So I have received an invite to a "Pagan Men's Weekend", hosted by a friend who owns some property in the north central part of the state.
I have to admit, I've always been a lil leery in my interactions with other pagans. Too many seem to feel that it's a religious obligation to be in lock-step with every plank and nail of the liberal platform. But I've known Wade for awhile, the womenfolk were expressly barred (and I'll admit, that's where a great deal of my problems stem from. More on that in a bit). And finally, Wade said the magic words: "there'll be... and shooting"
Shooting? With other pagans? I'm there!
Finding the location was fairly easy, for all that it's the middle of nowhere. The only real problem I had was the dirt road: I HATE riding a bike on anything but asphalt, and this was looser than pea gravel & about 3 inches deep. But I managed to stay upright, and arrived safe at site to be greeted by a group of 5 guys who looked normal.* Got off the bike, lit a cigar, and off we went for a quick tour of the grounds.
Imagine 160 acres of almost untouched woodland. There are a few faint paths through the property, with a couple clearings for rit and gatherings. No electric or sewer (the outhouse has a composting toilet, and there are plenty of trees to water), and WAY off the beaten path. If you enjoy nature, this place is paradise.
At a stop during the tour, discussion was had about "what makes a man?". This was a recurring theme throughout the weekend: what virtues and characteristics make a "man" (and there was a clear divide between the concept of "adult male" and "man"). Ideas were wide-ranging, and no consensus reached. But I like to think that everyone had something to say that made everyone think.
Returned to the main area for lunch, then break out the toys. Since I was on Eva, there were only so many things I could bring, but I encouraged everyone to try whatever I had along. And I will admit, I was afraid I would be doing a LOT more time as RO than actually shooting... was certainly not the case, as everyone seemed to have a fairly firm grasp of the 4 Rules. So fun was had by all.
More discussion insued after making things go bang, including discussions of problems in the pagan community and how we could address them. One thing I did NOT run into is the usual "you're not liberal, so you're automatically wrong!" issue that is normal in my dealings with other pagan groups. Granted, this was something of a select group, but it was still unexpected. At a guess, the complete lack of "womyn**" probably played a part in that.
One thing that became readily obvious in our discussions was a lack of "accepted manly virtues or characteristics". Many that have existed throughout history really don't have a readily apparent connotation in the modern world. That discussion is still somewhat ongoing, with an eye towards doing the Men's Weekend again next year. Possibly even creating some sort of "Rite of Passage", as that is sorely lacking in the modern world.
But all in all, was an experience I look forward to repeating.
* anyone who has dealt at all with the pagan community knows that WAY too many pagans range from "marching to a different drummer" to "where's the circus". This group was completely normal
** not trying to be misogynistic, but WAY too many pagan ladies have attitudes that set my teeth on edge. Which has resulted in my removing myself from more than one gathering.