Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Goodbye to the UU Group (For Now)

Slippery Slope

I think I've mentioned this before, but I don't like being an instigator for problems. But I am hopeful for resolution and hopeful that if I bring up a problem, others will acknowledge it for its problematic aspects. This...hasn't been the case so far in most of the pagan groups I've visited: (see here, here, and here.) I was hopeful with the UU group, though, but I've already had a couple of cringing moments. The remark made by the group organizer towards including Shamanism made my skin crawl. I decided to try to nip it in the bud before it even became a thing.

It didn't go so well. (Warning: Uncensored slur below. I'll give a warning again when the image comes up.)

I sent the organizer a message on Facebook:
 Remembering my boyfriend's diplomatic advice, I decided to send another message that had a positive message. The next day, the organizer (green) replied:

Looking back, I got a sickening feeling that he didn't understand that Lughnasa is a Gaelic Festival, not just a NeoWiccan holiday. I was too excited at the time to notice the connotations, though.

So I was feeling really good. He seemed to understand about the "Shamanism" and I get to do my god's festival properly.

Then, on the Facebook Group, I see this posted:

In case you didn't see it:

Um...?!??? So I talk to my boyfriend, who immediately A) didn't realize that guy was leading the group this year (he met him at the Imbolc ritual), and B) suggested I just leave. I didn't just want to leave...I still had that sliver hope that maybe he would understand. I decided to message him privately again, wondering if he originally missed the first message I sent and only saw the second one.

Oh, also: Animistic ritual? What? That isn't a religion... That's a type of belief. (As my boyfriend says, I'm a theological nerd, and notice these things!)

Anyway, I messaged the organizer:
After I sent this, I messaged CAORANN on Facebook for help and advice. I was surprised to get a response back so soon, as well as numerous resources. The CAORANN member wished me luck, and I went back to the organizer's Facebook message to add these sources:

Looking back, I should have just started with "What you really mean to say: Shaman Edition." I tend to assume people like resources as I like resources, but that wall of text could look offensive. 

I got a response the following morning (warning again: he uses an uncensored slur):

 There...was a lot he wrote that made me rub my temples in frustration. Instead, I decided to go with my boyfriend's advice to just leave. But I had to give a final word so that I had some closure:
 ...and that was that with him.

But I wanted to say goodbye to the group as well as possibly educate others on the problematic word "Shaman." I didn't post under his announcements, but made my own post:
(All these links will be included at the bottom of this blog post.)

Unfortunately, someone...didn't understand.

 So I reposted the GN FAQ on the word "Shaman", since it was the most concise:

And while I tried to move it to private messages,  he continued:

I know I'm blocking out his name, but it's worth mentioning that his last name is...apparently, legally fluffy. It's the equivalent of "MoonSpirit." Just. Why?

So I am already convinced he won't listen:

But he keeps going...

As soon as I posted that, I then came across a very poignant quote:

 You may notice that my profile picture is now different, and that is because I had forgotten to screencap that part of the conversation until just now. While on the Facebook page, I also looked to see if the organizer changed the schedule for this year...Nope. Apparently I'm still scheduled to do August? I guess if attitudes about cultural appropriation and other sorts of racism change, I would.

And that is true. I don't consider this group "blacklist", since they haven't blacklisted me or banned me from the group. I'd like to try...but I won't if I know the organizer is against putting forth any type of critical thinking, or listening when I present problems with rituals. As I've posted before, there is such a thing as being "too open" and accepting. There is a difference between being open to people and cultures, but not to harmful and/or hateful ideas. I don't tolerate the latter.

For reference, here are all the resources linked in the screenshots:


  1. I'm so sorry you had such a negative experience with that group :(. Talking about cultural appropriation can be tricky in the Midwest, especially somewhere like Omaha where the white middle-class is so insulated from anyone else's experiences.

    I read a few of your previous posts, including the D is for Druidry where you mentioned you'd tried ADF and found it wasn't for you. I wanted to put it out there though, in case you are interested in public ritual that's more on the CR side than the Wiccan. There's a new ADF group that started up last
    Samhain - Prairie Shadow Protogrove. We bounce between Omaha and Lincoln. Our next ritual will be Hellenic in Lincoln, but I'd love to have some input for a Gaelic Bealtaine ritual that will be in Omaha. We also have some study groups between then and now if you'd like to come and meet some friendly faces. Here's our facebook group, check out the events page or post with a hello and I'll fill you in (if you're interested):

    I honor Anglo-Saxon and Gaelic deities in a syncretic way, and while I don't call myself a recon, I tend to lean more in that direction. My blog is I've really enjoyed reading your blog, and honestly it's nice to meet someone in the Nebraska area that's practicing something even vaguely close to what I do :P

    1. That attitude towards cultural appropriation isn't limited to Omaha, unfortunately.

      As for the ADF proto-grove, I'm actually aware about it! But unfortunately it is started by someone who I have disagreements with, mainly that the occult store Next Millennium shouldn't be held accountable for their items that promote cultural appropriation because "they try to make a positive community." She also continued to support a group who kicked me out for talking about cultural appropriation with them in the first place. This link contains all my posts about Next Millennium, including the reaction of that group:
      I don't hate her or wish her ill-will, but I just don't think I can go to her about any racism problems without her brushing it off. And that bothers me, as it bothered me in this UU group. I lost a lot of trust with her.

      Also, ADF is definitely more CR than a NeoWiccan ritual, but it still isn't CR and that was another reason I decided ADF wasn't for me. For example, you just stated how the next ritual is Hellenic...that obviously isn't Celtic :/

      But! I nonetheless welcome any friendly local faces, regardless of religion. If you ever want to meet up for coffee or lunch, let me know.

    2. Ah, I understand! I'm sorry you had that experience in Pagans of Nebraska - I understand and appreciate where you're coming from regarding Next Millennium, and honestly the cultural appropriation makes me very uncomfortable as well. Charlie is a huge support to the Omaha Pagan community, and while that doesn't excuse the behavior, it has a lot to do with why people got so defensive about him and his store.

      I'm sorry we won't be seeing you at Prairie Shadow! Just to be clear, I am also a big part of the Protogrove and any concerns brought to me would absolutely be addressed by the group; but I understand if you continue to feel uncomfortable attending. It would be fun to get together sometime! My email is thepagangrove at gmail, send me a note and maybe we could find a good time soon :)

    3. Coincidentally, it is because of Charlie's support of the Omaha Pagan Community that makes me want him and his store to be a proper role model for other pagans. But he is a very nice guy, despite not understanding cultural appropriation, and I understand people not wanting to boycott the store. (Not to mention there isn't many places to get certain supplies in Omaha, and ordering online isn't an option for everyone.)

      I appreciate that you would bring concerns to the Protogrove :) While I don't wish to join, I am glad that exists for the ADF members and link-minded individuals!

      I'll shoot you an email :)

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