Though I am sickened by organized religions, such as Christianity, I am not sickened only by Christianity. This entry should provide a little glimpse of that, as it irks me on the same level as any other group that uses religion as a pretense for other, selfish motives.
Now, I know that nobody’s perfect and I like it that way. But, sometimes, people try so hard to be different that they alienate themselves from those who would accept them as who they are, not who they want the world to see them as. This desperate need to feel different among the different, just to be able to have something cliquish to brag about, has lead to some embarrassing moments for people who get called on their bullshit.
One thing that has aggravated me for years, and which (in a futile effort to understand various trains of thought) has always provided great fuel for my agony, has been the lengths that some people go, in order to convince themselves and others of the legitimacy of certain systems of belief. I will try and explain this a bit better because I don’t want to come off sounding like people can’t believe what they want (I have a religion of my own, as well).
My issue is with the followers of systems of belief who think that they are re-igniting ancient religions, or who think that their “religion” was something powerful when, in fact, such a belief system never even existed. Ok, I get it, people want to be different, even though everybody already is. Some want to be so different that they do everything possible to be seen as different, even among the different. In such an effort to be noticed by pretending not to care if they’re noticed, people seem to let common sense and dignity fly out the window, while they invite stupidity and blind ignorance to the party.
That having been said, I am tired of people trying to brag to me that they are Pagan (as a religion) and they worship “Paganism” with their “Covens”. They try to say that Paganism is an ancient, super special religion that believes one thing or another, depending on whomever organized that specific group.
“Oh, cool!” someone says. “You dress in black and use words that I heard in the last Twilight movie! I’ll be your friend and we’ll show everybody how better we are than them, while telling them that we don’t really care what they think!”
Once again, people are entitled to their beliefs. But come on, saying that you follow Paganism with your Coven is about as historically accurate as telling people you celebrate Kwanzaa, like the slaves did. If someone’s religious ideals appeal to you, great. But do a little research….the slightest bit. Please. Don’t put up your blinders because you want to fit in with the misfits. Don’t lose your common sense in an effort to prove to the world that you share the same beliefs as the imaginary ancient worshippers of your iteration of a religion that never existed. Anywhere.
As for that follower of Paganism, proud of her Coven, common sense should have told her right away that wait, how often had the word “Coven” even been used before the witch and vampire craze that began less than a decade ago? I’m not saying that it’s a new word, at all – just that it was never used to describe religions until someone heard it and thought it would be a cool way to make a system of belief sound exotic. The word, itself, dates back to around 1500, and originally referred to a group of witches – especially a group of 13. Even though witches had existed for eons, “covens” had not.
But one day, along come a few movies and books that mention the word in or out of context and suddenly, every under-the-radar, meet-in-the-dark religion refers to itself as a coven. I’m sure it wouldn’t even take long to find a coven of trekkies!
Ok, so maybe you were just so used to hearing the word that it didn’t stand out as an odd association to this new, super-duper ancient religion. They call themselves Pagans and you say, “Hey, people don’t like Pagans, so I’m going to be a Pagan, in order to [INSERT REASON](fit in, fit out, piss parents off, piss church off, stand out, have an excuse to scream at my parents, give myself a reason to tell everybody I need a therapist because nobody understands me). Honestly, if the latter is your reason, it’s because you don’t understand yourself – don’t blame other people…but that’s beside the point.
Paganism, by definition, is NOT a religion. It is a classification of religions that encompasses any system of belief not related to Christians, Muslims, or Jews. In other words, pagans are heathens, and vice versa. My religion encompasses set beliefs and I am a pagan. I don’t pass my religion off as an ancient order of naked dancing chanters.
Wiccans, too, are still pagans. Today’s Wiccans, though, only vaguely resemble the pagans of old, and the true worshippers will say the same thing. Those who have researched their beliefs and understand themselves are in it for themselves. If you’re reading this, ready to steam and flame me in a comment, think about it…why would you be steaming if it wasn’t true? Don’t lie to yourself by saying that you’re different and only your super ancient but not ever a religion religion accepts you.
You accept it, not the other way around. You do it for whatever reason you inserted above, or you wouldn’t have closed your eyes to the possibilities that, “Hey, how does my grand dragon master level 33 priest know the ancient love spells created by a barely known sect of a European religion that used spell ingredients that we can’t even buy here in our country?” The super duper grand dragon master might say that it’s ok to substitute American Mandrake for European Mandrake and you say, “Cool, he must really know what he’s talking about, now – they used the name of a root that all witch stories mention.”
At this point I should note that, if anybody who is reading this (and who may be fuming) has heard the previous statement before and not questioned its logic, I’ve got a little bad news. American Mandrake isn’t related to European Mandrake, and has none of the properties that those druids were seeking when they cooked up their potions. I know this because I, too, brew certain potions that require ingredients unavailable in this country. I follow some recipes for formulas that were recorded thousands of years ago and were found in the ruins of great civilizations. “What are these concoctions of which he speaks?” You may be asking…unless, of course, you’re avoiding acknowledging any of this because of those blinders. The potions I brew do, in fact, date back to, and beyond the creation of the definition of “Coven”, and they pre-date almost every civilization ever known. My concoctions, my amazing and proven formulas, are known to us as beer. Yes, I do make my own and yes, I have made varieties whose ingredients were recorded by some of the same religions that are being exploited today.
So, decide for yourself that you want to be different, for whatever reason, while ignoring that you are already different – which is what makes you who you are. But you don’t just want to be different, you want to be different from the different, so you find an exotic-sounding clique – not bothering to look into anything because you can trust anybody who will do anything to prove how different he or she is, especially when it comes to creating a group with some sort of niche that makes onlookers buzz. Ignore the ceremonies and spell books that were re-created from a dead, runic language, but which somehow, list ingredients that are, conveniently, found at your local grocery store. Do whatever you can to make yourself believe that you know about your religion’s history, while ending any religious discussion by starting a fight or running away because of a lack of, well, anything. But, whatever you do, don’t visit the next town over, where there’s another Coven, calling themselves Pagan, but not your kind of Pagan. The only similarity is the misguided name, for no apparent reason other than to tell the world, “Look at me, I’m different! And Fuck You for looking at me because I’m different!”
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