Pagan Community Questions

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by Veronica Cummer, author of Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft and Masks of the Muse

I’ve thought a lot about what makes a community, let alone a pagan one.  After attending many Pagan Prides where this topic always seemed to come up, whether there was a panel scheduled on it or not, it seems something that we pagans long for…but aren’t quite sure how to acquire and don’t understand why it is we don’t have one already.

Yes, pagans believe in many things and practice in many ways and there are countless traditions here in the Twin Cities (and, probably, more showing up all the time).  Yet…a community must be built around SOMETHING.  If we can’t agree on hardly anything, that makes it hard to have a community. At a Pagan Pride two years ago, I recall that a single room of assembled pagans, heathens, and witches could barely come to an agreement that we all considered Mother Earth to be sacred. It’s a long way from that to sharing something that can tie a community together with bonds that can withstand very tough times.

Still, when someone respected dies then it often happens that people pull together across traditions, especially when that person had a powerful effect on the local pagan scene over the years. A community forms around that passing, in a way, at least so long as its support is needed by those left behind. Also, perhaps,to express a common grief and recognition.

So…what builds a community?  The shorthand is the need for one…

But what is that that pagans need?  Well, we all need what others need, such as food, shelter, etc, but we also need religious freedom to believe what we believe and practice what we believe, either in our homes or in public. That’s pretty obvious. But that could be said about many communities, so what brings together pagans, heathens, and witches in particular?

Well, looking to the past, people used to gather together to work (physically and spiritually) for the prosperity of their home, their village, their land.  Magical people were at the forefront of those workings. If the magic failed…well, people would die.  What sort of prosperity do modern day pagans need to gather together to promote?  A lot of pagans don’t really know much about farming, and most farmers would look funny at you (or worse) if you went to their land and did rites for the crops to grow.  But there are other kinds of prosperity.

I don’t have a pat answer, but I feel that these are some of the questions.  WHAT kind of prosperity does the Twin Cities need and is lacking?  Or what does it currently have that needs further promoting or protecting?  First and foremost, pagans and witches are tied to the land…so what does the land need?  What do the people who live there need?  What can we do to help?  THAT’s what is needed to build a community—common goals and common purpose, even if we tend to try to get there slightly differently and believe half a dozen different things from each other before breakfast.

Copyright © 2009, Veronica Cummer, All Rights Reserved.

Comments

  1. So, of course, since ideas run in packs, Wild Hunt is also talking about Pagan Community and how a Pagan Group has come to an end: http://wildhunt.org/blog/2009/04/sometimes-pagan-groups-simply-end.html

  2. Joni Strandquest says:

    Up to my eyeballs, oddly enough, in this topic for school. There’s the umbrella Pagan Culture — and then the various Pagen subcultures operating here in the Twin Cities.

    For the different components (in order to look at, objectively understand and build community) check out http://www.coveringcommunities.org/ — although this link is written for journalists, it uncovers some simple, but basic elements that might otherwise be overlooked or stereotyped. The link on Layers of Civic Life is helpful in discerning the variety of formal and informal players that make up communities in general. Then there’s another link that displays the Seven Knowledge Keys for Understanding a Community.

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