…or, “Pagan Leader, heal thyself…”

I used to believe that all paths and personal journeys people take to find their way to the Gods were valid and should be expressed. Only through more contact with large-group Paganism has that slowly changed.

The more I hear/read from the more vocal Pagan thinkers, and the more I know about the people themselves, the more disjointed the picture becomes. I never believed these people were “perfect vessels” in any way, but it’s becoming clear that some of these people tend to speak one way and act completely differently. It’s as if they don’t hear their own enlightened message. I won’t mention names – what’s the point except to incite a flurry of protest – but with few exceptions, these people lead lives that are unenviable, to say the least. Drunks preaching moderation, the purposefully-unemployable preaching hard work, the perfidious preaching loyalty – it’s getting to be too much.

I question how these deep, insightful messages really change the people themselves, or if they do at all. If the messages these people receive and reveal to us don’t make them better people, how valid is the message? It reminds me of psychiatrists I used to work with – some of the most deeply disturbed people (and strangely enough, the most highly-schooled in the ‘deeply disturbed’). I knew one therapist who was on his fourth marriage; he was a marriage and family counselor.

I’ve always understood that the messages the Gods send us are supposed to help us a) go within ourselves, b) see ourselves with new eyes, c) change and heal our inner selves, and d) let those changes shine outward. It’s a slight expansion of the Greek principle “metanoia“. They want us to be better people, I think. The things They reveal to us are meant to help guide us toward community, spirit and personal wellbeing. It’s disillusioning to see petty, manipulative and short-sighted people tout themselves as enlightened, although I have to admit that I, like the Vicomte de Valmont, lost my illusions on my travels. Seeing it as often as I do on the Web, in magazines and at festivals, I have to worry, though, that people rather new to Paganism see these things, and don’t question them more closely.