Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We need to talk about Asatru

For years now - longer than I have called myself Pagan - there have been a few issues that rise and fall as assuredly as our seasons. There's the "Silver Ravenwolf is a terrible author" thing and the "Is a wand/athame associated with fire/air" thing and the "What does 'Pagan' mean" thing and so on. These topics come up, get everyone all hot and bothered for a bit, and then disappear waiting to go unsolved another day. There are a few topics, though, that don't come up very often because they're less fun to debate online. Things like consent and sex and homophobia and racism. One of those topics is back, and it's time we stopped avoiding it. 

There is an uncomfortable correlate between Asatru and racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

Before you stop reading, turn red in the face, and start blowing up my comments section, please note: I did not say Asatru = racism. I did not say all Heathens or Nordic Pagans are homophobic or promote xenophobia. I'm not advocating anything of the sort. However, one of the dirty secrets of the Pagan umbrella is that there is an uncomfortable correlate between white supremacist views and those that identify as Asatru/Heathen/Nordic Pagan. 

Earlier this week the Asatru Folk Association caused quite a bit of uproar in the online Pagan community when Matt Flavel, one of the new heads of the Asatru Folk Assembly replacing Stephen McNallen, made some pretty homophobic, transphobic, and outwardly racist remarks on social media. 

And, it might be easy to get upset at these statements, and the comments that followed, as though they are something new. But...Asatru's founder, McNallen, has always espoused ideas of genetic purity, which seems to have been a kind of dog whistle to those in and around our community over the last several decades that buy into ultra-conservative ideals of eschewing anything that is the "other".   

However, I wonder if it is fair for those of us that identify as broadly Pagan to cry foul and seek to police the behavior and beliefs of those that con scribe the term Asatru. McNallen has said his movement doesn't really fit in with broader, more eclectic or inclusive, Paganism. From his interview with Margot Adler in her book Drawing Down the Moon:  

"We're not eclectic. You won't find tarot or astrology or I Ching incorporated in Asatru - not because they're not valid or powerful, but because they aren't ours. That isn't to say of course that an Odinist can't utilize these systems as an individual, but they're not a part of Asatru."  

Though, for someone who says he's not eclectic, McNallen then immediately said you could label Asatru as "Norse Shinto".  

In other areas of Heathenry, views are even more pointedly racist. Adler discusses The Odinist Fellowship, which had an article that said:  

"The most distinguishable feature of Odinism is that for the first time a religion has declared itself founded upon the concept of race, with its correlation to culture and civilization. Without race there is nothing' therefore our first duty is a study of race and the significance of Aryan people to world history."  

And it should be noted that the AFA, at least during the printing of Drawing Down the Moon, said in its values, "Kinship is better than alienation...Ancestry is better than universalism," which, to some, may seem somewhere between ironic and hypocritical.   

There are a lot of places where we can look down our noses at this behavior. We, as the broader Pagan community. Today, SJ Tucker found my Project Pagan Enough movement, and reminded folks that it is about inclusivity and discussion. The word "Pagan" in the modern context includes a wide swath of people and belief systems, which is impressive for a group that accounts for something like 0.3% of the total United States population.   

We are Voodoo and Appalachian Granny magic and Greek Reconstructionist and Wiccan and Christo-Pagan and Vaguely Spiritual-But-Not-Religious and points between and yon. We are an impressive range of humanity huddled under a tiny Pagan umbrella. And, yes, it still covers Heathens, Asatru, Odinists, and Nordic Pagans until such time as it doesn't.   

But, we need to stop pretending like everyone under the umbrella believes and espouses the same things. We need to stop acting like we don't have topics we sweep under the rug. We need to address, head on, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia where it exists. We need to do it with discussion and level heads, while also drawing a very clear line of what is and isn't acceptable.    And we need to do it both as a group and from inside the Asatru (et al) movement.

See, the Asatru (et al) community is also saying "Listen, we believe differently than the rest of you inclusive Pagans, and that needs to be respected." Ok. I get it. You've created your space where you get to say and believe whatever you want no matter how deplorable the rest of us find it, and I'm actually glad of that. I'm glad that we live in a country and time where even outwardly bigoted views can be protected.   

But...and this is important...if you believe as I do, that inclusivity and diversity is a beautiful thing, and you also identify as Asatru, Odinist, Nordic Pagan, Heathen, or some unknown-to-me-but-still-adjacent term, I implore you to reach out to your fellows in that community. Engage in respectful dialogue. Many of the beliefs and practices that form the basis of the more xenophobic ideals existing in aspects of Heathenry are either misunderstood or simply come from a time, place, and society that might need to be updated a bit for modern culture.   

We say this about other religions all the time. "Well, the Bible needs to be viewed in the context of the day..." Same with Odinism. Filter the teachings and lore through a modern lens. Take from it the teachings of strength and equality and magic that are there...and perhaps leave behind the McNallen-ish views of racism, genetic purity, and xenophobia.     

But, again, I'm an eclectic modern Pagan. While it is my place to discuss the dirty laundry of the Pagan community as a Pagan, it's time that those in our community who share Odinist beliefs but don't share racist ideology to stop sitting on the sidelines and start engaging. Start telling others, as Lupa said on his blog, this is #notmypaganism.   

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Episode 103: Inciting An Unforgiving Riot

Episode 103 finds us Inciting An Unforgiving Riot. I throw it back to a discussion from 2012 regarding forgiveness and discuss not only my personal issues surrounding the cultural notion and impetus to forgive, but whether forgiveness should be the final result in all situations.

News: Private Prisons

Word of the Day: imprecation

Sociology: Safe Space

Poetry: While I wait to be a god again

Spirituality: Unforgiveness  

Feedback: War Room

More information about Chicago's Pagan Pride can be found at ChicagoPaganPride.org!

Big thanks to Nicole Youngman for reaching out and being a resource. To learn more about how YOU can help the victims of the recent flooding, please visit Together Baton Rouge:

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter

Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not Your Safe Space

Right now the Olympic games are happening in Brazil, and they're all anyone can talk about. Michael Phelps has now earned enough gold medals that I think he gets one free. Simone Biles is absolutely everything. So many stories have come from the games. Alongside the usual emotionally stirring tales of personal triumph have been headlines causing stomachs to turn all across the globe. From the sexism to the racism to the poverty porn, there's been almost as much to denigrate as to celebrate about these games. However, one conversation that sparked this past week has really grabbed at my core.

Gay Safe Spaces

This all started with an article from The Daily Beast that I cannot even link to because The Daily Beast took it down. However, I'll link to an article from Slate discussing the article from The Daily Beast, because it does a pretty decent job of telling you what the article said and why it is problematic. Here's a quick summary of the facts, quoting from the Slate article:

On Thursday morning, the Daily Beast published an exceedingly gross and bizarre article by a straight, married male writer who lured in gay Olympians through hookup apps for no particular purpose. The entire piece is an astoundingly creepy exercise in Grindr-baiting, which involves a journalist accessing Grindr in an unlikely setting and … seeing what happens. But the Daily Beast piece, penned by Nico Hines, is a uniquely disgusting and irresponsible entry into the tired genre. Hines entices his (often closeted) subjects under false pretenses; effectively outs several closeted athletes who live in repressive countries; then writes about the whole thing in a tone of mocking yet lurid condescension.
Cutting to the chase, this article has set off an astonishing level of conversation on the topic of straight people's desire to treat the LGBT community as some kind of zoo.

The Gay Zoo

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Dysmorphic's Guide to Exercise

This is mostly sculpted from digital clay. Seriously. I do not look like this.
Many of you that follow me on social media know by now my love of the medium. I share thoughts, recipes, altar snapshots, selfies, political feedback, news, selfies, current events, Pokemon GO challenges, selfies, and...in the last year...I've started to share a lot more about my healthy habits.

Via selfies.

It was all going fine until folks started telling me these dreaded words: "You inspire me."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Problematic Non-Coming Out of Tyler Posey

Meet Tyler Posey.

You may know his face from one of two places:

  1. You're the world's biggest fan of the movie Maid in Manhattan where he plays Jennifer Lopez's son. 
  2. You are a teenager with access to MTV and a love of seeing sculpted young hunks get all homoerotic on screen. 
He's the star of the MTV revival of Teen Wolf, which has become famous for...well... 

The cast is notoriously young muscular and spends more time shirtless, sweaty, and finding new ways to turn everyday actions into flexing opportunities than Taylor Lautner trying to keep his job in Twilight. 

The show has a history of cultivating and advocating LGBTQ+ inclusive storylines, and, thus, has earned itself quite the LGBTQ+ following. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Episode 102: Inciting A Brexit Riot

Episode 102 finds us Inciting A Brexit Riot. I spend 90 minutes discussing what led up to the recent decision by the UK to leave the European Union, how it happened, and what the future holds for the UK and around the world. 

Please forgive some of the audio quality. It's obvious that Skype voted Leave and didn't want us to have a clear connection. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, June 13, 2016

night in their world (and thoughts on Orlando)

The incomprehensible tragedy in Orlando is still very fresh. People don’t know how to feel, or how to express what they are able to feel. Do you express hope for the future? Lament the past? Sit in the moment? Qualifying one of the worst mass tragedies in modern memory is impossible. At least…for me. 
I actually started receiving text messages and emails of solidarity from friends and allies long before I heard the news about Orlando first hand. And of all the messages and voices and memes and social media posts I’ve seen, one message rang the most true. It went something like: If you don’t understand how a club can be a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid of holding someone’s hand in public. 
And that brought to mind a poem I wrote my freshman year of college. It’s included in my book, The Playground. It came about after I was physically reminded that I am not – or was not – allowed to exist in all spaces. I was not welcome, and my mere presence was seen as come kind of threat. 
And it is in that space where I am beginning to process the fact that in 2016, in our own places of sanctuary, we are just as vulnerable and just as endangered as ever. These spaces are just as important as ever. And when you hear your LGBT friends or family complaining about an influx of bachelorette parties or a heterosexual gentrification of our neighborhoods, bars, and clubs…it’s because we still need space. Not to pick up a one night stand, or to get drunk, or to dance half naked to an electronic beat…or to do all those things…or none of those things…or whatever we want to do in a space that is ours. A space that isn’t yours. A space that isn’t just a fun night out with the girls to look at the pretty dancing boys. 
And…it’s ok that it’s our space still. It’s ok that you are going to be a visitor in that space. You don’t need to complain about it or wonder about it. If you question why we feel that way, look at Orlando. Look at Pride. Look at why we need a space where we feel protected in the arms and dance floor of sanctuary.
night in their world
never tasted brick before
I was shoved into it
and forced
to walk into the rain.
I know this happens
I know that simply being alive
provokes the tipped words to fly
but there was a moment
when all I did
was stare at this guy
the one on the dance floor
who, with the slightest misstep,
would have become the
last part of the phrase
State of West Virginia v. __________
I always thought that if such a situation
were to arise
that my anger would take over
as though I were some comic book hero
and I would not be the kid that “this” happened to.
I wondered all this
as I left
drove a few blocks
and sat on the cheap barstool
swiveled around
looking at the walls I was allowed to thrive in.
Love and Lyte,
Fire Lyte

Friday, June 3, 2016

I am not your story.

About two months ago, there was a meme going around Facebook telling users that they all had a secret message inbox of which they were probably not aware. I followed the steps. I found that I, indeed, had many years' worth of backlogged, unanswered messages both as Fire Lyte and in my mundane life. It is a message in my mundane inbox that has been festering at the back of my brain since I received it. A message that immediately made me curse at my computer screen. A message that has thrown me, at speed and with force, around the spectrum of wanting to be seen as a quintessentially good person and wanting to be selfish. A message...of apology.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Episode 101: Inciting David Salisbury's Riot

Episode 101 finds us inciting David Salisbury's riot! David is a pagan author and civil rights activist, and I was so honored to speak with him on a range of topics in and out of the pagan community.

His new book, A Mystic Guide to Cleansing and Clearing, will be available later this year.

You can also find David this July at Temple Fest.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Great Debate: Representation of Witches and Pagans in Media

What follows is an opinion piece I did for episode 100 of my podcast. It should be noted, there are no sources cited nor studies quoted. I did not do any kind of polling, in depth academic research, or anything resembling something fit for peer review. These are simply my views in regards to the ongoing, unceasing, perennial conversation on the representation of witches and pagans in the media. 

Your mileage can, and should, vary, but I hope this at least inspires a conversation. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Episode 100: Inciting A Disambiguated Riot

Episode 100 - Inciting A Disambiguated Riot

News: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles, WV & Mississippi allowing guns without permits,  Religious Freedom bills in NC, Missippi, and Georgia; Justice Scalia died, Siri gets a little more compassionate

WOTD: alacrity

Sociology: FBI v Apple

Poetry: denouement 

Spirituality: Witchy Disambiguation 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter

Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Note about Facebook

Attention All Rioters!

I get it.

You're concerned.

You've not seen me on Facebook in a week or so.

To allay any fears, let me answer your questions here:






OK I don't think that last one needed to be said, but just in case you were wondering.

Folks, the Real Name Police on Facebook finally caught up with me. I'm attempting to get the situation rectified, if for nothing else than maintaining control of the Riot's official Facebook page. 

Many of you have emailed, tweeted, sent smoke signals, and otherwise communicated with me at your VERY SERIOUS ALARM that I've not been on Facebook. (I won't pretend there isn't both a social commentary and a lesson on how much time I should be spending on social media somewhere in all this.) 

For the time being, you can keep up with me on Twitter, here on the blog, or through my artistic endeavors in my various Torch & Paintbrush presences. 

Thank you all for your concern. I'm not dead.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Episode 99: Inciting A Parental Riot

Episode 99 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast brings us another roundtable discussion. Today's topic? 


Special thanks to our parents - Marie, Rommy, and Ross (of Oh No! Ross & Carrie)

News: North Korea H-Bomb, Obama gun control, Alabama attempts to ban gay marriage, Armaan Singh Sarai, Knightscope K5 security bot

WOTD: singular ‘they’

Sociology: #OregonUnderAttack

Also, a special thanks to Cory of New World Witchery and Greywolf Moonsong for helping make today's sociology segment a sordid affair. 

Episode 100 is right around the corner! Send in your favorite moments from the last 99 episodes! You can submit an audio comment as well! 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Friday, January 1, 2016

Episode 98: Inciting A Circular Riot

Episode 98 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast finds Literary Maven, Vinna Harper, joining us once again to count down the biggest themes of the year. 
We give a shout out to the Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year, count down Vinna's favorite books of 2015, and help out Baby New Year by listing all the things it should avoid if it doesn't want to suck.

Also, this episode includes a discussion with myself, Vinna, and our friend Aine who are all members of my circle. We talk about what it's like to go from solitary to working in a group, and give some advice about forming your own. 

Happy New Year, Rioters!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Blog: IncitingARiot.com
@IncitingARiot on Twitter
Subscribe/Rate/Comment on iTunes: http://bit.ly/iTunesRiot

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Most Interesting Pagan Books Ever (an informal survey)

The end of a year brings about a lot of lists. The most important famous-for-doing-nothing people of 2015. The best cupcakes in the neighborhood. The 15 worst fights of Black Friday madness.

Many Pagan blogs like to put out their annual lists as well, and I was very tempted to do something similar. My favorite pagan moments? Best spells cast of 2015? Wildest Social Media Rants by Fire Lyte?! But, no. I decided instead to let you, the Rioter community, put together this year's list with one little rule: Give me the most interesting book on your Pagan book shelf.

Many people were confused.

See, I have found that if you ask someone what the "best" or "favorite" Pagan book is, you get a pretty shallow group of names. The same 5-10 authors pop up in these lists, depending on whether the creator of said list leans more heavily on intro books by major publishers or more esoteric books and indie publishers. The term "interesting", however, got people thinking.

And...gosh...you all really put some effort into this list. There are familiar names like Margot Adler and Judika Illes (whose name has been giving my computer's autocorrect an absolute panic attack). There are former Riot guests like Signe Pike. Friends of the Riot like Peter Paddon and Phaedra Bonewits. And...then...there were a dozen or more authors whose names I'd never heard before.

So, this is a list that isn't counting down to anything. There is no ranking here. This is just a giant list of the books YOU, the most fabulous folks on the Pagan interwebs, put together.

If you don't see your favorite, please list it in the comments below! And also comment if you found a new favorite for your own collection.

Oh, one last thing. If any of the titles or author's names are misspelled, please feel free to correct me. Given the size of the list, I didn't have time to check each and every submission.

Blessed 2015 Rioters!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte