Cannot seem to get into a groove of working this week. So much distraction. Finding it difficult to be in the Now.
There is a lot of buzz about Issues Which Mean A Lot To Pagan People this week, in the aftermath of a recent… convention? conference? Just call it a con. People saying nasty things to each other is nothing new, yet it’s like a traffic accident: it’s hard to look away.
At some point in history, it was decided (by some, not all) that All Pagans Must Support Each Other. There wasn’t a singular edict by any particular leader. Indeed, more than likely it started out as a general hope or wish. But, as things like this evolve – these communities of somewhat-like-minded people – hopes and wishes are repeated ad infinitum until it becomes… dogmatic. Perhaps some are not yet ready to let go of their former Judeo-Christian leanings, and they need dogma so it feels more legitimate than something without dogma. Some seem to think that Paganism is a religion in and of itself, rather than a descriptor of numerous religious beliefs. That there is a matter of someone needing more education, but it is up to them to educate themselves, not me.
I have a few friends who lean Pagan, like I do. I’ve had lunch with them, drinks, chatted over coffee, exchanged gifts at birthdays and holidays, hung out in book clubs with them. They get me, and I get them. We have never Circled or Worked together, and rarely discuss our beliefs. They’re just people I know who also happen to believe in Old Ways, in whatever form that might take.
In the Online world, I know others who are the same; they are Pagan-leaning and we each honor that aspect of one another that brought each of us to say, hey, you like that stuff too? Cool. We also rarely talk about our beliefs, except in passing acknowledgment, such as the offer of a lit candle for a need expressed.
Somehow we manage to not argue over activism-type things.
Perhaps we are not Pagan Enough? I have to say that from the outside, the Pagan Community does not look like a welcoming place. If I were just starting out, I’d be intimidated by the frankly overwhelming voices of the rudest people. Everywhere you turn, it seems someone is taking the opportunity to police someone else, while simultaneously making themselves look like an authoritarian. All while screaming that the person they chose to berate is somehow oppressing them.
Is it any wonder I continually shy away from online Pagan-leaning discussions? It shouldn’t be.
(Certainly the rudeness, the shouting down, the bravado behind the keyboard is rampant throughout online discussion. And frustration with such keeps coming up, again and again and again. I don’t think it’s a minority of people anymore. I think the obnoxious squabbling of people whom one would think could act more adult has sent the less strident folks running. They’ll just be stampeded over by the crowd, so everyone still talking online now looks like an insolent, entitled child.)
If this is what the Pagan Community is (circling back now), why should I want any part of it? If I were to have a tradition of my own, it would be one that shuns all discussion of itself in the online world. Does a Mystery Religion remain so, if it’s discussed extensively in online forums? Doesn’t that corrupt the Mystery?
Logically, I know that my own religion won’t be homogenized, corrupted, watered-down by this movement of Pagans Supporting Each Other (while also criticising them). I know it won’t because I won’t join in. And I won’t join in because I am unwilling to be told by strangers that I’m Doing It Wrong.