Monday, January 6, 2014

Reflections on Sunday's Ritual

My Parshall Cross that I gave the UU's Little Free Library has a new home it seems on the banner! I'm happy it's still able to protect the church. I saw it tonight while attending January's UU pagan group's get-together. First ritual with a different organizer. While I'm still overall enjoying my visits with the group, I still have a bit of a complaint as someone without Wiccanate privilege. I don't know how to exactly bring up these sort of complaints... but at least I can voice them on this blog, eh?

First and foremost, I have some critical thinking errors on the part of the organizer. The ritual he lead was about suffering and basically overcome it... I think? More just to meditate on it. But a few things he said really irked me. 
  • "Those without suffering you are selfish." What? How? No??? I can think of two people immediately who have a lot of pain and suffering...and are incredibly selfish. Suffering doesn't have a relationship with selflessness. Don't romanticized suffering.
  • That was the other thing. He presented suffering as something that needed to be done to get somewhere which...I
  • All I can think about is my mental illness and how he's romanticizing suffering as something one can "get over" or emerge better from. Not always. Not always.
Other than the problems I had with how he addressed suffering, then there were generalizations involving how "Every culture has the Hero's Journey." And after he said that, I thought about Gaelic mythology and...couldn't think of a journey that resembled that. I messaged some other Gaelic Polytheists and they agreed. It seems like the problems that arise whenever one tries to look for archetypes in any other culture. If one looks hard enough and bends the cultural figure enough, they'll sure find someone that can fit that archetype--even if, in reality and canon, that figure doesn't.

SO a bunch of generalizing problems. Ugh. Generalizations. My arch enemy... (archetypal enemy, if you would.) I should add that this is after he invites the 4 Elements, the Earth Goddess, and Odin into our circle. (Which I'm not even sure if he invited Odin or the archetype of Odin.) 

Then we were to meditate in the dark about our suffering. To think about it because "we typically push it away." Again, generalizing... because I don't push my suffering away. I am constantly thinking about it. I am constantly aware of my suffering, my pain, and my problems. I am constantly feeling anxious and worrying and trying to figure out how to minimize my pain. I have to find ways to cope so that I don't think about my suffering. I don't suffer passively. And to assume that I was bothered me a lot.

I went to the restroom after I thought an appropriate amount of time passed so that I could vent online real quick about how bothered I was about the meditation. Afterwards, I returned to a discussion about doing work for charities involving nature preservation. And again with generalization, this assumes that all pagans are nature worshipers which isn't true. I wish my personal path wasn't so nature-oriented or else I would verbally point that out whenever that statement was made. But I'm fairly sure the Kemetics I know aren't nature-based, nor my friend who works with Death entities, etc etc etc...

After that, they talked about bringing back the pagan library. I cringed. I cringed physically and visually. I am so bothered by pagan and new age authors that having a section dedicated to them just seems to promote that misguided information. Uuugh. And my disgust couldn't be contained: I told someone how I was jaded towards pagan authors and that I couldn't stand most of them for the misinformation they promote. I stay away and read history books now. I saw one book that instantly hit the radar with "Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age." I blurted out, "But Wicca was created in the 1950s." I corrected someone else who said "Gardner revived the religion in the 1950s." No, he created Wicca. There is no historical proof to back up his claim that it came from a "forgotten, underground religion." And it also said how "witchcraft is the oldest religion." Noooope. Witchcraft isn't a religion!

...that's just one book. A library? I cry at the thought.

But! I did see a book about the Goddess that passed my quick review. It was organized by location, which is a great start. The book wrote accurate things about Brigid while not reducing her to one aspect or alluding that she is some Wiccan Triple Goddess (but referred to her as a triune goddess, which is a phrase I like and is accurate.) The Kemetic goddesses weren't listed with their Greek names but with their actual Egyptian names. I was impressed, especially considering it's an encyclopedia of sorts.

So if there were more books like that and less books like the first? Maybe this library wouldn't be so cringe-inducing. Maybe. (If I had the time, energy, and patience I would sticky note all the problematic phrases in McCoy books and then send them off into the world. Or go through books at Half-Price-Books and sticky note problems, including how the "Shamanism" shelf is entirely racist.)

The rest of the night went alright. Chalice drove me (thank you so much Chalice!) and I commented about how much I'm looking forward to the Imbolc ritual, since it'll actually resemble what I practice. It's honoring community, family, Brigid as a goddess and not archetype... I'm excited. No 4 Elements. No "God and Goddess." Just a community celebration with a ritual bent to it (which I'm fine with, because a pure Gaelic festival wouldn't be the same for someone who wasn't interested in Gaelic Polytheism or its values.)

Tonight, one of the people voiced how they shared their [NeoWiccan] Yule story and it made their Catholic relatives "uncomfortable." She said to them in the story, "Well, how do you think I feel when you're doing prayers that have no relevance to me?" I was tempted to say, "I feel that same way everytime I come to this group, actually!" But didn't, as it wasn't really the time or place to voice it. But it is how I feel...I might as well be going to Catholic Church with how excluded I feel. My prayers, my gods, my religion isn't being acknowledged. Calling myself "pagan" feels like the wrong title because of how NeoWiccan-centered pagan gatherings, events, etc tend to be. As the "Wiccanate Privilege" article mentioned, I mainly go in the off chance I find someone of somewhat similar beliefs. I did meet Chalice which, while she doesn't share in my beliefs, shares in my love to discuss theology, sociology, and more. 

All in all, it was a typical Wiccanate-ritual and night, and I continued to be apathetic towards all of the Wiccanate symbolism and meanings. I am looking forward to the Imbolc ritual, though, if only to show others how a non-Wiccanate ritual can be. I don't know if I'll be able to make March's gathering, but if it's another heavily Wiccante ritual I may begin to voice my discomfort. 

Question for the reader: 

How do you see going to local gatherings of people practicing a different religion?

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