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Article Specs

Article ID: 8948

VoxAcct: 151679

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 5,222

Times Read: 4,830

Ooh, My Head…

Author: Jemma Hawtrey
Posted: February 27th. 2005
Times Viewed: 4,830

Yes, the Neo-Pagan hangover is back with a vengeance (for the White Lighters, that word means “getting your own back”).

Oh my Goddess, the things some of us come out with! Oops, I just did it too…

I don’t know if anyone else noticed but we have a Goddess AND a God (assuming here that you are Wiccan; if you aren’t then the list could be endless). I don’t know about you but I think it might be a good idea if we remembered that.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the attraction of totally subverting the presence of the God within Pagan practice. Its like using “Satanism” for the purposes of getting back at your parents/priest/dodgy vicar, but it has the advantage that you don’t have to do anything nasty to nice poodles/cows/sheep/horses (the journalists will credit you that for free) and you don’t have to prance around like a mixture of Uncle Al Crowley and Simon de Belleme on acid. It emphasises the difference between Christianity and Paganism - or does it?

So many Pagans that I have talked to crow gleefully over the fact that a lot of Christians probably haven’t got beyond the title page of the family Bible and think the Leviathan is an SUV made by Chevrolet in the early ‘90’s. Normally about the third cliché uttered by the newbie as he/she Zebedee’s into their first moot is “I studied the Bible and I know it better than any Christian.”

That’s probably true, lass.

`Tis just a shame you couldn’t actually manage to take in what High Priestess ShiningPathBunny actually wrote in that book that cost you £15!

I have lost count of the times I have been to open rituals to be greeted with the sight of fifty people standing round trying to decide whether to die with embarrassment or look daggers at their comrades in case they tell moot-mates that he or she went to so-and-so’s ritual.

But you know, it’s not the high campery and it’s not even the excruciating karaoke-like renditions of the Witches’ Rune (with half the words forgotten) that make me cringe. It’s that a fair half of us cannot even be bothered to learn our own traditions because it’s so much more fun to bitch about everyone else’s.

And yes, that sort of thing can be fun. Being able to be with other Pagans and poets and writers and creative people who have the same worldview as you. It’s the home you never had.

Well that’s fair enough. But please don’t yabber on about balance and “it harm none” because it is unlikely you are respecting either.

Balance means equality. It means 50/50. It means the best weight distribution to keep daddy’s Mercedes on the road. It doesn’t mean an hour of Drawing Down the Moon and praising the Goddess and then tacking on, as you close the circle, “Oh, and the God of course!”

“Harm none” means exactly what it says. It includes not harming yourself and delusion can be as self-harming as cutting yourself with a knife. We accuse other traditions of not practicing what they preach. We have even been known to accuse other traditions for practicing what they preach. Then we sit there smug and act like we are perfect…

Sorry to have to burst your bubble people, but we aren’t. We are as guilty as anyone else as far as saying one thing and doing another is concerned.

And the wonderful thing is we don’t even have to stop if we don’t want to. I’d rather that we respected our past and our so-called “values” and I try to do that in my everyday life. It isn’t always possible or sometimes even desirable. But at least if you are going to claim your franchise in the wonderful world of Wicca and Paganism, be honest about what you are and what you aren’t.

I myself am not Wiccan. While it is true I tend to follow the “Wheel of the Year” festivals, I have also worked with the Celtic and Romano-British traditions. I freely admit to not holding to the “an it harm none, do what you will, ” simply because I feel that every single thing I do may have a good or bad effect on others, often at the same time. I very rarely work “in circle” and am very rarely seen lugging around anything more than a Damascene-bladed athame. I have been called “High Priest” once, and that by the Pagan version of Tolkien’s Orcs, more commonly known as journalists (lat nom: Hackylus Annoyii).

See that was relatively painless wasn’t it? One and a bit paragraphs and you know whom you are talking to. Why can’t we all do that instead of this “blah blah nature blah blah world peace blah blah feminism blah blah do you want to come back to my place…” that seems to emanate from every moot and meeting?

If the Twelve Disciples of the Bible had acted like some Pagans do, it might be that historians would liken the Last Supper to a five-a-side football game with the Son of God as the referee and Judas on the bench as a sub (maybe that was why he was so bitter, or maybe he needed the transfer fee?). The way things are going Pagan-wise the score would be something like 3-1 on goals but one team winning on a 6-10 hack difference!

We are not in competition. So stop acting like it. We all bring our different experiences and tastes to the table. If you knew that Annette had been a battered wife would you then have started that vitriolic attack on her femino-centric personal Pagan tradition that had her in tears? No, you wouldn’t. So don’t do it now. Saying, “But I didn’t know” is not a defence, as any irate elder would soon tell you.

I guess what I am trying to say boils down to this: Be who you are and believe as you will, but be honest about it and know it. Spirituality is not something that grows in you because “everyone else does that.” It is inherently personal. If there is one single reason for the Pagan revival it is the right to make the choice of your own tradition.

With all rights come responsibility and ours is to know our traditions and live them, not conveniently forget a huge chunk of them because it reminds us of something distasteful.

Copyright: © 2005 Durin ab Iceni (Jon Marriage)


Jemma Hawtrey

Location: Colchester, England

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