Community of individuals

Just what is it that the Pagan community is? What do they want? What do they dream of? What do they share?

I want to talk about that thing called "Pagan community."

I am a Macintosh user. This week was the annual "pilgrimage of the faithful," Macworld in San Francisco. I know what the Macintosh community is. I know that most of us are convinced that the Macintosh is the best computer available for the money. I know that we think Apple makes some of the best and hottest consumer electronics out there. But beyond that, I know very little about Mac users.

People think that Mac users are all liberals, But Rush Limbaugh is one of the most vocal Macintosh advocates. People think that Mac users are terribly creative. But my three doors down neighbor accountant uses Macintosh because it doesn't crash on him.

I don't know how Mac users vote. I don't know what Mac users drive. I don't know how many kids Mac users have. I don't know what pets Mac users have.

I don't know their sexual preference. I don't know what they eat on Friday nights. I don't know what music they like. I don't know what they wear. I don't know their education level. I don't know their fitness level. I don't know if I could trust them.

I don't even know which Macintosh computer they own.

I don't know anything about people in the Mac community except that they use Macintosh computers.

Macintosh computers are pretty much the closest thing that there has ever been to a religion based on a product line, and I can't tell you squat about the definitive Mac user other than they use Macintosh.

I can answer those questions for some Mac users, but only because I know them individually.

There are other communities out there. For example, take the United States Marine Corps.

The Corps has a tradition, once a Marine, always a Marine. Their esprit de corps is legendary, and well earned. The USMC has the reputation of being some of the toughest, most honorable people you could ever hope to meet.

But I can't tell you anything about Marines other than they are Marines. I can't answer those questions for Marines generally, I can only answer for Marines I have known. Like my stepbrother.

These communities are much better defined than the "Pagan community."

Starhawk is a very influential Pagan author. She helped popularize the idea of "power with vs. power over." An amazing lady and my hat is off to her. But I don't agree with her emphasis of the feminine over the masculine. It works for her, I won't deny it. I can't deny it. But it doesn't work for me, I believe in balance rather than one pole dominating.

Isaac Bonewits should be celebrated for his Cult Danger Evaluation Frame alone. Real Magic should be required reading for any student studying magickal theory. But he and I don't agree on many politics, and we have argued about it.

To please a certain Pagan lady, I tried vegetarianism for a while. It didn't work, I started craving blood and flesh in my dreams. So I had to go back to eating meat.

Yet every one of these ideas has been advanced as a pillar of modern Neopaganism.

I've commented before about the split I see happening, how some individuals and groups are pulling back into the mist. For various reasons, they aren't comfortable with a highly visible, public, and accessible Paganism. There are times I know exactly how they feel. They won't be forced into sharing something very intimate and personal.

Because of the magickal aspects, Paganism draws more than it's fair share of power seekers. Some of them are even legitimate. I've experimented with the left-hand path myself in my early days. Should these people be denied a place in Paganism when the SRW wannabes claim a place?

Given the fact that I am an argumentative, meat-eating, libertarian, straight male with a tendency to cause trouble, does the "Pagan community" include me?

Do we include the people who don't want to be included?

Do we exclude people who don't "deserve" it?

That brings us to an interesting question.

What makes a Pagan?

I am not sure I have an answer anymore. The old ones don't work.

And if we can't define a Pagan, how can we define a Pagan community?

I think it comes down to choice.

Individual choice.

Posted: Thu - January 11, 2007 at 09:58 PM
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