It is easy to feel alone. Here we are in an over populated world of constant digital communication, specialized dating sites, forums and websites catering to people (from girls named Rebecca to moviegoers), surrounded by our peers in cities and schools, concert venues and offices. And I think we all know it is yet, still easy to feel completely alone. And due to being a minority religion, maybe it’s more common to feel this way as Pagans. In 2008, the Academic Registration Information System (ARIS) states that there are 342,000 American individuals who identify as Wiccan, and 340,000 who identify as neo-Pagan (http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_nbr3.htm). Depending on specific sects, the majority of these Wiccans and neo-Pagans are women. When considering those more male-dominated sects (Asatru, Odinism, and Druidry), they’re still out numbered (http://www.academia.edu/7969429/Gender_and_Paganism_in_Census_and_Survey_Data). Now most guys I know are pretty cool hangin’ with anyone and becoming good friends with the Christian father of two down the street, so long as they respect each other. But I have ordered at MOD Pizza before in downtown Seattle, and seen the bearded man behind the toppings bar light up with a huge smile, and reveal his Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) necklace from behind his shirt, and greet me with a nod. There is an unsaid understanding that is deeply personal and thus, gratifying when you meet someone who shares similar religious beliefs as yourself.
Last summer, I started a Meetup group for Pagan men called, Green Man. It is a chance for Pagan guys to take a break from their hectic lives and meet some new like-minded peeps. We meet up twice a month; once a month in a social environment (like a bar or a café) and once a month outside (like on a trail or a river). I started this Meetup for two reasons: 1.) I remember what it was like only having non-Pagan friends nearby and no one able to relate to you like that, and 2.) When I just exhausted myself summiting a mountain by drinking my CamelBak dry 3mi ago, snagging my new shirt, and feeling my knee lock up only to realize that I still have to go back down; I get to the top and see the beautiful majesty that only Nature has and ever will have. The sight and the silence that follows after tearing apart and sacrificing every last comfort zone you had left to the mountain, to the rushing river, to the woods, to the constant sun, or to the unforgiving sea; is humbling. It’s spiritual. And it is when I feel the closest to being a man before my god. (id est: It is a crazy fucking high and I wanna share that shit)
Yesterday, a really bad wind storm hit and many Seattleites lost their power due to it, including traffic lights found on the same grids. I was on my way to a friend’s house on the 522, stuck in this stop-and-go traffic, when I received a notification on my Meetup app on my cell phone. The members in my Green Man Meetup are mostly guys who identify as Pagan, but a lot of them are not. The latter are either dudes who are curious about the religion and would like to meet others to learn more, or simply are just members to get out and have fun. And so a guy posts on there asking, “what do pagan men do exactly?” Thanks to a small town, Midwestern upbringing, this little-defensive teenager inside of me is always ready for revenge (and Pizza Rolls) and really wanted to reply, “We give each other naked bro-hugs and hump trees, what the hell do you think we do?!” But I knew that the guy was honestly curious and probably worked himself up to ask so publically. As I just learned from this documentary film I watched on Thursday called, The Mask You Live In (which is an awesome film, I totally recommend it!), I’m reminded I need to be more constructive in my communication. So as I’m inching from one lightless traffic light to another and being pelted by rain, I’m swirling that question around in my head. What do Pagan men do? How does it differ from any other man? How does it differ from Pagan women, or from a mixed gender group? The more I attempt to answer this in my head, the more I come up short. So I put the task aside until I returned home from my friend’s house. And when I did just this, I learned very quickly there was a 1000 character limit for posting on there. I rewrote it and rewrote it, discussing different styles of practice, pantheons, hobbies and interests, covens and solitaires, and even mentioning mead making! Deleting it each time.
Finally, I took a deep breath and a sip of my porter.
Pagan men do exactly what non-Pagan men do. The only difference is that we can relate and understand each other better than we can to someone who does not share our beliefs. Yes, there is a higher chance we may have shared interests in music, literature, and art as these are emotion driven, like our religions. But that’s not always the case, and it’s really about feeling free to act however you want to act and to say those things that you would normally leave out when you’re chatting it up with your sister’s boyfriend. Maybe the only real way that separates us from non-Pagans, is how we see things; how we view our world and our surroundings. But how do I really know this? How do I really know what my Atheist buddy feels after he summits a mountain and sees his accomplishment, or his Buddhist girlfriend beside him, for that matter? No, I think we’re just like everyone else. Except we have more candles.