I am Pagan…. and I’m proud

“I am Pagan, and I’m Proud.  I am Pagan, gonna shout it loud.  I am Pagan, want the world to know……. that I follow the Goddess cause she rocks my soul!” – Spiral Rhythm

What is in a debate?  Is the purpose of a debate more about varying opinions or perspectives that don’t always have a right or wrong?  Often I find it important to acknowledge that a version of right is subjective and can often vary from the universal truth.

Here is the thing about the “Pagan” debate that is happening online right now.  Identifying as any label does not include or exclude you from the associations that others will put on you.  Whether you want to be identified as a Pagan or not, the world will still assume that position for you if you fall into certain categories of worship.  This is the same as any qualifiers for any category or label, just the same as I am black because I have kinkier hair, darker pigment and black features.  No one asks if I am Black nor does it usually play a factor that I have some different mixtures of other ethnicity’s within me prior to the categorization process; for all intent and purposes I am a Black Woman….period.

I feel the same about being Pagan.  I can sit and separate all the different parts of my practice that vary from other Pagans but in the end I have to make a choice about how I can find community with those who I have some similarities with instead of focusing on the differences, otherwise I am fighting against the one community whom I might be able to find some level of connectivity with spiritually.  It is a title people.  Titles don’t define us but they are a framework that allow for us to built acceptable and commonly understood concepts that we can support one another with and find support for ourselves within.

We are so conditioned to fight against perceptions and structures of power that we often would rather be without support than to feel as if we have to conform to anyone or anything else.  I would much rather stand in solidarity with others that have some common beliefs and understandings of support than to stand alone in a world that equates numbers with having a voice.  And as a Black Woman, I have been raised to understand how important having a voice and a community voice, gives power and opportunity for growth when there are none.

If it were not for some of our ancestors and revolutionaries that stood together in solidarity to encourage and demand future rights, respect and a place within this society, I would not be sitting here writing this post to be published for others to read and reflect on. They didn’t allow skin color, religious sect, community, education or community status to separate them and make them ineffective for the movement; they stood together as African Americans.

I feel it is an obligation to be a part of community and stand in opposition of oppression and fight for opportunities for those who will benefit from them in the future (including myself, my family and my children).    The Pagan community has so much more to concentrate on in securing the liberties and freedoms for our people than to spend our time turning inward and splitting ourselves apart from one another and rendering ourselves ineffective.

I am proud to be a Pagan and a active part of the Pagan community.  I hope to teach my children that community is about building something for the future that is sustainable and supportive.  While we are honoring the divine connection between ourselves and the Gods, we have to honor the divine connection between one another or else we just become hypocrites.  In the act of honoring one another we see that we are family and we are community.

And with that I echo one of the anthems of the revolutionary movements of my people, “Say it Loud!!  I’m Black (and Pagan) and I’m Proud”.  (RIP James Brown)

May we all choose to put our efforts and attention where they do the most good for everyone and for our future.

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  • http://www.faenathara.com Nathara

    I guess I’ve been out of touch with the community. When I ‘became pagan’, I had already decided what I believed and I discovered that people who had my beliefs were called Pagan. There is some tendency in the community to want to have some superiority of one system over another – maybe that section is on the rise?

    Anyways, be pagan however you feel like being pagan. I’m an eccentric pagan. I enjoy community, but I don’t follow any one path and I no longer feel the need to explain where the parts of my path came from.

    I think I’m saying I agree. :D

  • http://yellowdoggrannie.blogspot.com jackie

    I became a pagan in 1982…didn’t even know what that meant other than I decided God was a Goddess and that was that. Some where along the line I decided Freya was my Goddess…I don’t know anything about holidays(dont’ enjoy organized religion even if it’s my own) rituals..none of it..I just quietly worship Freya, light candles and pray to her for my friends. Works for me.

  • SPierce

    Thank you for this. I was starting to feel like I was the only one who felt this way.

  • http://www.katseyeview.com kat

    i am a solitary. i have been that way since i found my path. i came from a strong catholic background and the thing i liked about being catholic was the rituals.

    just because i feel the need to sweep a circle call the quarters, and have a festive feast with the goddess doesnt mean that it is the same path for others.

    i am very uncomfortable in crowds,and worshipping with others is just not my thing. but if its yours, then go for it!

    thats whats great about being pagan. i can worship in my own way. there is no right or wrong. there is noone to tell me that i am doing something wrong. its all inside of me.

    and being a pagan can mean so many different things. we have a large and diverse community.

  • Sherrie

    I became Pagan in 1985 and I’ve been “outside” the community for the past several years,till recently,when I am experiencing a need to be in contact with like minded others. Part of my seperating from the local community was I found much to my sorrow the local pool I was dipping my toe in were more about making $$,the search for power,status,and domination. In other words,ego driven spirituality. I do agree with you about community-somewhere along the way too many of us only want to join with others who “think & do exactly as we do” which of course,is impossible due to everyone’s individuality. I’m so glad you addressed this issue!

  • Greenfaery

    Thank you, thank you! I have been trying to say this every time I have seen this debate, though you have said it much better. This contining to fight for whose view is better or more “spiritual” due to this that and the other, does us no good. If we want to continue to have freedoms to worship the way we want, we must overcome the childish instinct to name call and degrade others. How can we ask others to respect our spirituality when we have no respect for people within our own community. Yes, there people that are new to the polytheistic way and can sometimes say the inappropriate things or spout very wrong ideas and we will continue to cringe. However, if we, the Pagan community, can’t act mature and guide these new ones by how they see us doing things then we as a group are in trouble.

  • sagesmoon

    This is exactly how I feel. I think it’s also why Christian branches don’t get along. They fight over details. Just as all of us are different, so too, is how we perceive or look at things:) Our uniqueness is part of our individuality. At the end of the day, do our differences(and beliefs) really have to be something that separates us? you know, we don’t have to agree to get along:)

  • http://dream-chasing101.blogspot.com Marquita

    I just want to say that I love your blog. I’m a full-time student, wife, business owner, and independent publisher. I don’t have much free time but when I do I like blogging and reading blogs. Yours is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

    I’m black and I’m a Wicca, but I was raised as a non-practicing Christian. It was difficult figuring who I was and who I wanted to be. When I finally did, it was still difficult to feel secure when everyone around me is not the same as me.

    I’m actually married to a Christian and he has always been very respectful of my views, being well versed in many different religions. Some of my family knows that I am no longer a Christian (probably never was, to be quite honest), but even that is just the close family members. I don’t make it point to speak about religion to people I am not close to because I don’t feel like I should have to “explain” myself.

    Anyway, I think you have a really great thing going here. Keep up the good work!

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    Well said. The allegory of racial labels is especially apt. People look at me and label me (white, Caucasian, European-American, whatever). It really doesn’t matter what I call myself, and I only recall being asked for my own opinion on the matter once or twice in my life. In the same way, if a person practices some sort of reconstructed ancient religion (for example) they will probably get labeled “pagan” by some people. Hopefully it won’t bother them too much. Clearly there’s a power in numbers, and I would be proud to stand together with you. Like Marquita says, I’ve been enjoying your posts too.

  • Cara Schulz

    When asked, this is what I say, “I’m Hellenion, which is a bit like the church service of Catholicism mixed with the multiple Gods like what Hindus do.”

    When I tell people this, they usually *don’t* place me in the Pagan category. This is true from many others who practice a revived religion. So the premise that we will automatically labeled by society so we might as well give in to that is false.

    I see many assumptions made that those who don’t self-identify as Pagan are doing so for malicious intentions. Why make those assumptions of bad intent and bad faith? You have only to read what they have written, such as what Drew has written, to see that they are good people willing to stand together with Pagans and other minority faiths on issues that affect us all. But they don’t see themselves as pagans. Not better, not worse, just different.

    All this said, if someone asks if I am a Pagans I’ll answer “yes” – but if someone expresses to me that they don’t, I’m not going to demand that they accept the label and denigrate them for it.

  • Allison

    I have to say, this post put a lot of things in perspective for me. I’ve been following your blog for a little while now, but I haven’t been able to comment on anything yet because I feel like my own background and viewpoint is so different. This post in particular, though, really helped me realize that my reluctance to engage in any way with the Pagan community is probably rooted in my own history with the black community.

    Labels are so easily applied by others no matter how we view ourselves. For me, growing up biracial and not looking immediately recognizable as having any black ancestry meant that I was labeled by my black peers as Other, and “not black enough.” I realize now that I still carry a lot of hurt and bitterness about that. I’ve worked a lot in getting in touch with the spirits of my ancestors, and they are welcoming, but flesh and blood African-Americans have more often than not seemed mistrustful and cold to me when talking face to face.

    It’s this same bitterness and fear of rejection that keeps me from taking part in the Pagan community. I worry that I won’t fit in because I’m not Wiccan, because my own eclectic path is too far off what I perceive as the accepted standard for what makes a Pagan, and that means that I don’t have anything in common with other, “real” Pagans.

    Thank you for this post. It was a really emotional reading process for me, and it opened up a lot of things I thought I’d locked away. Maybe if I engage more with the Pagan community it’ll help me heal some of this trauma I carry with me, and I can feel like I have something worthwhile to contribute instead of sitting on the sidelines.


  • http://www.patheos.com/community/members/crystalblanton/ Crystal Blanton

    I love reading the comments on here and thank everyone for taking the time to do so. A couple of comments in response… Cara, I don’t think that anyone should be forced to say they are Pagan by any means. I agree with you. I do think that we spend a aweful lot of time haggling over differences than embracing them and that is more my point. Growing up Black and living in a diverse area… there was always this discussion about if the race war were to happen. Whether I agree with others on this or not, it was always said I need to know where I fall if this “war” were to happen because the world looks at me as Black. Interesting thought….

    Alison, thank you so much for your post! I have had some similar experiences with the “not black enough” stuff and it can be hurtful. I think for me, I have embraced that as a means of educating others in the many shades of brilliance that Black people come in and we don’t look or act the same. You are one of the best representations of diversity that could grace the Pagan community. I honor you in working to find that power within yourself and within the community.

    And everyone else, I really enjoy reading your comments. Thanks very much for honoring me by reading and commenting. Blessed Be

  • http://Elskabar.com Elskabar

    It is interesting that you touch on this topic and more interesting that I read it today. Just yesterday I had a garden filled with high priests from an African religion and it brought something to mind that we often forget. Organized religion is based on FOLLOWERS and LEADERS. Paganism, though there is always a High Priest and High Priestess, is a religion of equality. We are ALL High Priests and High Priestesses, no matter what role we play in an organized setting. When we leave, we simply move back into our own spiritual skin and should feel empowered that we do not NEED to enact ritual through a priest/ess other then ourselves.

    Yes community is wonderful. Yes sharing ideas and thoughts is also great. Just make sure when you attend a party it is in a public place and not your home. Even the best of friends have their own agenda.

    I am Pagan, I am Proud. This path found me when I was only eleven years old. I come from a long line of these African Priests. It is a joyous thing to be free to worship as I see fit: as I feel is right for my deity. May it always be so!

    Thank you for this post!