Are We Too Judgmental?

Are We Too Judgmental? January 15, 2020

Hello, friends. I have some thoughts on the Latest Hubbub within Paganism/witchcraft – the awful Independent article specifically. (I have tried writing and rewriting this piece without dating it so many times, and each time I end up burning out. Please forgive me, Jason!)

I had actually decided I didn’t have much to contribute when I saw Lisa Wagoner’s post on the judgementalism of Paganism. Perhaps interestingly, I agree a fair bit with Wagoner’s article…but I also disagree.

There were multiple ‘hot takes’ I saw after the publication of the Independent article that make me very uncomfortable and even made my jaw drop in how awful they were. Some of them played into pretty misogynist ideas and I am pretty uncomfortable with that.

…But then I saw some takes that I thought were really solid, that transformed the original piece in valuable ways (Beckett’s piece here and Chris Godwin’s piece here).

I understand the anger that came out of the Independent article. It really would be major, serious news if someone wrote an article like that about a mainstream religion. And while I was deeply discomforted by some of the takes I saw coming from the community, I ultimately decided that essentially wagging my finger at other Pagans and witches wouldn’t be the right choice.

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Then I saw Wagoner’s post…which articulated a bit of what I was feeling. Honestly, the majority of the responses I saw to the original article were nasty and unpleasant to read as a Pagan and witch. Some of the ‘hot takes’ outright reminded me of what I had read recently from Christian evangelist books, in how they treated those that disagreed with them. So I found myself in a spot where there were behaviors I wanted to call out – but I didn’t want to call out specific people – but I didn’t want to try to shut down the valuable conversations stemming from this latest dust-up.

And then Lisa Wagoner published a piece kind-of calling out what was happening regarding this latest kerfluffle, and my mind got all stirred up again.

Like Wagoner notes, there is an inherent…silliness, let’s say, about critiquing someone for being judgmental, because to do so requires you be judgmental of them. The inherent hypocrisy in calling someone out for being too judgy is inescapable. We need to be able to do so, however.

Wagoner writes, “While you are busy saying “how dare she?” the rest of us are out here doing the work.” She’s not really wrong. I will often go to my shrine and pray, consecrate and cleanse myself, when I’m feeling unsure of the path ahead. The peace that overtakes me during religious practice was actually what stayed me from writing something similar to Wagoner today. Ultimately I felt that people were expressing a necessary anger, frustration, and rage at an offensive piece of media.

But… I think most – most – of the people turning out blog posts and long articles in response to the Independent article are ‘doing the work’ as well. They just also care about how Paganism and witchcraft are treated in the wider world. Is that a valid worry? Is that something we can even control? Now those are questions without an answer.

Even if the original response from Twitter left me unpleasantly shocked, I think our community has made good content out of the awful sludge we were given. All of our voices contributing to this discussion help shape us for the future.

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