It sounds like being a Pagan is a really difficult thing to do.
I hear this a lot when I try to explain what I do as a Pagan or what being a Druid means to me. The truth of the matter is that I am terrible at explaining myself in face-to-face settings. Being a Pagan, a Druid or even a Polytheist is not really all that difficult. True, sometimes what I get called on or asked to do can certainly be uncomfortable, but in the end its really all about being myself and living my life.
A lot of the difficulty in trying to explain all of this comes from having to unravel the knots of misconception surrounding ancillary concepts such as magick, ritual, and the supposed ties to Satanism that many folks carry about Pagan beliefs. Certainly, I can no more turn someone into a frog than I can conjur a cup of coffee with the mere snap of my fingers – though I have tried to train the baristas at my local Starbucks to do just that. ::grins::
I have also heard things like “you’re going through a fad” or “you’ll grow out of it”. At the age of fifty-three, I appreciate the vote of confidence that I am still young, and considering that I have been on my Pagan path since 1986, I’m fairly sure that this is not some passing fad for me. No, this is what I am.
Then there’s the chorus of “its a mental illness you have” when I note that I converse with Crow and Coyote (among Others). Or that I can see and feel the Spirits of the Land. Or that I remember my ancestors in prayer. I certainly don’t feel that such is the case. Its no different than the Christian that feels the guiding hand of God on their life. Its no different than those that bend a knee and pray to God to intercede on their behalf when life gets rotten and rough.
Now, there are those within the Pagan community that would scream “foul” on how Christians seemingly treat those of other beliefs. If you’re not part of the Big Five (Christianity, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist), you seemingly don’t get a “fair shake” in the world. Back during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, I remember Pagan friends having their children removed from their custody here in Texas. All because of their personal faith. I remember being cornered in the Sembach Air Base post office at 3am on a Saturday morning when I went to check mail and threatened. Thankfully, someone else thought to check their mail at that time as well.
Are Christians out to destroy Pagans and others? If you listen to the zealots of that faith, you could certainly make a case for it. But, I have run across similar aspects of zealotry within the Pagan communities as well. There are always people that will take things an extra step or two too far. The world is rife with those examples.
So, my difficulty in trying to explain what I believe tends to come from side commentary that arises from the discussion. I’m not a fan of the “elevator speech” because it leaves no room for discussion. The concept is meant to be a conversation starter, I grok that idea. The problematic part is that the first step in the conversation can go so many different directions. And for me, that is the real beauty of a conversation. I don’t need the other side to wait the one or two minutes for me to vomit out a prepared statement. Interrupt. Ask the question on your mind. Let’s get the conversation underway.. Letting it grow organically ia the key, in my opinion.
So, my so-called elevator speech has devolved from a two minute prepared statement to a single sentence. What is being a Pagan/Druid/Polytheist about for me? Its about living my life intentionally. Let the conversation start from there. And my firmest belief is that simple conversation works best. No debate. No argument. No my God is better than your God because he eats Ken L Rations. No competition. After all, we are all just trying to live our lives in the best manner that we can. There’s nothing difficult about that, other than the obstacles we create.