A Pyrate Perspective
The thoughts and feelings of a Pirate Wiccan on Pagan issues and community.
Today in my Facebook feed I came across many people who expressed the following sentiment, which I am summing up with Devin Hunter’s (of The Modern Witch Podcast) post about our recent outbreak of people questioning Pagan identity.
“This pagan identity crisis thing is ridiculous. This is what people spend their [time] on? Not helping to educate? Not helping to take care of our elderly and families in need? Not participating in the betterment of the community? This community is wonderful at keeping its self distracted while everyone else passes it by. I'm my own definition of Pagan, and I for one would hate it if you tried to define it for me. I won't define it for you.”
We are a young community. I feel that many people are content to remain hidden under a rock, communicating anonymously, which modern technology allows them to do. But if we want to build community, we can’t remain this way. And I also think that people are missing the point: we aren’t trying to define “you”. We are working to define “us,” and what makes up “our” community. Unfortunately this takes time, disagreement and most importantly, communication between people of vastly differing views.
Teo Bishop wants us to “Be Nice”. Discussions like this aren’t always polite and measured. Discussions like this often “upset the apple cart”. They make people think. Sometimes that is simply not a pleasant process. For the most part, I think people try to be polite, but we are arguing over issues that can be extremely upsetting on all sides.
In the midst of this discussion, I’ve seen a lot of people simply say that there is no community, so who cares and what’s the point anyway?
Personally, I want there to be a community. As a Pagan I want it to be recognized that there are different people who live in this society, and to make sure that I have resources available to me that take that into account. I think the Pagan Health Survey that Jason Pitzl-Waters discussed on The Wild Hunt is a good example. Without a community to stand up and say that we’re members of the greater society, things like this wouldn’t exist. This is one of the reasons I blog.
I think blogging often gets trivialized; we’re just individuals on our own soap boxes, right? Shouldn’t we be out there doing something “constructive”?
But I do educate. Not just in my coven and in my local community (in which I am very active), but through my blogs. My opinionated blogs.
As a blogger, I’m particularly lucky. Unlike most, I’m in a position to travel the length of the U.S. and to talk to all sorts of different people. I think it’s a part of my duty to make sure that I carry the conversation wherever I go. Conversation is how we change and grow.
Communication is key: we no longer live in a time where you have to hide the fact that you practice something that might get you burned at the stake. We have easy access to books, we can communicate with people across the globe from us instantly, and we can share our views.
Most of us do this because we love it. We love to discuss issues that might make people uncomfortable. We provide an invaluable source of information to those of you out there who don’t like to write, or do not want to be criticized for saying things that people disagree with, or who don't have the time, or the many other various reasons that people cite. Not all of us where born to write, but for some of us it is both a love and a duty.
In the next few weeks, I expect to be receiving my own initiation. In my particular tradition, to reach any higher degrees, you are expected to serve your community, to donate your time and to help educate. Blogging is one way in which I do this, where I know that I make an impact on people in our community.
My personal blog had fifteen thousand readers last year. These numbers may not be significant by some of the bigger blogger’s standards, but seriously, think about that for a second. I managed to tell 15,000 people about what I think, and I have been able to influence those peoples' conversations. I’ve written blogs with information about my tradition, about magical tools, occult history, recipes, instructions on household magic and ritual, posted pictures of events that I attend, written about my experiences at those events, given my opinion on news pieces and posted news bulletins for my community.
I write three different blogs. I sat down and tallied it all up for last year. If you put all of my blogs together, I would have written an 80,000 word book with all of my different blog entries.
I do this on top of a full time job and my active involvement in my coven and in my community. I travel to festivals and gatherings throughout the year as well.
I do not get paid to do this. I’m not asking to be paid either. I’m content to do this, and not only because I find it interesting, but because I regard it as my service to my community.
How is this not constructive?
You may not like us, you may find us obnoxious, obtuse, annoying, too loud and in your face, but it’s because of people like me who are willing to donate their time to talk about issues that our community has that many more people are aware of those issues than at any other time in history.
If you don’t like the argument that people are currently having, chime in and say something. Change the discussion. Redirect to where you think it should be going. If we can do it, so can you. We don’t have all the answers, but maybe, together our "community" does.
I’ll leave you with some words from one of my heroes, Amanda Palmer, in conclusion:
it absolutely fucking thrilled me to see that the majority of quotes in the article were pulled not from me, but from actual comments posted on the blog.
the comments themselves, which were so brave, compassionate, well-written (even poetic in some cases), and generally enlightened, were finally being hailed as a phenomenon in themselves. not ME, but US. THIS.
when i say WE ARE THE MEDIA, this is what i mean.
the internet can be the most empowering tool in the world to create a level playing field of voices, as long as the voices are sane, articulate, believable.
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