… a thought making crooked all that is straight.

Pagan Dude – Pagan Dud

“Thanks, I’ll take these please.”

I place the book and crystal pyramid on the glass counter, and turn my head as a young man enters the shop. He stares intently at me with an openness I usually only see in the mentally impaired. Normally people steal a glance, lock eyes momentarily with a non-committal expression before looking away. He greets the assistant and looks at my purchases.

“A crystal pyramid. Awesome”.

“Er, yes.”

Oh, I get it. He’s The-Man-Who-Walks-Up-To-You-In-The-Pub. The stranger, perhaps seeing something too open in my expression, seizes the opportunity to connect.

“I just got back from a mad Summer Solstice festival, yeah, down in Breinton. Course, Covent Garden is the business. That’s where you can get all the proper pagan clothes. You see I’m a pagan and I HAVE to celebrate the solstice.”

“Oh, right.”

“Yeah, Celtic gods, An’allthat.”

Ah, An’allthat, that’s a new Celtic god to me, but I bow before his enthusiastic knowledge.

His assumptions prickle, and I can’t help but say, “We did our ritual this morning.” My goodness, am I really thumbing my metaphorical nose at him? Who is the youngster here?

“Awesome.”

At which point he starts groping inside his shirt and pulls out an ankh, nodding and grinning at my chest.

“Oh, yes.” I wear an ankh as well.

“Yeah, mine’s got a garnet in. My birthstone. So, yeah. This festival, it was so …”

Don’t tell me, awesome.

“… cool.”

“I hadn’t heard of a pagan festival nearby.”

“Oh, yeah, an’ then we’ve got The Big Chill coming up.”

I think the organisers of The Big Chill would be surprised to hear they are a pagan festival. Suddenly I wonder if the Summer Solstice festival he attended wasn’t actually a music festival. And my suspicions are confirmed as he reels off more known music events, that are about as pagan as the Pope.

“So,” say I. “Will you be going to the Ludlow Esoteric Fair?”

“Eastnor Castle?”

“No Ludlow Esoteric Fair.”

“Is that at the castle.”

“No.”

I explain where it will be, and mention the main aims of the conference. I mention Madeleine Montalban and The Regency Group.

“Oh, yeah,” he interrupts. “I went to the Conservationist Group thing in London. Thousands of people there. Well cool.”

I pause mid-breath and feel very old. Is this the generation gap that is yawning before my feet giving me vertigo?

He looks at me blankly. I start shoving my purchases into my bag. This conversation is going nowhere fast. He flips out a phone, and dials MD for Major Distraction, as I wave and smile at the assistant. He studiously avoids my gaze and pretends not to see me leave.

I walk away and wonder when it became so “awesome” to be pagan and so easy. Buy the clothes, go to the festivals, wear an ankh (that archetypal symbol of all things … Celtic?) and proudly tell whoever will listen, “Cos I’m pagan, yeah.”

Β© starofseshat 2008

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15 responses

  1. Oh my dear, that had me in stitches of laughter! You should write comedy – you have a talent, even though I completely believe this encounter happened. Poor boy, he must have been flummoxed. I wonder if he rushed home to find out about Ludlow…? Why do I guess not?!

    June 22, 2008 at 12:12 am

  2. starofseshat

    Thanks, Mereth πŸ™‚ Yup, it did happen and I just had to get it out of system somehow! πŸ˜‰
    I remember being too young to admit not knowing things; I don’t blame the poor boy for that. But it just had me wrapping my knuckles against my own head because this is such a trend amongst young people, and amongst those who should know better. Aargh.

    June 22, 2008 at 8:03 am

  3. The Green Witch

    Why do I always leave the scene before something like that happens??! How hilarious, I wish I’d been there!

    Poor lad; I bet you gave him a right turn. Perhaps he’ll ask himself a few questions? No, I don’t know; maybe! πŸ™‚

    June 22, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  4. I’m reminded of this quote:

    “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.

    ~ Malcolm X”

    Dear old Dion used to teach that it takes 3 life times to reach initiation – perhaps this guy was on his first life! We’re all on a journey, just at different places on the road.

    June 25, 2008 at 5:44 pm

  5. starofseshat

    Nice Quote, Andy. No, I don’t condemn him. As I said in my comment to Mereth I certainly remember being young and not being able to admit to not knowing things. I just find it frustrating that often this is the only kind of pagan that people see, and then the rest of us are judged accordingly. Do I care what other people think? Yes, because I live in a society with other people, and people’s opinions can make life rocky or smooth. Life throws enough rocks in our path, without any unnecessary additional ones.

    June 26, 2008 at 5:57 am

  6. Glad you like the quote, it’s one of my favourite. I do worry sometimes about the perception of an ‘elitist’ element in the Pagan world – it’s really something that I am not at all happy about. There are those who love to bash the ‘fluffy bunnies’ and whilst I have no wish to be one, I am more than aware that I was once! If someone treated me in the way that I see some of these people treated, it would have hindered my growth, without doubt. We were all fluffy once, we have all said daft things and made mistakes, but the person who never made a mistake never made anything. So let’s cut people some slack and let people be who they were intended to be in this incarnation. Let’s live and let live a little! I really don’t think that guy you met is going to cause rocks to come flying your way in any way shape or form! Let him be, he’s missing out, but he’s not harming anyone. He’s just on his path, doing his thing. Be happy for him.

    June 26, 2008 at 6:01 pm

  7. starofseshat

    Andy, I think you misunderstand me. It’s no attack on this boy personally. After all, the above is a fictional representation of something that happened to me, not a word-for-word documentary. I am always open to anyone interested in any spiritual path, at whatever stage they are at. I don’t think that emphasizing the importance of a true relationship to deity, rather than playing the part through clothes and bravado means that I advocate an elite. I do believe that because paganism is different, that a lot of people jump on the bandwagon for the ride and are not interested in the destination. That is up to them, of course, and I fully respect people’s decision to do what they like with their lives and their spirituality, or lack thereof. This boy was a cipher for me of a large element of the pagan community. Often the public face of paganism is all that people see, which then colours their impression of everyone who is pagan. I’m not being so simplistic as to say that this lone boy will be causing any trouble to my life – but he, as a cipher and stereotype, does. The public face of paganism which (according to people I have asked) is middle-class people looking like travellers/fairies/witches from the Wizard of Oz attending festivals as an excuse for a piss-up and drug-up is certainly not doing me personally any favours when I try to be open to people about my path (people being family and friends, I’m not interested in preaching πŸ˜‰ ).
    I fully respect the individuality of this boy. But I was trying to make a wider point following on from the Do Clothes Maketh the Witch post.

    June 27, 2008 at 7:08 am

  8. The Green Witch

    I do think that it is important to notice this sort of thing; this boy knew very little – seemingly- about paganism but was prepared to talk about it at length, and with someone he didn’t know. It might be interesting to think about his motives – showing off, trying to establish a communication, lack of understanding, flirting, feeling insecure, lonliness, or whatever it might happen to be.

    As a learning experience, it’s certainly one with a great deal of value in it; we can all learn something from the interaction described between seshat and this chap. What we each take from it will be highly individual.

    Far from being a personal attack, I think it was a very interesting summary of the encounter; I think it shows that the chap made quite a few (incorrect) assumptions about seshat. So as a mirror for how we’re seen, if nothing else, it was a valuable lesson.

    I also think that there is a distinction to be made between cutting people some slack and allowing people to impose upon you because they believe, erroneously in this case, that you share a path. This is not elitism. I think it would be hard to find a less elitist bunch of witches and seekers than us lot here.

    Everyone’s still learning, and as Andy says, we never know which life we’re on – this chap may be very new to the path. However, we all have a responsibility, towards our fellows and those we assume to be our fellows, of courtesy and respect. Call me an old fart – and I am one – but this is important to me.

    June 27, 2008 at 7:56 am

  9. Whoah! We’re in danger of sounding like a bunch of po-faced miseries.

    I thought the post was funny, but then, that’s my sense of humour. I don’t think, for one moment, that Seshat was being unkind or denying the lad his right to be a fluffy music festival ‘pagan’, goodness knows we’ve all been there at some stage of our development. It seemed more like a gentle giggle, not in an unkind way, just as we look back at lots of other things we have done in our past, with a rueful grin.

    Perhaps I’m wrong about everyone else’s take on this small episode. Certainly the dude doesn’t represent a deep adherence to Paganism, but he’s no different from many people. Perhaps the level of thought and contemplation you give to this area Seshat sets you apart more as the mystic type. The best analogy I can think of (and showing my Christian roots) is that dude is the average Sunday service attendee and you are the Thomas Aquinas of Paganism… not great I know, but I’m less familiar with other faith heritages.

    I don’t know – maybe I’m too superficial, but I thought it was hilarious.

    June 27, 2008 at 8:02 am

  10. starofseshat

    Not superficial at all. Spot on Mereth. It was intended merely as a gentle giggle, with thematic references back to what I said in a previous post. And that is exactly the analogy I had in mind about Sunday churchgoers v the more mystical approach. This is my draw to paganism, and the main reason why I reject the “coarse face” of major religions that I have spoken about before. Consequently I do get riled when I see the “churchgoer” attitude in pagans. For me that is purely membership in a social group and not spirituality. But either way, the aim was to give a chuckle, so I’m happy it hit the mark πŸ™‚

    June 27, 2008 at 9:07 am

  11. The Green Witch

    Have to say that I might have wet myself immoderately had I been confronted thus – just as well I’d left only moments before! πŸ™‚

    June 27, 2008 at 10:37 am

  12. starofseshat

    πŸ™‚ I’m sure you could have borrowed one of Mouse’s nappies πŸ™‚ Though if you had been there, one look from you would have sent me into a fit of giggles! As it was I acted my full 33.9 years of age πŸ˜‰

    June 27, 2008 at 10:52 am

  13. Oh dear! Please don’t get the wrong idea, my comments were based on a fear that has developed from my previous experiences on pagan message boards and things, and that’s based upon direct experience of people being criticised rather than supported. The humour of this post was not lost on me, of course it wasn’t, but I just have an underlying unease that in terms of people finding it easier to criticise than support – I’ve both seen and experienced it. Yes, we will be embarrassed by some, and frustrated by others. This guy may not even have really understood what being pagan meant. Of course going to a festival or even a pagan shop doesn’t make you pagan – if it did then going to a garage would make you a motorcar! In a way I wish I hadn’t said anything, but I’m both concerned and frustrated regarding the climate within some pagan circles where there’s reluctance to extend the hand of friendship and support. That bothers me. I’m not saying that Seshat is among those doing that, of course I’m not, rather it’s simply a case of me seeing things that have happened in other venues reflected within this post, and it worried me. That’s all.

    June 27, 2008 at 7:53 pm

  14. starofseshat

    My dear Andy, you are fully within your rights to express your worries, and I’m glad you don’t have the wrong impression of me – I certainly would not have been rude or negative towards the young man, or towards anyone for that matter.
    I actually share your concern regarding the “welcome” extended in some pagan forums. I completely agree with you there. There can be quite a cliquey attitude which is not helpful and certainly can appear elitist – although generally such people are just very insecure and hardly worthy of being called an “elite” πŸ˜‰ though they may think that themselves.
    Believe me, I was more than willing to extend a hand of friendship to the boy (I initially mentioned Ludlow because I wondered if he wanted to join our little gathering there), but we really were talking two different languages and coming from such extremely different corners; consequently my friendliness stopped at that which I would show to any stranger – smile, chat and move on.
    It seems we both have concerns about different aspects of the pagan community, although the things we are concerned about are just normal expressions of human behaviour when humans congregate into groups. As such, I for one, probably need give up on hoping for things to be different, save the energy I would expend on worrying about other people, and focus more on my immediate environment. A lesson I keep having to relearn! πŸ˜‰

    June 27, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  15. You are right in that group dynamics are indeed a reality. Sub groups are a normal development of group life, but these sub groups can also be hot spots of resentment, prejudice and all kinds of nasties. These groups do need challenging at times. As a manager of people, this is a major part of my job.

    And yes, where we spend our energy is important, I agree. I don’t want to give up thinking that I can make a difference as I know that I was intended to be here for the Now, and whatever little difference I may achieve, that was my path. Sounds so simple – I wish it was!

    June 28, 2008 at 5:25 pm

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