“There are moments where I throw my hands up in the air because I’m so disgusted with the Neo-Pagan Movement. Much of what I’ve observed in this past year are things I observed (and subsequently felt disgusted by) occurred in Christianity.”
This quote is what I used for what I now call my “rant heard around cyberspace” (in reality a few forums and a site or two posted a link, but given I had more spambots reading my blog than readers it was impressive). When I first wrote this post I dealt with my umpteenth Pagan political crud on the internet. When faced between online behavior and real life Pagan behavior I had enough and ranted. A bit of time passed, a few links to my rant were posted, and I’ve had a few more life experiences to go with those rants. I think there are a few I want to add to them based on some of the recent events in the Kemetic community.
It’s becoming a clique. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
“I’m seeing this trend where unless you’re one of “them” you don’t get to make the same remarks, dissent, nor practice with ‘them’. It’s natural to form groups, but there’s a point where the “group” starts to hurt the religious dynamic.”
I’ve come to realize with cliquish behavior in the Pagan community I was naïve. There is no disagreement, even amongst the clique, because that goes against all group-think. If one does anything to rock the boat within the clique backstabbing ensues. This is the key difference between an organization and a clique. Organizations settle their differences and problems in a way which is respectful, healthy, and promotes growth. Cliques gang up on people, plot revenge against dissenters, use dirty methods to get their ways, and eventually ostracize anyone not like them. It’s usually the cliques who are…
Ruining communities with stupid witch wars. Witch wars divide communities like nothing else. From my experience it’s usually a dispute between metaphysical stores, but that doesn’t make the chaos and ensuing damage to the local community less. I’ve seen an entire community divided with parts gone underground because of witch wars. It’s not only damaging to communities within, but from observers as well. It makes it look as if Pagans are incapable of handling squabbles or personal disputes without resorting to ofttimes sophomoric behavior. When we spread gossip intending to hurt other parties, “spy” on “enemies”, pressure people to involve themselves with this dispute, boycott for no reason other than you’re having a dispute with the person, shun for no reason, it ends up looking as if we aren’t mature enough to sit all the parties down and solve it like adults. Maybe we aren’t mature enough for this type of dispute. One of the reasons I say this is because the biggest causes of witch wars stems from…
Too many jealous or resentful people in the community. One of the biggest issues that started the screams for the pettiness to stop in the Kemetic community right now stems from the success of Tamara Siuda’s kickstarter for a book. There was a bunch of spiteful backlash about the issue that eclipsed what should have been a positive moment overall. I’m not saying that Tamara Siuda should be free of criticism, I’m just saying that nastiness is best left for one’s journal and not in the comments of celebrating a big moment for many in the Kemetic community.
The sad reality is the resentments and jealousy of this nature isn’t just an isolated community issue. As I said in the other point this behavior is one of the main causes of witch wars. If we wish to have a thriving community we need to have a healthier way of managing resentments and jealousy.
Too many rabid fundies. What I originally wrote:
I know this seems odd to write about with a movement reputed to be so open, but I can’t believe how many times I’ve had the Rede shoved down my throat. Many pagans cannot accept the fact not every pagan is Wiccan. This is a troubling trend, especially for Neo-Pagan religions that don’t adhere to such things. That isn’t to leave out the ones who, despite any scholarship, want to deny other groups. If this trend isn’t abated in any way I may see a Pagan Religious Right in my lifetime.
I have a lot of people who honestly rolled their eyes at my thoughts on the fundamental Pagans. The thing is when one insists on everyone practicing exactly the same way regardless if one is an adherent of that religion it actually damages the community. It’s one thing to expect a Tameran Wiccan who is a member of a coven who believes in the Rede to expect other members of the coven to believe it. It’s another thing to expect a Kemetic Reconstructionist to follow the Rede, and vice versa about historical accuracy (yes, it’s a different issue if something wholly inaccurate is claimed to be accurate). I have a difficult time believing this, with other behaviors, occurring in the Pagan community this isn’t the foundation for groups going around promoting hate “in the name of (insert deity)”.
If the bar isn’t too high, it’s too low. I originally wrote:
If it isn’t strict “us vs. them” cliquishness there’s this seemingly low standard to allow anything because it’s pagan [sic]. This means allowing pewter items to be sold as amulets and crude artwork marketed en masse. The outrageous standards are going to kill the movement. Which leads me to my next point…
The point I was trying to make is we have far too nebulous standards, and I’m not sure how effective it is to have nebulous standards across the board. I’ll address the other aspects in the next point.
Consumerism is rampant. I originally wrote:
How long have we, as those belonging to alternative faiths, blasted Christianity for its exploitation of people’s dollars? I know it’s hypocritical for one who will open her own store soon to say such things, but there’s a difference between selling a ritual kit for a holiday and selling an ugly pendant as an alleged amulet. Have we forgotten some things, or just became hypocrites?
One thing which irritates me is how some items are marketed as occult or Pagan simply for its own sake. In the case of pewter amulets I’ve actually seen amulets meant to bring out elements of Mars made of pewter, a material which is considered mercurial. If there’s an occult practice which doesn’t have this mixture of planetary alignments as bad I’d love to learn more about it. I suppose if one is eclectic enough it doesn’t matter.
However, I’ve learned a few things about the nature of these products while running my etsy store. Simply put these pewter amulets are everywhere because they sell and people don’t want to shell out the money for the proper amulets. It’s not the amulets alone. If it’s labeled as Pagan, no mater how dubious the label there is someone who will buy it, someone usually less experienced with these things. I don’t know what it’s testament to more in our community, but it certainly needs to be addressed.
The inability to organize for most things. I originally wrote:
I know this issue has been addressed constantly, but if Neo-Pagans are to be taken seriously they’re going to have to treat certain things seriously. This means arriving to events in a timely manner, coming together to protest and inform the public, and respecting differences. I’m starting to question if people have come to this religion for the same reason I came to it.
I think “Pagan time” is still an issue even after countless people explaining why this is rude and distracting. There’s another issue that isn’t fully discussed, though. It’s the lack of commitment to a community. When a quadruple homicide happened in a town where I lived the police blamed it on occult sacrifice. When I not only spoke to the police force, books in hand, to explain why their reasoning wasn’t sound, I found a local church who was elated when I suggested the local Pagans have a question and answer discussion panel to help dispell some of the myths. The Pagans were on board, but no one wanted to tell me when they were available. Sadly, the panel never happened.
It’s the lack of commitment that is going to be the biggest killer of the Neo-Pagan movement. It’s why I was excited to see Tamara Siuda’s kickstarter have such success. To me it’s a sign of possible change from the herding cat mentality for which Pagans are famous. It’s a sign that we’re starting to understand on some level if there are things we want in the community we must support it in a meaningful way.
The god complexes. I originally wrote:
It seems like one isn’t a true pagan unless they lead all sorts of groups, despite being the only member. I understand with some paths one may ultimately practice solitary, but it’s starting to seem like everyone and their goldfish is a high priest/ess. When I question these people, these “clergymen” become indignant or try to negate me in some way. It’s part of the reason why many people don’t take the Neo-Pagan Movement seriously, and it needs to be more stringently addressed. Not everyone is meant to be a clergymember, and the few seminaries already started is a great way to address that.
I feel the god complex is another cause of the witch wars. Someone believes they are some incredible gift to the community with an overblown sense of self then foster resentments when no one else acknowledges their genius. It’s actually one of the reasons I love Ziltoid the Omnisicent as he embodies this very aspect.
Don’t be Ziltoid. Just don’t.
The Party Pagans. I originally wrote:
Reader, I trust you know the type: they’re in it for the shock. While many of them will go their own way by the end of adolescence, there should be a better way to address this issue to repair the reputation. People think some become pagans for the image or to “get back”. It’s probably why a few still venture to say when one has a rough life they sink lower by pursuing paganism.
Apart from amusement at how I sounded like an 18th century author, I was trying to address how there are some who want to be considered Pagan without any discernible clue of being one. They don’t contribute to the community, they don’t practice, or if they do they show know real depth to their practice. They are Pagan in name only, and only bring it up to impress people. These folks are usually called “playgan”, I call them “party pagans”. Some do eventually grow more serious with their practice, but from my experience it’s not that many. I don’t know if there’s a solution to weeding these people out because we need to have some idea of how to settle what makes anyone a follower of a Pagan path other than a name and a personal affirmation.
I think the part that bothers me the most about these rants isn’t that they exist, but I’m not the only one, nor the first person, to have these complaints. These are the same issues constantly reemerging. I think we need to have some real solutions, but even I don’t have an idea of how to solve all my rants. I do feel maybe something like a truth commission would benefit for resolving witch wars before it destroys a community would be helpful. Resolving issues should be a community effort anyway.