Ok, I’m doin’ it. I’m gonna say my two cents on fat Pagans, skinny Pagans, and body shaming within our community.
I come from a pious, Born Again Christian community from a small town in Missouri. Potluck gatherings amongst my parents’ church congregation was a common occurrence for whatever occasion, because our fellow church members were a second family to us and we were all very close and supported each other. The food that you’d commonly find at these shin digs…well I just don’t think these people knew what quinoa was (let alone how to pronounce it!), and would reveal a very confused look if you suddenly added the word “tempeh” in between “grilled” and “burgers”. These were simple folk. What my father would call, “The backbone and bread basket of America”. They ate meat n’ taters and lots of butter! The only green vegetables I remember were in green bean casserole or broccoli smothered in Velveeta.
So to get to the point, I don’t think that on average, Pagans are more overweight than the members of other religions. I think that on average, Americans are more overweight. And unlike some other religions, Pagans tend to express acceptance and promote self love and self beauty. Thus like a moth to a flame, we attract those individuals who feel discrimination and loathing from their society. This isn’t just obesity however, it’s under-weight individuals as well. It’s social awkwardness, tendencies to a darker and morbid mindset, those who are into kink, sci fi fantasy and larping, gaming, body modification, polys, artists, radicals, and anyone who feels ostracized. It’s the idea that we may be a freak show to you, but we’re a loving freak show!
Getting back to the topic of body weight, however, we need to stop body shaming the Pagan community. I’m not talking about the prejudice coming from the Muggles; that’s a whole ‘nuther blog post on its own, full of it’s-none-of-your-goddamn-business statements and go-find-a-hate-group-that-believes-in-segregation suggestions. What I’m talking about is Pagan to Pagan body shaming. Internal discrimination from those we thought were loving and accepting. If you can’t cast skyclad by someone who you consider to be overweight, underweight, or not beautiful enough to your standards; then go find a hate group that believes in segregation, because it’s none of your goddamn business.
But there is a weight problem in the Pagan community. There is a weight problem in every community.
I could mention excusable factors, sure. Rare diseases that cause people to gain weight easily or medication that does the same. Genetic big-boned body structures and ethnicities that reveal more bodily curves. Or hell, I could say it’s American society’s fault. And these are completely valid excuses! But they are rare in comparison. So the real problem (here we go)… is the health. Or more true to my point, the lack thereof. A good friend of mine recently related an old saying to this issue to me. In The Emerald Tablet, supposedly written by Hermes Trismegistus (a kind of Greek god Hermes and Egyptian god Thoth combo), we find a well written out statement of a more commonly known condensed phrase: “That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing” (translation by Sir Isaac Newton, 1680). As Above, So Below.
We can apply this cryptic ambiguity to almost anything in terms of its meaning. So let’s look at it in terms of health for a moment, shall we? “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27, King James Bible). Has anyone looked at our gods, I mean really looked at them?! Most of them have barrel chests and bubble butts (did you seeee the washboard abs on Hermes above this?! Totally jelly)! I’m not saying we need to look like Adonis, but holy shit…we have got to put the occult books down for a second and jump on a treadmill. The common contemporary mindset of the Pagan man or woman exists in the health of the mind or spirit, but not of the body (I’m not talkin’ bod mod, here). We neglect this very temple that the gods and Nature have gifted us that affects so much of our daily lives, including our practice. I have been both out of shape and in shape. I have lived on fast food and sugar, and I have lived on a lean/clean plant-based diet. I am far from being a saint of healthy living and from my own goals, but I am here to tell you that I feel so much closer to my gods and so much more affective in my magick when I eat healthier and exercise regularly and push myself beyond my physical limits, than I ever did without.
It is time we make a change in our habitual mindset. It is time that we add personal health and fitness to our religious sources. Summit a mountain and look for your goddess! She lives in the wilderness far from your roads, and she lives within the love you have for your life and your health. So push yourself. Challenge yourself. Sacrifice that which contradicts this for her, because gods have to be appeased. And everything will change, this I promise. Our bodies constantly strive to maintain a healthy balance and when this doesn’t happen, consequences can sometimes occur. This can be so great as chronic diseases and illnesses, and/or so little as sleep apnea, depression, job complications. You would be amazed at what dramatic health changes can do to your whole life. Now you could easily call me a hypocrite by saying it’s still none of my business to talk about others’ bodies, health, and livelihood. It is, after all, their bodies and their decisions on how to live their lives, and not mine. True. And not true. I will never tell someone how to live their lives no matter in what form, because I had enough of that in my upbringing and it’s not my place. But I do love my fellow Pagans and I want to selfishly see them live a happy and healthy life. So I’m not here to push it, I’m here to suggest it and let you take it or leave it.