Your comments on - Working with Groups Page 2
Article ID: 2032
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,892
Times Read: 3,905
Author: Pagan Communities
Posted: September 16th. 1997
Times Viewed: 3,905
Initial Thoughts from the Community (the first 4 days)
Comments on working with Groups/Solitaire Page #2
(as of Saturday 7/26/97 10:43 pm)
"Working alone is wonderful for personal development and self-knowledge, but nothing beats the energy friendship and pure connected love that working in groups offers in abundance."
"When working with groups I have found that tolerance is key. When I lead a group, I must put aside my own preferences to help others grow along the paths that are right for them. When I'm a member of a group, I must put up with the leaders choices even when I don't agree. Yet, I cannot imagine practicing my religion without contact and group ritual. I have learned a great deal through these experiences - not all of it easy or happy. And I hope I've been able to give something back. Unity will not happen until many people make choices like this. I do not like all these people, nor would I choose to do magic with them all, yet they are part of my community and it is my job to learn from them and help them if I can. If they violate clear standards ,e.g. sex with minors, I will join the community in rejecting them -yet I cannot reject them simply because they haven't read the same books I have or may behave in ways I find annoying."
"I have seen politics cause real problems in groups, but I personally have managed not to involve myself when I saw the outcome as being pointless. The one witch war I experienced actually resolved itself rather peacefully. Unity is necessary, but political wars erupt over ego-issues. It is nearly impossible to find a group without ego-driven political issues. This is unfortunate because there are too many outside forces already battling against us. We don't need in-fighting. I am solitary for a reason. Ego-driven politics is the one main reason why I don't belong to a coven."
"...Working with the group effort as well as being solitary has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. I will not list them as most practitioners are acutely aware of them. However, the most disturbing thing I have found in working with groups or within a coven is the political nature that, over time, becomes predominate within the structure of the group. People struggling to become number one, although it is a lofty goal for personal attainment, is mostly done for the physical power of it. The benefits of group working definitely outweigh the slight problems of working with as opposed to working without. The solitary traditions tend to be more free thinking and aware of personal limits that need to be focused on to better themselves in their Craft. However, the stance of a solitary is usually shunned by more established groups."
"I am solitary only. Wicca is more of a personal belief system at this point as I live in a small Southern town. I have always wanted to work in groups, but at the same time I am quite leery of them. I am afraid that I will somehow fall into something and have my beliefs exploited."
"Working with a group is the one of the fastest and most challenging ways to encourage spiritual growth. There are things that can only be triggered by group work, but at the same time there is value in doing solitary ritual work even while being a member of a group."
"Would I ever work in a group...yes. If the right one came along. Solitaire working is fine...but lonely. I think solitaires run a greater risk of stagnating....of not growing to their full potential. But as a solitaire, you also have more freedom of expression and you have to work harder to bring all the things a group takes for granted into your rituals."
"...Getting that group to work collectively was difficult until I encouraged vision questing. With a place to go in collective vision, we have found a common meeting place where we can do rituals and healings. I'd like nothing better than to assist in developing tolerance and compassion amongst Witches, Wiccans and Pagans.- Pam Headley"
"It is very interesting to find that within the survey at no point did you include any questions on the practice of magick or worship of ones god/goddess without the use of ritual. I personally do not do any form of ritual. Magick and worship for me are more a matter of everyday living. Something that is around me 24-7 without the need for setting aside a certain time for such things. Perhaps this is something that you could consider for the future. We are all very much different in our lives, paths, and workings; and surveys such as this would be a tremendous help in educating others on the great many pathways out there -if thought of in a bit broader of terms."
"I believe we are of the EARTH- that everything and everyone is connected. -Susan"
"I also like to stay out of the politics of different groups."
"I find group workings to be highly rewarding, not just for the amount of energy generated, but for the companionship involved. Having a working group who you love and trust can also help with the tensions between groups. There is usually someone in your group who loves you enough to take tell you that pursuing a grievance against another group might be emotionally satisfying, but it is detrimental to you and the community in the long run. They also give you a safety net to vent in without it going out into the community at large."
"I do believe we all, as Pagans, have a certain amount of things in common to make unity possible- even if its only the barest of skeletons as a base to work from."
"May you all walk in light and remember your friends out there who wish they could have the same chance you have- which is to meet each other and rejoice together.-Aysenil Bilget"
"I had never even heard of the Pagan community until a year ago when one brave woman in Mississippi posted a flyer seeking to begin a nature based religion study group. It quickly formed into an eclectic magick working group. Finally, I feel at home. I think it is wonderful that there are people all over the world also searching and learning and that communication is now possible. I believe that unity is a worthwhile and achievable goal. -From No Longer Alone In The Bible Belt"
"Group work is a wonderful thing when all in the group are respectful and open minded. I definitely prefer a group setting to my days as a solitaire. The problem, as I see it, is that Pagans in general are raging individualists. While this is a beautiful thing it also makes organizing Pagans like "herding cats." Therefore, it seems to me that small groups with similar goals and ideals are the ones that work best in the long run."
"I truly believe we must unite and take a stand with the power of all to hold us upright- alone we are sure to fail. I have not had much experience with large groups, but do believe it can work if we all really want this to work, I think we can turn the world back to the gracious child it was and should be. But only together. Thanks for listening and may all your paths shine bright."
"...I have enemies because I am Pagan. We need to get together and talk about what we have in common. We need to learn from each other and not snipe over who gets to be a real Witch. ...I don't want to be cynical about my religion, my friends in the religion or other people who practice some version of it. Honestly, and I have said this before, I think everyone's looking for safety. When we feel that the safety is threatened, we go on the warpath to preserve it--and then destroy it for everyone else. I have seen this phenomenon as a Bisexual woman and a feminist. Sign my name to it. Thank you for your BRILLIANT website. Thank you for this survey. Blessed be--Jayelle Lukash"
"Most people that I come in contact learn very quickly my views on Pagan unity. I have stressed for some time the need for us to join umbrella churches or other organizations which would give us a common ground while giving each parish the freedom for expression. I proudly come from a mainline religious background and often question the stubbornness of individualism of some Pagan groups. If we are in theory teaching a return to a world view or a group consciousness, why can we not surrender to it as well? I often point out to those who don't agree that mainline churches also have the same difficulties with administrative dogma and personal or group expression. However, they also understand the context of their practice within the larger organization. They understand the umbrella is protecting them and providing them with real resources while at the same time asking for support of its agenda. I would add another question to the survey. As a member of a solitary or a group would you join a church or group? Would you consider following the doctrine of an umbrella organization for the support of your practice? Would you become a member and financially support a parish which could provide you with professional clergy?-Paula Van Houten"
"I find that working with a group can be most satisfying, but many times I prefer to work solitary. Time constraints and spur of the moment workings often make it impossible to get the entire group together...I also feel... as many do...that herding Pagans is like "herding cats"...I have been involved in those Witch wars...and still am to a certain degree...both locally and nationally...and those wars are definitely non-productive."
"Unity is something that Neo-pagans are going to have strive for if we plan on spending the 21st century out of the broom closet. No one path is more correct than any other. It is what works for you that matters. Getting that idea into some peoples heads is like looking for water in the desert. Not impossible, just darn difficult. I personally would enjoy working with groups, but everytime I observe one, I notice that they spend most of their time bickering about minor things instead of learning and experiencing. Debate is a fine learning tool....not the lesson itself. Best of Everything-Soraya."
"Where I live the groups that maintain secrecy about themselves and their traditions are generally the same groups who rarely wish work other groups- but are the first to complain when not consulted about area events. It seems people need to choose between being publicly active in the Pagan community and community at large- or quietly stay in the broom closet."
"What I get from a group I could never get from being a solitary. The community and support is different. The dynamics of magickal workings are different. Synergy is real in that there are things we can do as a group that I could never manage working alone. I consider my coven-mates family. They are my Clan and Tribe. One of the major reasons I helped put our tradition together is that sense of being family that we share. That tribal bond is what unifies us despite a variety of personal differences in theology or beliefs. Bright blessings. Cecylyna Brightsword. HPS Thalia Clan Eclectic Wiccan Community"
"A true community based on trust and respect. Equal regard for the individual and for the group. Something that will still be thriving two or three generations from now"
"Working with groups involves a lot of compromise in one form or another."
"Solitaries miss so much of the family feeling we have whenever we cast the circle- and join hearts and hands to call the power."
"I am a Witch. I yearn for a sense of community. I yearn for a mentor. I yearn for some religious study and development. I would like to teach my kids what it is to be a Witch."
"Neo-Paganism is not nearly mature enough to stand on its own with out dragging others down in its stubble to be its own platform. It hasn't gelled into anything of form yet. Trying to get it hold one is as ridiculous as trying to get The Trekkies to stand up for something. I mean who cares about a unified Trekkiedom? If there was going to Unification, there would be far more organic unification occurring than there currently is. It would be a far more natural thing. No, the time isn't yet right for a new Beginning. Give it time to teach itself a few lessons, to build more of an oversoul and then try, but not now. It is far too early. What is intended after this unification happens anyway? World peace? The end of hunger ? Come on! What IS the plan? I'll still be here patiently exchanging secrets with the universe in its time, not mine."
"I think it is important that everyone at one time or another work with people of different paths. I honestly feel that this allows one to grow not only as a religious person, but as a person in general."
"In the traditions that I am familiar with, an initiate of the HP and HPS are NO more than guides for the student to the Gods and to help the student look within themselves- and BETTER themselves. We are NO more than teachers of the traditions and in the ways of our people....There are many really gifted and creative people involved in the Craft and their input can really make or break the current that is raised in a working. And it is always nice to experience something that is a charge moreso than a dud...The Craft is so liberal on the outside, that there will always be maniacal zealots and charlatans round every corner bastardizing our Laws and ways to suit their needs and bringing many needy people down with them. Also, because of the differing personalities and human nature, there will always be disputes. There are disputes within EVERY religion because there are those who think there is only ONE right and true way -when in fact there ISN'T and NEVER will be. Religion and human nature are very complex and one cannot exist without an aspect of the other. *Neither* can exist without the other. Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if only I were a goldfish ..."
"I'm for unity as long as its unity for strength. The kind of unity the Christians have is something that will not work with Witches, in my opinion. I'm referring to different Christian sects denying respect and honor to other sects-like the Baptists calling the Roman Catholic's "satanic". Thank you, Wren and Fritz, for allowing solitaries like myself to see that unity is possible. And for helping us to have rituals with others of different traditions.-Ripples"
"The coven I am working with is basically a group of solitary worshippers who are trying to establish a basis for Pagan Unity. This has been the subject of lively discussion within our group. We are attuned to different pantheons, we use different tools, different methods. Yet we recognize that we are all working to achieve a common end. One of the questions we are facing is how would we write rituals that are relevant to each member that recognizes our differences, yet celebrates our common purpose. We discovered early on that there are some paths that will not be compatible with our purpose-at least not without major compromise from every one involved. We decided that the best thing we could do in that situation is to network with other groups in our area and maintain cordialties as far as practical. In the event that a person who practices a path incompatible with our group wishes to petition for membership, we can direct them to another group whose practice would likely be more compatible with theirs. I am interested in the concept of Pagan Unity. I believe it is possible-that we can find common ground for unity while respecting differences. But then I'm an optimist."
"Too many people play political games in groups especially in groups that follow a tradition in lock-step pecking orders. I LIKE my forest-green robes, so don't tell me that I now have to wear a different color to go with a different level. Don't tell me I MUST have an athame other than my finger. Don't tell me I MUST have a sword for rituals....and don't tell me that there is only ONE way to practice...This ain't the Army, it's witchery and you roll your own beliefs."
"I believe that the Lord and Lady will hear each of us whether in a group or alone in the trees or the shower. Unity amongst ourselves is important because of the needs of the individual to feel a part of a group with the support and love that come about in a good group. But for those who either do not wish to or are unable to work within a group, the Lady loves them all the same. In the words of the great singer Todd Allen," The bigger the circle, the more love grows..." and we are all a part of the circle- if only in our love of the Goddess"
"I come from a long line of broom closeted witches who never let themselves be known to anyone outside of family- and seldom spoke openly within their families- but I think it is time we stop letting a few very vocal, very rabid individuals-with ideals designed only to control people- keep us down and hidden. Each day, I peek a little further out of my broom closet and look forward to the day we can all take the doors off those closets for good."
"As for Pagan Unity, it takes a little participation from everyone and a few reasonably clear understandings to work. We're talking about true like-mindedness. Let me ask you a question. Since we are talking about a very large group of seemingly individuals that are working with their respective intuitions on a regular basis- and it's a safe assumption that they listen to how things feel to them more so than most-How do they, simply put, feel about Pagan Unity? This questionnaire is very analytical which is good for information management, but if you want to direct this at a Pagan community, it needs to interact with their intuition more. Challenge everyone to tap into that universal consciousness that we talk about and tap into our intuitive guidance. Do what feels right. We have all heard that the more you learn about the craft, the more you are called to serve. We are sharing a lot of community oriented problems as our ancestors did and have an opportunity to come together and take the challenge to solve them. There are those that simply will not get the call to participate in Pagan Unity issues, but I bet the number of Pagans who are moved to participate are staggering. Putting up with persecution in this century is not something humans are known for. Why should we continue pretending to be anything less than human? Creatively Yours-Argus Ironsong"
"Our group is committed to community building....I think unity is important to help and protect us legally. Love and blessings-Sharon"
"...There is a lot of foolishness that I have seen in my local Pagan/Wiccan community. Like any group of people... I have seen people do terrible and hurtful things to each other out of misguided sets of loyalties or beliefs that certain spiritual practices are mutually exclusive. But I still hold out a hope that Pagans will find a galvanizing and positive vision to take us forward... in unity... into the next century of pathworking."
"First off let me say thank you for doing this. I think that it is long overdue. Pagan Unity is something that has been very much on my mind for a little over a year and I truly feel that it is something whose time has come....One of the things that drew me originally to Wicca and the Pagan faith is its acceptance, but that can also be one of its weaknesses as well.... I can see where some people can still get some very pretty scary opinions of the rest of us. I think that this is one of the reasons why I feel that some sort of Pagan Unity is essential if we are to combat discrimination and persecution. We need to show people of other faiths and those who are looking for a path for themselves that we are here, there are lots of us, and we are really for the most part really good and caring people. This is not going to be an easy task, but there must be a common ground that we can use to build on....Do know that Pagan Unity is something that I am very willing to work toward and to work on."
"...I would be in the front line of any movement to unite the Pagan and Wiccan groups. I have friends who are Native Americans, Dianic, etc. Each person has the right to follow the path that they believe to be right. Jim Trudy and Aradia"
"...I only know that I became a Pagan to open my mind..."
"The unity thing... We need it. Pagans need to stand up and be counted. Our values are valid and should be voiced."
"I realize that we are working toward becoming more respected globally, but we have to teach respect from within first if we expect to receive it as a whole. I have been a Pagan for more than 14 years, but was without a tradition until about 2 years ago. I studied them all but couldn't commit to one- until Druidry. I have no regrets, but pulling no punches here...we have a lot of work to do folks.-Tay"
"Unity would be a wonderful thing, but there are far too many self-styled pagans which don't have any real dedication to anything other than their image- and how they can use it to manipulate others. I consider myself a tolerant person, but I think the Pagan community is far to ready to accept the ignorant and insincere into their ranks."
"I have found that there is a lot of power struggles among some Pagan groups. And a lot of he-said, she-said. To me, this is trivial... Granted, it is hard sometimes to work within a group with conflicting ideas, but I think a lot of Pagan folk have forgotten to be open to new ideas from others. That is how many of us learned about and started to practice Paganism in the first place. It is probably about time that we sat back and remembered that."
"Working with groups allows me to learn about other peoples' paths and builds a better tolerance of other paths from my own."
"In the context of unifying the Earth Spirit Community, I'm not sure exactly how any of the above questions relate or tie in. Regardless of tradition belief system, path, tradition, and/or size of group, the main goal ought to be coming together in some common purpose. That is what we at Earth Tribe have been trying to accomplish for years. Our main problem has been to educate folks that it doesn't matter what their personal and sacred aspects are...neither does it matter what their tradition or path...neither does it matter if they are initiated part of a group or solitaire. What matters is the cause or common ground. In a coalition, you may find Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Protestants, BHai, Pagans, etc.-all of whom would in many cases be diametrically opposed in many ways- who come together with one purpose of...say...homelessness or race relations or social justice. We of Earth Tribe have been gathering folks from Native American spirituality, folks who consider themselves Earth People but not Pagan, various traditions of Paganism, Rainbows, etc. on the common ground of Liberty and Freedom for ALL -- which encompasses religious freedom as well as other freedom issues. In such togetherness, nothing matters nor is discussed, except the common ground issues. Nothing sacred or secret is ever sacrificed; no person or group has to relinquish autonomy, etc. Earth Tribe is working to build such a coalition as an umbrella."
"If we but respect each other-and our choices- Pagan unity is inevitable."
"Our diversity should bring us together, not tear us apart-InannaIsisNuit Oasis"
"If people could just stop bickering and realize that to gain mainstream tolerance, we must all join together and GET ALONG. In a lot of places, it's the Pagans against other Pagans. Doesn't our path teach TOLERANCE?"
"We should accept each other- along with our differences- and recognize that it is only together that we will withstand the attacks from outside. If we attack each other from within, we are doomed to an existence of solitary persecution- and a world that will not change to be a better place for either us or our children."
"I believe there is definitely more than one path to spiritual fulfillment and that mine is not that of others. There's room for all paths in this world and it disturbs me to no end when the many and varied Pagan/Wiccan/Witch etc. paths act toward each other as the Christian sects do - with total intolerance and insistence that my path is THE path. Amazing that they haven't figured out just how much damage that thought does- especially when we are the minority religions and that the mainstream religions are increasingly well-organized and politically aware. We NEED unity now more than ever"
"Working with like minded people helps to bring out the best and most powerful in a person. When you are a solitaire, you have no one to stimulate your mind and your energies."
"Personally, politics is a big reason why I left the church years ago. I believe in standing in Unity with others of like mind as well as being a part of the education of others, yes. I would like to see us formally recognized as a religion, but tend to shy away from the political ends. Does this make sense?-Diana"
"Please allow me to clarify some answers.., I long for Unity of Pagans. The Unity that can be world wide. Through the ages, our Gods/Goddess have given us opportunity to share the wonder, joy, and comfort with each other. I believe it is possible to have Unity in the Pagan Community. I also am a realist. There will be internal conflicts and hurt feelings and strong discussions. These are normal growing pains experienced by all families. Pagan Unity would create a great and wonderful and strong family. We must be ready and willing to work at this and to be able to listen to each other. I believe it will take a lot of work to achieve this. I also believe it is an attainable goal. Bright Blessings and Lighted Paths-Renee C. McCarty"
"We each still do solitary work, but our work together is strikingly powerful. In the past year we've begun sharing rituals with another local pagan group- Gardnerian tradition- and are talking about the need for a pagan council or community locally. I think that the spirit is on the move. The time may be coming to move yet another step. Perhaps forming grove groups committed to retaining their individual flavor, yet committed to a greater relationship and good lies beyond the solitary group idea. Imagine the power to be raised and turned to good!--shari"
"...I have gotten so used to working by myself and only sharing my work with friends, I am a little intimidated by the idea of working with a group. I am also a very independent person and think I would feel suffocated by the structure of a group, but since I have never actually worked with a real coven, I could be wrong. If I find one that I think is legitimate, I am certainly willing to try."
"I would love to join a local temple or church, however I don't know if I would trust it at first."
"I was solitary for most of my life being pagan since age 11. Now in my second birth, I find working with my group very satisfying and working with groups outside my own not only interesting- but educational and helpful to my own spiritual growth."
"I like being able to worship exactly the way I feel is correct. It makes me feel closer to the God and Goddess."
"But then working solitary has allowed me to learn my own strengths weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. I guess I just need to keep searching for my fit within the group. "
"All said, yes, we have our differences just like all other religions/groups. It's impossible to have unity without some differences/conflicts, but Pagans are the nicest people as a whole I have ever come across- and I'm sure we can all work out what differences we may have."
"The most important lesson I learned about group cohesiveness is that everyone needs to agree to disagree and on what subjects. The basis of the group needs true agreement, but the rest of the stuff people should be allowed and expect to disagree and everyone agree that it's OK."
"The large beauty of our Pagan lifestyles IS the Diversity it allows and the general acceptance of others... For the most part, we 'Agree To Disagree'. Most worldly cultures are not able to do this. Is unity possible? Sure. Is it likely? Not really. Disagreement does not mean that we are unable to work together and build a beneficial community."
"At some point in my life perhaps, I would enjoy the knowledge a coven could bring to me. But at this point in my learning, I feel that I myself am my best teacher. This will give me my own insight and allow me to bring them into use with others. I want the opportunity to develop my own style and flare- making me a unique individual in my Wiccan path."
"I am a member of a newly formed coven and find it a wonderful experience. All of us being new, except our HP and HPS, we have not yet been initiated. We work closely with another coven in getting together for rituals and other fun things. It is my dream come true. Blessed Be"
"Solitaire and a group is only a question of numbers. Both are equally respectable and both serve their purpose. We ARE unified already. To say we are fractured with no power base is a knee jerk reflex by those who still carry the veil of shunning. What is different? All pagans carry unity in the simple love of earth and the seasons. Whether we work as a solitaire or group, our unity is the love of the gift that we walk on every day."
"It is so hard to go your whole life not having someone to talk to about your religion- always wondering if you're doing it wrong. Always wondering if you're offending The Goddess by your pitiful attempts at ritual. Not being able to improve your skills because there is no one to tell you any different from what you're doing. Always reading books that talk about secrets and just dying to know what they are. The Internet, and The Witches Voice in particular, has been FANTASTIC...I feel like I have been brought back from the chasm of unbelief... yes, I was beginning to slip away from the Goddess. Thank you so much for all that you do."
"As a relatively new follower of this path I find it difficult to find others who believe as I do. I was a member of a coven, then it dissolved so that others in the group could study another path- shamanism. Unity is impossible when singles cannot find others of the same or similar path."
"It is much easier to raise energy in a group than alone. Still, I would rather work alone- but that is only because I am used to being alone."
"MM. I am solitary at present because I am still in my first year of practice. I occasionally will meet with others for esbats or social groups. However in order for me to be certain I am on the right path for me, I feel I must not allow myself to all under the influence of another. Sure, I wish that I could find a good teacher or a group of people who are in the same position as I. But the risk I fear is greater -in this tender life changing period- than the reward. There will come a time when I will be ready to join a group, but that time is not now. Let me first discover and solidify my beliefs."
"I am primarily a solitaire. Recently I joined a local group that I have found very satisfying. The larger statewide group has gatherings at the Sabbats and my small local group meets weekly. At first I was uneasy about doing ritual with others, but the other women in the group were so welcoming to me and it was so clear that everyone participated freely in the planning and the ritual itself, that I was comfortable almost immediately. I don't think this would have happened if I had not been practicing on my own long enough to develop a sense of what I believe and what works for me. I had enough confidence in myself when I joined the group so that I could participate as an equal and learn from the others as they learned from me."
"I have been working alone for a year but greatly desire the chance to work with others. I value community experience as a vital aspect of religious experience and regret that my attempts to find a group have thus far been unsuccessful. I strongly support any attempt to find unity within the diversity of paths that is the essence of Paganism. If we are to maintain a safe position in the larger society, and if we wish to preserve our traditions for generations to come, I believe that having a context for group communication and joint action is vital. For example when GoodMorning America slandered Witchcraft on the air it took the effort of hundreds of Pagans networking on-line to convince our detractor to issue an apology. We mobilized as a group to help create a better atmosphere for each individual. We could not have done so had we no means of organization and communication. The more we unite, the more powerful we become . . . and the more capable of creating a world in which we can practice our faiths in safety and freedom. What you are doing is great. Let me know if I can assist in any other way.-Jennifer Gertwagen"
"Merry Meet! I would love to find a group to work with and to study. I am getting ready to take my year and day. I am quite excited about it. I am currently studying the Celtic and the Faery tradition. But in my part of the country, which is the central part of Louisiana, it is very hard to find other Wiccans or Pagans. Maybe one day it will happen for me. But right now, I study and practice by myself. And I still love and cherish every bit of it. Every since the Goddess and the Gods have came into my life, I have seemed to find something that has filled a empty place in my life and in my heart. Bright Blessing to all! Blessed Be, Emerald Star"
"Having tried both, I find both satisfying in their own way but I love the rush of power available for healing or other aims provided by a well trained and experienced Coven. I have also tried to work in larger groups like Witches gatherings with as many as 140 trained and experienced Witches and the rush of power available can be almost scary. On the downside of things, it seems hard for Pagans in general to agree on matters and to cooperate. More so the larger the community of Pagans has become. I have seen this happen in Germany, Holland and Great Britain, and to a lesser degree in my own country. This can largely be attributed to the common human condition called ego. When someone is very successful within any group, and gain acceptance and acclaim, that person almost invariably develops into a power-junky. You in the US, saw this when you tried to establish the Universal Pagan Federation, or whatever the correct name was, a few years ago. It was a total disaster as too many heavy egos wanted to be recognized as the "True Leaders" of the Pagan community. The solution to my mind is to adopt a model similar to the Pagan Federation in the UK. Sure, this has its own problems, but it is the best and most thoroughly tested model for Pagan cooperation that we have seen to date- and it is now being copied all over Europe. Uniting Pagans can probably only be achieved if all are treated like equal individuals and all power games are thwarted initially. Another part of this is how we choose to disagree with those whom we do not accept as our Pagan peers- yet who see themselves as such. I have seen non-Wiccan Witches trying to condemn Wiccans, and Odinists trying to condemn all most everyone else. I always ask myself- why it is important for any group to attack any other group? It must be because they are not confident about their own truths and thus need enemies in order to rally people to their own banner. A despicable practice in any community, but more so among people who put great store in love and trust and honesty and valor. One great boon for creating unity are regional Pagan gatherings. Not too large ones as people need to get to know each other. No more than a couple of hundred at a time in my experience. I guess I could go on for ever but will end it here. I wish the Witches Voice the best of luck in their effort to help create unity among Pagans. -Dalua"
"I am a solitaire. Not by choice but by chance. I am still learning. and I really don't know where I fit in to all of this...however I am always interested in learning anything new and I am not against any particular part of the Pagan community-- for the simple reason that I have never experienced anything but helpfulness from such people. I should also point out that I live in Ireland and I know of very little people practicing as Pagans or of any shops where I can buy supplies and books. I am only starting out."
"I would love to work with a group of like minded people - but unfortunately. living in Ireland there are not many Pagans around. Those that are keep to themselves - primarily because there are still some Witchhunters around. I, on the other hand, do not care who knows about my religious beliefs- and will talk about them at the drop of a hat."
"I can't see me ever fitting into a traditional coven as I have found my own way of doing things. I have worked successfully with my partner on a few occasions, but we always have to establish who is doing what and not try to impose our own methods on each other. But I would be less comfortable in a group situation. This has a lot to do with my introverted personality and private nature. Additionally, a friend form my Net group recently had a bad experience with what can only be described as the "Coven from Hell"- which highlights the dangers of getting involved with the wrong type of people. Personally, I think it all boils down to what is right for YOU and what you feel comfortable with. Some people are loners by nature while others are more gregarious. I do think that you have to have it in you to be able to work alone though - even the best coven can't be there all the time. One thing I do disagree with is the way solitaries are sometimes seen as unfortunate 2nd class citizens- or only solitary because they haven't found the right coven. I'm solitary because I WANT to be- and I suspect a lot of others would agree with me."
"I work alone out of choice and out of necessity. I would be interested in attending group rituals, however I often feel intimidated. It is difficult to be the new guy entering an already inter-connected group of people. My personal experiences with Witches/Wiccans/Pagans have been fairly negative as well. On the internet, through e-mail, I have met some fascinating interesting caring spiritual people. However, my experience in real life has been one of snobby superiority, or down-right hostility, as I quested for information on this religion. This happened twice to me and I have been reluctant to venture out into the Witch/Wiccan/Pagan community since. I know that not all Witches/Wiccans/Pagans act this way, but I have yet to gather the courage to contact them. One more note- Being fairly new to the religion, I am always looking for teachers, guides, people to answer my questions, etc. The only people in the community who are offering this sort of information are the owners of New Age shops and so, the new practitioner of Wicca/Witchcraft/The Craft must pay for their services and for their knowledge. Not being a multi-millionaire, this is rather discouraging."
"Group work functions when people are aware and accepting of others' differences. When they are not, they fall apart. Sometimes they hive off and that can be a joyful thing. Sometimes they shatter slowly or all at once and that can be a painful thing. My experience has been with all of the above. I am initiated as a Wiccan Priest, a Christian minister, and a Voodoun practitioner. Some of these tribes communicate with each other- others do not. As a Wiccan priest, group ritual is exciting challenging and often encouraging. As a Christian minister, often it can be unnerving and exasperating from towing the line, but I have found the same thing true of often Fundamentalist Wiccan groups- the "follow my tradition or you are out of here".... There needs to be a place of unity in diversity and the free flow of ideas from solitary to group to coven to temple to the community of ideas and it is not easy. Voodoists tend to come from a tradition of a lot of communication challenges, but knowing that while my way may not be your way, we are all in this together. Let us show respect to each other or our honor is lost."
"I have found it difficult working with groups on many occasions for many different reasons during my 20 years of being a witch. Some of the problems I have experienced include-requirement to go nude, when I am not comfortable with this; men using the group to pick up women; drug and alcohol use in the group; lack of ethics by group members; lack of seriousness by group members; lack of planning and preparation by group leaders; lack of caring for the comfort and safety of group members by leaders; political nonsense; power struggles; advancing of personal agendas with no thought for the group; and using the group for socializing instead of spiritual issues and communing with the Goddess and God. I haven't been part of any group of coven for many years and I attend very few public circles. I usually celebrate the 8 holidays with close family and friends- occasionally a full moon- otherwise I am solitaire. This is not because of bad experiences with groups though, believe it or not. I just prefer the solitary path."
"I have only just started in this craft .. I am very interested and curious .. yet I wish to come under the guidance of someone experienced .. I believe I must continue to read books etc. .. and I must choose my teacher wisely...
Location: Various, Florida
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