(Or, Who Made You the Pagan Police?)
This is part 1 of a response of a recent blog, in which the author rails against the commercialism of the craft, claiming that it is the only thing paganism focuses on, that too many are making their profits from their craft (more on that in part 2).
This is a bit of a response, and expands on what the blogger writes about, some of which I agree with. A lot of which, I wholeheartedly condemn. It’s disappointing, because for many pagans including myself the principles of atheopaganism align with their own path, and the differences may be the addition of more focus on magick, or the gods, or spellwork, the list goes on.
A Little Good, a Lot I Challenge.
I fully support and agree with the overconsumption problem that the author notes in paganism. Overconsumption, on the whole, is a value that feels at odds with my own paganism, and I recently wrote about ways to reduce consumption and keep your practice within 100 miles of your home. My issue here is that portraying this as exclusively within paganism is degrading to fellow pagans, and implies we in particular are suckers, with a lack of personal sovereignty and critical thinking. That’s not the experience I’ve had within witchcraft/paganism.
I would challenge my readers, that if you are seeing, “I see it focusing most of its attention and energy on commerce.”, that you, dear witches, are the ones who change what you see. In my experience, the communities that I encounter are vibrant, diverse, and thriving. Those who stifle this diversity in practices and diversity of what is available in a particular area, are only stifling themselves. If you’re noticing this focus on commerce, ask yourself:
- What are you creating to counter that? A blog may be a start but it’s not sufficient in my opinion.
- Why are you sticking around a community that is harmful to your own craft? How will you change it?
Has a healthy dose of skepticism early in the pagan subculture become so extreme that it’s created a backlash we will now deal with for years to come? It’s possible. In some ways it contributes to this concept that when money changes hands the transaction has become dirtied. That’s not been my experience when I’ve paid for a workshop or a book any more than it is when I’ve paid for food.
We have become so distrusting of money that those who decide that they would write, or teach, are railed against by small pockets for deciding to teach their path of witchcraft. We again stifle ourselves, and the diversity of a vibrant community. Without teachers who have made their living through teaching the craft, we would not have the ability to share so freely as we do now. Thank the gods for such teachers who paved a path for us to live much more publicly than we ever did. Unfortunately, those small groups are ever louder thanks to the internet. Remember these naysayers don’t represent the majority.
The blogger offers great suggestions on ways to bring the natural world into your craft (for example, using locally found sticks for wands), and offers a reasonable critique of limiting the number of items we might purchase (I say this while noting my ridiculous incense and tarot stack). That’s where my good things to say end.
And Now, For My Rant.
My real issue with this is that it’s just another gatekeeper rant. So when I first saw this blog I moved along, eyerolling at yet another gatekeeper railing at the young whippersnapper witches who dare practice in a way that challenges their well cemented practice. Witch please.
You don’t need another book on how to use tarot? Oh good, you’ve been practicing with tarot for twenty years. That new witch walking next to you is just learning, and needs that book.
Don’t need another ritual tool? How nice for you that you found the spiritual tool that you would ally your energy with for your entire life on the first go-round. That’s not always the case. Plus sometimes people want multiple versions. For those who facilitate public rituals or classes it’s quite common to have multiple sets (personal, and public use, for example). Relax.
The blogger continues on about magick rocks and the destructive industry. Well, you may not believe in an animistic paganism practice but many do. I’ll agree with the blogger on the destructive nature of the rock/crystal industry and implore any reading this to read Cyndi’s blog about why it’s problematic. But quit your gatekeeping and let people discern for themselves how they wish to work with the energy of stone spirits.
He also whines about witchy clothing and symbols on chains. We’ll just move along here because ritual is different for everyone, glamour magick is valid, and this is just the tired old gatekeeping argument that keeps cropping up. Moving on.
One rant I really chuckled at was, “The world is full of sticks; why on Earth would I want a Harry-Potter-style wand?” – because Harry Potter is fantastic, and for most witches that grew up with it, it was an introduction to the possibility of magick and a connection to childhood wonder. Good gods.
He does say that you don’t need stuff to live the pagan path fully. I would counter that with, which path? Yours? The stuff people incorporate into their religion is literally none of your business. Witchcraft as a practice is going to give you more diversity than most spiritual paths and how one chooses to practice doesn’t impact your path at all.
“You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” (the incredible Maya Angelou)
Make no mistakes, these blogs won’t stop. When we are threatening to others in our path, they will attempt to degrade it, in an effort to make themselves better than thou. So still, like dust, RISE witches.
And in closing, practice how you want. There will always be those authoritarian types who think they can tell you how to practice. Our path, above all, is a subculture, and inherently rebels against the norm. So remember when these types begin to gatekeep it is because they are threatened by your own rebellion. Do your witchcraft as big, or small, as you wish. Because it is YOURS.
You are sovereign in your path. You decide what you put your energy into. You decide what you put the energy of your work that creates your earnings into, spend how you want, live a life that fulfills you and not a ranting blogger unwilling to consider that spiritualities grow and change.
Follow Lisa Jade @modernwitchcraftmusings on Instagram and Facebook.