Posts tagged ‘privilege’

A Druid’s Thoughts on Privilege

This is the post I spent so much time fussing over, but didn’t end up using for Pagan Blog Project. I decided to post it after all before I spend any more time on it that I could on other things! Another very insightful post about a broader perspective on privilege can be found at the World of Dust & Bones Blog: Paganism & Privilege Part 1: How We Talk about it (which in turn was a response to this post by John Halstead)

Note: I’m going to discuss religion and privilege in the United States specifically because I can better understand & explain it, I would be greatly interested in hearing viewpoints and experiences specific to other countries.
Some “privileges” are really rights that everyone should have, while others are simply unfair advantages that no one should have. Everyone should have the right to practice their religion freely, (or not practice any religion) in a way that does not interfere with others’ rights. Christians in the United States and many other countries have this right, but it is more protected and unquestioned than it is for those of minority faiths. Christians in the U.S. also  sometimes misuse their privileged status to get favorable treatment for their religion that other religions do not get. These are facts that most Pagans would agree, and most Christians that have any self-awareness at all. (I.e. not the ones who think this was founded as a “Christian nation”.)

On to Wiccan(ate) Privilege
Wicca, and pagan religions,  that closely resemble it, are like it or lump it still the largest group of self-identified Pagans. Anytime a group has been around longer and is bigger, it is typically going to get social privilege along with that.
The status of Wicca and Wicca-like forms of paganism within broader interfaith pagan settings (8 sabbats, use of magic, Goddess or God/Goddess theology etc) is similar to the status of Protestant Christianity within monotheist religions. Talk about God and religion in the public square-  “civil religion” historically reflected this, and excluded Catholics, Jews and Muslims. The Catholics and Jews are *kind of* more included, and the Muslims are slowly starting to be,  though they face an uphill battle of xenophobia and anti-terrorist paranoia.  Then there’s all kinds of wrestling over who’s “really” a Christian, as we saw in the 2012 election with a Mormon and a *suspected* Muslim running for President.

After Wiccans, Druids and Heathens/Asatru are the most commonly known pagan religions. If you’re a pagan of some sort, you probably know of all three, and likely specific traditions and organizations that fall within them. If you’re a monotheist or atheist in the broader U.S. culture, it’s likely you know of Wicca, think of Paganism in general as “Wicca-like” or the same, and may have vaguely, in passing heard of Druids and Heathens.
Druids are usually considered “close enough” to Wicca to benefit from some types of Wiccan privilege. As in, we typically celebrate the same 8 holidays, consider ourselves nature/earth-based.  British-style revival Druidry such as OBOD is even closer to Wicca. (Ross Nichols, its founder was good friends with Gerald Gardner after all) And as with Wiccans and their close cousins, many Druids have interest in movements like feminism, environmentalism, peace, some kinds of New Age spirituality and magic.

Ruadan:And ADF really seems to have more in common with Wiccanate paganism than it has with Celtic Reconstruction than some people want to really believe, even though it does seem to generally be a recon-friendly group.” Spot on. As someone who is part of both, I think that is very true. We celebrate the 8 “standard” holidays and have a ritual structure that be adapted for various pantheons.

Heathens worship some of the same Gods as Wiccans, and celebrate some of the same holidays (like Yule) But in general the Heathen community has less in common with secular aspects of Wiccan subculture.  (link to the Hammer & the Pentagram article) The Heathen community has developed a very distinct identity from Wicca-centric Greater Pagandom, and the positive interactions they have had are much due to the efforts of people like Diana Paxson, who was Wiccan before becoming Heathen, intermarriage and friendship between the two and so forth. To the Heathen’s advantage, the United States has major English & German cultural influences- secular holiday customs, and various other customs and social mores that we are familiar with not to mention the English language itself.

Further afield, we have Roman, Greek, Egyptian reconstructionists/revivalists/polytheists. Other pagans may be familiar with Roman, Greek and some Egyptian God names and mythology, but the ritual practices, calendars, and cultural worldviews are likely to be very foreign to them. And the knowledge many pagans do have of these cultures is often superficial and distorted by outdated Victorian or feminist scholarship, and Western occultism. (Actually the knowledge people have of Celtic cultures is usually pretty superficial too, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking they know all about it.)

More posts on the subject:

Baring the Aegis: On Interfaith & Privilege– this is one of the most moderate polytheist responses that I feel closest too.

Unity & Diversity by Helio Pires, Golden Trail blog

A Gaelic Polytheist’s experience’s with WP in a CUUPs ritual

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February 24, 2014 at 3:20 am 2 comments

Next Steps in Polytheist/Wiccan Diplomacy

When people get too serious and grouchy- online or off, I often find one of the best ways to respond is with humor. In the spirit of Druidic satire with a modern twist, Alison Leigh Lilly has lightened the mood with a Polytheist Rap Battle.

On the more serious side, there was a much-needed discussion about Wiccan(ate) privilege at Pantheacon, Finnchuill & Lupus both describe their experiences.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem to go as well as it could have, but it’s a start that the different factions agreed to meet and talk about it in person.  There was a lack of understanding about what Wiccan(ate) privilege really is among many of the people there and so it was not truly recognized as being a problem. Anyway read their accounts, I wasn’t there.

Recons & polytheists typically know more about Wicca and similar religions than those adherents know about ours. Even those of us who didn’t go through a eclectic Neo-Pagan or Wiccan phase before settling on our current tradition still  get a lot of exposure to it from other Pagans and the media. Whereas, unless you make an effort to learn about our religions, it is easier for other Pagans to be blissfully unaware of them. Lupus mentions making many attempts to invite others to rituals, read books, blogs etc. about Lupus’ religion, Ekklesia Antinou and Celtic Reconstructionism without getting much response.

Earlier on Ruadhan made some suggestions for etiquette and hospitality at Pan-Pagan events to be more inclusive of polytheist and reconstructionists- I think they are quite reasonable. I observe all of the etiquette that I am aware of or that is explained to me at Wiccan rituals, it is perfectly fair to expect the same in return.

I think at this point we are going to need allies within Wicca and similar faiths- there are some recons/polytheists who also identify/belong to such traditions, they would be natural bridge-builders. Also, those of us in ADF- an organization with a unique place between Neo-Paganism and reconstructionism, can do a great to help as well. Diplomacy is a traditional role of Druids after all.

February 23, 2014 at 9:20 am Leave a comment


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