Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just between you and me and the Fencepost....

Everyone has something they are ashamed of.  I have pondered with age, where shame comes from.  Is it something the Gods plant in your like a seed?  Is it your culture that hands it to you in bushels?  Is it what your momma uses on you to get you to “remember your raising”?  The truth is as elusive to me as “How many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop”.  But here in the South, digging up people’s shame and displaying it for the entire world to hear and see has been a past time for as long as I can remember. The joke being it usually starts with the line "bless her heart, or my my my..."

I would like to tell you that this only happens in the Baptist churches, or the Methodist ones.  Just like I would like to say that only Baptists and Catholics fight like the Yankees and Rebs did…but that would be a flat out lie.  Pagans, are no different than any other religion; for some reason they too have fighting, and feuding, they also have  people that “are slicker than snakes” and people that are “meaner than a wild boar”.  Of course, we cannot use the “normal” reasons for our issues or gossip that you hear other religions having so we name it something fancy like “a witch war”.  But, in reality “Poo is Poo no matter what you name it” (most southerners would have used a cruder word here but you catch my drift). I am ashamed of this.  It is the huge boil on the face of this community; and we need to create a cure!

Yep, that is right.  I think that a people that have so many other people picking at them for their religious choices like blackbirds looking for scraps on bones should not “fight amongst themselves”.  It is ridiculous.  However, no matter where you look there are always people “stirring up the shite” and the more you stir that we all know the “worse it stinks”.  Now, if you expect that when you found a coven, or church here in the South you are going to get a pat on the back…you would be wrong.  Instead, you are usually met with outsiders asking you about “your lineage” and “who are you to do anything” but like most things in life…you have to let it roll of you like water on a “duck’s back”.  Of course I would claim regularly oiling your feathers (practicing your own faith) will help it roll of more quickly and surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and you can trust will get you far…but you know it should not be this way.

I am calling a “tater a tater” because that is just what it is.  Everyone knows it happens in our communities it is what drives people to become solitaires or what motivates people to start their own covens or Churches.  I guess the thinking is that if you “form your own group” then you can ignore the mess being created around you.  But, you cannot.  Now, I am not saying that I am “better than anyone else” that I have “never wallowed in the pig pen” because that would be a flat out lie…and you may not like what I say here or anywhere else; but I am not a liar; I am known in over four counties to be about the most flat spoken “southerner” you have ever met.  Remember, I told you I was ashamed, but to be ashamed means you have identified that you “did something you think was wrong” and I think “spreading rumors and lies about your own kind” is something you should be ashamed of.  I am stating here for the record I am not nor have I been "spreading lies" about my own anymore but like every human being I know I have engaged in "mudslinging" in my past which gives me a right to talk about it.

Now, I am not your momma and I may not be your Highpriestess and granted this is my blog and my opinion and truth is considered relative to the individual in the perpetual state of existential reality…but I say Pagans slandering other Pagans damages a community it does not build it up.  Our community is small, and growing larger and breeding faster than a rabbit every day.  We are a religion/philosophy/theology/spiritual path (pick one that does not rub you the wrong way) that promotes living in harmony with the earth/spirit/energy/others (pick one that you feel resonates with you) and teaches that we what you send out comes back (and we all know this is just common sense whether you call yourself witch/pagan/wiccan/new ager/etc).

I am worried we have become so “individualized” and “stylized” and “big nosed pagan” that we have forgotten what brought this movement out of the “broom closet” to begin with and made most of us fall in love with it.  Words like “community” and “family” are used most often by people who are either elders here or “happy in their “coven/church/triad” and while we all may be in different families there is no reason for us to feud like we are in a Hillbilly movie, we are not living out the comic strip Dogpatch and I know none of our names here are Hatfield or McCoy.

Sometimes shame is a good thing…sometimes shame stops us from repeating our actions, sometimes people telling an elder or Highpriestess or a friend “I am ashamed of you” makes them embarrassed and stops them cold, makes them turn red, and slowly but surely melts the anger in their heart and transforms it into and apology. What I am worried about, is the people that feel NO shame at being mean, spreading rumors and lies about others who drink from the same well of the Goddess and God as they do. 

“Let me tell you a story…” was a famous line used by an Elder here who always told a story with a moral lesson.  She is not with us now, but she more than anyone I know taught me (and many others who she called her children) that while we were from different families what we had in common is what should make us be decent to one another.  So, what if the only thing we have in common is that we are all Pagan?  What if the only thing we have in common is that we are a minority religion in a place called the “Bible Belt” for good reason. What if every time we thought of that other Pagan, or saw that other “witch” we saw the God or Goddess in them…rather than note how they said “such and such” or we “heard this or that” about them?

Do you know how this all stops?  I do, with us.  We all start acting like “we have some raising”.  We stop, take a deep breath and think before we say something, or post it on a public forum.  We stop individualizing and categorizing ourselves to the degree that we create a feudal system where solitaire is “less than” triad and triad less than coven and coven less than church, and so on. We, myself is in this we…take a vow, and say…I love my Goddess, I love my God, and today and every day for the rest of my life I am going to strive to do something that sounds simple but is very very hard.  I am going to try my best to love the God and Goddess in every person I meet, talk with, listen to, read on Facebook, Twitter and I will give my fellow sister and brothers a “break” and stop “trying to be the God or Goddess” and judge them…I am going to promote harmony. It’s that simple, and yet that hard.

 Just between you and me and the fencepost, once you take a shame or guilt and expose it to the light it dissipates and “poof” reintegrates into the original source.  It’s all energy folks; we are the ones labeling it.  I label you and yours God and Goddess…will you do the same for me?


  1. I know you can't hear me applauding you, but I'm sure you can feel it. After all, we're usually pretty good at feeling each others pains and happiness even over the miles.

    <3 you and so proud of you!

  2. Namaste, namaste, namaste. The God/dess in me sees the God/dess in you!
    You done good baby girl! :) Yee hawwww!

  3. Carridwyn, you are one of the biggest reasons why I do this, and why I am here...I love you dearly, and there can be no greater compliment than to know you like what I said and how I said it. Thank you

  4. Thank you Southern woman, may the peace of the Goddess and God live in us all. Thank you!

  5. Very good points! Some comments:
    1) Some people, (John Bradshaw would be one) differentiate between guilt and shame--as I remember, mostly they use the word "guilt" to talk about the feeling you get from doing something wrong. But as I read your essay I realized "witch wars" arouse both--guilt for how we participated or didn't stop it, shame about being involved. 2) Lineage and labels matter only in that they describe what someone does and what group they're in. Your virtues and faults are still yours no matter what initiations you have. Although a good path is one that makes its followers better people who do better things in the world, I think different people are better in different paths. 3) Slander is not OK--that's why people even resort to law to try to control it. And even telling the truth as you see it can be foolish and regrettable if it's done without prudence and compassion.

  6. @ Calesta thank you your points, and insight as usual is deep and adds much to the discussion. It meant alot to me today, to see you had read this post...and commented, so thank you Calesta, for the gift of your time, and words.

  7. You bring up some good points, like (among others) how calling someone out, even an elder or superior, can be a really positive thing BECAUSE it can make them feel the guilt, shame, or remorse that they should.

    I view the Pagan community differently than you do, though, I think from this blog post. I do believe that we, as humans, carry the same capacity for shameful acts as anyone. I also do agree that fulfilling that capacity inhumanely is a sort of direct offense against our core values as Pagans. But when it comes to treating others with respect and humanity,fighting and slander within our community is not the first place we need to look. If we feel so criminalized by the "Bible Belt", I believe the first course of action should be re-thinking how we approach those who think so little of us for our beliefs--show them all by example just how wrong they are about our "evil ways". We can try and stop squabbling internally inside the community as much as we want, but I think that the less you segregate "them" and "us", the easier and more effective it will be.

    We can either continue to feel sulky and victimized because our brothers and sisters of different faiths "just don't get us", or we can actually be proactive in helping them understand, and I think we might find that in doing so, our friendships and community will only grow in strength and trust.

    )O( Michy :)

  8. @ Michy, I think the point of this post was to point out that many people become pagans because they think our religion is different than the others here in the Bible Belt. However, like any has the same issues. BUT, I do feel that if we concentrate on our issues and fix them, within the structure that we will naturally project and evolve into something that draws people to us.

    I also address the segregation within our society, because I cannot fix the fact that we are segregated for our different beliefs in a world that is majority Christian, Judaic, or Islam...but we can de-segregate ourselves. "become the change you want to see"

  9. Very good blog, Sonia, thank you. You make excellent points. But here is something I wonder about: what if you absolutely know for sure that someone has done something truly evil in or to the Pagan community? Do we not warn others about it? I'm thiking of someone who stole money from my Pagan zine and also our church. I heard about him moving clear across the country to another church and he was made treasurer. To me, this guy was an obvious sociopath and I speak with some authority and experience about this because I was a psychotherapist for 15 years and know how to diagnose these things.
    How does one handle this in a dignified, humane way?