Every once in a while I try to keep up on news from a Pagan perspective. I can’t say that I’m incredibly well-informed when it comes to these topics, but I do with what I come across. Lately I’ve been frequenting The Wild Hunt and Pantheon over on Patheos, as well as dropping in once in a while to hear from Pagan Centered Podcast. Usually this keeps me pretty up to date on the biggest issues (at least), which helps me feel a bit like I’m involved in a Pagan community, even if I’m just reading once in a while.
Among all the good that I have experienced, I’ve also witnessed a fair amount of drama. There’s plenty of drama in any given group of people, which is something that I’m sure most of us have grown to accept in our experiences. Apparently there’s been a giant helping of drama recently, surrounding a ritual at PantheaCon that was lead by Z. Budapest, who is famous for her anti-man, pro-natural-born-women-only opinion and her writings on feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca, as well as the Susan B. Anthony Coven, which became the first feminist, women-only, witches’ coven. [Wikipedia]
From what I understand, transgender inclusion has been an issue in the past, which is part of the reason why so many are so upset this time around.
What I feel is “in error” is not the holding of a Dianic ritual for cis-women only. It is not that this ritual occurred at Pantheacon. It was that — after the events, pain, and discussions of the last year, with so many of us doing our level best to learn from one another — we had this ritual led by a public figure who has made hateful comments which she had not retracted, or even apologized for. That this was her only offering to the Pantheacon gathering this year made it feel like even more of a slap in the face to me.
I live all the way down in Australia, so I can’t say that I was there, but from the things I have read, from the heartfelt and hurting messages from both sides of the coin, I can definitely say that this one is a difficult subject. But from the things I have read, I’ve come to the conclusion that both sides are right and wrong simultaneously, and there is just no simple way to wave a wand and make it disappear.
I feel like a lot of this could have been avoided though, based on what I’ve read. I mean, if you’ve got someone that is famous for excluding males and transsexual women from their beliefs and practices leading a ritual, people need to understand that the ritual will likely only be open to naturally born women.
However, if you’re going to have an event that prides itself on unity in diversity, you might want to reconsider the idea of inviting someone who seems to embrace the complete opposite to be a headline in your convention.
In trying to keep this as simple as I can (for the sake of myself mostly), I think that while religious freedom does play a part in this, the problem revolves instead around the mindsets of those in the community.
It’s easy to forget that people are diverse, especially when you are in a group and feeling comfortable.
It’s like having a close friend. You do lots of stuff together, you stick up for each other, like a lot of the same TV shows, and generally feel close to this person. ….And then they give you a Nickelback CD for your birthday.
You could be a bit shocked, maybe offended that your friend has given you such an awful CD, maybe start telling them how there are way better bands out there and offer them your CD case for a week…
But if your friend has been wearing a Nickelback t-shirt for the last few years, you already know that this person likes Nickelback, so expecting them to give you a good CD to listen to is likely out of the question.
So just as many of us believe that there is no one true path, be it musical or spiritual, we must also accept that some of these paths are very different to ours.
Z. Budapest’s path takes her down a very exclusive journey, focusing on the divine feminine and excluding all else. If that is not the path you wish to choose for yourself, then choose another. Just as you might feel that Christians have it all wrong, you have the option to walk a different direction and follow the one path that is right for you. (And don’t listen to Nickelback!)
While we might not agree with the mindset behind Zsuzsanna’s path, some seem to forget that they have the choice not to walk it. If you feel like it’s excluding a certain group, then take your support elsewhere, to someone you feel deserves it more.
Let me be very clear: I believe all humans should be treated equally, no matter what sex/gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc. I also believe that people should be allowed to practice their beliefs. And I also feel like the ritual in question had a delicious gooey center that would have been helpful to many of the women who attended (or didn’t).
But people… Don’t expect a tiger to change his stripes just because he’s in a sea of leopards. There will always be someone who disagrees with you, whether you like it or not, and if that someone has always been outwardly in disagreement with what you believe, then don’t expect them to suddenly change their mind just because people are jumping down their throats about it. We don’t have to agree with it, but we must accept that some people listen to Nickelback.