Feelin’ Huggy?

Last week I talked about to the importance of respect in the Pagan environment when it comes to freedom of dress. In this post, I’ll be examining this idea as it relates to the complex world of social interaction.

When you go to the average social gathering, how do you greet new people, or acknowledge friends of yours? A quick handshake? Maybe a bro-fist, or even a half-second pat on each other’s backs? If so, then your first Pagan gathering might be slightly shocking, as up to hundreds of people begin hugging like they all just won a sports medal.

 Photo by  Andres Kudacki, from the Guardian

Photo by Andres Kudacki, from the Guardian

It’s not that the average Pagan greets every person they meet with a touching caress. But the many festivals I’ve attended throughout my life have always been a great judgment-free zone for those who want to get their hug on with old and new friends.

On a similar note, most rituals call for the gathered circle of people to hold hands for parts of the proceedings. As attendance can easily range from 10 to more than 100, depending on a number of factors (especially weather), this almost guarantees you will be touching a stranger.

For those of you who feel a sense of discomfort or embarrassment about this, I see where you’re coming from. After all this time, I still feel nervous reaching out to someone I’ve never met before. What if I hold this person’s hand too tight, and they think I’m a creep? Or too loose, giving the impression I’m an aloof jerk? Oh, the complexities of social interaction.

But, as many authorities in the Pagan community work to make clear, you never, ever have to take part in any form of closeness you don’t want to. After all, self-respect is a major part of our religion.

That’s not to say there are never issues surrounding disrespectful behaviour within the community – as in any other. However, these behaviours are met with swift repercussion, and go deeply against our beliefs.

The main deital figures of Paganism are the God and the Goddess - two beings of equal power and importance. This equality is mirrored in our structure; rituals are performed together by a priestess and a priest, and can be led by either a high priest or priestess.

All of this goes toward creating an environment of tolerance and connection with others. I am proud to be a part of this community.

Nathan Mulcahy

Is a student in the 2013 Professional Writing program at Algonquin College, and a proud lord within the Principality of Sealand. He has a passion for editing, and assisted with The Secret Promise: Return of the Wishing Star by Kristin Groulx and his sister Daphney Beaulieu.

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