I feel something needs to be addressed. There is a secret that the modern pagan movement doesn't want you to know. This secret is so dangerous that it would utterly change what it means to be neo-pagan. While simple enough the secret is angrily and hastily defended, mutated, added to, and only spoken about in hushed voices by others in the know. The secret?
Pikachu isn't real. Nor are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, hobbits, Gandalf, or Merlin (or his lost book, currently available for purchase for $12.71 at Amazon.com).
What in the hell am I talking about? Well, it has been bothering me for a long time that pagans have this idea that nearly anything you can conceive of as being a pseudo-religious experience, is real and irrefutable as long as the person claims they believe it happened. People say "If it works for you, go for it." Neo-paganism is a buffet religion. We know this, but we are so willing to allow people to claim the title pagan, with little to no study, and then go off and say things about their White-lighter or that the guided meditation cd they bought at barnes and noble helped them visit Merlin and gain the knowledge of the universe...but they weren't allowed to remember any of it.
I'm talking about the New Age, fantastical world in which every animal, rock, dragon, Otherkin, and anything else JRR Tolkien could come up with lives on some astral plane and they've all got super magical secrets to tell you and treasures to share. It's bullshit, and it's time we called people on it.
There was an excellent podshow called deo's shadow that had an excellent episode about calling bullshit and how we're all afraid to do it. This is supposed to be an umbrella religion where you can believe what you want and have your own spiritual journey to whatever god, gods, goddess, or non-deity you want, right? Well, if that's true doesn't the meaning of neo-pagan get watered down? Isn't it quite impossible to begin establishing some credible history?
Furthermore, what does it teach our children? I've heard some well-respected and otherwise thought-provoking podcasters say they have a Santa Claus altar, and in a previous episode one caster channeled Santa Claus. And he was serious. He taught his children that a spirit named Santa Claus was real and that you could contact him. Santa was even a part of his spiritual practice. The argument can be made that there are similarities between his most modern myths, and they oldest myths of Odin. However, if you're wanting to worship the Norse Father God Odin, then do that, not an amalgamation of holiday myths, children's stories, and 19th century cartoons. If you read meditation 101 books, they'll take you through these guided meditations where you end up learning some secret or gaining some tool that supposedly stays with you forever, but it's invisible in everyday life except to you. Do we even know how off the deep end some of us are getting, because nobody will call bullshit?
We've knocked down the myths created and spread by Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner. History refutes the idea of ancient Wiccan witch-cults. Can't we use the same sanity and level-headedness to address this invasion of New Age pseudo-spirituality into our religion that actually has a lot of legs to stand on as it is? One of the main criticisms of the religion is that it's a place for people to go when they want to escape reality, to believe in a world of fantasy and myth. If you want that, please delineate your religion from a delicious fantasy novel, such as the ubiquitous Harry Potter. (who is also not real...sorry) Because, otherwise, you're proving the criticism true.
If we teach our children that everything is real on some plane of existence, we're setting them up for failure, disappointment, or ridicule in their lives. I understand that reality isn't fun sometimes, but it's what we've got. We need to live in it. There is a difference between New Age universal spirituality and neo-paganism, and we need to start coming back on this side of the pool before what little strength and legitimacy we have is lost forever because we were too scared to question one another. There's enough gorgeous, legitimate, provable, historically parallel practice already abounding. Must we muddy it up with these flights of fancy, because we're afraid to call out the bullshit? Well, neo-pagans... Something stinks, and I'm saying so.
Love and Lyte,