Niggers of the New World Order> by Diane Conn Darling

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Neo-Pagans are a motley lot. Some go out of their way to act and appear bizarre. These people marginalise themselves, make our faith appear ridiculous, and make it difficult for the rest of us to be up front about our own religious practices. So we keep our heads down, hold down normal jobs and only reveal our true faith to those who are not obligated by their own faiths to condemn and despise us. Meanwhile we meet together in celebration and support and are quietly becoming a growing light in the world.

Responsible users of entheogens (substances which facilitate an awareness of the God/dess within and all around us) are in a similar position. Though we love and support the more out-there spokespersons of our clan, such as the late Tim Leary, they, by their outrageousness, have in the past made it difficult for the rest of us to peep out from our closets. The many thousands of low-profile entheogen users active today are proof that the interest in and use of various molecules to alter our consciousness are not inherently harmful and are not a ticket to the sidewalks of Haight Street.

But, having established ourselves in our work and communities, we Pagans and psychonauts must use care in revealing too much to our colleagues because we are the 'niggers' of the New World Order. For many centuries it was Jews, then Blacks, Gays, with brief decades for the Irish immigrants, Chinese laborers, Italian everything, interspersed. Now it’s the ecstasy seekers. Dominator culture always hates what it fears.

But we cannot be identified by our accents or the color of our skin. We can choose to retain our protective coloration and to sit down and shut up about our rich inner lives. Declining to cast pearls before swine, instead we cast before them what they like (“render unto Caesar…”), and never mention pearls. We are grateful that, for the most part, we have safe homes to return to and warm places to lift-off to the other worlds.

I do not mean to dis the flamboyant figureheads of any particular movement. Their work is essential, their sacrifice great. Their in-your-face choices are important for breaking through encrusted ignorance — and their 'attitude' makes it difficult for mainstream (homosexuals, bisexuals, entheogen users, Pagans, whatever) to come out of their closets because of the flying flak.

Some of us do want to be members of the mainstream. We want to raise our kids, have jobs, not get ripped off at the auto repair, feel safe when we need to ask for help from a stranger. By our demeanor, we want to influence the ignorant, including those that make extreme associations in their minds, to broaden their ideas about us, whoever we are. Not everyone can be on the front line, the bleeding edge. Most people have to live in Middle America most of their lives.

I am fortunate to live in Northern California. The rest of the country bears damn little resemblance to our social milieu. Closets are safe places and not everyone is a warrior. Some are lawyers, doctors, public servants, programmers, who may feel embarrassed by or even admire the front-liners. We cannot afford to reveal ourselves to just everyone because we have a lot to lose and we aren’t fighters. It’s not fair, nor is it The Way Things Ought To Be. But it’s the best we can do with what we have.

Timing is everything. Have you ever crossed a busy street in Paris? Pedestrians stand on the curb while insane traffic screams by. At some magical moment, unspoken agreement suddenly arises within the group and everyone steps out onto the street at once. Traffic stops. Pedestrians walk.

That’s what I’m calling for. We have achieved critical mass. In many places it’s time to stop shifting from foot to foot and just step out all at once. There is safety in numbers, even for tinkers and tailors.

Flashy figureheads, be they King, Gandhi or Leary are heroes and martyrs, but most of the real work gets done by the rest of us, day by day, in our own communities. History will not remember every person that took a blow in Chicago, Memphis, or Seattle. But no one or two or twenty persons makes a movement. We all have to reach agreement. Then everything moves.

Though I speak in the first person above, in fact I’ve been 'out' in my community for many years as a Pagan, free woman, bisexual, entheogen user. I can afford to: I live in California, not in Dubuque. In Dubuque they need to gather up and step out together.

Through a growing number of email lists, websites, forums and various conferences and festivals across the globe millions of entheogen users are realising that they are not alone. In fact, we're starting to notice that we’re not even particularly rare. At some point we will get linked up and ultimately come to understand that we are everywhere, that we are embedded in our communities everywhere, and that most of us look like each other, not like a raving heroin fiend or a 17th century throwback. That’s when the rising up comes in.

I’m ready. But I’ve been ready for thirty years. It’s important for the other people standing at the curb/in their closets and small cadres, to be ready. It’s happening, and when it’s done, the figureheads will be remembered and we little folk will not. But that’s not what we’re in this for. We just want to be free to be ourselves. Even in Dubuque.

In my own small way I have been the catalyst for changing minds in my own community about what it means to be Pagan. A person who has known me and respects my work, who finds that I am also a Pagan priestess (which they may realise from attending any of several public and political events where I have given invocations, blessings and speeches) is faced with the choice of rejecting their own opinion of me, constructed over several years and many encounters, or examining and changing their prejudices about Pagans as a group. With the exception of unusually bigoted and fearful persons, they always re-think Paganism in light of their first-hand experience of me as a person. Even Fundamentalist Christians. Even cowboys.

I stand strong for anyone’s right to appear and behave however they wish, and it harm none. I also understand how social extremes create problems for those who stand in the middle grounds. That’s just the way it is.

Some people are the yeast, most are the flour, but together and in the right proportions, we make bread happen.