Path Bashing

Path bashing is the vocal objection to religious or spiritual practices that seem counterintuitive to your own practices.  In my experience in the Pagan community, this happens most often with two things: concepts of deity (i.e. unverified personal gnosis) and application of the Rede.  This term does not apply to discrimination of a group from a path (namely the “women-born-women” ridiculousness in certain female only groups and festivals); that is a whole different animal.  It does incorporate the exclusion of Judeo-Christian Witches from being “valid” practitioners and complaining about how Wiccan-centric Pagan shops are.  It also applies to bashing mainstream religions as well, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.

If you do this purposely, shame on you.  It is definitely one thing to have a difference of opinion.  It is also fine to express it rationally and reasonably.  But how dare you name someone or someone’s practice feel inferior.  You don’t know their life path or their relationship with their deities.  It isn’t a matter of the other person “not having a tough skin” or “not being able to take criticism,” it’s a matter of you are bullying someone.  So stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

If you do this accidentally, you aren’t off the hook.  It happens (I know I have done it), but it still is a mistake that needs correcting.  If it is a difference in personal definitions, an exchange of ideas of a similar concepts will help clarify the situation.  This approach is great for approaching UPG and debated concepts like fluffiness.  Try to keep an open dialogue and lower the judgement.  If you speak before you think, apologize.  Every time.  If you don’t really know anything about the subject but made a comment, make an effort to read up on it.  Take this mistake to grow and learn.

If you think someone has path bashed you, call them out.  While some people thrive on being assholes and this approach will fuel the fire (walk away after the initial “excuse you” in that case), most people respond well to people who speak up for themselves.  If they apologize, accept it.  Be the bigger person.  In the event that someone does this more than once, report them to a teacher or even the administrators of the website you are using.

© Ariadne Woods

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14 thoughts on “Path Bashing

  1. How are ‘women born women’ rituals nonsense? As a Lesbian I prefer circles women without male privilege being asserted? Why is that not a valid path?

    1. Oops, I don’t think I was clear about what I meant. I am referring to the discrimination of the trans community in certain festivals and events (women-born-women it the phrase used to denote that only women born with female bodies can participate). I feel that all women, regardless of stage in the transition process, should be included. I have nothing against women only covens and it is certainly a valid path. And I apologize if I offended you by being unclear.

      1. I can see how those involved in both ‘sides’–if one must be binary of the situation feeling bashed. I sometimes wonder at the wallowing and the status that can be gained by being able to shout foul. The isn’t a generalization it is just an observation and probably a topic that can be wholly divergent from the initial discussion. I think that even the word path can be misunderstood or not perceived in the same light as practictioner and as observer. Words, meaning, communication, and intent are always so interesting to me.

    2. * * male privilege * *

      Male privilege ? ? ?

      What “privilege” is THAT? Being that I just “happen” to be born a “male” into a society like today’s, I certainly do not ever feel “privileged”! As a matter of fact, more likely to experience the not-so-privileged treatment by others BECAUSE I was born a male. – Hmmmm! So WHERE is that “male privilege” to be found again?

      This comment was not made to the best of thinking, as it sounds more like the rampant political-correctness that most of the “New Age” movements push. THAT is why I am no longer any part of any of these groups: Because of the closed-mindedness of many of the members and priesthood. If one is to be living the spiritual life, that means one needs to look past the petty labels and cease being part of the “compartmentalization” of people.

      We are ALL capable of being/becoming Spiritual Beings, regardless of the “packaging”.

      1. ….If one is to be living the spiritual life, that means one needs to…

        It is interesting how each individual can define spiritual and assume that everyone else has, ought, or should do or feel or behave in a like manner. Couldn’t this too, part of path bashing?

      2. Dragon’s Eye, the conversation regarding male privilege is not merely “rampant political-correctness,” nor is it the territory of only New Agers or or the closed-minded. Here’s a starting point if you’re interested in engaging with the subject:

        http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/faq-what-is-male-privilege/

        You might still disagree, but at least you’ll be informed.

        Privilege (whether male, Christian, white, heterosexual, etc.) has to do with notions of power and systematic oppression.

        Being a feminist and speaking out about these issues is not the equivalent of failing to “look past petty labels” and blindly “compartmentalizing” people.

      3. That’s funny.

        I STILL fail to see any real -or- imagined “male privilege”, at least from my own personal experiences. Such a “list”, as often is the case, is usually very subjective and so easily applied across the spectrum of all males. – Last time I checked, that is the laziness of generalization and stereotyping. Neither quality nor action reflects, to me anyway, a degree of spiritual enlightenment that is so bandied about.

        This also strikes against my more “humanitarian efforts” and state of mind, in that I truly believe that we were all intended and to be treated as equals and judged by our OWN actions; Not from “guilt by association” (stereotyping) with those who DO behave and act in such unethical manners.

        If there was any real “male privilege”, I have completely missed out on it.

        There again, I am not “like everybody else”, either.

  2. Pagans/Wiccans are heavily judged for their path. You’d think people would grow up and be a little more open-minded, but I experience the reactions all the time and I always have. I know my path is different and unique, but I come from a live and let live philosophy. So long as I am not hurting anyone, it’s ok. So long as others are not hurting anyone, they can do as they please. However, the judgment continues towards me. I don’t read anything into it any more.

    Excellent post.

  3. I think everyone male or female has the right to follow their own path without feeling bashed, bullied, or fear. Bulling is bulling no mater which way you look at it.

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