So I just joined the site Deily. It’s an offshoot of Patheos, which I have my issues with, but Deily isn’t really a blogging platform. It’s sort of a social and education network where people can talk about their different religious beliefs and traditions.
They’ve got a lot of different sections for different religions. There’s no Paganism section, but there is an “Other” and so far I don’t see many pagans on there. (There’s a “pagan” tag, though, which leads to a splash page on paganism.) I think that if more pagans hop on and start talking about stuff, they might expand to having a generic paganism section. And if there’s a concentrated amount of Wiccans they could have a Wiccan section, a Kemetic section for Kemetics, a Druid section…etc. It’s just that there’s not much point in having a dedicated portal to a certain religion (or even group of religions) if there are very few people contributing content to that portal. The point of Deily is about education and sharing — sharing your faith with other religious people, fostering understanding, celebrating our diversity.
Which is why I am on it, and can get behind it. I think a space dedicated to sharing religious ideas and understandings with people all over the world is a great idea, and better yet if pagans can carve out a space there. We can educate not only non-pagans but ourselves on our many different paths.
I think it’s important to get more education out there, and to also foster a sense of legitimacy. You might find that attitude a surprise coming from me. I admit to being pretty strongly in the “screw the mainstream” camp. I am definitely all for letting our freak flags fly, and I have issues with people telling us to conform to some specific vision of “safe” paganism so that we’ll be flung crumbs by the dominant society.
On the other hand, a sense of legitimacy and structure can help in a lot of mundane areas in life, especially if we don’t have huge pagan communities around us. Let’s face it, creating your own religion, or even being a solitary in an established religion, is fucking hard. Living in an area with no one around you who actually understands, even a little bit, where you’re coming from — that’s hard. Heck, even living in an area with a fairly good sized pagan community can be hard, if their meetups are consistently too far a drive, if they’re consistently sticking to the same scripts and not acknowledging the diversity of pagan religions (we’re not all Wiccan, guise), if they don’t make efforts to make themselves accessible.
I’ve reached a point in my life where building community — especially locally — is important to me. It’s important to me to have get-togethers with a pagan focus; to cultivate a pagan community so it’s easier to raise my future kids with pagan ideas. To have a community that will have my back when I die and want non-traditional funerary rites.
So, ok, let’s just look at holidays. Say I want to have get-togethers on the 8 main holidays of the Wheel of the Year that aren’t too formal and aren’t too Wiccan — that go the generic paganism route instead of the highly Wiccan one that most get-togethers around these holidays do. I want these get togethers to be friendly not only to the very religious, but also the not-very-religious, sort of spiritual, want a chance to get together and chat on a regular basis and likes the idea behind these 8 holidays type of people.
There are no gatherings like this in my area, or even in areas that are a hell of a drive from my area. Anyone getting together for the 8 holidays are doing so to do super-serious rituals with a highly Wiccan basis, and that’s just not my bag. So, what’s the alternative? Hosting? Not possible, where I am now — there’s no room in my place to hold a gathering like that, and hosting them outside would only work for half of the year (if I’m lucky). Besides, I’d probably get evicted for being so blatantly pagan.
So, do I rent a space? No. I don’t have that kind of money, and I’m not part of any established group that has any sort of funds put aside for events like that. Basically, when it comes down to it, I’m kind of screwed. I can go to the more serious, Wiccan events, or I do something solitary — but there’s not really any structure in place for me to have the sort of gathering I’m envisioning.
This is where “legitimacy” comes in — legitimacy and structure can give us the benefits of organized religion without so many of the drawbacks.
What if there were a pagan or polytheist community center in my area? That had rooms available for rental at low rates for exactly the type of gathering I’m thinking of. That had classes on various pagan subjects — not just Wiccan ones. That had a dedicated space for children, and maybe even dedicated classes for children to learn more about the religions of their parents and their parents’ communities. Wouldn’t that be awesome? A place where I could connect with other polytheists or pagans, learn from our diversity, and hold gatherings that aren’t explicitly Wiccan?
Or, hey, let’s tackle another point I made in my post that legitimacy could solve: my fear of being evicted.
I am actually the most in the closet I have ever been in my life — not just with my religion, but with my queerness, my kinkyness — fuck, even my sarcasm. I try not to do anything that might tip my landlords off to the fact that I’m not quite the “normal” young woman in a heterosexual marriage they think I am. I live in constant fear of them finding out that I am pagan. (And yes, queer and kinky and unmarried, though on the first point I would have a better fight in the courts. On the second point I would have no fight, as kink is kind of not legal here. On the third point I have no idea, and it will be moot in 3 months anyway.)
This legitimacy and abundance of education on the topic of pagan religions could make it so that even if my landlords still believe I’m a devil-worshipper*, I would have better recourse if they decided to evict me over it. Not the best recourse, this is true; we definitely need to fix the current system when it comes to evictions and discrimination. People get evicted for things like being queer all the time, but there’s often little they can do about it.
However, as we make more and more strides in queer rights, it will be harder and harder for that sort of thing to occur. It is a slow process, but we are getting there. We are making headway.
Shouldn’t we be working on that for pagans, too?
All of this very long tangent/ramble is to say — I think Deily could help with fostering a sense of legitimacy for us, and not only that, it can be a great resource to pagans who have no options for meatspace learning, or no community in which to raise their kids as pagan and no idea where to start. There’s a “Deily for Kids” section, where you can share kid-friendly teachings about various religions. Not only can you add content, but you can add explanations to other pieces of content, so there’s always a conversation on-going.
There’s also a spot on Deily for teachers, so things that are added to the paganism bits might get used in comparative religion classes. That’s pretty cool.
Honestly, when I was first learning about paganism, it wasn’t the easiest to find good sites or books, or even accumulations of knowledge. I was lucky to find TC, but I only found it years and years into my journey, after I’d been searching for a very long time. Deily could make things easier for people who don’t even know where to start except the word “paganism”. They search it on Deily and boom, a bunch of content on various pagan religions, and links to other places where they can learn more.
But it’ll only be that great if we actually make it that great, which is why I’m working on adding stuff. So far I’ve added two prayers that I wrote, the devotional ones to the Morrigan and to Manannan Mac Lir. I’ve also added explanations as to why I chose certain words for the prayers and the meaning behind them.
I plan on adding much more content as time goes on.
Is Deily perfect? No, it’s not. I have some issues with it — for example, when you go to add content, it asks you input the original author of the content, but then doesn’t display it prominently for people to see. It also doesn’t ask for a link to the original content, so you can quote and link back, or quote and add your own explanation. I’m guessing this is an oversight because of the focus on more mainstream religions, which have a different way of generating info than pagan religions do. We rely quite a bit on blogs and the idea of intellectual property seems to be pretty important to us. From what I’ve witnessed of more mainstream religions, much of their info comes from holy books, and what does come from blogs doesn’t seem to be as guarded.
Another issue I have is that it doesn’t show tags with the content, so people can’t easily click through and find more things on Paganism and the Morrigan or whatever.
Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, I plan on emailing Deily and letting them know about these issues, and suggesting ways to fix them. I also plan on letting them know that a paganism portal would be nice, if we get enough pagans on there talking about stuff.
But, you know, overall? I have high hopes for Deily and its possible positive influence on pagandom. Crossing my fingers that it all works out.
*To be fair, I have no idea what my landlords believe about pagan religions. But they are heavily and obviously more right-wing Christian enough that I don’t dare ask. If they ever do ask about my religion, I am saying I’m Buddhist and hoping they find that okay. Which is partly true, after all.