Up until now in my spiritual life, I’ve always been solitary (other than my aunt, uncle, and a few very close friends) to the point that I kept all of my books/tools locked in a trunk unless I was using them. The sad thing is that I really wanted a community that I could share my beliefs with and to get some help when I wanted advice. My aunt and uncle have been there for me for a long time, but because I “apprenticed” under her, we share extremely similar views and that’s not always what I want. I’ve needed a larger group of people who had views on Magick that I’d ever even thought about. Because of this, there was a part of me that was always envious of Christians because they all have their churches and they can always talk to their friends because the majority of people are Christian, so it’s easy. I’ve thought about it a lot and finally realized something, they’ve got a heirarchy that allows this and pushes for this.
The Pagan community prides itself on allowing anyone to believe their own beliefs without judgement, and while this may be good, there seems to a lot more difficulty in creating a community because of it. Pagans are taught not to push their religion/spirituality on anyone else and this keeps our communities small and isolated. I know that many Pagans do not believe that we should ever push our religion on anyone, but we have to look at the consequences of this. Paganism is a quickly growing religion because it’s the exact opposite of Christianity and people are losing faith in Christianity. The only problem is that most of these new “converts” become solitaries and never come into contact with other people of their faith. Imagine it, you live in a farming community in South Dakota and want to meet new Pagan people. What would you do? You could drive the three to four hours to the nearest major city and join a coven/meet-up group or just suck it up and be happy with online groups. Now the Christian next door only has to drive 20 minutes to the nearest church, so that family’s got a spiritual community and this is key to spiritual growth for a person. Without my aunt to talk about Magick with, I’d probably have kept the ideas and never practiced anything.
So what do we do about this lack of connection between the groups? The options include being the evangelical Pagan that we’ve all been pushed not to be, having groups search out other groups and create a “web” of small groups that work independently of each other while still keeping in contact with each other, expanding the sheer numbers of Pagans, or to make it alright for every Pagan to be out of the broom closet. These are really the only options I can think of and if you can think of others I’d love to hear them. For any of these options to work, there are two very key things currently missing: spiritual leaders and a web of communities.
Currently, the spiritual leaders worry about furthering their covens or groups and that is all. No one has thought about the guy in South Dakota that’s living the life he’s always wanted as a farmer. He doesn’t want to move to the big city because he’s completely happy to live out there and farm every day. He loves being outdoors and being around the animals, and he loves the actual hard work that he does. What I’m suggesting is that the Pagan community needs a leader or group of leaders to work towards actually furthering the Pagan cause for that guy in South Dakota or for the kid who feels the call towards Paganism but is living in a Southern Baptist household. These people need their “churches” and their communities that will support them in their spiritual pursuits.
We need leaders that will show them what Paganism is and that it isn’t a bunch of people sitting around a fire sacrificing babies and animals. We need these leaders to push people to accept us and our beliefs rather than pushing us off as freaks or weirdos. We also need them to help show people that it’s alright to come out of the broom closet and that there are lot more Pagans out there than they realize. Sure, we’re a minority but I’ve met a lot of in the closet Pagans in the past couple months completely randomly. It’s the fact that everyone’s in the closet that keeps the communities from forming. The leaders also will have to form these communities, and I’m not saying that they need to start the same covens in all the major cities because that’s simply not the Pagan way. What I’m saying is that they need to meet the natural leaders in the cities and towns and help them to organize. This would require a large network of leaders and could in fact reshape the American ideas once Pagan morals were pushed at least a little bit.