Sexism In Modern Paganism
Article ID: 10792
Age Group: Adult
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Author: D.G. Cleveland
Posted: June 18th. 2006
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It was about halfway through my freshman year of college when I fully became aware of a very useful piece of information. One that, if unchecked, would have caused much confusion and discomfort. You see, I learned that within the Pagan community I am at a disadvantage and will never be taken seriously (not to mention will never have an ounce of respect) because of one little (well not that little) fact. My penis. This one distinguishing feature of my body has caused me more grief in this community then it really should. I mean… I keep it tucked away, it doesn’t bother anyone, and yet it loses me more arguments and causes me more grief then I can account for.
“Why,” you ask? Because in the modern Pagan community men are a minority, and an oppressed minority at that. We are time and again reminded that we are men and therefore will never be as good as the rest of the Pagan world. That our penises have doomed us to a life as second-class heathens. And that the Goddess favors women in all endeavors and NOT men. I therefore learned that “I am always wrong because I have a penis.”
This realization came to me while enrolled in a philosophy course entitled Modern Pagan Thought. I was one out of a class of about 30. The breakdown was 3 men and 27 women. On my first day the instructor, a kind and energetic Wiccan with a PhD, informed everyone that the syllabus was dated 10,005 in honor of the beginning of agriculture as opposed to 2005 in honor of the birth of a mythological figure. She followed that up with a hearty, “And who invented agriculture?” To which a roar, the likes of which are heard only at the cheering side of the Super Bowl, responded “WOMEN!” The class then spent the semester praising all things feminine and blaming “patriarchal society” for all things wrong with the world. And each time I attempted a defense for masculinity (or even for male figures such as fathers or masons) I was either shot down by the rest of the class or ignored in the main stream of the conversation.
This caused me to think back on my 10 years as a Pagan and recognize the same pattern. As a Druid I have been screamed at by many Pagans who, mistakenly, believe that I think women can’t do magic or be druids or whatever else Druids are “supposed to believe.” I find this sexist in a culture that values Dianic and other “all female” groups. Even if I did practice an “all male” form of Druidry, why is that any different then the local Wiccan church which only allows women to its new moon rites (and refuses to ever invoke male deity at their temple)?
As a Freemason I’ve had Wiccans enraged that I dare belong to a group that only allows men (yet again, funny coming from a women who was a self-proclaimed Dianic Wiccan and refused to circle with men). And as a man I have been told that I am a sexist and I “have no way of knowing what a woman’s point of view is” and therefore cannot win any argument on Pagan spiritual practice. And to further this hypocrisy I have, on multiple occasions, been reprimanded for taking a part in coven work that involved only a High Priest with no High Priestess. This view that only women can lead is even supported by Janet and Stewart Farrar who insist that “However much drive and enthusiasm a High Priest has, he must channel it through the leadership of his High Priestess,” a view they cite as being proven through experience of three male-led covens that shut down (a “Hasty Generalization” Fallacy if I’ve ever heard one).
This “no men” attitude to Pagan spirituality extends to male versus female power. Men are said to be less powerful magically than are women, often stating that women are the only gender that can truly connect with mother earth (another fallacy since some cultures have shown nature not as feminine but as masculine, i.e. the green man, etc). This insistence that men are somehow inferior magically is as absurd as traditional kabbalists insisting that women cannot learn kabbalah. Many Wiccans go so far as to exclude the God from their practice, only praising the Goddess and treating the God as though he were a sperm donor. All references to the God have been expunged from public ritual and I have even seen conversions of the wheel of the year to one which rejects the Oak and Holly Kings’ battles entirely, instead praising Mother Earth’s cycles of fertility (a concept that is ironic in a world where most of us never experience Her fertility, instead harvesting our food from the womb of a McDonald’s bag).
The final realization of Paganism’s “de-masculinezation” came to me when I acquired a new deck. The Daughters of the Moon Tarot Deck is a neat looking deck at first glance. It is round which places it in the category of “interesting” as tarot decks go and I thought that it warranted a buy. As I flipped through the cards I became more and more annoyed. Every single card was covered in women with absolutely no men to be seen (I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised considering the name). The Major Arcana includes goddess cards (but no god cards), rejects “The Hanged Man” in favor of the “Reversal” (depicting a woman calmly hanging upside down from a branch, which lacks the symbolism of “The Hanged Man” entirely), and the only two cards featuring a man (“The Lovers”, and “Pan” [presumably more acceptable then “The Devil”]) come with replacement cards (a lesbian “The Lovers” and a “Coyote-womon” - note the use of “womon” so as to get rid of even the word “man” from the card and from the word “woman” in general).
Why is it that sexism runs rampant in the Pagan community? Why do Pagans reject all things masculine? Why do we feel it is okay to oppress men in our community to “get them back” for oppression that their forefathers took part in? This, my friends, is bigotry. I make a call to all male Pagans: Do not accept sexism from your female peers. Do not accept oppression by women because of something you haven’t done. Do not give in to feminism. Call bigotry where you see it. Identify sexism when it is pushed on you. And above all, know that you are not inferior in magic. Viva le difference!
Farrar, Janet and Stewart. A Witches’ Bible. Washington: Phoenix Publishing, 1996. part 2, pg 182, par 1
Copyright: Copyright: Draoi, D. G. Cleveland.
Location: Newport Beach, California
Bio: Gilbert lives in Las Vegas where he is preparing to be commissioned into the U.S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant (upon completing his Bachelors Degree). He is a reconstructionist Druid and a member of the Freemasons.
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