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Is it even possible?
(Part 1 of 2)
Click HERE for part Two of this series
We have all seen the growth of the Pagan community either in our own personal experiences or just through the availability of new books and other resources where just 10 years ago there were very few to choose from. While we have been excited to have others with whom to share our beliefs, we have also been dismayed at the lack of real networking among the various groups that have evolved. We have seen reactions ranging from distrust to wariness to outright hostility. The best that was achieved for a very long time was a variation of the "agree to disagree" philosophy. Why has true fellowship been so hard to attain?
With all the question marks being printed here, you are probably hoping that somewhere in this essay you will find the answers. Sorry, I don't have THE answers... but perhaps we can find possibilities that we can work on together.
In the old tribal eras, initiation was an important part of the social make up of the group mentality. The initiate would go through a series of phases. The first phase was usually that of separation. The initiate would leave all that he/she had previously known to begin a new "something" ..a "something" which was defined within the clan system. Each clan or tribe had its "set aparts" to carry on its mystery tradition. When the elder shaman or religious leader would grow old, the tribe would begin the search for the one who would take over the role. Sometimes the new initiate would be born with a sign of his/her future role or someone would be trained as he showed an aptitude for the position. Here is the familiar parallel that is found in most traditional pagan groups that have a degree system Here also are the stirrings that we have all felt that allowed us to begin our private search for a spiritual path that resonated with the tone that we felt beginning to rise up within ourselves. Most us too, left that familiar place and set out for uncharted lands.
The second phase of initiation was metamorphosis. This usually encompassed some sort of ordeal or challenge that had to be faced and overcome. In Native American tribes, it was the vision quest. In shamanic groups, it was the trip to the Underworld and the meeting of the totem animals. In the myths and legends of the world, it was the hero conquering an adversary, whether it be demon, dragon or personal foe. The encounter always left the hero forever changed. The acquisition of magical tools, attributes and skills or the hand of the rescued damsel were the physical manifestations of the change within the hero him/herself. The Grail was found and the land was healed. There are many today who have had such an encounter. We have learned new ways of seeing and experiencing realities. We too have been changed by the experience.
And that is where the third phase of the initiation process becomes evident. The hero/ine has not been sent on this path for his/her own benefit alone. Although he/she is obviously found new insights and strengths, it is not exclusively his/hers. The seeker now returns to the tribe with the prize. It is for the community at large that the initiatory process exists. For it is the community for which the new knowledge is intended. Through the experience of the chosen initiate, the entire tribe is renewed. The bridge between past and future is once more spanned. The gift is meant to be shared by all.
For us in this present time, we may still think the tribe or clan to be those of our "tradition" or family. And indeed, that has been for many years, how the initiatory experience has been kept. But now, in the advent of Cyberspace, perhaps the tribe or clan should be expanded to include ALL of the Pagan community. It may be that the rewards that seekers from so many seemingly diverse paths have brought forth have always been intended for THIS tribe. Could these precious gifts... held in reverence, nurtured and developed for decades or more...have been waiting for the correct moment, the right medium and the awakening of a real global spirit? Can this perhaps be the ultimate "vision quest"?
If we had not had certain experiences already, this would seem a naive and merely rhetorical question. But we HAVE had glimmers of a new way of seeing the world. We HAVE seen many people of different backgrounds and traditions come together to form groups dedicated to the "good of all." We HAVE seen love and cooperation throughout the Pagan community. We HAVE reached out our hand...and we have found... to our delight... that a hand was already there reaching out to us as well.
We are ALL the initiates. We are the bridges between the old tribal system of the past and the new Tribe of the future. We live somewhere in between...somewhere between the old science and the new quantum physics...between the old religious hierarchies and the new holographic vision of oneness...between the difference in terminologies that separate and shared meanings that connect us as spiritual beings...between the visible and the invisible. We walk between the worlds together.
We have been through the first phase of separation. We have found the path was one that was somehow personal and yet often lonely...but for us, it was necessary. We are changed by the experience forever. We ARE different. We have passed through the second phase of metamorphosis. We have gained the objects of the quest.
Now it is up to us to decide. Who are these magickal gifts meant for? Who will be made whole? Who will be told of the promises of the Old Ones? Who will benefit and who will carry on the quest after us? What IS for the "good of all"?
The Earth cries to be healed. The celestial fires of the Old Ones are dimmed in the glare of city lights and the young have no one to teach them the many ways of wisdom.
With whom shall we share our gifts?
The Universe waits for us to answer...
(Chairperson - Witches' Voice)
(c) February 2nd, 1997
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