|our Lady Liberty, plus tobacco leaf|
My Druids and I (and my sister and a classmate and 25K others) attended the HKonJMarch in Raleigh, North Carolina this past Saturday. According to the website, “In 2006, the Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ) People's Assembly Coalition was formed under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and the North Carolina NAACP. It has grown to include over 150 coalition partners.”
Throughout the day I was trying to explain to my sister why we were marching and it was hard to narrow down the list. Civil rights, voter’s rights, women’s health, immigration reform, safe food and water, anti-fracking, water rights, teacher’ssalaries, LGBTQA rights… and those are just a few. Basically, if you’re a resident of North Carolina, there’s something politically going on to screw you over.
This past summer the NAACP and their coalition hosted Moral Monday protests and marches, and one of my Druids and I attended as many as we could. We quickly became disillusioned with the uber-Christian rhetoric, and really, we’re not at all the type of people to be offended willy-nilly by Christian-centric stuff. One Unitarian Universalist minister mentioned “Earth Religion” once, which was nice and better than nothing, but really doesn’t represent either of us.
My Druids write great liturgy and rituals, so they put together a really wonderful little ritual for us to do before the event every Monday down at the capitol building. We called upon Gods and Goddesses of justice, as well as what my Druids call the American Triad – Liberty, Justice, and Columbia. As Pagans and Polytheists we wanted to be represented. We wanted to be included as clergy. We wanted to include our prayers and our voices to the thousands and thousands of people who have been protesting here in North Carolina. This is our state, too, and we want to move forward together with our brothers and sisters and Others of various faiths and backgrounds.
|"If you sing for the river, the river will sing."|
The three of us right now are able to be pretty much out of the Broom Closet, which gives us certain liberties that other Pagans are not so fortunate to enjoy. Even being able to march in these Moral Monday events might be risky for some in NC (especially state employees) but to march openly and out as a Pagan might be seen as some as even more risky.
But as we try to come together in the spirit of Community and Service, we decided that it was our job to not only attend Marches, but to be at the Marches as openly Neo-Pagan and Polytheist. Because maybe there are other Pagans out there who want to know that others are marching with them. Or maybe we want some prayers that refer to more than “Mother Earth” (who is great, don’t get me wrong.)
So I bought a scarf and decided to use it as a stole. Unfortunately the only pattern I could find was with a pentacle, which represents me (a Neo-Wiccan) but not my Druids (who are members of ADF) but I figured it was start. But we gathered together to do our little ritual at the capital I found myself hiding my scarf once, when a clergyman came upon us, clearly lost (he was looking for a prayer group.) Urgh. Why was I lacking courage? But he smiled, asked us “Oh, are you Neo-Pagans?” and made small talk and was delightful.
The ritual was lovely. Just perfect. Macte esto!
|"Close prisons, fund schools"|
But at one point, when the super cute Jewish man and his partner turned to us randomly and said “BLESSED BE” I was a little struck. I mumbled my gratitude, but then he told me how he wanted to say it earlier to me but had lost me in the crowd, but was happy he found me again. So I smiled graciously and told him “you as well!”. And I meant it. I hope he and his lovely partner are the most blessed.
And later, a lady came up with a petition about fracking, and she said “oh, you’re Wiccan!” and she told me about the Chapel she is part of in a little town a few hours away, and she was excited to hear about our projects and our networking efforts for this part of North Carolina, and we shared fliers and names and parted ways with a smile.
And these are interactions that would not have taken place at all if I had not DARED.
|"Middle class over millionaires"|
So as I engage in social activism, community networking, and continue to step into Pagan leadership roles in the community, I realize that I must continue TO DARE. I need to grow. I need to step out of my comfort zone. I need to realize that even though I might get a few confused looks out in public, that’s okay, because I can be out and I owe it to my community to present Paganism with grace and wisdom and love. I may be facing the unknown, but I’m not alone. I have my Druids, and my sister, and that lovely Gay Jewish man, and that sweet lady, and thousands and thousands of others who, in their own way, also dare TO DARE.