Before I start, let me put a disclaimer on this post. Although Zsuzsana Budapest offers a segue into the topic, I have no ill feelings towards her. I think the work she has done has helped bring Paganism into the realm of accepted spiritual practices. I’ve read a lot of her books and love the videos she has posted online. With that being said…
On April 17, 2012 Dianic Priestess Z. Budapest posted the below message on her Facebook page.
If the picture is difficult to see, the message reads:
I would like you to help me spread the words that Singing "We all come from the Goddess" should NOT BE rewritten. It is my intellectual property. it is NOt a folk song, which by the way is the fate of many composers whose songs are stolen. You steal my song from now will have consequences. You put men into the song, like God,a hex will be activated. I have found that people actually sell their wares with my song in the Title,like Serpentine for example. These people are NOT having my permission, especially when they don’t even credit my name. Women are fooled that its from me, or fooled that its Serpentine. .Theft is theft. I cannot be everywhere, but i have experienced women making up new words,attaching it to my song that NEEDS NO attachments. Have you ever heard a man writing a song about the gods, and then put females in it?? Never. So stop you generosity attacks with my songs, write an original .Men who had Mozart and Schubert amongst them,surely will come up with their own songs .
Women like to give away and include but please do it with your own intellectual property.
I wrote that song for the Goddess worshipping women. Its gone around the globe. I don’t mind you singing it, only selling it and not giving me credit.
Its a sacred song, and i will protect it! Speak up when you hear this song abused, and write to me. Blesssed be!”
The commenters were pretty evenly split between support and opposition. Eventually, Z. stated that she was joking about the hex mentioned in the original post, but again urged that people not violate the copyright by editing her original work. While, I agree that artists should have their work protected , I was a little shocked to see how many people were against including lines referencing the God in Z.’s original chant. Again, I agree that her work should be respected and honored for what it is. However, this the first time I have ever doubted my role in the Wiccan/Pagan/Magickal community.
Since then, I have faced this feeling on numerous occasions.
Like many magickal folk, my first glimpse into Paganism was through Wicca. I realized that many of the Wiccans I knew were female. They readily admitted that they were drawn to Wicca because of the innate female empowerment that comes with worshipping a Goddess. Some readily questioned my motives. Why would a man want to be part of a goddess-oriented religion? For me, the balance of a god and goddess made sense. Everything in nature is either male, female, or a mixture of the two. With that in mind, why would Divinity be any different? Additionally, as a gay man, I was comfortable accepting the “feminine” aspects of my personality. I was just as comfortable aspecting the Goddess as I was aspecting the God. I was able to find the balance and the polarity made sense to me.
Over time, as more men came into Wicca, it was less of a challenge. However, it was also during this time that the main traditions of Wicca deemed eclecticism to be a bad word. If you weren’t part of an established tradition, you were being disrespectful and were not practicing a “real” religion. Again, I had to stand my ground and acknowledge the legitimacy of my practice. Sure, my altar was strange with the Venus of Willendorf and a statue of Ganesh, but it worked for me. I was no less a Witch for not defaulting into a belief system that didn’t align with what I wanted. I borrowed the term Cafeteria Witch from a Catholic friend. I took what made sense and left behind what didn’t. Over time, individual spirituality has become less admonished and more widely accepted, not that I ever needed acceptance.
When I started to focus on my career, I was vehemently vocal that success and the money that accompanied it, was extremely important to me. Several people scolded me for being driven by success and urged me to live a more modest life. People equated success and money with a less spiritual life. I wanted both. I responded by emphasizing that, for me, there is no secular and spiritual. It is simply two sides to the same coin. Being financially comfortable has allowed me the opportunity to experience my spirituality in ways I couldn’t do otherwise.
More recently, I have begun a study in African syncretic religions, specifically Vodou and Santeria. When I travelled to New Orleans to experience these religions more closely, I was met with subtle racism. Being a white man, how could I find common ground with a practice grounded in African spirituality? Why would the Lwa or Orishas listen to a white man? In my understanding, all life originated in Africa, so why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t the Lwa or Orishas turn their ear to an “outsider” wishing to understand them?
Overall, I have learned to embrace my spirituality for what it is. My spirituality is grounded in inspiration and individuality. What works for me doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, I may not be practicing Wicca, Vodou, Santeria, or even Hinduism as it’s practiced traditionally, but it works for me. When I chant with Ganesh, or I Draw Down the Moon, or meet Papa Legba at the crossroads, or dance with Babalu Aye, I feel connected. That’s all that matters to me.