Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 9th. 2014 ...
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The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
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The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
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Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
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What Makes Us What We Are
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Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
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The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
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February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
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The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
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Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
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Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
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Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
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December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
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Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
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A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
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October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
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September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
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Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Pagan Aversion to Organization: Benefit or Detriment?
Article ID: 10931
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,759
Times Read: 3,070
RSS Views: 79,702
Author: Morgan Ravenwood
Posted: August 20th. 2006
Times Viewed: 3,070
Recently, in a Pagan-themed message board I belong to, the issue of organization as it pertains to the Pagan community arose and very quickly developed into a hotly debated topic that I’ve since encountered in other online groups. It seems there are two very definite schools of thought on organization in Paganism: you’re either for it or against it. And while the majority was opposed (some vehemently so) to any hint of Paganism becoming an “organized” religion, I don’t think a lot of those folks have really stopped to consider the issue thoroughly.
In her book “Book of Shadows, “ Phyllis Curott bemoaned the fact that the public hall her first coven met in was shared with other groups who often left it less than tidy. I think her group was lucky even to obtain a public meeting room in the first place; it’s often difficult to do, especially if and when you indicate to the property owners that you’ll be holding Pagan meetings. In my aforementioned message board, one Wiccan High Priestess bravely declared that she would be very happy if her coven actually owned their own building. Yet another person voiced an aversion to holding meetings in a closed building (not surprising, given the Pagan fondness for conducting outdoor rituals and meetings whenever possible), but instead suggested an indoor/outdoor temple-style building (with four walls and a covered space in case of inclement weather, but with an open courtyard). Other ideas and concerns sprang forth, but I felt that the mere fact that at least some people were willing to consider such options was a step in the right direction.
Believe me, I do NOT want to see Paganism become another “big business” religion. What I DO want is for it to be given serious, equal consideration by our government as well as by the members of other faiths. Never has this consideration been more important than now, when the slightest suggestion that members of Wicca should be entitled to funds distributed by George W. Bush’s Faith-Based funding initiative has often been greeted with howls of protest—and laughter. Many Pagans are familiar by now with the occurrence on the CNN show “Spin Room, “ in which Bill Press and Tucker Carlson cracked jokes about the fact that there are no Wiccan hospitals because “you’d have to sacrifice a chicken to get in” (gee, I happen to think that a Wiccan hospital would be a great idea—there certainly are enough gifted Wiccan healers!)
Another instance of prejudice against Paganism is Indiana Representative Souder’s statement on the House floor in April 2000 that “it is unlikely under President Bush that the Witches would get funding” under Bush’s faith-based program, which of course is no surprise since the President himself has stated that HE doesn’t believe Wicca is a religion and furthermore made it very clear that he doesn’t think anyone else should believe it, either. Stephen Goldsmith, the Domestic Policy Advisor to the President, denigrated Wicca during an interview on “McLaughlin’s One on One,” saying that he did not think “Wiccans would meet the standard of being humane providers of domestic violence shelters” (I guess he took that chicken joke a little too seriously!)
With attitudes like these abounding, it is obvious that Pagans still have a long, hard row to hoe in attaining religious equality. If we really want to achieve it, however, we must begin by demanding it, which, by necessity, requires some mutual collaboration and cooperation. THEN we have to present some semblance of a united front (and yes, at least a little bit of that dreaded “organization”!). The fact that we lack this important element has been the excuse consistently given by the Veterans Administration for not allowing the pentacle symbol to be placed on the headstones of Wiccan veterans. Solidarity must be the order of the day, or we’ll be forever going around in circles, and not just in a ritual setting! If some of us wish to apply for that faith-based program funding (and in view of all the opposition, I don’t see how we could afford NOT to), we cannot give an address of “the nearest grove” as our headquarters. This leads to the very important issue of establishing a permanent base of operations.
In my city a couple of years ago a small synagogue was built across the street from a massive Southern Baptist church, which drew my admiration for the pluck of the Jewish folks in daring to build it there (until then, they had been meeting at various Christian churches around town). I half expected the place to be firebombed or something equally dramatic, but it remains unmolested to this day. Though this wouldn’t be the case in some areas, I think that it’s an indicator that the human race in the United States is slowly adopting a more tolerant attitude towards those whose beliefs and practices deviate from the Christian “norm.”
Naturally, there are two sides to everything, and I’m trying my best to try to understand why some Pagans are so doggedly against incorporating even a small degree of organization into their belief structure. Perhaps the nomadic streak we’re famous for is inbred to a certain extent; many of us had ancestors who traveled frequently, living in portable camps that could be moved at a moment’s notice. And given the Pagan preference for meeting outdoors in serene, natural settings such as a forest or beach, the aversion to conducting rituals and meetings in closed buildings is understandable. But I think I speak for many others who live in densely populated areas when I say that as much as I would like to conduct all my rituals outdoors, it often isn’t easy to find a secure spot for such things and especially if any ritual nudity is involved. This difficulty is evidenced by the flak resulting from a Beltane ritual that was conducted in what the participants thought was a secluded yard in Toledo, Ohio, but was nonetheless intruded upon by a curious neighbor who then called the police. The “May King” wound up with a misdemeanor charge of public indecency brewing against him that could have netted him 30 days in the hoosegow and a $250 fine in addition to the sanctimonious public condemnation of his “good Christian” neighbors splattered all over the pages of the local newspaper.
Nobody, but nobody, deserves THAT kind of publicity or notoriety for the “crime” of simply practicing his or her religion. This kind of complication is what turns a lot of us into “living room Wiccans” to quote Scott Cunningham, and as one myself, I can attest to the fact that you still can perform very effective rituals in such a setting. There are often space constraints, however, especially in the case of apartment dwellers.
The other half of the “organization” pie is the one that concerns how we as Pagans present ourselves to the world at large, and just who among us is considered to qualify as enough of a Pagan “leader” to officially represent the Pagan community. The Covenant of the Goddess has done some great work in this direction, but a lot of Pagans I’ve spoken with complain about the difficulty in becoming a member of that group, as well as the fact that their own beliefs differ from those of some of the COG leaders (and those from CUUPS as well). Sometimes it seems to me as if we need a “United Nations” of and for Pagans just to help us iron out our differences with each other! All the too-frequent infighting is nothing but a detriment to the Pagan community, and the sooner some are able to see this, the sooner we can begin to work on bigger issues like gaining recognition and acceptance among the mainstream faiths through education (or, as I call it, “fear abatement and prevention”). This is vital to our being able to continue practicing our religion openly and without the real or perceived threat of persecution.
Organization need not be viewed as being derogatory or harmful to Paganism. There are many varying degrees of organization, and I think that the Pagan community has matured enough to be able to integrate just the right amount to make Paganism a stronger force to be reckoned with. I believe that the groundwork we lay now will have far-reaching benefits for many Pagan generations to come.
Location: Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Author's Profile: To learn more about Morgan Ravenwood - Click HERE
Bio: Morgan Ravenwood has been an Eclectic Wiccan and writer for over 30 years and was the facilitator of the first Pagan group in her area, Desert Moon Circle. She is also a dedicated equal-rights activist and has conducted extensive research on hate crimes and persecution against Pagans.
Other Articles: Morgan Ravenwood has posted 7 additional articles- View them?
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