Old Teen Essays
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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4515
Age Group: Adult
Posted: June 11th. 2001
Building a Circle of Trust
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
It was one of those moments that can take a person by surprise. It happened -as this type of thing often does- when Wren wasn't even looking. In fact, it all began with an accident. Laden down with bags of breadcrumbs, fishy food, peanuts and birdseed, Wren frequently thinks that humans really could use an extra hand or two. (Retractable ones would be nice, don't you think?) And this was definitely one of those times. Poised by the shore of the little pond -standing in that the magickal place where land, water and sky meet- Wren's juggling act came up squarely against the limitations of arm-hand paucity. Splash! Into the little pond went the bag of breadcrumbs. Setting everything else down on the sandy beach, Wren folded up her knees, went into her best imitation of a power squat and set about rescuing the crumb bag before it disappeared beneath the waters.
As Wren hauled herself upright -dripping baggie now firmly in hand- she caught a glimpse of something white to her left. Still only halfway erect, she glanced in that direction. Standing there- no more than six inches away- was the snowy egret. Now as egrets are about 3 feet tall, this put the egret and the Wren at equal eye level with each other. Yellow eyes met blue. Neither moved until the egret shifted his gaze slightly over and beyond Wren's silver-haired head. Wren glanced to the right. And there -no more than six inches away- stood the stork. Again wild eyes met human ones. Straightening up to her full height, Wren glanced around the shoreline. There were the laughing gulls with their dark little heads and white-starched-shirt fronts waiting by the water's edge for breakfast. Wren let out a chuckle for they looked like a uniformed private school group of kids waiting for a bus. And there were the turtles lined up by the edge of the little pond.. and the fish beyond them.. and the moorhen with her Lil' Chick mincing along -and it's a miracle in itself that a critter with feet like those could actually do anything even close to a 'mince'- the grassy bank. And then it hit. Just as something unexpected can enter the mind during meditation -and to Wren these early morning breakfast meetings are a form of meditation- she felt the magick. Wren was standing within a circle of trust.
'Trust' is defined as "to have belief or confidence in the honesty, goodness, skill or safety of a person, organization or thing." Wren never asked any of the critters to 'trust' her. She never demanded that they do so in order to get their portion of the breakfast buffet. She simply went out every morning at about the same time with a clear mind, a pocket full of good-peanut-intentions and a load of assorted critter-goodies. The trust thing just sort of happened. Or did it?
Trust is a concept that many people talk about. Wiccan Pagans invoke the mantra of 'perfect love and perfect trust' as an example of what the relationship of coven members or of fellow Wiccans should embody. Wiccan Pagans are also sometimes disappointed or even terribly hurt when their own 'trust' in this belief is betrayed by someone. Many well-intentioned Pagans start up a web site, an e-zine, a community project, a coven or a campaign only to be disappointed when other Pagans do not immediately flock to support it. They are puzzled by the seeming lack of response and may even become bitter about what they perceive as a deficit of caring concern or involvement on the part of the community. At some deeper level, they may even feel that people are perhaps more than a little jaded and unwilling to trust them. And they would be just a little right. Trust does not happen 'at first sight'. Trust takes time to develop. And trust does have its boundaries.
Wren and the critters have figured out amongst themselves where the lines are drawn. Wren does not take liberties with the natural boundary that lies between humans and beasties. Some critters-like the squirrels- are just naturally more 'friendly' than others. It doesn't take much before one can have a squirrel literally 'eating out of one's hand'. But other critters are designed by nature to be more skittish or more aggressive. And some critters have perhaps been hurt by humans before. Wren does not try to get closer to the 'skittish' or 'previously hurt' ones than what they are comfortable with. She also trusts that the aggressive critters (egrets are, after all, predators) will not overstep the boundaries and go for her hand with an athame-beak.
Trust comes with time. And both the amount of time that it will take to build trust and how closely that one will ultimately be trusted will vary from individual to individual and from situation to situation. If various promises of being the 'ultimate web site for Pagan whatever' has time and time again not lived up to the promises, then the newest-and-latest promise of being the 'ultimate web site for Pagan whatever' will probably not be unconditionally accepted in the first five minutes of inception either. However, if over time the web site DOES continue to produce what it has promised to produce, trust will build. And the same thing holds true for other Pagan causes, projects, individuals and groups.
Trust is built through observation. One cannot insist, assume or demand that others trust him/her. In order to build trust, one must demonstrate that one is indeed trustworthy. This means showing up when one says one will show up. It means doing what one promised to do. It means understanding the boundaries of another person's 'comfort zone' and honoring the right for any individual to come around (or not to come around) in his/her own way and time.
Building trust also requires a good amount of consistency. Everyone has bad days. Everyone -no matter how committed to a principle or a cause-has times when they just don't want to show up or do something. Most trustworthy people will do it anyway because 'a promise is a promise' and even if they have not 'officially' promised anyone else or their Gods to do a thing, they have made a promise to themselves. It is called commitment. Trustworthy people take commitments seriously. Not that Nature does not have a built-in tolerance for the occasional 'Oh, I overslept' moment. Sometimes, Wren and Fritz go away over night to visit some friends. Happily, the critters do not immediately lose faith in the Wren Breakfast Buffet and declare, "See! I told you that you could never trust those humans!" because of an occasional scheduling glitch. Of course, if this began to happen more and more often, the clientele might rightly begin to drift elsewhere.
And that brings us to the most difficult aspect of trust: Sometimes one just has to take a chance and trust oneself. When no information is available from which to draw a conclusion about a person, organization or plan of action, one simply must rely on one's own experience, judgement and/or intuition. If you have generally been right about reading people or have been successful in choosing which actions to perform in past situations, you can probably trust yourself to do the right here as well. And if that little nagging voice inside of you says "Uh-uh!" don't let your head-or anyone else's head- talk you into ignoring the inner-warning-system. There IS something that you have picked on-even if you can't explain it or prove it or put your finger on it-that is trying to tell you, "Not yet. Not now." Learning to trust yourself comes from experience, too-- and most of us have at one time or another mind-talked over that 'little voice' only to find out later that 'uh-uh' really meant 'run like that monster that you always knew lived under bed was nipping at your heels'! Yep! Put another notch in your trusty life-experience belt for that one.
Trust doesn't 'just happen' but it can happen so naturally, in such an organic manner, that it is only upon reflection that one can see how it developed. As Wren finished up with the Breakfast Buffet Club and walked across the grass to the stairs, she let her gaze fall upon all of the various critters and fishies and birds. In a few hours, the blazing eye of the Florida sun would be staring down the earth. The Buffet Crowd would be off to do some sensible resting in their secret shady spots and Wren would be off to- hopefully as sensibly- write another little nature tale for the weekly update. But tomorrow morning, the Circle of Trust would come together again in that magickal place where the earth, the water and the sky meet.
Anyone-whether young or old, experienced or new, solitary or covenmate, naive or jaded, skittish or brave- can begin to build a new Circle of Trust. Show up. Be consistent. Honor another's boundaries. Walk your talk. Be trustworthy. Do what you say that are going to do even if you don't always feel like doing it. Build a Circle of Trust in your area. It's simple really. Just start with yourself.
Walk in love and Light,
The Witches' Voice Inc.
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