Wiccan Unity (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being Solitary)

Please stop.

Stop crying for “Pagan Unity.” The more you cry for Pagan Unity, the more divisiveness you create.

There was a time when I called for Pagan Unity. I was even part of the Pagan Unity Campaign — State Chair for Hawaii. I admit this without shame; I was younger and not well educated about the larger community of pagans and why something like PUC would cause such anger and vitriol. The only pagans I had come across were Wiccan, so I had come to the natural conclusion that all pagans were Wiccan. The others I’d run into had certainly never tried to disabuse me of this notion.

To be fair, what PUC was calling for was political unity — simply asking pagans to remind their EOs that they were pagans who voted. To give EOs an idea of the amount of pagans in their jurisdictions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reminding your EOs that you’re here and you vote, because that is democracy in action. Nor do I think there’s anything wrong with combining religion and politics; in fact I think you can’t not do that. The personal is political.

However, the PUC went about it the wrong way when they tried to define Paganism as “earth-based”. A perfect definition of a pagan is The Cauldron‘s: A Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan.

Really, that’s all you need. It covers everything. Paganism is not a monolithic religion; it’s a term for a movement more than anything else (the Neo-Pagan movement, specifically). The problem with calling it earth-based is that not all pagan religions are earth-based any more than they are on the planet earth.

Yes, the Neo-Pagan movement came about because people hungered for something else to fill their spiritual cups, and they looked backwards through time, to ancient beliefs. That doesn’t make it all earth based. The ancients were just as messed up as we are. If they held great secrets as to how to live in perfect harmony with the earth, they didn’t share.

Now, aside from the PUC’s great mistake — the mistake of calling all pagans earth based — other mistakes have been made, and in my view they’re much worse. PUC is a small group. According to most sources, the majority of pagans are Wiccans or Neo-Wiccans — I’m not sure how you’d actually prove this as we don’t have a worldwide pagan census, but for the sake of argument let’s say this is true. In my own experience it certainly has been; seems everyone starts out in Wicca and then either stays there or moves on to another religion. Wicca certainly seems to be the gateway drug to Paganism as a whole.

Wiccans believe certain things that other pagans frequently do not. Paganism is still fringe enough that if you mention you’re pagan to someone and they know what it is, they’ll assume you’re Wiccan.

I wouldn’t have a huge problem with this if it were just a matter of Wicca being the largest pagan religion and therefore the most well-known one. I’m sure there are sects of the Big Three that I don’t know a thing about because they’re fairly small.

No, my problem comes from Wiccans or Wiccanesque people calling for unity by saying that all pagans believe in the Rede and follow it, or we all worship Maiden, Mother, and Crone, or we all have Esbats and Sabbats, or we all believe in the Three Fold Law, or any gods or goddesses we worship are all just facets of THE Lord and Lady, or….

Look, if you’re going to talk about Wiccan Community and Wiccan Unity, go fucking wild. I will not complain. That’s your thing. Not going to tell you it’s not your thing if you leave me the fuck out. But when you start opening up old wounds by spreading the falsehood that non-Wiccan pagans are anything like you and then telling us to get over it for the sake of unity, we’re not going to react too kindly to the idea of Pagan Unity. Your actions breed bitterness and hurt, which causes more division.

Leave it the fuck alone and eventually we’ll get there. You can’t force unity. Trying to do so — making a “call” to the “Pagan Community” for us to “stop being catty” — will not win you any non-Wiccan friends. It will simply cause more and more of us non-Wiccans to become more and more isolated, farther away from the label of “Pagan”. I’m so close to not using the label myself that…well, actually, I don’t use it anymore.

Hm. Wonder why.

4 replies on “Wiccan Unity (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being Solitary)”

  1. Have there been lots of calls for “Pagan Unity” coming from Wiccans who actually mean Wiccan Unity? I’ve seen some debates about the meaning of “Pagan” recently, but they’ve all been started on/around and continued by places like The Wild Hunt and the Patheos Pagan Portal which, if anything, can be somewhat anti-Wiccan in their fervor to be all-inclusive.

    On the other hand, I was never Wiccan, so maybe I just don’t travel in the right circles. 🙂 I meet far fewer Wiccans who assume that “Pagan” means Wiccan, than reconstructionist-type polytheists who assume that “Pagan” means Wiccan and that no self-respecting pagan/polytheist would call themselves “Pagan” when everyone knows Wiccans have totally co-opted the word. Most Wiccans I know are fine acknowledging that not all Pagans are Wiccans (and hell, not all Wiccans are Pagans).

    Maybe I’m just lucky in the company I keep, though. 😉

    1. It may be luck. I may just run into it a lot because I used to be Wiccan.

      There was a blog post that prompted mine here. I’m not sure if the guy who wrote it IDs as Wiccan specifically, but he did say that the entire Pagan Community honoured Maiden, Mother, and Crone. And I was just like, dude, if you’re calling for us to be unified maybe you could spend two seconds to learn what the fuck it is the rest of us actually believe.

      I mean, his general idea (“Let’s stop being assholes to each other”) I can get behind, but not the way he said it and certainly not if he’s going to start saying what it is we all believe “as a community.” There’s only one thing that pagans do “as a community” and that’s argue.

  2. Ali, if Katje is responding to the post I think she means (which is the same one I posted about on my blog, prompting a temper tantrum from the OP), it’s from Peter Dybing’s Pagan in Paradise blog. http://paganinparadise.blogspot.com/2011/07/indictment-of-my-pagan-elders.html When I called him out, saying that his behavior by claiming that “we as a community honor Mother, Maiden, and Crone,” was divisive because of the issues of identity erasure it raised, and that perhaps behavior like that was part of the reason there IS such antagonism between certain pagan groups, he got really angry, started claiming I’d misquoted him, told me I was off subject, and unfriended me on Facebook. Way to promote unity.

    1. Yes, I am replying to that post and his subsequent reaction to Stephy’s assessment. His attitude reminded me of the same attitude I’ve encountered for years, so I went into a general rant instead of talking about his post specifically. I didn’t link it for that reason, though maybe I should have.

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