Where is the Neo Pagan Community?
Article ID: 14566
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Crick [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: May 15th. 2011
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I have been watching Neo Paganism since about 1960. And the one thing that neo pagans love to talk about is ‘community’. My question; is where is this much vaulted ‘community’ amongst neo pagans? If one cuts through the hype and takes an honest pragmatic view, there are some serious concerns to be raised.
It is well known that a flamboyant gentleman, who in all probability had ulterior motives in relation to his taste in women, started his brand of neo paganism back in the early to mid 1950’s. He took a few facts and mixed it with a whole lot of fantasy, which he altered at will. He started off by denying the existence of true pagans around the world in his quest to reinvent the pagan wheel. After his last attempt to alter his own written tenets in regards to his brand of neo paganism in an attempt to install a younger woman as his High Priestess, his movement fell apart.
In the early 1960’s, remnants of his former gathering re-ignited the neo pagan movement in such a way as to create an elitist class of neo pagans. One of their tenets was that all of their members were witches but not all witches were included as their members. This, of course, is an oxymoron since true witchcraft is based upon individuality and the freedom to experiment with the forces in life to see what works for the individual.
Since the group seeking elitism amongst their peers was essentially of European descent and primarily of Christian background, their tenets were and are based in large part on their Christian upbringing. This is to say that such a group cloaked themselves into a set dogma with little room for growth. And thus to claim to be witches and yet adhere to a dogma based upon Christian tenets is like the old adage of having your cake and eating it too. This would hardly seem to be a way to contribute to community, neo pagan or otherwise. But as the years have gone on even these elitist attempts have fallen by the wayside.
Today, anyone can purchase a 101-book put out by this group and then proclaim to be a member. But again, where does this contribute to a viable community? As Neo Paganism stumbles forward, one sees various groups spring up here and there that proclaim themselves to be the Gods’ gift to neo paganism.
Very seldom will these self-proclaimed groups reach out in support of other such groups in their area. For each such group is not interested in true community amongst neo pagans. They prefer instead to adulate themselves and to seek out their personal agendas, which cater to their individual egos, rather than to the general benefit of the community at large. And usually in a short period of time, such groups devolve to a few active individuals doing all of the work before they, too, fall by the wayside due to burn out. And then they will point a finger at the nebulous ‘community’ and cry foul for lack of support… little realizing that it was their own narrow agendas that contributed to their demise.
Across the neo pagan landscape, there are a multitude of such ‘ghost towns’, if you will. For in neo paganism unlike in true pagan communities around the world, there is no direction or consensus of what neo paganism is about. And of course, let’s not overlook the many commercial affairs that have sprung up courtesy of the neo pagan concept. These commercial enterprises will cloak themselves in neo pagan banners and then charge a week’s wages for someone to vend at their affair or a day’s pay for folks to come out and spend yet more money while visiting their business.
Is this what neo paganism community is about?
In true pagan communities around the world, folks gather simply for the concept of community. They gather to share ideas and camaraderie with like-minded folks. Not to make a buck like some snake oil salesman. In true pagan communities, when an elder/teacher takes on a student, it is not to make money off of that student, but to enrich that student’s life and to pass on the heritage and traditions of that particular pagan belief.
Why does everything have to have a price tag in the neo pagan community? Do neo pagans want to continue to emulate the Abrahamic practices of enriching oneself through its members or do they sincerely want to learn the mystical lore of life?
And still neo pagans continue to talk about ‘community’. This is a good thing within itself, except that the majority of such talk is over the Internet. Take five hundred of these folks away from their computers and take them on a walk in the woods and then ask them to point out ten medicinal plants. You may get two or three who are capable of such a simple task. Is this the standard of community that depicts neo paganism? And why take a time honored standard of belief and knowledge that began with the very first humans and then essentially deny its continuance in favor of a movement that was begun on questionable tenets. Why even have the word “neo”? Does such arrogance contribute to a sense of true community?
And so today, the neo pagan community is essentially an empty concept that folks toss about on the Internet. Is this really what neo pagans want to be a part of? At what point do the apathetic hanger-on’s go back to their Abrahamic religions where they are told when to sit, when to stand, when to put money in the collection plate and leave paganism -- less the neo -- to folks who are truly interested in learning the mystical arts? And to folks who are truly interested in breaking free of the bondage of dogma and thus to find the strength and freedom to grow spiritually? In short, when do neo pagans stand up and be counted as real pagans who are interested in, and involved in, a true and viable pagan community?
Do you have what it takes? Can you step away from your computer and step outside and engage Mother Nature? Can you reach out and support those of a truly like mind and join them at the park or in the woods or atop a mountain… free of charge? In short, are you ready to create a true “pagan” community?
Location: Manheim, Pennsylvania
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