(Originally posted by me on Blogger 11/2/2011)
Once again, I am moved to rant about Pagans in general. It's sad.
Last night I said to my lover, "I don't think I want to call myself Pagan anymore."
Because I hate associating myself with people I find morally and ethically reprehensible.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I'm judging, but it's not about judging! It's about being extremely uncomfortable. Can I help my discomfort in the presence of drunkenness, drug use, promiscuity, child abuse/neglect and just plain rudeness?
I'm sorry, ladies and gentleman, I have news for you. You know the stuff that the Christians say about us, those bastards? In many cases, it's true. And what happens if I say that I'd rather not hang out where there will be drinking, and I'd rather not invite so and so because she is sexually indiscreet in public? I am accused of being Christian.
Them's fightin' words. But I don't fight. And I'm not judging. I'm just saying that just because you're Pagan and I'm Pagan doesn't mean that we think the same behaviors are acceptable. And that's sad. Because at least when Christians go to Christian gatherings they can be reasonably assured that their children aren't going to witness a late night drunken brawl or a public hand job.
It seems, and this blows my mind, that many people are Pagan just because they don't want to be Christian and it also seems that many people think that being Pagan exempts them from all ethical responsibility and in some cases in basic rules of etiquette.
I don't want to be associated with those people. It's true. That's not me. And I hate it that people hear that I'm Pagan and associate me with people who behave that way. Because I don't. And not only don't I, I don't like it and I most likely feel the same way about people who behave that way as the people who are associating me with those behaviors! Argh.
Okay, so here I am, a Neo-Hellenic Polytheist. I have rules to follow. I am not allowed to abuse my body and I have to try to get it into tip top shape. This is very difficult. It means I can't smoke or drink in excess and that I must eat right and exercise. I am very bad at this. But I try! I must also adhere to the code of hospitality. I AM BOUND BY MY GODS to follow basic etiquette of the time. I say please and thank you. I cover my nudity. I do not engage in public sexual displays. I don't pick fights, I try not to swear too much and I try to show basic courtesy to people around me. I try not to gossip, break promises or otherwise give people reason not to trust me. I do not lie. I am supposed to give return gifts. I'm bad at this too. This is why I HATE getting gifts from people.
I mean. There are rules. Never ever in my life have I seen anything to indicate that being Pagan meant I had no rules. If that were the case, I would probably not have chosen this path. What is the point of a path without guidelines? If there are no markers, there's no path.
I don't have rules like, you have to walk clockwise and you can't leave the circle without "cutting a door". And I don't have any rules about what color candles I have to use for specific purposes.
But I do have rules associated with evocation and invocation and libations. It's about respect.
I never thought that being Pagan meant having complete freedom from rules. I don't consider a few rules to be oppressive, either. They are necessary, and they are part of religion. If a religion doesn't give you rules to follow, it's not a religion. I'm sorry.
So. My life is lonely sometimes. I want to have a religious group to share with my family. But I have to be so careful that my children aren't exposed to these negative elements- drinking, drugs, promiscuity, oath-breaking, irresponsibility, that it's hard. I hesitate to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a week-long festival knowing there's a good chance I'm going to be horrified and head home after a few hours. It's not like going to some public place where my kids are seeing people act crazy, this is a religious gathering. That implies that the people we're with follow the same religious, moral and ethical codes we do. Therefore, their behavior is going to send a much more powerful message to my children than that of some random stranger at a concert.
When I plan my own events, people urge me to invite the public, to help defray the costs, but to me it is worth it to spend the extra money and only invite those people who have similar values to my own. When I explain these things that concern me, people always say, "I never saw anything like that at PSG or Starwood." and then in another conversation tell joyful stories about getting wasted and passing out and looking for lost drunks in the woods at these gatherings. It sounds to me like stuff like that happens there. So I'm afraid to go. Maybe if the place is big enough that people can be drunk on one side and sober on the other… and maybe if the drunk people are quietly and cheerfully drunk… I don't know. I guess I'll have to go and see.
I am not like other Pagans. It sucks. It's lonely. And frustrating.
It's ironic, isn't it, that I have this website with literally hundreds of pages of advice for Pagans and I can't even fit in to my own local Pagan community. It seems the height of hypocrisy, doesn't it? Maybe I shouldn't.
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