In this article we will be discussing the three primary responses that Pagans receive from non-Pagans when their religious affiliation is learned.
1. Fear/Hatred: “You’re going to hell”
Unfortunately, this response is all too common. Fundamentalist Christians believe that anything even slightly different from their own beliefs is ‘Satanic’. (It should also be noted that not many people, especially Christian extremists, even understand what Satanism really is). Imagine what goes through their minds when they learn someone identifies as a Pagan or Witch. They will either become fearful or outright angry, start quoting the bible, and say that you are going to hell. It would also seem that they don’t understand that quoting the bible to people who don’t already accept it as an authority is completely pointless. The best way to deal with these types is to first attempt to explain your beliefs and how they are clearly in no way ‘evil’. If this fails, as it all too often does, simply ignore the person. Fundamentalist Christians have usually gone through a lifetime of brainwashing and find it incredibly difficult to accept new ideas. You’re almost inclined to feel sorry for them…
2. Bewilderment: “You know magick isn’t real, right?”
Some people are unaware that Paganism is a spiritual path that even exists in today’s world. Others, while being aware of it, may think that believing in such things as magick means that the practitioner is somehow out of touch with reality (but believing that the Abrahamic god had to send his son to die for our sins because a lady ate an apple is totally reasonable). I once told someone that I was preparing for a ritual and the utter confusion on their face was hilarious. Had I told them I was getting ready to go to church, I am sure I would not have gotten the same reaction. The best thing to do is to tell these people that your practice honours nature and celebrates the seasons in order to make it sound a little less ‘strange’ to someone who is first hearing of it. Those who think that Paganism is nothing but ‘fairy tales’ can be dealt with by explaining that we believe that the earth and Universe is made of energy that we should strive to attune ourselves with. This has a scientific basis and will help the person understand the difference between ‘movie magic’ and real magick.
Certainly the best out of these three, this group is fascinated with the idea of magick. There is no doubt that occult mysticism has a certain allure that catches the interest of those who are not so closed minded. Although they may not practice the craft themselves, some people find the idea intriguing. They will not tell you that you’re going to hell or that magick isn’t real, but will instead ask you many questions about it. They see us as mystic people who have some special ability to be in touch with the great mysteries of the occult. Answer all of their questions, for they are generally interested, and be thankful that they exist. It’s nice to be able to have positive interactions with non-Pagans who true fascination with our craft.