Labeling Pagans and Other Impossible Tasks!
Elitist. Snob. Know-it-all… These are not names you would normally use to describe the Pagan community. This is the reason many of us filtered in to this diverse, and multi-faceted spiritual path. I felt much battered and bruised by my own self-imposed guilt when I turned from my previous path to God. Truth be told, I prayed to Him and Them the first transitional year. I was too terrified not to! Yet here I am today. I’ve worshiped and practiced now for almost ten years.
Fair warning to the more delicate of us, there is a lot of labels thrown around in this essay. To everyone else, get your B.S. goggles on, and don’t forget your earplugs!
I’m no “Fluffy Bunny” nor am I a “Cynical Badger, ” these are a couple of descriptive names used by Isaac Bonewits in his essay ’Making Fauna Pagans’ to describe many of this community. His essay is one of the top thirteen viewed on this site, and for good reason. I think everyone should view it. It is well written and to the point.
I recently read yet another essay where the author attempted to put down one or several of us by describing a particular type of Pagan as not “real.” In fact the whole theme seemed to revolve around not being real because you don’t put your biggest pentacle out there. This seems to be a very worrisome subject for lots of us, so I figured I might as well throw in my two cents.
I am not a part of a coven, nor do I interact with many of the Pagan community. I don’t think I am in anyway “better” or more “advanced, ” I’m just simpler. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who feel the same way I do. I don’t need reinforcements to follow my path. I interact with many of you here in this virtual community. While I thoroughly enjoy it, the separation that is integral in any safe online interaction serves me just fine. I love to read the voices of like minded people, I just can’t stand the pressure to be “right” or “in” or the most “real” (Usually under debate, who’s path was first) or whatever the term may be. To be fair the people I’ve communicated with have primarily been positive.
However, I ask this question. Why do we need to know who is more authentic? What’s more, who of us has the right to tell someone they are unreal and/or a fluffy bunny? (For people new to the term, this usually means one or more of the following: Flamboyant, inexperienced, know-it-all-two-book-reader. You get the picture. It’s someone who can act at times immature, yet claim to represent us all.)
I take my faith seriously, and I try to teach our young ones to love and respect our Lady as well. Do I need a face full of black makeup, or a neck full of pentacles to be “real?” Didn’t many of us leave our various paths sick to death of “Keeping up with the Jehovah’s?” You all know what I mean. My path is right for me. I’m not fake nor am I a flake.
Do you see the recurring theme here? Lots of labels. Bottom line, Too much make up = Fluffy Bunny. Too little = Not Pagan enough.
Is it possible that others are threatened by my ease and confidence with the Lord and Lady, when theirs is possibly shaky? Is that why they cannot share their Yuletide traditions with those people they love, while simultaneously celebrating their loved ones holiday as well?
I’m not a traitor; I just don’t feel the need to dredge up a history lesson, when my mom says “Merry Christmas.” She isn’t saying it to try to make me conform; she is just saying a small blessing in her most comfortable way. If anyone wishes to label me, try these on for size: Forgiving, Non-Judgmental, And Real (a personal favorite) , or just plain Happy. I don’t live in a bubble, or take happy pills. I live day to day, and try to look on the bright side. (NOT always easy when times are tough, not to mention being a Scorpio who can see B.S. everywhere I look.)
I think the issue with the folks who need to label, is the simple fact that the Pagan community at large wouldn’t wear a label, even if it fit and was made of 100% recycled paper! Are these hypocrite Pagans too afraid to branch out on their own? Are they too afraid to use the brain the Lord and Lady gave them to think of their own traditions?
We as Pagans don’t have the “Word, ” and I for one am grateful. I never liked the thought of only one way. Is it this lack of black and white, mixed with a whole lotta grey that causes the uproar? Who among us hasn’t struggled with identity in this Craft? There isn’t anything like being under enemy fire, and trying to explain your spiritual roots. The sad thing is, however; the firing brigade that often awaits in our own camp.
I suppose you could look at this essay as a “can’t we all get along” type, and maybe it is. Why can’t we all get along? We teach our kids this, and we also tell other people we don’t judge people by their faith. (Unlike some monotheistic faiths) Why don’t we see more essays on how to cast, or some neat meditation techniques we might have? How about traditions that are neat to pass down.
I recently walked through the forest. What an experience. The pine trees smelled of secrets and childhood. The green was so vibrant it almost hurt the eyes. I shared woods lore my grandparents taught me with our two children. I explained how seeds work, and we counted the rings of the tree that gave its life for our holiday. We also gave thanks to it, and the earth for giving it to us. This is new to them, (I’m the stepmom) but they enjoyed it anyway. I felt Them around us. Who needs a church? I wrote this, by the way, as an example of what we COULD be sharing.
I worship this way. I tend my garden with a joyful and grateful heart. I pray to Them, and I give back to Them. I don’t wear a Pentacle, I don’t advertise period. I don’t need it, and neither do They. If this isn’t Pagan enough, I sincerely don’t care. I have nothing to prove, and I don’t believe my path is the only right one. I’ll celebrate mine, if you celebrate yours! (Small joke) Why can’t more of us feel the same?
So the next time you catch yourself judging the Pagan next to you, relax and remember that we are all different, but They know who we are
Issac Bonewits ‘Making Fauna Pagans’