So in hunting around the ‘net yesterday, and seeing if anyone else was getting an early start on the Pagan Values blog carnival, I surfed on over to Hecate’s blog.
That’s how I found her excellent post “Pagan Values?“, the first of two excellent postings on the matter there~by the by, to quote her first post in portion…
“Sia alerts me to the fact that a blogger has declared June to be Blog About Pagan Values Month.
In June the sun is at it’s height in the Northern Hemisphere and nearly hidden from view in the Southern Hemisphere. Midsummer and Yule, festivals of fire and of light.
Let us then use our hearts and minds and words, invoking the fires of inspiration; let us write of the virtues and ethics and morals and values we have found in our Pagan paths, let us share how we carry these precious things forward in our own lives and out into the world.
Hmmm. Why? Because the sun is high? I may have missed something.”
And, at first, I thought she had. Then I read the rest of her post and was gladdened to see that (as is often the case with her) she hadn’t missed much of anything. She does raise a central question…
Well, first off, to quote the very beginning of my original post on the matter…
I have decided that I am tired at how some factions within other spiritual and faith traditions talk and act as if they have a monopoly on values and virtue and ethics.
Therefore I am issuing a call and a challenge to my fellow Pagan netizens…”
So on one level Hecate had missed something in that my intro hadn’t been passed along… these things happen. Given my previous post on the values and virtues I have discovered within Witchcraft, you can see how it might really bother me to see folks on the Fundamentalist Right speak and act as if they had a monopoly on decency morality and virtue, and that everyone else was just a bunch of evil amoral sluts.
Then too, there is the fact that I sometimes feel like there are those in the Pagan movement who really haven’t done more than scratch the surface of Paganism and Heathenry in some respects. As Hecate also observes in her first Pagan Values Month post…
“One thing I like about Pagans is that we don’t proselytize. And, honestly, if you’ve spent any time among Pagans you know that (1) no two Pagans agree about anything, hell, most of us disagree with our own selves half the time, and (2) there are as few Pagans living the Wiccan Rede or any other form of Pagan Values as there are xians living the command to “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.” In fact, for a lot of Pagans, their religion consists of buying new-agey stuff in stores that reek of incense instead of buying makeup in the mall. I’ve known Pagans who are not-nice-people. “Witch wars” describes an actual phenomenon.”
This is all true. There are plenty of folks in our communities who talk about being Pagan and who participate in (and even lead) rituals and events and organizations who do not seem to have incorporated the values and ideals espoused in the various traditions (and Traditions) into their daily lives and behaviors. We need to start having more public community wide and Pagan interfaith discussions of our values and virtues and ideals!
We need to show and be able to explain to some of those outside of Paganism, to help them understand that, as a matter of fact, many Pagans are quite good, honorable, and virtuous people. In this way we will be able to find friends and allies as we seek, quite naturally, to participate in the spiritual and political and social and cultural fabrics of our lager regional and national communities.
We need to start having these discussions because we have, especially in the last 20-30 years or so, grown quite rapidly from relatively remote groups and small tribes into an ever more interconnected series of tribes.
Paganism is a religious, spiritual, and social movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities. These smaller communities are begining to coalesce into larger national and international communities.
It seems to me that for the many different Pagan faiths and paths there is overall theme of individual and group development into being a better person(s) (personal growth and perhaps enlightenment, although it is not necessarily phrased as such) by practicing certain rites, and developing our relationships with the Divine (or the essence of All That Is) and with the Spirits of the World Around Us (Elements and Land Spirits), and living certain intertwining and overlapping virtues and values.
We end up building our relationships with others in our own regional and faith communities as we live those virtues and values and practice our rites and ways.
Eventually, personal growth and development, both within ourselves and in our relationship to our Deities, leads us quite naturally into engagement with other branches of Paganism. Then, from there, as we seek to live our paths and our values in our everyday lives we are led into engagement with the rest of Society.
Our movement is growing up into a community, and that is the main reason why we need to start having some serious and adult conversations about who we are and what our individual Paganisms, and Paganism overall, is all about!