I told an untruth recently. Not here, elsewhere. On a forum. A toxic place that I keep finding myself going back to after walking away for months or years at a time. Like when you break up with that person you were seeing in high school, run into them again later in life and find yourself interested and attracted all over again. Then after a few weeks you are reminded of why you broke it off in the first place. It’s especially egregious when it’s been several years, you’re both getting older, and yet for some reason, they have not changed in any way that you can tell. Or perhaps they have changed in some areas, but are still clinging to some behaviors that are childish and annoying.
The person I told this lie to (and let’s ignore the fact that telling one person something in message board forum environment is the same as telling every one of the 8000 or so members) wasn’t even speaking to me; they were following around a newbie who had offended them in another thread, for having the gall to be ignorant about something (which she’d made no effort to claim otherwise). So I stuck my nose in, and in the end, exclaimed a lack of belief in the Fae. All because she kept admonishing others that “they are dangerous” and that she is “terrified of them”.
I know! How silly, right? What a thing to be bothered by.
But honestly. Someone has been reading too much Dresden Files lately. I stopped short of asking her to please provide empirical evidence beyond “the lore” (whose lore? which version? what year? which culture?) that showed we had anything to fear from invisible goblins that no one can see. And to please elaborate which culture’s Fae beings she was referring to.
That makes me a Bad Pagan (TM).
But there isn’t an actual Pagan Community. It is a lie. There are people who collectively agree “we do not worship the God of Abraham”, but agreement usually stops there. I find it hard to take seriously a group of people who will actively believe in fairies, while at the same time espousing their cleverness for pointing out that they always consider the mundane before the magical. I also can’t feel comfortable associating myself with a “community” that tries to pick and choose for you which orthopraxy you are allowed to embrace, based only on your ancestry. But only sometimes. You can be a Celtic Reconstructionist, if that is the only path you follow, even if your entire family lineage is traced back to Russia. (Except in the cases of people who think you can’t do that.) However, if you choose to honor Brighid on February 2nd, and you’re not a Recon, then you are appropriating. Except when you aren’t.
It occurs to me that when one involves themselves in a “religious community”, one is subjected to the opinions of your fellow travelers on a religious path. Paganism has so many differing opinions that newer seekers can become disenchanted and confused and maybe just give up. Paganism is not a religious path. It’s just some umbrella term to basically express what you are not (e.g. not a Christian). And to that end, I find the term fairly useless to me.
But what about that lie? Yeah, I said that so that person would shut up about the Fae already. I’m not actually sure I believe in fairies as an actual existing entity, but I sure do believe that the stories people told about them were meant to a) explain phenomena they couldn’t otherwise understand and b) scare the children into behaving. Confirmation bias – it became canonical that fairies are dangerous through generations of storytelling.
The fact is, the truly dangerous ones are us.