Dig if you will

In my post on Columbia I included a link and an excerpt from an article Alison Leigh Lilly (who assures us that she is an animist polytheist not a naturist) had written a couple years ago expressing some of the misgivings that she and others had about this emergent goddess of American patriotism. She was far from alone in expressing these concerns but I chose to highlight her post as opposed to some of the others because I found it well-written, balanced and respectful though still critical of ideas she didn’t agree with, something that cannot always be claimed of other of Columbia’s detractors.

In other words I found it to be an exemplary model of how to engage in such communal discussions, which was kind of the whole point of the post. I mean, if we are going to be talking about this issue (and there’s every indication that we will) let’s do so in a mature and productive fashion. Hence why I ended the piece with a link to the Columbia devotional anthology and encouraged pagans and polytheists of color to contribute their important voices to this conversation, as they are still so often left out. You will note that at no point do I state what my personal views on Columbia are or what others should think about her, merely that I hoped “we have a lot of thoughtful, constructive, civil and even-handed discourse to look forward to in the coming weeks.”

Needless to say I was then quite surprised to discover Lilly commenting not only at my blog, but at The Wild Hunt as well where she wrote this:

Hey David — Just wanted to swing by to let you know that I fully and whole-heartedly support what you’re doing. :) A blogger recently quoted something I wrote from four years ago in a way that implied I was trying to pick fights with you and other devotees of Columbia over this current event. So just in case you saw that, please know that I’m 100% in support of your work, and this blogger is just being silly.

Wow! Where is she getting that from? I read over the post three or four times just to make sure there wasn’t something I had missed. Nowhere in there did I claim that Lilly had posted this in response to the ritual in DC or that she was picking fights with anyone, whether involved in said ritual or not. The closest I came to offering my interpretation was by saying that she found “certain aspects of this goddess’ history and character to be rather problematic” and otherwise let her words speak for themselves.

If her views have evolved since posting that I am sorry to have misrepresented her current position, but there was nothing to indicate that in the post and I certainly don’t read her blog. The post came up during a search for criticism of the goddess Columbia. I actually considered going with a paranoid screed from the anti-Illuminati camp instead, but thought that might not be in keeping with the neutral tone I was aiming for with this piece.

I wonder if this sort of thing is behind a lot of the misunderstandings and animosities in the pagan and polytheist communities. If you go in assuming the worst of someone you will inevitably find confirmation whether that was the author’s original intent or not.

And just in case anyone is confused about the title: while my father was indeed a bold man and I take after him in certain respects that is not actually why I chose it. It is an allusion to the song “When Doves Cry” by popular 80s recording artist Prince, since columba is Latin for dove and the song is about conflict over origins. In no way should this be taken as a denigration of Prince, recording artists, doves, parenthood or people who know Latin


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14 thoughts on “Dig if you will

  1. For what it’s worth, I saw what you did there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I recognized the reference too…being the child of the 80s that I am…

    As for Columbia…I don’t really have an opinion…though I’ve always thought of the name as an epithet for Aphrodite.


  3. See, this is why I have been staying out of all the controversies and debates lately. Just doesn’t seem possible to have meaningful conversation anymore – everyone picks sides, reacts based on pre-conceived ideas rather than actual words being written, and generally seems more interested in antagonism rather than productive discussion.

    Liked by 3 people

    • While it’s true that we do day so much more than the literal meaning of the words we use, there’s Indeed a point where am audience is clearly looking for meaning that just isn’t there. Yes, it’s true that Sannion had previously built a reputation for antagonism, but even if one is assuming that he’s still doing that, this is one of those instances where it does seem, too me at least, a bit more of a stretch to actually find that in this case. There are subtle, but telling, cues that he wasn’t.


      • Exactly. And I don’t stir shit because I like the smell – I’ve always done it with a specific goal in mind and as a means towards an end. But there’s no goal here! Nothing to win, nothing to lose, nothing at all but encouraging folks to be adults when talking about issues. Jesus, I don’t even know the person doing the Columbia anthology so it’s not like this was some evil scheme to boost contributions for a friend’s project.

        I’ll tell you what, though, this is clearly what comes of being nice to folks. I’m back to being a bastard.

        Liked by 1 person

        • If you’re serious about being jerky,I don’t blame you. I just read your latest pay and that’s some cray I don’t blame you to distance yourself from.


    • It is, but requires moderation. Like the Delphic Maxim! I try to use lots of qualifying language in my blog (this is my opinion, specific to my tradition, path, country, privileged or not so privileged status etc) which helps, but some people don’t read. I prefer to discuss things that are relevant to my experience, and lots of stuff that people fight over isn’t.


  4. I like a lot of Alison’s writing and think she has some interesting ideas though I don’t always agree and the same with yourself. That said, very passive-aggressive behavior on her part. I also was confuzzled at another point at which you linked to her and then she claimed you were accusing her of siding with some pro-pedophile faction (or something?)
    BTW, Thanks for trying to help that person, even if apparently they were too disturbed to accept your help graciously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alison Leigh Lily has…kind of a reputation of being passive aggressive, to outright aggressive and stalking and harassing of others.


      • Dang, really? I’m not disbelieving you, I’m more just kind of… impressed in the wrong way? Cos I remember (vaguely, so I might be mis-remembering if it was a blog post in its own right, or just a comment of her on TWH) that at one point, about 4-5years ago, she was accusing someone else of cyber-stalking and harassment. Which also doesn’t mean she was lying about that experience, but if I’m remembering correctly that she *did* make that claim, it can lead one to wonder about whether or not she learned the wrong lessons from that experience.


        • “Impressed in the wrong way” – we need to find a word to describe that feeling.

          I can talk with you more privately (via email?) about the Alison stuff, but. Yeah, she’s pretty horrendous once she locks onto someone.


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