Friday, July 5, 2013

White Christian Pagans

White Christian Pagan: Someone who has become a pagan in label and not really explored the spiritual ramifications of their past indoctrinations, experiences and beliefs. They are pagan in name only. Their outside does not reflect who they really have become.

This blog has been running around in my mind for some time. It has largely to do with ongoing conversations I have been having with other white pagans in the south about privilege and politics.
As I have been unpacking my feelings about this, the meme featured in this blog came across my feed. Which brought me back to conversations I had been having with my sister, Crystal Blanton about the Voting Rights Act and other political issues of the day.

My High Priests taught me years ago to unpack the ideas that I came into the craft with. I was taught to study them and the affects they have on myself, my spouse, my son and my community. Looking into the gaps in my knowledge, understanding and comparing that to the way I think and how those thoughts affect me is something I was taught separates earth centric religions from Christianity.

When I was a Christian, I was told what to believe. Discourse, questions and exploration of theology was highly discourage and eventually lead to my excommunication by the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). The letter in fact read in part, “ [Lydia] is unable to bend her will to the church elders, God and God’s representation on earth her husband [that would be my 1st husband]. She refuses to take the counsel of the church and embrace that as the good and right path for her life.” [Information provided by author.]

I actually had a party upon receiving this letter as it signified for me the end of my life as a Christian. That is right, I do not BEND my will to church ELDERS. I bend my will to the Goddess and God. I do not accept that some person, any other person, is an intercessor for me on this physical plane. I need no intercessor. Divinity can and does speak directly to me. I do not believe for one moment that anyone knows what is right for me except for Divinity and there is no one who can intuit my relationship with Divinity better than I can.
Donkey tries to intuit Shrek when he proclaims that Shrek is an onion whose layers needed to be slowly exposed. People, not just ogres, are onions and the layers are comprised of the buildup of time, experience and indoctrination that grows up to protect the seed of who we truly are in the center. Donkey cannot peal that onion for Shrek any more than anyone else can peal our own onion.
Before I started this path, my onion was mostly the brittle outer layer. I crinkled and cracked and broke when these outer ideals were torn away. I can remember having a true hissy fit when I realized that the Bible wasn’t the errant word of God. I threw things and broke things and nearly had a completely break down. That indoctrination of years of my life was broken in a matter of seconds and my spiritual life after was forever altered. It is indoctrination that I find is the hardest and most difficult part of us to remove. And it must be removed. The onion that is ourselves is not available to be experienced by others until that shell of indoctrination is gone.

Indoctrination is a tricky thing, especially for those of us raise in the South. We often think that our indoctrination has been sloshed off when in actuality the way we behave, what we say, how we treat others reveals how much we cling to this useless and hard outer layer. We do not see that although we have removed ourselves from the garden of Southern Baptist conservatism, we cling to the thoughts, ideals and ways we learned as a child. Everything we say and do is colored by this continued indoctrination that threatens to destroy the seed within.

This has been most plain for me to see by some comments friends of mine have been posting. One said that Paula Deen shouldn’t be commercially ostracized for her comments unless rap artists were commercially ostracized as well. Another told my sister that he didn’t read her point of view regarding racism because he already knew all about it, being a white male who owns his own business, I didn’t see the correlation between his experiences and hers in the least. These little things we say reveal more about our inability to really examine our own biases than anything else.
Too many southern pagans have chosen the road called “Paganism” or “Wicca” or “Craft of the Wise” without actually thinking about the fundamental beliefs and values that they brought with them. They are still White Christians and are completely unaware that this divine path should open us to love, acceptance, just opinions and judgments, a revealing of divine thoughts and inspirations that we are all interconnected. They do not KNOW the most important things: Who they are. Why they think and believe as they do. How those thoughts are mirrored in their actions. What prejudices they incidentally cling to without conscious thought.

I have watched my own husband struggle with this process. He is proud to have been raised in the south. He had a rebel flag for years and said it was just that, a rebel flag. It was not some indication of his racism. Oddly enough, I believe him. He has never been overtly racist. Yet he still has problems dealing with discussions of privilege and race. Despite this he has slowly begun to unpack his onion of indoctrination and shine upon that buried seed a light of different viewpoints and information. After he understood no one was trying to blame him or expected him to somehow atone for centuries of racism, he bloomed under the idea that learning was a way to check his own behavior and opinions and adjust them to be better in line with what he believes. He has come to understand the discussion is really about his behavior today and whether that reflects properly what he really believes.

I have struggled with this concept. The difference is that my mental breakdown came when I realized the Bible wasn’t the inerrant word of God and understood the overwhelming hand of man in the development of modern Christianity. For me my crinkly, crackly outer shell was gone before I became fully a Child of the Moon. Many earth centric practitioners today easily discarded their indoctrinations centered on theology and are struggling now with their own crinkly, crackly outer shell when it comes to polyamorous relationship, race, privilege, spiritual freedom and rights, fears around magic and its use, fears around being condemned to hell even as they openly practice witchcraft, social justice and injustice.  These unpacked, unexamined ideas lead us to behave in unpredictable and detrimental ways, detrimental to our own spiritual growth and the stability and growth of our community.

My High Priest taught me I must KNOW before I can DO or BE. This knowing isn’t ever over. There is always another layer to remove between the seed of who I really am and who I am right now. Indoctrination, past experiences and other extraneous things define these layers and removing them takes a willingness to look at myself, research the world and views around me and then have an honest in-drinking that removes a layer and further exposes myself to Divinity and the humans around me. It isn’t as safe as being insulated by outdated ideas that cling to me like a familiar and welcomed blanket and it isn’t walking the path of the wise to continue to stay insulated, separated from my true self, the seed of the divine I want to connect with.

Today a challenge – have you really unpacked the indoctrinations your upbringing has given you? Are you really acting from a place that is stripped of those past experiences, past explanations, past beliefs? Is what you believe as an earth centric practitioner really in line with how you think and behave? Do you even KNOW if you are able to DO the behaviors that reveal you have BECOME a witch?

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