Monday, 1 September 2008

The Amberlady cont.

The pagan community is very different from any other religious community. There is no unifying authority to guide and teach, there is no centralised dogma which unites us. There is no source to which we may go to find out about being ‘pagan’. The pagan community is made up of many individuals all with differing religious leanings with only a few things in common. What organisations there are, act generally to put people in contact with each other to share ideas. What can be said to unite modern pagans is that they are making their own pathway towards a connection with the divine in whatever form they see it.

The pagan community has people who have been walking their path for decades and people who have only just begun. There is a long tradition of those with the experience and knowledge to share it, whether through books, through magazine articles, by giving talks at events or by simply going online and frequenting message boards where they can discuss with other like minded people and share what they know. It perhaps is not an ideal arrangement but it works; go to an online message board for a long period and you can see changes in people, a growing sense of confidence in themselves and their beliefs, a maturity and commitment. This happens because those who they communicate with in the many forms available are supportive and helpful. As a community we have got to help each other out.

This is where I feel Amberlady lets herself and the pagan community down.

Her general response to a mistaken idea or a persons belief she disagrees with is derision, insults and rudeness. Most often never followed up with corrective information or advice. She sees people like this as beneath her, not ‘proper pagans’ and as such treats them like something unsavoury she has trodden in. THAT is what really gets my goat about her, she has so much potential to further the development of the other pagans in the community - and yes they are pagans Amberlady, whether you think so or not – and yet she chooses not to and to choose the path or being obnoxious.


Fog Patches. said...

We may accept that it is the doom of paganism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to be forever a nebulous mess of pirated beliefs, extra-contextual epistemology, crushed velvet, bits of coloured glass stuck on the end of sticks and old blokes wandering around in dressing gowns and crowns declaring themselves king of something-or-other or - and this is controversial if I read the zeitgeist correctly - we can recognise that some things are true, that some things are false, and that as pagans wish to be treated as adults they should damn well start behaving like adults and not throw a sulky fit every time someone comes along who disagrees with them.

I have not met Amberlady and I may not comment upon her character with any authority but I suspect that, going on from the no-nonsense nature of her posts, that I would get on well with her where others do not. The thing is that she respects truth, and by truth I don’t mean this wishy-washy relativist crap about feelings but about hard truths of fact and reason which Amberlady, you and I respect. Anyone who feels this way, who is scornful of the idea of idiosyncratic truths provides an existential threat to the majority of pagans. If there is one common factor which identifies a pagan as fluffy it is this idea that truth is tailored to the twit who speaks it. We do other people no favours by keeping shtum or mouthing aphorisms in pretence that the latest hairball they’ve coughed up as their paganism-de-jour is somehow as legitimate as a scholarly treatise or as a scientific study or as a thousand years of continuous tradition.

When we see people making public fools of themselves and of their fellows in the pagan community, when we see them publicly rendering heartfelt religious traditions down to the level of live action role-playing we should say something. As you point out, there are no teaching orders because there is no orthodoxy, but this does not mean that anything which may be enunciated is as worthy of consideration and respect as anything else and should not be challenged. If people wish to take their valuable time and correct others in their errors, as Amberlady does, then I applaud them. If they wish to take a little humour for themselves in the doing then I think that is fair payment for the valuable service which they are providing to the future of tradition. I would rather be profoundly insulted by Amberlady on a point of history than be given a thumbs-up emoticon from the ignorant and po-faced Reiki Retard.

lee said...

i completely agree on the dangers of becoming a nebulous pile of pap. i dont hold with the idea that everything is true to the individual. not everyone can be right, somebody has to be wrong - it goes without saying. sooner of later someones ideas will contradict someones elses and both cant be correct. etc.

i think dogma has become a dirty word to modern pagans. taklen in the sense of an authoriative and uniting idealogy i think really, it is pretty much what paganism needs - probably several dogmatic stanes to cover the major groupings. Wicca (the initiatory religon rather then the buy-a-book variety) has a centralised dogma and it works - there is a strong sense of consistency bewteen various covens. yes there is a degree of fluidity but you can go from one coven to another and see a very strong thread running through both groups. the same can also be said between Alexandrian and gardenarian too.

a group i am involved with is looking into this for brythonic traditions - gathering together people who are practicing and also studying in the academic sense to build some sort of unifying 'theology' - something that we can hold up and say is 'brythonic polytheism'.

i agree with both of the other paragraphs. my gripe as it were is that when Amberlady comes to correct people or raise a point they have made she disagrees with, it is generally in the manner of 'you're wrong. you are an idiot. you arent a proper pagan', and thats about it. no putting across of another viewpoint, no discussion of the subject. she has on a couple of ocasssions i can recall gotten herself involved, presented her ideas and backed them up with examples or historical writing etc. THAT is what i want her to be doing more, less of the insults and rudeness and more of the actual engagement with people.

if her entire contribution is to be obnoxious, without any discussion it would appear her whole reason for being on these message boards is purely to put people down - for whatever motive drives her - rather than to engage in discussion.

Fog Patches. said...

It is not the case that Amberlady’s entire contribution is obnoxious, however. We have both been at pains to point out how valuable we feel her contribution may be at times. Nobody is only a single thing. I think that we must accept that sometimes people who feel a responsibility to correct or obliterate nonsense find the quantity of stupidity on the internet quite overwhelming. We have both seen how obdurate people may be in their folly and correcting identical errors - which need correcting - gets very old after a while. Also, it’s often the case that the wider a person’s knowledge on a particular subject the less tolerant they are of error, sometimes to the point of walking away and allowing the idiocy to fester. More often than not Amberlady has been polite and proven herself patient but some people are so stubbornly poisonous and dogged in her pursuit - I cite BowelSting as an example here - that it’s not surprising that Amberlady appears curt in her responses.

There are trolls upon The Pagan Topic, Lee, but they aren't those whose names are most frequently discussed.

With regard to your Brythonic conference, what is its Arian heresy?

lee said...

bollocks, i did have a long reply but seems t have cocked it up. oh well.

i will have to be brief, have things to sort out for an exhibit tomorrow and have yet to finish.

1. at present i dont know that Al is so widely knowledgable.

2. in my experiene of dealing with a 'crowd' like that i either ignore or go elsewhere. rarely have i seen somene respond to such boredom by being a twat.

3. we have yet to spawn an Arius.

4. actually, scrub the last one, there is something happening in a months time which might do what Arius did.

Fog Patches. said...

I am sure that there are other people far more deserving of your ire, Lee.

Flag Fen? I have submitted a post to Ancestral Celt but I’m not entirely confident that it will pass moderation - in which case I would publish it on my own blog anyway.

Good luck with the exhibition.

lee said...

thats the one. the proposal is certaily an interesting breath of fresh air and has the feathers of TDN ruffled, probably because they fall into the catagory or 'everyones personal truth'.

Bo said...

Interesting post, Lee. On occasions AL is bracing but she's also high-handed, doctrinaire and a terrible bully, which I find tedious. Whenever she bangs on about how clever and learned she is as a 'Pagan Historian' I smile quietly to myself and say nothing.

Who are you on the Beeb? I'm Adanvae.

lee said...

tedious indeed. she has so much potential but i feel she wastes it by inflating her own ego by taking pot shots at the easy targets.

Im DraenenDdu


Fog Patches. said...

Come now - doesn’t that describe most of us? Mind you, everyone looks like an easy target these days. There are several exceptions but I tend to agree with those people.

I’m glad to say that my comment on Arius has passed moderation on AC. No sign of the sequel, though. I'm looking forward to reading your views.

I hope you’re having a good weekend, Lee. Mine’s going quite well. Someone keeps throwing Eldred at me, though. Poor bloke. Can't be good for him.

lee said...

i did expect AC to let it through, not like her to shy away from something she might see as challenging.

i will get around to responding to you on there at some point in a full manner.

weekend has been good so far - the mini exhibit in Lyndhurst went off very well. boss is very happy with the work i put in. made some children happy by offloading some of my excess duplicate specimens to them (filthy comments aside for now). really enjoyed the 'public outreach' style of the event. there is another in scarborough in october i think it is, of a much more limited scope thanks to the organisers (they only want Lias material rather then geographically local and so are missing out on the incredible productid brachiopods of the carboniferous - philistines!) though it should be a hoot.

yeah you have been getting me drive by postings havent you? i sure you will survive :)

Fog Patches. said...

Perhaps I am simply suspicious of the word moderation, despite being the soul of Temperance myself. The sequel, however, has a bigger budget and so more explosions and car chases, if you know what I mean.

I’m glad the work went so well for you.

Any bitch drive by here waving their posts at me I gonna heat up mah Dell and pop a key in their ass ain’t that the truth. Yo momma. (See - I can talk Ghetto just as well as Jimmy.)

lee said...

its the kind of day to watch films with explosions and car chases. i look forward to the next installment.

you talk ghetto good.

Bo said...

DraenenDdu eh? - I had you down as a gentle, slightly wistful young *woman*. How extraordinary!! (It may be because I looked at the - wholly correct, of course - mutation of 'du' and was thinking 'feminine noun' subconsciously.)

lee said...