We think that the Pagan, all hippie love-child neo-nature spiritualist, are above the snobbery of the mundane middle-of-the-road Christian mainstream society. Well, we're not. Pagans are just as human as the rest of the population, and we fall into all the same societal traps, we just don't like to admit it, and we tend to fall back on the peace, love, nature theme to justify ourselves (look at how spiritual I am, look at how in-tune with nature I am, look at how white is my magick, how pure my intentions, how saintly I am).
This is how it really is: Just because we practice witchcraft, just because we believe in magick, just because we worship the Goddess, does not mean we are perfect by any means, nor does it imply that we are necessarily even nice-- some of us aren't. Sorry, but this is reality. Pagans can be snobbish, elitist, bigoted, holier-than-thou, and just as irritating as any Southern Baptist, as any Catholic, as any Fundamentalist, as any anything.
There is always conflict in the Pagan community, among ourselves. Pagans are just as opinionated as the next person; and there are very definite views and contradictions, contentions and disputes. The disputes range from how to practice witchcraft; how to practice goddess worship, what about the god; how to practice magick, what's acceptable, what's dark, what's too dark, what's light, what's too light; pantheons-- you can't mix them, it's okay to mix them, a Greek goddess would be angry if her energy was mixed with a Nordic goddess and your magick won't work; you weren't initiated by another witch, or you weren't initiated in a coven, so you can't be a witch; you can only do spells on certain days aligned with certain energies or it won't work; you should cast spells in the heat of the moment; you should never cast spells in the heat of the moment; I'm a Very-Important-Witch because I was initiated by someone who was initiated by someone who was initiated by someone (however many times back) who was initiated by another Very-Important-Witch...and so it goes.
The goddess from one pantheon would be angry if her energy was mixed with the goddess from another pantheon-- who the hell knows that? What mortal can say this with finality? In truth, if magick works through energy and there are five goddesses out there, all from different pantheons, whose attributes all work for the same purpose, their energy aimed at the same outcome, why couldn't you work with all five of them for some kick ass enormously powerful energy? Truth is, you could, and you can. At the other end of the spectrum is the pagan who embraces and immerses themselves in the deities from one pantheon, who swears by and only works with the gods and goddesses from one culture, and this is okay too.
The truth is that paganism, or any spiritual path for that matter, can be practiced anyway that the practitioner chooses. You cannot police another person's spirituality. You cannot force people to believe, or to practice what you do, or how you do it.
There's been a segment of Pagans, around for some time now, who combine witchcraft and Christianity, and this has driven both hardcore Pagans and hardcore Christians nuts. "They can't do this!" both sides howl in indignation. Why not? Who says?...I mean who says, who says who really has any authority, whose opinion would really count? No one, nada. If a Christian Witch wants to cast a circle and use Christ for her god-form and Mary as the goddess, who's going to stop her? Whose going to be standing around policing her spiritual practices? The fact is that no one has the right to interfere in this case. This witch is what she is, she'll find her energy through the magickal means available to her, and I predict that the universe will work with her, blessing her endeavors.
There are also cliques. Really. You think this is a phenomena relegated to the halls of Junior High? Well, you would be wrong. Adults are just as guilty of being cliquish as teen-agers, and Pagans are no exception to this. Sometimes these cliques are disguised as covens, or as literary groups (who has the magickal stamp-of-approval from the powers that be and who does not), or social site groups, pagan internet societies, or any other such society by which people must be okayed and allowed in. I can understand this to a point, as in the case of a coven, where a very specific number of people are desired; but in a vast internet social site, or a Pagan Page, etc., it gets a little stickier, a little trickier.
A spiritual path is suppose to enlighten us, to inspire us, to help us live better lives, more productive lives. We find our inspiration where we do, by super-natural and miraculous means. It really is magickal, this business of finding one's path, working ones spells, solemnizing life with our little rituals. The most we can do is to try-- try to be better human beings; try to be kinder; try to be more open-minded; try to be understanding; try to love other people and treat them well; try to see the world and the universe in the big-picture scheme of things.
All we can do is try-- and some of us will succeed.