Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2015

The What They Did, Not the What They Are Conversation

Oh, my people, my people. Joe Belmont. Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant, 2009 . Clearly, discussions of cultural appropriation are the third rail of Pagan race discussions right now. If you are one of the fifteen people in North America who has yet to read Tom Swiss’s frankly wrongheaded take on cultural appropriation , which has absolutely blown up into a flying shitstorm over at The Zen Pagan, I’ll give you the short version: he doesn’t believe we need the term at all, that the term is mere political correctness. Of course, this idea is wildly popular with all of us white Pagans who want to stop taking on the annoying, stressful work of contemplating which of our own favorite practices might be cultural appropriation, and to changing them.  Tom has a lot of fans right now. His idea is less popular with those who have been paying attention to how cultural appropriation causes actual harm to actual marginalized people, and can play right into reinforcing racist s

Why Racism is Paganism's Business

Over the past year, I’ve heard a lot of variations on the theme of white Pagans saying they are tired of talking about racism, or don’t see how talking about racism is our business. Leaving aside the notion that dismantling racism should be the business of people of color, because it affects them most (as opposed to the business of white people, who benefit most, and who hold the most power within our current, systemically racist social structure), I am bothered by the idea that racism is a social ill that’s somehow outside of the legitimate concerns of Pagans–of white Pagans, anyway. We don’t get to be a religion of immanent spirit without caring very much about what happens in the world. Paganism is, in almost all of its branches, an embodied spirituality; we don’t hold that the world is maya , illusion, and that what happens here doesn’t matter.  We see omens in the wind, altars in one another’s bodies.  To my way of thinking, nothing that is in the world is outside

Theism, or Down to the Sea (Of Limitless Light)

Sometimes, when I talk about my experiences in Quaker meeting, I throw around the word “God.” I do this not because I’m a monotheist or a Christian, but because I’m pretty sure the experiences of those who use that word in my Quaker meeting are consistent with my experiences in that context, and it was coming to feel precious–like a constant need to remind people of my specialness, my difference–never to use that commonly understood word when I discuss those shared experiences. But then again… it doesn’t quite fit. Sometimes I use the vague, generic word “Spirit.”  I use it as a collective noun, meaning something like, “Ground of All Being,” or, as I once put it in worship, “Big Fuzzy Warm Thing that Loves Us and Wants Us to Be Glad.” But then again… it doesn’t quite fit. I’ve sometimes thought about trying out other terms: “Elohim,” for instance, that curious plural noun for the supposedly singular God of Israel, or “Great Spirit,” which does convey at least a litt