I saw an interesting post today about making alliances, how and why it is ok to make alliances with people we disagree with, and the distinction between alliances and community, especially in relation to the Pagan community. It had some valid and lucid points to make, though I had an underlying mixed feeling about it. After having attended the Pagan Pride Parade on Sunday, that also left me with some mixed feelings, even though it was a positive event.
I just feel wary of getting more involved with the Pagan community again, and maybe it is because it is more of an alliance than a community, and an alliance is always somewhat political, and politics always ends up really sucking.
If there was no “Pagan” label, what would I have lost? I would still have occultism and mysticism. There would be divination, earth mysteries, dowsing, magic. There would be love of Nature. There would be art, and the valuation of sexuality. There would be the paranormal and poetry. There would probably be a means of getting together with other people on those interests and pursuits too.
The one thing I would feel like I would had lost out on is the sincere interaction with other polytheists, maybe the experienced realization of polytheism itself. I needed other Pagans to help me recognize myself and the nature of my own experience. And I got most of that via the internet in fact, though not all of it. And there were times when I was helped, and hope I helped others. And there were some shared celebrations, when the tide was high, and more importantly friends that I do not forget.
In terms of my “community”, well that is a number of people physically, and a wider circle virtually, who I actually have meaningful relationships and bonds with. By no means are most of them Pagan. Some of them are local to us, some not. But they are real relationships. Which is why I am a bit nonplussed when big name Pagan “elders” say they deserve support as elders from “the community” at large. Most people have actual dependants and cares to look after, and while I can sympathize with anyone in hard times (and by all means do ask for help), being an author or public figure doesn’t make someone your dad, or your neighbour. That’s just how it works. But if you have money to spare, of course it’s fine to do your favourite author a favour. But I just don’t feel that Pagans at large are my actual community, or that the Paganism that others have crafted is mine. Sometimes I feel like the assumptions of a previous generation just no longer hold, certainly not for me, and it seems for quite a few other people too. Sometimes I feel like I am watching the agreements of old activist hippies, young hipsters and academics, when as far as I am concerned, the bubble has already burst. It’s not always just the nature of the “community” that you draw back from, sometimes it’s the assumptions of the “alliance”.
Much as I enjoyed Pagan Pride, support it and will go again, at the end of the day I have come to really appreciate having gone my own way over the last few years. But then that’s part of why it is good to experience things for yourself. You learn something either way.
I do love all the independent, alternative voices there are out there, and I really love having the internet to make the contact possible. There are so many small voices that I find valuable. In fact sometimes it is a small voice that has made the biggest difference.
Everyone counts, and you are all stars.