A Community Influx: The Journey to Redefine the Umbrella

A Community Influx: The Journey to Redefine the Umbrella February 21, 2014

Picture from Kat R.

I am back from two incredibly important and special trips this year. In back to back conventions, I got to speak about things that are very important to me personally and spiritually; Cultural empathy, multicultural community needs and addressing privilege. The Conference on Current Pagan Studies invited me to be one of the two keynote speakers this year for their 10th anniversary. I accepted and they flew me to Claremont, California to engage in one of the most important conversations I have been able to have within this community. My presentation, Cultural Empathy; Collective Understanding and Healing Within the Pagan Community, was met with incredible support and acceptance.

I flew home on Sunday night from this conference and went right into preparing to leave four days later to go to the 20th Anniversary of PantheaCon. This year at the Con I was able to participate in several panels on challenging and yet important topics, and for the first time ever I participated in a ritual theater piece. The panels on Pagans and Sacrifice, Pagans and Privilege, and the presentation of A Black Woman Speaks, were monumental in the knowing that our community is growing and influx. Both panels were met with lots of people in attendance, and the ritual theater piece brought about an incredibly healing conversations about our collective shadow.

Photo from Kat R.

These experiences helped me to see that this community is not the same as the one I entered a little over 11 years ago. This community is not the same as the one I was a part of even five years ago, or two years ago. The Pagan community is growing to include some of the very intricate differences among its practitioners. This makes me hopeful, hopeful in ways that I never really thought I would be able to see for the future of this community.

It is not just about the acceptance of Black people that is on my mind when I talk about acceptance. It is the very beautiful rainbow of differences that we as a society represent, it is the colors of our skin to the context of our love. It is the plethora of ethnicities, genders, sizes, disabilities, capabilities, expressions of love, and hair types that I am talking about. The inclusivity of children and family specific programming, and a Pagans of color hospitality suite, show a measure of growth in our ability to acknowledge the specific needs of some of our more marginalized groups under the Pagan umbrella.

Pagans and Privilege Panel, Photo by Yvonne C.

To look at the Academic focus of the Conference of Current Pagan Studies, and the community celebration of PantheaCon, I can’t help but think we are moving along this journey together. We are not there yet, we have not found all the answers to embracing multiculturalism and inclusivity, but I am not sure that there are any set answers to find. I think that much of this process…. is the process. Being on the journey itself will help to uncover some of the answers that we need for ourselves individually and collectively as a community. It is a journey that I am proud to be on with everyone else, all doing our part to grow a world that is fair, just, and loving for our children.

It did not pass me, after standing on the stage of A Black Woman Speaks, that I was embracing the shadow of my ancestral past while simultaneously baring my soul to whoever was in the room to witness this journey. The very conflict within my own spirit, the challenge of being varying combinations of two polar opposites, makes for a complex historical memory encoded within my being. I am both Black Woman and White blood within this here body of caramel skin; I am both and neither at the same time. I have the culture of the historically oppressed, with the hue of the historical oppressor that shines through on my high yellow body. I am all, and I am nothing; a often conflicting place to stand in.

Cast of A Black Woman Speaks, Photo from Del

This weekend, from the stage of the theater performance to the stage of the panels, I got to stand in the privilege of being me. I feel so very honored to be able to speak my truth into a microphone, while I am exploring all the avenues of cultural capital I harness within the intersection of the many different communities that I call home.

I, too, am on a journey, and my answers are also within the journey itself.

We are expanding within the Pagan community in a way that gives room to the potential of who we might all be together. We are not there yet, but I am happy right now with the journey.

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