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Warrior Pagans


Warrior Pagans

Many Pagans serve in the Armed Forces around the world.

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Question: Warrior Pagans

A reader says, "I attended a Pagan festival not too long ago, and I was shocked by how many people there consider themselves "warriors." I even met a bunch of men (and a woman) who are in the military - one of them had just come back from the Middle East, and another was getting ready to go over there. I was really uncomfortable around this group - how can any self-respecting Pagan have the "warrior mentality" when we're all supposed to be peace-loving people who do no harm to others?"


Well, I'm going to break this answer down into several pieces, and I'm going to try to do it as politely as possible.

First of all, you say "we're all supposed to be." One of the things that draws so many people to Pagan paths in the first place is that there is an opportunity for individual spiritual gnosis. There is no "supposed to be" in modern Paganism, because the sheer number of different belief systems doesn't allow for it. Yes, many people (primarily in Wiccan and NeoWiccan traditions) follow a rule of harming none. Yes, some people are staunch supporters of a peaceful lifestyle. But you can't paint all Pagans with the same brush, because the number of different paths is as vast as those who practice them.

However -- and this is a big however -- there are plenty of Pagans out there whose belief system is based upon the warrior soul, a code of honor. These are the people who understand that while peace is nice, it may not always be a reality. They are the ones who stand up and fight, even when what they're fighting for may be unpopular. Often, we find them in career fields which by their very nature put them in danger - military personnel, police officers, firefighters, etc.

The notion of Paganism being "peaceful and loving" is a relatively modern one. The ancient societies upon which many modern Pagans base their core beliefs were rarely peaceful ones -- a culture that refused to fight was doomed to extinction right from the beginning. Instead, if you look at the historical evidence, early Pagan cultures like the Romans, the Celts, the Nordic societies -- all of which are strongly represented in modern Paganism -- were all, to some degree, militaristic societies. Willingness to fight was not precluded by one's religious sensibilities.

Finally, on a personal note, I find it disappointing that someone might be "uncomfortable" being around a person who's in the armed forces. No matter what your feelings about war may be, these are men and women who risk their lives half a world away -- often leaving their families behind for months or years at a time -- because they believe in what they are fighting for. Warriors are the ones who fight on behalf of those who can't fight for themselves, and they do it for very little pay and without any demand for thanks. All of them have made a sacrifice, and they are worthy of, at the very least, our respect.

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