Saturday, May 28, 2011

Witch wars revisited

Witch wars revisited

Recent debate in the community about the label Pagan may well undermine many of the achievements this community has struggled so hard to obtain. As a community we have strength in numbers, our influence will only be eroded should individual paths diverge from the relative safety the Pagan umbrella.

Many of these individuals follow respected belief systems that have relatively few adherents in comparison to larger Pagan groups. It is a testament to the inclusiveness of our community that these groups are given equal time and space in the Pagan press and blogs to express themselves. This new Pagan media is the result of many decades of growth, education and outreach by the Pagan community.

Suddenly, small groups of sincere people have a great ability to influence debate in the broader Pagan community. While I applaud the participation, it is important to keep in mind that there are tens of thousands of Pagans and Wiccans that make up the backbone of the audience for this new media. There is little evidence that this issue has much credence among the majority of Pagans. It would seem that the desire of some to distance themselves from the Pagan identity is not reflected by their actions in posting to Pagan sites. These well-intentioned individuals ignore the privilege of their participation in a community that others have spent decades manifesting.

There are those of us who are old enough to remember the damage done by conflicts within the community in the past. Shall we split apart and revisit the days when the definition of our belief system was a divisive issue. Have we not learned from our own dark age (Witch wars of recent decades) that it is in unity that we achieve great freedoms for all who wish religious freedom to be the law of the land. Is it time once again to point the finger and label “the other” as separate and apart from us? Lets hope not.

Peter Dybing

2 comments:

  1. If we are not unified in the freedom to practice as we will, to be known as we choose, then we are only trading the hateful oppression of Christianity for the benign oppression of some dream of a fictional pan-pagan unified belief.

    I am a Heathen, an Asatruar. I am not Wiccan. I am a hard polytheist, who believes we have much to gain from (and offer with) participation in the broader Pagan community, but the more you cry for unity, the less accepted we feel ourselves under the old Pagan umbrella.

    Our ancestors founded communites across the known, and some until then unknown world, because Heathenry teaches how to live well with and beside peoples different from your own. We do not have to be one to live and work together. We do not have to give up our individual identity to hold the shield-wall against a common foe. Let Wiccans be Wiccans, Polytheists be polytheists, let Pagan be the banner under which we come together only to deal with those who would harm us seperately or jointly.

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  2. Peter, I completely agree that this is a dangerous game and that social media has brought to the front many voices that may have not otherwise been heard.

    The word "Pagan" is akin to a workers' union. When you join this union and identify as Pagan, you strengthen the force of that word. You join a collective bargaining unit, under which you are also afforded the attachment to other rights. To break apart that union is to lessen our collective bargaining power. And, that is dangerous.

    As Pagans, and unlike the conversion the world saw from Christianity, we are all free to believe what we want to believe and practice how we want to practice. That does not change. But, when we fly in some situations under the collective identification as Pagan, we become a force to be reconned with.

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