I Am a Pagan Reject
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Article ID: 10551
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lupa [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 2nd. 2006
Times Viewed: 10,676
I’ve been involved in the Pagan community to one extent or another for close to a decade. In that time I’ve seen growth in the form of more organizations, more books expressing a wide variety of information, more periodicals and newsletters on both local and widespread bases, and increasing acceptance of Paganism by the rest of society. This is not to say it’s been without its growing pains. I remember reading about Tempest Smith, the Wiccan teenager who killed herself because of religious persecution in 2001. I know that Pagan religions still become issues in child custody cases. Growth is composed of both ups and downs.
What frightens me is the growing tendency for Paganism to pick up the same bad habits that caused so many people to join it in the first place. It’s a sad trend that often the more mainstream a subculture becomes, the more it forgets its roots and starts becoming the enemy it once abhorred.
In the last month I have seen three judgmental essays that have done nothing more than complain about the undesirables in the Pagan community. One was about how ridiculous Wiccans in different or historical-style clothing may look to other people. Another was nothing more than an attempt to discredit those trying to reconcile two religious paths that speak to them simultaneously. And the third was a rant about how people who dress in a certain way or believe particular things aren’t real Pagans.
Is this what real community is—kicking out anyone who’s socially unacceptable because you’re oh-so-worried that someone in the mainstream might think YOU’RE weird? Dictating what religious paths are real and which ones aren’t just so you can feel superior for being a “REAL Wiccan”?
One of the biggest reasons I came to Paganism was because I found acceptance. I don’t want to be Catholic again; I don’t want to be told that I must act, dress, and believe a certain way to be accepted by my community. I like being among people who like me for me, not for what I wear or what I believe.
Yes, sometimes I do get frustrated with the Pagans I know who aren’t like me—conservative, Republican, pro-life, pro-Bush yuppies who think that I’m wrong for experimenting with magic the way I do. But you know what? I may complain now and then, but I realize, once I’m vented my temper, that these people are just as much a part of our community as I am. I may not agree with them, and in some cases I may not even pretend to like them. Hell, I don’t even always like or agree with my fellow “freaks” and “weirdos”. But you know what? To me, Paganism is about acceptance and tolerance, not the bigotry I ran from.
So who decides what real Paganism is and isn’t? Will we only include those who are part of a formal group or tradition and kick out the eclectics, the syncretics, the experimentalists? Are only those who subscribe to a religion with definite deity-forms considered acceptable, leaving the atheist and agnostic Pagans, the chaos magicians who work outside of paradigms, and the undecideds out in the cold? Is Paganism only meant for those who can easily blend in to mainstream society, with Abercrombie and Fitch, neatly combed hair, and a lack of facial piercings and visible tattoos? Must newcomers to the community prove their worth by already knowing exactly what they believe, protecting the rest from witnessing their awkward growth stages where Paganism is all new and shiny and cool?
Some Pagans talk about making Paganism more religious. Well, whose religion will we use as a template? How do we decide who’s being properly religious and who’s being lazy, or a heretic? The relationship with the Divine, the choice to observe or not observe regular holidays, to practice magic or not -- these are all very personal decisions. I don’t need those dictated by someone who thinks I’m not honoring the Goddess enough for their taste, or who is miffed that I’d rather spend my time exploring just how much I can do with magic than by observing the Sabbats and Esbats with regularity. If I say my religion is about exploring the Otherworld with the aid of hallucinogens, dancing in the moonlight with pop culture entities, and believing wholeheartedly that my soul is the soul of a wolf, that’s my business, and it shouldn’t determine my membership in some clique.
Am I really so embarrassing that some Pagans speak of kicking me out because I’m flamboyant? If that’s the case, fine with me. I’ll just invite the rest of us rejects to go form a new community that hasn’t fallen prey to self-consciousness. Bring your black lace vampy dress and punky red plaid bondage pants, your fake fangs and your persona from the Society for Creative Anachronism, your black eyeliner and your leather spiked collar. Got some “unsavory” habits? Fine with us. What you put into your own body is no business of mine, whether it’s an illegal drug like marijuana, or a legal drug like nicotine or alcohol. Proud to be non-vanilla? The BDSM and fetish corner’s over yonder by the pool table. Like to be loud and proud about your Paganism because you just discovered it? There’s a pep rally on stage three—make all the noise you want. Oh, and don’t forget the library, too—we want you to have access to any information you want. There are no secrets here, no bad questions. We all started on our paths somewhere, and your path is your own, no matter what it is.
Oh, and by the way, if you look like an accountant or a librarian, if you drive a minivan and hate John Kerry, and think we’re all a little strange, feel free to jump in, too. It takes all kinds to make a true community, and we need the calm, sedate, mainstream Pagans every bit as much as the wild, offbeat ones. To me, community is family, and family loves all members regardless of flavor.
Copyright: MINE. Grrrr....
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lupa - Click HERE
Bio: Lupa is a happily freaky Pagan experimental magician recently relocated to Seattle, WA. She live swith her mate, Taylor Ellwood, and is the author of "Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic" (Immanion Press, May 2006) ,
Other Articles: Lupa has posted 25 additional articles- View them?
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