I've always respected the Witches Voice for the invaluable services it provides to the Wiccan (and greater Pagan) community. However, I've also always taken much of its content with a huge grain of salt as well, as it tends to be more of a clearing house for kooks and neo-hippies more than anything else. But every once in a while, somehow the censors slip and some much needed critiquing of our community, or even common sense slips in (just kidding about the 'censors' thing, Wren, Fritz, and Co.). Here is an article which I found of interest as of late, reprinted in it's entirety from the original source:Paganism - You're OK with us.
Author: Gaelyn Thorne
I've spent the better part of the last 18 years of my life studying, following, and leading in the pagan communities in which I have lived. I have seen numerous different covens, groves, paths, lodges etc. spring up and thrive. I have met hundreds if not thousands of wonderful people who are all intelligent, caring, and quick witted and amazing all around. I would not trade those experiences for anything.
As with all things I have seen the opposite, I have met fundamentalists, bigots, racists, posers, and people who in my humble honest opinion need to seek out some professional mental help. These are fewer and far between but it gives paganism a sour taste in my mouth sometimes.
There seems to be a cycle that I have noticed. For those of us who come from a Judeo-Christian perspective on our way into Paganism, there seem to be a lot of animosity towards the religion that we left, whether it was Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic etc. Terms such as "Stupid Sheep", "Dead man on a stick" and others which are much worse seem to pop up when talking to people who are angry, or disillusioned, or upset with their former teachers, pastor, lovers, whatever.
These people spend an amazing amount of energy on fueling the fires of a war that doesn't exist.
That's right boys and girls; there is no war between them and us. Truth be told 95% of Christians don't even know what we are besides what they watched on Charmed 5 years ago. The 5% that is left 98% of those don't give a flying fig about us. 2% of those are like Jerry Fallwell, and Pat Roberson, or the "concerned moral right." But we insist on creating this conspiracy against us that consumes us and makes us fearful or feel righteous in our HATE of another person or group of people.
If we believe that anyone can believe whatever they wish, if we are accepting of all faiths, why is it that some of us are so against a path that a Christian chooses to walk? Isn't it time we let go of the past and walk to the future?
But now it comes to the topic of what about OUR choice of Spirituality? We have so many different paths now that it is sometimes hard to see any structure within the Greater community. We are inundated with Eclecticism with a belief that you can believe and do things whatever way you wish?
Sure we have the Established Traditions Alexandrian, Gardnerian, and Georgian etc. These are paths that have been around for a lot longer than most and have established themselves as valid paths within Wicca. But yet I have seen animosity towards these paths because they are too structured, because they keep secrets, because they won't just let anyone in. I am not sure if people understand this or not but the study of Paganism is a study in Spirituality, a Study in self-control and discipline, and a study in finding the path to empower oneself. There are mysteries out there, and they are not for everyone.
So we come to the paths that are made up on the fly. Ones that make no sense from a Magical point of view, or even a logical point of view, let alone ones that make no sense spirituality, but we accept them. But why do we accept them? Is it because we are so afraid of saying "umm that's not right" and looking like the respective churches that we left. Or is it because we believe that no matter what you believe it's OK with us?
What if I believe that I am actually part Dragon? Well we do have other kin no harm there as long as you're not trying to set sheep on fire. What if I believe that I was Cleopatra and Julius Caesar in a former life? There are even theories on how that is possible now. What if I believe that is ok to harm children? Or that blood sacrifice is fine as long as the sacrifice is willing?
Absurd! There is no way we could ever accept that! But every path is valid, and I know that "An it harm none do what thou will" is running through quite a few minds right now, Great theory, Great ideal for Wiccans but what if a person isn't Wiccan? Then the Rede does not apply to them, and if we try and make it apply to them then... well are we any better than the church we left?
A line has to be drawn somewhere. Do I believe anyone in their right mind would follow a path like the last two examples that I used? No, however not everyone is in their right mind. And there are people out there who are mentally disturbed running around in our community. There is in every community. We all can say there is a line; there is a limit to what we will accept and what we won't accept. But at the rate we are going with the blanket of total acceptance for any belief any path, any way of thinking when will we reach the edge of our tolerance, and what will we do when we get there? Whether we accept it or not there has to be some level of organization within our communities, if there isn't it is just a spiral a spiral that will spin us into complete and total Chaos.
We need leaders, teachers, students who are willing to listen and follow some rules. We need a system where if you know of a dangerous individual you can let your community know. Smaller communities need to set up standards of what they will accept and what they will not, it is no huge change to things, if your community, group etc. is a very family friendly group *like mine* then you obviously do not want people who might be a danger to kids. I am not saying we should be distrustful of strangers but get to know people before inviting them to a ritual at your house, or to that party you've wanted to have.
Make a stand. Draw a line.
Maybe we will start getting on the right track after all....
Note: For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that Gaelyn Thorne, the author of the above article, identifies specifically as a pagan, and not as a Wiccan.