A Pagan Community at what cost?
Greetings folks, when one looks beneath the umbrella of pagan beliefs, there is a wide diversity of paths.
We come from all walks of life and experiences. And yet in spite of the many different approaches to Paganism, there is one underlying topic that is constantly being brought up. That topic is “community”.
As it is, we are humans first and Pagan second. And so there seems to be a strong interpersonal desire to be a part of a community.
But at what cost will it take to create a viable and thriving Pagan community?
We have many of the same problems and obstacles as the general population, except in microcosm. There is the class acceptance for instance. Wicca’s not wanting to recognize traditional Witches as a valid path. The infighting of the Asatru. Solitaires being snubbed by their peers for not engaging in the group psyche and for choosing their own levels of advancement as being valid to them. And so on and so forth.
We have the problems with uncontrolled egos. And since each enclave of what is seen as a Pagan community is generally very local to each group, these irritants become known rather quickly and the problems that undisciplined egos bring, are amplified. Oh how many times have I been involved in or an observer of a so called “Witch War”. And yet we constantly talk about community.
There is the very human problem of folks and groups wanting to be the “one”. Its as if so many individuals and/or groups want to re-invent the wheel.
Name recognition becomes more important then the personal satisfaction of participating in a Pagan community. A true Pagan community cannot consist of all leaders. In my personal opinion it should consist of folks who are not interested in labels and personal status. Rather it should consist of those folks who just want to associate with other folks of like mind. There is no place in a Pagan community for a strict dogma that requires all Pagans to think and to pursue their paths identically. This is not who we are.
Oftentimes someone will step up and offer an opinion and almost immediately there will be an opposing opinion offered. And don’t get me wrong, such a discussion of diverse ideas and thoughts is a healthy thing and certainly a welcome building block in any successful Pagan community.
But far too often we stray from an objective conversation and allow ourselves to fall prey to the name calling and flaming that is completely anathema to building a thriving community.
If we are ever to embark on the development of a Pagan community, then certain parameters need to be set out that are accepted by the majority of those who will be involved in such a gathering. I don’t for one second, profess to have all of the answers. Nor am I any more perfect then anyone else. We have all had our days when we wish we had held our tongue just a bit. Its part of being human and so we move on.
Some of the questions that I would raise follow the tenor of Pagan Community at what cost?
For instance, under what auspices should such a community be recognized as? Is there a deeper identity beyond just Pagan community? We need to keep in mind the diversity of what we are looking at here. Often times an attempt at community falls short because we fail to realize that not everyone wants to be considered one massive coven or blot or clan or what have you.
And so what could a viable Pagan community offer that would appeal to the majority?
What would entice folks to put aside their personal differences and enjoin in a social gathering based upon Pagan precepts?
Another question would be just how organized can a Pagan community become?
Someone once said that gathering pagans together is like herding a bunch of cats into the same area. And so is it even possible to envision a viable community?
I personally think that if we, in each of our locales can overcome the desire to be the “Organizers” if you will and instead simply work anonymously together, that a loose confederation is indeed possible. This would be akin to the times when small villages would converge upon a common area for purposes of trade and celebration. At the end of the day we all return to our respective paths and comfort zones with the knowledge that we participated in something greater then ourselves or our individual groups. Isn’t this one of the desired goals of being involved in a Pagan community?
Another question which follows along with the concept of organization, what actions if any would be in place in the event that a person or group from the Pagan populace is going against the accepted parameters in a Pagan community?
Does a viable Pagan community accept all who proclaim themselves as pagan? How far does community tolerance go? In the general populace when one commits an offensive action there are the options of a legal system, jails, fines and so forth.
What if any options would a working Pagan community have in such instances. Of course we can turn to the mechanisms of the general community in most instances since we as Pagans make up a proportion of that gathering. But there are extraordinary situations in a magickal community. How do we define and then enforce such acceptable behavior?
Part of this question is obvious of course, some would say that we probably want to conduct ourselves as we would in the greater community. However the greater community is loosening many of the standards and rules of conduct that led to establishment of community as we once knew it.
Do we as Pagans want to live to a higher standard? Isn’t this what spiritual growth is about and wasn’t it these ideals that brought us
into the folds of Paganism to begin with?
And so when we determine what standards we want to hold ourselves to, then such a community must decide if it is going to leave it to each member of the Pagan community to follow or will there be a judgment by the gathering at large in the event of any disruption of the accepted standards.
I realize of course that for on line groups its as easy as moderating or banning a member from such a group. But a true working Pagan community extends itself into the pagan populace
Where folks are face to face and not just anonymous typescripts from a computer.
The possibility of a problematic situation arises whenever two or more folks gather. What goals would a Pagan community set for itself to lessen these situations?
In closing I would just like to say that I personally would like to see a viable Pagan community where my coven and I would not be dictated to. A loose federation of like minded folks working towards an acceptable common goal. A community where one could share and learn regardless of which path one chose to follow. Our life and spiritual lessons are not the same, that is what makes us individuals. But our magickal/mystical/spiritual beliefs should suffice to lay a common groundwork for those that follow the Pagan path. Common respect based upon such an understanding could very well serve as one of the founding tenets of any community but in particular “Our Community”