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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Pagan Thoughts on Christmas Day
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Article ID: 11392
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lupa [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 9th. 2007
Times Viewed: 5,940
During every year I've been pagan, I've been struck by just how much religious tension this busy season creates, including in the pagan community.
It never ceases to amaze me how hypocritical some--not all--pagans can be. They moan and whine and complain about how incredibly persecuted they are by THE EVIL CHRISTIANS!!!! And then they go and brag about how, when a well-meaning person handed them a religious tract in all politeness, they literally threw it back at the person with a few choice insults.
Or, for that matter, when during this time of year I hear pagans doing their best to convince Christians that their holiday is really pagan, and somehow that invalidates Christianity.
So Christianity drew from older religions--that's NORMAL. All religions pulled from traditions older than they. Wicca drew from ceremonialism more than it drew from any genuine Ancient Cult of Wytchcrafte. Even religions that are being reconstructed still have even older origins--no doubt the Celts, way back when, had a belief system that was hybridized from even older cultures. It's just the way it works.
Older does not mean more legitimate. Just because neopaganism is, as a whole, less than 100 years old, doesn't mean it's not as legitimate as Christianity. Unfortunately, some pagans still feel the need to get into a "mine's older" competition to try to make themselves feel more secure in their religion.
And, of course, there's the hypocrisy of eclecticism.
I hear pagans talk about how you can't combine elements of Christianity with paganism, and then in the next breath they'll talk about various bits and parts of Native American cultures that they're ripped right out of context (never mind the protestations of the cultures being taken from).
Neopaganism has taken inspiration from Hinduism, Buddhism, various indigenous cultures, and gods know what all else--but if you dare speak of Christian Wicca, suddenly pagans are up in arms! That's impossible!
We have no problem ignoring the claims by members of indigenous religions that you can't take parts of their beliefs out of context, yet we listen all too well to the same basic ideas about Christianity.
We blithely go about ignoring the inconvenient parts of all sorts of religions, but if someone chooses to ignore certain parts of Christianity in order to integrate more compatible aspects that ring true to them, suddenly it's heresy!
Is anyone else registering the double standard here?
And, speaking of picking and choosing, some pagans *love* taking certain elements of Christianity out of context, but HATE having parts of paganism treated similarly. Case in point--some pagans will talk about the parts of the Bible where YHWH is a major jerk, but ignore Jesus talking about loving thy neighbor, and use that to justify their anti-Christianity.
But woe to the newspaper reporter who dares to focus a little too much on the traditional Great Rite in their article about the poor pagans!!! PERSECUTION!!!!
Criticism of Christianity is okay in the press, but any journalistic critique of paganism is automatically--you guessed it--persecution!
While we're at it, let's talk about pagan parenting. I've seen several posts online from pagan parents who are absolutely terrified that their teenaged child is getting interested in--gasp--CHURCH!
Maybe the kid has a boyfriend or girlfriend who's Christian, and wants the little pagan to go to Youth Group one night, just for the fun of it. Or maybe little Morgan or Raven has suddenly shown interest in learning more about Christianity. Holy moley! Pull out the athame and the sage smudge and the quartz crystals, honey, we have to make sure that our baby doesn't cross over to the Dark Side!
Because you know what our Christian parents did to us when we started showing interest in paganism--they pulled out the Bible and the holy water and did their best to keep us away from the evils of paganism!
If your child becomes Christian, s/he will surely become a fire-breathing fundamentalist who'll never speak to us again!
Now, I'm not a parent, and never will be. But it seems hypocritical that a few pagan parents will do the exact same thing to their kids that their parents did to them, only with the religions reversed.
Granted, that's not all pagan parents, but I have seen a couple of cases like this online just in the past month. Seems to me like these parents are trying to pass their own baggage on to their kids and find a new shoulder for those big old chips.
Regardless of whether we're parents or not, pagans have got to get over the prejudice against Christianity. There are some real hypocrites among us.
I've long since lost track of how many pagans I've heard talking about how we're justified in hating Christians because of the Burning Times, or Salem, or because supposedly all Christians are out to get rid of the neopagans and Congress will be outlawing us any day and Homeland Security is targeting pagans and we're oh-so-persecuted!!!
I'm not going to deny that discrimination and bigotry happens. I've seen custody cases where paganism was a major issue. I'm well aware of the situation with Tempest Smith, the girl who committed suicide a few years ago because she was tired of being teased about being, among other things, Wiccan.
And I know people who have had really negative experiences being raised Christian-- when my husband Taylor lived with his mom as a teenager, she found out he was into magic from one of his friend's parents and made Taylor burn all his magical books. And while my parents accept that I'm pagan and know that I'm an author, my mother still guilts me about going back to church.
Additionally, some people choose to remain closeted at work or school or elsewhere because it makes them feel safer--I see no problem with that.
But this is no excuse to paint all Christians with a broad brush.
Yes, there are Christians who are real jerks out there.
Yes, there are PARTS of the religion that get misinterpreted to justify everything from hating non Christians, to gay-bashing, to abuse of women.
Yes, there Catholic priests and other clergy who molest children.
Yes, there are Christian bosses who make excuses to get rid of pagan employees.
But that's not the whole of the religion of Christianity. It's not even the majority.
No more than teenaged "elders" talking about using belladonna, or racists misusing Asatru, or plastic shamans, or "coven leaders" who entice people into "sex magic" for their own lustful purposes, are examples of paganism as a whole. The idiots and the crooks are the ones you generally hear the most about, because they're some of the ones making the most noise!
We have got to get over the persecution complex as a subculture. Christianity isn't the problem--bigots, regardless of flavor, are. Look at the recent situation with getting pentacles on the graves of Wiccan soldiers killed in the line of duty--the majority of Christian voices you hear are in *support* of the pagan effort!
And I remember back a few years when the pagan group at Ft. Hood was in the news, the Army Times ran six letters one week in response to an article on the group. Five of the six were in favor, and four of those five--were from Christians.
It saddens me that in the decade I've been in the pagan community that I still see the same patterns and accusations. So many of us refuse to let go of our individual bad experiences with being raised Christian; instead, we feed those negative imprints by trying to find any proof that all Christians are horrible people, and that Christianity is inherently an evil religion.
We do unto others what we hate having done to ourselves. It does a major disservice to the many, many Christians I have met over the years who know I'm pagan and accept it--and, most of the time, don't even really care what religion I am.
They might be quieter than the televangelists and the street preachers and the others who abuse a perfectly good religion, but in my experience in both small towns and metropolitan areas, they are the majority.
Christianity isn't our enemy. We aren't the enemy of Christians.
Intolerance, ignorance, and bigotry--THOSE are the common enemies, regardless of what religious garb they wear.
Copyright: Copyright Lupa, 2006-7 - please link back to the original article rather than copying and pasting.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lupa - Click HERE
Bio: Lupa is a twenty-something pagan and experimental magician living in Seattle with her husband and fellow author, Taylor Ellwood, Sun Ce the cat, and Tatzel the lizard. She is the author of "Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic", "A Field Guide to Otherkin" (March 2007) and "Kink magic: Sex Magic Beyond Vanilla (cowritten with Taylor, late 2007) . Her website is http://www.thegreenwolf.com
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