TWH –In the collective Pagan communities, it is not at all unusual to encounter people with disabilities. There are no studies to suggest that there are more Pagans and polytheists with disabilities than in any other cultural and religious subgroup. However, the fact that such people are so visible might indicate a level of accommodation and acceptance that may not be present within other communities Whether or not being under the Pagan umbrella provides more support, many people with disabilities still yearn for better accessibility on festival grounds and in ritual spaces, and can still often feel isolated from their community of choice when unable to fully participate. Three years ago The Wild Hunt reported that Janet Callahan and Tara “Masery” Miller were conducting a survey about festival experiences for people with disabilities as part of the Pagan Accessibility Project. The two were willing to offer some insights from those findings and from their own experiences in the Pagan community.
Cultural appropriation is not a new issue and definitely not new within Paganism. The story of American capitalism has created a strong foundation for what has continued to be one of the most important, and yet challenging, discussions underlying the modern Pagan experience. Conversations of cultural appropriation reach outside of the boundaries of this spiritual world and intersect with various other aspects of our everyday society, leaving a complex web to untangle. For example, the New Age sector’s use of various aspects of Native American* cultures, as well as the selling or misappropriating of that culture, has continued to drum up controversy. Indian Country Today Media Network recently published an article called Selling the Sacred, exploring the objectifying of Native religious and cultural “secrets” in New Age arenas.
There are a plethora of experiences within the Pagan community, and this has become a focal point of many different discussions within the last several years. From privilege, racism, hate, disabilities, and gender discussions, our community has seen some recent surges in dialogue around macro level social issues within our greater society, as they apply to us. The increasing population of people that are drawn to Paganism, nature based spirituality, and/or polytheism, has brought additional discussions of need and equal access to community. The complexity of intersectionality has become more visible, and these complexities are being addressed with resources, and publications. Immanion/Megalithic Press released their newest anthology, this one addressing Pagans with disabilities.