Pagan Values month is now sliding into its home stretch, as is #30daysofreading, most of which got eaten by a Louise Erditch novel. I’ve seen some interesting views, and noticed two things, both of which may need further investigation.
1)There is a certain assumption/belief that Pagans do think the same about a lot of topics, even as many of them identify strong personal individuation. No one has said it outright on any of the blogs that I’ve managed to read, but there seems to be a subtextual struggle between the needs for individuation that attract so many to Paganism and the needs for a stronger group mind in the movement.
I know I’ve had these struggles and it’s led me away from coven life. I would love to be part of a coven again, but I have yet to find exactly the right group for myself, and I don’t want to lead the damn thing. It’s not that time in my life, not yet. My journey and initiations have been highly unorthodox, and because of that, I can only work with a group that fits me exactly right. That group doesn’t exist so far.
This assumption of universality that isn’t actually all that universal reminds me of something I encounter a lot in the Christian population/dominant culture. Most people are, in some way or another, Christian. Most of those Christians have fuck-all understanding of other Christians. There is also a mindset in the United States where, if you’re not Christian, you MUST be atheist: other options just aren’t possible unless you’re wearing robes and a funny hat. In a conversation with two men that were, as far as I can tell, raised in a back closet, they told me that they saw Christians in the United States persecuted for their beliefs. “People made fun of them on the way into church.” What the boys failed to recognize was that the Christians were quite probably persecuted by other Christians, who just happened to practice their faith differently.
While I actually do know one or two Pagan and atheist bad apples who would show up to harass the Christians (some people are just assholes) the only time I’ve seen the level of group-think necessary to lead to a mass persecution is when it involves Christians getting panties in a bunch… about other Christians. Sadly, they do this to the other denominations/tribes most similar to themselves.
So, we assume universality we don’t really have, not if you really pick apart the details of those beliefs. But we’re not picketing each other over it, partly because who has the time? But also because, since so many of us go commando, our panties remain unwadded.
2)There are a whole lot of Pagan religions out there, and a bunch seem to want to convey “We’re not Wiccans,” the same way Wiccans convey “We’re not Satanists!” I imagine certain aspects of Luciferianism then fuck us all up.
Wicca has never covered the whole of Paganism, although it does have the most adopted ritual format. For awhile I went in search of other ritual formats, and found a grand total of one, two if you take into account the pseudo-Celtic approach. I don’t venture to place judgment on Reconstructionism: if you get a spiritual experience out of it, so be it; while I question the wisdom of attempting to relive history (I believe in most circumstances repeating things is a remedial step to overcome) it’s not my place to determine the legitimacy of a religion that isn’t asking for the life savings and/or firstborn (or anyborn) children of its members.
I don’t think any of the above is bad, and #paganvaluesmonth helps us to check in on these differences as these religious movements evolve.
For me, the month has taken a lo of energy although it’s given me a blessed break from writing the book on divorce. While i had hoped to have the updated edition of Spellcasting Picture book released by now, converting to the epub format has proven long, painful, and leaves me royally pissed off at the technologists who can’t settlel for a fucking pdf. Grr. Still, a few of these posts took me more than six hours to write – and this suggests that first, I need to work on strengthening my attention span, but also that I clearly have had some complex thoughts that I’ve needed to share.
Really, for most Pagan bloggers, a #paganvalues discussion really does go year-round: when we talk about our magical practices, ethics come into play from the intent behind the spell to the material we choose in the casting. Whenever politics, child-rearing, or even walking down the street happens, if you practice a version of Paganism where the whole world is your church, you confront your values in a constant process of Being. Personally, I like it that way.