What happens so often in any community is the need to conform to the social and societal norms of the community at large. Pagans and Wiccans are no different and continue to fall into this very trap time and time again.
So often we attempt to take what is so wonderful about paganism and squish it into a box that was really meant for the book religions of the world. Now, in all fairness, there are many reasons to try and do that. Some include the legalities of what is considered a “religion” under the law. But I am not talking about that specifically. I am really focusing on the thoughts of Pagans and Wiccans everywhere and how many of us are still stuck in the box created by the religions we were raised with.
Paganism is not meant to follow the structures of a dogmatic society. We are spiritual warriors that pride ourselves in free-thinking and spirituality versus religion, so why do we get stuck thinking there is a right and wrong way to the divine spirit? So often people feel the need to have set guidelines or structures to exist in because it is safer than relying on self.
So what happens is we give our power away to others, traditions, High Priests and Priestesses, rules and many other things, instead of diving into ourselves and giving ourselves permission to keep our own power. Why is it so hard for individuals to take responsibility for their own thoughts and their own spirituality? Why do we as a society feel that we have to follow the thoughts of others when it comes to our spiritual path?
We as a society are so use to having others who are “more qualified” lead us in our spiritual path and we become conditioned to follow. Walking a spiritual path can be that awakening that we as individuals hold the power and the keys to a spiritual existence. Others are here to help guide and assist but they are the same as we are, they are only individuals walking towards their own path as well. No one person is closer to deity than the next; it might just be that their paths are different.
Now, this is in no way disrespect to the elders of our religion. It is just a reminder that those elders may or may not have found some of the wisdoms of life on their journey but that does not discredit the journeys of others.
So what this really points out is that being a free thinker takes lots of work and responsibility. It is much easier to follow than to do the work and lead.
Another wonderful aspect of paganism is the diversity within the traditions and beliefs. We get the opportunity to learn from so many different systems on the road to deity and the only thing required is an open mind and respect. Again, unfortunately, many carry over the thoughts that one thought system is better or closer to the gods than another. And we help to create the great divide within the pagan community that has plagued the religious community at large for years. In addition, many run from the book religions only to come here and find the same scenario with people who claim to be different.
People are in the habit of imposing beliefs, ideals and judgments on others instead of allowing others the personal freedom and responsibility to think for themselves. The minute that someone thinks differently or doesn’t subscribe to the same method of training that we did, we automatically discredit them.
So the challenge this month is to push ourselves to try and be understanding, open minded and accepting Pagans. Let’s stop pretending that is the way that the Pagan community as a whole is and start being that. Let’s start by trying to make an effort not to force others to live within our restrictions and thoughts.
Let’s remember that the path to the divine is an individual journey for each person. Some will walk, some will crawl, some will fly but all will get there in their own time and their own way. Let’s respect each other’s intelligence to make the best decisions for spiritual growth and let’s not judge others for doing it differently. And I am not talking specifically about Christians, Muslims or any other religion. I am also talking about within our own Pagan community.
Don’t dismiss it. Just sit with it.
I am a 29-year-old Pagan mother, been married for seven years. I am very close to my family and my parents. I work full-time in the drug and alcohol treatment field. I have been a practicing Pagan for about four years. I consider myself to be an eclectic Wiccan/Pagan. I try not to limit or label myself. My passions in life are my family, enjoying a good book, learning what life has to offer, connecting with my spiritual self, giving back to my community and spending time with good friends.