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So after having written the Mormon/Halstead set and my thoughts on Folmer’s “Elders” post, as well as the comments, I find myself sitting back and thinking over some of the stuff I’ve seen. It’s brought to mind a problem that seems to run throughout humanity, but has stretched back into the whole “theistic” wars with Halstead. It also runs into Lucius’s Law.

We have a problem with people believing differently from us.

Oh sure, we in Paganism generally going about not caring if you’re a druid, a wiccan, a heathen, a cultus, or any other path out there most of the time. We acknowledged that there’s different views, different gods, different rituals and symbols. And we’re all generally fine with it. Right up until something happens that one of those other paths publicly believes something we don’t agree with.

I mean, we all know that Heathen religions are generally about kinship, family, and ancestors. But oh no, one of the sects went to far and started sounding all racist and supremacist, talking about how their family is the best ever and needs to be protected.

UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN! KILL THE NON-BELIEVER, DESTROY THIS BLIGHT UPON ALL OF PAGANISM! RAWR! RAWR!

RABBLE-RABBLE-

And let’s face it, years ago, the Dianics were very honest about what they believed in terms of gender, sexuality, and women.

But if you claim to be one of us, you have to have sometimes in your life a womb, and overies and MOON bleed and not die.

Women are born not made by men on operating tables.

But nope, as far as every other pagan religion out there was concerned…

UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN! KILL THE NON-BELIEVER, DESTROY THIS BLIGHT UPON ALL OF PAGANISM! RAWR! RAWR!

RABBLE-RABBLE-

 

Polytheists believe that the Gods are individual beings with their own agency who deserve a place of privilege, power, and focus in Pagan religions?

 

UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN! KILL THE NON-BELIEVER, DESTROY THIS BLIGHT UPON ALL OF PAGANISM! RAWR! RAWR!

RABBLE-RABBLE-

The thing is though, for me at least, is that over the last several years I’ve come to see the different paths in Paganism for what they are, or at least, what they are becoming.

Separate religions.

The days when all different paths must come together in order to worship in a group are leaving us. The recon religions of old draw more and more followers to them each week, some are already at that point. The AFA, the Troth, and other “heathen organizations” are at this point, functionally, their own separate “heathen” religions. They have their own orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and so forth. They’re getting more and more like people into their groups so that there’s not as much drama and split over differing opinions. People are coming to them to learn heathenism and its practices rather than joining knowing heathenism. It’s the same way with the Cultus Deorum, or the Wiccans, the Druids, the Dianics, etc.

There’s enough people coming together to believe in a single thing that they don’t have to compromise their beliefs to work with outsiders. Now, this isn’t new, some of these religions have had this kind of member ship for years. The Dianics, though small, had it. Same for a number of druidic religions.

The truth is that people are going to believe different things, they’re going to value different things, and as they come together to form religions and even eventually tribes, their practices are going to be come firmer, more deeply held. To me, this is ultimately a good thing. It means that we’re finally coming back, and we’ll be able to defend ourselves because we’ll have lines of tradition and morality that we will not compromise on, with a shared identity.

But it also means that we as both individuals, and as different religions, are going to have to learn finally, what we’ve been preaching. Tolerance. We’ve insisted for decades that Christian and Atheist have to tolerate our different beliefs, morals, etc, some of which can be very offensive to those other groups. Now, we’re coming to the point where we can’t just ostracize someone for “wrong think” that violates what we believe is correct or moral.

Because now it’s not just one person, one elder, who is saying things. It is every voice in the religion that has elected their elder who says these things. It is all of them that believe as their speaker does, and that person is speaking it because it is what their religion and people believe.

Pagan is no longer the religion, it is truly becoming the umbrella, the same way Christian has. And just as Mormons and Catholics and Baptists all believe very different things on a similar foundation, so too is it rapidly becoming with the different Pagan religions.

And this is something that we’re not only going to have to accept…but come to respect.

When I wrote about Folmer’s article I asked if he was talking about us policing our own elders, or the elders of other paths. There has been a very long history in Paganism of attacking the elders and practitioners of other paths for believing in something different than what the attacker believes. Halstead is a good example of this recently, where he went after polytheistic elders for having a different view and practice than he did.

The truth is that the practices of polytheists would never have been an issue for Halstead’s pagan religion, except for the fact that a lot of us still think of Paganism as the religion, rather than the genus of our different religions. “I believe this is Paganism, but this man over here believes something different, and that might give people a bad idea of what (my) Paganism is! I must purge the heretic!”

If Halstead had stopped to think for even a moment that say the Cultus Deorum, Asatru, Cannanite, or other theistic religions was a completely different religion from his Terran Paganism, he could have realized that it wouldn’t matter how much they were theistic, they pose as much threat to his being Pagan as a Baptist threatens the Christianity of a Mormon.

If people stopped to realize that the Dianic’s views on transwomen can exist separately from the views of other paths…we need not have had an internal war that lasted for at least two years and still gets dragged out as an example of “why we need to police wrongthink” in “paganism.”

Yes, people are going to believe differently from us. That’s why humanity has always had different customs, different morals, different views. But we can realize that differing views on different things doesn’t mean that our path is wrong, or their path is wrong, or that we can only exist if ours is the supreme view, or that we have to cleanse a religion, culture, nation, or anything else of those differing views.

Z Budapest’s views do not hurt the Pagan community any more than the Pope’s views can hurt the Pagan community. They can affect the Dianics, but the Dianics have chosen their stance. The Position of Steven McNallen does not hurt the pagan community. The position of Nightmare doesn’t hurt the community. The views of Halstead doesn’t hurt the community. The views of Svartwulf do not harm the community.

Because we’re not a community anymore, not like we were twenty years ago. We’re different religions now, with different morals, different perspectives and beliefs and traditions. And we have no more right to police the thoughts and beliefs of other religions than do other religions have to police us.

So the next time an elder simply states an opinion you don’t like, or consider “harmful” stop, think. Are they your elder? Is your religion their religion? And if it isn’t…move on. Believe what you believe is right, but unless they are trying to kill someone, yours is not the right to stop their beliefs.

 

It is not given unto us to be arbiters of what others believe. Only for what we believe.

 

 

Hela Bless

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