Sippin' on dat Haterade (or: Why Pagans can be Worse than Fundamentalists)


"The mythic hero is also an amalgamation of a number of archetypal images, and as such is a part of our species' psychic inheritance, a universal constant that transcends culture and time."
                                                         -Don LoCicero Superheroes and Gods

"[We live in a society] without the kind of gods that used to exist, or the legends that used to travel back and forth with tribes.  The tribes each told the same stories in their own way.  I gave those stories the power of the old concepts with characters from our own day."
                                                    -Jack Kirby (from Les Daniels' DC Comics)

Well.  It took three years, but the internet has finally caught up with us.  And with the internet, comes the yucky egocentric and long-winded 'opinion' (read as 'fact') blahblahblogs vomiting up their eternal wisdom. 

My original reaction to the different comments quoted in this post was a wavy-brained gaiety.  The trolls were all shoving to get in front.  ('I hate people who worship fictional beings like Dionysus, Krishna, or Jesus.  Everyone knows Allah is the one, true god!').

Instead, I'm giving you, fair reader, an easy argument in case you're ever backed into a corner by one of these overly serious, self-aggrandizing goof-asses.  I'm also taking the time to participate in the wonderful world of internets, where I can attack someone I don't know over a 50 word comment they made without ever having to worry about running into them in a remote back alley.

"Julian Betkowski weighs in with The Need to Understand the Role of Religion:
A lot of work has been done in certain portions of the occult community to position all of magic, all of the Gods, as mere figures of the psyche, as ghosts in the machine, phantoms of archetypes that haunt the unused byways of our neural highway. Again, whatever works for you, but that is not religion. That is apologetics. Apologetics for things that people are too afraid to openly acknowledge they believe in. If you think magic is real, and the Gods are real, then you are a nut job in contemporary American society. So instead, you say that it is all psychological and you are just exploring the hidden places of the human mind. That is perfectly fine, but it is also perfectly cowardly. We cannot have it both ways. The Gods are real, or they are not. There is no in between."

To say that this interpretation of Jung's Collective Unconscious is the only one is grossly assumptive.  I would have to point out that Jung didn't see the archetypes as 'mere figures of the psyche', but as the vitals of consciousness.  And this is not the only paradigm that would allow for the worship of fictional characters, either.

I'll say it right now: The Batman is a very real being and we have a very real relationship.

There. No apologies.  Happy, pappy?
I've already written about the fallacy of Aristotlean Either\Or logic, and how dumb it is to believe in a single, infallible TRUTH.  The statement, 'We cannot have it both ways. The Gods are real, or they are not. There is no in between,' is meaningless.  Fucking prove it, dork.

"Urbanpooka believes we have no right to disagree with others: [ok, dickhead]
This is not reasonable discussion. Reasonable discussion of another’s pagan practices should not involve telling that person that their practice is a falsehood, or does not exist outside their head, or has no impact in their lives. It is not reasonable because it cannot be proven. Forget the fact that it is horribly, horribly rude, and that even traditional pagans are often deeply offended when non-believers turn such “arguments” on them. When non-believers do that, I’ve heard it wondered aloud “Why are you being so shitty to prove your point?”
 Thank you, Urbanpooka.

"And the second comes from fathergia and was left here:
Honestly, this whole debate is upsetting me in a very big way. Not in the debate or the conflict, but in the fucking fact that we are having this god damn STUPID debate. Fucking, Christians and Hindus and Muslims don’t have to discuss and ARGUE with each other whether Batman and Wonder Woman are worthy of veneration or some EQUALLY stupid shit. THIS is why people don’t take us seriously THIS is why we CONTINUE to get ridiculed and made fun of by academics and the larger religious community, because we KEEP BRINGING UP STUFF LIKE THIS. I want to be a part of this community, I want to look at people and feel a sense of glowing pride and be able to PROUDLY exclaim ‘These are my people’. I want to be PROUD of my fellow Pagans, I want to point at them and smile and applaud their writings and accomplishments, but how do I do that when they are conflating Tony Stark with fucking MLK Jr? God damn, that is disrespectful. I respect that man, I mean, fuck, I have a ritual called Isonomia that I do on MLK Day. Conflating him with someone who doesn’t exist is ridiculous, I mean, what the hell? It is like she got inspired from the South Park Imagination Land saga of episodes. How do you connect with people who make you embarrassed and who disrespect people that you respect and admire to a great deal? How do you do that? I don’t know if you can. I just know that this has made me very unhappy. I hope shit like this doesn’t keep coming up."
Jesus Christ.  Where to begin?  Sounds like someone has lots invested in not looking stupid.  Considering the out of proportion rage and the theme of avoiding embarrassment, I would assume that fathergia is a 14 year old boy in the midwest who's sick and tired of getting beat up after school.  Of course, I'll have to do the one thing no one else in this debate seems able to do, and admit that I COULD BE WRONG.  


One thing I noticed here was the proliferation of people designating which gods are 'real'.  From what I can tell, the only signifier of 'realness' is antiquity.  So cross your fingers, Sons.  If we can keep the Batman popular for another thousand years, he may get another opportunity to apply for the deity position.

What I hope I've made clear:
    1. Yelling at people you think are wrong is dumb.
    2. Magic is about results.  If it works, then obviously it's doing something right.
    3. Batman is fictional.  So are all the other Gods.  Everywhere.

P.S.  Here is the post that I believe started to 'controversy'.  I may be wrong, since I've never looked at any of these blogs before.  That being said, props to Sunweaver for a great read.
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Tenet #1: Duality Dies at Dawn!


Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 2 (Morrison, Mahnke)

The scriptures often remind us that the Joker is a dark mirror of the Batman, always playing the role of allegorical opposition.  Their relationship is an expression of the dual forces in the universe.  Order and chaos, death and life, good and evil:

Batman 680 (Morrison, Daniel)

But we also find that, being opposites, one cannot exist without the other.  In Hunting the Dark Knight, Dr. Will Brooker states, "As counterpoints and contrasts, the villains are locked into a ritualized dance with Batman; on one level, he justifies their existence, and they justify his, just as each medieval carnival was linked to a sacred feast.  Without Batman, the villains would have no challenge, no real raison d'ĂȘtre, and the reverse is also true; the two sides, particularly the love-hate pairing of Batman and Joker, define and, in a sense, create each other."

Or, as the Joker himself says in Nolan's The Dark Knight, "You complete me."

Batman 663 (Morrison, Van Fleet)
In Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, we find the doctrine of 'The One Bad Day.'  It illustrates the notion that the only difference between the Clown Prince of Crime and the Caped Crusader is a matter of perspective.

Batman: The Killing Joke (Moore, Bolland)
The Bat myth explores the idea that seeming opposites are, in reality, halves of a whole.

Much like Ramakrishna's vision of Kali giving birth to the universe and then devouring it, the ongoing battle between the Batman and the Joker, when seen from a human vantage, gives us a cyclical view of reality; but when seen from a higher temporal  perspective (i.e. one where all times are simultaneous), a cycle becomes a solid object.  Ebb and flow become literal parts of a whole.

Or we can look at a thermometer (which is probably less annoying than trying to imagine what events look like when space-time is viewed as an object instead of a process).  On one end is 'hot'.  On the other is 'cold'.  But where in the middle does one become the other?

An object's 'coldness' or 'hotness' is not an intrinsic quality, but depends on the subjective judgement of a viewer.  Hot and cold may be opposites, but they're on the same thermometer.

The Batman teaches us that there are no dualities.  Rather than being a force of Good, he is a force of Justice.  Justice is blind, holding the scales of Libra in one hand, and the sword of reason in the other.  In Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck, 'Justice' is renamed 'Adjustment', and is defined by Crowley as "balance against each thought. it's exact opposite. For the marriage of these is the annihilation of illusion".  It isn't about good over evil or positive over negative. It's about balance between contradictions.

Justice isn't always aimed at the negative aspects of the universe, either.  The Batman is a counterweight to all the denizens of Gotham, not just the villains.  Think of the driven, cold, and calculating role he holds in contrast to the intuitive, empathic, and compassionate Dick Grayson.  Or the self-centered, self-destructive Bruce Wayne in balance with the reasonable and responsible Alfred Pennyworth.

In all things, the Batman is a call to balance, leading us to question the absolutes we take for granted.  And by revealing that duality has no reality outside of our perception, he has perhaps laid stake to the old mystical claim that everything is, in fact, one.
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