Archive for August, 2015
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.
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.
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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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!”
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.
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.
(Note: this is a lesson in sarcasm & satire)
In the next portion of Approaching Paganism, we’ll learn about some of the requirements of being a Pagan. Yes, as I’ve said before Paganism is a very broad term and there are many ways to be Pagan. But there are certain behavior patterns that we all must observe, or surely our communities and traditions will disintegrate.
- Whenever anyone makes a statement like “many Pagans celebrate holiday X”, “X is a common Pagan practice” disregard all qualifiers like “many, some, common” etc. Interpret this as “all Pagans celebrate holiday X or practice Y form of meditation.”
- Whatever reasons you were attracted to Paganism and the areas of Paganism you focus on (nature, magic, deities, a particular culture) those must be the reasons everyone is Pagan too! They may claim it’s something else, but clearly they’re just not seeing things clearly, and it is your sworn duty as a Pagan to help them “see the light”. If they resist, they are oppressing you!
- If you are worshiping and praying in a specific way, and others are not, it is your sworn duty to enlighten them to the fact that they aren’t “serious” Pagans. They are lazy, and the Gods don’t love them they way that they love you.
- If you are a very mainstream, respectable sort of person .ow that you have arrived on the Pagan scene, everyone needs to accept you as their leader, cut off their beards/dreadlocks/green hair, and cease their poly/kinky/queer ways and stop wasting time praying, casting spells, indulging in cosplay and other childish nonsense (and there isn’t really a difference between these things either!) They need to don business suits, and get Real Grown-up Jobs (seriously they expect to be paid to do art or perform spiritual services! what nonsense!) After much protest, everyone will be grateful to you for reforming them and realize you were right all along!