The loss of a label is a difficult thing. It is not just something we ascribe to ourselves, it is something which we use to identify ourselves with.
I have recently discarded the label ‘Pagan’. Amusingly this was just as I had been accepted as a Pagan Chaplain and I had just resigned as the General Secretary of the Pagan Federation – I am possibly the shortest lived General Secreatry, but the main reason I left was I no longer felt I could say I was a Pagan.
Now, considering oneself a Pagan is an interesting thing, I have met many, many people who use their label as a weapon- something to attack with. Others a flag of righteous anger to bludgeon with. I will admit to doing both at times in my life.
Even if one didn’t use it in this way there is no denying that saying you are a Pagan usually elicits a response of some kind, and it is definitely alternative, to say the least. As I am now in my 30s, my neck is playing up, there are wrinkles slowly apppearling and my hair is turning gray (and I am resisting dying it), I am feeling old and losing the Pagan label has made me feel like I am losing my edge. That I am no longer cool.
But lack of cool (imagined or otherwise) is not a reason to halt spiritual growth. But I have to say shedding this label (and I use the term deliberately as I feel like I am metamorphosing, although hopefully not into a beetle) has made me take stock of my life again, assess where I am and how I see myself. I still have my nose pierced and my tattoo (although unless we met at the swimming pool you wouldn’t see it), but no longer the purple/red hair, my hair is a chin length annoying bob, so not short and funky, nor long and able to do lots with it. ***edited to add, since I wrote this post last week I have cut off all my hair into the short, funky and spikey style I love *** I no longer hang out in cool places in London.
That is my choice, I don’t live in London any more and aside from going to the theatre and occasionally meeting friends for dinner I don’t want to go out like I used. It was exhausting! None the less, change is there.
But I think that our spirituality, like the rest of us, should change and develop as we change and develop, otherwise it becomes stagnant. Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to change what they consider their religion to be, but put it under close examination? Yes, our faith, our beliefs, everything. Even if they stay the same, our labels should be examined. Maybe they now need to tie on an old fashioned parcel label, maybe purple glitter, and maybe living without the label for a little while to see where we go.