Much like the terms ‘privilege’, ‘U.P.G; unverified personal gnosis’ and ‘eikaiwa’, I don’t much care for the term ‘Big Name Pagan’; it always sounds too much like they are being equated to a brand or political party. There also always seems to be this faint undertone of ‘oh, you’re also a sellout’. This is not to say that I think we shouldn’t use them at all, just that I think there are a number of unfortunate implications they have come to carry. In light of this it may seem slightly hypocritical to then go and use one of those terms in a non-ironic way. It must be really shit to be a ‘Big Name Pagan’ sometimes, given how arbitrary some of the flak that gets fired their way is. I say this because of the semi-regular shakedowns that they seem to receive and give with disturbing ease. Someone punches me, if the situation calls for it I’ll punch them back but in neither case is just waltzing up to somebody and giving them a shot to the chops going to end up in the ‘good’ pile. Apart from being more mature than a six year old, I’ve got more respect than that. Yet, somehow, it’s become an accepted thing to do and experience – seriously, when did 6 become the new mature? Well, there are usually U.S Americans involved… My own slight racism towards North Americans aside, the fact that it has become an acceptable practice to sling mud and stones at each other is puerile and part of the problem. Although, yes, there are a number of societal issues that have been identified as causes for this (the Internet for example), there is no denying the fact that as a community it seems like we have lost our sense of respect – for others and ourselves. What is the bigger issue at hand however is that by behaving in such a manner, we are showing that as a community we are no better than the Christian Faith was during the Dark Ages and since. Bickering and pouring bile on one another all in the name of our faith/s, decrying that someone is wrong based solely on how they approach their deity or deities – without even going into how asinine it is to question someone’s approach to divinity given the multiplicity of approaches – is boorish at best when it comes from someone in the same group as you sans an invitation and vulgar at all other times. I want to be clear here, I am distinguishing greatly between two very, very different things. More than two when you really get down to it. There are the things that a person believes in, the things deep within their heart and soul, otherwise called Faith. There is the way or method with which they pursue their Faith, best called Religion. Next you have the logic, the functional processes behind their Religion and the outlook of the person with regards to life, the universe et al via or within that religious context; a person’s Spirituality. Often these three are conflated to mean the one thing, which is accurate to a certain point given that there are shared elements, intertwining of aspects etc. After those three there is a person’s Philosophy and Behavior. Between, across and through these five (and likely many more) areas, it’s possible to see or experience what a person believes and why they believe that. Each space has different aspects of the person contained within, personal spaces you might say, and like the proverbial personal space there are limits. Those limits depend on which space you are in, who you are and your relationship to the person, what the person is comfortable with and so on. Despite things like this topic being much more complicated and involved than can be easily expressed, people being mostly grown adults who should know better and the cry of ‘it’s all just common sense… Yet, here we are. Behavior: This is the most visible expression of a person, literally the Action of ‘actions speak louder than words’. They aren’t the be all and end all of a person, but they are the condensation of a great long process constantly underway within a person. There are already a lot of guidelines for how to interact (including criticism) with a person’s behavior. We call it Society. Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good. Philosophy: As a highly communicative species, humans tend to spend a lot of time expressing their thoughts. Consequently this is the space that we tend to have the most interaction with. It lacks the pure distillation that Behavior represents, but is also not the intense rawness of the Faith from which it originates. Because of the way most contemporary societies work and civilization as a whole over the course of human history, this layer of a person is the most acceptable to have critical interactions with, constructive or otherwise. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and all that. Spirituality: From here on out we enter into the territory of limits. Behavior and Philosophy are fairly well governed on their own and by the overall context that we find ourselves in on a daily basis. As such, Spirituality is similar to Philosophy in that it can come up in daily discourse but different in that out and out direct confrontation is rarely received well. Questioning it is fine, asking for explanation is fine, but being considerate or polite in some fashion is typically the accepted approach. Rhyd Wildermuth is a good example of someone who can be coarse or brusque – and here’s the important part – yet remain respectful. Respect is one of those notions that almost everyone has some kind of intrinsic understanding of and that must be relied upon here. Respect is extremely important from here on out; but here most of all it must be an active respect rather than passive or neutral. Religion: Here we enter an area that is tricky both as people, and as Pagans and Heathens. We don’t tend to like the word religion and what could qualify as religion for Pagans and Heathens is wrapped up fairly complexly with Spirituality and no small part of Philosophy. Never the less, every Pagan and Heathen has a way of understanding how the Universe functions, the logos of everything – regardless of whether it abides by the modern conventions of logic or not. This can include pure science with a spiritual lens, a mixture of science and mysticism, total mysticism and many more combinations. Their practices also abide by a logos that is classifiable as religion – some people practice as witches, with certain rules they follow for how their activities work, others practice as priests/esses, druids, sorcerer, warlock, combinations and so on. Apropos Spirituality, if a similar approach is followed its usually ‘ok’ to ask questions about this but well advised social convention calls for some kind of invitation to do so. Spirituality and Religion is… complicated for Pagans and Heathens. Open criticism sans any kind of reason or rationale is rude for a very good reason when it comes to this. Understandably, confusion is most probable here because of how difficult it is to see where spirituality ends and religion begins for Pagans and Heathens. Consequently it is here and the liminal space between spirituality and religion that most people make their faux pas. Faith: Don’t do it. Just don’t. Even with an invitation, don’t go there. The Line. This is thought police territory. Obviously you can disagree with someone, that’s to be expected but just like you are entitled to think and believe what you want, so is everyone else. The pinnacle of private this. It should go without saying that the issue is much more complicated than this, especially when it comes to Pagans and Heathens, for all out love of foibles they don’t make it any easier for us to be the part of the world we want to be. That said, these are not exactly great revelations handed to us from on high, side to side or down below. These are things that we are too quick to forget when reaching through the quasi-Everything Proof Fence that is the Internet. A lot of what I have described is fairly basic tenets of human interaction, differing only in terms of the cultural lens these aspects are seen through. Yet. Here. We. Are. Against all the odds, as a group we somehow still need notifications like the Coru Cathubodua presented: Source: Strixian Woods We shouldn’t need something like this. We really shouldn’t; that we do is not Coru Cathubodua’s fault and its to their credit that they took the time to create it. We shouldn’t need it. As a community, as individuals, as people, something like this should not be necessary. That is has become necessary speaks volumes both of the obscene degree to which the idea of ‘political correctness’ has been taken and how immature we really are. We shouldn’t need a poster to tell us how to behave as though we are schoolchildren in the playground.