I’ve struggled a bit with the letter “I”. I’ve come to a place of “I” staring me in the face.
The truth is, I always write from the “I” because I do not assume to speak for anyone else but myself. I don’t assume that another person doing the same things as I am can’t come away with something very different to me. If what I have experienced helps someone else, even come to another or different understanding, I am well contented. And I am so because I don’t write of religious doctrine, but of spiritual experience. My experience does not have to be the same as any other persons, this is not a scientific pursuit, I am not searching for repeat outcomes, but a creative, emotional and spiritual experience. It is also why I tend to describe things less in terms of “pagan” and more in terms of “sorcery” with the constant reminder that I am an animist.
Where something comes from is important to me. I like to know. And I’ve got no problem telling others either. So yes, I’m a woman, in Australia, working from a British/Norse sorcerous framework, which is to say, not specifically religious, I’m an animist, a feminist, and, in a sense, a pagan. Pagan, because that community is the only one that’s even remotely interested in the vast number of words I use to describe myself. The thing about “Paganism” is simply that it is not only religion.
Unfortunately, like everything religious, from the writing of religious pagans, that is those who adhere to a set mythological narrative or dogma, and who worship Gods (theistic dualists or monotheistic or even polytheistic), you wouldn’t get that impression. Even a little bit.
“Pagans,” they will tell you with the certainty of Bishops speaking of the practice of Priests in the Archdiocese, “honour the Goddess and God”.
In the same breath, many will tell you that “Pagans” mean by “Goddess and God” a veritable list of “names” either have gone by across two continents. Never mind the various reconstructionalists. Reconstructionalists are people and Pagans too.
Since I went there… Dual faith anyone? Slightly confused?
Ah hell, who can’t we include?
It’s not wrong, people who are pagans do indeed honour the Goddess and God, and those pagan people are usually Wiccan. And Wicca is a specific thing. And even then, it could be further defined, or actually be something completely different to Wicca. The term “Pagan” is becoming about as useful as the term “human”. Any sentence that starts with the word “pagans” or “paganism” and does not also include “might”, “can also”, “sometimes”, “will, in some traditions” or similar, is just poor writing. A brief perusal of the Wiki entry for Paganism will give you lots of ideas! And it’s bat shit boring and leads me to rant GIF style on my blog. Or similar…
As irritating as I’ve found my reading and various conversations online these past few weeks, and seriously, the moralising really gets me! Everything from being tutted for using found animal parts in my craft to random, sweeping statements about what “we” do in very open and unaligned broad “pagan” groups… It’s important to keep a perspective. For me, personally, it’s a case of squandering the ultimate creative path, precisely defined in the modern age as outside of the heavy-handed institutionalised religions by small groups and individuals, for narrow thinking and dogma, and that bores me. And I don’t really want to get into arguments regarding privilege, but if you do feel the need yourself, start here with Benny’s post ‘Equality and Privilege‘ at The Jackal, Stag, and Crescent because it’s awesome. And my experience these last few weeks point to a lot more than Wiccans being douche bags.
You know, put some “I” in your isms. And let others do the same. You might learn something, gods know, they teach me things every day.
P.S. This post participates in The Pagan Blog Project 2014.