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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2008, 22:57 
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[url=http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmd&c=words&id=12080]A Pagan Community. At What Cost?

Author: Whispering Woods coven
Posted: January 6th. 2008[/url]

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. Wiccans not wanting to recognize traditional Witchcraft 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”. It’s as if so many individuals and/or groups want to re-invent the wheel.

...

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.

...

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.

...

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”


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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2008, 22:59 
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The link has an interesting discussion of what's in a community and what's important for 'pagans' of differing flavors ...

But, as I checked it out, I wondered about what we might draw from it in terms of a 'community' for here.

What do you guys think?


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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2008, 23:34 
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If I wasn't a part of Nova Roma, I wouldn't be part of the Religio Romana at all except in studying it. Community is everything in paganism. Not that I'm a real believer, I'm an empiricist after all, so that's just that much more for the community.


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PostPosted: 07 Jan 2008, 10:38 
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I don't feel that the 'community is all' for pagans, but then, I've recently noticed that all our friends (with some exceptions) are.

We do invite friends to Blots etc, but we don't have a 'church' type thing we go to.

IRL, like on the net, I have issues finding 'out' pagans who aren't ... total flakes... ;)

Chris: I'd love to know more about your Nova Roma experiences. As I've said before, I'd be Romanus if I could expand the gods worshipped. I'd love to hear your feedback on it all.


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PostPosted: 07 Jan 2008, 10:39 
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That said, I've toyed with the idea of getting a church that's closing and opeing it up to all faiths to use as a gathering place.

It's merely a dream, but I thinkj it'd be nice. People like going places.

Of course, I guess the UU covered that already... I was just thinking something more 'alternative friendly'.


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PostPosted: 07 Jan 2008, 13:01 
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Speaking of flakes, I think one of the main problems with pagan community is that the gatherings and such that I've seen are almost never appropriate for children.

Community is largely about children. It's about creating an atmosphere where people feel as though their children are safe. That's what people believe they have in their churches even though it's not always truly safe.

So many of the people and groups I've met who are pagan are so obsessed with the sexual revolution, sexual liberation and being nudists that I not only worry about the safety of my children, I find myself worrying about the safety of my wife. And that is not all in my head, it comes from my wife spending evenings clinging to me after being cornered somewhere in very awkward positions which she felt she had to escape.

While community may not be 100% about children, I think I could say at least that it is largely about families. And families will continue to practice their beliefs at home where they feel all of their members are safe, until the pagan community can create an atmosphere where we feel that we can let our loved ones leave our eyesight and not worry about them being cornered by a sexual predator.

I can definitely appreciate magical practices which are not appropriate for children. I am more involved in the shamanic side of paganism than the wiccan or god worshiping side, but I have taken part in and hope to continue to take part in ceremonies which I would never bring my children to. But the ratio, as far as building a community is concerned, of what I should feel comfortable bringing my family to and what I would attend alone should be at least 75% family to 25% solo, if not more in favor of family friendly gatherings.


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PostPosted: 07 Jan 2008, 13:36 
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True ...

Real-life village communities are built on the continuum of people, which mean that the children are involved with things as well as the elderly. But there are levels.

Children don't have the attention span for some things. They don't have enough understanding at times to recognize a solemn moment or when someone is potentially doing something wrong in order to take advantage of a situation with the unknowing.

Now, the nudity (skyclad) part I don't think is so damaging, as children all have their own bodies which they see, and there's not -so- much variety in the stuff we hide under our clothes, but I do see the 'unbridled sexual freedom' aspect that some people seem to assume goes along with these clothing-free states as being potentially inappropriate. They aren't inappropriate if everyone there is there for the same thing, but to include children or the unwilling, well ...

That goes back to some of the issues in the "Public Paganism and a Watered-Down Approach" essay I found. If people got into some variety of paganism in order to be part of and demonstrate some counter-cultural aspect, then they will expect others to be there for the same reasons. If one joins a coven with the idea that it's a sort of 'pagan swinger's club', then they might be unhappy when they find that there are people in the coven who aren't the least bit interetsed in what one exposes whilst being skyclad. They might all view themselves as asexual, who knows.

But then again, if it -is- a swinger's club after the kids go to bed, well, then that sets teh rules and boundries of appropriate activities.

I think the big thing in this is that everyone is on their own page in terms of understanding the social dynamics of the situation. If 'that area' over there is adults-only, then your kids don't get to go there until they qualify as adults ... If you don't want to be part of the swinging or halucenogenic substance use, then leave at this point, or go to that area, or whatever's appropriate.

'Initiations' and 'grades' in religions aren't only there to be exclusionary, they're also there to make sure that people are ready/understanding of what the activities entail/mean as well. I think the attempts of many pagan religions to be counter-cultural to hierarchical / dogmatic 'mainstream' religions has generated a (IMHO, wonderful) view of the importance of the individual to the exclusion of many such boundries. As such, we get people getting together without insuring that they all understand things in the same way.

So long as the things can be discussed, then I expect they'd get worked out, but if every person comes in taking their own views as 'writ', then what they may see as harmless or to be expected is interpreted as harmful, threatening, or inappropriate activity by others.


Which, of course, worries me. For those people who seem unable to carry on reasonable discourse, do they -need- a hierarchical / dogmatic religion to avoid conflict in such a setting? :confused1:


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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2008, 04:16 
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Jess,

You can expand the Gods worshipped. The ancients had no problem with incorporating new Gods (usually by assigning them with an already existing deity, but not always) and todays Romani have no problem with it either, as far as I can see. There are a couple of reactionaries who might have a problem with druids, and certainly more than a handful who have a problem with exclusionary religions such as Christianity, but otherwise a rather tolerant bunch.

Feel free to ask any questions, either privately or here. If privately, I'd rather do it via email.

Chris


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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2008, 10:45 
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I was told that they had to be gods the Romans had contact with--- so no Hindu gods and no meso-american (although soem people could argue that!)

Is that not true?


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2008, 00:46 
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jess wrote:
I was told that they had to be gods the Romans had contact with--- so no Hindu gods and no meso-american (although soem people could argue that!)

Is that not true?


It differs in opinions. Hindu gods are actually ok since the Romans did indeed have contact with them (Clement of Alexandria, for instance, mentions Buddha). The private beliefs, however, are not subject to the collegium pontificum, so they cannot stop you from believing in them. However, to avoid upset, it's probably best to just keep them private. Christian beliefs already cause enough scandal when they're mentioned...


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PostPosted: 07 Feb 2018, 09:06 
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