Friday, January 20, 2012

The Pagan Secret Retrospective (Mea Maxima Culpa Edition)

August 2009 was the date I published an article called "The Pagan Secret." In November of that same year, it became the second article of mine published on WitchVox.com. To date, it is one of the most-read, most-discussed, most-debated articles I've ever put on the interwebs. And, from time to time, it is rediscovered by someone reading my back catalog of articles, and I'll get an email either praising it as a standing up for tradition or condemning me for my obvious inadequacies, youth, and brash statements.

Today, I received an email from someone that read as follows:

Dear Fire Lyte,

Now that you've created Project Pagan Enough, are you going to ask WitchVox to take down your article titled "The Pagan Secret"?  The two are directly contradictory messages.

You can see a discussion of your article--including reactions from me--at:http://wiccan.livejournal.com/1456880.html

Be well,
Ian

I read the discussion regarding the article. I read, when time and inclination permit, a lot of the discussions of my articles when I'm made aware such discussions exist. I'm very glad that my words can spark debate, as that is one of the purposes of the Riot. In this case, though, I'd like to remind everyone of a couple of things:


  1. The article was written in 2008, before the blog and before the podcast. 
  2. I was 21 when I wrote that article. 
That being said, I cry mea maxima culpa on the article. It's overbroad. It reeks of trying to paint too many subjects with the same brush. The intention I had when I started typing the article and the finished product do not align. I seemed to have worked myself into a tizzy somewhere around paragraph 5, and I was too brash to see it in post-editing. I thought I had this awesome new point, and I thought I was making it. 

Some folks over the years have acknowledged that, while my points weren't very finely put, the message of calling out the crazy and creating a spiritual knowledge filter was a good one. And, I appreciate that. But, Ian is correct that that type of message gets very bogged down in the astonishingly self-righteous tone of the article. The notion it seems I was making in this very half-cocked fashion was that we need to run the fake pagans out of our little club and get back to keeping our brand of crazy sacred, untouched, and unmoving. 

I would - and have - call bullshit on myself. But, I've done so several times over in the past 3 years on the blog and podcast. I have since come to a more mature understanding that, while education is necessary (and calling bullshit is still a valuable tool), we should not be trying to say our God-in-a-box is better than anyone else's. My brand of crazy isn't any more or less valid than anyone else's. The point I thought I was making at 21 is not the point I ended up making. 

The better point, I think, is that if someone calls themselves a Wiccan, the more generic term 'Pagan', a Heathen, or whatever, but they wax poetic about the blood of Christ and going to heaven and washing their sins in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ... Possibly, and this is just me going out on a limb here, someone should come along - instead of sneering at that person, or writing them off as ridiculous - and politely, kindly educate them on the difference between Wicca and Christianity (and that they might not want to give up on the latter just yet). 

The thing I've learned is that, it's not the material the road is made of - whether you pave your path with Gardner or Miyazaki or flying spaghetti - it's that you fervently try to get to the divine. The problem of labeling is not a new one, and it's not one that's probably ever going to go away. I recently discussed this in a much better (in my humble opinion) fashion in the article on Zimmelblobs. It might be time that we as a society - Christian, Atheist, Jew, Pagan, Pastafarian, [Insert Brand of Crazy Here] included - stopped being so sensitive to non-inclusion. To labels. If you're claiming to be a fork, but by definition are actually a spoon, don't be upset, because there is a place for you. Being a fork might not be the best fit, but we're all silverware. 

I've had a lot of time to reflect on The Pagan Secret. To answer your question, Ian, no. I'm not going to ask anyone to take anything down. There are some sentiments in that article I can agree with, and while I can agree that much of it is bunk at this point, I'm not going to try and hide it like I never made it happen. I think that being the founder of Project Pagan Enough and being the guy that also wrote The Pagan Secret doesn't have to be a mutually exclusive thing. There are 33 articles of mine posted on Witch Vox, each one a sign of my growth and understanding of magic, life, the pagan community, Spirit, and myself. I have since clarified many of those statements with much better logic and research in other articles, and I've since negated many of those statements with much better logic and research. I encourage you and others to examine all of those articles, as well as the nearly 700 written on this blog, and the hundreds more created for my podcast. 

Ian ended his email with a quote attributed to Walt Whitman in "Song of Myself":

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I think that's a good place to end this retrospective. Share any thoughts you have in the comments section below.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

3 comments:

  1. You have a very interesting way of saying things that I find entertaining. Also, I agree with the point you're making in this article.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kudos for understanding and acknowledging that the person you were then is not the person you are now. Let's spread the word...We all grow and change.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You know, your post here, made me automatically think of Jimmy Buffett's song Fruitcakes, where he does chant "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!". Then I read the article thoroughly and realized the song fits in more ways than one! :D "It's the Buddhist in you, it's the Pagan in me, It's the Muslim in him, she's Catholic ain't she!" We do need more fruitcakes in this world. :P

    ReplyDelete