Friends of mine are pretty well aware of the fact that I don’t like Galina Krasskova. Her views are extreme, her attitude towards others is often elitist, and she frequently uses violent language to both intimidate those she doesn’t agree with and incite potentially violent reactions from her fans and following. She’s is, to the Asatru and Heathenry communities, what Timothy J. Alexander is to the Hellenic Polytheism community: Knowledgeable and researched, yes, but toxic and closed-minded as well.
In fact, there are many more toxic BNPs that are also successful pagan authors, and this is a problem that doesn’t get addressed nearly enough in the pagan community. It also makes researching, when you’re new to your faith, tough – it’s like navigating through a minefield. There are plenty of Neowiccan authors that get a lot of flack in the community for “fluffiness,” manipulative behavior toward minors, a lack of credible information, such as Silver Ravenwolf, DJ Conway, and the Frosts.
When it comes to Wiccans, the pagan community is all too happy to call out authors for that particular branch of the community, and while that is a good thing, it’s just not enough. There are reconstructionist authors that are just as toxic, just as ignorant, and just as manipulative. Not only that, each community has a unique set of problems that it has to deal with – the Asatru community and its growing numbers of Neonazis, the Kemetic community and its history of antisemitism, the Hellenisimos and sexism, and so on.
I’m not here to call out every last religious community for every potential issue they face. Every community, and you can bet your firstborn’s soul that I’m including Atheism in this as well, has its share of problems.
Rather, the point of this post is to simply bring awareness to some of these issues, because there are a lot of them, and as long as people remain afraid to challenge some of these big names in paganism, people are going to get hurt. Young people in particular are going to be taken advantage of, manipulated, and abused.
Proper research is difficult when you don’t know which sources to trust, and on the subject of “trustworthy” authors, I will say this: An author can be a complete bastard and still know their stuff. I have some massive problems with Timothy Jay Alexander as a person due to experiences with him and his clique, but I’d be lying if I said that he’s completely clueless about his religion. That said, the content in his books is all basic Hellenic Polytheism 101 type stuff that you can find for free online, so while it might be accurate, it’s also probably not worth paying for.
Your best bet, assuming you’re interested in Hellenic Polytheism, is to read up on ancient source materials by Homer and Hesiod and pairing it with historical records. It’s worthwhile to read books that come from a more academic perspective than a religious perspective, because they’re less likely to suffer from Silver Ravenwolf Syndrome. Historians can and do project their own personal political or ideological viewpoints, whether consciously or subconsciously, but academic sources are still the least “corrupted” sources of information that you are likely to get.
It’s the hard truth that when people become “big names” in any religion, they very often do become power-hungry, and they will often push their own UPG as “canon” in order to manipulate their fans. Frankly, I don’t trust the majority of BNPs I’ve come across, because many of them share the same attributes, engage in the same bullying type of behavior, and are generally intolerant towards anyone with differing viewpoints or beliefs. Sadly, many of them are more concerned with feeding their egos than with looking out for their respective communities.
While many of their books are decent “jumping off” points for getting started on a religious path, never be afraid to challenge what they say, and form your own opinions. Never be afraid to question what you’re told, because that is the only way you can truly learn something for yourself. And, just as importantly, if a prominent figure in your community makes you uncomfortable, do not feel obligated to stay loyal to them or take them at their word simply because they’re more experienced. A good, respectable religious leader is one who prioritizes their community’s well-being along with their relationship with their deities, and is willing to admit when they are wrong about something – either academically or ethically.