Pagan Standard Time

I’ve been contemplating a post on PST for some time. The problem isn’t that it’s hard to address, it’s that it has been so thoroughly addressed elsewhere that I wasn’t sure what else I had to say about it.

But I decided I needed to go on record anyway.

The first essay I read blasting Pagan Standard Time was one of the shortest, yet still stands firmly on its own. It was written by a guy that called himself Obsidian many years ago:

The woefully pretentious strike again. This time, though, they show up and strike whenever they feel like it. See, I’ve been to a couple of pagan festivals here, and aside from the people I associate with now, most pagans I know aren’t very good at keeping time. One of them playfully joked that their watch was set to Pagan Standard Time, and one must thence excuse them from their deadlines written in Eastern time. And this pisses me off, see, because I do my damnedest to make sure I’m on time. But, just like meetings at work, pagan meetings never seem to commence as scheduled, because you know that some key member’s going to be at least a half hour late. Pitiful.

This, like most problems in the Wiccan World, reduce to one thing: self-importance issues. “I think I’m important enough to where it won’t matter if I’m late,” says the self-important snob. “They’ll wait for me, because they have to.” This is why your manager sets meetings for 10:00 and shows up himself at 10:18.

Okay, Obsidian had some issues with Wicca. But he starts of with a valid criticism: one of self-importance. When you run late for a ritual, and just don’t care, you assume that you are important enough that everyone will wait for you. This assumption leads to several others:

  1. No one else is on a time crunch, and has someplace else to be after the ritual.
  2. That everyone knows you’re coming and will wait for you.
  3. Further, that someone knows who else is coming, so that you won’t wait for people who aren’t showing because they might be running late.
  4. That if you show up and they’ve already started, you can be accommodated and included somehow.

That’s a lot of assuming.

I’m not sure that I whole-heartedly accept Obsidian’s premise that that showing up late is a power play, but he is correct that such behavior is usually associated with dominance. Unless the person showing up late has a vital role in the operation of the ritual or event, I am more likely to believe that they are simply inconsiderate.

And that inconsiderateness is a major player for PST. It does seem that many people regard group rituals as social gatherings rather than actual magical or devotional events. And that ruins things for the people who take these events more seriously.

I’m also inclined to think that some of the anti-authority thinking in the newage and neopagan movements accounts for PST. If you don’t think that any one person should be in charge or call the shots, then why should you respect arbitrary declarations of time? After all, doesn’t the whole concept of time enslave us? Isn’t it just an artificial social construct that maintains anxiety and keeps us beholden to someone else’s determination of when things should happen?

Or maybe I’m just biased.

And the real thing about PST that bothers me is the underlying assumption that pagans are not able to tell time. That we are unable to be prepared or organized. That somehow, by nature of being pagan, we cannot have things ready to go or be on time or get started when we say we will. I do not like the fact that by claiming your religion as an excuse, you are projecting your negative traits on your coreligionists as well.

Obsidian offers a few suggestions to curbing Pagan Standard Time:

  1. Foremost: IF YOU SCHEDULE YOUR RITUAL FOR 6:00 PM, START AT 6:00 PM! Don’t wait till 6:15 for the douchebag who decided to take his own damn time. Make him feel sorry for putting you all up by making do without him. Remember: NO ONE IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH to be excluded from a deadline everyone else has to meet. If the Gods come when invited at a specific time, then damnit, anyone and everyone else should be able to as well. If not, then the issue is something that has to be addressed by oneself and not in front of everyone else when there’s more pressing matters at hand.

  2. DON’T LET SLACKERS SLIDE. If you’re going to allow people to piss off and show up whenever, then you’re going to spend at least an half hour in neutral getting nothing done because you’re waiting for some stupid, lazy boob to show up so you can begin the grounding session (because a partially grounded circle might as well not be grounded at all), then they’re going to piss off and show up whenever. Furthermore, the later you allow people to show up before starting on without them, then the later they will show up before starting on without them.

  3. DON’T BE LATE YOURSELF. If you do, then you’re really not setting a good example if you decide to harp on other people for being late. See, if I were usually tardy, then I’d be a complete kettle trying to tell you to show up on time. However, I’m almost always punctual, and when I’m not I make damned sure the party I intend to meet (be it work, a gathering, a band practice or anything else) knows that I will be tardy and how late I will be. Why? Because I’m a responsible person and I know that I, just like anyone else, am not important enough to where a Sabbat gathering or a staff meeting or a battle of the bands will hold up just for me. And if it does, then those people seriously need to reevaluate who I am…

Really, it comes down to consideration. If you agree to start ritual at a certain time, then be ready to start at that time. Because everyone else has agreed to that as well. And because using your religion as an excuse to be inconsiderate to other people makes you an asshole.

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