Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Being a Pagan Goth

I am a pagan goth.  This isn't a particularly unique combination, nor is it any more special than any other types of pagans or goths.  There are Jewish goths; there are quite a few Christian goths, although in my experience they aren't always welcomed by mainstream Christian churchgoers unless they hide their goth tendencies.  I'm sure there are Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim goths, although I haven't met any yet.  And of course, there are many goths who are agnostics or atheists.  But what is it that causes so many goths to explore alternative spiritual paths such as Wicca, Asatru, or Shamanism? 

One reason, of course, is that pagan paths are not 'mainstream'.  As with the goth subculture in general, pagans are free to be themselves and follow their own spiritual inclinations, and there are many different paths to follow.  And for some, becoming goth and becoming pagan are both ways of rebelling against either society in general or their families in particular.  But while some people spend years exploring other paths only to eventually return to the one they originally left, others, like me, find that greener grass really IS on the other side of the fence.

My personal journey began at around 36, after my divorce.   My church friends were an incredible support to me during and after my separation and divorce, but I was having a hard time with some of the dogma itself. I was finding it harder to believe that a single, omnipotent male god REALLY runs things all by Himself; if we were supposed to be "made in His image", where was His female counterpart???  Because a male god sure never has periods, or gives birth, or does a lot of the other things women get stuck doing in this life! Yet, according to the church I grew up in, only men can do certain things and hold certain powers in both this life and the afterlife, while the women who work beside them and support them (and raise their children) are still considered to be dependent on the men, and there is no position in the church that gives a woman authority over any male over the age of eleven.

So I started looking at other paths, Wicca being the one that drew my attention the most. I followed that path for several years, even organizing and running my own coven. I have also participated in some Dianic goddess groups, and enjoyed them thoroughly.  However, over time, my searching has drawn me more and more toward shamanism.

Shamanism, like most pagan spiritual paths, is not about hierarchy or dogma.  It is also neither totally male- nor female-oriented, although it does vary from culture to culture; in some the shamans are male, in others they are female, in still others they can be both, and then there are those cultures whose shamans are all transgendered.  But to me, one of the best things about shamanism is that you don't have to believe in 'gods' per se.  Some cultures do, while others believe more in 'spirits', who are powerful in many ways but not, like gods, in ALL ways.

I'm not sure I believe anymore in 'gods' as we define the term, one or more omnipotent, all-seeing beings who can choose to reward or punish us, depending on whether or not we follow their rules.  But I CAN believe in spirits whose powers are far greater than those of humans, yet are on a lesser scale than those whom we term 'gods'.  This would really help explain why some prayers are answered while others are not, why bad things happen to good people, and why sometimes the bad guys DO win.

All of these could be reasons why many goths choose to follow, or at least explore, non-traditional spiritual paths, but I'm sure there are other reasons as well.  Do you follow such a path, and if so, what was it about that path that called to you? 


  1. In my opinion, God has no gender at all. At least in the swedish protestantic church (main religion here) we have lots of female priests. I'm a christian goth but not a regular visitor at church. A friend of mine is goth and work both serving at ceremonys and with youth's at church and doesn't get any problems with that. she got promoted recently :)

    1. If there is only a single god, it would make sense for that god to be either genderless or dual-gendered. I could go along with either of those.

      If I were going to go back to Christianity, I would definitely look for a church that has both male and female priests/ministers. And I've always heard that Sweden is one of the most tolerant and open-minded countries in the world; sounds like that is true! :-)

  2. I have been Pagan for a long time. Like you, I don't believe in a god that interferes, punishes, rewards or whatever. I consider the possibility that there is some entity that is inherently self contained. I do believe that spirits exist and that they may present themselves as either male or female. I also believe that thoughts and belief systems create and therefore, accept magick as a reality; at least, for some.

    I was brought up Episcopalian and experimented with other Christian "religions." I eventually came to feel that dogma was utilized as a tool for control and discouraging real spiritual exploration.

    1. I totally agree with your comment about dogma. While there ARE church leaders who don't use it that way, they are fairly rare, and are often those who might be considered heretical, or at least on the fringes.

      I've always laughed to myself whenever the word "heretic" is used by a church or religious organization; it originated from the Greek word 'hairetikos', which means "able to choose". So basically, heretics are those who are able to choose for themselves, and have obviously done so. Which is why the word is used in such a damning way by those who want to keep power and choice for themselves and away from everyone else.

  3. I was raised as a catholic, but as time passed I grew more and more dissatisfied with that religion. It made no sense to me that women have no authority whatsoever, in the catholic church and it also didn't make sense to me that pastors aren't allowed to marry and have children. I became interested in wicca when I was 12 and still am deeply interested in all things pagan, but I don't really follow any religion at the moment. I think I would best describe myself as agnostic, because I'm not sure about anything. That has mostly to do with losing my mum when I was 17, because of a traffic accident.

    1. I am SO sorry about your mum.

      I've never understood the celibacy thing, either. Since the Christian god told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, why were his representatives NOT supposed to follow that commandment?? Makes no sense whatever to me.

      I'm not sure about many things, including what happens to us after we die. And you know something? I feel better about admitting that I DON'T know than I ever did when I thought I DID know. It's okay not to be sure; just don't close your mind to possibilities.