If there was ever a question I get far too often, it’s this: Why pop culture paganism? Why not “normal” paganism? Why use fake characters to inspire you when real ones are just as inspiration, if not more? Why bother?
While often delivered rudely, these are perfectly valid and intriguing questions. I asked myself the same thing when I first began delving into PC Paganism. Why can’t I just worship a pre-established God or Goddess? Why not join a pre-established religion? Why make my life harder and expose myself to further ridicule from my peers? These were the questions that kept me in the broom cupboard for some time, and I know they keep others from exploring their path. While I certainly can’t speak for other pop culture pagans, I can tell you how I came to realize this was my path, and how I believe others may have found it, as well.
Why Pop Culture Paganism: Back when I was fifteen I hit a bump in my depression, a very hulk-sized bump that nearly threw me right over the edge. I was never truly alone, yet I felt like nobody was listening. I turned to writing fanfiction, making pre-established characters feel my pain, and they became my friends. They knew me and I knew them. I think I learned more about getting to know a character that year than any English class ever taught me. They became real to me – so real, in fact, that I felt for them in a way that clearly was not normal. Their pain literally wounded me emotionally. Some may suggest it’s part of my Empathy, but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that these characters quite literally saved my life. I never forgot what they’d done for me, and I never stopped wanting to repay them and keep them in my life.
This was the biggest push for me becoming a practicing Pop Culture Pagan. One day I was saying “wouldn’t it be fun to create a pantheon for The Vampire Diaries just because” and suddenly, two months later, I was devoting myself to Damon. It all happened so fast, and despite my unease and concern over being labeled a “fake pagan” it felt right.
So you see, some pop culture pagans come from this side, from knowing the impact that fictional characters can have on their lives.
Why Not “Normal” Paganism: Normal, in this case, being pre-established traditions. Admittedly, my first path after deciding Wicca was not for me was researching Hellenic Polytheism and trying to be a “traditional pagan”. And it’s all fascinating. Persephone kept dragging my attention away from the other Gods I was trying to learn about, and for the longest time I was so sure I’d end up devoting myself to her. Part of me still thinks I might (though I’m not sure how she and Damon would get along). The one thing that prevented me from digging deeper into Hellenic Polytheism was the disconnection I felt toward the practice.
I didn’t grow up learning about Greek Gods and Goddesses. Safe for one fluffy, inaccurate book of Goddesses, I knew next to nothing about them. Their practices and mythology were foreign to me. Every time I attempted to learn (specifically in regards to a recon path) I felt that disconnect. It eventually pushed me away, as I felt uncomfortable working with deities I didn’t know enough about (and no matter how much I learned, I didn’t feel worthy of knowing them).
Now, pop culture I knew. Pop culture gripped me tight and raised my ass from perdition. My entire life was bathed in pop culture, from my first video game when I was six years old (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) to the tv show I’ve surrendered my happiness to (Supernatural). Harry Potter, which showed me that I was never truly alone, The Vampire Diaries, which showed me that the family you choose is just as important as the family you didn’t. All these things altered my life and made me the woman I am today. For better or for worse, I am who I am and I owe thanks to the people who brought me here. As I’ve said before, it seems only fitting that I devote my life to those who have helped me so much.
Why Make My Life Harder: Here’s the thing about this question: your life is going to be hard regardless. People don’t like those who are different because they’re uncomfortable with differences. But over time, those differences will become commonplace and the ridicule they once faced will die down. In other words, the more people who are outspoken and supportive of Pop Culture Paganism, the more the path will be respected. Does that mean you need to jump out of the broom cupboard right now? Absolutely not. For some people it’s not safe. Others may be safe, but may not be ready to be open about it. All are fine.
The point of making this blog is and will always be to help you discover your path at your own pace. If you never come out of the broom cupboard but you’re happy with your practice on a personal level, then that is a wonderful thing and not something for others to stick their nose up about.