It’s a term I ran into recently. ‘Glitterati Pagan’ – a term of resentment, devaluing and dismissal. – I’m not sure if it was being applied to me – laughable to imagine that anyone who has met me could consider my shabby, unshiny self to be some kind of glittering creature of the limelight… but then I struggle to think of any Pagans I know who could be called Glitterati. I also remember there were (and possibly still are) folks who though those volunteers in charge of the Pagan Federation were on a salary. So, you never know.
There are a fair few professional and semi professional Pagans out there – authors, teachers, healers, organisers, public speakers, celebrants, craft people. Anyone this involved does things that take time and skill and, in other contexts, you’d probably have to pay for. Everyone has to eat. Most Pagan things happen because volunteers put in their time and energy, but if that becomes a full time commitment, it becomes necessary to consider the balance. Either people do less for the community, or they ask for something back. Either choice should be acceptable.
As a case in point… Most Pagan events cannot afford to pay their speakers enough to cover transport and accommodation. Someone might be able to put you up and feed you, which is a great help. If you travel and pay for accommodation, and your costs aren’t covered, you rely on selling books to pick up the slack, perhaps. Authors get books at 50% of cover cost, usually. So on a £10 book, an author can make £5. If I’m on the train and far enough from home that I have to stay over, that’s going to cost me £100, easily. I need to sell 20 books (heavy to carry by myself). All I’ve done is break even. My time, effort going into research, developing a talk, delivering it and what I did to write the book – the odds are the Pagan in front of you makes little or no money for doing that. They could well be doing it at a loss and subsidising that loss through other paying work. Most professional Pagans do other things as well to pay the bills.
I know a lot of people who run things and have met many more. Moots, groves, covens, conferences, organisations, camps magazines… And they are tremendously hard working people. Even when they do get paid, it’s very little in consideration of the time and energy they put in. We don’t tend to pay a living wage to people doing the work in Paganism. Most will not pick up the minimum wage, but we ask them to be dedicated, capable, educated and inspired.
Every now and then someone gets all ‘great-I-am’ and ponces round (usually online) being self important. These are not the people (usually) who do the work. At any given event, at the back of any given organisation, the people who do the work are too busy running round doing the work to have much time for posturing and attention seeking. The hours and hours that go into crafting, writing, creating ceremony, have much the same effect. I don’t see much glamorous posturing at all. Perhaps I hang out with the wrong people.
But I also don’t know what I look like from the outside. I don’t know what anyone else sees when they look at the Pagan Federation, the Druid Network, the camp organisers, or anything else. I don’t always know what they assume, and what they imagine. I do know if they have ideas that are far removed from the truth, and filter what they see through those ideas, they won’t see what I see. They won’t see the stress and anxiety, the exhaustion, and all the other costs. But then, if you label the more visible Pagans as a bunch of attention seeking media whores, that changes your relationship to them. I’ll leave the implications dangling.