Stay Gold, Hornyboy

The Wild Hunt has published this story (which has also been hitting mainstream news as well) regarding a man in Maine who fought and won to wear goat horns in his official state ID.

He claims to be a priest of Pan and that wearing horns is an expression of his religion.

While I support his victory in that a victory for any Pagan when it comes to religious freedom, is a victory for all Pagans, I also think it makes us, as Pagans, look a bit ridiculous.

Not too long ago, on the /r/Pagan subreddit on reddit.com, a man who was not a Pagan asked a question. He is a union steward and one of the members of the union is a Pagan woman who believes in covering one’s head as a sign of devotion.

Now, this is not a typical Pagan practice. Nor is it a particularly ancient one (except maybe priestesses of Vesta in ancient Rome). But I find the wearing of headcovering to be acceptable and worth fighting for. To me, it appears to be a serious expression of religion. Because it exists in other religions.

For some reason, I find the wearing of goat horns does not seem like a sincere expression of devotion. Moreover, it brings negative attention to Pagan religions. It makes us a punchline.

It’s a great deal more difficult for me to defend the religious devotion of wearing horns than it is headcovering.

Perhaps I associate one with polytheism (which I view positively) and the other with Wicca and Wiccanate Paganism (which I view negatively).

Perhaps it’s because I know others (Pagans and non-Pagans alike) are laughing at this guy (and, by extension, associating our religion with something to be laughed at).

Perhaps because the wearing of horns gives the appearance of Satan-worship, a misconception which Pagans have fought hard to correct.

I don’t know if Pan told the man personally to wear horns in His honor. If so, who are we to argue with Pan?

But if not, and it’s solely this guy’s interpretation (which is my read, though I could be wrong)…then I feel a bit frustrated because of all of this sort of crap that makes it difficult for us, as Pagans, to get respect for Pagan religions. People who have lost their jobs, or custody of their kids, or to get their holidays off.

I still love that Paganism has a fringe element to it and there should always be a place in our religion for that fringe. For outsiders. But by expecting the state respect your outlandish religious accommodation (which has no basis in historical polytheism), you lose your status as an outsider.

Should a Dionysian group work to get a permit for a ritual orgy?

I guess as I get older, I appreciate things like headcovering and prayer as signs of Pagan religious devotion. In order to convert Christians into Pagans, the Church had to make some concessions. They incorporated aspects of Paganism (such as Brigid becoming a Saint). People kept their folk practices (to some extent). Italian Catholics made statues of Mary, Jesus, and the saints instead of their old gods.

I have a soft spot for Pagan devotions that resemble Catholic or Orthodox Christian devotions.

So do I have a bias against people wearing horns and, generally, resembling Satan?

Not really. I think the popularity of the Alpine Christmas figure Krampus is pretty awesome (much to the dismay of my partner who finds him scary).

Perhaps, despite being somewhat of a Discordian long ago, I’m losing the soft spot in my heart for frivolity in my religion.

~ by sacredblasphemies on 12/14/2016.

7 Responses to “Stay Gold, Hornyboy”

  1. I would never do what he did, but I would also never personally presume that I know what’s sincere devotion and what’s not.

    I guess as I have gotten older and taken my religion more seriously, I’ve carried with me different lessons from when I was a Discordian years ago than you do.

    • Like I said, I don’t know whether it’s a mark of devotion from Pan or not. For the sake of religious freedom for all Pagans, I’m glad he won his battle. Though I also feel that sometimes it gets hard to be taken seriously as a religion when there’s a guy walking around with horns on his head.

      I know some polytheists have rejected the Pagan label entirely and after seeing things like this (and having dealt with Wiccans for a long period of time), I can appreciate why.

      • A devotional polytheist myself, I think that shedding the Pagan label is every bit as silly as the horns in question. Reminds me of star-bellied sneetches. I find it’s a lot easier to be taken seriously by not stressing too much about who takes me seriously, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here.

      • If it works for you, that’s awesome. I am perhaps overreacting (as are other Pagans).

    • After reading a bunch of blog posts on the subject, I feel like I’m being too harsh on this guy. I’ve been reading a bunch about “respectability politics”. As a radical leftist, I can definitely appreciate that Pagans shouldn’t have to look normal. There’s room for both the staid and the fringe within Paganism.

  2. Oh, I think that veiling during worship was in fact quite common. Certainly it was in the Classical world: http://krasskova.weebly.com/blog/pagan-blog-project-v-is-for-veiling-1. Less evidence for other cultures, of course, but I seem to recall Caesar describing the Druidesses running among the Gaulish troops with torches and unbound hair, which rather suggests they had their hair covered (or at least bound up with filets) normally.

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