Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Pagan Unity and Councils

Yet again there has been a Council formed to represent Pagans and Witches.  Another American Council, planning to revisit the 13 Principles of Belief that was the only outcome of the 1973 Council before it fell apart due to internal divisions.

This one didn't make it that far before imploding it seems. 

You can see all the drama on this blog.  There is also a good discussion about it on The Wild Hunt I particularly recommend reading through the comments, although take care not to be drinking anything while using a screen that won't tolerate having liquid sprayed over it.  Repeatedly.  I also feel a need to share this blog because it's awesome and sums up many of my own personal feelings.

History has shown that such a venture is doomed to failure.  Any group that tries to speak for such a varied and disparate collection of individuals would make cat-herding look like child's play.

Not so long ago, there was an attempt to form a Council of Elders in New Zealand.  I received a call from a then-friend and was told I "needed to get on board so I could look after the South Island".  What was meant by "look after" was attempt to control.  I didn't really understand the purpose of such a group and didn't trust the motives of those who were trying to create it so I never got involved.  It never got past the discussion stage, it would seem because I wasn't alone in my reservations.  I think this is no different from what has been happening in America - just theirs is on a far larger scale.

Pagan Unity

Pagan Unity has been presented as a reason for this Council, or a justification for why it's believed to be needed by some. I'm afraid it just sounds like a cliched catch-phrase to me.

When Pagans cannot even agree on what 'Pagan' means or what it means to be Pagan, how can any kind of Unity be achieved?  Then let's throw in Witches - many of them aren't Pagan for a start - how are you going to gain Unity when we also can't agree whether Witchcraft is a religion or a skill set?

Personally, for all I'm both Pagan and a Witch, I reject unity in any form.  I frequently tell people off for referring to me as their Pagan Sister because that is something that's earned with me, assuming that kind of familiarity based purely on a shared label is something I find to be presumptuous and rude.

"Unification through Diversification" is the oxymoronic catchphrase of United Pagan Radio.  They claim "We CAN be unified as pagans and hold onto our unique diversity."  How exactly is that supposed to work?  Many bash anyone who disagrees with their own narrow view - be it harming none, karma, the Burning Times Myth, Christianity or whether self-initiation is valid - most of the time, agreeing to disagree isn't an option as both sides seem to think that the other has disrespected their path.  When rampant sexism (misogyny and misandry) is treated as a virtue in some paths, racism in others and paedophilia in others still, how can we want to achieve any kind of unity with these people.   I certainly have no wish to be associated with any of those groups, but I would be if this vague ideal were realised.  I have to question the values of anyone who would want that kind of association.

It is also my personal belief that even without the 'fringe elements', unity would mean a kind of homogenisation of belief.  A watering-down and dumbing-down that would render it meaningless.

Now don't get me wrong, I've run coffee meets and festivals, I am not against Pagans coming together, but there is a major difference.  In coffee meets and festivals, there is a place for people to meet and discuss ideas, to learn about each other and perhaps organically form connections with like-minded people.  There is no forced unity, there is no expectation of agreement or over-riding requirement to get along.  There is a requirement for manners, but if you don't like someone's path, you don't interact with them. 

For some people, this lack of unity is seen as a failing and one of the major flaws in the Pagan Community.  I choose to see it as a strength and a beautiful thing.




  1. Once upon a time, Catholics and Protestants were killing each other because they wouldn't follow the correct church laws. Witchcraft was outlawed on pain of death. This was the church's Unity. If you weren't Christian, you must be Jewish, or Muhammadian, or Hindoo (a made-up English word for the massive variety Indian and surrounding countries religious) or "Oriental" (which was a huge bunch of cultures and religions).

    But my point is you were either Catholic Christian or Protestant Christian (or sneaky you, a Lutheran follower of Christianity) or you were persecuted. Massive mob riots and slaughtering of thousands of innocents by their neighbours were carried out because the Councils and Unity groups couldn't stand that others had the political power and free thought.

    Your pagan religion and freedoms were brought dearly, against a background of Unity and Councils. Brought by people who dared to practice and explore beyond what those who set themselves up as rulers and leaders agreed on (for their benefit, not yours).

    As proven again and again, There are those who who love to set themselves up in such hierarchies and will attack any who do not play by their rulings and ideals. One phrase you'll seldom hear me say "never again the burning times..." but, hey, it's _your_ choice.

  2. Now it's not my story but it is a real incident and normally I'd name names but I'm very sure the person involved wouldn't want this out in the light or for me (personally) to be using them to illustrate real world occurances.

    So if you have a functioning council or unity group. Say it has coffee meetings (yes some of you already realise what coming up).
    What do you do if one of the organisers/local coordinators who is volunteering their time and reputation to run these meetings.
    What becomes the position of the "Unity" if that organiser believes strongly that certain aspects of one groups path or policy is fundamentally wrong - it might be the Frosts claims, it might be Satanist or Setian pagans, or Odinists who are out of favour, it might be as general as "anyone who identifies with a" Left Hand Path""
    Suddenly your Unity has a Dilemma. Does the Unity start drawing lines about who is in (and thus who is outcast)? When the Unity makes a proclamation or public statement, how can they be taken seriously as a group or unity if they exclude bunches of people that fit that umbrella?

    Or do they try and for their organiser to obey the command structure? Do they bring in peer pressure, rules, regulations, contracts to try and force the organiser to go against their own beliefs? all while claiming to support the beliefs of others !

    How can people seriously advanced in wisdom or spirituality even contemplate such foolishness. I know certain birth signs are drawn to power structures for their own ends and gratification or that the reason?

    Personally I find it repulsive that a group would coerce a member against their beliefs in that manner.... but also people need that freedom to grow. That is why independently those who grow spirituality must learn to personally and individual to find the balance.
    The freedom of doing what they want...balancing it against the rights and space for others to have their freedoms.
    As has been spoken it takes great Love that goes beyond the personal, yet balances against love and strength of self recognition with personal discipline.

    But these cannot be accomplished without freedom for the individual to create and express and grow.