In Praise of Bunnies
It’s nearly Easter, which is the holiday when Christians the world over do something or another with a rabbit that I don’t really understand. Hats, too, are involved, yes? Anyway. I get Friday off and mom gives me candy. Can’t hate on the chocolate bunny.
And there’s another kind of bunny I’m kind of tired of hating on. The fluffy bunny.
If you’re unaware, a fluffy bunny is a derogatory term for people who are not serious about their paganism. These are people into it for the fashion, the festivals, the social disapproval, the edginess.
The fluffy bunny is a silly figure. He has gods from several pantheons on his altar. He mixes and matches traditions. He’s more interested in magic than faith. He’s . . .
. . . a typical pagan of the first century CE, actually. He might worship Isis along with Zeus, mix Hebrew godnames into his prayers, and sometimes just make some stuff up because it sounds good. All of that is just sort of part of the daily life of a pagan in late antiquity.
So can we stop hating on the poor bunny? In some ways, the fluffy bunny has a greater claim to historical accuracy — of a sort — than the strict reconstructionist.
And the bunny has a point. The reconstructionist (and I’m not hating on them either, even though they sometimes hate on me) tries to drag into a postmodern era a religious tradition built on a culture that no longer exists. Attempts to reconcile Hellenistic calendars illustrate the difficulty of doing this, and the whole concept of the Religio Romana as the Romans practiced it requires a state religion of a state that no longer exists (and the Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest, is named Francis and just got a new hat!).
I’m convinced that if we’re going to return to the worship of these gods, we need to do it in a way that recognizes the situation we’re in: a global culture of diverse subcultures, a fluid sense of identity, and more diversity of thought, not to mention tolerance, than ever in the history of the world.
There’s a lot to be said for the study of our ancestors and the historical methods and aims of paganism, but at the same time we are alive and building a living tradition. Just as chopsticks are part of my place settings as often as forks are, so I must recognize that neither my culture nor my religion is monolithic.
Of course there are fluffy bunnies who really are quite ridiculous, basing their faith off of TV shows or whatnot. Most of them are kids. Kids will from time to time be a little silly; that’s the only upside that I recall of being a kid. So why blame them? They’ll grow out of it into respectable adult pagans, or they will grow out of paganism entirely and become atheists or Buddhists or Christians or something. Or they won’t grow out of it and they’ll grow up into eccentric adults. No matter what, it’s no skin off my wiggly little nose.