So I have to admit something. I’m not a huge follower of current events within the larger Pagan community. I don’t regularly read blogs. I have a few that I enjoy and I follow them when I remember to read them. But I don’t have a finger on the pulse of our community. I have my own small community, mostly online, that is so very important to me, and we are a diverse group of ladies who came together around five years ago and have created a small community of supportive, loving women. THAT is my community. And when I say diverse, I mean it. I am a hard polytheist who pursues relationships with five Deities and a few Divine Heroes. Another lady is a Wiccan priestess. Another? She previous defined herself as a pantheist or a panetheist, but now mostly just calls herself an Atheist Pagan.
And, you know, it never occurred to me that there was a problem with any point along our spectrum. Practicing or not; polytheist, duotheist, monotheist, or atheist. None of that mattered. We are Pagans by our beliefs and practices and our self-identification. That has always been more than enough for all of us. Now, please believe, I know how blessed I am to have these women in my life. I can’t begin to explain to you how often I’ve come to them with my heart down-trodden and had these women lift me up with their love and their prayers, in whatever form they take. But I don’t think I realized until today just how blessed I truly am.
Apparently there is a war being fought within the greater community on the blogosphere. The fight is between polytheists and atheists about who has a place in our community and who does not. The first article I read I became incensed on behalf of the author, an atheist Pagan, because no one has the right to tell him or any other Pagan who identifies as atheist that they cannot be a part of our community. But then I made the mistake of following the link to the article that triggered his article, and the one before that. I stopped reading at that point, as it seemed to circle back upon itself to the original author.
There were claims that the atheist author said polytheist have no place in the community. And he said that many polytheists don’t wish to claim the name Pagan anymore. That, at least, is truth. Within some of the Facebook communities I have been allowed to be a part of, particularly those who hold to more tribal mindsets, there are those who don’t wish to be called a Pagan, who don’t wish to identify with the community. And that is fine. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us must choose between being a polytheist and a Pagan. When someone asks me what my faith is, I always respond that I’m an Irish polytheist. It is second nature to me because it is that which most perfectly describes how I see myself and my path right now. I don’t place being a Pagan above that, but neither will I be denied my place within the Pagan community.
But then I saw claims that atheists could not be Pagans, because a belief in the Gods is a requirement to be a Pagan. And I will not stand for that, either. Paganism is so much more than just the Gods, however you may view them. It’s a mindset, an outlook, a way of interacting with the world around us. Over the last 16 years, the way I view the Gods – not just my Gods, but all of Them – has changed dramatically; but I am no more or no less a Pagan now than I have been at any point along my path since the first day I set foot on this path.
I think the greatest thing about our community – our greatest strength – is the fact that we are open to whomever wishes to identify with our community. But then, when I first came to this community in the mid 90s, I have refused to disparage those Afro-Caribbean religions who practice blood sacrifice. I have refused to disparage Satanists and Infernalists who worship Lucifer and other Divine Beings who are identified as demons. And now I will refuse to disparage atheist Pagans. We either are a community, thriving and vibrant, or we define ourselves by what we are not. I have no desire to be a part of the second kind of community and refuse to allow at least my small part of the community – both online and out in the world – to become that. I will always stand for and promote a diverse and accepting community. We have enough worries with making sure that People of Color within our community are feeling welcomed. We have enough worries with making sure that *trans people within our community are feeling welcomed. We have enough worries to make sure that our minority members aren’t marginalized and excluded by hateful elements of all stripes.
If you do feel the need to exclude someone from the umbrella of Pagan faiths, how about you consider removing yourself – because that is the only person whose faith you have say over. Instead of choosing wars within our faith, choose peace.