[Hpn] Homeless & Poverty Sticken Pagans

Wes Browning wes@speakeasy.org
Sat, 24 Feb 2001 20:23:24 -0800 (PST)

On Thu, 22 Feb 2001, Aariadne SpiderLady wrote:

> Hey all
> I'm currently building a website dedicated to Wica & neo-Paganism, but I
> want to give it angles that other sites don't have.  
> I've been intermittently homeless for ten years and I've also practised
> Wicca.  If any homeless or formerly homeless Pagans want to share your
> stories I'd be glad to post the on my website. I won't use your real
> names if you prefer to remain anonymous. I'm not just looking for
> Wiccans but Native Spiritualists, neo_pagans, & other followers ov
> non-traditional faiths.

I consider myself a sort of pagan, and I've been homeless. 

Before I was three years old I was introduced to the Hawaiian old
religion, by a Hawaiian man who worked near my house. It was the first
I ever heard of religion. Even though my parents were Christian and
tried to raise me as Christian, I was unable to shake off the Hawaiian
ideas I had been taught. They made more sense to me. This fact has
never made me a pagan in the sense of one who catalogs deities in his
spare time, worships at logs, and studies magick that he might gain
advantages, but rather more of a pagan in the sense that, say,
Aristotle was a pagan. Or maybe, Pythagoras. I was less impressed by
the Hawaiian pantheon than the Hawaiian sense of justice, or the
Hawaiian feel for process and growth and psychology.

As a young adult I tried to fit into Christian culture in spite of all
that. It was a strain. When I became homeless in my thirties (around
1983-84) I felt that fitting in didn't matter anymore. I stopped
pretending to be Christian enough to get by. There wasn't any point to
it anymore.

I didn't adopt any outward signs of paganism at the time. I've never
been a part of any pagan community, so there was never anyone to show
signs to. The only people who found out were those who pressed
contrary beliefs on me. I told them. The result was that I forfeited
some charity. For example, there was the Fundamentalist Christian guy
who would buy me a sandwich every time he saw me. He stopped doing
that after I made my non-Christian beliefs clear.

Being homeless has taught me very little about compassion, empathy,
etc. It has taught me a lot about the ambient lack of it. I was
thoroughly sickened by the way non-homeless people treated me,
Christians included, and it radicalized me. I have no empathy
whatsoever with the assholes who kicked me while I was down, and I
will not forget each and every one, as long as I live. Not being a
Christian, I don't feel a whole lot of need to forgive. Instead I wait
for those who did me wrong to make it right. The longer I have to
wait, the worse for them.

When people try to save me, I try to put them down easy. I understand
that from their point of view they're doing me a favor. So I just say
"thanks but no thanks" as firmly as I know how. If they can't take
"No" for an answer, I start to go ballistic. "What part of NO don't
you understand?" etc. 

Wes Browning