Pagan Etiquette

or “Why  is Lady *Ashera such a bitch?”

*Editors note:  “Lady Ashera” is not a real person nor does the author personally know of any  lady named Ashera, though frankly,  this does elude  to someone  he does know.

We Pagans tend to be rude you know. We’re rude to each other and we’re rude to outsiders. We’re superior and “holier than thou” and this is a real turn off to seekers.

I don’t think we are intentional about this. I think it’s just a matter of not thinking; of not putting oneself in anothers shoes. There’s an old Indian proverb about “walking a mile in anothers moccasins” that comes to mind.

Here are two sets of guidelines. One is for leaders and the other for everyone else. Note that these are drawn from my own personal experiences and even some of my own mistakes!

For Pagan Leaders and Clergy:

      1. When newcomers are coming to your circle or event, be on the lookout for them and make sure someone greets them and makes them feel welcome. You may want to assign members of your group to perform this function.
      2.  Make sure the ritual starts when you said it would. You know the joke about why Midnight is called the “Witching Hour”? That’s when the 8:00 ritual finally begins! Don’t do it! It’s really lame.
      3. Make sure your expectations are clear to those coming.
      4. If you publish a newsletter, make sure names are spelled correctly in your data base. If you offer networking lists within that publication, be sure to include everyone who wants to be listed — you’re not allowed to leave someone off just because you don’t know them or don’t agree with their views (unless you state that right up front).
      5. If you publish a newsletter and ask for contributions from readers, make sure you acknowledge their contribution. You don’t have to agree with, or even print them. You do have to acknowledge and thank the contributor.
      6. DON’T use “Psycho Babble” to instruct or discipline people. They won’t get it (though they might pretend to).

I’m referring here to phrases like “You’re not grounded”, or “You’re not centered“, “You’re not in your body,”You’re in your head,” etc. These phrases convey your spiritual superiority over a person who ends up looking for something wrong with themselves (since they really have no idea what the hell you mean, and frankly, neither do you. If you’re trying to control someone, this is a great ploy and works most of the time. I’ve seen High Priests and Priestesses alike pull this number (hell, I’ve done it myself). In my humble opinion there is not a single person walking the earth that is qualified to pontificate in this manner.

Being the High Priest or Priestess is not good enough. You are a servant of the people. You have to be gracious, a willing host or hostess. You have to be willing to do outreach and interact with the Pagan community at large. If you’re not willing to fill this role, you have no business being clergy.

For everyone:

  1.  Don’t show up late to the ritual.
  2. If you are asked to bring items, don’t forget them.
  3. RSVP on an invitation means you reply whether you are coming or not.
  4. Don’t touch other peoples ritual items unless they give you permission.
  5. If the group you are visiting requests that you leave certain items at home, then please comply.
  6. Refrain from trying to recruit people into your group when visiting another.
  7. If invited to “share water” be sure you understand what that particular group means by that. With some groups it’s just a friendly sharing. With others it means you are married to the group. Still other groups are somewhere in between. Know what you are getting into before hand.
  8. If you are a Vegan and get invited to a ritual where meat eaters will be in attendance, don’t be upset if there is nothing for you to eat. This same rule applies in reverse. Also, you’re not allowed to pass judgment on anyone’s dietary preferences or proselytize your own.
  9. If you are invited to another Coven or Circles ritual, that does not give you permission to criticize them. Keep your criticisms to yourself. It is up to their leaders to make corrections. You are only a guest.
  10. If you have Pagan oriented bumper stickers on your car,
    please drive courteously. Don’t try to out “asshole” the other drivers.
  11. If your tradition allows you to use a “title”, such as “Lord” or “Lady”, bear in mind that a lot of people view that as pretentious.
    Use titles only with folks of your own tradition. No one else will appreciate them.

These are by no means exhaustive, but I think I’ve covered most of the major offenses. I’m sure that there are others though, and I’d like to hear from you.