About two years ago, I participated in a discussion group that included a number of relatively famous pagan “elders”. There was some scuffle regarding some relatively unsavory behavior on the part of one of the members, a leader of a pagan group and the erstwhile protege of one of these “elders”. This elder posted (anonymously, of course) a message that encouraged people to close ranks, to support this unscrupulous character because as Pagans, we owed it to ourselves to present a unified front against our “enemies”, to recognize and respect our “brothers” and give them more leeway, so to speak, than we would another non-relative. A recent item over at Letters from Hardscrabble Creek on whether or not “pagan community” was a meaningful construct gave me incentive to look up my response to that issue, which touches on the concept of “pagan community”:
As far as “Pagan community” is concerned, I am often troubled that some people who claim the name of “Pagan” seem to think that there should be some artificial construct (of course, it does not seem artificial to them) that connects us all at the level of our common beliefs, that there is some kind of “brotherhood” which all pagans should acknowledge and respect.
I have a fundamental question regarding this “brotherhood”, however … is this a “brotherhood” of those who CLAIM to be at one with each other, or of those whose deeds prove it to be the case?
As was said once earlier in the last century (if may have been FDR who said it), if you are a “Harvard Man”, you don’t need a class ring to prove it – your actions will make it obvious to all that you are of that caliber.
For myself, I know my brethren (that are not tied by blood) by their deeds, and not their words. And if a brother (or sister, for in fact ‘brotherhood’ implies something that smacks of patriarchy and hierarchy, of closed rooms and inequality) makes what I feel to be an error, it is my obligation to discuss it with them privately, “on the way to the church” so to speak, rather than standing up and impugning them before the entire congregation. For if we are in fact ALL siblings, then any action that affects the well-being of one affects the well-being of all. All of which goes to show that one cannot choose one’s “brothers” lightly. Yes, we are all related, we all share this plane in which to find our paths, we are all different shafts of the same light. But our “unity” is quite a different matter. The fact is that we are NOT a pagan community because we call ourselves Pagan, but are only a community if we act as a community