International Pagan Friendship Join in the Adventure of Awakening Gaia
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Article ID: 10798
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,840
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Author: Singing Crow
Posted: July 9th. 2006
Times Viewed: 3,306
A year ago I was finishing the final semester at my university, contemplating the endless web of possibilities that lay before me. This was a time when knowing where to go and what to do was quite difficult. For me, it was pure chaos, but the reason for this confusion was because something amazing happened in my life: during my last years of study: I had found the Goddess and the Horned God alive in all of Nature and within me. Thus, everything had changed: my goals, my opinions, my entire world paradigm. The more I researched and learned about the sacred feminine and about Magick, the more I saw that I would never be able to live in the plastic existence I was expected to enter after university. Then something unexpected happened.
While browsing the Internet for various job options I came upon something that surprised me: international work through TEFL, teaching English as a foreign language. All over the planet there are schools and training centers where applicants with either a college degree (in any field) or several years of professional work experience can enroll in teacher-training courses, usually around one month in duration. Some schools are better than others, and a decent school will have positive accounts from its graduates. Uncertain of what I would do in the United States or to what purpose I would do it, I decided for the uncertain; I decided for adventure: I decided to teach abroad.
The city I chose to train in was Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, and I think it was one of the best decisions of my life. The city is alive with history and culture; the city weaves an enchantment around its guests (if they are bold enough to embrace it) in a continuous trail of captivating treasures of art and wild parties. If you have any interest in historical European architecture (Prague has buildings from almost every era), theatre, great beer, symphony, or wonderful operas, then Prague is the city to come to. The month of training was very challenging—I won’t lie—but that time was a great learning experience. And after I completed the course I found a job teaching in the city of Liberec, an hour north of Prague, where I’ve been living to this day. Now what does this have to do with Pagans accelerating the Awakening of Gaia? Everything. Let me tell you the other story, the adventure behind the adventure, a spiritual awakening that became not only individual but collective.
Before I flew over, I sent an e-mail to another Pagan English teacher in Prague, a teacher from England who was also on Witchvox (and who is now a good friend). We had a good chat online, and that was all that I knew of the Pagan community in the Czech Republic. But it wasn’t until I moved to Europe that I met my friend Eurik, a Czech Pagan, that I learned how vast and vibrant the community of Czech Pagans really is. Through travels to teahouses, adventures in the mountains, and hilarious parties, I was introduced to some of the most wonderful, colorful people I have ever met.
Only 17 years ago, the present-day Czech Republic was Communist Czechoslovakia, and any kind of religion was by and large illegal—or at least well suppressed. Thus, the Czechs have had to start from scratch in building a community around the Goddess. But a warmer and stronger community I have rarely ever seen. My friends Eurik, Baraka, and Zahrada (“Garden” in Czech) are in their 20s and have risen to the occasion of providing leadership and organization for the growing Pagan community in their country. It has been so refreshing for me, after seeing and hearing so much about the hierarchical desires for domination by some Pagans in the States, to see my friends rising to a strong yet totally non-authoritarian leadership role. This way of being has deeply inspired me. My friend Zahrada has written one of the first original books on Wicca in Czech by a Czech author, and my buddy Eurik has made a Web site giving detailed information on rituals and methods of working Magick for Czech-speaking Internet users. Their efforts have inspired many Czechs, young and old, to explore and experience the power and the beauty of the God and the Goddess. I believe that these actions are nothing less than a historical contribution to the healing of our planet.
(One little point, though, please don’t go abroad as a “master” to make sure the world is following the “right way,” whatever people may think that is! This world has enough self-styled gurus; what it needs is friends. Plus, good connections are never guaranteed; that depends entirely on how open and friendly you are.) Strong life experience is cherished by us younger Pagans, however, and if one travels to exchange stories and humbly impart some of knowledge that one has picked up in life, well, that would be tremendously helpful. Humility is one of the most important lessons that I have learned; there is always a piece of knowledge that is new around the corner yet to be learned.
So allow me to present something of a list of the individual opportunities, as well as benefits for global unity, that await any Pagan brave enough and adventurous enough to try the experience of teaching abroad. First, and perhaps foremost, living abroad will almost surely open one’s mind to the broad and diverse panorama of cultures and ways of life across our planet. I remember in the United States, when I encountered things in the system that I couldn’t stand, older people often told me, “That’s just the way it is.¨ Nothing could be further from the truth—the world is what you make of it. I now know this personally from my own experiences. There is a multitude of different lifestyles and cultures across our planet and a vast array of Magickal methods and histories. For example, my friend Cody, a Czech Ceremonial Magician and fellow Chaos Wizard, told of the ways in which Czech Magi had to practice and research in secret during Communist times. This was an inspiration to me, as I’ll soon be returning to—what I consider—the semi-Fascist views of the United States Establishment, concerning religious and psychedelic freedom. It is small thinking not to struggle and overcome “laws¨ that oppress Human Rights; this I have learned in my travels.
I also believe that this kind of experience makes an individual stronger, psychologically and spiritually. The mental securities of a well-known home region that have upheld one’s reality vanish; all the little things that one takes for granted suddenly become sorely missed. Alone in a new world, one must reach for the strength of the Goddess in ways that I believe can’t be found in one’s own hometown. This adventure is not for the weak, but it is good, for when one must seek the subtle strength of the God and the Goddess, they will answer one—but not in ways that one can predict or control. To survive on a soul level, one must find the Spirit within—and come to know that It has always been there, waiting to nourish one.
Many of us may find that purchasing books on the Goddess, Magick, and/or mysticism is a relatively easy thing to do, but finding the time to read through each of them can be very challenging in the time-consuming bustle of our current society. It is common, especially for those who become Pagan in an environment rich in research, such as at college, to end up with far more material than we can read. Sound familiar?
As far as books go, I strongly encourage any adventuring Pagans to bring more than you think you can read, for two reasons. In some countries, especially those with a primary language that is not commonly taught in English-speaking countries, there can come times of isolation, especially in the long, cold sleep of winter, when you will find time to read more than you could have thought possible. My example is from living in the Czech Republic, and although I visited friends in Prague almost every weekend and hit the pubs with buddies in Liberec quite often, there was still a plethora of loose time in which I had few souls to talk with. In these times I decided to pull out all those books that I had wanted to read for so long and simply sat down and read them. To this day it still amazes me how much I have read and learned. It was almost as though I had an additional year of university, but this time with the focus entirely on Pagan mythology, Ethnobotany and Magick.
The other reason to bring extra books of the Pagan genre is the general void of material in many countries, especially post-Communist and the so-called “developing” countries. On one of my many relaxing ventures to the pub with my students (yes, it may shock you in the United States, but having a few beers with one’s students is accepted here. It is also a smart idea, a lot of fun, and fantastic speaking practice.) I found that several of them had an interest in Magick and esoteric traditions. I’ve been able to lend out several books to them, and so far the feedback and appreciation from my students and friends has been great.
We Pagans have no “one true holy book” to lean on as a crutch; we’ve got to do our own research and investigation through a myriad of different approaches and ideas. I have come to find the exchange of ideas and material between my friends, both in the States and here in Europe, to be invaluable for expanding my ideas and approaches to doing Magick. Now that I’ve seen that there is a general wealth of information on Magick and mysticism in the primary English-speaking countries (if you disagree, come over to Central/Eastern Europe and try to find any variety of books on Wicca!) I would love to see a batch of educated Pagans traveling the globe, distributing literature and collecting it in turn.
Another point of advantage in this venture—one that I love— is the vantage point that can be attained for deciding on a future direction of career. While finishing my degree back in the United States, I felt rather hemmed in as far as options went. Getting out gave me two things: perspective and confidence. I couldn’t have seen the forest for the trees, but living abroad gave me a vista from which I could see a great variety of possible careers that not only appealed to my interests but also would benefit the planetary collective.
One lesson I learned from teaching abroad is this: with determination and courage you can work anywhere. And I am not just saying that. The only thing that can limit us is ourselves. I found myself saying, “I’m teaching English in the center of Europe, exploring cities and castles, meeting fantastic people, learning more about Wicca and Magick than I could have believed … . How is this possible?” It was possible simply because I enrolled in a teaching school, got accepted, bought a ticket, flew over, and grabbed the best job that was available. It’s merely a matter of extending your hand and taking the opportunity. This year has been a life lesson in the existential limitlessness of possibility that awaits us every moment of our lives. It has also been pure inspiration for my Magick. The Four Laws of the Magus—“To Know, to Will, to Dare and to Be Silent”—have unfoldws before my very eyes. We truly are our only limit. I personally think it is difficult to see the limitlessness of our wills without leaving one’s hometown.
This next point will appeal to you philosophers out there. Living in a different country, a different continent (in so many ways a different world) will stretch the fabric of what we consider to be reality. Many times I have been blessed with moments of total reconsideration of how I define my existence and the possibilities of my role as a part of this world, as a petal in the flower of Gaia. All the things that I was brought up to believe, all the little dogmatic catch phrases, the endless streams of advertisements and federally funded thought-control have come to lose all their meaning for me. We are often so easily enslaved by the convenience-driven prejudices in Western society, but jumping out of that world, I flipped all those mind-prisons on their heads. If you feel a strong need to completely reconsider who you are, what you are doing, and why, then I further encourage some time spent abroad, making contacts with open and philosophically nourishing people around the world.
There is one point of protest against this trend of employment that should be dealt with, that point being Globalism. Many of us have done research on the harm being caused to the environment and to the people living in third world countries at the hands of predominantly English-speaking corporations. I struggled with this phenomenon for many months, wondering if I was contributing to the disappearance of cultures across the globe. Then I saw that it is only from idle obedience to the consumerist lifestyle, devoid of first-hand global experience that allows this trend. By living abroad, one takes in the education of real-life experiences crucial to contributing to the current conversation concerning Globalism. Living around the world is investing in the world, seeing it as home instead of as “other” countries from which “resources” are taken.
As this essay is being written and as it is being read, Pagans from around the world are making the first small steps of establishing bonds of surprisingly powerful friendship. From all corners of the globe Pagans of broad and diverse ethnicities are meeting and exchanging ideas, stories, and experiences. This opportunity has come about through the global demand for native English speakers to teach the language in all corners of the world. I can definitely see English becoming an international language of the Pagan community; the existence of Witchvox on a global scale already has been an enormous contributing factor to this development. Now that doesn’t mean English has to be the only language. Whether an international language erases cultures or not … well, that’s up to you. English is being taught internationally; it is happening. Whether or not it leads to a disappearance of diversity is in the hands of every citizen of the planet. It doesn’t have to lead to this loss. But I do believe that sitting on one’s backside, refusing to travel in the name of preserving cultures, is a bit of a Luddite solution to the loss of global diversity. My experiences have led me to appreciate the diverse cultures and approaches to Magick without wanting to melt them together into one blob.
It is important to note that this working is directed in a spirit of communication, not assimilation. One of the reasons many of us have embraced Pagan paths is because Pagans probably will be the last people to proselytize others. I believe that this lack of pressure to “convert” makes being in the company of Witches quite wonderful. At the same time, our planet is teeming with adventurous young mystics who are searching for information and seeking dialogue about the beauty and mystery of Gaia. In that spirit of communication, we can become the Mothers and Fathers of Global Dialogue. We can replace the current model of close-minded debate that enforces brutal competition between governments and corporations at the cost of the environment and our freedoms.
If we can foster these friendships, then foreign countries will no longer be so “foreign.” It’s pretty hard to support war or economic sanctions on a country full of your friends. As Pagans we can play a key role in diminishing the dominating society’s vision of the “other” and show that a world full of strangers is but a world full of potential friends. We can open the vision of the planet, dissolve the scourge of the “us versus them” mentality, and replace it with the mutually beneficial glories of cooperation. We can create a collective awakening of consciousness between all the diverse races and ethnicities of humanity and between all the beings who call planet Earth home.
As I conclude this essay, it is necessary to include that many of these opportunities to create nourishing, international bonds between Pagans on a global scale have been made possible only through the vision and hard work of the people who have created and funded the Internet site we are currently using: Witchvox. It was through Witchvox that I met my good friend Eurik and through him established awesome connections in the Czech Pagan community. Without the efforts of Wren, Fritz and the others who built this site and the hundreds of international Pagans who contributed financially to the support and expansion of this site, I would not have had the life-changing experience that I did. Thank you; you will always be remembered.
So in the end, if you’ve come to believe that there is no more adventure to be found on our little planet, if you’re not willing to settle for an immediate jump into the Ken-and-Barbie existence after completing college, if you need to make an exit from the oppression of the mindless, rat-in-the-maze, American work environment, if you want to be challenged and strengthened, and if you want to make friends a world away, then just get online, find a good TEFL school in a country you’ve always dreamed of visiting, enroll and—Go. May the Goddess and the God be with you as you enter into the adventure of awakening Gaia.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Singing Crow - Click HERE
Bio: Author¡¦s Bio:
Singing Crow is a writer, poet, historian and philosopher, recently having graduated university with a Bachelor¡¦s Degree in English Literature. A student of Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Terence McKenna, a novice Shaman, follower of Shiva and Odin, Chaos Wizard and all-around Wiccan. July 2006 he will return to the West Coast to activate the Awakening of Gaia through creating bonds of friendship and unity between Pagans, Environmentalists and Legalization activists. A friendly, yet desperate, young man he is eager find work in the States with any suggestions or offers from fellow Pagans quite welcome! ƒº Visit his profile and poetry at Witchvox: Singing Crow, Spokane, Washington.
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