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.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Weyland

    Cynthia McKinney is a wacko-nut. The Green Party can have her.

  • http://only-ed.blogspot.com Only Ed

    Well, that was a considered response! lol I didn’t know she was running for your local political offices. I suggest you haven’t done your research, and have no response to what I actually wrote.

  • http://only-ed.blogspot.com Only Ed

    Regarding political affiliations, I am befuddled as to why the pagan media does not even acknowledge the Green Party. Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter — both are corporate-owned organizations. The only party that puts nature and our role within nature among its priorities is the Green Party.

    Here is a recent article on the voting results last month in Maine, and how every ballot issue they supported was passed by the people of Maine: grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom, social and community-based economic justice, personal responsibility and sustainability.

    http://www.mainegreens.org/index.php?sectionID=556&pageID=952&mode=

    These are the 10 core ideals of the Green Party. Do they represent you? Then shouldn’t you represent them?

    1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
    Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect his or her life and should not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

    2. SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
    All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.

    3. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
    Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature.
    We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

    4. NON-VIOLENCE
    It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments.
    We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

    5. DECENTRALIZATION
    Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

    6. COMMUNITY BASED ECONOMICS
    Redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy. Develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological and accountable, and responsive to communities.
    Establish some form of basic economic security, open to all.
    Move beyond the narrow “job ethic” to new definitions of “work,” jobs” and “income” that reflect the changing economy.
    Restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.
    Restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation.

    7. FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY
    We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

    8. RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
    We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.
    We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity.

    9. PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
    We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.

    10. FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITY
    Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.
    Make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking.

    I am shaman, and member of the Maine Green Independents.