My 2 Cents

So, like many of you plugged into the “Pagan Blogosphere”, I’ve been keeping my eyes on the Pagan-Polytheist Controversy of 2013. If you haven’t been, you can catch up with The Allergic Pagan’s blog post Your One-Stop-Shop for Pagan-Polytheist Controversy. (Be warned, it will take you more than a few minutes to read through it all and more than a few good dollops of patience, no matter which side of the argument that you fall on).

I thought I would take a second to chime in. (I blog, it’s sort of what I do).

Of course, I live with Kenny Klein, so I’ve been listening to his narration of the different points of view non-stop, sort of like a spectator at a very complicated, community wide tennis match all week. Yes…popcorn was involved.

Throughout the whole thing the main idea I’ve seen raging through all of it is “how dare you try to define me!”. And that isn’t new, I’ve noticed that a lot lately. In some ways, it’s intrinsic to this community.

I’ve also been saddened to see a lot of people throw out “Pagan doesn’t mean just Wicca!”. Seriously guys? Aren’t we past that yet? I’m Wiccan and when I tell you I’m Pagan, I am not telling you that I am Wiccan. And when you tell me that you’re Pagan, I’m not assuming you’re Wiccan. Usually I’m wondering what sort of interesting other flavor of Pagan you are. Yes, we all know that Pagan does just not mean Wiccan, get over it.

I think that we can all agree that the term “Pagan” is a pretty big Umbrella term and that’s fine. Where I get lost is when people are unwilling to define themselves as Pagan because they disagree with other peoples’ broad definition of the term. The gist of the argument is this: the broader the term becomes, the less meaning it actually carries.

Several people have pointed out that this is a stage that our community has to go through: the feared “bratty teenager” stage where we have to all run off shrieking about our own independence so that we can reach adulthood with a certain level of personal understanding. This, conventional wisdom says, will allow us to all become healthy adults.

Honestly, I think the whole thing can be summed up thusly:

In the end, if we want to be a community, we do have to define ourselves. Definition does not mean that we are turning into the organized religions that I think so many of us fled and fear. But if we want recognition and equality within the greater community, which so many of us are striving to do, we need to be able to tell that outside community, “Hi! This is who we are”. So many people are trying to define the word “Pagan” that no one knows what it means. This seems to be a sort of “Too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario.

And in the end, “Words are all we have to go on” and if we want our community to go anywhere, we need to come up with a few that all of us can agree on.

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5 thoughts on “My 2 Cents

  1. The second picture (far side?) made me think of this

    Love ya boo!

  2. [...] Kenny’s “significant other” (Lauren DeVoe) throws in her 2 cents. [...]

  3. lisaspiral says:

    Actually, although you may not mean to, you do use the term Pagan to describe practices that clearly are Wiccan. Many of us do. I suspect that is part of the reason those who aren’t practicing as Wiccans tend to want to distance themselves from the term. Furthermore the “language of Paganism” is highly influenced by the jargon of Wiccan practice and when practices differ debate often ensues (6 witches = 10 opinions). I agree that Pagan in it’s common usage sense of “non-Judeo-Christian” is a pretty big umbrella term but even here there is disagreement if the community really does include Buddhists and Hindu practitioners. What do we do with those who walk a Wiccan path with Jesus as their primary Deity? Pagan works for me, but I have a great deal of compassion for the voices of people who find themselves unable to identify with their understanding of the word given it’s current usage.

  4. Oh, on this forum? I absolutely use Pagan and Wiccan interchangeably. This blog in particular was started to talk about my change from being Eclectic to Wiccan and I would hope that anyone who comes to my blog and reads the title gets that this blog is coming from someone who is speaking from a Wiccan POV. When I write for “Witches and Pagans” and for the “Pagan Household” I try much harder to write things that are not coming from a Wiccan perspective, which is hard and I usually preface blatant comments involving Wicca as coming from the Wiccan POV.

    When reading the bigger and much more public blogs though, especially blogs written by non-Wiccans, I’m disappointed that this is the response I’m seeing. You say you have compassion for “people who find themselves unable to identify with their understanding of the word given it’s current usage” and I think that’s exactly the point I was making. If we can’t define the word “Pagan”, then how can anyone identify with it? And if you can’t identify with Pagan in it’s current usage, than don’t and find something that you do identify with and move on.

  5. Lianne says:

    No, we are not “past” the whole ““Pagan doesn’t mean just Wicca!” thing. Because it’s still a thing. People in the Pagan community still regularly call me a Wiccan despite the fact that every time I respond with increasingly irritated rants about how actually, I’m not. Discussions in the community also tend to assume a Wiccan worldview.

    This is what gives me mixed feelings about identifying as Pagan. Mostly I identify as Pagan because it’s the label I’ve used throughout my spiritual journey of the last few years, and through most of it it was the best label. Now I’ve finally found a comfortable place as a Naturalistic Pantheist, and I’m finding that these debates are making me feel less and less like the Pagan label makes any sense for me. But I still enjoy being part of the Pagan community, going to the events and whatnot, so for now I’m sticking with it. (And while pantheism is often classified as atheism, I’ll never identify as that, because the athiests have given me even more grief than the Christians in my lifetime, in terms of religious intolerance.)

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