It’s a day that ends in y so of course there’s a raging controversy within paganism

This one, as usual, is about identity politics and labels. Who’s pagan, who’s not; where and whether the line should be drawn. This shit was already old hat back when I found my way online around 1999 so you can imagine what I think of it today. I would let this pass without commenting as I have most controversies since Pantheacon Hullabaloo I & II (kind of hard to top this, really) except I think I may actually have something worthwhile to add to the debate. At least it’s a point I haven’t seen brought up much, if at all. Namely why or more precisely cui bono?

Some people have remarked that this is a necessary and even positive phase that paganism is going through, something that every other religious community has had to deal with at one point or another. And that’s true, but with a difference.

You see, none of those groups were just arguing over semantics and labels. Even the whole Christological dispute of the 4th century which hinged on a single letter was about a whole hell of a lot more than ideas. Specifically it was about the control of resources – spiritual and temporal. Everything from the administration of the sacraments (deemed necessary for a proper relationship with Christ and admittance to heaven) to who had control of church property and its assets depended on the question of who was and was not a real Christian. (And while I’m using Christianity as my example here the same holds for every other major and quite a few minor religions.) Seen in that light you can understand why this was such a hotly contested matter.

But paganism is different. With only a few very notable exceptions no one owns land or property. No resources are shared in common. There is no established hierarchy recognized by all pagans to be a part of or to tear down. No one controls access to the divinities. (While their sacraments may be another story, few would suggest that the divinities respond only to those sacraments.) And the internet has made it possible to find fellowship with kindred spirits even if such do not exist in one’s locality or one is barred from participating in certain events.

So I really don’t see the point. It’s fighting over empty air, just for the hell of it. And the worst part is that with nothing tangible to lose or gain this squabbling can go on indefinitely.

Except that’s not entirely true. There is something to be lost in all this. Good will, for one. The more acrimonious these debates become the more it’s going to drive apart folks who might otherwise get along. I don’t care about people or have much interest in working with them, so that’s not a huge concern to me. But what does concern me is that intellectual and creative energy that could be going towards honoring the divinities or making beautiful art or a dozen other laudatory ventures is instead being squandered on fruitless navel-gazing, politicking and ad hominem attacks. Every time someone carefully crafts a detailed post on this (and then three or four follow-ups) or goes around spending hours leaving comments on what everyone else has said … I can’t help but wonder what that person might have accomplished with some better focus.

“Hypocrite! You just wrote this! How can you condemn us while you’re guilty of the same thing?”

Yes, I did. But you see I am a very accomplished multi-tasker so while I was typing this out with one hand I was also jerking off to midget lesbian bondage fisting porn with the other. Granted, my full attention should have been on the video (who knew the vagina was so flexible?) but sometimes it is necessary to make minor sacrifices.

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25 thoughts on “It’s a day that ends in y so of course there’s a raging controversy within paganism

  1. ladyimbrium

    I am impressed by your ability to multitask.


  2. Elizabeth

    You’re not a Real Pagan unless you wank to midget FURRY lesbian bondage fisting porn. In Esperanto.


  3. I gotta admit, you did this better than I did. And yeah, you’d think the de facto elders (not Elders), who’ve been not only pagan, but online pagans since at least 1998/99 would realise how old this fucking “controversy” is, by now.

    Tale as old as time….
    Beauty and King Dork!


  4. The Spirit Tea Hut

    Meh. Do you know that, many years ago, just as soon as I learned about modern paganism I learned about all the crap and realized that ‘pagan’ was an almost useless label because people used it to mean almost anything? All these years later, people are still doing that and it seems every year there’s a whole ‘nother debate over the same shit. I personally don’t use the label (and I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to tell pin one on me) so it’s prolly none of my business anyway. In any case, I totally agree in that people should take all the time they spent writing posts, responses, etc. and channel that into more useful pursuits. Blessings.

    P.S. I love the cats. You rock.


    • That is one of the (many) reasons this debate will never end. By it’s very nature paganism is a meaningless amorphous category and any attempt to impose order on it is bound to both fail and piss a bunch of folks off.


  5. You see bitching, I see fun. Can’t Eris have her days, too?


    • I see Eris’ role as more disruptive. She comes in to shake things up and shatter the status quo when it gets too complacent and comfortable and people aren’t thinking far enough outside the box. In that regard arguments and chaos are good, necessary even. But when the eristic spirit becomes the norm, as it has within paganism (and seriously, this is a debate that’s been going on for decades – no one is saying anything original or interesting or anything that hasn’t already been said 50 times over; even my above post is pretty much a paraphrase of something I said about two years ago regarding a similar controversy within Hellenismos) well, then something different is called for. That something will never happen, of course. Which is reason twelve billion and four why I don’t identify with that or any other label. But still.


    • Which, of course, isn’t to say you can’t sit back on the sidelines, enjoy the show and egg the participants on. That’s a favorite past time of mine, actually …


      • I was hoping for all-out war. I think some actual bloodshed may force folks to take a step back. It would also settle the matter. Maybe I could pull a switcheroo and reconstruct that old Hellenistic festival to Ares Pausanias (I think) described where people straight-up beat eachother and an accidental death or two were “not uncommon” >;-)


  6. ladyimbrium

    *passes eggs to Pete and Sannion because they seem to be using theirs up rapidly and it would be an absolutetragedy if they ran out of eggs to throw*


  7. I’m an asshole, so… I insert a shrug here. LOL


  8. Pingback: Of gods and men: searching for a theology « Pagan Layman

  9. Pingback: Your One-Stop-Shop for Pagan-Polytheist Controversy (Updated 1-26-13) | The Allergic Pagan

  10. Nymphaea

    Been out of the blog o sphere for a bit and damn I’ve missed a hell of a shit storm…..


    • Wait a week, there’ll be another one.


      • Nymphaea

        Yep, there always is. Still, as much as they tend to border on stupidity, I suppose the fact that we have to listen to these sad, poor and sloppy excuses of debates at least means that we aren’t dead /shrug


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