Byron Ballard recently asked:
[A]in’t you people got no gods to worship? No holy days to celebrate? No Ancestors to deal with, er I mean venerate? In short — don’t you people have some sacred work to do? Justice work? Environmental work? Community weaving?
To which I’d only add: No landbase to relate to? No wights for whom to pour blots? No foxes to know?
Gods & Radicals (which has been doing simply amazing work and where the writing, qua writing, is generally first class — which is, you known, not something I say about many Pagan blogs, authors, or articles and, yes, I’m a real snob about writing) has a post up that shows what’s possible:
This week I performed a trabajito in the form of sigil writing and spell casting to protect the protestors who, at the time of this writing, are dangling themselves across the St. John’s Bridge and floating in kayaks below it to stop the Shell icebreaker ship Fennica from leaving [its] port and heading to the Arctic to assist in drilling for oil.
Why did I do this? It’s because I feet obligated to be involved in the struggle to save our planet. Like I feel obligated as a person of color to march in Black Lives Matters protest. I use my education, my citizenship status, my economic privileges and my light-skin passing privileges to further various social justice causes. So why wouldn’t I use my craft?
Many people are abhorrent to getting involved in politics. This is true for pagan communities too. I don’t mean this as a call out but I know many pagans and witches who have remained silent on issues of white supremacy, racism and homophobia even when it comes from other pagan communities.
I am a witch, I am a person of color, and I am queer. I know what it feels like to be physically attacked, to be systemically oppressed, and to be silenced.
The adage rings true once again for me: the personal is political. I believe that not taking a stance actually sides with the oppressor, or the systems in place that oppress us. There is no neutral ground here. Desmond Tutu was right.
So for me, my witchcraft will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.
The author, Tomás Ben-Sefis, explains that intersectionality is:
a feminist sociological theory as defined first by American scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw. Intersectionality’s basic premise is that a person’s experience cannot be understood separately, each category and context must be examined together to see the interactions of different identities. Basically, intersectionality studies the intersections of forms or systems of oppression, domination and discrimination. It is a cornerstone of critical theories work.
So why is this important for pagans? Well, as a marginalized group of people we also exist along many other lines such as ability, national origin, class, sexual orientation, gender etc. Our experience as pagans intersects and is affected by our experience as other kinds of people as well. In some cases, we may reinforce dominant cultural norms within our own pagan circles.
So, before you jump into the next on-line taking of Pagan umbrage, you might want to ask yourself what I am going to dub the Ballard Query:
[A]in’t you got no gods to worship? No holy days to celebrate? No Ancestors to deal with, er I mean venerate? Ain’t you got some sacred work to do? Justice work? Environmental work? Community weaving?
Is your Paganism intersectional or is it bullshit?