Yesterday was Iconoclasm Day at the Pagan Conference. Joseph Futerman gave us some True Facts about the Burning Times, and argued that although the mythology (he would like me to specify that he’s using the term in a Jungian sense) of persecution is effective for creating group solidarity, it creates an “us vs. them” ideology that won’t help sustain our community in the long term. Sam Webster expressed his opinion (and some of the support and backlash he’s gotten for it) that Christianity is an unethical religion and that Christo-Pagans aren’t really Pagans (more on that later). Margaret Froelich critiqued the Triple Goddess as gender-essentialist and potentially limiting for women. Lon Milo DuQuette debunked the language of “high” and “low” magick, and of good and evil. Toni Mierzwicki showed us egregious examples of discrimination in online Hellenic Recon communities. Joan DeArtemis asked some deep questions about Pagan sexual ideals and stereotypes. Kat Robb told us how many lesbians feel unwelcome in some Pagan spaces, due to direct discrimination or systemic exclusion. Amy Hale challenged the language of “nature religion” as the defining feature of Paganism in definitions directed to outsiders.
Less challenging but equally fascinating papers were also a part of the day. Joseph Nichter gave us a glimpse of how Iraq vets experience PTSD. This year he didn’t offer any specifically Pagan perspectives or therapies, though he did mention his Tarot practice. Garrett Sadler discussed the interplay between scientific theory and metaphysical belief in New Age communities. Scott Gilliam gave us insights into some reasons why people (specifically former Christians in his talk) come to Paganism. Jacqueline Rochelle showed us a timeline of NeoPagan development alongside timelines of scientific discovery, political and social occurrences, and astrological/astronomical events over the same period. Murtaugh anDoile gave us a brief history of NeoPagan development in the United States on the East Coast, and Elizabeth Rose-Marini gave us a similar history, focusing on utopian communities in California in the 19th century.
Today is looking to be just as good, but the papers have started and I need to stop typing.