Back when Cat and I first started our respective listservs -- Quagans, and Quaker/Pagans, since merged -- we both had to come up with definitions that worked for us and for our sense of the folks we knew at the time. We each worshipped on it, did magic around it, talked to other people, and did our best.
Here's the definition currently in use on the QuakerPagans listserv:
- Quakers, or those familiar with Friends, who experience That-Which-Is-Sacred primarily through Nature, the Earth, and Her seasons, the Divine Feminine, the Goddess and the God, or other pre-Christian Deities, or who also identify as Pagan;
- Pagans who find Friends worship and testimonies -- Peace, Simplicity, Equality, Integrity, and Stewardship/Earthcare -- essential to walking through life, or who also identify as Quakers.
And here's my set of working definitions from my web page on my ministry among Pagan Friends:
- Someone who is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), or who identifies as a Friend/Quaker; and who experiences That-Which-Is-Sacred primarily through Nature, the Earth, Her cycles and seasons, the Divine Feminine, the Goddess and the God, or other pre-Christian Deities, or who also identifies as Pagan;
- Someone who identifies as a Pagan; and who finds Friends' practices, worship, and testimonies (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Earthcare) essential to their lives, or who is also a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) or identifies as a Friend/Quaker.
So, here are my questions for you, my readers:
- Do these definitions work for you?
- If not, what definition(s) would work for you?
- What definition(s) would be the most honest and inclusive of our community?
I am reminded of the work we did in Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, FLGBTQC, around changing our name.
We had been Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, FLGC, for a long time. We knew our name no longer reflected our community accurately. We took a lot of time in worship to discern how the Spirit was calling us to name ourselves and our witness to Friends and to the world.
People may laugh at our name. I've heard Friends say, "If I were there, we never would have taken that name." I think that yes, we would have: we were very clearly led.
The Quaker Pagan community is not comparable to the FLGBTQC one: we don't meet officially; we're not an organization; we don't do business together; etc.
Nonetheless, we are crucial, as loosely-organized as we are, to building community -- within the Religious Society of Friends, and also among Pagans who are attracted to Quakerism but don't know where to start, or who grew up in the RSoF or went to Quaker schools, and don't know how to come back, or even to come visit.
So, what is a Quaker Pagan / Pagan Quaker / Pagan Friend / etc.?