As of late I, and many others, have noticed a growing trend in the pagan community. While my experiences have mostly been online, reading the words of those who have spent much time offline has shown me that my experience is not a unique one, sadly.
The fact is that for some time, Pagans have been failing to live up to the message they preach. Perhaps this is a mark of it becoming a more mainstream religion, the vast majority of which tend to do the exact opposite of what they "preach." Pagans like to say that they are tolerant and accepting, and that Paganism is the same. And Paganism is supposed to be just that. Its basic premise is that there are many gods and spirits out there, and no one is more right or wrong than another. Sadly, perhaps due to the fact that so many pagans have come from a Christian background and a society built largely on Monotheistic principles, this falls apart in practice.
There's a growing trend that Paganism is synonymous with Liberal Politics. That somehow, one cannot be a pagan unless you follow the tenants found in said liberal politics. Protest this, and suddenly you aren't really a pagan, or you don't know what you're talking about.
But it's not just the political thing, which I've run into time and again. It's also about beliefs and practices. Suddenly it's cool to say that "pagans" aren't, well, "pagans." One of those hardest hit by this is the Wiccans. It's amazing the number of Pagans out there will insist that the Wiccans are not actually pagan, despite the fact that Wiccans, for all their faults (which are many) were among some of the first to bring back Pagan worship. We've all grown from that, be we eclectics, Heathens, Druids, or what have you. If the Wiccans and those associated with Wicca not gotten the ball rolling, well, who is to say that any of us would be here. We might have all become Satanists instead, unhappy with the God of Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed, but unsure of where to go but to his opposite number.
Speaking of the Satanists, they certainly get a share of beef from many a pagan out there, though not as much as the Wiccans, or even the Asatruar and other Heathens, who often not only have to contend with many a "Pagan" laughing at them for playing viking, but for insisting on hard core research, and worse of all, charging the Heathens with Racism. And then there were the Dianics not too long ago, who almost got their entire path ostracized simply because they didn't want transsexual women into their group, because it made them uncomfortable as "born" women to have a "woman" with a penis inside their sacred area.
Of course, we should not forget two very important groups, the young who come seeking a place in the world of Paganism, often looking Goth and Punk and what have you, and those who could be our Elders, our Famous people, like Crowley and Gardner and others were in the days of yore. I have read, and even experienced, that a number of Pagan love to smack down and dismiss those of the younger set, laughing off their knowledge and experiences, driving them off, telling them that they don't know, can't do, shouldn't try. And those who would be those who would gather fame, push the boundaries of what is possible with magical theory and practice and share it, are torn down. Because Pagan society, like the rest of modern society, has decided that heroes are to be destroyed, not made. So they drive away the young, and they drive away the strange, and they drive away those who could open a new era.
They are more interested in fitting in, being liked, and dreaming that society will embrace them if only they say the right things, vote the right way, and do what they are told. They have become more interested in fighting the wealthy and successful than in fighting spirits. They have grown more interested in controlling industry in the name of "mother earth" than they actually are listening to Her lessons. And they are more interested in making other Pagans conform to this than they are opening up their arms and their minds to the larger truths out there. So they lie to themselves, they lie to others, and more importantly, they harass and destroy the very people who are what we should be embracing and encouraging.
But I'm not going to do that. If you're a "fluffy bunny" kid who likes vampires and werewolves and think magic is the coolest thing every, I'm right there with you. If you're a wild, crazy hedge worker who gets down and dirty with the magic, I'm right there with you. If you're a wizard, sorcerer, warlock, witch, or anything else, I'm right there with you. Because we didn't start out being the nice, clean cut (or hippy cut) people wanting to fit in to society. We were the ones who rejected society, who looked into the darkness, the primal, and the arcane, wanting answers to the questions people couldn't answer, or wouldn't answer.
We were Newton, and Dee, and Faust, and Crowley, Gardner, Flammel, and a thousand others. We hanged men to Odin, slaughtered rams and bulls, made offerings of flesh and blood and tears. We were the first, before everyone else. We should be the last, after everyone else has gone away. We were the teeth in the darkness, the terror in the night. We walked with the gods in Europe, We walked with them in America. We made spells of blood and piss and earth and lightning and ourselves, the gods, the spirits, and the very foundations of the earth.
We shouldn't be following the wrote of someone else's ideals. We shouldn't be following their politics, or worse making their politics our religions. Do we need to be involved in politics, sure, but not with any particular party. And we shouldn't be putting politics first. We shouldn't even be putting our individual faiths first. We should do as we preach. We should be tolerant, even if individually we find those tolerances distasteful. If the Dianics want to be only "natural born women" we should support them, not demand they change the fundamentals of their beliefs to suit the politics of others. If the Goths and the Punk kids come to us, looking for help and guidance, we should bloody well give it too them. If people want to push the boundaries and act crazy, we should let them, because they will give back to us.
The mainstream is not where we want to be. We shouldn't try to be mainstream. If anything, we should live with such power and integrity, drawing people to our various ways, that we become the Mainstream and they try to be like us instead. There is not right or left in Paganism, or at least there shouldn't be. Nor should we cling to the light and forsake all that is dark, because we all got into paganism because it accepted that darkness, at least it did when we got in, before people started insisting it be sealed away, ignored, that it didn't exist, couldn't be real, or shouldn't be touched.
For most out there, my words aren't going to change anything. They will believe they are right. They will insist on either making others conform or driving them away. And they will succeed. But I know there are those of us out there, even if they never read my words, that will know what I am saying, take it to heart, and carry it out there. It's already happening, in the dark corners, in the hedges, the towers, and the dark woods.
So I will it to be.