SignPost Ahead – Institutions v. Counter-Culture (Sort Of)

Had a listener of the podcasts point me to this post on the Wild Hunt, asking me for an opinion on it. The article is on “Institutions v. Counter-Culture in Modern Paganism.” What I essentially came away from the article with was a sense that Jason, the blog post’s author, was trying to draw a distinction between which movement provided better traction in moving Paganism towards a more positive position in society. Or some such nonsense. I’m quite sure that Jason’s post strikes a chord with some of the other readers of TWH, as evidenced by the nearly 100 responses the post has generated at the time of my writing this. I’m not one of them though.

I’m not out to bring Paganism into the mainstream – kicking and screaming if need be. I’m also not out to keep Paganism on the fringes of society, a part of the counter-culture movement, eschewing the aspects of the dreaded concepts of “mainstream” and “the man”. In fact, I have no desire to make Paganism into anything for anybody else. I have an understanding of what Paganism is, and how it works for me. That’s enough for me. I can talk about how it fits into my Life, how it helps connect me to my environment, how it provides the symbolism necessary for my own intellect to grasp some abstract concepts concerning Philosophy and Spirituality. But that really is about as far as I can take it. How it relates to you – the person reading this – or anyone other than myself….I just cannot say. After all, I am not you, nor am I any of the other people I have not mentioned out-right here. For lack of a better way to explain it – you are going to have to figure that out for yourself.

My Paganism is about connecting to my environment. Its about connecting with the Gods in my own personal way. My rituals are my own way of honoring the Gods and connecting with them and my environment. In a lot of ways, an outsider might describe my way of belief as a combination of Buddhism and the Sierra Club. There are other ways for people to experience Paganism. For some, elaborate rituals with intricate details and scripting helps them make their connections – provides them with the rudder for their beliefs. Others grab a deeper connection through meditation. And there are probably tens of thousands of other ways that others make their connections. For me, it does not matter what way anyone makes their connection.

To be completely honest, it does not even matter to me if they call it “Paganism”. They could call it Christianity….or Buddhism…or whatever. Its not the name that matters to me. Its that the individual gets their Spiritual connection in that manner. Its also about respecting the Spiritual connection of others, even when it differs from their own. But that’s a completely different path of thought.

I do get what Jason is talking about. There is always a desire for one’s beliefs to move into an area of acceptance, to be welcomed at the Council Fire, so to speak. But to be honest, its not a desire of my own. I am a Pagan. I am a Polytheist. I follow a Path of Druidry. But not a single one of those labels and/or descriptives is the complete tale of who I am. Those are merely the labels that I choose to accept for myself.

So what would be my position? Would I choose Institutions or Counter-Culture? In many of the comments, I say people saying that there did not need to be an “or” in the statement, that they would choose an “and” instead. That they wanted both. I am far more non-committal than this on the entire issue. It does not matter to me. I am a Pagan. I am a Polytheist. I follow a Path of Druidry. For me, that is more than enough for my answer.

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