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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

If you haven’t read Sara Ann Lawless’ latest, revealing post, you really must.  It’s called “So Long, and Thanks for All the Abuse: A History of Sexual Trauma in the Pagan Community.”   It’s long, raw, and has the potential to trigger.  If you are up to reading it, I highly recommend it out of necessity.

 

The experiences she described should never have happened.  I look back on my own history of finding and growing in Paganism with amazement.  I somehow got to where I am without facing the extremes she and others endured.  My worst experiences have been uncomfortable conversations, lingering stares, and, recently, realizing that the founder of my tradition behaved in a way that was not honorable toward women. (I also had experiences outside the Pagan sphere, of course…)  Somehow, I have been pretty lucky in life.  I say that not to brag, but with a sense of astonishment given what so many friends and family have experienced.  I thank my watchful parents for some of that, but also my husband.  I started to date him when I began visiting covens, circles, and groves.  He tirelessly accompanied me, always supportive and protective.  As grateful as I am for that, I recognize how sad it is that I felt I needed to rely on him.  Truly, I would not have gone to Muin Mound Grove had he not agreed to join me.  Going to a home with a bunch of strangers for a ritual?  I would have never done that without my 6’6″ partner by my side just in case.

It sucks that it has to be that way.  What if I had been single?  What if I hadn’t had any friends interested in exploring with me?  Thankfully, the first Pagan circle I joined was run by a woman more concerned with fellowship and communal learning than power.  Thankfully, Muin Mound was, and is, a family-friendly, safe group.  Decisions are made by the members, not one person.  I flourished in both places.  What if they had been  toxic environments?  Who would I be today?  Thinking of some other groups and individuals I met who gave me red flags, I shudder …

The news is filled with stories like Sarah’s, but on a more global scale.  Women (cis, trans, etc), are voicing our pain, our worries, our stories.  Watching my daughter grow, I worry for her.  I can only keep her safe for so long. A large reason I work to create a safe, family-friendly grove is for her and the other children of my Pagan friends.

It is hard, very mundane work.  Some of the most important protective magic you do will be that way.  When I started down the Druidic path, I didn’t envision myself writing and reviewing bylaws.  I didn’t consider the importance of introducing myself with a pronoun.  I thought we’d get together and meditate, but we also come together to chat about the importance of safety, inclusion, etc.  It can be grueling and challenging, but it’s necessary.  Each time, the protective sphere around the grove strengthens.  Sometimes cracks form, and everyone needs to buckle down and repair, or else everything will shatter.

 

I’ve found myself drawn to Macha lately.  A little over a year ago, she came to me during a trance.  She reappears from time to time, but her voice is getting louder.  With everything going on in the political realm of America, the Me Too movement… it’s no wonder.  This sovereignty goddess cursed the men of Ulster, cursed the patriarchy that wronged her.  She’s a warrior who perseveres, and I’m curious about others who hear her call.

I’m particularly drawn to her  because, as my grandfather’s genealogy research found, I have an ancestor from Armagh Co, which was named after Macha (Ard Mhacha).

Today, as the Senate prepares to vote, I felt compelled to make offerings to Macha.  I prayed to her and asked for omens.  My daughter joined me and made an offering to Brighid, which was also very appropriate.  My little one doesn’t know what’s happening, so she was perplexed by my words.  I pray that Brighid wraps her protective mantle around the young ones.  I pray that Macha lends me her strength and, in time, lends that to my child when it’s needed.

For more inspiration on how to protect your groves, covens, and circles, I suggest reading Rev. Melissa Hill’s “Ways to Protect Your Community from Sexual Predation.”  If you don’t already have bylaws in your group, begin to work on them collectively.  Actively promote inclusion and begin to explore the concept of, and work to promote, a culture of consent.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on that myself.  How many times have I said or done something that I probably shouldn’t have?  There wasn’t any intent other than to have a chuckle with my friends, but people may see it differently.  There are times I know I made someone uncomfortable with a joke.  Even as a woman, I have to think of my own behaviors towards others.  I want to be a better example for my child, for my grove, and community.  May that work spiral outward.

Macha, I hear you.

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With the GOP primary and the upcoming presidential race, there’s been some discussion about family values on the radio.  Many of the conservative candidates claim that they represent “family values” in the USA.  I always cringe when I hear that.  I studied a little (a little) linguistics in college, and I remember one particular lecture about frame semantics.  We didn’t delve into it fully, but from what I absorbed, the basis is that we associate words with a variety of other words and concepts.  In politics and arguments, framing can be used to associate oneself with particular beliefs – or to associate others with something else.  For example, by saying you’re pro-life implies that people who believe abortion should be legal are actually pro-death.  People who are pro-choice will say that’s not the case at all, but the fact that their opponents are “pro-life” can be enough to make those on the fence wary.

I think the same applies when a candidate claims to represent family values.  In doing so, the candidate is sending the message that those not in his or her party lack family values.  I am well aware that there are Republican Pagans, but for the great majority of Republicans, family values equate with Christianity. I understand that conservative Christians feel their beliefs are correct, but it makes me cringe and roll my eyes all the same.

Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race, I heard a sound clip of his last speech on the radio.  He talked about representing family values and it got me thinking about Druidic family values.  It is unfortunate that frame semantics makes us sound like we have no morality to those unfamiliar with Paganism.  We do have morals and values.  Our varied paths means that there are some differences, so I won’t attempt to write anything definitive or even pan-Pagan.  Let’s focus on Druidic family values.

Let’s start with family itself.  The Celts were a tribal people and family was essential to survival. We can get a sense for how the ancient Irish viewed family through law documents.  Family was often extended among the upperclass through fostering which was believed to promote bonds.  Divorce had to be mutual and each party entitled to what they needed to live comfortably.  Many holidays included coming together as a community to celebrate.  This was on a grand scale during Lughnasadh when several tribes would gather.  Indeed, the worse punishment a Druid could inflict on an ancient Celt was a sort of societal excommunication.  Clearly, closeness to family was important.  It still is!  Modern Druids are often very family oriented.  I cannot speak about the Henge of Keltria due to my limited experience with them.  I’ve seen a bit about OBOD rituals with children in attendance.  ADF, being public and open, is very welcoming to families with children.  Compared to many closed Pagan circles, Druids love doing things with family – learning together, playing together, being outside together, and ritualizing together.  I definitely appreciate some solitary time to meditate, trance, and commune with my personal deities, but special rituals with family are also very important to me.

Besides a love and value of family and togetherness, what are a Druid’s values?  Although these may vary a bit by tradition, many modern Druids agree on a set of virtues.  Ár nDraíocht Féin encourages thought and discussion of nine: wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation, and fertility.  I discussed the nine virtues back in 2009 when I completed my Dedicant Program.  I also included another possible virtue – sensuality.  I won’t go into them here except to say that I consider the virtues often as I go through life.  Another “value” that unites us is honor.  Many Druids take oaths and our sense of integrity very seriously.  We want to bring honor to ourselves, our tribe, and our Kindreds.  With that in mind, we do our best to go through life honorably.  I don’t mean to preach to the choir here, but it becomes annoying when others assume that, just because we don’t  follow the Ten Commandments, we are somehow amoral.  I venture to say many of us are social liberals, so some of our values may appear to be lacking.  Our general acceptance of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community is one example that probably makes conservatives cringe.  However, in my opinion, it goes back to a love of family and togetherness.  Druids would rather stay together than alienate and ostracize someone simply because they love another.  If we push anyone away, it would be because they dishonored us through unnecessary violence or threats.

So what are your thoughts on Druidic Values or Virtues?  If you are from a different Druidic tradition, are virtues discussed?  Are there differences?

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