Today in River Devora’s Polytheism class we were discussing communities: what types of spiritual or religious based groups there are; how they are structured; problems we’ve seen in our various polytheist communities; and groups and practices that worked really well. In the process, we discussed how hard it is for many pagan groups to practice defending boundaries: deciding who should be in a group, and when/how to kick somebody out of the group/community if that person was destroying the community. And it brought to mind the incident I had at the Facets of Freya ritual at PCon this year.
The Facets ritual was a communal project by Freyja’s Aett, a group I formed for this purpose. It an intense, high-energy, high-woo ritual that had five of us Freyaswomen trancing Her various facets simultaneously and doing a version of seidh for all of the participants. We had all worked on it for months, and I was very proud to be able to give this offering of love to and on behalf of my goddess.
And so it happened that on the night of the ritual, 11pm Sunday evening, near the end of the line for our ritual was Bathrobe Man. (If you’ve been to PCON, you may have seen him–he wears a short bathrobe–purple satin, iirc–with nothing under it, and wears it around Con all weekend. Every year.) I had remembered seeing him at the Dionysus ritual earlier that evening, which was designed to be a party as well as a devotional. And while our ritual was also designed to be powerful and ecstatic, it was not a free-flowing kind of party type of ritual where an enterprising guy might be able to “accidentally” loose his bathrobe belt and go leer at younger women. (Yeah. He had that energy.)
In any event, one of the Con staff assigned to our ritual went in an grabbed me when she saw him in line and asked me what I wanted to do. Technically, he shouldn’t have been allowed into any Con events as he wasn’t really dressed–but this is a large Pagan convention and, as we discussed in class, Pagans (many of whom have ourselves been the victims of discrimination and hated) generally have a hard time themselves excluding others from their events. The staff member was trying to help me avoid having to lay down a boundary and deal with the resultant confrontation right before my ritual, but Freya is nothing if not the Goddess of boundaries, so that was not going to happen. So I went over to him myself, pulled him out of the line, and told him that he wasn’t properly dressed for this ritual. His response?
“I can’t wear this, even this late at night? Really?”
And that pretty much did it. Some creepy dude with bad boundaries is not going to come into my ritual and disrespect my goddess and Her priestesses and the people who were there to seek some healing and a connection with Her. NOT ON MY WATCH.
So, despite the fact that I was set to channel Freya’s “Generous Giver/Self-Love” facet five minutes later, I gently but firmly kicked a guy out of our ritual.
And I felt bad about it for about five minutes. But then I let it go.