Holier Than Thou Paganism

I often joke with my friends in ADF (a Druid group) that they are “fake Pagans.” I don’t mean it of course, but as a Wiccan I approach ritual differently than they do, and it’s fun to talk about how we perceive the strengths and weaknesses of the two ideologies. I do the same thing with some of my Feri friends. We might disagree on matters of ritual or theology, but we’d never seriously question each others Paganism.

I’m a big tent guy, and while I may not agree with atheist Pagans on matters of theology or on the rightness of worshipping Batgirl as a sacred totem, people can do whatever they want. I don’t see how those things threaten me in any way. I have my gods, I have my circles, I have my communities (both online and off), things are good in my life. It’s fun to take pompous windbags down every once in awhile, but I’d never question anyone’s Paganism. Sam Webster and I disagree on whether or not one can worship Jesus and still be a Pagan, but it’s not personal and I certainly would never question his Paganism or commitment to his gods in that debate.

I’ve always believed in an expansive definition of Paganism. The word (both with upper and lowercase “p’s”) has many meanings, and because of those many different meanings there are many different kinds of Pagans. There are some whose Paganism is defined by ritual, or a belief in the sacredness of nature. There are polytheist folks like myself who see their Paganism as defined by a belief in particular deities. You can be a monotheist and strictly worship the Great Goddess and be a Pagan. There are many options out there, and you may not agree with all of them, but I’d never question their Pagan-ness.

Sadly, there are some out there who do enjoy questioning the Pagan-ness of others, I ofte refer to this as Holier Than Thou Paganism. I came across a post on PaganSquare yesterday that just defined Holier Than Thou Paganism, and it just rankled me. I don’t keep up with all of the debates that feed the belly of the Pagan Blogosphere, but it’s safe to say that there has been an ongoing discussion between atheist Pagans and deity-centric Pagans, along with stuff about “pop culture” deities. There are a lot of moving parts to all of these debates and they led to Heathen blogger Galina Krasskova writing this:

Some of us are working as hard as possible to restore our traditions and some of us are working only to make themselves feel good. So let me get this out of the way from the start: My polytheism, which informs every aspect of my life, is not people-centric. It is not focused on making human beings feel better about themselves, or about fitting into a nice social group. It is not an excuse for intellectual masturbation, nor do I practice it for my own gratification. It is not always comfortable, and is quite often inconvenient. My polytheism, as I believe devotional polytheism by its very nature should be, is very, very Deity centric. I honor and serve the Gods because it is the right and proper thing to do as an intelligent, responsible adult. While my practice is in part about building community, that community is one centered in devotion to the Holy Powers. That is the only community in which I am interested. I would go so far as to say Paganism that isn’t Deity centric isn’t Pagan (emphasis Mankey) . It might be fun. It might be a intellectually entertaining. It might be a nice, accepting social gathering. It’s not, however anything approaching polytheistic spirituality.

I don’t know Ms. Krasskova, and I have no personal animosity towards her, but I completely disagree with the statement that “Paganism that isn’t Deity centric isn’t Pagan.” I call such pronouncements Gate-Keeper Paganism. Pagan Gatekeepers are people who seek to limit the definition of Paganism and push out those that disagree with them. Do I think deity worship is an important part of Paganism? Sure I do, but it’s not the only thing that might define someone as Pagan. Some have even suggested that Gerald Gardner (the first person to start a long lasting Modern Pagan Tradition) was not particularly religious or interested in the gods. If Gardner’s focus was more on ritual, how can anyone make the argument that Paganism is defined only by a belief in the gods?

I have no problem with people attempting to define limitations in their own traditions, I just don’t think those limitations can (or even should) be applied to Pagandom as a whole. If someone does “Pagan things” they are probably a Pagan. I don’t believe in a Pagan litmus test, we should all be able to worship and celebrate as we see fit. I certainly sympathize with Ms. Krasskova, I also love the gods, but my faith is strong enough that I can share my circle with pantheist Pagans and even atheist Pagans. I don’t think it’s my place to ask for your “Pagan card” at the start of ritual.

Gatekeepers aren’t the only Holier Than Thou Pagans running around, they’ve got friends. In any online discussion with lots of comments you’ll inevitably find a post or two from a Woe is Me Pagan Martyr. Hilariously there are usually martyrs on both sides of every issue. “Every time I talk about being a polytheist I get attacked!” is usually only a comment or two away from “because I don’t literally believe in the gods no one respects my beliefs!” Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean you are being “attacked” and the majority of us respect nearly everyone. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of belief within Paganism there will be someone out there who at least thinks similarly to you. Remember, it’s almost never personal, and if you are going to post stuff online, believe me, you have to have a thick skin (or learn to just ignore all comments and criticism).

I can understand feeling isolated or picked on from time to time, it does happen, and it’s easy to misunderstand tone when reading something online. The Holier Than Thou group I tend to understand the least are the Holders of the Ancient Secrets. Holders love to talk about their “secret” Pagan knowledge and how wrong you personally are, all without ever sharing any of their secret information. If it’s a secret why are you even talking about it? It’s fine to believe that your Paganism comes from the Ancient Etruscans, but if you can’t prove that it does you probably shouldn’t be arguing it.

Often walking hand in hand with the Holders of the Ancient Secrets are the More Serious Than Thou Pagans. I get it, you take your Paganism very seriously, so do I, but why do you have to demean others while doing so? Not everyone is going to end up a High Priestess or a High Priest, and that should be totally fine. If someone wants to simply work with Silver Ravenwolf books their entire life what’s the problem? I’m guessing that that the folks you are more serious than aren’t in your circle, coven, or tradition anyways. Some people just need a bit of spirituality to get by in this world and aren’t worried about unearthing every Craft mystery in existence.

I don’t think of my Holier Than Thou Pagan Brethren as trolls or other such nonsense. While I may not be a fan of their sweeping pronouncements, secrecy, or woe is me attitude, they are generally coming from an honest place. I understand wanting your Paganism to be everyone’s Paganism. People feel that way because the path they are walking on really works for them. The thing we all have to remember is that we are all walking on our own paths, and they are all different. No journey is ever quite the same, and we should respect the different highways that divide us and, on our good days, sometimes bring us closer together.

The Rede of the Wicca
Maybe I Don’t Need a Temple
How the Claim of Being Old Saved Modern Paganism
When Wicca is Not Wicca
About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • blackenedphoenix

    I understand what you are saying but doesn’t things like this just give the Holier Than Thou people negative attention? I’ve learned that the best way to diffuse the “I’m more pagan than you jerks” is to completely ignore them. They are bullies and bullies love attention.

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      I’ve been bullied.

      In my experience, “ignore them and they’ll go away” just gives them freer reign to be as terrible as they feel like. Standing up for oneself asserts one’s own agency in the situation, and bullies want nothing more than to feel powerful by depriving another of personal agency.

      Now, I don’t think that’s what Jason is responding to, but in general, I find your idea to be inherently flawed. I base this belief on the empiricism of my own experiences.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I was bullied at school. Ignoring them made them do it more and reporting them was ineffective (‘children will be children’ and various forms of victim blaming). I found a direct approach (kicking the bastard down a flight of stairs) to be most effective.

        • Bianca Bradley

          Very true.

    • Bianca Bradley

      Stop diluting what bullying is, with what amounts to people disagreeing with you.

      Mind you, we are all capable of being bullies, and probably have been at one time or another.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I actually think that the biggest problem with ‘Paganism-as-an-umbrella’ is that it is too big, now.

    Effectively it is, nowadays, a term that refers to any religious practice that doesn’t have its own niche/label.

    A label is something that is used to describe something that is different to other things. What makes Paganism not Christian, for example? Or not Hindu?

    I am not really calling for a hard definition at this point (but I do think it is something to work towards, in the future), but I do feel that, at times, there are people who describe themselves as Pagan who have more in common with non-Pagan systems than they do with what I believe (I am a belief defined Pagan, must be said).

    I couldn’t say whether this makes them or me the Pagan, but something does seem odd about trying to fit the entire world into a single pigeon-hole.

    • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

      Simultaneously too big an umbrella, and yet still perhaps without enough people under it to form a sustainable movement. I think that’s why we’ve entered such an intense period of identity definition. We’re going to need some lines to achieve cohesion, both under the Pagan umbrella and within smaller traditions — but it would be nice if we could draw lines without so much open hostility. Often drawing those lines splits family and friends, so perhaps there is no way to do it painlessly. “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.”

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I like the idea of embracing difference. Different is not bad, after all.

        The whole thing about polytheism is the ability to accept that someone else’s god exists, but is not for you. Similarly, it is not hard to accept that a person holds a different philosophical outlook to oneself.

        The only problem will come when campaigning on ideological points to be respected by wider society when you may not respect those points, yourself. (Be it the three-fold law or the duty of a Heathen to carry a sword at all times.)

      • thelettuceman

        I think we need to dispense with the idea of Paganism as an inclusive umbrella and look at it more as a non-religious terminology of an alliance of similar faiths. That’s where a lot of this comes from, where non-Theists and Theists argue and tell whatever view of Paganism they think is right, while immediately (and intentionally or unintentionally) step on the other’s toes.

        I don’t feel that Paganism is so small that the godless and the godly can’t coexist under the same term. It’s only up to us to make sure that we don’t force anyone out just because we don’t like what they have to say.

        • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          I think we need to dispense with the idea of Paganism as an inclusive
          umbrella and look at it more as a non-religious terminology of an
          alliance of similar faiths.

          As much as I like the academic definition of “pagan” (cos it actually means something), this is the point I’ve come to. Calling the “pagan” movement an inherently religious one is as intellectually dishonest as advocating the flat Earth hypothesis, at this point —there’s a tonne of evidence that says it isn’t so, and it’d only be my own stubbornness that’d keep me insisting on otherwise.

          On the other hand, trying to define “pagan” or what “the pagan movement” is, AT ALL, to some people will be met with hostility, no matter how wide the net is set. I’d suggest that it’s cos a majority of pagans on the Internet are Americans, and many Americans would rather burn their genitals off with carbolic acid than even let it look like some-one else is telling them what to do, especially if it’s for the long-term good of a collective. Now, Brits and Europeans don’t like being told what to do, either, but in my experiences, Brits and Euros are more willing to negotiate a compromise for the greater good.

          • thelettuceman

            I agree, entirely.

            I use the modern definition of Pagan with a Capital P out of convenience, and I identify with it more than any other label. I use the academic version (“pagan”) when I’m dealing with historic, pre-Christian European religions.

            The problem that I’ve run into, which has been mentioned in other blogs, is that the people who are including their definition of “Pagan” are including non-religious practices, psychological processes and terminology, etc. under a religious terminology. I’ve never approached non-European indigenous religions as “Pagan” in any contemporary sense, especially if they’re still in existence today in some form.

            I’ll reiterate that I definitely think that if we try to pull apart the forced theology from Paganism and make it, decidedly, a coalition of faiths we’ll see a lot less arguments in the future as each person focuses on their own religion. To that end, I’ll accept Pagan to mean both theistic deity worship and non-theistic archetypal worship, as they are both interpretations of divinity, which a bit more expansive than Galina’s definition. So long as they treat my beliefs with respect, of course.

            I definitely agree with you about ornery Americans, especially given the anonymity of the Internet making their willingness to cooperate even less than normal. But I also see a significant desire to fracture over ideology, ego, and practice a lot more. One of the lamentable gifts of Protestantism, I feel.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

            Religious studies has largely dispensed with the use of the term “pagan” (with a small p) because it’s considered imprecise, appropriative, and politically problematic (in that it’s a formerly derogatory label that has been applied to indigenous peoples without concern as to what they call themselves). Current uses of the term “Pagan” in academic writing tend to use the capital letter and focus on modern European-derived traditions. (Michael York is a significant holdout in continuing to use the word “pagan” to include indigenous traditions and contemporary Paganism under one umbrella, but I can’t think of any other major scholar who is doing so.) Scholars writing about ancient religions today are more likely to be specific, i.e. they will write about “classical Roman religion” or “ancient Celtic religion” rather than trying to use “pagan” as if the two religions could be assumed to have significant characteristics in common.

            More info about the academic use of the term “Pagan” with bibliography here: http://aarweb.org/Meetings/Annual_Meeting/Program_Units/PUCS/Website/main.asp?PUNum=AARPU139

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Current uses of the term “Pagan” in academic writing tend to use the capital letter and focus on modern European-derived traditions.

            That’s been my understanding.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            “Scholars writing about ancient religions today are more likely to be
            specific, i.e. they will write about “classical Roman religion” or
            “ancient Celtic religion” rather than trying to use “pagan” as if the
            two religions could be assumed to have significant characteristics in
            Funny that…

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I see what you did there.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            It was just too obvious not to. :D

          • Peg Aloi

            Not that I am a “major scholar” (though I have published a number of essays and book chapters on contemporary pagan studies contexts), but for what it’s worth I still use the small “P” in my academic writing; I think using a capital “P” implies paganism is some kind of specific belief system of tradition, whereas I think it is more of a descriptive term. If I want to refer to neo-pagans, I call them neo-pagans. I also realize that term is rapidly going out of vogue too…

          • JasonMankey

            I love you, but I just can’t wrap my head around not using the uppercase P when referring to Modern Paganism. Speaking of Modern Paganism, it’s either Modern or Contemporary Paganism . . . I hate the term “Neo-Paganism.” We are now seventy years or so into this great experiment, we have third generation Pagan families . . . it’s not necessarily “neo” anymore.

            Despite how depressing my blog is getting, I still think there are some threads that tie the majority of people who use the term Pagan together.

          • Peg Aloi

            I love you too. :) I see your point about the use of neo-paganism, but I don’t think it was initially meant to be a way to refer to a contemporary spiritual path, but a revival. And remember, it was in use decades before Oberon Zell (or whoever it was) co-opted it in the 1960s. And it is still a revival of a specific phenomenon, so I think it is still accurate. I mean, we still call the Pre-raphaelites, the Pre-Raphaelites. BTW I am okay with using the terms contemporary paganism or modern paganism too, and even like Professor Hutton’s term, modern pagan witchcraft. :)

            Why do you think your blog is depressing?

          • JasonMankey

            I’ve been surprised by the sheer amount of Pagans who believe that we all share so very little in common. I go to a lot of Pagan Festivals and events, never once have I met a self-identified Pagan that I couldn’t find a thread of commonality with. People are acting as if most of us are all speaking different languages. It saddens me greatly because it doesn’t represent the Pagan Community I’ve come to know these past twenty years.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I’ve been surprised by the sheer amount of Pagans who believe that we all share so very little in common.

            And I don’t see how we have much in common, at all. I’ve encountered Eclectic Wiccans and Neodruids who are very surprised that traditional / historical-based polytheists typically practise some form of devotional rit every day, and have huge, scattered, often myth-based festival calendars specific to ancient cities, rather than predictable, seasonal festival calendars. And don’t get me started on how the “crone” of Eclectic Wicca is so not the Hekate of Hellenic practise —if it doesn’t already exist, I might just do a point-by-point deconstruction on how these are two entirely different goddesses.

            People are acting as if most of us are all speaking different languages.

            I’d argue that the way different religious groups use certain words, to the point that many people link the origin of this whole last month of pagan blogosphere in-fighting to how different groups use the word “hero” as evidence that the religious languages are different, and irreconcilably so, in many cases.

          • Bianca Bradley

            double dog dare you on the crone:p Then again, that’s just cause I’d enjoy reading it.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I can probably find commonality with all kinds of people, regardless of religious, musical or social persuasion. But that is community, not spirituality.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Isaac Bonewits, not Oberon Rell-Ravenheart, attempted to re-define “neopagan” in the 1970s/80s, (he was 17 in 1967, as per his “I Was a Teenage Satanist” essay), and the term itself has been in use since the mid-19th Century, initially as a criticism of Hellenophile romantic poet and intellectual circles.

            Zell’s contribution to the lexicon has been “polyamoury”, but its recorded use is disputable.

          • JasonMankey

            Obviously you’ve never asked Oberon about the issue because he most certainly claims to be the first person to use the term “Neo-Pagan.” Peg is completely accurate when writing “Oberson Zell (or whoever it was).”

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I also claim to be the first person to say “fabulous” is its own gender, and even if some-one can prove me indisputably wrong, I might continue saying it. Doesn’t mean I’m right. If one’s ego is big enough, one may believe that one can get away with saying all sorts of wacky things.

          • JasonMankey

            Peg’s comment was accurate and yet here you are still trying to somehow characterize it as false. I don’t understand that.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            You clearly have a completely different idea of what “…Oberon Zell (or whoever it was)…” means, and what the degree of its accuracy is, than I do.

            I personally don’t understand the desire to characterise Ms Aloi’s comment as accurate. People are mistaken about things they say all the time. Not everything said, in print or out loud, is necessarily speaking to experiences, and even if one is speaking to one’s own experiences, that doesn’t mean one’s understanding of the experience, including any background information that may refute a literalist understanding, is necessarily accurate —indeed, human history and human nature certainly give plenty of evidence to the contrary. To wit, Zell may very well claim to have been the first person to use the term “neo-pagan”, but the historical record, including accounts that ostensibly pre-date his birth (of course, he may very well be Dracula, I suppose), render his claim false –thus the reality of the situation is that it is true that he claims this to be true, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

            Now, I could rules lawyer the language used and point out how exactly Ms Aloi’s phrasing, itself, neither implies accuracy nor inaccuracy, but this seems rather obvious to me. Furthermore, while it’s certainly likely that, with Church of All Worlds founded in 1962, that Zell’s self-application of “neo-pagan” may pre-date Bonewits’ re-definition, my initial statement re: Zell and the term “neo-pagan”, was specifically speaking to its re-definition, which seemed far more relevant, given the nature of how the conversation was drifting (re: neopaganism as a movement [as suggested by Ms Aloi] rather than anything necessarily “new” [as suggested by yourself], thus Bonewits’ formalised redefinitions from the 1970s, not necessarily Zell’s self-application in the 1960s).

            Regardless of that relevance, there are also shreds of evidence that “neo-pagan” was drifting from a literary critique to self-application as early as the 1920s, possiblt the 1910s (at least a good two decades prior Zell’s birth, barring that minuscule possibility that he’s Dracula, of course) and this builds into more conclusive evidence into the 1950s, so the notion that Zell first self-applied it (if there was to be an engagement of such a thought exercise) are kind of dubious in their factuality. If Zell is, indeed, putting out the notion that this was a “first” of his, well, I can’t fault him for thinking that much of himself, but the facts that can e backed up with evidence certainly speak to the contrary.

          • PegAloi

            Wow, you like to write words, don’t you? I stand by what I said, wishy washy though it may have seemed. I have heard Oberon personally claim to have been the first person on record as having applied this term to the modern pagan witchcraft community…the “whoever it was” comment refers to the fact that others have claimed this, too. But Oberon/Otter is on record in many places. He also claims to have invented the Gaia Hypothesis before Lovelock, but he originally called it the Terra Hypothesis…

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            That’s nice.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            That’s nice.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

            –Of course, a month after writing this, Chas Clifton is championing York’s broader definition of “paganism” on his blog (which is different from the one Clifton used in _Her Hidden Children_: http://blog.chasclifton.com/?p=5825 ).

            Just goes to show that academic definitions are moving targets.

      • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        We’re going to need some lines to achieve cohesion, both under the Pagan
        umbrella and within smaller traditions — but it would be nice if we
        could draw lines without so much open hostility.

        What’s wrong with the academic definition of “pagan”? Aside from the fact that a lot of self-identified pagans are openly hostile toward academia.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Never quite understood why there is such a sense of hostility towards academia.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            If I were to speculate, I’d suggest that maybe it’s an extension of the general air of anti-authoritarian attitudes present. Those who are actively hostile toward academia simply don’t like the idea that someone else may have actually earned any sort of authority, especially if they read a book or website that told them everyone is their own authority.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Fair. I think that would connect it to a general rejection of organisation of religion (something I feel vital for the survival of a religion in the modern day) that is prevalent in the wider Pagan community/ies.

            It is almost as though, for many, embracing Paganism is more about rebellion than spirituality. Which just doesn’t sit right with me. (I left Christianity due to a disagreement with their pantheon, not their organisational structures.)

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            It is almost as though, for many, embracing Paganism is more about rebellion than spirituality. Which just doesn’t sit right with me. (I left Christianity due to a disagreement with their pantheon, not their organisational structures.)

            That’s pretty much the reason I left Christianity, as well: It didn’t work for me, spiritually, and their theologies didn’t match up with my experiences. If anything, I kind of appreciated the ostentation and gaudy aesthetics of Catholicism (a lot of which is mirrored in Orthodox churches, at least as per my experience), but their Triune Monotheism+ (their concept of Sainthood is somewhat a mix of Hellenic hero cult and the Agathos Daimon as per certain philosophical school/s, as in it’s generally expected that saints will act as intermediary spirits between Man and God) was pretty far out of line with reality as I was learning it. Yeah, the religious nature my abusive father took certainly didn’t help matters, but I knew well enough to understand that his example wasn’t the only way to be Catholic. The organisational structure of Catholicism is interesting, clearly it’s not the only organisational structure that can work —and even the structure of Catholicism has been adjusted and altered many times over the centuries.

            Now, i don’t think “paganism” as a whole can be organised –there are just too many individual religions that the best to be hoped for is, well, the big pagan interfaith conferences that already exist, like Pantheacon. That said, some of the individual religions within might benefit from organisation, like the “recon” religions, even if it ends up that there are several sects of each. And really, the pope does not speak for all Catholics — and Pope Francis doesn’t even JUST speak for the things the Vatican organisation structure want him to say, as evidenced by many of the headlines he’s made over the last few months. Organisation itself cannot impede individual thought or practise, it just reflects the fact that things have gotten big enough to need a representative body. I know the Quakers pride themselves on rejecting the classic hierarchal organisations of other Christian sects, but they’re still an organised-enough group.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            We seem to be very much in agreement.

            I think that more people should think of Pagan interfaith rather than Pagan intrafaith.

        • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

          Speaking as someone who is active in academic religious studies and specifically in contemporary Pagan studies, there is no one academic definition of “pagan.” Pagan studies has been increasingly centering on a definition of contemporary Paganism that focuses on European-derived, nature-oriented, polytheistic and/or animistic and/or pan(en)theistic, place-based traditions that use the term “Pagan” as a self-descriptor. Older usages of “pagan” to refer generally to non-monotheistic traditions have been discarded as appropriative and politically problematic. (Note Michael York is a significant holdout here, but his insistence on grouping indigenous religions together with contemporary Paganism is one of the main issues on which his work has been criticized, so his definition is far from widely accepted.)

          Read more here (click through for bibliography): http://aarweb.org/Meetings/Annual_Meeting/Program_Units/PUCS/Website/main.asp?PUNum=AARPU139

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Fair enough, but at the same time, especially considering everything you said here, I have still noticed a major hostility in the greater pagan community toward both academia, and the slightest hint that some religions under that umbrella may actually have definition.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

            Of course, a month after writing this, Chas Clifton is championing York’s broader definition of “paganism” on his blog (which is different from the one Clifton used in _Her Hidden Children_: http://blog.chasclifton.com/?p=5825 ).

            Just goes to show that academic definitions are moving targets.

      • Peg Aloi

        Well said, Christine.

        I guess based on my post a few days ago, I am not a pagan as far as Ms. Krasskova is concerned?


        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Technically, you believe in the gods. We can argue nature as long as we want, but there is a belief there.

          Also, would it be bad if you were not Pagan?

          I don’t really get the attachment to the label, myself.

          • Peg Aloi

            I’m not attached to any label. Nor do I capitalize pagan…or witch, for that matter. Other people can try and define me based on what little they know, but if they really want to waste their time that way, it seems unproductive. BTW, Ms. Krasskova got very, very hostile and rude yesterday in an exchange on Facebook and accused me of, among other things, being “part of this whole debate” for the last month, when my blog post on this subject only appeared a few days ago, in response to a Patheos-wide invitation to bloggers, to discuss our personal beliefs in our blogs. She also accused me of “coming into polytheistic space” to somehow advance my evil agenda…or something. I mean, excuse me, but I had thought Facebook provided a forum that was not in any way defined by anyone’s spiritual beliefs. She also referred to my words and beliefs as “non-theistic horse shit.”

            Ms. Krasskova clearly sees this discussion as some kind of war zone, and is clearly very defensive about it (referring several times from what I have seen to those who hold the opposing view as “enemies”), and I don’t really think any progress can be made when people are so vehement about being spiritually superior to others. The notion that someone’s devotion to the gods makes them superior to someone who defines their spirituality differently (in non-theistic horse shit terms, for example) smacks to me of the sort of delusional attitude many evangelical and Pentecostal Christians have, wherein Jesus “speaks” to them directly. When we (pagans and earth-based seekers) observe this kind of behavior within the Christian sphere, we tend to think it is silly, if not dangerous. So, there’s that.

            In general, I respect other peoples’ beliefs and believe in having civil discourse, but when my own are spat upon in a public theatre, don’t expect me to hold back from expressing some observations and comparisons.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I didn’t suggest you were attached to a label. I meant that more as a general concept.

            The reason I capitalised Pagan is because I use it to differentiate between contemporary Paganism and historical paganism.

            Seems like Ms Krasskova is a rather unpleasant individual.

            My question was a genuine one, though. If the term ‘Pagan’ were to become exclusive, referring only to devotees of European pre-Christian gods (for an example), would that be a bad thing?

          • Peg Aloi

            Yes, thanks for the distinction re: pagan vs. Pagan, many do use that distinction. I see your point, and I think there was a time when the umbrella term that was most widely used was neo-pagan (or neopagan), small ‘n’, and that seemed to apply equally to all paths that were emerging in the heyday of the post-occult-revival and in the wake of Wicca that migrated from England. But that term didn’t seem to sit well with many people which is, I think, why the term ‘pagan; became the more accepted and widely-used term. But now that norm is being challenged because of the very odd trend among neo-pagans to try and rigidly define the beliefs and practices of themselves and others in, I believe, an attempt to paint themselves as, in Jason’s words, holier-then-thou.

            Would it be a bad thing? No. But even that distinction would, I am sure, be met with more hand-wringing and vitriol from all the haters.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            You can’t please all the people all the time. So we try to please some of the people some of the time.

            From a personal point of view, I find the term entirely meaningless for internal conversations, but I find that terms are most useful for those outside looking in.

            Say you are Christian to someone and they will understand, basically, what your faith is. Same for Jew, Buddhist, Hindu. (A lot of misconceptions, perhaps, but basic understanding.)

            Say Pagan and there will be confusion. It is precisely for non Pagans that I feel there is a need to have a clear definition to hand.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Seems rather catty to be bringing up facebook debates that others can’t access in order to cast dispersion on her.

            I’m also gonna call you out on the, OH so I’m not a Pagan comment. Which is frankly passive aggresive. Why in the Gods name does it bother you so overly much if Ms Krasskova doesn’t think you are a Pagan? Why the hell are you giving her that much power over your self identified religion?

            Does it really effect your life that much if Krasskova doesn’t think your Pagan? WHy? WHy? and furthermore WHY?

          • Peg Aloi

            No, it does not affect my life in the slightest. And she has no power over me. But I do resent her accusations, which were spurious, and her behavior, which was rude and hateful.

          • Peg Aloi

            Also, I think you mean “cast aspersion.” And I saved the conversation if anyone wants to see it. It was deleted.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I did mean aspersion, thank you. I did use spell check, but apparently clicked the wrong one.

            As for saving the conversation, I’m of two minds. One I’m an incredibly nosey person, but… It may not be my beeswax depending on where the convo is. We all have stupid moments on the internet.

          • Peg Aloi

            Yes, we do! But being aware that Facebook is a public forum means that, like it or not, those stupid moments are made public. Unless you edit them. Or, in this case, they get deleted.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I had the same thoughts about this. It really didn’t feel necessary to bring it up, at all, except to snipe.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

            Facebook is the least sacred, most public space I can think of.

          • Peg Aloi

            I completely agree.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Which is what is so good about it. It is the fast food of internet connectivity.

    • tigresslilly

      The whole question of who is or is not pagan and what makes someone pagan is a very difficult one for me.

      On one side I like Project pagan enough where we just accept people’s labels and our inability to control the label. I like definitions that have bullet points pints where some may apply to each practice which calls itself pagan. I am also fond of the allergic pagan’s “Three or more Centers of Paganism”

      I can often read or see thoughts expressed on the pagan blogsphere and real world that I don’t agree with in the slightest and sometimes are offensive to my own personal faith but which I can see an overarching paganness. Just because it’s not cogent to my practice doesn’t mean I can’t see how their practice doesn’t fall into something I’d classify as pagan in the larger context.

      At the same time, it’s hard to have a real conversation with a “pagan” group when those pagans looking nothing like your own pagan beliefs. I feel uncomfortable and angry sometimes reading what some people from within the movement claim as pagan and it’s hard to claim we are from related groups and not to just lash out at what feels like an attack or a claim on something so personal to me that has been rendered unrecognizable.

      I feel like there has to be a middle ground or medium in these two inclinations I have, but I haven’t figured out how to settle it entirely. For now I try not to jump to any particular immediate offense when reading and try to be reasonable and articulate in responses. I try to think first on what rules of hospitality may be in play as well as the over all respect I should be showing and has been shown me.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        At the risk of being flamed, I think that one of the obstacles in clear definitions of traditions is the eclectic tendency of many. – taking a bit of one thing, adding a dash of another… I am not saying it is not valid, merely that it muddies the waters when trying to cleanly categorise.

        If we were to try and divide the pagan umbrella into its constituent parts, would it be better to start from an outside in approach, or an inside out one?

        I think that, regardless how it is done, doing it would be valuable and would likely enrich the whole. It could facilitate greater Pagan interfaith (I will not call it intrafaith,when these faiths are clearly very different), which could, in turn allow for greater numbers to be open to Pagan systems. (Which can only be a good thing.)

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      Very well-said. That said, the etymology of “pagan” –from the origin of “paganus” as roughly equivalent to the modern “ignorant hillbilly”, to its use in the 19th and early 20th Centuries as a sort of backhanded and sometimes playful jab at those who engaged in a variety of different activities and interests from ancient poetry to skinny-dipping– it’s impossible to align the word with any one group of religions based on ancient and modern etymology, and the widest-net nature of the tern in common use today makes it doubly hard.

      Academic jargon has a very specific definition of “pagan”, and considering Galina’s academic background (in ancient religions) has most likely informed her use of the word, I find her exclusive definition clearly understandable. This is also the most concrete definition of “pagan”, but its exclusive nature clearly upsets many people who may feel personally attached to their own personal opinions on what the definition of “pagan” should be. On the other hand, I’ve proposed a “wide net” definition, one that certainly has more potential for inclusiveness than any previously proposed “big tent” definition, but apparently the fact that I propose a definition at all upsets some people.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        “it’s impossible to align the word with any one group of religions based
        on ancient and modern etymology, and the widest-net nature of the tern
        in common use today makes it doubly hard.”
        Well, that’s gay. (See what I did there?)

        You make some interesting points in your linked post. One thing of particular interest in the calving of Heathenry from the Pagan umbrella (as well as subsequent efforts of distinction). Imagine if, in time, all the distinct paths did this. It would be a pretty simple thing for Wicca to take the stance that it was not actually Pagan.

        I feel the term ‘Pagan’ still has value for the eclectic types who take a bit of something from various sources to create a path of personal value, but I think that, perhaps, those in established paths might find it better to be distinct from other paths (yet maintain bonds that allows for the continued working together for social betterment of minority faith.)

        • Henry Buchy

          ” It would be a pretty simple thing for Wicca to take the stance that it was not actually Pagan.”

          It already has,in thought though not quite in deed. Back in he day there was a simple definition of (neo)paganisms-practice of pre-christian religion. Wicca(Gardneran derived religious witchcraft) was considered pre-christian religion. More modern scholarship has pretty much dismissed that consideration. Wicca becomes a ‘modern’ religion. The simple definition begins to grow ‘fuzz’.

          “I feel the term ‘Pagan’ still has value for the eclectic types who take a bit of something from various sources to create a path of personal value, but I think that, perhaps, those in established paths might find it better to be distinct from other paths (yet maintain bonds that allows for the continued working together for social betterment of minority faith.) ”
          I’d say one value of the term is due to it being self defined. Keeping it that way is political and social rather than religious as it were. It helps to grow a movement.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’d rather keep my religion and my politics separate.

            Both are informed by my philosophies, but the moment I start combining the two, trouble happens.

          • thelettuceman

            Well said.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Back in he day there was a simple definition of (neo)paganisms-practice of pre-christian religion.

            No, that definition is still in wide use, mainly by academics and those informed by academics. Galina Krasskova has an academic background, and practically all recons who personally use the word “pagan” use it in a manner informed by academic jargon.

            I’d say one value of the term is due to it being self defined. Keeping it that way is political and social rather than religious as it were. It helps to grow a movement.

            Why does the movement necessarily have to grow with “membership” rather than be strengthened by allies? As someone who is himself of the GBLT community, and who has taken part in GBLT activism at various times, I can assure you, there *is* a minority of heterosexual people who have decided that the inconcrete definitions of “queer” mean they’re “queer, too”. Someties this is understandable. On the other hand, most people include “Allies” in the language for GBLT rallies and such to not only clearly include heterosexual people who wish to stand in solidarity, but to avoid the debates about who gets to be “queer”.

            Like with “pagan”, it’s really hard to concretely define “queer”, even in its current “reclaimed” status, cos it’s origin is such a broad definition. This is where “queer” and “pagan” are similar. On the other hand, in socio-political circles that define themselves as “queer”, it’s easy to discern the implications of “queer”. This is where “queer” and “pagan” clearly diverge.

            There is nothing wrong with the idea that not everyone gets to be “pagan”.

          • Henry Buchy

            “Why does the movement necessarily have to grow with “membership” rather than be strengthened by allies?”
            heh, don’t ask me, ask the ones which are growing it.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Cute side-step, but you’re the one who said:

            I’d say one value of the term is due to it being self defined. Keeping it that way is political and social rather than religious as it were. It helps to grow a movement.

            Again, to draw a comparison to the GBLT movement, this is one that is largely social and political, and is strengthened by its allies (in fact, many small, usually uni campus-based groups add an “A” to the acronym for “Allies” –which I fundamentally detest doing, because the social and political gains are NOT for the “allies”). That said, the GBLT community itself is defined by one of sexuality and gender-based minorities –ostensibly heterosexual and cisgender allies are not a part of those minority groups, but they ally themselves politically and socially.

            Many people calling themselves “pagan”, especially on the Internet, do not fit many established, positive-definitions of what a “pagan” is; at most, a lot of these people simply default to the negative-definition of what a pagan is not. That doesn’t really read to me as one who is a part of the pagan religious movement, but an ally of it. In some ostensibly “pagan” spaces on the Internet, the only prerequisite to being “pagan” is the willingness to call oneself “pagan” if, apparently, Muslims can call themselves “pagan”.

            So, again, I ask: Why does this movement necessarily have to grow with “membership” rather than with allies?

          • Henry Buchy

            “Cute side-step, but you’re the one who said:…”
            it was an observation that’s all. So again, you’ll have to ask those who are growing the movement.

  • Joseph Bloch

    I quite agree; I call these people The Excluders, and wrote about the phenomenon myself not so long ago (http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/the-excluders.html); that post was also, in part, a response to Galina’s position that she (or anyone) has a right to say who is and is not Pagan. There are, of course, others who similarly feel entitled, or even required, to make such pronouncements.

    Ultimately, I think it comes down to an innate insecurity. Any deviation from what one practices or believes is seen as an implicit criticism of those beliefs and practices. By defining people out of relevance they can then say to themselves, “Well, his criticism doesn’t count, because he’s not *really* a Pagan.”

    • Bianca Bradley

      She is a clergy person. She is a theologian. She has that right. The thing is, so do I, you and others.

  • Pamela SurrenderDorothy McAfee
  • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

    If Gardner’s focus was more on ritual, how can anyone make the argument that Paganism is defined only by a belief in the gods?

    I don’t see how that’s really relevant. Not only is Gardner’s influence on Heathenry and other “Northern” polytheist traditions minimal, at best, that’s not exactly what Galina argued. Her argument was that paganism without deities was arguably not pagan. Other characteristics are certainly included in her ideal of paganism, so it’s clearly not a case of defining paganism “only” by a belief in the gods. That would be like saying cats are only defined by pointed ears, when in fact not all critters with pointed ears are cats, nor do all cats even have pointed ears.

    Other than that, while you generally make some good points, it does seem very clear that you meant it when you noted early on that you haven’t really been paying close attention this the latest round. The latest comments on PSVL’s post here are pretty well made, and are certainly from people who’ve paid more attention to this than even I have. It has gotten pretty personal, and there are other just grievances that he mentions.

    Like I said, you make some decent points as a very general thing, but in reference to the latest blogosphere issue, it’s a major oversimplification.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Not being Wiccan myself, I can only look at the Gardner thing as an outsider.

      That said, I always felt that what Gardner created was a form of ceremonial magic, rather than a religion. It was only due to the heavy influence of Valiente that Wicca shifted to a more religious model. (Personally, from my reading, I thought it was better without her influence.)

      As such, it would be pretty easy to claim that what Gardner created can be labelled as ‘not Pagan’.

  • Heather

    Great article. I’ve been a practicing Pagan for over 20 years. For 15 of those, I was Asatru. After an intense religious experience I’m basically a Henotheistic Goddess worshipper. I still love all the god/desses I have ever worked with and feel them as friends along my path. Hardcore polytheism was great but it does leave a bad taste in my mouth with the rampant Holier than Thou and dismissiveness often shown other Pagan faiths. I am still very much in touch with the concept of landspirits and honoring ancestors that is prevalent in many of those traditions but am glad to have gotten out of so much ”harrumphing”…especially considering many were probably much more fluid and less restrictive than the modern worshippers allow (ie some worshipping Jesus and Thor or just one deity or many from many cultures etc etc). I also think we get so inwardly focused in our communities that we forget when we go outside of them into mainstream religions, we are pretty much very different with our often pluralistic and deity or ancestor or nature centered practices. Pagan works for me as a big tent term with clarifiers within the tent. It does get tiring to have it hacked away into little bits of groups who don’t want to work together to achieve common goals or respect one another’s paths that have more in common than not generally. But, I don’t see the debate ending as many Christians still think Catholics don’t count (or Mormons) I guess we’ll be having the same issue as long as we feel the need to amplify and not embrace differences.

  • thelettuceman

    You’re also completely missing the context of the statement she’s made that in, other than alluding to some comment that there has been an “ongoing discussion” between atheist and theist Pagans. It hasn’t been a debate. It’s been an all out mudslinging shit-fest free for all. And basically, the entirety of the argument was defined by the perspective that Polytheist Pagans are innately ignorant and that they’re allowed to believe whatever frivolities they wish, save that they need to recognize that their gods are figments of their imagination.

    And the fact that, yes, people were saying she should be attacked. It’s not nearly as clean a debate as you’d like to portray. Or that others were using incendiary terminology that is designed for intellectual ostracization and emotional distaste.

    People are arguing about who is being a better Pagan. And this is the crazy part: There is no theological Paganism. There never has been. It’s a modern, artificial construct – at least with a capital P. You cannot name me one innately “Pagan” ritual, one practice, that exists that isn’t Wiccan or Reconstructionist in nature. It doesn’t exist.

    But we’re arguing about how to be the “best Pagan”. With no measure of orthodoxy or guidelines to do it. Paganism has been so diluted with this bullshit inclusiveness that we’re not allowed to make definable rules because That Would Be What The Christians Do, or some such. It’s now a ‘Make it Up As You Go’ religion. I don’t blame Reconstructionist groups for wanting to dispense with that kind of hostility and leave the Pagan sphere. But I do lament it.

  • Echo Moon

    i started looking into ?? an alternative religion while in my teens, i’m now close to 59. back when i started there wasn’t much in the way of anything for pagan reading. and what i could find then, frankly scared the poop out of me!!!!

    now, i will always be thankful for my daughter and the internet for reintroducing me to the idea that there was more out there than just the various main stream religions.

    one of the most beautiful and comfortable things that i have found about paganism is the open acceptance of all paths. no one had to be this type of pagan or that type of pagan. no one had to believe this way or that. that there was no one right way of believing, practicing or worshiping. no one had to have the “same” god or goddess. to me that was the most freeing of feelings.

    i’m glad that paganism has become an “accepted and recognized” religion, along with the laws that says that we have the right to worship and practice legally. but sometimes??? i have to wonder?

    i don’t name or worship any one god, goddess or path. yet i believe. i think when it get to the point that you are saying that if you don’t worship a certain way or a certain named god/dess that you are bordering on being no better than any follower of a mainstream religion that tries to control or dictate your life and your spirituality.

    if that happens? where will we, the solitary eclectic pagans be left to go next? to the outside edges of the far fringes again.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      What I have been saying is that many of the established ‘Pagan’ traditions/systems/religions have other names that can be used. If they were to shed the ‘Pagan’ label, it would leave the term to be used by the solitary eclectics.

      As far as I am concerned, as soon as a word requires more than a simple sentence to be understood, then the word needs looking at (or the concept it labels does.)

    • Bianca Bradley

      Open acceptance of all paths? Really? How many British Traditional Wiccans accept non BTW Wiccans as Wiccans? How about Asatru accepting the path of the Rokkrtru? Kemetics accepting Egyptian Wicca? Asatru accepting Norse Wicca from DJ Conway? Or the Satanists having to argue whether they are Pagan or not?

      That’s ignoring the homosexuality and it’s place in Paganism, especially when you use the duality of Wicca and aren’t flexible. The argument of Cultural appropriation and who does it or doesn’t.

      There is a lot of arguing back and forth, that has been going on for years. We are not as accepting as you would have us be. I would argue, why the heck should we be that accepting?

      • Taffy Dugan

        I run a Pagan kids’ circle. So far, the families are Druid, BTW, Eclectic Wicca, Asatru, and Dianic, along with those who have studied multiple paths. We all come together an enjoy learning from each other while we expose our children play and experience different ways to do rituals. It’s been loads of fun and very educational.

        There are as many paths as there as people, We each have our own reality. Once you realize that your reality is not the same as others and nor should it be, it becomes very easy to be accepting of each other.

        • Bianca Bradley

          You are mistaking civility for acceptance. Just because people get along at a function that is supposed to be more open doesn’t mean that the Asatru will be so accommodating in their rituals to the Dianics nor should they.

          For instance I will tolerate the Neo Nazi’s in Asatru, I sure as heck do not accept them. There is a world of difference.

          The Pagan kids circle, is a completely different feel, then the individualized rituals and worship of each of those paths you mentioned. If you made them accept and accommodate and cater to the whims of people who aren’t in their regular worship, you water down the richness of their rituals. It becomes bland.

          I think you are also making a large assumption that Polytheists, or other Pagans who don’t want or need “acceptance” somehow don’t understand that their spiritual reality is not the only spiritual reality. That is an insult. It also sounds fairly preachy.

          Acceptance is earned. I give people tolerance, but acceptance is an earned badge. I will give respect where it is due, and will start off on respect. Your actions and words will either make that stronger or negate that.

          It is not a very healthy attitude to start off with “acceptance”. You don’t know who you are accepting and how nutty they might be, and what form of nuttyness that may take.

          There is nothing wrong, with bringing your critical thinking skills to play. It keeps you safer and saner. and it helps when you have to weight the various stuff you encounter and keeps you from being gullible.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            You have far more patience than I do — I absolutely will not tolerate Golden Dawn members (Greece’s “Nazi Party”) and other such folks in my rituals. I feel that they are lower than scum and overall toxic to the ritual space I need.

          • Bianca Bradley

            See, unless I make it a very public ritual, stuff like that is a private invite and it that goes back to trust, acceptance and stuff.

          • Taffy Dugan

            I do think we have different definitions of acceptance. To me
            acceptance to to receive favorably. It does not mean to assimilate

            We take turns running the circle. It’s fun and interesting for the kids to experience different ways to do rituals. But, yes, the rituals are “watered down”. You can’t expect little kids to last through full rituals. Many of us have had religion shoved down our throats and don’t want to make the same mistake with our kids. We try to make the actual rituals pretty short as the age range is so far from 1 to 8 years old. We normally do a song, and activity, and a craft along with the ritual – something I suspect my adult circles would probably have fun with, too ;-)

            While there has been some blending of traditions overtime (so the kids have some consistency), we’ve done pretty well keeping somethings compartmentalized (looking for better word). Each family still does their own full length rituals with their own families/ groups / covens. Our circle is not meant to replace that.

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      If you’re solitary eclectic, why do you care about where to go? I thought the whole point of choosing a solitary eclectic path was so one wouldn’t be constrained by the rules and formalities of other religions, and in lacking the obligations to any formalised religion, the SE, by default, may freely go to any open ritual.

      Granted, the catch is twofold: 1) not all rituals are open, and the SE pagans are expected to respect that, and 2) some open rituals have rules, and the SE is expected to respect that, as well. On your own time, in your own space, you can do as you like, but part of being tolerant of all paths of respecting the fact that not all paths are going to form by an individual’s steps, some paths may be carefully laid out over years, even centuries, by a group of people who took the time to do so, and thus may have clear boundaries marked.

  • Sabrina M Bowen

    I love this article! I have had this conversation a great many times over the past few years. I own a Pagan/Witch based Facebook Page, Youtube Channel & Pintrest Act. that I work with a friend of mine. I am an Eclectic Pagan. My Head Admin is an Atheist Pagan. We’ve both been called out from time to time due to others feeling we are “not Pagan” or “not Pagan enough.” And we’ve often had to defend others or their beliefs because of people who want to have a set label as to what it means to be Pagan.

    When it comes time to “define” Pagan, I do my best to avoid the “Non-Abrahamic” definition and instead lean towards defining “A Pagan” as anyone who fits in to one of 4 groups – 1. Those who’s beliefs are Nature Based. 2. Those who beliefs are based on Ancient or “Old” Cultures or Cultural belief systems. 3. Those who’s beliefs are connected to Native or Cultural belief systems which are still in existence – although these people tend not to use the term Pagan. and 4. Those who combine two or all of the previous three categories (eclectics).

    MANY have disagreed with me over this. But I feel if we can not find tolerance and acceptance outside of the Pagan Community, we will NEVER find it from the world at large!

  • http://endlesserring.wordpress.com/ Treeshrew

    Well said! I think a live and let live attitude is generally the best policy as long as nobody’s being directly harmed by someone else’s beliefs or actions. The way I see it I don’t like other people pushing their religious opinions onto me, so I don’t push mine onto them.

  • Taliesin Govannon

    What really annoys me is one particular variety of “Holier than thou” Pagan… the “more serious than thou” type.

    More specifically, they can be seen in the “But of COURSE I’m NON-Wiccan, because MY variety of Witchcraft/Paganism/Something With Obvious 20th Century Roots But I’ll Claim It To Be Far Older Than 20th Century-type practice is so much more SERIOUS than MERE Wicca blah blah blah blah I’m so bloody important” type internet Pagan.

    They write off Wicca as being unimportant while ignoring that the founder of their path either CAME from Wicca or stole all of their best bits from Gardnerian Witchcraft. They write off Wicca as being “modern” while not being able to trace the origin of their path back as far as the Alexandrians, let alone the Gardnerians (which can be reliably traced back to the 1920′s thanks to Phil Heselton). Most importantly, they seem unable to say anything nice about their own path without taking a swipe at Wicca in the same breath.

    What’s hilarious is how so many of the “Proud to not be a Wiccan” types sound just like Wiccan blowgards did in the 1960′s, making claims to antiquity that can’t be backed up, claims to secrecy that are laughable, and claims to superiority that make regular occultists giggle (tip: if you have to assert your superiority every five minutes, it probably doesn’t exist). Wiccans had to grow up and evolve past these tendencies (well, most of us, anyway). Maybe if the “Anti-Wiccans” stop fellating themselves so much THEY can evolve someday as well.

  • AmourTrance

    Just caught this post while at work and the first thought I have is, if you are not a hard polytheist you just are not going to understand. The overwhelming majority of information/image coming out of the modern Pagan community is monotheist, essentially the Abrahamic god in drag, and people dressing up in silly outfits. Neither of which has anything to do with the gods of the pre-Christian polytheistic religions.