Way of the Sacred Fool Update

Self-Care Spirituality– this is about the theory, the next will be about practice

September 1, 2015 at 2:17 am Leave a comment

Send Heathens to the Parliament of the World’s Religions!

Source: Send Heathens to the Parliament of the World’s Religions!

August 27, 2015 at 2:21 am Leave a comment

Ignore the Bullies, and Keep Being Awesome

The Bullies Don’t Actually Know You: A Vital Reminder in How Crowd-Sourced Jerks Work

Over the years, I’ve seen various people with eloquent and well thought out opinions and positive contributions retreat from online spaces because they couldn’t take the bullying and the obnoxious comments. Some people just make their blogs comment-free. Others retreat completely. This is all an individual choice, but the problem just gets worse whenever we do this- we cede more territory to the nasty people. Remember, they are a relative minority- the loudest, most obnoxious, often unemployed for a reason (nothing against unemployed people- I’m one of them after all!) They are not a true reflection of the entire community or subculture that they participate in online.

Now, building face to face, in person community is important, and I try to use the Internet as a tool for doing that- I sometimes hear from people in a particular community who poo-poo it all and think that they are better because they managed to find each other in (insert decade here) the old-fashioned way. Well, that’s nice, but not everyone happens to be in the right place to just stumble across other people of a particular religious, sexual minority, disability, hobby group or what have you. Sometimes you are dealing with people that are more in the closet about various things, and you have to find a way to lure them out- at least into a space they feel safe. For some folks, that space will continue to be primarily online. Some people are geographically isolated. They may not be able to afford to go to Pagan festivals, science fiction conventions, or bisexual conferences. They may have complex health needs, businesses to run or young children or elderly parents to take care of. They may even be homeless or living in a group home or mental institution, but Tumblr or Twitter are places they can reach the outside world on their smart phone and get support and information. For some people, this can be a life or death connection. So let’s not tell them that they are just “slacktivists” and lazy homebodies when we don’t know their situation.

These are the folks I’m thinking of who keep me writing online. I try to get past all the drama, just transcend, and remember why I’m here and what I’m doing. Moderate your comments- delete the abusive ones, the derailing ones, the ones that just don’t add to conversations. Write a FAQ or a “How to Be an Ally to Group X” (or link to either) so you don’t have to keep answering the same questions, but at the same time, don’t bite people’s heads off for asking them. Just say “Good question- please read the FAQ/101 Masterpost, and let me know if you want to know more”. When people tell you “your interpretation of feminism/queer theory/Norse mythology/Star Wars canon is WRONG!!! Tell them, OK then why don’t you make your own post/essay/ritual/interpretative dance/fan fiction/workshop and do it your way. Some people just want attention, any attention even if it’s negative. Sometimes we can re-direct them in a more positive direction. Sometimes they will just sit in the corner and pout and try to cause trouble another day. Sometimes they’ll surprise you, because you’re the first person to consider their pet theory/idea/project (even if you think it’s totally out there/impractical/silly) But if they are willing to create their thing and follow their groove while playing well with others, I’ll give them a shout-out, even if it’s not my cut of tea.

But I love the internet, because it’s a giant marketplace of ideas. Many of them are bad. Some of them are harmful. Some of them are good- and even really cool. So keep coming up with new ideas and developing them and sharing them with like-minded people. Keep Being Awesome.

Your Fandom’s OK, my Fandom’s OK

August 27, 2015 at 12:30 am 1 comment

Pagan Identity and Responsibility

I’ve enjoyed the contributions of other nontheistic & pantheistic Pagans like the 2 Lupas (Lupa Greenwolf & Rua Lupa)- their approaches to nature have enriched my own. But they do their thing and respect that their approaches aren’t for everyone. We often come into Paganism with a particular vision and focus and that’s fine as long as we don’t expect everyone to be on board with that same vision. Nature/Earth/the environment both physically and spiritually are important to me, it long has been before I became a Pagan. Including a diverse range of human beings and their access to equitable resources in society is also important to me, and also was a value before I became Pagan, so is creativity and the arts- religion is to me, in some respects a dimension of that creativity. I also value the continuance of human cultural diversity and many languages and cultures around the world- and the ecosystems they are intimately connected with are endangered. I draw inspiration from Irish and Scottish culture, and so I have been working on learning Irish and promote understanding, interest and awareness of living Celtic cultures to broader Pagan-dom and my community in the Twin CIties metro area of Minnesota. I think most people who like to claim a single-minded devotion to saving the planet, or any other cause typically have other  interests, jobs, relationships and self-care that they need to take time for. People who 100% devote themselves to only one cause, and think they are superior to everyone, often find themselves rather lonely and unhealthy- both mentally and physically (this is not to stigmatize anyone who does activism while dealing with mental or physical disabilities)

The major reasons for banding together as a pan-Pagan alliance are two-fold- One– is to work together to preserve and ensure our religious freedoms, (in the U.S. separation of church and state) making sure there is an understanding and inclusion of Pagan religions in various institutions such as ones in which chaplains serve (hospitals, the military, colleges, prisons etc.) There is also a growing recognition that atheists and agnostics have spiritual needs as well- needing counseling while in difficult transitions and officiants at rites of passage. Commonly therapists and government officials can fill those functions, but sometimes folks find humanist celebrants and chaplains to be helpful as well.

Two– within our own sects, paths and traditions we are often isolated, and so we band together for a broader community.

Some folks are less focused on those goals, don’t feel a need for them and prefer to not be associated with the pan-Pagan alliance. That is fine. That is their choice. I like to keep the alliance open to those who may need it, but I also don’t appreciate fair-weather friends. Don’t scorn us and then call us up crying when you face discrimination, or can’t find an understanding clergy person to talk to when your relative dies. To give another comparison, it’s like how I advocate in the GLBT+ community for including asexual spectrum people who have needs for community and protection from discrimination. Some ace spectrum people may not choose to identify with us, some may find their needs better met by say, a singles rights organization. But in case they need us, we’re here. Likewise, polyamorous, swinging, kinky communities and heterosexual crossdressers may also have common interests with GLBT+ folks, though cis and heterosexual members of those communities may not face stigma and discrimination in the ways that we do and so we’d rather they not claim the word queer for themselves. (Though to be fair, maybe I could say the same of wealthy nondisabled cis white gay men…)

Likewise let’s consider the ethics of identifying as Pagan- it’s a very broad word, no one has copyright on it- technically it means “country dweller” with a connotation of “hick who does old-fashioned stuff”. But when identifying as a Pagan, please remember that it has the connotation of “religious outsider”. Atheists face discrimination in some parts of our society, but there are also some spaces- particularly in academia in which an atheist, agnostic or simply secular person is more accepted as more “serious and professional” than anyone with a “strange” religion. So don’t claim the word pagan thinking it only means “someone who thinks Nature is really important” and use our communities and resources and then get embarrassed by those of us who actually are religious outsiders and marginalized in various ways by society.

August 25, 2015 at 10:15 pm 1 comment

Do you have to be a freak to be a Pagan?

caelesti:

Probably the worst aspect of Pagan and Heathen communities is the reactionary mentality- it can be to one extreme or the other- Saying “everyone must be as mainstream or normal as possible” is wrong but so is “everyone must be artsy/alternative-y” etc. Be yourself and do what fits with your personality, values, interests etc. Now we can be honest and say, that some choices we make can get more or less social approval points depending on what setting we are in. I think the problem sometimes people aren’t honest about that- for example, it actually can take a fair amount of privilege, access to certain information, money or simply living in a liberal area to participate in some “alternative” subcultures- being able to be openly Pagan/polytheist/heathen, openly polyamorous/kinky, being able to pursue an artistic, academic or activist-based lifestyle or career (yes, many people who are artists and activists by vocation are low-income, but they often have good social networks & access to resources that make their poverty suck less than do less bohemian poor people.) Some professional type jobs allow more personal freedom of expression, others do not. People of color and/or low-income/working class folks who make “alternative-y” lifestyle choices of various kinds often have to take on more risks to their personal safety, discrimination and so forth.

Originally posted on A Heathen Naturalist:

This is an old post, in internet-time at least, and I intended to comment on it sooner, but then decided not to, but then I keep thinking about it.

One of the first posts on the Gods and Radicals blog was “Respectability Politics: Act Like The System so that The System Will Listen?” That spawned a lot of “Yeah! Let your freak flag fly! We don’t need to be respectable!” type responses.

This is a problem that I’ve run into before in Pagan circles, so I’m sure it will come up again.

Shucks, it’s a problem I ran into in middle school! In my middle school, the “cool kids” were the freaks. They did drugs, rode skateboards, dressed like Kurt Cobain, listened to grunge music (though some of them were “goths” instead and listened Korn and Marilyn Manson), had tattoos and piercings, had sex, made bad grades, and got in…

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August 13, 2015 at 10:16 pm 5 comments

New Books!

New books that have come out lately, as well as news about upcoming ones that you can help contribute to financially and creatively!

Komos: Celebrating Festivals in Contemporary Hellenic Polytheism by Dver. Buy it from Createspace and  she will make more.

From the Roaring Deep: a Devotional for Poseidon and the Spirits of the Sea from Biblioteca Alexandrina

T.P. Ward is also fund-raising for illustrations for a book of prayers he has written for Poseidon

Asphodel Press also has call for submissions for a devotional anthology to Njord

“Are you fond of Njord, the peacemaking Norse God of Ships? Well, you’re certainly not alone, and I need your help to put together a devotional anthology for Him! I’m looking for writings of any sort, be they rituals, retellings of an encounter, poetry, or so on, preferably under 8000 words per submission, as well as any art that is in or would translate well to grayscale. You are welcome to submit pieces of yours that have already been published or posted online as long as they are still legally your property.

Please send your submissions to littlemonkfish@gmail.com with the name you want the piece published under by October 31st. After the book is published, I will contact you for your mailing info and send you a complimentary copy of the devotional in thanks. All profits made from the book sales will go to The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association ( gfwa.org ) in His honor.

I’m excited to see what you all have to offer! Hail Njord!”

August 13, 2015 at 3:03 am Leave a comment

Regional/Cultural Divisions in North America

There are various ways people have tried to divide North America based on cultural settlement, economic activity, etc. Though really, the biggest division tends to be between the urban and rural areas! But if you’re curious here are some books, they are in reverse chronological order. I have only read the 9 Nations one. I think what is a lot more useful, would be to research the history and culture of the particular area you live in. (Above link compares these various books)

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (2011) This sounds like it oversimplifies and leaves out a lot about later immigration.

American Colonies: the Settling of North America by Alan Taylor (2001) This one covers all the European colonial powers, so- Dutch, British, French, Spanish. Might be of interest.

Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer (1989) This one really goes into cultural differences between early British settlements, and is definitely on my to-read list!

The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau (1981) I think this has similar problems to the Eleven Nations book

Immigration & Assimilation from European Ethnic to “Whiteness”

How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev (this one I have actually read- very good, though depressing!)

Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America by Matthew Frye Jacobson

Special Sorrows: the Diasporic Imaginations of Irish, Polish & Jewish Immigrants in the United States by Matthew Frye Jacobson

Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants & the Alchemy of Race by Matthew Frye Jacobson

Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White by David Roediger

**Good White People: the Problem with Middle Class White Anti-Racism by Shannon Sullivan (this sounds very good!)

After reading  reviews I would NOT recommend these-

Are Italians White? How Race is Made in America- the reviewer notes that the authors only compare Italian-Americans with African-Americans, not with Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Latinos or other groups that might have more similarities. It does not take into consideration discrimination that did take place against Italians, and especially Sicilians.

How Jews Became White Folks by Karen Brodkin- apparently the problem with this one is that it does not discuss the background of anti-Semitism in Europe much, and is better at discussing gender issues than racial issues. There are plenty of other books about Jewish American identity & assimilation, so I would look elsewhere.

Note

Please share if you have any opinions on these books or additional ones that may be of interest. There is most certainly *much more* out there to read about various cultural influences in the U.S. and Canada- I am sorting through stuff about European immigration due to my own interests and focus, so this is not to exclude anyone else!

I have started reading “A Different Mirror- A History of Multicultural America” by Ronald Takaki which is quite good so far.

Warning- For anyone who reads this, and decides I am “anti-white people”, “racist against white people”, “anti-American” etc. and feels the need to trumpet this, your comments will be deleted.

August 11, 2015 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

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