“I’m speaking up for those who feel lost and alone, and who’ve been rejected by others for core pieces of their being, whether that’s paganism, poly, their bodies, kink, or whatever. I’m here to say “you are not alone,” and “you are fine, just the way you are,” and hand them some tools and roadmaps.”
— Dawn Davidson, Nov. 30, 2012
Over the past week and some I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of Identity. Some of this thinking was, of course, spurred by Dan Savage and his post about how he doesn’t think that polyamory can be an identity. In his world, it’s just something you do, not something you are. As discussed elsewhere, I disagree with him (though of course Your Mileage May Vary.)
But that’s not the only thing that has me thinking about Identity. See, there’s been a kerfluffle in my world that affects my recent ordination. It’s mostly not even about me, but instead, about my sponsoring priestess. Apparently, They (the powers that be in the organization through which we were both ordained) became quite concerned with the fact that my sponsoring priestess both practices and teaches Sacred BDSM (aka Sacred Kink — see here for the excellent book on the topic, Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths Of BDSM And Beyond, by Lee Harrington.) The reasons for this are several, but the biggest reason appears to be that They have conflated what my sponsoring priestess does, with what happened at the Sedona Temple earlier this year. Please understand that I have nothing against Tantra either (I practice Western Tantra myself and recommend it as a path of connection for individuals, couples and even groups in some situations). What my sponsoring priestess does is a) legal, b) ethical, and c) not what brought the Sedona Temple down (which was accusations of prostitution.) Ultimately, the point of the whole thing isn’t the details of what she’s practicing or teaching, but the fact that They took action based on misinformation, incomplete information, and fear. They feared being “tarred with the same brush,” and chose to denounce the whole of BDSM as a whole, rather than having detailed conversations first and taking actions later.
Now, to be fair, some of the situation was exacerbated by a lack of communication and missed communications between the org and my sponsoring priestess. However, I feel that greater efforts at understanding could have been taken before they chose to denounce several personal sexual practices and choices, revoke the ordination of my sponsoring priestess, and invalidate the ordinations of all of her sponsorees (myself included.)
(By the way, I’m continuing at this time to not speak directly about this organization in this public blog, because I’m still hopeful that some sort of rapprochement might be possible. I do not wish to make the situation worse. Additionally, one of Their issues with me in particular was that I had linked to their site using their logo on my own webpage about my ministerial services without first asking permission. Oops, my bad. For now, I’ve removed the offending references pending resolution. However, none of this changes my basic feelings about the situation, and I’m certainly not against anyone with a stake in the matter speaking out about their own experiences and feelings, or writing on behalf of my sponsoring priestess. I’m just trying to not make things unnecessarily worse for myself, or for her. Write me privately if you would like further information, including templates for a letter writing campaign to educate this organization about sacred kink, or to speak out on behalf of my sponsoring priestess in particular.)
It’s also important (in my view anyway) to note that their action (in revoking my ordination and that of all of the sponsorees) does not actually affect either my mission as a counselor, as a priestess/minister, nor does it affect my ability to perform weddings (and other such ceremonies) here in California (and in some other states.) I was ordained on October 10th, 1989, through the Universal Life Church, and I have confirmed with the ULC that they still have a record of that ordination. My ordination through this other organization was intended mostly to create community ties, and a mutual network of support (hence my cross-linking). I’m sad to lose that, of course, but it has no bearing on my legal ability to serve as a priestess/minister.
Even more to the point, as I told them in my response:
I was also VERY clear during the ordination on Oct 7th that I received that transmission from the Goddess herself, and whatever choices are made here on the physical plane in the [national and international organizations], you (collectively) cannot remove from me that Divine blessing and calling to service. I was called into Her service, and in her service I remain, with or without your blessing, acknowledgment, or papers.
Of course, all of this recalls for me my experiences earlier this summer, in which I was asked to hide who I was in order to stay in a particular online course. As I wrote in another letter to the organization:
Honestly, when I wrote my piece “Coming Out About Love,” which described some of my soul searching while preparing for the ordination, I was afraid to post it publicly on my website… but what I feared at the time was getting pushback from the *poly* community about my *spirituality*. It never in my wildest dreams occurred to me that the trouble might be the other way around! And yet, here we are.
… Imagine my dismay to find myself facing what appears to me to be the same core issue in the very pagan organization with which I thought to align myself: prejudice and blatant lack of understanding and compassion regarding personal choice, and the teaching of these personal choices as loving, valid forms of relating.
Here I sit, my friends, with egg on my face about my (mostly private) judgments earlier. I am reminded, forcefully, of the bumper sticker one of my partners used to have on his car, that read:
Fundies are fundies, whether they pray to the Lord or the Goddess.
So I offer my apologies to my Christian — and pagan, atheist, agnostic, etc — friends who are NOT judgmental and/or fearful of things they don’t understand. Thank you to all of you good-hearted folks out there striving to understand and accept things outside of your experience. I appreciate you so much! Thank you for being yourselves, and allowing the space for others to be themselves as well, even when you don’t fully understand the whys and wherefores.
And to all of you — whatever sort of experiences you may have, and whatever ways you might identify, let me reiterate that you are not alone, and you are OK, just the way you are. Whoever you are and whatever choices you make — so long as those are done in Love and respect, and between consenting adults — that’s totally ok! We don’t all have to like the same things, do the same things, or go the same places. If we did, the world would be boring, and we’d all be trying to squeeze into the same restaurant. Ugh!
So in that spirit, let me offer you something I started brainstorming the other night (inspired by the awesome Samantha Bennett again). At the bottom of this post I’ve added 21 Reasons To Be Yourself. I think I’m just getting started on this list, so if you have other reasons to offer, please let me know! Feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’d be happy to add your reasons, too.
Always remember how awesome you are!
PS: If you’re interested in discussing issues around identity (or any other related topic, such as polyamory, kink, jealousy, Agreements, managing new relationship energy, etc), feel free to schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me. BONUS: For a limited time, each FREE consultation comes with a Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself. Let me know how I can support YOU in being yourself, and speaking your own truth!
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A 21 self-salute:
21 Reasons to be yourself
1) because no one else can do it — you are the only you there is
2) because you have something to say to the world
3) because your children (or your nieces, nephews, little siblings, etc) need you to — how else could you make it safe for them to be *themselves*?
4) because the world needs you to — it’s time for all of us to stop trying to be someone else, and to give up ransacking the world to “keep up with the Joneses”
5) because Deity (God, Goddess, the Universe, your higher self, the FSM…) put you here to do something. You wouldn’t want to let God — or yourself — down, would you?
6) so all the other people like you don’t feel so much alone
7) because it isn’t anyone else’s business WHO you are, anyway
8) because otherwise, you’ll go to your grave thinking “what if?”
9) because THEY said you can’t do/be/say that
10) because it feeds your soul
11) because it makes you happy. And that’s enough, all by itself. Really.
12) because what if reincarnation is true, and you aren’t yourself this time, and have to come back and do it all over again?
13) because you’re ok — great, even — just the way you are
14) because you look silly in Julia Roberts’ clothes (I mean, unless you’re Julia Roberts, in which case, you look just fine!) Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
15) because otherwise, who’s going to [bake the cookies/fix the car/type the memo] if you’re off wasting energy elsewhere?
16) because somewhere, sometime, someone will be inspired by you
17) because otherwise, the terrorists (internal or external) will have won
18) because it’s a great way to silence that nasty voice in your head that says you’re “less than.” By definition, nobody can be a better you than you!
19) because otherwise, how will the postal carrier know whom to deliver your mail to?
20) because *you matter*. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions in this world leave a mark in this world. The lack of them would, too. Choose to make your mark.
21) otherwise, how could your college buddies find you on Facebook?
(Got more reasons to be yourself? Share them with me!)
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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]