This weekend has definitely had a plethora of Beltane celebrations – a few of which I was invited to – none of which I accepted. I have previously discussed why I prefer my Solo Path during this time of year. Quite a few times I have heard the statements of “But you’ve not experienced a good Beltane celebration before, so you need to come join ours.” Which typically winds up with me trying to smile nicely and politely decline the offer a second time. Its this scenario that I have found is particularly maddening for an individual following a solo path. Group ritual, celebration, and study can be a wonderful thing, but…for me, at least…its not nearly as fulfilling as working solo.
What an anti-social perspective!
How elitist of you!
You have no idea what being a Pagan is all about!
::sigh:: If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard these statements hurled back at me during conversations about being a solo Pagan, I’d be able to pay my taxes from somewhere other than my work salary. However, I think its worth looking at each statement in turn – and seeing what we can glean from it. Learning about things does not always have to be rose-water and glitter. Most of the rational behind the “explanations” are going to be coming from my own personal perspective…after all, I’m a spokes-person for no one beyond myself. Essentially, I’m a kingdom of one. So when trying to apply this to other solo Pagans — be careful. You may have to make adjustments to what I say…and some may be 180-degree perspectives from my own.
Solo Pagans are Anti-Social
This is sort of an unfair statement, but it does get made about the solo Pagan from time to time. Essentially, if the solo Pagan would just be nice and talk with other Pagans – they would find no need to be solo followers of their respective Paths. You know, the old “birds of a feather…” analogy (sort of). I can seriously be anti-social with the best of them – ask anyone at work. My preference is to stay in my office, where I can get my job done. However, I am part of a community too – so I also attend little gatherings for things such as co-worker birthdays, celebrations of work anniversaries, and the occasional coffee-clutch at the gazebo out by the little pond near the parking lot. if my preference is to stay in my office, why attend these celebrations and events? As I said before, I am part of a community. Now, that doesn’t mean I attend EVERY SINGLE EVENT that comes down the pike. If I did that, I would never get my job done. I select those times that work for me, and attend those events. The same holds true for Pagan events.
If I attended every single Pagan event that I could within the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex (and beyond), I would spend all my free-time traveling to these events, And as wonderful as that time, spent with people I know and people I don’t know yet, can be it is time that gets removed from my own personal spiritual work. So I do what I can about being in the public eye and spending time with others, while trying to insure that I can still handle my own Spiritual needs as a solo adherent. As I have stated before, I have been nudged to be far more out in the public arena, so I am learning to handle a new balance in that mixture.
You Elitist, You
This is, in my estimation, more a personal insult than anything else. Seemingly, it is provided with trajectory and air-cushioning when the hurler finds a problem with my inability to see things from their perspective or to agree with their point of view 100%. I have found the best response to statements like these is that of silence. Arguing with the individual over the correctness or incorrectness of the statement is not likely to change their mind. It creates a charged atmosphere, where insults become the bullets and artillery of mindless warfare.
However, not responding also allows the control of the perspective to be handled in only one direction. For decades, we have heard Christians splatter Pagans with claims of “Satanism”, “ritual sex with minors”, and other slanderous statements. Its far more productive, in my mind, to make a singular statement in a calm manner – and then leave the “battlefield”. So here goes…
I am far from being an elitist. As an individual who practices my beliefs, I fall under no definition where I believe a system is to be governed by an elite class or group of individuals. In fact, I believe that an individual is responsible for their own spiritual growth, and those that follow their spiritual growth through a group of individuals do so under the same mandate. Your spiritual growth is your responsibility, even when learning from others. How that classifies me as an ‘elitist’ I am unsure, and frankly am not even concerned with beyond this statement.
No Idea What Paganism is All About
Typically, once one insult does not work, the next is to go deeper. Instead of striking at who I am, the blow comes against what I know or understand. To be completely honest, this is the point where I typically tune folks out on things like this. I am far more interested in learning what I can in my own studies, than trying to tell people that they are doing it all wrong. I am a lot more receptive to people who will state:
Here’s what I learned on the topic, and the teacher/book/column/blog-post/podcast/television-show/movie/documentary/whatever that opened my mind in that way of thinking.
After all, when stated this way, someone is not condemning you for not following their particular path. Instead, they are merely sharing what worked for them, and they are not stating that it will most definitely work for you too. They are only asking that you give it a look. And there’s nothing wrong with that…
I like the perspective of flying solo. Occasionally, its nice to meet others that follow a similar path – as I did during Hearthstone Grove’s Imbolc Retreat, and the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering, both earlier this year. I am looking forward to doing the same at this year’s OBOD East Coast Gathering as well. Its always wonderful to be among fellow folks on various points in their own Druidry studies – as well as those folks not on a Path of Druidry. The conversations are always fun, fascinating, and sometimes even provocative. However, none of that is going to change the fact that my little bi-plane has a cockpit for one. We can, occasionally, fly together in formation though…