“Good manners have much to do with emotions. To make them ring true, one must Jul them, not merely exhibit them.”
– Amy Vanderbilt
“DO this, DON’T do that:” Throughout the neo-Pagan community, there are some basic ethical guidelines that you can follow to make yourself and others feel more welcome and comfortable. While we are living in times when common courtesy seems to have gone by the wayside, these little things mean a lot, especially to responsible spiritual seekers.
Anyone coming into a Neo-Pagan practice usually has no idea that certain things are very touchy. That’s normal. In this case, forewarned is forearmed. Learn a bit about customs and be ahead of the game.
Respecting Others Magical Tools
Don’t randomly tinker with other people’s magickal tools. The rule of “ask first” is always best. Doing otherwise is kind of like randomly opening people’s drawers on your first visit to their home. It’s a breach of privacy and may inadvertently affect the energies associated with that item.
Respecting the Magical Community Fire and Gathering Rules
Adhere to the rules the community be careful when participating in a community fire event. Poking and prodding the wood often results in sparks that can set things aflame, or burn exposed skin. Likewise, don’t toss garbage or even herbs into the fire without checking with a designated fire tender. The chemicals in some garbage can be volatile, and the herbs can cause allergic reactions for some participants.
Keep Chatter away from Sacred Space.
In spots where people gather to dance, sing, and sometimes observe entertainers, giggles, and whispers can really distract. Take private conversations elsewhere. Also, if you have restless children who are playing nearby and making noise, it’s nice to move them too if practicable.
Pagan Etiquette Minding Your Children
No matter the age, make sure your children have proper supervision. In any group or gathering, not everyone can be trusted to be wise or to know your child’s habits and needs.
Pagan Etiquette For Shaking Hands and ‘Friendly’ Hugs
In our interactions with each other, another issue that comes up regularly is whether to hug or shake hands upon introduction. We often assume everyone hugs, and that’s simply not the case. Some people have suffered abuses in our community along with those who have taboos against couching anyone but family members. There are also those who simply aren’t “touchy-feely” people, who find hugging uncomfortable. Since not all of these folks have a “no hug” button, it’s good to ask preferences. Extend your hand first (as should they) and take your cues from that.
Pagan Etiquette on Taking Photographs
Do not take pictures of someone in any setting without express permission (or worse post them on social networks). There are a lot of people who, because of jobs or family, cannot have their pictures from festivals or circles just floating around. Then, too, some people just dislike having their photos taken. So much is this the case that many festival coordinators have all cameras registered and anyone taking snapshots without permission will have the film, camera, or both confiscated.
There are certainly more points you will learn along the way and may even want to add to Your Book of Shadows as a reference you can share.
Pagan Etiquette and Sensitive Views of Sexuality
Neo-Pagan sexuality and sexual expression have far more freedom than it does in mainstream life. This causes any number of issues outside of a group or festival context. Children may speak of what they see to teachers or friends, and then suddenly all manner of trouble erupts. This is especially true at clothing-optional events.
Pagan acceptance does not equate to an invitation for a free-for-all. Sexual responsibility is a very important topic regularly discussed in our community. Be honest, be polite, ask questions where you feel the need, and remember that perfect love and perfect trust does not equal sex. In fact, it means honoring our physicality (in all its diversity) in ways that are respectful and free of assumptions. The more we release each other from unrealistic or worldly expectations, the more we will see each other as Sacred Beings. If we allow all our actions, interactions, and reactions to flow from that starting point, and apply some common sense, we’ll be doing well indeed.
Adapted from a “Witch’s Book of Wisdom.” by Patricia Telesco. All rights reserved.