Antipodean Witch: Weaving the craft down under
General Blog Description: Exploring Southern Hemisphere neo-pagan practice and culture from the point of view of a progressive witch living south of Perth, Western Australia.
Meet the Pagan Bogan, or, the 'Pogan'
Before one decides to make the big leap and attend their first pagan event, one's imagination conjures up all sorts of images about the sorts of people they will meet and the experiences they will have. If you're prepared to eliminate any romantic notions and be realistic about the people you might meet, you will do well. An open mind and tolerant spirit is the best attitude to adapt as there are going to be people who, regretfully in some ways, snugly fit into stereotypes which might be a little too familiar. For the Australian pagan that stereotype is going to be: the bogan. Bogans love witchcraft, Wicca and paganism and are drawn to it, like moths to a flame. Because of this, you might find you are swamped by bogans at pagan events, a horrifying prospect for an inner city, soy-chai-latte-sipping hipster witch.
Bogans are firmly entrenched in Australian culture and their kin are the 'rednecks' in the U.S. or perhaps 'chavs' in the U.K. They are symptomatic of middle-class white cultural cringe but mostly I think bogan identification is harmless and taken with a good shake of humour. The Things Bogans Like website tells us that "the bogan today defies income, class, race, creed, gender or logic". The negative aspects of the stereotype, such as willful lack of education or general racism (in the form of cultural appropriation) and bigotry, unfortunately does make an appearance in the pagan bogan, or as very artfully coined by Galloway of the excellent blog Galloway & Daracha, the 'pogan'.
The pogan can be identified by their 'Magic Happens' sticker that is situated on the rear window of their car, and their impressive array of paraphernalia and knick-knacks cemented by the very large pentagram swinging proudly from their chest. Adorable, really: until the conversations begin. Wide-eyed and fluffy-tailed, the pogan sometimes has a little misinformation under their belts that can be easily corrected in the newly-minted Pogan who is as absorbent as a sponge, or will be met with a stubborn 'digging in' by the stale, entrenched pogan whose beliefs are not going to change, no matter what. And they will happily (and loudly) debate with you around the camp fire all night long while the pile of cigarette butts and Bundie & Coke empties slowly stack up next to their eight dollar camp chair which they have no budged from all night.
The pogan seems to have an amazing amount of cash. These Cashed Up Bogans or CUBS might have partners who benefit from inflated salaries from the mining boom or could even be FIFO (Fly-In, Fly-Out) workers themselves. Unfortunately due to this, the pogan has difficulty dedicating serious time to spiritual study or group work as they are incredibly busy creatures. They are constantly in Bali for the tri-annual family holiday and will happily talk about their transformative spiritual experience whilst there, but in reality they probably spent the whole time whaled-out by the pool or hitting the crooked streets in the thongs and Bintang singlets looking for the best deal on pirated True Blood DVDs. But when they are in town, they will slap a heap of cash down on every resin statue of the Goddess that money can buy. Walk into the pogan abode and you will most certainly have a whole house and garden decked out in so much pagan bling there will not be room to stand up straight. Like I said, endearing; but once pressed seriously about their practice you might get blank looks. Australian pogans love Native American everything, and detached as they are from the political environment, will happily populate their houses with as many dream catchers as possible, and are often seen wearing the ubiquitous '3 Wolf Moon' t-shirt.
Ironically, there is one thing they are often certain about: Christians. Stole. Everything. The vitriol you will encounter when covering this topic is baffling, especially given how little power the Christian church has in Australia compared to other countries. The pogan will happily celebrate Halloween twice a year however, once in October and once more in May. Any excuse to crack out the fabulous witchy plastic junk they bought en masse from Red Dot! Their spawn are found on the streets at this time decked out in panne velvet and terrible face paint, begging for lollies from perplexed folk who have no idea where these children came from or what they are up to, as they shake their heads and close the door. Pogans have a rigorous Sabbat celebration regime and will immediately post their Bright Blessings on Facebook. They are great at spreading memes and awful graphics reminding us that Karma Is A Bitch and the oft-misquoted Marilyn Munroe is one of their patron saints. Their after circle feast might be McDonalds, Red Rooster or Pizza, and one too many Tim Tams are usually consumed during study group. You will not find a Pogan at the gym, but you might find them riding horses on an outer suburban back lot or faithfully supporting their AFL team. Another mecca for the pogan, especially the female variety, is the P!nk Concert. P!nk is possibly the closest equivalent to the Goddess come to earth for Australian pagan bogans, and her message about empowerment, fighting, and yelling while hanging from a ceiling while dancers in tracksuits crump around her is a message that strikes close to home for the Pogan.
But really the pogan is likely to be a 'diamond in the rough' and before the hipster pagan turns up their nose based on first impressions they might realise that the Pogan might even defy some of the stereotypes and be one of the most genuine pagans they meet. Unpretentious, the pogan is not bothered at all by our opinions of them, and we can all learn from that. They are not hippy haters, but hippy lovers, and this makes them the best flavour of bogan on the bogan spectrum, which is varied and complex. They are also the most fun flavour of pagan, and their loud laughter and inclusive nature can make pagan gatherings raucous experiences. They might even try your salad and be reminded to recycle all those empties, and they can be relied upon to always get the fire burning bright. Have you hugged your local pogan today?
(Disclaimer: this article was written in the spirit of satire and good humour, and a small amount of introspection as I embrace my own blended bogan and hipster heritage).
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