This guest post is from K. Pythia Theocritos, a wonderful writer that writes for her own blog and is pretty powerful in her words. She has written a guest post for Daughters of Eve and we hope to read more of her writing in the near future. Enjoy!! – Crystal
That Angry, Polytheist, Black Woman
by K. Pythia Theocritos
This post is very raw. While writing it I seethed with emotion and yes, some of that emotion was anger. The current political and economic climate not withstanding; my mind was weighed heavily with encountering, once again, the ‘genre tropes’ of my existence. The delicate dance between inspiring friendship and inspiring fear and knowing how easy it was to step over that line.
If there’s one thing that causes suspicion, and fear, in America it’s the perceived danger behind the anger of black women. The angry black woman has become such an archetype that many of us must walk on glass, quite aware that even the tiniest show of annoyance or adamance could lead to a break down in communication.
Pagans, by and large, tend to be a liberal group. Our community espouses the principles of acceptance and tolerance. Unfortunately, buried in the glitter of fairy wings and European poetry lurks the subtle undertones of covert prejudice and race-based assumption. With her hands on her hips, the ethnic shadow “bitchy black woman” is a constant weapon of subdoing. The experience of being “handled” with caution as this could get ugly; brings to mind the kind of treatment one gives to an ill-tempered dog or child. The, claustrophobic, feeling of held breaths in a room as a group of predominantly white, pagans come face to face with not only a black pagan, but a black Hellenic-polytheist who is also knee deep in the study of alchemy and Hermetics.
I have received the same bumps and bruises as any other pagan who has walked their path a little longer than they would like to admit. Unfortunately, all of this doesn’t matter if I refuse to fulfill the role of passive voice. If I show an unwillingness to become an empty, all accepting vessel seeking acceptance, and offering unconditional love, both to and from a random group of strangers whom share no commonality with me besides prescribing to an alternative religion. In essence, unless I am willing to be the Mammy to another’s Scarlet, my presence is threatening.
I can smile, laugh, offer witty comebacks with a hint of “sista-speak”, but never, ever, disagree or venture to correct. In the pagan community I’ve sensed being two steps away from the territory of“uppity negro.” I’ve seen it in the eyes of 40 year old women, hell bent on using their “Irishness/Scottishness” as an excuse to exercise poor manners at any given opportunity. I’ve heard it in the patronizing tones of leadership who instantly equate my eloquence as an attack on their institution and delicate sensibilities. To “know my place” means to be the constant beginner, willing to claim even the most undereducated one-book priestess as my better.
So why even bother seeking the greater pagan community again? For a long time I didn’t. I would step in only to remember why I had left; slinking back into my safe place of limited interaction with people I could trust. I found solace in speaking to Jews and Muslims who seemed at peace with themselves enough to handle rigorous philosophical and religious conversation without falling into a level of histrionics best left to soap operas
Maybe that does make me angry or maybe it just makes me like every other person living their lives, maintaining a full time job, and taking the lumps of their existence with as much grace as I can muster considering the circumstances. My path has been hard, not always because of my race, but because I choose to continue a life of diligence and honesty despite my race. Now I come back, no longer willing to play by the rules of others, and happy to live by my own principles. I’ve dedicated my time to finding those of like mind, and discipline, willing to get past looking for religious succor and, instead, are searching for some form of truth and growth.
Maybe I am that woman the movie studios and popular media have warned the Western world about. Maybe there is something, inherently, dangerous about being a woman of color unwilling to compromise, to pussy foot, and not ashamed to say that fact. But, I have a feeling the pagan community, and the world, will be hearing from many more such women very soon.
K. Pythia Theocritos has been a practicing pagan, both in and out of the community, for 11 years. She is currently a devotee of The Olympians, editor of He Epistole; A Hellenic Polytheist Newsletter, and proud purveyor of self-deprecating humor. Having studied eclectic Wiccan-influenced magical practices, she seeks to construct, for herself, a ceremonial magic system based on Greco-Roman symbolism instead of the, typical, Judeo-Christian archetypes. This project, combined with her studies in alchemy, have forced her to convert her blood into pure caffeine for efficiency. She is engaged in a wonderfully playful inter-faith marriage; is the personal butler of 4 cats, and is fond of a good drink, a few laughs, and profanity when it fits the surrounding company.