Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Ramble

Someone in my minister group posted this interesting blog that briefly touched on the outward and visible devotion of other faiths that modern American paganism seems to be lacking. It is a brief read.

However, I think the point that Krasskova is missing is that modern paganism isn't like any denomination of modern Christianity where she sees such devotion and piety. Pagan paths are as numerous as the people who claim to follow one and there is no one single authority leading us or telling us how to worship or how to be 'good pagans.' Additionally, paganism of any kind is still shunned and persecuted in many communities, so of course we're less likely to be seen on our knees in front of some sacred building (do pagans have sacred buildings, even?) in an effort to protect ourselves. The fact that my relationship with Deity is truly a personal one and not something that I flaunt in front of the public eye does not make me any less devoted or pious than my brothers and sisters who make a big show of how very devoted they are.

Part of her point, though, I think I do see. A lot of people who claim paganism as their faith learned it from a book, and not a sacred and unifying text like the Bible, but probably something published by Llewellyn, which has the regrettable reputation of teaching McWitchcraft. Without the equivalent of a head church or knowing how to find who pagan leaders are even within your own community, all we really have are books and there is no criteria or proof of authority or authenticity required to write one.  In that regard, pagans the world over are reaching in the dark for some guidance or structure and only finding it in books penned by people with Wolf somewhere in their name. That is not to say that learning from books is bad, but the books available to us aren't teaching us the right lessons. What we need to know is that we can design our faith based on what feels right to us. That we can mix pantheons and official traditions and thoroughly build that personal relationship with the Divine. That a solitary path does not mean a lesser one and that keeping your devotion personal and private does not mean that you lack it.

I had a conversation with a friend recently who expressed an interest in paganism but did not know where to begin to learn and asked me for guidance. It made me wish I did have a Bible-type book to pass along to her as a good place to begin. What I need, instead, is something closer to a Sunday school lesson plan. I'm fully confident in my ability to put such a thing together but just being asked has made me miss the days when I lived in close proximity to a fellowship where dozens of us, all on our own unique paths, would gather for Sabbats and spend entire weekends celebrating that which makes our faith special and meaningful and powerful.

Then I find myself in the same position that I just stated most of us are in; not knowing how to find something within my community. And it comes with it no small amount of trepidation that any fellowships I do find would fit me and my path as well as the one I had. In addition to that, starting with a new group often puts you at the bottom, where people just assume that you know nothing just because you are new to them and treat you accordingly. In that, I have no interest. I have been walking this path for more than 20 years. While every step has the potential for a new direction, back at the very beginning when I was one of those people who only had a book by someone named Wolf is not one of them.

I was going to add that I don't feel like my current spiritual journey is missing something, but it occurs to me that I wouldn't be writing about this if that were so. I am a solitary priestess, but gathering and celebrating with others did bring a certain comfort to my journey that I can't create on my own. If only finding pagan circles was as easy as driving around town and making note of any church that matches your denomination so you can go during their scheduled times of worship and see if it is a good fit.

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