Essay: On Feeling Uncomfortable in Pagan Spaces

This is the fourth essay here on DD.

Disclaimer: This post is about my feelings towards New Age beliefs not to individual pagans. I fully respect another person’s belief system. To each of their own.

On Discord Server, we talked about feeling uncomfortable in Christian spaces, but I think, for me, I feel more uncomfortable in Pagan spaces.

Let me explain.

I don’t align with of the modern pagan beliefs on the Gods

The pervasive idea that the Gods are archetypes does not jive with me. Modern paganism is heavily influenced by Wicca, which is heavily influenced by New Age thinking. The New Age movement is something I am not completely familiar with academically, so this post is more about my opinion on New Age beliefs than any research. Just so you know.

In the classic book, Wiccan Mysteries by Raven Grimassi, he wrote about how the Gods are archetypes citing Jung’s archetypes. We see this similar belief in well-known Christopher Penzcak’s books on modern witchcraft. In his book, Outer Temple of Witchcraft, he wrote about his ideas behind worship and that he preferred to, “partner with them” and that these “archetypal beings exist now.”

I could never get behind the archetype thing in Wicca. Archetypes to me are things and icons created by humans and the Gods are beyond that. According to the, archetype is “(in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.” To reduce the Gods to archetypes is an insult to the Gods. Plain and simple.

I don’t understand some of the words used

This is my opinion on the words used to describe the Gods in the New Age belief system. I tend to define words by the standard definition.

This leads me to the word “pagan.”

I tend to define words by the standard dictionary definition.

The word “pagan”, to me, means peasant. It also means “infidel, irreligious, and idolatrous.”

I am not any of those things. Since I was twelve, I’ve studied religions and participated in a religion. To me, calling myself a pagan is a contradiction.

The definitions of witchcraft within modern paganism and the New Age belief system also give me great discomfort.

I see the word “witch” and “witchcraft.” I also define this word as a derogatory term. To me, this word is not sexy. It is not woman empowerment.

Another word choice in modern paganism I don’t use is the words “positive” and “negative.” In the New Age belief system, somehow positive is better than negative.

These words are mathematical terms and I cringe every time someone uses them in a spiritual context. Positive means an increase in numbers and negative means a decrease in numbers. Negative isn’t bad or evil. Positive isn’t good or beneficial.

“Left-brain” and “right-brain” are also difficult words for me to accept. Thinking “left-brained” or “right-brain” is not possible. You need both sides of your brain to think. Not to mention words such as karma and reincarnation that are Hindu in origin and that Wiccan books give the false definitions of these beliefs.

The pervasive misinformation

This also brings me into the misinformation in a lot of Wicca/modern witchcraft books. Most of this information bleeds into communities. Every time I encounter the Wiccan community, I come across these “facts” such as the Burning Times, which, as far as I know, never happened. Christians were persecuting other Christians not pagans.

Indeed, to me, calling Wicca the Old Religion is laughable. Wicca was born out of romanticism of what the ancients believed and practiced and/or what we thought they did. Gerald Gardner created it in the 1940s based on orders such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Centered on personal growth, not on the Gods

I also feel that in modern paganism today there is emphasis on personal growth not emphasis on the Gods. Wicca focuses on the practitioner’s growth, which is nice, but once I began worshiping the Gods and feeling grateful for what I have, I felt that growth came easier and naturally. To each to their own I suppose.

I have different views from pagans

I think differently from many pagans. I am a bit skeptical because I come from a scientific background. I studied biology in college.

Additionally, I’ve read about modern paganism when I was very young with my older sister. As I grew up, I began to question some of the beliefs in modern paganism. I’ve studied paganism since I was twelve. I’m thirty years old now.

I’ve participated in some pagan group rituals. Oftentimes when I questioned someone’s New Age beliefs in these gatherings, they dubbed me as a “downer” or ignored me.

I understand that someone may not want to talk about their beliefs. They are just trying to figure themselves out, but I am a pagan too. I’m not there to make someone change their mind or proselytize. Mostly, I’m trying to understand their way of thinking while giving out my viewpoints.