The spirit is moving within and I’m in a mood to lay some truth drown on y’all. Can I get a hail Bacchus, brothers and sisters and people of indeterminate gender? Hail Bacchus! Io evohe!
You want to know what’s got me all riled up? Everywhere I look in the pagan community, so called, there are folks desperately craving external validation. They need approval from family and friends and the culture at large, and they need it from other pagans just as bad. And because they aren’t getting it they are fucking miserable.
Really, that’s what all the squabbling and endless controversies that are ripping apart the pagan community, so called, come down to. People are so unsure of themselves and what they’re doing and what they believe that they’ll chase after anyone who’ll give them a pat on the head. And when they don’t get that they turn nasty. And when they are confronted by something different, something that doesn’t conform to their expectations and reaffirm their tenuous worldview, something that challenges them on even a superficial level — they get frightened, they lash out.
That’s why you’re suddenly seeing so many vague accusations of fundamentalism and intolerance (without anyone being able to actually point to concrete examples of such) and people pissing their pants because a bunch of us no longer wish to be included under a label that never really fit us to begin with. No truly confident person behaves this way.
If you actually feel like “pagan” accurately describes who you are, what you do and how you believe then it shouldn’t make one damn bit of difference that that guy over there does not.
And if you feel that your conception of the gods and how you conduct your worship is right what the fuck does it matter if some stranger on the intertubes you’re never going to meet and probably wouldn’t get along with if you did thinks you’re wrong? Hell, even if your best friend thinks you’re crazy that should only give you a moment’s pause for reflection.
If you’re trans and Dianics don’t want to let you in or if you’re an agnostic and hard polytheists aren’t welcoming why do you want to be included so bad?
Expending all this energy trying to hold things together, force an artificial cohesion and bring everyone around to your way of thinking just makes things worse, exacerbates the differences and hardens the opposing factions. Yeah, maybe things are going to be lost if this drift continues. Maybe it’s a mistake from a political and other standpoints. But maybe it’s also inevitable and necessary for that to happen. Maybe afterwards folks can work together from a place of strength and confidence — as discreet communities each with their own ways and beliefs, finding common cause and not this uncomfortable, factious, hegemonic mess that paganism has become.
But that’s not all. Clearly this need for external validation is bad on a communal level — but it’s even worse on an individual one and seriously hinders and harms people’s private practice.
If you have any hope of getting anywhere with your gods and spirits, oh brothers and sisters and folks of indeterminate gender, the first sacrifice you better be prepared to make is caring about what other people think. And let me tell you, dearies, don’t delude yourself into believing that’s a one time deal. Oh no. Hell no. This is a sacrifice you’re going to be making over and over again and it’s going to get harder and harder the deeper you go, the further out on the fringes you find yourself, the more you’ve given up for this. And you know what? Once you get to the point where you think you’ve severed all attachments, you are perfectly confident in yourself and your work and need only the approval of your gods and spirits — guess what? You’re going to find places within yourself where that bug is still alive, where you’re holding back just the tiniest bit, where you somehow managed to trick yourself. This never ends. It’s the first sacrifice you’ve got to make to walk this path and it’s going to be final one you offer up as well — because that’s the nature of the sacrifice and why it’s so vital that you make it.
Trust me, dearies, I know it’s hard, even for a crazy freak like me.
From the moment we’re pulled slimy and screaming from our momma’s womb we get conditioned by society to crave approval from other people. And it goes much deeper than that — it’s a biological imperative. Those who don’t belong risk exposure and death. If we don’t please momma she won’t give us her tit. Wiring that deep, that fundamental is hard to fight against.
Even if you want to, even if you can’t be any other way than true to yourself and your ideals — it’s hard. Dearies, Sannion knows it’s hard. I do. But I’m telling you if you have any hope in hell of getting anywhere on this path or really if you desire to be truly happy and fulfilled in life you’ve got to do it no matter how hard, how scary, how lonely and how much it makes you feel weird and freakish.
And it’s going to do all that and far, far worse.
A lot of the time, maybe even most of the time once you reach a certain point, you’re going to wonder if it’s all been worth it, especially when you look back and see everything you’ve had to give up and struggle with and leave behind.
And for what?
The freedom to be yourself, which is the only freedom that truly matters.
Doing something truly exceptional with your life, making sure that your life matters, that you’ve actually done something worthwhile with it when you go into that great beyond.
And the gods and spirits.
Making this constant sacrifice will bring you closer to them than you ever could have imagined. It opens up space and time and attention and energy that can be directed towards them and weaves them into the fabric of your life, making it mythic.
And none of that is possible if you don’t make this sacrifice, if things only matter and have value because another person says so. The hunger for validation is going to get in your way, make you question everything you do and think, stop you from going as far as you could without it. It’s going to make you miserable.
You see, it’s not just that this is a good and necessary thing to do — there’s no god damned reason not to!
Because people who don’t give you unconditional acceptance and the absolute freedom to be who you are and to change that on a whim aren’t worth having in your life.
If they demand that you conform to their expectations and force you to wear an uncomfortable mask when you’re around them — they’re never going to be happy. Give an inch and they’ll take a mile. You’ll spend your whole sorry life chasing after the illusion of their approval, giving up everything for a word or a smile from them and it’ll never be enough. They’ll always ask for more.
Because in the end they don’t give a shit about you. Clearly. Or they’d accept you as you are.
No, what they love is this idea they’ve built up in their minds about who you are and you’re never going to be that. Reality always compares unfavorably to fantasy.
And you want to know the worst part? They don’t even care about you or the image they’ve fabricated. Not as much as they care about themselves.
Oh, I know that hurts to hear, brothers and sisters and creatures of indeterminate gender! But it’s true. Would I lie to you?
That’s why we crave it so much. We can never really have it. And we know that, because we’re just like them.
People — every last one of us — are self-absorbed and truly only care about ourselves. Altruism is as scarce as unicorns. People have always got so much shit going on, struggling with their own pain and loneliness and imperfections that you barely register on their radar. They will never be as involved with you, care as much about you as you want and think you need them to.
Think about it.
When you hear someone else’s bad news isn’t your first reaction, “Wow, I’m glad that’s not me.” Even if your next thought is, “Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that.” Or guilt at your own selfishness. Even if you’d never say it or let it show on your face, it’s still there. Because we’re human and you can only compensate for that so much.
Therefore yoking your happiness and self-fulfillment to others, making that dependent on their approval is only going to get you one thing: misery. Endless misery. L’enfer, c’est les autres.
And who wants to be miserable?
End of sermon. Now let’s get drunk!