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Growing Paganism

Author: Belladonna Laveau APs [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 26th. 2009
Times Viewed: 5,811

I have watched Wicca face many challenges over the years. We have accomplished much. We have received recognition as a valid religion. The IRS has granted church status to some Wiccan groups. We have festivals all over the US, so that we can worship together. We have many networking resources that allow us to find each other. We have tons of books on the subject. We even have books about books on Witchcraft. We have grown tremendously in numbers and in ideologies.

Today we witness a variety of concerns. We want manicured temples in which to hold handfastings, wiccanings, and requiems. We want rites of passages, and to honor our seasonal celebrations as a community. We want to frequent pagan businesses, drink at pagan pubs, and send our children to pagan schools. We want to celebrate our religion locally, without having to make a major investment in camping gear, or driving to a remote location and battling the weather, so that we can worship in privacy and peace.

Today's biggest challenge to Wicca is not it's lack of volunteers, or lack of ideas, lack of heart, courage, or ambition. Our biggest challenge is lack of organization and resources. We are an amazingly, interesting, multi-talented, powerful and charismatic people. Yet we are so driven in our individualism, that we have difficulty working together as a whole.

Churches provide the many social programs that we are begging for, such as schools, food banks, community centers, and public temples. Churches provide legal protection, validate our clergy, accredit our schools, network our businesses, minister to our sick and needy, and host our seasonal celebrations. They provide religious support and social services to the community that makes our world a better place. They give us the opportunity to connect as a society and allow us to do more working together than we could do as individuals acting alone. They foster culture, such as music, art, poetry, and theater.

Churches are a vital part of a healthy community. It is through churches that each of us can find our place to serve the greater community at large.

But, we don't have many churches, and the ones that we do very closely resemble covens. They are mostly small, and have no formal meeting place. Why, with a throng of people begging for ministering, can we not provide services for our seekers? Is it because we don't believe in proselytizing? Is it because we are afraid and wanting to hide from public view? No. It's because we don't monetarily support a clerical body to freely provide religious services.

Let's be honest with ourselves, when was the last time that you went to a pagan event, and offered ANY money to the facilitator that wasn't a required fee? When was the last ritual you attended where a plate was passed to collect money? When was the last time that you got your paycheck and thought, 'I should give 10%, or 5% or even $10 to my local priestess?

Statistics prove that 99% of us would have to answer: NEVER. My question to you is, "Why not?".

For any of us to ever have the community we dream of, YOU and I have to tithe to our local groups. You can't wait until you have "extra" money, or until you see others doing it. YOU have to set the example. YOU have to make it a priority. You have to decide to budget it in. You choose to spend your money on what's important to you. You can choose to set aside some for the Goddess, or you can choose not to.

We wonder why other churches don't take us seriously, but we have been sending a very clear message to our government, our community and our clergy that while our books, candles, herbs and crystals are very important to us, our religious institutions are not.

I run a church. It used to be a coven, now it's a legal entity under the umbrella of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. I am asked to tithe 10% of our receivables to the mother church monthly. There are many affiliates, who utilize the resources that the ATC has to offer. It costs the ATC about $75, 000 a year to provide the services that we enjoy. Less than $1, 000 of that money comes from Tithes.

The church must charge a fee for their celebrations in order to raise this money, or they would not have the funds needed to continue operations. Last year, I invested over $20, 000 on my personal resources into our church. I received less than $500.00 in tithes from our members, which is a marked improvement from the year before.

Say what you will about charging for spells, that's not what I'm talking about. It's true that making money off the craft can lead one down a dark road. But, I ask you, when is the last time you suspected a High Priestess of purchasing a new car on embezzled church funds? We are not in jeopardy of making anyone rich off the pagan community, yet.

I strongly encourage you to be watchful of your leaders. Immediately quit giving your money to anyone, whom you feel is misappropriating it. Don't support ANY leaders, whom you do not feel deserves an energy exchange for their services. But, if you participate in a community, find some way to give back, even if it's just the spare change you collect in a bowl on your altar.

Many of you volunteer your time and services. This is important. The community runs on volunteerism. But, services don't pay the light bill. It won't buy land or a building. Time, talent, and treasure together make up an appropriate offering to the Goddess. It doesn't take a lot of money. If every one of the people, who considers me their spiritual leader, were to give me $1 a month, I could open a public temple and sit in it all day planning free public events, teaching free classes, and giving readings, healings, and free spiritual counseling to the community. Each of us could have an on call spiritual leader, if we'd work together to support the ones who are already doing the work. Isn't that the world we would rather live in?

We have become jaded against the idea of giving money, but it's only through pooling our mutual resources that we will ever have the common services that other religions enjoy. Churches provide the services that we are asking for. We don't have these services, because we aren't supporting our local pagan ministries, so that they have the resources to grow these services for us. Lack of tithing, donating, offering, or sponsoring is the single biggest obstacle Wicca faces today.

Our spiritual institutions have already overcome many obstacles as a religion, such as getting the government to put Pentacles on military headstones. But, the one obstacle that stands looming over every pagan leader is lack of funding.

It's time we changed that.


Belladonna Laveau APs

Location: Index, Washington


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