Her Breath is usually reserved for my poetry but today, I feel the need to speak out….
Let me begin by saying that I was not in attendance at Pantheacon 2012 nor for that matter have I ever attended the gathering. It has not been something I could attend due to cost and distance from where I live. I am aware, however, of the importance of these gatherings. For me, the most important aspect of pagan gatherings is to give those who otherwise have no opportunity, to “taste” the diverse ways in which we practice. Our diversity and freedom of choice in the ways we practice is the one most single thing that attracts all of us in the first place.
I never found a home in Christianity even though I tried for many years. While I was trying to believe as a Christian, I was slowly developing my own personal spirituality and ways of practice, all of which finally blossomed when Goddess grabbed hold of me and said, “You belong to me.” When that happened I opened up to the pagan path, Dianic witchcraft, in particular, and knew I had come home.
I honestly don’t know anyone who has a set of beliefs or practices exactly like mine. Close but not exact, but through our diversity we find beauty and wholeness with each other. Until recently, with my move to Brazil, my work was done entirely online, reaching people all over the world who might not otherwise have access to mentors. This work is done though the Apple Branch. The Apple Branch is a Dianic Tradition. We view Goddess as the Whole of Existence and it is through Her that all else comes. We are for the most part, an all women group. From the Branch is the mentoring program online and only women are admitted.
There is some fallacy of human nature that allows people to view practicing as women only as exclusion rather than inclusion. When we gather in an all women rite we are offering a sacred space for the benefit of those attending – the rite is for women, especially if the focus is Women’s Mysteries. Those rites center on menstruation, birthing, and cessation of menstruation, all functions of women who came into this world at birth as female. Even if the rite does not focus on those Mysteries, women need sacred space to grow and heal from growing up in a world that often excludes, puts down, or otherwise attempts to control them as the “less than” gender. Coming together in this way has nothing to do with excluding men – it is about giving women a place of their own.
Dianics are bad mouthed all the time for being unbalanced or for being “man haters.” That is ridiculous! It is much like whether we view a glass as half full or half empty. We can view designation of who may or may not enter our sacred space as a way of inclusion, not exclusion. Now it appears, we are also haters of those who have chosen to live their lives as women but who were not born with the physical and genetic aspects of what constitutes female. Again, untrue!
What is at question here is not really about excluding or including. The question is about the right to choose who may come into our personal space.
When people attend gatherings like Pantheacon, they have great hopes of being able to experience rituals and workshops not available to them at any other time. Why should a woman not be allowed to attend a woman only rite if she chooses? Why should a man not be allowed to attend a rite for men only? And how wonderful it might be if there were rites for only those who are transgender? What richness that might offer in the choices available.
As a priestess, I always have the right to say who may or may not enter my Circles. I provide women only space. I also accept men as students as well as those who are transgender but they are not included in the space intended for women only. Our women only rites’ entire focus is on being female and certainly could cause a sense of exclusion to any who were not born female.
When I work with males, whether transgender or not, I change the energy and focus to be inclusive for their needs. And when we all come together, the energy and focus changes again.
When women wanted to attend the Rite offered by Z Budapest, they had to pass through people sitting outside the doors who objected to their right to be there. This to me was clearly a disruption for those wanting to attend. It certainly would have had an adverse effect on me, had I been required to pass through those who gathered to protest my right to choose and would clearly have had a negative impact on the spiritual focus I sought. I would have been totally “pissed off” and would have had to “regroup” in order to bring my focus to where it needed to be.
Why would we not have a right to choose? Why would anyone wish to “force” their opinion onto others in paganism? I thought we left all of that behind when we chose an open, accepting path, a path that embraces the right to diversity and the right to choose. Personally, I did not come to this path with a need to control others. That is not what our power is about. There is a need to have all sorts of sacred space, for women, for men, for any who seek ways in which to be closer to Her, whatever that looks like.
Who are we to say we do not have the freedom to choose how we do that or what it might look like? Who are we to think we have a right to force our views or opinion upon others?