\Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
Recently, Sam Webster caused a stir by asserting that one cannot worship Jesus Christ and still be Pagan. He followed this up with an article on exactly why he feels this is the case. The argument actually has many angles, but the operational one is pretty basic: Christ is the central deity in a religion that claims exclusive truth, has actively oppressed women for centuries, hindered scientific progress, and generally behaved like a bully throughout its 2000 year history. The act of worship strengthens a God, and by proxy the egregore of the religion it belongs to. By worshiping Christ, a Pagan is strengthening a power that sees Paganism as anathema.
To me, this is kind of basic, but then I, like Sam, actually think there’s something real behind all this magick business. I think that when you invoke a Deity, you’re contacting an entity that exists on its plane of manifestation in the same way you do on yours. This entity exemplifies what the majority of its worshipers take as the nature of their religion. Because worship feeds it, and you are what you eat.
Since Sam has already gotten flack for being “filled with hate” on account of what seems to me to be a rather moderate stance, based on the assumption that religion is something more than an elaborate form of mental masturbation, I might as well just take the gloves off. “You may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb,” as they say.
Many of the negative comments to Sam’s post revolve around the desire to be “inclusive.” I think this is a well intentioned but fundamentally wrong-headed goal. Or rather, it veers so heavily toward the side of Mercy that it constitutes a weakness. It’s overall effect is to dilute Paganism to the point where it literally loses its meaning. There is a point where you can include so much that you lose any boundaries, and simply enter the stream of generic New Age mush.
Further, the “no one tells me what to do” response to the assertion of boundaries is an adolescent one. It points to a whole complex of truly desultory trends within the Pagan community. It is consumeristic, treating religion as a giant shopping mall in which one gathers disparate items from various stores in preparation for a runway competition where the most garish and inchoate outfits win top prize.
Is this really what the general Pagan community wants? It is certainly not how a new religion, or any minority, gains the respect of other, more established institutions. People do not respect those who kiss their ass. They respect those who stand their ground and don’t try to make friends with people who would undermine what they see as their core values.
That is assuming that having core values doesn’t reek of “fundamentalism” to many. I suspect it does, as it implies a standard and a set of things one will not compromise. Too much like those nasty people who keep winning. Hmm…
Seriously, does Paganism have something to offer the world other than warm fuzzies and the promise of a home for every stray cat? If it does, we are going to have to learn to say, “we are this, not that” and be sure to include in “not that” forces which undermine our “this.”
Some call it “hate.” Others might call it “coherence.” In the end, it’s not about denigrating anyone else’s beliefs, but recognizing where your Path begins and the other one ends. About strengthening Paganism, rather than battling Christianity. By way of explanation, I will make a disclosure. I have not identified primarily as “Pagan” for some time. I am a Thelemite. In Thelemic cosmology there is the concept of the interplay between Nuit as the Infinite and Hadit as the single point within it. Nuit is expansive, all embracing. Hadit is infinitely contracted. Any discrete entity can be considered as an individual Hadit.
There is a time to be expansive and dissolve the identity into Nuit. And there is a time to reintegrate as Hadit. Hadit must do His Will. Nuit encompasses all Wills. If one wishes to break down their identity in order to reformulate the expression of their Will, or simply to experience the ecstasy of dissolution, it is appropriate to break down boundaries. If one wants to create something distinct, however, it is critical that they eschew every element contrary to what they wish to create.
The problem with the Pagan community is that it staunchly refuses to do the Hadit work. It lacks the essential drive to set the parameters of the magical operation of “creating Paganism.” Instead, it wants to be all things to all people, excluding no one and nothing.
If it continues along these lines, it will not become a “Star” lighting its corner of Heaven with the brightness of its Will. It will become a mass of space debris, interesting to look at but shedding light on no one.
Love is the law, love under Will