Over at The Wild Hunt, they're making quite a big deal about the Parliament of the World's Religions, and how Pagans are being quite well represented at this year's proceedings. In fact, the pagan contingent has its own blog, and you can almost feel the air a-quiver with excitement. Pagans! In the same space as the Dali Lama!
However, one has but to look at those representing the Pagan community in this august body to wonder whether or not the whole Pagan community is, in fact, being represented. Let us begin with the Pagan members of the PotWR board of trustees; Angie Buchanan, Phyllis Curott, and Andras Corban Arthen.
We lead off with Angie Buchanan, contributor to Circle Magazine, a "family tradition pagan" (and unless she comes from a BTW or Appalachian tradition, that's a load of crap-- "my mother was a Wiccan" doesn't count as a "family tradition"). She is a founder of Gaia's Womb, a womyns-only group that, if you read their "about us" page, is all about a load of New Agey tripe about empowering women because "women have been shut out ... when it comes to mainstream religions." Ugh.
Next on the hit parade is Phyllis Currott, a Wiccan activist, uber-liberal lawyer, and all-around nincompoop. I actually met her at one of the Hands of Change Coven Pagan Picnics in central New Jersey a couple years ago. She was trotting out some tired conspiracy theory about how George Bush stole the 2004 election by means of rigged election poll machines, because the exit polls "proved" that Kerry should have won. At the time, I was the manager of election polling for the largest polling company in the country; I pointed out that the guy in charge of those exit polls had written a long article about how the exit polling was wrong because of the methodology they used. Oddly, I never heard back from Ms. Currott. But hey, she's been on The View *and* The O'Reilly Factor, so I guess she must be a worthy representative. Oh, and lucky for her, she is one of the presenters, along with Angie Buchanan, over at Gaia's Womb. A quick look at her bibliography at Amazon.com yields a lot of books about The Goddess and Women's spirituality. I'm sensing a trend here...
And now we come to Andras Corban Arthen (purely by coincidence, I am sure, a fellow presenter along with Angie Buchanan and Phyllis Curott at Gaia's Womb). Another eco-warrior in the service of The Goddess, this guy actually seems to have put some money where his mouth is. He has a 100+ acre place in western Massachusetts that serves as pagan sanctuary and wildlife refuge. Good for him on that, but otherwise he seems to be much in the New Age vein of Carlos Castaneda.
So the Pagan delegation to the World Congress of Religions seems, in actuality, to represent only the Circle Sanctuary / Gaia's Womb version of Paganism; we're all wiccans, or shamans, or feminists, or whatever.
Nonsense. Why are all Pagans represented by this tiny coterie of folks all with the same backgrounds, the same affiliations, and the same outlooks? Paganism today is an incredibly diverse lot; there are reconstructionists, Wiccans, Traditional Witches, eclectics, conservatives, liberals, hunters, vegans, feminists, rednecks, and so on and so forth. Why are our three self-proclaimed representatives all cut from the same cloth?
Not all pagans are feminist eco-warrior Goddess worshipers. Perhaps in five years, we can put THAT message out to the world. But today, these people don't represent me or the Pagans I know.