I’m not a fan of describing things in terms of black and white to begin with. I can’t say there’s a single example outside of a crayon box—and, well, even their wrappers are gray. Yin and yang is a pervasive symbol for a reason. I understand the use of black and white, though. By being able to describe the extreme ends of a spectrum, it’s easier to understand the elements that compromise the gray area and how they interact.
Lately one of my coveners has been running into a lot of…judgement, I guess. There has been a lot of conversation in our Facebook group (woo, witchcraft in the 21st century!) about Wicca being transphobic because our deities are heterosexual cisgendered beings. In addition, she has been reading posts giving people a lot of flak for being concerned about the historical witch hunts (does anyone else remember how en vogue it was to call them The Burning Times? Do we still try to make that the cultural normative term for the mass witch hysteria that gripped Europe and colonial America?). Those demonstrating such concern were called “fluffy.”
While I appreciate a balanced outlook and can be personally annoyed by the terminal sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn farts types, I find that the term “fluffy” is used as a term of intellectual abuse. Just because a person tends toward said unicorn farts doesn’t mean their thoughts are born of ignorance or revisionist history—or even if they are, sometimes these points are brought up in an effort to garner better information, or at least more information. But, annoyed with the fact that poor sources of information are usually the easiest and most commonly frequented by neophytes, and that it feels like we are constantly fighting the battle against misinformation, we tend to roll our eyes and slap a “fluffy” label on them and keep on rolling. Knowing the negative connotations and dismissive attitude of the term, it can shut down the curious mind and then growth all around is stunted. I get it—I know how difficult it is to constantly be patient and answer the same questions and unravel the same misinformation. But it’s important, and it’s part of teaching.
I really don’t want to get into the inanity of the argument of an entire religion being transphobic because its primary deities are hetero and cisgendered. That’s not why I brought this up.
What I’m interested in is what these two scenarios got me thinking about, which is this assumption that everything seems to exist on a set of scales. People seem to treat these issues as a matter of a closed system wherein if you are going to put apples in one scale, you must be taking them from the other. Clearly, being concerned about The Burning Times must only put one squarely in the fluffy category because obvs we must think every witch burned in Europe was a Wiccan priestess, it has nothing to do with the horror of the real men and women who are still punished for practicing witchcraft in certain parts of the world, or the McCarthyism of the 1950’s (there’s a whole play about it), or the fact that the label “witch” still isn’t safe no matter how hard we romanticize it. Or, you know, because our deities are cis heteros, we can only worship cis hetero deities and only revere cis hetero culture. The fact that my deities are God and Goddess and She gets pregnant every Beltane has nothing to do with what my religion feels about those who are queer or trans (or anything else). To have cisgendered deities DOES NOT detract from transgendered deities and in fact part of what we teach is to see the Goddess in the God and vice versa. This is not merely a scale with black and white and grayscale in between—it’s the whole electromagnetic spectrum, and taking from one end does not detract from the other.
This kind of reminds me a little, too, of a rally where Michelle Obama was chanting the phrase “Black Girls Rock.” The author of the article stated that because the FLOTUS was emphasizing black girls she was excluding, disempowering, and otherwise detracting the experience of white girls. I’m sorry, but no—just because the FLOTUS was emphasizing black girls, this is no way detracts from my value as a white woman. Again, you do not have to take apples out of my basket to put it into theirs, we can both have baskets filled with apples. We don’t exist in a vacuum. And for the record, black girls DO rock, and I’m proud to work with a group of some of the most rockin’ women I’ve ever known.
My difficulty in getting pregnant right now has NOTHING TO DO with the fertility of the women who I see for abortion services. They ask me if it’s hard to work where I do—and the answer is a vehement NO. I am there to serve their experiences, to keep them safe, see to their needs, and it has nothing to do with what my body is up to. They didn’t take apples out of my fertility basket for their own. That’s not how that works.
So when I say I worship a Mother Goddess and virile Horned God, or when I say I’m concerned about the historical impact of the Burning Times, or black girls rock, stop robbing my apples. I’m not taking them out of the transgendered deities/no actual witches were burned/white girls rock too baskets. There are apples for ALL of the baskets.
Plus, if you take them all, I can’t make pie, and we all know how good my apple pie is. (For the record, it’s really, REALLY good).