creation nonetheless. Each species has its own versions of these, though, and sometimes multiple versions. In The Book of Night with Moon, cat wizard Rhiow and her team struggle with reenactments and revisions of feline mythology and its intersections and interactions with other species’ myth and history. In the latest installment, The Big Meow, we get a vital addition to the mythology explaining how the feline version of the afterlife came to be.
So overall there’s a pretty viable pantheon, with their stories told in a comprehensive myth cycle that covers creation, the purposes of life, why death happens, and what comes after. Although the cats don’t practice formal rituals as such, there are also plenty of examples of how different cats relate – or don’t – to their deities. All in all, if someone wanted to work with this setting, they could. But would you?
Some ideas of working with imaginary pantheons are simply not tenable for me; I couldn’t keep a straight face through even a self-subverting chaos magic ritual that called on Star Trek characters, for example. But things like the ha-ha-only-serious rituals of Caffeina, or even chaos magicians working with Bill the Cat or with ferrets, those I can all imagine doing. In my particular urban area, I have learned to offer incense and to give praise and thanks to my own dear Asphaltia, Our Lady of Traffic and Parking Spaces.
This is one of the interesting things about not being constrained by the Christian emphasis on belief. I don’t have to believe that Bill the Cat is anything other than fiction; if the ritual does something for me, (even just a good laugh) that can be a good enough reason to do it.
On the other hand, the more I work with Asphaltia, and the more I get unexpected results from those workings, the more I wonder if she’s not actually a contemporary aspect of the deity of travel and travelers who has had many forms throughout the ages.
Star wrote recently about how we don’t create meaning ex nihilo, and that our relationships with the Powers That Be include ongoing revelation. Can some of these new deities – or old deities in new forms – be part of that ongoing revelation? Does it matter if that revelation comes originally in the form of fiction, like Duane’s work, or loving humor, like Caffeina?
What do you think about fictional or invented or “found” deities or powers? Do you work with them? Only with certain ones? Why?
Finally, I raise this question because I’d also like to find out if there would be any interest in me posting a creation myth I wrote based in part on Diane Duane’s felines. I adapted the pantheon slightly and told the story in form more similar to most Wiccan myths. If you’d like to see it, just leave a note in the comments or “like” this post.
To restate an old religious joke, dogs are Christians – they believe in you no matter what you do. Cats are Pagans – they want to see the food in the bowl.
On an only slightly more serious note, I continue to be amused at how many Pagans and Wiccans have cats (and/or dogs, but especially cats). I think there’s something about the Pagan aesthetic of finding your own path and doing your own thing that means we relate well with cats.
Again, it’s not that Pagans can’t love dogs, but perhaps the old stories of the witch and her familiar cat are playing themselves out in the contemporary world for very good reasons…what do you think?
xkcd, a great geeky webcomic, features Zombie Marie Curie in today’s strip. ZMC says she’s tired of being THE token female scientist and spends some time talking about other great women scientists and mathematicians, but her real point is:
You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.
As someone who did one of the multitudinous Marie Curie projects in grade school, I really appreciate the point about tokenism. I’m glad that I had learned about tokenism by the time, years later, that a guy tried to tell me that the 1950s weren’t that bad about gender roles because: Look! Adm. Grace Hopper had genitals that were an innie and she was a computer scientist! Bugs! Um, ok. Name two other famous female computer scientists – heck, famous female scientific/technical experts from the 1950s. Tokens, yoo haz one. (sic)
But the point about greatness is even more important. We don’t need another Marie Curie. We already had one. The message I’d like to get out to young women, and everybody, is that we need the first one of you doing whatever you’re good at that makes the world a better place.
A recent article on Vanity Fair about current issues as a result of economic inequality said:
The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.
And, just to bear that out, in case you haven’t heard, the Republicans are proposing some awful budget cuts, especially to Medicaid. Echidne points out that this is an explicit attempt to put the burden of limiting costs on individuals, while taking away the buying power that has helped Medicaid keep costs low. In short, they’re going to force individuals to do the impossible – or face life-or-death-and-or-bankruptcy decisions.
A blogger for The Economist had this to say:
Mr Ryan thinks this is a good thing, because individuals who are responsible for paying for their own health insurance will be strongly motivated to seek better insurance at a lower price. I think this is a terrible thing, because the mechanism Mr Ryan is using to incentivise people to seek better coverage for the price is to expose them to the risk that they will suffer from disease for which their insurance doesn’t cover them. The threat that you will suffer illness with inadequate treatment because you can’t afford it and your insurance doesn’t cover it is certainly a pretty strong motivator for most people to seek better insurance. But the purpose of insurance is to insulate people from risks like that. …
I agree with Mr Ryan that the government needs to limit taxpayers’ exposure to Medicare cost inflation. I think this plan is a fundamentally immoral way to do it.
Shorter, from Jonathan Zasloff at the RBC:
[The Republican plan is] called increasing the number of uninsured and underinsured people in this country by several tens of millions. For Republicans, having health insurance is like having any other commodity: if you can afford it, you do, and if you can’t, you can’t.
The Republicans and the top 1% of earners don’t really believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. They know those tides don’t come from nowhere. They do believe they’ve got solid hulls, though, so they’re busy making a tide to lift the biggest boats by throwing other people off of government life rafts. Sink or swim indeed.
I’m back on terra firma again after a week on a cruise vacation with Spouse and Spouse’s Parents. Not quite home yet, so still somewhat limited in terms of my internet connection, but I’m in the process of getting caught up. I also have some reflections on cruising, since this was my first cruise vacation, which I present for your amusement below the fold. Read more
On Friday evening, Spouse and I saw a live performance of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It was very cool, and the staging gave me more to think about. Spoilers below the fold!