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From 1997... The cry for Unity has been building strongly over the past 13 months in the Witch/Pagan community. This section celebrates our efforts and dreams in this area. Is it possible? Will it be difficult? Do we have some common ground? There is lots of hard work ahead and the Witches' Voice will do its part to both support and evolve this issue. United we stand - So Mote it Be!

Survey Results: Witch, Wiccan or Pagan? ... How Good is YOUR Teacher ... Working with Groups ... A Religion or a Personal Belief ... Out of the Broom Closet ... Witchcraft in the Public Eye

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Initial Thoughts from the Community (the first 4 days)
Comments on working with Groups/Solitaire Page #1
(as of Saturday 7/26/97 10:43 pm)

Survey Sez...

"I find that it takes a careful balance of people for a group to work. I'm not interested in control or power and usually have a low tolerance for those that do - hence I tend to be a solitaire. It is better this way. Also as a solitaire I'm not mucked down with a lot of folderol and religious claptrap. To each their own. It is unfortunate that so many pagans are caught up in the same traps that organized religions have. Catholic pagans? Sorry, didn't mean to soapbox. Being a solitaire offers me a great deal of freedom to move into areas left alone by groups. I've always felt uncomfortable with the term Wicca and just what exactly is a witch? I'll now get a hundred different responses and some not so nice. sigh. We are who we are and we have a place on this planet. Let's not screw it up. Be who you are. - Caerdwyn"

"We all have our own lives and more often than not we have our own companies or careers. We have a simple set of things we do and I feel it keeps our rituals and friendships on generally wonderful terms for the most part. A.- Take personal responsibility for ourselves; B.- Do not blame others for misfortunes (that includes our former Christian religious backgrounds); C.- Understanding that true tolerance involves letting go of control of others; D.- That a problem is best dealt with the person involved not through 3rd 4th etc. parties... To sum everything up, I personally believe that true unity can only happen in the pagan community by the word we have heard over and over...TOLERANCE...And many people grow into this eventually. Most people if they stay with the hard parts will eventually find the courage to allow others to be who they are. I have great faith in people - especially pagans After all, it took a lot of courage for most pagans to leave the safety of this Christian society Blessings-Cindy Parker"

"You see my area is rabid with Christians who are rabid about their faith. Recently a new store opened in the area that offered herbs, hemp products, vitamins, books, etc.........This business focused on health and the benefits of herbs and good nutrition. They also began to carry some books on the Tarot, Wicca and the Occult. They were (within a month) visited by every preacher in town. The local churches now have a plan to picket the business and do away with these EVIL women! So I hope you can understand why I need to be deep in the closet here in Kentucky!"

"I try to avoid the politics of the groups because my main reason for participating with any group is to celebrate the Goddess and the God. I do however understand that when I am involved in other groups rituals, I must be flexible and participate with the mindset that they have their way of celebrating which may be different than my own-but is every much as valid and beautiful. A little flexibility and understanding goes a long way.... I don't like to burn bridges. In essence I believe we all have common ground. It's just that we have our preferences set differently."

"The in-fighting of Pagans will be our downfall if we don't correct it soon."

"As my beliefs have changed with experience, so have my needs. I am now involved with a coven in which active participation of all members is fundamental. We work best within a mutually agreed framework within which individual group teaching-facilitating is encouraged. It is tacitly understood that every member- no matter what their level of experience- has something valuable to contribute. I have found that self discipline is a natural side effect of this nurturing, encouraging environment. I have made great strides in my personal life in becoming more truly confident, empowered during my time with the coven. They have provided a network of support and unconditional love. This is IMHO what a coven is meant to be - a place in which negotiation and consensus create win-win situations."

"In my column in Coventry Greens, I have brought up the appreciation of diversity while working from our similarities. I bring this up in teaching and working with other Pagans and Wiccans as well. I think that we are letting our differences divide us too much as a whole....We need to focus more on what we have in common...But in the larger community, there should be an understanding that we all don't do things the same way and that no one way is the ONE TRUE WAY...Both on and off line increasingly, I have felt the Pagan and Wiccan community doesn't need another Christian burning times...We seem poised to do it ourselves to ourselves. If we cannot change this focus to a more syncretistic one, we will never move into mainstream acceptance- because we will be too busy squabbling among ourselves. I believe there is one reason for this-we almost all come out of conventional monotheistic backgrounds. Monotheism is essentially a religion that promotes elitism. "The ONE TRUTH the ONLY WAY. " Too many of us carry that over into Paganism as well. We need to make a conscious effort to look at other ways as well to weed and glean what will benefit us from the myriad strands of the web and to remember all those strands lead to the Center...some may be longer some shorter but they all go to the same place. We may cross from one strand to another in a circular fashion if we so desire-And even those spiral into the Center eventually. We have the freedom of choice denied most monotheistic denominations. We need to celebrate that freedom while remembering that we are all walking the same web. The Goddess does not SAVE a select group of Her children while allowing others to burn. She does not favor one tradition over another. She does not have ONE TRUE WAY- but myriad Paths to suit all. She loves us all. Celtic Druid, Alexandrian, Gardinarian, Shaman, Dianic, female, male, gay, straight, black, white, red or whatever...We are all ONE in Her Circle."

"...Actually I find the group rituals, the actual content of the rituals, to be much LESS meaningful spiritually than I do the rituals which I perform on my own. I guess that's just a long way of saying that I work with a group for the friendship/family feeling and I work on my own for communion with the Goddess/Gods."

"Your pages have been of tremendous help to me as a newcomer. When I found them it strengthened my resolve to pursue educating myself. I would like to experience working with a group but have not yet investigated where they are located in my area. I am sure you have not only assisted experienced participants, but as in my case, have given direction to other newcomers."

"I am interested in communication with others of the craft to exchange ideas and for mutual defense. I have had problems in the past working with any group because of personality clashes. I will always be willing to help or give guidance to any who ask for it truly."

"Working with pagan groups is no different that working with any other group. Human nature doesn't differentiate between religious, personal, or work-related groups. You will always find someone with whom you are compatible, as well as those with whom you have absolutely nothing in common. We must learn to be tolerant of our differences- as our similarities out-number our differences. There should be little room for a divide-and -conquer mentality within our community. The absolute beauty of the pagan community is the diversity it accepts...Whether solitary or in a group, we must strive to recognize the God and Goddess in each other- and if we honor that presence- we can successfully respect each other and work together to build and strengthen our community."

"Solitaire work is amazing. It is a true inner growth to come to know the Goddess and God personally. However unity of the Pagan community would be a positive step in combining both solitaire and group worship. As a newcomer to the religion, I find myself connected to others only via the Internet. With a lack of communication, openness, and such around the midwest area, I am left to explore- though satisfyingly- on my own."

"I firmly believe that the only way we as Pagans, Wiccans, or any of the allied paths, will ever be accepted is through education both of newcomers to the Alternative Ways and the general Pagan and Christian populations. Secrecy does have its place, but the over-emphasis that is placed on secrecy might be better applied to privacy. No one, either Pagan or Christian or of any other religion, likes to have their Spiritual Rapture- no matter what form it takes- placed on public view without their specific permission. Tolerance must work BOTH ways...."

"...Some seemed to think some of my beliefs and ways of handling things were a bit off. The feeling was mutual. But we worked together and it was a learning experience. But despite that, I remain a solitary. I work alone setting my limits as I go and testing them further when they are established."

"I am one of 2 high priestesses of a networking coven. I enjoy personal rituals, but I also enjoy the fellowship of shared rituals. There is nothing like experiencing rituals with those close to you. Covens are very like a family- and families fight together cry together and laugh together. All these are part and parcel of learning.-Luna Razelle HPs"

"...Seems to me that Tolerance needs be based on basic principles rather than rigid belief structures. The belief structures come and go with the ages, but the fundamental messages are still the same. Learn patience compassion etc. Unity then can be based not on Need, but on Values."

"...I have great faith in Pagans to overcome any adversity and to be able to strive to put forth a united front."

"I personally prefer punctuality. I'm very disdainful of the PST- Pagan Standard Time. I have been involved with three large groups in the NW and find the same attitude within. Am I to make the change and become lackadaisical as the others? I believe that Wicca is best practiced quietly at this time. Partially due to the current legal repeals, but due mainly to those individuals who don't really practice what nature has intended. Those who have learned well from books but have no practical experience also believe that Pagans have become a lazy lot saying, "Sure, it's nice that you're doing something for us"- While basking in the shade sipping some herbal tea Together we are strong and all will agree as a group. No one wants to make a stand as an individual and I really can't blame them. With the realization of the Christians dominating this nation, and crime and violence increasing... while the world is being virtually turned up-side down for the all mighty dollar. I ask you... How are we to survive? Again I say. Quietly and Cautiously- as did those before us. We will survive... At least as long as I'm living in this era."

"Witchcraft begins in the heart and spirit of the individual."

"I think I am a very happy solitary surrounded by a wonderful community of other Witches. I feel both independent and connected."

"I have noticed a tendency for there to be rivalry between covens. In my area there are a number of covens which try to outshine each other by their numbers or by their activities. There is also a considerable amount of malicious gossip which circulates from time to time. All of this is against the Rede, in my opinion. Also there are those who put other people down by saying the way they do certain things is wrong. This is generally motivated by self gratification than a desire to help or guide. It is a shame, because if my coven is anything to go by, Wicca is a fulfilling way of life- if only some people would let the rest of us get on and do it rather than trying to control us."

"I heard a lady say one day that she wanted to see a Wiccan Church in every city in the world. I hope that we never come to that. Our churches should the open fields, mountain tops, our homes. To open ourselves to the general public I believe is a step to our end."

"Meeting someone to walk the path is a very slow moving and dedicated process. You don't just find a Joe on the street and say, "Here I will teach you what I know and fill you in on my deepest secrets." I think a lot of trust is there when you meet another witch. There are very many people who have read a couple books, surfed the net, went out and bought a Pentagram, and call themselves "witches". It is a different story to actually worship the God and Goddess- as opposed to respecting them only when other witches are around. I really hope this works out. There is strength in numbers, and as many know, there are many numbers in the Wiccan community. They are just so spread and hidden that we are often times never heard. I am glad that someone is doing something to help.-Green Man"

"...When leadership is ego-centered rather than heart-centered, then there are problems."

"Unity seems to be an elusive goal. I often wonder if people join a pagan spiritual path to be part of a cool group. Paganism is outside the mainstream and as such provides a lure for many that need to have shock value. The flip side of that coin are those who have practicing for a while and sneer at any new seeker. Newbies and seekers are talked down to, especially on the net, and told to continue their search elsewhere. If we want respect as a religion, there has to come a time when we answer questions regardless of who asks them."

"My experiences have been mostly with eclectic pagan groups and they've been very positive. It's always interesting to work with other groups and see what they do differently. If we see something that we really like, we incorporate it into our rituals."

"It seems that movies like "The Craft" suddenly opened the floodgates for a lot of young, and sometimes immature people, to want to join a coven because they see it as fun to be controversial. I have been invited by three groups and only one of them really had the responsibility and maturity to practice Witchcraft. One of the people in the group I sometimes work with is a devout Catholic and incorporates certain elements into his form of worship such as calling on Archangels on the four quarters. I find that these different styles only enrich our rituals and add to the energy."

"...It's inevitable that individuals think that their way is better than anothers- that's humanity- but the fact that we're still a small group compared to the big 3 means we should at least try to stick together."

"Solitary or Group? My advice is to do what is most comfortable for you - it usually is the best choice."

"Group Dynamics however rarely work out as completely compatible. People change at different rates and in different ways, so rare is the group that lasts together more than a year or so, if that."

"If I had the opportunity to meet more Wiccans/Pagans and take part in outside ritual, I would. I cannot do so for the same reason our people are not united in a community. I am afraid of incurring the wrath of ignorance that surrounds me. I am scared that I will be stripped of my freedom to practice all together. The thought of a united church is a great one and I pray that some day we will have one outside this cyber plane. At the same time, I hope that we keep some cover of secrecy, for I would not like to leave this world in a pile of ashes. I think TWV is making a difference in the lives of our people and I thank you with all I am. I urge you to keep on doing so. Blessed be."

"Because I believe that the whole Wiccan religion is based on developing your own personal belief system and your own personal relationship with the Lord and Lady, the pagan community may not become as unified as the Witches' Voice might hope."

"...In our experience we need a grass roots effort. In order to accomplish that. Y Tylwyth Teg has been in the forefront of attempts at fostering Unity through sponsoring the Gathering of the Tribes in Georgia every year since 1977- which has always had as its theme, "Unity Through Diversity." We also founded the Universal Federation of Pagans in 1992 which at its peak membership had almost 180 trustees from diverse groups all over the world. We applaud your efforts.-Lady Cerridwen and Lord Rhuddlwm of Georgia"

"I have participated in my community on several different levels both as a leader and participant in several different groups. I prefer the term Independent to the term Solitary. I am not Solitary. I love group ritual and continue to take an active part in my community despite some negative experiences with Witch War situations. In my experience, those who are bound to the "One Right and True Wicca" are the ones who have done the most harm to the community. In order to be a strong and united people, we must build bridges between the different areas covered by the word Pagan. I am not in a coven now nor do I plan to be in one. I prefer to work with autonomous groups which do not have the pitfalls of hierarchy and power-abuse. I also have formed groups for a single-purpose ritual which disband afterward."

"I have been working on the idea of Pagan Unity for a few years now. I have seen it as our greatest weakness. What pagans fear is someone trying to become the Pagan Pope. This is what we do not need. What we do need is a strong unified political voice. That is what the outsiders will respect and that is what will be heard. We almost to the person share the same political views. Why are we not combining our voices and getting loud?"

"I am solitary only because when I discovered the Craft, I thought there weren't many like myself. I have only recently become aware that there is a huge Wiccan/pagan/witch population out there, thank the Goddess! I have also only recently talked to others like myself mostly via the Internet and electronic mail. I would love to work with a coven or group eventually if given the chance."

"A group of like-minded witches can raise more energy than I have ever experienced alone. However, working alone can allow for more intensive personal work."

"The Witchcraft community is burning in the fires of ego. Those who would Lead must be willing to truly serve... Those who would Teach ...must first be willing to truly Learn... Love is an ocean without shores. You have to jump in never to come back. You have to give up your life You can never have your life back. This isn't a path for cautious people"

"I believe that we as a group must mend together. Let's stop the witch-wars. We are all equal. It's just some of us choose to let the world know that we are witches and some don't. '"

"I call myself a Christian Witch since I believe that Christ existed and was the Son of Goddess in the same way we are all Her children. There are no doubt some Christians or people of the Jewish faith who would be horrified at my statement, but there are others who I happen to know embrace the same feelings....I suppose my message is simply that we must have Open Minds and be accepting and tolerant of the paths others walk because there is So Much We Cannot Explain. Its like flying-I get the concept of flying intellectually, but not emotionally. And Reincarnation-I do not get the concept of Reincarnation intellectually, but I sure do get it emotionally. Scientists also know the Universe is shaped in an oval and infinite and I sure as heck don't get the infinite part!"

"...People start putting their personalities ahead of their principles, then all kinds of uproar can ensue bear in mind these are human beings not legends in their own minds."

"The key to truly working with a group is to find one where there is Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. And there are groups with this out there-But I have yet to be led to one."

" I believe that witch wars arise because of the inability of the protagonists to disengage their egos for the sake of the greater good. Our strengths of ego and personality are some of our greatest gifts as pagans and witches. They also possess the potential to be that which destroys us if we do not learn to rein them in."

". Our system of leadership differs quite a bit from more traditional groups. All decisions are voted upon by ALL members. There are no set leaders in our coven. Each coven in our church decides for themselves if they wish to practice the following method of leadership, but it is by no means required. For the High Priest and HPS position...we elect them every three months. The current HPS has a term of six months from Mayday to Samhain and then a new HPS for Samhain to Mayday. The HP has a six month term from MidSummer to Yule and a new HP is elected for Yule to MidSummer. This gives each HPS to work with two partners during their term and does not allow for two greenhorns to take that position at the same time. This method has worked very well for us and continues to be a great training tool while developing an environment of equality. Unity and Diversity are our goals. We try and keep these goals in mind with everything we do with the Church."

"IMHO, I think that working with the right group provides insight into others thinking. However rushing into a group just to be in a group could be harmful. One should search for the right group.-Amanda"

"Asking a solitaire about pagan unity is like asking a ditch digger about quantum physics. We know its out there, and we know it's needed, but we can't really talk in any informed way about it. But I do have opinions. Someone once said that unifying pagans is like trying to herd cats. We all have definite opinions on which direction we're supposed to be and NOT supposed to be going. Whose banner shall we unify under? Who do we want to be associated and not associated with? There are people out there who by necessity are still in the broom closet. Can one be a part of a high profile group and still remain anonymous? Do pagans need to unify in some way? Yes. Can it be done? Ehhhhh...hmmmm... I'll get back to you on that one!-Lilith Silverhair"

"The reason I have not joined any groups is that those who operate are not trustworthy in my area. You never know what you are getting into. Those who claimed to be Wiccan certainly were not. The Craft needs to get together in order to allow those who search for true membership to be able to easily find those who legitimately are Wiccans. Mystery religions have done too much to hide themselves from those who persecute them. Understandable, but they also hide from those who wish to join and as a result allow for so called witches or covens to spring up and new recruits who know no better are brainwashed by the so called witches. In order to show we are not devil worshippers, we must be more open with the world. The question of what we are hiding invariably comes up. We must unite and stand tall. Allow new recruits to join legitimate covens. The axiom when the student is ready the teacher will come sounds nice, but in this age, it is not applicable."

"...Pagan Unity IS possible-all it needs is for pagans to realize that they are bound by a common thread to all their pagan sisters and brothers-thus realizing that by accentuating their likenesses, learning from their differences that they then allow everyone the freedom they themselves wish to be afforded.-Roland Wordstone"

"...we work pretty well together....we come in perfect love and perfect trust to celebrate our spiritual endeavors... not our differences..."

"It lifts my heart to know there are so many others following the Old Paths like myself..."

"...nothing has ever dimmed my love for the Ancient Ones. As I see it now unity is something Witches Pagans and other magickal people can no longer avoid. It is imperative to our survival and to the future of our planet and people to come together to work toward a future for all of our children."

"I think that your quest for unity among pagans of various traditions is a very important one. We need to encourage pagans to support each other and present a united front to people with the power to make laws and decisions concerning religious freedom. We need each other."

"If ONLY others on the path will remember, it is our differences that make us unique...instead of differences making the workings of some stupid war"

"When we unite, we will strong and able to enlighten others of the true nature of our beautiful ways. Stand together not apart."

"Anyone choosing this path should be aware that this is no game. This is not a go to church when you feel like it religion. This is a way of life. It permeates everything we do and everything we feel each and every day. Look learn and listen. Help your brothers and sisters of The Craft to do the same. -Rowan"

"Regardless of tradition, sect, group, etc., the success of *true* Pagan unity will build upon hard work of the spirit and the mind."

"The worst part of working with people towards any type of gathering - is people tend to want to fit things into 'when it is convenient" for them- rather than choose a time and then fit their lives around the time. I feel if it's important enough, you then figure out how to arrange it. A commitment seems to be the scariest thing in the world to our society. Its only okay if I feel like it that day- and something better doesn't come along in the mean time I don't have to do anything for- and it has to be my way. Its a shame we don't apply these principles to war - they would never happen."

"...As for witch wars. Have people totally forgotten our main rule "An it harm none, do what thou will."? It's a very simple rule and I cannot see how anyone can misinterpret it. Only when one allows ego or pride to overshadow the basic sense of right and wrong, do witch wars come about..."

"I work alone mostly because the majority of group experiences I've had have been negative have seen dishonesty and power-tripping. There was mental abuse of me and others. Early on, I was solitary because of not being able to locate a group. Now I am solitary by choice."

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