Pagans In Ann Arbor

So, today instead of the regular TS/TG group, I decided that I need to meet other people, see other faces, and do something to stave off the already-tiring nature of the trans group. Yeah, a lot of the people in that group are decent-enough on an individual basis, especially in small doses, but for fuck’s sake, for every person I meet there that I might actually get along and become friends with outside of that group, I have to wade through about 15 people I really share nothing in common with, other than being trans. So on the fourth Monday of the month, there was a new pagan group starting up with meets at Crazy Wisdom, in the upstairs community room.

First the good from the first meet-up:
1) even though it was a small group for the first meet, this is seriously the most ethnically diverse pagan meet-up I’ve literally *ever* been to, and *especially* for a small group. Yeah, out of the eight people max who showed up, five of us were clearly white, then there was Nature Worshipper Guy, and I dunno, he could be Eastern European, or Sami, or part Native, or maybe mixed Hispanic or mixed Appalacian, maybe mixed Romani –or he could just be a white guy who spends too much time outside resulting an a mildly swarthy complexion? There was also a woman who is First Nations Yukon (I don’t recall her mentioning what tribe, but she did mention being the granddaughter of a tribal medicine man who practiced his Work in an underground fashion, at risk of imprisonment or worse, for five Yukon tribes), and there was also a young woman who showed up a tad on the late side who was African American. Even if we assume Nature Worshipper Guy is just a white guy, that still makes 2/8 or 25% of the first meet to be something other than white, which is a higher percentage than the bloggers at Patheos or the columnists at The Wild Hunt who are Of Colour *combined*.
2) there are a lot of smart people here (especially the aforementioned AA girl –she’s only 19 and already a Junior at U of Michigan working on her anthropology major); in fact, the only person I see myself potentially butting heads with in the long-term over little more than my own impatience with them is Nature Worshipper Guy, who also clearly seems a bit on the “straight edge” side (even if not using those words).
3) so far, I genuinely like most of the people I met at this meet-up

Now the not-so-good:
1) I seem to seriously be the only person at this group who identifies as a polytheist, first, and pagan second or further down the list. I was expecting this, but it’s one of those things to be kinda disappointed to be right about.
2) on one hand, I’m not the only one worshipping Hellenic gods, but on the other, I am the only one doing so from a recon or even non-Wiccanate methodology. This certainly makes the potential for co-religionists to be no better than they were prior, but at the same time, it’s no worse?
3) while the young woman who has taken a leadership position in the group (well, de facto leadership, by the fact that she’s organised the meet-up) certainly takes pride in forming a diverse group with focus on discussion, which I can appreciate, I think perhaps proceeding with a more cautious outlook is better than getting too optimistic too soon –if only cos I’ve observed groups dissolve by attempting to be everything for everyone. It’s nice that the focus is on discussion rather than ritual, which may be its saving grace, but as I said, I’m going to focus on taking each month at a time.

And seriously, man, the “big name” pagan blogosphere sure is white.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.