Hephaestus at the forge

A Greek depiction of Hephaestus (Vulcan) at his forge.

I am a Pagan — that is, someone who believes in the holiness of nature and draws inspiration from pre-Christian religions. I am also, increasingly, someone with a disability, thanks to a hereditary condition called lipedema. (To learn more about this, visit my other blog, Big Leg Woman.)

I’m starting this blog as a way to explore the Pagan community’s engagement (or non-engagement) with its disabled members, and to advocate for Paganisms that are inclusive and welcoming to differing levels of physical ability.

Vulcan is the Roman god of the forge, and in legend was said to have a broken leg that had never healed correctly. (His Greek counterpart, Hephaestus, was said to have a clubfoot.) Despite his disability, he was a powerful deity, governing important matters such as the creation of everything metal (swords, ploughshares, jewelry) and the destructive power of fire. I choose to call this site by his name in part to invoke the power of transformation that the smith performs — in this case, transforming something burdensome (a disability) into something powerful and beautiful (the chance to advocate for a better and stronger Pagan community).

But the fire’s part of it, too. I get angry when I see Pagans treat each other thoughtlessly, or when I see anyone being treated as less than a whole person. So while I cherish the high road, it is possible that I will not always be the High Priestess of Nice.

I chose the name “Vulcan’s Sister” as a reference to Virginia Woolf’s fictional character, Judith Shakespeare, who had the same imagination and talents as her brother William, but lacked his opportunities to succeed. Vulcan, a disabled man, is able through his powerful skills and a bit of blackmail to take his place among the gods and even marry the goddess of love. Women with disabilities are not discussed in history or mythology, and even today women with disabilities experience discrimination and sometimes (sadly) abuse.