The Witch’s Desk: Snobbery Within the Pagan Community

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We think that the Pagan, all hippie love-child neo-nature spiritualist, are above the snobbery of the mundane middle-of-the-road Christian mainstream society.  Well, we’re not.  Pagans are just as human as the rest of the population, and we fall into all the same societal traps, we just don’t like to admit it, and we tend to fall back on the peace, love, nature theme to justify ourselves (look at how spiritual I am, look at how in-tune with nature I am, look at how white is my magick, how pure my intentions, how saintly I am).

This is how it really is:  Just because we practice witchcraft, just because we believe in magick, just because we worship the Goddess, does not mean we are perfect by any means, nor does it imply that we are necessarily even nice– some of us aren’t.  Sorry, but this is reality.  Pagans can be snobbish, elitist, bigoted, holier-than-thou, and just as irritating as any Southern Baptist, as any Catholic, as any Fundamentalist, as any anything.

There is always conflict in the Pagan community, among ourselves.  Pagans are just as opinionated as the next person; and there are very definite views and contradictions, contentions and disputes.  The disputes range from how to practice witchcraft; how to practice goddess worship, what about the god; how to practice magick, what’s acceptable, what’s dark, what’s too dark, what’s light, what’s too light; pantheons– you can’t mix them, it’s okay to mix them, a Greek goddess would be angry if her energy was mixed with a Nordic goddess and your magick won’t work; you weren’t initiated by another witch, or you weren’t initiated in a coven, so you can’t be a witch; you can only do spells on certain days aligned with certain energies or it won’t work; you should cast spells in the heat of the moment; you should never cast spells in the heat of the moment; I’m a Very-Important-Witch because I was initiated by someone who was initiated by someone who was initiated by someone (however many times back) who was initiated by another Very-Important-Witch…and so it goes.

The goddess from one pantheon would be angry if her energy was mixed with the goddess from another pantheon– who the hell knows that?  What mortal can say this with finality?  In truth, if magick works through energy and there are five goddesses out there, all from different pantheons, whose attributes all work for the same purpose, their energy aimed at the same outcome, why couldn’t you work with all five of them for some kick ass enormously powerful energy?  Truth is, you could, and you can.  At the other end of the spectrum is the pagan who embraces and immerses themselves in the deities from one pantheon, who swears by and only works with the gods and goddesses from one culture, and this is okay too

The truth is that paganism, or any spiritual path for that matter, can be practiced anyway that the practitioner chooses.  You cannot police another person’s spirituality.  You cannot force people to believe, or to practice what you do, or how you do it.

There’s been a segment of Pagans, around for some time now, who combine witchcraft and Christianity, and this has driven both hardcore Pagans and hardcore Christians nuts.  “They can’t do this!” both sides howl in indignation.  Why not?  Who says?…I mean who says, who says who really has any authority, whose opinion would really count?  No one, nada.  If a Christian Witch wants to cast a circle and use Christ for her god-form and Mary as the goddess, who’s going to stop her? Whose going to be standing around policing her spiritual practices?  The fact is that no one has the right to interfere in this case.  This witch is what she is, she’ll find her energy through the magickal means available to her, and I predict that the universe will work with her, blessing her endeavors.

There are also cliques.  Really.  You think this is a phenomena relegated to the halls of Junior High?  Well, you would be wrong.  Adults are just as guilty of being cliquish as teen-agers, and Pagans are no exception to this.  Sometimes these cliques are disguised as covens, or as literary groups (who has the magickal stamp-of-approval from the powers that be and who does not), or social site groups, pagan internet societies, or any other such society by which people must be okayed and allowed in.  I can understand this to a point, as in the case of a coven, where a very specific number of people are desired; but in a vast internet social site, or a Pagan Page, etc., it gets a little stickier, a little trickier.

A spiritual path is suppose to enlighten us, to inspire us, to help us live better lives, more productive lives.  We find our inspiration where we do, by super-natural and miraculous means.  It really is magickal, this business of finding one’s path, working ones spells, solemnizing life with our little rituals.  The most we can do is to try– try to be better human beings; try to be kinder; try to be more open-minded; try to be understanding; try to love other people and treat them well; try to see the world and the universe in the big-picture scheme of things.

All we can do is try– and some of us will succeed.

inspirational10

 

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Imbolc & the In-Laws

This isn’t just a blog about Imbolc, though that’s a large part of it. It’s also a blog about religious intolerance, ignorance, and the repercussions of both. As many of you who might know me are aware, my spiritual path has caused almost a complete severance of ties between my husband and his family, by this I mean his parents, some aunts/uncles, and his four siblings. The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back came when one of his aunts, (M.), who has been making an effort to connect, called me the other day to chat and wanted to know what the word “Grimoire” meant in the title of my book. I explained this to her, and we went on with our conversation, mostly about her duties and activities in the Lutheran church– I listened politely. The next evening my husband’s uncle (M.’s brother) called. He said: “M. called me the other night. She sure doesn’t think much of your wife. We can’t understand why you married a witch.”

I have to make a couple points here. I find it slightly unnerving and totally Twilight Zone for someone to call and talk to me as though they actually liked me, even ending the conversation with “Love you”, when in fact they don’t. I also find it a very strange experience to be respected and liked by a certain segment of society, and then to walk into a group of people who not only despise me, but may be suspicious and even afraid of me. It’s mind boggling to say the least, and my mind is so spacey anyway, it doesn’t need any extra boggling.

I thought about this situation, and it seems that there are two problems: 1) a lack of information (knowledge). These people know zilch about paganism in any form. They live in a very small rural community, and anything outside their world that is not understood seems to be threatening to them, so they dismiss it with hostility and an Amish type of ‘shunning’; 2) they are extremely intolerant of anything they view as ‘different’, whether it be spiritual practices, or even very personal things like body adornment, clothes, makeup (“You don’t wear black eyeliner do you?”…ummm, Yes!), and we don’t want to go anywhere near the subjects of body alterations like tattooing or piercing.

Thinking about this situation, I took it upon myself to spread some knowledge, hoping that this might turn on a lightbulb somewhere, open a crack to a doorway of understanding, or at at least invite some tolerance into the picture. I’m being optimistic, I know. But I thought I would begin this adventure by writing up a nice letter on Imbolc and sending it along, just as you would letters or cards for any other major mainstream holiday. Whether this will work or not, I have no idea. Here’s the letter I mailed off. I tried to keep it simple. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too much information at once, just a tidbit to give them a glimpse:

____________________

Happy Imbolc! If you’re not pagan, you may recognize this holiday as ‘Candlemas’ (February 2), a holiday celebrating the purification of the Virgin Mary, according to Jewish law, and a presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, also according to Jewish law. However, long before Judaism & Christianity arrived on the scene, pagans in the old world celebrated this day as ‘Imbolc’, a celebration of birth and lactation, as their herds of sheep began to grow with the birth of lambs. The celebration of Imbolc is in honor of the Old Woman of winter who is magickally reborn as the Young Maiden of spring.

This was also a festival to celebrate the Celtic goddess Bride, a goddess of fire/flame, poetry, craftsmanship, and healing. This goddess is invoked when survival is an issue, whether physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual. When the Roman church invaded the British Isles, they discovered that the people’s devotion to Bride was so strong it could not be eradicated. To solve this dilemma, the Roman Catholic Church renamed the Celtic goddess ‘Brighid’ and made her a saint.

The following is a list of corresponding herbs, flowers, animals, feast foods, etc., that are used in the festivals of Imbolc for symbology, as decorations, and for the magick performed at this time:

Herbs: basil, bay, celandine, benzoic
Altar Flowers/Herbs: angelica, myrrh, flowers that are yellow/white/or blue
Feast Foods: bread, cakes, dairy products, seeds
Animals: burrowing animals, ewes, deer, goats, lambs
Incense: jasmine, myrrh, neroli
Rituals/Spells: candle magick, initiation, hearth/home blessings, fertility magick, healing magick, cleansing rituals

Pagans today celebrate the Wheel of the Year, eight sabbats (holidays) which recognize and acknowledge the changing of seasons, the earth, and nature. This celebration of and homage to the natural world, and the practices that accompany this spiritual path, is called “Witchcraft”.

Every religious group, while perhaps a majority somewhere, is also inevitably a minority somewhere else. Thus, religious organizations & individuals should and do show tolerance toward members of other religious denominations.

http://www.circlesanctuary.org/liberty