Now as Samhain (Celtic and more broadly Pagan) and Halloween (secularized version of Christianized Samhain) approaches, many Pagans, Druids and Witches will be doing work to educate the public about our religions and holidays. I have some suggestions about this.
*Witchcraft and Wicca are not synonymous
*Not all Pagans/polytheists etc. celebrate Samhain as religious holiday (or even Halloween as a secular holiday, especially if they live in a country where it isn’t typically observed)
*It’s pronounced saw-winn dammit!
*It may also be worth mentioning that Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a different holiday of Mexican origin, though it bears many similarities to Samhain.
Another problem that often arises in public relations work surrounding Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-Paganism is the usual “We’re Not Satanists!” disclaimer. Now while it’s fine to calmly explain to people that we honor deities and spirits of pre- (or possibly post-) Christian mythology and folklore and this does not include Satan, there are actual Satanists and Luciferians out there and I don’t think we should be well, demonizing them. It’s because of public relations that we often do not include these folks in our communities, we are too paranoid about being confused with them. One argument I also often hear is that Satanists draw on Judeo-Christian mythology, so they should be included as Pagans, going by the non-Abrahamic definition. With all the angels, Kabbalah and other Jewish and Christian derived magic and folklore in our altars and bookshelves this is rather silly to me. I do notice a sort of feminist bias- reclaiming Lilith and Mary as goddesses- totally cool! But Jesus and Satan? No way that’s the evil patriarchy!
My opinion on this has developed over time, after learning more about these religions and philosophies. A few years ago I remember reading a critique by Diane Vera, a theistic Satanist of the typical “We’re Not Satanists!” disclaimer, this particular one was written by ADF’s own Isaac Bonewits. I thought her arguments were all quite fair and valid. She also has an interesting essay discussing the origins of Wicca, and its ties with literary Satanism, which has more to do with the Enlightenment and people rebelling against the Catholic Church than worshipping Satan.
Now, I am not saying we all necessarily need to approve of Satanism and I don’t really feel like defending their “right” to be under the Pagan umbrella, since as I’ve discussed I’m not sure how much I really believe in the concept. But we should not be spreading misinformation about other people’s religions, even if we disagree with them. Pagans have just as many misconceptions of Satanists as Christians do, probably more since we’re more preoccupied with them “ruining our reputation”. I think it’s time we educated ourselves more, and I will continue this in my next post.
Personally, since I’ve long identified as a Druid, I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the Devil-worship PR issues Witches and Wiccans do, and fortunately most people in my area aren’t prone to read Jack Chick tracts (even my fundamentalist mother-in-law would likely find them ridiculous!) I’m more likely to have to explain that actually it’s a real religion, not just a class in D & D or World of Warcraft. (Which of course, are also Satanic!)
Lastly, if you’re going to call yourself a Witch, a Pagan, a Heathen or a Druid, be prepared for at least a little notoriety. Persecution and misinformation about our religions sucks. But a little hint of danger and mystique? You know you want it!
One aspect of the “We’re all one Big Happy Pagan Umbrella Community” mentality is that somehow, I’m supposed to feel like I have more in common with conservative-minded Pagans/Heathens/polytheists than with people who share my values but follow other religions. Here and there I’ve heard of Pagans running for office, and everyone gets all excited. But oh, wait they share none of my values. There was a Pagan in the Tea Party movement who was interviewed a while back. *Shudder* So then why should I support them? I’m sure the fact that they have minority religious views will all get swept under the rug when its convenient anyway. Pagans of all socio-political stripes have to keep their religion quiet sometimes, but I notice the people who push back the most about promoting “coming out of the broom closet” often make a big deal about how its private, the personal is most certainly not political, and ewww I don’t want to be publicly associated with all those deviant hippie polyamorous Ren-fest dorks! They remind me so much of Andrew Sullivan and other gay conservatives. Be quiet, be discreet, be personal. Don’t scare the straights!
I do try to make friends with or at least be friendly and civil with people whose politics differ from mine. But it seems increasingly difficult as I can’t quite squelch the feeling some people give me that, while they act all nice and polite, it’s nothing personal but yeah, people like me deserve “what we get”, we’re not working hard enough, or acting normal enough, and asking for more is just class warfare, or a way of inconveniencing business owners/employers by demanding “unreasonable” accommodations. Now I appear white, cisgendered and heterosexual and at least culturally middle class, so they can show me all their true colors while talking about Those Other Scary Poor Brown Queer People/Crazy Feminists/Communists etc.
So yeah serve the gods of capitalism, Ronald Reagan, the Patron Saint of trickle-down economics, the Goddess Ayn Rand and so forth and so on. But when it comes to pick teams, I’m joining up with the people of Sojourners and Tikkun and such. Sadly liberal Christianity and Judaism are in decline- at least institutionally. I’m concerned that non-affiliated liberals may be harder to organize. Pagans sure as hell are!
Hey folks- I have created an additional blog- Autistic Celt (one c) for more professional purposes so as to promote my tours with Erik’s Ranch & Retreats, an organization that provides employment and housing opportunities for adults with autism. One of my tours is focused on Irish culture in St. Paul, we go on a tour of the St. Paul Cathedral and then to O’Gara’s pub and sing songs there. I also give tours of the Pantages and State Theatres in Minneapolis. There’s always more I want to share with my tour-goers about life with autism, and Irish and Scottish culture. This is my only paid gig currently, and Erik’s Ranch has many other things on its plate so I decided to be more proactive in promoting it, as well as discuss my other talents and interests. I will probably cross-post things of interest to folks here, but post things that are mostly about the tours there.
I previously was blogging about disability/autism issues at Mariah’s Musings but in addition to my dislike of how blogger works, it also came to my attention that it is not accessible to blind folks using screen-readers, which to me defeats the point of blogging about disability issues! I am starting to move/copy posts from there to Autistic Celt.
On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community
Must-read. By the way anyone who comments on this blog insisting that people with mental or other health issues *only* use spiritual techniques or alternative treatments (and shames them for seeking other treatment) will be deleted and blocked.
Originally posted on Foxglove & Firmitas:
Alternative Title: I’m Gonna Keep Talking About This Until It’s a Generally Accepted Thing…
It happened again. Someone posted another article on mental illness being a sign of a healer being born on the Local Pagan Facebook Group with the general overarching but not direct message being that all native and ancient cultures saw it as this. Now I don’t deny that mental illness can be the birth of a healer. I’ve known too many people who have struggled with a history of it, myself included, that haven’t found themselves called to help others dealing with similar problems.
However, these articles tend to stress how society is actually the sick one, and how we need to stop shoving pills at people to fix all their problems.
Anyone who has ever been on psychiatric medication will probably tell you that pills don’t solve all the problems and most professionals are pretty…
View original 2,710 more words
There are significant disparities in the quality of health, and access to healthcare between American gay men, lesbians and bisexuals and the heterosexual population. Lesbians and bisexual men and women also tend to do worse than gay men, and transgender folks have even more cards stacked against them, I’m not even covering them quite yet!
Results. Findings indicated that the prevalence of disability is higher among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults compared with their heterosexual counterparts;lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults with disabilities are significantly younger than heterosexual adults with disabilities. Higher disability prevalence among lesbians and among bisexual women and men remained significant after we controlled for covariates of disability.
Conclusions. Higher rates of disability among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are of major concern. Efforts are needed to prevent, delay, and reduce disabilities as well as to improve the quality of life for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults with disabilities. Future prevention and intervention efforts need to address the unique concerns of these groups.
“Similarly, controlling for the disparate health-related conditions for lesbians (smoking, arthritis, obesity, and frequent mental distress) and bisexual women (smoking, arthritis, asthma, and frequent poor physical health and mental distress) only slightly reduced the disparity in disabilities compared with heterosexual women. These findings indicate that although prevention efforts for lesbians and bisexual women and men should focus on reducing the disparities in the disability-associated health conditions, unexplained elevated disability may remain for lesbians and bisexual women and men, which warrants further exploration. In addition, further research is needed to better understand other risk factors that may account for the higher prevalence of disability among LGB adults.”
LGB older adults had higher risk of disability, poor mental health, smoking, and excessive drinking than did heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women had higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and gay and bisexual men had higher risk of poor physical health and living alone than did heterosexuals. Lesbians reported a higher rate of excessive drinking than did bisexual women; bisexual men reported a higher rate of diabetes and a lower rate of being tested for HIV than did gay men. Conclusions. Tailored interventions are needed to address the health disparities and unique health needs of LGB older adults. Research across the life course is needed to better understand health disparities by sexual orientation and age, and to assess subgroup differences within these communities..