Outright Fallacious Statements

Now, I try really hard not to get involved in bullshit arguments on Facebook. They never end well, and people are stupid.

But, when it comes to the fields I spend years studying (both in high school independent studies with teachers, as well as my college degrees) – I admit I get testy and will fire back. After all, I did not spend all those years building up an understanding of the subject, to fully understand what was going on…just to have idiots butcher history because y’ah know, it “sounds cool”.

Which is how this particular debate on Facebook started up. Now, I’m not going to explain this idiot’s name on Facebook. I’m not that cruel. And…that is just not how I really go about these things.

Behold this screenshot:

Found in a local pagan Facebook group

Found in a local pagan Facebook group

Now first off – a few facts about the NSDAP (Nazi Party).

  • Atheistic in theology/religion.
  • Militaristic opposition to religion if it did not serve political control aims.
  • The earliest political prisoners of the Nazis in Germany, in the earliest of the concentration camps included: Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, German citizens who opposed the Reich/Nazi ideology (all ideologically opposed to the Nazis in some way or another), among others.
  • Staunchly anti-Church, they went to the extreme of imprisoning and killing priests and pastors who refused to take the oath to support the Nazi Party and espouse their beliefs.

With that in mind, I’ll continue.

Of course, the upper echelons of the Nazi party were filled with extremely well-educated people; as well as the idiots (just like every government). Just like those who supported the Nazis in countries where Germany swept through during WWII. And those of the upper echelons of every country that opposed the Nazis. Well-educated people have far-reaching interests. That invariably some of the upper ranks of the Nazi party were interested in the occult or read about it, is not shocking. Hell, look at how many people throughout history have been interested in it, while still espousing it as fallacious and wrong? Just having the materials and reading about the occult does not mean that the Nazis were occultists, magicians, wizards, or pagans. Had there been a bonefied, active Pagan/occult community in Nazi Germany, they would have been quashed like everyone else who opposed the Nazis. Or at least, left free to run under a semblance of autonomy until the Nazis felt they were no longer of use, and then they would have been thrown into concentration camps or labor camps, just like every other opponent of the Reich that the Nazis could get their hands on.

As for the Schutzstaffel (SS) and any occult/magical things.

I’m pretty sure (off the top of my head I can only remember this one instance) where witches are mentioned in WWII history. The “Nachthexen” or “Night Witches” of the Soviet Union’s Air Force. They were pretty well feared by the German military on the eastern front. And, (I will admit I do not have any books handy to pull resources) I’m pretty sure it’s the only reference to “witches” in WWII history. Not a German group, but a Soviet group that the Germans named that because they were a group of women who fought extremely well.

The SS was a political and militaristic entity, filled with people from all walks of life. They were, following the religious persuasions of the time, mostly Protestant or Catholic. However, they were, as members of the SS, required to espouse the beliefs of the Nazi party.

Divider GreyBut as to what this has to do with paganism online.

“Nazis were black pagans”.

First off: Nazis were not pagans. They were extremely atheistic. Secondly, what the hell did this idiot mean by “black pagan”?

We may never know….

(Seriously, we won’t, because the author screamed murder when he was questioned on his choice of literature [terrible] and to prove his points, and up and deleted some of his secondary comments on this thread, and disappeared)

But really. I find it insulting that people want to make the sheer depths of horror that encompass WWII into something explainable by “magic” or “occult”. Far more realistic, far more true–and by far more terrifying–is that these were people like everyone else at the time in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Christians…agnostics…atheists (among others), who were drawn to a charismatic leader who promised power and not having to bend at the knee to anyone. It makes sense that whole flocks of people came to this. And to me it trivializes the sheer, unadulterated horror of what happened in that time to just brush it off as “crazy Nazis…looking into the occult and magic”.

Posts like this that blatantly fictionalize history do away with the truth. And without the truth of what happened, we lose the story, the thread of what truly happened back then. Every year my university hosts a Holocaust survivor who speaks to the students, staff and faculty that sign up to come and listen. Those are some of the most powerful stories I’ve heard in my life–because they are of people, done by people…regular people that were the neighbor, the nice shop owner that before that awful time you would not have expected capable of such acts.

Fallacious crap like this just harms history. It harms those who lived through it and trivializes what they survived.

Then on the pagan side – this is just awful. Are pagans really so fucking desperate to extend neopaganism history back further into modern history that they’ll grasp at even straws like this? (I suspect a lot are desperate) Because so what if neopaganism is a modern phenomenon without a history that’s longer than 60 or 70 years for most branches? That’s nothing wrong. Hell, all religions started out new at one point or another. It doesn’t matter if neopaganism is not directly traceable back to old “pagan” religions or beliefs. Religion is always adapting and changing, growing to suit the world and people that are following it.

Divider GreySo this offends me on multiple levels.

First as a pagan it offends me that people feel the need to create fallacious historical ties to make pagan history longer in chronology.

As a history student and lover of history it offends me that people would twist history.

And as a student and scholar of German-language, culture and peoples–it offends me that people corrupt things like this. After all, this was a dark enough time in world history, in German history, without idiots creating lies to go along with it.

Not that being pagan is a problem…but the lie about there being some great pagan “group” in Germany at this time is insulting to history, culture and paganism itself. I wish that things like this didn’t pop up all the time in pagan online groups–but they do. (Or at least I happen to notice them) Because I’m seriously tired of having to continuously correct the idiots on the fact that there was no great “occult conspiracy” by the Nazi Party.

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Thinking on the Afterlife

So I’ve been thinking about things, because October is a rough month. And I know it is almost December yet, but things sometimes take a while to process for me.

When I first became a pagan, back when I was about 10-11, I read about the “Summerlands”. Or, an afterlife of sorts. Before I became interested in paganism and magic, I had never believed in anything. I was not raised Christian like so many pagans were–so I had no lingering concept of heaven or hell…or any afterlife of any sort. I was really unsure of anything like that, I never thought too much on people and where they went after death. I knew I could hear ghosts, but I was not sure about everything else, where other people went if they were not lingering as ghosts around our plane. But because I did not grow up learning about heaven and hell, I grew up without the ingrained ideas, perhaps even fear of hell, I never put much thought into after death. I also had a tendency to piss off my friends’ families, because I would tell my very fundamental Christian friends and their parents, when their parents brought up hell while I was at their houses, that hell as described by these people was not existent in the Bible. I would point out the fire and brimstone hell, the levels always cited, were Dante’s invention. (That never goes over very well with strongly Christian adults, especially when it is a child pointing out that there is information to their faith that they do not know.)

So when I became interested in paganism, I was kind of ambiguous on the whole “Summerlands” or afterlife thing. I knew that an idea of heaven was not right–especially considering how every branch of Christianity has at one point or another made claim that all the others are heretics and going to hell (slight exaggeration there, I know, but this was how I thought at that young age). And I could not believe in a Hell one went to just because they did not believe in God and “accept Jesus Christ as their savior”. Because it reminded me of something that I heard said once to my super fundamental Christian uncle. What of those people who work for the good of mankind but do not believe in God? Are they automatically committed to an eternity in hell being punished? For me, I could never reconcile that one would be punished, even if one did the right things, just for not believing the same thing as another person.

I remember reading an article (I don’t remember anything else about it at this point now, just that it was an article I came across online, and it actually had resources listed, a major shock considering most articles online that I was able to access at the time) that mentioned a pagan afterlife. It talked about how paths did not matter. What was important was the good deeds and honorable acts of the individual. That fascinated me, because I was so used to my friends screaming their heads off about heaven and hell…and how if you weren’t the right kind of Christian you would go to hell. The idea that a person’s own acts determined on how their afterlife proceeded, that was novel and brilliant to me. So I was fascinated and intrigued. And the thought that there was no predetermined path one had to have–well that was massively appealing.

Now, I know that the article I read was probably terribly fluffy and ignoring all academic proof on what the real truth was. Not to mention, each pagan path has its own ideas about death and what happens afterwards. So ever since then I’ve learned to recognize that a generality article like what I read back when I was a young newbie (as opposed to an older newbie comparative to some members of the extended online pagan-witchcraft-polytheist community) is not the best source.

Divider GreyEven though I no longer believe in the ultra-general idea of an afterlife that is somehow idyllic for allowing every path and everyone being welcome, it did teach me one thing.

I believe in the deeds we make determining our fate after death. Should you do the best you can to be a good person, I believe in a good afterlife, with family and friends. For those who are dishonorable or commit breaches in trust regarding the human condition, them I expect are not given the pleasure to be with those that they cared for in life. That is general enough. I’m still kind of fuzzy on the specifics. And honestly my opinion is constantly changing depending on what new things I learn and experience.

I still don’t know where ghosts are chosen, how one person will become a ghost, but another will not. I am still not sure what happens to these things, or how exactly it happens. I still wonder if ghosts are people who chose to remain as a ghost, or if something in circumstances forces a ghost to stay that way. That’s a mystery I’ve yet to understand, and I suspect I might not understand it until I am dead myself.

So it’s been a bit of a growing period for me, learning how my ideas on death and the afterlife continue to grow and change.

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A Childhood Experience

Firstoff a short apology for me being gone so long. October is a very difficult month for me, and I just was not in any type of head space to write anything. But…I will go on now and write some more. Thank you all for having such patience with me.

And now onto the topic of today:

I frequent several “pagan”-flavored groups of Facebook. I also occasionally venture into the “paganism” and “witchcraft” tags on Tumblr. Only rarely, but it happens. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about people thinking their nightmares are caused by spirits…or general physical ailments are caused by “insert-magical-being-here”. Anything from ghosts, to fae, to succubi/incubi. It’s really headache inducing how stupid some of this is. First step always first – get thee to a doctor and rule out all mundane reasons for you ailments. After all, magical and mystical works should not be in replacement of the basic workings of doctors. Physical health should always start off with “mundane” workings to try and get the problem solved.  Using magical/mystical options should be the compliment to all normal things, not in lieu of. That’s just common sense.

Divider GreyBut…all the talk about “weird magical goings on” did remind me of something I did when I was 6 or 7.

I was at a friend’s birthday party…and you know like children tell those stories about “Bloody Mary” and the mirror thing. So of course, my friend’s slumber party, I was the youngest girl there, everyone else was 8-10 years old. And they all decided it would be a great idea to try and summon Bloody Mary. So they all sat down in a large circle. I didn’t want to do it, because it was too scary to myself. But they did, so I was watching from outside their circle.  Of course it was a circle, because that’s what all the witchy-things and portrayals did…and my friends all thought they were going to be summoning something. And they of course do some chant, one of the one’s that a girl had heard from her older sister and her friends (no doubt to scare her into leaving them alone, now that I look back on it).

I know logically that it was just group-think and us psyching ourselves out. But one girl flipped totally and thought someone grabbed her hair and yanked on it. A few of them swore someone had poked them in the back, or had run their hand up a girl’s back. Which of course terrified everyone there. I know that because the girls had grabbed flashlights and propped them up like a “candle” in the middle, and a girl knocked it over, it was very shadowy. So I thought, at the time, that I saw a figure moving. Of course, looking back, I’m sure it was just my mind freaking out because everyone else was as well. But at the moment I was pretty petrified. We were all so freaked out, no one wanted to go into the bathroom alone for the rest of the night. Because of course there was a mirror in there, which terrified us all. So one of the taller girls went in and covered the mirror with a blanket so we didn’t have to look at it.

Divider GreyLooking back at it, I guess it does sound funny to have a bunch of children freaking ourselves out. But there’s something there that has stuck with me ever since, no matter if it was just a case of group-think and freaking us out.

The one thing I took away from the whole stupid endeavor was to never meddle in things that I am not researched on (no matter if it is mundane or mystical). Preparation became clearly necessary for me, and I realized that I was going to always make sure I had a working knowledge of whatever I got myself into. If just so I wouldn’t ever have an unnecessary freak-out again. I did not like feeling freaked out for no good reason. So when I wanted to get deeper into studying, I was determined that I was going to make sure I knew if I would have reasons to freak out, and do the best I could to ensure I knew enough to keep myself calm.

It’s certainly served me well. Though at times I suppose it has made it so that I am more of a book-witch than a real practicing one. I do admit I do far more researching and reading than I do in day-to-day practicing. But I do believe knowledge helps improve the reliability of those things that I deal with or choose to work on. And this was perhaps the first “magical” experience that taught me that. Whether what my friends felt was real, or whether it was just hysteria caused by young children–it taught me that magical and supernatural things can be very dangerous, and it’s best to be prepared and not just play flippantly with things that are known for being “dangerous”.

I figure, my terrifying/amusing childhood experience might at least get a chuckle out of someone else. Because after all, a bunch of children with over-active imaginations are bound to create crazy stories. At least for me something good came from it, an understanding of how knowledge and preparation are necessary.

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Hildegard: A Saint Eight Centuries in the Making

Gamayun:

Hildegard von Bingen is one of the most fascinating figures I learned about in any of my religion classes in college. And I enjoy reading her work.

Originally posted on :

hildegard & volmar

The visionary abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) has long been regarded as a saint, with her feast day of September 17, yet she was only officially canonized in May 2012. Why did it take the Vatican over eight centuries to canonize this great polymath, composer, and theologian?

The first attempt to canonize Hildegard began in 1233, but failed as over fifty years had passed since her death and most of the witnesses and beneficiaries of her reported miracles were deceased. Her theological writings were deemed too dense and difficult for subsequent generations to understand and soon fell into obscurity, as did her music. According to Barbara Newman, Hildegard was remembered mainly as an apocalyptic prophet. But in the age of Enlightenment, prophets and mystics went out of fashion. Hildegard was dismissed as a hysteric. Even the authorship of her own work was disputed as pundits began to suggest her books…

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My Family is Blessed

I’m not going to post a photo of my uncle’s dog. I don’t want to violate his privacy and I don’t have his permission.

But, my uncle is only alive because his precious fluff-ball Chow Chow woke him up in the middle of the night from his sleep (he had a nasty migraine). There was a dryer vent fire and his smoke detector had not gone off. So if his dog had not been there, it’s very likely my uncle would not be here anymore.

So I’m terribly grateful to my beloved uncle’s dog, who is both adorably cute and fluffy, and is also a wonderful little hero dog for waking my uncle up and saving his life.

I’m just so happy that I didn’t lose my uncle in an apartment fire.

My uncle is safe, and his apartment is (mostly) fine.

But he’s definitely talking to his apartment’s manager about the fact the smoke detector didn’t work. He wants to make sure it’s safe for everyone in the complex.

So I’m just happy, and feeling so glad that my uncle and the wonderful dog are safe.

It really makes me realize what things are important when I learn things like this. So I feel things are better when I know that my family are safe and all in one piece.

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My Altar

My altar is now officially split between the top of my clothing storage and in my vanity/desk.

This was necessary to do. My room does not have that much room for things like this, so I have to be resourceful. Moving things and even finding places to put things is good enough for me. I also know for a fact that my family would appreciate the resourcefulness of me finding ways to utilize everything I own in multiple ways to best work with my limited circumstances.

I’m looking forward to organizing a few things a bit better, and being able to use everything nicely in the next few weeks.

I will actually (as I’ve previously promised a few times) post some photos fairly soon of my new set-up.

I’m pretty proud of everything I managed to arrange. It’s not typical and it’s definitely not a purpose-only altar, but it will help me out quite a bit. I’m fine with it too, as I can use the vanity/desk for both mundane and “magical” things. I can type up my stories at my desk, but also be able to work with religion there. I enjoy the functionality to have both things available in one small package.

Plus, for once I actually have a nice little setup that works for everything.

So therefore I will post a few photos sometime very soon. It’s going to be really nice to have my room all set up for the first time ever.

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Playing around with Formatting

So I think I’m done playing with the formatting and theme of this blog for a while. I like how it looks now, and it really needed an update of some sort. So this is good.

This has just been a little notice, and I’m going to try blogging something more topical later tonight, or tomorrow after I’m done assembling my bed.

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Candle Magic

So I’ve decided, given the decided lack of space to store magical implements (and the fact that my desk/vanity/altar-type thing is currently storing a lot of my things, so no room there either) I am going to improvise on candles, incense and all assorted magics. I think my ancestors would appreciate ingenuity, so I don’t mind this.

I own a Scentsy–one of those fancy little light-heated scented wax burners.

Scentsy - Music themed

Scentsy – Music themed

This is what mine looks like. I’ve had it since high school…or maybe it was my freshman year of college. Well, in any case, I’ve had it at least 5 years now. I love it, and it’s very handy. My cat can sit right next to it and not burn herself, because she used to press her little kitty nose up against the hot glass of our fireplace when we used to have one back when I was a kid in my first house. So this is safer for her, and safer for me. Not to mention, I can buy all sorts of scented wax and swap them out, without having to buy tons of candles.

And, resourceful, indeed. I can combine incense and candle magic in one, as I wish.

It’s something I can have out in the open and not concern anyone who sees it. Until I’ve more settled and better organized my stuff, this is a good thing to use. Plus, I can buy little scented wax cubes for far cheaper than candles, and they’re easier to swap out than candles too, at least so I think.

This is a thought that just came to me a bit ago, while I was finishing putting items away from boxes and my suitcase.

And I’m actually rather proud of myself for realizing this (yes, simple pleasures in life, but I’ll take them).

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My Mini Hiatus

I didn’t mean to be gone so long.

My computer was out of commission. And right after I sort of got it working–I had to get some time to myself. Because we were moving. So for the last month I’ve been packing, boxing, searching for apartments, and then moving and unpacking. So that’s why I haven’t  been on this blog in the last month.

I’ll try to get back blogging regularly again.

It’s just a matter of getting myself back into the swing of things.

But I will start writing blog entries again very soon, I promise.

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Technical Difficulties

I know I’m really late on blog entries. I’m going to have to go on a hiatus until my laptop gets fixed.

It’s been put out of commission.

So until I get my computer fixed, I won’t have anything new to post, sorry everyone.

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