Sunday, July 7, 2019

Notes from Oracular Ritual with Apollon 7-7-2019

From the Oracular Ritual with Apollon Today:

The most important thing in relation to the climate catastrophe those of us who have the means can do is to buy food.  That is something that we can do as individuals that is desperately needed.  As He explained it, we know that there is the carbon cost of shipping food from far away.  Eating locally and sustainably will help with that.  But theater piece of this is that those of us who can afford it need to be building the economy for local food because we will soon be facing times in which we MUST have local food.  We need to make it possible for local farmers to earn a living and to build our local agricultural infrastructure because that is what will create the local region's ability to feed the people who currently cannot afford to buy local food.

There is urgency with this.

This is not a radical departure from what He has said before, but I am seeing more pieces of it than I was previously.  Also, we should all know our local politics and be talking food security at the very local city/county levels.  Even if you are out in one of the agricultural areas....can you actually live off what you grow or are there only cash crops?

These topics are at least as pressing as our current political turmoil.

The other thing is that He said that there are the four big countries (China, India, Russia, USA) that must ALL make headway on the climate in order to head off the worst of what we are potentially facing.  No one of these four can fail.  Our emissions climbed again because of Trump's regulatory rollbacks.  We need to hit on the local and state levels.

But as individuals...local food.

Some other messages that might be useful to others include:

  • Make a conscious effort to build your joy.  Living joyfully in these circumstances is an act of resistance.
  • Build into your daily routines a scan of your subtle physiology looking for tears, leaks, places where your edges are frayed, and any cords.  Use light to fix them.  We all know how to do this, but put it into your daily routines.  It needs to be like brushing your teeth.
  • Spend the last half an hour before you sleep doing something that you want to carry forward into your dreams...something that will increase your joy.
  • Worry doesn't help.  If you are worried about the well-being of others, gather a bunch of small stones and have a bowl.  Once a day, in the morning, put the intention of a blessing towards whoever it is you tend to worry about into the stone, but as a blessing.  Then put the stone into the bowl.  When you feel worry arise, viscerally remember the stone that you held that morning and put in the bowl and put energy into that stone.
  • We absolutely must spend more time doing visionary work imagining what kind of society we want to have...we need to build that vision.  It is not merely an absence of bad.
  • SLOW DOWN!!!  We are rushing through our lives to the level where we are not experiencing them.  Slow down.  You will also be surprised at how much you actually get done when you slow down.



Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Children in Concentration Camps

To anyone I ever encountered who believed that Nazism and its inhumane cruelty could "never happen here," and to whom I kept saying, "only if we are vigilant about making sure it doesn't," well...we're here.  We are stealing children from their families and putting them in their own concentration camps where they are being abused, where they are living in absolutely inhumane conditions, where they have no one taking care of them.  

Our government, in our names, have made these children into "things."  They have been dehumanized to be used as a policy deterrent.  There is NO care about them as the precious, vulnerable humans they are.  They are specifically being abused to show potential asylum seekers what monsters we are so that they won't come.  That's what is going on.  That is their stated policy direction AND we (our government, in our names) did not create a system to track these children and the parents from whom we stole them so that we could EVER reunite them.

As Hannah Arendt said, this is the banality of evil and if each individual one of us DOES NOT STAND UP AND PROCLAIM "NOT IN MY NAME!" over and over and over again and do what we can to stop it...then we are complicit.

A couple of different things.  

VIGIL!!!

On July 12th there will be vigils around the country.  The most important moment will be at 9 in which people will be lighting candles in MOURNING for this travesty.  This will be the moment in which the news crews from everywhere will take their most compelling pictures and we need to be showing up in force.  Here is where you find the vigil sites.  If you go onto that site and you DO NOT find one for your locale, make one..all the information is at the bottom of that list.  Call 5 friends and get them to agree to come and help you put it together.  Sign up for a site (they tell you how) and it will go on their webpage.  They will help you figure out how to do it.  Then you can make a public FB event.  Either that, or call one of the migrant friendly organizations, suggest that you work with them to create an event.  They have provided all the information you need to found an event.  Just do something. 


Next up:

CALL, WRITE, SPEAK - contact your elected representatives and make sure that they know NOT IN YOUR NAME and NEVER AGAIN.  

Next:  Donate if you can.  Some good organizations: 




NEXT: The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has released an important report  in which they FOLLOW THE MONEY and figured out which three organizations are making a killing off this travesty and (no surprise) their deep connections with high ranking GOP operatives/officials...especially in this administration.  People are PROFITING off these concentrations camps for children.  In particular:

Comprehensive Health Services
Take a look at their menu...they do all sorts of things that look very benign.  But if your company is using them, demand to leadership that they change providers.  If you have an option on a personal level, choose a different provider.   Comprehensive Health Services is owned by Caliburn International, which is an LLC.  Here is their corporate address: 10701 Parkridge Blvd Suite 200 Reston, VA 20191 United States and the Chief Operating Office is General C.D. Moore who, among other things, is a trustee at Wright State University.  So, I am going to spend a bit of time writing to WSU demanding that he get kicked off their Board of Trustees...because he is profiteering from this situation.  Here is the Board of Trustees for Caliburn.  

Next up on the list of profiteering groups!
The GEO Group
This is a notorious private prison group.  It seems that what is happening is these children who are kept in concentration camps, at least some of them are being transferred upon their 18th birthday into the private prison system.  

The address is here: 
One Park Place
Suite 700
621 Northwest 53rd StreetBoca Raton, Florida 33487George C. Zoley is the founder and the head of the organization.  He clears almost 7 million a year in compensation.  Here is the list of their board members, etc.  It doesn't look like the senior leadership of GEO serves on boards of other organizations...they are probably too toxic. 
 The person there who may be of interest is Richard H. Glanton.  Glanton is on the board and chairs several committees.  He is the CEO of the Philadelphia Television Network.  1515 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102.  

It might be useful to start raising questions there about why their CEO is serving on the board of a group that is profiteering from illegally seized and imprisoned asylum seeking children who are transferred into these private prisons when they turn 18.  .  

Next up: General Dynamics.  

Making a lot of contracting dollars off "training and technical assistance" to the Homestead facility.  

Address: 2941 Fairview Park Drive Suite 100 Falls Church, VA 22042 United StatesCEO = Phebe N. Novakovic - who is on the board of the National Military Family Association










Monday, May 27, 2019

The War on Truth

This is likely to only be a "part one" post since I have a lot to say about this topic and it is still clarifying in my own mind.

However, I want to propose that the War on Truth is the root culture war that we are currently facing. By this I do not just mean that there are people who are lying.  There have always been people who are lying.  What I mean is that for the past few decades there has been a systematic war on the idea that there is anything that actually counts as Truth.  And I would say that without a belief that Truth actually exists, although there are implications in saying that it does that are uncomfortable, we are condemning ourselves to a horrific future if we have a future at all.

So first, why I think it is the root culture war.  Let's take a look at various issues
  1. The attack on scientific epistemologies enable the climate catastrophe.  There is no substantive doubt among the sciences or scientists about the reality of the climate crisis or its causes...but that is certainly not apparent thanks to the War on Truth.
  2. The War on Women - it is based on lies.  It claims to be about protecting "unborn babies," (or more truthfully embryos and fetuses) but we know how to prevent most abortions...it is the policies that the pro-choice advocates favor.  This is about controlling women and their bodies.  You can trace a lot of other aspects of the War on Women back to systematic undermining of Truth and Truth-telling.
  3. The War on Immigrants is based on systematic lies.  The U.S. born population is not reproducing enough to replace itself so we need immigrants in order to thrive.  They commit crimes at a lower rate than our native-born citizens.  They are heavily engaged in society and are not taking jobs from native born people--those places that have depressed economies are about the PLACE, not the population.  If those dying areas in the middle of the country wanted to boost their local economy, they would invite a bunch of recent immigrants to come live with them and would then treat them well so they would invest in their neighborhood.
  4. Crime is down and our overpolicing and mass incarceration is not just a human rights violation, it is also just straight up uncalled for.  So, why are people so constantly worried about crime?  This is part of the War on Truth.
  5. Any of the lies that make people believe that one group of people inherently radically different than another...we are all more alike than different.  Those definitions shift and change a lot.
  6. The Trump administration's War on Statistics  is an incredibly cynical strategy.  This includes changing the model for the poverty line which will just definitionally move people out but not represent any increase in their spending power; changing the model to calculate environmental damage from de-regulation so that it is not sensitive - not that it changes the actual amount of damage that is more accurately predicted by earlier models; undermining the accuracy of the Census and ALL OF THE RESEARCH BUILT ON IT (which is a lot) by adding a citizenship question and then terrifying non-native born people with Gestapo tactics.
All of this is to say that we must become vigilant and call lying what it is.  Call out the War on Truth at every turn.  This is necessary.  Demand that our societal whistleblowers (Fourth Estate, I'm looking at YOU!) do the same.  This is important and we must do it.

So now, some of the uncomfortable stuff.  It is not sufficient to look outside and point our fingers and say that other people are lying.  Part of the attack on Truth is the idea that "everyone is entitled to their opinion."  The thing is...if you take Truth seriously, then no one is entitled to their own opinion.  It is intellectual laziness to stop at opinion because opinion is just ignorance until it is turned into knowledge.  What is deeply uncomfortable (certainly to me) is to realize how much of what I think is actually opinion and not knowledge.  It also means that you have to really, really watch yourself and become cognizant and correct yourself when you speak untruths.  Those can be the little white lies, but they accumulate as a willingness to accept untruth; those times in which your language is careless (this is my biggest challenge); and those times in which you are just wrong and realize it later.  I try, as part of my spiritual practice to catch myself and correct when I have not been truthful.  I think this is a VERY important part of my spiritual practice given my role with Apollon and as a seer.  But it is hard.  And it is sometimes mortifying to realize how careless I can be.  And I think it is important to do this with a sense of forgiveness and recognition of the inherent weakness in we short-lived mortal beings.  It is a practice that is simultaneously humbling and helps me build compassion.

Here is the other really uncomfortable piece, though...and I say this as a political and social Progressive.  I spent a good portion of the 90's arguing with intellectuals who were on my side of the political spectrum but who bought heavily into postmodern thought and I have always been afraid it would inevitably lead to where we are.  Now, I'm not going to reconstruct everything in a blog post.  I'm not even sure that my mind is sharp enough to do it anymore (I do miss having virtually all of my time devoted to thinking big abstract ideas unlike now where I must do it in snatches).  

Here, for those who are not in this world, is a hack summary of some of the big picture postmodern critiques.  I want to be clear that this is a hack job and anyone who is a postmodernist would be rightfully mad at how bad a job I am doing...but this is what I can manage in the brief window I have.  The important insight that I think Postmodernism did bring is the realization that the way in which the "western" academy with its roots largely in the Enlightenment was going about its pursuit of knowledge and the search for that which is Essentially True was and is embedded in a social/political/cultural context in which it interrelates with power dynamics.  Now, from WITHIN "Enlightenment" thinking, this could be taken as a corrective.  Like, we may need to go back and re-interrogate certain conclusions that we reached about the nature of Truth because maybe they were distorted based on the fact that the people theorizing were embedded within particular social/cultural/power structures.  So far, I am 100% down with that.  But many of them went further and undermined the idea that there is anything in "reason" other than rationalization of power.  And, in what is a really aggravating trend, the linguistic turn in postmodern philosophy meant that you only had credibility if you got unbelievably self-referential and linguistically impossible to penetrate.  I have really big problems with this and spent about a decade getting into constant arguments about it until I found my way into my little enclave where we don't talk about it.  Maybe I shouldn't have given up the fight...but I was really, really, really poor and couldn't keep going.

Back to ideas...in addition to the fact that I absolutely believe that there is a reality that has essential nature and that our quest for it is complex and challenging but that the mind is capable of using reason to search for it, I think that reducing reason to rationalization of power is just wrong.  I believe I can look at a lot of the sciences, at comparative mysticism, to laws of logic, and to the fact that minds make creative leaps for which the culture of the person having the insight doesn't know what to do with them to answer a lot of the more reductive ideas in postmodernism.  But from a pragmatic/strategic standpoint, here is the reason the postmodern fascination with undermining all truth claims freaked me out.

The people who were most engaged in postmodern thought tended to be on my side of the political spectrum.  We shared a lot of the same values about trying to overcome oppression, the responsibility of humans to the environment, etc. etc.  But my intellectual sparring partners were using the whirling scythes of unchained postmodern skepticism to try to undermine the structures that cause oppression...but were doing it in a way that I was convinced would ultimately cause far more harm than the benefits accrued by short-term gains, in addition to the fact that I was never convinced that they were actually right in their fundamental arguments.  See, the problem is that you can make a critique of structures of oppression, but if you do it in such a way that you are also claiming that reason is just rationalization of power, then you undercut your long-term claims to anything that might be called Justice...because you don't really believe in it.  There is a big difference in saying that Justice is not being realized because of prejudice or that our conceptions of Justice have been overly colored and need to be reinterrogated to better represent the Truth of what Justice is.  But the postmodern critique is essentially that Western concepts of Justice are simply cultural constructions that have no real foundation but exist in order to maintain a particular society and its dominance.  This, by the way, is where you get into extreme cultural relativism.  I am not a cultural relativist.  [I do think there is something morally wrong with female genital mutilation or various cultures killing LGBTQ people.  I also think that our addiction to fossil fuels because we can't tell the difference between comfort and necessity is morally wrong.]  

So, the strategic issue is, of reason is just rationalization of power, why would anyone relinquish power?  Why would they?  Sentiment?  With no ideal of Justice, or Love, or some other BIG IDEAL to motivate them, you are relying on guilt, sentiment, or threats.  Those are evanescent and can get overturned really easily at the first suggestion that if a group that is oppressed now were to get power they would use it for vengeance.  They also don't give any foundation for actual, meaningful change.  I don't want to just rearrange the chairs on the deck.  I want to change our relationship with power, which means changing our vision about what it looks like, what it serves, and how it relates to Truth.

Postmodern philosophy took over the academy in the 80's.  It is losing some ground now...but we have more than two generations of intellectuals, especially progressive intellectuals, being raised with it.  It leads to a type of cynicism that no longer believes there is any Truth.  When we believe that there is no such thing as Truth and it is all rationalization of power, is it any wonder where we end up?  We end up exactly where we are.  With the War on Truth.  With opinion being enshrined in either a hyper-individualistic way (I am entitled to MY opinion) or in a way that leads to ideological purity that can't measure itself against any real question for knowledge and understanding but is, instead, more about aligning identity with particular groups.  

Anyway, I am making a big deal out of the Progressive piece of this because I think that we need to really think through our own thoughts, commitments, and at least be clear with ourselves about what is going on in our own mind.

Perhaps I will write more later.  Now I need to get going to the next thing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Public Figures, Celebrity and Private Citizens

There are some things that we need to disaggregate here.  In the United States we have conflated Public Figures and Celebrity.

First, one of the great problems in our democracy is that the populace is busy evaluating public figures using the same metrics they use to evaluate celebrities...namely their "likability."  So, I would like to draw a line here and talk about function.

Public figures are those people who have willing put themselves into positions in which they speak with the authority of the voice of the citizenry.  In other words, these are elected officials, those who are choosing to run for public office, and some leaders in the professional arm of government who are of a high enough position that they should be personally responsible to the citizens for whom they work - often these are also political appointees in the executive branch and/or appointed or elected justices, district attorneys, leadership in police forces.

The key point here is that public figures have CHOSEN roles in which they act for the public citizenry and in so doing they do not have the same rights anymore as a private citizen.  A private citizen, such as you or me, have certain appropriate expectations of privacy.  A public figure...which means someone who is in leadership or an elected position, sacrifices many of those protections of privacy.  In particular, a public figure sacrifices the rights to privacy around any personal information that might shape their decisions when they are acting as the voice of the people.

I'll use myself as an example.  If I were ever to run for public office on any level, it is my duty to disclose information that my potential constituents would need in order to evaluate whether or not I was going to serve them well.  What that would mean is that I would need to disclose my financials, including my debt, any potential conflict of interest I might have, and any other information that they might need to understand my fitness for office.  If I were to win, I would need to keep high transparency.  So, for example, one of the things that my constituents would need to know about me is that at the age of 50, I still have federal student debt.  Now, I might make that part of my platform and talk about the personal and societal effects of our current policies.  I can guarantee you that I have a lot to say about that from a sociological perspective.  However, if I went forward and then fought for universal forgiveness of student loans, the public should be keeping an eye on me because I would personally benefit from that kind of a law.  The public needs to be sure that what I propose is truly for the good of the society, and not just self-dealing.  In order to do that, it is not just the public's RIGHT to know about my personal finances in a way that would be invasive if I were not running for/occuping public office, it is the public's RESPONSIBILITY to demand it so that they can do THEIR DUTY AS CITIZENS in holding me accountable.  And this is ethically appropriate because no one is compelled to serve as a public figure.  You have to seek it.  You seek  it, you sacrifice large parts of your rights to privacy as a private citizen.  If you aren't willing to do that, you are fundamentally unworthy of public office.

Now, celebrities who are not public officials are private citizens.  They just, for whatever reason, are famous.  I have no right to know anything about Robert Downey Jr. other than what he chooses to share.  People who follow celebrities or pry into their lives are violating their rights.  Whether or not I like Robert Downey Jr. is a perfectly acceptable metric for whether I think he should be popular.  It may influence whether or not I am willing to spend money to support/partake in his art, his products, whatever.  But there is nothing in his celebrity that makes him more or less qualified for public office than other people.  The appropriate metrics for whether someone is an appropriate public figure are a combination of competence, integrity, and a variety of indicators that demonstrate good critical decision making.

The second a celebrity becomes a public figure (and we have had numerous) they give up their private citizen rights.  They don't get to fall back on those the second they run for office (or take a high enough post in government).

We are in the society of the spectacle.  We need to get clarity on the role of public figures, the metrics we should be measuring them by, and how they sacrifice the rights of privacy of private citizens...AND we need to understand what rights of privacy should be defended for private citizens (including celebrities) so that we don't end up losing those ourselves.

Now - for the magically inclined:
People who are public figures also, in my opinion, do not have the same rules as when you are dealing with private citizens.  Because they are in public office and speaking in my voice and in yours, I don't think we need personal permission to do work to hold them to account for integrity - on magical or mundane levels.  In fact, if I am a citizen who has magical abilities, I think that is part of my responsibility.  I do not have any problem calling for any elected official to be held to their oaths.  I also don't think I need to get personal permission from RBG to do work to support her healing (for example), or from any of them to do some personal protection work.  That is a wholly different thing than if I were dealing with a celebrity who is a private citizens.  I think it would be a gross violation for me to do healing work for an actor who has not put out a call inviting it, for example.  If there was a call put out, I take that as permission.  Celebrities who are not public figures should be under the same ethical protections as any other private citizen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Social Media and the Public Square

First, my fellow Pagans, my people...I love you.  I just want to say that.  It has been a rough few days and first and foremost I want to say clearly that I love you and I love our community.

So, I am watching debates raging about how Pagans should or should not react to Notre Dame and accusations that some people are telling other people how to feel about it.  I, actually, want to pull back a bit and have a different conversations because what I am witnessing is worth considering from a different angle.  In fact, it is related to some topics of study that the faculty learning community at American University that I founded to investigate the pedagogical implications of our contemporary information ecosystem is pursuing.

One of the most dangerous aspects of our contemporary information ecosystem is that we have these platforms that give an illusion of being private (my wall, my feed, etc.) but that are actually part of the public square.  In giving people the message while they are in the public square that it is a private space, we are telling people that they don't need to think about the impact of their communication on others. It gives us the illusion of intimacy in which we are with people who know us so deeply that they know what we do and don't really mean beneath the surface.  Social media is portrayed as being a private expressive affair...except that it isn't.  It really, really, really isn't.  Social media is the primary Public Square of our time.  There are three things that are going on here that are especially dangerous.

1.  People are not understanding that they have no real privacy rights in this sphere.  What they say is not private.  It also doesn't ever really go away, even if they delete it.  What they say and do isn't really just shared with their friends.  Everything they do, in some way or another, is out in the open in the public square.

2.  You are being monetized.  Your conflict and drama is being monetized and machines are learning from it.  The drama that you feed into it isn't just going to become business intelligence...it will become political intelligence.  It isn't private and the way it is used is opaque and doesn't require your consent.

3.  Most importantly to me, in pretending like we are in a private space but not realizing that we are in a public square what we have really done is to collectively lose cultural competency about how to have public conversation.  I'm not saying that we need to be inauthentic...I LOVE Amanda Palmer, for example.  She is incredibly authentic in the public square.  I am saying that when you are in the public square, you need to know you are performing in public and that your words have impact on other people.  If you value compassion, you need to pay attention to that performative impact because it can cause harm.  That also means that you can use that public square to create change for good purposes...but only if you realize that you are in the public square and not in private.

I'm going to give a real life example from a comment thread I got embroiled in the day Notre Dame burned.  There was a post grieving about the fire.  Someone commented, "We don't care when the sacred sites of indigenous people burn."

All right...why would this person write this?  I don't actually know their inner life. I don't know their motivation.  I don't know what they feel.  What I do know is that they are out in the public square and that this comment and its ilk could be read by any number of people who are actively grieving, including possible Parisians for whom Notre Dame means something that I can't fully fathom.  In circumstances like this, I try to hold back myself, ask myself what I know and what assumptions I am making, and how I can be most compassionate in my assumptions.  I decided to give the most charitable read that I could and determine that the person was genuinely wanting to try to protect indigenous sacred lands and that they have an actual activist/reform motivation rather than a troll motivation.

So, I wrote a critique, because I think that if that really is their motivation, then there are ways to respond to this that would be helpful in protecting indigenous sacred lands while also acknowledging the pain people were feeling about Notre Dame.

Basically, the first part is not to make assumptions about the audience, like when the author said "we" don't care about indigenous sacred lands.  Given whose wall he was commenting on, I doubt that was true.  I know some of the people there.  I have higher expectations of them than that.

Secondly, standing up and saying to those who are grieving..."I see your pain.  I care about the fact you are in pain.  I understand the suffering that comes from the loss of sacred places and I mourn with any people who lose that which is sacred to them.  I grieve with you."  For me, this is authentic.  Maybe it isn't for you.  Maybe you are much more internally conflicted.  Maybe you have a deep reaction of "FUCK YOU" to the Catholic Church.  But if you are writing on social media, you aren't in private.  You are in the public square.  The people who are hurting are not the church nor are they the history...they are people who are watching something that is important to them be destroyed.  What you say is performative and has power.  Probably not power to hurt the church...certainly not power to change the past, but power to leave the people who are hurting feeling seen and valued or feeling alienated and with the sensation of being kicked while down.  So sure, feel whatever you authentically feel.  But you may want to think about what you say in public.  Maybe it wouldn't change anything you want to convey...but please, pause and think.

My final point is that, given that we are in the public square, you are wise to think about tactics.  If the person's point was really to help address indigenous sacred land rights, then, after showing empathy, at a later time you call back and make a link between the experience of spiritual devastation and grief that people were having about Notre Dame and the next indigenous sacred land that is threatened.  You tell them it is the same.  You plead with them to help stop the tragedy since they know how it feels.  This isn't a competition.  It is an opportunity to expand understanding.      

However, my point in writing this is NOT really about Notre Dame and this particular incident.  It is to put out a call for us to pause and think about the true nature of social media and ask ourselves what we want our public discourse to be.  These issues are complicated.  If there is a really "right" answer, I don't know it.  But one thing that I am pretty clear about is that we need to stop the rapidly moving reaction train that is part of social media, remember we are in public, and then act from that understanding.

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Gender Identification - My survey - some challenges and reflections

I launched my survey on Thursday and a brave woman, Julia, reached out to me to enlighten me about an issue that is so incredibly important that I want to share it here.

I had given three possible answers for gender -
Male
Female
Trans/Gender non-conforming.

She pointed out to me that in forcing people to choose one, I was giving the message that people like her, a trans woman, were not real women.  That was so desperately not my intention and I am SO grateful that she pointed this out to me.  I have since gone back in and allowed people to choose multiple identities and made a note to check as many as are relevant.  I wanted to share this with anyone else who is creating surveys so that they do not make the same mistake that I did.

I also want to share some personal information that I really don't talk about much.  The real reason that I did not want to structure the question into a dualism is because, in my own inner landscape, I am nonbinary.  In my own inner sense of self I feel kind of both and neither male and female,  In fact, the category of gender at all has just always felt really oppressive to me...like anytime I have to talk about it, I'm shoved into an ill-fitting shoe.  Since most people reading this are probably Pagan I will also say that I believe part of my situation is because I have spent my life walking around with so many past life memories that construct who I am and I have been both genders...probably male more than female.  So, I would say, for those of us who are creating surveys, please include something that is also for people like me.  I think that solution of allowing for multiple choices may be a good way.

However, the reasons that I don't talk about my own complicated inner landscape and the reason I, personally, continue to refer to myself as a priestess and have not gone to full non-binary pronouns are as follows:

1.  With my body type (I am extremely curvy and have hyper-exaggerated female secondary sex characteristics), the first thing anyone ever notices about me is my female body.  I have never been seen as anything but female and I never will be.  Every opportunity I have had or not had, every experience I have had has been filtered through how our society views and treats women.  My experiences have been inexorably shaped by patriarchy and misogyny and the fact that I don't "feel" like a woman (or a man or any gender) on the inside doesn't do a thing about that.  My experiences are female.

2.  We are in a political and cultural moment in which women's reproductive rights are under a type of threat that can realistically strip women of the right to own their own bodies.  Without reproductive rights, we are legally not fully human.  I get that.  I see it.  It doesn't matter if I don't feel female on the inside, my right to own my own body is at stake.  My agency is at risk.  My legal standing is at risk.  My legal rights are bound up in my female body.

3.  Violence against women is a serious epidemic and affects all women, our trans-sisters at a particularly high rate.  I've been subject to misogynistic violence as have most women I know.

4.  As I am getting older (about to be fifty), I am experiencing the way in which sexism intersects with ageism in powerful ways and am determined to fight back.  The main label I have loudly and proudly claimed for myself is that I am a young hag.

So, regardless of what my personal inner landscape feels like, I am in strong solidarity with all women and my main identity is as an inclusive feminist.  That identity I claim in full power, without question and without hesitation.

All my sisters, all my people, all y'all...I love you.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Pagan/Witch/Heathen Metaphysics and Ethical Reasoning Study

I'm asking you all for help in promoting this.

Gwendolyn's new Pagan Metaphysics and Ethics Survey - click on the link!  It will be open through Summer Solstice.

Hello everyone:

I'm really hoping that I can get your help with this.  Back in 2012, I did a Needs Assessment Survey and had an amazing 3,318 people respond to it!  I have spent the last number of years analyzing the data and sharing it out as best I could.  There are academic articles in The Pomegranate, I shared it at both academic and Pagan conferences and talked about it on Podcasts and in the Wild Hunt.  

Just to be sure you all know this, I am both a Pagan Priestess and also a scholar at American University.

This time, I'm both trying to follow up on a couple of issues that came up in the results of the last survey, but I also want to explore what it is we actually believe in terms of metaphysics and theology and how that relates to our ethical reasoning and other issues, like our sense of self-efficacy, how central our spiritual path is to our identity, and things  like that.  

I am going to try to stay in better touch through this blog and share what I see and what I'm thinking as I'm doing it.  I hope that this is interesting and helps the community as well as helping the academic discussions about Paganism.

Just to start, I will mention that this survey has a combination of some items that I created specifically for us, and then other measures that have been given by other scholars to the general population.  That enables us to compare ourselves to the general population.

For the metaphysics, I had SO MUCH FUN, trying to get the major metaphysical positions reduced to a sentence each in ways that made sense (A HUGE THANK YOU to all of my beta testers on different variations, including my non-Pagan beta testers).  

Thank you for all of your support.  Here, again, is the survey link.  Pagan Metaphysics and Ethics Survey