Saturday, July 09, 2005

Secrecy

Secrecy seems to be a big issue in the Pagan religion, but it is one that bothers me on some level. On one hand, I can understand that people are worried about losing their jobs, getting harassed, and in the case of the parents in Indiana, losing the right to raise their children the way that they want. On the other hand, it’s hard to bring forth a societal understanding when few people have a serious, mature public presence in the name of secrecy.

It’s a Catch 22 of sorts, where those of Pagan beliefs strive to gain validity within the general public, but the general public still has many misconceptions of what the Pagan community consists of because of secrecy. And it’s difficult to know what the Pagan community consists of when most Pagans widely vary on minor points of their dogma.* While it’s hardly an example I would usually use, look to what the Texan Dictator**, aka Dubya, has to say about the Pagan religion (and religion in general). Here is an excerpt of the quote I am refering to: “Religious freedom and tolerance is a protected right. I am committed to the First Amendment principles of religious freedom, tolerance, and diversity…….. I do not think witchcraft is a religion, and I do not think it is in any way appropriate for the U.S. military to promote it.” I believe his statement is from a lifetime of learning about what his religion has said about Pagans instead of learning about it on his own. It is unfortunate, as he does have power of the media, and many people hear what he has to say on issues such as this, even if they have a feeling that most things that come out of his mouth are lies.

Not only is secrecy in regards to personal beliefs, but it also has to do with the rites and rituals of one’s group. Gardnerian Wicca is the most famous of secrecy bunch with most of their former coven members, such as Raymond Buckland, keeping their oaths of silence. But, how “truly” silent are these former coven members, as many rituals that are published today say they are “like” Gardnerian rituals? Many books lay out rituals and information for public consumption, but then tell you to keep quite about “the Craft.” Sometimes, this half-way insistence on privacy makes the author look silly, in my opinion. It also implies that there is something wrong or unusual about the religion.

After thinking about the issue of secrecy, an idea that I saw within some of my recent research of magic, had to do with secrecy and silence helping to keep a ritual more “powerful.” If you don’t tell someone what you are doing (i.e. – within a magical ritual) it will have more potency. I think that this involves the psychological value placed on the act by the doer more than anything else. If you think something (i.e. – a ritual) has the power to change something (i.e. – you’re chances at love/career/etc), then it will. And then you have to decide for yourself whether it would have an effect (and what kind) if you told someone about it.

Secrecy seems to be touted as “the way” of paganism, with many pagan authors devoting whole sections of their books to the subject. Margot Alder’s Drawing Down the Moon quotes many, many people with saying their views on secrecy. I personally think that most authors go farther into the discussion of promoting secrecy than they should.

The most vocal of the Pagan community, judging by web presence, seem to be teenagers. They are the ones who seem to have the most blogs, websites and are in the forums often. While the fact that they are teenagers shouldn’t make a difference, it does seem to have a somewhat negative impact on what the world views paganism as the web is filled with sites referencing fairies, dragons, and such. These sites and blogs are not taken seriously and are used as cannon fodder in the attempt to bring the Pagan community to its knees in the social and legal arenas. But this kind of site is not only limited to teenagers, unfortunately. And I think that this hurts the community even more.

Those that chose to come out into the public light and talk about their beliefs in a mature way has increased in recent years. I am glad to see the advent of many pagan blogs and websites recently. I am especially grateful to those of you who have serious blogs and websites, either with information about paganism or about your personal lives to show that Pagans are normal people. It is a positive influence within the pagan community and within the general public.

In recent news, there are two families that I think will do much good with the advancement of how those of Pagan beliefs are perceived, as they are handling their cases with maturity. The first, of course, is the family in Indiana. The other is the Druid couple from South Carolina who were harassed by mailings from a police officer after being pulled over.

Although I think that to “gain” our rights to religion freedom we need to stand up for what we believe in, I understand why many people keep their beliefs to themselves. What made me bring up this topic? This article from Up & Coming Magazine.

Please leave comments or email me with your views on secrecy within Paganism. I am curious to know what others think on this issue.




*Yes, dogma. Pagans widely hold the view of Paganism having a religious base without dogma, but I disagree. I believe that there is Pagan dogma, for example, the widely held belief of “an it harm none, do what ye will” and the Three Fold Law. For a review of what the word “dogma” means, click this link to a dictionary definition.

** I take the “dictator” part of his title from a quote straight out of the horse’s mouth. (If you are so inclined to see the clip of him saying that being a dictator would make things easier on him, check out the Michael More film Fahrenheit 9/11.)

2 comments:

pandoraz_boxx said...

I wonder too, how much of the secrecy is imposed by others; I have a friend who is open at work about being a witch. She wears a small pentacle, and will answer any questions co-workers ask. But she was called to the office one day, and told by her boss that she did not need to discuss her "personal business, such as religion" at work. So now she is more "secretive" about it.

PS- hey thanks for adding me to your blog roll! I think you're the first! much appreciated.

Sojourner said...

No problem. I like your site!