Friday, January 13, 2006

They will know we are pagans by... what?

I mentioned in my last entry that I've embarked on a dedication to Manannán mac Lir. One of the conditions of the dedication is my wearing a symbol of it on a daily basis. After due meditation, I chose a mermaid as the symbol. Other events confirmed that I chose properly. So far, there's been no reaction to my wearing one around my neck. I recently added what I will charitably call a fan art cloisonne pin of Jessica Rabbit as a mermaid to my purse to make sure I have a mermaid no matter what (I sometimes forget to wear the necklace). But should someone ask why, I am duty-bound to answer.

This leads me to contemplate what it means to have a closer walk with my god and being more open about it than I used to be. It's sensitizing me to how others approach it in their lives. I'm one of the last people to think we need to evangelize the unfaithful. One of the aspects of my tradition that I appreciate is how we don't think we have all the answers. And I know there are people in situations where being out isn't a wise idea. But I think some of us, myself included, can be too cautious about this.

I live in one of the most liberal areas of the United States. I am also primarily surrounded by free-thinkers in my social circles, whether they're pagan, atheist, Christian or Jewish. I still get touchy about revealing some bits of my beliefs. That's common in pagan circles. I see people online who claim to be pagan but never discuss their faith, even in their own blogs. There's a wide difference between admitting what some of your beliefs are and sharing oathbound material, but some pagans don't seem to want to do even that much

I do know there are places where it isn't safe to admit much. But as with the gay rights movement, which I've had contact with longer than I've been a pagan, the question comes down to this: how long does keeping silent act as a safeguard, and how long does it act like a means of maintaining the status quo? Does our refusal to admit what we are perpetuate the reasons to keep it to ourselves? And when does the burden of speaking the truth outweigh other considerations?

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