Monday, August 23, 2010

Stop It. Because, When You Hurt Yourself, I Will Laugh*

I'm going to say this again. Pagans, please quit perpetuating stereotypes about our religions. I don't care how well-intentioned you may be. Do NOT tell interviewers:

“We don’t sacrifice goats in the middle of the field,” Driscoll said.

And for that matter, there’s no dancing in the nude. No flying broomsticks. No wiggling of the nose to get things done. And no devil worshipping (pagans don’t believe in the devil).

Please. It's long past time for you to say those things. If, and I mean only if, the interviewer is so stupid, crass, ignorant, and/or prejudiced as to ask if you, for example, "sacrifice goats in the middle of the field," or worship devils, then give them "the" look and say "Of course not. Do you ask Jews if matzo is made from the bones of xian children? Then why would you ask me if Pagans worship the devil?" Come on; do you think the local Catholic church meets the reporter outside the annual St. Anthony's Bingo Day and Bake Sale and announces that their priests don't molest children?

And you know, at least be accurate. Some of us do dance in the nude. (I'll be at a skyclad ritual tomorrow on the Full Moon.) Some Pagans, particularly of the African Diaspora, may well sacrifice animals, in or out of the middle of the field. So proclaiming that Pagans don't do those things, when they demonstrably do, leaves your other defensive announcements, such as not worshipping the devil, up for doubt. (PS: They illustrated your comment about how we don't fly around on broomsticks with a picture of a woman sampling . . . brooms on sale at your event.)

Yes, Pagan Pride Day can help others to learn about our religion. Explain what Pagans ARE about. Explain how your local group raised funds for homeless animals, adopted a strip of highway to clean up, or collected canned food for flood victims. Discuss our reverence for nature, our focus on experience vs. faith, our inclination to honor the ancestors. There's a lot to say about us that doesn't begin, "We don't really . . . ."
Teacats suggested in comments to my last post on this topic that someone develop a set of Talking Points for events such as Pagan Pride Day. I'm willing to bet that work has been done several times. If anyone's aware of such a resource, please post it in comments. This nonsense has got to stop, no matter how well-meaning the involved Pagans may be.

Props to the author of the article for capitalizing the names of Pagan religions.

Picture found here.

*OK, I won't really laugh; because this behavior hurts all of us. But that's my standard saying at work when people do things they should know better than to do.


RetroKali said...

I agree, it is much better to say what we DO do, than what we don't.Especially in a public forum, or in print. But I disagree that most people know that pagans don't worship the devil. It depends on where you live....I live in the rural south and you wouldn't BELIEVE the ignorance here.

Teacats said...

Yes .... I must agree with RetroKali thoughts! And I live in the south too! I thought about this thorny issue last night as I fell asleep -- and frankly -- the biggest problem that our community faces is our perceived image today.

Look at the up-to-date media -- TV shows like "Supernatural"; "True Blood" or even "Pillars of the Earth" -- all portray Witches (although the character in "Pillars" is more of a local healer and herb-worker) as a source of evil or evil works. Even when their characters are pretty and sexy -- their essential works are evil. And must be stopped. Great stuff for TV dramas -- but certainly does NOT stop the basic questions about our community.

So why are we NOT protesting such images? Because we want to be "set apart" from society OR because it is "cool" to be a rebel???? (these are just discussion points dealing with stereotypical images ... NOT dismissal of all of our choices)

Sorry -- but I believe that we are still near to the starting line .... and to get further down the Path ... well ... we need to create better and widely-available P.R. and have a group of P.R. information that details EACH part of our community.

For example: If Witches can be Wiccan and Wiccan do not HAVE to be Witches .... then how do we describe our OWN section/part of the Pagan/NeoPagan/Heathen community???

Whirling, swirling thoughts plagued me all night -- and then even more thoughts this morning! LOL! :)

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

City Wiccan said...

Good point! I think it would be much more positive to reinforce what we do rather than to detract with sensationalist stuff about what we don't do. :)