This post is primarily based on an experience that occurred in 2008, though in all fairness it’s pretty common at almost any PPD, that I’ve been to in recent memory. As we are fast approaching PPD season, seemed like a good time to bring it up.
So…my family and I go to our local Pagan Pride Day almost every year, and though some years it’s better than others, I am often left wondering if my standards and/or expectations of other Pagans are a bit too high.
I realize too, that there are a whole group of people who categorize themselves as Pagans, who are simply “wannabes”. These are the ones who are doing this too piss off their parents, or because they saw “The Craft” once and thought it looked cool, or any number of other less than “noble” reasons. What gets me though, is it seems to be these particular people who often show up in droves to the PPD events. Maybe they think that since it is a gathering of other Pagans, that it is ok to let loose, not that they really have any sort of understanding of Paganism, outside of stereotypes anyways. However, I still have to question…why? Why break out the fairy wings and renaissance wear – the Harry Potter gear, and extreme Goth wear?
In this case I don’t mean people who may normally dress that way on a regular basis, but the ones – and you can tell the difference – who are dressed up like PPD is one giant Halloween party. I also understand completely the concept of ritual wear, though again (and maybe this is just a personal quirk, but I know others that feel the same way) ritual wear is generally reserved for ritual purposes only. Wearing ritual gear out into the mundane world allows it to absorb those energies, which generally leaves them kind of icky (‘cuz you know people have all sorts of crazy energetic baggage – and especially when you are around a large group of people, you never know what you are going to pick up). Then you then have to go through the effort of cleansing them, and it’s usually just better to keep them away from that sort of thing.
So we shout Pagan Pride and expect others to take us seriously, and yet if this is the public “face” that we are putting on… can we really expect for anyone to take us seriously and give us the respect we deserve? I can understand that we don’t necessarily want to exclude anyone, but part of bringing Paganism to the mainstream (or at least raising tolerance levels) is letting people know that “hey… we are just like you”. That we should be able to dress however we want (be one Pagan or otherwise) is an issue as well, but until we live in that world, it’s still seems that one should be dressing some what appropriately (not particularly fond of that word, but it will have to do). At the very least, we should not be going out of our way to dress/act in a way that perpetuates the negative stereotypes we are trying so very hard to break away from.
There are many people who have chosen a Paganism because they are seriously seeking a religion or a spiritual path that they have not been able to find elsewhere. As one of those people, I find that I resent the “intrusion” of these “wannabes”. I am sick of wading through endless amounts of fluff, to find one small shred of valid truth. Just once, I’d like to go to a Pagan gathering and come away feeling like I learned something valuable, not like I’ve been violated. If I wanted to go to the a carnival or Ren Faire, then that is where I would go. As I said in the beginning, maybe my standards are too high – but if we are ever to be taken seriously, then maybe it is time that others raised their standards as well.