First let me start by saying blessed Beltain! I hope that you all had wonderful days. If you don’t celebrate the beginning of summer (for those of us who only celebrate two turnings of the year, the beginning of summer and the end of summer/beginning of winter), then I still hope you had a wonderful day.
So I remembered that today was Saturday as I got up this afternoon; we had a rough night with Sir Joshimus sick – a rarity in our last nearly 9 years together, so it freaked me out and I ended up spending most of the night up with him. He seems to be feeling better now. But I remembered it being Saturday and I thought, hell, I’ve got to post something! So I sat here for a while trying to pull a post out of my ass – which usually ends up in posts that I end up being embarrassed about later on. So I stepped away from the blog and the computer and we got something to eat. When I came back, I got pulled back into a heated debate about ACA in which I was accused of being ignorant because I said – gasp – that other countries have made true universal healthcare work and are thriving. No rebuttal, just called me ignorant. And then when I called them on it, they posted one word – Germany. So I had to go look up the long list of countries that have true universal, government paid healthcare. So then I ended up scrolling through my news feed and I found a page called Cute n’ Country. So, of course, I had to look it up. And that’s when it hit me – I knew what I wanted to write about today, from a spiritual perspective.
I am country. I am southern. I am, when I’m in my element and getting down and dirty, a redneck girl. Always have been. But I’m also a socially liberal, uber creative, Pagan girl. That married a half-Yankee, definitely not country, boy. And for the longest time, I thought that I meant I couldn’t be a redneck. That I couldn’t listen to country music. That I had to deny that part of myself and distance myself from it. I. Was. Miserable. One of the biggest reasons that I thought I couldn’t be country, that I couldn’t embrace this part of myself, is because of how many people who are country have said “you must be [Republican, Christian, conservative]” or “you must believe [homosexuality is wrong, people who are different are inherently wrong/evil]” and other such absolutist statements. So I ran far from everything southern/country and closed that part of my spirit.
But then I was reminded of something that was so much a part of my upbringing – so much a part of who I am – that it didn’t even occur to me until I was living in Chicago and longing for a bit of space in the country to call my own. Know what that is? One of the biggest things being southern, being raised redneck, taught me – be your true, authentic self, and don’t let ANYONE tell you otherwise. Wait a minute. That looks familiar. My Gods tell me to be my true, authentic self. To embrace fully who I am and be as truthfully me, without impinging on others. It was why I had slowly been walking away from the thought that I had to hide my beliefs, why I had been shedding the coat of “what was expected of me”. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Tell a redneck/country person/southerner that they are supposed to be uneducated, racist, whatever stereotype. Some of them, will be. But most of them – whether they are or aren’t – will likely bow up on you for telling them what they have to be. Hell, I’m no different and never have been.
So why was I letting some people telling me what I had to be to be myself?! Does being southern encourage Christianity? Personally, I think it teaches you that there is a greater power out there – and most attribute that to the Christian God. I have been taught from an early age that there is majesty in the natural cycles of life, that “God” could be found in the natural world. You think a naturalistic world view is purely Pagan? Go talk to a farmer, or a hunter. It was my upbringing that led me to find my Gods. Needing to get out of the house and walk in the woods – something my Daddy taught me – that led me to those that claim me as Their own.
Does being southern encourage conservatism? Yes. But not the radical conservatism that seems to be embraced these days. The things I was taught growing up were to help other people – most of the people I knew growing up would have given you the shirt off their back if you needed it, would have given you a hand to help you back to your feet if you were struggling. Does that sound like the current stance of “conservatives” who believe that anyone who asks for help is lazy and worthless? Because it doesn’t to me.
Yes, bigotry is rampant throughout certain parts of our world. Yes, it is deeply ingrained in some place. But no, I don’t think my refusal to accept that means that I can’t embrace the part of myself that likes wearing cowboy boots, driving trucks, being around animals, being outdoors, listening to country music, amongst other things.
So, I am embracing the fullest of my true self. I wear my cowboy boots and dream of owning a piece of land with critters, growing my own food, raising chickens for my husband’s eggdiction, maybe a couple of horse, and don’t forget the goats! I listen to country music, even when they talk about God. And I still think Toby Keith is a prick. And no, that doesn’t disqualify me, either! Because I AM southern. I am a country girl, a redneck, and I’ll be damned if I let someone try to convince me that I am unworthy because I’m different. Why? Because that’s how I was raised! My faith is not in conflict with that part of my spirit and I won’t let anyone tell me who I can and can’t be.