When it comes to Paganism, there are a lot of misconceptions that get made, particularly by those from outside of it. A lot of it is infuriating stuff, such as the constant claim that Pagans are just devil-worshipers in disguise. This one point used to set me on-fire emotionally and would have likely evoked a strong, open rebuke of the individual. Even if the comment was not made directly to me or I only heard it in a passing conversation. yeah, my younger days when I was aflame with my Paganism on my sleeve.
I eventually learned to not take statements like this as deep wounds. My faith in my Gods and the Path that I walk is far more deeply rooted than it was back in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. I have no need to be the crusader, tilting at windmills made from religious Lego bricks. But there are still a few misconceptions that I readily stand against. I do not need to gather my battle armor, pull up my lance and find a goat to substitute as a valiant steed in another attack against a windmill. There is no need to be Quixotic over it all. Besides, I think the goat might have problems with my pudgy self on his poor back.
A Glamour Is Just That
One of the more common thoughts is that being a Pagan is a glamorous thing. You spend all your time communing with Gods and Goddesses that resemble Chris Hemsworth or Emily Blunt (Gods I wish!). There is a lot of the movies built into that kind of thinking. Trying to bring a face-to-face reality of the Gods and Goddesses is not as easy as that. These pop culture aspects can provide the vehicle for people to come into Paganism – come on, Gal Gadot could easily bring me into a desire for a stronger understanding of the Amazonian culture and concepts – but working with these same Gods is a little different than that. I will use a pair of personal examples, Crow and Coyote. Both tend to take a form much closer to the concepts of modern-day Cowboys with heavy tinges of Native American peoples for genetics. But this is my own mind’s eye placing a perspective and understanding that helps my own perception. For someone else, that imagery may be vastly different – maybe even more animal-like.
Dictionary.com defines much of this as a ‘glamour’ or by the definition: “magic or enchantment; spell; witchery.” I do not like the seemingly snarky element of ‘witchery’ in that definition, but there is a helpfulness to this. Much of the imagery comes from an imagery that helps place the God or Goddess into your mind’s eye, helping you to perceive what is necessary. So, essentially, your perception is what helps you to understand what is being conveyed to you by said God or Goddess. My personal perspective is that the same holds true within any other faith, including the Christian beliefs. After all, many people perceive Jesus ben Joseph as a white guy because it is imagery that helps them to process the message in their own minds. This does not necessarily make them racist; rather this provides a perception that allows them to process what they need to understand. The historical reality is probably a lot different. The problem does not come from their perception, but rather comes from the insistence that their perception (or someone else’s) is more appropriate for everyone – rather than accounting for the fact that our relationships with the Gods and Goddesses are unique between each one of us and Them.
A Relationship Is Not All Roses and Champagne
My relationship with Crow and Coyote is unique between myself and each of Them. One of the many misconceptions I hear from others is that Crow and Coyote would be sending me on “missions” for this and that. Certainly, I have been tasked with certain things to accomplish, and continue to have such put before me. However, I am not being tasked with tossing the Ring of Power into Mount Doom or trying to rescue someone from a peril greater than they know. There is a perception that working with the Gods is a lot like a modern Dungeons and Dragons game. Sort of like a Lara Croft moment, done in at the direction of an Otherworldly Being. Yeah, I certainly do not wish to have that in my life. I am all for adventure. I will get into that in a few moments.
Again, it is easier to explain if I provide a personal example or two. This blog is just such a product. When I pledged as a Priest (an unofficial title in terms of what a ‘Priest” is but an appropriate title for what I do in my daily life in service to Him) to Crow, one of the mandates provided to me was to get out and talk about my own Path. Thus, was born a focus for this blog. I never realized that communications were an important facet of Crow, but I have certainly been placed in such a position now. I have never been very certain about how much of what I write here is helpful to others, but still, I write. I have even contemplated the idea of a book, but that is still something I have trouble envisioning (more a hurdle that I must get over personally). And sometimes the messages do not come directly to me from Crow or Coyote, but other places. As I detailed in The Morrigan is Not a Valkyrie, these types of messages can be extremely confusing. And while I sought out assistance in interpreting what was coming to me, the solution to understanding came more from being a bit more direct within those moments of communication and being patient on my part. You are working into a relationship with your Gods and Goddesses…there are days when it is all hot romance and other days where you’re cleaning the dishes and vacuuming the living room carpet.
There Are Adventures
There are adventures too. One moment had me headed to Glacier National Park to spend a week there. My experiences with the Gods there was quite intense. Another moment had me walking along a narrow trail along a canyon in Mesa Verde on my own, something I DO NOT RECOMMEND you do. This was a moment of foolishness on my part and not thinking through what I might encounter along the way. The trail was full of loose gravel footing along the edge of a super steep cliff. One misstep on my part would have seen me catching wind beneath my wings – and it is a no-doubter that I would never have arrested my fall. Another side trip, which occurred on the return from Glacier National Park, found me at Medicine Wheel in Wyoming. A pure whim of a trip.
Each of those moments came to me in dreams. The Medicine Wheel side-trip came from a dream, where I was shown the location and told to be there. It was an incredible moment in time for me, which I can still transport myself to with a little grounding and focus. And it will be a trip I make again in the future…hopefully with more than just myself going. This next time, I plan on bringing some tobacco and water for offerings.
Yes, Paganism can be exciting when you first get on the Path. But like any new romance, it is exciting in the beginning. All the passion of what “clicks” with you shows you a world you never thought existed outside of your dreams. Then, as the excitement wears off, and a daily routine sets in, you can see an everyday life that looks like what you left behind in this new excitement. Daily offerings in your backyard, many of which are not immediately answered – if at all. The Gods may call you into some form of soldiering for Them in a Cause. Maybe not. Maybe They do not call you at all. You believe in Them, but They seem to be ignoring you. That happens too. Maybe, you do not believe in the Gods in the aspects of Polytheism. That is ok too. You do not need to be a Polytheist to be a Pagan. Being a Pagan comes from your heart, what you believe, and what makes you feel alive and connected in the world around you. And if you really want to get down to brass tacks…that is precisely what matters. You are the arbiter of what defines you…but as I noted early, this is where I come from.