Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with Jane Hash, subject of a new documentary film

Jane Hash is a feisty three feet tall. She can be seen at pagan festivals at the Brushwood Folklore Center, in her motorized chair, wearing a sarong and some sparkly eye shadow, giving workshops on nutrition, ear candling and other subjects. Despite her physical limitations, Jane is full of life. She is smart, funny, wise, resourceful, kind, and just a bit naughty.

Jane is making a documentary film about her life which will surely prove to be an inspiration to pagans and non-pagans alike. She is seeking to raise matching funds via Kickstarter Pagans often complain there are not enough documentary films about us, wel here is your chance to support such a venture!

Won't you please support this brave woman's creative project that will benefit a widely diverse audience? Even $10 will help. Use the link below.

I've personally known Jane for years and am completely in awe of her. Whenever I am tempted to complain about my cushy life I think of what this woman has had to overcome, and it tends to nip my whining in the bud.

UPDATE: Jane's Kickstarter campaign fell short of her goal, but she is still hoping for donations to help complete this project. You can donate and get updates via her Facebook page.

Jane offered to do a brief interview with me so people can get to know her. I plan to continue to help promote this film project as it progresses.

Peg: When and how did you first realize you were pagan?

Jane: Realizing I am Pagan was a very slow process. I was raised Catholic, went to Sunday school, and followed all the rules. I still felt ‘spiritually empty’ but I thought if I just tried harder then God would just fix everything. “Give it to God” seemed to be the popular solution.

Then when I was seventeen, I taught Sunday school. I was really excited when they handed me these huge teaching manuals that weighed more than me (keeping in mind I weighed about 30lbs at the time.) I had this preconceived idea that by teaching these nine-year-olds how to be good Catholics, it would bring me a sense of spiritual fulfillment. WRONG! In reading these teaching materials I realized I was not Catholic and I could not bring myself to push that information on my students. So, I kept my mouth shut because I wasn’t skilled in making waves yet. I taught my class every week…but we never used ‘their’ books and I never confessed! Instead, I would engage the kids in conversation. We talked about feelings, spirituality, and did art projects. After that experience, my spiritual quest began. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that I am Pagan but I spent a few years in the broom-closet until I moved out on my own.

Peg: What was your first experience with the pagan community?

Jane: If this isn’t proof that the Universe has a sense of humor, I don’t know what is!

I was about twenty-two years old and I befriended a young Pagan woman who lived up the road. During the same time period, I befriended a Pagan guy on campus. Both of them talked of these Pagan festivals all the time (still not connecting the dots that they knew each other because I’m smart like that.) Then one spring they both invited me to go to a “May Party” at the same address. At this point I suspect they might know each other. I’m not one to turn down a party invitation so I went…and my friends indeed knew each other. It was a great time and I felt really comfortable because I didn’t really know anyone there. Nobody could ‘out me.’ Then I nearly peed my pants because I thought my cover was blown! Walking towards me from across the field was my teacher from when I was a kid!! I totally started to freak out, saying “She’s gonna tell my mom!” “What is she doing here?!”…and everyone around me was laughing like fools! Then I was irritated and asked what was so funny. Finally someone said “She’s our High Priestess.”

Peg: How do you think the pagan community in general deals with disabled persons? Has your experience been a positive one in that regard? What about your festival experiences?

The Pagan community in my experience is very accepting of everyone, including people with disabilities. There is a refreshing lack of ignorance. Not even once at a Pagan event has someone gotten nose-to-nose with me and spoken really loud and slow, as if I’m deaf or cognitively impaired.

I also love that if someone wants to know something about my disability, they ask me. I don’t know why asking people about their differences is commonly deemed a bad thing. Asking questions is how we learn.

Festivals present a lot of physical challenges and provide me many opportunities to test my limits. Honestly, technology is my biggest challenge while at a festival though. I need a wheelchair that can keep up with me. It stinks when I have to stop dancing around the fire to go charge my wheelchair batteries.

Peg: Where do you see your involvement with paganism going in the next few years?

Jane: I’m really not sure at this point. I am out of the broom-closet and ready for whatever new adventure the Universe has in store for me though!

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