Catching up on blog posts always gets me thinking which always gets me writing. Basically, without others this blog would not exist.
One such blog post is one of Ruadhan’s from a little over a month back (I told y’all I fell behind.) particularly one of her bullet points surrounding tribalism.
The sync of this post is excellent when it comes to this discussion as I’ve been wrangling how to write on this subject (from a pro-tribal stance) and he managed to touch on the subject with the kind of nuance I probably would not have been able to achieve with an entire blog post written on my own.
In the past, I did only associate tribalism with neofascist contingencies, believing it to be the purview of white nationalists, Black Hebrew Israelites, and the Nation of Islam; the latter two I’ve had brief encounters with due to my ethnicity and the fact that, apparently, I look like ripe recruitment fodder. I’m blaming the Afro.
But now, I tend to think tribalism may actually have a positive, and necessary, place. When one looks at most tribes they are usually not completely closed off but there generally IS a period of initiation.
How does the newcomer handle the cultural practices? What are their reactions to the food and language(s)? How do they contribute to the community as it stands? Do they follow the rules? Does the tribe actually want that particular newcomer? All of these criteria may not need to be met, but at least ONE of them will need to be and once they are, one can gain some form of acceptance into said tribe, even becoming a “full member” with time. The assimilation into the tribe can mark one as a member depending on the tribe in question.
Could paganism use more tribalism? I’d say yes. I mentioned years ago that the pagan community tends to just accept who ever comes in regardless of whether they can actually contribute anything to said community. We take the refuse and I stated that this seemed like an attempt to be “More Christian than the Christians” so we could say “Ha! Look at how much more Christlike we are!”
But if we are to be viable tribes as pagans, polytheists, bad hair cut worshipers(I’m looking at you Samurai topknot for no damn reason) than there NEEDS to be some kind of initiation. There needs to be standards of inclusion and there needs to be people we say “No” to.
Tribes do this to survive. Tribes do this to preserve their cultures which form the basis of who they are.
It’s why I stopped calling myself a Hellenist as my practice drifted away from pure Hellenism.
I actually caught some flack in a pagans of color discussion for saying that yes, folkish Heathens have every right to say who they DON’T want in their tribe. Z Budapest had a right to say who she didn’t want in her tribe. Those who are focused on piety and polytheism have a right to say who they don’t want in their tribe.
I know not to take my Cinnamon-skinned well moisturized trans-loving radically indifferent ass into their villages.
Just like how they know not to come into my village.
And the good thing about a tribe is that because of that dash of exclusivity the tribe is willing, and able, to provide the physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual support those in the tribe actually need. I see nothing wrong with that.
This is a gross oversimplification of tribal dynamics. You’ll have scapegoats, charlatans, and power hungry usurpers but you’ll also have people capable of ostracizing because they know who their people are and how to deal with them.
I’ve been a member of a few tribes. Some I’m still a member of; some I’m not. Some I’ve left because “fuck that noise” and some I’ve been booted from because “fuck that bitch (the bitch being me)” and rightfully so on all counts.
So all in all?
Yes to kith and kin.
Yes to tribes.
If you’re in; you’re in.
If you aren’t? Get in where you fit in. There are hundreds upon thousands of tribes and billions of people to form tribes with. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool or delusional.