A response to the Notable Dead from Buck Shomo
- TS: Please forward this back to the list for me:
As to the list of names posted for the Samhain Litany, I disagree on
a lot of points why people like Idi Amin, Leni Riefenstahl, and the
Congressman who helped to impose "In God We Trust" on US money should
have been included on a Samhain Litany of the Notable Dead.
As to adding Riefenstahl because "a Jewish family member" said it
was 'OK, since we learn from both the good and the bad,' troubles me
on a couple of points. First of all, the Nazis committed crimes
against humanity, and although the Jewish population of Europe bore
the brunt of their homicidal mania, the issue, especially for Pagans,
is more complex than just the Nazi-Jewish nexus. The modern Pagan
community is a patchwork of people who not only come from a Jewish
background, but is comprised of pacifists, communists, Lesbians,
Gays, the mentally and physically handicapped, Romany - all of whom
were also targeted by the Nazis for extermination. Also, one of the
lesser crimes of the Nazis was that they defamed Pagan tradition, by
incorporating indigenous, pre-Christian symbolism and ritual from the
Germanic tribes into their totalitarian imagery. As a consequence,
many Asatru or other Norse-tradition Pagans are immediately suspect
as racists for practicing their faith.
We need to define our faith, or more properly, concatenation of
faiths, as the Irish say, "Sinn fein," by ourselves. We can't let
the worldview of other faiths inform the fundaments of our religious
practices, and shouldn't look to other religions for "permission" in
defining ourselves. In part, this means staying true to as much of
the ancient knowledge that has been passed to us from our physical
and spiritual ancestors.
As such, it's not my understanding of the historical underpinnings of
the holiday that modern Pagans celebrating Samhain should recognize
the "dishonorable" dead in any remembrance. Like the Irish wake at a
funeral, Samhain is a recognition of the "awakening" or rebirth of
the passed over spirits on the other side - it's a celebration, and
only those whose lives were worth celebrating on this side of the
veil should be feted once they've passed over to the other.
Therefore, a brutal, cannibal dictator and a monotheist who leveraged
Cold War fear of the "godless commies" into a means of territorial
pissing his brand of religion on US currency really have no place in
this kind of celebration. If modern Pagans feel the need to
establish a day to remember those who have wronged humanity or the
Pagan community in specific, hopefully it will evolve of its own
accord. I just have no desire to offer a Samhain libation of
whiskey, in Irish, "uisce beatha - literally, the water of life," to
the spirits of such people, and don't want to see Samhain become a
form of "Entertainment Tonight" maudlin New Year's Eve montage of
dead movie stars.
Overall, the "Litany" seemed to be nothing more than an
indiscriminate AP listing of "famous" people who died since last
November, with maybe one or two people from within the Pagan
community who became known outside their local community. Maybe we
should take this as a reminder to remember our own, even if we didn't
know them in this life, and try to assemble a list of all the modern
Pagans who pass between now and next Samhain, and establish a Litany
to celebrate our sisters and brothers from our extended family.
I'll climb off my soap box now. Thanks.
- In our last episode, Rob Henderson said:
> > As to the list of names posted for the Samhain Litany, I disagree onAnd I'll clarify that the reason I posted this wasn't intended
> > a lot of points why people like Idi Amin, Leni Riefenstahl, and the
> > Congressman who helped to impose "In God We Trust" on US money should
> > have been included on a Samhain Litany of the Notable Dead.
to indicate that I, SLG, or ADF thought that everyone on the list
*should* be honored by everyone. (And I imagine that there were
more people who objected to the inclusion of Iraqi soldiers than
to Ms. Riefenstahl, if we're keeping track.) The list was indeed
nothing more than a comprehensive list of celebrities who had
died during the previous year, for those who wanted to honor
one or more of them but may have forgotten (or not even heard)
that they had died. (My own lovely fiancee' told me that she
would have forgotten the seven astronauts on the Columbia, just
because she thought it had been more than a year since that happened.)
Being the hacker I am, I'm more worried about getting all the info
out there than making judgments for other people about which data
are better than others. If I do get a copy of the list next year,
I'll certainly clarify my (and SLG's) stance on this in the post.
I know it's probably a little late for most folks now, but I
certainly hope that the people we've personally known rate
higher on our "Samhain lists" than any celebrity we don't know,
good or bad.
RobH (or Rob Henderson, if you prefer) / robh@...
And when I'm sipping on a Perrier in some cafe` down in St. Tropez, it's hard
to keep the fans at bay, they say, "Sign my poodle, s'il vous plait" (Weird Al)
Shining Lakes Grove, ADF web page: http://www.shininglakes.org/