A few observances on wannabes, and my evolving response to them via a recent occurance.
About a month ago, I ran into an individual who I've had sporadic contact with over the last few years; this person identifies himself as a pagan, who's chosen to conveniently attach his practice of polygamy onto the term "pagan," despite all of the evidence to the contrary in the records of traditional pagan societies. But I digress, and I'll do so a little further in order to provide some needed background: when I first met this person, he was working at a hardware store; he noted some of my "trappings" (my Thor's Hammer and my Valknut) hanging around my neck and immediately informed me that he too was a "pagan." I initiated some casual conversation with him, and from the way that he spoke, I was able to discern that he really knew very little beyond some wide generalizations that have made it into some of the more popular books on neopaganism written at the sixth grade reading level. At this point, I offered to supply him with a list of texts & websites containing more accurate information in the hopes that he'd be the sort to actually put some work into developing himself; he (like so many others before him) informed me that he didn't have the funds to purchase the books or the time to read the sites. I politely blew the guy off, and moved on with my life. Months later, I discovered that he was "good friends" with the girl that I was dating at the time, and from that point on, I had sporadic contact with him, observing his poor work ethic and his almost complete lack of respect for others, and saw to it that my then-girlfriend and I afforded him as little of our time as possible, for it's been my experience that people who act in the manner I described usually reveal themselves to be a form of hominid parasite (no biggie, the world's full of them, and the more often you keep this type at arm's length, the better your quality of life remains.) After I parted ways with the girlfriend last year, I enountered this individual on a few occasions, and each time, he reinforced my opinion of him quite keenly, now including neato tales of his occult-oriented friends and their antics. Roughly two years had passed since I'd initially encountered this individual, and he'd apparently made little or no growth as a person or in real information regarding pagan beliefs & practices, despite the fact that he'd actually managed to gain a "teacher" for a while, who, during a discussion with me at one point had described this young "pagan" as a loser with no personal discipline or common sense. I know, a lot of background, but it figures in.
Moving forward to a month ago: I was heading into the local branch of an electronics store with a mind to replace a dead printer when I encountered this person (along with a lovely companion) exiting the store. He stopped me, apparently thrilled, and recounted the events of the day up to that point, which included various events, one after another which were clearly omens of an Odinic nature. Believing that perhaps this incident might be the thing to prompt this young man to pull his head out of his anus and actually become what he spoke about in terms of a high school clique up until now, I exchanged Email addresses and offered to send him a suggested reading list, which he seemed receptive to this time; I told him that if he'd read some of the books, that I'd be more than willing to engage in further dialog with him. I fired off an initial Email to him just to get the ball rolling and show that I wasn't interested in making an empty gesture to him in the exchange of Email addresses, although I didn't send the suggested reading list along, as I wanted to see if there was actually any true motivation present on his part. After almost a week, I saw him at a club and asked him why he'd not responded to my Email, and he assured me that he would do so that night (he didn't.) Two weeks after that, at the same club, he said that he'd discovered that my Email to him had somehow ended up in his "bulk mail" folder and would shoot me an Email (he didn't.) Further, he stated that he would "always walk a "Druidic path", although he'd be interested to learn about other religions." At this point, I concluded that it was business as usual, and that this person's status as a wannabe was very secure. No problem, the most time that I invested in him was in listening to his story initially, and sending him an Email, which took less than five minutes of my time to compose. My time spent giving him another "chance" was minimal. And hey, I got to meet the lovely woman who was with him.
Now to the point of this entry: for YEARS, I spent time trying to help people get the best information out there, including clueing them into the reality behind quite a bit of bullshit floating around wearing the mask of "fact". I'd spend time & energy on these people, sometimes befriending them, only to have them turn right around and take the easy way out with the next shiny thing in the form of the newest Llewellyn book that caught their eye (wasting hours and hours of my time in the process), attempt to somehow use their association with me to boost their "status" among other neopagans, leech resources off of me, or outright steal from me. In all of this effort, my motivation wasn't for some sort of "payoff" or prestige, my motivation was to plant some good seeds for the future (in minds, not wombs), so to speak. After years of dealing with a consistent pattern of bullshit where these wannabes were concerned (and getting more and more pissed off in the process), I'd decided to hold back on offering my counsel to local "heathens" and "pagans" due to the almost consistently predictable outcome that I'd come to loathe so well, opting instead to set up a suggested reading list on my website; in doing this, I made a potential contribution that didn't result in me wasting time & energy on the unworthy and then getting frustrated in the process. I also set up an E-List which I run to this day, although there's very little activity on it, save for occasional verbal bowel movements from morons (and my responses to them), and some insightful posts from a consistent few listmembers who have shown through their words that they're actually been doing work on their own in the real world. After years of little contact regarding my online suggested reading list, I was a bit more receptive to sharing some counsel in the real world after a few instances that bore some good fruit. At a club last year, a group of young "heathens" recognized my trappings and asked me to bring them reading lists the next week. The next week arrived, and so did I, with a stack of reading lists; not one of the people who'd requested the list was there, and I was informed by one of their friends that they'd opted instead to drive out to the hills that night and get drunk. I was annoyed, but I didn't hit the roof as I once would have, and headed inside the club for a drink, at which point, a "heathen" who I'd spoken to on several occasions approached me and chatted me up about various subjects, then began asking various questions about fundamentals of Germanic occult practices both ancient and modern, and asking for my contact details in order to learn more. In the back of my mind, I was growing annoyed that I was once again being pumped for information that could be found in the books that I'd normally put on a reading list, and as this annoyance blossomed, an idea formed: with a serene look on my face, I produced one of the reading lists that I'd bought and handed it to the gentleman, telling him that a great many of the answers that he was looking for could be found in these books, if only he was to acquire them and read them. I was met with excuses that he couldn't afford books (as he downed an alcoholic drink costing about a third of the price of several of the books on the list), and instead of getting pissed off at his excuses, I maintained my calm and told him that if any of what we were discussing really meant something to him, he would make the sacrifices in his life to gain these resources and learn from them. I ended the conversation by telling him to contact me via the Email address on the reading list when he'd finished reading the books listed on it, shook his hand, then moved off into another part of the club. The guy has never contacted me. Am I pissed off? No way. Out of this experience, I gleaned some core ideas to work with when dealing with those who claim to want my insight, and in my opinion, it's a far better method: Give them a little help which costs little of my time & energy, and if they actually do something with it, there's an indication that they just may be worthwhile in investing more time in; those who can't do the slightest amount for themselves on their own exclude themselves by their own devices, and rarely if ever get close enough to genuinely piss me off. Notably, this reflects a philosophy regarding "economy of movement" that I'd learned in my martial studies years ago, and yet have only truly begun to apply to my interaction with others with any degree of efficiency or equilibrium...nevertheless, I am content in the fact that I can finally see the torchfire of this concept beyond its physical applications: expend the amount of energy that a given situation dictates, letting proper awareness of circumstances inform you what is and what is not warranted.
My point? How much you let the wannabes get you down is ultimately up to you. If you close yourself off from the world completely, then you potentially deprive yourself of the genuine people who might occasionally happen into your life. If you let everyone in who can speak about things with enthusiasm for thirty minutes, then you never really know who's the genuine article, now do you? Spend a measure of your time to implement some awareness, and some cunning to help determine who's really worth your time (and develop some backbone if you're hypersensitive about potentially hurting a wannabe's feelings) and then adjust accordingly with each person who you may meet. You might find that you're wasting less time on wannabes, and have more time to spend on yourself and upon the few people you've managed to find that are actually worthy of your time & energy.
Nil illegitimus carborundum!
Sig und Freiheit!