I’ve so thoroughly embraced the idea of the equality and validity of ALL spiritual paths… that I’d forgotten not everyone feels the same way.
I’ll be honest. I hate the word “bigot”. In the dictionary, it is defined as:
noun, a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially, one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
The reason I hate the word is that I often see it being used by someone who is very effectively sticking themselves into the same definition.
To judge another person’s path is to assume superiority of your beliefs, regardless of what parts and pieces of their path you have a problem with. A religion that doesn’t break the law, cause violence to others, or force conversion upon others deserves to be respected as a valid path. Respecting a path doesn’t have anything to do with agreement.
I respect Christianity, but I can’t stand the (haha) bigotry and hypocrisy of fundamentalists (who, unfortunately, are the most vocal).
I respect Asatru, but I don’t like that some groups are basically religious white supremists.
I respect Dianic Wicca, but I happen to love men in many fields of my life. My subservient personality would probably cause frowns anyway, because I’m supposed to be a powerful woman… little do they know the power a sub holds!
I respect traditional Wiccans, but I happen to feel that Wicca has evolved to become something more organic and fluid than what they hold as “true” Wicca. The arguments over semantics drive me crazy!
I respect Satanists, but I feel like many of them are only Satanists for the “OMG!!” factor. I actually agree with many aspects of Satanism, especially from the branch that isn’t ritual-based like LaVey’s version.
I respect Atheists, but I personally feel sad when I meet true believers that this is it. I feel like they’ve either been hurt badly or have found comfort in a science-only world. If they’re hurt, I wish they could find hope and happiness in something; many are so pessimistic it’s frustrating. If they’re science-focused, I feel like they’re failing to recognize that science is working on catching up to religion (look at research on auras, energies, and so forth).
I respect the path I just left, the Equitas Veneficii. But I personally feel like magick should be in every breath, and taught as such. I love the “equal truths, equal magicks” aspect, but I can’t match my beliefs on magick and its uses to those of the EV tradition.
These are examples. I’m a bigot in that I become “one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance” when talking about, well, bigots. I accept that judging them makes me that which I judge, and I try to remember to live and think and speak with love.
A Moment as the Devil’s Advocate
Much of this blog is sparked by the online outrage over Z Budapest at PantheaCon. I’d like to take a moment, even as a supporter of a woman’s right to be a woman by birth or by making, to make a magickal point about genetic-women only rituals.
In her book “Skin Spirits”, Lupa discusses her thoughts on the energies in a skin of an animal. She says that each little scrap holds power, because in a way every since cell holds a bit of the animal’s essence within it. That means having full-body dancing skin of a wolf is wonderful and powerful, but having a pinch of wolf fur in my pouch will provide just as valid of a connection to the wolf. It will not, however, connect me to the bear, skunk, or cat. It is wolf fur.
Along that line of thinking, a genetic woman’s very cells hold a different energy and life force or essence than a man’s. Surgery, hormones, and other methods of becoming a woman don’t change the DNA of the person. So technically, it is reasonable that some magickal practitioners might see a non-genetic woman as being magickally incompatible with their women-focused ritual.
Forget fairness, or whether you agree or disagree for a moment. Is it at least plausable that someone could believe this without it being “I hate transgendered people”? Is it possible that the issue could be focused on how the energies and life essence of a non-biological woman would affect a ritual?
I can see this as a possibility. I don’t agree with it, and I’m not sure it actually has anything to do with how DNA and magick are interlinked. But I accept that people have their reasons for their decisions. As stated above, I respect their right to ban non-genetic women (or in another ritual on men’s mysteries, to ban non-genetic men). I don’t have to like it, but I remind myself of this:
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost. – H. Jackson Brown