I came across this article yesterday which focused on the lack of tolerance that arises between different Pagan groups, both towards each other and toward other religions. I think its an insightful article that captures an issue that is sometimes swept under the rug in Paganism. I found myself empathizing with the author, having had my own experiences with intolerance in the Pagan community. Indeed one of the reasons I tend to consider myself more of an outsider is because of those experiences.
I think that tolerance, as a skill, is something that people need to practice on a very conscious level. It is much easier to make fun of someone else's beliefs than to consciously accept a person's beliefs, even if you don't agree with them. And consciously accepting a person's belief doesn't mean you agree with that belief...it means you agree and accept that person has the right to belief what s/he will. The problem is that people are so invested in being right that instead of accepting that someone has different beliefs, they insist on shoving their own beliefs down your throat while also trying to prove that your beliefs suck.
Within the Pagan community I have been told at various times that I am a fluffy bunny, a flake, or that I'm reinventing the wheel. I even had a pagan podcast where the people involved decided to attack me on their show because I couldn't be a nice traditional pagan like them. And what all this taught me is that even within Paganism, if you aren't the same type of Pagan as others, then some people will take exception to it.
In the post I linked to the author notes the following:
I don't see how replacing 'One True God(s)' with another 'One True God(s)' is going to change anything. The persecution might switch for a couple of thousand years but after that, it's the same thing all over again. I wish we could all let go of 'One True'. Then there would just be God and Gods and we could finally stop trying to carve out a place for our religion from someone else's hands and focus on creating a space for ourselves separate from the religion of others
It's a good point and one worth considering. You don't have to believe what I believe, but you could accept that I believe it and practice it without judging it or me. The people who try to get others to believe what they believe or try and disprove someone else's beliefs are just creating more intolerance because of a need to have other people be like them, or because they think their God demands or, or they don't believe in any gods and think everyone should be just like them.
I'm of the opinion that you can believe what you want...I may not agree with your belief, but I do accept you have the right to believe it and I'm not going to try and argue against it or convince you my beliefs are better. I have better things to do than try and force my views on someone else. That's not what my spiritual path or life is about. I'd rather devote myself to my practice and share my ideas with whoever wants to discuss them in an intelligent manner. Isn't that better than all the fussin' and feudin'?
Book Review: Living Magical Arts by R. J. Stewart
This is a definite must have book in my opinion. I see it as a successor to William G Gray's "Magical ritual Methods" Stewart does an excellent job of discussing practical magical work, particularly in describing how magic works and what the practitioner can do to refine his/her approach to magical work. I liked the methodologies presented in the book as well as the author's perspectives on different topics within magical work. This book will provide a solid grounding in how magic works and will help you improve your practice.