I get the feeling that this blog may be a bit controversial
Accepting people with in the community (whatever that is to you) has become part and parcel of being a pagan. For the most part, it’s a very good thing. I feel that (see Shauna I remember our I am referencing class) being accepting of differences (within reason, and we shall get to this) is a good thing. But, as always, I put a qualifier in there.
I say “within reason” because there is a boundary that should not be crossed. IF someone’s differences are such, that they put you and others at risk its time, to say “gooday” to that person.
This might seem to be either (a) good sense or (b) not very understanding, and that will depend on your own boundaries. However, my boundary is that if someone is going to do something, that influences my, or my friends and family’s safety, and wellbeing. I am not an ally now. I’m most certainly a foe.
On to some examples.
In my Milwaukee days, there was an individual, we will call L. L had some serious mental health issues. As such the understanding thing to do, was to give him the space he needed to be safe. However, the issues included schizophrenia. On top of this, he came off of his meds (“I feel better”) and drank heavily (to the point of passing out under a table at my ADF protogroves Saturnalia ritual (another story will be from this event)). L also had a taste for under the age of consent girls to date. It was explained as “oh its only a few years under” by many. That disgusted me, as at the time, I was informally fostering a 15 year old in the community, as well as a 17 year old (who I’ve mentioned as a member of ADF in recent posts). L, also when off of his meds, decided he was really a canine of a certain type, and quite literally greeted me by sniffing my rear. It took every ounce of control I had not to hit him with a rolled up newspaper (not joking, I’d been warned, and had one) . In the case of L, what he needed was ot be excluded from events, when he was clearly off meds and or Drunk. What happened? He got included and people new to the community never returned because of him
My next (of four examples is as I indicated also from Milwaukee. There was a leader (yep one of the “elders”) who was accused of stealing money from the community. He had been raising funds for a temple, what he did was pay his lifestyle, while refusing to work. We will call him W. W was a big guy. Six foot six, 300 plus pounds. He deliberately loomed over people to get his way. He also tried this with me. What he found was, yes, he was taller, but no, I did not back away from confrontation. It almost came to blows at the aforementioned Saturnalia event. When he and another person (the person in ADF mentioned in my last blog who has been a naughty druid claiming to be a Reverend, without clarifying not an ADF one), during my event (the inaugural ritual of the protogrove, with about 30 attendees) that we sucked, and their ‘study group’ was better. I challenged them, and well shit hit the fan. He tried to hit me, missed. Then I had the site manager trespass him. It had repercussions in ADF for me for many years, till people heard the full story. Long story short. This gentleman was a bully, and again, should not have been included after he stole (the police should have been called, but that is too much for Milwaukee pagans to stomach). W is now dead, he died a sad death due to cancer. I hope he finds a happier existence next trip around the wheel.
When I was a young Pagan (mid to late 20s is what I call young now). I helped form the Otago University Pagan Network. For about 5 years it was a really good really vibrant organization. We managed to do much good in Dunedin (where Otago University is, if you don’t know). The first group of people involved, included a guy, who was our only wiccan (we had me, identifying as a Druid, two or so Asaturar, an actual Finnish guy claiming to be a Shaman (no comment) and a bunch of “I don’t know what I am” folks). We will call this guy C. C then, was a funny, intelligent, easy going guy. While yes, I was still a grumpy, prickly individual for the most part. Anyway, C Left us after a year. On good terms. In time I got married to my love, and we moved to the USA. In 2010, I returned to New Zealand, thanks to the economic down turn having pretty much decimated the contract research industry for the next 5 years. When I returned, I came from active pagan communities, to a wasteland. Anyway, I discovered an online forum. Pagans of New Zealand (PANZ). It had typical problems of a forum but was good. However, it had two for want of a better term, antagonists. One (call him B) was a racist Heathen, who the admin fancied, and got to be a Racist Heathen (calls himself an Odinist, no comment). The other was C. He in the almost 10 years since we talked, had suffered a lot of things, including really bad mental health. He was (and is) angry at the world. I knew none of this. We chatted online, amicably. I was actually less prickly than I was when younger. I let slip into the chat, that I was a member of ADF, explained it was a pagan church. Suddenly my “friend” was angry at me. This is odd, because I was a member of ADF when we knew each other. It turns out, C had a chip on his shoulder with organized paganism. I don’t know the full story, but ever since, I have become to him a sell-out. He is an example of someone who actually has been excluded from events. His behaviour, and antagonism is enough, that he got asked to “not come back” to some events.