The Pagan Community That Could|
Posted: June 24th. 2002
Times Viewed: 6,264
Okay, I admit it. You surprised me. If there was one thing that I thought I could count upon it was the fact that the various Pagan and other related communities would rally for a cause that they believed in. Gods, was I ever wrong about that! During the last month, as the voting for the Webby Awards was already in full swing, we here at TWV remarked that it was rather an outrage that no Pagan sites were considered and suggested that you might want to cast your vote to get a Pagan site-any Pagan site- into the running.
And what did you do? Did you rally? Oh no, you most definitely did not rally. You charged. You snatched up that banner of Pagan Pride, you ran with it and you kept on going until you saw that banner firmly planted and flying high over the polls. Yeah, yeah...enough with the mounted cavalry metaphors, Wren...
But the point is, I was surprised. I, who thought that I knew you, certainly thought that I had a good handle on just what you are capable of, was simply and utterly astounded by your response. So yes, you surprised me. With all of your devotion to your faiths and religions, with your eloquent sense of identity, with your sheer determination to make an impact, you surprised even me. I am almost at a loss for words. Sit back down. I said 'almost'. You see those paragraphs down below there, don't ya? I obviously managed to scrape up a word or two. Oh c'mon, don't start counting them! Feelin' a little cocky with that Webby tucked into your belt, now aren't ya? Well, good. You earned it.
Now I know that some of you voted for Witchvox even though you don't even necessarily like what we do here. (What? You think that I don't read the message boards?) And that's okay if you don't. We know that we can't be all things to all Pagans. I know too that a good number of you embrace a faith other than a strictly Neo-Pagan path or religion. But some of you voted for us, too. And the fact that you did-even if you had to hold your nose while you did it- demonstrated a willingness to set personal agendas aside -at least temporarily- in order to support a wider goal. That impressed me. That impressed me a whole lot. And it encourages me to believe that despite our differences- as Neo-Pagans and Asatruar and Recons and Witches- that we can come to some sort of agreement in the future. Not a compromise, not a concession, but an agreement as to how we can interact with one another with more mutual respect and civility. I hope so anyway.
In the cyber world that is the Internet, we've been doing this work and maintaining this web site for a long time. We've seen Pagan web sites and organizations and Pagan message boards come and go. Many have changed, many have restructured, many are gone forever and many new ones have arisen in their stead. It is perhaps odd to think of something that is so obviously technological, so much constructed of mere metal and circuits and plastic, as being organic. But that is the best way to describe the Pagan communities of the cyber world. Just as nature builds something, which then dies off only to be rebuilt again, so have you done the same via your use of this medium. You have found that some things have a short life and some things have a longer life and that is just how it is.
You have also realized that it is okay to try something new just to see if it works. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, but that isn't what is important. What is important is that you tried. It takes guts to be the first one to try out some new idea or format. That is how we learn. So kudos to all of you Pagan entrepreneurs and trailblazers out there. Keep on experimenting. Keep on stretching the boundaries between what seems impossible and what can be done. If anyone can teach the world a thing or two about thinking outside of that damned proverbial box, it's you.
Because we here at TWV are blessed to hear from so many of you and from so many different beliefs, paths, religions and perspectives, we feel that we are offered a wide overview of the larger Pagan communities and the groups and factions that make them up. This has been both a boon and a bane. On one hand, we get to see how much we all have in common and that is always encouraging. On the other hand, we also encounter the very serious stumbling blocks that are set in the path of Pagan community interactions. The choices thus far have been to establish more closeted communities catering to just those who follow a similar path/religion or to open up large community forums where everyone is welcome to come on in and duke it out. I've had a case of bloody knuckles myself from time to time.
Actually, these two formats are not mutually exclusive in and of themselves. It is apparent (from our perspective) that many of you do continue to visit and participate in both venues. And that is a pretty healthy and realistic approach. Sometimes one needs to just bitch with others of like mind and sometimes one desires to get out and interact with a larger community that may or may not believe as you do. (Our friends over at Beliefnet have done an excellent job creating interactive interfaith forums and also providing some areas for each special group or religion. So congratulations to the folks at Beliefnet on their well-deserved Webby!)
You have also become much more proactive in your approach to challenges than you used to be. It doesn't take a claim of religious discrimination or a negative news article to get you all fired up anymore. Now, you come out for and support positive changes and community projects (and not just Pagan causes) and- wonder of all wonders- you even initiate these projects yourselves. Pagans have a lot of fire. We've had to have it to get where we are today. Even those of us who have been around for a long time (And I can't believe that I just used that so obviously 'Old Guard' phrase myself) would be hard pressed to put our fingers on just the moment when the shift from reactive to proactive occurred. But it did occur. What we do with that newfound perspective remains in the future. But I, for one, am excited to know that we indeed have a future. I trust that we will not squander it away by fighting amongst ourselves, but that we will -together- use it wisely.
Paganism is not a fad. We are not going to fade away or jump on the next new and flashy crystal-waving faith-based bandwagon to come along. We are in it for the long haul because this is about who we are just as much as it is about what we believe. Paganism is both a cultural and a spiritual revolution of thought and of practice. The various communities have beaten the odds, overcome the resistance and proven their right to be seriously considered. New Pagan and/or reconstructed/revived Heathen religions and paths exist. They exist...Do you realize how rare an occurrence that really is in the vast expanse of human development and evolution?
New religions, such as modern Wicca, are not formed every day. Even less are the odds that a new religion will survive the death of its founder and still be going and growing after ten, let alone some fifty, years. Attempts at reconstructing (I like the term 'reviving') a religion such as Asatru also face daunting odds. Yet a word, which many of us had never even heard of twenty years ago, is now well known throughout the Pagan world and continues to build upon its foundation and lore. While these two religions seem to be the two opposing sides of the scale in belief and practice, they do share one thing in common: They have survived. By the Gods, they have survived!
The rise of Paganism isn't a rally; it's a rout. Pagans are indeed everywhere and nothing proved that more than the turnout and vote for the Webbys last week. (I would love to get my hands on those numbers!) The Webby was never about Witchvox; it was always about you. You, who are our inspiration. You, who are both the daemon we sometimes wrestle and the guiding spirit that we always embrace. It was all about you. It is always about you for me and for us at TWV. And yet, still, you surprised even me. With your exuberance, with your passion, with your fire, you surprised even me.
I have always believed that the Pagan/Heathen communities had the potential to be great. I have always believed that the Pagan/Heathen communities could do anything that they set their hearts and spirits to do. I have always believed in what the Pagan/Heathen communities could in theory do.
But you surprised me. You showed me, you showed us, and you showed the world, just what it is that the Pagan/Heathen communities alreadycan do.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, June 24th., 2002
Photo Credit: Photo of Daniella Waterhawk (right WebSite) and Dana Davis (left WebSite) taken by Fritz Jung.
Article ID: 4566
Age Group: Adult
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