Some realities about the pagan community and its lack of friendlyness to the people with disabilities

I’m hoping this is my last post on this because some people missed the point and maybe I wasn’t clear enough because even some friends didn’t get what I was trying to say so I will say it plainly because there is a lot of blindness due to uncomfortableness to the subject. We are a not a friendly community to the disabled. Very few people born with a serious disability would ever even think that their body was a temple. That is a statement from people that have always been whole and maybe age is starting to slow them down in some fashion but they don’t get it.

I’m also talking to the people who organize events. Some of whom just patted themselves on the back and said to themselves, “We’re very friendly to the disabled we even have an accessible building.” Hate to break it to you but you probably aren’t terribly disabled friendly. You able bodied people just think you are.

We are living in a peculiar time of being in between ages of the disabled. When I was kid there were a lot more people around who had had polio and were in wheelchairs or had big braces. There were a lot more blind and deaf people around that whose mothers had had rubella. There were more kids born with CP (Cerebral Palsy). So a lot of younger folk don’t see as much of what reality used to be.

And that is about to change in a big way because baby boomers are about to hit their older ages and there will be more people in wheelchairs and with walkers of canes, or with hearing aids or losing their sight that will want to continue to come to pagan events just like they always have and the pagan community is in for a reality check and the rude truth that they aren’t terribly friendly to the disabled with one exception, the Dianic community usually does think about it more than the rest of Clan Oblivious.

So I will share some things I’ve seen. When you plan a spiral dance, where is the place for your elders and the disabled? The outside of the Dance? Or did you put them in the center and let them be part of the energy if they so chose? Because “letting” us be on the outside is condescending not enabling.

Did you have a sign language interpreter? Or did you say we don’t have any hearing impaired people. Maybe they don’t come because you don’t have one?

Do you print your programs and flyers in small type with no large type available?

So you make it easy to find the way to workshops for the people who aren’t sighted or do you just hand out a map and hope everyone gets there? Or point out the room names are in Braille on the doors. Really you expect people to feel their way around the floors and hope they get where they want to go?

Do you space things far apart all over your event site on uneven ground because it looks prettier? Or do you make it easy for someone with a cane or a walker to get from place to place.

If you are having camping, do you have an area for people with disabilities to camp? With volunteer helpers? Because some of us old Girl Scouts still like to camp but don’t if the bathroom is ½ mile from the camping area. This is something the West Coast Women’s Music Festival was excellent at but few pagan camps are.

Do you announce events like fire drills with a bell or bullhorn but not a light?

Do you actually do something to help or do you hinder?

Most people with long term disabilities have learned to cope and they won’t say things and they won’t come out to your events and you will never know they were there and you temporarily able bodied people will go around thinking the people with disabilities don’t exist until one of you aren’t able bodied anymore. And you start asking, “Where is ___? I miss them.”

My body is not a temple. It is a vessel for my spirit and mind. I give thanks for the body and its functions. That at the moment I can see and hear. That I have my cane to use when I need it. I will take care of it because I like being around on the physical plane. I give thanks for what I can do and let things go like the love of dancing. I used to teach dance and love to dance and I will never really dance again. I let that go. I used to be a runner. I will never run again. I used to be a gymnast. I will never do intentional gymnastics ever again, I’m not ruling out any spectacular falls. I’m good at those. But don’t ever tell me my body is a temple.

2 thoughts on “Some realities about the pagan community and its lack of friendlyness to the people with disabilities

  1. So the body is a temple thing has always meant something much different to me. I always thought of it as you body is scared so pay attention to what you do to it. Now I personally don’t think a temple shinning on a hill is any more scared then a half tumbled down circle of stones, but I wouldn’t want to put trash in either one. As you know about me i’m obsessed with food and so I have always thought of it more of how I treat my body and what kinds of things I say about my body. Weather I feed myself healthy food or food at all? Do I think I need to look like some one else? say a skinny famous someone else? nope that is not my scared space that’s theirs to worry about. I just get to think about how I treat me. anyway that is just my two cents but to be fair I am on the young side, I am a T.A.B and I don’t really like hanging out in “the community” anyway. Oh and I certainly have some strong opinions on weight but I think maybe I will rant about that later. I don’t know if my body is a temple or not but it is I think sacred and it is mine.

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  2. My trad has a lot of elders in it and several people with canes and standing issues. So from early on I’ve always learned to make sure we have something that is easy for everyone to get to. We make sure we have chairs all over, we make sure we have a good amount of light, we rarely do dancing and when we do people go in the middle if they want. I have found there are some elders that would rather sit on the outside and so we let them do whichever makes them more comfy.

    We don’t print programs so I have never had to think about the big print thing. One pagan concert I was at did have an interpreter for the hearing impared. It was probably my most fave part of that concert,watching her sign to the music. It was its own dance. Totally beautiful.

    We only use one camp site for our outdoor events and it is small and all flat land. The outhouses are big enough for wheel chairs to easily get into and the path is flat, short and straight. We find we do get a lot of other elders and those with disabilities at our events so I have to assume we’re doing something right.

    I just hope that as I rebuild the trad in a new place I am able to remember these lessons. I do want everyone to feel welcome. So thank you for the reminder post!

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