Twinkie Paganism

Twinkie Paganism is much like a Twinkie. Lightweight, tasty, non-threatening, and (nutritionally speaking) completely worthless. Just what is a Twinkie? Hard to say, but you know them when you meet them. From my own reading and research, I have discovered that there are ways to spot Twinkies. They are usually:
-Not in possession of anything even remotely resembling a sense of humor.
-Very unlikely to have read anything other than the most basic of primers on Wicca or Paganism (usually Cunningham and RavenWolf).
-Forever offering uninformed opinions on matters they have no knowledge of.
-Threatened by any theology that does not completely agree with theirs in matters of faith and/or practice.

I have also discovered that many Twinkies share the following attributes:
-The ability to dominate any conversation with tales of their own immense psychic powers.
-The conviction that they are under attack by some sort of psychic vampire or black coven.
-The ability to believe that they are completely non-judgmental while passing judgment on everything from theology to jewlery.
-A fanatical devotion to a particular author (usually Cunningham), and a complete disregard for any other authors or points of view.
-A tendency to complain constantly about the lack of activity in the community, combined with non-attendance at planning meetings.
-A conviction that if they believe in something, the entire Pagan community must believe it too. And if someone doesn't believe exactly the same thing, they're not Real Pagans(tm).
-The belief that everything happens for the best, coupled with the determination to share that belief with anyone who has recently suffered some sort of loss or difficulty.
-An extreme lack of common sense.

Twinkies drive me nuts. When you're having a heated discussion about a point with another Pagan/Wiccan/Magician, the person who walks up with a sappy smile and tells you "You really shouldn't argue. It's not good for your karma." is probably a Twinkie. The person who has to make everyone take seven deep breaths and blow out negativity before you can all go bowling is probably a Twinkie, too.

There are two distinct types of TwinkiePagans, I've found. One is the Permanent Twinkie - the person who, no matter how old they get or how long they spend in the larger Pagan community, retain their Twinkieness. The other type is the Transitory Twinkie - the person who is going through a stage in their spiritual development that causes them to act like a complete twit. Er, Twinkie. Same difference. Both are annoying, but the Transitory Twinkies less so. Given a few months, a few more advanced or less "white-light" texts, and some exposure to the amazing variety of belief systems and practices in the community, they leave Twinkiehood behind and become people you can have a conversation with. The Permanent Twinkies, no matter how many books they read, festivals they attend, or differing belief systems they run in to, stubbornly cling to Twinkiehood with a tenacity that would be admirable if it weren't so annoying.

So.....you're at a gathering, party, or festival, and you suddenly realize that the person you're talking to is a Twinkie. What to do? First, attempt to ascertain whether this person is a Transitory or Permanent Twinkie. If the person is new to Paganism, has read three books on the subject (usually Cunningham, RavenWolf, and maybe Cabot), Is dripping with pentagrams, and talking loudly about how they're the reincarnation of someone who was burned as a witch in Salem, odds are they're probably a Transitory. Suggest some additional reading material. You might even lend them a book or two. If you like them, despite their Twinkie tendencies, give them your phone number or invite them to a ritual. Try to help them get past this initial stage - as unpleasant as it is for the rest of us to deal with, Transitory Twinkies are very often lovely people who just need some socialization and friendly, intelligent conversation. If you can't stand to talk to them for another minute, and would rather have a root canal than continue the discussion, remember that the actions I've suggested are in no way compulsory - you always have the option to suddenly remember you have a pressing appointment with your doctor/dentist/priestess/etc. Permanent Twinkies are easy to spot. If they've been involved in The Pagan/Wiccan/occult community for over five years and still act like a Twinkie, they're Permanents. I have no idea what makes a person permanently stuck in this stage.....it could be an inborn trait. How to deal with them? Well.....my suggestion is to be careful of what you say to them (they take everything very seriously) and slither away at the earliest possible opportunity. Of course, if you're the masochistic type, you can always engage them in a discussion about magickal ethics and see what happens. Personally, I duck out of conversations with Permanent Twinkies at record speed, and have been known to actually hide in a bathroom until the person in question has left or is engaged in another discussion.

There seem to be more Twinkies than there used to be. It could be that I'm just getting crankier and less tolerant of other people's faults as I get older (a distinct possibility), but I really think that there are more Twinkies out there. I'm not really sure why. I'm sure part of it has to do with the increased availability of books and other material on Paganism and Wicca - a seeker does not have to work very hard to discover alternative religions. Unfortunately, the material that is carried in a Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Amazon.com may not be of the highest quality, and contain more "newage" (rhymes with "sewage") philosophy than Pagan. I also blame that stupid movie "The Craft" for alerting young adults that they can look funny, intimidate their classmates, and annoy their parents with a brand-new religious fervor. Whatever. The fact of the matter is, it's no fun to deal with Twinkies and (I'd imagine) even less fun to be one. Try to prevent Twinkieness in your local community by vigilance and intervention. The Pagan community will thank you for it. -

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