The Generic Pagan Community

Back in May of 2002 I spent a few days moving rocks around a small pond we put in the yard. Some of the rocks were almost round, while others were flat, or had unique shapes or coloration. I do not think that any two of the rocks were the same.

In a great many ways, in my opinion, the various paths that fall within the Magickal/Pagan family of beliefs and Traditions are a lot like those rocks. Each one offers something different and unique. Each one has its' own strengths and values. As a whole, these various groups and individuals in the Magickal/Pagan community help to create a rich culture full of value and life.

Having been part of the Magickal/Pagan community in one form or another for almost 35 years, I have always enjoyed and valued the diversity. The variety has been one of the elements that has endeared the Magickal/Pagan path to me. So it is with great confusion and concern that I view the concept and those who would lump ALL Pagans under one ultimate definition.

This might come as a surprise for those who try to define what a Pagan is, but many Pagans are not Wiccan, and some witches are not Pagan! The Rede is not the end-all of Pagan ethics, and (in my not so humble opinion) the bastardized form of "Harm None" misses the whole point of the Rede!

In 2003 I put a second pond in our yard. One of the reasons for doing so was because I discovered that the scope of the first pond was limited. I wanted to grow plants that had requirements other than what the first pond had to offer. The type of fish I wanted to raise were larger than what the first pond could support. So in the end I had two ponds, while both were ponds, each was uniquely different in their own way. The first served the purpose for which it had been created, that being a water feature in our front yard, while the second allowed me the environment to raise Koi and a variety of water plants.

Of late I have began to understand that what I had always thought of as "one" Magickal/Pagan community, is in reality really many communities. On one hand you have those who are drawn to the Pagan community for 90% purely religious reasons. On the other hand you have those who view their path more on the level of a personal spiritual path, and have traveled down it following the calling of their craft. And then there's the New Age community. These (examples of overly simplified) groups are each valid in their own right.

As a general rule I have no problem with the concept of many communities under the umbrella of the Generic Pagan Community. That is, I have no problem until someone tries to force their self defined concept of community upon me. Maybe, just maybe I'm not a member of their community. Maybe, just maybe I don't agree with their ethics (or lack there of). Maybe, just maybe I have no desire to be counted as part of their community. I like my community just fine as it is "Thank You Very Much!"

While I'm on the subject of community, what is a Pagan community elder? I can accept the concept of an elder within a Tradition or group, but of the whole Generic Pagan Community? Who elected them? Why should their opinion be anymore valid than anyone else? Community leaders I can buy into, those are the people who step up and get stuff done for the community. In my opinion that does not make them an elder, it simply makes them civic minded (in a Pagan kind of way). My experience of Self appointed Pagan Community Elders is along the same lines as Big Name Pagan Authors, they just have the ability to make more noise than the average person.

Where I live now, I no longer have a pond, but I do still stacks rocks in my garden, and the rocks still remind me of the various and unique communities that makeup the umbrella of the Generic Pagan Community.

Author: Parker Torrence, of the DraigSidhe
October 2009