Friday, 10 May 2013

Pagan Escapism

I am aware that this post will probably offend some people but I feel like I need to speak my mind here.

I have come to know of many Pagans out there who appear to delve in to the world of 'fantasy' and dress up a bit too deeply and a bit too seriously. To name a few examples (with the intent that these people cannot be identified on here): I have recently come across a woman who calls herself a 'female wizard' and as a part of this spiritual path of hers she wears a big blue pointed hat and blue wizard robes - just like you would see in a children's cartoon. I have also been introduced to an (actually lovely) woman who is a 'real fairy' and wears plastic fairies ears. To top this off I have also come across 'real vampires' and 'real werewolves'.

Now I think there is a point where us modern Pagans get a bit carried away. As Pagans the majority of us feel that we must be tolerant and accepting of all paths of Paganism, welcoming everyone with open arms, embracing diversity. Whilst I think this is important I do think the 'let anyone in' attitude can be detrimental in encouraging the world to seriously accept us. At a time where Pagans are trying to be accepted and recognised in society, with schools putting Pagan religions in the R.E curriculum and pentagrams being allowed on soldiers grave stones, it couldn't be more important to show people that we are normal and nothing to be afraid of.

How can we be taken seriously as a genuine spiritual path if the Pagans who stand out the most are the ones wearing wizard hats, fairy ears, and indulging in a form of vampirism? These people are the ones who stand out and are often the most outspoken about being in the 'Pagan' category.

I've seen many people come into Paganism for the wrong reasons. The media and history has lead people to know witches as evil women who can cast fantastic spells; so I have seen countless people sign up to Paganism and absorb themselves in trying to learn spells and magic, ultimately facing disappointment due to their false hopes and lack of magical understanding. 

To be a witch in the modern day there is no need to wear a witches hat, which is really aligning yourself to the negative stereotype rather than the genuine reality. Most witches I know of do not wear a witches hat seriously, and only don it in jest. So why do some paths then wear a fairy tale wizards hat, or plastic fairy ears? Not only this, but medieval garb, pharaoh's nemes crowns and all sorts of other outfits seem very popular.

There's also people who claim impressive titles and believe they were exciting figures in their past lives (there have been hundreds of Cleopatras some how). This is another part of this escapism, adding excitement to your life. In some cases such people are those who feel powerless in mundane life; they feel uninteresting, boring, unloved. Some coming to Paganism and finding this new found power, excitement and creating an interesting character for themselves - and being accepted into a community for the first time, can be a great incentive. But it really is sad that these people feel they need to do this. But we are all expected to except them no matter what.

Now - there is a part of me that understands the significance that such outfits could hold. Ritual drama is very effective at times and the old imagery could be of aid to us. But this is not appropriate for every ritual, and unnecessary as a public display of your spiritual path. There are ritual garments that we own that help us shift our consciousness from the mundane into the sacred. For me, this is the removal of shoes, wearing a skirt and my sacred jewelry; to others it is the robes, cloaks and that special medieval dress. This is why many of us feel conflicted in how to handle this whole situation. Sometimes it's ok, sometimes it's not; some clothes are fine, others are not... The balance is essential, but hard to find and impossible to enforce with any deal of fairness. 

Nevertheless, in my opinion what I deem as 'getting carried away', does seem like a type of Pagan escapism. In this modern world where we are absorbed in mundane life, the magic has been stripped from us. Getting in touch with the ancestors and reawakening a long lost time can be spiritually freeing. I have walked in the autumn woods in a black cloak and long skirt before, during a festival gathering. It feels exhilarating doesn't it? You travel back to a lost time and for a moment it feels real. But it's not. We should be able to recognise what is real and what isn't; we live in the modern day now and even with history aside, certain legendary people and creatures never really existed.

Now returning to this idea of tolerance. I do believe that in order for a peaceful and tolerant world to exist, with everyone accepting everyone else, then we cannot make exceptions. We must accept everyone, so long as they harm none. People who do insist on indulging in this world of fantasy and dress up are not hurting anyone. Really we should leave them to it, not harm them, not be nasty to them, or ostracise them. But we can all have opinions about them and so long as we harm none with these opinions then so be it. 

We are never going to agree after all.


  1. I was talking about this with some friends just the other day. I would even go a step further than you and say that it can be harmful to accept without question someone who is "out there," because I've known some out there Pagans who have turned out to have serious mental illnesses. I don't mean to say that every Pagan who says or does strange things is ill, obviously, but my point is that by blindly indulging every fantasy, we may indeed be enabling some people who seriously need help.

    1. Thank you for reading! Yes I do agree that it can be harmful in some cases.

  2. Hello!
    I enjoyed this posting and feel that tolerance is one of the most important virtues. There are a lot of people out there who do a lot of things for a lot of different reasons. Who are we to judge? It is not for us to harm even people who are harming others.
    It is sad though, that some people make a positive thing look foolish at first glance.
    The main reason I'm writing is way off the subject and I hope no one is offended. Tonight I was doing a ritual in the woods and found a glowing substance. I later found out that it is a fungi that aids in the decomposition of wood. The common names for it are Foxfire and/or Faerie Fire. Do you have it in your part of the world? I think it is so cool!
    My main question is this, do you know of any uses for such a substance (besides aiding in the decomposition of wood) for spell work or ritual?

    1. Thanks for reading!
      And awesome what you found in the woods! I don't think we have it here? I really wouldn't know what to do with it either, but so long as it isn't poisonous then be creative! :) x

  3. I agree with you. Sometimes there is a strange bunch out there who seem to think that fantasy is far more interesting than reality - now while I firmly believe people can believe what they want - there needs to be a balance with reality. I often say just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it's not real. All witches, to some degree, probably venture to other worlds/planes etc during crossing the hedge or meditation, yet to onlookers who are not grounded in the Craft we probably sound like we've lost our minds.

    However female wizard? Huh? Even in HP they called them witches. I think the problem is, even within Paganism and all it's different branches, people want to stand out and be the first to invent something new or different or whatever. But to call yourself a Fairy and wear plastic ears and insist it's all real? Yikes. Not to mention you don't want to risk peeving off the actual Fae. Unfortunately in every path, in every religion you get those who do the crazy and make it look bad for everyone else.

    1. "even within Paganism and all it's different branches, people want to stand out and be the first to invent something new or different"

      That's very true! x