Today I bid farewell to a pagan group for POC Wiccans. The reasons why are things I both need to discuss with others yet would rather eat worms than do so. The primary reasons for me leaving are as follows:
1. Posts that quickly descended into little more than accusations of racism – complete with out of context quotes. Nothing says “I am one with my personal Deity” like links to white supremacist sites, clearly biased opinion articles or the like where the reader is offended and thinks the authors are racist. Add in comments “OMG! Lookit! They is so wrong! So much damn hate! Say is Sistahs and Brothas!” and you have what’s been going on in this group for a while. In the long run, I can ignore this kind of thing. However, it gives the WORST impression to newcomers. These kind of attention grabbing posts did little more than stir up the latent and ingrained feelings prejudice within the members.
Yes. I said it. PREJUDICE. Slinging out the words “racist” and all its forms short circuited the brains of all who commented. Angry comments, hurt feelings and all out denunciation followed. Those commenters dug up the feelings and anger they were taught to have against anyone who looked to impugn their rights and splashed in in the comment boxes. Then they all patted themselves on the back for being Good Black People. Yes. They did indeed act in prejudiced ways, firstly by not bothering to read beyond the article or site in question. Secondly, by pausing to determine if the particular forum was the correct place to vent their thoughts. Thirdly, by reacting without thinking, falling back to what their former and current peers taught them – which anyone who was not of their skin color was in the wrong- easily.
People. This isn’t Fox News. There is no call for anything like that in a spiritual group. We all know that there will be hatred in the world we live in – no matter how much love we put out there. Dredging up inappropriate content – my gods, racism of all freaking things – in a spiritual group is uncalled for in any situation. Strike one.
2. When the above happened repeatedly, the admins did nothing. That’s not true. They added fuel to the fire by becoming part of the angry mob of commenters. They were right quick to shut down anyone who wanted to advertise their wares or services within the group. But stamping out these clear attempts to stir up drama? What message are they giving as spiritual leaders? As administrators of this group, they are in fact spiritual leaders. What message are they sending? My view? It’s perfectly fine to play the race card to stir up hate, just don’t to sell us something. It’s perfectly fine to let posts go completely off topic and to join in with fueling the fire of latent race fueled hate.
As administrators of these types of groups and spiritual leaders we have the responsibility to foster a safe space for all. That means nipping things like this in the bud before they become huge out of hand posts that span and spam the entire group feed. Yes. It’s spam – posts that have nothing to do with the topic of the group. The insult to injury? I messaged one of the admins as I left to tell them, in much nicer terms, as to why I was leaving. No response. Strike two.
3. This is the one that I don’t understand: This was a Wiccan group. Few, if any were actually Wiccan. These men and women paid lip service to the eight Wiccan Holidays and did their own thing – cramming in other gods, spirits, and deities into Wiccan practices and patting themselves on the back.
We’ll have the misappropriation discussion later.
This is what I have a problem with: Why in all the good green gods does one hide behind the Wiccan label when one clearly isn’t? Want to do rootwork? Then do it. Be a rootworker and conjure /hoodoo master. The world needs more of them! Want to honor the Orishas? Then do it. Follow the path of Ifa, Santeria, Voodoo and the like. Self-proclaimed witch? Then do it. Work your spells and magic by your own rules.
People of all ways of life and thought have fought to stand out from the shadows ignorance and predetermined labels. Why would anyone want purposely put himself or herself in place where they know they don’t belong? Strike three. I’m outta there.
When I started on this path, I did my research. I looked into Wicca, Asatru, Gardnerian, Alexandria, Correllian, Buddhism, Dianic, Native American – many tribal beliefs, Neo-Druidism, Celtic Reconstruction, Santeria, Ifa, Voodoo, Yoruban beliefs, Hellenic Reconstruction, Haitian Vodou (yes there is a difference), Rosicrucianism, Lucumí, Umbanda, and Candomblé. Those are just the ones I can account for at this time. I wore a hole in my library card. I asked questions and flat out pestered everyone I came in contact with who was of a different belief system. I spent far too much money on books than I am comfortable admitting. Let’s not taIk about buying duplicates. (One to keep, one to lend.) I wanted to know. I still want to know. Don’t look at my bookshelf.
In all of this, I was able to make an informed choice. I knew what I was doing. I came out of the broom closet. I can’t say I wasn’t proud, but I was and still am confident in my abilities.
I am an African American Wiccan and a Priestess. My Patron Deities are Celtic. I read and create Tarot. I read and create runes and oracles. I am an novice astrologer who can read charts.
I don’t hide behind any other label. I don’t need to point out faults in the perceptions of others. That Cheerios commercial was super cute, though. And the controversy around it ridiculous.
What I am is enough. I deserve to be part of something be it a group, circle, coven, church , kindred or tribe where I am not ashamed of what is discussed, where I am encouraged and uplifted; and where I can become much more than myself.
It is my hope that you find a place like that as well.