Monday, February 28, 2011

And I Was Initiated by the Real Robin Hood

In Sherwood Forest.

On Beltane.

The Moon was Full and the Ley Lines were activated. The sex was amazing. So you should listen to me and follow everything that I say.


I loves me my Pagan pipple, I do. (OK, I love some of you much better from a distance, but, really, it's me; it's not you.)

But we are, in an odd way for a group so devoted to the notion that "an ye harm none, do as ye will," a guilt-haunted people. There are shadows that we haven't even begun to deal with because they are such deep shadows that we don't even see them as shadows. It shows up in the absolute inability of any Pagan, anywhere, at any time, to ever speak to any member of the media without bleating, unwarranted and unasked, "And we don't murder babies or worship Satan. Really!" I've said (and will continue to say) enough about that.

This weekend, at a delightful Pagan conference, I realized that we have another, very similar, tick. We apparently are constitutionally incapable of discussing the facts that we are creating religion and religious practice as we go, that we generally engage in a delightful syncretism (which I adore), and that, even when we attempt reconstruction, we are, even so, "making all things new," without ALWAYS having to genuflect and say, "Of course, it's fine, unless you pretend that you found it in an ancient grimoire or were initiated by your grandmother when you weren't." Two of the most brilliant and wonderfully Witchy presenters I spoke with felt the need to offer this advice, even though, of course, no one suspects either of them of any such thing.

You know, I've been a Witch for well over two decades, and I have never met anyone who told those lies. I am given to understand that in the late 1960s, early to mid 1970s, some people did tell those lies. I can, I think, understand why they might have done so (and I may write about that later), but I've been a practicing Witch for a long, long time and I've never run into anyone who told me that they were initiated by their grandmother or Gerald Gardner or an old woman living alone in a forest. Nowadays, people join traditions, create new traditions with abandon, hive off, combine traditions ("I'm a Witch and a Theosophist, a Witch and a Buddhist, a Witch and a priest of Bast, a Reclaiming, Fairie, RadFaey Death Priestess, etc." I love it. Let a million flowers bloom.) No one feels the need to pretend that they're revealing ancient secrets.

So why do we need to keep genuflecting and apologizing for the sins (if they were sins) of Pagans who blazed trails (sometimes pretending they were literally, rather than poetically, discovering, old trails) decades ago? Let's stop this. I think we all get it. It's wrong to lie about the literal origins of any practice or tradition. But no one is doing that, these days. We don't need to keep expunging the mistakes of our progenitors.

Picture found here.

1 comment:

Makarios said...

I suspect that the "we're not Satanists" and the "don't lie about your lineage" themes are intended to be a form of what Quintilian called confutatio, if I remember correctly. It is employed by trial counsel, as I'm sure you know. If one of counsel's own witnesses can give evidence that is unfavourable to his/her case, counsel will elicit this evidence on direct examination, where it can be canvassed in a "friendly" fashion, rather than allowing it to be raised by opposing counsel on cross.

This is a valid tactic in a forum that is adversarial, and where the obejctive is persuasion. Where the objective is supposedly exposition, however, it can be self-defeating, as you have so ably pointed out.