Monday, October 31, 2016

Problems of Paganism

You may or may not know this about me, but I am a Pagan.  I have been since I was about 16.  I grew up in a very strict Catholic household.  I went to church every Sunday no matter what.  Once, I even scratched my cornea on a Sunday morning and my mom thought I was just trying to get out of going to church.  I stopped going as soon as I left the house for college, and only go back when I feel the impetus to go.

Now, I work for an organization that has the C for "Christian" in it's danceable name.  (You catch my drift?)  Luckily, I have never felt ostracized nor proselytized to.  It's pretty nice to grow up in America and be able to be whatever religion you want.

The problems come whenever the topic of religion comes up.  Cause being a Pagan is kind of a personal thing.  It's not like saying, "Oh yeah, I'm Mormon," or "I was raised Baptist but now I'm Pentecostal."  I mean, technically, pagans are just people who don't believe in Jesus.  So I could be a Jew or Hindu and still claim the title.

Titles are kind of messy anyway.  A lot of them either have a weird connotation (think "Scientology"), or refer to a specific set of rules that everyone follows ("Bah'ai" and "Buddhism.")  I might as well just say that I am an "Ideological Universalist".  But again, that takes a lot of explaining.

Or I could call myself "New Age".  But that has a hippy dippy connotation that I don't exactly like.  I mean, "New Age" means listening to Yanni, using essential oils as medicine, doing tons of yoga and meditation and being anti-vaccinations. (Not that there's anything wrong with Yanni, essential oils, yoga or meditation.)  I can't be Wiccan.  That's a pretty dogmatic set of rules that I just don't completely hold with.  And try telling people you're a witch, especially around this time of year.  They'll just laugh and be like, "Yeah, I'm going as candy corn for Halloween," or "Oh really, what house are you in?" (Well, Ravenclaw obviously but that's not the point.)

This is my pagan altar.  Yes, that is a picture frame with Gravity Falls tarot cards...
And besides the whole putting a name to my beliefs system, comes the fact that pagan groups aren't as well advertised as Christian ones.  I mean, you go to a Mosque and you know what goes on there.  You know the Methodist church around the corner has services every Sunday at 9:30 and 10.  To get together with other weirdos, I have to scour the internet.  I mean, there are only two or three pagan shops that I know of in the city that I live in (and it's a pretty big city).  Of those shops, one offers Druid services, but sometimes you have to be a member of the Grove in order to participate (which, again, I'm not exactly Druid either.)

So once I finally am able to meet up with a group (usually once every four months or so), I then have to socialize before the ritual.  A lot of people are very nice, bright, hippy dippy kinds of folks.  Unfortunately, another problem of being atypical is that it attracts some weirdos.

Not to say that I'm not a weirdo.  I mean, I believe in fairies.  I think pineapples will take over the world someday.  I am obsessed with cats.  But I don't exactly dress up like a cat or pretend to be one. (Ha!  Furries....)  Those people are harmlessly weird though.  No, I'm talking the weird, scary, gothic looking couple who just give off that "creep" vibe, and when you talk to them you just want to run away (not because of what they're saying, but because of their energy).  Yep, I'm one of those crazy people who reads others' "vibes".  I'm sure that these people are perfectly nice, normal weirdos.  But I don't want to hang out around them, much less do a circle with all their creepy energy.  I do, anyway, because I don't have a weekly gathering to go to and I just really want some ritual time.

Still, I think the best "problem" of being Pagan is when I tell people, "Well, I was raised Catholic, and did twelve years of parochial school, but I'm not Catholic anymore"--other person chuckles here-- "I'm a pagan." Stunned silence. Uncomfortable seat shifting.  Like, how could anyone reject Jesus growing up with him in the house?  Look, it's not that I reject him... I just don't think he was God.  Or if he was, he was just one facet of the whole diamond that is God.  But alas, this rationale is rarely understood.

It's all right.  I don't really mind explaining what I believe or why.  Unless whomever I'm talking to has the desire to tell me I'm wrong or try to convert me.  Look, I'm not going to tell anyone they're wrong for believing what they do (except maybe Scientologists...), nor am I going to try to convert anyone to my way of thinking.  A deep conversation about beliefs is really beautiful, and a good way of being vulnerable in front of friends without having to resort to talking about sports or politics.  Sometimes, it's just a conversation.  And at the end of the day, it's really about what you can live with.  So I'll take the problems that come with being Pagan because I am very content with my relationship with the Universe, the Great Spirit, the Divine Creator... even if I don't always understand it.