Every year, right around this time, I watch as angry and hurt Pagans climb to the top of the virtual fence-line we have and shout their obscenities at the Christian folk out there. Thirty-plus years folks…seen it every year. Nine Hells, I did it for the first ten or so years of my Pagan Path too. Many folks will think I am pointing a finger at them, but rest assured – if you feel that way, know that I am swinging that finger around to point at myself as well. I’m no more immune from throwing my hurt and anger at the more radical elements of the Christian faith while shaking my fist at them. There’s plenty of anger to fire at those, whose radical element would prefer me dead or injured for not following their Path. Besides that, anger is the easier emotion to reach for – so strong, so emotive, so easy to embrace.
Right around twenty-four years ago, I stepped into the wider culture of the Grateful Dead. I know, you’re looking at me cross-eyed – wondering where this is going. But it has a place in what I want to write about tonight. The counterculture of the Grateful Dead and the various “jam Bands” out there is well known. Well, its mostly known for all the weed smokers and the more nefarious drugs espoused within the devotees of the band. But, if you peel back the drugs and look deeper within the subculture contained deeper in, you will find a philosophy that is somewhat like the perspective of the Wiccan Rede. Its more of a philosophy of kindness and being helpful to others. That a community based on these attitudes is one that is strong, protective, and available to anyone that wishes to practice the precepts of kindness, caring, giving, and unconditionally love to others. It didn’t take me long to immerse myself within these thoughts and perspectives. It took even less time for me to encompass all of this as the core values of my Druidry. Yes, all because of the subculture of a band’s fans. The world certainly does work in mysterious methods.
With all of that now splayed out to be the primal focus, I now wheel back to what I started with – the anger and desire for retribution towards the Christian faith. Retribution for burning Witches at the stake. Retribution for those pressed to death in Salem. Retribution for the disgusting attacks on family units during the Satanic Panic. Retribution for those who lost their jobs because they refused to hide their personal beliefs. And all the anger that followed in the wake of each of those moments in time and history. Believe me, I understand the anger. I grok the rage that accompanies it. I comprehend the usage of this time of the year as a focal emphasis to bring home the point: we have a right to be who we are without retribution and fear.
What we don’t have a right to put into motion is to bring all the emotional attacks back to bear on the Christians. We don’t have a right to set and sow fear among the Christians. Sure, I get that people want to do these things – to get even. To let them feel an ounce of the terror that other Pagans have felt – as well as those who weren’t Pagans but were caught up in the terrorization because of a greed for property or a desire to hurt others because they are different. I understand all of that. But retribution will begat retribution – a terrible vicious cycle that grows with each attack on the other side. Each attack fueling the next moment of retribution. Each moment of retribution stoking the fires of anger and hate, destined to never stop until one side obliterates the other. All in the name of removing differences and destroying individuality. We see much the same in America’s political scene today, but that’s a parallel conversation for another time.
As in every aspect of my own personal opinion – there are those that will disagree with me. Some will even call me a traitor to the Pagan faiths. I’ve had liberal-minded say as much when I point out that the right-wing is moving on their convictions of what is right and wrong for this country – though I do believe some of the far right-wing folks might be seeing how damaging their posture has been. Not many, but there are a few out there. I’ve met them. I’ve talked with them. We’ve taken the time to exhange hugs and hand-shakes. They do exist.
I don’t agree with the Christian faith’s perspective of “baptism and a new shirt or death.” But I do believe the Christians that readily reach out with a hand, asking for there to be peace and understanding between Christians non-Christians alike. They don’t believe as I do, but they do believe in being caring, helpful, and loving to their fellow human beings – yes, even the non-Christians. Yet, even these Christians wind up being targets.
What we hear declared every year is that “there is a war on Christmas.” This is particularly amplified by right-wing media “infotainment” hosts. Mostly individuals who have no respect for those who have a different faith, a different perspective on how they interact with their environment and those who are their neighbors. Twenty-four years in the past, I got angry when all of this would take place. Now…I get sad instead. My ideal world is one where I can shake someone’s hand as we greet one another…regardless of our differences. I’ve always felt that a world filled with people who are kind to one another because it’s the right thing – not only because some disaster happened – is where I want to live. I know none of that is going to happen overnight – and most likely not within the short time I have left in this incarnation. But I have hope for some day to be that reality.