Many of you know that I am not really into debate or philosophy. In a way, this sets me firmly outside of where many of my Pagan friends dwell. The Pagan blogosphere is completely covered in debates of what this term means or whether this group of people are “Pagan enough” or whether this particular practice is “correct or not”. When I hear/read such things – it doesn’t take long for me to click a different link, or to even close the browser altogether. In the not so distant past, I was challenged over this – being charged that I wasn’t dealing with growing my own Path. As with most confrontational posts, responses, and Emails that I get – I spent a few moments removing my emotion from the equation, and then deciding whether it was worthwhile to attempt a conversation (as opposed to an argument or debate). The result of that, is the post you are reading now. A general response.
I can grok what was being said. Reading articles and books, listening to the material that many of the other Pagan podcasters put out, and even talking with my friends that want a discussion — such as the lovely conversation I had with Lisa in her backyard while I was in Atlanta — these allow me to see, hear, read, and sometimes even experience a differing perspective of my own. And from those particular experiences, I take particular pieces and match these up against my own perspective. And where these make more sense to me – I assimilate them, or even a part of them, into my own thinking and understanding.
But, if I am doing something in a manner that someone else thinks is not “appropriate” or “correct” – and then attempts to confront me over it… Well, its one of the fastest ways to get me to not pay attention to what you are trying to articulate. Its a psychological response on my part – one I am very well aware of – but its also a manner of having the confrontation removed as quickly as possible. I have never identified as any kind of an empathic individual before; however, I do tend to pick up on emotional states of people very easily. Perhaps I am, and I either don’t completely realize it, or block off part of that as a defense mechanism. I’m not sure – and frankly, at this moment in time, I am not prepared to explore down that particular pathway yet.
I am, on the other hand, extremely sensitive to people assuming something about me (or even others). That’s a “nature” thing for me – I hate hearing people speak in generalizations. I am guilty of that as much as the next person, and when I catch myself doing it, I cringe inside. I walk my daily Path as an individual, and stand before the Gods as an individual. When I get in front of the podcast microphone, I am an individual. I cannot represent other people, I can only represent who I am. There are those who identify with me – have similar feelings, similar experiences, similar beliefs — but they are individuals as well. Generalizations, in my mind, marginalize the beauty and wonder that comes from individual experience – and that is a theft of what makes our daily Paths so unique. Not all Wiccans feel [x] – not all Pagans identify with Wiccans – not all people experience the wonder of being before the Gods – not all Pagans have a desire to find the Spirits of Place, the Spirits of Time, or wish to commune with their Ancestors. And none of that should belittle what is their own individual Path in their spirituality.
When I hear/read/see people being confrontational with others (including myself) over what is “right”, “correct” or “enough” for another’s individual “Spiritual Path” – I remember, I used to be that Pagan as well.If you are walking a Path with a particular tradition, there are established manners in which rituals are to be done. My Path is entwined with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. There are certainly aspects that I follow in public ritual that are part of the Order’s process, and there are more aspects that I have yet to learn. However, I am a solo Pagan, by choice. What I do in ritual is my choice to work with, as an individual. There’s a difference between what I do as a member of the Order, and what I do as a solo Pagan. And honestly, both aspects can live within me at the same time – without contradiction.
Perhaps some of this has to do with the manner I grew up. I listened to heavy metal quite a lot. I had very few friends growing up. The ones that I did have were – and still are – very special individuals in my life. Like most Pagans, I started my steps within Paganism as a Wiccan. That no longer fits who I am, but I do not discard it as “useless” or “tired” or “unnecessary”. To do so would be to treat a valid Path for others as something that wasn’t valid for anyone. Its just not a Path that works for me any longer.
And perhaps…through my rambling here…this really boils down to something else I have noticed in today’s society at large – a lack of respect for things that match one’s internal judgments? But I cringe as a type this…for there is my generalization again….