Stasa just recently blogged about how much it hurts to have quakers (and others?) assume that all pagans do ritual. And I have to say I'm a little surprised. I suppose I was one of those guilty parties. My natural reactions so far have been all along the lines of "but don't they?"
Which I guess I just have to leave out there until some pagans stumble across this and have something to say. I suppose I could also go poke my nose around, but I feel like I have. The thing about looking things up online is that stuff that's posted about pagan rituals is mostly going to be rituals that happen. you're not going to find an instance on the web of a pagan going for a walk in the woods and communing with nature (well, you might, you might even find it here, but it's not gonna turn up on a calendar of what's happening at your local community center, where a ritual just might)
I've actually been wanting to just whine about pagans, really, for a coupla days. It's silly, but I feel like when I encounter organized pagans in real life they're like afraid of nature. This really boils down to two experiences. Once a year or two ago when we were having a meeting of some sort at the meetinghouse on or around June 21st and there was a scheduling conflict because the pagan group that uses our meetinghouse had booked it for summer solstice, and I just though, my god, don't they want to be outside on summer solstice? is that more prejudice? is it silly to assume pagans want to worship outside? I want to worship outside! especially at midsummer. Then again, I don't think I'm pagan.
The second instance was just a week or two ago at our local May Day celebration. Some pagan group (except maybe they didn't even say they were pagan, they were "earth" something, oh well) was trying to recruit members and their big upcoming thing was a camping trip they take for a week every summer, and like three different people told me enthusiastically that it's at a professional campground and you can take hot showers every day and there's electricity at every site. I personally like camping without electricity, and can do without a shower for a few days (though I'd probably want one if I was gone a week)
I can't quite explain how it makes me want to cry that people who identify around, and, well, worship, the earth can seem so disinclined to like BE on the EARTH.
And no, this is not meant to be a pagan bashing rant. Like I said, I don't even know if the people I'm talking about are pagans, or if other pagans would think they were pagans or what. Plus, I'm not very good at organizing my thoughts before broadcasting them. I learned the word "tact" as a child from people telling me that I don't have it. Sorry (really, I'm sorry)
Which actually maybe brings me to my point (really? can that happen?) which is more about how pagans seem even harder to pin down than quakers. Who are they? what do they believe? Do they marry same sex couples? do they have female clergy? do they have a book? What do they DO? (which,I have to say, I've been asked more as a lesbian than as a quaker, but it might be close) This is something I should be able to look up somewhere, right?
Is there a membership process for being a pagan, what would you become a member of? I get the impression there are pagan clergy (like, who can marry a couple legally and stuff) so then, who ordains them? what sort of things do they have to know first? What IS a pagan? is there any agreed upon definition? Can you be an outcast from Paganism? I suppose I had thought not, but I don't know.
one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
an irreligious or hedonistic person.
So I don't think that's all that helpful.
Actually, writing this, I am finding I have a lot of similar questions about christianity, possibly another post to come soon.....
I think for me, the thing is, that why I'm a QUAKER has a lot to do with basically the spiritual power I feel in the world. As a christian-by-default child, I felt what they were talking about sometimes - love for my fellow human beings, a strong sense of justice, I just didn't think that stories about fishermen and churches with stained glass windows, men in robes, incense and candles, had to do with any of it. I found that they detracted from something that needed no embellishment, so leave it alone.
As I've grown I've been somewhat inclined to call myself a pagan quaker, because that power that I feel is most present in nature and "natural" things (trees yes, cars no) - for me this is roughly parallel to being a christian quaker - yes to Jesus, but no to most of that other stuff we (possibly) grew up with as non-quaker christian children. But most pagan quakers I know seem to be more organizedly pagan than that, maybe because they didn't have it growing up and still feel the need for it? I'm not sure. I personally don't have a strongly anti-ritual view of quakerism. it doesnt' work for me, and I don't want it to become, even a little bit, how my community "does" quakerism, I think that would be a problem, but I don't think that people who do ritual (be it catholic or pagan, or something else) outside of meeting need to be excluded or shunned or anything. I guess I'm also wondering if that's a concern among people for whom ritual in other contexts is important?