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Author Topic: Titles and Labels  (Read 3670 times)

Agonistes

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Titles and Labels
« on: March 11, 2012, 03:49:17 pm »
I've been around here for awhile, usually skulking around and reading--never really commenting. I usually don't even log-in to my account, much less type anything on this forum. But, I have come across an interesting issue among several people of pagan faiths. This has probably been discussed before, but I thought I would bring it up on an account that, perhaps, nobody has ever read.

Of titles, specifically the titles one holds in pagan belief systems. So many titles and labels we put on ourselves: Eclectic, Hellenic, Wiccan, Witch, Thelema, etc... Yet, when one chooses to "place" themselves in a category, can they do so? A lot of people I meet seem to be "searching" for their path still, even from years and years of being pagan. Only many of them meet so much opposition when they feel to follow a path, not saying they go around telling everyone, "Hey I'm Wiccan now!", but in a sense that other people they choose to seek knowledge from put them down, because they are wanting to assume a label.

This may sound confusing, as indeed it's a conundrum I've face for awhile. Here's my example, from my life:
I started interested in being Wiccan, because they were the books most available to me at the time. I currently live in a small town filled with college kids (and I am one of them), among them, mostly Christians (Texas). So, I attempted to find a coven to no avail, no surprise here. I, then, became interested in this denomination of "solitary" and "neo" Wicca. Only to meet with certain opposition from, of course, most people on the internet and the pagan group on my school's campus, of which most are highly eclectic or Asatru. So, I decided not to even mention my path anymore, and to work merely under the title of, "a pagan whose interests include that of witchcraft and occult history." Which fit me dandy for awhile, only to--once again--come into conflict with many people over the fact that "being eclectic," somehow hurts them and there is a "problem" with my spiritual path, since I am not under a label, therefore my spirituality doesn't exist and is being practiced incorrectly.

So, my question, what does the forum think of labels and titles? People assuming a title that you, perhaps, have worked hard to obtain and people coming out of the blue and wanting to assume that title with little work and/or effort. Or those who seek a path, but are met with opposition from the people you believed would help you.

This could pose more of a rant on my end, I respect those who differ in my beliefs, but I don't believe I should be put down, for I am human and therefore a learning individual.

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 04:10:04 pm »
Quote from: Agonistes;45551


 
I think "label" is a word for "adjective or descriptive noun".  Some people appear to think that it's derogatory.

I would like to see those people try to have a conversation without adjectives and nouns.
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Owl

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 04:21:30 pm »
Quote from: Agonistes;45551
I've been around here for awhile, usually skulking around and reading--never really commenting. I usually don't even log-in to my account, much less type anything on this forum. But, I have come across an interesting issue among several people of pagan faiths. This has probably been discussed before, but I thought I would bring it up on an account that, perhaps, nobody has ever read.

Of titles, specifically the titles one holds in pagan belief systems. So many titles and labels we put on ourselves: Eclectic, Hellenic, Wiccan, Witch, Thelema, etc... Yet, when one chooses to "place" themselves in a category, can they do so? A lot of people I meet seem to be "searching" for their path still, even from years and years of being pagan. Only many of them meet so much opposition when they feel to follow a path, not saying they go around telling everyone, "Hey I'm Wiccan now!", but in a sense that other people they choose to seek knowledge from put them down, because they are wanting to assume a label.

This may sound confusing, as indeed it's a conundrum I've face for awhile. Here's my example, from my life:
I started interested in being Wiccan, because they were the books most available to me at the time. I currently live in a small town filled with college kids (and I am one of them), among them, mostly Christians (Texas). So, I attempted to find a coven to no avail, no surprise here. I, then, became interested in this denomination of "solitary" and "neo" Wicca. Only to meet with certain opposition from, of course, most people on the internet and the pagan group on my school's campus, of which most are highly eclectic or Asatru. So, I decided not to even mention my path anymore, and to work merely under the title of, "a pagan whose interests include that of witchcraft and occult history." Which fit me dandy for awhile, only to--once again--come into conflict with many people over the fact that "being eclectic," somehow hurts them and there is a "problem" with my spiritual path, since I am not under a label, therefore my spirituality doesn't exist and is being practiced incorrectly.

So, my question, what does the forum think of labels and titles? People assuming a title that you, perhaps, have worked hard to obtain and people coming out of the blue and wanting to assume that title with little work and/or effort. Or those who seek a path, but are met with opposition from the people you believed would help you.

This could pose more of a rant on my end, I respect those who differ in my beliefs, but I don't believe I should be put down, for I am human and therefore a learning individual.

 
Why, is you being eclectic and solitary, a issue for them?  Pagan is really a self-identifier.  Because only you know what you believe in.  And just because you are not in their group does not mean they have any right to belittle what you believe.  

What do I think of labels and titles?  I think they are for putting people in boxes, for stereotyping.  And if you choose to think outside the boxes they recognize, then they are threatened.  They are threatened because if your box exists, how many others do that they have not considered?  What if there are no boxes and they have been fooling themselves?  OMG, they might have to think for themselves and not blindly follow the path another has laid out for them.  In other words, labels and titles are for the small minded and those who cannot think outside the box.  

Why yes, I have been called bitch in RL.  :dwink:
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

MadZealot

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012, 04:33:31 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;45553
I think "label" is a word for "adjective or descriptive noun".  Some people appear to think that it's derogatory.

I would like to see those people try to have a conversation without adjectives and nouns.

Yup.  Labels are necessary.  They are how people of a common interest can commonly identify each other.
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Maps

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2012, 04:54:40 pm »
Quote from: Owl;45554
Why, is you being eclectic and solitary, a issue for them?  Pagan is really a self-identifier.  Because only you know what you believe in.  And just because you are not in their group does not mean they have any right to belittle what you believe.  

What do I think of labels and titles?  I think they are for putting people in boxes, for stereotyping.  And if you choose to think outside the boxes they recognize, then they are threatened.  They are threatened because if your box exists, how many others do that they have not considered?  What if there are no boxes and they have been fooling themselves?  OMG, they might have to think for themselves and not blindly follow the path another has laid out for them.  In other words, labels and titles are for the small minded and those who cannot think outside the box.  

Why yes, I have been called bitch in RL.  :dwink:

Unfortunately, this falls apart with, and even flies in the face of, cultures that are heavily intertwined with a specific religious tradition.

THAT SAID, labels are as useful as you make them. If you can't figure out what to do with them, then that's cool, but don't bash the people whom have been helped and guided by them. I mean, imagine what rummaging through a library, or doing a google search would be like without labels. It'd be useless, is what it'd be. :P
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 04:55:03 pm by Maps »

RandallS

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 06:27:20 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;45553
I think "label" is a word for "adjective or descriptive noun".  Some people appear to think that it's derogatory.

I would like to see those people try to have a conversation without adjectives and nouns.

Exactly. I'm a Hellenic Pagan -- that label tells people something about me so its a useful shorthand. I don't see a problem with this myself. I understand some people do see problems with it, but it sure makes discussion easier.
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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 08:08:01 am »
Quote from: Agonistes;45551

So, my question, what does the forum think of labels and titles?

 
I think there are two main problems in labels.  Firstly, there is a lot of discussion on what different tittles mean.  I have seen a lot of arguments pop up over who has the 'right' to call themselves Wiccan.  It is further muddled by people who read about a group, and like a few things and decide to go by that label even though (and they will even often admit) they only follow some of the beliefs and absolutely disregard other key beliefs.

The second problem happens when people try to define others by their label.  Even assuming that two people who use the same label apply all of the same core beliefs, there is often plenty of room for individualization.  Trying to sum up the entirety of your beliefs in a one or two word label is great for a snapshot concept of what you believe, but doesn't contain the whole of you.  

I think that labels and titles have uses, but they are starting points not the end.  They are useful when used properly, but can be easily abused.
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Celtag

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 11:02:20 am »
Quote from: RandallS;45560
Exactly. I'm a Hellenic Pagan -- that label tells people something about me so its a useful shorthand. I don't see a problem with this myself. I understand some people do see problems with it, but it sure makes discussion easier.
I have to agree with Randall on this one. I'm a Celtic Polytheist, and when people see that it automatically gives them a reference of where I am coming from.
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Valentine

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 03:34:38 pm »
Quote from: Agonistes;45551
(snip)

 
I get much twitchier about titles than labels.  Labels are just descriptors, but titles--like Reverend, or Priestess--sometimes hang me up because, as a seminarian going through a long drawn-out ordination process, I am working really hard for those kinds of titles.  I am earning the "Rev." in front of my name with effort and education and sacrifice and experience, being accountable to communities and to professional colleagues, and ultimately will be granted that title by others for meeting qualifications and standards that are supposed to ensure I will take good care of parishioners.

Meanwhile, my friends can go get certified by the Universal Life Church and it means absolutely nothing other than that they feel like having a professional title, and it means that much less respect for the work I am putting into it.  It's like when people claim to be doctors without going through a medical program.  There's no accountability, and anyone looking for help is that much less sure that my qualifications mean anything of use to them.  It's vexing.  Being clergy is a job in community--a difficult, demanding, meaningful job--not a costume.

Similarly, I often get twitchy, unfairly or no, at people who just declare themselves priests or priestesses, outside of the context of serving people with actual priestly work--it's just sort of a pretty word for some people.  I am finally starting to accept that the word applies to me, but only after doing the work long enough that people consistently call me a "priestess" in community no matter how much I protest.  I want the word to mean something.  I don't get to just declare myself a duchess or a police chief, either, without checking in with anyone.
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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 03:56:41 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;45631
I get much twitchier about titles than labels.


This.
And the other things you've said.
\'You had to repay, good or bad. There was more than one type of obligation.
That’s what people never really understood.….Things had to balance.
You couldn’t set out to be a good witch or a bad witch. It never worked out for long.
All you could try to be was a witch, as hard as you could.\'
Terry Pratchett \'Lords and Ladies\'

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Vale

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 05:01:23 pm »
Quote from: MadZealot;45555
Yup.  Labels are necessary.  They are how people of a common interest can commonly identify each other.


Assuming of course that we want to!   I do not seek validation of my beliefs and practices by anyone else and have no wish or need to meet anyone who may have the same beliefs as me.  

I personally find religious labels throughly unhelpful except in the broadest possible sense. The one I use on line ( when I have to)  is very generic. Says everything and nothing about me at the same time.

Owl

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2012, 06:27:07 pm »
Quote from: Vale;45636


I personally find religious labels throughly unhelpful except in the broadest possible sense. The one I use on line ( when I have to)  is very generic. Says everything and nothing about me at the same time.

 See, I am in the same boat.  Hence my dislike of labels and titles both.  And not just in religion.  My 'career' is in accounting.  People assume because I am an accountant that I am conservative in all facets of my life.  I made this career/college choice in my 30's when I already had children and could see my marriage starting a long slow fall apart.  It's something I'm good at that supported my children until they left my (single parent) home.  BUT, it does not define me in every way.  And really, it bores the hell out of me except for taxes which are somewhat entertaining.

So, when people ask what I do, and I tell them, they make all kinds of assumptions about me that are wrong and then are upset because I don't fit their assumptions.  And what the original poster said rang a bell with me.  So I don't like either labels or titles.
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Vale

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2012, 06:47:16 pm »
Quote from: Owl;45649


 they make all kinds of assumptions about me that are wrong and then are upset because I don't fit their assumptions.  


Exactly.  There is also the assumption that we all mean the same thing when we use words. It can be much more subtle than that. My use and understanding of words are coloured by my upbringing, nationality  and  personal experiences as is everyone elses. All of which are different.

nbdy

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2012, 06:52:40 pm »
Quote from: Owl;45554
OMG, they might have to think for themselves and not blindly follow the path another has laid out for them.  In other words, labels and titles are for the small minded and those who cannot think outside the box.  

Why yes, I have been called bitch in RL.  :dwink:

 
You may be my kind of bitch, though.

nbdy

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Re: Titles and Labels
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2012, 07:06:06 pm »
Quote from: Owl;45649

So, when people ask what I do, and I tell them, they make all kinds of assumptions about me that are wrong and then are upset because I don't fit their assumptions.  And what the original poster said rang a bell with me.  So I don't like either labels or titles.

 
I resonate -- except I have had the experience of them not even asking, just assuming that because they are a high-whatever-grand-poobah in some tradition or other that whatever they decide is right will be most appreciated by the uninitiated. So, as one example, a highly titled person who starts crunching up branches to burn in what I consider sacred woods, making no offering of even a whispered "Thank You" and ignoring me saying several times to not do that. Just one example. No respect. Not to mention that someone carrying such a title should have damned well FELT the place, and clueless that I was looking upon him as a rapist.

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