Confronting Privilege in Pagan Circles: The Shit on our Backs


It’s kind of weird that I actually have to talk about the types of bullshit that is tolerated pagan and anarchist circles but after learning about the cissexism that went on at PantheaCon and after reflecting on a past post on Sisters of Resistance, I felt that this is an approprpiate time to talk about the fucked up shit that shouldn’t be tolerated at all.

 

Racism in Heathenry:

 There are those within the ranks of Heathenry who use our faith as a means to forward an archaic lifestyle; that is, to use the faith to forward their racist agenda.  Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich bastardized many things about the Northern European Tradition to justify the notion of Aryan superiority.  All one has to do is look back in history to see he was trying to recreate a Norse Empire using various tactics to do it.  Just as an example he used several of the Runes to gain power in his effort to dominate Europe.  The swastika is a very powerful sun-wheel.  The Sowulo Rune, used in the SS, is a very powerful Rune to use in order to gain victory.  Much less to say he used portions of our lore to forward his own brand of racism and hate.

These same concepts are used to gather and protect white people together in prisons.  Many within the penal system are presented with a distorted view of what Heathenry/Asatru is meant to be.  There is nothing wrong with coming together under the banner of Heathenry; however, to use our faith to justify murders, racism and bigotry should tell you it will take a considerable amount of work to reclaim Heathenry in the form used in the outside world.

Cissexism and sexism in general

The theme of fertility and hetero sex between a cis man and a ciswoman (or, at the very least, the theme of body parts and secondary sexcharacteristics associated with being cis) is ever-present in neo-pagan and particularly Wiccan (or eclectic Wicca-based) symbolism and practices. The “triple Goddess”symbolism of Maiden, Mother, andCrone defines a woman (or the Goddess) by what point she is in her life’s reproductive cycle. Putting motherhood as the focal point on that trinity is also telling. While it is definitely empowering and important for many women to identify withtheir own fertility (especially often for womenwho have categorically been seen as those who“shouldn’t reproduce,” such as poor women,women with disabilities, and women of color) it is problematic to assume this as the default or ideal. Cis and hetero people do not own fertility, child-bearing, or child-rearing. Let’s go beyond even the fact that there are likely manychildfree, asexual, and/or infertile cis women who may want to take part in an Earth-based religion but feel alienated by the idealization of  take partin an Earth-based religion but feel alienated by the idealization of human fertility — let’s consider that many trans women and non-binaryAMAB* people have been turned away from taking part in Wiccan andneo-pagan groups because they were not cis. Let’s consider that manytrans women go through deep depression and a sense of loss ormourning due to their inability to carry a child within their own bodies.Let’s consider that the essentialism that equates woman with uterus isoften very upsetting and triggers body dysphoria for many trans menand non-binary AFAB people. Let’s also consider that some trans menand non-binary AFAB trans people have carried and given birth tochildren (Thomas Beattie was neither the first nor the only one to doso), and that some trans women and non-binary AMAB trans people have been the “sperm donor” of a child that was carried to term by someone else, and are now proud and loving mothers. This is, of course, not to imply that no cis woman should feel empowered by fertility and motherhood. In a world where men have so much institutional power and privilege over women, and where women’s bodies are medicalized, violated, and policed left and right, women(whether cis or trans) certainly need to be able to take back their own bodies and have room to reclaim what agency has been taken from them. But creating and reinforcing the essentialization of bodies and reproductive status has great power to oppress many people, especially those who experience intersecting oppressions such as race, class, ability,trans status, and sexual orientation or family structure.Other essentializing symbols frequently used by many neo-pagans include the chalice, cauldron, athame, and wand. The chalice andcauldron are typically “feminine” symbols, and are receptive, hollow forms. In contrast, the athame and wand are “masculine” phallic symbols.Both further reinforce cisnormativity via the idea that Woman = Vagina, Man = Penis. The athame and wand are “active” tools, contrasting withreceptive “containers” that symbolize femaleness.

* AMAB = Assigned Male at Birth
AFAB = Assigned Female at Birth
 
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~ by ladycat123 on February 23, 2012.

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