I recently wrote a post about why I hate the misconceptions so many Pagans have about Paganism. I was planning to simply write a post listing some of the misconceptions that Pagans have, but I had a better idea for this post. I will still post about those other misconceptions another time though.
There are a lot of articles out there that list, discuss and refute some of the misconceptions that non-Pagans have about Pagans and Paganism. I’ve noticed an amusing thing about some, actually many, of these articles. Often the person refutes the misconceptions with their own misconceptions about Paganism. Here are four of them.
Non-Pagans Say: Pagans and witches are devil worshippers!
Pagans Say: The Devil is a Christian entity, we aren’t Christian and don’t believe in Christian deities or entities.
The Truth is: Neither are right, both are right. It really depends on the Pagan. Paganism as a whole is non-Christian – no Jehovah-Allah-Yahweh, no Devil. But Paganism is not a single religion or belief system, it is many. And we are legion. Sorry, I couldn’t help that.
I will begin with the idea that we do not believe in the Abrahamic God or the Devil. Many of us are polytheistic, or omnitheistic like myself. Generally we believe in more Gods than we worship, honour or even like and respect. People like me, who believe in all of Them, must also believe in the Abrahamic ones – to believe in all but Them would be a bit hypocritical don’t you think?
Beyond belief, there are Christo-Pagans out there, Pagans who worship Jesus and/or God. There are also Satanists (who do not worship Satan or the Devil), and there are those who worship or work with Satan, Lucifer and/or the Devil – who are separate entities in some traditions.
You can say that most Pagans do not worship the devil, and this would be true. You could say that most Pagans don’t really believe in the devil, or the Abrahamic God and this too would probably be true. But you cannot say that no Pagan believes in or worships Them – because that is not true.
Non-Pagans Say: All Pagans are evil.
Pagans Say: No Pagans are evil.
The Truth is: Once again, it’s actually somewhere in the middle. I won’t actually go too deeply into this one, since I have written an entire post about it before. Suffice to say, Pagans are human and like every human of any religion, we all have the capacity for evil – whatever you define evil to be. We all can be evil, but not all of us actually are. Some Pagans are “evil”, some do evil things. But on the whole, we are just like any other group of people – we’re basically alright.
Dangerous KillersNon-Pagans Say: Pagans and especially witches are out to kill us all, curse us with their evil magics.
Pagans Say: Pagans follow the rule of Harm None, we would never ever ever!
The Truth is: In the middle again? This is closely tied to the evil Pagans and even devil worship thing really. Because we are assumed to be evil devil worshippers, we are also assumed to be out to hurt everyone. Pagans respond with the fact that we don’t hurt anyone, it’s basically the only rule Pagans have.
Except it’s not. It’s Wiccan lore, and we are not all Wiccan, and the Rede that is so oft stated is quite misinterpreted by all the non-Wiccans anyway. So there are a bunch of Pagans out there who say they follow the rede of harm none, and that’s cool. But not all of us do.
Non-Pagans Say: Pagans and witches are all about sacrificing animals, in their evil rites.
Pagans Say: We harm none, and that includes animals! We’re all vegan actually.
The Truth is: Okay, Pagans don’t really say the vegan thing, but it seems like it sometimes. Once again we’re in the middle. For the most part, animal sacrifice is not part of Paganism, for various reasons. It’s outdated, it’s against the persons moral code, it’s against the law, we don’t actually know how to do it, it’s yucky. Whatever, there’s a lot of reasons. But they are not reasons that everyone has.
Animal sacrifice does happen in Paganism, most prevalently within the polytheistic traditions – Hellenism for example – but also in other traditions. It does happen, it’s not about hurting or torturing the animal, it’s generally more humane than what happens in a slaughterhouse and it is done by Real Pagans.
So what can we take from all of this?
When trying to refute other peoples misconceptions about us, don’t go to the opposite extreme – just be honest. We are all human here, and like any human or group of humans we are not all wonderful, shiny, unicorn people. And like any group of people, what some people of our group do, does not necessarily define all of us. Don’t fight misconceptions with misconceptions. The truth is actually much easier for people to believe.
Also, just because you don’t like a thing, doesn’t mean it isn’t a legitimate Pagan practice.