Making Fauna Pagans

Version 1.3

Copyright © 2005 c.e., Isaac Bonewits

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 Barbie™ dolls

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 me!" Sigh.

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 like this:


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 softcore Satanism, only without the Christian Anti-God. He was so shallow, he made the mainstream Satanists look deep. He was, in short, a Dark Fluffy!!

Inspiration hit me like bananna-cream pie in the face, so I was forced to add a new animal to the Pagan Menagerie:

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 shop.

Copyright © 2005 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. A shorter version of this was originally published by The Pagan Fluffy Rehabilitation Center at, then posted at This text file may be freely distributed on the Net, provided that no editing is done, the version number is retained, and everything in this notice box is included. If you would like to be on one or more of Isaac Bonewits’ emailing lists, click here to get subscription information.

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