Our Inclusiveness Is Our Strength
Author: Carissa Stormbringer
If I had to pick one thing that I love most about Pagan culture, it would be the fact that we allow diversity of opinion and practice. I get amused at how much it shocks people when they see a pentacle around my neck. I don’t fit the stereotype of a Witch that most people have in their mind. What people don’t seem to realize is that there isn’t just one type of Pagan. We’re a mixture of people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I’m a middle-aged, professional woman, and one of my best friends in the Pagan community is a college-aged Goth. I’ve circled with feminists, gays and lesbians, Marines, Shamans, Jewish Mystics, Esoteric Christians, Police Officers…all kinds of people. I’ve seen Druidic rituals, Shamanistic rituals, Wiccan rituals. I’ve heard Hebrew, Cherokee, Enochian, and Greek spoken in rituals, and I speak Latin in my own. The rituals of different Pagan paths are all different, but each is a beauty to behold. I walk away from every Sabbat with a new piece of knowledge under my belt. There is always something to learn from each new path I encounter. We’re all on different roads, but our destination is exactly the same. We are all holding hands as we walk through this life. Every one of us is an important part of the whole, and each of us has something good to contribute.
We are thinkers as well as mystics. We question, we ponder, and we allow our fellows to do the same. Some of my very best friends are people who I don’t agree with on a lot of issues. Why? Because I realize that a difference of opinion should never interfere with loving another human being. If I have to treat someone bad in order to make myself feel good about the path I’m on, then I’m no more than a sadist using religion to try and get away with causing others pain. Most Pagans I have met agree with this whole heartedly, and more importantly, they practice it! At any given festival, you’ll see so many different people around the fire, and in circle so many different rituals. It’s truly a wonderful feeling to see all these different people be together in love and unity. We’re all unique, but we walk through this world with our hands joined.
I know that tolerance isn’t always easy, and we Pagans are no more or less human than any other faith community. We make an effort, however, to make everyone feel welcome. We do not publicly exclude any positive path, nor do we say that there is only one way to worship the Divine. True spirituality isn’t about controlling others. It’s about having a sincere, heartfelt connection with Divinity. As a whole, we realize that people need to build this connection in their own way. What works for me isn’t going to work for another Pagan. I will not stand by and tell anyone that they must worship in exactly the way that I do, or they are evil. The very thought it ludicrous to me, as it is to most other Pagans as well. We believe that all people should be free to express their spirituality in whatever way appeals to them. This elevates the human spirit, and allows for future change if we are faced with new facts about the Universe. We can sit and talk with one another, circle together, and appreciate what each path has to offer. This is a far cry from the exclusiveness of fundamentalist Christianity.
I’ve studied many mystical things from many different paths. All of them are beautiful. I love Runes for their power, eclectic water spells for their beauty, ceremonial rites for their attention to detail, and Shamanic journeys for the amazing insight they give. Each path I learn about has something wonderful to teach me. It pains me deeply that anyone would deny another human being the right to explore the spiritual realm and make up their own minds about things. In my opinion, those who do this are committing a gross crime against their fellow man. I don’t want to live in a world where there are no choices, no freedom of thought, no room for growth and change. This isn’t what the Lady meant for us. She meant for each of us to come to Her and the Lord in our own special way. The form your worship takes doesn’t matter. As long as you are sincere and do no harm to innocent people, you will be accepted with open arms into the Pagan community. We will let you be who you are. We will not try to own you. You can think, question, and be treated with respect and dignity in our fold. You can see Deity in whatever form you please. I think our inclusiveness is truly the shining jewel we possess as a community. By the Lady’s grace, I hope we never lose it.
It’s a big Universe out there. If we are going to someday accept beings that will likely be very different than us, we must first learn to accept our fellow man. Tolerance starts here, with us, in our community. I’m very proud of the acceptance and inclusiveness I see in the Pagan community. This is one reason why our faith is growing in leaps and bounds. People are hungry for what we have to offer. They’re tired of being told what to think and how to worship. They’re tired of the dogma, the disrespect of women, and the narrow-mindedness of most mainstream religions. People want choices, not chains! They want a relationship with Deity and common sense morality, not repressive rules and psychological tyranny. Intolerance has hurt our world in so many ways. It has cost countless innocent lives in religious wars and persecutions, and time after time it has been used as a political tool by corrupt leaders and greedy clergy. It’s time to put this monster to rest, my friends. It’s done too much damage to be allowed to live any longer. May we all share this world together in peace, and may the Lady’s blessing be upon us all, regardless of our spiritual path.