…A religion for racists, bigots, Neo-Nazis, elitist assholes or asshats. Or bawbags.
But you can’t have everything, right?
The Gaelic Polytheist community as a whole may be relatively small (compared to other reconstructionist communities), but even so it’s very diverse, and it should be a welcoming home for every individual regardless of race, gender (or gender expression/identity), sexuality, and ability or disability. To be anything other than open and welcoming would be inhospitable, and that’s certainly something a Gaelic Polytheist shouldn’t be.
So Gaelic Polytheism shouldn’t be prejudicial or discriminatory against people just because they might have disabilities, mental health or emotional problems, or because they might be gender-variant or trans, or because their sexuality isn’t like yours.
Gaelic Polytheists shouldn’t be exclusive or judgemental towards people interested in exploring Gaelic Polytheism, or adopting it as their religion, just because they don’t have any Gaelic heritage. As we’ve already said, Gaelic Polytheism isn’t folkish, and for the most part, most Gaelic Polytheists agree on that. Unfortunately, some groups do exclude people on these grounds (or else some groups have, but are no longer around), and don’t see anything wrong with it. Those of us who argue that this kind of “separate but equal” approach that folkish religions espouse (which often includes saying “Why don’t you find the gods of your own people?” to those of mixed heritage who do have the ‘right’ kind of heritage but don’t look like they do) is racist, tend to avoid such groups completely.
Our heathen cousins have long struggled with white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and racists trying to co-opt their gods and their religion for their own ends, and Gaelic Polytheism has had its own fair share of the same over the years, although thankfully they don’t tend to last long before moving on to greener and more welcoming pastures. For the most part, though, you won’t find outright white supremacists and racists in Gaelic Polytheist communities, but the more general, less visible kinds of racism are still there (because it’s still a problem everywhere). Some groups are very strict about issues surrounding racism and appropriation, but bear in mind that just because a group makes a lot of the right noises, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their behavior reflects what they say.
Gaelic Polytheism shouldn’t be a religion that encourages or tolerates disrespecful or dishonorable behavior. Along with hospitality and generosity, the most important values to Gaelic Polytheists are honor and truth, and people who fail to behave honorably or truthfully are not the kind of people a healthy community wants around.
Most Gaelic Polytheists live in the diaspora, in countries like the US, Canada, or Australia, where land was forcibly taken from the indigenous peoples of those places. It’s important to respect the beliefs and sacred sites that remain sacred to those peoples today, and care and consideration should be taken in making sure that our own practices won’t be considered to be offensive according to local traditions, and that they don’t offend the spirits who are indigenous to those places.
It’s not our place to co-opt the sacred ways of other cultures, no matter how “pure” our intentions may be. Instead, for Gaelic Polytheists in the diaspora, we should understand and appreciate that we are practising our religion in a place where things may be done differently, and we educate ourselves so that we can avoid doing anything that might cause offense – or worse – to local peoples and spirits, according to their sacred ways. As an example, in places where alcohol may be considered to be a poison, and harmful to the land, we can avoid pouring alcohol on the ground or offering it to spirits. Instead we might consider offering something that is still traditional to us, but not offensive in that location – something like milk, perhaps.
Gaelic Polytheism shouldn’t be elitist. Other religions exist. Like, get over it. Gaelic Polytheism isn’t better than everything else, just the best fit for some people. It’s not going to work for everyone and that’s OK. And it’s not cultural appropriation just because Wiccans, Neo-druids, and other Neopagans call a festival by a Gaelic name, yeah?