The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
Article ID: 16086
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Niko Ravencraft [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: July 26th. 2018
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THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY UNIFICATION:
Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
By: Niko Ravencraft
June 27th, 2018
Most of us, if not all of us, reach a time in our lives and in our practices where we feel a sort of longing for community. Whether we are Solitary by nature, or a member of a private Coven, the feeling of exclusivity can be both exciting and overwhelming. For example, for those whom belong to a private Coven, while there is certainly a level of community within the walls of your circle, what of the other Witches and/or Pagans in the community in which your Coven operates? Additionally, this question may have more impact on the Witches of a Solitary variety. Are there local and communal events that are taking place? If so, are you a part of them? If not, why not? This question is probably more relevant for those of use that live either directly in or around larger cities, where more groups, Covens, and Witches in general, live and practice, but smaller towns can still feel the benefits of Unification. Why Unify, you ask? Why on Earth would you want to bring all the local groups and/or Witches/Pagans/Wiccans/Druids into the same place for at least quarterly community events? I think the more important question is, why wouldn’t you?
If your first response to the question of “Why wouldn’t you?”, is “I don’t want to be told what to do” or “I don’t feel I should have to share my practice with anyone else”, let me assure you, Unification isn’t about solidifying a dictatorship within your current place of residence. That’s not even remotely the case! To hold the desire to bring the members of the community together to invoke a sense of understanding of who is in the community, as well as how the individual groups and members can contribute to the overall wellness of the community, is truly a noble thought process. Think of the value that is being added to the community when the similarities, as well as the differences (especially) , are being taken into consideration. More importantly, think of the amount of support that would be available if everyone had access to a channel of communication to utilize in case of an emergency. Additionally, especially in areas where there is a larger number of members in the community, for events and celebrations to take place, there must be some sort of communication base established.
Each community (especially larger cities) , consist of different groups of Practitioners. While everyone may have their own path in which they feel at home, the willingness to open up about that path and share the wealth of information with others allows for those lines of communication to be established. Once these lines of communication have been erected and are accessible, the community will bring itself together. Witches, Pagans, and Mystics alike will now be able to communicate with one another, thus allowing for cross-cultural education opportunities, as well as the nurturing of Neophyte Practitioners. Unification isn’t the product of a strict dictatorship, it is the outcome of a willingness to nurture, protect, and help raise the members that reside within your community. Everyone has something to bring to the table, therefor everyone should have a voice at the table. Remembering that teachers come in all shapes, sizes, and most importantly, ages, is a strong fundamental building block of a solid community.
An example of adding value in the differences of others, as well as the collective nurturing of community members, can be seen in my own community. Being a member of a smaller community (about 120 people) , that rests in-between two of the largest cities in the USA (Milwaukee and Chicago) , it would be impossible to miss the value that each member awards one another whenever we gather. Though our community is on the smaller side, we have quite a high diversity ratio, supplying a plethora of information and knowledge that helps fuel the fire of our community. Everyone has a say, and everyone brings something different to the table. Never before have the floodgates of communication been opened so wide to where there is little chance of them ever closing again, and that is truly magnificent. The leaders within the community do not discredit other members and encourage a democracy format. In other words, the Celtic Pagans speak for themselves, the Asatru speak for themselves, the Streghe speak for themselves, and the Eclectics speak for themselves. While there is a council of leadership that embodies different members of the community, this council is simply a focal point for all ideas and products of those lines of communication to rally. We all have something to learn from one another, and the faster one recognizes that they are not in fact an incarnate of Aphrodite, Cleopatra, and Coco Chanel (all at the same time, mind you) , the faster blind faith disappears, and the easier it is for everyone to come together for the sake of belonging.
Belonging, that’s really what it’s all about—the feeling that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s knowing that you can impact others around you in a way that is positive, constructive, and protective. Unification doesn’t simply serve the community members of the present, but also provides a safe place for future members, including children of current members. How many of us wish we had been brought up in a Magical manner? I know I wished for it—for the chance to grow up with other like-minded individuals that could help me learn, grow, as well as keep me safe from prosecution. The Burning Times may be over, but there is still a great deal of intolerance in the world. Frankly, it is our responsibility to create a safe place for the next generation to learn, grow, and eventually take up the torch. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so why aren’t there more villages? There is always going to be a strength in numbers that is both irrevocable and unmeasurable in terms of energy, and thus insures the continued survival of our people.
Unification also allows for the consolidation of community funds, meaning when everyone has a say, everyone also had the chance to pitch in for community events and celebrations. Trying to find funding for public events can be extremely frustrating; we have the ideas and the drive to follow through with those ideas, but sometimes the funs are either inaccessible, or nonexistent. While there’s certainly something to be said for a potluck in the park, some events, including dances, group rituals, and even Rites of Passages require a little green in the community pot before you can really set anything in motion. I know—the thought of coming out of your own pocket in such a tight economy is scary, and most aren’t willing to fit the bill for everyone else in the community—fair enough. However, when those lines of communication are open, and connections are made, this allows for more people to work together to help fund an event.
Fundraisers, philanthropy, and even the utilization of modern crowd sourcing methods are great ways to help raise money for the community, as well as demonstrate the lighter, caring nature of Pagans in general. This will only benefit the community in the long run. Let’s face it, trying to operate in a community where you are unwelcome is always going to be a bit of a challenge. For Solitaries or smaller Covens, this can be a real issue (remember, there is power in numbers) . Unification allows for the Pagans in your area to have a voice, because everyone is on the same page. A Unified Community is really like an organization of sorts. The Community has a face, a name, and branches within the “organization” that are tailored to specific needs. With that being said, there are multitudinous opportunities for growth within your local communities, as well as opportunities to shift the tides in the favor of our people. When people have a voice within the communities in which they operate, we see a shift in consciousness. Ultimately, by unifying the members in your community, you are allowing yourselves to have that voice in a world that is still predominately Christian. Showing the “Muggles” that we have a place in this world, as well as a voice to be heard, is one of the great possibilities that comes with standing together.
Of course, in terms of recognizing the balance that life provides, Unification brings a certain amount of “sours” along with its “sweets”. One of the greatest fears that is most commonly found among practitioners is the fear of being chained to a certain Code of Ethics, or Laws prohibiting one from practicing how they see fit. This can be easily avoided by taking a blatant stance against the practice of forcing everyone to adhere to a certain Creed or set of rules, thus allowing for a true democratic format. By assuring members of the community that they are not required or expected to practice under the same banner of Paganism, this allows for the free-flow of ideas and information that is essential to the success of a unified organization.
Any and all “rules” should be established in an easy-to-understand and adhere-to format. For example, the community that I am involved in has an established “Constitution” which identifies community leaders, as well as addresses what’s expected of its members. To be blunt, the constitution merely points out a handful of ways in which to not be labeled an “Asshat”. While there is a constitution in place to provide clear and concise regulations for the members, these “rules” aren’t meant to “chain” us; these guidelines help to keep us free, in the sense that so long as everyone goes into the community with a positive attitude and vows to never blast another Practitioner, everyone is free to do as they please. Come to the events, participate, engage, or don’t; the community is there for you when you’re ready to be a part of it.
Understanding that for Unification to take place there must be some sort of guidelines established to protect its members, is a crucial stepping stone in the process. Once again, no one is expected to follow a singular individual, and no one is above anyone else, however, everyone must agree to uphold a level of “good behavior”.
Another “con” to be conscious of is “in-fighting”. While Unification boasts a chance for everyone to express themselves and voice their opinions, not all opinions are going to have the same “positive impact” on the community. There may be times when someone is offended, or a misunderstanding occurs. Additionally, there may be a time when it’s a case of “I’m right because I’ve been doing this longer than you” or “I’m a Hereditary Witch, so it’s my way or the highway”. Maybe a lover’s quarrel has broken out among community members—yikes! In either circumstance, there is always the possibility that these members may resort to malicious magic to settle their feuds, thus poisoning the Well in which all members of the community draw from. In the case of in-fighting, the need of specific community guidelines becomes more pertinent. There must be a way to handle these situations, whether it be sitting down with the individuals and bringing to their attention the overall affect of their actions on the community, to banishing them from the community. There is value on either side of the spectrum, depending on the severity of the “crime”. Each community is going to have its own set of guidelines for its members, and each community is going to treat each case differently. It’s your community, it’s your decision on much “poison” you want to allow in your “Well”.
Regarding “in-fighting”, sometimes this occurs when there is a “toxic” individual in the community. Maybe this person is an inherently jealous individual, maybe they are apathetic in nature, or (of course) there’s always the possibility that they are simply entitled. Either way, these types of people will always add a certain level of uncomfortableness to any community event, outing, or celebration. If this should occur, it may be worth having a sincere conversation with this individual and letting them know that if they wish to continue to practice within the community, they will need to change their behavior. While everyone is free to practice however they deem appropriate, the point of a democratic society is that everyone has the chance to vote on their “quality of life” within their community. If a certain individual is tainting the quality of the collective energy within the community, they need to be removed. It can be an ugly, and sometimes scary course of action, but it is essential for our continued survival. Once Unified, it is imperative that the community remains together.
Take it for what you will, but there is nothing more important that insuring our faith and way of life make it to the next generation. There have been leaps and bounds in the Pagan world but as mentioned earlier, there is still a lot of intolerance. Through the Unification of a community’s groups and individual members, while everyone still practices as they normally would, there is now an opportunity to make connections, support each other, and help raise each other up to place where no one can stand against us. In truth, this is a call to arms. For too long we have operated in the shadows out of fear of nonacceptance. Hand-in-hand take a stand and emerge from the shadows to thrive in the light. Encourage the members of your community to come together, get involved, and engage in community events and activities. It’s time that the Pagans have a say again in the world, and it can start with you! Take the question “Why should we?” and turn it into “Why haven’t we?” or “What’s stopping us?”. Tomorrow is too late, start today!
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