I think I just ran smack into a Pagan fundamentalist. And I think the reaction I got “My trad is unique and therefore superior” is a fear based one.
It reminds me of that Dirk Mahling quote, “If one decides not to have a religion in one’s life, Asatru is still the best one not to have.” altho that has a lightheartedness to it that helps imo.
I think what I’m also running into is a regional thing. Pagans in the MidWest and other non-pagan friendly area where they are isolated and living in “hostile” territory seem to have this attitude most. I guess when you live in a place that wears and tears you down perhaps the only response you can have is to be even more gung-ho and adamant about your faith and your path. I guess the more you shout out how much of an individual you are the more real you are to yourself and the ones around you. But then when you get to a place where there’s tons of folks as neat and wonderful as you, do you take the time to see and appreciate the sameness and diversity or do you continue to spout off and isolate?
This area is unusual in that we have so many pagans of so many different traditions living here and interacting with each other. I guess I’ve really grown up in a Pagan Interfaith community where so many people visit friend’s rituals and events or spend dinners talking “shop” and comparing notes without the chestpounding of “my shit is tighter than yours”. How exhausting that must be, to always be competitive. I remember back in Texas, when “Wiccan” was being used as an insult (and still is in some unenlightened areas) and then I met people like Rowanf, Don Frew and Anna Korn and was blown away, when “Thelemic” was synomous with “Creepy Pervet” and “Armchair Magician” until I met folks like Tim Maroney, Lon, Brian, Sam Webster and Glenn. How easy to label based on the fringe element and turn away from getting a clearer view.
Out here we have things like PantheaCon, the Ancient Ways Festival, Gaia’s Gateway which sponsors monthly rituals from a wide variety of traditions, South Bay Circles which some something similar, The Twilight Gathering, Reclaiming’s Witch Camp, etc, etc, etc
To me it seems that Northern California is more than a smorgasbord of pagan traditions, but a garden of delights to revel in the freedom to appreciate another tradition without any injury to your own/your ego. How beautiful to see so many paths being valid, being true without any slight to the other.
And now I need to sleep for tomorrow I get to attend a friend’s Bembe to honor and congratulate her on her new role.