Leaving the Labels

As I stepped away from the Crape Myrtle tree I had been admiring, caressing and talking to this morning, a conversation with a friend came back to me.

“Well, you’re Pagan,” she said to me in the most complimentary of tones.

“No, I’m not,” I replied, “I don’t know the words to any of the songs.”

We both laughed out loud, and then she informed me it wasn’t about the songs. I continued to insist that I could not possibly be Pagan unless I knew the words.

“You talk to Fairies. You see Spirits. You feel the Earth… you are Pagan!” I knew her list was longer than that, but I cut her off saying, “I don’t know the words. Nope, can’t be Pagan.”

I love bantering with her. Her spirit is so sweet, her love so deep, that we both know it is all play, even when we are learning from each other and pushing each other to greater growth. (perhaps especially then.)

We continued our play, but it got me thinking.

Why am I so opposed to being identified as Pagan? There are plenty of Pagans I love and respect; it is nothing to do with the practice, so it must be something else.

It came to me this morning. It is not “Pagan” that I object to, it is any form of label that would create division.

Christians vs. Pagans, Democrats vs. Republicans, Blacks vs. Whites. They’re all just labels stuck on by people in an attempt to categorize others. What is the point? Those labels don’t help us relate to each other, they simply create another dividing line, and I would know a lot about that.

I was raised to believe that any form of homosexuality is evil, and cautioned to stay away from “those people” or they would try to take me to hell with them. Given that I had been hearing it since early childhood, it was frightfully ingrained.

Then I enrolled in Massage Therapy training. I immediately bonded with two women in the class, and we spent most of our time together. They became my closest friends. The class was 18 months long, and we were more than half way through when I found out they were both lesbian.

My world took an enormous flip. These women were wonderful people! They were gentle, kind, caring, and had not once attempted to “convert” me. This went completely counter to everything I “knew” to be true. I had to take a very hard look at the beliefs I had been given, and have been examining beliefs ever since.

I’ve watched people come to know each other at the soul level before they knew the details of each others lives, and later admit they would not have welcomed the other had they known the labels they would have placed on them.

It’s sad, appalling, and wrong (in my opinion, and it’s my blog, so I get to express my opinion.)

What on Earth can we do to stop this madness? I would love to see your suggestions for yourself as an individual, you as part of a local community, you as part of a nation, and you as part of this world we live in. Please share your experience (or what you would like your experience to be) in healing the divisions.


One Comment

  1. I have a deep appreciation for irony & wisdom.
    As caught up in not liking labels when I wrote this, I knew there MUST be a good use for labels.
    Cue Universe…
    Wise friend made the following comment on Facebook:
    “Beautiful article and I wholeheartedly agree with all of it! I must concede, however, that labels are handy at times. The labeling of a Southern Baptist camp out would prevent me from showing up in a sarong and nothing else. :)”
    Oh. Yes.
    Labels are wonderful when I use them to moderate my own behavior, not try to judge, control, or manipulate others!

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