In Praise of Normal

In Praise of Normal September 25, 2010

Paganism is the the most accepting group of religions today. If you are GLBT, polyamorous, vegan, goth, or what-have-you, we welcome you with open arms. We will set a place for you at our tables and accommodate you as best we can. We are the spiritual embodiment of Emma Lazarus’ poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We are so politically correct we even make room for the irreverent and sacrilegious. We are the land of customized religions, niche groups and diversity celebration. I love this about us. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

However, sometimes we forget how normal we are, and even at times treat normal as a bad thing. So I wanted to spend just a moment today to celebrate the normal, ordinary  and familiar aspects of Paganism.

Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive) via Wikimedia CC 3.0

I grew up with a father who was a blue collar worker, a stay-at-home mother and three siblings. We never ate tofu. We ate white bread. A lot of it. We spent our vacations camping or going to Six Flags Over Georgia. My oldest sister got married right out of high school and had a beautiful baby girl. She liked football and had a sort of Princess Di hairdo. My other sister twirled flags in polyester on the football field, had the biggest 80’s hair ever and liked boys with pickup trucks.

I watched cartoons and ate sugary cereal for breakfast and thought of ways to torture my younger brother. I played with Barbie dolls and Jem dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids. My knees were solid scabs the summer I was determined to learn to ride a bike. I played in the dirt. I read comic books. I took soccer, ballet, piano, basketball and any other class that would get me out of my mother’s hair. I spent summer’s fishing with my grandparents. They also ate a lot of white bread.

Today my life is very different but it’s still fairly normal. You won’t find any tie-dye or batik in my wardrobe. A vegan diet leaves me feeling anemic so there’s always meat in my fridge. I still like sugary cereal every now and then. I gender-identify as a woman and I’m told I’m girly even if I don’t see myself that way. I once got married and once desperately wanted babies and white picket fences. I drink cow’s milk, put styling products full of chemicals in my hair and sometimes take a drive just to clear my head. I’m straight, shop at Wal-Mart and say “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” to my elders.

Sometimes I get mistaken for a church lady, a soccer mom or some other normal stereotype. I could tell a stranger that I have three kids, a husband who’s a plumber, I vote Republican and I sing in a Baptist choir and by the look of me they’d never bat an eye. That’s ok. Although I occasionally get the urge to dye my hair something dramatic, like pink, I’m ok with looking normal. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Some people have the idea that to be Pagan you need to be outrageous and they find our faiths and immediately try on all sorts of outrageous personalities. That’s ok, I certainly did my fair share of exploring. In the end though, if who you are is a straight accountant who eats PB&J on white bread while wearing a polo, jeans and Keds in the football bleachers, well then, that’s ok too. We are a people with open minds and open hearts. It’s ok with us if you’re different. Just remember, it’s ok with us if you’re normal too.

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  • I really don’t think there is ‘normal.’ There is what is normal for each individual person. Beyond that, sometimes individual normalities overlap…but I’d caution against anyone thinking that sets a divinely ordained standard. I tell those who come to me: love the Gods. Try to do right. and just be, who you are, what you are, confidently.

  • Sara A.

    I think normalcy is an illusion. But one of my favorite acts of magic is running around in my Respectable Middle-Aged Mom drag, kid in tow, wearing my pentacle :)

  • Star, I have to admit that I take umbrage at your implication that homosexuality (among other things) is abnormal or some sort of “outrageous personality” to be “tried on.” I don’t think that the middle-class upbringing/lifestyle that you describe should be taken as an indication of what is ‘normal’, but only as an example of a privileged life experienced by a select few.

  • I never said that. You’re reading things into my post. As to whether my childhood was privileged, it most certainly wasn’t.

    Sometimes being Pagan means the only thing different between you and your neighbors are your religious beliefs. That was the point of my post. I’m not going to delve into all the ways myself and my past are abnormal to defend my post.

    I think my actions and previous articles/posts can speak for my feelings about the GLBT community, which make up a majority in my faith community.

  • Jacquie M.

    Thank you, Star for this piece and I can totally sympathize with your “normal” definition or “status quo” I recall attending a PPD in Rhode Island and the police officers that were there to watch chuckled and said to me and my children, “I can tell you’re here to see what is this all about” I didn’t have to ask him questions for I already knew what he meant. Everyone was wearing black, some with tons of jewelry, and the “stereotypical” witch’s attire. I had a white sweater and blue jeans. My necklace was hidden within my huge collar for if it was noticeable he would of notice that I wore the same symbols as the other gatherers. You’re right, for many of us the only difference is our belief that one wouldn’t know y unless they were told.

    When I wore my pentacle sometimes I jokingly would say, “Oh, it stands for the 5 wounds of Jesus until Christianity decided that it was too Pagan…Oh, by the way…I’m Pagan” That always got the conversation going for I introduced history of Christianity and Paganism to my Christian friends or inquirers. They can even Google it if they like.

  • Does that mean you’re a Radical Faerie, then, Star? I don’t know very many GLBTQ-majority sections of modern Paganism, apart from certain groups that have tended to form because of feelings of exclusion from other pagan groups.

    I certainly agree with Galina, that just because there are a lot of the things that you mentioned that are perhaps widespread or encountered in the mainstream, that doesn’t mean they’re “normal.”

  • Actually, I’m trad Wicca. Most trad Wicca groups I’ve encountered have a GLBT majority, but that may only be true in my corner of the South.

  • Thank you, Jacquie, for getting the point I was driving at.

  • Star,

    I loved the blog, and wish it were actually true. There is an unwritten orthodoxy within the Pagan movement that is hard to ignore. The “open-mindedness” seems to have people’s minds falling out of their head. Every religious opinion must be accepted, except if it is a religious opinion that is not completely accepting of all other religious opinions. One should never mix religions with politics… that is of course unless your religion is in line with “Progressive” political opinions on the environment, feminism, abortion, and so on. Paganism wants to be the big tent religious movement, but it only has room for the right kind of people.

  • Tim,

    I’m a liberal and have no problem with people practicing and believing whatever they like, even if I don’t agree with it.

    You’re right that there is an unspoken orthodoxy in Paganism and that’s unfortunate. I’m fairly certain it varies from region to region and community to community, but try as we might we still leave people feeling like the outsider in the circle for their personal views, rather than judging them by their actions.

  • Wes

    I agree with Sara that normalcy is an illusion–and yet, I like that your post champions, if you will, the illusion that the majority in our wider culture have of what constitues “normal.” I have a managerial role in an office and work a 9-to-5 schedule. Most of the time, my clothing is average. Overall, a very “normal” life. But sometimes in pagan circles, I feel on the outside. Does everyone have to wear long flowing garments, get tattooed and pierced and like driving beat-up cars? Just the other week, I felt on the outside again when a couple of friends who don’t have office jobs were placing themselves on pedestals because of working from home. There are other examples, too. I go against the wider culture in my own ways–but that in itself does not make me a pagan, and I wonder if sometimes people are only pagans because it’s seen as countercultural. It’s supposed to be a spiritual path, one that should sustain you no matter where you work, what you wear or drive.

  • Wes, exactly. I think Fire Lyte’s Project Pagan Enough is an interesting concept.

    We did grow out of the counterculture and now we’re meeting conservative Pagans who go deer hunting and drive pickup trucks and we’re doing double takes.

    I like to think that being Pagan is what I do, not how I appear or the nuances of my beliefs.

    Yes, normal is an illusion, but like all stereotypes there’s a grain of truth in it.

  • Thank you for this post. I feel than same sometimes. I do thing that a lot of other pagans consider “normal” like watch football, go out to the bar and work a 9-5 job. Sometimes in larger groups of pagans I feel more like an outsider than I do when I go to the bar with my other friends.

  • Bookhousegal

    Maybe the real issue isn’t that there’s a lack of ‘normal’ people in Paganism, but that that very perception you mention: that people only notice the ones they think are ‘not normal’ or don’t appear so, may be Pagan.

    Maybe people who wish to appear ‘normal’ also keep the Pagan part under their hats, or choose Pagan events to ‘let their hair down,’ (Ask yourself if the ‘odd clothes’ on a lot of people look *lived in* or actually like a costume, for one.)

    Certainly, Pagan religions tend to be LGBT accepting, whereas in the South, at least, people tend to hide that among everyone else: it certainly doesn’t mean straights are in the minority, in the South in general or elsewhere: actually, while I know a lot of LGBT Pagans, my partner and I have been pretty much the only ones we’ve seen much of in a long time.

    The thing about ‘normalcy’ is mostly in *perception.* Sometimes that’s selective. Or at least very relative. Personally, I think where we develop our own community identities and expressions, (Which is usually a more subtle style than often described, in practice) … that’s not a bad thing: it’s not like I actually see a lot of people dripping with Pagan jewelry these days,

  • Bookhousegal

    Also, though, there’s a bit of a divide where some assume ‘ordinary’ liberal Pagans don’t also hunt deer (For the table and as a sacred exercise, maybe not as a sport/statement of political affiliation) and drive pickup trucks where appropriate, farm, work ‘blue collar’ jobs, …and maybe these Pagans don’t assume that these are ‘Conservative things.’

    A lot of the ‘normal’ definitions of ‘Conservative’ don’t apply. (And, hey,it’s just an *odd* thing to say ‘you freaks like to drive beat-up cars’: while maybe general Pagan values don’t prioritize consumerism, quite often that’s what one can afford. And again, maybe those who are trying to support such things are more inhibited about it if they *do* want to express themselves. )

    I like to go to the pub, myself, drove a pickup truck when that was the work I was doing, (Hardly brand-new, but as nice as I could keep her, considering my income level: in fact, I used that to help put on some pretty big festivals, among those people who pretty much work ear round at putting together such things for the community that may drive in once a year in nicer clothes and fancier cars.) …I hardly dress trendy, but neither is it ‘walking around in flowing robes,’

    …And frankly, one might suggest that it’s ‘mainstream-looking’ people who help spread the notion ‘Pagans are a bunch of freaks, that’s why I keep feeling like I’m among the spectators.’

    For one, there’s a factor much like an LGBT pride celebration, where ‘normal’ eyes focus on what’s outlandish and assume that some people who always dress in Renfaire garb came out of hiding somewhere.

    ‘Normal’ people do Mardi Gras and dress bizarrely at those football games, and no one says ‘These weirdoes show up at football games and make me feel like less of a sports fan.’

    These things kind of go to *class* issues, more than anything else. (And those can be surprisingly-involved.)

    If your local priestess or organization was wearing new clothes every season and driving Range Rovers, people would be saying… What.

    Maybe for some people, Pagan faith and community (Or being LGBT) may mean you don’t have certain economic advantages.

    Maybe it means there are other priorities, too.

    Different from keeping up certain appearances, too.


    Maybe the perception of ‘abnormality’ has more to do with self-selection than anything else. And maybe if ‘normalcy’ means you don’t know your community very well, that’s something that leaves a little work to do, before storming around the Net saying, ‘This is all wrong! Why are you all LGBT!’

    (You’d probably get a laugh about that in our local community.)

    Maybe who’s doing the stereotyping is …Well, a lot of folks like yourself, Star. It’s not as though ‘folks like you’ are unwelcome, …in fact, you may find you’re already ‘here.’

    Now, there’s always going to be a certain percentage of more-countercultural people about: after all, we’re inherently at least as much of a subculture as any different group of religions, and if you’re not going to go with the flow about your religion, you may be less inclined to do so with fashion or other things that are attached to that mainstream religious culture. (Certainly, it’s understandable that a lot of LGBT people are Pagan, cause, really, darn near everyone else is at best conflicted about us, and that often means ‘Staying Christian to keep the family happy’ is off the table, anyway. And maybe we speak up a fair bit cause we’re used to being a minority on at least that count, anyway.)

    Anyway, I suggest that if you don’t want to feel the community’s too ‘abnormal’ for you, well, start by not contributing to the self-enforcing stereotypes. Or indeed walking in like a stranger and throwing assumptions around.

    Really, we don’t bite.

  • I have to say I’m pleased that this has generated discussion, as I hoped it would, but I’m a bit disappointed so much of the discussion has revolved around criticizing me rather than the issue I was talking about.

    So even though I said I wouldn’t do this…

    I drive an 89 Integra that’s currently parked until I have the funds to repair it. My town doesn’t have public transport so I very carefully plan my errands around rides from friends and family. In the past year I have had to benefit from both unemployment insurance and Christian food banks. I own and wear several gypsy skirts year-round. My childhood had years of poverty and abuse as well as years of plenty. At one point in my life I lived in a women’s shelter for a month. My mother believes I’m possessed of a demon because I’ve been staunchly Pagan for the past 11 years. My friends are varying stripes of GLBT, polyamorous, celibate, goth, granola and redneck. I worked in the trucking industry for years.

    None of that has any bearing on the issue I was trying to raise, that being Pagan doesn’t mean I’m automatically a member of a gazillion alternative sub-groups or that I am otherwise different from my neighbors in any way other than my religious beliefs, which inform my social political beliefs.

    To be honest, at this point I’m a bit frustrated that despite my attempts to promote diverse perspectives within the Pagan community on Patheos I continue to be criticized as a bigoted newcomer every time I try to express my own viewpoint.

    For the record, I have never called anyone’s viewpoint wrong or misguided. I don’t believe I use this forum to try to “bully” the Pagan community into my way of thinking and I take a lot of offense to being characterized that way.

  • I freely admit this post could have been written better. Sometimes I have an idea and I don’t express it clearly. I apologize for that.

  • Dear Star,

    This post was not badly written–it was badly read.

    First off, folks, “normal” is a statistical term, meaning the midrange of results for any specific variable. Abnormal means those results that clearly fall outside the midrange. Homosexuality is abnormal because the majority of humans are heterosexual. Blackness is abnormal in the US because the majority of US residents are white. Both mental retardation and genius are abnormal because most people fall somewhere between those extremes. So, normal is not an evaluation but a relational description.

    Second, the point of this post is that *all* pagans should be welcome in pagan communities. But I don’t think I saw a single commenter address making the community more welcoming to people unlike themselves.

    Let me make this simple:
    * Whoever you are, reach out to those who are unlike you. *

    If you do that, you will be a better person, and your community will be a better community.

    It’s that simple. (And that hard.)

  • Bookhousegal

    Well, in many ways, Star, it does seem that sometimes relations within the community are much defined by how we might want to be seen by whom outside it. I didn’t want to seem too harsh, myself, either: but a lot of the *specific* assumptions you’ve voiced actually may be something that serve to be self-creating and too often divisive:

    Kind of like all the talk on the Internet, ‘Paganism’s all female-dominated, or all women, or all lesbians,’ …and often that’s exactly what someone sees even in a room that’s actually got just as many men in it if you count, or, if it’s a meeting that actually doesn’t have a lot of men about, someone might come in and be like, ‘Where are all the men and men’s mysteries?!’ and you say, ‘Out in the woods looking for each other, I think.’ :)

    The thing that always strikes me, though, is often these ‘divisions’ don’t have to be so. Not just on gender divides, which we’re actually pretty conscious of, but also on class divides and subcultures: if ‘Conservative Pagans’ treat tofu as a ‘rich liberal elite’ thing, they also tend to assume we carnivores must be conservatives and vegetarians must be effete people putting on some affectation, then the vegetarians take that and assume that if you’re a carnivore, you must be disrespecting what feeds you, and on and on.

    In some places, like certain festival spaces, it’s often looked to me like we’re the village divided by the river in folk tales, each side having things the other needs: sometimes you see ‘more mainstream’ people who think nothing of spending hundreds on chachkis and objects and New-Agey workshops lamenting the lack of magic in their lives, right there not talking to cash-poor people who may have little more *than* magic and spirit, and to whom community isn’t something you kind of buy in your off-hours, but something you rely on and consider to *be* your life.

    Sometimes, I think the Calvinism of the broader culture creeps into these things: some tend to figure, ‘If you’re not well-dressed or rich, you must not be trying: certainly, you couldn’t have anything going on spiritually. On to the next chakra-studded Power Wand…’

    Meanwhile, on like a purely mundane level, I could quite possibly fix your car, (Never had one I didn’t actually or practically save from the crusher, myself: where I’ve been, if you want something, you make it or fix it,) and could probably use some kind of makeover.

    What the ‘normal’ lifestyle looks like to me is that it may be cash-and-credit intense, but it also is designed to kind of isolate people: you buy instead of share, you spend overtime hours to ‘stay current’ instead of perhaps trying to make sure any purchases *last,* and in fact, get that money back in its own maintenance.

    I think as polytheists, it’s important to actually let ourselves be *polymorphous,* but still *connect.* Half the beauty of this is that it’s not a bunch of ‘rugged individualists’ each trying to do *everything.* With irony, I observe that most ‘rugged individualists’ are more or less the same in practice: there’s only so many survivable models for that in this world as is. *Cooperative* individualists are the ones who get to diverge.

    (I’d forgotten that you’re doing this ‘reclaiming beauty’ thing as a devotion to Inanna: personally, it seems They modeled me more along the lines of Her extraction team.
    And let me tell you, walking between the worlds much of your life plays Holy Hel with the coiffure, as well as making the 9-to-5 grind something of a non-starter. :) )

    So I think a better way to see these things than as some endless set of competitions and hierarchicalizations of ‘normalcy’ …is to actually maybe see things from a standpoint of what one can *bring.* It may be more-valued than you assume. :)

  • Bookhousegal, I’m having a really hard time not reading your comments as patronizing. I really wish you’d stop making assumptions about me.

  • Bookhousegal

    And, Ian, I agree with your summation, there, but I think ‘normalcy’ doesn’t have to be ‘Everyone’s the lowest common denominator.’ Life’s not on the bell-curve. Especially not for us: it’s *normal* for Pagans to be LGBT in due proportion, and not afraid of that, normal to be both environmentally-conscious and not all about guilt about having things or pleasures in life, normal to value work without necessarily treating money as the sole arbiter of the value of that work, normal to buy some stuff at Wal-Mart and also normal to kind of hold your nose while doing so, normal to have certain ‘conservative values’ and normal to think it’s crazy to vote Republican, if for no other reason than that they *are pretty hostile toward non-Christians.*

    It’s also pretty normal to not really be all that weird, and also to be less attached to the very idea of ‘normalcy.’

    Normal to like nice things and have different criteria of ‘nice,’ (Sometimes it does mean ‘old things’ ) normal to drive what cars and own what it makes sense to, and to name things that are important to our lives. Maybe it’s normal to applaud Ronald Hutton for sounding so sensible and almost banal about our sense of history, and applaud when he appears on documentaries looking much like Dr. Who.

    Normal to be opinionated and value diversity, certainly.

    Why. Not.

    A funny thing about ‘normalcy’ is that if there’s more than one ‘abnormal’ person in the room, ‘normalcy’ feels put-upon, like ‘abnormal’ is taking over or being robbed of something. Also tends to think that the ‘abnormal’ must be just another kind of conformity, before necessarily finding out. So often, it means, ‘Well, I’m not like *them,*’ whether one feels to be in a majority or a minority in a given circumstance.

    We have our own manifold ‘normalcies,’ and seem to both like it and be used to it: sure, our ‘normal’ doesn’t usually mean a lot of artificial hair products or cosmetics (Unless you *really mean it,) …it’s probably also fairly ‘normal’ for some to turn up in ‘weird’ costume cause they think a Pagan event is a time when they can get out of the ‘monkey-suit,’ …when the actual organizers are more or less dressed-down cause they don’t have *time* or *cash* to get more elaborate.

    Friction does sometimes arise when ‘conservatives’ bluster in to something a community effort spent the year putting together, claiming, ‘Why are you all freaks!’ (And often complaining about what the venue that community may literally have bet the farm on costs to rent. ‘What a racket!’ )

    Doesn’t have to be, is the thing. Sometimes, here on the Internet, it’s made out to be about the ‘Conservative person not having their identity respected,’ or even ‘Your tolerance is hypocrisy cause you won’t include my intolerance,’ (extreme example, there)

    …but the real issue is what they say to *justify* it. The reflexive, ‘Oh, you’re just putting it all on to ‘be different, that’s why we ‘normal’ people can’t be involved.’

    Claim someone else is ‘alienating’ them when they sort of walk in with a chip on their shoulder or some sense of privilege and entitlement. Which is often just plain off-base. You can’t be *included* if you are afraid to be ‘associated with the ‘freaks.’

    Meanwhile, a lot of the rest of us hear people pontificating but not giving anyone *else* some credit for humanity, circumstance, or calling, as a reason for not-joining in. Or listening.

    I’ve lived in places where the *cowans* consider what played as ‘Thrift store style’ in my hometown, to be ‘putting on airs,’ and the only women in so much as ‘Business casual’ would be real estate agents. You’d be weird if you got too far from the flannel look that might make one a ‘bulld—‘ anywhere else, and despite a lot of conservatism, anyone who looked ready to sell some Mary Kay seemed like some kind of *alien.*

    I don’t think the ‘normals’ have ‘normal’ exactly worked-out yet, actually. Meanwhile, we Pagans come from all over. We accept their criteria and labels at our own peril. Maybe that’s why some of the pop-Gardnerian rationales around things like skyclad and calling people ‘Lord and Lady’ was at least important at the time. (My position on the skyclad thing is that maybe you really don’t have to *live* there, but maybe everyone should avoid taking the point for granted and do it at least once, or however long it takes to get the point. I was never quite so traditionalist, but we do ourselves a disservice sometimes if we think ourselves *totally* above the point. Which again, was at least as much about *class* in its time as sex, gender, and modesty.)

    We have Gods for all occasions and seasons, and maybe we should make the effort to be Their people in all those ways, too. As Pagans, we don’t exist in a *universe* where we have to be ‘everything, or the one thing, at once in all things in just one lifetime.’

    We get to *live.* Hopefully together. In all our many ways and forms. So, I think, we can’t afford to count ourselves, and each other ‘out’ …cause we just aren’t by nature some kind of ‘in crowd.’ Just *in on* some things many people forgot and called the lack of them and constructs to explain that lack ‘normal.’

    It’s not about ‘who you are,’ Star, Goddess, no.

    It’s about who you say *others* are.

    We need you, among many others. No, you don’t get to define the ‘we,’ but neither do you *really need to.* That process seems to happen all on its own. :)

  • Bookhousegal,

    You seem to be under the assumption that anyone writing in a public forum is somehow forcing their views on others. That’s assuming Pagans are a rather gullible lot who can’t discern for themselves.

    If you don’t like what someone writes you don’t have to read it. Or you can comment with your own viewpoint without getting personal.

    Sure, I have the right to define who “We Are” from my own perspective, and to write about it in a public forum. I have the right to comment on anything and anyone I like. My only responsibility is to define such comments as my own opinion and not doctrine. Since we don’t have doctrine that’s a pretty wide open playing field.

    I’ll decide what I need to define. Your telling me what I need to do and not do is pretty arrogant.

  • Bookhousegal

    “”Bookhousegal, I’m having a really hard time not reading your comments as patronizing. I really wish you’d stop making assumptions about me.””

    Well, to sum up all that text I’ve written, Star, *likewise.*

    That’s where all this sorta starts. When you ascribe motives and rationales to others just to ‘defend your identity’ …you may get far from where you want to be and what you want to say. When you characterize ‘the community’ in certain ways, and speak certain assumptions to defend identity-politics of certain kinds, that’s not fixing things.

    Actually, it’s just kind of justifying alienation, instead of bringing what you got.

    That’s why the response to this isn’t what you thought.

    It’s not ‘you,’ it’s what you claimed was ‘normal’ and what you said about the people you want to value*you* as ‘normal’ about.

    It also probably shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘patronizing’ to point out that you yourself described what’s all too ‘normal’ a problem: some ‘normal-identified’ people feeling excluded and marginalized by some ‘normality of non-normality’ described and thus, a priori, never meeting enough people to realize that it’s not so simple as the labels you inherit or apply.

    I think it’s actually important to start bridging this sort of thing.

    Certainly, if you walk up to people who are glad they have enough rice, beans, and tofu to get through the month and say, ‘Oh, we never had that rich people stuff, get a real car, already, this is why I feel you repress me!’ …you’re not very likely to be taken as knowing the story.

    On simple levels, even. I personally look pretty rough around the edges for a lot of very real reasons. Doesn’t mean I think there’s something awful about knowing what one’s colors are this year. Used to cut a pretty slick figure, myself, I used to like to think.

    People make assumptions. Another columnist, who’s cool, likes to describe Athena as ‘Stone Butch,’ but, that’s not how I see the Grey Eyed One. I’d say, ‘Ah, she just makes keeping it basic look good with a spear and bronze helmet.’ It’s not like She *couldn’t* kick Jet Li’s tail with her little pinkie while weaving him a new wardrobe, She just sees enough moves ahead to not *have* to. :)

    Not that I haven’t encountered some stone butches with just those qualities, but I actually am fondest of Isabella Rosselini’s depiction of Her in that production of the Odyssey. The ‘I know stuff’ smile. (Which comes with the edge of, ‘I’d rather see you lose than not learn,’) Cause for all I’ve always identified *myself* with Her archetype, in many ways, She does have a tendency to turn into a statue with all that classical mystique and an owl-feathered AWACS .

    I think there are many lessons for us, just likewise. I think, if nothing else, it’s our crisis-ridden identities which may even be that which makes us most *interesting* to the Gods. ‘Patronizing.’ What’s that? I’m a leaf on the wind. :) So are you. So’s all this.

    It’s also part of civilization, which itself is also a crisis: As Wells put it, a ‘race between education and catastrophe.’

    We shouldn’t forget to dance, of course.

    Even with the clothes and the makeup, and maybe the silly things, too. Maybe take the train to work and *drive that musclecar for the hour that really counts with Springsteen blaring.*

    ‘Patronizing.’ What *is* that? Who taught us that word?

    Would you like to dance with us, is all. :)

    One thing my own Gods have generally tried to wake me up to is to *not* be that stone statue, …(And, no, I’m not so much a particular devotee of Athena so much as thinking She has a lot to say about some stuff I seem to be good at. I suspect to Her own sight, I must come off like some odd fusion of Dana Scully, Major Kusanagi and Tank Girl. :) ) Or whatever.

    Identity’s a funny thing. In America today, you have people like Tea Party protestors behaving *really bizarrely* in the name of ‘Defending normalcy’ ‘against’ what they seem to see as ‘A few freaks taking over,’ Thinking ‘Not persecuting a minority’ is tantamount to ‘Stealing our country’ Meanwhile, they’re *totally out of touch* and accusing the rest of the nation as ‘oppressing normalcy’ while, err… Heh. Flying their own ‘freak flags,’ accusing a typical Democrat of being Stalin and the Antichrist, and demanding they be acknowledged as a ‘normal majority’ when everyone’s really just trying to get by.

    Nice thing about being Pagan is, we really don’t have to go there, not even about wardrobe. ‘Patronizing’ happens, …but then again, everything really *doesn’t* have to be a crisis of trying to cram everything into absolutisms.

    In community, we both trust each other to pay attention to each other, and also to not be just playing sterotypes and identity politics when it really is time to say, ‘My sister, you’re being an idiot about this.’

  • Bookhousegal,

    I’m going to pass on your rambling tangent but I will point out that calling someone an “idiot”, even in a backhanded way, is not appropriate on this forum. You’ve been warned.

  • Bookhousegal

    No, that wasn’t about ‘calling you an idiot,’ … actually, I was saying that sometimes I rely on others to actually know me and know when *I’m* being one, rather than think it’s all about identity politics.

    I do think there are a lot of people out there *being* idiots about things that just aren’t happening. This isn’t quite on that level, but I think it’s part of the same dynamics.

    You post a *really patronizing piece* that says things about how ‘not-normal’ the people you both characterize in certain ways and blame for your own feeling of disconnection from them, ..then say you feel ‘patronized’ when someone tries to spell some things out about how it’s important for you to find out for yourself.

    I don’t think you’re an ‘idiot.’ Actually, I think you’re being honest about some things you perceive and it’s not ‘just’ about how politely you did or didn’t say it.

    I think, actually, you’re not giving others enough credit to meet us. And I do think that you’re actually reinforcing the very perceptions you claim alienate you.

    I’m actually saying, yeah, you speak broadly in ways that get a lot of people wrong, but also that you should be OK with being part of it.

    I can’t say people will accept how you label them, but you may find that they also aren’t as wound up about your ‘normalcy’ as you think.

    ‘Warn me’ of whatever. I’m just saying maybe those ain’t the terms.

  • Bookhousegal

    Also consider that in all likelihood, if you consider a day’s effort by me to *actually communicate here about the very issue you raised from the POV of the people you dismiss* just a ‘rambling tangent,’ that you’ll ‘pass on’ (ie ignore,)

    …what are you expecting, here, a carpet of rose petals?

  • This post spawned a whole lot of discussion. Good point and one that I try to make often. That our Pagan community is/should be accepting to life choices of all types – khaki pants, calculators and golf clubs or tatoos, paint brushes and doc martins. Nice point!


  • Bookhousegal,

    As you specifically respond to my comment about the meaning of “normal” and then later refer to some people as “normals”, it is clear that you did not understand my point. Individuals cannot be classified as normal or abnormal, because normal and abnormal apply only to specific variables.

    Let’s take this to specifics:
    * My race is normal.
    * My gender is abnormal.
    * My intelligence is probably higher than would be classified as normal, but not high enough to be classified as abnormal. (That is, my intelligence probably falls between one standard deviation and two standard deviations.)
    * As a whole person, there is no way to classify me on a normality scale.