Welcome back to Watery Wednesday, where we celebrate themes of community and cooperation around the globe. Join us this week as we talk about the community role of soul food, news about the Pagan Spirit Gathering, and the fight for justice within the Pagan community. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
The stories we tell have power. They teach. They influence the opinions and behaviors of ourselves and others. They influence how we experience our lives and the world.
Vivian Gornik wrote a great book for creative nonfiction writers called The Situation and the Story. It’s short, entertaining, educational, and I highly recommend it....
Womanrunes: The Tool. Rune of Labor. Production. Enterprise.
This is a rune of hard work. Satisfying labor. What are you unearthing? What are you digging up? What are you uncovering? What is causing sweat to drip from your brow, your cheeks to flush, and your heart to beat faster? This work can be dirty. It can be long, it can be hard. But, you can do it. You ARE doing it. Keep digging.
Remember too that others are doing their own hard work, unearthing their own riches, discovering their own treasures. What might you be missing in other people and how can you work side by side, turning over your deepness together?
This rune helps us recognize the ebb and flow and heave and swell of energy. Life energy. Time. Perspective. There is a time and place for production, for being focused on the doing rather than the being. There is a time for rest and a time for stillness and the key is recognizing the differences between these times and not forcing what is not ready to emerge. Then, when the energy peaks, the shovel comes out and the digging starts.
Go with it. Put your back into it, lift with your knees, bend with the wind. And, dig, sister. Dig deeply.
As a writer who prides herself on speaking truth to the powerful and uncovering inconvenient truths kicked to the curb by the patriarchal status quo, I wonder if other writers have also noticed the integrity lacking in the columns of so many colleagues? Is cowardly reporting a pet peeve of yours too? Do you share my disdain for shallow and unbalanced reporting? Like me, do you appreciate writers who really stick their neck out and get their hands dirty rather than playing it safe? Seriously, don’t we have enough sheeple?
For instance, when we have sports figures involved in domestic violence as they so often are or women being raped by their male counterparts in the military or we find out men who have killed women left behind writings showing their hatred of females, all too often writers will ask the question in their column, "What's wrong with our culture?" Interestingly, they don't ask the more obvious question - "What's wrong with some men in our culture?" Often it might even be the victim who is assaulted again in the media as writers avoid naming the real bully - so when did the press stop naming the real bully? Does the female writer not point to the obvious because she's afraid she'll be labeled an angry feminist in our patriarchal world and might get fewer jobs ? Is the male writer who ignores male domination and oppression in our society simply unaware of male privilege or is he being disingenuous? Is it okay to be a self-interested reporter or a columnist who skirts the actual underlying problems? Or should a writer's commitment be to delving deep and getting to the real issues, not just what's comfortable to speak out about? Should a writer challenge his audience and try to inspire her readers by sharing insights or facts, even if they might upset the proverbial apple cart?
Likewise in politics. I'm so tired of reading Democrats and Republicans are all alike. Surely that is a false equivalency. When it comes to social issues, it's not Demorats voting against the Consumer Protection Bureau, equal pay for women, extending unemployment insurance benefits, fixing broken bridges, or spending tax dollars to create jobs. It's not Democrats who are forcing women to be subjected to vaginal probes if they want an abortion or closing abortion clinics across Red States. It's not Democrats engaging in voter suppression or not signing legislation to help prevent domestic violence. It's not the liberals on the Supreme Court voting that corporations are people to allow rich Americans and corporations unlimited campaign contributions, effectively buying our country, or as recently as last week, giving corporations religious rights over employees. It's not at the Democratic National Convention where one sees only see white Christian faces peering back. It's not Democrats trying their best to do away with Unions that helped build the Middle Class, nor is it Democrats who are against raising the minimum wage. It's not Democrats who deny science, practice homophobia and always put corporations before people. I could go on and on but maybe you get the point. It's pretty obvious Democrats and Republicans are NOT the same, so why continue to perpetuate that false idea? We read this "false equivalency" description all the time. Are columnists not doing their homework to know better? Are they trying to be politically correct? Have they gotten lazy? Are they really partisan and pushing the propaganda of one party over another under the guise of being fair and unbiased? Even my beloved Jon Stewart played this game once, presumably in an attempt to help dispel polarization among people, but isn’t it a disservice to low information voters who might not know all the aforementioned points and turn to him for their news?
Authors are sometimes guilty of this kind of writing too. I can think of one in particular who writes about a particular woman of the Bible. She elevates the biblical woman and gives us new insight as she uncovers this biblical woman's story but she never has the courage to tell us who's responsible for disappearing this woman's story from history. Of course it might mean getting some Christians angry to learn the truth. So is this error of omission about self-interest? Does she want it both ways? She wants to tell about this biblical woman, but stops short of telling the whole story lest she ruffle some feathers and sell fewer books for speaking truth to power.
Unless we are writing fiction, what's the point of writing about important issues of the day or claiming to uncover secrets of the past unless you're going to tell the whole truth? What kind of writer do you want to be? One who makes a difference or one who plays it safe. If you're the latter, maybe you should stick to writing about celebrities, cooking and fashion. If you can’t name the real bullies on the playground, then go write children’s books. And if you’re being paid to promote a certain agenda, whether it be political, patriarchal, etc., then full disclosure should be shared or your omission compromises your integrity. At least that way you inform your readers you’re coming from a biased viewpoint. At least that way you won't perpetuate misinformation or waste valuable column space that might have been used by someone who could use their bully pulpit to educate, raise awareness and inspire some worthwhile conversation.
Know thyself and if you're a Goddess Advocate, find your sacred roar!
"Boat Book" by Catherine Nash
At the approach of the full Rose Moon (AKA the full Strawberry Moon) I have finally found some peace & quiet, having finished school (for now) and begun the slower pace of Summer. I’m looking forward to a great increase in writing time, as I have discovered that writing is a full-on passion and will most likely be my medium of choice for my life’s work. This passion has grown riotously in the past few years, and it seems I get to have a Summer bumper crop to harvest, and I am very happy about that. I have stories and poems fruiting and ripening inside me, and I know that growth is ahead for me, as I cultivate them.
I hope to proffer green and supple sapling poems, stories, and articles which readers can water with attention, and be rewarded with shade in which to rest, fruits to nourish them, and seeds to carry with them that may bring these gifts farther throughout the beloved world.
Those who read a lot of my work will know that the output has been a little bit slow over the last month or so. For the most part, I cite the holidays, a wicked cold, and a sick three month old for the distraction; it's really a hard time of the year to get anything done when you have a family, and the modern iteration of the black death doesn't help anything. Those who can read between the lines, however, may have seen an additional factor.
It's funny saying that I felt a little burnout lately, when I consider the size of my body of work. This becomes doubly true when I see some of the work that others do, which is sometimes both more energetic and more prolific. Still, that's the only was I can explain how I feel right now, and it wasn't the writing itself that stymied me; it was what I was writing about. Lately, I've done a lot of work and research on racist influences within Heathenry and Asatru, cross checking the references that the Circle Ansuz articles used when making accusations against the founder of the AFA, looking in to the ideology and philosophy of racist groups in general, deconstructing the Lokean issue, and trying to make sense of a Pagan community that tears itself apart on an hourly basis.
I have no regrets about any of this, because it good work. It drives me nuts sometimes, but I think it would drive me nuts more to leave it on the shelf. It would make me far more upset and distraught to do nothing about the problems I see. There is a beauty to demanding the best of ourselves and never being satisfied with an unsatisfactory answer. Still, it is not uncommon for me to write half of an article, grow dissatisfied with it, and cast it to the side. The issues I'm looking at are very complex, and I haven't been happy with what I've had to say or how I've had to say it. It's been very draining, to say the least.
Important work is often draining work. I've seen a lot of ennui amongst Pagan writers of all stripes as of late, and more and more I understand their moments of apathy and weariness. Where once I was confused at the large number of polytheistic bloggers who took a month off from the internet, now I completely understand. Battering against the shouting masses is rougher than you'll realize until you face it yourself, and keeping your equilibrium is a contest that never truly ends; you just keep going as long as you can until you get knocked down. Such a war of attrition, in of itself, can be infinitely frustrating.
The trick, then, is to get back up and keep going. To see these issues for what they are; obstacles, and not conquerors.
The work we do has great meaning. Every time we are read by Pagans and non-Pagans alike, we are less remote and more accessible. Every time we sit down to write of our spiritual experiences and beliefs, we make a better network of roads and pathways for those who come after us. With every word we make things better in some way, so long as making things better is our goal. Sometimes fights happen, and pointless arguments spring forth from the egotistically bruised or the antagonistically verbose. These are influences that cannot be truly bested, but they are annoyances that can be endured and ignored at our leisure.
I'm not going to say it's easy. In the myriad of shouting voices, it's hard not to loose your way. Recently, I saw a published writer question their own right to have their voice heard. It was bewildering, as this same writer was one who I had found a decent amount of inspiration from. It attacks all of us at some level, and it's important to remember that.
As the year closes, I hope that 2014 gives everyone the opportunity to do good work. Whether that's good work in the form of writing devotionals, investigative journalism, writing about their own praxis, something else, or all of that at the same time. Most of all, I hope that we all have the endurance to keep pushing through when things get tough.
It's a tough gig going out there and talking about spirituality and religion on the internet. Much harder than most people realize, and far more challenging than some of us give ourselves credit for. It's important work, and I'm glad we are out there doing it.