Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Over the weekend, a news article covering a conference I was at referred to me as "at least one self-proclaimed pagan." There are a couple things in here that are pretty irritating; Niobium has remarked on them already, and sent a good letter to the interviewer. You wouldn't say "self-proclaimed Jew", would you?

Then there's the Pagan/pagan/Neo-pagan debate over terminology. Normally, it doesn't make much difference to me; though upon reflection, what I'm okay with in interpersonal dialogue is a completely inadequate standard for public representation. In this case, the author of the article uses it as a generic adjective--not as a name for a legitimate, recognized religious group. Thus, I am irked. (And thus, I will be shifting my terminology from pagan to Pagan in the blog. Because this is a public face of my religious practice, it ought to be held to similar standards.)

But obnoxious usage aside, the word "Self-Proclaimed" makes me thoughtful. And after a little Whitman-esque moment of singing "Meeeeee!" in the car at the convention, I decided to accept the term, on my own terms.

I proclaim myself
sister, daughter, lover;
confess myself
to be Hers as She is mine, as I am a part of all;
declare myself
finite, yearning for infinite, delighting in the limited;
announce myself
uncertain and assured, on a new path that is yet familiar;
sing myself, Pagan.

I have to be self-proclaimed, where other faiths can take it for granted that their affiliation will be clear. I have to sing myself, shout myself as a Pagan, because otherwise...well, who will?


At 7:10 PM, Blogger valkyrierisen said...

Fantastic. I love the proclamation. Something like that went through my head, but not coherently enough for me to put into words. *Pagans have to proclaim themselves.* I love it. Thank you for writing so beautifully.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger alto artist said...

Brava! It was a pleasure to have met you, and I look forward to reading more self-proclaiming!

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Niobium said...

Thanks for the kudos, Arachne.

I agree that Pagans have to self-proclaim and usually we do this by coming out of the broom closet.

Please tell me more about the conference from a Pagan perspective. I've read everyone else's blog about the experience (it sounds like it was awesome and I'm so sad I couldn't go) but not from someone who isn't a Child of Abraham. Also, did you go to Emily's discussion? I've not read a single word on her presentation of Paganism and I would like to know what she said.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Arachne said...

I'm working on a report of the con for my research. Should it be posted to the Pluralism Project, I'll crosslink--until then, my academic musings about it are in their hands.

Perhaps the most striking thing was the sheer effect that the diversity had on the room. Without Hoarded Ordinaries and myself, it might have become something like an Abrahamic progressives discussion ( I understand the Children of Abraham had a great time discussing blogging scripture). Our presence brought a gentle pressure on others to be aware that the notion of progressive faith included many, many more beliefs--and that, as a result, progressive faith blogs have a resource available that more conservative/exclusivist faiths don't: pluralistic consensus.

My comments about Pagan blogging and Paganism were fairly sparse, unfortunately, because I'm pretty new to the blogosphere in general. I mentioned Witchvox as one big "hub" site, as well as some of the carnivals and collaborative blogs I'd encountered. I also brought up Circle Sanctuary's site in the context of Pagan advocacy (the pentacle/VA case in particular). I mentioned the wide diversity within the Pagan 'umbrella', and finished by pointing to the ways in which a lot of Pagans of different stripes use the web to connect. I think I also brought up Cherry Hill Seminary at one point.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Niobium said...

I was going to send you an email but you don't have it in your profile.

The gentleman who wrote the article got back to me (I posted it) so you may want to take a peak.

I've been to the pluralism project but found that it was just a webpage. I'm obviously missing something, can you enlighten me?

Valkyrierisen and I plan on going to the conference next year and I hope you do too. I would like to see a Pagan ceremony at the conference but I don't feel qualified to run one. Anyone?

Still, I look forward to reading about your experiences from a Pagan viewpoint.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Arachne said...

Well, the Project is my workplace. We post regular research reports. I attended the conference as n00b of a blogger but also as a researcher and student--so I've got something of a split identity here...

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Matt H said...

I enjoyed my first visit to your blog and meeting you at the blog con. I can't comment much on the contemporary debate of terminology, not having had any sustained interaction with presently functioning Pagan communities. But from a historical perspective: when I was writing my undergraduate thesis on the conversion of Greek classical temples into Christian churches during the 6th - 7th centuries in Athens, I sort of hybridized various scholarly conventions and began using "Pagan" to refer to the explicitly religious or cultic practices of the pre-christian Greeks and Romans, in order to distinguish the discussion of religious/ritual/theological content from using it as a generic descriptor of cultural content (say politics or literature or art) in that historical and geographic period, which I called, alternatively, Hellenistic, late antique, classical, Greek, prechristian, or small-p pagan. I find it interesting to see these sorts of discussions happening outside of obscure academic discourse.


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