As I was reading the response of Ms. Demarco to Jason’s critique of ‘The One’, I thought to myself: ‘why is it that almost all the visible NeoPagans (i.e. those who interact with the media) come across as poorly educated, self-conscious and generally rather petty?’ I have nothing against these people personally, I just resent that the people who shove themselves into the media spotlight generally make the world regard NeoPagans, on the whole, as ill-informed, irrational beings.
I mean, in Australia we have Fiona Horne (who doesn’t really seem to grasp that Wicca is a polytheistic religion) and, apparently almost as bad, Stacey DeMarco (who thinks that “There were more people killed in the inquisitions than the holocaust” – for a good rebuttal, see The Wild Hunt Blog). I’m sure they’re lovely people. But personally, I would rather be represented by someone who has at least a basic understanding of either the theology/orthodoxy/orthopraxy (all 3 would be nice) of the religion they claim to represent, or any understanding of historic fact. Both would be fantastic, but I think that’s naught but a pipe dream, at present.
So, these two are prominent ‘representatives’ in the Australian media; the situation in the U.S. is muchthe same (with the like of Grimmassi, Ravenwolf, et all). Basically, all over the world, NeoPagans are being accounted for, in the popular media, by people we (or, at least, those of us with any idea what we’re doing) would really rather not be our spokespeople. From these reflections, I came up with these possible reasons/conclusions:
1) This is quite possibly actually representative of the NeoPagan community (or, at least, the majority of them). Spend enough time online, and you soon come to realise that the ‘revolution of DIY religion and eclecticism’ has had significant impact, in that few NeoPagans now seem to bother learning anything about their religion, their history, or even what the term they use to ‘define’ themselves actually means. This is the frightening conclusion.
2) Those people who could accurately – and intelligently – represent NeoPaganism are the ones who don’t feel the need to throw themselves into the media spotlight; the ones who don’t care for fame and glory, they care only for their lives and their beliefs. I have to admit, I fall into this category (minus being an intelligent representative) – I resent that I’m being characterised in the public mind as another idiot, but at the same time, if I really want to change this, I should step forth and represent myself. Which I do, but only on a personal scale.
3) Therefore, it will be a self-perpetuating problem that those NeoPagans who are willing and eager to thrust themselves into the public view will naturally be the ones who are perhaps less… intense? serious? educated? about their religion. Unless we, as a community, decide amongst ourselves that we should select our own spokespeople, based on their knowledge and actual dedication, the attention-seeking will always volunteer themselves. Though even a community-promoted spokesperson is still likely to be the one with the greatest ego.
Representing ourselves – and thus, our religion – as intelligent human beings on an individual level is a grand achievement in and of itself. But it would still be nice if we could also achieve this on the macrocosmic scale. I’m not saying everyone has to be an academic, not at all. But having some idea of the basic tenets and history of your, you know, religion might be nice if you insist on promoting yourself to the world. Just something to consider.