I have been going online and doing a lot of research trying to find positive stories of Pagans being accepted within the military…
Let’s just say that this venture returned very little results.
On my Facebook Page, I had someone leave me a comment saying that this person was able to actively practice and openly proclaim her faith while in the US Air Force! It wasn’t until she had revealed to me, that she was in the military during the late 80’s, early 90’s, that I became truly flabbergasted! Just finding this one story about acceptance was a great step forward; but to find out that this person was accepted in the 90’s makes this story very uplifting.
Then there is the reality that I could not find any of more stories like this. In an age where we now allow openly gay men and women serve in our military, we cannot find a single positive story about acceptance. This makes me wonder about the current state of Pagans in the military. Are there any anymore? Or, are things that bad for the Pagans within the Armed Forces?
There is a story!!
When I was in the military, I was an open in my spirituality and let my fellow brothers about my faith and belief in Paganism. Of course, I was met with trepidation at first, a funny look here and there, but I was more or less accepted at the word “go.” So, I was happy to have taken that first step out of the broom closet.
This does not necessarily mean that I didn’t have any negative comments made, or weird stares, during this time. There were a lot of times I was questioned about my faith, often times to try and poke holes in the “logic” of my faith. That casting spells make about as much sense as the babblings of a baby, or, that humans are not magickal and the devil is responsible for any workings that I have completed. Please note: I said, “Tried.”
This was often met with me explaining that the stories within the Bible can be just as unusual as the mythos and rituals of Pagans. We just see what we don’t understand as different, crazy, and bizarre. These actually had gotten one of my NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) to actually back off of the subject and only ask questions that he ACTUALLY was curious about! I still remember what he had said to on that day, “I guess if I can believe that a Saint flew over the battlefield, or any of the other miracles that occurred, I can see how you believe in what you do.” That was an amazing step forward!
In Iraq, my faith was placed into a little more question as I really had not practiced it a whole lot while in Garrison due to having a drunken roommate. (Long, destructive nights forced me to visualize my altar.) The day I had seen that there was a Pagan Meeting every week, I was elated! I had never realized that there were other Pagans in the military! That I was the only one who was breaking the “Harm None” rule within our community. There were at least two other Pagans on this Forward Operating Base (FOB)!! I couldn’t wait to go, and I was given permission to go almost immediately! In fact, my NCO had seen it on the wall of the chow hall and gave me that permission before I could even ask for it!
Going to those meeting had made my time in Iraq much easier. I had met a few Pagans I still speak with today almost ten years later! The memories that I have from that Medic Tent will always be looked upon fondly, which there are not that many during the time I was in Iraq. I could go on about this all day long, but if you would like more information about this wonderful group, click here!
All in all, my experience was wonderful, and I would be remiss if I hadn’t even mentioned the great story of 2007! The battle had been won to place the Pentacle onto military headstones! Wonderful Pagans from all over the US worked together to make the VA finally recognize that the Pagan’s of the Military deserve to have their headstones properly marked! Here is a link to this story so you can learn more about it!
When we fast forward to more recent years, it seems that the level of acceptance that I had enjoyed was rare. People are still missing out on promotions, meeting areas get vandalism, and worse just because they are Pagan. I feel that the Goddess decided to put me in a place to see what the world in the US Military would be like if we could gain acceptance in it. That I should help out others in a negative situation because I was blessed with such a positive one.
This is why I have decided to promote Military Pagans on the website. This is what I am doing to try and give back to the community that I hold dear. This is my way of saying that the discrimination of our Military Pagans is WRONG! That no matter your views on Politics, Religion, or anything else gives you the right to put anyone down just for being different than yourself!