Then this morning, I was toodling around on Twitter and found that The Domestic Witch had posted a plethora of articles centering on That O'Donnell Woman's silliness (and the Pagan community's response to it), as well as this article, which puts forth the interesting idea that the traditional, Gardnerian Craft is being eroded or forgotten or made less mysterious (I'll be honest and say that I was a little confused at times during the article) as the tenets of it are being broadcast across the interwebs and, thus, folks don't have to rely on groups or covens for their teaching. Clearly, as a solitary witch who does NOT follow the Gardnerian tradition (at least not wholly), I don't know how I feel about this, although I was sort of mystified by, once again, the concept of witches having a responsibility to come out of the broom closet.
THEN I started thinking about a conversation I had with my Pagantastic brother about some advice I'd given him. He had bound somebody, a practice with which I don't agree. I just feel icky about binding, although I have worked protective spells to shield myself or others against specific people. In any case, he had contact with that person again, which to me meant that he'd wonkied up the binding, because he'd voluntarily resumed contact with that person. I felt very strongly about it, but he felt very strongly the other way.
So during a loooooonnnng field trip with my son's class yesterday, I was stewing over this whole thing. I'm not sure if the pieces all fit together the way I want them to, but here's what I was left with:
- I don't believe any person of any faith has the right to tell any person of any faith how to make his or her peace with his or her deity. I don't think Baptists have the right to tell Mormons they aren't Christians, and I don't believe that a Gardnerian witch has the right to tell a Hellenic worshipper that she isn't venerating the right goddess. I DO believe that we need to listen more to each other, however, even when what we're listening to doesn't jibe with our own beliefs.
- The Pagan community is NOT one homogeneous wad of folks, and this is bound to cause some problems for us as we become more active and accepted in our society. I think it is going to become important for leaders to start stepping forward and working together even as we grow stronger in our individual beliefs. Maybe this is already happening, and I don't know about it. All I know is that That O'Donnell Woman has put us on the map and we'd better pull ourselves together. You know, spiff up the cauldrons, put out the clean altar cloths, polish our pentagrams, trim the herbal knot in the front yard...
- The broom closet is an uncomfortable place, really. It smells like cleaning supplies and dust bunnies and, Mother help us all, I think I just spotted a spider over there. BUT--it is SAFER for me and and for my family for me to lurk here a while. I envy the folks who are free to be you and me, but I'm not. Being completely "out" would make it difficult for me with some of my family members. And, yes, Jessica, if people really care about me, they'll love me regardless of my faith. The sad thing is that our lives don't just depend upon the people who care about us. We have to work and live in communities which are full of people who don't give a rat's ass about us--they need our services or our taxes or our business and as long as they have that, they're content. But because we need them as well, for their services or goods or jobs, we have to walk a fine line. Of course, I could always sue somebody who refused to hire me because I was a witch, which would make life nigh to impossible for me in my community. Could I move to a place more understanding? If there was a job there for my husband and a climate we'd enjoy and good schools and...do you get my drift?
- I love the Pagan community I've found online. It is, by and large, supportive and eager for connection. And even if that isn't a "real" coven, it's what I've got to work with. I LEARN from folks here. I share my own knowledge. Heck, we've WORKED together, when we Meet at the Water. Yes, there are those of us who are newbies. Or those of us whose hearts aren't in it. But...there are folks in "real" covens or groups or enclaves or whatever exactly like that. Are those covens or groups or enclaves less real because of them?
- I worry about the Pagan community I've found. I haven't had many negative experiences within it, but the ones I've seen can very quickly turn ugly and bitter, with folks taking sides and calling names. We must work together to be understanding and supportive when we come to those gaps in beliefs that can become schisms within our community that cannot be bridged.