We have a High Horse problem emerging in Modern Paganism. Or at least, it is bubbling to the surface and becoming more noticeable thanks to the magical powers of the internet. When I mean High Horse problem, I’m talking about forms of elitism. Such a tricky and controversial topic, but it really needs to be addressed given the current circumstances emerging throughout the United States as well as other parts of the world. I want to take an approach of addressing the issue itself, without swaying one way or another. I’ll talk about situations that I have seen or experienced myself, about how I have ridden on the high horse too, and suggestions on how we can hope to bring our horses into the stable to rest.
My Own Experiences
Approaching 30 in a few short years, I have been yearning into a calling of either priestess-ship or ministry roles. Seeking out available resources in my area, I came across a group (coven) that wasn’t too far away and was accepting new members. Eagerly, I reached out, explaining my education and my experiences so far in my path as well as what I hope to accomplish. And….Shots fired. Conversations drifted into discussions and then into harsh debate on how this certain way was the only true way of this path, that all others were false, and that you need to completely give up on everything you have learned so far to accept what WE are going to teach you….. Um.. I’m sorry, What?! Mind you, they are within their rights to think that way and how am I to say that they are wrong in thinking so, but it just struck a massive nerve with me. Especially since I have studied different forms of religions and have SEEN and LEARNED what that kind of attitude can do to a community. I do not want to be exclusive to what other parts of world have to say.
Another experience I have seen but did not happen to me directly, is the way many (though not all) Pagans, Wiccans, and witches act towards up and coming ‘fluffy bunnies/baby witches’. As I mentioned in my previous post, “My Thoughts on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch”, we are coming into another ‘witch’ revolution. Get ready for lots of questions, advice, and curiosity being thrown at you from all sides from these witchies that are wanting to perform spells or feel like they have spirits following them. Instead of turning away and letting them summon something they shouldn’t, take the time to lead them into their local library. Because I guarantee that they have no idea that a book on ‘Introduction to Paganism’ exists in their hometown library.
Be a friend to them, tell them your stories, and show kindness.
The Time I Was On a High Horse Without Realizing It
Chest-deep in Wicca around age 20, I was with a mentally abusive partner at the time who wanted nothing more than to have me as a ‘witchy woman’ teacher. Using me to upset his own Christian family, he only wanted me for the information I could teach him, but when I became low on knowledge myself, I became lesser. When we finally broke it off, I felt used and dirty when it came to my path. So when I met my now husband, and HE told me he read and studied witchcraft, Wicca, and Satanism, I felt my toes curl and wanted to turn my nose away. ‘He doesn’t know anything,’ I reverberated in my own mind, ‘He obviously is just into it because I am, and he hasn’t done all the things I have done, or studied as hard as I have.’
Well, I was right about the part that he hasn’t done all the things I’ve done or studied what I studied…. But I let my own insecurities and my own feeling of elitism cloud an opportunity for growth and education. We both sat down and just talked; exchanging information, experiences, and thoughts. I told him what I knew, and he explained what he learned; thus we met in the middle. I helped clear up some misinformation he read, and he helped me jump down from the mountain I placed myself upon as the ‘All-knowing Wiccan Witch.’ I am always learning something from him still.
Suggestions to Help the High Horse Problem
I’ve listed some ways in these paragraphs that hopefully ring a bell for some, but here are some more suggestions so we can bring this horse into the stable.
1. Be open to POSITIVE change and growth- Woah . . .. Pagans and Witches not open to change?! Surely not! We are big supporters for change and growth? Right?….Right….? If you feel as though the change and growth is negative, talk about it in a civil manner. Give your reasons on why it upsets you, but don’t act like an asshole about it.
2. Take a Religious Studies course (optional: a free online class or one in college/university)- Tieing into the first one, this is to help those who are still unsure about their path or don’t really know the culture/history of the religious around the world. It opens your eyes to how others practice their faith and why they do the things they do.
3. Experiences and Opinions differ- Options are often the result of experience, and experience is different for everyone! Remember that you might not see the figure in the trees, but that doesn’t mean someone else didn’t. And that’s okay! Don’t be the freed prisoner in Plato’s cave and be open to the new experiences you see.
4. Not all research/books are good- Form your own options on this, but also listen to what others have to say on a particular author or subject.
5. There is always something new to learn-“The Fool doth think he is wise, But the Wise Man knows himself a fool,”-William Shakespeare.