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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 77 - 9/15/2002
Pot-Kettle: Do We Have Our Own Fundamentalists?
Does religious fundamentalism exist in some Pagan and/or Heathen communities? Can a closed group or tradition be considered as fundamentalist? Are there some Pagans and/or Heathens who 'preach' one true Pagan or Heathen way? Is resistance to the 'mainstreaming' of Paganism/Heathenism a form of fundamentalism? How can we approach the preservation of Pagan and/or Heathen spiritual and/or cultural integrity and identity without falling into fundamentalism? Is fundamentalism even necessarily a 'bad' thing?
You can also check out Isaac Bonewitt's essay on fundamentalism at: A Call to Arms for definitions and other background material.
| Reponses: There are 91 responses posted to this question.
|| Reverse Sort
| Gods Yes ||Sep 16th. at 6:33:37 am EDT|
|Scott Silverwolf Waters (US Military in Europe) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Oh yes we do and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I have a hard time expressing my opinion concerning this issue without naming certain groups of Pagans/Earth based spiritualities. Lets just say that as a military member, male and a Pagan I have taken some heat concerning my path. Lets not even talk about the fact I am a conservative in the political arena, eat meat, own a gun and drive a large V-8 Truck.
| Of Course ||Sep 16th. at 12:51:29 am EDT|
|Zach (Connecticut) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I think that it goes without saying that fundamentalism exists within the Craft. I would even venture to say that most of us carry around the primordia of fundamentalist thought. It's very difficult not to once we start breaking ourselves down into 'us' and 'them.' The seeds of fundamentalist thought are sewn when we start making generalizations about those not falling into the category of 'us.' When we start labeling Southern Baptists as closed-minded, Catholics as misogynists, and even applying the whimsically derisive term "fundie" to those who would just as soon toss us into a pond to see if we float, we take the first step towards harboring the bitterness of our detractors.
| Yes And No ||Sep 16th. at 12:33:01 am EDT|
|Breed BearWolf (Missouri) ||Age: 33 - Email |
In some way wee do and some we don,t. I have met some other of the wiccan faith that tells me that I am not a wiccan because I an a "Solitary" and that I have never been initated in a path liek Gardeners or Axiander like path. That may be true but I think that the gods have the right to tell me what I am and not a group "Fundies Witches".... In that it is the same as a some Christain group we all heard about.
But as a religion I have never heard of a Wiccan going out and killing a Wiccan of a Diffrent Group to sell there point. I think that Wiccan live by a higher standers than alot of other religions for the mast part we thik that it is every person right ot belive what thay want it just that in some Wicdcan group they think that you are "Fake" if you and not iniatied by a group. It is hard to explane but I have seen it.
My answer to those who ask me if I am in a group is this.... There are 6,000,000,000 people on this planet and they all got there ideals of "faith" we cant all be the same.
I am truely sorry for the bad spelling
| Perpective ||Sep 15th. at 10:48:20 pm EDT|
|Anne Elise (here, there, everywhere) ||Age: 24 - Email |
Is there pagan fundementalism... (please excuse my spelling through out this) simply, not really. There are many zealous pagans and heathens out there, and yes we are a closed community, but unlike fundies in the Christain and Muslem communities, we don't go out and tell people that they are damned if they don't believe what we believe. In fact, even the most zealous pagans let people come to them, and while we will shout our beliefs to the point of drowning out others, we never insist on people agreeing to our beliefs or our gods. So, do we push our beliefs on others in public and in religous debate, yes we do and we should. There is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe and saying what you believe as loud as you want to say it, but you only turn the corner into fundie land when you insist that people should believe exactly the way that you do, and to this day, i have never met a pagan, heathen or witch who said, "Believe as i do our the gods will punish you."
Now while I am a zealous witch, who will stand up for her beliefs and shout them against the beliefs of others i don't want the others to join my religion, i just really like good religious debate (as well as other debate), and I debate to win (sorry for those who find that a little offensive, it's a hard habit to break). However, I believe that this is necessary and that we should put it all out there for people to hear, and that we should be hard nosed and stubbern about it, while willing to listen to (not accept) the other side. But we only cross the realm into fundie-land when we start telling people that our beliefs are the right ones for everyone and that all other beliefs are wrong. There may be pagans out there already doing that, but to this date, i've yet to meet one.
Anne Elise Morrigan
| Unfortunately, There Are ||Sep 15th. at 10:38:43 pm EDT|
|Lloyd Clark (Wisconsin) ||Age: 39 - Email |
Unfortunately, human nature breeds fundamentalism right beside the "Team mentality". There will always be those that feel that their way is the only way and those that follow a path that is not theirs makes those people "inferior".
Fundamentalism raises its ugly head in the form of eco-terrorists who spike trees and set up traps to injure and kill unsuspecting loggers. The fringe animal rights groups that have threatened to infect American herds of cattle with hoof and mouth disease to keep them from being slaughtered for food (I suppose they would rather let them suffer the ravages of these terrible diseases and ultimately be put down by their owners). There are, unfortunately, white supremists that have usurped some groups of Northern European Paganism and commit vile acts in the name of Odin and Thor.
Fundamentalism and the Witch Wars have driven the vast majority of Pagans into solitary practice and underground, to the point that trying to get an accurate count of American pagans for use by our Pagan Political activist organizations is impossible. It is sad that so many people want to play the "superiority" game that they have driven many away.
| YEP ||Sep 15th. at 10:19:18 pm EDT|
|Trish Telesco (NYS) ||Age: 42 - Email - Web|
Every faith.. in fact even non-faiths have "fundamentalists" ... this is human nature. We want to put things into a comfortable box (something that's familiar and doesn't challenge our notions of reatlity). This is the main foundation of fundamentalism - the idea that everyone else must be wrong or else WE are
Real freedom comes when we release those expectations and allow.
| Do We Have Our Own Fundamentalists? ||Sep 15th. at 10:12:37 pm EDT|
|Ariana (Jacksonville, Florida) ||Age: 33 - Email |
The answer to that question, at least to me, is a resounding YES! I live here in Jacksonville Florida and one of my covenmates directed me to this posting. Things got very out of hand when a 55 year old woman from Salem, MA posted that not only could she not find what she was looking for in our local major pagan goods store. She then went on a verbal rampage about how the people that work in the store were not friendly, etc. Later on in the post it became apparent that she was the only one allowed to express her 1st amendment rights, the rest of us were just supposed to suck it up and take her hatred and outright snobbery. The original poster went so far as to insinuate one of the other posters that they were a terrorist for standing up for their own 1st amendment rights. The original poster kept insinuating that her age and the fact that she was from Salem, MA gave her some sort of status over the rest of the posters. I am ashamed to say that my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida is host to the Rev. Jerry Vines that stated to the Souther Baptist convention that Muhammad was a "demon possesed pedophile" and that "Islam is not Christianity". You can do the math as to how welcome pagans/pagan shops are welcome here in the Deep South.
Up until this point I had never encountered such fundmentalism in Wicca/Pagan paths. I ask nightly of my patron Goddess Artemis, that this be the last.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| My Feeling About The Main Difference Between Pagan/Wiccan ||Sep 15th. at 10:12:13 pm EDT|
|Ivy (Sacramento,Ca) ||Age: 49 - Email |
Fundies, and Christian/Muslim fundies is that I have yet to see anything other verbal attacks from the Wiccan/Pagan folks. They may TELL you that your way of worship is incorrect or mistaken,even "invalid", but they haven't yet killed anyone that I know of. Only Jehovah's chosen (or Allah's chosen) have done that, so far. May it remain so.
| Comment ||Sep 15th. at 8:08:45 pm EDT|
|Danielle (Texas) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Well according to Gardnerian Wicca, all other so-called new-age wiccan traditions are "heresy," according to one Gardnerian I know. Gerald Gardner created Wicca, it isn't the "old religion," and since he DID create it, Gardnerian Wicca is the only true Wiccan path---according to traditional wicca.
As a traditional peller, and from my few years of being trained by other pellers, I have a slight problems with wiccans and new-age neo-pagans claiming that what they do is the same as what traditional witches and pagans do. I mean, how many Wiccans know what a Witches' Foot is, and how many books on Wicca have new moon rituals?
As pellers, we don't think that our rituals and charms should be written in books or posted on websites for anyone to get their hands on. We think everyone should be secretive if they claim a "Witch" path, or don't call yourself a witch.
Many pellers also despise Dianic Wicca. Diana wasn't chaste---she persued her brother. Artemis was chaste, yes, but not Diana. Many Pellers are opposed to feminism, especially pagan feminism. I believe it hurts Diana greatly to have her lover ignored. I'm quite sure she wants to be worshipped along side of him.
| Fundamentalism ||Sep 15th. at 6:56:02 pm EDT|
|Rod Arlington (Topeka, Ks) ||Age: 58 - Email |
I don't equate traditionalism, or secret paths with fundamentalism. I have seen Trad folk act as fundamentalists with an arogance to suit. But i see that as a rarity.
I have also met solitaries that act in a fundamentalist manner. Personally I don't think Fundy folk are a pretty in ANY spiritual path including out own.
Ultimately no one person or group gets to decide where this community is going or *should* go. Yes, many would like drive this train, but that just ain't gonna happen.
MY spirituality is NOT challenged by the fluffy crowd nor do I feel as though I must impress or be sanctioned by the trad folk to feel valid in MY spiritual path.
back to the question... YES we do have our fundies and they ain't a pretty site.
| Of Course! ||Sep 15th. at 6:55:32 pm EDT|
|Hearthstone (Michigan, USA) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Certainly there exists religious fundamentalism within Paganism and Heathenry. Wiccans of Gardnerian lineage object to sharing the name of their religion with Wiccans who have learned solely by reading Silver Ravenwolf or Scott Cunningham--both are valid paths but they are also two rather different religions! Reconstructionist Pagan paths also vary considerably with respect to how much change an individual adherent feels is acceptable before the religion has become something different. Some people see very few grey areas, and all religions have their share of these folks.
| Tradition Does Not Equal Fundamentalism ||Sep 15th. at 6:32:35 pm EDT|
|Sterling Harris (Chicago, IL) ||Age: 27 - Email |
It is common for eclectic wiccans, pagans, and heathens to level attacks at Traditionalists, regarding them as somehow exclusive or "fundamentalist" in our adherance to our inherited practices. I have met too many eclectics who immediately assume that simply because one is a Gardnerian or Alexandrian or whatever that we somehow look down upon them and do not regard them as "valid". Typically, those individuals that I have come in contact with have never even met a legit Traditionalist and develop their opinions based upon the writings of a slew of anti-traditionalist Llewellyn writers and general prejudices and misconceptions within the neopagan community at large. I have seen this written on this forum, regarding this particular issue, and found it necessary to respond.
While I take issue with pagans who revel in attacking Christianity and playing the role of the oppressed minority, this is typically something one finds in those who are new to our community. Perhaps it is their way of dealing with the emotional trauma of being raised in a strict Christian household. I don't know but perhaps that could be regarded as fundamentalist.
However, it is unfair and decidedly prejudicial to regard Traditional Wicca (i.e. Gardnerians, Alexandrians, et al) as exclusive and fundamentalist. Yes, we have our practices and no, we don't intend to change them for you or anyone. They have been passed to us and by their very nature, our rites are a part of our identity as traditionalists. To make fundamental changes in these practices is, I feel, to make fundamental changes in the very basis of our tradition, thus destroying our roots and eliminating the common ground that we all share as traditionalists.
This is not to say, however, that we will not work with or regard eclectics as valid. This may have been true thirty or forty years ago but I feel is wholly inappropriate for the 21st Century. From personal experience, Gardnerians now could care less what eclectics do aside from the times when you choose to speak for the entire "pagan community". Our coven has worked with several eclectic groups in pagan student unions and community-building projects, even in environmental and social justice activism. The fact that the stereotype of traditionalists as being exclusive, elitist, witchier-than-thou fundamentalists still exists simply shows the ignorance and intolerance towards our path within the neopagan community at large.
Yes, our secretive nature has led to a great deal of misconceptions as to what we do and why we do them. However, by exhibiting a consistent prejudice towards Traditional Wicca, as indicated in earlier posts on the topic of fundamentalism, you are merely perpetuating the intolerance and bigotry that you claim to be fighting. We have our ways and we don't intend to change them for anyone. Those who are drawn to our ways are welcome and those who are not, we ask them to look elsewhere but go in peace and the love of the Goddess. Why do you feel it necessary for us to change our ways for you? How does that make Traditionalists fundamentalist? Why should Traditionalists conform to what eclectics think we should be?
Sterling Harris, 3* Gardnerian
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