Full Kermit Flail – Fear in Paganism

So, after reading a post by a friend of mine for the Pagan Blog Project (specifically, one from Mystical Bewilderment on the Spiritual Turnpike) I got to thinking about the things we pagans are reluctant to discuss.

As a rule, I don’t think most of us are unwilling to speak with one another.  Unless our traditions are oathbound, we’re willing to discuss our personal practices to one degree or another.  Those that do spell work will happily talk about potential methods and ingredients.  We’ll talk about deities in broad (or sometimes specific) terms, we’ll debate the foundations of “standard knowledge” or ethics of a specific action.  As the saying goes, if you put four pagans in a room and ask a question you’ll get five different opinions.

So then, you say, what exactly is it we don’t discuss?  I’ll tell you – we don’t discuss the really tricky, complicated, difficult things.  We don’t talk about things that send us into a tizzy of frustration.  We don’t talk about the mistakes we’ve made without trying to turn them into funny stories.  We (mostly) don’t discuss our ignorance.

The funny thing about this specific reluctance is that it stems back to one simple word: fear.  In our desire to be taken seriously as religious folk, we self-select what we discuss and write about over and over again until it boils down to things we aren’t afraid to discuss.

The level at which we dissolve into Full Kermit Flail varies, but we all have a tipping point.  We’re afraid to talk about the “mystishit” currently plaguing us, or the fact that we cannot get a spell to work even after trying it seventeen times.  We’re afraid that we do things incorrectly, or badly, or sloppily.  We’re afraid of the things we don’t know, or don’t know well enough.  We’re even afraid of the things we do know, that we’ll be engulfed by them, or rejected because of them.

But, it’s the Flail-worthy topics about which we should speak up.   If no one speaks aloud of failure, or mistakes, or ignorance we’re continuing to perpetuate the myth that someone can just add water and POOF!  Insta-pagan!  This is not how best to serve what some call the “Pagan Community”.

So, from here on, I will not sugarcoat.  I will not hide and refuse to admit I do not know.  I will discuss my mistakes, in the open, where someone can read them and potentially benefit from the information.  And, in doing so, I hope to change just a small part of my Universe.

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9 responses to “Full Kermit Flail – Fear in Paganism

  1. This is certainly true of pagans, but I’ve also encountered the exact same sentiments in other areas. For example, a study showed that grad students (especially female ones) are afraid of showing that they experience problems since their professors might think less of them or judge them as outright incompetent if they do. This obviously prevents them from getting the help they require from said professors.
    So yes, sharing our failures will possibly make some fellow humans think that we’re not competent in our work/spiritual life, but then again, without asking we won’t be getting the input we need to resolve our problems.
    Great post!

    • Thanks!

      You’ve got something there – my son used to have difficulty asking for help while he was in high school because he didn’t want anyone to think he didn’t understand a topic…which meant he dug himself deeper into a hole. I’ve never really understood why it is “cooler” or safer to keep a lack of knowledge to oneself.

  2. On a whole, I wish we (Kemetics in general) would discuss more of the nitty-gritty aspects of our religion. It always saddens me that no one is willing to get down and figure out the details, the stuff that most of us really don’t get. It seems like many forums are filled with fluffy, easy topics that you see get rehashed over and over and over again (i.e. what offering does X god like? ). I think failure is important. Frustration is important. It’s what drives us forward, pushes us through to success. I have no clue if I discuss my failures often, but if I don’t, I really should.

    • I completely agree. I also think speaking about our mistakes and failures ties in with speaking about the fallow times. We want to make our religion glorious and appealing but we forget that painting it as perfect will backfire.

      I’m going to try to write this week about some of the mistakes I’ve made. I suspect it will not be easy, however.

  3. Love love love your post! This is something I have personally been working on as well recently! There is SO much that I DON’T know or understand, even after studying and practicing for a long time. But, how can I LEARN if I don’t ask? I am at the point in my life (and my practice) that I really don’t care what others think of where I’m at or what I have done/currently do…I want more. There are some things I may be very knowledgeable of (and I love to help others when I can) that someone else has much confusion over and vice versa. What’s wrong with being honest with OURSELVES as well as those we might “hope to impress”?

    Thank you for this post.

    • Nothing, in my opinion. We cannot learn and grow if we don’t admit what we don’t know.

      In my line of work, one of the worst things one can say about a colleague is “S/he doesn’t know what s/he doesn’t know.”

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