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