Looking Back: A Reality Check on Neo Paganism
Article ID: 13461
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Crick [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: August 2nd. 2009
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Greetings Folks: As I grow older (sigh) I have a tendency to compare where Neo Paganism was and where it is today. Just this morning I received an e-mail from a dear friend who had just moved to Utah. And she was saying, "Crick, you wouldn't believe the infighting amongst the small pagan community here".
And sadly I thought to myself, in fact I would sister. This past January I retired as a HP of Whispering Woods (a witchcraft coven) after 10 years of service and moved to Lancaster PA. And it has been a war zone my entire time here. If someone, including myself, tries to offer something positive to the area, it is immediately set upon by the handful, which though they have been in the area for some time, offers nothing positive of their own. And so I began to muse on the community in general.
Prior to my own birth and shortly there afterwards there were many established reports that Gardner who started Wicca, was at extreme odds with Cecil Williamson who was known as an English Neo pagan Witch. Williamson made the accusation that Gardner was more interested in outlets for his nudist and voyeuristic activities, than in learning anything about authentic witchcraft".
Gardner then became at odds with Robert Cochrane, who founded the 1734 Tradition, because of Gardner’s insistence on publicity and going skyclad. Have the acrimonious beginnings of neo paganism become the norm for those who follow such a path, today?
And I have to wonder, has so much insistent publicity done paganism/neo paganism more harm than good? Gardner then went on to become ostracized from his original HPS, Doreen Valiente because of his insistence on a younger woman as his HPS.
I cite these examples not as a slam at Wicca or any other pagan/neo pagan belief, but because Gardner is seen as the father of Neo paganism. And having said this, neo paganism seems to be in the same throes of contention and narcissist egos as when neo paganism was first established.
When I was growing up I used to follow the writings of Sybil Leek who was a noted English witch and Astrologer. And yet much to my consternation and dismay, those of the neo pagan movement disparaged her.
Is Neo paganism itself the reason for so much strife amongst folks who call themselves pagan?
Before I go any further I personally see the argument that paganism died out only to be re-discovered in the 1950's as pure bunk. There are numerous Earth based cultures around the world that have always and continue to follow an earth based belief or what we what we know as paganism.
To make such a claim only allows those who spout such words to wipe the slate of reality clean and to re-write the tenets of paganism as they see fit. Much in the same manner as the Abrahamic religions have done to serve their purposes.
And so why after 50 or so years of Neo paganism are folks still so insecure that they cannot accept each other and/or the fact that folks are individuals and may have a different belief system from them?
Let’s face it, many of the folks who step into neo paganism are originally from one of the Abrahamic religions, could this be part of the cause for the ongoing strife and lack of any sustainable growth in what calls itself a pagan community?
Those who proclaim themselves as pagans see themselves as being different from those who follow an Abrahamic religion and yet what is it that makes us really so different? Neo paganism has many high sounding tenets, such as Thou shall harm none, acceptance, diversity, individualism.
But how many folks who call himself or herself pagan/neo pagan actually incorporate these values into their daily lives? Judging from the massive acrimonious situations one sees wherever there is a group of folks who call themselves pagan/ neo pagan, one would surmise that very few actually walk the walk. And so what tenets realistically define the neo paganism of today?
Are the majority of such folks simply living a facade, realistically unable to change their mindset from their former religion to the spiritual path that they now claim to follow?
Why do so many neo pagans now cling to the same parameters as the religion that they left to become pagans? Was it not those very same former tenets that served to change ones spiritual/religious associations in the first place?
Does not religion inhibit by way of its dogma, the spiritual freedom to seek out the Great Mysteries? Does not religious dogma curtail the freedom to be an individual and thus free to seek greater growth within ones spiritual path?
When one surrounds themselves with the tentacles of dogma there is no longer the freedom to seek out the truths of spirituality as they affect each person. You have in essence decreed that you are going to follow the beliefs of the masses as they are dictated by the few. Stepping outside of the envelop as a individual in pursuit of spiritual freedom and the discoveries of the mysteries life is no longer an option.
Can this inability to separate religion from individual spiritualism be the cause for so much infighting as seen wherever there is a group of folks who call themselves pagan? Can it be that the sudden sense of freedom one finds when becoming a true pagan is simply too much to integrate into one’s life after being conditioned to be a follower as one is when they are a member of a religion? Can this lead to a deep sense of insecurity that in turns leads to the causes that are stifling any chance at developing any real sense of community amongst those who call themselves pagan/neo pagan?
The answers that I may have only apply to me as an individual. But as part of the learning process I would be eager to hear your own thoughts on these questions...
Location: Manheim, Pennsylvania
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