There is a line dividing the Polytheist community. There are those among us who believe that humans, consent, and the personal sovereignty of human beings is sacred, and there are those who do not.
At Pantheacon, I had the misfortune of being a medium wedged between Hermes, and one of those Polytheists who do not.
It was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be Aphrodite and Hermes making dick jokes. And there was some of that.
But Diana Paxson’s husband happened in, and that is when everything went sideways.
I’m not a Heathen and I don’t read about anything going on in Heathenry. I want to respect my Norse friends, and keeping tabs on what Norse pundits are writing makes that really hard. So I didn’t, at that time, know about the women coming forward in Hrafnar. I heard later.
So here is what happened and I want to be clear — there were no victims.
This guy (he’s 70ish) starts fondling a 20-something who is carrying Aphrodite.
Hermes, while I’m carrying him, asks, “Hey, did you check to see if the medium was ok with that?”
Aphrodite starts to say that the medium is ok with it, and Hermes is in the middle of saying “OK, cool” but the train never leaves the station, because this asshat interrupted to say:
“What the medium wants isn’t important. Aphrodite is here now.”
Let me say a thing right here: Hermes is a happy go lucky god, which makes his anger surprising and terrifying.
My memory is hazy, even though I usually don’t check out during trance (for strongly held philosophical reasons), mostly because there was so much passionate anger that staying with the situation was a challenge. But the gist was this:
“Now look here, you little shit. People in your community got hurt because of attitudes like that. People are getting hurt. People’s consent has been violated. This is not okay. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING TO YOU?! Tell them. Tell all of them. Tell your wife. WE HAVE HAD IT.”
Dude bolted out of there like a bat out of hell.
I was told later that Hermes told the warder that said individual was not welcome back.
And then this guy went around saying that I was dangerous, and my Hermes wasn’t the real Hermes.
Because whether my Hermes is the real Hermes is so much more important than respecting hospitality, or a medium’s right to be consulted before fondling of her body occurs.
I’m not one to name names. But that line I talked about? He’s on the wrong side of it.
It’s not about the medium carrying Aphrodite. Thankfully, she was fine. It was the problematic attitude expressed by this man. I fully believe that under other circumstances, had no one stopped to check, had Aphrodite not been respectful and on point, had it been someone’s conception of a Love Goddess that didn’t actually care about human sovereignty and wellbeing, this could have ended very differently.
So go ahead, old man, call the being who told you that humans matter a demon. Based on where you come from (a certain Pan Polytheist community north of SF Bay), how can I be surprised?
Let me just say: I have stories…not as bad as some of what you said, but enough to make me wary…
Because of COURSE a Hermes who says consent is important and human agency matters is EVIL.
I mean… wtf.
This makes me so sad and sick. I am Norse pagan (I hesitate to say heathen) but don’t associate with the community because of dogmatism and disrespect like that. Hermes is the man. ❤
Just another dickwad man who should know better acting like he’s privileged and what a woman wants doesn’t matter because hey! she’s just a woman, right? Too bad Aphrodite didn’t put a knee in his balls a few times! I’m a Lokean and as far as I know Loki is NOT cool with that. If he was, I wouldn’t be a Lokean. IMHO, any god who tears down a person’s value isn’t worthy of devotion. And any man who claims that he can touch a woman without her consent because his god told him that he could is begging to be defenestrated and should be obliged. Damn I wish women would accept their worth and stop putting up with that crap! If the group you’re in tolerates that kind of bs WALK AWAY. If enough of you do it, things will change. You can always find another group or start your own. If you respect yourself then so will everyone else – including your gods. And if they don’t, to Hel with them!
The consent of the medium is ALWAYS important, and screw anyone, deity or human or other entity, who says otherwise.
Good to know that Hermes and Aphrodite feel that way too.
Maybe its left over puritan echos of we must suffer our gods rather than our gods helping us and supporting us but WTF i’ts messed up.
An idea I have expressed in the past, and got MASSIVE pushback on was this:
The ancient world was not a friendly place. If a religion actually made things worse and not better, it never would have caught on.
Puritan Christianity was a miserable religion. That is why you don’t see many Puritans walking around today. The echoes crop up everywhere. It’s ideas are appealing to a select few people, and those select few always want to push those ideas onto others. But any religion that adopts these ideas is doomed to failure.
We just need to wait, really. I’m sitting here watching all of these groups implode, explode, and crumble— rightly! Because they sold fear instead of love, submission in place of moral integrity, and a paradigm of simply being inert property of a deity instead of viewing those relationships as living, growing things that bloom over time and require work to maintain.
People want to be happy.
If a deity’s favor breaks your arm, burns down your house, destroys your marriage, and costs you your career, who will want it?
Yes! You see that when Christianity got rid of reincarnation and adapted to a fiery hell of eternal damnation. By using fear you create a religion that is about sin, damnation and fear. Fear controls a population better than unconditional love.
That’s disturbing…I don’t know much about Diana Paxson or her husband on a personal level…she was a guest at Paganicon this year but I wasn’t at her oracular seidhr ritual- perhaps that was just as well! We did have a couple of workshops & panels about consent, power and ethics, one of which I attended.
There have been uncomfortable rumors about Diana Paxson and her husband in SF circles for decades, at least as long ago as the 1980s and ’90s. Neither of them have ever understood the concept of informed consent, in my experience.
Yeah. A lot of them surrounding the Marion Zimmer Bradley thing… Diana Paxson was a good friend of MZB and her husband and there’s always been a lot of speculation about how much Diana knew and didn’t know… of course she says she didn’t know, but victims have said there’s no way, she HAD to have known.
THANK YOU (and thanks to Hermes too); this general attitude is one small demonstration of why I’ve stepped away from heathenry.
Yeah, I mean… I have a diverse ethnic background. Overall, I’m culturally Jewish, but I have some Swedish ancestors. I looked into Heathenry, but I noped out of there HARD.
His excuse doesn’t hold water. Mortals don’t get to move on Deities, no matter how sexy. I can’t imagine the hubris of someone touching Aphrodite without a direct, unambiguous invitation. Not only that, but She was in the body of a human who had a say in the matter. I doubt when the young woman agreed to take on the ritual role she thought “Oh, goodie! Maybe I’ll get groped!”
Whether Aphrodite invited him to touch her or not wasn’t known. The situation looked hella sketchy, which was why questions were posed to the tune of, “hey, is the medium ok?”
Because too many times, that question has not been asked. One time, a gay man carrying Freyr and who definitely did not want to be having sex with a particular woman, found that said woman had been having sex with Freyr while using his body. This happened more than once TO THE SAME MEDIUM. Because no one checked. No one stopped and said, “you need to stop that.”
Nowadays, most groups have rules like “you may not touch the medium under any circumstances”
Hubris is the right word here. Even setting aside the matter of consent amongst humans, would you dare approach a Goddess in Her full majesty and cop a feel? No? Then you PROBABLY shouldn’t molest them while they are acting through a vessel. It is only logical that such an act is just as impious as if you defaced a statue or a shrine. It is a home of the divine, however short term. Myth is replete with tales of warning for those beings who defile holy ground or those tasked with defending it. Anyone who can not respect this, well, are we surprised that they do not respect “mere” humans?
It is right that Hermes Diaktoros was here and asked about the medium. That communication is at the crux of His being. This lesson was perhaps late in coming to a man so advanced in years, but one must beware the wrath of a laughing God.
That is horrifying. I am so glad nothing happened to the young woman carrying Aphrodite and so thankful that Hermes spoke up to protect her.
It’s very timely that you made this post because just last night I was idly wondering if I should buy Diana Paxson’s book “Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World”. At this point in my spiritual life, I don’t really need it, but it’s kind of a classic so I thought it might have some useful information anyway.
Now I’m definitely not buying it. I can’t imagine that any of her techniques are worth it, considering that her channeling ethics are apparently the exact opposite of what I believe in. I spent a lot of time healing myself of toxic thoughtforms pretending to be my Gods; no way am I buying books from someone who actively participates in bringing those kinds of toxic thoughtforms into the world.
Having run into him a few times myself, I wish I could say that I was surprised. What I can say is that Diana and her husband are two different people (who, afaik, haven’t even lived together in years), and I know that this position on mediumship is not one that she espouses or teaches. Maybe because she is a woman rather than a 70 yo white man.
Well, that is good to hear. It is definitely a position that should not be espoused.
That said, Hrafnar folk have said things to me that left me feeling deeply concerned. And while not directly, “the medium’s consent is irrelevant once the deity is present” it sounded a lot like humans were the passive recipient of divine will, and had no choice once a deity decided what they wanted. Which isn’t exactly a repudiation of the ideas which Pyrokanthus expressed.
If you want to know if a theology is consonant with rape culture, try substituting “man” for “deity” and “woman” for “mortal” and ask yourself, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how grossed out do I feel?”
Consent is hugely important, especially some something like mediumship, it horrifies me that Pyrokanthis (who iirc is also a Hermes devotee?) thought he could get away with that bullshi nowadayst. It’s old white man 1950s privilige bs of the highest order, veiled in religion. obviously, and why was it allowed at PCon in 2018?
As for Hrafnar, it’s worth pointing out that Hrafnar has cycled through people pretty consistenly at least since I came on the scene in 2001. So, “Hrafnar people” is a really nebulous term based on who you talk to and when. That said, I spent much of my time as a Heathen in CA intentionally *not* as part of the Hrafnar group, for a variety of reasons, and only started hanging around for a few years before I moved back to CA. I’m not sure if I am glad I missed the recent drama or sad that I wasn’t around to be more involved in helping sort it all out. /shrug
His behavior is not reflective of Diana’s philosophy on channelling…and not her responsibility. It’s HIS. Blaming Diane for her spouse’s actions seems inappropriate.
Also, why malign the heathen religion? These actions ate not typical of heathenry… in fact, full possession which overrides the medium is not typical in heathenry… so his actions are not “based on where he comes from (out of heathenry)”… , its much more likely his behavior is a product of “poorly-raised 70 year old priveledged white guy”.
Thank YOU (and to Hermes) for stepping up and stepping in.
Consent is paramount; I don’t care who it is or even who they think they are – that man was taking advantage of the human being who did not give consent to being fondled.
But what’s really telling, in my opinion, is that man, upon being called out on his behavior, chose to verbally attack *you*. (As far as my experience goes, that has always been typical behavior of those in the wrong 😐)
As well, much as this man’s behavior sickens and saddens me, I am glad that you shared this post; though uncomfortable and divisive, these situations are worthy of sharing. Whether the discussion concerns consent and personal body autonomy — or of spiritwork, consent and body autonomy – actual discussion about consent is important.
Thank you Thenea for doing the hard and holy thing of speaking up – and I agree with the above commenter – thanks to Hermes – Who has proven to be ‘the man’ – Who cares about people. ❤
Thank you. It’s important to reiterate, however, that the medium did not feel victimized.
Hermes felt impelled to check, and the individual in question felt the need to state that her consent was not required — only that of the deity.
At that point, both Hermes AND Aphrodite (though Hermes much more aggressively) spoke up against that idea.
It seems that my calling out of this individual has been taken as a calling out of Heathenry, in general. Odd, because this individual, while part of a regional Pagan/Polytheist culture which doesn’t value consent, isn’t actually a Heathen.
So, yeah. This has gotten really uncomfortable. It seems any time there’s something problematic AF going on, people tend to whisper behind closed doors, because no one wants the backlash.
What this man did is blasphemy. What he said in response to Hermes’ question is blasphemy. I would have beaten him bloody. Shame on those who knew about his perversions and did nothing for years and shame on those who excuse their lack of action. It’s morally reprehensible. Those who knew and did nothing are nearly as guilty as he is. This is precisely the type of thing that needs to be addressed immediately and with zero tolerance. There is no place for pedophiles, rapists, and molestors in our communities and especially not in our rituals. disgusting.
He’s banned from ever attending anything hosted by our group ever again. I warned the other Polytheist group he might visit. Some people are just not safe.
He warns people about my Demon-Hermes. I warn people that he might sexually assault someone. Seems a lop-sided feud, tbh.
wow. well, you’re doing a community service by warning people and teaching people discernment and how to negotiate with spirits (I’m really impressed by that). He, on the other hand, is showing massive disrespect for women, for spiritual technicians, and for the very Gods Themselves and has been doing so for 30+ years. “Demon-Hermes”. Wow. I’m going to go make offerings to Hermes now and maybe do a bit of purification. I”m so sorry you had to experience this vile human being, but good for you for standing up and making the outcry.