Posts tagged ‘broom closet’

Wait, Which Christianity?

One of the things that drives me nuts that Christians, atheists, Pagans and Pastafarians alike seem to do is to make statements like “Christians believe….”, “Christians think…” “X is a Christian movie/book/musical album/chicken restaurant” “That was very Christian (nice/generous/hospitable) of you” or conversely “Sheesh, now you sound like a Christian (mean, close-minded, prudish), eww”.

Take a step away from that, and remember you are talking about billions of people around the world, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of formal sects and churches, and well as individual people’s idiosyncratic theologies, ethics, and religious and ethical practices.

There is no Generic or Typical Christian, any more than there’s a Generic Human. There’s a huge spectrum of beliefs, practices, cultures, languages included here.  The problem is that everyone seems to have a pre-conceived archetypal “Christian” that they are imagining when they talk about Christianity, whatever form they happen to be most familiar with, raised with etc.

When I lived in Iowa, people who sometimes ask me, “Are you Christian or Catholic?” which I found rather baffling. “Uh, last time I checked Catholics were Christians. But I’m Protestant, Methodist to be specific to answer your question.” I later realized that these questioners were some variety of evangelical who didn’t view Roman Catholics as genuine Christians. Chances are, they didn’t consider me a legit Christian either. Oddly enough, the people who most often come to my door to tell me about God, Jesus and the Bible are either Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, who often aren’t considered Christians because their beliefs aren’t in line with the Nicene Creed, or whatever other yardstick you’re using.

Since I’m not Christian, it’s not my job to worry about watering down the definition of Christian. To me it’s more of a cultural identifier than a matter of theology.  (Heck, I could say the same of “Pagan”!) What matters me to is determining whether they are the sort of Christian I can have a civil but honest discussion about religion, or the sort of Christian with which I have to keep myself on guard so I don’t set them off like a trigger-happy car alarm. Come to think of it, a lot of Christians actually have to deal with this as well, deciding whether it’s worth it to tell cousin Shelly that in fact, they are not Her Kind of Christian.  I also just can’t relate socially to, and frankly have a lot of trouble respecting on an intellectual level people who never question anything they are taught. Or heck, people who never read or seek out information since they graduated from high school. This is not a class thing- poor people can go to the library!  I politely tolerate them, but that’s as far as it can really go.

What I commonly do is what feels like coming halfway out of the “broom closet” by explaining that I’m Unitarian, without mentioning Paganism, and I talk about that if the person seems open-minded enough and has a long enough attention span (it’s already pushing it by explaining UUism!) Most people tend to think UUism is “Christian enough” for them to not be scared away (though they may not be aware that we let in riff-raff like atheists and pagans!) I wonder if it’s dishonest and cowardly, or if it’s just being pragmatic.

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October 22, 2014 at 1:55 am 2 comments

Witchy Blog Award

witchy-blog-awardThanks to Nornoriel of the Serpent’s Labyrinth for nominating me for this award!

The Rules:

  • Dedicate at least part of a post to receiving the award and share the award logo
  • Thank the blogger who passed the award to you
  • Answer the seven questions below
  • Nominate five Wiccan/Pagan bloggers (If you don’t know five other pagan bloggers, nominate as many as you can)
  • Notify your nominees of their pending award
  • Stop by Ayslyn’s Corner to add your name to the list of bloggers awarded (she’s got a big list)
  • How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Neo-Paganism? I was very into mythology as a kid, met a neighbor’s daughter who introduced me to Wicca/Paganism and lent me some books. Growing up I realize was already thinking like a Pagan- when people talked about “Mother Nature” I thought she was God’s wife, and since my parents taught me to be tolerant of other religions, I was confused that worship of other Gods was condemned in the Bible. Shouldn’t it be a choice? I thought. I also liked finding out the origins of holiday customs and superstitions, and that was another way I connected with Paganism.
  • Do you grow herbs? I have a very shady lot with acidic soil, so it’s hard to grow things other than hostas & ferns. Plus, the squirrels dig up everything else we plant!
  • Are you “in the broom closet”? If not, share your coming out experience. As a teenager my Dad thought Paganism was just part of my mythology interest and not a real religion but later he “got” it. My mother believes in fairies, so it wasn’t too hard for her!  I am open about my religion to people I know well enough to discuss religion with and don’t set off my finely tuned fundamentalist detector. I often tell people I’m Unitarian (they usually don’t know what that is either!)  If they seem more interested in talking about it, then I’ll further explain Druidry.  I live in a pretty liberal urban area (Twin Cities) so I have the luxury of being pretty relaxed about using my real name at public Pagan events.
  • What tradition do you follow, if any? Currently I am working on re-defining and re-building my spiritual life while recovering from a period of depression-related agnosticism & doubt. I am a member of Ar nDraiocht Fein, a Neo-Pagan Druid organization and a Unitarian Universalist– which for me is more of a philosophy than a religion, but my UU church is my primary spiritual community currently.
  • Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?) I use Celtic polytheist or Druid
  • How much of witchcraft/Wicca are you able to incorporate into your everyday life? Right now as I mentioned my focus is on recovering from depression and anxiety, so I’m creating a list of mental health self-care virtues based on Celtic and Norse cultures and building off of that base. I am mostly an armchair philosopher/theologian/ethicist and writer, but am trying to motivate myself to get back into actual practice.
  • Do you have a familiar? If you do, tell us how you meet him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all) No, but one of my favorite anime shows is Zero no Tsukaima, the Familiar of Zero 😉 It’s fun- kinda like an anime version of Harry Potter.

Nominations for Witchy Blog Award:

Jack-a-Dreams

Writings of a Pagan Witch

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Scorched Ice

Mist Seeking

 

 

 

August 14, 2014 at 12:41 am 1 comment

Favorite “C” PBP Posts

Cailleachan by Leithin Cluan- writes on a group of weather/winter land spirits/goddesses in Irish and Scottish folklore, Cold & the Cailleach by Aiwelin

Calendars- Kylara:  “I am fascinated by Calendars, which I find slightly ironic because I am horrible with time!” Jack-a-Dreams (Narnian saints’ days? Inquiring minds want to know.) Crossroads Forests writes a revision of her personal calendar.

Candlemas: Migdalit Or notes that she, like many other Pagans she’s known had trouble connecting with Imbolc/Candlemas but it “grew” on her. Domestic Witch has basic info as well as a recipe for bread and a simple candle ritual. Nice song shared by Amy Phillipson.

Celtic Languages- Secular Witchcraft

Changing the Directions– Book of the Eucalypt writes on adapting Wiccan directional associations to one’s geography.  I don’t typically call directions in ritual but I have been thinking about the relevance of Irish directional associations (as in Settling at the Manor of Tara)

Charity- Excellent post by the Helpful Hacker explaining how to examine charities & non-profits to make sure they are using your donations effectively and are in line with you values.

Charge of the God- lovely poem by Ooh Chiara about Herne the Hunter

Christianity- nice to see a moderate and cool-headed approach to an overheated subject

Choices– Conor/Under the Owl’s Wing

Coming Out of the Broom Closet- Perspective from a German Hexen (witch) in English.

Community- Shanda-ism discusses community-building as a Nebraskan Witch, Hakea on her many attempts at finding Pagan community (I truly empathize!) and Allec.

Compassion- Pixilated Path/Isleen Here’s a message we all can use!

Confidence- Echtrai writes that part of being a Gaelic Polytheist means having an attitude of confidence.

Cosmology/Cosmogony- Valenwitch’s poetic meditation on the Norse creation myth

Courage- by Wytchfawn ” The virtue of fortitude is sorely lacking in modern people, and this is true of the Pagan community as well. There are so many hangups in explaining UPG or new research sources, a fear of being ‘wrong’ can cripple a person’s spiritual journey; stagnating growth.”

Cu Chulainn- Scathcraft (in French- Google translation link on site) Lugaid makes plans to honor him on March 17- instead of St. Patrick

Cultural Appropriation- Anonywitch “How do we, as eclectic pagans, borrow from and interact respectfully with cultures not our own? More specifically, how do I, as a white western woman, worship Kali without offending Hindus?”

February 10, 2014 at 9:18 am 2 comments

Favorite “B” PBP Posts

While I was writing about Being a Bastard, Jack-a-Dreams wrote about Being Respectable, in response to some declarations that were made on another blog. I commented on his post, and a related one at Adventures in Vanaheim.  I know I’m going to end up writing more on it myself. But back to the “favorite b posts”- as with the A’s I’m combining both weeks:

Belief– at the Crossroads Forest, Kaye comes up with a list describing her beliefs- one excerpt I like “To be frank, I often refer to myself as a “sleep number polytheist,” with the levels of hardness and softness being adjusted as the need arises. My personal belief is that all gods exist, though I only work with a few of them from a few pantheons, and that these deities are all made of the same “stuff” or divine energy.” Baphemetis’ post was simple but profound. one quote- “I believe in folklore and fairytales, because I believe there is always a grain of truth to something.” As a skeptic, I also related well to Grumpy Druid’s post “For me, my beliefs are a working model, a theory to serve as a starting point for working out all the other stuff in my life, like love and taxes and the platypus.” (not sure where the platypus fits in…) Prairies & Pyramid writes on how a harrowing experience in her life impacted her spiritual development. In “Bars & Bond’s- Believing When There’s No Light“,  Stumbling Through Faith writes of leaving Christianity, but finding healing from her hurtful past in a church.

Bees and Bulls– insights on symbolism from Sulischild

Beowulf– Valkyrie in the Juniper Tree, writes of this importance of this saga to her as an Anglo-Saxon Heathen. “Modern heathenry owes a lot to Beowulf, even heathenry that has precious little to do with the Anglo-Saxons. In Beowulf we see a perfect outline of a drinking ritual, we see a right proper boast and challenge, and we see the social structure of such a rite. ”

BilingualCrafty Rose compares learning/exploring a new religion to learning a new language.

Binary- Rethinking the Ci Cyfarth on how Pagans need to re-evaluate our attitudes surrounding sex and gender

Birch is the one symbol that is shared by both the Irish Ogham and Norse runic systems. At Musings of Huginn & Muginn, Ravensong explains the basics of Berkano the Birch rune (earlier posts are on Ansuz and Algiz.)  Scathcraft wrote an excellent description of the birch with some analysis of what it symbolizes in Ogham. (in French, but there’s a link to Google translate) Looks like another good Celtic polytheist blog. As both a Gaelic & Saxon Heathen, Aiwelin discusses both systems.  Aromawitch also writes on this topic.

Brighid– is definitely the deity I feel closest to so I am always interested in learning of other people’s experiences with Her. Isleen gives a brief summary of info about Her, and another post with correspondences. Most of them I recognize, but there are a few (like associations with stones, the Empress tarot card) that I think are modern UPG.  Rocquelaire and NanLT both wrote about how the Irish goddess of healing & creativity helped them through difficult times.  Anonywitch writes about how she feels drawn to work as a midwife by Brighid.   At Shanda-ism the writer expresses a little confusion at an encounter with Brighid, as she follows a path that is nature-honoring but not deity-focused. At Walking in Beauty, Donald Engstrom writes of his experiences with Bridget’s Flames, and shares the artwork he has created to honor Her. More posts on Brighid: Philosophical Pagan,  Echtrai, Leithin Cluan

Book of Shadows– Abgeneth shares some cool crafty ideas on how to make hand-bound antique-y looking blank books.

Boudicca– the New Pagan writes of the British warrior queen- great synopsis of history with nice pictures!

Boundaries, Respect Them by Ravan Asteris  pulls no punches about about some basic rules of Playing Well with Others that are all too often ignored.

The Broom Closet– Kathleen writes on why its important to be out as a Pagan if you can, referencing arguments Dan Savage has made to the GLBT community. Related to this- That Baffled Look- Your Paganism is Showing– Kel writes on confusing people with the religious symbols she wears and her attempts at explaining her faith.

Business & Bragging by Kylara On the hang-ups Pagans have over charging money for spiritual services.  I’ve gotten so sick of this debate, while I agree we need to be careful of avoiding self-aggrandizing I think we have fallen too far on the Virtuous Pagan Poverty side of things.  It is nice to hear some common sense cutting thru the B.S.

Way more where that came from but I think that’s enough of a list.

January 26, 2014 at 12:49 am 1 comment


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