Paganism and “Passing”

I am completely overwhelmed with what I need to do for tomorrow. Turkey is thawed in the fridge, I’m trying to figure out if I have enough serving dishes and figure out the whole chair situation. I’m sure many of you are doing the same thing. Do I have enough sage? Will there be traffic? Is someone in the family going to take issue with me this year? Do I need to de-Pagan myself, my house, my kids before having dinner with family?

I have something on my mind that’s kind of appropriate to the season. Do you “pass” as non-Pagan? Can you talk the church talk? When called upon can you make an appropriate grace that makes everyone else comfortable? Can you fall into the speech patterns and attitudes of mainstream religion and the overculture when needed?

Can you do this for things outside of Paganism? Can you “pass” for straight? For liberal? For conservative? Does your accent return when you go home? Do you mimic the accent of your hosts?

If you have a disability, can you compensate enough to “pass” for fully able? Can you present yourself as normal and fully functional even when you’re not?

Tomorrow, many of us will be busy “passing” in some way or other. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But it’s something to think about. How we “pass,” when we “pass,” and what we “pass” as is important to be mindful of. Think about that over your turkey and gravy. About the benefits and drawbacks of “passing.” Does your ability to “pass” make people less able to see you? Less likely to hear you when you have a problem? What would happen if you just stopped “passing?”

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In other news, Peter Dybing, someone I’d vote the least likely to “front,” is going to participate in Occupy Ft. Lauderdale, and it’s sounding like arrests may be made as local police plan to shut down the demonstration today. He’s going to try to keep us updated via Facebook, but there’s always a chance he may be spending Thanksgiving in jail. A lot of non-violent protesters may be spending Thanksgiving in jail. We should keep them in our hearts, maybe set out a plate for them to include them in spirit.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Pythia Theocritos

    Passing is just one of those necessary evils.  Assimilation, or the appearance thereof,  is something many have to do on a regular basis; just to survive or keep their jobs.  If I stopped passing as someone capable of finding anti-Black humor funny all of the time, I could lose the trust of my coworkers; which could effect my ability to be promoted and be considered “one of the cool ones.”

    I do think having to pass as so many things (Christian, “nice”, “that cool black chick who doesn’t get mad when we make racist jokes every day”) creates a mask so thick I sometimes forget who I am. I’ve even questioned whether my non-passing responses are justified as I have actively allowed myself to get to this point. But really? I’m thankful for having the flexibility. 

    So many do not have the ability to change themselves in that way and they consistently pay for it either professionally, socially, or with their families. Perhaps the pain isn’t worth “selling out”, but selling out sometimes seems so much easier.

    • blackpagan

      ^^What you said. 

      I pretty much keep EVERYTHING close to the chest: my spiritual path, political views, educational background, family arrangement, my age, what property I own, you name it. 

      The people I deal with from day to day only know one or two facets of me; I never let them have the whole picture. And yes, it’s a matter of survival. Having been a perpetual outsider my whole life in terms of demographics, this comes naturally to me. I don’t really have a tribe.

      The only people who get to know me for real are a select few: mostly cherished friends/family whom I’ve known for years who accept all of me no matter what. It takes a lot for me to let a new person in — we have to be really sympatico in some very crucial ways — so I don’t see any practical reason to justify a change in my strategy. To answer your question, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. And no I don’t feel lonely.

      Being that one of those trusted people is my soulmate, whom I’ve been with for many years, that keeps the mask from making me crazy, cause every day I get to relax with someone who loves and accepts me completely. That makes up for the distance I put between myself and most everybody else.

  • sunfell

    My house, my rules. My life, my rules. While I am not ‘in your face’ about who I am, I refuse to hide my Light under a bushel, either. I spent the first half of my adult life trying -and failing- to ‘pass’. When I chose to broom that to the curb and be true to myself, good things happened. I am more ‘me’ now than I was when I was as a Public Pagan.

    Along with passing, I’ve also tossed out the whole issue of tolerance. I do not wish to be merely tolerated. I wish to be accepted. Tolerance implies passing, and privilege that can be arbitrarily taken away. Acceptance removes that threat, and expands the range of humanity. Any more, I listen for the use of the word ‘tolerance’ because it has become a dog-whistle word of the intolerant.

    I am a flexible and capable person. But now it is my turn to make a place in this world, and if mainstreamers are not comfortable with that, there’s the door.

  • Sunweaver

    I am very blessed and grateful with a family who loves me for who and what I am. That’s a treasured thing right there. At one point, I just gave up trying to pass because I’m frankly not very good at it. It’s too much effort and I want to put that energy toward something more constructive.
    My mum is Christian, my brother and his family Jewish, my sister is… some kind of Pagan, I’m not sure exactly, my brother-in-law a Druid, my husband Catholic, my stepfather agnostic, and we still manage to sit around the table and have a meal. The Dar Williams song The Christians and the Pagans ( if you don’t know it) approaches my ideal and I’ve held on to that ideal as something to work toward. I wish all of you a safe and happy holiday and may you be blessed by all the gods of Olympos.

  • Sunnydays1941

    I’ve only been on this path about 2 months and haven’t told my hubby yet. So I haven’t had to face this just yet.

  • nothing

    I am somewhere in the middle. Some days I feel I’m living a lie and other days I feel safe keeping to myself. I guess it’s not an easy issue for anyone. Happy turkey day and don’t stress out too much Star….I cook professionally and it always comes together in the end.  Just keep the faith as the saying goes. ;) Blessings always

    • Sol

      ^- I’m in this camp (except I can’t cook).

      For me, its not something I’ll ever be able to discuss with my family so I don’t go there, especially during a time when we’re trying to get along.  :-)That being said, I did come up with a prayer “just in case” I’m ever asked that won’t compromise my beliefs or create “unproductive discussions”:
      “Divine Creator,

       The dawn of a new day is your gift to us,
       The time spent with friends and family your blessing;

       May we remember this and offer our thanks to you.

       May we honor all that you have given us and
       Live our lives in your peace.”Blessed Be, and Happy Thanksgiving.

      • kenneth

        My personal favorite, when someone insists on a traditional Christian invocation, is the prayer from “Boondock Saints.” :)

        And Shepherds we shall beFor thee, my Lord, for thee.Power hath descended forth from Thy handOur feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.So we shall flow a river forth to TheeAnd teeming with souls shall it ever be.In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.

  • Soliwo

    My family isn’t Christian and my country is highly secular. My family doesn’t go the church with Christmas, no blessings are spoken out loud. We celebrate Sinterklaas (traditional Dutch festival of gift-giving) and Christmas secularly. So I do not have to pretend anything. Only my sister-in-law is Christian and she knows I have some different notions though I have never told her anything in detail. She still feels secure having me as godmother to her future child so I am good :)

  • Zevenster

    Hey Soliwo,
    sharing country and situation!
    Aren’t you surprised how un-free Americans are, in real life? And how free we are… even in intolerant Holland…

    • kenneth

      I’m not surprised at at all. I’ve been to Holland. If I had been wealthy, I would have thrown my passport in the canals and never come home.

  • HRM

    Can and do are two different things. Most days, I don’t even bother attempting. 

    Sure, I can talk the talk, do the walk and all that happy horseshit, but on the whole, I’m agreeing with Sunfell on this.