I’m going to make some comments in this post that are absolutely not the views of every Pagan in the world. These comments are not the important part of this post, they are simply a way to make a point, so try to keep the commentary away from the obviously skewed views I am giving.
The world sees the Pagan community as childish and silly. I do not view myself as childish or silly. I don’t view the people that I practice with as childish and silly, and I doubt that any of my fellow Pagans truly think of themselves as childish or silly. On the other hand, turn the tables for a second and let me paint you a picture.
You see a group of people who claim to be able to control the weather, make people fall in love, and talk to invisible creatures. They claim that they hear things that no one else can hear, can see pretty colors around people, and think that the Earth (one of billions and billions of planets) is their chief deity. Now, these people rarely have jobs which keep them above the poverty line. They are unhealthy (though one of their chief tenets is healthy living), do massive amounts of drugs (again with the healthy living…), and are most commonly 14 year old girls who do poorly in school and are less than prudish.
These same people have no organizational structure, can’t truly explain the basic tenets of their religion, have no true traditions that extend past about 100 years ago, and have no true holy books (oh yeah, other than the ones that they write themselves), and the authors that make all of their money marketing this “religion” are their primary community leaders…couldn’t forget that one.
They get together under the full moon once a month to have communion with their deity of choice (which they stole from about a hundred different cultures who all had their own belief systems), oftentimes completely nude, have rituals that involve orgies or at least one couple having sex in front of the group, and have no other regular group meeting. At these “rituals” they wear cloaks that reminiscent of a Harry Potter movie and wave “magic” wands around. Now, they don’t do “magic” daily, just at these “rituals” where everyone’s naked. What kind of entertainment do these people have in their daily lives? Reading fantasy fiction, smoking pot, watching Lord of the Rings incessantly and watching movies on DVD (probably from the library because they have a $200 late fee at Blockbuster because they were too high or lazy to return the movies) Oh yeah, and don’t forget how often they complain about how horrible and stupid Christians are because of course this path is far more “enlightened”.
Now compare that to the next picture.
Think about a group that meets twice a week in a well established meeting place. People put on their best clothes (oftentimes suits and dresses) and are extremely polite. The priest or preacher has no other job other than to minister to the people of his church, and he takes it upon himself to help them in nearly all of their problems if asked. The church has food drives, raises money for the poor, and has community outreach projects.
All members of the church donate to the church monetarily. They help support the foundation of their belief with both time and large sums of money. There is little drama, and the church holds youth programs to keep the youngsters out of trouble. The church preaches about morals, tries to keep teens from getting pregnant, and has a tradition of at least 600 years to rely on.
There is a clear hierarchy, nearly all of the members are prominent members of their community, and most of the members are considered “good people” by the majority of the community. Prison inmates that turn to their belief system oftentimes are rehabilitated more by the religion than by the prison system. Their culture values goodness for the entire community as well as goodness to the body, and most of the members actively pursue these things.
The children are taught that they must pray every night as well as every meal. They do this every day. They go to church every Sunday, and oftentimes keep their drinking to a minimum in order to do so. They are respectable citizens who dress so that they are not ostracized from their communities (hence how they are able to actually help people in their community). 98% of the leaders of our country have been of their belief, and at least 80% of the community leaders follow their beliefs as well. They have a single book that was written over a thousand years ago that they have continuously followed. Every member of their faith can tell you the basics of the belief system.
Now, which one is the silly religion? Which one is the ignorant one?
How many of you have actually done some sort of religious action 4 times a day every day for 10 years? How many of you have actually donated 10% of your income to your group? How many of you have sat and worshiped for an hour three times a week every week for a year?
We say that the Christian faith is the easy religion, but I really can’t see how we can say that.
It’s not just the faith where we’re taking the easy road. We run away from society instead of working to change society. We rarely if ever try to make any kind of impact in the world. This year is the first time that a Pagan has held any kind of public office. If we have any hope of changing the rest of the world’s perception of us, we have to become more than a rag-tag bunch of people who are only magickal when we get dressed up in our cloaks (or undressed) at the full-moon.