|Some Old Pagans thought it time to give the smackdown to us Young Pagans. I'm smacking back.|
So, in the interest of fairness, and because it's been a while since I've done one of my lovely lists, here is my message to "old" pagans (or pagans that think they've been around the witchy block a time or seven). Also, it might help if you read the two letters to Young Pagans first, as I reference their points. Ahem:
- Before you go getting high and mighty about telling the young witchy girl in her diaphanous garb to quit bleating Never Again the Burning Times, why don't you figure out where she got that information? The pagan community has Sheeple, too, and they had to learn from someone. So, Old Pagan, how about you make sure that all the folks in YOUR age/experience group stop teaching this garbage, and the young folks will stop parroting it back as though it were gospel.
- Please, stop thinking science and academic research is the enemy. It isn't. However, there is a place where the two can meet, where you can have an academic understanding of how something works (such as the celestial bodies that fly across the sky are not chariots or wolves or houses, but rather a huge chunk of rock that reflects the other huge ball of burning gas) and also hold to your faith. We, as a species, have come a long way since the time when we believed the lightning only struck because a god was pissed at us. We have a greater understanding of how the world works, and it can only serve to better our relationship with the divine - which, last time I checked, many of us consider to either be nature or to be in nature.
- How about we just quit bitching about what someone wears? Generally speaking. How about we just quit bitching about one particular look? Yes, there are folks that join this path and then feel they need to wear all black with black makeup and more jewelry than any Spencer's or Hot Topic could possibly provide. There are also, oh dear Old Pagan, the delightful Unwashed Hippy Pagans (who are simply a delight to sit next to at a meet-up...not), and the Pagan that Knits Everything She Wears, and the Trenchcoat Pagan that seems to be oblivious that a massive black leather trench coat looks like they're about to shoot up the coffee shop. Suffice it to say, many people have a look. My only beef with this is when you say you dress the way you do because that's the way pagans should dress. Real pagans look like anybody and everybody. Yes, there is the group that dresses goth-lite, but there's also the group that can't buy regular clothes and must only buy from some extra green, extra organic, extra hempy goodness retailer because all the chain clothing stores have the blood of Asian children on their hands. There is no pagan look. And may I introduce you to Project Pagan Enough?
- The Broom Closet is a tricky place to be in. And, Old Pagan, while you might have had the most wonderful, liberating experience sitting down with your Christian parents and telling them all about how you love dancing naked under a full moon, it's not so easy for some. For some of us, we have several closets we live in, and we can only come out of one at a time for fear of our parents having a heart attack. For others, our paths are our own, and having our parents involved or know about them makes little difference, though it may not serve to better our relationship. So, I'm glad you either didn't care about your relationship with your parents, or you had a fabulous coming out experience, but why don't you leave us Young Pagans the hell alone about coming out. It's none of your business when it happens, and we like it just fine that way.
- Maybe my pet is my familiar, and you're just jealous because your cat isn't magical.
- Also, about spelling... I'm glad that you want us young whipper snappers to have good spelling when it comes to words like 'Christian' and 'Pantheon' and 'Religion', but how about you learn how to spell the word 'magic'? I get that some of you were taught by your precious booky-books that 'magic' isn't magic until it's spelled with a 'k' or a 'j' or both at the same time in a beastly display of orgiastic grammar fuckupery, but the word in the dictionary is spelled 'm-a-g-i-c'. This list could go on, but just know that you might want to practice what you preach.
- Looking at who is doing the blogging behind the two posts above, I notice nobody is over 30. (So I wonder about this note to 'young pagans'.) In fact, a few of them aren't over 25. The initial poster is 29. So, I am glad that they know all about Christians not being the enemy, but please don't act like that is something you've gotten with age and being in the craft and learning from your elders. I have seen dozens and dozens of Old Pagans espousing the evils of Christianity and perpetuating a culture of fear when it comes to What the Christians are Doing! Take a look around the pagan blogosphere. Some of the biggest and most read pagan blogs out there (some masquerading as "news" blogs) seem to focus on the evils of Christendom on a daily basis. It's there, and it's a lot older than us Young Pagans. But, no, Christians/Muslims/Sikhs/Atheists/Scientists/Anybody Else are not the enemy. Nobody is the enemy. You...no...WE are our own worst enemy when it comes to the growth of our culture and community. All our bickering and in-fighting is splintering what little bit of community we've managed to build up in the last 50-60 years. How about you take a look at that, Old Pagan?
- Stop asking to be called an Elder. Period. If someone wants to bestow you with the title of 'elder', then that means you are their elder. They are showing you a sign of respect. But, I do not have that relationship with you, and you telling me I should respect you because you are a 'Pagan Elder' or 'Community Elder' or whatever just makes me that less likely to do so. Being old doesn't make you an elder. At least, it doesn't make you mine. Having lived through all the Biblical plagues and the Great Depression and both Bushes doesn't make you my elder. Having every single book published by Llewellyn memorized along with the ability to quote Budapest and Starhawk and Gardner and Buckland verbatim from rote memory also doesn't make you my elder. In fact, being named Budapest, Starhawk, Gardner, or Buckland, or any of another dozen Big Pagan Names doesn't make you my elder.
There is no age at which you are no longer a 'Young Pagan'. Ok... 70. 80. Somewhere in that neighborhood. Maybe then I cannot seriously call you a 'young pagan'. Because, pagans are all ages, and they can start on their paths any time. I've had a number of folks email me over the years expressing gratitude for finding good research amongst the cacophony of terrible opinions/experiences (opinionsperiences as it were, Mnemosyne)-as-evidence. These folks had just started their path and were confused by the self-referencing, self-congratulating, self-conflicting nature of the current lot of Big Name Pagan Books. And, they're 30 or 56 or 64 or 16, and they're just starting on their pagan path.
A thirst for knowledge and Spirit doesn't have an age. It also has little requirements. Sure, you can dress your particular brand of crazy up with all the High Ceremony and accoutrements you want, but it doesn't make you closer to the Divine or more correct than anybody else. Just because you're old or you've read a lot of books or you know big words or you can have a discussion about Rosicrucianism and the Golden Dawn in context doesn't mean you know any more about what lies on the other side of the veil than anybody else.
I'm a fairly smart guy. I've got some degrees and I know big words and I can argue theology with the best of them - and have done so on a few occasions. I'll be turning 26 next month. That puts me being on my path going on about 12-13 years now. I've, technically, been a Pagan longer than the 29 year old who initially posted and a lot longer than the 22 year old who runs the Pagan News Blog. However, that doesn't mean I know any more about anything in paganism than they do. In fact, I probably know a lot less. I'm sure of it. I'm constantly baffled by how smart our community actually is. They know history and facts and dates and volumes upon volumes of mystical lore and folktales and herbalism and geology and geomancy and the list goes on. Our community is full of brilliance. Yet, we let our in-fighting and our exasperation of the Old/Young/Goth/Prep/Smart/Uninformed/Ambiguously Defined Pagan groups continue to keep us divided.
Next month is March, which means a revamping and reissuing of Project Pagan Enough. Before that happens, though, I'd like for us all to take a look at its tenets as currently worded. This finger pointing has to stop. Yes, I did some finger pointing above, but I did it to demonstrate that no group is free and clear of criticism. No group knows more or less about the divine or the Mysteries than anyone else.
It's time - Young and Old Pagans - woke up to that.
Love and Lyte,