There are times when I am, I fear, a grumpy old man. Times of despair and frustration, when I hike up my pants and grap my waving-cane, thinking thoughts like, “most Pagans today are just dilettantes who want nothing more than a good party and a vague, non-falsifiable sense of personal power!”
I had a moment like that yesterday. Like many attracted to the Raving One, I have a kind of madness. Not the fun kind that leads to frenzied dancing and too much wine and staying up for a week. No, I have rather severe depression, with equal helpings of anxiety, that comes and goes in waves. It’s a dark, lonely place full of dark, lonely thoughts.
I don’t particularly like being there. Sometimes I can pull out of it with music and movement, sometimes not. Sometimes it has to be endured until it passes of its own accord.
Those are the bad times when I think poorly of the world in general, and of my fellow Pagans and polytheists in particular. Normally, I don’t fall to the fallacious thought that people I think are like me ought to be better than everyone else. But at such times…
So I thought that uncharitable thing about my co-religionsists. After, I had to undo that thought, and remind myself that people usually reach as high as they have to to get what they want, assuming there’s nothing holding them back. Lots of people in Paganism are getting out of it exactly what they need; and if all they need are a few public rituals and the occasional candle-burning with friends, then good for them.
I want more. I want daily, monthly devotions. I want to host quarterly and annual devotionals. I want to work with a tight group of folks who are seek intense experience of the presence of the gods.
But that’s what I want, and sometimes I forget that what I want is not a good measure of what other people should want, or what they need, or what they should help me get.
We aren’t all mystics. And expecting the majority of others to be is just going to piss them off and leave myself feeling even more isolated.
Depression is a warped mirror, through which I see the world distorted into the shape of my own feelings of failure. It takes considerable effort to un-twist that vision, but I’m stronger for it.