Thursday, March 6, 2014

Update: Pagan Blog Project and more!

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted anything, not even for the PBP, for quite a while. I had a multitude of problems that stopped me from posting (from writer's block to a lot of stress and pressure with life shenanigans) but I am slowly catching up.

Here's what's up:

I chose to write and publish the post for the letter E, so I could stay within the PBP schedule (it's currently Week 2 for the letter E) before I started to post the letters I've missed. I already have drafts for the missed letters (namely B, C and D). The problem is they're rather complex and require quite a bit of effort before I can complete them (including research). Therefore, I can't promise you when I'll have them ready. In any case, I do believe it will be sooner rather than later.

In other news, I'm studying for my upcoming university exam period, I'm working on a new, academic-only, bilingual blog (it will have posts in both English and Greek), I'm taking Comic Art seminary courses (I just finished a four-month long cycle and will begin a second, more advanced, four-month cycle of weekly lessons), I'm working on a small webcomic I have on hiatus, and I'm trying to catch up on my personal research as well as practice my sketching and drawing.

As you can see, I'm rather busy so I really can't promise when I'll be able to write and publish the missed posts for the PBP. Worry not, though: I fully intend to publish them, even if it takes a while. I also want to write a number of other articles I want to post here which will be unrelated to the PBP.

Now time for a little self-promotion:

You can always support me by donating (you can find the Paypal Donate! button on the right side of the screen) or by hiring me for the spiritual services I offer via this blog. As you might already know, I'm an unemployed university student so every little bit helps me alleviate some of my family's burden as well as improve my daily life. :) Of course, even "just" sharing my blog and increasing my readers is a tremendous help!

If you're interested in my art-related work (still kind of amateur-ish), you can check my deviantART profile or my art-only Facebook page.

A note to any of my readers that want to request a service or even an art commission: regardless of my schedule and how busy I might be, the commisions and service requests I accept are my top priority both in terms of time as well as quality. You need not worry - I won't delay your request simply because of any schedule issues. :)

Finally, I want to close this post by thanking all of you, my readers, regular or not, for your support, whether that support is monetary or just reading my writings. Thank you!

Pagan Blog Project: E is for Entitlement

Entitlement is one of the more aggravating and widespread problems of the (overall) Pagan community*. It has a multitude of facets and tends to crop up repeatedly. In my experience, it appears the most among the Eclectic (Neo)Pagan scene, probably due to the scene's emphasis in individualisation, the lack of organisation and the - seemingly - large percentage of younger practitioners.

What is entitlement, though, and why is it so much of a problem?

Entitlement is having a right to something. It's not always a bad thing, although the term is used mostly negatively in the common vernacular. Feeling entitled means you believe you deserve a certain thing or result. In the way the word is used in this post, feeling entitled is believing you deserve a number of things whether you fulfill the requirements for said things or not.

There are many types of entitlement present in the Pagan community. Personally, I have observed entitlement in regards to knowledge, availability, recognition, training, gratification and others.

In the - nearly - 9 years I've been part of the Pagan community, I've come across people who demand that others hand out painstakingly acquired (or even secret!) knowledge "just because". The justifications range from "we're all Pagans so we should help each other" to "you're elitist snobs if you withheld knowledge". I've noticed similar behaviour from people who demand training or help while committing fallacies (such as appeal to emotion) as well as from people who want everyone to cater to their sensitivities and desires.

Entitlement in the Pagan community is a problem because there is very little anyone is entitled to within our religions. If one takes into account the fact that the Pagan community is actually a misnomer and an imaginary case (see note) and there are many, many different religions under Paganism, with their own limits, requirements and standards, then it becomes obvious that no one has a right to anything - at least not by virtue of association or "specialness".

No one has to cater to your sensitivities. You're not entitled to training, help, knowledge, acceptance or association simply because you want any of those things. Those things have to be earned (and for valid reasons - not mere desire or envy). Entitlement in the Pagan community is poisonous and problematic because it attacks the notions of hard work, effort, responsibility and progress.

Entitled people don't want to work to achieve their goals. They don't want to make an effort towards improvement. They don't want to build their spiritual and/or religious lives. They don't want to go through trial and error or to fight for their ideals.

Entitled people want to be handed everything for free. They want instant gratification. They want to be pampered and cared for regardless of their own worth. They want to be given everything without contributing anything. They want to have their pie and eat it too.

Unfortunately, entitlement stems from the flaws of our Western society, in many ways. It stems from bad education, from the issues of the demographic generations (such as the baby boomers and the millennials) and, last but not least, from social privilege. I don't want to go into the thorny subject of social privilege (not to mention, I don't have the qualifications to discuss it) but we can't deny that entitlement is rooted in it.

There are, thankfully, ways to battle entitlement. As Pagans we can strive to improve our respective communities; to choose and support our representatives carefully; to educate and improve ourselves where we fall short; to learn how to debate and discuss controversial issues without resorting to fallacies and fights; to reinforce the notions of hard work, valiant effort and co-operation.

These are neither easy nor quick solutions. However, few true and valid solutions are quick or easy.



*Pagan community: In truth there is no single, unified Pagan community. Rather, there is Paganism, which is a religious category, and countless communities within the belief systems that belong to Paganism. While those that identify as Pagans may feel a sense of connection to one another, even if their actual religious identities differ (e.g. Wiccans, Hellenists, Eclectics etc), the fact remains that "Pagan community" is an intentional misnomer utilised solely for simplicity's sake (instead of saying "the various religious and spiritual communities under the umbrella of Paganism").