Wednesday , May 19 2021

How to buy a religion – GODS & RADICALS

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What's wrong with the Sephora witch kit?

Is it large to reduce a religious practice to $ 40 of mass produced perfume and tarot? Probably, but the Pagans have not discussed "paying to pray" back and forth for years? Of course, an independent Etsy craftsman needs to make a living. But does not Sephora also need to exploit new markets to survive? The scale is different, but what about the essence?

Is the shopping center worse than the metaphysical store?

Religious suffering is, at the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of conditions without a soul.

-Karl Marx

Capitalism moves away.

It takes parts of you and derives raw materials from it. Your time, your physical activity and your mental energy are all sold on the labor market like tarot decks and perfumes. Your body contains more of itself – bring your community, work and care of your loved ones, all they do to keep you physically and psychologically functional. Without all this, how would you go out every morning from your door with sufficient resilience at work? After all, capital is hungry. A business needs to grow, or other companies out-compete in the market and force it to bankrupt. Those that can grow, survive. Those who find more ways and things to eat, grow up. They need your ability to work, to produce goods and services that they can sell. All the ingredients that come into your work, consume.

Capital imposes its needs on the dispossessed, those who do not own businesses or properties for rent and therefore have nothing to live on, but their ability to work. The whole community depends on the money earned by its employees, so it must organize its collective life in whatever way it maximizes their employability. Wage workers are exploited and embody entire working communities, exploited by them and through them.

Religion is a way in which the dispossessed survive. Capitalism separates you from your basic nature: your ability to prosper, to form relationships as a free being. Demoralize both in the current sense and in the older one: the senselessness and futility of wage labor, housewife and unemployment teach despair and induce depression, but when capital reduces you to an instrument, demoralizes you in a broader sense. The more you go to satisfy the hunger of capital, the less you are abandoned to self-culture, to creativity and to building relationships. You are alienated from yourself.


Resurrection of pop culture: the Internet Vice tabloid offers dozens of witchcraft-themed articles. source

Sephora sells to women.

The social basis of religion (pagan and otherwise) is not only the dispossessed in general, but especially the especially racial, racial, national and gender lines. Even when ministers and bishops are men, it is women who cook meals for sick parishioners, clean up services, teach Sunday school and fill most of the counters. Capitalism, by definition, pays only for paid work. But the health and functionality of salaried workers are expensive; it takes a great deal of unpaid work at home and in the community to nurture and support salaried workers, take care of their children and the elderly and alleviate the emotional tension of their alienation. Thus, there is a division of labor between paid and unpaid work, and falls along the line of the kind. Culture, ideology and discrimination harmonize with the pervasive reality of anti-woman and anti-LGBT violence, forming an elegantly self-reinforcing feedback loop; Gender roles derive and strengthen the global social system. Those who do not stand in line are hurt.

Religion is at a key point in the cycle. It allows racial and national oppressed to count on one another for support, friendship and existential meaning without their oppressors in the room for a few hours each week (it is a coincidence that in the United States, blacks claim to be "absolutely certain" of the existence of God at a higher rate than what self-identified Christians do?). Religion moves away from alienation, offering a relationship with something greater than yourself, your work and your daily life: a basis of deeper and more ancient connections and values ​​of capitalism. At the same time, it broadcasts gender roles and racial social segregation from generation to generation, helps the disinherited to remain psychologically healthy enough to work, and gives the bourgeois clergy a means to preach patience and tolerance toward oppression rather than the revolution and collective action. From time to time, however, it takes on an opposite role, providing mass movements with a moral language and the institutional infrastructure they need. Religion is politically contradictory. It keeps the disinherited in line – except when it helps them get free.

Paganism has a gender difference even clearer than most religions. After all, it actively encourages women to assume priestly and leadership roles (not to mention their historical links with lesbian feminism and LGBT culture). Sephora sells to women, so selling women's religion is an intuitive next step, especially given that pop culture is currently more infatuated with witchcraft than it has been for years. " When Sephora sells Paganism, it offers more than a deck of cards and some quartz. Sephora is no less responsible for the overwhelming alienation of capitalism than any other activity. He helped to create the disorder. Now, he promises a $ 40 cure.

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Metaphysical shopfront. source

Unlike most religions, the basic institutional anchorage of modern Paganism is not the congregation. Rather, it is the metaphysical shop. Jonathan Wooley explains:

The authors, producers and stores that store their goods could operate without moving and open rituals; but the open mottoes and rituals – in their current form – could not exist without the "pagan business".

The point here is not that those who earn their living through paganism are greedy or venial. On the contrary, writing words, speaking spells, creating holy things and making ceremonies that heal, enlighten and empower is an important job, and those who work in these ways can not survive with simple air and good wishes. The problem stems from how we are currently supporting the work they do and from the centrality of this (commercial) agreement in our community. First of all, you have to pay. Entrusting ourselves to the Market to transmit our tradition directly, to finance our meetings, to provide our goods, we become accomplices. It means that the fortunes of our traditions do not revolve with the wheel of the year, but with the changing fashions and stock prices of the global publishing and welfare industries. Our community is directed less by the will of the gods, and more by the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith. The heartbeat at the center of our living traditions becomes the ring of a cash register.

This dominance of the logic of the market within paganism is not surprising, even if it is disturbing. Paganism is one of the few religions that arose in the modern age, when capitalism was on the rise. This has very real consequences for all of us. Let's not forget the prototypical "gateway experience" for a researcher – traditionally – he was buying a book from a library of occult books. The fact that the Internet and Amazon have replaced the well-known local bookseller is to be lamented; but it is not such a meteoric change as we might suppose. Whether your spirituality is expressed through the purchase of knowledge from a kooky shop in Glastonbury High Street, or from Amazon, your spirituality is still expressed through shopping. Likewise, this change demonstrates to what extent our infrastructure depends on the vagaries of the market to survive: the rise of the internet has caused the closure of many pagan libraries; depriving local communities of an inestimable opportunity to meet, learn and socialize. Indeed, it is precisely because we have relied on the market that this transition – from a friendly, in-community, low-profit society, to a distant, global, high-profit society – has taken place. The means by which our knowledge is widespread has been transformed into worse by the market dictator.

In other words, Sephora and a PantheaCon reseller do not differ in substance – only in scale.


The cycle of nitrogen. source

When Paganism is commercial, it is filling the conservative role of religion, reconciling the expropriated with their oppression. After all, if shopping is the way out of alienation, then capitalism, if not benevolent, is at least neutral. The collective action is not even on the radar.

But it is not the only paganism.

We are all immersed in a living relational network: humans, the biosphere, the earth, the sea and the sky, the gods and the dead. The cycle of nitrogen and the water cycle are sacred. It is sacred when through death, an organism becomes food, transmuting it into a new life. The sun is slowly spending itself. It nourishes plants and algae with its energy and that energy supports the same animals that then feed the plants when they die and decompose. The gods are simultaneously incorporated and emerging from every nexus of the process, standing at the fulcrum where nature moves human beings and moves. Paganism is what the cycles of mutual conditioning of ecology and evolution teach you when you pay attention to them, learn their rhythms, find where you are inside them. Prayer, devotion, myth and ritual guide you towards that base of your being and make you a sacrament of your participation. Reciprocity is cosmic, both an imperative and a fact. Do ut desI give it to you to give, it is at the center of both the polytheistic sacrificial theology and the mystery that governs the process of life.

You were born with a capacity for eudaimonia: flourishing, balanced, human, the greatest asset of ethics and philosophy. You can develop eudaimonia if you cultivate virtues: self-knowledge, self-control, justice and right relationship. Capitalism is a social process that takes you away from that capacity, but does not destroy it. However, it determines the form it must take.

Personal development, ritual and political practice and reverence for the gods, the dead and the natural world are the foundations of revolutionary virtue. Paganism holds a radical seed: given the reality of capitalism and the empire, the communist organizer, the stoic sage and the mystical devotee-religious of nature must all become the same person. Every component of revolutionary virtue is incomplete in itself. They need one another, just like plants, decomposers and nitrifying bacteria.

And it's all unbuyable. People who try to sell you Paganism promise to treat your alienation with more alienation, only in disguise. They can sell you a book by Scott Cunningham, a handmade pewter pendant or a $ 40 starter box, but do they contain the Mystery? At most, they are superfluous props. In the worst case, they will actively mislead you; like any religion, paganism can teach you to accept your oppression or can teach you to fight it.

If you really want to buy something, buy Marcus Aurelius or a textbook on ecology. Read the myths. Exit and see how the moss and lichens grow on trees and how the trees that die feed fungi and bacteria, fertilizing the soil. The relational web spreads from there. It reaches the sun, the atmosphere, the micro-organisms and the gods that take their incarnation into that dynamic interaction. Find your nature, your innate potential for virtue, eudaimoniaand right relationship. You are on the web. Root yourself. Capitalism uproots and destroys your nature. It is launching processes around the world so offensively that if it is not stopped, the ecosphere will last – but it will be so changed that humans will not be able to live in it.

Paganism lives in that knowledge. It is a method: one learns the context of human life and chooses to act accordingly. Sephora can not sell it to you, but not even the sellers at Pagan Pride.

You can not simply give up the alienation that capitalism imposes. But you can choose what to do about it; you are existentially free. Paganism can be a path to revolutionary knowledge and virtue, or it can be an "opium of the masses".

Sephora wants to sell you one of those. But you are free to choose the other.

He is a communist and polytheist in the Northwest of the United States Pacific. Support Patreon:

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