ok, so i'm a member of this Tallahassee Pagans email group. i joined forever ago to keep up with gatherings and hopefully meet like-minded pagans in the area so that maybe i wouldn't feel like the only little pagan on the block, as i usually am...i don't post, and generally, i just lurk and scan the happenings...a few days ago, someone posted this garbage called "hello, i'm a witch", and i am pissed off to say the least...it's kinda long, but in order to get the full effect, i'm posting the whole thing...bear with me...
"Hello, I am a Witch," says the man sporting a pentagram the size of an SUV, wearing all black and just waiting for some one to call him out for being different. My god! He will kill my cat and steal my babies. I won't hire him/ be his friend/have further dealings with him! Now lets try a different scenario: John just got a new job and he is getting along great with every one. He shows that he has great work ethic, contributes new and helpful ideas, and he is dependable and trust worthy. After working at his job for a few months, some religious topics come up in the break room and John is asked his opinion. "Well as a Pagan I believe…” In which situation does it seem more likely that some one would be open to learning the positive side to a way of life they are not used to? As Pagans we hold the responsibility for others opinions of our entire community. Stereotypes are everywhere. Chose not to contribute to them. John, the regular guy, just gave a whole group of people a reason to trust the Pagan community more than they might have already because he presented himself as part of the mainstream society as well. The other guy just added to the, "Those freaks all dress the same, and act out. They are up to no good. STAY AWAY." I am not saying not to wear you favorite Pagan jewelry, or not to disclose that you follow a different path to your new friend. I am asking you to think about how you are representing the rest of us when you do these things. If you are the only Pagan that some one knows then your personality traits, be they flaws or wonderful merits to your character, become a stereotype that they will associate with the next Pagan they meet.
Think of people in a different religion. Pagans so often have angst with Christianity. The main reason is that most Christians they have come into to contact with were not the "norm." Maybe you met them in the mall and the first words out of their mouth were, "Do you know Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?" followed by hassling to listen to their spiel. Maybe they came to your doorstep to tell you about their religion. Maybe it was a co-worker or classmate that always talks about uncomfortable topics to see how you would react. Those people's actions could easily take over your opinion of Christianity if they were the only Christians you ever encountered. Luckily, they probably are not. You probably have the opportunity to know many great people that just happen to be Christian, not people who are defined by their Christianity. However, Pagans are not as numerous, and you may be the only pagan some one knows for quite a while. Do you want that person to think that Pagans are religious zealots who define every aspect of their lives by their religion? I would hope you would rather them think that you are an
everyday guy who just happens to be Pagan.
So many times I go out into the Pagan community for a meet and greet of other local pagans and I come back with a bad taste in my mouth. I see exactly what I just described above, but it is in our circles. Pagans who enjoy stirring up trouble. They feed off others attention so they act out. People notice. They also notice the pentagram around their neck. Many times the people like this are only "Pagan" for the attention so even if the people noticing them decide to ask about Paganism or Wicca the "attention getter" would not really know what they were explaining. Sadly, the rest of us are on our best behavior and we do not get noticed. The only recognizing being done is for those who don't deserve it. A common saying goes, "It takes one "aw sh**", to erase a thousand "atta boys." People always remember the bad over the good. It would be so amazing to see a society where a Pagan was the same as any one else and we did not have to worry about these things.
A lot of people get hung up on the fact they should not have to act a certain way or be sensitive to what a Christian might think if they do this or that. I know you should not have to. I know it is wrong to be judged. You are being judged though. So, now, I ask even more of you. Something that I think many people will not like. Censor yourself.
When out in public watch what you say about Paganism. You may know what is involved in "casting a spell" or "invoking the goddess" but Jane Doe in the grocery Isle does not. Hearing tidbits of a conversation you are having with your buddy about a ritual you did the other day is probably unsettling for some one who does not know what you are talking
about. It can also be the cause of untrue rumors and gossip. By the time Jane Doe is finished telling about her encounter with you the church down the street may be holding a service about how there are local witches summoning demons from hell and poisoning
the local duck pond.
Now I challenge you with what might be the hardest thing yet. If some one confronts you directly about your religion or beliefs looking for an argument, WALK AWAY! Walk away especially if you are in view of other people. You may know you can win. You may even think you can change their mind about Paganism. You will not achieve either however. They approached you with intent on being right so in their mind they will be no matter what you say. If there are on lookers you will both seem immature for your dispute. It can only lead to negative energy and scuffed up feelings and egos on both sides. Here is the alternative I offer you. Send them a letter outlining what you believe, make it sweet and understanding. Then they cannot provoke you to say something you will regret. Also, you win. You showed maturity in the situation. They may be so impressed that actually listen to what you had to say in your letter. So you say, "I don't do any of that stuff. I am good, why did I even read this trash?"
Well then I ask you, "What do you do?"
If we, Pagans, don't need people out there stirring up negative talk and publicity for us then what do we need? Pagans who stir up positive attention for our side. Pagans raising money for charity, Pagans cleaning up the environment, Pagans volunteering at their local hospital or building homes with habitat for humanity. We need Pagans taking up leadership roles in our community. We need to be getting noticed for all the right reasons. I don't care how poor or busy you may think you are you can find time or money to give to a worthy cause. You will not regret it. I have had some of the most rewarding experiences of my life helping others. I challenge you! Don't be showy about what you believe; other people do not like that. Remember what you do changes peoples opinions of you and others. Be discrete in what you talk about it public. Don't try to stir up trouble. Walk away from arguments. Make a positive difference in other peoples lives so they have higher standards for the rest of us. Be that nice person who just happens to be Pagan.
do you see why i'm pissed off? first of all...just because i or anyone else happens to wear all or mostly black and chooses to wear a pentagram, does not make us the fool who goes bashing around looking for christians to attack...i am that lots of black and a pentagram kinda girl but anyone who knows me can tell you that i don't go looking for a fight. you bring me one and i will have it out, but usually i'm that "nice person who just happens to be pagan"...i understand that there are those in our community who give us a bad name, but i'm here to tell you...i have met just as many if not more "broom closeted" pagans who give us a bad name as i have "craft" pagans dammit...
i have to stop there...this is awfully short given the length of the cause, but i spent twenty minutes responding to them, and i'm pooped...just wanted to vent a little...i guess it just goes to show you that fundamentlism is everywhere...just in different ways