Paganism and Diversity – a reply

Before reading my reply below, please read the article When is Diversity Too Diverse?” It’s on Witchvox, right on the home page. I was so… upset? disconcerted? disheartened?… by the author’s callous attitude toward mental illness and social diversity that I had to write her a reply. See below:

I thought long and hard about whether or not to write you after reading your article. You had some valid concerns, but your approach seemed more judgmental than empathic. Please hear me out?

Paganism holds a huge diversity of people, because we don’t discriminate. In a world with many wounded people, empowering traditions and practices often draw those who have never been empowered. That includes the mentally ill.

I don’t believe that working with the mentally ill as your “bread and butter” gives you a free pass to label them as “crazies”. As someone suffering from anxiety yourself, you should recognize that even “humorous” mentions of insanity can taint the way people look at those who suffer from life altering issues like anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, etc. I don’t see sympathy or empathy in your article, but instead find myself upset at your lack of tact and understanding.

My own coven requires disclosure of mental illness, but it doesn’t auto-exclude anyone. If a seeker is sincere, our high priestess works with them, often guiding their spiritual growth while assisting them in finding medical assistance. A bipolar student may be accepted with the condition that she see her doctor as scheduled and took her meds; she could be placed on probation if non-compliance became an issue. She could also do amazingly well after the support and love of our local community.

As for the license issue, it is absolutely not abnormal to find adults close to 30 without a license. State laws have changed the way licenses are obtained, requiring driving school if you’re under a certain age. High schools have stopped many driver’s ed programs, leaving people to learn to get around via public transportation and carpooling. It’s a privelege to be freed from that and have access to a license and your own vehicle; as someone who didn’t have a license until age 24, I completely empathize with someone who struggles with getting around with the aid of others.

There is no logic in judging the inclusion of people outside of the norm… in a religion that is outside of the norm. The reason people decide to “flaunt” their other-ness (LGBTQ, pagan, goth/punk, etc.), especially at conventions and festivals, is knowing that they are in sacred space. Those public gatherings are supposed to be judgment-free zones, where community coalesces into a rainbow of differences and similarities. It is just as okay to be “normal looking” as it is to be purple-haired and full-body tattooed. To each their own, if it harms none.

After all, I’m a 28-year-old mousy haired woman who wears blouses and jeggings all the time. I don’t do colorful hair or gaudy jewelry, nor does anything about me even whisper “pagan” unless I purposefully dress the part for ritual. But that’s my decision to look “normal”. I’m also depressed, but that makes me no less of a witch or a human; in fact, my coven is the support system that keeps me going during the hard times.

Acceptance is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s also overrated. Pagans as a lumped-up group are generally accepted (be it begrudgingly sometimes, like here in Texas) thanks to pop cultural updates and social outreach (ever read a Samhain article in a local paper? If not, reach out!). We don’t need to act vanilla or fit in, in order to achieve acceptance. Think of religion like coffee: some people like it black without frills, others like it as a superfrappelappe mocha with extra foam. I’m a latte girl myself, but I don’t police the coffee choices of others; it’s their cup to drink.

I looked at your listing for your group, and you have every right to filter out those who would be a bad fit. We do the same in my circle, because cohesion is important for magical practice. However, I hope you will remember that there are people who, like me, could be sitting at a computer, maybe depressed or too anxiety-filled to go out in public, maybe looking for a connection… only to read about how “crazies” like them just aren’t good for the pagan image. Talk about disheartening!

I love reading articles and blogs from other pagans, hearing different points of view and new practices. And I like your writing style, other than the tone directed at the mentally ill; I’d love to see you write about your experiences, your favorite season, a pagan tool you absolutely adore. Anything!

I know my words won’t necessarily make you think, but I can hope.

Let Us Mourn

Before you turn the Fort Hood shooting into a political point that fits your personal views on guns, mental health care, or the military, try to remember the people.

People lost their loved ones last night.

Read that again.

People lost their loved ones last night.

I’ve lived in the Killeen/Fort Hood area since 2008, so I’m no stranger to this media disconnect. It’s so easy to focus on the attacker(s) and forget the victims. Reading my Facebook feed pissed me off.

“Oh look, having all those guns around in Texas sure did protect all those soldiers!”

“See, this is why we need better mental health care!”

“Well, that’s why they get for joining the Army. They’re all just a bunch of trained killers.”

Look, you ignorant mouthpieces! You just took a horrific event and made it your game, your way to one-up others over some perceived political point system.

It’s not about gun control. Do you realize how guns are kept on Army bases? They’re locked down. The Armoury is located in a guarded, secure building that only designated personnel can access; soldiers sign out weapons for training exercises and duty shifts only. Soldiers are not allowed to carry around personal weapons, period.

It’s not about mental health care. Do you even know who did the shooting yet? No! How can you assume this person had PTSD or any other mental problem? Maybe the soldier shot peers who had teased him, or maybe he had a bad relationship that fell apart. Maybe he decided to shoot others after he realized he was cornered with a bunch of trained military personnel.

It’s not about the Army. All military branches are taught combat, largely so they can protect you from having to protect yourself. Do you realize how many positions in the military are purely support-based? There are clerical soldiers who run supply rooms and prepare inventories and orders for their base. There are various types of mechanics who keep the military vehicles up and running. There are healthcare specialists in fields ranging from hospital training to sanitation. They all learn how to protect themselves in a war zone, because they have to be ready to go fight your country’s battles. Whether you support the battles or not, soldiers are still fighting them on your behalf.

People lost their loved ones last night.

Your views on these issues, on gun control or mental health or the military, doesn’t undo the loss of lives here in Fort Hood. They don’t prevent bullets from piercing flesh or blood from leaving the body. Your views are a betrayal, salt in the wounds of our community.

Let us mourn before you grandstand over our corpses.

Just the newsie news

I woke up late this morning and rushed to work, just to arrive 10 minutes early. Today’s news update is JUST the news, and not much of it; there’s not a lot to catch my interest on a frazzled day like this.

 

Even Fox News Isn’t So Sure About Arizona’s Homophobic Bill

Enough said. Veto the bill.

When Are Cupcakes More Important Than Compassion?

This mother is missing the point. If we keep minimizing what’s allowed to happen in/at school as far as celebrations and parties, we remove the fun element of schooling as a whole. Between allergies, food intolerances, state testing, and political correctness there is very little left to enjoy about education.

Then again, I’m biased. I’ve known too many people who are “allergic” to things they just don’t like (shrimp, spinach, mushrooms) or things they’ve decided aren’t healthy (gluten, meat, dairy). Knowing they’re actually just lying to get people to avoid those foods for them makes me frustrated; I question everyone who claims an allergy until I can determine if it’s an actual allergy, an intolerance, or just a whiny brat.

For example: I’m willing to avoid nuts if they’ll make you itchy and swollen, but I don’t care if you don’t like the flavor/texture of them in a cookie. I’ll avoid dairy if it upsets your stomach, but I don’t care if you’ve decided milk is the devil’s nectar.

Why I Might Go Bald, and other newsie news

Today is one of those days where I’ve seriously considered shaving my head bald.

I brush my hair before I shower each morning, because I know it can tangle when wet. I also condition it thoroughly after it’s washed. This morning, even with my attempts to be pre-detangled, I ended up with a small bird’s nest knot in the middle of my hair. I fought with it for about ten minutes, adding extra conditioner and finger-combing it out.

In the end, I lost a chunk of hair (probably broken from the rest by the struggle). The whole thing made me wish I liked short hair. Ugh!

My hair is in timeout now, tucked into a loose bun to be ignored until later. My plans to try doing a cute, loose braid have died an irritated death.

While I fume over the difficulties of long hair, enjoy today’s newsie news udpate.

 

Eric Holder To State AGs: You Don’t Have To Defend Gay Marriage Bans

Random circular thought: If Arizona passes their law allowing businesses and individuals to refuse service based on religious feelings… and the Attorney General of a state decides it’s against his religion to judge others… then couldn’t he just refuse to provide service to the state as a defender of the gay marriage ban in question?

Thanks to our complicated legal system, there is technically a legal argument to support ANYTHING. Shoplifting… murder… vandalism… assault. Just because there’s something out there to construe as legally supportive of an idea or action doesn’t mean that idea or action is worthy of support.

Uganda Newspaper Names ‘200 Top’ Homosexuals After President Signs Anti-Gay Law

Any law that endangers or punishes an adult person for participating in non-harmful, non-violent activities with other consenting adults is a stupid law. Period.

Sometimes the West can be pushy about societal beliefs and standards, but we do have lines. We don’t accept child marriage, sexual violence, racial or gender suppression, incest, beastiality, or murder. The West refuses to accept another country’s decision to embrace any of those ideas. We also refuse to accept discrimination against people for being different, be it religiously, culturally, or sexually.

Protect Yourself From Secondhand Stress

This is the cause of many of my life decisions, including the choice to put off having a baby, leaving the coven, not writing my book, etc. Other people’s stresses really weigh me down, especially when I care about them deeply.

However, the good news is I’m learning to handle that stress more effectively. I accept it, breathe through it, and let it go; it’s not my life, so I literally have no control over the situation. Think “not my job, not my problem”.

Florida man delivers baby when doctor, nurses leave his wife alone in room

If you have to deliver the baby yourself, that means you get to avoid the fees that pay the doctor, right? Okay, I’ll be fair: If the doctor administered the medicine to induce labor, he can have half of the usual fees. However, if a nurse administered the drug… tough luck, doc!

This is an example of the shitty attitude some nurses take toward patients, too. Every patient is important, and a woman in the final stages of labor is just as important as a woman in need of a C-section; both women require assistance to deliver their babies, and having a nurse stay behind would’ve been the smart option.

Add this to the list of reasons why I don’t like hopsitals: disinfectant smells, exagerated prices, unnecessary prodecures and medications, bad attitude from the staff.

(Note: Our local hopsital had horrid nurses when my best friend gave birth a few years ago. If it were legal to have a gun in the hospital, they probably wouldn’t survive with their attitudes toward people in general.)

Dick Cheney: Obama Would Rather Spend Money On Food Stamps Than A Strong Military

How is this a bad thing? Our troops will never go without the equipment they need (vs want, like internet access). We’ve all seen the reports of new jets and ships immediately warehoused due to uselessness.

Why not feed the hungry? Why not help those who struggle to make ends meet? I mean, I’m not a Christian, but it seems like God would be more inclined to spend money on the poor than on war.

Draconian Abortion Restrictions Advance In Alabama Legislature

The only good thing about states trying to pass these kinds of laws is the fact they’re forcing the hand of the SCOTUS. The Court will have to side with the autonomy of women (not hosts) over these extreme attempts to prevent choice.

The problem is their approach. When you swing too far left or right, the Court is forced to rebalance the law (even if they don’t like it). So when states push so far right that they chip away at women’s rights and basic medical care in addition to abortion access, the Court is required to side with women and push the issue back toward center.

States could probably get away with 20-week bans, thanks to new technology and conservative judges. They could probably argue some regulations as necessary, even if their reasons are dubious at best. But banning abortyion at 6-8 weeks, when a woman might not even test as pregnant on your average pregnancy test? That’s unreasonable, hands down.

Style Regrets of the Past, and the newsie news

A YouTuber I watch sporadically did a video on styling regrets, and I was intrigued. The question was: What regrets do you have about your past hair, makeup, clothing, body mod, diets, etc.? Let’s take a trip down memory lane!

Hair Regrets: I regret letting my parents control my hair! I didn’t try many colors or cuts, largely because of my parents. My dad was very anti-unique; he hated colors outside of the blonde-to-brown range, which meant even moderate reds were out of the picture. Meanwhile, my mom discouraged me from almost every style I considered; I ended up with long straight hair that I parted down the middle and tucked behind my ears.

Makeup Regrets: I regret nothing. I only ever wore a bit of concealer over my acne and some moderate eyeliner. If anything, I guess you could say I wish I’d been more adventurous; however, I was too lazy to deal with the process of applying (and touching up) makeup every day.

Clothing Regrets: I regret bad bras! My breasts grew exponentially in high school, so I never had a good bra with a nice fit. I bought my cheap $8 things from the store and wore them until they died a sad, broken-wire death. I didn’t look bad or anything; I just remember never liking bras or bra shopping due to the lack of variety (bad in the day, before color was everywhere).

Body Modification Regrets: I regret not having more tattoos (I have one large one on my back and one tiny one on my neck). I’m too practical and always have been; I never could get myself to justify a trip to the parlor when I could pay off some of my credit card or tune up the car instead.

Dieting Regrets: I regret letting my ex-husband convince me to stop being a pescatarian. I had easily and gladly stuck to a seafood-only diet that strongly resembled a vegetarian lifestyle. My ex talked me out of it, explaining how silly I was to think it made a difference and how difficult I made it for him to get me lunch. I’ve tried going back off and on, but it’s never been as easy as those few years in school.

Other Regrets: I regret being so shy, and letting that affect my overall style. I chose to be lazy and do little with my hair, clothing, and makeup because I didn’t want attention. It was hard for me to change that as I reached graduation; the habit of blending in made any attempts to stand out feel like a lie. I wish I’d tried the various looks (goth, punk, sexy librarian, etc.) I thought were groovy long before finishing college.

Thinking back, it’s always interesting to see how much you’ve changed as a person from one decade to the next. Ten years ago, I was halfway through my junior year of high school in Germany. I was so full of life and excitement (my abusive relationship hadn’t started yet), and I had all of this energy bubbling up inside of me. I was blossoming into a beautiful person, though it would take several years of bad situations to get to where I needed to be.

And now, I’m here. Happy, fulfilled, loved, and alive.

Rick Perry: The Minimum Wage Is Not ‘The Government’s Business’

You know, Perry would be right… IF all of the states were like Connecticut ($8.70 state minimum) and Illinois ($8.25), or even like Colorado and Florida (around $8.00, but tied to cost of living). But most states stick to the bare minimums, as do employers. In the South, it’s especially true.

The reality is that states won’t do right by their people, so the government has to step in and make them change. It’s always been that way, from rights to wages to healthcare.

You know, I bet more than half of people here in the South would move north for better wages if they were sure of a job, money for the move, and a place to stay. There is nothing endearing about living in poverty just to be a Texan.

Frozen’s Secret Villains

I liked that the parents failed so badly. It’s more realistic than just having them out of the picture (i.e. dead) from the get go. Disney families are too perfect too often; we need to see that sometimes good people do bad things, and the definitions of good and evil aren’t so concretely defined.

Texas police chief apologizes for remark about jaywalking, sexual assaults

Rape culture is when a police chief puts a complaint against officers into “context” by explaining that the arrested female wasn’t sexually assaulted. Like, you can only complain about police behavior when it goes to the extreme. Like, rape during arrest is common enough to make this event barely “pass for a controversy” without a sexual assault. Like, it could’ve been worse, you stupid woman.

Students, say goodbye to snow days — and say hello to school at home

This is a great idea… in a world where everyone can afford both a computer and good internet access, and no storms manage to cut off the electricity. Unfortunately, we don’t live anywhere near that world right now.

In the future, though, I love the idea of self-paced, online educational opportunities (and not just for snow days). My roommate works with an online high school program, and there are students on an accelerated graduation plan who take a few classes online to finish everything a year early. Then there’s online summer school, allowing students to recover remedial credits. And finally, there’s the chance to experiment or keep skills sharp during the summer, all while earning credit.

Working for a college with a large online course variety, I see the benefits (and drawbacks) of online schooling. It can easily apply to high school, as well as middle school, without much adjustment. The real issue is finding self-motivated students with access to the web.

Virginia Republican Says A Pregnant Woman Is Just A ‘Host,’ Though ‘Some Refer To Them As Mothers’

Oh… my… GOPness…

There’s no other explanation for this other than blatant misogyny and stupidity rolled into a male wrapper. This guy doesn’t even pretend it’s about an innocent life or God’s plan; he goes straight for “you’re an idiot for getting knocked up, so deal with the consequences” attitude.

Men like him are the reason the media can still talk about the GOP’s War on Women. As long as the party accepts ignorance into their ranks, they’ll be defined by it.

Friday and newsie news

IT’S FRIDAY!!!

I could do a happy dance! Tomorrow is my friend’s birthday, so we’re going to Austin for a visit. I’m also getting some crafty stuff done for myself and others, including digital projects (like finally digitizing all of my pagan notes and poems this weekend).

Enjoy the weekend!

 

How Gap’s Minimum Wage Pledge Is Already Paying Off

When a business chooses to bump up their own minimum wage without being forced, they choose to bump up their social standing with some good PR. I don’t like or dislike the Gap (they’re just not my style), but this was a smart move in a world with a short memory and attention span.

Why Amazon’s Collaboration With the CIA Is So Ominous — and Vulnerable

Buy from other places, people! I’ve already promised myself some Etsy goods next holiday season (and birthdays), because I want to support small businesses and artists; this article just cements the need for creative present acquisition.

Also, please note: When you pay an artist or shop through Etsy and other online marketplaces, they get the majority of your money. When a customer purchased $50 of goods from Natural Nuances, we earned $47 after fees; there’s a difference between lining a CEO’s pockets and helping to pay someone’s electric bill. Support small businesses!

Okay, enough soapboxing. LOL!

Why Do Your Kid’s Allergies Mean My Kid Can’t Have a Birthday?

Being part of an allergy-suffering household, I get that food allergies are a thing. However, it’s getting ridiculous! If your child can’t eat human food, then you need to be responsible for providing options when everyone else is snacking. Not me, not the other moms and dads of the class. You.

If the “allergy” is actually just an intolerance, educate your child and roll with it. Seriously, if all they’ll get is a gurgly gut, it’s NOT a big deal to let them eat gluten or whatever.

And as a whole food lover, I’d be appalled to find my child constantly offered preservative-stuffed crap for birthdays and snack times. I’d probably just provide bananas and call it a day!

FDA Asked to Approve Creation of Genetically Modified Children

This reminds me of a book series… but I can’t remember the name. I remember that part of the plot had to do with some people choosing to make natural babies, and that wasn’t normal, or socially acceptable. The society had “evolved” to the point of selective biology, so extra DNA for athleticism, musical skill, and similar traits were all bought and added to embryos.

Then there’s Andromeda and the Nietzscheans. They were humans once, but they started selectively engineering more strength, agility, and skill into themselves (along with bone blades protruding from their wrists). Eventually, they stopped scientifically adding and changing themselves; instead, they started breeding for the best traits. Naming your lineage like a race horse was a standard greeting, and those with good blood mated more often than those of lesser lines.

I’m not saying we’re headed there. I’m just saying the thought has crossed our imaginative minds before…

Quick newsie news blurb, and a pep talk

^ This is for anyone else who needs to hear something nice. Somebody Loves You.

 

Between the 3-day weekend and my birthday, I’ve been away from work and a computer for what seems like forever! I don’t touch the news on weekends or vacations; I like to take a break from the less-than-friendly reality we live in.

That said, it’s crazy busy at work this week, too. We’ve just switched our website into a new version, and there are tons of (expected) bugs to be worked out. Added to that is the workload from my previous job, which falls on me until a replacement is hired. There’s a mound of transcripts on my desk and a couple of requisitions waiting to be processed between students.

Excuses explained, here is today’s (limited) newsie news.

 

Fort Hood Tears Down Site Of 2009 Massacre

I didn’t know they’d decided to tear down the building on base. The more logical option would’ve been to turn the building into its own memorial; however, it’s cheaper to maintain a gazebo and a couple trees than to pay for building maintenance.

When Job Interviewers Say I’m ‘Overqualified’ They Really Mean ‘Too Old’

I’m a age-ist. I get frustrated when training new employees who are older than my own mother, especially on work-related tech. In my personal experience, I’ve found myself more uncomfortable with older male coworkers; for example, one “gentleman” in his 60s was fired for sexually harrassing most of the female employees in our store.

It’s sad, but there are some jobs better left to younger people. Is a person over 50 able to be computer and tech saavy? Yes. Is it common? No. Having dealt with IT personnel in that higher age range, I can attest to the lack of flexibility. Often, I found my own solutions when frustration sent my IT guy packing; other times, I’d have all of my passwords and systems reset instead of the guy looking at the specific (small) issue I originally called about.

The trickiest question with all of the negative -isms is this: Is it discrimination if it’s legitimately true 99% of the time, or is it simply a reality?

Ex-Rep. Joe Baca Calls Congresswoman Who Beat Him ‘Some Bimbo’

Just a reminder: Asshats come in various colors, shapes, sizes, and political orientations.