Thursday, August 4, 2011

On being a misfit Pagan

Misfits, by definition, don't fit in.  That's not an unusual thing in the pagan community, most of us are misfits in one form or another.  It's our acceptance of our differences that usually brings us together in harmony, each singing a different note in the song.

But in terms of religious background and worldview - I totally don't fit.  I know there are others like me, I just don't really know that many.

The biggest difference between me and a lot of pagans?  I was never Christian.  Or Jewish, or Catholic, or any other form of organized religion.  Wicca is my first and only religion.  So I didn't grow up praying, quoting the Bible, or saying grace at the dinner table.  The closest to "religious" my family got, was the annual tradition of the Family Christmas Eve, where we'd have a potluck and sing Christmas Carols with as many of us as could make it.  We had a great time, and everyone got along, no one fought or got drunk and obnoxious.  It was loving, and full of laughter, and you went home with your heart full of light.

So, unlike a lot of pagans - I don't hate organized religion.  I think probably it's because I didn't leave it, so I had no previous feelings about it perhaps?  But a lot of things about organized religion do confuse me because of my lack of personal experience with it.

When I was searching for a spiritual "home", I already knew I was gay.  I hadn't quite admitted it yet, but I knew.  And I already knew I had some innate psychic gifts and had been exploring them.  Every religious person I spoke to told me that I needed to be "saved" somehow, and that gays were children of the devil, and that anyone who had any vestige of psychic ability was cavorting with demons - Christian, Catholic, Mormon - they all sang the same song.  I stopped looking at churches after they told me that, and then discovered Wicca in 1984 when my family already knew I was gay and still loved me.

In Wicca, and the greater pagan community, what I found was laughter at life's little ironies, acceptance of a wide variety of people, and lots of hugs.  People who were viewed as spiritual leaders in the community were warm and friendly, and not at all impressed with themselves - making sure to remind people that they were human with flaws just like anyone else.  And at last, I met someone who told me that my gifts were perfectly normal, and taught me how to focus and keep from dropping into someone's head unexpectedly, and to defend myself from the intensity of feeling someone else's emotions.

Of course, we have our share of colorful characters in the pagan community.  I think that's just a normal part of the human experience.  Some churches have folks who are over-zealous and wildly passionate about their faith, and we have pagans who clank with jewelry when they walk around in their tie-dyed caftans.  Different expressions of the same traits, I think.  In the gay community we have drag queens and leather daddies, it's all just different forms of self-expression through costuming, no matter what the environment.

Personally, I have tattoos and longish hair.  I don't wear jewelry anymore, and I don't anoint myself with patchouli oil.  I'm a "blender" - I can pass in public for "average" and not really stand out in a crowd, and that's comfortable for me.  So I guess I fit in with all the other misfits of the world, just quietly going along and living my life.

In the long run, none of it really matters as long as we're happy, healthy, and laughing - right?


  1. "So I guess I fit in with all the other misfits of the world, just quietly going along and living my life."

    I realized not so long ago that I've spent most of my life pretending to be "normal", and that led to a whole paradigm shifting rabbit-hole of exploration about my subconscious view of myself. Accepting the fact that I'm a "misfit" simply means acknowledging that I'm someone who doesn't fit in to some cultural stereotype, rather than I must be defective in some way because I don't. Definitely happier, healthier and laughing more now! :-)

  2. I feel like a misfit in virtually any circle of people. Probably why we get along. I would say "Misfits of the World Unite"... but if we were good at uniting we wouldn't be misfis, now would we?

  3. I said in a post the other day that working for a particular bookstore was like being on the Island of Misfit Toys. We all got along because everyone found their niche. I think that's the secret to being happy, no matter who you are-finding your own niche.Doing what's satisfying and fulfilling. I don't need to 'pass' to blend in with the crowd, I am a part of the crowd and the Pagan community, and any other group I frequent. It helps me to be balanced and not going too far in any one particular direction (Except once in awhile. It's good to push the envelope sometimes. I always find my way back, however, because I like where I am most of the time.

    I was raised a Catholic,I went to parochial school, but the family never 'practiced'. I liked the morbid mystery of it; later, after I was already a Pagan but unsure what to call my personal spiritual path, I became an Episcopalian and was ordained in the Church. I loved the ritual and music; I hated the elitism of women having to have 'permission' to be ministers and gays being encouraged to become full members as long as they pretended to be straight. I don't know how I would felt about it if I'd stayed, but I know that being fully Wiccan has never made me happier. I don't hate Christian or any other denomination, although I'll admit there are a few I don't quite understand. Many of my friends are Christians and just as many are Pagans, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims. We all have the common ground of the spiritual journey and the belief that there is more than one path to enlightenment. No one owns God/dess.

  4. Thanks for posting this! I can relate completely, because I grew up with Paganism (my father encouraged me) since the early 80's, and I had absolutely zero experiences with Christianity, or any other religion, until 1993. So I learned about other religions in a from-the-outside-looking-in sort of way, since Paganism was my path from the start.

    Sure, I look at the way fundamentalists behave and shake my head (but there are fundies in all religions). And the Christian denial that their mythology is simply a monotheistic version of Paganism makes me roll my eyes. But since I never "escaped" from Christianity, or any other Abrahamic belief system, I don't have any sort of chip on my shoulder about them. Guess that makes me a misfit too. ^.^

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