Ranting and Listening

After the personal and depth-plummeting previous post, it’s time for something a little lighter. I promised folk recently that I’d post up something I’d been wanting to rant about for a while, so… I’ll try and be balanced, here. Honest. 🙂

I often hear people say that if they won the Lottery, they’d love to organise a Pagan Communal Place. The general ideas seems to be something like a retreat/monastery, where those who wanted to could live and learn, while others just visited when they felt like it. In blissful unity, of course, all worshipping together without the problems of the Real World.

Think about that for a minute.

I think this really is one of those ideas that is far better in theory than in practice. Can you imagine what living at such a place would be like?

Consider. Those who clatter with crystals versus those who know where they came from (and which ones are beads). Omnivores versus vegetarians versus vegans. Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens… while there’s the makings of a reality TV show, I really doubt such a thing could ever be done, for one very simple reason.

Pagans Are People Too.

Have you ever been in a Pagan chatroom, on a Pagan internet forum, a Pagan Facebook group? The arguments when hidden from each other behind a computer screen can be fairly epic, certainly heated and often irrational based on belief rather than fact. Again, idea is preferable to reality, and some folk like to think they live that way.

Have you ever been to a Pagan pub moot, a Camp or retreat? It’s never as smooth, peaceful and idyllic as you’d hope. Arguments fester behind smiles, passive-aggressive Heated Discussions go on in the queue for the bar, those who are aware of ‘communal space’ face off against those who treat the entire thing as an organised affair for their own personal benefit, and whinge accordingly afterwards, having not moved a finger to help…

I’m not saying these should stop, nor that they’re entirely as awful as I’ve said here. But sadly, it’s a truth at the moment that Paganism (of whichever path) tends to attract the needy, the broken and the socially unskilled. Or, as we know them, HUMAN BEINGS.

We all have our needs. We’ve all been broken. We all get confused by those around us holding different views. But for some, it’s easier to throw up barriers, stand your ground (no matter how unsteady) and argue, rather than… well, listen.

OK, some folks have views that I’d really have trouble accepting into my own worldview. The Fruitarian lady who screamed and ran from a ham on the dinner table. Those who require ‘special treatment’ when they are fully able-bodied and well-off enough to themselves be helping, but are The Chosen of the Goddess. Those with huge Magickal titles whose pedestals are so high that I hope they fall off. And, of course, those who attempt to ‘convert’ others to their way of thinking via guilt. I *know* about the poor ickle fwuffy bunnies, thanks. I’ve skinned them, and watched them get taken down by a hunting hawk.

To be honest, it’s as Eddie Izzard said. None of us suffer fools gladly, much as we might like to think so. None of us have infinite patience. But we can do our best to truly listen first.

I have truckloads of time for those who are truly passionate about their beliefs and is willing to share that (whether in story, song, art, whatever). Hearing someone speak their own truth, whether shy or nervous, is the most wonderful thing, and a true privilege. Please join me at my campfire, I’d love to hear your tale.

Seekers, too, are fully welcome. We are all on a learning journey called Life, and to admit it and settle down for a good discussion is fantastic. Especially when your own beliefs can be challenged, exercising both mental and spiritual faculties, but (hopefully) with enough humour that the light of inspiration is kindled.

However, hearing someone tell you how they personally caused a hurricane over a country in the far East because that country eats dogs makes me want to plant that person’s face into a wall. Yes, really.

I firmly believe that spirituality is not incompatible with reality. But nor is it a crutch, or an excuse for certain behaviour. I may be fairly liberal-minded, but the level of criticism that some Pagans throw at other faiths leads me to think that while they’ve had bad experiences, I don’t blame those other faiths for yelling back. Nobody has ever been converted by others yelling at them. No, I’m not going to Hell. Yes, I have considered how God affects the world today. I’ll listen to you, if you listen to me…

And don’t even get me started on those who use a made-up title to play power games with others (especially the young). You’ll get what’s coming to you, sir or madam – maybe even times three. But allow me to help…

These views are entirely mine. The examples above are all absolutely real (scarily). We are all human.I have my faults too, Lord knows. (Yes, my Lord. He’s fully aware, thanks.)

But my path encourages connection and relationship. Responsibility and consideration. If your words aren’t helping, then what are you saying them for? If you’ve made a promise, why haven’t you kept it? We all do it, but learn from your mistakes.

I think, ultimately, while the old ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all’ adage can be useful (a simple ‘smile and walk away’ response works wonders), if we as Pagans – and humans – took a little more responsibility, lived the tenets of the faith we profess to follow, and had more awareness for others of our path, we’d be taken far more seriously by those others, as well as the wider world. True respect is a powerful thing.

I’m sure this post will piss some people off. It’s not really intended to, but it’s a possible and acknowledged consequence of not being as polite as I perhaps should be. But as I said at the start, it’s a rant – so a bit tongue in cheek, but which grew out of actions that genuinely pissed ME off. Sometimes, things need to be said, or you end up yourself being fluffy and tolerant to the point of ludicrous.

If you don’t like something, that’s fine – move away. Or challenge it. Challenge me, I’m here.

Fancy a discussion?

😉

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2 Comments »

  1. elfkat said

    Thank you!

  2. Taryn said

    No discussion but a big YES! I would love somewhere to go to as Christians have churches and Hindus have temples but as you say a general Pagan centre would not work as we’re all coming from so many places. I have dreamed of a sanctuary where anyone regardless of faith or non faith could access some peace and contemplation, but as soon as you stick a label on it then someone somewhere would stick one on top, try to place their own views onto it or complain about it somehow. It’s great to work in groups but as you say we all have a variety of issues and there always seems to be some power aspect to these. For a while I have pondered why different types of people are attracted to different belief systems when they have had choice and not born into faith through their family. Christianity…a need to feel safe with rules and to feel that their lives were protected with an all father figure…security. Paganism…aspects of a need for power over their environment with an identification with the Goddess aspect. Women empowering themselves? Rebellion. Buddhism…bliss and acceptance of of Karma. I know many ex drug addicts who have turned to this way of life after recovery saying the meditation aspect offered a way of accessing natural endorphins for relief of emotional pain. I know this is all a bit general but all faiths are man made as a response to how we feel about God or however we describe the Universal force. I think it’s interesting to look at what different faiths represent and the essence of their practices and to see what it is about them that appeals to us and why. Druidry was the nearest thing I have ever found to how I feel about my Universe but I do not close the door to any faith. I also see that my Druidry is just my outward expression of my faith and that there is something that I cannot name or describe behind this. For many years I worked within a small Druid grove which was a heavenly experience as we were all close friends too. We lasted around 10 years as a grove which is an amazing feat but sadly life got in the way we all changed and grew up. Some were made to choose between the grove and their married partners, Some put myself and partner in the role of mum and dad and then decided they wanted to ‘leave home’ and have a grove (and percieved power) of their own. A negative situation was created in order for them as children to walk away and slam the door behind them. I find it very strange now to look at old photos of when we were all together and at the time thought we would be friends forever and now we no longer see one another. What I’m trying to say is that when a group of people come together for a mutual cause it’s fantastic while they’re all singing the same song but sooner or later this is bound to change. I miss being part of a group of people with the same interests but who are also on a similar level psychologically and emotionally and are not looking to the group to provide them with anything missing in their lives. Where being part of a group is more about enhancing what they already have. My experiences have made me wary of being part of close groups and I now dip in and out of a variety of different ones but this is at the sacrifice of an essential human need to celebrate spirituality as a community. I don’t know what the answer is and I know I have a naivety when it comes to getting people together and expecting everyone to get along and have a great time. I try not to let cynicism seep into this dream but it is hard not to when I hear on a regular basis all the gossip, bitterness and nasty comments aimed at certain people in the Pagan community. Yes I too see people giving themselves titles such as ‘Shaman’ when they have done a weekend workshop somewhere and start running workshops and working with vulnerable people. I also know of women and men who have been taken advantage of sexually in order to gain some kind of status or power from an alleged ‘Magician’. My only comment to them was why on earth have you not reported them to the police you wouldn’t let something like that happen in a work environment. Answers were that these people feared for their safety on an esoteric level so did nothing about it. Awful how grown up people can place themselves in such destructive situations and that the perpetrators seemingly get away with it and continue to prey.I then have to remind myself that this really isn’t any of my business and to butt out though I feel responsible somehow! I too have now developed the attitude that if you haven’t got owt decent to say to someone then shaddup and walk away if they rub you up the wrong way. Anyway this has been an overlong reply so will finish there!

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