I am seeing some very disturbing trends in pagan writings, communities and the like that seems to be spreading like an epidemic. Some of it isn’t new. However, there are some really disturbing trends I want to address.
Lately, there has been loads of butthurt, overly sensitive, politically correct, anti-Christian, anti-intellectual hubbaloo of the most absurd pagan ghetto thinking and laziness that I have ever seen. Whenever a debate on any subject happens, inevitably, someone decides that disagreeing with their viewpoint, even if there is nothing even remotely resembling an ad hominem attack, it somehow equals “bullying” or “hate speech”.
I have been reassured by others that it isn’t just within pagan communities, but throughout the world in general.
1) Expecting that all knowledge, books, artistic expression since it is on the Internet should be FREE. for the taking. Whenever an author releases a new book or musical album, there are those that will want to get it for nothing. Getting this knowledge, according to these folks, is a right. Initiations, Degrees, and the milestones that indicate to the Community as a whole that you have achieved a certain level of knowledge and mastery is all just superfluous nonsense. I blame Raymond Bucklnand’s Complete Book of Witchcraft that was put out over 30 years ago that is lovingly or not so lovingly referred to as Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book O’ Wicca. This book claims that after reading it, you will know just as much as any Third Degree Initiate into Wicca.
Gaining knowledge is not just perusing it in a book or online or in a Facebook group or on Usenet or something you can get like an online gamer racks up points. Most of this kind of ‘knowledge’ is only gotten through hands on, heart in, mind on and DIRECT experience. There are no shortcuts. No herbs to smoke, drink or ingest in order to get you there quicker. It doesn’t come easier if you are living in a legal cannabis state or drop peyote with your friends on a weekend and yowl unintelligibly at the full moon out in the desert on a “vision quest”. The skies will not open up with extraterrestrials, nor will the Star in the East rise, complete with wise men, foretelling the rest of us of your imminent arrival. You get to lump your own luggage and do the actual work. I am truly sorry if that bursts a few bubbles out there.
2) Professing to love Mother Earth so very much and then engaging in very bad, consumerist behaviors. Seriously. I am sick to death of hearing and reading everyone recommend “saging” or “smudging” away negative energies. I used to work for one of the world’s largest natural foods co-operatives that supplies bulk herbs to just about every health food store and natural food store in the US and Canada. There were years when because of drought and/or wildfires there was just no white sage to be had. For a period of time, sales of this herb were suspended in the interests of being good stewards and ensuring the survival of the plants in the wild and as cultivars. It got so bad that some Indigenous Nations were begging us to sell to them so that they could do ceremonies with what they needed. We had a bit on hand that had been set aside, and we were able to help them. The situation involving sage has corrected itself over time, but the opposite reaction is also going through the Pagan community and we have people claiming the plant is currently endangered. Trust me. It isn’t.
Similar circumstances arose with Frankincense (Bosewelia carteri) because of overharvestation and crops of these precious trees have been damaged in regional conflicts. The same was true of yellow sandalwood when the government of India, which technically owns all of the sandalwood forests in the country, suspended the sale of everything except sandalwood essential oil. Poaching during that time was rife. We found similar sandalwood in Australia that helped in other formulas calling for the yellow species and it worked out well. The ban has since been at least partially lifted, but we still have to be mindful of the resource. Right now, however, the price of yellow sandalwood, regardless of form, has skyrocketed.
The point of this is that Pagans / Wiccans et al need to stop thinking so much about their own selfish, self-involved bullshit and think about the Earth that they claim to care about. There seems to be a real dichotomy with regard to what is good for the planet with increasing environmental challenges and the people who act out selfishly. There are substitutions for any herb you care to name. It’s time to pay attention and walk the talk or get out.
3. Racism – I have become aware of more racism within both the Pagan and Kemetic communities. For whatever reason, there are those that insist that it is ok to discriminate against someone on the basis of skin color, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual preference etc. One Big Name Pagan or BNP who shall remain nameless because they have a large, if not sychophantic following, recently posted some of the most racist vitriol I have ever seen within Paganism. It was nauseating enough that I suspect that they lost at least a fair number of followers because of it. At least they lost a good number of people who actually take them seriously. I can only say that I was never impressed with this particular individual’s arrogance in the past. Their latest and decidedly bigoted posting just underscored that what my gut had been telling me all along.
I don’t give a damn who you are, or what your tradition is. Engaging in bigotry is flat out bullshit. Racism, sexism, elitism, or any other ism you care to name is not how it’s done. Rule number one where I come from is. “Don’t be a dick.” If you’re a racist or a bigot….well, draw your own conclusions on that. I won’t tolerate it in my groups and I sure as hell won’t sit quietly by when it’s said or posted in my presence. We have one planet, one chance, one shot to get it right. It’s time to celebrate the beauty of our diversity and appreciate and respect it without devolving into something that none of us wants.