Should There Be Freedom Of Religion Within Paganism?

I was really freaking angry yesterday. I’m still processing my feelings of betrayal and being used over this issue, and angry to see so many people putting their agenda ahead of logic, reason, facts, and other people’s rights.

In trying to cool down and start seriously thinking about this whole brouhaha over Z. Budapest’s ritual at PantheaCon, I realized it boiled down to a single issue: freedom of religion.

If you deeply believe in menses magic, in celebrating and honoring the womb, and in the healing power of woman only space; if you aren’t harming other people or breaking the laws of the land, can the greater Pagan community shut you down?

Because that is what is being asked of PantheaCon here. They are asked to define a Pagan morality and theology, to declare what is acceptable and what is heresy. CIS-woman-only space is being declared a heresy.

The issue isn’t that there isn’t space for transgender people at PantheaCon. There most certainly is. One of the most incredible rituals I’ve ever participated in was a straight-welcoming genderqueer ritual put on by Ekklesia Antinouu at PantheaCon. There is no ban on creating more inclusive women’s rituals. Anyone is free to do so.

The issue is that PantheaCon is being told they will be boycotted (amusingly by people who by and large have never attended the event) if they give cis-women-only rituals the same treatment as Vodou rituals, or any other ritual that has requirements and exclusions.

If I were to say I felt discriminated against and insisted PantheaCon allow me to invoke Loki or Gandalf in the Troth’s blot, everyone would realize that is ridiculous. If that’s important to me there are plenty of rituals where I can do that, and I’m free to create a facilitate just such a ritual without declaring the Troth’s ritual a heresy.

Another example would be a trad Craft ritual that isn’t open to self-initiates. People feel strongly about the issue of initiation, so should PantheaCon insist anyone who declares themselves Wiccan be allowed to attend?

You don’t get your rights by taking them from other people. You certainly don’t get them by disparaging GLBTQI rituals as “other” and implying they are less worthy. You don’t get them by going after another minority. Trying to take people’s religious rights away from them is what we generally experience from monotheistic traditions, and it’s disheartening to see it in our own community.

It would have been heartening to see a women’s ritual on the program this year where cis-women and trans women discuss and celebrate the cycles and seasons of their bodies. It’s not something I would attend, but it would be uplifting to find that as the response to last year’s ruckus.

Instead I’m seeing people tell women, some of which have suffered abuse, that they are not allowed to practice their faith. Instead of recognizing that diversity isn’t always pretty, everyone is feeding their energy to Z. Budapest and criticizing an event that facilitates wonderful transgender-welcoming programming.

I don’t believe in gender-exclusive rituals, but I also don’t believe in some grand Pagan orthodoxy in which those who believe differently are ostracized and declared heretics. I really find Z’s brand of Dianic Witchcraft distasteful, but I will fight for the right of those Dianics to have a place at the table just as hard as I will fight for the right for transgender people to have a seat at the table.

Tolerance isn’t narcissism. It doesn’t mean everyone agrees with you, accepts you and let’s you do what you want. Tolerance is allowing other people to do what they do as long as it’s not harming anyone. Tolerance isn’t comfortable. Tolerance is making a seat at the table for people you don’t like. If your tolerance is about the world conforming to your views and all of Paganism revolving around your worldview, then you’re doing it wrong.

Despite my vocal support of transgender rights, men’s issues and a whole host of other “progressive” views I’ve already been “unfriended” over my views on this issue. That’s ok.

When it comes to men and trans women, Z. Budapest is a bigot. She’s pretty open about it. Everyone knows where she stands, and have for 40 years. Z. Budapest also happens to be profoundly talented when it comes to women’s spirituality and women’s mysteries. It’s a shame that she doesn’t include trans women, because she has a lot to offer them. But no one is required to attend her rituals or listen to her speak. Last year I spent 5 days at the conference and only saw her once, passing in a hallway.

Banishing Z. or insisting she go against her beliefs is simply wrong. It sets a precedent that if you go against the “Pagan orthodoxy” you’re out. And that’s a hideous thought.

There is a new generation of Dianics who are transgender welcoming, who are progressive and who are moving beyond the baggage of the past. They are doing good work and should be supported. They do some of this work at PantheaCon, because it’s a fantastic supporter of Paganism in all it’s wondrous diversity.

I have no doubt that PantheaCon was a wonderful drama-free event for most people this year. I’m glad they made space for Z. Budapest, because there are women who truly find great spiritual value and healing in her work. I’m glad they make space for Ekklesia Antinouu, the Troth, Traditional Witchcraft and Vodou. I’m glad they make space for dry academics and smarmy popular authors. It’s a great event, and I sincerely hope they don’t become the arbiters of what is appropriately Pagan, and what is heresy.

Because this issue is about freedom of religion, and I for one refuse to support the concept of Pagan heresy, and punishments for those who don’t conform to the tyranny of the masses.

Here are two contemporary takes from people who actually attended PantheaCon this year (not the armchair quarterbacks like myself who’ve been dominating the online conversation):

Letter to the Editor at PNC-Minnesota:

This is why I was at Pantheacon.  I am alone where I live.  I do not have a coven, I do not have pagan sisters where I live.  I go to festivals and I was at Pantheacon 2 years ago so I can be with my community and gain strength from my sisters.  All my sisters.  But I need these rituals of healing and of reclaiming my body as sacred.  I’m ashamed to say I need to have them without seeing a penis.  I hope this changes soon as I long for the day when a safe space includes everyone.  But I need this.  Can you sisters, all my sisters, find it in your heart to understand this?  To forgive me?

I did not go to the ritual at Pantheacon this year.  I wasn’t aware there would be protesters until I was at the hotel.  People at the convention have been talking about the ritual and emotions are high.  My friend that I’m attending the convention with was called a bigot and hateful because she planned to attend the ritual.  I am not hateful.  I am not a bigot.  I could not walk walk past those silent people sitting and standing in the hall in front of the doors to the ritual.  I am not defiant or strong enough to walk past the reproachful looks.

Lupa’s LiveJournal:

Z spoke in her spoken statement about how she starts with the concept that every minute a (cisgender) woman dies in childbirth and that’s what informs her work. Well, transgender people are at a much higher than average risk for being murdered specifically for being trans. And they’re more likely to commit suicide directly because of issues related to being trans. There is a higher ratio of trans people who work in the sex industry because of discrimination in other forms of work, and so they face the disproportionate risks of sex work as well. And so on.

And yet so many cis women ignore these issues that face trans women (and men). And it’s that ignorance that I saw perpetuated tonight in the statements, and in every statement that “only cis women are real women” and “trans issues are separate issues”. I feel so much that the point was missed entirely tonight.

I expect this post will likely make people angry. Review the comment policy and take a deep breath before commenting.

About Star Foster

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

  • Fern Miller

    If the abuse was from blacks …. would a whites only ritual be appropriate, from a leader who said that anyone with even a drop of black blood was black?  And from a person who had a history of saying that anyone with any ‘black genetics’ who claimed to be white was a n***** trying to take over pure whites and their space?

    (Edited for language)

    • Vermillion

      I don’t think typing out the full slur for blacks was necessary, the same way I feel that typing out Z’s slur for our transgendered friends  is not appropriate. We all know what you mean.

    • Star Foster

       That’s not what is happening. This isn’t a case of “white privilege” but a case of two minorities wanting space on their own terms.

      • Desiree Arceneaux

        No, it’s a completely unambiguous case of a privileged majority group (cis people) excluding an oppressed minority group (trans people). The fact that the cis people in question are women is completely irrelevant in this context; cis women are _strictly_ more privileged than trans women in all possible respects.

    • Merlin

      They’re called Nordic Pagans.  And some Celtic Reconstructionists.  See R.J. Stewart’s opinion that only people of the purest Celtic descent have the Sight and should be allowed to practice the Celtic Mysteries.  Despite the fact that he borrows from the Qabala among other traditions!

      • LezlieKinyon

         Those tow people represent a *tiny* minority and would not be welcome at most – if not all -  pan-Pagan events. At least those held in Northern Ca, I certainly can’t speak for The Rest of the Country.

        • Merlin

          I know for a fact that people like R J. Stewart teaches in Northern California at least once a year in addition to being at pantheacon every year.  So much for your Northern California Superiority Complex!

      • Vermillion

         ” See R.J. Stewart’s opinion that only people of the purest Celtic
        descent have the Sight and should be allowed to practice the Celtic
        Mysteries. ”

        Oh man really? Sigh. That’s depressing to me.

        • Karyss

          But thankfully so not true. R.J. has said in numerous publications that the tides of modern magic are probably best navigated by people of mixed descent, multiply mixed, preferably. I’ve attended a couple of his workshops as well, and he never asked anyone what their descent was. He worked with everyone to develop our skills.

    • LezlieKinyon

       You do realize that have been African-American only rituals at both Pantheacon & it’s predecessor, Ancient Ways…?

  • Fern Miller

    You really don’t believe that cis privilege exists? You don’t think that Z’s abusive words towards trans women are abuse?  You think that standing up and saying that such words are not appropriate is betraying cis women?  Fine.

    • Star Foster

       You’ve created a straw man and it’s not becoming.

      • Fern Miller

         You’re entitled to your opinion. I think that calling it a straw man is ducking a exactly the real issue. 

        • Star Foster

          I suggest you read my posts before commenting on them in the future, and please watch your language. I’ve banned people for less that what you initially posted.

      • Fern Miller

         And, fine, warn me for language.  But get bent out of shape about folks warning Z about HER language? 

        • Star Foster

          People can criticize Z all they want, but banning her for her religious beliefs is wrong, as is asking her and the women who find her rituals useful to conform.

          • Fern Miller

             I didn’t say to ban her.  I said to not INVITE her as a leader.  Again, substitute in other minorities for the one she trashes again and again – such people would NOT be invited to give rituals. She can attend like anyone else.

          • lupa

            Neither I nor anyone I know who protested (which doesn’t cover everyone) wanted to ban Z or even cis women only rituals. What I was specifically opposed to was the official insinuation that only cis women are real women. If you have a cis women ritual only do not say it is for ALL women.

          • Christine Hoff Kraemer

            Agreed. I think many people were there in protest of Z’s hateful language. 

            Thorn’s recent posts do a good job of explaining her intentions behind the protest, and I think many others were there for similar reasons. Z did issue a statement that included an apology for any hurt feelings and an affirmation of safe space for trans people. It was read to us as we sat in the hall.


          • Phoenix Rose

            Z is a bigot!

    • fffh_moderator

      I think the choice of words was inappropriate and potentially abusive.  As a male who would love to identify as anything other than a man, to be included in a group for “genetic men” would feel, personally, troubling to me despite it’s accuracy.

      But, poor word choice does not, in this case, mean that the ritual should not have happened.  Would I have preferred that it be advertised in a more socially conscious way? Yes. Would I have preferred that it be inclusive of non-cis-women? Yes.  But, just because I disagree with the presentation of the ritual doesn’t mean that I want to stop them from happening. 

      Masculinity frightens me.  Which is double problematic because it stares back at me from the mirror every morning while I shave!  I personally prefer to reduce the number of men with whom I spend my time and/or to ensure a mix gendered setting because I find it more comfortable.  I share this not to provide insight into my psyche but rather to indicate that I can understand why different spaces for different people exist — in fact why they must exist.   

      • Tara Miller21

         David, your words are very well put. Pantheacon is meant to be a place where people of many leanings can come to socialise and learn. Many different tables can be set.

      • LezlieKinyon

         That’s the thing- you see, Z. taught women to embrace our woman-ness. Our bodies, our life-giving selves. Our monthly cycles- the Amazon warrior in all of us — all of it.  All. Warts and everything.
        Please – do the same.
        There are women inthe world who love you. Who think you are beautiful. Revel in your beauty. Your strength. Your kindness. Your sensuality.
        Dance. Laugh. Be sexy.
        We’ll love you all the more for it.

  • Kristin Brayman

    Where does the line between tolerance and intolerance lie? That is really at the heart of this? It is it totally necessary to only be healed by your own biological sex? I think that this is playing into the fear and stereotypes of men all being pawns of the patriarchy and out to get women. I see it on Z’s blog – and I think her playing into this negative stereotype of men is harmful to the Pagan community as a whole. 

    That being said, I will support Pantheacon by going when I can. But, if this ritual continues to be held, I will protest it silently for the rights of all trans women to be treated like women. Because, it isn’t up to us to determine who is and who isn’t a woman. It’s up to the individual to decide what they are, and as Pagans, I believe tolerance is in embracing that, not rejecting it. 

    • Phoenix Rose

      Amen and Blessed Be!

  • fffh_moderator

    Well said.  From the first moments of this (renewed) debate I found it odd that “Unity in Diversity” was some how not allowed to be diverse enough include a group for only cis-women.  I can’t countenance people who, in the name of diversity, choose to act to end someone’s expression of what they find numinous. 

    • Desiree Arceneaux

      Does “Unity in Diversity” also include the KKK and the National Socialist Party? The opinions that Z. Budapest and like-minded radical feminist ideologues have expressed are no less virulent towards trans women than those organizations’ expressions against their chosen targets.

  • William

    The only issue I see is that Pantheacon is a public event that people PAY to attend. If I paid to go to a gaming convention and wasn’t allowed at a table because it was a private campaign, I’d be pissed and wondering why they didn’t keep their private campaign at home. I sort of see this the same way, every particular group has the right to make their own rules and the broader Pagan community doesn’t have any right to dictate to them otherwise; seeing as “Pagan” is not a single religion but a category for several religions which often differ greatly (which is why a “Pagan heresy” or “Pagan orthodoxy” doesn’t even make sense in the first place).

    My own Germanic Heathen group is very small, locally focused, and family based. We have specific things exclusive to women and specific things exclusive to men, but he majority of what we do is for the people as a whole. If we hosted something at a public event like Pantheacon we would choose to share something open and public about our traditions, not something exclusive or secret. The latter just wouldn’t make sense.

    • Star Foster

       I’m attending a conference in the spring that has events that are for men only. It is the nature of conferences to have specialized offerings.

      • Christine Hoff Kraemer

        When my trad holds events at Pantheacon for initiates only, we do it in a private room that we paid for. We’re on the schedule, but ticket sales don’t support our private events. I feel that that’s appropriate for any conference event that wants to pick and choose its attendees.

    • fffh_moderator

      Did people pay specifically for events at PantheaCon or just for the conference as a whole?  My understanding is that it’s the latter.

      • Maika

         David, Attendees do pay for entrance to the event. However there are many workshops, rituals, concerts etc at any given time. I believe there was a male only event happening at exactly the same time as Z’s ritual. If there were no other options at that time I would see this as more of a problem. There is NO physical way of attending every event at PCon. They have a variety of offerings in every time slot that were welcoming to trans-women.

    • Fern Miller


  • Laura M. LaVoie

    I have two thoughts about this that would appear to be contradictory on the surface, but I really don’t think they are when you look deeper at it.

    While Paganism is often referred to as one of the fasting growing religions, the truth is we don’t exactly have the numbers that many mainstream religions have.  For that very reason, I think that it is beneficial for Pagans to create the space for all Pagans at the Pagan table, no matter how diverse the beliefs are.  But that is to say that all people who identify as Pagan or Polytheist or otherwise similary religious should be able to come together when necessary.  There is, as they say, strength in numbers.

    At the same time, I don’t want to see Paganism become a homogenous blob.  I think there is room for Hellenics and Dianics and Wiccans and Heathens as the same table, but that doesn’t mean that the Heathens have to include Hellenic aspects to their ritual so that everyone feels included.  The Catholics don’t have to accomidate a Baptist that comes to their church. If someone goes to a Catholic church, they know what they are in for. I feel the same about a Dianic ritual.  Now, if I go to a Wiccan ritual I will graciously participate as much as I can because I feel honored to be invited and included. I do the same when I go to church with my mother in law. If there were aspects of the ritual that I am uncomfortable with, I would not attend. 

    I do think that we need to approach our religion in both ways.  Respect the diversity, welcome everyone under the big umbrella, play nice with others and allow individuals to express themselves. 

    • Fern Miller

       If Celtic Recons at a conference did a public ritual involving Finn MacCool, and said that no one of Norse worship or descent could attend (because that is what’s meant by Finn’s geas about ‘not drinking from a horn’ – he defended against, and could not associate with, the Norse – would that fly?

      • Laura M. LaVoie

        I wish it there were an easy answer.  Someone is likely to get hurt in any situation, and we should be sensitive to that – but I think we also have to be open to the fact that there are many, many ways to handle things. I don’t think someone should be a jerk about it and somethings have been handled poorly in this situation and I wish that weren’t the case.  There may have been a way to handle it that was not as hurtful. 

      • fffh_moderator

        In a word:  yes.  That doesn’t mean the people of Norse descent couldn’t complain if they wanted to, but in a more perfect world, the Norse-descended folk would shrug and say, “Clearly not for me,” and then go find something in which they are interested and in which they’re invited to participate (like drinking horns!). 

        I guess it comes down to this:  religion is a private and intensely personal thing.  Just as I wouldn’t attend a support group for people who survived child abuse (because I didn’t) or attend the meeting of the local pet bird owners (because I hate pet birds), I wouldn’t attend a ritual for cis-women because I’m not one.  But, I also wouldn’t try to shut down any of these events nor do I feel excluded by them.

        Clearly, there’s a difference between owning a bird and identifying as a woman (or man).  I see that and understand that.  I understand (intellectually and somewhat viscerally) the pain that a person feels when excluded from something when they feel that they should be included (as a transgendered person would feel when excluded from a cisgendered ritual). 

        But, I don’t think there is a way to make these sorts of things pain-free.  The only thing we can do as individuals is accept that not all things are going to be tailor made (or even mass-produced) to fit us as individuals.  There are going to be things that we can’t involve ourselves in, religious or otherwise, for either internal or external reasons.

        And, we have to begin to understand that doesn’t mean that those things should be shut down because their exclusive or because they’re not for us as individuals.  In fact, it might mean that someone out there really, really needs this event to feel whole in their own bodies, minds, souls, and spirit.  We shouldn’t be tearing that down, we should be celebrating the diversity of voices, experiences, needs, and desires within our community.

        • Shantimsc

           David that was beautiful. Thank you.

    • Themon the Bard

      Of course Paganism is the fastest-growing religion.

      All of our social metrics for growth are geometric: percentage growth. 

      I have over here religion A, which has exactly one member. In one year, he manages to make one convert. That is 100% growth in one year.

      I have over there religion B, which has 100 million members. In one year, it adds a million members. That is 1% growth in one year.

      Religion B is growing a million times faster than religion A. But the way pollsters measure things, religion A is the “fastest-growing religion” by a factor of 100.

      • Laura M. LaVoie

        Not entirely the point.  I’m not disputing that we are the fastest growing religion, but we still don’t have the numbers that mainstream faiths have. 

        • Themon the Bard

          Ah, you’re right, of course — I pulled that comment off-topic. Apologies.

  • Philip Posehn

    I myself am not sure what the answer is here. I do know that as soon as you have to start a paragraph with, “When it comes to men and trans women, Z. Budapest is a bigot. She’s pretty open about it.” you don’t have it. You are saying, in effect, “But in this case being a bigot is OK.” The false equivalency with summoning Loki in someone else’s ritual is another place where your argument looks uncomfortably familiar.
        As a group fighting for equality ourselves we can ill afford intolerance in our own ranks. I suspect the answer may be that in one’s own Circle one may invite who one wishes. At a convention other considerations must be addressed.

    • Star Foster

       I didn’t say it was ok. I said it was obvious. It’s not likely a trans woman would mistake Z for being trans-friendly.

      • Katie Berger Tremaine

        Unless she isn’t aware of the history, and unless her first experience with Z is an act of aggressive rejection.

        Unknowing, I had a copy of her “Women’s Mysteries” out of the library but hadn’t started reading it at the time she went off the handle on Anya Kless’ blog last year. I returned the book to the library the next day, feeling deeply hurt and severely depressed.

        • Star Foster

           There seems to be a pervasive idea that modern people are unable to research and Google things.

          “Women’s Mysteries” is a good book, but contains some of her bizarre theories about men.

          • Katie Berger Tremaine

            I had no reason to be specifically looking for it before that moment. As I said, I hadn’t started reading the book.

          • Lee

            Why didn’t you read the book? You got prejudiced against it without even reading it! Maybe if you had read it you could have learned something about another person’s belief and grown in understanding.

          • Katie Berger Tremaine

            I didn’t read it because as a general rule I try not to step into minefields of my own accord.

          • Phoenix Rose

            I didn’t read it because I got enough of that separatist lesbian man-hating, trans-hating, all womyn are the Goddess stuff when I was in college!  I remember at the gay/lesbian dances (this was before the days bisexual and trans were added in let alone the days of gay/straight alliance).  The “women” would put a sign up on the restroom door saying:  “If you have a penis or used to have a penis use the men’s room no matter what you are wearing.  This is Womyn’s Only space.”

            Someone should tell all trans kids that thanks to haters like Z ‘It doesn’t get better!”

    • Lee

      I see the intolerance as coming from the ones who feel entitled to crash a ritual which was NOT designed for them! This is just more of the intolerant war on women! If people really valued tolerance, they would make their own rituals instead of feeling — and expresssing — a right to work someone else did for themselves and people they relate to. There is a LOT of intolerance here, but the direction it comes from is from those who won’t accept others rights to their own space. 

      • Sarenth

        The Dianics who follow Z. have every right to their own space.  I would contend that PCon made a poor choice in giving them a space in which to discriminate when the focus was supposed to be on celebrating diversity and inclusion.  
        I personally cannot be tolerant of the intolerance that Z and her fellows show against transwomen.  I cannot be tolerant of someone who mouths “the Goddess in Her infinite forms” then proceeds to exclude transwomen who make up some of those ‘infinite forms’.  She speaks out both sides of her mouth.  Either she needs to acknowledge that her Goddess, as such, is of limited forms, or can express Herself in ‘infinite forms’, including transwomen.

        • Phoenix Rose

          Nicely said!

      • some chick

         Wow, look at you not knowing what in the world you’re mouthing off about. Good job. Transwomen are not waging a war on women. They ARE women.

  • chris the bard

    the simple fact that you have to say “cis woman” to indicate what is biologically a woman and as such a …well woman is ridiculous.  The Transexual movement in the pagan community is be absurd in this situation just as it was last year.  Complaining that the only major subculture that accepts you is not accepting enough because they want to have a ritual space for women free of male appendages is simply going to far.  The only thing that will prevent a back lash against the transexuals in this situation is the pagan communities over the top political correctness and fear of hurting some ones feelings.  I believe that were one to look over the schedule of events they would see that the vast majority of events are open to the masses with little or no restrictions.  Many groups do however have specific requirements that they believe in and wish to follow.  I would no sooner demand that a muslim eat pork with me that I would demand entry into a ritual in which I was going to be a hinderance or distraction.  It smacks of pure selfishness that some one would attempt to force their attendance on another in this way.  If transgender attendees want a ritual thats inclusive I suggest they hold one themselves, go through the planing and labor to prepare it and then hold it for who every they want to attend.  

    • Katie Berger Tremaine

      And if someone did, and it wasn’t accepted? Cons reject events ALL THE TIME that they don’t think will attract enough people, and if a minority has important work to do, too bad.

      • Star Foster

        Pcon has hosted many GLBTQI events in the past, and I can only assume they will continue to do so in the future.

        • sunfell

          OK, what does the “I” in GLBTQI stand for? I’m bumfuzzled.

          • Star Foster


    • Áine

      My understanding (and let me be abundantly clear: I WAS NOT THERE) is that it’s not so much the fact that there *was* separate space, it’s the language that was used to *define* it as separate space.  My understanding is that the ritual was listed as “honor[ing] the body of each and every woman present, the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of her infinite variety”, but then went on to specify “genetic women only”.

      That strikes me as insensitive, insulting, othering language — it pretty clearly reads to me as “anyone who isn’t XX chromosome does not fit under the umbrella term of ‘the feminine form in all of her infinite variety’.”

      • Nyktipolos

        This is where I am seeing a lot of the issue too. They keep defining women who were the only ones born with a vagina, but then go on about honouring the “diversity of the feminine form”? What the hell?

        • Lee

          Yes, the feminine form was NOT born with a penis! This is narcissism on the part of the transgender people. They feel an entitlement to other women’s work. They need to do their own; as someone else pointed out, they are alienating those who might have given them acceptance and support, but they want ALL of women’s space. And, that is wrong.

          • Raven M.

            “They” want access to ALL of women’s spaces because trans women ARE women.  What their bodies look like doesn’t change that.

          • Star Foster

             Consider yourself warned. I will not tolerate LGBTQI bashing here. There will not be a second warning.

          • Ian Phanes

             You are using ambiguous language.  “Transgender people” is an umbrella category.  No one I’ve seen has suggested that “transgender people” should be included in “women.”  The only category that is at issue here is “transwomen”.  Transwomen correctly point out that they are women, and that they were born women–even though they were born male-bodied or intersex-bodied.

            To make this concrete, I am a transperson. But I am not any kind of woman or man.  I am not personally relevant to the discussion of this specific ritual.  On the o9ther hand, I’ve known a bunch of transwomen over the years.  They are personally relevant to this discussion, because they are included in the description of the workshop “each and every woman
            present”, then excluded in the final sentence.  It is a conscious act of denying their identity and experience as women.

            I’m not arguing that Dianics should be required to include male-born-women in their rituals.  But the Dianics should stop claiming that their rituals are open to all women if they don’t mean *all* women.

      • Pamela V Jones

        And this is what is being said over and over and over on Lupa’s journal post and in the other arenas where the discussion is happening without all the rhetoric.

        It is *the phrasing* that was the issue. It was a deliberate and obvious slam in an arena where feelings were still on tight strings from last year’s mess.

        So yes – people get to define the parameters of their sacred space and the participants. Asking for a bit of compassionate phrasing and positive language descriptions seems not too big a thing in a public space such as Pantheacon.

        *also was not in attendance

  • sunfell

    What a mess- I liken it to traversing a mine-field on a pogo-stick. You might get to your destination, but there’s a great chance of getting blown up en route.

    My feelings about this whole mess are mixed. Perhaps a bit of history will clarify things.

    I was stationed in the Bay Area in the early 80s while serving in the USAF. I was in my early stages of exploring my Pagan path, and somehow came across one of Z’s Dianic groups via a science fiction convention and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s group. They were mixed in with MZB’s people in the East Bay. I had been sexually assaulted, and they- and Z’s “Holy Book Of Womens Mysteries” helped me to heal from that particular trauma. I also went through what I now call my Angry Militant Feminist stage. Mary Daly, Z Budapest and other feminist authors stoked that fire.

    My very brief  interface with the Dianic group did not end well, though. Once I got my head back and started feeling human again, I was told that my energy was ‘too masculine’ and that I was not doing myself any favors by serving in the military. I was urged to stop being a servant of ‘the patriarchy’, and urged to leave. When I chose to reenlist, I was asked to leave the group, and was shunned. I left for my next base shortly thereafter.

    I bear no ill will towards them for this action. If this is an example of fundementalist feminist sepratist orthodoxy (and to my mind, it is), they’re doing it right- even if it rubs some people wrong. Some women need separate spaces to heal, and some women choose to remain in that space.  But with 30 years of hindsight behind me, it is also clear that some get stuck in the militant zealot (patriarchy victim) stage. I outgrew it. I am no longer a victim, or even a ‘survivor’. Wisdom, experience, and genuine compassion have replaced my zealot militancy. I am a human being, soveriegn and complete. I own my life- the good things and the bad. My righteous anger of that time served to burn off the crust of hate and fear, and instead of getting stuck there, I moved on. I won.

    They have their holy places. I have the multiverse.

    • ladyimbrium

      Very eloquently and -I think- fairly put.

    • Lee

      Wow. How sanctimoneous and condescending!

    • Phoenix Rose

      I liked that!

    • Scylla (Root and Rock)

       This has been my question through all of it – if the Dianic-Budapest-Line rituals are designed to heal that hurt … why are so many seemingly still so entrenched in “patriarchy victim”?

      I wonder why no one has considered coming to this from the perspective of a Transwoman being a woman who has bled for her body over and over, bled for her spirit over and over (every busted lip, scraped knee, and worse) and comes to the circle saying “Here is the tool of that patriarchy ensouled with the spirit of your sister.” Why has that powerful healing been proclaimed “a mutilated man infiltrating our sisterhood”?

      Perhaps those are rituals that need to begin, rituals that need to be empowered with tears and heart. Not “separate but equal” – part of the same healing, if ostracized by those who I begin to think have no desire to ever heal.

  • sunfell

    A possible solution to the exclusivity problem might be to have such events run parallel to the convention, but not be officially sponsored or endorsed by the convention.

    • Ian Phanes

       I agree.   Have the sponsoring groups for such events pay the rent for the space for their activities.  However, I would want the event staff to work with the sponsoring groups to schedule space for these activities and announce them in the event program.  (Though the announcement should not be in a separate part of the program than the official activities.)

      Make it obviously available, but mark it as separate.

  • Kat Emralde

    Once again you have managed to articulate my jumbled thoughts on this topic quite eloquently.

    Thank you.

  • Vermillion

    I’m just trying to make sure I have all my facts straight so:

    - Z. Budapest put on a ritual for “genetic born women” only
    - At the same time there was a group of people holding space outside the room to protest Z’s ritual
    - Also at the same time there was a ritual put on that was open to all self-identified women

    Am I correct?  I’m just trying to have all the facts that I can (knowing that there’s only so much input I can put in as I’m on the other side of the country) so I can honestly look at the situation.

    • Star Foster

       That is correct to the best of my knowledge.

    • Star Foster

       Actually, I believe the CAYA ritual that was fully inclusive was held later in the day.

      • Vermillion

        Ahh okay. But there WAS a Dianic ritual specifically for all self identified women correct?

        Because if there was (and I still haven’t had time to fully process this and I need to get off the computer, do some deep breathing and enjoy my day off…) then I’m not quite sure I understand what the issue is. After the events of last years P*Con it seems that they have attempted to work on some of the problems that arose. There is an all-inclusive Dianic rite along with Z’s flavor of Dianic Witchcraft is there for those who may need it.

        Obviously I’m missing something as there is still all this hurt but I’m not  sure exactly what. Can someone please illuminate for me?

        • Hearth Moon Rising

          you are a rare person who asks for more information before offering your opinion

          • Vermillion

             Thanks! I figure if I’m going to have an opinion it’s best to be as informed as I possibly can :) As it is right now I have a bit more clarity as to each sides feelings but am no closer to finding a solution or even fully articulating how I feel about it. I’ll probably just back out of the conversation and observe now.

        • Lee

          The protestors want it ALL! They don’t want women to have their own space absent penises. This is more of the war on women. There is no room in their militant philosphy for women to gather without having a penis in the room! They are selfish and greedy.

          • Star Foster

             Apparently you didn’t read the comment policy.

          • Ian Phanes

            You are making obviously false statements–statements you have clear reason to know are false.*  To me, that indicates a lack of personal integrity. 

            * Unless you are ignorant enough that you don’t know that post-op
            transwomen don’t have penises.  If you are really that ignorant about
            transexuality, you shouldn’t be commenting.

          • Gwen

             Sigh….it has nothing to do with the presence of a penis…a comment I keep on seeing. Post op transwomen are equally excluded. It’s the second wave feminist belief that transwomen are mutilated men, or if you like the refusal to accept transwomen in any form as women. I think if Z said look we are doing womb or bleeding work here, it’s only open to people to whom that is directly relevent there would BE no arguement. But that’s not what she means and everyone knows it.

        • lupa

          It was because the ritual was presented for being for ALL women up until the last line which said “genetic women only”. This we seen to imply that only cisgender women are real women. This invalidation of trans women’s identities as women, identities which have been challenged often, and often violently, is what I protested there and elsewhere.

      • Cara

        This ritual was held at the same time.

        rite of the Bear mother
        The Living Temple of Diana and the CAYA Grove of Artemis
        All are welcome to this unprecedented pan-Dianic rite celebrating the spirit of the Bear: fierce, protective, nurturing, 
        and wise. Ritual leaders Yeshe Rabbit, High Priestess of the Amazon Priestess Tribe, and Devin Hunter, Head Priest of the Living 
        Temple of Diana, have collaborated in a ritual especially designed 
        to create loving community and balance for all of those who revere 
        Goddess as whole and complete unto herself. Members of both 
        groups will co-facilitate this singing, dancing, shamanic ritual with 
        focus on healing the wounds we all carry, women and men alike, as 
        the result of patriarchy and unhealthy gender dynamics

      • Yeshe Rabbit

        There was a fully-inclusive Amazon ritual earlier in the day yesterday. There was an exclusive ritual held by Z at 9, with silent protestors outside. There were also several concerned witnesses who held space between the protestors and Z/her attendees. Z issued a very raw apology for her previous language. Then she went into her ritual, the protestors remained, and I and others offered a fully inclusive Dianic ritual, also at 9 PM. Z had about 25 women at her ritual. There were about 50 protestors, to my fast scan. And there were nearly 300 people at the Rite of the Bear Mother (our inclusive ritual.) I don’t have much time to write more now, but I will try to post a very detailed account this week on my blog.

        • Star Foster

           I heard Rite of the Bear Mother was fabulous. Wish I could have been there for it! Thanks for the info!

        • Jocelyne Berengaria Houghton

          Thanks for the info – this sounds promising to me. I am heartened to hear Z issued an apology. I support Thorn’s intent for sitting in protest, and I hope that intent pervaded the protest. I am grateful that there were others holding the space. I am grateful for the work that Yeshe Rabbit (and others) has done to facilitate reconciliation, and it sounds like  the Rite of the Bear Mother was powerful magic for the benefit of the Beloved Community. As it should be.

          My fervent hope is for the healing of this wound of anger, betrayal, and division for all parties and for our community/s.

          So mote it be.

        • Crystal Blanton

          There were actually about 89 people in meditation outside of the ritual.

  •è-Bon-Oungan/100001040498735 Bozanfè Bon Oungan

    I think the point people are attempting to make is that a convention whose theme is Unity through Diversity is *expected* to be judgement free space open to all, with gathering places open to all to participate and observe ritual as well as dialogue and lectures.
    The point is that *any* group presenting a topic or ritual with built-in discrimination would raise these issues and cause just as much havoc in the community; this is actually less about Z and her obvious bigotry than it is that Z would either be invited to an event about diversity or that her inclusion would somehow be thought of as neccesary to promote the idea.

    It isnt about Z. Z has a long history of bigotry, just as she has a successful publishing career and life as her brand of Dianic Witch. NOONE is saying she should be silenced, or even that uninviting her based on her being the opposite of inclusive makes any statement about the quality or relevance of her material; only that it is not wanted at a convention to promote INclusivity.To most people the support for her leading a skyclad-genetic-female (oops, genetic WOMAN only; transmen are barred as well) rite at a convention that promotes itself as diverse/inclusive reads EXACTLY as if a convention of chefs and restauranterurs had an area where black people simply were not allowed to sit and eat, and the supporters of the event lovingly pointed out that there were areas where blacks WERE allowed to eat their meal, but that complaining about the restricted areas was interfereing with the organizers freedom of speech.

    Separate is not equal. That’s the problem here that people are speaking about.

    What I see, and am deeply disturbed by, is the same trend that has vocally abusive members of one religion declaring that it is against the teachings of their religion to tell them they cannot discriminate, incite violence, fire, or evict, members of populations their religion teaches are wrong, because their religion supposedly teaches them to behave that way towards those minorities. Witness the new Christian politics, where they should be allowed to harass gay people and to say they cannot commit hate crimes or issue hate speech is a “war on their religion”. There is no difference between that and a statement that Z’s “rights” are in anyway affected by uninviting her to future p-cons or that she shouldnt have been a presenter at this one.

    ***I have to ask, also,  why you would mention Vodou in the article above as an exclusive space? As a priest of that particular faith it really seems disingenuous to link those two…. Vodou has exact gender parity and equality, and other than a few public “bad eggs” online makes no judgement whatsoever about transgender status.

    The Vodou ritual offered was a salute to Damballah, a spirit who cannot be in the presence of many things; alcohol, smoke, and blood chief among them. If, by restriction, you mean the statement that anyone carrying around either a bleeding wound from a scratch or cut, or anyone currently on their period, should not join in in his salute (but who of course are still welcome in the room as they are a part of the community) it seems a bit strange to link that with Z or use it as an example of a group forbidding anyone entry, even if just to point the finger and say “well, THEY do it so she should be allowed as well!”. NOONE is barred from the space; that’s our point of the word community.

    • Star Foster

       Wearing white while not menstruating is a restriction, and excludes people. Those were the restrictions (clearly labeled in the program) last year. Perhaps women should protest that they should be allowed to participate while bleeding?

      Z’s brand of Dianic Witchcraft is part of Pagan diversity. Not inviting Z back is a pretty clear condemnation of cis-women-only space.

      •è-Bon-Oungan/100001040498735 Bozanfè Bon Oungan

        What changes that, though, is that people wearing white while not menstruating are still allowed in the room, allowed to observe and participate up to a point. We do not bar them entry, or exclude them. (and the language in last years program made a strong distinction between joining in the salutes as an active participant as opposed to attending, witnessing, being in the room, or joining in for the salutes to any other spirit for whom blood is not a prohibition)

        None of this is a condemnation of cis-gendered-women’s space; it is merely a statement that it does not conform to a convention devoted to unity *through* diversity. 

        I think there would also be less of a problem if it were not presented as an official part of the convention; noone would step up and say a single word against it if it were something publicly announced yet not an official convention time block (it could even be a separate flyer handed to people at registration/check in, an oh-by-the-way, there will be a rite held in the blahblahblah suite to do X, honor Y, led by Z; that wouldnt be a problem in the least because it wouldnt be the conventions stamp, it would be a guest holding a rite in their suite, which I know is something that has happened before.)

        NONE of this is at all an attack on women’s space of any kind; instead its a whole lot of questioning why divisive space needs to be set up as part of a conventions official platform?

        Lots of traditions are part of Pagan Diversity; do we offer each and every one a platform? Where are the pagan-identified Satanists in all of this?

        • Star Foster

           I think everyone should get a platform.

        • Lee

          So, Unity through Diversity, but yet protestors attack one type of religious diversity, and you think that is okay? This acceptance of diversity cuts both ways.

          • Crystal Blanton

            There was no attack.  I think that is your confusion.  It was holding a peaceful space… for Z as well.

      • Christine Hoff Kraemer

        I don’t follow your response here. As the previous commenter said, it’s not just menstruation. Neither men nor women can participate if they have a cut or other open wound (though they can attend as observers). There’s nothing gender-related about the restriction, and no misogynistic language around it. Seems like a different issue to me.

    • fffh_moderator

      You said:

      “To most people the support for her leading a skyclad-genetic-female [...] reads EXACTLY as if
      a convention of chefs and restauranterurs had an area where black
      people simply were not allowed to sit and eat, and the supporters of the
      event lovingly pointed out that there were areas where blacks WERE
      allowed to eat their meal, but that complaining about the restricted
      areas was interfereing with the organizers freedom of speech.”

      I agree with this but have one stipulation:  we cannot silence them.  I can protest, I can boycott, I can host an alternate event where the group excluded from the other is welcomed.  I can do all these things, but we cannot silence the voices that we disagree with.  To do so is the opposite of diversity. 

      Diversity requires that we are challenged.  Z’s ritual challenges us to shape (or reshape) our world view to include it.  Maybe after last year’s protests over the CAYA ritual we had hoped that we could make it through a P*Con without this sort of situation.  But, if anything, this year should show us that there are people within our community — within our family — with whom we disagree. 

      That we continue to include them in our community is the essence of diversity and, while I personally disagree with Z’s ritual and it’s exclusivity, I applaud P*Con for letting it happen.  By doing so, they actually did attempt to create Unity through Diversity.  It is the rest of us who aren’t.

      •è-Bon-Oungan/100001040498735 Bozanfè Bon Oungan

        Noone is suggesting silencing anyone; not even me. ;) 

        I may have deep seated issues with what Z has to say, and I may strongly feel that P-Con is not the place for her to say it, but *noone* has a “right” to a slot at a convention. That’s what’s going back and forth, and its really always going to boil down to the idea that when you allow someone like this in, when you have the choice to say “do it on your own time but not through a sponsored rite”, you will *always* alienate *someone*. It isnt the philosophy that’s being argued about, its the choice of stage that philosophy was given from which to speak.

  • Cora Post

    Because of the controversy
    of Z, her stance on un-equality, and exclusion of one gender (or more) while
    trying to raise the rights of a specific gender, I am very disheartened and a
    bit offended as a Polytheistic Quaker that she had named her genetic-woman only
    coven after the great Friend Susan B. Anthony.

    Everything that
    Friend Susan fought for: equality amongst the genders, no separation between
    the genders, ect. has been stripped from her by this Coven in my opinion. She
    would not have condoned Z’s stance. I feel that Friend Susan’s legacy has been
    reduced down to simply her name attached to women’s rights without fully
    knowing (nor caring to know) that she fought for those rights as part of her
    Equality Testimony which she did alongside *men*.

  • Lintlass

    Well, I’m disappointed that all the community discussion about this didn’t result in this seeming to be handled better this year.    Certainly, bringing in Z. Budapest, who took the occasion to be inflammatory last time,  and cast this in terms of ‘trans women wanting to bring penises into women’s space,’  and associate them with abuse and all that  especially in a time when there’s been a lot of transphobia in the media and politics in this country lately. …probably was not the best way to go about this. 

    I do think that yeah,  any vulva-oriented rituals are pretty reasonable to contain to people with that plumbing.  Of course,  when the real point isn’t that,  but actually about transphobic conspiracy theories,   that becomes less reasonable.   I think for transwomen,   being in that state is actually part of the pain that’s a unique thing about the trans experience,  and it may not be the best ritual practice to try and just ignore that,  to begin with. 

    Nor, well,  has it ever seemed the best way for transpeople to actually *try* getting into ‘ciswomens space’  (whatever one thinks of *that,*  …particularly as pre-operative people,   (especially when most transwomen I’ve known  know who are pre-operative really are far from interested in people seeing that condition.)    Some of the worst damage to trans peoples’ lives is *done*  by the hate-propaganda associating transwomen with some nightmare of assaults that don’t actually happen.   I think protesting the hate speech is one thing,  actually in any way being cast as actually intruding or obstructing someone else’s freedom is something people should at least be careful of. 

    As I think modern feminists and trans people alike realize these days,  is that transphobia is rooted in and actually is an expression of the same misogyny that has resulted in massive assaults on the lives of cis and trans,   and the divisions that this kind of conflict can bring within our own communities sure don’t help there.  

    It seems to me from here, that the extremes on each side are really at cross-purposes even what the dispute is about:  Z Budapest’s trying to use this to support an anti-trans agenda in general,   and some transpeople (maybe just one)  are apparently about acceptance depsite the physical state of transition,  and now it’s become all about whether trans people are to be excluded always or never…   And all that involves. 

    I’m pretty used to celebrating with a *ton* of gender-diversity and generally a pretty high degree of comfort with that.  (I certainly bring myself just by being there)  and I often wonder how things really don’t seem to go so smoothly elsewhere.    I sure do think part of that is where some people think binary gender is one of their few absolutes,   especially if they’ve built a life around some ‘battle of the sexes. ‘

    I think right now what the Pagan community needs most is a strong *alliance* between the sexes.   All of em.  :) 

  • Nicole Youngman

    I really wish I hadn’t had to read all the way to the end of the comments that have been posted thus far in order to have some idea of what *actually happened.* I can’t follow the commentary and discussion if I don’t know wtf people are arguing about. Could I respectfully request that a little ordinary reporting preface the commentary when this kind of thing happens so that readers like me aren’t all befuddled as to what the issues are?

    • Star Foster

       Lupa’s post gives the basic info. There aren’t any PNC reports yet.

      • Crystal Blanton

        A PNC report for Bay Area is now up… the first of more to come.

  • Silver Layna

    Trying to take people’s religious rights away from them is what we generally experience from monotheistic traditions, and it’s disheartening to see it in our own community.”  
      This excerpt from the above article along with the concept of  TOLERANCE that you also speak very well about is really the beating heart or central focus here.  Which is not just something I strongly agree with you on but also what I hope people who read this will pay attention to and learn from.  
      Tolerance is something I talk about and write about quite a lot.  Most of the time I feel as if I am beating my head against a brick wall because for some reason, one can Never really seem to drive this point and the true or full importance of it into the spotlight which it belongs.  
      There are countless people who I do Not agree with when it comes to their religious, cultural and other beliefs or opinions.  However, I enjoy trying to understand them and why they believe what they do.  Obviously, there are ideas and beliefs that no matter how much effort, research or thought I invest, I still do not agree or understand.  That is when logic takes over and I ask myself if any laws are being broken or if anyone is being harmed in any physical or truly damaging way.  
      Since the moment I dedicated myself to my own personal path, I have always been proud to call myself and to be called a Pagan.  I’ve always felt Pagans are extremely diverse as far as what we believe and the paths we follow, but unified in a truly unique way-like no others.  Specifically because of our differences and vast individual paths or traditions we follow, as well as our history.  “Pagans are nothing if not Tolerant!”  I have argued or tried to explain.
      This “controversy” everyone is talking about is truly saddening and painful.  The vultures are here to pick apart every word anyone has to say and every detail which transpired.  As a community we should be helping and yes, even defending  them.  We do Not all have to agree  with each others’ rituals, spells, gods/goddesses, initiations/dedications, etc.  We should, however, support and encourage one another.  If someone feels they need a specific type of ritual, shouldn’t we try to understand it, as opposed to judging it?  The question is obviously rhetorical but the simple answer is yes.  We can not loose our common sense or throw logic to the side.  “Knowledge is power”, so is thought.     I’ve gone on for too long, but I hope my peers can try to understand and to see the bigger picture here-We are a Tolerant and very inclusive religion and these 2 qualities make us beautiful and set an example to outsiders and onlookers.  We can not afford to allow those qualities to fall by the wayside and not speak up or step in.    – Thank you Star for your article and thank you for bringing attention to Tolerance and believing in the fight for the rights of others, even when you do not agree with them. <3

  • My Own Ashram

    Well said. I wasn’t present last year or this year, so I feel like all my thoughts are made up of second and third -hand information. My gut reaction is, having attended PCon twice in the past, that there are numerous places for everyone. I would never choose to attend a Dianic rite, because, as many people have pointed out, I feel that’s more appropriate on a private level. I think she should be able to have her rite. I think Thorn’s silent meditation protest is a great way to get across a disapproving point. I’d likely join in that, as I think Budapest’s record on gender issues is problematic in the extreme.

    That said, PCon is a gift to the wider Pagan community. It’s also a microcosm of our larger picture. Dianics, Feri, Druids, Hermetic magicians, party pagans, and even Hindu-Pagan relationships…. one can see all these and more! PCon gets me *excite* about wider Pagan community. It also highlights difficulties that we have, and trans issues are an important and unresolved one. The only way forward is through. The only way to come to a place of greater trans acceptance is to keep discussing this. But I agree with you, that taking away some one else’s rights isn’t the way. And yet… If I were in charge of PCon I’d probably not ask Budapest back.

  • kenneth

       This issue has nothing to do with “religious freedom” as far as I’m concerned. There is no state entity proposing to restrict anyone’s beliefs or practice in any way. It is not about heresy. There is no one here, certainly not me, who proposes to act as a synod of bishops or magisterium claiming to have the one true interpretation of scripture or the gods will.
        This is pluralism and the marketplace of ideas doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. The “genetic women” only Dianics are free to practice, and to put their ideas out there. I will always defend that. 
        That puts me under no obligation whatever to give my approval to it or underwrite it in any way. It is my judgement that their practice on this issue comes from a place of ignorance and bigotry, whether or not they express good intentions about it.  It is morally and ethically offensive to me.
        Tolerance means they’re entitled to their table in the idea marketplace. They are not entitled to a place at my table, nor am I bound to keep silent and pretend “It’s all good” or to participate in events which give a platform for such things.  I will not attend any such conference where my presence would send a signal of acceptance of what they’re doing. I especially won’t go because some portion of my fees would no doubt help finance an ideology which is repugnant to me, and which I believe does real harm in the world. 
        Now, the conference organizers can certainly weigh that statement for what it’s worth, coming from a guy who has not attended the conference so far, but who has the time and money to do so lately. The marketplace of ideas means they can decide it’s more lucrative to keep the cis-only folks or that they wish to do so on their own principles. They’re free to tell me and the rest of us to go scratch, and that’s all part of the game. 
       I will argue there is a critical distinction to be made between “tolerance” and “heresy” or enforcement of orthodoxy.  The latter is about trying to stamp out “wrong belief” wherever it is found.  Tolerance holds sacred the right to hold, and to express “wrong beliefs” or more correctly, unpopular ones. It creates no entitlement to popularity or approval of those beliefs. None of the improvements most of us recognize as justice in this country could have happened without this distinction. Racism, homophobia, etc. remain legal, and continue to be held as beliefs by many in this country. A great majority of us have come to a place where we say “we’re not buying it. Take it someplace else.” 
        The American understanding of tolerance is working exactly as it should in this case. 

  • Tasha Rose

    I know and love a number of Transgendered Women, however, not having bled is the very reason I do not allow my pre-pubescent daughter to attend first moon rites that she has been invited to. She doesn’t know the mystery. When she does, then she will be joyfully permitted to attend…
    As an adult woman who bleeds and bears children, I have been in women’s rituals with Trans Women- rituals I have enjoyed. I was a part of a WONDERFUL women’s ritual at Sacred Harvest Festival last year. It was one of the more moving women’s rituals I have taken part in. There were Trans Sisters there. That is the type of ritual that I would expect them to have innate knowledge of women’s mysteries. They have a woman’s perspective like no other woman does and certainly like no man does. They have the pain of not one, but two minority groups to account for in rituals like what I was a part of. In that context I am so appreciative of their wisdom.
    I have a personal preference for being in certain women’s rites with only women who have bled. I do not think it makes me a bigot, or anyone else a bigot to want to be in a Moon Rite or a Dianic Rite (I am not Dianic FWIW) with exclusively women who have known the power of blood coming from their womb. It is simply preference…an ability to relate to something I know another woman has experienced.
    Trans Women are not less of a woman by any stretch. I cannot imagine the struggles these women have daily pre and post-op. I cannot reasonably begrudge them of their identity as a woman. What I can do though, is practice how I feel Spirit has led me, and in most cases in women’s mysteries, that is with women who know first hand the cycles and seasons of a woman’s life and body from menarch to menopause.

    • Phoenix

      What about pre-pubescent girls who’ve had hysterectomys because of cancer.  Or single X or XXX chromosome girls whose menstrual cycle will never start.  Should they be kept from first moon rites?

    • Changowoman

      I support the idea of cis-women only rituals where it’s actually relevant, as when the ritual specifically focuses on the menstrual cycle. But the ritual here wasn’t involving moon rites. It was stated in the program as a celebration of “each and every woman,” and of “the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of her infinite variety.” That then said only some women were part of this variety. That is dismissing trans women as women.

      What bothers me was the wording here, and the fact that someone who has so publicly attacked trans women is being given a platform for bigotry pure and simple.

  • MrsBs Confessions

    I admit to having very mixed feelings on this issue.  Where is the line between religious freedom and hate/bigotry/exclusion?  Or is there not one at all?  

    For the most part, as long as people are working with consenting adults, I don’t much care what they do as a private group.  On the other hand, people who pay the same price as the next person to go to an event, should (in my opinion) be able to go to any event that’s included in that ticket price.

    The difference between being excluded from one thing because you aren’t on a high enough educational level, or aren’t in the right “trad” or what-not, is that you can come back next year and after studying, initiating, etc., participate when you reach that level. 

    Transgendered folks will never be able to reach “genetically female” only.  It’s not about religion to me, it’s about exclusionary practices based on a physical characteristic.  

    I’m not sure that belongs at a public conference, but I’m definitely trying to be open to both sides of the argument.

    • Star Foster

       If you attend a GLBTQI conference with a lot of programming, do you protest that cis-gender women aren’t welcome in the gay men’s ritual?

      • kenneth

        A better analogy to what really went on here would be a gay men’s ritual that turned away some gay men who they felt weren’t “gay enough” by some arbitrary and un-scientific criteria they made up. Or a ritual open only to Northern Trad men or women who turned away those who were deemed “not genetically full-blooded Aryan.” Not all distinctions and exclusive rituals are equal, by any means. 

        • Phoenix Rose

          Somebody should tell these Northern Tradition racists that there is no such thing as genetically pure and on top of that the Germanic peoples are Teutonic not Aryan.  The modern day Aryans are the Persians and Pakistanis and some Indians.

          • kenneth

            We do tell them stuff like that when they come around, but I find that dudes with “racial holy war” tattoos aren’t always big on the whole reasoned argument thing. Still, it might be funny to tell them that the Aryan pride movement has been outsourced to Mumbai! :)

          • Phoenix Rose


      • MrsBs Confessions

        Well, I’d have to ask why they weren’t welcome.  Because they hate genetic women who consider themselves to be gay men?  Then, yes, I would consider protesting it being a part of the conference.

        • kenneth

             I don’t think it’s “hate” in the aggressive sense of the word. My read of the matter is not that Budapest and like Dianic hate trans-women in the sense that they want to go after them and actively persecute them.
              I don’t know what’s in their hearts of course, but my sense is that they simply believe trans-women are not “real women” at some level, and thus have no place in a woman’s circle. They seem to believe that trans-women are just basically gay or confused men trying to climb the wall into women’s space out of political correctness or kink or malice or some other illegitimate reason.
              Those assumptions are rooted in ignorance of everything that is known about the medical, psychological, and I would argue, metaphysical nature of trans-genderism. 
              Their criteria also belies an appalling ignorance of how genetics and gender intersect, or sometimes do not.  We have no proof that Budapest or anyone else in her circle is, in fact a “genetic female”. They may have been “born women” and have all of the blood chemistries and secondary physical characteristics of women, but any one of them could be walking around with a “Y” chromosome in some or even all of their cells, a chromosome that simply failed to activate. 
              Rare? Yes, but it happens, and it is one of a huge variety of genetic conditions that make genes a very inconclusive determinant of gender. There are men with two “X” chromosomes because “Y” genes were transposed into an X chromosome. There is a staggering variety of conditions in which hormonal abnormalities lead people’s bodies and minds to develop in very different directions from their genetic gender. 
             At the end of it all, the notion that external genitalia or even genes can be used as accurate determinative or exclusive criteria for gender is no more scientific than the people who used to measure body and facial dimensions and skin color to qualify or disqualify someone from belonging to the “white race.”  

          • Phoenix Rose

             Thank you for your post Kenneth!

          • Katie Berger Tremaine

            It doesn’t even have to be a knowledge of science. You have two choices, really: You can honor someone’s identity and lived experience, or you can dishonor them. Unfortunately, most people choose to dishonor trans identities and experiences, or at least not care enough to stand up for them.

    • Phoenix

      What about fully functioning genetic hermaphrodites who escapted surgical gender assignment as children.  XXY or some other combination.  They are genetically both male and female.  I think they would freek Z out!

      • Desiree Arceneaux

        *raises hand* 

        XXY girl here, and just as excluded by transphobic bigots such as Z. Budapest as any other girl with “male-like” OEM equipment.

  • A.

    I don’t love Z or her bigotry, but  she still has the RIGHT to lead in HER way.  If I attended one of her rituals, I would be doing so knowing she is not friendly to a community I am very close to, but dang it, she doesn’t HAVE to be.  The fact is, it’s her way or the highway and there’s nothing wrong, no matter how much I disagree, with a witch running her circles in her own way. To quote the worst movie ever:  Fair is Fair! lol

    • kenneth

      She of course has the right to lead or speak as she sees fit.  That doesn’t mean we have to give her our approval or help finance a platform for that at a public event. 

      • A.

        I agree.  She’s entitled to her practice, but I wouldn’t shell out money for it.   

  • Ann Groa Sheffield

    Though I am troubled and saddened both by Z Budapest’s decision to exclude trans women and also by the language she chose to describe the ritual, I cannot see her rite as different in kind from a ritual that includes trans women but excludes men. The principal that all such rituals seems to be based on is the idea that people of a given sex/gender have common experiences/needs that cannot be understood by or shared with those outside the group. If that principal is accepted, then limiting a rite to all women, or all men, or XY men, or women who have menstruated, or women who have given vaginal birth, all seem to me to be applying the same principal. 

    I think that a gathering like Pantheacon has the right and responsibility to let attendees and presenters know whether sex/gender limited rituals are permitted, but it is then up to individuals to chose whether to attend the gathering.

    • Katie Berger Tremaine

      Why can’t you see a difference between “All women” and “All women EXCEPT YOU”?

      • Ann Groa Sheffield

        Because single-sex rituals look to me like “all people EXCEPT YOU.”

        • LezlieKinyon

           You know, that has happened over other things: All women who have gone through “the change”. All women who have had children; all women who have lost children; teen women; little girls; Faerie Trad women; English trad women; women activists…   There was a workshop for men only. A workshop for gay men only; a workshop for gender-bending; and on on and on and on and on… nobody called the leaders bigots.
          That’s a hugely charged word.
          Or people whop used the other “b” word.
          - jus’ saying’.

  • Themon the Bard

    Wow. Hot tempers all around.

    Disclaimer: I’m a guy — ordinary, X-Y, male phenotype, heterosexual. I would not have been welcome at Z’s rite under any conditions, and I understand and accept that. No biggie.

    I’d like to gently suggest that there’s something to be learned from that reaction. Because the CIS-women and non-CIS-women can split hairs all week long, *I* would have been flat-out excluded. “Discriminated against,” if I wanted to employ hostile, divisive language, but I’d really rather not. I actually understand completely, and would not even want to intrude on Z’s rite.

    In 2002 a small group of us guys put together a men’s drumming group, and it was explicitly men-only. This was partly to fill a vacuum in a local Pagan community that had many women-only events, but mostly because the energy of an all-male group changes radically as soon as even one woman appears. I assume (and have been told) that the same thing happens when women gather and even one man enters the space — I wouldn’t know, myself, for obvious reasons.

    I come from a tradition (Druidry) that honors men and women pretty even-handedly (if you exclude the all-male fraternal Druidry of the 18th and 19th centuries, which was actually a Christian social organization), and most circles I drum with are open to anyone who can keep a beat (and even some who can’t), male, female, or other. But the energy difference between a men’s group and a gender-open group is pronounced, and there is simply no way to create the all-male energy without excluding women.

    Where this crosses a line is when collusion and loyalty bleeds over from the discriminatory association into civic life. For instance, if we guys started discussing our Druidic group policies at our men-only drum circles and reaching agreement without consulting women in our group, it would cause difficulties. Since our group works on a consensus basis, it wouldn’t be a complete betrayal of the women, but at the very least, we’d have to accurately rehash all our individual discussions from the all-male circle within the mixed circle, which would be a huge waste of our valuable drumming time. So we don’t do that. Nor do we carry over some kind of “guy solidarity” to our Druid group, because we have a basic respect for the women in our group.

    The extreme examples of collusion, which some have alluded to above, are issues like “male privilege” in our general society, or “white privilege.” The issue isn’t that whites tend to associate with whites, and blacks with blacks. The issue is that whites make decisions that affect blacks without consulting them, or taking the blacks’ own right to self-determination into account. Men make decisions for women without consultation or even empathy. These decisions are then binding upon the disenfranchised through policy and law, and the privilege becomes self-perpetuating.

    So my question is this: does Z’s ritual group make decisions — within their closed ritual space — that are in any way binding on the Pantheacon community as a whole? Do they form a closed leadership clique or club that makes binding decisions on the entire community? Is their voluntary association bleeding over into the civic life of the gathering?

    If so, I’d like to suggest that this is perhaps inappropriate, and that Z. should consider separating this out of her ritual space and making the decision-making process more transparent and accessible to the general community.

    From what I’ve read here, however, this is not at all the case. This is a “drumming circle” for CIS-females only. In which case, my sympathies lie with Z. Even though she has explicitly excluded me from her circle. :-)

    • kenneth

      You’ve outlined a perfect example of how exclusive rituals can be done in a healthy and respectful way. You created a men-only space to work on male mysteries. It wasn’t about declaring women inferior or creating a platform for male dominance. Here’s where what you did differs from the cis-only ritual in a critical way: You created a ritual space for men only. You didn’t (I’m guessing), impose some additional arbitrary screening to let in only men you felt were “man enough”.  I will also guess you didn’t force participants to drop their drawers or otherwise prove their genetic male pedigrees. If someone known to you as a man, who looked like a man and projected male energy came, you admitted them, from the sounds of it. 

      • Valerie

         They probably didn’t drop their pants to prove anything, but if it were a ritual where no one wore clothing, it might be different if someone who was assumed to be male with clothes obviously wasn’t without. It would probably change things for the men who expected only men to be there.  I see both sides of the issue, and I disagree with the way Z announced the ritual. It was wrong and hurtful, I think. However, I wouldn’t object to a ritual that included only women who were born male. I would be excluded, my (currently) brother would be allowed to go.  I’m not trying to change your mind, Kenneth, just offer my viewpoint.

      • Themon the Bard

        Well, yes, we didn’t create finer distinctions. But I’m not sure that is such a critical difference as you make out.

        For one thing, Z.’s rite (if I read correctly) was skyclad, and our rites aren’t. So she’s going to get some automatic “proof” of certain things whether anyone wants it or not, because her participants WILL be “dropping their drawers” as part of the rite. Furthermore, this was supposedly a rite in celebration of the female form (if I read correctly,) and any transgendered woman who hasn’t completed the full hormone and surgical process is going to completely mess that up from the first moment of disrobing.

        Unless we expected men to drum with their penises (ouch!), it isn’t really relevant to us. If it were, we wouldn’t hesitate to add that qualification.

        • kenneth

          I don’t believe for a second that their “skyclad” requirement was a coincidence rooted primarily in ritual and magickal considerations. It was a visual inspection of people’s bits to enforce their notions of who is “woman enough.” The absurdity is compounded by the fact that it won’t catch all transgender women by any means, only those who happen to be at an earlier stage of their transition. 

          • RitualGuest

            I attended her skyclad ritual last year, and it has nothing to do with visual inspection. It is skyclad because you gaze upon your naked body in a mirror and celebrate it in a safe space. So, yes, it does have ritual and magical consideration.

          • LezlieKinyon

             Her rituals are often skyclad.  There is a reason for it – but, letting Dianics speak for themselves is also a Good Idea.

        • Jason Hatter

           The problem with what you are saying, however, is that Z’s right specifically excluded transgendered women who had completed the full hormone and surgical process.

          It was a “genetic” requirement that they were insisting on.

          • Desiree Arceneaux

            I would say “pseudo-genetic”, since they did not actually check anyone’s genetics. 

  • Katie Berger Tremaine

    Do people have the right to protest actions and words that harm them?

    If so, then trans women and trans allies have the right to protest Z Budapest.
    If not, then what exactly are we doing here?

    Freedom of religion, like freedom of speech, does not mean freedom from consequences.

  • nothing

    I know this will probably seem too simplistic…but can we just live and let live? Different people different view points…it’s what makes the world an interesting place…but we have to go back to the very basics of treating people as we want to be treated. Peace

  • Marienne Hartwood

    I think it is pretty ironic that there’s several other events that have attendance requirements that aren’t being protested. Looking over the schedule, I see 20+ events that have restrictions about who may or may not attend and/or participate for various reasons, and  yet this one workshop seems to be the only one getting criticism. Looking at the cost for the event, I think that even if you were unable to attend any of those 20+ restricted events, you’re still getting a pretty profound bargain for the myriad other events that are open to anyone (except maybe people on PST who get locked out of the room or can’t fit in for space considerations).

    For me, there’s a time and a place to protest. If you don’t like a particular workshop being offered, then write to the program committee to let them know about your dissatisfaction. Better yet, volunteer to teach a workshop! Or, if you’re not feeling all that willing or able to take that leap, design and wear some flair for the event and hand it out to whoever wants some. (It isn’t like ribbons are a forbidden thing at that event!)  But being disruptive to an event is something we wouldn’t tolerate from “outsiders”, so is it really appropriate to do be a disruptive guest within someone’s “house”? Based on the description of the opening ritual, the entire hotel is set aside as sacred space. Is it appropriate to carry out a protest of some kind within sacred space?

    There are many reasons why a particular person or group might conduct an event where they restrict attendance. From the color of clothing people should wear to gender or sexual orientation issues to age restrictions to tribal or initiatory requirements to organizational/prerequisite requirements to personal conduct/sobriety concerns, as long as the event is clear what the requirements/restrictions of an event are and enforce them uniformly, I don’t see a problem. It isn’t like you’ll run out of things to do there, after all.

    And if someone truly feels so offended by a person in attendance and/or what a person or people profess, then there’s nothing wrong with the offended person explaining why they won’t be attending and starting their own event in the future. But like I said, there’s a time and place for everything–and the time and place for protest isn’t in sacred space, IMO.

    • Áine

      I don’t see anything wrong with protesting in sacred space, but I see all the Earth as sacred space, so it stands to reason.

      If the issue with the protest is that it was conducted within sacred space, do you believe that attendees should refrain from tweeting, blogging and otherwise engaging with the “mundane” world whilst so engaged?

      I’ve not been to PantheaCon, do the attendees stay on-site within the ritual space from start to finish?  If not, are there Warders for entry and exit?

      • Star Foster

         Pcon is held in a huge conference hotel with multiple ritual, music, vendor and presentation rooms.

      • Marienne Hartwood

         In my view, tweeting, blogging, and so on are sacred acts in their own right, so I guess that would be a moot point for my mindset. ;) Although it is ideal to stay in the hotel, the hotel is far too small to hold the number of people who attend, so many people opt or have to stay offsite. Having been to festivals that do the whole “this entire place is sacred space”, the way sacred space is constructed, the barriers are semi-permeable such that people can wander in and out without causing disruption to the sacredness of the work being done inside at any given time. There are people working on-site that help facilitate the physical security of the site, the logistics/operations side of things, and the energetic side of the event (plus many other volunteer roles for different requirements).

        • veracityweatherwax

          …and don’t forget, not every guest in the hotel is a P’con attendee. so what is sacred space to us might just be a hotel to them.

    • kenneth

      I don’t think protesting and respecting someone’s ritual space are mutually exclusive. I wouldn’t want to see anyone physically or verbally disrputing Z’s ritual space or workshop. However, it is perfectly fair game for people to gather somewhere within close proximity outside of that and raise awareness of the issue and to make their position known. 

      • Marienne Hartwood

         I would have been more cool with the idea if the people opting to protest had gone to the event coordinators before the event (i.e., when the schedule was originally posted) and said “Hey, we’re not cool with this, so we want to protest outside the ritual”. At that point, some discussion could have been had with all concerned parties to find a way to be respectful of everyone involved. Blindsiding overworked volunteers on the day of an event with something that, whether intentional or not, will produce drama for quite some time isn’t polite in my view. It also opens up a sticky wicket…what would be “acceptable protesting”. Should a WBC-lite group be allowed to stand outside of ritual rooms with signs saying all pagans are going to hell (or with graphic pictures of mutilated fetuses saying that witches are the same thing as abortionists–something I’ve seen come up a few times)? Are people allowed to do human microphone Occupy-style protests that are disruptive enough that Pcon isn’t welcome back to the hotel in future years? Are people allowed to pass out Chick tracts or try to hand out bibles to people in attendance? If there’s a desire for this event to become one where every workshop, ritual, and vendor has the potential to draw a protest crowd, then there does need to be some discussion *before* the event about how to accommodate this within the bounds of common decency. Knowing how hard volunteers work for little more than lukewarm praise and, more often than not, heaps of criticism, I just feel it is improper to organize something like this to blindside the people who work very hard to try and maintain a safe and quality event. Hopefully when people calm down, just as it was recognized that communication was a problem last year, and appropriate apologies were presented that those involved this year will recognize that politeness was lacking (and probably on all sides involved by the time this is buried), apologies could be presented, and then dialogue could come about on what the rules of polite protest should be for all people who want to protest anything at the event going forward. This, of course, would be done with the knowledge that the more protest is permitted and/or encouraged, the less likely the event will continue for the future… but them’s the breaks, right?

        • kenneth

          First of all, I will concede that I do not know exactly what went down with how protests disrupted the ritual or not. If it did, it should not have.  
             At the same time, ritual organizers cannot reasonably claim to have been blindsided by anything. This issue has been a hot one since last time this year. They have had a full year to engage the issue proactively. If they did not, they have no one to blame for themselves when events overtake them.  I still think people can and should hold effective protests that are non-disruptive. 
              At a bare minimum, anyone, yes even the Westboro Baptists, have a right to demonstrate on public property – ie the sidewalks outside of hotel.  Not all demonstrations even have to be linked to the time and place of the event itself. I would have focused most of my effort at the conference on education and raising awareness. Staff a table and hand out literature and maybe do a workshop on why I don’t think trans-gender exclusion is cool. 
             Yes, communication was an issue last year, but it is not the underlying issue. 

          • Marienne Hartwood

             Last year, the concern was that the ritual did not clearly identify in the program what exclusions were requested by the ritual hosts, so some people came to the door and were turned away. The complaint was that it should have been very clearly stated who was welcome and who was not welcome to attend this rite. So, the coordinators took that feedback into account and very clearly put it in the program guide (which was available online before the event started). They went one step further to have a second event with the same types of ritual themes that was an open and inclusive event. If I were a coordinator, I would have thought that because I gave the people who complained (and rightfully so, IMO) exactly what they asked for and then went one step beyond, that there wouldn’t be a problem this year. If there’s a greater issue at the core, and I’ve seen several variations about what the core issue is (whether it is that all events should be open to all people or whether Z. simply is a persona non grata and should not be allowed to present, or depending on who you ask, participate in Pcon), so I do think that the core still is a communication issue–from both sides expressing what they really want and finding some way to try and either make both sides pleased with a compromise or saying “this is the way this event is, and if you don’t like it, we’ll miss you at future events should you decide to go elsewhere”. But I absolutely agree with you that workshops, literature, and the like would have been a very reasonable response. Although I wouldn’t have attended Z.’s ritual because it’s not my thing, I might have attended a workshop on something like “Understanding trans-gender spirituality for the cis-person”. Obviously I’m not qualified to teach it, but if anyone reading this want to put in a proposal for any event out there and want to pick my brain about the kind of things I’d like to find out about, I’m more than happy to give my input!

          • kenneth

            Here’s why communication can mitigate, but not solve the underlying issue. Yes, it’s good that people knew what to expect going in this year. It’s also good that there were efforts made to make sure trans-women had access to their own events. 
               At the same time, “separate but equal” does not fix injustice. The example of the Civil Right fight in the 1960s illustrates what I mean. Black folks did not fight segregated diners and schools on practical considerations alone. It’s not like they couldn’t find someone to feed them or someplace to send their kids for an education. They fought because the rules barring them from so many places made them second-class citizens in their own country. Nor did they protest because of a lack of communication. Everybody knew the rules, written and unwritten, of how Jim Crow worked. There were no surprises for those willing to go along to get along.
                Whites who marched with them certainly didn’t do so out of practical considerations. They could eat or go to school wherever they wanted, and almost always got better quality. They joined the movement on principle, because they looked at the situation and said “this sucks, this isn’t what we’re about as a people.” 
               So it is with this event. Z will follow her beliefs, the rest of us will stand by our principles. The organizers will have to make a financial and moral decision on how those things can or cannot mutually exist at their event. 

          • Marienne Hartwood

             In the end, the solutions that largely are being suggested are either separate but equal on either side (either having two rituals for essentially the same energetic purpose running at the same time or, as has been suggested in some of the comments, that Z. should move her event to an off-site location in perhaps what would better be described as “separate but unequal”) or sweep the whole thing under the rug (with the suggestion being that if Z. wasn’t around, then this issue would somehow disappear). Is the best solution to make it so that no gender-based events are permitted? So no men’s mysteries, no women’s mysteries, no trans-gendered individual’s mysteries, and so on? IMO, when events get as big as Pantheacon, there will always be a source of drama on the hydra that is event coordination. You won’t be able to please everyone, and so the best you do is try and be up-front and honest about what the event does and does not provide and let people make informed decisions. And even though this event is a well-established one, it is still a work in progress–as are the people who run it and the people who attend it. As long as channels for dialogue are open and kept respectful, I have faith that, even though there will be some form of drama every single year, it still will remain a worthwhile event and the benchmark by which other similar conferences peg their standard.

            Thanks for the awesome input, and especially thanks for providing level-headed conversation on a topic that has such potential to be full of emotional pitfalls. :)

          • LezlieKinyon

             There will be such a workshop _I hear _ at the September Pagan-Studies conf. that Pagan Alliance puts on in San Francisco.  If you are here then, it sounds like it’ll be a great conf. to attend. I went last year and enjoyed it very much & hope to present something this year with my ritual performance group.

          • Marienne Hartwood

             Alas, I’m an east coaster who hates flying, so the number of trips I’m willing to make to the west coast in a year are limited (and now moreso thanks to the blessing of a toddler), but thanks for the invite…and if you’re on the east coast at all this year, shameless plug for events like Sacred Space Conference (Maryland) and Between the Worlds (Delaware). :)

          • LezlieKinyon

            Hi Marienne – Would love to attend- and, I really love travel & flying (Or, I used to, before homeland security…) Unfortunately, my conference funds are non-existent this year… Lezlie

    • Ian Phanes

       Marienne asked:
      Is it appropriate to carry out a protest of some kind within sacred space?

      In ancient Ireland, protest was understood as sacred action.  For many modern pagans, it is sacred action.  From that understanding, it is impossible to carry out appropriate protest except within sacred space.  If you read Thorn’s posts,  it is clear that her action (which she is not comfortable describing as protest) was clearly sacred action in sacred space.

      I think a more valid question is: 
      Is it appropriate to carry out a protest in a way that damages others’ sacred space?

      I am convinced that it is inappropriate to damage others’ sacred space, unless the actions in the sacred space are an actual danger to the participants or others.  (As an extreme example, kidnapping and torturing someone for religious reasons shouldn’t protect them from being shut down by the cops.)  Thorn has made it clear that she did not intend to make it difficult for participants to attend Z.’s ritual, but that was an unintended consequence that she regrets.

  • Silver Layna

      I do wish people were talking more about the “bigger picture” here.  I completely disagree at the notion that somehow Tolerance IS working exactly as it should.  Just from being an observer, I can see that, that is Not the case. (Especially when referring to the entire country.)   

        Although, I have enjoyed reading the dialogue that is taking place, seeing where people stand and some of the realizations people have come to.  I enjoy honest and heartfelt discussions and messages.  
        I will say despite any of my personal opinions I am very happy and comforted by the fact that we all seem to agree about the rights of the LGBTQI community and quickly defend them.  It helps me maintain hope that someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, our world will change.  There will still be  haters, but their voices not nearly as loud nor will they be in charge because, people will be tired of hearing their hatred.  Until then, we must continue to fight.

  • Hearth Moon Rising

    I think it was incredibly brave to post this and brave to the point of recklessness, perhaps, to allow comments, based on the heatedness on the blogosphere about this over the weekend.  I would take issue with a few points here, but I won’t because there’s so much heat around this anyway.  I will be talking with a friend or two who was at the conference before deciding whether to weigh in at this time.

    • Star Foster

       Nothing brave about allowing comments. I have something to say, and it’s only fair that I listen as well. Besides, comments are the real life of any blog.

  • Pythia Theocritos

    In the words of my mother “Go on with your bad self.” I have to admit, my eyes rolled pretty far into the back of my head when this  “news” hit the airwaves. Here in Washington D.C. a young, black, transwoman was killed at a bus stop and not a single peep was heard across the pagan blogosphere. 

    Wrong race. Wrong circumstances. Were were the armchair revolutionaries? The cries  of passion against violence? This atrocity happened this month in the capital of the United States to the horror of the local LGBT community. Crickets. Oh, I’m sorry- Crystal Cupcake Crickets.

    This sounds like nothing more than a publicity stunt. The wild, foaming, hysteria of a doped up populace that gets high off of oppression porn. There are far better ways for this to be handled, there is far more that can be, proactively and productively, done.  I support you in this fray you’ve cast yourself into, because it’s dangerous to go against the majority; especially a hopped up liberal majority fueled by false morality they’ll quickly “forget” in about 2 months.

    Stand strong through this. If someone defriended you for daring to think differently, or even rationally, in the spirit of TRUE American liberty. F*ck them. F*ck them and the plastic broomstick they rode in on.

    • LezlieKinyon

       “Here in Washington D.C. a young, black, transwoman was killed at a bus
      stop and not a single peep was heard across the pagan blogosphere.” 

      Speaking as a Pagan blogger- I didn’t say anything about this because I didn’t know about it.  Of course- my blog tend to be about cooking and art and thus, is probably irrelevant to the crime committed.  I don’t tend to get a lot of news out here in “the provenances” from Wash DC that isn’t some (supremely idiotic) thing that Congress is doing.

      Actually, unless she was a Pagan killed for her spirituality, I probably wouldn’t say anything on my blog, elsewhere, but  not there …  horrible as it was.

      You have my deepest empathy, every time a human being is harmed through a hate crime, we are all harmed.

  • Raven M.

    “Instead I’m seeing people tell women, some of which have suffered abuse, that they are not allowed to practice their faith.”

    As a matter of fact, NO ONE is saying that.  What people are saying is that transwomen ARE women.  I recognize that some of the women who attend these women only circles have been abused and they do these types of worship as a type of healing.  The letter to the editor at PNC-Minesotta even went so far as to actually say that seeing a penis in the room would have been disturbing for her.  While that is a an unfortunate reaction and makes me feel very very sad for her, and I don’t want to undermine what she has been through – transwomen don’t have penises.  They have clitorises. What their genitals look like has nothing to do with their being women, just like the size of someone’s labia or their reproductive decisions or the color of your hair does not a woman make.  The saddest part of this person’s response in particular is that it shows such a painfully common belief in our community.

    And, for the record, there is nothing wrong with insisting that a leader not be a bigot, and that if they want to continue being a bigot that we aren’t going to support them in the Pagan Community.  It what you do when you care about your fellow human beings.

    • Ian Phanes

       Raven wrote:
      transwomen don’t have penises.  They have clitorises.

      Only sometimes true.  Post-op transwomen don’t have penises.  Pre-op and non-op transwomen have penises.  Given how expensive SRS is, I suspect that the majority of transwomen have penises.

      • Star Foster

         The clitoris and penis are the same organ, which has developed differently due to hormones/chromosomes.

  • Juniper Jeni

    The problem is that last year
    they turned transwomen away and it caused quite a stir and a lot of
    pain. Then Z. Budapest made some very bigoted remarks about transwomen
    in regards to the fallout of that event. Then this year, they invited
    her to lead a ritual that was “genetic women” only. The theme for
    Pantheacon this year? Unity through Diversity.
    They could have asked any
    number of other women to lead the Dianic ritual, but they choose Z,
    knowing the horrible things that she has said.
    Because clearly, the motto of this year was not “Learning our lessons from last year.”

    • Phoenix Rose

      I was thinking that also:  why choose Z out of all the women available?  Just because she is a loud mouth?

      • Katie Berger Tremaine

        Because she’s a loudmouth, influential elder who has a Tradition all to her own. Because she brought a discriminatory ritual into a public common. Because she’s the loudest and most bullying of the voices who want to put an asterisk in front of woman and say NOT YOU.

  • Wiccanlez

    I totally agree with you. It’s not bad enough that Republicans are trying to take away women’s rights but now pagans are? I guess freedom of religion only counts when you approve.

    • Katie Berger Tremaine

      Unfortunately, pagans have been doing that for 40 years. Trans women are women, and our rights have been under attack since the early 1970s.

  • veracityweatherwax

    okay, speaking as a woman and teacher and witch of z’s generation, i have to say that she is within her rights to exclude anyone she wants to from her rituals.

    HOWEVER, an exclusive ritual of this sort has no business being posted in a public venue such as P’con, in the official program. if she wanted a woman-only ritual which excluded those people who have not been women from birth, she could have had it privately in a room upstairs and let those interested know about it via word of mouth, email, and so on. easy-peasy. nobody offended, nobody feeling hurt, no necessity for drama.

    i feel sorry for z because she has been unable to grow beyond the rules she laid down back when they were necessary in order to claim women’s space, before anyone had heard of transmen or transwomen. this is a 21st-century problem which we never anticipated 30, 40, 50 years ago. and she’s getting old and all this new stuff scares her.

    i can empathize with her. i’m not all that fond of change myself. damn, you mean we gotta keep growing even when we’re elders? …guess we do. and it never gets easier. but, as the songwriter said way back then (and sorry ladies, but it was a dude):
    “From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
    Plays wasted words, proves to warn
    That [s]he not busy being born is busy dying.”

  • LezlieKinyon

    Hi all – I live here-I’ve attended Pantheacon, I know the organizer – and Glen – pretty well.  There are trans people amongst the organizers.  It may be *time* for Bay Areans to respond, as this has become a National Issue and there is a lot of  — really awful — “Stuff” in the blogisphere about Z. I will address to things in my response.  Star- I am not really speaking to you – you are doing a Good Thing  here.  This is really to the men reading your blog. We love you, we really do… but…

    Firstly: This has become a conversation that has gone well beyond civility and
    includes events from last year as well as Pagan Pride and other  Bay
    Area public (and some private) events.  It also shows an incredible lack
    of understanding as to what a **conference** is and how one is
    organized. On that note, here is what I posted to my own affiliation’s listserve:

    I’ve attended a lot of conferences over the past 2 (and, some) decades from systems
    & cybernetics to Pagan studies to the annual American Popular
    Culture Conference, the International Association for the Study of
    Dreams to the American Psychological Association to the various Pagan,
    Interfaith,  F/SF, arts, and writers conferences.  Every. Single. One has
    “closed ” sessions where in not everyone attending is invited or
    welcome. What I think is really important to mention is this: in Pagandom – as a Whole Movement
    – there is a huge amount of diversity.  And- there are groups that are
    closed. For a lot of reasons stretching from the esoteric to the matters
    of age or gender, philosophy, and even profession.

    At a conference, it may appear to be – or, one’s expectations might want
    it to be different, but that is a matter for the conference organizers
    to determine depending upon the purpose of the conference. (Conference =
    a place where one confers – i.e. conversation on a topic.)

    There are conferences where the attendees are required to choose
    what “track” and/or what sessions he or she will commit to in advance
    (at registration) and will not be allowed to vary the predetermined
    schedule. (These are not small or low-attendee conferences, at least one
    with this policy is huge.)

    If you want to END Pantheacon – well – just keep boycotting and dishing
    the organizers – they work incredibly hard at much personal sacrifice to
    make this happen.

    (As an aside: So
    what?  I’m going to crash the Radical Faeries circle at the next festival because – as a woman – I’m
    not invited? I think not.  I’m not even insulted.) 

    Secondly (IMHO: it’s about time someone said this, and I may be banned from this blog for saying it, but I will survive):

    Regarding Z:  Any male who thinks he can get into something Zuszanna Budapest is doing has been living in a cave for the past 40 years.

    I, too, am an Elder and I’m going to say to you this: Enough already! Since the early ’70s you’ve called Z.
    everything from “that radical lesbian” (seriously!) to “*that* ridiculous woman” to a “ball basher” or a “communist Hussy” (and worse) to
    accusations of  “destroying Paganism”.  You’ve used the “b” word publicly and often.  Please Just Stop.  In 2012 it’s
    Old and Really Boring. (and, you can quote me on that.)

    I love you, but (particularly) youthful Pagan men seem to leave their common sense in some political activist group and about every 3 or 4 years & start jumping up and down and making damn fools of themselves when it comes to Z — whatever it is that Z. is doing.  Z. will do what she does without your input or permission.  (As will the rest of us Pagan Women.)

     It may be traditional to protest Z. in some quarters, but she is a part of this community and an important Elder who has contributed to Pagan women’s pride and leadership abilities in hundreds of ways – and – IMHO – feminism is the Best Damn Thing to happen to us be you straight, a lesbian, or trans – or a man. 

    Ok – I’ve had my say, thanks for being there and bring  it up.

    • Marian Battles

      You do realize that none of this is about men trying to get into Z’s session, right?

      • Katie Berger Tremaine

        Probably not.

  • Peter Dybing

    Wow this discussion is out of control. The silent protest was intended to call Z to account for her hateful words from last year, something many in the community attempted to do during the year and were met with silence.  The statement was made that such speech was not considered valid as part of the debate. Z to her credit got the message and offered an an apology.  This issue ends there. A successful effort to keep the needed debate in the community focused on compassionate communication. Those who would bring larger issues to the table and use this opportunity to escalate the situation are risking the ability of the community to now process these important issues. It is time for compassion in this discussion, time for the Trans community to sit and listen with open hearts to the pain of women who have suffered abuse at the hands of men, time for the Dianic community to listen with open hearts to the Trans communities experience of violence and exclusion. We   I believe all of my sisters have the ability to tap into the energy if the divine and approach these issues with respect, compassion and the intent to heal. 

    • kenneth

      With all due respect, and especially because you’ve earned it on many levels, I would say that these issues by necessity are much larger than what transpired between Z and the folks in that convention hall last year or this year. 
         That dispute, and really, the personalities behind them, are almost beside the point.  They were a catalyst, or perhaps a flash point, for some big and deep issues we will have to grapple with as we come to understand ourselves as a vast and increasingly diverse movement.
          It’s even more fundamental than the outward efforts we make to persuade, cajole, badger or insult each other into conceding to our positions. We are finding ourselves having to grapple with nothing less than the core mystery of a democracy and pluralism.  What does it mean to be tolerant? What obligations does life in a plural society impose upon each of us to make space for the existence of beliefs we disagree with, or which we even find disagreeable?
          How does that obligation, whatever it is, mesh with the obligation we have to ourselves to express and live by our own consciences, and to fight injustice? How does our movement, a riotous constellation of pagan paths founded on open-mindedness, honor that while still retaining any capacity to make value judgments? 
         These are big, heavy issues that no one outside of political scientists and philosophers ever have to think deeply about, until push comes to shove. Push has of course come to shove, as it inevitably must, perhaps with a kick in the crotch for good measure! 
        Now that we’re here, we’d better engage it the best we can. The worst thing we could do is to is to put it on ice with some Edwardian English gentleman’s agreement and pretend everything is good until we hit the next tripwire. Unfortunately events have driven the debate so far, but they need not going forward. We probably need to focus first on coming to terms with our own understanding and the language for debating these issues. If we must attack, attack the ideas, not the people. And for Cerridwen’s sake, let’s get some professional counseling on this! Where is Brendan Myers when we need him? This sort of political/ethical debate is his bailiwick, and when one needs a cooler head to mediate a thing, nothing on this half of the globe beats a Canadian!  We need to have something like the Bat Signal for that guy! Shine his personal sigil onto the cloud banks and summon him! He doesn’t have to bring a younger sidekick of ambiguous sexuality with him in a jet-powered car, but it couldn’t hurt at this point! :)

    • Marienne Hartwood

       The big challenge is that the FB post that came out that was shared, tweeted, and spread around the big wide web of the Internet was worded in such a way that the counterpoint was to focus against the *event* going on, and not to Z.’s words, her participation in, or her facilitation of the ritual. I’m willing to accept that it was an error in communication the way it was worded and that people ran with it in a way that it was not originally intended, to the point of making extremist statements that likely will be regretted in the future. The same could be said about the communication issues last year. So…now both sides have proven that, in isolation, they can’t communicate effectively in the spur of the moment during an exhausting event. What I think is especially needed is a disinterested party to facilitate communication between all sides, assuming that there could be a disinterested party found and assuming that all sides would be willing to take a seat at the table. Because of the emotionally charged nature, however, perhaps Pantheacon isn’t the best place for such a discussion to occur–and certainly I don’t think one discussion over lunch will solve this rather complex problem. I am glad to see other people stepping up to say that communication is vital, however…thank you so much!

    • Bookhousegal

       Thanks for that,  Peter. 

      I think it may be important to point out that just as it’s inappropriate for some to claim  ‘Transwomen are or have penises that might by their very presence be connected with ‘abuse,’   …it’s also inappropriate to assume that *all* of what’s behind certain Dianic rituals really *is* about hating or abusing transwomen.   Pre operative or post.

      It’s also inappropriate for certain second-wave feminists to assume that all or any transwomen ‘want in’   on that,   certainly not as the kind of actually-hysterical conspiracy theory pushed by Mary Daly and Janice Raymond et all,   (which Z. Budapest has certainly riffed on,  to the cause of much pain *outside* her Dianic circles,   never mind within them)

      The problem this year is about certain hate-speech and the use of one of those rituals to dehumanize and degender transwomen, far as I know,  no transwomen actually even tried to get in,   (last year,  the issue was being turned away at the door with general denial of their validity as women:  similar thing.)  But it was a statement outside of those circles as well,  and a disrespectful and hate and fearmongering one at that,  that meant Z. Budapest’s words and actions really caused the silent protest.  

      There’s a lot of arguing about ‘rights’  and and other issues here.   Stuff that may go well beyond the actual happening.   Which of itself should be enough to consider without the polarization about rights and venues and who things transwomen actually count.  

      My understanding is that Z. Budapest attempted to give some apology for the hateful speech,  without,   apparently,  as yet  actually renouncing her claims,   but,   I think,  at least being moved by and apparently,  by report,   somehow connected with the hurt what she’s said has caused.    She might not have come around on the lives and dignity of trans people,  or what she thinks of trans people,    but I get the notion by secondhand report that she may be working on it,   perhaps harder than some of her followers we’ve heard from on various forums. 

      I think most transwomen really don’t want to *be* somewhere they aren’t welcome,   and maybe more understand the differences better than ‘the transwomen’   as a class are given credit for.    One issue there,  is that transwomen are used to *being* unwelcome…    Almost anywhere,   Maybe in most of the world,  really,   a world told by propaganda that they are a sourceless menace to public bathrooms,  even,   …which is a pretty big scaremongering tactic used by certain parties in a lot of state politics,   saying much the same things,  only in Religious Right terms more than the almost-identical second wave feminist ones. 

      Perhaps just as ‘women’s space’  is about more to people of Z. Budapest’s generation than just those Mysteries,    the exclusion is,   as the broad support for our trans Pagan sisters shows…  About more than a hotel venue as well. 

      We’re talking a lot of these politics,  here,   less about the actual *meaning* of specific things:  I think that if we can all respect each other as *people,*   (and real people,  even if one doesn’t understand transgendered people or separatists,)   …then there might just be some real things that can be worked out,   for what they are… 

      Certainly,  to have a womb-based ritual,  transwomen needn’t be excluded from the *human race,*  much less their gender identities.   Nor should we pretend wombs don’t have their own realities.  

      And I think it’s not just about transwomen,   where Z. Budapest has spoken so hatefully,  not just about trans people and those of us not fitting her idea of ‘womanhood’   …or those binaries that exclude so many,   particularly transsexual people,  it’s that for many of us,  she’s been such an important voice that helped us find the Goddess and all,   (Especially lots of years ago,   when the resources from other Pagans were …pretty thin,   for so many, especially on the religious end,  maybe.  )  It’s kind of an old wound for a lot of the trans and queer and newer-wave-feminist Pagan communities that’s very much about one thing:   


      Here’s a fairly-revered elder,    making blanket rejections of so many of us and what we’ve come to know about each other.  

      And I think perhaps Z. Budapest’s emotions in this are about rejection, too….  Having been perhaps in a pretty closed circle all this time and perhaps not realizing that there’s this living, growing thriving community that just knows better than to think the Goddess believes Janice Raymond.  

      Trans people,  like many of us,   are used to a certain amount of rejection by people we’d have liked to look up to.   Usually for unreasonable reasons.  Hatefully-expressed, identity-denying, ignorant ones,   sometimes.   That to let pass only means more exclusion later.     We’re not used to it so much,   in our own ‘space.’   Our diverse,   Pagan  space together,  you know? 

      I can’t really imagine what Z. Budapest was feeling,   unless we’re some kind of psychics or something and it got around,    (  ;)   ) but I could think of about no worse pain out of all pain,   than realizing I’d hurt this community.  

      And I’ve gotten the impression she knows pain,  too.     So maybe this is the kind of thing where we ought to concentrate on acknowledging and healing that *pain*  rather than trying to ‘lay down the law.’  

      (And that turned from a simple ‘thank you’  to sort of spouting all that,  but I guess it seemed you were the one to address that to,  Peter.   ;)  )

  • Vivianna

    First, I’d like to thank you Star for sharing two links on this entire issue (the one from Lupa and another from PNC Minnesota I think?)  They beautifully framed is issue from two of the many varies perspectives.  I was not aware of this hubbub until I read either article, and I was also ignorant about the ‘drama’ that happened last year.  After reading the 2 blogs, I intentionally stayed away from any additional links on this topic- I did not want to get mired in a sea of emotion, or worse, other people’s emotions!

    There have been some incredibly articulate viewpoints (like those of David Kees and Sunfell to name a few) that match my own, and some very inarticulate but nonetheless passionate (and emotionally valid or at least understandable) viewpoints that I deeply disagree with here.  

    Instead sharing my thoughts, which have already been stated so well by others, I will simply say that I think that rites like the one that Z. Budapest held need to have a space to exist.  More inclusive rites (like the ones which were also held) must also exist.  We can each choose for ourselves which, if any, we attend.  Protesting is something we just have to deal with in this country.  IMHO, it comes with the territory and the genetics of this country.  
    It may be surprising or unnerving to be protested, but I do hope that, with time, those in Z’s workshop will stop to consider WHY others felt the protest was necessary, instead of assuming that they already know.  Consideration often involves courage- the courage to peek on a blog and read the comments that are not like your views, the courage to have an uncomfortable conversation with a friend who disagrees, etc.  It is *not* my hope that through investigating why others felt a protest was necessary, these women will somehow ‘see the light’ and renounce their ways.  Rather, it is my hope that they will walk away with a renewed understanding of what connects every being that walks the earth and that MAYBE it will shift their viewpoints from what separates people to what we have in common.  That probably sounds juvenile or naive to some- I do not care.  I simply refuse to play the game of “Who’s had it worse?”  “Who is more marginalized?” or “Whose pain is more valid?”  In each of those games, the opposing sides are cis women (or cis-men) versus or transsexuals (and in some cases inter sexed) men and women.  I am not playing this game!

    As an African American witch and a hetero cisfemale, it has been my experience that everyone is developing their own version of wisdom.  You can’t make others see your point of view now matter how indignant, militant, foul mouthed, morally progressive, strong armed or strong will you are.  Once a person who is committed to their way to seeing the word and the people in it, is confronted with a person (stripping all other labels away) who challenges their dogma, THEY have to do the work to remove or correct misconceptions, arguments that no longer apply (and why)- they have to do the dirty work.  Some people prefer not to get dirty, but instead surround themselves with as many people as they can that see the world just as they do.  Everyone gets to choose!

    I have a sneaking suspicion that in 20 years time, when there is a whole new generation of Pagans, discussions like this will be a distant echo and more inclusive venues, language and spaces will emerge to celebrate the common aspects of our respective journeys.  

    Discussion forums on topics like this will be rendered irreverent because not only will there be an outcry of support for transgendered beings, but we (yes US- you and me!  people who have posted here) will have created the scaffolding that enables Pagans to believe that they do, and worship (lack of better word) in a way that both is aligned with beliefs of that particular group or tradition while also enabling those same Pagans to be inclusive and honor transgendered brothers and sisters.  Our society and the Pagan community will evolve.  Even in this optimistic view of our future, there is room for the biologically focused Pagan.  (We’ll always have  *something* to get fired up about; the topics and shades of grey will change but there will be plenty of debating, unfriending  and disagreeing in our future.)

    Just as this sort of online debate topic will be deemed irrelevant, so too will certain individuals whose view of life, of Source, of Divinity does not evolve- people such as Z. Budapest.  Maybe that last sentence was a bit of a wish on my part.  Harsh, but it’s my 2 cents and I’m stickin’ to it!

    BTW Star-who the f*#@ unfriends someone for disagreeing with them?  A freakin’ 12 year old!

  • LezlieKinyon

     Apparently – I stirred up a pot of ants.  I realize the protest wasn’t about men getting into Z. stuff.
    I didn’t go to  Pantehacon this year- but the fallout has been all over the local communications involving Bay Area groups and has gone far, far beyond our regional community,
    I am also (supremely)  tired of “Z bashing”.  It’s been going on for the better part of 4 decades & I had to say what I said earlier – if Star bans me from this site for it, then, so be it.   I’m not going to apologize for taking my stand against it.
    To wit: The vitriol I have witnessed today in blog posts, over the telephone, at coffee with friends, on my FB “wall” and on event lists is well beyond anything civil.  I’ll say it loud and clear: Zuszanna Budapest is a charming, wise, beautiful woman who taught (especially) Wiccan and Pagan women to open our mouths, our hearts to one another, and to be courageous.  She’s suffered the worst that this community has to offer: in words and deeds over the past 4 decades and – still- she comes to us with an open heart. 

    • kenneth

      I don’t see any inherent contradiction in both honoring Budapest for the good she has done while also holding her to account for a view and actions which we believe are deeply mistaken and harmful. Elders, and especially the pioneers of a movement should always get due credit for the hard work they did.
          At the same time, that respect should not grant them immunity from criticism. When they get it wrong, and foolishness is laid bare before us,  we’re under no obligation to pretend the emperor’s new clothes are wonderful.  We should also realize the complexities of human life, and resist trying to categorize as all good or all bad. 
          A lot of bigots, believe it or not, are overall good people. Racism was the conventional wisdom among most people my grandparents age and even younger. Lots of them, if you had never brought up the topic, would have struck all of us as very decent, warm folks.  Funny thing was, many of them didn’t even have any personal hatred of, say, black folks. I personally knew some of these old school racists who would give a black guy a job in their business on the spot, and pay him fairly. They also would have thought nothing of burning the same man’s house down if he had dared to buy the home next door to the boss, and they saw no disconnect in those actions at all.
           Most of the real bigots I knew were mostly decent people who bought into some hideously wrong ideas. I always try to give both aspects of them, the good and the bad, their due recognition. So it should also be with Z. Budapest. 

      • zendodeb

        I almost hate to admit this, But one of my favorite parts of the Old Testament is how the Israelites had to wander through the desert for 40 years in order to reach the Promised Land.

        If you look at a map it should be clear it didn’t take them 40 years to walk from Cairo to Jerusalem. It probably wouldn’t take 40 days to walk that far.

        It took 40 years for the older generation to die out and take all of
        their prejudices and “when I was a kid we had to walk through the snow” nonsense with them.  The “You kids have no idea how good you have it, why in my day…” crowd never really changes. “The greatest generation” fought WWII, and gave us the throw-away society. The founders gave us a country but dropped-kicked slavery into the 1860s. Every “elder” has left a mess for the next generation to clean up.

         The same is true here. In the long run, we’re all dead anyway.  Just wait long enough, and someone new will come along and
        offend you in  new ways. But at least they won’t offend you in the
        old ways.

        And I don’t think any of the folks defending this Z person have really answered the question about, “Would a whites-only ritual be allowed at the conference?” I have read much about honoring “Pagan diversity.” Well, the gods know that covers some things the organizers probably don’t want inside the Big Tent. So if the selection is going to based on the personal friendships and -dare I say it – prejudices of the organizers, that’s fine, but they probably shouldn’t have a theme of “Unity.”

        • kenneth

          One can look at the ordeal of 40 years in the wilderness as the quest to find themselves as a people. The “promised land” is always much more elusive than a piece of real estate. It is much more internal than outward.  I think that’s very much the journey we are on now. 
             Even 40 years has a bit of significance in our story. For most of the past 40 years and more, pagans were an isolated phenomenon wherever they were in this country. Now there’s enough of us that we are forced to think, really think of ourselves as a “people.” That’s not an incremental difference. It’s a quantum leap. For the first time in many centuries, we have had to confront the big questions of who we are, and what it means to be pagan. Where does our individuality intersect with our common values, if there even are such things? 
             That is a hell of a task to take on under the best of circumstances, and these are anything but the best of times. This is not going to be easy, nor should we expect it to be.  This great coming of age ordeal to define ourselves can take decades and centuries.  We can see how Christianity went through it and damn near consumed itself in the process. We’re not doing so badly, really.  
             The fact that we’re even having these big time deep discussions, heated as they are, is a good sign. A sign that we are stirring as a people. A sign that we are something much more substantive than the ren-faire wannabes our enemies took us for. 
              In the last year or two, the very idea of a “pagan community” has been dismissed on these forums. It was said we were all too different to even use the term “pagan” anymore. We had nothing in common save the fact that we were non-Judeo Christian. If I was ever tempted to buy into that, I no longer can. We are grappling with some huge, defining issues for us as a community. That would not be happening if we were really just a disparate bunch of trads who didn’t have a larger vision of ourselves. 
            If I live long enough to one day visit a commemerative statue of Z. Budapest, I’m going to hold a ritual there one night, on the dark moon. I’m going to plant a big, dusty footprint on her hind end for what she put us through. Then I’m going to offer her a pile of roses, for the same reason!

  • LezlieKinyon

    Several people here mentioned No. Ca – Merlin in particular mentions “Northern California superiority” — LOL!! — Folks- this *is* California … you know?  The “Granola State”?  The infamous home of the country’s eccentrics, odd ones, wingnuts, twits, movie stars (a special category), and general flakes & nuts …?  

    Although it would be nice if all if you in other states kept a few, just as a thought* … well … We got ‘em all.  It’s the weather.

  • Sonneillon

    Freedom of religion means Z has the right to practice how she wishes.  Freedom of speech means we have the right to call her out on bigotry.

    • Ywendragoneye

      Exactly. I was not there, but have read some personal accounts and many blogs/comments, etc. Aside from my personal feelings on the subject that have been more than adequately expressed here by others, the bottom line is that this all went down exactly as it should. An event was protested peacefully by people who disagreed with the event’s premise. Do we need more work on this subject? Yes. But what happened at PCon this year seems to have been handled in a very civilized and thoughtful manner. But then, we invented civilization, no?

  • Kirk Thomas

    Star, while I also find it personally repulsive that folks still get discriminated against in modern Paganism, I have to say that you have a very good point here. Freedom of religion is for everyone, or for no one. We have two sacred principles at odds here – freedom of religion, and freedom from discrimination. There are no winners in this dispute, rather, we are all losers. And in 20-30 years, when the older generation has passed on, this will probably no longer be an issue. I pray that we’ll have moved beyond the old gender politics that inform these ideas.

    • Star Foster

       Thanks! What I didn’t articulate here, and should have, is that other religious communities don’t have freedom of religion within their community, with perhaps the exception of Hindus. The Pagan community is singular in that as a religious community we accept such a wide-range of beliefs. Changing that would change us, likely in ways we wouldn’t like.