Relationships: When Only One of You is Pagan
Article ID: 14714
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,046
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Author: Ryan Hatcher
Posted: September 18th. 2011
Times Viewed: 3,699
I've been in my current relationship for about a year and a quarter and like any relationship, we have our ups and downs. One thing that tends to pop up regularly, whether in jest or debate and sometimes a jibe, is the subject of my being a Pagan, because my partner isn't and this will sometimes cause conflict.
And so, I thought it would be interesting to write about what it's like to be in a relationship with a Pagan when you aren't one. And the best way I could think of doing that would be to do a sort of interview with my other half. And that's exactly what I did! I've also included my side of the response so it gives both perspectives (a Pagan with a non-Pagan partner and vice versa) .
How would you define your personal spiritual or religious standpoint?
Chris: I don't really have a religion and I wouldn't really class myself as being particularly spiritual, I feel there's no physical presence [of divinity] but we enlighten ourselves through our interaction with nature and natural forces. I see nature and natural forces as the spiritual essence of the planet.
Ryan: If I was to label myself, I would say I was a Witch of my own tradition, though mostly I use the term Pagan first. I see nature and the forces of nature personified through my Gods.
Have you ever had any experience with paganism prior to meeting your partner? (If so, what did you make of it?)
Chris: [lengthy pause]...Charmed, Buffy, The Craft...media images! I bought a couple of books from a local 'witchy shop' when I was younger to see if it took me to a place where I wanted to be. Experimenting with the spells wasn't what I expected. I expected there would be more obvious results.
Has your perspective or any preconceptions of paganism been changed or confirmed? How do you perceive paganism now?
Chris: I see paganism now as any other form of religion/worship, etc. with its own set of beliefs, which I respect even if though I'm not pagan.
What do you find are the difficulties of being in a partnership when one of you is Pagan?
Chris: Finding space for the paraphernalia mostly! Such as trying to find areas for some things to be on display while not imposing on the rest of the house! I'm not too keen on ritual clothing; robes and stuff makes it seem much more like dressing up, like a play or pretending. It makes it seem more 'out there' to me.
I find it difficult trying to understand his need and want to practice Paganism. It makes me think that he must feel there's something lacking in his life or in himself… as if he's not enough of a person as he is, like he needs some extra support. Does he lack a self-belief to be able to go out there and do things himself? Maybe he needs to work behind closed doors using spells to get a result instead of going out there and grabbing the bull by the horns?
Ryan: It's kind of hard trying to get him to understand the point behind my beliefs and practices. The religious and spiritual side of paganism is easier to understand, as it's not that dissimilar to Chris' own point of view, though perhaps I take it to another level. The hard part is trying to explain magic and spell work. It ranges from trying to quantify the 'how' of magic to justifying reasons why. I think it gets taken out of perspective sometimes and he thinks I work a spell for everything I want in life, when it's really only for things I can't physically influence in the world.
Sometimes I think he feels embarrassed as well. I like to have some things on display, for a mixture of aesthetic value and providing a sense of spiritual connection to our home. It may be that he is worried whether people will think we're/I'm odd and not want to get involved any more, or more likely it's because I've gathered so much stuff over the last 10 years he's worried about clutter!
I think the hardest thing, though, is that I've got someone to share my life with, yet I can't share all of it as he's not interested, or embarrassed. It just means ritual has to still be done alone, but when he's out of the house, just in case he thinks I'm being weird!
Are there any advantages or things you enjoy about only one of you being Pagan?
Chris: I don't think there are any advantages or anything I enjoy that is different to having a non-pagan partner.
Ryan: Not really. I guess there are no arguments on the right way to do ritual and things like that, but apart from that, there are the same basic dynamics as in any other relationship.
Have you ever been involved in ritual together and what did you make of it?
Chris: Yes. I don't know what to make of it. It wasn't like I expected. I expected to be able to feel presences and energies, which, unfortunately I did not. I understand the concepts of ritual and offerings, but it's not for me. I don't feel it achieves much for me.
Ryan: It did feel a bit awkward as, admittedly, I spent a lot of the time wondering what he thought of it and whether he was put off me! I was also kind of embarrassed with saying ritual words and what he'd think of the idea of chanting. Turns out chanting wasn't taken to all that well, so we didn't bother so much. Sad though it is, I can safely say I've had better solo rituals.
Would you ever consider reading or studying some Pagan introductory books to learn and understand your partner's spirituality and religion better?
Chris: Not really if I'm honest, unless I had a specific interest in it to begin with and then I'd want to read up on the subject anyway.
Ryan: I'd like him to, as I feel it would give him a better perspective rather than it just coming from me. Authors are generally better at explaining things clearly and in a way for people with no Pagan background to be able to understand.
I just hope this essay provides a different perspective on Pagan life, and maybe strikes a chord with people in a similar situation. It may seem like a public therapy session, but sometimes it's nice to share experiences that could be just as valid to someone else. I hope you stuck with it and it gave you a little bit of food for thought.
Thanks for reading!
Location: Swaffham, England
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