Educating about Paganism, without kicking Satanists under the bus

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!

References:

http://www.theisticsatanism.com/pagan/CritiqueDisclaimers.html

http://www.theisticsatanism.com/pagan/HistoryWicca.html

October 2, 2014 at 3:27 am 3 comments

I’ll Take Liberal Christians/Jews over Conservative Pagans

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!

October 2, 2014 at 12:37 am Leave a comment

Additional Blog for My Tours and Other Talents

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.

October 1, 2014 at 1:28 am Leave a comment

CFS: History of Trans-feminism Anthology

(Note: These are not my stories to tell, but I am happy to pass the word along about this wonderful project! From the Feminists Fighting Transphobia group on Facebook

From Emmagene Kaytlyn Cronin:

“So here’s the deal friends. The trans community currently has a dearth on reference or resources about those that have built our movement. We may have some aspects of their stories recorded, their transitions spoken about, etc…, but we lack any centralized collection of our lives as activists, and the stories behind that activism. We are spoken about often, but our personal, and individual stories are missing; those that will come after us will be looking for direction on how to do, and grow, what we have devoted our live (many with years of work still ahead of them) to achieving.

Therefore, I would like to start the process of collecting these stories of our feminist (by any stripe you label it) roots, how we became feminists, how we got started in our activism, how that activism has been empowering to others, and how our activism has empowered us. Though I disagree with Andrea James on a great many things, I find that her work, an format, on the book Letters for My Sisters is appropriate here.

We, as the trans activist community – a wide ranging group of intersectional individuals, are leading a movement that is no different than our sisters of color did with mainstream white feminism. We are lending our voices to third wave feminism, and transforming it into a wider reaching, more inclusive movement – everyones work involved in this need to be told.

So if you have any recommendations for individuals that you believe should be included in this anthology, please reach out to me and let me know or better yet, reach out to them and have them get ahold of me. Lets work together to create a book that celebrates the lives of these amazing people in their own words.

Emma

My goal for possible publication is fall 2015.

September 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment

More Recent Discussions on Mental Health & Resources

In addition to Camilla Laurentina’s post that I just re-blogged, here are some other posts on mental health- some related to hers, some not.

*Newly added as of 9/24-

“If You Just..” .by Nornoriel Lokason

On Fibromyalgia & Spiritual Emergency by Beth Lynch

Pride in Madness: Suicide is Not Just a Depression Problem (response to a HuffPost article)

Loki’s Bruid (Heather Freysdottir) Let’s Talk About Mental Health

“I am a firm believer in the notion of using both holistic and western medicine to treat my own physical and mental health – and I still find it odd that we separate out mental – that is stigma, right there. Isn’t your brain in your head, which is part of your body? I have used both conventional and hypnotherapy to treat my PTSD, because my therapist uses both methods, and I picked her for her woo-friendliness. Yes, therapists can be asshats about mysticism. You know what? So can doctors and specialists. You know what you do to a doctor or a therapist who doesn’t respect your opinions about your body? You fire them and go find another.”

Let’s Talk About Health & Social Services Emergency & Community Resources PermaPage (PDF of social/health/housing etc. services in Central Florida)

Another resource I found useful is Chronically Skeptical, which is a forum/info page for folks with chronic illness and disabilities (including mental illness) that is free of alternative health treatment claims/magical/mystical stuff etc. Even if you are open to some of those things, this is a place you can do without having them shoved unwanted in your face. I think this would also be good for the autism/autistic community. It’s more of a problem in parent-oriented groups, but now and then I get people in the adults with autism communities who latch onto unproven “treatments” for autism. Blech.

A couple of useful articles I found via Chronically Skeptical: 6 Common Misconceptions about the Chronically Ill (Note: bad language use- should be “chronically ill people or people with chronic illnesses” not “the disabled, the homeless, the deaf etc)” Otherwise, decent article.

The Extra Burdens Faced by Young People with Chronic Illness A Sign of Strength? Commentary on a Facebook meme that seems well-meaning but sends misleading and harmful messages about mental illness. Unfortunately that describes a lot of Internet memes!

September 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community

caelesti:

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

September 23, 2014 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment

Disability and Health Disparities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Adults

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!

Disability Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Adults: Disparities in Prevalence and Risk- January 2012

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.”

Health Disparities Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Older Adults- June 2013

RESULTS:
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..

 

September 19, 2014 at 3:29 am Leave a comment

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