Loyalty and the Pagan Community

December 17th, 2007

Over the years, many Pagans have talked about and worked toward a “Pagan Community.” They saw a need for us to work together. Many groups, covens, teaching circles and other organizations have been started. Many have died. Many are struggling for survival. A few are thriving.

Has this created a Pagan Community? I see that there are some signs of community in some areas. Unfortunately, these areas are few and far between. Also unfortunate is how incohesive these “communities” are. There is a significant piece missing from nearly all groups. The groups that have it have too little.

That missing piece is loyalty. Loyalty is the most important social bond that connects people. As our social structure has crumbled, loyalty has gone with it. Lack of loyalty is not just a problem in Paganism, but in our larger society. In his weekly newsletter, Gary North wrote about the decline of loyalty:

“Church? Church-hopping has undermined it. Family? No-fault divorce has undermined it. Regions? TV and the interstate highway system have undermined it. But radio and trains did it by 1940. States? Nationalism has undermined it. Nationalism: Empire and centralization have undermined it. Military? Think “Michael New.” He was court martialed and received a bad conduct discharge because he refused to wear the United Nations’ blue cap as his uniform. […] Ideology? No institutional structure. No loyalty to people. Race? Yes. Gangs? Yes.”

As our unsustainable society crumbles, our government institutions that claim to protect us will also crumble. Social security, Medicare, welfare, government insurance will all become dust. Our families have separated, so many of us cannot rely on them for support when times are rough. Fraternal organizations have fallen into disuse.

What we can do to combat this is to build a Pagan Community. Communities are built upon a foundation of loyalty. This is not loyalty to a person or group of people, but a faithfulness to a cause. We need to keep the cause in mind at all times, so that we can set aside personal differences, grudges and feelings of righteousness over others.

Most Pagans are not part of any community, but live as solitaries. Those who are not solitaries only work within their small group, but with no connection to those in other groups or those who are solitaries. A large disconnection separates us away from a community.

There are some things that need to happen for this loyalty and community to develop. Solitary practitioners should work to connect with others in their local community. Developing a connection with others creates a bond that can help them advance in their studies and give them a venue to be themselves openly among friends.

Group members need to open themselves to others. They need to actively connect with people who visit them and contact them. They need to care for people outside of their group. Many times, I see groups say they invite new members, but when a visitor comes they don’t work to connect with them. The visitor should be made to feel welcome and should know that regardless of whether the visitor wishes to join, the group members genuinely care for them.

Members of groups also need to connect with members of other groups. If groups all know each other and support each other (as opposed to arguing and competing with each other), they will be meshed together in a true Pagan Community. This does not mean that each group gives up its identity for some super-coven. Instead, they should have personal connections so that if a larger challenge comes along for one group, the other groups will help out as best they can.

If this net of support is strong, where each member is loyal to the larger community, their coven or circle and to each other, it will be able to withstand any challenge. For example, Pagan soldiers only now can have a pentacle on their headstone because the larger community came together. Many other examples will develop as we grow and are challenged.

On a more individual level, people can support each other in times of need. For example, if someone loses their job and needs help in staying financially afloat, or staying spiritually strong, there will be people they can count on for such assistance. Since loyalty is always two-way, they will be happy to help others in times of their need. Look to the fundamentalist protestant churches for examples of this mutual support and loyalty.

For a Pagan Community to develop, we need to look within ourselves for loyalty. We need to decide what we are going to be loyal to and we need to fight for it. We don’t all have to live together as a big happy family, but we need to see each other as all children of the Gods.

Have you or your group done anything in particular to build a larger community? Please share it with us.


8 Responses to “Loyalty and the Pagan Community”

  1. R.E. Says:

    The issue of lack of community has always been a thorn in my side as well. I’m lucky that my better half is also my spiritual partner, so I’ve never been an absolute solitary. But, I often have quite an ache to share our circle with others.

    This desire was part of the motivation for founding a Pagan spiritual order. We hope to build a community spiritually-minded Pagans from all over, connected by a commitment to the Lady and the Lord and their love of the Earth. The Order of the Verdant path is as yet a small part of the Pagan community, but we are working on it!
    http://www.freewebs.com/verdantpath/index.htm

    Hopefully the more Pagans work on building small groups, these groups will in turn fit together as pieces of a larger mosaic to create a larger and more viable overall Pagan community.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Lady ElderCraft Says:

    I must bring into observation this most interesting post.

    While reading through this i did notice your emphasis towards using the term “Pagan” as a generalization of the magickal community. And while i think the term addresses the community somewhat. I do think “occultic communities” would surfice better, and also further help to unveil the understanding of the underlying cause in this “lacking of loyalty” you speak of.

    Be you pagan, wiccan, witch, or any goddess worshipper, you are ultimately practising forms of occultism. Occultism; a term denoting a pro-active spirituality, as apposed to mysticism, which is a term in reference to passive worship, such as the practises of christianity and buddhism.

    This is ultimately where the paths split and go their own ways.. You are either an occultist, or you are a mystic depending on your spirituality.

    Now with this revelation in thought. The occultist is also viewed as a master of the art, and art is a very personal and endearing no matter the form.. However in this case, the occultist practises the art of expression through the manifestation and manipulation of the energies within ones life, and the universe.

    In this sense we might find where the “lacking in loyalty” is seeded. The art of magick and living a life dedicated to the crafts of the self is, naturally, a solitary one. So ultimately, we will find ourselves seeking.. well… ourselves, before we seek others.

    We are a community in the way the we are each working towards perfecting our crafts/arts and becoming insync with all that surrounds us, we are a community of common goals and aspiration. Our community exists in the nature preservers, and politicians, In the countryside and the city, our community everywhere.

    Though we may never resemble the assemblies of christianity of islam, or even buddhism, our community is vast though hidden and mysterious as our dear Lady.

    ElderCraftGuild

    http://www.eldercraftguild.com

  3. Morninghawk Says:

    R.E:

    I like your metaphor of a mosaic. I think it is a good way to describe how I see the larger community as well. Each person and group has their own nature, which includes such things as their personality, tradition, beliefs and that which makes them unique. At the same time, though, they have their spot in a larger picture. It is a good way to respect our differences while acknowledging our commonalities and working together toward common goals. We might have differences with the nature of some groups, but we can see how we both fit in to the larger picture in important ways.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Lady ElderCraft:

    I see where you’re coming from with regard to the solitary nature of spiritual growth. I disagree, however, with the idea that one must be alone in their path just because of it. I find that many have difficulty in their journey that are helped by being connected with other people. They have others who they can call on for help.

    Even if we have to walk our path ourselves, it does not mean that we need to be disconnected from others and only be a part of a community through its ethereal energy. I believe that it is through the physical, social connections between people that we can help each other through our hardships on the path. Maybe we don’t know how to deal with a problem, but there is another community member who has dealt with something similar themselves. If anything else, there is benefit in simply venting with someone who understands our spiritual journey and is walking a similar path.

    The challenge, as I see it, is getting beyond our society’s push for individuality and disassociation with others.

    Thanks for the insight.

  4. Lady ElderCraft Says:

    “The challenge, as I see it, is getting beyond our society’s push for individuality and disassociation with others”.

    Individuality is the goal of being an occultist/witch/wiccan/pagan, and disassociation may be put down to the hardship our pagan anscestors endured through suppression and near demolishment, and the still misunderstood conception of wicca/witchcraft/occultism in general.

    But nowhere can i read or perceive from what i had written, that i have suggested we MUST be alone because of our path.

    I am simply explaining the nature of what maybe drives this concern of yours as i have pondered this also.

    I do not doubt whatsoever in my reply to you, the many benefits of exchange with others of similar teaching/learning/knowing.. Look at us now, a great exchange has taken place.

    But please… should this be a fair exchange between occultists… Do not bend or manipulate my words, for it appears skanty and defenseful, and we are all friends here.

    Do not hold resentment for this “lacking” you prescribe, and do not reply as though i have contridicted your passion towards this issue in “lacking”, as you so put it. I neither agree nor disagree with you.

    ElderCraftGuild

    http://www.eldercraftguild.com

  5. Morninghawk Says:

    I’m sorry if I appeared to be attempting to bend or manipulate your words. I was misunderstanding what you said.

    The reason I proscribe the lack of loyalty within the Pagan (or Occultist, if you prefer) Community is because of the harm it does us and other people. I hear from many people who complain about discrimination, loneliness, a lack of public ritual space, etc. At the same time, I see many of those same people refusing to be loyal to anyone outside of their family or small religious group.

    I don’t believe that everyone has to be in a big happy group, or that people cannot work on a solitary basis. I know many solitary practitioners who are a part of a larger community because they connect with others at times. It might not be for ritual and it might not be on a regular schedule, but they do make connections with other people. They are also loyal to those whom they connect with, as they will offer aid if called upon. I also see many more people who do not connect, except when they want to complain about not getting any help form others.

    This is why I am as passionate about this as I am.

    I accept your desire to remain neutral on this subject, and thank you for your comments.

  6. BBC Says:

    Interesting post, I just speed read it though. Pagan Communities isn’t a bad idea, and may be needed in the future.

    If things get real bad here I would maybe get with one of the native tribes. They are better at community than the terrorists that came here and took their country.

    I think I pretty much have a native soul anyway. I don’t get witches, I don’t think they have any magical powers or this would be a better world because every witch I know wants a better world.

  7. BBC Says:

    You didn’t allow my comment?

  8. Morninghawk Says:

    Sorry, I found your comments stuck in my comment spam filter.

    I agree that we need to look at tribal cultures as a better way to live. I like what Daniel Quinn wrote about this. Are you familiar with his books?

    Most Native American tribes are very closed to outsiders (which I completely understand).

    I think people will start creating and working within tribal structures as a way to build communities, which I think will be quite effective.

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