Sunday, January 27, 2013

What is it? Paganism

What is it? is one of several types of posts I have planned for Polyamorous Paganism. I hope to use it to outline the basics of an identity, concept, practice, or act that not everyone floating around the internet may be familiar with. These aren't 100% comprehensive posts, and they aren't infallible. I can only explain my personal views on what a subject is, and I don't speak for the entirety of any community. Additionally, I'm still learning. In many of these communities I'm still a student and in some of them I'm still new. What is it? is only meant to be an introduction to a subject and an invitation to start learning along with me. 

I am a Pagan. This has been true to varying degrees over the past ten years of my life, sometimes in the guise of Wicca, sometimes as a general polytheist, and, since starting college, a fully embraced identity label with an understanding of what that commitment entails.  To me this is one of the most meaningful parts of my identity. It's also part of the second word in the name of this blog. So what is Paganism?

The Pagan Pride Project provides the definition I've come to consider to be the most accurate to my understanding of Paganism.
A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:

  • Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
  • Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
  • Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
  • Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
  • Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.
If this sounds vague it's because it has to cover a huge swathe of people. Paganism is accurately understood as more of an umbrella term than the name of a single religion. Under that umbrella lies hundreds of belief systems both new and ancient which are further subdivided into covens, churches, temples, groups, and solitary practitioners.  Most of the people in all those different groups worship some number of thousands and thousands of gods, goddesses, and spiritual beings. I say most because one of the truisms of Paganism is that there are very few truisms. We're an incredibly individualistic bunch that come to a lot of different belief systems mostly through experience rather than direct conversion.

While avoiding expectations of universal identifying factors here are a few characteristics that tend to be accurate about Pagans:

  • We're a non-proselytizing religion. You'll never find us knocking on your door during dinner because we don't care what your practices are as long as we're allowed to practice ours in peace.
  • We tend to be based around experiences rather than texts. There's a joke that refers to Pagans as "People of the Library" since we have so many books, but our connection with the divine tends to be based around personal gnosis, not scripture.
  • There are more of us than you think. Due to both subtle and overt forms of oppression that are enforced by more populous religious groups Pagans aren't always out about their religious beliefs. You may know a few without even realizing it.

All of these points and the ones above are contentious. The number of different ideas about what Paganism is and what it involves are staggering. I'll go into much deeper depth later on for those who are interested, but this is a good functional definition going forward for people looking to understand how Paganism connects to other identities.

If you're interested in learning more about Paganism is an incredible starting resource. Patti Wigington really knows her stuff and she even has an article on Pagans and Polyamory. For more advanced information check out the Pagan portal over at

Update: I'll be adding basics, intermediate, and advances labels to content so readers can find an identity they want to learn about and read from their own individual level of understanding

Friday, January 25, 2013

Polywhaty What?

So it's finally happened. I have a blog. This is that fantastic moments in every modern activist's life where they start telling people they feel ways about things.

Twitter has been a fantastic resource, helping me to learn from more established activists in real time and keep up with major issues, but (character limit reached) it has an obvious drawback for larger blocks of content. Facebook doesn't have a character limit but I'm left with a limited pool of people to discuss issues with. I was warned away from Tumblr as if I had suggested poking a bear with a stick covered in meat. Now I've finally settled on a location and a format and I'm ready to begin for real.

So who am I? What is a Polyamorous Pagan and how does that differ from either of those things alone? Why do I suddenly have a blog?

For the purposes of this blog I'm a collection of identities attempting to express their connection to one another. I'm an eclectic polytheistic Pagan exploring multiple mythologies, learning to energy work, and engaging with city spirits.I'm a currently-single Polyamorist and self identified Queer. I'm a Socialist in theory, looking for a praxis I can get behind. I'm a cis-male but I like to present androgynously. I'm a student, an amateur novel writer, an activist. Most importantly I'm all of these things at the same time, trying to remain a single coherent idea.

The reason I want to blog is because I've spent a lot of time reading Pagan blogs and Polyamorist blogs without seeing the content that makes a sustained connection between those identities, and others that I myself have managed to experience simultaneously. I've been inspired by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus tying together Queer identity with Paganism in a way that helped me to make the same leap, Crystal Blanton and Nadirah Adeye from Daughters of Eve exposing the invisibilization and  marginalization of women of color by the larger Pagan community and demanding better, and the Poly & series by Modern Poly. I think a new voice is necessary not only to speak on these numerous groups and movements individually, but also to bridge the gap between them and show what they have to gain from one another. So I will be commenting on issues relevant to Paganism, or Socialism, or the Queer/LGBTQQIAAPP (and I'll be covering acronyms extensively) community, or Polyamory as distinct from Queer, but also how they connect to one another and to other communities and other movements.

My plan is to start my blog with a series of "what is..?" posts to help explain some of the terms I've already used. I can't provide a perfect definition of some (greater minds than I are arguing about what Pagan covers even as you read this) but I can explain what each identity has meant in my life and give some broader background for people entirely new to the terms. Following that I'll attempt to tie them together and show how neatly they can fit that way. Stuck between these posts and following indefinitely after will be posts on individual issues, ideas, or replies to other articles.

Ideally I'll even be able to keep things interesting.