Monthly Archives: February 2012

Finding My Voice in Giving It to Others

I want to write about the gender issues that have been talked about almost ad nauseum since last year’s SNAFU with CAYA’s Amazons and Z Budapest’s vitriolic and hateful words, and how that all came to light and what a change that wound has become to the greater community.  But I am doing it from the place where I can.  Last year, I jumped into that fray as a witness to the Rite of Lillith, the aftermath, the planned and unplanned actions and I spoke often, long and LOUD about the need for civility in our words and language because spewing more hate and vitriol wasn’t going to get us as a community very far, if anywhere at all.

I wrote the following in the PantheaCon Facebook page, which can easily be found by going onto FB from your own acct and searching for PantheaCon.  At this moment, there appears to be an issue and I don’t know if my words will make it to the discussion or not on there, but they will live here.

(These words are written as a direct comment and thus have the bit in the beginning and reference earlier comments in that discussion.)

I realize that Thalassa and many other staff members have jumped in here and spoken and asked for this to be moved to a place where it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the other ideas surrounding Pantheacons for years to come. But, someone pointed out the PoC Caucus and that was mine (as in I put in the paperwork for it, and will continue to do so as long as there is a need for it) and I want to speak to what someone said about it and the larger things surrounding events like mine and Z’s and the trans issue because I was there last year, right in the middle of it all, and I remember very clearly the aftermath (and am still struggling to regain myself from all that, you have no idea how much vitriol was spewed on both sides of that fence).

Yes, the PoC Caucus was listed as PoC and allies; but really in the end, the only voices that were really heard, were from Pagans of Color. Allies who attended listened respectfully to our tales and our issues and our grievances and our triumphs, because as allies, they recognized that their main job isn’t to be the torch bearer for Pagans of Color, but to be BETTER allies.

When cisgendered people refuse to use terminology that isn’t vindictively attacking transgendered people, it doesn’t make for good allies. When cisgendered people ‘hate’ the term cisgendered, it doesn’t make for good allies. It makes for allies who refuse to see that transgendered people have to fight EVERYDAY for the right to use the correct gender pronoun. That is a matter of import, survival, and acknowledgement of who a transgendered person feels they truly are. Yes, some of us will just want to say you are male or female because you say you are, and that should be all that matters. Sadly, there are some who don’t see it that way.

Earlier, someone said that what the PoC Caucus was doing was self-segregating. In a way, that’s true. In another way, I have to ask: why wasn’t my room packed with allies? What fear did you have at coming into the room and listening to Pagans of Color? I didn’t say you couldn’t come in, hell, that’s the opposite effect I wanted SPECIFICALLY because I asked for allies.

As a genderqueer individual, who has struggled with being female-bodied and the minor privilege that gives me, it pains me to read Z’s words about my trans sisters and brothers, it also pains me to read people defending her hate speech and vitriol. She has the right to say, believe, and call to worship whomever she wants. But her history doesn’t make her immune to criticism for the hate speech she uses to get her point across. I did my Blood Mystery work, many years ago. I found that while it may hold some power and be evident to others, because I am a body that menstruates, there is more there that can be mined, and new treasures abound. There are many women who no longer menstruate (whether age, medical reasons, etc.) who would love to create a Mystery cycle in ‘mourning the loss of that blood’, I think that having trans Dianics and allies come together to create this Mystery cycle would be a new direction for Dianics that takes into consideration the great work done early on in the Dianic movement but also acknowledges the new direction it COULD branch into.

I struggle to remember, on a daily basis, that all sides in this issue deserve compassion, because we all are born into a world that has very little compassion to offer, but I do try. I recognize that Z is a person deserving of compassion, that the trans women and men she has insulted are also deserving of compassion, that the people who sit on the sides of this issue and don’t understand WHY it’s an issue, also deserve compassion. I fight to hold onto my compassion, when the insults are great, the pain is palpable, and the confusion abounds.

In discussing this topic, or any other topic that brings up strong emotions, I beg of my greater community, let civility carry the day.  /endcomment

This is the only voice I have to give, my own, colored by the brush of those who have no voice left, who have shouted themselves hoarse into pillows, against walls, in rage at not being heard.  I found that my voice has strength because I am a Pagan of Color, genderqueer, female-bodied individual.  I am capable of using this voice to speak compassion, because I need to speak to greater injustices amongst these groups I belong to.  This is what my work looks like, when it isn’t about me covered in blood and crying out for my Deities.  My work looks like others work in social justice, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.  Feel free to join your voice to mine, or not.

Wherein, I do admit. . .

I want to thank the people who showed up at Pantheacon this weekend for attending.  I want to thank you for carving that block of time from an amazing schedule line-up of over 200 different choices and coming to my lil ol’ things.

I hope I provided you with food for thought and consumption, opportunities to explore new avenues, or at the very least, a place to get off your feet for at least 90 minutes.

There was a lot of willingness to be bare and to open up to the others around us, a dropping of the shields as it were and in that moment, I saw Beauty.

I hope that if you have any questions or if there was something that you wanted to talk to me more about that you will drop me a line at Xochiquetzal.Duti@sacredprofanity.com, I enjoy hearing from people about the most random things but please be sure to use subject line: Pantheacon and then the presentation you were at so that I know where I have met you.  I work in a lot of different groups and remembering that much information, isn’t a skill I have.

Now, here is where I apologize if you didn’t receive what you thought you were going to when you read the program description, I can only do so much with the time allotted me.

I will be back next year, for one of the presentations: we will have a bigger room, and more time, and quite possibly (if I can play the cards and the Fates smile on me with the Norn’s blessings) a hospitality suite.  I am excited to start these new ventures!

Hope to see you again, next year!

Back from Pantheacon, the work continues.

I am sad to report that there is still no Olivia-cat.  I have amazing neighbors who are offering great ideas and lots of help to search for her and that luckily, there has been no deceased animal pick-up matching her description!  She hasn’t been brought in to the local shelters, but our hope is that she will be found soon.

I also want to take a moment to say that I have developed the infamously dreaded ‘con crud.  :(  Fighting for my health while looking for her has been a struggle but these things must be done.

I will be posting a big thank you in a few days for everyone who attended my workshops last week, along with the google group invite for the specific one that requested it.

I will say thank you! to all who attended.

Defining my practice in terms of my culture, or not.

So, as I prepare to moderate (at least, I hope it’s me moderating as opposed to presenting, though I’m prepared for that possibility) the People of Color Caucus at Pantheacon, I recognize that it is forcing me to look at my own practice and how I work within the contexts of the cultures I am, and cultures I am working with.

My Fearsome Foursome™ are Aztec, Celtic, Hindu, and Norse (why yes, I put them in alphabetical order, not order of importance) and I have been made aware (more than once, by each of them in turn) that I can’t hide behind the argument that I get a pass because I am a PoC (Pagan of Color).  If anything, I am compelled to work harder because I can’t be lazy about my practice and about recognizing its origins in my own work and the work of those who belong to the cultures I am drawing from.

Even the fact that I am Mexican (with Indian, Italian, and Spanish heritages feeding it) doesn’t let me slack off on the Aztec side.  I am pushed (and currently gathering resources) to learn Nahuatl, to study what my Matron wants me to study, to research and correct the erroneous information about Aztec practices that perpetuates the New Age talk out there.  I’m the gnashing of teeth you hear miles away whenever someone starts talking about the “Mayan Apocalypse” because first: they ran out of room on the stone, if you look at it, you can tell, there’s an end to how many days they would be able to fit on it.  Second, why would an ancient civilization attach itself to Christian terminology?  Yes, in Mayan, Aztec, and Incan mythos there is talk of ending the worlds, but not leaving them obliterated, but to recreate them.  The end of the Mayan Sun Calendar is the assumed destruction of the current world and the recognized beginning of a new one, one they assumed would be an attempt by the g*ds of their pantheon to make something better.  /endrant

No, really, it was an issue with space.  Think about it, someone had to lug that thing!

And this truth was costing you 300$ two years ago at some cheap Hilton conference room!

 

In working the Hindu pantheon, and my being in Sharanya as an initiate means I have to make sure that I work closely with current organizations that are working on issues like the AIDS epidemic amongst sex workers, freedoms for trans/alternate gender expressing people (which some worshippers are, as part of their worship) because it is part of my path as a genderqueer Spirit sexworker.

Working with the Celt and Norse though; that creates a kettle of fish I have to try and fry sometimes.   It makes it difficult for me to feel like I connect sometimes, despite what Odin and the Morrighan tell me (which is that I’m doing just fine) but this ties into my feeling of not achieving enough and thus overachieving to make up for the self-doubt.  So when it comes to these, I tend to take the path of an academic, I read a lot of reconstructionist works, because I have friends who are big in recon and because that academia is important to learning about civilizations, not necessarily to do their rites as they’ve been discovered (except when requested, I have a format, it works for me) but to acknowledge the work being done there.  To support it when I can by buying a book on a part of it that interests me (runes, ogam, and cultural/historical findings), and collecting all these tiny facts and resources for when someone might have need of them.

But I still feel like I don’t do enough.   I think of all my issues, this one ties into my cultural background the most.  I don’t feel I do enough, I’m a workhorse (my maternal family were ranch hands, it’s in the blood to work hard is what my Mama would say when I was up late studying) and sometimes, I push too far or too hard and wonder why I’ve been knocked on my ass. . . it’s still hard for me to deal with knowing that I do enough.  One of these days, I will know that I have.  This is part of that learning.

Research, so hard! (Not.)

I am currently sitting with a copy of Modern Primitives that was dedicated to a Claudine from an Emma and Jim, Christmas of ’93.  I kinda wish I’d been old enough to know Emma and Jim at that time, if these are the kind of Yuletide gifts they’re giving out!

But in all seriousness, in opening the pages one can feel the energy (if one is of the kind) that they invested into the book and felt compelled to pass on to someone who they were sure were kindred spirits to the feelings they shared in this book.

I love that this is my job (my calling, my passion); sharing with the world the rituals of profanity and unearthing their sacred origins, aspects, attributes, and ability to make sacred the mundane to those who go through them.

Sigh, that all days were like this.

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