I came across this post about atheist Pagans by The Domestic Witch, and it made me want to offer some of my own perspective on the subject.
I’m a solitary practitioner, but I wasn’t always.
There are a lot of reasons why that changed– some ethical conundrums, some questions I had that those I practiced with couldn’t answer, and plain old growing apart– but they’re not really that important today. Sometimes, I feel a kind of loneliness that makes me miss doing things in groups. Eventually, I usually end up realizing that my path diverges a little too much from most other peoples’ to make that feasible.
Hello, I’m a non-deist hard pantheist.
“Jecca,” you might be thinking, “None of that makes sense. Damn it, woman, words mean things.”
My belief in gods can probably best be summed up by this Perry Bible Fellowship comic. I think they all exist (though perhaps not necessarily as envisioned by humans). I don’t always understand the “lol-my-BFF-the-Morrigan” kind of relationships some Pagans have with their deities, but hey. More power to them.
I don’t, however, worship any gods myself. Devotion can be a beautiful thing, but it isn’t part of my practice. I haven’t felt drawn to any deities in particular, and, to be honest, many depictions of worshiper-deity relationships that I’ve seen (not exclusively Pagan ones, either) are not something I want.
Will that ever change? Maybe.
This isn’t to say that I’ve never interacted with deities. I’ve been called upon as a pinch-hitter in prayers and rituals before. I’ve given offerings to them when I’m made aware that it’s their holiday. I offer them obeisance, just not on a continual basis the way a devotee would.
Pagan communities being what they are, though, there is no shortage of people that are willing to proclaim (vociferously) that this means I’m not Pagan, which… Well, okay. I’m not that tied to the term itself as part of my identity, so being denied its use by some rando I will probably never meet and almost certainly never concern myself with impressing doesn’t really rankle. It says more about how they think than what I am.
Is this hurtful or harmful to other people? Probably. The number one thing I see other Pagans wanting is a community– more people like them, that share their concerns and beliefs even if they don’t have the same practices. Why ostracize anyone over some (literally) holier-than-thou semantic nonsense? It’s especially ridiculous considering that there is no ultimate Pagan authority to begin with. There are no initiations that have to be endured before someone’s “allowed” to call themselves a Pagan. There are no qualifying criteria. While initiations into specific traditions certainly exist, the Grand High Pagan Pope is not going to show up and tell anyone they have to stop using the word “Pagan” to describe themselves. This will continue being true no matter how many sanctimonious buttmops proclaim otherwise.
There are so many other things to worry about in the Pagan community– cultural appropriation, Pagans being disowned by their families, maintaining (or sometimes even getting) our religious freedoms– doesn’t deciding who does and doesn’t get to call themselves Pagan strike anyone else as a spectacularly stupid hill to die on?