Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Save the Last Word for Me

Got myself into an online altercation with a peevish young miss--let's call her Gertie--of the Pantheistic Pagan persuasion.

In all honesty, Pantheism bugs me not: God is everything, everything is God, fine by me. I'll admit that Pantheistic Paganism gives me pause, if only because I can't quite get my brain around calling oneself Pagan while asserting that Gods don't actually exist. But hey, that's my solar cross to bear. Besides, I'm an ordained Spiritual Humanist, so, you know, welcome to my big, roomy glass house. I polished all the windows m'self.

Beliefs is beliefs am beliefs. I'm not going to foist my personal religious worldview [there are Gods, and I venerate some of them] on anyone who's not into foisting, nor am I going to harangue someone else's perception of the Divine without provocation. Or at least without some solid secondary sources backing me up.

Gertie, on the other hand... well, let's just say ol' Gert feels a might different 'bout these things.

Our skirmish took place (as always) on a local e-mail list devoted to Things Wicca, after a newcomer asked for feedback on effective circle casting. Before anyone could offer so much as an incense recommendation, Gertie jumped in to Set The Record Straight:

Gertie - "Don't waste time with all that ceremonial stuff. Casting a circle is never necessary, ever."

Me - "Well, that's certainly one way of looking at it. But it's good to keep in mind that the Circle itself is a key element of Wiccan practice."

Gertie - "I just said it's not necessary."

Me (taking a stab at compromise) - "And for you, perhaps it's not. Which is cool. Different traditions call for different ritual approaches."

Gertie - "Nothing you say applies to me."

Me - "Okay. No problem, then."

Gertie - "I'm not going to sit here and argue with you."

Me - "Um...que?"

Gertie - "You suck. And the Gods are metaphors."

At that, I let the conversation drop. Part of not being foisty is realizing when you're facing a mindset that ain't gonna budge, no matter how big of a psychic crowbar you're wielding.

What the Gerties of the Pagan World don't understand is that the New doesn't have to denigrate the Old to achieve validity. Co-existence can be a downright beautiful thing, once you try it on and walk around in it for a bit.

I truly wish they'd understand this. Because if they did, I wouldn't have to field so many backchannel e-mails that start with, "Wow, Gertie's a real bitch."

8 comments:

Diana Luciano Grayfox said...

I've run into similar situations on other lists. You did the best thing possible, in my opinion, and maintained your dignity. Too many times I have seen situations like this cascade down into the depths of pettiness reminiscent of grade school. Keep up the good work!

Evn said...

Thanks for the kind words. I've been working on diplomacy. (But you should have seen me a couple of years ago; I was like a feral kitten.)

Anne Johnson said...

Imagine being told that you suck on a religious chat! You'd think you asked her to root for the Eagles, and she lives in Dallas.

Code Name Sarah said...

Tolerance is soooooo last year.

And "feral cat" is a good way to put it, I think. That's why I always want to draft you for Teh Flame Warz.

Ten-hut, soldier!

Mertseger said...

That's interesting. I'd consider myself and most of my fellow initiates in The Third Road to be pantheists. It appears from your link that there's a specific Tradition that's calling itself Pantheist Paganism that are asserting things about pantheism that are debatable to say the least.

As I understand the term, pantheism is the belief that that everything in the Universe is Goddess. The physical Universe is part of the Goddess and is contained within Her. But She is the physical Universe and more. There's nothing in the definition of pantheism precluding other non-corporeal beings from residing within Her or along side her or beyond Her. Thus, there is nothing in the term "pantheism" that necessitates "... that God's don't actually exist". Perhaps, that's a tenet of the specific tradition called Pantheistic Paganism or the ruse person you ran into, but it's hardly a logical necessity. I believe in the existence multiple Gods an Goddesses in much the same way that I believe that multiple people exist: there seems to be ample evidence for it.

Evn said...

I believe in the existence multiple Gods an Goddesses in much the same way that I believe that multiple people exist: there seems to be ample evidence for it.

Mertseger, well said. And it does seem that the Pantheistic Pagan movement described on the site represents a specific tradition v. a philisophical worldview.

That said, J. found some stuff on the site that clicked with him, even if he was not a big fan of the author's tone. A little to condescending towards other belief systems for his tastes (and mine).

Ace said...

Pantheism is the belief that the Universe is sacred, holy and divine and that God or Goddess is all, the belief in seperate deities is not Pantheism by definition, it is polytheism or Panentheism but people are going to believe what they want to be believe.

As far as casting circles, no, They arent needed, I have never cast a circle in my life and I wouldnt say they are an intergral part of Wicca which can be highly eclectic.

The basic components of Wicca is worship of God and Goddess, the Wiccan rede, the law of return, The practice of Magic, No personal Gain aka waiting for doors to open and Sacred Ritual days.

How one cleanses their home, how one does Magic or ritual, How one celebrates is up to them.

Evn said...

Ace, if you get a chance, check out a book called Elements of Ritual by Deborah Lipp. You may find it useful.