A Story of Unity and Division
Article ID: 11847
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,596
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Author: Rowan Swiftwolf
Posted: June 24th. 2007
Times Viewed: 2,255
In my seven years as a witch, I have seen tides change and churn. I helped form a student organization and created a Yahoo group to network pagans.
I served as Administrator (student organization President) until I graduated from Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) in December 2004. Afterwards, I held the position of Community Liaison until SEMO became stricter about prominent organization positions. Then I created the Yahoo group Southeast Missouri Pagan Community Center (SEMOPCC) to network Pagans in Southeast Missouri.
Upon my departure from the student organization, I noticed that a fissure had occurred. For some reason, select members of student organization and another pagan group were attacking one another. The next thing I knew, I was receiving personal potshots. As anyone involved could attest to, I did not enjoy this. Hence, my reason for speaking out now.
I am tired of seeing people who could put their energies to better use insulting each other. I have tried to reach out to both with little to no success. The individuals involved have no intention of coming to a resolution. Maybe a public scolding is what they need. Heads up! I’m wielding the paddle.
The dominant world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) have a sense of unity, which goes above and beyond human influence. Why can’t paganism have that too? Most of their denominations have structure without suppression of thought. Yes, they have extremists, but that is only a small portion of their populations. In some cases, the extremists are not considering part of the whole.
Just because someone believes differently doesn’t mean that he/she isn’t a good person. Actions speak louder than words. Many true religious believers unconsciously incorporate their faith into their daily lives. These people are the religious majority. They don’t go around preaching most of the time. They are average people living average lives.
Those of us in the pagan community that are disgusted with the mudslinging are the average people. Mostly, these folks don’t give the correction the time and effort to fix the problem. They would rather place their energies into living life rather than influencing it. The ones stepping up to the plate to turn the tide in the “right direction” are usually the extremists. This has to stop.
The average Pagan is usually broke or barely making ends meet. Paganism can get expensive with all the tools and travel. The typical Pagan usually has the rudimentary altar and skills. This is due the business of consumerism. This is why Pagans need more unification. Through personal alliance, paganism could surpass the majority. It is human to desire organization.
Some traditions have degree programs to allow their patrons to progress in spirituality. This training takes years and will never be complete. Learning is not something a person stops doing. It is as natural as breathing. Thank you structured traditions.
However, this structure ends up dividing groups instead of uniting them. The linear progression of degree programs has members occasionally comparing and contrasting calibers of power. This is not good.
I have found that separating certain goals but still keeping them equal is the best solution. This conclusion has also been reaching by the organization that I consider a family, Church of the Blessed Moon (CBM). Our group, through considerable debate and rejection of ideas, has come up with the best spiritual progressive track that I could ever dream of.
CBM’s paths are based on what position a person wants to hold in the group. The paths are Guardian, Witch, Priest/Priestess, and Mother/Father.
The Guardian path is for individuals who don’t want a position of power or considerable structure but only want to participate in activities.
The Witch path is for those who want to play a bigger part in the group without being a leader.
The Priest/Priestess path is for those who want to be a leader in CBM.
Finally, The Mother/Father path is for those who want to strike out on their own and form his/her own group or coven.
These paths are nonlinear. Each person can choose whichever path they choose at anytime. This is structure without total commitment.
A chasm still exists in the Pagan community, especially in religiously suppressed regions. Unlike dominant religion, paganism lacks structure. Unity is a fickle mistress. She bands people together but brings them closer to bickering. It is up to each entity on which turn to take in the progression of spiritual fulfillment and moral enlightenment.
This disunity has caused a lashing-out at other belief systems.
When a person is considered a philosophical minority, he/she tends to go on the defensive. People tend to fight fire with fire. A common predicament is Christian bashing. Staunch pagans disagree with Christian dogma. However, this is no reason to fire bigotry at it. They are free to believe how they wish; at least they believe in something greater than themselves.
Negativity breeds hate. Hate benefits no one. We need to set aside our petty past transgressions and come together.
In conclusion, Pagans, no matter what structure or fluidity, need to unite and stop the hypocritical stampede that will backfire in the future. I have seen communities crumble and die because of petty human bigotry. Organizations such as Pagan Unity Campaign, the Witches’ Voice, and other alliance groups have begun rolling the ball of unity through live and online means.
Life is not a spectator sport. It requires drive, choice, and energy. If you are not willing to make the effort to progress your life to the best that it can get, then get help. There are plenty of people, Pagan and non-Pagan alike that have solutions.
To borrow a quote from my mostly Christian upbringing, “Where God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”.
I choose to be a window.
I have had doors closed, locked, and slammed in my face. I choose not to give up. I may protest until I’m either blue in the face or hoarse, but I will not stop. When I need help, I find another window. When a door is closed, I look for another way.
Paganism needs unity. “United we stand, divided we fall” (a United States motto).
Location: Cape Girardeau, Missouri
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