Archive for August 8, 2014

Depression/Mental Health Pagan Links

When searching for articles, posts and books on Paganism and depression/mental illness, I found so much stuff that I decided to make another post to include these resources, in addition to the general Pagan/Disability resources post. I will make another post about distinguishing mental illness from shamanism/visionary/magical experiences etc.

Pagans, Mental Health & Abuse– extra kudos for discussion of related social justice issues involving shame, access to care etc.

Pagans in Recovery by Isaac Bonewits- Old essay- numbers of people with “issues” may be exaggerated…for one I will say as an Aspie, I have detected a noticeable number of Pagans who may be unlabeled Aspies, but I don’t think *most* Pagans have Asperger’s/autism.

Pagan Therapy & Counseling– blog last updated in 2013, but still has good info

Dealing with DepressionExhaustion, Bees and Depression by Nimue Brown This is advice for people who have depressed friends/family members in their lives- very helpful and not specific to Paganism, the second is social commentary. I also thought she wrote a book about depression, but I can’t seem to find mention of it!

Finding Motivation– (and other posts) by Nornoriel Lokason on the Staff of Asclepius blog (Depression & PTSD)

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Level of Skepticism by Sarah Anne Lawless

“Almost everyone in the Pagan community has suffered from a mental illness at some point in their life because 20% of the general population (in Canada) has had mental health problems during their lifetime.” Err, not sure about that statement. It’s a lot though.

“Sometimes the (online and physical) Pagan Community is too accepting and accommodating of everyone’s own personal level of crazy. Because we are on the fringe, many think we have to accept anyone who identifies as one of us and take them as they come.  Sometimes we are too afraid to tell someone they are crazy (this is especially hard to do when the person in question is in a leadership role). After all, who is a Pagan (believing in many gods, spirits, and magic) to tell someone they’re nuts or are taking something too far? But when no one calls a stop or calls bullshit, then things do get taken too far and people with real mental illnesses end up being accepted as sane.”

My “primary” line with other people is when they want me involved in their “weird”. What’s my motivation? If people want to involve me in their personal weird/kink… they need to provide a reason for me to care.”- comment from Scylla

I feel that way too. I meet a lot of Pagans that are *so relieved to be accepted* that they feel the need to share everything (Hell, I’ll admit, I’ve probably been guilty of this at times too!) I’m pretty open-minded and accepting and non-threatening seeming so often I get Way TMI pseudo-therapy session info-dumps from people I just met. Umm, thanks for sharing. Some of these people just really need a friend. I understand that but *insta-friendship* share all your personal info at once is a good way to scare people off, not keep friends. It also leaves a person very vulnerable to manipulative people. Boundaries are a thing a lot of us need to work on.

Pagan & Crazy by Alexandra Chauran- “My Pagan path has led me to British Traditional Wicca, which can be a complicated route to follow when mentally ill.  Not only do I deal with the psychological issues inherent in any religious practice that involves the supernatural, but Traditional Wicca requires that I work with others who are historically cautious about the company they keep. In fact, Ed Fitch wrote a document titled “So You Want To Be A Gardnerian” that implies that the ideal prospective coven member is, “not currently in psychological therapy.” Coven of the Wild Rose does not accept people who take psychotropic medications or require therapy and writes as a footnote to the above document that, “if you cannot function as a fully responsible adult individual in the mundane reality then you cannot function effectively in the magical/mystical realities and should not even attempt to do so until you have all your oars in the water and they are working all in proper tandem.”- last part in bold seems reasonable to me.

I can understand if very disciplined, focused magical groups are more restrictive in their membership, personally I think people with mental health issues that are getting treatment and have been stable for a certain length of time should be included, a similar rule could be in place for former/recovering addicts & alcoholics. I think excluding anyone who takes SSRIs and such and/or sees a therapist now and then but otherwise lives a stable life is ridiculous.

August 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment

Myth of the Perfect Social Justice Ally

Thanks to the internet, there are lists of “How to Be a Good Ally” directed towards members of many different social advantaged groups: whites, heterosexuals, men, middle/upper class people, able-bodied, neurotypical, and cisgendered (that’s non-transgendered) people. While that’s fine and dandy and many of them do give good advice, I still don’t call myself an ally. There is way too much baggage attached to it, and activism is already hard enough!

There is myth of the perfect ally held among white & class privileged people, and its why I find white anti-racism groups to be hostile to newcomers, certain exceptionally enlightened white people think they can do no wrong and jump on other people when they mess up. Good intentions are no excuse for ignorance, prospective allies are told in every possible type of ism-fighting group. It’s not my responsibility to educate you, use Google if you have a question!

Now, I can understand impatience and distrust from people of various non-dominant groups. Many of them who have fought long and hard in the trenches know there is no magical exceptionally enlightened cadre of white folks, men, heterosexuals etc. I realize as a person with various privileges, I will have to prove myself again and again, and some people will never completely trust me. I don’t blame them. But it is extra hypocritical and annoying to get this from people who have the same privileges- and often more privilege than me. What’s so special about them? They went to the right grad school and studied with Cornell West or Judith Butler? They’re teaching in the South Side of Chicago? They’re good anarchist vegan Buddhists? They betrayed whatever dominant group they belong to, and have suffered mightily for it?  Please. Whatever they’ve done, they too are the product of a racist/classist/everything else-ist society, and they continually need to unlearn that. They’re only one slip-up away from losing that book contract or speaking gig about diversity issues. Gee, that sounded kind of bitter. Yes I admit that maybe I’m a little jealous of career activists. But my point stands- there is no perfect ally!

I suppose if I didn’t belong to any non-dominant/oppressed groups, this empathy would be a lot harder for me. But I know many times, reaching out to non-autistic people, and even autistic people who have a negative Autism Speaks view autism, is hard. I don’t have the luxury of brushing them off and telling them to “just Google it” when they ask me questions that seem ignorant. I try to meet people where they are. Sometimes I get frustrated with people who claim to support people with autism but go about it in (I think) the wrong way.  But I try to set aside my anger and explain how I feel.  And I have to deal with difficulties of communicating with a neurotypical each time I do that.

Every “ism” is different, every person who experiences and benefits in different way from each “ism” is different. We all have our journey we have to take in understanding that. Some people won’t get very far on those journeys, but they won’t even be able to start if we won’t talk to them.

August 8, 2014 at 1:21 am Leave a comment


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