I've been thinking about this for years and have finally decided to write about it: Gossipy pagans, jaw flapping, badmouthing pagans who repeat and embellish anything they hear about others and sometimes make a big damn deal out of nothing. My first encounter with this occurred when I visited the most established and public group that I know of, a group from Springfield. I won't mention the name of the group or the individuals involved; I just want to recount the story. This was quite a while ago and things may very well be different. I had never met with any group before so I was nervous and excited when I attended my first pagan discussion meeting. And I was disillusioned and disappointed when the topic of soul bodies drifted into the area of "let's bash this other group". They spent so much time badmouthing this other group and its members I didn't end up learning anything except how spiteful the gossipy people were. I was craving pagan community and thirsting for magical experience and knowledge and instead what I got was conversation unworthy of an elementary school playground, much less an adult pagan discussion group.
I was a lot younger then and I was a beginning witch and didn't have the heart or the guts to discourage such behavior. But even then I was disappointed not only at the way the meeting had gone but at the mere fact that these more experienced pagans indulged in such a pointless and harmful activity. I thought, perhaps arrogantly, perhaps foolishly, that folks older than me with years more training and experience than me would automatically be wiser and above such a thing as gossip. I had assumed that those who had been walking their pagan path for many years would be beyond such things as witch wars and taking sides and swapping rumors and all that crap. I thought I had left that shit behind in high school. Not so. And I was reminded of this fact again when I attended the Springfield Pagan Pride Day and witnessed the conversation between two women who had a non-friend in common. The conversation had started with witchcraft and historical information but devolved into a case of two people agreeing with each other about how much they disliked another. I didn't know any of the people involved so I didn't feel I could say anything but now I kind of wish I had. I ask you: is this the kind of people we, as pagans, want to be? Is this the kind of behavior we want our children to emulate? Shouldn't we strive to have more honor and wisdom than that?
As practitioners of a religion that often falls into the "new age" category shouldn't we be aiming to bring something that's actually new to the human dynamic? Instead of name-calling and backstabbing and cliquishness we should put common courtesy and honesty above the desire to badmouth someone we don't consider a friend. Have some honor my fellow pagans and witches, if you can't say something good and you don't have anything concrete to back up gossip then just keep your trap shut.