There's this article on Witch Vox that's been bugging me all week. Seeing as how it's only Tuesday, that's not saying much, but the bugging it's done in 3 days is remarkable. It's called "Easter is Pagan" and is written by Taliesin McKnight. I hit up WitchVox.com on Sunday to see what the new crop of articles looked like and skimmed through them until I got to this one. And... Like I said. It's upsetting. (Or, possibly, it's not as upsetting as I think it is, and I just ate some bad mayonnaise.)
For readers of this blog or listeners of my podcast you know I have a thing for citing your sources, for producing a quality written product. And, just as often as I have waxed incensed about the lack of sources cited, I have received emails telling me that we as pagans use experience and instinct as our sources of information. We feel something is the truth, so we run with it. Over my tenure as Chief Rioter and High Mugwump here at the Riot, I have come to learn that that is not always a bad thing. How do we know some spells work? How do we know the Divine is hearing our prayers? How do we know spirits are present? There's no source to cite there. There is no fact that I can call up from the depths of Wikipedia or a book on my shelf. I just have to know, because my witchy gut is telling me that it is so.
In that, you all have been incredible - and patient - teachers.
However, where there can be no compromise is in the distribution of information, of what one would otherwise refer to as facts of the matter. The matter here is history, more specifically it is the history of Easter. And, sadly, there are nearly no accurate facts of the matter available in this article. Some examples include 'the holiday Easter is named after the goddess Easter' and 'the winter solstice takes place on December 25.' Nearly every paragraph has wild, hyperbolic claims that not only exhibit poor writing structure (one wonders what, exactly, the point of the article is by the end) but have no citations, no references. If this were a graded paper, one would have to give a grade of 'F' and ask whether they'd like to admit to plagiarism or if perhaps there was a book or website where the ideas were gleaned.
From 'Abraham is secretly a pagan Easter egg finder' to 'modern Christianity is a successful preservation of ancient pagan practices', I beg to the heavens where are the sources?! He goes on to purport that Easter's date is lunar-based due to the early Christians' love for and embracing of astrology. Let's completely ignore the fact that, at one time, people measured units of time by the moon instead of the sun. Ever heard of a fortnight? This was more a throwback to our days as farmers and people that lived off the land than some mystical secret that early Christians were flipping to the back of their scrolls to find out what the universe had in store for Aries today. Even if he'd done a Wikipedia search for everything he wrote about, he'd have found better information.
Witch Vox is a hub for all types of articles, and many people searching through the internet for information on paganism end up there. And this is what they find. Poorly written, poorly structured, meandering "articles" that mix complete hogwash with partial facts and confuse issues for the unknowing.
But... What do we do about this? I get that, because of my academic background, I am stricter when it comes to this kind of thing. My standard is set higher than most, and I accept that. However, I refuse to believe that this is the kind of writing we accept in our community. I refuse to believe that we are sheeple. It's fun to hear about the secret pagan origins of topic X, but the fun times had by all in discussing this type of history doesn't negate the need for the truth. Personally speaking, when lambasting another religion in order to favor your own, one must tread even more carefully in regards to facts.
I have been heartened in the last couple of years to see more prominence given to pagan writers worth their blessing salts. Despite the horrendous nature of the controversy, even the transgender debacle at Pantheacon (2 years running) has resulted in a call for education by our community. We need to educate our community members, both young and old. That is the message I've been hearing.
Let's start here. Let's start by not accepting these types of articles. Let's start by calling bullshit, and saying that we want better for our community. We deserve better than half-cocked, half-formed ideas that are a mixture of make believe and misappropriated facts.
We are a brilliant community, and we deserve better than this. We are better than this.
What do you think? Am I upset over bad mayonnaise, or is there something truly wrong here?
Love and Lyte,