PaganFM 04/30/16

PaganFM 043016

Opening
Welcome to PaganFM

Musical selections:
Celia, Beltane Song
Damh the Bard, Hal an Tow, Tales from the Crow Man
Gaia Consort / Bone Poets Orchestra, Beltane Fires, Secret Voices
Gwydion Pendderwen, Beltane Wedding Dance, Songs for the Old Religion
Leigh Ann Hussey, Greenmantle, Homebrew
Psichodreamics, Beltane Moon, Ancient Wisdom
Cernunnos Rising, Blessings of Beltane, Wild Soul
Lindie Lila, Lady Water, Sisters of the Moon

Tonight we have an interview with Philipp Kessler- and it’s a bit of a long chat – when we get talking, we can just go on … so, it is what it is. But there will be a bit less music tonight, so I want to get into the show. We’ll hear a few Beltane pieces, and a bit later something from Leigh Ann to take us out, but for now, sit back, and enjoy.

PaganFM Almanac / prayer list
Today is Saturday, May 30. It’s the 121st day of the year.
The moon reached Third quarter last night, and will be new on Friday, April 6.

And tomorrow, Sunday, is Beltane – for us in the Northern hemisphere, while it’s for some in the Southern hemisphere, coming on Samhain. This creates a bit of controversy for some people – there are those who insist that the holidays be celebrated according to the date, while other maintain that they should be in keeping with the cycle of the seasons – with Beltane in the Spring, and Samhain in the fall – but, for my friends down under – whichever holiday it is that you’re celebrating, I hope it’s a blessing to you.

PaganFM prayer list –
Please keep in mind Rick, Zaracon, Greywolf and Joseph.

So I had an interaction with another podcaster on Facebook this week, in which he mentioned a negative review of his show on Itunes. Someone complained that a show sounded a bit “chatty”. I think the show is pretty good – and they only have three shows up so far, so they are really at the beginning of a podcasting career. The show is Part the Mist, with Jonathan and Arin, and they are a druidic podcast. Anyway, it’s a cool show – give it a listen.

But after the chat, I thought I’d go check my own reviews. And what I found was interesting – there are actually some really good reviews, and that makes me happy. But I found a couple of negative ones too. In general, I think negative reviews can be as- if not more helpful than positive ones – if I’m doing something wrong, I want to know it.

But a couple of reviews sort of made me chuckle – and these were two reviews from people who thought my show was too political. What they want is Paganism and no politics.

I doubt they will be listening, but I want to ask my listeners something here … what part of our lives shouldn’t our spirituality impact? Where should there be a dividing line? Should we say “I want a spiritual show, but don’t you dare talk about science”? Would you really suggest that we can talk about Paganism, but not the environment? What about Human sexuality? What about music, or history?

Certainly my show isn’t ALL politics, but sometimes, politics becomes important. As a transgender woman, politics is, right now, desperately important to me. There are places in this country where if I go out to eat, and need to go to the bathroom, that I’m literally making a choice between my safety and possible arrest. This is politics. But it affects my life, and the choice as to whether I should break the law or risk my own safety is very much informed by, and very much informs my spirituality.

Religion and politics have been intertwined since religion and politics existed. In some cases they were one and the same. Take the case of Jonathan and Arin’s show – they discuss druidism. In ancient times, the Druids were the counselors to the Kings – and the Kings wouldn’t make hardly a move without inquiring of the Druids.

It’s popular today to suggest that religion and politics should be kept separate. And in some ways, I agree – here in the United States, most of us value our religious freedom. And that freedom cannot be kept when government is involved in religion. Religious freedom is best guaranteed when the government remains secular. BUT, and here is the important bit, while our religious freedoms are best guaranteed when government stays out of religion, the reverse is not true. Each of us is guided by our moral views, and for most of us, this involves our religious views. We can’t make moral decisions while abandoning our religious points of view; they are intertwined. Nor are we expected to divest ourselves of our spiritual inclinations when we enter a voting booth. Freedom of religion never implied that we should become irreligious.

But there is another level to this. And that is the role of a teacher. I believe that part of my podcast is to teach. Not in the sense that I’m a professor, spewing my vast knowledge to the uneducated masses, but teaching in the sense that we all have something to learn. When my listeners ask me questions, when they might disagree with something I have to say – these are, for me, opportunities to learn. And one thing I’ve learned about teaching is that the best of teachers are always, themselves, learning.

There is yet one more level of this – and that is that many teachers find a clever way to keep those whom they don’t wish to engage with, away. Some teachers would require of potential students very difficult tasks, or extreme demonstrations of devotion before they were ever permitted to study. In any case, these teachers needed to know that the students who were there, were truly dedicated. And passing some sort of test of devotion was the cost for admittance. We recollect this in some of our circles – when facing the sword or athame, and are asked “how do you enter this circle”. While nobody would be slain today for an incorrect answer, the implication is still there – even if it’s only a faint echo of times passed.

Another interesting note, of at least one of these negative reviews was the name that went along with it. Now please don’t get me wrong here … I don’t want to knock any traditions at all, but there are some who are hijacking some of our traditions for their own political, and racist views. Sadly, some of these consider themselves Heathens – and one example is Odinia.

There was an interesting post on Reddit of late, where a screen shot of a text interaction took place. Someone asked of the Pagan Federation in Ireland “hello, my fiance and I are currently planning a trip to Ireland (from the US) next June of 2017 to get married and honeymoon for three weeks. We are odinists and would like an odinist or similar minded clergy to marry us. We would prefer someone who only performs heterosexual ceremonies and refrains from marrying those of mixed races. If you can help me find someone, that would be fantastic and very much appreciated. Thank you very much for your time and consideration and I hope to hear from you soon. ~ Sarah.

The response by The Pagan Federation was epic (and I don’t use that term often), and very appropriate. It reads: Hello Sarah,
We are happy to report that none of our clergy subscribe to your views on mixed race or gay marriage, and so we cannot assist you in your upcoming visit to Ireland.
Fuck off.
Yours very sincerely
Everyone at Pagan Federation Ireland.

I bring this up because one of the negative reviews came from someone who very well could have been an Odinist, given the screen name they used.

But to go on, that’s not where this particular exchange ended.

One S. Fenner, wrote to the Pagan Federation, saying:
I am writing to determine if the Pagan Federation of Ireland truly supports all Pagan paths, as stated on your website. Image recently received the attached screenshot of a query by an Odinist. (Attached below) Could you please advise us as to if this is indeed the attitude of your organization towards what are known as traditional folkish Heathens?

Best regards, S. Fenner

And again, the Pagan Federation replies in beautiful fashion:
Hello Senna,

Pagan Federation Ireland operates a zero tolerance approach to racism and homophobia, both of which were abundantly clear in the initial communication. Your values, as stated here on your website – https://odinia.org/what-are-values/ – are incompatible with ours. If your religious beliefs or practices incorporate either racism or homophobia, then you will not find a home here. As you seem to wish to make some sort of political issue of this, might we suggest the following: Screenshots are so very amateur, and prone to being disbelieved. For a proven donation of €10 to any Irish Pagan organisation, not necessarily ourselves, or to the Native Woodland Trust – http://www.nativewoodlandtrust.ie/en/, we will send you a signed copy of the statement on headed notepaper. Laminated if you wish. We will also send you permission to distribute the letter, in its complete form only, as widely as you wish. The €10 will cover two copies of the letter, one of which we will have framed and put on the office wall, lest we ever forget. Yours most sincerely Pagan Federation Ireland
Here’s the thing about this exchange – it is at once, intensely political and intensely spiritual. The two can’t be separated, because they are both about the values that make us who we are. It’s for this reason that many people say that these are the two subjects that shouldn’t be discussed at family gatherings. But think about that for just a moment … when we say that we should gather and celebrate and not discuss religion or politics, what we’re saying is that “we want to gather and celebrate, but avoid talking about what makes us, us.”

The real reason we avoid discussing these things is because we’ve lost the capacity to discus what makes us, us, without resorting to insults and hurtful rhetoric.

But anyway, back to my show. To the individual who doesn’t like politics – here’s a simple answer – don’t listen if you don’t like it! If you don’t like my political views, it’s a sure bet that you won’t like my spiritual views either. I’m a liberal, and my liberal-ness isn’t confined to my political views. As a minister, I’ll celebrate with you whether you’re gay, straight, queer, black, white, Native, it really doesn’t matter. But if you’re a racist, a homophobe, a bigot, anti-trans, if you don’t like Wiccans or Druids or Heathens, if you disparage polytheism or pantheism or pretty much any view, with their believers as “stupid” or ignorant – in short, if you look down on people who simply aren’t like you, then I can’t support that. If you hold the view that only your way can be correct, then you have no business with me, because your way and mine are antithetical.

And that is where the concept of a test comes in. Consider some of my more political rants as that challenge that must be passed for those who might study a bit with me. If you can’t stand what I’m saying, then you haven’t passed the test. But the cool part is that it’s you who will shut the door. But unlike the old masters to whom one could never return, the podcast is here, and there is no key, no secret latch for you to find. The only test is in your own mind … can you stand Dee’s occasional political rants? If the answer is yes, you’re welcome here! Then again, if the answer is “no”, you’re still welcome here – I just don’t think you’ll want to hang around.

Interview with Phil Kessler