I was at an expo recently, and I was having a chat with another stallholder about pagan groups. She mentioned that she’s only just joined one. I know the group that she’s talking about and for my own reasons I have nothing nice to say about them. So instead of coming out with my reservations, I asked her how she found it, I mentioned that a few years ago that group did a ritual at our PaganFest and there were a few members who were quite toxic and put half our attendees off attending the ritual with their manner and behaviour. Apparently the bulk of those toxic members have gone.
She asked me if I had a group and I said no, I don’t do groups any more. We talked for a while about it, I said that groups can be great especially when you’re beginning as it’s a good way to get some confidence about what you’re doing, in the early days when you’re not sure about anything it provides some validation. I also made the comment that where you have groups you have politics. “That’s your opinion” she told me, but then went on to say that it happens in any group not just pagan ones, which had been my point. She also told me that I was only expressing the negatives.
I’d just given her both the pros and the cons of groups, but it seemed she only heard the negatives and yet I’m the negative person?
This isn’t the first time I’ve been called negative, it’s been happening quite a bit lately. There was a discussion on a facebook group started by a small piece about what witches are. One of the women commenting said that all the witches she’s met are kind and caring and accepting and all-round wonderful people. I said we can’t have met many of the same witches as the nastiest, most destructive people I’ve met have also been witches. Witches are still people first with all the good and bad, beauty and failings that are in everyone, witches are no better or worse than everyone else, we just kid ourselves about it more.
I got called negative for this. I disagreed and said it wasn’t negative, it was honest and realistic. Others joined in to agree with me.
I thought about this blog, and how it’s mostly rants lately. I don’t believe that they’re all negative, well some aren’t, but some are. Mostly they’re my reaction to outright stupidity, and these people breed!!
I’m cynical, I freely admit that. I made a decision a few years ago to see the good in people. It came from the realisation that you recognise in others what you know. Someone who only sees the bad in people is not usually a nice person, and some of the sweetest people I’ve met have only ever seen the good in others. I wanted to see the good in people, as a way to improve myself. You would not believe how often this has bitten me on the bum. Choosing to see only the good or only the bad is unbalanced and naive. No one is purely good or purely bad, we’re all a blend and shades of both in between. Nothing is ever that clearly defined.
I’ve also found a lot of fantasy and delusion within the Pagan and Spiritual communities. There are some people who’s philosophy on life is so light and fluffy that at times I wonder how they manage to tie their shoelaces, but I’m of the belief that if it’s not harming anyone (including themselves) and it makes them happy then that’s great. Their life journey may be taking them somewhere different to mine. Perhaps they’re making up for a dark and heavy past life, and in their next one they’ll be more balanced and walk a middle line. The dilution of Paganism and the blend of New Age ideas has also contributed to this.
My cynicism has come from too many years in the Pagan Community. I sometimes think I’ve seen and heard the best and the worst the community has to offer, and I really hope that’s the case, because I don’t want to imagine it any worse! I’ve heard all sorts of grand claims and read books so filled with idiocy that they almost make me feel ill, but still people buy and then recommend them to others. One of the latest such that I read through told the beginner that Wicca has been around for more than 25,000 years!!
Did you know that every x on your palm is all the times you’ve been burned at the stake in past lives?
Or that this chap clearly remembers a past life from 600 years ago when he was working with Merlin at Stonehenge in Scotland. (Or sadly how many people find only one flaw with that statement).
Or this woman who likes to tell everyone that she’s got fairy blood because her Dad had an experience that he doesn’t remember that turned his hair pure white.
Or this couple who frequently state that a 12 year old girl can be a Wiccan High Priestess.
Or all the people who go on (especially at Christmas) about how those dirty Christians stole our holidays.
Or the much respected High Priest who is frequently caught out lying or changing his story for community politics, can’t keep his mouth shut about things he should (and I don’t believe that it’s ever ok to laugh your tits off while telling people outside your coven how you turned someone down for second degree initiation because “she’d be a shit HPs”), and justifies telling a destructive person other people’s secrets with “there’s just something fun about her.”
Or the psychic/druid who needed me to do a house clearing because there was a draconian in the house, and draconians are masonic and masons and druids don’t mix. (Google draconians and reptilians if you want a laugh)
Or the guy who was getting psychically attacked by everyone he stood up to and he had proof!
I have genuinely met all of these people. Seriously. They all firmly believe these things, some are not so much in the realm of fluffy as dangerous - 12 year old HPs is a case of sexual misconduct if ever I heard one - and there is no way that anyone outside of your coven should ever hear any of your coven business.
I realise that after 10 years of running coffee meets and being involved in Pagan Festivals that I’ve put myself in a place where I do seem to attract an overly heavy dose of the flake factor (as one friend called it). He was really surprised when I went through some of the people who have crossed my path and/or asked for my help over the years. This is part of the reason I’ve stepped back from that, the other is, it’s thankless and draining and it’s about time someone else took over. I’ve also met some wonderful people, ones who’ve become true friends or have inspired me.
Being cynical is my way of protecting myself. Part of me wants to believe that everyone who comes to me is sincere and intelligent and has genuinely had this or that happen, but that’s never going to be the case. I’m often not outwardly cynical, I’m mostly pleasant and understanding on the surface, but there are times that you should be glad that you can’t read my mind - especially those who tell me that they can, but should have at least flinched when I projected that at them mentally. It’s too easy to test sweetie, stop kidding yourself - because what I do express when I choose to express my cynicism is nothing compared to what can go on inside.
I did go back to the first lady and tell her she’d given me a few things to think about. She beamed in that way so many lightworkers do when they think they’ve helped you learn a life lesson. What I learned is where she is up to on her path. She told me she understood why I was probably cynical, but I need to let go of the negatives and just focus on the positives. I could see that telling her how superficial, unbalanced and unhealthy that would be was going to be a colossal waste of my time, and she wouldn’t get it yet.
What a lot of beginners don’t realise is that it’s not all sweetness and light, it’s not happy sparkly moonbeams and unicorns pissing rainbows. There is a dark side. And it’s you. Any genuine spiritual journey is a journey of self-discovery, and there are dark parts of our souls that society teaches us we should hide from the world. In Modern Magic by Schele de Vere, he talks about how any true ecstatic moment reached by a mystic is followed by depression and despondency. Aleister Crowley talks about the Long Dark Night of the Soul, Kabballah students find themselves experiencing the vices, virtues and obligations of each sephiroth. All the myths and legends that touch on the mysteries involve a descent into the underworld. For the journey to be an honest one, you need the balance of the negative as well as the positive.
Since I originally wrote this piece, I felt that putting it up on my blog would somehow be wrong. I felt as though I’m touching on secrets that the average beginner or seeker isn’t ready for. Since then I’ve read a couple of books (yes they were small ones but well worth the read) that made the same points. There was also a friend on facebook asking for advice about the BBD (big black dog - another name for depression) and I made the comment that it’s part of any true spiritual journey, it’s the balance and noticed that the friend said that since she stopped medicating her BBD, she has high points and an appreciation for the beautiful things in life that was lacking when she was taking the ‘happy’ pills. Another friend who I consider to be a very spiritual person commented that when you accept the low times as a part of life then they pass more quickly, and they have something to teach you while they’re there. It’s not about removing them, it’s about understanding them.
I’m not negative for expressing both sides of the story, I’m doing my best to maintain a balance.