An Irreverent Look at Ourselves and Our Supposed “Movement”
Which Degenerates into a Discussion of Theology.
The first rule is that you must bash the threefold rule and the Wiccan rede. This is essential in proving your anti-fluffy status. Once you can learn to parrot the correct words and cliches regarding the fluffiness of these two Wiccan concepts, you have proven to yourself and to others what a real serious Pagan you are, especially if you are an Asatruar or a Celtic Reconstructionist, but really especially if you consider yourself a Witch but not a Wiccan.
Secondly, you must, no matter how many times you have heard, seen, or read it before, believe that you are really the first person to point out that the word “witch” is not the exclusive monopoly of Wiccans. (Despite the fact that it seems that they are the majority of people who use the word as a title for themselves.) And then you must laugh at all those sorry souls who ignorantly protest the yearly Halloween imagery of green-skinned black hat wearing witches because it causes prejudice. (I must admit I find those people pretty funny too, but I listen to what they have to say anyway.)
Thirdly, you must denounce anyone who has had or claims to have had any experiences of anti-Pagan prejudice or discrimination. You must spout the correct anti-bunny dogma which dictates that anyone experiencing any form of prejudice is either imagining it or has brought it on themselves. “They were wearing a pentacle around their neck, they deserved it. They should have kept their beliefs in the closet.” (Yet Muslims, Christians, Jews and people from other religions are legally entitled to wear religious clothing and symbols in most situations free from any discrimination. Yes, I live in an area where you can identify many people’s religions by how they dress or what they wear.) Then you must laugh at any Pagan’s attempt at looking at the atrocities caused by the monotheists. “Everyone did evil things,” goes the saying which really says nothing. (Looking at the holy books of the three
monotheist religions, we find scriptural excuses for mass murder of “unbelievers” who today could be identified as pagans.) Playing “nice” with the dominant religions of our society and day doesn’t mean we can’t be mindful of what their doctrines really say.
Fourthly, you have to make a statement about how magic is really for oneself and one’s own spiritual development (because deep down inside you really do want to impress the ceremonial magicians) and spell casting to change the environment or one’s life circumstances (you know, the ultimate reason for magic) is wrong headed and stupid. No matter how many times it’s been said before, you have to point out that casting a love spell to bring one’s desire is wrong and how they should just go out and find someone in a bar or school or wherever. You must insist that magic is really about changing one’s own psychological attunement so that you can not look so strange to all those skeptics who ask you that damned question you have yet to answer: “Does magic really work?”
Fifthly, you have to claim that the Gods and Goddesses really only help those who help themselves. Despite the fact that any relationship entails a certain amount of dependency and reliance. Oh wait, that’s right. To be a proper anti-fluffy, you have to laugh at anyone who claims to have a relationship with their gods and you will definitely call them full-of-shit if they have the temerity to suggest that their gods have helped them out or manifested other signs. (That’s because as a properly intellectual and anti-fluffy Pagan, you must adhere to the idea that Pagan religions are really just forms of ritual theatre. What is important is what happens in your mind. Forget any talk about gods really being invited in and such nonsense that might make Paganism like “normal” common everyday working persons’ spirituality.)
Next, you must talk about introspection and how important it is, despite the fact that the problem with some of the fluff-bunnies is precisely too much introspection and not enough “extrospection” (or ‘reflection’). You must damn-to-hell all those Pagans who claim to have relationships and realizations and profound experiences that do not come from “within.” (You know, the ones who talk about gods and goddesses as if they actually exist. The Pagans who never read books and yet have had all those experiences that you secretly pine and yearn for.)
Finally, you must attack bitterly any of those poor benighted misinformed souls that still may believe in the Burning Times as literal truth. This, despite the fact that probably only about five or seven people on the planet may still believe in it, establishes your anti-fluffy status beyond a doubt. And despite how many times the rest of us have read the fifty-thousand “Burning Times are a myth” rants, we will read yours and congratulate you on speaking the one and only holy truth.
[Intermission: Pause and reflect a moment before reading the next part.]
Shit. Look at us. We are getting sillier than the fluffy bunnies. We are becoming nothing but a bag of cliched responses and pretentious arrogant douche bags who do nothing to further ourselves by such behavior. This goes for all you “purists” who get all fumed and frothed up because of Pagans going around “mixing” their practices. (As if the pagans from the classical era didn’t do such things.) This goes for all you Celtic and Hellenic and other Reconstructionists who go around calling other people crap for mixing up your “one true” ways. (Yet, for the Celtic Recons, I have yet to see any of you actually learn to respect actual living Celtic traditions enough to admit that Christianity and Paganism exist in a symbiotic mutually inspiring relationship in the remaining Celtic communities.) This goes for all of you Pagans who believe that the Wiccan Rede of “Harm None” is a blindly stupid
and fluffy idea. (If you don’t like the Rede, perhaps you should actually learn what it means and how it applies before you go off about how impossible it is to follow to the letter and blah blah blah.)
Obviously, I lean toward the anti-fluffy side, but after some consideration I have concluded that fluffy bunnies are not really the threat some of us (myself included) have said they are. They either go on to become better and smarter Pagans or they move on to other things. The vast majority of people in today’s society (at least here in the USA) think Neo-Paganism, especially Wicca (that is, if they can tell the difference), is a bunch of silly spurious crap anyway. The bunnies can’t make it any worse for our image. (Really. I mean that. Our image in the public eye is that bad.) Instead of whining and complaining about the bunnies (who, being identified as Pagans, are actually our responsibility), we should engage in, promote, or support efforts by those groups and individuals working to educate others about Neo-Paganism and its various communities.
Also, stop making research and reading the most important aspect of Paganism. If all it was about was reading books and writing essays, I wouldn’t have been attracted to any Pagan religion in the first place so many years ago. (I was Pagan years before I started reading and writing essays about it.) My relationship with other beings, my deities and with my environment is what makes up the core of my Pagan perspectives and practices, not some correctly researched ritual form presented in some book. I love reading, even some of the materials published by other Pagans, but written words are merely aids or tools. Paganism for me has become instinctual and almost first nature. Without ecstatic experiences, invocations, relationships, revelations, dreams, dancing, magic and ritual, why would I be involved in it? I hate to break it to some of you but Neo-Pagan religions are not meant to be “scientific” and I say this despite my love for science.
An example of the latter emphasis on “research” as opposed to experience is the fact that I worship an old Irish Goddess named Macha. Macha is traditionally identified (in written accounts) as one of the triple aspects of the Morrigan. My personal experiences with Her lead me to know that She was also a triple aspected Goddess in Her own right; the Morrigan may be an aspect of Macha; and that She was a Goddess of the Earth, and of the Sun, with warfare and slaughter being only one aspect. I also learned that She tended toward the needs of Her adherents even healing them or protecting them. I learned all of this by experience with Her firstly, it was only later on, after reading old Irish and early modern Irish accounts and stories of Macha that I learned that my experiences with Her rang true with Gaelic traditions. But I still run into Pagans in America who tell me that I can’t ask
Macha to heal or nurture because She is one of the “Morrigan” and is therefore a Goddess of warfare. How dogmatic is that? I often say to such ignorant people “Did you not know that the sun is one of Macha’s symbols?” I won’t here get into my experiences with the Goddess Eris and how many people have tried to tell me “But that’s not right. Eris is a Goddess of chaos!” (I have presented reams of writings about Eris and Discordianism to the world. You can track those down and read them for yourself.)
That above paragraph serves to illustrate my point about experience. Research is important, but it should not be the highest priority, otherwise we run the risk of making Pagan religions dry and merely academic exercises. Though my experience with Macha happily coincided with Gaelic accounts I found later (which is proof enough for me that She exists; like other deities), it is the experience one has in relationship with their deities that is most important. It helps to try to research as much as you can about deities. But never assume that the information you get about them from books or websites is the be all end all. Deities are living beings, remember?
Paganism is alive, remember?
November 11th, 2005
-Irreverend Hugh, KSC
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