In the early days of Egyptology scholars took the attitude that a transcendent experience was only expected after death in ancient Egypt.This fit well with the predominant Judeo-Christian background of virtually all of them, as well as the desire to demonstrate their new profession could be as scientific as any others.But the record is plain as day that mystery schools flourished in at least the Late period, influencing other mystery cults all around the Mediterranean.Contemporary Egyptologist Jan Assman even goes so far as to assert that ancient Egyptians could not have developed their own mysticism because that it would not have been based on lived real-life experience.Really?!
I do love Assman’s writing, but as an unabashed mystic myself I am all too aware that close encounters with another kind of reality, one we often call “god” or “the divine”, happen all the time.It seems far more likely that Egyptians encountered this numinous, liminal reality enough times that they began to form, first mythologies, then theologies, around it.
There's been a lot of talk since PantheaCon in the blogsphere recently about Wiccanate privilege. I was not at PantheaCon, but to the best of my ability to determine, it is a general sense of being marginalized in the Pagan community that exists among a variety of Pagans who do not follow a path that resembles (at least superficially) Wicca. They feel that most "Pagan" rituals and gatherings are Wiccan-normative, and they would prefer that this assumption is not made in pan-Pagan ritual, conversations and gatherings. There have been some excellent articles on the topic; here's one at the Wild Hunt; here's one at Finnchuill's Mast; here's one by T. Thorn Coyle in regards to a controversial "Wiccanate" prayer she gave at the gathering; here's one at Of Thespiae (a Hellenic Reconstructionist blog); here's a couple by fellow PaganSquare writers Stifyn Emrys and Taylor Ellwood; here's a couple by fellow Patheos writers Yvonne Aburrow, Niki Whiting, Julian Betkowski, John Halstead and Jason Mankey atRaise the Horns; and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, writer of "Queer I Stand" at Patheos, has commented about it extensively around the internet though I couldn't find a specific blog post on the topic in my search (though e was at the conference). If you read all of these, you'll probably get a good handle on the many different sides of the issue and what various people's take on it is: and if you read the comments, it will be more informative still. If you haven't done so yet, do it; then come back here in an hour or three if you still want to hear my opinion. Don't worry, I'll wait . . .
Here's my thoughts as someone who identifies as a Wiccan: I think that those who are advocating for this are right! I think that most people, within and without the Pagan community, do assume that "Wiccanate" paths are the norm. And I do think we need to be more inclusive and accommodating in our language and form. No question about it! Our community is still small enough that I don't think we can afford to alienate each other. Let's try to get along in a climate of mutual respect.
Seven or eight years ago, I shocked a large group of my Pagan friends.I was at a small festival in Oklahoma that happened to take place during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.I was vending and teaching at this festival (as well as performing my first song) and knew most of the attendees very well.As we were cleaning the dining hall after dinner, I invited everyone down to my vendor table to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a drink of Irish whiskey.The look of horror on some of their faces was priceless.
Who gets the right to define you? To label you? Is that right solely your own, or does it belong in some measure to the culture with which you identify? I've considered this question for a long time, and I've concluded that there's no easy answer.
I've long been an advocate for the principle of self-identification: If you choose to identify yourself in specific terms, who are others to challenge it? But things really aren't that simple, are they? What about frauds who have ulterior motives for adopting a label? What about people who don't really understand what the label means?