Trees, tides and other animals
Recent conversation in Pagan communities in both South Africa and the U.S. turned to:
1. freedom of speech (The Unpopularity Contest by Joseph Merlin Nichter – http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/the-unpopularity-contest.html
“The unfortunate truth is that in the few years I have served as a volunteer chaplain I have experienced more adversity and endured more disparagement from members of my own Pagan community than I have from the Department of Corrections.“),
2. intolerance (Pagan Intolerance by Peter Dybing – http://paganinparadise.blogspot.com/2013/05/pagan-intolerance.html
“Over the course of the past few years I have observed an emerging pattern of Pagan intolerance of divergent viewpoints on issues of importance to the community. Again and again writers expressing their opinions are subjected to being called names, shamed for their views and subjected to “othering” as a result of expressing a simple personal viewpoint.“),
3. Pagan leadership (Pagan Leadership, Dissension, Transgender Activism, Ethics, and Community by Shauna Aura Knight – http://paganactivist.com/2013/05/14/pagan-leadership-dissension-transgender-activism-ethics-and-community/
“Starhawk often writes about how healthy dissent is important in a community. But, I see so few Pagan communities that are strong enough to sustain real dissent. For that matter, I see few Pagans with the communication skills to skillfully articulate dissent in a way that doesn’t tear a community apart.”), and
4. scapegoating (Picking up the pieces by Bronwyn Katzke – http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/picking-up-the-pieces.html
“We’ve all, at one stage or another, discussed our beliefs with a non-Pagan and the inevitable question/accusation has come up: are you a Satanist? At this point, and depending on how long you’ve been Pagan, you take a deep breath, roll your eyes and prattle off, “we don’t believe in Satan he is a Christian deity and we don’t worship him therefore we are not Satanists”. It’s the bog-standard response the majority of us go with, but here in South Africa, some of us have wondered just how well that has been working out for us.”).
I thought I’d wade through the conversations from my own perspective…
When the gale blows hardest the tallest trees will break.
Translation: If you do anything significant or meaningful, Pagans will find you and huff and puff until you break, and then they’ll brag about how much damage you did to the community around you.
When the tide turns against you, don’t spit into it.
Translation: Freedom of speech only ever belongs to your Pagan critics. Your reasonable and rational voice is of no consequence in the face of hatred and slander. Spit a profanity or two in exasperation at your attackers and their entire coven will threaten to beat you up, but end every threat with “Love and Light, BB”.
When confronting a leopard in the forest, do not assume it will not attack you simply because it is rumoured to be shy.
Translation: Not everyone who dissents wants a rational or reasonable debate, because their prejudices are far too important to challenge in the public eye. Any careful scrutiny may reveal their arguments for what they truly are; not dissention, but assassination.
When keeping chickens, allow the rooster to rule his own hens.
Translation: If you are a Pagan in South Africa, you may not under any circumstances suggest that Pagans should engage in interfaith dialogue with Satanists. Fairy’s, Goblins, Vampires and Wolves are fine, just not Satanists. If you do, you will be tarred and feathered on Facebook.
Conclusion? Don’t allow bigots and haters to shift you from your chartered course. Only you know its true worth. That is all anyone needs to know. The collective voice of a million Pagans will not silence Truth, Justice, or the Common Good. Step boldly into your own future. You are your own leader, every one of You!