Chapter Four ticks me off a lot so this post is going to have a slightly different format than the other posts. We’re going in like rapid fire. Pantheacon is a convention for Pagans, and it’s something that’s kind of important to me. It’s important because many of my friends attend and I think in all that it offers there is a sort of reflection of the positive change in our time. So how much can I fault her for? All of it. Quotes from her book in italics and rage in regular font.
“An enormous fireplace lines one side of the lobby, and a wall of glass the other, revealing an outdoor pool dotted with preteens whose khaki clad parents have no idea of the true theme of this weekend.” There’s that wonderful stark line Mar feels she must draw between the witchy and the non witchy and it’s still more of a reflection of her than of the people surrounding her.
“…or in black denim ensembles that are part goth, part emo (all in New York black, these are my kin by default).” No, they’re not. Her idea of kin, from what I’ve gathered from the previous chapters, is some loose association most likely borne of living in the same country. Kin, I assure you, means something substantial to everyone else. And emo? How dare you.
“…or they dress up simply because they have permission to. I’ve already come to think of this second category as ‘lifestyle Pagans’, out to enjoy themselves (not unlike the Christians who show up at a megachurch mainly for the Playstations and Krispy Kreme doughnuts)…” I don’t see how this isn’t insulting. I’ll give you, there are superficial people in any group, however, the wide sweep of people who dress up because they can, strikes a chord with me. Is it really that hard to imagine at least part of that second group dresses up for themselves, with or without permission because it’s welcomed there and they don’t have to put up with people like Mar for once? Never mind Mar herself thinks she’s doing justice here and not out to enjoy herself in any regard.
Oh, this next part…“At moments, I’m still turned off by the more flamboyant folks on this scene, their florid costumes and right-in-your-face sexuality,* or I am thrown by the foreignness of the ceremonies, sometimes even embarrassed to be in attendance (so out of place)…Regardless of the welcome I’ve received (or slowly earned), I remain an outsider, and I want to get closer to whatever it is Morpheus has access to. (* Plenty of West Coast Pagans are polyamorous-meaning they openly juggle more than one committed relationship at a time- and bisexual. This can make it hard to predict who, among the sexual extroverts, may want to flirt with you.)”
This bitch. Let’s work backwards and the annoyance is guiding my hand to write directly to her. You are an adult, and most sexual extroverts are not fucking assholes. If you say you’re not interested, they back off. Hell, they might even apologize. Don’t throw that fucking footnote in there like all sexually liberated Pagans are trying to get in your pants. Don’t say bisexual like it’s swear word. *whiny voice* and bisexual. It’s perfectly normal, you loosed lipped sheltered pretender. Openly juggle relationships? Anyone who is truly polyamorous tries to find balance between their partners, who they respect enough to not lead on and “juggle”. They had enough respect for you to let you into their circles, which you’ve set on metaphorical fire, every chance you’ve gotten, so try and show a little back. The welcome you’ve received? Embarrassed to be in attendance? Why, because you’re being slightly dishonest about your selfish interests in the Paganism community and think it would be a great boost to your career? Slowly earned through superficial decption and mild interest? Stop me when I am wrong.
“*This is mainly a white crowd, maybe because of the scene’s British roots, maybe because it rose up in tandem with a very white wing of the sixities counterculture. But I soon learn that some Pagan traditions, the influence of the African diaspora religions (Vodou in particular) transcends race lines.)” My annoyance evolves into rage. Does she really think that’s the reason? Not the location, where the African American population in 2012 was barely 3%, or the centuries old tradition of many Pagan practices to not tell other people about your practice because it was sacred? As for it transcending race lines…are you kidding me?
She goes on to talk about the ceremonies she participates in, revealing a vulnerable side to herself, which, for a brief moment, gives my rage a break. She talks about not having a community, and this chapter takes on a sad tone, and yet I have little sympathy. It is hard to be alone, and I give her points for leaping in and trying new things (she recounts her time with a devoted Jesus commune). But that loneliness does not give anyone license to say or do whatever they please with no regard to the consequences. It does not excuse her judgement she displayed towards another member of a ritual, “A fat bodied, misfit,” when the entire point of the ritual was to liberate participants from insecurities.
So I’ll finish this off with a reminder Alex Mar could be anyone. I’m looking at her intentions with writing this book. In sharing the things with which I find fault, I hope that if someone repeats her journey that they do it with more care. I don’t comment on her experiences (though I’m greatly inspired to go to Pantheacon even more now) because those are hers. The approach and the ignorance, however, are still up for debate.
Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels