Many people in the Neopagan movements use an interesting
metaphor (or "clever" putdown) to describe people who
are newer to Wicca and Paganism than they are, or who seem to
have more sensitive ethical constraints on their magical (or
even mundane) behavior than their critics claim to have. These
critics call their targets, "Fluffy Bunny Pagans."
Sometimes the term used is "Bambi and Barbie-Goddess
Pagans," implying a sickeningly sweet attitude about life
in general and the Craft in particular. If someone's image of
the Horned God is Bambi and of the Goddess is Barbie,
others could reasonably assume that person is naive and shallow.
Of course, I know several Pagans who are proud owners of the
(very expensive) Sun Goddess Barbie and Moon Priestess
Inhabitants of the Buffyverse know the overly
enthusiastic, naive, and yet often dogmatic "newbie"
Wiccans as "Blessed Wanna-Bes" and seem to believe
that the character of Willow is a good example of what a Witch
is supposed to be--although I've never met a Wiccan or any other
kind of witch who could pull off the sorts of spells that Willow
did on a regular basis.
Oddly enough, and hard as this may be to believe,
all of the people who use such nasty terms were new to Paganism
themselves once upon a time (including 99% of those who claim
to have been raised a Witch or a Pagan, but who are over 30).
Of course, many Wiccans and other Pagans do get their knowledge
about their religious path from just one or two books published
by A Really Big Pagan Publisher, not knowing that these are often
heavily censored (so as to not freak the mundanes), watered down
(so as not to challenge the brains of readers too much), and/or
filled with obvious mistakes (so as to save money in the production
process). Certainly "one-book wonders" can be very
annoying to the "ten-book wonders" who think they
know all there is to know about Paganism.
And yet, as someone who's read hundreds of
books on Paganism and written a few of them, I have to admit
that I've met some really annoying Fluffy Bunny Pagans
myself--such as the ones who've just read a Wicca 101 book and
are now going around telling everyone they meet on line what
"real" Witchcraft is all about. Or the ones who've
read a couple of books that have (shallowly) discussed the ethics
of magic, so now they think doing magic for any other purpose
than feeling good about themselves is "Evil Black Magick!"
My son Arthur considers people "fluffy" if they are
willfully ignorant about what they say is their religion. Especially
irritating, he says, are those who claim to have had ancestors
"burned at the stake for Witchcraft in Salem." When
he points out to them that nobody was burned at Salem (they were
hung or crushed), they cry, "you're just trying to persecute
But Fluffy Bunnies are not the most annoying
critters in the Pagan woods--many others are just as bad or worse,
like the Stinking Badgers who sneer at the Fluffy Bunnies and
insist that "Only Pagans who are in touch with the Dark
Side (of the Force?) really know what's going on." Then
there are the Slippery Eels who have learned a reasonable amount
about Paganism and use their knowledge mostly to manipulate others
and to improve the lies that get them money, sex, and/or prestige.
The Bunnies, the Badgers, and other Pagan
Critters can best be understood by the use of value spectrums.
These are graphic ways of showing pairs of opposites without
slipping into dualism. Consider, for example, a common dualist
way of depicting the difference between Left and Right:
Dualistic thinking saturates Western culture
to such an extent that most westerners (especially Americans)
have trouble thinking of any complex topic without slipping into
Black/White, Evil/Good, Left/Right extremes. Unfortunately, reality
is seldom that neat and clear. So let's try looking at the Left-Right
distinction using a value spectrum instead:
Clearly the value spectrum gives us a more
accurate image of how real people might place themselves within
the Left-Right polarity, with the vast majority being some mixture
of the two extremes.
So let's try using value spectrums to help
us make some Pagan fauna (or vice versa). Imagine four of them,
measuring varying amounts of experience, honesty, trust, and
knowledge that a person might have, intersecting in four dimensions
Let's look at the various critters quickly:
- Fuzzy Sheep--blinking-eyed, open-mouthed,
newbies with no experience in Paganism at all.
- Furry Coyotes--winking-eyed, howling-mouthed,
tricksters who have seen (and done) it all.
- Sly Foxes--bright and clever folks who know
enough to be dangerous.
- Wise Owls--thoughtful and temperate ones
who value wisdom over knowledge.
- Golden Geckos--paragons of virtue, always
ready to tell others what to do and how to do it.
- Slippery Eels--folks who've learned a lot
of different ways to bamboozle others.
- Fluffy Bunnies--naive newcomers who think
sheer niceness is all they need to be Pagans.
- Stinking Badgers--cynical contrarians who
use their knowledge and experience as weapons.
- Tenacious Turtles--thick-shelled, steady
learners who just keep moving forward on their paths.
I have to admit to having a soft spot in my
heart for Fluffy Bunnies (they can be delicious under the right
circumstances). Where am I on this multidimensional map? I think
I started out halfway between being a Fuzzy Sheep and a Sly Fox,
way back when. My forty years of Pagan experience have taken
me from there, through Tenacious Turtlehood, towards the halfway
point between being a Wise Owl and a Furry Coyote.
While reading a well-known Pagan website in
mid-July of 2005, I ran across a clueless teen whose writing
at first seemed very similar to that of a classic Pagan Fluffy
Bunny. But as I read on, I slowly realized that I had discovered
a whole new subspecies!
This kid wasn't clueless and innocent, he
was clueless and Evil! He managed to crank out page after page
of pretentious drek about "Vampyres" and "Dark
Paganism" and "Other-Kin." Much of this read like
only without the Christian Anti-God. He was so shallow, he made
the mainstream Satanists look deep. He was, in short, a Dark
Inspiration hit me like bananna-cream pie
in the face, so I was forced to add a new animal to the Pagan
I should probably add another dimension for
another value scale (say "Pretension vs. Humility"?),
but I can't quite figure out how to do that in the chart. You'll
just have to use your imagination.
In any event, if we're going to use animal
metaphors for other Pagans, let's add a few new ones to the menagerie,
so we can be equal opportunity offenders--but remember, "We
don't need no stinkin' badgers!"
To get posters, coffee cups, mouse
pads, lunch boxes, tote bags, and t-shirts with this chart on
them, as well as buttons or magnets of the various Pagan Critters,
go to his Cafepress.com