Challenges for Deaf Pagans

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Please join Tchipakkan on the New Normal 8 pm Wednesday, 5-25-16, 8-9 p.m. edt. If you miss the podcast live, you can listen in the archives here:

Thor HalvorsenTchipakkan’s guest on the New Normal this Wednesday (May 25th) will be CTCW speaker Thor Halvorsen. As a Pagan and an advocate for the Deaf, Thor has seen issues many of us may have been totally unaware- and has been working on developing the specialized vocabulary for American Sign Language (ASL). ASL has no sign for Wiccan- you must spell it out. The British (BSL) Sign for Witch is based on the hooked nose of the traditional hag, and not particularly appropriate for modern Wiccans and other neo-pagans who happen to be deaf.

BSL sign for witchThor Halvorsen is currently working on a book which will deal with many issues deaf pagans face historically, and in the modern world,  from forced conversions during colonization, the historical degrading of not just pagans, but women, and folks with disabilities (including the Eugenic’s movement). He’ll discuss how signs are often developed by non-pagan, non-deaf people for use by those for whom it is most pertinent without any input from them. Mostly these words are just left out, leaving it impossible for the deaf pagans to speak about important aspects of their lives. Language requires both the “speaker” and recipient to use the same terms for understanding. Without a common symbol set, not communication can take place- effectively silencing the discussion.

I’m pleased to share this because of what Thor calls The Christopher Columbus Effect: while the Deaf world exists and hearing pagans are often unawares, at the same time many Deaf are unaware of Pagan/Wiccan world exists. Thor would like to spread awareness that the language construct is a cultural extension, requiring symbols, vocabulary, etiquette, ritual, rites of passage, tools, deities, and interpretations all of their own, and so the language will only be valid and thus accepted if those of the community accept and recognize these vocabulary as being fitting and representative of their culture, and are willing to adopt them into wider usage.

Please let any of your friends who might be interested in this subject know to come to our site at 8 Wednesday. If you have comments or questions please call in: : 619-639-4606 

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