Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unitarian Earth Spirit and Paganism

Recently Tony McNeile gave a talk at the Unitarian Earth Spirit Network at the General Assembly meetings in Keele, entitled Forward to Paganism.

My thoughts on Tony's article (as a Wiccan and a Unitarian):

Gerald Gardner was not a loony, whatever people might have thought at the time. He had some ideas which were based on erroneous history (such as the idea of an ancient witch cult, which he got from Margaret Murray), and his ideas about women and homosexuality were a bit off, but he tried to give women respect and equality. And very importantly, he contributed to the return of the idea of the Goddess.

What Tony describes as Paganism is more like Pantheism. But it doesn't really matter what label you give it.
I don't think worshipping the Goddess (or goddesses) is a prerequisite for Paganism, but I do think that being aware that the Divine (or deities) includes both genders, and transcends gender, is important. Women have been disadvantaged by being regarded as second class citizens because of not being reflected in the Divine, and the return of the Goddess has been incredibly important for women.

Very few Wiccan covens are women-only (only a few lesbian separatist groups exist, mainly in the states, and they are not really Wiccan). Men are welcome and equal.

Ritual nudity is liberating.

Magic does not have to be part of Pagan spirituality, but when it is, it is usually used for healing, and it is not irrational. People who practice magic usually have an understanding of it that they have squared with their rational side.

The pagan origins of Easter are now regarded as rather dubious. There is only one reference in Bede, and it's very likely that he got it wrong.

This video makes me uncomfortable

The Campaign for Equal Marriage video, Homecoming, made me uncomfortable.

As I am sure you are aware if you read my blogs or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I support marriage equality. I want people to be able to marry each other if they want to, or have civil partnerships if they want to, regardless of gender. I want religions that want to perform marriages to be able to marry whoever they want.

So why did the video make me uncomfortable?

The main thing was the military setting. I'm a pacifist. I accept that wars happen sometimes, and that soldiers also carry out peacekeeping roles, but I think that we should do everything in our power to avoid war, and not to glorify it. The guy who is coming home is clearly returning from a military campaign (presumably in the Middle East as he is wearing desert camouflage). Given the controversy over Britain's recent wars in the Middle East, I find this difficult.

Then there's the statement at the end of the video "All men can be heroes: all men can be husbands". This has its good points, in that it undermines the myth that gay men are "effeminate" - but it also reinforces the view that gay men are OK if they're butch, but not if they're effeminate. And what about women who want to marry? What about bisexual and transgender people? What about disabled people who want a same-sex marriage? The statement is almost (but not quite) saying that being prepared to die for your country is what confers civil rights (so no marriage equality for conscientious objectors, then). No - being a citizen of a country is what confers civil rights.

Many GSD (gender and sexually diverse) people have criticised the marriage equality campaign for trying to make GSD people too much like the straights, and/or seeking to reassure the straights that we are just like them. I can understand this criticism; I do not want to be straight, I have never wanted to be straight, and I don't want to reassure the straight population that we are just like them. I think this video is a prime example of trying to reassure the straights that we are just like them. Would I be right in thinking that this video is aimed at people who read the Daily Mail?

What I did like about the video was the tender expressions on the faces of the two men, and the kneeling to propose marriage, and putting the wedding ring on the guy's finger. That was lovely. Put it in a non-military setting and I'll watch it lots.

But please, can we have a video with two guys, or two women, or both, in an ordinary setting?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Support marriage equality

Now is a good time to write to your local county councillors to ask them to support marriage equality.

Here is the letter I have written to my local councillors:
I am writing to ask you to support marriage equality in Oxford County Council.

Thanet has become the first local authority in the UK to endorse the government’s proposals for marriage equality.

Some county councils have not yet made available information on how churches and synagogues that wish to do so can register for religious civil partnerships, and the registration fee is higher than for registering as a marriage venue. Please could you lobby for Oxfordshire County Council to do this.

In addition, I want to see marriage equality in the UK, and would hope that Oxfordshire's county councillors would support this. I want to see religious same-sex marriage made available for those religions and denominations that wish to perform these ceremonies (namely Unitarians, Liberal Judaism, Reform Judaism, Quakers, and the Metropolitan Community Church). Pagans would also like to be able to perform same-sex marriages, but as Pagan opposite-sex weddings have no legal standing in England and Wales, the nature of the obstacle to Pagan same-sex weddings is more complex.

Please also support the option for same-sex civil marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. This is important as many same-sex couples would like the opportunity to be married, and many opposite-sex couples would prefer the less traditional option.

This is also important for transgender people, who may be in either a civil partnership or a marriage currently, and in order to register as the opposite sex to the one they are currently labelled as, would have to divorce their partner and get either a civil partnership or a marriage.
The background to this is that Thanet County Council has endorsed the government's plans.
Thanet has become the first local authority in the UK to endorse the government’s proposals for same-sex marriage. Please ask your councillors to pass a motion supporting same-sex civil marriages & opposite-sex civil partnerships. Find out your local councillors & email them via this website:

BBC report 

Pink News report 
Please ask councillors to support same-sex marriage for those religions who want to do same-sex marriages too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pantheism quiz

I just took the "Are You Atheist, Agnostic, Pantheist, Deist, Pagan or what?" quiz.

Here are my results:

Dualist Pantheism (100%)  
Literal Paganism / New Age / Animism (100%)  
Naturalistic Pantheism (80%)  
Agnosticism (75%)  
Idealist Pantheism (72%)  
Deism (65%)  
Panentheism (57%)  
Atheism / Secular Humanism (45%)  
Regular Monotheism (44%)

The trouble is, I don't know what a dualist pantheist is...  but there's a Wikipedia entry on it.

Actually, I find it really hard to classify my beliefs under any of these names. I think animist fits me quite well, though.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You can change

You know, some people become homophobic because of their upbringing. Perhaps they did not have the right parental role-modelling, so instead of turning into a normal balanced human being, they became homophobic.

Homophobia is a disease and requires our compassion and understanding. We should love the sinner and hate the sin. All you need to do is embrace diversity and you can be made whole.

Perhaps homophobes received insufficient nurture from their mothers, or guidance from their fathers, or did not have a positive LGBT role model in their lives.

God doesn't want you to be homophobic. She thinks homophobes are not part of Her divine plan for creation. In fact, God created everyone equal, and just wants you to have a fabulous time and be nice to people for a change. She created love in all its glorious forms so everyone could have a nice time - so quit kvetching and love thy neighbour!

Studies have shown that many homophobic people have experienced same-sex desire themselves, but are just not ready to admit it.

So there is a cure for homophobia.

Come out of the closet and be fabulous with the rest of us!