A small note before we begin. The topic of this article was kindly brought to my attention by one of our own – Karen Heyou on the Deeply Rooted Facebook community. I’d like to thank her for the writing prompt and acknowledge her contributions to our active little Tribe. Thanks, Karen for being muse, activist, and social warrior. Your efforts are appreciated and are your sacred expression of legacy!
Plainly put, most of us wear a mask. We hid our true nature from the world and create a persona with which we interact with the rest of humanity. Some folks are better than others at concealing their true selves and some are just more honest about it than others. Folks have all kinds of reasons for wearing a disguise in the public forum and those reasons range from benign social anxieties to more menacing and manipulative intentions. Whether we consciously realize it or not – we are creatures capable of camouflage that would put a chameleon to shame! So just why is the topic of authenticity crucial to discuss within the Pagan community when we know that just about everyone is showing up for the Witch’s Ball in full masquerade regalia? Humanity’s greatest cosplay experience has a darker side.
Authenticity comes into play when we’re dealing with issues that require Paganism to maintain a legitimate profile in the modern world. We’re evolving as a spiritual Path, and with that evolution comes folks who are ready to rip Paganism apart for every little flaw. We’re never going to be perfect – nor were we designed to be as such – however, we are capable of showing the world just how stunning the Path of Paganism can be and why it deserves just as many rights as monotheistic religions. We’re not doing it to evangelize to the masses – we’re doing it to protect those who have consciously made the decision to break away from the mainstream and follow their hearts and minds!
I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t wear a mask. Sure, I created the persona of Shining Quill the Unicorn as a means of not only lifting myself from depression – yet also to build up and recognize the accomplishments of others. There’s been times when as a priestess I’m leading a ritual and just an hour before, my five little children were all having a melt down about cleaning their room or some other little mundane chore I asked them to do. I’m not smiling inside, however, I know I have to walk out and serve others- because that’s what being clergy is all about! So I pluck myself up, take a deep breath, and shift my focus because I want the experience to be something everyone can enjoy. I’m not the only clergy at Deeply Rooted or anywhere else that’s done this, so certainly, the scenario is not unique – yet it does illustrate the how the need for authenticity can be bent a bit to serve others in times of need.
Leaving monotheism and living in a culture that is conditioned by it, we don’t always see how we can fall victim to those who are looking to take advantage of us in our most vulnerable states. There’s predators out there – in monotheism and in polytheism (and all the various isms) – and it’s our job to equip ourselves with the best tools possible to guard against fraud. As Pagans, we take proactive steps to identify and walk away from narcissists who would otherwise leave us drained – mentally, spiritually, and financially.
What authenticity breaks down to is a few key concepts. First off, does this person or community’s words match their actions? I’m talking about most of the time (because everyone has crappy times and sometimes can’t deliver.) Are they manipulating people emotionally for finances or blind faith? Are they open to folks asking questions and even challenging their stances? These and many other things are important when considering if a venue or a spiritual consultant is legitimate and can save a lot of money, sleepless nights, and needless drama for all involved. It’s perfectly fine for folks to charge for services – such as rootwork / conjure, divination or consultations – however there are some that go out of their way to defraud Paganism and make perfectly legitimate folk look like con-artists and Charlatans. Failure to deliver, over-promising, or just embellishment to the point of manipulation are just a few of the damaging effects of folks who are bent on destroying all we’ve worked for as a collective community. We must remain vigilant of the abuse within our community and act when we see it!
What’s important to keep in mind is that we as Pagan folk are ultimately responsible for ourselves. Do the research on folks, keep your eyes open, and never trust blindly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out to folks who have had previous interactions with the subject. Be aware of your rights in any given situation and always make sure that whoever you interact with understands and respects consent culture.
It should be noted that all spiritual services that clergy provides at Deeply Rooted are and will always remain free to those that seek it. That’s our mark of authenticity and we do it to further Paganism and promote the lives of its practitioners. As always, thanks for reading along! I always appreciate comments, intelligent debate, constructive criticism or even suggestions for different articles! Blessed Be! – Shining Quill the Unicorn.