Division is natural. The first organisms in this world reproduced by simply dividing themselves in two. They copied their own genetic material and split in two. These two organisms then grow to a certain size and then split. So on and so forth, with random mutations accumulating until you get some gay blonde hunk of human flesh with a fetish for uniforms and a love of curry (the two, of course, are completely unrelated.)
So, division, you see, has been vital to the existence of life. Right now you have cells dividing, skin cells coming into newness, hair cells pushing other hair cells out to hang around on the scalp fairly dead, if a sperm cell unites with an ovum it will shortly begin to divide in an effort to bring new life into existence. Division is constant. It is another one of those truths in life. Division sustains life. It is also one of those processes which if it occurs too soon can result in the parent cell and/or the daughter cell being defective, damaged, or destroyed outright. Worse still, if a cell divides too rapidly you know what it becomes? Cancer. At this it must be cut away or the whole organism can be lost. If a cell divides too slowly the growth of the organism will be stunted and it will never reach its full potential.
Division also seems to be something that applies to many other situations. In entertainment we see a proliferation of different movie genres and styles; in video games we see a similar thing with styles, genres, and platforms; in theatre we notice a wide variety of not only plays but also acting styles, directing styles, and stage design styles. These all split off (if even only in an abstract way) from a bigger “parent cell” and with time and dedication may grow to be a noticeable and popular style or even replace the “parent cell” as the norm. Not all of these divisions prove to be fruitful or useful though and thusly die out.
Division will be an inevitable truth for the Pagan community as well. Not simply in the sense that it consists of different faiths and traditions, that is true of many sub-cultural groups. Rather, it will spawn various other sub-cultural groupings inevitably (and I suppose some could make an argument for Paganism being the “daughter cell” of the Occult currents in the mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries). We can see this in one instance in that Heathenry seems to have formed its own sort of self-supporting and self-contained community, they have the capabilities to hold limited group meet-ups and are experiencing a high rate of growth in many areas. While “partnering” with the Pagan community may be something of a benefit to them, I suspect that it is not something that is fundamental for them to be able to grow. We too are seeing the rise of another sub-cultural grouping which has dubbed itself the Polytheistic Community. Unlike the Pagan community and sub-culture, it has a fairly cut-across theology (it consists of those who identify as polytheists) as well as reinforcing a culture of devotional activities and reciprocity. The wording also inevitably creates a slight issue in conception, not all polytheists are a part of this emerging sub-culture yet all persons of this emerging sub-culture are polytheists. It would appear (to me) that this is creating some confusion among certain persons, mistakenly conflating the Polytheistic Community (often shortened to Polytheists) with polytheism at large and then making further assumptions and just really confusing the whole shabang. I’m rambling though, the point is this, the Polytheistic Community is beginning (I think) to start the process of dividing, or at least attempting to divide. They are finding themselves in a weird liminal state where many Pagans still consider them intrinsically a part of the Pagan community, while others consider them a separate community in their own right, only time will tell where they shall drift. I’m expecting a daughter cell to emerge and then grow.
Now I suppose that comes to the somewhat pertinent question of where I consider myself in the scheme of things. First and foremost, I resoundingly, enthusiastically, and emphatically, count myself among the ranks of those persons who identify as Pagans. I don’t necessarily count my religion as intrinsically and necessarily a part of the Pagan community, but Pagans have been there side-by-side with me in worship and in education. Some of the best advice and best education I have received in regards to magic, divination, and life in general has emanated from the Pagan community. Do I get mad when I hear someone state that they firmly believe all gods and goddesses are one? Not at all. I really don’t care, as long as no one denigrates my beliefs I will leave it to the will of the gods whether or not the person is “corrected”. If they try to engage me in discussion about theology I’ll be honest and respectful and I expect them to do the same. I couldn’t care less what someone believes about the nature of the gods as long as they are not denigrating me for my beliefs, I know what I know and they know what they know, and I leave it at that. Their relationship with the gods is not mine to tend and you cannot describe blue to a man who has never seen it, so I don’t try. As such, I haven’t found mingling with the local Pagan community to be exceedingly difficult and have found it to be a great delight. They have shown me nothing but kindness
My own personal placement in the Polytheistic community is more complicated. Frankly, I do not consider myself a “part” of such a community, despite there being several folks whom I respect greatly within it. The confrontations and conflict generated within the community are far too frequent (and usually with the online Pagan community) and they often become far too hostile for me to consider myself a part of such a community online. I am a total wimp when it comes to prolonged conflict and seeing people mad at other people for weeks at a time, it exhausts me and makes me start to dislike people. To be entirely fair and square and honest though, the same would likely be said of the Pagan community if my interactions were limited solely online. Despite this though, I recognize that due to my personal goals complete uninvolvement is quite impossible. So, I view my involvement as being ultimately superficial. I have friends in it and may work with some folks due to goals in common but I do not identify as member of the arising Polytheistic Community, I’m simply a man with a polytheistic theology. (which does not automatically place me into such a community. Refer back to the delineation made, I stand by that. Such a community only exists by self-identification, polytheism is otherwise a theological stance which does not have an intrinsic indicator of praxis or other beliefs wrapped up in it.) I would also like to assert that thhis DOES NOT SPEAK to how I perceive the quality of people within the community. They are good people and despite the guises some folks take, all of the perceived “hard-asses” I think are kinder people than their online presence would have you think. You of course are free to disagree with me on these thoughts and assertions and I’m sure many will. I’m sure there are those would vehemently and passionately argue that it isn’t a sub-culture and is rather a rising category of religions transitioning from polytheism to Polytheism on the world front, maybe in time, yes, maybe I could agree with that twenty-five years from now. Right now though, I’m simply seeing Paganism spawn a new sub-culture which is becoming increasingly independent of it and which (in time) will split from it entirely.
What I do know is that division is entirely natural, needed, and necessary, and that no one should be aggressive towards the Polytheistic Community as they attempt to divide themselves from the more general Pagan community rather than become an organelle within the cell. My own local Pagan community has been wonderful to me and evidently values both my presence, my religion, and my viewpoints. I also am beginning to realize that I may be exceptionally lucky in this matter, it appears that the decision to form their own community by various persons of polytheistic stances comes from being denigrated, ignored, and mistreated at Pagan events. So their hostility to the Pagan community didn’t really appear in a vacuum. . .
Who knows though, maybe I’ll piss just too many people off and get run off from everywhere! I’m sure it’d only take about one sacrificial goat to make the Neo-Pagans run screaming in horror. . .
Uhhh, well, maybe later.