Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Pagan Umbrella can be a Community

Last Saturday, I attended a Yule party, put together jointly by the Order of the Red Grail and Nebraska Heathens United.  Yes, you heard me correctly - some Wiccans got together with some Heathens, and managed to put on a fantastic party that most everyone in the community enjoyed.

The way that a lot of Pagans talk on the internet, a person might assume that different branches of Pagans don't have anything in common.  Not all Pagans are earth-centered, not all Pagans are polytheistic, not all Pagans celebrate the eight Sabbats, etc.  This is all true.  There is a huge amount of diversity and difference in the Pagan umbrella, and that's okay.  In fact, it's awesome.  Since most Pagan paths are rather tolerant of other people's ideas of religion or spirituality, there's no reason for us not to celebrate that diversity.  Unlike different Christian denominations that have argued for centuries about, for example, whether Mary had other kids or not; we as Pagans can accept that each of us has a different view of deity (or deities).

I see Paganism as a giant Venn diagram, with many circles.  In each path, and in each person, those circles will overlap differently - and some will not include some of the circles at all.  But what connects an urban-centered, hard-polytheistic Hellenismos follower with an earth-centered, pantheistic eclectic Wiccan is other Pagans, that each incorporate some of those circles in their own path (see example at left).  So the Wiccan who complains that they have zero in common with a Hellenismos follower is incorrect - they have other Pagans in common.

Now I've seen this argued over endlessly on the internet.  But do you know where I don't see it argued about?  My local community.  If a group of eclectic Wiccans and a group of Heathens can get together and plan a successful party, at which most people are enjoying themselves, then we as Pagans can have community with one another.  I think this is made infinitely easier in-person, because there are so many things that can be said over the internet that would not be said to a person's face.  It's difficult to look someone in the eye and insult them unless they truly deserve it.

I am, admittedly, a bit biased.  The Pagan community is something I care deeply about.  Though I am fairly specific in my own practice, I really want to be able to reach out to others who are different from me, learn from them and just.. exist in community with them.  This is part of the reason that my ultimate goal is to become a well-rounded Pagan clergy-person.  I want to be able to help and bring together people on many different paths.  This is a big part of the reason why I'm currently learning with a Wiccan coven - I'm not a Wiccan in my personal practice and haven't been for a long time - but there are many Pagans who are, and I want to be able to understand and help them as much as I would be able to understand a fellow ADF member.  And because all the people in that group are fantastic people, and I enjoy knowing them and spending time with them, regardless of the fact that we have different theological positions on the nature of the Gods.  While I acknowledge and accept that there are some Pagans who are happier remaining only among those who share their views; I think the majority of the Pagan community would be a happier and better place if we learned to work together with one another rather than at odds with each other.  It can be done!

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