About a year ago, Anne Niven, the publisher and editor of Witches & Pagans magazine, invited me to start blogging at the magazine's website. She was interested in me specifically because she had seen some of my comments over at The Wild Hunt, and wanted to provide a different perspective on things Pagan and Heathen, since I was a conservative/libertarian and Republican. (I've since left my Republican party registration and become a registered Libertarian, but that's largely incidental.)
Over the course of the last year or so, I blogged about a number of things, some involving politics, some purely speaking to the religious side of Heathenry, sometimes exploring questions of Pagan identity in the broad sense. Always, I tried to do so with an eye not towards trying to convert anyone else to my political or religious views, but merely to try to show that the Pagan and Heathen tents are, or should be, large enough to accommodate people of all ends of the spectrum; liberal, conservative, libertarian, and more. Anne fully backed my broader message of inclusion, even if she didn't particularly agree with my specific stances on issues. Which is fine.
The tent is big enough for Heathens, but only Heathens that are sufficiently like their Wiccan and Pagan friends as to not seem too "different". Superficial differences that they can point to and say "we're diverse!" are good, but actual, substantive, core differences are just too... different:
"You call the quarters using a hammer instead of an athame? And you call it a "hammer hallowing"? That's so cool!"
"You actually treat the other members of your tribe like family? Literally, you put your tribe before other people? That's weird and cultish."
Now, I've gotten a lot of heat over the year for some of the things I've posted, but I expected that, and what people like Gus DiZerga and his odious ilk think couldn't matter less to me. I gather that having a conservative blogger didn't in and of itself cause major problems in terms of boycotts and the like. But several things have happened recently that led me to my decision to leave.
First was the reaction when my friend and Lord, Dan Halloran, a prominent Republican and Theodish Lord currently under the cloud of political scandal, dared to post one or two things about the God Tyr. Not politics. Just an academic treatment of the lore. The reaction was enormous and negative. Not completely unexpected, of course, but very negative in the extreme. To the point where members of the Troth and other Asatru groups were threatening to boycott the magazine (not that they have had a particularly strong presence as advertisers, as far as I can tell, but still...).
Next, my friend Piperskegg, who is well known as a builder of bridges within the Heathen community, dared to post something that was in favor of the Folkish end of the Heathen spectrum. Since the Pagan (and parts of the Heathen) community has decided that any trace of ethnic pride is by definition racism, as long as it's coming from a European, the firestorm was instant and dwarfed anything that Dan Halloran's posts might have done. This time the calls for boycott came from the Pagans, who refused to be associated with such a person, and Anne was compelled to issue a warning to him.
Finally, today a post went up by someone who is not Germanic Heathen, but a Celtic Neopagan, making the blanket claim that the Asatru Folk Assembly, of which I am a proud and happy member, is an "unabashedly racist Heathen organization." Aside from the fact that that is not true, it is also libelous in a legal sense, and I made an official complaint to Anne as the editor of the site. The blogger refused to change the wording, and Anne decided not to press the issue, for fear that it would cost her the support of most of her core subscribers and advertisers.
That was the final straw.
I cannot in good conscience support, through my own writing efforts, a publication that allows such vile and scurrilous defamation to remain on its site, of an organization to which I belong and which I support. The environment was already hostile enough for someone who dared to buck the trend politically and spiritually.
Being called a member of an "unabashedly racist" organization, and having that let stand by the publisher of the site, was simply too much.
Alas, the experiment was a worthy one, and illustrative by its failure. The "Pagan community" trumpets how they're all about respecting differences and showing tolerance, but will only tolerate their kind of difference. Diversity, apparently, only goes so far.
UPDATE: The offending post has been removed, and it seems that the poster has left the site entirely. While I applaud that move of course, the larger point remains, that Pagans in general are not open to political, religious, or social ideas too far removed from what they're accustomed to, and thus the effort is wasted.