[PBP 2013] Wiccanate Privilege

ETA (12 March 2014): I highly recommend reading the follow-ups to this post, first. This was a hasty post written poorly and making some sloppy analogies to support my points. The follow-ups are much clearer.

Perhaps I’ve been unclear and What Wiccanate actually means. /ETA

Amongst activists and sociology majors, “privilege” simply means “to be the assumed default and thus automatically catered to”; there is also an implication of “to be of a demographic most earnestly catered to”, and there are studies that show, for example, that people who are lower on the socio-economic ladder are more likely to believe things told to them from certain “authoritative” figures, like a doctor or lawyer, no matter how wrong it might seem, while those higher up will at the very least try and negotiate, and that this is because the systematic oppressions at play leads the financially comfortable to believe they deserve an active role in this because of a pre-conceived notion of having “earned it”, while those who are struggling have been conditioned to believe that they have to take orders, even if it feels wrong, even if they don’t trust it, because that is simply how the world works. For a tragic example of how this systematic oppression has been exploited in very recent history, take a minute to learn about the Tuskegee experiment, wherein US Public Health officials, between 1932 and 1972, knowingly and deceptively infected rural African-Americans in Alabama (one of the poorest such populations) with syphilis to examine the progress of the disease untreated, all the while telling these men (who likely infected many others who were outside the study) that they were “being treated for bad blood”; while these men were compensated with otherwise free medical care (just not the life-saving penicillin to treat their syphilis), food, and burial insurance; again, this is an extreme example of when the tower of socio-economic privilege is used to exploit people –more often than not, privilege is used to silence others, dismiss their concerns, and maintain the position of the privileged.

It’s easily argued that, in Anglophonic society, those who are “most privileged” tend to have the following traits in common: white / Caucasian in skin colour, male, heterosexual, cisgender, masculine-presenting, able-bodied, about 20-35 years old, middle-income and bourgeois-aspiring, Christian, taller than “average” in height (US-born men average about 5’8″, UK-born men tend to average about 5’9″ –sorry Jon Stewart, you ARE NOT “short”), speaks English as a first language, is fairly attractive, and is in physical condition comparable to that of a minor league baseball player. Sure, the flapping heads at Faux News and other ignorant conservatives with their heads up their collective arse often try to argue such people are the ones that are “REALLY persecuted”, but the facts tend to support that, no, it is the white, het, cis Christian male who is with privilege.

They are the target audience for the overwhelming majority of films and telly programmes, video games.

They tend to be overwhelmingly selected for professional positions, even if others are more qualified.

They are among those most-conditioned by society to believe they’ve “earned” a good life, even if they’ve done little, if anything, to secure one.

Well, that’s greater society, also known as the overculture, and isn’t entirely relevant to the idea of Wiccanate privilege –except on the handful of occasions it is (I’ll get to this).

In smaller communities or subcultures within the overculture (such as GBLTs and pagans and so on), the system of privilege is often mimicked in idiosyncratic ways relevant to that community, and to some extent, this can be an extension of the overculture, but on occasion, the overculture simply reinforced the idiosyncrasies of the subculture’s pyramid of privilege. The GBLT community has no shortage of people recognising that gay men (or cisgender gay men and lesbians) are highly privileged, and this is even represented in the overculture — “GBLT media” is more often “gay media” geared toward the interests (or presumed interests often based on stereotypes of) gay men. Bisexuals, in both the GBLT community and the overculture, are often “erased” from consciousness in favour of presenting both living and historical people as having a “less complicated” monosexual preference –who cares that Janis Joplin had at least as many affairs and relationships with men as she had with women, lesbians would rather portray her as straightforwardly “lesbian” at the expense of the woman’s actual complexities of character, and don’t try and explain to the fangirls on Yaoi Gallery that Alexander the Great can’t easily be regarded with modern terms for sexuality, as the assumed sexual default in ancient Hellas and Makedonia was essentially bisexual, and more importantly, male sexuality in Alexander’s day was more along the lines of “Top or Bottom” rather than “Het or Homo” (and it was far more privileging to be, or at least be assumed to be, a Top). And don’t get me started on all the crap the TS/TG community gets not only from outside the GBLT community, but from within it, as well –I’m still having a hard time getting my friend who runs the local drag night to introduce me as “Miss Lavender Jarman” rather than the “Mr”, which is reserved for drag kings, and now this has probably implicitly outed me as trans male faster than my messed-up surgically-reconstructed nipples ever could (not that I’m trying to “live stealth”, but ferchrissakes…, you don’t introduce the faux queen as “Mr”, don’t do it to me), and I know some trans women who’ve had it worse from lesbians (and I would rather let them speak for themselves than be so presumptuous as to assume I can relay their stories as well as they could).

Within the pagan community, the “Generic Popular Wicca-based Neopaganism” (henceforth “Wiccanate paganism”; Traditional Wicca, such as BT/Gardnerian or Alexandrian, is “Wicca”) is the assumed default. During the “pagan identity crisis” that’s been cycling the pagan blogosphere every few months since 2010, I’ve seen several people comment not only as non-Wiccanates who lament this, but as Wiccanate pagans unaware of their own privilege and insisting that we’re all united because, as far as they’re concerned, “we all share a history with Wicca” (an exact quote I’ve seen from several people).

I don’t have a history involving Wiccanate paganism (at least no more than a basic intro reading out of curiosity), and I know an increasing number of Hellenists and others in recon-based paths who do not.

A staggeringly vast amount of the media output that is not only ostensibly about, but ostensibly for, including the media that is clearly by-and-for those in the pagan community is overwhelmingly focused on the Wiccanate —from books to cable television “documentaries” to blockbuster films, and even music popular in the pagan community. The language of the greater pagan community is the language of the Wiccante paganism they read about in all the same books, or at least books that have been influenced by those books. The most common depictions of the gods and goddesses on any pagan website, shop, or book pages are based on generally Wiccanate understandings: There is no martial aspect of Brighid ever represented in commercially available statuary or paintings and illustrations, Hekate is overwhelmingly the grey-haired dowager imagined by Robert Graves rather than the maiden of Hellenic myth, and Pan is not only emasculated (I’ve never seen a Wiccanate depiction of Pan with his ginormous cock, for fuck’s sake) he’s practically just Dionysos with goat’s legs and horns cos worshipping a truly physically ugly deity isn’t something that your average Ms Pseudonymous Notafluffy (Really, I’m Not!) can wrap her poor li’l head around, and not to mention “they’re all just aspects of The God”, except somehow Zeus, who is regarded as little more than a serial rapist villain from the draw pile for Law & Order: SVU writers due to the unfortunate connotations of linguistic drift and the lingering Victorian convention to translate the ancient Hellenic into “rape” (not only has the word “rape” an etymological root in common with “robbery”, but even as recently as the Victorian, any “good girl” who might have chosen to run off and elope with her boyfriend was “raped” by some cad, because women of fair breeding [by which Victorians tended to mean white and bourgeoisie (or at least aspiring to said)] would never choose that freely and a true gentleman would ask her father and only proceed with her father’s blessing).

In spite of having never been a “Wiccan”, I can wade through most books that purportedly claim to be written for broad appeal, not only can I still tell that most of these books are still at least 80% Wiccanate in their language and lessons, but I also have to sit and think about everything I read, and far more than I imagine most do, so that I can adjust the advice to my religion and its practices (after all, just because it’s clearly not for my religion doesn’t mean that the advice is completely useless); and about half of any given book is generally irrelevant to my religion.

Having never been a Wiccan myself, I honestly barely understand what a lot of the supposedly “general pagan community” means when they say “casting a circle” or “drawing down the moon”, I don’t even know what “drawing cross-quarters” or whatever it is actually means (or I’ve long forgotten it) —I know these are rituals important to Wiccanate paganism, maybe some traditional Wicca, but that’s about it; I know a few things here and there, but in most conversations with Wiccanates and former-Wiccanates, I’m genuinely lost when they start going on about certain things, because that’s just not a region on my spiritual map. I’m familiar with the Roots in Empedoclean understanding, but I really don’t know how well that corresponds with a Wiccanate understanding of Elements and judging from a few things I’ve read from others, and considering how lost I feel in maybe half those discussions, I’d say it’s not exactly the same thing.

Having never been a Wiccan, I do not (as some of my ex-Wiccan Hellenic acquaintances do) struggle to remind myself that Hekate is a maiden goddess and She was never part of Robert Graves’ invention of the “Maiden-Mother-Crone Triple Goddess” to the ancient Greeks, but when I go to a pagan shop and see a “Hekate statue”, I struggle to see Hekate in those resin-crafted harridans, sometimes with torches and dogs to give her something recognisable in common with the Hekate I’ve worshipped —I’ve no doubt this is some goddess or another, and maybe a Goddess who responds to the name Hekate in a way like how I myself and the actor portraying Mr Bean respond to what’s phonetically the same forename, but it’s not Hekate as I’ve always known Her, it just isn’t.

Within the pagan community, at the very least, Wiccanate paganism and those who practise it clearly have immense privilege, and it’s noticed by everyone who does not practise it, and especially so to those who never have.

Unfortunately, most Wiccans are blind to this in the same way that most white people can be blind to their own privilege in the overculture because they’ve been taught to be “colourblind” since they were children and this notion of “racial colourblindness” is believed to be reinforced by the fact that Will Smith is an exception to the rule of all action heroes being white and there’s finally a Black man in the white house, and all the while, they’re still making subconscious racialised judgements —like unfairly judging, say, the Obamas as having “bad, haughty attitudes”, when they’re actually no more stuck-up than the Clintons or Caters and every bit as pleasant, and the reality is, anyone who says that sort of thing is just making a thinly-veiled euphemism for “uppity Negroes” —but again, I digress (apologies, with a memo to myself that I really gotta delete a certain person from FaceBook for drinking the Faux News Kool-Aid).

Every single “Paganism 101” book I’ve read to date is careful to dedicate a single chapter to how “diverse” the pagan community can be, and how many religions and occult or mystery traditions are encompassed under that “umbrella term”, and after that chapter is finished, the book resumes talking only about practises that are “Eclectic” and Wiccanate in nature. Wiccanate pagans are pretty much conditioned from their first book on the subject to see themselves as only a part of a community that is equally or almost-equally representative of over a dozen or so religions and equally accepting of potentially hundreds or thousands of religions practised by no more than a baker’s dozen of people all the while being completely oblivious to the fact that theirs is typically the only religion in the pagan community that the pagan shops with storefronts and the popular pagan writers ever really cater to –much like kids who grew up seeing all manner of whites AND various people of colour represented relatively equally on Sesame Street, but then as they get older, they seem oblivious to the fact that their schools, places of work, and preferred media is overwhelmingly white, but they always refer to The Black Guy in HR, or their collection of Rickey Martin CDs, as if it somehow proves real racial diversity in their lives.

So basically, to follow with the tacky allegory of race (I hate making comparisons to other systematic oppressions, but sometimes it’s the best way to get the point across), within the pagan community, Wiccanate pagans are like the white kids who don’t just find it hard to see why racial issues are important, but will get belligerent with various people of colour who do have had a hard time getting a leg up in white society because of what’s still too-often a colour barrier. Because Wiccanate pagans have been taught about the alleged diversity of pagan community, they naively believe that this diversity is fairly represented at big pagan gatherings, on the big pagan blogs, and in any bookstore that not only has a mere section for pagan books (like, say, Barnes & Noble’s “Metaphysical and Occult” shelf), but is completely dedicated to pagan media. They’ll point to a ritual for Athena at the current convention and say “look, Hellenism is represented!”, failing to acknowledge that the people running that ritual are Dianics who likely do not understand Athene the way that traditional Hellenists would.

The fact of the matter is, all other religions allegedly under the “pagan umbrella” are simply not fairly represented. If you’re not practising some form of Wiccanate Paganism that’s taught in popular books, you tend to consider yourself lucky if one of the hundreds of pagan “primer” tomes will at least have a paragraph giving a fairly accurate explanation of your religion. If you don’t have a panentheistic, pantheistic, or so soft a polytheistic view that it borderlines monotheist interpretation of the deities, or are at least “Divine feminine monotheistic”, then chances are good that you’re going to find yourself in a minority at any pagan gathering, even the biggest ones, like ConVocation, Pagan Spirit, or Pantheacon.

When I was on WyrdWays with Galina Krasskova and Sannion in October, Galina mentioned something that I hadn’t really consciously noticed before, but certainly wondered every time I saw the evidence staring at me: The overwhelming majority of the times that even major pagan blogs, bring up even Heathenry, it’s either cos of Neonazi Heathens making the news, or as a tie-in to racism, or as barely more than a footnote on the subject of Pagan Prison Ministry. The overwhelming majority of times that African Diaspora religions are brought up by even the major pagan blogs is cos of animal sacrifice or simply alleged animal sacrifice in the news again (with maybe an exception made when white people into Hoodoo or Santeria write a book about it —which is certainly more racist baggage that I’m sure most Wiccanates and other pagans don’t even realise they do). Now with Greece’s Golden Dawn party making international news, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s all that brings up Hellenismos in the major blogs over the next few years –it was nice having the saddle of academia while it lasted, but it had honestly been nearly two years since JP-W had brought up Hellenismos without Golden Dawn, at least until the advent of Elaion’s new charity endeavour; I know people who’ve said they forwarded information about the Hellenic Revival Fest to him, but I guess it just ain’t “pagan news of note” unless it’s about Wicca or those ding-danged recons and their wacky Nazis! :-/ (“Oh, but Ruadhán! The Wild Hunt mentions ADF a lot! Like, a lot of the time!” Yeah… That’s all well and good, but honestly? I read a lot of sources on ADF and Neo-Druidry in junior high and high school, and since then, and while the origins of Neo-Druidry go back further than any sort of Wicca or most polytheist reconstructionism [the 18th century as a cultural movement, as a spiritual movement, the mid-1800s —Vlassias Rassias of YSEE has been very staunch on his stance that YSEE is “not a reconstruction” but a descendent of the 18th Century “Stratioti tradition”, making its practises about as old as Neo-Druidry], the reliable sources for Celtic religions are not that great, even if there are clues here and there as to what pre-Christian Celtic religion, much less the Druid caste, may have practised. And ADF really seems to have more in common with Wiccanate paganism than it has with Celtic Reconstruction than some people want to really believe, even though it does seem to generally be a recon-friendly group.)

Now consider the fact that, even still today, reporting on the news is highly skewed toward the favour of privileged classes of people. When crime happens in poor urban areas, you barely ever hear of the poor urban white kids getting into trouble, the only news stations I’ve seen report missing Black children have been in historically Black metropolioi (Detroit and Philadelphia), and even then, most of the kids turned out to be from fairly affluent Black families. Even on the occasions when a poor black or Hispanic kid dies accidentally, everyone on the news is quick to portray the parents as somehow far more negligent than Eric Clapton apparently was —must be nice to get a Grammy for “Song of the Year” cos your kid died in a horrible accident while you were working and the world demonises Mrs Hypothetical Hernandez cos her kid died in a horrible accident while she was working!

(As an aside, as I had just mentioned him, did you know there’s far more damning evidence that Eric Clapton is a fascist / racist than there is of most Neofolk artists, no matter how much one wants to point the finger at Neofolk and then quip “trust me, I’m a Goth”, as if it actually means anything, while turning a blind eye to the racists that everyone knows the names, even if not the words and/or deeds of.)

Now, I’m not putting all the blame on Wiccanate paganism for why the mainstream overculture still can’t figure out that there are other religions under the pagan umbrella —the major proponents of Wicca have been pretty PR-savvy since about the 1950s; Gardner and Cabot and others have been far more wily than some people tend to realise, and unfortunately we live in a world where slick promotional work gets far more honour than us nerds in the library stacks who’d rather debate the finer points of Democritus, or at least which Judge Dread song really embodies a Dionysian sense of humour (Sannion? I say it’s “Up With the Cock”, now it’s your turn). But the pagan community, amongst itself, claims to be better than that. If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself that the pagan community consistently claims to care more for fairness in representation of minority religions than the mainstream. The reality of the thing, tough, is that pagan media falls into its own idiosyncratic version of the power structure that plagues the mainstream (and not to mention: it also retains a lot of the social issues, like sexism, racism, queerphobias, and so on, that continue to plague the mainstream), and before any progress can be made toward a better understanding in what’s supposed to be an interfaith community, this power structure has to be addressed and ultimately disassembled. No one religion can be favoured over another, and this has to be shown in actions as well as platitudes; lip-service toward “inclusion” can no longer be accepted or even tolerated.

It’s been accepted and tolerated for so long because of the sort of learned helplessness that the disenfranchised become conditioned to: When a hungry dog is thrown a bone, the last thing on its mind is “is this going to be what I need?”, its thoughts are going to be more along the lines of “hey, at least I got something!” In a similar fashion, when you’re a Hellenist, or CR, or Heathen, Kemetic, or so on, and the local Pagan Pride day happens, amongst those non-Wiccanates who attend, one of two things happens: A handful of people might go one or two times, if only to see if there are other Hellenists or so on in the area who showed up, or at least make suggestions on how to really include non-Wiccanate pagans and polytheists, but others might go every year, regardless of whether or not they meet anyone of their religion, or whether or not the organisers are willing to take advice, because they were thrown a bone. It’s not what they need, but it’s something that claims to be welcoming, and well, “at least it’s pagan of some variety”? Many simply learn that their local community will NEVER cater to their needs, and wants no suggestions on how to accommodate them, so they drop out of the broader pagan community and keep to their own practises and whatever semblance of their own religion’s community they can get, even if it’s only on the Internet.

To be fair, this power structure exists in its own ways in just about every subculture. GBLTs are becoming well-aware of the fact that in spite of the fact that the best rioters at Stonewall in ’69 tended to be trans women and bisexuals (in fact, Bisexual activist, Brenda Howard was THE person to organise a march on Christopher Street on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots she was in, thus inventing the “pride parade”, most of which are lucky to have a Bisexual float, these days), the community’s major events are largely centred on the culture of gay men with the more mainstreamed lesbians following very close behind.

Well… Hrmm… The music-and-fashion subcultures tend to be less idiosyncratic, but issues like classism, sizeism, and in some such subcultures more than others, racism are still major elephants in the room that no-one wants to really address, in spite of any and all claims made by some major figures in those scenes to be better than the mainstream.

While it’s impossible for even one such as myself, with a toe in various subcultures, to fix everything in all the communities I’m a part of, I do think that by saying this here, I can hopefully illuminate the inherent privilege that the pagan community as a whole affords to that the Wiccanate paths. As the community grows not only in numbers, but in diversity, this privilege becomes less and less relevant. At one time in the early 1980s, I’m sure it seemed lucky for people to have a big pagan gathering at all, and maybe it seemed reasonable to have a dominant focus on Wicca, cos that’s what most people who were likely to attend practised (even though, in spite of “Allergic Pagan” John Halstead’s claim that reconstructionist pagans have only really been a thing since the 1990s, er, NO, the Heathen community has existed since the 1970s, at the very least, and as I mentioned above, there is ample evidence that attempts at Celtic and Hellenic polytheistic revivals have been made since the mid-1800s) —but thirty years later, and after a major pagan publishing boom in the 1990s, there is really no excuse for the overwhelming Wiccanate privilege any-more. What there’s even less of an excuse for is the casual privileging that still goes on amongst people who claim to be all for diversity, yet saying things like “one thing that unites the pagan community is that we all have a background in Wicca!” While I’m sure most still do, and am equally sure the sentiment is well-intended, that’s simply not true of everyone, and even amongst those to whom it is a true statement, well, all of those former-Wiccans apparently do not practise it anymore, so by suggesting they can, or even should still do Wiccan things at pan-pagan gatherings is to ask them to erase their current religious identity because it’s just somehow easier for other people to only book Wiccanate events than it is to make an effort to truly be inclusive of all paths!

Unfortunately, i don’t have all the answers on how to fix this –this is one of those highly uneasy answers I mentioned earlier in the blog project. I do, though, believe that it can only begin to be fixed when those who have privilege within the pagan community recognise and address it and then become truly willing to engage those of different paths and work toward better representation of all paths under this alleged umbrella.


36 thoughts on “[PBP 2013] Wiccanate Privilege

  1. That isn’t about privilege but about bad scientific ethics, which abounded in that time period. You want something to keep you up at night, watch Dark Matters twisted but true.

    Hell, white poor people had to worry about authority figures back in the day. The mother of adoption(I can’t remember the bitches name), would steal kids from poor white families and sell them to rich starlets and hollywood and politicians. Those that didn’t make the cut to be adopted out were given to caregivers, who did heinous things, like leaving the babies in a stroller out in the sun to die. Or when the diptheria outbreak hit tn, this bitch never gave the babies medicine and many died. (sorry that particular show pissed me off, and you see vestiges of it in the whole cps and other adoption movements now as well). The bitch had judges and police in her pocket.

    I’ve been poor and I’ve been middle class and now I’m back to being poor again. It has been my experience that poor people do not trust authority figures. Poor people usually do not have access to the lawyers to fight. Mind you, middleclass don’t as well(they just have the money to look better in the eyes of authority figures, so they aren’t targeted as much, plus if you piss off the middle class, they’ll shred your political career so fast). Mind you, the other issue is that people don’t know where to find the authorities over the authority figures, to put them in check. We can thank, I think, many of those damn lawyers for trying to give checks into that.


  2. The whole white male are being persecuted has some evidence in it’s favor. THe mens movement shows some heart breaking stories. Another example would be the Duke Rape case, and these were rich white guys who had access to a high powered attorney. They STILL would have been screwed if not for the fact that someone got the prosecutor taken off with bad ethics. Ethics so bad that he got disbarred.

    The truth is, it doesn’t matter what socio economic ladder you are on, you can get screwed. It doesn’t matter if you are in the GLBT, hetero, whatever race, you can get screwed. Some people have money as a tool to unscrew themselves but that isn’t a given.

    People can be assholes, they can also be wonderful as well.


    • The truth is, it doesn’t matter what socio economic ladder you are on, you can get screwed.


      How many Men’s Rights Activists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
      Who’s there?
      Er… This isn’t a Knock-Knock joke.
      Knock-Knock jokes exist, too!
      You don’t say?


      • It does matter. They are bringing up a disparity that needs and should be addressed. It slowly is. The one that hasn’t yet, is abuse to men. sigh. Or automatically assuming that because a woman yells wolf, the guys is automatically guilty. smh.

        It matters because peoples lives get affected in many ways. It matters because people matter.

        It is why I am so thankful for places like project innocence.


        • Obviously, you didn’t get the joke:

          Just because A is talking about the well-documented systematic oppression of women doesn’t mean that the system isn’t also oppressive to men –it means that A has the floor, and especially if A is a woman, she deserves to be heard about how that system affects her experience as a woman, because there is a likely shared experience with other women. When B jumps in with “well, men have it tough, too!”, especially if B is a man, that’s called derailment, and it tends to give the impression of proving A’s point more than it stands in solidarity with it. A started telling a lightbulb joke, B responded inappropriately to reminf her than knock-knock jokes exist, too. A likely very much knows that knock-knock jokes exist, but simply wasn’t telling one.


          • Sorry no.

            This is personal for me. Women have systems in place to help them, the systems suck giant ass, but they still have support to help. The guys don’t. I’ve known more than a few guys that this has affected. The whole privilege thing, only blinds the fact that the plight is imp to both sides. This goes beyond politics and about real people and how those real people get affected in the real world.

            When it comes down to affecting real people who has the floor isn’t as imp to me, as the message and pragmatic means of actually helping. Because yelling privilege only tells B he isn’t imp and his plight isn’t imp. When yes B is just as imp as A.


            • Except that for all these “systems” you claim are in place to help women, there’s still a well-documented gender disparity showing a favouritism toward men in most fields.

              In 1991, in Lucas County, Ohio, my father had to fight to retain custody of my sister and myself because the state decided that neither a late-in-life-lesbian nor the childen’s own father were good enough to raise them –but when you get to the real meat of that case, part of that was due to the fact that, especially for poor people, it was a bitter and ugly divorce, and my mother had lied about him several times (most prominent example: he’d been a recovering alcoholic their entire marriage, in fact, it was one of the conditions my mother gave him before she’d marry him, but at some point she insisted he had been drinking the whole time, I was considered old enough at the time to be called in as a character witness, my eldest half-sister [the one from my mum’s side, who was twelve when my parents married] flew in from England, and one of my mother’s sisters from out-of-state, to back up my father’s claim that she wanted him in AA at least three months before she’d marry him). I know how the real world works. My father wasn’t some poor schmuck being shorted by some imaginary system designed to demonise men –he was some poor schmuck who married an ex-groupie with a penchant for dramatics.


  3. The Republicans who don’t like Obama and say they are acting Haughty, don’t like how he acts. It isn’t about race, it’s that he grates on their nerves. They do compare him to other liberals. Btw, the self same people who grit their teeth on Obama, loved the former United Nations ambassador and secretary of state and wished she would have run for president. (damn brain fart I’ve forgotten her name, oh yes Condoleeza Rice)


    • The Republicans who don’t like Obama and say they are acting Haughty, don’t like how he acts. It isn’t about race, it’s that he grates on their nerves.

      Funny how the Clintons acted the same way, and Republicans barely called any of it out until it came to light that Little Billy had a hard time staying behind the zipper.

      Seriously, even after that, it just seemed pretty clear that what really got in the GOP’s craw was that some scholarship kid and ex-hippie was in the White House for being smarter than them, and he knew it.

      Btw, the self same people who grit their teeth on Obama, loved the former United Nations ambassador and secretary of state and wished she would have run for president. (damn brain fart I’ve forgotten her name, oh yes Condoleeza Rice)

      It’s called a double standard.


      • I disagree. I heard a lot(after he was out of office as I didn’t listen to WABC(tbh honest my choices were bad pop music or WABC and I rather preferred the talk radio as I found it mind engaging. My most mind blowing moment was listening to Pat Robertson debate why NAFTA was bad and hearing the neo con Nafta supporter, support it) of criticism of the Clintons by the right wing. Mostly on Hillary when it came to haughtiness.

        They did point out the whole disparity of, how Clinton is a stellar example of sexual harassment, but was never called out by it, by the feminists. That is a hard point to miss, because had I been of age(I missed it by a month) I would have voted for Clinton. Though the republicans are just as bad at playing political pawns.

        I doubt Obama was a scholarship kid. His grandparents had money, last I knew. Sorry Ruadhan, but what got in the craw of the Republicans was less the scholarship kid part, and more a lot of things. It has less to do with race, than you think.

        They liked Condoleeza rice because she’s a kick ass woman. She does her job with class and panache. Obama comes across as whiny. Calling him out on it, isn’t racism or double standards.

        I also highly doubt that Obama is smarter than McCain. Who irritated the Conservative base and they didn’t vote for him. Romney also suffered from that as well. (they were being stupid and they continue to be stupid wanting the Goldwater candidate who can’t get elected and they ignore that Reagan was purty much a moderate)

        Sorry politics is something I love.


        • Actually, as can be easily discerned from the immediately previous mention I had made of Clinton, he attended uni on scholarship (though Obama did attend a prep school in Hawai’i on academic scholarship, according to Wikipedia, and I’m pretty sure he had also earned partial academic scholarship/s for uni, even if that didn’t fill even most of the bill).

          But hey, thanks for derailing this whole intended convo on the idiosyncratic system of privilege in the pagan community so you could stand up for Fox News and the GOP! I think you’ve hit just about every mark required for such a direction.

          As I said right at the beginning of this post, “privilege” is about being of a demographic that’s the assumed default –that doesn’t mean that you’re never going to be criticised, nor that other people are never going to get a leg up.


  4. Non BTW Wicca(and honestly, having been Eclectic Wiccan and gone through outer court Gardnerian stuff) is more recognized due to Llewellyn and Azuregreen. I think recently is when they started offering statues and I think we can thank Oberon zell for that.

    I’m not sure it’s political so much as it is a marketing issue. There are more newagers and fluffy bunny people than there are harder polytheists. There are actual stores that you can get the stuff from and up price to sell. Outside of etsy, who supplies the harder polytheist stuff?

    It is harder to get more then just Wiccan 101 stuff in bookstores, because again, it goes back to marketing. Barnes and Noble are more likely to buy from Llewllyn then anywhere else. If you want them to carry other books, you need to let the buyers know, so they will stock it. An email campaign may help that btw.


    • I’m not sure it’s political so much as it is a marketing issue.

      The political always has a part in it, especially when considering small demographics that lack systematic privilege –like anyone who isn’t Christian, or Jewish or Muslim, and especially those who aren’t Christian.


  5. If you want the overculture(sigh) to know you, you have to get up and talk to reporters. It’s why the media will go to Lady liberty league and Selena fox over say Sannion. They have put in the time to make the contacts, so if they want good media attn, they get it. A good person to look to in how to court the media is Princess Diana.

    Keep in mind, that reporters have to sell stories. They are more likely to print ‘sensational’ pieces then those that aren’t. The racist Polytheists sell more than, my local Tyr chieftan does btw. The if if bleeds it leads is very prominent in journalism. Which btw is the biggest issue with Fox news(and I don’t mean their opinion pieces at night), they are sensational.


  6. I hear this and can only agree that: no most of the time the diversity you speak of isn’t effectively represented in any pagan community I have been a part of, but it also brings up my feelings of frustration at trying to find people who aren’t one flavor of Wiccan or another. I am located in central PA (not the most diverse place in the US by any standard) however, there is a small “pagan” community that over the years has tried repeatedly to gather out of the mists and become a sort of cohesive whole. I took part in one of the most recent attempts to gather pagans of any sort available for some simple non-religious flavored socializing and one of the things that I found most frustrating about the entire experiment was that the only people who stepped up to help or even simply participate were all Wiccan flavored. We looked high and low for re-constructionists or other Pagans of any sort: Hellenist, Heathens, Santeria practitioners any one who had any willingness to gather with us….. The closest we ever got was an ADF wanna be, a lone Hermetic/Golden Dawn Initiate, a “Christo-Pagan” with past experience in Wicca, Santeria and and interest in Alchemy, and one woman who dabbled in Shinto – sort of…… every now and again an Asateru (forgive me I can not for the life of me spell the word) would show up for five minutes, grab a snack, talk to no one, and then leave but we never had more than two of any of them at a time and it was only ever the more Wiccan flavored of the group who showed up to help plan. And forget about getting any of them to give an intelligent presentation on their practice! Even when discussing holidays they disappeared most of the time! So if we wanted to hold something like a holiday fair we were stuck with the choice of either sending Wiccan’s to surf the web and search the libraries for whatever paltry information they could glean on other Traditions and try to piece together some sad, usually wrong, presentation or simply do our best to do what we did know how to do and attempt to be welcoming to people who didn’t follow a Wiccan faith. We quickly decided that simply presenting the things we knew and erring on the side of not getting someone else’s religion laughably wrong in public was the lesser of the two evils. It is not diversity if you are butchering someone else’s sacred rites/texts!…..

    I guess I bring this all up to say that if we are ever going to achieve the kind of true Pagan diversity in representation that you are all wishing for, and that most of us would prefer, then the people who follow non-Wiccan traditions are going to have to step up and begin participating in, if not leading, a lot more public gatherings and writing accessible primers on their particular flavors of paganism. (self publishing is a viable thing these days!) It is true that Wicca is wide spread because it has been publicized but even more so because it has been made into tiny bite sized little publicly consumable bits. Hell they even have a “Wicca for Dummies” Book on the market! To my disappointment I have never found a primer on “How to become” a Hellenic Reconstructionist. I share your disappointment in the representation of Greek and Celtic deities in “Pagan” art but unless people who share our perspective on them begin making art and putting it on the market (places like Etsy are a great tool in self marketing said items) we have no hope of finding it any where. Not all Wiccans are oblivious to the lack of diversity in practice but unless we can meet and get to know pagans of other flavors we can’t do anything about it on our own….. It is like Christians trying to be inclusive of Buddhists they might truly want to do so but if no Buddhists show up then either some of them are going to have to convert and then come back to the church (not likely) or they are going to get some stuff horribly and offensively wrong and chase off the Buddhists they are trying to include!

    So if you follow a non-Wiccan pagan tradition and want to have your group more represented then step up and use whatever skills you have to represent yourself! The newer generation of Wiccans, at least the ones I know, would love to live the diversity they were promised as newbies as much as you would! If you are a good teacher or writer publish a Primer; If you are an artist make accurate depictions of your deities or practices and put them up for sale; If you are a good public speaker speak out; If you love to plan gatherings or large rituals find some friends, advertise on the internet etc and put on a tiny local Pagan Fair! No one can promise you’ll get any large response but the more often those types of things happen under the leadership of non-Wiccan pagans the more the community at large will be able to see and understand you and the more chance you will have to be included in a more effective way!


    • I’ve written six books, have a blog and a column at Patheos.com’s Pagan Channel, present at least two events at PantheaCon yearly since ’07, and am quoted regularly on The Wild Hunt’s “Pagan Voices”–and yet, does anyone mention the Ekklesia Antinoou more than they did five years ago (outside of Jason on The Wild Hunt, perhaps around late October)? Not really…
      When some of us make as much of an effort as we do, and yet are ignored and then get told that we need to “step up” and get involved and put our stuff out there more, it just reinforces how privileged the Wiccanate position is.


    • I live in the Twin Cities, sometimes nicknamed “Paganistan” for the size of our communit(ies) I have heard a long-time organizer discuss her experiences going out of her way to find and include non-Wiccan groups and usually not hearing back. Sporadically we have had non-Wiccan involvedment, but it comes and goes.
      I have been involved in (or aware of) multiple efforts to organize an ADF grove that have all failed due to people being too spread out in the urban sprawl (and belonged to another Druid grove that broke up mainly for reasons of geography) And as you said, Druids are probably the second biggest pagan religion (or cluster) We may just have to start moving closer together.

      I think there are also secular politics & culture in the mix- some reconstructionists tend to be more socially conservative compared to many “mainstream” Neo-Pagans- though “socially conservative” in those circles can just mean not ok with things like clothing optional festivals and polyamory- and just plain being more conventional.
      Though I know many very liberal, radical, alternative/countercultural recons & culturally focused polytheists, we do have a more traditional worldview that is at odds with the hyper-individualism “if it feels good do it” mentality that regardless of how countercultural people may claim to be is, is quite in line with aspects of consumerist capitalism.


  7. I attended such a theoretically pan-Pagan gathering recently, at which the main ritual was organized by a group of Hellenic Pagans. The most common feedback afterwards? When we danced, we circled in both directions, and some of the “diverse” attendees were troubled that we’d done it “the wrong way.” It was adequately explained afterwards, but I was told that such a thing could have been avoided by doing a better job of explaining what was to occur. In truth, there WAS a clear explanation of what was to occur (including the sacrifice of a goat pinata, and what it represented), but there was no explanation of what was NOT going to occur, specifically, that “circling” was merely incidental to the thusia, and not an attempt to raise energy. I don’t think the Hellenists really should have had the burden of considering every aspect which was not Wicca-normative and covering it in advance, but the Wiccanate (and I love that word!) just didn’t see it that way.


  8. Ruadhán, I’m posting here first because I believe it’s just appropriate. I don’t like FB on general principle. I opened a Live Journal account kicking and screaming, and followed the tide to FB having run out of voice.

    Anyway: I won’t attempt to argue (or show agreement on!) specific points. I have observations which I hope you will confirm or correct as you see is indicated.

    I wouldn’t have needed your posts on Bianca’s wall to see how strongly you feel about this subject. Your passion is ubiquitous throughout, and it is with that in mind — including a strong respect for it — that I phrase my comments as neutrally as I can.

    First, a friendly offering: You’re shouting into the wind. Human history, let alone that more recent chunk of it most present to our awareness, is rife with privilege as the first description of relationships at every level. It’s not going away any millenium soon. It is a worthy effort, taken up by too few too rarely. Fight the good fight, but please don’t forget to take breaks and keep an eye on your blood pressure. No sarcasm implied or intended. Such things tend to sneak up on us. I think of my own burnout experiences as a lesson others can benefit from.

    Your view of a Wiccan “monopoly” (I’m still wrapping my mental hands around “Wiccanate Privilege”, no disrespect intended) is from my POV accurate. I am not able to offer you more than intellectual sympathy over it, however, because I can only vicariously understand your personal motivations. I’m an aging member of that overculture privileged class you described. I am a strong feminist, but that doesn’t mean I fully understand everything. But mostly I’m a natural solitary; more on that later.

    Given my limitations along with a very strong aversion to dogma of any sort, I find a simpler description/explanation more satisfying: Occam’s Razor I believe points to chronology and longevity as a primary reason for Wicca’s highest profile and lion’s share of cultural markers like books. Druidry from my POV is a close second in all the simple markers of chronology, longevity and public profile. Heathenry is next. I believe in time that all three will share a common spotlight, or perhaps slowly cycle each one across it.

    There’s just one thing, which alternately puzzles me and makes me grind my teeth: by all accounts and measurements, solitaries as a category remain by far the majority. I considered them my constituency as an organizer and activist. I know they’re out there but they never found their way “out” to me or to my calls for their participation.

    My final point for this post is mostly a personal one which may serve to clarify my other points a bit. I call myself a modern Pagan. My practice is shamanic but I do not claim nor accept the label “shaman”. I do energy work of the highest order (whatever the hell that should mean) that feels very similar to the work of Wiccans I’ve personally witnessed, but I don’t call it magic (or any alternate spelling thereof) and I work without a net (as I used to tease Wiccans of my acquaintance with quips like “so, still using training wheels, eh?”). I’ve been given the label chaos mage, and I’ve found no reason to reject it or deny it as accurate. But, over the years I’ve discovered the value in ritual and working with others, and in that time I’ve found that 9 out of 10 of my opportunities to do so have been Wiccans, the tenth being Druids. I intend to beg some Heathen friends to help me better understand their beliefs.

    Bianca has a specific query in mind for me to answer, which I’ll post to her wall; I invite you to consider it a continuation of this one.


  9. I am going to write something touching on much of what you’ve written here soon…so, I’ll probably be linking to your piece here.
    I am reminded of the first PantheaCon I attended in ’07; I wanted to make a good impression and mix with the many different types of pagans present, and thus attended both the opening and closing rituals for the whole con’. (Both were extremely basic…but inherently Wiccanate.) I’ll save my story about the opening ritual for another time; but at the closing, we all went around a big circle and said what we liked best, and then the person present from the furthest to the North, South, East, and West were asked to dismiss the appropriate quarter. As I was the northernmost person, I did North, and was the first one to go. We were told to do it however we liked, and so I did it in dual Ekklesia Antinoou and gentlidecht fashion…to an enthused accompaniment of complete and utter dead silence. But, everyone else did the usual Wiccanate “Hail and Farewell!” to each quarter, and was echoed enthusiastically by most others present.
    So much for respecting and being interested in diversity, eh? Bleh…


  10. When some of us make as much of an effort as we do, and yet are ignored
    and then get told that we need to “step up” and get involved and put our
    stuff out there more, it just reinforces how privileged the Wiccanate
    position is.

    I’m reminded of a similar parallel to the GBLTs on Tumblr who frustratedly have pointed out for months now, no, Macklemore is far from the first rapper to write of “the GBLT experience”, that homocore rap has been a thing for over twenty years, and people who’ve been doing it have honestly tried to be heard outside a tiny corner of the GBLT community pretty much the whole time, and yet no-one cared about rappers who might have a pro-GBLT position, until some cisgender, heterosexual white man did it. The blame is always put onto the homocore rappers (who, in my experiences, are more often Latin- or African-American) to “get their work out there, if they want to be heard”, you know, cos somehow it’s some great wisdom that some spoilt kids on Tumblr need to bestow on people who’ve been in the business, struggling to be heard longer than said kids have been alive, something these rappers have somehow never thought of before. [eyeroll]

    Yeah, if you’re not going to put out the effort to be heard by others, then don’t complain when no-one listens –that is very simple logic, and in a lot of cases, it works that if you make barely enough noise, you get heard. But then there are positions one can take that seems to be a cue for others to put on their mufflers and be complete donks, tell you that you somehow aren’t doing enough to be heard and thus you have no right to complain that no-one wants to hear you. Few have busted their arse for polytheism’s voice more than yourself, and yet it somehow doesn’t surprise me that even in the supposedly “diverse and loving it” pagan community, you get as little real support as you still do. I admit, it makes sense at first —this is something strange and different, indeed barbaros to the Wiccanate way of doing things, and it may take some getting used to seeing, even if it’s not a way they may ever intend on adopting, but you’ve been taking an active role for years, and i know the complaints that Hellenists have against the pagan community goes back at least ten to fifteen years, Heathens since the 1980s…. Polytheism shouldn’t still be news to people, but I guess it’s as new to some pagans as the notion of gay rights to some hets who didn’t pay attention until ACT UP demonstrations hit the news in the mid-80s (speaking of which, dead serious, I once saw someone on a local pagan e-mail list try and refuse an argument I made by saying “well, by your logic, gay people didn’t exist until the 80s, because no one was ‘out’ until then, there was only rumour” –which you and I both know is a complete crock, which just goes to show how education, even what passes for it in the popular media and not just what goes on in institutions of learning, is geared toward the privileged segments of a culture).


    • Indeed, indeed…
      And: wow!?! That floors me…I mean, even forgetting Stonewall that was 11 years before the 80s began (or 10 1/2, if you want to get really technical!), but there were people before that, too…the Uranian Poets in Britain, for example, the Order of Chaeronea, the Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, all of those Germans, etc. Crikey…


      • Rimbaud, Edna St Vincent Millay, Derek Jarman, Quentin Crisp, countless ancients who were essentially bi-/pansexual by modern standards (and examples in art that basically go back to the Mesolithic), Mattachene Society, Daughters if Bilitis, 18th Century Molly houses, Imre: A Memorandum

        And since you mentioned those Germans, were you aware that, possibly the oldest surviving film (well.. surviving in fragments totalling less than an hour) to be sympathetic toward homosexuality Germany’s Different From the Others, released in 1919 (and starring Conrad Veidt, whose other famous silent works were The Man Who Laughed and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari)? Most of the film history buffs I know, and not to mention esteemed film historians, still can’t really explain how that one wasn’t completely destroyed by the Nazis, but what remains of it is something I’m very grateful for –not just as a silent film buff, either.


  11. I certainly agree this is a problem (anyone within pagan radar with critical thinking skills should!), and a growing number of Wiccan and Wicca-like Pagan leaders have been acknowledging and trying to address it. I think “dominance” would probably be a better term than privilege per se- no one is getting abused, enslaved etc. over being a non-Wiccan Pagan. This has gotten somewhat better over time, especially as more have become non-Wiccan pagans/polytheists directly. But I think its going to remain a big problem for quite some time, as well as the dominance of white perceived pagans.
    Subgroups who are in the majority/plurality have to make a really conscious, concerted effort to be aware and empower the non-majority, to take a step back from the spotlight. There is also a tendency to not notice others outside of ones’ social group, even if they are strongly advocating for themselves and their inclusion.

    I also think we should just forget the “neutral” rituals at Pagan pride and other such events- you could have a secular opening ceremony, with an opening keynote,
    Also being UU, I could say the same of most UU “worship” services. The difference is UUs (in the U.S.) have an organizational structure and a (albeit loose) philosophy and value system, and history that ties us together. The cacophony of self-identified pagans doesn’t have any of those things.

    My blog: http://www.paganleft.com


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  13. Wow! Thanks for your comment. I can’t believe I forgot to respond, even forgot you made it until I saw your recent post link back.

    …but yes, it just floors me that, for how much the Pagan community likes to talk about all the diverse paths represented “under the umbrella”, this amounts to little more than lipservice, and there’s an overwhelming expectation to do and say things geared toward the (ostensibly) Wiccanate majority at large events like Pantheacon.


  14. Wow, very astute observations and explanations. What you say about racism, sexism, gender identity discrimination, sexual preference discrimination, etc., plus about “Wiccanate privilege,” is all spot on. For myself, each time I try to describe my polytheist point of view and practices to those in the Pagan Community over the years (since the 1980s!) I usually end up exhausted. But I keep doing my best. I just keep talking about all this, keep on bringing it up, keep on pointing out these ridiculous inequalities, and never EVER give up. Good post, Ruadhan. I loved reading what you wrote, identifying with it, and am very glad you are speaking up here.


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  16. Pingback: Being a Privileged Pagan

  17. “And ADF really seems to have more in common with Wiccanate paganism than it has with Celtic Reconstruction than some people want to really believe, even though it does seem to generally be a recon-friendly group.”

    I can attest that ADF is a middle ground between CR and Wiccanate paganism as described here. ADF values scholarship like CR, but a bit more lenient. More about practice over authenticity, though they stress a value in knowing the authenticity.

    “Many simply learn that their local community will NEVER cater to their needs, and wants no suggestions on how to accommodate them, so they drop out of the broader pagan community and keep to their own practises and whatever semblance of their own religion’s community they can get, even if it’s only on the Internet.”

    I was of this opinion for a while, to be honest. I attended a “pagan” event only to learn it was NeoWiccan-based and heavily duotheist. I’m a Gaelic Recon Polytheistic who celebrated my festival to my god Lugh with no trace of tradition elements (celebrating Lughnasa without even bread…) The group, prior to my attendance, never heard of hard polytheism.

    However! I’m slowly thinking of ways to make the group more open to me. My friend I met through the group is trying to be less NeoWiccan (or, at least, not inherently so) and we’re doing an Imbolc ritual that will be closer to the Gaelic Festival than the NeoWiccan holiday of the same name. We’ll be honoring Brigid, having a community fire, etc. I’m excited.

    I also conversed with some other friends who share in my grievances of wanting to have a communal celebration without being erased and we came up with a ritual outline. Perhaps it is time for me to post it on my blog…

    Anyway, thank you for writing this. I hope this continues the conversation about “Wiccanate Paganism.”


    • So, you link me to a post that actually says that discussing “racism” is useless when compared to discussing “white supremacy”, after you decide I’m some irredeemable racist? Cute!

      Furthermore, the writer of that article, while certainly articulate in their thoughts and ideas, also has the audacity to dismiss binary sex and gender and (ostensibly hetero-)sexuality as “made-up privileges”, when people lacking that experience will tell you it’s not (while I agree that “Western”, “monoracial”, “cis-ethnic” and “vanilla” are all false privileges that simply didn’t exist until dumb-dumbs on the Internet decided that “feeling left out” was the same thing as oppression).

      Furthermore, you clearly missed the several points in my piece where I pointed out that making the comparison was tacky, but simply something I chose to do to explain how, within the pagan community the supremacy of Wiccanate paganism works –do I think that it’s at all comparable to how racism works outside the pagan community? Of course not, but hey, it’s clearly better to berate people than engage in a dialogue.

      Clearly, your only interest is shutting down any and all dialogue. Goodbye.


  18. BTW — I know it’s not the main subject of this post — but you talk about how many issues like queerophobia present in the world at large are still alive-and-well in the Wiccanate-dominated pagan community (I used to use the term “Wiccan and/or near-Wiccan” but “Wiccanate” is more concise) —- I just wanted to point out one thing about my experience as a woman of transgender experience —– some groups will *love* you for being trans as long as you are okay with them imposing on you their fantasy of what the trans experience is all about – – – but the moment you assert that your reality does *not* match their fantasy, you are met with hostility.


    • Oh, I agree with that, too! Yeah, I’ve noticed that to some extent in the polytheist community, as well, *but* the polytheist community in general seems to have a higher rate of people who can and will call out that kind of busted nonsense and say “look, if that’s not your experience, don’t speak to it,” or “it may be your narrative, but what about those trans/g&l/queer/disabled/of-colour sorts who *don’t* have that experience? theirs is just as valid as your own.”

      Which I think speaks to an underlying problem in the pagan community that polytheists are actually working to avoid in our community: Pluralism and differences in not just the Divine but *all* experiences are truly cherished in the polytheist community, whereas the pagan community is obsessed with the few things that people may have in common, which is essentially a basis for monistic thought. Where the pagan community sees differences, even the very real and absolutely important differences as something that can drive people apart and cause conflict, the polytheist community has so-far seen an eagerness to truly celebrate the differences between one’s own and others’ beliefs, religious practises, and other experiences as not only something worthy of acknowledging, but something that we can support each-other in because it’s not what drives us apart.

      Which really says something, i think, about the origins of the pagan community: The Holy Roman Empire attempted to “unify” Europe under Christianity. The Roman Catholic church seeks to be a “universal” form of Christianity (the word “catholic” literally means “universal, only”). This has been done, historically and through missionary work that continues to this day, but eradicating everything that is clearly not Christianity/Catholicism –it is by eradicating differences and forcing the indigenous religions into the Catholic mould (and catholicism eventually adopted that model upon realising that it simply cannot eradicate the native religions of the lands, too many people will cling to it, so they repurpose some local deities as Saints or allow for certain levels of syncretism). By eliminating the differences in the world’s religions, Christianity seeks to conquer. Now, Paganism doesn’t go quite that far, but for a lot of polytheists, it’s a bit too close for comfort; by even just simply ignoring the differences between the religions, so much beauty and richness is neglected in favour of something that’s just kinda bland, and that’s where “big tent paganism” doesn’t work for a lot of polytheists.


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