Last week I spoke of why I have been Pagan for over 20 years. I thought that this week, given that I have free rein to speak of anything I want for The Pagan Experience, I would speak of the negatives. The down-sides. The things which have in the past crept into my head – why do I bother when…
It can be lonely.
Unless you are fortunate enough to find and become part of a group celebrating the Sabbats can be a solitary affair. And even the most die-hard solitary Pagan I have known looks to at least know and be known amongst other solitary pagans. Even if they choose to never get together with any of them for rituals.
This isn’t quite the same in the age of social networking sites where finding a group of like-minded folk is as simple as typing a few keywords into a search engine. It was a bit more difficult 20 years ago when the best we had was yahoogroups (back before it became yahoogroups), and nigh on impossible just a mere 25 years ago. Finding a group to work with meant seeking out obscure notices at a local New Age shop (if there were any in your area), or scanning adverts and notices in the back of magazines.
For many though, finding a group was a matter of knowing someone, who knew someone, who might just be able to introduce you to someone….
There’s no time off for Sabbats
Now, I could generally swing something when I was working outside the home because we had a nice little perk called self-scheduling. And since I didn’t mind working Easter or Christmas Eve I could take off on the Pagan Sabbats. Most other people in the coven group I was part of at that time didn’t have the same luxury. So, like many do to this day, Sabbats would be celebrated on the nearest Saturday.
In addition, kids still have school. No term breaks or days off here. School runs to and from still have to be made, homework still needs to be done, uniforms cleaned.
Prejudices and misconceptions abound.
I refuse to get into discussions about what Paganism is not. I have though over the years been asked –
Why are you an atheist? I’m not.
Are you raising your children as Pagans? Yes
Why? Shouldn’t they learn about X religion instead? If they show a desire to learn about X religion when they are old enough to make their own choices, I will allow it.
Are you a white witch or a black witch? /i usually throw this back at them with a question of my own. (Ignoring the blatant racism in such a statement) Would you ask a X-ist if he is a good X or a bad X?
I have been told that because Pagans do not have clergy, or because it is less than X number of years old, or because we don’t have a holy book, it isn’t a “real” religion.
I’ve been told that because Pagans do not have a list of laws or commandments telling us what to do and not do, that means we are unable to have a sense of ethics or morality.
I’ve been told, more times than I can count, that I am going to burn in Hell if I don’t renounce my ways and follow the “right” religion.
There’s no option for my religion on forms
For the past 20 odd years I have had to mark Other (when it is an available option) on any forms that I fill out when they ask for my religious preference.
Sometimes there might be a blank space to fill in what my religion is, but usually there isn’t.
Until I actually mark or say, no I am Pagan, there is an assumption on the part of many that because I am white, speak English, and have an English name that I must be Christian. The reactions when I explain that I am not have ranged from mild curiosity to downright hostility.
Like every other religion, we have our share of ass holes, bigots, and just not so nice people.
I think many go into the Pagan religions with a wide-eyed innocence, thinking goodness and light and everyone loves each other. Nope. We have all of this bunch. Just because someone is Pagan doesn’t mean they are honest, or trustworthy, or safe to be around. The same warnings about watching out for yourself apply, perhaps even more so in an environment where sexual freedom and acceptance is the norm.
Thankfully, the good people tend to out number the bad, and when someone who really is a danger to others comes into our awareness, that person is exposed. Usually. There is still a level of secrecy, and a level of “we’ll kick him out of our group but we won’t warn the group down the road about him.”
For all of this though, I am very happy and proud to call myself a Pagan woman.
This is the path I follow, the religion I hold as my own. Like I said in my previous post I have gained far more than I could have imagined.
Check out what others have had to say this week at The Pagan Experience.