This essay is the result of meditations directly
linked to the process of writing my book, The Pagan Man. I'm not claiming that all Neopagans or very many
Mesopagans (mixed Christian-Pagan believers) will agree with
me, but these are my conclusions rooted in my religious beliefs
and polytheological speculations, informed by my research into
men's issues in the history of Western culture.
Being a Pagan man means, among many other
things, fighting for what one thinks is right and true, even
if one belongs to a religious and political minority, so I spend
a great deal of my time thinking about political issues and taking
what actions I can to support my beliefs, including writing political
essays rooted in my religious beliefs. Let me point out my biases
immediately for those of you who are unfamiliar with my writings.
I believe that those who have stolen the term "conservative"
as an excuse to glorify greed over generosity, competition over
cooperation, individuality over community, exploitation over
stewardship, and violence over peace, do not have a "divine
right" to rule either America or the rest of the planet,
no matter what their scriptures say. If I wanted to live in a
power-mad theocracy, there are several Middle Eastern nations
to which I could move (and where they would quickly kill me),
so obviously I don't support the Religious Reich in America any
more than I do the jihadists of the Middle East.
To this Neopagan, it's not moral for
some people to be obscenely wealthy while others starve, to use
up most of the world's resources to give a tiny fraction of its
population a luxurious life, or to destroy entire ecosystems,
and perhaps the Earth's very ability to sustain life, in order
to fatten the secret bank accounts of people who already have
more money than they will ever be able to spend. To anyone who
pays attention, it is also clear that those working class and
middle class folks who dream of being wealthy someday, and who
thus vote to support the policies beloved of multinational corporations
and the super-rich, are being bamboozled by clever propaganda--for
99% of them will die only slightly better-off than their parents
and grandparents, if not worse.
Some relevant ancient history
Indo-European myths (those of the Paleopagan
Celts, Germans, Norse, Latins, Greeks, Slavs, etc.) commonly
describe social and cultural conflict between the members of
a "clergy" caste/class, who were the intellectuals,
artists, judges, priests and priestesses, etc., and those of
the "warrior" caste/class, who defended their tribes
and attacked others (see my essay Indo-European
Paleopaganism and its Clergy for an overview, and consult
the works of Georges
Dumezil and his followers for details on this).
As I say in The Pagan Man:
This time period (from about 2000 BCE to 500
- 1000 CE, depending on what IE territory you are looking at)
is as far back as we can trace the war between the geeks and
the jocks that goes on even today. The results of this conflict
varied in different places.
In Ancient Rome, the warriors became more
important than the clergy and most of the latter became governmental
functionaries or political appointees. This seems to have gone
along with the "historization" of Roman myths, whereby
various deities became described as mortals in the stories (see
Archaic Roman Religion, by Dumezil).
In the Celtic cultures, the clergy and the
warriors seemed to have been in a state of balance (in that neither
side was depicted in the myths as more important than the other),
at least until the Romans arrived in the first century BCE, which
is when we first begin to have detailed knowledge of the Celts.
Julius Caesar knew that the traveling members of the druid classes
(mostly bards, storytellers, and visiting judges) of Hispania
(what we now know as Spain and Portugal) had made the Empire's
conquest of their Celtic territory harder, by warning tribes
further away from the battle lines of what was to come--"Don't
trust these Roman guys, they don't fight fair!" Logically
enough, when Julius Caesar decided to invade Gaul he also decided
to kill every druid he got his hands on, unless they were willing
to become "native guides" for him and his army.
Over the next century or so, the Romans slaughtered
members of the druidic class (throughout Gaul and the parts of
Britain that they conquered) by the hundreds and the thousands,
wiping out the native intelligentsia before conquering the tribes.
Later, the Roman Church was to wage a centuries-long battle against
the Irish and Welsh druids, finally converting, killing, or banishing
the last of them by 600 CE or so.
The Romans weren't able to conquer the Germanic
tribes, but the job of suppressing the clergy class was done
by the Germans themselves. That is to say, the competition between
the clergy and the warrior classes in the Germanic/Norse cultures
was "won" by the warriors. By the early medieval period,
Germanic Paleopagan clergy spent most of their time attending
to local shrines dedicated to specific deities. The majority
of religious activities were led by the male or female heads
of households, or tribal chieftains acting as clergy. There were
skalds (equivalent to the Celtic bards or poets) attached
to the households of tribal leaders, much as the fili
(poets) later were in medieval Ireland. There were some traveling
soothsayers/prophets, usually women, called volvas who
practiced a form of divination and oracular trance possession
called seidh. This eventually became associated predominantly
with women and effeminate men, because the magical techniques
usually involved passivity and receptivity rather than assertive
The Germanic tribes known as the Angles, the
Saxons, the Jutes, as well as the Scandinavian Vikings took these
attitudes with them when they conquered what became the British
Isles. Magical and spiritual matters (other than battle magic)
was considered to be of interest only to women and those weak
intellectual men the warriors kept in their places as poets or
Later in The Pagan Man I point out:
Among the Norse and Germanic peoples, passive/receptive
homosexuality was looked down upon by the warriors, while active
partners of such men were given free rein. It was "unmanly"
to be passive and receptive, which is why the seidh system
of shamanic divination was considered an unfit occupation for
males (despite the story about Odin being taught seidh
by Freyja). Diana Paxson, a leader in the Norse Neopagan community,
has these important notes to make in an essay entitled Sex,
Status, and Seidh: Homosexuality and Germanic Religion:
"Late Norse homophobia seems to be inextricably
connected to late Norse misogyny. Femaleness and Magic were both
severely repressed and thrust into the dark, chthonic realm of
the unconscious, which therefore became a place of horror and
fear. This represents a major shift from the situation in most
Pagan cultures, which recognized and valued chthonic [underworld]
and liminal [borderline] power, and saw in it a necessary balancing
aspect of spirituality. Perhaps the degree to which horror of
'woman's magic' is expressed in the Saga period provides a measure
of the prestige in which women's spiritual power was held in
Clearly in a traditional culture the criminality
of sexual behavior depends less on the gender of the partners
than on their relative social status-their freedom to refuse.
Whether any act (of sex or magic) is considered shameful depends
on the status of those with whom it is typically associated in
that society. If women are defined by a culture as submissive,
and if one considers women inferior, then it becomes shameful
for a person of socially superior status (a male) to submit sexually."
Much of this is related to mammalian power
and status displays. The "top dog" is such because
he has the power to mate, forcibly if he wishes, with all the
other dogs, male and female alike. The ancient conflict between
the warriors and the clergy castes explains more than just why
modern Pagan men might be ambivalent about Pagan priesthood and
why Germanic/Anglo/Latin cultures are so homophobic. It also
explains why the general American, British, and Latin American
public don't elect many liberals or most women to high office,
and why male homophobia towards gay men is qualitatively different
than that towards lesbians.
"Effete intellectual snobs"
Despite loud claims to the contrary by conservative
pundits, most intellectuals are, in fact, political and social
liberals. Liberalism requires long-term thinking, looking at
complex solutions to complex problems, and paying attention to
group welfare rather than just individual welfare. These mental
skills are all different from warrior-thinking, which is why
university environments throughout the Western world are full
of liberals, except for the obligatory campus jocks and contrarian
the belief that all topics have only two, completely irreconcilable,
sides to them, then pushes members of both the liberal and the
conservative groups to ever more-extreme positions.
Intellectuals in Germanic/Anglo/Latin cultures
are only allowed to be "under" the warriors, never
"on top." So when a politician talks about the need
for a sensitive analysis of complex issues, rather than just
hitting The Enemy over the head with clubs, swords, or bombs,
he is instantly suspected of not being "tough" enough
to lead the warriors--not just because "tough men don't
think hard" (as amply demonstrated by George W. Bush) but
because on a very deep subconscious level, the top warrior is
the top dog who gets to force the other males and all females
to be passive receptacles. Being led by an intellectual or a
woman is an insult to their manhood because it violates the pack
order they see as based on implied or overt force.
The few public intellectuals who have ever
been elected President of the United States, such as Thomas Jefferson,
Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy (all of whom, by an odd
coincidence, are seen today as having been "liberals"),
managed to bury their intellects under tough images, enabling
them to be seen as "smart" rather than intellectual.
Being a smart man is considered okay in America and England,
because it is associated with becoming wealthy, which
is almost as manly as being a warrior (inheriting wealth is somewhat
suspicious, because you do it as a son, who is a dependent, not
a ruler). Benjamin Franklin, who started out being seen as a
smart man for the inventions that made him wealthy, made the
"mistake" of becoming America's first and most famous
scientist, and thus an intellectual. Even worse, he became a
diplomat, the one occupation for which warriors have the most
contempt (because they sometimes prevent wars and thus diminish
opportunities for glory). All of this led to him becoming what
has been called, "The most famous President of the United
States who was never President of the United States."
When a smart man tricks his way into the White
House (usually by being seen as "a good old boy") and
accidentally reveals himself to be an intellectual, he becomes
the target of rabid political campaigns designed to drive him
from office or prevent him from being re-elected, as the United
States saw with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
The terror of feminine power
So it now becomes obvious why women find it
so hard to be elected to high office in the Anglo/Germanic-Latin
cultures. Women warriors in the ancient Indo-European cultures
were objects of both fascination and dread to the male warriors.
When they were seen as both mighty warriors and highly heterosexual,
such as the Irish goddess Morrigan or the British one Brigantia,
they were revered and even loved, for they still "needed"
men sexually even if they didn't need them for protection.
Consider the character of Eowyn in Tolkein's
Lord of the Rings. During the earlier parts of the story
she established her feminine credentials as a nurse for her father
Theodin, then spent several chapters mooning after the unattainable
but very manly Aragorn. When she finally rides off to battle
with the men (still being womanly by caretaking the hobbit/child
substitute), her dramatic action in slaying the worst of the
evil warrior-wizards "who could not be slain by a man"
is acceptable and the audience bursts into applause. Afterwards,
she is "fixed up with" another brave male warrior who
will go back home with her to rule the nation her father bequeathed
Why, by the way, is the King of the Nazgul
as malevolent a sub-character as Tolkein could devise? Because
to warriors, wizards who use magic to "cheat" in battle
are contemptible intellectuals, reversing the natural order of
things by "topping" the warriors. This is probably
why Gandalf the White, supposedly the greatest living wizard
on the side of the Forces of Good, actually does so little magic
in the story--what he does is either harmless entertainment or
directed exclusively against magical threats which are unnatural
to begin with. After all, he drove the dragons away with his
magical laser beams, why couldn't he have driven the giant elephants
away? ("Because he was wearing a dress?" asks Phaedra.)
But in contrast to "safe" women
warriors, the Amazons of ancient myth were tough warriors who
didn't need men at all, either because they were lesbians or
because they "used" men for their sperm before killing
or driving them away. Women like them were despised as evil,
unnatural monsters who were to be raped and/or killed, not followed
into battle. Hence we see why homophobic men just sneer at "fem"
lesbians, actively hate "dykes," and are often obsessed
sexually with bisexual women.
So for women to succeed in politics, they
must seen as tough (but not too tough) fighters and as
emphatically heterosexual mothers and/or subordinate lovers-not
equals-of powerful men. Then, as long as they are willing to
be told what to do by the male leaders of the warrior class,
they are acceptable and can even be presented as "proof"
of how unbiased the warriors are towards women (think Margaret
Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, and Golda Meir). One of the reasons
that so many political conservatives are so rabid about Hillary
Clinton is precisely because she is "too tough" and
is not subordinate enough to her husband.
All of this also relates to the fear and dread
that the warrior class has towards the feminist movement, for
it threatens to put more women into "unnatural" positions
of power over them.
Vive la France?
But what about the French? How did they escape
from so much of this hatred of intellectuals and its intertwined
homophobia? Why are their politics so liberal and their attitudes
towards homosexuality so blasé? The answer lies in the
classes that most intellectuals and warriors forget about except
when they want something from them: the producers and the serfs,
or as we think of them these days, the "middle and lower
"Awake ye sons of France to glory, hark,
hark, what myriads bid ye rise! Behold your wives and grandsires
hoary, behold their tears and hear their cries. Shall hateful
tyrants mischief breeding, with hireling hosts (a ruffian band),
affright and desolate the land, while Peace and Liberty lie bleeding?
To arms! To arms, ye bold! The avenging sword unsheath! March
on, march on, all hearts resolved--on victory or death!"
This is one version of what became the French
national anthem, "Le Marseillaise," in the 18th century.
Many different versions of the song were written. These are the
English lyrics I learned as a child and still love (no, I can't
sing it in French). Compare it with "The Internationale,"
which was to become the rallying cry of union workers and Marxists
in the 20th century:
"Arise ye prisoners of starvation, arise
ye wretched of the earth. Justice thunders condemnation, there's
a better world in birth. No more tradition's chains shall bind
us, arise ye slaves, no more in thrall. The world shall rise
on new foundations--ye have been naught, ye shall be all."
In 1789, over 25,000,000 French people were
peasants barely surviving in the countryside. A few thousand
members of the clergy and warrior classes lived in opulent luxury,
supported by a small middle class of shopkeepers and servants,
mostly in the cities. This wasn't all that different, except
perhaps in the population extremes, from the situation in much
of the rest of Europe. So what happened?
There are many, many ways to explain the French
Revolution (a good starting point for research is the Liberty,
Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution website),
but here's an aspect of it that has occurred to me. For 4,000
years the Indo-European clergy and the warriors were allies,
however uncomfortably. In the 1780s, however, French intellectuals
who were just plain tired of the Church's control of science
and philosophy, "betrayed" their religious brothers
in the clergy class and made an alliance with the producer and
serf classes to overthrow both the Church and the warrior class
(the nobility). They actually succeeded, mostly because of the
sheer numbers of warm (lower class) bodies they could throw at
the warriors. The intellectuals then proceeded to make a mess
of things, mostly because they couldn't make the leap from generating
fine-sounding theories to leading a nation of ignorant and uneducated
people, while trying to keep the warriors who had risen from
the lower classes under control. They even tried to make a Mesopagan
version of Roman Paleopaganism the new faith of France!
Eventually, the Church and the warrior class
managed to regain much of their former power, aided by the new
merchant class, but something remarkable had happened. Intellectuals
had become national heroes and the French people continued to
consider artists, poets, scientists, and philosophers as important
members of society who should be listened to. Even more, atheism
and agnosticism became respectable attitudes, which considerably
weakened the hold of dualism on public thinking. The ultimate
results, as far as this discussion is concerned? Intellectuals
became social, political, and cultural leaders and "liberal"
political, economic, social, and sexual attitudes gradually became
the norm. France defined itself as the "civilized"
country and got more than a bit snooty towards other nations
That is why, despite the honorable history
of French military men (who won half of the American Revolution
for us, after all) when most Americans and British people think
of French men and the French nation, they think of them as "perverts,"
who reversed the natural order by letting a bunch of pointy-headed
intellectuals boss the warriors around and ruin their protection
racket. Certainly many people have never forgiven the French
for making religion subordinate to the needs of the people, or
for weakening the memetic power of dualism, so they insist that
the French "must be" immoral and degenerate. (For information
on memes, go to http://www.memes.org. If it's offline when you
go there, wait a few days and try again. For some odd reason,
this most subversive of websites tend to get kicked offline a
May the best man win?
Can you see why a presidential candidate such
as John Kerry, who was complex, subtle, slow to decide his positions
on things and--horror of horrors!-who even spoke French, was
doomed from the beginning? The warrior and merchant classes who
rule America, along with their allies in the Religious Reich,
have worked hard to promote a dualist, anti-intellectual culture
of short-sighted, simplistic thinking. If the phrase "ruling
classes" shocks or offends you, I'm sorry--were you one
of those people who fantasizes that America has no classes? Or
that anyone mentioning the existence of classes is "trying
to whip up class warfare," rather than just mentioning the
centuries-old class war already going on?
In any event, our rulers' memetic efforts,
rooted in Christian dualism and Anglo/Germanic homophobia, have
successfully created one of the most virulently anti-intellectual
cultures in human history. Being able to associate any other
kind of thinking than their own with effeminacy, weakness, and
the Forces of Evil is a remarkable accomplishment of memetic
engineering in social, political, and religious control, which
is why dualism has been so popular with the Christian churches
and Islam for so long. And then, after centuries of dualistic
religious, political, and philosophical systems ruling the world,
us darned Neopagans have to show up and start promoting complexity,
sensuality, and personal religious freedom. No wonder the members
of the Religious Reich hate us so much!
So here's a Clue-by-Four for the Democratic,
Green, and Libertarian Parties in the USA: Start doing some memetic
engineering of your own! Start spreading slogans that praise
complexity, the wisdom of thinking before acting, and the equivalence
of all fundamentalisms. Start recalling the heroic images of
the early political activists who fought for the working classes
and the poor.
Start promoting your candidates as "heroes,"
but not as "warriors" in the traditional military sense.
Don't make the mistake of promoting your liberal or libertarian
candidates as warriors, because those voters who identify with
the military mindset will always be more loyal to the warrior
class and its conservative leaders than to the welfare of the
general population as a whole (hence the "Swiftboat Veterans
for Propaganda"). "Renegade" military men who
criticize the military--for anything, ever, but especially
if their claims are justified--are the kiss of death for the
If your candidates were born rich, emphasize how they increased
the family fortune by successfully competing in the marketplace
with tough opponents. Promote your candidates as "smart"
men who know how to use the knowledge and talents of their intellectual
subordinates, whom they keep firmly under control. This won't
work for female candidates, unfortunately, because American women,
like Islamic women must never be seen as "dominating"
a room with lots of men in it. This is why Hillary Clinton is
so hated by right-wing extremists in America, and why women in
Islamic governments are targets of assassinations.
Above all, fight dualism! Get your memes into
the memepool with mainstream and underground journalists making
fun of black-or-white thinking habits. Those habits are precisely
why political mudslinging works: if an opposing candidate can
be shown to have anything wrong with him or her at all,
then everything about them must be wrong and "their
side" must be The Forces of Evil. Stop letting the media
use the phrase, "both sides of the question," and start
insisting on discussing all sides of any given problem
instead. Demand that the cable and internet news political discussion
shows have at least three or four political viewpoints represented.
The so-called "culture wars" are
actually memewars between two major memeplexes (dualism and pluralism)
and a host of other, smaller memeplexes, all striving to become
the dominant mental species that rules the world's minds. This
is why Islamic Jihadists and Christian Reconstructionists/Dominionists
have more in common with each other than either group has with
their mainstream co-religionists, and why those who would save
the world from terrorists and fascists alike had best start looking
at the memes they unconsciously hold.
The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters,
and Drummers is published by Citadel
Press (Kensington Press). The ISBN is 0-8065-2697-1.
It is distributed by all the major book distributors. Autographed
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