A Pagan Coming Out Day? Plus: Heathen Harvest Closes and X-Day Arrives

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 5, 2010 — 3 Comments

International Pagan Coming Out Day: This past Wednesday, Cara Schulz at Pagan+Politics proposed that the global Pagan community have a “coming out” day on May 1st. This came after her experiences at the recent Pagan Spirit Gathering, where she noticed that being “in” or “out” as a Pagan was a recurring theme in discussions within a variety of contexts.

“This topic came up over and over at the Pagan Spirit Gathering, a camping style festival of around 900 attendees held in Missouri this past week. As I was a PSG nOOb, I’m unsure if it was normal for this discussion to happen as often as it did, but it seemed to be at the forefront of peoples’ minds. Speakers touched on it, attendees brought it up during Q&A sessions, and it was bandied about in casual, private conversations.  Even topics that you may think would have nothing to do with being public vs closeted quickly turned in that direction.”

Some have expressed skepticism at such a “holiday”, most notably Chas Clifton and NeoWayland. The problem, I think, comes from what we mean when we say “out” (or “in” for that matter). I’ll be frank and open about the fact that I advocate for Pagans coming out of the “broom closet”, and did so at my talks during PSG. However, being “out” doesn’t necessarily mean plastering your car with bumper stickers, interjecting your faith into every conversation, or ostentatiously wearing a pound of Pagan “bling”. It certainly doesn’t mean placing yourself or your children in immediate danger if those are your circumstances. It means not living a double life, it means being out to your family, even if it’s uncomfortable, and it means being willing to request and expect equal treatment in the workplace.

Pagans being “out” about who we are to those who love us, to those we interact with on a daily basis, changes the world. Even the conservative Christian polling organization The Barna Group acknowledges this in their research.

“About 5% of America’s adult population associates with faiths other than Christianity (e.g., Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.). Within this group, about half (47%) were registered as Democrats, 30% were independent, and one-quarter (23%) were Republicans. The ballots of this group were most often cast for Barack Obama (62%) rather than John McCain (36%). The support provided to the Democratic candidate is identical to the backing this group provided to John Kerry four years ago (61%) …Among voters who had a favorable view of Wicca, Sen. Obama was the favored candidate 64% to 35%.

It is important to look at the language in that last line. It isn’t about Wiccans specifically, but people who had a “favorable view” of Wicca. To further extrapolate, the family, friends, and co-workers of the estimated 1 million modern Pagans in America tended to favor the candidate favored by the majority of modern Pagans. But this isn’t just about voting and politics, it is about eradicating stereotypes and altering perceptions. It’s about changing the strange biases and assumptions that even “tolerant” people have about modern Pagan faiths. It’s about not being thrown under the bus because “there isn’t a Pagan in our office/school/organization”. Again, coming out won’t be a panacea for every Pagan, but if all who are willing and able took one day to say “I’m a Pagan”, to humanize our often misunderstood religions, it could change more than any of us realize.

Heathen Harvest Closes: The long-running web magazine Heathen Harvest, which specialized in post-Industrial and neofolk music, is ceasing publication.

“My reasons for choosing to close Heathen Harvest echo those of the Miguel (DJ TekNoir) and Lee Powell the owners of Gothtronic and Judas Kiss.  After dedicating seven years to the post industrial community I find my time divided between Heathen Harvest and the other pursuits calling me in life.  In addition the costs of funding Heathen Harvest have increased along with our success and the ever increasing number of submissions for review.

We have now reached our peak journalist capacity based on my available personal funds and the number of submissions far exceeds our staffs capabilities.  I feel satisfied that the Heathen Harvest volunteer staff have given enough throughout our seven years  and now its time to bow out and allow someone new and fresh to pick up the banner and lead the charge.”

As Malahki Thorn mentions in his public statement, Heathen Harvest is joining music sites Gothtronic and Judas Kiss in the decision to step down from covering music. It’s hard to fully appreciate the contributions Heathen Harvest has made to outsider, underground, and often, Pagan and esoteric music. Many of the bands I play on A Darker Shade of Pagan enjoyed coverage at Heathen Harvest, and it was a resource for me when I was looking for new bands and artists. I’ve seen a lot of sites that have supported Pagan and esoteric music, even if that wasn’t their primary mission, fold in recent years. Serpentine has folded its distribution service, Woven Wheat Whispers and Dancing Ferret/Noir shuttered in 2008, and now three more sites are going quiet. With music distribution ever-more decentralized on the Internet, will lovers of Pagan music find themselves without any sort of guide or resource to the sonic riches that now abound?

Do They Know It’s X-Day At All? In a final note, I just wanted to wish all my Subgenii readers, particularly Modemac and Lady Karris of The High Weirdness Project, a very happy X-Day. Maybe this will be the year where the men from Planet X will swoop down and save all paid members of your church while the rest of us are destroyed.

“The Blessed Day when the Alien Sex Goddesses shall at last arrive on Earth and proceed with THE RUPTURE! All card-carrying, Truly Ordained, PAID UP SubGenius Ministers shall be SNATCHED UP into the Cosmos to spend Eternity (or at least the Journey to Planet X) engaging in a VAST ORGAZMONIC RITUAL OF SEXHURT!! After SIX MILLION YEARS of persecution, discrimation, and torture at the hands of the Conspiracy, we shall FINALLY take our place at the right hand of JHVH-1 and HAVE OUR REVENGE on the ones who have made our lives a SHEER, UNENDING HELL!!!”

If not, well, better luck next year.

Jason Pitzl-Waters