During a recent Samhain I honored and spoke to an individual who I consider a mentor. On a cool winter night I remember having a conversation with him where he expressed to me his joy in having been a part of one of his students spiritual journey. He called this individual “My best student of Wicca”. Interested, I asked why I had not met this individual. It was then that he said something very profound to me. He went on to say “she became a Buddhist”. I of course asked how it is that his best student left Wicca, he replied; “As a leader it is my job to assist others in finding their connection to divinity, not to lead them to accept mine”.
This principle has stuck with me ever since and I think is very relevant to recent discussions around Teo Bishop’s announcement about his urge to engage Christ as part of his spiritual journey. Teo is my friend and I have always found his writing to be laced with authenticity, insight and self-disclosure. Frankly his urge to engage Christian concepts does not resonate with me personally. That being said, it has deep meaning for him and I would never put myself in the place of one who is willing to make judgments about another’s path.
Those who are taking issue with a well know Pagan identifying with a deity concept that comes from Christian roots are engaging in the very kind of dogma that we Pagans left monotheistic religions for in the first place. Teo has stated openly what is true in his heart; I applaud him, his decision, and his willingness to consider divinity in manifestations that transcend any dogma, including Pagan criticisms.
We Pagans proclaim loudly that we have personal relationships with divinity, yet when a perceived leader does not live up to our expectations many feel free to attack the individual as if their responsibility was to the community instead of authentic relationship with divinity. It is time to take a good long hard look at our community and ask why we are so willing to turn on individuals who are sincerely seeking a connection with the divine when their chosen concept does not fit neatly into our pre conceived concept of what is acceptable under the Pagan umbrella.
It has also been saddening to witness individuals calling on the Wild Hunt to stop publishing posts from Teo Bishop. These calls illustrate a clear violation of the very principles that Jason has built The Wild Hunt upon. No one, not donors, not bloggers, nor BNP’s have the right to demand anything from this respected independent professional news organization.
If Teo continues on the path he has articulated we will all benefit from his exploration of Christo-Pagan belief. If, on the other hand, he journeys deeply into the theology of Christianity, his posts will, with time, hold little interest for the larger Pagan community and he will move on to writing for an audience that is interested in his subject matter. It is not for anyone within our community to make such judgments with the exception of Teo and Jason in private discussion.
Lets make a concerted effort to show a little maturity, acknowledge the authenticity of Teo’s disclosure and support all those who seek connection with deity regardless of what they choose to call the divine.