So, I’ve mentioned a lot that whenever Devo posts something, either personally to me or on her blog, my mind gets cracking. I start sorting through whatever the point of her post or her comment and then, I think about how it relates to me. And recently, in the pagan blogosphere, it seems like community is the big to-do, or a lack thereof. I’ve read the others’ blog posts about a community and their feelings on it. Hell, I’ve mentioned my own ideas about a fellowship for myself, but this is something different. People are taking what she’s saying and are crossing the wires, so to speak. I’m guilty of it. And it seems like the myriad of people commenting on her blog post are also taking what was said to a level that she wasn’t expecting or desiring or even thinking of at the time. So, I’m going to explain her blog post as best I can (and of course, she can tell me I’m full of shit because I love to hear if I’m right or wrong) and then talk about it in my own point-of-view.
The post in question was her outpouring of frustration at a lack of community between pagans. It wasn’t that she wanted all of us to sit down and have a tea time. It wasn’t that she wanted everyone who has ever once identified as a pagan to sit down and talk about their feelings. And it wasn’t that she was looking for a place to put all of us. What she was looking for was respect. What she was looking for was an openness about ideas. What she was looking for was a way to communicate with other people and let those ideas fester until something comes of it or it’s rejected. She also was looking to have the communication be more than a steam-roller flattening the point being made and more than just a little, “Oh, well that’s interesting.” She was looking for a kind of tea time, but with kindness, respect, and the ability to see past our own noses long enough for points to be made, ingested, and utilized. As she explained it to me, she was looking for the ability to communicate between countries that we have in the world today. Sure, the words between countries aren’t always friendly or nice, but there seems to be an openness there that was anathema even two hundred years ago. She’s looking for a kind of pagan version of the UN but without all of the political agenda, hem-hawing, and ineffectiveness.
She was looking for open minds.
I’ll be completely honest here. When my friend first told me about paganism, I was pretty excited by the comments he had made about how they seem more open-minded than Christians. (Not to shit on Christians or anything, but sometimes, talking about things with them in an open-minded way can be difficult.) Sure, I liked the idea of animism and gods and all of that jazz, but I was thrilled to find that there was an entire basis of people out there who were interested in hearing MY views and possibly coming up with something based off of those. I was also excited beyond belief to think that there were a whole slew of people out there who would be able to not only give me new ideas, but talk with me about those new ideas until they transformed into something. I was so fucking thrilled by the whole open-minded, not dick way that paganism was explained to me that I signed up, whole hog. I was thrilled and stupid and new and had to have the stars ripped from my eyes in some very not nice ways to realize that the friend who got me started on this path? Well. He was wrong.
I’ve come into contact with a ton of pagans and as Devo’s mentioned, there really doesn’t seem to be too many people willing to chat up with others without putting their “this is wrong” face on first. I’ve actually found more open-mindedness in some cases with my Christian friends than I have with my pagan friends. No, I’m not joking. A while back, someone commented (WHO WAS THAT AND WHERE WAS THAT?!??!?!) about how it seemed that Christians are more likely to sit you down and chat friendly about their religion with you than pagans nowadays. It’s appalling, really. I know some of it stems from the heavy secretive way that’s prevalent in paganism than anything else, but it still seems pretty fucking retarded. We’re the fastest growing religion (generally, speaking anyway) in this nation and we can’t even be willing to put out a cup of tea for guests so that we can all wax poetic about our faiths? Really? Come on. How retarded is that? And again, as I’ve said before, with that kind of mind frame in the pagan sphere, why the hell would newbies want to start out with all of this? If they’re going to be made to feel stupid for asking questions about the favorite colors of the gods or made to feel like an idiot because they haven’t found out what to do with offerings yet, then why the fuck are they going to want to start-up anyway?
That’s another post that I’ve already written and another post that’s geared up for the PBP. So, I’ll try to stop doing my tangent thing. Back to the point, though.
The point being is that we’re all created by our gods in their image and we’re not willing to support one another. I’m not just talking with issues like the offerings, the names, the calendar creations, the fellowship desire, or any of that. I’m not just talking about being able to sit down and openly communicate, feelings and ideas, with one another. I’m talking about the ability to let others’ viewpoints, whether they disagree with ours or not, hang out there. I’m talking about the ability to agree to disagree. I’m talking about the ability to let others’ viewpoints change your mind. I’m talking about doing all of that and then some. I’m talking about actually being in a community where you don’t get shit on every five seconds for not following the status quo. But, unfortunately, for some strange reason, paganism is all about doing that right now.
And if we keep this up, it’s not going to last.
- How Can You Support Community…? by Devo
- On Pagan Community and Why I Think I’m Done by Ljót.
- Community in the Kemetic World by Helmsman of Yinepu.
- Pagan Community: A Dying Concept? by Charlotte.
- Where Fellowship Has a Place in my Practice.