I’ve got three things on my mind and while I have ample coffee I’m going to try to express my thoughts in a semi-orderly fashion.
The first is something that I find weird in Paganism, yet it’s not really exclusive to us. We have a whole wealth of wise folks that influence our community that are unknown to the greater Pagan community. They are priestesses, priests, teachers and elders that never publish essays or frequent forums. They touch our lives deeply and never appear on book covers or in newspapers.
I’m loud and opinionated but I’m no teacher. I’m not suited to that calling and so I serve my community as best I can: by talking incessantly about things that I find important. I am no good at teaching, training and nurturing people on a spiritual path, but because I “talk out loud” on Patheos some people have assumed I’m a teacher. Not so.
We have a strange dynamic in our community since, oh, the 1980’s. Sunfell calls it the third wave of Pagans, the “book Pagans”. We tend to place a lot of credence in authors, and perhaps less in our teachers. Paganism isn’t a static thing, we’re not a “people of the book” and our teachers are the foundation of our traditions.
Personally, I’m incredibly grateful to have living, dynamic teachers who are called to teach and excel at it. I try to keep my tradition our of my writing on Patheos because I’m not qualified to speak for it by any means, but I really appreciate my High Priestess and High Priest. Appreciate the living flesh-and-blood teachers in your life. They keep the hearth-fires burning according to season.
Thing number two bouncing around my noggin is our growth. I’ve had countless conversations where someone mentions that Pagan religions will never become major religions, or that the modern Pagan movement will never become mainstream and we wouldn’t want it to, either!
Um, there seem to be more of us. Have you noticed that? Lisa Simpson defended Wicca on The Simpsons. We’ve delivered the opening prayer at state legislatures and had an active US president mention us, albeit unfavorably. What will the new census reveal? What if we’re growing faster than we’d previously thought? What if we are becoming a major movement? What then?
The next thing on my mind is Pagans in hiding, not just from an outside world that will not understand them, but from other Pagans. I discovered recently that I had lived near a Pagan group for a year in a small town and never knew it. Recently learned there’s a private lending library in my town run by a group that prefers to stay on the down-low.
I don’t hide from other Pagans, and have actually made an effort to be more publicly Pagan short of sporting fairy wings and occult bling. I do try to avoid conflict where I can, although I won’t back down from an attack, and I try to generally be the sort of person that when people learn I’m Pagan it makes them rethink their stereotypes and prejudices. However, I do understand the desire to hide from other Pagans.
Let’s face it, as a tolerant and inclusive community we can attract a few nuts. It’s one of the reasons teachers screen students and groups screen initiates carefully. When I opened up my Facebook profile to be completely public after starting here at Patheos it was reluctantly and warily done. So I understand the impulse to hide.
However, if decent, honest, hard-working ordinary Pagans don’t go public then all the public sees are the nuts and crackpots. Harvey Milk said people’s views of gay people would change once they realized they knew a gay person. I say people’s views of Pagans will change once they realize they know a Pagan.
Now I’m off to do laundry and get another cup of coffee!