Healing Magickal Paranoia
Article ID: 12702
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: July 13th. 2008
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It happens all too often. All of the warning signs are flashing red and you need to get away. Or you just met this group for the first time, and you feel as if their eyes are following you. It’s not just paranoia having to do with magick. It’s paranoia among those who work magick. We have a good right to take precaution.
While from personal experience, most of my interactions with the Pagan and Occult community have been positive, there have been dubious meetings. We are a part of a “fringe” community, and as a result we will always have outcasts in our midst. This is both a blessing and a curse, as our community has the opportunity to help or hinder those disenfranchised from mainstream culture.
I’m not here to question anyone’s intuition. That is a valuable tool for dealing with anyone. But I have witnessed many instances where fellow Pagans (and even I) have been over apprehensive about certain people. We shouldn’t have to start from square one stating that our intuition was wrong, but rather that we were mistaken about what it was asserting. It pains me because it is a big sacrifice for someone who has never met another Pagan to meet up with one or more strangers.
What we want most is down-to-earth personalities with open arms, but the reality is that Pagans interacting must often dance the dance of social formalities.
There are also many instances where it seems it would have been better for a group to disassociate with a person earlier. Like it or not, human beings are not always to be trusted. I would like to present a list of social dysfunctions and types of dysfunctional people below.
Magickal Paranoia, it appears, is more of a syndrome than a particular disease. These symptoms listed below will help one to refine their sensibilities in deciding whether or not a person is truly worth disassociating from or associating with. As I would like to establish, many of these profound fears of other people are often just misunderstandings based on nervous behavior.
1) The “You’re A Jinx!” Complex – No one likes to be thought of as a jinx. Yet, upon meeting someone in a circle for the first time, we often collapse into the trite Wizard of Oz questionnaire, “Are you a good Witch or a bad Witch?”
Personally, I consider someone who can only call the energy they feel either “negative” or “positive” an amateur. I’ve often had friends experience “negative vibes” from people I liked to my dismay, and quite honestly I’ve felt more than often this was the result of clashing personalities rather than secret avarice. If you feel a person, place, or thing makes you feel negatively, try to describe what it is that does that.
2) The “My Goddess Doesn’t Like You!” Complex – If you haven’t met one yet, you will. Some spiritual force or being from thousands of years ago has chosen this person and that force or being disapproves of your practice. Oh, if you could only know the error of your ways and see how your practice is only pretend you could come to the real side of magick. My advice is to be patient with these types of people, as they often do have many kernels of genuine insight. They might not accept what you label yourself, but that is something only you can do! Try talking to their deity in question and you may find them surprisingly more open the next time you see them. Always remember who is the more mature in the situation.
3) The “You Must Hear About My Experience!” Complex – Now people come into Paganism and the Occult for various reasons, but one of these is definitely the Paranormal. While this may shock some, there are people in this world convinced that spiritual forces are conspiring around their lives that ghosts are everywhere, or that Odin is watching them from the tree outside their window.
When a paranormal experience gets blurted out quickly, it gets easy to dismiss particularly if there is no context. Most people prefer to be related to on a human level before stories of ESP-related things comes up. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t know this, who want some stamp of validity so that as soon as they see Pagans need to discuss their personal hobgoblins of whatever sort. Sometimes these metaphysical statements are believable. When they sound like schizophrenia, consider the person may have a difficult time phrasing a hard-to-describe experience.
In my experience, our fringe population has more sociopathy than psychopathy (this sounds like a bad word, but it just means deviant from normal social behavior. I am admittedly a tad of a sociopath.) Often these experiences can be so profound as to alienate a person away from normal speaking patterns. I thank the Gods for our variety, and I hope that we all show patience and longsuffering to these obviously nervous people.
If you are visiting a Pagan group for the first time and wish to discuss things of a metaphysical nature, remember: none of us are here to judge you, we don’t have the feather of Ma’at, and we cannot read your mind. Relax and take it easy. Look for a context, as most Pagans are not prudish about discussing the otherworldly.
4) The “Know It All” Complex – One of the worst. In the Pagan community, it seems authority comes from power and power from knowledge. Thus, we have certain individuals who will always want to overpower others by stating some obscure fact about some Celtic lord of the river bog or divination by entrails or the origin of the black color of athames.
I have been studying Paganism for eight years, with some of these years as pure concentrated book-reading, and yet I know nothing. To this day, I will meet someone who has been studying for X more number of years. They will make some scholastic mistake and I will point it out, hesitantly, only if it needs it.
Why? So many times when correcting a fact, the person will shirk with inferiority and feel very slighted. I’m going to state it plainly: My knowledge is more book-knowledge than pure Craft-knowledge. The fact that I may know some obscure fact doesn’t make me better nor does not knowing some obscure fact make you inferior. To me a good person is better than a good scholar.
Although, please realize that this nervous behavior of stating facts aimlessly is sometimes an Occultist’s way of trying to make the moment sacred with a special insight.
There are many more complexes I could add to the bunch, but I would like to talk about ways of dealing with them for a bit. Once during a Pagan Pride Day just prior to a ritual, a shaved head middle-aged man stood next to me and stated the following, “I just discovered my animal, the badger. Do you know sometimes when you’re looking at a picture and it goes *WHOOSH*?”
I really had little I could say to that. So I paused and smiled genuinely until the grin was returned. This was one of my first introductions to Pagan culture-at-large, and I was worried that more people would say things like this. Fortunately, he was the only one.
It bothers us, because as Pagans are trying not to be seen crazy, we don’t know what to do with people among us that are. It’s easier if one accepts what I’ve already mentioned: we are a fringe population; there will be strange-ness good and bad.
Yet, even if someone’s vibe puts tangles in your stomach, their goddess thinks your practice is fluff and nonsense, they talk about conquering demons around the world, and will not stop talking about an unfamiliar subject, the most you can do is be nice.
Let’s not kid around, you aren’t going to want a person like I just mentioned combining their energies with you in an intensive circle. But you can approach anyone with an open mind, just in case they’re not bona-fide evil/nuts/possessed. I’m being humorous here, but I suppose there isn’t an easy solution, just a hope that we can correct the prejudices of a greater society in our smaller networks. I can’t tell you whether to dismiss someone with honesty or through tactful excuses, but I can tell you that in the long run, you will feel better if you don’t have knee-jerk reactions. A group, I feel, will feel the most comfortable when its standard is neither too closed nor too open.
My last few meets with Pagans have been the opposite of frightening. I feel I can breathe, but I realize now, it’s not that the awkward experiences were bad. It’s just that even through our similarities, we will be different people.
The blending of so many different personalities is a rare sight anywhere. The thing I ask you is: Are you ready?
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
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