- On November 26, 2019
- By Bronwyn Frost
- Tags churchandschoolofwicca, churchandschoolofwicca1968, criticism, gavinandyvonnefrost, harm none, new moon, newbie, not good enough, pagan, paganism, perfectionism, respect, sagittarius, shaming, shun, shunning, spiritual community, Wicca, wiccan, witch, witchcraft, yvonnefrost
New Thoughts on the New Moon — Shaming and Shunning
Sagittarius lunar cycle had a theme of integrity and transformation in your relationships.
An acquaintance of mine shared this information crediting Becca Tarnas.
Who is Good Enough?
How many times have you heard this in one fashion or another? “You are not good enough.” You have heard it in Pagan circles – the whisper campaigns indicating someone is not good enough. That person was initiated into the wrong tradition by the wrong Priest-ess or another one was a solitary Wiccan which essentially means she doesn’t know as much as I do. Or a family traditional Witch compared to a Gardnerian High Priestess or… Does this dismissive interaction reflect integrity in your relationships?
There are a myriad of ways to dismiss another person’s contributions to community, a myriad of ways to shame or shun someone who is “not good enough.” But… why can’t you accept that person? As we face another traditional US holiday of Thanksgiving, where families get together and behave the ways families do, which may not always be positive, we wind up looking to our spiritual community for support. But… what if that support is not there? What if your high priest-ess has been dismissive of or diminished you?
Transform with Integrity
It’s time to transform how we interact with those we perceive to be “other.” It’s time to stop shaming, shunning, dismissing or diminishing and time to actually lift each other up which will build community. It’s time for people who come to Pagan Community with their vulnerability to feel safe, not dismissed. I was preparing to talk to a friend the other day when I thought, “remember to hold space for that person. Do not act impatiently.”
We are not alone. People belittle each other all the time. I am regularly shunned in the Pagan “community.” I am accustomed to this behavior. Shunning me, as a direct result of another person’s words, is an informative action. You reveal yourself through your intentional actions towards me. I believe that we should not shun or shame others. If I encounter a Pagan who is seeking a path or growth, I look to lift that person up the best that I can until that person moves onto a new teacher. Often, a person does realize s/he is still seeking. I may not have an answer, but that does not mean I cannot support that person.
What is Good Enough?
I use this example a lot when I am teaching: I finished a post-graduate program with a final grade of A, or 4.0. Does that mean my work was perfect? Absolutely not. I am still learning. I have only been teaching in the public schools for a decade. When I first started teaching, there was some low-key shunning because I had not earned any respect yet and I came in through an alternative path to certification. For many teachers, I am still not good enough because I did not follow a traditional path to teaching. Do you see the similarity yet? I was not a perfect teacher on Day 1 and I am not a perfect teacher on Day 1843, I still have much to learn. The same is true within Wicca. On Day 18,432, I know I have so much more to learn while I try to live my faith.
What can you do?
First, if you do not feel supported within your spiritual community, be clear with other participants that you do not feel supported. If those people continue to act in a way that is not supportive, then it is time to move on. Give your community a chance to learn and, hopefully, improve. But if people are arrogant about their path which is more common than is comfortable, then it is time to move on to create a kinder community.
We teach “harm none, do what you will.” Dismissing a person, shaming a person, shunning another human being is harmful. Words cause harm and untended selfishness causes harm. Gavin and Yvonne wrote that we need to walk in balance. We cannot always walk with the light, but we can reach out and help others work towards that balance. As experienced practitioners of our Craft, we can reach into the Light or into the Dark to help others find that balance. Do we need to shun another person because s/he is from another tradition or from a book? Absolutely not. That human being brings a different kind of knowledge to our table or circle. My knowledge is so different from my parents. Your knowledge is different than mine. So few people, especially within the Pagan Community, bring the same understanding to the Circle. Embrace that knowledge. Open your heart, embrace transforming from diminishing to accepting. If it is done differently than you, ask and encourage.
From this new moon to the full, look to growth: within yourself and growing your acceptance of
others. No human is perfect, but we can all be better. And Blessed be, from Yvonne and Bronwyn, November 2019
For more information on more emotionally intelligent ways to criticize others, take a look at this Psychology Today article.