We have a lot of misconceptions in Paganism, and I am not talking about what non-Pagans believe about us, I am talking about what we believe about Paganism. I am talking about things like millions of people died in the Inquisition, or when we say those killed in the Inquisition were witches and Pagans. When we say that every Pagan follows the rule of harm none, or the threefold return or even just karma – and then there is the whole thing where karma is, what goes around comes around in a few days time, rather than it being a force that controls reincarnation.
So many misconceptions, I can’t possibly list them all here (but I may make a post about them another day, because, fun). They are pretty much my biggest pet peeve – and I have a few pet peeves, but when it comes to people spouting misconceptions, it takes a lot of effort on my part to not charge in with a, “Well actually!” I fail most of the time to be honest.
But why? Beyond the obvious, they are misconceptions and as such are stupid and need to be destroyed, why do I hate them so very much?
All Real Pagans
I have spoken of this one before of course, though a bit tongue in cheek and self-deprecatingly. A lot of the misconceptions within Paganism are used to perpetuate some kind of grand unified Paganism, where if you don’t fit the prescribed misconception, then you obviously aren’t a Real Pagan. Harm none is the most common of these, of course. I have been attacked, online, many a time and viciously, because I am no follower of the idea of harming none. Good thing my feelings aren’t easily hurt, else I would have to point out that those attackers are breaking their own rule and are so not Real Pagans either!
The misconceptions that lead to the All Real Pagans fallacy are mostly amusing, I have to be honest. But they are also damaging to people who don’t have the same odd sense of humour that I have. And they are damaging to the Pagan community in general, online and offline. On a personal level it can lead to the seemingly basic hurt feelings, anxiety and religious doubt in a big way (which isn’t fun). It can also lead to people forcing themselves to do things and believe things that actually make them extremely uncomfortable.
On the community level, well one only need look at the kerfuffles in the blogosphere for an example and they can get pretty nasty. This can translate into real life where some people avoid certain gatherings for fear of being attacked as not a Real Pagan. It can create some pretty bad problems within smaller groups, covens and the like when one person has a very different idea of Real Paganism than everyone else.
Liars Can’t Be TrustedWhen our misconceptions get exposed for the lies that they are, we then become untrustworthy as a whole. When people realise how much shit we have created with lies about the Inquisition and how every society was matriarchal, the truths we want to reveal become suspect. Who is going to believe what we say when some of our most shocking revelations were actually bullshit?
Yeh, no one.
Paganism is a Joke
Following on from liars not being trustworthy, we also become objects of ridicule and our religions just can’t be taken seriously. All we really are is a bunch of disgruntled Christianity haters, everything we say is stupid. And so is everything we believe.
This may not seem like a problem – after all, who cares what other people think of us, right? But in truth it is a problem when we have governing bodies ready and waiting to make laws that may not go in our favour. We want to be taken seriously so that our voices in the world can make a difference.
I personally don’t care what people think of me or how they feel about me, however I also do recognise that I am a representative of Paganism as a whole, also of Polytheism and Hellenism. We are all representatives of the religions, traditions and labels that we follow and take upon ourselves. As representatives we have to consider what effect our actions and words will have on the greater Pagan and related communities.
Personally, I do sometimes feel embarrassed that I am counted as being somehow the same as all other Pagans, when I see so many of them spreading ridiculous misconceptions, lies, ignorance and outright bullshit. I don’t care what people think of me, so long I am the reason they think that way about me. I do not want people judging me based on the actions of some Pagan in the UK or US.
Your actions do affect me, and I am bloody sick and tired of people assuming I am Wiccan because I am a witch and a Pagan. It’s actually a worse assumption than the devil worship one that outsiders accuse us of. Not because Wicca is comparable to devil worship, but because it’s actually easier to convince people I don’t worship the devil than it is to explain how I am a witch but not Wiccan.
So please. Before you share that meme, that “enlightening revelation” article or status, check the truth first. Check if it is real, if it is true, if it is backed up by anything resembling integrity. Realise that just because another Pagan said it, that doesn’t make it true.