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The “Burning” Card – Response

So I got a response to my response about the response! Got that? Here’s brief recap of the timeline: 1) the original post on Deaf Pagan Crossroads, 2) the follow-up post on Deaf Pagan Crossroads, 3) my response to the follow-up post, and 4) a fellow commentator’s response to my response on Deaf Pagan Crossroads. Here are some excerpts (truncated but unedited) from my challenger’s rebuttal:

It makes sense to me that pagan communities would be upset about this beer label, not because of any kind of “ownership” of their history, but more so because it is of the pagan spirit to REMEMBER, regardless of your ancestry/personal, spiritual/sensual practice today. Just because someone may practice a very different paganism than their foremothers doesn’t mean that they aren’t or shouldn’t FEEL upset about a horrifying image on a beer bottle that reminds them of the hatred of women past and present . . . Systemizing a type of hierarchy into categories of recent past, past, pre-history, etc. and implying that one event that occured more recent deserves more attention, seems to me to be an overly simplistic viewpoint and perhaps the very reason that slavery, genocide, patriarchal control are not coming to an end sooner . . . The collective consciousness of humans is too profound to “propose” to choose only the most recent atrocities to deal with . . . The clear knowledge that people lived in relative peace during more egalitarian, matrifocal times seems to be an inspiration and a powerful impetus for many people practicing their own version of paganism today . . . To assume that people who are upset about this beer label are not also angry about other ways media systemizes oppression or other atrocities of our time seems to be black and white thinking . . . It is up to the activist to choose her battles . . . I think many women and men today are healing from atrocities of TODAY, and these atrocities are the same animal of our past, just a different form. The witch hunts are one extreme of the patriarchal religious oppression that still exists today. People will heal from modern day witch hunts and begin to feel unpersecuted on their own terms. And if you’ve done all your healing, then that is wonderful. [read full comment]

It was very well written, thoughtful, opinionated response. However, it always throws me when people assume that because I don’t write an veritable essay complete with cited footnotes and million dollar words, I must be ignorant of my subject. The responder wrote a lot of content with historical context points for, what I initially felt, was an attempt to show me up by “proving” her “superior” educational knowledge. Now, I realize that I have a tendency to get overly sensitive to challenges of this type. (Most of this is due to my recent experiences in this past year with diligent trolls and abusive online relationships. The rest of it is due to hyper-sensitivity which I fully own and try to factor in to my responses.) The internet can be a sucky place to debate sometimes, because no matter how much information you include in your argument, it is never enough for some people. I guess it’s a good thing that people challenge others to support their facts and defend their stance, but it can really discouraging for those who are trying to make a clear point.

It is not wrong to begin a debate on the platform of certain common knowledge within a certain group or arena. I was speaking to the pagan community about a pagan specific issue. Certain base facts went unsaid and unexplored because they would have bogged down my point. I think that’s okay. To have to begin at the beginning every single time you want to state an opinion or observation would essentially stop all lines of communication (which is what trolls do so well). However, I do not believe this was the goal of my challenger. And she came up with some really interesting points worth discussing. So without further ado, here is my response (5) to the response (4) to my response (3) to the response (2)!

Your argument has a sound counterpoint, insofar as your response to the simple timeline issue. However, I do disagree that time does not define a period of importance. In the grand scheme of the universe, yes, all of human history is a valid prism through which the facets of the human condition and behavior can be viewed as equal. But in our personal experience as finite creatures, time plays an important role.

Time does “heal” as you say. That is the nature of our very being and our brain functioning. Eventually, all sensory and intellectual input are accepted. Healthy creatures eventually become acclimatized to knowledge and experience and let it go…the alternative is severe psychological damage (PTSD for example). To hold on to such things would be chaos and unproductive.

There is an intuitive “statute of limitations” on past wrongs, it is built into our brain functions. Holding onto age old hatreds and events that can never be solved is one of humanities greatest follies. History can, in this way, be one of the great producers of hatred and war…the grudge. The time to solve certain events is past. We can only learn from the mistakes.

You are right. If everything is important regardless of the timeline, then EVERYTHING is equally important. This is true. So, to focus on a single, past event of injustice – based on your own sense of personal injury – is both dangerous and narrow minded. My simplest argument to counter your timeline theory is this: in holding onto historical wrongs, one actually looses the big picture, and more dangerously, it fosters resentment and engenders a sense of entitlement and martyrdom. Your pain, my pain, their pain, past pain, is all equal. You cannot measure suffering. My argument was to focus on the issues that can be changed, as opposed to events that cannot.

This does not mean that we should not look to the past. History has an important job to perform: help guide us in our current lives through knowledge and the examination of our past (our mistakes and our successes). This leads to me second point, as history can only do that when it is accurate and unbiased. This is, of course, the main problem with all historical knowledge. It is difficult almost to the point of impossible to view and record history in an unbiased manner. This is where my problem lay in regards to the prominent reaction to this label. Many were basing there sense of outrage on false controversy.

You may or may not be aware of the profound controversy in the pagan community in regards to the so-called Burning Times. Pagans have established a unique connection to this part of history for an unfortunate reason. Misinformation and non-historical content has been so ubiquitous in our pagan teachings and culture that many (if not most) pagans today still believe, at least, a version of the original “historical” findings of Margaret Murray, and perpetuated by Gerald Gardner. My critique of this label, and the reactions to it, were targeted towards this specific audience.

My statements were both pagan- and case-specific. This is why I did not feel the need to go into lengthy descriptions of the matter, nor compose an academic-style mini-essay as you did on the particular historical data I was referring to (both accurate and inaccurate). Most pagans are well aware of the controversy. My dismay at the reactions were based on this inside knowledge of this particular community.

I was not making assumptions, I merely observed, not for the first time, the particular quality of offense taken by the majority of pagans who commented. It went deeper than you espoused in your argument. In the original post, and many subsequent responses, there is a sense of personal ownership of this historical event. It permeates the whole subject. Many pagans still feel affronted by what they have been taught are conspiratorial misconceptions about The Burning Times by those who wrote the false history. It is still a major point of contention amongst the community today.

As for your reference to my particular healing, clearly I have more to do. Because this issue of false martyrdom and ignorance still pains me greatly. It greatly affected me as beginner to this path, and it continues to negatively affect others. I do not wish to be a victim of this event in history (even if it were not based on falsified data), anymore than I want to live my life in fear of male assault because I am a woman. To take rape as an example, it is reality that transcends time. It is both a current and past problem, and it effects both genders and all age groups. But living in fear and anger only leads inaction, un-empowerment, and even ignorance. None of those reactions will help us Take Back The Night. My wish is for all pagans to Take Back The History Books on this particular matter and acknowledge all human suffering as keypoint to the importance of living in tolerance and enlightenment.

That’s it for now.

I’m a pan(en)theistic Pagan with a quick tongue, black thumb, and no sense of elemental direction. Otherwise, I’m awesome.
Posted By Mnemosyne Mars

I'm a pan(en)theistic Pagan with a quick tongue, black thumb, and no sense of elemental direction. Otherwise, I'm awesome.

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