Week 36 (R): on ritual, and why I’m a lazy witch
I don’t “do” ritual. This simplistic statement sets me apart from quite a few of the other Pagans I’ve met. To them, it’s important to have a separate space whenever possible dedicated to Magick. That space is filled with esoteric gestures made only in circle, a “solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order” (thanks for that perfect definition Google!). This conception of ritual bores me to tears.
This is not my kind of witchcraft. There’s little space for solemnity, and the idea of having a set routine makes my lip curl. That sounds deathly boring. I just couldn’t do it. Routine is comforting in other aspects of my life, but in witchy things I want variety. I want flexibility and change and discovery in my faith.
Practice is a word that better suits me; practice is application of belief. My rituals are typically spontaneous, and the best ones have often been crafted in the space of a few minutes, when I’m out in the woods for a walk on a beautiful day. Then I bring only a stick of incense, perhaps a candle, and myself to ritual. There’s beauty in simplicity.
Week 25 (M): on mindfulness, or how to chop wood and carry water
How do you go about your work? While reading this, I started thinking about how mindfulness and work go hand in hand. One of my favorite quotes (and perhaps you’re familiar with it) is this:
I don’t remember where I first found it, but I do remember reading it and having something click in my brain. I understand this as an entreaty to always pay attention to the task at hand (regardless of how “enlightened” you are). It stresses the importance of being mindful, how you ought to focus only on your current actions. Be present, which sounds like excellent advice.
When I’m dancing, I lose track of what’s happening around me, and sink into the feeling of being wholly in my body. When I’m knitting, the looping of the yarn and the swooping of my hands make for a meditative rhythm that keeps my focus on the task at hand. When I bake, the recipe becomes all that matters: the perfect leveled scoop of sugar, the milk poured so the meniscus is perfectly on the line.
All of these things are things I try to do with my whole being. This sort of presence and awareness is something I strive for, in everyday life as well as in magical practice.
Week 12 (F): fluffy bunnies
Silence, fluffbunny! But wait…what does that mean?
When I call someone a fluffy bunny, I mean that they have a storybook understanding of what it means to be pagan, and that I really can’t stand to be around them for more than five minutes. This is a term that’s considered offensive, but I think it has its practical uses. Here’s what the term “fluffy bunny” means to me:
- Someone who is nothing but “love and light”. Optimism is one thing, but to deny all negativity or scariness or intensity is totally unrealistic. That’s just not the way the world works.
- Someone who insists on calling themselves a Wiccan, but does not belong to a coven-based hierarchical initiatory tradition. (There’s no shame in being a neo-Wiccan. Really.)
- A teenager who claims to be a High Priestess or High Priest. Covens are a major undertaking, and to found one is a huge responsibility that I really don’t think is appropriate for a teenager (or for anyone who’s had less than 10-20 years of working with covens).*
- You’ve only read one book. Seriously. Libraries. The internet. No excuse. Even read stuff you don’t agree with: it’s best to critique something when you’ve actually read it, so you don’t come off as an ignorant ass.
- Someone who’s in it for the drama. If the only reason you call yourself a witch is to scare people, gtfo. This is a faith, not a fad.
Sometimes this term is slung around as purely derogatory, with no meaning behind it. That’s the point at which the term becomes useless. What a fluffy bunny is not:
- A n00b. We were all new once. We were/are all students. It’s the people who refuse to learn that are fluffy bunnies. Someone who is willing to listen and incorporate new information, but may not know very much yet, is not a fluffbunny.
- Someone who follows a different path than you. There is no One True Way, no one size fits all; I think that’s one of the main appeals of paganism. Be tolerant.
- Someone who admits to not understanding something. None of us know everything. By admitting you don’t understand something, you’re being realistic. The first step to learning is admitting that you don’t understand something. I often tell my students that I’m more interested in seeing the mistakes they make along the way, because it shows they’re learning.
- Someone who has experienced persecution and refuses to be quiet about it. Religious persecution is a reality for many of us, and bigotry still exists. People who think persecution of pagans doesn’t exist probably also think we live in a post-racial post-feminist society. *insert gigantic eye roll here*
I was new once, and even then I thought the term “fluffy bunny” was apt for some people. Unpopular opinion: I think it’s useful to have a term to differentiate yourself from others who claim the same label that you may not necessarily respect. I don’t want to be lumped with people I can’t respect just because we claim the same label. I believe in solidarity, but maybe not unconditional solidarity.
And yet. And yet. I’m still conflicted about using term, because I don’t like rigid labels. I believe in the importance of choice, of people being able to claim their own labels. But…maybe labels shouldn’t be claimed uncritically or without thought. This is another one of those posts without a tidy ending and is a subject I’ll probably muse about a bit later.
Tl;dr version: while I absolutely do not believe there is One True Way of being pagan, I do think that some people don’t quite make the cut for people I would be proud to call my fellow pagans. But many do, and those are the ones I want to make connections with, hopefully through the Pagan Blog Project.
* Says the solitary
Fluffy Bunnies: A Critique of the Term (most of the links on this one are dead, but I think the author makes some valid points, particularly about darkness being a problematic term)