Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yule resolutions

Why yes, it is long past Yule... It is, however, the first full moon afterwards. Give or take a day or two. So I'm putting my Yule resolution into action.

In the last few months, I've participated in a series of New Moon ceremonies through a Reclaiming circle. I like it; it's been full of insight, increased my mindfulness, brought me into contact with several very deep and strong people, and generally brought me closer to the Goddess. One of the things the group has talked about is full moon ceremonies--not circles, but some way of community work, whether it's cleaning up parks or working at a food pantry or so on. I'm interested, but I know my own brain: there's no way I can be deeply involved in the organization of this while I'm still in the midst of coursework. I would not be able to do what is needed to be the point person. On one hand, that's good for me to keep a limit on my commitments and not to agree to something I can't do--on the other, it means that I'm not doing full moon work at all, and that's no good either.

While I can't give myself more hours, more brain, or more arms to take on these tasks, I can do a few things. Arachne here is my public Pagan voice. Therefore, my Yule resolution is that on full moon, I will post to Arachne, not as a substitute for other holiday posts, but as a means of putting myself out in the public realm in even the smallest of ways.

That brings me to other thoughts about Paganism in the public sphere. A long time ago, I wrote about being in a mostly-Abrahamic environment, and figuring out what my role as a Pagan was in that space. One of the conclusions I've reached is that being a Pagan is being the oddity case, the one that forces reevaluation of terms, ideas, and assumptions. Noting the presence of polytheism whenever a monotheistic God is assumed to be the common element. Noting that we don't have a shared scripture or organized clergy, whenever those are used to define "religions." Pointing out the creativity and adaptation and decentralization of all the groups that (mostly) fall under the "Pagan" umbrella term, whenever religions are presumed to be static.

If we're already used as the scare-tactic case ("what if one of those Pagans wants to give a daily prayer at school/hand out pamphlets/preach to our kids?) in cases of religious freedom, we should embrace that role and make it clear that "religious freedom" means including the groups that don't fit with monotheistic, static, scriptural definitions of religion.

This can seem contrarian--we'll be constantly pointing out that the assumed standard doesn't fit us, and that can get frustrating for anyone trying to set a standard--but it is essential for understanding what real religious freedom means in this country. It doesn't mean keeping all of it behind closed doors, or celebrating the religion that *most* people follow. It means seeing us, hearing us, under the exact same protections assigned to the most populous, most powerful, or most orthodox faiths.