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Why I Am An Anarchist Pagan

Updated on July 18, 2009

What is an anarchist pagan?

"Anarchist Pagan" is a term I coined to describe myself, since none of the other Pagan terms seemed to fit me.  "Eclectic" Pagan is acknowledging your weirdness, which I fully embrace, but there is more to me than just that. My basic tenet is that I do not follow anyone's rules about my religion or spirituality, so the obvious term that came to mind was "anarchist."  But what does it mean, exactly, in terms of Paganism?

After years of flirting with mainstream religion and continuing to find something missing, I discovered that in my heart I had always been a Pagan. My spirit had always strained against those who would limit my thinking, telling me I "had to" believe this or that, with no reasons given, and the admonition that I should not question anything. I had a lot of questions, a lot of doubts, a lot of troubling contradictions that I wanted answers for.  Finding my true calling in Paganism freed me, yet even here I found narrowmindedness, and people who practiced the do-what-I-say-because-I-say-it form of leadership.

Interacting with other Pagans is always a learning experience for me, and I am grateful to the ones who have inspired me and helped me on my path. However, I have never allowed anyone to tell me how or what to think. I digest all the information and decide for myself what is valid and what is not.  Such validity is only for myself, as I am the only one I have to answer to.  For me, such individuality is essential in being able to look myself in the mirror.

Why I Reject Rules

In my day-to-day life, I am an employed, law-abiding citizen. I understand that rules and laws are for the benefit of everyone, to keep society orderly and safe. When it comes to my mind, my thoughts, my relationship with deity . . . the rules go out the window. Why? Because rules are always someone else's idea of what is right or wrong. I am an adult. I know right from wrong, and I don't need a so-called "leader" or clergyperson to tell me how to interact with deity. Anytime I hear someone or read something that says you have to, for example, set up your altar a certain way, or perform a ritual a certain way ... that person is immediately noted in my mind as someone for whom I have no respect.

Paganism is uniquely individual. We can and should find commonalities among us, but the very thought that we all believe exactly the same way is anathema to me. I chafe at the idea of covens, or 'traditions' that stipulate which gods will be honored, when, where, and how. I have seen too many of these groups disintegrate and lead to bitterness due to the overblown sense of "I know best" by one or more members. As one elder Pagan I know says, organizing Pagans is like "herding cats." And that's how it should be.

I've been accused of being a "buffet Pagan," one who picks and chooses from many different pantheons and traditions to formulate my own personal path.  The accusation was said with derision, little knowing that I took it as a compliment. Those who do NOT pick the best from every available aspect of Paganism choose to be narrowminded and self-limiting, and to play follow the leader instead of discovering who they really are and what they can really be.  I find such people to be pedantic and a bit pathetic, looking for someone to tell them what to think and how to live.

Anarchist Pagan Practice

Since, as far as I know (and confirmed by Google), no one else is calling him/herself an anarchist Pagan, my way of honoring my gods and living my life is one-of-a-kind. Yet I cannot tell you what I do every day, how I ritual, how I honor my gods. It is different every time, based on what feels right, what I need, where I am. The flexibility to embrace my spirituality any and everywhere is a hallmark of my path.

I seek balance, which is why I honor the god equally with the goddess, and why I refuse to adhere to the Wiccan rede ( or the threefold law (, both of which are tools to control and manipulate people, and to keep them from fully embracing the fullness of raising and directing energy, self-protection, and fulfillment. They both instill fear -- the rede, implied fear, the threefold law, spelled-out fear. I refuse to buy into fearmongering. Those who wish to live their lives pretending that they can go through life not "harming" anyone or anything are foolish and naive. Those who will let their lives be controlled by an admonition that whatever they do will come back to them three times are unable to grasp the concept of situational circumstances. I do what I have to do when I am up against a wall. If it means hurting someone to protect myself, I have no compunction about it.

I do not turn the other cheek, and I am a Pagan gun owner. Bunny rabbits, flowers, and white light have no place in anarchist Paganism. The light and the dark are equal partners in my life and on my path. It is a continually evolving path, as I seek out challenges to my beliefs and embrace new ideas if they are proven to be valid. I will never be complete as an anarchist Pagan. It is a maze of discovery and wonder, in which I am free to take any path I wish, without restriction or rules.


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