Pagan privilege. Apparently, its a topic that is “the rage” at the moment. Apparently – and if I have this correct – this comes from a viewpoint that in an interfaith setting, the prevailing setting for ritual comes by way of the more numerous group of attendance – or from the group that claims to be in control of the ritual setting. Or if you will – something like this: a ritual held at an event is primarily done with w Wiccan styling because the predominant attendance will be from people of that particular belief system – or at least it is assumed that this is so.
Now, perhaps its because I am a Pagan that holds a solo practice… Or maybe its because I lean heavily on Druidry for influence on how I handle my relationship with my Gods and environment through ritual… Or maybe its because I am a crotchety old soul… Whatever the case may be, I just do not see this as a big issue. Perhaps I am just missing the entire point…
T. Thorn Coyle describes a moment at this most recent PantheaCon in her blog post, where she said a prayer at a panel she was on without prefacing it with a “this is something from my own tradition…”. Apparently some folks took a bit of offense that the prayer was not inclusive – that the format of the prayer was from Coyle’s tradition and was therefore exclusive of other faiths that may not follow the suggestions manifested in her prayer.
Color me a little shocked. Not shocked over what Coyle did in her presentation of a prayer in her own style. Color me shocked that others would feel excluded since it was not presented in a format that was familiar or seemingly was geared towards one particular tradition or format. Now, to be completely fair – I was not there. I was here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where I live. So all of my information comes as secondary knowledge. But I am still somewhat stymied over this entire concept, but I think see a bit of where the problem may be coming from — trying to be all-inclusive.
I like the idea of inclusion. But. I think it may go a step too far sometimes. Let me paint out a scenario for you – a group of folks have gotten together at a table for a meal. Two are Christians – a Baptist and a Catholic. Four are various flavours of Wiccan-oriented Pagans. One is a Yoruba Priestess. Another is an AODA Druid. I am picking this individuals’ faiths off the type of my head – so please do not feel I am picking on any one belief system. After being seated, and prior to the start of the meal, the Baptist asks to say a prayer prior to eating. Everyone agrees, and silently waits through the Baptist Christian’s mealtime prayer. The prayer, obviously, will be centered on the Baptist Christian’s faith. If we get down to brass-tacks, even the Catholic would be excluded from the style of prayer. Should anyone feel offended? Even if the Baptist Christian asks for Jesus to come forth in the lives of the other individuals sitting at the table and manifest himself in their lives, so that they would not die sinners?
To bring this to a perspective of nearly full circle…I have been in this situation numerous times. The players in this game of meals changes from time to time. But one thing is common amongst all the participants – we respect one another’s perspective. I have thanked Crow numerous times for being a part of my Life. I have even taken part of my meal outside to provide as an offering to the Spirits of the land before eating my own portion. Never once did anyone bat an eyelash or exclaim offense at any perceived slight. Sure, I had questions asked about my observances – but that was after I had concluded my offering and had returned to the table to eat my meal. There was a definite degree of skepticism in the questioning as well – I mean seriously. Holy shit people. I had no illusions that my offering to the Spirits of the land or my thanks to Crow would change anyone’s spiritual perspective. Nor was any of that my intent. I have sat through plenty of other prayers and offerings from the others as well. And never once has anyone been offended over any of that. Because its called (gasp!) MANNERS.
I come to someone’s panel at an event like PantheaCon, I do not expect to be included in anything. I expect them to be themselves, offer any prayers to their own Gods, offer their own perspective — is that not the reason they are in the panel? For them to be themselves? For them to provide their own, unique perspective?? ::big sigh:: But then, reading through a lot of the comments, and other posts I have seen on the topic of “Pagan privilege”….perhaps I just do not “get it”… I know that there are times I am grateful that I am solo in my personal belief system…even though I am aware that I am connected to so many other practices through the tiny, invisible web of sacred connection….