The Merits Of “Pagan Standard Time”

The Merits Of “Pagan Standard Time” June 30, 2016

It’s often said that Pagans run on “Pagan Standard Time.” In other words, if a ritual is scheduled to start at 7pm, you can almost guarantee it won’t start at 7pm. It’ll start at 7:30pm. Or 8:00pm. Or even later. The stereotype is that Pagans are such laid-back, dreamy types that they don’t like to be constricted by time, and so they’re always running late for things.

Chronos, the God of Time. By Zarateman / CC Wikimedia Commons

Time for Reflection

While Pagan Standard Time is mostly a joke, it does have some interesting implications. I’m something of a stickler for punctuality; I feel stressed out if I think I’m running late for something. When my local moot changed the time of their meetings from 8pm to 7:30pm, I was worried because I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it on time from work. But all the other moot members gently laughed at my concerns; most members, in fact, are not expected to arrive at 7pm, and the ritual parts of the moot don’t tend to happen until gone 8pm anyway.

I think I’ve learned something from the Pagan view of punctuality. I’ve learned that it’s important not to get too worked over timing as usually it doesn’t really matter. Rituals will happen when everyone is ready, and there’s no rush at all to get things done exactly when they are supposed to happen. Taking things a little slower gives us all more time for reflection, for grounding, for calm preparation and for socialising. It’s the relaxed approach to times that gives the moot its warm, friendly atmosphere.

Time for the Environment

There’s other reasons why taking things more slowly seems to fit in with the overall Pagan ethos and approach to life. Until scientific development is able to catch up with society’s demands, living a more sustainable lifestyle means having to slow things down a little. Reducing carbon emissions and limiting environmental destruction does usually result in things being less convenient and more time consuming (if it didn’t, protecting the environment wouldn’t be a problem at all). But we have to learn to accept this, at least until we find new ways of generating energy that do not damage the environment. We need to try and accept that it’s not essential for us to have everything we want, on demand, whenever we want it. We need to learn to be patient and a little more laid-back. Joke it may be, but the concept of Pagan Standard Time can teach us this. Secular movements such as the Slow Movement also promote this idea.

Time for Wisdom

We all know Aesop’s Fable of “The Hare and the Tortoise,” but do we remember the importance of the message as adults? Although he makes a strong start and looks set to win, the hare burns himself out quickly by running too fast for too long, and needs to sleep in order to recover. And all the while, the slow and steady tortoise catches up on the hare, overtakes him, and wins the race.

There’s a reason why the slow tortoise is associated with wisdom in so many cultures, and I’m pretty sure that it’s because wise people see the value of taking things slowly and steadily. Paganism has taught me this wisdom, and to try and be a little more patient.

(Pagan Standard Time does have its detractors though. You can read some of the counter-arguments, in which tardiness can also be regarded as selfishness, here. It’s pretty interesting and I can certainly see both sides of the argument!)

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