Spooky in the South: Annoying Things You Have to Deal With as a Pagan

Spooky in the South: Annoying Things You Have to Deal With as a Pagan June 3, 2018

The Constant Questioning Once You Reveal Your Faith

If you were raised or lived in a conservative Christian area as an open Pagan, the questions never seem to stop once you reveal your faith. People will usually find out about my faith if they ask me to join them for a church service or religious group at my campus. When they ask me join, I have to then find a way to politely decline, and this inevitably leads to more questions.

Image by darksouls1 via pxhere. CC/Public Domain.

When you explain to them what “Paganism” is, you can expect to be immediately hit with the, “Since you do not believe in God, does that meant you worship Satan?” question. Honestly, after hearing this question enough times over the years it gets to the point where someone ask you this question and you just want to stab your ears so that you do not have to listen to the stupidity anymore. Even when you keep your composure and try to educate them and show them that you do not worship ‘Satan’, so many people just do not seem to get the point. And if you are also a witch and you mention that to them, oh goodness you might as well just have sacrificed an animal in front of them by the level of shock on their face!

You would think in this day and age, with all the knowledge that is available at our fingertips, people would educate themselves more on ideas, beliefs, and cultures around the world. A simple google search can educate even the most ignorant of people if they were only willing to step out of their bubble and study a belief other than their own. Learning about beliefs and values different from one’s own can be an enlightening experience. I am a very friendly and sociable person who loves to educate others about my faith, but even the nicest person can become annoyed by ignorant questions. It is good to educate people by answering common questions about Paganism, but everyone has their limits about what they can handle.

Pro Tip: Before you ask a question next time, ask yourself, “Is this a thoughtful question that requires an answer, or is this something simple I can look up online?”, because I can promise you that we Pagans have most likely heard that question before, and if it is about devil-worshipping, witchcraft being evil, or if we sacrifice babies/animals, you might just make us want to slap you instead.

Image by darksouls1 via Pxhere. CC0/Public Domain.

The Assumption That You Are Doing It For Attention

This type of comment usually comes from those who think that every young person who chooses a different path than the norm must be doing it for attention. They assume that I am simply going with trends blindly to fit in with a group. I of course will shut down such ignorant comments when I tell them that I actually spent years studying world religions before I found one that suited me and considered myself a Pagan.

There is also this assumption that as a Pagan I must be a ‘dirty hippie’ living in the woods running around half-naked and rarely bathes or a weird Gothic person who always wears black and is obsessed with death. Yet, I am a young Southern woman studying public health at a university in a big city, I work in an office, and I have a strong Southern accent from being raised in a small Alabama town. To people that do not know me, I seem like stereotypical sweet southern woman.

“Paul Being Pushy in Athens” by Raphael. From WikiMedia.

The Constant Need by Christians to Proselytize You

If you live in the Bible Belt, this is something you have probably encountered as an out and open Pagan; Bible-thumpers will take any opportunity to tell you that your religious choices are wrong and that their deity is the ‘one-true God’. These kinds of comments irritate me the most, because people do not seem to understand that people can come from all walks of life and adhere to all different religious beliefs and still get along.

“Well, have you read the Bible?”, is usually the comment I will hear from older Christians who are determined to change my mind, after which I will have to explain to them that yes, I have read the Bible cover-to-cover because I was raised in a Southern Baptist family. I also tell them that I have studied the Bible, other religious texts and the history of different religions, and studying Christianity and other religions is actually what caused me to convert to a faith which fit me better and was something that I truly believed in (Paganism).

Even sometimes from my older relatives, they will somehow bring up the topic of religion and proceed to say things like “Well, you know, there is only one God and One Savior”, or “You have to accept Jesus to get into Heaven”; usually at this point I will just make a snide comment back to them such as “Well can you prove to me that you God exists? Can he come down and show me that he is real?” You cannot always be expected to educate everyone in your life, and you are not required to always be the bigger person in such situations.

The Elitist Attitudes Among Pagans

As if the things we have to deal with from non-Pagans are not annoying enough, often we have to deal with Pagans in our community who think they know it all and will make it a point to tell you how to do your craft. They think they are experts and if you are doing things differently then you are doing it wrong. They will be sure to tell you of all the skills they possess and brag about their spiritual gifts, even though you are pretty sure they are exaggerating or just blatantly lying, and anything you have achieved is never as good as what they have done. “Oh, you can sense when people are upset? That’s nice, well I feel people’s emotions as if they are my own, and I can tell what they are thinking.”

“Hylas and the Nymphs” by John William Waterhouse. From WikiMedia.

The Belief That All Pagans/Witches/Heathens are Satanists

As mentioned in the first section, there seems to be this prevalent idea that worshipping multiple deities and/or practicing witchcraft means that you worship Satan. Because of fear, hatred, and ignorance spread over centuries towards anyone who did not believe in the Christian mythology, a majority of Christians still believe that Pagans, polytheists, witches, or any non-Christians, are agents of Satan and are being tricked into devil-worship.

I have heard multiple times that my deities are really just Satan in disguise to trick me into turning away from Christ. Even if I tell them that Paganism has nothing to do with the Christian Devil and that I simply worship the deities of nature, they will insist that I will be pulled into a darker, evil side because Satan is a ‘master of disguise’. At this point in the conversation I usually roll my eyes and walk away. Nobody has time for ignorance.

Please let me know of any annoying encounters you have had based on your religion (funny or otherwise). We have all had to deal with ignorant people, sometimes laughing about it is the only way we can keep from losing our minds!

About Sarah Franklin
Sarah Franklin is an undergraduate studying Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She runs a religious organization at UAB called Path of the Ancient Ones, which provides religious education and guidance to those seeking it. She has spoken on Interfaith panels in Birmingham and works to build bridges between religious communities. You can read more about the author here.
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