Archive for September, 2015

Cultural Sharing vs. Stealing- Past Posts

There’s been yet another dust-up on Pagan Patheos about cultural appropriation- I’m not bothering to post links, you can find them yourself, and I found both of them had a mix of things I agreed with & disagreed with.

So, I’m re-posting links to some older posts I’ve written on the subject. My views may not be exactly the same as the various times these were written, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s very difficult to have all around hard and fast rules about what’s OK and what’s not OK- many folks on Tumblr use the concept of “closed” and “open” cultures, and while it’s good that gets the concept across that some things are off limits, I think it’s also an oversimplification. Many people think Shinto and Hinduism are “closed” but I know non-Japanese and non-South Asian-descended people who practice those religions in fairly traditional ways. Other traditions that are seen as “open” like revived/reconstructed European traditions still have etiquette and taboos, so it’s not like Woo! anything goes!

Cultural Appropriation Has Lost Its Meaning– the Blargh! Everyone’s talking past each other! post

All Wrong: Religion, Culture, Country– the whatever, I don’t care anymore, everything White Americans Do is Wrong post

Educate Yourself!  Attempt at figuring out some guidelines for approaching other cultures respectfully

Encouraging Respectful Language while being respectful

How Folkish Heathenry Differs from Judaism & Native American tribes

Fellow White Liberals, We Created Rachel Dolezal

September 30, 2015 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

Pansexuals & Bisexuals- Suggested Communication Strategy

I came out around age 16, at that time, yes there was Internet, but there wasn’t a lot there yet- searching “bisexuality” would likely yield more porn than decent information, and I was fortunate enough to be living in large liberal metro area that had books about bisexuality and gay/lesbian/bisexual issues more generally in the library. I’ll admit that for myself at the time, my understanding of bisexuality was rather binary- an attraction to both men and women. However, this was more due to my understanding of gender at the time than definitions bisexual activists were promoting. Many bi folks did and still do, use definitions like “being attracted to one’s own gender and others”, but others did and still likely do use more gender binary definitions. Bi communities have frequently experienced overlap and allyship with trans communities and individual activists, but transphobia and cissexism has also occurred and still does in bi communities. I think we need to be honest about all this- warts and all, to both bi/pan and monosexual trans, genderqueer and cis folks. Let’s not pretend we have this magically more Enlightened Than HRC attitude.

With this honesty I believe we can sincerely and politely respond to various critiques of bisexual identity from folks who prefer pansexual identities. If we do this consistently, along with affirming the legitimacy and choice of other non-monosexual identities and labels (and desire to use none at all) and listen to younger people’s desires for distinctive identities, I think we can work toward a broader, more inclusive bi community, (or whatever we agree on calling it!). We need to stop publicly arguing with pansexuals over the bisexuality definition. I understand it’s frustrating, but instead let’s redirect the conversation. Say “We accept and include pansexuals and respect your identities, please respect ours. We’d like to dialog and learn about each other *in person* or perhaps over Video chat (Skype, Googletalk etc) or even just message one on one. Obviously we’ll want to limit that to folks who are 18, or have parental approval for everyone’s protection.

This section is for the pansexual folks- I admit I’m less familiar with y’all- but I’d like to address some things I’ve heard from and about *some* NOT ALL pansexuals.

I’d really appreciate it, if you have not already- please learn more about bisexual and transgender movement history- really it was B & T before G & L came along and acted like it was all their in the first place, and B & T were just tag-alongs. (I admit this statement is specific to United States, while I know bits and pieces about other countries, particularly Britain and Germany I’d need to do more research to learn how different identity groups played roles in other countries)

For those who believe in the bi means binary definition therefore I’m pan, I’d like you to consider that I know quite a few trans and non-binary people who identify as bisexual (or sometimes both bi & pan) and in fact, many of them are involved in the Bisexual Organizing Project, BECAUSE or other bisexual groups around the country. I’ve also seen definitions of pansexual that emphasize attraction to “men, women and trans people” which doesn’t seem to actually be respectful of trans people considered many of them *are* men and women. If you want to be an ally to trans people please actually learn about them- in person (if & when they want to talk about it!) books, documentaries, blogs etc. getting many different opinions- there is no Grand Trans High Council that decides which trans celebrities to anoint or whatever. I admit to be being in a continual learning process about gender diversity myself! Other trans people are non-binary, genderqueer, agender, bigender, neutrois etc. there may also be some such folks that don’t see themselves as under the trans umbrella- we all know how complex those “umbrella terms” are now, don’t we?

I have also heard concerns from some trans individuals that pansexual sometimes seems to be used by people who have a particular fetish-y interest in trans people- not always, but it’s something they at least see as a “red flag” while dating. Date people because they are attractive, cool and interesting people, not for social justice/diversity cookies, and same goes for making friends.

I’m also hearing a “I’m gender-blind, transcend gender, I care about people not parts” sorta thing, which sounds familiar, it’s the same twaddle I used to and sometimes still hear from bisexual folks. That may sound cool and enlightened, but it’s also comes off as really annoying and will not win you friends. Most straight and gay people I talk to who have described their experiences of attraction have more criteria than “this person has this gender”. People of every orientation are capable of being superficial, lookist, sizeist or whatever label of bad-ness that you can imagine. We’re human. Sometimes there are messed-up beauty standards we absorb, consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes we just have features that attract us and features that don’t.

Resources about Bi & Trans movements in the next post…stay tuned!

September 25, 2015 at 2:07 am 9 comments

Happy Multi-Gender Attracted Humans Exist Week!

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Image by Shiri Eisner at bidyke.tumblr.com

More commonly called Bisexuality Visibility Day or Celebrate Bisexuality Day, September 23 and the week of September 20-26th is a time to recognize and affirm multi-gender attracted identities- bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual, pan/biromantic asexual & demisexual, queer, fluid and so forth, and issues facing multi-gender attracted people.

Often-times our identities are erased and ignored, and people make assumptions about us based on who our current partner(s) happen to be. Misunderstanding in both broader heteronormative society and the gay and lesbian communities can lead to more isolation for bisexuals.

Statistics about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (or sometimes just GLB) have typically been lumped together, making it difficult to understand differences among these distinct groups. Wait, hold on. Statistics? Demographics? That’s boring, that’s not sexy, Mariah! Post a bi flag with a sparkly unicorn and talk about how awesome it is to be bi! Yes, I know statistics may seem boring and irrelevant to you personally, but here’s why they matter. They give us information about what bisexuals are experiencing, and the data we are starting to gather is showing us many serious health and economic disparities, even in comparison with gays and lesbians. (Trans people, who come in all orientations have it even worse) And in spite of this, bisexuals make up more than half of the GLB demographic, but specifically bisexual organizations and programs receive very little funding, and gay and lesbian led organizations that may include a “B” in their acronym, still may not understand how to serve and truly include the B.

Bisexuals this, bisexuals that. What about pansexuals? Yes, pansexuals and people who identify with other labels (or none at all) and attracted to more than one gender are included in these numbers. Or maybe they aren’t, it depends on how the questions in surveys are worded.

I have to say, that it still surprises me when I look at polls and see how many people don’t understand bisexuality. I came out when I was 16, 17 years ago, and have been fortunate enough to usually be around people to whom, I could at least educate about bisexuality, and at best reply to me “Well of course that’s a thing! I’m bi too, or my partner/friend/co-worker is bi”. I think we really need to expand awareness in broader heteronormative society- by heteronormative I mean, places and contexts in which people will generally assume everyone is heterosexual until proven otherwise. I feel that’s a much more accurate description than “straight community”.

Why are you so hung up on labels? Why can’t we just be people? I really wish the world was as open-minded as you, or as you believe it to be! Yes, ultimately we would like to live in a world in which we only really need orientation labels/identities when trying to indicate what sort of partner we are interested in. I think that is already happening with the younger generation, many of them just date or have sex with people, without being concerned about how the gender of their partners reflects on their identity! Many of them feel very accepted and affirmed in this, but some of them don’t- and that’s the problem. Bi/Pan/Queer youth suicide is a big issue, one we can’t tackle alone in GLBT communities- most  parents are outside of our communities, and we need to communicate with parents, their schools, educators and bi/pan friendly therapists and make sure all these supports are in place everywhere- not just in big cities, and even in big cities we still lose our youth.

More to read!

Bisexual community has unique needs, starting with more and better data– commentary by BOP’s very own Camille Holhaus!

September 24, 2015 at 12:58 am 2 comments

Blog Changes and To-Do Lists

A coupla blogs I follow have changed web addresses

Just thought I’d make note so even if you haven’t been following blogs, it’s little chance to signal boost them.

Nature is Sacred can now be found at NaturalPantheist.com– Matt is a naturalistic pantheist member of ADF who follows an Anglo-Saxon hearth culture. If you’re wondering “what’s that mean, and how does that work?” well then, go check out his blog!

Maple Tree Druidry also has moved to its own domain (or should I say her domain?) Carol Whitehead is a professional tarot & tea leaf reader in the London, Ontario, Canada area so if you’re in her neck of the woods, look her up.

As for my own blog-and Real Life… I keep trying to steer myself away from just being the obsessive information collector & hoarder and actually do spiritual practice…even the ADF dedicant path (imagine, me finishing a project!) Well tomorrow I am going up to Onamia, MN to attend ritual with others from my As Yet Unnamed Druid grove, to our friends at Dancing Waters Protogrove, ADF. So there ya go, actual ADF High Day ritual.

Aside from that, I have a bunch of book reviews I need to do for Moon Books, as well as ones I’ve simply read on my own.

Personal care spirituality in practice for Way of the Sacred Fool

I also have promised bloggy goodness to the Bisexual Organizing Project folks and this would be a good time, as this next week..hell I’ll just say month is Bisexual Awareness/Celebrate Bisexuality Day/Week/Month etc.

September 18, 2015 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

Scottish Harvest Customs

While in Ireland the harvest is celebrated at Lunasa, harvest customs come later in Scotland.

Historical Info from Chronicle of Celtic Folk Customs by Brian Day

On the 14th or the 21st- the Autumnal Equinox- Nutting Day is observed- the day “the Devil goes a-nutting” Young people gather nuts, some avoid doing so lest the Devil abduct them! Nuts are associated with fertility so some girls avoid gathering them so as not to get pregnant.  It is also the end of the blackberry picking season- it’s believed that when the archangel Michael kicked the Devil out of heaven, he landed in bramble bush. Mold found on blackberries is his spit.

The main September harvest celebration is on the 28th- Michaelmas Eve- bonfires are lit, roast lamb is eaten. In Scotland Michael is the patron of fishermen and horsemen. Struan Micheil is traditionally made and eaten- a cake made of sheep’s milk, eggs, butter and grain, decorated with a cross. A piece is thrown on the fire to placate the Devil.

the 29th- Michaelmas Day

Irish customs for Michaelmas come from the English- giving geese as gifts, even to the poor, plucking their down for pillows, apple picking, cider-making and hunting season begins and fishing ends.

In Scotland, wild carrots are dug up and given as gifts. Another tradition is to visit the graves of relatives on horseback- this is called circuiting. Horse-racing and other athletic events take place.
Articles

La Fheill Michaeil by Tairis

Celebrating La Fheill Michaeil by Tairis

Associated Deities & Myths

Lugh (equated with St Michael)

Macha- horse-racing association

Rituals

Mid-Autumn Rite by Ozark Pagan Mamma

September 18, 2015 at 1:30 am Leave a comment

Celtic Polytheists on Tumblr (my list)

On the Celtic Polytheism resource page, I had a link to Echtrai’s list of Celtic Polytheists on Tumblr. However it’s like Livejournal in that there’s a lot of blogs that come and go and ones that have very mixed content that you have to slog through. I’m reducing it down to ones that are mostly Celtic in content. And to boot, perhaps I’ll add some other types of polytheists. Bonus points if you actually tag things, have pages of info etc.

Celtic

Celticspirited

ReviewingtheCeltics– group that reviews Celtic-related books & answers questions.

Gaelic

Gaelic Polytheism 101

An tSnaidhm

Adventures in Asexuality

Altar of Delirium– Brighid, Mannanan mac Lir

Beag Coinneal

Beanchaointe

Crowsandcondescension  warrior path, Morrigan devotee

Echtrai–  Riona, devotee of Lugh

Feannog– Kym Lambert, Shadow of the Hooded Crow project for the goddesses Macha, Badb & the Morrigan

Fireinthesea

Lebornaciar- Jared

Mathairnandee- Danu, Brighid

Mirage358

Modern Southern Polytheist

Nicstoirm– Allec, devotee of Lugh, sea magic

Sachairi Mac Caba   Zach

Wandering Artificer

Brythonic

AwenyddogCamulos– selkies!

Gaulish

Bloodybones

Dewognatos

Norse/Celtic

Bethirstyqueerheart

Blind Brigidine Hearth- Robert/Raibert

Lightning & Ravens– Shrine to Thor & the Morrigan

Celtic cultural interest (not just religion)

Too Sexy For My Celt– fashion, historic & modern

As Gaeilge– Irish language learning, by Jared, same person as Lebornaciar

September 17, 2015 at 6:48 am 3 comments

Mumming Links

Dver has created a nifty new website about mumming and mask traditions in Europe and North America- Masks & Monsters

She’s of a similar mindset to me on the subject- if it works, if it’s spiritually and aesthetically effective, it doesn’t matter whether a folk tradition is a survival of pagan customs. This is also a great opportunity to branch out and share with one’s broader non-Pagan community, particularly arts & cultural groups, nature-oriented groups and so forth.

Calendar Customs– great guide to festivals and customs around the United Kingdom

In the Twin Cities area- here are some groups that do work with masks, mummery and puppetry and related forms of folk dancing. Many of them welcome public participation! (though often with membership or workshop fees) Scholarships are also sometimes available, so look carefully at each site.

Minnesota Krampus– The Austrian and Bavarian traditions of St. Nik, Krampus and friends are brought to life at Yuletide and throughout the year at German folk festivals in the Midwest. Krampus mask-making workshops are being held at the German American Institute in St Paul.

Spielmannszug MN– Karneval in Minnesota- celebrate the Feast of Fools at multiple events from Nov 11- Ash Wednesday.

Minnesota Traditional Morris

Uptown-on-Calhoun Morris

BareBones Productions– they put on a Halloween show every year which is amazing, and also participate in many parades and festivals in the area.

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theater– has shows throughout the year, as well as the May Day Parade and festival in Powderhorn Park.

September 16, 2015 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

The Online People’s Front of Judea

I’ve been attempting to learn more about various social justice issues by reading about them both with books and online communities. Over the years, since Livejournal, on thru Facebook and Tumblr, I’ve seen an ongoing downward spiral of discourse. While certainly there have long been problems, there’s an increasing amount of nasty games I’ve come to question some of the basic theories and ideologies that I’ve long believed in, such as Critical Race Theory and intersectionality- while still supporting certain aspects such as- yes oppression is bad, human rights are good, oppressions and identities are inter-related and so forth. Reading Will Shetterly’s blog has been very eye-opening. (He’s a science fiction author, a socialist & a Unitarian who’s also wondering what the heck happened to fandom…) I haven’t been following the various sagas with Hugos, Sad Puppies, Gamergate, avoiding them as much as I’ve been able to avoid the Ferguson/Black Lives Matter saga. Maybe I’ll just read an actual Icelandic saga…

Fortunately I have Monty Python to help me make “sense” of human absurdity…

The People’s Front of Judea

What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? (also a good one to post in Pagan groups when someone is complaining about teh Eevil Romans)

The Social Consequences of Everything

These are commented on by someone who *actually does think sexism, racism, homophobia etc are Real Things, but points out the problems with some of these checklists. But people still don’t understand irony and sarcasm. It’s also hard to tell, because some people are kind of walking parodies. I came across “bathing privilege” I thought at first this meant to point out that some people have access to running water and baths/showers and some don’t- fair enough, but it was just someone who *chooses to not bathe* whining about how oppressed he was by Western culture. I couldn’t tell it was for real or not. He also mentioned being on the autism spectrum, and I know sensory issues and executive functioning (i.e. Getting Stuff Done/Organized) can often be barriers for many of us when it comes to personal hygiene, but we can learn to work around those problems (sometimes with help) I’m also well aware that American and Japanese culture in particular, have higher standards of personal hygiene than much of the rest of the world (in part due to wealth) and I think a broader range of cleanliness can be reasonable, depending on your social environment.

Someone else has claimed “non-incest privilege” is a thing (you can’t help who you’re attracted to!) for what the .01% of cases in which it’s not abusive? Also the person that informed us all that homophobia and transphobia are ableist terms because clinical phobias are a Real Thing! Now there’s always going to be someone in every movement doing or saying ridiculous things, it’s just way more visible now. Yay internets!

September 16, 2015 at 2:38 am 1 comment

Encouraging Respectful Language while being well, Respectful!

I try to use respectful language for various groups of people- though even better is just calling them Bob and Susan, Mr. Jones, etc. The problem is what’s considered respectful for which group varies depending on where you are, who you are, and who you are talking to! Even being able to access the knowledge of this ever changing language can depend on your education, life experience and who you happen to have met! For example, I only learned that in the United States, the term little people is preferred rather than midget for people of very short stature, because I saw a stage production of The Hobbit as a teenager. Most people, I suspect have more recently learned this from the (sur) reality TV show Little People, Big World. And I’m sure various individuals prefer different terms- dwarf, person of short stature, my name is Bob, and yes I’m short, get over it and stop staring at me!

I was raised by two college-educated parents with left-leaning politics who had degrees in English and journalism, so you can bet that I had the Presidents’ English drilled into me, including various types of non-sexist and non-racist language. And I learned even more when I went to college in a multicultural city with a large GLBT population and programs for people with both learning and physical disabilities. As I interact with others, both in person and online and encounter folks who use terms that may be considered offensive, I try to take into account their background and life experiences- of course this works far better in person!

All this stuff I am talking about is often called “political correctness” usually with an angry accusation behind it. I’ve heard umpteen different uses of this word over the years. I recommend that we all stop using this term, because when each little faction uses it differently, it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s also mostly an American thing, and our friends in other countries may be even more confused by it! Another even more fun one is “cultural Marxism”. I had to look that one up! I sometimes see people say “instead of political correctness, let’s call it respect” I don’t think that’s a solution either.

Various individuals also seem to have different ideas of at what point “all this” has “gone too far”. Often, a member of one group will take for granted that *of course* you’d better use their pet terminology, but they get mad if you call them on another type of language. Then we get into this giant contest of whose oppression is the worst (Oppression Olympics) who has read the most books or taken the most classes on Women’s/GLBT/Black/Asian etc. studies or whatever. Anyone who doesn’t have the “right” knowledge or experiences, but is curious and interested to learn more about a particular issue and wants to oppose bigotry in their communities or support their friend/relative, is driven out of these online and sometimes in-person social justice groups and what they learn is- “Wow, those people are jerks!”.

This is a lot of why I ended up leaving Heathens United Against Racism (well the Facebook group not necessarily the org), just to give one example. There are many good people in that group, don’t get me wrong, and I support the idea of it, but in practice the people who have real or virtual Ph.D’s in Anti-Racist/Every Kind of Oppression Theory and Awesome Badass Activist Experiences! live in multicultural cities, and so forth don’t know how to talk to Heathens from other backgrounds (esp. rural and working-class) who agree that yes, racism is a Bad Thing, but Holy Social Theory, Odin slow down, I’m confused! You can oppose racism without being into things like Critical Race Theory and whiteness studies, or supporting certain policies like affirmative action, slavery reparations and totally open the gates to Mexico-style immigration policy.

(Note this was written a while ago- Heathens United Against Racism has undergone some…changes but that’s in another post)

September 10, 2015 at 5:12 am 1 comment

Disability News Round-Up

I’ve been posting lots of disability-related news on my Facebook, time to share them here!

Neurotribes Examines the History & Myths of the Autism Spectrum– Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism & the Future of Neurodiversity is a new book by Steve Silberman, a non-autistic man who did wild things that many autism organizations were seemingly not capable of doing (sarcasm) – actually interviewing and listening to people with autism and taking us seriously! He suggests that we channel money into actually helping autistic people rather than researching genes & environmental causes to prevent us from existing. Thank you, Steve! (just don’t read the comments- anti-vaxxers)

The Disability Community’s Bechdel Test– Cast disabled actors whenever possible and tell better stories (Note: comparison to the “Bechdel test” is kind of a misnomer) Still, read it anyway.

Dear Disabled Person, We’re Sorry but You’re a Real Inconvenience, Signed (Insert Conference Name Here) A post from last year, but still just as relevant. I’ve often noticed people running events think of accessibility in various forms as an extra, an add-on, like a luxury. When it determines whether someone can come to the event at all, or fully participate, clearly it’s not a luxury! It’s a basic necessity. Though I imagine there are probably ways we can always improve, I think it made a big difference in planning BECAUSE- Bisexual Empowerment Conference, A Uniting Supportive Experience last year that we had multiple people with different types of disabilities & medical conditions both on the planning committee and on the board- Deaf, learning disabled, psychiatric/mental ill folks, chronically ill folks, folks with various type of mobility needs, food allergies etc.

Right to Independent Living for Right to Suicide- Sisters of Frida, disabled women’s group in Britain

I *am* in support of euthanasia as an option in extreme circumstances- such as being towards the end of a terminal illness. However with current situations, both in Britain, the U.S., Canada and pretty much everywhere we need to focus on creating a society in which *life is worth living* for everyone. I think we also need to build more intentional, inter-generational communities- biological nuclear families are only one option. Putting supports in place for independent living is important, but *interdependent living* is I think even more key.

September 10, 2015 at 2:39 am 3 comments

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