vintagewitch: (fuck it button)
 Dude in my stats group was really frustrating me yesterday. Super condescending (although that was both to me and my other male group member), and then when I opened our group report I found that he had put the tables into our word doc as jpegs, and they were so small they were illegible. LIKE WHAT EVEN.

So I spent three hours this afternoon RE-DOING them by hand.

Then I went to my energy policy class where we were presenting our video project drafts today. There's this one really infuriating dude in my class who always talks over people, always has a quip handy, and is in general extremely condescending and infuriating. He and his group presented a video on trains carrying explosive gas - bomb trains. Probably 4 out of 6 minutes was footage stolen from other sources, all images of explosions, no information, and it was extremely inflammatory.

Naturally, my professor was extremely critical.

Then, he said something that was totally off-base about policy. Specifically, that no legislation had been passed. And, of course, because I was commissioned to write an informational briefing about this this last summer, I raised my hand to politely correct him. He talked over me, continuing to assert wrong information. So I snapped a little to finish my sentence, and after I was done made eye contact with a friend of mine in the class.

I may have sworn a little under my breath. I'm hoping the professor didn't hear me. I was just so done with cis white men harassing me, insisting they were right when they're wrong, taking over group projects, being condescending ... just no. No. There is only so much of that bullshit I can take in 48 hours.

There was a great post on Captain Awkward about dealing with this exact issue last week. So ... I'm gonna reread that and try to take some advice. 

I'm thinking today will be better. I ended up with a migraine last night, so I went to bed super early. So tonight ... mostly about self care. There's a Keystone XL rejection party that I sort of want to go to, but transportation is complicated and I don't think I have energy for it. I need a serious cave night at home. I'm thinking wine and Netflix and tarot.

RAGE

Nov. 8th, 2015 10:41 pm
vintagewitch: (fuck it button)
 UGH. So many things imploded today.

This has not been a good weekend. My brain weasels are freaking out and really playing into the impostor syndrome. I was at a party with some of my more radical environmental activist friends, and was in the uncomfortable position of explaining - almost endlessly, there were people who kept asking me questions - energy policy stuff. And I just got in a mode. 

And all day Saturday I felt like utter shit because oh no, I didn't share the opinions of everyone around me.

I'm also trying really hard not to apologize constantly for my existence, for being intelligent, and for having opinions. And I steadfastly didn't apologize on Friday. And so ... I was a bit of a wreck yesterday.

Then today. I had several group projects implode. As I was heading out the door this morning for a group meeting, I started having an anxiety attack. I was still a bit of a wreck by the time I got to the train station, which was Bad News.

TW: Sexual Harassment + Anxiety )

So I got off at the next stop, walked home, and Matt drove me to school.

Thankfully the group member I met with for the video project is turning into a good friend of mine, and he's just delightful, so our group meeting wasn't hellish. He was also very sympathetic and disgusted when I told him about the sexual harassment I'd dealt with.

Then after that meeting, another group project I'm working on imploded. 

Then, surprise! Matt's mom wanted to have dinner with Matt and I.

And now ... I'm fucking exhausted. 

But I'm finally done with work for the day, and I'm going to go to bed now. Tomorrow's a super busy day - I'm filming a protest for my energy film project, and I've got many classes, and I've got a Statistics group report due on Tuesday. Here's hoping I at least feel more solid on my feet tomorrow.
vintagewitch: (Death Sandman)
 This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and at the outset I want to say that I am not totally settled in my feelings/thinking on this topic. This could be an entire book's length, or a career's worth of academic study. I haven't done a ton of research, and this is mostly based on my experiences as a pagan person in the community. I am interested in discussion, because I'm not totally settled in my thoughts and feelings about these complex issues.

As someone who is concerned about racism, as a dedicated pagan/witch, and also as someone who is white, I have been thinking very critically lately about appropriation as it pertains to my spiritual community.

Many pagans feel that our religion and spiritual beliefs have been appropriated into the general public. As Christianity spread in Europe, it is known that Christian religious leaders adjusted their practices to mirror or reflect pagan practices - this made pagans more comfortable with converting to the Christian faith. In some cases where Christian leaders were more hostile, pagans continued some cultural practices that weren't overtly spiritual, or hid them. An example of this would be the Yule log, or the celebration of Easter including decorated eggs. It must be noted that other religions have weathered the spread of Christianity this way - medieval Jews maintained a lot of the kosher practices of their people in secret, but attending Christian church and appearing to be Christian. 

So paganism has a complicated history with appropriation and adaptation. 

Pagans often worship ancestors, looking back to and connecting with your ancestors' mythology and ancient practices. For me, those ancient practices are Norse, and I have studied aspects of Asatru. In fact, when I was "learning Wicca" the group I learned from had a very Gardnerian focus on Wicca, but also some roots in Norse mythology and interest in Asatru. We incorporated ecstatic and shamanistic elements into our very traditional Wiccan rituals. I am interested in Norse mythology - the nine realms of reality, the trolls and giants and frost giants, Freyja's carriage driven by giant forest cats, Odin's ravens, and rune lore - are all fascinating to me. I feel a connection with these things through my ancestors. My grandmother is extremely Norwegian and makes lefse by hand, and has taught her daughters the recipes of the old world. We've gone to lutefisk feeds (which is a tradition I am more than happy to let die), my great-aunt decorated intricate Ukrainian Easter Eggs, and my mother makes Sanbackles every Christmas.

On a more personal note, I have interacted with beings that name themselves Odin or Freyja, and they have become an important part of my practice. I don't know whether these beings are the Odin and Freyja, but they answer to those names and Norse mythology seems to resonate with them.

Recently, I've been learning more about the dark side of Norse mythology and contemporary Odinism. Of course, I've known for decades that the Nazis envisioned an "Aryan race," but I did not know how closely that tied very specifically to an appropriation of northern European mythology. Many white supremacist groups around the world have rejected Christianity in favor of Odinism, and they will commit hate crimes in "honor of their ancestors." Because of this, it might be even MORE important that I'm open about my association with my Norse roots, and show that this is not ok. But sometimes I don't know how open I want to be about my spirituality, even without having to navigate troubled waters about being confronted/accused of being associated with white supremacy.

I have also traveled in India, and had a couple of deeply spiritual experiences there. I visited Bodh Gaya, and meditated at the tree where Buddha gained enlightenment. I have interacted with spirits that are definitely not-Western-pantheon-spirits. But I feel uncomfortable publicly talking about these experiences, because sometimes I worry that this is not for me. And I want to respect that.

As a pagan with connections to her roots and also a commitment to antiracism, all of this becomes difficult to navigate. I don't know what to do. 

I don't want to continue the essentialist belief that connecting with your ancestors means connecting only with the pagan practices of your particular ancestors. I would also like to recognize and honor the ancestral practices of people from around the world. I don't want to whitewash my understanding of paganism or polytheism. 

At the same time, I don't want to appropriate. There are some things that are just not for me as a white person, and that's totally ok.

I recently had a conversation with one of my very dearest friends about this stuff. This friend got their master's degree in comparative religion, so they know their religious history. Basically, my friend explained that in the development of any major religion, there has always been appropriation. Case in point: This friend studied Christian history, and basically said Christians developed a new faith, but were very much in love with the Jewish god, so they stole large parts of Judaism and/or gradually incorporated them. Religions are greatly influenced by one another; there is a lot of crossover study.

The fact that the neopagan movement is still relatively new means that we're struggling with these growing pains, but we also have the rich language of cultural analysis and contemporary social justice philosophy to draw on and inform our practices and community. And I think that there's a tension between recognizing the cultural diversity of mythology, esoteric practices, and pagan roots globally, but also finding our place collectively.

So there are really several problems that I'm struggling with:

1. How do I disrupt racist and essentialist practices within my own spiritual community?
2. How can I reclaim Norse practices and practice them in a way that is antiracist and antioppressive?
3. How can I diversify my understanding of world pagan/polytheistic practices, and possibly incorporate wisdom from other areas of the world into my own spiritual practices, without blatantly appropriating a culture that is not my own?

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