Presenting Ourselves to the World

It is not a surprise that as it was being founded, Neopaganism looked to an imagined pastoral and pre-industrial way of life as an inspiration.

Modern Paganism’s inaugural moment in the United States, about 50 years ago in the late 1960s into the mid-1970s, occurred at the same time that the Romantic idealizations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Dungeons and Dragons and Renaissance Faires and the newly created fantasy genre and the rosy aspirations of the “back to the land” movement were taking over the aesthetic and emotional landscape of young people: particularly smart, geeky college students of the exact demographic which eventually became the Neopagan base.

After all, so much of the ecological crisis we face can be put down to the damage caused by industry. Why not harken back to a time before it existed?

Especially when you can throw in fairies and elves?

Thus, the standard “Pagan look”—at least in the U.S., but I think it has become international—became that of an idealized Jolly Olde Englande of flowing medieval velvets and loose pants, kilts and leather corsets and peasant shirts and various equipment slung about the waist.

What we think of as “Pagan attire” hasn’t changed all that much since then, though the palette has added quite a bit of piercing and tattoos and wildly colored hair and Gothy and BDSMy and even Steampunky qualities to the original Renfaire aesthetic.

These clothes—many of them, anyway—feel delicious to wear and touch, make you feel pretty and…noble, somehow. Regal.

I mean…look at these beautiful people:

 

Personally, I love this stuff. I’m a costuming and living history geek, so I will joyfully dive into the fun of Pagan dress-up when a suitable opportunity presents itself. A festival, say, or a convention, or a ritual.

That said, I think that while there are times for us to express ourselves through our clothing and adornment, there are also times for us to strategically present ourselves to the surrounding culture in a manner which will be more apt to achieve our goals.

This raises the much-maligned (in Pagan circles) spectre of respectability politics: a concept which has been criticized as being a surrender of who we are and what we stand for. Critics argue that to present as anything other than exactly who we are, in all our colorful creativity and diversity, all the time, no matter the context, is a betrayal of that diversity.

For some, this may be true. I’m not going to tell you otherwise, if you feel very strongly about looking exactly as you choose to look, all the time. Go ahead, with my full support.

But I think we should acknowledge the fact that each of us isn’t a single person who interacts with everyone in the same way. We don’t interact with our lovers as we do with our mothers or our employers. We show different facets of ourselves depending on context. And we have the power to do that in relation to the powerful and influential, too.

More broadly, let us acknowledge that we cannot disentangle ourselves from the systems that run our culture. Much as we might wish to, we are a part of the societies and economies we occupy (or, as some might say, which occupy us).

And that gives us a responsibility to try to influence them.

So let me suggest some thoughts about ways that—for those of us willing to do so—toning down our difference and meeting the surrounding culture where it lives may help us.

The first is that Pagans desperately need some credibility. Whenever the mainstream press wants to do a story on us—which thus far is pretty much always at Halloween—the same faces are generally featured and the stories tend to be laughing up their sleeves at us.

That frames how most people see us. When I tell people in my professional circles that I’m a Pagan—pretty rare, given how it lands—the response is often amusement, not curiosity. Much less respect.

I would like Pagans to be a part of conversations about how we relate to our world and one another. I would like for our visions, however radical, at least to be in the mix of ideas discussed, instead of living in our little blogosphere bubble.

We cannot transform a society we do not engage. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can.

It’s unfortunate, and speaks to the dreary conformity of our culture, but the price of being taken seriously is that in those contexts, we have to not look like Legolas or Gandalf. We have to look like serious-minded people whose opinions are thoughtful and whose values and practices carry weight.

Now, I’m the first one to grant that this is easy for me to say, as a cis white male. I can shave and get a business haircut and take out my earring and put on a suit and fit right in at a legislator’s office. And I do, when I go lobbying (actually, I leave the earring in, but that’s pretty ho-hum these days).

I think of it as slipping on a disguise and infiltrating the houses of power. I don’t forget who I am. I use my ability to “pass” to get before people who can make important decisions impacting the Earth and our communities.

To my knowledge, I’ve never seen another Pagan at the State Capitol. I wish more of us were there, speaking up for our values.

I don’t lead with my religious identity when I engage decision makers, because I know it will undermine my credibility. Most religious representatives don’t have to do that, and that bothers me. Christians and Jews and even Muslims and Hindus can march right in, announce themselves and their communities, and expect a respectful reception from most listeners.

After 50 years of modern Paganism, I think we should be able to command some respect, too.

It’s a problem to me that we don’t. Because what we have to say as a community about values, about policies, and about the Sacred Earth is critically important at this time.

So I’m going to make a change. When I engage community and political leadership, I’m going to wear my Atheopagan lapel pin. If I’m asked about it, I will briefly describe what it means. If that means that my credibility drops, well, so be it. Maybe people like me have to be the thin edge of the wedge.

We have wise people in this community: people of heart and intellect and compassion and courage. Their voices should be heard by those who make decisions on behalf of all of us.

And we have to start somewhere.

 

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45 thoughts on “Presenting Ourselves to the World

  1. I agree that it is time we as pagans or Atheopagans need to speak up. Yet at the same time depending on what your background is. Speaking up can cause more problems than one wishes to encounter. How so you say?; I live in a Senior housing community where predominantly the majority are christian or some version there of. I can be who I am any time of the day I wish. Yet as long as I remain quiet of it, I am left alone concerning it. Otherwise I might find myself having to move from all the constant word leveling as to why I am what I am. I know, so? Easy when you have someone else to help back you up. So, yes speaking up is good, yet knowing when is an altogether different situation.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m unwilling to “gatekeeper ” like that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable just to want to quietly carry on your practice without being molested, but given the hostility of some Christians, some folks just don’t have that luxury.

        Not all Pagan paths have to be about struggle, and especially an older person isn’t unreasonable in just wanting to be left in peace.

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  2. *applause*
    And a point to add that a leader mentioned at Paganicon last year: if more people dont start speaking up and being representatives worthy of respect from the larger society, then it will always be the crazy ones who speak for us. And there’s been far too much of that .

    Thanks for this. I’m an academic Pagan and president of the local AAR and you’re damn ight I have to be respectable among the religious scholars who are my colleagues. It works. They respect me, and I them. It does work. It doesn’t if you show up at a conference in a velvet gown and a corset calling yourself Galadriel. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “To my knowledge, I’ve never seen another Pagan at the State Capitol. I wish more of us were there, speaking up for our values.” Interesting argument there. What I’m reading you to say….is for us to not be “out” in funny clothes but to be “out” verbally and w/subtle markings (such as a pin or necklace). “Out” in ways that are comfortable for the power-structure to relate to as we work to change the world. Finding myself wondering that there might be quite a few Pagans in the state capital: costuming themselves as you suggest already. And since we’re a highly populated state: odds are quite good that you don’t know all the Pagans KWIM? Some of us feel safe to be “out” and others of us do not.

    And I would suggest that for Paganism, Atheopaganism is more palatable for majority of non-Pagans: since it isn’t including working w/ magick and other Godds. Tho your point about sharing the same colorization as others making it easier to be respected than “wacko clothes” as well as quite different beliefs is one really worth considering.

    Years ago, at a Berkeley Pagan Pride parade: I yearned for a contingent of people in their day-to-day work clothes (office workers/librarians/doctors/teachers/carpenters etc) marching behind a banner that said WE’RE YOUR NEIGHBORS – WE’RE PAGANS TOO. Have yet to see anything like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess what I mean when I say I’ve never seen other Pagans at the State Capitol is that I’ve never seen anyone I recognized from Pantheacon or other gatherings. Certainly there are many I would not recognize.

      Not being “out” in terms of not announcing ourselves as being Pagan means that our credibility as a community does not increase. Which is why I’m going to start marking myself with a “conversation-starter”. I’ll write on what happens when I do after that happens.

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    • If you want to see some Pagans doing good work at state capitals, check out Selena Fox and others associated with Circle Sanctuary. They’ve been doing some damn fine work for decades and gained a good deal of respect.

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  4. I am not certain that 50 years really is all that long. Of the religions you note in your article the youngest is Islam which has existed since the 7th century.

    There isn’t much that pagans believe that is much kookier than other religions but we have grown up with an expectation that they are to be respected. Are velvet medieval dresses more out of place than saffron robes, turbans, priests’ robes etc or are we just not as used to seeing them as something to be respected.

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      • Seconding that response.
        None of these appearance choices are required of our religion, and most have nothing to do with religious or cultural expression. Sone is fun personal expression; some is a subcultural code among ourselves. And some are just silly.

        I’ll say it again, and maybe get more pointed – I’m fed up with cosplayers being the spokespeople for our community while wrongly arguing that fantasy garb is part of our religion. It is not. It never has. More importantly, the people who won legal precedents for Pagans by fighting for our freedoms in courts across the country knew darn well they couldn’t in wizard wear.

        Cosplay for your own pleasure at the time and place where appropriate — fests, rituals, cons, circles, blots, home, etc…but pack it away for when you go to court, talk to the media, represemt your workplace, or run for public office.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is plenty of disagreement within Islam as to what is mandated. Many Muslin women will insist they wear hijab of their own calling. Of course renfaire garb is not comparable. Those of us called to wear a Thor’s hammer or pentacle are, and we should not call on them to do any different than any other group.

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      • Being “called”–a subjective and personal determination– is not the same as being told by your religious leadership that you must do something, which is generally why people wear hijab, yarmulke, etc.

        Most people won’t recognize a Thor’s hammer, so no harm there, but I don’t see how it makes a difference whether you wear a pentacle UNDER your clothes as above them. Why deliberately provoke people with a symbol Christians have successfully demonized?

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      • Why “provoke” people? That smacks of victim blaming. “What did she expect going out in that skimpy outfit”?

        More to the point, those who closet to make their oppressors more comfortable will get no respect. And they deserve none.

        Closeting/”toning it down” has a centuries old, 100% proven track record of failure. It has been tried by Jews, LGBT people, and pretty much every religious or ethnic minority that ever walked the earth. None of them ever gained a shred of real safety or dignity until they claimed their identity with no asterisk or apology. We are delusional if we think we’re going to be the exception to that rule.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We disagree. Both on framing and on the substance of the question.

        Personally, I choose not to consider myself a “victim”. And I choose to look at the process of bridging cultures not to be one of struggling against “oppression”. Victim consciousness much?

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      • I should be clear. I’m not trying to sway hardcore, reactionary Christians. Those people are beyond us. But most people aren’t like that–they’re much more moderate and would give a reasonable person a listen if they seemed like a…well, a reasonable person. I see political advocacy of the type I’ve described as outreach, not war. Because if it’s war, we’re hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, and doomed.

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  5. Mark I respect you because you speak with an open mind and yet seek to the depth of a situation. I read all the comments here and to some degree I agree with a certain individual (some degree). Unfortunately many religions require a kind of dress code which is fine. Yet a dress code does not define the person. Toning it down/ closeting, whether the individual wants to say what history taught or not. Again is entirely up to the individual and what makes them comfortable both mentally and emotionally. Most people after a period of time has passed; do not care what you wear (jewelry, clothing etc). Learning what works in a christian community and what doesn’t; is what most of us do. As to a “victim”, if one chooses to be so in a religious setting that is up to them. Different from slowly letting people get used to YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s an element of good sense in arguments that people should be conscious of how their outward presentation may be perceived in different circumstances. I just reject the whole paradigm of “respectability politics” in which some members of a subculture or movement claim the right and duty to police or “clean up” the public image of that movement by marginalizing those they consider “too freaky” to belong. It is an arrogant, toxic and ultimately counterproductive dynamic, and one which no one in socially progressive circles would ever even dream of employing against any group other than white, straight people of privilege. The assumption seems to be that anything white middle class suburbanites create or adopt simply can’t be sincere or meaningful or authentic in any way, since it doesn’t meet some arbitrary bar of “ancient” provenance. If it strikes you as silly in any way, it can all be dismissed as “cosplay.”

      The idea that some people’s more colorful traditions are “real” and merit respect because their religion “commands them to do it’ is a meaningless distinction, at least in First Amendment and employment law. The government and employers are specifically not allowed to judge the validity of someone’s religious belief based on whether it is sanctioned by a mainstream religious group. It can be a completely heretical interpretation of that religion and unique to one person. In fact it does not even have to be a theistic belief, merely one held with the sincerity and depth of a religious conviction. That of course is not binding on on Pagan’s opinion of another’s dress or tradition, but then let’s call that for what it is. I’m a bit surprised that an atheopagan would hitch an argument to the assumptions of mainstream Christianity which have been used to deny the basic rights of non-conformists.

      I have little sympathy for those who complain that the Pagans getting the limelight in the media are the so-called “freaks”. If you want your own part of the subculture to be better represented, stop complaining and start showing up. There are as many ways to do Pagan paths as there are individual Pagans. So long as each of us isn’t harming anyone else, our only directives on how to express ourselves as Pagans derive only from our own hearts and minds and gods (if any). How each of us presents to the world, and the consequences, are born individually. No Pagan has any duty to make sure other Pagans are comfortably accepted by their local PTA or clergy luncheon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, please..We *do* show up. In college classrooms, doctors offices, schools, courthouses, factories, nursjng homes, restaurants… we just leave our velvet and costumery at home when we do.
        And here we have the issue… while this argument about individual Pagans’ personal expressions and how they aren’t responsible for other Pagans’ acceptance or interactions with larger social groups is being expressed here…
        …a reminder: you are part of a *community*.
        Yes, you *are* responsible for considering what’s at stake for those in your Pagan community who do work and serve and participate in the spaces that aren’t exclusively Pagan. You do have to think of others…you may choose to wear all the velvet festie wear you wish every day, but if you are considerate of those in your community whose livelihood and relationships depend on being less dramatically wardrobed,maybe weigh the social space appropriateness of your expression when you are asked to be in it for the rest of the community. And if you think this is all bowing to “white middle class suburbanite” culture, maybe theres another kind of “showing up” you haven’t gotten around to yet.
        Think of your people and what they do. Its not just about you and your personal positionality.

        Liked by 1 person

      • >There’s an element of good sense in arguments that people should be conscious of how their outward presentation may be perceived in different circumstances. I just reject the whole paradigm of “respectability politics” in which some members of a subculture or movement claim the right and duty to police or “clean up” the public image of that movement by marginalizing those they consider “too freaky” to belong. It is an arrogant, toxic and ultimately counterproductive dynamic, and one which no one in socially progressive circles would ever even dream of employing against any group other than white, straight people of privilege. The assumption seems to be that anything white middle class suburbanites create or adopt simply can’t be sincere or meaningful or authentic in any way, since it doesn’t meet some arbitrary bar of “ancient” provenance. If it strikes you as silly in any way, it can all be dismissed as “cosplay.”

        You have encapsulated in a single paragraph a paradigm of political powerlessness. No one said dressing like Gandalf isn’t “sincere”—merely that it’s counterproductive. I have been clear that if people don’t want to present themselves in a credible manner, I accept and support their choice. As I have also been clear, repeatedly, that antiquity doesn’t not conduct validity. But there is a difference between validity—being factually correct—and being credible: being listened to. It is not “toxic”, nor “arrogant” to want your religion not to be a laughingstock.

        >The idea that some people’s more colorful traditions are “real” and merit respect because their religion “commands them to do it’ is a meaningless distinction, at least in First Amendment and employment law. The government and employers are specifically not allowed to judge the validity of someone’s religious belief based on whether it is sanctioned by a mainstream religious group. It can be a completely heretical interpretation of that religion and unique to one person. In fact it does not even have to be a theistic belief, merely one held with the sincerity and depth of a religious conviction. That of course is not binding on on Pagan’s opinion of another’s dress or tradition, but then let’s call that for what it is. I’m a bit surprised that an atheopagan would hitch an argument to the assumptions of mainstream Christianity which have been used to deny the basic rights of non-conformists.

        I’m a practical person, and the world is burning. It is absurd to insist on marginalization when, at very little cost, we can have some social traction. If you really think what the LAW says about people judging the validity and credibility of a given religious tradition has any influence on how people’s impressions influence their behavior, you are sorely mistaken. And no one has discussed “denying rights” to anyone. People have a RIGHT to do all kinds of ineffectual things. Doesn’t mean they’re not ineffectual.

        >I have little sympathy for those who complain that the Pagans getting the limelight in the media are the so-called “freaks”. If you want your own part of the subculture to be better represented, stop complaining and start showing up. There are as many ways to do Pagan paths as there are individual Pagans. So long as each of us isn’t harming anyone else, our only directives on how to express ourselves as Pagans derive only from our own hearts and minds and gods (if any). How each of us presents to the world, and the consequences, are born individually. No Pagan has any duty to make sure other Pagans are comfortably accepted by their local PTA or clergy luncheon.

        I AM showing up. And I never said anyone had a DUTY to do anything. My post was a call to action for those who are open to heeding it. I believe the community could really use some credibility. Yes, there are as many Pagan paths as there are Pagans. But there is a collective identity we all end up wearing, and I believe we DO have some individual responsibility at least to think about that.

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      • I still maintain none of you would be caught dead advancing these arguments in the context of any other disfavored minority. You would never dare to suggest Muslim women should unveil or that Muslim men should shave their beards and westernize their clothing choices for the sake of “social traction.” This despite the fact that such dress arouses orders of magnitude more fear and suspicion in their host societies than any “Gandalf robe” ever did. You would never make them responsible for their own marginalization. Nor would you ever suggest that transgender or non-gender binary folks have some community responsibility to dress or present in more conventional ways so as to make mainstream society “more comfortable.” You would never dare to tell women to dress a certain way as a condition of being “listened to” on issues of sexual harassment and workplace equality.

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      • Wow, you really aren’t getting it, are you?

        I’d recommend letting the “disfavored minorities” you reference speak for themselves on this one. You dont know for a fact what decisions they have to make, and how often they do every day — and how it is nothing look like we’re talking about here. Why my Muslim students choose to wear.their hijab one day and opt not to the next is not known to us and not for us to analogize with wearing fairy wings while.out running errands.

        And comparing your perceived lack of freedom to wear constumery and call it religious with covering up to prevent sexual harassment is not apt. Its pathetic, really.

        Maybe try.it your way; go deliver a speech or address a classroom or your local school board in your festie garb and see how many people listen to what you actually say, and how many people just remember and talk about how you look, and dont listen at all. And do so to an audience that you wish to reach about an issue that’s terribly important to you and your community…then maybe you’ll get what we’re talking about here.

        More to the point; if you get invited as a Pagan to do interfaith work at a local mosque, temple, church, or synagogue (as I have) where these places have appearance and dress rules, do you show respect and tone down your garb while there, or Gandalf up regardless of respect just to have it your way and stick it to the suburbanites?

        Years ago, a makeover show addressed the concerns of a woman who was a witch and worked as a psychic in Salem MA who was being dismissed by her school board and other parents and the important issues she was trying to raise; when she wasn’t swirling around in full cosplay witch costumes, she slipped around in Baphomet tshirts and pajama pants. The hosts gave her tips on how to maintain her personal expressiveness through her appearance in a more professional way (that brought her in more clients), and to stop the self-pitying crap of being the poor oppressed Pagan in her town because she couldn’t figure out that her wardrobe.choices were actually working against her and what she wanted.

        This isn’t “conforming” – this is being strategic. And so is accepting that you should share a community with people different from you who deserve respect too – whether they are “middle class suburbanites” or “disapproved minorities”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Doc has already replied eloquently to this comment, but I have one more thing to add, which is that I am in no way “making people responsible for their own marginalization”. Instead, I am recognizing that that marginalization is real, and working strategically to ease it. In an abstract world, people should be able to wear whatever they like, but pretending that we live in that abstract world is deliberately obtuse, if we actually care if people will treat us with any reaction other than derision.

        Further, the idea that there is some equivalence between the mandates of particular religions and, say, women who are subject to sexual harassment is simply a poor analogy. No one should be subject to harassment or assault, full stop, and it doesn’t matter what they’re wearing for that to be true. There is a huge gulf of difference between thinking someone not worthy of credulity on a political subject because they are dressed, say, in a clown suit, and thinking it acceptable to harass and/or assault them.

        To my knowledge, no Pagan path (unless you count the African diasporic religions, and I would never suggest that they shouldn’t wear their head coverings) dictates the wearing of the kind of outfits which are often displayed by Pagans in contacts with media. They may be a reflection of personal expression, but they are not a reflection of a religious imperative. The idea that we should simply hold our collective breath and turn blue until we are viewed with respect flies in the face of every human nature. Respect is gained through familiarity, and familiarity is gained through understanding of commonalities. It does not serve us to flaunt our “Otherness” in relation to those we hope will work with us to advance our ends.

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      • The response gained from people when you hide your “otherness” to cater to their comfort level is not respect. It is, at best, a conditional and very fickle sort of approval. It’s the difference between being “liked” and respected. Respect comes from demonstrating consistent and honorable conduct and it comes from walking your real walk and fully owning who and what you are without apology. That’s true whether you’re a business casual white bread suburbanite, and extreme body modification artist with full face tatts and a split tongue, or a Rainbow Tribe Hippie whose goes by the name “Rain.” Here I will offer a quote from the only truly wise man of our age, Tyrion Lannister:

        “Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.”

        That means not going out of your way to present your most extreme aspect of “otherness” to strangers for shock value, but it also means not hiding it or pretending to be something you’re not as the price of admission to a seat at the table with someone you fancy as allies. If the reality of who you are has to be cloaked and sugar coated for them to get their heads around talking to you, they’re not going to be allies who have your back when push comes to shove. If they’re at your back at all, it’s to push you under the bus for social or political advantage.

        What that means for me is if someone wants to work with me on an interfaith council or whatever, they better be sure they want the me I really am, not the me that’s airbrushed and edited for whatever delicate sensibilities they may have. I’m not really the velvet cape or Gandalf sort. I tend to wear business casual pretty much all the time, but that’s not being “strategic”, it’s just who I am. But I’m never going to hide my pentacle ring and if they ask me to lead some sort of ritual, I’m not going to think twice about wearing my black robe or other ritual outfits. If they want to meet the family or otherwise breach the subject, I’m not going to conceal the fact of my polyamory. I’m not going to disown or soft pedal the realities of Pagans who practice ritual nudity (as I do), left handed paths or the Gandalfs or steampunk Pagans or the guy who always wears goat horns on his head as part of his Paganism.

        If that’s all too much for them, so be it. They have nothing I need that badly. There’s something about the respectability politics notion of Pagan ambassadorship which is condescending not only to us but also to our potential allies. The assumption is that people of good will will never be able to see our common concerns unless we paper over our real differences in culture and theology. Unless we convince them that Pagans are all really just Presbyterians with a thing for the environment and goddess theology.

        If that’s who and what you really are, great. Own it and present it fully. But don’t expect “the community” as a whole to erase or photoshop our own realities so as to help keep up the charade.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “If that’s all too much for them, so be it. They have nothing I need that badly. ”

        Except that in the case of the people I’m talking about, they DO. They have the ability to make decisions that have a profound impact on land, water, air, ecosystems and climate. So whatever petty insistence I may feel about asserting my otherness pales by comparison with the ability to influence such decisions.

        That’s not a “charade”. It’s life and death. And yes, I think the community should be able to put its eye on the ball and focus on what’s really important.

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      • Sincerely asking, Doc. You mention:

        “More to the point; if you get invited as a Pagan to do interfaith work at a local mosque, temple, church, or synagogue (as I have) where these places have appearance and dress rules, do you show respect and tone down your garb while there, or Gandalf up regardless of respect just to have it your way and stick it to the suburbanites?”

        I have never been to an open ritual that asked non-pagans to dress in robes or anything else other than what they chose. Have you?

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      • Well, I wasnt talking about open ritual there..I was talking about being an interfaith guest elsewhere…

        But here in Paganistan, there are occasional requests to dress weather appropriate (it gets cold in MN) or to dress knowing there will be children present (eg skyclad not recommended)…

        Maybe it’s a midwestern community thing, but public open rituals tend not to be dressyup affairs – even Pagan Pride this year was casual. (Minnesotans just aren’t dressyup types). Garb and festive wear tends to be saved for fests and private events. And we all have our symbolic jewelry and our “stealth ” jewelry depending on where we are..

        Does that help?

        Liked by 1 person

      • “I’m a she, by the way.” I am VERY SORRY for having leapt to the assumption that a “Doc” was male. Still working to wash that sort of thing out of my programming.

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  6. Unfortunately this whole issue has gotten out of hand. Dare or dare not, suggest or don’t etc. None of this has anything to do with what works or doesn’t work for an individual. If someone wants to go “skyclad” for a ritual and “they” are comfortable with; plus no one else has a problem who cares. All this bickering over a particular ‘religious custom dress code” still does not make the person. Yes in certain countries a particular dress codes is there and that particular area may deem it necessary. Yet, it does not determine WHO the person is. This issue of “sexual harassment etc” in this day and age will continue till it has gotten so old and worn out no one will care or bother period. I can’t and don’t use fancy words to say something. Who I am and how I dress or don’t dress will NEVER EVER decide my life in any form. If you don’t like how I dress, then look the other way.

    All this issue with the “White suburbanites etc” only creates more problems than it is worth. Take it apart, divide it, discuss it till it is totally useless and you still wind up with nothing. Each group or what have you decides what works for them or against them. You don’t like it and want to rant and rave about it; go ahead if it makes you happy and satisfies your inner something go for it. End of subject.

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  7. And one more thing: this idea that the respect that comes when we downplay our otherness “isn’t respect”.

    I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous.

    Respect is built through human connection. Human connection is facilitated by people viewing a given person as being WORTHY of their attention and time to get to know better. Appearing outlandish and silly in the eyes of people you would like to respect you is a barrier to them giving you enough time and attention so they can find out that you are actually a thoughtful and reasonable person with something of value to say.

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