community Tag - PaganSquare - Join the conversation! http://witchesandpagans.com/latest.html Mon, 22 May 2017 22:30:54 -0700 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Day in the Life http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/at-the-crossroads/day-in-the-life.html http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/at-the-crossroads/day-in-the-life.html

Most Pagan clergy do all of their work for free.

Too bold?  I take it back.  Let me try again:  “Probably all Pagan clergy do all of their work for free.”


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triviaatthecrossroads@gmail.com (Trivia at the Crossroads) Culture Blogs Mon, 13 Mar 2017 12:17:29 -0700
A Sermon on John 6: 48-59 http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-studies-blogs/walking-the-path/a-sermon-on-john-6-48-59.html http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-studies-blogs/walking-the-path/a-sermon-on-john-6-48-59.html

I am still deeply affected by the events of this week, and I'm struggling to reconcile my feelings around what is going on in our country right now. How larger themes of racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, and hatred have permeated the fabric of our nation so completely. Working where I do in and amongst conservative Christians as a Pagan is a challenging and often times exhausting endeavor where showing up is half the battle. 

I was on call the morning after the election news broke, and in our case, whoever is on call that day delivers the morning devotional in Chapel that morning. I've done a variety of offerings from my tradition and they have all been warmly received, but on this day I wanted to present something that spoke to deeper bonds of fellowship and used common language I knew would connect with my colleagues and yet would remain true to my identity as a Pagan. I presented this piece I had written in my Gospel of John course at Iliff a few years ago:

 

Sermon: John 6: 48-59

 

“May you never hunger...” is a statement that is uttered during a ritual honoring the connective relationship between man, nature, and the Gods. It is a phrase I have said many times as I hand bread to a person next to me and they receive it. In many ways, bread symbolizes life for humanity. In a literal sense, bread can sustain us when we are hungry. The act of grinding grain, mixing it with water, and applying heat is a process that both uses energy and provides energy for the body to utilize. From a spiritual perspective, bread is the embodied representation of deity.

 

But what is the significance of the act of offering something to another? When I reach out my hand to offer bread to another, and by uttering the words “May you never hunger,” I’m not intending to say “I hope you never experience hunger again” in a literal sense because we all experience hunger on a daily basis. In some way I’m saying I hope you will never want for sustenance to sustain you—both physically and spiritually. I want you to always have your fill—your connection to humanity and the divine.

 

John 6:58 states: “This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

 

In this statement Jesus is referencing himself as the bread of heaven and the way to eternal life. In a sense, he is offering himself the way we offer when we reach out our hand with bread to another.

 

I want to backtrack a little to the statement of “That which your ancestors ate.” Two Greek terms are used in reference to eating in John 6: 48-59. The first is phago, meaning to eat, devour, and consume. It is a singular destructive action and we see this term in words like phagocyte and phagein. The other term is trogo, meaning to gnaw or chew, and stresses the slow internal process of taking in. 

 

When the ancestors ate (phago) the manna given to them by God in the wilderness, it sustained them in a physical sense. It cured the temporary hunger that is part of the human condition. But it did nothing to sustain the spiritual hunger, or the connection to the divine and to each other. Each person gathered what they needed to sustain their physical form, but this distills each day to a process of gathering and consuming which brings no true satisfaction and fulfillment. 

 

When Jesus says “The one who eats this bread will live forever,” he is using the continuous form of eat (trogo) to delineate the human need for continuous connection and the long, slow process of internalization that is not simply satisfied by a one-time encounter. Additionally, he is offering himself as one offers bread to another around the table of fellowship—building a relationship which is sustained over time. The act of internalization (trogo) provides the building blocks our body uses to renew itself over and over, creating a new and energized body that can focus on the world outside of the individual need to consume. 

 

We are all familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and how food is one of the first, basic foundational needs in order for us to survive and scale the pyramid to self-actualization. But what if, instead of a pyramid, our needs form a circle that is continuous and life affirming. When we reach a hand out to another and offer bread, we offer physical comfort as well as the connection to each other and to the divine that allows us to become the best version of ourselves. Instead of climbing over each other in an effort to reach the top of the pyramid, we are joined in the reminder that we all have needs—we hunger, we thirst, and we need each other. This is how I take Jesus’ words to heart, and why I feel it is the act of offering himself as the bread that is the connection. So in closing, I say “May you never hunger.” So mote it be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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andes.tiffany@yahoo.com (Denora) Studies Blogs Thu, 10 Nov 2016 02:48:54 -0800
Social Media and Pagan Culture http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven/social-media-and-pagan-culture.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven/social-media-and-pagan-culture.html

Full Title: Social Media's Centralization of Online Dialogue Hurts Pagan Culture

What if wildly witchy articles no longer existed? Imagine if only corporate media "Pagan" blogs were available, as milquetoast as the fake Christianity that dominates media to suppress robust, responsible Christians? Paganism tamed!

The more corporate social media centralizes online dialogue, the closer we move to deterioration of Pagan culture and extinction of meaningful online Pagan conversation.

I love social media, but it could devastate Pagan innovation and culture unless we do something. Here's why:


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outlawbunny@outlawbunny.com (Francesca De Grandis) SageWoman Blogs Fri, 14 Oct 2016 19:33:56 -0700
Celebrating Collaboration http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/nimue-s-wheel/celebrating-collaboration.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/nimue-s-wheel/celebrating-collaboration.html

It’s getting towards the end of the harvest season – quite a sensible time to be thinking about collaboration. For most of settled human history, harvesting was a big job that required the work of entire communities. Before that, survival for our ancestors certainly depended on working together. Modern technology has ‘liberated’ us from the apparent need to fit in and work alongside others, but the truth is that our ‘freedom’ also means loneliness and isolation for many people.

Any Pagan ritual or celebration is an opportunity to come together and make something. One of the reasons I especially like improvised ritual is that it creates the scope for everyone to be equal participants, crafting something in the moment.

At the moment, collaboration is something that I have a lot of reasons to personally celebrate. I’ve just committed to being a bit more involved in an ongoing way with Contemplative Druid events in Stroud. I’ve also taken the plunge and got myself a lot more involved in local bardic events and group celebrations, and I feel very inspired and optimistic about all of that. This month’s image is also a collaboration. In the last year I’ve become a colourist for my husband, which means our working lives are more closely intertwined. This piece is for a setting we co-created.

There’s a lot of romance attached to the idea of the solitary genius – be that the lone crazy inventor, the poet in the high tower, the single hero or whoever it is. In practice, most of the best things humans do we do in teams, not as individuals. Even when it looks like it was all down to one person (as with a novel) there’s usually a tribe involved in there somewhere.

 

Lone heroics might look like the makings of a good story, but they aren’t the makings of much of a life. If there are people with whom you can do good things, celebrate them.


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brynnethnimue@gmail.com (Nimue Brown) SageWoman Blogs Tue, 04 Oct 2016 04:45:33 -0700
What Are You Communicating? http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/pagan-leadership/what-are-you-communicating.html http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/pagan-leadership/what-are-you-communicating.html

 

I overhear a lot of conversations that become arguments, and I just want to smack my head because, as an outside observer, it's so clear to me why the two parties are having a difficult time communicating. Why, in fact, a pretty benign topic can become a full on argument. Often it really boils down to intention. What's your intention? What are you trying to communicate? What's your goal? What do you want to get out of this communication/interaction?

When one person is seeking one type of interaction, and another is seeking something else, this causes a conflict. 

Usually this is a type of unstated expectation, which is one of the biggest causes of conflicts that I see in relationships (romantic, friendship, or working relationships). Conflict can also be caused by a mismatch of learning modalities or other ways of apprehending the world. Extrovert and introvert, abstract vs. concrete, visual vs. auditory. 

When we dig under the assumptions we often carry into a communication, we can either prevent a conflict entirely, or work through it with more skill. 

What's Your Intention?

We often go into communicating with someone with an expectation of their response, or something else we might want from them. This one happens to me a lot: someone will say, "I got a promotion at work!" or, "I'm going to be at ___ festival," or, "I scheduled XYZ thing for my coworkers," and a particular response (excitement, accolade, enthusiasm) is expected. Some of this requires reading basic body language, but it isn't always that easy. Sometimes the tone of voice lets me know the expected response. Sometimes not.

My mom will show me her newly-painted toenails after going to get a pedicure and the expected response is, "Hey, those look great!" Except, I don't really care, because I'm not into painted nails or pedicures or a host of other similar things. So I can't really authentically generate much enthusiasm for toenail polish. So my mom will kind of frown and be sad because I wasn't excited about her toenails. From her perspective, my lack of enthusiasm translates to: I don't care about her. 

Yes, a fight over toenails sounds ridiculous, and yes, this type of thing causes conflict in relationships. 

I overheard one conversation like this. Person A told Person B about a thing she was planning for some of her colleagues. She was excited about it, but that didn't so much show up in her voice, so some of the body language cues weren't there that might have clued in Person B that the expected response was, "That's great!"

Instead, Person B thought he was being asked to make time for Person A to attend this particular social function so he pulled out his phone to look at his calendar and, in some frustration, pointed out that that was during his regular work schedule.

During the ensuing tense conversation, Person A clarified that they she wasn't looking for him to take off work to attend, and it became clearer that she was just excited about it and sharing her news and wanting him to be excited for her. 

You can see how a situation like this can devolve into a fight because assumptions were made on both parts. Person A could have more clearly stated what she was looking for. "I'm hosting XYZ event for my colleagues, I think it'll be a lot of fun. I know you're working so I'm not asking you to be there, I'm just thrilled and wanted to tell you!" Person B could have asked a clarifying question before assuming what was being asked of him. "That sounds really great. Are you looking for anything from me with that or just sharing your news?"

Authenticity

One of my struggles in an exchange like the above is if someone's looking for enthusiasm from me, and I'm not really enthused. I'm not a very dramatic person and I don't really heavily emote on an average day, so even if I am excited, I might just smile and nod my head and say, "That's cool." I find that people who are more emotional/emotive tend to misread me as not caring, even when I do. 

Heck, if I won the lottery, I'd probably just widen my eyes, say, "Wow," and then start planning. I wouldn't be losing it jumping up and down, that's just not how I roll.

There are times where I'm genuinely ambivalent about the news being shared, but I can see someone wants me to be excited about it. Then I have to sort of decide how much enthusiasm I can authentically show, and when it becomes a show I'm putting on to make someone else feel better. Quite frankly, anyone who knows me really well is going to have to have some pretty low expectations of how much emoting I'm going to do or how overtly excited I'm going to get. 

I also struggle with anxiety and depression, so it really does feel like dredging up energy I don't have, at times, to appear happy/excited about something. That's certainly not something everyone deals with, but it's something to consider.

Sometimes, because I care about the person involved, I might muster up some excitement that is more visible to them. It still feels a bit like faking it, but it's one of the struggles we all have with communication--we are not the same. And in fact, the "Golden Rule" is one of the worst pieces of advice out there because we don't all have the same expectations and assumptions. We don't emote the same ways. So assuming that someone isn't excited because they aren't shrieking is going to lead to some serious misreads.

Remember, the person you're talking to isn't you. They won't respond the way you might. The more you get to know them, the more you'll (hopefully) learn what their baseline is and you can better read their responses.

Sometimes, you just have to ask the person what they are feeling. Or what they expect. Sometimes, taking ten steps back and talking together about the expectations you're coming into a communication with is the only way, particularly if you keep ending up in conflicts like this.

Abstract and Concrete

Some of us tend to think really well in abstract terms. Others tend to want more concrete details before they can latch onto something. When an abstract person communicates in an overly vague way to a concrete person, there's going to be conflict. When a concrete person wants excessive details from an abstract person, there's going to be conflict. There is a workaround for both of these that might be uncomfortable, but that will lead to less unresolved tension. 

The first part is being aware of where you are. Are you abstract? Do you have an easy time visualizing or imagining things that don't yet exist? Are you often vague? Do you like leaving things open ended?

Are you concrete? Do you want lots of details? Do you nitpick details? Do you have a hard time following along when someone says something kind of vague?

Abstract folks tend to be better at brainstorming. Concrete folks tend to be better at taking things from a brainstorming session and figuring out how it will or won't work in the real world. In Pagan event planning, concrete folks get a bad rap for being nitpicky. They often begin sentences with, "Well that won't work because...."

Abstract folks get a bad rap for being really vague, or having a hard time communicating details. 

I witnessed one frustrating interaction between Abstract Person A and Concrete Person B. Person A said, "Oh, we'll just get that at __organization name.__" To Person A, that was a totally clear sentence. Concrete Person B was absolutely confused and said, "That makes no sense. What time do we need to leave to do that? Do we need to contact anyone first? What time are they open? Where are they located? How much time do we need to leave in as a buffer so we get to __Event XYZ_ in time?"

I tend to be abstract, with some ability to dive into concrete land on specific things. I was working with an event team where I was the abstract/idea person for the event. We were trying to brainstorm, and I swiftly realized the rest of the team was heavily concrete, and they didn't understand what I meant by the idea of having several tracks of workshops with workshops that built in intensity over the course of a day. I made a mockup spreadsheet of how the day might look. 

While I did communicate my concept, the challenge then was that they expected that the day would look exactly like that. Unfortunately, I made the concept too concrete too fast, and then that was how the concrete folks wanted it to go, and there weren't enough details nailed down for that. This leads to further problems because then when something has to shift, (and if you've planned events, you know that things shift all the time) then the concrete folks sometimes push back pretty hard.

On the other hand, I've organized events with folks who were really abstract and who just couldn't put their vision into a form others can see. They ended up being micromanaging control freaks and pushing everyone else out of the way who might have helped because nobody else could see the vision.

The workaround here is knowing your strengths and weaknesses here, and that of your team, and talking transparently about where you are as far as concrete/abstract. That way when someone's diving too fast into concrete land during a brainstorming you can say, "Whoah, let's back it up a bit, we need to stay in the abstract for a bit," and when someone's being too vague, you have the language to be able to say, "We need that to be a bit more concrete so we can catch what the idea is." 

Both ends of the spectrum bring something to the table, it's just managing the tension between them.

Auditory and Visual, Extrovert and Introvert

I have a friend that I have organized various Pagan events with. He apprehends information best when he hears it, but it goes beyond that. He's an extrovert, and he also learns best interpersonally, meaning, by the actual human interaction, not just through the data. I, on the other hand, learn best visually. And I'm an introvert. 

When he and I were planning an event, I'd prepare all these documents and spreadsheets and send it out to our planning team. And at the in person planning meeting, I'd still have to (in painstaking detail) talk through all the documents in detail. At first, my friend and I were frustrated. I just wanted him to read my emails and get back to me. He didn't get why I couldn't just pick up the phone and call him, or why we couldn't just work through it in person. 

It wasn't until we both realized that our learning modalities were different, and that this was the source of our conflict, that we were able to recognize what was causing us tension, and also come up with a strategy to negotiate that. 

Now, when we plan together, I prepare all my documents ahead of time, since that's part of my process. Then, we do a Skype call together. I dislike phone, but with video chat I've got at least a little visual to keep me going. He gets the interpersonal connection piece, and together we work through the stuff we're planning. The process works well since we both acknowledge our processes and how they potentially conflict, and that there will always be tension, but it's manageable tension. 

Tensions

There are other tensions out there as far as communication goes, but this is a few of the ones that can cause the most conflicts when nothing "bad" actually happened, it's just a miscommunication or difficulty communicating. Feel free to share any other communication mishaps like this, or other things you've witnessed/experienced, in comments.


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shaunaaura@gmail.com (Shauna Aura Knight) Culture Blogs Wed, 10 Aug 2016 15:11:08 -0700
When Community Fails http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/at-the-crossroads/when-community-fails.html http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/at-the-crossroads/when-community-fails.html

My friend’s mother died this past spring.

The stroke happened suddenly and her passing came a few weeks later.  Despite a lot of preparation for a worst-case scenario, the death hit the family hard.  My friend had a difficult relationship with her mother (something many of us can relate to, I’m sure) and her ambivalent thoughts and emotions have been complicating an already difficult grieving process.

My friend announced her mother’s illness to our group, but she kept the news of her mother’s passing to herself.  She had been out of town a lot to be with family, and it was only recently that I saw my friend since her family tragedy. 


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triviaatthecrossroads@gmail.com (Trivia at the Crossroads) Culture Blogs Tue, 02 Aug 2016 17:04:30 -0700
Why Christians Thrive and Pagans Fail http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/the-magick-kitchen/why-christian-thrive-and-pagans-fail.html http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/the-magick-kitchen/why-christian-thrive-and-pagans-fail.html

I have read many posts in forums, in blogs, and elsewhere regarding the social issues of the Pagan community.

 

Our community seems to be at a fork in the road. One we have been standing at for some time. We are divided by ego, misunderstandings, hate, fear, and worse.

Many authors, writers, and leaders are calling for peace and acceptance within our communities. They out forth the effort to strengthen and build our communities, while on their heels, others seek to sabotage any positive efforts made.

It seems that within our struggle to become our own spiritual pillar, we forget that others are on a similar path. We forget that someone else’s journey looks differently than our own, and for good reason; it’s personal.

Your spirituality is yours alone. Only you can relate to wholly and fluently. Our spiritual paths are not forged from cookie cutters or symmetrical molds designed to make us act, say, or experience things in the same strict way.

I have seen gossip, greed, tempers, and ego, destroy friendships, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, covens, and entire organizations. I have seen the inability to communicate and know one another create incredible fissures between people who were once happy and peaceful.  

The beauty of our community is our diversity. We are not bound by any one doctrine or religious study. We don’t have a single hierarchy pointing its condemning finger at us as we live our lives and learn our lessons. We are free, and yet we choose to remain caged and broken.

In contrast to all the ugliness I have seen and experienced, I have also know the beauty of the Pagan community. I have seen Pagans come together as they share, cry, and heal one another. I have walked a labyrinth with women who all had a different purpose for their journey. I have cried as I reveal my soul to people I only just met. I have been knocked down by the magnitude of energy raised by those who dissolved their walls to accomplish one single Magickal task.

I have walked forest trails barefoot, under the full moon at midnight to reach a sacred grove where Pagans following different paths than my own worshiped and connected. Ultimately we developed an energetic union that remains years later.

I have been around for many years, and I have experienced a lot of happiness and pain on this journey. I have been knocked down by the heartache caused by those who cannot and will not find peace in their hearts and acceptance for those around them.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”

- George Gordon Byron

 

The fact is we cannot build a community when we refuse to accept or even tolerate one another because of our differences. We cannot become cohesive if we continue to raise our pitchforks as we look for another “Witch Hunt”.

Frankly, we have enough people outside of our communities seeking to tear us down. We need our communities more than ever. We can’t afford to burn ourselves at the stake while there are many others out there looking to do it for us.

I have been on both sides of the coin, as a Christian and a Pagan. I have experienced the differences in how each community interacts and reacts to a variety of situations.

It is time we recognize where we fall short as a community and how we can improve. No one is perfect, and you should never have that expectation placed on you, by another or by your own doing. We can always improve, but remember - perfection is an illusion.

Now some of what I say doesn’t apply to everyone a crossed the board. There are groups scattered here and there who have their perspective shit together. These groups are few and far between, but I believe we can change this. I trust we can create for ourselves bigger pockets of positive, cohesive communities where we can love one another, thrive in our practices, support one another, and become better human beings.

Here are 10 areas where I know Christians excel and Pagans tend to fail. In each area, I know that we can improve if we only work at it. Through our efforts, we can improve and become healthy.

1.    They stick together - Even when Christians don’t necessarily like one another, they are united by their faith. Part of their union is due to the fear mongering dogma of their leaders, but this is not the entire motive. They understand the idea that they are stronger in numbers. When one is attacked, they all unite and react. Strength in numbers is something Pagans lack, but we can change this. We can come together to create strength as we support one another, we only need to find or create the means.

2.    Christians support Christians - Christians buy from other Christian business owners. They congratulate newlyweds, new parents and they look out for their elders. When someone passes on, they grieve together and hold sacred space in their honor. When someone’s health is failing, they pray together, light candles, cook and eat food together, and more. They come together when they are needed most.

3.    They commune regularly – I know many of us don’t like the idea of weekly church service, much less the idea of Wednesday Bible study, or more. But this regular dedicated social interaction and communal worship allows each member of their community to get to know one another. As Pagans, if we are lucky, we might see our Pagan congregation or community once or twice each year at our local PPD event, retreat or festival. Unless you are part of a dedicated group, you might not see other Pagans, ever. In many cases, when you are a part of a single group this group of people/Pagans is often all you ever see of the Pagan community. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “it takes a village,” this wisdom is valuable and is something we should consider for our daily lives.

4.    They follow in faith – Sometimes this can be viewed as the “Sheeple” mentality, but Christians don’t look to discredit or mock the services and messages they are about to experience. They have faith in their leaders and their God. While I believe that Pagans (in most cases) have opened their eyes to organized religion and the negativities within, our fierce resistance has blinded us and allowed is denounced it’s positive aspects. We have the option to questions our beliefs and the beliefs of others without the threat of damnation. However, we don’t always use this awaken insight in the best ways. Most often we use it to tear other down instead of engaging in thoughtful and intellectual discussions. This path is an intellectual path. One that requires us to educate and improve ourselves. We cannot become well educated and balanced if we close ourselves off to and scold different ideas and theologies.

5.    Respect –Christians have respect for their leaders and elders as well as for one another. This is one confident guiding principal more Pagans should once again adopt. After all, Pagans were the first to recognize that their elders were a valuable source of insight and wisdom. Tribal leaders and the people respected their Sages, Crones, Witches, Seers and more without unwarranted skepticism, hate or discrimination. They were never jealous of their elders because they understood the importance of their position within the community. The same goes for their neighbors. They recognized that we are all connected and to disrespect another was to disrespect yourself.

6.    Formal Clergy Training – Perhaps the widespread skepticism we have in our Pagan communities is because we lack well trained-experienced elders, leaders, and guides. Christian Clergy has a slight advantage because they are trained to be leaders. They go to seminary (and colleges) and work on their internal baggage (in theory) so that they can be closer to Divinity and help others do the same. In the Pagan community, we discredit our elders and teachers. We bash them and disrespect them. I know part of this is because there are too many selfish people posing as leaders when really they were predators looking to satisfy their own egotistic desires. The good news is that not every leader is like this.

As a seeker, you must be responsible and interview and research each perspective elder or leader you want to learn from. This is one evident personal responsibility of the path.  This can be done easily and without malicious intent. I consider myself a skeptical believer. I will feel people out, and get to know them before I trust them as a leader or wise counsel. As a result, there are few I trust, but I will not tear down another simply because their type of guidance or level of experience is not right for me. Wisdom comes in many packages. While it is admirable that anyone in our community can become a leader or elder, we lack any formal guidance that is necessary to becoming a well-rounded and effective leader or wise counsel. To become a leader must heal yourself before you can lead and heal others. You must work through and begin to eliminate your own baggage before you can help others do the same.

If you want to be a leader, leave your bags stuffed with your personal and emotional issues at the door. This ability takes time and effort. You have to work on yourself daily. I am not saying you have to be 100% free and clear of all your baggage, but you at least need to reach a point where you recognize the influence your baggage has on you and others. You have to gain the ability to allow yourself to let go of your ego and desires, thusly leaving your baggage at the door.

Subsequently, as Christians train and multiply their leader base, they create for their community the opportunity for their leaders, clergy and elders to commune with one another. This gives them a chance to learn and grow from a deep well of knowledge and experience. This is another aspect our greater Pagan community lacks.

7.    Christians utilize their elders –When disagreements, gossip, and other matters pop up, Christians turn to their elders for advice and guidance. This applies to marriage counseling, legal issues, tiffs between friends, and more. In some cases, a meeting might be called, and the two opposing parties will be asked to speak with a minister, priest, or the like to help them resolve the issue. While this might be done in a coven environment where the atmosphere is more intimate, this does not happen in forums or in online groups; much less at Pagan gatherings. Most likely, the perceived aggressor is removed from the group, and each is left to deal with any residual negative feelings. We don’t have a central resource of wisdom that can help us move through domestic or social issues. However, this poses a grand opportunity for our community. We have the chance to grow our networks and become healthy and widespread for the purpose of healing one another.  

8.    Love and Trust – Christians don’t go to church with an enormous chip on their shoulder, and if they do they tend to keep it to themselves. Ideally, they go because they trust in their God and that their God has chosen the best clergy for them related to their current point of their path. Pagans do the opposite. We go into most situations or gatherings with our walls up, and we seek to discredit everything the leader is trying to achieve. The interesting thing I find about this is in the Wiccan community, where “Perfect Love, and Perfect Trust,” is highly valued, but not always honored. Even when the leader has the best intentions for us, and is only trying to do good in our community, we find a way to make a mockery of their efforts.  

If we cannot come together with our walls even half way down, we will never achieve the positive results we need. Now, I have seen the opposite be true, and I know what I say does not apply to the whole of the community. A great example people coming together is at various women’s retreats and gatherings. Women seem to have an innate ability to bring down their walls (in most cases) and trust the work about to be done by the leader performing the task. I also know from experience that this ability seems to leave us when we exit the atmosphere of the gathering, as we return to mundane life.

9.    They accept “Newbies” – I often see newbies apologizing for their questions. They begin their question with “I know this might sound dumb, but…” There is an overwhelming sense that coming into this path, you should “already know” whatever it is you seek. This simply in not possible. When you are new at something, you need to learn about it in order to know it.

In the Christian church, the congregants and leaders are eager to teach their faith to anyone. This is a double-edged sword, because as we know, some people don’t want to hear it. BUT, they are willing to take time with seekers and help them understand their theology. They do not make them feel stupid or ridiculous for asking questions. They express their faith with passion and actualization. They encourage questions, and they do so without a patronizing tone. While I agree that all we need to know is already available to us, we still have to go through the process of stripping away our own limiting beliefs and blockage. Baggage that prevent us from fully recognizing and understanding the wisdom we have within. These programmed blockages are constructed by years of social and family conditioning. It takes time and effort to relieve ourselves of the muddy weights that hold us back. That is why having experienced leaders, teachers, and elders to guide is absolutely critical.

10.Their community is abundant – Christians don’t hide. Everywhere you look, there is a Christian church on the corner or Christian-based charitable organization helping someone or a Christian based business selling products. Pagans have become accustomed to hiding. Well of course we have. We have been “forced” to hide for about 2000 years. After a while it becomes a habit; a habit we seem to accept as normal. As with all things done in excess, this habit harms us. It allows those who seek to destroy our theologies to say what they want about us, and we are nowhere to be found in contradiction.  We cannot show the greater community that we are indeed valuable members of society when we hide away and act in ways that validate their blasphemy. I am not saying you have to divulge your most sacred secrets to the world. What I am saying is that we should not hide out of fear or habit. We do ourselves and our community a disservice by allowing the negative propaganda of other faiths be confirmed by our actions and worse our absence. Instead of showing the beauty and honor that our traditions offer, we are seemingly content with allowing the greater community to fear us and mistrust us.

The fact is, most Pagans despise organized religion because it seems to justify crappy, bigoted, self-righteous beliefs. So why does it seem that so many Pagans indulge in the same actions that they claim to dynamically hate?

When we tear someone else down, we perpetuate the cycle of bigotry we supposedly condemn. Sure there are some out there who are simply wrong in what they say and do, but who are you to judge them? What gives anyone of us the right to point our finger and shout at someone for being different? Perhaps the opportunity is to educate rather than destroy.

Expressing your opinion about something is acceptable, choosing to have a meltdown over it is not. If you plan to comment on a post or in a forum about how someone is wrong, you are positioning yourself as an expert or at least knowledgeable in the field of discussion. This action can either bring us together or alienate us. When you seek to prove someone else wrong, you need to understand your position. Are you in a position to be the wise council or are you simply taking a few tidbits of knowledge you picked up along the way and posturing as an experienced and knowledgeable leader?

The attitude you take will determine the outcome. Remember we are all connected and when you disrespect someone you are revealing to the world your own insecurities and baggage. When you feel drawn to intervene, it’s a good time to ask yourself some revealing questions.

Ask yourself:

What do I really know about this area of discussion?

Do I fully understand the context of what this person is expressing?

Do I have the right to judge this person and their situation?

What will I accomplish by being rude or judgemental?

How can I express my thoughts and experience without coming off as a bully or hypercritical?

How can I be compassionate as I relay my thoughts or opinion?

I teach my student that there is a time and a place for everything. It is up to you to discover when and where your judgments, anger, and hostilities are appropriate. I can assure you that when it comes to building community, slinging around our baggage and aggressions will never work.

 

BB,

Leandra

 

www.LeandraWitchwood.com


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leandrawitchwood@gmail.com (Leandra Witchwood) Culture Blogs Sat, 09 Jul 2016 08:16:29 -0700