This is a bit more of an editorial post than the kind of content you’re usually going to be seeing from me, but I find it distinctively relevant today as I had a member of one of the smaller communities I am heavily involved with come to me for some advice and help. As I tend to pride myself on being somewhat of a Mother Wolf (1. I’m old and 2. I’m protective) I got involved in a professional capacity because the situation deemed it necessary. The role of a mentor or teacher is to assist and shore up their students. We have the professional background and experience. This is not an act of saving everyone around them, but it becomes important to see the distinction, lest one find themselves carrying the entire world.
From personal experience, that’s not a position I’d like to find anyone in.
I have been present in different online pagan/polytheist communities since about 2009 in varying iterations and names, though my practice has stayed very much the same. When I joined Tumblr in 2011- I found it very easy to get involved in the community and for some time I quite enjoyed myself. But there is a tendency on Tumblr start a kind of intellectual circle-jerk where people are just biasing and re-biasing the same unfortunate ideas, or just flat out plagiarizing research, practices or concepts and then claiming them as original.
For someone like me, who has traveled extensively and spent quite a lot of my life and money in pursuit of the research that I built my practice around- this kind of behavior becomes offensive and disrespectful. Not because I’m unwilling to share my ideas or allow someone else access to them- but because they lack the context for how that practice was built. It is impossible to completely understand the full meat of something without at least giving credence to its conception. In a religious identity, a simple phrase is never just that.
Those of us, especially the women of these communities have a responsibility to each other. The women, like me, who follow a warrior’s path are even moreso bound. We are all working together to challenge ideas that are unpopular because they are uncomfortable. We should be braver and more honorable than to engage in academic backstabbing to further an agenda or some kind of fame. We may not be mothers in the classic sense, but we should be standing together and not with a half-eye over our shoulder waiting for the next person to take a bite from our back.
We are all capable of working together in our concept building. There is no shame in quoting someone else, or even in asking for their directed input. That does not make one any less of a valid practitioner or presenter. It actually makes you better. Polytheist and pagan communities are not bound by the same social laws of true Academia, and to be quite honest with you- I find that something to mourn. Our reputations should be built on our own work, and then how we respect the work of others- not by a verification built from popularity.
My advice for any who keep silent for fear of their work being picked apart? Do not be. Learn your copyright laws, keep reciepts of conversations and research. Communicate in emails rather than instant message conversations. Record interviews (with permission.) Prove every step you take so that you can stand proud and in ownership of your work. You have all earned the right to do so. Now claim it.