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Pagans that make you cringe

Atratus's picture

After the now imfamous thread in the Smoke Pit, and N's comment in the "Introduce Yourself" thread ("I tend to avoid most other pagans like the plague because I keep meeting really insanely stupid ones.") I'm compelled to raise the question: what makes a "pagan" cringeworthy?

The first red flag for me any anyone who goes on about "the craft" (especially if they use a capitol "C"). If said noob is male it immediately makes me presume that their introduction to wicca was by drooling over Neve Campbell wearing a school-girl uniform in the movie of the same name. Not that Neve Campbell in a school-girl outfit isn't drool-worthy, but it certainly isn't enough to base one's spirituality on.

Certainly someone who is coming from reading Crowley or derivatives thereof has some justification for using the term, but it is still cringe inducing because it's pretty much an idication that they don't know where Crowley was coming from. "The craft" isn't witchcraft, but rather masonry. Crowley unabashedly repackaged Masonic rituals as his "Old Religion" (albeit it's wholly likely that the Masonic rituals themselves are incorporations of old folk traditions practiced by the working-class stone masons that orignally formed the guild). Anyone that speaks in all seriousness about the "Old Religion" and "the craft" immediately makes me wary and suspect they may be more of a popular "me-ist" being pretentious rather than sincerely spiritual.

Same goes for terms like "PectiWita" (which is Pictish, i.e. Highland Scottish, "witchcraft", or more simply put, folk traditions). It's mostly a pretense to raise relatively commonplace (especially in a Canadian context where a good many of our traditions come from early Scottish settlers, most of which were Highlanders who just wanted to get the fuck out of the crossfire during the clan wars and subsequent English invasions) traditions and superstitions to a more elevated status so that the wholesale appropriation of these traditions is "spirituality" and not cultural tourism. The rabbit's foot I had as a kid: it wasn't a traditional good luck charm, it's a PectiWitan ritual object.

That's really what it comes to, the pagans that don't make me cringe are those that are quietly following the traditions that come from their families and communities. They are folk traditions, superstition, old-wives tales, and just "the way it's always been done".

I find a lot of, as N put it, "insanely stupid" pagans are people who don't have a clue about their own histories and are desperately glomming onto a "flavour of the week" in a pathetic attempt to invent one for themselves (a la the Ministry of Truth) and escape reality rather than genuinely looking at themselves, their background, and the real world they live in.

...Who walk up to you and tell you what pretty wings you have, who float around with their eyes closed because they 'live, see and feel on the Astral plane', who pretty much act like Professor Trelawney(Shame on me for not knowing how to spell her name)...

Esquire, for future reference, it would be helpful if you read at least some of the other posts on the thread prior to yours because almost every one stated the fact that yes, not every pagan is bad and yes, other religions have flawed members as well, but this thread was about "pagans" who send up red flags, who make you cringe, who border on insane...

I think it was around December 6th that this conversation turned from a serious discussion about Paganism to a debate about monster movies. Now I didn't read through every single post, so please forgive me if I'm repeating myself. I don't think it's fair to persecute an entire religion based on a few people who think witchcraft is cool, or a way to rebel. Take a teenage girl who just had a bad break up, then she goes and gets a copy of Teen Witch and tries to cast a revenge spell on her ex, not realizing that Wiccans are supposed to practice white magick. We've all heard this story before. Okay, maybe you haven't, but I'm sure it's happened before. Most pagans are sincere about their religion though. It's just a few bad apple that spoil it for the rest of them. The same could be said about Christianity. Take those guys down south who burn Harry Potter books because they have to do with witchcraft....Now, that's borderline Nazi-ism in my opinion. I'm not a Harry Potter fan, but books are supposed to be read, not burned. Thankfully most other Christians aren't like that. I might not agree with someone's beliefs, but I would never dream of knocking them.

Now, onto the good stuff.....I haven't seen "Godzilla vs. The Monster from Planet X". I have seen "Godzilla vs. Mothra", "Godzilla vs. Rodan", "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla", "Gidrah, The Three-Headed Monster", all classics. I'm not a cinematography buff like Atratus, but I knows what I likes in my monster movies. But the grand daddy of them all has to be "King Kong vs. Godzilla". I think this was the best monster movie ever. I just found out that there really wasn't an alternate ending. They did that to appease fans of both guys. Kong swims away from Japan after Godzilla doesn't resurface. Kong fans think Kong wins because he beat Godzilla into the water and he doesn't come up again. Godzilla fans think it's at worst, a draw because Godzilla came from the water originally and obviously isn't going to drown. Either that, or they think that Kong forfeits and retreats.....Probably the same story when they made Freddy vs. Jason. I'm a Jason fan, and I'm certain Jason won. My friend is a Freddy fan and he saw the same movie I saw and there's no doubt in his mind that Freddy won. Funny how people see the same thing, but see something different at the same time.

I have seen Dracula, and read the book...  heck, I've even seen Nosferatu!

As for you, Swoop, I am disappointed that you haven't seen Schindler's List or Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  However, I must say I haven't seen many of the other films on your above list, either.  I feel so...  young and inexperienced.  Sometimes I think I need to win the lottery so I can spend five years buying movies and albums and just spend my time watching and listening to them respectively.  I suppose, after that, I would have to spend a majority of the rest of my life reading and learning so I could die a well-rounded human being...  except I would probably turn into a pale blob from never moving or going outside.  Bah!

I was listing movies I hadn't seen.  Godzilla vs Mothra, yes, Godzilla vs the Monster from Planet X, no.  Yet another to add to the list I suppose.

No.  There are dozens of movies you haven't seen.  You just haven't had time.  I mean, you were only a year old when the movie came out.  You wouldn't have been allowed to see it, let alone understand it. 

There are dozens of movies many of us haven't seen.  I haven't seen Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, The Graduate, Schindler's List, The Maltese Falcon, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, Annie Hall, Midnight Cowboy, Doctor Zhivago, Taxi Driver, The Sound of Music (I always miss the end), Rebel Without A Cause, Vertigo, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Shane, 12 Angry Men (1957), The Pianist, The Third Man (I used to listen to the radio show, but...), Requiem For A Dream, Cool Hand Luke, The Philidelphia Story, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels... {does that make dozens yet?  I think that makes dozens.}  All movies I feel obliged to see at some point, but for some reason haven't made it on to my view schedule yet.  In my defense, More than half of these were released before my birth, and a fair number of the rest were released prior to my developing any language skills.  So no, not a failure simply for not having seen a movie or two. 

You have seen Dracula, though, right?  If you haven't seen Dracula, and you have 250 posts on a gothic website, you are most definately a failure.  Yes, a failure are you if Dracula has not yet been seen.  Shame shame shame.  Please disregard this paragraph if you've seen Dracula.

pagenism makes me cringe and try to stay away from in the first place because my dad used to be pagen and no i have NO IDEA if im spelling that right .......im bored im going to watch full metal jacket.

My my my...  I am sorry, dear, but you have shown your ignorance card too early and now you're in for a world or mockery.

First off, the correct spelling of "pagan" is right in the title of this thread.  Second, that post was not only useless but it was also slightly offensive.  I don't believe your father was a pagan, or you would have at least a slight understanding of the subject and not be so judgemental.  Stop acting like an imbecile and start thinking before you post bashing a religion that some people here have accepted as their own.

I wish that you hadn't taken my invitation to peruse the boards as an invitation to make unintelligent comments on long-dead threads.  Please, for the good of all of us involved, think before you type.  (n00b)

pagenism makes me cringe and try to stay away from in the first place because my dad used to be pagen and no i have NO IDEA if im spelling that right .......im bored im going to watch full metal jacket.

It sure isn't.  Coming from the Christian perspective, I know that it can get pretty scary inside the church.  In fact, I have been ostracized from my former circle of friends for living with my boyfriend because these people's faith far outweighs their care for me as a friend.  Go figure.

Just adding my thoughts here......

Having come from a community that is primarily Christian, I have noticed a similiarity between "Jesus freaks" and scary Pagans. All seem to be absorbed in all aspects of their beliefs, to the point that it dictates all parts of their life, including conversations with others (for example, "I had a rough day, but I knew the Goddess was there with me, so it was okay"; or "Oh, I just know God led me to talk to you today!").

They are intense, but only outwardly so. They also seem to be addicted to drama, whether be acted out through the flaunting of "supernatural powers", or through the "possesion" of a girl (true story..... I was at the bible study where it "happend".... of course, I was to blame..... *rolls eyes*). I find these people are often the ones who hunger for any and all attention. It is sad, because it unfortunatly causes many people to believe all pagans are this way......

Hmm, I'm not in the slightest bit familiar with the practice of selling family pew space I must admit, and I've never thought of psychics and astrologers as selling their religion, but rather offering a serivce of their skills.

Any one who sells them self as a witch or pagan. "Oh, I do spells for my celebrity friends, pay me so much and I'll cast one for you." was the general idea of a web site i came accross recently. I detest the idea of making money off something that is not yours to sell, like religion.

Well, precisely. As someone mentioned, the loudest and most insistent of the group usually knows the least.

Myself, I suppose I could profess to be a Pagan, but normally I do not discuss my beliefs unless I am asked of them, or unless of course, I have come into a forum in which religion is openly discussed. I believe that people who force their beliefs down the throats of others need to be skinned and fed alive to giant, blood-hungry boars, so generally I keep quiet about what I think, religiously.

I have been known to say, out of exasperation, 'Oh Gods...' but other than that, I don't think I put out much other signs.

I've met a few Pagans whom I've been less than impressed with, whom are Pagans simply because the magazines say it's "the different thing to do."

I generally tend to avoid Pagans as well, but as always, there are the few individuals whom are wondrous to discuss things with.

Still new here... but what the heck... LOL!!

I noticed you mentioned Llewlellyn and couldn't help myself.  I have read some of the Llewellyn books and can't say I'm all that impressed.  To be perfectly honest... it seems like a white-washed version of Wicca... but that's just my impression. 

I have been a Pagan and following my own beliefs for over two decades.  I don't join with others in ceremonies and such... I don't feel the need or desire to join a coven... I don't dance naked under the full moon... I do have a small book of spells which I use on a fairly regular basis.  No, I don't share these with anyone.  These are spells that work for ME... I am an individual and my spells reflect that.  Some of them were passed down to me from my grandmother, others are ones that "came" to me as I was meditating.

This is not just something I play around with when the mood strikes me....

This is my life.  I take the time and energy each and everyday to devote to it.  I have met some pagans who had NO concept of what they were doing... yes, I agree, those kind are rather annoying.  But instead of critisizing them... I try to help them.  I try to explain that this isn't just a passing fancy to be taken lightly... but something to devote yourself to.  You can't just go to a "church" once a week and figure that's all there is to it.  Some people listen.... others don't... but at least I have tried to help them decide if this path is really the best one for them.  And let's face it... it's NOT for everyone.  At times it can be a very lonely path to travel... it's not like there is an abundance of pagans in the neighbourhood to talk to... ;)  But I have found it to be fullfilling for me.  I am happy and content with my chosen lifestyle and when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror... I am happy with who I am.  For me... that's all that matters.  :) 

Take care

S.

Oh, goodness. This is going to be a VERY belated reply... I'm afraid I was sucked into a dank Lovecraftian pit for a few months, there. (I'd divulge more information but the horror, gasp, it would drive you mad! ^^) However, this is a topic I just cannot keep my dirty little paws off of.

Both online and in 'meat life' I have met pagans that just made me want to look frantically at other people and mouth "I'm not with them!" So yes, by now I've developed a few red flags that let me know if I'm talking to someone who will most likely cause me to go into a fit of boiling rage.

Red Flag #1 - Any mention of 'The Goddess.'

Now, I'm not bashing anyone out there who is in touch with their Divine Feminine or whatever, but the vast majority of fluffy nutcases I've met have casually used this phrase within five minutes of speaking to me. (For example, saying "Thank the Goddess!" instead of the more common "thank gawd.")

Red Flag #2 - claiming to be Wiccan and then asking for spells.

Uhm yeah. I think we've all seen this one happen. (I personally don't consider Wicca and witchcraft to be the same thing, so if someone claims to be following a religion and yet appears to only be interested in magic, well, I lose respect for them. If they were honest and said "hell, I just want to hex the crap out of my neighbours" then I'd be less likely to label them a jackass.)

Red Flag #3 - trolling for  sex

Because, you know, we're all into those wicked orgies! Worse still are the 'spoooooky magician' types. You know, the guys who claim to be Necromancers who have mastered the secrets of the universe and so apply this knowledge by using it to try and pick up chicks? (Because we ladies are just soooo impressed by a guy's ability to summon the dead. Uhm, we could make a goth joke here really easily...)

Red Flag #4 - The Rede as Law and equating 'dark' with 'evil'

Anyone who recites the Wiccan Rede at me basically goes down in my esteem. Not that it isn't a nice guideline and all, but just reciting it as moral law is on par with reciting the Ten Commandments and generally indicates a lack of critical thought.

The latter is just vaguely irritating and sometimes amusing.  A friend of mine was talking to another lady who said she was Wiccan. My friend doesn't know much about paganism, but what she does know is mostly from me ranting to her. Anyhow, she asked if the lady had a 'patron deity' and mentioned that she had a friend (yours truly) who worshipped "that Irish one with the crows. Uhm... Morgan?" The nice young Wiccan lady proceeded to flip out. When my friend told me this story I could only giggle. I mean, what the hell?

Both of these indicate to me that the person in question has not given much thought to their own personal morals but rather is just spewing out what they learned in a Llewlellyn 101 book.

And lastly... Red Flag #5 - "I've been studying for [insert period of time]! "

I am not trying to slam newbs (I was a retarded teenager at one point too, after all) but it seems to me that nine times out of ten when people say this it's a) a very short period fo time and b) in all that study time, they've had no practice.

I've got countless stories of pagans that just made me stare and mutter, "are you for real?" Hence my avoiding most others like the plague.

As for building strength in the community... If my words make some darling little witchy-wannabe open her eyes and rexamine her spiritual path, then good! My near-constant ranting about fluffybunnies and people using the occult as an excuse to live out grandiose delusions are not designed to discourage people from trying 'alternative' religions. Rather, I just want to encourage more critical thought in those little subcultures. Because we do not need mroe legions of SRW-devotees, now do we?

-N (the late.)

You raise some interesting thoughts about Paganism here in Canada.  It is different from in England in a lot of ways, I've found.  Just my experience.  I'm sorry to hear that you've had negative experiences of people who are into that and seem insane or pretentious to you.   

The way I see it is that there are a lot of people who may seem pretentious or insincere.  It could also be that they are just finding their way, looking for understanding and respect.  They feel drawn from a young age to things gothic or pagan, without really understanding why.  It's either in the blood or it isn't, I believe.  About sixteen years ago,  I got into the gothic scene, as I was growing up...and, at around the same age, got into tarot and runes and stuff.  It all went hand in hand for me.  A way of walking, a way of talking.  Know what I mean.  That may not be the case for everybody, but I think it is for a lot of people, especially younger people. 

Word in your shell.  What we say has power.  It affects people.  I found your post interesting, but if I were sixteen again, I probably would have felt a bit intimidated.  Are we building strength and unity in the vancouver gothic community, or are we weakening it by what we say? 

Regards,

White Wolf

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