This post might piss some people off. That wasn’t an apology.
Newbies. The new Pagan or new witch. We all know them, and guess what? We all WERE new at one point in time. Holy smokes! We were all in the same place as some of these people! Whoda thunkit?
This post isn’t going to bash newbies (much), but it is going to discuss the attitudes a lot of people in the Pagan community have toward those who are just beginning on their paths.
Ecauldron.com has this tongue-in-cheek post about types of Pagans. The new ones are described as such:
You just read this cool book about a religion where there's a Goddess and a God, and they meet outside in nature, instead of some scary old building. They think sex is GOOD not evil, and you want to know where to sign up.
Mispronounces god/dess names, has to think a moment about which is deosil and which is widdershins. Has a shiny new athame (rhymes with "A-frame".)
Now, again, this is HUMOR, but unfortunately, a lot of people see the “bright-eyed novice” and either roll their eyes or bash them outright. “How dare you not know such and such? I’ve known that for years!” Well, guess what? You learned it from somewhere, didn’t you, oh wise one?
I’ve been a practicing (sorta practicing, anyway) Pagan for over 15 years now, and I honestly have to say I roll my eyes just as much at the more “experienced” members of the community because of their attitudes of superiority.
That brings me to a HUGE pet peeve I have: The term “fluffy bunny”. As I understand it, the term can be used to describe people who are new as well as people who *gasp* don’t acknowledge the dark sides of the path. Grow the fuck up, seriously. Did you get into Paganism because you felt bashed for your beliefs and thought it would be fun to bash other people for their beliefs instead? Does calling someone a fluffy bunny make you feel better about yourself? If so, you might need to do some self evaluation there, sparky.
My approach is to listen, answer questions, and help guide people. The path to the Divine is deeply personal, but sometimes people need help forging their own path. I’ll let you borrow my scythe for a minute so you can start cutting down some weeds and start walking your own way, y’all.
I try to guide people away from what I see as the misconception that Paganism and D&D are intertwined. *Whispers* They’re not. I’m not necessarily judging your path or your practice if you really, truly, honestly think you’re a dragon or a wolf or whatever, but I am seriously questioning your grasp on reality. If you want to play fantasy games, go right on, but por favor, don’t attach that shit to me.
Poor newbies get confused easily at times, and some of them might think that that’s the norm. Not so much.
They are exploring. They are finding what works for them. Some of them want to do only helpful things (aka “white magic”). Others might want to pretend to be super-ultra-mega powerful dark witches or whatever, but again, they just need some guidance. And possibly a boot to the head. This goes for EVERYBODY, though, not just the newbies.
Not everyone wants guidance, and some people cannot be reached, but I still want to try, if only to protect my reputation. Yeah, so I’m a bit selfish, but not entirely.
Some people never grow out of the attention-seeking phase. I’ve known plenty who have, however. This isn’t the fault of Paganism; rather that’s a combination of self-esteem issues and who knows what else. Again, though, this isn’t something that only new Pagans exhibit. I know way more experienced Pagans who are insufferable twits.
My point, after all of my ranting and raving, is this:
New does not mean bad, wrong, or stupid. It means new. It means inexperienced and possibly in need of some more education. Instead of being all high and mighty about your years of experience, why not try this:
· Recommend some books by reputable authors. Show them the basics and let them go from there.
· Use all of your knowledge and experience to offer advice based on interest – Greek mythology, the Celts, whatever. Factual, not fictional, please and thank you.
· Stop using that annoying fucking fluffy bunny term before I puke through my eyes.
· Foster a sense of community. Work on bringing people together rather than driving them apart.