Pagan, Heal Thyself

Some lament that the Pagan movement has failed to heal the world, failed to forestall human-made climate change and prevent abuse and oppression. A related complaint, usually made at the same time, is that other Pagans are self-absorbed. Others aren’t serious about their practice, the charge goes, as evidenced by the facts that they focus on caring for themselves, and that they’ve neglected to join the (usually male) complainant’s online community or sign their petition.

That’s a lot to take on, more than what I can fully explore in a single blog post. But to choose just one thing: it’s important to understand that other people aren’t always like you.

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It seems reasonable, to think that most Pagans value Earth’s ecological integrity, and that they’re alarmed about the consequences of climate change. But Paganism is a diverse movement. Others may have different goals than you do, or they may genuinely struggle to put their ideals into practice. For some Pagan practitioners, simply caring for themselves and their families and performing their paying jobs takes massive effort. Also, not all Pagans, not even all Pagans practicing within the same Pagan tradition, are the same. If you can’t avoid judging others, at least judge them as individuals, not as stereotypes.

Something to try, in case you’re wounded by the shortcomings and self-absorption of other Pagans: take on the perspective of a Pagan who is different than you. It could be someone from a different social class, someone with a different skin color, gender identity, or sexual orientation, a Pagan who holds different metaphysical commitments than you do, or whose practice is based in a different tradition. Not sure what their situation or approach to Paganism is really like? Only read about it in books and blogs? Ask an open-ended question to find out more, and take care to do more listening than talking in response.

Something else to try, in case you’re wounded by the shortcomings and self-absorption of other Pagans: reflect on how well your own practice aligns with your Pagan values and principles. Is mitigating the impacts of human-caused climate change an important part of your Pagan practice? I hope you’re composting, and that you don’t travel by plane or eat meat!

It’s not helpful to condemn other people for being bad Pagans. Want to heal our society’s relationship with the living, breathing world?

Pagan, heal thyself.

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5 comments

  1. I get where you are coming from. One should clean one’s own house first of course. But there is also more than a little room for reflection and correction in the pagan community.

    Like

  2. One of the first rules of interfaith dialogue is, don’t compare your ideals with someone else’s practice. Compare ideals with ideals and practices with practices. The same should apply to intrafaith dialogue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think those (usually male) folks are setting up a straw Paganism and a straw Pagan to rage at. You are correct, that it needs to start within before it goes without. I believe that people who do rage at others are usually raging at something in themselves. It is easier to be mad at someone else for not doing what you want them to do, than to admit you are selfish in someway. It is easier to glom on to a cause and use that cause to deal with personal issues. This is a part of being human.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This: “For some Pagan practitioners, simply caring for themselves and their families and performing their paying jobs takes massive effort”. Not everyone has the ability, time, money, or personality to get involved in direct political action, but simply living openly as a Pagan, honouring the Earth as and when we can, is itself an act of resistance and “being the change” in the world.

    I think that part of the problem comes from looking at “Paganism” as one thing, when of course as you point out it is many complex and interwoven things.

    Liked by 1 person

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