Epilogue…maybe?

reconciliation-speech-bubble-1

I’ve just read some marvelous posts which I’ll link to in a moment. I’ve been anxiously awaiting since PantheaCon ended on how the “Wiccanate Privilege” discussion(s) were going from the Polytheists who have attended. So, let’s begin in some sort of chronological order…or at least I think it is. It might not be, but these are the numerics as I read them when they posted to my e-mail, and before reading my blog I highly recommend you going to these links and reading what these brilliant people have to say first.

1. T. Thorn Coyle started it off by discussing her opening prayer that she presented at a “Pagans and Privilege” discussion panel the aftermath of it. Personally, I love Thorn and I enjoy her posts which I see on Facebook. I also admire her listening skills. You can find her report here.

2. Anomolous Thracian was the next one to come through. He also attended PantheaCon, and was honored to be a part of Ekklesia Antinou’s Sancti ritual for two recently deceased members of the Community. You can find that report here.

3. Next came PSLV’s blog report in which e** participated in the “Wiccanate and Privlege” panel discussion. The report, which is both informative and sad, is here.

4. John Halstead’s PantheaCon report is here, and mentions my legal name (Luis A. Valadez) as well as links to two previous blog posts of mine. Thank you John for the nod.

5. In response to some of John’s personal views on hyphens in Polytheism, Galina Krasskova has her blog post located here.

Needless to say, it’s been quite the busy week post-PantheaCon 2014, and the discussions and opinions which have formed within the Polytheist Community will no doubt reverberate for a long time to come. I hope you honestly took the time to read those blogs before reading my own, otherwise it’ll be like jumping in the middle of a sentence or coming late to a discussion and not contributing anything worthwhile with your opinions (what I will now lovingly refer to as “Starhawking,” and if you’ve read the blogs, you’ll know why). Everything is taken out of context with shouts of “But there’s more important things in the world! Waaaaaahhh!!” Moving on…

Pagan Pride Day – First, Apologies
So for the past several posts I have covered what’s been going on between my Temple and the committee in charge of an approaching Pagan Pride Day event slated for this Fall south of where I live. Not only has the discussion taken place with my blog, but also in the comments section as well. It has also taken place off this blog within Facebook messages. Before I update everyone on what has taken place, I’d like to take this time out to say something:

I would like to apologize to the Local Coordinator of the approaching Pagan Pride Event. Her name is Kasha. I identify her because she identified herself on my blog comments which you can find here. So, just to be clear, she is the one who identified with her name and job description, not I. We spoke off of the blog posts and in Facebook where she stated that she was disappointed to see quotes from the closed Pagan Pride Day forum on Facebook from people. She thought it was neither kind nor respectful of me to do such a thing. The quotes have no names attached to them. However, for the sake of peace I willingly extend an apology to those people who did not expect their quotes extracted. I apologize to them for posting without their permission.

Pagan Pride Day – Second, Confrontation
But, while I have apologized (and I do mean it sincerely), there is another problem. The problem stems from Kasha’s husband/significant other Ray who posted on the PPD Facebook forum, my comments, and also seemed to stalk the blog-o-sphere wherever my name was mentioned to throw a tirade and twist the truth of the matter. Sigh. Well, here’s where the problem lies:

First, Ray’s own comments on my blog are quite a bit, but one stands out to me the most:

No one is singling you out, You were confrontational on the PPD discussion and brought a private discussion into the public. I get that you are unable to perceive a generic ritual, just because you don’t get it does not mean that is is not possible. While I don’t know you personally I have an idea of who and what you are. You are very bright boy, who has a keen memory, you are somewhat charismatic, and manipulative which are all assets for a cult leader but you also feign victimization and try use an alleged brain injury to your advantage. You have a tantrum when you don’t get your way, and then rather than trying to resolve issues you blog about how terrible other people are. Grow up dude.

I like this comment, I really do, and here’s why. It reveals everything I need to know about this guy and the people in charge, whom I liked. Kasha, the LC and spouse, has said nothing about what Ray has done. Nothing at all. It’s especially important considering Ray is an Administrator on the Facebook forum and openly insulted me by telling me I was here to get my ego stroked, and that to have pride was to have hubris.

For those of you who do not know, I am disabled. I have a traumatic right brain injury and all the nasty side effects that go with it: memory loss, memory retention issues, unbalanced coordination, seizures, insomnia, flooding, and the like. I sustained this injury in August 2012 when I was in a car accident, and I have talked about my subsequent struggles with depression and suicide from this incident in the links which can be found below:

Faith in Times of Crisis.”

“Coping with Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins.”

But according to Ray, my brain injury is “alleged.” In other words, I’m lying. Great way to get some more support there, Ray – attack the disabled. *clap* *clap* *clap* He also calls me manipulative and a cult leader, and claims I have a “keen memory.” That one hit low, because I used to have a photographic memory until my brain injury occurred. Now, I have trouble remembering a lot which is why I write incessantly as often as I am able. I have calendars and “To Do” lists on my walls and fridge so I can be reminded to do the littlest thing. Even bathing is something I forget to do! Ew. Needless to say also, that Ray’s comments pissed off my husband, my girlfriend, my immediate family, my friends, as well as my own Temple members.

Pagan Pride Day – Third, Damage Control
If everyone reads the comments and blogs, you’ll note that even when I am talking with Ray, none of my questions or issues are being addressed. So what happened in the land of Facebook? Well, Kasha did the only thing she could do: damage control. She subsequently kicked not only me out of the Facebook forum, but also each of my Temple members in turn. Here’s the problem: only two actually posted their issues on the entire comments section, and everyone was very cordial and professional. The other 3 Temple members said nothing and because of their own lives only were able to read everything going on last minute before they realized they were blocked! Why would my entire group be punished for something I am personally talking about on my blog? Why would they be kicked out?

What’s worse is that the resolution to this entire matter was that I was told to come meet with the Local Coordinator and other people who had “impressions” of me from their interactions online. Um, seriously? These people don’t even know me, and I’m supposed to sit down like a scolded schoolboy in the principal’s office to listen to other people and their “impressions” like I am in an intervention? What kind of good management is this? This is anything but healthy conflict resolution, instead making the entire matter worse. I haven’t even been apologized to by Ray or Kasha regarding Ray’s attacks and accusations upon me. It’s sad. But, why I am bringing any of this up in the first place?

Pagan Pride Day – Fourth, Resolution
It seems that at PantheaCon everyone was defensive. I mean Pagans. PSLV talks about eir experiences on the panel when people assumed and spoke about eir temple’s beliefs and practices. One even went so far as to shout that the PantheaCon panel wasn’t interfaith, it was in-TRA-faith!

No folks, it’s all INTERFAITH. It always has been. Any Pagan event that is held which welcomes people from different Temples, cults, devotees and Traditions is bound to be interfaith, because we all come from different spiritual and ethnic backgrounds. We all have different philosophies and cultures, not to mention different Gods and spirits that we work with. We also all use different paradigms: Traditional Wicca, Neo-Wicca, Feri, Heathen, Celtic Recon, ADF, Hellenic Polytheist, Strix Craft, Druidry, etc. And in turn many independent devotees, solitary practitioners and groups may amalgamate ideas from different religious belief systems such as Hindi sects, Buddhism, or even Christianity. We are all so very different from each other it’s not even funny. In the Greater Pagan Community has been the joke, “Ask a Pagan 3 different questions and you’ll get 6 different answers,” or something to that effect.

So, in a way, we’ve always acknowledged each other’s differences. We’ve always respected that no one person can speak for all Pagans. Our Community has shunned anything remotely defining or dogmatically implying that there should be a definition of “Pagan.” Yet, with all of this anarchic-type of behavior which has defined our movement since its inception, we have an issue getting along with Polytheists who are devout to their Gods and spirits and whose ritual facets drastically differ from the American Neo-Wiccan “norm.”

Let’s be honest here: it isn’t Wicca’s fault that so many have copied the ritual frameworks of Traditional Wicca because it was Trad Wicca which came out first and has a heavy history behind it. Pick up a book on Paganism and it will be Wicca inspired. That’s awesome, despite the continued protests of many within the Traditional Wiccan community that American Neo-Wiccans co-opt their systems. But I’ll post that in another blog. For this one, we should be clear that Wicca is the “Pagan Norm.” And my Temple and Tradition is not Wiccan.

We are Hellenic Polytheist. Our Gods are independent Beings with Their own desires, tastes, loves, and stories. I don’t need to defend Them. I don’t need to fight for Them. I don’t need to justify Their behaviors within the Myths. I worship and serve. I pray and offer. I uphold my covenant with Them. I cannot emphasize this enough:

My ways are different than your ways!
My beliefs are different than your beliefs!
My culture is different than your culture!

Pagan Pride Day – The End
Because of the kerfuffle created, as of now my Temple will no longer participate in the approaching Pagan Pride Day event, which in and of itself is sad. We had a chance to network and share our spaces and to respect our differences, yet the end result is one of defensiveness and pointing the finger that I am the one in the wrong while I am trying to defend my tradition. Not the Gods, but my Tradition: the ways in which I have been revealed by the Gods on how to connect with Them through the lifeline that is the format of our Temple’s devotional cultus.

So to move forward, I am banding together with my fellow Polytheists and am planning on attending the Polytheist Leadership Conference. I’m going to find out the cost from where I live to its location in New York. Once I come up with the cost, I will be creating a specific blog post with a link to ask for donations. Honestly, I can’t make it there on my own folks. And if you’d like to send me there, I’d be really grateful. If you believe I have something worthwhile to give to this growing Community, I’d love to meet you there.

My girlfriend will probably be accompanying me, and I’ll work on trying to cover those costs as well. Honestly, because of my disability I need someone familiar with me the whole plane ride there and back again. Plus, she’s a member of my Temple and an intelligent young woman that I know can contribute as well. So I’ll be registering shortly here. Let’s see what Work we can do for our Gods and for our Community. Let’s see what new strides we can do together. We probably won’t agree on a whole lot (or maybe I’m wrong and we will), but if anything we’ve learned, it’s healthy conflict resolution and how to have discussions like able adults.

To this, to you, I raise high my glass in honor of my Beloved Dionysus, and bless you all. I look forward to seeing you at the Polytheist Leadership Conference.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
~Oracle~

**PSLV is metagender, and so certain pronouns will fit better than traditional binary gender ones. I pray I was able to reflect PSLV’s identity and preferences in this blog. Any mistakes I ask for eir forgiveness.

6 thoughts on “Epilogue…maybe?

  1. Thank you for this, Oracle!

    [The only minor difficulty is that my initials are PSVL, not PSLV, but that's okay--everyone knows you're talking about "me" in the above!]

    I am saddened as well to hear that you won’t be able to do Pagan Pride in your area; I’ve never been able to make it to one myself, mainly for logistical issues, but there are other inter-pagan events in the area that I have been able to attend, and plan to do in the future. In fact, in two weeks, I’ll be presenting to a group of Wiccans, not only on my tradition, but also a ritual (as it will be in the midst of a rather important festival for us!), and it should be very interesting indeed!

    I look forward to meeting you at the Polytheist Leadership Conference, and am glad to hear you and your girlfriend will be there! It’s going to be quite an event, I think!

    • luisvaladez says:

      Oh! PSVL…so sorry! I was so intent on getting the pronouns correct that I transposed letters hahaha.

      TBI – 1
      Oracle. – 0

      I’m so glad you’re attending a Wiccan ritual. In my personal experience, I’ve experienced more welcome of diversity from Trad Wiccans as opposed to Neo-Wiccans and their offshoots. But that’s my experience, and this was before I made it to being a Wiccan myself.

      If my girlfriend can’t attend, then maybe my husband can. I registered two tickets right now under my name because I don’t yet know which one may be going. Both are awesome people, though. I really look forward to meeting you there!

  2. Kasha says:

    A last comment to clarify facts. I’ll chalk it up to misunderstanding, rather than misrepresentation of fact, although that continues to be trend in the discussion about this bloggers description of his experience with our local Pagan Pride Planning Committee.

    Luis ,you were asked to meet with me to discuss concerns, not anyone else, about what had occurred and your desire to continue working on the project. Never was meeting with other people planned, implied, or communicated. I very very confused about where you got the impression that it would be a group meeting.That’s just not nice, let alone poor conflict management.

    The temporary removal from the Facebook group was due to group members concerns about a local issue made public, quotes from the forum posted to a blog, and my inability to meet with You immediately, since I was out of state. In my communication with You the fact that it was temporary and we would need to wait a few days to resolve it was, I thought, clear.

    Regarding any communication you may have had with Ray- anyone who know Ray and I know that we are two quite different personalities and that neither would presume to speak for the other. The Don Frew discussion was linked from several places on the internet and you posted a link to your blog on social media, and so it’s not hard to figure out how he or anyone else might find and read those entries. No internet stalking needed. The discussion about ego on the FB board revolved around your comment that PPD should be an “in your face” event, and others’ thoughts on why one might want to utilize that strategy for an event that is meant to educate the public on Paganism and strengthen ties within the Pagan community. (“In your face” won’t accomplish that in this part of the state, and everyone on that list is aware that you don’t agree. That’s ok.) Whatever opinions he expressed to are about you and the situation are really between you and him, just s communication between you and me are just that.

    Finally, as I have communicated privately, but will bring public, as you have done so, at no time has anyone asked you or your group to not participate in Pagan Pride Day activities here on the treasure Coast. The planning committee met yesterday, as you know, and the unanimous consensus was that we want the event to be s inclusive s possible with representatives from as many different paths in the area. It’s my hope that we will see you there with a booth nod information, potentially a workshop, and willingness to talk to people about who you are and what your Path entails.

    What it really comes down to in this particular, very local case, is one person’s dissatisfaction with the direction a group was wanting to take in very preliminary discussions, others’ perceptions of how that was communicated to the group, and the ability of a group of people to move forward toward a common goal without involving personal agenda. It just doesn’t seem to be a well fitting puzzle in this case, which is unfortunate. However, I’ll wish you here, as I have privately, the fortune of finding a project that will benefit from your time, enthusiasm and talent.
    Regards
    Kasha

    • luisvaladez says:

      It’s interesting to me, Kasha, that you will hold my Temple members accountable for my actions and yet evade responsibility on taking responsibility for Ray’s behavior. He has not only insulted a disabled person but continues to harass me unprovoked. Any further attacks will be deleted. He has, however, proven my suspicions that rumor-mongering indeed is going on within the PPD leadership. If not now, then in the past. I give you careful warning as to what you are hearing and from whom.

      Ray, your husband/SO and a leader, has done actions for which any other leader would need to take responsibility and accountability for. To not do so, and yet to have taken upon the members of my Temple the actions which you have done, is a sign of not only hypocrisy but poor leadership.

      I am sorry for the situation in which you find yourself, Kasha. However, I am not interested in local witch wars. Therefore, my Temple will not be participating in the Treasure Coast PPD event. I find that the people involved are seeming to be a by-product of their conservative surroundings, standing inadvertently for things – by their actions and behavior – that they outwardly seemingly oppose. Hm.

      Eirene kai Hugieia!
      (Peace and Health!)
      ~Oracle~

  3. […] is trying to move past some bad experiences with his local Pagan Pride Day by looking forward to attending the Polytheist Leadership Conference […]

  4. […] show up at pagan pride day events, CUUPS meetings and pan-pagan conventions all the time; some of us have even shown up at the […]

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