DiversifYA: Lilly D’Argenio

LillyHey guys! Today, we welcome Lilly D’Argenio to the blog for the first of two interviews! Lilly is a  queer pagan YA writer (awesome, no?) and author of RESCUED. She volunteered to talk to us about paganism, and I couldn’t be more excited because it’s something I really don’t know enough about yet.

Once you’ve read her amazing answers, follow Lilly on Twitter here and be sure to check back for her other interview soon!

1. How do you identify yourself?

I identify as a Pagan that has a huge interest in Irish and Norse mythology. I’ve also studied Druidry a little and would someday like to join ADF.

2. What did it feel like growing up Pagan?

I was raised Christian. My mom went to church every Sunday and insisted I come along. Even at the youngest of ages I didn’t feel any connection with the Christian God, and Church buildings always felt cold to me. I never wanted to go in one.

I always felt most at home outside among flowers and grass and trees. That’s where I felt God, where I found the most comfort.

When I was fifteen, my best friend asked me if I’d ever looked up witchcraft online. We had just seen the movie Hocus Pocus and while I loved it, I had never thought to look up witchcraft. At his questioning though, I did.

Plenty of Pagans talk about the proverbial “coming home” feeling. I’m not sure that term adequately describes the feelings we’re talking about. It’s like…having this dream, this wish for years and years and never thinking it was possible, and then, suddenly, it is. Although, in my case, I didn’t know what I was wishing for. It was a completely unexpected gift from the Universe and one that has shaped who I am today.

3. What are the biggest challenges? Conversely, what are the quirks/perks?

One challenge faced by Pagans is being taken seriously. Especially for teenage Pagans. Parents will look at their child and ask them “are you saying this to get attention?” or “oh it’s just a phase, you’ll grow out of it”. I was told both of those things, and they were both hurtful.

The other thing would be finding Community. Even for a solitary practitioner, being Pagan can sometimes be lonely. There aren’t Pagan Churches where several people gather every Sunday, and the closest thing to Pagan White Pages is Witchvox.com. Pagans can be found in every community, but sometimes finding them is a challenge.

I suppose a perk would be that Paganism is a very empowering path. One of the first things I learned was that I have my own power. It’s not just gods that control my life, but I do as well. That has to be one of the single best things I’ve ever learned.

4. What do you wish people knew about being Pagan?

That we’re not out to heap a load of bad mojo on everyone. The only thing different about us, is that our Holy Days are set by seasons and we like to get together on the Full Moon. We pray to our deities, go to work, pay bills, and love our cats as much as the Christian beside us. We don’t worship the devil and we’re not anti-Christian.

5. What are the biggest cliches/stereotypes you’ve seen?

Two come to mind immediately. The Gothic person with the giant sized pentacle is probably the oldest one. The other is the granola eating, tree hugging, hippie. Both of those are found in the Pagan community, but they don’t represent all Pagans by a long shot.

BONUS: What is your advice for writers writing diverse characters?

Research. Talk to people of that faith/race/sexuality/etc. If you’re writing about Pagans, talk to a Pagan, ask about their practice and daily life. Most people won’t mind answering questions, and Pagans especially are happy to dispel a few myths.

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3 Responses to DiversifYA: Lilly D’Argenio

  1. […] They’ve done two interviews with me–one about being Pagan, and the other about being queer–and the first one is posted today! If you’ve ever wondered what life was like as a Pagan, or a bit of my background and how I came to Paganism, you’ll enjoy reading my interview. Go check it out!! […]

  2. I’m just curious, is the term Pagan generally accepted by people in this community? I’ve been interested in Goddess-worshipping and ancient Earth-based religions since I discovered Wicca at age thirteen, but for some reason the term Pagan has always struck me as a little disrespectful to call oneself. Is it sort of like reclaiming the word from Christians who used that appellation on anyone who didn’t worship as they did?

    I have one Wiccan family among my characters, and when the only son in the family marries his Jewish best friend later on, they’ll raise their children as Jewitch, a combination of both religions. From what I’ve read about Jewitch customs, it sounds pretty groovy.

    • Hi there, Carrie-Anne!

      I honestly know next to nothing about Jewitchery, though I’m always interested in hearing how people blend two faiths 🙂

      Pagan is a common term that is used. I’ve actually never heard of it being used in a derogatory way in this age. Pagan is actually an umbrella term, much like Christian is. Under the Christian banner you have Catholics, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. (So that the statement “Every Baptist is a Christian but not every Christian is a Baptist” is true.) Under the Pagan banner you have Wicca, Heathens, Druids, Kemetics, etc. (Therefore making the statement “Every Wiccan is a Pagan, but not every Pagan is a Wiccan” true.) 🙂