Chester & Suicide

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A cool pic

R.I.P. Chester (1976-2017)

I’ve been waiting to do this post because of the heat. I wanted to make sure the official ruling was out before I did so. His death has come on Chris Cornell’s birthday, I am not sure if that was intentional or not. Nonetheless, he followed in his footsteps. (Long post. Trigger warning: Mental Illness and Addiction.)

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A look into Reincarnation

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An explanation of the cycle of rebirth

What happens after death? People are always searching for answer to their afterlife. There are many answers, and typically, in most religions, (Especially ancient ones.) the answer is an entirely different world. [Underworld, Heaven, Hell, etc.] It’s entirely impossible to measure by science.

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Silent Hill 2 & Xuchilpaba Theory

I shouldn’t have to say this, but there will be spoilers on the classic Silent Hills. So, if you’re new and have not played them, ignore this post entirely.  Also, this is going to be extremely long.

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Happy Birthday Courtney Love

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Happy Birthday to the Queen! I love Courtney so much.

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Knowledge & the Superiority complex

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I write this, it is not such a pagany topic because it is something that effects all humans of every race, religion, and creed. Even people with no religion, have trouble not looking down on peeps sometimes. I just wanted to make this topic because when it’s discussed, it is usually not backed in data all the way. But I also want to point out why it’s extremely flawed logic.

First, I am going to lay down the Dunning-Kruger effect right here, for y’all. It’s best known as illusory Superiority. Where one doesn’t just think they’re better than other people,  but that they also fail to recognize skills in others. For our topic, we’re going to specifically concentrate on the people who believe they are more intelligent than other people, which the effect has a lot to say about.

These people can be atheists, but I have seen this permeate through pagan reconstructionist movements, first hand, as backlash against the mainstream paganism that is far less history oriented and academically based. It doesn’t stop there, it really can be anyone who gains some knowledge that begets their foolish notions of superiority. They can have a religion or none at all. (Trust me, there is plenty of condescending Christians out there!) It matters naught. All that matters is there is some sort of condescending attitude that really, fails, to recognize your fellow human beings as equals.

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This is the Maasai tribe, and they’re pretty rad so I included them.

So, now, let’s talk about tribal people. Many civilized people love to think they’re superior to tribal people. They’re an easy target, I mean, why are they so lacking in technological developments?! They’re superstitious, generally, and just all around backwards compared to us civilized folk, right? They may be violent or have weird rituals even! Obviously, we are more intelligent than them.

Well, er, not exactly. You see, people are not uncivilized for the reasons that others usually think of. Lemme start from the beginning… Homo sapiens are the only human species left on the earth. Nobody on this vast planet of ours, has been isolated long enough, to evolve into another species of human yet. Evolution takes millions of years. It’s slow. What does this mean? They have the same intelligence we do.

Another way of looking at it, is that even though we live in a modern world of tech convenience, not everyone individually knows how all the tech we utilize works. All the intrinsic details. We’re essentially going off other peoples’ ideas and works, in the innovations that allowed us to advance faster via civilization. Sure, people have specialties and may know how one or more areas work, but not everything.

Tribes don’t always exist on this level, since their lives are generally less complex in the tool spheres than ours. But they do know how to survive in dastardly and hostile environmental conditions without modern technology; a skill many civilized people have since lost. This means, that the reasons that they never developed civilization has nothing to do with intelligence, in the first place.

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The death of my fave philosopher; Socrates

Basically put, if you have all your resources met on a continuous basis, enough to make a permanent settlement, you are not spending your time surviving the wilds, you can develop the art, civilization, philosophy, and later science! Geographic location plays a humongous role in this, and explains why places, such as remote Amazon jungles, do not have civilization. If you look at this in the modern civilized stance, this explains why poor people have so many educational problems. It’s hard to take care of your education when you’re struggling to live.

For example, let’s look at the cradle of civilization; Mesopotamia and the Middle East. Climate change, the end of the Ice Age, played a role in food production. Local environments in that region began to become rich in resources. Foragers were able sedentism, or sedentary (settled) life in villages. Eventually, mankind was able to domesticate animals and plants, after inventing agriculture. More food production, especially a steady amount, meant more population.

It was a very gradual change from foraging to food production. These happened globally and some independently of each other. You will also note that many took place near rivers or large bodies of fresh water; Yangtze River for Ancient China, Tigris Euphrates for Mesopotamia, and Lake Texcoco for the Aztecs.

Sum it up:

  1. Intelligence has nothing to do with race, culture, gender, tribe or civilization. In on a smaller scale, this could include religion or not.
  2. People are still tribal in certain areas of the world, this is largely due to resources and geography.
  3. You have been born in a life of privilege reading this on tech. If you were born in a tribe, you would be the same as them.
  4. Homo sapiens have not been isolated enough to evolve into another species of humans.
  5. People have a variety of skills and knowledge, you don’t have, even if they only have a tribal background.
  6. The brain is a muscle, this muscle can be exercised.
  7. Being more civilized or less religious does not equate intelligence.

Now, for the fun part. Some great quotes by super, famous sciencey people about knowledge and superiority!

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A random pic. Stare at it in wonder.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”

Charles Darwin

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

-Bertrand Russel

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”

-Confucius, probably

Other references:

Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity by Kottak (4th edition)

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“Reclaiming” Heathenism & other forms of Paganism

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A painting of Thor, the god of thunder

Disclaimer: I am not a Heathen, I do sometimes work with Nordic gods but I do not consider myself a Heathen in any sense of the word. (I am however, a pagan.) This is completely an outsider’s point of view when concerning Heathenism and it will mostly focus on this. (It could be applied to other forms of paganism, though.) Also, this is an American perspective and focal point. (I know next to nothing about modern pagan communities inside Europe or abroad and their problems.)

“Heathenism” is an umbrella term, much like the term “paganism” is, for many unaware, referring to a plethora of religions with common ground. The main difference is that Heathenism concentrates more on a specific area of the world; Germany, Austria, Nordic practices, etc. (This much like Hinduism is used to denote the religious indigenous practices of India and abroad, despite their diversity.) According to Wiki it used to be called “Germanic Neopaganism”.

One of the biggest problems in the broader community is racism and “Far Right Paganism” that is very concentrated in Heathenism circles. A recent article on Wild Hunt caught my eye about how Heathens are trying to distance themselves from the white supremacists of the movement. To me, this is not just a Heathen problem but a pagan one as well. (If one considers Heathens also under the category of paganism.)

It’s knowledge now, that while the huge right leaning groups are Heathen, it seeps into other forms of paganism as well, which is a problem for us all. There is whole sites dedicated to exposing Far Right Paganism and their groups. (I don’t totally agree with everything left leaning in the link, I do applaud them on combating the problem though.) There is also Heathens United Against Racism, [HUAR] which recently issued a statement about the Portland killer. The killer himself, seemed to be an eclectic pagan/Heathen, however, HUAR still felt responsibility. Likewise, a rather funnier incident, is documented here with Heathens Against Hate. This has been a problem spanning decades.

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Fenrir and Tyr by John Bauer (One of my fave artists)

What inspired me for this article, was the little bit towards the end of the Wild Hunt post:

One interviewee who wished to remain anonymous keeps his religious practice hidden from coworkers and superiors, not because he’s worried about being labeled a devil worshiper, but because he is concerned, due to the public opinion, that he’ll be called white supremacist.

This is a problem. I am fairly certain, the interviewee, is not the only one who feels this way. Despite the fact that there are plenty of others doing something to combat the problem, there is too much media attention on the racist/hate issue. There is just too much negativity in the communities. It’s such a mess to be in something now associated with the “bad apples”, so to speak, of the movements.

I am reminded of how bad the reputation of paganism and witchcraft was in the earlier decades of the 1900’s. (And to a degree, Heathenism as well because it has more of a positive meaning now.) Many people sought to regain control over this public image. This was particularly a point in early Wicca movements with Valiente and Gardner, and then later in the 1980’s with Satanic panic. It got so bad that Wiccans, some of which to this day still do it despite the fact most people don’t care, tried to distance themselves from any notion of “devil worship”, literary and modern Satanism, and “bad apples” of the occult communities who sacrifice peoples’ pet cats on Halloween. (At least the stereotype. I don’t think we should distance ourselves from modern Satanism, either. But I will save that for another post.)

While I agree with them largely, that they are not literary Satanism or the form of paganism the monks of the medieval period made it out to be, I think they should be more welcoming of modern Satanism. In the previous decades, introducing yourself as a witch/Wiccan or pagan, citing no devil worship and the like, is acceptable for the time period. Now, I think it is outdated with how well known Wicca is, post-1990’s. No one really associates Wicca or even most paganism with that anymore, except evangelicals and similar Christians who don’t care to understand it. (Can’t please everyone!) However, the effort of the communities did pay off by explaining to people what they are about and how they were not Abrahamic as the majority.

In this sense, as modern pagans and witches reclaimed their image from literary Satanism and Christianity, I believe the same could be done from the hateful groups that are attempting to hijack the spiritual growth of the community and the communities themselves. It is because of the efforts of many Neopagans, over the decades, that the word “witch” now has an entirely new meaning that is beyond the original dictionary and academic definitions. (The original meaning was “one who practiced harmful or black magic”.) Most people who use the title are not going about trying to conjure demons or curse people on a regular basis, as the mythology originally implied and said.

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A painting of Odin. A good symbol of inclusiveness.

So, what did they do? Educate. Keep espousing the traditions. Keep being friendly, open, and welcoming to people. Keep being inclusive. Be patient when people don’t know, ask, and inquire about your religion and beliefs. You attract more flies with honey, than vinegar. Meaning the “hate” is not as effective as love/friendliness (And all those gooey, warm, positive emotions.) in attracting and keeping people.

Educating (And correcting) people and removing ignorance, removes criminal behaviors, racism, transphobia, anti-feminism, hypermasculinity, and so forth. These things need to be backed in science and there is plenty of resources in introductions to anthropology alone, on inclusiveness/diversity of homo sapiens, to help back debates up, which everyone should do. Even if you don’t change a mind by publicly debating online with the person, remember, that the message has the potential to change someone else’s mind who is lurking and reading.

It is best to correct and educate, when you can and when relevant, to spread the good ideas. Voices of the other side that is inclusive, on an individual level, need to be heard, and not just the voices of racists/hateful members in the community. (Remember, you still have to pick and choose your battles. Some people simply are not worth it or the effort.)

I am a realist though. I do not expect such measure to completely eradicate hate and exclusiveness in the community, that would be unrealistic. But it could curb stomp it’s teeth in. I mean, hell, most Wiccans/witches, I’ve met, are inclusive, but it doesn’t stop Z.Budapest and Maxine Sanders from being anti-trans.  It does need to be said that Asatru and other Heathen/pagan religions are NOT inherently exclusive, racist, transphobic, etc to people. I know it’s not usually coming from the pagan community, the public does not know this, however.

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Documentary on Kali puja in Trinidad/Tobago

This is very interesting. One of the best parts is a black woman at the 14:00 mark who speaks of worshiping Kali. It’s not interesting because she is not Indian, it’s interesting because she goes onto say she is a practicing Roman Catholic and a practicing Hindu. Nobody sees anything wrong with this and I think that is great.

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