Articles/Essays From Pagans
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A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
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Witchcraft from the Outside
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Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
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June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
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My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
Magic in Sentences
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Minority Religions and Community
Article ID: 15254
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: November 11th. 2012
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Let's face it, Neopagans, we are a minority. There are still some who live in fear of repercussions if it were ever to get out what their religious calling may be. Assuming we are discussing those who are serious in regards to the various Neopagan traditions and not the fly by nights that come and go, we dwindle in numbers in comparison to the Abrahamic, Buddhist, and Hindu religions. Then when we get into the individual traditions within Neopaganism, we could be talking about only a few thousand in a world of billions that actually believe and practice as we do. Finding a local group to practice with, especially with some of the more obscure traditions, can be near impossible at times. It is the simple fact and so, I write this for all those Neopagans who have never been able to experience a face-to-face community of like minds, but find their understanding from the depths of the Internet realm.
Prior to the ability to globally communicate in seconds, some local areas had Neopagan communities that fostered a decent number of people from time to time. This all depended on if you knew where to look to find them. Usually the specialty new age store was a good place to find local newspapers that had listings of ways to get in touch with others of like religious tendencies. There might even be the occasional corkboard where others could put out word of the groups they were looking to start.
In the early days of the internet, a person had to already know what the web address was to get in contact with others of that tradition (or so one of the "Elders" of my tradition told me) , limiting the number of people who would see such postings. Eventually social networking sites broadened the horizons of many people who may have never realized that there were others of like mind to communicate with. In the early days of email groups and chat rooms, Neopagans began finding their teachers and mentors or just those groups where what they believed finally "made sense." Sites like livejournal, then MySpace, and now Facebook gave people the opportunity to find their Internet corkboard to ask their questions, find their groups and discuss their beliefs. Those who didn't even know there was a larger community now had 24/7 access to information to help them on their way.
We look at this progression and we see a shift in understanding. We have many "Elders" who have taken advantage of the wide array of communications networks available that weren't available 20 years ago. We have young adults that now have very easy access to not only information, but also people to discuss that information with. And, unfortunately, we have those who dwell on the idea of "well in my day, we didn't have all this new fangled technology, so if you don't do it the way I did, then you're doing it wrong."
While those latter particular folks may embrace the Internet social networks from time to time, they only see it as a way to kill some time. When they were starting out, either you found a local community or you suffered alone. Maybe you were lucky enough to find some self-addressed stamped envelope correspondence course, but those were few and far between. You sat in solitude with your books and you did it all by yourself. The earlier mentioned folks didn't get the luxury of an easy to reach group of people until this technology became available, so they can't seem to fathom the idea of anyone on the Internet considering themselves part of a community.
If we go back to what community originally meant, we find the word "common" at the source. Farthest back tracing we see, "from Pre-Indo-European *ko-moin-i- "held in common, " compound adjective formed from *ko- "together" + *moi-n-, suffixed form of root *mei- "change, exchange."* Depending on the definition, you'll see a mix of "those who share a common place" to "those who share a common idea." When looking at these definitions, is an Internet community actually a community?
If we can consider the intangible, in between space of everywhere and nowhere, known as the Internet a place, then yes, those who come online to discuss various topics, do indeed share a common place. In the sense of this discussion, do those who get together to discuss Neopaganism, or even religion in general, share a common idea? Absolutely. That's the point of those people seeking each other out, to discuss the common ideas and beliefs that bring them together in the first place.
So how does one go about sharing a religion when we never look each other in the eyes? True, a picture is worth a thousand words, but I can still paint a pretty decent picture with words, in less than half of that. Otherwise, what is the point of books? Think of the Internet as an interactive book, except your questions are answered immediately. How do I create an altar? What are the stories of the Gods? What types of rituals should I try? And, getting into more mystical discussions, "I had a vision of a deity today and this is what I learned from it. Does that make sense to anyone else?"
With greater connecting technologies coming that will allow real time face to face discussions over the shared computer screen, the possibilities seem to be growing on how one can connect to a community through the net, which they are possibly lacking in the immediate area. The possibility of having interactive rituals in real time that could bring about a communal experience for people in different countries, in different time zones, at the exact same time, is becoming a real possibility. Imagine if that ritual experience moved on from words, to an actual shared experience. How amazing is that possibility?
Is such a thing a replacement for a living breathing community that, in that moment shares the exact same piece of land, fire and food? No. And no one is saying it should be, but the bigger picture is that we are a minority, many times reaching out for a community. No one in today's society, with today's technology, should be left out because of the limitations of the past nor denied a place in modern Neopagan traditions because of their location on the planet.
Should the goal be a working local community? In my opinion, yes. Should the lack thereof be a barrier because one doesn't have such a thing? If one isn't working in a mystery tradition, then absolutely not. It's time for people to embrace the possibilities and accept that not everyone will be able to foster a face-to-face relationship with those of the same tradition. Even when other Neopagans find each other, there can be a vast array of traditions mixed together. It is time to put the "this is the way I had to do it" mindset behind, respect the technology, and be appreciative of "community" wherever it can be found.
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