Paradox is not a word that I’ve ever seen in relation to Pagans and Heathens before, but it is a word that with some thought would seem to be remarkably applicable. Our relationship with structure alone is worth examining in detail; our systems have varying levels of structure but individually or as a whole community we pride ourselves with being disorganised in our religion. However it doesn’t just stop at things like structures or rules or how organised we are or are not, the manner in which everything is ‘correct’ and nothing is ‘incorrect’ as far as individual praxes are concerned, the disparate ideas we have with regards to concepts of divinity and practices. As with any paradox there is an inevitable question of how our paradox manages to exist, or rather continue to exist which in some respects is in and of itself a kind of paradox – how does a paradox manage to stay a paradox?
Our paradox exists because we don’t see it as a paradox. Although there are technically other people who are affected by the paradox, we are the majority of those whom the paradox should affect but doesn’t. Through our non-perception of the paradox being a paradox, it is given existence without the side effects that should come from a paradox. Layered on top of this is the prevailing nature of Paganism and Heathenry, which is to say the inclusive nature of the community allows for the simultaneous existence of what are seemingly mutually exclusive ideas. For example, a Pagan or Heathen who believes every god and goddess is One and individual deities are just expression of that One can work alongside a Pagan or Heathen that is a hard polytheist who believes every god and goddess exists simultaneously and separately to all others. Another example is the sheer plurality of the methods by which Pagans and Heathens go about their magical workings; in some respects it’s easier to deal with the near infinite number of methodologies because there are so many possible combinations of things that can be done with regards to practicing magic, but never the less. Once again, this paradox doesn’t seem like a paradox because those that should be affected most by it simply don’t see it as a paradox.
What aids in this non-perception of our paradox is the unifying idea that we are all part of the same cluster. Which is a long way of saying that Pagans and Heathens work so well together because despite our individual disparities we consider each other to be part of the ‘other’ category that we occupy within the world. Some see that category as being a bad thing, others not so much. Others don’t see it as good or bad or anything other than what we are.