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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

On Being Not

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C1325529963/E20060106192219

On Being Not

The perils of using what we aren't to define what we are

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about Pagan identity.

Part of it is the ongoing debate I've been having with juliaki about the validity of self-initiation. But part of it has been what I have seen going on with American Pagans.

There is this big push for a unified "Pagan community." For the life of me, I have no idea what that means. Part of it is obviously political, an attempt to deliver a (unquestioning?) voting block to the correct candidates. Apparently all Pagans are supposed to have common values. But do we really?

There are quite a few people call themselves Pagan who I want nothing to do with. Obviously the predator types, but sometimes the fluffy types drive me nuts too.

Well, we aren't Christian, we aren't Jewish, and we aren't Muslim. That much we can agree on.

Except some of us in the "Pagan community" are Jewish and Christian, it just happens to be different from the mainstream. I assume that there might be Muslims in there somewhere, but I have never met a Muslim who didn't denounce the use of magick.

Okay, we all use magick. That much we can agree on. That is the thing that unifies us.

Except we don't. Magick may transcend religions (and that is another point very much in dispute), but not all Pagans use magick. You can go through the rites of faith without using the rituals of magick.

But we all honor the Earth, right? Earth-centered, that is us.

How much? I'm all for nurturing the Earth, but I don't think that the global warming theory has been proven. What's more, I'm not all that far removed from farmer stock, and my ideas of living with nature are likely very different from someone who is a third generation city type. A coyote is a fun animal to watch, but not when it starts eating the chickens. Rabbits are cute and fluffy, but they can destroy a garden.

I'm not sure that Pagans have an identity other than what we are not. At least not AS Pagans.

Back before Christianity was the dominant faith in the Western World, there wasn't a concept such as "pagan." You either worshiped the gods or you did not. The choice of whether to worship, how much to worship, and which gods to worship was entirely up to you. Of course, you got to deal with the consequences if you fell out of favor with the gods, but that was a given.

So maybe Pagan isn't a very good word for us.

Maybe we shouldn't be looking for a noun.

We are.

Maybe that is enough.

Posted: Fri - January 6, 2006 at 07:22 PM

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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