Picking Up The Pagan Pieces

Cianaodh Pagan Syndrome
Cianaodh Syndrome

Many of us who had the pleasure to be involved with this past Saturday’s DFW PPD are still basking in the glow of what a marvelous event it was for our community. Tommy Elf and I had been talking for some time about the need for folks to set aside what separates them and embrace what brings them together within the community. Sure, we come from a diverse and wide ranging collection of beliefs and traditions but there are some tangibles that do tie us to one another and when we recognize and respect one another’s differences but support each’s right to follow their own spirit we can do amazing things together. Saturday proved that. We had folks from Wiccan, Sumerian, Druid, Hellenismos (and I am not sure I am using the proper form of the word there, perhaps Conor can help me out?) and many other traditional backgrounds all putting on workshops, rituals, vending, performing and mingling together and enjoying one another’s company. We raised an estimated 17 pints of blood for Carter Blood Care and took in 110 pounds of donated food for a local charity. All in all it was a great day to be a Pagan or as I sometimes like to say Paganesque as there are some within the realm of Paganesque thought who prefer other descriptives such as Heathen, Polytheist, etc. Which is fine, I just usually use Pagan or Paganesque as an umbrella term in the interests of saving time and simplicity. When I say it I really mean, just about everyone who believes something other than the gigantic mainstream monotheistic viewpoint.

Anyway, while riding the high of the positive energy which our community raised this past Saturday I happened to get an email from someone starting a new Pagan Network. He has been in touch with Carla Smith who is Vice President of PPP international and through her is getting in touch with various Pagan Pride Local Coordinators to try the new network out. Essentially a social network for Pagans kind of like Facebook but not like those NING based sites you might have seen already. I thought, okay, cool let’s check this thing out. I have to say, the user interface is pretty clean and easy to navigate but could use a few more features which most people these days tend to take for granted on social networking sites. The name leans heavily toward Witches or Wiccan based Pagans but I saw a post by one of the network’s architects saying that they recognize this fact and are planning a name change to something a little more inclusive so I thought, cool, they are thinking ahead. I joined the Founders Club group within the network because I am as of this moment one of only 40 members in the network. I was reading through the posts there and commenting in agreement to some of the things said there then simply dropped the line of something like. I can see where the current name might seem rather slanted against Heathens or Druids though. (Now mind, this is after I have already seen a message posted elsewhere on the site that a name change is already in the works.) The very first response I get back, indeed the very first response I have had back from anyone at all on the network so far is “They will just have to pick up the pieces and move on.” WTF?!?! What’s that all about? What kind of an attitude is that anyway?

You know, I remember some of the conversations we had right here on this blog with Isadore about how many in the Heathen communities don’t care for taking park in community wide events because they are often shouted down and not given an opportunity to speak their piece but this is the first time in my recollection that I had actually ever been on the receiving end of such derision. Seriously! WTF?!?! Pick up the pieces and move on? I don’t know. I guess some folks in the community still have a way to go. Now this wasn’t someone here in the DFW area, don’t get me wrong. But I personally can’t get behind that kind of thinking. I believe everyone should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and whether you are Wiccan, Heathen, Druid, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Spaghetti Monsterologist or whatever you might happen to be, if you are respectful of others you are welcome here.

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,


7 Replies to “Picking Up The Pagan Pieces”

  1. Troy – honestly, I am not surprised. There is always that balance that remains. Being the idiot Libra that I am – I knew these types of folks would come out of the woodwork sooner or later. We’ve all seen attitudes similar in nature from folks in the Christian community – either believe as we do or you are wrong and headed to Hell. There’s no aspect of condemnation – but there’s certainly a distinct smell of exclusion in what you are describing. Its certainly their right. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t. It also means that I do not have to participate in it either. Regardless of whether its accepted or agreed upon by anyone from any corner. Bro, I am so sorry you had to experience that. There is nothing I can do that will get you feeling better over that type of an attitude. But perhaps, we can take something away from all of that – we do not need to pick up the pieces and move on. There’s nothing that we have that is broken. We simply just need to move on. $.02 –T

    1. Excellent point Tommy. Nothing here is broken and to be fair it was just one individual on the network, not a representative of the network. I was ready to start sending people over to check it out this morning but now, while I am not saying I am writing them off entirely, I will give them some time to see if they get their house in order before I do so. I would hate to send some of my non-Wiccan Pagan friends there and the first thing they run into is someone spouting off “Suck it up dude! If you don’t like it you can leave.” Or something along those lines.

  2. How strange! The one thing that I did wish I saw at the PPD were Asatruar and other folks with heavily Heathen inclinations.

    As for the website, that is bizarre. I notice a distinct lack of tact among many Pagan inclined folk when it comes to online interactions, there seems to be this sense of “I can’t see a person, imma be rude.” I wouldn’t take what was said too personally, some people just have really poor tact [of course, they coulda just been having a bad day too.]

    As for the name, it depends ;P. It is a little complicated and there is a variety of interpretations [since ya know, the Athenians had no word for religion]. I use the word Hellenismos which was coined by Emperor Julian. It translates roughly to “The Greek Way”. When describing what I am I often say I am a “Hellenist” or “an adherent of Hellenismos”. Other folks like to use different phrases, such as Dodekatheism [belief in the twelve] but I find that limiting since I recognize more gods than just twelve. Really, naming has been a mild complication within the Hellenic community, and then we wonder why we aren’t bigger 😉

  3. Strange, very… My parents are Christian/ Catholic, but they enjoyed PPD a lot. Now they’re more open minded and pay more attention to their curiosity. Thanks for that. But it seems weird and contradictive in such community (Heathens). I guess they fear they are “too different” from the rest and feel like they would look weird compared to the others. Maybe a boost of confidence and puppies might cure that insecurity.

    1. It’s nothing to do with insecurity (although puppies are always welcome!), it’s just a desire to be recognised as a distinctive faith, not just another variant of Wicca.

  4. A lot of it stems from fatigue.

    My Heathen friends are tired of having to constantly explain that they are different, that no they don’t cast circles, no they don’t follow the wheel of the year, no their gods aren’t just aspects of the God or Goddess and so on.

    Also most rituals, events, workshops, talks are very Wiccan(esque) in approach and simply do not hold any interest.

    Sure this would change if they started participating and holding workshops and so on at at these events but the general consensus is that it’s too much trouble to do so. Plus a lot of Heathens have made the decision to separate themselves from the pagan community completely. They won’t even touch the term pagan for what the word now commonly means.

    It’s not just Heathens, I know several smaller (and thus often over looked) faiths that feel alienated from the community as they are just assumed to be a variant of Wicca. This is just ignorance but to be on the receiving end can be quite a challenge – think of it in terms of a church group constantly telling you that Wiccans are just devil worshipers and how they are wrong etc. Gets kinda old quickly doesn’t it? Makes you feel that you don’t belong? Makes you feel unloved? Makes you want to not associate with that group?

    Sure it’s not as bad as some of the some stuff Christians throw out there but when it’s from the community that you feel you should be part of, that prides itself on religious freedoms and tolerance, it can be a very demoralizing experience.

    I have a friend in the Dallas area who didn’t go to Pagan Pride Day for these very reasons. They felt very alienated by the community as they are a minority faith within it and despite trying many times to reach out they keep getting the attitude that they needed to be more tolerant of other people’s faiths to fit in! In one case they were told that they were wrong in their practices because they didn’t cast circle or follow the wheel of the year!

    Yes, I know, I tend to favor the underdog (I hate injustices) but no-one should be told that they are wrong in their faith!

    There is a Hindu saying that I love

    My faith is the best faith.

    For me.

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