A reader asked me how people of color feel excluded from Pagan communities- outside of overtly racist groups- and I repeated things I’ve seen discussed by Pagans of color on their blogs- much of it is subtle social exclusion, but there are also assumptions that individuals should follow their “ancestral traditions” while assuming based on looks what that persons’ ancestry is, that maybe they do honor their ancestral culture, or that they have tried it and doesn’t work for them and they feel called to a different path, and so forth.
I’d recommend reading those blogs yourselves, so I’m making a list of links, please add any that you know of in the comments.
One theme I have noticed from Pagans of color is that many of them are sick of educating white Pagans on “racism 101″, and that they want us to educate ourselves. Sometimes Pagans of color also want their own space where they do not have to worry about racial issues- just as women and GLBT folks sometimes do- or heck Pagans do- there is a Pagans of Color suite at Pantheacon for this reason.
We Are Pagans of Color on tumblr- has a great list of resources
The Invisibility Cloak: Race & the Pagan by Black Witch
Social Unrest & Reflections of Pagans of Color at the Wild Hunt
More to come…
Anyway, I would like to volunteer to answer questions about racial/cultural issues from white folks- Pagan or otherwise- if you have a question you think is too basic or clueless and will annoy your friends of color, please ask here. Of course I’d like people to do their “racial homework” but I can’t force all white pagans to read books/websites on white privilege and racial issues, and go out and learn about other cultures, so I’ll keep posting resources, but this is additional form of outreach that hopefully may help reduce tensions. Please ask questions that inform and add to our communit(ies) racial and cultural understanding- not counterproductive questions. If it seems to be a question better answered by a person of color, then I will pass it along. And conversely, if you are a blogger/website owner etc. of color who is getting questions that you think whites need to figure out for themselves, you can talk to me. You can comment on this blog, otherwise my e-mail is caelesti AT gmail dot com
I don’t claim to know everything- I’m continually unlearning society’s racism and classism and doing my “racial homework” both academically and as an activist, and often with some “tough love” help from folks of color- who have given me chances and patience that I didn’t necessarily deserve!
Part of the reason I wrote that long post on Functions of Clergy was to develop ideas on what role(s) I feel called to play in my communities. Among Pagans, there is sometimes an assumption that anyone who is a “serious” spiritual practitioner has the goal to be clergy. In Wicca, getting a 3rd degree initiation generally means you are considered a priest/ess, and it was once assumed that was the goal for all Wiccans, but it’s not necessarily the case these days. It’s even trickier when your entire religion is rather misleadingly named after an elite caste of educated clergy/judges/magicians etc- Druids. ADF has a clear definition and training system in place for our clergy, and we have many other roles that are greatly valued within our organization. We have the Guilds- Bards, Warriors, Brewers, Artisans, Scholars, Liturgists, Magicians, Seers, each has its own training program. We have Orders that focus on particular deities and mysteries. You need to go through the basic Dedicant Program to go on to these other types of training, but we try to be clear that the DP is not required to be a good upstanding ADF member.
Anyway, back to me- after my numerous attempts at involvement in Pagan ritual groups, I’ve found that leading and participating in them doesn’t seem to be working out. There may be a right situation, with the right people that comes along, but I am not going to force it out of desperation for community if that community is dysfunctional or just doesn’t fit with my schedule/transportation needs. This situation reminds me a lot of being single but open to relationships that arise (quirkyalone), vs. compulsive dating even when you’re burned out because you feel like you “have to” be in a relationship. Or staying in bad relationship for the wrong reasons.
I am interested in being possibly being involved with broader groups like Paganicon and discussion/meetup type groups (a friend of mine is thinking of starting one up) I am interested in helping with projects in ADF and various polytheist groups. I am interested in working one on one- or in small groups to help seekers and solitaries learn more about various polytheistic religions. This may involve teaching a class or leading a workshop. In other words- peer solitary ministry. Because guess what: 80% (or more?) of Pagans are solitary and lack access to many of the social functions that organized religion provides- then again so do most Pagans who belong to ritual groups.
My biggest interest right now though, is to help empower other adults and teens on the autism spectrum. To help them live happy, full successful lives- and by success I mean as they define it, not as hyper-capitalist society defines it. Pursuing their interests, connecting with other people in healthy ways (friends, romantic partners, family) finding work that is economically, emotionally and intellectually sustainable, stable housing, healthcare etc. And finding a spiritual path and perhaps community, if that is what they seek, that suits their needs as an autistic person. To do this work I will need to partner with many different types of communities and organizations. I would love to use my skills and experiences as an autistic adult to help people in Pagan, spiritual and geeky subcultures because I believe there are many people with autistic traits who are not getting the help that they need. Many of these people are not identified or do not identify as autistic, and I do not consider it my place to label them as such. I will educate other folks about autism, and ways of coping and working with it, and if people recognize traits in themselves or others, and they see solutions that might help them or their loved ones, then awesome. If they need services and accommodations that require a documented disability, then I can help refer them. But for some folks recognizing, “I’m an introvert, or have trouble with non-verbal communication, or sensory issues- and that’s OK! There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just wired a little differently, and here are some ways I can deal with a world that isn’t designed for people like me.” is a huge first step.
Failure- Conor Warren,
Fate/Free Will – Mistress of the Hearth points out that it isn’t either/or- ones choices determine ones’ later fate. Reminds me a bit of the Heathen concept of Wyrd.
Fetish- Australia Incognita defines and reflects on her use of fetishes- objects which have sacred significance- or actually contain a spirit, Urban Meliad muses on returning to the original magical/religious connotation of “fetish” in kinky subcultures
Feasting with the Dead- Hearth Moon Rising
Filling the Well- Land, Sea & Sky
Fire (Fire Dance) the Magickal Pen
Fisher King- at the Water’s Edge writes of a figure in Arthurian legend
Gwynn ap Nudd could be considered the Welsh equivalent of Fionn Mac Cumhal. Gwyn like Fionn, means “white” with the connotation of fair, blessed or holy. Gwyn is even more otherworldly than his Irish counterpart- he is the King of the Fairies and Lord of the Otherworld/Underworld, and like Fionn is leader of the Wild Hunt. He is the son of Nudd, the god of war, who is equivalent to the Irish Nuada. He battles every Calan Mai (May 1) with Gwythyr ap Greidal for the maiden Creiddylad daughter of Lludd, who may also be his sister (if you consider Lludd to be the same as Nudd) There is a common motif in Celtic myth and legend of a love triangle between a woman- a “flower maiden” representing the fertility and sovereignty of the land- and two men: an older man, representing winter and the waning solar year, and a youth representing summer and the waxing solar year.
Fionn in contrast, is a human with a strong connection to the Otherworld. In the tale “The Pursuit of Grainne and Diarmuid” Grainne is the daughter of King Cormac promised to an older Fionn, but she falls in love with Diarmuid, a Fenian warrior who elopes with her, and they are pursued by the Fenians. Also, unlike Gwyn, Fionn is not a king- though he is associated with King Cormac, but he is the leader of the Fenians- the rigfennid- an “outsider king” which makes him something of a contradiction. He is also the great-grandson of Nuada. Another difference is that I have not seen much association with Gwyn & poetry- though music and poetry are in general associated with the fairies.
UPG: I don’t necessarily consider Gwyn & Fionn to be exactly the same being, but I think heroes, deities, legendary and folkloric figures don’t have totally distinct identities in the way that humans do. Their identities blur together to some degree, and often “cluster” together- I’ve noticed this tendency even moreso among Celtic goddesses.
In addition to being a G entry for Pagan Blog Project, this post also partly answers questions #6 and #8 of 30 Days of Deity Devotion.