On Being A Neo-Pagan Fundamentalist

There are some values and ethics that, yes, I believe that all Pagan fundamentalists ought to have in common, but I could be wrong on that front. Besides, that would take several more pages to go into, and I need to move on with regard to this list.

5)    A Pagan fundamentalist is rabidly tolerant, on principle. By that I mean that we do not criticize people for their religious choices, or criticize other religions for the acts of some of their followers. That means no indulging in that favorite Wiccan hobby, Christian-bashing. Nope, none of that. Yes, there are obnoxious and vicious people in the world. But a Pagan fundamentalist knows three things about other people's religious choices, and s/he knows them down to the bone. They are:

A)    All people have lessons to learn in this lifetime that are specific to them. You cannot tell anyone else what their lessons are, or where they are supposed to be right now in their lives. They might even need to learn lessons about things like intolerance and hate, and perhaps they can only properly do that, for whatever reason, by experiencing it from the inside for however long it takes for them to get the lesson. In fact, a strong call to a particular faith -- even a destructive faith -- is a good bet that there's a lesson to be learned there for that person. They may move on after they've learned it, or they may stay and try to teach others, but it's their life and their lesson. You can't decide for them that this current spiritual choice is not where they're supposed to be right now, this moment.

B)    If someone is actually being drawn to a particular faith for reasons of learning a lesson, your attempt to tell them that they shouldn't be there is guaranteed to fail. In fact, it may even drive them closer, as the karmic pull of the lesson increases in response to outside interference. (If you actually want to do something useful, don't berate them or denigrate their choices. Call up the Lords of Karma [or some equivalent] and make an offering that they might hurry up these folks' karmic lessonings. It might, at least, make them take their minds off of you.) When faced with intolerance, the best reaction is to remember that this is, for them, a phase that is necessary for some reason. Imagine if the Universe decided to inflict that lesson on you, close up, and created the conditions to make you into someone who would be fearful enough to embrace it. Imagine the conditions that would do that to you. Maybe it will give you a little compassion.

C)    You are a Pagan -- and indeed a Pagan fundamentalist -- for the same reasons that they are where they are. The only way to teach anyone anything about spirituality that is going to stick is to be a model of behavior, not a ranting pedant. Be good in your own path, because your own path is not for everyone, or even most people. It's for the people who are supposed to be on it, and who they are and aren't is not for you to say. Be a model for those who are sent by the Gods to see you, and don't worry about the rest of them.

This is the starting point of this attitude. It's not that of the majority of Pagans, and given point number 5, it likely never will be. However, those of us who are on this path are the small minority of diehards for whom this is the way we do things. You can be a Pagan fundamentalist and be a Wiccan, an Egyptian Pagan, a Druid, or whatever else; there are traditions that are specifically inimical to some of the above tenets and don't mix well with them, but most will. There do seem to be a lot of us in reconstructionist traditions, and a reconstructionist bent to many who aren't specifically doing that, but there are also many eclectics in the demographic.

So there it is. Pass it on. The only way a definition gets defined is if it gets heard. And if this makes you uncomfortable, good. Sometimes it's been when I was most uncomfortable, and forced myself to look at the source of that discomfort, that I learned the most about myself.

Raven Kaldera is a Northern Tradition shaman, intersex/transgender FTM activist, erotica educator, Ordeal Master, Speaker for the Transgendered Dead, homesteader, diviner, psychic vampire, herbalist, polyamorous parent, and author of many, many books, articles, and short stories. Raven is a builder of bridges between worlds, a crosser of boundaries between communities, a Reweaver of the Web. His website is Cauldron Farm.

6/15/2010 4:00:00 AM
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